1 Timothy: Introduction

I don’t know if God is going to let me write that post on counterfeit churches. I’m not sure what attitude of mine he wants me to change, but when I find out, I’ll write it for you.

Until then, a number of friends have asked me to return to my Through the Bible series. I was in the hospital with acute leukemia when I started it, so I had the time to go through 3-5 chapters a day.

After the marrow transplant, though, about halfway through the Scriptures, I had four weeks where, most of the time, I was too tired eat or pick up my phone and read my texts. My wife read my texts to me. Vanderbilt fed me through an IV for a while, but then my “port” (like an IV needle into your arm, but bigger and in your chest) got infected, so I just didn’t eat for over two weeks. Great weight loss program. I got down to 130 pounds before I got an appetite again.

Anyway, that threw off the through-the-Bible plan and I never got back to it.

I’d like to go through 1 Timothy this week. I am going to give some effort to writing the whole book in advance, then putting up a chapter a day. I will then go to another book a week or two later.

Well, that’s the plan. I’m not the greatest at carrying out my plans. That’s too kind. I’m terrible at carrying out my plans. I have several employees now tasked with the unenviable and arduous task of keeping me moving in one direction.

The Pastoral Epistles

I would like to begin 1 Timothy by once again voicing my complaint about its title as a “pastoral epistle.” Timothy was not a pastor! He was an apostle.

My reference is 1 Thessalonians 1:1 and 2:6. The first verse of that letter tells us that it is from “Paul, Silas, and Timothy.” Then 2:6 says:

Nor did we seek glory, not from you nor others, when we might have been a burden as ambassadors of the Anointed King.

The Greek word behind “ambassadors” in my rendering here, is apostelloi, apostles. Paul referred to himself, Silas, and Timothy as apostles. He was in the habit of doing this with all those who traveled with him. They were ambassadors of God’s Anointed King. They were sent as his representatives.

The Service of an Ambassador/Apostle

I really need to do a thorough teaching on spiritual gifts again. I wish I had kept the hours of research I did almost thirty years ago. It was so edifying, however, that I remember most of it, including the verses for the gifts requiring the most explanation.

For now, though, I’m hoping you’ll take my word for it and look in the Scriptures for yourself to “see if these things be so.”

One of them is the gift of apostleship.

Paul, at least a couple of times, describes himself as both a preacher and a teacher. I spent hours, back in the days before computers, looking up every occurrence of every Greek word that is rendered “preach” or “teach” in the New Testament.

Preaching (Kerusso and euangelion) is always done to the lost, and teaching (didasko and catechismo) is always done with disciples. Spiritual gifts include preaching, which is a gift of evangelists (who should be preaching to the lost, not the church), and teaching, which is a gift had by both shepherds and teachers. Shepherds don’t need the gift of proclamation because they are supposed to be tending sheep, not goats. Evangelists have the gift of “preaching” (or proclamation or evangelism), and they are the ones that should, primarily, be talking to the goats.

Apostles, however, have to be both preachers and teachers, and the reason is obvious.

Apostles are church planters. They have to evangelize and shepherd. In fact, they have to administrate, too. They have to do pretty much everything until disciples are raised up to take over those giftings and positions that the church needs to grow up into the full stature of the King (Eph. 4:11-16).

Timothy and Titus

Timothy and Titus both traveled with Paul, and so he considered them, as he did his whole team, apostles/ambassadors of the King. They had to learn all the things he did.

When Paul went into a town, he would go to the synagogue, and when time came for the men (only the Jewish men) to speak, he would proclaim the Kingdom of God and the risen King. This never got him any applause from the Jews. In fact, it sometimes got him beaten or stoned, but usually he came away with a few believers.

His job was to disciple them well enough that they could begin to function on their own. On the first “missionary journey” of Paul and Barnabas, they went to only about four places, then returned on the second “missionary journey” and appointed elders in each of the churches (Acts 14).

This is clearly what was happening with Timothy and Titus. They were not pastors (shepherds). They were ambassadors planting churches, Timothy in Ephesus (1 Tim. 1:3) and Titus (Tit. 1:5) in Crete. Rather than Paul staying and discipling the new believers, he left Timothy and Titus (and probably others that are not recorded) to do that.

The letters themselves are clear enough. Both Titus and Timothy are given the qualifications for the two offices that Paul established in his churches: overseers and deacons. Titus is specifically told that he should ordain elders in “every city” of Crete (which is an island).

The overseers were often referred to as elders as well. They were the shepherds of the churches. Timothy and Titus were appointing shepherds. Until then, like all apostles, even if they were apprentices, they had to do the shepherding until they could appoint shepherds.

Timothy as Evangelist

In 2 Timothy 4:5 Paul tells Timothy, “Be calm and collected in everything; endure afflictions; do the work of an evangelist. Fully prove your service.”

Timothy, like Paul, had to be both shepherd and evangelist. Even though most of the advice in the letters have to do with the shepherding of the church, he could not neglect his apostolic calling. He had to proclaim God’s new King and his Kingdom to the lost as well. He was both building and expanding the church.

A fully functioning church will expand on its own, as we have seen in previous posts, though members with the gift of preaching—to the lost—are a big help.

I love the letters to Timothy and Titus. They are so foundational, so simple, so applicable to this era in the United States. I hope I can communicate at least some of my delight and passion for these letters in the next few posts.

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