2 Timothy 2:1-7
Guard the Gospel by Being Strengthened in Christ
2 Timothy is Paul’s last will and testament. From this final imprisonment at the hands of King Jesus through the means of Rome, Paul extols the necessity of real, intimate and palpable fellowship, exhorts to not be ashamed of the Lord’s servants or the good news of the kingdom and he illustrates with the example of Onesiphorus.
Now, in 2:1-7 Paul teaches on what Timothy and the Ephesians must do to guard the gospel.
Be strengthened by the grace that is found in Jesus v. 1
Verse 1 is a command, and the first command to guard the gospel is to be strong in grace that is found only in Jesus! It is also present tense and active voice.
It would be accurate to say “keep on being strengthened by the grace that you have in Christ Jesus.”
“In Christ” is a dominant theme in the first three chapters of Ephesians, as we remember.
- We are in Christ and to be strengthened by living in the grace we have been given
1a. John 1:16
“For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.”
- Grace is found only in humbly submitting to Jesus (submission to comes
2a. James 4:1-7
“What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
- We experience tangible grace as we obey Jesus (if we are submitted to we will obey)
3a. Matthew 7:24-27
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”
- Our strength in grace is found in hearing and obeying
Entrust the gospel to faithful people who will then teach others v. 2
This is a command. This is not a suggestion!
The grammar here for “men” is masculine, but the masculine here is universal in the sense of “mankind” not merely “men” for the role of elder. He is not referencing elders in this passage at all.
The idea is all people in the body. Paul has given clear instruction about the elders in 1 Timothy. There is enough for that. This is the plea to teach and exhort those taught to pass it on to others who will be able to teach too.
The good news of the Kingdom will never go forward on the backs of the pastors alone.
The good news of the Kingdom goes forward through domains of society by citizens of the Kingdom bringing the Kingdom to bear in their domains of society.
Jesus never made the Great Commission to advance on the backs of the spiritual elite. The Great Commission is not a “calling”. It is a command given to the whole church.
The Great Commission’s completion is overwhelmingly impossible practically and financially with our current models built on sending spiritual Special Forces with the finances of the fearful. Too few Special Forces and too little money.
The Great Commission’s completion is not overwhelming or financially burdensome when we understand our DNA: KDSC
What if the Great Commission were completed with the local church being the sending agency and those sent were professionals who engaged their domains and got paid for doing so? Cost to a church budget: very little. Joy in seeing the supernatural work of the kingdom: flat out giddy.
- We don’t hoard the ministry as ours to execute. We equip the saint for
the ministry of building up the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:11-16). Nor do we
take on the ministry because the body won’t due to misplaced values and a
lack of discipline and time management.
1a. Apostle / Prophet / Pastor / Teacher / Evangelist / are gifts to the body for growing each other up into Christ as they are taught/equipped by the undersehpherds through teaching, practice and prayer.
- We teach and release priests of the faith to exercise the gifts in ministering to the body.
- We continually place the responsibility for ministry on the Spirit filled
priests to serve the body of Christ to build it up into Christ.
- We are to constantly be shepherding the advance of the kingdom into our local and global contexts and keeping those ends in view and guarding those ends from distractions.
- We are to train and mentor church planters and release them to go and multiply the kingdom.
- Discover your created purpose / skill set / desires / passions / giftings / vocation.
- Refine your skills etc. in the life of the church by serving the Kingdom. Let
grown men and women speak into your life and affirm / direct your work.
- Choose your education based on the most efficient and practical honing of your gifting / skill set / “vocation”.
- Engage your chosen domain of society glocally.
For all priests of the kingdom:
- Labor to narrow your life and focus down to 1 eternal kingdom end (through your domain) and arrange all of your life around that end and treat everything else as means if the means gets you to that end.
- Shed busyness in seeking after what the “gentiles” seek after and be willing to suffer for doing so. Seek first the rule of Jesus and his righteousness and trust him to make up any slack created by obeying him.
- Become aware of your functional saviors (idols) and cut them off.
- Take responsibility for the gospel of the kingdom that we have taught and
entrusted to you and go do something with it.
- Realize that the supernatural power of the kingdom is not hidden in a
meditative worship experience but in the everyday and mundane things that
are brought under the rule of Jesus through obedience to Jesus!
Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus v. 3
“Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.”
This is a command not a suggestion!
2 Timothy 3:12 “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”
Holy suffering is strange to many Christian’s ears and experience because they don’t live like there are two kingdoms in conflict and they are on a side and that demands engagement in the conflict and that inevitably brings suffering.
This is a distinction between the gospel of salvation and the gospel of the kingdom!
- The command to suffer is the command to engage in the work of the
1a. Hear Jesus and obey Jesus regardless!
- Suffering is the natural consequence of living according to the values of the kingdom rather than according to the values of the kingdom of the world.
1a. Suffering will come from either: Individuals; Institutions;
1b. But, Jesus is in charge of our suffering (see chapter 1 and Job) in order to accomplish his ends and our holiness.
1c. Therefore, suffering will result in Father’s will being done, his kingdom coming and his name being made great on earth as it is in heaven.
- Suffering for being stupid (sinning) does not count
- Suffering brings a sharing with and in Christ
1 Peter 4:12-13 “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.”
Philippians 3:8-11 “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.”
How are Timothy and the Church at Ephesus to live out these commands?
Think over this instruction v. 7
Paul’s final command is found in verse 7 and applies to verses 4-6.
- Think over the illustrations and seek the Lord’s understanding!
- Be like a soldier; Give single-minded devotion to Jesus v. 4
1aa. Don’t get sidetracked in non-kingdom things
1ab. Seek to please Jesus and nobody else
1ac. Single-minded devotion to Jesus will make you a machine
2. Be like an athlete; Go after the kingdom with disciplined effort v. 5
Olympic athletes in this time had to complete a ten-month training
period and then swear an oath that they had done it….It is likely Paul’s
language of “competes according to the rules” is referencing.
2ba. Be disciplined in your pursuit of the kingdom
2bb. Give as much disciplined effort to obeying Jesus as you
give your diet and your exercise
3. Be like a hard working farmer; Put in the right labor v. 6
A farmer’s life, particularly in this day would include:
Early and long hours
Constant toil (plowing, sowing, tending, weeding, harvesting, storing)
Regular disappointments (frost, pests, disease, drought, etc.)
Patience (slow motion)
- Put in the hard kingdom time. Serving in kingdom requires hard work
- Labor in the kingdom in the hopes of receiving a harvest of righteousness and all needs supplied (2 Timothy 4:6-8; Matthew 6:33)
Psalm 147:1 “Praise the Lord! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting.”
 J.N.D Kelly, A Commentary on the Pastoral Epistles (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1963), pp. 175, 176.