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Biblical examples of successful handovers (3/4)

We find several clues of how Paul passes the torch to Timothy in Paul’s second letter to Timothy. Aware that the end of both his ministry and his life was approaching, Paul addresses this testament to Timothy as his spiritual son and successor.

Firstly, Paul does not pass the torch to a stranger, but to someone he knows well. He knows Timothy’s family and spiritual background, as well as the story of his conversion[1]. Timothy trained alongside Paul and became his co-worker[2]. Paul also knows Timothy’s weaknesses and shortcomings: he is still young, unexperienced, in fragile health and with a reserved personality[3], to lead the churches in Ephesus.

But Paul’s knowledge of these weaknesses does not make him question Timothy’s calling. On the contrary, he dares to trust him and shows him his solidarity. He assures Timothy of his regular support in prayer and reminds him of the sign of solidarity[4]. Paul encourages Timothy to “fan into flame the gift of God” and to “discharge the duties of his ministry” by depending on the power of the Holy Spirit[5]!

Then Paul invites Timothy to “continue in” what is essential, to “fight the good fight” of faith without being trapped in false battles[6]. This good fight consists of “guarding the good deposit”, “the sound doctrine” [7] of the Gospel, the apostolic truth of what we believe, of being ready to suffer for the Gospel[8], of continuing to “preach the word” of God, the central message of which is the Gospel of Christ resurrected, whatever the result might be, with both patience and a sense of urgency[9]. And Timothy himself must also be prepared to pass the torch of the Gospel to others[10].

Finally, Paul exhorts Timothy to draw all his strength from the grace of God which is in Jesus Christ[11]! Succeeding Paul is no small task! We need grace not only for our salvation[12], but also for our service.

Tetsuya Miyasaka

[1] 2 Timothy 1.5.
[2] 2 Timothy 3.10-11; Acts 16.1-3.
[3] 2 Tim. 2.22; 1.7-8; 1 Tim. 4.12; 5.23.
[4] 2 Tim. 1.3, 6.
[5] 2 Tim. 1.6, 7-8; 4.5.
[6] 2 Tim. 3.14; 4.7; 2.16-18; 3.1-9.
[7] 2 Tim. 1.12-14; 4.3.
[8] 2 Tim. 1.8; 2.3; 3.12.
[9] 2 Tim. 4.1-5; 1.10; 2.8.
[10] 2 Tim. 2.2.
[11] 2 Tim. 2.1.
[12] 2 Tim. 1.9.

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