The first epistle of Paul to Timothy sets the standard for proper conduct, leadership, mutual submission in God’s house, particularly in connection with a local church. This standard of godliness remains God’s thoughts on the matter, but the reality is that the standard has been lowered from what the Holy Spirit has set, and this we see in the second epistle, just as Israel did not continue in the standard of the Torah. By lowering God’s standard for conduct in His own house, we actually “change the truth” and make it difficult for believing and obeying the Word of God. God, who knows the end from the beginning, deals with this “new reality” in the wisdom given to Paul for this second epistle to his spiritual son, Timothy.
In the first epistle, the house of God is in order; in the second epistle, the foundation remains firm, but within the house there are vessels of honor and of dishonor. It is similar to the church of Laodicea, where within the church itself, they did not realize that Jesus was not inside, but outside the door. He knocked so that whoever would hear and open and let Him in personally, not collectively. So, too, here: each person is responsible for their response to the truth of God’s word, even if the congregation – including the leadership – as a whole is not in order. We also have the example of Zechariah and Elizabeth, John the Baptizer’s mother and father: although the entire Temple system was completely corrupt by that time, they were found faithfully righteous and blameless before God. Zechariah was a priest. We also have the notable example of Noah, found righteous in his evil generation.
Here is a summary overview of the second epistle of Paul to Timothy:
–eternal plan of God from before time; He is always ‘around’, ‘there’, ‘here’ for us (1:9)
— there is the conflict of faith that we must fight, no matter how weak or strong we may be; but we must live and fight according to the rules God has given. He remains faithful to Himself even if we do not (2:7, 11-13)
–The letter takes us to the last days, and we will all be tested as things progressively deteriorate all around us – what the world might call progress or enlightenment, but the Holy Spirit calls it the falling away; the Word of God remains truth as the revelation of God for our life and service (3; 2Pt 1:19-21)
–Paul speaks of his coming death, and the hope that he knows is sure, encouraging Timothy and us in the victory of Jesus! (Ch 4)
v 1-5 Paul begins this letter by saying that he is an Apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus. In his first epistle, he said that he was an Apostle by the commandment of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our Lord. Paul is emphasizing that he is an Apostle called and sent by God Himself; he was not selected by others, nor did he appoint himself.
Paul begins this letter to his young spiritual son, Timothy, by calling him his “beloved son”. In his first epistle he called him a “true son in the faith”. How good for a father to love his children, and for each child to know that he is loved! And that the father sees his child mature to be a son, actively interested in the life and faith of his father. This is what Yeshua said at the age of 12 to His parents regarding His doing the work of God, His Father.
YHVH God is the God of life. Jesus says that He is the way, the truth, and the life. He is the resurrection and the life. Believe in YHVH as the one true God and live, Moses told Israel. The Messiah came, the Son of God, who through faith in His name God promises eternal life – life that is really life, the real life, and is unending – for those who love Him. Jesus Christ is the mystery of godliness who was manifested in the flesh: the express image of the invisible God! Our faith is based upon this revelation from the Father, that our Savior is none other than God Himself who became a flesh-and-blood man, so that we could become children of God in His righteousness.
As Peter testified and admitted when Jesus asked the 12 Apostles if they would forsake Him as so many other disciples did because of His hard sayings: “Where will we go? You only have the words of eternal life.” There is the promise of life in Yeshua from God. No other “god”, or faith or religion or ‘holy man’ can make such a promise. They are all vain!
Paul’s conscience is clear, both as a Jew and as a human being in general, about who his God and Savior is, and so he prays each day and night for his dear spiritual son, Timothy. Paul greatly desires to see him so glad for the faith of Timothy’s grandmother Lois, his mother Eunice; and he is persuaded also of Timothy. There is no greater joy than a father to see his children walking in the truth. (3 Jn 1-4) Even if not all of our earthly fathers are happy that we believe in Jesus, our Father in Heaven is very glad!
Fathers, Mothers, we have the responsibility and honor from God to teach and to demonstrate and to explain the truth of our faith and hope in Jesus. Sons and daughters, you have the commandment to honor your father and mother. You may not always agree with them, but you are to honor/respect them. If you are already an adult, you may not need to obey them, but you are to honor/respect them. All of us have the call to know that we know God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. This is eternal life. Let us tell others the good news!
This article originally appeared on Streams in the Negev, July 2, 2021, and reposted with permission.