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Category Archives: 1 Timothy

1 Timothy 6 – Good Slaves

Some of the problematic texts in the New Testament are those that seem to condone the use of slavery.  This passage happens to be one of those.  To our modern American sensibilities this is horrific.  How could the early church sanction the practice of slavery in any way?

Well, there’s a few things that we need to understand about slavery in Israel, and I think one of the ways to understand it is to look at modern constructs of slavery in America.  For example,  I am personally enslaved to Quicken Loans, Visa, and the IRS.  My masters allow me to choose where and how I work so long as I give them what I owe them at the time intervals they establish.  Currently, they collectively allow me to keep half of what I earn while they get the rest.  If I don’t do what they require they will limit my future spending options (credit score), garnish my wages, take my home away, or maybe even throw me in jail. Granted, I allowed myself to become their slave in exchange for their paying my debts up front and I can buy my freedom anytime at a prearranged price.  This is similar in many ways to the early American practice of having indentured servants, where American landowners would pay for a European person’s passage to America in exchange for 7 years service.  In these ways, selective “slavery” can be a functional tool.

I do think though that Israelite slavery often functioned more like this than the cruel and violent slavery America practiced for centuries.  Israelites could sell themselves into slavery (like I did with my mortgage) and then buy their freedom eventually (like I hope to with my mortgage).  Admittedly there are examples in scripture where conquered nations were forced to be slaves or masters were cruel and there are no good excuses for this.

Unfortunately, the horrible evil of slavery that is part of America’s past and continues to have echoes into our present, causes us to read many passages of Scripture in this vein.  When you study God’s instructions on slaves and masters in the law and Paul’s teachings on slavery in the New Testament, I think it looks more like the indentured servant practice seen in Colonial America.  I don’t believe that anything in the Bible ever condoned or sanctioned the slave trade that treated humans like animals.

In 1 Timothy 2, Paul teaches that the early Christians should pray for their leaders.  Well, at this point their leader was the Roman Emperor Nero, who burned Christians as human torches.  Certainly he wasn’t sanctioning Nero’s actions, but rather telling Christians to live as well as they can within whatever context they find themselves.  If you are under a cruel dictator, pray for him and be good citizens so he will leave you alone and you can do the work of the Kingdom of God.  If you are a slave, be a good servant to your master so that it will reflect well on you and the one you truly serve, that is Jesus.

Certainly there are other good and valuable teachings in 1 Timothy 6 and I encourage you to make sure you read it all yourself, but I did want to take some time to deal with this difficult and uncomfortable topic.

 
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Posted by on November 13, 2012 in 1 Timothy, Pauline Epistles

 

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1 Timothy 5 – Take Care of Your Family

I was living 1,100 miles away from home when my grandmother had her stroke. Between that and some other family matters I felt like God was telling me I needed to be closer to home to be a better support to my family. I was full force into my ministry in NC and leaving was not in my plans. I began surrounding myself with people praying for discernment. During this time, 1 Timothy 5:8 weighed heavily on me, “Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” I saw the needs of my family and felt convicted that I needed to provide emotionally for my family.

I go to conferences periodically and one of the things that drives me nuts while I’m there is the ongoing complaints about elderships. I have always worked under very supportive leaderships and never felt the need to join in on the complaining. I understand the need for seeking out advice from others with how to deal with different situations but there were a lot of ministers who would more or less one up one another with who had the worse elderships. One year, a guest speaker was up lecturing and made the comment that the only person you should complain to about your leadership is God Himself and even then you should be asking God to change your view of them. His comments made me realize how often we fail to see the important position God has called our elderships to. They have been called by God to be in the position they are in and should not be taken lightly, by them or by us.

There are a lot of things in this passage that Paul addresses and it is obvious that he is preparing Timothy for what things will be like after he is gone. There are ways in which the church should interact with one another. Respect shown in all direction no matter what age.

 
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Posted by on November 12, 2012 in 1 Timothy, Bible Blog, Pauline Epistles

 

1 Timothy 4 – Christian Leader Test

Paul is giving Timothy some oft quoted advice in this passage.  It’s used all the time in youth ministries and devotionals and the such because it says “young.”  However, the only reason Paul addresses Timothy’s youth is to point out that some people might not naturally look to him as a leader so he needs to be sure to be a good example.  In other words, Paul would have given this advice to anybody seeking to be a leader in the church.  If you want to be a good Bible class teacher, deacon, parent, witness for Christ or any other important leader in the church then you should strive to be an example in these ways.

Be an example in speech, life, love, faith, and purity.  When you set an example in these areas people will open themselves to be influenced by you and be more open to your presentation of the Gospel.

So here is the test.  I would encourage you to give yourself a grade on the following areas.  If you are currently a Christian leader, you need to strongly consider these criteria since Paul says they will determine whether or not you will be an effective leader in the church.  If you aspire to be a leader in the church then the best way to start is by improving your example in these areas.

1.  Speech – Do you use profanity or God’s name in vain?  Are you honest?  Do you say what you mean and mean what you say?  Are you an encouragement to others?  Do you speak about your faith or relationship with God before others?  Do you talk badly about others when they aren’t around?  Do you gossip?

2.  Life – How does your life reflect your priorities?  Do you choose work over family or church?  Do you value possessions over giving to God or others?  Are you kind?  Do you go out of your way to serve others?  Do people enjoy spending time with you?  Where do you spend your time?

3.  Love – Do you only love those who love you?  Do you forgive easily?  Do you show kindness to family and strangers?  Do you give good gifts?  Do you contribute to your relationships as much or more as you get out of them?  Are you there for people you care about during tough times?  Do you make sacrifices for others?

4.  Faith – How do you deal with difficult times?  Is prayer just something you do or part of a serious relationship with God?  Are you growing in your faith through spiritual disciplines?  Are you an active part of a faith community/church?  Do you share your faith with others?  Do you have a spiritual mentor?  Are you a spiritual mentor to somebody else?

5.  Purity – In your relationships with others, do you have good motives?  Do you struggle with lust or pornography?  Do you flirt with people other than your spouse?  Do you dress to get the attention of the opposite sex?  Do you make coarse jokes?  Are you genuine in your relationships with others?  Are there things in your life you would be embarrassed to tell your mom?  Your spouse?  Your Bible class teacher?

So my advice is to take the section that you got the lowest grade on and really work on improving that aspect of your life as a Christian example to others.  Pray about it and then do something.

 
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Posted by on November 8, 2012 in 1 Timothy, Pauline Epistles

 

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1 Timothy 2 – Pray for Leaders and Haughty Women

Pray for Leaders

Today I have stayed off of Facebook for two reasons.  First, I was sick all day and pretty much laid around.  Second, I didn’t want to see all of the raw emotion being flung around in the aftermath of the election.  When I finally did, I found something somewhat amusing.  Interestingly, we happened to be in 1 Timothy 2 today which deals with this precise issue.

When your guy wins the election you will post something like “Okay, the election is over and America spoke.  WE voted for ________ and he won fair and square.  So now it’s time to come together and unite to make the best country for all of us.”  For examples of this please see anybody who voted for George W. Bush or Barack Obama.

When you guy loses the election you will post something like, “We’ve lost the country.  It’s all over.  I can’t believe there are enough people out there who think _________ can be President.  After all he is a (war criminal/violator of the Constitution) and he belongs in jail.”  For example, please see anybody who did not vote for George W. Bush or Barack Obama.

What would the Apostle Paul say on Facebook if he was around today: “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people.”

My prayer tonight is that God will bless President Obama with health, wisdom, success, and many other good things.  Paul also mentions that the reason to pray for leaders is so that Christians might live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.  The reason to pray for the earthly kingdom is so that it won’t come into conflict with God’s Kingdom.  And I don’t care who the President is…he/she is not going to be the Messiah and fix everything because Jesus already claimed that role and Jesus is going to still be King of Kings and Lord of Lords no matter who wins an election.

If you thought right now is, “But Kent, it’s so hard to pray for him when….”  You might be right.  But a lot of God’s commands to us are difficult.  Doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it.  And besides, no matter who the President is, it’s easier to pray for him than a Roman Emperor who demands you worship him or die.

Haughty Women

I want to focus on the instructions to women that deal with modesty.  This isn’t a new idea for women in God’s Kingdom to behave and dress modestly.  In fact, if you will look back at Isaiah 3 there is a rather lengthy section dealing with immodestly dressed women who sway their hips and flirt a lot.  What’s interesting is that this section falls right in a long description of the many injustices and problems that exist in Israel that are going to lead to the Babylonian Exile.  Serious stuff.  Check out this passage from Isaiah:

The Lord says,
“The women of Zion are haughty,
walking along with outstretched necks,
flirting with their eyes,
strutting along with swaying hips,
with ornaments jingling on their ankles.
Therefore the Lord will bring sores on the heads of the women of Zion;
the Lord will make their scalps bald.”

In that day the Lord will snatch away their finery: the bangles and headbands and crescent necklaces, the earrings and bracelets and veils, the headdresses and anklets and sashes, the perfume bottles and charms, the signet rings and nose rings, the fine robes and the capes and cloaks, the purses and mirrors, and the linen garments and tiaras and shawls.

Instead of fragrance there will be a stench;
instead of a sash, a rope;
instead of well-dressed hair, baldness;
instead of fine clothing, sackcloth;
instead of beauty, branding.

We often skip over this passage in 1 Timothy 2 because we just want to focus on the more controversial and admittedly troublesome instructions about women being silent.  However, the issue of women behaving in immodest ways and in their clothing is very serious. God wants women who portray beauty in their attitude, actions, and treatment towards others.  God is more interested in women who reflect his characteristics to the world, rather than ornate sensual worldly external beauty.  It’s definitely something to think about.

 
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Posted by on November 6, 2012 in 1 Timothy, Pauline Epistles

 

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