Previous | Next

April 1973 · Vol. 2 No. 2 · pp. 63–64 

Book Review

Guard the Gospel: The Message of II Timothy

John R. W. Stott. London, UK: InterVarsity, 1973. 127 pages.

Reviewed by John Regehr

The book is one of a projected series of New Testament expositions entitled The Bible Speaks Today. This series is to be characterized by a three-fold ideal: to expound the biblical text with accuracy, to relate it to contemporary life, and to be readable. John Stott achieves all of these ideals in this commentary.

The tone is warm and firm. The style is sermonic, and is readable even for those who are not versed in the original language or in theological disciplines. Stott has a conversational way of speaking about Greek words. Even the uninitiated will find it a stimulating and deeply spiritual learning experience.

Everywhere there is evidence for Stott’s reverence for the Scriptures. “Do we hope, either in our own lives or in our teaching ministry, to overcome error and grow in truth, to overcome evil and grow in hope? Then it is to Scripture that we must primarily turn, for Scripture is ‘profitable’ for these things.” (p.103)

At the same time the author evidences a deep understanding for both Paul and Timothy. Both the apostle and his spiritual son appear as real-life men. They are men of flesh and blood; Paul, lonely in prison, and Timothy, fearful of the tremendous responsibility for the preservation of the gospel in the light of the death of Paul and the hostility of Nero.

Stott sees the second letter of Paul to Timothy as a message for our time. The times in which the letter was written are not unlike our own. “Looking back over this chapter (chapter 3) as a whole, we can appreciate the relevance of its message to our pluralist and permissive society. The ‘times of stress’ in which we seem to be living are very distressing. Sometimes one wonders if the world and the church have gone mad, so strange are their views, and so lax their standards.” Stott seems not to be troubled with the problem of bridging the centuries. The word of God is a word directed immediately to us. “Now these three truths—the appearance, the judgment and the kingdom—should be as clear and certain an expectation to us as they were to Paul and Timothy.”

Stott has a way of grasping the heart of the letter. He finds in each of the four chapters a single thrust, all having immediate reference to the gospel: Guard it, because it is a priceless treasure; suffer for it, because it is a stumbling-block to the proud; continue in it, because it is the truth of God; proclaim it, because it is good news of salvation. The summary paragraphs both at the outset and the conclusion of major sections are extremely helpful.

As a result of my reading of the commentary, I have decided to use II Timothy as the base for some preaching assignments. To the older {64} members of our church I want to preach a sermon on the necessity for preparing successors. For a series of three sermons at a youth retreat (and within the context of the present day sentiment of doing one’s own thing in isolation from others and in disregard of one’s history and heritage) I would like to develop the theme “On becoming a successor.”

John Regehr
Mennonite Brethren Bible College, Winnipeg, Manitoba

Previous | Next