Instruction for the Persecuted Church in the Last Days
Timothy was the son of a Greek father and a Jewish mother, who at the time of the second letter from Paul, had been ministering to the church at Ephesus as a young pastor for four years. Timothy had attained a “genuine faith,” which Paul indicated had been influenced by his mother Eunice and grandmother Lois (2 Timothy 1:5). The two godly women had ensured that Timothy had been soundly instructed in the word of God (2 Timothy 3:15), and the promise of the Messiah. So, When Paul passed through the area of Derbe and Lystra preaching the gospel on his first missionary journey, Timothy’s heart was prepared to receive the message. Timothy was a young man when he joined Paul (in his late teens or early twenties), but he proved to be a faithful and loyal companion to Paul. So much so, that Paul trusted him to be his representative to several churches (1 Corinthians 4:17; Philippians 2:19) and eventually became the pastor of the Ephesus church (1 Timothy 1:3).
The second letter to Timothy was written by Paul while he was once more a prisoner in Rome, “chained like a criminal” (2 Timothy 2:9) and sentenced to death for his continued efforts to extend the Kingdom of His Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Having been released from his first imprisonment in Rome, it seems that Paul went on a fourth missionary journey which is not recorded in the book of Acts. Paul then is once more taken captive and imprisoned in Rome, where he at the time of writing the second letter, expects that he will soon be put to death by Emperor Nero (AD 66). The Letter, therefore, is not only a “farewell” to a beloved companion, but more importantly, for us, it also contains instruction for Timothy as the leader of a church, that could in the near future experience Nero’s expanding persecution of Christians within the empire. Timothy is encouraged to endure hardships, to ensure that He instils God’s word in the hearts of his congregation, trains up leaders, and continue in the things that he had learned for his mentors (including Paul).
Paul also emphasises the importance of the wisdom Timothy had attained from God’s word, which will enable him to distinguish truth from error, and not be swayed by the deceptions of false teachers that Satan continually raises up and sends against the Church.
Sixteen Instructions for the Last Days Church
As this letter is the last communication to Timothy by Paul, it contains all that was of great concern for Paul regarding the young pastor and the continued health of the church at Ephesus. The letter is therefore an extremely important guide to the Church in the Last Days. An analysis of the advice Paul gives must be seen as essential for all Christians, especially those who are leaders within churches in these Last Days.
Hold Fast and Maintain the Standard (2 Timothy 1:1-14)
1. Avidly use your spiritual gifts (1:6).
“For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.”
The picture was taken from Knowing-Jesus.com
With the baptism of the Holy Spirit, every believer is enabled and empowered for service. The Holy Spirit gives each believer a spiritual gift to serve within the body of Christ. There are multiple organs within a human body each with different functions and all are required to enable the body to perform without hindrances and ailments. Just as many organs are required for the human body to function efficiently, there are many gifts that God has provided for the body that is the Church to prosper.
There are many Christians that are content with attending church on a Sunday and allowing the elders/pastors of the church to fulfill the duties that the church needs to function. A church that allows this to occur will be no more than a meeting place for the temporal, who escape from the world for one morning of spiritual refreshing, before surrendering to the world for the next six days. It is because of this that these Christians remain spiritually stunted and fail to attain maturity in the Lord. The church they attend will also stagnate, going through the motions of being a church, with attendance being driven by tradition, this is often not enough resulting in the slow demise of the church, ending in a vacant building waiting to be occupied by some nongovernment organisation (NGO).
Most Christians if asked what their spiritual gift is will not be able to tell you, or they will inform you that it is to serve the church, as they do not fully understand the significance of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. A simple check into the Bible will reveal that there are three main places in Scripture that record a list of gifts given by the Holy Spirit, these gifts must be available to all believers who are in a state of grace. The first list in the New Covenant is recorded in the book of Romans (12:3-8) where Paul writes that the gifts “differ according to the grace given to us,” he then goes on to encourage the readers to use their gifts, listing them as prophecy, serving, teaching, encouraging, giving, leadership and mercy.
The second New Covenant list is recorded by Paul in 1 Corinthians 12 which may be grouped into three groups of three:
- Revelation: Wisdom, knowledge, and distinguishing between spirits.
- Power: Faith, healing, and miracles.
- Inspiration: Prophecy, various kinds of tongues, and interpretation of tongues.
The last list is found in the book of Ephesians (4:11-13), where the fivefold ministry is recorded as being: Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. These ministries are gifts to the Church from Jesus, and are to be used “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.”
Table Showing the Three Lists
|Romans 12:3-8||1 Corinthians 12 (8-10)||Ephesians (4:11-13)|
|Mercy||Distinguishing between spirits|
|Speaking in tongues|
Within the three lists recorded, the gift of prophecy is mentioned three times. The gift of prophecy needs clarification as there must be a distinction made between the Old Testament type of prophecy which often began with: “thus sayeth the Lord,” therefore being spoken as the direct authoritative word of God, and the New Covenant gifting. The New Covenant gift of prophecy is the receiving of a divinely inspired message, with the purpose of edifying the body of Christ. It is not a direct prophecy from God, it is not equal to scripture. The prophecies usually take the form of exhortation or correction, (1 Corinthians 14:3-4, 24-25). So, the prophecies must be seen, not as the authoritative word of God, but as the human interpretation of the revelation that was received. They are spoken in human words through a human mind which is why they must be tested against the Scriptures (1 Thessalonians 5:20-21). Those that receive these prophecies should also seek confirmation from the Lord through another source, to ensure the prophecy is from God, and not from an individual seeking to be valued. So, there are two types of prophecy in the table above, the edifying prophecy (Romans and Corinthians) and the direct prediction of events that will happen in the future which is given by a Prophet who is a gift to the Church (Ephesians).
Taking the repetition of the gift of prophecy into consideration there are therefore 20 gifts of the Holy Spirit recorded in the three lists. I do not believe that these lists cover all the many gifts of the Holy Spirit, for example, the gift of service covers a large variety of talents that the church is able to benefit from. There are also the all-important prayer warriors, which not only involve compassion for others but also a daily dedication to spend considerable time conversing with the Lord. Then there is the gift that some have named “helps,” which should not be confused with the gift of mercy, they are similar, but there is a distinction. Those with the gift of “helps” are those who can aid, or render assistance to others in the church – with humility and grace. So, this gifting is defined by its support role within the church, just as a great goal scorer like Renaldo in soccer, requires players to pass him the ball, so too, church ministries require support from others to be a success. This gifting, therefore, has a large range of possibilities for application. The book of Acts records that a woman named Tabitha was known as gifted in helping others: “Now there was in Joppa a disciple named Tabitha, which, translated means Dorcas. She was full of good works and acts of charity” (9:36). Although the scripture does not specifically mention the gifting, she exhibits the traits sufficiently for her to stand out within her church community.
Whatever a person’s gift is they must heed Paul’s exhortation to Timothy, “to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you,” Paul encouraged Timothy never to let the gift that he has within him burn down to embers. Timothy was to continually stir up the flames with the bellows of action.
Paul’s instruction for all believers is that they are to eagerly desire the gifts of the Holy Spirit. This means that elders are to continually encourage members of their congregation to seek their gifting through the laying on of hands and prayer. To eagerly desire the gifts requires the person to continually go before the Lord in prayer and ask Him to reveal the gifting they have received. The desire for the gift must be connected to a love of God, and a willingness to serve Him, and should not be motivated by a religious spirit that seeks selfish gain and the praises of men.
The laying on of hands to receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit is not a magic show, where the gift is suddenly manifest in the person. The gift of wisdom for example may be imparted to a person through a burden from the Holy Spirit to study God’s Word. Followed by years of Holy Spirit-guided opportunities to grow and learn. There is an old expression “God helps those that help themselves,” which is very true of receiving the gifts of the Holy Spirit, God gives gifts to those who are motivated to seek His will for their lives and dedicate themselves to His service.
A church that has encouraged its congregation to seek the gifts and fan the flames of their gifts will have a church that is a V20 Rolls Royce engine with all 20 cylinders firing, a church where the Holy Spirit will be able to bless with guidance, direction, authority and power. A church that does not encourage the congregation to seek the gifts of the Holy Spirit will be the equivalent of a jalopy that sputters along.
2. Refuse to hide the Gospel of Christ (1:7-8).
“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. 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,”
When interpreting verse 7 it must be remembered that Timothy operated in support of Paul’s ministry, firstly as a disciple and then as his assistant. He was a young man who was being mentored by Paul. Timothy would have been in his early to mid-thirties when Paul left him in charge of the church at Ephesus in AD 64, sixteen years after Timothy’s conversion, a major responsibility for a young man.
Combined with the evidence of Timothy’s youthfulness is that there are hints in Scripture that indicate Timothy was by nature reserved and timid: “When Timothy comes, see that you put him at ease among you, for he is doing the work of the Lord…” (1 Corinthians 16:10). Further evidence of Timothy’s introversion is revealed by Paul who gave Timothy instruction and advice for leading the church in his first letter, encouraging him to not allow others to look down on him because of his youth, but rather to set an example for other believers “in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12).
So, in the second letter, Paul is once again exhorting Timothy to stand strong. In verse 7 Paul writes that God did not give believers a spirit of fear, the Greek word Paul uses for fear is deilia, which in Greek writings of the time referred to a person who when confronted with the realities of battle would flee in fear, which marks that person as a coward. So once again Paul is encouraging Timothy, reminding him that believers have a spirit not of timidity and fearfulness, but of “power and love and self-discipline (NIV).”
Paul, therefore, is calling for boldness in our proclaiming the Gospel of Christ, in the Last Days the church will be persecuted for holding on to the truth. Boldness will be rewarded by God, even when Paul was in prison in Caesarea and Rome, he continued to proclaim the Gospel in chains and he wrote three important letters: Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians, which are included in our Bibles as being God-breathed.
Churches will need to be able to replace leaders who have been arrested for their stand on the truth of God’s word, with men who will be equal to the task, and who will refuse to hide the Gospel of Christ.
3. Called to serve (1:9).
“… God who saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before times eternal (ASV).”
This verse is extremely important for every believer to understand their importance in God’s plan for mankind, and even more so for believers in the Last Days as God is preparing to put the finishing touches to His masterpiece.
Paul makes it very clear in verse 9, that if you are saved, you have been called by God and that each calling is “holy”, something to be desired and treasured, but also to be treated with reverence and respect. It is a very unfortunate fact that many believers do not know that they have a “holy calling,” which must be seen as a failing on the part of the church elders. For a church to fulfill the function that God has for them, all the believers need to be answering their “holy calling”. While having people in the church with a gift of service is important for the smooth running of the church, it seems that there are too many elders that are only looking for this gifting in their churches. They put a list of duties at the information counter and encourage people to volunteer their services, which will include standing in the car park on parking duty, shaking hands at the door, and washing coffee cups. What are these elders doing about ensuring the development of the many other gifts God provides? – nothing! How is God going to be able to use their church? And if God cannot use the church, then how can He bless the church?
Also, a believer can never truly be satisfied until they have found their calling, so a church that does not encourage believers to find their gifting will not only be underperforming but will also consist of unfulfilled believers.
Believers need to understand that God predestined us, He arranged the course that our lives would take. He, therefore, has a specific plan and purpose for each of us. The book of Proverbs informs us that “the beginning of wisdom is the fear of God” (9:10 [KJV]), understanding that we have been chosen by God to fulfill a specific ministry brings us to a closer reverence and dependence on God, only by his grace will we be able to achieve the task set before us. God does not want us to rely on our own ability, it is not according to our own works, it is according to His own grace. Grace cannot be earned, works and grace are mutually exclusive. Derek Prince explains the process by writing: “Grace begins where human ability ends, if you can do it by yourself, why should God give you grace. When you come to the place where God wants you to do something and you can’t do it, then you have to depend on His grace, and that is what God wants you to do.” God wants us to depend on His grace:
“8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:8-10).
Through God’s grace working in our lives and sanctifying us, we are able to be trained and prepared to complete the “good works” which he has prepared for us to do.
God knows the end from the beginning, so before God started the work of creation, He knew every single person who would become a believer, and he knew how they would fit into His plan for mankind. So, there is a divine plan and purpose for every believer, a “holy calling”. There should be no greater desire in each believer’s heart than to find their calling and perfect it. Millions of men and woman gave up their secular work to answer the call “for king and country”, to serve in the armed forces during WWI and WW2. Many of those men and women died fulfilling that calling. In comparison, despite the greater calling, there is nowhere near the same motivation among believers to commit their lives in service to their God, and for the future Kingdom He is preparing for us. It is madness! When a person is called up from civilian life to serve in the military, that person is paid a stipend by the government, and at the end of their service, they are given a golden handshake, and a Distinguished Service Medal. For this minor gratuity, people were willing to give up their lives because they were defending their country. Compare that to answering a call to serve God, believers are working to establish the Millennium Kingdom, which will see the rightful King of all mankind take His place as the Son of David on the throne of David in Jerusalem. Then, at the end of the Millennium, there will be the eternal Kingdom when New Jerusalem will come down from heaven to earth, and the Son of God will take His place on the throne of God within the city.
At the Bema Judgement Seat in heaven, believers will receive their reward for service done during their life, a precious eternal reward, they will not receive a ribboned coin, but rather they will be given crowns, a prestigious symbol of status in the Kingdom. The crowns therefore not only reveal distinguished service, but also an authority in the Kingdom.
US Army Distinguished Service Medal Anodized (DSM)
When a believer grasps the enormity of the responsibility that they are given through the grace of God, they should be struck by a sense of their importance within God’s plan. Not in the puffed-up narcissistic way, but in an understanding of the responsibility that each of us carries, we all have a special role to play using special gifting that is uniquely our own. We are all cogs in God’s great machine that is churning ever forwards to the final Goal – the Son of Man establishing his Kingdom, and then the New Heaven and the New Earth. Are you sure of your calling, and how your life fits with God’s plan and purpose?
4. Continue to defend sound doctrine (1:13-14).
“Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.”
Paul clearly informs us that Jesus is the Cornerstone upon which the Church is to be built (Ephesians 2:20). The cornerstone is the principal stone in all construction projects. It is the stone that is placed at the corner of an edifice, so as to guide the workers as they proceed to erect the walls of the building. The cornerstone is essential in ensuring the correct construction of the building, without this principal stone as a guide for construction, the building will be unstable and in due time will collapse.
At the time Paul wrote his letter to Timothy, there was no New Testament Bible. The first foundation stones laid in alignment with Jesus as the cornerstone were the apostles, who were given the authority of establishing the early Church called “the Way.” It was the apostle’s writings that were gathered together to form the books of the New Testament. So, Paul’s instructions to Timothy could not be to stand on the word of God as believers are able to do today. Instead, Paul tells Timothy to follow the doctrines set by Paul’s own teaching, and use them as a model in his own ministry. This was to be the tried and tested template which would shape the stones that would build upon the cornerstone laid by Jesus.
Timothy had been entrusted with the great responsibility of disciplining believers to maturity in Jesus, and Paul encourage the young man to stand firm and not to be swayed from teaching the sound doctrine that he had learned as Paul’s disciple.
The message for the End Times Church carries an even greater urgency to hold fast to the Word of Truth and not to be swayed by the multitude of false doctrine that is prevalent today. Paul warns in his second letter to the church of Thessalonica that there will be a falling away from the truth in the Church in the Last Days. Therefore, the Last Days churches have a great responsibility to ensure that they disciple their members, and establish a firm foundational doctrine upon which they may all stand.
Rightly Divide the Word (2 Timothy 2:1-22)
5. Trust Jesus for grace and strength (2:1).
“You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus.”
Timothy was the lead Elder of the church in Ephesus the home of the Roman goddess Diana (the Greek Artemis) and her temple, which was considered one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. The worship of Diana the “virgin goddess,” appears to have been fused in Ephesus with the mother goddess of Asia Minor. The result was that Diana was the patron of all prostitutes, and with her many bosomed image, she represented fertility and sexuality. Numerous rites of ancient times described the immorality of the city. Ephesus was also a centre of witchcraft, superstition and demonism, having a weird mixture of black arts, demon worship, astrology and occult practices of various kinds. Image cults flourished in Ephesus, and one kind of Magic formula was actually called “Ephesia Grammata,” with magical formulars being inscribed on the statues of Diana.
Diana of Ephesus
The Ephesian Christians were converted to Christ out of this terrible atmosphere of demonic bondage. Some of them continued their occult involvement even after they had come to know Jesus as Lord and Saviour.
Paul, who established the church at Ephesus was well aware of the difficulties Timothy would have to endure as leader of the Ephesian church. Therefore, Paul’s call for Timothy to be strong was an important encouragement, Paul knew that Timothy would need great spiritual strength and endurance to fulfill the role that he was called to by the Lord. Just as God called Gideon while he was threshing wheat in a winepress so he could hide it from the Midianites, so too was Timothy called to the front of the battle when he would have preferred to be in a support role. The angel that called to Gideon told him “The Lord is with you, O mighty man of valour” (Judges 6:12), God is able to take the weak and make them strong, Gideon went from being a timid farmer to a courageous leader of God’s army. Paul sums it up well in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10: “And He (God) said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness’.” This is the message that Paul is delivering to Timothy, that he is to trust Jesus for strength to fulfil his duty, which the grace that is in Jesus would provide – Timothy’s strength would not be found in himself, but in the strength of unmerited favour that Jesus would provide.
The End Times Church is also going to face demonic opposition, and is going to have to depend on the unmerited favour from Jesus to confront the enemy, they are going to have to trust Jesus that He will be able to provide them with the strength, and ability to complete the task that has been ordained for them.
A lesson needs to be learned from the church in Ephesus: They were established under the unparalleled leadership of Paul and had some of the greatest of the early saints as leaders, such as Barnabas, Timothy, John and Polycarp. Yet even with these great men of faith as elders of the church, this church that so closely identified with the apostolic church, became foundational to the later syncretism that saw mainstream Christianity transformed into a paganised and politicised Christendom. The clear implication is, that churches that do not continually do spiritual warfare against the strongholds over their area, will eventually lose any spiritual ground gained to the very patient demonic powers.
6. Continue to make disciples and train leaders (2:2).
“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.”
A major problem in the Church today is the focus on evangelism, Jesus did not say “go out and evangelise all nations,” He said, “go and make disciples of all nations.” When the focus of a church is on evangelism, they are not disciplining their congregation properly, which ultimately means the understanding of Scripture becomes less and less over time, and the church becomes weaker and weaker. Note that Paul’s instruction to Timothy is to entrust what he had learned to “faithful men,” this is clearly an instruction for the discipleship of men who would be obedient stewards of God’s Word.
Paul understood the importance of discipleship and therefore instructs Timothy to be faithful in the passing on of the foundational teaching he received, enabling the disciples to grow in the Lord and eventually become teachers themselves. Timothy had the privilege of spending many years under the teachings of Paul, being mentored by the great apostle, there was no better preparation and training for service that a young disciple could receive at that time. Paul stresses to Timothy that it was now up to Timothy to take responsibility and continue to make disciples and train leaders. The process must be continual, it is a never-ending cycle of a student becoming a leader and teacher, who will train the next generation of students.
During the American war of independence, American militia targeted British officers, as killing them would plunge the larger more organised British force into disarray. In the war in Ukraine, a major distinction between the two forces is that the Russian army is heavily dependent on the leadership of their generals, so the Ukrainians, in the early stages of the war targeted and killed a large number of Russian generals. The Ukrainians did not have the same problem, as The Ukraine military has been influenced by NATO tactics. The focus of the military in the West is on NCO leadership, which makes the difference on the battlefield, the units move fast and do more because they have the autonomy to operate. They have the goal dictated by the ranking officers, but the NCOs have the freedom according to the context of the battle conditions to make the decisions necessary to achieve that goal. The End Times churches must learn from this sound strategy as Satan is going to target church leaders, they are going to be arrested and imprisoned for their moral stand. What Satan hopes is that the church will be a headless chicken, aimlessly running in all directions before collapsing and dying. I recently asked a Pastor of a small church what would happen to his church if he was arrested, he was silent, he did not offer an answer, he knew his church would collapse. There was no NCO training in his church, there was just a general. The first lesson to be learned is that there should never be a hierarchy in a church, there should be elders and deacons committed to serving the body. A lead elder is first among equals, with other elders who are able to step up and lead when required, and within a church to lead means to serve – an elder is a servant to the church. So, the church needs to follow the example of Western military tactics, they must instill sound doctrine within the church and equip them with the knowledge that will enable them to grow, and when needed, there will be people who will be able to take over the duties of elders and deacons. The NCOs of a church then are the home group leaders, who should be trained by the church to be able to lead small groups, which are, after all, small churches. It is these “faithful men” who need training and guidance from the elders.
7. Prepare to endure suffering (2:3).
“Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus”.
A good example to be able to understand Paul’s encouragement to Timothy to endure suffering is the basic training required by any military combat unit. The trainees are put through numerous hardships to prepare them for the rigors of combat. Any soldier going into combat against an enemy will have to endure many and varied forms of hardship: Hunger, thirst, harsh weather, lack of sleep, extreme fatigue, enduring enemy fire, the loss of comrades on the battlefield, and injuries sustained from combat.
Paul is writing to Timothy from prison in Rome, suffering for his faith, instead of complaining he tells Timothy what he is experiencing is that which is expected of a soldier in combat. Missionaries have for centuries endured great hardships to take the Word of God to unreached people groups around the world. Now as we approach the Last Days, the Church will be required to face persecution. Pastors and elders will be jailed for their refusal to compromise God’s word, or even targeted for physical violence and hospitalised, those who then rise up to take their place must also have the courage to take the same stand, and face whatever the consequences. Enduring suffering takes courage, a soldier needs to be courageous to face the enemy in combat. Enduring hardship is an expectation on the shoulders of all believers: “A servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted me (Jesus), they will also persecute you.” We are all to have the mental fortitude of a well-trained disciplined soldier. A “good soldier” is one that is able to take their training and effectively transfer it into combat.
Every single soldier is trained according to a training manual, and they are all expected to have a sound understanding of the manual to operate effectively in the field. Believers also have a training manual, and we are also expected to have a sound understanding of the whole book to be able to operate effectively in the world.
For those believers who may need convincing that the Church will go through persecution, all they need to do is follow the Marxist influence on Western culture which may best be seen in the USA, with the Woke movement’s well-planned and well-executed attack on Judeo-Christian values. The Woke movement has infiltrated every facet of American society: the mass media, corporate America, Hollywood, and the American education system. Even the criminal justice system is a tainted system with liberal judges and district attorneys being sponsored by men like the billionaire leftist George Soros, who also pours money into electing liberal politicians.
Further evidence of Christians being targeted for persecution may be found North of the USA, in Canada 45 Christian churches have been attacked with some of them being burnt to the ground. The crimes being committed by far-left terrorists with a Marxist ideology aim to intimidate and strike fear into Christians and prevent them from practicing their faith. The attacks on these churches are shocking, but even more shocking is the lack of response from Justin Trudeau’s leftist government.
Charles McVety, president of the Institute for Canadian Values, gives a number of examples to show that Christianity is under attack in Canada and laws are being put in place to impinge on Christians’ ability to practice their faith. The events include:
- A refusal by three provincial bar associations to accredit any potential law school graduate of Trinity Western University, which prohibits sexual intimacy outside heterosexual marriage among its students.
- A letter from Bank of Montreal to the Law Society of Upper Canada, which governs Ontario lawyers, arguing against accrediting Trinity Western’s proposed law school.
- A commitment by the general counsel of 72 companies to promote diversity and inclusion.
- The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario requiring that doctors with religious objections to birth control or abortion refer those patients to another physician.
Charles McVety concludes that “Unfortunately, Christians in this country find themselves under attack.” The reality is that Western values have changed dramatically, Christians used to be considered upstanding citizens and the backbone of a stable society. Today the Liberal Left is actively seeking to destroy such a person, targeting them as fundamentalists who are bigoted, racist, homophobic, transphobic, and chauvinists who insight hatred towards others. The Left opens its arms wide and tolerates all, except those who are intolerant, so the mass media vilifies Bible-believing Christians, while apostate Christianity looks on in agreement.
The target for any Marxist totalitarian regime is the family, and the leftist movement has been hard at work breaking up the family and placing children in the care of the government. The LGBTAIA+ movement has been at the forefront of changing societal norms regarding the family unit, and the government education system is hard work indoctrinating children and teenagers with leftist values.
Here once again the threat to Christian morals and values is made clear, where there is continual evidence of the rights of Christians being trumped by the rights of the LGBTAIA+ community. From a doctor in Britain working for public health being fired for refusing to write “she” for a man on a form, to teachers in America being suspended for the refusing to call a boy by a feminine pronoun. Any Believers who stand up to the attack using sound Biblical morals and beliefs will immediately be targeted for persecution in order to be silenced.
8. Refuse to be distracted by the world (2:4).
“No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.”
Continuing on with the metaphor of a soldier, Paul informs Timothy that a soldier is focused on his duty and his ability to perform it at his best, he does not concern himself with non-military matters which would distract him from his responsibilities as a soldier. Timothy as the lead elder of Ephesus is to focus wholly on that task and not be distracted by worldly occupations, such as taking a secular job, becoming an entertainer, or entering into politics. There is a danger that elders in a church may associate themselves too closely with political parties and government leaders. These elders will therefore be associated with the political views and activities of the political party, and no political party is held accountable to Scripture, but an elder is. An elder is to never contaminate their testimony and damage their witness to the Lordship of their saviour.
However, there are examples in Church history of when God has used men in politics, such as William Wilberforce, the 19th-century Englishman who vigorously campaigned against slavery that was so prevalent at that time. He was driven by his Christian principles and mightily used by God. Thanks to him Britain not only banned slavery in the empire they actually fought against it, with some 2 000 British sailors dying while working to stop the transport of slaves by sea. An example in modern times is when pastors are actively involved in Pro-Life organisations, where they encourage women to seek counselling and consider options other than abortion, while also petitioning politicians to vote against leftist ideology regarding abortion.
Two people who play a prominent role in modern Christian apologetics are Candace Owens and Charlie Kirk in America, who attend college campus debates and expose the deceptions and lies of the radical Left. Apologetics is their ministry, and they are doing an amazing job of upholding strong Christian values, their mission field is the hearts and minds of those who are being led captive by leftist propaganda. They are not less effective soldiers because they have become involved in debating, they are very effective soldiers. But their focus is on their ministry, they do not allow outside influences to distract them from it.
9. Focus on Jesus (2:8).
“Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel.”
When Paul instructs Timothy to remember, it is not that Timothy is forgetful, but rather to stress what is to be foremost in his teaching, which was always prominent in Paul’s gospel. There are two aspects Paul selects from his gospel:
- Jesus as “risen from the dead”: The resurrection is the foundation of the Christian faith. Paul informed the Corinthians that “if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain” (1 Cor. 15:14). Believers are to see Jesus, the first ever resurrected in a heavenly body, as being triumphant over death and a pointer to the promise all believers have in Him, raised in perfect bodies to the glories of eternal life.
- Jesus is the Son of David (Matthew 9:27; 12:23 15:22): The Prophet Nathan delivered the covenant promise to David in Jerusalem (2 Samuel 7), and we see that it is linked to the Abrahamic Covenant. God had promised to Abraham that it would be through his seed that the covenant would flow, this promise is fulfilled in that David, the seed of Abraham through Judah, would have a descendant that would become the King Messiah. God promises David that he will have a son to sit on his throne forever, the line to the Messiah will be through David, and that that son of David will deliver God’s people, and establish a Kingdom that will endure forever. The surety of the promises made rests solely on God’s faithfulness and does not depend at all on David, or Israel’s obedience. Jesus is the Son of David who will sit on the throne of David, in the city of the Great King – Jerusalem.
Note that the two points stressed by Paul point to the hypostatic union of Jesus, He is all man and all God. Two of the most used titles for Jesus in the gospels are Son of Man, and Son of David, both pointing to His birth into the lineage of David. Underlining that Jesus was both a man and the successor to the throne of David. The miracle of Jesus being raised from the dead underlines that Jesus was not a crucified man, but the Son of God who died for the sins of all mankind, and then was resurrected to His heavenly status as the Son of God, and King of kings. Jesus is both the Son of David who will rule over the Millennial Kingdom earth, and the Son of God who will rule from Jerusalem on the New Earth.
This important aspect of “Paul’s gospel” must be at the forefront of the End Times Church’s message, the Church is not just bringing a message of salvation, it must make clear who Jesus is, He is both God and man, and He is returning to earth as King of Kings to establish His Kingdom. The Church needs to understand the important role it must play in preparing the way for the return of the King.
10. A worker approved by God (2:15).
“15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.”
Earlier in his letter, Paul exhorted Timothy to be strong and endure hardship, now Timothy is being encouraged to work hard at being a servant of the Lord. There are always those with religious spirits who work hard for the praise of men; they are the modern-day Pharisees who must be seen performing their ministry, and they will continually remind others of their dedication, “for they loved human praise more than praise from God” (John 12:43).
Timothy was not to seek the approval of men, rather his goal was to become an approved worker for God. As a teacher, I found an effective correction for a lazy student was to go through their assignment with them, comparing what they were required to do with what they had actually done, they would become extremely embarrassed at their poor effort. All believers will one day have to stand before the Bema Judgement Seat of the Lord and be held accountable for our service to Him (2 Corinthians 5:10). There will be many believers who will be shown the gifting they had received from the Holy Spirit, and they will not even know that they had it! Their rewards will be little more than wood, hay, and straw, which will just be a pile of ash when tested by fire.
For a believer to rightly handle the word of truth they must diligently study the Scriptures, they are then able to stand on the foundation of God’s word and defend it against attacks by man’s philosophies. A believer who knows their scripture is not only never swayed by worldly deceptions, but is able to show clarity in a debate, they cannot be accused of merely speaking their opinions when they are able to quote scripture to make their point. They have a firm foundation on which they stand.
The Last Days Church is going to have a major responsibility to represent the truth in a corrupted world, which will have an apostate false church. That is what good soldiers do, they obey their commander, and honour their calling no matter what the cost.
11. Stand on the foundation that is Jesus and the teaching of the apostles (2:16-17; 19).
“16 But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, 17 and their talk will spread like gangrene… 19 But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: ‘The Lord knows those who are his,’ and, ‘Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity’.”
In Chapter 2 Paul reveals that there have been worthless men who have introduced false teaching in the Ephesus church, “their talk is like gangrene,” it is deadly, spreads rapidly and stinks! Paul then stresses that God’s “firm foundation” will not be swayed by the minions of Satan. The “firm foundation” are the members of the church who stand on the foundation that is Jesus and the teaching of the apostles. Paul is clearly emphasizing that those churches that study and preach God’s word with discipline and accuracy, will be able to withstand any attempt by Satan to corrupt their doctrine with false teachings.
In these Last days, with the tide of apostasy growing ever deeper and attempting to flood into every church, there has become an even greater need for pastors to emphasise the preaching and teaching of God’s word, to build a “firm foundation,” of believers.
Scripture is clear that God knows who are His and who are called by His name. Paul’s including “the Lord knows those who are his” in verse 19, is connecting to the rebellion of Korah which is recorded in Number 16:5: “In the morning the Lord will show (reveal [CSB]) who is his.” Kora was a gangrenous poison in the camp of Israel, a rot ripe for the contamination of the whole nation. Korah challenged the leadership of Moses and raised up 250 men so as to lead a revolt against him. God clarified who was His chosen leader when He caused the earth to open up and swallow both Korah and all his co-conspirators (Numbers 16:31-33).
God made it clear to Moses that He would make a distinction between those who are His and those who are the seed of the enemy. So will it be in the Last Days, God will draw a line in the sand and define His true Church, He will bring about circumstances that will reveal those who are His. There will be both persecution of the Church and revival within the Church. This will define and refine the Bride that Jesus will return for, so instead of the apostate church going down to Sheol as Korah did, the Bride will go up to meet her Bridegroom. The demise of Korah and His co-conspirators should be a warning to all of the grim consequences of challenging God’s chosen people, for Korah, the judgement was Sheol, for the apostate church it will be the Tribulation.
12. Becoming a person God can use greatly (2:20-21).
“Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honourable use, some for dishonourable. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable,4 he will be a vessel for honourable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.”
Picture take from: Facebook.com/Dr.PaulDhinakaran
Paul has instructed Timothy that he is to identify and deal with corrupt teachers in the church whose false teaching would spread like the deadly toxin, gangrene. Paul wants Timothy to focus on God’s word and to raise up faithful leaders in the Church who are rooted in sound doctrine. In verses 20-21 Paul compares the Church to a “great house,” a mansion, as it represents God’s magnificent plan for the restoration of mankind, Paul then compares two types of vessels that would be used in the house. Vessels of gold and silver that would be for honourable use and vessels of wood and clay that would be for dishonourable use. There is a similarity in these verses with the analogy Paul used in 1 Corinthians 3:12-15, Paul uses gold and silver to describe the rewards in heaven for honourable work done in service to the Lord, and wood as a reward for temporal work done in service to self. When tested by fire the honourable works will remain pure, while the wood will be turned to ash and be blown away leaving no reward. There are those in the Church that have an eternal mindset, so they are prepared to dedicate their lives in service to the Lord, and become vessels of honour, sanctified for use by the master of the mansion. Then there are those that are the vessels of dishonour, the waste basket, ashtray and the vomit bucket, these are the chameleon Christians who are spiritual one day a week and then fit back into the world for the other six days. Their focus is on worldly pursuits and self-gratification, there is no reverence for a Holy God, rather He is viewed more as a generous Grandfather whom the children visit on the weekend and are spoiled with gifts.
The analogy of the vessels of honour and dishonour needs to be taken even further to the fact that there are those apostate teachers who like the malaria mosquito, which not only takes the blood meal but infects the host with the malaria-causing parasite, Plasmodium. These are the false teachers Paul warned about in verses 16-17, and Jesus warns about in the parable of the tares and the wheat, where the enemy will plant weeds amongst the good wheat. There are not only people who are vessels of dishonour, but also churches that have adopted apostate teachings and have become larger vessels of dishonour within the mansion of God’s Church. In the Last Days, God will identify those that are His, the churches of honour.
Perilous Times Will Come (2 Timothy 3:1-17)
13. A warning of godlessness in the Last Days (2 Tim. 3:1-5; 7).
“1 But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people… 7 always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.”
In his first letter to Timothy Paul warns of the corruption of the Church writing “The Spirit clearly says that in the later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons” (1 Tim. 4:1). Then in 2 Timothy 3:1-5, & 7 Paul lists the moral degradation of mankind in the last days, which will be reflected in the apostasy of the Last Days Church:
- men will be lovers of themselves.
- lovers of money.
- disobedient to parents.
- without self-control.
- despisers of good.
- lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.
- having a form of godliness but denying its power.
- always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
After reading this lengthy and detailed list, one would be able to say that the list is of the immoral actions of man throughout history, not just a warning of the moral decay of the Last Days. That would be very true, however, it must be noted that Paul is writing about the Church! God has given Paul this insight for the Church to take a long look at itself, it is those that proclaim that they are representatives of the Church that are the subject God has put under scrutiny in these verses. Those who have followed my blog will know that I use the word “believer” rather than “Christian,” as Christianity has become so contaminated with false doctrines that the word Christian has lost its connection to Jesus, Paul warns Timothy to have nothing to do with these professing believers.
The Greek word Paul uses for “difficulty” in verse 1 is chalepoi, which is translated as “perilous” in the King James version. The other place in Scripture where chalepoi is used is in Matthew 8:28, to describe the two demon-possessed men on the shores of Galilee as “fierce,” the word can also mean “harsh” and “savage”. So, the use of “difficult” by the ESV Bible is very tame compared to the warning Paul was attempting to give about the Last Days, they will be perilous and fiercely harsh for believers. To say that the Last Days will be difficult, or stressful for believers is the equivalent of describing a tornado as a whirlwind.
How does the End Times Church prepare for such a time? The answer is given in 2 Timothy by Paul in his instructions to train up strong leaders, stand on sound doctrine, reject apostate teachers and endure hardship as a good soldier.
14. The ultimate source of power is the word of God (3:14-17).
“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
It is important to remember the context of 2 Timothy, Paul is writing to Timothy from jail, and Nero is targeting Christians for persecution, which will not only be centered in Rome but will eventually extend to Christians throughout the empire. Paul’s advice to Timothy after his stern warning of what to do when perilous times arrive is to remain steadfast in faith, trusting in what he has learned and believing with all His heart that Jesus is Lord of all and is always in control. Nothing can happen to a believer unless God allows it, and if God allows it, there is a good reason. The last days will be “the new normal”, people of great power and authority will arise and target believers who oppose their apostate ideology, these believers will have to remain steadfast in their faith. If they are arrested, they must have the same attitude as Paul, the jail cells become their new mission field! The rest of the church must step up and take on the duties of those who have been persecuted then continue to evangelise, disciple, and train leaders, continually equipping and preparing believers to fulfill their calling.
Paul makes a strong contrast in chapter 3, moving from a dire warning of the perilous times that will arise in the Last Days, to Timothy being advised to copy the example he had learned from his time ministering with Paul. Paul reminds Timothy that he has an ultimate source of power in the Word of God. Timothy is reassured that there is no wisdom greater than the scriptures and that he has a firm foundation of inspired “sacred writings” upon which to stand.
2 Timothy 2 is an extremely important scripture for believers, reassuring them that although men wrote the 66 books of the Bible, it was the Holy Spirit that guided their hand. Just as Bezalel and Oholiab were empowered by the Holy Spirit to build the Tabernacle, in the days of Moses, to the standards and specifications that God required, so too the Holy Spirit inspired and guided the men who penned the scriptures. A wonderful reassurance for all believers of the divinely inspired nature of their Bibles, the only book that has ever been written that is without error (2 Peter 1:20–21; Psalm 12:6; Proverbs 30:5; 1 Thessalonians 2:13).
The Bible not only reveals the character and nature of God to the reader, but also instructions on how to join in a covenant relationship with him, and how to live a life honouring that covenant. The Bible also gives numerous examples of God’s dealings with mankind as wonderful learning material for each believer. The Bible is a complete comprehensive book that includes all we need for a life that honours God. The excellent website Got questions gives a well writing compact summation:
“The Bible contains essential wisdom and guidance for making our way through life: ‘Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path’ (Psalm 119:105, ESV). Jesus taught us to depend on God’s Word for our ‘daily bread.’ We cannot underestimate the importance of consuming it regularly, for it is the fuel of our spiritual lives (Deuteronomy 8:3; Matthew 4:1–4). God’s Word equips and empowers us to serve Him (2 Timothy 3:17; Hebrews 4:12), and we can wield it as our greatest offensive weapon against our adversary, the devil, and the powers of darkness (Ephesians 6:17).” (https://www.gotquestions.org/importance-of-the-Bible.html [28/10/22]).
In conclusion of this topic, I would like to pose an important question, why, when there is so much emphasis on the study of God’s Word in Scripture, do so few churches have discipleship? Churches focus on evangelism, and in the process of time become weaker doctrinally and more susceptible to deception and apostasy. The Last Days churches must have a discipleship program, teaching and training people to become good soldiers in the army of God. So, Paul in verses 14-15 of chapter 3 is reminding Timothy that the source of his authority comes from “the sacred writings” that he was taught as a young disciple, he, therefore, has all he needs to fulfill his calling.
Preach the Word (2 Timothy 4:1-5)
15. Keep preaching the word of God (2:1-4).
“I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths”.
After stressing the importance of the Bible to the life and health of the Church, Paul in the conclusion of his letter commands Timothy to preach God’s Word. The Greek word Paul uses for “charge” is diamartyromai, which is a legal term meaning to “testify under oath” Paul “in the presence of God and Christ Jesus” places Timothy under the solemn obligation to preach the Word. In Scripture, two or more witnesses are required for a testimony to be considered truthful (Deut. 19:15), Paul calls on God the Father and Jesus to be His two witnesses to the command that Timothy “preach the word,” there is no escaping this requirement for Timothy. Previously in the letter, Paul exhorted Timothy to emphasise the word of God in his church, now once again Paul brings the importance of God’s Word to the church before Timothy, but this time he binds Timothy to a solemn oath that he will “preach the word.” There should be no escaping this solemn obligation by any man called to pastor a church, yet so many pastors make the error of only preaching the Gospels and not the Word.
Surely there must be a recognition by Pastors in these Last Days of the need to place a greater emphasis on the expository teaching of God’s Word (unpacking a text or passage of scripture to reveal its full meaning). Paul emphasises that pastors are called to preach God’s Word at all times, in times of tolerance (“in season”) and times of persecution (“out of season”), and I would suggest that the requirement to use Scripture to “reprove, rebuke, and exhort,” would be greater in times of persecution. For in these Last Days there has already been a significant increase in the number of false doctrines, and people tuning into the apostate preachers who preach what they want to hear. Preachers are required in these End Times to define God’s truth and expose the deceptions of the enemy, which is not popular with a worldly Christian community that wants to hear about blessings and prosperity.
16. Dedicate yourself to evangelism (4:5).
“As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”
Paul goes from four warnings describing the state of the apostate church in the Last Day to then giving Timothy four commands that he needs to follow to counter the false teachings and threats of persecution that continually come against the Church:
- Always be sober-minded (“watch thou in all things” [KJV]): Timothy is instructed to be alert to world events that affect the Church, and to react in a calm and controlled manner. All believers no matter what country they are in and which political party is ruling their country, must understand that God is in control, it is He that determines who is in power. So, Paul is not instructing Timothy to abstain from alcohol, but rather to understand that no matter what happens to him it is part of God’s plan for His life, which means Timothy must place his trust in the Lord and look to see what God wants for him to do in every situation.
- Endure suffering: As has already been stated, there are those Christians that believe that a relationship with God is filled with prosperity and blessings which is misleading, God uses suffering and hardship as part of the sanctifying process that all believers need to go through. Remember God wants us to become good soldiers, not spoiled children. The need for believers to endure hardship is a major theme in this letter (2 Timothy 2: 1, 10, 12; 3:11; 4:5). Paul is rightly convinced that he will soon be martyred, and he wants to ensure all believers that he is more than willing to suffer death for his Lord and Saviour. Paul’s instruction is to encourage Timothy that there is a purpose to a believer’s suffering, and Timothy is to face it with courage and be an example to not only other believers but to the pagan world around him, what it means to trust in God.
- Do the work of an evangelist: Timothy’s gifting was being a Pastor and a preacher of God’s word, but no matter what our gifting is we are all required to evangelise. Every believer is required to be able to present the good news of Jesus to the people God brings into our lives. My concern is that this becomes the only focus of churches, and because they just preach evangelism they neglect discipleship, which results in a weak church.
- Fulfill your ministry: Every believer must understand that God has a plan and purpose for their lives, each believer is created “for good works, which God prepared beforehand” (Ephesians 2:10). It is the duty of every believer to find out what ministry God has planned for their lives and then to accomplish the purposes of that calling.
So, Timothy is to do more than endure the hardship of the persecution that the Church will suffer under Emperor Nero, he is to continue to evangelise even though that may result in his arrest and imprisonment. Also, Timothy is to continue in His ministry as a preacher of God’s Word, not holding back or watering it down to comply with social pressure to do so. He is to disciple His Church and train people to fulfill their God-given ministries and to be able to take on leadership roles themselves in the future.
Below is a summary of the main points, which may serve as a checklist for elders:
- Avidly use your spiritual gifts (1:6).
- Refuse to hide the Gospel of Christ (1:7-8).
- Believers have a “holy calling” (1:9).
- Defend sound doctrine (1:13-14).
- Trust Jesus for grace and strength (2:1).
- Continue to make disciples and train leaders (2:2).
- Prepare to endure suffering as a good soldier (2:3).
- Refuse to be distracted by the world (2:4).
- Focus on Jesus (2:8).
- Be a worker approved by God (2:15).
- Stand on the foundation that is Jesus and the teaching of the apostles (2:16-17; 19).
- Become a person God can use greatly (2:20-22).
- Understand the godlessness that will exist in the Last Days (2 Tim. 3:1-5; 7).
- The ultimate source of power is the word of God (3:14-15).
- Keep preaching the word of God (4:1-2).
- Be dedicated to evangelism (4:5).