Sabbatical 2017

Sabbatical 2017
Mt 11:28

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Chronological Reading Plan for Dec 23, 2 Tim 1-4

Today's readings are 2 Tim 1-4. Tomorrow's are 2 Pet 1-3 and Jude.

2 Timothy is Paul's last letter, written very shortly before he was martyred. Paul knew he would be executed soon. As such, Paul pours his most vital teaching into what he has to say to Timothy. We would do well to pay careful attention to Paul's final words.

In 2 Tim 1, Paul mentions his suffering but frames it in light of the power of the gospel with an encouragement to keep the faith regardless of the circumstances. These are powerful words coming from a condemned man who had been abandoned by most of his friends! Rather than bemoaning his fate, Paul always points back to Christ and the promise of glory.

In 2 Tim 2:1-13, Paul admonishes Timothy not to get caught up in issues other than the spreading of the gospel. He calls Timothy to faithful devotion and self-discipline in service to the Lord. In the second half of the chapter, Paul cautions against false teachers, an issue comes up frequently in the New Testament. Paul makes it clear that everyone attending church is neither saved nor godly. The danger of false teachers is not that they come from outside the church but may be lurking within. One way of telling those who are not truly part of the church is by what they teach and how they live.

2 Tim 3 warns against ungodly behavior in the last days, even in the church. People will flock to teaching that "tickles their ears". Scripture is always the measure of godly people and godly teaching. Paul is careful to point out that "all Scripture" is authored by God and useful for matters of faith and life. This can be sobering to those who put more value in books about the Bible than they do the Bible itself. While books about the Bible can be helpful, they must be read with the Scriptures in mind, comparing all they say with the Bible to determine their value just as we would a teacher who claims to be teaching the bible. All teaching should be weighed against the full counsel of Scripture, not just isolated verses or passages taken out of context. It's easy for false teachers to teach errant truth by focusing on certain passages of Scripture taken out of context and ignoring or discounting the rest of the Bible.

Paul's final words to Timothy are to "preach the word" whenever he can and wherever he can. Sound doctrine and the teaching of the Scriptures go hand in hand. Both are vitally important to the health of the church. This may be Paul's most profound message. Timothy lived in a culture of great story-tellers and expert orators. It was easy for people to gravitate toward teachers that told engaging stories or had speaking styles that gripped an audience without having any eternal value in what they said. Paul wants to make sure Timothy is always teaching the word of God, not using it to launch into some other agenda or to elevate himself. Paul's advice to Timothy rings in our hearts today the same way it did in the hearts of the Bereans, "Know your Bibles and compare all you hear to all of Scripture."

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