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2 Timothy 1:1-8 Study Guide: Faithful to the Gospel

Community Group Study Guide — Faithful to the Gospel
2 Timothy 1:1-8

Study Information:
Second Timothy was likely the last letter Paul wrote before his execution. Paul seemed to be aware of this because of places like 2 Timothy 4:6-8 where he wrote about his life being poured out as a drink offering and how he looked back and knew he had finished the race and kept the faith. What parting words does someone like Paul have for a person he spiritually fathered and mentored like Timothy? 

There are many themes in this letter, the most prominent being the necessity of guarding the gospel, how to suffer well, the shifting-ness of the times and culture and passing on the good news of Jesus. We will touch on these themes over the various study guides as we explore what it means to have a steadfast faith in a shifting world; with our focus in this study guide on the opening words of Paul and what faithfulness in the gospel looks like.

2 Timothy 1:1-5
Timothy was converted sometime during or after Paul’s first missionary journey in Lystra. We do not know if Paul was aware of Timothy during the first journey or not, but time passed and on his second missionary journey Paul came back to Lystra and met Timothy there and he was called a disciple (Acts 16:1). It is likely that Timothy was = young when he first heard the gospel of Jesus and then his later teens during the second missionary trip of Paul, and likely around his early 30s during the time of this letter. Timothy’s faith developed from instruction that came from his mother and grandmother since the last time Paul was there. This should encourage mothers and grandmothers in the faith and remind us of the power of that loving witness to J?Jesus. Timothy’s own dad was not a believer to our knowledge, but Paul was a spiritual father and filled those shoes as best he could (2 Timothy 1:2, 5). These gospel focused relationships become a gift from God and one that should not be neglected if you too have been similarly blessed with loving Christian parents and mentors. The spiritual friendship between Paul and Timothy was filled with prayer and a source of joy for both of them. It is difficult to go through many of the things discussed in this letter like being abandoned, suffering and persecution without having committed gospel relationships (2 Timothy 1:15 for example). Committed relationships in the Lord help us to remain faithful to the gospel, which is needed because suffering is a normal part of every Christian’s life. 

2 Timothy 1:4, 7-8
This letter is filled with encouragement to continue on in the face of suffering. Paul referred back to his own suffering often including things like being abandoned, imprisoned and direct physical persecution including in places like Timothy’s own home town of Lystra. Likely Timothy was no stranger to suffering and even saw some of it take place in Paul’s life (2 Timothy 3:11). Being faithful to the gospel means a commitment to embrace suffering since many will oppose the message of Jesus and a life faithful to the ways of God. It is likely that Timothy was feeling that pressure because of Paul’s charge to Timothy to not give over to a spirit of timidity. The term for timidity here does not refer to a general sense of fear, rather it is a charge to not be a coward. We do not know the specific details, but Paul must have been concerned that Timothy was at risk of shrinking back in the face of opposition despite his genuine and sincere faith. This could be because Paul has had others close to him give into timidity, indeed 2 Timothy has quite a few people called out by name for abandoning Paul and/or the faith. Likewise this concern for Timothy to take courage could have come because of the intense suffering Paul was facing including his own pending execution, specifically since Paul called Timothy to not be ashamed about the testimony of Jesus or Paul’s own imprisonment (2 Tim 1:8). Rather, we are to “share in suffering” because that is part of what it means to be follow Christ.

2 Timothy 1:7-8
Courage is the ability to stand firm in the face of opposition and courage comes from God. Notice the gifts given from God to Timothy. First, there was a special gift given by the laying on of hands (2 Tim 1:6). That language is commissioning language, likely indicating some sort of special calling as a minister or pastor. This means that there was a communal recognition of Timothy’s role and calling and Paul is charging him to fan that into flame; to lean into the opposition instead of shying away and having the fire go out. Second, for all believers following Jesus brings a spirit of love, power and self-control. These are general blessings for any who follow Christ through the Holy Spirit. The Lord equips us and helps us to pursue a faithful life in Christ. Power being the equipping and strength we have to serve God, love that points us towards selflessness and self-control so that we are not given into sin or cowardice. It is easy to give in to public opinion or shrink back in the face of opposition, trust God to give you the courage to stand. 

2 Timothy 1:8
Rather than being ashamed of the gospel, Timothy was to face suffering and fight timidity through the power of God. We will explore that more in our next study guide, but the foundation for this power is God’s plan of salvation and his work to strengthen us in his grace. This is similar to Paul’s encouragement to the Roman church to not be ashamed of the gospel because it is the power of God for salvation (Romans 1:16). The danger of shame in the book of Romans came from how the gospel went to the Jews AND the Greeks. Which was a huge challenge in the early church to accept, that the salvation of God went out from the promised people of God to all Nations. Paul’s command to Timothy differs a bit because it is rooted in the challenge of suffering. In this command to share in suffering by the power of God is a recognition that God strengthens us during those seasons and that we’re not abandoned. Facing suffering and persecution and not giving its cowardice requires trust on our part. Specifically trust that God’s opinion matters more than the world and that despite what happens to use that God will take care of us. 

We are often unaware of the power of God available in our lives. This power is not to accomplish things for our own glory rather it is power to remain faithful as God in the face of difficult circumstances and suffering. It takes trust, but God is never lacking in his ability and in his love to hold us fast to the faith. 

At your community group:

Take 15-20 minutes to share about how God has been at work in your life, prayer concerns and pray for one another.

How did God speak to you through the scripture and the sermon this week? 

Discussion Questions:
Read 2 Timothy 1:1-8

What are some reasons Paul would remind Timothy of all the relationships he’s had that built up his faith? 

Compare a spirit of timidity vs a spirit of power, love and self control. What does it look like to give into timidity compared to walking with those other virtues?

What of kind of suffering was Paul facing and how did he express concern for Timothy?

Out of all of these themes, what helps you to remain faithful to the gospel? Is there a specific area you want to grow in during this study?