2 Timothy 1:1-7
“…Be Strengthened By The Grace That Is In Christ Jesus.” 2:1
Paul writes 2 Timothy as he is awaiting execution. Paul is facing death, the end of his ministry, and abandonment by many of his friends due to their fear of persecution.
When Paul wrote 1 Timothy he was on the road hoping to visit Ephesus again. Now, he is imprisoned for what we believe is his second imprisonment. Tradition holds that Paul was likely housed in the Mammertine prison. If so, it was a dismal underground chamber with a single hole for light and air. He had already had his court hearing (4:16-18), and he expects that he’ll soon be executed (4:6-8).
Paul was lonely. Luke was the only one with him. Demas had abandoned him due to loving the world system (4:10). Crescens and Titus were off on their next ministry assignments while it seems things had deteriorated at Ephesus. There were desertions, but old Hymenaeus, who was excommunicated, was still doing his best to thwart the work of the gospel (1 Timothy 1:18-20; 2 Timothy 2:17-18).
Paul will conclude 2 Timothy with a request that Timothy come as quick as he can and bring John Mark with him and his warm clothing as well as the parchments (writing and copying the New Testament). We don’t know whether Timothy and John Mark got to him before he was executed.
So Paul, in this letter, faithfully directed his spiritual son Timothy to the hope that he has in Christ as he shepherds the Lord’s people there at Ephesus along with some very clear instructions on the continued work.
Let’s begin by looking at the introduction to the letter.
Corporate and Personal Greeting 1:1-2
Who is Paul’s audience? This is important to establish. The reason is that if this book is only written to Timothy, then only us pastors need to tune in and everyone else can check out. But if this letter is written to Timothy and the church at Ephesus too, then pastors and the whole church need to tune in and listen.
As we discovered in our study of 1 Timothy, the qualifications for an elder are clear but it’s not like the church member can ignore those qualifications and be slack in those areas, right?
Saying the instructions in the pastoral letters applies to the pastors and not the congregation would look like this: The elders need to be careful with their alcohol consumption but everyone else can just loose their minds. That makes no sense.
The same is true here, and our evidence starts in verse 1. Paul’s general greeting in 2 Timothy 1:1 is the same formula he used when writing whole churches. If Paul intended this letter for Timothy only this formal greeting would not be needful. But the fact that Paul included this formal greeting lets us know that he intends Timothy to read this letter to the entire church and for the entire church to be instructed.
Therefore, what is written in 2 Timothy is for all of us at TRCC and anyone reading 2 Timothy. None of us escape the applications we’ll make from 2 Timothy as we study through the book.
It is also clear from verse 2 that Paul is also writing Timothy specifically in this letter. This is clear from verse 2 and also from clear instruction to him, the personal nature and warm way he addresses Timothy.
So, as we study 2 Timothy we’ll note the corporate and personal instruction that comes to light.
So, 2 Timothy isn’t just a “pastoral” letter. 2 Timothy is a letter written to a church and the elder Paul appointed to lead that church, Timothy.
What do we learn from Paul’s introductory remarks to Timothy and the church at Ephesus?
Prayer Grace from the Lord and Warm Remembrance of Kingdom Fellowship 1:2-5
Paul begins his last instruction to Ephesus and Timothy with the 3-fold blessing of “grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Paul’s blessing is a prayer/desire for these people he loved. He prayed for the abundant loving kindness from the Lord to be evident, that the mercy of the Lord would be clear and that they would taste the peace of the Lord in spite of circumstances.
Paul then moves to a remembrance of their fellowship.
Our fellowship is to be real and palpable just like Paul, Timothy and the Ephesian’s fellowship was.
Fellowship among followers of Jesus covenanted together is to be exceptionally sweet.
Our foundation for fellowship is that we are created in the image of the Trinitarian God of creation. As a result of bearing the image of Trinity we are to be in fellowship as Father, Son and Spirit are in fellowship.
There is no such thing as fellowship-less Christians. The bible knows nothing of one of God’s people not covenanted together with others also in the kingdom.
Spirit empowered and controlled fellowship is essential, and we’ve studied that recently in Ephesians.
Here is a quick reminder:
Walking worthy of our gospel calling to be unified under the headship of Jesus (Ephesians 4:1). How did Paul describe that fellowship of walking worthy?
- Bearing with one another in love
- Eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace
- Eager to use one’s gifting for the building up of the body
- Refusing to fall prey to the deceitful schemes of Satan
- Grow up together into Jesus who is our Chief Shepherd
- Put off the old self and put on the new self
- We speak the truth but refuse to sin in righteous anger
- Labor so you can have something to share rather than being a taker
- Refuse to let corrupting talk come out of our mouths
- Don’t grieve the Holy Spirit
- Put away bitterness, wrath and malice
- We are kind to one another
- We seek to imitate God
- We put sexual immorality away from us
- Live wisely
- Understand the Lord’s will and live accordingly
- Live a Spirit-filled life
- Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ
- Husbands and wives maintain biblical marriage
- Children obey parents
- Fathers not provoking their children to anger
- Working to serve the Lord regardless of station
- Putting on the armor of God to stay alert and advance the gospel
We’ll refer to that as “Ephesian style” fellowship.
“Ephesian style” fellowship like this causes the pleasantness of Paul’s remembrance of Timothy and the Ephesians.
Listen to verse 3.
“I thank God whom I serve with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day.”
- Paul remembers Timothy in prayer v. 3
Although the “you” here is singular, it is clear from Acts 20:17-38 that Paul and the Ephesians have great love for each other.
But it seems that verse three is best understood in light of Paul’s personal relationship with Timothy.
Paul remembers Timothy in prayer night and day.
No doubt he is in prison and there is likely not much else Paul can do. However, what is to be noted is that Paul remembers Timothy with great fondness.
Paul interjects a little commentary about his service to the Lord with a clear conscience. If you read the sentence without his interjection it’s easier to make sense of his interjection.
“I thank God whom I serve as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day.”
Paul Gives thanks to the Lord for Timothy’s service as he prays for Timothy. Paul, in this thanksgiving for Timothy is giving thanks for his (Paul’s) opportunity for service as well. So, Paul’s occasion to give thanks for Timothy is an occasion to give thanks for what the Lord has done in and through him too.
The interjection, “…as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience…” helps us see that Paul has not abandoned his heritage, rather he has seen it fulfilled through Christ and his conscience is perfectly clear regarding his dealings with his Jewish background.
Paul didn’t abandon his heritage. Paul sought its transformation. Although Paul’s identity was larger than “Jew” as a citizen of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, Paul sought to bring as many of his countrymen as possible into his new identity as a follower of Jesus Christ.
We likewise don’t loose our distinctions, but our identity is clearly larger than our distinctions. However, we want as many of those we come from to come with us.
So, as Paul gives thanks for his and Timothy’s ministry, Paul also stands with a clear conscience in that ministry having served his people although they largely rejected the message from him.
So, what we understand is that Paul fondly remembers Timothy and their service together in the mission of Jesus and this causes Paul to pray for Timothy.
What application can we make from these truths?
A1. Serve together on mission.
A2. Grow in fondness for each other as you fellowship “Ephesian style”.
A3. Allow that fondness for each other to prompt you to prayer for each other
and the mission.
A4. Seek to bring as many as you can from your diverse background with you
through the preaching of the gospel into the community of the kingdom.
- This “Ephesian style” fellowship brings about a longing to be reunited v. 4
“As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy.”
Paul uses the perfect tense here to communicate the surety of his memory regarding Timothy’s love for him and Timothy’s love for the gospel.
Paul’s longing to see Timothy is more than an internal warm fuzzy. The grammar (participle) indicates that Paul’s longing is an internal and emotional desire that causes physical manifestations.
Their “Ephesians style” fellowship was so good that it affected Paul’s desire to see his friend and co-laborer in the gospel.
Do you ever want something so bad that you just sort of get antsy, just can’t sit still? That’s what Paul is describing here.
Paul can’t wait to see Timothy.
No doubt that there is a mission wrought closeness forged between Paul and Timothy.
Paul did have a father/son relationship with Timothy and he wanted to see his son in the faith.
The best way I can describe this longing is the longing I have when I’ve been out of the country and am on my way home.
I get into my “b-line” mode. I get impatient. I get fierce. I get socially bold.
No joke, I was returning from a trip out of the country and had been on multiple plane changes, I was tired and “hangry” and we had landed in Washington DC. The polite non-Americans were gone and we were boarding for the ATL with a bunch of rude dogs. I had a small carry on that I was going to stow away above my seat, sit down, close my eyes and snooze. However, some guy put his “should have been checked” luggage above my seat and then put his carry on size bag above his own seat. I was done. I sat my small bag down in my seat. I grabbed his “should have been checked” luggage from my overhead bin. I walked it over to him. I sat it down in the aisle beside him and said, “That’s my overhead bin not yours. Check you bag.” I was one landing and a quick drive away from seeing my wife and kids. No moron was standing in the way. My longing was strong. My family is vital to me. I long to see them when I’m away. I love them.
That’s Paul’s love for Timothy. “I long to see you.”
This is the kind of love we are to also have for each other in the community of the kingdom.
Do you endear yourself to each other that way? Do you long for each other the way Paul does for Timothy?
How can we grow that?
A1. We must do the mission together
A2. We must do time together
A3. We must be mutual servants of each other
This leads to a love for and longing to be together.
- This “Ephesian style” fellowship also provides a reminder of faithfulness v. 5
Paul’s ministry with and longing for his son in the faith led to his remembering Timothy’s faith.
“I am reminded of your sincere faith…”
Paul encourages Timothy in this reminder that his faith is genuine. No doubt Timothy needs to be reminded that his faith is real. He’s a pastor at Ephesus. They got a letter from Paul and one from Jesus in Revelation. Apparently this was not the easiest of pastoral locations. You might be a hard place when you get a letter from Jesus!
Notice, however, what Paul speaks regarding Timothy’s faith:
“…a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice…”
There is a component of faith that is given as a gift, and that’s saving faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). Then there is a component to our continued faithfulness that is passed on and imitated, that component of our trust in Jesus that we put to work in how we respond to crisis or engagement in the work of the gospel.
The writer of Hebrews uses chapter 11 to move his readers on to faithful living in light of the saving faith imparted through the work of the gospel. He exhorts them, in light of those who had born witness to a life of faith to likewise throw off the hindrances and run like those witnesses to a life of faithfulness.
Here, Paul reminds Timothy of his heritage of faithful trust in the Lord and encourages Timothy to imitate that faithfulness.
Timothy is in the middle of pastoring a in a tough place, and Paul reminds Timothy to imitate the faithfulness that he has seen in his own family from a faithful mom and grandmother.
Timothy’s assignment will require him to trust in the Lord and hold on.
So, Paul affirms Timothy’s faith and therefore, brings encouragement to the young pastor to hang on and fight the good fight of the faith.
A few points of application:
A1. If you have a heritage of faithfulness to Jesus’ mission, draw on it.
A2. If you don’t have a heritage of faithfulness to Jesus’ mission, create it for
- This “Ephesian style” fellowship allows for giving strong instruction 1:6-7
Take note, if you are going to give instruction to a fellow church member you need relational / fellowship capital with which to do that. When you have done the mission with, bled with, stuck with, gone to war with, and fought for you can say things that you can’t typically say.
If you are going to give pastoral tips you need to be a spiritual father or have been in the trenches with the man first.
People have a tendency to want to tell people how to do ministry with no fellowship capital or for that matter with no co-ministry capital. It’s amazing sometimes that armchair ministry / pastor types read a book and now they are an expert though having done nothing but leave chaos in their wake. It simply does not work that way.
“Ephesian style” fellowship makes it possible to give instruction.
Paul says, “For this reason”.
What reason? Thanksgiving for common ministry, joy in co-laboring work and a great desire to be reunited and Timothy’s faith is firmly in tact. He trusts Jesus. He’s filled with the Spirit. He’s adequately Spirit gifted. For this reason Paul now exhorts Timothy to get after the work.
Paul instructs Timothy to get after the work by fanning his Spirit gifting into flame.
Somehow and some way Timothy received a ministry gift when Paul laid hands on him and prayed for him. Whether this was an “ordaining” service or simply Paul laying his hands on Timothy and praying for him we are not sure. That’s not the point of the text anyway.
The point is that Father has gifted Timothy and Timothy is to fan that gift into flame.
This is interesting and insightful regarding Timothy’s gifting and ours.
Timothy had a role in the sovereignly given gift’s exercise. Spirit gives the ministry gift and then Timothy had to “fan it into flame”.
Whatever this gifting is the temptation seems to be, according to verse 7, to let it lie dormant or not at full potency due to fear.
It could be that Timothy’s opponents have him cowering due to their myth telling and powerful speech, but regardless, Timothy has let his gift wane and Paul reminds him we have been given power, love and self-control.
What is Timothy to do with this instruction? What are we to do with this instruction?
- Realize our Spirit gifting requires disciplined exercise in the church
The bible does not give us a list of “how to’s” regarding our growth in the right use of Spiritual gifts.
What the bible does teach us is that gifts are for others and they are for building up the church.
We become aware of our gifting in the church and those gifts are refined in the church.
How can I know my gifting?
Jolly’s Spiritual Gift Inventory:
- What do I do that is either natural and transformed by the gospel or supernaturally given that serves other people in the church or advances the kingdom of Jesus Christ?
- Does that thing serve other people and build them up or point them toward Jesus for salvation?
- Does that thing make me happy and give me more energy the more I do it?
That is your Spirit gifting. Use it.
How do you use it? First, be at church on Sundays. Second, be in a Radical Life Group that meets consistently. Third, serve people in need. Fourth, use your gift with humility. Fifth, grow at discerning the impact of your gifting and seek to grow that impact as Father would allow.
Side Note: Some of this is just the nuts and bolts of life together, but if you serve people you will get served when it’s needed, but if you hide and don’t get connected and needs arise it’s hard to get people to take care of that because they don’t know you. But when people who serve people have a need and don’t pridefully hide it, those people get rallied around.
- We are to exercise our gifting in love for Jesus and his church
It should go without saying, but our gifting is for the glory of Jesus, who gives such gifts to his church through the Spirit, and for the building up of his church. (Ephesians 4:7-14)
- We are to exercise our gifting in self-control
In order to get a picture of what this may look like it may be helpful to think about 1 Corinthians 12-14.
People were using their gifting in prideful arrogance to put their spirituality on display rather than for the purpose of building up the church.
Self-controlled gifting looks like using the Lord’s gifting for its purpose not for the gifted person’s reputation of being spiritual.
Jesus taught us this in Matthew 6 regarding prayer and fasting. We don’t exercise these things to be seen by men. Rather we exercise these things to be seen by God.
Likewise, gifting is not for the gifted to grow their devotional life or their career. Gifting is for the other not the possessor of the gift.
However, the gifting is not to be ignored either. It is to be put to work. So, the gifted do not quench the Spirit, rather they grow in their use of and understanding of that gifting for the building up of the body of Christ so that their family can grow up into Christ.
Therefore, Timothy was to not ignore nor abuse his gifting. Neither are we.
Psalm 147:1 “Praise the LORD! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting.”