Thursday, October 2, 2014

DO NOT BE ASHAMED (2 Timothy Chapter 1)

2 Timothy 1:8, “Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God.”
2 Timothy 1:12, “But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me.”

Paul wrote 2nd Timothy from a Roman prison, apparently re-arrested as a part of Emperor Nero’s persecution of Christians.  The epistle represents the last of Paul’s letters and was written shortly before his martyrdom in about A.D. 67.  He wrote while bound in chains (Cf. 2 Timothy 2:9), from a cold prison cell (Cf. 2 Timothy 4:13), and facing imminent death (Cf. 2 Timothy 4:6). He wrote to his beloved son in the faith, Timothy (Cf. 2 Timothy 1:2), that he might encourage him to remain faithful in carrying out the ministry God has given to him (Cf. 2 Timothy 1:13-14).

Suffering is the prominent theme of chapter 1.  Paul was suffering for the cause of the gospel. His life in ministry had been characterized by troubles that had come his way as a direct result of his gospel preaching ministry.  He had previously written, in 2nd Corinthians, of that which he had endured to that time: “…with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death.  Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one.  Three times I was beaten with rods.  Once I was stoned.  Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false teachers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.  And, apart from such things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches” (2 Corinthians 11:23-28).  He had faced more troubles since.  And it is important to note that Paul could have avoided all of that.  All he would have had to do was to stop preaching the gospel of grace.  But that was something he could never do.  He even encouraged his beloved son in the faith to join with him in suffering the gospel (Cf. 2 Timothy 1:12).

Paul’s exhorted Timothy to not be “ashamed” of the gospel or Paul’s sufferings (Cf. 2 Timothy 1:8).  The Greek term translated “ashamed” is the strengthened form of a term meaning “to have a feeling of fear or shame which prevents a person from doing a thing” (Vine’s Expository Dictionary).  Paul was not deterred by fear or shame from suffering for the gospel.  Others were.  “All who are in Asia turned away” from him (Cf. 2 Timothy 1:15, 4:16), fearful of being associated with Paul.  But Paul stayed the course.  And Timothy need not be ashamed.  God had given him “a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7).  The Spirit of God works to embolden the saints.  Peter, who had timidly denied any association with the Lord to a slave girl, was later empowered by the Spirit to proclaim Him before the multitudes and the religious leaders.  Paul “boldly proclaimed the mystery of the gospel” by the power of the Spirit (Cf. Ephesians 6:19).  The message itself was a cause worth suffering for (Cf. 2 Timothy 1:12).  Paul was “not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16).  He was also not ashamed because of his absolute confidence in the Lord’s ability to guard that which Paul entrusted to Him.  “I know whom I have believed,” he said (Cf. 2 Timothy 1:12).

Charles Spurgeon commented on verse 12, “Paul does not say, ‘I know what I have believed,’ though that would have been true.  He does not say, ‘I know when I have believed,’ though that would have been correct.  Nor does he say, ‘I know how much I have believed,’ although he had well-weighed his faith.  He does not even say, ‘I know in whom I have believed.’  He says expressly, ‘I know whom I have believed,’ as much as to say, ‘I know the person into whose hand I have committed my present condition and my eternal destiny.  I know who he is, and I therefore, without any hesitation, leave myself in his hands.”

Scripture verses that have been put to music are easier for us to remember.  Such is the case with this particular verse, which serves as the basis for one of our favorite hymns, “I Know Whom I Have Believed.”  That hymn speaks of a lot of things we don’t know.  We don’t know why God has shown His wondrous grace to us.  We don’t know how He imparted saving faith to us.  We don’t know how the Spirit moves in the hearts of men.  We don’t know when the Lord will return.  But we, as believers, do know Whom we’ve believed.  We know Him and know of His love, His faithfulness, and His ability to guard that which we’ve entrusted to Him.  “But the Lord stood by me” Paul would also say (Cf. 2 Timothy 4:17).  With such a friend by one’s side there is no need to be ashamed.

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