19 October 2007

2 Timothy 2:1-7

"If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he will also deny us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful – for he cannot deny himself.'" (v.11-13)


Timothy is encouraged to share in suffering, following the examples of Paul and Jesus. He is also encouraged to become an exemplary teacher by showing himself to be a person whom God approves. When Paul wrote these words he was in prison in Rome, probably in chains.

The repeated address to Timothy as "my child" reminds him of his dependence on Paul. It was from Paul that Timothy heard about the Christian faith, so Paul was like his spiritual father.

The image of a soldier, a competing athlete and a hard working farmer (which all appear in this passage) are all used by Paul in his letter to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 9). Timothy's role as a teacher and his loyalty to Paul will involve dedication and hard work, so Timothy has to show the same qualities and dedication to this work as a soldier, athlete or farmer would in their work.

"A descendant of David" (v.8) draws attention to Jesus' royal authority and reminds Timothy who he serves - Jesus who died and rose from the dead. "The elect" (v.10), can also be translated as 'the chosen ones'. The Jewish Scriptures describe the members of the God's community as the chosen ones. 

Although bound in chains, Paul is convinced that his suffering will help others to believe.

Verses 11-13 are part of one of the first hymns of the church - when the Church was being persecuted they sang their faith.

Verses 14-17 were written by Paul against against a background of the Gnostics (a popular religious movement in the ancient world) who wrangled over words, trying to make Christianity a philosophy rather than a faith. Alexander and Hymenaeus were men whose teaching about the resurrection was incorrect and they were undermining people's faith. Paul stresses that only those who follow his teaching will gain eternal life.

To Ponder

Paul encourages Timothy to entrust faithful people with the good news so that they will be able to teach others. To what extent do we pass on the good news today?

Paul suggests that a soldier should not be involved in everyday affairs. How involved should Christians today be in everyday concerns?

Bible notes author

Revd Anne Brown

Revd Anne Brown is Chair of the Beds, Essex and Herts District. She has served as a Methodist minister in Lancashire and Yorkshire before becoming Chair of the former London North West District..