Thursday, December 8

Called According to Paul, 2 Timothy 1:9

An explanation of this series of posts can be found here. You'll find the previous three posts in the series here, here and here.

Next up, let's look at Paul's use of the word called in 2 Timothy 1:9:
... God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began.... (ESV)

Some scholars think this verse and the one following are part of an early Christian hymn. The language and thought are not different from what Paul writes elsewhere, however, so if it's a hymn, maybe it's one that Paul wrote. If it is a hymn, and he included it in his writing, then at the very least he would have approved of what is written in it.

Here's what I notice about the call in this verse:

  • Once again it is closely associated with salvation. (See the previous posts in this series on 1 Corinthians 1 and 1 Corinthian 7.)

  • The call is to something--to a holy calling. Here again is the idea of appointment or assignment. (See the two posts linked above for other appointment uses.) Those who are called or saved are not only called from a life of sin, but to a life of holiness.

  • Here, as in 1 Corinthians 1, the call is based in God's will or purpose or choice.

  • It is also based in God's grace. Because God is gracious, he wills or chooses to call those whom he calls. This goes right along with the statement that the call does not come to us because of (or based on) our works. Grace (at least in the way Paul uses the word) stands over against human works. If something comes to us based on our works, then it cannot come as a result of God's grace.

  • This grace from which God's call comes is given before the beginning of time. God's call, then, originates in God's precreation plan. The gracious choice to call was made "before the ages began."

  • Even though the gracious choice to call was made before time, it is nonetheless grounded in the temporal saving work of Christ. It is because Christ appeared in time (v. 10) to be publicly displayed on the cross (Romans 3:25) that God's gracious choice to call could be made in eternity past.

    As always, these posts are a work in progress, so I welcome additional observations or corrections. What does your magnifying glass detect?
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