From 2 Timothy 1-4
Paul has just been speaking about the godlessness in the last days. He rattles of a long list of descriptions of sinful behaviour. Its in this context that Paul instructs Timothy to do otherwise – to live a godly life. What does a godly life look like and how can Timothy become like that?
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Passage and Comments
Paul gives two sources by which he can do this.
10 You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, 11 my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. (2 Tim 3.10-11)
The first is Paul himself. He asks Timothy to keep looking at him. To keep following his example. Paul is fairly confident of his moral example to in front of others. Paul mentions persecution which seems to be a common theme in his letters (remember Thessalonians). Paul’s example is one which is under trial and difficulty. But his life demonstrates hope. There have been times where Paul was rescued by the Lord.
12 Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. (2 Tim 3.12-13)
Gulp. ‘All who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted’. Perhaps it is the combination of the two which draws the persecution. Its human nature to like things similar to ourselves. If something stands out and is different, we tend to fear it. Paul characteristically differentiates between the evil and the good. Evil people will keep on getting worse. Implied is the reverse – good people will keep on improving. Paul wants Timothy to improve.
14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it (2 Tim 3.14)
Paul acknowledges Timothy is already pursuing godliness (2 Tim 3.10). Paul instructs him to keep doing so.
15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Tim 3.15-17)
Here are some famous statements regarding the power and authority of scripture. None other than the power and authority of God stands behind the written words of the bible, because they are God breathed (θεόπνευστος theopneustos).
The point of Paul’s statements are that the scriptures can help him continue growing in godliness (2 Tim 3.12), improving (2 Tim 3.13-14) and doing good (2 Tim 3.17). They are able to ‘make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus’. Hence the list of functions it performs – teaching, reproof, correction and training – in righteousness. Paul wants Timothy to be righteous in attitude and behaviour.
Paul’s statement ‘through faith in Christ Jesus’ may suggest the scriptures should be read in the light of the revelation of Christ. Or perhaps he is alluding to the Christ like life he expects believers to live since they are united to Christ.
Paul said, ‘All who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted’. If we strive to be different to the world in our behaviour and our beliefs we will come under fire. The question is are we experiencing persecution? Perhaps we are and we don’t know it. Are we living differently in a way that draws persecution?
Is growing in godliness a goal for our lives? If so we need to keep reading the God breathed scriptures in the light of Christ.
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