Yesterday we looked at the first brick in the firewall that Paul was encouraging his faithful apprentice to build in Ephesus. My intention was to move to the second brick (another brick in the wall) today, but that will have to wait until tomorrow. Why? I looked at the text again, and saw more that we really need to consider.
SPOILER ALERT! The two bricks are in 2 Timothy 3:10 – 13 and 2 Timothy 3:14 – 17. Our English translations obscure the repetitive structure somewhat – but we will look at that in the post about the second brick.Look again at 2 Timothy 3:10 – 13. Yesterday we noted that the first brick was Paul exhorting Timothy, as he had in several other passages, to follow his example. But note the content of Paul’s exhortation. He references his:
- Persecutions (which is emphasized by the repetition of the word in verse 11)
Paul may have skipped the class on motivating disciples.
The language in the Greek suggests that Timothy was not a casual observer, not a tag along. The word, παρακολουθέω (parakoloutheō), is only used four times in the New Testament (here, Mark 16:17, Luke 1:3, 1 Timothy 4:6). The word suggests careful observation, investigation. Timothy was taking notes. He was fully engaged as one who was committed to duplicating or emulating his mentor.
Structurally, proportionality helps our observation here. Paul invests more words in describing the resistance to than he does the elements of his ministry. The not so subtle message to his protégé is that Timothy can expect significant, intentional, sustained resistance to the task in which he is engaged. He should expect persecution. Based on verse 13, the resistance will not abate, but increase.
That is instructive to me. There seems to be a fair number of believers who seem to think that if God is in something, things will go well. Truth be told there are times that I have been thinking that way. Timothy is engaged in a work for which he was set apart, 1 Timothy 4:14. He was entrusted with the truth. He is commanded to guard that with which he was entrusted. It seems as if we could easily surmise that he is in the middle of God’s will.
Paul, though, promises him increasing resistance and persecution. Yeah, Paul skipped that motivation class.