2 Timothy 2:2
“And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also”
(2 Tim.2: 2).
In our study we need to see that this passage gives the commitment and commission with which and under which Christians and the local church are to operate. We will be looking at four principles we can derive from this admonition that will be beneficial for us as Christians and for the local church as well.
THE NECESSITY OF TEACHING
If the church is to grow or even survive, it is absolutely necessary to continue the process set forth in this passage. Actually, four generations of teaching are specified in this passage. The principle contained therein will continue throughout time. It is God’s will that the gospel be preached and taught to man by man. It is God’s treasure in earthen vessels (2 Cor.4: 7). It is a “treasure” because it is “precious.”
“How precious is the Book divine, by inspiration giv’n!
Bright as a lamp its precepts shine, to guide my soul to heav’n.”
The Great Commission basically teaches the same principle (Matt.28: 18-20). The gospel is to be preached to “every creature” (Mk.16: 15) and to “all nations” (Matt.28: 19).Simply speaking, this is the Lord’s plan for the spread of the gospel and the continuation of the church. He has no other plan. Teaching is the only means God has for continuing His work on this earth, consisting of saving souls. This is accomplished through preaching the gospel (1 Cor.1: 21; Rom.1: 16).
Christianity is not genetic, it is TAUGHT! In John 6: 44-45, we read: “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him…It is written in the prophets, and they shall all be taught by God. Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me.”
Jesus, speaking of the Father drawing people to Him, cites a three-part process: (1) hearing (2) learning, and (3) coming. There is nothing mystical about it. This is the ordinary method of instruction. The main difference here is that the instruction spoken of has its origin in God.
Therefore, we learn that those who are brought to God are led there by a process of teaching and instruction in the divine wisdom. They hear the teaching, learn from it, and come to Christ. It is just that simple! There is no grand mystery that surrounds the conversion process. No divine over powering, or tampering with the human will. No Calvinistic “election” that overwhelms or supersedes the individual volition. There is no intrusion into the human heart by the Holy Spirit by a “direct operation.” People are taught, they hear, they learn, and they come, period!
The church can die in any given locality. We are familiar with once thriving churches that no longer exist. Think of the churches in the New Testament-where are they today? Thus, not only can a local congregation die, it will die, if the principles of this passage are not practiced.
For an Old Testament example look at Judges 2: 7: “So the people served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the Lord which he had done for Israel.” We see good leadership and good teaching from Joshua and his generation. But verse 10 ushers in bad news. Joshua and the elders died, along with their generation. “There arose another generation after them, which knew not the Lord, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel.” They were untaught. Hosea said: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge…Because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children” (Hos.4: 6).
We need to learn that we are only one generation away from apostasy! Every generation must be grounded in the fundamentals of the faith of Christ and that involves teaching. Thus, each Christian is making a contribution to the very survival of Christianity. We here at White Oak are responsible for keeping this church from dying. Consider Tillit S. Teddlie’s hymn: “Into Our Hands” p.555
THE CONTENT TO BE TAUGHT
What is to be committed or passed on? Paul said “the things you heard from me.” Was what they heard from Paul a product of his own mind? Did he make it up? Did he receive it and was he taught it from others? First Corinthians 15: 1-4 says he preached what he received. But what did he receive? “Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.” In Galatians 1: 11-12 Paul tells how and from whom he received what he preached: “But I make known to you, brethren that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.” We learn that what he preached was no human invention. So, Paul could say: “I preached it but I didn’t invent it.” We also learn that what he received was not handed down from some man, and also he did not learn it from human teachers. Further, speaking of the things which God has prepared for those who love Him, Paul said: “God has revealed them to us through His Spirit…Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not the words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things (thoughts) with spiritual words” (1 Cor.2: 9-10, 12-13). Both the thoughts and words the apostles received originated from the Holy Spirit, thus the source of their teaching was divine and not human. The idea is that the Holy Spirit revealed both the content of the revelation and the words through which that revelation was imparted. You will remember that Jesus said to His apostles: “But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what you shall speak: For it shall be given you in that same hour what you shall speak, for it is not you that speak, but the Spirit of your Father, which speaks in you” (Matt. 10: 19-20).
Thus, what is to be committed or passed on i. e., what we are to teach and preach are the things the apostles received from God. They wrote down what they received and we can read it we can understand what they understood about Christ’s saving gospel (Eph.3: 1-6).
We understand that the most important thing is to be sure that we understand that we must faithfully reproduce the message of God found in the Bible if we are to be effective in changing men’s lives. With that said, I ask you: “What are men today committed to and passing on?” “What are some of our own brethren committed to and passing on?” In other words, what is being preached and passed on today? We see (1) doctrines and commandments of men found in church creeds, conferences and conventions, (2) gimmicks and all sorts of incentives that appeal to the flesh, (3) counseling based on human wisdom. We must be very careful what we pass on and commit to others in our teaching and preaching.
WHAT ARE WE TO DO WITH WHAT THE APOSTLE’S RECEIVED?
We are to pass it along to others. “Everything that you have heard me teach, entrust, transmit, hand on, commit, deliver.” We are not to be reservoirs of the gospel, but pipelines through which it is to be passed on or committed to others. We are saved to save others. We are channels of blessings to bless others. HYMN-“Make Me A Channel Of Blessing.” (96 –Sacred Selections)
In Romans 7: 4 Paul said: “Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another, even to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God.”
Christians should be the most aware of what it means to be LOST! Therefore, we are the ones who must get the message out. It is our duty and we are debtors (Rom.1: 14-17), and so we must look to ourselves as a link between two generations. E. K. Simpson wrote: “The torch of heavenly light must be transmitted unquenched from one generation to another.” And so it is that the teacher of God’s Word is a link in the living chain which stretches unbroken from this present moment back to Jesus Christ and His apostles.
TO WHOM ARE WE TO COMMIT OR PASS ON THE GOSPEL?
“The same commit thou to faithful, trustworthy, reliable, dependable men.” The word “men” (anthropois) is the generic word for people or mankind (women included). While men are to do the public preaching of the gospel, the gospel is entrusted to all Christians! Olshausen, in his Biblical Commentary on the New Testament said: “The import of the verse is that Timothy is not only to be personally faithful in promulgating the apostolic doctrine, but also to take care that it be in its purity received and propagated by others.”
Great emphasis should be placed upon “faithful.” Timothy, you be committed to what you have heard from me and commit what you have heard from me to faithful men and women. And so you have the gospel “from the committed to the committed.” These faithful ones will be able, competent, qualified, and capable to teach others as well. If the gospel is conveyed to a faithful and trustworthy person who is competent, the integrity of the Lord’s message remains intact. On the other hand, if the recipient is either untrustworthy or incompetent, the message becomes corrupted. Thus, fidelity of the message, integrity of the teacher, and the ability to convey the truth accurately are the qualifications necessary to teach others the gospel. Remember Ezra, who was “expert in the words of the commandments of the Lord, and of His statutes…had prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach statutes and ordinances in Israel” (Ezra 7: 10-11).
The Lord cannot depend on half-hearted, apathetic and unfaithful Christians to carry His saving message to a lost and dying world. One cannot rightly teach what he does not know, and he cannot truly promote that to which he is no truly committed. Many Christians are able and not willing; many are willing and not able; the Lord needs those who are BOTH!
With that said, you cannot send those who are haphazard in their church attendance to the non-attender and expect to encourage that one to attend the church services. You cannot send the social drinker to the alcoholic and expect to win him to sobriety. You cannot send the half committed to the uncommitted and expect to win them to full commitment to the Lord’s service. These will only convey a corrupted message most often by what they teach, and always by their example and manner of life.
Where do you stand in relation to this admonition? Are you able and competent to teach others? Are you dependable in doing it? This passage is how the gospel is preached and spread in microcosm.
From Expository Files 20.12; December 2013