October 17, 2012


Thursday after the Nineteenth Sunday after Trinity
                                           
Lectionary

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

Commentary, 1 Timothy 1:12-20

In 1 Timothy 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 Christ 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.

Friday after the Nineteenth Sunday after Trinity

Lectionary

Morning - Ps. 119:145-160, 2 Kings 1:1-17, 1 Tim. 2:1-10
Evening - Ps. 119:161-176, Job 39:19, Mt. 18:15

Commentary, 1Timothy 2:1-10

Though chapter 2 begins a new section, it is still part of Paul's instruction to Timothy about the charge he is to give to the people and clergy of Ephesus.  Instead of false teachings (1:3) and fruitless speculation about the law (1:4), Timothy is to charge them to devote themselves to prayer and Godliness.  The prayers of verses 1 and 2 follow the ancient liturgies, and Paul probably had them in mind as he wrote these verses.  Note the similarity between verse 2 and the Liturgy of St. Mark as quoted in the Pulpit Commentary;
                    
"Preserve our king in peace, in virtue, and righteousness... incline him to peace towards us and towards thy Holy Name, that in the serenity of his reign we too may lead a quiet and tranquil life in all piety and honesty."
                                                              
Rather than their own speculations, the ministers are to remind the people of the Gospel, of the only Mediator between God and man, "who gave himself a ransom for all" (2:3-6).  It is to proclaim this Gospel that Paul was ordained a preacher and Apostle (2:7).  The implication is that if Paul was ordained to preach the Gospel, then the clergy of Ephesus, ordained by Paul and Timothy, were ordained to preach that same Gospel.
                                           
Verse 8 refers to the public prayers in the churches of Ephesus.  "Everywhere," means, in all the congregations. "Lifting up holy hands" was the common position for prayer.  Meeting in the homes of the church members, which often had only a few stools or chairs, the Christians stood for hymns, Scripture reading, and sermons, and knelt for prayer.  Rather than folding their hands in front of them, they held them at their sides, waist high and palms up during prayer.  They did not wave their hands or sway their bodies.
                    
Verses 9 and 10 complete today's reading with instructions to the women to dress modestly.  This, of course, includes the need to dress in ways that cover, rather than in ways intended to allure.  But it also means to dress in ways that do not call attention to the cost and beauty of the apparel.  "Modesty" in this sense is used the way we use it when we say, "modest means."  The apparel should be adequate and comfortable, not shabby or poor.  The intent of the woman is not to have people admire her, but to worship God.
              
Saturday after the Nineteenth Sunday after Trinity
                                                 
Lectionary

Morning - Ps. 120, 122, 123, 2 Kings 2:1-15, 1Timothy 3:1-13
Evening - Ps. 144, Job 42:1-9, Mt. 19:1-15

Commentary, 1 Timothy 3:1-13

The Church belongs to God.  He established it for His own purposes, and He has given pointed and direct instructions regarding its nature and function.  The Church is His body, His kingdom, and His people.  In this regard it is the fulfillment of Old Testament promises, such as the one in Isaiah 60:3, "The Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising."  New Testament books elucidate the fulfillment of this promise in passages like Galatians 6 and Ephesians 2 and 3.  Galatians 6:16 teaches that all who walk according to faith in Christ are "the Israel of God."  Ephesians 2 and 3 teach that Jewish and Gentile Christians are "fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel."

God also gave the Church its doctrines, worship, and organisational structure.  They are found in the New Testament, which records and explains the life and teaching of Christ which He gave to the Apostles, and which He commissioned them to teach to the world (Mt. 28:19-20).  The Apostles taught others, and ordained them to teach others also (1 Tim. 4:6-16, 2 Tim. 2:2, 4:1-2).  This morning's reading in 1 Timothy addresses those called to offices of leadership in the Church.  Specifically it refers to those called to be bishops and deacons.

The bishop is the overseer of the churches in a particular area.  It is his task to ensure that the ministers teach the truth in accordance with what they have been taught by the Apostles. He is also responsible for ordaining properly called and equiped men into the ministry, and for seeing that the local churches receive the pure Gospel of Christ and remain free of the false teachers that constantly attempt to infiltrate the Church.  The abundance of false doctrines and false teachers made it very important for for the early Church to be able to distinguish between the true and false ministers.  One of the "tests" they used was called apostolic succession, meaning a bishop should be able to trace his line of ordination and teaching back to the Apostles.  During the life time of the Apostles this was quite easy, for the Apostles visited the churches and affirmed the ministers in them.  As the Apostles began to die out, ministers ensured that they were taught and ordained by men who had been taught and ordained by the Apostles.  Careful records were kept.  Thus we know Irenaeus, was taught by Polycarp, and Polycarp was taught by the Apostle John.  A similar process helped determine which of the many books circulating through the early Church were to be included in the Bible.  Those included had to be of Apostolic authorship, such as the Gospel of John, or written at the direction of an Apostle, such as the Gospel of Mark.  So it was very important that the clergy in Ephesus could say they were taught and ordained by Paul, or by Timothy, or by a bishop taught and ordained by them.  It was not a status symbol; it was a matter of keeping and teaching the Apostolic faith.

Charged, by the Apostle Paul with the task of of teaching and ordaining clergy in the churches in and around Ephesus, Timothy was well aquainted with the qualities and qualifications required of ministers.  Paul put them in this letter to be read to the churches, so all would know that Timothy was not inventing them, but was doing all in accordance with the directive of the Apostle.

The requirements are clear and unambiguous.  The bishop is to be of good moral character (3:1-3), a Godly leader in his own home (3: 2, and 4), mature in the faith (3:6), and known for these attributes in the community (3:7).  As the primary pastor of the church in his area, he will continually lead the clergy and congregations into the things of God, therefore he must be apt to teach (3:2).

The requirement for deacons are no less stringent.  Deacons assist the bishop in the services of the Church and the care of the poor.  They may also be called upon to preach and evangelise as Phillip was in Acts 8.  Their practice and knowledge of the faith must be in keeping with importance of his ministry.

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