LAYING HOLD ON ETERNAL LIFE
In verse 12 Paul also says, “Lay hold on the eternal life to which you were called and have confessed the good confession before many witnesses.” The eternal life here is the divine life, the uncreated life of God, which is eternal. Eternal denotes the nature more than the time element of the divine life. To fight the good fight of the faith in the Christian life, especially in the Christian ministry, we need to lay hold on this divine life and not trust in our human life. Hence, in 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus, the eternal life is stressed again and again (1 Tim. 1:16; 6:19; 2 Tim. 1:1, 10; Titus 1:2; 3:7). To bring forth God’s dispensation concerning the church in 1 Timothy, to confront the process of the church’s decline in 2 Timothy, and to maintain good order in the church life in Titus, this life is a prerequisite.
We have been called to the eternal life of God. We were born of the human natural life, but we were reborn of the divine eternal life when we were called by God in Christ.
The words “confessed the good confession before many witnesses” may refer to Timothy’s confession of the faith at his baptism. At that time Timothy probably confessed a good confession of the eternal life before many witnesses, as we all should do, believing and being assured that he had received the life of God.
Verses 11 and 12 are a marvelous summary of nearly the whole New Testament. A man of God should pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and meekness; he should fight for God’s New Testament economy and lay hold on eternal life. All these matters are essential aspects of the New Testament. In contrast, the beasts in Revelation 13 and the lake of fire in Revelation 20 cannot compare with these essential aspects. We today must fight the good fight of the faith. This means that we must fight for Christ as the embodiment of God and for the church as the Body of Christ. Furthermore, we must not merely fight objectively, but fight subjectively by laying hold on eternal life. We should not do anything apart from this life. We should speak to our husband or wife and to our children not by the natural life, but by the eternal life. Even in the matter of buying a pair of shoes, we should live according to the eternal life to which we have been called. As today’s Timothys, we need to lay hold on eternal life.
In verse 12 Paul specifically says that we have been called to eternal life. No other book in the New Testament speaks of “the eternal life to which you were called.” This is a particular characteristic of 1 Timothy. Do you realize that you have been called to eternal life? This eternal life does not mainly refer to blessings in the future. To be called to eternal life does not mean that we have been called to enjoy blessings in heaven. Eternal life should be our life today, a life for our present daily living. By our first birth, the physical birth, we received the Adamic life. But because we have been called to eternal life, we should no longer live the Adamic life, the natural life. Yes, we must be truly human, even Jesusly human, but not in our natural life. On the contrary, we need to live a human life by the eternal life. We have been called to this life, and now we need to live it.
I am deeply burdened concerning this matter of being called to the eternal life. I am especially concerned for those dear saints who have been distracted from the eternal life to which we have been called and who have become preoccupied with other things. We have been called uniquely to eternal life. This life, the divine life, is actually the Triune God Himself. Having been called to eternal life, we now should lay hold on this life, live this life, and have our whole being according to this life.
(Life-Study of 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus and Philemon, Chapter 12, by Witness Lee)