The Pulpit Commentary

2 Timothy 2:1 (2 Timothy 2:1)

Child for son , A.V.; strengthened for strong, A.V. Be strengthened ( ἐνδυναμοῦ ) ; more exactly (as Huther), become strong, or, which is the same thing, strengthen thyself; implying, perhaps, though gently expressed, some previous weakness, as m Hebrews 11:34 , "From weakness were made strong;" where the image seems to be that of recovery from sickness. In Ephesians 6:10 , however ( ἐνδυναμοῦσθε ἐν κυρίῳ ), there is no evidence of preceding weakness, but only a call to use the strength they had; and it may be so here too. The strength, Timothy is reminded, by which he was to fight the good fight, was not his own, but that which would come to him from the grace and love of Jesus Christ.

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2 Timothy 2:1-14 (2 Timothy 2:1-14)

Endurance the lot of Christ's ministers.

Continual endurance of evil, whether directed specially against himself, or generally thwarting the cause which he has most at heart, is the ordinary lot of the minister of Jesus Christ exercising his ministry in an evil world. And in order to be ready to encounter this evil, actively or passively, as the case may require, a complete concentration of purpose on the fulfilment of his ministry is absolutely required. If the heart is divided between the ministry of God's Word and the enjoyment of an easy life, there will be a constant temptation to avoid those various forms of "hardship" which properly belong to the campaign of the soldiers of Christ. Troubles will be shirked rather than endured; and ministerial duties will be made to stand on one side when they interfere with the inclinations of the moment. Labour will be evaded when the soul calls for ease. The determined struggle, and the sturdy stand against evil, whether in his own heart or in the world around him, will be postponed to a more convenient season, while weak compromises and sinful compliances take their place in the immediate present. At the same time, contradiction and opposition, crooks and crosses of various kinds, untoward events, troubles, disappointments, and difficulties of all sorts, will be met, not in the spirit of Christian fortitude, not in the spirit of Christian meekness and patience, but with petulant complaints, or with roughness and ill temper, as running against the current of the love of ease in the soul. It is, therefore, incumbent upon the servant of God to be wholly given up to the ministry which he has received. He must resolutely shake off the entanglements of the affairs of this life, that he may please him who called him to be a soldier. He must feel, "My work in life, my mission, the dispensation committed to me, is to advance the kingdom of Christ in the world. I am set by my Lord and Master for the defence of the gospel—to preach it, to vindicate it, to uphold it against all gainsayers, to adorn it with my own life, to use my utmost endeavour for its maintenance, its propagation, its triumphs. I must no more shrink from obloquy, from labour, from suffering, from troubles, or, if need be, from bonds and death, in the fulfilment of this work and ministry, than the soldier shrinks from fatigue and exposure, from hunger and hardship, from wounds and from death,, in bravely discharging the duties of his warfare." For his encouragement in carrying out this resolve, he has the example of his Lord who suffered unto death and was raised again from the dead. tie has the example of the apostles who endured troubles and bonds and imprisonment, and yet saw the gospel which they preached triumphing over all opposition. He has the promises of God assuring life, and a kingdom, to those who suffer and die with Christ. And so, accepting endurance as the portion of Christ's servants, he pursues his ministry diligently, joyfully, and steadfastly, throws his whole strength into it, and looks forward with an unwavering hope to obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.

- The Pulpit Commentary

2 Timothy 2:1 (2 Timothy 2:1)

Exhortation to Timothy to be strong.

The apostle founds upon the foregoing examples and warnings an admonition to Christian firmness and courage.

I. THE NEED OF SPIRITUAL STRENGTH . "Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus."

1 . Strength was necessary to meet the difficulties and dangers of his official life at Ephesus.

2 . The admonition was probably needed on account of the discouragements which Timothy himself must have felt at the conduct of the Asiatic deserters.

3 . Strength is the spring of happy activity in any sphere. "The joy of the Lord shall be your strength."

II. THE SOURCE OF THIS SPIRITUAL STRENGTH . "The grace that is in Christ Jesus." It seems strange to say, "Be strong," to a spiritually discouraged man, as it would be strange to say the same thing to a physically weak man. The injunction is reasonable, however, when we consider that the source of our renewed power is at hand. The grace of Christ is the inward power which enables us "to will and to do of his good pleasure." "Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might" ( Ephesians 6:10 ). Here lies the true source of our strength. The apostle declared he could do all things through Christ who strengthened him.—T.C.

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2 Timothy 2:1-13 (2 Timothy 2:1-13)

Hardship in connection with the Christian ministry.

I. PRELIMINARY EXHORTATION .

1 . As to personal strength . "Thou therefore, my child, be strengthened in the grace that is in Christ Jesus." As the apostle's power of working was already much crippled by close imprisonment, he naturally felt anxious regarding the future of Christ's cause. In calling Timothy his son, he does not formally name him as his successor. At the same time, he may be regarded as looking to him as one like-minded, who had youth on his side, to continue the work which he felt was passing out of his hands. While Phygelus and Hermogenes were untrue to him, and Onesiphorus was dead, Timothy must stand forward. For this he would require a liberal supply of strength. With paternal anxiety, then, he points him to the great Source of strength, viz. the grace that is in Christ Jesus and obtained by him for us, or the lordly power to bless without respect to the merit of the recipient. In John 1:14 he is said to be fall of grace, and, in the sixteenth verse following, it is said that it is out of his fulness that all his people receive. As the Fountain, he supplies all that depend upon him with all that is necessary for the proper discharge of their duties. To whom else, then, could he point Timothy? In spiritual work there is a giving out of strength, for which there is needed renewal. There are also occasions for which there are needed special supplies of strength. At all times there is a tendency to a culpable and enfeebling supineness, against which there is needed a gracious supply. Let the Christian minister, then, find his empowering for his work in the grace that is centred in Christ.

2 . As to the regular transmission of the truth. "And the things which thou hast heard from me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also." Paul himself heard directly from Christ, who is as full of truth as of grace. But he points to a definite and solemn occasion, when he was the speaker and Timothy the hearer, viz. the occasion, repeatedly referred to, of Timothy's ordination. What he heard then was by the mediation of many witnesses, i.e. the presbyters who were present at his ordination, and laid their hands on him, and who, by the part they took in it, gave their attestation to the charge. What Timothy received then has repeatedly been called his deposit, or talent of the catholic faith. This, in turn, he was to commit to trusty men, i.e. men who could be entrusted with the keeping of the deposit. They, in their turn, were to teach others, so that they also could be entrusted with the deposit. Thus there was to be a regular succession of teachers for the handing down of the truth. There is a place assigned to tradition here; but, as it is made to depend on the trustworthiness of each individual in the chain of succession, we must think of a tradition that is to be tested by Scripture. At the same time, there is a handing down of Scripture truth with traditional associations embodying the Church's thinking out of the truth, and, if this is what it ought to be, then it is important that it should be handed down by means of a regular succession of teachers. All encouragement, then, is to be given to the proper education of young men for the ministry; and yet a theological institution will fail of its end unless there is the proper keeping up of the Church's life, which is needed to influence the right class of young men to devote themselves to the ministry.

II. THE CHRISTIAN MINISTER IS TO BE PREPARED FOR HARDSHIP . Three figures suggestive of hard service.

1 . The soldier. "Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier on service entangleth himself in the affairs of this life; that he may please him who enrolled him as a soldier." The soldier, above others, has to have his mind made up to experiencing hardship. He has to leave home and friends. He may have to encounter hardships on the march. He has especially to face the hardships and dangers of the battlefield, "seeking the bubble reputation, even in the cannon's mouth." So the Christian minister is, in a special manner, a soldier of Christ Jesus. He is one whom Christ has in a solemn way bound to himself, he has to fight under Christ and for Christ in an unfriendly world; and he need not be surprised if he is called upon to experience the hardships of a soldier. Let Timothy, then, willingly, nobly, take his part along with Paul and other soldiers of Christ. But the apostle draws attention to a special condition of excellence in a soldier. He does not entangle himself in the affairs and businesses of this life. In choosing to be enrolled under a commander, he leaves his former employment behind. He is henceforth at the will of his commander for whatever hard service he may need him. Especially does this condition apply to a soldier on service. Before entering on a campaign, he would need even to have family affairs arranged, that he may give himself up undistractedly to the service required of him. Only thus can he expect to approve himself to his commander. The Christian minister is in the same way to be unentangled with businesses, which he leaves to others. Paul was not always able to free himself from the necessity of making his own bread; but it is advisable that a minister should be left free in this respect, and it is wrong for him unnecessarily to divide his energies, or to mix himself up with what can be better done by others. For it is only when his mind is thoroughly undistracted and absorbed in service that he can approve himself to the great Commander.

2 . The athlete. "And if also a man contend in the games, he is not crowned, except he have contended lawfully." The Greeks were great admirers of physical perfection. Even their men of genius, like Plato, engaged in athletic contests on public occasions. Great encouragement was given to the athletic art. The successful athlete was crowned under very inspiriting circumstances. There were many subordinate rules to be observed by the athlete, but the great rule was to go through a course of very hard preparation. Only thus could he expect to be crowned when the occasion of the games came round. The minister is, in the same way, to aim at efficiency in his art. He has many examples of this placed before him. And there is great encouragement given by that royal Personage who is to preside on the occasion of award. The successful minister is to be crowned. There are many subordinate rules to be observed by him, but the great rule is that he is to subject himself to severe discipline. Only thus can he expect to have a fadeless crown for efficiency in the ministerial art.

3 . The husbandman. "The husbandman that laboureth must be the flat to partake of the fruits." The husbandman has to extract bread from the unwilling ground; and he may have to do this under unfavouring conditions of weather. He has need, then, for hard and persistent labour, especially in the season of spring. In the sweat of his face he has to prepare the soil and put in the seed. It is only the husbandman that thus exerts himself that comes to the front in the time of fruit. He is eating of the new corn, when the husbandman who has not exerted himself is far behind. In the same way the minister has to extract good products from unwilling hearts, and not always under favouring conditions from without. Hard work is needed to prepare the soil and to put in the seed. If he engages in hard work, he has the prospect of the farmer, viz. the fruit of his own labour. He will have joy in those for whom he has laboured—partly in this world, chiefly in the next world. It is the minister who does not grudge hard service that comes to the front in the enjoyment of fruit, while he who gives grudging service lags behind in the reward. Appended call to attention. "Consider what I say; for the Lord shall give thee understanding in all things." What Paul said was easily understood; but it needed to be thoroughly weighed so as to become spiritual strengthening to Timothy. It plainly meant that he was to set himself to hard work, and that he need not expect easy outward conditions of working; when the mind is made up to it, the hardest work is often felt to be light. This was a lesson which he wished Timothy to learn, with the Lord's promised and all-sufficient assistance.

III. ENCOURAGEMENTS UNDER HARDSHIP .

1 . Example of Christ.

2 . Example of Paul.

3 . A saying of the martyr times. "Faithful is the saying."

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