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2 Timothy 1:1-4

2 Timothy 1:1-4

Here we have Paul in prison writing a letter to a young pastor named Timothy. His goal is to encourage him to “rekindle” his faith in God. To do this he wants him to draw on the beginning of his journey of faith back when things were more “sincere”, which means remembering what he received from his Mom and Grandma in terms of faith. Paul does this because he and Timothy share the same call of the gospel to be a “preacher”, “apostle”, and “teacher” (v11). Furthermore, Paul does this in order to call Timothy out of his “shame” and “timidity” and into the “power”, “love”, and “discipline” (or “prudence” as N.T. Wright says) of the spirit of God.

Several things stand out to me as possible preaching paths here.

First, there is the obvious question of leadership. I find Leonard Sweet’s use of Derek Siver’s TED talk called “How to Start a Movement” to be helpful . The idea that leadership is about being a first follower is a rich imagery for grasping the nature of servant-leadership. All we’re ever trying to do is point people away from ourselves to the one who was crucified and raised. To see that power, love, and prudence take their cues from the cross. Paul’s take on kenosis in Philippians 2:7 is a good place to end up if you go down this preaching path.

Second, there is the question of preserving the faith. Paul begins by putting this in the context of ordination. He talks about “gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.” Indeed, a sermon on ordination itself is probably not very fruitful unless you’re talking to a bunch of pastors. Although, understanding the role of ordination in the church is important. In the ordinary weekly gathering this could lead to exploring the tension between preserving verses innovating (or renovating) the faith. What does Paul means when he calls Timothy to “retain the standard of sound words” (v13)? What constitutes soundness? Furthermore, in verse 14, what are we to “guard”? What is the “treasure”? The church in western culture is facing a constant tension of preserving, innovating, or renovating our theology and ecclesiology. How does this passage help us navigate this?

Third, and in connection the question of preservation. The whole thrust behind Paul’s words to Timothy is preservation. Maybe there’s a need to lay down some theological groundwork about the story of God. Paul references “Christ Jesus from all eternity” but then indicates that something new happened when Christ was “revealed” by his “appearing.” It would be helpful to go back into the story of Israel and explore their expectations about what the Messiah was for and how a crucified Messiah was hardly what they had expected. How does this shape what preservation, innovation, and renovation means? One question to explore is why this “gospel”, i.e. good news? What does gospel mean? What is the good news?