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1. Reprioritize: Developing Apostolic Priorities (2 Timothy 1:1-7)

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From Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to further the promise of life in Christ Jesus, to Timothy, my dear child. Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord! I am thankful to God, whom I have served with a clear conscience as my ancestors did, when I remember you in my prayers as I do constantly night and day. As I remember your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy. I recall your sincere faith that was alive first in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice, and I am sure is in you. Because of this I remind you to rekindle God’s gift that you possess through the laying on of my hands. For God did not give us a Spirit of fear but of power and love and self-control.

2 Timothy 1:1-7 (NET)

What are your priorities? What are the main things that you focus on each week?

In 2 Timothy, Paul’s introduction and initial exhortations to Timothy reveal his priorities. In the same way that the first paragraph of an article or research paper often conveys a writer’s focus, this is true with Paul’s writing here. In the first verses, we see his apostolic priorities; however, these priorities are not restricted to the confines of this letter, but apply to Paul’s life as well.

Priorities are vital because they demonstrate what is important to us. Not only do they guide our decision-making, but they also represent our future. Consider Paul’s future in 2 Timothy 4:7-8:

I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith! Finally the crown of righteousness is reserved for me. The Lord, the righteous Judge, will award it to me in that day—and not to me only, but also to all who have set their affection on his appearing.

Our priorities affect our future. If we have the wrong priorities in life, we’ll make wrong decisions about family, career, and ministry and ultimately miss God’s best for our life and eternity. If we imitate Paul’s priorities, then it is possible to finish our life with the same outcome—that we fought the good fight, finished the race, and will be rewarded in heaven.

Paul writes this letter during his second imprisonment in Rome. Tradition tells us that after his first imprisonment, at the end of Acts, he was released for a short time, then imprisoned again and beheaded around AD 67 at the command of Nero.1 Unlike his first imprisonment where Paul was under house-arrest in Rome (Acts 28:16), Paul was located in a cold, damp, prison in the ground with a small opening for food to be dropped.2 It would have been especially cold in the winter, which is why Paul probably asked Timothy to bring a cloak before winter (2 Tim 4:13, 21). Paul knew he was about to die. At death, our priorities, or what should be our priorities, often become crystal clear.

As we study Paul’s apostolic priorities in 2 Timothy 1:1-7, we must ask ourselves: “What are my priorities, and do they line up with Paul’s?” Our priorities will affect where we will be in ten, twenty, or thirty years, and they will also affect our eternity.

Big Question: What apostolic priorities can be discerned from 2 Timothy 1:1-7, and how can we develop them in our lives?

The Priority of the Gospel

From Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to further the promise of life in Christ Jesus,

2 Timothy 1:1

Paul called himself an “apostle of Christ Jesus.” The word “apostle” literally means “sent one.” Paul was sent on orders from Christ.

What was Paul sent to do? Paul’s orders or apostolic mission was “to further the promise of life in Christ Jesus.” This means that he was called to share the promise of life—the gospel—with everyone. In fact, in Ephesians 3:7, Paul calls himself a “servant of this gospel.” He was a gospel servant in that he lived to share the message and defend it. The gospel should be our priority as well.

Application Question: How should the priority of the gospel affect our daily lives?

1. We should share the gospel with others.

No matter whether we are a student, professor, businessman, lawyer, or homemaker, we should never forget our call to share the gospel. Paul’s official trade was tentmaking, but his identity and purpose were not tied to how he made a living. His purpose was his apostolic call to share the gospel, and it should be the same for us. The Great Commission is to “go and make disciples,” and we all must be faithful to this call.

In Romans 15:20, we see something of Paul’s gospel strategy. He comments, “And in this way I desire to preach where Christ has not been named, so as not to build on another person’s foundation.” His desire to preach where Christ was not known guided his mission endeavors. Similarly, in order to share the gospel, we must strategize as well. We must pray and consider how we can best reach those around us and people throughout the world.

Are you still seeking to share the gospel? Is that your priority?

2. We must model the gospel through our relationships.

The gospel is not only something we preach with words but with our actions as well. In Ephesians 5:25-26, Paul says: “Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her to sanctify her by cleansing her with the washing of the water by the word.”

Paul told husbands to live out the gospel in their marriages. They should sacrifice for their wives, just as Christ sacrificed for the church. They should serve their wives; just as Christ served the disciples when he washed their feet with water. Husbands should teach their wives the Word and lead them to Bible preaching churches, just as Christ instructs his church. Marriages should demonstrate the gospel message.

In addition, Christ said this to his disciples in John 13:34: “‘I give you a new commandment—to love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” Believers should demonstrate the gospel by loving one another sacrificially. No doubt, when the early church sold all they had and gave to the poor, people saw the gospel (Acts 2:44-45).

Christians must demonstrate the gospel through their relationships. Saint Francis of Assisi said, “Preach the gospel everywhere you go, and, if necessary, use words.” I think this would be better stated, “Preach the gospel everywhere you go with both words and actions!”

3. We must pray for others to hear the gospel and be saved.

First Timothy 2:1-4 says,

First of all, then, I urge that requests, prayers, intercessions, and thanks be offered on behalf of all people, even for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. Such prayer for all is good and welcomed before God our Savior, since he wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

God is pleased when we pray for the salvation of others; therefore, we must give ourselves to this type of prayer often.

Is your priority the gospel—that all would know and experience it?

Application Question: What is your experience with evangelism? How would you encourage someone who struggles with sharing his faith? What has stopped you from sharing the gospel in the past?

The Priority of Discipleship

To Timothy, my dear child. Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord! I am thankful to God, whom I have served with a clear conscience as my ancestors did, when I remember you in my prayers as I do constantly night and day. As I remember your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy. I recall your sincere faith that was alive first in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice, and I am sure is in you.

2 Timothy 1:2-5

Paul’s second priority was discipleship. While in prison awaiting a death sentence, it would have been most natural for him to be consumed with his impending death; however, his focus was on Timothy and his spiritual growth and ministry.

Paul calls him a “dear child” and prays for “grace, mercy and peace” over his life (v. 2). He departs from his usual greeting of “grace and peace” only when addressing individual pastors like Timothy and Titus (cf. 1 Timothy 1:4, Titus 1:4). Interestingly, “Spurgeon used this verse, along with 1 Timothy 1:2 and Titus 1:4 to show that ministers need more mercy than others do.”3 He said:

Did you ever notice this one thing about Christian ministers, that they need even more mercy than other people? Although everybody needs mercy, ministers need it more than anybody else; and so we do, for if we are not faithful, we shall be greater sinners even than our hearers, and it needs much grace for us always to be faithful, and much mercy will be required to cover our shortcomings. So I shall take those three things to myself: ‘Grace, mercy, and peace.’ You may have the two, ‘Grace and peace,’ but I need mercy more than any of you; so I take it from my Lord’s loving hand, and I will trust, and not be afraid, despite all my shortcomings, and feebleness, and blunders, and mistakes, in the course of my whole ministry.4

Certainly, this should remind us to continually pray for grace, mercy, and peace for our pastors.

After this greeting, Paul describes his thoughts and memories of Timothy and his family. Many believe that Paul led Timothy to Christ during his first visit to Lystra in Acts 14; but it seems most likely that Timothy was led to faith by his Jewish Christian mother and grandmother. (Timothy’s father was a Greek unbeliever). Paul met Timothy while on his second missionary journey in Acts 16. While visiting Lystra, the believers talked well about Timothy, and Paul took him as a disciple and gospel-partner. Paul later left Timothy in Ephesus as one of their pastors.

When Paul refers to remembering Timothy’s “tears,” it’s not clear what event Paul was referring to, but it possibly refers to the time Paul was dragged off to prison in Rome.5 Paul “longed” or “yearned” to see him like any good mentor. One commentator called it a “home-sick yearning,” which effectively demonstrates how much Paul loved and cared for Timothy.6

As Paul prays for grace, mercy, and peace over Timothy, it is clear that he wants the best for Timothy, just like any good father. This is what true discipleship is—wanting another to grow up into all the graces and callings of God.

This selfless mentorship is hard to find. We live in a competitive society where everybody wants to be first, get the promotion, and win the race, even at the cost of relationships. Many people, including Christians, get jealous when others do well; however, true discipleship means wanting God’s best for others and investing in them so they can achieve it. It means thinking about them often, praying for them, and pouring our lives into theirs.

Christ’s Priority

As Paul focuses on discipleship right before his death, we are reminded of how Christ prioritized his disciples in his last hours. In John 17:9, he prays, “I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours” (paraphrase). Christ continues with prayers for their sanctification through the Word, for them to be kept from the world, for their protection from the devil, and their unity. Christ’s priority in life and death was discipleship—just as it was for Paul.

Application Question: What applications can we take from Paul’s priority of discipleship?

1. Every believer should have a disciple like Timothy.

Christ was a discipler; Paul was a discipler, and we should prioritize discipleship as well. Who are you staying up late at night thinking about and praying for? Who are you investing in?

Second Timothy 2:2 says, “And entrust what you heard me say in the presence of many others as witnesses to faithful people who will be competent to teach others as well.”

2. Every believer should have a mentor like Paul.

We all need mature believers who invest in our lives and help us grow. Where should we find such people? Sometimes in the Gospels, Christ approached people and said, “Follow me.” Other times, people approached him. We must take responsibility for getting around those we can learn from by watching and asking questions. Paul said this in Philippians 3:17: “Be imitators of me, brothers and sisters, and watch carefully those who are living this way, just as you have us as an example.”

Who are you keeping your eyes on and listening to in order to grow? Is your priority discipleship—your own and the discipleship of others?

Application Question: Who is your Paul and Timothy? Who has made the most impact in your spiritual life?

The Priority of Thankfulness

I am thankful to God, whom I have served with a clear conscience as my ancestors did, when I remember you in my prayers as I do constantly night and day.

2 Timothy 1:3

Next, we see Paul’s thankfulness. Paul said he thanked God in his prayers for Timothy all the time (night and day). This might not seem shocking to you, but it should. Again, remember the context: Paul was in prison about to die. Most people aren’t thankful when going through difficulty; typically, we complain, get angry at God and others, and maybe even become depressed.

Being thankful must be a priority—a deliberate pursuit—because if it isn’t, it won’t happen. Often, we take God’s blessings for granted and therefore never give him thanks. We don’t thank him for food, shelter, family, church, etc. And because we don’t thank him when things are good, we certainly don’t thank him when things are bad. We naturally default to whining and complaining.

Paul taught the Thessalonians who were experiencing a host of problems—persecution for their faith, false teaching in the church, and conflict among its members—to “in everything give thanks. For this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thess 5:18). This is necessary for us as well and, therefore, must be our priority.

Application Question: How can we practice giving thanks in all situations?

1. To give thanks, we must practice remembering God’s blessings.

Paul remembered Timothy and was grateful for him. No doubt part of the reason we often lack thankfulness is because we rarely take time to contemplate God’s blessings. Life is so fast-paced and busy, we often have little time to reflect on God’s goodness. Or, we address the urgent instead of the important.

Application Question: How can we practice remembering our blessings so we can give God thanks for them?

  • We can remember blessings by writing them down.

A great deal of Scripture consists of people writing down God’s acts of faithfulness such as delivering his people, conquering evil, doing various miracles, and ultimately making himself known. If we write down our blessings and answers to prayer, and occasionally revisit them, it helps us to remember God’s grace.

  • We can remember blessings by sharing them with others through testimony and song.

Psalm 105:1-2 says, “Give thanks to the Lord! Call on his name! Make known his accomplishments among the nations! Sing to him! Make music to him! Tell about all his miraculous deeds!” Personally, I have noticed that when sharing my testimony with others, I am often tremendously blessed (probably more than the people listening). It helps me remember God’s hand over various events of my life and how he’s brought me to where I am now. It renews my focus on his grace, even over my many failures. Often, singing songs of thanks helps us do the same thing.

2 To give thanks, we must practice it in trials as an act of discipline.

Romans 5:3-4 says, “Not only this, but we also rejoice in sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance, character, and character, hope.”

James 1:2-3 says, “My brothers and sisters, consider it nothing but joy when you fall into all sorts of trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance.”

As a discipline, we must give God thanks even in difficult times, because we understand God’s purpose in them. God allows waiting seasons to develop our patience. He allows us to encounter difficult people so we can develop kindness and deepen our love. God is always developing our faith and character through hardships. And because we understand this, we can give thanks in faith.

Are you thanking God daily for both your blessings and your trials? Is it your priority? Is it your discipline?

Application Question: Why is it difficult to live a life of thanksgiving? What are you thankful for now?

The Priority of Prayer

I am thankful to God, whom I have served with a clear conscience as my ancestors did, when I remember you in my prayers as I do constantly night and day.

2 Timothy 1:3

In conjunction with being thankful, Paul was prayerful. The word “constantly” simply means “unceasing.” It is amplified by the phrase “night and day,” again meaning all the time.

This is a common theme in many of Paul’s letters. Consider what he says to other churches:

For God, whom I serve in my spirit by preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness that I continually remember you and I always ask in my prayers, if perhaps now at last I may succeed in visiting you according to the will of God.

Romans 1:9-10

We always give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you,

Colossians 1:3

From Paul and Silvanus and Timothy, to the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace and peace to you! We thank God always for all of you as we mention you constantly in our prayers,

1 Thessalonians 1:1-2

Timothy was one of Paul’s prayer partners in praying for grace over the Thessalonian churches and others. No doubt, when Timothy read of Paul’s unceasing prayer, he remembered their day and night prayer sessions. He may have even shed a tear thinking about his faithful mentor’s intercession.

But again, what we must gain from this is how Paul prioritized prayer. He lifted up Timothy and the churches before God the Father. In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-17, Paul said, “Always rejoice, constantly pray”.

The word “constantly” in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-17 was used of a hacking cough in ancient Greek. It’s not that a person coughs every moment of the day; it’s that the cough is persistent, occurring again and again. It must be the same with prayer; we must go back to it throughout the day.

Application Question: How can we prioritize prayer?

To prioritize prayer, we must give up other things (including good things) to practice it. A good example of this is the apostles in Acts 6. The Greek widows were being neglected but, instead of the apostles allotting time to oversee this ministry, they had seven men selected to oversee it. The apostles gave up a great ministry opportunity to focus on prayer and the ministry of the Word. They prioritized prayer over other good things. In Acts 6:3-4, they said this:

But carefully select from among you, brothers, seven men who are well-attested, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this necessary task. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”

If we are going to prioritize prayer, we may need to give up some good things as well, such as: extra sleep, entertainment, fellowship, and even ministry opportunities.

Application Question: What are some disciplines that have helped your prayer life? What are some good things you may need to give up to focus on prayer?

The Priority of a Clear Conscience

I am thankful to God, whom I have served with a clear conscience as my ancestors did, when I remember you in my prayers as I do constantly night and day.

2 Timothy 1:3

Paul also prioritized his conscience. He mentions this often in his epistles. Consider the following:

This is the reason I do my best to always have a clear conscience toward God and toward people.

Acts 24:16

For our reason for confidence is this: the testimony of our conscience, that with pure motives and sincerity which are from God—not by human wisdom but by the grace of God—we conducted ourselves in the world, and all the more toward you.

2 Corinthians 1:12

Interpretation Question: What is the conscience and what is its function?

Our conscience is a God-given faculty in man that accuses us of sin and affirms us of righteousness. This remains in mankind from being made in the image of God. God will use it to judge people at Christ’s coming (Rom 2:14-16).

Application Question: Why is it important to keep a clear conscience?

If we neglect our conscience, then it will cease to work properly. When that happens, it becomes easier for us to sin and even fall away from God. Paul said this in 1 Timothy 1:18-19:

I put this charge before you, Timothy my child, in keeping with the prophecies once spoken about you, in order that with such encouragement you may fight the good fight. To do this you must hold firmly to faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and so have suffered shipwreck in regard to the faith.

Timothy was called to hold on to the faith and a good conscience so that he would not “shipwreck” his faith, as others did. “Faith” probably referred both to his doctrine and trust in God. To be “shipwrecked” means that one stops progressing spiritually or falls away all together.

There are many Christians who are shipwrecked. They stopped listening to the Holy Spirit, as he spoke to their conscience, and instead practiced sin. They started to use ungodly language, watch unhealthy entertainment, practice immorality, and now their conscience doesn’t even bother them about it—it has become hardened. They are shipwrecked and not progressing in their faith. Many may never return—proving that they’re not truly saved (Matt 7:23).

In fact, Paul says that when we start to live hypocritical lives—accepting and condoning sin—it hardens our conscience in such a way that it opens doors for demonic deception. Consider 1 Timothy 4:1-2:

Now the Spirit explicitly says that in the later times some will desert the faith and occupy themselves with deceiving spirits and demonic teachings, influenced by the hypocrisy of liars whose consciences are seared.

These former Christians lived hypocritical lives for so long that their conscience completely stopped working and demons deceived them into promoting and teaching false doctrine.

Are there any ways that you have ceased listening to your conscience? Are you allowing your language, relationships, entertainment, and goals to become worldly? When you do that, it puts your faith in a dangerous place. It is like driving a boat near high rocks—you could find yourself stranded and never get back on course.

Application Question: How can we keep a clear conscience?

1. We keep a clear conscience by practicing righteousness.

God not only uses our conscience to condemn sin, but also to challenge us to do what is right. If your conscience is challenging you to get involved with church, start serving, share the gospel, or challenge someone in sin, don’t neglect or ignore it; submit to it. By doing this, we develop a sensitivity to the Holy Spirit’s guidance (Phil 2:13).

2. We keep a clear conscience by forsaking our sin.

If we feel convicted about some sin, we should confess it and turn away from it.

3. We keep a clear conscience by turning away from anything, even good things, that might harm another’s conscience.

In 1 Corinthians 8:12-13, Paul said:

If you sin against your brothers or sisters in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. For this reason, if food causes my brother or sister to sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I may not cause one of them to sin.

Certainly, this applies to freedoms like enjoying entertainment, drinking, smoking, etc. If the use of our freedoms, might encourage others towards excess or bondage, then we should turn away from them. If people stumble because of us, our Lord will not hold us guiltless. Paul not only strove to keep his conscience clear, but also that of others.

4. We keep a clear conscience by informing it through God’s Word.

Our conscience is not a pure moral guide. It has been affected by both our sin nature and sin we’ve been exposed to. For that reason, it still needs to be informed by God’s Word. The more we saturate ourselves with God’s Word, the sharper and more reliable our conscience will be.

As believers, we must prioritize keeping a clear conscience.

Application Question: Why is it important to keep a clear conscience? Share a time when your conscience was pricked or challenged over some issue.

The Priority of Serving

I recall your sincere faith that was alive first in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice, and I am sure is in you. Because of this I remind you to rekindle God’s gift that you possess through the laying on of my hands.

2 Timothy 1:5-6

Interpretation Question: What does “Because of this” refer to, as Paul encourages Timothy to fan into flame his gift?

Paul says, “Because of this” rekindle God’s gift. What is this reason? He seems to be describing the sincere faith Timothy had which originally was in his mother and grandmother (v. 5). Essentially, Paul tells Timothy to serve and use his gift because he is saved. God did not save us just to go to heaven; he saved us to serve (Eph 2:10). Because of this, he gave each believer a spiritual gift (if not many “gifts”) to faithfully deploy in serving Christ and others.

“Rekindle” can also be translated “fan into flame” or “to keep the fire alive.”7 It is very possible that Timothy was neglecting his spiritual gift and not using it as he should. This could have been because of fear or timidity as implied by the passages below or simply because of spiritual apathy.

For God did not give us a Spirit of fear but of power and love and self-control.

2 Timothy 1:7

Do not neglect the spiritual gift you have, given to you and confirmed by prophetic words when the elders laid hands on you.

1 Timothy 4:14

We don’t know what Timothy’s specific gift was, but most likely it was preaching, as Paul emphasizes his need to preach and teach throughout 1 and 2 Timothy (cf. 1 Tim 4:13-14, 2 Tim 2:2, 2 Tim 2:15, 2 Tim 4:2-3).

Sadly, many Christians don’t serve and therefore neglect their gifts. Often, this happens because of fear as well. Like the servant with one talent in Matthew 25:25, they declare, “I was afraid” and therefore hide their gift in the ground. For others, spiritual laziness keeps them from serving (cf. Matt 25:26). They are more interested in other things and, therefore, never fulfill God’s will to serve and fan their gifts into flame.

Application Question: How do we find our spiritual gifts?

Spiritual gifts are given for the purpose of serving and edifying the body (1 Cor 12:7). Therefore, we commonly discover these gifts in the midst of serving. As you get involved with various ministries, you will find out what areas you have an aptitude in and the ones you don’t. Typically, your spiritual gift will both edify yourself and others (cf. 1 Cor 14:3-4). Because of this, the affirmation of others is important in the discernment process. If we think that we’re gifted in a certain area but others don’t affirm it, then we might not be gifted in that area.

Interpretation Question: What does it mean to rekindle or fan one’s gift into flame?

1. To fan our gifts may mean developing our gifts into their full potential.

Obviously, in keeping with the analogy of a fire getting stronger as one adds oxygen and wood, we must do the same with our gifts. Each person has a spiritual gift which was received at spiritual birth (1 Cor 12:7, 13) or, in exceptional cases, later. It seems that Timothy received this gift later, through the laying on of hands by Paul and the church elders, at his ordination (2 Tim 1:6, 1 Tim 4:14). Whatever way we receive our gifts, it is our responsibility to find them, use them, and develop them.

I remember while interviewing for my first pastoral position, I was asked if I was a good preacher. I said, “Preaching is my spiritual gift, but I still need to make it a skill.” A spiritual gift is like an athlete’s natural ability; the athlete must practice and be trained to develop that ability. It’s the same with our gifts; we must develop them to their full potential.

How do we develop them? We do this by continually using them. As we faithfully use them, they naturally get stronger. Also, we strengthen them by being trained and coached by mature believers. As they instruct and at times correct us, our gifts become stronger—they are fanned into flame.

2. To fan our gifts may also represent zeal in using them.

The metaphor of fire might also symbolize zeal. Each Christian must be zealous in the use of his or her gifts, instead of neglecting them. Romans 12:11 says, “Do not lag in zeal, be enthusiastic in spirit, serve the Lord.”

Are you zealous to serve God with your gift or content to stay on the sideline? Are you cultivating your gifts into skills—maximizing their potential? One of our priorities as disciples must be cultivating our spiritual gifts.

Application Question: What are your spiritual gifts and how do you feel God has called you to use them for the kingdom of God? How can you help other believers discover their spiritual gifts? How can believers keep up their zeal?

The Priority of Encouragement

For God did not give us a Spirit of fear but of power and love and self-control.

2 Timothy 1:7

David Guzik said, “In 1 and 2 Timothy there are no less than 25 different places where Paul encouraged Timothy to be bold, to not shy away from confrontation, to stand up where he needs to stand up and be strong.”8 Second Timothy 1:7 is one of those places. Timothy probably had a timid personality—dealing with false teachers, difficult church members, and undergoing persecution for the faith was not natural for his disposition. Therefore, Paul encouraged him with God’s resources. We must encourage ourselves and others with these same resources.

Observation Question: What resources do believers have because of God’s Spirit?

1. Believers have power through the Spirit.

In Ephesians 1:18-21, Paul prays for the believers to know the great power in them. It’s the same power that raised Christ from the dead, conquered powers and principalities, and seated Christ in the heavenlies. Often believers live below the power that is available to us. Therefore, we need to be awakened to God’s power working in us as well.

God has given us his power—power to serve, encourage others, conquer sin, and persevere through difficulties. However, we must recognize it, seek it, and walk in it by faith.

Are you walking in God’s power? Are you encouraging and praying for others to walk in it?

2. Believers have love through the Spirit.

Romans 5:5 says that the love of God has been shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. The same love that enabled God to send his Son to die on the cross, the love that cared for us while we were God’s enemies, and the love lavished on believers and unbelievers alike through common grace (cf. Matt 5:44-45) abides in us. Therefore, when God calls us to love our neighbor and bless our enemies, we are able to do so because God’s love is inside us.

No doubt, there were people in Timothy’s congregation who were unlovable and difficult; however, Paul encouraged him to love them through God’s Spirit.

Are you loving God and others?

3. Believers have self-discipline through the Spirit.

“Self-control” is sometimes translated as a “sound mind” or “self-discipline.” It means self-mastery—the ability to control one’s mind, emotions, and body. In order to complete whatever God has called us to, we must have discipline, which God graciously provides through his Spirit. One of the fruits of the Spirit is self-control (Gal 5:23).

Maybe Timothy, like many Christians before and after him, had many reasons for not being faithful in serving God: “But God, I’m not a morning person!”, “But God, I am afraid!”, “But God, that person and I just don’t get along!” Yes, and those reasons might be valid, but God has given us discipline to be faithful despite those realities.

We need to hear these encouragements often, and we need to share them with others. Second Peter 1:3 says, “I can pray this because his divine power has bestowed on us everything necessary for life and godliness through the rich knowledge of the one who called us by his own glory and excellence.” God has given us everything we need for life and godliness. His children lack nothing. Are you walking in his power? Are you encouraging others to do so? Encouragement must be one of our priorities, since his children are so prone to discouragement and sin.

Application Question: Why is it important to make encouragement a priority as we serve the Lord and others? How can we better encourage others?


Do we have apostolic priorities? Our priorities help us make decisions about career, family, and ministry. If we have wrong priorities, we’ll make wrong decisions and ultimately miss God’s best for our lives and eternity.

What were Paul’s apostolic priorities and are we imitating them? He had:

  1. The Priority of the Gospel
  2. The Priority of Discipleship
  3. The Priority of Thankfulness
  4. The Priority of Prayer
  5. The Priority of a Clear Conscience
  6. The Priority of Serving
  7. The Priority of Encouragement

Copyright © 2017, 2018 (2nd Edition) Gregory Brown

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Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®) Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved.

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1 Guzik, D. (2013). 2 Timothy (2 Ti 1:1). Santa Barbara, CA: David Guzik.

2 Guzik, D. (2013). 2 Timothy (2 Ti 1:1). Santa Barbara, CA: David Guzik.

3 Guzik, D. (2013). 2 Timothy (2 Ti 1:2–5). Santa Barbara, CA: David Guzik.

4 Guzik, D. (2013). 2 Timothy (2 Ti 1:2–5). Santa Barbara, CA: David Guzik.

5 MacDonald, W. (1995). Believers Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 2109). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

6 MacDonald, W. (1995). Believers Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 2109). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

7 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1995). 2 Timothy (p. 13). Chicago: Moody Press.

8 Guzik, D. (2013). 2 Timothy (2 Ti 1:6). Santa Barbara, CA: David Guzik.

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