You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me.
2 Timothy 3:10-11
There are eight parts of life imitation for a disciple that Paul mentions in this commendation of Timothy. They are worth briefly overviewing and bear further examination. Discipleship starts with teaching. Doctrine plays the foundational role in the life of a believer. Sound teaching flows from the gospel and is the core of what we believe.
Teaching leads to Christian conduct. We believe a certain way and that leads us to live a certain way. This is practical, real-life sanctification. And that conduct is driven by a goal or aim in life. For Paul it was to be found in Christ. And that aim is more than philosophical. It is a kind of worship from the will.
One cannot do these things without faith. So what we trust in, with the gospel as the first principle of our trust, will direct our lives. That faith is lived over a lifetime which requires patience. It is done in and with love, which marks out our relationships, and it must be consistent, which shows itself in a steady record of steadfastness.
And all this is tested. For Paul, the persecutions and suffering came at every level: spiritual, mental, and physical. But the Lord delivered him each time. And for those who have an imitatable discipleship, persecutions will come. But God will be glorified and the gospel will advance!