This is, I think, one of the earliest volumes in the Bible Speaks Today series, originally published in 1973 by John Stott as a standalone exposition of 2 Timothy, entitled Guard the Gospel. Stott sums up the overall message as a call to “guard the gospel, suffer for the gospel, continue in the gospel, and proclaim the gospel”.
The introduction includes a brief survey of the debate over authorship, in which he makes many of the same points made in the intro to The Message of 1 Timothy and Titus. With over 100 pages of commentary devoted to the four chapters of 2 Timothy, he is able to take his time, discuss the meaning of each phrase, and, as always, draw out plenty of practical and devotional insights from the text.
He warns against the temptation to alter the substance of the gospel message, a call that is no less relevant almost 40 years after the first edition was published. He shows how faithfulness to the gospel involves more than just not modifying it, but we are also to live holy lives in accordance with it, demonstrating both purity of doctrine and purity of life. And we are not to hide away while doing so, but we are to proclaim the gospel, which will sooner or later involve us suffering for the gospel.
You can escape persecution by withdrawal from the world, or by assimilation to it. It is only for those who are both in the world and in Christ simultaneously that persecution becomes inevitable.
At the risk of regular readers of this blog finding the conclusions to these reviews predictable and repetitive, I have to say yet again that I highly recommend this for anyone wanting to study 2 Timothy or preparing to teach on it. Stott doesn’t just write with insight, but also with integrity, as his own lifelong passion has been to guard, to live and proclaim the gospel.