Committing the Gospel to Faithful Men

Rev. Slopsema is pastor of First Protestant Reformed Church of Grand Rapids, Michigan.

And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. 

II Timothy 2:2


Timothy had accompanied Paul on his missionary journeys as a co-laborer. During that time Paul had instructed Timothy in the gospel of Jesus Christ with many sound words. Paul had also laid hands on Timothy to ordain him as a minister of the gospel, thereby committing the gospel to Timothy's care. 

Now Paul exhorts Timothy, who is laboring in Ephesus, to hold fast the form of sound words that he had heard from Paul and to keep that which was committed to him (
II Tim. 1:13, 14). 

But there is more. 

Timothy must take the same things that he had heard from Paul and commit them to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. The glorious gospel of salvation must be proclaimed throughout the churches and beyond to the whole world. Men must be instructed in the gospel and trained to proclaim it. This is what Paul had done with Timothy. This is what Paul now instructs Timothy to do with others. 

We as a denomination are doing the same with our seminary. There were times in the Reformed tradition when the training of future ministers was done by individual pastors. But by the grace of God we have the resources to do this important work through our seminary. Our professors are ordained ministers of the gospel. To them has been committed the important work of training faithful men in the gospel so that they may teach others. 

A glorious gospel! 

Paul speaks of "the things that thou hast heard of me." The things that Timothy heard of Paul were the gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ. 

According to 
II Tim. 1:13 these were "sound words." "Sound words" are words (teachings) that promote health. This is certainly true of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the power of God to bring His elect to the saving health of faith and salvation. It is also the power of God to keep them in the health of salvation. 

From Paul's own mouth Timothy heard the sound words of the gospel. Timothy heard them in Paul's preaching on his first missionary journey, when Timothy and his mother and grandmother were brought to Jesus Christ. Timothy then joined Paul on his second and subsequent missionary journeys, and was taught more fully in the doctrines of Christ.

We too have heard these same sound words of the gospel. What Paul taught Timothy he also recorded in his epistles. What Paul taught Timothy was not divorced from the Old Testament Scriptures but rooted in them, as his epistles demonstrate. The rest of the New Testament Scriptures, not written by Paul, complements what Paul taught and wrote. These glorious truths of the gospel have also been summarized in our Reformed creeds. Through the faithful preaching of the gospel, we have heard the same sound words of the gospel as did Timothy. 

The things that Timothy had heard from Paul were heard among many witnesses. These witnesses were the saints of God to whom Paul ministered. Paul did not teach in secret but publicly in the church and in the community. And Paul did not give to Timothy anything different than what he taught openly to the public. The saints were witnesses, therefore, of Paul's teachings. They were witnesses not only in that they heard what Paul preached, but also in that they testified of its power. The gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ is powerful. It is the power of God to work faith, to bring reconciliation with God, to transform lives, to lift the heads of the downtrodden with hope, to give joy to the sorrowful. And the saints bore witness to this. They did this to Paul, to Timothy, to their fellow saints, and also to those outside the household of faith. And many of the saints sealed their witness with their blood. 

That witness has continued down through the ages as the saints of God have heard and been transformed by the power of the gospel. 

What a tribute to the gospel of Jesus Christ! 

A high calling! 

The same commit thou to faithful men. 

Faithful men are men who are worthy of trust. They are men upon whom one can rely. 

To be faithful requires that one have faith. Faith is not something that originates with us. It is the gift of God to His people, worked by the Spirit through the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ. To be faithful also requires that one be mature in his faith. There are babes in the faith. Sometimes this is because they are children or new to the faith. Sometimes this is because they never grew up in their faith. To be faithful, one must grow up in his faith so that he is spiritually mature. This happens when one places himself under sound preaching, uses the sacraments, gives himself over to prayer, and seeks the communion of the saints. 

Such mature believers will be faithful. Their faithfulness is a faithfulness to the Lord Jesus Christ. They love the Lord and the truth about Him. They can be relied upon, therefore, to promote and defend the truth, to live the truth, and even to suffer for the gospel as good soldiers of Christ (vv. 3-5). 

This is the chief qualification for a minister of the gospel. A minister of the gospel must have certain gifts of leadership. Certainly he must be apt to teach. But above all he must be faithful to the Lord Jesus Christ. 

Timothy is charged to commit the gospel of Jesus Christ, which he had heard from Paul, to such faithful men. 

To commit means to give into someone's possession something of great value as a sacred trust, to entrust a valued possession to someone else's care. We do that when we deposit our money in the bank. In like manner Timothy is to commit the gospel of Jesus Christ to faithful men. 

What a precious possession is the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the power of God to salvation and eternal life. 

Jesus has committed this precious gospel to His church as a sacred trust. He did so through Paul and the other apostles, through whom He revealed the gospel. 

It is the calling of the church to preserve the gospel, as well as to defend it and proclaim it. The church carries out this high calling in part 
by committing the gospel to faithful men who, holding the office of minister of the gospel, are called to labor in the Word. 

On behalf of the church, Paul also committed the gospel to faithful Timothy. He had done this by instructing Timothy thoroughly in this gospel and training him to preach it. And then Paul ordained him with the laying on of hands to the office of evangelist and minister of the gospel. 

Now Timothy is charged to do the same, in his capacity as an evangelist. 

In a similar manner the church must commit the gospel to faithful men also today. This is no longer done through apostles and evangelists. Those were special offices in the church for the transition from the old to the new covenant. The church carries out this calling by training men in the seminary and then ordaining them to the office of pastor. 

An important purpose! 

The purpose is that such faithful men teach others the precious gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the purpose of God that His salvation be brought to future generations of the church as well as to the nations. The power to accomplish this is the preaching of the gospel. And so there must be in every generation of the church the work of committing the gospel to faithful men, who will teach others. 

Pray that the Lord may raise up faithful men to whom the gospel may be committed. 

Pray for the seminary, that the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ may be committed to these faithful men. 

And pray that the gospel of salvation may be proclaimed in the churches and across the world, bringing the health of faith and salvation to as many as God has ordained to eternal life!

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