October 24, 2012


Thursday after the Twentieth Sunday after Trinity

Lectionary

Morning - Ps.141, 142, 2 Kings 4:38-5:8, 1 Tim. 5:17-25
Evening - Ps. 137, 138, Eccles. 3:1-15, Mt. 21:1-6

Commentary, 1 Timothy 5:17-25

Paul turns from the financial support of widows within the congregation to the financial support of clergy 
(5:17-18).  The double honour owed to the elder (presbyter/clergy) while carrying the meaning of respect and cooperation, also means financial support.  It is the honouraria given to a person whose services are valued.  It is the same word used in 1 Tim. 5:3, which leads into the instructions about providing for destitute widows.  Verse 18 refers to the Old Testament principle of not muzzling the ox who treads the grain, for to do so is deprive him of his due compensation.  If it is wrong to deprive the ox of his compensation, it is also wrong to deprive the clergy of his.

Having broached the treatment of ministers again, Paul says accusations against them are not to be lightly received.  This refers to accusations of serious sin or heresy, which require disciplinary action.  Two or three witnesses are required to verify the charge (5:19), and the guilty are to be rebuked before all (5:20) without partiality (5:21). "Justice is blind." The same principles apply to all members of the Church.  We neither speak nor hear idle gossip, complaints, or accusations against our fellow servants of Christ.

Because the authority and responsibility placed upon the clergy is so great, Timothy is to take great care that he ordains (lays hands on) only those who have proven themselves faithful (5:22).  They are to have faced a time of testing and examination so that their views and practices are well known.  To ordain someone without this is to be a partaker of his sins, if he later proves to be of heretical views and unorthodox practices which he has spread to the people.  

Friday after the Twentieth Sunday after Trinity

 Lectionary        

 Morning - Ps. 143, 2 Kings 5:9-19, 1 Tim. 6:1-11
Evening - Ps. 139, Eccles. 3:16, Mt. 21:17-32

 Commentary, 1 Timothy 6:1-11

 Servants are to count their masters as worthy of all honour.  Here again, "honour" carries the double meaning of respect and payment.  So the servant is to consider the master worthy of respect and worthy of his share of the servant's production.  This has tremendous meaning for Christians in the work force today.  It means we are to honour those who create our jobs and pay our wages.  Likewise, masters are to pay wages that are fair and just, and Christian charity and equality is to bring masters and servants into mutual love.  Thus Paul urged Philemon to receive Onesimus not as a slave but as a brother (Phil. 16).   This principle is so important Paul says anyone who teaches otherwise does not consent to the words of Christ or the doctrine that is in accordance with Godliness (6:3).  Instead he is proud, ignorant, and destitute of the truth (6:3-5).
Then, as now, some taught that Godliness is a pathway to financial gain.  It is true that hard work and frugal living generally produce prosperity, but there are no guarantees in the Bible about this.  A Christian's business may fail.  His job may be eliminated.  And office politics may deny him promotions, or, even get him fired.  We live in a fallen world where sinners sin and evil things happen, so this should not surprise us.  God makes no promises to make us rich.  Especially does He not promise to reward holy living or giving money to the Church with financial success.

There is gain in Godliness, but it is spiritual, not financial (6:7) and we should content ourselves with food and raiment (6:8) knowing that the rich fall into many temptations that can drown them in destruction and perdition (6:9-10).  In contrast to those who seek primarily wealth, Christians are to seek contentment, and follow after Godliness (6:11).

Saturday after the Twentieth Sunday after Trinity

Lectionary

Morning - Ps. 149, 2 Kings 5:20, 1 Tim. 6:12
Evening - Ps. 19, 46, Eccles. 5:1-7, Mt. 21:33

Commentary, 1 Timothy 6:12-21

Paul has reminded and encouraged Timothy to flee the things of unGodliness and follow after the things of God (6:11).  These words convey a picture of running away from unGodliness, and running after Godliness.  It is important to note that the things to be run from, and the things to be pursued are not just actions, they are character traits.  Thus, Timothy, and we through him, is reminded that a major part of the Christian life is the reformation of personal character.  It is being changed in who and what we are.  To pursue the things of Godliness means to cultivate them and to work at making them a part of us.  This is not easy.  Paul compares it to a fight, a battle (6:12, see also 1 Tim. 1:8).  And the enemy is within us.  The enemy is our own desire to please ourselves at the expense of others and to the neglect of God.  John Chrysostom, in his Homilies on Timothy, XVIII, calls our desires, "passions," and says power and wealth in this world, even to the extent of ruling over nations, is nothing if we do not have rule over our own passions.

"For of what advantage, tell me, is it to reign over nations of our fellow-men, and to be the slaves of our own passions?  Or what are we the worse for having no one under our rule if we are superior to the tyranny of the passions?  That indeed is Freedom, that is Rule, that is Royalty and Sovereignty.  The contrary is slavery, though a man be invested with countless diadems.  For when a multitude of masters sway him from within, the love of money, the love of pleasure, and anger and other passions, what avails his diadem?  The tyranny of those passions is more severe, when not even his crown has power to deliver him from their subjection."

The good fight also includes contending for the faith and standing firm for Christ against the darkness.  The entire Christian life is a battle against the forces of evil, both outside of and within our own hearts.  Thus, Paul urges Timothy to "lay hold on eternal life" (6:12).  He is to hold fast to Christ and the salvation given to him by the sacrifice of the Lord.  This is not a once for all thing, it is a lifelong process and it is part of fighting the good fight.  Timothy has professed Christ.  He has made the decision to trust Christ as Lord and Saviour.  Now he must continue to lay hold of Christ throughout his life, for it is those who persevere to the end who are truly saved.  Paul refers here to what he calls walking in newness of life (Rom. 6:4), and what John calls walking in the light (1 Jn. 1:7).  Each of these verses refers to a continuous action.  Walk and continue to walk.   Keep on laying hold of the eternal life you laid hold of in your profession of Christ.

Christ Himself is the ground of our faith, and the hope of His appearing, both in His word and Spirit, and in His Second Coming, is what keeps us laying hold of Him.  It is also the ground of Timothy's charge, and his reason for continuously keeping it. Verses 14-16 show the glory of Christ.
Paul gives a final exhortation about the rich ((6:17-19), and ends with a heartfelt plea that Timothy will "keep that which is committed to thy trust." What has been committed to his trust? The Gospel and the ministry of reconciliation, the care of souls and churches, the shepherding of the shepherds, the responsibility to pass on the faith pure and undiluted, and to continue to fight the good fight.  It is everything Paul has placed into Timothy's care in this epistle.

2 comments:

  1. Yes, we are in a spiritual war, because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. (Romans ch. 8 v.7) However, the weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. and with them we demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. (2 Corinthians ch.10 vs.4,5.

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  2. Miss Brenda,

    Thank you for your thoughtful comments. I always appreciate your insights.

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