Monday, September 29, 1 Timothy Chapter 4
This chapter contains instructions for Timothy. Paul is confident of his understanding of the Gospel and of his commitment to sharing the Word of God, but he wants to make sure he is aware of some nitty-gritty details. Paul again cautions Timothy to watch for false teachings and to keep his flock focused on the Truth of the Word. One of the biggest problems the Greeks faced was the traditional teaching of the philosophers that this world was evil and we should, like Buddhists, avoid it as much as possible.
Christians agree that evil exists in the world, but we believe we can live a godly life here, so we differ strongly from the ancient Greeks.
Paul encourages continuous training in the Word. We should not become Spiritually flabby.
The Book of Wisdom, accepted as scripture in the First Century, has this observation about God: Yes, you love everything that exists, and nothing that you have made disgusts you, since, if you had hated something, you would not have made it. NJB So God wants us to live in this world in the most godly way possible with the promise that the next world will be sin free.
Timothy must act as a mature man of God. Probably at the time Timothy received his commission (by laying on of hands, still done today) he also received a prophecy from one of the Apostles, elders, or deacons laying on hands. We only know that he is to remain true to those words.
This whole chapter is solid advice for every Christian at any stage of his/her Christian life.
Tuesday, September 30, 1 Timothy Chapter 5
Paul gives Timothy practical advice on how to deal with other people, it is all about showing respect.
Verses 3-8 reminds us of the importance of family. A widow in those days had no Social Security or IRA’s to live on. She had to have help. The children should provide, but if they fail or cannot, then the church should step in. That help should include visits to those who are shut in because of poor health.
Paul turns to the issue of younger widows. Clearly, he is using generalizations in this description. Not all 50 year-old widows will turn to Satan. I think Paul overstated the problem, but he is correct in believing that age is a factor. He could have added health as another factor. A young widow in poor health will need help. Paul was writing to help Timothy with a specific problem the church was facing with widows.
There may also have been a problem with one or more elders of the church. These men, and a few women, were chosen by the church because they had proven themselves solid followers of Jesus. It appears that one was being accused of improper conduct. Paul’s first advice is to wait until he hears complaints from three or more. Only then should the elder be approached in private to hear his side of the account. If necessary, the elder should be accused in front of the church in a kind of trial where people can speak for and against. Note that this public accusing is for elders, leaders of the congregation, not for members. Non-elders are approached more privately regarding their sins.
Verse 23 is often referred to in any discussion about drinking. Paul knows that Timothy is having tummy troubles. In those days it was most often caused by polluted water which is why most people drank water mixed with wine. Paul advised Timothy to do that for his health. Until modern times people drank spirits mixed with water to kill the bacterium, though they did not know that. They only knew it helped them stay healthy.
Wednesday, October 1, 1 Timothy Chapter 6
Paul encourages slaves to be faithful to their masters. In the years before the US Civil War, this was one of the most quoted verses in the Bible. None-the-less, it is not an endorsement of slavery. Paul then turned to the Christian slave who attends church with his Christian master. Their relationship has to fit within the social norms of the day. The slave should work all the harder to please his master, but the master should work all the harder to give his slave the basic rights of humans. This was the issue that turned American slavery so ugly. The masters came to believe that their slaves were not human.
Any relationship built on the premise that the other person is inferior is un-Christian.
Verse 3 returns to the problem of false teachers. Everyone who teaches must stay close to what Jesus himself taught. Any deviation is suspect. Paul warns Timothy about those false teachers who are in it for the money. We do not know how they were making money, but con men are shrewd. A good friend of mine went to college with a guy who paid his way through school by selling autographed photos of Jesus and an artifact of the cross (a shaving of wood).
Paul did not hold back when he said of them they are ignorant windbags who infect the air with germs of envy, controversy, bad-mouthing, suspicious rumors. MSG To live in harmony with God is all the gain anyone needs.
Verse 10 is often misquoted. It makes more sense to read all of 9 and 10: For men who set their hearts on being wealthy expose themselves to temptation. They fall into one of the world’s traps, and lay themselves open to all sorts of silly and wicked desires, which are quite capable of utterly ruining and destroying their souls. For loving money leads to all kinds of evil, and some men in the struggle to be rich have lost their faith and caused themselves untold agonies of mind. Phillips
As for Timothy, fight the good fight of faith. KJV Being faithful to God in this world is not easy. We have to work at it every day.
Verse contains another popular phrase, in this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age. NIV
Thursday, October 2, 2 Timothy Chapter 1
This second letter was written several years after the first. Paul was placed under arrest in Rome for the second time, this time being chained to his guard in a prison instead of being under house arrest. Paul knew it was the end for him. He simply wanted to take care of a few last minute details. But what he wanted most was for Timothy to come for a visit.
Paul praises Timothy and reminds him to be bold. To preach the Gospel is the greatest thing anyone can do.
For he has rescued us from all that is really evil and called us to a life of holiness—not because of any of our achievements but for his own purpose. Before time began he planned to give us in Christ the grace to achieve this purpose, but it is only since our saviour Jesus Christ has been revealed that the method has become apparent. For Christ has completely abolished death, and has now, through the Gospel, opened to us men the shining possibilities of the life that is eternal. Phillips
For I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. KJV The day is the Day of Judgment. What Paul has given to Jesus to keep until then is Paul’s faith, the only thing he has to give that is worth keeping.
To Timothy, Paul encourages that his own deposit of faith be fully given over to Jesus for safekeeping.
Paul names two men from the region of Ephesus who were in Rome, but deserted Paul because standing with Paul could have put them in prison as well. But Onesiphorus went out of his way to find and support Paul. We know nothing else about the man, but that is enough. We also know that Luke stayed with Paul.
Friday, October 3, 2 Timothy Chapter 2
Verses 3-7 give us three examples of dedication, in each case to reach a goal. For Christians, the goal is to spread the Good News, the Gospel. To do that we must train and prepare and follow all the rules. A farmer who throws the wheat seed into a field of weeds will never see a harvest. He must work to prepare the field. If I have a friend or neighbor who refuses the Word of God, I must continue to prepare the field. I may not succeed, but the Holy Spirit may be able to more him.
Verses 11-13 are either an early church hymn or proverb. They are powerful words.
Hymenaeus and Philetus seem to have been two preachers of Gnosticism who believed that Jesus only rose from the grave in spirit, not in body. It became a standard of the Gnostic faithful and is still popular today. A version of that idea is that either God or the Son of God slipped into the body of a mortal named Jesus, did the great teaching and preformed the miracles, then slipped out of the body at the time of the arrest. Another less common version had it that the Son of God could not be killed, so he had a look-alike stand in for the execution. These are some of the simple versions of Gnosticism. We humans can be extremely inventive when we want to be.
Paul cautions Timothy and us to avoid inventing things regarding the Gospel. Keep it simple, stupid.
Verse 20 contains an unusual illustration of a house. In the house are some gold objects and some of clay. The image for us is to seek the most valuable and shun that which has little value. This is a parable; Paul has already rejected seeking earthly wealth. The house he speaks of is more heavenly.
We should shun arguments. We need to state God’s position and leave it at that. A war of words generally destroys both sides. Patience is the key.
Be righteous and do good.