Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 3 * PART 2 * BOOK 45
The Faithful Servant of Christ Says Goodbye – Part 2
II Timothy – Titus
Once again we are going to turn right to the Scriptures, so come back with me to II Timothy chapter 1 verse 1. I like to clarify as we open another one of Paul’s letters, the circumstances surrounding it. If you understand the historical part then the content means so much more. I alluded to it a little bit in the last lesson before we started the letter of Titus that evidently Paul was arrested and taken to Rome the first time from the trip across the Mediterranean and as a result of that arrest, pleading his own defense and with a decent and fair Roman court, he was evidently acquitted and released.
In those prison years while he was chained to a Roman soldier, he wrote what we call the Prison Epistles: Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and Philemon. But, after his acquittal, he evidently was free for a couple or three years and then during that time of freedom he wrote I Timothy, who was now holding forth over on the Asia Minor part of the Roman Empire. He was headquartered, I think, out of Ephesus. Then he wrote the little letter of Titus, to that young man, probably about the same age as Timothy, who was heading up the churches and the work on the island of Crete. So Paul now in this time of freedom had realized that time was running out for him and that’s why he is getting ready to pass these responsibilities on to these two young men, Timothy and Titus.
Now, evidently during that interval, for whatever reason, the emperors had changed in Rome and no doubt, however it was precipitated, Rome had been burned with fire, and about half the city was destroyed. Emperor Nero, himself, was the one that instigated it, because he was so wicked. We know Nero was just beyond human comprehension. He was probably worse than a Hitler. But Nero turned that into a reason to fault the Christians for having been the incendiary people to burn Rome. No doubt, as a result of all of that, since Paul had been so closely associated with the Christian community, he was also intimated that he had part in the fire of the city of Rome.
So, as he goes into prison now, this second time, he is under terrible suspicion. He is not treated as humanely as he was in his first session. And, I had an interesting question the other day, that I had never thought of, and the person put it this way. “Was Paul chained to a Roman soldier or was a Roman soldier chained to Paul?” You know, I thought about it for about 15 seconds and I just grabbed a piece of paper and I wrote back and said “That Roman soldier was chained to the Apostle Paul!” Because we know that in at least that first time in prison, he won, no doubt, many Roman soldiers to the Lord. So, he wasn’t chained to them. They were chained to him!
Now, in this second imprisonment, he is under more severe circumstances. I don’t think he’s down in the dungeon, but rather I think he is up in military control. He is still chained to Roman soldiers for a constant guard, but, now with Nero as the Emperor and him being almost insane. And as a result of his hatred of Christians, Nero would actually wrap these Christians in animal skins and then turn the dogs and wild animals after them. He would sit and just gleefully watch everything that was taking place.
Nero’s next favorite ploy was to take these Christians and wrap them in incendiary material, hang them upside down, set them on fire and then he would sit and watch them burn. That was Nero! Well, that was the man then that Paul was going to have to be judged by. So Paul makes his own defense again and now with the fear that has been instilled in everybody because of Nero, he says all but Luke have left me. So good old physician Luke must have stayed with him to the end.
Now in this second letter to Timothy, he is approaching martyrdom. This is his last time that he will be imprisoned. And he realizes that the Lord has not come and that it is going to be delayed at least to the lifetime of Timothy and Titus. He still has no idea that the Church is going to go on for two thousand years. Even the Apostle Paul, realizing that the Church Age was something totally insulated from God’s program with Israel. Paul still was of the impression that the Lord would be coming for the Church in short order, at least during the lifetime of Timothy and Titus.
When Paul refers to them as “young,” I think we covered this when we started I Timothy in one of our previous lessons. Early in Paul’s ministry he was probably around 40 years of age and Timothy was about 18 or 20. So, there is about a twenty year age difference. If I put Titus at about the same age as Timothy, Paul is now in his middle or late sixties, whereas these young men are in their early forties. For someone who is in their late sixties, forty is still a “kid”! Consequently he refers to them, as don’t let anybody despise your youth. Even though they were probably forty or so.
So with that as a back drop let’s go into this heart rending II Timothy with Paul knowing now that this is the beginning of the end. Verse 1.
II Timothy 1:1a
“Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God,…”
Here we almost have to go back and compare Scripture with Scripture, and that’s the way I teach, so you’ll just have to bear with me. Come back to Galatians chapter 1 because I have to constantly realize that we have new listeners every day and these listeners have not heard what we taught several months back. So, we repeat some of these things for their benefit as well as for our own. Here in Galatians he gives us a good, Holy Spirit inspired description of how he became this Apostle of grace.
“But I certify you, brethren, (again, he is writing to believers) that the gospel which was preached of me (see how he qualifies it again. His Gospel of I Corinthians 15:1-4?) is not after man. 12. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
I am always emphasizing as I teach, when Paul had this revelation from Jesus Christ, where is Jesus? Well, He is in Heaven! He has finished the work of redemption, He has been raised from the dead, and has spent that forty days on earth with the disciples and has ascended back to Glory.
Then, several years later, when it is obvious that Israel is not going to succumb to the Kingship of Jesus the Messiah, God did something totally different. I like to refer to it as that “fork in the road.” Where now Israel is going to go into the dispersion of the nations and the Gentiles are going to be called out into this peculiar group of people that we talked about in our last lesson, the Body of Christ, the Church Age, the Grace Age believers. Alright, so that was not revealed until Christ had been in glory for quite some time. He then reveals a whole new program that was unknown to all the Old Testament writers. It was unknown to the twelve as he reveals it to this one man. Now I know that is hard for people to understand but it is the truth of Scripture. So this is what he was talking about. Here in Galatians 1 verse 12 again.
“For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, (that is, by other men) but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. 13 For ye have heard of my conversation (or my manner of life) in time past in the Jews’ religion, (he was one of the “top dogs” in the religious hierarchy of Israel.) how that beyond measure I persecuted the church (assemblies) of God, and wasted it:” That is referring back to those Jewish believers in Jerusalem, who were still followers of the Messiahship of Christ Jesus of Nazareth. Now verse 14.
“And profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, (why?) being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.”
In other words, I am always picturing Saul of Tarsus as a religious nut! He just couldn’t do enough for his religion, he was driven. And, consequently, when he thought that Jesus of Nazareth was a blasphemer and was an imposter, he worked more than anybody in Israel to stamp out anyone who had embraced Jesus as the Messiah. It just became his obsession. Alright, that’s what he is referring to. That he was more exceedingly zealous of the traditions. Now verse 15.
“But (Flipside! Something totally different happens to the man) when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, (that’s where God began if not even in eternity past, but right from his birth he was a marked man for God’s service.) and called my by his grace,”
Nobody understood grace like Saul of Tarsus! Because here he is having already put to death Jewish believers for having embraced Jesus. He’s on his way to Damascus to get some more and take them back to Jerusalem. And, out of nowhere, without any previous preaching at him or explaining what was going to happen, God struck him down and saved him, by what? By grace!! He didn’t deserve it! So, this is what the man never got over, that in spite of all of his past and his hatred for the name of Jesus of Nazareth, God saved him anyway.
That’s the way it is today. The vilest sinner, the worst, God just saves them on the spot! They don’t have to clean up their act first. God’s saves them first and THEN He will begin to make changes. So, by God’s grace he was called. Now, verse 16.
Now, I always like to tie words together. Reveal is another root word from revelation. And Paul is constantly referring to the revelation or the revealing of mysteries. Things that had been kept secret all the way up through human history. None of the Prophets knew it, the twelve didn’t know it, and Jesus never betrayed it. And, now to this man, God is going to reveal these things that had been kept secret. Alright, verse 16 again.
“To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; (or the Gentiles. The non-Jewish world.) immediately (after his experience at Damascus) I conferred not with flesh and blood:” He didn’t say, well I have to go see what Peter says about all of this. No. He said I conferred not with flesh and blood.
“Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia,…”
He went the opposite direction. Now, all of this is to show us that by the Holy Spirit’s work, this man was kept from any contact with the twelve at Jerusalem. God’s not going to scramble his brains with what Peter and the eleven had been preaching. He’s going to give him a whole new revelation.
This again is what folks cannot comprehend, that all of our Church doctrine coming from the pen of this Apostle is a revelation of things that God had kept secret. Deuteronomy 29:29, I have used it over and over. The secret things belong to the Lord our God. He can keep things secret as long as He wants, and He kept the mysteries that Paul shares with us until He reveals these secrets to this man. Now let’s read on.
“…and returned again unto Damascus.”
Then, after those three years, which I feel was mostly spent in Arabia. He’s now had these revelations of these mysteries which are what we call the doctrines of the grace of God. Then he went up to Jerusalem and saw Peter. He was there only two weeks and a day. For fifteen days, he visits with Peter.
Then in verse 21, he went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia and thus began his ministry out among the Gentile world. Now come back to II Timothy again. This is what he is always talking about.
II Timothy 1:3a
“I thank God,…”
He doesn’t take any credit for himself. He could have. He was a highly educated Jew. He had been educated or taught by one of the chief Rabbi’s in Israel, Gamaliel, but he never refers to that. He refers to himself as nothing but something that God has seen fit to use, by His grace.
II Timothy 1:3b
“… whom I serve from my forefathers with pure conscience, that without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day;” Remember he is writing to the young man Timothy, and here in verse 4 we see the heart of the Apostle.
II Timothy 1:4-5a
“Greatly desiring to see thee, being mindful of thy tears, that I may be filled with joy; 5. When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith…”
Remember what I said in the last lesson? That the number one thing that God looks for in a person is his faith. His ability to believe what God has said. Well, Paul shows it even toward this young man Timothy, that it was his unfeigned faith, his ability to trust what God had said. And, that unfeigned faith, reading on in verse 5:
II Timothy 1:5b
“… that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also.” Now you have to go back to the book of Acts and realize that it was up in Central Asia Minor that the Apostle Paul first ran into this little Jewish family, made up of the grandmother, Lois and Timothy’s mother Eunice and probably from Paul’s preaching they were all three made believers. Now verse 6.
II Timothy 1:6
“Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.” In other words, Paul is transferring the mantel of his Apostleship to this young man, Timothy in particular and secondly, I think he went to young Titus. So he is just sort of passing on the Apostolic authority. Now verse 7.
II Timothy 1:7
“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”
Now, like I have already explained, what’s going on in the city of Rome while Paul is sitting in prison waiting for his sentence? The horrible persecution of the Christians. Beyond what the human mind can think and Nero was just gloating in all of it. If ever there was a reason to fear, it was Nero. Yet, Paul has such confidence in his Lord that he can even write to this young man Timothy that we have nothing to fear but of power and of love and of a sound mind. Now verse 8.
II Timothy 1:8a
“Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner:…”
In other words, I think he is going to hopefully, bring Timothy from wherever he was in Asia Minor back to Rome before his life would end. We will point out in another time, if not in Timothy then when we get to Hebrews, that evidently Timothy made it. And as a rule, as expected, he too was arrested. Because the Book of Hebrews points it out that Timothy also was released from prison and no doubt it was as a result of having gotten to Paul before his death and then being promptly arrested.
But, it is interesting that in a matter of days or weeks after Paul and Peter were martyred, do you know what happened to Nero? Nero’s life came to an end! I haven’t been able to find how or what happened, but Nero’s life was ended just shortly after Paul and Peter were martyred. So Timothy might have been able to respond to that by being released now, with Nero off the scene. Alright, reading on.
II Timothy 1:8b
“…but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God;”
A lot of people have the wrong impression. They think that Christians are going to be treated well. That just because of our faith and hopefully, our good character and good lifestyle, that everything is going to go our way. But you see it doesn’t work that way. I have pointed it out before. In fact, come back with me to II Corinthians chapter 11 and look what it cost this man who was one of the religious leaders in Israel. Probably had one of the most beautiful, expensive homes in Jerusalem.
And, the other night I finally read someone who agrees with me that Paul no doubt had a wife and children. I know a lot of people have a hard time swallowing that, but this individual used the same approach that I do, that he must have been a member of the Sanhedrin and as a member of the Sanhedrin, he had to be a husband and a father. But, he chucked all of that for the sake of the Gospel. Instead of having the highest lifestyle in Jerusalem, now look what he goes through. Now, none of us would want to associate this with our lifestyle as a Christian. We cringe at this. I know we do because we are spoiled. We have had it so good.
II Corinthians 11:24
“Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one.”
That’s the thirty-nine stripes. Now, if you understand the forty stripes, it took a good, strong, healthy man to survive ONE, but he took five of them over his lifetime. Without benefit of antibiotics. Without any benefit of sterile technique. But for the miracle power of God he would have never survived. Now, verse 25.
II Corinthians 11:25a
“Thrice was I beaten with rods,…”
You all know the furor that the world made when that kid were beaten with rods in Singapore a few years ago. Sure you all remember. The world thought that was barbarian. Listen, Paul went through it three times. And, not just a few swats like that kid got, he got the whole nine yards.
II Corinthians 11:25b
“…once was I stoned,…”
Not by drugs, by literal rocks. They dragged him out like a dead horse. In fact that’s what the Scripture implies, that they dragged him out just like we would drag out a dead animal. Dragged outside the city and left him for dead. But, miraculously, God raised him up.
II Corinthians 11:25c
“…thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep;”
Now, the Mediterranean gets pretty rough in the winter time. Even, for regular shipping today, they can hit some pretty tough weather. In fact, we experienced it when we were on the Mediterranean in March, I mean it was no fun! Well, how would you like to be on their little tug with sails? And he got dumped, three times.
All because of the Gospel. He didn’t have to be out there doing that. He could have kept it easy in Jerusalem. He could have enjoyed his high lifestyle in Judaism. But, for the sake of the Gospel, he suffered all of these things. Then, verse 26.
II Corinthians 11:26-27
“In journeyings often, (lived out of a suitcase constantly) in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, (that is, the barbarians)in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27. In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.” And for what? The Gospel! For the Gospel! Unbelievable? Almost. Back to II Timothy for just a moment. Verse 9. The same God of verse 8:
II Timothy 1:9
“Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, (Just like we showed in Titus chapter 2 in our last lesson. God has declared us a peculiar people of intrinsic value and has called us with a separate calling.) not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and (what again? Grace, see?!) grace, (All of grace. Not that we deserve a penny worth and all of this) which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world (ages) began,”
God in His foreknowledge knew everyone of us and what we would do with Paul’s Gospel of salvation. As a rule, I like to go back to Ephesians chapter 3 verse 11. This ties in so beautifully with what Paul is writing to Timothy. We are not just saved by accident. We are in His divine purposes.
“According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord. 12. In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.”
All these things working together to fulfill God’s purposes.