2 Timothy 1-4
(All Scripture is God-Breathed)
December 14th

Produced by The Listening for God Ministry
Copyright 2016

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Please refer to one or more Bible versions of your choice to read this section. We recommend that you read at least two versions for added understanding. For your convenience, we have provided six links below, each of which takes you directly to today's chapters in a specific version:

Key Verse

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness so that men of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

- 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV)

Summary of Chapters

2 Timothy is the second of four letters written by Paul to specific pastors and is his second letter to Timothy. This one was written while Paul was in prison in Rome for the second and last time. It is significantly shorter than 1 Timothy, but there is no shortage of encouragement for perseverance in difficult times.

Paul opens chapter 1 with warm greetings to Timothy and give thanks to God. He encourages his friend to continue sharing the Gospel and explains that the grace we have received existed since the beginning of time:

    Do not be ashamed, then, of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel, relying on the power of God, who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works but according to his own purpose and grace. This grace was given to us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.

    - 2 Timothy 1:8-10 (NRSV)

Paul also revisited themes from the previous letter to Timothy and other letters. For example, in chapter 2 he re-iterates his warning against "godless chatter" and the false teaching from others who have claimed that the second coming of Christ has already occurred. But he also advises Timothy to be patient and gentle when instructing:

    As the Lord's servant, you must not quarrel. You must be kind towards all, a good and patient teacher, gentle as you correct your opponents, for it may be that God will give them the opportunity to repent and come to know the truth. And then they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the Devil, who had caught them and made them obey his will.

    - 2 Timothy 2:24-26 (GNB)

In chapter 3 Paul warns of days of rampant godlessness, in which people will only seek pleasure even at the expense of others. Then these people will eventually be exposed for their follies. Therefore, Paul advises Timothy to continue to stay focused on God's word:

    All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness so that men of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

    - 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV)

Chapter 4 contains Paul's final advice to Timothy and perhaps his last recorded words. He gives further encouragement to Timothy to persevere in teaching, even when many turn away from listening to the truth about God. Paul notes that his own days are numbered and asks Timothy to come quickly to see him and to bring some of Paul's possessions (some specific scrolls and a cloak that he had left in another location). Paul praises the Lord for always being at his side and expresses his confidence that he will be rescued and brought safely to the heavenly kingdom.

Reflection and Application

This letter is assumed to be the last one that Paul wrote. We will see more of his letters in the days ahead as we follow the defined order of the New Testament, but all of those are assumed to have been written earlier. Presumably this one was placed here to be next to the first letter to Timothy.

Can you imagine the emotions of Paul as he prepared this last letter? He might have been angry at the relentless trend of the claim that Christ has already returned, and he may have been tempted to dash off another "foolish-Galatians" type letter. But instead, he takes an attitude of praise and fatherly advice towards Timothy, trusting him to take on the fabricators using his gifts and youth and prayer. In the same way God trusts us to use our gifts and age to share the word with the people with whom we contact.

There are several themes in this letter that we have seen during our study of the whole Bible since January 1st. First, in chapter 1, verse 9, Paul explains that God's grace has existed since the beginning of time. We have found descriptions of that grace from the beginning of the Bible until the end. Then in chapter 3, verses 16 to 17 Paul explains that all scripture is worthy of study. We have reminded ourselves of those words as we read through each of the books of the Bible, some sections of which have more apparent usefulness than others - but the truth is that all are God-breathed and useful for "teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness." And finally, in chapter 4, verse 3, Paul explains that people will have "itchy ears" and long to hear things other than the truth. We have found reminders throughout scripture of the importance of tuning our ears to what God has to say to us.

Returning to the present season of study: Are you doing any Christmas shopping yet? Do you share with others the news of any good bargains? If we do that then we can also feel comfortable sharing the Good News of the bargain that God has offered us and can be assured that there will be no rain-checks needed - he has an endless supply at the stated price. In fact, if we were to create a TV or Radio ad regarding God's offer we might say something like this: "Crazy Yahweh! He's giving away Grace! Bad Credit - No Worries! Sinful life - Not a problem! Former persecutor of the church? Fuhgettaboutit! Come on up and give praise to God, but hurry, because this deal won't last forever!"

What is the timing of the rampant godlessness that Paul forecasts? Did it occur during Timothy's lifetime? Are we in that era now? We don't need to look far to see people who love money and seek pleasure at the expense of others and in place of seeking and worshipping God. How do we shield ourselves from getting sucked into this world? By doing what we are doing now: Immersing ourselves in scripture. Paul says to Timothy that all of it is God-breathed.

It's hard to conceive that Paul had any attachments to material things, but he reveals his human nature in this last letter. There is no harm in appreciating our possessions, particularly when it's a humble collection like Paul's: A few parchments and a favorite cloak. The problem arises when we go overboard with a desire to own everything we see, but we can pray that God will help us to draw the line in the sand as needed.

Check out the YouTube video of a Best Buy commercial from a few years ago for a humorous perspective on how our culture is possessed by desiring the latest product:

"Technology Moves Fast"

It's funny and sad at the same time. Somehow the folks at Best Buy get us to laugh at ourselves and then come to their store and buy more stuff. What they really want is for us to buy the high margin extended warranty because they are practically giving away the products. The marketers at Best Buy and other companies are feeding on our human nature to covet what other people have.

In the 10th Commandment, God clearly spelled out that it was wrong for us to give in to these desires, but we are up against the powers of professional marketing and peer pressure. The technology changes so fast that we will never catch up and own the latest of everything. But then there is God. We can't own him, but we can belong to him. There is just one everlasting version, there is no warranty needed, but there is a recommended instruction book which has come to life through the breath of God.

Here is something else worth watching, a performance of the song "Bargain," by Pete Townsend, formerly of the rock bank, "The Who." You may have heard this song before but not realized it's about a relationship with God, and includes lyrics such as "I would pay any price to get you...it's the best bargain I ever had!" In one recording Townsend explained how the song reflects his own walk with God and his eventually realization of what God offers.

"The Bargain," performed by Pete Townsend

Questions and Prayers for Further Reflection

    Related Questions
    1. What is your favorite coat?
    2. Paul was a mentor to Timothy. For whom could you be a mentor?
    3. What can we do today to tell people about the crazy deal offered by God?

    Recommended Prayer
    Father in heaven, we know that you offer the best deal on Earth. Help us to accept the bargain.

    Prayer Concern
    Victims of violence, particularly young victims and their families

    Looking Ahead

    Tomorrow's reading: Titus and Philemon (Distinct Letters of Advice)

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