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2 Timothy 1:1-2  Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, in keeping with the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus, To Timothy, my dear son.

Paul wrote his second letter to Timothy around AD 67, while imprisoned in a cold Roman dungeon, near the end of his life (2 Timothy 4:6). Through this letter he also wrote to the church in Ephesus, where Timothy was serving. It was a time of persecution under Emperor Nero, and the tone of the letter is somber. This is the last known letter of Paul, and it resembles a farewell discourse. 

2 Timothy 1:9 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. 

If we think God saved us because of anything we have done, we do not understand grace. Since grace was given to us before the beginning in time, we should not think it was due to anything we have done, but only to God’s sovereign purpose and choice. God does not owe anything to anyone, but freely gives to some, and not to others.

Jesus went to the pool of Bethesda where a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. . . . Then Jesus said to him, Get up! Pick up your mat and walk. At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked (John 5:3-9), wrote John.

Of all the disabled people at the pool that day, Jesus only healed one. When the man considered all those who were not healed, he must have wondered, Why me? That should be our response as well. Salvation is a gift of God’s grace which he gives to people who do not deserve it. Whoever receives this gift ought to be amazed.

2 Timothy 1:12 I know whom I have believed

Christians ought to know what we believe, but it is even more important to know whom we believe. It is possible to know all the teachings of Christianity without knowing Christ himself. We are not saved by knowing a set of teachings, however, but by knowing Jesus Christ.

The criminal who was crucified next to Jesus said, remember me when you come into your kingdom. Jesus answered him, Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise (Luke 23:42-43). This man knew little about justification, sanctification, or the Trinity. But he met Jesus Christ and gained eternal life through him. It is not enough to know about Christ; we must know him for ourselves. Then we can say with Paul, I know whom I have believed.  

2 Timothy 2:2 You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus

The grace of Jesus Christ strengthens our faith because it makes up for our failures. Whoever has Christ will surely be saved no matter how often they fall short. Left to ourselves we would have to despair, but because of the grace of Christ, we keep on going strong.

A father was teaching his little girl how to play softball, so he threw her a pitch and she missed—strike one. Then he threw her another pitch and she missed again—strike two. Then he threw her another pitch and she missed again—strike three. But because she was his daughter, he threw her another pitch, and then another, until she finally learned to hit the ball. God will give us as many pitches as we need as long as we stay in the game. 

2 Timothy 2:15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth

Timothy had the privilege of learning from the greatest Bible scholar in the world. Paul was a master of the Scriptures, and used his skill to teach God’s word faithfully, effectively and accurately. He wanted Timothy to do the same. 

The minister’s job is not to amuse or entertain, but to carefully instruct God’s people, day after day, week after week, and year after year. [M]y people are destroyed from lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:6), said God. And, we who teach will be judged more strictly (James 3:1), wrote James.

Years ago, it was not uncommon for churches to have a cemetery right outside their building. The people wanted their pastor to see the graveyard—while he preached—as a reminder that he might bury one of them that week. They wanted him to know that his job was not to be popular, but truthful; not to make them happy in life, but happy in death. Nothing is better for a church than the faithful, effective, and accurate teaching of God’s word. 

2 Timothy 2:19 Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness

If we confess the name of Jesus Christ, we bear some responsibility for his reputation. If we live righteously, that reflects well on him. If we live wickedly, that reflects badly on him. Most people will not get their opinions of Jesus from the Bible, but from those who claim to be his followers.

A young man had a father who was both noble and famous. Over the years his father gave him many gifts, but the greatest gift he ever received was his father’s name. He was so proud of that name that he refused to do anything that would tarnish it. That is how Paul felt about being a Christian. 

Reflection and Review
Why do you think God chose you?
How can we know Christ personally?
Why does grace make us strong?