Home   e-Library       中文 
e-Library Home |  Browse By Category |  Study the Bible    
 (Manna 68: Succession: Generation Next)
Fulfill Your Ministry—A Study on 2 Timothy (I)
TOC | Previous | Next

Fulfill Your Ministry—A Study on 2 Timothy (I)

Based on Bible Study Guide: Thessalonians, Timothy and Titus
Published by the True Jesus Church.


According to the testimony of the early church, Paul was imprisoned in Rome a second time and put to death by the Roman Emperor Nero. It was during this second Roman imprisonment (A.D. 66–67) that Paul penned the second epistle to Timothy. The writing style of this epistle is personal, reflecting Paul’s farewell address to his fellow worker and “beloved son” (1:2). This is also Paul’s last epistle, written at the end of his life.

Paul urges Timothy not to be ashamed of the testimony of the Lord but share with him in the sufferings for the gospel. Knowing that false teachers will rise to resist the truth, Paul stresses the importance of holding fast the pattern of sound doctrine and instructs Timothy to be strong. He gives Timothy the solemn charge to preach the word and to endure afflictions. With these last words of exhortation, the apostle passes on the legacy and the divine commission to his son in the faith.

Below are some of Paul’s invaluable messages to Timothy, which are equally applicable to us.

Do Not Be Ashamed of the Gospel

In the opening chapter, Paul encouraged Timothy to press on in the calling and ministry of God even in the face of adversity.

Remember God’s Blessings

“I thank God, whom I serve with a pure conscience.” (1:3)

The early church was undergoing great persecution when this epistle was written, and many saints had already been martyred. Paul himself had been imprisoned and knew that he had reached the end of his life. In the face of great persecution from the authorities, the presence of false brethren within the church, heresies clouding the truth, workers leaving the ministry and faithful workers being martyred, Paul continued to give thanks to God when he remembered Timothy’s genuine faith, which dwelt first in Timothy’s grandmother and mother. Timothy’s genuine faith in God serves as a source of comfort and encouragement to Paul.

In our journey of faith, we must continue in fervent prayer and give thanks to God, irrespective of our environment. This is possible only if we always remember the good things God has done for us and deeply trust that God has His purpose behind the adversities that befall us.

Stir up the Gift of God

“Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.” (1:6)

God has enabled Timothy to have an excellent legacy of faith (1:5). Because of this precious legacy, Paul reminds Timothy that he must put this faith to good use. He must not neglect the gift of the ministry he has received (cf. 1 Tim 4:14), but must stir up this gift.

Likewise, for us today, we ought to constantly examine and revive our zeal and our commitment to the Lord’s ministry. It is easy to become disheartened and give up when we meet with difficulties in our ministry. But we cannot let circumstances defeat us and put out the flame that God has placed in our hearts. Instead, we need to stir up the gift that is in us and serve the Lord with even greater vigor.

Spirit of Power, Love and Sound Mind

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (1:7).

This is an apt reminder for us living in the last days. God has given us power so that we may do what seems humanly impossible and carry out God’s will (cf. Acts 4:33; 2 Cor 4:7–11; 10:4–5; 12:9–10; Eph 3:20; 6:10–20; Phil 4:10–13; Col 1:9–11; 2 Thess 1:11; Heb 11:32–34). With the spirit of power in us, we can be strong and we do not need to be afraid of hardship or difficulties.

Having the love of God in our hearts, we will be motivated to live for Christ and bring the gospel of salvation to others (2 Cor 5:14–15). This spirit of love gives us the courage to overcome all obstacles in the way of our service. When we only seek our selfish interests, we will fear suffering for the gospel. But if we are selfless, then we will not hesitate to sacrifice ourselves for the gospel.

A sound mind, or self-discipline, enables us to act with composure and wisdom (cf. Ex 14:10–14; 1 Sam 30:6; Acts 7:54–60). Instead of panicking with fear, we can trust in God and be prudent in our actions.

Know Whom You Have Believed

For this reason 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 what I have committed to Him until that Day.


In this famous conviction statement, Paul shows total trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul does not say, “I know what I have believed,” but he says, “I know whom I have believed.” His knowledge is not just in a set of creeds, theories, or philosophies; rather, he has come to know Jesus Christ personally. He knows Jesus Christ as his Savior, who loved him and died for him, the chief of sinners (1 Cor 2:2; Gal 2:20; 1 Tim 1:15–16). He knows Jesus Christ as his Lord, to whom he has dedicated his life (2 Cor 5:15; 1 Tim 1:1). He also knows Jesus Christ as his Defender, who has always stood by him, and his Deliverer, who will not forsake him but will deliver him from every evil work and preserve him for His heavenly kingdom (2 Tim 4:18).

As believers who have already accepted Christ, our knowledge of the Lord must grow and deepen. This knowledge comes about when we live a new life in Christ (2 Cor 5:16–17). As members of Christ’s body, we can grow in our knowledge of Jesus Christ through mutual edification with the truth (Eph 4:11–13). In our personal lives, we may grow in our knowledge of Christ by diligently conforming to Christ’s likeness and obeying Christ’s commands (Eph 4:20–24; Phil 3:8–10; Col 1:10; 3:8–10; 2 Pet 1:2–8; 1 Jn 2:4; 3:6). We also need to pray for the fullness of the Spirit of wisdom and revelation so that our knowledge of God may continue to grow (Eph 1:17–18; 3:14–19).

The Lord is trustworthy. Those who believe in Him will not be put to shame (Rom 10:11). Because Paul knows that the Lord he trusts in is dependable, he is not ashamed of the testimony of the Lord. God is able to keep what the believer has committed to Him until His return. The believer’s deposit in Christ includes his salvation, his walk of faith, and his service.

Be Rooted in the Truth

Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. That good thing which was committed to you, keep by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us.


The word “pattern” means prototype. The gospel that the apostles preached is the prototype to which Timothy and all preachers of the gospel must conform (cf. Eph 2:20). This also applies to us who are entrusted with the same “pattern of sound words”. We have to be deeply rooted in the truth and guard the faith, the ministry, and the sound doctrine that the Lord has entrusted to us.

This is to be done through constant prayer in the Holy Spirit and heeding the Spirit’s voice, as the Holy Spirit is a sword through the word of God (Eph 6:17). He enables us to wage the good warfare, combating all false doctrines.

A Good Worker of Jesus Christ

In the second chapter, Paul teaches Timothy how to be a good worker of God. The attributes of a good worker can be broadly classified into three aspects: endurance in hardship, faithfulness to the truth, and godly character.

Be Strong

You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.


In this context, to be strong means to have the courage and the endurance to face hardship. This strength is not based on human courage, but on the grace of Christ Jesus. In other words, it is by depending on the gracious help of God rather than on self-confidence that we can truly be strong.

Apart from serving God faithfully and fulfilling our ministry, it is important that we pay attention to searching out faithful men to whom we can entrust the word of God and the ministry. These faithful men themselves must also be able to teach others in order to ensure continuity of the word and the ministry. This principle applies to all areas of church work where we need to consciously nurture successors.

Endure Hardship

“You therefore must endure hardship…” (2:3)

Paul uses analogies of soldier, athlete and farmer to illustrate this point. A soldier needs to endure hardship. He has to be absolutely focused on his mission and not entangle himself with civilian affairs. An athlete needs to push himself to the limit in training and competition, and he must also exercise self-discipline and integrity in following rules of the competition. A farmer has to labor and endure physical fatigue from dawn till dusk. He also needs to wait patiently for the time of harvest.

All three metaphors illustrate the physical and mental endurance that a good worker of God must have. In order to carry out the Lord’s commission, we need to persevere and not shrink from hardship. Just as the soldier, the athlete, and the farmer do not labor without a purpose, our endurance has a purpose, as it achieves for us the reward in heaven. As we press on toward this reward, we must be focused, disciplined, and diligent in the ministry.

The secret of the ability to endure hardship is to focus on Jesus Christ’s resurrection, the foundation on which the gospel and the ministry stand. Because Christ is risen, our faith and our message are not in vain. We serve and preach the risen Savior, so our work is most noble. Christ’s resurrection also signifies the victory that Christians will have (1 Cor 15:51–58). Hence, just as Christ initially endured in suffering but emerged victorious eventually, we will likewise be victorious if we continue to endure.

Be Faithful to the Truth

Remind them of these things, charging them before the Lord not to strive about words to no profit, to the ruin of the hearers. Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness.


Learning the word of God helps us to understand the will of God and edifies the listeners. It should not be turned into a debate on semantics. As an evangelist, Timothy has to be circumspect in speech, and refrain from participating in gossip and useless chatter or proclaiming popular ideologies. He must stay away from everything that is contrary to sound doctrine and godliness. Because of the serious influence that false doctrines can have on believers, Paul “delivered such false teachers to Satan” (1 Tim 1:19–20). John also teaches us not to even greet such people or receive them into our house (2 Jn 10).

Just as important, Timothy must also be diligent to present himself approved to God. A teacher of God’s word should faithfully proclaim the word of God so that he has no reason to be ashamed when his work is tested. He needs to have a clear understanding and be able to discern between truth and error. He must be filled with the Holy Spirit in order to interpret the truth correctly (1 Cor 2:12–14; Jn 16:13) and the courage to make a clear stand for what is right. Instead of preaching messages that are both “yes and no,” he will truthfully and faithfully speak according to God’s will (2 Cor 1:17–20; Mt 5:37).

Depart from Iniquity

Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.”


The foundation of God denotes what God has established, including God’s election, the truth, and the church on which the truth stands (cf. 1 Tim 3:15). The foundation has been sealed, which means it has been established by a divine decree and therefore cannot be changed. The inscriptions on this seal are “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.”

Just as a shepherd knows his sheep, the Lord knows who are truly His (Jn 10:14). A believer who truly belongs to God will be acknowledged and accepted by God, regardless of how others view him. When Korah and others challenged God’s election of Moses and Aaron as the leaders, the Lord showed the assembly of Israel who belonged to Him. In the same way, the Lord will eventually reveal who are His.

Therefore, we should simply trust that God knows and will keep those who belong to Him. Conversely, God also commands everyone who names the name of Christ to depart from iniquity. While God is the ultimate judge of who truly belongs to him, we need to examine ourselves to see if we can stand before God with a clear conscience. Our part as people who profess the name of Christ is to make sure that we depart from iniquity.

Be Holy

But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.


Here Paul explains that when God uses a person, He does not look at the person’s skills or intelligence because God can easily grant these to whomever He chooses to use. Instead, God chooses those who cleanse themselves from iniquity, are pure in heart, and who faithfully teach and practice the word of truth.

Likewise today, if we desire to serve Him, we have to strive for holiness. Only then can we be useful and well pleasing to our Lord.


(To be continued….)

PDF Download