There are a number of koine greek New Testament scholars that are convinced Paul wrote these words to Timothy as a type of memory verse, which could be recited in meter and maybe even fit in a tune. Some linguists think the verse is truly a song, some consider it simply Paul’s attempt at writing greek prose. Whatever the case, there are six facts, which Paul states are in direct relation to why the church of the living God is a place that should affect our behavior in godliness (KJV) and/or worship (ISV). It is not a coincidence that there are songs in our hymn books that fit with the theme of each of these six “mysteries”.
- He was manifested in the flesh – Christmas songs
- Justified in the Spirit – Resurrection songs
- Seen of angels – Songs about his temptation, gethsemane prayer and ascension.
- Preached among nations – Evangelistic songs
- Believed on in the world – Christian songs of various cultures
- Received up in glory – Songs about Heaven/Glory
Have you got a song from making melody to the Lord in your heart?
One description of early Christian behavior comes from Pliny, the governor of Bithynia and client of the Roman emperor Trajan. After hearing suspicious reports about the practices and meetings of Christians, he made an inquiry and found that they “were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang in alternate verses a hymn to Christ, as to a god” (Letter 10.96). Pliny’s statement harmonizes with God’s word, “sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody in your hearts to the Lord” (Eph 5:19; see also 1Cor. 14:26, Acts 16:25). So since this is the case, where are the hymns in the New Testament? How can they be found? Most biblical scholars use the method of form criticism—looking for clues that suggest a biblical passage that had an earlier use other than its current literary location—to locate hymns that have found their way into New Testament texts. These include: parallel statements, vocabulary that is distinctive to the author, the frequent use of pronouns, and elevated prose. Using this critical criteria, we can likely conclude that such passages as Phil 2:5-11, Col 1:15-20, 1Tim 3:16, 2Tim 2:11-13, Heb 1:1-3, and 1Pet 2:21-25 may very well have had earlier literary lives as actual hymns sung by early Christians.
The theme of 2Tim. 2:11-13 is almost like a battle-cry, and we are very familiar with how songs affect soldiers, here is Rick Renners version of it,
If we are killed like He was killed,
Then we shall live again as He now lives;
If suffering is forced upon us,
Then we’ll reign with Him like nobility;
If we deny or forsake Him,
He will deny us of our rewards;
If we believe not or grow faint-hearted,
Still He abideth faithful.
He cannot, cannot, cannot deny — Himself!
Can you sing with confidence like you are committed to staying in the fight until the victory is yours and the long-awaited prize is finally in your hands?