Yesterday, February 2, 2022, was my self-proclaimed International Disciple-making Day. If you think that makes me sound quirky, you’d have plenty of evidence, but since I’m writing this article, I’m calling it passion. February 2 was not the only day to make disciples, but it served as a Christian’s reminder to fulfill Jesus’ command to live as disciple-makers.
What was special about 2/2/22? Admittedly, this is where the quirkiness (passion) emerges, but while you may see 2/2/22 as a date in history, I see it as Paul’s reminder to Timothy to make disciples from 2 Timothy 2:22. (Ah, now the quirkiness—passion—is confirmed.)
Need some context?
2 Timothy is Paul’s last letter. Writing from his Roman prison, Paul urges Timothy, his young protégé, to lead the church at Ephesus with boldness and courage. After imploring him to guard the gospel (2 Tim 1:14)—ensure that false teachers would not alter the gospel message—Paul instructs Timothy to continue the chain of living hope. In other words, he is to equip others to share the good news of Jesus’ message so well that he would also prepare his recipients to do the same.
2 Timothy 2:2 (NIV)
And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.
Paul envisioned four generations that would continue to multiply until you and I heard Jesus’ message and passed it on to the next generation. This lifestyle of disciple-making must continue until Jesus returns.
- Generation 1: Paul to
- Generation 2: Timothy to
- Generation 3: reliable people to
- Generation 4: others
Let’s focus on three words: entrust, reliable, and qualified. The first word defines the task, while the second and third words describe the person with whom we will fulfill the task. Frankly, I’m surprised by who gets to participate.
παρατίθημι (paratithēmi). vb. to set before, entrust. To entrust something to someone with the intention of preservation.
One of the critical principles of biblical interpretation is the importance of context and allowing the Bible to interpret itself. The writers of the Lexham Theological Wordbook, in addition to the above definition, identify two other noteworthy uses of this same word:
“… it [entrust] can also be used of entrusting something to someone. The most familiar passage displaying this sense is Jesus’ statement from the cross, “Father, into your hands I entrust (paratithēmi) my spirit” (Luke 23:46). After talking about a faithful manager (oikonomos) in Luke 12:42, Jesus proceeds to contrast faithful and unfaithful servants. He concludes by saying that “from him to whom they have entrusted (paratithēmi) much, they will ask him for even more.”Ron Clark and Dougald McLaurin III, “Stewardship,” ed. Douglas Mangum et al., Lexham Theological Wordbook, Lexham Bible Reference Series (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2014).
Jesus commanded us to take the gospel message and all that it entails—the freedom it offers, the power it possesses, the hope it contains—and pass it on in a way that ensures it will be preserved and shared with others.
Undoubtedly, we should seek out those with an enormous number of social media followers who were also adept communicators.
But that’s not the case.
Paul wants Timothy to look for those who are first and foremost reliable.
πιστός (pistos). adj. trustworthy, faithful; trusting, believing. Describes a person or thing as characterized by trustworthiness or belief.Aaron C. Fenlason, “Belief,” ed. Douglas Mangum et al., Lexham Theological Wordbook, Lexham Bible Reference Series (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2014).
Honestly, for a task this critical, reliability seems like a given. Surely there must be more essential requirements.
But there’s not.
God is looking for men and women who will take his truth and pass it on. God is not looking for us to clean it up, polish it, or update it. His word has stood the test of time, and he is placing his baton of truth in our hands and is looking for us to be two things. First, we must be reliable.
Reliability is reasonable. No one will argue with that, but lest you think you’re off the hook because you can immediately think of ten-plus skilled teachers and orators and therefore better qualified for the task, get ready for a surprise.
God is not looking for a reliable yet dynamic teacher or a fun, upbeat, passionate, intelligent, or inspiring teacher. God is looking for a reliable person who will also be qualified to teach others.
ἱκανός hikanós; fem. hikanḗ, neut. hikanón, adj. from hiknéomai (n.f., see diïknéomai ), to come. Sufficient.Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).
Sufficient? Indeed, there must be more behind that word. Sufficient keeps the bar pretty low. It’s almost as if anyone can do it.
To be fair, the author of the lexicon does unpack the word’s usage a bit more in the context of our passage. Besides sufficient, hikanós also describes someone adequate and competent.
That’s it. Guess what? We can do this. We can learn something to such an extent that we have competence. And we can be reliable people.
Paul passed the baton to Timothy and, thankfully, Timothy gave it to reliable people who were also qualified to teach others. Now it’s our turn. To whom will you pass it?
Yesterday, February 2, 2022, was International Disciple-making Day. And today is, too.
Final thought and one confession:
Ready and eager? Or at least ready and willing but not quite sure what your next step is? Contact me for some resource ideas, or stay tuned for future posts pointing us in the right direction.
I also refer to 2:22 (AM or PM) as “disciple-making time.” Fortunately, for me, I am asleep during the AM portion of the day, so if you spend time with me on the PM side, you only have to endure one potential announcement.
QUESTION (leave a comment below)
Who is the person that passed the baton to you? Who are those who have helped you come to faith and those who have helped you grow in your faith? Call them or send them a note. If they have passed away, contact a family member and share their impact on your life.