Friday, July 13, 2012

Missions in II Timothy

"You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also." II Timothy 2:1-2

When Alice and I went through our missions training about six years ago, these verses were repeatedly emphasized. The reason is that they describe, in simple yet profound terms, how the gospel spreads most effectively.

What's going on in II Timothy? Does it say anything to us about missions? Emphatically yes! (This post is part of a look at missions throughout the NT. To read the first post in this series, click here. To read any or all of the posts, click here).

This is Paul's final letter that we have. He's likely locked in some sort of wretched dungeon, charged as an enemy of the Roman state. He's basically alone, having been deserted by several companions. Paul writes to Timothy to ask him to come see him. The letter contains much about both proper teaching and suffering.

In 2:1-2 we read the apostle describe a chain of discipleship. Paul writes about the handing of the gospel to the next generation of believers. Based on what he says in chapter four of this letter, it is clear that Paul knows he is going to soon be executed. The propagation of the gospel will no longer be his task. It falls to Timothy. And then to others. And then to others. And on and on...

This gospel transfer does not occur magically. Rather, it must move from one faithful person to another. They must then pass it along. It's sort of like a relay race, with the baton being handed off repeatedly. Each generation has the responsibility to not drop the baton.

I've often wondered who passed the gospel along through the centuries from Jesus to me. I'd love to see a list of the names that were involved. My hope is that I can thank them in heaven one day.

What of us? Paul's charge to Timothy is also a charge to us. We are part of the chain. What's our role? That may differ in specifics, but for all of us we have the privilege of passing the gospel along to others. This may be overseas, but it may also be right here. Regardless, we all have a part to play.

No comments: