We are now entering into the glorious truth of the gospel. It is centred on God’s eternal purposes in Christ. Paul refers to the grace of God, which “was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time” (v.9). This is an amazing truth—God’s gracious dealing with us originated before anything in this universe existed. The point is that there is nothing in our actions or in this world that can save us. We are saved entirely by the grace of God. This timeless grace of God has now been revealed in history through Christ.
He appeared on earth through His incarnation, died on the cross for us, and rose victoriously from death. He “destroyed death” and “brought life and immortality to light” (v.10). It is through this Jesus that God has “saved us and called us to a holy life” according to “his own purpose and grace” (v.9). This, in brief, is the gospel of Jesus.
To declare this gospel to an unfriendly world that persecuted and killed its messengers was a daunting task. Here, Paul introduces the power of God. This power that operated in Jesus is also at work when people are saved and made holy. It is also present in the messengers of the gospel. Timid Timothy, who had received the power of God, must therefore take heart amid difficulties. God’s power would help him on two counts.
Firstly, he should have courage and “not be ashamed to testify about our Lord” (v.8). People may laugh at the preaching of the gospel (1 Corinthians 1:22–23), but preachers must have “thick skin” and boldly preach the truth.
Secondly, he should be willing to suffer. The power of God will enable him to do so and give him endurance (Colossians 1:11). Paul was a prisoner on death row. Not many wanted to be associated with someone accused of a crime against the state—it was dangerous. But Paul asks Timothy not to be ashamed of him (v.8).The glory of the gospel and the power of God will help us to boldly proclaim God’s truth and be willing to suffer.
How precious is the gospel of Christ to you? How do you understand God’s grace and power in Christ? What evidence is there that you hold this gospel dear to your heart?
Paul invites Timothy to join him in suffering for the gospel. Why is there comfort in knowing that you are not suffering alone, but there are other fellow believers who similarly suffer for the gospel?