Everyone remembers the last words of a loved one. In 2 Timothy, Paul gives his last words concerning the gospel to young pastor Timothy. No doubt that these words were lodged in Timothy’s mind. As Paul nears the end of his life, chained as a common criminal in a Roman dungeon, he pens his final instructions for this pastor to carry on the legacy of gospel advancement. How would this gospel message advance beyond Asia and Europe? How would Paul ensure that the message not be broken? Really it’s quite simple. Timothy was charged with multiplying himself in others.
Over the last several months, I have discussed key components to Great Commission faithfulness. In short, these components are: empowering through prayer, evangelizing the unreached, establishing churches, and encouraging leaders and congregations. The last aspect for gospel faithfulness is equipping leaders. While Paul traveled across Asia and Europe spreading the gospel, he understood the importance of multiplication for this message to continue long after his death.
Paul, therefore, said, “The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Tim 2:2). Paul poured his life into the lives of others (like Timothy) in order that they would pour their lives into the lives of others. This understanding comes from Jesus’ own pattern for disciple-making. Yes, Jesus taught the masses, but he poured his life into a few. Paul did the same.
In fact, Acts describes for us how Paul would plant churches and equip leaders everywhere he went (Acts 14). Equipping leaders in the word is foundational for the message of Christ to be multiplied. However, essential in this equipping is the understanding that “teaching others to observe all that Christ commanded” is not simply for leaders. Leaders are equipped to equip, so that the equipped might also become equippers. This is multiplication, not addition. Addition is leaving all the equipping up to the leaders, but multiplication is equipping every Jesus follower to be an equipper. This understanding is the heart of 2 Timothy 2:2 and the impetus of Paul’s ministry.
Each church must wrestle with the call to equip leaders for Great Commission impact. We are called to make disciples of all nations. Yes, equip our own church members, but also be part of making disciples in places where disciples are needed. Part of each church’s strategy for Great Commission impact should be a plan to equip leaders who can then equip members for gospel impact. The Great Commission will continue to multiply as we equip others to be equippers, both at home and abroad.