2 Timothy 3.2-5 – The Human Condition

Straight after the sad but true news that people are difficult, Paul goes on to detail the human condition.

For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.

The list is so long that breaking it down characteristic by characteristic would simply take too long. The easiest and simplest thing to say is that all of these things centre on self. “I” and “Me” become the most important words and ideas in life, and conduct and character are totally detached from anything other than how you feel about yourself.

People will be lovers of self is a fitting way to start this section, loving yourself unconditionally at the expense of anything and anyone else leads to everything else we read in this list, and Paul’s advice to Timothy (and in principle to us) is to avoid such people.  

This is, if we are honest, the condition that comes with our human nature. Left to our own devices and choices, we know that we will become the type of person detailed here. If we don’t think we will, we are more swollen with conceit than we even realise. 

What is the remedy to this? What do we do with this sad but true state of affairs?

We turn to the Word of God. As a good friend wrote in his book titled ‘Contented‘,

After all these years of reading the Bible, I am amazed at its ability to continually reveal who I am while at the same time transforming me into a more holy person. The more submissive I am to the Word of God, the more I understand His perfect will for my life.

Jeff Gipe

Today then, be an unconditional lover of the Word before yourself, put His will above your own, put others before yourself, and let us see ourselves for what we are – sinners in need of the life-changing, life-transforming, life-saving, life-giving grace of God. 

2 Timothy 3.1 – People Are Difficult

Someone once told me that the ‘best and worst thing about pastoring a church will be the people’. From what he writes here, it would seem that Paul agrees.

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty.

Paul will go on to say that these times of difficulty will come from people (v.2), but for the new minister Timothy this is what he needed to know first;

that as time progresses the times will get progressively more difficult.

This should not be a surprise to us, that as time goes on time gets tougher. Time of difficulty carries the meaning of stressful times, times of trial, times of tribulation…think of trying to swim in a sea that is wild, windy, and wavy. No matter which way Timothy turns, there will be difficult people to minister to.

It seems like Paul wanted to communicate this to Timothy so that he was going forward in his task with his eyes open, so to speak, knowing that people are difficult.

People are difficult, people are broken, and people are in desperate need of the saving grace of God.

If we are honest, so are we.

We are difficult to love, we are broken past the point of self-repair, and we are in desperate need of the saving grace of God.

Pastor, these are your people; difficult, broken, in need of grace.

Friends, this is all of us; difficult, broken, in need of grace.

The answer for both is the same – the free gift of grace available to us through faith in Jesus. Paul will go on to remind Timothy that the Word of God makes us wise for salvation (v.15), and it is on this solid foundation that we must stand as we seek to navigate these times of difficulty. People are broken, you are broken, and without the Word of God to stand on and soak in, this will never change.

Turn to the Word today!

2 Timothy 2.22-26 – A Must For A Minister

Do you ever read something in the Bible and think, well, that is just not me?

22 So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. 23 Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. 24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.

The instruction to the relatively young pastor continues in this passage, and if we’re honest, we all routinely fall short of this, don’t we?

Paul starts with the exhortation to flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. Simply Timothy needed to, and we need to, just put as much distance between youthful passions and ourselves as possible. Youthful passions carries the idea of those things which interest us as younger people; sexual desire, fleshly lusts, earthly reward, you get the picture. We flee these things, in part, by being with those [people] who call on the Lord from a pure heart. Spending time with God’s people is a surefire way to grow in your walk with Him. Spending time with those who have more life experience than you is a way to flee youthful passions. Who can you spend time with then?

In terms of Timothy as a minister, this whole passage is a must. He must have fled from youthful passions and pursued righteousness, and in vv.24-26 we see another list of ministerial-must-haves;

  • Not quarrelsome,
  • Kind to everyone,
  • Able to teach,
  • Patiently enduring evil,
  • Correcting opponents with gentleness.

Quite a list, isn’t it, and when we read things like this we realise how far we are from the way we ought to be living. Whether we minister publicly in the church of whether we minister privately in our own homes and lives, these are qualities that we must all strive to possess. The consistent witness borne by your pastor probably comes harder than he makes it look, in the same way that your witness to your family in your private life is difficult and frought with daily battles.

In addition to the major empowerment of the indwelling Holy Spirit, one way we can encourage each other in our ministries is to pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord form a pure heart. Spending time together, understanding each other, and ministering the grace of God to each other is probably the single biggest must-have for the minister, whether public or private.

Who can you minister this grace to today? 

2 Timothy 1.8-14 – Who Is Jesus?

Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, 10 and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, 11 for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, 12 which is why I suffer as I do. But 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. 13 Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 14 By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.

There are many, many passages in the Bible that talk of who Jesus is (John 1, 10.30, Isaiah 9.6, Titus 2.13, John 20.28…). Upon reading this passage in 2 Timothy, although there is lots going on, what shone through was this description of Jesus, did you notice it?

…[God]saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, 10 and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel…

We see that God saved us based on nothing we did (not because of our works), but based purely on His own purpose and grace. This rings true with the words of Ephesians 2.8-9 wherein we read 

“…by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

The description of Jesus, then, is found next and we read that He manifests this purpose and grace of God.

…[God]saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, 10 and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel…

So, we want to know what God is doing and what He is like, we look at Jesus.

We want to know what the grace of God is like, we look at Jesus.

Very simply, Jesus reveals the purpose and grace of God.

Who is Jesus? He is the revelation of God, He is the Word of God in human flesh, He is the revelation of God’s purpose and grace. Look to Him today.

2 Timothy 1.1-5 – Encouragement

2 Timothy is generally held to be Paul’s last letter, written from Roman imprisonment and full of urgency and passion, which you might expect given his incarceration and impending execution. 

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God according to the promise of the life that is in Christ Jesus,

To Timothy, my beloved child:

Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.

He begins by stating that he is an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God. This was the role Paul was given in the Lord’s master plan, and Paul often began letters by stating this (1 Timothy 1.1, Galatians 1.1…). Unique to 2 Timothy however is him saying according to the promise of the life that is in Christ Jesus. Again, given his impending execution at the hands of the Romans, the promise of life in Christ Jesus must have seemed especially important.

Paul then offers grace, mercy, and peace to Timothy, and interestingly he only offers mercy when writing to Timothy and Titus (1 Timothy 1.2, Titus 1.4), the two pastors/ministers to receive letters from Paul. In his general letters to Christian congregations, Paul usually offers grace and peace, but reserves the mercy for the ministers. 

We see that Paul is praying for Timothy night and day, and that he longs to see him, that he may be filled with joy. He thinks of Timothy’s faith, Timothy’s family, and is encouraged.

Paul is such a staunch supporter of Timothy, and we all need someone like this in our lives, don’t we.

Who is that person for you? Who is that person who is praying for you night and day? Who is that person who thanks God for you? Who is that person who takes great joy from being with you? We all need someone like this in our lives, don’t we. 

But think about this – who can you be that person for

Who can you pray for, night and day?

Who can you thank God for?

Who can you bless by simply being around?

We all need to be that someone for another, don’t we. 

Today then, no matter whether you are being blessed by that someone, or whether you are filling the role of that someone, let us rest easy in the role that God has given us according to His will, let us do our best to manifest to others the life that is in Christ Jesus

1 Timothy 1.12-17 – Forget The Past

Today we see that no matter who we were, how we were, or where we were, there is nobody that God cannot use.

12 I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, 13 though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, 14 and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 15 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. 16 But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. 17 To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honour and glory forever and ever. Amen.

Paul writes that even though he was the foremost sinner, a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent opponent, he received mercy because this was all done in unbelief. We see that the grace of our Lord is far stronger than sin committed in unbelief. 

Paul is used as a very particular example, that Jesus Christ might display his perfection patience as an example fo those who were to believe in him for eternal life.

Remember, this is coming off the back of a section wherein Paul tells Timothy that look, the law came to expose those who are living in sin. Now, he says, those very people are still not beyond the life-saving, life-changing love and grace and mercy of God. 

The same is true for you. 

No matter who you were, no matter how you were, no matter where you were, Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. It doesn’t matter to Him what you have done in unbelief, so long as you sincerely acknowledge that it was wrong, make a genuine effort to turn away from it, completely, and commit to living the life He wants you to live from now onwards. 

We all know we have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, but that is exactly the reason for the Gospel, the Good News, that no matter what happened before, you have a chance now to be judged faithful in the eyes of God through faith in Jesus and to be brought into His service.

What part of your past do you need to forget today? Where do you need to receive mercy and grace today?

1 Timothy 1.8-11 – What to Focus On

Today Paul expands on the idea that those who do not understand the law should not teach the law (vv.6-7). 

Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, 10 the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, 11 in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted.

Paul says right away that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, and this seems to be the problem; whether it is used well.


Those who desired to be teachers of the law but had no understanding of the law were actually using God’s very vehicle for salvation as a barrier to it.


So, rather than the law being used to show us that we are sinners, that we will never work our way to God, that we can never earn His approval and justification, and instead we need to come to Him by faith in the substitute that He provides, these wanna-be teachers are condemning people for not living up to the holy and righteous standards that only One can live up to. 

Paul gives an overview of the kinds of ways we have fallen short of the glory of God (vv.9-10), and finishes by saying that, along with the examples given, whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God is what the law came to expose. 

However, for you and for me living today, and for the people in Paul and Timothy’s day too, grace and righteousness and salvation is not actually found in the law, is it. The grace of God, the righteousness of God, the salvation He offers, none of these are to be found by adhering to law, they are to be found by being in right relationship with God by having faith in Jesus. 

Let us focus on that today, not trying to earn our way to God through our good conduct, rather, focusing on being a follower and disciple of Jesus, relying on His good conduct and His finished work on the cross, and the acceptance, justification, and salvation He offers.