The first chapter of John’s gospel
elaborates on the
incarnation of Jesus Christ
any other passage in the Bible.
John wanted his readers to know that
Jesus was the absolute revelation of God in human form:
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us,
we beheld His glory,
the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,
full of grace and truth”
(John 1:14, NKJV).
is the Logos, Jesus Christ Himself.
He became “flesh,” meaning the divine Son of God became human,
(Romans 8:3; Philippians 2:7; 1 Timothy 3:16; 1 John 4:2; 2 John 7).
God revealed Himself to the people of the world through His Son, Jesus.
Christ showed us God’s glory.
"We have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s
one and only Son,”
The author of Hebrews further illuminates:
"The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the
very character of God”
(Hebrews 1:3, NLT).
The statement that “we beheld His glory”
links Jesus to the Old Testament
At this earthly tent of meeting, Yahweh’s divine presence and glory dwelled and visibly manifested among the people of Israel. They saw His glory in the fire, pillar of smoke, and cloud (Exodus 40:34). In the New Testament, God’s glorious presence was made visible in the living Word, who was clothed in flesh and “tabernacled” among us in the person of Jesus Christ. John 1:14 actually uses a form of the Greek word for “tabernacle” to describe Jesus’ taking on human flesh.
Jesus revealed His glory for the first time publicly
wedding in Cana, and, as a result, “his disciples believed in him”
(John 2:11, NLT).
Mathew and Luke recorded the scene of
Christ’s transfiguration when Peter, James, and John beheld a
glimpse of His unveiled glory
(Matthew 17:2; Luke 9:32).
Peter testified firsthand to the transfiguration:
"For we were not making up clever stories when we told you about the powerful coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. We saw his majestic splendor with our own eyes when he received honor and glory from God the Father. The voice from the majestic glory of God said to him, ‘This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy"
(2 Peter 1:16–17, NLT).
When John said, “We beheld His glory,” he was giving
eyewitness testimony to the incarnation--
that God Himself had come to earth embodied in the Son:
We proclaim to you the one who existed from the beginning,
whom we have heard and seen.
We saw him with our own eyes and touched him with our own hands.
He is the Word of life
(1 John 1:1, NLT).
Not only John, but all the disciples had seen Jesus and beheld His glory with their own eyes. These apostles could all testify that the Father had sent Jesus to be the Savior of the world
(1 John 4:14).
Other teachers were likely spreading false ideas about Jesus
the truth of the incarnation.
But the teachings of John and the other disciples were trustworthy
because these men had
hearing, seeing, and touching Jesus
The miracles of Jesus revealed God’s glory
(John 11:4, 40).
The word for “glory” in John 1:14 means “a state of high honor.”
Those who witnessed Christ’s miracles--
beheld His glory--saw and understood
was worthy of the highest honor and praise
(John 4:53; 9:38; 20:29)
The suffering and death of Jesus also revealed God’s glory
(John 17:1, 5; Romans 8:18).
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”
The Lord instructs us to view our trials as pure joy; which is totally opposite
from the human mindset
Everything Jesus did brought praise and honor to God
all who beheld His glory and believed in Him received
His gift of salvation
(John 12:16; 13:31–32; 20:30–31; Philippians 2:9–11; Ephesians 1:12).
Paul taught that Satan blinds the eyes of unbelievers so they cannot behold God’s glory or understand the message of salvation in Jesus Christ.
They “are unable
to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God”
(2 Corinthians 4:4, NLT).
But praise God,
who through Jesus Christ our Lord lets
His light shine in our hearts so we can
“know the glory of God that is
seen in the face of Jesus Christ”
(2 Corinthians 4:6, NLT).
Second Timothy is likely the final letter that the apostle Paul wrote. It is written to Timothy, who was his “son in the faith” (1 Timothy 1:2) and personal envoy. Paul would send Timothy to churches to help take care of problems when Paul was unable to go there himself.
In 2 Timothy 4:2, Paul writes,
“Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.”
In his final epistle, Paul tells Timothy how to build up the church where he is ministering, and he gives instructions that apply to all pastors and ultimately to all believers. In chapter 4, Paul begins to conclude his letter and gives Timothy his instructions “in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom” (verse 1)—in other words, this is really important.
The one thing of supreme importance that Paul
wants to impress upon
Timothy is his duty to “preach the word”
and to “be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction”
This preaching of the Word is necessary because
“the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine.
Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a
great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.
They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths”
People normally tend to be comfortable with falsehood,
and Timothy must combat this tendency by being
ready at all times to preach the truth,
to preach the Word of God.
The Word spoken of here is the Bible—biblical truth.
This is to be the content of preaching.
Pastors have a
biblical mandate to preach-the written Word of God.
Some might ask how this can apply to the everyday Christian who does not have the opportunity to preach in a church service.
The answer comes from a proper understanding of the word translated “preach.”
The word translated “preach” is the Greek word keyroxon, which simply means
"publish or proclaim openly.”
When Paul tells Timothy to preach the Word, the idea of a formal setting
behind a pulpit or in a church service is not present. Nor does it connote a certain
style of speech—“preaching” vs. “teaching” vs. “normal conversation.”
In the context of 2 Timothy,
any presentation of the truth of God’s Word is “preaching.”
Therefore, any Christian can and should do this.
Preaching or proclaiming the Word can happen in an informal conversation over coffee or in a formal counseling session. Parents can proclaim the Word to their children around the dinner table, in the backyard, or on a vacation to the beach. The Word can be proclaimed on TV, radio, and the internet (e.g., Got Questions). The Word can be proclaimed by books, magazine articles, and email. The Word can be proclaimed through Facebook posts and Tweets. The Word can be proclaimed through music and the visual arts. The Word can be proclaimed by a get well card to a sick friend. The Word can be proclaimed by a public billboard or in a private telephone conversation. The Word can be proclaimed by men, women, and children of every age and station in life. And, yes, the Word can and should be proclaimed when the church gathers together for corporate worship (whether the pastor “preaches” from behind a pulpit or sits on a stool and “just talks” to the congregation).
All of us are responsible to preach, that is, to communicate God’s Word to others in whatever situation we find ourselves in with whatever tools of communication we can muster.
To “preach the Word”
in 2 Timothy 4:2
simply means to communicate the truth of God’s Word.
The verse goes on to tell us that we should be ready to do this when it is convenient and when it is not (“in season and out of season” or, as the NLT has it, “whether the time is favorable or not”). Perhaps one of the most convenient times is when faithful church members have gathered to hear their pastor “preach.” Perhaps one of the most inconvenient times is when a group of co-workers are gathered around the water cooler.
Even when it is inconvenient,
we must proclaim the Word
with “great patience and careful instruction,”
even when the situation calls for rebuke.
There is a popular saying among many Christians that is often (probably incorrectly) attributed to St. Francis of Assisi: “Preach the gospel at all times. If necessary, use words.” Christians often take this to mean that they can live God’s truth before others and never actually explain it, and that this will be sufficient to fulfill God’s command to “preach the gospel.”
Second Timothy 4:2 contradicts this understanding. Of course, our lives should never detract from God’s Word and our message. Indeed, the Christian is called to live in such a way as to make the gospel attractive (Titus 2:10).
But, ultimately, if the Word of God is to be proclaimed,
we must use words.
Timothy had incredible advantages. He was taught the Word of God by his mother and grandmother (2 Timothy 1:5), and he was discipled by Paul and served with Paul in ministry for years. Timothy knew the Word of God and was well-equipped.
Even still, Paul tells Timothy that
needed to be diligent in the study of the Word
and in rightly dividing the Word of truth.
continuing diligence in the Word, Timothy would
not be able to stand firm,
and he would not be
able to maintain sound teaching.
Paul warned Timothy to pay attention to himself and to his teaching
(1 Timothy 4:16).
Because all Scripture is God-breathed and is profitable for
teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness, it is
exactly what we need in order
to be equipped for every good work God intends for us
(2 Timothy 3:16–17).
Paul encourages Timothy to be diligent to present himself
as a workman
approved by God who would not need to be ashamed because
he was rightly dividing or
accurately handling the Word of truth
(2 Timothy 2:15).
First, Paul’s instruction
makes it clear that the study of the Bible
It takes effort. It takes diligence.
need to be committed to doing that work if we desire to
equipped for what God intends us to do in life.
Second, Paul helps us to focus on the idea that this work in the Word
about the approval of other people.
Rather, it is God
who is assessing how we handle His Word, and
so we are studying His Word for Him.
Also, we understand that, if we are diligent, we will not need
to be ashamed because we will have been faithful with the
remarkable stewardship of His Word.
Sometimes we may take for granted that we have His completed Word—the Bible.
We may be unaware of how many people suffered and died to provide us
the freedom and opportunity to
own our own Bibles and read them in our own language.
How sad would it be if we took this—one of the very greatest of freedoms--
and were not diligent to make the most of it?
Paul’s final comment in 2 Timothy 2:15 is helpful because
it tells us
what success looks like in the study of the Word: to be “rightly dividing” the Word of truth
The Greek word translated
as “rightly dividing” is orthotomounta--ortho means “right or proper,”
and tomounta means “to cut.”
Literally, success in handling the Word is to cut it properly or correctly.
This is farming imagery, as a farmer who is plowing a field would
seek to cut straight furrows in order to
plant rows of seed.
When plowing, a farmer would look at a point on the other side of the field and focus on that point to ensure the line cut in the dirt was straight.
This is what the good student of the Word is doing, as well:
remaining focused on the goal or outcome and being diligent to
handle the Word of God properly.
To rightly divide the Word of truth is to “cut it straight.”
Ultimately, in studying the Word, we are trying to understand what the Author
has said and not
allow our own opinions or views to cloud the meaning of what He has written.
When we are diligent to “cut straight”—to rightly divide the Word of truth--
we can understand what He has communicated in His Word and be well-equipped
He would have us to do and how He would have us to think.
Several times in his instruction to Timothy, Paul introduces content
as “a trustworthy statement” (1 Timothy 1:15; 3:1; 4:9; 2 Timothy 2:11).
The “trustworthy” designation highlights what follows
as an important and reliable principle.
Shortly after such an introduction, Paul remarks
God cannot deny Himself
(2 Timothy 2:13).
In 2 Timothy 2:11 Paul introduces what reads like a poetic verse from a hymn that includes four couplets. The words may have already been familiar to Timothy, or Paul may have been simply providing new content. Literally rendered, the passage reads like this:
“Since together we died, also together we will live;
we are enduring, also together we will reign;
will deny, He will also deny us;
are not faithful,
He remains faithful, for to deny Himself He cannot”
2 Timothy 2:11–13
In the first couplet (2 Timothy 2:11), Paul acknowledges that, because we have died together with Christ (as in Colossians 2:20 and 3:3), we will live together with Him.
We will enjoy life everlasting with Christ.
Paul states this as fact (using the first class condition in the Greek)—this is not merely an “if” but a “since.” It is a fact that we have died together (Paul uses the aorist tense,
denoting the action is completed), and it is a certainty that
in the future we will live together with Christ.
Next, Paul encourages believers that, since we are enduring (also assumed as fact, using the first class conditional), then we will reign together with Him and each other (2 Timothy 2:12a).
As John explained it in Revelation, believers overcome
Christ who has Himself overcome
(compare Revelation 2:7, 11; 3:5; 21:7, etc., with Revelation 5:5).
This is an encouragement for believers to persevere—and, assuming their endurance, reminding that there is a future of reward and meaningful activity in store.
The third couplet (2 Timothy 2:12b) changes the tense of the (protasis) action from present (as was used on the first two couplets) to future, rendering the first part of the couplet,
“if we deny in the future.” If there is such a denial, then He will also deny us.
Jesus used similar terminology when He explained that, if people denied Him before men,
He would deny them before the Father
It is important to note that
Jesus was talking to His twelve disciples
(Matthew 10:5; 11:1).
He explains that the Spirit would be speaking through them
and He warns them of the
need to be faithful in confessing Him before men and not denying Him—He is challenging them to be faithful messengers for Him.
There was reward for confessing Him before men (Matthew 10:32)
and consequences for denying Him before men (Matthew 10:33).
In 2 Timothy 2, Paul is
challenging Timothy to endure and fulfill his ministry,
doing the work of a good-news proclaimer, or evangelist
(2 Timothy 4:5).
Paul challenges Timothy with the importance of confessing and not denying Jesus.
When Paul says that Jesus will deny us, he is not talking about loss of salvation or change in positional standing before God. Much like Jesus warned His twelve disciples, Paul reminds Timothy that there are consequences to unfaithfulness in ministry.
Paul had explained earlier in this context the importance of engaging like a good soldier, an athlete competing according to the rules, and a hard-working farmer (2 Timothy 2:3–6).
Paul had elsewhere explained that
he was working hard to be faithful so he would not be disqualified from ministry
(1 Corinthians 9:23–27).
He refers to faithfulness in practice, not loss of salvation—as he
explains after the fourth couplet in 2 Timothy 2:13:
God “cannot deny Himself”
To ensure that people rightly understood the rewards and consequences of faithfulness
in the Christian life, Paul told the Corinthians that the works of all believers would one day be assessed at Christ’s judgment seat. If those works stand the test, the believer will be rewarded
(1 Corinthians 3:14).
If the works are burned up, then the believer will lose out on the reward, but he would not lose salvation (1 Corinthians 3:15). Paul’s warning to Timothy that Jesus would deny those who deny Him has nothing to do with their position in Christ, as we see in the fourth couplet: “If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny who he is” (2 Timothy 2:13, NLT).
Even if we are unfaithful, or lacking faith, faithful He remains, for God cannot deny Himself. Once a person is in Christ (by belief in Him), God remains faithful to that person--
He keeps His word.
The one who believes has eternal life from the moment of faith (e.g., John 6:47; Romans 8:29–31). Nothing can separate a child of God from the love of God (Romans 8:38–39),
because He is faithful to keep His promise.
God cannot deny Himself.
If He were to break His promise to those who have believed in Him, that would be a denial of Himself and His righteous character. To those who fear that God is standing over them waiting to cast them out if they deny Him or if they fail to have enough belief or if they are unfaithful in their ministries, Paul says that God always remains faithful. His faithfulness is a matter of His own character—God cannot deny Himself (2 Timothy 2:13).
Scripture doesn’t ever manipulate us to action based on the potential loss of our
position in Christ.
Instead, we are exhorted to act because God is faithful and the promises
He makes are certain.
In his second letter to Timothy, Paul warned Timothy
about the false teachers that he would encounter and tells him
to continue in the things he has learned because he knows the character
of those he learned them from,
namely Paul himself and his mother and grandmother
(2 Timothy 3:14–15).
The truths Timothy was taught from infancy--truths about sin and our need for a Savior--were able to make him “wise for salvation” (2 Timothy 3:15). As parents, we are to prepare our children to distinguish truth from error. And as believers,
we are to stand firm in the truth we have learned,
not being surprised or swayed by opposition and false teachers.
Paul also told Timothy, to "do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth" (2 Timothy 2:15). This advice is crucial for all Christians. "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:16–17).
Paul counseled Timothy, his "dear son" (2 Timothy 1:2),
from a heart of love,
wanting Timothy to stand firm in his own faith and to lead the other believers well.
Timothy certainly seems to have been faithful; we should follow his example.
About a week after Jesus plainly told His disciples that
He would suffer, be killed, and be raised to life
He took Peter, James, and John up a mountain to pray. While praying, His personal appearance was changed into a glorified form, and His clothing became dazzling white. Moses and Elijah appeared and talked with Jesus about His death that would soon take place. Peter, not knowing what he was saying and being very fearful, offered to put up three shelters for them. This is undoubtedly a reference to the booths that were used to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles, when the Israelites dwelt in booths for 7 days (Lev. 23:34–42). Peter was expressing a wish to stay in that place. When a cloud enveloped them, a voice said, “This is My Son, whom I have chosen, whom I love; listen to Him!” The cloud lifted, Moses and Elijah had disappeared, and Jesus was alone with His disciples who were still very much afraid. Jesus warned them not to tell anyone what they had seen until after His resurrection. The three accounts of this event are found in Matthew 17:1-8, Mark 9:2-8, and Luke 9:28-36.
Undoubtedly, the purpose of the transfiguration of Christ into at least a part of His heavenly glory was so that the “inner circle” of
His disciples could gain a greater understanding of who Jesus was.
Christ underwent a dramatic change in appearance in order that the disciples could behold Him in His glory. The disciples, who had only known Him in His human body, now had a greater realization of the deity of Christ, though they could not fully comprehend it.
That gave them the reassurance they needed after hearing
the shocking news of His coming death.
Symbolically, the appearance of Moses and Elijah represented the Law and the Prophets.
But God’s voice from heaven – “Listen to Him!” - clearly showed that the Law and the Prophets must give way to Jesus. The One who is the new and living way is replacing the old – He is the fulfillment of the Law and the countless prophecies in the Old Testament. Also, in His glorified form they saw a preview of His coming glorification and enthronement as King of kings and Lord of lords.
The disciples never forgot what happened that day on the mountain and no doubt this was intended. John wrote in his gospel,
"We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only” (John 1:14).
Peter also wrote of it,
"We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For He received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to Him from the Majestic Glory, saying, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased.’ We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with Him on the sacred mountain” (2 Peter 1:16-18).
Those who witnessed the transfiguration bore witness to it to the other disciples and to countless millions down through the centuries.
Second Peter 1:20 says,
"Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by
the prophet’s own interpretation of things.”
Actually, 2 Peter 1:20 emphasizes the source of Old Testament prophecies,
not who has the right to interpret the Bible today.
Peter was not writing about how we should read or interpret God’s Word; he was writing about how God gave us His Word in the first place.
In order to persuade his readers to pay attention to the gospel, Peter affirmed that his words were God’s words—just as much as the Old Testament prophecies were.
Peter’s meaning in verse 20 is further explained by the context: “We did not follow cleverly devised stories . . . but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. . . . We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven. . . . We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable. . . .
No prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation
For prophecy never had its origin in the human will”
(2 Peter 1:16–21).
Notice that Peter’s main point is not
how to read and understand God’s messages.
Instead, he explains the authoritative origin and source of those prophecies.
It was God Himself who communicated them
through His chosen spokesmen.
The prophets (and Peter)
did not write thoughts that they cooked up out of their own minds,
but they passed on truth that came directly from God.
As Peter puts it,
they “spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit”
Peter’s intent was to urge his readers to take his message about Jesus seriously,
as he says in verse 19,
"You [therefore] will do well to pay attention to [God’s message through me],
as to a light shining in a dark place.”
Peter’s account of Jesus was straight from God.
Since the Bible’s
words express God’s thoughts, not man’s,
important that we respect them enough to study
them and grasp
what He wants us to understand as we are interpreting Scripture.
The Mount of Transfiguration is the mountain upon which Jesus was transfigured
(Matthew 17, Mark 9, Luke 9).
The actual location of the mountain is unknown.
In Matthew 16, Jesus tells the disciples that He will be killed and raised to life (verse 21). Peter rebukes Him: “Never, Lord!” he says. “This shall never happen to you!” (verse 22). Jesus has to rebuke Peter and goes on to explain that whoever will be
His disciple must “take up his cross,”
that is, be willing to die also. In the final ;verse of chapter 16,
Jesus makes a rather enigmatic statement: “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom” (see also Luke 9:27).
In the next event recorded in Matthew and Luke, Jesus takes Peter, James, and John with Him up to a “high mountain.” This unnamed mountain is what we call the
Mount of Transfiguration
today, because of what takes place next: “There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light.
Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus”
The transfiguration of Jesus on the mountain is significant, for it gave
those three disciples a glimpse of the glory that Jesus had before the Incarnation
and that He would have again.
Perhaps it was also the fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy
some of the disciples would see Him coming in the kingdom before they died