Jan20WedJanuary 20, 2021
Praying the Promises #008
. . . yet he abideth faithful (II Tim. 2:13b)
If I were to assign a name that describes the pastoral epistle of II Timothy, I would call it a book of names. In every chapter of his great little book there are names: names of the faithful and names of the unfaithful. Beginning in chapter one we have the names of Timothy (1:2), and Eunice (1:5), Phygellus, Hermogenes and Onesiphorus (1:15-16). Chapter two follows with Hymenaeus and Philetus (2:17). The third chapter mentions Janes and Jambres (3:8). Chapter four closes with Demas, Crescans and Titus (4:9); followed by Luke and Mark (4:11); Tychicus (4:12); Alexander the coppersmith (4:14); Prisca and Aquila (4:19a); Onesiphorus again (4:19b); Erastus and Trophimus (4:20); and finally, Eubulus, Pudens, Linus and Claudia (4:21).
It was customary for the Apostle Paul to close his letters with names, but II Timothy is different. There are names throughout the letter. Who are these people and why are they in the inspired Scripture? I’ll remind you that with each name mentioned there is a face and a scenario unique to them. There is a list of names in this letter that have been mentioned with positive record and then there are those who have a very negative record. Let’s look again:
Positive: Timothy, Lois, Eunice, Onesiphorus, Titus, Luke, Mark, Tychicus, Prisca and Aquila, Erastus, Trophimus, Eubulus, Pudens, Linus and Claudia.
Negative: Phygellus, Hermogenes, Hymanaeus, Philetus, Jannes, Jambres, Demas and Alexander the coppersmith.
Sixteen names are mentioned positively and eight negatively. We can’t be certain about Crescans, because I am unaware of the circumstances of his departure. He is just said to be departed to Galatia. He is likely a good brother. Nevertheless, of the names mentioned, the good majority warmed Paul’s heart when he thought of them by a two-to-one ratio.
Of the eight who are mentioned negatively in II Timothy, their names are almost always surrounded by an admonition, or admonitions, from Paul to his readers to be faithful in spite of those who are departing. For example, he mentions Phygellus and Hermogenes negatively in chapter one and surrounds their names with admonitions like, “. . . stir up the gift of God, which is in thee (1:6),” “Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord (1:8a),” “. . . be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel (1:8b),” “Hold fast the form of sound words (1:13a),” and “That good thing which was committed unto thee keep (1:14a).”
In chapter two he continues by mentioning Hymanaeus and Philetus and says their words, “. . . eat as doth a canker (2:17a).” Very negative relationship. However, he chooses to focus on our faithfulness, not their unfaithfulness. Notice that their names are surrounded by admonitions to be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus (2:1), endure hardness (2:3a), remember (2:8a), study (2:15), flee youthful lusts (2:22a) and be gentle unto all men (2:24b). Again, negative names surrounded by positive admonitions.
The trend continues in chapter three. His discussion on perilous times (cf. 3:1-9) is followed by the admonition, “But continue thou . . . (3:14a).” Again, the positive agenda outweighs the negative experience.
In chapter four we have it again. Preach the word (4:2a), watch . . . endure . . . and work (4:5) and do thy diligence (4:21). These admonitions surround the negative name mentions of Demas and Alexander the coppersmith.
Our positive list is missing a name! Did you find it? Look again: Christ Jesus (1:1), Christ Jesus our Lord (1:2b), Christ Jesus (1:9b), Christ Jesus (1:13b), Christ Jesus (2:1b), Jesus Christ (2:3b), Jesus Christ (2:8a), Christ Jesus (2:10b), the Lord (2:19a), Christ (2:19b), the Lord (2:22), the Lord (2:24), the Lord (3:11), Christ Jesus (3:12), Christ Jesus (3:15b), the Lord Jesus Christ (4:1), the Lord, the righteous judge (4:8), the Lord (4:14), the Lord (4:17a), the Lord (4:18a) and the Lord Jesus Christ (4:22a). That’s 21 mentions of Jesus personally. That does not include mentions of God or the Holy Spirit in the letter.
Now we can understand the title. Through the good and the bad . . . he abideth faithful (II Tim. 2:13b)! Jesus outnumbers the good and the bad. An old friend (Dean Shook) who died with brain cancer years ago wrote these words in a song called It’s Been Worth Every Mile:
(Verse 1) There's been many trials I've faced, since I started in this race.
There's been times it seems, no help was in sight.
There's been times that the valleys seem so long, dark and cold.
But my LORD has been with me every step of the way.
(Verse 2) There's been many friends I've had, since I started on this way;
Who have said, I'll go with you all the way.
Then they turn and then they're gone, leaving me standing all alone.
But my LORD is my friend all the way.
(Chorus) It's been worth every mile
It's been worth every trial
It's been worth every valley that we've crossed
It's been worth everything that we've faced in His dear name
And it'll be worth it all when we see His face.
Are you feeling betrayed these days? Outnumbered? Press on! Christ has promised to be faithful. You are going to make it. Just hold on.