Sermon for Sunday, May 26, 2024

Approved by God

II Timothy 2:20-26

2 Timothy 2:20–26 (NLT): 20 In a wealthy home some utensils are made of gold and silver, and some are made of wood and clay. The expensive utensils are used for special occasions, and the cheap ones are for everyday use. 21 If you keep yourself pure, you will be a special utensil for honorable use. Your life will be clean, and you will be ready for the Master to use you for every good work.

22 Run from anything that stimulates youthful lusts. Instead, pursue righteous living, faithfulness, love, and peace. Enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts.

23 Again I say, don’t get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights. 24 A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people. 25 Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth. 26 Then they will come to their senses and escape from the devil’s trap. For they have been held captive by him to do whatever he wants.

This is Paul’s letter of encouragement to Timothy, who is both a young man and a young pastor at a church that Paul planted in Ephesus.  It may behoove us all to read the letter that Paul sent to the church just after he left after his first missionary journey.  Timothy is struggling and Paul understands why.  Pricilla and Aquila were appointed by Paul some 20 years after the death and resurrection of Jesus.  Later, Apollos was one of the leaders.  Paul had had struggles with this congregation. 

He spent over three years with them and stopped by on three different missionary journeys.   The last time he was forced out of the city by the Silversmith’s Union as Paul took issue with them making silver trinkets of the Greek goddess Diana.  This is when Timothy becomes the next pastor. So, these letters to Timothy are being sent to him to bring him encouragement. (An interesting note is this is also the last church the Apostle John would lead, after Timothy, before he was arrested and sent to the Isle of Patmos).  It was this city that would lead Paul to be arrested and imprisoned, eventually executed.  It was a city steeped in religion mixed with politics.

It was a city built on the idea that Diana (Artemus) had fallen from the sky and her remains created the front gate (it was a meteorite that had struck this area.  So, everything from a temple, government, and statues were all attributed to Diana, the daughter of Zeus and the sister to Apollo in Greek mythology.  Ephesus once held one of the 7 Wonders of the World, 100 pillars that held the Temple of the goddess Diana and the world’s largest port.  Needless to say, Ephesus was a city of industry and trade, therefore, lots of money.

The church has issues:

  • The desire to split the church, one that is Jewish Christians and the other for Gentile Christians.  The two just couldn’t get along.
  • Hermeneutics:  Greek philosophy was being mixed into the Gospel. False teachers, mixed Jewish law-keeping and ceremonial law with the gospel of grace, caused the danger of syncretism (Gnostics).  Syncretism is blended all religions and practices together to make one.
  • Transcultural issues (transcultural: involving more than one culture).  The Ephesian Artemis, the “great mother goddess”, was the Persians patronized the cult; the high priest was called the “Megabyxus”, a Persian name that means “the one set free for the cult of the divinity”. The original cult statue was made of wood but was probably lost after the great fire of 356 BCE.[1] False teaching began to be accepted in the church.  Artemis (Diana in Egypt), same goddess, different name, taught that Artemis brought life to man (woman was first, not man), thus the argument Paul makes in 1 Timothy 2: 11-15 has nothing to do with women in church leadership, but the false belief that woman is over man in the order of creation.  Not argument in NOT about women, it is about FALSE TEACHING (Gnosticism).
  • Hymenaeus and Philetus were leaders in the church purposely undermining Timothy. (2 Timothy 2:14-19) False teaching that Jesus had already returned began permeating the church and that all who were left were judged by God as sinners, taking the hope of the Gospel and making it meaningless.  It made the church a worthless venture. 
  • It affected Timothy terribly. In Paul’s first letter, Timothy has a very painful issue with his stomach and Paul instructs him to stop drinking just water and drink a little wine.  Timothy’s health was failing as a young man.  He was always sick. (1 Timothy 5:23)

2 Timothy 3:10–17 (NIV): 10 You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, 11 persecutions, sufferings—what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. 12 In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.



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