Today we begin the book of 2 Timothy, a letter written by Paul to his disciple and fellow pastor Timothy. 2 Timothy is very likely the last letter that Paul wrote before he was executed (beheaded by Caesar Nero). When you read 2 Timothy, you’ll notice clues that Paul himself knew that his days on earth were coming to a close. As such, this letter is very tender and heartfelt, like a last letter from a father to his son.
2 Timothy 1:1 (NIV) 1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, according to the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus,
On verse 1: Paul would often begin his letters by identifying himself as “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God”. But this time he adds an extra phrase: “according to the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus”. It’s because Paul knows that his days on earth are nearing an end. Rather than complaining or feeling sorry for himself, he focuses on the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus.
What can we learn from this? When you’re facing great uncertainty or what appears to be an insurmountable challenge, hang on to the promises of God. And when you’re facing death’s door especially, hang on to the promise that in Jesus Christ there is eternal life.Praise God for Christians, we have the awesome assurance that when we die we don’t leave home; we go home and our new, fuller life begins.
2 Timothy 1:2 (NIV) 2 To Timothy, my dear son: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
On verse 2: Knowing this may be his last letter, Paul writes to Timothy, calling him “my dear son”.
2 Timothy 1:3-7 (NIV) 3 I thank God, whom I serve, as my forefathers did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. 4 Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy. 5 I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also. 6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7 For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.
On verses 3-7: I love how Paul writes to Timothy in the midst of Paul’s greatest challenge, facing death. On one hand Paul communicates how much he feels in his heart for Timothy (v2-5). At the same time, he also encourages Timothy. Paul tells Timothy not to be fearful or discouraged by the circumstances. He tells Timothy to keep fanning into flame the gift God gave him (likely the gift of preaching, pastoring and leading God’s people). It’s like he’s telling Timothy, “Son, just because I am in prison and may be executed soon, don’t let that stop you from running your race for God. Keep going. Run, lead, and serve God courageously.”
Paul also reminds Timothy that God has given them both a spirit not of timidity, but of power, love and self-discipline. Indeed 2 Timothy is a letter where we see that spirit of power, love and self-discipline at work in and through Paul.
What can we learn from this? When you’re facing death’s door or very uncertain times, take that opportunity to appreciate those you love, affirming how much they mean to you. Take the time also to encourage those around you, thanking God for His goodness, urging those around you to keep living for God’s glory and to never give up, and reminding them of who we are and what we have in Christ.
Heavenly Father, thank You so much for Paul and the way he faced death, uncertainty and hardship. When we encounter extremely tough times or face death’s door, may we hang onto Your promises, point to Your goodness, appreciate those God has placed in our lives, and encourage them. Thank You that because of Jesus we don’t need to live in fear, for You have given us a spirit of power, love and self-discipline, and the promise of eternal life. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!