Παῦλος ἀπόστολος Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ κατʼ ἐπιταγὴν θεοῦ σωτῆρος ἡμῶν καὶ Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ τῆς ἐλπίδος ἡμῶν
The standard format in ancient letters was succinct: name of author, name of recipient, and greetings.i ) For example: Paul, to Timothy, greetings.ii Paul's greeting, as is typical of his writing provides an indication of what is to follow.iii
On the very first day of any college level course the students are handed a Syllabus and are more or less told they will be responsible to live according to what it contains. Of course frequently they are reminded that the teacher is the supreme authority in the room and he overrides the syllabus. No pastor can override the authority of scriptures - but in terms of helping the church live according to the Scriptures the pastor needs authority. Not to Lord it over his congregation, but authority to guide them to Christ, even when they don't like it. Timothy was no different. If he was going to stay in Ephesus and correct error.
That's why looking at the start of Paul's "Church 101" letter to Timothy the first inferred subject is that of pastoral authority.
Paul starts by claiming a specific apostleship. To be an "apostle" means to be sent as a representative of someone with a specific purpose. To be an apostle of Christ Jesus then clearly means that Paul has been sent to represent Jesus in an official capacity bearing his message. Being an apostle is the highest office available. It means he has all the authority of representing Christ. The greeting here is meant to convey Paul's authority upon Timothy.
Paul doesn't have to say , "Timothy must be in charge". There is more significance in saying that his apostleship is "by the commandment of God our savior and of Christ Jesus who is our hope...". Timothy is listed in the third verse in direct lineage to Paul; a lineage with starts with God. Timothy is in Ephesus because Paul told him to be there. Since God has installed Paul, Paul then has the authority to install Timothy. Therefore Timothy, as Paul's representative, has the authority to lead the Ephesian church.
Paul's word for "command" is ?p?ta??????? (epitages); used in formula this way with "according to" (?at? ?p?ta???) it takes on a meaning consistent with a royal decree as in "By order of the king!"iv
The effect is that our attention is drawn not merely to the word "command" or even the substance of the command -- our attention is pulled to the commander. Because of this, I would say that Paul is an apostle not because God _told_ him to be one, but because _GOD_ told him to be one. The authority of God alone has made Paul an Apostle, therefore to reject or neglect Paul or Timothy for that matter is to reject the lineage of Authority that God has established.
The opening salvo in the battle for the holiness of the Ephesian church has been fired. The heretics were busy discussing worthless topics and Paul takes immediate action to publicly arm Timothy with the authority he needs to make it stop and provide an adequate mid course correction.v When it comes to the church being the church; pastoral authority is necessary for the church to function properly.
Anecdotal evidence would suggest that the rejection of Pastoral Authority is very well near universal in the church -- at least the American church-- today. The pastor's task is to train the saints to do ministry rather than to do all the ministry.vi The pastor's task is to rebuke, correct, teach and train with the scripturesvii. But because pastors are denied authority in what are often unspoken ways they risk becoming fearful of losing their jobs if they dare to actually do their job.
Most people don't mind if the pastor teaches theology --providing of course that they agree with the theology, it's another story if they don't -- but a biblical rebuke is out of the question. In fact the very vital task of correction is sometimes perceived as out of bounds.
When I worked as a zone manager at Wal-Mart I made decisions worth lots of someone else's money every day. Some decisions were good and some were bad, but at the end of the day - everything was on my shoulders. The behavior of my employees rested on my shoulders. And you can bet if I was going to answer for them, I was going to hold them accountable -- and they had no right to take exception to it. In fact it was expedient for them to listen to what I had to say.
Some of the most sobering words in the Scriptures for me are found in Hebrews 13:17 "Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you." (NASB)
That tells me among other things that on the day of Christ's appearing I will have to explain your behavior to Jesus. Therefore as your pastor, I must tell you that it behooves you to heed my position of authority, especially when I have to rebuke or correct --not for my sake-- but for yours. That level of Pastoral Authority is mandatory if the church is going to be the church.
The authority of the pastor does not rest in himself but rests instead in the authority of his superior. The identity of that superior then becomes important. So if Pastoral authority is a basic principle of being the church; the identity of Christ is superior to that. The specific branch of theology concerned with the person and work of Jesus is called "Christology".
The Father's Role in our Salvation
Paul starts with the designation of God as our savior. Throughout the New Testament it is clear that Jesus Christ is our savior. The significance, however, of Paul frequently describing God as savior in the Pastoral letters comes from the Old Testament usage. Throughout the Old Testament you'll find more than two dozen times where God is called our Savior, especially in Isaiahviii.
For Timothy, who was very familiar with Paul's teachings, and because his mother brought him up with the Hebrew scriptures, he was familiar with the concept of God as savior. For the church who was hearing this letter for the first time, we need to understand that in Ephesus, as well as in the rest of the Roman Empire, the Emperor was honored and even worshiped as "savior"ix. It's a significant statement then to declare to a Gentile church that instead God is our Savior.
Since most American Christians are almost exclusively familiar with the New Testament only, we are used to calling Jesus our savior. But the Old Testament usage demands that we think of God the Father as our savior because he is the initiator of our salvation. God the father is the one who sent Jesus to be the Savior. In fact, Jude 1:25 states: "...to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen."x God the Father is our savior because he sent Jesus to be our savior. It is primarily in that sense that the Old and New Testaments come together with God the father being the initiator of salvation by sending his son Jesus to become the savior. But there is also a second nuance that shouldn't be missed.
The Deity of Christ.
By Calling God "Our Savior" Paul intentionally forces the issue of the doctrine of the deity (or God-ness) of Jesus Christ. One of the chief markers of a cult from the Evangelical perspective is the answer to the question "What do they say about Jesus?" That's the litmus test in 1 John 4 for determining the Spiritual root of a given teaching.
It doesn't have to be a question of "Who is our savior, God or Jesus?" It's both and only one at the same time - Jesus is our Savior and, being the son of God, Jesus is God in the flesh. Titus 2:13 reads that "...we wait for the blessed hope and the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ,..." (Emphasis added.) There Jesus is called our great God as well as our savior.
In fact it is possible in this verse to translate the word for "and" with "even". The result of such a translation would read: "...by the command of God our savior even Christ Jesus our hope."xi
Within just a very short time in this letter Paul is going to declare that accurate doctrine is only that doctrine which conforms to the gospel (1 Timothy 1:10b-11a "...whatever else is contrary to sound teaching, according to the glorious gospel...":) and he'll allude to that that sentiment in the fourthxii and sixthxiii chapters. Primary to the essence of the gospel is the deity of Jesus, and good doctrine (or teaching) is only that doctrine which conforms to that truth.
So the Deity of Jesus is emphasized as well as denoting that God the Father is the initiator of our Salvation by sending Jesus.xiv
The Hope of Christ
And Jesus, Paul says is our Hope. "Jesus is "not merely the object of [our hope] . . . or the author of it . . . but its very substance and foundation"... Unlike secular apathy and pessimism, Christian hope is sure. It is never a fearful dreading of what lies ahead; rather it is an eager and confident anticipation of what God has in store for believers. It is not so much a subjective emotion as an objective fact."xv
In Ephesians 2:2 Paul reminds the Ephesians that there was a time outside of Christ that they were "without Hope".
Let me ask you this: "Are you hoping in Jesus?" I don't mean the moment by moment emotional-directional pull towards Christ. That emotion will fluctuate like the changing tides. What I mean is this: is your future staked upon Christ or upon Something else? Do you consider Jesus to be your only hope? If you can't sign your name at the bottom line saying, "If Jesus doesn't save me - no body can or will." Than you're not truly trusting in Jesus as your hope; you're trusting yourself - and that's not even a risky hope, it's a baseless and foolish hope which will not pay off.
Yet, if Christ is your hope --indeed if the blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ is your ONLY hope of heaven-- then there is in that statement a foundation of certitude. Your destiny is secure and even amidst today's struggles - we can look to the future to that time when our hope - our steadfast assurance of deliverance, salvation, redemption, and perfection in Christ will come to fruition.
Jesus Christ, and Christ alone is our hope. If we could attain hope by our own godliness or actions, then Jesus died for nothing.
Romans 5:1-2, 5-6 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. ... 5 and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. 6 For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.
For the church to be the church, there must be a recognized Pastoral authority rooted in the supremacy of Christ. Christ must be Lord of this church -- this local body.
iMounce, William D. Vol. 46, Word Biblical Commentary : Pastoral Epistles. Word Biblical Commentary, Page 4. Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 2002.
iiIbid Mounce, William D. Vol. 46, Word Biblical Commentary : Pastoral Epistles. Word Biblical Commentary, Page 4. Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 2002.
iiiibid:Mounce, William D. Vol. 46, Word Biblical Commentary : Pastoral Epistles. Word Biblical Commentary, Page 4. Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 2002.
ivPer Simpson referred to in Mounce, William D. Vol. 46, Word Biblical Commentary : Pastoral Epistles. Word Biblical Commentary, Page 6. Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 2002.
vIt's not really clear from the letter if Timothy's authority was actually being called into question, though there are subtle hints. For instance 4:12 "Let no one look down on your youthfulness..." seems to imply that people were skeptical of Timothy because of his comparative youth.
viiFirst himself 2 Tim 3:16, and then others
ixMounce, William D. Vol. 46, Word Biblical Commentary : Pastoral Epistles. Word Biblical Commentary, Page cxxxv. Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 2002.
xNASB 95 Emphasis added
xiCref. Bill Mounce (WBC) quoting Barret p. 38, "Another interesting observation is made by Barrett when he says that v 2 [sic]could possibly be translated "God our Savior, even Christ Jesus our hope" (38). Mounce, William D. Vol. 46, Word Biblical Commentary : Pastoral Epistles. Word Biblical Commentary, Page 9. Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 2002.
xiv"It requires little theological development to move from the [Old Testament] thought of God as savior, to Jesus' salvific work, and finally to Jesus as the one who saves." (Marshall, Origins of New Testament Christology, 168). Mounce, William D. Vol. 46, Word Biblical Commentary : Pastoral Epistles. Word Biblical Commentary, Page cxxxv. Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 2002.
xvQuoting Ellicott: Mounce, William D. Vol. 46, Word Biblical Commentary : Pastoral Epistles. Word Biblical Commentary, Page 6. Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 2002
Books & Series
- Church 101: An Introduction To First Timothy
- Chapter 1
- 1 Timothy 1:1 Pastoral Authority Grounded in the Supremacy of Christ
- 1 Timothy 1:2 God Meets Our Greatest Need
- 1 Timothy 1:3 Pastoral Longevity
- 1 Timothy 1:4-7 The Measure of A Church
- 1 Timothy 1:8-11 The Role Of Law
- 1 Timothy 1:12-17 Spotlighting the Grace of God
- 1 Timothy 1:18-20 Fight The Good Fight
- Chapter 2
- 1 Timothy 2:1-2 A Call For Communication With God
- 1 Timothy 2:3-7 God is Pleased When We Pray
- 1 Timothy 2:8 Praying Without Posturing
- 1 Timothy 2:9a What Not To Wear part 1
- 1 Timothy 2:9b What Not To Wear 2
- 1 Timothy 2:10 What To Wear
- 1 Timothy 2:11 Let My Daughters Learn!
- 1 Timothy 2:12 Women In The Church
- 1 Timothy 2:13 The Chronology of Creation
- 1 Timothy 2:14 No Headship in Sin
- 1 Timothy 2:15 She Will Be Saved
- Chapter 3
- 1 Timothy 3:1 A Fine Work
- 1 Timothy 3:2 Character Counts 1
- 1 Timothy 3:2 A One Woman Man (Character Counts 2)
- 1 Timothy 3:2 Character Counts 3
- 1 Timothy 3:3 Character Counts 4
- 1 Timothy 3:4-5 Managing His Household Well
- 1 Timothy 3:6 Let's Get Growing
- 1 Timothy 3:7 Stay Out of the Devil's Snare
- 1 Timothy 3:11 Women, Wives or Deacons
- 1 Timothy 3:8-13 Fit To Serve
- 1 Timothy 3:9 Fit To Serve - Part II
- 1 Timothy 3:10-12 Fit To Serve - Part III
- 1 Timothy 3:13 Rising To the Top
- 1 Timothy 3:14-15 The Effects of Living In Relationship to God
- 1 Timothy 3:16 Being Godly
- Chapter 4
- Chapter 5
- 1 Timothy 5:1-2 Restore Them Gently
- 1 Timothy 5:3 The Church's Ministry to Widows I
- 1 Timothy 5:3-8 The Church's Ministry To Widows II
- 1 Timothy 5:8-16 The Widow's Ministry to The Church
- 1 Timothy 5:17-21 The Care and Feeding of Elders I
- 1 Timothy 5:17-21 The Care and Feeding of Elders II
- 1 Timothy 5:22-25 The Care and Feeding of Elders III
- Chapter 6
- First Timothy Bibliography
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