1:1-2:20 – If God is to be glorified through the preaching of His Word, there needs to be more than the ‘words’ of the preacher. There needs to be ‘the power of the Holy Spirit’ (1:5). Good preaching is not a matter of ‘plausible words of wisdom’. We must look for ‘a demonstration of the Spirit’s power’ (1 Corinthians 2:4). When the Spirit is at work, there is effective communication, leading to a life-changing encounter with God. ‘When you received the Word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as it really is, the Word of God, which is at work in you believers’ (13). Don’t let God’s Word ‘go in one ear and out the other’. The ‘message’ will do you no good if you don’t hear it ‘with faith’ – ‘Today, when you hear His voice, harden not your hearts’ (Hebrews 4:2; 3:15).
1:1-2:12 – For ‘all those who have believed’, ‘the Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ’ will be a great Day, the Day of celebration, the Day of our salvation, the Day of ‘our being gathered to Him’ (2:1; 1:10). ‘When the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven’, it will be a Day of judgment for ‘those who do not know God and do not obey the Gospel of our Lord Jesus’ (1:7-8). The Word of God is very clear about God’s purpose of salvation: ‘God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him’. ‘The Lord does not want anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance’. ‘God wants all people to be saved’ (John 3:17; 2 Peter 3:9; 1 Timothy 2:4). You can say ‘No’ to Christ – and perish. Say “Yes’ to Him – ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved’ (2:10; John 3:18; Acts 16:31).
1:1-2:15 – ‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners’. Paul has something special to say about this statement. This is what he says – ‘Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance’ (1:15). This is Paul’s message, the message of the Gospel: ‘Christ Jesus gave Himself as a ransom for all’ (2:5-6). Paul speaks of ‘the glorious Gospel of the blessed God’ (1:11). He speaks as a man with a testimony: ‘I received mercy… the grace of our Lord overflowed for me’ (1:13-14). God is still looking for people who will say, with Paul, ‘I am not ashamed of the Gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith’, ‘God forbid that I should glory save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (Romans 1:16; Galatians 6:14). May God help us, in our generation, to be ‘eager to preach the Gospel’ (Romans 1:15).
1:1-2:7 – God’s Word is not to be kept to ourselves. Paul was called by God to be a ‘preacher’ of the ‘Gospel’ (11). He passed God’s Word on to Timothy, encouraging him to share the message with ‘faithful’ people who would pass it on to others’ (13; 2:2). Everyone has their part to play. Things didn’t come to a standstill when Paul wasn’t around. Timothy was to make sure that everything didn’t revolve around himself. There were others who were to carry the work of God forward. We must not make too much of certain individuals. The work of the Lord is always much more than the work done by any one person. God is always looking for more people who will take up the challenge of seeing that His work is not left undone. Serve the Lord in the ‘power’ of ‘the Holy Spirit’. Trust Him – His work is ‘safe in His hands’ (1:7,14,12).
1:1-2:10 – How are we to live? We are not to be ‘empty talkers’, people who ‘profess to know God’ and ‘deny Him by their deeds’ (1:10,16). We must give no one the opportunity to ‘speak evil of God’s Word’. We must be ‘a model of good deeds’, showing ‘the beauty of the teachings about God our Saviour in everything we do’ (2:5,7,10). When we live in a Christlike way, ‘those who oppose’ Christ and His Gospel will be ‘put to shame, having nothing evil to say of us’ (2:8). This is how we are to live. How do we live? This is a question for all of us. It is a question which will make us feel uncomfortable. We don’t find it easy to look closely at the way we live our lives. We won’t get away with glossing over things. God calls us to pray, ‘Search me, O God… Cleanse me from every sin…’ (Psalm 139:23-24; Mission Praise, 587).
‘He was useless… now he has become useful’(11). This is the story of Onesimus (the name means ‘useful’). A runaway ‘slave’, he became ‘a beloved brother… in the Lord’(16). It appears that Onesimus had stolen from his master, Philemon (18-19). He landed up in prison – and there, he was converted! This is what Paul is telling us when he speaks of ‘Onesimus, whose father I have become in my imprisonment’(10). Why did God allow Paul, His faithful servant, to land up in prison – for the sake of the Gospel? Part of the reason was Onesimus. God wanted Paul to meet Onesimus. Paul was to lead Onesimus to Christ. Sometimes, our difficult circumstances may feel like a prison sentence. You want to get out, but you can’t – until God has fulfilled His purpose: the ‘useless’ becomes ‘useful’- in the service of God.
1:1-2:9 – From the heights of heaven and the depths of suffering, ‘God… has spoken to us by His Son’ (1:1-2). Jesus Christ is God’s ‘Word’ to us. He is ‘the Word’ who came from heaven: ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God’. He is ‘the Word’ who came to earth: ‘the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…’ (John 1:1-14). In heaven, He is worshipped by angels: ‘Let all God’s angels worship Him’ (1:6). On earth, ‘He suffered death, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone’ (2:9). We see the greatness of Christ in both His heavenly glory and His saving grace. None can compare with Him. He is our Lord. He is our Saviour. We consider all that He has done for us – ‘the nail marks in His hands…’ – and we worship Him – ‘my Lord and my God’ (John 20:19-20,24-28).
1:1-27 – Even the most difficult times can have a godly effect on us – when we ask God for wisdom: ‘Lord, what are You teaching me in this?’ (2-5). Humanly speaking, we may be ‘in humble circumstances’. Spiritually speaking, we are in a ‘high position’ (9). Our position is to become even higher – ‘the crown of life’ (12). Before that happens, there will be many temptations (13-15). We can face these temptations with confidence in the God of faithfulness and His ‘Word of truth’ (16-18). God’s ‘Word’ is ‘planted in us’ so that we may become ‘doers of the Word, and not hearers only’ (21-22). Don’t let God’s Word ‘go in one ear and out the other’ – ‘like water off a duck’s back’. Let there be His controlling – ‘a tight rein on the tongue’, caring – looking after the needy, and cleansing – ‘unstained from the world’ (26-27).
1:1-25 – On earth, we have ‘trials’. In ‘heaven’, we will have ‘salvation’ (3-9). In our journey from trials to salvation, from earth to heaven, we are to live a life of holiness and love. In this life of ‘obedience to the truth’, we must never forget that we have been ‘redeemed with the precious blood of Christ’ (15,22,18-19). We must never take pride in our obedience – ‘boasting is excluded’. All that can be said about ourselves is this: ‘all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’. What makes the difference? What is it that changes us? What is it that sets us on the pathway of holiness and love? We have received ‘the redemption which is in Christ Jesus’. Our ‘faith’ is in Him (Romans 3:27,23-25). He makes the difference. He changes us. He makes us holy. He fills us with His love.
2:1-25 – Being ‘God’s own people’ is a great privilege – ‘you have received mercy’. It is also a great responsibility – ‘declare the wonderful deeds of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvellous light’ (9-10). God’s people are described as ‘strangers in the world’ (11). We must not think of ourselves as ‘superior’ – ‘a cut above the rest’. We are not! In ourselves, we are ‘strangers’ – ‘without God in the world’. There’s nothing ‘special’ about us, There’s something very special about what God has done for us: ‘In Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ’ (Ephesians 2:12-13). As those who ‘have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of our souls’, let’s point others to Him who ‘bore our sins…that we might die to sin and live to righteousness’ (24-25).
3:1-4:6 – The world is preoccupied with outward appearances. As Christians, we should be more concerned with our inward attitude. ‘In your hearts reverence Christ as Lord’. Pray for His ‘attitude’ – ‘a tender heart and a humble mind’ (8,15; 4:1). We believe the Gospel – ‘Christ died for our sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring us to God’. Let’s share the Gospel – ‘Be always ready to give…a reason for the hope that is in you’. How are we to share the Gospel? – ‘with gentleness and respect’ (18,15). We must get the attitude right – ‘so that nothing will hinder our prayers’ (7). We need more than the ‘right’ prayers – words that sound good. We need the right attitude. The blessing will not come because our words sound good. It will only come when our attitude is right.
4:7-5:14 – In all the service we offer to God, there is to be the offering of worship: ‘To Him be the glory and the power for ever and ever’ (4:11; 5:11). We will not learn to serve God unless we are learning to worship Him. There is a ‘form of religion’ which ‘denies the power’ of God – ‘These people honour Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me’ (2 Timothy 3:5; Matthew 15:8). They go through the motions – but their hearts are not in it! We must pray that God will deliver us from this kind of thing: ‘O for a heart to praise my God! A heart from sin set free; A heart that always feels Thy blood, so freely shed for me’ (Church Hymnary, 85). ‘Religion’ is about respectability. Salvation is about renewal: ‘Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me’ (Psalm 51:10).
1:1-2:10a – God ‘has given us His very great and precious promises’ (1:4). God has a great purpose for us. He is preparing for us ‘a rich welcome into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ’ (11). The pathway to heavenly and eternal glory is not an easy one. Often, we will be tempted to settle for being ‘ineffective and unproductive in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ’. There will be many distractions, drawing our attention away from Christ. We must keep our eyes on Him if we are not to become ‘blind and short-sighted’. We can so easily forget the most important thing – we have been ‘cleansed from our old sins’. It is so important that we keep looking to Christ, remembering what He has done for us and giving thanks to Him (1:8-9). ‘The Lord’ will not fail us in our ‘trials’ (2:9). Let’s not fail Him!
2:10b-3:18 – ‘Grow’ in Christ and give ‘glory’ to Him. Centred on ‘our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ’, our life is filled with ‘grace’ and ‘glory’. From Him, we receive ‘grace’ – ‘From the fulness of His grace we have all received one blessing after another’. From Him, we receive ‘glory’ – ‘I have given them the glory that You gave Me’ (3:18; John 1:16; 17:22). Where does this life of grace and glory begin? It begins with God. In ourselves, there is sin. In Him, there is salvation. ‘He is patient with us’. He waits for us to ‘come to repentance’. He shows us our sin so that we might learn to look to our Saviour – ‘Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation’ (3:9; 2 Corinthians 7:10). Turn to the Lord. Let it be real. Let Him lead you in His pathway – the pathway of grace and glory.
‘Look to yourselves, that you may not lose what you have worked for, but may win a full reward’ (8). Don’t let things slip. Build on the work that has already been done. This will not be easy – ‘many deceivers have already gone out into the world’. Such people do nothing but harm. They are wreckers. They will destroy the work of God – and think nothing of it. They are ‘antichrist’. They are doing ‘wicked work’ (7,10). When God’s work and God’s glory are at stake, we dare not be too ‘easy-going’. The ‘anything goes’ attitude will undermine the work of God – if we’re not careful. ‘A charge to keep I have, a God to glorify…To serve the present age, my calling to fulfil…Arm me with jealous care, as in Thy sight to live; and O, Thy servant, Lord, prepare, a strict account to give’ (Revised Church Hymnary, 518).
Some people do a lot of good. Others do a great deal of harm. Diotrephes thought he was a big ‘star’. He ‘loves to be first’. He ‘likes to put himself first’. He wasn’t a star. He was a disaster! He took ‘nothing to do with’ God’s servants. He did ‘not acknowledge’ the authority’ of Christ’s apostle. He was ‘gossiping maliciously about’ God’s servants. He did not make people feel ‘welcome’. He drove people ‘out of the church’ (9-10). Demetrius was very different. He was ‘well spoken of by everyone – and even by the truth itself’. He wasn’t just popular. He was real, genuine, true. There was a ring of truth about him. These were no empty words of flattery. God’s ‘true’ servants said, ‘We also speak well of him’ (12). What kind of person are you?
The wrong kind of people had come among God’s people: ‘certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you…godless men…’ (4). Such people do not like to hear the words, ‘The Lord rebuke you’. They ‘speak abusively against’ those who speak the Word of the Lord to them (9-10). God’s Word warns us against such people: ‘In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires. These are the men who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit’ (18-19). With people like this around – life gets like a ‘minefield’. You never know where the next “explosion’ is going to come from! How can we ‘stand tall’ and not be dragged down by this kind of thing? ‘Keep yourselves in the love of God’ – He ‘is able to keep you from falling’ (21,24).
1:1-20 – This is ‘the revelation of Jesus Christ’ (1). It comes from Him and it speaks of Him. Christ ‘loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood’ (5). We rejoice in Him. Christ is ‘coming with the clouds’ (7). We must get ready for Him. ‘The revelation of Jesus Christ’ calls for our response. It is not ‘for information only’. We are to ‘pay attention to what is written in it’. We are to ‘take it to heart’. We are to ‘do what it says’ (3). Christ reveals Himself to us. Is it for our benefit only? Is it just to make us ‘feel good’? No! We are to share with others what the Lord is teaching us. Christ said to John, ‘Write what you see’ (19). Don’t keep it to yourself. Share Christ. Tell others about Him. Tell them what the Lord has done for you. Speak His words of love: ‘Come…and learn from Me’ (Matthew 11:28-30).