2 Timothy 1–2: The Standard & The Treasure

Read the Bible in 2011Week 35: Sunday

Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you.
2 Timothy 1:13–14

Sunday’s Bible reading is 2 Timothy 1–2. 2 Timothy is one of Paul’s three pastoral letters: 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus. This poignant letter is written by Paul near the end of his life during his second Roman imprisonment. John MacArthur writes about the conditions Paul endured:

“Paul’s second imprisonment, however, was markedly different. He was virtually cut off from all outside contact and kept chained in a dungeon (2 Timothy 1:16). He was probably held underground in the Mamertine Prison, adjacent to the Roman forum, in a small, dark, bare stone dungeon whose only entrance was a hole in the ceiling scarcely large enough for one person to pass through. The dungeon itself is not large; about half the size of a small one-car garage. Yet it was sometimes used to hold as many as forty prisoners. The discomfort, the dark, the stench, and the misery were almost unbearable.

“That dungeon still exists, and I have been in it. The stifling, claustrophobic confines of that dark hole are eerie and depressing even today. It was there (or in a dungeon just like it) that Paul spent the final days of his life.”1

In these terrible conditions, Paul continues his ministry. As Paul writes to Timothy, his son in the faith, you see his love for Timothy and his great concern that the Gospel continue to be faithfully preached after his death. His letter contains encouragement and exhortation as he instructs Timothy on entrusting what he has learned from Paul to faithful men, suffering hardship for the gospel and being diligent in his ministry. Paul cautions him on pitfalls and on handling those who will oppose him.

2 Timothy is about truth—God’s Word and the good news of Jesus Christ. The seriousness of the responsibility of guarding the Gospel and faithfully teaching it is evident in Paul’s  letter.

“Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David, according to my gospel, for which I suffer hardship even to imprisonment as a criminal; but the word of God is not imprisoned. For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory.”
2 Timothy 2:8–10

Paul endured all things for you and for me so that we could hear the Gospel and obtain salvation. Pastors are enjoined to shepherd Christians in their congregation and they have a heavy responsibility to guard and teach the truth. Every Christian, however, needs to study and know 2 Timothy. At some level we all teach—perhaps not to a large group, but to individuals. We may not hold responsibility for a church, but we are responsible for our words and our influence. A mother at home teaches her children; in 2 Timothy 1 and 3 Paul refers to Timothy’s mother and grandmother and the faithful teaching he received from them.

The stakes are high, but we don’t take truth seriously. We really don’t. The church in America buys every fad that comes along (Literally! Check out the best sellers stocked in the Christian section of book stores.). There are so many books that promise everything in their titles, but their content has little to do with God’s truth. There are so many women’s Bible studies with slick packaging on the outside and false teaching on the inside that are bought, taught and believed without discernment. We must learn to be as the Bereans who were “examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.” We must obey Paul’s injunction in 1 Thessalonians to, “…examine everything carefully.”

“Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you.”
2 Timothy 1:13–14

In affliction and distress, in beatings and imprisonments, Paul was faithful to guard the treasure of the Gospel. Are you?

Isaiah 42 Photograph: ChristianPhotos.net – Free High Resolution Photos for Christian Publications
Mamertin prison in Rome, Leonce l’ Huillier, La terre-sainte et les lieux illustrés par les apôtres: Vues pittoresques, by Adrien Egron, Paris, Audot, 1837: Public Domain. I realize the illustration is larger than the dimensions given by Dr. MacArthur, but I wanted to give you a sense of the darkness of the prison.
1John MacArthur, “True Success in Christian Leadership,” Pulpit Magazine, October 3, 2006. Retrieved September 4, 2011.

Original content: Copyright ©2011 Iwana Carpenter

3 thoughts on “2 Timothy 1–2: The Standard & The Treasure

  1. This was the Bible reading for last Sunday. Because I wrote the post today, I’ll leave it here for a few days before moving it back to the archives for August 28.

  2. Excellent post. Thank you for the illustration of what Paul went through, and what he was willing to go through in service to the Lord and the Gospel. Thank you for pointing out the religious fluff all around us that competes with the real truth. Walking with the Lord is not easy but the most fulfilling thing anyone will ever do. This is war. There is an enemy. We must sacrifice, strive, endure, suffer, and continue to walk the straight and narrow. Only the fully committed and dedicated will arrive at that place Paul did, in that he finished his course. In Elmer Fudd’s words, there is an eternity of “west and wewaxation” awaiting us, which encourages our continual work and perseverance.

  3. Thanks! Paul is one of my heroes and I love this letter. His example of steadfastness always helps me to persevere, He finished faithful to the end. I’d like to do the same.

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