November 2, 2011

Thursday after the Nineteenth Sunday after Trinity

Lectionary

Morning - Ps. 100, 110, 1 Kings 22:29-40, 1Timothy 1:12-20
Evening - Ps. 116, Job 38:31-38, Mt. 18:1-14

Commentary
1Timothy 1:12-20

In 1:5-11 Paul refutes the use of the law as a source of futile speculation. It is not given so men can spin it into fables and genealogies as some of the Jews did (1:3 & 4). It is given to show God's standard of righteousness, and how far we have departed from it. In short, it is given to lead us to Christ. Paul's own life is an example of this. He rejoices that he has been called to the service of the Gospel (1:12), but recalls that he was previously a blasphemer of God and a persecutor of His Church (1:13). It was the grace of God in Christ that forgave His sins and called him into Christ's service (1:14), for Christ came into the world to save sinners (1:15). For Paul to call himself chief of sinners is to recognise that he had departed far from the standard of God in the law. But because he learned of his sin, he was moved to repent and seek God. And God had a dual purpose for Paul when He saved him. First, through Paul's conversion the world would see the longsuffering (patient love) of God (1:15). Second, Paul's conversion was to be a pattern, or, example, to all who believe in Christ to everlasting life (1:16). Future believers, including Timothy, those to whom he ministers, and us, can see in Paul's conversion the pattern by which God calls others to faith in Christ. Paul's example ends in a doxology (1:17), thanking and praising God who has saved him and the Church through Christ.

Finished with his example, Paul continues to delineate Timothy's task in Ephesus (1:18-19). We remember that Paul is committing to Timothy the task of charging the ministers in Ephesus to preach the Gospel of Chris instead of their own views and speculations (1:3-4). Thus, Paul says in verse 18, "This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy." "Prophecies" (1:18) probably are not things foretold about Timothy, but the revelation of God taught to Timothy through Paul and others, and to which Timothy has devoted his life. It is by the Apostolic teaching, which is really Christ's teaching, that Timothy is to "war a good warfare." It is the Gospel of Christ that will cast down Satan, free the spiritual captives, and deliver them safely into Heaven, and it is Apostolic teaching which Timothy is urged to teach the ministers in Ephesus.

He is to teach in "good conscience" (1:19). This means he is to first believe the Gospel, then teach it. He cannot teach what he does not believe without being a phony and a liar. Some have turned away from the Gospel, and suffered shipwreck on the rocks and storms of false teachings. Hymenaeus and Alexander stand out in Paul's mind, and they have been excommunicated, which is to be turned over to Satan as unbelievers until they show signs of repentance and true faith.

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