2Timothy 2:1-7

Sunday Morning Bible Study

December 3, 2000


The last letter we have of Paul that was written shortly before he was beheaded was his second letter to Timothy. 

When someone really begins to get the idea that they’re not long for this earth, they make sure that they get all the really important stuff said.

Timothy was now about thirty years old and has been in charge of the church at Ephesus for just a couple of years. Paul is going to give his final thoughts to Timothy about serving the Lord.  He may not get another chance to express these things.  There’s a kind of urgency in this letter, these things are really important.

Paul talks about serving the Lord and gives Timothy four pictures of what it means:  A steward, a soldier, an athlete, and a farmer.

Instructions on serving the Lord

:1  Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

be strongendunamoo – to be strong, endue with strength, strengthen; to receive strength, be strengthened, increase in strength

gracecharis – grace; that which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness: grace of speech; good will, loving-kindness, favour

Lesson #1

Get the right kind of power

Strengthened by grace
If you intend to serve the Lord in any capacity, you’ve got to learn from the start where your strength is going to come from.
If you expect to just be strong in yourself, you’re going to fail.  If you think that God owes you some strength because you “deserve” it, you’re going to fail.
But when you get to the point where you realize that you don’t deserve a thing, but that you desperately need God’s help, then you have a chance.
There are going to be times in the ministry where you are a big fat failure.  And you’re still going to need strength.  That’s when you need God’s grace.
The gospel – we are saved by grace, not by our own works.  In ministry, we can only serve by grace, by God giving us His power.  We can’t survive if we’re doing this on our own.

:2 And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.

commitparatithemi – to place beside; to deposit; to entrust, commit to one’s charge. 

The word describes what is known as “stewardship”.  It’s having someone put their wealth in your hands, and you are to protect and even multiply that wealth.  It’s like a stockbroker.  Paul has invested in Timothy’s “mutual funds”, and Timothy now is to turn around and take all the money that he’s earned and invest it in someone else.

faithfulpistos – faithful; of persons who show themselves faithful in the transaction of business, the execution of commands, or the discharge of official duties; that can be relied on

ablehikanos – sufficient; many enough, enough; sufficient in ability, i.e. meet, fit

Timothy had been given much. 

He had learned much from Paul.  Paul was like a father to Timothy.  Timothy had not only learned the gospel from Paul, but God had even used Paul to impart spiritual gifts to Timothy:

(2 Tim 1:6 KJV)  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.

Timothy was now on his own as pastor of the church in Ephesus, but Timothy needed now to find his own “Timothies” to train.

Lesson #2

Look for faithfulness

This is the main qualification of those that Timothy was to look for.
Some of the translations carry the idea that the persons Timothy should look for should also be “qualified to teach”, but I’m not sure that this is what Paul is saying.  To me, the Greek could read, “commit this stuff to faithful men, these will be enough to teach others also”.
It’s nice to have people that are good at teaching, but if there is no faithfulness in a person’s life, being a good teacher is worthless.
Could Timothy find people he could depend upon?
I see plenty of people get excited about serving the Lord.  I have heard many pledges through the years of what people intend to do for the Lord.  But I’m at the point where I’m kind of cynical about “pledges”.  I really don’t take them serious anymore.  I really don’t want to hear promises anymore, I just want to see action.
(Mat 21:28-32 KJV)  But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard. {29} He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went. {30} And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not. {31} Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you. {32} For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him.
It’s nice that the second son said that he’d obey his dad, but it was the first son that actually did it.  It was the actual obedience that counted, not the promise.
Be faithful.  Encourage faithfulness in others.

Lesson #3

Train the faithful

Many of you have been around awhile as Christians.  Are there any people that you can take with you on the road through life?
Spiritual Multiplication
If a person leads one person to the Lord each year, then after ten years, there will be eleven believers.  But if each of those people had been taught to lead others to the Lord themselves, you don’t have spiritual addition, you have spiritual multiplication.

One unspayed female dog and her descendants can produce 4,372 puppies in just seven generations, and one unspayed cat and her offspring can produce 80 million kittens in ten years.

-- Tim Beougher & Alvin Reid, Evangelism for a Changing World (Shaw, 1995), p. 169.

David’s example.

We all know that as a youth, David became famous as a giant killer.  But he didn’t stop killing giants when he finished Goliath.

(2 Sam 21:15-22 KJV)  Moreover the Philistines had yet war again with Israel; and David went down, and his servants with him, and fought against the Philistines: and David waxed faint. {16} And Ishbibenob, which was of the sons of the giant, the weight of whose spear weighed three hundred shekels of brass in weight, he being girded with a new sword, thought to have slain David. {17} But Abishai the son of Zeruiah succoured him, and smote the Philistine, and killed him. Then the men of David sware unto him, saying, Thou shalt go no more out with us to battle, that thou quench not the light of Israel. {18} And it came to pass after this, that there was again a battle with the Philistines at Gob: then Sibbechai the Hushathite slew Saph, which was of the sons of the giant. {19} And there was again a battle in Gob with the Philistines, where Elhanan the son of Jaareoregim, a Bethlehemite, slew the brother of Goliath the Gittite, the staff of whose spear was like a weaver's beam. {20} And there was yet a battle in Gath, where was a man of great stature, that had on every hand six fingers, and on every foot six toes, four and twenty in number; and he also was born to the giant. {21} And when he defied Israel, Jonathan the son of Shimeah the brother of David slew him. {22} These four were born to the giant in Gath, and fell by the hand of David, and by the hand of his servants.

Abishai was David’s nephew.  Sibbechai was one of David’s pals, his “mighty men”.  Elhanan was a neighbor of David’s.  Jonathan was another of David’s nephews.

These were all men who learned how to kill giants by hanging around David.


Gordon M. Ferguson tells of meeting a Filipino Methodist Bishop on an Europe-bound ship.  The Bishop told of his experience when he came to North America as a student years before.  The first Sunday his roommate appeared in the doorway, an umbrella under each arm.  He offered to show him the way to his place of worship and then planned to go on to his own church. As they started down the street he thought, “If this man has this kind of faith and interest in my spiritual life surely I should find out what his faith is like.”  He asked his friend to take him to his church and he attended it all four years.  As a result he attended Drew Theological Seminary and years later became a Bishop in the church.  Ferguson concludes his story by saying, “There is such a thing as a direct call from God without intermediaries but it’s rare.  Usually there is a man with two umbrellas.”

:3 Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.

endure hardnesskakopatheo – to suffer (endure) evils (hardships, troubles); to be afflicted

This is very similar to the word Paul used in 2Tim. 1:8, “be thou partaker of the afflictions”.  It seems that Timothy was a little reluctant to suffer.  Just like me.

Lesson #4

Serve in spite of pain

You don’t sign up for combat duty if you don’t expect to experience some pain.
As Christians, we will suffer.  That’s part of what you have signed up for.
There was a story of a British soldier in the First World War who lost heart for the battle and deserted. Trying to reach the coast for a boat to England that night, he ended up wandering in the pitch black night, hopelessly lost. In the darkness he came across what he thought was a signpost. It was so dark that he began to climb the post so that he could read it. As he reached the top of the pole, he struck a match to see and found himself looking squarely into the face of Jesus Christ. He realized that, rather than running into a signpost, he had climbed a roadside crucifix. Then he remembered the One who had died for him -- who had endured -- who had never turned back. The next morning the soldier was back in the trenches.
If you’re having a hard time in the battle, it doesn’t hurt to stop for a minute and look into the face of Jesus.

(Heb 12:2-3 KJV)  Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. {3} For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.

Lord Joseph Duveen, American head of the art firm that bore his name, planned in 1915 to send one of his experts to England to examine some ancient pottery.  He booked passage on the Lusitania.  Then the German Embassy issued a warning that the liner might be torpedoed. Duveen wanted to call off the trip.
“I can’t take the risk of your being killed,” he said to his young employee.  “Don’t worry,” said the man, “I’m a strong swimmer, and when I read what was happening in the Atlantic, I began hardening myself by spending time every day in a tub of ice water.  At first I could sit only a few minutes, but this morning, I stayed in that tub nearly two hours.”
Naturally, Duveen laughed.  It sounded preposterous.  But his expert sailed, and the Lusitania was torpedoed.  The young man was rescued after nearly five hours in the chilly ocean, still in excellent condition.  Just as this young man did, so Christians should condition themselves by practicing devotional discipline, behavioral discipline, and discipline in doing good.

-- Cited in Christianity Today, February 1979, p. 25.

Be ready for the hardships.

:4 No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.

that warrethstrateuomai – to make a military expedition, to lead soldiers to war or to battle, (spoken of a commander); to do military duty, be on active service, be a soldier; to fight

entanglethempleko (“in” + “weave”) – to inweave; of a thing: to entangle, involve in

lifebios – life; the period, means, manner, of existence.

the affairspragmateia – prosecution of any affair; business, occupation

him who hath chosen … a soldierstratologeo – to gather (collect) an army, to enlist soldiers; of the commander

pleasearesko – to please; to strive to please

Lesson #5

Travel light

There’s a lot of things that can get us off track in serving the Lord.
Jesus told a story to show how different people allow God’s Word to affect their lives:
(Mat 13:22 NLT)  The thorny ground represents those who hear and accept the Good News, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the cares of this life and the lure of wealth, so no crop is produced.
The writer to the Hebrews wrote,
(Heb 12:1 KJV)  Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,

Not everything that slows us down is sinful.  Sometimes it’s just things that are “weights” to us.

There was a story about a Civil War soldier who happened to be a watchmaker. One day the bugle sounded and the men were told to break camp. “But I can’t go now!” the soldier complained. “I have a dozen watches to repair!”

He was too busy with the wrong things at the moment.  He was supposed to be fighting a battle, but he got caught up with other things.

If you want to get serious about serving Jesus Christ, then there are going to be times when you really don’t have the inclination to do some of the things that other people do.

:5 And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully.

strive for masteriesathleo – to engage in a contest, contend in public games, contend for a prize; to endure, suffer

crownedstephanoo – to encircle with a crown, to crown: the victor in a contest; to adorn, to honour

lawfullynomimos – lawfully, agreeable to the law, properly

If you compete at any legitimate athletic competition, you’re going to have to compete according to the rules or else you are disqualified.

Lesson #6

Obey the rules

:6 The husbandman that laboureth must be first partaker of the fruits.

labourethkopiao – to grow weary, tired, exhausted (with toil or burdens or grief); to labour with wearisome effort

husbandmangeorgos – a husbandman, tiller of the soil, a vine dresser.  A farmer.

must bedei – it is necessary, there is need of, it behooves, is right and proper

fruitskarpos – fruit; that which originates or comes from something, an effect, result

partakermetalambano – to be or to be made a partner; to partake of, take [some] food

Lesson #7

You need to receive first

Before you can share the things of the Lord, you have to have tasted and eaten of the things of the Lord.
Paul knew this himself.  When giving instruction about communion, Paul wrote,
(1 Cor 11:23 KJV)  For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you …
Paul had received something special from the Lord, and that’s how he was able to have something to write to the Corinthians.
Be teachable
If God wanted to teach you something, could He?

Howard Hendricks shares this insight about the value of learning: When I was a college student—I worked in the college dining hall, and on my way to work at 5:30 every morning I walked past the home of one of my professors.  Through a window I could see the light on at his desk, morning after morning.  At night I stayed late at the library to take advantage of evening study hours, and returning home at 10:30 or 11 o’clock I would again see his desk light on.  He was always pouring over his books.  One day he invited me home for lunch, and after the meal I said to him, “Would you mind if I asked you a question?”  “Of course not.”  “What keeps you studying?  You never seem to stop.”  His answer, “Son, I would rather have my students drink from a running stream than a stagnant pool.”

Sit and listen
(Luke 10:38-42 KJV)  Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. {39} And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word. {40} But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. {41} And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: {42} But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.

Mary did the best thing.  She sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His Word.

:7 Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things.

considernoeo – to perceive with the mind, to understand, to have understanding; to think upon, heed, ponder, consider

understandingsunesis – a running together, a flowing together with; knowledge; understanding; the understanding, i.e the mind so far forth as it understands

He doesn’t always answer all your questions right away, but God will teach you.

(John 14:26 KJV)  But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

(1 John 2:27 KJV)  But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.

I think it’s good to have a file in your brain marked, “Waiting for further information”.