Introduction to 2 Timothy - The Call to Persevere (2 Timothy 1:1-2)
2 Timothy 1:1-2
Good morning everybody. It’s nice to be back and clothed and in my right mind. I don’t know about the right mind part but the other parts are true, praise God for that. I appreciate everybody’s prayers and concerns in my little mini ordeal. And we are in a new season, moving into the fall, so that sort of fits, we’re going to be starting today a new book called the book of 2 Timothy. You can open your Bibles to 2 Timothy 1:1.
I don’t know about you but the temptation to quit is so easy, isn’t it, to succumb to that. God has called you to do something but it’s too difficult, whether it be a job or a relationship or a ministry and that’s where Satan is so skillful at whispering in our ears to just throw in the towel. And because of this desire to quit and not finish strong 2 Timothy is a book that Paul penned to a very young man, Timothy, who was thinking about hanging it up, so to speak. My parents, they don’t run marathons anymore but they did run marathons; I grew up in a marathoners home, both my mother and father were marathoners. That’s a disease I never inherited fortunately. My idea of a triathlon is first to the fridge, second to the remote control, and third to the easy chair. But I remember being taken, just as a little kid, to watch marathons and I remember the starting and I remember the finish. I remember how enthusiastic and excited these runners are when they take off there at the beginning and then a number of hours pass and you’re there at the finish line and you’ve got a totally different scenario, don’t you? There’s no enthusiasm, there’s no excitement it’s just fatigue and exhaustion.
Starting is easy, isn’t it? Finishing is a little bit more demanding, it’s a little bit more difficult. And that’s why I’ve chosen the book for us to study, it’s a call to perseverance. We can entitle this series The Call to Christian Perseverance. The title of our message this morning is Introduction to 2 Timothy. Sorry I couldn’t come up with a more catchy title but laying in a bed that’s the best I could do.
One of the things I think we do as Bible readers is we rush into a book but we really don’t understand what the book is about. We don’t take time to absorb the background of the book. So what I would like to do this morning is simply not to start going thru the book but to give you the background. The better we appreciate the background the better we can appreciate the message of the book. So in our sermon time this morning we’re going to be seeking to ask and answer nine questions about this book.
- Number 1, who wrote it?
- Number 2, what do we know about the author?
- Number 3, to whom was it written?
- Number 4, when was it written?
- Number 5, where was it written from?
- Number 6, why was sit written?
- Number 7, what is it about?
- Number 8, what’s inside?
- Number 9, what makes the book different?
And we’re going to do all of that in time for lunch later. Let’s start with this first foundational question. Let’s start with this first foundational question, who wrote it? If you look there at 2 Timothy chapter 1, verse 1 you see the very first word in the book is Paul, “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God,” Paul is the writer of this book, the great Apostle Paul.
Who is this man, Paul, exactly? Paul is an apostle to be sure but he is an apostle, as he describes himself in the book of 1 Corinthians 15:8-9, the apostle who is “untimely born.” He calls himself the last of the apostles and the least of the apostles for he persecuted the church of God.
[1 Corinthians 15:8-9, “and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also.  For I am the least of the apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.”]
All of the apostles that we have in the Bible were involved with the earthly ministry of Jesus, from the beginning up until His ascension. Not so Paul; Paul is not even converted until Acts 9, after the ascension of Jesus Christ. That’s why Paul keeps calling himself an apostle “untimely born,” the least and the last. And there are many things we could learn about Paul but let me just give you two things. Number 1, Paul was THE greatest missionary the world has ever seen. He’s the one, as I’ll be showing you in a minute, who accomplished those three great missionary journeys and ultimately took the gospel to Rome.
The second thing to understand about Apostle Paul is not only was he the greatest missionary the world has ever seen, he was the greatest theologian the world has ever seen. Paul is the man that the Holy Spirit uses to describe a new program of God which began in Acts 2 called the church. We are not living in the times of Israel; we are not living in Old Testament times, we are not living in the millennial kingdom, we are living in a different time called the age of the church, beginning on the day of Pentecost. It will conclude with the rapture of the church.
And to be completely honest with you, we would know zero, with very few exceptions of what the Holy Spirit is doing in this present age had it not been for God’s work through Paul. Consequently it was given to Paul the task of writing 13 books. What do those 13 books do? They explain to us what is going on in this age of time called the church. 2 Timothy, as I’ll show you in a minute, was the last of those 13 books. Did you ever wonder why Paul spent so much time in jail, in jail in Caesarea, in jail two times in Rome? Well, in first century jail, it’s not like Club Fed, I can assure you of that, there’s no color TV, there’s no cable television, there’s no weight room, there’s no books to read, there’s no library, you have nothing to do but sit and receive truth from God, which is what Paul did.
And largely in that place of confinement the Lord used him in a strategic way to fill out or explain this great age of time that we find ourselves in, called the church. That is the writer of this book, the greatest missionary and also the greatest theologian. Who wrote it? Paul. What do we know about Paul? He is that apostle untimely born.
That takes us really to a third question, to whom was this book written? Notice, if you will,
2 Timothy 1:2, it says it very clearly, “To Timothy, my beloved son: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.” Who was this book written to? It was written to this man named Timothy. What do we know about Timothy? We know a lot about Timothy when we look at the whole Bible. Timothy was from an area called Lystra, it’s an area there in southern Galatia. He had a Greek father and a Jewish mother, Acts 16:1 indicates this. [Acts 16:1, “Paul came also to Derbe and to Lystra. And a disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was believer, but his father was a Greek.”]
And he was from a godly home, this man Timothy. We can figure that out simply by looking at the word “Timothy” in Greek, it’s a compound word and you put the two words together and it means God honoring, God revering, God respecting. And he had had, Timothy, a very tremendous foundation because if you look at chapter 1, verse 5, Paul says, “For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well.”
He had a godly grandmother; he had a godly mother and what did they do with young Timothy? If you look over at chapter 3, verse 15, Paul says, “and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” Mom and grandmother taught this young man, from infancy, the Word of God. That was his heritage.
He eventually became a full-fledged convert to Christianity as Paul went through Lystra, the place where Timothy was from, on his first missionary journey. In fact, Timothy was so impacted by the gospel that he joined Paul in two of his missionary journeys, the second missionary journey and the third missionary journey. In fact, Paul was so impressed with Timothy that he installed him as a pastor of the most reputable church of the first century, the church at Ephesus.
Timothy—three things to know about him: number 1, he was a believer. How do I know that? Because in 2 Timothy 1:2 Paul refers to Timothy as his son in the faith. [2 Timothy 1:2, “To Timothy, my beloved son….”] There isn’t any doubt that Timothy was a believer. Why would Paul make an unbeliever a pastor, that wouldn’t make any sense.
Probably one of the most important interpretive issues to try to figure out when you study any book of the Bible is who was the book written to? Believers or unbelievers? Now you recall when we studied John’s Gospel we laid out the case that the book was originally written to unbelievers; that’s why John is such an evangelistic book. Not so the book of 2 Timothy, written to a believer. And that will control many of the interpretive options that we will have in the book as we go through it.
He was not only a believer, he was a spiritual leader. Not only was he a spiritual leader but he was installed by the apostle himself as THE pastor-teacher over the church at Ephesus. Where is Ephesus? Right there in the Asia Minor area.
Ephesus, when you study it in the Bible has a tremendous heritage. Ephesus was that city that Paul wanted to go to on missionary journey two but the Spirit wouldn’t let him. So when Paul is cycling back at the end of missionary journey two all Paul really did is make a brief stop there in Ephesus, in the synagogue, speaking to the Jews. They wanted him to stay longer but Paul says I have to keep moving. Now why is that? Because the Holy Spirit knew exactly what He was doing with Ephesus. Paul was not allowed to have an extensive ministry in Ephesus on missionary journey number 2 because the Holy Spirit knew what would happen on missionary journey number 3. On missionary journey number 3 Paul went into Ephesus and was there for three years and “Katie bar the door.” It was the most productive, prolific ministry that has ever come forth through God from the Apostle Paul.
In fact, over in Acts 19:10 it says this of that ministry, “This took place for two years, so that all who lived in Asia,” think of all of those churches, there weren’t any churches yet, people groups in Asia, all in Asia “heard the word of the Lord, [both Jews and Greeks]” in this ministry in Ephesus, and how did Paul do it? He didn’t consult the Christian educators, because Paul used the lecture method. He didn’t use question and answers; he didn’t use audience feedback. He simply set up shop in a school that was eventually called the school of Tyrannus, and in that place for two years, three years total in Ephesus but two years in the school of Tyrannus he taught the Word of God. And in fact, this ministry was so effective that everyone in the Asia Minor area heard the truth through that particular ministry.
And then Paul left there and cycling back on missionary journey 3 he spoke to the elders at the church at Ephesus, and then finally, as we will see in a moment, Paul made his way to Rome and in Rome he wrote a book to this church called the book of Ephesians. And after his first Roman imprisonment he was let out of prison and there’s about five years there where Paul is outside of prison and it’s during that time that he appointed Timothy as the pastor of this church and wrote
1 Timothy to Timothy as he was undertaking this task.
And then this church would receive another letter called 2 Timothy, which we’re going to be studying, as you know. And then about three decades later, from the island of Patmos, John addressed this church in the book of Revelation, Revelation 2:1-7, as Jesus gave to John a letter to be given to the church at Ephesus.
[Revelation 2:1-7, “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: The One who holds the seven stars in His right hand, the One who walks among the seven golden lampstands, says this:  I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false;  and you have perseverance and have endured for My name’s sake, and have not grown weary.  But I have this against you, that you have left your first love.  Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place—unless you repent.  Yet this you do have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.  He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.”]
So Ephesus has a very rich history behind it. Some of the choicest servants of God, whether they be Timothy or Paul or John, in some way shape or form ministered to Ephesus and Timothy was put in a position of spiritual authority, by Paul, over this particular church. So that’s who the recipient is of this letter, written by Paul.
And that takes us to a fourth question, when was this particular letter written, called 2 Timothy? Now if you can think this way, and memorize this pneumonic device you’ll understand the order of all of Paul’s letters. It’s a very simple pneumonic device, it goes: 1, 2, 3, 4, 2, 1. Want to try that together? 1, 2, 3, 4, 2, 1. Very simple, right? So let’s start with the number 1; number 1 is missionary journey number 1. And on missionary journey number 1 Paul writes one letter, the book of Galatians. And that’s where Paul traveled, Acts 13 and 14, into southern Galatia, an area today that we call modern day Turkey. And then we go to missionary journey 2 where… and all of these missionary journeys, by the way, start in Antioch, which is on the northern tip of the nation of Israel. Paul went back into Galatia, as I mentioned before he wanted to go into Asia but the Spirit wouldn’t let him go so he went instead into Macedonia, eventually into Greece and he traveled back across the Aegean Sea, made a brief stop there in Ephesus one more time to speak to the elders, or the Jews in the Synagogue I should say, and then he made his way back home to Jerusalem.
But this is missionary journey and we had number one so what number are we on now? Number 2, so during this time he writes two letters, those are 1 Thessalonians and 2 Thessalonians. What’s our next number? 3, now we’re on to missionary journey number 3, Paul essentially retraces his exact steps on missionary journey 3 that he went through on missionary journey 2, so since this is missionary journey three he’s going to write three letters, and what are those? 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, and Romans.
And then Paul takes a fourth missionary journey, you say well, you’re making things up, I thought he only went on three missionary journeys. I call his trip to Rome a missionary journey because Paul knew exactly what he was doing. He was placed under arrest and he knew the Roman legal system so well that he knew that if he simply demanded a trial before Caesar, which was the right of all Roman citizens, that they would actually have to take him to Rome and consequently Paul in Rome, once there, could spread the gospel even further.
And we read about this in Acts 27 and 28, where he comes to Rome in confinement. And the book of Acts sort of leaves off with Paul in his first Roman imprisonment and it’s during this time he wrote four prison letters. And what number are we up to now? Four. Fourth missionary journey, four letter written from Rome; we call those the prison letters because they were written from prison. They are, in order: Ephesians, Colossians, Philemon and Philippians.
And then Paul, and I’m sorry for the small print, you probably can’t read that but you can read it as you study this yourself on our website. Paul gets his “out of jail” card. And there’s about a five year period of time where he’s outside of prison confinement and it’s during this period of time… now what number are we on now? Back to 2, he writes two letters, and what are those? 1 Timothy and Titus. And then Paul, as I’ll show you a little bit later is thrown back into prison, Roman prison. The year would be about A.D. 67 and it’s during this time that he writes… what number are we at now? One letter, called 2 Timothy.
So 2 Timothy is Paul’s last letter written during his second Roman imprisonment, and if you take a look at chapter 4, verse 6 you can see what’s going on here with Paul. He says in verse 6, “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering and the time of my departure has come.” In other words, what we have in this book, 2 Timothy, the last of the 13 letters Paul wrote, is his death is imminent, his death is at hand. There’s not going to be more ministry. There’s not going to be a miraculous escape from prison. His death can come at any moment. And Paul, at this time, is very solemn, he’s very serious. He’s serious always but when you’re on your death bed you’re really serious. In fact, our legal system actually assigns greater weight, assuming people aren’t senile, greater weight to things people say on their death bed than any other time, because when you’re dying and you know you’re dying that’s when your true motives in your heart comes out. And that’s what’s happening with the Apostle Paul.
So when was this book written? About A.D. 67. Where was it written from? Well, as I’ve mentioned before, this particular book was written from prison, Roman imprisonment, Paul’s second incarceration. We can see very clearly that he wrote this from prison because if you look at 2 Timothy 1:8 it says, “Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner….” 2 Timothy 1:16, “The Lord grant mercy to the house of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains.” 2 Timothy 2:9, “for when I suffer hardship even to imprisonment as a criminal; but the word of God is no imprisoned.” 2 Timothy 4:13, “When you come bring the cloak which I left at Troas with Carpus, and the books, especially the parchments.” I don’t have access to these books because I’m in prison, bring them with you when you come visit me. It’s so clear as you look at this that Paul wrote this book from prison. This would be, not imprisonment number 1 in Rome, this would be imprisonment number 2.
Those two imprisonments from Rome are as different as night is from the day. The first imprisonment from Rome is described at the very end of the book of Acts, Acts 28:16-31. We have no historical record of the second imprisonment other than in this book, 2 Timothy. In the first imprisonment he wrote the prison letters, as I mentioned before, Ephesians, Colossians, Philemon, Philippians. But in the second imprisonment he wrote 2 Timothy.
The first imprisonment he was in trouble, basically because of religious charges. The second imprisonment, though, is completely different; he’s in trouble because of political charges and they took statements that he made about a coming kingdom and they interpreted those as anti-Rome statements. In the first imprisonment the persecutions that we’ve had up to this point in the birth of Christianity have been local or sporadic. But you see, the second imprisonment is totally different because a mad man, by the name of Nero, had ascended to the throne and he had begun to do crazy things, such as burn most of Rome to the ground and blame it on the Christians.
And Nero, and from him is introduced into Christendom, or Christianity, for the very first time a formal persecution by Rome against Christianity. The Christian church had known nothing like this before. The only persecutions that took place up to this point in time were pockets of unbelieving individuals, unbelieving Jews. But there never was a decree against Christianity, the way Nero brought it in. And we have to understand that that is what the church labored under for centuries. It’s not until Constantine, 313 A.D. that that political situation would change. But you see, prior to that point in time persecution had begun. We’re seeing the initial throes of it here through this diabolical man named Nero.
In Paul’s first imprisonment he lived in decent conditions, he was under house arrest; second imprisonment, poor conditions, he’s in a dungeon. In the first imprisonment he receives many friends and visitors and many evangelistic opportunities exist. Not so in the second imprisonment where he is virtually alone, no opportunities for evangelism. In the first imprisonment, as you go through the prison letters you know that there is an optimism rising in Paul that his trial before Caesar is going to go favorably in his direction. Not so the second imprisonment where he knows that his execution is near. There will be no “get out of jail” card this time. So the thing to understand about this book, in order to grasp it is Paul writes it from Rome in Roman imprisonment number 2, to this man Timothy, who had been installed by Paul as the pastor of this very influential church called the church at Ephesus.
Question number six, why was this book written? What was the occasion of the book? I’m going through these somewhat methodically and slow because this is what you need to do for any book of the Bible, ask these questions to understand what’s happening within it. Why was this book written? Well, the problem with Timothy was Timothy. Timothy was shrinking backward in his calling. Timothy was becoming timid: Timid Timothy, intimidated. Now why would this young man, why would he shrink backward in his calling? Why would he become less aggressive and less assertive in the cause of Christ. Well, there are many reasons for that. A lot of it relates to Timothy himself, his core makeup.
Number 1, Timothy was very young when Paul put him into that position. We know that from
1 Timothy 4:12, where Paul writes, “Let no one look down on your youthfulness….” Beyond that, Timothy had a body which became sick and ill quite frequently. We know that from 1 Timothy 5:23 where Paul says, “No longer drink water exclusively, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent illnesses.”
Beyond that, Timothy had a tendency to become intimidated and we know that from 2 Timothy 1:7 where Paul says, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear,” that statement would make no sense unless Timothy succumbed to fear quite frequently. And beyond all of this, this man with his deficiencies, this young man was put in charge of the key church of the first century world. And even beyond that, Nero had ascended to the throne and had done something that Timothy, and Paul for that matter, had never seen before, which was to launch a formal empire-wide persecution against Christianity. And even beyond that, Paul, his mentor, had been arrested. And Timothy probably said, you know, I don’t want to get too close to Paul or teach like Paul did because if I do that I’ll get arrested.
And that’s why Paul, in 2 Timothy 1:8 says, “Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner,” it’s almost as if Timothy was embarrassed by Paul’s incarceration and was distancing himself from Paul. And if all that weren’t bad enough there were people within the church at Ephesus that were rising up, constantly, against Timothy. You know the crowd, the “we don’t like this” crowd, the critics. There’s a lot of people that seem to think that their spiritual gift is the gift of criticism; not that spiritual leaders are somehow above criticism but some people criticize anything, you do anything and you get criticized for it. That’s the type of thing that is happening here with this young man, Timothy.
In fact, if you look there at 2 Timothy 2:18 it says, “men who have gone astray from the truth saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and they upset the faith of some,” false doctrine was coming into the church. Paul writes, 2 Timothy 3:1, he says this: “But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come.  For men will become lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy,” that sounds like the State of California, that I’m from. In fact, I think 1 Corinthians ought to be changed to 1 Californians some of the time. 2 Timothy 3:12 says, “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.  But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.” This is happening in the church that Timothy is pastoring. Beyond that, there were people that were becoming disenchanted with doctrine and Bible teaching. We know that from 2 Timothy 4:3-4, which says, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires,  and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.” This is not what is happening in society, this is happening, I believe, to a very large extent in Ephesus. Persecution from without, persecution from within; Timothy is a vulnerably physically person anyway; you can see why he began to shrink back in his calling, be less controversial, be more conservative in your approach, no doubt was the temptation that was being whispered into his ears.
And beyond that Paul is ready to die. We’ve already shared 2 Timothy 4:6 where Paul says, “For the time of my departure has come.” Now what if Paul dies and Timothy does not pass the torch on of truth. If that doesn’t happen then everything Paul has worked for up until this point in time dissolves. It doesn’t matter how many books Paul wrote, it doesn’t matter how fruitful Paul was on his various missionary journeys, all of that dissolves if you don’t have somebody to take the baton and to run the relay race. Timothy, apparently, was not being assertive in taking that baton and going forward.
Those of you that ran track know that a relay team is most vulnerable when the baton is being passed from one generation to the next. If you drop the baton in that difficult stage there the whole team loses. And see, this is what Paul is worried about, this is what he is concerned about. I hardly remember anything from the Episcopalian Church that I grew up in. But I do remember one thing, I remember the sermons that my father gave to me to and from church, which was about a 15 minute ride. And I remember my father saying, Andrew… now when he said “Andrew” instead of Andy, (A) I was busted from something, or (B) he wanted to impart to me something that he felt was extremely important. And what he would typically say is this: Christianity is one generation, always one generation away from extinction. One generation does great, the next generation drops the ball, the whole thing disintegrates.
If you want a biblical example of it look at the book of Joshua and the successes the Joshua generation had. And that generation is followed by the Judges generation, which is a terrible generation. You go from the best to the worst in one generation. That’s what my father was concerned about; that’s what Timothy’s spiritual father (Paul) was concerned about. If you want modern day evidence of it go look at Europe. Europe, the cradle of the Protestant Reformation; today you go to Europe and what do you see? Beautiful Christian cathedrals, beautiful Christian paintings, beautiful Christian architecture, and yet 1% or less than 1% of the population of Europe is Christian. In fact, walk into these churches sometime on a Sunday morning that once housed thousands of worshippers, in Reformation times, and you’ll see the place empty except for the janitor or whoever, the pastor usually is there with his family. Christianity is over in Europe. Of course, there’s little exceptions here and there but it’s done; Europe is gone. The fastest growing religion in Europe today is not Christianity, it is, as you know, Islam.
And you see, this is the concern of this man, the Apostle Paul, You see, what is the difference between a politician and a statesman? A politician thinks about the next election; a statesman thinks about the next generation. Paul here, prior to his death, in his final letter, is thinking about the next generation. Are we today thinking about the next generation?
One of the ministries that God, I believe, is blessed at this church is our children’s ministry. We have an opportunity to reach out to all kinds of kids that normally would never hear the things of God or the Bible, and yet we have this nagging ongoing problem of volunteers necessary to work the children’s ministry. I just think you ought to pray about that. We’ve got the same people volunteering over and over again. We need some fresh legs in that ministry. We need some support.
We need to look at this as an investment in the future because if these kids are not reached Christianity dies. Where are they going to get truth from? TV? The public schools? Where would you be if someone didn’t reach out to you in your youth? We think well, I can’t work children’s ministry, I don’t know how those kids are going to treat me. Let me let you in on a little secret. They’re going to treat you exactly the way you treated your first Sunday School teachers. They’re going to be loud, they’re going to spit all over you, they’re going to do unseemly things, but you have to just die to yourself and see it as an opportunity to minister to the next generation.
Think about volunteering for our children’s ministry, once a month, twice a month, whatever you can do, we have a sign-up sheet back there.
But the fact of the matter is this is what Paul is thinking about; he is thinking about the next generation. This is why he writes the book. Which leads us to a question: what is this book really, then, about? Number 7, what is it about? Here’s the message of the book, this is the timeless message of the book that you can take away from it: faithful endurance in the ministry, even in the midst of encroaching persecution and apostasy is needed so that the Christian message will be preserved for the next generation.
Timothy, you have to endure because if you don’t endure the torch of truth will not cross generational lines and Christianity will stop dead in its tracks. I know it’s not fun, I know it’s not convenient, I know that there are other things you’d rather be doing, but if you don’t endure there’s a repercussion for it. And that’s why Paul penned this book. Consequently everything in this book relates to that message.
Now people say well, wait a minute, pastor, in the church that I used to go to or the teacher I used to listen to, they told me that all Christians automatically persevere in good works. Think about this for a minute; if that were true why would Paul have bothered to write the book? If all of us automatically persevered in good works Paul could have saved himself a lot of time and not written the book at all. In fact, most of the New Testament wouldn’t even be needed, would it? Because those letters, this one included, is written to Christians prompting them to persevere in good works.
The fact of the matter is there are multiple examples in the Bible of people that died in the faith and went right to heaven, yet did not persevere in good works. I can give you several: Solomon comes to mind; Sampson, Lot, Ananias and Sapphira who were literally slain in the Holy Spirit, take those Corinthians who were drunk and disorderly at the Lord’s Table and they were disciplined unto the point of death. It doesn’t take much to dispel this idea that all Christians persevere in good works automatically simply by reading the Bible.
Sugar Land Bible Church does not teach the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints. What we teach is the preservation of the saints. God preserves us in terms of our eternal security. That’s what we teach. When we are faithless, He is what? “faithful for He cannot deny Himself,” as we’ll be seeing in this book. [2 Timothy 2:13]
Your security in God is ironclad if you’re a believer; it’s a done deal! What is not ironclad is are you going to finish well or not. So 2 Timothy is written for this purpose, which takes us to question number 8: what is inside this book? Let me give you an outline, if I could; four parts.
Number 1, you have a general call to faithful endurance in the ministry, chapter 1. Paul tells and commands Timothy here of the need to persevere in his calling, which he is shrinking back from, because of reasons I’ve explained. He was not being assertive in his role as pastor-teacher over Ephesus because of a host of factors. Paul tells Timothy shake yourself, in chapter 1, pull yourself out of this nonsense that’s circling in your head. Stop listening to the voice of the devil and go and become and do what God has called you to do.
And that takes us into chapter 2 where we move from point to picture. Chapter 2 is part 2 where Timothy is given ten metaphors describing what faithful endurance looks like. What does it mean to endure? Paul says here are ten metaphors. So he moves from point to picture; if you’re left brain you’ll love chapter 1, if you’re a right brain you’ll love chapter 2, because now we’re getting into pictures and creativity and visions or symbols, metaphors and things of that nature. But you see, it’s all designed to spur this man, Timothy, on in the Lord.
And then we come to chapter 3, verse 1 through chapter 4 verse 8 where Paul begins, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, to explain something that most Christians, if you ask them what it is they couldn’t tell you, but it is a concept called the apostasy of the church. Apostasy is a Greek noun, it’s a compound word coming from apos which means away from, a preposition combined with the verb histēmi, which means to stand, and it literally means to stand away from, apostasy.
Another way of saying apostasy is a departure from known truth. Paul predicts a season when even the professing church itself would slip and slide, theologically and biblically and relationally away from the things of God. He just tells us flat out that it’s coming. And he tells Timothy what he is to do in that section, in the midst of the apostasy. What is he to focus on. See, he never tells him here’s how to avoid the apostasy. He just says it’s coming and here’s what you’re to do as the world, and in particular the church, is apostatizing.
You know, it’s interesting when you bring up the subject of Bible prophecy to people; immediately they start talking about the Middle East, they start talking about Israel, and they start talking about all of these events and those are all wonderful topics, but those all relate to God’s program with Israel. What about the prophecies that are happening right now, before our eyes and underneath our very feet? The apostasy is a prediction that is given about the age of the church, that is a prophecy that is happening right now. That is a prophecy that is in full bloom.
Have you ever thought about Bible college? Here’s the doctrinal statement of a well-known Bible college. “Let every student be plainly instructed and earnestly pressed to consider well the main end of his life and studies is to know God and Jesus Christ which is eternal life (John 17:3) and therefore to lay Christ in the bottom as the only foundation of all sound knowledge and learning. And seeing the Lord only giveth wisdom, let everyone seriously set himself by prayer in secret to seek it of Him (Prov. 2, 3). Everyone shall exercise himself in reading the Scriptures twice a day that he shall be ready to give such an account of his proficiency therein.” [Rules of Harvard in 1636; quoted in David Barton, Original Intent, 81]
Great Bible college, where do I sign up? You go to the bottom there of that quote, this is a citation from Harvard University, 1636 A.D. And that doctrinal statement and these rules were carved almost a century and a half before the American Revolution, giving you the time frame.
There isn’t a school that started on a greater footing than Harvard, spiritually. Have you visited Harvard lately, have you heard the things that are coming out of Harvard. Have you talked to some of the Harvard professors and graduates? You won’t find anything like this. What happened? The apostasy happened. The departure happened. The very thing that Paul warned Timothy about in this book happened.
Beyond theological apostasy we are in the middle of, beloved, a tremendous cultural apostasy. In fact, one of the problems of laying there in a sick bed is that you’re forced to watch cable television all day, which I did, I think that may have slowed down my healing process [laughter] because beloved, there have been several things that have happened in America just in the last couple of weeks, just in the last couple of months that literally cause me to wake up every day and wonder what country am I living in? I put this little montage together, these are just four things that happened in the news just recently.
Number 1 is the war on the police. When I was growing up the police were the good guys; a police officer was a sign of comfort, that’s how I feel with our officer that comes and looks after us during our service time. I hope if you get a chance to thank him for doing that for us you’ll do it because he’s not getting reinforcement anywhere else. Because we’re in a climate where the police are presumed guilty until proven innocent. That’s new. I’m not saying everybody that’s an office of the law is innocent or perfect. I’m not saying that there aren’t bad apples in any barrel; you can find bad apples in any profession. But how do we get to a point in our country where the police are demonized, constantly.
How do we get to a point in our country where people can stand up and make vitriolic statements about the police, leading to the murder of an office who was uniformed here in Houston who was filling up his car with gasoline. I try real hard not to get into the political side of it but the war on the police has been going on for a long time and it was intensified in 2009 when the President of the United States, without knowing any of the facts of the case, got up in front of the nation and said the Cambridge Police acted stupidly. I thought he was a legal scholar; I thought you were supposed to let the evidence come in before you charge in with a guilty verdict. But you see, beloved, this is the culture that we find ourselves in.
The second there, towards the top is the Iran deal, I thought the function of American foreign policy was to embolden our allies and alienate our enemies; that’s what I thought we were doing. Everything is topsy-turvy now, where we are alienating our own allies and emboldening our enemies. So we see being rushed through the Congress this deal which speeds Iran, a Shite theocratic organization or nation that chants daily “death to America,” we are not trying to stop them from crossing the nuclear finish line, we are speeding it up. All against the nation of Israel which has been our longstanding ally. I don’t know how seriously you take Genesis 12:3, I take it very seriously. Whoever curses Israel will be cursed. [Genesis 12:3, “And I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse….”] I didn’t make it up, it’s right there in your Bible. There isn’t a nation on the earth that has turned its back against Israel and continued to enjoy the blessings and the favor of God.
And I thought the Constitution said two-thirds of the Senate must sign on to a treaty like this. Well, somehow you get enough lawyers involved in the action and the language gets manipulated where no longer is that even a requirement. This is a shift, beloved; this is not something that’s happened over the last ten years, this is something that’s happened over the last year.
The other example I have up there is planned parenthood, which, by the way, you pay for as a tax payer. Planned parenthood is in the business of aborting or murdering unborn children, as you followed the news, multiple videos have now come out of high ranking planned parenthood doctors, so called, I don’t really call these people doctors, I thought the doctor was supposed to save lives. And high ranking administrators and executives within planned parenthood sipping on wine, chomping down salads, talking for the whole nation to see about the wholesale slaughter of children and using the parts of those unborn children to make money. This is unbelievable to me. Where is the outrage. This, to me, is a new development.
Or the individual there that I have on the bottom right, you know of this story, this is Kimberly Davis. Who is that? She’s a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, she is a clerk in the state of Kentucky, she did not want to issue same sex marriage licenses until her name was taken off the license. So she wouldn’t issue same sex marriage licenses for a particular day; she had that conviction because of her beliefs in the Bible. Well, where is she today? She’s in jail.
This is not happening in some far away Middle Eastern country; these are things that are happening right beneath our noses. If she had done this, let’s say back in mid-June or early June no problem, but now, with the recent Supreme Court case, and I’ve read the case myself, the justices get an “A” for creativity and an “F” for constitutional interpretation. [clapping] All based on a ruling that has no basis in the actual text of the Constitution itself. Here is this woman standing up and saying look, no marriage licenses today for homosexuals because I don’t want my name on the marriage license. Federal marshals show up and export her to prison. Wow!
Cultural apostasy at a level that’s unfathomable to me. This is why I wonder, what country is it that we are living in. I don’t have some three-point plan for you all, here’s how we can recapture it. What I’m trying to say is look, this is happening, we are drifting away from our origins, not only in the church but we are drifting from our origins in the whole realm of the United States of America. It’s frustrating to watch, but the fact of the matter is, God has appointed us to live at this time. It is a frustrating thing to watch your country unravel right before your very eyes but the fact of the matter is we can sit and feel sorry for ourselves all we want but God allowed us, I would say decreed it for us to live during this time.
What do we do about it? 2 Timothy tells us exactly what to do. It doesn’t give you a formula about how to recapture the culture, what it tells you is what you, as an individual Christian, are to focus on as the apostasy is in full swing. That’s why I wanted to study with us the book of 2 Timothy because it’s spoken and almost written for our very time period. Part 4 of the book is how God met six needs in Paul’s life. Most interpreters just rush right over that section. Not me! I believe everything that is revealed there is put there by the Holy Spirit. And when we study that section carefully together we will see that Paul, when almost everyone had turned their back on him, at a time where he was most vulnerable and most needy and had no one to depend upon but God, how God came through for Paul. He came through for Paul and met the deepest needs in Paul’s life at the worst time in his life.
That’s what Paul is describing there at the end of chapter 4. He’s not just randomly giving biographical information, he is saying this is God; God is faithful, and Timothy, if God has been faithful to me in the worst of times, He’ll be faithful to you because Paul says I have no corner on God. Does not the Bible say, Hebrews 13:8 that God “is the same yesterday, today and forever”? If God helped me in the valley He’s going to help you.
So all of these fears and weaknesses that you have about Nero and pastoring this church, you need not succumb to those because God is on your side. I thank God for my former youth pastor, who always said this: One plus God is a majority. Let the world, let the church go to hell in a handbasket, but the fact of the matter is that does not change God’s relationship to you or His faithfulness to you one iota, because He is the same yesterday, today and forever. [Hebrews 3:8, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.”]
God, Malachi 3:6, cannot change. [Malachi 3:6, “For I, the LORD, do not change, therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed.”] His attributes are immutable and unchangeable. Timothy, if God helped me He’s going to help you because that’s the nature of God. And I want to remind you of what God did for me in my worst of times, to encourage you that God is going to help you in your worst of times.
Number 9, and with we’re finished. What makes the book different? What makes it special? What makes it unique? What are some things that we learn in 2 Timothy that we can’t really learn anywhere else. Number 1, this is a pastoral letter. In fact, there are three books in your New Testament that are pastoral letters, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy and Titus, written to pastors. Why do we call them pastoral letters? Because they’re written to pastors. This is one of that three-part collection. The last of that three part collection, in fact, the last book Paul wrote; this book is also very personal rather than theological. It’s not going to unpack the great doctrines of the Christian faith the way we find in Romans, for example. This is a personal letter to a friend about his choices.
This is also Paul’s last will and testament; it is the very last thing he wrote, knowing that his death was imminent. These are Paul’s final words. And so we can begin to appreciate the solemnness of the apostle’s pen. It’s very similar to Peter. 2 Peter is Peter’s last will and testament. Peter writes, “Knowing that the laying aside of my earthly dwelling is imminent, as also our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me.” [2 Peter 1:14] A parallel passage for Paul would be 2 Timothy 4:6, “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come.”
Who wrote it? Paul.
What do we know about Paul? He’s the apostle of the age of the church.
To whom was it written? Timothy. When was it written? A.D. 67.
Where was it written from? Rome
Why was it written? Because of Timothy’s timidity.
What’s it about? It’s about perseverance, which is no automatic.
You say well, how does this apply to me? Because there are all kinds of things God has called you to do. And many times we pull back, we’re tempted to pull back, 2 Timothy tells us not to.
What is inside? A nice four part outline as I’ve shared with you.
What makes the book different, unlike any other book that’s ever been written? This is Paul’s final words.
So I hope you’re looking forward to this study. Perhaps you’re here today and you don’t even know Christ personally, no one has ever told you how you can enter into a relationship with Him. You enter into a relationship with Him through an understanding of the gospel which is Jesus did everything in our place. To erase the sin barrier between God and man and by trusting in Christ and Christ alone for our eternity and our salvation and the safekeeping of our souls we immediately have eternal life and the hope of heaven and the next life.
If that’s something you’ve never done it’s something you could do right now in the privacy of your own mind, thoughts and heart as the Holy Spirit places you under conviction. Respond the best you know how by believing or another way of saying it is trusting, relying, depending upon the gospel; it is something that takes place with no human works whatsoever, it is not necessary to walk an aisle, join a church, raise a hand, give money, to receive this. It’s a free gift. and that’s what ushers you into a relationship with God.
Our hope and prayer is that you’ll do that and do it now as I’m speaking. If it’s something that you need more information on I’m available after the service to talk. Shall we pray.
Father, we are saddened about the times we live in but at the same time we’re excited. We’re grateful, Lord, that You have given us a provision in Your Word, 2 Timothy, that helps us navigate our way through these uncertain times, tells us what to focus on. May the book of 2 Timothy not just be an academic exercise to us but make it very real to us and help it to enhance our walk with you. We will be careful to give you all the praise and the glory; we ask these things in Jesus name.