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Bible Commentaries
2 Timothy 1

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Verses 1-18

2 Timothy 1:5

St. Basil the Great owed his earliest religious education to his grandmother Macrina, who brought him up with his brothers, and formed them upon the doctrine of the great Origenist and saint of Pontus, Gregory Thaumaturgus. Canon Travers Smith wrote in his Life of St. Basil: 'Macrina had not only been taught by the best Christian instructors, but had herself with her husband suffered for the faith. In the persecutions of Maximin she and her family were driven from their home and forced with a few companions to take refuge in a forest among the mountains of Pontus, where they spent nearly seven years, and were wont to attribute to the special interposition of God the supplies of food by which they were maintained at a distance from all civilisation.

'It must not be supposed that the charge of Basil's childhood thus committed to his grandmother indicated any deficiency in love or piety on the part of his mother. Her name was Emmelia, and Gregory describes her as fitly matched with her husband. They had ten children. Of the five sons three became bishops Basil, Gregory of Nyssa, and Peter of Sebaste.'

References. I. 6. J. Keble, Sermons for Septuagesima to Ash Wednesday, p. 323. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xviii. No. 1080.

A Call to Christian Courage

2 Timothy 1:7

Here we have the true Spirit of a Christian set forth in three particulars, and each of these is an antidote to timidity.

I. God has given us the Spirit of power. Herein lies our fitness for whatsoever form our witness-bearing ought to take. The consciousness of inward strength removes all fear. It is said, 'The world belongs to those who have courage'; then the saints ought to possess it, and it is because of their cowardice, if they do not.

II. God has given us the Spirit of love. Thus He has brought us into sympathy and fellowship with Himself, for God is love. If conscience make cowards of us all, a good conscience should make us fearless.

III. God has given us the Spirit of a sound mind. As opposed to the madness and folly of sin, religion is a return to the true reason, sound judgment, and right action. (1) A sound mind is a mind evenly balanced. (2) A sound mind is candid, open to all the truth and eager to gather it from all quarters. (3) A sound mind controls the life, and thus ensures true Christian temperance. (4) A sound mind gains, often quite imperceptibly, a great influence over other minds.

C. O. Eldridge, The Preacher's Magazine, vol. VI. p. 81.

2 Timothy 1:7

The last words written by Lady Dilke, which close her Book of the Spiritual Life, run thus: 'To their solemn music, the fateful years unroll the great chart in which we may trace the hidden mysteries of the days, and behold those foreshadowings of things to come towards which we know ourselves to be carried by inevitable steps not gladly, indeed, but with that full and determined consent with which the brave accept unflinchingly the fulfilment of law and fate. "For God hath not given us the Spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind."'

References. I. 7. F. D. Maurice, Sermons, vol. vi. p. 93. Expositor (6th Series), vol. xi. p. 204 I. 8. J. Baines, Sermons, p. 168.

2 Timothy 1:9

What needs admitting, or rather proclaiming, by agnostics who would be just is, that the Christian doctrine has a power of cultivating and developing saintliness which has had no equal in any other creed or philosophy.

J. Cotter Morison, in The Service of Man (ch. VII.).

References. I. 9. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xii. No. 703. Expositor (4th Series), vol. i. p. 33.

The Promise of Life

2 Timothy 1:10

I presume most of you either own or have seen a print of Millet's picture, 'L'Angelus,' which represents a French peasant and his wife resting momentarily from their work in the field to join in prayer at the sound of the vesper bell, and some of you may know the exquisite use to which the late Henry Drummond put this picture in his address on work and love and worship. I shall take these three elements of life though there is a fourth at which the picture hints but faintly, and of which Drummond said nothing the element of suffering. And I shall try to remind you how, under a Christian interpretation, these drive our minds toward the life that is life indeed.

I. Let us look first at work, which for most of us means three-quarters of our life, the returning toil of each new day, much of it sordid and monotonous; can it possibly be made to speak to us of the eternal life?

Work, when it is Christianly interpreted, drives our minds toward the thought of the life essentially continuous with this, while in its accidents different. It is this thought that is the climax of St Paul's reason in his famous resurrection chapter, 1 Cor. xv., for after his triumphant hymn of praise because of our victory over death, he brings the whole argument to a climax in reminding us that it is now worth while our working if our work be in line with God's work, for our work here leads into life beyond, 'wherefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, immovable always, abounding in the work of the Lord; for as much as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord' i.e. such work as you do here show forth God must have its crown of fulfilment in the land where His glory specially rests.

II. It is in the attachment of heart to heart that men have found the most powerful presage of immortality, and poets in all ages have with almost frenzied certitude proclaimed their conviction that love is stronger than death. Where love is, God is; and where God is, life must ever be. If our love be drawn from Christ's there may be sacrifice before it, but never separation. For if our love be baptised into the spirit of Christ, it is taken up into His life and cannot die. This is not subjective conviction: this is not mysticism, this is New Testament doctrine, the very essence and foundation of the last writings of St John, the final interpreter to us in point of time of the incarnation of Jesus Christ our Lord.

III. It is, however, only when we pass to worship that the promise of eternal life becomes irresistible. For consider what worship is. Worship is a reciprocal movement between the human spirit and God; it consists, that is to say, of our upward aspirations and God's stooping responses. Worship is friendship between God and man; but think for a moment what it means for the Eternal God to enter into friendly relations with any one. His friendships are not capricious, but partake of His own eternal nature; in other words, they endow those who are the subjects of this friendship with His own immortality.

Now consider how Jesus Christ interpreted and transfigured this experience of worship; through Him it becomes possessed of certain characteristics that emphasise the certitude of the eternal life; for example, it becomes through Him a life of filial intimacy; and sonship carries with it the promise of home. Our filial aspirations, as has been said, are the earliest part of us; there is a sequence of thought which it is almost impossible to escape in the sentences: 'Now are we the sons of God,' and 'It doth not yet appear what we shall be'. As we experience it here, the adoption of sons involves the certain hope of a home-coming to God.

Work, love, worship these, then, Christianly understood, are promises, of eternal life.

IV. And what of suffering? Without its Christian interpretation it is but an emphasis on life's transiency. When we suffer, it is all that binds us to the physical, that is, that comes to the front of our thoughts the pains and disabilities of the body, prospect of dissolution and bereavement.

As sufferers we are the subject of change, and so Buddha read the fact of suffering; it was to him one of the facts that pointed to the desirability of escape from the terrors of self-conscious life. So far from containing within itself any promise of immortality, it was one of the facts that made him long for the cessation of consciousness and of desire. But Christ has transformed all that. He interpreted suffering and so moulded the sufferers who believe in Him that often it is Christian sufferers for whom the veil is worn the thinnest between this life and the life that is to be, so that they become preachers of the land of far distances, and bring the eternal order within our view. It is, of course, Christ's own sufferings that have thus suffused all other pain with the heavenly glow; it is in Him that suffering supremely bears the promise and potency of immortality.

G. A. Johnston Ross, Christian World Pulpit, vol. LXXVII. p. 257.

2 Timothy 1:10

'I myself,' says Thomas Boston in his Memoirs, 'have been several times, on this occasion, taking a view of death; and I have found that faith in God through Christ makes another world not quite strange.'

References. I. 10. Eynon Davies, Sermons by Welshmen, p. 327. The Record, vol. xxvii. p. 756. E. Bersier, Sermons in Paris, p. 230. J. C. M. Bellew, Sermons, vol. i. p. 351. J. H. Holford, Memorial Sermons, p. 37. T. Binney, King's Weigh-House Chapel Sermons, p. 41. Expositor (5th Series), vol. v. p. 389.

Doctrine and Life

2 Timothy 1:12

I. The Importance of Right Doctrine. The most living Christian experience, if it is to be better than unauthorised, unverifiable fancy or feeling, is in its essence connected with revealed doctrine. Without that warrant, the warmest emotions about God, or Christ, may have no solidity of fact beneath them. Not that every believer must, or can, enter into the same fulness of doctrinal truth. But some doctrine the little believing child must have, and the old believing cottager who cannot read. To know Whom they trust they must know about Him; they must know something of the doctrine of the Son of God. We may carry our advocacy of the claims of doctrine too far, but our present risk is the very opposite. It is to regard persons more than truths, teachers than teaching. It is to make moral earnestness the first thing and the last It is to look for the glory of God somewhere else than in the face of Jesus Christ, as that face is seen in the mirror of the Word, in the light of the Spirit I plead, then, for the supreme importance of sound and solid doctrine, of clear views, of what is revealed about Christ

a. His person and His work.

b. His sacrificial blood.

c. His indwelling life.

d. His intercession above.

II. We Turn to the Necessity, the Bliss, of a Personal Acquaintance with the Living Lord Jesus Christ. We have looked awhile on what some may call the 'dry bones' of doctrine, but which are in fact the vertebrae of the backbone of life. But now we look again at St. Paul's words, and we embrace the blessedness of a personal knowledge of not it, but Him. If we would live, if our Christianity is not to be a synonym for barren mental speculation, or somewhat commonplace philanthropy, or merely carnal contentiousness, or, worst of all, a cloak for a life of entire and complacent selfishness, then we must know Him and abide in Him. Among the doctrines of the faith is this, that if I know all mysteries, and have not holy love, I am nothing; and that, on the other hand, Christ can dwell in my heart by faith, by the work of the strengthening Spirit. Who shall describe the happiness of direct personal acquaintance with Him, as it were behind (not without) all thinking, and all work, which thought and work He yet can fill and can use? It is the reality of realities.

a. In it the most advanced and instructed believer, and the most timid beginner in the life of faith, alike have part and lot.

b. It gives wings of light to the highest musings and most accurate studies of the believing theologian.

c. It warms and sweetens the arduous tasks of the believing toiler for the souls and bodies and homes of men.

d. It smiles on the dying bed of the little child, and refuses to fall out of the aged mind, which drops everything else in its palsy.

A few years ago, in India, died a little native boy, of twelve years old. Almost unawares he had learned the doctrine, and had found the Lord. Too weak to converse, almost too weak apparently to think, he twice over, at the last, folded his skeleton hands, and slowly repeated those unfathomable words, 'The Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord Jesus Christ'.

The Assured Knowledge of the Personal Saviour

2 Timothy 1:12

I. This Knowledge is Personal in its Object.

Evidently the Apostle intended to emphasise the actual personality of the Object of his faith. Christianity is not creed, not document, not church, not Sacrament; Christianity is Christ, Christ is Christianity. But you ask, 'Is it possible for me to know Christ in this positive manner? He is no longer on earth. How, then, may I know Him?' Probably the Apostle Paul had never seen Christ in the flesh; he had seen Him in vision only. True knowledge of persons is never obtained through the organs of outward sense. (1) Paul knew Christ through the organ of faith. The margin reads, 'I know Him whom I have trusted'. (2) By love. Paul gave his heart to Christ It is the lover always who knows. (3) By obedience. As Robertson long ago remarked: 'Obedience is an organ of spiritual knowledge'. He who will do the will of God shall know. (4) By suffering. Evermore there is a knowledge of Christ sweeter, deeper, more blessed than all other which comes to the believer when he suffers with Christ and for Christ

II. This Knowledge Inspires at once a Noble Character and Life. As the generations pass the character of the Apostle Paul shines out with ever-increasing glory. The secret of that wonderful character was, according to his own testimony, his faith in Jesus Christ. Thus to know Christ in this positive manner, to wrap the roots of the heart around Him, to draw the sap of life from Him, is to have life cut off from all that is sordid, earthly, and selfish, and transfigured with the glory of the Lord.

III. This Knowledge Inspires Calmness in Trial and Confidence in Death. Amid the shocks of temporal disaster, or when fierce fires of persecution burn around us or when cruel wrongs oppress the soul, or when the heart is wrung with parting pangs, and we have to kiss cold lips, and bid the long goodbye; or when fell diseases smite us low, and blot out all the hope of life we are kept in perfect peace if only we know Him. When we come to the mystery of death, the only thing which will give us calmness and confidence is the assured knowledge of Him who is evermore the Resurrection and the Life.

J. Tolefree Parr, The White Life, p. 59.

2 Timothy 1:12

If you have had trials, sickness, and the approach of death, the alienation of friends, poverty at the heels, and have not felt your soul turn round upon these very things and spurn them under you must be very differently made from me, and, I earnestly believe, from the majority of men.

R. L. Stevenson.

References. I. 12. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. v. No. 271. J. Stalker, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lvi. p. 171. S. H. Fleming, Fifteen Minute Sermons for the People, p. 194. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xvi. No. 908. John Watson, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lix. p. 299. T. A. Cox, Penny Pulpit, No. 1484, p. 9. W. M. Sinclair, Difficulties of our Day, p. 158. H. P. Liddon, Sermons on Some Words of St. Paul, p. 276. J. D. Jones, Elims of Life, p. 220. John Watson, The Inspiration of our Faith, p. 214. W. H. Brookfield, Sermons, p. 36. A. W. Hutton, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lxx. p. 328. Expositor (4th Series), vol. x. p. 190. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture Timothy, p. 16.

The Two Trusts

2 Timothy 1:12 ; 2 Timothy 1:14

You will observe that these two sayings are in one point identical. They express the one great thought of the Christian life, in its twofold aspect the thought of Christ's faithfulness to us, and of our answering fidelity to Him. In both there is the idea of a weighty and solemn trust of something that has unspeakable value committed to the keeping of another, left under his watchful guard, which he is pledged to defend at all cost. Let me set it briefly before you: Christ's loving demand that we shall keep that which He has committed to us; our joyous certainty that He will guard for evermore that which we have committed to Him.

I. First, Jet us think of what He has entrusted to us. Paul calls it that good or that beautiful thing; and we say in brief that it is twofold the name of Jesus and the faith of Jesus. (1) He has left His pure, undefiled name in our keeping. When the crusader went off to the holy war, he left some sworn friend to fill his place to do what he would have done, to shield those whom he would have defended, and especially to answer all slanders that were uttered against the absent one, and maintain unsullied his pure reputation. In some such way the great Master has left us in charge. The whole Church is made responsible for the honour of her Lord, and every single disciple shares in the sacred trust. (2) He has committed to us what we call 'The Faith,' the body of truth and doctrine which He gave as His message from the Father, and which constitutes the heritage of the Church 'the faith,' to quote the saying which is often misused, but which we are never weary of repeating, 'the faith once for all delivered to the Saints'. And how are we to keep it? To keep the faith is to live it We cannot be fairly said to hold any doctrine until we make it a part of our everyday life.

II. And now I speak of the other side of the Christian life, of that which relates to our trust in the King's promise, and of His pledge to keep that which we have committed unto Him. There are certain things which we can do. We can defend the faith, we can maintain the honour of His name, we can preserve our own lives unspotted from the world. But then there remains a large province of things which enter into our deepest life, over which we have no power whatever, which we can but leave with blind, helpless, childlike trust in His loving, mighty hands. There is the future of the Church. There is our own and its results, its rewards. Then, further, there is our own immortality. And, finally, there are our beautiful affections, the friendships which we have cultivated with so much care and cherished with such ardent solicitude, which we have woven about our souls until they have become an inseparable part of our souls. Let us keep our trust, and be assured that He will keep His.

J. G. Greenhough, The Cross in Modern Life, p. 178.

References. I. 12-14. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxii. No. 1913. I. 13. A. H. Sayce, Christian World Pulpit. vol. lviii. p. 241. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. ii. No. 79. R. W. Hiley, A Year's Sermons, vol. iii. p. 314. Expositor (5th Series), vol. vi. p. 385. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture Timothy, p. 26. I. 13, 14. G. Body, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lviii. p. 233. I. 14. H. S. Holland, ibid. vol. lix. p. 380.

A Friend in Need

2 Timothy 1:16

This letter, many scholars think, may have been penned on the very eve of the great Apostle's death. We seem to have a premonition of the end in that brave verse of the fourth chapter: 'I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith'. Our text, therefore, has in it something of the peculiar weight and intensity that ofttimes characterise parting words of the dying. St. Paul was never prone to indiscriminate praise or blame. He had greater matters in hand than the strewing of compliments even upon his coadjutors in the proclamation of the Christian Gospel. Hence we may assume that the singularly cordial words he speaks of Onesiphorus are the product of deep and manly feeling.

Onesiphorus means bringer of help; so that in this instance at least name and nature coincide; for it was the promptness and the richness of the help he brought that went to Paul's heart.

I. First, then, consider Onesiphorus in the rĂ´le of a Christian friend. One of the qualities in him which these verses specially underline is, you will note, the consistency of his helpfulness.

(1) Two features, I imagine, in Onesiphorus' conduct at Rome touched St. Paul with peculiar gratitude. In the first place, he took pains to help his friend. 'He sought me out very diligently, and found me.'

The main thing required to make us helpful is not sentiment, but action.

(2) Then besides that, Onesiphorus was not ashamed of Paul; and that memory the Apostle treasured with a rare depth of gratitude. Evidently he was used to having people ashamed of him. It was all part of being a Christian. But to treat him so never crossed the other's mind. To know St. Paul was the pride of Onesiphorus' life. So far from being ashamed or afraid to be seen in his cell, I have no doubt he grew positively elated over his success in finding him.

II. Note secondly, how much this kindness meant to Paul. No one had ever lived more completely human than the Apostle to the Gentiles. The desire for friendship became at times with him almost a physical craving. It is not to be imagined that he always lived upon the heights, on the blue altitudes, for example, to which he soars in Colossians or Ephesians. No; there were hours of loneliness and sorrow, when in his dejection he would have given all he had for the voice of a loved friend, and a look from his kindly eyes. So think of the shock of pleasure that came to the solitary captive when one day his cell-door swung back, and in strode this trusty henchman, all the way from Asia. A friend in need is a friend indeed.

III. Lastly, note how St. Paul repaid the other's kindness. In one word, he prayed for him; he took his name in love to the throne of God; and this is the best recompense any of us can make for sympathy or help. Says a saint of the seventeenth century, writing to an acquaintance who lived by habit in fellowship with God: 'When you have the King's ear, remember me'; and surely each of us has at least one friend from whom we also might beg this kindness.

H. R. Mackintosh, Life on God's Plan, p. 73.

Reference. I. 18. Expositor (6th Series), vol. vi. p. 888.

Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on 2 Timothy 1". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/edt/2-timothy-1.html. 1910.
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