Also available as an MP3: A Pauline Know-It-All – 2 Timothy 3:8-12
Timothy fully knew Paul’s “faith” (3:10). Not the faith that saved him, the faith in Christ he continued to have when life got tough. That’s when many Christians lose their faith. Paul lost two years of his life’s work (Acts 19:10 cf. IITim. 1:15) but his faith remained strong. Would yours? If your faith is flagging just because your world is unraveling, what will you do in the last days when the world is unraveling (cf.Jer.12:5)? That’s the subject of this passage (IITim.3:1).
Timothy also fully knew Paul’s “longsuffering” (3:10). Paul suffered long with unbelieving Jews (Acts 20:19), but rather than lashing out at them, he prayed for them (Rom.10:1). He suffered much from magistrates (Acts 17:36,37, but told others to obey them (Tit.3:1) and pray for them (ITim.2:1,2). If you are longsuffering with those who wrong you, that’s proof you love them (ICor.13:4).
Timothy also fully knew Paul’s “patience” (3:10). Maybe you haven’t impatiently quit your job knowing the Rapture is imminent like the Thessalonians did, causing Paul to write what he wrote in IThessalonians 3:5. But there’s other ways to impatiently wait for the Lord. Like fretting when unbelievers prosper (Pr.37:7-9). That’s talking about Jews waiting for the 2nd Coming, but if you fret over the prosperity of unbelievers, remember their future (Pr.37:9,10).
Timothy also knew Paul’s “persecutions” and “afflictions” (3:11). “At Antioch” they spoke against him (Acts 13:45), “at Iconium” they assaulted him (Acts 14:5), and “at Lystra” they stoned him to death (Acts 14:6,19). Paul wasn’t living in the last days, those things can happen anytime, anywhere. But Paul cites those examples because they were the first 3 stops on his apostolic journey, but he didn’t quit. Timothy was about to start out on his own without Paul, and would need that encouragement.
Paul doesn’t say all who preach the gospel will suffer persecution, he says all who “live godly” (3:12). Men didn’t like godliness in the Lord (John 3:19) and they won’t like it in you either (cf. John 15:19,20).
Paul promised Timothy the same afflictions he endured but couldn’t promise him the same deliverances once the day of miraculous jailbreaks was past. But before you pass on being willing to endure afflictions, remember the 3 Hebrews knew that they’d be delivered even if they died (Dan.3:17,18).That’s the attitude Paul had too. Remember, he died at Lystra, yet he told Timothy the Lord had “deliv-ered” him at Lystra (3:11). Paul was “delivered out of the mouth of the lion” (IITim.4:18) i.e, either the king of Rome (cf.Pr.19:12;20:2;Jer.50:17) or else the literal lions that the king would have thrown him to if he’d been convicted.
But when Paul went on to say that the Lord “shall deliver me from every evil work” (IITim.4:18), he said that right before they beheaded him. How was he “delivered” in that case? He finished that thought by saying, “and will preserve me unto His heavenly kingdom” (IITim.4:18). That’s how he looked at life and deliverance. He didn’t trust in the God who broke him out of the Philippian jail, as so many today do in vain, he trusted the God who raised the dead (IICor.1:8-10).No Christian trusts that God in vain.
Paul had an advantage in this trust that we don’t have, he’d been to heaven (IICor.12:1-4) and knew by experience that it was “far better” (Phil.1:23). But we have his word on it, which is God’s word! If you’re tempted to kill yourself to go there early, you should know that Paul was tempted too (Phil.1:21-24). But he decided it was more needful to stay and serve the Lord and His people — and so should you. If you’re thinking you’ll never be used of the Lord like Paul, you’re right. But that’s what whoever led Les Feldick to the Lord thought too, but he or she ended up doing something momentous for the Lord. Even if you never do, “who hath despised the day of small things” (Zech.4:10)? Every little service for the Lord adds up!
The only “persecution” most of us get (3:12) is mocking (Gen.21:9 cf. Gal.4:29), but don’t discount the power of mocking! Violent persecution fans the flames of Christianity and makes men want to preach Christ, while mocking tends to make them clam up lest they receive more mocking! Don’t let that happen in your life!