I. Persuaded by God’s Power (2 Timothy 1:1-18)
I. Persuaded by God’s Power (1:1-18)
1:1-2 Paul identifies himself as an apostle—an authorized messenger—of Christ Jesus. Paul didn’t apply for the job. He served in the role because it was God’s will, allowing him to make known the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus (1:1). This is to be both the motivation and mission of all who are called into ministry. This is Paul’s second letter to Timothy (1:2), his son in the ministry. It’s also the last New Testament letter he wrote before his martyrdom.
1:3-4 Paul wants Timothy to know that he thanks God every time he remembers him in his prayers (1:3). Paul had a deep affection for this young man who had served with him so faithfully in ministry. He remembers Timothy’s tears, perhaps shed during their last parting, and longs to see him so that sorrow can be replaced by joy (1:4).
1:5 Timothy had a strong and sincere faith in Jesus Christ inspired by his grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice. This serves as a reminder of how important a godly heritage is to a family. The family unit is God’s first and foundational institution for the transfer of the faith. When the family fails, the culture is in trouble. This passage also shows the powerful influence women can have on the life of a young man should his father be either absent or spiritually inactive. It is critical that parents and grandparents pass on their faith, in word and deed, to the next generation (see Judg 2:10).
1:6 Paul urges Timothy to rekindle the spiritual gift that he had received and that was recognized when Paul laid hands on him and validated his ministry. Timothy could not be passive about his spiritual gift and neither can we. God intends that we develop—keep fresh and vibrant—the gifts he provides for the benefit of others. We will be held accountable for failure to do so.
1:7 Timothy struggled with a spirit of fear. His timidity probably resulted from a variety of factors, including his personality, persecution, false teachers, the burdens of ministry, and the lack of a strong male influence in his growing up years. But Paul assures him that fearfulness does not come from God. Rather, God’s Holy Spirit provides power, love, and sound judgment—the necessary spiritual resources for fulfilling ministry and employing spiritual gifts. Such divine resources are available to all—that is, power for the use of our gifts, love for those who benefit from them, and good discernment in the application of our gifts.
1:8 Paul encourages Timothy not to be ashamed of identifying with Christ or with Paul, who was a prisoner in Rome because of the gospel. This could have added to Timothy’s timidity. Instead, Paul calls him to join him in suffering for the gospel, something one can only do through the power of God, rather than human strength.
1:9-10 Why should we be willing to suffer for the gospel? Because through it, God saved us—not according to our works—but in accordance with his own purpose and based on his grace, which he showed us through his Son, Jesus Christ. In his love, God planned this before time began, but it has been made evident through the appearing of the Son as our Savior. Through his sacrificial atoning death on the cross, Christ abolished death and brought us life and immortality . . . through the gospel. Even the possibility of death should not nullify an effective ministry since it is no longer an issue for the believer.
1:11-12 It was for the ministry of this gospel that Paul had been appointed by Christ himself as a herald (proclaiming the good news), an apostle (serving as God’s authoritative leader and messenger), and teacher (instructing in the Word of God) (1:11). Because of his faithfulness to the message, Paul had been persecuted. Nevertheless, in spite of the pain and sorrow, suffering brought him no shame or regret. For the apostle was persuaded that God had the power to care for him and deliver him through any obstacles and trials until that day when he would call him home (1:12). He wanted Timothy (and all believers) to have that same confidence in God.
1:13 So Paul encourages Timothy to hold tightly to the pattern of sound teaching that he had heard from Paul, and to do so in faith and love. Thus, trusting confidently in God (1:12) is combined with serving God’s people. The horizontal and the vertical must always go together in ministry.
1:14 Paul charges him to guard the good deposit, the good news of salvation and the good work of ministry to which he had been called. God had committed to him this sacred treasure. We carry the message of eternal salvation. We must recognize the gospel’s value and not treat it casually. With the empowerment of the Holy Spirit who lives in us, we must guard the gospel, proclaiming it faithfully and defending it against error and ministering its truth to others for their spiritual development.
1:15-18 Paul reminds Timothy of the trials he endured. He was aware of those who had deserted him (1:15). But Paul also knew that God had provided for him in the midst of the negative treatment. A believer named Onesiphorus (1:16), unknown to us apart from this mention, is immortalized in the pages of Scripture because of his love and care for the aging apostle. Previously, he had ministered to Paul at Ephesus (1:18). But Onesiphorus was no fair-weather Christian. He sought Paul out and refreshed him even when he was a prisoner in Rome. Onesiphorus was not ashamed of the gospel or Paul, its spokesman. Therefore, Paul prayed for God’s mercy on him and all his household (1:16-17). We too must pray for God’s favor on those who support the ministry and its ministers.
Paul shared this with Timothy as a means of encouraging the young gospel minister. He could have focused solely on who had deserted him. Instead, Paul recognized how God had graciously provided support that offset the mistreatment received. In order to persevere through the struggles and difficulties of ministry, Timothy would have to do as Paul had done: see with eyes of faith and celebrate God’s grace in his life. You need to do the same.