In this passage, Paul instructs his younger protégé Timothy on how to live as a minister of the gospel and also how to instruct other preachers so that they might have effective ministries. His focus is on the person of Jesus and he urges Timothy to keep on remembering what Jesus had done in His death, resurrection and ascension. Paul was also aware of the damage that arguing over words might have on the spread of the gospel message for it removed the focus from Jesus as a person and from the work He had completed in His ministry on earth. One of the encouraging truths he mentions is this, that though believers might prove to be unfaithful, God remains faithful to His people, for that is His unchanging nature.
The Need To Focus On The Message Of Jesus. Verses 7,8.
7 “Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything. 8 Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel.” [Note 1]. Paul’s preaching was centred on Jesus as the Christ, the Messiah who had come from the line of David as had been prophesied. He had been raised from the dead as Paul had always preached, “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.” 1 Corinthians 15:3-4.
His preaching had led to him being imprisoned for his faith but he was glad that the word of God was not imprisoned, “… [my gospel] 9 for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound! Verse 9. Thus he was able to endure his sufferings knowing that the elect would hear the gospel and come to trust in Jesus, “Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.” Verse 10. [Note 2]. Their acceptance of the Christ of the gospel message had brought them to salvation.
Paul went on to affirm the gospel certainties and the union Christ’s followers had with Him. Verses 11 to 13.
11 “The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; 12 If we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; 13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself.” It is true that those who die with Christ in a faith union with Him will also live in Him and reign with Him. As he wrote in Ephesians, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 2:4-6. God sees believers now as being seated in Christ at the right hand of God in a place of acceptance, honour and authority.
Jesus warned His followers about the danger of denying Him, “But whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.” Mark 10:23. Denial involves a deliberate choice and makes one accountable to God for a deliberate sin.
However, there was a positive note in the next verse where Paul wrote, “if we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself.” Verse 13. Jesus had promised to accept all those who came to Him and would never drive them away, “All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.” John 6:37. He would remain faithful in fulfilling His promises to His people even if they were faithless. Because He cannot deny Himself. He cannot make a promise that He will not fulfil.
Workers Approved by God
Paul has a word for other preachers under Timothy’s influence. 14 “Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers.” Such argumentation would be a catastrophe for the spread of the gospel. [Note 3]. The problem with quarrelling about words is that it takes those involved from their commitment to the person of Jesus by focussing on individual words rather than being focussed on Jesus.
Finally, Paul has a word for Timothy, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” Verse 5. Timothy was accountable to God as a minister of the gospel. He had to make every effort to come before God as one whom God would approve. He was to be a sincere worker with no sense of shame from slackness or unfaithfulness in his ministry. He had been called by God to be a preacher of the gospel message and that meant studying it under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and sharing it a way that was meaningful to the hearers. [Note 4].
[Note 1]. “Remember” is a present tense imperative of [mnēmoneuō; μνημονεύω] to recollect or bring to mind.
That is, “Keep on remembering or recalling Jesus Christ who rose from the dead as the offspring of David” [from whose line the Messiah would come.]
[Note 2]. “Elect” is from [eklektos; ἐκλεκτός] derived from [ek] out of and [kaleo] I call. They were the “called out ones“ who heard the gospel and were called out of the unbelieving world to trust in Jesus. They were elect according to the foreknowledge of God. He knew in advance who would respond to the gospel message.
[Note 3]. “Remind” is from [hypomimnēskō; ὑπομιμνήσκω] meaning to remind quietly, to bring to remembrance. As in Note 1 the verb is a present tense imperative meaning “keep on reminding” or keep on bringing to remembrance.”
“Quarrel about words” is from [logomacheō; λογομαχέ] derived from a combination of [logos] a word and from [machomai; μάχομα] to dispute or to make war. The focus has to be on the person of Jesus not on disputes about the meanings of words.
“Ruins” is from [katastrophē; καταστροφή] meaning a catastrophe or destruction or a subverting of the gospel message.
[Note 4]. “Rightly handling” is from [orthotomeō; ὀρθοτομέω] a compound of [orthos; ὀρθός] meaning straight, upright, and [témnō] meaning to cut. Thus to rightly or correctly divide. Arndt and Gingrich define the verb as meaning to ‘ “cut a path in a straight direction” or “cut a road across country (that is forested or otherwise difficult to pass through) in a straight direction”, so that the traveller may go directly to his destination’.
Blog No.419 posted on Thursday 25 August 2022.