Wednesday, 28 February 2018
To Timothy, a beloved son:
Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. 2 Timothy 1:2
After having identified himself and his commission, Paul now identifies the main recipient of the letter, Timothy. As noted, based on the apostolic identification of himself, something Timothy was perfectly aware of, the letter was certainly intended to be for more than just Timothy. He was to have it available for any and all to see and read. It is an epistle of church doctrine as much as it is a personal letter.
However, it is still a personal letter, written “To Timothy, a beloved son.” These words are similar to his opening words to Timothy in his first epistle to him. The only change is that “a beloved son” here was “a true son in the faith” there. The word translated here as “beloved” is the Greek work agapétos. It signifies “divinely loved.” Paul truly love Timothy as a “son,” and the bonds were as strong as if Timothy was Paul’s own legitimate offspring. As he personally took Timothy under his wings, and as Timothy stayed with him while so many others departed, the bond was all the stronger.
In Acts 16:3, Paul even circumcised Timothy in order to ensure that the Jews would be more responsive to the message of Christ. It was not a means of making Timothy acceptable for salvation, but a means of ensuring that Timothy would be properly accepted by those Jews who needed to hear the gospel message of Christ. In circumcising him, it would eliminate pre-judgments about Timothy’s status. In other words, it was a helpful tool for evangelism.
Next, after having identified himself and his recipient, he adds in his greeting which is a close match to 1 Timothy, “Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.” Unlike his other epistles, in his three pastoral epistles, he adds in the word “mercy.” As the letter is written to Timothy, the words apply to him, not to Paul.
Paul petitions for “mercy” in his pastorals because he knew it is a job which requires a great deal of mercy from God. It is a delicate, complicated, often frustrating, always tiring, and very sensitive job. Where those under a pastor often feel it necessary to heap trouble on him, mercy is all-the-more necessary from the other direction. Without this endowment from God, the job will quickly lay low the pastor of strongest faith and resolve. Therefore, Paul petitions for these things – grace, mercy, and peace to be bestowed upon his beloved son in the faith. And the petition is “from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Paul speaks of God as “the Father.” This then is in line with the petition for grace, mercy, and peace. As a father would grant such things to his own son, so Paul knows that God will grant such things to His sons in the faith, a faith which is grounded in Christ Jesus. And as God is the Father of Jesus, the petition for grace, mercy, and peace will naturally flow from Jesus to His other true children as well. Paul’s salutation is a full example of a complete understanding of the workings of God towards His ministers who are also His sons by adoption.
Life application: The job of a pastor is a tough one, but Paul knew Timothy could handle it. And yet, he still asked for grace, mercy, and peace to be bestowed upon him. The stress of such a job requires these things. And though he is petitioning them from God, it is certain the pastor needs these things from the congregants as well. The more difficulty they lay on the pastor, the more stress he is going to be under. Therefore, as a member of a congregation, remember that your pastor’s life is full enough. Give him a bit of grace, mercy, and peace as well.
Heavenly Father, give us wisdom in how we deal with the pastors, teachers, and deacons in our churches. They have a stressful job when dealing with people, and a limited amount of time to do so. Help each of us to make their lives easier by recognizing their limitations, especially that of time, and then help us to be willing to not take up more of it than is necessary. Help our desire to speak many words be tempered with their need to hear a few less. Amen.