Instructions for a Faithful Gospel Ministry - 2 Timothy 2:1-7
The Apostle Paul was called by God and he gave his life fully for the sake of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. His aim was to know Christ and to make Him known. And for the sake of Christ and His Gospel Paul endured suffering, imprisonment and eventually death. But through it all he maintained joy and hope and he believed that greater joy awaited him beyond this life.
Near the end of his life, from a Roman prison, Paul wrote a letter to his faithful partner in the Gospel, Timothy. In this letter he is calling on Timothy to take up the mantle and continue the work of Gospel ministry. As we read this letter it serves as a good reminder to us that we too are called to this work.
In chapter 1 Paul makes his initial appeal, calling Timothy to be unashamed and to commit himself to guarding, stewarding and proclaiming the Gospel. Now, as we come to chapter 2, it seems Paul is moving more into instruction. He’s giving Timothy instruction about the specifics of the ministry – what he should do and what he should expect. He is helping Timothy see what faithful Gospel ministry looks like.
A Faithful Gospel Ministry is Strengthened by Grace (2:1)
- As Paul is preparing Timothy for the Gospel work that is ahead, he begins by pointing him to the only sufficient source of strength. As Timothy continues in his ministry Paul knows he will be tempted to rely on his own strength, but he reminds him to find his strength in the grace that is found in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 12:9; 2 Corinthians 3:4-6; 2 Timothy 1:7-8; 2 Timothy 1:14).
- Application – It is human nature to rely on ourselves. We can convince ourselves that we are wise enough and capable enough to do the things that God has called us to do in our own strength. This word from Paul is a good reminder of our need to rely fully on the strength that God supplies.
A Faithful Gospel Ministry is Marked by Discipleship (2:2)
- For years Paul had invested in Timothy. Timothy had traveled with Paul and listened as Paul proclaimed the Gospel in city after city. Now, Paul is commissioning Timothy to replicate what he has received. He is to take the message of the Gospel that has been entrusted to him, and entrust it to other men who are faithful and able to teach others.
- Application – While this particular instruction for Timothy seems to be focused on identifying and equipping pastors, the process of discipleship is something that every Christian is called to participate in (Matthew 28:18-20). We are all called to faithfully share the Gospel and help others grow in their understanding of the Gospel so that ultimately they do the same thing for others.
A Faithful Gospel Ministry is Prepared for Hardship (2:3-6)
- Share in suffering – Throughout this letter Paul continues to tell Timothy about the place of suffering in Gospel ministry. Paul has suffered greatly for the sake of the Gospel and now he is calling Timothy to share in that suffering. Suffering is not the goal, but he knows that for those who are faithful, suffering will be a reality (John 15:20; 2 Timothy 3:12).
- Remaining faithful in the midst of suffering – In vv. 4-6 Paul provides three metaphors to help Timothy consider what it looks like to continue to be faithful even in the midst of suffering.
- Suffering hardship like a soldier (v. 4) – Good soldiers are single-minded and put off anything that would distract them from their mission. As the people of God Christ is our commanding officer and our aim should be to please Him and to set aside anything that would distract us from that aim. This single-mindedness will help us to be faithful in the midst of any suffering we may endure.
- Suffering hardship like an athlete (v. 5) – Just as every competition has rules, there are some things that serve as rules or standards for Christian ministry. For Timothy to try and avoid suffering would be to try to live outside of the rules. On the other hand, faithfulness in the midst of suffering will lead to great reward (2 Timothy 4:7-8).
- Suffering hardship like a farmer (v. 6) – The Christian life and the Gospel ministry is not for the faint of heart. With this picture Paul is calling Timothy to recognize the difficulty of the calling and to commit to working hard. Again, this faithful ministry will lead to fruit and reward.
A Faithful Gospel Ministry is Committed to God’s Word (2:7)
- Paul knew that what he was telling Timothy may be hard to hear and even harder to apply. However, in this verse he encourages Timothy to continue to think and meditate on these things, knowing that God will give him understanding. Regularly reading and meditating on God’s Word is the means by which we can know what God expects from us and how to live in light of His calling.
While the first seven verses of chapter two provide instruction, verses 8-13 provide reason and motivation. Christ Himself and His Gospel are the reason and the motivation for all we are called to do.