Paul has used special terminology to describe Timothy's task. First, what the NIV translates as guard what has been entrusted to your care is literally "guard the deposit." This phrase, which in the New Testament is limited to 1 and 2 Timothy, comes from a rather formal procedure (a "sacred trust") that was current in Greek, Roman and Jewish societies. One could securely pass some commodity to another party by entrusting it to an authorized agent. Some commentators interpret the "commodity" in this case to be Timothy's ministry as a whole. But as the contrast with the false teaching here and in 2 Timothy 1:13-14 suggests, it is more likely that Paul means "the faith" or "the gospel" that was under attack by false teachers.
Second, Paul's language emphasizes continuity. Timothy was to carry on with a mission given by Christ to the apostles much earlier (compare 1 Cor 15:1-3; 2 Tim 2:2). The gospel ministry is a single (though multifaceted) task with a single message, which is to be transmitted through the generations by servants whom God chooses (2 Tim 2:2).
Third, this task is a sacred one, as Paul's choice of "deposit" terminology confirms. God has planned that the evangelistic mission be executed by the proclamation of the gospel. The mission depends on the gospel message. Consequently, God's servants in each generation must guard it—that is, faithfully proclaim and protect it. The threat to the message and the church's mission posed by the false teachers in Ephesus was Paul's main reason for writing.
IVP New Testament Commentaries are made available by the generosity of InterVarsity Press.
Step 1 - Create an account or log in to start your free trial.
Starting your free trial of Bible Gateway Plus is easy. You’re already logged in with your Bible Gateway account. The next step is to enter your payment information. Your credit card won’t be charged until the trial period is over. You can cancel anytime during the trial period.
Click the button below to continue.
Step 1 - Create an account or log in to start your subscription.
You’ve already claimed your free trial of Bible Gateway Plus. To subscribe at our regular subscription rate of $3.99/month, click the button below.
Want to get the most out of Bible Gateway? Find out why Bible Gateway Plus is the ultimate toolkit for anyone seeking to grow closer to the Word. For less than the cost of a latte, Plus membership gives you access to a complete digital Bible study library and reduced banner ads. Try it free for 30 days!