If someone walked up to you and questioned you, “Why?” again and again, where would you end up? How do you know that what you have believed all your life is really true? What is your justification?
Paul wrote 2 Timothy to Timothy during the last years of his life as he was imprisoned in a dungeon, awaiting execution. So in a sense, 2 Timothy is Paul’s last “will,” and he uses this opportunity to emphasize again and again the paramount importance of clinging the firm foundation of God’s Word:
“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed…” (2 Tim 3:14).
“But as for you” draws a comparison with verses 12 and 13 where Paul states, “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and imposters will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.” On one side, there’s the desire to live a godly life in Christ, resulting in persecution. On the other side, there’s evil and deception, resulting in further deception. “But as for you” is then stating, “You, as one who desires to live a godly life in Christ, are different from the world–you won’t be deceived nor deceive–and this is how.” In turn, it’s also implied that if you do not do so, holding fast to Scripture, you’ll deceive and be deceived, neither knowing nor being able to discern the truth. You will be lost in lies.
“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim 3:14-15).
What has Timothy learned and firmly believed? The word of God, the “sacred writings,” the gospel (1:8,13). This is not just any writing or any story but the able and imperatively relevant word of God. Take a second and ponder the fact that God’s Word is able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
Scripture is powerful, eternal, profound, and so much more. It tells the truth: the true nature of God, the true nature of man, and the true gospel–Jesus Christ, who is fully God, was born fully human to this earth, died to take the punishment for our sins, and rose again that we may have life with Him eternally if we trust in Him. Through His word, God accomplishes the convicting of a heart and the saving of a soul.
From whom did Timothy learn Scripture? He was taught Scripture by his mother and grandmother, who were sincere believers (1:5), and he had heard the gospel from Paul (1:8,18; 2:2). The question here would then be, why does Timothy need to know from whom he learned God’s word, and why does he need to know how he has been acquainted with Scripture since he was young?
Think about it this way: Those who teach God’s true word believe it themselves. Thus, they should set an example, both in living out and in testifying to its power. These are people who have been and continue to be undeniably transformed by Scripture. So “knowing from whom you learned it” would mean clinging to Scripture, eyes set on the example and testimony of those who follow God’s word. Let us learn from and be reminded of them.
“Knowing from whom you learned it” can also mean understanding and trusting the reliability of that source. Doesn’t the New Testament pass the historicity test with flying colors? Weren’t the disciples, even Thomas, radically transformed from fearful sheep into bold martyrs after witnessing the resurrection of Jesus? Doesn’t Paul’s life bear powerful testimony to the veracity of Scripture? It’s always good to remind oneself of the hard evidence for the truth of God’s word.
The second action, I believe, is what the second part of knowing–“how from childhood you have been acquainted…”–refers to. If you were raised knowing the Bible, then you might have noticed how its words are true and have impacted your life. Those moments of conviction, awe, and understanding are all testimonies to the living and active word of God. Even if you weren’t raised so, you can still cling to Scripture, knowing that you have encountered its power and truth firsthand. And if you have not, then I encourage you to set aside a time, sit down, and study the Bible.
Having established the why’s of trusting God’s word, Paul again emphasizes its utmost excellence and wholeness:
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim 3:16-17).
All of Scripture, no less, is God’s word, and it is perfectly sufficient to make believers complete. Paul elaborates on this “completeness” by providing a parallel description: “equipped for every good work.” To be equipped means to have everything you need–equipped for every good work. Through Scripture, God grants us everything we need to fulfill His calling. We fulfill His calling by doing things for His glory, putting what God has taught or convicted us of through His word into practice.
God’s word has the information and power to teach and mold us to be more and more like Christ if we would only listen carefully. God’s word is the living and active word of God that is able to make us wise for salvation if we would only pay attention. And God’s word is truth, so stand firm in it.
It’s incredibly easy to be swept away by everything happening around us, but God calls believers to shine as lights in the world (Phil 2:15). In 2 Timothy, Paul makes it clear that the only way believers can stay free of all the deception and lies of the devil is by standing firm on God’s word.
How often do you remember who you are and in whom you place your trust? Do you remember to hold fast to the word of life? Are your thoughts, actions, and standards aligned with Scripture? Do you seek to know God’s word inside out?
As you head into the school year, make reading God’s word part of your daily schedule. Ask the Lord to give you insight and a love for His word. Memorize Scripture (I never realized the value of doing so until I did it). Study it, and apply it, allowing God to transform you through the power and truth of the Bible.
Hymn Spotlight: “Victory in Jesus”
Verse Spotlight: 1 Peter 1:23-25
… you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for
“All flesh is like grass
and all its glory like the flower of grass.
The grass withers,
and the flower falls,
but the word of the Lord remains forever.”
And this word is the good news that was preached to you.
Image from Pixabay.