When I was a university student, I received a very significant letter from my grandfather. It was to be the last letter he would write me. Etched in handwriting barely legible were the words, “Grandma forgot to give you this. Love, Gramps.” Inside was a $20 bill (a lot of money for a college student in 1979). But more meaningful than the money was the note. It was a tangible reminder of his love and commitment to me.
Last letters are significant. 2 Timothy is the last inspired epistle written by Paul before his martyrdom. It was a tangible reminder of his love and commitment to Timothy. Writing from a prison cell in Rome, he gives Timothy words of love, instruction and challenge. He reminds Timothy to endure hardship, study and teach the Word, and fulfill his ministry.
No four chapters in the Bible lay out what it means to be a disciple of Jesus like 2 Timothy does. And no epistle challenges us more emphatically to make disciples than does this last letter of Paul. At Bay Area, this is exactly what we are about: being and making disciples of Jesus from here to the nations.
Challenging Timothy and each of us, Paul uses powerful metaphors to describe the life of a faithful disciple. We are to see ourselves as a soldier who doesn’t get entangled in the temporal things of everyday life, as an athlete who strives to win the prize, as a farmer who works hard, as a worker who only desires the approval of God, and as a servant who seeks to serve the Lord.
Soldier, athlete, farmer, worker, servant – this is the life Paul challenges us to live. The life of a disciple of Jesus is serious business. It’s a life that is fully surrendered and disciplined for the cause of Christ.
It is also a life that is meant to be poured out for the sake of others. It’s a disciple-making life committed to investing in the lives of Christ-followers who will then disciple others.
The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. 2 Timothy 2:2
Paul disciples Timothy who disciples faithful men who disciples others. This is the call for every man and woman who follows Jesus. These words echo our Savior’s last words in the Gospel of Matthew when He says, “Go and make disciples of all nations.”
Upon what foundation do we stand as we become disciples who make disciples? In the words of Paul to Timothy, we stand upon the foundation of the sacred writings of Scripture.
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17
The Word of God is the foundation for our growth, the book we impart to others, our anchor during times of hardship and suffering, and the truth that refutes error. This is why you will constantly hear me say, “A chapter a day for the rest of your life.” The power of daily Bible reflection unleashes the Spirit of God to transform the mind and heart.
2 Timothy is a book of encouragement for young and old. Students and young adults are reminded that “God has given us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (1:7). For those in their later years, Paul exhorts us to follow his example and finish strong: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith” (4:7).
Between now and Easter, we are going on a journey through this remarkable epistle. We will learn how to be a disciple of Jesus who is used to make disciples of Jesus. Let me exhort you to begin reading and reflecting on 2 Timothy now. It’s our prayer that you will commit yourself to journeying with us in order to master this God-inspired book. And we pray that this last and significant letter of Paul will in turn master you.