What does Paul call a “good” spiritual apprentice?

2 Timothy 3:10-13 (MSG)

You’ve been a good apprentice to me, a part of my teaching, my manner of life, direction, faith, steadiness, love, patience, troubles, sufferings—suffering along with me in all the grief I had to put up with in Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra. And you also well know that God rescued me! Anyone who wants to live all out for Christ is in for a lot of trouble; there’s no getting around it. Unscrupulous con men will continue to exploit the faith. They’re as deceived as the people they lead astray. As long as they are out there, things can only get worse.

1. If there is such thing as a good apprentice there must be such thing as bad one.

A good apprentice is one who submits and comes under their father’s (or pastor/apostle/leader) teaching, following their conduct (behaviour), their aim in life (direction), their example of love & steadfastness (fruit) as well as stick by then in and through trials and persecution.

Notice though that Paul does not praise Timothy for submitting to and following the example of Christ, but rather, his own example! Isn’t that curious? Beware any person, especially if they call themselves a leader, that is not following or submitted to another leader or pastor (a spiritual father). They say, ‘oh I follow Jesus’ – sounds cute, but it’s pure rebellion and it’s a spirit of independence which does not foster or promote unity in and among a local church body. These people talk about themselves as being ‘kingdom’ minded – really, all that means is they are homeless (not connected to a local church) and rebellious (not submitted to a local shepherd)

2. Either you are an apprentice or an Apostle.

If you are bit an apostle yet, you’re an apprentice. If we can see ourselves as unfinished works, still being shaped, moulded, styled and fine tuned, we will willfully and fruitfully submit to the ‘apostles’ God brings us under (as long as their example points us to Christ). Apprentice does not mean slave, it just means ‘still learning’ and ‘in training’. Timothy was estimated to be around 30 years old at this point. When you see yourself as an apprentice, this mindset will crush the proud and arrogant tendencies that reside in your old nature and replace them with humility, patience and pure hearted servitude. It’s for this reason that God calls us to be an apprentice, to not only develop our gifts, but our character. Gifts are good, fruit is better.