Healing of the Ten Lepers, Jesus Mafa, 1973
from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN.
Original source: http://www.librairie-emmanuel.fr.
(About this Image)
Jesus said in reply,
“Ten were cleansed, were they not?
Where are the other nine?
Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?”
Then he said to him, “Stand up and go;
your faith has saved you.”
Fr. Smith’s Commentary on the Second Reading
Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
2 Timothy 2:8–13
October 9, 2022
Last week we began examining the second letter of Paul to St Timothy
and I suggested that we read it as an epistolary novel. That is a novel
written in the form of a letter or letters. We will assume that the
author knew both Paul and Timothy as would many of those who read the
letter. The people are most likely real, and the situations would be
authentic. We will once more for convenience refer to the author as
The instructions that Paul gave to Timothy on building the church are
less directed to its administrative structure than the attitudes and
virtues needed to lead a church. This week he will emphasize that no
matter who becomes Christian, the gospel requires a lively recognition
that Jesus was a Jew and that following him will not be easy.
Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead,
a descendant of David:
such is my gospel for which I am suffering,
even to the point of chains, like a criminal.
But the word of God is not chained.
(2 Ti 2:8–9)
“Remember” does not mean simply a passive “don’t forget” but to
actively put in the very center of our thinking. Remembering that Jesus
is raised from the dead means that this reality must be part of
everything we examine. We must remember this when we ask how we are to
live, what can we expect in the afterlife, how shall we worship. We must
not forget as well that this sentence has two parts. We must also
remember that Jesus is a descendant of David. Jesus is a Jew, and we can
only understand him and his mission when we see it from a Jewish
This is a constant theme in Paul’s writings.
This is the gospel concerning his Son,
who was descended from David
according to the flesh
and was declared to be Son of God with power
according to the spirit of holiness
by resurrection from the dead,
Jesus Christ our Lord
It is because of this for which he is suffering, He is in jail under
some form of house arrest but not for what we would call crime. His
belief that Jesus is the LORD has made him a criminal in the eyes of
both Jew and Roman but not in his or the LORD’s. He is telling Timothy
that he too should expect to suffer for the Gospel, but the LORD will
ultimately conquer. God’s law is greater than man’s law. The word of
God, the truth of the Gospel can never be chained and will always be
Therefore, I bear with everything
for the sake of those who are chosen,
so that they too may obtain the salvation
that is in Christ Jesus,
together with eternal glory.
(2 Ti 2:10)
The Christian leader suffers not for the truth as an abstract good
but for the community, the Church, “Those who are chosen.” For Paul, the
good Jew, the root of salvation was to be ransomed, bought back by
Jesus. This is open to many interpretations but makes clear that Jesus
is personally involved in our relationship with God. The fruit of this
is eternal glory, life forever with the Lord.
The next section should be seen as a song. One perhaps sung after
Baptism. To emphasize its importance, he begins with
This saying is trustworthy:
(2 Tim 2:11)
It is Paul’s way of saying “Amen, Amen, I say to you” or more simply
“pay attention this is important.
If we have died with him
we shall also live with him
(2 Tim 2:12)
If not written by St Paul, it nonetheless reflects his thought
For if we have been united with him
in a death like his,
we will certainly be united with him
in a resurrection like his.
Baptism is dyinng to the world but also receiving eternal life. Yet
as Paul remarks so often it is not easy and requires the virtue of
if we persevere
we shall also reign with him.
(2 Tim 2:13)
As we are joined with Jesus, we reign with him.
Yet Paul is aware that this is difficult, and many will not
persevere. Timothy and others in church leadership are called to
strengthen the flock but they will not succeed every time. Here again it
is important to remember the history of the Jews. The LORD made a
covenant with his people to which he was always faithful but which the
people were not.
Know therefore that the Lord your God is God,
the faithful God who maintains covenant loyalty
with those who love him and keep his commandments,
to a thousand generations,
The LORD may always be faithful, but he does not give even his chosen
a free ride. Indeed, as he has chosen them for the purpose of being his
representatives in the world, he will constantly challenge them to
fulfill their mission. This is a constant tension throughout Jewish
history and a pastoral problem for Timothy and indeed for us as revealed
in the last lines of our passage:
But if we deny him
he will deny us.
If we are unfaithful
he remains faithful,
for he cannot deny himself
(2 Ti 2:12–13)
Deny means more than sin in general. It is failing to acknowledge a
previous relationship. We see that most famously with St. Peter denying
Jesus at his trial. (Mattew 26:69–75)
It is also found in this letter. Concerning the false teachers Paul
holding to the outward form of godliness
but denying its power
(2 Ti 3:5)
This does not mean that the LORD has denied his covenant. As the
entire Old Testament reveals, he never does. Forgiveness and mercy are
part of his very being. He is always ready, willing and able to take us
back. But he has given us free will and he will respect it.
The mission of a Christian leader is to develop the desire for
freedom and show in his or her life what it looks like. Writing
2nd Timothy as an epistolary novel allows the author to show
that Paul had a relationship with Timothy and how it brought the best
out of him. As we read it today, we should be encouraged to look in our
own lives to find the Pauls who show us in their flesh the working of
the spirit and to ask Jesus for the grace to be another Paul for another