2 Timothy 2:8-15
One important thing to keep in mind when reading the New Testament is that it was written at a time when Christianity was being birthed. Stating what can seem obvious: Jesus was Jewish. There were no Christians during his lifetime on earth. The early Christian authors were writing to and for small, marginalized communities in the midst of a powerful empire. They were being persecuted for their faith. Paul did indeed write from prison, in chains. And many others were martyred. The early Christians suffered for their faith. More importantly, though, Jesus suffered, died and rose again. Both of these aspects of suffering sit behind our text from 2 Timothy 2:8-15.
Jesus Christ, as the author of the letter points out, is more than a historical person, a descendant of David. He is not bound by history. God’s word is not chained (2:9b) but alive. Jesus Christ has been “raised from the dead” (2:8). These are not just words from the past. They are also words for us today. Remembering Jesus means remembering that Christ is present in our midst now and always. If we die, we live. If we endure, we reign (2:11b-12a).
And the final challenge: “if we deny him, he will also deny us” (2:12b). This, at first, can seem daunting. Yet, as fallible humans aren’t there times when we can lose our faith, even for a moment? This is why the following words are crucial to the meaning of this text: “If we are faithless, he, [the word of God who cannot be chained] remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself” (2:13) God, in Christ, perseveres for us, even when we fail.
Even if we mess up, we still are swept up into God’s wondrous love and grace. This is good news: the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ makes a difference. When we are told to remember Jesus Christ, this is what we must remember. In Christ, God accompanies us. God claims us. God loves us no matter what. God loves us in the best of times and in the worst of times. The word of God perseveres.
Words written to a man named Timothy can be encouragement for us. Even if we feel discouraged, we are never alone. On any path, God, in Christ, is with us. God in Christ is with us in the midst of any challenges, setbacks or suffering. God’s love will always have the last word. Regardless of circumstances, God is always doing something greater.
Yours in Christ, Kathryn