Monday, June 13, 2016

What happens to the plane will also happen to you

Some notes on 2 Timothy.

1. The Christian life is union with Christ.
In Paul's letter to Timothy, his parting word to a junior leader he says that the Christian life is in Christ. There is
  • 1v1 the promise of life in Christ Jesus
  • 1v9 grace in Christ Jesus
  • 1v13 faith and love in Christ Jesus
  • 2v1 grace in Christ Jesus
  • 2v10 salvation in Christ Jesus
  • 3v12 godly life in Christ Jesus
  • 3v15 salvation through faith in Christ Jesus
The Christian life is outside me - in Christ. It's not about searching for the hero inside yourself - we look to the hero outside of us. I'm not the hero, Jesus is.

2. The Christian life means Christ in me
When Paul reflects on Timothy's family he sees faith that has lived in his grandmother, mother and now lives in him. It's a curious idea - indwelling faith? (1v5)

He then speaks on the power, love, self-discipline (1v7) that Timothy has by the gift of the Spirit God gave him (1v7). This is in stark contrast to the fools of chapter 3, who have "a form of godliness but deny its power" (3v5). (Folly and wisdom is a massive theme in this letter - but that's for another post.)

The Christian life isn't about adopting a pattern of life, a mere outwardness. Christ is given to the believer by the Spirit who lives in us and brings about a change of heart - new love (more in chapter 3) and a new pattern of life (chapter 2). It's not about what I do - it's Christ in me.

3. Indwelt/indwellers are called to be suffering heralds of the indwelt-indwelling God.
When you indwell Christ and he indwells you then... join in suffering for the gospel (1v8). Suffering (1v12) that Paul experiences as a herald of the gospel to the Gentiles (1v11), and which is Timothy's if he too will be unashamed of the gospel.

[KJV says that Paul preaches to the Gentiles, as does 4v17, but the NIV and ESV omit the word Gentiles/ethnos from 1v11... textual variant in Greek manuscripts, though I'm not sure it changes any meaning.]

This gospel is the one that concerns God saving us, not by anything we do but because of his purpose and grace, grace given in Christ before time - and then revealed in time by the death-destroying incarnation and crucifixion of Christ.

The Christian life is one of heralding Christ (1v11, 4v2), passing on the gospel (2v2) from the Scriptures (3v15) - a spreader of wisdom because we have first found wisdom in Christ and begun to be enwisened by him. Throughout the letter Paul associates heralding Christ with suffering (1v8, 1v12), suffering is the pattern of the "in Christ" life (chapter 2), a mark of the "in Christ" life (chapter 3), and the unavoidable path of life "in Christ" (chapter 4 - where Paul sees Psalm 22 as not just about the Christ but typical of the Christian life too).

Life in Christ is like the life of Christ.
2v11-13 Dying now, then when he returns living;
enduring suffering now, then when he returns reigning.

Image - Creative Commons - Jamie Golombek

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