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Lesson 1: Truth and Faithfulness

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Day One Study

The ABCs of 2nd Timothy—Author, Background, and Context

Like any book you read, it always helps to know a bit about the author, the background setting for the story (i.e., past, present, future), and where the book fits into a series (that’s the context). The same is true of Bible books.

Author

Paul identifies himself as the author of this letter written to Timothy. Paul, whose Hebrew name was Saul, was born in Tarsus, a major Roman city on the coast of southeast Asia Minor. Tarsus was the center for the tent making industry. Paul was trained in that craft as his occupation (his primary paying profession). As a Jewish Pharisee from the tribe of Benjamin, Paul was educated at the feet of Gamaliel, a well-respected rabbi of the day. Paul was an ardent persecutor of the early church until his life-changing conversion to Christianity.

After believing in Jesus Christ as his Savior, Paul was sent by God as an apostle to take the gospel to the Gentiles. This was an amazing about-face for a committed Pharisee like Paul who ordinarily would have nothing to do with Gentiles. Paul wrote 13 letters that are included in the New Testament. Tradition has it that Paul was beheaded shortly after he wrote 2nd Timothy in 67 A.D. (You can glean more about Pauls background from Acts 8:3; 9:1-31; 22:3-5; 26:9-11; and Galatians 1:11-24.)

Background

At the end of Paul’s third missionary journey, he traveled to Jerusalem in the spring of 57 A.D. to deliver a collected offering from the Gentile churches to help the impoverished Jewish Christians. After being accused by the Jews of some technical violation of the Jewish Law, Paul was arrested by the Romans and spent the next two years in Caesarea as a prisoner (Acts 22-26). Paul appealed to Caesar so he was sent to Rome. There he lived under house arrest for another two years (Acts 27-28).

After Paul’s release from this first Roman imprisonment (around 62 A.D.), he and Timothy traveled to Ephesus where Timothy was left to care for the house churches there. Paul wrote a letter (1st Timothy) around 64 A.D. to encourage Timothy in his work. Paul also went to Crete to establish churches and left Titus to oversee the work. He wrote a letter to Titus shortly thereafter. Some say Paul went to Spain, but we have no letters to confirm that. Around 67 A.D., Paul was again arrested during a time of great persecution that began three years earlier.

In 64 A.D., the Emperor Nero accused the Christians of burning Rome and began an all-out assault on them. Christians were mostly from the humbler walks of life, without prestige or influence, and many of them were slaves. The Roman historian Tacitus wrote that the Christians did not burn Rome. But, somebody had to be made the scapegoat for it. Christians were targeted as “haters of mankind” because of their refusal to participate in Roman social life that was intertwined with pagan worship. In and around Rome, scores of Christians were arrested and put to death in the cruelest ways.

It was in the wake of this persecution that Paul was arrested in Asia Minor (western Turkey) and brought back to Rome. Whatever the crime was, his trial had proceeded far enough that he knew there was no hope of escape. In contrast to his first imprisonment when he lived in a rented house (Acts 28:30), church tradition says that he was placed in the Mamertine Prison. Few prisons were as dim, dank, and dirty as the lower chamber Paul occupied. His friends even had a hard time finding out where he was being kept. Prisoners in the ancient world were rarely sent to prison as punishment. Rather, prisons typically served as holding cells for those awaiting trial or execution.

While waiting in the Roman dungeon for the “time of his departure,” he wrote this last letter to Timothy, his “beloved son” and co-worker. Even in that dark hour, facing certain execution, Paul expresses no hint of regret for giving his life to the service of Christ and the Church. He was still confident that the Church would stay triumphant. And, Paul knew that at his death he would go straight to the arms of His Lord Jesus Christ, whom he had loved and served so devotedly. (Adapted from various resources)

Context

Though 2nd Timothy is the last of Paul’s letters in our New Testament, it is placed right after the book of 1st Timothy and before the letters to Titus and Philemon. This letter we know as 2nd Timothy is one of the most tender and moving of all of Paul’s letters. It contains a lot of the same encouragement Paul gave in his first letter to Timothy plus an appeal for Timothy to get to Rome to be with him before winter.

1. What grabbed your attention from the ABCs above?

Get the Big Picture

Ask the Lord Jesus to teach you through His Word.

Paul’s three letters—1st Timothy, 2nd Timothy and Titus—are called “pastoral epistles” because for the most part they are Paul’s counsel to his assistants who served in the pastoral or shepherd-like function of the local churches in the regions of Ephesus and Crete.

The three letters address the issues facing local churches just like the one you are attending now—issues faced by the pastoral leaders as well as the members. Five major themes are woven throughout Paul’s instruction to Timothy and Titus.

1) Teach and maintain truth and sound doctrine while guarding against error.

2) Identify leaders who will faithfully teach truth.

3) Guard the reputation of the church so that God may not be dishonored.

4) Do good deeds demonstrating the truth you believe.

5) Live dependently on Christ’s power for all of the above.

These themes are especially evident in 1st Timothy and Titus, but you will see glimpses of them in 2nd Timothy as well. Ready to get started? Let’s go!

What does the Bible say? (This is the “Observation” step in the process of Bible Study.)

Where do we begin? Have you ever heard the saying, “You can’t see the forest for the trees?” The best way to study any book of the Bible is to begin with the “forest” (survey the whole) and then proceed to the “trees” (the individual parts). We will start by getting an overview of what Paul wrote in his first letter to Timothy.

2. Paul wrote 1st Timothy just a short time before he wrote 2nd Timothy. In his second letter, Paul reminds Timothy of things he told him in the first letter. So, read 1st Timothy chapters 1, 4, and 6 to get a feel for what he told his friend and ministry partner in that letter, especially related to Theme #1 mentioned above: Teach and maintain truth and sound doctrine while guarding against error. Make notes below.

Respond to the Lord about what He’s shown you today.

Day Two Study

Today, you will get an overview of 2nd Timothy.

What does the Bible say? (This is the “Observation” step in the process of Bible Study.)

Ask the Lord Jesus to teach you through His Word.

3. Read all of 2nd Timothy. Notice repeated words and phrases as well as anything that grabs your attention. Pay attention to anything repeated from 1st Timothy. What did you notice?

What does it mean? (This is the “Interpretation” step in the process of Bible Study.)

Now, we will look at one theme in 2nd Timothy (common to Paul’s pastoral letters): Teach and maintain truth and sound doctrine while guarding against error. This theme really breaks down into positive versus negative aspects. You will see both in 2nd Timothy. We’ll look at the positive aspect today and the negative aspect tomorrow.

4. The POSITIVE: “teach and maintain truth and sound doctrine.” Read the following verses. What does Paul emphasize in each?

  • 2 Timothy 1:8-10—
  • 2 Timothy 1:13-14—
  • 2 Timothy 2:2—
  • 2 Timothy 2:15—
  • 2 Timothy 3:14-15—
  • 2 Timothy 3:16-17—
  • 2 Timothy 4:2—

5. Once again, Paul emphasizes over and over a common message. In your own words, why is it necessary to teach and maintain truth and sound doctrine?

Respond to the Lord about what He’s shown you today.

Day Three Study

Ask the Lord Jesus to teach you through His Word.

What does it mean? (This is the “Interpretation” step in the process of Bible Study.)

In the last section, you looked at the positive aspect of the theme, “teach and maintain truth and sound doctrine while guarding against error.” In today’s study, you will look at the negative part.

6. The NEGATIVE: “guard against error.” Read the following verses to see what we are supposed to avoid when we encounter error and why.

  • 2 Timothy 2:14 —
  • 2 Timothy 2:16-18 —
  • 2 Timothy 2:23 —

7. Read 2 Timothy 3:2-7 and 4:3-4. Where does error lead?

8. Once again, Paul emphasizes over and over a common message. In your own words, what is Paul teaching them to guard against…and why?

What application will you make to stay faithful to God? (This is the “Application” step in the process of Bible Study.)

9. If Paul made so many comments on the same subject (truth versus error), it should be taken seriously.

  • What could happen to the local church…therefore you…if we do not seriously apply Paul’s message to stay faithful to God’s truth and guard against error?
  • What specific actions can you or do you take in your daily life to ensure that you don’t wander away from God’s truth?

What does it mean to “Stay Faithful?”

Jesus told a parable to His disciples in Matthew 25. A man entrusts some treasure to his servants while he goes away. When he comes back, he evaluates how faithful the servants were with the treasure. The master’s response to the two faithful servants is no doubt familiar to you,

“Well done, good and faithful slave! You have been faithful with a few things. I will put you in charge of many things. Enter into the joy of your master.” (Matthew 25:23)

The definition of faithful is “unwavering in belief, consistently loyal.” We all want those closest to us—spouse, family members, friends, co-workers—to remain faithful to us. What security we feel when we know their loyalty is consistent and unwavering! Faithfulness is an important character quality.

Our God is a faithful God. He is consistently loyal to those whom He loves and who place their trust in Him. God desires that we also be faithful to Him—to be unwavering in belief and consistently loyal to Him—throughout our spiritual walk. And, our God is the One Who protects and preserves that which He has entrusted to us—He enables us to live faithfully as we choose to do so.

Focus on the Meaning: In this epistle, Paul emphasized the importance of faithfulness: God’s faithfulness, Paul’s faithfulness, Timothy’s need to remain faithful, and the faithfulness or unfaithfulness of Paul’s fellow workers and other servants of Christ. Paul was counting on God being faithful and providing what He had promised, namely, eternal life in Christ. (Dr. Constables Notes on 2 Timothy 2017 Edition, p. 7)

Through this study of 2nd Timothy, you will learn how to make the choice to live faithfully to God every day for the rest of your life. And, He will help you to do that.

Respond to the Lord about what He’s shown you today.

© 2019.

Related Topics: Curriculum

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