The fatherly approach
I. The affectionate greeting (verses 1 and 2)
“To my own son in the faith”
Grace – the invariable source of all blessing (not merit).
Mercy – the basic factor in all blessing.
Peace – the ultimate effect of all blessing (i.e. a whole life at peace with God; comp. Heb. 4:9).
II. The renewed commission (verses 3-7)
1. Stand for the Truth – withstand the heretics (v. 3, 4).
2. Aim at pure love – through simple faith (v.5).
3. Beware of deviations – and consequent loss (v.6, 7).
III. The valuable instruction (regarding the right use and function of the law.) (verses 8-11)
Its root purpose is simply to awaken sinners to their urgent spiritual need. (Rom. 3:19,20; Rom. 5:20; etc.).
It is not a code of ethics for would-be righteous people.
IV. The personal testimony (Paul’s own history and God’s great grace.) (verses 12-17)
1. The chief of sinners (v. 15).
2. Experiencing abundant mercy (v. 13, 14, 16).
3. Entrusted with a ministry (v. 12).
4. So, to the King alone be glory (v. 17)!
V. The call to battle (verses 18-20)
1. War a good warfare (v. 18)
This had been the particular burden and emphasis in certain prophetic prayers previously prayed over Timothy. See v. 18. See also 1 Tim. 4:14; 2 Tim.1:6.
2. Remember earlier field-casualties in the same war (v. 19, 20; Hymenaeus and Alexander).
We are moved by the thought that, though Timothy was here affectionately addressed as Paul’s own son, the aged father still commissioned him to a hard life on the battlefield (v. 18). We know, too, that Timothy was young (4:12), and physically frail (5:23), but nevertheless Paul wanted to see him out in the wars of the Lord (see also 6:12), being prepared to entrust the young man to that same care he himself had known. Perhaps one of the real tests of our devotion to the Lord is in the extent to which we are prepared to commit our nearest and dearest to a life of spiritual battle for the Lord’s sake. Offering ourselves is one thing, but offering up a loved one can be quite another (comp. Heb. 11:17). But how can we do otherwise in the light of the gospel we proclaim? Did not God give up His Son? And to what a battle it was in His case (Heb. 2:14; 1 John 3:8).
It is important also, that, in this opening chapter, Paul immediately introduces the subject of the Law, and what its real purpose is (vs. 8-11). We recall that Paul’s own ministry had been constantly harassed and opposed by those who did not handle the law lawfully (v. 8), but who insisted (often with violence) that the Law, and our observation of its tenets, to be the basis of our acceptance with God. The Bible, on the other hand, teaches us that God gave us the law to impress upon us the fact of our sinnership, a fact which becomes painfully manifest as we discover our total inability to keep it, try as we may. The law thus places us in the category of self-confessed sinners, thereby introducing us to the far better and only effectual ground of God’s mercy and grace. Timothy must know this truth, and see this inscrutable wisdom and purpose of God if he is to be a true and effectual servant of the Lord, and a carrier of the glorious gospel of God’s grace; and so must we!
More and more we sense the rightness of this emphasis coming in the opening chapter of this letter. The revelation the relationship between the law and the gospel is absolutely essential to those who would have a share in the building of God’s church, as opposed to establishing some man-made substitute. It is certainly needed in our day when the majority of professing Christians seem to know little other than trying to earn for themselves a place in heaven. The real truth of the matter is clearly summed up in Eph. 2:8, 9 and wise is the spiritual father who holds his responsible sons to that wonderful fact.