2 Timothy 2:8-9(NIV) 8Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel, 9for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God’s word is not chained.
Paul wants Timothy to be single-minded, and that single-mindedness needs to be focused upon Christ. Not only should we be focused upon Christ, but we should focus on two aspects of his person, His resurrection and his lineage. To Paul, and the early church, these statements meant a lot more than they seem to mean today.
The term Gospel simply means “good news.” In the Biblical sense it always is associated with what God has done in Creation. We have the Gospel of the Kingdom, The Gospel of God, The Gospel of Christ, The Gospel of Salvation, The Gospel of Peace etc..All of these deal with something that has or will happen in God’s plans for creation. Paul has instructed Timothy to start using the gift which he was given and begin revealing the truth of the word of God to those whom God has entrusted to his care, namely the Church at Ephesus. It is the truth that is contained in Timothy’s message and instructions that will prevent the apostasy that Paul is going bring up in the Ephesian church. Timothy is to use the sound teaching that Paul himself had given him, which is the very word of God. He is to instruct people in those teachings so that the sound doctrine can continue. This doctrine will be needed to battle the false teachers who are already permeating the church.
The two doctrines that Paul wants Timothy to remember are the resurrection and lineage of Jesus Christ. Later in this chapter Paul indicates that an early form of Gnosticism was being taught in Ephesus. The false doctrine being taught was that the Resurrection had already taken place. This would have been referring to a spiritual resurrection and not a physical one which is taught in scripture. This would be an apostate teaching that has no place in the church. It makes the resurrection of Christ of little value, and destroys the fact of a physical return of Christ to establish his messianic kingdom.
It would seem logical that Paul would thus want Timothy to remember that Christ was resurrected physically. If Christ did not rise physically then we have no hope of becoming like him and joining him in our resurrected bodies. If we have no future hope of being raised then what hope do we have for eternity. Paul answers this question more completely in 1 Corinthians.
1 Corinthians 15:12-19(NIV) 12But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.
The fact that some in Ephesus were preaching that the resurrection already occurred contradicts the above passage and makes the word of God a lie. Timothy will need to confront this apostasy in his church.
The other doctrine that Paul wishes for Timothy to remember is that Christ is the descendant of David. This is a clear reference to the Davidic covenant that God had established. If Paul wanted to indicate the manhood of Christ then he would have used Adam as the ancestor of Christ because scripture indicates that Christ is the second Adam who obeyed God and thus became the Son of Man through His obedience. Paul chose to use David as the ancestor that signifies the kingship of Christ and the future rule that the kingship represents. This is indicating a future return of Christ to set up His kingdom.
If the resurrection has already taken place then that future rule cannot happen and thus makes God a liar concerning His covenant promises to David. The false doctrine being taught in Timothy’s church would thus completely devastate any prophecy given which shows the end of God’s plan for creation. At least 30% of the scripture concerns the last day’s, and that portion of scripture would be irrelevant if the resurrection had already occurred. Paul reminds Timothy, who was raised by a Jewish mother, that Christ is the promised Messiah who would one day set up a kingdom and rule from the throne of David in righteousness. Timothy understood the implications from the statement “descended from David”.
This is the very message that Paul preached which led to his imprisonment. That is the simple message of the death, burial, resurrection and future glory of Jesus Christ, the Gospel. It is a message that cannot be stopped no matter how many times it is tried. It is a message that has persisted for over 2000 years already and will never be silenced. It is still the same message today as it was when Paul penned this to Timothy. Jesus Christ died for our sins, he was buried, on the third day he rose from the dead, ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father. He will come again to claim His own and establish His rule. You can take that to the bank.