And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.
What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you – guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us. (verses 11-14)
There are two words that are used twice in this short passage. One is a verb, the other a noun. The first time they are used, it is in reference to God. The second time, it is in reference to Timothy.
Here’s the verb: “Guard.” Here’s the noun: “a deposit (given into faithful keeping).”
In your mind’s eye imagine an ancient chest filled with treasure so precious the value can’t be calculated. To keep it safe, it’s protected in a barred vault with round the clock guards, alert and vigilant, ready to thwart any possible thieving attack.
Paul first uses this combination of words in reference to God himself guarding the treasure that Paul has entrusted into his hands. Although Paul is in prison for the sake of the Gospel, he says he’s not at all ashamed, because he knows the one he has believed in is fully capable to preserve and protect.
What deposit has Paul entrusted to the Lord? Likely he’s thinking of his own life, together with his ongoing commitment to Christ and the ministry of the gospel. Although Paul himself is in a prison cell, beyond his own ability to control his future, yet he’s kept safe. He’s received grace. Death has been destroyed. Life and immortality have been brought to light through the gospel (verses 9-10). And Paul has full confidence that God is fully able to watch over him – to safeguard and defend.
It's exactly what Paul then urges Timothy to do in regard to the gospel. Paul, who had been “appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher,” has provided a solid example for Timothy of sound teaching, faithfully declaring the salvation that is in Christ. Keep that pattern which you saw in me, Paul says.
He then employs these same two words once again – the very words he’d used in reference to God – now applying them to Timothy in his handling of the gospel message. This time round it’s the gospel itself which is the “deposit” – the “good deposit” – “given into faithful keeping” in Timothy’s own hands. “Guard” it, Paul says. Understand how precious its truth is. Understand that it brings life and light. Watch over it carefully so that it is never damaged – never distorted, as the false teachers have been doing.
Timothy, “guard” the gospel!
Since this is the very activity of God himself, it is natural for Paul to immediately add: “guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.” Of course. The “deposit” is too valuable and the command (“guard”) too weighty for Timothy to simply do it in his own strength. Of course. It is only through the Spirit’s power that this good work can truly be accomplished.
So, too, for us. This same “deposit” has been entrusted into our own hands for faithful keeping – the treasure of the gospel of Jesus Christ himself. “Guard” it. Hold to it firmly. Don’t allow it to be diminished or distorted or damaged. But protect it “with faith and love in Christ Jesus” – do it “with the help of the Holy Spirit” living within you.
Embrace it with grace.
Lord God, by the power of your Holy Spirit, help me to cling closely to the gospel of Christ, living it truly and sharing it faithfully. For Jesus’ name sake.
Reflect: At what points in your own living and thinking do you need to be most vigilant in guarding the gospel? Ask the Lord for insight. Ask him for strength.