Book information

Life-Study of 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus and Philemonby Witness Lee

ISBN: 0-87083-155-0
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry

Currently in: Chapter 14 of 28 Section 1 of 3

LIFE-STUDY OF SECOND TIMOTHY

MESSAGE TWO

THE BASIC FACTOR OF THE DECLINE— FORSAKING THE APOSTLE AND HIS MINISTRY

Scripture Reading: 2 Tim. 1:15-18

In this message we shall consider 1:15-18, verses which show that the basic factor of the decline consists in forsaking the apostle and his ministry. Although this portion of 2 Timothy is short, Paul must have had strong feelings when he wrote these words.

In 1:1-14 Paul covered many positive, encouraging, and strengthening matters. Based on his charge to Timothy in verses 1 through 7, Paul says in verse 8, “Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner; but suffer evil with the gospel according to the power of God.” Here the gospel is personified; it is regarded as a living person that is suffering persecution. Paul encouraged Timothy to suffer evil with the gospel according to the power of God.

In verse 9 Paul goes on to speak of God who “saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given to us in Christ Jesus before times eternal.” The purpose here refers to God’s goal, and grace refers to the means of reaching this goal. The grace to reach God’s goal was given to us in Christ Jesus “before times eternal,” that is, before the world began. Grace “has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus” (v. 10). Hence, grace did not come until the Lord Jesus came. John 1:17 indicates this: “The law was given through Moses; grace and reality came through Jesus Christ.” The grace which came through Jesus Christ is nothing less than the Triune God dispensed into us for our enjoyment. This grace carries out God’s purpose and enables us to reach His goal.

Grace works in two ways. It works negatively to nullify death, and it works positively to bring in life and incorruption. This work of grace is still taking place within us. Today, in the church life grace is nullifying death and bringing life and incorruption to light through the gospel. Although we heard the gospel preached in the past, we probably did not hear that the gospel of grace nullifies death and brings in life and incorruption.

On behalf of such a gospel, Paul was “appointed a herald, and an apostle, and a teacher” (v. 11). Paul was a herald to proclaim the gospel, an apostle to establish churches, and a teacher to instruct the churches and the saints in the details of the gospel. For the sake of this gospel, Paul suffered “these things.” However, he was not ashamed, for he knew the One whom he had believed and was persuaded that He was able to guard his deposit, to guard what he had committed unto Him (v. 12).

In verse 13 Paul charges Timothy, “Hold a pattern of healthy words which you heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.” Paul’s foregoing words to Timothy are a pattern of the healthy words which Timothy was to hold. We should hold such a pattern in faith, in the organic union with the Triune God, and in the divine love. Furthermore, according to verse 14, we should “guard the good deposit through the Holy Spirit Who dwells in us.” The good deposit here is equal to the healthy words. We should guard this deposit through the indwelling Holy Spirit. The more we consider all the matters covered in verses 1 through 14, the more we realize what riches these verses contain.


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