When Paul says the word of God is not bound, what does he mean? Can the word work and spread apart from workers willing to suffer for it? In this lab, John Piper talks about the power of the gospel and the power of suffering to spread and confirm the gospel.
Principle for Bible Reading
An inference (often marked by the word “Therefore”) is a statement following an argument or reason for that statement (supporting proposition precedes the inference). When you come to a “Therefore” in a passage, ask what the “Therefore” is there for. In what way is that word linking these two statements?
- Explain in your own words what way the word of God “is not bound” in 2 Timothy 2:9.
- Explain the “that” (or “in order that”) in the middle of 2 Timothy 2:10. Paul endured (suffered) for a purpose. What was it?
- Now, in light of your answers to the first two questions, explain the “Therefore” at the beginning of 2 Timothy 2:10. How does what comes before the “Therefore” explain or ground what comes before?
The Word of God Is Not Bound (02:38–08:03)
- What does it mean that the word of God “is not bound”? (2 Timothy 2:9)
- It might mean that the word runs triumphantly in spite of Paul’s suffering.
- That is certainly true, but it is not the point or emphasis of this text because of the “that” in 2 Timothy 2:10. The “that” means Paul suffers in order that people will be saved.
- The alternative meaning, therefore, is that the word of God runs triumphantly because Paul suffers to bring the word and because his suffering confirms the truth and worth of the gospel. (2 Timothy 2:9)
- Paul says the same thing in Philippians 1:12–14. Paul’s imprisonment gave the brothers confidence.
Summary for Missions (08:03–09:16)
When we see that the word of God is not bound, we should not think that the word can do its work without a suffering agent (or messenger). We should never think that the word is so free that it can jump over oceans without someone carrying it and suffering for its sake.