Consider Your Resources
For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline. (1:7)
A second means for guarding against being ashamed of Christ is to consider our divine resources. The Greek verb (didōmi) behind has not given is in the aorist active indicative tense, showing past completed action. God already has provided for us the resources.
The Lord may withhold special help until we have special need. Jesus told the Twelve, “When they deliver you up, do not become anxious about how or what you will speak; for it shall be given you in that hour what you are to speak. For it is not you who speak, but it is the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you” (Matt. 10:19–20). But God provided everything we need for everyday faithful living and service when we first believed.
From a negative perspective, we can be sure that any spirit of timidity we might have is not from God. Both testaments speak of a fitting and proper fear of God, in the sense of awe and reverence. But deilia is a timid, cowardly, shameful fear that is generated by weak, selfish character. The Lord is never responsible for our cowardice, our lack of confidence, or our being shameful of Him. The noun deilia (timidity) is used only here in the New Testament and, unlike the more common term for fear (phobos), carries a generally negative meaning.
The resources we have from our heavenly Father are power and love and discipline. When we are vacillating and apprehensive, we can be sure it is because our focus is on ourselves and our own human resources rather than on the Lord and His available divine resources.
Dunamis (power) denotes great force, or energy, and is the term from which we get dynamic and dynamite. It also carries the connotation of effective, productive energy, rather than that which is raw and unbridled. God provides us with His power in order for us to be effective in His service. Paul did not pray that believers in Ephesus might be given divine power but that they might be aware of the divine power they already possessed. “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened,” he wrote, “so that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places” (Eph. 1:18–20). Through Christ we have the resource of God’s own supernatural power, the very power He used to raise Christ from the dead.
Although Old Testament saints were not indwelt by the Holy Spirit in the same degree of fullness that New Testament believers are (cf. John 14:17), they did have the resource of God’s Spirit providing divine help as they lived and served Him. They understood, as Zechariah declared to Zerubbabel, that their strength was not by human “ ‘might nor … power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts” (Zech. 4:6).
It is of utmost importance to understand that God does not provide His power for us to misappropriate for our own purposes. He provides His power to accomplish His purposes through us. When our trust is only in Him, and our desire is only to serve Him, He is both willing and “able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us” (Eph. 3:20).
God also has given every believer the resource of His own divine love, which, like His power, we received at the time of our new birth. In his letter to the church at Rome, Paul exulted, “The love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Rom. 5:5).
The love we have from God is agapē, the volitional and selfless love that desires and works for the best interests of the one loved. It is not emotional and conditional, as philos love often is, and has nothing in common with erōs love, which is sensual and selfish. The love we have from God is constant. It does not share the ebb and flow or the unpredictability of those other loves. It is a self-denying grace that says to others, in effect, “I will give myself away on your behalf.” Directed back to God, from whom it came, it says, “I will give my life and everything I have to serve you.” It is the believer’s “love in the Spirit” (Col. 1:8), the divinely-bestowed love of the one who will “lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). It is the “sincere love of the brethren” by which we “fervently love one another from the heart” (1 Peter 1:22), the “perfect love [that] casts out fear” (1 John 4:18). It is the love that affirms without reservation or hesitation: “If we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s” (Rom. 14:8). Above all, it is “the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge” (Eph. 3:19).
Our spiritual lives are measured accurately by our love. If our first love is for self, our life will center on seeking our own welfare, our own objectives, our own comfort and success. We will not sacrifice ourselves for others or even for the Lord. But if we love with the love God provides, our life will center on pleasing Him and on seeking the welfare of others, especially other Christians. Godly love is the first fruit of the Spirit, and it is manifested when we “live by the Spirit [and] … walk by the Spirit” (Gal. 5:22, 25).
Sōphronismos (discipline) has the literal meaning of a secure and sound mind, but it also carries the additional idea of a self-controlled, disciplined, and properly prioritized mind. God-given discipline allows believers to control every element of their lives, whether positive or negative. It allows them to experience success without becoming proud and to suffer failure without becoming bitter or hopeless. The disciplined life is the divinely ordered life, in which godly wisdom is applied to every situation.
In his letter to the church at Rome, Paul uses the verb form of the term, admonishing, “I say to every man among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment [sōphrone], as God has allotted to each a measure of faith” (Rom. 12:3). In his first letter to Timothy (3:2) and in his letter to Titus (1:8; cf. 2:2), he used the adjective form to describe a key quality that should characterize overseers, namely, that of being prudent and sensible.
When we live by the godly discipline that our gracious Lord supplies, our priorities are placed in the right order, and every aspect of our lives is devoted to advancing the cause of Christ. Because of his Spirit-empowered discipline, Paul could say, “I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I buffet my body and make it my slave, lest possibly, after I have preached to others, I myself should be disqualified” (1 Cor. 9:26–27).
The great spiritual triumvirate of power, love, and discipline belong to every believer. These are not natural endowments. We are not born with them, and they cannot be learned in a classroom or developed from experience. They are not the result of heritage or environment or instruction. But all believers possess these marvelous, God-given endowments: power, to be effective in His service; love, to have the right attitude toward Him and others; and discipline, to focus and apply every part of our lives according to His will.
When those endowments are all present, marvelous results occur. No better statement affirming this reality can be found than in Paul’s letter to the church at Ephesus, to whom he said,
For this reason, I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man; so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen. (Eph. 3:14–21; emphasis added)
7 In order to strengthen the admonition, Paul adds to his acknowledgment of Timothy’s genuine faith a theological reason for stepping back into action. This reason (“for”; gar) is to be found in the recollection of a theology of the Holy Spirit. The language of this verse is very similar to Rom 8:15:
Rom 8:15—[For] the Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship.
2 Tim 1:7—For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.
Although the texts are not identical, the latter text must be understood as a conscious echo of the earlier teaching about the Spirit. The text is reshaped to meet the present need. In this ministry context, Paul transposes the concern expressed in Romans for enslavement to the law (douleias) to timidity (deilias) in the face of opposition. But the intentional shift to a near homophone at the same time opens the door to another echo—this time of the command spoken by the Lord in the commissioning of Joshua:
Joshua 1:9—I have commanded thee; be strong and courageous, be not cowardly [deiliasēs] nor fearful, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go (cf. 8:1).
The verbal echo, if present, is admittedly faint. But the tone, narrative setting and intention of the instructions create a plausible match. The effect would be to call on the image of Joshua, who in his commissioning was urged to be strong and courageous and not timid because God would be present. In the Pauline adaptation of the OT promise, Timothy, by virtue of the Spirit in him, can count on the same protective presence of God.
In the end, both the connection to Rom 8:15 and the present language itself make clear that it is God’s gift of the Holy Spirit, and qualities associated with this gift, that provides the reason Paul’s logic requires.22 First, the echoing of Romans reveals that the intended backdrop to this teaching is Paul’s fundamental teaching about the Spirit and Christian identity—possession of this gift ensures and confirms adoption into God’s family (Rom 8:14–17). Corresponding to this is the general description of the recipients of this gift as “us,” which is most probably a reference to all believers. Further, the qualities ascribed to the Spirit’s presence—“power, love, self-discipline”—are not the type we would normally limit to a discussion of church office or ministering gifts, though here they are applied to the task confronting Timothy. Consequently, as Paul initiates this opening exhortation concerning Timothy’s return to ministry, his basis is the fact that Timothy possesses the Spirit that God promised to give to his people.
The description of the Spirit consists of contrasting negative and positive qualities. Presumably, the negative trait that stands in contradiction to the Spirit, “timidity, or cowardice” does in some sense describe Timothy’s situation. The context implies that this weakness has revealed itself in a reluctance to stand openly for the gospel and for Paul, its imprisoned spokesman. While Timothy may have been predisposed to fearfulness (1 Cor 16:10), even a modest reconstruction of the turbulent church situation depicted in 1 and 2 Timothy gives enough reason for his reluctance. Opposition to Paul’s gospel and rejection of his authority are evident from the over-realized doctrine of the resurrection identified in 2:17–18. If the letter reflects the continuation and growth of problems with false teachers addressed by 1 Timothy, then it is not hard to imagine Timothy, feeling outnumbered and outmaneuvered with his own delegated authority in doubt, cowering in the face of threats and Paul’s declining reputation. “Timidity” parallels the following admonition “do not be ashamed” (v. 8). Timothy’s confidence and courage to stand for the gospel had received a hard blow.
In contrast, three positive qualities characterize the presence of the Holy Spirit. The first is “power.” This particular quality is central to this entire discussion of Timothy’s renewal for ministry (1:8, 12; 2:1). It is a basic characteristic of God (e.g. Josh 4:24; 5:14), and it is so intrinsic to the understanding of the Spirit that it is almost a tautology to speak, as Paul does here literally, of the “Spirit of power.” There is no need to narrow the meaning down to any particular manifestation of power in this passage; what is essential is to note the link between the supply of God’s power and the experience of sufficient boldness for ministry. In this context “power” is linked to witness and willingness to undergo suffering (1:8).
The second mark of the Spirit is “love” (1:13; 2:22; 3:10; see on 1 Tim 1:5). This is one of several components characteristic of authentic Christian existence as portrayed in these letters that Timothy is especially to pursue and exhibit. It often occurs alongside “faith,” identifying the observable dimension of Christianity as service to others done in the power of the Spirit (cf. Gal 5:6; 22–23; 1 Tim 2:15 note).
Third in the list is a quality that can be viewed from several perspectives as either “self-discipline,” “self-control,” “discretion,” “moderation,” or “prudence.” The word group to which this term belongs is also integral to the interpretation of the Christian life in these three letters, and it was a dominant feature in secular ethical thought (see 1 Tim 2:9 Excursus). It depicts the self-control over one’s actions and thoughts that prevents rash behavior and aids balanced assessment of situations. In this context, it would apply to Timothy’s appraisal of the situation of opposition and confrontation and allow him the clarity of thought necessary to trust in the invisible God despite the threats of very visible opponents.
Paul’s logic in vv. 6–7 seems to develop as follows. Reference to “the gift” conveyed in some sense to Timothy by the laying on of the apostle’s hands (v. 6) is interpreted, almost doctrinally with the allusion to Romans, in terms of the gift of Holy Spirit “given” by God to all believers at conversion (v. 7). The reflection/reminiscence seems to be of Timothy’s conversion (or of Paul’s confirmation of it) when he received the Holy Spirit and his commission to join the mission to the Gentiles. An additional allusion to the Joshua commissioning would reinforce the reminder of Spirit-power and courage. The present exhortation calls Timothy to renew his dependence upon the Spirit in him (v. 6), whose presence means “power” for the challenges of the task at hand (v. 7). This “power” will assume the manifestation appropriate for the situation.
1:7 / Although the niv’s translation of “spirit” in this verse with a lower case s is possible (since the definite article is absent in Greek) and follows the traditional English versions (kjv, rsv), it is most highly improbable and quite misses both the relationship of this sentence to verse 6 as well as Paul’s own usage and theology elsewhere. That Paul is referring not to some “spirit” (or attitude) that God has given us (him and Timothy, but ultimately all other believers who must equally persevere in the face of hardship), but to the Holy Spirit of God is made certain by several items: (a) the explanatory for that begins this sentence gives it the closest possible tie to verse 6; (b) the close relationship between charisma (“gift,” v. 6) and the Spirit (v. 7) is thoroughly Pauline (see on 1 Tim. 4:14); (c) the words power and love are especially attributed to the Spirit in Paul; and (d) there are close ties between this verse and 1 Timothy 4:14, where the “gifting” of Timothy is specifically singled out as the work of the Spirit.
Furthermore, the typical Pauline “not … but” contrast, especially the parallels in Romans 8:15 and 1 Corinthians 2:12, is determinative. In each case the difficulty arises from Paul’s first mentioning the negative contrast, which does not in fact fit the Holy Spirit very well (“of slavery,” “of the world,” and “of timidity”). But it is equally clear in each case that when Paul gets to the “but” clause, he intends the Holy Spirit. Thus Paul’s intent goes something like this: “For when God gave us his Spirit, it was not timidity that we received, but power, love, and self-discipline.”
Paul’s concern, of course, ties into what he has just said in verse 6. In light of the appeal to persevere in the face of hardship, he urges Timothy to “fan into flame the charisma from God,” namely, his giftedness for ministry. The basis for this appeal goes back to his original gift of the Spirit, given at conversion. In giving his Spirit to Timothy, God did not give him timidity—a translation that is probably too weak. The word, often appearing in battle contexts, suggests “cowardice” or the terror that overtakes the fearful in extreme difficulty (cf. Lev. 26:36; 2 Macc. 3:24). It is a particularly appropriate choice of words for this letter, given Timothy’s apparent natural proclivities and the suffering and hardship now facing him.
To the contrary, and in the face of present hardships, Paul reminds Timothy that the Spirit has endowed him with power (a thoroughgoing nt and Pauline understanding; cf. e.g., Acts 1:8; Rom. 15:13, 19; 1 Cor. 2:4), love (cf. Gal. 5:22; Rom. 5:5), and self-discipline (sōphronismos; a different word for “self-discipline” from that of Gal. 5:23). This is a cognate, and here probably a synonym, for the “soundmindedness” of Titus 2:2, 5, and elsewhere. In all likelihood Paul intended to call for a “wise head” in the face of the deceptive and unhealthy teaching of the errorists.
Thus Paul begins his appeal by reminding Timothy of his own “gift of the Spirit” for ministry, who in turn has given him the necessary power, love, and soundmindedness to carry out that ministry.
1:7. Having confirmed that Timothy possessed this great gift of God’s grace, his own Spirit, Paul pointed Timothy toward the boldness that should belong to every believer: For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.
Timothy, many interpreters surmise, was a man of quiet disposition—a retiring, timid individual who had been thrust into a leadership role for which he had no predilection. The battle against the false teachers was strenuous, leaving Timothy weary, perhaps even questioning what he was doing. It is possible that he was overwhelmed by these circumstances.
But Paul countered our natural tendencies and excuses by directing us to consider this great gift which we all possess—the Spirit of God. Our natural abilities can only supplement what God calls us to do. The important consideration in all of life’s challenges and duties is to remember that God’s Spirit resides within us. He is the giver of power, love, and self-discipline.
Power is simply enablement to do what God requires. We are never asked to do anything beyond what God gives strength and ability to accomplish. Love is expressed first to God, then to others. It is the distinguishing quality of Christians, this unnatural love, and it comes only as we allow the life of God’s Spirit to live through us.
Self-discipline denotes careful, sensible thinking. It is the ability to think clearly with the wisdom and understanding that God imparts. Fear is a driving force in society today. It is the main subject of the evening news, the underlying premise of advertising and marketing. Fear often spawns confused thinking, irrationalities, and misunderstandings. Thoughts and speculations swirl in our mind when fear enters. This is why Christ calls us to healthy, orderly thought processes.
Perhaps we can look at life and realize our need for God’s power (dunamis). We need the “dynamite” of God’s strength in our daily living, to endure and make wise choices, to live in patience, producing goodness (Col. 1:9–14).
 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1995). 2 Timothy (pp. 17–20). Chicago: Moody Press.
 Towner, P. H. (2006). The Letters to Timothy and Titus (pp. 460–463). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
 Fee, G. D. (2011). 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus (pp. 226–227). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.
 Larson, K. (2000). I & II Thessalonians, I & II Timothy, Titus, Philemon (Vol. 9, pp. 266–267). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.