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Sunday, October 20, 2013

Overview of 2 Timothy

Second Timothy is concerned with church life in the post-apostolic era. A brief overview of this letter will highlight the main concerns which we should consider to be a direct address to each of us.

It begins with an affirmation of faith. Church leaders come from families. Adults are required to provide the same formation for the children among us as Timothy had. They have been set apart and ordained in baptism--called by grace and called to suffer for the Gospel.  Yet the suffering is for a purpose. With trust in God we are challenged to hold to the standard of sound teaching in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

Returning to the theme of suffering, now pictured as the discipline of a soldier, an athlete or a farmer we are told to Focus on proclaiming the Gospel: Jesus is the Messiah, He died and rose from the dead. We await His return. This is our faith and we need not be ashamed to embrace it and proclaim it.

Preaching in word requires a life witness as well. Our deeds matter and we are told to avoid the snares of sin and senseless controversies. Exhibiting the Christian virtues of righteousness, faith, love and peace, we should sincerely and seek to bring our opponents to Christ and His truth.

Such fidelity is a challenge to any leader. There are forces at work to undermine our determination to stay the course. Standing for Jesus Christ will be costly. 3:1 There will be  chalepos/hard-difficult-dangerous-fierce kairos /times coming in the eskatos/last days. The list of human misbehaviors  begins with (Men will be lovers of themselves) and includes the horrifying word(inhuman). The long list describes what we see each evening on the nightly news. We might find ourselves singing: “there is awful evil, that I know for the Bible tells me so…”

The letter goes on to warn that even within the church false teachers will worm their way in. The description of unfaithful church leaders “always instructed but they cannot learn the truth” is applicable today in the contemporary churches. To stand against such men will produce problems, but then, the letter reminds us, anyone who wants to lead a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” The tragedy of heresy is then spelled out: “Wicked people and imposters will go from bad to worse, deceiving others and themselves deceived.” It is as true today as it was in the first century. It is just the way it is…

The solution? Continue in what we have learned and cling to the God-breathed Sacred Writings which contain all we need to know to be faithful in righteousness and good works. The challenge? People have itchy ears—people find someone to preach what they want to hear. There is always someone there to twist God’s word…

2Timothy is an open letter to all of us. It is an exhortation to faith and faithfulness. The conflict with sin and heresy, the struggle against oppression and persecution always threaten to drain the church of life. But we know God is faithful and has called us in Jesus Christ to proclaim the message whether times be good or bad. We live in not so good times and they are getting worse. God is faithful. We have hope and so we can hear the challenge: You must endure; do the work of a herald and carry out your ministry fully.

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