Summary: The number of ’nay’ sayers, discouragers, destroyers in the church will increase. But true believers have the knowledge that leads to salvation.
There may have been other letters from Paul to Timothy, and more than likely, some going the other way. It becomes very obvious in the reading of these two that we have, that Paul loved Timothy very dearly. Even calls him ‘son’. He mentions Timothy in Romans, in First and Second Corinthians, in Philippians, Colossians, in both letters to the Thessalonians, and in Philemon.
It seems like Paul was always looking forward to the arrival of Timothy, or sending Timothy somewhere to someone. The very apparent thing demonstrated to us in Paul’s epistles is that he depended very much on the assistance of Timothy in ministry, and the comfort of having him nearby, and Timothy did not disappoint him.
Now, as pastor of the church at Ephesus, a very difficult place to minister because of its pagan culture and widespread practice of heathen ritual, Timothy receives from Paul instruction and encouragement in the form of these two letters, preserved for us in the scriptures, and therefore, although directed to Timothy by Paul, directed to us by the Holy Spirit.
We find several references in them to the spiritual gifts that were bestowed to Timothy at the laying on of hands, probably by Paul and others with him when they ordained Timothy to this ministry. Paul reminds Timothy of that by way of encouragement, and charges him to remind himself often of his own heritage in the faith and his upbringing in the Scriptures.
He also gives this young pastor some practical counsel concerning how he should direct and guide the behavior of those in the church.
As I was reading through these two letters however, I was struck by something that stood out to me from chapter three, and as I meditated on it I realized that some very pertinent things could be said to our time and particular situation and culture from this chapter. So I wanted us to spend some time here today, and ponder some of these things together.
Now as we approach the text, glance back for just a moment to the final verses of chapter 2. Paul has been warning Timothy against some who are spreading heresy, and then turns once more to Timothy and exhorts him to a life and lifestyle that sharply removes him from those others, and identifies him with the truth of the gospel he preaches.
So as you just quickly scan verses 24 through 26 of chapter 2 you can see that Paul is telling Timothy that the Lord’s man must be able to teach, patient, gentle, but bold enough to confront and correct error; that he must be a leader into truth, and then finally, in verse 26, Paul says that some who hear Timothy’s sound teaching and see his humble and patient manner may come to their senses, and thus escape the snare of the devil.
I don’t know if this sort of thing will ever be in my future… it’s not that I’m having delusions of grandeur, please believe that. But I have occasionally thought that it would be a great honor and for me, just plain fun, to someday speak to a graduating class at a seminary.
It would just be a great privilege, I think, to have that opportunity to come before a large group of men about to embark upon the ministry of their calling, and give them words of encouragement and exhortation from the scriptures.
Now if that time ever comes, I would probably then be scrambling, not trying to think about what I should preach on, but trying to narrow it down to one or two choices. Of course I’d have to pray about it, and I’m sure the Lord would give me clear leading.
But I said all that just to say that this portion of Paul’s second letter to Timothy is one passage that would be near the top of my list.
I would like to give them some direction for prayer in their own lives, that God would develop in them the kind of minister that Paul has described to Timothy in verses 24 and 25 of chapter 2, and then leave them with a reminder and a challenge to hold fast to the purity of the message of Christ and His death and His resurrection, and not grow tired or weary in it.
Because some who have gone astray from the truth, as discussed earlier in that chapter, being exposed to the faithful exercise of patience and gentleness and corrective doctrine, may finally come to their senses and come back to the true belief and teaching of the gospel.
This is the direction that Paul has given Timothy here, and I can’t help feeling that Paul might have experienced some sense of urgency as he wrote, that I think I would experience in being able to bring that kind of a message to young men about to set out in ministry.