II Timothy 3:12-15 “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”
Writing to a young comrade that was destined to take his place, Paul encouraged Timothy to “continue” (vs.14). The word “continue” means to stay in a given place, state, relationship, or expectancy. In spite of the persecution and adversities that await all that will live godly, Paul encouraged Timothy to abide true to the Word of God. Having encouraged him to take an unmovable stand and not to deviate from the truth, Paul reinforced his personal encouragement with his personal example; “in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them.”
Within verse 14, there are two areas of Paul’s personal example that he used to encourage faithfulness. In the first part of verse 14, Paul will magnify contrast, “the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of.” While it is not all that he has learned, much of what Timothy knew about the Word of God, he learned from the Apostle Paul. Earlier in this letter, Paul said, “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses” (II Timothy 2:2). Paul knew that is it one thing to hear the truth, but it’s another thing to see the truth! Paul is telling Timothy to contrast what he has heard from Paul’s lips with what he has seen lived out in Paul’s life. Paul is confident of the results; Timothy will be “assured.” The word “assured” means to assure and comes from a word meaning trustworthy, faithful or true. Paul had not only proclaimed the truth, he had personified the truth.
In the last part of verse 14, Paul will magnify character, “knowing of whom thou hast learned them.” Here Paul is emphasizing the principle of character and content! Our Lord enlightens us to the principle in Luke 6:43-45, “For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.” Timothy’s mentor was not “evil men and seducers” that were “deceiving, and being deceived” (vs.13), but rather an individual that possessed a love for God and the things of God. This was the type of individual that had imparted to him the precious truths and principles of God’s Word. He had given Timothy something worth hanging on to: the content of the scriptures was established by the character of the speaker!
Paul would do more than just encourage Timothy to abide in the truth of God’s Word; he would be a personal example! What Paul set forth in the life of his young comrade is a simple, yet profound principle; what is received from one’s lips will only be retained when reinforced by one’s life! As an example, are you believable?