Monday, June 22, 2009

The First and Second Letters to Timothy


Even though Paul’s letter was originally intended for Timothy, an early leader of the ancient Christian church, his words and message are directed to all believers in the gospel message, “according to the command of God our savior and of Jesus Christ, our hope”. 1Tim1:2 This letter is considered to be instructions for us, If we reject the message of the gospel and the instructions of Paul, we might “suffer the shipwreck” of our faith as others who reject instruction. 1Tim1:19

Chapter 1: Warnings against False Teachings
Paul warns believers concerning false doctrines, myths and genealogies, which “promote empty speculations rather than God’s plan”. 1Tim1:4 In other words, as believers we should know better than to believe in myths, superstition, old wife’s tales, racist ideologies or any other type of story or doctrine contrary to the gospel message. Even if there is a claim that it is God’s message- don’t believe it. For example, there are some false religious cults that promote certain races as others- considering some races to be God’s chosen people. For example, Hitler and the Nazis, as well as other subtle cults such as Armstrongism and Mormonism, claim that Anglo Saxon white races have an advantage in God’s favor over others. They will go to great lengths to trace their ancestry as if it gives them an advantage. But as Jesus himself said, God can turn a stone and make it an ancestor of Abraham if he wished to. An unhealthy focus on geneology or ancestry is contrary to God’s will. Furthermore, do not believe anyone who places an unhealthy emphasis on the observance of the law either. Many modern cult groups do this as well. But, we know we can only be saved by faith in God’s grace- not our own merits- lest we rob the cross of its power. And to further expand upon the erroneous idea that one may be saved by the law- Paul goes on to explain that those under the curse of the law are the nonbelievers! Not the believers! The law is not meant for the believer but the nonbeliever: the unholy, irreverent, murderers, sexual immoral, homosexuals, fornicators, liars, and perjurers to name a few. Yet there is hope for such filthy people- as there was hope for Paul, all of us who used to be apart from God because Jesus came to this world to save sinners. He saved Paul and he saved us who believe as well.

Chapters 2 and 3: The Source of Church Teaching and Traditions

If you ever wonder why in church prayers are offered on the behalf of presidents and world leaders, its because Paul suggests that we pray for anyone in authority and power. This is because God wants everyone to come to come to the truth and be saved. Women should dress modestly, so as to not call attention to either their wealth of physical attributes. “Good works” serve much better as a cloak, than do expensive materials and jewelry. Women should not preach over a mixed congregation that includes men- this is not to demean women, but a recognition of God’s natural order. An overseer or leader of the church must have certain qualifications. For example he must have only one wife- which is obvious. Also how he manages his household must be considered as well- if he can’t even manage his household in a moral and competent matter, how can he be trusted in managing am entire church? Common sense tells us he shouldn’t be a new convert either, and have a good reputation as well. Deacons, another position of authority in the church, must meet the same qualifications as well. In general, leaders must have qualities consistent with biblical principles: self control, faithfulness, respectful, and honest… to name a few.

God was manifest in the flesh as Jesus, this is considered to be God’s great mystery which has been made known to us as believers and preached everywhere.

Chapter 4: Hold Fast to the Gospel Message

A few more points to remember about false teachings: if anyone tells you it is against God’s wishes to marry and to avoid certain foods- don’t believe this. “Everything God created is good, and nothing should be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving”. 1Tim4: 4 We must train ourselves in increasing our faith rather than doing works of pointless “sacrifice”. Regardless of your age, continue in your faith and the teaching of the gospel message. “Be conscientious of your teaching… for by doing this you will save both yourself and your hearers.” 1Tim4:16

Chapter 5: Interpersonal Relationship Advice

Paul offers practical advice in interpersonal relationships and church responsibilities: discipline, widows and elders are discussed. A warning is issued against the problem of favoritism and of the importance of avoiding the sins of others as well.

Chapter 6: Warnings Against False Teaching and Wealth

Once again, Paul places more emphasis concerning his disgust for false doctrine and pointless disputes from the first chapter. Concerning false teaching, Paul considers such individuals as “having a sick interest in disputes and arguments over words”. 1Tim6:4 And, furthermore, the consequences of these meaningless disputes which are encouraged by false doctrines and false teachers are quarreling, envy and evil suspicions, to name just a few! Furthermore Paul goes in to say that the individuals behind such arguments are “men whose minds are depraved and deprived of the truth” 1Tim6:5

We should remember to be content with the necessities of life: food and clothing. After all when we die, we can not take our wealth and material possessions with us! “But those who want to be rich fall into temptation, a trap, and many foolish and harmful desires, which plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil, and by craving it, some have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains”. 1Tim6:9-10 And furthermore, to those who are wealthy, Paul warns such people not to set their hope on wealth. Rather, he admonishes them to be generous with their wealth.

In closing, Paul emphasizes for the third time, to avoid “irreverent, empty speech” and false doctrines which are cleverly disguised as knowledge. Timothy, as well as every believer, is expected to seek righteousness and godliness. We are to “fight the good fight for the faith….to which you are called”. 1Tim6:12


Chapters 1and 2

Perseverance is Worth the Eternal Reward:

As in his first letter to Timothy, Paul emphasizes the same themes: enthusiasm for the gospel and warnings against false doctrines. “For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness but one of power, love and sound judgment.” 2Tim1:7. Therefore just as he said in his letter to the Romans, we should not be ashamed of the gospel message. Despite our fears, we need not worry even when faced with persecution, because the Holy Spirit will give us the strength we need to share the testimony of Jesus Christ.
Just as Paul declares he was appointed as an apostle/ teacher, we are called to spread the good news of the gospel with the same fearlessness as well! With the Holy Spirit we can get the strength we need to remain loyal and strong. Paul’s purpose is that he may share the message of God so that all those who believe may obtain salvation. Our suffering will pale in comparison to our eternal reward in heaven. Any suffering we endure for the sake of the Lord’s message will be more than worth it, in the end!

Avoid False Teachings and Disputes:

One of the favored pastimes is debating and disputing. This can happen with family, friends, church members and even strangers in an internet chat room! Most of these debates are driven out of selfish pride. Paul cannot emphasis this enough- concerning the dangers of false teachings and the disputes that follow, In fact, empty speech, false teaching and arguments do much to encourage godlessness. Concerning false teachers and their false words, Paul explains “their word will spread like gangrene” 2Tim2:17. What this means is that false teachings and the evil fruits of false teaching have the potential for much damage! Not only are false teachings something to avoid- it is important to flee from “foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing they breed quarrels”. Many think it is good to engage in debates, they take pride in their so called abilities to exchange words, and to prove themselves right. But Christians should never ever do this! “The lord’s slave (Christians) must not quarrel, but must be gentle with everyone, able to teach, and patient, instructing his opponents with gentleness” 2Tim2:24-25. It is up to God to act on a person’s spirit- an argument will not do it, only God. So even if you feel you are justified in arguing or debating with others concerning the bible, or whatever the case may be- remember that is not the way to win souls for Christ!

Chapter 3: Bad Behavior and Phony Religion

In the last days, “people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, slanderers, without self control, brutal, without love for what is good, traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to the form of religion but denying its power. Avoid these people!” 2Tim3:1-5

False Christians Condemned!

In addition to a long list of negative, yet common deplorable qualities we see in the world today, listed by Paul in this passage, the final one “holding to the form of religion, but denying its power” is among the most deceptive and prevalent danger of modern day society. Many people today claim to be religious- and in fact they may claim to be Christian, to boot! But, how many of these same so called “Christians” actually believe the words of the bible- very few! They are just phony “Christians”. How many of these self proclaimed, counterfeit “Christians” believe the gospel message? In fact many deny the bible to be true- saying it is no more real than a book of fairy tales, or Greek myths. Many household have bibles in their homes but do not even read them. Their bibles collect dust on the book shelf, or in dresser draws, held in the same esteem as Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Many individuals and families attend church services, yet they place more regard for man made tradition and philosophies than the very word of God! They will even show shame when confronted with the true message of God. Yet, they will attend religious ceremonies and religious rituals, not advocated by God. And by attending such blasphemous, idolatrous rituals they will feel they have satisfied their religious quota, feeling smug and righteous just like a Pharisee! Their false pius rituals will not save them, their phony righteous sacrifices and good works will not save them, their tithes and their money will not save them either! Their religion is false and empty, and it is these individuals and churches that will say “Lord, Lord” and in return, Jesus will say to them “depart from me for I never knew you”.

False Teachers and Imposters on the Loose in the Last Days

With the passage of time, we draw closer to the “Last Days”. This is not to be considered the same as a superstitious urgency that the end of the world is going to happen tomorrow. In fact, Paul warned the Thessalonians about this problem. Instead, Paul’s message is just to serve as a warning of what will come at the end times. Remember since the time of Jesus and Paul and the early Christian church, over 2000 years have passed. That is quite a bit have time. And it is obvious that even within the past generation and furthermore - even within the past twenty years, societal moral standards have relaxed and indecency has become more celebrated and prevalent in modern society than ever before in history! There are so many people who are spiritually dead- they are spiritual vacuums just waiting to engulf anything that meets their fancy. Those who are dissatisfied, idle, bored or angry are prime targets. The ignorant and naïve, and those with hardened hearts and “burdened down with sins, led by a variety of passions” are empty receptacles waiting to be filled with false teachings and doctrines. Beware of what you fill your mind with. If you don’t fill yourself on the truth of God, watch out, and be warned. Be on the watch because so many are caught off guard and fall prey to false teachings. “Evil people and imposters will become worse, deceiving and being deceived”. 2Tim3:13. But what is the solution for this? The answer is this: “Continue in what you have learned and firmly believed…that you have known the sacred scriptures, which are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Jesus”. 2Tim3: 14-15

Chapter 4:

In conclusion, Paul tells us:”proclaim the message: persist in it whether convenient or not”. He tells us that there will come a time, and that time is now, when people will not listen to the message of God, they will ignore sound doctrine in favor for whatever ridiculous teachings and popular ideas that suit their own selfish desires and needs.

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