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From the editor: Instruction for the Man of God (2 Tim 3.17)

J Grant

The Apostle Paul knew that his time of serving the Lord was shortly to come to an end (4.6). As a consequence there is, in his second epistle, the stamp of urgency upon every word that he penned. His great desire was to see Timothy before his service for the Lord on earth was concluded (4.9), but we do not know if that wish was fulfilled. Throughout the epistle there are recurring themes of encouragement and instruction and it is to some of these that we turn our attention.

Early in his letter Paul exhorts Timothy to "stir up [to kindle afresh, or keep in full flame] the gift of God, which is in thee" (1.6). He remembered that Timothy was a servant who showed his emotions; he remembered his tears, probably at their last parting, or perhaps it was his parting from Timothy at Ephesus (Acts 20.37). We do not know the nature of Timothy's gift, but we do know that it was pastoral and involved teaching (1 Tim 4.12; 2 Tim 2.2,14,25).

The responsibility of Timothy was to keep the gift active and, as noted above, to keep it in full flame. The appeal goes out today to younger brethren who have been gifted to preach the gospel, to teach, and to lead the saints. Such gifts have to be developed and keeping them in "full flame" will result in that development which is so necessary. But older gifted brethren must ensure that they do not become weary and that it is not only those who are younger who carry the flame brightly.

But, second, Timothy is exhorted to ensure that truth is committed to "faithful men" who know the truth and pass it on to others of their generation and to those who follow. Thus a full faith must be passed over to the next generation. The teaching that Timothy had heard from the lips of Paul was to be passed on to these "faithful men" who had to teach others also. Today the Word of God is often overlooked and the challenge is clear - what the Word of God teaches much be upheld and not be discounted to suit the whims of those who set aside Scripture.

Third, the exhortation at the end of ch.3 is based on the truth that "all Scripture is given by inspiration of God" (3.16) and is necessary for doctrine, reproof and correction. The purpose is that "the man of God" (v.17) may be "perfect", that is, may be fully fitted out. Amongst other uses, this word was employed to describe a boat that had been fully fitted out for service. Only then is a vessel fit for use and is "throughly furnished", able to meet all the demands required of it. Let us ensure that a true knowledge of the Word of God is adequate for the work at hand.

In ch.4 there is a further appeal, this time to "make full proof of thy ministry" (v.5). The exhortation is otherwise stated, "fill up the full measure of thy ministry" (JND). The fourth counsel, therefore, is to have a full filling. Paul was "now ready to be offered" (v.6) or "already being poured out" (JND). What a challenge this is today! Paul had given himself over totally to the Word of God and had offered himself in that service alone. Total commitment to the Lord and His service was what gripped him and challenged him. For him nothing else was of worth or value.

The times in which we live have much in them to fill the minds and lives of Christians with the troubles, demands and entertainment of today. It is an age in which much can "fill us" and dominate our lives. The challenge is writ large from the pen of Paul. Centuries have passed but his fourfold instruction must still be considered so that we are fitted to serve the Lord with intelligence, care, and love for Him. It demands that following the Lord and serving Him has the principal claim on our lives. Other responsibilities have to be met, but be careful that they do not press so heavily that the service of the Lord takes second place. In the turmoil of society today do not lose sight of the goal such as was set before Timothy.


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