Online Bible Commentary
Guard the Good Deposit
2 Timothy 1:8 So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, 9 who has saved us and called us to a holy life--not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, 10 but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. 11 And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. 12 That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day. 13 What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. 14 Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you--guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us. (NIV)
The Apostle Paul is writing to Timothy from his prison cell in Rome. This is the fall of 67 A.D. and Paul is close to the end of his ministry, and his life. He was beheaded by Nero, likely in the first five months of 68 A.D. He likely is thinking that his ministry may be coming to an end. This is his last letter to the Gentiles, to whom the Lord had called him to minister. He only has left a letter to his own people, the Hebrews, a last appeal to his forefathers, his family, to recognize Jesus as their long awaited Messiah.
In this passage, Paul is giving instructions to his dear “son” Timothy. Paul thought of Timothy as a son. He was not his biological son as Paul never married or had children. His instructions are as one would instruct a son who would be continuing his dad’s business. Paul implores Timothy not to be ashamed of testifying about the Lord, taking over his business, nor of Paul’s imprisonment (v.8a). Instead, he calls for him to join in the “suffering for the gospel” (v. 8b). 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.
Timothy can only persevere in Paul’s “business” through the “power of God” (v. 8c). It is only though the power of God that we are saved and called to ministry (v.9a). This is not something we can do ourselves (v. 9b). It is only by God’s purpose and grace, and it was decided before the beginning of time (v. 9c). 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.
This purpose and grace was revealed by the coming of Jesus Christ (v. 10a). Jesus “destroyed” the sting of death (v. 10b) by His death and resurrection, which is a pattern for our own. He brought “light” to the whole subject of “life and immortality” through the Gospel (v. 10c). 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.
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 (vv. 11-12a). He is not “ashamed” of his imprisonment because he is certain of “Christ” and His ability to “guard” what Paul has “entrusted to Him” (v. 12b). Paul has entrusted 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 and rewards the saints.
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 instructs him to keep to the “pattern” Paul has set through his “sound teaching” (v. 13a). He is to do this through “faith and love in Christ Jesus” (v. 13b). 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 implores Timothy to “guard the good deposit”, the Gospel, that has been entrusted to him (v. 14a). He is to guard the teachings of Christ against the claims of the false teachers. He is able to do this through the power of the Holy Spirit, who lives in every Christian (v. 14b).
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”.