In the first of this two-part series, we examined the last letter (2 Peter) written by the apostle Peter just before his demise. At approximately the same time, the apostle Paul writes his last letter as well – which came to be known as the biblical book of 2 Timothy.
We find Paul arrested and imprisoned in Rome once again. This time he is awaiting his imminent execution. Just like it happened to Jesus, many of the lukewarm believers are now abandoning Paul in his final hours. Yet Paul soldiers on, writing his last letter to his faithful disciple Timothy, to encourage him to continue fighting the good fight of faith:
Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you…For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord…who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel… 2 Tim. 1:6 – 10. NKJV
God has placed a gift within each and every one of us, to be used for advancing His kingdom, by leading others to salvation through Christ. It is our most precious duty as the children of God. So, how do we do that?
Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and the love that are in Christ Jesus. By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you. 2 Tim. 1:13, 14. ESV
You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. 2 Tim. 2:1, 2. NKJV
Paul is telling us to preserve God’s word in its purity, and to continue to ask the Holy Spirit for deeper revelation of that word, in order that we may both perceive it and pass it along to others with the utmost clarity – so that they may do the same. Our task is a godly and sacrificial one that rises above the opposition in the world:
Take [with me] your share of the hardships and suffering [which you are called to endure] as a good (first-class) soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier when in service gets entangled in the enterprises of [civilian] life; his aim is to satisfy and please the one who enlisted him. 2 Tim. 2:3, 4. AMP
Think over these things I am saying [understand them and grasp their application], for the Lord will grant you full insight and understanding in everything. 2 Tim. 2:7 AMP
Then, Paul tells Timothy that regardless of present personal circumstances and appearances, the power behind the word of God will always accomplish His will:
Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound! 2 Tim. 2:8, 9. ESV
Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. This is a faithful saying:
If we died with Him, we shall also live with Him.
If we endure, we shall also reign with Him.
If we deny Him, He will also deny us.
If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself. 2 Tim. 2:10 – 13. NKJV
We have the power of God in us to overcome anything that the world throws our way. God, through Christ, strengthens us with a guaranteed hope that we were spiritually reborn when we accepted Jesus as our savior. Our heavenly calling is to spread the gospel in the midst of the spiritual struggles on earth, so that we can claim our eternal reward.
There is no hope for those who deny the Son of God. We however, can rest in peace, knowing that we stand in His loving acceptance through our faith in Christ. Our heavenly charge is to share this peace with as many others as we can, by living out Christ’s example:
Study and be eager and do your utmost to present yourself to God approved (tested by trial), a workman who has no cause to be ashamed, correctly analyzing and accurately dividing [rightly handling and skillfully teaching] the Word of Truth.
But avoid all empty (vain, useless, idle) talk, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness. 2 Tim. 2:15, 16. AMP
Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: “The Lord knows those who are His,” and “Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” 2 Tim. 2:19 NKJV
Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work. Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, with those who call upon the Lord from a pure heart. 2 Tim. 2:21, 22. NASB
And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel, but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will. 2 Tim. 2:24 – 26. NKJV
Paul is saying that we need to be intimately familiar with the accurate meanings of God’s word (via the Holy Spirit) so that we are always prepared to engage in communication that is rich in salvation for the ears of the hearer. Keeping that as our prime focus, we can rise above the petty and meaningless drivel that passes itself off so often as viable discourse in the world. Also, for God’s words to have impact, they must come from the mouths of those who have separated themselves from the ways of that same world.
Finally, we want to bring the good news with gentleness. We are not to try to win our way through violence, but instead we want to peacefully disarm with love…
We are beacons of light for Christ, uncovering the darkness – a task that will grow increasingly vital as time passes and the doubters turn more and more to the base desires of their flesh:
…in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness but denying its power.
Avoid such people. 2 Tim. 3:1 – 5. ESV
Sounds like the ‘last days’ are ‘these days’ don’t they? It’s up to us to keep the faith because this ‘cold new world’ will be increasingly hostile towards the followers of Christ:
Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. 2 Tim. 3:12, 13. NKJV
Nevertheless, exposing people to the ‘good news’ remains our prime focus, because it is only that news, which brings the eternal life that will be conferred by God Himself upon those who accept it, and it will complete God’s intended work in them:
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Tim. 3:16 NKJV
I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and understanding.
For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 2 Tim. 4:1 – 4. ESV
God wants all of His children out soldiering for His kingdom, gathering souls in for their salvation while there are still people willing to receive His message.
That is the greatest show of love that we can make for others – presenting them with the chance for endless love. Whether they accept it or not is entirely up to them; we will have faithfully delivered the message and can stand at the judgment seat of Christ at the end of time, and hopefully speak the words of Paul’s final outpouring for His Savior:
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that Day, and not to me only, but also to all who have loved His appearing. 2 Tim. 4:7, 8. NKJV
I can just picture Jesus welcoming Paul with open arms, exclaiming, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”
Shortly after the apostle Paul (and Peter simultaneously) finished their last letters, church tradition tells us that Nero executed them both.
We can be eternally grateful that God sent these powerful soldiers of His to deliver the salvation promise with such clarity, conviction, and boldness; and they did so in spite of the many obstacles that the devil had laid in their paths.
There is only one original apostolic Love Soldier left standing. Next time…
Good night and God bless.