May 12 – 2 Timothy 1:8-14
If you haven’t yet, check out the summary video of 2 Timothy from the Bible Project. It really helps with context for why Paul says what he says here in this passage.
Shortly after Paul’s intro to the letter, with customary greetings and mentioning his prayer for the recipient, Paul launches into his exhortation from Timothy in verse 6. We’re starting in verse 8 this week, but note the “therefore” at the beginning of verse 8. Everything Paul says in our section for this week hangs on his statement in verse 7, that God has given us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
Because of this spirit we need not be ashamed of the gospel or God’s work in our lives because through them God demonstrates his power over any circumstance, hardship, or obstacle in the path of following Jesus. Verses 8-10 are just a summary of the gospel as evidence of this power. Now, that doesn’t mean we won’t deal with hardship; Paul’s chains are evidence of that (2:9). But it does mean that God is with us through these hardships and promises ultimate deliverance through the gospel, the true source of our confidence.
In this passage Paul addresses two main challenges: suffering and shame. Shame here isn’t feeling guilty or dirty over one’s sin, it’s feeling shame before others because of the gospel. In Paul’s time, much like today, being put in jail was a stain on one’s reputation. Being punished by the government made you an embarrassment to your family and friends. And yet Paul says that he would not allow himself to feel shame over these things because the gospel, not his reputation or appearances, is the only thing he can be confident in.
Shame over our belief is a shame we must seriously address in our lives. Very few of us will actually suffer like Paul was suffering for the gospel, but many of us would feel embarrassed if certain people saw us in a Bible study or overheard us talking about Jesus. Paul would remind us that our confidence can never rest securely in our appearances before others; the only unshakeable confidence we can have is in the one who has the power to save us. But, when we endure through suffering and when we put away shame of the gospel, Jesus becomes all the more precious to us. Paul’s short comment, “I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed,” is incredibly beautiful. Imagine him sitting, freezing in a dungeon in Rome, awaiting a possible execution, and having his heart warmed just by the thought of knowing his Savior. May we all trust Jesus that much.
Questions for Discussion
• Can someone read 2 Timothy 1:8-14 for us?
• What stood out to you from the passage?
• Looking at verse 8, how are shame and suffering connected here?
• What is Paul warning Timothy about in this passage?
• According to Paul, what keeps him from feeling ashamed?
• What does this passage have to say about the challenges we’ll face while following Jesus?
• How do we go about making sure these challenges don’t hinder our growth in following Jesus?