Friday, January 22, 2010

2 Timothy 1:1-7

V1-7 – 1Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, according to the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus, 2To Timothy, my dear son: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. 3I thank God, whom I serve, as my forefathers did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. 4Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy. 5I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also. 6For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.

Paul introduces himself in this final letter to Timothy as first and foremost “an apostle of Christ Jesus.” It’s the most important thing about his personal identity, not because he’s proud of having chosen that role. On the contrary, Paul did not choose to be Christ’s apostle to the Gentiles; rather, he was chosen, as he says, “by the will of God.” This choice was “according to the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus.” In other words, the apostle’s role is to proclaim the gospel of Christ, that all who are chosen would be given the promise of life by faith, which comes through hearing (Romans 10:17). As Paul says elsewhere, “since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know Him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe” (1 Corinthians 1:21).

In v2, Paul issues the same blessing he gave previously, referring to Timothy as his “dear son.” Timothy was certainly Paul’s spiritual son in the faith, as well as his protégé in ministry. The grace, mercy, and peace that are so crucial to the Christian life, come “God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.” The language is unmistakable in asserting the full Deity of Jesus Christ, by equating Him with the Father.

V3-5 serve as Paul’s typical thanksgiving section of his letter. All of his letters include such a section, except for Galatians, 1 Timothy, and Titus. He says a wealth about himself in v3, not only thanking God, but also declaring that he serves Him “with a clear conscience…constantly.” Paul says that his forefathers served God as well, revealing that Paul sees no difference between New Testament Christianity and Old Testament Christianity (Acts 24:14; 26:5-6; Romans 4; 2 Corinthians 11:22; Philippians 3:5).

Paul remembers, recalls, and is reminded several times in v3-6; it’s the same Greek word (mneia). First, Paul remembers Timothy in prayer thankfully. Next, he recalls Timothy’s tears in v4, noting that most likely, the last time they parted, Timothy cried. Undoubtedly, it was as Paul was imprisoned unto certain execution. Yet Paul holds out hope that he may see Timothy once more in order that he “may be filled with joy.” Third, Paul is reminded of Timothy’s sincere faith (literally “unhypocritical” or “pure,” as in 1 Timothy 1:5), which stemmed from his mother’s side of the family. Paul knows that Timothy, as well as his mother and grandmother, have continuing faith in Yahweh’s plan of redemption, which comes through Jesus. And finally, into v6, Paul reminds Timothy that he has been equipped for ministry. We’ll look at that more closely in the next section of the text.

In v6, Paul reminds Timothy “to fan into flame the gift of God.” Timothy has sincere and living faith (v5), and he is especially gifted for ministry, but it may be that Timothy wasn’t being as passionate or bold as he ought to have been; perhaps the fire was smoldering and needed to be rekindled. Along these same lines, it appears from v7 that Timothy was afraid – a coward – or shy at best. Thus, Paul reminds him that God did not give him “a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline.” We must also be reminded of this truth for our own lives (Romans 8:15).

The spirit Paul speaks of is not the Holy Spirit, per se, but the empowering of Timothy’s spirit by the Holy Spirit. In other words, the Holy Spirit has not helped Timothy to be timid, but to be powerful (bold and courageous), loving, and self-disciplined. And Calvin comments, “He speaks of this power as accompanied by love and self-discipline in order to distinguish the power of the Spirit from the intemperate zeal of fanatics, who rush in with reckless haste and boast that they have the Spirit of God. But the power of the Spirit, the powerful energy of the Spirit, is tempered by love and sobriety. It always has a calm concern for edification.” In other words, the power Timothy has been given is for love and self-discipline, something that the false teachers did not exhibit in claiming their own power.

Monday, January 18, 2010

1 Timothy 6:17-21

V17-21 – 17Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 19In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life. 20Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care. Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, 21which some have professed and in so doing have wandered from the faith. Grace be with you.

In wrapping up, Paul seems to go back and make sure that Timothy, as well as his congregation, understands that being wealthy is not a bad thing. Some commentators suggest that he is writing from here on out with his own pen, instead of through his amanuensis, which he commonly did in his epistles. He just finished noting that materialism and greed, or the love of money, are troublesome for the professing Christian; but a Christian can, as Paul explains in v17-19, be wealthy without arrogance or trusting in wealth. In mentioning that God “richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment” (v17), Paul gives a special command to the wealthy to “do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share” (v18). Concluding this thought, Paul says that this threefold behavior is how to “lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age” (v19; Matthew 6:19-20; Luke 12:15). The wealthy, in other words, must not be vain confident, trusting in their wealth, but in Christ who gives them wealth in order to serve Him, thereby storing up true riches in heaven. Likewise, we – far wealthier than any of Paul’s audience – must strive for stewardship in all God gives us to manage.

Finally, Paul gives Timothy a few final instructions. The first, shepherd the flock – “guard what has been entrusted to your care” (Matthew 25:15) – calls to mind the importance of his own stewardship responsibilities; Timothy wasn’t wealthy (v17-19), but he had the very people of God entrusted to his care! All believers have a deposit in the Holy Spirit and the gospel, which is to be used wisely. The second instruction – cling to sound doctrine – for “what is falsely called knowledge,” speaking of the pre-Gnostic false teachings, leads the flock astray – is the method of proper stewardship. Calvin translates “knowledge” here as “science;” I like what he says: “According to Paul, no science is truly and justly so called but that which instruct us in the confidence and fear of God; that is, in godliness.” Timothy must guard God’s people by preaching and teaching and living sound doctrine. Paul concludes with a benediction of grace to a plural “you,” to the entire congregation. We all need grace, and God gives it generously and in abundance.

DC 402 - Week 3

We're in the midst of a brief overview of post-biblical Christian history. After a fruitful conversation on the period of time from 600-1600 AD, we now study the most recent 400 years of church history. Here's how the workload might break down:

Monday - Read Leviticus 16-27 and Psalms 90, 92-94 and comment
Tuesday - Memorize Acts 1:8 - "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and Samaria, and to all the ends of the earth" - and review previous memory verses, such as Hebrews 12:1, Genesis 3:6, and James 1:12
Wednesday - Read chapters 9-10 of Christian History Made Easy and review memory verses
Thursday - Read chapters 11-12 of Christian History Made Easy and review memory verses
Friday - Work on your report on a character of Christian history

1 Timothy 6:11-16

V11-16 –11But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. 12Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 13In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you 14to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15which God will bring about in His own time – God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To Him be honor and might forever. Amen.

V11-16 include five additional exhortations for Timothy, regarding his sanctification, and a glorious doxology. Paul calls Timothy a “man of God,” and urges him to (1) flee false teaching and (2) fight complacency by aggressively (3) pursuing “righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness,” as well as (4) taking hold “of the eternal life to which” he was called. The Christian life, one measured by progress, is truly a lifelong battle, even for those who have made great strides. Paul also reminds Timothy in this passage of the doctrine of election, that eternal life was chosen for us, not by us; yet we must take hold of it (Philippians 2:12-13). Timothy took hold of it when he “made the good confession,” likely when he proclaimed Jesus as Lord at his baptism; but he has to (5) “keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ.” In other words, just as Jesus “before Pontius Pilate made the good confession” (v13) with His voluntary sacrificial death, so Timothy can continually proclaim “his good confession” by giving up his life in the service of his congregation. And he will persevere as God, who “gives life to everything” (and, by implication, preserves it) and who “will bring about [the return of Jesus] in His own time,” leads.

In v15, Paul praises God as sovereign, “the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords” (Revelation 17:14; 19:16). He alone has knowledge of and controls the first and second coming of His Son Jesus Christ (2 Thessalonians 2:8; 2 Timothy 1:10; 4:1,8; Titus 2:11,13). This praise leads Paul into a glorious doxology (v16-17). Paul praises God as the only God; there is only one God. Paul praises God, who alone is immortal, referring to eternal existence and incapability of ceasing to be. Paul praises God, “who lives in unapproachable light,” which refers to the Shekinah glory, a permanent state of being and dwelling. Paul praises God, “whom no one has seen or can see,” due to His holiness; yet believers have seen Him revealed in Jesus. We live in Him, and He in us by His Holy Spirit. And Paul issues “honor and might” to Him forever, concluding with an affirmative “Amen.”