The Believer’s Judgment In 2 Timothy, Part 1 -- By: Gregory A. Couser
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The Believer’s Judgment In 2 Timothy, Part 1
Greg A. Couser is senior professor of New Testament and Greek, Cedarville University, Cedarville, Ohio.
Paul’s second letter to Timothy makes multiple references to the eschatological assize. This judgment plays a central role in motivating and shaping Timothy’s response to the Ephesian situation. In 2 Timothy, this judgment does more than confirm a person’s status as a believer. Paul expects to be recompensed by the Lord in a manner corresponding to his service. He looks forward to standing before God unashamed, having kept his charge (4:17). However, the exhortations to maximize faithfulness to Christ also leave space for standing before the judge with shame over not doing so.
Paul’s second letter to Timothy1 makes multiple references to the eschatological assize (1:12, 15–18; 2:11–13, 15; 4:1–5, 8, 14, 18). Its importance is accentuated by the frequency of Paul’s references to the event and by its central role in motivating and shaping Timothy’s response to the Ephesian situation. This emphasis suggests that the letter has the potential to offer insights into Paul’s understanding of the believer’s future judgment and thus the nature of Christian life in the present.
Under the rubric of Paul and perseverance, past treatments
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have touched on 2 Timothy,2 but none, as far as I am aware, have fully treated this topic in 2 Timothy. Primarily, though not in all cases, this is in deference to the critical consensus that puts 2 Timothy outside the Pauline corpus or at least in a separate category.3 The present articles set out prominent contemporary options for the significance of the believer’s judgment for Paul and then work through 2 Timothy to compare and contrast Paul’s extensive treatment of the topic here with those options. Part 1 introduces the debate and covers the first two passages; the second article will treat the rest and offer concluding thoughts.
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