Guard the Good Deposit
2 Timothy 1:8 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, 9 who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, 10 but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, 11 to which I was appointed a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. 12 For this reason 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 what I have committed to Him until that Day. 13 Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. 14 That good thing which was committed to you, keep by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us. (NKJV)
Here, the Apostle Paul is writing his second letter to Timothy. Paul had been under house arrest in Rome from AD 60-62, when he wrote the Prison Epistles of Ephesians, Colossians, Philemon, and Philippians, with Timothy as his amanuensis.
He was a free man from AD 62-64, when he wrote two of the three Pastoral Epistles of 1 Timothy and Titus. It is believed that Luke was Paul’s amanuensis for the Pastoral Epistles.
The reasons are three-fold. Luke ended his writing of the Book of Acts with Paul’s release from house arrest, Paul mentions that Luke is the only one with him during the writing of 2 Timothy (2 Timothy 4:11), and Timothy had been dispatched to Ephesus.
Paul was again arrested, probably AD late 64-early 65, after Rome burned on AD July 18, 64, an event for which Nero blamed Christians, for political reasons. Paul was held at Mamertime Prison in Rome, basically a holding tank for prisoners awaiting execution.
The Pastoral Epistle 2 Timothy was likely written from this prison in A.D. late 65-early 66 since Paul urges Timothy to arrive prior to the winter with Paul’s writing materials (2 Timothy 4:21).
The Book of Hebrews refers to Timothy being released from prison (Hebrews 13:23), it is likely that Timothy was imprisoned for a short time after bringing Paul’s writing materials to Rome, but was released prior to Paul’s execution.
It is my opinion that Paul also wrote the Book of Hebrews, in collaboration with Luke. The horrid conditions in Mamertime Prison likely did not permit Paul to write this lengthy letter on his own.
The Book of Hebrews was probably Paul’s last writing. We know that Hebrews was written in the 60’s A.D. and prior to the destruction of the temple in 70 A.D. Paul and Luke likely wrote it A.D. late 66-early 67, just prior to his beheading, as a last summary to his people, the Hebrews.
Paul was beheaded by Nero on June 29, 67 according to The People’s Chronology. The date is uncertain, but this date appears to be as good as any.
For sure, Paul was executed before Nero’s suicide on June 8, 68. We know that Nero was still alive when Paul was executed.
At the time of this writing, 2 Timothy, Timothy is working with the house churches of Ephesus, and is still contending with false teaching in the church. A purpose of this letter is to call Timothy back to Paul’s side for his final days.
In this passage, Paul begins by writing “Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner” (v. 8a)). Paul implores Timothy not to be ashamed of testifying about the Lord, nor of Paul’s imprisonment.
Paul continues by writing “but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel” (v. 8b). Instead of being ashamed, Paul calls for Timothy to join in the suffering for the gospel. We see evidence that Timothy heeded this call when Paul writes later that “Timothy has been released” (Hebrews 13:23), likely from prison in Rome.
Paul continues with “according to the power of God” (v. 8c). Timothy can only persevere in the Gospel through the power of God.
Next, Paul writes “who has saved us and called us with a holy calling” (v. 9a). It is only though the power of God that we are saved and called to ministry.
Paul continues “not according to our works” (v. 9b). This is not something we can do ourselves, in our own strength.
Paul writes “but according to His own purpose and grace” (v. 9c). It is only by God’s purpose and grace that we are saved and called to the ministry.
Paul continues “which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began” (v. 9d). The fact that we were saved and called to the ministry was decided before the beginning of time.
It is no accident when people enter the ministry. God ordained it even before we were born. It is all according to His divine plan.
Next, Paul writes “but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ” (v. 10a). This “divine plan” was revealed by the coming of Jesus Christ. It is revealed through the Gospel.
Paul continues “who has abolished death (v. 10b). Jesus “destroyed” the sting of death by His death and resurrection, which is a pattern for our own death and resurrection.
Paul writes “and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (v. 10c). Jesus brought “light” to the whole subject of “life and immortality” through the Gospel.
Prior to his coming, the Jewish people of the Old Testament did not know of life and immortality. They only knew that at death they would go to a place called Sheol, a resting place of souls.
They were not sure of Sheol, that it consisted of two places, Heaven for believers and Hades for unbelievers. There live the souls of the dead, not yet in their final bodies.
Next, Paul writes “to which I was appointed a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles 12 For this reason I also suffer these things” (vv. 11-12a). Paul explains to Timothy that he is suffering in prison because he was appointed a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the Gospel by Our Lord.
Paul continues by writing “nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day” (v. 12b). He is not “ashamed” of his imprisonment because he is certain of Christ and His ability to “keep” what Paul has “committed to Him” (v. 12b).
Paul has committed his life, his salvation, and his service of spreading the Gospel. Paul was secure in the knowledge that the Lord would guard each of his contributions until the Lord returns.
Paul then completes this passage by returning to Timothy’s current plight of having to deal with false teaching in the church at Ephesus. He writes “Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me” (v. 13a). He instructs him to keep to the “pattern” that Paul has set through his sound teaching, the doctrine of the Gospel.
He continues “in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus” (v. 13b). Timothy is to keep to the doctrine of the Gospel through faith and love in Christ Jesus.
The false teachers were teaching a different gospel, one that would benefit their own selfish desires. They had departed from the faith, and the love, of Jesus.
Paul continues “That good thing which was committed to you” (v. 14a). Paul implores Timothy to “keep”, or guard, the good “thing”, or deposit, from God, the Gospel, that has been committed to him. Timothy is to guard the teachings of Christ against the claims of the false teachers.
Paul continues “keep by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us” (v. 14b). Timothy is able to guard the good deposit through the power of the Holy Spirit, who lives in every Christian.
The Holy Spirit is the power in every Christian that helps us to be obedient to the Lord and His calling upon our lives. Jesus said “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 2:8).
This happened on the day of Pentecost. The Holy Spirit came on them and the timid, frightened, disciples, all of a sudden, became bold and strong disciples for Christ.
They changed the world forever. They gave us the New Testament, the Gospel, and Christianity.
This is the power that resides in every Christian. It is up to us to appropriate it in our lives. It is up to us to guard the Gospel, to guard the good deposit.
Online Bible Commentary