Here Paul encourages Timothy to constancy and perseverance in his work: Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus, 2 Tim. 2:1. Observe, Those who have work to do for God must stir up themselves to do it, and strengthen themselves for it. Being strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus may be understood in opposition to the weakness of grace. Where there is the truth of grace there must be a labouring after the strength of grace. As our trials increase, we have need to grow stronger and stronger in that which is good; our faith stronger, our resolution stronger, our love to God and Christ stronger. Or it may be understood in opposition to our being strong in our own strength: “Be strong, not confiding in thy own sufficiency, but in the grace that is in Jesus Christ.” Compare Eph. 6:10; Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. When Peter promised rather to die for Christ than to deny him he was strong in his own strength; had he been strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus, he would have kept his standing better. Observe, 1. There is grace in Christ Jesus; for the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ, John 1:17. There is grace enough in him for all of us. 2. We must be strong in this grace; not in ourselves, in our own strength, or in the grace we have already received, but in the grace that is in him, and that is the way to be strong in grace. 3. As a father exhorts his son, so does Paul exhort Timothy, with great tenderness and affection: Thou, therefore, my son, be strong, etc. Observe,
I. Timothy must count upon sufferings, even unto blood, and therefore he must train up others to succeed him in the ministry of the gospel, 2 Tim. 2:2. He must instruct others, and train them up for the ministry, and so commit to them the things which he had heard; and he must also ordain them to the ministry, lodge the gospel as a trust in their hands, and so commit to them the things which he had heard. Two things he must have an eye to in ordaining ministers:—Their fidelity or integrity (“Commit them to faithful men, who will sincerely aim at the glory of God, the honour of Christ, the welfare of souls, and the advancement of the kingdom of the Redeemer among men”), and also their ministerial ability. They must not only be knowing themselves, but be able to teach others also, and be apt to teach. Here we have, 1. The things Timothy was to commit to others—what he had heard of the apostle among many witnesses; he must not deliver any thing besides, and what Paul delivered to him and others he had received of the Lord Jesus Christ. 2. He was to commit them as a trust, as a sacred deposit, which they were to keep, and to transmit pure and uncorrupt unto others. 3. Those to whom he was to commit these things must be faithful, that is, trusty men, and who were skilful to teach others. 4. Though men were both faithful and able to teach others, yet these things must be committed to them by Timothy, a minister, a man in office; for none must intrude themselves into the ministry, but must have these things committed to them by those already in that office.
II. He must endure hardness (2 Tim. 2:3): Thou therefore, etc. 1. All Christians, but especially ministers, are soldiers of Jesus Christ; they fight under his banner, in his cause, and against his enemies, for he is the captain of our salvation, Heb. 2:10. 2. The soldiers of Jesus Christ must approve themselves good soldiers, faithful to their captain, resolute in his cause, and must not give over fighting till they are made more than conquerors, through him that loved them, Rom. 8:37. 3. Those who would approve themselves good soldiers of Jesus Christ must endure hardness; that is, we must expect it and count upon it in this world, must endure and accustom ourselves to it, and bear it patiently when it comes, and not be moved by it from our integrity.
III. He must not entangle himself in the affairs of this world, 2 Tim. 2:4. A soldier, when he has enlisted, leaves his calling, and all the business of it, that he may attend his captain’s orders. If we have given up ourselves to be Christ’s soldiers, we must sit loose to this world; and though there is no remedy, but we must employ ourselves in the affairs of this life while we are here (we have something to do here), we must not entangle ourselves with those affairs, so as by them to be diverted and drawn aside from our duty to God and the great concerns of our Christianity. Those who will war the good warfare must sit loose to this world. That we may please him who hath chosen us to be soldiers. Observe, 1. The great care of a soldier should be to please his general; so the great care of a Christian should be to please Christ, to approve ourselves to him. The way to please him who hath chosen us to be soldiers is not to entangle ourselves with the affairs of this life, but to be free from such entanglements as would hinder us in our holy warfare.
IV. He must see to it that in carrying on the spiritual warfare he went by rule, that he observed the laws of war (2 Tim. 2:5): If a man strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully. We are striving for mastery, to get the mastery of our lusts and corruptions, to excel in that which is good, but we cannot expect the prize unless we observe the laws. In doing that which is good we must take care that we do it in a right manner, that our good may not be evil spoken of. Observe here, 1. A Christian is to strive for masteries; he must aim at mastering his own lusts and corruptions. 2. Yet he must strive according to the laws given to him; he must strive lawfully. 3. Those who do so shall be crowned at last, after a complete victory is obtained.
V. He must be willing to wait for a recompence (2 Tim. 2:6): The husbandman that laboureth must be first partaker of the fruits. Or, as it should be read, The husbandman labouring first must partake of the fruits, as appears by comparing it with Jas. 5:7. If we would be partakers of the fruits, we must labour; if we would gain the prize, we must run the race. And, further, we must first labour as the husbandman does, with diligence and patience, before we are partakers of the fruit; we must do the will of God, before we receive the promises, for which reason we have need of patience, Heb. 10:36.
The apostle further commends what he had said to the attention of Timothy, and expresses his desire and hope respecting him: Consider what I say, and the Lord give thee understanding in all things, 2 Tim. 2:7. Here, 1. Paul exhorts Timothy to consider those thing about which he admonished him. Timothy must be reminded to use his considering faculties about the things of God. Consideration is as necessary to a good conversation as to a sound conversion. 2. He prays for him: The Lord give thee understanding in all things. Observe, It is God who gives understanding. The most intelligent man needs more and more of this gift. If he who gave the revelation in the word does not give the understanding in the heart, we are nothing. Together with our prayers for others, that the Lord would give them understanding in all things, we must exhort and stir them up to consider what we say, for consideration is the way to understand, remember, and practise, what we hear or read.