Pastor’s Notes this week:
This week we will begin our study through First and Second Timothy. There are many things that we could discuss by way of introduction, but I will limit this morning’s message to three: Who was Timothy; Why should we study First and Second Timothy; and What are the major issues that Paul addresses? Pray for us all that this study would be edifying and profitable for each individual, and for us together as Christ’s church called Bethel Baptist, in Centre Wellington, for this time, for His purposes, for His glory!
Paul opens the first of these letters, announcing his credentials as “an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our Saviour and of Christ Jesus our hope.” And he addresses the letter, “To Timothy, my true child in the faith.” our knowledge of who Timothy is begins in Acts 16, and going back to Acts 14. In Acts 14, when Paul and Barnabas arrived in Lystra on their first missionary journey in about 47-48 A.D., Timothy would have been a young man among very many who heard the Gospel, the GOOD NEWS of salvation in Christ Jesus, perhaps when Paul was used in the healing of a man who “was crippled from birth and never walked.” Paul and Barnabas’ stay in Lystra was short, as “Jews from Antioch and Iconium … persuaded the crowds” that they were dangerous, and Paul was “stoned … and dragged … out of the city, supposing that he was dead.” On their way back to Antioch in Syria, Paul and Barnabas “returned to Lystra … appointed elders … with prayer and fasting [and] committed them to the Lord” (Acts 14:8-23).
Later, on the Second Missionary journey, Paul and Silas once again visited Lystra, probably sometime around 48-49 A.D. We read in Acts 16, verse 3 that “Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him.” Timothy was already a disciple. He was the son of a Greek/Gentile father and a Jewish mother (Eunice 2 Tim 1:5), and “He was well spoken of by the brothers at Lystra and Iconium” (v.2). However young Timothy was at that time, he continued with Paul as “fellow worker” (Rom 16:21), a pioneer, planting churches, acting as a messenger for Paul between the churches, and eventually assuming responsibility for the church in Ephesus. We get the impression, particularly from Second Timothy, that Timothy needed encouragement, that the work was hard, that there was much opposition, that he was younger than many of the new believers whom he led, that he was prone to stomach ailments (perhaps stress induced?).
However short was Paul’s first visit to Lystra, 1 Tim 1:2 and 2 Tim 1:2 suggest to us that Timothy may have come to faith in Christ Jesus through Paul’s ministry. Even if that is not the case (2 Tim 1:5 suggests that Timothy may have come to faith through the witness of his mother Eunice and grandmother Lois),the older Paul treated Timothy as his “beloved child,” highly valued his “participation in the gospel,” mentored him, prepared him for and trusted him with great responsibilities.
In fact, First and Second Timothy, together with Titus, are often called “Pastoral Epistles” as they are addressed to younger men with responsibility to lead churches, rather than, as with Paul’s other letters in the New Testament, to the churches themselves. This is one reason (Philip Towner suggests), that “Even the evangelical church … has been somewhat ambivalent” about studying these letters. Towner writes that there may be a “perception that these letters were meant solely for ministers, like Timothy and Titus” (Philip H. Towner, 1-2 Timothy & Titus The IVP New Testament Commentary Series, 1994, p.13). However, though the issues that Paul addresses in his letters to Timothy (and to Titus, which we may study at a later date) can be uncomfortable for us to deal with, they are not issues faced only by the church in Ephesus in the first century. As the ESV Study Bible states in the introduction to First Timothy,
The theme of 1 Timothy is that the gospel leads to practical, visible change in the lives of those who believe in it. It is often thought that the theme is church order, but the discussion of church offices is simply a piece of the larger argument that the true gospel, in contrast to false teaching, will always lead to godliness in its adherents (English Standard Version Study Bible, Crossway, 2008, p.2322).
So, First and Second Timothy as well as Titus and along with all of Paul’s letters, address important issues and contain important teaching for all believers. Again, Philip Towner writes, “For the church that seeks to understand its role in a complex world and for the individual Christian “who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim 3:12) today, the Pastoral Epistles make very relevant reading” (Towner, p.14). In these letters, Paul will address the dangers of false teaching in the church, the importance of having properly qualified leadership in the local church, how the Gospel should be shaping, molding, correcting and growing every believer, and how to persevere with faithfulness, like Paul, to the end.
I pray that we will all approach these letters with humble hearts, prepared to be challenged by God’s Word in our thoughts, our presuppositions and attitudes, that we might continue to grow in holiness and godliness, in our personal relationship with the Lord, and in our witness to the world around us, all for the GLORY of GOD.
Please see the PDF version below: