Online Bible Commentary
Entrust and Endure
2 Timothy 2:1 You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others. 3 Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs--he wants to please his commanding officer. 5 Similarly, if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor's crown unless he competes 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. (NIV)
The Apostle Paul is writing this letter to Timothy, who is helping at the church in Ephesus. The church, along with churches throughout Asia, is beset with false teaching. This is the second letter Paul has written Timothy in an effort to remedy the false teaching. Paul, at this point, has decided to replace Timothy. He wants Timothy to join him in Rome, where Paul is imprisoned for the second time. Paul has just written of the loyalty of Onesiphorus, and begins this passage with the words “you then” (v. 1a) as a reference to Timothy of how he can continue this loyalty.
Timothy is to “be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” (v. 1b). Timothy is to be strengthened for the tasks that Paul has for him. He is to allow the grace, the strength, of Jesus Christ to help him achieve two tasks, through the power of the Holy Spirit. The two tasks are to “entrust” (v.2) and to “endure” (v. 3).
Timothy is to ”entrust” the Gospel (v. 2a), what has previously been referred to as “the good deposit” (2 Timothy 1:14). He is to hand over the teachings of Paul “to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others” (v. 2b). This is in preparation for Timothy’s return to Paul’s side. These men who are entrusted with the Gospel, first of all, must be “reliable”. The word translated “reliable” is the Greek word “pistos” which means “faithful”. It is a variant of “pistis” which means “faith”. These should be men of faith, strong in their belief and obedience to the Gospel. They should also be “qualified “, which is a reference to Paul’s qualifications of overseers in the previous letter (1Timothy 3). These men are to be qualified to be pastors, teachers, and leaders.
The second task for Timothy is to “endure” (v.3a). He is to endure “hardship”, suffering, just as Paul and the others had endured. Paul recognized that anyone who goes against the ways of the world will be persecuted. These false teachers had given into the culture, just as false teachers of today. Teaching the true Gospel is often not popular in the culture. So Paul wanted Timothy to prepare for the suffering ahead. He gave Timothy three illustrations of suffering in verses 4, 5, and 6.
The first illustration of suffering is that of a “soldier” (v. 3b-4). Part of a soldier’s duty is to suffer (v. 3b). This is partly the purpose of training, boot camp, to prepare the soldier for suffering. A soldier is also totally focused on his job, his duty to his commanding officer. He is not to be sidetracked by the details of everyday living, “civilian affairs” (v. 4a). His reward is to “please his commanding officer” (v. 4b).
The second illustration Paul used for suffering is “an athlete” (v. 5a). The athlete must strain, pushing himself to his limits, in order to compete. Competing “according to the rules” (v. 5c) requires suffering. Shortcuts are always easier, but they are not within the rules of competition. His reward is to win the “victor’s crown” (v. 5b).
The third illustration is that of the “hardworking farmer” (v. 6a). The farmer must put in long, hard days in the field. He, like the soldier and athlete, must be totally devoted to his work. “His reward, for his suffering, is to be the first to receive a share of the crops” (v. 6b).
Note that all three illustrations show that there is a reward for suffering. When we suffer for Christ we receive the same rewards. We “please God”, we win the “crown of righteousness”, and we finish “first” , reaping rewards in Heaven.
Paul completes this passage by encouraging Timothy to “reflect” (v. 7a) on these words. He is to weigh them, to dwell on them. These words also will be reinforced by the Lord, as he gives us His “insights” (v. 7b).
Christians, in the world today, are also called to suffer for the Gospel. The world is so influenced by Satan that Christians seem to be on the wrong side of most every issue. We are called to “be strong” by the grace of Jesus. We are called to “entrust” and “endure”. We are to “entrust” the Gospel to our hearts, living each day in obedience to our Lord and Savior. We are called to “endure” suffering for the sake of Christ, as He did on the cross for us. This is our calling, a calling that will please God, bringing us the crown of righteousness and rewards in Heaven.