Two weeks from now I will once again have the privilege of sharing God’s word with others. I will be sharing the life of the Apostle Paul and the wonder of redemption, dedication and single minded perseverance that were the qualities of one of the greatest purveyors of the Good News in the early church. Our bible study will cover some thirty or more years of his ministry and we will travel some 10,282 miles he covered in four journeys as he served God and preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I am not an Apostle nor am I Timothy, a loyal disciple of Paul and it is from this Book of 2 Timothy chapter Three vv. 10-17 that this blog is inspired.
This world will never be perfect but in my seventy plus years I feel overwhelmed by the contrasts of human behavior that shape how I live and try to influence my behavior and the principles I live by. I love to study and read the bible, I find peace within its words and take comfort in the promises made by our Lord, resting in the promises and the assurances of a better day to come. Paul in these verses from Chapter Three lists the duties and the qualities of an Apostle in this letter to Timothy. I am struggling to find a word that best expresses who or what we need to be or do that fits all of us who choose to walk in the Way. I think the word I am looking for would be Disciple. The Greek word is parakolouthein and literally means to follow alongside but it means much more. It means to follow someone physically, Mentally and spiritually and to put it simply, with the complete obedience of a dedicated servant. It is Paul’s belief that there are certain duties, qualities and experiences that both an Apostle and a disciple share, things which are common to their ministries. First the duties which he, Paul, considers to be a shared responsibility of their ministry.
-Teaching – We cannot teach those things we do not know. We must prepare ourselves through study, prayer and divine leading to know the Glory and the story of Jesus Christ. Even after much study we will find ourselves lacking if we do not know Christ ourselves. Have we as a person experienced the forgiveness, redemption and infilling of the Holy Spirt? Have we had our Damascus Road experience?
-Training – Christian life is not only knowing something but should consist of living what we know and believe. Telling the story of Christ is just the start, we should also be training others to live in the Way, to be an example of the faith and what it means to live for Christ.
- Life – As Christians, what is the aim of our life? What is it we are trying to communicate to people? Is it solely knowledge or is it life? What do we think will be the most useful to them? I will say life because without it there is no goal, no reason to be. From a Christian standpoint, Jesus Christ is life, therefore our purpose, our aim, should be to tell the world about Him.
- Paul then speaks of faith, faith that God will do what he says he will do. He alludes to the importance of patience. People will always do stupid things and in some instances evil things but we must have the patience to forgive them just as we have been forgiven. That requires the love that our God has for all people. God loves and forgives all our human follies. It is the Christian’s duty to have the patience born of the love of God to forgive. It is important to acknowledge that only God can enable us to do that.
Paul has shared with Timothy some of the experiences he has encountered in his mission to share the good News. He then speaks to the quality of endurance which has a most wonderful meaning in the Greek. It is not an attitude of bearing things, being passive in the face of challenges but rather facing those challenges in a way that from evil can come hope, good things and a better day. It is not a matter of accepting what life throws at you but stepping forward and taking control of your life. I like the way William Barclay puts it. It is an attitude of conquering endurance because as a person of the faith and the way, persecution will be a large part of your experience in your ministry. Timothy has seen first hand what Paul has shared with him and Paul has kept nothing back but to Timothy’s credit and strength of character he never hesitated to join with Paul in the ministry. We move on from these passages with the assurance of these things. Persecutions, will always be part of a Christian life and the ungodly will continue to sow the seeds of sin. There is no good that comes from a life of sin and those who refuse to accept the way of God have no future here or in the life to come.
The last three of these verses also completes chapter three. Timothy’s mother was a Jew married to a Greek. It is reasonable to assume that Timothy’s knowledge of Jewish law was instilled in him via his mother and grandmother. Two points to make here…. The first being that Timothy from his earliest childhood had known the sacred writings and we secondly remember that the New Testament had yet to be written and Paul was imparting not only what he knew from his spiritual enlightenment but also scripture from the Old Testament. Here in these last verses he stresses the usefulness of Scripture.
-Scripture opens the way to God, it has the wisdom of the Saints and most importantly is the Word of God. Scriptures hold the key to the book of life here and of the life to come.
- Scriptures are to be used to teach. They provide accounts of the life of Jesus and paint a picture of his ministry as written in the New Testament. This is the place where we get first hand accounts of Jesus and his teachings. The church today would find it impossible to teach without the gospels.
- The Scriptures are valuable for reproof. They are not meant to find fault but are to be used to convince people of the error of their ways and point out the better way to live this life. They can when shared with love and patience convince others of the power of Christ.
-Using Scriptures for correction: Wherever we go in the world today there are many theories, theologies, ethics or just plain opinions that seek to influence or even test our faith. We should use Scriptures to test all of these, do they contradict the teachings of the Bible? Are they in agreement with the teachings of Jesus Christ as put forth in Scripture?
We must study the Scriptures to equip ourselves to serve, to bring the power of the word to those who are lost. Certainty such study will improve our own knowledge and strengthen our faith but the bottom line must be a burning desire to serve and save others. Have a great week in the faith and may the word be with you.
Life is Good