Affirm Your Doctrine
Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you. (1:13–14)
A seventh guard against being ashamed of Christ is affirming and holding onto right doctrine. Although our ultimate confidence is in Christ Himself, His truth is also of great importance. It is, in fact, absolutely required for faithful living as well as for certainty of our security. If we belong to Christ, we will be secure, but if we neglect His truth, our confidence in that security will wane. Many Christians, perhaps most, do not have the courage of their convictions simply because they have no clear convictions. Before you put your life on the line for what you believe, you must believe it.
During a radio interview some years ago, I said, “What is particularly tragic about the many scandals that plague evangelicalism today is the fact that so many churches, and so many individuals who call themselves Christian, have little concern for biblical truth and biblical standards of living. In the name of love, understanding, and peace within the church and with society, almost any theology is accepted, or at least not challenged, no matter how much it may contradict Scripture.”
Much of the professing church is atheological, that is, without any significant theological convictions. Like the world around them, many people who go by the name of Christ believe that to hold and teach absolute doctrines is to be unloving, antagonistic, and even “unchristian.” They fit Paul’s description of those in the last days who “will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths” (2 Tim. 4:3–4). When you examine those today who deride doctrine, you discover they are also like those in the last days who Paul says “will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God; holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power.… [They are] always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim. 3:2–5, 7). Sound doctrine leads to holy living, and the absence of it to unholy living.
Standard translates hupotupōsis, which was used of a writer’s outline or an artist’s rough sketch, which set the guidelines and standards for the finished work. The Christian’s standard is God’s Word, which encompasses the sound words which you have heard from me [Paul], an apostle of Jesus Christ. In Scripture we have God’s own truth and standards, all we need or should want to have. It is the only divinely inspired, divinely revealed, absolute, unique, perfect, and sufficient truth. In it is found everything necessary for salvation and for living out the saved life. Later in this letter Paul commends Timothy, saying, “From childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:15–17).
Courage in Christian ministry, as well as in Christian living in general, is not possible apart from strong biblical convictions. But Paul gives necessary balance to his counsel. Strong convictions are to be held and taught in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. When we defend God’s Word in a self-righteous, unloving spirit, the resulting controversy and opposition are not caused wholly by the offense of the truth itself but also by the offensive and unspiritual way in which we proclaim it. We are to defend God’s Word in the faith, that is, with the right attitude of confidence toward God; and we are to defend it in love, with the right attitude of kindness and compassion toward unbelievers and toward poorly taught and immature believers. “Speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ” (Eph. 4:15). Although we must not have a doubting or a dead orthodoxy, neither should we have a loveless, cold, and insensitive orthodoxy.
The Holy Spirit’s indwelling all believers is a cardinal New Testament doctrine. Shortly before His crucifixion, Jesus promised the disciples, “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth” (John 14:16–17). Immediately before His ascension He promised again, “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth” (Acts 1:8). “You are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you,” Paul declared in his Roman letter. “But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him” (Rom. 8:9). He rhetorically asked Corinthian believers, “Do you not know that you are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Cor. 3:16; cf. 6:19).
Therefore, just as God has power to guard what we have entrusted to Him (v. 12), He also gives us power to guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which He has entrusted to us. Theologians would say this depicts both sides of our security, the keeping power of God and the Spirit-energized perseverance of the saints. At the close of the previous letter, Paul gave a similar command: “O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you,” specifically warning him to avoid “worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called ‘knowledge’ ” (1 Tim. 6:20).
The deposit of our lives with God is secure. The question is, How secure is His deposit of truth with us? Christian colleges, seminaries, pastors, and other church leaders who deviate from Scripture, defecting to “a different gospel” and wanting “to distort the gospel of Christ” (Gal. 1:6–7), will face a dreadful day of reckoning before God. The most solemn responsibility that any believer has, especially those the Lord has called to be preachers and teachers, is to uphold and defend the integrity of His Word.
14 Timothy is to “guard” (phylassō, GK 5875; cf. 1 Ti 5:21; 6:20; 2 Ti 4:15) this deposit from loss or damage with the help of the indwelling (enoikeō, GK 1940; God: 2 Co 6:16; Christ: Col 3:16; Spirit: Ro 8:11; faith: 2 Ti 1:5) Holy Spirit (cf. Tit 3:15), just as God will guard the deposit of Paul’s life for the day of judgment (v. 12). Human effort is urged, therefore, in reliance on divine enablement. Once again, this charge implies the need to defend the apostolic gospel against heretical threats. Paul’s exhortation, which began in v. 6, has come full circle.
13–14 This model of Paul’s faithfulness and confidence in God provides the final step in the sequence, which began in v. 6, leading to the call to Timothy to continue the Pauline mission. To rehearse the sequence, Paul began with his convictions about Timothy’s sincere faith in which they share an intimate relationship. This and their share in the Spirit of power led to the exhortation to boldness in witness and co-suffering for the gospel. This gospel, which binds the two together, was then articulated, and Paul’s calling and confidence in God’s vindication are linked to it. But at v. 12 it becomes clear that Paul is not simply calling Timothy to a renewal of previous duties; he is rather preparing Timothy to be his successor in the mission. This call now culminates in two verbs of command that outline Timothy’s task in terms of faithfulness to the Pauline gospel and Christian behavior, and dependence upon the Holy Spirit for the ministry he is to inherit. The two verses, which are more or less parallel, combine most of the aspects of the exhortation that began at v. 6.
The first command takes up the matter of the message (v. 13a). Just as the apostle’s gospel has bound Timothy and Paul together to this point (vv. 9–10), it is to provide the organic link in the ongoing mission. This is the clear intent of the command “what you have heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching.” This statement weaves together three crucial strands. First, Paul describes his gospel (“from me”) with language that underscores both its spiritual health-giving effects and its distance from false gospels (see on 1 Tim 1:10; 6:3). Second, he presumes that Timothy has accepted and embraced it. His commission involves “keeping or maintaining” what he has embraced from the start (see on 1 Tim 1:19)
Third, the Greek word translated “pattern” describes a model, form, or standard (NRSV) that serves as a reliable guide. In 1 Tim 1:16 (see discussion) the term depicted Paul’s conversion as an “example” of God’s mercy. Although the context is different, that meaning applies in this occurrence as well. The message Timothy is to adhere to in his preaching is the one Paul himself proclaimed. The continuity between Paul’s ministry and Timothy’s (and those who will follow; cf. 2:1–2 which uses the same language) is underscored in the phrase “which you heard from me.” It is precisely this apostolic continuity that ensures the purity of the message on into the next generation. The liturgical poem of vv. 9–10 illustrates the contents, as do the rest of the theological pieces in these letters to Timothy.
Raising a minor point of interpretation will reinforce further the sense of the unity of the mission begun by Paul and to be continued by Timothy. A comparison of the TNIV (“What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching”) and the NRSV (“Hold to the standard of sound teaching that you have heard from me”) shows how the word “standard” may be taken differently in relation to the verb of command. Although there may seem to be little difference, the grammar, which favors the NRSV rendering (see also GNB), accentuates the command’s stress on adherence to an established tradition—Paul does not have in mind his message as a general pattern, but, in this context of false teaching, the main point is the specific standard of accuracy his words represent. As indicated, the shadow cast by the false teaching lies behind the description of Paul’s message as “sound words” (cf. 4:3). Consequently, maintaining the Pauline form and nature of the gospel has become Timothy’s obligation.
But this task is not one to be carried out in a detached, academic manner. The command next takes up the matter of the messenger. The following prepositional phrase, “with faith and love in Christ Jesus” (v. 13b), outlines the manner in which Timothy is to fulfill his mission. “Faith and love” serve as an abbreviation for the authentic life of faith, combining into a unity the dimensions of one’s relationship to God and the lifestyle of service produced by that faith-relationship (see on 1 Tim 1:4, 14). In short, for Timothy to “keep” the apostolic message and proclaim it he must at the same time pay careful attention to his own faith in Christ.
Parallel to the first command is the second, v. 14, which reformulates the call in terms of succession. Timothy is to “guard the good deposit.” Virtually the same command is given in 1 Tim 6:20 (see discussion). In this case, the repetition of the term parathēkē (“deposit”), which in v. 12 described the gospel (and ministry) that Paul entrusted to God, reveals the continuity between the ministry Timothy is taking up and the one Paul is relinquishing. There is no substantive difference between “sound teaching [words]” (v. 13) and “good deposit”; the latter term (as we saw in the case of Paul) simply views the gospel from the perspective of a trust to be kept and, in the context of the commissioning sequence, emphasizes the transmission of Paul’s operation to the coworker. The addition of the adjective “good” is undoubtedly occasioned by the desire to preserve a balance with the description of the gospel in v. 13. Just as “sound” contrasts Paul’s teaching with the opposing message, “good” signifies God’s endorsement of what has been entrusted to Timothy.
The final phrase of v. 14 closes the entire calling sequence by spelling out the means by which “guarding” is to be done—the agency of the Holy Spirit. He is said here to “live in us.” There are several things to notice. First, this is the continuation of the theme, initiated in vv. 6–7, of the gift of the Spirit and the enablement he provides believers. Second, reference to the Spirit at this point forms an inclusio that brackets the passage and underlines one of the major themes. Third, this statement parallels what was said about God’s ability to “guard the deposit,” though in this case the power of God is described as that which believers experience through the Holy Spirit’s “indwelling.” Thus an important principle, which surfaced first in v. 7, then in v. 12, reappears here: it is God himself who ensures the success of his mission.
But what this theme also indicates is that God will achieve that success in and through the cooperation of human agents. This cooperation is possible because of God’s presence with his people, which, in thoroughly Pauline thought and language, is described as the Holy Spirit indwelling us (see on 1:5; cf. 1 Cor 3:16). Moreover, this description of the experience of God’s presence in the Spirit applies to all believers, as does the teaching about the Holy Spirit above. There is no reason to limit the reference in “in us” exclusively to Paul and Timothy or to “ministers.”98 The application of the general truth is certainly to a specific situation, even an unusual situation—that of the handing over of the Pauline mission mandate to the successor. But the power for the work (and the lifestyle) is accessible to all believers, and the ministry we are all to be involved in is the same one initiated by Paul and continued by Timothy (cf. 2:1–2).
1:13–14 / In these final two verses Paul returns to the direct appeal to Timothy, but now with some slightly different nuances. The entreaty from verses 6–12 has been very personal and directly related to Paul’s present circumstances and his and Timothy’s personal relationship. But Paul has not forgotten the ongoing threat of the false teachers and the havoc they have been generating. The language of the two parallel imperatives of these verses indicates that they must be understood in this light (as v. 15 also seems to suggest).
The first imperative repeats the concern throughout the pe that Timothy keep as the pattern of sound teaching (see disc. on 1 Tim. 1:10). As always, the sound teaching is that which you heard from me (cf. 2:2, where the same wording appears; cf. also 3:10; 1 Tim. 4:6). Such a concern elsewhere always is expressed against the backdrop of the false teachers.
Although Paul’s intent in this sentence is clear enough, the actual wording is not (lit., “hold an example of sound words”). Probably this means that what Paul taught is to serve as a model for Timothy’s teaching (as most interpreters; but see the neb and Moffatt for alternatives).
The final prepositional phrase, faith and love in Christ Jesus, is likewise not altogether clear. It seems certain that Timothy’s faith (not the faith) and love are products of his being in Christ Jesus (see disc. on 1 Tim. 1:14; cf. Gal. 5:22). But how this phrase relates to the verb presents a more difficult problem. The sense seems to go something like this: “Let what you have learned from me serve as your model for sound teaching, but let it do so as you yourself also model faith [or faithfulness] and love.”
The final imperative, guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you, parallels verse 13, but now in the language of 1 Timothy 6:20 (which see). “Timothy,” Paul urges, “keep safe what I have deposited with you; it is a sacred trust.” Since what was entrusted is described as good, it almost certainly refers to the “sound teaching” of the gospel. He must not allow it to be purloined or eroded by the false teachings. But for such a charge, Timothy is not to think of himself as on his own. He is to fulfill his responsibilities with the help of the Holy Spirit (see v. 7) who lives in us.
Thus the appeal has come full circle. It began by urging that Timothy fan into flame his gift of ministry, which was his through the power of the Spirit (vv. 6–7). Then Paul urged loyalty to the gospel and to himself, even though now a prisoner. After detailing the gospel and Paul’s own loyalty to it, with emphasis on God’s sovereignty, he returns to urge once more loyalty to his (Timothy’s) own ministry and to the gospel; and again he is to do so with the help of the Spirit. From here Paul will turn to some examples of disloyalty and of one who was especially loyal (to Paul in his imprisonment).
1:14. Guard the good deposit that has been entrusted to you, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in you.
Paul gives a final command to Timothy as he brings this section to a close. The language of the ‘deposit that has been entrusted to’ him is the same as that in verse 12 (‘… what I have entrusted to him’). As God guards Paul’s deposit, so Timothy too is to ‘guard’ something. Paul has already given Timothy almost the exact same command in 1 Timothy 6:20 (see comments on that passage). Here, however, he adds that what has been entrusted to Timothy is ‘good’. What has been entrusted to Timothy is almost certainly the ‘sound words’ of the gospel referred to in verse 13, perhaps as standing for the sum total of Timothy’s ministry. The gospel, and Timothy’s ministry in the gospel, is ‘good’ in the sense of being excellent, noble, praiseworthy. The gospel is pure and right and holy. Wicked men can distort it. The church’s task is to guard it, preserving its beauty and integrity.
No one can do this in his own strength, so Paul concludes this verse by emphasizing that Timothy is to carry out his work ‘through the Holy Spirit who dwells in you’. In verse 13, he pointed to Timothy’s union with Christ. Now he emphasizes the presence of the indwelling Spirit. It is only through the Spirit, and by reliance on his power, that servants of Christ can faithfully carry out their task.
14. Keep the excellent thing committed to thee. This exhortation is more extensive than the preceding. He exhorts Timothy to consider what God has given to him, and to bestow care and application in proportion to the high value of that which has been committed; for, when the thing is of little value, we are not wont to call any one to so strict an account.
By “that which hath been committed,” I understand him to mean both the honour of the ministry and all the gifts with which Timothy was endued. Some limit it to the ministry alone; but I think that it denotes chiefly the qualifications for the ministry, that is, all the gifts of the Spirit, in which he excelled. The word “committed” is employed also for another reason, to remind Timothy that he must, one day, render an account; for we ought to administer faithfully what God has committed to us.
Τὸ καλόν denotes that which is of high or singular value; and, therefore, Erasmus has happily translated it (egregium) “excellent,” for the sake of denoting its rare worth. I have followed that version. But what is the method of keeping it? It is this. We must beware lest we lose by our indolence what God has bestowed upon us, or lest it be taken away, because we have been ungrateful or have abused it; for there are many who reject the grace of God, and many who, after having received it, deprive themselves of it altogether. Yet because the difficulty of keeping it is beyond our strength, he therefore adds,—
By the Holy Spirit. As if he had said, “I do ask from thee more than thou canst, for what thou hast not from thyself the Spirit of God will supply to thee.” Hence it follows, that we must not judge of the strength of men from the commandments of God; because, as he commands by words, so he likewise engraves his words on our hearts, and, by communicating strength, causes that his command shall not be in vain.
Who dwelleth in us. By this he means, that the assistance of the Holy Spirit is present to believers, provided that they do not reject it when it is offered to them.
14. This verse is an amplification of the last with special emphasis on guarding the good deposit. We have noted above that the same word is used as in verse 12 but whereas in the former case the deposit is kept safe in God’s hands, here Timothy himself must guarantee its security. Although the human element is more stressed, it is immediately recognized that Timothy unaided could never achieve it. It can come only with the help of the Holy Spirit (dia pneumatos hagiou). The Spirit is the one who lives in us (for the idea of indwelling, see note on verse 5). Paul states in Romans 8:9–11 that the Spirit dwells in every Christian, but a special endowment is given to those set apart for specific tasks, closely akin to the primitive charismata (spiritual gifts) mentioned in 1 Corinthians.
There is no support in these verses for the Roman Catholic doctrine of the ministry as the custodian of the church’s traditions (cf. Spicq), for the words in us need not mean, as is widely supposed, that Paul and Timothy are alone intended. The indwelling Spirit performs the same function in every Christian, although the degree of operation varies with the work done. This is very different from the view that a hint of a later doctrine of the Spirit is there to be found (cf. Scott). Even many who deny Pauline authorship recognize here a genuine Pauline concept (cf. Hanson). It is better to assume the words to mean that since the deposit must be faithfully guarded, any man without the aid of the Holy Spirit is attempting the impossible. But although the Spirit of God dwells in Christians generally, he may certainly be depended on to give gifts of power to ministers set apart from the work of the gospel.
Ver. 14. That good thing which was committed unto thee.—
The sacred trust:—
- The charge,—the truth, the Word of God, which—1. Unfolds the true God. 2. Proclaims life and salvation through the Redeemer. 3. Brings life and immortality to light.
- The duty. We should have—1. A correct knowledge of the Word. 2. A devoted attachment to it. 3. A desire to preserve it in its integrity. 4. A willingness to communicate it freely to others. 5. An abiding sense of its responsibility.
III. The assistance. 1. Our necessities are connected with the Holy Spirit’s ability. 2. Rejoice in His readiness to help. (A. Reed, D.D.)
Good things:—Here are those reprehended who never had any care to possess these worthy things. Nothing in man, or out of him, that is of greater worth, and nothing less regarded. We do count that person blessed that hath his house hung with rich arras, his chests full of gold, and his barns stuffed with corn; and yet we never have esteem of these excellent and rare things. Truly, the least degree of faith is more worth than all the gold of Ophir; a remnant of true love than all the gay garments in the world. Hope of heaven will more rejoice the heart of David than his sceptre and kingdom. But men do not think so, neither will they have it so; yet the day of death, like an equal balance, shall declare it to be so. Are they worthy things? Then put them to the best uses, and abuse them not. And, in the last place, seeing these be worthy things, let us all labour to possess them; for of how much more value a thing is, by so much the more we should strive to obtain it. (J. Barlow, D.D.)
Grace once gotten is to be preserved:—Because, if grace grow weak, the pattern will not be practised. When all the parts of the natural body be in a consumption, can we walk and work in the duties of our particular callings? And if the new man wax pale, and pine away, the paths of God’s commands will not be run or trodden. For, as all natural actions proceed from the body’s strength, and the purest spirit, so do all spiritual from the vigour of grace and the new man. When men have got some competency of wealth, they lie long in bed, and will not up to work, and so their riches waste. In like manner it falleth out with God’s children; for when they have attained to some competency of gifts, they are highly conceited, grow idle, neglect the means, and so are over taken with spiritual poverty, than the which what greater loss? We must then learn here, not only to get grace, but to keep it. We will mourn if we lose our money, grieve if we be deprived of our corn, natural strength and earthly commodities. And shall the loss of grace never pinch us, pierce us? Shall Jonah be so dejected for his gourd, and we never be moved when grace is withered, ready to perish? Shall the earthworm sigh at the loss of goods, and we never shrink at the shipwreck of heavenly gifts? No greater damage than this, none less regarded, more insensible. Let our plants begin to pine, our hair wax grey or fall, it will make some impression. But grace may decay, the spirit faint, and few be wounded in heart. Yet to such a time shall come of great mourning. Then get grace, keep grace; so shall corruption be expelled, extenuated, and the pattern of sound words observed, practised. (Ibid.)
The Holy Spirit dwells in man:—But He is infinite, therefore in all persons. True, yet He is in the faithful in a peculiar and special manner, both by His working and presence. Secondly, He is incomprehensible, notwithstanding, as we may say the sun is in the house, though a part of the beams be but there; so the Spirit is said to be in man, although He be not wholly included in him. We account it a fearful thing to pull down or batter a prince’s palace, it is death to wash or clip the king’s coin, and shall we not tremble to wrong and injure this building, for such cannot escape the damnation of hell. This is for the comfort of the faithful. For what greater honour than this, to have the high God to dwell in our hearts? Should our sovereign but come into a poor man’s cottage, he would rejoice, and good reason, for that all his life long. And shall the King of Glory dwell with the sons of men, make His chamber of presence in their hearts, and they want hearts to solace themselves in the remembrance of that? And here let man learn a lesson and wonder. Is it the spirit of God in Paul and others, where the spirit of all uncleanness not long before ruled? Admire His humility that would descend so low as to dwell in so mean a habitation. He that dwells in that light that none can attain unto, now dwelleth where was a palpable darkness. Thirdly, where He takes up His lodging there is holiness. This fire purifieth the heart, cleanseth the inward man, though never so full of filthiness in former time (1 Cor. 6:11; Ephes. 5:18). Thou wilt say, Sir, by what way may I come to this thing? Why, thou must get a new heart, for He will never lodge in the old, for that’s naught. (Ibid.)
The indwelling of the Holy Spirit:—
- The author of life. 1. Before He dwells in us He quickens us (Eph. 2:1; John 3:5, 6; 6:63). 2. Believers are temples of the Holy Ghost (1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19; 2 Cor. 6:16). 3. True of all believers (Rom. 8:9). 4. Christ’s promise respecting it (John 14:16, 17).
- The source of unity. 1. His indwelling makes that unity a fact (Eph. 4:4; 1 Cor. 6:17; 12:13–20). 2. That fact to be recognised and cherished (Eph. 4:3). 3. One building inhabited by one Spirit (Eph. 2:22.)
III. The pledge of glory. 1. The salvation bestowed and the salvation yet to be revealed. Grace and glory (2 Tim. 1:9; 1 Pet. 1:5; Psa. 84:2). 2. The indwelling Spirit the earnest of our inheritance (2 Cor. 1:22; 5:5; Eph. 1:14). 3. Recognise His presence. 4. Honour and obey Him (Eph. 4:30). (E. H. Hopkins.)
Real Christianity:—The providence of God requires all Christians and all Churches to show what Christianity really is. Christianity is a larger and better thing than Christendom yet knows. Still the Holy Spirit dwells in the apostolic succession of the whole true Church of Christ, showing it what the things of Christ are, and helping it realise them in Christianity. How, then, are we to understand what the Christianity is, which we are still called to make real on earth?
- The Christianity which the world needs probably transcends any single definition of it which we shall be likely to give. Philosophers have tried many times to define the simple word “life,” and at best they have had only clumsy success with their definitions of what every one knows by his own healthy pulse-beatings. The definition is not made easier when we prefix the adjective Christian to the word “life.” If we labour to define in words so large and divine a reality as Christianity, we shall be sure to narrow it in our verbal enclosures, and we can hardly fail to leave whole realms of Christianity out when we have finished our fences of system and denomination.
- Christianity is a larger thing than any one particular aspect or exemplification of it which men may be tempted to put in the place of it. Christianity, as a whole, is greater than the parts of it which men have hastily seized upon, and contended for as the faith of the saints. Christianity is that good thing which all the Churches hold in common, and it is greater than all. The Christianity of Christ is that good thing committed unto us, which is large enough to comprehend all the ideals of Christian prophets, and prayers of devout hearts, as well as the works of faith which have been done on earth. It would be easy to illustrate from current life and literature the natural tendency of the human heart to substitute some favourite part of Christianity for the divine whole of it. And the unfortunate contentions and hindrances to the gospel which follow from this mistake are all around us. Thus one class of persons are called to benevolent works by the Divine charity of Christ, but in their zeal for man they may not realise sufficiently that the charity of God is the benevolence of universal law, and the Christ is the Life because He is also the Truth. Others, on the contrary, impressed by the order and grandeur of the truths of revelation, repeatedly fall into merely doctrinal definitions of Christianity; and, even while defending from supposed error the faith once delivered to the saints, they narrow that faith into a theological conception of Christianity which may have indeed much of the truth, but little of the Spirit of Christ.
III. Christianity is that good thing which we have received from Christ. In other words, Christianity is not a spirit merely, or idea, or influence, which we still call by the name of Christ, but which we may receive and even enhance without further reference to the historic Christ. Christianity is more than a spirit of the times, more than a memory of a life for men, more than a distillation in modern literature of the Sermon on the Mount, more than a fragrance of the purest of lives pervading history and grateful still to our refined moral sense. Jesus once said before the chief among the people, “I receive not honour from men”; and the patronage of culture cannot make for our wants and sins a Christ from the Father. Christianity is the direct continuation of the life and the work of Jesus of Nazareth in the world. Hence, it would be a vain expectation to imagine that the world can long retain the influence of Christ, the healing aroma of Christianity, and let the Jesus of the Gospels fade into a myth. Christianity, uprooted from its source in Divine facts of redemption, would be but as a cut flower, still pervading for a while our life with its charity, but another day even its perfume would have vanished. The Christianity of Christ is a living love.
- Christianity is a changed relationship of human souls to God through Christ. Go back to the beginning of Christianity to find out what it is. It began to exist on earth first upon the afternoon of a certain day when the last of the Hebrew prophets, looking upon Jesus as He walked, said, “Behold the Lamb of God.” And two of his disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. These men are now like new men in another world; in Christ’s presence all Divine things seem possible to them; they are changed from the centre and core of their being; they are verily born again, for they live henceforth lives as different from their former lives before they came to Christ as though they had actually died out of this world, and come back to it again with the memory in their hearts of a better world. After a few years in Jesus’ companionship, after all that they had witnessed of His death and resurrection, they are themselves as men belonging to another world, citizens of a better country, sojourning for a brief season here. “Old things are passed away,” says the last-born of the apostles; “Behold, all things are become new.” This, then, is Christianity—Peter, and John, and other men, living with Christ in a new relationship to God. It is a happy, hopeful, all-transfiguring relationship of human souls to God. Christ giving His Spirit to the disciples, disciples witnessing of the Christ—this, this is Christianity. What, then, is Christianity? It is, we say, the doctrine of Christ. What is the doctrine of Christ? Men sound in the faith; men made whole, men living according to Christ. The doctrine of Christ is not a word, or a system of words. It is not a book, or a collection of writings. He wrote His doctrine in the book of human life. He made men His Scriptures. His doctrine was the teaching of the living Spirit. The doctrine of Christ—lo! Peter, the tempestuous man, strong one moment and weak another, become now a man of steady hope, confessor, and martyr—he is the doctrine of Christ! The son of thunder become the apostle of love—he is the doctrine of Christ! The persecutor becomes one who dies daily for the salvation of the Gentiles—he is the doctrine of Christ!
- Christianity is the company of disciples in new relationship with one another, and towards all men, through Christ. The new redeemed society is Christianity. A man cannot be a Christian, at least not a whole Christian, by himself alone. To seek to live a Christian life by one’s self, in the secrecy of one’s own heart, is an endeavour foreign to the original genius of Christianity. Christianity, when it is finished, will be the best society gathered from all the ages, the perfect society of the kingdom of heaven. How can a man expect to fit himself for that blessed society by neglecting here and now to enter into the fellowship of believers who seek to prepare themselves for that final society of the Lord by meeting and breaking bread together at His table? To be a Christian, therefore, is to be actually a follower of Christ with His disciples. And to make real and not merely nominal work of it we shall need often with deliberate resolution to give ourselves up to our own faiths, to throw ourselves manfully upon their current, and to let them catch us up and bear us whither they will. (N. Smyth, D.D.)
A sufficient endowment:—“The influence of Mr. Moody is wonderful,” said a lady to her minister; “he is not intellectual, nor eloquent, nor learned, and his appearance is not prepossessing.” “Ah!” replied the minister, “but he has the Spirit of God in him.” “Yes,” she responded, “and that is all.” “All!” exclaimed the minister; “is not that everything?”
An essential provision of Christianity:—Is not this power of God, through the Holy Ghost, an essential provision of Christianity? Could the Word of God be “a living Word” without it? We can no more conceive of Christianity as destitute of this Divine influence than as destitute of Christ. We look upon the face of nature and perceive that all its external forms are based upon one common principle of life; and were this withdrawn all things must die. So in like manner, looking upon external Christianity—its doctrines, its Sabbaths, its worship, its points of holiness, joy, and moral excellence, produced in perfect uniformity in all ages and amongst all classes—we perceive that there must exist beneath the surface some uniform power; and what can this be but the power of God through His Holy Spirit? And this belongs to the system, is inherent, permanent, certain. By the impulses of this power the “Word of God” effects its glorious triumphs; and, when it is withdrawn, Christianity sinks into the condition of an empty form. (J. Dixon, D.D.)
Guard Sound Words (1:13–14)
Paul now returns his attention to Timothy: Keep holding onto a model of sound words which you heard from me in faith and love, the one in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit through the Holy Spirit, the one dwelling among us (1:13–14). The deposit is the sound or healthy words that Timothy heard from Paul himself (1:13). Paul exhorts Timothy to keep holding the model or pattern or standard of words that he received from Paul. Paul himself was a model or example of one aspect of the gospel message: Christ’s mercy toward sinners. These words or teachings promoted spiritual health (sound). In contrast, some people only want teaching that promotes disease (1 Tim 1:10; 2 Tim 4:3). True words themselves are health-inducing, but the listener must also receive the words in a receptive manner, in faith and love. Faith and love, already mentioned in this letter as exemplary virtues, are two key ingredients in healthy teaching. Those who are not receptive to health-inducing words may be attempting to alleviate their spiritual illnesses by superficial or harmful ways (2 Tim 4:3). Ultimately, however, the faith and love that enabled Timothy to hear Paul’s message came from Christ Jesus, who is exemplary of faithfulness and love.
The words Paul passed on to Timothy are not only “healthy,” they are also good and a deposit, entrusted for safekeeping (1:14). Even as Jesus guards Paul’s deposit, simultaneously Timothy needs to guard his deposit.60 Timothy received Paul’s sound teaching in (en) Christ Jesus’ faith and love (1:13). En basically signifies “within.” It is as if Timothy lived within the surrounding presence of Jesus. Simultaneously, Timothy is to guard his deposit through (dia) the Holy Spirit (1:14). The Holy Spirit as “the agent is conceived as coming in between the non-attainment and the attainment of the object in view.” Timothy is ultimately responsible to guard his deposit, but he needs to do so by means of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit can empower him to do the guarding.63 But how near is the Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit is very near, because the Holy Spirit is the one dwelling among us (1:14).
1:14 “Guard through the Holy Spirit” This is an AORIST ACTIVE IMPERATIVE. Note that believers must guard, but the Holy Spirit is the means and power by which it is done! See note at 1:12.
© “who dwells in us” This is a PRESENT ACTIVE PARTICIPLE. There is a fluidity between the work of the Spirit and the Son. G. Campbell Morgan said that the best name for the Spirit is “the other Jesus.” The following is an outline comparison of the work and titles of the Son and Spirit:
- Spirit called “Spirit of Jesus” or similar expression (cf. Rom. 8:9; 1 Cor. 15:45; 2 Cor. 3:17; Gal. 4:6; 1 Pet. 1:11).
- Both called by the same terms
(1) Jesus (John 14:6)
(2) Spirit (John 14:17; 16:13)
(1) Jesus (1 John 2:1)
(2) Spirit (John 14:16; 16:7)
- Both indwell believers
- Jesus (Matt. 28:20; John 14:20, 23; 15:4–5; Rom. 8:10; 2 Cor. 13:5; Gal. 2:20; Eph. 3:17; Col. 1:27)
- Spirit (John 14:16–17; Rom. 8:9, 11; 1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19; 2 Tim. 1:14)
- Father (John 14:23; 2 Cor. 6:16)
|“the treasure which has been entrusted to you”
|“that good thing which was committed to you”
|“the good treasure entrusted to you”
|“the good things that have been entrusted to you”
|“that precious thing given in trust”
This refers to something entrusted to another for safe keeping. This is possibly a word play on the term pistis, which is translated into English as belief, trust, or faith. Believers have entrusted their faith to God (cf. 1:12). God in turn has entrusted to them the gospel message (cf. 1 Tim. 6:20). Believers are stewards of the gospel message. We will one day give an account to Him (cf. 2 Cor. 5:10) on how we have handled this deposit of truth!
|NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 1:15–18
15 You are aware of the fact that all who are in Asia turned away from me, among whom are Phygelus and Hermogenes. 16 The Lord grant mercy to the house of Onesiphorus for he often refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chains; 17 but when he was in Rome, he eagerly searched for me, and found me—18 the Lord grant to him to find mercy from the Lord on that day—and you know very well what services he rendered at Ephesus.
14. Parallel with the thought just expressed is that contained in verse 14: That precious (or: excellent) thing which was entrusted to you guard through the Holy Spirit who dwells within us.
The “precious deposit” is, of course, the gospel, taken in its widest sense (see on 1 Tim. 6:20). It consists of “the sound words” which Timothy has heard from Paul (see the preceding verse). It is precious or excellent because it belongs to God and results in his glory through the salvation of those who accept it by sovereign grace (see verses 8–10 above). Again (as in 1 Tim. 6:20) Timothy is urged once for all to guard this deposit. He must defend it against every attack and never allow it to be changed or modified in the slightest degree.
But since the enemy is strong and Timothy is weak, Paul very wisely adds the thought that this guarding cannot be done except “through the Holy Spirit who dwells within us,” that is, within Paul, Timothy, all believers (Rom. 8:11).
Timothy, then, should hold on to the pure gospel, the sound doctrine, as Paul has always done.
Paul’s Charge to Timothy (1:13–14)
Supporting Idea: Having laid the groundwork of God’s purpose and faithfulness, Paul handed to Timothy a solemn charge of ministry.
1:13–14. A sense of urgency filters through Paul’s words as he focused on Timothy and pleaded, what you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching. Once again, Paul pressed home a familiar theme. The true gospel is founded upon the prophets, the words of Jesus, and apostolic teaching. Acutely aware of the damage inflicted by false teachers, Paul returned to the need for orthodoxy as revealed through Christ to Paul. It is this pure doctrine which is the pattern of sound teaching.
The word translated “sound” comes from the Greek hugies, used in the Gospels to describe the healing of the sick by Jesus. Paul used the word to distinguish apostolic doctrine from false doctrine. Truth produces health; it results in right thinking and godly behavior.
Paul did not prescribe intellectualism, the building of theological structures for their own sake. Truth is meant for life, and it is to be dispensed with faith and love in Christ Jesus. What we proclaim must be matched by our lives. If we are to guide people to Christ, we must hold a sincere trust in our Lord. Equally, our lives must be distinguished by love, divine in strength and giving. Both faith and love should be centered in Jesus.
Paul’s words reverberate with his awareness that death was drawing closer. He was anxious that Timothy comprehend the importance and urgency of following through with his instructions. He told him to guard the apostolic revelation: the good deposit that was entrusted to you.
Each generation is so charged, for the gospel must be presevered in purity. We must protect it from destructive teachings. It is a serious responsibility, for we handle the very words of God. But we must also admit our inability to fulfill so noble a task. This is why Timothy and all Christians must guard Christ’s gospel with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us. Paul again reminded us of this wonderful gift of God, this person of his Spirit who enables us to perform what God calls us to do.
This is a great picture of the Christian life and responsibility. God grants to us his gifts of grace and his Spirit of life—gifts freely given as we trust Jesus Christ as Savior. Our responsibility is to respond with obedient trust, not to gain salvation, but to express love, and to fulfill the calling of God upon our lives (Eph. 4:1).
Paul describes this interaction of giftedness and responsibility in Philippians. There he says to “work out your salvation” (Phil. 2:12) with a sense of respect and fear, not to gain salvation, but to flesh it out, to work out in our life the implications of being saved. Then the promise is given, “it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose” (Phil. 2:13).
Thus, we have personal responsibility before God but the promise of strength and provision by his Spirit as well. We are not alone.
 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1995). 2 Timothy (pp. 29–31). Chicago: Moody Press.
 Köstenberger, A. (2006). 2 Timothy. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians–Philemon (Revised Edition) (Vol. 12, p. 571). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
 Towner, P. H. (2006). The Letters to Timothy and Titus (pp. 476–480). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
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