The Promise of Life That Is in Christ Jesus

In 2 Timothy 1:1, Paul identifies himself as “an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God according to the promise of the life that is in Christ Jesus.”

Paul was “an apostle of Christ Jesus” in that he was chosen, called, and sent by Christ Jesus to proclaim the gospel to the Gentiles (Acts 9:15; 26:16–18). This apostleship was sovereignly ordained and took place “by the will of God,” and its purpose was “according to the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus.” The richness of this last phrase is worth a closer look.

The Life That Is In Christ Jesus

The life that is in Christ Jesus is eternal, spiritual life. Without this life, we would only sin and live in spiritual death (Rom 5:12–14), only to be punished by the second death, eternal residence in the lake of fire (Rev 20:14–15). This life in Christ Jesus is ours to have as a free gift from God made possible in Christ (Rom 6:23). It comes to us when we believe that Jesus is the Christ (John 20:31) and, more broadly, it comes to us through the gospel (2 Tim 1:10), which makes clear that Jesus Christ died for our sins and rose again (1 Cor 15:3–4).

The Promise of This Life

That this life was the content of a promise implies that one gave this promise and that another received this promise. It would seem that God Himself is the One who gives this promise. Indeed, “eternal life” was something “which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began” (Titus 1:2). After that, “the gospel of God” was something “promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures” of the Old Testament (Rom 1:1–2). In the context of 2 Tim 1:1, the recipients of this promise are those who hear about this promise in this present age. Paul’s function as an apostle was to be sent and to go the Gentiles, heralding the gospel, that is, that God promises eternal life to all those who repent and believe and thus find themselves in Christ Jesus, a gospel that we are all to give to everyone who will hear (cf. Matt 28:18–20).

Putting the above together, according to 2 Timothy 1:1, it was the will of God that Paul was sent by Christ Jesus as an apostle for the purpose of bringing about what was promised, namely, that many would have eternal life through Christ Jesus because of their repentant belief in the gospel.

May we praise God as those who believe this gospel and have eternal life in Christ Jesus!

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