The Gospel Observer

"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations...teaching them to observe all that I commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matt. 28:19,20).
December 16, 2012


1) 1 Timothy: Introduction and 1:1-2 (Tom Edwards)
2) News & Notes


1 Timothy: Introduction and 1:1-2
by Tom Edwards

We have seen that during his 2-year imprisonment in Rome, from about A.D. 60 to 62, Paul wrote 4 epistles of the New Testament: Philemon, Colossians, Philippians, and Ephesians.  In addition, during his release -- and prior to his second Roman imprisonment -- Paul then wrote two other New Testament epistles: 1 Timothy and then Titus at a later time, but both of these written about A.D. 64 or 65.

Since the book of Acts ends with Paul in that 2-year confinement, it doesn't give the history of where he went after he was released.  But even while imprisoned that first time in Rome, Paul had appeared hopeful of being set free.  Consider, for example, Philippians 2:23,24: "Therefore I hope to send him [Timothy] immediately, as soon as I see how things go with me; and I trust in the Lord that I myself also will be coming shortly." In addition, Philemon 1:22: "At the same time also prepare me a lodging, for I hope that through your prayers I will be given to you."

After being released, Paul had only 2 or 3 years before being re-imprisoned in Rome -- and that time, according to tradition, in the Mamertine dungeon, rather than merely under house-arrest as before, which eventually culminated in his death by decapitation.  But even prior to that execution, the circumstances for Paul had been much worse than in his first incarceration in that city.   

Though most of Paul's epistles in the gospel are to various churches, 1 Timothy is one of the four personal letters that we have of Paul -- with the others being Philemon (written about A.D. 60 or 61), Titus (c. A.D. 64 or 65), and 2 Timothy (c. A.D. 66 to 68).

We can also observe that the way Paul's letters have been arranged in the New Testament, which are not all in chronological order, begins with his letters to the churches, followed by these last four to individuals.  

As we had recently considered, it must have been a close relationship Paul and Timothy had, as they shared their common faith and their genuine concern for each other.  To the Corinthians, Paul writes, "For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, who is my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, and he will remind you of my ways which are in Christ, just as I teach everywhere in every church" (1 Cor. 4:17). Though Timothy was young, Paul still regarded him highly as having "proven worth" (Phil. 2:19-22) and speaks of him as his "true child in the faith" (1 Tim. 1:2).

Paul had known Timothy for about 14 or 15 years at the writing of this letter.  Mention of him is first made in Acts 16, where he began accompanying Paul in his second missionary journey (Acts 16:1-3).  This was about A.D. 50. But as seen in verse 1, it might be that Timothy was already a Christian when Paul arrived this time.  For Timothy is spoken of as having been a "disciple"; and if he were a true disciple, then he would be one who continued in the word of the Lord and was set free by that truth, as Jesus teaches in John 8:31,32.  

We can also point out that this wasn't the first time Paul had been to Lystra.  For he had also been there twice during his first missionary journey.  Notice, for example, Acts 14:5-7.   Attempts toward persecuting and stoning the brethren caused Paul and Barnabas to flee "to the cities of Lycaonia, Lystra and Derbe, and the surrounding region; and there they continued to preach the gospel."  In the phrase "the cities of Lycaonia, Lystra and Derbe, and the surrounding region," Lycaonia is not one of the cities.  Rather, it is a region that Lystra and Derbe are in.  

It was here in Lystra where Paul healed a man who had been lame from birth (vv. 8-10).  On seeing this, the people began treating Paul and Barnabas as gods. They called Paul "Hermes" ("Mercury" to the Romans) because he was the chief speaker, and Barnabas they called "Zeus" ("Jupiter" to the Romans).  In mythology, the Greek god Hermes was the son of Zeus (the greatest of the gods) and said to have constantly accompanied his father in wandering the earth.  Due to the wings on his sandals, Hermes was the speediest of the gods, which also contributed toward his being a "messenger" for them -- and an eloquent one at that.  He was also viewed as being a god of commerce.  Paul and Barnabas expressed their grief, over this action of being reverenced as gods, by tearing their robes and declaring that they were just men and, thus, indicating that they were not to be worshiped (vv. 11-18).  Since the Bible says that there were multitudes that saw what Paul had done in healing the lame man (v. 11), we are made to wonder if Timothy was also in that crowd.  For with that great number raising their voices and crying out, "The gods have become like men and have come down to us," it would seem that that would draw out many more -- if not virtually everyone -- at least out of curiosity to see what was going on.  

But it was also here that some Jews had come from Antioch and Iconium to stir up some trouble for Paul.  As a result, Paul was stoned in Lystra and then dragged out of the city and left for dead.  But while the disciples were standing around him, Paul arose and went back into the city.  I wonder if Timothy also saw that?

From Lystra, Paul next went to Derbe; but then he returned to Lystra again.  Notice Acts 14:21-23: "After they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying, 'Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.'  When they had appointed elders for them in every church, having prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed."  So it probably was during Paul's first missionary journey that Timothy was converted to Christ.  

Again, as we think about the close association of Paul and Timothy, consider 2 Timothy 1:1-4.  Phrases such as "my beloved son," and "my true child in the faith," which Paul uses in referring to Timothy, also indicate to us of Paul's involvement in Timothy's conversion and being an instructor to him.  For the term "son" was also used figuratively to refer to one who had been a disciple of another, such as in the phrase "sons of the prophets" (2 Kings 2:3), which rather than necessarily meaning their fathers were prophets, simply indicates that they were disciples of the prophets. 

So Timothy was from Lystra in Lycaonia, which was a part of Asia Minor.  His father was Greek and his mother was Jewish.  His mother and grandmother appear to have also been very influential in his life, as they began instilling God's word in him at a very early age.  As Paul declares, "and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus" (2 Tim. 3:15).  Also 2 Timothy 1:5: "For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well."

As we have seen, not only did Timothy join Paul in some of his missionary journey; but had also been with him in Rome, during Paul's 2-year imprisonment.  For he is mentioned in the opening salutation of  three of Paul's prison epistles -- Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon.  And at the end of Paul's life, during his second imprisonment in Rome, he writes to Timothy to come to him in 2 Timothy 4:11-21.  

At the time of the writing of 1 Timothy, Timothy was in Ephesus; and he had the responsibility of holding fast to the truth and teaching against the false doctrines of his day -- such as Gnosticism, for example, which was prevalent at that time.  We recall that Paul had warned the Ephesian elders in Acts 20:29-31 that "...savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.  Therefore be on the alert...."  Paul, therefore, commended these elders to the word of God's grace, which could build them up and give them an inheritance among all those who are sanctified (v. 32).  For knowing the truth, and living according to that truth, is the only remedy for overcoming false teaching.

So, in view of that, Paul's main reason for writing 1 Timothy is set forth in 1 Timothy 3:14,15: "I am writing these things to you, hoping to come to you before long; but in case I am delayed, I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth."

Paul begins this letter to Timothy by saying, "Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus according to the commandment of God our Savior, and of Christ Jesus, who is our hope,  To Timothy, my true child in the faith: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord" (1 Tim. 1:1,2).

Paul cites his apostleship, as he also does in all of his other epistles with the exceptions of 1 and 2 Thessalonians and Philippians --  though he does include himself with the other apostles in 1 Thessalonians 2:6.  

Here, in 1 Timothy 1:1, Paul says he is an apostle by the "commandment of God."  In 1 Corinthians 1:1, Paul refers to his apostleship as being by the "will of God."  Hence, God's commandments are His will.  

In Romans 1:1, Paul points out that he was "called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God."  In Galatians 1:1, Paul defines his apostleship by stating that he was "not sent from men, nor through the agency of man, but through Jesus Christ, and God the Father...."  This makes it even clearer.  For the term "apostle" is sometimes used in a secondary sense in the Scriptures in referring to one who was sent by a church, such as Barnabas (Acts 14:14).  James, the Lord's half-brother, who was a prominent member of the church in Jerusalem, is also called an "apostle" in Galatians 1:19, though he wasn't one of "the twelve."  But Paul is emphasizing in Galatians 1:1 that his apostleship was received from Jesus Himself.  It was the Lord who was doing the "sending" in the case of Paul.  As he states in Acts 22:21, "And He said to me, 'Go!  For I will send you far away to the Gentiles.'"  Consider also Acts 22:15,16 and Acts 26:15-18.

Paul speaks of "...Christ Jesus, who is our hope."  People today have hope in many different things -- and hope that sometimes crumbles like sand-castles by the sea, such as those, whom Paul speaks of in 1 Timothy 6:17 who "fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches...."  But when Jesus is one's hope, no other hope could be more sure and dependable.  As a matter of fact, hope in Jesus, which comes through the Scriptures, is a combination of "desire plus expectation."  So not only does it fill us with a longing for the Lord and heavenly things, but it also gives us a certainty toward receiving that, which can truly make our hearts glad.  As Paul declares in Romans 5:5, "...hope [which would be based on God's word] does not disappoint...."  Hope can be like the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel.  Or when difficult times seem to overwhelm us, hope helps us look ahead to a better time -- and when that hope is Jesus, one can have the best of all outlooks.  Notice in 2 Corinthians 1:8-10 what Paul did when he had undergone a very low period in his life -- He set his hope on God! In Colossians 1:27, Paul refers to Jesus in the heart of the Christian as being the "hope of glory."  And in 1 Thessalonians 5:8, "the hope of salvation" is seen as part of the Christian's spiritual armor, which is very needful in our battle against sin and temptation.  

Hope not only helps to set us free from pressing times, but can also change us for the better, giving us a very positive outlook.  In 2 Corinthians 3:12, for example, Paul acknowledges that "Having therefore such a hope, we use great boldness in our speech."  This hope is vibrant: For Peter  speaks of it as being a "living hope" (1 Pet. 1:3); and he exhorts the brethren to "Therefore, gird your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ" (v. 13).

When the Hebrew writer speaks of hope, in Hebrews 6:19, being "an anchor for the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us," it indicates the stability this kind of hope can give us; and to keep us from drifting away from the gospel.  Having this kind of hope can make a great deal of difference in one's life.  

In pointing out how it had been for the Ephesians, prior to their conversion, Paul wants them to "remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having NO HOPE, and without God in the world" (Eph. 2:12, emphasis mine) -- and that's a very sad state to be in.  

In addition, just as a plant needs to be continually nourished to thrive, we also need to continually maintain our hope in the Lord, if we want it to be effectual in our lives. Compare this, for instance, with Colossians 1:21-23: "And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach -- if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister."  Having a true hope in Jesus can motivate us toward maintaining a righteous life: "And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure" (1 Jn. 3:3).  In the context, John is indicating the glorified state Christians will be transformed to when Jesus returns.  So a hope in that should certainly prompt us to keep ourselves ready for that great change by continuing in the light of God's truth.  

Hope is just one of the needful things that God's word provides.  The gospel has all we need to be saved eternally, if we will simply accept it by our faith and obedience.  May this be what we each will always do.  For then we will truly be the recipients of God's grace, of His mercy, and of His forgiveness, and have that hope of eternal life while on earth, which will lead to the actuality of an eternity in heaven.


News & Notes

Let those of us who are Christians continue praying for the following:

Scott Moon (Jackson Moon's grandfather) who has lung cancer, which also metastasized to a couple places in the brain. 

James Smith (an elder for the McRaven church of Christ in Jackson, Mississippi) who has been battling re-occurring cancer for the last several years, and now also has pneumonia.  (His son Alan had died of cancer about a year and a half ago.)

Joe Koczrowski IV, who recently underwent major surgery for some serious intestinal problems.  He is only about three and a half years old.

Another young one to be praying for is Thad, a 3-year old who was accidentally run over by a truck in the driveway.  A cracked rib punctured his lung, and his liver was also damaged (but which they hope to heal on its own). 

Let us also be remembering in prayer...

Ken Robertson who is not yet completely over his recent sickness, but is on some more antibiotics.  

Cheryl Crews who has chronic health issues and now also a concern about her heart which she will have some tests for near the beginning of  January. 

Shirley Young who has continual fibromyalgia.  

Pam MacDonald who has serious back trouble.  

The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation

1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17;  John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).

Park Forest

9923 Sunny Cline Dr., Baton Rouge, LA  70817
Sunday services: 9:00 AM (Bible class); 10 AM & 6 PM (worship)
Tuesday: 7 PM (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (225) 667-4520
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/go (Gospel Observer website)
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)