A Call for Virtue

“So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart” (v. 22).

- 2 Timothy 2:22–23

Today we return to 2 Timothy and resume our study of chapter 2. Seeing that he is about to die (4:6), Paul has written a final letter to his friend Timothy in order to encourage him in the hard work of ministry after the apostle is gone. He has reminded Timothy that suffering attends every authentic profession of faith; thus, believers should not be surprised when they have to endure pain for the gospel or when people fall away from the church (chap. 1). To ensure that they do not succumb to the awful fate of those who deny Jesus, Christians must depend on the grace of God and lean on the Spirit to give them a single-minded devotion to the Savior (2:1–13). As believers do such things, also avoiding over- engagement with self-righteous, obstinate people, they will be made t for good works, remembering that the Word of God abides forever, and they will not grow disheartened when they see others turn away from the faith (vv. 14–21).

Developing a character that proves its mettle in the crucible of suffering not only involves a negative action in the form of avoiding certain people, it also requires us to pursue certain positive qualities with the help of God’s Spirit. Righteousness, faith, love, and peace, when present in our lives, plant our feet firmly upon the Rock (vv. 22–23). Today’s passage is reminiscent of Galatians 5:22–23 and 1 Timothy 6:11, and it is easy to see how the traits the apostle lists in 2 Timothy 2:22–23 fortify us for endurance. Personal righteousness makes us eager to mortify the sin that takes our eyes off Christ. Faith trusts the bedrock of the Almighty’s promises and gives us peace to see that His plan will succeed even when things look bleak. And love leads us to deal gently with stumbling believers, helping us restore them so that they can later help us in our struggles.

Paul calls us to the virtues of righteousness, faith, love, and peace even as he exhorts us to “ flee youthful passions” (v. 22), which John Calvin comments, are “any impetuous passions to which the excessive warmth of that age is prone.” During youth we often run after what is new and fresh, thinking that we know what is best. Persevering people do not do such things but rely on the inspired truth of the Word of God and the wisdom of the church throughout the ages.

Coram Deo

Our culture tells us everyday to ignore the old and pursue what is new and “exciting.” The Word of God, on the other hand, would have us stay true to the teachings that have been known by the Lord’s people for centuries through the instruction of Scripture, for only these can produce in us a character that perseveres. Are you tempted to run after new teaching or do you depend on the tested truths of orthodox, biblical Christianity?

Passages for Further Study

Ecclesiastes 12:3–14
1 John 2:7–11

First published in Tabletalk Magazine, an outreach of Ligonier. For permissions, view our Copyright Policy.