Absent Fathers and Abandoned Sons

Today’s selected reading continues in the first epistle of the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Corinth, and more specifically, is found in verses ten through twenty-one of the fourth chapter. “For though he have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have he not many fathers.” These words were such which were spoken by the apostle Paul in this chapter unto those saints which were members of the Corinthian congregation. While there is a tremendous amount of truth that is contained within this passage, I am captivated and gripped by these words and the apparent disparity between instructors and Father’s. There would appear to me within this passage of scripture a powerful contrast between mere instructors in Christ and fathers in the faith. The apostle Paul recognizes that the Corinthian congregation had numerous instructors who could teach them the ways of Christ and the thugs of God, yet for some reason they had very few fathers. The more I read and consider the tremendous implications of this passage the more I am gripped by the great need for fathers in the faith as opposed to just mere instructors in Christ. If I am being honest, I would dare say that while there is a tremendous responsibility that surrounds instructing others in Christ, there is very little that is present in terms of investment. I am convinced that takes and requires so much more from an individual to not merely be an instructor in Christ but also a father in God. As I pause for a moment and consider the concept of being an instructor in Christ as set against being an actual father within the life of an individual.

When I consider the reality of one standing in the place of someone’s life as a father, I can’t help but be gripped by the tremendous level of commitment that is involved with not only entering into that place, but also abiding in that place. In fact, if you proceed to read the words of the apostle Paul in this particular passage you will find him transition to a place where he speaks to them as being sons—not earthly and biological sons, but rather spiritual sons in the faith. What’s more, is that when you proceed to read this passage of scripture you will find a reference to Timothy who was one of the apostle spiritual sons in the faith. I absolutely love how the apostle sets forth the contrast of instructors versus fathers in this passage of scripture, speaks of the Corinthian saints as sons themselves, and also proceeds to inform them of sending his own spiritual son in the faith, Timothy. In all reality, I would dare say there is something completely and totally different about transitioning beyond and from the place of being a mere instructor in Christ and actually being a father. I can’t help but get the sense that at some point the countless instructors in Christ are faced with the decisions to transition from and beyond the place of being a mere instructor in the faith and moving into the place of being a father in the faith. In all reality, I would dare say there is so much more that is involved in being a father in the faith than being a mere instructor in Christ. Please note that I am in no way diminishing the need for instructors in Christ, yet mere instructors are not enough for spiritual growth and maturity.

What I love about the New Testament is that within it are two specific epistles which the apostle Paul wrote unto Timothy was indeed a spiritual son in faith. What is so intriguing about Timothy is the incredibly amount of trust and confidence the apostle Paul placed in his ability to lead within the church of God and within the body of Christ. Within this fourth chapter of this epistle we learn of Paul’s desire to send Timothy unto this congregation, and within the two letters written specifically and exclusively unto Timothy you will find the apostle Paul also sent Timothy unto Ephesus where he would lead that congregation as well. I am absolutely and utterly amazed at the overwhelming investment the apostle would have had to personally engaged in within the life of Timothy in order for him to be able to stand and serve in such capacities. I am convinced the only reason Timothy was able to stand and serve in such a capacity within the congregations of Corinth and Ephesus was because of the investment of the apostle Paul within his life as a father. In fact, one of the most alarming and intriguing truths you will learn concerning Timothy within the individual letters that were written unto him was the mention of both his mother and his grandmother, and yet absolutely no mention of his father. When I read both epistles written unto Timothy, I am struck by the apparent absence of both his physical and biological father from within his life. I am captivated by the fact that not only do we have both Timothy’s mother and grandmother mentioned within this epistle, but we also have their names as well.

WHERE ARE ALL THE FATHERS? I have to admit that I am incredibly challenged when I read the twin epistles of Paul unto Timothy within scripture, for while we find present within the life of Timothy both his mother and grandmother, we find no mention of his father. The underlying question I can’t help but ask when I read these two letters is both obvious and apparent—Where was Timothy’s father? What happened to Timothy’s father? Did he die when Timothy was young? Did he have an affair and run off with another woman? Did he abandon both Timothy and his mother in order to go after his own selfish pursuits? We must be incredibly careful not to make any assumptions concerning Timothy’s father, for when scripture is silent we too should remain silent. There is no mention of Timothy’s father, and as a result, we are therefore left to wonder and speculate concerning his absence from his life. There is an additional question I am finding myself asking when I read the epistles which Paul wrote unto Timothy, and that question is simply this—Will the real fathers please stand up? I find the absence of any mention of Timothy’s father—not necessarily an indictment of him as an indivisible, but rather as an indictment against the absence of fathers within the lives of their sons and daughters. How many sons and daughters are forced to grow up all too fast because they are growing up in a shattered and splintered home? How many sons and daughters have been forced to grow up without the love and affirmation of a physical and natural father? How many sons and daughters are being forced to search for the love and affection they should find within and from their own fathers in various places because of absence of it within their own lives?

AN INDICTMENT AGAINST ABSENT FATHERS! AN INVITATION CALLING ALL FATHERS! As I am sitting here today reading and considering the concept of the absent of Timothy’s father—not only from the epistles which Paul wrote unto this spiritual son in the faith, but perhaps most certainly within his life altogether—I can’t help but find a tragic indictment against the absence of fathers within the lives and homes of sons and daughters. I believe that while there is both a tragic indictment toward and against the absence of fathers within the lives of sons and daughters, I am also convinced there is a powerful invitation for others to stand up and stand in the gap and void left by absent fathers. I am reminded of the words which the prophet Ezekiel wrote unto the house of Israel concerning the Lord’s search for a man to stand in the gap and to make up the hedge in order that He not destroy in judgment. I can’t help but be challenged by this very verse and consider how the Lord is looking for those who are willing to stand in the gap that has been left by absent fathers. ABSENT FATHERS AND ABANDONED SONS! Please note that when I write and speak of abandoned sons, I recognize full well that this is not gender specific and that as much and as certainly as there are abandoned sons, there are also abandoned daughters. I firmly believe the Father if lights is actively seeking after and searching for those who are ready, willing and able to stand in the gap and the void that has been left by absent fathers within the lives of sons and daughters. In fact, I would dare say there are very few who are willing to talk about—much less address this Troy of issue. There are those who would assume pretend that everything is okay and not deal with or confront such an issue as absent fathers and abandoned sons.

Consider if you will how the apostle Paul began and opened up his first epistle unto his spiritual son in the faith and you will get a strong sense of the powerful relationship the apostle Paul shared with his spiritual son in the faith: “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope; unto Timothy, my own son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord. As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine, neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do. Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience and of faith unfeigned: from which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling; desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm. But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully” (1 Timothy 1:1-8). When you begin reading the second epistle which Paul wrote unto his spiritual son in the faith, you continue to be gripped by the tremendous bond that existed between these two men. Beginning with the first verse of this chapter we find the following words—“Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus, To Timothy, my dearly beloved son: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers with pure conscience that without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day; greatly desiring to see thee, being mindful of thy tears, that I may be filled with joy; when I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also. Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands. For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. Be not thou t Hereford ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God; who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, but is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immorality to light through the gospel” (2 Timothy 1:1-10).

When I read the words which were written unto Timothy—particularly those which were written in the second epistle—I am incredibly challenged by the words concerning Timothy’s grandmother and mother. Within the third verse we find the apostle Paul thanking God that without ceasing he had remembrance of Timothy in his prayers both night and day, and how he had a great desire to see him. What’s also so incredibly powerful within this particular passage of Scripture is the apostle’s acknowledgment of the tears which Timothy cried, for it speaks of the tremendous love, the tremendous concern, the tremendous affection Paul had for his spiritual son in the faith. In fact, when you come to the conclusion of this epistle you will find the following superscription concerning Timothy—“The second espitle unto Timotheus, ordained the first bishop of the church of the Ephesians, was written from Rome, when Paul was brought before Nero the second time.” Please don’t quickly dismiss these words, for these words bring us face to face with the overwhelming task Timothy had overseeing the congregation which was at Ephesus. In all reality, I am convinced that you cannot fully understand and appreciate the gravity and weight of these words until you also consider the encounter the apostle Paul had with the Ephesian elders before his departure. Consider if you will the words which the apostle Paul spoke unto the Ephesian elders which are recorded for us in the twentieth chapter of the New Testament book of the Acts of the apostles:

“And we went before to ship, and sailed unto Assos, there intending to take in Paul: for so had he appointed, minding himself to go afoot. And when he met with us at Assos, we took him in, and came to Mitylene. And we sailed thence, and came the next day over against Chios; and the next day we arrived at Samos, and tarried at Trogyllium; and the next day we came to Miletus. For Paul had determined inked to sail by Ephesus, because he would not spend the time in Asia: for he hasted, if it were possible for him, to be at Jerusalem the day of Pentecost. And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church. And when they were come to him, he said unto them, Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons, serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews: and how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publicly, and from house to house, testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christy. And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. But none of these move , , neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more. Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which He hath purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified. I have coveted no man’s silver, or gold, or apparel. Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministers unto my necessities, and to them that were with me. I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how He said it is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:13-35).

The words we find within this particular passage of Scripture bring us face to face with the apostle’s final words unto the saints which were at Ephesus, for he knew and was well aware of the fact that he would never see them again. What is actually quite remarkable concerning the words we find within this passage is the apostle’s reference to the fact that after his departure, grievous wolves would enter in among them, not sparing the flock. The apostle Paul also knew that of their own selves men would arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. What adds even more weight to the words of the apostle within this passage is what you find in the letter which Jesus had written unto the church in Ephesus by the hand of the apostle John. If you read the first seven verses of the second chapter of the book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ you will find it recorded of the church at Ephesus that not only had they left their first love, but there was also present among them the very false teachers which the apostle Paul spoke about unto the Ephesian elders. Consider if you will the following seven verses taken straight from the second chapter of the book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ and words which proceeded straight from the mouth of our Lord: “Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in His right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks; I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: and hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. But this thou hast, that thou hates the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; to Him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God” (Revelation 2:1-7).

I am convinced the words we read in the second chapter of the book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ must be carefully considered in light of the words which Jesus Himself spoke while still on the earth. From heaven as He stood in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks Jesus spoke of the Ephesian congregation as having left their first love, while in the twenty-fourth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Matthew we find additional words which further reveal how such could be made possible within this congregation. If you begin reading with and from the fourth verse of this particular chapter you will find the following words, and how the love of many can and will be affected: “Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand) then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains: let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day: for then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor shall ever be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened. Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before. Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth unto the west: so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together. Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken, and then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all tribes of the earth mount, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: so likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away” (Matthew 24:4-35).

The final words which are found in the second epistle which Paul wrote unto Timothy reveal Timothy as the first bishop of the Ephesian congregation, and I find these words to be incredibly intriguing and challenging, for Timothy was thrust into the midst of a congregation that was inundated with false teachers and false doctrine, as savage and grievous wolves entered in among them and sought to lead them captive and lead them astray. What’s more, is that Jesus’ words unto this same church reveal that they had left their first love—undoubtedly because of offenses, because of affliction, and because of false teaching. When the apostle Paul speaks of and references the tears which Timothy cried, there is not a doubt in my mind that there were times within Timothy’s assignment and appointment at the Ephesian congregation that he became completely and totally overwhelmed with the task and assignment at hand. What I absolutely love is the apostle Paul’s reminder of two distinct realities within the life of this bishop—the first was the unfeigned faith which was first found in his grandmother and mother, and was passed down unto him, and the second was the gift of God which was found within Timothy’s life by the putting on of the apostle’s hands. THE UNFEIGNED FAITH AND GIFT OF GOD MANIFESTED IN SONS! If there is one thing I have always been incredibly challenged by, it’s that in the days of the Old Covenant the Lord sent prophets, and judges, and priests, and kings, and the like to accomplish His work within the earth. When it came to the New Covenant and the Next Testament, however, the Father could not send mere prophets, or mere judges, or the like, but would send His own Son. Consider if you will the words which open the epistle which was written unto the Hebrews—“God, who at sundry times and in diverse manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son, whom He hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; whom being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they” (Hebrews 1:1-4).

There is something absolutely and incredibly powerful about being able to send—not mere servants, but actual sons in the faith. When the Father sought to accomplish His greatest work within the earth, He did not send a man, nor did He send a servant alone, but sent His only begotten Son. When the apostle Paul sought to provide leadership and oversight to the Ephesian congregation, he chose to send his own son in the faith. There is something absolutely incredible about the ability to send sons to accomplish the will and purpose of the Father in heaven. With that being said, I am convinced that what truly makes sons—whether physical and biological sons, or spiritual sons—is fathers who are willing to invest in them. You will notice the apostle Paul speaking of the gift of God that was imparted unto Timothy by the laying on of his own hands, and we must recognize and understand this as being more than mere impartation, but actual investment. In all reality, I would dare say that instructors in Christ may very well be able to engage in impartation, yet only fathers in Christ can actually invest. What’s more, is that I would dare say that we must recognize and understand that impartation without and apart from investment is not enough to accomplish that which the Father desires to do in the earth. The apostle Paul wrote unto the Corinthian congregation concerning their having many instructors in Christ, yet having very few fathers in the faith. I would dare say that this same reality is true within many of our churches in this generation, for while we have many instructors in Christ, we have very few fathers. The reason I mention and call to mind the words of the apostle concerning Timothy’s grandmother and mother, is not to diminish the influence and impact they had within his life, for it was the unfeigned faith that was first found within them that was passed on to Timothy. I call to mind these words because the apostle Paul stood in the gap within Timothy’s life—the gap and void that was left by a father who wasn’t mentioned—and was willing to invest in his life. WHEN UNFEIGNED FAITH MEETS THE GIFT OF GOD! I am convinced that there is a tremendous and powerful need within this generation—not merely and not only for instructors in Christ, but also for Fathers in the Lord who are actively willing to invest in the lives of those. Who and where are those men who are willing to stand in the gap and fill in the void that might have been left by absent fathers who should have been there within the lives of their sons and daughters. Oh that we would recognize the greater task and responsibility that is associated with serving as a father in Christ and not merely as an instructor in Christ.


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