Paul’s 2 letters to his apprentice, Timothy, are quite appropriate as a bridge to my next series. In these letters — which some believe were the last letters Paul ever wrote — he gives valuable advice, speaks the Gospel Truth and warns Timothy of all the unholy times to come. What is amazing is that what Paul was warning Timothy back then — c. 67-69 AD, probably while he was in prison — is happening right now and has been happening throughout church history. I’m not going to go through the 2 letters totally here — it would be too long. I do urge you to read them and study them for yourself. Again, I highly recommend ThroughTheWord.org. 1 Timothy | 2 Timothy
Highlights from 1 Timothy
Paul starts his letter warning Timothy about false teachings…
When I left for Macedonia, I urged you to stay there in Ephesus and stop those whose teaching is contrary to the truth. 4 Don’t let them waste their time in endless discussion of myths and spiritual pedigrees. These things only lead to meaningless speculations, which don’t help people live a life of faith in God.
5 The purpose of my instruction is that all believers would be filled with love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and genuine faith. 6 But some people have missed this whole point. They have turned away from these things and spend their time in meaningless discussions.1 Timothy 1:3-6 NLT
Twice he uses the word “meaningless”. Why? Because these people probably were arguing about trivial things. Things that either way, wouldn’t make a difference in the salvation of a person. I’ve been studying Christian church history and it’s very clear to me that many of the schisms that happened — and they start way back in the early, early church — were over things that Paul would have found “meaningless”. Let’s go on.
15 This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I am the worst of them all. 16 But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life. 17 All honor and glory to God forever and ever! He is the eternal King, the unseen one who never dies; he alone is God. Amen.
18 Timothy, my son, here are my instructions for you, based on the prophetic words spoken about you earlier. May they help you fight well in the Lord’s battles. 19 Cling to your faith in Christ, and keep your conscience clear. For some people have deliberately violated their consciences; as a result, their faith has been shipwrecked. 20 Hymenaeus and Alexander are two examples. I threw them out and handed them over to Satan so they might learn not to blaspheme God.1 Timothy 1:15-20 NLT
What could those two have done? But, then, Paul tells Tim, to pray for all people including kings and people in authority.
I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. 2 Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. 3 This is good and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth. 5 For,
There is one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus. 6 He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone.
This is the message God gave to the world at just the right time. 7 And I have been chosen as a preacher and apostle to teach the Gentiles this message about faith and truth. I’m not exaggerating—just telling the truth.
8 In every place of worship, I want men to pray with holy hands lifted up to God, free from anger and controversy.1 Timothy 2:1-8 NLT
What’s Important Here?
- Pray for ALL people — including our leaders! Yes, even those you don’t like or disagree with!
- God wants EVERYONE to be saved!
- There is 1 God and 1 Mediator — Jesus Christ — not Mary, not the “saints” — just Jesus!
- He GAVE His life to purchase our freedom. We didn’t and can’t ever earn it!
- It’s the TRUTH!
- We should worship free from anger and controversy!
Warnings against False Teachers
Now the Holy Spirit tells us clearly that in the last times some will turn away from the true faith; they will follow deceptive spirits and teachings that come from demons. 2 These people are hypocrites and liars, and their consciences are dead.
3 They will say it is wrong to be married and wrong to eat certain foods. But God created those foods to be eaten with thanks by faithful people who know the truth. 4 Since everything God created is good, we should not reject any of it but receive it with thanks. 5 For we know it is made acceptable by the word of God and prayer.1 Timothy 4:1-5 NLT
What are the “Last Times” or “Last Days”?
Some scholars say that the “Last Days” started when Jesus was born. Some say at the resurrection. I think, as other’s do, that it started at Pentecost — at the birth of the church (Acts 2).
Paul is relying on the Holy Spirit for prophecy. “Some will turn away from the true faith.” That is so true! It’s happening now and it has been happening since the church was born.
“Teaching from demons”. Yes, that’s spiritual warfare. We have to beware of Satan’s mind games, tricks and temptations.
“Everything God created is good.” God created marriage between a man and a women — which includes sex within the marriage. Vows of celibacy are wrong and go against God’s will for humankind. We’ll talk about this in a later post.
Everything Comes to Light — Both Good and Bad…
24 Remember, the sins of some people are obvious, leading them to certain judgment. But there are others whose sins will not be revealed until later. 25 In the same way, the good deeds of some people are obvious. And the good deeds done in secret will someday come to light.1 Timothy 5:24-25 NLT
False Teaching and True Riches
Teach these things, Timothy, and encourage everyone to obey them. 3 Some people may contradict our teaching, but these are the wholesome teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. These teachings promote a godly life. 4 Anyone who teaches something different is arrogant and lacks understanding. Such a person has an unhealthy desire to quibble over the meaning of words. This stirs up arguments ending in jealousy, division, slander, and evil suspicions. 5 These people always cause trouble. Their minds are corrupt, and they have turned their backs on the truth. To them, a show of godliness is just a way to become wealthy.
6 Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. 7 After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it. 8 So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content.
9 But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.1 Timothy 6:1-10 NLT
As I write about church history, you’ll see all this that Paul wrote as a warning to Timothy, came true in the church and is still true now. Especially, “the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.”
Paul Ends his First Letter with a Word of Hope…
11 But you, Timothy, are a man of God; so run from all these evil things. Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have declared so well before many witnesses. 13 And I charge you before God, who gives life to all, and before Christ Jesus, who gave a good testimony before Pontius Pilate, 14 that you obey this command without wavering. Then no one can find fault with you from now until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again. 15 For,
At just the right time Christ will be revealed from heaven by the blessed and only almighty God, the King of all kings and Lord of all lords. 16 He alone can never die, and he lives in light so brilliant that no human can approach him. No human eye has ever seen him, nor ever will. All honor and power to him forever! Amen…1 Timothy 6:11-16
Paul’s Final Letter
8 So never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord. And don’t be ashamed of me, either, even though I’m in prison for him. With the strength God gives you, be ready to suffer with me for the sake of the Good News. 9 For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan from before the beginning of time—to show us his grace through Christ Jesus. 10 And now he has made all of this plain to us by the appearing of Christ Jesus, our Savior. He broke the power of death and illuminated the way to life and immortality through the Good News. 11 And God chose me to be a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of this Good News.
12 That is why I am suffering here in prison. But I am not ashamed of it, for I know the one in whom I trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until the day of his return.2 Timothy 1:8-12
Paul was hoping that Jesus would return in his lifetime. Here we are almost 2000 years later waiting still. But, remember, Jesus told us that no one knows the hour of His return — only God, the Father knows. Jesus is coming back any day now. Are you ready?
An Approved Worker
15 Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth. 16 Avoid worthless, foolish talk that only leads to more godless behavior. 17 This kind of talk spreads like cancer…
19 But God’s truth stands firm like a foundation stone with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and “All who belong to the Lord must turn away from evil.”
20 In a wealthy home some utensils are made of gold and silver, and some are made of wood and clay. The expensive utensils are used for special occasions, and the cheap ones are for everyday use. 21 If you keep yourself pure, you will be a special utensil for honorable use. Your life will be clean, and you will be ready for the Master to use you for every good work.
22 Run from anything that stimulates youthful lusts. Instead, pursue righteous living, faithfulness, love, and peace. Enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts.
23 Again I say, don’t get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights. 24 A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people. 25 Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth. 26 Then they will come to their senses and escape from the devil’s trap. For they have been held captive by him to do whatever he wants.2 Timothy 2:15-26 NLT
The Dangers of the Last Days
Every time I watch the news or even get on Twitter, I’m reminded of this passage. Paul here was prophesying, not just to warn Timothy, but to warn us now. Listen carefully…
You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. 2 For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. 3 They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. 4 They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. 5 They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!
14 But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you. 15 You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 17 God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.2 Timothy 3:14-17 NLT
There’s more and I encourage you to read and study them for yourself.
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Soli Deo Gloria — To God Alone Be the Glory!