This chapter consists of further exhortations to faithfulness (see 1. 6) in view of (b) the character of Timothy’s service (verses 1-7), (c) the glory of reigning with Christ (verses 8-13), (d) the work of false teachers (verses 14-26).
Thou therefore, my child, — “child” is the word here, not “son,” as the former represents the fact of spiritual birth, Paul having been the instrument in Timothy’s conversion (see 1 Tim. 1. 2, R.V.). The “therefore” looks back to the faithlessness of those mentioned in 1. 15 and the faithful service of Onesiphorus.
be strengthened in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. — the R.V. rightly renders by the verb, the present tense marking an abiding and constant strengthening. Grace is the quality of, or sphere in which, the strength is imparted. It is not here grace to the guilty but the gracious favour of God in its enabling power and effect, which is to be found alone in Christ. For the order of the titles see Note on 1 Tim 1. 1. Only as we live in the enjoyment, of the power of this grace can we devotedly and faithfully discharge the service committed to us. There is adequate grace to meet our every need.
And the things which thou hast heard from me among many witnesses, — the reference is to the Apostle’s teaching, not only in the gospel, but in his ministry to the saints. Timothy had been an attentive listener from the earliest time when, Paul came to Lystra, and subsequently in his missionary service with him. The preposition rendered “among” indicates the accompanying circumstances on the various occasions of the presence of those who had listened to his ministry.
the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. — the men were to be known and recognized by him as thoroughly trustworthy, and qualified to teach others. There is no hint here, or anywhere else in the New Testament, of Apostolic succession. The Apostle is arranging for the maintenance and the perpetuation of the faith. Nor is there any intimation, in the charge here given, of a communication of an official right to preach. Timothy was not commissioned to consecrate men, or to impart authority to them, he was to hand on the truth as he had received it.
Some hold that the Scriptures were not a final revelation, and that the authority of the Church would be such as to provide for the additional doctrines. Others consider that the truths essential in Apostolic times may not be essential in the changed circumstances of today. The Scripture bears its own testimony against this. The faith has been “once for all delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3. The R.V. rendering “once for all” is important). This makes clear that it was not the Divine intention for the Scriptures to receive addition or modification. To add to them or readjust thier teaching, or to issue additional decrees, as if these were of Divine authority, is to impugn the perfect work of the Spirit of God and to be guilty of presumptuous impiety. See Deut. 4. 2; 12. 32; Prov. 30. 5, 6; Isa. 8. 20; 2 Tim. 3. 16, 17; 2 John 8, 10; Rev. 22. 18, 19.
The Apostle’s injunction indicates the tremendous character of the responsibility attached to handling the Word of God and the care needed that only men who have been proved true to the faith should teach it. Cp. 2 Tim. 1. 13, 14.
Suffer hardship with me, — the verb is sunkakopathed, which means to suffer hardship with (the A.V. has not taken notice of the prefix sun, which means together with); it is the same word as in 1. 8 and is used only in this Epistle. The word might be rendered ‘take your share of hardship.’ The Apostle’s request indicates a desire for fellowship in the trials involved in service in the gospel, especially in view of the desertion of his former friends. There is a fellowship in suffering even when servants of Christ are separated from one another, for they have a common bond in their gospel ministry and above all the one , bond which binds them to Christ, service for whom involves hardship in a world full of adversaries.
as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. — the word for “good” is kalos, representing that which is noble, and therefore here indicating a stalwart service, free from fear and reproach.
The order of the titles is correctly given in the R.V.; for Christ, the exalted One, is He in whom our life is lived on the ground of what He, Jesus, became and did on earth.
No soldier on service entangleth himself in the affairs of this life; — more closely to the original, ‘no one serving as a soldier.’ A soldier is a whole-timer; he is entirely given up to his military duty. He dare not get his service mixed up with business or family affairs. The word rendered “entangleth himself” is used elsewhere only in 2 Pet. 2. 20, there of becoming entangled in the defilements of the world.
that he may please him who enrolled him as a soldier. —he must not only avoid compromising his military service in the way mentioned, his energy must be devoted to winning the approval of (or, as the word probably means, ‘to be of use to’) his commander. Just so the servant of Christ must abstain from anything inconsistent with his calling as such. This certainly does not mean that one who preaches the gospel must never engage in earning his living. The Apostle himself did so upon occasion. What is here enjoined is singleness of aim, and abstention from anything contrary to the will of the Lord. This holds good for every believer.
The exhortation is in close connection with what has just been said in verse 3; for to shrink from taking one’s share of hardship is not consistent with pleasing Him who has called us to His service.-, Moreover, in spiritual activity it is Christ Himself who gives character to the service arid inspires its motive.
And if also a man contend in the games, he is not crowned, except he have contended lawfully. — the reference is to the Greek national games (The A.V. does not convey the meaning). The contending athlete was required to produce a certificate of Greek birth, then to undergo a course of training, and, in the actual contest, to conform to precise regulations; otherwise he would not obtain the prize of the chaplet with which the successful competitor was crowned. So with the servant of Christ, he must give evidence as to the fact of his spiritual birth, he must exercise self-control and endurance, and he must ever act in conformity with the Word of God. In this second illustration the inspiring motive is the reward. See verse 12.
The husbandman that laboureth must be the first to partake of the fruits. — the emphasis is on the word “laboureth,” and this may be brought out by the rendering, it is the husbandman that laboureth that must be the first, etc.
The three illustrations are taken from everyday life and each is indicative of patient, self-sacrificing and enduring toil. Again, there are three respective incentives. The first is that of pleasing the Lord. The second is the obtaining of the reward in the Day to come. The third is that of partaking of the fruits of labour.
Consider what I say; for the Lord shall give thee understanding in all things. — note that this is a promise, according to the best MSS., and the promise is given as a reason for the careful attention to the exhortations, though possibly the charge is connected also with what follows. If the full meaning of a Scripture is not at once evident, we may trust the Lord to give us understanding concerning it. To this end we must apply ourselves attentively to what is written. It is a sound principle that what is not clear in any Scripture is to be understood in the light of Scriptures that are clear.
Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, of the seed of David, according to my gospel: — the accurate R.V. rendering is important. The injunction is not to remember facts about Christ, but to remember, or keep in mind, the Person Himself, the risen, living One who became man. “Remember Jesus Christ:” that is a command which should be of the utmost value and assistance to us in all the circumstances and vicissitudes of our life. To obey it will enable us to walk in the fear of the Lord, when tempted to evil; it will stimulate our love and devotion to Him at all times. Let it be engraved on our minds and hearts. No better motto could be given to us. In the resurrection of Jesus Christ, as being of the seed of David, all the promises given under the first Covenant were confirmed either actually or potentially. Because He lives the promises are carried into effect in Him and by Him. The servant of Christ is, then, entirely dependent upon Him for the effectivity of his labour, and if he would be a good soldier, a successful spiritual athlete, and a faithful husbandman, he must keep in remembrance the Person in whose service he is engaged.
All that Christ is was proclaimed in the gospel, and though its proclamation involves suffering, there are compensations for the man whose soul is in it.
wherein I suffer hardship unto bonds, as a malefactor; — the same verb as in ver. 3. The Apostle’s mention of his experiences in this way would be an encouragement to Timothy. The word kakourgos, “ malefactor,” is the same as in Luke 23. 32, 33, 39, of the thieves who were crucified with Christ. A synonymous word, kakopoios, an evil-doer, is used in John 18. 30 (see the R.V.) and 1 Pet. 2. 12. Misrepresentations are difficult to bear, but if they are the outcome of fidelity in the service of Christ, “the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon us” (1 Pet. 4. 14).
but the word of God is not bound. — i.e., the gospel. It was a matter of compensating joy to him that the gospel, to which his life-service was devoted, could not be put in chains. Its progress was sure, whether by his own instrumentality or that of others (cp. Phil. 1. 12-18). The restriction of personal liberty in the service to which we were called, and in which formerly we had greater activity, need afford no ground for grief if the glory of Christ is the dominating factor in our hearts, and if faith rests in the assurance that our trials and difficulties are His appointment for us.
Therefore I endure all things for the elect’s sake, — that is to say, for the sake of those who, being chosen of God, would be saved through the gospel by reason of the fact he had just stated, namely, that the word of God was not fettered.
that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. — the “also” suggests the desire that others may enjoy what he himself would receive. That is, not only that they might be saved, but might receive a full reward hereafter. It is that to which the mention of glory refers. For whilst all the saved will be glorified, the next verse shows that the Apostle is thinking of the special rewards to be given to those who are faithful to Christ.
Faithful is the saying: — it is difficult to say whether this is retrospective and is connected with the preceding verse or is introductory to what follows. At first sight it would seem as if the conjunction “for” in the ensuing sentence makes the statement look back to what precedes. In all probability, however, the statements in verses 11-13, which are rhythmical in the original, partake of the character of a formula, if indeed they were not part of a hymn, and in that case the “For” would simply introduce these lines, to which “Faithful is the saying” would thus point.
For if we died with Him, we shall also live with Him: — the mention of eternal glory leads to a statement of the conditions relating to reigning with Christ hereafter. There are three. This is the first, and this condition being fulfilled in the case of every believer, for all have died with Christ, the result is assured to all. This identification with Christ in His death takes place at conversion, for in the new birth we pass from death into life; we are crucified with Him and we become eternally identified with Him in His life.
If we endure, we shall also reign with Him:— the actual sharing of His sovereign rule in His eternal Kingdom, is conditional upon our steadfastness and faithfulness, upon our bravely bearing up amidst sufferings for His sake. If we realized the tremendous character of the reward, with its glorious nature and power, we should determinedly seek grace and courage to go through all suffering and overcome every temptation, instead of giving way and yielding to the pressure of circumstances without and evil within. It is needful to observe that believers are constituted into a Kingdom as in the R.V. of Rev. 1. 6; 5. 10 (they are not spoken of as a whole company of “Kings,” as in the A.V.). We may be part of the Spiritual Kingdom without actually reigning.
if we shall deny Him, He also will deny us: — the verb rendered “deny” here means to disown, and so, on our part, to prove, faithless (cp. Matt. 10. 33; Luke 12. 9; John 13. 38). On the part of Christ, He will not cause us to lose our salvation, but He will disown us in the matter of reward for fidelity if that has not been the case.
if we are faithless, He abideth faithful; for He cannot deny Himself. — “ faithless” is the right rendering here, rather than the A.V. “believe not”; it is not a matter of unbelief but lack of fidelity, which implies more than mere unbelief. The word “deny” as used in this verse signifies to prove false to one’s self. The Lord ever acts consistently with His own character and this involves the withholding of a reward from those who are faithless. The statement is very solemn, and whilst the Lord is faithful to His promises that is not the point here. That He abideth faithful is not said by way of soothing comfort but as a warning.
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