Studies in 2 Timothy for CU leaders: Running the race

2 timothy 1:1-18 : Term 1

'On the blocks' - preparations for leadership…

2 Timothy seems to have been Paul's last letter to Timothy before he died. Writing as someone imprisoned for the gospel, we see Paul ‘passing on the baton’ in preparing Timothy for both the opportunities and difficulties of the leadership he now faces. As these are reflected on, we find principles that should also be ours as we enter a year of leadership and take up this same baton passed down the centuries to us.

  1. What prerequisite does Paul look for before encouraging the development of gifts (cf.1v3-7)? Construct an action plan under the headings of bible study, prayer, and church fellowship: of how you are going to ensure that your faith becomes, or remains, secure throughout the year?
  2. What does Paul encourage Timothy to do with his gift? List two key gifts that you think you may have, and two areas of concern for which you feel unable this year?
  3. It is important to consider these areas to ensure your own development during this year. List two steps that you are going to seek to apply to develop each of your main gifts this year, and two steps to tackle the areas that you don't feel particularly able in?
  4. What does Paul's instructions about Timothy’s gift suggest about Timothy's own confidence in leadership? How is 1v7 an encouragement to him and us? Why do you think that Paul stresses these three attributes to Timothy, and in what similar areas do you particularly think you will need each of them?
  5. To Paul, Christian leadership meant suffering (cf.2Tim3v12). In what ways do you think that you may be called to suffer in your leadership this year?
  6. In speaking of suffering, Paul gives much space in 1v8-14 to simply outlining the gospel. Why do you think he does so?
  7. List the different aspects of the work and implications of the gospel from these verses. Why is the gospel a motivation for Paul, and how should v12 be especially for us? How can you deepen your understanding of the gospel as Paul outlines it both in i) doctrine, and ii) implication, this year?
  8. In what ways might we need to fulfil Paul's commands of 1v8a and 1v13-14: i) with CU members ii) overseeing the CU as a whole? How might you be tempted to compromise in these areas? What guidelines do the verses give to help you guard against this?
  9. What does 1v15 hint that we might experience as a response to our leadership? What do verses 1v16-18 demonstrate helped to offset any demoralisation for Paul? How can you therefore ensure that you 'refresh' one-another - perhaps you could agree a ‘covenant of support’ between one-another as leaders?
  10. On your own, or with another leader where possible, pray through the areas for development that you have highlighted, ask God for his help, and commit yourselves to suffering for the gospel in this coming year.

2 timothy 2:1-26 : Term 2

‘The first leg’ – priorities for perseverance…

Getting going is only the start of leadership. What is more important, is that we persevere in our service no matter what is faced. It is likely that 2 Timothy was written when Christians were suffering persecution from the Roman emperor Nero. However, the obvious temptation to give up, was not the only problem they faced. In this chapter, Paul also urges Timothy to stand firm against the timeless temptations of doctrinal error, and ungodliness. As we read, we too find ourselves urged to persevere, and guard ourselves and our CU’s at a time when such problems are no less real.

  1. Jot down two or three feelings that you have about you leadership within the CU as you look towards its remaining time?
  2. What is to be the source of Timothy’s strength within hardship? How can we ensure that we are strengthened in this same way?
  3. What warnings and encouragements does Paul give through his three examples in v3 7 for ‘enduring hardship like a good soldier of Christ Jesus’?
  4. As seen also in chapter 1, Paul’s main motivation is the gospel itself. How should his ‘gospel’ motivation in v8-13, drive us on in suffering service for Christ this year - consider: i) God’s work through the gospel ii) the purpose of the gospel, and iii) the perspective of the gospel on future glory rather than present difficulty?
In v2, Paul highlights the priority of ensuring that the true gospel is passed on to others, and it seems that v14 refers Timothy back to these ‘others’. Timothy is being spoken to here as a teacher with specific responsibilities, however v14-26 do provide principles that are applicable to every Christian as we ‘teach and admonish one-another’ with the word of Christ Col3:16.
  1. In what ways does the CU fulfil Paul’s command in v2? And what should we therefore ensure those within the CU are reminded of both by us in individual conversation, and through those asked to speak and lead meetings cf. v14?
  2. 6 v14-26 display what might seem a tension between quarrelling over words, and instructing in truth. Considering the results outlined in v14-18 that stem from the quarrelling over words: what do you think the distinction is? How does Paul emphasise the seriousness of such ‘quarrelling’ in these verses?
  3. List the principles Paul gives us in these verses for dealing with those who distort the gospel in this way: i) in prevention ii) in action iii) in attitude?
  4. How is Paul’s comment in v19 intended to be an encouragement to us in this task?
  5. Why is holiness so important when involved in such leadership v20-21? Why do you think Paul stresses the particular areas of holiness he does in v22-26?
  6. Bring before God in repentance and commitment: i) any situations where you have been guilty of ‘godless chatter’ ii) situations that you are aware of where you have needed, or currently need to act to ‘guard the gospel’ iii) areas where you lack the holiness required to be an ‘instrument for noble purposes’?

2 timothy 3:1-4:22 : Term 3

'Completing the race' - foundations for the future…

As mentioned in the first study, 2 Timothy seems to have been Paul's last letter to Timothy before he died. As Paul draws his letter to a close, we come across the things of greatest priority to him as he prepares Timothy for his Christian life and service in the future. This passage therefore provides principles to govern our priorities as we also look ahead to our Christian life and service.

  1. Read the whole passage: the context suggests Paul is talking primarily of issues within the church!! List the marks of 'ungodliness' that Paul therefore predicts will be evident within the church during these 'last days'?
  2. Can you think of any specific issues or examples both within and outside the church today that fulfil Paul's statements of: i) 3v5 ii) 3v7 iii) 4v3-4?
  3. List the attitudes and experiences throughout the passage, that Paul's life demonstrates should mark us in standing firm as 'godly' Christians within such an environment?
  4. In v14-17, what action does Paul urge Timothy and us to take in protecting ourselves against 'ungodliness'? What basis does he give for the reliability of the two aspects to this (cf.3:14 & 1:13 / 3:16)?
  5. What does Paul's prime instruction to Timothy as a church leader suggest the top priority should be in our choosing a church in the future? How important does 4v1 suggest Paul regards this? Why must this be so central when considering the problems outlined? What wrong priorities do we or our churches instead have today?
  6. What perspective does Paul have that makes the struggle of the Christian life all worthwhile (cf. 4:6-8)?
  7. What securities does Paul recognize we have as we fight on towards this goal (4v16-18)?
  8. What particular problems and difficulties are you likely to face after graduation to which the truths of this passage will especially apply?
  9. In prayer, commit yourself to i) godliness ii) deepening in God’s word, and iii) wholeheartedly serving God with your future - both during the remainder of your time as a student, and beyond. Write this commitment down as something to look back on in the years to come.