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2 Timothy 2:8-13 Study Guide: Hope in the Hardship

Community Group Study Guide — Hope in the Hardship
2 Timothy 2:8-13

Study Information:
One of the greatest challenges during a season of suffering is the mystery of it. It is easier to endure a difficult season if you know the purpose. Marathon training is hard, having healthier habits like working on eating better and getting more sleep require effort, medical treatments like surgery or rehabilitating from an injury can be painful…, but in each of those scenarios you have a goal in mind that you can focus on to help you endure. When it comes to suffering, many of us can struggle to understand the purpose. 2 Timothy was written while Paul was in prison awaiting execution because of his faith in Christ. We get a sense of Paul’s concern for Timothy’s faith and gospel courage with how he reassured Timothy, wrote to him to continue in what he had learned and called him to trust (2 Timothy 1:7, 3:10-15, 4:6-8). You can imagine how Timothy might be worried or concerned about what would happen next after his mentor and spiritual father, Paul, was executed. Would this movement of God end and what would happen to Timothy? In our passage Paul directed his readers to remember Jesus and to trust in God’s faithfulness, and by doing so he was able to give us some direction on how to suffer well in difficult seasons. 

Remember Jesus
2 Timothy 2:8-10

In 2 Timothy 2:1-7, Paul gave Timothy the charge to take what he had learned from Paul and pass it on to faithful men who will pass it on to others. The gospel message would go from the first generation to the next through this practice of evangelism and discipleship and this was particularly important because people in that first generation were dying off. What was Timothy to do in the face of such suffering and persecution? Remember Jesus. It was not as if Timothy forgot about Jesus, rather Paul directed Timothy to two specific aspects of the person and work of Jesus that would enable him to endure and remain faithful. 

First, remember Jesus risen from the dead. We are encouraged to see our suffering in light of the resurrection. The resurrection is a huge source of hope for the Christian because it means that our future is secure and that the pain and suffering we can experience in this world will not last. Jesus died for our sin and to defeat death once and for all so that we can experience the promise of new life with Christ in a New Creation. Paul wrote about this in 2 Timothy 4:6-8. While reflecting on his coming death, Paul wrote that he fought the good fight and finished the race and kept the faith and now looked forward to a crown of righteousness that awaited him in Christ. This is an important perspective shift; our suffering is real and challenging, but it is not forever. 

Second, remember Jesus the descendant of David. God made a promise to King David in 2 Samuel 7 that David would have a descendent rule and reign forever and Jesus was the fulfillment to that promise. This means that Jesus is the king even when we’re imprisoned for our faith. Suffering is not random or haphazard, God is ruler of all even if our present circumstances seem to indicate otherwise. 

In light of these two things Paul gave one of the most powerful statements in the entire letter… “I may be bound in chains as a criminal but the word of God is not bound (2 Timothy 2:9)!” Nothing can stand in the way of God’s word and the message of the gospel. The scripture is filled with so many examples of the gospel message changing the lives of the least and the unlikely and how God’s word overcame human limitations. We read of the gospel overcoming the shame of the woman at the well, the denials of Peter, the past sins and persecutions that Paul committed against the church, the religiosity of Nicodemus and so many other examples of how God’s word was not limited like we are. To the outside observer, Paul’s imprisonment looked like a defeat but it was something God used to magnify his power. 

Knowing the purpose behind our suffering gives us an edge to be able to endure. Paul knew why he was suffering, he endured everything for the sake of the elect that they also may obtain salvation in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory (2 Timothy 2:10). Paul was convinced that his suffering would encourage other Christians to stay faithful and to hold on. This reality did not make the suffering easy, but did fuel Paul’s ability to endure. 

God’s Faithfulness
2 Timothy 2:11-13

Paul also directed Timothy’s attention to the faithfulness of God. Scholars think these verses could be an early church creed or hymn that was used in worship. Paul indicated that with his words “the saying is trustworthy (2 Timothy 2:11).” Timothy would have been familiar with these words, possibly even a song they’d sing in church. The main focus of this hymn was God’s faithfulness. Notice how the words connect back to ideas Paul already explored. First, the reality of the resurrection, “if we have died with him we will also live with him.” Second, the kingship of Jesus. “if we endure we will reign with him.” Finally, the faithfulness of God in that if we deny and reject him he will deny us which sounds like bad news but keep reading… “if we are faithless he is faithful.” Taking these two ideas together this is a warning to endure, but also an encouragement that God deals gently with the weak and hurting. It is consistent with God’s nature to draw near to the faint and weak in faith and he remains faithful to them. God did not see Paul’s persecution and suffering as a loss, rather he remained faithful and he will do the same for us. 

We do not have the power in and of ourselves to endure, but God does and as we look to Christ the risen and ruling king we can find power to endure suffering. 

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 2:8-13

What did Paul direct Timothy to remember about Jesus and why those things specifically?

How did Paul understand his imprisonment and what are some ways that helped him endure?

Have you witnessed Christians endure difficult seasons in their faith? How has that encouraged you to endure through hard times?

The final few verses of our passage are likely a hymn or statement of belief that was recited in the churches with a focus on God’s faithfulness to those who struggle in situations like what Paul was enduring. How have you experienced God’s faithfulness in your own life?