Sunday, April 8, 2018

2 Timothy 1:1-2 "To Timothy from Paul, with Love."


The second letter of Paul to Timothy written in 67/68 AD is a very special, beautiful, fatherly letter written to a beloved son in the faith. Jesus had his beloved disciple John, and Paul had his beloved Timothy.

These are Paul’s last recorded words that we know of. Paul knows that he is going home to be with Jesus very soon (4:7, 8, 18). Last words are significant. They are weighty and in true apostolic fashion they are prophetic and thus by the   inspiration of the Holy Spirit he writes to help Timothy and the church at Ephesus over which the Holy Spirit had made him a pastor. And he helps us here today. The message of the Bible,  the inspired Word of God is timeless and for all ages, and remains an important counselling tool  for us.  

Paul is in chains (1:16). He is imprisoned, under house-arrest, but as we see in Acts 28:30,31 he initially  has  significant liberties. He can receive visitors and he is free to preach the gospel to all who come to see him. However, his  liberties in preaching the gospel  will only increase the hate of those  that oppose the gospel and so it appears  in this letter that  Paul knows that soon he will be dead (cf.  4:6-8).The time has come. His work is done, and what a work that was!  After Christ’s death, and following Pentecost   many were converted under the missionary labours of the apostle Paul.  But Satan who always opposes the gospel through people who he has taken captive to do his will, will  always make   sure that  God’s work would be opposed (cf. Acts 20:29,30). Here is an instance.  
In A.D. 64, a few years before Paul’s second letter to Timothy was composed, the emperor Nero caused Rome to burn and he conveniently blamed it on the Christians, because Christianity was beginning to make a real impact upon Roman society.  So Satan inspired men like Nero to start a cruel persecution of Christians. Being a Christian was now no longer a novelty. It was dangerous, and it led to apostasy on the part of many whose hearts weren’t truly settled in Christ.

But in addition to the persecution of the church there was also the deception of the church. Paul had warned the Ephesian elders about this in Acts 20:29, 30. False teachers, wolves in sheep’s clothing as he calls them,   were upsetting the faith of many and so Paul also includes a pointed warning in this letter concerning the coming times of difficulty (3:1ff) along with encouragement to stand steadfast in the gospel (4:1ff).  

Another thing… at this time Paul found himself virtually abandoned in Rome (vv. 15-17).

So with all this in mind we now simply wish to consider the nature of Paul’s relationship with this young pastor, whom we know as Timothy.   

PAUL AN APOSTLE OF CHRIST JESUS BY THE WILL OF GOD…

This letter to Timothy came with a particular authority.  Yes, Paul was indeed Timothy’s mentor and father in the faith and as such that fact would have carried much weight, but notice that the weight of his words does not come from his special relationship with Timothy. Paul was not a self-styled guru, a magnetic personality, to whom people are attracted and devoted. Paul did not appear to have such qualities in any case[1].  No, these words came from an apostle of Christ Jesus – an appointed messenger, a dedicated messenger of the Lord Jesus. These words come ultimately to Timothy from God Himself.

Paul was appointed a messenger of divine truth by the will of God. And Paul did not call himself to this ministry. God sovereignly chose him before he was born (Gal. 1:15).  And he was called to be an apostle in time by the Lord Jesus, whilst on the road to Damascus with the intention to persecute Christians (Acts 9:3ff). You may choose to become a painter or a construction worker, a designer or a policeman, but you do not choose to become an apostle. That, incidentally, is true for all spiritual gifts. They are callings.  Spiritual gifts are sovereignly granted and appointed by the Holy Spirit, who gives as He wills (Eph. 4:11; 1 Cor. 12:7,8,11). Paul, by trade and skill was a tentmaker, and by calling he was an apostle of Jesus Christ.

As an apostle he had the God given authority and calling from God to be a reliable truth bearer after Christ had ascended to heaven.  He was able to speak and provide reliable doctrine (God -breathed Scripture cf. 3:16) for the young church, and to have these reliable words written down for future use. In this letter he is concerned to   help his young pastor friend (who also has a divine calling) to pass on this apostolic doctrine to faithful men who will be able to teach others also (2:2).  Timothy, apart from teaching sound words to his congregation (1:13) and having a high regard for the Scriptures (3:16, 17),   must mentor others who will also teach (2:2). He must be a balanced man, and careful with words (2:14). He must be sound and balanced in the presentation of his doctrine. He must not engage in foolish controversy (2:23) nor be quarrelsome, but be kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness (2:24, 25). He must understand the rebellious nature of the people that he ministers to (3:1-9; 4:3-4). He must be a ready preacher of the Word of God (4:1) - an evangelist; a preacher of the gospel of Jesus at all times (4:5). In all this, Paul was a true model of a balanced gospel ministry.  There is no real Christianity without learning from Jesus and His apostles. That is why we (beginning with pastors, elders, deacons, heads of families, fathers, mothers) must get to know the Bible and make its teachings our lifestyle.  

ACCORDING TO THE PROMISE OF THE LIFE THAT IS IN CHRIST JESUS…

This is the heart of the apostolic message:  “according to the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus”. You can live the Christian life only by the power that Christ supplies day by day. We get this life only by being united to Jesus.

TO TIMOTHY MY BELOVED CHILD…

Timothy represents the new generation of pastors. He himself is not an apostle. He builds upon the  foundation that the apostles and prophets have laid.  And Timothy has a special place in Paul’s heart.  In all likelihood he was converted under Paul’s ministry, and that is special.  I have a special affection and love in my heart for Richard Graham and Buzzy Kloot, students at UCT who first challenged my lukewarmness in the first half of 1978. I have a special affection for Pastor Frank Retief, the man under who’s preaching my spiritual eyes were first opened on the 22nd of June 1978 to see the Lord Jesus for who He is. I have a special love for that loving man Victor Pearce, now with the Lord, a University chaplain at the Student YMCA. He was the one who first nurtured me   as a raw convert.  And what can I say about my love and gratitude for my first real pastors at the Walvis Bay Baptist Church, Don Watson and later  Peter Radmanovich? And what can I say about Charles Whitson, the founding pastor of the Eastside Baptist Church, and his dear wife Betty, (both now with the Lord Jesus) who have been so kind and loving to me when I first came to Windhoek in 1983?  It was under Charles Whitson’s ministry that I was encouraged to enrol at the Baptist Theological Seminary in Cape Town   in 1986, and what rich years those were. And in that same year I met the woman who would love me more than anyone else on this earth.

Timothy my beloved child (or son)… Timothy was truly loved by Paul and he loved Paul.   As already said, he probably came to know and love the Lord Jesus whom he now served as a pastor, under Paul’s ministry.  And Paul knew Timothy’s family. He knows that his mother was named Eunice and he even knows the name of his grandmother, Lois. (1:5) Timothy was half Gentile and half Jewish. His father was a Greek. He was born and raised in Lystra where Paul had been nearly stoned to death (Acts 16:1). He was ordained when Paul and the other elders laid their hands on him (1:6; 1 Tim 4:14). Paul knew Timothy well. He knew that Timothy had a  timid nature (1:7). He knew that he had a fragile constitution who needed to be urged to take a little wine for his stomach’s sake and his frequent ailments (1 Tim 5:23).

You really love a person when you take care to get to know them. Paul really loved Timothy.  He took care to know him. He was not some high minded church leader, aloof and altogether on another level, mightier than thou, preoccupied with his own importance and status as an apostle.  Paul was like his Lord Jesus. Jesus, the mighty Son of God Himself was capable of getting down to the level of the man or woman he would meet along life’s highway. He was able to love the unlovely. He came for sinners. We read that when he met with the conceited rich young ruler in Mark 10:21, that He looked at him and loved him. And so too we remember that God loved us while we were yet sinners (Rom. 5:8), and the cross is the profoundest evidence of this fact. Jesus died on the cross for sinners. God so loved the world that He gave ….(Jn. 3:16)

God is love.  God loves us. You, dear believer are made in the image of God.  And you are made to imitate the God who loves you  (1 Jn. 3:16; 4:11). You are born again to love God and to love others. It is the mark of a true Christian.  

So, before we get into this  letter, we take note  that  Paul was not only an apostle. He was a true child of God characterized by his real love for God and for this individual, called Timothy and his real love for the lost world of his day.  When Paul loved Timothy he showed that he was a true disciple of the Lord. And because he loved him, he wanted the very best for him. What is the very best that we could wish for anyone?  Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord!
The Grace of God, the mercy of God changed Paul from a hateful persecutor to a loving man.

SUMMARY

Our first meditation in this little letter has opened our hearts and minds to the profound apostolic authority of Paul and the deep love which accompanies this ministry.  They belong together as two sides of a coin. The natural outflow of our apostolic doctrine is that we love God, love one another and love this lost world.  And we see it consistently reflected in Paul’s life and ministry.  And this is all built upon the life and ministry of our Lord Jesus whose wonderful love we now remember  and celebrate in this table [ Lord's Supper]  set before us. 


[1] E.g. 2 Corinthians 10:10 English Standard Version (ESV)  10 For they say, “His letters are weighty and strong, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech of no account.”

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