The Epistles of Paul may be divided into four classes—:
In First Timothy Paul is dealing with "The Church of God." "But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and the ground of the truth. (1 Timothy 3:15)"
In his first Epistle to Timothy he deals with church doctrine in Chapter 1, church worship in Chapter 2, and he gives a warning to the church in Chapter 4. In the middle of the fourth chapter he speaks of the preacher in the church, and continues to do so until the end of the book. In this Epistle he calls Timothy, "The man of God." If the preacher who is "The man of God" is mentioned in this Epistle, he is only referred to in his relationship to the "Church of God." What is said to "The man of God" here only has to do with his service and labor within the confines of the local church. Let us ever keep in mind that in this Epistle he is dealing with matters that are confined to the church.
When we look at 2 Timothy we see "The man of God", not in the church as he is seen in 1 Timothy, but out in the great arena of an apostate world. He is telling Timothy how he is to conduct himself, not in the assembly of God's people, but outside the church in the world's sphere. He wants Timothy, as well as he wants us, to know how to conduct himself in a world where Christ has been rejected, and the Word of God has been repudiated and denied. 2 Timothy is one of the books of the New Testament which has to do with "The Latter Times." This is the period of time designated by Paul in his Epistles as the closing days of the dispensation of grace, just before the return of the Lord to rapture the church to be with Himself. The phrase "Latter Times" is used by Paul, and has related to it the apostate conditions that exist in the world before the rapture of the church. Let us look at the "Latter Times" in relation to the subject of "Faith." When I speak of "The Faith" I am referring to the whole gamut of Divine Revelation. Let us see what Paul says about conditions in the world in the "Latter Times." What is man's attitude in these last days toward "The Faith"? In this apostate age what is man's opinion about the Word of God—"The Faith"? Hear what Paul has to say about this in these two Epistles to Timothy:
These are the conditions under which Timothy will be serving the Lord. These are the conditions which exist in the world today. Listen to what some of the outstanding religious leaders of our day have to say about the teaching of the Bible and spiritual matters: Dr. A. M. Ramsey, Archbishop of Canterbury, in a newspaper interview said, "Heaven is not a place to which we humans go in our present bodily state, nor is it a place for Christians only. Those who have led a good life on earth, but found themselves unable to believe in God, will not be debarred from heaven. I expect to meet some present-day atheists there." I am sure that Mr. Ramsey will meet some present-day atheists where they are going, and it will not be heaven. Mr. Ramsey also says, "The Adam and Eve story must now be regarded as a parable, because it contradicts what geology tells us of the origin of the world, and what biology tells us of the evolution of the human race." Listen to what a clergyman in Toronto, Canada has to say about the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ: "I do not believe in a literal Second Coming of Christ. I think that far too often theologians—even liberal, or neo-orthodox—try to read into traditional doctrines some meaning, when in fact, the doctrines have no meaning for us today. For me, the notion of a physical return of Christ is theological mum-bo-jumbo." (The Toronto Star of October 11, 1968) Evidently Dr. Goth does not believe what the Bible says about the return of the Lord and the rapture of the church.
Dr. William Hamilton, a theology professor at Colgate-Rochester Divinity School in television interview said, as quoted by The Toronto Star, "We are atheists, but Christian atheists." Who ever heard a supposed religious scholar make such a contradictory statement? He went on to say, "We differ from classical atheism in that it says that there never was a God; whereas we say that there was a God, but there isn't now. We do not know, we do not adore, we do not believe in God. We are not talking about the absence of the experience of God, but about the experience of the absence of God. What we have come up with is a new style of Christian theology. It is a breathtaking way of doing Christianity—without God. Christianity is obedience to Christ, and for that you don't need God. Jesus was wrong about a lot of things, but he was still a great person." From what is happening in the social and religious world today it is evident that in many centers the Bible has no place at all, and Jesus Christ is completely crowded out. Unbelief, infidelity, and atheism are rampant in the world today. These are the conditions which Timothy must face in the world as he carries on a ministry for God. Any young preacher who starts out today must prepare himself for the theological conflict which exists everywhere. We have mountains of evidence around the world today of man's blasphemous attitude toward "The Faith."
There are four small epistles to which Christian workers should turn often, so that their minds might be enlightened concerning spiritual matters—1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, and Philemon. The Christian ministry must never get away from the simplicity and content of these Epistles.
In 1 Timothy Paul charges Timothy to warn people against false teachers and false teachings. Notice what he says:
These have all missed the mark and been led astray. The people who are designated by the word "some" in 1 Timothy have become in 2 Timothy "all" "This thou knowest, that all they have which are in Asia be turned away from me." (2 Timothy 1:15). At the end of 2 Timothy we hear the Apostle say, "At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge." We have here a picture of twentieth century Christianity.
As we enter further into the introduction of the study of this Epistle, we must look for the key that will unlock the content of the book. The best way to study the Bible is the way that God has written it. He has given it to us in the form of 66 books. Each book has a singular outstanding truth in it. That truth is the key which unlocks the book. That truth may be noticed in different places in the book as it is set forth in oft repeated words or phrases. In the book of Hebrews there are two outstanding words. One of them is the word "better." The other is "eternal." The better things in the book of Hebrews are the eternal things. In 2 Timothy we have as the key phrase of the book the little phrase, "Not Ashamed" repeated four times. "Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord." (1:8). "For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed." (1:12). "The Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus; for he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain:" (1:16). "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." (2:15).
Paul is telling Timothy that in days of apostasy he is not to be ashamed. Out in the great arena of a Christ-rejecting world, where man has turned his back on God and the Divine Revelation in the Scriptures, Timothy is to stand up and be counted. He is not to be ashamed of being a Bible loving and a Bible believing Christian. He must not allow the scorning remarks of the unbelieving world to silence his testimony for the cause of Christ.
Let none of us who have named the name of Christ ever be ashamed of the One who did so much for us. Sin made cowards of us all. When we lived in our unconverted state we felt ashamed to be in the presence of people who have a real testimony for the Lord. It embarrassed us to be in the presence of people who talked about the Saviour. But now, old things are passed away and all things are become new. We are on the other side of the fence now. We have been born again and have taken our stand for Christ. We are to be faithful witnesses to the saving power of the Gospel. In days of apostasy let us not be ashamed of our blessed Lord.
You will notice that we have four chapters in this little book. They are four full chapters—full of divine truths. Each chapter has a key thought. These thoughts will help us to remember the content of each chapter—:
As you read Paul's writings in any of his epistles you can see the author. Notice how he is seen in these four chapters:
Each chapter in this Epistle has its own subject matter. Each chapter can be dealt with separately. The word "therefore" marks the divisions which carry separate truths as the content of each chapter. In chapter 1 after the introduction we read, "Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord." (1:8). In chapter 2 we read, "Thou therefore my son be strong." (2:1). In chapter 4 we read, "I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ." (4:1). Now we go back to chapter 3 and notice how that chapter opens, "This know also." (3:1). In this chapter the Apostle is setting forth truth concerning the conditions and perilous times that will come upon the world in the closing days of this dispensation before the church is raptured. We see that the book lends itself to four divisions which are represented by four chapters, and each division is introduced by the word "therefore."
In 1 Timothy the church is described as, "The church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth." (1 Timothy 3:15). In the book of Ephesians the church is, "An habitation of God through the Spirit." (Eph. 2:22). The church, which is His body, is the dwelling place of God. He does not dwell in buildings made of brick and mortar, only as His people are gathered together in those buildings. Then He is in the midst of His people. Paul tells us that the church is the pillar that upholds the truth. The pillar in any building is there for the support of whatever is necessary to be carried. We, as members of the body of Christ, are to uphold the truth. We are to hold high the Gospel banner. We are to exalt the truth. No one else can. Why? Because no one else has the truth. Paul also tells us that the church is, "The ground of the truth." It is where the truth resides. God has deposited the truth in the lap of His people. The church is a repository of the Divine Revelation. No one else has it. No one else can understand it. Keep in mind here that in 1 Timothy Paul tells us that the church is the pillar and ground of the truth. That is the Word of God.
A sad consequence is pictured in 2 Timothy regarding what has happened to "the truth." Paul is here setting forth man's attitude toward the truth in "the last days." Notice what is recorded here in three places in 2 Timothy as to what has happened to the truth:
Relapsing from the truth issues in resisting the truth, and it won't be long until the church relinquishes the truth altogether. Paul gives great value and prominence to the truth—The Word of God. The Word of God is not only to be revered and reverenced, but it must be recognized as paramount in all spiritual work and warfare. The Bible holds first place in all spiritual endeavor. It has priority in every phase of spiritual activity. That which is not built upon the Word of God is not built upon a sound foundation. True it is the Word of God has been rejected as to having a place in the educational training of the rising generation. Every area of life in America is feeling the impact of our so called "new morality", which is nothing but the old immorality. All of this is taking place because the Bible has no authority in this age over the conduct and practice of the rising generation. As a man and woman treat the Bible so they treat God. Turn your back upon the Bible and you turn your back upon God. If you want to get rid of God, get rid of the Bible. The Bible is the voice of God to the children of men.
Let me repeat, Paul believes the Bible authoritative in all righteous endeavors. For this reason he gives it an exalted place. See the place he gives it in this Epistle as he writes to this young preacher, Timothy. The Bible is to be the basis of all his Christian work. For this reason Timothy is:
The trinity of evil is arrayed against this Book. Paul keeps bringing Timothy's mind to the importance of the Word of God. He wants Timothy to hold the Bible and its content in highest esteem. The Bible is the worker's authority and ability. A Christian worker has no authority in anything he does apart from the Scriptures. In the Scriptures we have God's provision for correcting error and for counteracting evil. As we study 2 Timothy we shall get a new understanding of the importance of the Scriptures.