v. 8. Be not thou, therefore, ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me, His prisoner; but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the Gospel according to the power of God,
v. 9. who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,
v. 10. but now is made manifest by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel;
v. 11. whereunto I am appointed a preacher and an apostle and a teacher of the Gentiles.
v. 12. For the which cause I also suffer these things. Nevertheless I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day.
v. 13. Hold fast the form of sound words which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.
v. 14. that good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost, which dwelleth in us.
The knowledge of God's love in Christ Jesus and the gift of God's grace are the fundamental factors in the work of Timothy; they obligated him to show all staunchness in confessing Christ, in defending the faith. This thought St. Paul brings out with fine tact: Do not, then, be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord nor of me, His prisoner, but join me in suffering for the Gospel according to the power of God. Timothy should not dread nor fear the dishonor and disgrace which his confessing of Christ was sure to bring upon him; he should not flee from the lot which is inevitable to the followers of Christ. See Rom_1:16; Mar_8:38; Heb_11:26. The apostle calls the entire preaching of the New Testament the testimony of Christ, because Christ is the content of the entire doctrine of salvation; His person and work should be proclaimed from every pulpit that bears the name Christian; the message of the Gospel is that of eternal life, because it testifies of Christ, Joh_5:39; 1Co_1:6. Just because every person that openly professed his allegiance to the so-called sect of the Christians had to expect persecution and dishonor to strike him, therefore Timothy was not to be ashamed of his confession. But this attitude included yet another point. Timothy might be inclined to withdraw from Paul in the latter's present unfortunate situation. The apostle, however, was not languishing in prison on account of any crime committed by him. He was a prisoner of the Lord; for the sake of Jesus whom he had so freely and gladly confessed before men he had been imprisoned. His fetters thus were his badge of honor, and Timothy was to acknowledge them as such. Instead of being ashamed of Jesus and of Paul, His apostle, now bound for His sake, Timothy should rather join him in suffering for the Gospel. Should the same fate strike him which had come upon his beloved teacher, Timothy should not hesitate for a moment in showing his willingness to bear the yoke of his Lord. So much he could do, not, indeed, by his own reason and strength, but in accordance with, in the measure of, the power of God in him. Christ, the Lord of His Church, always imparts that amount of strength which is necessary for bearing sufferings for His sake.
If there is any thought which, above all others, ought to make us willing to suffer persecutions for the sake of our Lord, it is that of our redemption in Christ: 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 us in Christ Jesus before the time of this world. The apostle uses the strongest argument at his disposal for impressing upon Timothy and every Christian the necessity of remaining steadfast in the confession of Christ unto the end. It is God that saved us, that is our Savior; the salvation is complete, ready before the eyes and hearts of all men. And so far as its application to the believers is concerned, the apostle says that God has called us, He has extended to us the invitation to accept the reconciliation made for all men. This invitation was a holy call, for it was issued by the holy God, applied by the Holy Ghost, and has for its purpose a life of consecration. In no manner does the merit of man come into consideration in this call, for it was not extended to us because of our works. God did not look upon any man with the intention of finding something in his character or attitude which would make him more willing to accept the proffered grace. At the same time, however, He did not issue an absolute call, simply on the basis of the majesty of His divine will. He called men rather according to His own purpose and grace. It was God's own free counsel and intention, a counsel of grace, of His free love and favor, whose revelation took place in Christ Jesus. Before the foundations of the world were laid, before God had created a single human being, His gracious counsel of love was formulated, which resulted in our call, by virtue of which we should be His own and live with Him world without end. In Christ Jesus His grace was given us, for His redemption earned it for us.
The grace of God in Christ Jesus was thus present and ready from eternity. Then, in the fullness of time, God made known His grace to mankind: But now manifested through the appearance of our Savior Christ Jesus, when He rendered death ineffectual, but brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel. The grace which was planned and prepared in Christ Jesus was made manifest, not by a mere teaching or preaching, but by a bodily manifestation which could be conceived of by the senses, Joh_1:14. Through the entire life, suffering, and death of Christ the grace of God has been made manifest. In this way God's grace was brought to the attention of men in bodily, visible form, in the shape of the Redeemer, who was their brother according to the flesh. His manifestation culminated in His rendering death helpless, in taking away the power from temporal death, thus making it a mere figurehead, 1Co_15:55-57, Since death, in its true essence, signifies a separation from God and from the life in God, therefore it has lost its terrors for the believers. Death can no longer conquer us, who are in Christ Jesus. Instead of that, life and immortality are our lot through the work of our Savior. We have reentered the fellowship of life with God; the true life in and with God lies before us in immeasurable fullness. The original blessed condition of Paradise has now again been made possible; the life in and with God shows itself in immortality, in incorruption. Salvation with all the glories of heaven is ours; it is no longer hidden from our eyes, but is set before us in the brightest, clearest light through the Gospel; for this is the message of the completed redemption, of the revelation of life without end. Such is the blessed glory of the Gospel, as the apostle has briefly summarized it here for Timothy as well as for the Christians of all times.
In bringing out his connection with the Gospel, the apostle now incidentally gives a reason why Timothy should not be ashamed of him: To which I have been appointed herald and apostle and teacher. Every word used by the apostle brings out a certain phase of his work. He is a herald, a proclaimer of the great and wonderful works of God. Not only the foundation of a proper Christian understanding should be laid by his preaching, but the Christians should also grow in knowledge of their Lord Jesus Christ by the same method. He is an apostle; he belongs to the number of men who for all times were to be the teachers of the New Testament Church. And finally, Paul was a teacher, as all true ministers should be, his special field being that of the Gentiles. He did not operate with the excellencies of man's wisdom, but taught the mystery of the kingdom of God, both publicly and privately. How could Timothy, under the circumstances, feel ashamed of his teacher?
But the sufferings of Paul also should not provoke this feeling of shame in him: For which reason also I suffer these things, but am not ashamed. In the ministry, in the office which God entrusted to him, with every mark of distinction, the enmity of the world had struck him; he had been subjected to misery, persecution, imprisonment. Since, however, these sufferings are to be expected in the regular discharge of the holy office, he does not in any way look upon them as a disgrace. To suffer for the sake of Christ is not a dishonor, but an honor. For this reason the apostle is able to write in the joyful confidence of faith: For I know in whom my faith rests, and I am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have entrusted to Him until that day. Every word here is an expression of firm trust in God. He does not rely upon his feelings, upon his own ideas and notions; his knowledge is based upon the Word and cannot therefore be shaken. He has gained a conviction which is more certain than all asseverations of mere men: he has the promise of God in His infallible Word. For the apostle has entrusted the salvation of his soul to the heavenly Father, and his faith has the conviction based upon His Word that the precious treasure is safe in His hands, Joh_10:28. For God is able, fully competent, to guard this inestimable blessing. We are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation, 1Pe_1:5.
The admonition, then, follows as a matter of course: The example of wholesome words hold fast which thou hast heard from me, in faith as well as in love which is in Christ Jesus. The personal example of Paul was an important factor in his work; what he had done and said should be a type for Timothy to follow. It seems that he has reference to some summary or outline of the Gospel-truth which he had transmitted to his pupil, a teaching of wholesome words, entirely free from the morbid outgrowths which the errorists showed. This summary of doctrine Timothy was to use in faith and love in Christ Jesus. Having the conviction of faith that the Gospel as taught by Paul was the truth, he would not suffer himself to become apostate to that truth. Having true, cordial love toward Christ in his heart, he would know that every defection from the truth committed to his charge would deeply grieve his Savior. A simple adherence to the words of Scripture is the safest way to avoid most of the difficulties with which sectarians are always grappling; for it is only when a person goes beyond the words of divine revelation that he meets with contradictions or apparently incompatible statements.
In connection with this thought the apostle once more urges his pupil; The excellent deposit guard through the Holy Spirit, that dwells in us. Having just admonished Timothy to adhere to the form of sound doctrine for his own person, Paul now drives home the other truth, namely, that this precious deposit of the pure truth must be guarded against all contamination. In his own power, by his own reason and strength, it is true that no pastor is able to defend and guard the doctrine of Christ against the various attacks that are made against it, against the suspicions that are being spread concerning it. If a man studies the Bible just as he does any other book, if he believes that the application of mere worldly wisdom will suffice for its defense, he will soon find out just how badly in error he was with his ideas. The precious blessing of evangelical truth can be kept safe only through the Holy Ghost. Even in Baptism this Spirit has made His abode in us, and He will continue to use our hearts as His shrine as long as we continue in the words of our Savior. What comfort for the simple, faithful minister of the Word!