Summary: Qualification for leadership is based on dependance on Christ.
Paul is writing to his younger friend serving in ministry. Timothy is not serving directly as a Pastor of a church like today. He is a combination of missionary, envoy, evangelist, preacher, teacher, overseer and recruiter. He was selected as a traveling companion and trained by Paul and is being empowered and entrusted with continuing the ministry to the gentiles.
In the beginning of the letter Paul thanks God for Timothy’s faith in God which has been passed to him by his mother and grandmother. (Lois and Eunice)
He shared that he prayed for Timothy constantly. He also reminds Timothy of the sound teaching to add to his faith and to guard it as a “good deposit” with the help if the Holy Spirit. After some brief mention of disappointment in some who lost their faith and He gives thanks for the help he has receives as well.
This is where our reading today picked up.
You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
Paul refers to Timothy as his son, I suppose in a combination spiritual and relationship since. It is likely that Timothy knew Paul better than any other person. It appears that this letter is intended to be a combination of encouragement to Timothy and a letter of recommendation to the churches on his behalf.
Paul is not empowering Timothy based on his faith or knowledge. He is not indicating that Timothy is some kind of natural leader. He tells him to depend on the grace that comes from Christ Jesus.
It seems that his qualification as Paul’s successor is to be in his dependence on Christ. I hope that I might one day get close to that single best qualification.
I find that I end up with way too much dependence on education and resources and empowerment based on human ability, and authority. However, Paul does not discount education as being important. He says, “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.”
So, he is instructing Timothy to pass on the knowledge to other people. But, he is specific about the kind of people. First, he defines the knowledge, the things that the heard Paul say in the presence of witnesses. The teaching about Jesus Christ and salvation and resurrection; The Good news.
Timothy is to entrust (commit – kjv) - to charge or invest with a trust or responsibility; charge with a specified office or duty involving trust: We entrusted him with our lives.
He is not to just tell people, or teach people he is to entrust men. He is not just giving away information for people to take or leave. He is entrusting “reliable” men to keep the information save, pure. Paul is advising Timothy to find the right men to maintain the Good news in a way that it will not be lost or lose its value.
These men need to have one additional quality. They had to be qualified to teach. That would meant that they held to a right knowledge of the information, they probably had to have a sound reputation in the community and in the local churches, and could communicate reasonably well.
I would suggest that these men also would show some level of dependence on the grace of Jesus Christ as well.
Next Paul encourages timothy to “suffer the hardship” with Paul for the sake of the message. of being a Christian and he uses three occupations, a soldier an athlete and a farmer to make his point to Timothy. He uses three occupations that require discipline and sacrifice to be successful.
He starts with the soldier and says, “Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs—he wants to please his commanding officer.”
When a person enlist in the military the take an oath to protect the nation and to serve obediently. When a person enlists in the military, they had better not think they are about to enter a life of ease and choice. A soldier’s life is on of training and preparation and service. A soldier lives a life of personal sacrifice and hardship. A soldier has to do without the comforts and pleasures of this world. It is a life with minimum possessions and limited free time.
When our son James was in town he did not talk much about his experiences in Iraq or even his state side duty stations. What little he said often included a little phrase, “On mission.”. He has time on base and time on mission. When he was in Iraq his on duty and off duty time alternated between being on mission or getting ready to be on mission.