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2 Timothy 1:8-14 Study Guide: Not Ashamed of the Gospel

Community Group Study Guide — Not Ashamed of the Gospel
2 Timothy 1:8-14

Study Information:
In light of his imprisonment and the persecution facing the church, Paul reminded Timothy of the gospel and the calling that he had as a preacher, teacher and Apostle. The temptation Timothy and other Christians faced at the time would be to shrink back in the face of suffering and Paul warned Timothy of that by using the word “ashamed.” In 2 Timothy 1:8 we’re told to not be ashamed of Jesus or the imprisonment of Paul and in 2 Timothy 1:12 Paul boldly proclaimed that he was not ashamed. In 2 Timothy 1:9-14 Paul focused in on not being ashamed of the testimony of Jesus and in our next study guide we will learn of a man named Onesiphorus who was not ashamed of Paul’s chains. 

How does one remain unashamed of the gospel in the face of suffering? By being firmly grounded in the gospel and God’s work of salvation (1:9-14) and through spiritual friendships grounded in the gospel (1:15-18 — next study guide’s focus!) 

The Gospel is the Power of God
2 Timothy 1:8-10
“Do not be ashamed of the testimony of Jesus, nor of me his prisoner.” Paul broke down this statement, first focusing on not being ashamed of the gospel and next by giving two examples one of someone being ashamed of his chains and another of someone who shared in his suffering (2 Tim 1:15-18, more on this in the next study guide). The testimony of Jesus that Paul wrote about focused in on God’s powerful work of salvation. 

First God saved us and called us to a holy calling (2 Tim 1:9). The gospel is not about how we get to God, but how God got to us to redeem us from sin to bring us back into fellowship and righteous living. Second this was not about our works or how we earned or deserved it (2 Tim 1:9). Paul said it was from God’s own purposes and by his grace which started before the foundation of the world, meaning before we could do anything good or bad. Third, Christ abolished death and brought life (2 Tim 1:10). The word for abolished means “destroyed/nullfied.” In Christ we are no longer held down by the power of death but have godly life available to us now and forever in Jesus Christ. 

There appeared to be temptation to compromise on this gospel truth because of the pressure they were receiving. Paul wrote this letter during the persecution under Emperor Nero who was the first Roman emperor to systematically persecute Christians beginning around 64 AD. Previous to this most persecution came from Jews, who saw Christians as heretics and apostates, Paul himself having been a persecutor before becoming a Christian. Yet the pressure from the Roman emperor would have been immense and the temptation to walk away from Chris would be strong, so Paul reminded Timothy and his readers of all the ways that God had blessed them in Christ.

Paul Was a Preacher of the Gospel
2 Timothy 1:11-12
Paul had a calling in the gospel, namely as a preacher, teacher and Apostle and with that came the reality of suffering. All Christians are going to suffer and face persecution but especially leaders. This suffering comes from the hatred of the world for Jesus, but on a positive note it is also used by God to fill up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions (Col 1:24). There was nothing inadequate or insufficient about what Jesus did on the cross for our salvation but Paul called it “filling up for what was lacking” because many people did not physically see Jesus suffer. When Paul or other Christians suffer for their faith they get to model Jesus to the watching world. Paul was able to endure this because he had his identity firmly grounded in the gospel. and was not ashamed because he “knows who he belonged to and whom he believed (2 Timothy 1:12).”

Guard the Deposit of the Gospel
2 Timothy 1:13-14
In response followers of Jesus are to be devoted to sound teaching and to guard the deposit entrusted to them. Some will drift away from the church and the faith because of a lack of devotion to sound teaching. Theological learning and knowing the story of the Bible have practical value for helping us to walk in holiness, depth in our relationship with God and to guard us from drifting during times of suffering. We are not alone in this, but have the Holy Spirit to empower us to guard the deposit of the gospel. 

How can we guard the good deposit of the gospel? Broadly speaking we can stand firm and not be ashamed by growing in our gospel knowledge (fighting doubt, learning about God and his ways) and our gospel relationships (refreshing others and sharing in suffering with them). Some practical ways to do this would be to make it a practice to be open and honest with our doubts and questions; when we feel like shrinking back we can tell someone and seek out prayer. We can also learn more about God and the gospel and build up a firm foundation in the gospel. Likewise, as we will learn in the next study guide we will focus on how we can refresh others who are suffering and hurting so we have relationships to carry us through the difficult times. 

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 1:8-14

Why would 1st century Christians be tempted to be ashamed of the testimony of Jesus or Paul being a prisoner? How does the word “ashamed” pop up in our text?

What key elements of the gospel does Paul detail out in 2 Timothy 1:9-10?

Why did Paul suffer according to this text? How did that suffering impact other Christians?

How can you guard the deposit of the gospel in your life?