Life-Study of 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus and Philemonby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Second Timothy, the last Epistle written by Paul, opens with the words, “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus through the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus, to Timothy, beloved child: Grace, mercy, peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.” This book was written at a time when the churches established through the apostle’s ministry in the Gentile world were in a trend of degradation, and the apostle himself was confined in a remote prison. Many had turned away from him and forsaken him (1:15; 4:16), including even some of his co-workers (4:10). It was a discouraging and disappointing scene, especially to his young fellow-worker and spiritual child, Timothy. Due to this, in the opening of this encouraging, strengthening, and establishing Epistle, he confirmed to Timothy that he was an apostle of Christ, not only through the will of God, but also according to the promise of life which is in Christ. This implies that the churches may become degraded, and many of the saints may backslide in unfaithfulness, but the eternal life, the divine life, the uncreated life of God, promised by God in His holy writings and given to the apostle and all the believers, remains forever the same. With and upon this unchanging life the firm foundation of God has been laid and stands unshaken through all the tide of degradation (2:19). By such a life those who seek the Lord out of a pure heart are able to stand the trial of the church’s decline. This life, on which the apostle in his first Epistle charged Timothy and others to lay hold (6:12, 19), should be an encouragement and strengthening to him in perilous times.
Only in the two Timothys did the apostle include God’s mercy in the opening greeting of his Epistles. God’s mercy reaches farther than His grace. In the degraded situation of the churches, God’s mercy is needed.
When Paul was writing this Epistle, he was fully aware that the churches were declining. However, because he was one who laid hold on the promise of eternal life, he was not discouraged or disappointed. He had something within him which never changed—the eternal, uncreated, incorruptible life of God. No matter how the environment may change, this eternal life remains the same. Because he himself was encouraged in the life of God and not disappointed by the situation, Paul wrote the Second Epistle to Timothy not only as an encouragement and strengthening to a younger co-worker, but also as an inoculation for the entire Body of Christ against the decline of the church.
We should not regard 2 Timothy merely as a so-called pastoral book. If we have the proper insight, we shall realize that the divine thought within Paul was to inoculate the believers against the decline of the church. Paul foresaw this decline. However, deep within he was encouraged, not because he could understand matters according to logic, but because he laid hold of the eternal life promised by God in His holy writings. The very life promised by God in the Scriptures dwelt within Paul. Paul’s burden in writing this Epistle was both to encourage and to strengthen Timothy and also to inject a divine substance into the church in order to inoculate the church against the germ of decline. We praise the Lord that this inoculation has been effective. Yes, the church throughout the centuries has been ruined to a certain extent, but it has not been exterminated. Paul had the foresight to inoculate the church against decline. Even today we in the Lord’s recovery are enjoying the benefit of this inoculation.
My burden in this message is to consider eight basic elements of this inoculation. These divine provisions for the inoculation include a pure conscience, unfeigned faith, the divine gift, a strong spirit, eternal grace, incorruptible life, healthy words, and the indwelling Spirit. These ingredients of the marvelous dose administered by Paul are found in 1:1-14.
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