By Steve Wallace
Paul’s preaching caused him much suffering. He estranged the Jews by refusing to give them a sign and preaching the gospel to the Gentiles. He offended the Gentiles by denouncing their idolatry and undermining some of their means for financial advancement. Eventually, his stand for truth resulted in his being put into prison. It was from his prison that he wrote to Timothy:
Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God; Who hath saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began. But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel: Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day (2 Tim. 1:8-12).
To be confined in prison as a common criminal with the possibility of being executed is certainly the height of disgrace. In spite of this, Paul was not ashamed. Along with Joseph, Jeremiah, Daniel, John the Baptist, and Peter, he had joined the ranks of those imprisoned for the highest cause. Paul’s attitude in such a state is noteworthy and remarkable.
He speaks words which breathe the utmost confidence. Insecurity may be a problem for some today, but Paul had no such problem. Rather, his words here are a lesson on how to be secure no matter what happens.
“I Know Him Whom I Have Believed”
1. One needs to know God. Isaiah decried the ritualism of the people of his day (1:11-14). They were playing at religion. They did not know the God they worshiped. He wrote, “The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider” (1:3). Paul was not just known for being religious, nor did he just believe in a God, rather he knew him. He knew God the way God wants people to know him (Heb. 11:6). This was a cause for his security.
2. He had believed God. Paul’s faith was not in a sys- tem, but in the author of that system. True obedient faith establishes fellowship between God and man through Christ. This relationship exists as one walks in his truth (1
John 1:1-10). And what about those who claim to believe in Jesus, but refuse to conform to his teaching? Jesus answered this when he asked, “Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things I say?” (Luke 6:46). As a servant of Christ, our allegiance is to him, not to the church, to a creed, or to brotherhood opinion. Believing God gave Paul confidence.
Paul Had Committed Things Unto God
Committed is defined, “a deposit, a trust or thing con- signed to one’s faithful keeping” (Thayer 482). What had Paul committed to God?
1. His soul’s salvation. “Life and immortality” of verse 10 is opposed to death, suffering, and hell. Paul was no doubt of one mind with Peter when Peter wrote, “Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator” (1 Pet. 4:19). We must do this. The church, our parents, or other brethren cannot do it for us.
2. His works. Paul’s works had no lasting significance in the earthly sense of the term. He called people away from common earthly pursuits to other worldly pursuits (1 Cor. 15:19, 32; cf. 1 Tim. 6:17-19). To many people, it may seem that Paul had been cut off in the middle of his career and that his winding up in a Roman jail would result in the undoing of all his work. The truth is, Paul had sown the seed of God’s word and this would bring results for Paul (1 Cor. 3:5-8; cf. Isa. 55:10-11). He had every reason to be secure because he had done work for God. Am I com- mitting works to God?
3. His reward. Beyond salvation from sin and hell, he looked toward the positive reward of heaven and the joys thereof (2 Tim. 4:8). John wrote, “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord” (Rev. 14:13). “Blessed” means happy or blissful.
Whom do I commit things to? We all have things to commit. Paul committed things to God. This is why he felt secure when things looked dim for him from a worldly standpoint.
What Persuaded Paul That God Could Keep What He Had Delivered?
We noted under our first point that Paul knew God. What did he know about God that would so persuade him?
1. God is a keeper of promises. Paul knew of the promise of God to Abraham (Gen. 15:1-6) and even wrote about it (Rom. 4:18-21). God told Noah of a flood years before it happened — and then did just as he said (Heb. 11:7). God performed the words of his promise to give his people the land of Canaan (Josh. 21:43-45). The Babylonian captivity and the return therefrom were foretold and fulfilled. On top of all this, a multitude of particulars concerning the Messiah were prophesied of and performed. Well could Paul describe God as he who “cannot lie” (Tit. 1:2).
2. God’s ability to keep. He kept the Jews during the tumultuous times of the Babylonian captivity (Jer. 31:10) and even kept their land for them. He watched over the faithful while they were in captivity (Dan. 3, 6). He kept Job, not allowing the devil to take away his life, and blessed him more greatly in his latter times than in his former ones (Job 1:12; 2:6; 42:12). God’s keeping ability is such that Paul was fully persuaded that he could keep what he had committed to him.
3. A rememberer of past deeds. “For God is not un- righteous to forget your work and labor of love, which ye have showed toward his name . . .” (Heb. 6:10). In Revelation 20:12, “books” is an accommodative way of telling mankind that God keeps an account, a record, and will not forget man’s deeds. All people may have turned away from Paul (2 Tim. 1:15; 4:16), but he knew that God would never forget him.
4. An exalter of the humble. “He that shall humble himself shall be exalted” (Matt. 23:12). This truth is often taught in Scripture (Prov. 29:23; 1 Pet. 5:6-7). Paul had certainly humbled himself. Hence, he had every reason to believe that God would help him.
5. A power greater than death and hell. Paul faced death — but he did so knowing that the “gates of hades” could not prevail against the purposes of God (Matt. 16:18) and that God would destroy death in the final resurrection (1
Well might Paul be persuaded to commit things to God’s keeping.
“Security — even in its most relative sense, is very difficult to maintain. For the most part it is an ‘at ease’ feeling, and feelings are so unreliable. We trust in the bank, and it fails; in a friend, and he deserts; in the strength of youth, and we grow old; in our wisdom, and discover we were foolish. Before it is too late, consider Paul’s source of security” (Robert F. Turner, Plain Talk, 1, 2, 6; “2 Tim. 1:12”).