2 Timothy 2:2 And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.
The things that thou has heard of me among many witnesses. Now there’s several different parts to what is going on here. First of all, Timothy was a hearer, so in order for us to apply this verse, first and foremost we must be a hearer. Where do I hear? Particularly where do I hear among many witnesses? In church! We need to be under the teaching and preaching of God’s Word, in His assembly. That is where we are hearers among many witnesses. So we need to be a hearer. And then he says, the things that thou has heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men. Now this again requires a few things. I have to know them well enough to now be able to teach them.
When Paul tells Timothy to commit these things to faithful men, he is saying in essence, “Timothy, you need to learn these things and you need to become grounded in these things that you’ve heard, you need to understand them, you need to make them a part of you so that you are now able to teach them to others”. But then he says to faithful men, who are the people I need to be surrounding myself with and investing myself in? People that are faithful. “Timothy, you need to focus on those that are willing to be faithful”.
Paul is telling us to invest ourselves in faithful men. If you can’t be faithful, I’m under no obligation to invest myself. The faithfulness needs to come first. The determination, the decision that I’m going to be there and I’m going to learn and I’m going to understand and I’m going to follow.
He goes on and He describes a little bit more. The things which thou have heard of me among faithful many witnesses the same commit though to faithful men who shall be able to teach others also. Faithful to listen and faithful to learn but also faithful to be able to teach others. Our primary goal in investing in others is that those will then invest it in others. Who will invest it in others, who will in turn, invest it in others. This is to be ongoing. This is to be never ending. God never intended for a pastor to be pouring himself into a pool. Where the pastor just pours himself into study and into preparation and into teaching and into preaching so he can just pour it into a big pool of water that just sits there. What happens to water that just sits? It smells, it stagnates. When we want to go and get good drinking water, we want to find the stream. We want to find the river, the water that’s moving.
That is God’s plan for the teaching and preaching in the church. The pastor is to find faithful men and women whom he teaches, and then those faithful men and women teach others who then teach others, who then teach others. This is how a church grows. Faithful men who are able to teach others also.
2 Timothy 2:3 Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
Reminding us a little bit of what He talked about in verse one, “endure hardness”. What is hardness? Hardness is difficulty, trouble, hard times. We say in English, “He fell on hard times”. We often use that phrase when someone lost their job and was without one for an extended period of time, “He fell on hard times”. A person who everything went wrong, you know, it’s like he was doing well but then the car broke down and he couldn’t get the car fixed and because he couldn’t get the car fixed he couldn’t get to work and because he couldn’t get to work he lost his job and because he lost his job he couldn’t pay for his house and so he lost his house and he’s fallen on hard times. Hard, difficult, that which would press against you, that which would oppress you. And he says Timothy, endure. That word endure means go through. Continue through. Endure hardness. We hate hearing that advice. We find our friend, we find someone and say man, things are going so bad at work, the boss is always giving me trouble, my co-workers are always giving me trouble. It’s just terrible. I hate being there, it is so hard. We want someone to give us a solution. “Well here’s what you need to do” or maybe we talk to someone and we hope that they can go and talk to the boss’s boss or something to fix it. We hate hearing an answer like, “that’s too bad, why don’t you just endure it?” “Why don’t you just show up and do what you’re supposed to do and not worry about it?”
South Africa has fallen on some hard times. Unemployment is high,and even those who have jobs, the pay is low. Cost of living is too much. Hard times. And we can cry to God and say it’s not fair, it’s not right. And we wouldn’t want to hear God say, “I know, endure it”. But he then goes on and he describes that endurance a little bit more now. Thou therefore endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. Now some think that he’s making a comparison here. You know, you need to be willing to endure hard times just like a soldier endures hard times.
Soldiers have to endure some pretty tough conditions sometimes. Often times their boss is not nice. I’ve heard that rumour from people I know that serve in the military that when you’re in the military you’re immediate superiors don’t even try to be nice to you. They just tell you what to do. They endure some hardness. They have to live and work in hard conditions whether it be in battle or for training. And so some people think we have to take that same mentality and we have to look at the way a soldier endures hardness and we have to endure the same way. That’s not exactly what he is saying. He is saying endure hardness because you are a soldier.
This isn’t a matter of comparison, this is a matter of statement. You have to endure hardness because you are a soldier. So as a soldier endures hardness, you endure hardness because you’re in the exact same position. And we’ll talk a little bit more about that in the next verse but we need to understand that we’re in a battle, we’re in a war. Yes, it’s going to be hard. Yes it’s going to be difficult. Yes, there’s going to be an enemy. Yes, there’s going to be a need for sacrifice but we are to endure this hardness as a soldier of Jesus Christ.
2 Corinthians 10:3-4 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)
Notice verse number 4, “For the weapons of our warfare”. So we’re not just soldiers. We are soldiers in a war. You know, many soldiers have lived and died and never fought in a war. They signed up, they do their two years, their four years in the defence force, never see any kind of combat, never involved in a war. So really, we have to endure hardness in a way that they never did. Because as a Christian we’re a soldier. We’re a soldier in a war.
Ephesians 6:11-13 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
Again, talking about the fact that we we need this whole armour for we wrestle not against flesh and blood but we are involved in this fight against the devil and against spiritual wickedness and it’s a serious thing.
Therefore Paul says to Timothy, you are involved in a war. You know when a soldier is in a war, there’s a lot of things he doesn’t worry about. You know, he’s not going to complain about the quality of his bed. He doesn’t complain about not getting enough to eat when he’s on the battlefield. When somebody is over there shooting at you, whether you had three spoons of sugar for your coffee or not this morning, doesn’t really matter. A soldier will endure hardness understanding what is at stake.
2 Timothy 2:4 No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.
If you’re a soldier and you’re involved in a war, you do not entangle yourself in this life. Now what does it mean to be entangled in this life? How can I entangle myself in this life? Well the difference here is between the physical and the temporal, versus the eternal and the spiritual.
One of the easiest ways we entangle ourselves in this world is money. They came to Jesus and they said, “is that is it right to pay tribute to Caesar?” And Jesus’ response was, “show me a coin show me whose image and super scripture is thereon”. South African Reserve Bank. That’s the super scription on our money. These are the things of this world. And if I allow myself to become focused, entangled with, always concerned with, where is my next one coming from or better yet, where is my next two hundred coming from? Maybe my next four thousand or ten thousand coming from, and that becomes the focus of my life. I’m entangled in the affairs of this world. Anything that will not be in heaven is the things of this world. Do you think SABC 1, 2, 3, 4, however many they have now is going to be in heaven? Do you think Mnet and DSTV is going to be in heaven? Or are they of this world? If I’ve got to be home every Thursday night at 18:00 to watch this show, am I entangling myself with the affairs of this world? Suits and ties, shiny shoes and expensive watches, are they going to be in heaven? There won’t be any watches, there won’t be any time. So if this becomes my priority, I’m entangling myself in the affairs of this world. Political parties, will the ANC be running for office in heaven? The DA? The EFF? The republicans or the democrats from America, are any of them going to run for office in heaven? Or are they an entanglement of this world? No man at war will entangle himself. Why? So that he might please him who called him to be a soldier.
When you see a soldier out there and I’m in the trenches on this side and there’s an enemy over there and they’re trying to kill me, I don’t stand up and say, “You know what, they’re not paying me enough, I’m laying down my weapons until they give me better pay. I’m going on strike.” What would happen to a soldier in a war who got entangled with how much money he was making? There are two things that happen to a soldier in a war who gets entangled with how much money he is making, he dies or he becomes a traitor. No man at war entangleth himself. You know, my car isn’t going to be in heaven, my house isn’t going to be in heaven, my friends aren’t going to be in heaven unless I lead them to the Lord. We’re not going to be watching Chiefs versus Pirates in heaven. We’re going to be sitting around the throne of Jesus Christ. Worshipping and praising Him. Am I entangled in the affairs of this life?
2 Timothy 2:5 And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully.
“If a man strives for the masteries”. Paul is using the example of an athletic contest, “striving for the masteries” probably best relates to wrestling. Me and another guy, we get into the circle and the idea is that I want to throw him on his back, hold his shoulders to the mat for the allotted time and then I win. I gain the masteries. It could be related to a race. We’re going to run one hundred meters. We start, we get in the blocks, they fire the gun, one of us crosses the line first. If I cross the line first then I achieved the masteries. But Paul says he’s not crowned unless he strive lawful. Sometimes in the race, the guy is standing there with the gun and before he fires the gun somebody starts running. Now in big races like that I think they give you two tries. You start once to early, they restart the race. You start twice too early, you’re out. You don’t get a chance to win any more. Strive for the masteries, we have to strive lawfully.
Now what Paul is talking about there is, “Timothy, you’ve been given a job, you’ve been given a race to run but we’ve been given a set of rules.” God wants us to live a holy life. So He’s given us a race to run, a job to do in serving Him, but we can’t do it while not living holy. We will not be crowned. You know if I think that I can, as long as I’m busy, I’m inviting people to church, I’m coming to church, I can go and live however I want. God says no it doesn’t work that way. In order to receive the reward you have to strive lawfully.
2 Timothy 2:6 The husbandman that laboureth must be first partaker of the fruits.
Here we see Paul is making an application specifically to Timothy. Timothy, you as the pastor, you as the one working in this situation you are the one trying to work in people’s lives to produce fruit, to produce faithful men, to produce good soldiers, to produce those that could endure hardness, to produce those that will teach others also. Timothy you are trying to produce these things but he makes this illustration, “the husbandman must first be partaker of the frui”t. What he means by that is, before you can set about trying to do this in anyone else’s life, you have to do it for yourself first. As the husbandman, if you want to try to produce spiritual fruit in others, you must first be sure that that spiritual fruit is being produced and tasted and seen in your own life. You can’t go out and try to work on others when the problem is with yourself. And that begins with salvation.
I can’t go and preach the Gospel until I have believed the Gospel. I cannot go out there and preach holiness until I have studied and learned and done my best to live a life that is holy. I can’t go out there and preach endure hardness when I myself run from it every time it shows up. I can’t go out there and tell others you need to be a good soldier when I never pick up my sword and go to battle. Timothy, as the husband man you’ve got to have this fruit first, then you can begin to prove, to work, to see it brought forth in others.
The Bible tells us in Luke 24:47-48 that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations beginning at Jerusalem. And so this is Luke’s giving his account of what we call the Great Commission, that which we should be busy doing, as disciples of Jesus Christ. But notice when he goes on, he has one final phrase, “and you are witnesses of these things”.
What is a witness? Someone that has seen and experienced, someone who has personal experience from which they can speak. If I’m going to be a teacher and preacher of God’s word, it can’t be because I heard somebody else teach and preach God’s word. It has to come to rest in me. It has to be alive and bearing fruit in me. I can’t tell someone you have to believe the gospel just because I heard someone else say you have to believe in the gospel. I need to be a witness.
We talk about sharing your testimony, it should be your most powerful tool in sharing the gospel. And I’ve told people before, you look at the Apostle Paul, the Apostle Paul wrote the book of Romans. I would refer to the Book of Romans as the best commentary on the Gospel ever written. In chapters 1 to 11, revealing the sinfulness of all men and the salvation that is available in Jesus Christ, the power of sin being broken and destroyed, the wages of sin destroyed, the gift of God being granted through Jesus Christ, tremendous, he had a way of presenting the truth of God’s work.
He wrote the book of Hebrews which reveals so much of what was pictured in the Old Testament law and in the Old Testament sacrifices. Teaching on Jesus Christ being the fulfilment of those sacrifices and of His Priesthood. He’s presenting this truth of the Gospel. This man knew the gospel and yet we see on two separate occasions when Paul had the opportunity to present his faith He didn’t go into some deep doctrinal text book presentation. To paraphrase he said, let me tell you about a man named Saul of Tarsus. A Hebrew of the Hebrews of the tribe of Benjamin concerning the Law, blameless a Pharisee of the Pharisees and then one day he was on a road to Damascus and a light shown and a voice from heaven, saying, Saul, why persecute thou me? Who art thou Lord? It is me Jesus. Jesus? What have I done? I’ve been putting them in prison, I’ve been putting them to death. Jesus, you are Lord. Lord, what will thou have me to do?
Paul told them about the day that he became a witness. The day that he met Jesus Christ himself. The day that Jesus Christ forgave him of his sins, washed him of His own blood. The day that he repented and placed his faith and trust in Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ alone. So let me tell you about that time, because he had the fruit. He had the fruit, this is what God has done in my life. Tremendous truth. So we see here Paul encouraging Timothy, be strong. Encouragement for a soldier.
And so I leave you with this again, stand strong in His grace. Are you here today? When did you come to stand in His grace? Are you standing in His grace? Christian, do you stand strong in it? Do you share it with others? You know, if every time the subject of religion comes up and I think I should say something about salvation, I’m too shy, I’m too proud. I am not standing strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. Are you hearing? Things that thou have heard of me among many witnesses. Are you faithfully hearing the Word taught in the assembly? And then sharing with faithful men who shall be able to teach others also. Do you endure hardness or do you allow the difficulties to come and stop you? Paul under inspiration of the Holy Spirit said endure hardness. When the hard times come, keep going. When the difficulties come, keep going. When the attacks come, keep going. Endure. Have you untangled yourself of the affairs of this life? Or is this life the priority? Is it about entertainment, pleasure, fun, money, education, prestige, influence?
You know, I don’t think when I get to heaven there will be too many people who look up to me as a great teacher and preacher. You know, when we have the opportunity to go and stand at the very throne of God and listen to Him speak, I’m not going to draw a big crowd. That prestige can be an entanglement of this world. My prestige, my honour is not going with me into the next life. It will all be for Him. Unto Him be glory forever and ever. Amen. Am I entangled in the affairs of this world? Do I strive lawfully? Do I make sure that my life is in accordance with God’s Word? Have I partaken of the fruits?