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 2.14 – Nobody Cares What You Think

14 Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers.

Paul continues his instruction and encouragement to Pastor Timothy by telling him, basically, that you need to keep the main thing as the main thing.

He writes that Timothy is to remind them of these thingsthese being the core tenets of the Gospel in vv.8-13.

When the church gathers, when God’s people assemble together, it is the Word of God that must be first and foremost. The Gospel message of reconciliation to God through remission of sins through faith in Jesus must be present above and beyond everything else. These things must be more important than quarrelling about words, which Paul says is good for nothing and eventually leads to ruining the hearers.

Just pause and think – when you go to church, what do you want to hear?

You don’t want to hear a guy stand up and tell you everything he thinks about how you should live.

You don’t want to hear someone read the Bible then proceed to tell you everything they think about it.

You don’t want to be entertained but not equipped for life.

You want to go to church and be filled and fed by the Word of God.

You want to go to church and leave just a little bit firmer in your faith.

The truth of Jesus and the Word of God must be central for this to happen.

Romans 10.17 tells us that faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the preached word of Christ. Here preached word means what it says, the preached word about and of God, of His Christ Jesus, and of the Holy Spirit.

So, Pastor, growth-group leader, kids church teacher, counsellor, Christian, nobody is that interested in what you think on any given subject. Perhaps, maybe, sometimes, people might ask for your opinions about secondary things. However, first and foremost, where you have the profound privilege of speaking into people’s lives, do so with these things, do so with the Gospel, do so with the Word of God. 

2 Timothy 2.1-2 – Encourage Your Pastor

You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.

Paul starts this passage by encouraging Timothy in his pastoral duties; be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus. If you have ever known a pastor personally you will know that they need this encouragement to be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus. Their burdens will be plentiful and privately carried, they will work tirelessly yet be chronically misunderstood, and they will forever try to see the best in people despite being let down by many, often. For this reason, friends, encourage your pastor!

After this initial encouragement, Paul hits Timothy with a pastoral responsibility that we can all either put into action or receive; what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.

This has got to be right up there on your pastor’s list – taking the core and right doctrines of the faith and entrusting them to faithful men and women (ἀνθρώποις can refer to men or women depending on the context) who can then teach others also

Here is a point with which you can encourage your pastor; we know that not everything in church is your job. We know that it is your job to teach with words, ways, actions, and reactions the right and proper doctrines of the faith. We know that the call on your life is a holy and sacred one and you are given to our church as a gift from from God (not sure about that? Read Ephesians 4.11 and notice who ‘he gave’ is referring back to…vv.8-10), and we know that we must join you as the many witnesses and the faithful men and women who [are] able to teach others also.

Take a moment today to encourage a faithful pastor in your life, perhaps someone who is rightly dividing and handling the Word of Truth, someone who is passing on the orthodox teachings that Timothy heard from Paul, and someone who you can partner with in ministry to teach others also.

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 6 – Final Words

This is adapted from a session I taught at a conference in South Asia recently to a group of pastors and Bible college students.


We are wrapping up the letter today with a final word to the pastor, to the church leader, to the potential church-planter, to the person in ministry, to the believer, to Timothy.

I am not Timothy, you are not Timothy, our churches are not where this church was, but we can learn from what Paul wrote to Timothy. So this says what it says and means what it means, there is one interpretation, yet many applications.


Why do I need to be like this?

Why do I need to live like this?

Why do I need to live humbly as the leader, as a believer?


Let all who are under a yoke as bondservants regard their own masters as worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and the teaching may not be reviled. 2 Those who have believing masters must not be disrespectful on the ground that they are brothers; rather they must serve all the better since those who benefit by their good service are believers and beloved.

Teach and urge these things. 

The church is the place where we leave our worldly status at the door, who the world says we are at the door. Why? So that the name of God and the teaching may not be reviled.

In Bahrain, we have lots of military people -senior generals and enlisted men who fellowship and worship together.

As the leader, as the church planter, as the believer, you need to model this. 

Who did Jesus talk and interact with? Everyone. 

Leaders. Slaves. Priests. Sinners.

The church itself was a place where slavery was destroyed. It was not uncommon for a master and a slave to go to church together. This teaching was especially important in the ancient world, where slaves might be treated very differently from master to master, and where there was sometimes intense racism and hatred between slaves and masters.

This cannot be present in the church, in our churches.

These verses, and these first few chapters, this is the kind of life we are to live, to model. Then, in vv.3-10, things NOT to do…

3 If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, 4 he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, 5 and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. 6 But godliness with contentment is great gain, 7 for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. 8 But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. 9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.

Do you know the worst thing? Notice with me the end of v.5

…imagining that godliness is a means of gain.

While not ignoring the blessings of following Jesus Christ, we must proclaim the need to follow Jesus because He is God, and we owe Him everything as our Creator. What is right before God, and what glorifies Him, is more important than whatever benefit we may gain (Enduring Word).

We need to be Christians who are more concerned with what glorifies God than with what benefits me.

The main point for the minister seems to be in vv.11-16.

The life you live is just as important as the doctrine you teach.

11 But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 

13 I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, 14 to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which he will display at the proper time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.

Timothy, as a man of God, was to do the opposite—to flee from all this, flee these things…

The same is true for you as a man of God, a woman of God, but as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses

Is that you?

Maybe the characteristics sound familiar…

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires

Galatians 5

Back to Timothy…

12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

Charles Spurgeon said that it is the same as God feeding the birds;

He provides the seeds,

But does not throw them into the nest.

It is the same with us;

The faithfulness of Jesus is there,

The doctrine, the teaching of and about Jesus is there,

The life of Jesus is there,

Fight for it.

Take hold of it.

Will you fight for it?

Will you teach it?

Will you live it?

Have you taken hold of it with two hands?

Paul then gives Timothy a charge, an instruction.

13 I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, 14 to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which he will display at the proper time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.

So, in the presence of God, and of Christ Jesus, 

Live this life.

Keep it unstained.

Be consistent.

The life you live is just as important as the words you use to teach.

Being questioned by Pilate in Matthew 27, Jesus said only a few words, but His life spoke so many words.

If you say lots of things about Jesus, but do not live like He is real to you, you are doing more bad than good.

That is not unstained.

That is not above reproach, as we read of in chapter 3.

So Paul wrote about slaves and masters, about the poor, and now about the rich…

17 As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. 18 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, 19 thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.

20 O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge,” 21 for by professing it some have swerved from the faith.

Grace be with you.

I once read that being a believer and being blessed with financial prosperity is only for the purpose of being generous and ready to share. It’s not for you. God gives it to you, but as Christ did not count equality with God something to be grasped, but added humanity to His Deity and came to live among us for our benefit, material riches are given to us for others.

As Paul wrote, we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.

We are taking hold of the eternal life on offer to us through our faith in the faithfulness of Jesus

Even if we feel we are not good enough, He is, and through faith in Him, we are counted righteous in the eyes of God.


Why do I need to be like this? Why do I need to live like this? Why do I need to model this teaching and teach this teaching?

Because, to your people, your church, your family, you are the hands and feet of Jesus.

Why do I need to live like this?

…to show Jesus to your people.

…to introduce your people to Jesus…

…with everything that you say…

…and everything that you do…

The life you live is just as important as the doctrine you teach.

One last thing…

Maybe you feel like you can’t do this, I can’t do this, I am not strong enough…Remember Zechariah 4.6,

…not by might, not by power, but by my Spirit…

Think about this – Jonah – do you know story?


Think about this then – God’s plan for Nineveh was one man – Jonah.

God’s plan for humanity was one man – Jesus.

God’s plan for your city, your village, your church, your nation, needs only to be one man…is that you?


1 Timothy 5.1-2 – In The Family

Here Paul continues writing to Timothy on the church and how it should be structured and run. Again, given that we are all called to be the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12.27), the exhortation and instruction is valid for us all in application.

Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity.

Timothy is told, in the original language, not to strike at an older man…so if he needed to challenge the behaviour or conduct of an older man, to do it with respect, as you would a father. It is an unavoidable part of the work of the pastor, to encouragingly rebuke and realign conduct that has strayed from the Word of God.

The same instruction goes for rebuking anyone in the church for Timothy, and it also goes for us now. Older men, younger men, older women, younger women, no matter, we are to treat everyone with respect, as fathers, as brothers, as mothers, as sisters, and to interact with them in all purity

Rather than cut people down with words, the instruction is to encourage those around us as if we are one family. 

Functional and fruitful families build each other up, they don’t tear each other down with words.

Today then, rather than seeking to rebuke in the harshest way possible, let us seek to interact with our church families in a spirit of mutual encouragement, encouraging one another in all purity.

1 Timothy 4.11-16 – As for Timothy, As for You…

We’ve said before that 1 Timothy was written to the new Pastor, Timothy, with instructions on how the church should be run and structured. But does that mean that the personal qualities that your Pastor possesses are only for him to have, and nobody else in church should be displaying them?

11 Command and teach these things. 12 Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. 14 Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. 15 Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. 16 Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.

We see some pastoral prerequisites that we should all really be taking to heart;

Command and teach these things – the teachings and truths of Jesus (3.16) are to be incontrovertible in the life of the Pastor, in the life of the church, and in your life too.

Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in… – if Timothy was God’s man for that church, then his age was irrelevant.


As for Timothy, as for you;

if God wants you to do something for Him, you are never too young or too old. 


Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching – we should all be constantly evaluating ourselves in light of the teachings and truths of Jesus, and asking the Holy Spirit to work in us to change what needs to be changed.

The teaching here refers to the full counsel of God’s Word, all that is taught about Jesus, all that refers to Jesus, all that guides us to Jesus. The main job of the Pastor in your church is to present the teaching, the doctrine, the truths of the Word of God. We should all, today and every day, seek to live in the light of the teaching, and each of us should be concerned with both ourselves and our Christian brothers and sisters. 

Charles Spurgeon told this story whilst preaching on a Sunday evening, the 19th of June, 1870,

I have been thinking while I have been preaching to you, this evening, of my own self awhile, and I shall turn my thoughts to myself and any others who are preachers or teachers, and who try to do good to others.

Years ago Hamburgh was nearly half of it burned down, and among the incidents that happened, there was this one. A large house had connected with it a yard in which there was a great black dog, and this black dog in the middle of the night barked and howled most furiously. It was only by his barking that the family were awakened just in time to escape from the flames, and their lives were spared; but the poor dog was chained to his kennel, and though he barked and thus saved the lives of others, he was burned himself.

Oh! do not you who work for God in this church perish in that fashion. Do not permit your sins to enchain you, so that while you warn others you become lost yourselves. Do see that you have the godliness which has the promise of the life that is to come.

And now, you who really desire to find godliness, remember, it is to be had in Christ, and only in Christ.