2 Timothy 2:1-14

Passing the Mantle.

2 Timothy 2:1-14

Endure suffering along with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. Soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life, for then they cannot please the officer who enlisted them.. – 2 Timothy 2:3-4 NLT

Paul was a man who was passionate about his calling and totally realistic about his situation. He was in prison in Jerusalem yet again, facing trial and the distinct possibility of losing his life. And while Paul felt like he had much work yet to accomplish for the Kingdom of God, he had to recognize that his days on this earth were numbered. So he began to focus his attention on men like Timothy, attempting to prepare and train them to carry on the work of spreading the Gospel and caring for the growing family of God. Paul encouraged Timothy to take all that he had him teach and pass it on to others. He wanted Timothy to find other “trustworthy people” with whom he could share the Gospel message and the truths regarding life as a Christ-follower.

The ministry to which Timothy had been called was not going to be easy. He had to have the mindset of a soldier, complete with a sense of dedication and a determination to persevere under trial, seeing his work as a form of spiritual warfare. Like a soldier, Timothy’s life was going to require focus and a freedom from distraction, even from the good things of life. “Soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life, for then they cannot please the officer who enlisted them” (2 Timothy 2:4 NLT). Like Paul, Timothy answered to a higher authority, the Sovereign God of the universe. He was enlisted into Kingdom service by God Himself and was to remain faithful to his King and his calling at all times. Paul reminded Timothy that a runner in a race must compete according to the rules if he wants to win. He can’t bend the rules or shorten the course in an attempt to gain victory unfairly or unethically. Winning is impossible without obedience, just as fruitfulness is impossible with diligent, faithful work. It is the farmer who works hard all year long who gets to enjoy the fruit of his labor at harvest time.

At this point in his letter, Paul made an interesting shift from Timothy and his responsibilities, to the life of Jesus. He refers to the Lord as Jesus Christ, the only place in all of his letters where he arranged His names in that order. It would seem that he was attempting to emphasize the humanity of Christ. He was Jesus the man and the Messiah. Paul tells Timothy, “Always remember that Jesus Christ, a descendant of King David, was raised from the dead. This is the Good News I preach” (2 Timothy 2:8 NLT). Jesus was a descendant of David and heir to the throne of Israel. He was also the Messiah of Israel. And yet He had to suffer and die. In order for Jesus to be raised from the dead, He first had to go through the agony and pain of the crucifixion. He had to endure separation from His Heavenly Father. And it was the reality of Jesus’ suffering, death, and ultimate resurrection that formed the basis for the Good News that Paul preached. It was the reason for which he suffered and for which he was willing to endure anything in order for its message to “bring salvation and eternal glory in Christ Jesus to those God has chosen” (2 Timothy 2:10 NLT). In referring to “those God has chosen,” the “elect” in other translations, it would seem that Paul is calling Timothy to endure hardship in order that those who have come to faith in Christ might grow in Christ. In other words, Paul is charging Timothy to see to it that the body of Christ is cared for and that he sees to its spiritual growth.

Paul included what appears to be a poem or song that may have been part of a hymn in the early church. It carried a message that called believers in Christ to live lives of faithfulness.

If we die with him,
    we will also live with him.
If we endure hardship,
    we will reign with him.
If we deny him,
    he will deny us.
If we are unfaithful,
    he remains faithful,
    for he cannot deny who he is. (2 Timothy 2:11-13 NLT)

It is a reminder to live our lives in light of the reality of the resurrection. In salvation, our old nature was crucified with Christ. But one day, we will also experience resurrection and eternal life with Him. This is the same point Paul made in his letter to the Romans. “And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him. We are sure of this because Christ was raised from the dead, and he will never die again. Death no longer has any power over him.” (Romans 6:8-9 NLT). Paul includes a sobering warning to remain faithful. Christ’s faithfulness is unwavering and is not based on our own faithfulness. He is unchanging and His faithfulness is part of His character as God. So, in light of Christ’s consistent and constant faithfulness to man, Paul challenged Timothy to live his life faithfully in return. Not only that, he was to call the people of God to faithfulness as well. Denial or rejection of Christ was unacceptable. Unfaithfulness was unthinkable. In view of all that Christ had done – His coming to earth as a man, His suffering at the hands of man, His death on behalf of man, and His resurrection to make possible the restoration of man – Paul saw no other response than a life of faithful, loving, grateful service to God in return.

Father, this life is not easy. It sometimes requires difficulty and suffering. But Your Son suffered on my behalf. He died so that I might live. He was raised again so that I might know that there is life beyond the one I experience on this earth. Help me keep my focus on eternity. Help me remember the unfailing faithfulness of Christ so that I might live faithfully in this life. Amen.

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

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