Thursday, January 30, 2020

READ IT! - Introduction to Paul's Letter to Titus

Introduction to Paul's Letter to Titus 


Not mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles, Titus was noted in Galatians where Paul wrote of journeying to Jerusalem with Barnabas, accompanied by Titus. 

He was then dispatched to Corinth, Greece, where he successfully reconciled the Christian community there with Paul, its founder. 

Titus was later left on the island of Crete to help organize the Church, and later met back with the Apostle Paul in Nicopolis. He soon went to Dalmatia (now Croatia). 

According to Eusebius of Caesarea in the Ecclesiastical History, he served as the first bishop of Crete and remained there in his old years 

Chapter 1 

The letter opens with a salutation. It claims to be written by “Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ” to “further the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness— in the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time, and which now at his appointed season he has brought to light through the preaching entrusted to me by the command of God our Savior.” The letter is addressed to Titus, “my true son in our common faith.” A blessing of “grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior” is given. 

Paul reminds Titus that the reason he left him Crete was to finish the business of appointing elders in every town. 

He says that an elder (which is a gender-neutral term in the original Greek) must be… 

“Man of one woman” (this is the only phrase here that references gender)
Someone whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. 

He also says that
 since an overseer manages God’s household, they must be… 

Not overbearing
Not quick-tempered
Not given to drunkenness
Not violent
Not pursuing dishonest gain
One who loves what is good

And he also adds that they must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that they can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it. 

Paul then discusses the issue of Judaizers and false teachers in the Church. He says that there are many who should be silenced who teach lies for a profit – especially the circumcision group. And he points out ironically that one of Crete’s own prophets has said it: “Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons.” Paul agrees that this saying is true, and he commands Titus, “Therefore rebuke them sharply, so that they will be sound in the faith and will pay no attention to Jewish myths or to the merely human commands of those who reject the truth.”

And he adds, “To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him.” 

Chapter 2 

Paul then goes on to address issues of ethical conduct in the light of the “Eschaton”. He starts by telling Titus that he must teach what is “appropriate to sound doctrine.” He then gives ethical Instructions to various groups, starting with older men. He says they should be “temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance.” 

He then addresses the older women, saying that they should be “reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good.” 

He then addresses the younger women, saying that they should “love their husbands and children, be self-controlled and pure, be busy at home, be kind, and be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.”

He then addresses the younger men, saying that they should be self-controlled. And he tells Titus to set an example for the young men, saying, “In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.” 

Paul then addresses those who are slaves, saying, “Teach slaves to be subject to their masters in everything, to try to please them, not to talk back to them, and not to steal from them, but to show that they can be fully trusted, so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive.” 

Paul then talks about eschatological hope for all people, saying, “God’s grace that offers salvation to all people has appeared. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.” 

He then wraps up his instruction by telling Titus to… 

Teach theses things.
Encourage and rebuke with all authority.
Do not let anyone despise him. 

Chapter 3 

Paul then discusses doing good deeds before a watching world, first addressing respect for authority, saying, “Be subject to rulers and authorities, be obedient, be ready to do whatever is good, slander no one, be peaceable and considerate, and always be gentle toward everyone.” 

He then talks about our response to Jesus and the concept of regeneration. He says, “We used to also be deceived and were slaves of sin. But we were saved when God’s kindness appeared, and not because of our good deeds. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.” 

Paul then discusses the responsibility of Titus, saying, “Stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.” 

Paul instructs him to reject foolish controversies, saying, “Avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless. Warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them because they are warped and self-condemned.” 

He then instructs him to provide for God’s people, and addresses the issue of the transition of leadership in Crete, saying, “As soon as I send Artemas or Tychicus to you, do your best to come to me at Nicopolis, because I have decided to winter there.” 

He also mentions the issue of practicing hospitality toward itinerant preachers, saying, “Do everything you can to help Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their way and see that they have everything they need.” 

He then talks about providing for the Elders in the Body of Christ, saying, “Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order to provide for urgent needs and not live unproductive lives.” 

He then offers his final greeting and benediction, saying, “Everyone with me sends you greetings. Greet those who love us in the faith. Grace be with you all.”

Monday, January 27, 2020

READ IT! - Introduction to 2nd Timothy 2-4

Readings for this week

Monday: 2 Timothy 2
Tuesday: 2
 Timothy 3
Wednesday: 2
 Timothy 4
Titus 1
Titus 2
Titus 3
Sunday: Haggai

Introduction to 2nd Timothy 2-4

Chapter 2

Paul addresses Timothy’s external (public) responsibility. He talks about how he should serve with a purpose, and instructs him to be strong in grace and teach the teachers what he has publicly proclaimed. 

He instructs him to remain single-minded, saying, “Suffer with me like a soldier for Christ, not meddling in civilian affairs but always trying to please your commanding officer… or like an athlete competing by the rules to be crowned the victor.” 

He instructs him to work consistently and to endure so that Christ will stand by him, and he discusses being a prisoner for the Gospel, saying, “Reflect on this: The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops. Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel, for which I am suffering. Though I am chained, God’s word is not chained – that’s why I endure everything… for the sake of those Christ chose for salvation and eternal glory.” 

He then offers a “trustworthy saying”: 

If we died with him, 
we will also live with him;
if we endure,
we will also reign with him.
If we disown him,
he will also disown us;
if we are faithless,
he remains faithful,
for he cannot disown himself. 

He also instructs him to be diligent, saying, “Remind God’s people not to fight over words because it does nothing but ruin those who listen. Try your best to be presented before God as one who doesn’t need to be ashamed and who correctly handled the word of truth.” 

He instructs him to avoid empty argument, saying, “Avoid the godless chatter of teachers whose words spread like gangrene.” He then gives the specific examples of Hymenaeus and Philetus, saying that they “have departed from the truth by saying the resurrection has already taken place, and they are destroying some peoples’ faith.” 

Paul instructs Timothy to rely on God, saying, “Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: ‘The Lord knows those who are his,’ and, ‘Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.’” 

He instructs him to be set apart, and he recounts the parable of the clean vessel: 

“In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use. Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.” 

He instructs him to pursue righteousness, saying, “Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels.” 

He instructs him to be a gentle servant, saying, “The Lord’s servant mustn’t be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.”

Chapter 3 

Paul then discusses the need to stand strong in the future, saying that apostasy will come. He says that there will be terrible times in the last days, and he describes lifestyles in the future, saying that people will be… 

Lovers of themselves
Lovers of money
Disobedient to their parents
Without love
Without self-control
Not lovers of the good
Lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God
Having a form of godliness but denying its power 

Paul tells Timothy to have nothing to do with such people. 

He then recounts specific examples from the Hebrew Bible of people like this – Jannes and Jambres – saying they are the kind who… 

Worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women
Are loaded down with sins
Are swayed by all kinds of evil desires
Are always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. 

He says that just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these teachers oppose the truth. 

He adds: 

"They are men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected. But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone." 

Paul then tells Timothy about tools to confront Apostasy. Paul first tells him to follow his own example, since he already knows all about his… 

Way of life

He says that he already knows about the kinds of things that happened to him in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, and the persecutions he endured… yet the Lord rescued him from all of them. 

Paul tells him to expect persecution, saying, “Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. Evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.” 

He instructs him to remember what he was taught, saying, “Continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of because you’ve known since you were born those who taught you the Scriptures that make you wise for salvation through faith in Jesus.” 

He instructs him to rely upon the Scriptures, saying, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 

Chapter 4 

He instructs him to preach the Gospel, saying, “In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 

He also warns him that people will not want to listen to truth, saying, “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.”

Paul again points his own personal example of being hopeful in the face of death and being content in his life, saying, “For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” 

And he talks about how he is hopeful in the future, saying, “Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” 

Paul then talks more about his current situation and his desire for companionship, saying, “Do your best to come to me quickly, for Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry. I sent Tychicus to Ephesus.” 

He also mentions how he continues to study, requesting, “When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, and my scrolls, especially the parchments.” 

He warns against those who oppose the faith, saying, “Alexander the metalworker did me a great deal of harm. The Lord will repay him for what he has done. You too should be on your guard against him, because he strongly opposed our message.” 

But he also forgives those who abandoned him, saying, “At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them.” 

And he describes how he has been strengthened in the Lord, saying, “But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”

He then offers his closing greetings, asking Timothy to first greet his supporters Priscilla and Aquila and the household of Onesiphorus. 

He then offers news of friends informing that Erastus stayed in Corinth, and that he left Trophimus sick in Miletus. 

He then calls on Timothy one last time to come to him, saying, “Do your best to get here before winter. Eubulus greets you, and so do Pudens, Linus, Claudia and all the brothers and sisters.” 

And he offers his final blessing: 

The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you all.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

READ IT! - Introduction to 2nd Timothy 1

Introduction to 2nd Timothy 1 


The language and ideas of this epistle are notably different from the other two Pastoral letters yet similar to the later Pauline letters, especially the ones he wrote in captivity. This has led some scholars to conclude that the author of 2 Timothy is a different person from 1 Timothy and Titus. Some speculate that this letter was written by a follower of Paul who had knowledge of Paul's last days. 

Others, however, have argued that this epistle was written by Paul and that the other two pastoral epistles were written by someone else using this epistle as a model, and that it is the only still-extant letter written by Paul after Romans.

Portions of 2 Timothy parallel the Epistle to the Philippians, also believed to be written (with Timothy's help) near the time of Paul's death. 

Based on the traditional view that 2 Timothy was Paul's final epistle, chapter 4 mentions about how Demas, formerly considered a "fellow worker", had deserted him for Thessalonica, "having loved this present world". In sharp contrast to his dispute with Barnabas over Mark, which resulted in the two parting ways, Paul now considered Mark to be "profitable to the ministry". The chapter also features the only Biblical mention of Linus, who in Roman Catholic tradition is listed as Peter's immediate successor as Bishop of Rome. 

Chapter 1 

The letter opens by claiming to be written by “Paul, an apostle of Christ” to Timothy, “my dear son”. A blessing of “grace, mercy and peace” is given. Paul thanks God for Timothy and says he prays day and night for him. He says he remembers his tears and longs to see him again in joy. 

Paul says he remembers his sincere faith which began in his grandmother Lois and in his mother Eunice. 

Paul reminds Timothy to fan the flame of God’s gift which he received when he laid hands on him. He says, “The Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” 

He says, “Don’t be ashamed to talk about the Lord or me, his prisoner. Join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God.” 

He says: 

“He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher.” 

Paul then points to his own example in trusting in Christ. He says, “That’s why I’m suffering, but I’m not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed and at the end of the last day I trust him.” 

He instructs Timothy: 

“Teach what I taught you – guard what you received through the Holy Spirit who lives in us.” 

Paul then discusses standing in the face of rejection. Paul says that everyone in the province of Asia has deserted him, including Phygelus and Hermogenes. 

Paul asks God to show mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, on the last day, because he often refreshed him and was not ashamed of his chains. When he was in Rome, he even searched hard for Paul, and he was very helpful in Ephesus.

Monday, January 20, 2020

READ IT! - Introduction to Paul’s First Letter to Timothy

Readings for this week

Monday: 1 Timothy 1
1 Timothy 2
1 Timothy 3
1 Timothy 4
1 Timothy 5
1 Timothy 6
Sunday: 2
 Timothy 1

Introduction to Paul’s First Letter to Timothy 


This historical relationship between Paul and Timothy is one of mentorship.

Paul's second visit to Lystra is when Timothy first connected with Paul. Paul not only brought Timothy into the faith but he was Timothy’s main mentor in Christian leadership, having done church planting and missionary journeys together. Timothy would have received his authority to preach in churches directly from Paul who of course was the greater known and accepted of the two and an apostle. 

Timothy’s official position in the church was one of an evangelist and he worked with Paul in Phrygia, Galatia, and Mysia, Troa, Philippi and Berea and continued on to do even more work in Athens, and Thessalonica for the church not to mention his work in Corinth, Macedonia, Ephesus and greater Asia. Timothy was also noted for coming to Paul’s aid when Paul fell into prison. 

It is noteworthy that, despite not being required due the ruling of the Jerusalem council, Timothy took circumcision himself in order to be a better witness among the Jews. 

According to church tradition he was loyal to Paul’s wishes and stayed and worked in Ephesus until he finally suffered a martyr's death himself. 

“The Pastorals are distinguished from all other New Testament letters in that they are addressed ... to a special functional class within the church, namely, the professional ministry. Thus these letters occupy the unique distinction of being not simply the only letters in the New Testament to be addressed primarily to clergymen, but also of being in this sense the first extant pastoral letters—that is, letters written by a pastor to pastors—in the history of the church.” 


The dating of 1st Timothy depends very much on the question of authorship. Those who accept the epistle's authenticity believe it was written soon after Paul left Ephesus, which he did twice according to the Acts of the Apostles. This dates the epistle to either about the year 58 or 59, or about the year 64 or 65 AD.

Nineteenth and twentieth century scholarship questioned the authenticity of the letter, with many scholars suggesting that 1st Timothy, along with 2nd Timothy and Titus, are not original to Paul, but rather to an unknown Christian writing some time in the late-first-to-mid-2nd century. Evidence for this perspective is that the Pastoral Epistles contain 306 words that Paul does not use in his unquestioned letters, their style of writing is different from that of his unquestioned letters, they reflect conditions and a church organization not current in Paul's day, and they do not appear in early lists of his canonical works. 

The text seems to be contending against nascent Gnosticism, which would suggest a later date due to Gnosticism developing primarily in the latter 1st century. The term Gnosis ("knowledge") itself occurs in 1 Timothy 6:20. If the parallels between 1 Timothy and Polycarp's epistle are understood as a literary dependence by the latter on the former, as is generally accepted, this would mean the latest possible date of writing would be AD 130–155. However, Irenaeus (writing c.AD 180) is the earliest author to clearly and unequivocally describe the Pastorals. 

Chapter 1 

The letter opens with a salutation. It claims to be written by the apostle Paul to Timothy “my true son in the faith.” A blessing of “grace, mercy and peace” is given. 

There is then a warning against false teachers. Paul tells Timothy to stay in Ephesus (same instruction as when Paul was in Macedonia) in order to make sure certain people don’t teach false doctrines anymore. Paul also tells Timothy to tell these people to not “devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies” which “promote controversial speculations rather than advancing God’s work.” The goal of this command is love coming from a pure heart and good conscience and sincere faith. He says that some who want to teach the law have turned to meaningless talk and don’t know what they are talking about.

Paul then talks about the right use of the law. He says that we know that the law is good if one uses it properly, and that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers. 

The law was made for… 

The ungodly
The sinful
The unholy
The irreligious
Those who kill their fathers or mothers
Pornois (or fornicators)
Arsenokoitais (combining two terms referring to “man” and euphemistic “sleeping”)
Slave traders
Anything contrary to the Gospel 

Paul then discusses his own experience of grace. Paul says he’s thankful to Jesus for allowing him to serve and for showing him mercy and grace even though he was once a violent blasphemer. 

He then offers “a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance”: 

“Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.” 

Paul then repeats his Charge to Timothy. He tells him to remember the prophecies made about him so that he will fight well to hold onto his faith and keep a good conscience. He says he’s handed certain people like Hymenaeus and Alexander “over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme” because they have not kept a good conscience and have subsequently shipwrecked their faith.

Chapter 2 

Paul then gives instructions on how to repair the Church. First, he addresses public worship, starting with the topic of prayer. Paul says it pleases God for us to pray for all people about all things… including kings and those in authority to bring about a life of peace. Paul says God wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. He says, “For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people.” Paul says this is the whole reason why he was appointed an apostle to the Gentles. 

He then addresses the roles of men and women in public worship. To the men he says: Pray in a holy manner, for all men should pray without anger. To the women he says: Conduct yourselves quietly, and dress modestly, not lavishly - clothing yourselves with good deeds. 

Paul says that when these Ephesian women in the church are being taught, then they should be quiet in order to listen and learn in submission to the teacher. Paul says that these women should not be allowed to teach or have authority over the men who are already teachers there. Paul then references the Creation narratives in Genesis as an example of a woman who came after a man… and also as an example of a woman who was deceived and sinned. Like Eve, these women are deceived and are leading the men astray in their attempt to be first. Paul then adds that “women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety”. 

What does Paul mean when he says that “women will be saved through childbirth”? 

He is referring to a phenomena that took place in the city of Ephesus in the time that Timothy was living there. The Ephesians believed that Artemis would protect women who were in childbirth, and according to some records 250,000 women each year would come to the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus for such protection. Childbirth was a bigger deal in the ancient and classical world than it is today because back then most women died in childbirth. So what Paul is actually saying to the Ephesian women of Timothy’s congregation is that Jesus will save them “through the ordeal” of childbirth, and that they should not put their hopes and trust in Artemis. He is not saying that bearing children is what saves women. 

Chapter 3 

Paul then gives instructions on church leadership. He first discusses the qualifications of the “overseers” (which is a gender-neutral term in the original Greek). 

He offers another “trustworthy saying”: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task. 

Paul then lists the qualifications of an overseer: 

To be above reproach 
“Man of one woman” (this is the only phrase referencing gender) 
Able to teach
Not given to drunkenness
Not violent
Not quarrelsome
Not a lover of money
Manage their own family well
Their children obey them because they are worthy of respect
Not a recent convert… in order to avoid conceit and judgment
Have a good reputation with outsiders… in order to avoid disgrace and the devil’s traps 

Paul then lists the qualifications of “deacons” (which is also a gender-neutral term in the original Greek). In the same way, deacons are to be… 

Worthy of respect
Not indulging in much wine
Not pursuing dishonest gain
They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience
They must first be tested before being allowed to serve 

He then specifically addresses women who are deacons, saying that they should be… 

Worthy of respect
Not malicious talkers
Trustworthy in everything 

He then says of deacons in general that they must be… 

“Man of one woman” (again the only phrase he uses referencing gender)
Must manage their children and their household well 

He says, “Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus.” 

Paul wraps this part up by saying he hopes to visit soon but wanted to send church instructions in case he was delayed, and he adds that the church is the pillar and foundation of the truth. 

He then sings a hymn to Christ, saying that “beyond all question, the mystery from which true godliness springs is great”:

He appeared in the flesh,
was vindicated by the Spirit,
was seen by angels,
was preached among the nations,
was believed on in the world,
was taken up in glory. 

Chapter 4 

Paul then talks about truth in the Church and apostasy. Paul says that the Spirit teaches that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. He says that these teachings gain traction because of hypocrites and liars. 

He then provides some specific examples of their false teachings: 

They forbid people to marry
They order people to abstain from certain foods 

Paul says that all things, including food, were created by God and should be received with thanksgiving by those who know the truth through the word of God and prayer. 

He then discusses Timothy’s personal responsibilities. Paul tells Timothy to point all these things out to the brothers and sisters, and to avoid “godless myths and old wives’ tales.” He tells him to train himself in godliness like an athlete… but with a better reward than physical fitness in this life and the next. 

He then offers another “trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance”: That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe. 

Paul says to Timothy, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you.”

He tells him to persevere so that both he and those who hear him will be saved.

Chapter 5 

Paul then talks about dealing with different groups in the Church. In regard to all men and women of all ages, he tells Timothy to not be harsh or impure with anyone, “but treat all like a father, mother, brother, or sister.” 

He then discusses widows specifically, starting with older widows. He tells Timothy to take care of needy widows, but if the widow has kids or grandkids they ought to be taking care of her if their faith is serious. He says, “The widow who is really in need and left all alone puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help. But the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives.” 

He adds: 

“No widow may be put on the list of widows unless she is over sixty, has been faithful to her husband, and is well known for her good deeds, such as bringing up children, showing hospitality, washing the feet of the Lord’s people, helping those in trouble and devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds.” 

Paul then discusses younger widows, telling Timothy not to put young widows on the list because their desire is still to remarry… often to the point of forgetting the pledge they made to Christ. He says not to put young widows on the list who are idle and go from house to house being busybodies and talking nonsense. Paul encourages young widows to remarry and have kids and to manage their homes well so that they won’t be open to slander… but he adds that he knows that some have already begun to follow Satan. 

He adds: 

“If any woman who is a believer has widows in her care, she should continue to help them and not let the church be burdened with them, so that the church can help those widows who are really in need.” 

Paul then discusses the office of “elder” (which is a gender-neutral term in the original Greek). He first discusses the reward of elders, saying that elders who lead the church, especially in preaching and teaching, should be highly honored. And he quotes Scripture saying, “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain,” and “The worker deserves his wages.” 

He then discusses the reputation of elders, saying not to entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses. But he adds that those elders who are sinning are to be reproved before everyone, so that the others may take warning. 

Paul then discusses prospective elders saying to follow his instructions and not to show favoritism, saying, “Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, and do not share in the sins of others. Keep yourself pure.” 

He then gives a personal instruction to Timothy regarding his health, saying, “Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses.” 

He also adds: 

“The sins of some are obvious, reaching the place of judgment ahead of them; the sins of others trail behind them. In the same way, good deeds are obvious, and even those that are not obvious cannot remain hidden forever.” 

Chapter 6 

Paul then discusses the role of slaves in the Church. Paul says slaves should respect their masters, especially if their masters are believers, and that masters who believe should be devoted to the welfare of their slaves. 

He then addresses false teachers, saying that if anyone does not agree with these instructions they are conceited and ignorant. 

He says that they display their ignorance and conceit when they… 

Have an unhealthy interest in controversies
Quarrel about words that result in envy and strife
Are malicious talkers
Have evil suspicions
Have constant friction between people of corrupt mind
Have been robbed of the truth
Think that godliness is a means to financial gain 

Paul says contentment is a great thing because we are born with nothing and die with nothing. Paul says he is happy to just have food and clothing because people who want to be rich are trapped by their desires and fall from the faith into ruin and grief. He says, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.”

Paul tells Timothy to flee from evil and pursue… 


Paul tells him to fight the good fight of the faith and take hold of the eternal life to which he was called when he made his public confession… just as Christ made his public confession before Pontius Pilate. He says to keep this command until Christ returns in God’s timing. 

He then offers a benediction: 

“God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen.” 

Paul then add a final word to the wealthy: 

“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.” 

And he says to Timothy: 

“Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care. Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, which some have professed and in so doing have departed from the faith.” 

He ends his letter by saying: 

“Grace be with you all.”

Monday, January 13, 2020

READ IT! - Introduction to Nehemiah 7-13

Readings for this week

Monday: Nehemiah 7
Tuesday: Nehemiah 8
Wednesday: Nehemiah 9
Thursday: Nehemiah 10
Friday: Nehemiah 11
Saturday: Nehemiah 12
Sunday: Nehemiah 13

Introduction to Nehemiah 7-13

Tobiah keeps threatening Nehemiah after the walls are built, so Nehemiah organizes soldiers to defend Jerusalem and he puts his brother Hanani in charge. 

Later on, the poor people of Jerusalem cry out Nehemiah for help, and Nehemiah rebukes the officials who had oppressed them. And Nehemiah ends up being appointed governor. 

At this point, the character of Ezra is reintroduced, and he reads the Law to the people. And all of the people listen attentively to the whole thing. 

Ezra presents a summary of God’s faithfulness throughout history: 

He brought Abraham up out of Ur. 
He performed signs and wonders in Egypt and rescued His people from Pharaoh.
He came down on Mount Sinai.
He gave them bread from heaven and water from the rock.
He guided them with cloud and fire in the wilderness even though they worshiped the golden calf.
He led them to the Promised Land.
He sent judges to rescue them from enemies.
He sent prophets to lead them on the right path.
He did not abandon them even when they were exiled by the Babylonians for their sin. 

After this, all the people sign a contract promising to be faithful to the Covenant.

The work concludes with Nehemiah’s final reforms. 

The Book of Moses was read to the people, and they heard the story about Balaam, and they decided they had better send away all the foreigners living in the land. 

At some point, Nehemiah went back to serve Artaxerxes for awhile, and when he returned he found out that Tobiah – an enemy – was working in the Temple, so he sent him away. 

He also discovered that the Levites and Temple musicians had not been adequately paid in his absence, so he compensated them. And he rebuked the officials for neglecting the Temple. 

He also yelled at and “pulled out the hair” of the men who had married pagan women and whose children knew nothing of their Jewish heritage. 

Nehemiah warned the people not to follow in the ways of Solomon, and the book concludes with him asking God to remember him with favor.

Monday, January 6, 2020

READ IT! - Introduction to Nehemiah 1-6

Readings for this week

Monday: Ezra 10
Tuesday: Nehemiah 1
Wednesday: Nehemiah 2
Thursday: Nehemiah 3
Friday: Nehemiah 4
Saturday: Nehemiah 5
Sunday: Nehemiah 6

Introduction to Nehemiah 1-6

The books of Ezra and Nehemiah were originally one united work written during Persian dominance over the world.


Ezra 1:1–6:22 – Rebuilding the Temple
Ezra 7:1–10:44 – Reforming the Community
Nehemiah 1:1–7:73 – Rebuilding the city wall
Nehemiah 8:1–10:39 – Hearing and doing the Law
Nehemiah 11:1–13:31 – Further reforms by Nehemiah

Chapters 1-6

In the second half of this unified work, we see the character of Nehemiah introduced. He was a contemporary of Ezra and was cupbearer to King Artaxerxes of Persia.

At this point, Jerusalem had not yet been rebuilt, and so the Book of Nehemiah focuses mainly on the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s walls, and King Artaxerxes grants Nehemiah special permission to return to Jerusalem with another wave of exiles to rebuild the walls.

But unfortunately, some opposition arises to this work as well. Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite and Gesham the Arab are the chief opposition. Sanballat and Tobiah mock and threaten the builders, and so Nehemiah posts guards and tells the people to carry a shovel in one hand and in the other hand a spear.

Sanballat, Tobiah, and Gesham invite Nehemiah over for a meal, but Nehemiah knows it’s a trap.

They also write a letter to Nehemiah, saying that pretty soon the people of Jerusalem will proclaim someone king and Artaxerxes will be jealous. But Nehemiah says, “…you are just making it up out of your head.”

They also hire a false prophet to tell Nehemiah to run away and hide, but Nehemiah doesn’t fall for it.

The wall was amazingly completed in only 52 days.