Prenatal care for pregnant women can have a beneficial effect on their children’s future educational achievements. Researchers found that children whose mothers were given iron and folic acid supplements during pregnancy “were smarter, more organized, and had better fine motor skills than children whose mothers did not get them.” Iron deficiency, affecting two billion people, is the most common nutritional problem in the world.
Both physical and spiritual nutrition are important in children’s lives. In today’s reading, Paul encouraged Timothy by reminding him of his godly family heritage (v. 5). He was originally from Lystra, in modern-day Turkey. His father was Greek and his mother was a Jewish Christian (Acts 16:1). In fact, his grandmother was also a Christian, making Timothy a third-generation believer. He likewise had a strong heritage in ministry as a member of Paul’s team. His commissioning was like a spark that needed to be fanned into flame—that is, his gift of preaching and teaching needed practice and growth (v. 6; 1 Tim. 4:14).
In this, Timothy could follow the example of his mentor (vv. 7–14). The Holy Spirit had called them both to a bold ministry characterized by “power, love and self-discipline.” There’s no shame in “suffering for the gospel,” as persecution is only to be expected. It may be that the false teachers in Ephesus had been using Paul’s imprisonment to try to bring shame to his friends. The glorious gospel is not, however, deterred by opposition. The story of God’s choice, purpose, and grace in His plan of redemption continues on even if one “herald” is imprisoned. This “good deposit” of gospel witness and sound doctrine is what Timothy must guard with the help of the Holy Spirit. Paul had staked his life on this truth!