In Paul’s last moments, he wrote a final note of encouragement to his son in the faith, Timothy. His letter details what you might expect—that which matters most.
To Paul, the gospel mattered more than anything, even life itself. His final words to Timothy are captured eloquently in “be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus” and “remember Jesus Christ” (2 Tim. 2:1, 8). The gospel was the beginning and end of all that mattered in life. It brought Paul to salvation, carried him in ministry, and would finally bring him home to heaven. It is no surprise then that he would write these words to the church of Corinth:
“Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:1-3).
In 2 Timothy, there are six descriptions of the gospel that provide good insight about Paul’s view of the gospel as a whole.1
The Gospel is Christological
The gospel is inseparable from Jesus. It is all about the person and work of Christ. Without Him, there is no gospel. He is the foundation, the building block, and the crown of this glorious truth. Jesus is the beginning and the end of the gospel, and therefore it is Christological. Paul says, “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel” (2 Tim. 2:8).
The Gospel is Biblical
The gospel is discovered in the Holy Scriptures, not some unknown tablets mysteriously found in the woods. It was not delivered by a man floating in India or designed by some scientist in America. It is grounded in the divinely inspired Word of God—it is biblical. Paul says, “from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” because “all Scripture is breathed out by God” (2 Tim. 3:15-16).
The Gospel is Historical
Jesus was a real man who entered human history. He was seen, touched, and heard. He really existed and walked the earth. Jesus lived, died on the cross, and rose to life three days later. He is not an unverifiable legend. He was really here and history attests to it, so the gospel is historical. Paul says God’s purpose and grace “has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Tim. 1:9-10).
The Gospel is Doctrinal
The gospel can be systematized and taught to others. It can be learned and studied. It is available for the studying eye and the researching mind. It is knowable and explainable. The gospel communicates the sovereign grace of God (2 Tim. 1:9), the promise of life (2 Tim. 1:1), Jesus’ victory over death (2 Tim. 1:10), election (2 Tim. 2:10), repentance (2 Tim. 2:25), glorification (2 Tim. 2:10), and more. Paul says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
The Gospel is Personal
The gospel is intended to be received into one’s life. We are to believe it personally by faith, making it our own. We are to treasure it and live by it, give it and guard it. We abide in the gospel, and it abides in us. Paul says, “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well” (2 Tim. 1:5).
The Gospel is Practical
If the Christian life is fighting the good fight of faith (2 Tim. 4:7), and the good fight is the war we wage to keep the gospel most important in our life, then nothing is more practical than the gospel. When we read, study, and meditate on the gospel, we are at that moment doing the most practical thing we can do. Paul says, “For this reason [that you have the gospel dwelling in you] I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God” (2 Tim. 1:6).
Now that the gospel is more clearly described, ask yourself if you know it, have it, and abide in it. Is the gospel “of first importance” to you? If not, it should be.
- Adapted from Exalting Jesus in 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus (Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary) by David Platt, Daniel L. Akin, and Tony Merida, Holman Reference.