Apr 01 2017

77. THE TWO EPISTLES TO TIMOTHY, part 3

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The Two Epistles of St. Paul to Timothy

(Part 3)

Chapter 1 (contd.)

  1. Timothy’s service in Ephesus, which Paul had assigned (1:3 – 11)

Saint Paul starts his letter with the assignment with which he had charged Timothy in Ephesus, through which Paul had passed on his way to Macedonia (the Book of Acts, though, makes no mention of this detail). It is clear that circumstances required his going, and remaining, there, to resist the heresies and false doctrines which some had promulgated, giving rise to arguments (1 Tim. 6:4, 20 and 2 Tim. 2:23); he also needed to prevent church divisions, and to maintain the church’s peace.

Although … the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith, …” (1 Tim. 1:5), there were some who offered different doctrines, causing disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith.” Here, he is referring to “fables” (1 Tim. 1:4 and 2 Tim. 4:4), meaning stories, legends and ideas (such as “Gnosticism”), pro-claimed by pagans, as well as “endless geneal-ogies,” meaning boasting of Jewish ancestry and ideologies by those “desiring to be teachers of the law, understanding neither what they say nor the things which they affirm,” (1 Tim. 1:4 & 7) despite the fact that, fundamentally, “the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good” (Rom. 7:12) when the spirit of the law, rather the letter, is practiced. The prohibitions and penalties given in the Mosaic Law (and in civil laws) are not for the God-fearing righteous; rather, they are “for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, … for fornicators” (breakers of the sixth and seventh commandments), “… for kidnappers …” (slave dealers and those who kidnap and demand ransom – breakers of the eighth commandment), “… for perjurers …” (breakers of the ninth commandment which prohibits bearing false witness), and anyone opposing sound doctrine.

  1. Saint Paul’s thanksgiving for God’s grace which transformed him from a heretic and a persecutor to an apostle of Jesus Christ (1:12 – 17)

Sound doctrine is doctrine “according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God” (1 Tim. 11 and 2 Cor. 4:4). Turning to his personal exper-ience at this point, Paul says that the gospel had been entrusted to him (Galatians 2:9); he thanks the Lord Jesus Who strengthened him through His grace (Phil. 4:13), and trusted him to undertake this service, despite his having been a blasphemer (he spoke against Christ), a persecutor (of the Church of Christ), and an insolent man (mercilessly arrogant in his own abilities) – (Acts 9:10-19) – (Paul had mentioned this previously in Gal. 1:13). Nevertheless, Paul was confident that he had “… obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.” (1 Tim. 1:13)

Paul experienced God’s exceedingly abundant grace,1 coupled with “faith and love which are in Christ Jesus,” through church members such as Ananias (Acts 9:10 – 19), and Barnabas (Acts 9:26 – 28) who supported him despite the fear and apprehension of other church members. God’s abundant grace trans-ported Paul from darkness to light, and from blasphemy to evangelization in Christ’s name (1 Cor. 15:10); he thus tells Timothy: This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.” (1 Tim. 1:15)

Saint Paul fully appreciated the difference between his state prior to, and after, his conversion. Consequently, he was not ashamed to expose his past, which he could not ignore: “… my sin is always before me …” (Psalm 51:3). He also appreciated the extent to which he had strayed in the past; he thus sees himself, after encountering Christ, as the chief of sinners. He thus referred to himself among the Apostles as … last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time. For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.” (1 Cor. 15:8 & 9)

Furthermore, Paul says that God had mercy upon him “… that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life.” (1 Tim. 1:16) This means that, since the grace of God transformed someone as Saul, in his previous life, and tolerated his insolence and perversion with much longsuffering, then other sinners must remain hopeful for a share in eternal life through Christ’s grace and longsuffering.

The magnitude of Paul’s humility and faith can be seen clearly in his depicting himself as the least of all the apostles and the chief sinner, although he gave himself up unto death, and evangelized in his Master’s name throughout the ancient world: from Jerusalem to Rome (and likely Spain). He is the perfect example of a true servant to all believers.

He concludes by glorifying God … the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise [see also Rom. 16:25 – 27], be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Tim. 1:17)

  1. Exhortation to resist heresies (1:18 – 20)

Saint Paul entrusts to his “son” Timothy the instruction of fighting strongly against all deviations “as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (2 Tim. 2:3) in accordance with the edicts (prophecies) of Church leaders, and supported by an upright faith and a good conscience. The absence of such a good conscience leads to breakup of the ship of a person’s faith, and to its being swallowed up by the world’s waves, as was the case with Hymenaeus (2 Tim. 2:17), originator of the false doctrine concerning resurrection, and Alexander (probably Alexander the coppersmith mentioned in 2 Tim. 4:14), who caused much harm to Paul. Paul punished them by excom-municating them, thus leaving their fate to the world and Satan its ruler; Satan would thus chastise them in the flesh – thus deterring them from blasphemy. 2

Chapter 2

  1. Asking prayers for leaders and those in authority (2:1- 3)

Saint Paul resumes his service-related instructions to Bishop Timothy. His first priority is that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men.” Supplications may be addressed to God or men; but prayers and intercessions (hence, petitions) are made to God alone. We give thanks to God at all times and under all circumstances, in our hearts and prayers; however, we can also thank men in recognition of services rendered, support, or kind words.

Specifically, we offer prayers to God entreating Him on behalf of kings or rulers (whether believers or atheists), as well as on behalf of all those occupying positions of authority in the state3, in order that God grant them wisdom for ruling justly among citizens. This will lead to internal peace, and evade disruptions, hatred, enmity and wars with neighbors. Consequently, another favorable outcome is that citizens will lead peaceable and tranquil lives; godliness will also reign in believers’ lives, facilitating their conducting themselves with dignity, being “temperate in all things,” (1 Cor. 9:25), following God’s precepts, and refraining from degeneracy and promiscuity. (To be contd.)

Saint Mark’s Orthodox Fellowship urges you to study the Bible and encourage others to do the same. Please feel free to make copies of these notes to distribute them. The Fellowship welcomes any questions, or comments.
Write to us (or comment/email on SMOF websites):PO Box 6192, Columbia, MD 21045

Footnotes:

  1. “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” (1 Cor. 15:10)
  2. Another case, mentioned in Saint Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthians, pertains to punishing a church member, who committed adultery with his father’s wife. Saint Paul thus wrote to the church: “In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit (because he was absent), with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, deliver such a one to Satan for the destruct-ion of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” The purpose was to isolate that person, have him repent, and protect Christ’s congregation. (1 Corinthians 5:1 – 8) Saint Paul himself had such an experience: “… a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure …” This experience, which God had permitted, was a blessing throughout Paul’s life: “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor. 12:1 – 10)
  3. In his epistle to the Romans, St. Paul emphasizes that our conscience, rather than fear, should motivate us to submit to rulers, because “… the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore, whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, … ” Furthermore, the ruler is “… God’s minister to you for good.” (Rom. 13:1, 2 & 4) The Bible also requires us to pray even for oppressive rulers, in order that their oppressive load be lightened, and that they return to their senses. (1 Peter 2:18)

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