Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David.This is my gospel, for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God’s word is not chained. 2 Timothy 2:8-9
Our study of the pastoral epistles continued last Sunday with a look at 2 Timothy chapter 2, concerning how pastors (and other Christians) should grow strong in God’s grace and persevere in the face of opposition. Paul, imprisoned for the gospel, writes to Timothy:
You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 Timothy 2:1
As a soldier dedicates himself to his cause, as an athlete trains diligently and competes according to the rules, and as a farmer sows seeds with the hope of a future harvest, Christians should dedicate themselves to Christ, remain in His Word and Spirit, and look to the hope of heaven. We grow strong in the grace of Christ through the means of grace: His Word and Sacraments.
Through the Holy Spirit, we may remain in close communion with Christ. Through daily prayer and Scripture reading and regular attendance at the Lord’s supper, we grow in our faith and understanding of the gospel. By understanding God’s Word with the help of the Holy Spirit and with the guidance of trained pastors, we are armed against the false teachings that abound in this world. The doctrines of Law (what God tells us to do) and Gospel (how God saves us from the fact that we can’t do what the Law says) are ways to clearly understand Christ’s message and mission in the world.
Paul urges us to continue the process of sanctification, by which we cooperate with the Holy Spirit in the process of becoming the people God wants us to be. This spiritual training prepares us to do the good works which God has prepared for us.
In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use. Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work. 2 Timothy 2:20-21
Finally, Paul reminds Timothy to be gentle and kind to those who oppose him, continuing to instruct them in the gospel in the hopes that they may be saved from their errors. For it is not man who is our enemy, but the evil one, who has “taken them captive to do his will” (verse 26). May God grant us His grace that we should remain in Him and do His will. Glory be to God, that we have His assurance in Christ Jesus that He will continue to forgive us as we continue to fall short.
Our pastoral epistles study will continue next Sunday, March 24, with a discussion of 2 Timothy 3. To review our recent Pastoral Epistles studies, please use the links below.