How would you feel about following in the footsteps of one who was imprisoned for what he believed? A little intimidated, perhaps? Maybe a little hesitant, especially when the one in prison says, “Join me”? Let’s see how Paul encourages Timothy to have courage to follow the call of God upon his life. We’ll be using some notes from the Bible Knowledge Commentary to help us in this pursuit.

Call to Courage: Not Ashamed of Paul or Testifying of Jesus

So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God.

2 Timothy 1:8

If Timothy’s ministry were marked by power, love, and self-discipline, he would be able to stand tall against his opponents, and would not be ashamed to testify about our Lord (cf. 1 Cor. 1:6), or ashamed of Paul His prisoner. Though Paul was held in a Roman prison (cf. 2 Tim. 1:16; 2:9), yet he called himself Christ’s prisoner — that is, a prisoner for Christ’s sake and purpose (cf. Eph. 3:1; Phil. 1:12-14; Phile. 1, 9). With this reminder of his own condition, which was far graver than Timothy’s, Paul exhorted Timothy to join courageously with him in suffering for the gospel (cf. 2 Tim. 2:3), for it is just such circumstances that manifest the power of God (cf. 2 Cor. 12:9-10).

Courage Derived from the Power of the Gospel

He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.

2 Timothy 1:9-10

Having mentioned the gospel, Paul spelled out some of its most important details. God saved us and called us to a holy life. This is an accomplished fact, not something yet to come. Timothy could therefore count on God’s power in his daily ministry. Moreover, this salvation had nothing to do with a believer’s merits but was purely because of His own purpose (prothesin; cf. Rom. 8:28; 9:11; Eph. 1:11; 3:11) and grace (cf. 1 Tim. 1:14). This is the very core of the gospel (cf. Eph. 2:8-10).

Before the beginning of time Christians were granted this unmerited favor, but were only made aware of it through the appearing (epiphaneias; 2 Thes. 2:8; 1 Tim. 6:14; 2 Tim. 4:1, 8; Titus 2:13) of our Savior, Christ Jesus. Here and in Titus 1:4; 2:13; and 3:6 Christ is called Savior; in 1 Timothy 1:1; 2:3; 4:10; Titus 2:10; and 3:4 God is titled Savior (cf. 2 Peter 1:1 with 3:18). Clearly both are in different senses true. Christ the Son embodied God the Father’s saving purpose and plan, by which death, the product of sin (cf. Gen. 2:17; Rom. 5:12; 6:23), would be destroyed (1 Cor. 15:26), and life and immortality (lit., “incorruptibility”; cf. 1 Peter 1:4) would be brought into view.

Suffering but Not Ashamed

And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day.

2 Timothy 1:11-12

Little wonder that Paul called this gospel “glorious” (1 Tim. 1:11). It is the most important message ever. Jesus appointed Paul to serve as a herald and an apostle and a teacher of this message (cf. 1 Tim. 2:7), three roles which merely reflect different facets of the stewardship entrusted to him (1 Tim. 1:11).

Carrying out his stewardship had brought Paul much suffering, including his present imprisonment. In the eyes of the world he was a common criminal (cf. 2 Tim. 2:9). Yet he was able to say, I am not ashamed. He was trusting his own destiny to the same One who had entrusted him with the stewardship of the gospel. Thus, even though he was suffering abuse and humiliation, he was confident of God’s complete vindication in the end (cf. 1:18; 4:8). Throughout, of course, Paul was using his own example to bolster Timothy’s perhaps flagging courage.

Call to Guard the Truth: Following and Protecting

What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus.

2 Timothy 1:13

From the example of his life, Paul turned to the example or pattern (hypotypōsin; cf. 1 Tim. 1:16) of his teaching. Timothy was to view what he had heard from Paul as the essential outline or sketch of sound teaching (lit., “healthy doctrine”; cf. 1 Tim. 1:10) and was to keep or maintain it. Timothy was to have courage to hold the truth with faith and love in Christ Jesus. A commitment to the truth always requires faith and love, virtues which ultimately come only from being “in Christ” (1 Tim. 1:14).

Protecting what God Has Entrusted

Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.

2 Timothy 1:14

Paul used the notion of a “trust” (parathēkēn; cf. 1 Tim. 5:21; 6:20) in two ways in the Pastorals. First, he had been given a trust or stewardship from God (cf. 1 Tim. 1:11); second, he had in turn entrusted himself and his destiny to God (2 Tim. 1:12). Here Paul spoke of the first of these two.

The stewardship of the truth he had received had now been passed along into the hands of Timothy, who was to pass it on yet again to other faithful Christians, who were to pass it on to still others (2:2). While it was in Timothy’s possession, however, he was to guard (phylaxon; cf. 1 Tim. 5:21; 6:20) it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us. It was Timothy’s responsibility to preserve sound teaching from becoming corrupted through distortion, dilution, deletion, and addition. Heretical teaching was not only a possibility to Paul; it was a constant threat to be guarded against. Moreover, Timothy could count on the courage of the indwelling Spirit of God (cf. 1 John 3:24; 4:13) who desires to promote the truth about Christ (John 16:13).

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