Today’s selected reading continues in the second epistle of the apostle Paul in the New t Stanton which wa written unto the saints which were at Corinth. More specifically, today’s passage is found in verses twelve through twenty-four of the first chapter. With the words that are found in this particular portion of Scripture we find the first chapter of the apostle’s second letter to the Corinthian congregation drowning to a close. If we are to truly understand what is stated and written in this set of verses it is first necessary to turn and direct our attention to what comes before it, for when studying Scripture context is key in properly understanding that which has been written. In the first two verses of this chapter we find the apostle Paul beginning this letter with his signature greeting as he did with all his previous epistles—“Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, unto the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints which are in all Achaia: Grace be to you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:1-2). What is unique about the opening of this second letter is the presence of Timothy when Paul wrote this letter unto the Corinthian congregation. If you read the previous epistle which Paul wrote unto the Corinthian congregation—specifically, within the sixteenth chapter—you will find the apostle Paul mentioning Timothy, and his coming unto this particular congregation. In verses ten and eleven of this first chapter we find the following words written at the conclusion of Paul’s letter to the Corinthian congregation concerning Timothy—“Now if Timotheus come, see that he may be with you without fear: for he worketh the work of the Lord, as I also do. Let no man therefore despise him: but conduct him forth in peace, that he may come unto me: for I look for him with the brethren” (1 Corinthians 16:10-11). I am absolutely and completely convinced that Timothy did in fact make it to Corinth and engaged himself in the ministry and work which the Lord Himself commissioned and called him to. There is not a doubt in my mind that Timothy came unto this particular congregation at the behest of the apostle Paul’s encouragement and instruction in order that Timothy might set in order those things which had previously been written in the apostle’s first letter.
If we are to understand Timothy’s place among the saints of God which were called and chosen to be holy in Corinth, it is absolutely necessary that we not only understand what we find in the sixteenth chapter of the apostle’s first epistle to the Corinthian congregation, but also what is recorded concerning Timothy in various other epistles of the apostle Paul. In the sixteenth chapter of the apostle’s first epistle unto the Corinthian congregation we find the apostle Paul instructing the Corinthian congregation to welcome Timothy with open arms, and to see that he be permitted to be with them without fear? Why? Why did the apostle Paul write this particular instruction unto this congregation concerning the presence of Timothy among them? The answer is actually found in the very same verse, for the apostle Paul wrote how Timothy “worketh the work of the Lord” as even the apostle did. At the time of the writing of this particular epistle Timothy had been completely and totally been taken under the wing of the apostle Paul, as the apostle Paul had in all reality adopted him as a spiritual son in the faith. We first hear of Timothy in the sixteenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts when the apostle Paul came to Derbe and Lystra upon his missionary journey. Consider if you will what is recorded concerning Timothy—also known as Timotheus in Scripture—in the sixteenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts:
“Then came he to Derbe and Lystra: and, behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timotheus, the son of a certain woman, which was a Jewess, and believed; but his father was a Greek: which was well reported of by the brethren that were at Lystra and Iconium. Him would Paul have to go forth with him; and took and circumcised him because of the Jews which were in those quarters: for they knew all that his father was a Greek. And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem. And so were the churche established in the faith, and increased in number daily. Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia, after they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not. And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; there stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us. And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavored to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them. Therefore loosing from Troas, we came with straight course to Samothracia, and the next day to Napoli’s; and from thence to Philippi, which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony: and we were in that city abiding certain days” (Acts 16:1-12).
There are specific other references to Timothy, also known as Timotheus in the New Testament book of Acts beyond and after the sixteenth chapter. If you journey to the seventeenth chapter of the same New Testament book you will find the following words written concerning Timothy: “And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who Colin thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few. But when the Jews of Thessalonica had knowledge that the word of God was preached of Paul at Berea, they came thither also, and stirred up the people. And then immediately the brethren sent away Paul to go as it were to the sea: but Silas and Timotheus abode there still. And they that conducted Paul brought him unto Athens: and receiving a commandment unto Silas and Timotheus for to come to him with all speed, they departed” (Acts 17:10-15). In the sixteenth verse of this same chapter you will find the apostle Paul waiting for Silas and TImotheus in Athens, yet while he waited for them, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry. The rest of the seventeenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts centers upon the apostle Paul not only waiting for Timotheus and Silas in Athens, but also disputing within the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him. When you come to the eighteenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts you will find additional commentary concerning the apostle Paul, as well as Timotheus and Silas. Beginning with the first verse of this chapter we find the following words—“After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth; and found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome) and came unto them. And because we was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrough: for by their occupation they were tentmakers. And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks. And when Silas and TImotheus were come from Macedonia, Paul was pressed in the spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ. And when they opposed themselves, and blasphemed, he shook his raiment, and said unto them, Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean: from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles. And he departed thence, and entered into a certain man’s house, named Justus, one that worshipped God, whose house joined hard to the synagogue. And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized. Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: for I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city. And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them” (Acts 18:1-11).
What we find and what we read in the eighteenth chapter of the New Testament book of the Acts of the epistle is quite interesting and necessary, for it what we find the origin of the church of God which was at Corinth. As the eighteenth chapter begins it does so with Paul departing from Athens and coming unto Corinth while still waiting for Silas and Timothy. Upon arriving at Corinth the apostle Paul found a certain Jew named Aquila, who was born of Pontus, which together with his wife Priscilla had come from Italy, for Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome. There within Corinth the apostle Paul reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded both Jews and Greeks. In the fifth verse of this chapter we find Silas and Timothy coming unto Paul while in Corinth, and it was shortly after their arrival that he was pressed in the spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ. It was upon the apostle’s declaration that Jesus was the Christ that the Jews opposed themselves and blasphemed, thus causing the apostle Paul to shake his raiment, declared unto them that their blood be upon their own heads, and purpose that from that moment forward he would go solely unto the Gentiles. How absolutely incredible and interesting it is that it was while in Corinth the apostle Paul reached the point within his apostolic ministry that he would from then on go solely unto the Gentiles and would no longer go unto the Jews. Immediately after declaring that he would go solely unto the Gentiles the apostle Paul departed—undoubtedly with Silas and Timothy—and entered into a certain man’s house named Justus, who was one that worshipped God, and whose house joined hard to the synagogue. It was there in Corinth that Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue believed on the Lord with all his house—and not only did Crispus and all his house believe on the Lord, but many of the Corinthians which heard believed, and were baptized. It was by night while in the city of Corinth that the Lord spoke unto the apostle Paul by a vision and not only instructed him to be not afraid, to speak, and to not hold his peace, but also declared unto him that He was with him, that no man should set on him to hurt him, and “I have much people in this city.”
Pause for a moment and consider those eight words which the Lord spoke unto the apostle Paul that night by vision—“For I have much people in this city.” These words come directly on the heel of the Lord declaring unto the apostle Paul that He was with him there in the midst of the city of Corinth. FOR I AM WITH THEE! FOR I HAVE MUCH PEOPLE IN THIS CITY! Despite the fact that the Jews opposed themselves, and blasphemed in the presence of Paul, Silas, Timothy, Aquila and Priscilla, the Lord still declared unto the apostle Paul that He was with him there in the midst of the city. What’s more, is that in addition to the Lord’s declaration and promise of presence there in Corinth, the Lord also declared that He had much people in that city. MUCH PRESENCE! MUCH PEOPLE! Oh that we would recognize and understand that which the Lord declared unto the apostle Paul by vision on this particular night, for not only did the Lord promise that His presence would be with the apostle and his companions there in Corinth, but the Lord also declared that He had much people in that city. When you come to the eleventh verse of the eighteenth chapter of this New Testament book you will discover that the apostle Paul continued there in the city of Corinth for a period of one year and six months, teaching the word of God among them. This is actually quite remarkable when reading the opening of the second epistle which the apostle Paul wrote unto Timothy, for not only was Timothy reunited with the apostle in Corinth, but Timothy also witnessed the Jews opposing themselves and blaspheming. There in Corinth Timothy witnessed the apostle’s fiery response unto the Jews, and his firm and adamant resolve to go unto the Gentiles only. It was there in Corinth that Timothy witnessed the house of Crispus believing on the Lord, as well as many of the Corinthians believing on the Lord and being baptized. In fact, I would even dare say that the apostle Paul relayed the vision he received from the Lord that night unto Timothy, unto Silas, and even unto Aquila and Priscilla, and together they ministered unto those who believed at Corinth, and thus established a church within the city. It’s actually quite astounding to consider the fact that Timothy appeared to have been present in Corinth when many of the Corinthians believed, and a church was established there in the midst of that city. There is not a doubt in my mind that Timothy himself was instrumental in assisting the apostle Paul—not only in the establishing of the church of God in Corinth, but also in ministering unto the saints and working the work of the Lord.
I so love the fact that the apostle opens his second epistle unto the Corinthian congregation with the inclusion of Timothy, for Timothy was present with him when it all began in Corinth. When we read in the sixteenth chapter of the apostle’s first epistle unto the Corinthian congregation of Timothy’s visit unto the church of God which was in Corinth, it wouldn’t have been Timothy’s first visit unto this church and its members. Timothy was there in Corinth with the apostle Paul, with Silas, as well as with Aquila and Priscilla when Crispus and his entire house believed on the Lord, and when many within that city believed and were baptized. Timothy was present in the city when the Lord appeared to the apostle Paul by vision during the night and not only promised that His presence would be there with him, but also that He had much people within that city. Oh, I can’t help but wonder how many members the church of God in Corinth actually had, for not only do we find the Lord promising unto Paul that He had much people within the city, but we also find that the apostle abode within the city for a span of one year and six months. Imagine the apostle Paul—together with Silas, Timothy, Aquila and Priscilla—in the city and town in which you reside for a span of eighteenth months. Consider the powerful reality that a lot can happen within and over the span of eighteen months—especially when the Lord has promised His presence to be with you. Oh, I wonder what it was like for Timothy to work the work of the Lord side by side with the apostle Paul in the city of Corinth, as he watched as many believed and were baptized. I can’t help but wonder how many men and women, how many families, how many husbands and wives Timothy might have baptized there in the city of Corinth over the span of eighteen months. It’s interesting to read the first epistle which the apostle wrote unto the Corinthian congregation considering in the early stages of the church that was formed there, the Lord declared and promised unto Paul that He had much people there within that city. Over the period of one year and six months the apostle Paul—together with His companions, which included Timothy—ministered among the saints and believers which were present there in the city of Corinth. It was there in Corinth where I believe Timothy gained a tremendous amount of experience ministering among the saints of God, for there were many which believed, and there were many which were baptized.
Considering everything that was just recorded from the New Testament book of Acts, it’s worth directing your attention to the second chapter of the apostle Paul’s epistle unto the Philippian congregation, for within the second chapter of that epistle we find the apostle Paul speaking of Timothy unto this particular congregation. Beginning with the nineteenth verse—after just instructing this congregation to be likeminded, to have the same love, to be of one accord, and to be of one mind—the apostle Paul goes on to speak of his desire to send Timothy unto them. After instructing them to let nothing be done through strife or vainglory, after instructing the Philippian congregation to esteem other better than themselves in lowliness of mind, and to look not every man on his own things, the apostle Paul speaks of the nature and character of Timothy, as well as His work ethic when it comes to the work of the Lord and the ministry of Christ. Consider if you will the words which the apostle Paul writes in this particular epistle concerning Timothy who had been with him at various points during his apostolic ministry, and who was present with him in Corinth for eighteen months establishing the church of God within that city. “But I trust in the Lord to send TImotheus shortly unto you, that I also may be of good co fort, when I know your state. For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state. For all seek there own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s. But ye know the proof of him, that, as a son with the father, he hath serve with me in the gospel. Him therefore I hope to send presently, so soon as I shall see how it will go with me. But I trust in the Lord that I also myself shall come shortly” (Philippians 2:19-24). Please don’t quickly glance over the words we find within this portion of Scripture, for it is within this passage of Scripture we find high praise concerning Timothy from the pen of the apostle Paul. When writing unto the Philippian congregation the apostle Paul declared of Timothy that he had no man likeminded who would naturally care for their state, for all seek their own, and not the things which are Jesus Christ’s. Furthermore, the apostle Paul wrote unto the Philippian congregation that they knew the proof of Timothy, that, as a son with the father, he served with the apostle in the gospel. Concerning Timothy the apostle Paul declared that he was likeminded—thus being of the same state of mind as Paul himself—and that he would naturally care for their state before the Lord. Concerning Timothy the apostle Paul declared that although all seek their own, and not the things which be of Christ’s, Timothy was not such a man. As if this weren’t enough, the apostle Paul declared of Timothy that as a son with the father, he served with him in the gospel unto the Gentiles.
When you read the two epistles which Paul wrote unto his spiritual son in the faith, Timothy, you will find tremendous commentary concerning the apostle’s life, as well as specific instruction unto Timothy. The apostle Paul begins the first epistle by referencing his beseeching Timothy to remain in Ephesus when he went into Macedonia, in order “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” (1 Timothy 1:3-4). When you come to the eighteenth verse of the first chapter of this epistle you will find the following words concerning Timothy who we already know served with the apostle Paul as a son would with the father—“This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare; holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck: of whom is Hhymenaus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme” (1 Timothy 1:18-20). In the third chapter of this same epistle we find further words directed unto Timothy himself, as the apostle Paul sought to continue to encourage his son in the faith in the ministry among and unto the saints: “These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly: but if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believe on in the world, received up into glory” (1 Timothy 3:14-16). Beginning with the twelfth verse of the same epistle we find further instruction given unto Timothy specifically, for the apostle Paul not only sought to encourage him in his faith, but also in working the work of the Lord: “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee” (1 Timothy 4:12-16).
If you continue reading these two epistles which were written unto Timothy you will find additional instruction given specifically unto him as he engaged in the ministry of the saints and working the work of Christ. “I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality. Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men’s sins: keep thyself pure. Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities. Some men’s sins are open before hand, going before to judgment; and some men they follow after. Likewise also the good works of some are manifest beforehand; and they that are otherwise cannot be hid” (1 Timothy 5:21-25). Beginning with the eleventh verse of the sixth chapter we find the following words which were written unto Timothy specifically: “But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay ho.d on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession fore many witnesses. I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession; that thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ: which in His times He shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; who only hath immortality, dwelling in that elight which no man approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen” (1 Timothy 6:11-16). When concluding this first epistle the apostle Paul writes the following words unto Timothy—“O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babbling, and oppositions of science falsely so called: which some professing have erred concerning the faith” (1 Timothy 6:20-21).
When you come to the second epistle which the apostle Paul wrote unto Timothy you will almost immediately find words directed unto him specifically—words which we must recognize and understand: “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 therefore 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 1:3-10). A little further in the very same chapter we find the apostle going on to further encourage and instruct Timothy—not only in the faith, but also in the work and ministry of the Lord: “Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us. This thou. Newest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes. The Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus; for he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain: but, when he was in Rome, he sought me out very diligently, and found me” (2 Timothy 1:14-17).
“Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. NO man that Warren entangleth himself with the arraise of this life; that he may please Him who hath chosen him to be a soldier” (2 Timothy 2:1-4). “Of these things put them into remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearest. Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and vain babbling: for they will increase unto more ungodlness” (2 Timothy 14-16). “Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart. But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strife’s. And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; and that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will” (2 Timothy 2:22-26). “But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; and that from a child thou hast known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:14-17). “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom; preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” ( 2 Timothy 4:1-2). “But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry” (2 Timothy 4:5). As if all of this weren’t enough, the apostle Paul concludes his second epistle unto Timothy by not once, but twice appealing to him to do his due diligence to come unto him.
Now, you might wonder what all this concerning Timothy has to do with the text that is found in the first chapter of this second epistle, but I am convinced that it has absolutely everything to do with what was written. The first epistle of the apostle Paul concludes with his desire for Timothy to come unto the church of God which was at Corinth, and for them to ensure that he comes unto them without fear of any kind—perhaps because he knew and understood that Timothy was given unto fear within his heart. It would make sense that Timothy might have been given unto fear, for in his second epistle unto Timothy, the apostle Paul mentions his many tears, and then declares unto him that God has not given us a spirit of fear; but of power, of love, and of a sound mind. At the end of a very weighty letter of correction and rebuke, the apostle mentions that it was his desire to send Timothy back to Corinth—back to where it all began. Imagine what it must have been like for Timothy to return to Corinth—not only after having been away for a certain period of time, but also on the heels of the first letter which Paul wrote unto the congregation. I can imagine Timothy’s initial fear and trepidation in going unto Corinth on the heels of the apostle’s first letter, for the apostle Paul issued much rebuke and much correction within the letter. Timothy’s presence in Corinth would not only seek to reaffirm and confirm that which the apostle had written, but to also help set in motion everything the apostle Paul wrote about. Imagine young Timothy going unto Corinth in order that he might reaffirm the words of the apostle Paul, and to provide instruction and example concerning spiritual gifts, the ministry of the body, and the unity of the faith. Imagine Timothy being sent by the apostle Paul unto a church that was not only divided over personalities and at the Lord’s table, but also a church which entertained sexual immorality, and took each other to court because its members refused to be defrauded. It as unto such a congregation that Timothy would be sent unto—a congregation and perhaps even certain members whom he knew and remembered from the eighteen months he spent with the apostle Paul, together with Silas, Aquila and Priscilla.