The Christian life is certainly not free of tension. If it were, the triumphant note just sounded in 3:16 might have concluded tidily with "and they lived happily ever after." However, though at times we might wish for it, this life is not a fairy tale, and that sort of ending must be left till the end (Rev 21:4). There it is fitting, but now it is a matter of hope. The biblical picture of the Christian life in this present age, confirmed by a long span of church history, is one of struggle and steady opposition. It is not that there is no joy and peace for the Christian, but that until Christ returns, joy and peace are found within the believer and within Christian fellowship, often in stark contrast to the actual circumstances of life.
The change that occurs at 4:1 following the hymn of victory, then, is not unexpected. Opposition to the faith and the struggle to meet it are in Paul's mind as he enlarges upon two themes introduced in chapter 1—the heresy and Christian ministry. In 4:1-5 the apostle reminds Timothy that apostasy from the faith is predictable and that ultimately Satan stands behind it when it occurs.
IVP New Testament Commentaries are made available by the generosity of InterVarsity Press.
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