November 7, 2011

Tuesday after the Twentieth Sunday after Trinity

Lectionary

Morning - Ps.125, 126, 2 Kings 4:18-25, 1 Tim. 4:6
Evening - Ps. 132, Eccles. 2:1-11, Mt. 20:1-16

Commentary
1Timothy 4:6-16

This passage has two primary points. First, put the people "in remembrance of these things." Second, "exercise thyself unto godliness."

"These things" (4:6) refers to the things written and referred to in this letter. They are the true doctrines of the Gospel of Christ, which have been entrusted to Paul (1:11), which he has entrusted to Timothy, and which Timothy was to entrust to the ministers of Ephesus (1:3-5). One of Timothy's tasks in Ephesus was to consecrate one of the elders to oversee the churches as bishop of Ephesus. Another task was to ordain men to the deaconate (3:1-13, 5:22). He was to instruct clergy in the patterns of worship, daily prayer, and Christian love (1:5), so they could instruct the laity in them (4:11, 1:3). He was also to teach them to actively avoid falsehood and vain speculation about Scriptures and Heavenly things (4:7).

To "exercise thyself unto godliness" (4:7) is to practice the discipline of living for God daily. It includes habituating ourselves in the patterns of public worship, daily prayer, the Scriptures, and conduct and conversation that develop faith and faithfulness in us. Our goal is to "Draw nigh unto God" (Jas. 4:8-10) and to be "transformed by the renewing of your mind" (Rom.12:2). It is to be continually in the process of becoming more a person God wants you to be, and less a person of self and sin. Thus, Timothy was to meditate in and give himself wholly to them.

Timothy was to give attendance (devote himself to) reading the Scriptures, exhortation to Biblical thinking and living, and doctrine, which is teaching and applying what the Bible says (4:13). He would have naturally spent much of his time teaching the clergy of Ephesus and the surrounding area. But the reading, exhortation, and doctrine would have been part of his public duties in worship, and in private meetings as well. Timothy was to be a man of prayer, diligent in the means of grace. He was then to teach the clergy to do the same, and they were to lead the people into the same pattern.

So diligence in exercising unto godliness is the calling of all. It is not just for Apostles, or bishops, or clergy; it is the way of life for all Christians. I wonder how different our own lives would be, and what a difference we might make in the Church and the world if we would simply apply ourselves unto Godliness.

The gift and laying on hands of verse 14 refers to Timothy's ordination to the ministry of the Gospel, and the gifts of the Spirit that enabled him to accomplish his task. It especially refers to the ability to teach the Scriptures, called here "prophecy."

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