Tuesday, 27 February 2018
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus, 2 Timothy 1:1
Welcome to the book of 2 Timothy! It is the second of the three “pastoral epistles,” and it is comprised of 83 verses. Thus, it is exactly 30 verses shorter than 1 Timothy, and it will take us (one day at a time, just as we get up each day to go about our business) a smidgen under three months to analyze it. It is hoped that you will be blessed as each verse brings marvelous insights into this beautiful epistle from the mind of God and through the hand of Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles.
Paul begins the epistle by identifying himself – He is Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, Timothy’s mentor, and the one with whom Timothy had traveled and fellowshipped in a close and personal manner.
He next identifies his apostleship with the words, “an apostle of Jesus Christ.” He is a messenger of the Lord, having been called by Him personally to perform this weighty duty which has been so amazingly fruitful for the past two thousand years. This is his one claim to the authority of writing a letter of doctrine, and it is with this authority that he thus writes.
After this, he notes that his apostleship is “by the will of God.” This is the same phrase as is seen in 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Ephesians, and Colossians. It is what further defines his calling and which affirms his authority. It also is a note of humility in that he was selected, and therefore it was not of his own merits. Instead it was by the sovereign decision of God that he is so designated an apostle. His selection was nothing he had sought after, and it was entirely unmerited. Having said that, Paul notes elsewhere that it is a calling that he could have ignored, thus demonstrating free will is included in the matter. That is found in Acts 26:19, where he says that he “was not disobedient to the heavenly vision.” The implication is that he could have been disobedient to it.
He then states, “according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus.” The words “according to” are not speaking of what has transpired in him, but in that which he is called to proclaim. In other words, it is the subject matter which he dealt with as an apostle. The NET Bible gives us the correct sense of what is being said (as underlined) –
“From Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to further the promise of life in Christ Jesus.” NET Bible
Next, there is an article connected to “life.” Thus it more accurately reads, “the life.” There is life in mortal humans; there is life in an electric wire; and etc. Paul is being specific that what his apostleship is called to is a proclamation of “the life” which is found in Christ Jesus. It isn’t the animation of a physical body which will die someday. It is the regeneration of the spirit of man, reconnecting him to God, and granting true and eternal life to those who are united to Christ Jesus. As Paul says, this life is “in Christ Jesus.” He is the Possessor of it. Those who come to Him, and who are “in” Him, are granted that same life. It is a promise which came just after the fall of man, in Genesis 3:15. And, it is the promise which is referred to throughout the entire Old Testament, anticipating the coming of Messiah. In Him is the restoration of all things, and in Him is the life of which Paul is called to be a herald to the Gentiles.
Life application: 83 verses comprise 1 Timothy. Is it too much that you would spend a few minutes each day, for less than three months, studying this precious epistle now that you have started? The reading and studying of Scripture is the most important thing that You will do during your day. In knowing God’s word, you can then apply it to your life. In this, you will be found pleasing to Him in all you do. Please make the effort, follow along in the study, and know that you will be further along in your theology when you are finished with this precious book, 2 Timothy.
Lord God, You have given us Your word for study. Grant us wisdom to pick the thing up and study it. The amount of dust which gathers on Your word, and the newness of the pages inside of it as well, stand as a testimony to how important we feel a right relationship with You is. Help us to commit to a right study of Your word. Today Charlie is beginning a line by line study of 2 Timothy. Can I spare the five minutes it takes each day to join in? Help me stand approved, by learning and applying Your word to my life. Amen.