May 5 – 2 Timothy 2:1-13
First off, check out the overview video from The Bible Project about 2 Timothy. It’ll give you perspective on what exactly is going on in this letter and why Paul wrote it.
We’re starting our series part-way through the letter. In chapter 1 (which we’ll see next week) Paul opens his letter and begins some of his initial thoughts. Those are fleshed out a bit more in chapter 2, which we’ll be looking at this week. Paul, writing from a prison cell, provides his own context for some of the content here. When he talks about suffering for Jesus (2:3) he has in mind his own suffering (1:12). Paul knows first hand that staying faithful to Jesus is costly, so his words to Timothy, and to us, are a hard-won encouragement.
In 2:1-13 Paul is urging Timothy to persevere in the work of ministry. He uses the three metaphors of a soldier, an athlete, and a farmer to show the virtues of discipline and focus in the Christian life. He then follows these examples about discipline with, “Remember Christ.” This is in the same thought; Paul is now looking at Christ as the pinnacle picture of discipline, suffering, and obedience. As we strive to hold fast to Jesus through difficulty and suffering, we remember that Jesus held fast to his mission through the same, and that mission was to rescue us. Enduring these things for our sake, we now endure similar things for his sake. (Romans 8:17)
Paul bookends this call to hold fast with two encouraging reminders: it’s God’s grace that strengthens us (2:1) and Jesus’ resurrection that gives us a hope beyond suffering (2:11-13). Without these two things our striving would be pointless and fruitless. God’s grace frees us of any attempts to prove our worth or earn his affection through our striving, and Jesus’ resurrection means that we too will stand resurrected with him, which let’s us look at any suffering in this life as light and momentary. (2 Cor. 4:17)
Questions for Discussion
• Can someone read 2 Timothy 2:1-13 for us?
• What stood out to you from the passage?
• What can we learn from the metaphors of the soldier, athlete, and farmer?
– What are they striving for? What does it take to get what they’re striving for?
– What do you think Paul is communicating about the Christian life here?
• Why do you think growing as a disciple takes such discipline and effort? Why isn’t it easy?
• How do verses 8-13 communicate the relationship between Jesus’ work and our work?
• According to this whole passage, how do Jesus’ grace (2:1) and resurrection empower us to live the Christian life?