Summary: #1 of 4 messages from 2 Timothy. Pentecost 18C
Do you remember Lee Iacocca, former CEO of Chrysler Corporation? Some years ago, in an unprecedented act of defiance to his advisors, he became his own advertising spokesperson. His voice bellowed in radio spots; his face appeared in magazines and on television commercials. Every Chrysler ad featured him, and his message brought people to Chrysler dealerships as they had never come before…
So, what was it about Iacocca’s message that attracted people to this unstable automaker; the one who, on the eve of bankruptcy got a loan from the federal government to prevent the demise of the company during its turnaround? I’ll tell you – it was confidence – and Iacocca had it.
He never appeared in those ads saying, “We hope our cars are OK. Maybe you ought to buy one.” Instead, he said: “IF YOU CAN FIND A BETTER CAR, BUY IT.” He believed in his product and made believers out of a lot of others. He didn’t make excuses for Chrysler’s past – he put his confidence in the future. His minivan, introduced in 1984, became one of the best-selling vehicles of all time.
Confidence is essential in business, and indispensable in Christian witness. In the next four weeks, we will engage the study of two men: Timothy, a timid, sensitive young man thrust into his first pastoral role; and his mentor, Paul, who writes to his protégé with great passion, building his confidence in Christ.
1. Timothy is one of the best-known minor characters of the NT. The son of a heathen father and a converted Jewish mother, he first joined Paul’s entourage at Lystra (Turkey) at the beginning of hi second missionary tour. He was already a Christian of some standing, perhaps converted by Paul when he preached in the area a year or two before.
2. According to the picture painted in these letters, Timothy, after traveling with Paul for some time, stays at Ephesus as an apostolic delegate to the churches there, on temporary assignment. Today we might view his position as an interim pastor.
3. Among the problems in the Ephesian churches, heresy (false teaching) was the most glaring. As a port city and cultural melting pot, Ephesus drew people from all over the known world; therefore, social and religious practices became quite diverse. Ephesus represented nearly every form of paganism, and pagan zealots attacked the Christian minority for their faith in Jesus Christ.
4. Paul writes to Timothy, who lives in this volatile setting as we join them this morning. TWM to 2Timothy 1, as we consider life as a confident Christian.
II. PAUL’S CONFIDENCE IN TIMOTHY (1:1-5)
1. Paul’s greeting establishes his authority (customary in letters of the ancient world); he is an apostle of Jesus Christ (not the local church, or its headquarters in Jerusalem), and his appointment as such is by the will of God. It is on this authority he instructs Timothy.
2. Verses 3-5 give us a glimpse of Paul’s love for this young man. My beloved son and I constantly remember you in my prayers are not cliché to Paul; they state his devotion to this young man.
A. Verse 4 is parenthetical; Paul rehearses the time they last spent together, and reveals Timothy’s sensitive side, crying as they separated. This painful experience is vivid in Paul’s memory, and he longs to see Timothy again. This is more than “I miss you”…
B. As he thinks of him, Paul’s thoughts draw to Timothy’s sincere (irrevocable) faith, and the influence his mother and grandmother had on him, despite his father’s unbelief.
3. Because of this, Paul encourages Timothy to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you by the laying on of my hands (a reference to Timothy’s ordination). He admonishes Timothy to conquer his nervousness with power, love and self-discipline (v.7) that God gave through his Holy Spirit.
III. PAUL’S SUBSEQUENT CHARGE TO TIMOTHY (vv.8-14)
1. The confidence that Timothy has in Christ must manifest itself in his life and ministry. Paul offers several areas that will give evidence of Timothy’s confidence in Jesus Christ:
A. In his testimony for the Lord.
i. Many believers in Ephesus will find it easier to yield to the teachings of the pagans around them. Paul warns of this (apostasy, false teaching) in other letters and surely, Ephesus is no exception.
ii. Timothy must stand boldly before those who deny Jesus, and testify to his own salvation brought about by Christ’s atoning death and resurrection.
B. In his willingness to suffer for his faith.
i. As Timothy defends the gospel amid the false doctrines that surround him, he will certainly face persecution. It is almost a given, knowing what we do about persecution of Christians in the first four centuries AD.
ii. As Paul writes, he finds himself chained in a dungeon by the emperor Nero. Despite his circumstances, Paul sees himself a prisoner of Christ, not the emperor. This is significant; it demonstrates Paul’s emotional state.