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2 Timothy 3:1, 1017; 4:58 comment (0)

October 26, 2006

By Jerry W. Batson

Related Scripture: 2 Timothy 3:1, 1017; 4:58

Bible Studies for Life
Associate Professor of Divinity, Beeson Divinity School, Samford University

Take Hold of Endurance
2 Timothy 3:1, 10–17; 4:5–8

An old adage holds that when the going gets tough, the tough get going. The Scripture passage for this lesson reminds us that the going gets tough. More times than not, Christians find themselves living against pressures to conform to the culture. While the world goes in one direction, we are called to move in the opposite one. This passage assumes a faith commitment to Christ, by which we have begun living a new life. Our life in Christ calls for a firm grip on endurance.   

Expect Difficult Times (3:1, 10–13)

The Bible often speaks of “the last days” as a way of referring to the time between Christ’s first coming and His Second Coming. We are living within this very period of sacred history. The Bible is quite clear that this prolonged period will witness perilous or difficult times. Some of these difficulties are listed in 2 Timothy 3:2–9. Like Timothy, we are called on to endure amid difficult times.

Paul offered his personal example as inspiration and instruction about enduring in perilous or difficult times. First, Paul reminded Timothy of the need to give attention to doctrine, as well as his manner of life, with its controlling purpose, faith, steadfastness, love and endurance. We all can benefit from giving attention to these same matters.

Second, Paul pointed Timothy to some of the circumstances which he himself had experienced as a missionary apostle. Paul endured persecutions while finding that the Lord delivered him from his difficulties. At Antioch, Paul was driven out of town (Acts 13:50). He fled from Iconium to avoid being killed (Acts 14:5). He survived a stoning at Lystra, where he was left for dead (Acts 14:19).

Godly living in an ungodly culture invites difficult moments from difficult people. In the last days, Christians can expect increasing evil and religious imposters who are deceived and seek to deceive others. We move on to see what we must do in such difficult days.

Embrace God’s Truth (3:14–17)
By contrast to evil deceivers, Timothy was instructed to continue in what he had learned and still firmly believed. We can get a fresh grip on our Christian convictions by re-visiting our spiritual roots. Timothy’s roots went back to his childhood when he had learned the sacred Scriptures. Remember how 2 Timothy 1:5 describes Timothy’s childhood legacy received from his mother and grandmother.

From his earlier acquaintance with God’s truth, Timothy was able to embrace a mature understanding about the nature and benefits of holy Scripture. Far more than mere human words, the words of Scripture are inspired by God. As a result, many Christians confess the Bible to be a perfect treasure of divine instruction, without any mixture of error, and therefore totally true and trustworthy.

When we choose to embrace God’s truth in Scripture, we are embracing a sure word from God that has great profit for living in difficult times. The Bible teaches us and often rebukes us. When rebuked, we are taught by Scripture how to make needed corrections and then get on with continued training in righteousness. As we embrace the good work of the Bible in our lives, we are brought along toward maturity, while being equipped for good works even in evil times.

Endure to the End (4:5–8)

As encouragement to Timothy to endure, Paul offered his own example of enduring. Paul began with four imperatives for his younger associate: be sober (self-controlled, clear-headed) in every situation; bear hardship patiently, whatever the difficulties involved; evangelize (announce the gospel with a view to hearers believing in Jesus); and  fully carry out all the duties of Christian ministry, including the three just named.

As additional encouragement for Timothy to endure in his ministry, Paul cited his own example. Paul’s approaching end of life meant the passing of responsibility to Timothy. Paul summarized his example in three clauses: he had fought the good fight, he had finished the race and he had kept the faith (both in the sense of having kept on trusting the Lord and having held true to what is believed, that is, the gospel message).

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