As for you, my son, let the grace of Christ Jesus empower you, and what you have heard from me among many [others who have been] witnesses, take that and pass it on to reliable men who are themselves capable of then passing it on to others.
     Like a good soldier [in the army] of Jesus Christ, take up your share of the suffering. No-one on active service becomes entangled in the affairs of ordinary civic responsibility, since he is eager to honour the one who first enlisted him. The one striving for victory [in athletics] is not crowned unless he strives within the rules of the contest. The first fruits of the harvest ought to go to the one who has worked the soil. Think over what I am writing to you, for the Lord will give you understanding of all things.
     Call to mind Jesus Christ having been raised from the grave, [He who came] from the seed of David, according to my [message of] Good News, for which I suffer the indignity of these chains as a criminal. Even so, the word of God is not so bound. And that is why I am willing to endure all things, on account of those who have been called out [into service] in order that they too may obtain salvation in Christ Jesus with a [glorious] status that lasts hereafter.
     Faithful indeed is the Word [of the One who has said this]: for if we have died with Him, we shall surely live by His side. If we endure, we shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him [living in denial of Him] He will in turn deny us. If we are faithless, He the faithful one [for His part] remains faithful for He cannot deny Himself. - II Timothy 2: 1-13/transliteration by Bruce C Wearne

Soldiers on parade

The life of a soldier is one of three illustrations Paul uses to explain the difficult, disciplined work Timothy is to undertake. PICTURE: David Adams.

 

"The encouragement is given to maintain bold affirmation of the grace and mercy of God and it is given so that it can be passed on."

The letter continues as a word of reiterated encouragement in the context of afflictions, hardship, sorrow and the distractions that result. The encouragement Paul gives is also focused upon what Timothy has been called to teach.

Paul gives a three-fold proverb to Timothy.

It is, like a military officer's commission, requiring a disciplined single-mindedness to carry through a difficult work. It is like a well-trained athlete, in a competitive struggle for supremacy within the rules that govern the contest. It is also like a farmer going about his work working steadily toward the harvest that will eventually reward him for all his effort.

Something similar in its wisdom may be read in Timothy I 5:24-25.

The sins of some go on before them on their way to judgement; for others they follow on behind. Similarly, the good works of some are on display and for others they simply cannot be hidden.

Brought together in this way, Paul not only provides Timothy with encouragement to keep him going in a single-minded and respectful integrity; here is a framework of teaching that he can then pass on to others as they act as “sons of encouragement” from their own place in life.

And after all, says Paul, I am passing on to you what you have already heard from me, and that is what has already been passed on to me.

The encouragement is given to maintain bold affirmation of the grace and mercy of God and it is given so that it can be passed on.

And here then is the nub of it; the teaching to be passed on.

In this, Paul’s use of the examples of soldier, athlete and farmer to encourage Timothy about what is to be passed on reminds us of how Jesus prepared His Apostles by teaching them and the crowds that came to Him by parables.

Here is a recognition of the teaching art that includes the encouragement of future teachers by means of pertinent and easy to grasp examples.

Call to mind the Messiah of Israel, the person who has been promised to come in the line of David.

This is the Person who, though crucified, has been raised from the grave. It is not merely our ignorance (I Timothy 1:13) that has been gazumped! What conquering hero ends up on a cross, a Roman cross? What Messiah could ever allow Himself to be tried by a satirical Roman Governor, ruling over Israel's territory, and who announced this helpless fellow to be “King of the Jews!"? Behold the man! What kind of a Saviour is this? Is this the Messiah long promised?

But that is not the only thing that has been gazumped. The crucified Innocent, that hijacked individual, we also proclaim as the One raised from the grave and death. This same Person, from David's line, Paul's own ancestral line, has given Him boldness to suffer the indignities of prison life as a criminal.

I was called out into service, says Paul, and I am convinced there are others, dozens of dozens, thousands of thousands, also to be called out to share with Christ Jesus in this announcement of the glorious status of “child of God” - so then, that is what we are engaged upon.

Once more, Paul inserts a liturgical confession into his letter. Here is a song to be sung and taught, from generation-to-generation, so that those who have been taught it can pass it on, just as Timothy can do to those he commissions in teaching roles.