2 Timothy 2:1-7
New American Standard Bible
2 You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful people who will be able to teach others also. 3 Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him. 5 And if someone likewise competes as an athlete, he is not crowned as victor unless he competes according to the rules. 6 The hard-working farmer ought to be the first to receive his share of the crops. 7 Consider what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.
Paul writes you therefore as he points to what was previously said in the preceding verses. Paul has highlighted those who have abandoned him and the call of Jesus Christ, but Paul has also pointed to Onesiphorus who has not abandoned him, but who has shown faithfulness. Paul is pointing Timothy to these things to learn from them. Some of the greatest lessons we will learn is observing the mistakes and short comings that have gone on before us and not repeating them.
Paul calls Timothy his son. Timothy is not Paul’s physical son but his spiritual son. Paul has diligently prayed not and day over the life of Timothy. This should be the heart desire of anyone we are discipling in our lives. Every one of us in the body of Christ is called to make disciples. Those God has placed in our lives that we are discipling we must diligently pray for and invest our lives in. When we invest our life in the lives of people it is an eternal investment that carries eternal rewards.
Strong is the Greek word endynamoo and it means to be or become rendered (more) capable or able for some task. Our strength and ability to accomplish the purposes of God is not found in ourselves. It is found in Christ alone. Therefore, Paul points to the grace found in Jesus Christ. Grace means God’s unmerited favor. It is not something we earn or deserve. It is something that is poured out in our lives because of what Christ has done for us. If God has called us to anything, it is God who will equip and enable us for the task ahead. But the key to accomplishing the purposes of God is abiding in Christ. It is trusting Him each step of the way. Not trying to figure things out or come up with our own plan, but simply trusting Jesus each step of the way. This is what Paul is calling Timothy to do. He will face challenges of all kinds, but through every trial and challenge, the Lord will grow him as a leader, pastor, and shepherd. The call to follow Jesus is not easy, it is often very difficult, but thankfully His grace is sufficient.
In verse two the word faithful is the Greek word pistos and it means characterized by steadfast affection or allegiance. Timothy is called to entrust what Paul has preached in the presence of many witnesses to faithful men. Paul is speaking of elders whose lives were marked by being reliable and faithful in all things. The mistake that is often made in ministry is people focus on what they see on the outside. If someone is charismatic or spiritually gifted people may jump to the conclusion that they should be entrusted with authority. When we give someone a platform to teach, we entrust them with incredible authority. They know have a platform to influence the lives of others and if they are not a person of character and integrity it may cause far more damage in the long run.
Paul knew that his time is short. Paul is not concerned about his legacy or the fame of his name. Paul is concerned about the advancement of the kingdom, and he understands this is dependent on rightly dividing the word and properly preaching the gospel. When the gospel is properly preached, lives will be changed. When the truth of Jesus Christ goes forth it demolishes the strongholds of the devil and plants the seed of God’s word into the hearts and minds of people. Those seeds are watered as we pray and continue to proclaim the truth of God’s word. But ultimately the one who brings kingdom increase is The Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will only honor those things that are preached and taught where Christ is glorified, and Jesus is the priority. Everything the Holy Spirit does is to point all attention to Jesus and what He has accomplished at Calvary. In ministry our focus must not only be on the present generation we are ministering to, but generations that will follow. We see this as Paul highlights not only the men Timothy will teach but the others that will follow them as well.
Paul says to suffer hardship with me. Paul knew suffering very well. In 2 Corinthians 11 we have a testimony from Paul of all the different ways that he suffered for the gospel. If we are going to remain true to preaching the gospel there will be opposition. The greatest way we prepare for suffering and are able to stand when suffering happens is to understand the reality of it and to build our relationship with Christ on a daily basis. The ability to suffer for Jesus is not found in ourselves. If anything, we do for Christ is dependent on us we will fail miserably. But the ability to suffer and endure suffering is because of the work and person of Jesus within us.
The one who originally pioneered and endured suffering was Jesus Himself. He said that in this world we would have trouble, but to fear not He has overcome the world. If He faced suffering, how much more will we who hold fast to who He is and the truth He proclaimed. In America often we have distorted the gospel. We instead have presented a message that is focused on health and prosperity. I won’t deny that God doesn’t bless those who walk with Him. But I have learned in my own life that the greatest works of God is done in the place of suffering. Every time we endeavor to take ground for God’s kingdom, we must expect satanic opposition. Often that opposition will come in the form of persecution. Those who persecute us are simply blind sheep without a shepherd. They don’t personally know Jesus and are simply pawns of the enemy. Therefore, Jesus said to pray for those who persecute us, and we are called to love them.
Paul is going to use three different analogies to drive home the work and toil that is involved in ministry. Today because of social media many believe ministry is glamourous and many long to become celebrity pastors. But the honest truth is ministry is work. We are empowered and equipped by the Lord, but we are still called to put our hand to the plow and faithfully serve the Lord when it isn’t easy. When we examine the life of a soldier we see when they enlist, they are no longer focused on what they want or their own selfish pursuit. They give up self for the greater good of the whole. The only way an army can be successful is if every member of that army and unit are faithful doing their job. The reality is as Christians we are in the middle of a spiritual warzone every day and must expect satanic opposition and suffering. But regardless of what we face, Jesus is greater, and His grace is sufficient.
A soldier has a single-minded focus. They are focused on pleasing their commanding officer. This is how things are accomplished in the military and the field of battle. As a minister of the gospel our commanding officer is Jesus Christ. In everything we do we strive to please and honor Him. Our focus must be upon His kingdom alone. Paul speaks of not becoming entangled in civilian affairs. In this life there are things that would try to distract from what God is planning and revealing to us. We must have a healthy spiritual balance in our lives between work and rest. If we overexert without proper rest, we will in time burn out. But if we rest and allow laziness to creep in, we are wasting time which is one of the most valuable resources God has given us.
Those who are good soldiers in the kingdom of God are those who are wise stewards of not only the gifts and talents God has given them, but they are also wise stewards of their time. We must diligently seek the Lord for His will and His leading. If prayer is the priority of our lives, the Holy Spirit will open our minds and hearts to understand what God is calling us to do. He will highlight for us things that are detracting from what God has called us to do. Paul said in verse three that Timothy is called to be a good soldier. That instruction not only stands for Timothy, but all who would call themselves disciples of Jesus Christ. We are called to emulate our commanding officer in all things and a careful study of His life in the gospel reveals a life that is fully surrendered and led by the Holy Spirit in all things.
In verse five Paul uses the analogy of an athlete. If an athlete was going to win the victors crown in the Olympic games, they had to go into strict training and compete according to the rules that were established. God has given us His word and as ministers and preachers of His word we must do all things according to His word and the leading and guidance of The Holy Spirit. We must be willing to submit to suffering. Paul pointed out to Timothy those who were willing to suffer and those who had abandoned him. Paul was encouraging Timothy, but he was also giving Timothy a warning.
If someone desires to be an exceptional athlete, their training must be hard, difficult, diligent, and disciplined. When God is preparing someone to be used by Him this will often be the case in their preparation. There are moments in which we may even wonder if God has abandoned or forsaken us when He is molding and shaping us for His purposes and His plans. But this is why developing intimacy with Him is the key. If we are simply following Jesus so He can put us on a stage and every buddy can shout our name, we have lost sight of what it means to follow Jesus. Often the training we go through puts to death selfish ambition and produces within us the character and nature of Christ.
In verse six the phrase hard working is the Greek word kopiao and it means to do wearisome labor, or labor unto extreme fatigue. The hard-working farmer is someone who is discipline, who gets up early in the morning, who battles against diseases, insects, and challenges of all kinds. They must diligently care for the things they are planting to see a harvest in due time. A hard-working farmer is someone who is marked by a work ethic that is consistently committed to the task that is before them.
When we look at the work of ministry, we can see the parallels that exist. As a shepherd and minister Timothy is called to plant the word, water the word, and delicately take care of those he is over. At times pruning must happen for greater growth to take place. There are times when God may have to remove programs or ministries to make room for greater growth. The purposes of God are a mystery to us. His ways and thoughts are higher and different than our own. But even though it is the Holy Spirit who brings the increase, we must still put our hand to the plow and do the work of ministry. We can’t merely pray and sit back and wait for God to do the work. Prayer must proceed all work of ministry but we must diligently do all things that the Holy Spirit leads us to do.
When we look at large productive farms we see that it is not the work of a sole individual. There is a team of people involved and the same exist in ministry. God’s desire is to grow and expand their kingdom and as a ministry grows the work ethic of the minister doesn’t change, but their ability to lead must increase and it must grow. In the body of Christ there are many gifts and the key to successful kingdom leadership is finding where every piece fits. Whatever God is calling us to do He will provide the people and the resources. We must not make the mistake in overlooking those God has sent our way and finding where they properly fit.
In verse seven the word understanding is the Greek word synesis and it means an ability to understand the meaning or importance of something (or the knowledge acquired as a result). It can also be translated insight. Paul’s desire for Timothy is that he would have understanding into these three things he had mentioned so Timothy could understand how to apply them to his life and ministry daily. Paul knew that his time was short, and his life was coming to an end. He wanted to equip Timothy the best he could for the challenges and trials Timothy would face. If we are truly doing the work of the kingdom there will be opposition to all that God is calling us to do.
But not only understanding in the analogy of the soldier, the athlete, and farmer, but also understanding in everything. One of the greatest things a leader and minister can pray for is wisdom. Wisdom enables us to understand how to apply the principles of God’s kingdom to the challenges we are currently facing. The life of a leader is filled with continual challenges and decisions. The more we grow and mature as a leader, the greater the challenges and decisions we must make. The intimacy we build with Christ is essential in seeing the purposes of the kingdom produced and accomplished in our lives. The life of a leader can be very lonely at times. But that loneliness will be greatly impacted if our hiding place is found in the secret place of The Most High.
 Rick Brannan, ed., Lexham Research Lexicon of the Greek New Testament, Lexham Research Lexicons (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2020).  Rick Brannan, ed., Lexham Research Lexicon of the Greek New Testament, Lexham Research Lexicons (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2020).  Rick Brannan, ed., Lexham Research Lexicon of the Greek New Testament, Lexham Research Lexicons (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2020).  Rick Brannan, ed., Lexham Research Lexicon of the Greek New Testament, Lexham Research Lexicons (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2020).