Tuesday, February 24, 2009


2 Timothy 1“Guard The Gospel”


2 Timothy 1: 8 So don’t be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, or of me His prisoner. Instead, share in suffering for the gospel, relying on the power of God,
9 who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began.
10 This has now been made evident through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who has abolished death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.
11 For this gospel I was appointed a herald, apostle, and teacher,
12 and that is why I suffer these things. But I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to guard what has been entrusted to me until that day.

13 Hold on to the pattern of sound teaching that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
14 Guard, through the Holy Spirit who lives in us, that good thing entrusted to you.
15 This you know: all those in  Asia have turned away from me, including Phygelus and Hermogenes.
16 May the Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, because he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains.
17 On the contrary, when he was in Rome, he diligently searched for me and found me.
18 May the Lord grant that he obtain mercy from the Lord on that day. And you know how much he ministered at Ephesus.

The Legacy

Story of Drake’s snuffbox. The passing along of a legacy. The snuffbox symbolised for me the faith courage and valour of a Christian gentleman.

But then I discovered something more.

It was not the snuffbox that made Drake great. It was his personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

“O Lord God, when Thou givest to Thy servants to endeavour any great matter, grant us to know that it is not the beginning, but the continuing of the same, until it is thoroughly finished that yieldeth the true glory.”

“Disturb us Lord, when we are too pleased with ourselves, when our deams have come true because we dreamed too little, when we arrived safely because we sailed too close to the shore.”

It’s a legacy of truth.

And it’s a legacy Paul tells us, and God tells us, must be passed on.

The Gospel was under attack.

The Asian church had lost it.

15 This you know: all those in  Asia have turned away from me, including Phygelus and Hermogenes.
Perhaps the problem was the distress the church was under. The Neronian persecution had begun.

If the people didn’t burn incense to Nero as God they would be killed.

Tacitus 64 AD

But all human efforts, all the emperor's gifts and propitiations of the gods, were not enough to remove the scandal or banish the belief that the fire [summer, 64 C.E.] had been ordered. And so, to get rid of this rumor Nero set up as culprits and punished with the utmost cruelty a class hated for their abominations, who are commonly called Christians. Christus, from whom their name is derived, was executed at the hands of the procurator Pontius Pilate in the reign of Tiberius. Checked for the moment this pernicious superstition broke out again, not only in Judea, the source of the evil, but even in Rome, the place where everything that is sordid and degrading from every quarter of the globe finds a following. Thus those who confessed (i.e.. to being Christians) were first arrested, then on evidence from them a large multitude was convicted, not so much for the charge of arson as for their hatred of the human race. Besides being put to death they were made objects of amusement; they were clothed in hides of beasts and torn to death by dogs; others were crucified, others were set on fire to illuminate the night after sunset. Nero threw open his grounds for the display and put on a show at the circus where he mingled with the people dressed like a charioteer and driving about in his chariot. All this gave rise to a feeling of pity, evens towards these men who deserved the most exemplary punishment since it was felt they were being killed, not for the public good but to gratify the cruelty of an individual.

Suetonius AD 64

In his reign many abuses were severely punished and repressed, and as many new laws were instituted; a limit was set upon spending; public banquets were reduced; the sale of cooked food in taverns was forbidden, except for vegetables and greens, while formerly every kind of food was available; punishment was inflicted on the Christians, a set of men adhering to a novel and mischievous superstition; he put a stop to the wild activities of the charioteers, who for a long time had assumed the right of ranging at large and cheating and robbing for amusement; the actors and their companies were banished.

To divert from himself the general suspicion of incendiarism, and at the same time to furnish new entertainment for his diabolical cruelty, Nero wickedly cast the blame upon the hated Christians, who, meanwhile, especially since the public trial of Paul and his successful labors in Rome, had come to be distinguished from the Jews as a genus tertium, or as the most dangerous offshoot from that race. They were certainly despisers of the Roman gods and loyal subjects of a higher king than Caesar, and they were falsely suspected of secret crimes. The police and people, under the influence of the panic created by the awful calamity, were ready to believe the worst slanders, and demanded victims. What could be expected of the ignorant multitude, when even such cultivated Romans as Tacitus, Suetonius, and Pliny, stigmatized Christianity as a vulgar and pestiferous superstition. It appeared to them even worse than Judaism, which was at least an ancient national religion, while Christianity was novel, detached from any particular nationality, and aiming at universal dominion. Some Christians were arrested, confessed their faith, and were "convicted not so much," says Tacitus, "of the crime of incendiarism as of hating the human race." Their Jewish origin, their indifference to politics and public affairs, their abhorrence of heathen customs, were construed into an "odium generis humani," and this made an attempt on their part to destroy the city sufficiently plausible to justify a verdict of guilty. An infuriated mob does not stop to reason, and is as apt to run mad as an individual.

Under this wanton charge of incendiarism, backed by the equally groundless charge of misanthropy and unnatural vice, there began a carnival of blood such as even heathen Rome never saw before or since.523  It was the answer of the powers of hell to the mighty preaching of the two chief apostles, which had shaken heathenism to its centre. A "vast multitude" of Christians was put to death in the most shocking manner. Some were crucified, probably in mockery of the punishment of Christ,524 some sewed up in the skins of wild beasts and exposed to the voracity of mad dogs in the arena. The satanic tragedy reached its climax at night in the imperial gardens on the slope of the Vatican (which embraced, it is supposed, the present site of the place and church of St. Peter): Christian men and women, covered with pitch or oil or resin, and nailed to posts of pine, were lighted and burned as torches for the amusement of the mob; while Nero, in fantastical dress, figured in a horse race, and displayed his art as charioteer. Burning alive was the ordinary punishment of incendiaries; but only the cruel ingenuity of this imperial monster, under the inspiration of the devil, could invent such a horrible system of illumination.

That is exactly what the apostle is experiencing here. In the words of Dr. E. M. Blaiklock, professor of classics at the University of New Zealand "Of all the centuries, the twentieth is most like the first." It is evident that you and I are living through similar times to what Paul and Timothy are facing here. Even the Christian community is turning away from Christian standards, morals and ethics. Divorce is epidemic among Christians, who ought to be manifesting the ability of the Spirit of God to keep a family united in love and grace and growing in truth and righteousness. Instead, Christians are succumbing to the ways of the world around. Immorality is rife among us; famous names are turning away and forsaking Christian standards. That is what Paul and Timothy were facing.

Verse 15..

Was it Distraction.. something better to do.

Was It Defection? Killing the gospel with entertainment as the methoid of conversion.

Was it Defeatism? Disillusioned and depressed they just gave up?

How Do You Guard the gospel?

1. By The Indwelling Spirit

14 Guard, through the Holy Spirit who lives in us, that good thing entrusted to you.
"Guard by means of the indwelling Spirit the good deposit," is what Paul wrote. The "good deposit" is the gospel, or the Scripture of truth. Though the word truth does not actually appear in this verse, it is not inaccurate to render it as this version has, "guard the truth by means of the Spirit."

The apostle’s own career of gospel-work was virtually over. For 30 years or so he had faithfully preached the good news, planted churches, defended the truth and consolidated the work. Truly, he had ‘fought the good fight,.. . finished the race,. . . kept the faith’ (a Tim. 4:7). Now nothing awaited him but the victor’s wreath at the winning post. A prisoner now, he would be a martyr soon.

But what would happen to the gospel when he was dead and gone? The emperor Nero, bent on suppressing all secret societies, and misunderstanding the nature of the Christian church, seemed determined to destroy it. Heretics appeared to be on the increase. There had recently been an almost total Asian apostasy from Paul’s teaching (a Tim.I : ii). Bishop Moule goes so far as to write that ‘Christianity. . . trembled, humanly speaking, on the verge of annihilation’.1 Who, then, would do battle for the truth when Paul had laid down his life? This was the question which dominated and vexed his mind as he lay in chains, and to which in this letter he addressed himself. Already in his first letter he had pleaded with Timothy to keep safe the deposit: ‘0 Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you’ (x Tim. 6:ao). But since then the situation had worsened. So the apostle’s appeal became more urgent. He reminded Timothy that the precious gospel was now committed to him, and that it was now his turn to assume responsibility for it, to preach and teach it, to defend it against attack and against falsification, and to ensure its accurate transmission to the generations yet to come. In each chapter Paul returned to the same basic concern, or some aspect of it.

Jude 20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit,21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.

2. By Proclaiming it

11 For this gospel I was appointed a herald, apostle, and teacher,
12 and that is why I suffer these things. But I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to guard what has been entrusted to me until that day.

Notice that what they are called both to preach and to teach is the gospel. It is fashionable in theological circles to distinguish sharply between the kirygma (what was preached) and the didache (what was taught), the kirygma being essentially the good news of Christ crucified and risen, with the summons to repent and believe, the didache being largely ethical instruction to converts. The distinction is useful, but can be overpressed. It is safe only if we remember how much they overlapped. There was a lot of didachi in the kirygma and a lot of kirygma in the didache: And, moreover, both concerned the gospel, for the kirygma was the proclamation of its essence, while the didache included the great doctrines which undergird it as well as the moral behaviour which follows from it.

The reference to ‘witness’ in verse 8, which we have already considered, adds a fourth word to this list. It reminds us that, although there are no apostles today, and although only some are called to the ministry of preaching and teaching, every Christian believer is to be a witness and to testi1 to Jesus Christ out of his own personal experience.

Leaving aside for the moment the second part of verse x 2, we come to Paul’s double exhortation to Timothy in the next two verses: ‘Follow the pattern of the sound words which you have heard from me’ (i ); ‘Guard the truth that has been entrusted to you’ (14). Here Paul refers to the gospel, the apostolic faith, by two expressions. It is both a pattern of sound words (13) and a precious deposit (it).

‘Sound’ words are ‘healthy’ words, the Greek expression being used in the Gospels of people whom Jesus healed. Previously they had been maimed or diseased; now they were well or ‘whole’. So the Christian faith is ‘the sound teaching’ (4:3), consisting of ‘sound words’, because it is not maimed or diseased but ‘whole’. It is what Paul had previously called, ‘the whole counsel of God’ (Acts 20: 27).

Further, these ‘sound words’ had been given by Paul to Timothy in a ‘pattern’. Here the Greek word is hypotyposis. NEB translates it ‘outline’, and Dr. Guthrie says it ‘means an outline sketch such as an architect might make before getting down to the detailed plans of a building’.’ In this case Paul is implying that Timothy must amplify, expound and apply the apostle’s teaching. The context, especially the parallel with the next verse, seems to me to make this an unlikely explanation. The only other occurrence of hypotypasis in the New Testament is in Paul’s first letter to Timothy where he describes himself, the object of Christ’s amazing mercy and perfect patience, as ‘an example to those who were to believe in him’ (i: i 6). Arndt and Gingrich, who give ‘model’ or ‘example’ as the usual translation, suggest that it is used ‘rather in the sense prototype’ in i Timothy i a 6 and ‘rather in the sense standard’ in z Timothy i : 13.

"It is not enough to be evangelical. We must be evangelistic. The evangelical church is a reservoir of pure water without a pipe running anywhere. If you will take the trouble to go to it and climb the embankment, you will get a good drink. The evangelistic church is a reservoir of pure water with a pipe to every heart in the community, and every nation in the world. Evangelical may mean truth on ice; evangelistic means truth on fire. Evangelical may be bomb-proof for defense; evangelistic means an army on the march with every face towards the enemy. Evangelical sings, 'Hold the fort, for I am coming'; evangelistic sings, 'Storm the fort, for God is leadin.' The need of the Church is not evangelicalism as a thing to fight for, but evangelism as a force to fight with. The evangelical creed merely held and defended becomes a fossil, only a thing of interest.

3. By Suffering For it

2 Timothy 1: 8 So don’t be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, or of me His prisoner. Instead, share in suffering for the gospel, relying on the power of God,

If you were to walk the aisles of any pharmacy you'd find that one of their most popular products is pain killers. They have shelves that are literally packed with packets of panedine, Panadol, Aspro etc etc.

We spend billions alleviating our hurts every year. This is because none of us want to hurt....everyone wants to live a pain-free life. Comfort is very important in our society.

Unfortunately this is often true when it comes to the Christian walk. Many people want to follow Christ but only as long as it is comfortable to do so. Theologian, J. J. PACKER writes, "The other day...as I sat in the hot tub savoring the warmth...adjusting to the feel of being bubbled over from all angles, ...it struck me that the hot tub is the perfect symbol of the modern route to religion. The hot tub experience is sensuous, relaxing, floppy, laid-back: not in any way demanding...but very, very nice, even to the point of being great fun. Many today want Christianity to be like that and labor to make it so."

Paul encourages us not to embrace a life of ease and pain-free comfort but rather to "JOIN him in his sufferings." This is not because Jesus wants us to suffer. He is not some cruel drill Sergeant who delights in making life tough for His recruits. No, suffering is inevitable for Christians because we live in an imperfect world that is hostile to the One we follow. Joe Stowell, President of Moody Bible Institute writes, "Jesus' rejection, alienation, and ultimately His crucifixion...were the direct result of the fact that Christ came to do His work in alien territory that was dead set against His success."

In JOHN 15, Jesus said, "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated Me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world.....if they persecuted me, they will persecute you also."

History has shown just how true Jesus' words are. Remember, all but one of the first 12 disciples suffered a martyr's death and the other, JOHN, died of old age in exile on the Isle of Patmos because of his commitment to Jesus. During the years when Christianity was just getting started those who chose to follow Christ encountered unbelievable persecution for their faith. And that kind of persecution continues even in our day and age. II TIMOTHY 3:12 says, "...EVERYONE who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted..."

When cling to our faith in Him in spite of persecution we give irrefutable proof that we believe knowing Christ is WORTH our suffering. We show the world that we are honored to follow Him-no matter what the cost. I PETER 4:16 says, "If you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear HIS NAME." Our willingness to suffer for our faith indicates to a watching world that we are proud to be called CHRISTIAN.

History shows that the times that the church grew the fastest were also times when Christians were most persecuted. In spite of years of persecution the church in China is huge and still growing. The church in Sudan is the fastest growing in any Muslim country. The blood of Martyrs often IS the seed of the church. Joe Stowell tells the story or Ivan Minailo, a pastor in the former Soviet Union. During the Stalin era, Ivan was approached by the KGB and asked to become an informer. At the time Ivan was shepherding five rural churches. The government promised him a life of prosperity and ease and a bright future if he would only report to them every week about what was happening in his churches and what the people were doing. It would be a great deal for Ivan; he could continue to pastor and secure the future of his family, and now one would know.

Well Ivan refused and as a result was sent to prison in Siberia with 1500 other political and religious prisoners. When he arrived he and other groups of prisoners were formed into work details to help build the towns of Stalin's regime. Ivan was a carpenter by trade....a very skilled craftsman. And everywhere he went he and his fellow believers shared their faith and established cell groups of believers in all those remote villages. Because of this, today there are many, many churches all over Siberia that proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ----a direct result of those prisoner groups that helped build those towns throughout Siberia.

4. By Standing By It.

13 Hold on to the pattern of sound teaching that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The 5000 Japanese martyrs who stood for Christ.

Athenasius against the world Latimer, Ridly and Cranmer.

By contrast, there was one man from Asia, Onesiphorus, whom Paul describes as having found a

way to "guard the truth" in his day. Here is what Paul says about him (Verses 16-18):

May the Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me; he was

not ashamed of my chains, but when he arrived in Rome he searched for me eagerly and found

me -- may the Lord grant him to find mercy from the Lord on that Day -- and you well know all

the service he rendered at Ephesus. {2 Tim 1:16-18 RSV}

Onesiphorus means "bringer of help." Here was a man who lived up to his name. He was, evidently,

a businessman. Paul had known him and his family when he himself was in Ephesus. There the family

and the man had ministered to Paul many times, so he prays a blessing upon them.

In his business travels, Onesiphorus had come to the city of Rome after Paul had been captured.

Painstakingly, at great effort, he sought and found the apostle. That was not easy to do. The

Romans were not telling everybody where Paul was imprisoned, but Onesiphorus kept looking until

he found him. And he was not ashamed of Paul's chains. He found him at great risk to his own life,

for, to befriend an enemy of Caesar in those days was to put one's own life in peril. Nero would

eliminate anybody for the slightest deviation from a manifestation of loyal support of him and his


Onesiphorus ministered to Paul and refreshed his spirit. He did not come gloomily wringing his

hands, beating his breast and talking about how terrible things were all through the Empire. He came

with confidence that God was still in charge and upholding things. Here Paul prays for him now that

he is still away, probably on another trip somewhere, and he asks Timothy to support his family

there and prays that God would bless him "on that Day." Onesiphorus was fearless, he was faithful, and he was cheerful. He reminds me of that favourite definition I have used many times of how a Christian ought to be: Completely fearless, Continually cheerful, and Constantly in trouble.

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