It is imperative for Christians to be different from the godless people of the last days. For Timothy, his teaching is also to be different from that of the false teachers. Paul offers his own life as a model. There is no better teacher than one who walks his talk.
Paul reminds Timothy of his teaching, with which Timothy was very familiar (v.10). Paul took his teaching ministry seriously, never seeking to please men or even himself, but only God who had called him (1 Corinthians 4:1–4; Galatians 1:9–10; 1 Thessalonians 2:2–6). His teaching was always focused on Christ and His gospel (1 Corinthians 2:2) and, unlike the false teachers, he did not peddle it for profit (2 Corinthians 2:17).
Paul taught devotion to Christ and obedience to Him. He demonstrated his sermons with his life. He reminds Timothy of his “way of life”, which was characterised by the godliness found in his “purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings” (vv.10–11). Paul’s central purposes of bringing glory to God and the gospel to the Gentiles were shown in his deep trust in God, his patience with difficult people, his endurance in difficult circumstances, and his acceptance of suffering as a part of his calling (Acts 9:16). These were all indications of his exemplary and inspiring godliness. Such should be the character of Christians living in a godless world.
Godly Christians should not be surprised if they are persecuted by the world in the last days (v.12). This comment from a faithful apostle awaiting a death sentence brings comfort to Christians undergoing persecution. Paul is realistic in his expectation that “evil men and imposters will go from bad to worse” (v.13). They will continue to deceive and be deceived (v.13), but the Christian must not lose heart.
As we live in the darkening world of the last days, and as godlessness increases, we must avoid two things. Firstly, we must not join the world. We must remember Scottish theologian P. T. Forsyth’s wise words: “Unless there is within us that which is above us, we shall soon yield to that which is about us”. Secondly, as we suffer persecution in the hands of an unbelieving and disobedient world, we must continue to show godliness and shine like stars in the night sky (Philippians 2:15).
Refer to Acts 13:50, 14:5,19–20 to understand Paul’s reference (v.11) to his first missionary journey, where he suffered much persecution in various cities. Paul went back to these cities while making his way back to Antioch (Acts 14:21–22). What does this say about Paul’s response to persecution and his faith in God (vv.10-11)?
How can Christians living in a “crooked and depraved generation” (Philippians 2:15) shine like stars instead of being snuffed out or losing their shine? How are you shining?