I want to take a moment first to apologize for being gone for the last few days. We had our annual “Camp NaPa” for our grandchildren and I was enjoying their company. I have also been dealing with my husband “sundowning” a bit. His schedule is changing as his illness progresses so I’m trying to adjust to those changes. But on to our next book; 1 Timothy!
Paul begins his letter to Timothy with a heartfelt greeting of love. This is a father to son letter as well as mentor to mentee.
Luke tells us in his accounting of the early church, the book of Acts, about Paul meeting Timothy. Timothy was already a believer when they met. Timothy was of mixed bloodlines and faith lines. His “mother was Jewish and a believer but whose father was a Greek” (Acts 16:1). The believers in the area where Timothy lived and served spoke very highly of him. So highly in fact that Paul wanted him to join in on his current missionary journey.
We have read repeatedly where Paul told the Gentiles NOT to submit to circumcision but we see in Acts that Paul himself circumcised Timothy before taking him on the road. Why would he do this, you ask? It was not to have him follow the law as a Jew to complete his salvation. It wasn’t even “proof” of being a believer. It was simply to make it easier for Timothy to travel with Paul wherever he went.
Paul entered Jewish synagogues and even the Temple at times. Because Timothy was of Jewish descent he was allowed into these places, but ONLY if he was circumcised. Uncircumcised Jews were treated no better than Gentiles. They were excluded under Jewish law from many of the religious places. Paul circumcised Timothy to remove this barrier. To Paul it was no more essential to Timothy’s salvation than wearing a suit and tie is to a business man’s worth. It was outward dressing expected for participation.
We also know from Luke’s account that Paul didn’t bring Timothy his original encounter with the gospel and Jesus. So why does Paul call Timothy his “true child in the faith” (verse 2a)?
When Paul met Timothy he was a “spiritual babe.” He was a believer but he had limited knowledge. Paul essentially adopted him as his son and poured his heart into him. Paul shared the deeper things he was learning from the Spirit with Timothy. He trained him in how to minister to people. He helped him gain understanding and experience in being a leader and shepherd.
Paul’s first words to Timothy after affirming their relationship was for Timothy’s heart. “Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord” (verse 2b). Timothy was nervous about his position. He was younger than the average leader. He felt out of his element. He NEEDED this reminder of the fact that ‘God had his back.’
God would provide him the peace he needed to minister to this group of people. God would give him mercy for the times he would fall short. And God’s grace would surround him in his work. As long as he gave himself over to God, he had nothing to fear. Paul would also help Timothy by passing along warnings and instructions God had impressed upon his heart for Timothy. That alone was another gift from God.
Thank You Father for watching over each one of Your children. Thank You for providing for my growth, through mentors teachers and especially my parents. I’m grateful for having believing parents. They are a gift for me from You.
Thank You Holy Spirit for helping me understand why Paul appeared to subject Timothy to the Law. I never really considered that before. It was essential to Timothy and Paul’s travels. Sometimes we need to submit to some things to “fit in” so we can have a wider reach, while other times we need to resist so as to come apart. Help me know the time for doing each.
Father God, I “laid a fleece” today along these lines. Help me know which way to go. I’m afraid of “setting the bar too high” for this but then if You meet this condition I will KNOW Your hand is on it. Help me be able to walk away if the conditions are not met.