Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus,
2 Timothy 1:5
The Moral Quality of Faith.
It is not often that the old reformer, preparing to quit the scene of his labours, bequeaths to his young successor such parting counsels as those of Paul to Timothy. The usual product of experience, especially of an experience gained in attempting a great moral revolution, is a certain caution and lowering of hope; and when, looking back upon the past, the spent enthusiast measures the smallness of his achievements, by the splendour of his early projects, he is tempted to regret the magnitude of his aims, and to advise for the future a zeal too temperate to live through the frosts of circumstances. Towards the end of life the precepts which flow naturally from our lips express themselves in negatives. It was otherwise with Paul. Would that every leader's voice could burst, as he falls, into such a trumpet-sound, thrilling the young hearts that pant in the good fight, and must never despair of victory!
II. The secret of the deep affection between the aged Apostle and the young disciple is to be found in a quality common to them both—that energy of faith which from its wondrous conquests over our lower nature, is by many regarded as supernatural. Faith is the natural hypothesis of a pure and good heart, whence it looks on the face of nature and of life, and deciphers and welcomes their Divine lineaments. There is a certain temper, often usurping the name of charity, which springs, not from faith, but from the utter want of it: an easy laxity, a good-natured indulgence towards the sinfulness of men, arising from mere dim-sightedness as to its reality; a smiling complacency to which character is indifferent, provided enjoyment and good-fellowship are unimpeded. The true charity is not that which thinks lightly of evil, but that which is slow to believe in it.
III. The germ of this moral defect of faith lurks in us all, and puts forth its tendency at least in transient moods, when the vision is dim, and the heart is low. In flat and heavy hours the tones of conscience are so muffled that by not esteeming we can miss them, and can say of the Holy Spirit, "It is nought." It is strange and sad how small and brief a darkness may quench for us an everlasting sun. It is an offence, not less against the calmness of reason, than the constancy of love, to be thus haunted by the visions of an untrustful mind, and like some poor sleep-walker, be led by ghosts of fear over marsh and moor till the home of rest be lost. Be it ours, in all things human and Divine, to keep the good hearts of faith; and as we accept the clearness of a brother's face, and the simplicity of his word, and the freedom of his affection, so we think ourselves open to the expression of God's life and love, in the beauty of the world, in the law of conscience, in the ample range of thought and aspiration, and in the promises already pressing for fulfilment, of saints and prophets.
J. Martineau, Hours of Thought, vol. i., p. 86.
References: 2 Timothy 1:6.—A. Raleigh, The Way to the City, p. 138; Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xviii., No. 1080. 2 Timothy 1:6, 2 Timothy 1:7.—G. Calthrop, Words to my Friends, p. 254. 2 Timothy 1:7.—Plain Sermons by Contributors to "Tracts for the Times" vol. i., p. 310. 2 Timothy 1:7-12.—Clergyman's Magazine, vol. ii., p. 211. 2 Timothy 1:8.—Preacher's Monthly, vol. vii., p. 343. 2 Timothy 1:9.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xii., No. 703; Ibid., Evening by Evening, p. 164; Clergyman's Magazine, vol. vi., p. 333. 2 Timothy 1:9-10.—G. E. L. Cotton, Sermons to English Congregations in India, p. 229.
2 Timothy 1:10Immortality.
I. Christ hath revealed the fact of immortality. Not that it was utterly unknown before. The Psalms contain it and other passages of the Old Testament; and partly the outgrowth of instincts deep buried in the hearts of men, and partly the results of early and ill-remembered revelations,—even those who had not the Bible, for the most part expected a life beyond the grave. But Christ and the Christian revelation have made an end of the matter. And Christ Himself laid down His life, and continued under the power of death for a time; but again He took up the life which He had so freely laid down, and now that He is risen and become the firstfruits of them that sleep we have in Him a specimen of the resurrection, and a guarantee of His people's immortality.
II. The Gospel has shed all the light we have on the nature of the life beyond, the mode or manner of immortality. On some points it says little or nothing, but all that we do know is announced, or by fair induction inferred, from the Gospels, from the Book of Revelation, from the Epistles to Thessalonica and Corinth.
III. The Gospel has not only brought immortality to light, but has revealed the means of reaching it. Christ might have come from the Father's house, and gone back to it, and yet might have been the only one from this world who did so; for He is the only one who has been here who has the intrinsic right and power to go thither. But to His friends He has extended His own right, and their immortality He has identified with His own. "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life "; and if you know the Lord Jesus rightly; if through Him, the Way, you have come to a reconciled God; and if through Him, the Truth, God's quickening Spirit has come into your soul, you will possess life so plenteously as not to dread the second death; you will be able to look calmly at the grave, and all intervening incidents, strong in the strength of conscious immortality.
J. Hamilton, Works, vol. vi., p. 365.
References: 2 Timothy 1:10.—T. Reed, Thursday Penny Pulpit, vol. xvi., p. 365; J. Vaughan, Fifty Sermons, vol. x., p. 92; S. A. Tipple, Echoes of Spoken Words, p. 177; A. K. H. B., Graver Thoughts of a Country Parson, 3rd series, p. 230; E. Bersier, Sermons, 1st series, p. 181; Good Words, vol. vi., p. 722; T. M. Herbert, Sketches of Sermons, p. 184; Homilist, 3rd series, vol. vii., p. 266; J. B. Paton, Christian World Pulpit, vol. vii., p. 52; W. Brock, Ibid, vol. viii., p. 328; J. B. Brown, Ibid., vol. xii., p. 305; E. Johnson, Ibid., vol. xiv., p. 200; Bishop Westcott, Ibid., vol. xxxv., p. 310; Homiletic Quarterly, vol. vi., p. 220.
2 Timothy 1:12I. There is about these words a sort of charm which eludes theological or critical analysis. They assert no historical fact. They can scarcely be said to affirm any moral principle; they establish not one single controversial doctrine. And yet, perhaps, there are hardly any words in the Bible more encouraging, more stimulating, more assuring, better worth remembering, for the spirit which they breathe, and the holy example of courage and of confidence which they set vividly before our eyes and heart. They present to us the visible image of a man exemplifying all that he had ever taught. He was crucifying himself to everything that was adverse to his duty. He was counting all things but dross compared with the great restoration which he was expecting in eternity, the recovery of all that in time he had deposited with Christ. His entire spiritual fortune was invested in that one venture.
II. St. Paul differed from most of mankind, no doubt, not less in the personal circumstances than in the moral altitude of his position. But as respects the relation between himself and his duty, and the principles on which his duty to God and man must be discharged, St, Paul differed no more from ourselves than we differ from one another. It is impossible that we should resolutely, honestly look our duty in the face, and do it, without encountering in one or more of all the regions of suffering, those, namely, of mind, body, or estate, some cross, according to God's providence, of lighter or more oppressive magnitude. But it is in the path of duty and not in the path of artificial martyrdom, that these sufferings must be encountered. We must have engrafted our life on that of Christ. We must be endeavouring to live in His Spirit and according to His will. Then we may confidently cast our care upon Him, assured that He careth for us.
W. H. Brookfield, Sermons, p. 36.
The Assurance of Faith.
I. The Faith. (1) It consists of trust in Christ, reliance on Him for salvation according to the revelation of the Gospel. (2) According to the Apostle, the personal surrender and the commitment of himself and of all his interests into the hand of Christ is the prominent distinction of faith.
II. The Assurance. (1) Like the faith with which it is connected, it is enlightened and intelligent, acquired and realised in the knowledge of Christ, in the personal acquaintance with Christ. (2) Another element in the assurance of the text is a full persuasion of Christ's ability to guard and keep with all fidelity to the very last the deposit which has been entrusted to Him. By way of practical application, note (1) that both the faith and the assurance are personal. (2) They are alike of present exercise. (3) Both the one and the other are nothing without Christ Himself.
E. Thomson, Memorials of a Ministry, p. 283.
It is refreshing in these days of hesitancy and doubt to hear such a note of certainty as rings in this avowal. It is a characteristic note of the New Testament writers. Their intellectual strength, their freedom from fanaticism cannot be questioned, and yet they are never doubtful about Christianity; their conviction is always distinct, strong, and imperturbable. Can we, from this avowal of the Apostle, gather any indications of the true grounds of Christian confidence?
I. Paul was now an old man—Paul the aged, as he designates himself—although probably he was not more than sixty-three when he was put to death. Few men had tested Christianity as he had done. (1) First, by the repeated investigations of a peculiarly keen intellect—in Damascus, in Arabia, and in Athens, and through thirty years of profound exposition and keen controversy. (2) Next by the sacrifice for it of possessions and prospects, the most attractive to an ardent, aspiring nature like his. (3) By endurances for it such as few undergo—stripes, imprisonment, deaths oft. And now he stands face to face with the last great test of fidelity to conviction; he is about to die for his beliefs. And throughout his letter there is not one dubious estimate, one faltering avowal. Not only is his Christian assurance confident, it exults, it vaunts itself. There is no mistaking the tone of this his final verdict upon Christianity. The very phraseology indicates the strength and the enthusiasm of his faith.
II. The Apostle does not rest his certainty upon an ethical basis and feeling of personal goodness. In Paul's theory of salvation by Christ, personal holiness never takes the place of a meritorious cause. It is simply the fruit and expression of Christ's great gift of life. Nor does Paul derive his certainty from any imaginative hopes of the eschatologist. Such confidence as he avows is clearly the product of intelligent testimony, of clear conviction, of long and diversified experience of Christian life. There can be no strong exulting certainty in mere peradventure. If immortal hope is to be assured to a man, his present life in Christ must be certain. "I know whom I have believed."
III. It comes then to this. The evidence upon which the Apostle relies is solely that of his personal experience of Christ. The certainty of an old saintly man like Paul—the certainty which is produced by a long Christian experience, that rests upon what Christ has been, in the manifold necessities of a strenuous life, in its arduous duties, fierce temptations, sore conflicts, depressions and sorrows,—becomes an absolute feeling as indubitable as life itself. For the life in Christ day by day generates the measure of your dying confidence, the strength of your trust. If your realisation of Christ be meagre, your assurance will be of corresponding feebleness. But if your assurance of Christ be large and continued through long years of life, then your faith will grow exceedingly, your confidence will take large forms, your avowals will find large expressions.
H. Allon, The Indwelling Christ, p. 143.
References: 2 Timothy 1:12.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. v., No. 271; vol. xvi., No. 908; J. M. Neale, Sermons in a Religious House, vol. i., p. 240; F. Greeves, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xviii., p. 129; J. Le Hurey, Ibid., vol. xxxiv., p. 51; Homiletic Quarterly, vol. iv., p. 113; vol. v., p. 28; Clergyman's Magazine, vol. iv., p. 78. 2 Timothy 1:12-14.—Spurgeon, Sermons", vol. xxxii., No. 1913.
2 Timothy 1:13Note:—
I. What the Apostle knew concerning Christ. The knowledge which he had of Christ, which inspires the confidence of which the text speaks, must have been knowledge relating either to the person or to the work of the Redeemer; and it may be worth while to consider for a few moments what it was the Apostle knew concerning the person of our blessed Lord, and what it was he knew concerning the office which the Redeemer came to discharge. Concerning the person of Christ, he knew that wonderful mystery, that in the person of Christ there were united the Divine and human natures. And more particularly he knew the omnipotent power which belonged to Christ. I speak of the power which belonged to Christ as Mediator, that power which God the Father conferred on Him in His capacity as Mediator, in order that it might be exercised for the welfare of His Church. The Apostle knew of this omnipotent power of Christ, and it was the knowledge which he had of that omnipotent power which inspired him with confidence in Christ, as able to discharge the trust which the Apostle had commended to his keeping. And he also knew of the infinite wisdom of the Redeemer. "In Him are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." All hearts are open to Him. From Him no thought can be concealed. But there is one other attribute belonging to the Saviour, which the Apostle must have known, and which contributed to strengthen his assurance in the Saviour, and that is the attribute of love and sympathy. Hence, the knowledge which the Apostle had of the power, wisdom, and love of Christ, conspired to make him feel an unhesitating assurance in the ability of Christ. Note, secondly, what the Apostle knew concerning the office of Christ. Generally he knew that God the Father had appointed Christ to the office of man's Redeemer. The Saviour had voluntarily undertaken that office, and manifested a determination to do and to suffer all that was necessary in order to ensure the result for which the office was undertaken. As our Redeemer He had bought us with His own blood. As the Advocate of His people He identifies Himself with their cause.
II. Notice next how it was that the Apostle acquired this knowledge, which enabled him to speak, with so much sure certainty, respecting Christ; one was from the testimony of others, the other from his own experience. (1) From the testimony of others, the uniform testimony of all time, with regard to the mode of salvation, has been that Christ is the one and the only foundation for the sinner's hope for eternity. In every dispensation, the Patriarchal, the Legal or Levitical, as well as the Gospel—the way of salvation has been but one. Prophets and righteous men of old, types and predictions, and ceremonies, all pointed to the Saviour as the one hope of the sinner, the one refuge in whom men may be invited to find shelter from God's wrath on account of sin. (2) And yet there was a fuller and firmer ground of confidence than this. Call to mind what his course had been. Once he was the most active amongst the persecutors of Christianity. But now so rich had been his experience of the sympathy, the love, the grace, the power, the wisdom, of Jesus, that he was able to say, "I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed to Him against that day."
Bishop Bickersteth, Penny Pulpit, new series, No. 95.
References: 2 Timothy 1:13. Plain Sermons by Contributors to "Tracts for the Times" vol. ii., p. 197; Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. ii., No. 79. 2 Timothy 1:14.—J. G. Rogers, Christian World Pulpit, vol. ix., p. 173. 2 Timothy 1:18.—E. Cooper, Practical Sermons, vol. iii., p. 214. 2 Timothy 2:1.—Spurgeon, Morning by Morning, p. 75; J. Thain Davidson, Sure to Succeed, p. 77; T. M. Herbert, Sketches of Sermons, p. 151. 2 Timothy 2:1-26.—Expositor, 1st series, vol. x., p. 291. 2 Timothy 2:2.—A. P. Stanley, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xi., p. 200.
To Timothy, my dearly beloved son: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
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;
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.
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.
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;
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:
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.
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 thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes.
The Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus; for he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain:
But, when he was in Rome, he sought me out very diligently, and found me.
The Lord grant unto him that he may find mercy of the Lord in that day: and in how many things he ministered unto me at Ephesus, thou knowest very well.