2 Timothy 2:1–13comment (0)
February 21, 2013
By Michael Wilson
Related Scripture: 2 Timothy 2:1–13
Bible Studies for Life
Director, Resource Center for Pastoral Excellence, Samford University
THE REWARD OF ENDURANCE
2 Timothy 2:1–13
Most folks do not choose to think about their own mortality until life situations force them to. A good example of this is the relatively small number of adults who indicate they have wills. Many persons mistakenly think their estates are too small to need wills. Good stewards know they are essential legal documents in this day and time. Simplifying the legal issues related to the transfer of an estate is but one benefit. The opportunity to communicate one’s final requests and preferences may be even more important.
The focal passage in this week’s lesson can be read as if it was Paul’s last will and testament to his friend and ministry colleague, Timothy.
Paul’s situation changed over the years since the earlier letter to Timothy. By the time of this letter, Paul knew his life was nearing the end (2 Tim. 4:6). His words to Timothy were likely received as important final instructions from a caring, concerned mentor and friend. Because of this, Timothy most likely took quite seriously the requests and instructions outlined in the letter.
We need to recognize that Paul’s words are just as relevant for us today as they were when Timothy read them. And we should take them just as seriously as did Timothy.
An Enduring Message (1–2)
“Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” (2:1), Paul instructed Timothy. Another way to render the text is “be continually empowered by the grace in Christ.” The experience of God’s grace in our lives can be empowering. Grace allows us to know release from regret we feel due to sin and disobedience. Grace allows us to be content — but not complacent — with our life situation, whatever it may be. Grace gives us the ability to remain hopeful in all circumstances. The experience of God’s grace, as it comes to each of us in so many different ways, can be potent fuel to power the kind of gospel living modeled by Jesus. With this kind of empowerment, surely we can demonstrate enduring faithfulness to the cause of Christ.
Examples of Endurance (3–10)
What if the Gallup Organization conducted a survey to answer the question, “Do you like to suffer?” We would be surprised if anyone answered “yes.” Yet Paul instructed Timothy to share in suffering. He did not instruct him to avoid suffering.
What does this mean for us? After all, who really wants to suffer?
Accepting suffering that comes our way can be an occasion to demonstrate faith and trust. Suffering creates opportunities to encounter God in new ways as we move through the pain or anxiety or brokenness that causes us to suffer. Plus, when we share in the sufferings of others we demonstrate the kind of Christian community Jesus modeled. We help one another. Paul told the Church in Philippi he wanted to know Christ and “share in the fellowship of His sufferings” (Phil. 3:10). To know Christ is to know suffering. However, Paul’s suffering was not done in a passive way. He did not resign himself to hopelessness in the face of impending death. Rather, he knew his sufferings — past and present — were accomplished through grace and hope. For Paul, endurance was not a grim acceptance of bleak realities. It was hopeful patience in the midst of suffering while eagerly anticipating the kingdom of God in its fullness.
Enduring Promises (11–13)
Paul’s final trustworthy saying is a powerful encouragement to all seeking to live for Christ. We are called to endure suffering and the impact of evil all around us with hopeful patience, not grim acceptance. God will be faithful. The Kingdom of light will one day come in fullness. In the meantime we live grace-empowered lives.