2 Timothy, Lesson 4: Persevere

Persevere (610x352)Last week, we explored the relationship between Paul and Onesiphorus, how Onesiphorus helped Paul in prison when others had abandoned him, and how Paul prayed for Onesiphorus after he had most likely died.  

Paul now continues to encourage Timothy to be faithful in what God had given him to do.


Persevere in Suffering to Guard the Deposit: Paul’s Second Argument 

Be Strengthened

Paul begins this section with “therefore” (which the ESV translates as “then”), linking what Paul now tells Timothy to do with guarding the deposit of the faith (2 Timothy 1:14).

Read 2 Timothy 2:1-2

  • What two things are to strengthen Timothy? (vs. 1-2)


  • What is Timothy to do in his role as an “overseer”? (vs. 2)


“entrust to faithful men”: Timothy is the second link in a chain of pastors that stretches from the Apostles to pastors (elders/overseers) of the present day. Having been placed to serve as a pastor by the laying on of hands (1 Timothy 4:14, 2 Timothy 1:6), Paul now charges timothy (“entrust” is an imperative verb) to pass on the apostolic faith to the next generation of pastors.

Timothy will do this in the same way that he was made a pastor of the Church: 1. Through sound instruction (2 Timothy 1:13-14); by carefully selecting those on whom he would lay hands, that is, ordain (1 Timothy 5:22, 2 Timothy 1:6); and by being an example (2 Timothy 3:10, 1 Timothy 6:20).

Read 2 Timothy 2:3-6

  • What three examples does Paul use to help Timothy endure suffering?


  • Whom should a pastor aim to please? (vs. 4)


  • If a pastor is to be “crowned,” what is he expected to do? (vs. 5)


  • Discuss: What are “the rules” that govern what a pastor is to do and teach?


  • Discuss verse 6.


Think Over

Read 2 Timothy 2:7

  • What is the “what I say” in this verse?


  • How does the Lord give “understanding in everything”?



Read 2 Timothy 2:8-9

  • Who is Timothy to remember? (vs. 8)


  • Although Paul is bound, who is not (vs. 9)


  • If the “Word of God” refers to Jesus (and it does based on the context), how is Jesus not bound? In other words, how does someone receive the Jesus who is not bound?


Read 2 Timothy 2:10

  • For whom does Paul endure everything? Why?


  • Discuss the dynamic tension someone being part of “the elect” (chosen) and yet still having to “obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus”? 


Read 2 Timothy 2:11-13

Here, Paul recites something that is clearly poetic and/or hymnic in character. Some believe it to be part of an early-Church baptismal hymn. Most likely, Paul didn’t write it since he referred to it as a “trustworthy saying,” which meant that Timothy was already familiar with it.


Lesson 4, Verb Tenses in the Trustworthy Saying


  • How does someone die with Christ, which is a past-tense event for a Christian? (2 Timothy 2:11; see also Romans 6:3-5)


  • How happens if one endures with Christ and doesn’t leave (deny) Him? (2 Timothy 2:12)


  • Discuss: What if someone is weak (faithless)?


  • Discuss the comfort of Jesus not denying us for “faithlessness” (such as may take place with someone with Alzheimer’s disease).


Persevere in Sound Doctrine

Warn Opponents and Avoid Needless Quarrels 

Paul transitions in his encouragement for Pr. Timothy. Paul had just focused on Timothy to endure in whatever suffering may come his way. Now Paul encourages Timothy to keep the doctrine that he received from the Apostles, which they had received from Christ.

Read 2 Timothy 2:14

  • In the Greek, this verse starts out with “These things.” What were the “things” that Timothy was remind the congregation at Ephesus?


“Remind… not to dispute”: Paul commanded (imperative verb) Timothy to remind the Ephesian congregation of “these things.” When it came to quarreling about words, Paul used a present-tense infinitive verb: “not to dispute about words for no benefit.”

Reminding them was more important than not disputing. So, not disputing over words was not to stop Timothy from reminding the congregation of “these things.” He was to do such reminding in a way that would not lead to a dispute over words.

However, a dispute over words could be permissible if doing so was needed and beneficial. For Paul told Timothy “not to dispute over words for no benefit.”

Read 2 Timothy 2:15

  • How is Timothy to carry out his duties as a pastor?


“rightly handling the word of truth”: “rightly handling” (Greek, orthotomeo). This is the only place in the New Testament that uses this word. It refers to cutting a path or road (Proverbs 3:6 and 11:5, Septuagint) or cutting a stone.

Timothy was to get straight to the point in his preaching and teaching, of his “reminding them of these things.” For the next verse (vs. 16) clarifies this “rightly handling the word of truth”; it avoided worldly chatter (see also 1 Timothy 6:20). Orthotomeo was also a term referring to the quality of exactness or precision, without flaw or error.

Read 2 Timothy 2:16-18

  • What was the “irreverent babble”?


  • Discuss: Why would a denial of the resurrection of the body even matter?


“the resurrection has already happened”: This was a denial of the future resurrection of the body. Hymenaeus (whom Paul had earlier excommunicated for blasphemy, 1 Timothy 1:20) and Philetus had spiritualized eternal life into an existence of only the soul. This meant that there was no need for resurrection of the body. Tertullian (155-240 AD) said that was the teaching of the Valentinian Gnostics, and Irenaeus (125 -202 AD) said they claimed that the resurrection happened in their acquisition of truth (Greek, gnosis).

They saw “Christianity” only as something spiritual. Although they did correctly affirm a “spiritual resurrection” through with Baptism (Romans 6:3-4), they denied the “bodily resurrection” in the future (Romans 8:11, 1Corinthians 15:12-17, Philippians 3:20-21, and 2 Thessalonians 2:2).

Read 2 Timothy 2:19

“The Lord knows those who are his”: Paul quotes Numbers 16:5 from the Septuagint (LXX: “God… knows those who are his…” Masoretic Text: “The Lord will show who is his…”). This was said in the middle Korah’s rebellion. Korah wanted to establish his own priesthood and not abide with the one that God had established. Korah and those who had rebelled with him all died. God’s established Old-Covenant Priesthood continued. This was a point that that Timothy would not miss, that God “had his back.”

“Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity”: Here, Paul adapts the truths taught in the Old-Testament and makes them his own: Sirach 7:2, 17:26, 35:5, and Isaiah 26:13 (Septuagint, “we name your name”).

  • What is the “foundation” to which Paul refers?


“foundation”: Greek, thelemios. The “foundation” of a building. Here, it applies figuratively to the Church as the building that God builds (Romans 15:20, 1 Corinthians 3:10-12, and Ephesians 2:20). This foundation is “solid,” affirming the permanence of the Church. We know Paul is referring to God as the foundation of the Church because in the next verse, Paul refers to the Church (based on context) as a “great house.”

“The Lord knows those who are his” points to being in the family of God, of being brought in the Covenant. This is through baptism (Colossians 2:11-15). “Depart from iniquity” is the life of sanctification that the Christian lives after being brought into Christ’s justification for him.



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