Taking the Epistle

A biblical journey through the epistles

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You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus – 2nd Timothy 2:1-8

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You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus – 2nd Timothy 2:1-8 – 04/15/2016

Thank you for clicking on our page for the Pauline epistle which is called 2nd Timothy, the letter is authored by the apostle Paul to Timothy who was in the Ephesian church. This is called a Pastoral Epistle and gives many doctrines that we still use in both church structure and also for choosing leaders in the church. For other bible studies on other epistles please see our main epistle page or for others in 2nd Timothy please click on this link.

2nd Timothy 2:1 (ESV) You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, 2 and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. 3 Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. 5 An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. 6 It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. 7 Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything

When I set this blog up my intention was to explore the epistles and do the occasional bible study based on what I had studied and learned, what you are reading below is notes I have made. I have to confess that this bible study is basic in its content and is not prepared by a pastor and I have to admit I have no theological training; my hope in prayer is that someone will be blessed by the notes below.

Let’s start in verse one of the second chapter of Second Timothy.

V1 You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, 2 and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

Paul starts his exhortation by telling Timothy to “be strengthened” and as a young teacher myself I understand the premise behind what Paul is saying here and that Timothy would need to be strengthened to fulfil what God had called him to do. Paul is faithful in his work as encourager and mentor and there will be times in our lives where we are the encourager and conversely there will be times that we will be required to be encouraged.

One thing we have to realize is that we serve the God who wants to supply all that we need and should we need strength to complete a task then he is always available. I have found many times in my life that God will allow me to try things in my own strength to show me that I am not enough or that I need him and his strength. Let’s look at a passage in Isaiah…

Isaiah 40:28 (ESV) Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. 29 He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. 30 Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; 31 but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

God gives power to the faint; they will rise up with wings like eagles. As usual I do wish to look at an epistle and I know I quote this all the time but let’s also look at Ephesians 6…

Ephesians 6:10 (ESV) Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

We have to remember that although God makes his strength available to us as stated above we also have to rely on him instead of our own strength. Then Paul goes on to say that “be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus” that the strength in grace is absolute in order to fulfil the calling that God has you do. In the last year from stepping into ministry I have a new found respect for full time members of the clergy and I understand when some pastors say things like “my job as a pastor was getting in the way of the ministry” because when you are the one people are looking to for answers there carries a responsibility and it is true that “to much is given and much is required” (Luke 12:35-48) and that we have to be strengthened in Christ’s grace as it is a burden as well as a calling. Please do not think I complain as I am blessed more than I can talk about.

God will supply all that his children need, we have that love, favor and grace and despite whether we have earned or deserve anything that God benevolently gives us we understand that through the grace of God is where we can draw our strength. I am reminded of the song…

“I’m no longer a slave to fear, I am a child of God”

Paul describes his dealings with grace through problems in his second letter to the church in Corinth…

2 Corinthians 12:7 (ESV) So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

What a notion, for when I am weak, then I am strong! Real strength comes in the Lord. Paul then goes on to write “and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” And that is my heart too with any ministry that I do, that I am not simply passing knowledge or passing on decent precepts or personal opinions, in fact part of the job description of the Pastor was to train others to train others in the true faith. That is not to say a pastor of a 3000 person church should still do all the training, I am saying that would be silly, but he should be a part of the training and maybe managing the ones who are doing the training.

And he was to train “faithful men” Paul goes through what would be regarded as a faithful man in First and Second Timothy and the epistle to Titus, we are not to look at the external but the internal! What is the faithful man’s fruit? Is he doing some of the work already without being asked? HE has to be a good quality candidate because he is supposed “to teach others also”.

V3 Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.

Paul then makes a comparison between three occupations that would have been relevant both in that time and even today, he compares the Christian life to…

  • A soldier
  • An athlete
  • A farmer

The soldier is one who is used to suffering, yes in those days they did not have mortar bombs or automatic weapons or for that nature chemical or nuclear warfare but the soldier was still used to suffering, taking orders, dealing with hardships and that is sound doctrine because when I have achieved the most for Jesus has been when I have been at my lowest in other ways in my life. Even the call to ministry is fraught with potential pitfalls whether that is financial, familial or any other hardship in whatever way it comes. Examine your own heart and where you cherish the most will be the place that you will be hit the hardest. See below for what Jesus said about taking up his cross and following him…

Matthew 16:24 (ESV) Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. 28 Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

Paul goes on to say “No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him” and the one who enlisted him is obvious as Jesus is that Commander of the armies of heaven and rather ironically he was probably looking at the soldier he was chained to as he was penning this so it is no surprise that he used this occupation. He also notes that the soldier cuts himself out of civilian life, really what Paul is saying is do not do anything that will interfere with your calling.

It sounds grim but please stay with me, let’s look at the athlete…

V5 An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.

First we have “hardship” and now we have “fair play” and the idea of athletics would be well known in this Roman/Greek culture and it was known that the rules of competition would be known beforehand and the athlete would want to receive the prize for competing. The athlete also knew that he would be disqualified if he did not place by the rules and what Paul is really saying is that like the athlete we should not do anything to be disqualified in our calling, in our walk with Jesus on a daily basis. We should be the ones to set the standard and play by the rules.

V6 It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops.

And Paul is stating we should be diligent and hard working. The farmer does not get any glory but if he does not work hard then no-one eats! By the same token if he has called you into ministry it is no place to be lazy. You have to be hard working for God because God see’s you sleeping on the clock. Paul also uses the metaphor of eating in the relation to the food that he will be supplying to his congregations and I know that to be true that God will have me live through something before I was able to teach that lesson. Also often times I have found that in order to teach something with heart I have had to learn the lesson myself and sometimes there has been some repenting going on in order for me to be able to teach it clearly with experience and authority.

V7 Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.

Paul gave three quality illustrations that I know that because of time served with Paul that Timothy would have received them in a way that did not require further explanation and the overall theme is to be diligent and persevere and that is a message that is just as relevant today as it was when it was first written. Lastly Paul calls for understanding and as stated prior God will give us understanding in the same abundance that he will give us strength.

Lord willing, in our next article in Second Timothy we will look at the verses eight through thirteen of chapter two where Paul talks about holding to the truth in a steadfast manner, having read ahead I love these scriptures and I pray that you are able to join us as we go through the bible, line by line and precept by precept.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.
TTE
TGBTG
SDG

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Qualifications for Deacons

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This bible study is part of a series on the book of 1st Timothy, in order to see the full series please check out our “epistle” page or alternatively please check out our page dedicated to the book of 1st Timothy for other studies in this book. 

When I set this blog up my intention was to explore the epistles and do the occasional bible study based on what I had studied and learned, what you are reading below is notes I have made. I have to confess that this bible study is basic in its content and is not prepared by a pastor and I have to admit I have no theological training; my hope in prayer is that someone will be blessed by the notes below.

Let’s start in verse eight of the third chapter of First Timothy.

Qualifications for Deacons

8 Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain. 9 They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. 10 And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless. 11 Their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things. 12 Let deacons each be the husband of one wife, managing their children and their own households well. 13 For those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.

In our last article we looked at the qualifications for overseers (or bishops) but that is only kevel of leadership that Paul tells Timothy to look out for. He tells him to look for “Deacons” and then explains the qualities that they must have. Similar to the “overseers” article I plan to go through the qualifications one by one.

Where do we get the name deacons?

Deacons are introduced in a way in Acts 6:1-6 when they made members in charge of fulfilling the needs of others in order to allow the overseers the ability to do their job. Let’s look at Acts 6…

1 Now in these days when the disciples we increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. 2 And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. 3 Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. 4 But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” 5 And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. 6 These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them.

People throughout the ages have seen one as “more prestigious” than another, like many things in Gods church it is a calling rather than a job. Being a deacon is a tough job and it is a timely reminder that they need to be prayed for as much as your pastors are.

The qualifications for a deacon are as follows…

1) Be dignified – Like the overseers, the person has to be respectful, reverent and has an appropriate level of respect for God and be well thought of by men.

2) Not double-tongued – Not a deceiver, an honest man who can be trusted with no guile or intent to lie or mislead in any way.

3) Not addicted to much wine – Again goes hand in hand with being dignified, if he is addicted to any other spirit than the spirit of God, what use is he going to be in God’s church. The deacon should be one who is looked at as an example.

4) Not greedy for dishonest gain – Like the overseers, you have to ask what the heart is for service. Is it for profit? Likewise in their daily lives are they conducting their business affairs on the level? Are they charging a fair price for their trade? There is nothing more grievous than brothers ripping other brothers off! Also, would you want that kind of man leading in your assembly?

5) They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience – Someone who can hold on to having their doctrine straight and have convictions about the truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Someone with a firm faith.

6) And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless.  – Let them be recognized by their conduct rather than seek volunteers for a vacant post. I am always impressed when a Pastor appoints his own deacons based on prior unrecognized service. (Usually done with little recognition given or sought!)

7) Their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, sober-minded, faithful in all things – Paul goes on to say that in addition to the men being dignified and being above reproach, they also must marry well. Does she fulfil these qualities as well? Does she respect the husband as the head of the home? Is she faithful in all things?Husband of one wife, managing their children and their own households well – Like the overseers the deacon is expected to show good management in the home prior to being invited to be a head in Gods church!

It’s a service not a position

Verse 13 is the only verse that doesn’t deal with the qualities required when discussing deacons, we read in verse 13…

V13 For those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.

Which reiterates that when you come on board as a deacon it is a service and not a position, you are coming on board to be a chief of servants, an example to the lay community in how to serve. No task, regardless how small or unrewarded it is should be below the deacon to do, really they are expected to serve with little regard or gratification apart from a job well done. It is not really a job for the “look at me” brigade.

The good standing that Paul speaks of is usually not in this life, the effective deacon serves to serve, knowing that he is storing up treasures in heaven. It is a noble calling but certainly is a calling and is not for everyone. My hope is that if you sought to be a deacon that this article may help you in your choice. My hope is to help people grow in their walk with Christ and not discourage them.

Thank you again for finding this article and I pray these bible studies are a blessing. Please feel free to comment, like or share as the LORD leads you to.
TGBTG
TTE

Christ Jesus came to save sinners

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Christ Jesus Came to Save Sinners

This bible study is part of a series on the book of 1st Timothy, in order to see the full series please check out our “epistle” page or alternatively please check out our page dedicated to the book of 1st Timothy for other studies in this book. 

When I set this blog up my intention was to explore the epistles and do the occasional bible study based on what I had studied and learned, what you are reading below is notes I have made. I have to confess that this bible study is basic in its content and is not prepared by a pastor and I have to admit I have no theological training; my hope in prayer is that someone will be blessed by the notes below.

Let’s start in verse twelve of the first chapter of First Timothy.

He has judged me faithful

Paul goes on to write…

V12 I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, 13 though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, 14 and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 15 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. 16 But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. 17 To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

Paul makes it personal; he talks about his own testimony. Revelation 12 advises that the accuser will be thrown down by “The blood of the lamb and the word of their testimony” see below for full counsel of God…

Revelation 12:9 (ESV) And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. 10 And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. 11 And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death

Do not underestimate the power of your testimony! In sales people buy from people, if you can show in your life the reason for your faith, if you can show that your testimony does not end at conversion but there is a daily, life changing work being done in your life, that will cause people to question this faith and see that it is real. Paul speaks honestly who he was and what he did and where he was in that day.

Paul thanks Jesus because he has judged him faithful, he could see right into Saul’s heart that day on the road to Damascus, he knew who he was picking. Jesus hand-picked Paul for that mission, to reach the gentiles for Jesus Christ. He was counted, he was called as faithful, and he was one who was able to be used of God.

Correct attitude towards service

Paul has the right attitude towards his service; he often called himself a slave, a bondservant or Jesus Christ. One who volunteered himself into a life bound by service unto God’s will for our lives, Paul demonstrates a faithfulness that shows that he was completely compliant to his mission on earth. He was completely sold out on his main priority, furthering the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Paul shows that regardless of where God has planted us, we can be faithful where we are at. We have to be faithful in the small things first and then as we grow God will test us and stretch us into further works for him. This is why it is vital we don’t beg for deliverance every time we are tested or tried, how are we meant to learn and grow in God if we never learn or grow in God?

Paul was in ministry (or service) he made tents during the working hours and spread the Gospel at every opportunity, he was not only in ministry when he spoke in the Synagogues. He was in ministry when he was sewing a tent, when he was chained to a Roman, wherever God had him.

This is a phenomenal lesson to us all as some of us will not serve unless we are a position to be noticed. Jesus spoke about those types of servants and advised the ones who sought the praises of man “had their reward already” and that is a real danger to us all as many good ministries have been damaged or torched by individual pride.

Useable > talented

We have to be useable, not necessarily talented but most certainly useable. I am no great theologian, but God has put a desire in my heart to research and write about his holy word. I am no great teacher, but God has given me people willing to come with a thirst to hear the word of God (not me) I am not really talented in many areas but I want to be used for his glory as opposed to mine.

I am not at all good with public kudos I am sure I have shared that before; when a pastor or leader shouts my name from the front of the church I do get a wee bit embarrassed and tend not to enjoy it. I am a behind the scenes guy who is just as happy stacking chairs as I am teaching a bible study. I am not saying this because it is one of the few things that I have right however we should try to bloom in God where we are planted for his glory first.

God’s choice = Glory to God

God knows how to pick them doesn’t he? Paul describes himself as a “former blasphemer and persecutor” but this is what I love about the bible, God picks the unlikely candidate to show that it was him that did it. He picked the leading thorn in the side to people of “the Way” the one that if there had been a Billboard Chart of top 100 feared Pharisees Paul would have been “Top of the Pops” every time.

He took this man and gave him a place in the front line, he knew Paul’s heart, knew how faithful he was and how faithful he would be and rather than let his past be a hindrance, he put him to work as a front line missionary in one of the most dangerous territories in the world. His conversion was not the end, but merely the first step in a new life as Paul the apostle rather than Saul the persecutor.

He was given an audience with the LORD and he states that he was “formerly” Paul shows that the grace of God was enough not just to get him into heaven but to wipe away the wrongs of the past and qualified him for service in Christian service. Paul shows Timothy that his past didn’t disqualify him; he states that he did it in “ignorance” God used Paul in spite of Paul, his greeting here to Timothy was that he should remain despite how inadequate he felt.

Who is worthy of service?

This is a common occurrence in Christian ministry, that people will try to disqualify themselves because they deem themselves unworthy. Truth is, none of us are actually worthy however in spite of us, and God will still find a way to use us. As imperfect as we are, as incapable as we may think we are God knows who we really are and that is why he has called us. We are called not because of who we are, but by God’s grace. We should take heart from Paul’s experience that he received mercy as opposed to judgment.

Thank you again for finding this article and I pray these bible studies are a blessing. Please feel free to comment, like or share as the LORD leads you to.
TGBTG
TTE