Aug 27

Marching Orders

Todd Pruitt |2 Timothy 1:1-14

Second Timothy is among Paul’s most “personal” letters. It was written, after all, to his “beloved child” in the faith (vs. 2). And though Timothy did not require it, Paul still included a formal introduction by identifying himself as “an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God” (vs. 1). Certainly, Timothy already knew this. But it is likely that Paul included this detail because he expected this letter to be read widely among the churches. Certainly this was God’s intention as he has sovereignly ensured that it be preserved as holy Scripture to be read, believed, and obeyed by the church through every generation. These are the words of an Apostle, an emissary of Jesus Christ; words to be held in the same honor as those of our Lord. As such, Paul’s words in this opening section may be rightly considered marching orders for the church to this very day.

This is likely Paul’s final letter. It is the final letter from Paul that God preserved for the church. He wrote it during his final imprisonment in Rome. This is not the more manageable house arrest he had experienced while writing Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians. Now Paul is held in what was likely a dark and dank underground cell. He can sense that this time he will not be delivered from the sword. And so for his apprentice he gathers up final words of wisdom and instruction for the challenging days ahead as the church will be set upon by persecutors from without and false teachers from within.

Paul calls the church to not be ashamed of the gospel, a perennial challenge. Rather, we are to follow and guard the body of sound doctrine handed down from Jesus and administered through the Apostles. The doctrine entrusted to the church is something, Paul tells us, to be followed. We don’t merely accept as factual our doctrinal heritage. We joyfully follow its imperatives. Not only that, because it is a precious treasure, we guard the deposit of truth passed down to us. And we do all of this “by the Holy Spirit” (vs. 14). In every age, these are the marching orders for the church: to not be ashamed of the gospel of Jesus and to follow and guard that precious body of doctrine entrusted to us by our Lord.