Also available as MP3: Be Strong in the Grace That Is In Christ Jesus – 2 Timothy 2:1-2
Paul tells Timothy to “be strong” (2:1) because so many hadn’t been (1:15). Moses told Joshua to be strong in the law (De.11:8), but Paul told Timothy to be strong in grace. If Joshua was strong in the law, Israel would conquer their enemies (Lev.26:3-7). But Paul tells Timothy to be strong in grace because we’re not in the business of conquering God’s enemies in the dispensation of grace.
The Canaanites were the seed of the fallen angels in Genesis 6 and so had to be exterminated (Deut. 20:16). You have to be strong in the law to believe God when He said to kill even women and children. But we’re told to be strong in grace because God expects us to save His enemies, not kill them.
That’s why Paul told Timothy to be strong “in the grace that is in Christ” (2:1). What did the grace that is in Christ do to an enemy named Saul? Saved him! (ITim.1:13,14). The grace that is in Christ saves, it doesn’t kill, and that’s the grace we’re to be strong in.
Do you know what God says about conquering our enemies under grace? He says they’re more likely to conquer us (Rom.8:36,37). But if you can lead them to Christ, you are “more than conquerors” of God’s enemies. The Lord could have conquered Saul, but all He would have gotten out of that was a dead enemy. When He instead saved him, He more than conquered him, He got an apostle to spread grace to the world. Of course, you have to be strong in grace to send missionaries to Muslim countries where they are killing Christians, but that’s what Things To Come Mission is doing! And what we must do if they start killing us “all the day long” in this country.
In the context, we must also be strong in grace to believers who depart from the faith (1:15). Timothy was sickly (ITim.5:23), so he needed to be strong in the grace that is sufficient when we are sick (IICor.12:7-9). Since there is a natural tendency to let grace turn into lasciviousness (cf.Jude 4), we must be strong in the grace that teaches us to deny ungodliness (Tit.2:11,12). We don’t want to presume on God’s grace as the Jews did. They received grace through animal sacrifices, but God had to tell them to stop bringing them while keep sinning (Jer.7:9,10,21-23). God originally told them to obey and only gave them the sacrifices system as a safety net in case they sinned, but they were using the safety net as a hammock to lounge in sin. We dare not lounge in sin and presume on the grace God gave us through the blood of Christ. Christ died for us to deliver us from sin, not to sin (Jer.7:9,10 cf. Gal.1:3,4).
We must also be strong in the grace of giving (IICor.8:1-7). Then tell others to be strong in grace (IITim.4:2). You have to be strong in grace to remind someone in the hospital of IICorinthians 12:7-9.
Catholic theologians use II Timothy 2:2 to say that what we have “heard” in oral traditions should be passed on to men as well as what we read in Paul’s epistles (cf. IIThes.2:15). But even oral traditions dating back to Christ can be wrong in no time (John 21:21-23). The only reason Timothy passed on the traditions he heard is because he knew he heard them from Paul (IITim.3:14).
When Paul committed the grace message to Timothy, that’s a strong word in Scripture. Any time the Bible isn’t talking about committing a sin, a commitment in God’s Word is a serious thing. Joseph’s master committed all that he had to him (Gen.39:4-8). The psalmist committed his spirit to God (Ps.31:5). The Lord committed Himself to the Father to judge our sins on Him (IPet.2:21-23). So when God committed the message to Paul (ICor.9:17; IICor.5:19; Gal. 2:7; ITim.1:11; Tit.1:3) who committed it to Timothy (IITim.2:2), I have to conclude it is just as serious a thing.
Don’t choose not to get involved in the ministry thinking you can’t be “faithful” (IITim.2:2). Moses killed a man and ran from God for forty years but God called him faithful (Heb.3:5). Sarah laughed when God told her she’d have a son in her old age, but God called her faithful (Heb.11:11). Being faithful doesn’t mean you never fall, it means you never quit, you never give up!