Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Insights on Timothy/Titus

Several months ago, I read Charles Swindoll's Insights on Romans. That work represents a detailed exposition of the letter from the Apostle Paul to the Christians in Rome explaining the who, what, when, where, and why of the faith. As I so enjoyed that study, I moved to another book in Swindoll's New Testament Insights series, Insights on 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus. This work focuses on three short letters prepared by Paul to his protégés Timothy and Titus. Both Timothy and Titus were capable and faithful men of God whom Paul had spent significant time with, training them and forming them into strong and compassionate leaders who could carry on his work. These letters, called epistles, while personally written to Paul's friends and co-laborers, were also meant to be shared with the local church to strengthen them and train them in the ways of the Lord, and to teach them how their ministry should be organized and celebrated.

1 Timothy was written in AD 64 to Timothy, whom Paul had left to strengthen the young church that he had started in Ephesus in Asia Minor. Titus was written just a few months later to Titus, whom Paul had left to finish the work that he had started on the island of Crete in the Mediterranean Sea. These letters also served to build up Timothy and Titus, who were given positions of leadership that were very demanding. Both Ephesus and Crete were bustling, influential places, with deeply entrenched pagan influences. The spiritual battles facing Timothy and Titus were not fought one day and victory claimed the next. They were battles that would necessarily continue day after day, with a foe that was consistently stirring up turmoil and strife. Paul chose his words very carefully to his young charges so as to remind them of their roles and responsibilities.

The final letter contained in this work is 2 Timothy. Paul wrote this letter to Timothy in AD 66 from a jail cell in Rome, where he had been arrested by Nero for crimes of treason and heresy. At this point in Paul's life, although he knew that God could protect him and deliver him from his cell, he somehow knew that he was nearing the end of his life. With this knowledge, he wrote a letter to Timothy to pass along some final words of advice. He extorted Timothy to continue to proclaim the word of God no matter the obstacles or the difficulties. Within just a few months of writing this letter, Nero had Paul executed. The beautiful aspect of Paul's letter is his strength and his patience all the way to the end of his days. Without an ounce of pride he stated, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith."

Next in Swindoll's Insights on the New Testament series, I will study Insights on James, 1 & 2 Peter. I look forward to sharing this with you shortly.