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

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