Bethel Baptist Church Service – December 9 2018 – 10:15am
Paul’s final instruction to Timothy, recorded in 2 Timothy, took place because Paul knew that his execution was near. Timothy was not only is protégé, but his friend. It became imperative to write to him. 2 Timothy is the last letter that Paul wrote. He painted a bleak picture of the circumstances at the end of his life. Paul, the proud Roman citizen, was imprisoned in Rome and treated as a traitor.
The Churches he had helped to found and nurtured in Asia Minor had deserted him. They had not left the faith but had abandoned Paul — probably out of fear that association with him could have severe repercussions for them. Incidentally, these were the seven churches listed in Revelation Chapters 2 and 3. Demas, a fellow-worker, had left the faith, seduced by the pleasures of the world. Against this background, Paul could have concluded that his life and labor as the Apostle to the Gentiles had failed. The exact opposite was the case.
In 2 Timothy 1 verse 8 Paul declared, “I know whom I have believed and that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day.” Far from being disillusioned, disheartened, or dismayed, Paul was absolutely confident and had no doubt whatsoever that he had done what God, through Jesus Christ, had commissioned him to do; and that God would recognize and reward his faithful stewardship as the Apostle to the Gentiles.
With this absolute faith in God, Paul exhorted and encouraged Timothy — first not to be ashamed of him, and second to follow his example. Paul saw genuine Christian commitment by Timothy. He also saw great potential in the young believer. But Timothy seemed to have been shy. Paul assured him that God had not given us a spirit of fear, but of courage and a sound mind. As William Barclay stated in his Commentary, God is able to take us through situations where life seems unlivable; where circumstances seem impossible; and being Christian seems impractical.
Our assurance in meeting life’s challenges and in overcoming its obstacles is that God is able. Nearly 2,000 years later, in hindsight, we can see and say that Paul’s final instructions to Timothy and assessment of his life’s work have been verified and vindicated by the history of the spread of the Gospel among the Gentiles.