by Wayne Barber
We continue in this article to look at 2 Timothy 1. In verse 7 Paul points Timothy to the fact that he has the Spirit who gives us power, love, and discipline. By saying God has not given us a spirit of timidity, Paul shows how the Holy Spirit of God contrasts with the human spirit that grows timid in conflict. Power is that which the Spirit produces out of the fountain of life promised to us. Love is that which the Spirit produces that casts out all fear. Discipline is that which enables us to refrain from doing what legally we might have the right to do.
In the next verse Paul encourages Timothy to never be ashamed of testifying for our Lord and to be willing to suffer for the gospel, as Paul himself suffered. He has already told him he has the power of God in the Spirit, so now he says, go on Timothy, preach the word even though suffering will come.
The downside is that if he would ever refuse to preach God's Word, and become ashamed of the testimony of Christ, at that moment he would also be ashamed of Paul. You see, the testimony of Christ and Paul His follower were the gospel message. In 2 Timothy 1:9 through 11 he says: "who has saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity, but now has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel." This is the message that Paul preached and taught (v. 11).
This leads us to the verse I want to focus on in this and the following article: "For this reason I also suffer these things, 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" (v. 12).
Paul says "For this reason…." What reason? Preaching the gospel of Christ, the testimony of Christ. Now, "for this reason, I also suffer these things." The Greek word for "suffer" is páscho, which carries the understanding of both emotional and physical pain brought on by others. Paul had a Ph.D. in suffering as a result of sharing the wonderful gospel of Christ. (See 2 Cor. 11:23ff for a reminder of Paul's trials.)
But, the reference in 2 Timothy 1 is to his immediate imprisonment. See chapter 2:9: "for which I suffer hardship even to imprisonment as a criminal; but the word of God is not imprisoned." The word for "criminal" means a common thief. It is only used of those criminals who were hung beside Christ on the cross. The fact that he was chained during this imprisonment is seen in 1:16: "Onesiphorus…was not ashamed of my chains." Why was he in chains? For "preaching the testimony of Christ." Paul's dignity was abused, but he nevertheless proclaimed: "I am not ashamed!" There is no hint of shame in Paul as a preacher of Christ, though he is now in prison. He was the living the example of bearing the consequences.
The word for "ashamed" is the word which means to shrink back in embarrassment. To suffer humiliation. Paul says, "even my chains are not enough to cause me to be ashamed!" What are your consequences for sharing and living the gospel of Christ? Have you faced prison, or are you ready to? Or have you shrunk back in shame?