2 Timothy 1:1-7
Life in the Local Church
Paul’s Final Letter
Good Morning! Let’s go ahead and grab our Bibles and open them up to 2 Timothy, chapter 1. If you do not have a Bible, please grab one from the back table as our gift to you.
We are starting the letter of 2 Timothy. Last week we finished 1 Timothy. These two letters are written by the Apostle Paul to his friend, his child in the faith, his disciple, Timothy.
This letter, 2 Timothy, is the last letter that Paul would write that we have record of. It was written during his second Roman imprisonment, when Paul was awaiting the trial before the Caesar that he knew would end in his execution. Paul knew the end of his life was coming. And you can hear it coming through in this letter as you read it.
Timothy, at this time, was still in Ephesus, and the false teaching that needed to be addressed were still an issue. And we are going to hear more about Timothy’s family, especially his mother and his grandmother as we go through this letter.
Paul is writing to Timothy, and he is addressing thinks that Timothy needs to hear and needs to address in Ephesus. But Paul is looking back at his life and his ministry and passing on what he knows to Timothy, and he is looking ahead and looking forward to being with the LORD. As one commentator says, “He had been faithful to Christ and Christ himself is faithful.”
So, lets go ahead and read the opening section of the letter, this week’s passage, 2 Timothy, chapter 1, verse 1-7. I will be reading out of the English Standard Version and I encourage you to follow along in your preferred translation. 2 Timothy 1:1-7, Paul opens his letter, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, writing the very Word of God, writes to Timothy:
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God according to the promise of the life that is in Christ Jesus, To Timothy, my beloved child: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and our mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. 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 God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
May God Bless the Reading of His Holy Word.
Paul starts of his letter as he does his other letters and as is customary for letter of that time, and he starts off with who he is. First and foremost, above all things, Paul is an Apostle of Christ Jesus. Apostle is the term given to the 12 specific disciples that are mentioned in the scriptures, and to Paul. In order to be an Apostle, you had to have been personally taught by Jesus. This is a main reason why the office of Apostle is closed today. You also had to be called. Not just everyone who was taught by Jesus was called to be an Apostle. The word Apostle means sent one. They were the ones sent by Christ to build the early church.
And it was by the will of God that Paul was indeed an Apostle. Exception for divine intervention, he would not have been qualified even. He did not follow Jesus and was not taught by him during Jesus earthly ministry. However, after Paul encounter with the living Christ on the Road to Damascus, Jesus did personally teach Paul all the things that Paul needed to know and so Paul became an Apostle.
One of the things that we see through Paul is that our calling is solely by the will of God. We don’t get to choose what we are called to. God chooses. Paul was content to continue doing what he was doing, persecuting the early church, chasing down, imprisoning, and sometimes stoning the leaders of the early church. It was only because God chose him to be an Apostle of Christ Jesus that Paul was willing, able and did change into the man who wrote most of the New Testament and spread the Gospel to the ends of the known earth at the time.
So, we don’t get to choose what God uses us for, what He has called us to. God, in His infinite and all-knowing wisdom, he knows our gifts, our strengths and where we will fit thee best because he made us with them and made us that way. He also knows our weaknesses and how he can use them to achieve his will and his goals.
Paul himself writes in 2 Corinthians 12:9, But he said to me, R10“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
As I can testify from my own experiences, it is natural to assume that what ever our natural strengths are, that is what God will call us to use for him. We assume, naturally, that whatever our weaknesses are, that’s not where God will call us and that’s not what God will use. But it is often where our weaknesses are that God will call us so that we, and others around us can see the power of God.
And part of that call, part of being a sent one by God is that Paul may proclaim and share the life that is in Christ Jesus. The promise of everlasting life in the kingdom of God. Eternal and abundant life as children of God, co-heirs with Christ.
And Paul offers greetings to Timothy, his spiritual child, his child in the faith, one of the people who is closest to Paul, closer than almost anyone else. Grace, Peace and Mercy to you. Peace was often included in most greetings in those days, but adding Grace and Mercy was uniquely Christian. Thinking about the various religions of the day, those were uniquely Christian ideas.
Grace, Peace and Mercy are what we receive from God the Father and therefore are what we should wish for and on those around us. Gods grace is the only hope we have for that promise of everlasting life in Christ Jesus.
After that initial, customary greeting, Paul writes on one of the things he is most thankful for. Remember his circumstances. In prisoned, awaiting a trial that he knows he will lose, expecting to be executed because of that verdict, many have abandoned him, as we will see in this letter. And he starts off focusing on what he must give thanks for.
And Paul gives thanks that he remembers to pray for Timothy and to pray often. Paul considers it an honor to pray for Timothy. He considers it an honor to pray for those close to him. We should consider it an honor to pray for those in our lives, friends, family, and the like.
What greater honor can there be than to lift the praises, the troubles, the struggles, the stresses and the successes of those who we love, those who are close to us, and yes, even those whom we don’t actually know, but lift up all there stuff and give it over to the hands of the All Mighty, All Powerful, Father God, the name above all names.
Its why we encourage you often to pray for and talk to the family of the week that we have listed in our bulletins. Its why I encourage you to read the prayer requests and pray for the Village Missionaries of the Week. We have the prayer requests listed on the back of the bulletin that we do encourage you to read and pray for throughout the week. We have a list, that we are updating, that we pray through on Wednesday mornings so that everyone in this church gets prayed for in a rotation. If nothing else, pray through the church directory, praying for each person in this church by name. Paul considered it an honor to be able to [ray for others and we should recognize the honor it is as well.
Paul remembers Timothy’s tears and, and in remembering them, he longs to see Timothy once more before he dies, thinking of the joy that the visit would fill him with. The context of this sentence leads most commentators and theologians to conclude that the tears that he mentions of Timothy were tears that were shed the last time they separated.
Again, we see the closeness between the two friends, and the Christian, godly love that exists here is powerful. We also, we see woven through everything, is that Paul knows the end is near. He knows it is coming. And he desires to see, one more time, those who are closest to him, those who are most important to him. He wants to see them before he leaves this world and enters the perfect next world and Timothy is at the top of that list.
Part of their closeness, the closeness of their relationship, their friendship seems from verse 5, to stem from their shared faith, their sincere faith. And we see in this verse, where does this sort of faith often start?
Most often, and most fruitfully, faith like that, true saving, life defining faith, starts in the home. Timothy’s mom and his grandmother laid the foundation and taught him the faith. But He does not have his mom’s faith or his grandmother’s faith, at some point, it became his own faith. That’s something that is, I know its hard for me as a parent, to realize that I can’t give my kids faith. Parents, we cannot give them, or will them, or force them, or pressure them into having faith, even saving faith in Christ. We can only give them the foundations and the information and the example. It is up to them to make that faith their own. Paul references Timothy’s family as well, later in chapter 3, but we see that the example and the education was set at home that enable Timothy to then have the sincere faith that Paul sees dwelling in him.
In verse 6, Paul starts telling Timothy some of the things that he is writing to him to tell him. Timothy, because of your sincere faith, don’t forget to use the gifts and do the work that God has call you too! With energy and passion! Use your gifts!
Charles Spurgeon, commentating on this verse, remarked, “That which is expended in the master’s service is laid up I heaven where neither moth nor rust can corrupt.” His point was that whatever we are called to do for the LORD, we will never regret doing it in the long run.
It was likely that Timothy was not being as strong or as bold with his gifts and his responsibilities as he was supposed to be. We see in these two letters that Timothy tended towards timidity. We don’t know exactly what that looked like or why.
It could have been that he had a fear of man, that he struggled with. It could have been that he was unsure of his own rightness. It could have been trying to be respectful and erring to far to that side. It could have been being uncomfortable with confrontation. It could have been not being confident in his own knowledge or skills. Timothy was young and he may not have been securely established in his studies in his own mind.
Either way, what ever the reason, we can see exactly what RC Sproul comments on this verse when he says, “The strong expression of ‘fan into flame the gift of God,’ suggests that Timothy was being less forceful than he should have been in using the Spiritual Gift God had given him.”
Paul had told Timothy in the last letter; just how important it was to stand up to those false teachers and to those causing divisions. Timothy was to use the gifts that God had given him to lead the church in Ephesus in knowing and teaching and learning and worshipping the Truth that is the One True God.
We are all given gifts by God, spiritual gifts. And we are all given different, individual gifts. We are given them for specific reasons. We are given them as in different body parts of the same body. We all have a role to play in Gods grand plan. We are all called to do different things, to play different parts, to fill different needs, just as all the different parts of the body fill different roles.
I love this illustration I read this week by Charles Spurgeon:
The great householder has apportioned to every servant a talent; no single part of a vital body is without its office. True, there are some parts of the body whose office has not been discovered- even the physician and the anatomist have not been able to tell why certain organs are in the human frame or what use the serve, but as even these are found to be necessary, we are sure they fulfill some useful purpose. Some Christians might be put in that category. It might puzzle anybody to know what they are capable of, and yet it is certain they have some charge committed to them to keep. And if true believers, they are essential parts of the body of Christ. As every beast, bird, fish and insect has its own place in nature, so has every Christian a fit position in the economy of grace. No tree, no plant, no weed could be dispensed without injury to nature’s perfection; and neither can any sort of gift or grace be lost to the church without injury to her completeness.
God knows what he is doing. If he has given gifts, or talents or anything, he has done so for a reason, to be used for the benefit of the church, to build up the body of believers for the body to bring glory to God. But if those gifts are not being used, the body suffers. And when one body part tries to be a different one, one that already exists, or is taken, the body suffers.
As an example, if too many people try to lead, nobody goes anywhere. Both sayings prove to be true. Many hands make light work. But, at the same time, it is so easy to have too many cooks in the kitchen.
The natural human tendency, as we see with Timothy here, is to be nervous, to not want to rock the boat or to cause waves. Its natural to be nervous about using the gifts God has given, especially when confronting people or doing things that are outside of our comfort zone.
But in verse 7, Paul writes, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. We are not to have a Spirit of Fear, because God hasn’t given us one. How many times does the Bible say some variation of “Do not be afraid?” My favorite, the one that has been with me since I first started reading the Bible, the first verse that grabbed me and the first verse I memorized, Joshua 1:9 in the NIV:
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
God spends so much of the Old Testament telling Israel and the Israelites that they should not be afraid because He is God and He is on their side. And then he goes and proves why they don’t need to be afraid. Jesus tells his followers in the New Testament that they don’t need to be afraid.
And yet its so easy to fall back onto. Fear, fear of failure, fear of being wrong, fear of all sorts of things. But God does not give us a spirit of fear, but one of power, of LOVE and of Self-control.
I think those last two keep us from going all out with the first. We act with power, but we act out of love and with self-control. And that’s important. Because with great power comes great responsibility. This does not mean that we are to bully people into doing what we think or know is right. It does not mean that we must speak up every time a thought or an argument or a correction pops in our head. Part of the self-control is knowing and learning when not to speak up and knowing and learning how to speak up in those situations. The point Paul is making is that when we are supposed to speak up, to not be afraid.
This letter from Paul, his last one, is one the most emotional, heartfelt letters that we have in Scripture. WE see that here as he opens this letter to Timothy. Through everything, Paul is not afraid of the death that is coming, rather, wishes there was more for him to do, for the kingdom. And so, he is sharing these things with Timothy, with us so that we may see how to continue in true, right service to the LORD our God.