An apostle, a herald, and a teacher (2 Tim 1:9-11)

So far in 2 Timothy, Paul has reminded Timothy to follow his example and get on with his calling – fanning into flame his gift. He’s been given God’s power to carry out the mission, so he shouldn’t be ashamed of anything – whether it be the gospel itself, or Paul’s imprisonment for the sake of it.

Today, Paul reminds Timothy that just as he’s been equipped by God to do the work, he’s also been given a great motivation for the work: God’s grace.

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Timid Timothy?

Yesterday we looked at the theme statement of 2 Timothy: Paul told Timothy to fan into flame his gift. To remember that God has given him power, love, and self-discipline – which is enough to counter the fear of any shame that might come his way by being associated with the gospel, and with Paul’s imprisonment. But does this suggest that Timothy was being a bit cowardly, a bit timid? That’s been the traditional way of reading it. But today, we take a brief look at this issue (repeating a post from 2014) since I think the traditional understanding is open to being challenged.

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Fan into flame (2 Timothy 1:6-8)

Continuing in 2 Timothy, we’ve made it past the opening thanksgiving, in which Paul urges Timothy to live up to Paul’s example, and to his own spiritual heritage. Today, we get what is probably the theme statement of this letter:

2 Timothy 1:6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 

Paul’s example and Timothy’s family heritage (vv3-5) are the reason Paul gives for his reminder to Timothy. (Although it’s phrased like a gentle “reminder,” in this kind of letter from a superior it functions as a command.) And his instruction is to fan into flame the gift of God. But what does this mean?

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Remember your heritage (2 Timothy 1:1-5)

So far in 2 Timothy we’ve seen that Paul is probably writing this letter from a Roman gaol (not just under house arrest) and facing the likelihood that he’ll soon be executed. He’s sent for Timothy to be with him during this dark time. But since this takes the form of a letter of moral exhortation, he’s also reminding Timothy of their relationship, and of Paul’s example which Timothy is to imitate in terms of character and behaviour. The most important thing Paul wanted to pass on before his death was… himself. The model he has been for Timothy in how to live for Jesus.  Today, we begin chapter 1.

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Introducing 2 Timothy – Part Two

Yesterday, we began our series in 2 Timothy by looking at the historical background. We found that Paul was writing from prison (probably via Luke, since it’s hard to write while you’re stuck in a dungeon) asking Timothy to come to see him in Rome – and to bring his cloak and study materials. He’s facing death, and this is possibly his last chance to write to Timothy.

So what does he write? Or to put it another way, what kind of letter is this?

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Introducing 2 Timothy – Part One

Over the next three weeks we’ll be working our way through Paul’s second letter to Timothy. In prison and facing imminent death, these are some of the last words Paul ever wrote… or are they? This is the background issue we begin with today, before we get to the letter itself on Wednesday.

The dearly departing…

The big question about Paul’s circumstances when writing the letter is whether this was his final imprisonment before his martyrdom in 67AD when Emperor Nero decided he now didn’t like Christians very much. (Unless they were really on-fire.) You’d think so, reading this bit:

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Amos 9

We’ve made it to the end of Amos! (We start 2 Timothy next week.) And as promised, it ends on a note of hope. But not before a bit more judgement…

Amos 9:1-4 I saw the Lord standing by the altar, and he said: “Strike the tops of the pillars so that the thresholds shake. Bring them down on the heads of all the people; those who are left I will kill with the sword. Not one will get away, none will escape. Though they dig down to the depths below, from there my hand will take them. Though they climb up to the heavens above, from there I will bring them down. Though they hide themselves on the top of Carmel, there I will hunt them down and seize them. Though they hide from my eyes at the bottom of the sea, there I will command the serpent to bite them. Though they are driven into exile by their enemies, there I will command the sword to slay them. I will keep my eye on them for harm and not for good.”

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Amos 8

We’ve almost finished our tour through Amos. Which probably hasn’t been the most uplifting experience, talking about the repeated failure of God’s people, and coming judgement. And there’s more of that today. But we’ll finish on some more hopeful stuff tomorrow. Promise.

At the start of chapter 8, God continues in the children’s talk format with which he began chapter 7, this time bringing in a fruit basket as a prop:

Amos 8:1 This is what the Sovereign Lord showed me: a basket of ripe fruit. “What do you see, Amos?” he asked. “A basket of ripe fruit,” I answered.

A sticker for young Amos down the front.

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Amos 7

We continue in Amos chapter 7 where, just for a change of pace, Amos talks about judgement…

Amos 7:1-4 ​ This is what the Sovereign Lord showed me: He was preparing swarms of locusts after the king’s share had been harvested and just as the late crops were coming up. When they had stripped the land clean, I cried out, “Sovereign Lord, forgive! How can Jacob survive? He is so small!” So the Lord relented. “This will not happen,” the Lord said.

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