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2 Timothy 1:1-7: A Call to Remember Print E-mail
2 Timothy
Sunday, 03 July 2011

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I would daresay that all of us want to approach our deaths without too many regrets.  Of course, we will have some regrets.  There will be things that we will regret not doing (or not doing more).  We will regret time wasted on things that turned out not to be all that important.  Yet, for the most part, our hope is that we will not have too many regrets.  Unfortunately, even though most hope for such an ending, not all have it.  Some get to the end of their life and face many regrets.  Some get to the end of their life and realize that they have been wrong.  There are even records of people recanting of certain beliefs or actions on their death-bed.  I donít want to do that and I am pretty sure that you donít either.

Most consider 2 Timothy to be the Apostle Paulís final letter.  He believes that his death is imminent (see 4:6ff).  He writes one final letter to Timothy to encourage him to come and visit and to encourage him in the faith.  And although the letter is more personal than some of Paulís others, the thing that is striking is that it is not all that different.  It is no recantation, no apology, no list of regrets.  Rather, Paul writes: I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith (4:7).  Paul has fulfilled his ministry to the Gentiles and is ready to go and be with the Lord.  And he writes to Timothy to encourage him in his fight and his race.  He wants Timothy to keep the faith as well.  Likewise, as we think about the life of Paul, we see a great example of how to live and die well.  He gave himself and his ministry to Christ.  He spent His life on the gospel, believing it, living it, preaching it.  And what he makes clear in this letter is that he faced his death with no regrets and no recantations.

Thus, as we study the book of 2 Timothy over the next couple of months, we want to see how Paul encourages Timothy to keep the faith.  He begins with a simple greeting.  Look at verses 1-2.  Paul identifies himself as an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God.  He acknowledges that he is what he is because of Godís will.  It is a statement of humble boldness, which we will consider more in a moment.  He identifies the recipient of the letter as Timothy, my beloved child.  Acts tells us that Timothy had served with Paul in numerous places.  As with the letter of 1 Timothy, it seems that he is still serving in Ephesus at the time of this letter.  He has been a faithful co-worker with Paul and Paul writes to encourage his continued obedience.  He begins by charging Timothy to remember two important truths.  Letís consider those.

First, remember that you are being prayed for (v. 3-5).

Paul begins the letter by telling Timothy that he has been praying for him.  Look at verses 3-5.  Paul is thankful to God for Timothy.  So thankful that he prays for him constantly.  His prayers for Timothy are endless.  He keeps praying for him.  He keeps thanking God for him.  Why is Paul so thankful for Timothy?  First, he tells us that he remembers Timothyís tears.  Look again at verse 4.  This verse gives us a glimpse into Paul and Timothyís relationship.  Timothy loved Paul and was concerned for him.  We donít know exactly when these tears were shed, but we get a glimpse of such a moment in Acts 20, when the Ephesian elders are saying goodbye to Paul (an event at which Timothy was most likely present).  Timothy loved Paul.  And Paul loved Timothy.  He tells him that he longs to see him (a theme that will come up again in the letter) and that by seeing him he will be filled with joy.  Paul is continually thanking God for Timothy because he loved him and because he knew that Timothy loved him in return.  They were brothers, fellow co-workers in the gospel, who cared for each other.

Second, Paul is thankful for Timothy because he remembers his sincere faith.  Look again at verse 5.  Paul describes Timothyís faith as sincere.  He had turned from his sins, followed after Christ, and was encouraging others to do the same.  This contrasts those who were abandoning Paul and abandoning the faith, which introduces another theme of the letter, namely the issue of false teachers.  Paul was thankful that Timothyís faith was sincere.  He goes on to describe the legacy of faith in Timothyís family.  Paul had already said that he served God as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience.  He made a connection between his service and the service of those who had gone before him.  In the same way, he makes a connection between Timothyís sincere faith and that of his grandmother and mother.  They had left a pattern for him to follow, a legacy if you will, and Paul wants Timothy to continue in that legacy. 

A couple of weeks ago I was talking with Caroline after her great-grandmotherís (Mrs. Wheeler) funeral.  I commented to her that Mrs. Wheeler had left a good legacy for her to follow.  Likewise I often think of my grandmother, who we called Big Mama, and the legacy of faith that she left for me (and the rest of my family).  Paul is thankful to God for Timothyís faith in the work of Christ and for the legacy of faith that he is now a part of.  By reminding him of his grandmother and motherís faith, Paul is encouraging Timothy to stay the course.  In all of this, Paul wants Timothy to remember that he is being prayed for to encourage his faith.

Now, you may be thinking at this point: ĎWell, I am not Timothy and Paul is not praying for me, so how does this apply to me?í  This is true.  We are not Timothy and Paul has already gone to be with the Lord.  Yet, let me say to you this morning as your pastor: you are being prayed for.  Let me mention just a couple of ways.  First, the people in this Church are praying for you.  If nobody else, I am praying for you.  Paulís practice convicts me to be more faithful and more consistent, but I can say that I am praying for the people of this Church.  And I note that to encourage you to know that you are being prayed for and to encourage all of us to be praying for one another.  We should be thankful for the fellow believers that God has put in our life.  We should be thankful for their love and their faith, just like Paul was for Timothy.  Be encouraged by the fact that people in this Church are praying for you. 

Second, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are praying for you.  Paul tells us in Romans 8 that the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words (v. 26).  Likewise, the author of Hebrews tells us that Jesus, our Great High Priest, always lives to make intercession for (us) (7:25).  The Holy Spirit is praying for you.  Jesus is praying for you.  Robert Murray MíCheyne commented on this: ďIf I could hear Christ praying for me in the next room, I would not fear a million of enemies.  Yet the distance makes no difference: He is praying for me.Ē1  What an encouraging thought.  We may not be able to hear Jesus praying for us in the next room, but He is praying for us.  He is interceding on our behalf along with the Holy Spirit.  So then, be encouraged in your faith by remembering that you are being prayed for.

Second, remember the Spirit God has given you (v. 6-7).

Paul gives the first real exhortation to Timothy in verse 6.  Look at that with me.  He tells him to fan into flame the gift of God.  The wording does not indicate that Timothyís flame has gone out.  Rather, it simply emphasizes the importance of continually fanning the flame of our faith.  Even though Paul has mentioned the faith of those who have gone before that does not mean that he intends for Timothy to simply rely on that faith.  No, yesterdayís faith is not enough.  True faith perseveres.  It continues to burn bright.  And it continually needs to be fanned into flame.

Yet, how exactly are we supposed to fan into flame the gift of God?  In this context, the simple answer is that we must continually remember who we are.  Again, Paul has just spoken of Timothyís sincere faith in Christ.  He is not telling Timothy to do something new, rather he is simply reminding him to keep doing what he has been doing.  He goes on to encourage him to keep in mind two important truths.  First, Timothy is to remember Paulís involvement of laying on his hands.  The gift that Paul is encouraging Timothy to fan into flame has been identified as a special gifting of the Spirit that Timothy received to minister or more simply as the Spirit Himself.  It is hard to make a decision on which Paul means, but in light of what he says in verse 7, he is most likely referring to the Spirit Himself, which Timothy received at his conversion.  We see in Acts a few places where the laying on of hands by the Apostles was part of a person receiving the Spirit.  This was not always the case, but it did happen.  Apparently this happened with Timothy and Paul wants him to not forget that fact.  He will go on in the letter to speak of Timothy as the one who must continue Paulís mission and thus the connection is important.  By remembering this Timothy can keep fanning into flame the gift. 

Second, Timothy is to remember the Spirit that he has been given.  Look at verse 7.  The Lord has not given Timothy a Spirit of fear, or cowardice.  This is important because, as the rest of the letter will demonstrate, Timothy is facing a difficult situation in Ephesus.  People are being led astray by false teachers who are opposing Paul and his gospel.  It is not a time for cowardice or being timid.  Rather, Timothy needs to remember that the Spirit of God is the Spirit of power and love and self-control.  It is the Spirit of power to stand against those who oppose the gospel.  It is the Spirit who keeps us from being ashamed of the truth.  Likewise it is the Spirit of love and self-control.  The Spirit gives us boldness and power to endure suffering and oppose the enemies of the gospel.  At the same time, it gives us the power to love others and be self-controlled.  It is boldness, but it is humble boldness.  Just as Paul was humble about his own calling to be an apostle but was also bold in his proclamation of the gospel.  Timothy is to fan into flame the gift he has been given by remembering the truth concerning the Spirit of God.

Again, we may not be Timothy facing the false teachers in Ephesus, but we too need to remember the Spirit that we have been given through faith in Christ.  The same Spirit that was given to Timothy has been given to us when we turned from our sins and trusted in Jesusí death on the cross and resurrection.  That same Spirit is the Spirit of power and love and self-control.  We cannot shrink back from those who deny the gospel.  We cannot let the flame in our hearts grow cold.  No, we must remember these truths of the Spirit and be faithful in our ministries. 

In the end, as Paul so often does, he tells Timothy to be who you are called to be by remembering who you are in Christ.  We too must remember these truths.  We have been redeemed by Christ and been given the Holy Spirit.  We are being prayed for by them and our fellow believers.  Thus, in light of such truth, may we faithfully believe the gospel, live the gospel, and proclaim the gospel to any all.  For in this way we can finish our course with no regrets.  Amen.

1 Andrew Bonar, Memoir & Remains of Robert Murray MíCheyne (Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2004), p. 154.

~ William Marshall ~

Last Updated ( Saturday, 16 July 2011 )

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