Accept your share of suffering
- 2:1 Dear son of mine, let the kindness1 of Jesus the Messiah make you stronger than ever.
- 2:2 Here’s what I want you to do. You know all those words you heard me teach in front of crowds? Pass them on to devoted men so they’ll be able to teach others.
- 2:3 As a good soldier of Jesus the Messiah, you’re going to suffer. Accept your share of it.
- 2:4 No active-duty soldier gets caught up in the everyday concerns of civilian life. He focuses on his duty because he wants to please the officer who enlisted him.
- 2:5 Here’s another way of looking at it. If athletes don’t play by the rules, they don’t win the prize.
- 2:6 But keep this in mind, too. The hardworking farmer is the first one to get his hands on the fruit of his labor. He eats first.
- 2:7 Think about what I’ve just said. The Lord will help you understand it.
- 2:8 Don’t ever forget the Good News I preached: Jesus the Messiah, a descendant of David, risen from the dead.
- 2:9 That message is the reason I’m suffering here in prison, charged with a serious crime. God’s message isn’t locked up, though. It’s free.
- 2:10 I’m willing to suffer through anything for the sake of God’s chosen people. I want them to experience the salvation that’s available through Jesus the Messiah—and the eternal glory that comes with it.
Ode to suffering
- 2:11 You can count on the words of this well-known saying: 2
If we die with him,
We’ll live with him.
If we keep going,
We’ll get there and rule with him.
If we turn our back on him,
He’ll turn his back on us.
He won’t fail to do what is right.3
He can’t change who he is.
- 2:14 Remind the people about all of this. And give them this command, with God watching: Stop fighting over mere words. It’s good for nothing but demolishing the faith of the people listening.4
Work hard, watch your mouth
- 2:15 Work hard at what you’re doing. Then one day stand before God as a worker with nothing to be ashamed of because you got the Good News right—in the words you spoke and in the way you lived.5
- 2:16 Step away from senseless yap, yap, yapping.6 All it does is drag people down.
- 2:17 That kind of talk spreads like flesh-eating gangrene. That’s what happened to Hymenaeus7 and Philetus.
- 2:18 Both of them took a detour off the trail of truth. They’re saying the resurrection has already happened.8
- 2:19 God’s foundation is bedrock solid. It’s engraved with a message: “The Lord knows who his people are. Everyone who calls him Lord should run away from anything they know is wrong.”
- 2:20 In a big house you’ll find two kinds of dishes. Some dishes, made of gold and silver, are for special occasions. Others, made from wood and clay, are nothing special.
- 2:21 You’ll be something special if you live a clean life, devoted to the master. That’s how you get yourself ready for work.
- 2:22 Run away from the temptation to act like a teenager.9 Instead, chase down goodness, faith, love, kindness, and peace. That’s where you’ll find others who serve the Lord sincerely.
- 2:23 Stay away from controversial debates over ignorant, absurd ideas. They start fights.
- 2:24 God’s people aren’t troublemakers. They are gifted and patient teachers who treat others kindly.
- 2:25 They gently correct those folks who disagree with them. Because of this, God might help those folks discover the truth and reject their sinful way of living.
- 2:26 If they come to their spiritual senses, they’ll escape from the devil. And they won’t have to do what he tells them anymore.
Often translated “grace.”
Paul, in verses 11-13, seems to quote the lyrics of an early Christian song about Jesus.
It’s unclear what these lyrics mean. Some Bible experts say Paul means that if Christians fail to do what is right, Christ will have no choice but to punish them. Others say the lyrics refer to Christ’s kindness and forgiveness, and that even when believers sometimes make bad choices and don’t act like Christians, Jesus won’t give up on them.
A more literal translation says the fighting will only “ruin those listening.” The Greek word for “ruin” is katastrophe, from which we get the word “catastrophe.”
A more literal translation, “correctly handling the word of truth.” Scholars suggest two possible meanings, both reflected in this paraphrase. (1) The correct handling means Timothy correctly taught the Good News about Jesus. (2) Timothy practiced what he preached.
Many Bible experts say Paul probably isn’t talking about gossip, nasty words, and hurtful criticism. Instead, he’s talking about heretical ideas being taught by people like Hymenaeus and Philetus (v.17).
Hymenaeus was possibly a leader in a heretical teaching. Paul essentially excommunicated him earlier, though if this follow-up letter is any indication, Hymenaeus didn’t take the hint and leave (1Timothy 1:20).
These people whom Paul considered heretics apparently taught that the Second Coming of Jesus and the resurrection of the dead had come and gone.
More literally, “Flee youthful passions.” It’s not clear what Paul means. He could mean sex, but it doesn’t seem to fit the context. He might be talking about the fact that Timothy is young, and he may be tempted to show it in an immature temperament and a tendency to get into arguments.
Paul offers Timothy three short examples of what it means to be a minister: soldier, athlete, and farmer. Then he says “The Lord will help you understand it” (2:7). After reading those three examples in 2 Timothy 2:3-6, what do you think it was that Paul expected Timothy to understand?
Paul quotes what sounds like another early church song about Jesus (2:11-13). What are your reaction to the lyrics? What do you like about the message? What about it might make you feel uncomfortable?
Paul warns Timothy away from “senseless yap, yap, yapping. All it does is drag people down. That kind of talk spreads like flesh-eating gangrene” (2:16-17). What kind of yapping do you think Paul has in mind? And what kind of yapping do you think people do today that would fit Paul’s description as spreading like flesh-eating gangrene?
Many Bible experts say they don’t understand what Paul meant when he told Timothy, “Run away from the temptations to act like a teenager” (2:22). As the footnote indicates, the phrase about teenagers is sometimes translated “flee youthful passions.” Offer a guess. What do you think Paul was talking about?
LIFE APPLICATION. Calling Timothy a dear son, Paul advises him to “let the kindness of Jesus the Messiah make you stronger than ever” (2:1). The word for kindness is often translated as grace. How on earth can kindness or grace make us stronger?
Some Christians get in the face of nonbelievers with arguing that sometimes gets out of hand. Paul seems to tell Timothy not to go that direction: “God’s people aren’t troublemakers… They gently correct those folks who disagree with them” (2:24-25). On the other hand, Paul got pretty angry with some people who disagreed with him (Galatians 5:2). Which version of Paul’s advice do you recommend?