Second Reading: 2 Timothy 3:14-4:2

The Good Teacher

Who was your favorite teacher? What impact did he or she have on your life?

Popular Translation

3:14 Timothy! Stay faithful to what you learned and what you believe in. You know where you learned about Jesus. 15 You knew the Bible from the time you were a baby. The Bible can help you understand how you can trust Jesus to save you. 16 God breathed his Spirit throughout the Bible. So, it is useful for teaching others, for showing others how they have gone the wrong way and how they can return to God, and for instructing everyone the right way to live. 17 When someone is taught in this way, he has the right tools to do good things.

4:1 I swear before God and Christ Jesus, who will soon come to judge everyone alive or dead, by the appearance of Jesus and his coming Kingdom: 2 Preach Godís Word. Stay strong in good times or bad. Be honest with others, tell them the right way, and encourage them with all the patience and teaching ability you have.

Literal Translation

3:14 But you, remain in what you learned and (in what you) placed your faith, having known from whom you learned, 15 and that from infancy you knew the Sacred Writings, those (texts) being able to give you wisdom toward salvation through faith in CHRIST JESUS. 16 All Scripture (is) God-breathed and useful for teaching, for rebuking (evil), for correction, for child-like instruction in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God might be fit, having been equipped for every good work.

4:1 I fully swear before God and CHRIST JESUS, the one about to judge the living and the dead, and HIS appearance, and HIS Kingdom: 2 preach the Word, stand firm (in you faith in) good times (or) bad times, rebuke, admonish, and encourage in all patience and teaching.

3:16 This verse is oft quoted to show the supreme authority of Scripture. When read in context, however, the verse only demonstrated the function of Scripture in the community. It was useful to spread the Good News.

When 2 Timothy was written, the Christian message was proclaimed on street corners and marketplaces. The evangelist was frequently faced with a hostile audience (especially from Christian competitors, Jewish synagogues). Many times, the scene turned into a battle of apologetics. Knowledge of the Hebrew Scriptures was necessary to defend the Christian position and to advance its cogency among Jews and their sympathizers.

And, obviously, knowledge of the Bible was also useful in the instruction of the neophytes.

What are the qualities of a good teacher? A patient but direct manner, a through knowledge of the subject, and an inner passion for what is taught? In these few verses, the author encouraged his student to become the good teacher.

The author first urged Timothy to stand fast in his faith and in the tradition that he learned. This would insure his personal integrity. He learned that faith from his mentor, but he had knowledge of the Scriptures from an early age. Both would ground him in the work he would do. In the end, the author charged his student to become the good teacher: proclaim the Good News, always remain faithful, and teach with patience and clear direction.

Imagine yourself in the shoes of Timothy. What would your Christian mentor say to you? I bet he or she would say the same thing you have read. Be strong in your faith. Use all the tools at your disposal. Get the attention of your students and keep them focused on your message. Have patient endurance.

These are the qualities of a good teacher and good evangelist.

When have you taught the faith to others? Did you feel you had success? Why or why not?