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2 Timothy

May 18, 2009

Introduction and Background:

This commentary will be more personal in nature because II Timothy is probably Paul’s most personal letter: a letter to a man whom Paul considers his own son. Paul was a father figure to Timothy too. Timothy left his home in Lystra to accompany Paul and Silas on Paul’s second missionary journey. He also accompanied Paul on his third missionary journey and was with him during his first imprisonment in Rome. Timothy is one of the men that Paul has elected to continue his ministry after his death. Perhaps Demas was slated to go to Spain and that prompted him to desert Paul and return home. Whether Demas deserted the ministry or the faith is speculation. But then, all of this is speculation on my part. Other co-workers are being reassigned and Timothy, along with John Mark, is being summoned to Rome. I believe the calling of Timothy along with John Mark recorded in II Timothy 4:9-13 represents the final “board meeting” held by Paul and the commissioning of those who will continue bringing the gospel to the gentiles.

I believe Timothy and Titus accompanied Paul on his fourth missionary journey to Spain and then to a review of the churches Paul had established in Asia Minor. Luke was not with them. He had probably returned to his home in Philippi. Luke seems to come and go. Because of Luke, we have the recording of Acts and many of the Epistles. But Luke was not with Paul 100% of the time even though he was with Paul much of the time. Luke is with Paul in Rome at the writing of this letter. [II Tim. 4:11]

I believe Paul left Spain for Crete where Titus was left in charge. Then He went to the other churches in Asia Minor and finally ended up in Ephesus, where he had spent a great deal of time at the end of his third missionary journey. He left Timothy in charge at Ephesus. From Ephesus Paul went to Macedonia to visit those churches and eventually back to Rome. He wrote I Timothy from Macedonia and II Timothy from the prison in Rome after Alexander, who was originally from Ephesus, had much to do with the false charges against Paul [II Tim. 4:14-15] which resulted in Paul’s death at the hand of Nero.   [Alexander was a common name so we must be careful not to definitely associate this Alexander with the others mentioned in scripture even if we think he may be].

Again, let me state that this is how I sense Acts and the pastoral Epistles happening. It will be easy for you to find scholars that have a different viewpoint. But it isn’t as important to agree on the chronology as it is to take the message they write, which is the inspired Word of God, very seriously.

Finally, let me give you another perspective. The letter to Titus is very direct and emphasizes organizational discipline. The Letter to I Timothy is directional and emphasizes ministerial responsibility and discipline. The letter of II Timothy is very emotional in nature and emphasizes personal discipline and the need to stand firm in the faith.

With this in mind, let us proceed to what I call the “big three”; II Timothy 1:12b; II Timothy 2:15; and II Timothy 3:16-17. These three passages have had a significant influence in my life and have been reminders to me of who I am. I will close my commentary on II Timothy with a personal paraphrase of the book as if it were written by my dad to me personally in a similar manner in which Paul wrote it to Timothy. Paraphrasing scripture is a good tool to use in making scripture personal and applying it to your life.

II Timothy 1:12b

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. [KJV]

“I know whom I have believed” speaks of Our Relationship with Him. We are to have a personal, intimate relationship with Christ. It comes about through a conscious decision on our part to accept Him as Lord and Savior. It is not a blind or impulsive act. It is an act of the will spearheaded by the Holy Spirit. In other words we are saying “I know what I am doing because I know with whom I’m doing it”.

“And am persuaded that He is able” speaks of Our Confidence in Him. We have complete confidence in Jesus; confidence without question; complete trust; no cross examination needed.

“To keep that which I’ve committed” speaks of Our Commitment to Him. We give ourselves as a living sacrifice in loving memory of His blood shed for our sins and to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.

“Unto Him against that day” speaks of Our Hope in Him. When judgment comes, we’ll be remembered as His sons; righteous. He will confess us before the Father because we have confessed Him before man. He has taken my place and declared me righteous; acceptable and worthy of His fellowship. He will usher us into His presence forever.

This was my Dad’s favorite verse and it has become a favorite of mine too. It is filled with meaning.

One can paraphrase this verse as follows: “I have placed my trust in Jesus and have complete confidence that He is worthy and capable to represent me before the judgment seat of God that I might be ushered into the presence of God for all eternity.”

God is faithful and keeps His promises. I need not question or fear. I need only to believe and trust in Jesus. The gospel is not complicated. It is simple and it saves. So ask yourself, “What is my relationship with Jesus, the Son of God?”

II Timothy 2:15

Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. [KJV]

The message here is to study the Word of God diligently and understand its message. The Word of God is filled with instruction on knowing God and instruction for daily life. It is constant, consistent and contemporary. As we will see in the next verse, it is inspired by the Holy Spirit. We are to study and learn and apply it in and to our daily lives simultaneously.. We are to obey what it says. We are to trust what it says. We are to live what it says. We are to do good works; serving/loving others in His name and according to His will and for His glory.

We are to handle the Word with respect and reverence for Him. He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. His message does not change from the Old Testament to the New Testament. He was just using different ways and means to tell us of His love for us, to tell us of our need to repent from our sins, and to tell us of His desire to restore us into fellowship with Him. We are not to add to His Word and we are not to subtract from His Word. We are to accept His Word. We are to use it to guide our lives.

This verse reminds me of my grandfather, Charles Styrlund. He was known as a Bible scholar. He was self taught. He had many seminary theological books in his library; many of which I have today. One would call him “well read”. He was firm on the “major doctrines” but was understanding of the different points of view on the “minor doctrines” which tend to separate Christians into denominations.

II Timothy 3:16-17

All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the man of God can be thoroughly equipped for every good work. [NIV]

“All scripture is God-breathed”. That is it is inspired [KJV] by God. It was written on and in the hearts of men who wrote it down for us. The scripture is truly God’s Holy Word. Avoid all who would add to it or subtract from it for that leads to heresy. [See Proverbs 30:5-6; Psalms 119, II Peter 1:20-21]

“It is useful for teaching”. In other words, it tells us what is right. Jesus said “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father but by me”. Scripture is required for sound doctrine. It’s message is “Jesus saves”. He is the New Covenant.

“It is useful for rebuking”. It tells us what is wrong. The Law, Old Covenant, has been replaced by grace, the New Covenant. All have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory.

“It is useful for correcting”. In other words, it disciplines, causing us to change direction. It brings about repentance. [Proverbs 12:1] Jesus said “Deny yourself, take your cross and follow me”. [See Acts 2:38-39]

“It is useful for training in righteousness”. This refers to the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit and teaching through His Word. You will grow and mature; be built-up and strengthened. You will gain confidence and your faith will blossom.

You will be “thoroughly equipped for every good work”. You will love your neighbor as yourself because you will love God with all your heart. Your will serve one another in Love and witness of His Love to others. You will bear each others burdens. [See Deut. 6:5; Gal. 5:22-26; Gal. 6:2-5]

In Biblical times, God’s inspired Word came to man [prophets and apostles] through angels, through God the Father, through the Holy Spirit, and through God the Son. Today it comes to all of us through His Word, the Bible, with the help of the Holy Spirit. One might say that in Biblical times inspiration was first hand whereas today it is handwritten. Regardless, it is God’s Word; His Truth.

God’s revelation is complete in the scripture as we know it. Some claim new revelations [sects]. These usually add to scripture, are man-inspired, and tend to be more legalistic and binding instead of freeing and loving. Or they subtract from scripture and make light of any judgment of sin.

Some will limit this verse to refer only to the Old Testament or the Pentateuch. But doing so negates God’s omniscient character [all-knowing] and God would not be God. God’s inspiration covers both the Old Testament and the New Testament because God is God and Jesus is God Incarnate.

Some would limit scripture’s inspiration only to those matters of righteousness. These people take a narrow view here but tend to broad brush any other specific and instructional scripture. In other words they pick and choose what they want to believe. Such a view limits God’s attributes of omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience. It leads one to say that God is not perfect in His inspiration and that scripture contains falsehoods. This makes God into mans image instead of making/recreating man into God’s image [“You must be born again”]. The Bible’s purpose is righteousness but it doesn’t lie in the areas of history and science. It speaks Truth.

The principles discussed in the previous paragraphs are important for understanding God and His divine will for us. The principles of scripture’s inspiration and inerrancy are foundational to being strong and steadfast in our faith. And this leads us into the primary reason for Paul writing II Timothy.

A Paraphrase of II Timothy:

This paraphrase was written in honor of my Dad on October 2, 1995. I read it to him at the celebration of his 90th birthday in July of 1998. As I’ve stated many times before, one is remembered for who you are; not what you did. This letter is Paul’s personal and, perhaps, final instruction to Timothy. This letter represents my Dad’s personal instruction to me. He preached it through his life. Likewise, it is God’s personal instruction to each one of us. He is our Heavenly Father and we are His Sons through placing our faith in Jesus Christ, His only Son who gave His life on the cross for our sins. As sons, we inherit all His riches including eternal life and fellowship with Him.

Dear Son,

[1:1]

May God richly bless you with Grace, Mercy, and Peace through His Son, Jesus Christ.

[1:3]

I can honestly say I remember you daily in my prayers. I thank God for the privilege to uphold you before God just as my parents and grandparents upheld me before God.

[1:4]

Your life has not always been easy and I would like to see you again, soon, so that I can take joy and pride in your accomplishments.

[1:5]

I have witnessed your faith, a faith similar to that of your grandparents and your mothers, Alyce and Carol. So make good use of the gifts God has given you. [I trust I also had a part in your training.] Do not be timid in exercising your faith and gifts but be persistent and steadfast [not wavering] with love and self control.

[1:8]

Do not be ashamed of giving testimony of Jesus. [I trust I am also worthy of your honor.] Join me in living a life that pleases Him because of what He has done for all of us. He was from the beginning and is revealed through His Son, Jesus, who conquered death and brought us life eternal. This is my testimony and I am not ashamed. “For I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I’ve committed against that day.”

[1:13]

Remember what I have taught you regarding faith and love in Jesus Christ. Guard it as a precious heirloom, enlisting the help of the Holy Spirit.

[1:15]

Many of our close friends are gone. But many others come by and some even go out of their way to visit us. I always ask the Lord’s mercy on their travels and all that they do because they comfort us.

[2:1]

Stand firm in the doctrine of Grace through Christ. Pass it on to others who will, in turn, pass it on. Keep it pure and simple, neither adding or subtracting from its’ Truth. Stand firm even if it requires hardship. This doctrine is important, requiring your full attention. So avoid getting caught up in civilian or political affairs. This is your most important duty and is pleasing to God.

[2:8]

Standing firm may cause you hardship and constrain you but remember God’s Word is never constrained [even if you are]. Standing firm enables others to know Jesus, that they too may inherit eternal life. God honors our commitment to Him and is always faithful.

[2:14]

Keep reminding others of Jesus and His Grace, and what He has done for us. Avoid arguments. Just be true to God’s written Word. Never be ashamed of the TRUTH. Avoid relationships with those who would misrepresent or do not accept the Truth. Satan will use them to undermine your testimony. Avoid all forms of wickedness, standing firm in your confession of Jesus as Lord and Savior; for God knows you personally.

[2:20]

Use your assets and money for good, according to God’s will.

[2:22]

Flee temptation and seek righteousness, faith, love, and peace along with other Christians. Avoid quarrels of any sort so that your testimony will be respected. Be gentle with those who disagree with you in hope of reaching them for Christ.

[3:1]

Times will be getting more difficult. People will place more faith in themselves than in God. They will want selfish pleasure in place of God. They will want for themselves and also want for God, but they will have neither. Avoid them. They are unrepentant. Deception is their real motive. They actually oppose TRUTH. But if you stand firm on God’s Word, you will be able to discern who they are.

[3:10]

You should know me well, who I am, and what I stand for; how I live and what makes me “tick”. I have had some trying times but God is always faithful and has continuously kept me in His caring arms. Likewise, you too will experience persecution and hardship. Again, stand firm in God’s Word. Read it, study it, and God will make you wise. Understand that scripture is God-breathed, alive, and applicable to life; practical as well as inspirational. Through it you will bear good fruit and do good works.

[4:1]

Know and preach God’s Word because Jesus is God, sovereign and omnipotent, judge of the living and the dead, and He is coming again. May it be a part of you so you will always be ready to correct, rebuke, and encourage others; instructing them carefully and with great patience. As I said, some will change God’s Word to suit themselves. But you keep your head on straight and fulfill God’s will for your life.

[4:6]

I am getting older and my work is nearly done. I have stood firm; I have kept the faith; I have fought the good fight and run well. I am looking forward to receiving my crown of righteousness from the Lord, as are all of us who believe in Jesus.

[4:9]

Come visit us soon. The Lord continues to stand by Carol and me and keep us from harm. We are safe in Him; Praise God!

[4:19]

Greet Christi, Tim, Steve, and of course Sandy. May God bless you and keep you all.

Love,

Dad

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