REMIND YOU: di en aitian
anamimnesko (1SPAI): (2Ti
2:14; Isaiah 43:26; 1 Timothy 4:6; 2Peter 1:12; 3:1; Jude 1:5)
For this reason (see
terms of conclusion) refers to the “sincere
faith within” Timothy.
encouraged Timothy, he now begins to exhort him. In view of his godly
family background & sincere
faith, Timothy is to maintain its quality by diligent use.
The product of sincere faith is faithful service, and the heart of
faithful service is ministering our gift unreservedly for the Lord, the
gift which He distributes “to
just as He
Apart from ministering
our gift in the service of the Lord, our life on earth is worthless. Our
sole purpose as Christians is to obey and serve the Lord through the
gift with which He has uniquely blessed each of us, so that the body may
be built up."
(363) (anamimnesko from ana = again + mimnesko =
remember so literally recall again is more forceful than
carries idea of carefully thinking back and reconstructing something in
one’s mind, not merely remembering (eg
see use in
= I continually remind
Paul wanted Timothy to
actively recall to mind again something he already knew.
Paul is constantly actively stirring up the "embers" of past memories to
stimulate Timothy not to shrink from the sufferings (reproach &
tribulation) that a stand for Christ brings. Paul knows that remembering
will help Timothy to press on to maturity,
to run the race with endurance, to fight the good fight, to finish the
course, to keep the faith. Paul is saying in essence "Remember when God
did this or that for us...when He answered our prayers so clearly...when
He removed incredible obstacles...when He performed the
Hiebert explains "I remind
more literally, I am reminding thee,"
(which) tactfully represent Timothy as himself conscious of these duties
which are now urged upon him. All that he needs is reminding. Paul makes
an appeal for zeal (v. 6) and supplies an incentive (v. 7). (2 Timothy
by D. Edmond Hiebert)
Remember what God has done in your life and be
encouraged that He is faithful and true and that He will complete the
work He has begun in each of us (see note
(continually) KINDLE AFRESH: se anazopurein (PAN):
(1st of 32
= up, back or again + zoos = alive + pur =
fire) means to to keep in full flame. Stir up the
fire. Add fresh fuel. Cause something to begin again, to reactivate or
to cause to begin to be active again.
Anazopureo was in common use in the vernacular of the time this
epistle was penned and would have conjured up a vivid metaphor in young
Timothy as he read these graphic words.
conveys the sense of progressive, continuous
action. Keep kindling the gift afresh or make it your aim to continually
keep it at full flame.
A T Robertson says
to keep blazing
(continuous action, present time) (Word Pictures in the NT)
D. Edmond Hiebert notes
It is an unwarranted inference to
conclude from these words that Timothy has allowed his spiritual flame
to die down. Such a view is inconsistent with Paul's statement in verse
5. It also overlooks the force of the present tense of the
infinitive which means rather that Timothy is to keep the flame
blazing at white heat as he has been doing. It is not an implied rebuke
for neglect but a fatherly appeal bravely to continue in the face of
serious difficulty. The appeal is preventative rather than
corrective. The appeal is timely and pertinent in view
of the development of imperial hostility to Christianity." (2
Timothy by D. Edmond Hiebert) (Bolding added)
writes that anazopureo was used..
"In Classical Greek, in Euripides
work "Electra" (where he records) "you are rekindling old
strifes". From ana = again + zoos = alive + pur = fire. "To
zopuron" (zoon = living creature + pur
= fire) is a piece of hot coal, an ember, a spark. Plato calls the
survivors of the flood "small sparks of the human race preserved". The
word is, therefore, figurative, to stir or kindle the embers. Ana
combines the meanings again and up, rekindle or kindle up.
Vulgate only the former, resuscitare... It is not necessary to assume
that Timothy's zeal had become cold (Ed note: There’s no reason to
believe that Timothy’s fire had gone out—you can’t rekindle a fire
without at least some residual live coals!)." (Greek
Word Study) (Ed note: Vincent's original
note has been slightly modified to make it more readable).
translates this verse
I’m reminding you to shake the ashes off the God-given fire that’s in
John Wesley says this
Literally, blowing up the coals into a flame. (John Wesley's Explanatory
Notes on the Whole Bible)
The only other
use in Scripture is from the Septuagint translation of Genesis where
anazopureo is used to translate the Hebrew word for "revived"
which describes old Jacob's reaction as he became convinced that his son
Joseph was really alive...
"When they told him all the words of
Joseph that he had spoken to them, and when he saw the wagons that
Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of their father Jacob revived.
(Lxx = anazopureo - News of Joseph cause Jacob to be rekindled in his
spirit, to have the old flames stirred up to full blaze. This revelation
of Joseph added "fuel" to the dying embers and he became "active" again!)"
A related word zopuron (zoon = living creature + pur
= fire) refers to a piece of hot coal or a live coal, an ember
or a spark.
This word was a favorite metaphor in Classic Greek
and meant either ‘to kindle afresh’ or ‘to keep in full flame’.
caught Paul's vision...
Give me the love that leads the way,
The faith that nothing can dismay,
The hope no disappointments tire,
The passion that will burn like fire.
Let me not sink to be a clod;
Make me Thy fuel, Flame of
from the Plymouth Brethren)
Am I ignitable? God deliver me from
the dread asbestos of 'other things'. Saturate me with the oil of the
Spirit that I may be a flame.
Robert Murray M'Cheyne (who
died at age 30) said that
The oil of the lamp in the temple
burnt away in giving light; so should we.
Richard Baxter made a similar
What have we time and strength for,
but to lay out both for God? What is a candle made for, but to burn?
Spurgeon adds that...
God deserves to be served with all
the energy of which we are capable.
Samuel Chadwick said that
Men ablaze are invincible. Hell
trembles when men kindle.
General Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, once sent this
message to those under him
The tendency of fire is to go out; watch the fire on the altar of your
Anyone who has prepared
a campfire for warming or cooking is fully aware that the coals need to
be stirred up occasionally. As long as the coals are glowing, they can
be stirred up into a full blaze.
Gary Demarest rightly comments
every fire needs repeated stirring
and rearranging to keep it burning brightly. Here is a powerful insight
into a reason why so many Christians are more like smoldering ashes than
dancing fires. How do you rekindle the fire? Make some changes. Do some
rearranging. If your devotional life is dull, try some different
approaches. If your joy in Christ has cooled, try getting closer to
someone else to renew the flame. I find small groups that meet regularly
are the most helpful in shaking off the ashes of lethargy and self-pity.
Don’t be surprised or alarmed when the flames go down—just shake off
some ashes and get some new kindling!" (Briscoe,
D. S., & Ogilvie, L. J. The Preacher's Commentary Series, New
Testament. 2003; Thomas Nelson)
Albert Barnes writes that
anazopureo was originally used to denote...
"the kindling of a fire, as by
bellows, etc. It is not uncommon to compare piety to a flame or a fire,
and the image is one that is obvious when we speak of causing that to
burn more brightly. The idea is, that Timothy was to use all proper
means to keep the flame of pure religion in the soul burning, and more
particularly his zeal in the great cause to which he had been set apart.
The agency of man himself is needful to keep the religion of the heart
warm and glowing. However rich the gifts which God has bestowed upon us,
they do not grow of their own accord, but need to be cultivated by our
own personal care." (Albert Barnes' Notes on the Bible)
writes that in the present context anazopureo...
"suggests the possibility of decline
in the exercise of that which we have received spiritually from God. Not
that this was actually so in Timothy’s case, though there was doubtless
a natural shrinking from the full discharge of his responsibilities
owing to their difficult nature." (Vine,
W. Collected writings of W. E. Vine. Nashville: Thomas Nelson
Paul is saying in essence
"Timothy you can’t be passive and
expect the effects of your spiritual gift to just happen. Keep fanning
to flame the 'coal' which is already glowing. It's your responsibility to keep
rekindling your spiritual gift."
the apostle puts him in mind to "stir" it up: there is in the word (anazopureo) used a metaphor taken from coals of fire
covered with ashes, as if almost extinct, and need to be blown up into a
flame, and a very apt one it is; since the gifts of the Spirit,
especially his extraordinary ones, such as ministers in those times had,
are compared to fire...and these may be re-inflamed or increased, when
they seem on the decline, by reading, meditation, prayer, and the
frequent exercise of them." (John Gill's Exposition of the
Entire Bible) (Bolding added)
Guthrie adds that
"There is no necessary suggestion that Timothy had lost his early
fire, although undoubtedly, like every Christian, he needed an incentive
to keep the fire burning at full flame.”
that Paul's statement does not necessarily convey censure is that fire
in the ancient world was never kept at a continual blaze but rather kept
alive through glowing coals which were rekindled to a flame by a bellows
whenever the situation demanded flame. Paul's "flame" was almost ready
to go out, so Paul begins his exhortations in this letter with a general
one "FAN YOUR FLAME TIMOTHY!"
Get on fire for God
and men will come and see you burn.
Wiersbe writes that
did not need any new spiritual ingredients in his life; all he had to do
was “stir up” what he already had. Paul had written in his first letter,
“Neglect not the gift that is in thee” (1Timothy
4:14). Now he added,
“Stir up—stir into flame—the gift of God.” The Holy Spirit does not leave us when we fail (Jn 14:16); but He cannot fill us, empower us, and use us if we neglect our
spiritual lives." It is possible to "grieve the Holy Spirit of
God, by Whom you were sealed for the day of redemption" (Eph 4:30) and to "quench the Spirit" (1Th
W: Bible Exposition Commentary. 1989. Victor)
John Calvin wrote...
This exhortation is highly
necessary; for it usually happens, and may be said to be natural, that
the excellence of gifts produces carelessness, which is also accompanied
by sloth; and Satan continually labors to extinguish all that is of God
in us. We ought, therefore, on the other hand, to strive to bring to
perfection everything that is good in us, and to kindle what is languid;
for the metaphor, which Paul employs, is taken from a fire which was
feeble, or that was in course of being gradually extinguished, if
strength and fame were not added, by blowing upon it and by supplying
new fuel. Let us therefore remember that we ought to apply to use the
gifts of God, lest, being unemployed and concealed, they gather rust.
Let us also remember that we should diligently profit by them, lest they
be extinguished by our slothfulness." (2
Vance Havner once remarked
that we need...
"a ministry of exhortation, a
stirring ministry... Paul admonished Timothy to stir up the gift of God
within him. If ever God's people needed to be awakened and aroused and
shocked and alarmed into a sense of their holy privilege and solemn
duty, it is today.
It is not enough to be orthodox:
we must awaken to action. We have more apologists than
apostles. Too many fundamentalists are sound‑sound asleep!
Our theology needs to go up in doxology. We have the
facts but not the fire. If we had as much vitality as
we have had vocality, we would have set the world on fire long
ago. We have talked much farther along than we have walked.
We need to let our feet catch up with our tongues. We
defend the truth, but we do not demonstrate the truth. We
ponder it instead of proving it. We preach a dynamite
gospel and live firecracker lives." (Bolding added)
On another occasion Vance Havner
commented on stirring "up the gift of God"...
"Paul advises Timothy to kindle
the sacred flame within him.... There come times in our experiences when
the fires of God burn low and we must stir up the heavenly flame within
our hearts. Timothy was not exhorted to stir up himself. It is not our
fire but God's that we are to kindle.... It is stated in another verse:
"Neglect not the gift that is in thee which was given thee by the laying
on of the hands of the presbytery" (1Ti 4:14).
It was the gift of the Spirit for his peculiar ministry, the supreme
qualification for preaching and witnessing and service. And in
application it represents the fire of the Spirit in each and all of us
believers...If for any reason the fire has become coals, stir up the
gift of God! Keep aglow at any cost! No price is too great to pay to be
a "burning and shining light" for Him! Better go to lengths that may
seem absurd to others to keep the fire blazing!...We have a lot
of dear folk, today, who are either in a state of cholera morbus or St.
Virus's dance. The thing for us to do is to get going for God. Faith has
no value in itself unless it connects you with God. The Bible is
constantly trying to wake us up. "Stir up the gift of God." "Break up
your fallow ground." "Gird up the loins of your mind." We need to take
ourselves by the nape of the neck and make ourselves do the thing we
know we ought to do, whether we feel like it or not.
A lot of dear people are waiting for a lovely feeling. You have a Bible
there; read it. Pray whether you feel like it or not. Go to God's house
to pray. March yourself to the place where prayer is wont to be made.
Get one foot in front of the other and walk down that church aisle and
do the thing you ought to do. "There is none that stirreth up himself to
take hold of God." These things in the church today hinder the
visitation of God. Our sinfulness, our self‑righteousness and our
sluggishness hinder the ministry of the Spirit. Whatever your trouble
is, apply the means of grace and do something about it. God will visit
you. He will do it again!"
Finally Vance Havner summed up
Paul's exhortation to Timothy...
We must stir up the gift of God
within us, that we may be burning and shining lights. But it is the
dynamic of the Spirit, not human enthusiasm‑old Adam worked up to a high
pitch. Stir carries the idea of kindling the flame‑doctrine
that we may believe, discipline that we may behave, dynamic
that we may burn! That is the true New Testament Timothy, believing,
must be used if they are to reach and maintain their full potential. Are
you using your spiritual gift? Do you even know what your spiritual gift
here for chart summarizing "Spiritual
Gifts". Also you might consider
taking the Precept course on Spiritual Gifts -
to download lesson 1)
F B Meyer writes that...
MOST YOUNG people are fond of
athletics, and the Roman and Greek youth were specially addicted to
them. The Divine Spirit does not under-value any of these means for
keeping our physical health vigorous. But if we pay such earnest
attention to these things we ought, all the more, to give attention to
godliness, which disciplines the soul for Eternal Life. We all know what
it is to discover and bring into play certain muscles of the body which
we had not previously used. Are we equally keen to discover the hidden
properties and resources of the soul and spirit?
Timothy was gifted in various ways, but specially for public ministry;
and in this Epistle and the next, the Apostle bids him stir it up, i.e.
stir into flame (marg.). The fire may be well provided with coal, the
heat and light may be present, but the poker needs to be used to let in
the air. We may have gifts, but we must carefully practise the duties in
which they can be used for the benefit of others. It becomes us all to
give ourselves to the duties which lie immediately to our hands, not
shirking or scamping them. We must not give part of our thought and care
to our appointed tasks, but give our whole selves. What our hands find
to do must be done with our might. Just as men build arches of brick
over slight structures of wood, and when these are taken away the
substantial Material remains, so on the passing duties of an hour we are
building up habits and character which will live for ever. What we do is
comparatively unimportant, but how we do what we do is all-important. We
must always be on guard, always on the alert, for we have in our hands
the interests of others as well as our own (1Ti 4:16).
The grace of God can so reveal itself in a young man or girl, that he or
she will become an example in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity
PRAYER - Prosper us, O God, we pray Thee, in all that we put our
hands unto. May our hearts be filled with Thy love, our lips with
gentle, helpful words, and our hands with kind, unselfish deeds. May Thy
Holy Spirit in all things direct and rule our hearts. AMEN. (F B Meyer.
Our Daily Walk)
MacDonald adds that Timothy
should not become discouraged by the general failure around him. Neither
should he become professional in his service for the Lord and lapse into
a comfortable routine. Rather, he should be concerned to use his gift
more and more as the days grow darker and darker. (MacDonald,
W., & Farstad, A. Believer's Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments.
Nashville: Thomas Nelson)
Christians in America live
in discouraging times when many in the so-called "church" have chosen to
compromise truth for the sake of "unity", watering down the message of
the Cross so as to make it less offensive and more seeker friendly. And
although we are not (yet) being physically persecuted for our
faith in America, we do see Biblical Christianity being attacked on
virtually every front. The challenge for all "Timothys" and "Timotheas"
is to keep the embers of our heart stoked to full blaze, so that we
might be ready and able to resist the pressure to compromise truth and
ready and willing to persevere to the end enduring hardship for the sake
of the gospel, lest future generations be denied vital sound doctrine
found only in the "Word of Truth". Every saint's prayer should be
"Lord, find us faithful."
Spirit of God, Descend upon My Heart
Teach me to love Thee as
Thine angels love,
One holy passion filling all my frame;
The kindling of the heaven descended Dove,
My heart an altar, and Thy love the flame.
-- George Croly, 1854 (Play)
J. Oswald Sanders reminds the disciples of Jesus Christ that
The wick exists only to be consumed.
If it survives, it has failed of its purpose. There is no such thing as
costless spiritual service. As we minister to others, virtue will go out
of us. Ours is the privilege of offering ourselves as fuel for the flame
THE GIFT OF GOD WHICH IS IN YOU: to charisma tou theou ho estin (3SPAI)
en soi: (2 Ti 4:2; Exodus 35:26; 36:2; Matthew 25:15-30; Luke
19:13; Romans 12:6-8; 1Thessalonians 5:19
1 Peter 4:10,11)
Matthew Henry comments that in
this section Paul...
exhorts Timothy to stir up the gift
of God that was in him. Stir it up as fire under the embers. It is meant
of all the gifts and graces the God had given him, to qualify him for
the work of an evangelist, the gifts of the Holy Ghost, the
extraordinary gifts that were conferred by the imposition of the
apostle's hands. These he must stir up; he must exercise them and so
increase them: use gifts and have gifts.
To him that hath shall be given,
Mt. 25:29. He must take all opportunities to use these gifts, and so
stir them up, for that is the best way of increasing them. Whether the
gift of God in Timothy was ordinary or extraordinary (though I incline
to the latter), he must stir it up, otherwise it would decay... The
great hindrance of usefulness in the increase of our gifts is slavish
from charis = grace, English = "charismatic")
(Click study of
a gift of grace (the result of grace), an undeserved benefit.
The suffix –ma,
indicates the result of grace and refers to that which is freely and
graciously given. (For summary chart of
Spurgeon's sermon on 2 Ti 1:6 "Our
Gifts and How to Use Them")
At salvation, each Christian’s grace gifts are
bestowed on him or her uniquely to equip each to serve God in the specific area
or areas of ministry to which they have been called. The grace gifts are
divine enablement for effective service of the Lord.
God sovereignly bestows (1Cor
12:11) these supernatural enablements
on/in believers according to His own divine will, totally apart from any
personal merit, qualification, or seeking. (see notes
1 Peter 4:10,
Piper on 1Peter 4:10-11)
In the first epistle to Timothy Paul had written ,
command to stop an action that may be in progress)
the spiritual gift (charisma)
bestowed on you
utterance with the
laying on of
hands by the
presbytery. (1Ti 4:14).
Dwight Edwards adds that...
This spiritual gift also insured
Timothy (as ours does us) that he was a vitally significant individual.
For residing within him (and us) was a God-given ability which, when
ignited by the Holy Spirit, could burst forth in a holy blaze, kindling
other lives around him with the same holy fire. And Paul wanted Timothy
(and us) to never recover from the force of this great truth. (See
2 Timothy: "Call to Completion")
LAYING ON OF MY HANDS: dia tes epitheseos ton cheiron mou:
Spurgeon quips that...
empty hands, it seems to me, are
fitly laid on empty heads—and to submit to an empty ceremony is the most
idle of all idle waste of time! (Our
Gifts and How to Use Them)
(epithesis from epí = upon or besides+
títhemi = to put ) means superimposing of something on something
else or a placing or laying upon, as of hands.
was a grace gift (charisma) from God not because of Paul's laying on of
his hands. Putting hands on served as recognition that Timothy had a
gift. Timothy's responsibility was to keep rekindling his spiritual
Epithesis is used 4 times in the NT...
Acts 8:18 Now when Simon saw
that the Spirit was bestowed through the laying on of the
apostles' hands, he offered them money (Comment: Here the laying
on of hands by the apostles was accompanied by the impartation of the
Holy Spirit in [as Vine phrases it] "in outward demonstration, in the
cases of those in Samaria who had believed. such supernatural
manifestations were signs especially intended to give witness to Jews as
to the facts of Christ and the faith, they were thus temporary; there is
no record of their continuance after the time and circumstances narrated
in Acts 19 -
Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary
of Old and New Testament Words)
1 Timothy 4:14 Do not neglect
the spiritual gift within you, which was bestowed upon you through
prophetic utterance with the laying on of hands by the
presbytery. (Comment: Vine writes that this represents the
act "by the elders of a church on occasions when a member of a church
was set apart for a particular work, having given evidence of
qualifications necessary for it, as in the case of Timothy" -
2 Timothy 1:6 And for this
reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you
through the laying on of my hands.
Hebrews 6:2 (note)
of instruction about washings, and laying on of hands, and
the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.
It is interesting to note that root verb epitithemai
is frequently used in the Greek translation of the Hebrew OT
- LXX) to describe the laying of one's hands on the
substitutionary sacrifice (eg see
John MacArthur comments that
the laying on of hands...
may mean that Paul laid his hands on
Timothy at the time of his conversion, which corresponded to the time of
receiving his unique spiritual giftedness. Or it may mean that Timothy’s
spiritual endowment was extraordinary, being received, or perhaps
enhanced at a later time, through the… hands of the apostle, as well as
through “the laying on of hands by the presbytery” (1 Tim. 4:14),
and “in accordance with the prophecies previously made concerning you”
(1 Tim. 1:18). But Paul’s basic admonition to Timothy, and to every
believer, remains unchanged. Divine giftedness is to be continually
rekindled, fanned into flame, in order that Christ may fully work out
His will for us and through us. The very fact that we have giftedness
from God demands its full and constant use. And the fact that every
believer has a divinely bestowed gift means that every believer has a
divinely equipped ministry. (MacArthur,
J. 2 Timothy. Chicago: Moody Press
><> ><> ><>
Just Be Yourself (READ: Ephesians 4:1-16)
Stir up the gift of God which is in you. —2 Timothy 1:6 -- Some
Christian groups exert pressure on their members to talk, act, or look
alike. This must frustrate the people who are judged for not conforming.
In trying to make them "fit," the group may be stifling their strongest
and best gifts.
Here's a parable that illustrates the point: A rural village was located
in an area inhabited by parrots. One day a falcon landed on a
windowsill. The owner of the house caught it. The villagers had never
seen such a bird. They decided to trim back its feathers, cut its
talons, and file down its beak so it would be like the birds they were
As followers of Christ, we are to imitate Him (1 Corinthians 11:1; 1
John 2:6). If we become more like Him, does that mean we all will begin
to act alike? Yes and no. Yes, in that our behavior toward others and
reactions to circumstances will increasingly become like those of Jesus.
No, in that we are each given unique gifts and interests and abilities
to develop and use for His glory (see note
Let's not be guilty of stifling our fellow Christians. Instead, let's
allow for differences. God has made them unique and gifted them to
fulfill His purposes. It's a shame to turn a falcon into a parrot.
—David C. Egner (Our
Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by
permission. All rights reserved)
God builds His church with different
He makes each one belong;
All shapes and sizes fit in place
To make the structure strong. —Sper
All Christians have the same employer—
they just have different jobs.
Let C H Spurgeon's prayer for
his congregation be also a prayer for our good and God's glory...
God grant you may live as if you
expected to die! We ought always to preach as though we should go out of
the pulpit into Heaven and we should always to pray in that way. And we
should always spend every day as if we had not another day to spend. For
this we need much of the Holy Spirit’s power. And He rests upon His
people! May He come and rest upon us, now, for Jesus Christ’s sake.
Vance Havner...THERE ARE SO
MANY THINGS THAT CAN SMOTHER THE FIRE.
1. Wilful sin will do it.
Our Lord told us that the candle of testimony may be smothered by the
bushel or the bed. The bushel stands for money making, the cares of
business, the temporal concerns of this fife. The bed stands for luxury,
ease, worldly pleasure, the sloth that so enervates the soul.
2. Neglect will smother the fire.
Let the fire alone and it will bum low and the ashes will gather. If we
neglect the means of grace, prayer, the Word, and holy exercise, we
shall soon need a stirring.
3. Then, too, others can quench the Spirit and smother our fire.
"Stir Up the Gift of God"
If [the Christian] allows it, men will tone him down, steal the joy of
his salvation, and reduce him to the dreary level of the general
average. If the devil cannot keep us from being saved, he next endeavors
to make average Christians of us, and in this he usually succeeds....
The devil does not mind our joining church if we behave like most of
those who are already inside. But when a real, wide awake Christian
breezes along, taking the Gospel seriously, the devil grows alarmed and
begins plotting his downfall.
4. Certainly, fear can choke the fire.
Paul says to Timothy in the very word next to the passage we are
considering, "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power
and of love and of a sound mind. " The man who hid his talent said, "I
was afraid." The fires that fear has smothered fear of the past or
present or future, fear of others, of failure, of sickness, of death!
Whatever fear you may have, it is not of God, for He hath not given us
such a spirit.
Let us remember that stirring up the gift of God is our business. God
will not do it for us. We must rouse ourselves from our lethargy and get
down to business in prayer and feeding upon the Word and holy exercise.
It is related that in Scotland years ago, before the day of matches, the
fires had gone out throughout a community. The people set out looking
for someone who had a fire. At last, far up on a hillside, they found a
humble home where the hearthstone glowed with cheery flame. Soon they
were carrying coals here and there to replenish their own blackened
fireplaces. Today there are weary hearts, discouraged souls, needy
churches looking for a soul with a fire, someone who has kept aglow in
spite of the world, the flesh and the devil.
Pastor Steven Cole has an
excellent sermon on 2Timothy 1:1-5 entitled
Foundation for Faithful
Imagine that we are at a marathon
race. Many contestants are lined up at the starting point, but one
especially catches your eye. He’s in his sixties, but he looks much
older. You can tell that his body has endured many hardships. The
thought flits through your mind that the old guy could die on the
course. You wonder, “Why is he even in the race?”
But as the race gets underway, you’re amazed that the old man holds his
own. In fact, he even pulls in front of the pack. And to your utter
astonishment, as you stand at the finish line, you see him sprinting far
ahead of his competitors. As he comes across the line, you expect him to
collapse in a heap. But, instead, he turns and trots back to an earlier
point in the course where a younger man in his late thirties seems to be
losing steam. The older man jogs along-side the younger man, saying,
“Come on, you can make it! Hang in there! Don’t quit!”
If that really happened, I would want to know, “What does this old guy
have that I lack?” If I heard that he was going to speak on his training
secrets, I’d show up and take notes. Clearly, the old man knows
something about endurance. He is an example of how to finish well.
I didn’t make up that story. It really happened, but in the spiritual
race, not in an actual marathon. We read about it in Paul’s second
letter to Timothy. The apostle was in his sixties, but his body bore the
marks of much suffering. He was in a cold, damp dungeon in Rome, about
A.D. 67, awaiting execution at the hands of the cruel madman, Nero.
There were numerous reasons that he could have been discouraged. In 2Ti
he writes, “all who are in Asia turned away from me.” In 2Ti 4:10-note,
he mentions Demas, whom he had formerly called a “fellow worker”
(Philemon 24). But now he had deserted Paul, “having loved this present
world.” In 2Ti 4:14-note,
he warns Timothy about Alexander the coppersmith, who did Paul much
harm. Perhaps he had been responsible for Paul’s arrest and
imprisonment. In 2Ti 4:16-note,
he pathetically writes, “At my first defense no one sup-ported me, but
all deserted me.” Only Luke was with him (2Ti 4:11-note).
Not only that, but as the aged apostle awaited execution, he saw many
serious errors infiltrating the churches. Hymenaeus and Philetus had
gone astray from the truth, teaching that the resurrection had already
taken place, thus upsetting the faith of some (2Ti 2:17, 18-note).
Other ungodly false teachers were entering households and captivating
weak women weighed down with sins (2Ti 3:6-note).
Paul knew that the day was soon coming when professing Christians would
not endure sound doctrine, but would pile up teachers in accordance with
their own desires to tickle their ears, turning from the truth to myths
(2Ti 4:3, 4-note).
Bishop Moule said that, humanly speaking, Christianity trembled on the
verge of annihilation (Studies in I Timothy [Kregel], p. 18).
If there was ever a prime candidate for discouragement, Paul was it! Who
could have blamed him if he had said, “I’ve had enough! I’ve given this
thing more than my fair share of effort! I’m going to retire!” We would
expect him to be a bitter, pessimistic, discouraged old man, his hopes
and dreams shattered by overwhelming disappointments and setbacks. And
yet we find him sprinting across the finish line and then jogging back
to Timothy, who is pooping out, saying, “Come on, Timothy, keep going!
Be strong! You can make it! Don’t quit!” When this guy speaks about
endurance in the Christian life, I want to listen!
We live in a culture where pastors are bailing out of the ministry in
droves. A newsletter in 2003 reported that 1,500 pastors leave the
ministry each month due to moral failure, spiritual burn-out, or
contention in their churches. It said that 70 percent of pastors
constantly fight depression. Fifty percent are so discouraged that they
would leave the ministry if they could, but they have no other way of
making a living.
Not only pastors, but also many Christians, have burned out in serving
the Lord. They have been wounded by criticism or conflict in the church.
Some drop out of church entirely. Others attend occasionally, but that’s
all that they do. They don’t want to risk getting hurt again. So they
don’t get involved in serving the Lord.
I suggest that any discouraged pastors and Christians need a good dose
of 2 Timothy. It’s a very personal letter, Paul’s last, written to his
beloved son in the faith, who was timid by nature. He probably felt
inadequate for the tasks facing him. The problems were overwhelming. It
looked as if Paul was about to be executed, and the mantle would fall on
Timothy. William Hendriksen (New Testament Commentary, I-II Timothy &
Titus Baker], p. 218) nicely sums up the dominant theme of the book,
“Timothy, do not be ashamed, but by God’s grace exert yourself to the
utmost, being willing to endure your share of hardship in preserving and
promoting sound doctrine.” We can sum up each chapter as follows:
Chapter 1: Unashamed as a witness:
Guard the gospel!
Chapter 2: Unashamed as a workman: Suffer in godliness for the gospel!
Chapter 3: Adequate as a workman: Continue in the gospel!
Chapter 4: Awarded as a workman:
Preach the gospel!
In Paul’s opening greeting and in his
expression of thanks to God for Timothy (2Ti 1:1, 2, 3, 4, 5), we see
the foundation for a lifetime of faithful ministry. When I say ministry,
I’m not referring only to those who are called into so-called full time
ministry. Paul himself would not qualify, since he often had to work to
support himself in ministry. Rather, I’m referring to the biblical truth
that every Christian is saved to minister according to his or her gifts.
If you’re a Christian, you were saved to serve, as we will see more next
week. So you need to lay a solid foundation so that you will not burn
out or drop out of the race.
A firm foundation for faithful ministry rests on knowing God’s call on
your life through the gospel.
Our text makes three points about this gospel foundation:
1. The gospel brings us into a personal relationship with the Father
through faith in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Paul begins (2Ti 1:1, 2), “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will
of God, according to the promise of life in Christ Jesus, to Timothy, my
beloved son: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus
our Lord.” In 2Ti 1:5-note, he also mentions the sincere faith that he is
sure dwells in Timothy. These words reveal three vital truths about the
A. The gospel gives us the promise of life in Christ Jesus.
Paul was facing death, but he was focused on the promise of life in
Christ Jesus (see also, 2Ti 1:10-note).
Christianity is not primarily a matter of religious rituals or a moral
code to live by, although it does give us God’s moral standards. Rather,
Christianity is a matter of experiencing new life in Christ Jesus. By
nature and by our many sins, we all were spiritually dead (Ep 2:1-note).
Dead men do not need in the first place to hear about a better moral
code to live by. They need life! They need God to raise them from
spiritual death to spiritual life.
The eternal life that God gives centers on knowing Him personally
through His Son. Jesus said (Jn 17:3), “And this is eternal life, that
they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have
sent.” Or, as 1Jn 5:11, 12 puts it,
“And the testimony is this, that God
has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the
Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the
Paul says that this life is a
promise. God is the Promiser. Paul mentions God three times in the first
three verses. The promise is as reliable and secure as God is faithful.
If God promises new life in Christ Jesus, then we can count on it, even
when we’re in a dungeon facing an unjust execution, when former friends
have deserted us and spread falsehoods about us.
This promise of life comes to us in Christ Jesus, whom Paul also
mentions three times in 2Ti 1:1,2. The other New Testament writers
always use the order, Jesus Christ. But Paul, especially in his later
writings, often writes, Christ Jesus. Bishop Moule (p. 30) suggests that
this order breathes a certain feeling of worship and intimate affection
towards the Lord. It emphasizes His office as the Anointed One (=
Christ, Messiah), embodied in the human Jesus, who revealed the Father
to us. The mention of Christ Jesus our Lord in conjunction with God the
Father, as the source of grace, mercy, and peace, is a strong
affirmation of the deity of Christ. Clearly, for Paul, Christ Jesus was
central. He is the gospel. To know Him is to have eternal life. Paul the
persecutor had become Paul the apostle because God had intervened in his
life, giving him eternal life according to the promise in Christ Jesus.
B. This life comes to us by God’s will through sincere faith.
Paul’s conversion and his calling as an apostle both happened at the
same time. When God struck down Paul on the Damascus Road, He told
Ananias, whom He sent to restore Paul’s sight (Acts 9:15), “Go, for he
is a chosen instrument of Mine….” Paul’s salvation and his calling as an
apostle were not by his human choice, but rather, by God’s will and
choice. Of course, salvation is received by faith. But the reason we
believe in Christ is that before the foundation of the world, God willed
to save us.
I’m not making this up! Read Ephesians and you will see it clearly. Paul
says (Eph 1:4-note), “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world.”
He adds (2Ti 1:5-note),
“In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to
Himself, according to the kind intention of His will.” He repeats (Ep
“also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according
to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will.” Or
(Ep 2:8, 9-note),
“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of
yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no
one may boast.”
Paul recalls (2Ti 1:5-note)
the “sincere faith” within Timothy, which first dwelt in his grandmother
Lois and in his mother Eunice. Timothy’s father was probably not a
believer, but God used his godly grandmother and mother as links in the
chain that led to Timothy’s salvation. They taught him the Scriptures
but then God used Paul’s preaching to bring Timothy to saving faith.
“Sincere” means, “unhypocritical.” There is such a thing as hypocritical
or false faith, but Paul was convinced that Timothy’s faith was the real
thing. It had to be Timothy's faith, not the faith of his grandmother or
mother. God may use godly parents or grand-parents to bring us to faith
in Christ, but no one gets saved apart from sincere personal faith in
By the way, these words should encourage any mothers who may be trying
to raise your children without the help of a believing husband. Even
though God’s best is to have a godly father and mother training their
children in the Lord, His grace and power can work in imperfect
situations. Train your children in the Lord and pray for the influence
of a godly man, who could take your sons further in the Lord, as Paul
did with Timothy.
C. The gospel brings us the benefits of God’s grace, mercy, and
We saw these three qualities in our recent study of 2 John. In Paul’s
writings, this threefold blessing occurs only in 1 & 2 Timothy (the
addition of “mercy” in Titus 1:4 lacks solid manuscript support). Why
did Paul add “mercy” in his letters to Timothy? I think it was because
as he drew near to the end of his life and ministry, Paul was ever more
aware of the reality of God’s mercy to him, the sinner (1Ti 1:13, 14,
God’s grace is His undeserved favor to those who deserve His wrath. His
mercy is His compassion to those who are in misery be-cause of their
sin. His peace is the result of being reconciled to Him because of His
grace and mercy. These blessings come to us freely from God the Father
who sent His Son, Christ Jesus our Lord, to die for our sins.
Ask yourself, “Have I experienced new life in Christ according to God’s
promise? Do I know personally God’s grace, mercy, and peace? Because of
God’s sovereign will, do I now personally have sincere faith in Christ
Jesus?” If you can answer yes, then you have a foundation for serving
Him, no matter what trials it may bring into your life. You are not your
own. “For you have been bought with a price” (1Cor 6:20). God’s call on
your life through the gospel is the foundation for a life of faithful
2. The gospel brings us into close, life-changing relation-ships with
This opening greeting oozes with Paul’s deep feelings of love for
Timothy, whom he calls “my beloved son.” He constantly remembered him in
his prayers and he longed for the joy of seeing him, even as he recalled
Timothy’s tears on their last parting (2Ti 1:3, 4-note).
We don’t know whether Timothy got to Paul’s cell before the sword fell.
Beyond Timothy, this short letter mentions many others that Paul knew
and loved. There were Onesiphorus and his household (2Ti 1:16, 17-note), Crescens,
Titus, Luke, Mark, Tychicus, Carpus (2Ti 4:10, 11, 12, 13-note), Prisca,
Aquila, Erastus, Trophimus, Eubulus, Pudens, Linus, Claudia, and all the
brethren (2Ti 4:19, 20, 21-note).
Paul was not a lone ranger Christian! Each of these dear brothers and
sisters in Christ meant something to Paul. The relationships that they
shared had changed them all.
Often when I counsel with someone who is struggling with a personal
problem or a difficult sin, I ask, “Do you know any other brothers in
Christ who could meet with you each week and help you in the things of
the Lord?” Sadly, the answer is often, “No.” That’s not right! The
Christian life is not just you and God. It is you and God and God’s
people. You may be thinking, “It’s God’s people who are my problem!”
That may be so. In fact, Paul mentions many people in this letter who
had caused him grief (2Ti 1:15-note;
2Ti 3:6, 7, 8, 9, 11-note,
But it’s only as you remain committed to God’s people in a local church
and work through your problems in accordance with His Word, that you
will grow as a Christian and have a foundation for serving Him. Try to
look for both a Paul and a Timothy in your life. Ask God for an older
man (or, a woman for women) who can be a friend and an example of godly
maturity in your life. And, look for a younger man (or, a younger woman
for women) that you can help to grow in Christ. These relationships that
we form through the gospel should cause us to thank God and to pray
continually for one another (2Ti 1:3-note).
So, the gospel brings us into a personal relationship with the Father
through faith in Christ Jesus our Lord. It also brings us into close,
life-changing relationships with others. Finally,
3. The gospel brings us into a life of service according to God’s
will and gifts.
Paul was called to be an apostle by the will of God. None of us are
apostles, but each of us has received a spiritual gift that God expects
us to use to serve Him in some capacity (1Pet. 4:10, 11-note).
There should be no benchwarmer Christians. As Paul teaches in 1
Corinthians 12, there aren’t any spare parts in the body. He wasn’t
talking about a “spare tire,” of course! But except for that, we need
every part of our bodies to function.
But, why does Paul emphasize his apostleship in a letter to Timothy, who
knew full well that Paul was an apostle? Some suggest that it was
because Paul intended for these pastoral letters to be read more widely,
and he wanted all of his readers to be reminded of his divine
appointment as apostle. Many were attacking Paul, saying that a true
apostle would not be imprisoned. Paul wanted Timothy and others to
recall the dramatic story of how God had appointed him to this office of
He also was emphasizing to Timothy that he had not volunteered for the
job. Rather, he had been drafted! Timothy was faltering in the race.
Maybe he was thinking, as every pastor has, “I’ll bet there is an easier
line of work to get into! Maybe I should consider a career change.” Once
in California I had been going through a difficult time, receiving a lot
of criticism. Marla and I were driving somewhere and were stopped by a
flagman for road work. I sat there watching a guy driving an earth-mover
and thought, “That looks like a nice line of work to get into! You go to
work, drive your machine, go home at night, and nobody criticizes you.
Maybe I should look into that!”
But Paul says, “I am an apostle by the will of God.” I’m not in this
line of work because I went to a guidance counselor who said, “Your
aptitude tests show that you’d make a good apostle.” It wasn’t my career
of choice. Rather, it was the will of God.
Why does Paul mention serving God with a clear conscience the way his
forefathers did? Paul was about to lose his head for the faith. At such
times it’s important to remember that you’re dying for the faith of
Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, Elijah, and all of the other
faithful men of God in history. You’ve been handed the torch and you’ve
got to carry it faithfully and hand it off to those who come after you.
Also, both Nero and the Jews were persecuting Christianity as a new
cult. Paul is saying, in effect, “This is not a new cult. This is the
culmination and fulfillment of God’s promises to the Jewish fathers.
They looked forward to the promised Messiah. Christ Jesus is the
promised Messiah, in whom we also believe.” So Paul was making the point
that he was in the mainstream of the history of God’s purposes as
revealed in the Old Testament, but now fulfilled in Christ.
If you’re feeling like dropping out of the race, read about the heritage
of godly men in the Bible and in church history. They have persevered
through incredible trials, disappointments, loss of loved ones,
persecution, and martyrdom. As I’ve said before, I’ve learned more by
reading Christian biographies than from any other source, except for the
Bible itself (which also has many biographies).
Paul mentions serving God with a clear conscience. “Serve” means to
serve as an act of worship. “Clear” is literally, “cleansed.” It does
not imply perfection, but it does imply walking in reality before God,
confessing your sins to Him and to those you have wronged, so that you
don’t fall into hypocrisy. Paul knew that God examines the heart (1Thess.
and so he lived to please God on the heart level (2Co 5:9). He knew that
soon he would be standing before God, to give an account of his
ministry. So will each of us.
Are you running in the race, serving God in accordance with the gifts He
has bestowed on you? You may say, “I’m retired. I’ve already put in my
time.” But there’s nothing in the Bible about re-tiring from serving
God. Paul was an old man in jail, but he says, “God, whom I serve”
(present tense). God doesn’t have a retirement program!
You say, “I don’t feel qualified to serve.” Neither did Timothy. He was
in over his head. So was Paul. He exclaimed, “Who is adequate for these
things?” (2Co 2:16). You think, “But I’m not in the best of health.”
Neither was Timothy. He had frequent stomach and other ailments (1Ti
5:23). “But I’m shy and introverted. I don’t have the personality to
lead.” Neither did Timothy. “But I tried serving and people criticized
me.” Yes, talk to Paul. Here’s this old geezer, sprinting across the
finish line, and then he comes back to you as you’re ready to drop out
of the race. He says, “If God has called you through the gospel and
given you new life in Christ, then you’ve got to hang in there. Don’t
drop out! Keep going! Eternity is just ahead. Then you can rest.” (2Timothy 1:1-5
Foundation for Faithful Ministry)