2 Timothy 2:1-7
Paul begins this section with an odd juxtaposition. On the one hand, he exhorts Timothy to be strong in the grace of God. On the other hand, he likens the Christian life to the labor of a solider, athlete, and farmer. At first glance, God’s grace might seem to cancel out the notion of hard work, but under closer examination one presupposes the other.
According to Paul’s framework, God’s grace produces a life that is able to endure hardships (2:3), live according to rules (2:5), and works faithfully (2:6). In other words, that a person is able to live their lives in such a manner presupposes God’s great grace or that a person is strong in grace. Talk of grace that is devoid of the qualities that grace produces is no grace at all. It must be judged as mere sentimentality.
In light of the connection between grace and labor, a few points are noteworthy. First, it takes great effort to be a Christian. By implication, we can say that it takes great effort to create Christian community and sometimes you need to fight, labor, and endure to make things beautiful. In fact, this is one of Paul’s main points throughout his letter to Timothy. Second, it should not surprise us that at times the church is not perfect or far from it. Not everyone will labor to make the church into a beautiful place. It takes works.
Third, what we need the most is God’s grace in view of our task. We need to be strong in his grace, so that we can labor, endure, and even fight well. Thank God, then, that he has given us this grace in abundance in Christ. Finally, all this labor is well worth it, because the outcome is the beauty of the church. May God give grace to his people to labor and endure well.
Tags: 2 Timothy 2:1-7, Bible study, Commentary, Paul, Theology