Teach the Faith!
2 Timothy 2:1-7 (ESV) Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God according to the promise of the life that is in Christ Jesus, To Timothy, my beloved child: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
Paul and the other apostles chosen by Jesus trained and ordained pastors to carry on the ministry of Word and Sacrament in Christian congregations (Titus 1:5). The purpose of the apostolic ministry was and is to deliver “the promise of the life that is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 1:1) to sinners in need of salvation.
Timothy was a disciple (Acts 16:1), one who had been baptized and was regularly taught the Word of God (Matthew 28:19-20). Paul commissioned Timothy to accompany him on his journeys (Acts 16:1-5) and trained him to be a pastor. 2 Timothy 1:6 and 1 Timothy 4:14 describe the “laying on of hands” done by Paul and other ministers, referring to the occasion when Timothy was set apart for service in the public ministry of Word and Sacrament. Paul probably referred to Timothy as his “beloved child” (2 Timothy 1:2) because he had trained him in the ministry (see 1 Corinthians 4:14-17).
Timothy’s grandmother, Lois, and his mother, Eunice, were disciples of Christ who brought up Timothy with a sincere faith in Jesus (2 Timothy 1:5). They taught Timothy from the Holy Scriptures even as a child, establishing a foundation that would last into eternal life (2 Timothy 3:14-15). Though raising Timothy was difficult, unglamorous work, Lois and Eunice became God’s instruments of blessing, first for Timothy, and then for everyone who has been taught by Timothy since then—including us! Let us thank the Lord “for all the faithful women” He has given to His church (LSB 855).
Timothy’s upbringing vividly demonstrates that there is no higher Christian service than bringing up children to fear, love, and trust in God. What good fruit will be produced by our Christian children in ages to come? Jesus has told us, “Let the little children come to Me” (Matthew 19:13-15). We fulfill that mandate first by presenting our children for Baptism and then by bringing them to church and Sunday School, as well as by training them at home in daily devotions. As our forefathers in Israel did, we are to teach the Words of the Lord diligently to our children, particularly at home! (Deuteronomy 6:7)
The Small Catechism instructs the head of the family to teach the household the chief parts of the Faith. The Lord uses parents, grandparents, Sunday School teachers, Lutheran school teachers, and others to hand on “the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). None of us can take credit for the faith that dwells in us, because there is nothing in life that we have not received from the Lord (1 Corinthians 4:7).
Because Timothy had been thoroughly taught the Faith, Paul repeatedly encouraged him to teach the Faith to others (1 Timothy 4:13) and to train others to teach (2 Timothy 2:2). The source of all our teaching is the inspired, inerrant Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16). Teaching the Faith involves more than just “head knowledge”; it also includes training in piety and godly wisdom. Jesus teaches us to put His words into practice (Luke 6:46-49), which is not a legalistic command, but an invitation to walk in His ways.
Lord God, heavenly Father, You provided Your servant St. Timothy with faithful instruction in Your Word during his childhood, establishing for him a foundation of knowledge that served him throughout his life. Receive our thanks for the knowledge provided for Christian children by parents, teachers, and Your Church. As they continue to learn, grant them Your Holy Spirit that their understanding of Your gifts and talents will increase, leading into the vocations in which You would have them serve; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.