Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Due to some circumstances beyond my control I won't be able to post on this blog for a week or two. Please don't consider this blog dead.
Feel free to leave me a comment or something!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

For the next step in our study of Timothy we'll be looking at 1 Timothy 1:3. I'm doing this section one verse at a time because these verses have so much inside them that doing more than one a post would be cumbersome. Enough about me though, let's look at the verse:
As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer (NIV)

Start with the first phrase, "As I urged you when I went into Macedonia". Macedonia was a Roman province established in 146 B.C. Its economy focused on agriculture and livestock although some metals and other products such as timber and hemp were also exported. Important cities such as Thessalonica and Berea were situated inside of Macedonia. There's not much we can tell from this phrase other than that Paul wanted to visit Macedonia.

Moving on, we come to the clause "stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer". The main part of this verse it the section dealing with false doctrine. The greed word for "false" in this verse means "other". Paul was making simple for Timothy and for us; instead of leaving it up to us to determine whether a doctrine was true or not he gave us a simple test. If the doctrine in question didn't agree with what Paul had already taught, if it fit in the "other" category, then it was not to be taught at all. This also illustrates Paul's authority in teaching. Anything that opposed what he taught (given by God) was false.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

I'm hoping to spend the next couple of weeks taking a look at 1 Timothy. We'll start with 1 Timothy 1:1-2

1Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope,

2To Timothy my true son in the faith:
Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. (NIV)

Let's examine the first verse. It is a phrase (not a sentence) introducing Paul. In it he refers to himself as apostle of Christ Jesus. Calling himself an apostle is an interesting choice of words. Let's look at how Paul typically introduces himself:
  • 1 Corinthians, "called to be an apostle"
  • 2 Corinthians, "an apostle of Christ Jesus"
  • Galatians, "an apostle"
  • Ephesians, "an apostle"
  • Philippians, "servants of Christ Jesus" (Paul and others)
  • Colossians, "an apostle of Christ Jesus"
  • 1 Thessalonians, none
  • 2 Thessalonians, none
  • 1 Timothy, "an apostle of Christ Jesus"
  • 2 Timothy, "an apostle of Christ Jesus"
  • Titus, "a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ"
  • Philemon, "a prisoner of Christ Jesus"
Paul refers to himself as a prisoner of Christ 2/3 times. Clearly apostleship was important to Paul. And why wouldn't it be? He had seen Jesus on the road to Damascus. However, it is possible that Paul was referring to his apostleship in order to emphasize his authority. In other letters such as 1 Corinthians and Galatians* Paul had used his apostleship to reinforce his teaching.

Let's move onto the next verse:
To Timothy my true son in the faith:
Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. (NIV)
In this verse Paul states who the letter's intended recipient is and mentions a brief prayer for him. Paul and Timothy apparently had a father-son relationship between them. In 2 Timothy Paul again greets Timothy as his son. Paul didn't limit this sort of relationship to Timothy alone; he greets Titus as a son also**.
While playing the "father" role obviously made Paul the more respected of the two, Paul apparently didn't consider Timothy inferior. In 2 Corinthians 1:1 Paul refers to Timothy as his "brother". Paul understood the importance of unity in the Church.

The next section of the verse lists three things Paul wants Timothy to receive. Each item has special significance because Paul starts out the letter not by congratulating Timothy or asking how he was doing but by showing him what he needed from God.
  • Grace
    • Paul wanted Timothy to receive grace. Grace was important because Paul understood just how insufficient we sinful humans are. The very first thing Paul wanted Timothy to understand that he needed was grace. Grace is necessary even in the most "established" Christian.
  • Mercy
    • The prayer that Timothy needed mercy indicates that Timothy had sinned. People who don't sin doesn't need mercy. However, Paul does not mention any particular sin in 1 Timothy. One can surmise that Paul was not referring to any particular sin but was referring to typical sins that all humans make. Paul understood that everyone sins and prayed that Timothy would receive mercy.
  • Peace
    • The ancient church had it rough. The constant threat of persecution and the natural confusion of rapid expansion probably made a pastor's life stressful. Paul simply prayed that Timothy would receive peace.
What we can learn from this:
  1. Even the most "established" and "strongest" Christian needs daily grace.
  2. Everyone sins. Everyone needs mercy.
  3. Don't be afraid to pray for peace.
*1 Corinthians 9 and the beginning of Galatians
**Titus 1:4

Friday, September 15, 2006