Lessons from I and II Timothy

I Timothy:

Chapter 1:  Christ is “our hope.” Don’t worry about “endless genealogies.”  The goal of instruction is “love,” “good conscience,” and a “sincere faith.”  Paul condemns, inter alia, homosexuals.  He acknowledges his own past sinfulness.

Chapter 2:  This chapter must give the Left fits.  In verses 2:1-2, Paul says that we should pray for “kings and all who are in authority,” so that “we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.”  Verses 2:8-15 sets out a different and submissive role for women; Paul warns them against costly adornments (versus good works) and, in light of the Fall, says they should submit to instruction; and “I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet …. [W]omen should be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint.”  All this does not seemed to be tied to a particular congregation (with unruly women in it); rather, Paul seems to be saying that women have a particular place.

Chapter 3:  Paul endorses monogamy, at least for church leaders.  These leaders should not be drunk or greedy; with an orderly house. respectable wives, and well-behaved children; they should have a good reputation and be dignified and reputable.  (So, we love the lowly, but don’t make them leaders.)

Chapter 4:  Paul endorses “public reading of Scripture”; there’s nothing wrong with marriage or any food.

Chapter 5:  This is another chapter with plenty of emphasis on respectability.  Treat the older as parents and the younger as siblings; take care of widows, but only if they are respectable and older than sixty (the younger should remarry).  Have a little wine for your stomach’s sake.  In 5:8 Paul writes, “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith, and is worse than an unbeliever.”

Chapter 6:  Verses 1-2 tell slaves to be respectful “so that the name of God and our doctrine may not be spoken against.”  (Well, at that time, was that much different from saying that you should follow the law and render under Caesar what is Caesar’s?)  And we should all be content with little, since we are born naked and die naked, and “love of money is the root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith.”

II Timothy:

This is Paul’s last letter, and it was written from prison as he awaited his execution.  Paul is very human in this letter — very emotional.  That suggests there is nothing wrong with this, does it not? — or, at least, that being emotional does not keep one from writing Scripture.

Chapter 1:  Paul praises the faith of Timothy’s grandmother and mother — a fact worth noting, given the frequent claims that Paul was sexist.  Don’t be timid; be disciplined.  We are not saved and called according to works (1:9 — but then, in 1:16-18, Paul asks that God grant mercy to someone because of his works, suggesting that, to some degree or other, works are necessary but not sufficient; cf. 4:14, where Paul says someone will be punished “according to his deeds”).  Note:  The “laying on of … hands” is mentioned at 1:6.  Loyalty and steadfastness are implicitly if not explicitly valued throughout.

Chapter 2:  If we deny Him, He will deny us.  Don’t “wrangle about words.”  Avoid worldly and empty chatter, youthful lusts, foolish and ignorant speculations, and being quarrelsome.  Pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace; be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, and gentle when correcting those in opposition.

Chapter 3:  Paul criticizes lovers of self, lovers of money, the boastful, the arrogant, revilers, those disobedient to parents, the ungrateful, the unholy, the unloving, the irreconcilable, malicious gossips, those without self-control, the brutal, haters of the good, the treacherous, the reckless, the conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, those opposing the truth, and men of depraved mind.  Paul praises faith, patience, and love (cf. I Corinthians 13, which famously concludes with Paul’s praise for faith, hope, and love).  The good will be persecuted.  Paul refers to “the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.  All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness, that the men of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

Chapter 4:  Preach the word; always be ready; “reprove, rebuke, exhort with great patience and instruction,” since people will, alas, want teachers who just tell them the myths they want to hear instead of the truth.  All who love the Lord’s appearing will wear the crown of righteousness.  And 4:7 is famous:  “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith ….”