2:1 Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
The therefore requires the modern-day reader to rewind and examine why Timothy is to “be strong in the grace” of Jesus Christ. Timothy when receiving the letter, likely would read all the way through the letter as letters are typically read. Reading a letter in its entirety, keeps continuation and we see what the “therefores” are “there for,” fluidly.
With this in mind, Paul emboldens Timothy to be strong in Christ’s grace because he has reminded Timothy of the bold Spirit within him and the “good thing” committed unto Timothy by the Holy Spirit.
In this same state of mind, Paul reaffirms Timothy through the example of Onesiphorus who exemplified an unashamed, diligent Christian. Applying this in the contemporary setting looks like this-
We are able to be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus, because Christ Jesus is in us by His Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 1:7).
2:2 And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.
An easy way to summarize “the things” that Paul is referring to, is what is known among Christians as doctrine, specifically rightly divided as Paul taught it. Paul issues a similar request in 2 Timothy 1:13 and numerous other locations throughout his letters (Romans 16:17; Titus 1:9).
Paul is not shy to ask for spiritual grandchildren who continue a Christ-like legacy in his passing. He is firm to emphasize however that spiritual grandchildren teach the words as given from Paul. This is a pre-affirmation to a principal focus seen within 2 Timothy 2:15 and that we have alluded to, that the rightly divided word is the form of sound words held fast as heard from Paul.
Holding fast to doctrine implies that the faithful student of the Word does not deviate from how the original word was given and what was said. The spiritual grandchildren of Paul unto this day, need to deliver the word as “thou hast heard [Timothy].”
2:3 Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
Moving forward, once again we recognize that as Paul charges Timothy with a Godly calling, Timothy must therefore endure hardness. The illustration here for someone who endures hardness is a “good soldier.”
Many times, the Christian will place this ideal into a contemporary context in order to explain it. Notice however, Timothy would not see a soldier as we would. The idea is similar, nonetheless, the manner by which a soldier operated was considerably different from today.
A Biblical example of this is with the armor of God found in Ephesians 6. Soldiers wore breastplates, they girted their loins, they likely were a derivation of a sandal, a helmet, they had a sword, shield, and top of that- They walked everywhere.
This should cause a person to evaluate all of the Scriptures where Paul refers to a Godly walk. This life we live is not a casual stroll, rather it should be a life on a mission, equipped with God’s armor ready, and willing to endure hardness.
This is the context in which Timothy likely would read this letter and associate a soldier with himself.
2:4-7 No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.
And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully.
The husbandman that laboureth must be first partaker of the fruits.
Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things.
Beginning in verse 4, some may be able to slightly draw on some contemporary context as a soldier. Since the beginning of military engagement, soldiers answer and carry out the business of the one who deploys them.
Therefore, if we are deployed by Christ then our deployment should not be carnal or fleshly, but rather an assault on the evil strongholds that are contrary to God. He has provided us with articulate and efficient weaponry for the job, notably, His Word (2 Corinthians 10:1-6; Ephesians 6:10-18).
Coinciding with our offensive arsenal, we also have the capabilities to defend ourselves, which is our faith and hope (Ephesians 6:16).
When our warfare becomes centered on taking down carnal strongholds then it would be a good time to return to the battlefield and away from being AWOL (absent without leave).
Christ has already provided victory in our spiritual struggle and this is what pleases God as we live in this victory, not the physical and fleshly.
In fact, in verse 5, Paul is referencing Roman and Greek laws that allow for soldiers to avoid being distracted by civil occupations and alternate masteries. In that time of constant threats, if the army fell, often the way of life followed anyway.
Military was an honor occupation and field that exempted a man from anything other than that in which he was called to do- Wage war. We as Christians are to be the same and are called to be about the Father’s business solely.
The Apostle Paul concludes this note by referring to another contextual illustration relevant to Timothy. He refers to a husbandman, which for all intents and purposes, is a farmer. A farmer must first sow and cultivate land before a harvest and undoubtedly, the farmer is the first to receive the fruits of his labor and because of this fact, Paul encourages Timothy to labor in spiritual endeavors.
2:8-9 Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel:
Wherein I suffer trouble, as an evil doer, even unto bonds; but the word of God is not bound.
There is an immense number of Scriptural references that exemplify the fact that remembrance often precedes encouragement and action (e.g., Deuteronomy 6:12; Psalm 77:11; 1 Corinthians 11:1-2). As Christians, much like Timothy, remembrance of Christ’s finished work should move us to strive for spiritual fruit in our unfinished story.
It should be noted that Paul calls to Timothy to specifically remember the resurrection. The resurrection is the means by which victory was accomplished and that by which we are justified. Christ died for our sins but only by His resurrection can we be justified and reconciled (Romans 4:25).
Timothy understood well that being justified like Christ, we will rise as well. This is a component of the Gospel that is a crucial element of the Gospel delivered unto Paul directly by Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:20-23). This Gospel is important for the Christian to cling to and correctly understanding the uniqueness of Paul’s Gospel as revealed to him will allow the Christian to correctly understand their identity.
This resurrection of the Body of Christ is one unique component to Paul’s Gospel along with the breakdown of distinctions between Jew and Gentile and the definition of the Gospel’s ability to establish humanity (Romans 2:16; Romans 16:25).
Moving on, Paul addresses the trouble he faces because of his work for the Gospel. Contextually, his current situation is being in bondage awaiting his martyrdom. Despite this grim reality, the Gospel and God’s Word is not bound by his current situation and God was, and still is, at work through him. This Scripture echoes the prophecy regarding Jesus Christ in Isaiah 55:11 as the reader learns that the Word of God is boundless. God’s people know it cannot be contained within chains. What is sent out, will fulfill His purpose.
Being bound in the troubles of the world, will not hinder God. In fact, we find that in our weakness that Christ is strong (2 Corinthians 12:9). Paul was holding true to his character, his writings, and being a beautiful example of perseverance to Timothy as he got ready to carry on the ministry without Paul.