Theme: Three More Useful Images
In this week’s lessons, Paul reminds Timothy of those things he is to avoid, as well as those that he must practice, in order to please the Lord in his life and service.
Scripture: 2 Timothy 2:14-15
In 2 Timothy 2:14 Paul tells Timothy to keep reminding those under his care of all these things that Paul has been saying. We might wonder why Paul feels the need to keep stressing the same ideas that seem rather clear for how a Christian is supposed to live because of what Christ has done for them. Yet, whether because of sin or because of the feebleness of human nature we do tend to forget. That is just as true in our day as it is in Paul’s. This is why as a minister I find that much of what I say as a preacher is to remind people of who God is, what he has done to redeem us from our sins, and how Christians must live as a result of that. Of course, I try to give these reminders in different ways, and use different illustrations. But we also need to know that Scripture itself tells us to remember and not forget those instructions God has graciously given to us.
Now Paul begins this passage in that way and then goes on in a series of images to instruct Timothy in the way he is to conduct himself as a faithful minister of the gospel. By extension, all Christians also need to remember that in whatever work God has given them to do, we’re all to live as servants of Jesus Christ. You recall from our previous study that in the first half of this chapter Paul’s introduced three key images, that of a soldier, athlete, and a farmer. For the soldier, Paul’s main idea is that he endures hardship in order to please his commanding officer. He lays aside other things that will interfere with his calling to be an obedient soldier. Similarly, that is how we as soldiers of Jesus Christ are to be. We are to free ourselves from the world’s offerings that would pull us away from Christ.
Then, in the athletic image, Paul focuses on the need for the athlete to compete by the rules, lest he be disqualified and so fail to win the prize that comes with victory. Spiritually speaking, Paul is telling Timothy that the Lord Jesus Christ is our coach. As we run the race of the Christian life, there are rules that Jesus has laid down by which our race must be run. If we want to gain the victor’s crown, we must live according to the commands that God gives us in Scripture. It is those who believe what God has said in his Word and do it who will go on to participate in the rewards of God’s people.
The third previous image we looked at was that of the farmer. Paul’s emphasis there is that a farmer participates in the reward of his harvest, after he has worked hard and long in the heat of the summer sun. When he finally gets to obtain the crop for which he has toiled, it is a time of joy and satisfaction over his harvest. Paul wants Timothy to work as a good farmer in the field of the Lord.
Now in this section he gives us three more images. First, he talks about a workman in verses 14-19, somebody who has a special skill. Then secondly, in verses 20 and 21 he makes a point about a vessel or utensil in the household of a great man. Lastly, in verses 24 through the end of the chapter, he describes believers as servants of the Lord.
When he uses the image of a workman, he makes a contrast between those who do their work well and those who do not. Now the task of the workman, spiritually speaking, is that of teaching the Bible and making the Word of God known. Paul is saying there are people who do that well and there are people who don’t do it well. He’s encouraging Timothy and, by application, others who read this instruction. Paul wants them to work hard to make sure they are good workmen rather than bad. Timothy is certainly an example of a good workman, while he refers to two other people who are not.
Review the three images from our last study, and how they instruct Timothy in the work he has been given to do.
What three images does Paul use in this chapter?
Reflection: Why do we need to be reminded of basic Christian concepts, such as who God is and how we are to live as a result?