Gaebelein's Annotated Bible
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus,Analysis and Annotations
I. PAUL’S PERSONAL WORD TO TIMOTHY
1. Paul’s affectionate words and confidence (2Timothy 1:1-5) 2. Difficulties and assurance (2Timothy 1:6-12) 3. Holding the form of sound words (2Timothy 1:13-14) 4. Turning away and faithfulness in contrast (2Timothy 1:15-18)
2. Difficulties and assurance (2Timothy 1:6-12)
3. Holding the form of sound words (2Timothy 1:13-14)
4. Turning away and faithfulness in contrast (2Timothy 1:15-18)
Paul speaks in this last Epistle as an apostle of Christ Jesus, by the will of God “according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus.” It is a blessed word and shows how the prisoner in Rome, facing now the martyr’s death, had full assurance that all was well. He knew that he was in the hands of God. The promise of life in Christ Jesus was his portion; he possessed that life in Him who ever liveth. Again he addressed Timothy as his beloved son (1Timothy 1:2) with the greeting of grace, from which all blessings flow, mercy, so constantly needed by all His own, and peace, which his people know and enjoy, who look to Him alone for grace and mercy. The apostle speaks of the past; he had served God, so had his forefathers, with a pure conscience (Acts 23:1); they had been pious, God-fearing Jews.
This also had been the case with Timothy. There was unfeigned faith in him, which dwelt first in his grandmother, Lois, and in his mother, Eunice. Both Lois, the grandmother, and his own mother, who had a Greek for a husband (Acts 16:1) had trained the child Timothy in the Holy Scriptures (the Old Testament) and he had known them from the earliest childhood (2Timothy 3:15). Therefore when the gospel of Christ was presented to them this unfeigned faith laid hold upon it at once. It was good ground which had been prepared to receive the gospel-seed. Thus it should be in the Christian household. The promise is “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved and thy house.” (Acts 16:31). Unfeigned faith will be produced in the young by instructing them out of the Word of God, for “faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:17). Without ceasing Paul remembered Timothy in his prayers night and day. He remembered his tears, occasioned no doubt by the second imprisonment. How he desired to see his beloved son to be filled with joy!
“Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up (stir up in a “flame” or “rekindle”) the gift of God, which is in thee by the laying on of my hands.” God had used Paul as the instrument in bestowing a gift upon Timothy. This gift needed rekindling. The danger of decline, which began even then to be manifested, is evident by this exhortation. The rekindling of a gift needs constant use of the Word of God and fellowship with the Lord, as well as a prayerful exercise of the gift itself. And the Spirit given of God to minister is not a spirit of fear, or cowardice, fearing men and conditions, but a spirit of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. Therefore he was not to be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, which men began to reject, nor of him, who was now the prisoner of the Lord. It was Timothy’s blessed calling and privilege to be a partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God. He was not to shrink from the reproach and difficulties which then set in, but to endure it all, enabled by His gracious power.
The gospel may be rejected and despised, so that the enemy seemingly is victorious, but finally the Lord and His truth will have the complete victory. The believer knows this amidst all present difficulties and discouragements, for God “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.” (This refers to the first promise in Genesis 3:15, the promise of life, salvation and final victory.) “Before the world began” does not mean eternity, but the time before the dispensations, “the age-times,” began. And all 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. The full accomplishment and victory comes when He who abolished death by His death on the cross, and triumphant resurrection, comes again. Paul was the herald of this gospel to all men, to Jews and Gentiles. It was for this he suffered, and he was not ashamed. He knew all he passed through, all reproach, all afflictions, would not leave him ashamed. He knew the Lord and His power. “For I know whom I believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day.”
“The apostle does not say ‘in what I have believed,’ but ‘whom,’an important difference, which pleases us (as to our confidence) in connection with the person of Christ Himself The apostle had spoken of the truth, but truth is allied to the person of Christ. He is the truth; and in Him truth has life, has power, is linked with the love which applies it, which maintains it in the heart and the heart by it. ‘I know,’ says the apostle, ‘whom I have believed,’ He had committed his happiness to Christ. In Him was that life in which the apostle participated; in Him, the power that sustained it, and that preserved in heaven the inheritance of glory which was his portion where this life was developed” (J.N. Darby).
Next he exhorts Timothy to hold fast the form of sound words. “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.” This is one of the most important exhortations of this Epistle, and of special meaning for all believers who, in these days of departure from the truth, contend earnestly for the faith delivered once for all unto the saints. The expression “the form of sound words” is a strong argument for verbal inspiration. The truth of God is conveyed in the very words of God, and therefore the form in which the truth of God is made known is to be maintained. It is all to be held fast in faith and love, which are in Christ Jesus. It does not mean a certain creed constructed by man, but the whole truth of God as revealed by Him. And whatever good thing is committed unto the believer, in the form of a gift as a member of the body of Christ, must be kept by the energy and power of the Holy Spirit, who dwells in the believer. What we have received, the knowledge of the form of sound words and the gift imparted, must be used. “in proportion as we do not care to communicate to others the ‘sound words’ which we have received, we shall find their power over our own souls diminish and their sweetness for us also.”
Apostasy starts with the giving up of the form of sound words. Critics and other deniers of inspiration speak of the spiritual meaning of the words of the Bible, and, that the Bible contains the Word of God, instead of is the Word of God. And that is the starting point of the ever increasing departure from the truth of God in our days, which will soon culminate in the predicted complete apostasy.
All in Asia (the province) had heard the Gospel in years gone by from the lips of the apostle. And now the great man of God had to write mournfully: “This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes.” It would be wrong to conclude from this that they had turned their backs completely upon Christianity and abandoned the profession of it. Such was not the case. Their faith had become weak and they had withdrawn from the apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, because he had become a despised prisoner, and with this act they showed likewise that they were departing from the great and blessed doctrines the Apostle had preached unto them. Perhaps some of those in Asia had visited Rome and had repudiated Paul the prisoner. It was an evidence of the spiritual decline which was setting in.
But there was a notable exception. Onesiphorus had also visited Rome and had diligently sought him and found him finally. There were many thousands of prisoners in Roman dungeons, and we may well imagine how day after day Onesiphorus sought for his beloved brother, going from dungeon to dungeon till he had located Paul. What a meeting that must have been! He had ministered to Paul in Ephesus, which was well known to Timothy, and now he was not ashamed to minister unto the prisoner of the Lord. He prays therefore for his house and that he may find mercy of the Lord in that day. The reward for his faithfulness to Paul will be mercy, as everything else is mercy in the believer’s life.
(Strange it is that the prayer of the Apostle for the house of Onesiphorus is used as an authority to pray for the dead. The assumption that Onesiphorus had died is incorrect.)