JohnSWilson3 Blog


“…but I obtained mercy…”
September 26, 2015, 1:59 pm
Filed under: R - First Letter to Timothy

As Paul reflects on the reality of being entrusted by God with His good news his thoughts turn immediately to his own story and gives thanks to the One “who has strengthened me, Christ Jesus, the Lord of us, because he considered me trustworthy, putting me into service…” (1) In truth every believer in Christ, who is God’s good news, has a story and as we reflect on what we were and what God has done for us causes us to give thanks! The reason Paul is so thankful is because Christ has been faithful to strengthen him ever since his conversion and that God would even find him, Paul who was once a “blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man,” trustworthy to serve Him. Imagine! Christ considered Paul trustworthy to serve, to speak for Him! And Paul exclaims: “but I obtained mercy!”

When Paul says that Christ has strengthened him he means Christ Himself has been sharing His power, His ability with Paul. (2) The first time Paul uses this intensified form of the word for strength is immediately after his conversion in Damascus where he is said to have become increasingly strengthened by the Lord confounding the Jews. (Acts 9:22) He only uses the word once in his letter to the Philippians where Paul describes Christ who strengthens him, Romans where Paul describes how Abraham even at about the age of 100 “was strengthened in his faith,” and Ephesians where Paul calls on all brothers and sisters to be “empowered in the Lord.” When we are strengthened by Christ Jesus our Lord He shares Himself, His power from within. Whatever our life was before Christ, when we are living by our indwelling Lord, that life of flesh has no power, and the reality of His blood transforms our mind to Christ’s reality that in fact the old way of the flesh is gone and dead, taken away by Christ who now not only empowers us but lives in us and is our life. (3) What times of refreshing, times of thankfulness, times of gratefulness and empowering He gives us and continues to give us as we see things as Christ sees them!

Apart from Christ we see things totally different. We see the outward manifestations of the flesh, those who are profane, murderers of fathers, murderers of mothers, murderers, fornicators or prostitutes, homosexuals, slave traders, liars and for Paul a persecutor and insolent. Or those who are lawless, unruly, impious, sinners, unholy, profane and for Paul as a blasphemer. Of course Paul lists a whole host of other descriptions of the flesh in his other letters. When we are caught up into labels and the law we identify ourselves by the works of the flesh, what we do (whether good or bad by the way), our habits and addictions. The world loves to stick labels on behavior, especially for those who don’t follow their brand of culture or law. Religions do it all the time. If I act “Christian” then I am “Christian” some would naively say, no matter what we think “Christian” means. We also do it instinctively in business. If we do a kind of job we are identified by that job. I teach therefore I am a teacher. Or those who make things: I work with leather therefore I am a leatherworker. And so on. And it becomes our mold our box that others and ourselves build around each another. We love to label others. Psychologists do it when labeling personalities or disorders. And you become what they label. You name it. Aristotle once wrote: “we are what we repeatedly do.” That is how the world thinks. While there is “some” truth in our understanding of who we are in the flesh and why we say and do the things we say and do, it is not the final word. We need to consider a different way of thinking. Even though we use to be identified or identified ourselves by the works of the flesh we are now only identified by Christ in us and His work. How thankful we are because of what Christ has done for and in us! In Christ we have been freed from the world’s labels and laws, we have obtained mercy! Perhaps that is something of what Paul was feeling thankful about.

Interestingly, Paul describes how thankful he is that God considered him trustworthy to put him into service. Sadly, some translations take a perspective that institutionalizes this thought. Not surprisingly, the mistranslations of similar Greek words is riddled in many places in the New Testament, to its inappropriate application and in some places where there is no Greek word the root word “appoint” is added anyways. For these “certain persons” Paul was trustworthy to be appointed or ordained to the ministry, appointed to a position or profession above his fellow brothers and sisters. Jealousy becomes the hallmark of such. When we place ourselves above others, labels and law are not far behind. To use the word “appoint,” in today’s English means “to select officially for an office, position, etc.” (4) Appointing is about officially selecting someone or electing them into a professional office, to be a “leader” over others. Perhaps considering Christ’s perspective He did in fact select Paul, but we love to take things from our perspective, creating confusion, standing in the place of Christ. How totally contrary is this thought with what Paul was actually trying to convey. How contrary is this idea to that of a professional office.

Another word, taken totally away from its original context is this word “service.” I think I have written about this before. The Greek “diakonian” word means “waiting at a table” which comes from the word “diakonos” which means “thoroughly dust” or to “kick up dust” and can refer to either dusting the home, cleaning dust off of feet, or to move about in one’s work. (5) In a country where dust and sand is common place it was a very familiar task for household servants. The word means nothing of an “official position” except for those who would institutionalize the word to mean a position above one’s brothers and sisters which means the exact opposite. What is even more sad is for these “certain persons” to stand behind a podium above their brothers and sisters, “leading” “their” congregation and to boldly state how he or she and they are equal, what a sordid thing to say and how delusional for the “congregation” to accept this clergy-laity dichotomy. How sad that what Christ intended to be the actual living experience of brothers and sisters serving one another by His life to be made into a platform of professionalism by “certain persons.” Technically, we could say Paul was appointed by the Lord to be His servant. But how we love to change things to fit the world’s way of doing things. Institutional churches take this and run with it and it becomes something that God never intended, a progressive revelation of sorts “certain persons” would call it and now the church does things differently because of the “modern” world we live in. How sad that when God appoints His servants man changes it into a business and ceremony and performance deluding those who are called, deceiving and hurting the ekklesia’s organic nature of living by their indwelling Lord together. The father of lies is still prowling around looking at whom he may devour. We are so easily deceived. How ignorant man is in the ways of the Lord, institutionalizing what only God is called to do. How we need to be strengthened by the Lord from within.

Paul says that he obtained mercy because he was “ignorant and did it in unbelief.” I would venture to say most of what we do would be because of our ignorance, even though we think we know what we are doing. As Jesus proclaimed on the cross, “Father, forgive them for they no not what they do.” This is not just a call to those outside of Christ, but also to those in the ekklesia. Perhaps Paul is inferring something about the “certain persons” he mentioned earlier who were focusing more on the law instead of love. They were showing their ignorance of the Lord within them. When we begin to no longer walk by faith together, even in a gathering of brothers and sisters living organically by Christ, we are moving in ignorance of the Lord towards institutionalism and a dangerous precipice. We know ourselves and our Lord very little. Our capacity to live by the flesh knows no bounds and so it is with living by our indwelling Lord together. May we believe the Lord and His promises, He can do what He says. Paul was strengthened by the Lord for his entire life in Christ from the very beginning of his conversion. He understood that ignorance of and unbelief in the Lord was no longer acceptable. Everywhere Paul went he was looking for something of Christ and Him crucified both from within himself and within the brothers and sisters who believed on the Lord. Paul believed that the ekklesia was in reality one with Christ. To be with brothers and sisters was to be with Christ Himself. May we believe the same. Lord help me, help us in our unbelief we really are ignorant of ourselves and You.

Faith beyond our imagining is in Christ Jesus. Love beyond our imagining is in Christ Jesus. Strength beyond our imagining is in Christ Jesus. Grace beyond our imagining is in Christ Jesus. Paul was captured by our Lord and given truth, a new paradigm, a new reality or way of thinking. Christ overcame his ignorance and unbelief and Paul obtained mercy which he did not deserve and so Paul proclaims: “The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.” We have obtained mercy!

Notes:
(1) See http://biblehub.com/greek/1743.htm.
(2) The Greek word for strengthened is “endynamōsanti” which means “in sharing power ability.” (1) It is not your typical word for power or strength that is often used in the Greek text. Most words used for power or strength are forms of the words dunamai and dunamis which are used 100s of times. Here Paul uses this word “endynamōsanti” only used once here and on a few other occasions’ similar forms of the same.
(3) Paul gives his testimony, his story of how he was saved by Christ after having persecuted the church. In Galatians 1:15-16a Paul says that “God, who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me…” and later in Galatians 2:20 states that “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
(4) Webster’s New World Dictionary of the American Language, 67.
(5) See http://biblehub.com/greek/1248.htm and http://biblehub.com/greek/1249.htm.

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“…any other thing that opposes healthy teaching…” (Part 2)
August 16, 2015, 1:51 pm
Filed under: R - First Letter to Timothy

In part 1 of “…any other thing that opposes healthy teaching” I introduced Paul’s list of behaviors that oppose “healthy teaching.” When one is living by Christ, they will be attentive to what is going on in them and around them. God’s work in us will be “in faith” that results in love from pure motives and a good conscience. This gives brothers and sisters a radar of sorts, a matter of discernment to that which is of the Spirit and that which is of the flesh. While we may not know all of the works of the flesh, a brother or sister who is hearing Christ can sense it by the Spirit within them and put it off, putting on Christ from within. The more we hear Him and follow Him, the more of Christ will be seen.

Additionally, the focus in Part 1 was on the first part of Paul’s list of things that the law was for, things which can be deceptively brought into the life of the body from within and the importance of faith, love, and conscience on these matters within the gathering. This last half of the list are those behaviors that can be brought into the life of the body from without. It is a direct assault on human life. Human life is precious to the Lord. While in the Old Covenant the Lord allowed and even commanded the nation of Israel to war against her enemies it was done so as a judgement. Today in the New Covenant God still judges but He alone avenges His people. (1) Each one of the extreme examples Paul lists describe those whose behavior are lawless, unruly, impious, sinful, unholy, and profane. They live without regard for authority and submission, without respect for others, namely human life. As a result Paul uses the noun form of the words for seven of the eight words, using the adjective form for the last word.

Often a societies laws typically will ban these horrendous forms of behaviors because they destroy a person’s or others physical and emotional life and bring spiritual devastation. The words that Paul now uses in this list can easily fit into the latter half of the Ten Commandments albeit of a more extreme nature. The words are not necessarily paired as in the previous six words, however there does seem to be a pattern. The first two words seem to be paired, the fourth and fifth words seem to be paired, and the seventh and eighth words seem to be paired while the third and sixth words are not. Here I have listed the words from the direct translation from Marshall’s Greek Interlinear (2) and connected the Law with each (3).

“…for parricides and matricides (fifth commandment)
for menkillers (sixth commandment)
for fornicators, for paederasts (seventh commandment)
for menstealers (eighth commandment)
for liars, for perjurers (ninth commandment)
and if any other thing the healthy teaching opposes…”

Parricides (4) and matricides describe those who murder fathers and mothers. In the Ten Commandments the fifth commandment states: “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.” (Exodus 20:12, TNIV) Societies normally do not allow for children to murder their fathers or mothers. It is a direct assault against the familial nature of human life and God and His ecclesia specifically. One of the greatest forms of human relationship one could ever have can be with a father and mother. To murder one’s own father and mother is a total disregard for human authority and submission, let alone in matters of faith, love, and conscience.

Menkillers (5) describe those who are murderers (TNIV). Menkillers can fit easily with parricides and matricides; it is a general term meaning slayers of human life. The sixth commandment states: “You shall not murder.” (Exodus 20:12, TNIV). Murder is typically one of the greatest crimes one could commit in society.

Fornicators (6) and paederasts (7) describe those whose offenses are sexual in nature and brings physical, emotional, and spiritual devastation upon themselves. The Greek words for both describe perverse sexual behavior, both related to adultery, or sexual behavior outside of marriage. The seventh commandment states: “You shall not commit adultery.” (Exodus 20:14, TNIV) The word for fornicator, the root word for pornography, comes from the word meaning to sell, essentially to sell oneself to another’s sexual lusts, a prostitute. Prostitutes, both male and female, in the ancient world, dependent upon location were often associated with pagan temples, as pagan religion incorporated prostitution as a form of worship of the pagan god. Paederasts means a male in bed with another male to engage in sexual intercourse, homosexuality. This can also refer to female homosexuality. Paul used forms of both words in his letter to the Corinthian ecclesia. Paul is aghast that the believers have accepted “fornication” “among you” “and such fornication which is not among the nations,” “a man has his father’s wife. And you are proud!” (8) Many ancient Roman and Greek societies allowed prostitution and homosexuality, they were both acceptable forms of behavior as they were related to their pagan worship. However, in Christ, He has made the ekklesia a new creation. In the Corinthian letter Paul goes into great details of why this sexual behavior is not acceptable in the ekklesia, first and foremost it is fleshly and emotionally and spiritually destructive for all those involved in its behavior.

Menstealers (9) describes those who steal people in order to sell them, i.e. “slave traders” (TNIV). The eighth commandment states: “You shall not steal.” (Exodus 20:15). Typically we see this as stealing something at the store, something we can hide easily without being noticed. But Paul goes to the extreme in describing a person who would steal a human being in order to sell them. They are not just stealing a person, they steal that person’s heart and soul, reducing them to an inanimate object without honor or respect. Sadly in today’s world there are those who forcibly steal children and youth in order to sell them as slaves in other countries, or to use them as sex slaves or prostitutes for personal gain, bringing physical, emotional, and spiritual devastation upon their victims. How destructive and contrary to what is good and right in any society, reducing persons to nothing more than cattle to be stolen, bought and sold.

Liars (10) and perjurers (11) describe those who lie or lie under oath respectively. The ninth commandment states: “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.” (Exodus 20:16). (12) A liar is a person who deceives others by distorting or misleading what others say or do. The forms of this particular word are used primarily by John in his gospel specifically in John 8:44 where Jesus says “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” Interestingly Jesus equates deception with murder. In truth we die spiritually, we murder, when we deceive. To deceive others, falsifying, distorting, misleading others about someone we are allowing spiritual murder to take place within ourselves and others, and fall under the deception of the father of lies. The ekklesia only lives by and for truth, however hard that word may be, for truth in reality is a Person, our Lord Jesus Christ. When one is caught in a lie, there is a tendency for them to lie even under oath, or perjury. Perhaps this is the reason Paul used the adjective form of the word for perjurers in this letter.

Keep in the mind that these are examples of some extreme and hurtful behaviors of the flesh and should not be considered the only behaviors, as Paul in his letters is never consistent in describing examples of the works of the flesh, as he finishes this list with “and if any other thing the healthy teaching opposes.” In almost every letter Paul wrote he often contrasted the works of the flesh with that of the Spirit. (13) It seems based on what the problem the ekklesia was going through he used terms that describe the flesh as it relates to what the gathering of the brothers and sisters was experiencing and contrasts that with living by their indewelling Christ, so it was a bit different for each ekklesia. What was not different was the gatherings life together, they are to live by Christ. He is our health, our healthy teaching. Every other thing that Christ’s life opposes is that of the flesh as Paul said in his first letter, to the ekklesia in Galatia: “walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict (opposes) with each other…But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.” (14) In essence Paul to Timothy has just repeated what he spoke decades ago to the gathering of brothers and sisters in Galatia. The same applies to us today.

The problem that Paul asks Timothy to confront with “certain persons” in the ekklesia at Ephesus was that these persons seem to focus their conversations in their gatherings on the law. I don’t know about you, but just having gone through this list of those things the law was made for, determining their meaning and application can be heavy, weary and depressing because it’s conversations about the flesh, which brings only death. There are those who will nitpick and find some loop hole in word meanings in order to justify ungodly behavior. How taxing and lifeless that is. Our life together is about Christ in us! The gatherings, while they may have to confront issues related to putting off the flesh in its experience together it is for the purpose of putting on Christ. A good rule of thumb about these matters can be found in Paul’s earlier letter to the Corinthian ekklesia: “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the ekklesia? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside.” (1 Corinthians 5:12-13a). Even today we have voices supposedly from the “ekklesia” who are judging “those outside,” wanting to be “teachers of the law” and trying to show out as if they were God’s prophets, “but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.” They are “certain persons” who typically are from religious Christianity, just like in the ancient ekklesia in Ephesus, whose focus is sadly more about the law than Christ and our relationship with Him and one another. I have friends and co-workers who have some of these behaviors, namely being profane, homosexuality and lying, and many other things not on the list. For my friends and co-workers while I do not accept their behavior I still try to respect them as persons, as human beings who need Christ and pray that one day Christ will change their hearts and minds by how I live by Christ.

At this point Paul’s thoughts in his letter to Timothy move him to express praise to God saying “healthy teaching” is “according to the good news of the glory of the blessed God which I have been entrusted with.” How true Christ’s words are: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30, TNIV) Christ is our healthy teaching, He is the good news, He is the glory of the blessed God! It is His teaching, His words, the good news by His Spirit in and to and through one another that brings rest and life and not weary and death. Anything else is “meaningless talk.” Paul knows this full well as he now reflects how this good news of Christ totally and completely changed his life from one living by the works of the flesh and the Law to one “entrusted” with God’s good news!

Notes:

(1) Romans 12:17-21 states “Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord. On the contrary: ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” When we are living by Christ, this is what He will look like in us.
(2) Alfred Marshall, The Interlinear KJV-NIV Parallel New Testament in Greek and English, 1975, The Zondervan Corporation, 613.
(3) Gordon D. Fee; 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus: New International Biblical Commentary; Hendrickson Publishers, 1988, 46.
(4) The Greek word “patrolōais” comes from two Greek words for father and murderer and “mētrolōais” comes from two Greek words for mother and murderer. Both words are only used here by Paul in the New Testament, possibly because of the extreme nature of the behavior, although the root words are used numerous times. See: http://biblehub.com/greek/3964.htm, http://biblehub.com/greek/3389.htm.
(5) The Greek word “androphonois” is only used once by Paul and is the only time it is used in the New Testament. The root words however are used several times: male and murder. In essence the word means a male murderer. See http://biblehub.com/greek/409.htm. It is interesting that Paul would choose the male form of the word instead of just “phonos” for murderer as used in the Ten Commandments found in the Greek version of the Septuagint “φονευσεις”. (http://bibledatabase.net/html/septuagint/02_020.htm, 20:15) As we will see it seems these “male” terms are often used elsewhere to refer to any person.
(6) The word used for fornicators is “pornois,” the root word for pornography. The word used here means a male prostitute, although it can be used generically to describe any person who sells themselves to others sexual lusts. See: http://biblehub.com/greek/4205.htm.
(7) The word for paederasts is “arsenokoitais” and comes from two words “male” and “marriage bed,” both roots being used many times throughout the Bible. See http://biblehub.com/greek/733.htm.
(8) 1 Corinthians 5:1. Paul uses the feminine form of the word “porneia” to describe the sexual deviant behavior occurring in the ekklesia, in this case a form of incest. Paul seems to use the word for any form of sexual deviant behavior, not just male or female prostitution, other than homosexuality. In 1 Corinthians 6:9 Paul uses both words as he reminds the ekklesia of other various forms of sexual deviant behavior, if they didn’t quite get it the first time, and lists not just “pornoi,” but also idolaters, adulterers, effeminate, and “arsenokoitai.”
(9) The Greek word “andrapodistais” means “one who forcibly enslaves.” This is the first and only time the word is used in the New Testament. In the ancient world while one might be born into slavery, which was then the world’s main labor force, this word means “one who unjustly reduces free men to slavery, as one who steals the slaves of others and sells them.” See http://biblehub.com/greek/405.htm.
(10) The Greek word “pseustais” comes from the word meaning one who falsifies or lies. See http://biblehub.com/greek/5583.htm.
(11) The Greek word “epiorkois” means against an oath, so to swear falsely. See http://biblehub.com/greek/1965.htm.
(12) Both “pseustais” and “epiorkois” together best represent the meaning of the ninth commandment based on the Greek word used in the Septuagint “ψευδομαρτυρησεις.” http://bibledatabase.net/html/septuagint/02_020.htm.
(13) See Gal. 5:16-26; 1 Thess. 4:3-10; 1 Thess. 3:2; 1 Corinthians is nothing but contrasts; etc.
(14) Galatians 5:16-18. The Greek word “opposes” in 1 Timothy is “antikeitai” and is the same word Paul used in Galatians. It means to place fully against, and is completely and irreconcilably opposite of each other. Without Christ we are “without hope” and “far away,” but we “have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace.” Ephesians 2:12-14.



“…any other thing that opposes healthy teaching…” (Part 1)
March 29, 2015, 1:49 pm
Filed under: R - First Letter to Timothy

“The law does not apply for the innocent but for the lawless…” The law was also meant to curb the flesh. As Paul told the Roman believers “through the law we become conscious of our sin.” (Romans 3:20) The law is for those who live by the flesh. In every letter Paul says something about the works of the flesh in contrast to living by the Spirit, it is part of learning Christ together, the tension between that which is of the flesh and that which is of the spirit and how the gathering moves forward through it in love. Even Jesus said that “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing.” (John 6:63) So in like manner Paul gives an interesting list of the entropy of the flesh in pairs in his first letter to Timothy. (1) Interestingly a case could be made that this list looks very similar to the abominations that described Samaria and Jerusalem, the capitols of the northern and southern tribes of Israel respectively, before their downfall by the Assyrians and Babylonians in the Book of Ezekiel, specifically chapter 22. Even the same Greek words used by Paul can be found in the Greek version of Ezekiel from the Septuagint. Perhaps all delve a bit into this in another blog. Perhaps Paul is inferring a concern of a possible similar judgment could fall upon the ecclesias as that which befell Israel if we live with a law/lawless mindset versus an innocent mindset. I have intentionally listed the writing in pairs below to hopefully see some connections. “…but for lawless and for unruly, for impious and for sinful, for unholy and for profane, for parricides and matricides, for menkillers, for fornicators, for paederasts, for menstealers, for liars, for perjurers, and if any other thing the healthy teaching opposes…” (2) Fee notes that the first three pairs seem to be “general classifications” while the other pairs have “a remarkable coincidence with the Ten Commandments (the fifth through the ninth), often giving more grotesque expressions of these sins.” (3) N. T. Wright in his little booklet says similarly. (4) The descriptions of these Greek words are pretty clear. The first three pairs are adjectives and other than the last word the other pairs are all nouns. This blog will look at the first three pairs of adjectives. (5) Lawless (6) and unruly (7) describe those who live without regard for authority and submission respectively. As Paul noted to the Roman brothers and sisters “let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established…For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong…Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.” (Romans 13:1-5) Society operates by law, ecclesias operate by grace. In Christ authority describes Christ’s headship and submission. You cannot have one without the other. Brothers and sisters who are following the Lord together are under the authority of Christ, under His headship and will follow His law, a law of selfless sacrificial love. And this agape love, Christ’s life, will demonstrate itself in submission to one another, mutual submission. To live without headship to Christ or submission to others in the body is to be lawless and unruly. If there is one thing that will steal, kill, and destroy the fellowship of a gathering of brothers and sisters it is this. Additionally, if any one or more persons in the body attempt to usurp Christ’s authority, His headship, whether personally or through some set of procedures or agenda, they have become lawless and unruly to Christ. We are to live under His authority, His headship in submissive sacrifice to one another. Impious (8) and sinful (9) describe those who live without respect for others and without approval of God respectively. Brothers and sisters who are following the Lord together will be respectful and honorable towards one another, this demonstrates approval of God. There is much written in the scriptures that describe the importance of honoring God and one another. As Paul told the Roman brothers and sisters: “Honor one another above yourselves.” (Romans 12:10) We are called to live honorably, never disrespecting others. To do so would be to disrespect Christ, His Body and His Spirit will show His disapproval by our conscious not approving. The Lord gave some remarkable words to Isaiah and is often quoted by Jesus: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.” (Isaiah 29:13) Wow! Sadly, how much of our religious institutions have fallen to such dishonorable status with our Lord. As an archer if my arrows fall short of the target I am forfeit, I have missed the purpose in shooting the arrows. Without Christ I fall short of what God approves. We will be tempted to stray, to miss the mark of God’s purpose, there will be conflict. Let us be attuned to what our conscience tells us as His Spirit works in us in order to follow Him, His path for us, by faith with love. In Christ we are no longer “sinful.” Paul told the Roman ecclesia “Christ died for the ‘impious’” or the ungodly and cleansed us from all sin! (10) In Him, who is sinless, we have been cleansed of all that fell short of what God approved. In Christ the arrow hits the bulls-eye every time. To live with a clear conscience, innocent before one another is to manifest Christ. We live together as those who have been forgiven and now live approved by God by our respect towards one-another. Unholy (11) and profane (12) describe those who live without respect for the things of God and for God Himself respectively. Christ’s literal body was described as holy and the literal temple in Jerusalem was never to be profaned. The character of the physical Christ and physical temple are now applied to the ecclesias, because they are one with Christ. Paul articulates in great detail to the Roman ecclesia in the first part of his letter how those who are in Christ are now to “live a new life.” (13) This life is none other than Christ’s life and His life is holy! In the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible “holy” is a key word that is used to describe “an object or place or day.” (14) Also, from the Greek Old Testament, the Septuagint, these two words often appear together. Perhaps Paul, a former teacher of the law, speaking of the “babble” of these certain persons has thoughts from Ezekiel in mind? (Ezekiel 22) Profane can also have the idea of unauthorized entrance into a building. If we gather together for the sake of forcing our agenda onto the brothers and sisters than to live by the life of Christ together, but making a pretense of such we have become a thief, entering the Home without the permission of the Home Owner. Jesus had some poignant words for the Pharisees in this regard: “Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.” (John 10:1-2) Those who enter the gate, or the building without His authority Jesus calls a thief, a robber, a hired hand, and a wolf. We are a new creation and we now live by His new life, His holy life and we are learning to hear Christ together, Our Shepherd. May we truly hear our Lord’s words and live by His life of love together, “love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” We gratefully gather together and submit to His headship, we show respect to Christ and His body honoring Him and one another above ourselves, and we are learning to live by His holy life and hearing Him and following Him together. (1) Fee noted that he was amazed that from among the Pauline letters that “no single sin is specifically repeated in them all….They seem in each case to be ad hoc catalogues, although they also seem to be somewhat adapted to contexts.” Gordon D. Fee; 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus: New International Biblical Commentary; Hendrickson Publishers, 1988, 45. (2) Alfred Marshall, The Interlinear KJV-NIV Parallel New Testament in Greek and English, 1975, The Zondervan Corporation, 613. (3) Fee, 45-46. (4) Nicholas Thomas Wright, Paul for Everyone: The Pastoral Letters, Second Edition, Westminster John Knox Press, 2004, 9-10. (5) See the Greek Interlinear at http://biblehub.com/interlinear/1_timothy/1-9.htm. (6) Paul, when describing those the law was meant for, uses the word “lawless” to begin the list. It could in fact generalize the rest of the descriptions. The Greek word translated “lawless” is “anomois” and means “without law,” a complete disregard for any authority. http://biblehub.com/greek/459.htm. This word is used in the letter to the ecclesias in Corinth and later to Rome to describe those who are non Jewish or Gentile. To his first letter to the ecclesia in Corinth, Paul describes how he relates to both Jew and Gentile for their salvation: “I became to the Jews as a Jew, in order that I might gain Jews; to the ones under law as under law, not being myself under law, in order that I might gain the ones under law; to the ones ‘anomois’ (lawless or without the law) as ‘anomos,’ not being without law of God but under the law of Christ, in order that I might gain the ones ‘anomous’…” (1 Corinthians 9:20-21) So lawless in this regard would mean, for example those who are not Jew and do not follow the Law of Moses. Paul also said something similar to the ecclesia in Rome where he described that a person can fail to be approved of God whether one is ‘anomos’ (without the law) or under the law. (Romans 2:12) In Luke and Acts the word is used to describe those who crucified Christ Jesus. Only Luke uses this word in his gospel and in the letter of Acts. In the gospel by Luke the word is used from the Greek translation for the Hebrew ‘pō•šə•‘îm’ from Isaiah 53:12 that means to rebel against God where the author describes the Jesus fulfilling Old Testament prophecy. http://biblehub.com/hebrew/6586.htm) Some manuscripts also use the word in Mark 15:28. And in Acts Luke uses the word to describe those who crucified Christ Jesus. (Acts 2:23) It seems in the letters where a future description of the word is used and letters written later it typically refers to a state of complete rebellion against God such as Paul’s second letter to the ecclesia in Thessalonica. 2 Thessalonians 2:8. See http://biblehub.com/greek/459.htm for a summary of the definition of the word. Based on the context of Paul’s letter to Timothy this is how the word is being used. (7) The Greek word translated as “unruly” is “anypotaktois.” The forms of this word only occur in the letter to the Hebrews and Paul’s letters to Timothy and Titus. It literally means “not under arrangement,” without submission, and therefore means not submissive or disobedient. http://biblehub.com/greek/506.htm. One form of the word is also used in Hebrews 2:8. To not be mutually submissive to one another is to be “anypotaktois” to be unsubmissive to our brothers and sisters in Christ, and because we are His body to be “anypotakois” is to be disobedient to Christ Himself. (8) The Greek word translated as “impious” or “ungodly” is “asebesi.” This word means the opposite of “respect,” without respect, and means lack of reverence and dishonorable. http://biblehub.com/greek/765.htm. Paul wrote to the ecclesia in Rome that “Christ died for the ungodly.” Romans 5:6. (9) The Greek word translated as “sinful” or “sinners” is “hamartōlois.” This word is used often in the gospels and on occasion in the New Testament letters. The word literally means “to forfeit by missing the mark.” (11) http://biblehub.com/greek/268.htm. (10) Romans 5:6. (11) The Greek word translated as “unholy” is “anosiois,” or without holy. The adjective form of the word holy, “hosios,” is only used a few times in the New Testament and typically describes Christ, often where Christ has fulfilled prophecy from the Old Testament. http://biblehub.com/greek/3741.htm. Typically meaning respect for the things of God. Paul is the only New Testament writer to use the word “anosiois” and only in his letters to Timothy. “Anosiois” means without respect or without regard for the things of God, a disregard or disrespect for the things of God. http://biblehub.com/greek/462.htm. (12) Profane. The Greek word translated as “profane” is “bebēlois,” which means “crossing threshold” or “improper or unauthorized entrance into a building.” http://biblehub.com/greek/952.htm. Like the previous word for “unholy” the word variants of this adjective are only used in his letters to Timothy and once in Hebrews describing Esau in the Old Testament. There are two verb forms of this adjective, Jesus says of the Pharisees “on the Sabbath the priests in the temple desecrate the day and yet are innocent” and the accusation of Tertullus against Paul saying “and even tried to desecrate the temple.” Much could be said of Jesus and Tertullus statements alone, one a truth the other a lie. Matthew 12:5 and Acts 24:6. Perhaps the idea here is attempting to follow Christ apart from love and faith, perhaps Paul is reflecting back to the foolish Galatians and now these certain persons in Ephesus? (13) Romans 6:1-4. Paul argues “what shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” To do so would be to profane His Body, His Temple. Pau then describes to the Romans the importance of seeing ourselves in both Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection “so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with….no longer…slaves to sin.” We are to “count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” Romans 6:5-14. (14) Vine’s, Nelson’s Expository Dictionary of the Old Testament, 113.



“…the law does not apply for those who are innocent…”
July 28, 2014, 1:24 pm
Filed under: R - First Letter to Timothy

This section of the letter to Timothy seems to hearken back to Paul’s letter to the Galatians. After Paul describes the overarching goal of love for the ecclesia, which enables the working of God in His people, he then, in this same sentence clarifies the main issue or the bottom line of these “certain persons.” They have wandered from the focus of love to a focus on law in their gatherings. Their “teaching differently” emphasizes the law over selfless sacrificial love. “They desire,” they want “to be teachers of the law, not understanding either what things they say nor concerning what things they emphatically assert.” (1)
Paul has dealt with this terrible teaching with an emphasis of law over grace before with the gatherings in Galatia. They had the same problem. For most of his letter to the Galatians Paul spoke about this issue. It is interesting how Paul’s first letter and his last letters over a span of at least a couple decades would deal with this same issue. It perhaps bespeaks to our times, the movement of some gatherings that swerve out of line of God’s purpose to focusing on matters of the law. Paul is not at a loss for words when it comes to legalism in the Galatian gatherings, or for any other ecclesia for that matter, then or now.

“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel – which is really no gospel at all.” Logically Paul says: if it is a different good news, then it cannot be good news. “If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let that person be cursed!” “You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you?…Are you so foolish?” (2)

In typical fashion Paul describes the different teaching of these brothers and sisters in Ephesus who think they are “law teachers” as “babble.” It is meaningless and empty of life. It is unhealthy for the body of Christ. If you are predisposed to details, to following rules over and above relationships then legalism can be something you will need to deal with in your life, it has been the case in mine. I could see Paul right now, rolling his eyes with what is going on, thinking to himself: “How many times do I need to go over this, do I really have to repeat myself to every ecclesia?” Yep, you do. For Paul it is part of his testimony. And again he takes a bit of time in the front part of his letter describing his testimony again to Timothy (as if Timothy had not heard it before already) but writing it down for the record so to speak giving historical merit for the apostolic helper. I’ll go into that in a later blog.

In this first letter to Timothy Paul does not go into the details of the usefulness of the Old Testament like he does with the Galatians. Timothy has heard Paul’s teaching on legalism already, quite a few times but he does say “we know now that the law is good if anyone uses it lawfully, knowing this, the law does not apply for the innocent.” (3) Paul understood the law in context for those who are in Christ. In Christ we are innocent. Christ gives new meaning to how we understand the law and why the law is good. Before Christ we were under a curse, but because of what Jesus did on the cross, that curse has been removed. The Old Testament law showed to every man and women that they could not stand approved or innocent before God. Even when Christ came during His earthly ministry He showed this to be true. In and of ourselves, in our flesh, we are not innocent, we are guilty. Our conscious tells us this. But in Christ we are no longer condemned but stand innocent before the Lord. We are considered innocent of every sin, everything that was against God. Paul told the Galatians that the reason for the law was to lead us to Christ. The law was to show we could not do it but needed Christ to do it for us.

The law is for those who live by the flesh. Not just the Old Testament law, but in general the laws of other cultures as well. The law was put into effect to help curb the entropy of the fall, the downward spiraling effect that the flesh causes. The depth by which a person who lives by the flesh who lowers themselves to such selfish levels can be horrendous, and its affect on human and spiritual relationships catastrophic. It is a curse. So in this regard the law is good.

But I think Paul’s meaning regarding why “the law is good if anyone uses it lawfully” implies using it. How do we, who are innocent before the Lord, use the law lawfully? What is the usefulness of the law for those who are innocent? The law of the Old Testament is good if anyone uses it like it was meant to be used. The first thought that comes to mind is what Jesus said in Luke’s gospel (an apprentice of Paul by the way):

To the disciples “going to a village called Emmaus” Luke says that Jesus “beginning with Moses and all the Prophets…explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.” These disciples told each other after Jesus left: “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” And later when these disciples returned to Jerusalem with the other disciples Jesus appeared and He said “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.” (4) In other words “all the Scriptures.” Even today the Jewish people break all the Scriptures into these same three parts. (5) And interestingly Luke mentions that “he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.”

The law of the Old Testament shows two things, it was meant to help control the flesh and second show the grace and mercy of God in Christ through types and shadows and stories. This requires the mind to be opened by Christ in us. If we come to the Bible without Christ in view and without His help then we will begin to wander away from what Jesus says it was intended to be used for: it was “written about me.”

(1) Alfred Marshall, The Interlinear KJV-NIV Parallel New Testament in Greek and English, 1975, The Zondervan Corporation, 613.
(2) Galatians 1:6-7, 9; 3:1, 3.
(3) Marshall, 613.
(4) Luke 24: 27, 32, 44-45.
(5) The Jewish Bible is called the Tanakh. It includes the three parts of Torah (the five books of Moses), Nevi’im (the Prophets), and Kethuvim (the Writings). Tanakh: A New Translation of The Holy Scriptures, According to the Traditional Hebrew Text; The Jewish Publication Society, 1985.



“now the end of the charge is love…”
July 17, 2014, 1:34 pm
Filed under: R - First Letter to Timothy

Paul described to Timothy and in his previous letter to the ecclesia in Ephesus that there is “a stewardship of God in faith.” The brothers and sisters in Ephesus know how to live by Christ; Paul was in Ephesus for years helping them live by Christ. They know Paul. Later while In Rome he wrote perhaps his most encouraging and enlightening seminal work in his letter to this ecclesia! But there are “certain” brothers and sisters over the years in this ecclesia who have wandered from Christ’s life, the world had captured their focus, teaching differently and debating one another in the body due to paying attention to those things that seem important in their world’s culture.

God’s eternal purpose, His stewardship, is to live, to work through a body, His ecclesia as she lives by faith together. That is essentially what the letter to the Ephesians was all about (and every letter in the New Testament). What does this look like among the brothers and sisters? Sacrificial selfless love. Love bleeds through every book and letter of Scripture! In every letter Paul deals with the many issues that confront the gatherings of God’s people but in every single letter the goal was love. Christ’s love. Love is the outcome or the goal, the end result of what Paul is charging or trying to get across these “certain persons!” It is “love out of a clean heart and good conscience and unfeigned faith.” (1)

When Christ Jesus is “the Lord of us” then His Spirit will give life through our spirits. And as He lives through our spirits He will always manifest sacrificial selfless love, “agape,” through our soul and body. This love comes from within our spirit and manifests itself outwardly through our soul and body. This love is none other than Christ Himself! Christ resides in His people in their spirits by His Spirit. He has cleansed us from within, our hearts, our will. He has cleansed our conscience and we are no longer condemned. (2) He has cleansed our understanding and mindset of this world and we no longer “lie to get by,” but live in the reality of the truth of who we are in Christ and live by faith, a faith that is sincere and genuine and without hypocrisy. But in reality it is Christ Himself who is the clean One, the good One and the genuine One! Christ in us is what makes our hearts clean, our consciences good, and our faith genuine!

Given this understanding of how God works in His people, Paul states that these brothers and sisters who are teaching differently than this, creating worldly debates in the gatherings are wandering from God’s purpose for His body. The word “missing aim” means to wander, to get off target or swerve out of line. (3) If you are driving down the road in a car in heavy traffic and swerve out of line the consequences can be devastating, even deadly. My son is currently learning how to drive, about to get his driver’s license. Let me say that it is a scary feeling to see my son swerve in the other line of traffic! I didn’t just sit there and do nothing but quickly let him know what he was doing so he could make his correction. I didn’t grab the wheel and fix the problem, he did it. So to in the body of Christ.

We must help each other hear Christ and follow Him, even if it means making corrections. Part of the problem in the ecclesias is how to make corrections. Too often it is done outside the context of relationships and done without respect. Let us hear Christ first. Corrections are always based on relationships. Perhaps Jesus gave us the answer: “between you and them alone,” if that doesn’t work “take with you one or two more” believers as a witness, and if that doesn’t work “tell it to the ecclesia.” (4) Timothy is told not to tell the gathering in Ephesus, but “certain persons.” Whether the “certain persons” like what Paul says or not does not matter, they must bear in mind that swerving out of line of God’s purpose in the gatherings is deadly to the life of the body. If we are going forward in the Lord we will have to deal with our fleshly issues that we are blind to. Those who correct us, even that not done in love, is meant to help us see our blind spots, and as we confess it and realize the delusion of it, we see how Christ is our reality, even in this that we were blind to, and He becomes our cleanser and we move forward anew with “a clean heart and good conscience and a genuine faith” having experienced Christ and His body anew and in a real way drawing the body closer together in Christ. The Father loves the Son in us and only wants to see His Son expressed by His Spirit.

The goal, the conclusion, the end result of this charge by Christ in Paul is selfless “love out of a clean heart and good conscience and a genuine faith.” This is the overarching goal for this first letter to Timothy.

(1) Alfred Marshall, The Interlinear KJV-NIV Parallel New Testament in Greek and English, 1975, The Zondervan Corporation, 613.

(2) T. Austin-Sparks, “What Is Man?” T. Austin-Sparks in his seminal work “What is Man?” describes how our spirit has “three faculties” of “conscience, communion and intuition” and states that “the main value” of the spirit is “spiritual apprehension.” In this first letter to Timothy as well as in his other letters, including his joint letter to Hebrews, you can see how Paul always goes back to learning to hear and follow Christ’s life together from our spirits. His letter to Timothy is no exception. This is Paul’s overarching thought for every letter he has ever written, under the inspiration of the Spirit. It is how God’s eternal purpose is accomplished, by His Spirit living in, to and through us to the praise and glory of God.

(3) http://biblehub.com/greek/795.htm.

(4) Matthew 18:15-17.



“…a stewardship of God in faith…”
May 4, 2014, 1:58 pm
Filed under: R - First Letter to Timothy

After his greeting to his son in the faith Timothy, Paul gets right to the point, in ever the style of Paul. There are many different books and tests one can take to determine your personality. Paul’s was definitely dominant in his personality, but in Christ, His Spirit works through our personalities, enabling us to express the uniqueness of Christ in each of us, this however does not happen except through much struggle in life experiences with Him. Timothy is getting such a life experience in dealing with certain persons in the ecclesia of Ephesus.

Before leaving to go to Macedonia Paul had urged Timothy into some face-to-face dealings with “certain persons” who were causing the body to focus on things not of Christ wherever they gathered. (1) The body is ever in danger of falling back to this and for certain persons, male or female, to have this focus must be nipped in the bud. Paul’s letter seems to be a recounting of what he had already asked Timothy to do. One would venture to think that perhaps Paul didn’t have faith in Timothy to do what he asked because of having to write this letter, but to encourage someone to follow through in love is not a lack of faith it is to cheer one on in this fallen world where life is fraught with many discouragements and if possible, to steal, kill, and destroy the life of Christ in His body. We must encourage one another on. How we treat one another in the body of Christ is of profound importance. Because we are in this body of flesh we are learning to have Christ, by His Spirit, live from within our spirits through our lives. This gets pretty messy. This is the reason for so many of our New Testament letters that encourage us how to live by Christ together.

Throughout every letter that Paul wrote he made an emphasis to learn to live by Christ’s life together. His letters describe the process involved, the difficult change that occurs as the body “puts off” the flesh and “puts on” Christ Jesus. The difficulty is that we have an enemy who is adamant about not seeing Christ manifested in His body and we have this “flesh” who wants to keep His Spirit from living through us. This is the spiritual warfare of living with Christ as Head over our gatherings so that all may participate in His life together and in the world. But what a glorious thing to see His ekklesia, every member living by His life together, to the fullness of Christ! And the ekklesia is not called to “do” this once or a few times and everything is all right, while at the moment it may seem like that. While I do not necessarily adhere to Aristotle’s philosophy he is known to have stated: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” (2) If we see excellence as fullness we can see a spiritual application. Fullness doesn’t come from a one-time “act” but by growing in experiencing Him daily, a habit of living together by Christ’s life through the ups and downs of life. We are called to press further in love and faith, and subsequently the conflict can and often increases. And as we experience His life together because of our love and faith we recognize that it is His love and His faith, being “the Lord of us” that is in reality sustaining us.

Timothy is to “charge” certain persons not to “teach differently nor pay attention to tales and to genealogies unending.” The word “charge” means to hand an announcement from one to another. (3) Timothy is to give or hand over to certain men and women an announcement from Paul. And it begins with “not.” I have to say this doesn’t sound very positive. Who likes to hear the word “not” as someone begins to speak to you? Well, the Lord could do the same as He did through Peter at the start of the new ecclesia in Jerusalem, killing off a couple folks who decided to lie to the body! But here there is patience. Here there is warning. May we heed the warnings of Christ through His people! Only the flesh gets uptight with warnings, only the flesh gets defensive. God’s dealings with us through one another does just this, shows the ugliness of our flesh so we can learn to put it off through the loving encouragement of one another. How I have learned this to be true!

God’s eternal purpose, His stewardship, is to live, to work through a body, His ecclesia as she lives by faith together. If one teaches “differently” than this or causes the body “to pay attention to myths and to genealogies unending” the result is confusion. (4) These teachings seem to be a convergence of Gentile and Jewish teachings. Gentiles tended to focus on myths while Jews tended to focus on genealogies. Of course both topics could be found in each culture. Myths are never precise or accurate and have many versions and embellishments based on who tells the story. But woe to the one who denies the myth of the story teller! Myths are in reality opinions and opinions are a dime a dozen, but for many they are facts, such as what we also find in the sciences. If one contradicts the others myth, opinion, “hypothesis” who claims them as fact, problems occur within the relationships. Myths in reality are based in and lead to fear, fear of the unknown with all of its pathologies, and based in superstitions. Having done work in genealogy I know that it can get tiresome and be fraught with many questionings that lead down many rabbit trails. Rabbit trails based on some unreliable document that leads to another unreliable document. Often the purpose of genealogies is to find some long dead person who had some form of notoriety or fame by which to boast ones ego. In the end these are of little account, neither has nor increase truth, they accomplish nothing of Christ (5). The times spent in these subtle endeavors have caused many to spend time in pursuit of nothing and lost time that could have been in increasing our life in Christ together. None of these bring truth, life or love which are only found in Christ. Let us follow Christ together and allow His work through the body be accomplished.

(1) The Greek word “tisin” means “certain ones” or “certain persons” either male or female. http://biblehub.com/greek/5100.htm. Alfred Marshall, The Interlinear KJV-NIV Parallel New Testament in Greek and English, 1975, The Zondervan Corporation, 613.

(2) http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/a/aristotle145967.html.

(3) Alfred Marshall, The Interlinear KJV-NIV Parallel New Testament in Greek and English, 1975, The Zondervan Corporation, 613. W.E. Vine, Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 96. The word “parangeiles” means “to transmit a message along from one to another.” http://biblehub.com/greek/3853.htm.

(4) Alfred Marshall, The Interlinear KJV-NIV Parallel New Testament in Greek and English, 1975, The Zondervan Corporation, 613. W.E. Vine, Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 502-503. The best manuscripts use the Greek word “ekzetesis” which means “a questioning” while some manuscripts use the term “zetesis” which means “a seeking, search.” I am of the opinion that when so called “teachers” begin to express something other than Christ what begins to happen are questionings. Christ wants to be expressed through our spirits, but questionings on things other than Christ hide His life within.

(5) From Strong’s concordance the Greek word means to not finish or unfinished or not accomplish or unaccomplished. http://biblehub.com/greek/562.htm.



“…God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope…”
August 18, 2013, 2:05 pm
Filed under: R - First Letter to Timothy

As I begin this study of 1 Timothy, Titus and 2 Timothy (which will be done after 1 and 2 Peter in chronological order) I come to these letters a bit reticent. I know many brothers and sisters and have read accounts of those who mistrust these letters and do not consider them “God-breathed.” In truth the translators seem to have been biased towards a more legalized and institutional approach to word usage and with devastating results. This perhaps is one of the main reasons for much angst in the body of Christ, those who have been hurt and abused by those who are living by institutionalism than by Christ. But this problem of using Scripture to form legalistic traditions have been found throughout history and can be done with any portion of Scripture taken out of its context reading the Scripture without seeing Christ in them, without opened eyes from the Holy Spirit, and not seeing Father’s big picture of His ultimate purpose.

This mistrust of Scriptures can be seen of the letter by James in comparison to the letter to the Galatian ekklesias by Paul. These two letters have always been fraught with controversy because of the grace versus good works mentality and with Timothy its apparent imposition of a “church hierarchy,” what some would consider a move towards legalism by Paul. Many, including Martin Luther himself distrusted the letter of James as to him it focused more on good works than on grace. To Luther the letter of James was “an epistle full of straw, because it contains nothing evangelical.” (1) Of course, while much good can be seen from Luther’s early life, let the reader be warned that Luther himself did not always live by grace and certainly did not show good works when his “denomination” tortured and killed other Christians who opposed Lutheranism, which oft is the manifestation of denominationalism. In Gonzalez “Story of Christianity” he states that “Luther and Zwingli accepted the notion that church and state must live side by side, supporting each other” as a result “Anabaptists were accused of heresy and of sedition” and that “probably more than those who died during the three centuries of persecution before the time of Constantine.” Brothers and sisters “were drowned…burned to death…tortured to death, or drawn and quartered.” (2) Such results when brothers and sisters live not by love but by the flesh, who try to make a world government a Christian government. Lutheranism had become another religious institution intolerant of the work of the Spirit in the life of His people. Perhaps Luther should have remembered his own testimony of persecutions by the religious institution and the state and read a bit more of James. It is important to see that the letter of James focuses on what the outward expression of Christ looks like in the body of Christ and the conflict involved in living by faith while Paul’s letter to the Galatians focuses on the body of Christ living by the inward life of His Spirit in the midst of conflict. So for the one who reads these letters to Timothy and Titus, looking at the letter from the basis of James can help dispel a lot of angst among the brothers and sisters. For me Paul is using a similar style as the letter by James.

Timothy is well known to Paul and was his companion and assistant on his apostolic journeys. Paul describes Timothy as his “true child in the faith.” Could we say the same of our brothers and sisters who are on this journey of life in Him together? This journey is a faith journey of heart love with a family. Beginning with Paul’s second apostolic mission Timothy had been used much in helping the brothers and sisters learn to live by the life of Christ together and was involved with the ups and downs of organic life among the ekklesias, the gatherings of the brothers and sisters. Timothy was now about to face one of his greatest conflicts and Paul was not there to work with the ekklesia in its resolution. It is interesting to think what might have already occurred between Timothy and the ekklesia in Ephesus by the time Timothy received this letter from Paul. How did Timothy fare in the directions that Paul had given him? Some have suggested that the rebuke found in Revelation indicates the aftermath, the ekklesia not following the advice of Timothy, a negative turn for the ekklesia in Ephesus.

I find it interesting that Paul would open his letter to Timothy as he had previously with his letters to the ekklesias in the past. Perhaps it speaks of the foundation that Paul always lived from and something that he always reiterated both with the companions on his journeys and the ekklesias. Just as Paul was a “sent forth” one of “Christ Jesus” so too was Timothy. (3) And Paul wasn’t sent because of approval from a group of people, although many recognized Christ at work through Paul, and definitely not by his own reasoning, as Paul considered anything from himself to be dung, but directly from “a command” of God in Christ Himself.

God is for us not against us! In the original language the construction of this opening shows a unique phrasing. God is the Savior “of us,” Christ Jesus is the hope “of us” and the Lord “of us.” (4) As Paul told the ekklesia in Colosse “all the fullness of the Godhead” dwells in Christ. (5) In Christ the fullness of the Godhead dwells in us! Every purpose of God from eternity past finds its fullness in Christ in us! He is the Savior of us! He is the hope of us! He is the Lord of us! May we remind ourselves of this on our journey together with our brothers and sisters.

God the Father and Christ Jesus have given us “grace, mercy, peace.” How much grace, mercy, and peace have we been given!? How in our journey in Christ in this world, with our families, with the brothers and sisters and think of the various as sundry times we have been given grace, mercy, and peace, let alone what we have already been given already in Christ! Paul made much ado in all of his letters about the grace, mercy, and peace that he had been given, it was part and parcel of the tremendous testimony that was his in Christ. What a foundation to live by, knowing how much grace, mercy, and peace one has been given knowing what was your past but now having a future of immeasurable grace, mercy, and peace that could never have been yours apart from Christ and now to be sent forth by God Himself as part of His eternal purpose! Perhaps that is a bit of what Paul is trying to get across to Timothy. What an amazing destiny and future to be living in the eternal purpose of “God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope!”

(1) Barclay comments that “The Epistle of James is one of the books which had a very hard fight to get into the New Testament at all. Even when it did come to be regarded as Scripture it is still spoken of with a certain reserve and suspicion, and even as late as the sixteenth century Luther would gladly have banished it from the New Testament altogether.” William Barclay, The Letters of James and Peter, The Daily Study Bible, 1961, The Saint Andrew Press Edinburgh, 3,7.
(2) Justo L. Gonzalez, The Story of Christianity, Volume 2: The Reformation to the Present Day, 1985, HarperSanFrancisco, 56-57.
(3) The word “apostle” is literally “one sent forth.” W.E. Vine, Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 30-31.
(4) Alfred Marshall, The Interlinear KJV-NIV Parallel New Testament in Greek and English, 1975, The Zondervan Corporation, 613.
(5) Alfred Marshall, The Interlinear KJV-NIV Parallel New Testament in Greek and English, 1975, The Zondervan Corporation, 591.