A Study of 2 Tim.2:1-26>
Every faithful servant of Christ must display a Christlike characteristic, and the first should be that of discipline: “…be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” <2 Tim.2:1 (NIV)>. Let us remember our responsibility; do not be ashamed to testify of God’s goodness <2 Tim.1:8>; guard what has been entrusted to us <2 Tim.1:14>; always acknowledging our source of power <Eph.1:19; 6:10>. One other responsibility of a faithful servant is to ensure that there is a qualified successor to take over: “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.” <2 Tim.2:2 (NIV)>; a good teacher will teach with the intent that others will become qualified to continue teaching the undiluted gospel. Just as Timothy had been under the tutorship of Paul, now he must be sure that the pattern is continued.
“Endure hardship”; in every aspect of life there is adversity that must be tolerated, and the longer we live the more adversity we face. Paul encourages Timothy to persevere as a good soldier of Christ <2 Tim.2:3-5>. As any soldier will testify, there is a great deal to persevere while enlisted. It is the same for all soldiers of Christ, the longer we serve the more difficult the battle becomes, for we are reminded that our battle is not against the human enemy but against the unseen enemy – that of Satan – and only by the help of the Holy Spirit can we overcome <see Eph.6:11-13>. In similarity, as a soldier wishes to please the commanding officer, likewise the soldier of Christ should please Christ as ‘The Commanding Officer’. Paul also compares our service to that of an athlete who “does not receive the victor’s crown unless he competes according to the rules.” <2 Tim.2:5 (NIV)>; the athlete either loses the race or is disqualified. In similarity, Christ’s servant must serve according to the rules as outlined in the Scriptures, understanding that there will be consequences to those who persist in going against God’s rules <see 1 Cor.9:25-27>.
“The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops.” <2 Tim.2:6 (NIV)>; here again Paul is making reference to adversity and perseverance, for farming is not an easy profession. The normal work day for any farmer is from daybreak to sunset, and these are the hours from day to day, and he faces many adversities; but the end result is that with perseverance the best of the produce is harvested.
The characteristics of a faithful servant of Christ is persevering through all adversities by the help of The Holy Spirit. For all of God’s faithful servants will face these demands of service and possess these characteristics; but we all must understand that faithful service can only be possible through The Lord Jesus Christ who is alive for evermore, and this is the theme of the gospel; and even though there are many adversities in serving God, when we are restrained by Satan “God’s word is not chained.” <2 Tim.2:9 (NIV); cf Isa.55:11>. We therefore continue to live and preach the gospel in service to our faithful Commander. Paul now ends this section with another of his trustworthy sayings: “If we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us; if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.” <2 Tim.2:11-13 (NIV); see Matt.10:32-33>; and as God’s servants let us pay specific attention to Paul’s last sentence: no matter how unfaithful we become; our Lord Jesus Christ will always remain faithful!
“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” <2 Tim.2:15 (NIV)>. Church leaders; whether Bishop, Pastor or Elder, are appointed to the position by their associates but are all approved by God. Those that are approved will see their work blessed by God, those that are not approved by God will see very little progress. Paul reminds us that a diligent approved worker for God does not need to be ashamed when correctly handling the Word of Truth, for God’s continued approval rests upon this. There are three warnings given here to Church leaders as well as all who diligently serve God. First: “Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen.” <2 Tim.2:14 (NIV)>; it is unfortunate that such arguing occurs in our churches today over words and phrases used in scripture where different implications give rise to arguments; let us be aware of the consequences – it ruins those who listen – let us not be the instruments of ruining the lives of other believers in Christ <cf 1 Tim.1:4; 6:4; Tit.3:9>, for our freedom to do or say things can cause the younger believer, or believers that are not strong in faith, to stumble <see 1 Cor.8:9>. Secondly, he says: “Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly.” <2 Tim.2:16 (NIV)>; chatter can be described as continuous and often purposeless speech, also gossiping; and where such is all that one can talk about especially when there is little or no reference to the Scriptures or God, those involved will become more ungodly <cf Job 38:2; Prov.20:15; Col.4:6>. All God’s workers must be very careful to present the undiluted Word of God! Third: every faithful worker of God must be careful in the interpretation of the Scriptures, especially where such interpretation will “destroy the faith of some” <2 Tim.2:18 (NIV)>; sad to say that there are those that have been turned away from the Church, and God, because of what has been preached from the pulpit! Paul’s summation is: “Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.”” <2 Tim.2:19 (NIV)>. The foundation of the Church is protected by two guarantees: first, it is secured by God in Christ for He intimately knows all that are His: secondly, there is the human responsibility which means that all who acknowledge His name must turn away from sin and iniquity. Let us always remember that God owns the Church and securely protects it with His assurance <see Eph.1:13>. The Lord knows those that are approved for His service, and those that are approved, as well as all others, must turn away from sin and iniquity!
The Faithful servant of God must be “sanctified Vessel” <2 Tim.2:20-23>, one that engages in “righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” <2 Tim.2:22 (NIV)>. We are sanctified in righteousness, faith, love and peace by clinging to that which is principled, by the cleansing of The Holy Spirit; and we should note that Paul encourages us to seek the company of those that call on the name of the Lord, and in so doing we remain useful to The Master and are prepared to do His good work <2 Tim.2:20-21; cf 1 Jn.2:1-6>. Paul also reminds us to avoid “foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels.” <2 Tim.2:23 (NIV); cf 2 Tim.2:14>.
One of the greatest difficulties that faces any church leader is addressed here by Paul: “the Lord’s servant …. must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.” <2 Tim.2:24 (NIV)>. When God’s servant is faced with continuous criticism and attacks by various individuals who have fallen for the “trap” of Satan <2 Tim.2:26>, it takes God’s love and the help of The Holy Spirit not to argue, in this we need to follow Christ’s example <see Matt.11:29>. Why should he be able to teach, why should he be not angry? Because of his good teaching and bearing no grudge: “Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.” <2 Tim.2:25-26 (NIV)>. It should always be the aim of all Pastors, Bishops, and other leaders (and all of God’s workers) to present God’s Word with the intent that through hearing the truth unbelievers will repent, come to their senses and escape Satan’s trap that has taken them captive to do his bidding <see Psa.25:15; 31:4; Jn.17:17>.