Monday, September 22, 2 Thessalonians Chapter 2
It is likely that someone wrote a letter claiming to be Paul describing the return of Jesus that had already occurred. Paul warns them not to be taken in. Because what Paul writes is vague, it is unlikely he had read the letter himself. His point is that we will know without any doubt when Jesus does return.
Verses 3-4: It cannot happen until the Great Revolt has taken place and there has appeared the wicked One, the lost One, the Enemy, who raises himself above every so called God or object of worship to enthrone himself in God’s sanctuary and flaunts the claim that he is God. NJB Isaiah 57:4 has the offspring of liars NIV. Paul makes it clear that this rebellion will occur before Jesus returns. Having said that, we can identify dozens, probably hundreds of leaders through the ages who seem to fit this description, so we should concentrate on Jesus, not the liar.
Verses 1-4 make an incomplete sentence in the Greek as though Paul is too agitated to finish his thought. He jumps on to, Don’t you remember….
In verse 7, no surprise, we read that the mystery of evil is already at work. But the breath of God, the Word, will destroy the Liar. Isaiah 11:4 promises the same, with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked. NIV
The Greek word in verse 8 translated as destroy in NIV is katargesei, a word with at least 80 English equivalents. Translators have to read the context of each usage to decide on the best word to use. Here it clearly means complete destruction.
In verse 9 we see that the Liar will appear to produce the same miracles, sign and wonders as the Messiah, but they will be false.
I think Phillips has the best translation of this section. The lawless man is produced by the spirit of evil and armed with all the force, wonders and signs that falsehood can devise. To those involved in this dying world he will come with evil’s undiluted power to deceive, for they have refused to love the truth which could have saved them. God sends upon them, therefore, the full force of evil’s delusion, so that they put their faith in an utter fraud and meet the inevitable judgment of all who have refused to believe the truth and who have made evil their play-fellow.
From 13 on Paul is encouraging us to stand firm. God has chosen us and He loves us, so how can we fail? We have a gift of the glory of Jesus the Messiah which we should share with all who will accept the gift.
Verses 16-17 include another prayer.
Tuesday, September 23, 2 Thessalonians Chapter 3
When Paul says in verse 3 that God protects us from the evil one, we are not excused from doing what we can to protect ourselves. We must always seek God’s love and share it with others.
Verse 6 condemns sloth, laziness, idleness and inactivity. We are to work for the Kingdom of God and we are to work for our living in this life, not live on the backs of others. Verse 6 gives us a basic rule. But we cannot stretch that rule to include those who cannot work. It is a difficult problem we face today, but it is an age old problem. We must balance our decisions with mercy. Verse 15 reminds us not to treat someone as an enemy but as a brother.
Wednesday, September 24, 1 Timothy Chapter 1
The authorship of the two letters to Timothy and the one to Titus are called the Pastoral Letters. It is agreed by all scholars that they were written late. However, the majority of modern scholars reject Paul as the author and their arguments are reasonable. They say that one of his disciples must have written it after he died. Having said that, there are reasonable points supporting Paul’s authorship. If you are interested in reading both sides, there are many sources available.
I think the letters were written by Paul in the period between his two arrests in Rome around 65-67 AD. Acts does not help us regarding that time, but there is no reason to believe that Paul could not have gone to Macedonia and other places in those years.
The first letter has three major sections: 1) A grand conscience and genuine faith, 2) Directions for public worship, 3) How to behave in the church.
In the opening Paul claims his apostleship to assure Timothy that what he writes comes from God.
His first instruction is to put a stop to those who are asserting the need for following the Law. Paul’s point is that the Law is good for those outside the faith, but unnecessary for followers of Jesus. At the worst, these false teachers were doing it to get rich.
Paul recounts his own sordid history as a persecutor of Christians. He accepts the powerful Mercy of God that has forgiven his grievous sins. Verse 15 includes the Gospel in miniature: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. NIV
Paul reminds Timothy that prophecies were made about his leadership in the Body of Christ and he encourages him to continue to live up to those expectations, to fight the good fight.
Thursday, September 25, 1 Timothy Chapter 2
Paul first asks the church to pray for all the leaders in government that their decisions will result in peace for all.
There is one God and one Mediator, Christ Jesus. Jesus was sent by God to save everyone.
Origen (240 AD): Therefore, because God is merciful and “wishes all men to be saved,” he says, “I will visit their crimes with an iron rod and their sins with whips. I will not however, remove my mercy from them.” [Psalm 88:32-33] For “God is jealous” and does not wish that soul which he betrothed to himself in faith to remain in the defilement of sin, but wishes it immediately to be purified, wishes it swiftly to cast out all its impurities, if it has by chance been snatched away to some.
Paul is dealing with the issue of proper worship. He first describes some proper attitudes for men, especially those leading services.
Tertullian (200 AD): But what reason is there in going to prayer with hands indeed washed, but the spirit has become fouled?—inasmuch as to our hands themselves spiritual cleansing is necessary, that they may be “lifted up pure” from falsehood, from murder, from cruelty, from poisonings, from idolatry and all the other blemishes which, conceived by the spirit, are effected by the operation of the hands. Tertullian began his own ministry about twenty years after Paul died. The Apostle John was still alive. He and Origen talked to people who knew the saints. Some of Tertullian’s writings were done at the same time as Revelation.
Paul turns to attitudes of women in worship and continues to suggest that they behave as women should in that society.
Chrysostom (380 AD): For what reason will you be able to state, what defense, when the Lord lays these pearls to your charge and brings the poor who have perished with hunger into your midst? On this account Paul said, “not with braided hair, or gold, or pearls or costly raiment.” For these would be a snare….Take off all ornament and place it in the hands of Christ through the poor.
Verse 12 is a strong sentence and difficult to merge with Paul’s other statements regarding women in the church. Frankly, this is one of the statements that offers support to the idea that someone other than Paul was the author of the letter. You will remember that Paul spoke critically to the women in Corinth where there was a strong influence from the Greek temples. But Timothy is working with the church in Ephesus, one of the strongest churches of the day.
Given Paul’s numerous statements regarding equality of women, I discount this one as regarding a specific situation that is not clear to us.
Friday, September 26, 1 Timothy Chapter 3
The Greek word episkopon was first an overseer/elder and later a bishop, always considered the highest position of authority in the church. Paul describes the qualifications for the job. Notice that he expects most will be married, as they were until about 1500 AD.
The next group Paul describes is the diakonos, those who serve, and later pastors, teachers, leaders of the single congregation. Women are mentioned as deacons even as Paul says “men” here. Deacons are to be tested and have wives who can pass the test as well. The assumption is that a deacon cannot control a church if he cannot control his wife.
Be righteous and do good.