Today we begin Paul’s 2nd letter to Timothy. It has been a few years since Paul assigned Timothy to Ephesus. Paul has been imprisoned in Rome for a second time. Only this time, his conditions are not as favorable. Whereas before he was merely under house arrest, this time he is in chains. Persecutions against Christians are growing and this time Paul seems to sense that he will not make it out of this alive.
There is an important thing to notice from the outset. Paul trained Timothy for years, he has written to him about this previously in one letter that we have and he likely had written other letters to him over the years that were not preserved. But notice what Paul takes the time to remind Timothy about:
6 Hence I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands.
Why would Paul remind Timothy of this yet again?
Paul is reminding Timothy about this because the gift Timothy has is not his own. It is not Timothy’s natural ability to be a bishop of the Church. The gift of authority to run the Church and preach the Gospel is a real tangible gift of the Holy Spirit that is conveyed from one Bishop to another. By the laying on of hand something was added to Timothy. t defines who Timothy and Paul are. No longer are they just men, but rather servants, appointed with authority to preach and teach. To what end? Paul continues:
For this gospel I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, and therefore I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am sure that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me. Follow the pattern of the sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus; guard the truth that has been entrusted to you by the Holy Spirit who dwells within us.
2 Timothy 1:11-14
We have already seen that the laying on of hands conveys the Holy Spirit in a special way. This is SO IMPORTANT to understand. The Holy Spirit comes to us in many and varied ways. Often times it is of his own accord, like when he moves you to accept the Gospel or see God’s glory or presence in everyday things. But the Holy Spirit also comes at specific times for specific purposes. Like at Baptism, when one is joined to the Body of Christ. Or like we saw in Acts 8 when the Apostles traveled to Samaria to lay hands on and Confirm the converts that had be recently baptized.
This is one of Jesus’ great gifts to us. The promise that God himself will come when called by someone with authority, at specific times, for specific purposes, to convey specific gifts.
Truth itself has been entrusted to these men.
Many people say and subjectively feel that they have the Holy Spirit in their lives and that is most probably true. I would not doubt their subjective reports. However, if someone truly desires a personal relationship with Jesus Christ then what of this – what about the laying on of hands? We see it through out the Old and the New Testament. We see it in Confirmation and in the conveying of authority to Bishops. How can you have a complete relationship with the Lord if you have not had the Holy Spirit called down upon you through the laying on of hands by those entrusted with the truth? What of you pastor? Who WITH AUTHORITY has laid hands on him to convey that authority like Paul did for Timothy? If authority has not been conveyed to them how do you know they teach the truth?
The Holy Spirit comes to us in various ways over the course of our lives. The laying on of hands is one of the most important ways. It is the step that conveys truth.