November 13, 2011

Monday after the Twenty-first Sunday after Trinity

Lectionary

Morning - Ps.2, 3, 2 Kings 6:8-14, 2 Timothy 1:1-14
Evening - Ps. 4, 8, Eccles. 5:8, Mt. 22:15-33

Commentary
2 Timothy 1:1-14

Today we begin reading Paul's final letter to Timothy. Written from the Mammertine prison in Rome, Second Timothy shows the courage and faith of Paul in the face of death, and his concern for the continuing ministry of Timothy. By this time, early in the year 69 A.D., Timothy is in Ephesus, where he has probably served since Paul sent him to that city in 61 or 62 A.D. Meanwhile, Paul has travelled westward, possibly as far as Spain and Britannia, and the Apostle John has assumed Apostolic oversight of Ephesus and the area known as Asia Minor. We do not know how Paul came to be imprisoned in Rome a second time, though we know that Rome's general hostility to Christianity became a full-fledged persecution after Nero blamed Christians for burning Rome in A.D. 64. By the time Paul wrote 2 Timothy, he was in prison facing execution, John was imprisoned on Patmos, and Peter has been executed in Rome.

Yet Paul's letter begins with encouragement to Timothy. His words are those of deep friendship and love; words like, "my dearly beloved son," "I have remembrance of thee in my prayers day and night," and "greatly desiring to see thee." He reminds Timothy of his ordination (1:6), and asks him to stir up the gift of God, meaning the calling and ability to perform the ministry of the Gospel of Christ, in spite of opposition and persecution (1:7-11). As Paul has suffered for the Gospel (1:12), he encourages Timothy to be willing to partake of the afflictions of the Gospel (1:8), having the same faith Paul has, that Christ is "able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day" (1:12). What has Paul committed unto Christ? His life here and now, and his soul forever. "That day" is the Day of the Lord when all will be judged and those in Christ will be taken into Heaven forever. Paul's faith that Christ will take him in on that day sustains him now in trials and death on earth. Our reading ends with another exhortation to hold to sound words (doctrine) received from Paul, and to remain true to his calling, the "good thing committed unto him by the Holy Ghost.

The words of this epistle were written to Timothy, but their application to all Christians is evident. All are called to the service of Christ, to endure hardship, and to remain true to their calling in Christ even unto death. This charge is not just for those in the offices of ordained ministry, it is for all Christians.

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