Fan the Flame

Introduction to the Book of 2 Timothy

Paul knows that his end is near. So this last letter to Timothy takes on a very personal tone expressing to Timothy some of the most important things he needs to know – not only as a pastor but also as a spiritual son and a friend.

Timothy was given the assignment to help the church in Ephesus, struggling from a group of false teachers that were influencing the church. But in spite of Timothy’s efforts these teachers were growing in influence, and Timothy is no doubt discouraged. So much of this second letter is a personal encouragement to Timothy. Here’s the breakdown:

1. In the first part (ch. 1-2) Paul is giving thanks for Timothy and encouraging him to stay strong and persevere in the faith. The Christian life can be difficult, and Jesus promises we will suffer for His sake. And now that Paul is in prison, it is affecting the morale of Christians everywhere. Paul is encouraging Timothy not to be ashamed of the gospel, or of Paul’s own sufferings.

2. In the second part (ch. 3-4) Paul reminds Timothy of his continued mission to confront the false teachers in the church. Timothy is encouraged to preach the word, to build people into the Bible, knowing that God’s truth is powerful enough to dispel every lie of the enemy.

3. And in the final part of the letter (latter part of ch. 4) Paul gets even more personal, asking Timothy to come and see him in prison, not knowing how much time he has left.

(2 Timothy 1:1-7)

1.  Greeting   (v. 1-2)

This is almost identical to Paul’s greeting in 1 Timothy, with one small exception. In 1 Timothy, Paul calls him, “my true child in the faith”. Here, Paul addresses Timothy as, “my beloved child”. A term of endearment and affection. Timothy is more than a ministry partner and friend. Timothy is a son, a beloved son. To this beloved son, Paul pronounces his tri-fold blessing of grace and mercy and peace from God the Father and God the Son.

2. Grateful remembrance  (v. 3-5)

The first thing Paul is grateful for is Timothy himself (v. 3). Paul is saying, just as my forefathers prayed and cried out to God day and night, prayers based in the goodness and faithfulness of God, Timothy, I cry out night and day in praying for you – giving God praise for His faithfulness shown in you, and praying for God’s continued blessings upon you.

Whether you come from a godly heritage or not, we are all building on a foundation that saints of old have laid, the foundation of the gospel message proclaimed, of the power of grace lived out day after day, in the midst of trial, in the midst of hardship. We all stand on the shoulders of giants of the faith who came before us.

The second grateful remembrance Paul celebrates is Timothy’s fellowship (v. 4). Paul is saying, “Timothy, I pray for you often. I remember your tears when we parted. It broke my heart. And here in this prison, where I’m not surrounded by a lot of joy, I would love to see you again, that I may be filled with joy again.” This is a reminder for us, just how blessed we are to have meaningful relationships and joyful fellowship with one another. If you have one or two good, godly friends in this life, you are blessed.

The third grateful remembrance Paul celebrates is Timothy’s faith (v. 5a). This  was especially timely for Timothy who was in the heat of his own trial. The false teachers had gained ground. Timothy was no doubt discouraged. So Paul reminds Timothy, “When I pray for you, I often thank God for you because I am reminded of your sincere faith, the kind of faith that has stood the test, the kind that isn’t phony or fake. Timothy, you are the real deal. Jesus has given you a sincere faith that is strong and sure.”

And then Paul gives one more grateful remembrance, and that is Timothy’s own godly family (v. 5b). Paul is praising God and reminding Timothy that he is not the only one in his family who is following Jesus. It didn’t start with Timothy, and it won’t end with him. He may feel alone in Ephesus, but he is not. Timothy carries with him a godly heritage of his own. Seeds of the gospel planted early. Scripture made a central part of Timothy’s life by a godly mother and grandmother. You’re not alone Timothy. You didn’t get here by yourself. God was faithful to use others to draw you to Him. So don’t be discouraged. That same God is faithful to you now, still sovereign over your life, still empowering you for the work of ministry he’s called you to.

3. Grace-filled reminders  (v. 6-7)

When he says “fan into flame” this gift, it paints the picture of a fire that was once raging, but now has become glowing embers. It seems that Timothy has become weary in his calling, weary in serving the church in Ephesus, weary of fighting and debating with the false teachers. And so, the passion and the energy and the joy Timothy once found in his teaching gift and his call to serve the church seems to be diminishing.

God is speaking to us, too. Remember how good God has been to you, how faithful he has been through all of your trials, how quick he is to forgive and to fill you afresh with His Spirit. Don’t let the burning embers die. Fan them into flame. Let the breath of God breathe new life into you again. Surrender these areas to God and ask for His help. All the worries and fears and anxiety and distractions we’ve heaped into our lives, they suffocate the joy and passion we once had in Jesus – ask God to remove all of that. Ask Him to give you a desire to seek him in prayer, a renewed desire to begin reading the Bible again, letting the God-breathed words of Scripture blow over your soul, turning that dying spark into a burning flame once more.

[7] for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

This is the exclamation point for this whole section. Paul reminds Timothy of our true source of strength. We do not find strength in our intellect, or in our comforts, or in our circumstances. We find our strength in the Holy Spirit who lives inside every Christian.

By nature, in our flesh, we are fearful and prideful and anxious, easily offended and easily discouraged. Our passion and fire for Jesus is easily weakened.

BUT…

-the Holy Spirit is not fearful, He is powerful, providing the strength we don’t have to live the life we can’t live apart from God.

-The Holy Spirit is not selfish or self-centered, but He is a Spirit of love, giving us the supernatural ability to care for the well-being of others more than we care for ourselves.

-The Holy Spirit is not tempted by the pleasures of the flesh nor the wisdom of man, but He is self-controlled, and of sound judgment. He does what pleases the Father and the Son, and all who the Holy Spirit indwells, He empowers us to live lives that do the same.

So fan the flame. Rekindle the fire. Don’t lean on your own strength, but lean on the strength God has already provided through the Holy Spirit living in you. We already have all we need. Now, let’s live lives that reflect the joy and gratitude we have in Jesus.

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