The Return of Jesus – 2 Thessalonians 2

Read the Passage: 2 Thessalonians 2

Day of the Lord (2:1–12)

Recall that in 2 Thess. 1:7–10 Paul had briefly addressed Jesus’ return as he taught about the judgment of unbelievers. In a similar manner, back in 1 Thess. 4:13–5:11 Paul wrote about the return of Christ. Continue reading The Return of Jesus – 2 Thessalonians 2

False Teachers – Jude

Read the Passage: Jude

Author and Date: The epistle of Jude is the fifth shortest book in the Bible, consisting of only 461 words and containing just 25 verses. The author of this book identifies himself as “Jude . . . [the] brother of James” (Jude 1). Continue reading False Teachers – Jude

The Word of God – 2 Timothy 3

Read the Passage: 2 Timothy 3

Rejection of Truth (3:1–9)

In 2 Tim. 2:14–19 Paul had warned Timothy about the inevitable presence of false teachers in the church. After illustrating this by appealing to honorable and dishonorable vessels in 2 Tim. 2:20–26, Paul continued his thought at 2 Tim. 3:1 writing that “in the last days perilous times will come” (cf. 1 Tim. 4:1–3). Continue reading The Word of God – 2 Timothy 3

Exhortations to Godliness – 2 Timothy 2

Read the Passage: 2 Timothy 2

A Good Soldier (2:1–13)

As he had done at 1 Cor. 4:17, 1 Tim. 1:2, and 2 Tim. 1:2, so here at 2 Tim. 2:1 Paul again refers to Timothy as his “son.” Paul then exhorts Timothy to “be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 2:1). Observe that Paul does not encourage Timothy toward self-reliance but reminds him to lean on Jesus’ grace. Continue reading Exhortations to Godliness – 2 Timothy 2

Concluding Exhortations – 1 Timothy 6

Read the Passage: 1 Timothy 6

Greed and Contentment (6:1–10)

While Paul does not give many specific details about the false teachers in the Ephesian church, we can learn about their doctrine from Paul’s general description of their errors, as well as from the issues on which Paul chooses to instruct Timothy. Continue reading Concluding Exhortations – 1 Timothy 6

Confronting False Doctrine – 1 Timothy 4

Read the Passage: 1 Timothy 4

Practical Marks (4:1–5)

Earlier in this letter, Paul wrote about the false teachers in the Ephesian church, as he generally described their errors (cf. 1 Tim. 1:3–8), even mentioning several of the men whom he had disciplined by name (cf. 1 Tim. 1:18–20). Note, too, that Paul had earlier predicted that false teachers would arise in Ephesus, as they do in almost every church (cf. Acts 20:29–30). Continue reading Confronting False Doctrine – 1 Timothy 4

1 Timothy: Introduction – 1 Timothy 1

Read the Passage: 1 Timothy 1

Authorship and Date – Timothy, who was from the city of Lystra in the province of Galatia (cf. Acts 16:1–3), had been led to Christ by Paul, likely on Paul’s first missionary journey. We learn in the book of Acts that Timothy’s mother was Jewish, and his father was Greek. On Paul’s second missionary journey, Timothy joined Paul’s ministry team, essentially serving as Paul’s protégé. In addition to appearing with Paul throughout the book of Acts, Timothy is mentioned by name in seven of Paul’s epistles, plus the two letters that bear his name (cf. Rom. 16:21; 2 Cor. 1:1; Phil. 1:1; Col. 1:1; 1 Thess. 1:1; 2 Thess. 1:1; Phile. 1). It was Paul’s practice to send Timothy to serve the churches in various capacities, as well as to deliver important messages (cf. 1 Cor. 4:17; Phil. 2:19; 1 Thess. 3:2). This book was written by Paul from Macedonia (cf. 1 Tim. 1:3), likely around AD 63, after Paul was released from his first Roman imprisonment. Observe that Timothy had been (or would soon be) in prison himself. Furthermore, like Paul, Timothy would eventually be released (cf. Heb. 13:23).

Purposes and Theme – In short, Paul wrote this letter to Timothy, whom he had left to oversee the church in Ephesus. Like the other Pastoral Epistles, the book of 1 Timothy was written to give instruction and guidance regarding issues in church life. Of special concern to Paul in this epistle are false teachers, false doctrine, church leadership, and general order within the church. Since Timothy knew Paul’s doctrine, and would have been teaching in accord with it, there was no need for Paul to give a systematic exposition of theology in this epistle. Rather, most of this book is very practical in nature and addresses issues Timothy faced as pastor of the church in Ephesus. It seems likely that when Paul was released from prison in Rome, he re-visited many of the churches he had established during his earlier missionary journeys. Paul surely spent time in Ephesus, where he had earlier spent three years ministering (cf. Acts 20:31). After serving for some time, Paul urged Timothy to “remain in Ephesus” (1 Tim. 1:3) in order to instruct the church. The issues Paul addresses in this letter, then, are likely subjects he saw firsthand while he tarried in the city of Ephesus.

Structure and Outline – The book of 1 Timothy is practical in content, and thus less structured than some of Paul’s more doctrinally-oriented letters. A simple thematic outline of this epistle is as follows:

  • Proper Doctrine (ch. 1)
  • Church Conduct (ch. 2)
  • Christian Leaders (ch. 3)
  • False Teachers (ch. 4)
  • Pastoral Responsibility (ch. 5)
  • Personal Exhortations (ch. 6)

Purpose of the Letter (1:1–11)

In his introduction, Paul refers to Timothy as “a true son in the faith” (1 Tim. 1:2), a phrase used only of Timothy (cf. 2 Tim. 1:2) and of Titus (cf. Titus 1:4). Here Paul charged Timothy with ensuring that the church was being taught true doctrine. Apparently, there were false teachers in the Ephesian church—perhaps even in positions of leadership—who taught fables and focused on minutia (cf. 1 Tim. 1:4), who didn’t understand the moral law (cf. 1 Tim. 1:5–11), who were hypocrites (cf. 1 Tim. 4:1–2), who misunderstood true Christian liberty (cf. 1 Tim. 4:3–5), and who were divisive in spirit (cf. 1 Tim. 6:3–5). These false teachers may have been like the Judaizers whom Paul addressed elsewhere (cf. Acts 15:1–15; Gal. 2:14). Furthermore, these false teachers were likely teaching salvation by law-keeping, thus Paul wrote about the convictional use of the law in 1 Tim. 1:8–11, as he references each of the Ten Commandments in this vice list. Moreover, in this context Paul reminds Timothy that “the law is good if one uses it lawfully” (1 Tim. 1:8).

Testimony of Paul (1:12–17)

After writing about the convictional use of the law in 1 Tim. 1:8–11, Paul intentionally mentions the gospel, which moved him to briefly recount his own salvation story at 1 Tim. 1:12–17. In 1 Tim. 1:12–13 Paul reviews his own sin, which while committed “ignorantly in unbelief” (1 Tim. 1:13) still made Paul guilty before a holy God. Writing then of his own salvation, Paul recounts God’s grace, love, mercy, and long-suffering (cf. 1 Tim. 1:14–16). Next, as he recalls his own sin, Paul is moved to praise God for eternal life as he offers to the Lord a moving doxology of praise (cf. 1 Tim. 1:17). In this passage Paul sets an example of the importance of remembering our own sin and salvation, of reminding ourselves of the gospel, and of praising God for His past work in our lives. Observe Paul’s conclusion in this passage that God allowed his own great sin, and ensuing salvation, “as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him” (1 Tim. 1:16).

Ministry of Timothy (1:18–20)

In 1 Tim. 1:18–20 Paul charged Timothy to continue on with the work of the church, which was in accord with Timothy’s spiritual giftedness and ministerial calling. Note that God calls certain men to be pastors (cf. Eph. 4:11–12), which will result in them having a desire to serve the church in such a role (cf. 1 Tim. 3:1). In Timothy’s case, this ministerial giftedness was accompanied by prophecies, as well as by the public recognition of the church (cf. 1 Tim. 1:18; 4:14), which was likely an ordination event. Yet, because of the challenges of ministry, especially in a difficult church like Ephesus, Paul needed to encourage Timothy to persevere in the ministry. In 1 Tim. 1:19–20 Paul mentions two men, likely ringleaders in purveying the false doctrine Timothy was to confront, whom Paul had earlier disciplined in the church. Given Paul’s later teaching on church leadership, it is possible these men had earlier been elders in the church.

Application Questions:

  1. What do you know about the Pastoral Epistles? How do these letters compare to one another? What verses from 1 Timothy have been helpful to you?
  2. What is Paul referring to as he writes that “the law is good if one uses it lawfully” (cf. 1 Tim. 1:8)? What is the proper use of the moral law?
  3. Are false teachers a problem for most churches? What are some common traits of false teachers that can help us to identify them in the church?
  4. When Paul referred to himself as the chief of sinners (cf. 1 Tim. 1:15), do you think he was exaggerating or writing with hyperbole (cf. Phil. 3:1–11)?
  5. How can we tell if someone has the spiritual gift of being a pastor or a teacher? Do spiritual gifts for church leadership differ from other spiritual gifts?

Introduction to Galatians – Galatians 1

Read the Passage: Galatians 1

Authorship and Date – As the very first word of the book of Galatians testifies, this epistle was written by the apostle Paul (cf. Gal. 1:1; 5:2). Pauline authorship was unanimously affirmed by the early church and has not been challenged, for the most part, by even the most liberal literary critics. Dating of this epistle is difficult, as the exact recipients of Paul’s letter are not identified. From the book’s title, however, it is sure that Paul wrote to the Galatians (1:2); yet the identity of the Galatians has been hotly debated by scholars. Continue reading Introduction to Galatians – Galatians 1

Sermon on the Mount, Part 3 – Matthew 7

Read the Passage: Matthew 7

Judging Others (7:1–6)

Probably one of the most quoted and misapplied verses in the Bible is Matt. 7:1, “Judge not, that you be not judged.” It seems that some people understand this verse to be teaching that we are never to make moral evaluations of others. Of course, this is a ludicrous idea, as even the idea that we are not to make moral evaluations is a moral evaluation. Continue reading Sermon on the Mount, Part 3 – Matthew 7

False Teachers – 2 Peter 2:1-22

Read the Passage: 2 Peter 2:1-22

False Teachers’ Presence (2:1–3)

In 2 Pet. 1:21 Peter had noted that in times past “holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” In continuing his teaching, in 2 Pet. 2:1 the apostle notes that “there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you” (cf. Acts 20:29–30). By way of overview of the false teachers’ methodology, Peter notes here that false teachers “secretly bring in destructive heresies” (2 Pet. 2:1a). Ultimately, however, false teaching is rooted in “denying the Lord” (2 Pet. 2:1b). Continue reading False Teachers – 2 Peter 2:1-22