This letter to Timothy is believed to be Paul’s last letter. This letter is Paul’s personal thoughts as he faces a trial that is not going favorably and likely will end with his death. In this emotional letter, Paul is encouraging his young protege. Timothy is the son of a Greek father and a Jewish mother. He is the minister at the church that Paul started in Ephesus. History is not clear on how Timothy died, but the general consensus is that he was killed in Ephesus trying to stop a pagan festival honoring false gods. His death is recorded as being near or around the time that John was exiled to Patmos. Though the letter is not a very long letter, it reminds Timothy and us, from beginning to end, to keep the important things important. Know who Jesus is, stand firm in the commitment of your calling, prepare to suffer for Christ, and defend the gospel you have witnessed and know to be true.
I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers with pure conscience, that without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day;
Paul is not complaining and asking for a way out of his situation. Paul has resigned himself to the fact that he will suffer for Christ even unto death. He tells Timothy that he is thanking God for him. He has faced a multitude of difficulties to be a faithful servant to Jesus Christ. He wants Timothy to know that his current occupation is to pray continually that those carrying the gospel will continue in his absence. The God of heaven is being petitioned in earnest, because God will be with Timothy as faithfully as He has been with Paul. How often do we pray in such earnestness for the ministry of others?
Greatly desiring to see thee, being mindful of thy tears, that I may be filled with joy; When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also.
Relationships between believers can grow deep, and the pain of being separated from one another can be intense. He takes a minute to encourage and remind Timothy that he understands and that he is strengthened when he remembers that his faith is strong. In large part, the foundation of the success of the Ephesian church can be attributed to the faith of Timothy’s family. Timothy comes from a family that believes in and trusts Jesus Christ as their Savior. As is fitting a mentor, Paul reminds Timothy that he is confident in Timothy’s sincere service to God. Paul believes in him. How encouraging it must be to hear that a man of faith, like Paul, believes in you.
Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.
The laying on of hands is something that is not always familiar in today’s church. Scripturally, the laying on of hands was a sign of support or authentication with a particular spiritual situation. It is usually followed by a charge ( which is a direction in their duty before God) and prayer. In the same way that Abraham in the Old Testament gave a blessing to Isaac, the blessing was passed down in each succeeding generation. The New Testament believers prayed in the power of the Holy Spirit while placing their hands upon someone chosen for ministry. By doing so, they signified that the success or failure of that man rested foremost on God, but that they also had a part and responsibility in the matter.
Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied (Acts 19: 4-6)
Paul, in an earlier message, tells Timothy not to lay hands too quickly, basically, know who labors with you before conveying a spiritual responsibility.
Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men's sins: keep thyself pure(1 Timothy 5:22).
There is something to a covenant of prayer made between God and believers united in the purpose of fulfilling the will of God. Paul reminds Timothy, we agreed, and I showed my authentication or support for your ministry by laying on of hands and prayer. In other words, don’t forget I had confidence in you then, and I still do.
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God;
It is reasonable for Paul to discern that his imprisonment and death might cause Timothy to struggle in his faith or become fearful. It might cause believers to have a wrong perception of Paul and his ministry. He asks Timothy to look to God in all circumstances, in light of God’s power and love, with a sound mind, and not through fear. It would be natural to retreat, to avoid speaking of Jesus publicly to avoid persecution. Paul’s advice is to openly continue spreading the gospel, being willing to suffer in this life if necessary because the life to come is far more important. As an elder teaching a younger, Paul is more keenly aware that this life does not offer lasting comfort or fulfillment. The eternal life granted in Christ is worth living and dying for. Jesus is worthy of our full commitment, He is the only way to God. Afflictions do not mean God is against us, and honestly, they will come to each of us, whether we live as Christians or not. This is not a perfect world for anyone. How much greater is it to have our suffering redeemed and used for the glory of God? Count it all joy, because what would it profit a man to gain the whole world, and to lose his soul?
Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:
Timothy wasn’t chosen because he was a brilliant man who was gifted above all others, he was chosen because God poured his grace on him and gave him a purpose for living. God is sovereign. He decides the calling in our lives, and it is often the case that God appoints us tasks that are outside of our comfort zone. Why? Because we have a tendency to bask in our own glory and destroy ourselves with pride. God can use anyone who is humble enough to depend on Him. The perfect example is the plan of salvation. The grace of God put in place before the foundation of the world, and through generation upon generation of flawed and ignorant men, He accomplished His perfect world.
Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.
The purpose of Paul’s imprisonment by Rome was intimidation. The purpose of his execution was to strike terror in anyone who would dare to claim that Jesus Christ was more powerful than Caesar. Paul says, don’t back up. He said, I am suffering this fate because I know the one who I believe, personally. You see, on the road to Damascus, he saw a great light… He heard the voice of God, he felt His power which resulted in his blindness. Paul will not back up from who he knows as the son of the True and Living God. He has made up his mind that death can’t stop Jesus. An empty tomb on the outskirts of Jerusalem is a witness to the power of God over the grave. What has Paul committed unto God? His soul. To be separated from his physical body is not the end but the beginning of life everlasting. Are you persuaded? Can you look your family members and friends in the eye without hesitation and assure them that there is so much more than this life to live for? Are you unwavering in your determination that Christ can keep you and will remain present with you beyond this life and for eternity afterward? If not, you can be. The world of God is true, it has withstood millennia of scrutiny and opposition to stand unchanged and untainted by its enemies. Timothy needed to know. We need to know that, especially in our suffering, we must stand firmly with our trust in God. Never be ashamed of Jesus, and never back up from the gospel. God is able to keep what we have entrusted to Him. Paul wants to be sure that Timothy is not discouraged by what he sees and hears but that he stands boldly in what he KNOWS.
For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. (Romans 8:18)
Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us.
We come to God because he calls us. He calls us because He wants a relationship with each of us. He has a purpose for every individual, and while it may look different for each of us, that purpose is the spreading of the gospel.
For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance. (Romans 11:29)
Paul is modeling what the elder Christians should share with the younger ones. The Word of God is truth. It doesn’t fail. It isn’t wrong. It will stand through eternity. Measure every thought by what the scripture says about it. Take what is right, and discard what is not right. Walk as closely to Jesus as you can so that you can abound in faith and love. Be led by the Holy Spirit, He will solidify your decisions and your direction. Stand boldly in whatever God’s calling is in your life. Do not make decisions based on feelings, but upon the truth of God. Stand boldly on the promises of God, despite persecution, and be thankful that He provides the power to make your calling and election sure.
Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: (2 Peter 1:10).
Thank you for studying with us! God bless!