After the Russian Revolution of 1917, the Bolshevik party’s aim was to impose atheism on the country. Party leader Nikolai Bukharin was sent to Kiev to speak to a huge crowd, presenting argument after argument for atheism. At the end of his speech Bukharin turned to a local leader to dismiss the crowd. This local leader happened to be the parish priest who concluded by saying, “Christ is Risen!” And with one voice, the crowd thundered back, “He is Risen Indeed!”
In the face of a hostile government outside the church and false teachers inside, Paul exhorts Timothy to “[r]emember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David” (v. 8). In the Old Testament, God had promised to raise up a descendant from David, son of Jesse, who would reign forever (Isa. 11:1–2). Paul encouraged Timothy to remember that God had kept His promise in Jesus, whom He vindicated by raising Him from the dead. Timothy had grounds for hope even in the face of suffering.
Paul rejoiced that even though he was in chains for preaching the gospel, “God’s word is not chained” (v. 9). The gospel can prosper and flourish even when its messengers are persecuted. Ironically, at times that persecution opens new avenues for the gospel to penetrate. In his letter to the Philippians, Paul rejoiced because his imprisonment had “served to advance the gospel” (Phil. 1:12). Paul concludes by reciting part of a baptismal hymn, celebrating our union with Christ in His death and resurrection (v. 11). Our union with Christ means that we might suffer as He did. However, through Him, we can be certain of a future resurrection. We can persevere in the faith, knowing that God will be faithful in all things (v. 13).
>> Paul’s command to “[r]emember Jesus Christ” applies to you and me as well (v. 8). Every day we are immersed in a culture that assumes this life is all there is and that our faith in Christ is irrelevant. During difficult times, we must remember Jesus Christ!