For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.

—2 Timothy 1:12

For the warmth of his heart the Christian has the love of God which is “shed abroad” by the Holy Ghost, while from his vantage point in the “heavenly places” he is able to look down calmly upon the excited happenings of men. In his flesh he may be a part of the human scene, but in his spirit he is far above it all and is never at any time too much moved by what he sees.

From the Word of God he learns the direction things are going and is thus able in God to see the end from the beginning and call the things that are not as though they were.

The life of the Christian is bound up in the sovereignty of God, i.e…. His full ability to carry out His plans to their triumphant conclusion. Since he is a part of God’s eternal purpose, he knows he must win at last, and he can afford to be calm even when the battle seems to be temporarily going against him.

The world has no such “blissful center” upon which to rest and is therefore constantly shifting about, greatly elated today, terribly cast down tomorrow and wildly excited the next day. TET041-042

Lord, thank You for the assurance that You are in control. In turbulent times, in uncertain days and in difficult circumstances, I will rest in You. Amen. [1]

1:12 It was because of his faithful performance of duty that Paul was suffering imprisonment and loneliness. He had not hesitated to declare the truth of God. No fears for personal safety had sealed his lips. Now that he had been arrested and jailed, he still had no regrets. He was not ashamed, and neither should Timothy be ashamed. Although Paul could not be confident as to his personal safety, he was completely confident as to the One whom he had believed. Though Rome might succeed in putting the apostle to death, men could not touch his Lord. Paul knew that the One whom he had trusted was able. Able to do what? Able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day. Commentators are divided as to what Paul is referring to here. Some think that it is his soul’s salvation. Others understand this to refer to the gospel. In other words, although the Apostle Paul himself might be put to death, yet the gospel could not be hindered. The more men sought to oppose it, the more it would prosper.

Perhaps it is best to take the expression in its broadest sense. Paul was persuaded that his entire case was in the best of hands. Even as he faced death, he had no misgivings. Jesus Christ was his Almighty Lord, and with Him there could be no defeat or failure. There was nothing to worry about. Paul’s salvation was sure, and so was the ultimate success of his service for Christ here on earth.

That Day is a favorite expression of Paul. It refers to the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, and particularly to the Judgment Seat of Christ when service for Him will be brought into review and when the kindness of God will reward the faithfulness of men.[2]

12. Thus the trend of thought has returned to that of verse 8: Paul’s faithfulness to the gospel, as an example for Timothy. Accordingly, the second paragraph of the present section is very personal in character. Says the apostle: For this reason I am also suffering these things.

Because of the fulfilment of my assignment as an apostle of Jesus Christ I suffer here in this terrible Roman prison—a dismal underground dungeon with a hole in the ceiling for light and air—, with the prospect of execution as a criminal! But I am not ashamed. Though. Paul has been subjected to ignominy, he has not disgraced himself. Along with others, such as Joseph, Jeremiah, Daniel, John the Baptist, and Peter, he has joined the ranks of prisoners for the best cause. After all, the place of dishonor may be the place of highest honor. Was not Jesus crucified between two malefactors? and cf. 1 Peter 4:16!

The reason why Paul is not ashamed is stated in these memorable words: For I know him in whom I have placed my trust, and am convinced that he is able to guard with a view to that day that which I have entrusted to him.

Paul has once for all placed his trust in the sovereign God (see verses 8, 9 above). One might also translate with the A.V., “for I know whom I have believed,” i.e., I know God who revealed himself in his precious Son, “our Savior Christ Jesus” (verse 10). The apostle has become abidingly convinced of God’s infinite power, tender love, and absolute faithfulness.

Literally translated, the apostle says, “… and I am convinced that he is able to guard my deposit (τὴν παραθήκην μου) with a view to (or unto: εἰς) that day.” This leads to the question on which commentators are hopelessly divided: Just what is meant by my deposit? Is it “that deposit which he has entrusted to me,” or is it “that deposit which I have entrusted to him”? Or, putting it differently, Is it the gospel or is it myself and my complete salvation?

As I see it, the latter view deserves the preference, for the following reasons:

(1) Clearly, not Paul but God (in Christ) guards this deposit (“he is able to guard”). Hence, the view that it is the deposit which Paul has entrusted to God has probability on its side. In verse 14 (see on that verse) and also in 1 Tim. 6:20 it is not God but Timothy who must do the guarding. Hence, in that case it is the deposit which God has entrusted to (Paul and to) Timothy.

Now if verse 12 has to do with the deposit which Paul has entrusted to God, then the view that the reference is to my soul or my spirit or myself and my complete salvation has logic on its side. Here some commentators favor my soul; others, my salvation. But the difference is not very important: “myself and my complete salvation” includes both.

(2) The immediate context favors this interpretation. Paul has just written, “I know whom I have believed,” meaning, in the light of the clause which follows: “I know that this God in whom I have placed my confidence is dependable, and will certainly keep in perfect safety that which I have entrusted to him for safe-keeping and protection.”

(3) The words of verse 10 also support this view. The apostle has just referred to “life and incorruptibility.” But, as was noted in the explanation of verse 10, the believer does not fully receive this blessing until the day of Christ’s glorious Return. Hence, the idea of verse 12 is that this truly immortal life possessed even now in principle, and deposited with God for safe-keeping, will be returned to Paul more gloriously than ever on “that day,” the day of the great consummation (cf. verse 18 below; also 2 Tim. 4:8; then 2 Thess. 1:10).

(4) The idea of a treasure that is guarded by God is also found elsewhere; sometimes in a slightly different sense (1 Peter 1:4).

(5) Cf. the words of our Lord as he died on the cross (Luke 23:46; cf. Ps. 31:5; 1 Peter 4:19). Christ’s spirit, having been committed to the Father, is on the third day re-united with the body, now gloriously resurrected.

The arguments of those who defend the opposite view are answered in footnote.[3]

Realize Your Duty

for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle and a teacher. For this reason I also suffer these things, (1:11–12a)

To illustrate the next two means for guarding against being ashamed of Christ, Paul draws from his own life and ministry. The first of those two means is realizing one’s duty, about which Paul had the strongest personal conviction. Using the same words (In the Greek text) as he had in his first letter (1 Tim. 2:7), Paul reminded Timothy, I was appointed a preacher and an apostle.

The Greek egō (I) is in the emphatic position, strengthening the meaning to “I myself.” Was appointed refers, of course, to Paul’s divine commission, which he dramatically received on the Damascus Road, after which the Lord informed Ananias, a faithful disciple in Damascus, that Paul “is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel” (Acts 9:15). At least twice, Paul publicly testified to that calling, first on the steps of the Roman army barracks before a large crowd in Jerusalem (Acts 22:3–21) and, some years later, before the Roman governor Festus, King Agrippa, and his wife Bernice in Caesarea (Acts 26:2–23).

Saul, as Paul was known before his conversion, did not plan to become a Christian. When he first encountered Christ, he was the chief persecutor of the infant church (See Acts 8:1–9:2). Nor, after his conversion, was it his own plan, or any other human plan, for him to be a special ambassador for Jesus Christ. On the beach near Miletus, he reminded the elders from Ephesus that he had received his ministry solely “from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24; cf. Col. 1:25). In his first letter to the church at Corinth, he stated that truth in even stronger terms. “For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of,” he said; “for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel” (1 Cor. 9:16).

Paul first mentions his commission as a preacher, as a proclaimer, or herald, who officially and publicly announces a message on behalf of a ruler—in Paul’s case, the Lord Jesus Christ. He also was commissioned as an apostle “of Christ Jesus by the will of God” (2 Tim. 1:1; cf. 1 Tim. 1:1) and a teacher. Preacher emphasizes his function in ministry, apostle emphasizes his authority, and teacher emphasizes his interpreting the message he authoritatively proclaimed.

It was for this reason, that is, his threefold divine calling, that he also [had to] suffer these things, a reference, in general, to his “suffering for the gospel according to the power of God” (v. 8) and, in particular, to his loneliness (1:4) and his “imprisonment as a criminal” (2:7; cf. 1:8). He suffered because he faithfully preached the fullness of the gospel of salvation, because he proclaimed that truth with divine authority, and because he interpreted that Word with divine insight. Very often, the price of devotion to divine duty is affliction by the world.

These things also applied to the long list of afflictions Paul mentions in his second letter to the church at Corinth, in which, “in foolishness,” he boasted “according to the flesh” (2 Cor. 11:17–18). Speaking sarcastically about certain “false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ, [who] disguise themselves as servants of righteousness” (vv. 14–15), he asked rhetorically,

Are they servants of Christ? (I speak as if insane) I more so; in far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death. Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. (vv. 23–27; cf. 6:4–10)

Faithful ministry in the Lord’s service is always bittersweet. It brings suffering and joy, disappointment and gratitude. It is like the little book representing judgment that John took “out of the angel’s hand and ate it, and it was in my mouth sweet as honey; and when I had eaten it, my stomach was made bitter” (Rev. 10:10).

But for Paul, as it should be for every believer, suffering was a small price to pay, because his joy always outweighed his suffering, and his satisfaction always outweighed his disappointments. “For to me, to live is Christ,” he rejoiced, “and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21). “Even if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith,” he testified later in that letter, “I rejoice and share my joy with you all” (2:17). He gave similar testimony to believers at Colossae, saying, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body (Which is the church) in filling up that which is lacking in Christ’s afflictions” (Col. 1:24). The worst suffering we endure is not comparable to our future glory (Rom. 8:18).

Charles Spurgeon gave a vivid illustration of the overriding satisfaction that comes from selfless, godly service.

A man shall carry a bucket of water on his head and be very tired with the burden; but that same man when he dives into the sea shall have a thousand buckets on his head without perceiving their weight, because he is in the element and it entirely surrounds him. The duties of holiness are very irksome to men who are not in the element of holiness; but when once those men are cast into the element of grace, then they bear ten times more, and feel no weight, but are refreshed thereby with joy unspeakable.

Duty can bring the deepest pain or the highest joy. Spiritual duty unfulfilled brings untold dissatisfaction, regret, and anguish, no matter how easy unfaithfulness may be. On the other hand, spiritual duty fulfilled brings untold satisfaction and happiness, whatever the cost of faithfulness. The Christian who is obedient to his duty under the Lord can say with Peter, “If anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not feel ashamed, but in that name let him glorify God” (1 Peter 4:16).

Trust Your Security

but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day. (1:12b)

Summing up his previous testimony, and again using his own experience, Paul gives a sixth means for guarding against being ashamed of Christ: trusting in spiritual security.

Paul was not ashamed of his Lord, for, he says, I know whom I have believed. Oida (Know) carries the idea of knowing with certainty. It is used frequently in the New Testament of God’s own knowing and of man’s knowing by direct revelation from God or by personal experience. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus used that verb in assuring His hearers, “Your Father knows what you need, before you ask Him” (Matt. 6:8). John repeatedly uses it of Jesus’ knowledge. He records that “He Himself [Jesus] knew what He was intending to do” (John 6:6), and that “Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was that would betray Him” (v. 64; cf. 8:14; 11:42; 13:11).

Whom refers either to God the Father (v. 8) or to Jesus Christ (vv. 9–10). In either case, the basic meaning is the same—Paul had firsthand, intimate, saving knowledge of God.

Pisteuō (I have believed) is in a perfect tense, indicating something that began in the past and has continuing results. As already pointed out, the object of Paul’s certain knowledge was not a thing, or even God’s truth, as important as that is, but rather God Himself. It was not Paul’s divinely revealed theology, but the One who revealed to him that theology, in whom he believed. He was, in John’s words, a spiritual father who had come to know the Eternal One (1 John 2:14).

I am convinced, he testifies, that He [God] is able [dunatos, lit., is powerful enough] to guard what I have entrusted to Him. Phulassō (To guard) was a military term used of a soldier on watch, who was accountable with his own life to protect that which was entrusted to his care. He was convinced not only by divine promises but also by God’s constant faithfulness, already exhibited to him in such measure that he could testify from personal encounters and experience. He asked rhetorically,

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, “For Thy sake we are being put to death all day long; we were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom. 8:35–39)

Paul trusted his absolute security in God. He had been through years of relentless temptations, trials and testings, opportunities and hardships. He had seen the power of God at work again and again, both in him and around him. He had seen the Lord save and heal and protect and guide and encourage (cf. 2 Tim. 4:14–18). He had encountered Christ personally on the Damascus Road and had been “caught up into Paradise, and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak.… And because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me—to keep me from exalting myself!” (2 Cor. 12:4, 7).

His confidence did not come from a creed or a theological system or a denomination or an ordination. It came solely from a close, unbroken relationship with God, to whom he unreservedly gave his life, going about his divine mission with no concern for his own welfare, safety, or life. Without the least reservation, all of those things were entrusted to Him until that day. His only “ambition, whether at home or absent, [was] to be pleasing to Him” (2 Cor. 5:9).

Later in the letter Paul identifies that day, saying, “In the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Tim. 4:8). It is the day when believers will stand before the bēma, “the judgment seat of God” (Rom. 14:10), where “each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it, because it is to be revealed with fire; and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work” (1 Cor. 3:13), in order “that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2 Cor. 5:10).

Like Peter, Paul knew with perfect certainty that he was “protected by the power of God through faith for a [completed] salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:5). He had utter confidence in Jesus’ promise regarding His sheep: “I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand” (John 10:28–29). When our life belongs to Jesus Christ, nothing in this world, not even all the demons in hell or Satan himself, can touch us![4]

12 Paul’s gospel of salvation is worth it, for it is true (Quinn and Wacker, 603, note the recurrence of p sounds in the original: paschō … epaischynomai; pepisteuka kai pepeismai). Paul knows whom he has “believed” (pepisteuka [GK 4409], the perfect tense conveying a settled conviction), and he has full confidence (pepeismai [GK 4275], another perfect; NIV, “am convinced”) that God is “able” (dynatos, GK 1543; cf. Ro 4:21; 11:23) to preserve the deposit (parathēkē, GK 4146; cf. 1 Ti 6:20) he has “entrusted to him” (so both NIV and NASB; lit., “my deposit”; “to him” is not in the original) “for that day” (the final judgment and vindication triggered by Christ’s return; cf. Php 1:10).

That “deposit” is probably Paul’s own life (less likely the gospel; cf. Quinn and Wacker, 604–5). A similar expression of Paul’s confidence is found at 4:18. Thus the apostle’s identity consists in being a “herald [evangelist] and an apostle and a teacher” (v. 11). Paul is setting the example; Timothy must follow in his steps (cf. 3:10–12; see A. D. Clarke, “ ‘Be Imitators of Me’: Paul’s Model of Leadership,” TynBul 49 [1998]: 354–57). In the light of the proliferation of heretics and in the face of desertions, these exhortations take on an even more pressing urgency.[5]

[1] Tozer, A. W., & Eggert, R. (2015). Tozer on the almighty god: a 365-day devotional. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[2] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 2112). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[3] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Pastoral Epistles (Vol. 4, pp. 234–236). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[4] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1995). 2 Timothy (pp. 22–28). Chicago: Moody Press.

[5] Köstenberger, A. (2006). 2 Timothy. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians–Philemon (Revised Edition) (Vol. 12, pp. 570–571). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

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