Nov 9, 2009

Paul's Confidence in Christ

2 Timothy 1:12–14

“I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me” (v. 12b).

Shame and honor are controlling concepts in much of the world today. Honor is so important in many countries around the world that families will kill those of its members who act in ways that are considered shameful in their culture. This is foreign to us in the modern West, but even here it is true that nobody likes to be ashamed. We will do nearly anything not to lose face, seeking to be honored by others rather than to feel ashamed in their presence.

First-century Rome was driven by honor and shame, and few things were more shameful than imprisonment. Prisoners were ashamed of their chains, but the apostle Paul saw his suffering as a badge of honor even though, from a cultural perspective, he should have found it shameful to glory in such things. Paul was not ashamed, he tells us in 2 Timothy 1:12b, because he suffered for the sake of Christ and His gospel. He knew that to trust in Jesus was to trust in the one, true Lord of all, and therefore that the Creator would vindicate the apostle before all those who dishonored him on account of the Savior (Ps. 135:14). Convinced that God would guard that which was entrusted to him — his life and apostolic ministry — until the day of judgment (2 Tim. 1:12b), Paul understood that the Almighty would preserve his life even in death under Nero, finally vindicating him through the resurrection of the dead upon Jesus’ return.

If Paul was not ashamed to suffer for Jesus, neither should we be ashamed. Likewise, we are to follow the pattern of teaching we receive from Paul in his epistles “in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus” (v. 13). Matthew Henry says that this means “faith and love must go together; it is not enough to believe the sound words, but we must love them, believe their truth and love their goodness.” Christian faith is not revealed in intellectual assent to biblical doctrine alone but also in a true love for what God has spoken.

The teachings of Paul and the other apostles are the “good deposit” we are told to guard by the power of the Holy Spirit (v. 14). Imitating the Lord who guards the deposit of our lives till the last day, we too must guard the gospel He has entrusted to us. Only if we rely on His Spirit can we fulfill this task.

Coram Deo

We do not have enough strength in ourselves to remain committed to every facet of the gospel. Instead, we are utterly dependent on the Spirit to create a love for God and His truth in our hearts. If we study the things of God without regularly confessing our need of the Spirit’s help, we can easily be led astray. Do you ask for the Spirit to give you a love for Scripture and all that it says about the faith?

For Further Study