2 Peter 1:3, Various

Because He Lives

Knowledge is an important subject to Peter. He talks about God’s omniscience in his first epistle and opens his second letter praying that grace and peace would be multiplied to his readers in the knowledge of God and Jesus. He ends that letter with the same thought. Now in 2 Peter 1:3, he continues with the idea of knowledge. He writes, “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence.”

He has granted us all things that pertain to life and godliness. One might agree that Christ is sufficient with regard to securing my eternal life, but it sounds like Peter is talking about our life in the here and now. I like the way Colin Smith puts it in his sermon, “You will find in Jesus Christ not just everything you need for faith, but everything that you will face in life! Think about what that means for getting through life in middle school or high school–your first experience of discovering that the world is unfair. Peter says Jesus Christ is everything you need to deal with this. Your first experience of rejection of finding yourself outside the group, Christ, is everything you need for that. You will experience struggles with your own moods. Jesus is everything you need. God’s divine power has given you everything you need for life in middle school and high school through your knowledge of Jesus Christ. Everything you need for life in old age. Everything you need for married life. Everything you need for single life. Everything you need for your mid-life crisis. Where you discover that what you have done is less than you thought. You look at how long you have to go and it’s less than you thought too. We are talking about life in all of its fullness here, and Peter is saying to us that Jesus Christ is sufficient, not only for faith, but for all of life. If you can see that He is sufficient, not just for a corner of your life, but for the whole of it, this will change how you follow Jesus Christ.”[1]

The things of life and godliness come to us through the knowledge of Jesus Christ. The Bible speaks of this knowledge frequently in the New Testament. It seems to be particularly pointed at satisfying the warning of the Prophet Hosea, who speaks to his own people, Israel, and says, in 4:6, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge.” It’s not only Peter who harps on the need for the knowledge of Jesus. Paul does also. In Philippians 3:7-8, he talks about the value of the knowledge of Jesus in comparison to the things of the world. He says, “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus, my Lord.” Then in His letter to the Ephesians (Ephesians 1:17-23), he prays that all of his readers will experience the “knowledge” of Jesus. He writes, “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.” Knowing Jesus, and having faith in Him, secures our eternal destiny and gives us something worthwhile to live for now. As the songwriter says, “Because He lives, I can face tomorrow.”

[1] https://openthebible.org/sermon/everything-you-need-life/

1 Peter 1:3

Blessed are the Homesick

This is my favorite Easter verse. I’ve preached many Easter sermons based on this one verse. You will agree! It’s the perfect verse to capture the true meaning of Easter for each of us. 1 Peter 1:3 says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” The resurrection of the dead gives us all a “living hope” for the cure of living in an alien world. We know we aren’t where we are supposed to be. It’s in the blood of a born-again believer, the “elect” of God. Peter writes his first epistle to those scattered abroad who know they are aliens in the world. Helm explains, “For everyone unfamiliar with Old Testament history, the ‘elect exiles of the dispersion’ were by nature a scattered and conflicted people. As God’s elect, they wrestled with what it meant to be the object of his affections, yet seemingly abandoned to out-of-the-way places. As exiles, they struggled with questions of cultural engagement—of what it meant to conduct themselves as God’s people living under an ungodly rule.”[1] Peter is addressing the alienation of the believer in the world in which he has to live. This is the worst kind of homesickness!

I remember my first year in the Navy aboard the USS WRIGHT, homeported in Norfolk, Virginia. It was far from my home in Omaha, Nebraska. But the Navy first sent me to Treasure Island near San Francisco, California. I was there for a month before getting ultimate duty orders to the ship in Norfolk. I went from one coast to the other. Flying over Nebraska on my way from California to Virginia, I had this overwhelming sense that I might not ever see my home again. The Navy doesn’t treat its recruits well. It’s all “shut up and sit down,” “swab the deck,” or “scrape the paint.” In my case, it was washing the dishes aboard the ship of 2000 men three times a day! I was assigned to the scullery on the Wright. I hadn’t been there a month, and I knew my life was over. I’d never see home again, and there wasn’t anything I wanted more! The parental discipline I received at home was kind and loving, even when it was stern, but not so in the Navy. I just wanted to go home. But that was out of the question, and I had lost all hope of rescue from my plight and just plodded on day after day, washing dishes and getting up early, and going to bed early. The only thing to look forward to was the scullery and the many long hours of washing dishes. I had no hope of anything better for three months. Then a man from the personnel office came down and asked if anyone could type. I couldn’t raise my hand fast enough! I was the only boy in my junior year typing class at Holy Name High School. He interviewed me and promised to consider my reassignment to the personnel office of the ship. All of a sudden, there was hope. The scullery wasn’t so bad anymore. I lived the next week with a “living hope.”  I did my work with a whole new attitude.

Hope does a marvelous thing.  We have been born again to a “Living” hope. The ship’s office, however, didn’t satisfy my craving for home. I was glad for the change of environment, but I still missed the familiar streets, the creaks in the stairs going up to my bedroom, the familiar street signs, the big oak tree in my front yard, and, of course, the people that I loved and that loved me. Tozer told about American soldiers in World War I. He said, “they say that American soldiers are the most homesick boys of all the soldiers known any place. All other soldiers manage somehow to toughen up and take it, but they say Americans are just homesick to the point where they do not care. I was in the First World War, that is, I was in the service, but I never got into combat. After it was over and we knew we were going home but did not know when, one of the fellows working there with me used to sing ‘Home, Sweet Home.’ I thought it was a joke, but it was not—the fellow was so homesick he did not care if they laughed at him. He sang ‘Home, Sweet Home’ off key until he was released.”[2] Arno C. Gaebelein referred to his longing for Jesus’ second coming as “the homesickness of the new life.” Someone else put it this way, “Blessed are the homesick, for they shall be called home.”

[1] Helm, David R. 2008. 1 & 2 Peter and Jude: Sharing Christ’s Sufferings. Preaching the Word. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

[2] Tozer, A. W., and Lyle W. Dorsett. 1998. Tozer Speaks to Students : Chapel Messages Preached at Wheaton College. Camp Hill, PA.: WingSpread.

James 1:3-4

Better or Bitter?

James is talking to his readers about the inevitability of trials and temptations coming into the lives of believers. We are not to think that it is unusual that we have hardships. They are part of living in a sinful world. Even the righteous Job had many trials. But, James argues, if we learn to respond to them positively, we will find that they will bring with them significant benefits. This verse helps us understand to some extent, how the presence of pain in our lives could be a cause for joy. How can James encourage us to count our hardships as “all joy?” Verses 3 and 4 give us part of the answer. James says, “For you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

I remember my dentist asking me if I want some novocaine before he prepared a tooth for a filling. My thought was, “of course, you idiot, do you think I like pain?”  Thankfully, I just said, “yes, yes, I would.” I don’t know anyone that likes pain. My Dad used to say that some things in life are like beating your head against the curb. It feels so good when you stop. This might be the motive behind the “cutting” phenomenon that happens in certain cases. Sometimes people feel that they need some radical sensual stimulation to shock them out of their present state of mind. That’s kind of like voluntary “shock therapy.” But that, too, is not the usual state of mind. Masochists get a perverted sense of sexual gratification (or emotional high) with pain, but that’s not normal either. No, most normal people don’t like pain. Yes, give me the Novocain. Yes, I believe most of us will go out of our way to avoid pain. That’s normal, yet none of us can live a life free from it.  Life is often full of physical as well as emotional pain, and maturity is facing up to that reality. Holloway says, “Worldly wisdom can see no value in suffering. It says pain is to be avoided at all costs, and only pleasure brings happiness. By contrast, to Christians, even trials are a joy because they lead us to maturity in Christ. Christians judge value quite differently than the world does. To us, the highest value is not freedom from pain but a faith that perseveres. The suffering that life brings, although bad in itself, can be turned by God into pure joy.”[1]

The idea James wants us to understand is that trials and hardships in life give us a complete experience in life. The English translations that use “perfect” for the Greek word “teleios” is unfortunate. He doesn’t want us to think that hardships will make us “perfect” in any way, but rather, well-rounded individuals who can live life amidst the ups and downs and not lose faith in a good God who loves us and always has our best interest foremost in mind. However, maturity is not a passive thing. That’s why James exhorts us to “let steadfastness produce its full effect.”

Osborne says, “God sends the refining process; his people must put that to work in their lives. The literal wording is, ‘let endurance continue to have its perfect work.’ There are two ideas here—the believer’s responsibility to yield to God in the midst of the trials and the effects of these difficulties that are at work in the Christian. In this context, it means to allow the process of learning perseverance to come to ‘completion,’ to let it come to full fruition in one’s life.”[2] There is no Novocain for most pain in our lives. We will have to experience all that comes in our life without recourse to diminishing it. We can’t drink it away or drug it away; we simply must experience it. But James wants us the let the painful experiences in our lives make us better people, not bitter people. That happens when we trust God to work out all things in our lives for our good, even bad things.

[1] Holloway, Gary. 1996. James & Jude. The College Press NIV Commentary. Joplin, MO: College Press Pub.

[2] Osborne, Grant R. 2011. “James.” In Cornerstone Biblical Commentary: James, 1–2 Peter, Jude, Revelation, edited by Philip W. Comfort, 23. Cornerstone Biblical Commentary. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.

Hebrews 1:4, Various

Listen to Jesus, Not Angels!

Hebrews 1:4 ends with a transition from Jesus being far better than the Prophets to Jesus being far better than the angels. It says that Jesus sat down next to the Father in heaven after having made atonement for our sins and “having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.” Names and titles were nearly the same things on the day the author penned this idea. The writers of the United Bible Societies handbook for translators acknowledge this when they comment, “In this type of context greater must be understood in the sense of ‘more important,’ or ‘of higher rank,’ or ‘of greater authority.’” They go on to elaborate: “In a number of languages one must distinguish clearly between a personal name which identifies an individual, and a title indicating rank. In this context, the emphasis is upon the title which was given to Jesus.”[1]

The first part of this Epistle explains that God used to speak through the Prophets but today, He speaks to us through His Son. Jesus’ message to us is superior to the message of the Prophets that foretold Him and His life. Jesus’ message is so important because that’s what Moses and the prophets spoke about, and Jesus is the fulfillment. So Jesus is more important or greater than the Prophets. Many Jews believed that the OT, especially the Law of Moses, was delivered to Moses through angels. So when the writer of Hebrews turns his attention to Jesus’ superiority to the angels, he does so to give even further credence to Jesus and his teachings. This was important because, in the early Church, people were drawn to angel worship at times. Paul warns against that in Colossians 2:18; he writes, “Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels.” Then again, we read in Galatians 1:8, “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.”

What the author of Hebrews is doing in this Epistle is saying pretty much what God said to those at Jesus’ transfiguration as recorded in mark 9:7, “And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, ‘This is my beloved Son; listen to him.’” I’m arguing that God doesn’t speak to us through prophets anymore! Notice that at the transfiguration, both Moses and Elijah appeared with Jesus. When Peter wanted to honor all three by building tents for them, God spoke and singled out Jesus as his beloved son that should be listened to. Anyone claiming the gift of prophecy today is on shaky ground biblically. God doesn’t speak to us through angels today, which would have been a good thing to acknowledge when Joseph Smith met the angel Moroni. Jesus is the message of the whole Bible from beginning to end. True preaching is about Jesus, who he is, what he’s done and what he says. Pay attention to him; listen to him!

[1] Paul Ellingworth and Eugene Albert Nida, A Handbook on the Letter to the Hebrews, UBS Handbook Series (New York: United Bible Societies, 1994), 13.

Philemon 1:4-5

New Relationships

Most of Paul’s letters include a prayer that he prays for his readers. In this short letter to Philemon, Paul begins his prayer by thanking God for some specific things demonstrated by Philemon. His love and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and his love for his fellow saints. Philemon 1:4-5 says, “I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers because I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints.” Paul had heard about Philemon from others, but most commentators agree that Paul knew him personally from his time in Colossae. It’s possible that Paul had led Philemon to the Lord himself as well.  That Paul is using the present tense for “hearing” implies that this is the continual testimony about Philemon. It’s not just what Paul had heard in the past, but it’s the ongoing character reference for Philemon. When Paul remembers Philemon in his prayers, what comes to his mind is how Philemon loved God and his fellow believers. This was Paul’s reason for giving thanks. Although there seems to be a little disagreement among the commentators, most think that Paul is thanking God for Philemon’s faith in Jesus and Philemon’s love for the saints.

Melick explains, “The statement has two possible interpretations. First, love and faith could be directed to both the Lord and the saints; however, this requires an awkward understanding of ‘faith.’ How could faith be directed toward the saints?” He quotes from Colossians 1:4, where Paul makes clear what he means. Paul says to the Colossians, “We heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints” Melick concludes, “The faith could be toward the Lord and the love toward all the saints. This must be correct.”[1] When one comes to faith in Jesus, there is a sense of love for others who have done the same thing. Jesus is, of course, the most profound demonstration of God’s love for mankind. Thus, when one recognizes and receives God’s love, the natural reaction is to love what God loves as well as those who have also received God’s love. John, in his first letter to the church, suggests this as a test of our fellowship with God. In 1 John 3:14, he writes, “We know that we have passed out of death into life because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death.”

Coming to faith in Christ definitely changes the company one keeps as well as the activities one participates in with that company.  I was 32 years old when I became a believer, and at that time, I was a Navy Chief Petty Officer recruiting for the officer programs in Detroit, Michigan. My association with my fellow Navy Chiefs and fellow recruiters consisted of stopping at the bar for a drink on my way home from work, sharing sea stories of our past duty assignments overseas, and talking about all kinds of unsavory activities. When I became a Christian, I was befriended by the believers from a small church. With them, we shared singing together, helping each other whenever needed, getting together to study the bible, talking about edifying and uplifting things, as well as our burdens in life. I grew very close to these fellow believers in a way that would never have happened with my various other connections. I did not “love” my fellow shipmates in the Navy like I “loved” the brothers and sisters in Christ from the church. There was a radical difference. My faith in Christ helped me relate to these fellow believers in a whole new and satisfying way. I don’t want to compare myself to Philemon, but I was “born again” to a new life. I know that I changed for the better in all areas of my life. I like to think I became more like Philemon. I’d like to be thought of the way Black thinks of Philemon. He wrote, “We do not know what Philemon did to express his faith or to show his love for all the saints (v. 5), but from these few details, we picture a warm, openhearted individual who was a great asset to the church at Colossae.”[2]

[1] Melick, Richard R. 1991. Philippians, Colossians, Philemon. Vol. 32. The New American Commentary. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[2] Black, Robert, and Ronald McClung. 2004. 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon: A Commentary for Bible Students. Indianapolis, IN: Wesleyan Publishing House.

Titus 1:1-3, Various

In Him Is Life!

As he begins his letter of Titus, Paul identifies himself as a “servant” of Jesus Christ. As a “servant,” he’s been given a task. The first three verses of this epistle say, “Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began and at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior.” We see that God, according to Paul, promised “eternal life” before the ages began. The promise has materialized in the person of Jesus Christ, and that’s the message entrusted to Paul and commanded to share with the whole world.

The promise of eternal life was made before the world began. It was always part of God’s plan. It was not plan “B.” God created Adam and Eve to live eternally. Death came only because of sin. God explained this situation from the beginning. You won’t die if you don’t eat from the tree. If you do, that is when death will become part of the human experience. But because of God’s grace and mercy, He promised us resurrection to eternal life after death in this world. Job understood God’s promise well. In Job 19:25-27 we read, “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last, he will stand upon the earth.  And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh, I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another.” It’s also clear from the book of Isaiah as well. Isaiah 26:19 says, “But your dead will live; their bodies will rise. You who dwell in the dust wake up and shout for joy. Your dew is like the dew of the morning; the earth will give birth to her dead.” This is seen in other early Jewish literature as well. In The Psalms of Solomon 3:16 we read, “But those who fear the Lord will arise into eternal life, and their life will never cease in the light of the Lord.”

There are two references to time in verse 3. The first has to do with “time past.” The other has to do with the “right time.” The first word is “Chronos.” It refers to ongoing time. The New International Version translates the phrase “before the beginning of time.” The promise of eternal life existed with God before the creation of the world. Paul says the same thing to Timothy in his second letter to him. 2 Timothy 1:9 says that God, “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.” The second reference to time uses the word “Kairos.” It refers specifically to a particular moment. The birth of Christ was at just the right time. In Galatians 4:4, Paul says, “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman.” It was Christ who came to fulfill the promise of eternal life for all who would believe in him.

According to Black and McClung, “Paul makes three similar assurances about our hope of eternal life. First, God promised [it] before the beginning of time. What we now experience in Christ was in the mind of God before the creation of the world. Second, Paul assures his reader that we can rely upon God’s character, for He does not lie. In Greek mythology, the gods often deceived humans, and the Cretans themselves were known as dishonest. Not so with the eternal God. His character is without blemish; He always tells the truth. If God promises our ultimate salvation, and He does, we may be sure that it will be accomplished. Third, Paul affirms that God has finally revealed our hope. At his appointed season, he brought his word to light. Designed in eternity, this great hope was manifested in time.” [1] The manifestation is the person of Jesus Christ. In Him is life, and that life is the light of the world.

[1] Black, Robert, and Ronald McClung. 2004. 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon: A Commentary for Bible Students. Indianapolis, IN: Wesleyan Publishing House.

2 Timothy 1:3

Setting an Example

Paul’s greeting to Timothy in his second letter includes the notice that Paul spends much time in prayer for Timothy. It’s usually understood that Paul is in prison in Rome or at least under house arrest, and that should give him plenty of time to devote to prayer. He assures Timothy that much of the time is spent praying for him. His prayer, like most of his other prayers, begins with thanking God. He asserts that the God that he thanks is the same God that his ancestors served. In 2 Timothy 1:3, he explains, “I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day.”

Paul is connecting with the God of the Old Testament. Timothy’s mother and grandmother were both Jewish believers. They had come to faith in Jesus as the Messiah. Christ’s coming was not a contradiction of the Old Testament, as many of the Jews argued, but to the Christians, it was the fulfillment of the Old Testament. Christ was the Messiah promised from the beginning to the end of the Old Testament. Paul does not see Christianity as being in opposition to Judaism but as the fulfillment of it. This was important because of Timothy’s position in Ephesus, where there was constant opposition against the Christians by both the pagans as well as the Jewish believers. The assertion that Paul has a clear conscience might relate to how he gives thanks in his prayers. He’s in prison for being a Christian, not for any crime he committed. The pagans accused early Christians of being atheists because they would not offer sacrifices to any of the pagan gods. They put Christians in prison for this reason, and it was a mark of shame to them in the pagan community. Paul’s assertion of a clear conscience makes it clear that the accusations from the pagans didn’t bother him at all. The Jewish leaders all around the Mediterranean basin accused Paul and Christians of idol worship because they made Jesus out to be God. Paul’s clear conscience was based on his total conviction that Jesus was God, and he sought to prove it in all his preaching. So, Paul can claim a clear conscience in the face of the accusations from both the pagans and the Jews. He has no need to be ashamed of his imprisonment. As a matter of fact, he “boasts” about the sufferings he endures for Christ’s namesake. He is dealing with Timothy as his son and wants to set the example of how a believer should deal with opposition.

In 1998, “At the bottom of San Juan Hill, Lt. Colonel Teddy Roosevelt prepared to lead the charge against 750 Spanish soldiers ordered to hold the heights. Just weeks before, he had resigned his commission as Assistant Secretary of the Navy to join the cavalry, saying, “I want to explain to my children someday why I did take part in the war, not why I didn’t.” So that July morning, Teddy strapped on his boots and led his Rough Riders regiment up the hill under fierce Spanish gunfire and on to victory. For his courage, he was eventually awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. June 6, 1944. Normandy, France. World War II. Sitting in the troop transport ships, Brigadier General Teddy Roosevelt, Jr. prepared to lead the attack on the most heavily fortified coast in history. Surely, he was thinking of his father. He instilled in those boys a passion for life, a sense of duty, and a willingness to lead. That’s why Teddy Roosevelt Jr. was now preparing to lead the D-Day invasion. At first, his superiors had denied his request to go: ‘You’re 57 years old. No other general is going ashore with the first wave of troops.’ But he insisted, ‘It will steady the men to know I’m with them.’ After his third request, they finally agreed. So that June morning, Teddy Jr. strapped on his boots and led the charge up the beach under fierce German gunfire and on to victory. For his courage, he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor … just like his father.”[1]

[1] Proctor, Matt. 2009. 2 Timothy: Finish-Line Faith. 3:16 Bible Commentary Series. Joplin, MO: CP Publishing.

1 Timothy 1:3-4, Titus 1:10-14

Sticking with the message

After Paul greets Timothy, he begins right away by giving some instructions regarding his ministry at Ephesus. Paul was well aware of the tendencies of the Ephesians to get sidetracked from the gospel and to wander into meaningless teaching. It sounds like this is one of Paul’s major concerns, so he addresses it immediately. In 1 Timothy 1:3-4, he says, “As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith.”

 There are lots of speculations regarding the nature of the “false doctrine” that certain people were teaching. “There was an accepted standard of apostolic teaching Paul wanted Timothy to follow.”[1] That standard was the proclamation of the Gospel. Paul did not want Timothy to get sidetracked into focusing on “myths” and “endless genealogies.” The reference to myths and genealogies is a reference to Jewish teaching. They insisted on proclaiming the law as the basis of salvation, not faith in the Messiah. Paul addresses this problem more specifically with Titus. In the first Chapter of Titus’ letter (1:10-14), Paul describes the false teachers as being “those of the circumcision party.” Paul tells Titus to “rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, not devoting themselves to Jewish myths and the commands of people who turn away from the truth.” Paul is not necessarily using the word “myth” to speak of fairy tales or legends that aren’t true. A myth might be a true story from the past that has inherited a certain unquestioning authority that had application to contemporary listeners. The speculations, or applications, of the story of David, could be an example. The Jews taught about King David as a story that had application to the hearer to strive to become giant slavers in their own lives instead of recognizing David as the failed messianic king who was to pave the way for his ultimate heir who would conquer the real foe in all of our lives. This approach had achieved an unquestioning authority. It has that in many pulpits today as well. One writer points out the difference between the myth and the word. He says, “…the unquestioned validity of mythos can be contrasted with logos, the word whose validity or truth can be argued and demonstrated.”[2] John uses the idea of “logos” rather than “mythos” to tell the truth about Jesus. He did not want Christianity to be seen as another Jewish myth.

The phrase that the English Standard Version uses, “stewardship from God,” might be understood as Collins describes it. He says, “It may, however, be preferable to take the phrase in the sense of God’s management plan, the plan of salvation.”[3] The Old Testament is indeed God’s communication to all mankind, but it has a focus. The focus is that there will be a savior coming to redeem the world and restore our relationship with God. He is the one who conquers the enemy for us. We are more like the Israelite army standing on the hill overlooking the battle of David and Goliath. Someone else fought the battle for us. Someone else gave us the victory. By faith, we get the victor’s spoils, eternal life. We are not our own saviors. Understanding the stories of the Old Testament as moral lessons as to how we are supposed to be our own savior or as simple moralistic behavior messages misses the entire point of God’s plan of redemption. Paul wanted to be sure that the believers in Ephesus did not fall prey to the message of salvation by works. God’s plan, as progressively revealed in the whole Bible, is that Jesus Christ, our savior, won the battle for us, and through faith in Him and Him alone can one receive the gift of eternal life. Stick with that message.

[1] Lea, Thomas D., and Hayne P. Griffin. 1992. 1, 2 Timothy, Titus. Vol. 34. The New American Commentary. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[2] https://www.britannica.com/topic/myth

[3] Collins, Raymond F. 2012. 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus: A Commentary. Edited by C. Clifton Black, M. Eugene Boring, and John T. Carroll. The New Testament Library. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press.

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