2 Timothy - Rules for Life, 1
Over the past few months, my desire has been to teach from passages of the bible that I believe are especially relevant to our situation today. These past months have been trying in many ways with the virus, shut-downs, isolation, riots, looting, political fighting, and more. People have had fear about their health, about their finances, about where our country is going. We are struggling with being alone, yet fear of going out. Christians want to stand for what is right and true, yet the media today continues to paint evangelicals as racist and hateful. This can also lead to fear.
So, in the past weeks, we have looked at examples from the scriptures of others who have faced extreme trials. We saw Daniel who walked with God through trials. We saw Nehemiah who also walked with God through trials. Both of these men were great examples who went to the Lord in prayer, and then were men of character who did what was right with boldness. They cared for others, and even pointed their enemies to the Lord.
As I considered today’s message, I felt that the next examples of people facing trials that we should study together are Paul and Timothy, from the letter of 2 Timothy. Someday, I do want to go back and complete the books of Daniel and Nehemiah. However, I believe the needs of the moment warrant moving over to 2 Timothy.
So, please open your bibles to 2 Timothy.
What is the setting for 2 Timothy?
2 Timothy was written by Paul in the mid 60’s AD. It is the last letter we have that Paul was inspired to write as scripture. He wrote it personally to Timothy, but it was meant to be read by believers as it has much instruction for us.
What is significant about when this was written?
Here is a timeline of Paul’s ministry.
What else is happening in the mid-60’s AD? Paul was executed by Nero in the mid 60’s.
In fact, when Paul wrote this letter, he was currently being held in prison in Rome.
You know that everyone in the province of Asia has deserted me, including Phygelus and Hermogenes. May the Lord show mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, because he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains. On the contrary, when he was in Rome, he searched hard for me until he found me.
Notice that Paul mentions he was in chains.
This was a second imprisonment in Rome. At the end of the book of Acts, Paul was in prison awaiting trial in Rome. That was around 60-61 AD. After that imprisonment, though we do not have it recorded in the scriptures, we have traditions handed down by early Christian writers that Paul was released and went on to preach the gospel all the way to modern day Spain.
However, when Nero began persecuting Christians around 64 AD, Paul was again arrested. When exactly we do not know. It may have been closer to 67 AD, when Paul was executed.
When Paul wrote this letter to Timothy, he had already been through a trial.
At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them.
Here Paul mentions to Timothy his trial, and how he had been abandoned by everyone.
How would that make you feel if after all your years of helping and ministering to others, everyone — save Onesiphorus who came and found him and Luke, who Paul mentions that Luke is with him in 2 Timothy 4:11 — abandoned you?
Even one of Paul’s closest companions left him. Demas was one of Paul’s coworkers who we see in both Philemon and Colossians.
And so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas and Luke, my fellow workers.
Our dear friend Luke, the doctor, and Demas send greetings.
But now in 2 Timothy 4:10, we find that Demas abandoned Paul.
for Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia.
One of Paul’s closest friends and coworkers left Paul for the things of the world.
Do you get the sense that Paul felt alone? I believe Paul was feeling very much alone as he sat in the prison. Tradition has it that he was held in what was called the Mammertime prison. This prision was essentially and underground cell with a hole in the ceiling for light, air, and receiving whatever rations were given. It would have been cold and dark. And Paul was an older man at this time. This is likely why Paul tells Timothy,
When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, and my scrolls, especially the parchments.
Paul was alone, cold, and needing encouragement. Soon.
When Paul concludes his letter, he asks Timothy to come quickly,
Do your best to come to me quickly,
Then, just a few verses later he says to Timothy,
Do your best to get here before winter. Eubulus greets you, and so do Pudens, Linus, Claudia and all the brothers and sisters.
Paul truly wanted to see Timothy. He was alone, and he knew that his time to die was near. He knew he was not going to be released as before, but rather that he would be executed.
For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
Yet, through it all, Paul wrote this letter not just to have Timothy come quickly, but to encourage Timothy.
Timothy did not have it easy either. Timothy had been ministering in Ephesus. Paul had a great ministry there years before, with many coming to faith in Christ.
However there was also opposition from the local silversmiths who sold idols.
Paul mentions this in the letter, and warns Timothy to look out for him.
Alexander the metalworker did me a great deal of harm. The Lord will repay him for what he has done. You too should be on your guard against him, because he strongly opposed our message.
Timothy faced a lot of opposition from those outside of the church in Ephesus, even all these years later. And, now with Nero persecuting Christians, I am sure Alexander and others took advantage of the situation to bring trouble to Timothy.
But Timothy didn’t just have opposition from those outside of the church. There were those who had been a part of the church that were causing problems as well.
In Paul’s first letter to Timothy, the content of the letter was to encourage Timothy and give direction for how the church was to properly function. There must have been issues going on that Paul was trying to address, and show Timothy how to handle.
Included in the issues were those who started to teach heresy in the church.
Timothy, my son, I am giving you this command in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by recalling them you may fight the battle well, holding on to faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and so have suffered shipwreck with regard to the faith. Among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme.
These men gave up the true faith, and the teaching of the Word of God and started teaching their own messages.
Apparently, even though they were were to be kicked out of the church, they were still around causing problems for the church.
In this letter, Paul mentions one again, along with another name,
Their teaching will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have departed from the truth. They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some.
From reading the letters to Timothy, and reading between the lines, it appears that Timothy was having a hard time as well.
Knowing that Timothy was struggling in the ministry at Ephesus, Paul, even while facing his own trial, ministers to Timothy, sending him encouragement and exhortation in this letter we call, 2 Timothy.
Knowing this background, I hope you understand why I thought this letter would be good for us to study at this time.
Paul was struggling. Timothy was struggling. They were both facing a lot of opposition and trials, after serving the Lord faithfully for years! they were facing opposition from those outside the faith. They were being abandoned by those who were in the faith, even some of those who were close coworkers for years. they were being misrepresented, and contradicted by those who had claimed to be of the faith.
Some of you are struggling. We have trials of health, trials of relationships, trials of financial hardship, trials of societal upheaval, trials of Christians being truly looked down upon in our culture. There are some who have lost relationships, and loved ones. Some of you know dear friends and loved ones who have abandoned the faith for the things of this world.
We can relate in a small way to what Paul and Timothy are going through.
And in it all, as we study 2 Timothy, we will find the encouragement that Paul found, and that he wanted Timothy and us to know as well.
So, lets begin our study! Are you ready? Let’s read the first few verses to get the bigger picture, and then break it down and see what the Lord has to teach us today.
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, in keeping with the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus, To Timothy, my dear son: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. I thank God, whom I serve, as my ancestors did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also. For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God. He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day. What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.
Paul understood why he was suffering. And, he knew where his confidence truly was found. What an example.
As I thought of this passage, it occured to me that in this passage, there are several Rules for Life. Do yo know what I mean by Rules for Life? Rules which are wise and which you will do well in life to follow.
In our house, we have several Measley rules for life, which help life run more smoothly, like:
Don’t get between someone and their coke or coffee.
Mild salsa is stupid. If you want mild salsa get a tomato.
Hot dog buns are for hot dogs, hamburger buns are for hamburgers, if you want a sandwich get bread.
Take your shoes off when coming inside the house.
Always cuddle with daddy.
Don’t hurt yourself, it’s painful.
If you don’t want to clean up, don’t make a mess.
Those are fun. However in this passage there are real rules for life which will truly help you.
Let’s begin working through the passage and see the Rules for Life which Paul shares with Timothy as he shares with him his own experience, and encourages him.
Let’s break this down.
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, in keeping with the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus,
Know who you are, and your purpose!
Know who you are, and your purpose!
Many people find their identity in what people think of them. Or, find their identity in their job. So when they lose their position, or they face opposition from others, or are abandoned by friends, they grow truly discouraged. They feel they have lost everything, including their identity. Who am I? What am I? What can I do? I am no longer at this job? I cannot do my job because people are against me. My friends and loved ones have left me. Who am I? What is my purpose?
When we go through trials, often we will be tempted to lose sight of who we are, and what our purpose is.
Paul faced all of that. However, even though the ones to whom he ministered may not have respected him or his position, even though he was persecuted for it, even though he was abandoned by others because of it, he still knew who he was. He was an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God! Who he was did not change with his present circumstances! God determined who he was. No one else defined him. God defined him.
How did God define him this way? Through the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus! What is the promise of life? That is the gospel, the good news!
Everyone in this world is born separated from God because of mankinds rebellion against God. Everyone of us, as rebels against God, are objects of his wrath and punishment. We are dead, separated from God.
In Ephesians, Paul describes it this way:
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.
Paul knew this because he was just like us. Even though he knew God, and studied the Bible, he was living as an enemy of God. He was living by manmade standards instead of truly hearing and believing what God said in the Old Testament. He refused to believe the testimony of Jesus! Then, Paul murdered innocent Christians. He knew what he was talking about.
We all live our own way instead of listening to God. We all, at times, do what we want even when we know it goes against what God says is right. We all lie at times. We all covet what others have. We all murder people with our anger in our hearts. Therefore, we are dead, separated from God our source of life. We deserve God’s wrath.
However, as Paul goes on to explain in Ephesians,
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.
Even though we rebelled against God, as Paul did, God loved us! God in his mercy, did not give us what we deserve and destroy us. God in his grace gave us what we did not deserve; he sent Jesus to die in our place!
Now, God does not make it difficult. He does not expect us to live up to His holy standard in order to be forgiven and saved from sin. He expects us to receive what Jesus did for us. He wants everyone to repent, change their mind about their way instead of following God’s way. He wants everyone to believe in Jesus who loved us and died for us.
For everyone who believes, God declares them forgiven and righteous. He makes them alive in Christ. He makes them his own child!
Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—
Paul cherished that promise of life. He held onto that. He knew that no one could take away that life that God gave to him. No one could change the fact that he was a child of God who could never be separated from the love of his heavenly Father!
As he sat, often alone, in that cold miserable cell, as he stood alone at his trial, having been abandoned by his closest companions, as he was forsaken by those to whom he had faithfully ministered over the years, he knew that,
What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
That is the promise of Life in Jesus! Paul held onto who he was through the promise of life.
He was now a child of, and ambassador for God! God had changed him and gave him a whole new life in Jesus.
No matter what comes, do you know who you are? You are not defined by what other people think of you. You are defined by the God who loved you and gave His life to save you and give you a whole new life and purpose! You are His child! You are His servant. You are His ambassador to a lost and dying world! Nothing can change that! No one else’s opinion matters! Never forget that.
Know who you are! Know who God says you are! Know your God-given purpose!
To Timothy, my dear son: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
Know from where grace, mercy and peace come
Know from where grace, mercy and peace come
I thank God, whom I serve, as my ancestors did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers.
Have a clear conscience
Have a clear conscience
Know who you are and your purpose
Know from where grace, mercy and peace come
Have a clear conscience