2 Timothy 2:8-13 The more believers persevere in the face of unjust suffering, the more the gospel shines through them

2 Timothy 2:8-13  The more believers persevere in the face of unjust suffering, the more the gospel shines through them

8 Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David, according to my gospel, 9 for which I suffer hardship even to imprisonment as a criminal; but the word of God is not imprisoned. 10 For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory. 11 It is a trustworthy statement:

For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him;
12 If we endure, we will also reign with Him;
If we deny Him, He also will deny us;
13 If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.

Background

Paul elaborates on the reasons why he chooses to suffer imprisonment and even death. As the fate of countless souls hangs in the balance, Paul must endure to the end in order to preserve the message of the gospel: Salvation comes through faith made evident by a righteous life. His opposers preach a gospel that offers salvation without repentance, the goal of which is personal gratification, not godliness. Recanting the gospel truth would mean immediate freedom for Paul but a fatal blow to the infant church and many souls will be lost forever. Paul may be imprisoned, but the Word continues to propagate beyond the prison walls by the letters he wrote. His testimony of courage fuels the spirit of believers everywhere causing them to arise to the call of the great commission. Today’s devotion teaches: The more believers persevere in the face of unjust suffering, the more the gospel shines through them.

Observation

Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David.

Paul draws upon Jesus Christ’s resurrection for assurance that the expansion of God’s kingdom will continue despite his imprisonment and imminent death. As the powers of darkness failed to keep Jesus in the grave, likewise, the gospel cannot be stopped. Indeed, Jesus’s resurrection has permanently disarmed the rulers of darkness causing the church to reign over them. However, the revival of the gospel necessitates the suffering of the saints. To be more precise, Paul understood that in order for the gospel to be propagated with power, suffering is necessary. It is evident in biblical and modern church history that every revival is preceded by untold suffering and death of the saints… As day is preceded by night, resurrection by death, and so is revival by the suffering of the righteous. Should Paul’s opposers succeed in passing a death sentence on him, many more will arise in his place to preach the gospel.

For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen.

For this reason: that suffering is necessary to usher in the revival of the gospel, for which he suffered imprisonment and even death. However, that is not to say that God is selective concerning who should be saved and who should not. For God wants all people to be saved and none to perish (see 1 Timothy 2:4). The word “chosen” is used in the context of the final judgment where God chooses and…

…renders to each person according to his deeds: to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation. Romans 2:6-8

And because God through His perfect wisdom already knows those who are His (see 2 Timothy 2:19), He endeavours to reach them through His apostles and ministers. Should Paul gives up and recants, those whom God has chosen for salvation may be lost. And his disciples including Timothy and the infant church would very well be gone too.

That said, Paul’s troubles are clearly not his own, for he suffered for the salvation of those whom God has chosen. Many suffered personal illness or poverty but Paul was not imprisoned for his own undoing. If not because of the many souls that are waiting to be saved, he could have been a free man.

It is a trustworthy statement…

The phrase “trustworthy statement” connotes a universal and unchanging principle. Here, Paul offers four principles that Timothy must keep in his heart if he is to succeed.

The first principle: For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him. The necessity of denying our personal interests to the extent of giving up our lives if we are to be glorified with Christ. “Live with Him” denotes a kind of resurrection that approaches that of Christ’s.

The second principle: If we endure, we will also reign with Him. The necessity of enduring all kinds of unjust suffering without giving up if we are to rule creation with Christ.

The third principle: If we deny Him, He also will deny us. The necessity of confessing Christ as Lord despite persecutions and death if we are to be recognised as God’s children.

The fourth principle: If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself. Here is the principle that upholds all the other principles: Christ’s undying faithfulness and infinite patience towards believers. If Timothy struggles to die to his personal agenda,… if he cannot endure the unjust suffering… if he should deny Him for some reason… God remains ever faithful to forgive his failures and strengthen him.

Truth

The more believers persevere in the face of unjust suffering, the more the gospel shines through them.

The only way the stars can be visible is at night when all is dark and gloomy. Similarly, the power and glory of the gospel is made visible through the lives of persevering Christians in the midst of suffering. The attitude of one in the midst of suffering is what differentiates the gospel of Paul from the other gospels. If your gospel is true, then it should produce strength and hope regardless of the circumstances. Paul may be imprisoned, but the Word continues to propagate beyond the prison walls by the letters he wrote. His testimony of courage fuels the spirit of believers everywhere causing them to arise to the call of the great commission.

Therefore, believers must count unjust suffering and unwarranted troubles as fuel for the fire of the gospel. Believers must not be given to complains but allow the Spirit of the gospel to shine through with steely resolve, hope and joy. The believer’s hope in the midst of suffering is what the gospel is all about especially the troubles are not their own. I know of many who by themselves are doing well. But they are living in dilapidated conditions so that they may assist a marginalised group. Many churchgoers murmured when faced with injustice or unfavourable circumstances, and they complained against God. In fact, suffering facilitates spiritual growth and it accentuates the reality of God’s love and power in the believer. The resurrection power of God is revealed for all to see when Jesus suffered an unjust and terrible death. The power of the gospel is evident when Paul encourages Timothy while awaiting a death sentence that is not his own. Indeed, challenges and suffering are means through which the true glory of the gospel is manifested.

The fate of those chosen for salvation lies in the hands of the church.

The fate of those chosen for salvation lies in the hands of Paul as he struggles in prison. Should Paul recant, the credibility of the gospel would have been lost together with countless souls. Paul knows there is no backup plan should he recant and walk away. Thus, he endured suffering and imminent death so that countless souls may be saved.

There are those who take on a casual attitude towards the preaching of the gospel. They suppose that God, being all-knowing, all-loving and all-powerful will always find ways to bring the gospel to every corner of the earth with or without their personal involvement. But little do they know that they are writing history as they speak by the decisions they make. The heaven’s book of life is yet closed and names are still being added. And so is the hell’s book of death. As long as believers are half-hearted in the task of evangelism, the souls of many still hang precariously in the balance.

Application

What is your attitude towards suffering especially when the troubles are not your own? Are you often given to despair and complaining because someone has betrayed or disappointed you? Try to understand your predicaments from Paul’s and Jesus’s point of view. Examine their demeanours and attitudes while they go through grave injustices. Understanding the divine reason for your suffering will change your attitude towards it. And when you have overcome, you would have reaped the rewards of divine wisdom and faith; the jewels of the gospel.

Do you harbour a laissez-faire attitude towards the deteriorating moral condition of our society? If Christians do not intervene by being salt and light of the nation, more souls will be lost. We preach the gospel by upholding the truth in all that we do. To show mercy and kindness to the people around us. To always give God the glory and be dependent on Him in all our endeavours. To always be ready to stretch out our hands to pray for those who need a miracle.

Dear Lord, help me magnify the power and glory of the gospel through my daily challenges. Change my attitudes towards the struggles of life. Cause me to bear up the burdens with divine strength, hope and wisdom. Cause me to arise with the gospel message giving life to the people around me. In Jesus’s name I pray. Amen.


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