Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel, for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God’s word is not chained.
2 Timothy 2:8-9 (NIV)
Read: 2 Timothy 2:1-13
Consider: Paul’s second letter to Timothy was written when he was imprisoned in Rome, awaiting trial and possible execution. In this part of his letter, Paul mentions his personal suffering (2 Timothy 2:3). Later he mentions that he is suffering because of the gospel message that he has been sharing (2:8-9).
In 2 Timothy 2:8-9 Paul uses contrasting images to convey a powerful message about the Word of God. He describes himself as being: ‘… chained like a criminal’, then goes on to say: ‘But God’s word is not chained’. Think about how prisoners were chained in the past and you will get an indication of what Paul means here. While he, being chained, was restricted in what he could do, God’s word is totally unfettered and unrestricted.
In Hebrews 4:12 we read: For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Do you see God’s Word as ‘dry and dusty’ and irrelevant, or do you see it as ‘alive and active’, totally relevant to life today?
In Isaiah 55:10-11 it says: As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: it will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. Utilising God’s Word in conversations about our faith is never wasted, as God can achieve much through it. This applies equally to the reading of Scripture in church, whether in a service or in home groups. The authority for and basis of our faith is firmly rooted in the Bible, so use it to confirm to others what you believe.
Why bother to read and meditate on God’s Word? In Paul’s letter to the church in Rome he says: For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope (Romans 15:4). We can use God’s Word for our own encouragement, as well as to encourage others. Additionally, God’s Word can act as a warning to us and others. In 1 Corinthians 10:11 Paul says: These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come.
Spend time in understanding and memorising the Word of God. Don’t be afraid to read it with other people. Trust God that it is alive and active, relevant to today. Recognise that it can be used as an encouragement, as well as a warning.
Pray: Father, we thank you that your Word is unchained and able to achieve the purpose for which you sent it. May we spend time getting to know your Word better, so that we can use it to encourage and warn others. Amen