Timothy, Son and Soldier
1 Timothy 1:1-2
Primary Truth Taught
Paul is preparing Timothy for the spiritual battles he must face as he seeks to lead the Church of Ephesus.
Today’s sermon begins our walk through the Book of 1 Timothy. To set the context we must first discover who Timothy was and why Paul thought it was necessary to write an authoritative epistle to him. As we go through this Book together over the next few months, the Apostle will make some comments and they will be much clearer if we know a little background about Timothy. This epistle is addressed to him personally and then secondly it is meant for us, the church.
Who was Timothy?
Timothy was a young man when Paul wrote him both epistles. The letters of First and Second Timothy were probably no more than 2-3 years apart. We have in 1 Timothy 4:12 the mention of Timothy’s youth. Notice what Paul writes:
1 Timothy 4:12 (ESV)
12 Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.
Then a few years later, when the Apostle wrote to his true son in the faith again he still uses the same word, 2 Timothy 2:22 (ESV)
22 So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.
So, the questions scholars have sought to answer and one you may be asking, Just how old was Timothy during this time? Most who have studied this have concluded that he was probably in his late twenties to early thirties based on the chronology of when Paul began mentoring him to the time He sent him to Ephesus. He was probably eighteen to twenty-one years old when he met Paul. Then he followed Paul and the missionary team some thirteen to fourteen years which would place him in his mid thirties which by ancient standards was still considered youth.
The next important characteristic is that Timothy at times fearful and timid. I suppose I like Timothy so much because it is in these handicaps of his I can relate. Sometimes when I read the Apostles Peter and Paul I almost think they were superhuman but they too had personal flaws that at times held them back. It seems, however, with Timothy we can relate. Have you ever been in a situation when you responded in fear? Have you been in a setting when you knew the right response was to forcefully and with bravery confront but you did not?
2 Timothy 1:6–7 (ESV)
6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, 7 for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
Not only was Timothy somewhat fearful but also he was often ill. He suffered from an ongoing recurrent gastric issue. That’s why Paul wrote to him and told him to basically, not just drink water but because of his physical ailment to also drink some wine for medicinal reasons.
1 Timothy 5:23 (ESV)
23 (No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.)
This is a basic Character Profile of Timothy, now let’s seek to answer the question…
Why did Paul deem it necessary to write Timothy an authoritative apostolic epistle?
Many times scholars call this the occasion for writing. Paul understood some things about the current situation in Ephesus. He knew false teachers had infiltrated the church from the outside and had also risen up from within. In fact, he saw it coming.
Acts 20:29–31 (ESV)
29 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. 31 Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears.
So, Paul knew the lay of the land and had received word that his worst fears had come true, false teacher were there, in the church teaching twisted doctrine. He also knew something else: if Timothy was going to stand up to them he needed help. Paul was unable to be there in person so he wrote this epistle as a way to instruct Timothy and to also instruct us. He wrote it to Timothy personally but to also be read to the church so that they could see who God wanted to be in charge of this body of believers in the City of Ephesus. Timothy was the man whom God picked to lead the flock with Paul’s endorsement Timothy would succeed. So the occasion for writing was that Paul wanted to shut down the false teachers and then also teach how people are to live and behave in the corporate setting.
Human Need Met
I f you’ve ever felt timid or that you lack spiritual power to be obedient in the Christian life, this letter is for you. If you can relate some to Timothy this letter is for you. Can you imagine how hard it was for him to live under the shadow of the Apostle Paul? If you’ve ever looked at someone else and thought, I could never be as faithful and bold as they are…this epistle has your name on it.
1 Timothy 1:1–2 (ESV)
1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope,
2 To Timothy, my true child in the faith:
Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope,
We can get so accustomed to reading the normal Pauline greeting and salutation in his letters that we read over it too quickly. This one, while it has some of the same components that the others have, proves to be different. Here, his desire is that the people in the church understand very clearly that what he is about to tell them is a message that God has for them and that he is simply the messenger. Which, by the way, is the literal meaning of the title apostle.
What is Paul trying to achieve with this greeting? Has Timothy forgotten Paul’s apostolic credentials? The fact is, Timothy knew very well who Paul was. He knew very well that he was indeed an apostle called by God with special authority to make certain claims and certain commands.
If we remember, Timothy had traveled with Paul and helped him while he was in prison at Rome. It was on Paul’s release that Timothy travelled with him to the City of Ephesus where Paul left Timothy to carry on the mission in that very corrupt and pagan city.
So, Paul writes as he does as a reminder to Timothy that while they are friends, what he is writing to Timothy is of very special significance. Secondly, he writes as he does to show the church that they are to regard Timothy as highly as they would him if he were still there.
Another important piece of this greeting that is different is the phrase by command of God our Savior. Here, the literal rendering reads much like a decree of the King…By order of God the Father!! Do you sense the power and authority that comes pulsating through this sentence? Paul is telling those in Ephesus that what he is about to tell them is exactly what God wants him to tell them and that God had selected him personally for this task.
Often in the Pastoral Epistles, Paul uses the phrase, God our Savior. Now this may seem somewhat strange to some but we must remember that it was God the Father who took the initiative to save us. It was the Father who has chosen us and the Father who sent His Son to die for our sin.
1 Corinthians 1:21–22 (ESV) 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom,
Here in 1 Timothy God is called our Savior three times. (see 2:3; 4:10) This is a very rich theological theme. 1 Timothy 2:1–4 (ESV)
2 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
1 Timothy 4:10 (ESV)
10 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.
God being called Savior is such a wonderful title or even nickname for God. You can actually feel reverberations of the gospel in the title “God our Savior”.
Where did God get that name? In a real sense He has always been know as Savior. To Abel He was Savior. But more specifically He began officially being called Savior as He rescued His people from Egypt.
Exodus 15:1–3 (ESV)
15 Then Moses and the people of Israel sang this song to the Lord, saying,
“I will sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously;
the horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea.
2 The Lord is my strength and my song,
and he has become my salvation;
this is my God, and I will praise him,
my father’s God, and I will exalt him.
3 The Lord is a man of war;
the Lord is his name.
God the Father is also Savior in another sense. He is Savior by way of the New Covenant. God the Father is the author of the Covenant of Grace by which He chose before the foundation of the world to not take into account the sin of all who are in Christ.
Psalm 32:2 (ESV)
2 Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity,
and in whose spirit there is no deceit.
What is even more wonderful is that in Paul’s writings he often calls God the Father, Savior because He is the Great Architect of salvation. Then, he many times calls Jesus, Savior as well. Jesus is the means by which this salvation plan is implemented in history… 2 Timothy 1:8–10 (ESV)
8 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, 9 who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, 10 and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel,
Jesus Christ is called our hope because it is through Jesus all the promises of God are realized. He is truly the hope of glory and our assurance of faith. Everything we have from God comes to us through Jesus Christ.
Paul writes that Jesus is our Hope. What does he mean when he calls Jesus our Hope?
In various other NT writings Paul uses the word hope. Usually it is in regard to our future salvation.
1 Thessalonians 5:8 (ESV)
8 But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.
In other words the saved have a guarantee that God the Father will extend to them eternal life in the last days and the guarantee, in this case, is Jesus’ work on the cross for us, His resurrection, His ascension, and His future return. Just as sure as Christ died and rose again we will experience full salvation. So, Paul writes that Jesus is our hope. Beloved, we can have confidence in God our Savior through Jesus our eternal hope.
2 To Timothy, my true child in the faith:
As with most ancient letters, the addressee is identified. Here, it is a young man Paul has a special relationship with, Timothy.
In most works on these verses, commentators believe that Timothy was converted under Paul’s preaching and then discipled under Paul’s teaching. It is almost like Timothy was Paul’s adopted son. In this relationship we get a sense of a father’s affection for his son.
By calling Timothy my true son, the apostle is reassuring Timothy of his faith and conversion. His son ship is in the arena of faith.
We will note later as we look at other texts that Timothy as Paul’s true son in the faith stands in opposition to the false teachers that the apostle is ready to single out as destructive to the Gospel where as Timothy is the genuine son who has been taught accurately by Paul and is ready to carry the Gospel on to the church.
1 Corinthians 4:16–17 (ESV)
16 I urge you, then, be imitators of me. 17 That is why I sent you Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach them everywhere in every church.
Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
Paul serves as the conduit in which God extends grace, mercy, and peace to Timothy.
Grace- is unmerited favor given as a free gift from God to Timothy through Jesus Christ. Unmerited Favor…unearned favor. God gives us true kindness free of cost to us.
Peace- is our consciousness of receiving God’s grace. When we have assurance of our genuine salvation we have peace. True peace is not based on our current circumstances. They can be good or bad but peace will always be there when we are confident in the work of Christ for us.
But sandwiched in between Grace and Peace is a word that is unique to the Pastoral Epistles…mercy is added to the greeting.
Why would Paul write to Timothy and extend him mercy?
Timothy was left literally between a rock and a hard place. This grace and mercy and peace were needed for the battle. Timothy needed to be reminded that God had given him the resource of mercy.
We too are recipients of Grace, Mercy, and peace but not in order for us to feel better as we seek comfort but like Timothy, we too must use these resources as we engage in the battle.
Timothy was left there because the church was messed up.
He was going to have to tell the false teachers to sit down and be quiet…
Paul teaches about proper church leadership because Timothy was going to have to tell a deacon or two and an elder or two that they are NOT qualified to hold those offices.
To a particular woman she has usurped the authority of the male teacher and she was going to have to sit down and be quiet…
So what Timothy needed was a large dose of Grace, Mercy and Peace from God and he was going to have to get over his timidity.
Do you think that went well? He needs to be reminded that Grace, Mercy, and Peace do not come from people but from God.
We need to see that these resources are given for a specific purpose. We receive God’s grace for His glory, we receive mercy when we are engaged in proper Christian ministry and we receive peace when we are battling against the world. All these come from God for strength in the battle not to make us more comfortable here.
At times if it seems like these resources are alluding you, ask yourself am I engaged in ministry at GCC or am I expecting God to just dispense these to me for my comfort and to make me feel better.
These three resources are for ministry not to make us feel better while we do what we desire.
We should see how important it is to learn the true Gospel. Just as Paul taught Timothy and was there for him as he engaged in ministry we must learn the Gospel rightly and then be ready to teach others.
Are you discipling others or are you in need of being disciple. Seek out those around you who can become your partner in a discipling relationship. Watch what God does.
Declaration of Grace
The Letters to Timothy and Titus by Philip Towner
Thessalonians, Timothy and Titus by William Hendriksen
The Pastoral Epistles by George W. Knight III
1 Timothy by John Stott
 The Message of 1 Timothy and Titus by John Stott pg 37
 The Letters to Timothy and Titus. NICNT by Phillip Towner, pg 97