So far in 2 Timothy we’ve seen that Paul is probably writing this letter from a Roman gaol (not just under house arrest) and facing the likelihood that he’ll soon be executed. He’s sent for Timothy to be with him during this dark time. But since this takes the form of a letter of moral exhortation, he’s also reminding Timothy of their relationship, and of Paul’s example which Timothy is to imitate in terms of character and behaviour. The most important thing Paul wanted to pass on before his death was… himself. The model he has been for Timothy in how to live for Jesus. Today, we begin chapter 1.
Continuing in 2 Timothy, we’ve made it past the opening thanksgiving, in which Paul urges Timothy to live up to Paul’s example, and to his own spiritual heritage. Today, we get what is probably the theme statement of this letter:2 Timothy 1:6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.
Paul’s example and Timothy’s family heritage (vv3-5) are the reason Paul gives for his reminder to Timothy. (Although it’s phrased like a gentle “reminder,” in this kind of letter from a superior it functions as a command.) And his instruction is to fan into flame the gift of God. But what does this mean?
So far in 2 Timothy, Paul has reminded Timothy to follow his example and get on with his calling – fanning into flame his gift. He’s been given God’s power to carry out the mission, so he shouldn’t be ashamed of anything – whether it be the gospel itself, or Paul’s imprisonment for the sake of it.
Today, Paul reminds Timothy that just as he’s been equipped by God to do the work, he’s also been given a great motivation for the work: God’s grace.
The story so far: Paul has reminded Timothy to follow his example and fan into flame his gift. He’s been given God’s power to carry out the mission. And he’s been given motivation for the mission: the grace of God who has defeated death on our behalf, and given us access to immortality. And it’s of this message of grace that Paul (along with Timothy and us) has been called to be a herald, apostle, and teacher.
But this high calling has a downside: