In this series I’m going to be drawing some thoughts from Paul’s letters to Timothy and Titus.
1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our Saviour and of Christ Jesus our hope, 2 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 (ESV)
Jesus is our hope
The city of Ephesus, where Timothy is based, wasn’t a lot different from some of the cities in the UK. Ephesus was a large, diverse, religiously complex and commercially prospering city. It wasn’t a city based on Judeo-Christian values, but on pagan ones. Ephesus didn’t have it’s own unique brand of sin and rebellion – neither do we. All sin and rebellion is an act of independence from God – it just manifest in different ways. So what hope is that for Ephesus, or Southampton, for that matter? Well as I write this the UK is on the eve of Brexit and I find Paul’s opening remark to be so helpful a reminder that Jesus is our hope. There are so many things that we can place our hope in today:
- Europe, or being out of it, depending on your perspective
- money .. a pay-rise, the next pay-day
- a reduction in mortgage rates .. or the end of your mortgage term
- good health
- your spouse
- our church
- your pastor
I’m reminded that all of these things are hopeless when compared to Jesus, because He, and He alone, is our hope is. Why? well Paul says …. because God is our Saviour. So we should trust in Him more than we trust in anything else, because nothing else saves us. God saves us through the work of Jesus and that gives us hope!
Back to Basics
The first letter of Paul was written to his young pastor friend Timothy. Paul calls him his “true child in the faith”. He assisted Paul in a number of different ministries:
- 1 Thessalonians 3 – Timothy was sent to the church to strengthen the church through the trails that they are facing. Timothy was a strong encouraging individual but someone who was also compassionate.
- 1 Corinthians 4:16–17,16:10–11 – Timothy was sent to this very troubled church to remind them “of my ways in Christ”. Timothy was a faithful disciple of Christ who replicated the ministry of Paul and was able to show some tough love to the church in Corinth.
- Philippians 2:19–24 – Timothy was sent to Philippi because he was “genuinely concerned for your welfare”. It’s clear from this passage that Paul loved Timothy and that there was no-one he treasured more in ministry that him.
This makes this letter a very personal letter. Paul had sent him to Ephesus somewhere around 55ad to do the difficult work of combating false teaching (1 Timothy 3). Here are some of the things that the church in Ephesus were in danger of doing, and Timothy is told is speak out against:
- They were straying in their doctrine (1:3)
- They were preoccupied with myths, genealogies and speculation (1:4)
- They misused the law (1:7)
- They were apparently immoral (1:19-20)
- They no longer grieved over sin (4:2)
- They were forbidding marriage and eating certain foods (4:3)
- They craved controversy and quarrels (6:4)
- They were using godliness for material gain (6:5)
Just a cursory glance over those issues will tell you that these are no small issues. Paul even refers to them as “teachings of demons” (4:1). The affect the way we live as Christians every single day. So, Timothy had the very difficult job of leading this church and be faithful to the Word of God. Even though this was difficult, any task done for the Lord is a glorious one, and something worth devoting one’s life to. In many ways, this letter was written so that today we, in the 21st century, would know how to conduct ourselves when we come together as followers of Christ. We are to get back to the basics, the fundamentals of the truth of the Bible.
As our only hope is Jesus, our only source of truth is the Bible.