Thursday, August 18, 2022

2022.08.18 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Timothy 1:1–2

Read 1 Timothy 1:1–2

Questions from the Scripture text: Who wrote this letter (1 Timothy 1:1)? What office did he hold? Of Whom was he an apostle? By Whose commandment? What has He done? By what other Name do we know Him? What is He to us? To whom was this letter written (1 Timothy 1:2)? What does he call him? In what is he a true son? What three things does the apostle bless him with from Whom?  

Who were Paul and Timothy to one another, and how does that factor into the reformational work needed at Ephesus? 1 Timothy 1:1–2 looks forward to the second serial reading in morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these two verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that the apostolic foundation of reformational ministry takes us back to God Himself in Christ, because He is our God, He is our hope, He is our holiness, He is our help and happiness.

Christ is our God. His order/organization for the church isn’t just a suggestion or example but a “commandment.” Though the word ‘apostle’ means “sent one,” the office is very specific. Jesus called apostles in person and appeared to them after His resurrection (cf. 1 Corinthians 9:1; 1 Corinthians 15:7–8). 1 Timothy 1:1 refers to this, in Paul’s case, as the commandment of God.

This letter (and then Titus, and 2 Timothy) was written during Paul’s second Roman imprisonment, just before his death. We learn from the letter that the once great church in Ephesus has allowed false doctrine, unholy living, and disorderly church worship and operation to creep in. But the apostle has a commandment from his God, Savior, Lord, Prophet, Priest, and King: God our Savior and the Lord Jesus Christ. And this letter is the fulfillment of that ministry, filling out a few more of those things that had remained for Jesus to say before His death (cf. John 16:12–15).

Christ is our hope. The last word (in our English translation) of 1 Timothy 1:1 is such a needed one for Timothy! He is a comparatively young, perhaps timid man who is being charged with leading a fairly significant reformation in a church that has spiritually declined. He needs to know that Christ is his hope for his salvation, for his faithfulness, and for this work to bear fruit. This word ‘hope’ doesn’t mean a wish that is in doubt; in the New Testament, it means some future good that has been assured. Let every believer know that Jesus is such a hope for his life, and let every minister know that Jesus is such a hope for his ministry.

Christ is our holiness. Timothy’s father was an unbelieving Greek (cf. Acts 16:1), but he bore the family-resemblance of the faith of his grandmother and mother (cf. 2 Timothy 1:5) and now also of Paul; the apostle calls him “a true son in the faith” (1 Timothy 1:2). This way of speaking includes his doctrine and his works in the ministry, but has a special focus upon his character and his manner. Paul is about to be taken from the church, but he leaves behind at least one—and soon, hopefully(!), many more—man who is his ministerial spitting image. 

But this resemblance comes not only from Paul as spiritual father, but another and infinitely greater Father. We know God as “our Father” (1 Timothy 1:2) especially in Jesus Christ, the Son. He is the full display of the Father in human flesh (cf. John 1:18; John 14:9). It is to this Son to Whose image we have been predestined to be conformed (cf. Romans 8:29). And this is the ultimate sonship for a believer. When we see God making us to resemble faithful ones whom He used in our lives, we know that ultimately this goes back to a reflection of His own image in Christ (cf. 1 Corinthians 11:1).

Christ is our help and happiness. “Grace” is all that God is for all that we lack. Strength for our weakness (cf. 2 Corinthians 12:9). Righteousness for our sinfulness and life for our death (cf. Ephesians 2:1–10). “Peace” is related; it’s that condition of health and wholeness in every way, which is the result of having God be for us. So, the apostle often joins these two. 

But here (and the other two pastoral epistles), he also adds “mercy.” It’s that gentle kindness of God in time that proceeds from His electing love in eternity. It emphasizes that the grace and peace are not merely transactional but personal, the outflowings of a good God Who is pleased to make us the objects of this mercy. This supplies not just the help of what God can do for us but the happiness of Who God has made Himself to be to us. How Timothy would need to know and cling to this as a reforming minister in Ephesus!

Why shouldn’t the variety of approaches to “church” lead us to believe that there are many right ways? Whom do you know on earth that is an example like that of Paul for you? Whose resemblance, ultimately, should we be hoping to bear? How can this happen? Why would God do so?

Sample prayer:  Lord, as our God and Savior and Hope, You have given commandment concerning how we must operate in Your church. Forgive us for when we think or act as if there are many right ways of operating in Your church. As we have no strength or life or goodness in ourselves, give these to us in Your grace as You did for Timothy, so that we too may have Your peace. Since our sin is against Your glory, make us to know You through Jesus Christ, Who Himself is the brightness of Your glory, so that we may rejoice to be objects of Your mercy, which we ask in His Name, AMEN!

 Suggested songs: ARP23B “The Lord’s My Shepherd” or TPH429 “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing”

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