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Lesson 4: The Hard Work of Faithfulness (2 Timothy 2:1-13)

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Day One Study—Get the Big Picture

What does the Bible say?

Read 2 Timothy 1:13-2:13, (including verses from the last lesson). Ask the Lord Jesus to teach you through His Word.

If possible, print out the verses we are studying. Use your own method (colored pencils, lines, shapes) to mark 1) anything that grabs your attention, 2) words you want to understand, and 3) anything repeated in this passage. Draw arrows between thoughts that connect. Put a star  next to anything you think relates to being faithful or staying faithful.

1. What grabbed your attention from these verses?

2. What verses or specific words do you want to understand better?

3. What topics are repeated in this passage or continue an earlier discussion in this letter?

4. What verses illustrate or help you understand what staying faithful looks like?

5. From this lesson’s passage, choose one verse to dwell upon all week long. Write it in the space below. Ask God to teach you through this verse.

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

Day Two Study

Read 2 Timothy 2:1-13. Ask the Lord Jesus to teach you through His Word.

What does it mean?

As a result of Paul’s missionary journeys and the spread of the gospel of Jesus Christ, local churches were formed. These believers met in homes or wherever they could gather to continue in the apostles’ teachings and to live out the Christian faith among one another as well as among the unbelieving world.

When Paul visited Ephesus after his release from Roman house arrest (Acts 28:31), he discovered that the church had been plagued with all kinds of spiritual problems during his absence. The city itself, with all of its corruption and idolatry, was a spiritual battleground for the congregation of believers.

Having faithfully done all he could to develop and teach the truths of the gospel throughout his ministry, Paul is concerned near the end of his life that his faithful disciples would entrust these truths to other faithful Christians who would in turn entrust them to others. Paul viewed this body of sound Christian doctrine as a special stewardship from God that must be managed with great care. Since this truth leads to godliness by pointing believers to Jesus Christ, it was the most valuable of treasures. The local church leaders were not only to faithfully teach truth to their congregations but also to sternly resist all attempts to undermine, pollute, or attack the true gospel.

6. In 2 Timothy 2:1, what is Paul urging his spiritual son Timothy to do?

7. Why would Paul tell Timothy to be strong in “grace” rather than something like “knowledge?” See also 2 Timothy 1:9 and 4:17.

Dependent Living: The Greek word endunamoo indicates the need for continual dependence on God. The believer is empowered for strength by God. It is a gift included in God’s grace.

8. How did Timothy learn about God’s gospel of grace (v. 2)?

Focus on the Meaning: Many heard the exact same teaching from Paul. Timothy heard it over and over as he traveled with Paul for many years.

9. Paul uses the word “entrust” several times in this letter. Review 1:12, 14. To whom is Timothy supposed to entrust the gospel? Note: Some older translations say “men,” but the Greek word used refers to people, both men and women.

Think About It: The [Christian] teacher is a link in the living chain which stretches unbroken from this present moment back to Jesus Christ. The glory of teaching is that it links the present with the earthly life of Jesus Christ. (Constables Notes on 2 Timothy 2017 Edition, p. 17)

10. Why would faithfulness (or reliability) be more important than position or influence?

11. As Timothy preached and taught, he would face suffering, but he should also be able to stay faithful and endure (verse 3). In verses 4-6, Paul uses 3 vivid examples to motivate his beloved son Timothy, illustrating the attitude that Christ’s followers must have to stay faithful through suffering. What are the three examples?

12. Let’s examine Paul’s illustration of a good soldier.

  • What are the characteristics of a good soldier on active duty (vv. 3-4)?
  • In what ways does a believer “endure” or “suffer” hardship in the same manner as a soldier on active duty?

Historical Insight: A Roman soldier would not be distracted by “civilian” concerns: entertainment, politics, or weather, and other non-military matters that do not relate to their specific mission. They had a job to do. Instead, his focus was on fulfilling the orders of his commander. In this word picture, Christ is the one who has enlisted Timothy. His goal was the mission for which God had called him.

13. Paul stressed the importance of remaining free from entanglement with “civilian affairs” (pursuits of life) as a soldier does. The key here is the phrase, “gets entangled.”

  • What does it mean to become entangled in something?
  • What is the difference between taking care of legitimate daily needs and getting entangled in the pursuits of life that surround us?
  • Why should we avoid that which would entangle us in order to stay faithful to Christ? See also 2 Peter 2:20-21.

Focus on the Meaning: Believers must still live in this world and make a living to support themselves. But, we should use whatever task we are engaged upon to live out and to demonstrate our Christianity… Paul’s appeal shows the importance of developing an ability to distinguish between doing good things and doing the best things. Servants of Christ are not merely to be well-rounded dabblers in all types of trivial pursuits. But, we are to be tough-minded devotees of Christ who constantly choose the right priorities from a list of potential selections. (Dr. Constables Notes on 2 Timothy 2017 Edition, pp. 17-18)

14. Paul then turned to the image of a competitor in the Greek games (verse 5). How does being an athlete relate to being a faithful Christian?

15. The third example is that of a farmer. What does this example have to do with being a faithful Christian?

Focus on the Meaning: Paul isolated three aspects of wholeheartedness that should be found in Timothy and in us: The dedication of a good soldier, the law-abiding obedience of a good athlete, and the painstaking labor of a good farmer. Without these we cannot expect results. There will be no victory for the soldier unless he gives himself to his soldiering, no wreath for the athlete unless he keeps the rules, and no harvest for the farmer unless he toils at his farming. (John Stott, Standing Firm in the Truth)

16. How does a believer avoid getting entangled in the trappings of daily life? See 2 Timothy 1:7,14; 2:1,7; and Matthew 6:33.

What application will you make to stay faithful to God?

17. Do you consider yourself a faithful or reliable person who can “guard” the truth of Jesus Christ and teach it to others? If so, how are you taking opportunities to do this in your life?

18. It’s easy to get entangled with things that are not wrong in themselves. They’re wrong because they distract us from seeking first the kingdom of God. There is nothing wrong with a limited use of sports or computers or recreation or hobbies, if you use them to refresh you for the battle. But it’s easy for these legitimate things to suck you into the quicksand and before you know it, you’re not seeking first God’s kingdom.

Do you recognize some areas of entanglement that affect your dedication to serve God faithfully? Ask God to help you get untangled from at least one of them this week.

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

Day Three Study

Read 2 Timothy 2:1-13. Ask the Lord Jesus to teach you through His Word.

The context of 2 Timothy 2 is staying faithful even in the midst of suffering. There is a reward for staying faithful.

19. After reading vv. 1-7, Paul’s next words should also motivate Timothy to stay faithful. Of what does Paul remind his beloved son in vv. 8-10?

Historical Insight: Under Nero’s persecution, many non-Christians view3ed Christians as serious criminals. Timothy needed to remember that the Word of God was just as powerful to change lives as ever. Its power was as great as it ever was—even though one of its champion defenders was in chains. As the hymn, A Mighty Fortress Is Our God, says, “The body they may kill; God’s truth abideth still; His kingdom is forever.” (Dr. Constable’s Notes on 2 Timothy 2017 Edition, pp. 20-21.

A popular saying

Verses 11-13 are likely an early Christian hymn. The context of this whole chapter, and even the whole letter of 2nd Timothy, is believers staying faithful to Christ until “that day” when there will be reward for doing so. See 2 Timothy 1:12,18. There are rewards for staying faithful (as in the soldier, athlete, and farmer in 2 Timothy 2:3-6 whose rewards are a satisfied commander, victor’s crown and a share of the harvest). The opposite to staying faithful (having strong faith) is becoming faithless (having weak faith) to Christ and losing the rewards.

One of the biggest problems the church was facing at that time was that of Christians, being gripped with fear, denying Christ in front of their tormentors and agreeing to worship Caesar in order to save their own lives.

Scriptural Insight: Remember that our salvation is achieved by grace through faith alone. Paul reinforces this in 2 Timothy 1:8-11. We receive the very life of Christ as He comes to permanently live inside of us through His Holy Spirit. In essence, when God looks upon us, He sees His Son Jesus. We are members of His body. Once we have trusted in Christ, we are no longer judged by our sins. But, our works are judged, and we receive rewards in heaven based on that. See 1 Corinthians 3:11-15; and 2 Corinthians 5:10.

Now, we can look at verses 11-13 with greater understanding.

20. The first two couplets refer to those who are faithful and the rewards they receive. What are the choices and rewards?

If we have died with Him, we will also live with Him. If we endure, we will also reign with Him.

Focus on the Meaning: The best of life on Earth is a glimpse of Heaven; the worst of life is a glimpse of Hell. For Christians, this present life is the closest they will come to Hell. For unbelievers, it is the closest they will come to Heaven. (Randy Alcorn, Heaven)

The last two couplets refer to those who deny Christ / are faithless and the consequences (loss of reward). Let’s look at them separately.

21. If we deny Him, He will also deny us. (end of v. 12)

  • What does it mean to “deny” someone something?

The same word “deny” was used of Peter in Mark. Read Mark 14:68, 70 and Luke 22:31-34. Consider Peter’s example:

  • What did he choose to do after being warned about his denial?
  • What do you think he lost as a result of his choice?
  • What did Jesus tell him to do after he repented from that choice (Luke 22:31)?

Focus on the Meaning: The context of the words in 2 Timothy 2 is addressed to believers not unbelievers. We know “deny” cannot mean to lose one’s salvation (see “Scriptural Insight” above) because our salvation is based on God’s grace not our works.

Paul repeatedly talks about the day of Christ’s returning (“that day”). Based on the context and background, our best understanding of “He will deny us” is that if we as Christians deny Christ here on earth, He will deny us the rewards in heaven that would have been ours if we had endured with Him, remaining faithful to the end. It would be like a parent denying their child a privilege because of something they should not have done.

According to 1 Corinthians 3:11-15 and 2 Corinthians 5:10, believers will be judged in heaven by Jesus and rewarded according to how we lived our lives here on earth. Even if our lives were lived in such a way that didn’t merit any rewards once we reach heaven, we suffer loss yet still are saved because of the faithfulness of God. It is possible, however, for persecution to surface those who are pretending to be Christians but have never placed their faith in Jesus Christ.

We will see examples in 2 Timothy 3 of these “fakers” who have no faith in Christ.

22. If we are faithless, He will remain faithful for He cannot deny Himself. (v. 13)

  • What does it mean to be faithless (literally, “betray a trust”)?
  • Read Galatians 2:20. How does this contribute to our understanding of v. 13?
  • What is the promise to us even if we fail and are faithless in a time of suffering?

What application will you make to stay faithful to God?

23. Persecution tests the believer’s commitment to Christ.

  • Of what was Paul convinced (2 Timothy 1:12)? Do you have this same conviction and commitment to Christ?
  • What have you learned in this lesson that might help you go through a time of intense persecution or even imprisonment for your faith?

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

© 2019.

Related Topics: Curriculum

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