Great Gospel Texts: 2 Timothy 1:9-10

God “hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, but is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2Ti 1:9-10).1

The Moment

The great apostle Paul is writing his very last letter as he anticipates the moment of his death at the hands of Roman executioners. He has suffered for the sake of the gospel from the time he came to understand that Jesus was the true Messiah, and he wants to encourage Timothy to press on, to not be ashamed of the message nor of the messenger, but rather to share in the sufferings that come because of being linked with Christ Jesus as Saviour.

The Mercy

He reminds Timothy that the only way that this will be possible is through the “power of God, who hath saved us, and called us with a holy calling.” Paul was certain of his own salvation, and of that of Timothy, and this certainty is not only possible today but necessary. Salvation from our sins and their penalty is an act of mercy – God reaching out to sinful man to call them to saving faith in Christ. Left to ourselves, we would never seek after God (Rom 3:11), but God sent His Son “to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luk 19:10). Paul recognizes that salvation was “not according to our works,” as there are no meritorious works that can make us acceptable to God. This call to sinners is “according to his own purpose and grace.” God’s purpose is that He alone will receive the glory in saving lost people. One can almost sense the way Paul is still marveling at the grace of God at the very end of his life, grace “which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.” Just imagine this: God knew beforehand what our need as sinners would be, and He designed this wondrous plan of grace before time began.

The Manifestation

But Paul reminds Timothy that the time came when this gracious plan was “made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ.” The truth of the incarnation never should cease to amaze us either – Paul had earlier written to Timothy these wonderful words: “God was manifest in the flesh” (1Ti 3:16). The angels declared to the shepherds, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord” (Luk 2:10), and John wrote, “Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (Joh 1:17).

The Message

Paul tells Timothy that Jesus Christ “hath abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” Death is the wages we owe for our own sin (Rom 3:23), but the Lord Jesus willingly went to the cross of Calvary in order to defeat death, “the last enemy” (1Co 15:26). What He offers to the sinner is “life and immortality” – this is the message of the gospel. The Lord Jesus told Martha, “Whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?” (Joh 11:26). She did, but do you?

1 Bible quotations in this article are from the KJV.