Be Strong

Intro: Return to our theme scripture of 2 Timothy 1. Read 2 Timothy 2:1-6 You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. 3 You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. 4 No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier. 5 And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. 6 The hardworking farmer must be first to partake of the crops.

  • As any teacher or instructor, the apostle Paul wants his student, Timothy, not only to understand his words, but make personal application of his teaching. That is when the value of truth can be recognized and assessed. Two words that emphasize that personal application when used together are “you therefore” Paul uses those words 3 times in this letter, and 2 of those times appear here in our verses.
  • V. 1 – You therefore, my son, be strong…
  • V. 3 – You therefore, must endure… Later in 4:1 he tells Timothy, you therefore… preach the word. There are imperatives. I want to consider these words and make some applications to ourselves.

I. Be Strong: You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus

A. “Be Strong” is an imperative command in this passage. It seems obvious that Paul is talking about being spiritually strong, not physically strong. Why does Paul emphasize this here?Because that is what it is going to take. Paul just encouraged Timothy to not abandon (hold fast to) the message of sound words he had been taught. He told him about Phygellus and Hermogenes (1:15) who had turned away from Paul, no doubt because of persecution. If Timothy was going to remain faithful, he would need to be strong in the faith – maybe stronger than he was

1. In the grace that is in Christ Jesus… Interestingly, The best understanding here points to the passive nature of the command to be strong. Although strengthening it is absolutely necessary (imperative), it is not result of Timothy’s own strength, but the strength which God would provide.

a. A somewhat better rendering can be seen in the ESV – You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus. Another translation says … be strong through the grace that God gives you in Christ Jesus. (NLT)

b. Compare the wording of Paul’s words in Eph 3:16“that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man,How were the Ephesians to get strength? God would grant it – bestow it through His Spirit. This was not mystical, but through the word of God written on the hearts of the individual. The sword of the Spirit.

2. Spiritual power is not the mark of a special class of Christian but is the mark of every Christian who submits to God’s Word and Spirit. Like physical growth and strength, spiritual growth and strength do not come overnight. As we discipline our minds and spirits to study God’s Word, understand it, and live by it, we are nourished and strengthened. Every bit of spiritual food and every bit of spiritual exercise add to our strength and endurance.

a. Later Paul would indicate that all those around him left him alone to face his hardships, but the Lord stood by Him and strengthened Him – 2 Tim 4:16-17 At my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me. May it not be charged against them. 17 But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me, and that all the Gentiles might hear. Phil 4:13 – 3 I can do all things through Christ* who strengthens me.

II. Commit these to faithful men…. 2 And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. We might notice that in 2 Tim 4:17 Paul tells Timothy that the Lord strengthened him, when others had abandoned him, so that the message might be preached fully through him. When God strengthens us, it is not just for our benefit.

  • The concept mentioned here is at the heart of the work of God- The continuous process of teaching. The early church continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine. The constant emphasis on teaching and learning was a key element of the church’s strength in difficult times.

A. In 1 Tim 4 Paul warns Timothy of a great coming apostasy. 1 Tim 4:1-3 – Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, 2 speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, 3 forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. The apostle calls on Timothy to head off this apostasy in the only manner possible – teach the truth. We noticed in our previous studies in the first epistle…

1. 1 Tim 4:6-7– If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed. 7 But reject profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness.

2. 1 Tim 4:11-1611 These things command and teach. 12 Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity. 13 Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. 14 Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership. 15 Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all. 16 Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.

B. How can the church secure its future against false teaching? How can it remain strong? There was a time when the church longed for a living succession of apostolic authority for this very reason. But the New Testament neither teaches nor supports the idea of apostolic succession. But it does clearly teach that the gospel is to be passed from generation to generation through the work of faithful teaching.

• Consider William Barclay’s comments on this verse: “The teacher is a link in the living chain which stretches unbroken from this present moment back to Jesus Christ. The glory of teaching is that it links the present with the earthly life of Jesus Christ”.

1. Relay race – what if the guy in the middle decides not to run? Apostasy is one generation away.

2. Are you a strong Christian? How do you know? Can you be a strong Christian if you never learn to teach another person the gospel?

3. The word “commit” here in 2 Tim. 2:2 means entrust, or deposit something for safekeeping. Paul uses the same word to describe the word that was given to Timothy as a trust in the previous chapter – 2 Tim 1:13-14 – Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. 14 That good thing which was committed to you, keep by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us.

III. Endure Hardship… 3 You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. 4 No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.

A. The life of a soldier is not easy. It is that way by design. The work of the soldier demands the ability to live under adverse conditions and endure suffering. Paul is calling on Timothy to be prepared to suffer.

1. ready to endure hardship – the term here is a compound word that means to suffer alongside another. It is the same word Paul used earlier in 1:8 (which we studied last week) when he called on Timothy to share in the afflictions of the gospel. There is strength in the camaraderie that comes through shared suffering. If I can be strong, I can encourage others to be strong also.

2. Paul also speaks about the armor of the Christian soldier in Eph. 6 and calls for strength and engagement. Eph 6:10-13 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the Wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

3. Strength is also born through constant commitment to the goal. There are no part time soldiers in God’s army. The word entangle literally means to “weave” and denotes one who is distracted from his course. Consider Jesus’ statements in Luke 9:57-62 Now it happened as they journeyed on the road, that someone said to Him, “Lord, I will follow You wherever You go.” 58 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” 59 Then He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” 60 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God.” 61 And another also said, “Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house.” 62 But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”

4. A part of this mutual commitment is the desire to please His commander: Every Christian is tempted to please himself or others. It takes a degree of spirituality to desire only to please God. Gal 1:10 10 For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ. 2 Cor 5:9 Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. 1 Thess 2:4 4 But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts.

IV. Competes according to the rules… 5 And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. Strength is displayed when those who compete, do it according to the rules. The quality of strength on display here is self-discipline. The rules being spoken of here are not so much the ones found in a rulebook, as the rules (demands) that come as result of the task or goal being pursued.

A. The term competes(translates from struggle, or wrestle..Strength is required because the goal cannot be achieved without a struggle.

B. According to the rules.. In the Greek games, which continued for centuries under Roman rule and were still being held in Paul’s time, every participant had to meet three qualifications–of birth, of training, and of competition.

  • First, he had to be a true-born Greek.
  • Second, he had to prepare at least ten months for the games and swear to that before a statue of Zeus.
  • Third, he had to compete within the specific rules for a given event. To fail in any of those requirements meant automatic disqualification.

1. Paul often used the athlete as an image of the Christian.

a. In 1 Cor 9:25 – the athlete is temperate and competes to win the prize

b. In Phil 2 – if one does not hold fast to the word of life, he will have run in vain.

c. In 12– run with patience, setting aside the obstacles in the way.

2. Are there any rules to the race we are running? Does it matter? What is at stake? We must become Christians by obeying all the conditions in the N.T. We must be faithful in study and obedience of God’s Word, and we must live according to Christ’s divine standards of discipleship. Make your calling and election sure.

V. The hardworking Farmer… 6 The hardworking farmer must be first to partake of the crops. Without work there is no harvest. Those who are spiritually strong display their strength in the work they do. If the athlete is an image of self-discipline, the farmer displays the value of hard work. He is strong because of that work.

A. Must be the first to partake of the crops… Farmers feed others (and do it very well in this country) but the first person to benefit from the farmer’s work is himself. He is strong because he is not lazy.

B. The farmer is a clear example of hard work and its fruitful harvest. (some farmers take a lot of pride in their farm – mowed all the way to the road; building painted, etc.) Lazy farmers go broke. Lazy Christians remain perennially weak. Prov 20:4 – 4 The lazy man will not plow because of winter; He will beg during harvest and have nothing. Prov 24:30-34 – 30 I went by the field of the lazy man, And by the vineyard of the man devoid of understanding; 31 And there it was, all overgrown with thorns; Its surface was covered with nettles; Its stone wall was broken down. 32 When I saw it, I considered it well; I looked on it and received instruction: 33 A little sleep, a little slumber, A little folding of the hands to rest; 34 So shall your poverty come like a prowler, And your need like an armed man.

1. Consider John MacArthur’s remarks..The industrious farmer starts his hard and demanding work early and quits late. He endures the cold, the heat, the rain, and the drought. He plows the soil whether it is hard or loose. He does not wait for his own convenience, because the seasons do not wait for him. When the time comes to plant, he must plant; when weeds appear, he must remove them; and when the crop is mature, he must harvest it. What drives the man to such hard toil is the harvest.

C. Although we do not earn our salvation, the scriptures are clear that we are called to work, and will not attain our salvation if we do not obey God. Eph 2:8-10– 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Phil 2:12 – Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;

1. The work of the farmer displays strength because the fruit does not come immediately. Only the strong are willing to wait for the harvest. James 5:7Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain.

Conclusion : Are you strong in the grace of the Lord? Are you prepared for the moment?

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