How has a dear friend who has endured a suffering similar to your own encouraged you? Doesn’t having a friend say, “I have been there too” make you feel not alone? When we see how another person endures suffering, we receive courage to persevere through our suffering.
Just as Paul endured suffering in his ministry, Paul encourages Timothy that he can endure the suffering that comes through the ministry of the gospel. Not wanting Timothy to be surprised or discouraged by suffering, Paul uses a couple of illustrations to encourage Timothy. Last week, Laura focused on the first one: enduring hardship as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. She reminded us that God wants us to guard against getting distracted, entangled, and overcome with everyday problems that we forgot to involve God in those problems. Our faith is not just a Sunday thing but designed to give us purpose, insight, and strength for our daily living.
5 Similarly, anyone who competes as an athlete does not receive the victor’s crown except by competing according to the rules. 6 The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops. 7 Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this.8 Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel, 9 for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God’s word is not chained. 10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.
Observation – what does the passage say?
- Comparison – Paul gives examples to stay strong in Christ: as an athlete (v. 5) and a hardworking farmer (v. 6).
- Cause and effect – Reflecting on what the Lord said will give Timothy insight. (v. 7).
- Paul exhorts Timothy to remember Jesus was raised from the dead and descended from David. This is the gospel (v. 8).
- Paul bears the suffering to the point of being chained like a criminal for the gospel (v. 9a).
- Though Paul is chained, the gospel is not chained (v. 9b).
- Paul endures suffering for those chosen ones so that they might receive salvation that is in Christ Jesus (v. 10).
Can you find a few other observations? Please consider sharing them in the comment section below as we always learn so much from one another.
Interpretation – what does the passage mean?
Following the first illustration discussed in the introduction, secondly Paul compares a Christian’s approach to enduring the trials and sufferings of life to competing as an athlete. In God’s gymnasium of life, the foundation of all our training is built on God’s rules, and the number one rule is love. To receive the victor’s crown, one must be trained in the ways of God- living by faith, pursuing righteousness and peace, and seeking to love God and His people. Paul’s third illustration in v. 6 of the “hardworking farmer” emphasizes the rigorous work and the importance of patience in one’s work. Just as a farmer must plant and water seeds, so must a Christian plant and nourish spiritual seeds. In v. 7 after reflecting on all these illustrations, Paul encourages Timothy to step back and reflect on these things and listen for the Lord to give insight into how these words apply to his life.
Continuing his exhortation to endure hardship, Paul encourages Timothy with the examples of Jesus (v. 8) and himself (v. 9-10). Meditating on Jesus’ suffering who is the ultimate example of suffering puts Timothy’s suffering in perspective. According to Dr. Constable’s commentary, Sonic Light, the use of the perfect tense of the participle for “raised” referring to Christ’s resurrection might proclaim His deity or might refer to the Lord’s resurrection power with Timothy. Secondly, the lineage from David speaks to Jesus fulfilling the messianic qualification and as a reminder of Jesus’ humanity. Instead of getting entangled and bogged down in the suffering, Paul wants to encourage Timothy to look back at the gospel and allow the gospel to give him perspective on his current suffering. Not to be discouraged by Paul’s imprisonment, Timothy needed to be reminded that the gospel is not imprisoned but is just as powerful as ever. Lastly, Paul encourages Timothy that he was content to endure anything for the elect that they might obtain salvation. Dr. Constable in his commentary, Sonic Light presents two views of the “elect” as those who have not believed but will or justified men. He concludes the best understanding of the “elect” is justified men, who have believed in Jesus. According to Dr. Constable’s view, salvation in v. 10 refers to the sanctification process of God’s work of salvation in the life of a believer over time as they persevere in the Christian life through suffering and trials.
Application – how does the meaning of the passage apply to me?
* Presently, I am recovering from a head injury, so this passage reminded me that God will use my suffering for good to encourage people who are struggling with a similar issue.
* Secondly, this passage helps me to put my suffering in perspective. If Christ suffered, then I will suffer to; for suffering is a normal part of the Christian life.
* Lastly, this past weekend, a friend who struggles with some similar pain encouraged me, and I was able to encourage her.
After sharing how God’s Word is impacting my heart, let me ask you:
- How has your suffering encouraged someone who is enduring similar suffering?
- What suffering is currently distracting and entangling you?
- How does God want to increase your endurance in preserving through suffering and trials?
- Paul believed that God was just as present in the bad times as He was in the good times. Do you believe that?
I would encourage you to pray specifically how you can encourage someone this week and look for the opportunity. So excited that you are studying II Timothy with us this summer, and we always love to hear what God is teaching you.
– Mary Carmen