By: Daniel Goepfrich
The Worldly Church
2 Timothy 3 begins with a sad look at the state of the Church which is falling further and further from Christ (2 Timothy 3:1-9). This passage is often used to describe the modern world in which we live, and there are certain similarities. However, it is more accurately a description of the Church that is influenced by the world. Most people of the world have no interest in maintaining even “THE OUTWARD APPEARANCE OF RELIGION,” although some certainly do. This is true of many believers, though. 2 Timothy 3:6-9 seems to refer to false teachers who prey on weak and young believers, especially young women who are easily deceived (see 1 Timothy 2:9-15; 1 Timothy 5:11-14). Where this falling away will end is unclear, but some believe that the true Church will almost be gone by the Rapture.
In the face of such blatant heresy, Paul commanded Timothy to “CONTINUE IN THE THINGS [HE HAD] LEARNED AND [HAD BECOME] CONFIDENT ABOUT” (2 Timothy 3:10-17). As he regularly did, Paul pointed to himself as an example whom Timothy had observed and followed. Just like Jesus had told the Eleven that the world would hate them as his followers (John 15:18-21), Paul told Timothy that following Jesus in this world means persecution in this world. None of that, though, is stronger than the inspired Word of God, which is designed and fully capable of equipping God’s people for God’s work.
Fighting the Good Fight
2 Timothy 4 is a template for leaving this life well. First, Paul charged Timothy with his critical work – “Preach the message . . . whether it is convenient or not, reprove, rebuke, exhort . . . be self-controlled . . . endure hardship, do an evangelist’s work, fulfill your ministry” (2 Timothy 4:1-8). Paul knew that Timothy’s struggle would seem impossible, because many are not interested in hearing the truth, only myths and things that satisfy their own curiosity but do not lead to spiritual growth and maturity. Paul could do no more. Challenging Timothy to continue to “fight the good fight” (1 Timothy 1:18), Paul believed that he had, and his most cherished thought was his soon meeting with the Savior.
Paul’s Final Wishes
Paul’s final wish on this Earth was to see his friend once more before he died (2 Timothy 4:9-22). Whether or not Timothy ever made it to Rome, we do not know. Paul asked for his cloak, as it was approaching winter, and his dungeon likely had no heat. He also asked for his “scrolls, especially the parchments.” Although we cannot be sure, it seems possible that these may have been some of his personal copies of the Scriptures. Paul must have felt lonely, as so many others were busy in ministry or doing other things. Some had even simply deserted him. He sent his warmest greetings to a few friends that Timothy would see on his way to Paul. He also asked that Timothy would bring Mark with him, another wonderful friend that time and maturity, in both men, had developed. Above all, the old apostle was still “confident of this very thing” (Philippians 1:6, NASB):
“The Lord will deliver me from every evil deed
and will bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom.
To him be glory for ever and ever! Amen.”
 As a silly comparison, this section always reminds me of “The Empire Strikes Back,” when Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi were talking to the young Luke Skywalker, who was rushing into an impossible situation. “Be careful…don’t let the Dark Side take you…stay strong in the Force.”
Each Thursday DPH runs a Chapter-by-Chapter blog by Daniel Goepfrich, progressing readers chapter-by-chapter through the New Testament. This series is taken from New Testament Chapter-by-Chapter, published by Trust House Publishers, a division of DPH. Daniel serves as Pastor of Oak Tree Community Church in South Bend, Indiana, and blogs at www.TheologyIsForEveryone.com
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