During one of his imprisonments Paul wrote a letter to his mentee, Timothy. The date, as best it can be established, was approximately AD 67. Not long afterward, according to tradition, the apostle was beheaded.
The primary theme of the letter is the need for faithfulness in the face of hardship. In 2 Timothy, he gives Timothy, and us, advice that can also give us hope and comfort. The purpose of 2 Timothy was to encourage Timothy in his ministry at Ephesus.
2 Timothy 2:1-9 NLT Timothy, my dear son, be strong through the grace that God gives you in Christ Jesus. You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others. Endure suffering along with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. Soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life, for then they cannot please the officer who enlisted them. And athletes cannot win the prize unless they follow the rules. And hardworking farmers should be the first to enjoy the fruit of their labor. Think about what I am saying. The Lord will help you understand all these things. Always remember that Jesus Christ, a descendant of King David, was raised from the dead. This is the Good News I preach. And because I preach this Good News, I am suffering and have been chained like a criminal. But the word of God cannot be chained.
1. God’s Grace Leads to Strength
2 Timothy 2:1 NLT Timothy, my dear son, be strong through the grace that God gives you in Christ Jesus.
Paul understood captivity. He understood being housebound. He was bound for spreading a contagious gospel.
Paul’s advice to Timothy, his son in the faith, was to be strong, or be empowered! Timothy was not going to find his strength within himself. He was not going to find it by going to the gym and working out, by eating healthy, by listening to podcasts by people stronger than himself. His strength would be found in one place only: in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. This means that Timothy’s strength would be a gift from God. The same good news or gospel that landed Paul in prison would be Timothy’s solution in times of weakness.
The Bible Knowledge Commentary explains that “after being released from his first Roman imprisonment Paul, with Timothy by his side, evidently revisited some of the churches in Asia, including Ephesus. On his departure from Ephesus, Paul left Timothy behind to provide leadership to the congregation.”
Paul may have sensed that Timothy had some trepidation about his ability to accomplish his assignment. To encourage him he wrote
2 Timothy 1:7 NLT For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.
This was a reminder to learn on Jesus for strength.
2 Corinthians 12:9 NLT Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.
2. God’s Plan Is Still Disciple-Making
2 Timothy 2:2 NLT You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others.
One thing many of us are doing right now, during this challenging time of Covid-19, is sharing hope and encouragement on social media. (Hopefully we’re not aiding in the spread of fear and panic.) In times like these it's important to pass along trusted advice, encouragement, and the gospel. This is making disciples. However, there’s more to it than that. Instead of simply spreading good news far and wide be selective. Trusted information should be shared with people who can be trusted to share it with others.
A farmer doesn’t fling his precious, costly seed all over the county. He plants the seeds in cultivated soil. He wants a harvest! We know from the Parable of the Sower in that seeds sown on hard ground don’t grow well. Even if they spring up, they don’t reach maturity.
Matthew 13:5-6 ESV Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away.
Be choosy and intentional when you share because you will reap what you sow so be wise in your sharing.
Proverbs 13:20 NLT Walk with the wise and become wise; associate with fools and get in trouble.
Find reliable people who will continue to teach others and spread the gospel and invest in them. It yields a greater harvest when we make disciples who will make disciples who will make disciples. It’s about multiplication. Think about these things:?
1. Use this time of having to stay at home to start an online Bible study with someone.
2. Find a prayer partner and contact each other weekly for prayer.
3. Ask someone you trust to keep you spiritually accountable during this time.
4. Find ways to share God’s love and truth with someone you’ve been praying for.
5. Be intentional about training up your own children or grandchildren in the faith.
Timothy had this kind of spiritual heritage! His mother and grandmother sowed the seed of faith in his heart as a young child and it grew to maturity and reproduced!
2 Timothy 1:3-5 NLT Timothy, I thank God for you—the God I serve with a clear conscience, just as my ancestors did. Night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. I long to see you again, for I remember your tears as we parted. And I will be filled with joy when we are together again. I remember your genuine faith, for you share the faith that first filled your grandmother Lois and your mother, Eunice. And I know that same faith continues strong in you.
3. God’s Word Is Not Bound, Even When We Are
2 Timothy 1:9 NLT For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan from before the beginning of time—to show us his grace through Christ Jesus.
There are times in life when we are limited. Paul was writing from a dungeon. You are may be reading this from a house you are now bound to, apart from maybe a trip to the grocery store or a walk outside.
Paul reminded Timothy, the Word of God is NOT bound! Even in the technologically challenged age in which Paul was writing, the Word of God was spreading: through letters, through God’s people, through the growth of the early church, even through persecution.
Nothing can stop God and His Word!
Matthew 16:16-18 NLT Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being. Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.
How will you communicate the Word of God during this time?
Editor's Note: This post was inspired by 3 Reminders from Paul about Being Homebound during COVID-19 by Kristi Walker, with some edits and scriptures by me.