21st March 2018

2 Timothy: Week 4 (Wednesday, March 21 2018)

(from www.insightforliving.org.uk)


Chapter 1: 13-18



Time was short. The end was near. At any moment, the executioner could yank Paul away, his letter to Timothy unfinished. Paul had to write quickly, but carefully. It’s foolish for prisoners on death row to waste words. Paul didn’t. Every verse in 2 Timothy, including the last six verses of chapter 1, echoes an everlasting truth: “All that is not eternal is eternally out of date.” To that end, Paul reminded Timothy (and us) that only two things are eternal and worthy of lifelong investment.

1. A Brief Review


Before we look at the two eternal investments discussed in 2 Timothy 1:13 –18, let’s review what we’ve learned thus far.

2. A Passionate Charge Regarding the Truth (2 Timothy 1:13–14)

The truth of God’s Word is eternal (Isaiah 40:8; Matthew 24:35). For that reason, as an apostle of God’s gospel, the suffering Paul endured was only temporary (2 Timothy 1:8, 12). Condemned to die an earthly death, Paul invested the eternal truth of the gospel into the hands of his protégé with a dual command. Retain the Standard of Sound Words (2 Timothy 1:13) Guard . . . the Treasure (1:14)

3. A Realistic Reminder Regarding People (2 Timothy 1:15 –18)

The truth of the gospel is eternal and worthy of our investment. So are people, who possess eternal souls and have eternity in their hearts (Genesis 2:7; Ecclesiastes 3:11). But people carry a risk unlike those associated with God’s Word —our investment in people doesn’t always pay dividends . . . but sometimes it does. Those Who Disappoint Us (2 Timothy 1:15) Those Who Refresh Us (1:16 –18)



Praying for the Dead

Much has been made of the change of tense between verses 16 and 18 in 2 Timothy 1 — “the household of Onesiphorus” and “what services he rendered at Ephesus” (emphasis added). This has led some to speculate that Onesiphorus had died — perhaps as a result of Nero’s persecution — by the time Paul wrote to Timothy. Those who hold to this view see in Paul’s prayer — “the Lord [Christ] grant to (Onesiphorus] to find mercy from the Lord [the Father] on that day” (2 Timothy 1:18) — a prayer for the dead. Not so. Paul’s prayer for mercy does refer to the day of judgement (1:12; 4:8). But nowhere in Scripture, whether by example or instruction, are Christians led to pray for the dead. So whether Onesiphorus had died or Paul was simply blessing Onesiphorus past deeds, as the apostle did with the very much alive Stephanas (1 Corinthians 16:15, 17), Paul’s prayer is better seen as a reflection of Jesus’ beatitude in Matthew 5:7; “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”


Investing is risky business. There’s no guarantee you’ll earn dividends. In fact, you could lose the shirt off your back. But Paul advised us on two investments that are always worth making because they are the only two things that will last into eternity —God’s Word and people. So let’s follow Paul’s example and invest in the eternal treasure of the truth and in the eternal souls of people. What are you doing to “retain the standard of sound words” and “guard the treasure”? Do you have, or have you had, an Onesiphorus in your life? If so, write a prayer of thanksgiving for him or her. To whom can you be an Onesiphorus?

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