Q: What is an overview of how Christians interpret 2 Timothy 1:6-7 and apply it to their own lives?
2 Timothy 1:6-7 NIV
For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which
is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7 For the Spirit God gave
us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and
As a Christian, I believe 2 Timothy 1:6-7 is a straightforward exhortation from Paul to Timothy. Paul had selected Timothy to travel with him years before the Books of 1 Timothy and 2 Timothy were written as we see in this passage from Acts:
Acts 16:1-3 NIV
Paul arrived in the city of Derbe and then went to Lystra, where a
disciple named Timothy lived. Timothy’s mother was a Jewish believer,
but his father was Greek. 2 The believers in Lystra and Iconium spoke
well of Timothy. 3 Paul wanted Timothy to go with him. So he
circumcised him because of the Jews who lived in those places and
because he knew that Timothy’s father was Greek.
Paul mentored Timothy in many ways and this passage (2 Timothy 1:6-7) is simply a continuation of Paul’s long-term encouragement. The passage has strong similarities to a portion of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount:
Matthew 5:15-16 NIV
Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they
put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16
In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see
your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
I believe Paul was encouraging Timothy to be bold in his preaching and teaching. Paul believed Timothy had been called to preach the Gospel so Paul wanted to make sure Timothy’s shyness and relative youthfulness did not cause him to stop. That is, to cover his light. Paul made this same message clear in:
1 Timothy 4:12-16 NIV
Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an
example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and
in purity. 13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of
Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. 14 Do not neglect your gift,
which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid
their hands on you. 15 Be diligent in these matters; give yourself
wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. 16 Watch your
life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you
will save both yourself and your hearers.
The gift Paul referenced was the Spirit of God calling Timothy to preach and to share the Gospel. Timothy received this gift in Paul's presence and Paul and other elders laid their hands on Timothy to demonstrate their acceptance of him and his gift. Paul wanted Timothy to keep preaching and teaching. Publicly acknowledging Jesus as His Lord would certainly 'fan the flames' of the Spirit of God Timothy had received.
I take the words of encouragment Paul wrote to Timothy as being written to me too. I don't want to be timid in my faith, but rather to have power, love, and self discipline also. My calling may be different from Timothy's, but I believe Paul's words apply to me too as I 'fan the flames' of the Spirit of God within me.