Thursday, March 23, 2023

2023.03.23 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Timothy 1:1–2

Read 2 Timothy 1:1–2

Questions from the Scripture text: Who wrote this letter (2 Timothy 1:1)? What is his office? Whose sent-one is he? By Whose will? In accord with what does that will operate? In Whom is this promised life? To whom is this letter written (2 Timothy 1:2)? How does Paul see him? What three things does the apostle declare to him in blessing? From what two persons do these three come? 

Who were Paul and Timothy to one another, and how does that factor into Paul’s charge that Timothy persevere in the ministry of the gospel? 2 Timothy 1:1–2 looks forward to the second reading in morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these two verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that the apostolic foundation of a persevering ministry takes us back to Christ Himself in the gospel, because He is our life, He is our comfort, and He is our contentment.

A Love-Letter from Christ Himself. In this letter, Paul is going to urge his beloved Timothy to persist in ministering the gospel to others, as he persists in clinging to the gospel himself. So, in 2 Timothy 1:1, he reminds Timothy that as much as they know and love each other as father and son in the faith, this letter comes from an even more compelling source: Jesus Christ Himself. 

Paul is writing as an apostle of Jesus Christ. That is to say that he writes as an emissary or ambassador of Jesus. This is something that Jesus has commissioned Paul to do not only as Man but God. From before the world began, “the will of God” has intended for Paul to have this responsibility because “the will of God” has planned to give “life in Christ Jesus.” And this life has now been secured by Jesus’s death and continues to be applied by Jesus’s use of His gospel. 

From all eternity, within the Godhead of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the second person of the Trinity has been the beloved Son. God’s plan of redemption has been not only to save sinful creatures, but to do so in the beloved Son, and adopting them as beloved children (cf. Ephesians 1:5, Ephesians 5:1). Timothy is “a beloved son,” but not just of Paul. For “God the Father” is the original Father, and His promise is “in Christ Jesus.”

So, there is something of the reflection of Christ’s own love in Paul’s love for Timothy. He writes to him as “a beloved son.” “Brother,” “sister,” etc., are not only titles but remind us of the respect and affection that those who have Christ in common should have with one another (cf. 1 Timothy 5:1–2).

Whenever we read the Bible or hear it taught or preached, let us remember the origin of its love and truth. The one writing to us or teaching us may be ever so dear, and may hold us ever so dear, but it is a much greater thing that it comes ultimately from Christ. It is a means by which He gives Himself to us.

Christ our life. And, of course, Christ gives Himself to us to be our life. This was the plan—to give us life. And when God announces the plan to us, it becomes a promise—“the promise of life.” God has intended to give life to sinners, and now God promises that life to sinners. But this life does not come to all. It comes to specific people, because it comes in a specific way: “in Christ Jesus.” It comes by “grace” (2 Timothy 1:2). This sets it over-against merit. We cannot earn this life. It is given as a gift of grace. We cannot develop this life. It must come as God’s gracious work. Christ has life in Himself, and only those who rest only upon Him have that life. We must have “grace” from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

Christ our comfort. The second thing with which the apostle greets his beloved son in the ministry is “mercy.” Mercy is a gentle kindness to those who are in trouble or need. The letter will remind Timothy that the Christian life is hard, and the Christian ministry is hard. But the hardship has a solution. Mercy that is divinely powerful, because it comes from God; it comes from the Lord. Mercy that is intimately personal because it comes from “the Father” and “our” Lord.

Christ our contentment. Finally, the apostle greets his beloved son in the ministry with “peace.” This is the awareness or consciousness that God is for us. Our guilt has been eliminated. We no longer live with the awareness that we are under wrath. Instead, we live with this constant awareness that God is for us. Our troubles are not troublesome, because we have peace. Christ, our God, is our life, our comfort, and our contentment.

Who on earth, that loves you, has read or taught the Bible to you? Who in heaven, Who loves you, has given you the Bible? How, then, should you receive the Word in private worship? How should you receive it in family worship or public worship? In what ways have you been trying to earn life, rather than receiving it by grace? In what troubles do you need to receive and know God’s mercy? When have you most needed to come to peace with God or be aware of that peace?

Sample prayer:  God, You are our Father, Who has willed to adopt us as beloved children in the beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Forgive us for how we have found it so much easier to know the love of mere men like Paul than to know the love of the God-Man, our Lord Jesus Christ. Forgive us for when we have received the Holy Bible as if it were just the words of men, rather than Your own personally addressing us. Forgive us for when we have tried to feel better about our standing with You by what we do, rather than by Your grace. Forgive us for when we have forgotten Your mercy to us in our troubles. Forgive us for when we have sought peace anywhere than from You, in our Lord Jesus Christ, in Whose Name we ask these things, AMEN!

ARP23B “The Lord’s My Shepherd” or TPH492 “How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds”

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