Prepared to be a Minister Through Affliction & Suffering

Today’s selected reading is found in the first New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul unto his spiritual son in the faith—Timothy. More specifically today’s passage is found in the first chapter of this New Testament epistle. “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” (1 Timothy 1:1-2).

 

            “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; knowing this that the law is not made for a righteous mean, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine; according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust” (1 Timothy 1:3-11).

 

            “And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief: howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting. Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen” (1 Timothy 1:12-17).

 

            “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 Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme” (1 Timothy 1:18020).

 

            When you come to the first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto his spiritual son in the faith—Timothy—you will find a personal epistle that was written to provide instruction to someone who was very near and dear to the heart of the apostle. As you come to this first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto Timothy you will find the apostle seeking to provide instruction unto this spiritual son in the faith who was not only a son in the faith but also someone who was a faithful minister and co-laborer in the work of the ministry and of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is absolutely necessary and important for us to recognize and understand this particular truth for it helps us to truly understand the nature and significance of the epistle and its relevance—not only for the life of Timothy but also for we who profess to be disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ and faithful ministers of the living God. In the opening verses of this epistle we find the apostle Paul beginning in his customary way by referring to himself as an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour and the Lord Jesus Christ who and which is our hope. It is absolutely remarkable and astounding when you read the epistles and writings of the apostle Paul and how the words and language contained therein provide us with a powerful declaration concerning his apostleship based on the commandment of God and the Lord Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul began this epistle by referring to himself as an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Savior as well as the Lord Jesus who is our hope. Moreover the apostle Paul would speak of the Lord Jesus Christ as being our hope and the author and provider of grace, mercy and peace.

 

            If you begin reading the words which are found in this epistle it is absolutely necessary to consider how the relationship between the apostle Paul and Timothy began. I am absolutely convinced the way to truly understand the significance of this epistle you must needs turn and direct your attention to the sixteenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts. It is in the sixteenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts we find the narrative of the apostle Paul coming unto Lystra and Derbe where he would encounter a young Timothy for the very first time. I firmly believe if we want to understand the words which are found in this epistle you must first turn and direct your attention to the sixteenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts and discover the first encounter the apostle Paul would have with Timothy. With this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the sixteenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts beginning to read with and from the first verse:

 

            “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 churches 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 endeavoured 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 a straight course to Samothracia, and the next day to Neapolis; 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).

 

            If you consider the relationship Timothy had with the apostle Paul you will discover that he was a man whom the apostle Paul brought alongside him on his apostolic and missionary journeys, however, that did not and would not mean his time or relationship with the apostle Paul would be easy. While we first encounter Timothy as “a certain disciple” whom the apostle Paul encountered in Lystra and Derbe who was the son of a certain woman who was a Jewess and believed we will ultimately find him experiencing a version of Christianity which he had perhaps not experienced before. In the sixteenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts we find it written concerning Timothy that he was a disciple who was well reported of by the brethren which were at Lystra and Iconium, however, I would dare say that once he began walking with the apostle Paul and Silas he would be introduced to an entirely new and different version of Christianity than what he was perhaps used to. Scripture is entirely and altogether unclear what Timothy’s relationship to and with the Lord Jesus Christ was while he was at Derbe and Lystra, however, we can be absolutely certain that what he would experience something entirely different once joining himself to the apostle Paul. In fact if you read the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth chapters of the book of Acts you will find Timothy accompanying the apostle Paul and Silas and yet experiencing affliction, suffering, trials, tribulation, suffering and opposition. In all reality it is truly astonishing to consider Timothy aligning himself with the apostle Paul and Silas and how almost immediately after doing so he would find himself experiencing something he had perhaps never experienced before.

 

            If you consider the words which the apostle Paul wrote in his epistles you will find him speaking of those who followed him as he followed the Lord. With this being said, however, it is truly interesting to think about and consider the fact that following the apostle Paul as he followed the Lord would indeed and would in fact mean walking through tribulation, troubles, suffering, affliction and opposition. Not only this but what we find even when considering the narrative of the Lord Jesus Christ you will find that even walking with and following Him would also mean suffering, trials, trouble and affliction. What’s more is the Lord Jesus Christ would Himself declare that in this world we will face many trials, troubles and tribulations but to not fear because He overcame the world. I am absolutely convinced that we must needs consider the suffering, affliction, opposition, trials and troubles Timothy was exposed to through the lens of the words which the Lord Jesus spoke—not only in His Sermon on the Mount but also in the words which He spoke exclusively to His disciples concerning the suffering, persecution and affliction they experienced. With this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the four New Testament gospel narratives written by the gospel authors:

 

            “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (Matthew 5:10-12).

 

            “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; and ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you. And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come. The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household? Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known. What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops. And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a farting? And one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows. Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 10:16-33).

 

            “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it” (Matthew 10:34-39).

 

            “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and w hosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom” (Matthew 16:24-28).

 

            “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 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” (Matthew 24:9-14).

 

            “These things I command you, that ye love one another. If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were not of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I sad unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me. If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloke for their sin. He that hateth me hateth my Father also. If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father. But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a case. But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: and ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning” (John 15:17-27).

 

            “These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended. They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me. But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them. And these things I said not unto you at the beginning, because I was with you. But now I go my way to him that sent me; and none of you asketh me, Whither goest thou? But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart. Neverhtless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: Of sin, because they believe not on me; Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged” (John 16:1-11).

 

            If you read the words which our Lord spoke you will discover Him as preparing and making His disciples ready for persecution, for suffering, for affliction, for troubles, and for trials in the world. What’s more is when you read the words which our Lord spoke you will find that He never prepared His disciples and followers to be loved, welcomed and received. Instead what our Lord prepared His disciples and followers for was to be hated—not only by men but also nations. It is truly astonishing to read the words which are found in the four gospel narratives and consider the fact that our Lord prepared his disciples for a world which they would be in although never be of. The Lord Jesus Christ prepared and made ready His disciples for the need to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves knowing they would be persecuted, scourged, ridiculed, mocked, put out of synagogues and the like. You cannot read the four gospel narratives without hearing and coming in contact with the Lord Jesus Christ preparing His disciples to be vilified, ostracized and marginalized. There is something truly astonishing about the words which are found within the four gospels for they bring us face to face with the what walking with and following the Lord Jesus truly means for those who make the decision this. The more I read the four gospel narratives the more I am brought face to face with the tremendous truth surrounding the disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus being those who walk in the midst of suffering, affliction, persecution, trials, troubles and tribulations.

 

            In light of the words which the Lord Jesus spoke during the three and a half years it is absolutely necessary and imperative that we view the suffering, the affliction and opposition Paul and Silas experienced from the time they arrived in Philippi until the time they departed from Ephesus through the lens of the words of Jesus. Perhaps one of the greatest truths surrounding Timothy making the decision to join himself together with the apostle Paul is that while he was indeed a disciple whom the brethren spoke well of everything would be entirely and altogether different when he began walking with the apostle Paul. We dare not and must not miss and lose of the words which are found in chapters sixteen through twenty of the New Testament book of Acts without recognizing that almost from the time Timothy began walking with the apostle Paul he would experience discipleship in direct relationship to suffering, affliction and opposition. Scripture is entirely and altogether unclear whether or not Timothy’s walk and relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ prior to meeting the apostle Paul knew any type of suffering, affliction and opposition. Scripture does not provide us with any type of information or details regarding Timothy’s relationship together with the Lord Jesus Christ prior to meeting the apostle Paul, however, Scripture is very clear from the time Paul, Silas and Timothy came to Philippi he would experience a form of Christianity that was perhaps altogether and entirely different  from what he had known and experienced. Almost immediately after making the decision to walk with the apostle Paul he would immediately be introduced to a form of Christianity that would almost seem to have at the very heart of it persecution, affliction, suffering, and opposition.

 

            I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which are found in the New Testament book of Acts and I am brought face to face with Timothy joining himself unto the apostle Paul in Lystra and Derbe and as early as Philippi he would witness affliction and opposition as a disciple and follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. There is a great need for us to recognize that which Timothy would experience as a disciple and follower of the Lord Jesus Christ would perhaps completely and entirely alter his persepective about what it meant to be a disciple of the Lord. It is very possible that what Timothy thought and understood to be Christianity and walking with the Lord Jesus Christ prior to walking with the apostle Paul was such that perhaps had no framework for any suffering, any affliction and/or even trials and troubles. Once he began walking with the apostle Paul and accompanying him he would witness chains, bonds, prison, fetters, persecution, opposition, affliction and the like. In fact once they came unto Philippi Timothy would witness and behold a Christianity that seemed to have as a part of its core makeup suffering, affliction and opposition. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for when we read the first New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul unto Timothy we find him written unto one who not only witnessed and experience the suffering, affliction and opposition experienced by the apostle Paul but one who would also experience suffering, persecution and affliction within his own life. In fact when you come to the final chapters of the epistle written unto the Hebrews you will find the author writing of Timothy how he had not only been placed in bonds and prison but also being released from prison. It is with this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the New Testament book of Acts beginning with the sixteenth chapter:

 

            “And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither. And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purpose, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul. And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she contrained us. And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying: the same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation. And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour. And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the marketplace unto the rulers, and brought them to the magistrates, saying, These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city, and teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans. And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them. And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely: who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks” (Acts 16:13-24).

 

            In the city of Philippi we witness and experience the apostle Paul and Silas—not only being whipped and beaten but also cast into prison, thrust into the inner prison and their feet made fast in the stocks. We must needs recognize and understand this for this would be one of the first encounters Timothy would have while traveling and journeying with the apostle Paul into Macedonia. The apostle Paul would receive a vision of the Lord calling him to come unto Macedonia and help those who were there and while there would indeed be men and women who would hear the gospel preached by the apostle Paul and those with him there would be affliction, opposition, trials and troubles which faced them. It would be in the city of Philippi the apostle Paul together with Silas would not only be beaten with stripes but would also be imprisoned and their feet placed in stocks. What adds even more weight and significance to this is when you think about and consider the fact that while the Lord supernaturally and miraculously delivered Paul and Silas in the midnight hour from the prison they would journey unto Thessalonica and would experience suffering, affliction and opposition there as well. How absolutely and incredibly interesting it is to think about and consider the fact that the apostle Paul and Silas would experience suffering, affliction and trouble in Philippi, would be delivered from that trouble and would experience trouble and trials in both Thessalonica and Berea. With this being said I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the seventeenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts beginning to read with and from the first verse:

 

            “Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica , where was a synagogue of the Jews: And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preached unto you, is Christ. And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few. But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people. And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also; whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus. And they troubled the people and the rulers of the city, when they heard these things. And when they had taken security of Jason, and of the other, they let them go” (Acts 17:1-9).

 

            “And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming 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).

 

            That which we find within these two passages of Scripture are entirely and altogether unique for what we find here is an incredibly powerful picture of the apostle Paul and Silas being delivered by the Lord from the prison cell they were secured in within Philippi and yet coming unto a new city and finding themselves experiencing trials, troubles and tribulations. It would be there in the city of Thessalonica where unbelieving and envious Jews would raise themselves up against the apostle Paul and Silas and would even raise up those who would falsely and wrongly accuse them. Not only this but these unbelieving Jews would raise up those who would set the city on an uproar in chaos, strife and confusion in an attempt to silence the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Scripture makes it perfectly clear that the disciples and brethren which were present in Thessalonica would send Paul and Silas away by night unto Berea where they would once more begin to preach the gospel in the synagogues. That which adds even more weight and significance to this is when you consider the fact that when the same unbelieving Jews which were present in Thessalonica heard that Paul and Silas preached the gospel in Berea and that the Bereans were receiving the gospel with joy and gladness and believed they came unto that place and stirred up the people. As a direct of this the apostle Paul would be sent as it were toward the sea despite the fact that he would wind up in Athens. The apostle Paul would preach the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ to the Athenians before ultimately departing from the city of Athens and coming unto the city of Corinth. It would be there in the city where the apostle Paul would once more experience trials, troubles and tribulation.

 

With all of this being said I am convinced that before we can get into the first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto Timothy we must also consider the opening verses found in the eighteenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts. Having said this I invite you to consider the following words which are found in this particular chapter beginning with the first verse:

 

            “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 he was of the same craft he abode with them, and wrought: 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 sthook 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).

 

            There is something truly astonishing about the words which are found in chapters sixteen through eighteen of the New Testament book of Acts for they help us to not only understand Timothy’s first encounter with the apostle Paul in Lystra and Derbe but also the tremendous experience he would have with affliction, suffering and opposition. What’s more is that Timothy would begin walking with the apostle Paul and almost immediately would witness something he had perhaps not experienced before—namely, suffering for the sake of the gospel. In Philippi Timothy would witness and experience Paul and Silas being beaten, imprisoned, and then their being made secure in the inner prison with their feet in stocks. In the city of Thessalonica Timothy would witness the unbelieving Jews blaspheme and oppose themselves in response to the preaching of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. In the city of Thessalonica Timothy would witness and behold the apostle Paul and Silas being sent forth from the midst of it because of the tremendous persecution and opposition that would be raised against the apostle Paul and Silas. What’s more is that even in the city of Corinth Timothy would witness continued opposition and persecution against the apostle Paul—and not only the apostle Paul but also the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it calls and draws our attention to the incredible reality of Timothy witnessing and beholding an unbelievable measure of suffering and affliction for the sake of the gospel.

 

            The more I think about and consider the words which are found in the New Testament book of Acts the more I am brought face to face with the awesome truth of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and how walking with and following Him more often than not means suffering, persecution and affliction. It was the Lord Jesus Himself who emphatically declared that we would have trials and troubles in this world but not to fear because He had overcome the world. It was the Lord Jesus Christ who instructed his disciples to deny themselves, to take up their cross and to follow Him. Not only this but the Lord Jesus Christ—when delivering His Sermon on the Mount—spoke of those who were persecuted for righteousness’ sake and how theirs was the kingdom of heaven. Not only this but the Lord Jesus also prepared and made ready His disciples to be hated of all nations for His name’s sake. The Lord Jesus Christ prepared and made ready His disciples for an incredible amount of suffering, persecution, affliction, trials and troubles. What we must needs realize and understand when reading the words the apostle Paul wrote unto Timothy was that this was a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ and a minister of the gospel of the Lord Jesus who would walk through and experience affliction, suffering, persecution, trials and troubles within his own life. Eventually Timothy would find himself in a place where he too would experience a degree and measure of the suffering which the apostle Paul would experience.

 

            If you begin reading with and from the third verse of the first chapter of this first epistle written by the apostle Paul you find the apostle writing of his beseeching him to abide at Ephesus while he went to Macedonia that he might charge some that they teach no other doctrine. IN order to truly understand the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto Timothy you must needs recognize that Timothy would abide and remain in Ephesus with a specific purpose and function. Timothy would remain and abide in Ephesus that he might charge those within the church to teach no other doctrine, nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies which ministered questions rather than godly edification which is in faith. In essence that which the apostle Paul charged Timothy with was to be a soldier and warrior for the truth of the gospel. The apostle Paul charged Timothy that he bring correction, rebuke and instruction to those who were present in the midst of the church in Ephesus. What makes this all the more intriguing when you think about it is when you consider the apostle Paul speaking unto the elders of the Ephesian church and declaring unto them how after his departure savage wolves would enter in among them who would not spare the flock. The apostle Paul knew that after his departure there would be those who would rise up among them in their midst who would teach seducing doctrines and false teachings in the mist of the church and body of Christ. Almost immediately at the beginning of this epistle we find the apostle Paul instructing Timothy concerning the charge given unto him to be a vessel and guardian of truth—and not only truth but the truth of the gospel.

 

            Upon beginning to read with and from the fifth verse of this passage of Scripture you will find the apostle Paul speaking unto Timothy concerning the end of the commandment which was charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of unfeigned faith. Please don’t miss and lose sight of the words which are found in this passage of Scripture, for the words which we find here speak of charity which can be understood as love—and not only charity but also charity from a pure heart, from a good conscience and of faith which is unfeigned. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous reality of just what our love for and toward others truly does look like. The apostle Paul sought to encourage and admonish Timothy to instruct and teach men and women in Ephesus concerning love and charity and how that love was to be such that would be untarnished. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it calls and draws our attention to the awesome reality of just what our love looks like toward others. We know that we have been called to love our neighbors as ourselves and to love our enemies, however, it is absolutely necessary that we recognize and pay attention to just what that love truly does look like. There is a great need for us to recognize that true love is not something that can be conjured or manufactured with and from our flesh but is something that only the Holy Spirit Himself can produce within our hearts and lives. There is something we must understand concerning love and that the love we have for the saints of the most High God must be such with a sincere and pure heart.

 

            As you continue reading the words which are found in this epistle you will be brought face to face with the truth surrounding false doctrine and false teaching which was present among the church in Ephesus. If you continue reading with and from the sixth verse you will find that there were some who swerved and turned aside unto vain jangling desiring to be teachers of the law and not understanding what they saw nor what they affirm. This is truly important for us to recognize and understand—specifically when we consider the words which are found in the second chapter of the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Rome as well as the words which are found in the fifth and sixth chapters of the New Testament book of Hebrews. What’s more is that we must needs also consider the words which are found in the epistle written by James the half-brother of Jesus unto the saints which were scattered. The words we find in these passages of Scripture bring us face to face with the truth surrounding those who desire to be teachers and yet themselves have need to be taught as well as those who desire to be teachers and yet are hypocrites in the sight and presence of the living God. It is with this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the epistles written unto the saints at Rome, the Hebrews, as well as the saints which are scattered and suffering in the midst of the earth:

 

            “Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things. But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things. And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and ddoest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God? Or despises thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; who will render to every man according to his deeds: to them who by patience continuance in well doing week for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: but unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; but glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: For there is no respect of persons with God. For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law; (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another) in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel” (Romans 2:1-16).

 

            “Behold, thou art called a jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God, and knowest his will, and approves the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law; and art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them w hich are in darkness, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law. Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? Thou that preaches a man should not steal, dost thou steal? Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? Thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege? Thou that makest thy boast of the law, thorugh breaking the law dishonourest theou God? For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written. For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision. Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision? And shall not uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfil the law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision dost transgress sthe law? For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: but he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God” (Romans 2:17-29).

 

            “…Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be utterd, seeing ye are dull of hearing. For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskillful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Hebrews 5:11-14).

 

            “Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this will we do, if God permit. For it impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted of the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God: but that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned” (Hebrews 6:1-8).

 

            “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: for the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: for he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looking into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain. Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world” (James 1:19-27).

 

            As I prepare to bring this writing to a close it is absolutely necessary to consider the words which are found in the second half of the opening chapter of this epistle. If you consider the words which are found in the second half of this epistle you will find the apostle Paul declaring that the law is good is a man use it lawfully knowing that the law was not made for a righteous man but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and for those who lived contrary to sound doctrine. The apostle Paul goes on to thank Christ the Lord who enabled him and counted him faithful and put him into the ministry—that one who previously was a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious. Despite and regardless of the past of the apostle Paul we find that he obtained mercy from the Lord Jesus because He did it ignorantly in unbelief. Not only this but the apostle Paul goes on to declare that the grace of the Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which was in Christ Jesus. Moreover the apostle Paul goes on to refer to himself as the chief of sinners and that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners such as himself. There is something truly awesome and powerful about the words which are found in this first chapter for at the very heart of it is the powerful truth that the Lord Jesus Christ came to save sinners—even the chiefest of sinners such as the apostle Paul. The apostle Paul goes on to declare that he obtained mercy in that Jesus Christ might show His longsuffering for a pattern to them which should believe on Him to life everlasting.

 

The final verses of the first chapter are incredibly significant when you take the time to think about them for the apostle Paul goes on to write concerning the King eternal, immortal, and invisible—the only wise God. The apostle Paul goes on to declare unto this living God that all honour and glory belongs forever and ever. With this being said we must needs recognize the words the apostle Paul continues to speak unto Timothy in the final verses of this chapter for he charged him to war a good warfare according to the prophcies which went before over and upon him. Not only this but the apostle Paul also instructed Timothy to hold fast faith and a good conscience which some had put away concerning faith and had made themselves shipwreck. We must needs recognize and understand the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for at the very heart of the words the apostle Paul spoke unto Timothy was the charge to be a vessel, guardian and defender of truth as well as a faithful warrior and soldier in the army of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is absolutely necessary and imperative we recognize and understand this for it calls and draws our attention to the awesome and powerful truth concerning the instruction the apostle Paul gave to Timothy for when we think about ourselves as the disciples and and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ—not only must we be faithful guardians of truth but we must also be those who hold unswervingly to charity and faith with a good conscience before the Lord Jesus Christ. We must needs recognize the words and instruction found in this particular epistle for they serve as a powerful exhortation and admonishment for us as the saints of God and disciples of Christ to be those who faithfully guard and steward the truth and as those who walk in the mercy, the grace, the salvation and the forgiveness we have been given according to mercy of God and the person of the Lord Jesus.

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