Questions: Why is Paul so fond of Timothy? With what has God blessed Timothy? Is there something to be ashamed of? Why does he suffer? To what does he hold? Who holds onto him?
Read More to pursue answers from Second Timothy.
Technorati Tags: bible, epistle, faith, shame, suffering, timothy
Lord, make me a Fountain of your Love.
Draw me into your Presence
And fill me with your Holy Spirit
That I would know you as my Father
And manifest the image of Christ
In this world, and the world to come. Amen.
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus,
Interesting. Of all the reasons he could give for writing this letter, why did he pick “the promise of life”?
To Timothy, [my] dearly beloved son: Grace, mercy, [and] peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
Clearly, there’s a strong emotional tie between him and Timothy:
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;
Huh. Not sure why he felt the need to interject that comment about a pure conscience, since the focus still seems to be on their relationship:
Greatly desiring to see thee, being mindful of thy tears, that I may be filled with joy;
Their relationship is deeply intertwined with Timothy’s family tree:
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.
I can’t help but notice the lack of male role models, which may have made Paul a surrogate father-figure. At any rate, Timothy has not merely inherited his maternal faith, but also a spiritual anointing:
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.
Paul seems particularly concerned that Timothy use that gift to combat timidity:
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
The implication being that Timothy is being tempted by a spirit of fear, and i) power, ii) love, and iii) clear thinking are the antidote.
So where is that fear coming from?
Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner:
Well, we can’t be certain, but it seems plausible that Timothy was both saddened and embarrassed to have his mentor in prison. More, he might’ve feared for his own safety. Which could be why Paul turns that concern on its head:
but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God;
If I read this right, Paul is telling Timothy to choose to share in Paul’s suffering, rather than avoid them. Why? Because i) it is for the gospel, and ii) it unleashes the power of God:
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,
That is, it is all about God, who is in charge of everything, and:
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:
It is all about Jesus, who brings life out of death. And Paul’s whole purpose in life is to share that Message:
Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles
And if suffering is a part of that, then he gladly accepts it:
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.
There’s that “shame” word (epaischunomai) again. In Eastern culture, even more than here, it must’ve been a terribly shameful thing to have a close friend (never mind a teacher!) in prison. In fact, one could argue that the primary purpose of prison is a kind of public shaming (but that’s a whole ‘nother discussion).
Nonetheless, Paul isn’t ashamed, for his faith is in an Authority far stronger and more reliable than that which imprisons him. Who is also worthy of Timothy’s trust:
Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.
That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us.
I see those two verses as parallel: the faith and love of Jesus is maintained by the indwelling Holy Spirit (and probably vice versa).
This is in contrast to those who pull away in the midst of persecution:
This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes.
Perhaps this is why Paul focused on shame so much, because the shame of Paul’s imprisonment was too much for Phygellus and Hermogenes. But thank God, not too much for Onesiphurus:
The Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus; for he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain:
Who rather than pulling away, drew closer to Paul in his adversity:
But, when he was in Rome, he sought me out very diligently, and found [me].
For which Paul gives an unusual blessing:
The Lord grant unto him that he may find mercy of the Lord in that day: and in how many things he ministered unto me at Ephesus, thou knowest very well.
What is “that day”? Presumably the day of reckoning in the afterlife. In other words, it is precisely when we go against social convention and push through to do what is right that we store up for ourselves eternal treasure. And that serving a servant of the gospel bears eternal rewards.
God, teach me what it means to persevere for the gospel. Forgive me for the times I’ve been ashamed of you and your Message. May I be a source of refreshing to those who need it, especially of the family of faith. Let me not neglect the gifts you’ve given me, or the faith passed down to me, but use it for your glory. I ask this in Jesus name, Amen.