2 Timothy 1:1-14
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus,…
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, according to the promise of the life which is in Christ Jesus, to Timothy, my beloved child: Grace, mercy, peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. The language is similar to what is found in other of Paul's Epistles. The peculiarity is that his apostleship is here associated with the promise of the gospel, which like a rainbow spans our sky in this dark world. It is the promise by preeminence; for its object is life, which is a name for all that can be needed here, or manifested under better conditions. It is a promise which has actually secured sure footing in Christ Jesus, being the realization of the sure mercies of David. But, in order that this promise may become the means of life to men, it must be proclaimed; and this points to the employment of an instrumentality by God. It was according to the promise in this view that Paul was employed as an apostle. It is further to be observed that his true child in the First Epistle is here his beloved child. If the one points to the possession of his spirit, the other points to the love that is properly founded on it. Good past to be followed by a good future.
1. Personal association in giving thanks. "I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers in a pure conscience." He implies that Judaism was the forerunner of Christianity, and lays claim to the possession of a godly ancestry. The pure conscience (notwithstanding Acts 23:1) is not to be absolutely applied to his whole life. He did turn aside from the godly direction in an unenlightened and culpable resistance to Christianity as seeming to threaten the existence of his inherited and beloved Judaism. But in the Christian position which he had so long maintained, as he had been indebted to godly forefathers, so he had preserved the godly continuity in his family. It is in view of what he has to say about Timothy that he makes this pleasing and interesting reference to his forefathers.
2. Feelings toward Timothy in giving thanks for him. "How unceasing is my remembrance of thee in my supplications, night and day longing to see thee, remembering thy tears, that I may be filled with joy." Always in the underground of the apostle's consciousness, the thought of his beloved Timothy came up uninterruptedly at his times of devotion. Every night and morning he felt the spell - so tender was this strong man's heart - of the tears shed by Timothy at their parting; and the desire rose within him that he might be filled with the joy of another meeting.
3. Matter for thanksgiving in Timothy's faith which was hereditary. "Having been reminded of the unfeigned faith that is in thee; which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and, I am persuaded, in thee also." Something had come to the apostle's knowledge which reminded him of the reality of Timothy's faith. It was not feigned faith, that fails under trial. The apostle thinks of it as a kind of heirloom in the family. He could go back himself to two ancestresses of his in whom it dwelt. There was first Lois, his grandmother, who, we can believe, besides being godly according to the Jewish type, was before her end a Christian believer. She had to do with her daughter Eunice becoming a Christian believer. We are told of Eunice, in Acts 16:1, that she was a Jewess who believed, while her husband was a Gentile. She in turn had to do with her son becoming a Christian believer. The apostle had all the greater confidence in the reality, and also vitality, of Timothy's faith that (apart from Jewish influences of a godly nature) he was a Christian believer of the third generation. We have the promise that God will keep covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations. God's intention is that godly and Christian influence should be transmitted. He made one generation to follow another, proceeded on a principle of succession and not of contemporaneousness, that he might thereby have a godly seed (Malachi 2:15). The best established Christians are among those who are of a godly stock. Therefore let the godly upbringing of the young be attended to. At the same time, let those who have had the advantage of a godly upbringing see that they are not left behind by those who have been reclaimed from ungodly society.
1. Timothy is to stir up his gift. "For the which cause I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee through the laying on of my hands." Paul is an adept at exhortation. Timothy, from the memory of Lois and Eunice, must catch fire. Nay, he had a personal association with Timothy, in having laid hands on him at his ordination. On that ground he can call upon him to stir up the gift then received, viz. the ministerial gift. Let him be true to his duties as a minister of Christ.
2. Confirmatory reason pointing to special exhortation. "For God gave us not a spirit of fearfulness; but of power and love and discipline." Let him stir himself up against cowardice to which, as persecuted, he was exposed, and by this consideration that the imparted spirit in its amplitude excludes cowardice. It is a spirit of power. God has no jealousy of us; he wishes to be served with our strength and not with our weakness. It is a spirit of love; warmth of feeling, and not coldness, God would put into our service. It is a spirit of discipline. So far as this is to be distinguished from the other two words, it points to the guidance of reason. God wishes to be served, not with our ignorance, but with our well disciplined thoughts. With more power in our wills, with more glow in our affections, with more reason in our thoughts, we shall not cower before opposition.
3. Timothy is called upon to be specially on his guard against false shame. "Be not ashamed therefore of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but suffer hardship with the gospel." "Shame attends fear; when fear is conquered false shame takes flight" (Bengel). He had no reason for being ashamed on account of his association with the Lord to whom he testified. Neither had he reason for being ashamed on account of his association with Paul, who was not the Lord's servant, but, more honourably (Galatians 6:17), the Lord's prisoner, i.e. by the will of Christ, more than by the will of Caesar - a prisoner, the disposal of him extending to the time, and all the circumstances, of his imprisonment. To suffer hardship with the gospel involves an unusual collocation of person and thing. It is usual to interpret the hardship as being suffered with Paul for the gospel. But as the thought requires the fixing of the attention, not on the second, but on both of the preceding clauses, it is better to leave indefinite with whom he is associated in suffering hardship.
4. Reason against false shame in the power of God. "According to the power of God." The idea is that we should be free from shame in suffering for the gospel, according to the power on which we have to rely.
(1) It is a saving power. "Who saved us, and called us with a holy calling." Power has already been displayed toward us in salvation, which we can think of as completed outside of us. It has also been operative within us, in our being called. When our unwillingness to accept of salvation was broken down, then we were called of God. It was with a holy calling that we were called, and it belongs to it as holy that we should be above shame in connection with Christ's cause. The power that has already been displayed toward us is all in the direction of our being saved from this shame.
(2) It is a free power. "Not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before times eternal." It is a power that is not determined in its exercise by our works or deservings. It was according to his own purpose, i.e. not from outward occasion, but arising in the depths of his own being. It was according to a purpose of grace, i.e. in which sinners, or the undeserving, were contemplated as in need. It was according to a purpose of grace in Christ Jesus, i.e. in which there was a looking to human merit only as in Christ. It was according to a purpose of grace before times eternal, i.e. long before man could have to do with it. Being a power so entirely pending on God, we can have confidence that it will go out, in the freest, most gracious manner, toward us.
(3) It is a glorious power. "But hath now been manifested by the appearing of our Saviour Christ Jesus, who abolished death, and brought light and incorruption to light through the gospel." Hidden in God in eternity, it was for a time partially manifested. The time of its full manifestation corresponded with the appearing of Christ, which was also the medium of the manifestation. This is the only place in the New Testament in which the appearing is to be identified with the Incarnation, or the whole of Christ's appearance in flesh. That appearing was as one of the weak things of the world. Especially did Christ seem to be the very impersonation of weakness when he was on the cross. And yet this was the grandest display of power, confounding the mighty; for it is here said that by this appearing he abolished death. He appeared in flesh, and endured death in all its reality, and, by doing so, he has made it no longer a reality to his people. He has made it of none effect. He has made it so that it cannot tyrannize over them. And, though they have to endure death, it is not as a token of God's displeasure, but as his wise and good arrangement, and introduction into a state from which death is forever excluded. The positive side of the benefit derived from the appearing is presented under a slightly different aspect. It is regarded as presented in the gospel. And as death is a dark power, so the gospel is a light-giving power. What it has brought to light is of the utmost consequence. It is life, and life with the superlative quality of imperishableness. Under heathenism men had no right conception of life. Even with all the help that philosophy could give them, the meaning of life was dark to them. The gospel has shown it to consist in the favour of God, and the quickening of all our faculties under the breath of his Spirit. But specially are we to think of life in its imperishableness. We know that, to the heathen generally, the future was an absolute blank. A few of them had glimmerings, not of a resurrection, but of the survival of the thinking part, with some reward for the good. The gospel has brought immortality into the full clear light. It has given us the certainty of our existence after death. It, moreover, holds out before us the prospect of a life that is to be spent, without intermission or end, in the sunshine of God's love, with ever increased quickening of all our powers - a life in which there will be a reunion of soul and body, of which already we have the earnest in the resurrection of Christ. It is our great privilege that we live under this light of the gospel. It is the imperishableness of the life of God that is here begun that has power to nerve the soul, even to martyrdom.
5. Reason against false shame in the example of the apostle.
(1) Suffering connected with his office. "Whereunto I was appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher. For the which cause I suffer also these things." As in 1 Timothy 2:8, he takes a threefold designation of office. As preacher or herald, it was his duty to cry aloud. As apostle, he was specially invested with authority. As teacher, he had to go among the Gentiles. It was a glad. message in relation to which he exercised his office, and it should have brought him many a welcome. "How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace!" But it brought him many a rebuff, and much outward disgrace; for at this time he was suffering his second imprisonment in Rome, and was nearing his martyrdom.
(2) Triumph over shame. "Yet I am not ashamed." The apostle does not exhort Timothy without setting him an example. It was no small matter to him to be counted by men only worthy of imprisonment, and, very soon, of death. But he was so much impressed with the supreme importance of the gospel, that he heeded not the shame.
(3) Its personal assurance. Its strength. "For I know him whom I have believed." As he is here speaking of his being a prisoner, we naturally take the reference to be to him whose prisoner in the eighth verse he declared himself to be, viz. the Lord. He had lived a life of faith on Christ; and he could speak confidently, from his own experience of him. Not I think I know him, but, as one would speak of a friend whom he has long and intimately lived with, I know him. Without experience we cannot have the assurance that excludes doubt. Only when we have tried Christ, and found him sufficient for us in all positions of life, can we rise above the language of hesitation. Its well supported nature. "And I am persuaded that he is able to guard that which I have committed unto him against that day." What is guarded is literally my deposit, and, as in the thirteenth verse "deposit" is something committed to Timothy, so some would think here of something committed to Paul, viz. his stewardship. But, as the guardian is also naturally the holder, we naturally think of something committed by Paul to Christ; and what was that but his interest, his stake in the future world, dependent on his faithfulness in this? How did Paul know that it would not turn out a blank, or be much diminished by future failure? The explanation was that he had put it into Christ's hands, and he trusted in him being able to guard it for him against that day, viz. the day of judgment, when it would become irreversibly, gloriously his, being as it were handed back to him by Christ. One who has this well grounded assurance can meet death even triumphantly.
6. Timothy is further called upon to attend specially to his orthodoxy.
(1) The pattern. "Hold the pattern of sound words which thou hast heard from me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus." There is a form of sound words, i.e. there is a correct expression of truth which is to be coveted, because on this depends the healthfulness of the life. To this form Paul had shaped his preaching. He had not indulged in logomachies, or private speculations, or adaptations to other systems, but he had kept himself, as a well disciplined thinker, to a plain, rational, forcible statement, and urging of what he believed to be necessary for the salvation of souls. Timothy was familiar with his truthful and healthful style; let it be the pattern to which he disciplined his thoughts and his preaching. He could only hold the pattern in the Christian element of faith and love.
(2) The good deposit. "That good thing which was committed unto thee guard through the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us." This is the same thing under a different aspect, viz. the talent of the catholic faith, which a preacher has to guard. It is good, has vast blessings connected with it; therefore it is not to be neglected, it is to be kept from all mischances. The preacher must pray, think, use the help of the rule of faith, practise himself. But all his keeping, to be of any avail, must be allowing the Holy Ghost to keep, who is not far to seek, but is an Indweller in our souls. "So he giveth his beloved sleep," delivers him from the consuming restlessness which would haunt him, if the keeping simply depended on himself. - R.F.
Parallel VersesKJV: Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus,