2 Timothy 3:10-17 Personal Advice for Living the Christian Life
The Bible teaches that we will encounter different kinds of trouble. Yet, at the same time, the Bible teaches that we can overcome this trouble. I want to list various ways that help overcome trouble in your life.
Paul closes this chapter by giving Timothy some very personal advice. Paul bases his appeal to Timothy on his own experience. Timothy is called to turn away from the false teachers and to stand alone, if need be, and take persecution for his fidelity to Jesus.1
Share my personal experience with Christ with others
“But you have followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, and endurance,” (2 Timothy 3:10, HCSB)
Paul is reminding Timothy of Paul’s personal experience in the faith. He reminds him to follow him, as Paul follows Jesus Christ. Paul reminds Timothy not only of the teaching, but the conduct and the qualities that he wants Timothy to emulate and share with others. These Christian qualities: purpose, faith, patience, love and endurance are five qualities which every Christian shares with others.
“along with the persecutions and sufferings that came to me in Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra. What persecutions I endured! Yet the Lord rescued me from them all. In fact, all those who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” (2 Timothy 3:11–12, HCSB)
Especially for American Christian, we have to accept this reality. We don’t have persecution like other groups. We complain and moan about our conditions while we sit in an air-conditioned $500,000 building about our condition. We whine about the rights that we think are being taken away. We are upset that other groups which we don’t like are beginning to get more attention than we are. This isn’t persecution. This in inconvenience, but let’s not confuse it with persecution.
Christians in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East who are being tortured and killed by Islamic State terrorists – those Christians are encountering persecution. They are suffering for their faith by their deaths. Using Paul’s words, they are living a more godly life in Christ Jesus than we are. They don’t have the inconvenience of saying: “I don’t want to go to that church because they offended my family.” They have to choose between life and death. But if we are really going to live for Jesus Christ, we need to embrace persecution.
Learn to persevere in the faith
“Evil people and impostors will become worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed. You know those who taught you,” (2 Timothy 3:13–14, HCSB)
This brings us logically to the next piece of advice from Paul about living the Christian life. We need to persevere. This is very challenging when you are being persecuted. You want to give up. The same is true today in our church, but the reasons are different. We persevere in our faith against the concerns of the world. We live in a weed-infested field where Christians are more concerned about worldly desires than Christ.
Trust the Bible to lead me to faith in Christ
“and you know that from childhood you have known the sacred Scriptures, which are able to give you wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 3:15, HCSB)
If you are going to be a Christian, then you need to read the Bible. The Bible is God’s Word – His message to help you. It does two primary things: it will point you to your need for faith in Jesus Christ, and it will help you live out the Christian faith.
The Bible is a book of wisdom. There are books in the Bible which give you wisdom in this life. Proverbs, Psalms, Ecclesiastes, Job, James. But more than that, the Bible gives you wisdom for eternal life. This wisdom comes from learning about and building a relationship with Jesus. The entire Bible – all sixty-six books – will point you to Jesus Christ. God’s Word will challenge to place your faith in God’s Son. But the Bible doesn’t stop doing its work in your Christian life when you come to Jesus Christ. The Bible does a tremendous job helping you live out your faith.
Allow the Bible to help me live out the Christian faith
“All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16–17, HCSB)
The Bible is inspired by God. This means that the Bible is God-breathed. Another verse highlights how this is so:
“First of all, you should know this: No prophecy of Scripture comes from one’s own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by the will of man; instead, men spoke from God as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:20–21, HCSB)
Why are there only these 66 books in the Bible? Because God is the ultimate author of the Bible, and He inspired only these 66. All Scripture is breathed out of the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4; 2 Timothy 3:16). What the human authors wrote did not originate with them but with God, who moved upon them (2 Samuel 23:2; 1 Peter 1:20–21). So God determined which books would be in the Bible, and the people of God merely discovered which books these were. Believers did not bestow authority on them; God did.
God spoke through the Holy Spirit to the writers of the Old and New Testament. They were inspired to write words which God supernaturally allows to use for salvation of His people and for helping them live out their faith with others. Inspiration does not mean divine validation of a human work, but God’s self-revelation of his own purpose and will. Second Timothy 3:16 further affirms that the purpose of inspiration is to enable God’s people to live in right relationship with God (“training in righteousness”) and with others (“equipped for every good work”).3
The Scriptures are profitable for doctrine (what is right), for reproof (what is not right), for correction (how to get right), and for instruction in righteousness (how to stay right). A Christian who studies the Bible and applies what he learns will grow in holiness and avoid many pitfalls in this world.4
All four of these skills which the Bible actually performs on you (to help you properly believe and behave) will help you become the right kind of Christian. The Bible will not just help you know Christianity, it will help you live out Christianity.
This kind of opposition awaits all true Christians (2 Timothy 3:12). Trouble will mount. Evil will degenerate men more and more (2 Timothy 3:13). When this happens Timothy must grasp more firmly to the truth from the Scriptures which he has been taught since childhood (2 Timothy 3:14–15). The Scriptures will be his mainstay. God inspired them. They will be his instrument in teaching truth, in separating error, and in equipping men for ethical, godly living (2 Timothy 3:16–17).5
1 Gary W. Demarest and Lloyd J. Ogilvie, 1, 2 Thessalonians / 1, 2 Timothy / Titus, vol. 32, The Preacher’s Commentary Series (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc, 1984), 284.
2 Norman L. Geisler, “How Can We Know the Bible Includes the Correct Books?,” in The Apologetics Study Bible: Real Questions, Straight Answers, Stronger Faith, ed. Ted Cabal et al. (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2007), 724.
3 Eds J. Daniel Hays, J. Scott Duvall, and J. Daniel Hays, How the Bible Came to Be (ebook Short) (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2012).
4 Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 253.
5 W. C. Fields, “2 Timothy,” in The Teacher’s Bible Commentary, ed. H. Franklin Paschall and Herschel H. Hobbs (Nashville: Broadman and Holman Publishers, 1972), 768.