Monday, March 15, 2004

1 Timothy -- Passing the Baton

If you aspire to Christian leadership, the letters of Paul to Timothy and Titus are worth studying. Paul is passing the baton of leadership to the second generation of Christian leaders. In them, we observe what Paul considered important as he teaches them about goals, responsibilities, and technique. They are of great value.

Paul begins his first letter to Timothy with this greeting:

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus according to the commandment of God our Savior, and of Christ Jesus, who is our hope, To Timothy, my true child in the faith: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. (1 Timothy 1:1-2)

As I have noted in my expositions of Philemon and Philippians, Paul's greetings have a way of under girding the central message of the letter. The same can be said here. Note the elements:

  • Paul calls himself an apostle. By this he is writing the letter from his office as an apostle. The letter, therefore, carries apostolic weight. 
  • Paul emphasizes this further by saying that his authority derives from the commandment of God and Jesus. Since this letter instructs Timothy to be a leader of leaders, Paul establishes that which safeguards Christian leadership: the correct interpretation and application of Scripture..
  • Paul refers to God as our Savior. We tend to think of Jesus as our Savior, but Paul indirectly reminds us that the Father desired to save and sent His Son into the world to accomplish it.
  • Paul refers to Christ Jesus as our hope. It is through Him that salvation has come.
  • Paul writes as apostle, but also as a spiritual father to Timothy. Where Timothy is concerned, Paul's apostolic authority is mediated through a father's affection.

There comes a time in life when a one begins to think about turning things over to the next generation. I find that happening to me more and more. For example, I am beginning to make the preparations for this year's Passover dinner at my church. Once more, I will sit with my youngest son and coach him in the "four questions." Before him came his two older sisters and his older brothers. He is the last of the children that I have. Who should be next, except my oldest grand daughter? At that time, who should lead the Passover celebration in the church? It will be time for my son, her father, to pick up the tradition and carry it forward.

Paul has been about the business of the gospel for many years when he wrote this letter to Timothy. The year is around 62 A.D. Paul is over sixty years old. His body bears the scars of dangerous endeavors. It is no accident that the last letters we have from Paul are to the next generation of church leaders. He has begun to pass on his legacy. In so doing he continues to pass that same legacy to generation after generation of leaders.

Tomorrow, I will begin the study of this letter in earnest. You will see the connection between the greeting and the first issue for which Paul has instruction.

<>< Test everything. Cling to what is good. ><>

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