How rich are Paul’s words — “as you are already doing.” What a wonderful testimony to the unity of the church at Thessalonica, to their support of one another, to their love for each other. Paul, with Silas and Timothy, writes:
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up as you are already doing.”
How does Paul suggest the Thessalonians support each other? By reminding them that “God did not appoint [them] to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for [them] so that, whether [they] are awake or asleep, [they] may live together with Him.” (1 Thessalonians 5:9-10, NIV)
What a staggering thought — they are appointed, as are we, to salvation not to wrath. What is more encouraging? Therefore, Paul is able to write:
“Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, NIV)
Paul warns Timothy to “avoid godless chatter.” (2 Timothy 2:16) Turns out godless chatter leads to godlessness and “spreads like gangrene.” (2 Timothy 2:17) Rather we are called to “correctly handle the Word of Truth” (2 Timothy 2:15) and to stand on “God’s solid foundation.” (2 Timothy 2:19) God’s foundation is that He knows who belongs to Him.
Paul encourages Timothy to “do [his] best to present [himself] to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed.” (2 Timothy 2:15) He tells Timothy to avoid and warn others “against quarreling about words.” Quarreling about words “is of no value, and only ruins those who listen.”
Godless chatter and quarreling about words are condemned by God the Holy Spirit through His servant, Paul. God says, “Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, be kind to everyone.” (2 Timothy 2:23-24)
God calls us to gentle instruction; teaching without resentment. (2 Timothy 2:25,24)
Paul writes to Timothy, “Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: ‘He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.’ (1 Timothy 3:16) Then Paul warns that some in later times will “forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving.” (1 Timothy 4:3) In his letter to the Colossians, Paul writes, “Let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensual mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.” (Colossians 2:16-19) The rules and regulations these persons demand of you, says Paul, “have an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.” (Colossians 2:23)
“Rather,” writes Paul to Timothy, “train yourself for godliness.” (1 Timothy 4:7) “Godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” “For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.” (1 Timothy 4:10)
The example Timothy is to set is “in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” (1 Timothy 4:12) The godliness he seeks is Christ Himself.
Paul outlines rather thoroughly the qualifications for the office of overseer (or bishop): this person “must be above reproach, the husband of one wife (or the man of one woman), sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.” (1 Timothy 3:2-3) He should also be able to “manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive.” (1 Timothy 3:4) And, “he must not be a new convert.” (1 Timothy 3:6)
Then Paul writes to Timothy that in addition to these fine qualities, the bishop (or overseer) “must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.”
Today, I believe this final quality is overlooked and even demeaned as a catering to the world. Think about the recent scandal involving the self-proclaimed prophet who confidently announced the coming of the last day, and the ‘rapture’ of Christ’s church. Even now, this man is claiming the second coming was only miscalculated and is actually going to occur in October of this year. This man is hardly “thought well of by outsiders” and has indeed become “a snare of the devil.” He is leading many people to mock our Lord; and is likely causing new converts to doubt the veracity of God’s organized church and even His Word.
Nothing in the Word of God is to be skimmed over and is to never be dismissed as irrelevant — Paul clearly teaches that a person who desires to lead “must be well thought of by outsiders.”
Paul, writing to Timothy, “[his] true son in the faith” states that “the goal of our instruction is love.” Paul encourages Timothy to continue this instruction in brotherhood with him and to avoid “myths and endless genealogies” which “promote empty speculations rather than God’s plan.” (1 Timothy 1:4) Paul tells Timothy to avoid all that results in “fruitless discussion.” (1 Timothy 1:6)
Paul reminds Timothy that love “comes from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith.” Love does not come from the law or from “teachers of the law [who] don’t understand what they are saying or what they are insisting on.” (1 Timothy 1:7)
Love emerges from our union with Christ who “came into the world to save sinners.” (1 Timothy 1:15) Love is demonstrated in Christ’s “extraordinary patience” with Paul, who calls himself “the worst of [sinners].” (1 Timothy 1:16,15) Christ’s patience with Paul is “an example to those who would believe in Him for eternal life.” (1 Timothy 1:16)
“Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Timothy 1:17)