In the opening chapter, Paul encouraged Timothy to press on in the calling and ministry of God even in the face of adversity. In this chapter, Paul teaches Timothy how to be a good worker of God. The attributes of a good worker can be broadly classified into three aspects: endurance in hardship, faithfulness to the truth, and godly character.
Did You Know...?
- Endurance in Hardship (2:1-13)
- Faithfulness to the Truth (2:14-18)
- Godly Character (2:19-26)
Record the various metaphors in this passage that represent the minister of the gospel.Hide Answer
Soldier (3), athlete (5), farmer (6), worker (15), vessel (20), servant (24).
What instructions does Paul give to Timothy to ensure that the ministry of the word continues (1-3)?Hide Answer
1. Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus (1).
2. Commit the things that he has heard to faithful men who will be able to teach others also (2).
3. Endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ (3).
What does it mean to be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus?Hide Answer
In this context, to be strong means to have the courage and the endurance to face hardship. This strength is not based on fleshly courage, but on the grace of Christ Jesus. In other words, it is by depending on the gracious help of the Lord rather than on self- confidence that we can truly be strong.
What can we learn about our ministry based on Paul’s instruction to Timothy to commit the word to faithful men?Hide Answer
Apart from serving God faithfully and fulfilling our ministry, it is important that we pay attention to searching out faithful men to whom we can entrust the word of God and the ministry. These faithful men themselves must also be able to teach others in order to ensure continuity of the word and the ministry. This principle applies to all areas of church work where we need to consciously nurture successors.
What do the metaphors of soldier, athlete, and farmer teach about the minister of the gospel?Hide Answer
A soldier needs to endure hardship. He has to be absolutely focused on his mission and not entangle himself with civilian affairs. An athlete needs to push himself to the limit in training and competition, and he must also exercise self-discipline and integrity in following rules of the competition. A farmer has to labor all day, enduring physical fatigue from dawn till dusk. He also needs to wait patiently for the time of harvest.
All three metaphors illustrate the physical and mental endurance that a good worker of God must have. In order to carry out the Lord’s commission, we need to persevere and not shrink from hardship.
Just as the soldier, the athlete, and the farmer do not labor without a purpose, our endurance is not without a purpose, but is achieving for us the heavenly reward. While pressing on toward this reward, we must be focused, disciplined, and diligent in the ministry.
What “affairs of this life” should you not entangle yourself with?Hide Answer
Just as a soldier must concentrate on his mission rather than his personal pursuits, we must also be free from the pursuit of selfish ambitions in life if we want to wage the good warfare of the gospel. When we are focused on our personal dreams, we naturally invest our energy and time into reaching these goals and sacrifice our commitment to preach the gospel. So, instead of setting our hearts on our own accomplishments, we ought to set our hearts on pleasing our Commander and completing the mission He has entrusted to us.
Based on Paul’s encouragement in 8-13, how can a worker of God be motivated to endure hardship?Hide Answer
1. Remember that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead according to the gospel (8). Christ’s resurrection is the foundation on which the gospel and our ministry stand. Because Christ is risen our faith and our message are not in vain. We are serving and preaching about the risen Savior, and so our work is most noble. Christ’s resurrection also signifies the victory that Christians will have (1Cor 15:51-58). Hence, just as Christ initially endured in suffering but emerged victorious eventually, we will likewise be victorious if we continue to endure.
2. Recognize that although the preacher may suffer trouble and be in chains, the word of God is not chained (9). The power of the gospel is so great that nothing, not even the most severe persecution, can suppress it. When we feel discouraged by the hardships that surround us, we ought to remember that God’s will cannot be frustrated. Paul’s personal example serves as a motivational “success story.” Although he is in chains, he is not discouraged, but is convinced that God’s work will be victorious.
3. Endure for the sake of the elect (10). We suffer for a glorious purpose because through our preaching the gospel others may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. This great cause should inspire all preachers of the gospel to endure suffering.
4. Jesus Christ is faithful, even though men may be faithless (11-13). If we endure hardship in the ministry, we shall reign with Christ. Jesus Christ is true. He cannot deny Himself. He will reward those who are faithful to him. This is a promise we can count on.
Who is the key person in verses 8-13?Hide Answer
Christ Jesus. Because of His resurrection, glorious salvation, and faithfulness in keeping His promise, He is the ultimate reason that we preach the gospel and endure sufferings.
What three things does Paul command Timothy to do to guard the truth? Explain what each of these means.Hide Answer
1. Remind and charge the believers and the teachers “not to strive about words to no profit, to the ruin of the hearers” (14). Learning the word of God is for understanding the will of God and for the edification of the listeners. It should not be turned into a debate on semantics.
2. “Be diligent to present [himself] approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (15). A teacher of God’s word should faithfully proclaim the word of God so that he has no reason to be ashamed when his work is tested. He needs to have a clear understanding and discernment between truth and error. He must be filled with the Holy Spirit in order to interpret the truth correctly (1Cor 2:12-14; Jn 16:13) and the courage to make a clear stand for what is right. Instead of preaching messages that are both “yes and no,” he will truthfully and faithfully speak according to God’s will (2 Cor 1:17-20; Mt 5:37).
3. “Shun profane and idle babblings, [which] will increase to more ungodliness” (16). This suggests that good workers of God must refrain from participating in gossip and useless chatter or proclaiming popular ideologies. He must stay away from everything that is contrary to sound doctrine and godliness.
What do the words “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God” teach you in terms of your service?Hide Answer
As workers of God, we are first and foremost accountable to God. Whether God approves of us is far more important than what people think of us. Thus, we need to be diligent, giving ourselves totally to doing the things that please God.
What happens when false teachings are tolerated in the church?Hide Answer
The false message will spread like cancer. This means that destruction will spread rapidly. Some will stray from the truth and the faith of some will be overthrown (17-18). Because of the serious influence that false doctrines can have on believers, Paul “delivered such false teachers to Satan” (1Tim 1:19-20). John also teaches us not to even greet such people or receive them into our house (2 Jn 10).
What false teaching does Paul mention specifically?Hide Answer
The false teachers taught that the resurrection was already past. This probably means that they denied the bodily resurrection and claimed that the resurrection is spiritual, which already took place during the believer’s conversion.
Record the contrasts in this paragraph.Hide Answer
Honor vs. dishonor; flee youthful lusts vs. pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart; quarreling vs. being gentle to all, able to teach, patient, and humble; opposition vs. repentance; escape vs. taken captive.
Explain the meaning of verse 19. In particular, what do the words “the Lord knows those who are His” mean? (cf. Num 16:5).Hide Answer
The foundation of God denotes what God has established, including God’s election, the truth, and the church on which the truth stands (cf. 1Tim 3:15). The foundation has been sealed, which means it has been established by a divine decree and therefore cannot be changed.
The inscriptions on this seal are “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” Just as a shepherd knows his sheep, the Lord knows who are truly His (Jn 10:14). A believer who truly belongs to God will be acknowledged and accepted by God, regardless of how others view him. When Korah and others challenged God’s election of Moses and Aaron as the leaders, the Lord showed the assembly of Israel who belonged to Him. In the same way, the Lord will eventually reveal who are His. Therefore, we should simply trust that God knows and will keep those who belong to Him.
On the other hand, God also commands everyone who names the name of Christ to depart from iniquity. While God is the ultimate judge of who truly belongs to him, we need to examine ourselves to see if we can stand before God with a clear conscience. Our part as people who profess the name of Christ is to make sure that we depart from iniquity. Everyone who belongs to God is free from iniquity. If we want to be God’s people, we must flee from all sin.
Verse 19 is a transitional verse between the last and present paragraphs. How does this verse relate to the last paragraph?Hide Answer
In the previous paragraph, Paul commanded the believers and Timothy not to strive about words and to shun profane and idle babblings (14,16). Instead, Timothy needs to be diligent to present himself approved to God and be a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth (15). Timothy must remain true to the sound doctrine and separate himself from all false teachings. Unfortunately, some have lost their faith because of these false teachings.
Hence, in verse 19, Paul encourages the believers that despite the threat of false teachings and the fact that some have fallen, the truth as well as those in the church who are on the side of truth will not be harmed. At the same time, everyone who wishes to belong to Christ needs to separate himself from the evil works of the false teachers.
Based on this paragraph, what are required of the Lord’s servant?Hide Answer
1. Depart from iniquity (19).
2. Cleanse himself from the dishonorable (i.e. iniquity) and become vessels of honor, sanctified and prepared for every good work (20-21)
3. Flee youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart (22)
4. Avoid foolish and ignorant disputes (23).
5. Not quarrel (24)
6. Be gentle (24)—Moses was a good example (Num 12:1-9 ) 7. Able to teach (24; cf 1Tim 3:2)
8. Be patient (24)
9. In humility correct those who are in opposition (25)
In short, in terms of a person’s qualification to serve God, what does God value the most?Hide Answer
When God uses a person, He does not look at the person’s skills or intelligence because God can easily grant these to whomever He chooses to use. Instead, God chooses those who cleanse themselves from iniquity and are pure in heart, who faithfully teach and practice the word of truth.
What common characteristic do you see in “flee” and “pursue”? What lesson can we learn from the choice of these two words?Hide Answer
These commands suggests that good workers must be active and diligent, whether in freeing himself from sins or building godly character. A Christian who is passive will neither be able to depart from iniquity nor grow spiritually. Only if we make an effort to please God while asking for God’s help will we be able to be useful servants.