The Word

The emphasis on the Word of God in the second epistle to Timothy is striking. This was because the apostle had “finished the race” (2 Tim. 4: 7), and Timothy, his spiritual child, was now to be cast on the Scriptures alone for guidance and help.

   As a young man, Timothy could not be expected to have learned all that an older man might have learned, but he was urged to have “an outline of sound words” (2 Tim. 1: 13). Being “apt to teach” (2 Tim. 2: 24) would come later, but the outline was critical, for an unsound outline would produce a filling in of the same character. Nor is Paul talking about the mere formulation of principles in the mind, for all was to be “in faith and love which [are] in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 1: 13).

   None of this would come easily, for Timothy would have to “strive diligently to present thyself approved of God, a workman that has not to be ashamed, cutting in a straight line the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2: 15). This implies not only that the Word of God was to be divided up, but that it required spiritual skill to do so. Significantly, the context is “disputes of words” (v14) and “profane, vain babblings” (v16). Instead of mishandling Scripture, Timothy was to know which side of the dividing line each section of Scripture belonged. All Scripture is for us, but it is not all about us.

   As Paul’s frequent companion, Timothy was “thoroughly acquainted” with the apostle’s “persecutions” and “sufferings” (2 Tim. 3: 10), but he was not to be ashamed of the testimony, but to “proclaim the word” (2 Tim. 4: 2). This might be both “in season [and] out of season”. Again, he was to be “urgent”, for the time was short, and, according to the needs of his hearers, to “convict, rebuke” and “encourage”. Characteristically, it was a day when the mass would “not bear sound teaching” (v3), and so he would need to be marked by “all longsuffering and doctrine” (v2).

   It was a great blessing then that from a child Timothy had “known the sacred letters” (2 Tim. 3: 15)—the Jewish Scriptures—for “Every scripture [is] divinely inspired, and profitable for teaching, for conviction, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be complete, fully fitted to every good work” (vs16, 17). However, he was also acquainted with what had been revealed to Paul (see v10)—what we might call the Christian revelation. Hence in a day when many had “turned aside to fables” (2 Tim. 4: 4), Timothy was to “abide in those things which thou hast learned, and [of which] thou hast been fully persuaded, knowing of whom thou hast learned [them]” (2 Tim. 3: 14). Again, “the things thou hast heard of me in the presence of many witnesses, these entrust to faithful men, such as shall be competent to instruct others also” (2 Tim. 2: 2). Paul could say “I have kept the faith” (2 Tim. 4: 7)—his earnest desire was that the same would be said of Timothy, and those to follow him.