But As For You: study questions for 2 Timothy

Click on a week below to expand the questions & activities for that week.

Weekly Questions

Use these questions to prepare for the week beginning Sunday, Oct 1. 

2 Timothy: an introduction

Reflecting & Catching Up

(Take time to reflect and/or catch up with one another)

– What was something memorable for you from this summer?
– What are you looking forward to in this new fall season?

What This Book Is About

(If in a group, read aloud)

This book is written by the Apostle Paul. Paul was formerly a zealous Jew who persecuted followers of Christ, but after experiencing God’s presence on a road outside Damascus, he then became a passionate follower of Jesus. Paul would go on to write the majority of our New Testament. And 2 Timothy is Paul’s last letter. At the time of the letter’s writing, Paul is imprisoned for sharing the Gospel. He is in a dark, dismal jail under Roman guard. Paul tells us he is “wearing chains” like a “criminal” (2 Tim 1:16; 2:9). He also shares that he has been deserted in this solitary place (4:9-10) and longs for company, even as his inevitable death appears to be on the horizon (4:6).

Despite this, Paul knows he has carried out his God-given mission and awaits the heavenly reward to come (4:7-8). Thus, even though he has finished his work, he now uses these last words to pass the torch on to his son in the faith, Timothy (1:2).

As you work your way through this book over the next eight weeks, take time considering both perspectives of the letter: that of the writer (Paul) and the original reader (Timothy). The two share a real relationship of Gospel-centered discipleship. In that, what does Paul choose to highlight to his disciple? And how might we, as readers like Timothy, take these words to heart and then live them out in faith and truth? May you be blessed in this journey through God’s Word. May you “fan into flame the gift of God” (1:6). And as God pours into you more and more, may you “guard the good deposit” that will be entrusted to you (1:14).

The Paul & Timothy Relationship

(Search the Scriptures on your own or together to learn the story of Paul and Timothy)

– Look at Acts 16:1-5. This is the first time Paul meets Timothy. What do you notice about Timothy’s upbringing? How might the faith differences between his mother and father have shaped Timothy’s relationship with Paul?

– Turn now to Acts 17:10-15. How are the Bereans characterized? The writer tells us Jews and Greeks were ministered to here. How was Timothy uniquely suited as a bridge between these two cultures? Also, as Paul leaves Timothy behind in Berea, what impact might staying in Berea have had on Timothy? How could their character have potentially rubbed off on him and shaped his ministry going forward?

– We see Paul continue to send Timothy into communities blossoming in the good news of the Gospel. He served as the right hand of Paul and was entrusted with much. We see this as well in Paul’s letters to the Corinthians and Philippians. Briefly look at 1 Corinthians 4:17, 16:10, & Philippians 2:19-23. What stands out here?

– Our last stop in looking to the biblical context behind Paul and Timothy’s relationship is Paul’s first letter to his disciple: the book of 1 Timothy. Here we will look at just a few highlights of the letter to unpack a few more key characteristics:

– Timothy is urged to advance God’s work against opposition. He tells Timothy the goal is “love”, which comes from a “pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith” (1 Tim 1:3-5).

– Timothy is told not to let anyone look down on him because of his youthfulness, but to instead set an example for the believers (1 Tim 4:12).

– Timothy is called to guard what has been entrusted to his care (1 Tim 6:20) while he “fights the good fight of faith (1 Tim 6:12). He is to flee from evil and instead pursue “righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness” (1 Tim 6:11).

Your own story

– What challenged and/or encouraged you through Paul’s words to/about Timothy?

– Have you ever felt equipped and empowered by someone in the faith? Have you provided that for someone else? If so, write and/or share about that discipleship relationship.

– Where do you see God’s hand at work throughout these Scriptures? How is God central to the Paul & Timothy discipleship relationship?

Use these questions to prepare for the week beginning Sunday, Oct 1. 

2 Timothy: an introduction

Grounding Yourself

As we begin this journey of walking through Paul’s final letter to Timothy, let us pause and ask God to slow us down and teach us. In whatever way is most meaningful to you, say aloud/write/meditate on the following: Slow me down, Lord, and teach me.

Grasping the Scriptures

Read 2 Timothy 1:1-12

  • What do you learn about Paul from this passage? What do you learn about Timothy? In what ways are you like Paul & Timothy?
  • Who are Lois & Eunice? What role did they play in Timothy’s spiritual development? How do you imagine this might have looked in daily practice?
  • Do you notice any themes or patterns present in these verses? Why do you think repetition of these things was important to Paul?
  • Re-read verses 8-12 and then read the following excerpt from the book, Christ-Centered Exposition: Exalting Jesus in 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus (Merida, 149):

“In a few verses Paul concisely exalts God’s gospel. When he finishes with this awe-inspiring description, he says, ‘And that is why I suffer these things’ (v. 12, emphasis added). The reason Paul was willing to lay down his life in this mission was that he believed the gospel was worth it; Christ was worth it! Paul found Christ to be more desirable, enjoyable, and beautiful than anything else. Even dying was gain for Paul because of this vision of the Savior. Religious people find God useful, but cross-bearing disciples find him beautiful. You can endure suffering when you see what Paul saw.”

  • What did Paul see when he contemplated the gospel? (see verses 9-10)
  • Read vs. 6-7. What gift has God given you? How might you “fan [it] into flame”?

Getting your hands dirty

Write yourself a postcard or letter this week reminding yourself whom God made you to be. You may name any weaknesses, struggles, insecurities, and uncertainties you carry; but, also point yourself back to God’s Truth about how you bear His image well. And even more, remind yourself of who God is. (Pass this writing on to someone else and ask them to hold onto it and then mail it to you sometime down the road. If you are in a small group, bring your sealed letter the next time you’re together and give it to someone in your group.)

Gleaning Insight from Others

To work through with a small group.

Begin your time by reading through the passage aloud and closing your time in prayer with one another.

  • Do you remember a time when someone encouraged you in a way that impacted the rest of your life?
  • Paul uses a version of the words remember/remind 4 times in verses 3-7. What else have we been told to remember in scripture? (See 1 Cor 11:24-25, Luke 22:19) How does remembering/reminding play a role in our work as a disciple(r)?
  • List the ways that Paul encourages Timothy in this passage. Are you particularly encouraged by one of these exhortations? What is it and why are you encouraged by it? How might you encourage others with this?
  • In verse 8, Paul urges Timothy to “not be ashamed.” Why might he be ashamed? Have you ever been in a situation that you found yourself ashamed or found it hard to stand up for your faith?
  • Read Paul’s words in Romans 5:3-5 and Jesus’ words in Luke 9:23-24. How would you describe the role suffering plays in our faith? Where have you seen that in your own life?
  • What’s something from this week’s time in 2 Timothy that has left a mark on you? (something you need to think about more, something you want to talk with someone about, something you want to put into practice, etc)

Guiding Others

To work through with family and friends.

The idea behind this section is to give parents a few questions they could talk through with their kids at the dinner table or while tucking them in at night. But this is not limited to parents of young children. These questions could be discussed with folks of any age.

Read 2 Timothy 1:7 (ERV) “The spirit of God does not make us afraid. His Spirit is a source of power and love and self-control.”

If you are doing this with young kids you’ll probably need to talk about the three words: power, love and self-control. You might ask, “What do you think it means when it says, “power,” etc? Here is an easy way to define them all.

  • Power can mean being physically strong, but it also means having the courage to do something hard or difficult.
  • Love means putting others first.
  • Self-control means doing the right thing even when you don’t feel like it.

Talk about it:

1. Is there something hard going on that you need power from the Holy Spirit to help you through it?

2. Where have you seen love this week? How might you show love to someone else?

3. Where might you need the Holy Spirit to help you with self-control?

Use these questions to prepare for the week beginning Sunday, Oct 8. 

2 Timothy: 1:13-2:2

Grounding Yourself

Before diving into your time in the Word this week, take a moment to stop and pause. And then pray this simple prayer: Holy Spirit, help me receive your teaching today.

Grasping the Scriptures

Read 2 Timothy 1:13-2:2

  • If you were to name the main themes of this passage, what would they be? What is Paul getting at? What are the main messages here he is impressing upon his disciple, Timothy?
  • What do you believe the “good deposit” is that Paul refers to? Why might it need to be guarded with the help of the Holy Spirit? And why might Paul need to remind Timothy to “be strong” in the grace of Christ?
  • How has this section built upon 2 Tim 1:1-12? Are there key concepts continuing here? Is the letter beginning to take a different turn here? What do you see?
  • Re-read verses 15-18 and then read the following excerpt from the book The Message of 2 Timothy: Guard the Gospel (Stott, 45):

“Paul saw the turning away of the Asian churches as more than a personal desertion; it was disavowal of his apostolic authority. It must have seemed particularly tragic, because a few years previously, during Paul’s two and a half years’ residence in Ephesus, Luke says that ‘all the residents of Asia’ heard the word of the Lord and many believed (Acts 19:10). Now, ‘all of Asia’ had turned away from him. The great awakening had been followed by a great defection. To every eye but that of faith it must have appeared just then as if the gospel were on the eve of extinction. The one bright exception appears to have been a man called Onesiphorus”.

  • How does Paul describe Onesiphorus? How do you see Onesiphorus living out the Gospel?
  • Has someone been an Onesiphorus to you lately? How have you seen the Gospel through them?

Getting your hands dirty

How could you be an Onesiphorus this week to someone else? Is there a way you could “refresh”, encourage, or be a real help to another? Prayerfully consider who God might be calling you serve for this week. And then go be an expression of the Gospel to their life. It could be as simple as taking someone to coffee or having them over for a meal. Or God might be calling you to something even more sacrificial and generous. Be creative in being Christ.

Gleaning Insight from Others

To work through with a small group.

Begin your time by reading through the passage aloud and closing your time in prayer with one another.

  • If you had to give a TED talk (20-minute topical lecture) tomorrow on any subject, what would it be? What do you already feel qualified to share and speak on? Why is this topic important to you?
  • Share the main themes you examined and explored in the passage.
  • 1:13- 14 may be seen as a call to be protective, while 2:1-2 is a call to be proactive. Why are both elements necessary in our Christian faith? Do you find yourself more naturally inclined to one or the other in your experience?
  • Read 2 Tim 2:2 alongside the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20. What do you see in common between these two passages? If the Gospel is the most important message this world has ever known, why does God entrust everyday people like you and me to make it known?
  • Paul highlights the grace found in Christ, alongside the help of the Holy Spirit, as pivotal to Timothy’s mission. Where do you see those attributes of God present in other Scriptures? How have you experienced the grace of Christ and the help of the Spirit recently in your life?
  • In the “Getting Your Hands Dirty” section on the front side of this page, you were asked to be an Onesiphorus. What did that actually mean? Were you able to do it? Tell your group about the experience.
  • Lastly, what’s something from this week’s time in 2 Timothy that has left a mark on you? (something you need to think about more, something you want to talk with someone about, something you want to put into practice, etc)

Guiding Others

To work through with family and friends.

The idea behind this section is to give parents a few questions they could talk through with their kids at the dinner table or while tucking them in at night. But this is not limited to parents of young children. These questions could be discussed with folks of any age.

Read 2 Timothy 1:14 (ERV) “This teaching is a treasure that you have been trusted with. Protect it with the help of the Holy Spirit, who lives inside us.”

Talk about it:

1. What picture comes to mind when you think of the word treasure?

2. What is something in your life that you treasure?

3. This verse says God’s teachings are like a treasure inside of us. What do you think it means to protect God’s teaching?

Use these questions to prepare for the week beginning Sunday, Oct 15. 

2 Timothy: 2:3-14

Grounding Yourself

Read 2 Timothy 2:7. Take a moment to pause and ask yourself, “Do I trust that the Lord will give me insight and understanding of His Will as I reflect on His Word?” Ask the Spirit to do this for you as you walk through this week’s passage.

Grasping the Scriptures

Read 2 Timothy 2:3-14

  • If you could summarize this passage in 3 sentences or less, what would you say?
  • Why might Paul use the illustrations of the soldier, the athlete and the farmer in verses 3-6? What illustration might you use to convey the same message?
  • Verse 4 states that “no one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs– he wants to please his commanding officer” (NIV). What might Paul be referring to as “civilian affairs?” If Paul were living in our community in the present day, what “civilian affairs” might he warn us
    against?
  • What does Paul proclaim as his gospel in verse 8?
  • For whom does Paul write that he is enduring everything? Why?
  • In verses 11-13, Paul inserts a poem into his letter to Timothy. Verse 12a reads, “If we endure, we will also reign with him.” (NIV) Read the following excerpt by N.T. Wright:

“In God’s eyes, a human being, reflecting his image and likeness, is more important that the brightest star in the sky. True, some passages in the New Testament do speak of Jesus and his people shining like stars…but the ‘glory’ of which Paul and the other New Testament writers speak has more to do with the status, the role which God’s people will be given. In verse 12, as in passages like Romans 5:17, Paul talks about ‘reigning’ with Christ. God’s new world will not simply be a place of rest and refreshment, as people often imagine. That’s what awaits God’s faithful people immediately after death; but after that again, when God brings the new creation into existence, there will be new work to do, new tasks to stretch our ability and imagination. Those who are faithful in the present world will be given authority in the next one, where they will share Jesus’ reign.” (Pastoral Letters for Everyone, 103)

  • How does this excerpt influence your outlook on endurance for the sake of the gospel?

Getting your hands dirty

N.T. Wright states that the poem in verses 11-13 is “the sort of thing you can imagine people learning by heart, teaching to their children and friends, and then repeating under their breath when standing before tribunals, when threatened by angry magistrates or beaten by guards, when facing sudden and fierce temptation.” (Pastoral Letters for Everyone, 103) Write out this poem and place it somewhere that you will see it daily. See if you can memorize it. Consider taking a picture of this poem and sending it to a friend. Maybe even teach this poem to someone… What impact will this poem have on you and your circle of influence?

Gleaning Insight from Others

To work through with a small group.

Begin your time by reading through the passage aloud and closing your time in prayer with one another.

  • Is there a quote or saying that you know by heart? Perhaps it’s something you occasionally mutter under your breath at various times during your daily life? If so, what is it?
  • How did you summarize 2 Timothy 2:3-14 in this week’s homework?
  • How do the following scriptures reinforce Paul’s declaration that “God’s word is not chained” in verse 9 (NIV): Philippians 1:12-18; 2 Corinthians 4:7-15
  • In verse 14, Paul urges Timothy to warn against “quarreling about words.” Why might quarreling over words be dangerous to the gospel message?
  • What’s something from this week’s time in 2 Timothy that has left a mark on you? (something you need to think about more, something you want to talk with someone about, something you want to put into practice, etc)
  • In the “Getting Your Hands Dirty” section on the front side of this page, you were encouraged to write out / memorize / teach / share the poem from verses 11-13. If you did this, what impact did it have on your week?

Guiding Others

To work through with family and friends.

The idea behind this section is to give parents a few questions they could talk through with their kids at the dinner table or while tucking them in at night. But this is not limited to parents of young children. These questions could be discussed with folks of any age.

Read 2 Timothy 2:13 (ERV) “If we are not faithful, he will still be faithful, because he cannot be false to himself.”

Talk about it:

1. What do you think this verse means?

2. What are some qualities other than “faithful” that are true about God? Pick your favorite.

3. How has God shown that quality to you or your family?

4. How can you show that quality to someone else this week?

Use these questions to prepare for the week beginning Sunday, Oct 22. 

2 Timothy: 2:14-26

Grounding Yourself

Read over the following four phrases from 2:21
– Instruments for special purposes; Made holy; Useful to the Master; Prepared to do any good work
Now take a moment in prayer with those phrases specifically in mind. Let them lead you into your time with the Lord today.

Grasping the Scriptures

Read 2 Timothy 2:3-14

  • Do you notice any repeating themes in this passage? What is Paul getting at? What is he addressing here and how does he go about making this message known?
  • Paul makes claims throughout the first part of this passage (14-19) about the consequences of not following in the path of righteousness he is laying out. What do you see at stake here? Write down what Paul says happens to those who don’t do as God intends.
  • In verse 22, Paul writes, “Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels.” What do you see as the difference between “foolish and stupid arguments” and “quarrels”? Why might Paul draw a distinction between the two?
  • Make a list of all God specifically tells Timothy to do in this passage. If you were to make an action item list after reading this, what would that look like? What tangible, practical steps are we called to take (or not take) in light of Paul’s writing here?
  • Re-read verse 14 and then read the following excerpt from The Letters to Timothy (Barclay, 172):

“The normal word for building a person up in the Christian faith, for edification, is the same as is used for literally building a house; the word which Paul uses here for “ruin” (katastrophe) is what might well be used for the demolition of a house. And it may well happen that clever, subtle, speculative, intellectually reckless discussion may have the effect of demolishing, and not building up, the faith of some person who happens to become involved in it. As in all things, there is a time to discuss and a time to be silent..”

  • Paul tell us it is can be a katastrophe to quarrel about words. Rather than seeing this as a blanket statement that prevents us from ever defending the gospel, it is instead helpful to read Paul’s call in light of the whole passage. When you do so, how might you then understand Paul’s warning? What kind of discussions are damaging rather than building up?

Getting your hands dirty

This passage pushes against false teachers who oppose the gospel. It also calls for God’s workers to be  able to correctly handle the truth (2:15) and able to teach it (2:24). This week, take a step in that direction. Practice sharing the gospel with a friend or family member, or be brave and share with someone who doesn’t know the gospel. But here’s the kicker: make it clear while making it your own.

If you prefer writing it out, write it out. If you like to draw and use symbols and illustrations, do so. If you’re an oral processor, speak. If it’s poetry or song, then create. In whatever way feels natural and right, take a step in correctly making God and his gospel known through you, his instrument and servant.

Gleaning Insight from Others

To work through with a small group.

Begin your time by reading through the passage aloud and closing your time in prayer with one another.

  • Is there a tool or device or instrument you’re especially good with? Perhaps it’s some kitchen utensil or fancy tech-savvy gadget. What comes to mind? Tell us about it.
  • If you had to explain our passage today to a child, how would you do it? What would you say? Hopefully this exercise helps you pick out the main points and themes.
  • What did you see as the major consequences of not walking in line with Paul’s warnings in this passage? What is at stake? What damages could be done?
  • Paul calls us to “correctly handle the truth” (2:15). As a group, go back through Paul’s writing in 2 Timothy up to this point. If you could only use the first two chapters of this letter to share the gospel, what would you highlight in Paul’s writing? How and where has he presented the gospel clearly so far in this letter?
  • In our lives, what do Paul’s warnings against words and quarreling actually look like? Where do you see this potentially causing harm in our day and age? How can we guard against this and become “kind to everyone” and “not resentful” (2:24)?
  • In the “Getting Your Hands Dirty” section on the front side of this page, you were asked to present the gospel in a way that felt natural to you. What did that look like? Were you able to share it? How did that go?
  • What’s something from this week’s time in 2 Timothy that has left a mark on you? (something you need to think about more, something you want to talk with someone about, something you want to put into practice, etc)

Guiding Others

To work through with family and friends.

The idea behind this section is to give parents a few questions they could talk through with their kids at the dinner table or while tucking them in at night. But this is not limited to parents of young children. These questions could be discussed with folks of any age.

Read 2 Timothy 2:21 (ERV) “The Lord wants to use you for special purposes, so make yourself clean from all evil. Then you will be holy, and the Master can use you. You will be ready for any good work.”

Talk about it:

1. What does Paul tell us to do so we can be ready for any good work?

2. How do you make yourself clean from all evil?

1 John 1:9 – “But, if we confess our sins, God will forgive us. We can trust God to do this. He always does what is right. He will make us clean from all the wrong things we have done.”

3. How is a good work you know God wants you to do this week?

Use these questions to prepare for the week beginning Sunday, Oct 29. 

2 Timothy: 3:1-9

Grounding Yourself

Begin your time alone with God by reflecting on the HOPE we have in Jesus. What has God used recently to remind you of the HOPE we have in Him? Take a moment to thank Him for that gracious reminder.

Grasping the Scriptures

Read 2 Timothy 3:1-9

  • After reading this passage, what is one word you would use to describe your response to it?
  • Paul states that, in the last days, people will be… and he proceeds to list attributes that people will exhibit during the last days. Then, in verse 5, Paul warns Timothy to have nothing to do with such people. Using this information, what can you assume about the last days?
  • In verses 1-5, count how many descriptors are listed. Which one jumps off the page to you? Why?
  • What might it mean to have a “form of godliness?” (vs 5)?
  • In his sermon, “When a Lover of Good Thinks About Evil,” John Piper states in response to 2 Timothy 3:6:

Evil is insidious. It creeps toward the weak. Weak women, weak men, weak children. That’s what evil does. Evil is not going up against the strong women, men and children. Evil will snoop out the person with the least discernment…The task of the church is to make men and women and children mighty in the Word of God. Bible-saturated in the Word of God so that women and men stand against the wiles of the devil.

  • How does verse 7 reinforce Piper’s claim that evil seeks out a lack of discernment?
  • Paul mentions Jannes and Jambres in verse 8. The Jewish Talmud tradition claims that these are the names of the magicians who opposed Moses in the presence of the Pharaoh (see Exodus 7:11). Why do you think Paul mentions these two men? What point might he be trying to make?
  • Do you find evidence of HOPE in this passage? If so, where?

Getting your hands dirty

Take a few minutes and watch John Piper’s sermon entitled “When a Lover of Good Thinks About Evil.” After watching the sermon, write down a question that you have or a quote from the sermon that you’d like to research a little more.

 

Gleaning Insight from Others

To work through with a small group.

Begin your time by reading through the passage aloud and closing your time in prayer with one another.

  • When you were younger, who was your hero? Why did you admire that person?
  • Share with your group the descriptor (from Question 2 on the front side of this sheet) that stands out to you.
  • How do these attributes of people in the last days stand in stark contrast to what Jesus identified as the two greatest commandments (see Matthew 22:36-40)?
  • Why is it important to study passages like this?
  • What’s something from this week’s time in 2 Timothy that has left a mark on you? (something you need to think about more, something you want to talk with someone about, something you want to put into practice, etc)
  • In the “Getting Your Hands Dirty” section on the front side of this page, you were given the option to watch a sermon by John Piper regarding this passage. If you watched it, what questions or quotes are you intrigued by and want to know more about?

Guiding Others

To work through with family and friends.

The idea behind this section is to give parents a few questions they could talk through with their kids at the dinner table or while tucking them in at night. But this is not limited to parents of young children. These questions could be discussed with folks of any age.

Read 2 Timothy 2:21 (ERV) “They will go on pretending to be devoted to God, but they will not let their ‘devotion’ change the way they live. Stay away from those people.”

Talk about it:

1. What would a person who pretends to be devoted to God act like?

2. If someone is truly devoted to God, how might their lives be different from the person who is pretending?

3. Why does Paul tell us to stay away from people who pretend?

4. When we remember the things God has done for us, it inspires us to be devoted to Him. What is something God has done for you?