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2 Timothy 1:6-12

6. Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.

6. Propterea commonefacio to, ut exsuscites donum Dei, quod in to est, per impositionem manuum mearum

7. For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

7. Non enim dedit nobis Deus spiritum timiditatis, sed pontenia et dilectionis et sobrietatis.

8. Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God;

8. Non ergo to pudeat testimonii Domini nostri, neque mei, qui sum vinctus ipsius; sed esto particeps aflictionum Evangelii, secundum potentiam Dei,

9. Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,

9. Qui nos servavit ac vocavit vocatione sancta; non secundum opera nostra, sed secundum propositum suum et gratiam, quae data fuit nobis in Christo Iesu ante tempora saecularia

10. But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:

10. Revelata autem nunc fuit per apparitionem Servatoris nostri Iesu Christi, qui mortem quidem abolevit, illuminavit autem vitam et immortalitatem per Evangelium

11. Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.

11. In quod positus sum ego praeco et apostolus et Doctor Gentium,

12. For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.

12. Quam etiam ob causam haec patior, sed non pudefio; novi enim, cui crediderim, et persuasus sum quod potens sit, depositum meum servare in diem illum.

6 For which cause I advise thee The more abundantly that Timothy had received the grace of God, the more attentive (the Apostle intimates) he ought to be in making progress from day to day. It deserves notice that the words “for which cause” introduce this advice as a conclusion from what has been already said.

To stir up the gift of God. This exhortation is highly necessary; for it usually happens, and may be said to be natural, that the excellence of gifts produces carelessness, which is also accompanied by sloth; and Satan continually labors to extinguish all that is of God in us. We ought, therefore, on the other hand, to strive to bring to perfection everything that is good in us, and to kindle what is languid; for the metaphor, which Paul employs, is taken from a fire which was feeble, or that was in course of being gradually extinguished, if strength and flame were not added, by blowing upon it and by supplying new fuel. Let us therefore remember that we ought to apply to use the gifts of God, lest, being unemployed and concealed, they gather rust. Let us also remember that we should diligently profit by them, lest they be extinguished by our slothfulness.

Which is in thee by the laying on of my hands There can be no doubt that Timothy was invited by the general voice of the Church, and was not elected by the private wish of Paul alone; but there is no absurdity in saying, that Paul ascribes the election to himself personally, because he was the chief actor in it. Yet here he speaks of ordination, that is, of the solemn act of conferring the office of the ministry, and not of election. Besides, it is not perfectly clear whether it was the custom, when any minister was to be set apart, that all laid their hands on his head, or that one only did so, in the room and name of all. I am more inclined to the conjecture, that it was only one person who laid on his hands.

So far as relates to the ceremony, the apostles borrowed it from an ancient custom of their nation; or rather, in consequence of its being in use, they retained it; for this is a part of that decent and orderly procedure which Paul elsewhere recommends. (1 Corinthians 14:40.) Yet it may be doubted if that “laying on of hands” which is now mentioned refers to ordination; because, at that time, the graces of the Spirit, of which he speaks in the 12th chapter of the Epistle to the Romans (Romans 12), and in the 13th of the First Epistle to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 13), were bestowed on many others who were not appointed to be pastors. But, for my own part, I think that it may be easily inferred from the former Epistle, that Paul here speaks of the office of a pastor, for this passage agrees with that,

“Do not neglect the grace which was given to thee with the laying on of the hands of the eldership.” (1 Timothy 4:14.)

That point being settled, it is asked, “Was grace given by the outward sign?” To this question I answer, whenever ministers were ordained, they were recommended to God by the prayers of the whole Church, and in this manner grace from God was obtained for them by prayer, and was not given to them by virtue of the sign, although the sign was not uselessly or unprofitably employed, but was a sure pledge of that grace which they received from God’s own hand. That ceremony was not a profane act, invented for the sole purpose of procuring credit in the eyes of men, but a lawful consecration before God, which is not performed but by the power of the Holy Spirit. Besides, Paul takes the sign for the whole matter or the whole transaction; for he declares that Timothy was endued with grace, when he was offered to God as a minister. Thus in this mode of expression there is a figure of speech, in which a part is taken for the whole.

But we are again met by another question; for if it was only at his ordination that Timothy obtained the grace necessary for discharging his office, of what nature was the election of a man not yet fit or qualified, but hitherto void and destitute of the gift of God? I answer, it was not then so given to him that he had it not before; for it is certain that he excelled both in doctrine and in other gifts before Paul ordained him to the ministry. But there is no inconsistency in saying, that, when God wished to make use of his services, and accordingly called him, he then fitted and enriched him still more with new gifts, or doubled those which he had previously bestowed. It does not therefore follow that Timothy had not formerly any gift, but it shone forth the more when the duty of teaching was laid upon him.

7 For God hath not given to us a spirit of cowardice It is a confirmation of what he had said immediately before; and thus he continues to urge Timothy to display the power of the gifts which he had received. He makes use of this argument, that God governs his ministers by the Spirit of power, which is the opposite of cowardice. Hence it follows, that they ought not to lie down through slothfulness, but, sustained by great confidence and cheerfulness, should exhibit and display, by visible effects, that power of the Spirit.

The following passage occurs in the Epistle to the Romans:

“For we have not received a spirit of bondage, to be again in terror; but we have received the spirit of adoption, by which we cry, Abba, Father.” (Romans 8:15.)

That passage is, at first sight, nearly similar to this; but yet the context shews that the meaning is different. There he treats of the confidence of adoption which all believers have; but here he speaks particularly about ministers, and exhorts them, in the person of Timothy, to arouse themselves actively to deeds of valor; because God does not wish them to perform their office in a cold and lifeless manner, but to press forward powerfully, relying on the efficacy of the Spirit.

But of power, and of love, and of soberness Hence we are taught, first, that not one of us possesses that firmness and unshaken constancy of the Spirit, which is requisite for fulfilling our ministry, until we are endued from heaven with a new power. And indeed the obstructions are so many and so great, that no courage of man will be able to overcome them. It is God, therefore, who endues us with “the spirit of power;” for they who, in other respects, give tokens of much strength, fall down in a moment, when they are not upheld by the power of the Divine Spirit.

Secondly, we gather from it, that they who have slavish meanness and cowardice, so that they do not venture to do anything in defense of the truth, when it is necessary, are not governed by that Spirit by whom the servants of Christ are guided. Hence it follows, that there are very few of those who bear the title of ministers, in the present day, who have the mark of sincerity impressed upon them; for, amongst a vast number, where do we find one who, relying on the power of the Spirit, boldly despises all the loftiness which exalts itself against Christ? Do not almost all seek their own interest and their leisure? Do they not sink down dumb as soon as any noise breaks out? The consequence is, that no majesty of God is seen in their ministry. The word Spirit is here employed figuratively, as in many other passages. 140140     “Le mot d’Esprit est yci pries pout les dons qui en procedent, suy. vent la figure nommee Metonymie.” — “The word Spirit is here taken for the gifts which proceed from him, agreeably to the figure called Metonymy.”

But why did he afterwards add love and soberness? In my opinion, it was for the purpose of distinguishing that power of the Spirit from the fury and rage of fanatics, who while they rush forward with reckless impulse, fiercely boast of having the Spirit of God. For that reason he expressly states that this powerful energy is moderated by “soberness and love,” that is, by a calm desire of edifying. Yet Paul does not deny that prophets and teachers were endued with the same Spirit before the publication of the gospel; but he declares that this grace ought now to be especially powerful and conspicuous under the reign of Christ.

8 Be not ashamed, therefore He said this, because the confession of the gospel was accounted infamous; and therefore he forbids that either ambition or the fear of disgrace shall prevent or retard him from the liberty of preaching the gospel. And he infers this from what has been already said; for he who is armed with the power of God will not tremble at the noise raised by the world, but will reckon it honorable that wicked men mark them with disgrace.

And justly does he call the gospel the testimony of our Lord; because, although he has no need of our assistance, yet he lays upon us this duty, that we shall give “testimony” to him for maintaining his glory. It is a great and distinguished honor which he confers upon us, and, indeed, upon all, (for there is no Christian that ought not to reckon himself a witness of Christ,) but chiefly pastors and teachers, as Christ said to the apostles, —

“Ye shall be witnesses to me,” (Acts 1:8.)

Accordingly, the more hateful the doctrine of the gospel is in the world, the more earnestly should they labor to confess it openly.

When he adds, nor of me; by this word he reminds Timothy not to refuse to be his companion, as in a cause common to both of them; for, when we begin to withdraw from the society of those who, for the name of Christ, suffer persecution, what else do we seek than that the gospel shall be free from all persecution? Now, though there were not wanting many wicked men who thus ridiculed Timothy, — “Do you not see what has befallen your master? Do you not know that the same reward awaits you also? Why do you press upon us a doctrine which you see is hissed at by the whole world?” — still he must have been cheered by this exhortation, — “You have no reason to be ashamed of me, in that which is not shameful, for I am Christ’s prisoner;” that is, “Not for any crime or evil deed, but for his name I am kept in prison.”

But be thou a partaker of the afflictions of the gospel He lays down a method by which that which he enjoins may be done; that is, if Timothy shall prepare himself for enduring the afflictions which are connected with the gospel. Whosoever shall revolt at and shrink from the cross will always be ashamed of the gospel. Not without good reason, therefore, does Paul, while he exhorts to boldness of confession, in order that he may not exhort in vain, speak to him also about bearing the cross. 141141     “He shews, in the first place, that the gospel cannot be without afflictions. Not that God does not call all men to unity in the faith, and the doctrine of the gospel is the message of reconciliation; but yet, on the one hand, there are those who are drawn by the power of his Holy Spirit, while unbelievers remain in their hardness; and, on the other hand, there is the fire that is kindled, as, when thunders are generated in the air, there must be great troubles, so is it when the gospel is preached. And now, if the gospel brings afflictions, and if our Lord Jesus Christ wishes that what he endured in his person shall be fulfilled in his members, and that every day he shall be, as it were, crucified, is it lawful for us to withdraw from that condition? Since, therefore, all our hope lies in the gospel, and since we ought to lean upon it, let us ponder what Paul says, that we must lend support to our brethren, when we see that they are assailed, that men trample them under their feet, spit in their face, and insult them, let us choose to be their companions for enduring the reproaches and base conduct of the world, rather than to be honored, to be in good reputation and credit, and yet to be estranged from those who suffer for the cause which we have in common with them.” — Fr. Ser.

He adds, according to the power of God; because, but for this, and if he did not support us, we should immediately sink under the load. And this clause contains both admonition and consolation. The admonition is, to turn away his eyes from his present weakness, and, relying on the assistance of God, to venture and undertake what is beyond his strength. The consolation is, that, if we endure anything on account of the gospel, God will come forth as our deliverer, that by his power, we may obtain the victory.

9 Who hath saved us From the greatness of the benefit he shews how much we owe to God; for the salvation which he has bestowed on us easily swallows up all the evils that must be endured in this world. The word saved, though it admit of a general signification, is here limited, by the context, to denote eternal salvation. So then he means that they who, having obtained through Christ not a fading or transitory, but an eternal salvation, shall spare their fleeting life or honor rather than acknowledge their Redeemer; are excessively ungrateful.

And hath called us with a holy calling He places the sealing of salvation 142142     “La certitude de salut.” — “The certainty of salvation.” in the calling; for, as the salvation of men was completed in the death of Christ, so God, by the gospel, makes us partakers of it. In order to place in a stronger light the value of this “calling,” he pronounces it to be holy. This ought to be carefully observed, because, as salvation must not be sought anywhere but in Christ; so, on the other hand, he would have died and risen again without any practical advantage, unless so far as he calls us to a participation of this grace. Thus, after having procured salvation for us, this second blessing remains to be bestowed, that, ingrafting us into his body, he may communicate his benefits to be enjoyed by us.

Not according to our works, but according to his purpose and grace He describes the source both of our calling and of the whole of our salvation. We had not works by which we could anticipate God; but the whole depends on his gracious purpose and election; for in the two words purpose and grace there is the figure of speech called Hypallage, 143143     A figure of speech, by which the parts of a proposition seem to be interchanged, ὑπαλλαγή compounded of ν̔πό and ἀλλάσσω `I change.’-Ed. and the latter must have the force of an objection, as if he had said, — “according to his gracious purpose.” Although Paul commonly employs the word “purpose” to denote the secret decree of God, the cause of which is in his own power, yet, for the sake of fuller explanation, he chose to add “grace,” that he might more clearly exclude all reference to works. And the very contrast proclaims loudly enough that there is no room for works where the grace of God reigns, especially when we are reminded of the election of God, by which he was beforehand with us, when we had not yet been born. On this subject I have spoken more fully in my exposition of the first chapter of the Epistle to the Ephesians; and at present I do nothing more than glance briefly at that which I have there treated more at large. 144144     See Calvin’s Commentaries on Galatians and Ephesians, pp. 197-201. --Ed.

Which was given to us From the order of time he argues, that, by free grace, salvation was given to us which we did not at all deserve; for, if God chose us before the creation of the world, he could not have regard to works, of which we had none, seeing that we did not then exist. As to the cavil of the sophists, that God was moved by the works which he foresaw, it does not need a long refutation. What kind of works would those have been if God had passed us by, seeing that the election itself is the source and beginning of all good works?

This giving of grace, which he mentions, is nothing else than predestination, by which we were adopted to be the sons of God. On this subject I wished to remind my readers, because God is frequently said actually to “give” his grace to us when we receive the effect of it. But here Paul sets before us what God purposed with himself from the beginning. He, therefore, gave that which, not induced by any merit, he appointed to those who were not yet born, and kept laid up in his treasures, until he made known by the fact itself that he purposeth nothing in vain.

Before eternal ages He employs this phrase in the same sense in which he elsewhere speaks of the uninterrupted succession of years from the foundation of the world. (Titus 1:2.) For that ingenious reasoning which Augustine conducts in many passages is totally different from Paul’s design. The meaning therefore is, — “Before times began to take their course from all past ages.” Besides, it is worthy of notice, that he places the foundation of salvation in Christ; for, apart from him, there is neither adoption nor salvation; as was indeed said in expounding the first chapter of the Epistle to the Ephesians.

10 But hath now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ Observe how appropriately he connects the faith which we have from the gospel within God’s secret election, and assigns to each of them its own place. God has now called us by the gospel, not because he has suddenly taken counsel about our salvation, but because he had so determined from all eternity. Christ hath now “appeared” 145145     τὢς ἐπιφανείας. “This Theodoret well explains by ἐνανθρωπήσεως, the expression being one especially used by the ancient writers, of the appearance of the gods on earth. So Joseph. Ant. 18. 3. 4, we have τὴν ἐπιφάνειαν ἐχδιηγεῖται τοῦ Ανούβιδος [she relates the appearing of (the god) Anubis.] ᾿Επιφάνεια here denotes Christ’s first appearance in the flesh though elsewhere the term always means his second appearance to judge the world.” --Bloomfield. for our salvation, not because the power of saving has been recently bestowed on him, but because this grace was laid up in him for us before the creation of the world. The knowledge of those things is revealed to us by faith; and so the Apostle judiciously connects the gospel with the most ancient promises of God, that novelty may not render it contemptible.

But it is asked; “Were the fathers under the Law ignorant of this grace?” for if it was not revealed but by the coming of Christ, it follows that, before that time, it was concealed. I reply, Paul speaks of the full exhibition of the thing itself on which depended also the faith of the fathers, so that this takes nothing from them. The reason why Abel, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, and all believers, obtained the same faith with us, was, that they placed their confidence in this “appearance.” Thus, when he says that “grace hath been revealed to us by the appearing of Christ,” he does not exclude from communion with that grace the fathers who are made partakers with us of this appearing by the same faith. Christ (Hebrews 13:8) was yesterday as he is today; but he did not manifest himself to us, by his death and resurrection, before the time appointed by the Father. To this, as the only pledge and accomplishment of our salvation, both our faith and that of the fathers look with one accord.

Who hath indeed destroyed death When he ascribes to the gospel the manifestation of life, he does not mean that we must begin with the word, leaving out of view the death and resurrection of Christ, (for the word, on the contrary, rests on the subject-matter,) but he only means that the fruit of this grace comes to men in no other way than by the gospel, in accordance with what is said,

“God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, and hath committed to us the ministry of reconciliation.”
(2 Corinthians 5:19.)

And hath brought to light life and immortality by the gospel It is a high and remarkable commendation of the gospel, that it “bringeth life to light.” To life he adds immortality; as if he had said, “a true and immortal life.” But, perhaps, it may be thought better, that by life we understand regeneration, that is followed by a blessed immortality which is also the object of hope. And, indeed, this is our “life,” not that which we have in common with brute beasts, but that which consists in partaking of the image of God. But because in this world

“it doth not appear” (1 John 3:2)

what is the nature, or what is the value of that “life,” for the sake of more full expression he has most properly added, “immortality,” which is the revelation of that life which is now concealed.

11 To which I have been appointed Not without good reason does he so highly commend the gospel along with his apostleship. Satan labors, beyond all things else, to banish from our hearts, by every possible method, the faith of sound doctrine; and as it is not always easy for him to do this if he attack us in open war, he steals upon us by secret and indirect methods; for, in order to destroy the credibility of doctrine, he holds up to suspicion the calling of godly teachers. 146146     “Des Docteurs ou Pasteurs fideles.” — “Of faithful Teachers or Pastors.” Paul, therefore, having death before his eyes, and knowing well the ancient and ordinary snares of Satan, determined to assert not only the doctrine of the gospel in general, but his own calling. Both were necessary; for, although there be uttered long discourses concerning the dignity of the gospel, they will not be of much avail to us, unless we understand what is the gospel. Many will agree as to the general principle of the undoubted authority of the gospel, who afterwards will have nothing certain that they can follow. This is the reason why Paul expressly wishes to be acknowledged to be a faithful and lawful minister of that life-giving doctrine which he had mentioned.

A herald, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles For the reasons now stated, he adorns himself with various titles for expressing one and the same thing. He calls himself a herald, whose duty it is, to publish the commands of princes and magistrates. The word apostle is here used in its ordinary and restricted meaning. Moreover, because there is a natural relation between a teacher and his disciples, he takes to himself also this third name, that they who learn from him may know that they have a master who has been appointed to them by God. And to whom does he declare that he was appointed? To the Gentiles; for the main hinge of the controversy was about them, because the Jews denied that the promises of life belonged to any others than to the fleshly children of Abraham. In order, therefore, that the salvation of the Gentiles may not be called in question, he affirms that to them he has been especially sent by God.

12 For which cause also I suffer these things It is well known that the rage of the Jews was kindled against Paul, for this reason more than any other, that he made the gospel common to the Gentiles. Yet the phrase for which cause relates to the whole verse, and therefore must not be limited to the last clause about “the Gentiles.”

But I am not ashamed That the prison in which he was bound might not in any degree lessen his authority, he contends, on the contrary, by two arguments. First, he shows that the cause, far from being disgraceful, was even honorable to him; for he was a prisoner, not on account of any evil deed, but because he obeyed God who called him. It is an inconceivable consolation, when we are able to bring a good conscience in opposition to the unjust judgments of men. Secondly, from the hope of a prosperous issue he argues that there is nothing disgraceful in his imprisonment. He who shall avail himself of this defense will be able to overcome any temptations, however great they may be. And when he says, that he “is not ashamed,” he stimulates others, by his example, to have the same courage.

For I know whom I have believed This is the only place of refuge, to which all believers ought to resort, whenever the world reckons them to be condemned and ruined men; namely, to reckon it enough that God approves of them; for what would be the result, if they depended on men? And hence we ought to infer how widely faith differs from opinion; because, when Paul says, “I know whom I have believed,” he means that it is not enough if you believe, unless you have the testimony of God, and unless you have full certainty of it. Faith, therefore, neither leans on the authority of men, nor rests on God, in such a manner as to hesitate, but must be joined with knowledge; otherwise it would not be sufficiently strong against the innumerable assaults of Satan. He who with Paul enjoys this knowledge, will know, by experience, that, on good grounds, our faith is called

“the victory that overcometh the world,” (1 John 5:4)

and that on good grounds, it was said by Christ,

“The gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
(Matthew 16:18.)

Amidst every storm and tempest, that man will enjoy undisturbed repose, who has a settled conviction that God,

“who cannot lie,” (Titus 1:2)

or deceive, hath spoken, and will undoubtedly perform what he hath promised. On the other hand, he who has not this truth sealed on his heart, will be continually shaken hither and thither like a reed.

This passage is highly worthy of attention; because it expresses admirably the power of faith, when it shows that, even in desperate affairs, we ought to give to God such glory as not to doubt that he will be true and faithful; and when it likewise shows that we ought to rely on the word as fully as if God had manifested himself to us from heaven; for he who has not this conviction understands nothing. Let us always remember that Paul does not pursue philosophical speculations in the shade, but, having the reality before his eyes, solemnly declares, how highly valuable is a confident hope of eternal life.

And am persuaded that he is able Because the power and greatness of dangers often fill us with dismay, or at least tempt our hearts to distrust, for this reason we must defend ourselves with this shield, that there is sufficient protection in the power of God. In like manner Christ, when he bids us cherish confident hope, employs this argument,

“The Father, who gave you to me, is greater than all,”
(John 10:29)

by which he means, that we are out of danger, seeing that the Lord, who hath taken us under his protection, is abundantly powerful to put down all opposition. True, Satan does not venture to suggest this thought in a direct form, that God cannot fulfill, or is prevented from fulfilling, what he has promised, (for our senses are shocked by so gross a blasphemy against God,) but, by preoccupying our eyes and understandings, he takes away from us all sense of the power of God. The heart must therefore be well purified, in order that it may not only taste that power, but may retain the taste of it amidst temptations of every kind.

Now, whenever Paul speaks of the power of God, understand by it what may be called his actual or (ἐνεργουμένμν) “effectual” power, as he calls it elsewhere. (Colossians 1:29) Faith always connects the power of God with the word, which it does not imagine to be at a distance, but, having inwardly conceived it, possesses and retains it. Thus it is said of Abraham:

“He did not hesitate or dispute, but gave glory to God, being fully convinced that what he had promised he was able also to perform,” (Romans 4:20,21.)

What I have intrusted to him Observe that he employs this phrase to denote eternal life; for hence we conclude, that our salvation is in the hand of God, in the same manner as there are in the hand of a depository those things which we deliver to him to keep, relying on his fidelity. If our salvation depended on ourselves, 147147     “Si nostre salut dependoit de nous, et qu’il fust en nostre garde.” — “If our salvation depended on us, and were under our protection.” to how many dangers would it be continually exposed? But now it is well that, having been committed to such a guardian, it is out of all danger.


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