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Timothy: The Pastor's Primer

While Second Timothy represents the last word we have from the pen of the Apostle Paul, First Timothy was written a few years earlier, probably immediately after the apostle had been imprisoned in Rome for the first time. After he was released, he wrote this letter to the young man whom he had won to Christ years before when he was preaching in Timothy's home town of Lystra. Timothy was probably no more than sixteen years old at the time. He accompanied Paul on his second journey and was a faithful minister and son-in-the-faith with the apostle for the rest of his life.This is one of three "pastoral letters" in the New Testament -- letters written from a pastor's viewpoint. First and Second Timothy are two of them, and Titus is the third. In these letters, we have very intimate words from the apostle to these young men who frequently accompanied him on his journeys. I have often suspected that some of the young men who were with Paul were once members of the palace guard of the Emperor Nero. In the letter to the Philippians, Paul tells us that the gospel was reaching the palace guard, and that many of them were being brought to Christ.But this letter was to Timothy, who by this time had served as a son in the gospel with the apostle for several years. He was probably in his late twenties or early thirties, and the apostle had sent him to Ephesus, the great commercial and pleasure resort on the shores of the Mediterranean in Asia Minor.

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Adam's Rib or Women's Lib? (1 Timothy 2:8-15)

We are approaching one of the major battlefields of Scripture, the controversial passage from Chapter 2 of Paul's first letter to Timothy. Many have fought and still are fighting over this section. We have to approach it with great care, and yet deal with it thoroughly. I want to remind you of one fact which we must hold clearly in mind: The subject under discussion in this passage, as well as in this entire chapter, is prayer. Paul is writing about the worship of the congregation when they come together, especially as that worship centers on and focuses in prayer. So the passage that touches on women and on their ministry among us grows out of that subject.

25 Sep 2018

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The Lord's Leaders (1 Timothy 3:1-7)

There is a wide spectrum of titles used for leaders of churches in this country. The Baptists have deacons; the Presbyterians have elders; the Methodists have stewards, bishops; Episcopalians have rectors and vicars (whatever they are); and the Catholics say that priests ought to be in charge. Many denominations refer to their leaders as ministers. As I was thinking of that, I wondered whatever became of the word parson? It has been a long time since I heard anybody called a parson, although that used to be common in this country. (That is where the word "parsonage" -- the house the parson lives in -- comes from.)

24 Sep 2018

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The Promise of Life (2 Timothy 1:1-7)

We come to this second letter to Timothy with quickened anticipation, realizing that these are the last recorded words of the Apostle Paul. Tradition tells us that shortly after this letter was written, Paul was taken out on the Ostian Way, outside the city of Rome, and there on an April morning he was beheaded.

12 Sep 2018

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The Cost of Riches (1 Timothy 6:6-19)

Last week a man in Brooklyn, New York, whose work was replacing light bulbs in a New York skyscraper, bought a one-dollar lottery ticket and with it won five million dollars. It would be interesting to know how many of you are saying to yourselves, "Why can't I get lucky like that?" Some of you may be saying, "What a pity! I hope nothing like that ever happens to me." The passage from First Timothy 6, which we will be looking at this morning, will help us decide which group we belong in.

14 Sep 2018

Rank #4

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Advice to a Young Pastor (1 Timothy 4:11-16)

I feel a great affinity to the section of the Apostle Paul's first letter to Timothy which we will be looking at this morning. I came to Palo Alto at the age of thirty-two, fresh out of seminary, not yet dry behind the ears, to work with men who were older than I. Many of these men had been Christians longer than I, some of them had national status as Christian leaders, yet I was expected not only to minister the Scriptures before them but at times to work with them and even to correct some of the things that were being taught or viewpoints that were held.

18 Sep 2018

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Fraudulent Faith (1 Timothy 4:1-5)

Chapter four of First Timothy begins with dramatic and intriguing words. The apostle says:

20 Sep 2018

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Help for Elders (1 Timothy 5:17-25)

In this section from First Timothy 5 the Apostle Paul again turns to admonitions and instructions concerning the elders of a church. Many of you will never be elders, so you are already thinking, "This is not for me; it's boring stuff." But remember that, in these passages, the apostle is dealing with the divinely-given machinery for the proper functioning of a church.

16 Sep 2018

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God's Chosen Instrument: The Church (1 Timothy 3:14-15)

I flew out of Denver, Colorado, to Peoria, Illinois, a few years ago. Not very many people go to Peoria, but I did, and I flew on Ozark Airlines because I wanted to get there the worst possible way! In the plane I picked up the little magazine that every airline has. My attention was caught by an advertisement on the back page that said in large letters, "When you understand that you can change the world, your life will never be the same again." Naturally, I was curious to know what it was that would make such a dramatic difference. Reading further, I saw that it was an advertisement for Playboy magazine. That irritated me a little at first, but then I thought that it is really true: Playboy magazine has changed the world.

22 Sep 2018

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The Central Glory (1 Timothy 3:16)

This morning we recited together the Nicene Creed, which came from the fourth century. We joined with the confession of faith of Christians from those struggling days of the church, when they were hammering out on the anvil of controversy the theological viewpoints and teachings of the church. But in the passage from the third chapter of First Timothy, which we will be studying today, we are looking at a single verse that comes right out of the 1st century, clear back to the very beginnings of the church. Many scholars feel this verse constitutes a confession of faith which the early church recited. In fact, because of the rhythm of its phrases, the scholars think that this was sung as a hymn.

21 Sep 2018

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Sound Words for Slaves (1 Timothy 6:1-5)

At the time the Apostle Paul wrote his first letter to Timothy, half the population of the Roman Empire -- about sixty million people -- were slaves. Many of them had been taken as prisoners of war by the Roman legions. Some were taken away out of their own countries, while others were kept captive within their own lands. Some slaves were highly educated, literate men and women. A few of them became secretaries to leading Romans and others, but most of them were illiterate, as were many of the Romans.

15 Sep 2018

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A Good Minister (1 Timothy 4:6-10)

Last week Ron Ritchie and I were at Indiana University. We had a great time of Christian fellowship on a beautiful campus in the midst of all the fall colors. Besides the students, some of the townspeople had come up to our meetings, and among them was a young pastor by the name of Lou who showed up for every meeting. He was very spiritually hungry. He sat down and talked with me at great length, telling me some of the problems he was facing. He seemed to welcome the opportunity to share with an older, more experienced Christian. (Obviously, I am too young-looking to inspire that kind of confidence, but Ron Ritchie, with his grey hair and beard, awakened that sense of desire in this young man!)

19 Sep 2018

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The Care and Feeding of Widows (1 Timothy 5:1-16)

In Chapter 5 of Paul's first letter to Timothy, the apostle addresses certain continuing problems in the church at Ephesus. Timothy will have to deal with various classes and people in the congregation; he will have to face problems of discipline -- even discipline of elders, as we will see in the latter half of this chapter.

17 Sep 2018

Rank #12

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The Lord's Servants (1 Timothy 3:8-13)

I find much confusion today, even here at PBC, about who the leaders of the church ought to be, and what these terms, elders, deacons, and pastors, mean. Anne-Marie Ritchie was telling me yesterday that when their son Roddie was about eight years old or so, at school one day he was asked to write down what his father did. Roddie wrote, "My father is a rabbi, or a priest, or a minister, or something like that." Ron is still trying to figure that out!

23 Sep 2018

Rank #13

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O Man of God! (1 Timothy 6:11-21)

We have come to the last of our studies in First Timothy. This is a very moving passage in which the Apostle Paul addresses young Timothy, left all alone in this great city of Ephesus, a challenging, demanding and dangerous responsibility, to be the apostolic representative to the churches of the city. If you have ever felt left alone with a great responsibility and hardly anybody to lean on, you know exactly how Timothy felt. Paul wrote these letters to encourage him; and the Spirit of God has preserved them because they are an encouragement to us who have to face difficulty and demand in our world today.

13 Sep 2018

Rank #14

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The Call to Courage (2 Timothy 1:8-13)

During the presentation on the work of the Christian Service Brigade this morning, it struck me that the beautiful thing about the work of these men with young boys is that they are passing the torch of faith on to another generation. It is always encouraging to see that happening. That is the way a new and upcoming generation learns values, principles and guidelines that will steady it and hold it in the midst of the swirling maelstroms of unbelief and immorality it has to face.

11 Sep 2018

Rank #15