Understanding Your Bible

The Pastoral Epistles

Learn to USE your Bible – Week Five – Part Two 💕

Index Your Bible— Week Five

Over the past four weeks you’ve looked at both the Old and New Testaments, The Gospels and Acts and some of the surviving letters to the first-century churches. This week you will continue indexing the New Testament Letters, by finding out a little about “The Pastoral Epistles” so called because they deal with the qualification and duties of church ministers and administrators.

The letters to Timothy and Titus

There are two letters in the New Testaments that are addressed to Timothy. He was Paul’s young disciple, who occupied a special place in the apostle’s heart. Timothy was Paul’s coworker, emissary, traveling companion and “true son in the faith.” (1 Tim. 1:2). Born at Lystra of a Greek father and a Jewish mother, Timothy was taught the Scriptures from childhood by both his mother and grandmother (2 Tim. 1:5) and these studies allowed him to develop a “sincere faith.” When Paul came to Lystra on his second missionary journey (Acts 16:1-3) he enlisted Timothy as aide. He was then associated with Paul till the end of Paul’s life

First Timothy

This letter is essentially a letter of encouragement to Paul’s aide, Timothy. At the time of this writing, probably about A.D. 63 to A.D, 65, Timothy was working in Ephesus as an overseer of the church Paul had planted there. He was sent to combat false teaching that was infiltrating the church and to establish the governing leaders of the body. Although it is not entirely a personal letter, Paul seems to have used the occasion to construct a letter on the nature of Christian ministry in the face of opposition and heresy. Paul viewed the opposition his young protege was enduring from a prophetic perspective, pointing out that the Spirit had foretold such apostasy. With loving support and step by step instructions Paul leaves a wonderful legacy of trustworthy guidelines for the church that we, too, can follow to keep on the right path in faith and godliness.

PUT A STICKIE TAB HERE SO YOU CAN FIND THE LETTERS TO TIMOTHY QUICKLY.

Also, as we’ve been doing, let’s highlight a few verses to help with cultivating your personal relationship with Jesus.

1 Tim. 1:15 This is a true saying, to be completely accepted and believed: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners….

1 Tim. 2:1-4 First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, requests, and thanksgivings be offered to God for all people; for kings and all others who are in authority, that we may live a quiet and peaceful life with all reverence toward God and with proper conduct. This is good and it pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to come to know the truth.

1 Tim. 4:11 Do not let anyone look down on you because you are young, {in years or in the faith} but be an example for the believers in your speech, your conduct, your love, faith, and purity {emphasis is mine}

Second Timothy

Paul wrote this letter from a Roman prison in about A.D. 67. A careful reading of the letter gives us a picture of an old man, feeling alone, abandoned and betrayed. He seems to sense that his opportunities for preaching the Gospel are about at an end for he tells Timothy:

“As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing. (4:6-8)

Paul is longing to see Timothy again, asking him to come to Rome and to bring the books and parchments he left in Troas. Winter is approaching and he asks for his warm cloak, then he assures his young disciple,

“But the Lord stood with me and gave me strength so that I might preach the Good News in its entirety for all the Gentiles to hear. And he rescued me from certain death.” The Greek here is “from the mouth of a lion.”

Except for his Roman citizenship Paul would probably have been thrown to the lions in Nero’s amphitheater rather than remaining incarcerated. (v:17)

Throughout this poignant letter Paul remains teacher and mentor and friend — offering guidance, sharing the wisdom gained during the years of his ministry and encouraging Timothy to stand firm in the faith. Despite Paul’s difficult circumstances, his concern for Timothy and the church in Ephesus reminds us that in spite of threats to our values and beliefs, we can run the race of faith and finish well.

Some valuable verses to highlight are:

2 Tim. 1:7 For the Spirit that God has given us does not make us timid; instead, his Spirit fills us with power, love, and self-control.

2 Tim 3:1-5 Remember that there will be difficult times in the last days. People will be selfish, greedy, boastful, and conceited; they will be insulting, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, and irreligious; they will be unkind, merciless, slanderers, violent, and fierce; they will hate the good; they will be treacherous, reckless, and swollen with pride; they will love pleasure rather than God; they will hold to the outward form of our religion, but reject its real power. Keep away from such people.

2 Tim. 4:1-5 In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and because he is coming to rule as King, I solemnly urge you to preach the message, to insist upon proclaiming it (whether the time is right or not), to convince, reproach, and encourage, as you teach with all patience. The time will come when people will not listen to sound doctrine, but will follow their own desires and will collect for themselves more and more teachers who will tell them what they are itching to hear. They will turn away from listening to the truth and give their attention to legends. But you must keep control of yourself in all circumstances; endure suffering, do the work of a preacher of the Good News, and perform your whole duty as a servant of God.

Titus

This letter was written to one of Paul’s Gentile converts from Antioch, shortly after Paul left him in charge of the believers on Crete. In Gal. 2:1-3 we find him accompanying Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem to lay Paul’s Gospel message before the Church Council. During his travels with Paul over a period of about fifteen years, Titus became one of the apostle’s most trusted associates. After Paul’s release from his first Roman imprisonment (Acts 28) they ministered together on Crete for a brief period. When Paul moved on, he left Titus behind to continue the ministry, organize the churches on the island, teach sound doctrine and appoint elders.

Paul wrote to encourage Titus and give him further instructions for accomplishing his task; stressing that believers’ actions should reflect their faith. Apparently the believers on the island of Crete were slipping into the sinful practices of a godless society so Paul strongly warns them about false teachers and instructs them in true Christ like conduct.

Today it is clear t he way we relate to others is a clear reflection of our faith and beliefs. How we live in a godless society is as important as what our position in a church or a corporation says about us as Christians.

PUT A STICKIE TAB HERE TO QUICKLY FIND TITUS.

And highlight this passage for future study.

1:15-16 Everything is pure to those who are themselves pure; but nothing is pure to those who are defiled and unbelieving, for their minds and consciences have been defiled. They claim that they know God, but their actions deny it. They are hateful and disobedient, not fit to do anything good.

Philemon

Along with Colossians, Philippians, and Ephesians, this letter is classified as one of the “Prison Epistles” written from Rome in about A.D. 60 during Paul’s first imprisonment there.

Oneismus, a slave, had stolen goods or money from his master and fled to Rome where, through Paul’s ministry, he was converted to Christianity. Paul sent him back to his master, Philemon, and sent this letter along with him promising to personally pay back whatever he owed his master. The letter is addressed primarily to Philemon, Paul’s fellow-worker and dear brother who, “has brought me great joy and much encouragement!” The brief letter is also addressed to Apphia (possibly Philemon’s wife) Archippus and the members of the church that met in Philemon’s household. Paul pleads with them to be lenient with this runaway slave. Under Roman law Philemon could have punished Oneismus with almost any degree of severity. Approximately a third of the first-century Roman population was made up of slaves, who had no legal status whatsoever. A runaway could be severely whipped, branded on the face, chained, forced to wear an iron neck collar or restrained by having both legs broken. Slaves could also be sold to the mines or sentenced to death. Paul wanted Philemon not only to forgive his slave, as a Christian brother, but to grant him grace and forgiveness, and “welcome him back just as you would welcome me.”

Philemon is a brief, yet passionate, letter but it emphasizes that Christian relationships must exude forgiveness and acceptance. Whether others have betrayed us, offended us or turned away from us for any reason, we can look to God for the grace to show them what Christ has shown us — gracious forgiveness, willing acceptance and abundant love.

PUT A STICKIE TAB HERE SO YOU CAN FIND PHILEMON QUICKLY.

And highlight Paul’s prayer in verses 4-7

“…every time I pray, I mention you and give thanks to my God. For I hear of your love for all of God’s people and the faith you have in the Lord Jesus. My prayer is that our fellowship with you as believers will bring about a deeper understanding of every blessing which we have in our life in union with Christ. Your love, dear brother, has brought me great joy and much encouragement! You have cheered the hearts of all of God’s people.”