From Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by God’s will, sent to proclaim the promised life which we have in union with Christ Jesus, to Timothy, my dear son: May God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord give you grace, mercy and peace.
I give thanks to God, whom I serve with a clear conscience, as my ancestors did. I thank him as I remember you always in my prayers night and day. I remember your tears, and I want to see you very much, so that I may be filled with joy. I remember the sincere faith you have, the kind of faith that your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice also had. I am sure that you have it also. For this reason I remind you to keep alive the gift that God gave you when I laid my hands on you. For the Spirit that God has given us does not make us timid; instead, his Spirit fills us with power, love, and self-control. Do not be ashamed then, of witnessing for our Lord; nor be ashamed of me, a prisoner for Christ’s sake. Instead, take your part in suffering for the Good News, as God gives you the strength to do it. He saved us and called us to be his own people, not because of what we have done, but because of his own purpose and grace. He gave us this grace by means of Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but now it has been revealed to us through the coming of our Saviour, Christ Jesus. He has ended the power of death and through the gospel has revealed immortal life.
God has appointed me as an apostle and teacher to proclaim the Good News, and it is for this reason that I suffer these things. But I am still full of confidence, because I know whom I have trusted, and I am sure that he is able to keep safe until that Day what he has entrusted to me. Hold firmly to the true words that I taught you, as the example for you to follow, and remain in the faith and love that are ours in union with Christ Jesus. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, who lives in us, keep the good things that have been entrusted to you.
You know that everyone in the province of Asia, including Phygelus and Hermogenes, has deserted me. May the Lord show mercy to the family of Onesiphorus, because he cheered me up many times. He was not ashamed that I was in prison, but as soon as he arrived in Rome, he started looking for me until he found me. May the Lord grant him his mercy on that Day! And you know very well how much he did for me in Ephesus.
We learn, in this letter to Timothy, of the personalities of the people actively involved in creating the life of the early churches, and their relationships to one another in family life and in the congregations. Still more powerfully, we witness the giving of God who saves us and calls us to proclaim the promised life that “we have in union with Christ Jesus” . Paul makes it clear in the opening words of greeting that he is an apostle of Christ Jesus “by God’s will”. Paul met Timothy on his first missionary journey in Asia Minor at Lystra where Timothy lived. Timothy was a Christian who was well thought of by those around him. His mother, Eunice, and his grandmother, Lois, both Jewish, were also Christians and members of the local congregation. Timothy’s father was Greek (Acts. 16 v 1-3). The name Timothy, in Greek, means “honouring God”. Paul knew the family. Paul and Timothy had a long association developing and supporting the life of the early churches. Timothy became an evangelist under Paul’s guidance, helping with the long ministry of teaching at Ephesus and acting as messenger taking letters from Ephesus to Corinth. His manner was reserved and gentle in contrast with the apostle Paul’s. Paul had a trusting relationship with Timothy addressing him at the opening of this second letter as “my dear son”.
I wonder how many contemporary Church leaders have been influenced by Christian family backgrounds to take up their vocation to proclaim the “promised life which we have in union with Christ Jesus”. As a child of the manse, I grew up recognising Sundays as special days of the week. They were a different kind of working day geared to meeting the commitments of Sunday morning service, Sunday School and Sunday evening worship too. There was Sunday – best wear and Sunday lunch (no playing cricket outside in the street either). Sunday was chiefly a day for quiet and devotion. There was the regular sharing in worship and fellowship, as well as some social times, with the members of the ‘family’ of the church those who were called to be God’s “own people not because of what we have done, but because of his own purpose and grace.”
Timothy is encouraged to trust that God will keep safe the gifts God gave to him through Paul in the laying on of hands. He must hold firmly to the “true words” Paul taught him and remain in the faith and the love of God through the power of the Holy Spirit “who lives in us”. The same Spirit will supply the sustaining power to endure through the suffering of humiliation, rejection, even imprisonment and maybe death, for the Good News. There is no shame in these circumstances. Paul, apostle and Timothy’s mentor, was in prison in Rome..”a prisoner for Christ’s sake” simultaneously deserted by “everyone in the province of Asia”. The outstanding exception in this bleak picture is the caring conduct of Onesiphorus who worked for Paul in Ephesus and seeks him out in Rome. It is heart-warming to hear Paul’s appreciation of Onesiphorus’ companionship, a man who “cheered me up many times”.
Loving God We thank you for family, friends and others in the Church who have inspired us to find our own relationship with You. Please bless us and keep us. We are Your people not because of what we have done but because of Your own purpose and grace. Amen
Pamela Dowling is an Elder who served at the former St John’s URC in Forest Hill.