Sunday, February 12, 2023

Lesson Text:  II Timothy 1:3-14; Time of Action: probably about 67 A.D.; Place of Action: Paul writes to Timothy from Rome

Golden Text:  “Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus” (II Timothy 1:13).


I. INTRODUCTION. The apostle Paul had a warm spot in his heart for Timothy.  He tried very hard to encourage him to build his life and ministry upon the rich Christian heritage that he had. Like Timothy, those believers who grow up in Christian homes have a wonderful heritage.  They are able to experience firsthand how a Christian family should be.  In this week’s lesson, Paul wrote to young Timothy, his son in the LORD (see I Timothy 1:2), about his background.


II. THE LESSON BACKGROUND. The second letter to Timothy is among the most personal in the Bible and maybe the most moving. With his death approaching (see II Timothy 4:6), Paul wrote to Timothy, his young protégé with stirring words.  As he wrote, Paul was a prisoner of Rome and due to be executed by beheading.  He was not only in prison, but he had been abandoned by many of his friends (see II Timothy 1:15; 4:16).  This epistle contains the most detailed account from Paul about the conditions that will prevail on earth during the last days (see II Timothy 3:1-9; 4:3-4).           



          A. Paul’s prayer (II Timothy 1:3-4).

               1. (vs. 3). Our first verse says “I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers with pure conscience, that without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day.”  Even in the simple act of telling Timothy that he was praying for him, Paul was profound in the revelation of truth.  The expression “I thank God” led Paul to make a point about “God.”  Paul said that it was “God, whom I serve from my forefathers with pure conscience.”  There are a number of important truths in this statement.  First, Paul’s current faith was not a total separation from his Judaism.  The forefathers Paul referred to could be the patriarchs but more likely are his parents who were Jewish.  Judaism is the root from which the free tree of faith in Jesus sprang (see Romans 11:16-17).   Second, Paul said that he served God with a “pure conscience” even before he trusted in Jesus Christ.  The “pure conscience” he referred to was not due to forgiveness of sins but to living a holy life.  Paul obeyed God’s commandments even before knowing Christ.  This does not mean that he was not a sinner, for in places he has specifically revealed sins in his previous life (see Romans 7:7-8).  From this we learn that a believer can live a life of obedience and, even though sin is not totally absent, he or she can be regarded as living with a “pure conscience.”  Paul also said to Timothy that he thanked God that without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day.”  In other words, Paul prayed for Timothy constantly, both “day and night.”  Not many people can say that they pray for someone day and night.  Paul’s great love, as well as his faithful commitment to prayer and obedience, is evident.  The truth of the matter is if Paul could obey God with a “pure conscience” and pray “day and night” for the people most important to him, so can we.

               2. (vs. 4). This verse says “Greatly desiring to see thee, being mindful of thy tears, that I may be filled with joy.”  One of the things that made Paul think of Timothy so often was a memory of Timothy crying.  Paul said that he was “Greatly desiring to see thee (Timothy), being mindful of thy tears.”  Perhaps when Paul left Timothy behind in Ephesus when he went to Macedonia (see I Timothy 1:3), the young man had wept.  Timothy’s great love for and dependence on his mentor brought him all the more closer to Paul.  The Apostle Paul declared that he was “Greatly desiring to see” Timothy so that he “may be filled with joy.”  If his desire to see Timothy became a reality, Paul was sure that any “tears” that had been shed would be replaced “with joy.”  Paul and Timothy are models of the kind of affection and emotional love that should exist in relationships in the church.

          B. Timothy’s faith (II Timothy 1:5).  This verse says When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also.” Here Paul referred to a quality in Timothy that stood out to him as valuable for his calling.  He said When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee.”   The word unfeigned” means “sincere” or “not hypocritical.”  Timothy had an unfeigned faith” which means that it was not hypocritical, it was sincere and genuine.  Timothy had a great trust in God that was not pretended.  Some people constantly speak as though they have “faith” or trust, but the “faith” they proclaim to have is in word only.  Inside they are full of fears and worries.  Paul acknowledged that Timothy’s unfeigned faith… dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice.”  The Apostle was saying that Timothy’s sincere and genuine “faith” was taught to him by the example of his “mother Eunice” and his “grandmother Lois.”  Timothy’s “mother” was Jewish, but his father was Greek, a Gentile (see Acts 16:1).  Evidently, his father didn’t believe in Israel’s God.  We know very little about Timothy’s “mother” and “grandmother.”  Since they were Jewish, they probably taught Timothy the Scriptures, perhaps even before they knew Jesus, but the “faith” that Paul referred to was most likely “faith” in Jesus.  Timothy received from his “mother” and “grandmother” a Jewish heritage including scriptural knowledge as well as faith in Jesus Christ.  Paul praised this “faith” as being deep and genuine, qualities that came from the example and instruction of these godly women.   So he could earnestly say to Timothy “I am persuaded (convinced) that” this same genuine “faith” is “in thee also.”



          A. Timothy’s spiritual gift (II Timothy 1:6).  This verse says “Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.”  As he had done in I Timothy 4:14, once again Paul reminded Timothy of his spiritual “gift.”  The word “Wherefore” connects this verse with verse 5 and it can mean “this is the reason why” or “because of this.”  In other words, Paul was saying that it was because of Timothy’s unfeigned or genuine faith (see verse 5) that “I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God.”  The fact that Paul had to remind Timothy of his “gift” more than once (see I Timothy 4:14) may suggest the possibility that Timothy was in some way timid about using it.  After all, he was still a very young man (see I Timothy 4:12).   Apparently, Paul felt that it was necessary to encourage Timothy at this point in his life by reminding him that God had given him a spiritual “gift” that he needed to “stir up” or activate.  Here the words “stir up” have the idea of fanning a small spark when starting a fire.  The spark is fanned until it becomes a flame.  In the same way, Paul encouraged Timothy to fan the spark of his “gift” so that it will develop and become more useful.  Maybe he needed to do more study of Scripture, preaching and teaching (see I Timothy 4:13).  “Gifts” are given to be used in ministering to the body of Christ (see I Corinthians 12:4-7).  Any “gift” that is not being used is being wasted.  We are not told what Timothy’s “gift” was, but we can be sure that God thought it was necessary for him to be effective in his ministry.  After reminding Timothy to “stir up” his spiritual “gift,” Paul also reminded him saying that it “is in thee by the putting on of my hands.”  Although we don’t know for sure, many scholars believe that Paul may have been referring to an event mentioned in I Timothy 4:14, in which a group of elders referred to as “the presbytery” along with Paul, laid hands on Timothy perhaps setting him apart for ministry.  It appears that at that time Timothy received his spiritual “gift,” along with a word of prophecy appointing him for service (see Acts 13:1-3).

          B. Timothy’s calling (II Timothy 1:7). This verse says For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”  It’s quite possible that Timothy was hesitant about activating or stirring up his gift thinking that it might draw attention to him at a time when the church was being persecuted, therefore exposing him to personal danger.  He was well aware that Paul was in prison in Rome for preaching the gospel.  Another reason that he may have been hesitant is that he may have been afraid of not being heard because of his youthfulness which Paul had addressed in his first letter to Timothy (see I Timothy 4:12).  So to encourage Timothy to exercise his gift Paul said For God hath not given us the spirit of fear.”  The LORD only gives good and perfect gifts, which means that “fear” does not come from Him (see James 1:17).  Instead of “the spirit of fear,” Paul said God gives us “(the spirit) of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”  The words “a sound mind” refer to personal discipline and self control; speaking the words of truth and soberness.  The principle that Paul gives to Timothy and us is that God’s empowerment emboldens; it does not make us timid or fearful.  Even though Christians are called to be selfless and yielding in earthly matters, we are called to be daring and fearless in helping others know the truth and in using the spiritual gifts God has given us.



          A. Remember God’s power (II Timothy 1:8). This verse says Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our LORD, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God.”  Since Paul had declared that Timothy should have no fears when it came to his ministry and using his gift (see verse 7), here he said Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our LORD, nor of me his prisoner.”  Since Timothy was blessed with God’s gifts of power, love, and a sound mind (see verse 7), he was not to be “ashamed” of the message of Jesus Christ or of Paul’s imprisonment.  Although the message of Jesus Christ crucified may seem foolish to some (see I Corinthians 1:18), we should not be afraid to share it.  Likewise, when godly believers are subjected to scorn or persecution, we should not be “ashamed” of them.  Instead of being “ashamed,” Paul told Timothy to “be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God.”  The “gospel” is “the testimony of our LORD” and by it He bears “testimony” of Himself to us, and by professing our adherence to it we bear “testimony” of Him and for Him.  By keeping up the work of “the gospel” even when some people are suffering for it, we are being “partakers of the afflictions (or suffering) of the gospel” or the Cross.  Not only are we to sympathize with those who suffer for “the gospel,” but we should be ready to suffer with them and suffer like them.  Paul added that when we suffer for “the gospel,” whatever we experience will be proportioned, “according to the power of God” (see I Corinthians 10:13) resting upon us.  In other words, the LORD will empower us to bear whatever “afflictions” or sufferings we may experience for the preaching of “the gospel.”

          B. Remember God’s calling (II Timothy 1:9-10).

               1. (vs. 9). This verse says Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.”  Here Paul gives the reason why Timothy (and us), should be willing to suffer for the gospel of Jesus Christ.  The word Who” refers to God in the previous verse.  First, Paul said that it was God Who hath saved us.”  The general teaching of the New Testament is that this salvation is being “saved” from God’s wrath and eternal judgment (see Romans 8:1).  The term “saved” is in the past tense meaning that it is already a completed act.  Since our salvation is a completed act, we cannot lose it (see John 10:27-29; I Peter 1:3-5).  Second Paul said that God has “called us with an holy calling.”  While we use “calling” in the sense of being called to a vocation, usually ministry, Paul meant it in a broader sense.  God’s “holy calling” for believers is His plan for our future including transforming us from death bound, sinful creations to perfect, glorious immortals fully reflecting His image (see Romans 8:29; Colossians 3:10).  In case Timothy or anyone else thought that they earned their salvation and “holy calling,” Paul clearly stated otherwise.  He said our salvation and “calling” was “not according to our works.”  In other words, God didn’t save or call us because we impressed Him with our good deeds.  Instead of using “our works” to determine who would be “saved” and called, God did this “according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.”  God had His own “purpose” in saving sinful creatures and making them perfect or spiritually mature (see I Corinthians 2:6; II Corinthians 13:11; Ephesians 4:11-13; Philippians 3:15; Colossians 4:12).  Paul said that not only did God save us for “his own purpose,” He did it also by His “grace,” His undeserved favor, “which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.”  The salvation and “calling” from God was granted to us “before the world began.”  Although we were not alive to receive God’s “calling” at that time, He already knew us.  In His foreknowledge, God already loved us and ordained that we would be called to perfection or maturity and immorality.  Simply, put even “before the world” was created, God knew who would accept His salvation and “holy calling.”

               2. (vs. 10). This verse says But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”  After presenting such a beautiful picture of God’s gift and love, Paul made a remarkable point here when he said But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ.”  This means that God’s divine grace and foreknowledge was fully revealed in the Person of Jesus of Nazareth, here referred to as “our Saviour Jesus Christ.”  When “Jesus” appeared, God had become man and walked the earth with us (see John 1:1, 14).  We saw in Him God’s love for us, which began before the world was ever made (see verse 9).  When “our Saviour Jesus Christ” appeared on earth, He “abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”  By “gospel” Paul meant the “death” and resurrection of “Jesus Christ” as well as the message to follow Him and prepare for His kingdom (see I Corinthians 15:1-8).  Paul declared that Jesus Christ, “through (or by) the gospel” has “abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light.”  This means that the preaching of “the gospel” of Jesus Christ destroys “death” and reveals to mankind what “life and immortality” really is—eternal life: it cannot be destroyed.  To bring something “to light” means to reveal it.  We should value “the gospel” more than ever, for it brings “life and immortality to light.”

          C. Paul’s apostleship (II Timothy 1:11-12).

               1. (vs. 11). This verse says Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.”  The word Whereunto” can mean “for which.”  Still talking about the gospel (see verse 10), here Paul said that it was the gospel for which “I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.”  The word “appointed” can also mean “called.”  Paul said that because of the gospel, he had a three-fold calling.  He was called to be “a preacher” or a herald of the good news.  He was also called to be “an apostle” which means “sent one.”  Therefore, a true “apostle” was someone “appointed” and sent by Jesus to preach the gospel (see Mathew 10:1-7; Acts 9:1-6, 15-16).  But an apostle had to have seen Jesus after His resurrection and Paul had (see I Corinthians 15:3-8).  He was also called to be “a teacher.”  However, he was called to perform all three roles to “the Gentiles.”  It is noteworthy that Paul identified his threefold calling with “the Gentiles” or non-Jews.  Paul often referred to himself as a minister and apostle to “the Gentiles” (see Romans 11:13; Romans 15:16).  Of course, Paul began his ministry to the Jews, but because they refused to hear his message, he committed to taking the gospel to “the Gentiles” (see Acts 13:45-46).

               2. (vs. 12). This verse says For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.”  The phrase For the which cause” can mean “for this reason” or “because of.”  The apostle Paul was saying that it was because of his apostleship that “I also suffer these things” which included all the persecutions he faced, particularly his imprisonment in Rome.  Jesus told His disciples that they would be imprisoned (see Luke 21:7, 12), and He said that whoever is persecuted for His sake is blessed or happy (see Matthew 5:10-12).  Although Paul faced people who scorned him and planned to kill him, he remained steadfast in his faith.  So he said “nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed.”  Paul never regretted his calling because there was no doubt in his mind in “whom He believed.”  Then he added, “and (I) am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.”  The pronoun “he” here refers to Jesus Christ, the one in “whom” Paul “believed.”  Not only did Paul believe in Him, he declared that he was “persuaded” or convinced that Jesus had the power and ability “to keep” his salvation secure.  Paul’s salvation was what he meant by the phrase “that which I have committed unto him.”  Like all of should, Paul had entrusted his salvation to Jesus to be held secure “against that day” or until “that day” which refers to the time when we stand before Him.  There is a day coming, when we will stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ (see II Corinthians 5:10; II Timothy 4:7-8) and must give an account of our stewardship (see Luke 16:2; I Corinthians 3:13-15).  Paul had “committed” his future to Jesus Christ and knew that it was safe.  Every believer in Jesus Christ can be secure in knowing that no government or even spiritual power can take away what Jesus has promised—eternal life (see John 10:28).

          D. Paul’s concern (II Timothy 1:13-14).

               1. (vs. 13). This verse says Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.”  Knowing that his apostleship and his life was about to end (see II Timothy 4:6-7) and another generation of leaders had to carry on, Paul was concerned that his work continue.  Timothy was a key leader in this next generation so Paul wanted to strengthen and prepare him.  No, Timothy didn’t have to find new teachings.  Therefore, Paul told him to Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me.”  In other words, Timothy was to “hold” on to “sound” or right teaching that Paul had already shown him.  The point is that there is no new message.  The message of our faith has been delivered or given once and for all to the saints (see Jude 3).  The church’s calling is to proclaim that truth without ever changing the message, even if the methods and cultures should change.  Timothy was encouraged to carry the same message as Paul, and deliver it to the next generation, who would deliver it to the next, and so on.  Paul also told Timothy that he was to follow that model of right teaching with the “faith and love we have in Christ Jesus.”

               2. (vs. 14).  Our final verse says That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us.”  The phrase That good thing which was committed unto thee” refers back to the “sound words” in verse 13.   This is the Christian doctrine that “was committed” to Timothy in his baptism and education as a Christian, and in his ordination as a minister.  The Christian doctrine is a trust “committed” to believers.  It is a “good thing” of unspeakable value in itself; it is a “good thing” indeed, an inestimable jewel, for it opens to us “the unsearchable riches of Christ” (see Ephesians 3:8).  It is “committed” to us to be preserved pure and complete, and to be passed on to those who come after us.   Timothy was told to “keep” or preserve it, not deviating from the truth of the gospel.  We too, must “keep” it, and not add anything that will corrupt its purity, weaken its power, or diminish its perfection.  But to truly “keep” the Christian doctrine and the gospel pure and error free, Paul said that Timothy (and us) could only do it “by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us.”  Even those who are so well taught in the Scriptures cannot “keep” what they have learned, any more than they could at first learn it, without the assistance of “the Holy Spirit.”  We must not attempt to “keep” it by our own strength, but “by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us.”  The “Holy Ghost” dwells in all good ministers and Christians; they are His temples (see I Corinthians 3:16; 6:19), and he enables us to “keep” the gospel pure and uncorrupt.  Yes, we are commanded to “keep” the gospel message pure and uncorrupt which indicates that we have a part to play.  The assistance and indwelling of the “Holy Ghost” does not mean that we don’t put forth any efforts, for we work together.  The “Holy Spirit” does not force people to believe the truth nor does He force us to “keep” or preserve it.  But He does influence us.  When we think about distorting the gospel, the “Holy Spirit” causes us to be uneasy.  Followers of Jesus need to be sensitive to the leading of the “Holy Spirit” who leads us to believe in Jesus and to believe the Scriptures are true.


VI. Conclusion. From his prison cell, Paul encouraged Timothy to recall his rich Christian heritage. He had a mother and a grandmother who loved the LORD.  He had received a special gift from God when he was ordained.  He had received great teaching from Paul.  All of this provided this young man Timothy with a very solid foundation.  Likewise, we should make it our goal to present a Christian heritage to the next generation.



***The Sunday School Lesson; The International Sunday School Lesson Curriculum***