“Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, a descendant of David—that is my gospel, for which I suffer hardship, even to the point of being chained like a criminal.” (II Timothy 2:8-9a)
I seem to be falling into a pattern, commenting on the Epistle passage on days that have been filled with intensity and stress. At least it seems on many of those types of days I am presented with Paul. I have not decided if it is a pleasant experience to sit and “listen” to Paul at the end of a long day. Or if it is a tense experience to wrangle and tussle with Paul at the end of a long day. I think maybe, upon consideration, it is a bit of both. It is good to have something to struggle against and feel you have mastered it when other parts of the day have not gone well. But it is also good to just sit back and let Paul have his say.
“But the word of God is not chained. Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, so that they may also obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.” (Verses 9b – 10)
I could, if so desired, take exception to the term “the elect” as if certain people never will be saved and that has been foreordain since time started ticking – a severe connotation of the term “elect”. But I know what Paul means, I think. There are some who will never accept or live according to the gospel. That does not make them bad or sinners. Christianity and belief in God is very free will. Those who belief feel there will be severe consequences in a time yet to come for those who do not believe.
“The saying is sure:
If we have died with him, we will also live with him;
if we endure, we will also reign with him;
if we deny him, he will also deny us;
if we are faithless, he remains faithful—
for he cannot deny himself.” (Verses 11 – 13)
Just as the God who sent Paul, Paul desires all people to come to faith. But he was missionary long enough to know that some will not believe. And, I would hope, Paul knows that not everyone will believe in the same way he does. Those times when I feel Paul does not have that understanding are the times when I feel I am wrangling and tussling with Paul.
“Remind them of this, and warn them before God that they are to avoid wrangling over words, which does no good but only ruins those who are listening.” (Verse 14)
According to other paraphrase, what is meant in verse 14 is to not nitpick about piety and who is holy than who. And if Paul holds this view, I am sure whenever that day comes that Paul and I meet face to face, we will have pleasant but interesting conversations.
“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved by him, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly explaining the word of truth.” (Verse 15)
And I am looking forward to that day, beloved reader, as much as one can look forward to passing from this world to the next. There is much in this world to savor and enjoy. A long and joyful life is a blessed thing. And the days of intensity and stress will give way to peace and harmony. If not in this world, then in the next. Shalom for your Friday!