July 18, 2023

The Pattern to Follow to Make Followers of Christ

Series: Discipleship Scripture: 2 Timothy 1:13– 2:2

(Read 2 Timothy 1:13-2:2)

How did the early church, without a complete Bible, with no Bible schools or seminaries, with no buildings to meet in, with no powerful and popular members in high and influential places, and in the face of frequent and vicious persecution, turn out such fruitful followers of Christ in such a brief period of time? Dr. Thom Wolfe suggest the correct answer was that, "Paul and the early church had a standard, a pattern, a model which he taught in every church in every place he went. It was a "tupos" (a pattern) that was to be received, retained, remembered, and reproduced. It was the universal discipleship model."

Before proceeding, we need to remind ourselves again of Jesus' description of what he meant by being and building followers of Himself. He said to His first disciples in Matthew 4:19, "Follow me and I will make you fishers of men." In this statement, Jesus reveals three key points of being a follower of Christ. A follower, or disciple, of Christ is one who is:

(1) committed to Christ's person -- ("follow me")

(2) changed by Christ's power -- ("I will make you")

(3) commissioned by Christ's plan -- ("fishers of men").

With these three ideas in mind, we approach these verses in 2 Timothy looking for Paul's pattern, or outline, for disciple-making. The two letters of Paul to Timothy involve the greatest disciple-maker that ever lived apart from the Lord Jesus himself, and perhaps the greatest model of a disciple in the process of being built into a reproductive, multiplying, world-visionary, world-impacting disciple, in Timothy.

No study of the New Testament standard for building disciples would be complete without spending time examining the process of disciple-making set forth by Paul and Timothy. Our text in 2 Timothy 2:1-2 is on par with the Great Commission as stated in it's most detailed account in Matthew 28:19-20.

1. The Options the Disciple Faces -- 2 Timothy 1:16-18

The "therefore" in 2 Tim. 2:1 takes us back to at least verses 13-18 in Chapter 1. In Chapter 2 verse one, the word “you” is major emphasis (the Holy Spirit shouts!) Why? Because of the conclusion of chapter one in which he has contrasted the “faithless many” and a “faithful one”.  Paul is saying to his disciple, “Timothy, as for YOU, make the choice to be faithful and a finisher, not fickle and a fallout!”A.

A. Defection - 2 Tim. 1:13-15

Although "all" those in Asia Minor had deserted Paul, he singles out two men in particular, Phygelus (fih jel uhs) and Hermogenes (her MAHJ ih neez). Commentator Guy King said, “They couldn't help their ugly names, but they could have helped their ugly character.”

We know nothing of these individuals but what is here mentioned. It would seem that they were prominent persons, and those from whom the apostle had been discipling and had expected better for his investment in them. "The ecclesiastical traditions allege that they were of the seventy disciples, and in the end became followers of Simon Magus." This is only conjecture. It is a sad thing when the only record made of a man - the only evidence which we have that he ever lived at all - is, that he turned away from a friend, or forsook the discipling process with the greatest of disciple-makers. And yet there are many men of whom the only thing to be remembered of them is, that they lived to do wrong.

Lesson: Do not be surprised when potential disciples defect and drop out on you!

 B. Dedication - 2 Timothy 1:16-18

Paul dismisses the faithless defectors with one short verse but uses three verses to commend Onesiphorus. In verse 16 he is in Rome, and then in verse 18 he is half-way across the Roman Empire. All of this effort and expense      in order to catch up with the greatest disciple?maker in history and minister to him as well as getting further infected with the Master and his Mandate. Onesiphorus had shown great kindness to Paul: he refreshed him, he often refreshed him with his letters, and counsels, and comforts, and he was not ashamed of his chains. He was not ashamed of Paul, notwithstanding the disgrace he was now under. He was kind to him not once or twice, but often; not only when he was at Ephesus among his own friends, but when Onesiphorus was at Rome; he took care to seek Paul out very diligently, and found him, as stated in 2 Tim 1:17.

C. Decision - 2 Timothy 2:1

Two little monosyllable words in the Greek bear the stress of this second letter to Timothy. In 2 Timothy 2:1, the words are, “su oun” and in 4:5, “su de” and could be translated “YOU therefore” or “but for YOU!" Paul suspends Timothy between the “faithless and the faithful” and says in essence, “YOU" must make the choice of which category you will live! Others may conform to the spirit of the age, yield to the pressures of public opinion, run for fear of their lives, or trade the truth of the gospel for the trinkets of the market – "BUT NOT YOU"! "YOU THEREFORE!”

Lesson – We Face this Choice on a Regular Basis.

The ancient Arabs created a special breed of horses, sometimes called "Arabian stallions."  At first, they were bred for exclusive use in the King's stables.  As part of the equestrian training, a trainer carried a whistle on a rawhide rope around his neck.  For months the horse was trained to stop all activity at the sound of the trainer's whistle and make a "bee line" for the trainer.  Rigid obedience was required.  The tiniest refusal was total disobedience.  Then, for five days food was withheld from the horse, and for three days the horse was refused water to drink.  It was kept in a corral in these final days of training.  On the last day, a trough of food and water was placed visibly about 50-75 yards from the corral.  The horse would stampede in hunger and thirst on the trough side of the corral.  Then suddenly, the corral door would be sprung open, and the surprised horse would gallop toward the trough.  But, when the horse was yet about 15 yards from the trough, the trainer standing off to the side would blow the whistle!  Everything about the horse would tighten in confusion.  A choice had to quickly be made.  The choice?  Trough or trainer?  Which would it be?  If the horse continued to the trough and gratified its hunger and thirst, thus disobeying the command of the trainer, it would either be recycled through the process or dismissed altogether.  If the horse "voted" against its own drives and instincts and in favor of the trainer and the training process, thus going immediately to the trainer, it was then dismissed to go to the trough for food and water.

Dear brothers, everyday such a choice confronts us. Will it be the trough of self-gratification, or the Trainer's commands?  Convenience or commitment? Interpersonal disciple-making relationships or Independent safe and cozy relationships? But as for YOU -- WHICH?

II. The Outline the Discipler Follows

A Pattern to Keep - 2 Timothy 1:13a:"Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me..."

Dr. Thom Wolfe is right when he asserts: "In the 21st century, with all the open doors to the good news (gospel) conversation, we must reevaluate just how the apostles were able to go into an area, preach the good news, gather converts, nurture them, and move on in such a way that they could write back and, with such confidence, remind them of a core of teaching that seemed to be so pervasive and so commonly understood by all (see 1 Thessalonians 3:3-4:2; 2 Thessalonians 2:5). Even more perplexing is the fact that Paul and the church planting team were often only in a city a few weeks, a few months, or at most, a few years. How did they do it? How could they create such radiant persons and such responsible and reproductive leaders?"

So, the question is, "How did Paul establish leaders so quickly, solidly, and reproducibly, that became the basis for the earliest Christianity? The answer is he had a pattern, a standard, or an outline, that could be received personally, remembered easily, and reproduced strategically.

This standard is referred to in 2 Timothy 1.13: "Retain the standard (hupotuposis) of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus." It is the "pattern (tupos) of teaching" to which Christians were handed over (Romans 6.17).

Paul uses a vivid picture. He says that what happened to him was a kind of outline-sketch of what was going to happen to those who would accept Christ in the days to come. The word he uses is "hupotuposis" which means an outline, a sketch-plan, a first draft, a preliminary model.

Thus, Paul knew himself to be a living standard/model/paradigm/example of God's unlimited patience (I Timothy 1.15-17, vs. 16: hupotuposis). He urged others to "imitate him and his way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church" (I Corinthians 4.16-17).

This pattern, or outline, involved:

a.Sound teaching

2 Timothy 1:13a, "Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me..." From this Greek word, " hugiano" translated "sound", we get our English word hygiene which refers to "clean or healthy practice" which promote good health! It means healthy, sound, wholesome, free from flaw, defect or error and emphasizes the absence of disease or malfunction. In the present context, it refers to words which produce good spiritual health. False "ear tickling" teaching (2 Tim. 4:3,4) by contrast leads to spiritual sickness at best and eternal death at worst!

"Unhealthy" teaching composed of unsound words will manifest itself in ungodly behavior, because what (healthy or unhealthy doctrine) one is taught and what one believes affects how one behaves. Truth and falsehood will always be discerned by the fruit they produce (Mt 7:15-16). God's truth produces godliness (Titus 1:1). The transformation wrought by the intake of sound words is visibly manifest by holy conduct.

b. Specific template

2 Timothy 1:13b, "..in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus." We use the word "template" as a frame in which the "healthy words" are to be given.

How was Timothy to cling to the sound words he had heard from Paul? Was it to be a formal, lifeless retention of a mechanical formula and rigid orthodoxy?

Clearly not and so Paul adds "in the faith and love" which mark the sphere in which the pattern of sound words must be held.

We are to believe and broadcast God's Word in the faith, that is, with the right attitude of confidence toward God and His Word; and we are to defend it in love with the right attitude of kindness and compassion toward unbelievers and toward poorly taught and immature believers. ("Speaking the truth in love..." Eph 4:15).

c. Supervised trust

2 Timothy 1:14b, "... guard the good deposit entrusted to you." Timothy is to guard, watch, and defend the truth once for all delivered to the saints in view of the defection from the truth beginning even in the first century.

Because God, through the apostle Paul, had made an investment in Timothy, and he must not let that fail.

The word deposited is "paratheke" and was originally a banking term, although other writers had also applied it to teaching. Jewish bankers stressed that one was responsible to safeguard or multiply any money given one for safekeeping. Jewish teachers felt that they were passing on a sacred deposit to their disciples, who were expected to pass it on to others in turn.

d. Spirit's teamwork

2 Timothy 1:14a, "By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us ..."

We are not independent operators but co-partners in the co-mission! We must not think we can protect this spiritual truth by our own strength, but must abide in Christ, let His Word richly dwell in us, be filled with His Spirit, humbly maintaining a sense of determined dependence upon our Helper, the Holy Spirit. So in this verse we see mans responsibility (guard) and God's sovereignty (through the Holy Spirit) working together to bring about the intended result. The ministry of the Holy Spirit will enable Timothy and all believers to be a good steward of the Gospel.

A Power to Seek

Before Paul sets forth the process of building disciples, he first reminds Timothy of the supernatural power needed to complete the Master's assignment.

Paul admonishes Timothy to "be strengthened" and uses the Greek word "endunamou." It is as a present passive imperative verb  meaning, "go on being empowered" or go on "keeping in touch with the power of the Holy Spirit."

A Person to Know

Note the location of the power is "in the grace that is in Christ Jesus "(2 Tim. 2:1b). Christ is the source for power only when and while we keep in touch with Him. So Paul reminds Timothy that the assignment to turn men into disciples doesn't rest on his ability but on the availability and unlimited accessibility that we have to the grace of God in Christ Jesus.

  1. Followers who make followers must spend much time with their disciples, teaching them about Christ Jesus.

Christ Jesus is unique to Paul. All the other writers refer to Him as Jesus Christ because they first knew Him as Jesus (humanity) and then Christ (deity). But Paul meet him first as Christ - the Messiah (brilliant vision, and    voice from heaven on Damascus Road). Then clarification as to whom the Messiah  was -- Jesus - in Saul of Tarsus' former opinion - the despised Nazarene peasant -- a nobody from nowhere!

The preaching/teaching of the book of Acts and the letters of the Apostle Paul are totally Christ-centered and Christ-saturated.

For example, in the first chapter of the book of Colossians, Paul mentions Jesus 30 times in 29 verses. In 1 Corinthians 1:1-10, Paul mentions Jesus 13 times. In Ephesians 1 there are 26 references to Christ Jesus. In Philippians chapter 1, he mentions Jesus 20 times. Notice I am only using one chapter of these references. If you will examine the rest of the chapters in these letters, the number of times our Lord Jesus is referred to is nothing short of astounding!

It is clearly manifest in the Scriptures that the Apostles identified the Gospel with Christ; so that, in their view and practice, to preach the Gospel was neither more nor less than to preach Christ. The record which, in a few words, describes their ministry is that, "daily in the temple and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ." (Acts 5:42). Paul, in his letter to the Romans defines the whole Gospel by saying that it is "concerning Jesus Christ." (Rom. 1:3). The employment of his two years’ imprisonment at Rome was all comprehended in "teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus." And his whole ministry was given unto him, he testifies, that he "might preach the unsearchable riches of Christ." As he could say, "For me to live is Christ;" so for him to preach was Christ. To him Christ and the Gospel were one.

We must model for our disciples the imperativeness of:

(1) Seeking Him Continuously;

(2) Seeing HIM Preeminently;

(3) Savoring Him Passionately;

(4) Sharing Him Extensively.

The Glory of His Person Must Captivate Our Hearts and The Thrill of His Mission Must Dominate Our Lives!

Lesson - Spend much time with your disciples teaching them about the person of Christ. (Use those great Christological passages like John 1:1-18; John 8 (I AM); John 10; Romans 1:1-5; Philippians 2:5-11; Colossians 1:12-23; Hebrews 1:1-4; 1 John 1:1-3; Revelation 1:9-20.)

A Process to Follow -- 2 Timothy 2:2:

"And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also."

The importance of the first person we begin with. The first two, in our text, Paul and Timothy, are the first and the foremost in the pattern for being and building followers of Christ. If the process fails at the first, it will sever the future potential of deposit in the lives of faithful men and others

The process requires a Personal Relationship.

The choice for building disciples must be intentional and relational. Some synonyms for intentional are: deliberate, calculated, on purpose, premeditated. We must understand that we will not build disciples by accident or as a residual effect of typical institutional type church programs.

The personal nature of Paul's relationship with Timothy is often revealed in scripture by such verses as 1Timothy 1:2: "To Timothy, my true child in the faith..."; 1Tim. 1:18) "This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my  child. " 2 Tim. 3:10-11: "Timothy, you know what I teach and how I live. You know what I want to do and what I believe. You have seen how patient and loving I am, and how in the past I put up with trouble and suffering in the cities of Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra. Yet the Lord rescued me from all those terrible troubles (CEV).

Paul chose a man of most unlikely character -- very timid, fearful, and very many years younger than he and discipled him into a champion for Christ. Disciple-making is spiritual parenting. Timothy wasn't Paul's "blood son" but his "under the blood of Jesus" son!

One disciple-maker observed, "You as a discipler, need to make Paul's kind of commitment. If you truly love your disciples, you will spend time and money and anything else to see them mature. If you are too preoccupied with your own needs and interests, not willing to give your total energy to those disciples, you will never see them grow to be all that they can be. If you give of yourself to your disciples, then they in return will give of themselves to what you believe in. Discipling demands sacrifice, and that means hard work."

The process involves a Mutual Partnership.

The mission is simple: to be a follower and make followers or disciples of Christ. In order to make disciples, we must know what Jesus intended. What is the finished product to look like?

A disciple is a pupil, a student, a learner, a practitioner of his or her master's commands. A disciple seeks to learn wisdom from his or her teacher in order to imitate the teacher's way of life. The practice of steadfast obedience, faithful following, and radical commitment are all contained in the word "disciple."

The process operates as a Spiritual Apprenticeship.

"Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me - put into practice" (Philippians 4:9).

One great man has said, "Use them or lose them." A disciple's involvement must be real. A disciple must speak of 'our ministry' instead of 'your ministry'. Paul knew how to pass on responsibility. Necessity may have demanded it, but he saw to it that Timothy could cope and that he received encouragement. 2 Tim. 1:4-5. Timothy went on to serve alone and towards the end of Paul's life he was invited to minister to his discipler (2 Tim 4:21).

The Importance of Fruitful Relationships With the Persons We Bond With

(a) It involves Imitation -- 2 Timothy 1:13; 2:2; Philippians 4:9

As previously stated the word "pattern" or "form" is "hupotuposis" in the Greek, and means a "sketch, form, pattern, or outline for imitation."

1 Corinthians 4:16, "Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers (mimetes, mim-ay-tace'; an imitator) of me." 1Corinthians 11:1, "Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ."

A disciple is more than a pupil, he is an adherent. A disciple is more than a learner, he is an imitator. A disciple is identified by the imitation of the one who followed. The problem is that our nation looks down on imitation, because it is a threat to independence. The reality, however, is that you cannot have discipleship without imitation.

Almost without exception, during question and answer times in disciplemaking conferences, I have this question asked me: "Should not the disciples we are working with follow the Lord and not us? Isn't the command to follow or imitate, limited to following Jesus Christ or imitating the Apostles?" Sounding noble, this question is often asked but betrays a lack of clarity and commitment to New Testament ministry. The probing question, "What did they do in New Testament times?" ceases to be our determining guide for ministry today. However, the Scripture claims that it is both authoritative and sufficient not only for Christian maturity but also for all ministry. (cf. 2 Timothy 3:16-17). Jesus often called others to "Follow me," with the Apostle Paul imitating his example. cf. 1 Cor. 4:16; 11:1; 1 Thess. 1:6; 3:7, 9; Phil. 4:9; Acts 20:20. We presume the other Apostles did the same as they gave their lives to the Great Commission. cf. Matt. 28:19-20. They are to be our models of how we do ministry and not the exceptions simply because they were special Apostles. Paul commanded Timothy to mentor other faithful men in the same way in which he was mentored. cf 2 Timothy 2:1-2 compare with 3:10-11. This isn't just for these special men but the outworking of the Great Commission given to all believers.

(b) It involves Impartation

Building Disciples involves a Maturing Friendship that is Reproductive in Intent – 2 Timothy 2:2c, "... commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also."

What is emphasized is that "disciple" (Greek word, mathetes) always implies the existence of a personal attachment which shapes the whole life of the one described as a disciple." (Kittel, vol. 4, p. 441) They were controlled by the man to whom they had committed themselves, extending to all areas of the inner life. This was not simply a loose casual friendship or even relationship among peers. It suggests a definite leader and an obedient follower, or an intentional, healthy, life, love, and learning imparting type relationship.

The process is not ended when a Christian makes a disciple as Christ commanded. Indeed, the process has but barely begun at that point. It is at this point that many disciple-makers abort the process by being falsely satisfied with a disciple or a group of disciples. No, the process is not properly undertaken until each disciple envisions and acts toward (at least) four more generations of disciples.

There is only one command in 2 Timothy 2:2. The one command is in the word “commit,” or “deposit.” Remember, Christian, this is a command of God! And one part of the verse bears major emphasis, or heavy stress, in the Greek text. It is the term, “others, also.” “Others, also!” “Others, also!!” “OTHERS, ALSO!!! This is the passion and pulse beat of Jesus. We must never be content to merely build disciples who are defined as a good, Christ-like person. This model easily degenerates into disciples who spend their whole life trying to be a better Christian. This twists us into a self-help, self-gratifying, self-curling, turned-in-upon-itself, caricature of Christianity. And note that the quality of the process that reaches the fourth generation must “enable” the fourth generation disciples to “teach others, also.” In other words, the disciple must not be permitted to merely see himself as a learner (the basic meaning of the word “disciple”), but he must be so trained (“enabled”) that he sees himself as a teacher. What an assignment! What an assignment! So the goals of a disciple-maker must include the development of teaching attitudes and aptitudes in an emerging fourth generation of disciples. WHAT AN ASSIGNMENT!!!

Remember this axiom, "There is no success without a successor!"

Herb Hodges writes, "Think expansively of the full genius of Paul’s oft repeated introduction to several of his letters: “Paul and Timothy.” Here is the genius of the strategy of Jesus. That innocent sounding phrase combines all the factors:

Here is the genius of the strategy of Jesus.

Let's rehearse all the factors in the outline:

Personal Relationship + Mutual Partnership + Spiritual Apprenticeship + Maturing Friendship = Fruitful Discipleship!

III. The Outcome the Disciples Fashion

The Goal is Generational Multiplication

This will happen when the discipler:

(1) Protects the gospel deposit by proclaiming it in its fullness -- 2 Timothy 1:14, "By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you."

One of the ways we protect the gospel is by proclaiming it in its fullness so that others will hear it, receive it, and repeat it to others and others.

The word "deposit", which is translated as "commit" in some translations, is a banking term that has in it the idea of investment with the end result being "multiplication" of the assets. Why is a deposit of money made in a bank? To perpetuate and increase the principal. This, I think, is the very reason Jesus used so many illustrations about money. Money can be multiplied by proper investment! The Gospel, a far greater treasure than any amount of money, can be multiplied by proper investment! Indeed, it must be. This is our Commission!

  (2) Perpetuate the gospel deposit by multiplying it in fruitfulness.

The Master's plan for discipleship by imparting life, not just teaching about life - is spiritual parenting. It is birthing, loving, nurturing, showing, telling, confirming, correcting, supervising and releasing disciples to make disciples who can then repeat the process once more. It is both an adventure of a lifetime and a lifetime of adventure

Perpetuating the gospel deposited into our care involves investing it's treasure in the lives of faithful men/women so that it has a continuing and ceaseless history of blessing the lives of men in all future history. This is precisely what the process disciple-making entails. What a stewardship!

Apparently, this is a gigantic stewardship with which every Christian is entrusted, and for which he is responsible. And the New Testament makes it clear that the purpose of my stewardship of the Gospel is multiplication. I am to so invest the Gospel in the lives of others through evangelism and strategic disciple-making that multiplication is guaranteed.

Paul         Timothy       Faithful Men        Others, OTHERS, OTHERS!

Do you have a Timothy in your life? If so, ask him, "How are you doing in the process?" "Are you faithfully handling the deposit?" "Are you being true to your entrustment?" "Is your sense of entitlement (what you own as a Christian) matched by a blessed sense of entrustment (what you owe as a Christian)?" "Timothy, how are you doing?" "And, by the way, Timothy, where are your Timothys?"

Jesus clearly modeled the strategy which He mandated in the Great Commission, and both model and mandate are exemplified in the words, "Paul and Timothy." The Commission of Jesus is to "turn people into disciples," and His own method and ministry provide the only acceptable interpretation of His command. Every Christian is commanded to "turn people into disciples," and this must be done reasonably after the model of Jesus if it is to be done properly. One of my most important environments is the small atmosphere which prevails around me and my disciple. One of my most important involvements is my involvement with my disciple. The procedure and product of my disciple-making ministry must be constantly measured by those of Jesus, so the final test is in the product. I cannot succeed without a successor, a disciple. The principle of succession is an indispensable principle in true Christianity.

The potential of spiritual multiplication is the same as that of biological multiplication. The only reason we don't recognize this is that the process of spiritual multiplication has been hidden beneath a thousand other practices and techniques which have prevailed in the church throughout its recent history. We have substituted the building of crowds and institutions for the qualitative building of individuals.

An old adage says, "Anyone can count the number of seeds in an apple, but only God can count the number of apples in a seed."

When truth reaches you, does it become terminal or germinal? If it becomes terminal with you, you will never know the real victory of the Christian life. If it becomes germinal with you, each disciple you build may be "the foundation of many generations" through the process of spiritual multiplication.

Herb Hodges asks a probing and disturbing question: "Since the Greek word translated "disciple" (the word mathetes) gives us the root word for our word "mathematics," and since God's strategy is a mathematical strategy, could it be that the Christian's Final Exam will be a math test? And the one question will concern multiplication of disciples? What can one expect if they have not a single disciple to show for their entire Christian experience?

Begin now to ask God for a Timothy that you can disciple. When God gives you a personal Timothy, begin to spend time with him. Pray for him. Develop ambitions for him. Take him with you on your ministry assignments. Teach him what you know. Find opportunities for him to develop his ministry gifts. Be aware that there is a price to pay in handing over ministries to younger assistants. They will not, at first, do the same high-quality work as the leader. However, you must remember your own mistakes and failures as you were starting out. But mistakes and failures are "the back door to success." One day, you will stand before Jesus, and you will be glad then for all the investments you made in your Timothy.