25 March 2017

Stone 46 - 1 Timothy and 2 Timothy

In this post we will take a look at the two letters to Timothy.

1 Timothy
Paul writes his first letter to Timothy and calls him to work in Ephesus since there is some strange teaching going on there (1Tim 1:3).

**Clearly this is something, then, that has gone on for centuries! Nothing new here. We must be vigilant even to this day about false teachings and misuse of the gospel.

This was Timothy's charge. To correct the bad teaching going on in Ephesus.

**As with other portions of the Bible - we must keep the writing in context to determine the true meaning. Paul was not writing to us. He was writing a letter to Timothy and it had specific instruction for him. It referred to things going on in a specific place -  things that Timothy no doubt experienced first hand while he was there. Because of this - we must strive to understand what was happening there at that time and how the words Paul wrote should be interpreted based upon that. Then we might come to an understanding of how these words might also be useful for us today.

One of the takeaways from 1 Timothy might be from Paul's reference to himself (1Tim 1:12-17). Paul notes his past in verse 13 as an arrogant, blaspheming, persecutor of the gospel and that despite these awful attributes, he was shown mercy anyway.

In verse 15, Paul states that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. By substitution, that means everyone as we are all guilty of sin.

Paul urges Timothy to be an intercessor for the people there through prayer. Paul states that it is good and pleases God (1Tim 2:3). This would hold true today. It continues to please God when we pray on behalf of others for their well-being.

Paul then makes some statements in his letter to Timothy that many people might struggle with.

Now, I do not proclaim to know every detail or have every answer but I will suggest to you that perhaps what we read is not as it may appear when we take the words from their original context.

Here is a great resource called Never Read A Bible Verse.

Consider 1Tim 2:9-10. If these are the only verses we read, one particular meaning seems to stand out. Is this really a commandment from Paul to all women of today? No. It is a letter to Timothy about what was going on in Ephesus. Is it possible that the women in Ephesus were dressing provocatively or perhaps that more wealthy women were "outdressing" the poor women?
Remember - something was amiss in Ephesus - that is why Timothy was there - to correct it all.

Does that mean we cannot take something from this in today's time? No. I do not see anything inherently wrong with the statement about dressing modestly and with good sense. Verse 10 seems to make it clear that DOING good is more important than DRESSING good - as it were.

I think we can apply the same thinking to the verses about the role of women. Something was happening in Ephesus - something messed up enough that Paul sent Timothy to go and fix it. Ephesus was already known for distorting scripture and false doctrine. Could this have been what the women were up to? Is it possible that the correction was specific to the Ephesian women? I do think it is possible to have equality of all persons who are created in the image of God while maintaining different roles.

Paul then speaks about the qualifications of the elders. The idea is that they are to be good examples of Christ followers. As leaders of God's household, they should first be recognized as good leaders of their personal household. That seems fair to me.

The enemy is eager to distort the truth and lure God's children down the wrong path.

Paul has advice for dealing with widows, other elderly, and slaves as well since it matters how the church deals with them or doesn't.

In 1Tim 6:10 Paul writes that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. I mention this since it is a pretty familiar saying. Unfortunately, I often hear it as simply "Money is the root of all evil." Notice the subtle but very significant difference in meaning...

Not -money- but the -love of money- and not -all evil- but -all kinds of evil- Notice how the original refers to an attitude towards an object rather than the object itself. Money in and of itself is not evil and much good can actually come from it when used wisely and in accordance with God' plan. Not to mention that lots of evil comes from many other sources so money cannot be the root of it all. This is just one example of how easily things can be distorted to mean something different.

2 Timothy
Paul writes again to Timothy and encourages him not to be ashamed. Again, looking at the context of what is going on...

Paul wants Timothy to come and visit him but he is in prison. As such, there is a negative connection in the eyes of the people in many cases when it comes to Paul. Associating with him could look bad for Timothy as well. So in essence, part of this is a plea to Timothy to come anyway and not be ashamed of him for being in prison since he is there because of his work for Christ. This is important for us too. We also should not be ashamed to be associated with Christ even though we may be persecuted as a result. Ultimately we are saved through Christ and should not abandon that.

Paul urges Timothy to remain strong and faithful and to share in the suffering as Christ suffered. The expectation is no different than a soldier, athlete, or farmer who strives for excellence (2Tim 2:1-7). The message is to run away from fleshly desires and to strive to be holy and special, set apart for God's work (2Tim 2:20-21). This does not come without a cost, however. Living a Christian life is not a simple one. The enemy lurks around every corner waiting to devour us (1Pet 5:8-10).

**So let us be strong in the scripture! Test everything against the Word and hold onto what is good (1Thess 5:21). The Word is good and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness (2Tim 3:16-17).  This is why we must take up the full armor of God (Eph 6:13), to resist evil! We must be prepared.

**1Tim 4:3  -  "For the time will come when they will not tolerate sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, will accumulate teachers for themselves because they have an itch to hear something new."
This is in effect now. People around the world are trying to craft their own truth and it is harmful to them and those around them.

Go forth and be strong!

Please enjoy the videos about 1 and 2 Timothy from our friends at the Bible Project

Until next time,

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