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Category Archives: 2 Timothy

2 Timothy 4 – Ear-Tickling Good

Earlier this week I was reading an article from Outreach Magazine that discussed the oft quoted idea that sometimes your greatest form of evangelism is how you live your life.  The article, found here puts forth the idea that evangelism requires words.  Personally, I agree with this idea.  I think that how we live our lives as Christians is extremely important and can open doors (or more accurately, living badly can slam doors shut) for evangelism to take place.  But at the end of the day, evangelism requires a believer who is willing to tell somebody what it is they believe.

Use Your Words Well

In this chapter, Paul is giving Timothy valuable ministry instructions.  Always be willing, at any time of the year and in any situation to preach the word.  And don’t get the visual of a pulpit here.  Neither Paul nor Timothy ever stood behind a pulpit preaching from their notes to a large number of people in pews.  Those are all constructs of the modern church.  Preaching simply meant sharing your faith and what you knew to be true about the Gospel of Jesus Christ so that others could be saved.  And what are the three main things your teaching should accomplish: correcting, rebuking, and and encouraging.  This should come as no surprise if you have read Paul’s epistles which endlessly correct, rebuke and encourage the church.  Correction applies when somebody is teaching, preaching, or believing in something other than what the Apostles (Paul included) taught about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Rebuke is when somebody begins intentionally living in sin or in opposition to God’s will.  And encouragement is what helps people doing well to keep doing well.

E. Torrini’s “Older Gentlemen Tickling the Ear of His Wife”

He cautions Timothy to avoid messages that will “tickle people’s ears.”  This is often watered down to simply mean “preachers shouldn’t just preach easy, happy sermons all the time.”  But that’s not necessarily the case.  After all, Paul dedicated his life to preaching the Gospel, that is the Good News of Jesus.  Preaching should be good and should be good news.  What he is saying is that Christians should not compromise the first two obligations mentioned above, namely correcting and rebuking, in order to not offend.  Ear-tickling-sermons are those that offer encouragement specifically to those who need correcting and rebuking.  And when ministers effectively do this, they protect the sound doctrine or healthy teachings of the church.

Other Concluding Stuff

Paul’s letter takes a dark and personal turn here.  Paul seems to realize that his time is drawing short in this section.  He makes sure that Timothy and the church know the names of several who have betrayed him and abandoned him.  If Alexander was causing problems for Timothy, this letter would have helped Timothy to reestablish some authority and position over Alexander in the church.

As always, Paul throws in a few greetings at the end.  Luke is still with him and was with him throughout much of his imprisonment.  I think that Paul likely contributed heavily to Luke’s writings, especially providing his own account of the events in Acts during this time.  Paul mentions Erastus, who stayed in Corinth.  I have seen the Erastus Stone in Corinth, which many believe to have indicated that this same Erastus possibly donated a street as a citizen funded civic project and as such had his name engraved on it.  It can still be seen today.  Pretty cool stuff.  

 

 
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Posted by on November 20, 2012 in 2 Timothy, Pauline Epistles

 

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2 Timothy 3 – Godly Life in Christ = Persecution?

Paul continues to give instruction to Timothy about how to handle the church after he has left. We live in a culture that pushes more and more for tolerance and acceptance. While there is a lot of need for that in our culture, there isn’t much room for it in our churches. Don’t hear me wrong. We are tolerant of people who struggle with sin but Paul is strict on those who have the form of godliness but deny its power. These people are cancerous to the church and we should have nothing to do with them. Does this seem harsh? Shouldn’t we love everyone? Again…we need to be careful here and not let this verse be turned into a verse to kick “sinners” out of the church. On the other hand, we need to take the problem of sin seriously and have nothing to do with people who have become a cancer amongst the church. All that being said, it appears that Paul is addressing specific people. These people are going into homes to gain control over gullible women. These men are opposed to the truth though they are always learning. They will never come to knowledge.

Paul then turns his focus to Timothy to encourage him to continue in what he has learned from infancy and to continue on in it. After talking about the different things that he has experienced in his life, Paul then makes this comment in verse 12 that makes me uncomfortable, “Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” This doesn’t seem like a “probably statement.” Paul is convinced that persecution comes to those who are living a godly life in Christ Jesus. Christians are called to live counter culturally. When you live drastically different from the world, you will be persecuted. If we are not being persecuted, we need to stop and ask ourselves if we look more like the culture around us or the gospel found in Christ.

“All Scripture is God-breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that all God’s people may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” – This Scripture Paul is talking about is not the New Testament though there might be some thought that Paul might think of some of the things he is writing as Scripture since he feels the need to differentiate between when God is talking and when he is talking. Nonetheless, Scripture is to be used for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness. Who is Scripture to be applied to though? Christians or nonChristians? Scripture is used to teach, rebuke, correct, and train those who belong to God. How quick are we to attack nonChristians with Scripture? Scripture is there to equip us for every good work and not to be used as a weapon to attack others with.

 
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Posted by on November 19, 2012 in 2 Timothy, Bible Blog, Pauline Epistles

 

2 Timothy 2 – Focus, Focus, Focus

Focus on Jesus

A good soldier is focused on his officer’s commands and doesn’t get distracted by civilian affairs.  An athlete plays by the rules and does not stray from them.  The farmer should benefit from the harvest.  These three professions are all require hard work and extreme focus.  If you get distracted from your purpose then you will fail.  Paul tells Timothy that he must be like these examples and remain firmly focused.  On what?  On Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David.  Timothy must remain focused on the Gospel of Jesus Christ and not allow himself to become distracted by insignificant arguments, whether they relate to the church or are of the world.  He must keep the main thing the main thing.

Don’t Get Distracted

Paul then instructs Timothy to remove distractions from the people.  Don’t let them get caught up arguing about words.  There are more important things to focus on.  Don’t let the people get caught up in godless chatter and just drumming up things to bicker about.  There are more important things to focus on. Don’t let wicked morons like Hymenaeus and Philetus cause division and spread false teachings.  Don’t get distracted by youthful desires, but pursue the virtues of the faith.  Don’t sweat the petty things, but focus on what matters.  Be gentle with those who disagree with you.

Are you noticing a pattern.  I am not sure how many ways Paul can say that Christians, especially leaders like Timothy, should stay focused and avoid distractions to the Gospel and the work of the Kingdom.  The question for you and me today is what things distract us from the Gospel and how can we become more focused?

 
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Posted by on November 15, 2012 in 2 Timothy, Pauline Epistles

 

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2 Timothy 1 – Fan the Flame

My dad taught me how to build a fire when I was young and it is still one of my favorite things to do. With a good structure and the smallest of sparks I can get a nice fire blazing. Paul reminds Timothy, his son in the faith, of the sincere faith that was passed down to him from his grandmother Lois and mother Eunice and encourages him to fan into flame the gift of God. Paul encourages Timothy to recognize the embers still kindling inside of him and calls him to fan these embers into flame. I’ve knelt next to many fires that were about dead and blew life back into them. The embers just need a little bit of focus and a blazing fire will erupt again. Timothy is called to ignite the Spirit within him.

This Spirit gives us power, love, and self-discipline. It is the power of Christ who destroyed death and has brought life and immortality. It is in this reality that Paul calls Timothy to join with him in his suffering. The call to suffer doesn’t make ant sense unless there is something greater than the suffering. The fire that burns within Paul is greater than any fire he encountered in this world. The fire is the Spirit ignited in him, taking over his life, and transforming it into a new creation. This is what Paul is calling Timothy to as a leader in the Church.

We have this same Spirit within us waiting to be ignited. Recognize the embers kindling within you and ignite it. Recognize the embers in each other and fan it into flame. We are not called to be timid but to be people of power, love, and self-discipline. Fan the flame.

 
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Posted by on November 14, 2012 in 2 Timothy, Bible Blog, Pauline Epistles

 

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