In Christ Jesus

John Stubbs

In the second epistle to Timothy it is interesting and instructive to notice that the phrase, "in Christ Jesus" occurs seven times. This name form sets forth the risen exalted position of the Saviour. It is a phrase which Paul uses often in his epistles. It stands in relation to what is outside of time to what lies in the great purposes of God. In this epistle it is the thought of continuity and what is abiding and never changes. In a day when men were changing and things were being let go, it must therefore have been a real comfort to the beloved apostle to have before him the things which were in Christ Jesus. Let us look briefly at these references to this phrase and try to gather a few important lessons.

The element of Spiritual Life – (1:1)

"The promise of life which is in CHRIST JESUS." When it is remembered that Paul was writing this letter under threat of death, it makes all the more remarkable and full of meaning his mention here of life. This life is eternal and should be continually enjoyed by the believer. Here is something real in a world of vanity and that which stabilized even the soul of Paul. Are we today enjoying this life or could it be that the things of this life are entangling us (see ch. 2:4)? As believers we should enter more fully into eternal realities and allow them to effect for good our souls and lift us above the strife and stress of this ungodly scene.

The Sphere of Sovereign Purpose – (1:9)

"Which was given us in CHRIST JESUS before the world began." In this verse Paul declares something of the great scheme of God’s salvation and makes clear that the One who has made this possible is Christ Jesus. Paul’s prison experience had not shaken his confidence in the gospel of the grace of God. In a day of adversity Paul’s salvation stood him in good stead. Advanced as he was in divine things the thrill and blessing of his salvation never waned. How wonderful to know that if Israel’s call was in time, the believer’s is before times eternal. Are we still enjoying our salvation?

The Condition of Effective Ministry – (1:13)

"Hold fast the form of sound words. . .in faith and love which is in CHRIST JESUS". Paul in the previous verses had been speaking about his own ministry. He now turns to Timothy and inasmuch says, but what about your own important ministry Timothy? When it comes to the ministry of the good word of God among the Lord’s people, here is something that the servant of God should not neglect. A man may have a wonderful memory in citing Scripture, but this while good is not enough. A man may have real ability in the handling of the word of God, but there can still be something lacking. Surely what is important is the condition of soul of he who is ministering the word. Hence the great need of faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. Ministry would be far more telling and effective if this was the case. How one speaks can make or mar a message. Freshness and power in the ministry is a crying need. Faith and love, of course, were certainly seen in Paul and were the very opposite to his unbelief and hatred which marked him before he was saved. May those given to the ministry seek to be exercised about these two healthy features as they present the truth of God.

The Source of Continual Strength – (2:1)

"Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace which is in Christ Jesus." Here we have the provision of strength for present needs. In Paul’s parting communication to Timothy he would have him realize that in a day of difficulty and opposition God has given all that is needed in the risen and exalted Man at His right hand. There is no limit to the supply of this grace. Moses said to Joshua, "be strong" (Deut. 31:6 & 7). David said to Solomon, "be strong" (1 Chron. 28:20). Paul, however could add in his word to Timothy what neither Moses or David could say, "in the grace which is in Christ Jesus." Both Joshua and Solomon could not know in their day what the believer can experience in this age, the grace which is in Christ Jesus. What a blessing can be ours! This comes in before v. 2 where Paul is concerned about the preservation of truth for the future; "the same commit thou to faithful men who shall be able to teach others also." It is getting more difficult to teach and practice the truth. Because of this there is all the more need to get into the presence of God for a fresh supply of this grace. Christ Jesus is sufficient for all needs. Christ is everything. If then, because of the pressure, we are discouraged or tempted to compromise or even give up, then let the believer draw from the risen and exalted One at God’s right hand the sustaining grace that is needed. How true as one has said, "the more you prove to me my necessities as a Christian, the more you magnify the supply I have in Christ."

The Ground of Eternal Blessing – (2:10)

"The salvation which is in CHRIST JESUS with eternal glory." Who are the elect of this verse? Is it those already saved or those about to be saved? If it was the former then it would mean that Paul and certain others enjoy a salvation which was peculiar and higher than other believers. This cannot be. The little word "also" is the clue. It simply means others also as well as ourselves. The practical point of the verse is that Paul’s view of his imprisonment was that it could contribute to the furtherance of the divine purpose in the gathering in of the elect. Hence he says, "I endure all things for the elects sake." As far as Paul was concerned if one soul was saved through his being in prison he was happy. The believer has a salvation which will issue in eternal glory. The ground of our blessing is Christ Jesus. It is in Him the glorified One that the believer is eternally secure. Here is a salvation which is not only available in Him, but also sustained by Him.

The Realm of the Believer’s Communion – (3:12)

"All that will live godly in CHRIST JESUS shall suffer persecution." What does it mean to be godly? It means the manifestation of God in the life. Godliness is one of the great needs of the day, a life lived out in association with the man at God’s right hand. Do not miss the word "will." It is the determination to be godly. The more there is the exercise to live for God, the more, no doubt, the devil will make it hard for the believer. Does the believer shrink from the reproach of Christ? Certainly if we unite with the world we will loose reproach for Christ’s sake. May God help each one of us not to take things easy and live world-bordering lives. Let us truly live godly in Christ Jesus, seeking to enjoy communion with Him and to walk as He walked scripturally, prayerfully and humbly.

The Enlightener of the Holy Scriptures (3:15)

"The holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is IN CHRIST JESUS." The words, "through faith which is in Christ Jesus" are not so much added to show that Christ is the object of faith in initial salvation, but that He is the living link between the OT and the NT. Christ is the key to the understanding of scripture. He is the One who has fulfilled the scriptures. The "scriptures" here refer to the OT. Timothy more than likely was saved when Paul first visited Lystra, and so when he heard of the Lord Jesus he would see that the OT scriptures spoke of Him. The Jews themselves did not realize that their scriptures testified of Christ (John 5:39). They read the scriptures, but missed Christ. It is still possible for the believer today to forget that Christ is the key to unlock the treasures of the word of God. It is only by faith in Christ Jesus exercised constantly that the believer shall be the better enabled to understand the scriptures. When pondering the word of God it is great to do so in fellowship with Christ and in soul dependence on Him. Christ Himself will enlighten the patient searching believer by the help of the Holy Spirit of God. May we know the blessing of this.