2 Timothy 4:1-5: “Fulfill Your Ministry”

Read: 2 Timothy 4:1-5

Paul’s charge to Timothy is basically three words: “Preach the Word”. This charge comes on the heels of Paul’s admonition to Timothy to stay firmly planted in the scriptures and a description of the source and uses of scripture. Paul gives his charge to Timothy in the “presence” of God and Jesus and who will judge the living and dead. The strong command to preach is qualified with several commands:

  • Be ready in season and out of season. For the one preaching the word, game day is every day. One cannot be lax one day and on the next.
  • Reprove, rebuke, and exhort with great patience and instruction. This comes on the heels of Paul telling Timothy about the uses of scripture which are the aforementioned things (2 Timothy 3:14-16). Scripture is useful for training in righteousness.
  • Be sober in all things. Paul is telling Timothy to not let anything cloud his mind.
  • Endure hardship. This is a guaranteed thing for those who wish to live lives of godliness (2 Timothy 3:12).
  • Do the work of an evangelist. An evangelist is one who declares good news, and in New Testament terms, it is one who shares the good news about Jesus. Paul is charging Timothy to do this sort of work.
  • Fulfill his ministry. This is a command in the most general sense, just in case Paul left something out. Paul is telling Timothy to thoroughly accomplish all that he has been instructed to do.

Paul says that there will come a time when people will not endure sound doctrine, surrounding themselves with teachers who tell them what they want to hear. They will turn from truth and believe “myths”. The New Testament describes such things as cleverly devised tales (2 Peter 1:16) and fables (1 Timothy 4:7). These things stand in stark contrast to the words of truth from the scripture that Paul is telling Timothy to proclaim and the testimony of eyewitnesses that have been handed to Timothy and the many others concerning Jesus from the apostles.

This charge to Timothy is a popular passage for ordination services in many churches. The charge is very relevant to those who are starting out in the gospel ministry as it outlines what a pastor is supposed to do concerning his ministry. But the application of this text is not limited to just pastors – all Christians should be ready to do what these very things themselves. Most certainly, Christians today are living in a time when people not want to hear sound doctrine, but rather hear what they want to hear. This requires that Christians know sound doctrine and know how to correct and rebuke those who do not endure sound doctrine with patience and love. This way, one can fulfill one’s own ministry as Paul wanted Timothy to do.

Lord, help me to fulfill my ministry!

2 Timothy 2:1-7: Soldiers, Athletes, and Farmers

Read: 2 Timothy 2:1-7

After exhorting Timothy to be unashamed of the gospel, he commands Timothy to “be strong” in the grace of Jesus. The word, “ενδυναμου” in the Greek shares the same root with the word translated “power” in 2 Timothy 1:7. Paul was commanding Timothy to rekindle the gifts – that is set the ablaze – for the purpose of standing up for the gospel. The spirit he has been given is a spirit of power, and Paul is encouraging Timothy to be empowered (the verb is passive) in the grace of Jesus. In other words, Timothy is not to act on his own strength, but in the strength given to him by he who lives inside of him: the Holy Spirit, in much the same way he commands him to guard “in the Holy Spirit” (2 Timothy 1:14).

Paul also commands Timothy to entrust the things that he heard from Paul to other men who will be able to teach it to others. Paul says that faith comes by hearing (Romans 10:10-17). Jesus’ last command in Matthew before ascending was for the disciples to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19-20), telling them to teach what he taught them. Paul does not want the movement to stop with Timothy; rather he wants it to keep going. Paul was a catalyst that taught what he received to others who are to teach others who will still yet teach more. Nor does Paul want Timothy to shrink back in spite of opposition; rather continue to work according to the plan. Paul describes this with three analogies:

  • The soldier: the soldier does not concern himself with daily life, rather works to please his commanding officer. Paul wants Timothy to not become entangled with things that would detract him from the mission of the gospel.
  • The athlete: the athlete trains and competes according to the rules so that he or she is not disqualified. Paul wants Timothy to live a morally pure life so that he is not disqualified as a minister.
  • The farmer: the farmer gets to reap a portion of the harvest for himself first. Paul wants Timothy work diligently as the farmer so that he will bear fruit.

Paul wants Timothy to consider the implications of each of these analogies and receive from the Lord for understanding accordingly. This is probably in regards not to the analogies, but in the application of what Paul has taught Timothy. Head knowledge about the things of God should result in skillful living according to the things of God, and this is true wisdom. Paul had shown Timothy the plan, now it was up to Timothy to act as a soldier to execute the plan, do it in such a way as to not disqualify himself, and do it with diligence – all by the empowering of God.

Being empowered by the Spirit comes through abiding in Christ. Christ had commanded the disciples to abide in him so they would bear fruit, and apart from him they could do nothing (John 15:4-5). This means that one should be intentional about spending time in prayer and devotion apart from the things of world so that God can speak into one’s life filling his or her mind with his truth and stirring up the Spirit to guide and direct the believer. Believers, through this empowering act should act as the soldier, athlete, and farmer too according to the mission: to teach others who can teach others.

Lord, help me to be empowered by you to execute your mission!

John 21:1-14: Telltale Signs

Read: John 21:1-14

The disciples had been out fishing all night. Apparently, they had returned to Galilee after the Passover and returned to fishing for a time. They had seen the risen Lord on two other occasions before this one according to the Gospel of John. John records the other in appearances in John 20 after the resurrection. Jesus had made his way up to Galilee and had a fire going on the shore. The disciples did not know who it was at first, but recognized it was Jesus after they pulled in 153 large fish after following the strangers instructions. They knew immediately that it was Jesus then, and none of them dare asked, “Who are you?” The disciples recognized Jesus by the telltale sign of a miraculous catch of fish. This catch certainly sparked a memory of many of the other miracles that Jesus had performed before this time.

John up to this point had recorded seven other miracles.

  • Turning water in wine (John 2:1-11)
  • Healing the officials son a distance (John 4:43-53)
  • The healing of the man by the pool of Bethesda (John 5:1-9)
  • The feeding of the 5000 (John 6:1-5)
  • Walking on water (John 6:16-25)
  • Healing the man born blind (John 9:1-41)
  • Raising Lazarus from the dead (John 11:1-44)

Jesus had also raised from the dead and had already appeared to the disciples. There could be no doubt in the mind of the disciples that this miracle was from Jesus too. The purpose of miracles though was to establish that Jesus was one sent from God. These demonstrations of power were among the works that Jesus says was one of the witnesses to his authenticity (John 3:2, John 5:36, John 9:33, John 10:25-38). Elsewhere, Peter affirms these works as a means to authenticate the message he was preaching(Acts 2:22). The case for Jesus’ authenticity had been made and the disciples were well equipped with these accounts to testify about Jesus.

Miracles, however, are not the way that God primarily reveals himself to people today. Jesus performed miracles to authenticate himself. The disciples did perform miracles too, but they did so in the name of Jesus. But even so, the principal way that the disciples talked about Jesus was by going into all the world testifying about what Jesus had done. Many more believed because of the testimonies than they did from the miracles. When Jesus gave the Great Commission, he told the disciples to “teach” (Matthew 28:19-20). Mark says go and “preach” (Mark 16:15-16). Luke says that this will be “proclaimed” in all nations (Luke 24:47). Acts 1:8 says that they will be Jesus’ witnesses – that is they will testify about him. 2 Timothy 2:2 says that Timothy should teach what he received from Paul to others who will be able to teach it to even more. The proclamation of the gospel is a verbal event, not by acts of power. Paul said in Romans 10:17 that faith comes by hearing. If God wants to demonstrate his power, he can, and sometimes he does. But as a mode of operation, Christians are to be about the business of proclaiming the resurrected Christ to all nations rather than looking for signs and wonders or trying to do such things themselves. Besides, Jesus said the telltale sign of Christians will be their love for one another (John 13:35), not the signs and wonders they perform. In this form, the world will see the love of Christ and hear the witness of Christ!

Lord, help me to represent you well by loving others and proclaim your truth to the world too!

John 19:16-30: “It is Finished!”

Read: John 19:16-30

Jesus’ had been scourged and put on public to display to be humiliated by the Jews and priests in the temple. The chief priests had set Jesus up so that they could incite a riot among the people, falsely accuse Jesus of something, and force Pilate to kill him so the priests could get their way and have Jesus removed. In their eyes, they had succeeded at doing this. God had allowed these things to transpire to bring about the redemption of mankind. Jesus was taken from the Praetorium baring his cross. They took him out to a place called “Golgotha” meaning “Place of Skulls”. They crucified Jesus was 2 other people with Jesus in the middle. Pilate placed a sign in three languages that read “Jesus the Nazarene: King of the Jews” in reference to the accusations made again him. This was customary to do to note the crime that the one being executed had committed. The high priests in protests say that the sign should have read “He said ‘I am King of the Jews’”. This statement was neither true in any respect, and Pilate probably in an effort to show that he did have some sort of backbone rather than being a people pleaser, placed the sign over the purported king of the Jews to show Rome’s dominance over Judea.

Jesus had already been scourged and had undoubtedly lost a great deal of blood. John does not provided details as to what crucifixion entailed, but history notes that the Roman would nail the convicted to a stake. Thomas wanted to see the holes in Jesus’ hands when he saw him after the resurrection (John 20:25) and Peter notes that godless men nailed Jesus to the cross (Acts 2:23) in his sermon. Paul uses it as a metaphor concerning sin (Colossians 2:13-14) – that is the payment of debt owed by sin was nailed to the cross and Jesus died.

After Jesus had been crucified, they took his garments and divided them among the soldiers, then cast lots for the seamless garment. John says that this was a fulfillment of Psalm 22:18, or even more so, Psalm 22 in its entirety. Matthew 27:46 notes Jesus quoting from this Psalm. The Psalm speaks of one who feels abandoned by God with the enemy closing in around him. It creates a poetic valley starting in verse one and descending to more into agony. The descending ends with verse 18 with people casting lots for his cloths. In verse 19, the ascension starts out of the valley saying God is not far off and works towards the entire earth worshiping before the Lord. The Psalm is foreshadowing what is to come next after agony: the resurrection. And through all this the world would be drawn to Christ (John 12:32).

Some of Jesus’ final thoughts were for his mother and John. With Jesus out of the picture and having returned to the Father, there was perhaps a need for someone to care for his mother, Mary. Jesus appoints this task to John, the writer of the gospel. John cared for Mary perhaps for the rest of her life. After this appointment, Jesus drinks “sour wine” (or vinegar as it might be) before finally saying, “It is finished”. Jesus went to the cross knowing this was to be the case, and he had accomplished all that the scriptures had required him to accomplished. John uses the Greek work “τετελεσται”. The word notes any number of things that are applicable to what Jesus was doing: paying debts, finishing the work he had set out to do, fulfilling the requirements of the law among any number of things that the work on the cross was mean to do.

We know the details about what happened to Jesus while he was on the cross through the eyes of those who watched it. What we do not know was the agony and wrath being poured out on Jesus while he was hanging there. If one had to guess, the agony had to be on an epic scale. The penalty for even a single sin is death, but Jesus died a death that was worth every sin ever committed by anyone who has ever lived. Some have estimated that over 100 billion people have been born. If one assumed the average life span of a human was 50 years old for all times and that a person sinned about once an hour there would be a total of 43,800,000,000,000,000 sins (about 44 quadrillion sins) committed. Jesus would have to die a death worthy of 44 quadrillion deaths. 44 quadrillion to most people is a probably a meaningless number. The national debt of the United States of America is about 13 trillion dollars. 44 quadrillion is  3,300 times larger than that. But these are only numbers – estimates to show the magnitude of the suffering Jesus went through to reconcile the human race. The magnitude in reality is beyond comprehension.

The power of God though is demonstrated in the resurrection too when Jesus put death under him and he defeated it once and for all! If God is capable of defeating death once and for all, then even more so – God is worth of the praise of all people. Even though Jesus was surrounded on every side by the enemy, he overcame them by the power of God. And nothing can overcome this power. Not Rome, not the priests, no power or nation, not even Satan himself (Romans 8:38-39). Christians can both be humbled by the price Jesus paid and celebratory because he truly is worth of praise!

Lord, you finished it once and for all! Let the nations be glad because of it!

John 17:1-21: In the World, Not of It

Read: John 17:1-21

Jesus glorified the Father while he was on earth. His mission in part was to make known the name of the Father to all who would hear. Jesus had every opportunity to claim the glory that was given him for himself. Rather than take the glory for himself, he gives it back to God. In John 12, Jesus has many things that could have glorified him, but instead he asks the Father to glorify himself. A voice comes from heaven and speaks in the midst of Greeks and Jews. Jesus could have genuinely have done this because of his oneness with the Father, but he laid this right aside to bring glory to the Father even more so by dying on the cross. In doing so, he would not only glorify the Father all the more, the Father would glorify him (Philippians 2:5-11).

Because Jesus poured into the men out of the world, they were no longer a part of the world. They were granted eternal life and now belonged to the Father. Jesus was not praying for them so that the Father would “keep” them. Jesus says that he had taught them all they needed to know and that he was about to return to the Father. In a way, Jesus was handing off their care to the Father because Jesus was no longer going to be with them. The reason Jesus had chosen these men out of the world was so that he could send them out to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19-20, Mark 3:14). The word of God, which is truth, had been given to them. Jesus prays for them and those who would come to believe in Jesus through the words of the disciples and ultimately have oneness with the Father in the same manner that Jesus did by means of the Holy Spirit.

The word of truth went out from the apostles. Many received it and many believed, and they imparted this message to others until even today. The pattern of teaching some and sending them out to preach is seen in Paul with Timothy, when he encourages Timothy to teach faithful men who will teach others (2 Timothy 2:2). This pattern of training up people to send them out to make disciples is well established as the method that God wanted to use to draw men out of the world and to himself. Not every person though receives the gospel with joy. Rather they hate those who believe it because part of the gospel requires that one deal with sin. But in any case, Christians are to be in the world nevertheless making disciples so that more can be made one with God and Jesus will receive praise and worship from every tribe, tongue and nation.

Lord, we are in the world, not of it. Help others to come out of the world into your truth!

John 15:18-25: Following Jesus is Win-Win

Read: John 15:18-25

Being a follower of Jesus associates one with Jesus. Jesus is telling them that they can reasonably expect to be treated in the same manner he was treated while he was on earth. First, Jesus spends most of the time talking about the world hating them because of him. Jesus was persecuted during his ministry so much so that he had multiple death threats on his life. The reality of persecution is realized during the first few chapters of Acts when Stephen is stoned. Paul says it can be expected with great certainty (2 Timothy 2:13). When it does come, one should not be surprised, but rather pray for those who do persecute you (Matthew 5:44), escape it if possible (Matthew 10:23), and rejoice and be glad because of the reward that awaits believers in heaven (Matthew 5:10-12). Second, Jesus also talks about some obeying his teachings, and so they could reasonably expect others out of the world to obey his teachings. Even in light of persecution, there will be some who will believe in the name of Jesus. The Great Commission commands the disciples to go and make disciples of all nations “teaching” them to “obey” what Jesus had commanded them (Matthew 28:19-20). Jesus promises to build his church (Matthew 16:18) and disciples do this just as Jesus did and hand commanded them: by teaching others what they had been taught who will teach it to others (2 Timothy 2:2). This generational propagation of the gospel is something that disciples could expect too.

Jesus says this was to fulfill what was written in the Law from Psalm 69:4. Psalm 69 speaks of a man who has been falsely accused of any number of things, but in the end, the things were just that: false accusations. The psalm continues with a plea of  repentance and humility, a plea for deliverance and justice, and ultimately a praise for the the triumph of God throughout the entire earth!

When Christians do the work of God, it is always a win-win situation whether one is winning converts or whether one is building up rewards in heaven because of persecution. One need not worry about the growth, rather one need worry only about teaching others to obey what Jesus has commanded. When some do believe, there will be great joy and when one is persecuted there will be great joy too! In the end, God will be exalted in all the earth too.

Lord, I know some will and some will not obey. In any case, help me to obey you!

John 1:35-51: Bring People To Jesus

Read: John 1:35-51

“Behold the Lamb of God,” John declared. John had already declared this the day before in John 1:29. While it’s not explicitly stated, John could be referring to Jesus as the Messianic Lamb spoke about in Isaiah 53:1-12 because Andrew acknowledges Jesus as the Messiah (John 1:41). Isaiah describes a lamb that lead to the slaughter that would bear the sin of the people. 1 Corinthians 5:7 and 1 Peter 1:19-20 liken Jesus to the sacrificial Lamb and John explicitly calls Jesus a slain Lamb in Revelation 5:9 and Revelation 13:8. Undoubtedly, John knew that Jesus was the sacrificial lamb the law required as a sacrifice (Exodus 29:38, Numbers 28:1-13) and the significance of the lamb as Passover (Exodus 12:1-13). At the Passover Seder Jesus had with his disciples, he commissioned the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper which he use the elements of bread to signify a broken body and wine to signify blood spilled (Luke 20:14-20). The Lamb of God that takes of away the sins of the world is the ultimate sacrifice (Hebrews 10:1-14), and when John points to Jesus calling him this, they leave John to follow Jesus. Andrew was one of those two following John who left John to follow Jesus, and Andrew brought Peter to Jesus.

Nathanael’s conversion is rather interesting. After Phillip followed Jesus, Phillip calls to Nathanael and when Nathanael first hears about Jesus, he’s skeptical because of his origins in Nazareth. This was probably because many Jews felt that people from Nazareth were traitors of sort because many of the Jews in Nazareth worked for the nearby Roman encampment, the occupying army and enemy. When Nathanael comes to Jesus, Jesus makes a statement about him saying there is no deceit. Nathanael apparently had no problem speaking his mind per his statements about Nazareth and his question to Jesus, “How do you know me?” to one revered as a rabbi. Jesus says he saw (“ειδον” means “see” in the original Greek and can mean to literally see or perceive in one’s mind) him under a fig tree and then Nathanael declares that Jesus is the Son of God and King of Israel. Jesus seems surprised by this when Nathanael believes. What’s not clear is if this is because Nathanael was incredulous or if Nathanael believed based on a demonstration of Jesus’ omnipotence as there was something unsaid about Nathanael that was going on while he was under the fig tree. It’s probably the latter because Jesus knew the content of Nathanael’s character rather than his mere appearance. In any case, Nathanael believed in Jesus.

What’s interesting here is what’s going on with people bringing others to Jesus. John brought Andrew and Andrew brought Peter. Jesus called Phillip and Phillip brought Nathanael. Already, early in Jesus’ ministry, people were bringing others to Jesus so they could encounter Jesus for themselves. John declares Jesus is the Lamb and some turn to follow (John 1:36). Andrew calls him the Messiah (John 1:41) and some call to follow him. Phillip declares that Jesus is the fulfillment of the Law and prophets (John 1:45) and some go and follow. In any case, they are declaring something about Jesus and people are coming to Jesus and having a personal encounter with him. When we declare Jesus, we should be as these early converts, point to Jesus as the one who takes away sin and the one who delivers us from our sin. This message is a quintessential part of the gospel. Romans 10:14-17 says that some are sent to preach, and that faith comes by hearing. This process of believing then bringing others to Christ is what is happening here in John and it continues to this day.

Lord, I believe. Help me declare you and bring others to you so they too can believe!

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