(2 Timothy 2:2 [ESV2011]) and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.
In today’s passage, Apostle Paul speaks about transmitting the Word of God through 3 different stages or generations of people:
(1) Those “who have heard from me”
(2) “Faithful men” to whom the Word can be entrusted
(3) “who will be able to teach others”
According to the original language in Greek, the word used is πιστός (pistos) = faithful, reliable, and trustworthy. From the same word, the verb that is derived is: πείθομαι (peithomai) or πείθω (peitho) = to convince, persuade, obey and believe.
This term “faithfulness” means the one who is reliable. Apostle Paul in this passage is looking for the one whom God can rely on and trust. The one who is reliable, responsible to receive and understand the Word, obey the Word, believe in the Word in their lives and deliver it.
Faithfulness in the Chinese characters is 忠誠:
誠 = fulfil + Word
忠 = centre + heart
Put together, it derives the meaning of fulfilling the Word in and from the centre of one’s heart.
1. Importance of “faithfulness” in the Bible
(1) Jesus who came to us and will return is called the Faithful and True Witness.
He is the fulfiller of the Covenant, and He is faithful even when we forget and rebel. His name is faithful. To be faithful means taking on the attribute and the name of Jesus.
(Revelation 3:14 [ESV2011]) “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation.
(2) Faithful are God’s workers who do not forsake faith, even in times of tribulation, persecution and hardship.
The church in Revelation kept faith even when they are living where satan dwells. Keeping faith even when the world is against us. These are the faithful ones.
(Revelation 2:13 [ESV2011]) “‘I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. Yet you hold fast my name, and you did not deny my faith even in the days of Antipas my faithful witness, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells.
(3) Faithfulness is a trait the saints of the end time will need in order to endure and to gain victory in the end.
Revelation 2:10 speaks of not losing faith even for a moment and even to death.
(Revelation 2:10 [ESV2011]) Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.
2. What is being “faithful”?
(Hebrews 3:5-6 [ESV2011]) Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, but Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son. And we are his house if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.
(1) Be faithful in all God’s house as a servant like Moses
(Numbers 12:7 [ESV2011]) Not so with my servant Moses. He is faithful in all my house.
With a servant mind even though he did not see the future or understood God’s entire plan, Moses still followed the Lord’s instruction. He put God’s thoughts first because he knew he was a servant; a messenger and an agent that delivered what God instructed and that fulfilled what God told him to do. Apostle Paul called himself a bondservant meaning one who has chosen to be bound by Jesus.
(2) Be faithful as a son over God’s house, like Christ Jesus
(Hebrews 3:2 [ESV2011]) who was faithful to him who appointed him, just as Moses also was faithful in all God’s house.
Being a son of the house means that he is the heir, he will become the owner and master of that house later. A faithful son needs to understand the purpose of the Father, his intent and ways of taking care of the house. A servant will do what he is told to do. But the son needs to have the ownership. The son will still work even if there is no income because it’s his house.
(John 6:38-40 [ESV2011]) For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
Jesus was very faithful to the Father. Especially in the gospel of John, Jesus testifies of and talks about the Father 21 times from chapters 5 to 7. From Chapters 8 to 10, Jesus mentioned the Father another 21 times. He speaks of the Father with so much honour and He was so careful to do what Father told him and showed him to do.
The common thing about both kinds of faithfulness, Moses and Jesus, Servant and Son – they were both faithful over God’s House.
(Matthew 6:33 [ESV2011]) But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
(Hebrews 3:6 [ESV2011]) but Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son. And we are his house if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.
We are His House as Apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 3:16, 6:19 we are the house of God, the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit. We are the House of God if we hold onto that covenant of God; the Word of God. We are called to be workers and servants of God’s household. Furthermore, He has adopted us, and we are now His sons and daughters. This is the greatest house, the only house that will remain in the end.
Faithfulness doesn’t come from ourselves. As human beings, we can change. But this faithfulness is given unto us by Christ Jesus. When we come to realise who we are as God created us when we come to realise whose sons and daughters we are, whose people we are, whose house we are working and living in, that’s what allows us to overcome darkness and have hope. And that hope, that vision, and that purpose will allow us to be faithful.
3. The faithfulness that Jesus seeks in the end time
Matthew 21:33-43 speaks the parable about the landowner who planted the vineyard and rented it out to the farmers. The parable teaches us that God is seeking for faithfulness from the vine-growers who were put in charge of the garden. Adam was put in charge of the garden. The Pharisees, the religious leaders during the time of Jesus were put in charge of the house of Israel. But He is seeking for the faithful ones who will take care and cause the vine to bear fruit. And one who, when the master seeks for it, will give that fruit to Him.
Faithfulness is closely related to receiving the Word and proclaiming the Word. In this end-time God is looking for those who will bear fruit and give glory to the Lord. What is the most important thing we are called to do if we believe the end is near? Seek first His Kingdom and continue to dwell in the house of God (Matthew 6:33, Psalm 84:4).
The Bible tells us that God is faithful also, which means that you can trust Him, you can rely on Him.
(1 Corinthians 10:13 [ESV2011]) No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
In the end-time God is the one who will protect us, who will keep us and allow us to gain victory over tribulation and persecution. Even when we turn our backs against Him, He still waits. That’s how faithful He is. Even when we are like Gomer, the prostitute that God tells prophet Hosea to marry. She keeps on running away and going back to her bad habits. God says to Israel, you are like that, but God continues to come and propose to them.
Jesus went through that humiliation on the cross. Where were the disciples when Jesus was on the cross? They all ran away except John at the bottom of the cross. But Jesus saw that the disciples would return and that they would repent. Jesus saw in the future they would become great evangelists., that’s why Jesus suffered. That’s how faithful He is. Like the Father of the prodigal son. This is the longsuffering of God. Why did He go through that? Because He truly is the faithful one.
Who is the one that even through suffering will be faithful, that will bear fruit of this Word, deliver this Word, proclaim this word and give glory back to our Father? I pray that you and I will be the ones.