Tuesday, September 29, 2009

1 Timothy - Some thoughts

Bible scholars tend to agree that Paul's letters to Timothy and Titus (three letters) form a distinct group. They are all different from his other letters, except for Philemon, as they are addressed to churches. In most of his epistles, he talked about doctrines in the first half and practical issues in the second. But in these three letters, it is practical from the word 'go'.

Due to the different style, contents and timeline, there are doubts to Paul's authorship. Please read Page 1085 of "Unlocking the Bible" to see Pawson's argument that lays that doubt to rest. Good read.

It's an amazing practical book. Let me share two thoughts

1 Tim 2:1-4
I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

When we read this in the context of our present political system, not perfect, but plausible request and totally within our capacity humanly to pray. That is until we begin to recognize the times that Apostle Paul lived in. Emperor Nero was in power and this was one of the most difficult times Christians lived under. Go here to see how Christians were tortured and killed for something they were accused of to deflect the accusation against Emperor Nero for burning down three quarter of the city of Rome in 64 A.D. Many were killed by wild animals before crowds of spectators in the arena, while others were tied to posts, covered with flammable material, and used as human street lamps for Nero's gardens. It is difficult to imagine a more evil man.

Now, Paul is exhorting to us pray for those in authority. How and why did he do that? Humanly speaking, we would have prayed for the judgment of God on such oppressive leaders. But, Apostle Paul, with all the graciousness of a man in the Lord, did this with the perspective of a larger picture - that all men might be saved. He knew the Kingdom of God was larger than himself and he was prepared not to be distracted by the crisis of the moment. Do we know how to see beyond ourselves in the midst of great difficulties? It is learning to live above the circumstances and not under them!

1 Timothy 3 is a great chapter as a checklist in our leadership capacity. Here's a summary taken from the NIV Study Bible. Ask yourself, can you place a tick next to each qualification. Give it a try.

Qualifications for Elders/Overseers and Deacons

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