2 Timothy 2:15-18 NASB
“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a worker who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. But avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, men who have gone astray from the truth, claiming that the resurrection has already taken place; and they are jeopardizing the faith of some.” (Emphasis is mine).
What Paul is talking about here is people who propagate unsound doctrine, distorting the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Like Hymenaeus and Philetus, men who have gone astray from the truth. Note that Paul is NOT talking about the unfairness of the Roman occupation, or the injustice of imposed Roman restrictions, because from Paul’s perspective, that is not even worth mentioning. Bear that in mind as you read further.
If you read the information presented at the following link, it will give you an idea of what the Jews in Jerusalem and throughout Judea (including the Christian converts), had to deal with, under Roman rule, leading up to the destruction of the second temple in 70 AD.
The date of the Apostle Paul’s death is believed to have occurred after the Great Fire of Rome in July 64, but before the last year of Nero’s reign, in 68. Sulpicius Severus (403 AD) describes the martyrdom of Paul citing that Nero condemned Paul to death by decapitation at Rome.
Of course, we recall how in Galatians, the Apostle Paul identifies the unjust taxes being put upon the Jews and also in 1st Corinthians how imposed Roman religious restrictions were hampering the spread of the Gospel.
Don’t bother looking those up in Galatians or 1st Corinthians because they are not there. I just made that up. You’re not going to find any criticism about the fairness of the Roman occupation and control of Jerusalem or Judea because Paul never addresses that. Paul’s focus was on a different heavenly Kingdom, not a worldly one, one which centred solely on the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Humour me if you will, while we review some of the things that Jesus told us. Let’s see what Jesus said about worrying about tomorrow: Matthew 6:25-30 NASB covers that –
“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is life not more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the sky, that they do not sow, nor reap, nor gather crops into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more important than they? And which of you by worrying can add a single day to his life’s span? And why are you worried about clothing? Notice how the lilies of the field grow; they do not labor nor do they spin thread for cloth, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith!” (Emphasis is mine)
And what did Jesus tell us about worrying about what would take place prior to His return? Mark 13:3-13 NASB covers that –
“As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew were questioning Him privately, “Tell us, when will these things come about, and what will be the sign when all these things are going to be fulfilled?” And Jesus began to say to them, “See to it that no one misleads you. Many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He!’ and they will mislead many. When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed; those things must take place; but that is not yet the end. For nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will also be famines. These things are only the beginning of birth pains. “But be on your guard; for they will hand you over to the courts, and you will be flogged in the synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them. And the gospel must first be preached to all the nations. And when they arrest you and hand you over, do not worry beforehand about what you are to say, but say whatever is given you at that time; for you are not the ones speaking, but it is the Holy Spirit. And brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and have them put to death. And you will be hated by everyone because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved.” (Again, emphasis is mine)
Did you notice that part about “those things must take place”? Did you see anything in there that said that we should fight against the evil that will unfold, in order to stop it or slow it down? Is there anything in the NT that tells us to specifically rally against the governing authorities, anywhere? And why do you think that part is missing?
Could it possibly be that the Kingdom that we are now part of is not a worldly kingdom? Consequently worldly matters is not our primary concern, but rather, spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ is and enduring to the end, as necessary, is of a greater importance?
Whenever these above Scriptures come into my mind, the following Scripture accompanies them – Romans 14:7-8 NASB “For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.”
When we get caught up in worldly matters, when it becomes our message and spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ is no longer our sole priority, what exactly is happening? I submit two things, a lack of faith motivated by fear.
Either we believe that this new life in Christ that we have been given is just the beginning and not the end, when these physical bodies die, or we don’t and when we allow our fears and lack of faith to override the reality of the Kingdom of God, that is our inheritance, we show that to the world.
I am not advocating sticking our heads in the sand, be aware of what is happening around you, but that is NOT the message that Jesus gave us to give to the world. We are supposed to be in the world and not of the world. And what we do when we allow our lack of faith and fear to override the reality of our inheritance in the Lord, is show the world that we are in the world and of the world, just like they are. Do you honestly think that what you talk about to others or post on social media is not noticed by others? If you are advocating the peace and love that comes from a relationship with God but in the next breath you are advocating distrust in all of the worldly circumstances that are unfolding around you, do you honestly believe that is a witness to the saving grace of Jesus Christ? If we as Christian witnesses are no different from our unsaved neighbour, then what is the world does being in the world but not of the world really mean?
Considering all that the writers of the New Testament had to deal with, around them, it is no coincidence that they, without exception, did not get caught up in the local worldly chatter. My question to anyone who does, is why do you?
Is it just possible that their faith in Jesus and the Gospel (Good News) that He made possible, so convinced them of the reality of the Kingdom of God, that this world and all that is in it, faded away into insignificance? Considering that they were the ones, through the empowerment of God’s Holy Spirit, that turned the world upside down, I’d have a tendency to think so.
Whether we live or die, we live or die unto the Lord!
Worthy is the Lamb! Blessings!