An Interpretation of the English Bible

 

THE PASTORAL EPISTLES

OF PAUL,

1 and 2 PETER, JUDE, and

1, 2,  and 3 JOHN

 

by B. H. CARROLL

Late President of Southwestern Baptist

Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas

 

Edited by

J. B. Cranfill

 

BAKER BOOK HOUSE

Grand Rapids, Michigan

 

New and complete edition

Copyright 1948, Broadman Press

Reprinted by Baker Book House

with permission of

Broadman Press

ISBN: 0-8010-2344-0

First Printing, September 1973

Second Printing, September 1976

 

PHOTOLITHOPRINTED BY GUSHING - MALLOY, INC.

ANN ARBOR, MICHIGAN, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

 

1976

 

CONTENTS

 

(Return to Main Contents)

 

I                  Introduction to the Pastoral Epistles

 

1 Timothy

II                 Analysis, Pulpit Themes, and Exposition (1:1-17)

III                Paul's Christian Experience (1:18 to 2:7)

IV               The Spheres of Men and Women in the Church;

                   Church Officers and Their Qualifications (2:8 to 3:13)

V                 The Mission of the Church (3:14-16)

VI               The Mystery of Lawlessness. A Good Minister of Jesus Christ (4:1-16)

VII              The Administration of Internal Church Affairs (5:l-25)

VIII             Administration of Internal Church Affairs (Concluded) (6:1-21)

 

Titus

IX               The Introduction, Analysis, and Greeting of the Letter to Titus (1:1-4)

X                 An Exposition of the Book of Titus (1:5 to 3:15)

 

2 Timothy

XI               Introduction to 2 Timothy and Exposition of 2 Timothy 1:1-6

XII              A Faithful Minister of Jesus Christ (1:7 to 2:5)

XIII             Illustrations of a Faithful Minister (2:6-26)

XIV             Characteristics of the Last Day (3:1-17)

XV              Paul’s Final Word (4:l-22)

 

The Life of Peter

XVI             The Life of Peter

XVII           The Life of Peter (Continued)

 

1 Peter

XVIII          Introduction to 1 Peter (1:1-6)

XIX             Undeserved Christian Suffering (1:7-25)

XX              What to Put Away (2:1-4:6)

XXI             Sane Thinking on the Second Advent and Other Things (4:7 to 5:14)

 

2 Peter

XXII           The Book of 2 Peter: An Introduction, Outline, and Exposition (1:1-15)

XXIII          Import of the Transfiguration of Jesus and False Teachers (1:16-2:21)

XXIV          The Second Advent and the Judgment (3:1-18)

 

Jude

XXV           Introduction to Jude

XXVI          And Exposition of the Book of Jude (1-25)

 

1 John

XXVII         First Letter of John: An Introduction, Analysis, Exposition (1:1 to 5:21)

XXVIII       First Letter of John: Exposition (Continued)

XXIX          First Letter of John: Exposition (Concluded)

 

2 & 3 John

XXX           Introduction and Exposition of the Second and Third Letters of John

                                               

 

                                   

THE PASTORAL EPISTLES

 

I

 

(Return to Contents)

 

INTRODUCTION TO THE PASTORAL EPISTLES

 


The last group of Paul's letters consists of 1 Timothy, Titus, and 2 Timothy, commonly called the "Pastoral Epistles," not because addressed to pastors, but because they relate to the flock. Though addressed to individuals, the letters are ecclesiastical. So far as New Testament records show, neither Timothy nor Titus was ever a pastor in the ordinary sense, but evangelists acting temporarily here and there as special apostolic delegates, according to the passing emergency. In this case, Titus was left in the Island of Crete and Timothy at Ephesus. The Anglican Church misinterprets the New Testament in deriving their modern bishopric cases from the cases of Timothy and Titus. Neither these nor any other apostolic delegates, and there were many, ever had a settled diocese. They might be counted the apostolic staff, sent here or there, in any part of the world, for a few days only or for a longer time, according to the necessity. Their fields of labor were shifted at the apostolic will, and wherever sent in the name of the apostle, they carried his apostolic authority. Even in the brief period covered by these letters, both of them are directed again to far distant fields.


It is absurd to call them bishops, in either the New Testament or modern sense. In the New Testament the bishop was the pastor of a single church. In our day a bishop of a hierarchial or prelatical denomination has a settled diocese – metropolis, county, province, or state. As Timothy and Titus (with others named in these letters: for example, Luke, Trophimus, Artemus, Tychicus, Zenas, Apollos, Erastus, Demas, Crescens, and Mark) were evangelists, we need at the threshold of this discussion to consider that office somewhat. For a more elaborate discussion, the reader is referred to the author's address on "The Office of Evangelist," delivered before the Southern Baptist Convention in May, 1907, and published by its Home Mission Board.


Our Lord himself originated the office when he appointed the seventy to go before his face, delegating to them his own power, and distinguished it from the office of pastor or bishop. The pastor had charge of a single flock; the evangelist was a kingdom officer, though like all others, set in the church, that every preacher of whatever kind might be subject to some definite jurisdiction.


We have already seen, in our study of Ephesians, that our Lord gave apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. Apostles and prophets were necessarily inspired; pastors and evangelists might be only illumined. Inspiration qualified to speak or write for God. Illumination qualified to interpret the inspired teaching. Apostles and prophets spoke or wrote authoritatively for God; evangelists and pastors expounded and executed what apostles and prophets taught.


Authenticity. The next question concerning these letters is their authenticity. Are they veritable letters of the apostle Paul? The consensus of Christendom is that they are. There are a few infidels and some semi-infidels holding office as teachers or preachers in some state denominations, who argue that they were written in the second century and attributed to Paul in order to give them currency. There is not a particle of real evidence for any such assertion. Such contention results from radical higher criticism run mad.


If we go back to the earliest lists of Paul's books of which we have any account at all, 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus are in them. When we go back to the earliest New Testament Manuscripts, Timothy and Titus are in them. When we go back to the earliest versions, as the Peshito Version, we find these letters attributed to Paul. The external evidence that they are Paul's is overwhelming. It is really not worth while to take up any more time discussing the authenticity of these letters.


Date. The question of the date of these letters necessarily raises a prior question, namely, was there a second Roman imprisonment? If the imprisonment of Acts 28 resulted in his death, then we must put these letters, in order to make them Pauline letters, at a much earlier date than if we assume that he escaped from that imprisonment. The fact that Paul did escape from that imprisonment rests upon two kinds of evidence.


The unbroken testimony of early history and the apostle's own testimony in these letters are alike convincing. We need not here enter into the church history problem as to whether Paul ever fulfilled the purpose expressed in the letter to the Romans to visit Spain, nor the more improbable conjecture that he visited Britain, but it is evident from Philippians, Philemon, Colossians, and Hebrews, that he confidently expected a speedy release from the Roman imprisonment recorded in Acts. And it is certain that the events recorded in 1 and 2 Timothy and in Titus never occurred in the period covered by the book of Acts. So that we may count it a settled result of. fair biblical criticism that Paul was acquitted on the charges which first held him bound at Rome, and whether or not he ever visited Spain or Britain, we may be sure, on biblical evidence, that after his release he did make an extended tour over his old fields of labor in proconsular Asia, Macedonia, and Achaia.


His companions on this tour – some of them perhaps all of the time, all of them some of the time – were Luke, Titus, Timothy, Tychicus, Erastus, Demas, and perhaps others. While the order of his travels may not be dogmatically affirmed, the following may be accepted as approximately correct:


1. He stopped at the Island of Crete, leaving Titus as his delegate, to set in order certain irregularities and heresies there (Titus 1:5), and later ordered him to rejoin him at Nicopolis, where Paul expected to winter (Titus 3:12), and still later to Dalmatia (2 Tim. 4:10).


2. Then he went to Ephesus, where he found Timothy, who had been sent from Italy with the letter to the Hebrews, and where he exercised his apostolic authority on two heretics (1 Tim. 1:20), and there left Timothy as apostolic delegate (1 Tim. 1:3).


3. Thence to Macedonia (1 Tim. 1:3), where probably he wrote 1 Timothy and Titus, and sends Artemas or Tychicus to Crete with the letter to Titus directing him to join Paul at Nicopolis for the winter (Titus 3:12).


4. He returns to Ephesus (1 Tim. 3:14), where he has a stormy time (2 Tim. 1:15, 18:4:14). He found heresy rampant and all the tide against him, caused largely, perhaps, so far as the Jewish and Gnostic elements are concerned, by his recent letter to the Hebrews. From the storm against him he was sheltered in the house of Onesiphorus (2 Tim. 1:16). Perhaps his very life was imperiled, and so he hurried to Miletus.


5. At Miletus he left Trophimus sick (2 Tim. 4:6).


6. Thence to Troas, where, perhaps in the hurry of flight, he leaves with Carpus his cloak and books (2 Tim. 4:13).


7. Thence to Corinth, where he left Erastus (2 Tim. 4:20).


8. Thence to Nicopolis, where he intended to winter (Titus 3:12). Here, or somewhere in that section, the Neronian persecution reaches him. Nero had set fire to Rome, causing the most awful conflagration known in the annals of time. It caused such indignation that it was necessary for him to put the blame on somebody else, so he accused the Christians of setting fire to Rome. That brought about the bloodiest persecution of Christians known to history, if, perhaps, we except the persecution of Phillip II of Holland. In some of its horrors it has never been equaled.


Most diligent search was made for anybody that would take the name of Christ. From Rome the persecution spread, and about this time it struck Paul over there in Achaia or in Nicopolis. When Paul was arrested, Demas, one of his lieutenants, got snared and left. him. as he writes to Timothy: "Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and hath gone to Thessalonica." Paul had sent Titus to Dalmatia and Crescens to Galatia; Trophimus had been left sick at Miletus, so Luke is his only companion. They are arrested and carried to Rome.


When he is brought before Roman judges, he says that nobody stood by him. It was very different when he was there the first time; two great church delegations came out and met him before he reached the city. But now, with the Christians under the ban, when to acknowledge the name of Christ meant the most awful death, matters were different. Afterward he says that only Luke stood with him at the examining trial. This is not the final trial, but the trial for commitment. He was committed and taken to prison to await the final trial, and he never escaped. Under such conditions, winter coming on, having left Troas in a hurry without his cloak and books, he is imprisoned. He has nothing to read. He sends Tychicus to Ephesus to take Timothy's place and urges Timothy to join him at Rome; to come by Troas and get his cloak and books. The Romans made few provisions for the comfort of prisoners under serious charges. They were shut up in a bare cell. Paul wants his manuscripts, and he tells Timothy to bring Mark back with him, that he needs him. Whether or not they reached him before his martyrdom we do not know.


Before we take up the letters to Timothy, I will give a connected biblical history of Timothy, as follows:


1. His early training. 2 Timothy 3:15: "And that from a babe thou hast known the sacred writings which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Jesus Christ." As his mother was a Jewess, he was from infancy instructed in the Old Testament Scriptures.


2. His conversion to Christianity. He was converted under Paul's preaching. In 1 Timothy 1:2 Paul says, "Unto Timothy my true child in the faith"; again in 2 Timothy 1:2 he calls him his "beloved child." His conversion followed that of his grandmother, Lois, and his mother, Eunice (2 Tim. 1:5). This conversion occurred on Paul's first missionary tour (Acts 14: 6-7). The relating of Timothy's Christian experience before the church made a profound impression, as Paul referring to it says, "Thou didst confess the good confession in the sight of many witnesses" (1 Tim. 6:12).


3. His ordination to the office of evangelist, to be Paul's companion as Barnabas had been. The scriptures bearing on this are Acts 16:1-3; 1 Timothy 1:18; 4:14; 2 Timothy 1:6; 4:5. From which it appears that as the Spirit signified to prophets that Paul and Barnabas be set apart to the foreign mission work (Acts 13:1-2), so now the same Spirit, through some prophet, Paul himself or Silas, directed the ordination of Timothy to the same work. And as all the neighboring churches highly recommended Timothy for the work, he was solemnly and impressively ordained by the laying on of hands of the presbytery, one of whom was Paul himself. And that through Paul's laying on of hands there came the same remarkable gifts noted in Acts 8:17; 19:5.


4. His labors with Paul. In general terms 2 Timothy 3:1011. More particularly Timothy was with Paul in all the history set forth in Acts 16:1 to 17:14 at Philippi and Thessalonica and Berea. Here Timothy was left (Acts 17:14), but rejoined Paul at Athens, and from that point was sent back to Thessalonica (Actsl7:15-16andlThess.3:2). He rejoined Paul at Corinth, bringing the news that occasioned the first letter to the Thessalonians (Acts 18:5; 1 Thess. 1:1). So both with Silas were associated in that letter, as well as in the second letter written also from Corinth (2 Thess. 1:1).


The record is silent as to Timothy's accompanying Paul to Syria, Jerusalem, and Antioch (Acts 18:18-22). But we certainly find him with Paul on the third missionary tour at Ephesus, from which place he is sent into Macedonia (Acts 19: 22). and from thence to Corinth (1 Cor. 16:10). Joining Paul in Macedonia, he is associated with him in the second letter to the Corinthians (2 Cor. 1:1).


He certainly accompanied Paul to Greece (Acts 20:2-3), and goes with Paul back to Macedonia. In Paul's last visit to Syria he sent Timothy with others ahead of him to Troas (Acts 20:3-5), and Timothy was left there in Asia. There is no further account of Timothy in Acts. But when Paul, arrested at Jerusalem, imprisoned two years at Caesarea, finally reaches Rome, Timothy joins him there, for he is associated with Paul in the letters from Rome (Phil. I: I; Philem. I; Col. 1:1). His temporary imprisonment, perhaps, accounts for the absence of his name in the address of the letters to the Ephesians, but soon after he is released and bears the letter to the Hebrews (Heb. 13:23) where Paul later finds and leaves him (1 Tim. 1:3). Here again at Ephesus Paul finds him (1 Tim. 3:14), and he is a witness of the stormy time Paul had there (2 Tim. 1:15, 18; 4:14).


After Paul's arrest in Nicopolis of Epirus, or somewhere in Achaia, and his being carried to Rome, and his commitment trial, he writes a second letter to Timothy (2 Tim. 1:1), and urges him to come to Rome speedily, before winter, bringing his cloak and books left at Troas, and also Mark. Paul sent Tychicus to take Timothy's place at Ephesus (2 Tim. 4:9, 11-13, 21). We do not know positively whether Timothy reached Rome before Paul was executed.


That gives a connected biblical history of Timothy, and if one will go over it carefully he will have impressed upon his mind, in regard to Timothy, two things: One is that by the direction of the Holy Spirit, Timothy was elected to be Paul's companion in the place of Barnabas, and associated with him in his letters and labors, and also that he, as an apostolic delegate, was the most faithful and useful of all of Paul's corps of evangelists.


So that the order of the scriptures touching Timothy's life, in summary, is:


1. Early training: 2 Timothy 3:15.


2. Conversion: 1 Timothy 1:2; 2 Timothy 1:2, 5; 6:12.


3. Ordination: Acts 16:1-3; 1 Timothy 1:18; 4:14; 2 Timothy 1:6; 4:5.


4. Labors with Paul: 2 Timothy 3:10-11; Acts 16:1-17; 17:14-16; 1 Thessalonians 3:2; Acts 18:5; 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:1; Acts 19:22; 1 Corinthians 16:10; 2 Corinthians 1:1; Acts 20:2-3 with Romans 16:21; Acts 20:3-5; Philippians 1:1; Philemon 1; Colossians 1:1; Philippians 2:19; Hebrews 13:23; 1 Timothy 1:3; 3:14; 2 Timothy 1:15, 18; 4:14; 4:9, 11-13, 21.


In these letters we bid farewell to Paul. In his first group of letters, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, we have studied eschatology; in his second group, I and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, and Romans, we have seen in 1 Corinthians the disorders of a New Testament church, learned the place and significance of miraculous spiritual gifts, and studied the great argument on the resurrection of the dead. In 2 Corinthians we have heard the vindication of his apostolic claims. In Galatians and Romans we have had the doctrine of justification by faith. In the third group, Philippians, Philemon, Colossians, Ephesians, and Hebrews: we have found in Philemon Christianity's attitude to the then worldwide institution of slavery; in Philippians, Colossians, and Ephesians, we found a great advance in the plan of salvation and in the meaning of the word "church," and have learned the finalities on the nature, person, offices, and relations of our Lord. In Hebrews we have learned the superiorities of the new covenant.


Now in this last group, 1 Timothy, Titus, and 2 Timothy, we find the Christian's vade-mecum on church order and officers, and take our last look at earth's greatest man in his exodus, through martyrdom, from the battlefield of time to the victor's crown of glory in eternity.


As the storm of imperial persecution bursts on him, we hear him, in his weakness, call for Zenas, the lawyer, Luke, the physician, and Timothy, his son in the gospel, his cloak to warm him in his cold cell, his books and parchments to cheer him; then we heard him in his strength, shout his battle cry of triumph for himself and every other saint: "For I am already being offered, and the time of my departure is come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give to me at that day; and not to me only, but also to all them that have loved his appearing."

 

QUESTIONS

 

1. What is the last group of Paul's letters and why called "Pastoral Epistles"?

 

2. How does the Anglican church misinterpret Timothy and Titus?

 

3. What other evangelists mentioned in these letters?

 

4. Where do you find an elaborate discussion of the office of evangelist?

 

5. Give brief account of the office as distinguished from others.

 

6. What can you say of the authenticity of these letters?

 

7. Their probable dates?

 

8. Give briefly the proof that Paul was acquitted and released from the first Roman imprisonment.

 

9. What old fields did he revisit?

 

10. Give probable order of the itinerary of this last tour.

 

11. Who his companions on this tour for the whole or part of the

 

12. What the origin of the Neronian persecution which led to Paul's arrest, second imprisonment and martyrdom?

 

13. What the different conditions this time at Rome?

 

14. Give connected biblical history of Timothy.

 

15. What the value of the Pastoral Epistles and what the contrast of the great topics of this group of Paul's letters with those of preceding ones?

 

 

1 TIMOTHY

 

II

 

(Return to Contents)

 

ANALYSIS, PULPIT THEMES, AND EXPOSITION

1 Timothy 1:1-17

 

 

ANALYSIS

 

Chapter One:


1. The salutation (1:1-2).


2. Timothy reminded that he was left at Ephesus to correct certain errorists (1:3-4).


3. These errorists, assuming to be teachers of the Law while ignorant of its end and application, were so teaching as to subvert both Law and gospel (1:5-11).


4. Paul's own case an illustration of gospel grace and power (1:12-17).


5. Consequent charge to Timothy (1:18-19).


6. The case of Hymenaeus and Alexander, making shipwreck concerning the faith, illustrate the evil of turning away from the gospel (1:19-20).

 

Chapter Two:


7. Directions for public prayer worship, distinguishing between the spheres of men and women.

 

Chapter Three:


8. Directions concerning church officers and their qualifications (3:1-12).


9. Reasons for Paul's writing (3:14-15).


10. The church and its mission concerning the truth (3:15).


11. The elements of truth concerning the mystery of godliness (3:16).

 

Chapter Four:


12. The Spirit's prophecy concerning heretics in later times {4:1-5).


13. What constitutes a good minister of Jesus Christ:


(1) As touching heresy (4:6)


(2) As touching himself, in example (4:6-12)


(3) As touching himself, in consecration, to study, exhortation, and teaching (4:13-16)

 

Chapter Five:


14. How to administer internal church affairs:


(1) In relation to old men, young men, and widows (5: 1-16)


(2) And to preachers (5:17-25)

 

Chapter Six:


15. What to teach on social problems (6:1-10).


16. Solemn charge to Timothy:


(1) Concerning his own life (6:11-16)


(2) Concerning the rich (6:17-19)


(3) Concerning the deposit of faith committed to his trust (6:20-21)


(4) Benediction (6:21)

 

GREAT PULPIT THEMES OF THIS LETTER

 

1:5 – The end of the commandment. 1:5, with 1 Corinthians 13:13 and 2 Peter 1:5-7 – The Christian Pyramids. 1:11 – The gospel of the glory of the happy God. 1:12 – Christ puts men into the ministry and enables them. 1:13 – From blasphemer to preacher. 1:13, 16 – The two poles of salvation:


(1) Who are salvable (1:13)


(2) The salvation of the outside man among the salvable (1:16) 1:15 – Wherein Paul was the chief of sinners l:15; 3:l; 4:9 with Titus 3:8 and 2 Timothy 2:11-13. The five faithful sayings of the Pastoral Epistles. 2:4 – God's desire for the salvation of all men. 2:8-15 – The distinct spheres of men and women in public worship. 3:1 – The pastorate a good work. 3:6, 10, with 5:22 – The proving of preachers and deacons before ordination. 3:6 – The cause of the devil's condemnation. 3:7 – The testimony of outsiders concerning fitness for the ministry. 3:11, with Romans 16:1 – The deaconess of the New Testament church. 3:13 – What a faithful deacon gains. 3:15 – How the church is the pillar and ground of the truth. 3:16 – The mystery of godliness and the elements of its truth. 4:1 – The great apostasy of post-apostolic days:


(1) The cause, seducing spirits, or demons, and the doctrines taught by them (4:1)


(2) Their human agents, lying hypocrites with seared consciences (4:2)


(3) What the demon doctrines (4:3) 4:6 – Who a good minister of Jesus Christ. 4:8 – The promise of godliness in this life and the next. 4:10 – God, the Saviour of all men, especially of them that believe. 4:12-14 – The preacher as an example – his reading, exhortation, teaching, and the gift that is in him. 4:14 – The laying on of the hands of the presbytery. 4:16 – How the preacher saves himself and his hearers. 5:5 – "A widow indeed." 5:6 – She that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth, and "Little Women" (Greek: gunaikaria, 2 Tim. 3:6). 5:8 – He that provideth not for his own hath denied the faith and is worse than an infidel. 5:10 – The "washing of feet" a good work, not a church ordinance ; Christ's washing of the feet of the disciples as a preparation for the Old Testament Passover, and not connected with the New Testament Lord's Supper. 5:21 – The elect angels. 5:24 – Sins that go before and sins that follow after. 6:9 – They that are minded to be rich. 6:11 – The love of money a root of all evil. 6:17-19 – Charge to the rich. 6:20 – The deposit of faith.

 

EXPOSITION (1:1-17)


I have called the Pastoral Epistles the preacher's vade-rnecum, i. e., "traveling companion," because of their incalculable importance. They contain the Bible's best teaching on church polity and order and constitute a richer mine for sermon texts than can be found elsewhere in the same space of biblical literature. The author has preached, in his long pastorate at Waco, more than an equal number of sermons from the thirty-six texts cited above from only one of these letters, and an almost equal proportion from Titus and 2 Timothy.


I cannot now refrain from calling your attention to Paul's new phrase: "Faithful is the saying." Its use five times in these Pastoral Epistles makes it proverbial, let us now look at them:


1. 1:15: "Faithful is the saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners."


2. 3:1: "Faithful is the saying, if a man seeketh the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work." It is sometimes alleged that New Testament churches had no definite organization. But it was already a current proverb concerning this ruling officer of the church.


3. 4:8-9 or 9-10: "Faithful is the saying, and worthy of all acceptation." Here it is somewhat difficult to determine whether verse 8 or 10 expresses the proverb, so we give both. Verse 8: "Godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life which now is and of that which is to come." Verse 10: "The living God who is the Saviour of all men, especially of them that believe." The context favors verse 8.


4. Titus 3:8: "Faithful is the saying . . . that they who have believed God may be careful to maintain good works." Attention is specially called to this, because some seem to desire to stop at believing. Not only was this a current proverb, but Titus is exhorted to affirm it constantly. Paul's doctrine of justification never rested on a barren faith.


5. 2 Timothy 2:11-13. This one is fourfold:


"Faithful is the saying:


(1) If we died with him, we shall also live with him;


(2) If we endure, we shall reign with him;


(3) If we shall deny him, he also will deny us;


(4) If we are faithless, he abideth faithful, for he cannot deny himself."


These sayings may be treated briefly in one sermon, or more particularly in eight sermons. The author has done both. The Greek student will find in the Pastoral Epistles quite an increase of new words in Paul's vocabulary. But special words in each group of letters is characteristic of Paul's adaptation of new terms to new lines of thought.

 

THE SALUTATION


We need to note only these points:


1. God, the Father, is called "Saviour," which is new for Paul, but repeated in Titus 1:3. In both cases he attributes his office to the command of the Father. Mary, in her magnificat, had already used the phrase.


2. Christ is called "our hope." Paul generally puts Christ as the object of faith, but in Colossians he had already said, "Christ in you the hope of glory." In all his later letters he i9 turning to the future, the realm of hope.


3. Timothy is called his "true child in the faith," meaning that Timothy was converted under his ministry, as was Titus also (Titus 1:4). So in Philemon he says the same of Onesimus: "My child begotten in my bonds." I suggest to preachers the preparation of a sermon clearly distinguishing the several thoughts in these expressions:


(1) Christ our righteousness.


(2) Christ our hope.


(3) Christ our wisdom.


(4) Christ our sanctification.


(5) Christ our redemption.


(6) Christ our life.


On this last, Angus wrote his prize volume, Christ Our Life, for translation into heathen languages.


Clearness of thought in the general departments of our Lord's work will greatly confirm our faith, and as special reading in preparing such a sermon, I commend two old-time Puritan books: Owen on Justification and Flavel on The Methods of Grace.


Now let us take up Timothy and the errorists at Ephesus, 1:3-11. Here we come upon a new word which became, and is, world-famous: Greek, hetero-didaskalein. Certain ones are commanded not to teach "heterodoxy." There we have it: Orthodoxy versus Heterodoxy. It is quite popular in certain liberal (meaning loose) circles to sneer at one's insistence on orthodoxy and to denounce him as being a "heresy hunter." Paul had no such spirit, but holding heresy as a deadly evil, hit it hard and hit it to kill as he would any other venomous snake.


It is easy to say: "Orthodoxy is my doxy and heterodoxy is your doxy," but there is no argument in the catch phrase.


Orthodoxy is conformity to New Testament teaching.


Heterodoxy is departure from New Testament teaching.


Paul was ready to write "anathema" in letters of fire on the brow of even an angel from heaven who preached a different gospel from the one delivered by our Lord. It is to teach instead, as these Ephesian heretics did, "the doctrines of demons." And we are partakers of their sins if we fellowship with them, or bid them Godspeed.


What the heterodox teaching here denounced? Assuming to be teachers of the Law, while ignorant of both its scope and application, they so taught as to subvert both Law and gospel. Leaving out the saving dispensation of God in faith, they confined their teaching to myths and endless genealogies which ministered questionings and disputes about matters either insoluble or of no value when solved. Later these fables grew into the Talmud, which may be likened to "a continent of mud," or, on account of the dryness of the matter, to the Sahara Desert minus its oases. It is as unpalatable as sawdust bread. Its diet is as void of nutritive properties as the sick soldier's soup, accord-ing to his own hyperbolic description: "A piece of blue beef held up between the sun and a pot of boiling water, so as to boil its shadow."


The Old Testament genealogies had an intelligent purpose till Christ came, for they located him. After that they were of no value, and when they were arbitrarily spiritualized they became vicious.


In a political race in McLennan County one of the candidates devoted an hour to tracing his honorable descent from illustrious families. The other won the race by a reply in one sentence: "I would rather be a horse without a pedigree than a pedigree without a horse."


So Paul, in one great sentence, disposes of the Law: "Now the end of the commandment is love, out of a pure heart, out of a good conscience, out of faith unfeigned." Mark well the order:


(1) Unfeigned faith in our Lord, leading to


(2) A good conscience, leading to


(3) A pure heart, culminating in


(4) Love.


Not some sentimental gush miscalled love, but love bottomed on faith and emerging from a good conscience, cleansed by the blood of Christ, and from a purified heart. This brings us not to the hollow Egyptian Pyramids, but to the Christian pyramids.


Let us mentally construct them so we can diagram them on paper. Take these passages: 1 Corinthians 13:13; 1 Timothy 1:5; 2 Peter l:5-7, and construct three pyramids, arising in ever-narrowing terraces, always with faith the foundation and love the capstone:


1. Faith – Hope – Love.


2. Faith unfeigned – A good conscience –


A pure heart – Love.


3. Faith – Courage – Knowledge – Self-control – Patience  

Godliness – Brotherly Kindness – Love.


These heterodox teachers never understood this supreme end of the Law. Moses himself had compressed his Ten Commandments into two – Love God supremely and your neighbor as yourself, and our Lord, quoting him, said, "On these two hang all the Law and, the prophets." Paul compressed them into one: "Love is the fulfilling of the Law." He would have them understand that the Law was not a way of life, but to discover sin – making sin appear to be sin and exceedingly sinful. Then he adds: "But we know that the Law is good, if a man use it lawfully, as knowing this that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and unruly, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for fornicators, for abusers of themselves with men, for menstealers, for liars, for false swearers, and if there be any other thing contrary to the sound doctrine."


And over against this he solemnly declares that what is "sound doctrine" must be "according to the gospel of the glory of the happy God," which was committed to his trust. All doctrine contrary to that gospel is unsound, whether preached by demon or man. Paul's sound doctrine here accords with his sound doctrine in Titus 2:1. We hear much of sound doctrine, but let us not make a mistake. It is not the doctrine of grace theoretically held, resting on a barren faith, but on a faith which works by love, purifies the heart, and makes the man a better man in all the relations of life – parent, child, brother, husband, neighbor, and citizen.


On my first visit to St. Louis, Dr. Pope Yeaman asked me: "Are Texas Baptists sound?" I replied: "Some of them are nothing but sound: Vox et preterea nihil."


Before the Southern Baptist Convention I preached on this passage, 1 Timothy 1:11: "The gospel of the glory of the happy God," rendering the Greek word, Makariou by "happy" instead of "blessed," because this is not the usual word for "blessed" and because "happy" expresses the precise thought. The success of the gospel makes God happy. As in Luke 15, it is the shepherd who rejoices when he finds the lost sheep; and it is the woman who rejoices when she finds the lost coin; and it is the father who rejoices when he recovers his lost son. And that this rendering accorded with Christ's being anointed with the oil of gladness, and of his being satisfied when he saw of the travail of his soul.


My rendering was criticized by one captious hearer, but I was gratified to find afterward in one of his books that Dr. Harwood Patterson of Rochester Seminary gave the same rendering and for similar reasons.


There are two kinds of heretics, both abominable to God for their "unsound doctrine." The one who claims the power of godliness and decries its form; the other who magnifies the form and despises the power. In one community I found striking examples of both kinds. One of them was ever saying, "I care nothing for your dogmas and ordinances and churches and preachers. I go in for keeping the heart all right, and stand for good morals." The other was the most contentious, disputatious man I ever knew. As a good old deacon described him: "He pulled all the buttons off your coat trying to hold you while be set forth his infallible propositions, and developed corns on his fingers in repeating his points." All his followers carried chips on their shoulders, and like a wild Irishman at a fair, were daring people to step on their coattails.


One of the converts of such (an old Negro, as I have heard), as soon as he rose from his baptism, spat the water out of his mouth, and said, "Now I's ready fur a 'spute."


The first was blind to God's methods in grace, i.e., enveloping the life germ in a form for its protection until maturity. I asked him once what would become of the corn and wheat and nuts if they attempted to mature without the protecting forms of husks and chaff and shells, and showed him a nubbin that grew on the top of a cornstalk where the tassel ought to be. It had no shuck to protect it, no tassel to fertilize it, no silk to catch the shedding from the tassel. Birds had pecked it, worms had bitten it, "smut" had discolored it and infested it, cold had smitten it, heat had scorched it until there was not a sound grain on it. Not even a hog would eat it.


My young readers, let no "broad-gauged" fool beguile you into despising forms and ordinances established by the wisdom of our Lord, and follow no brass band and tinkling cymbal crowd in resting on a barren faith and wordy orthodoxy.


Paul's case an illustration of gospel power. The paragraph, 1 Timothy 1:12-17, is one of the deepest, broadest, richest, and sweetest in the Holy Scriptures. It has as many sermons in it as there are eggs in a guinea's nest – and I once found a guinea's nest with sixty eggs in it.


The first thought that rushes into my own mind as I read it is: What a wonderful use Paul makes of his own Christian experience. Eight times, at least, it is used, and each time for a different purpose. Once Luke tells it (Acts 9:1-18) ; once Barnabas tells it (Acts 9:26-27); six times Paul tells it himself (Acts 22:1-16; Acts 26:1-18; Rom. 7:9-25; Phil. 3:4-14; 1 Tim. 1:12-17; 2 Tim. 1:12).


I am reminded of the fighting Methodist preacher's advice, as given in one of Edward Eggleston's romances. On the way to an appointment two wicked men met him and told him he must go back or take a whipping. He concluded to do neither, but got down off his horse and whipped both of them till they "hollered," prayed for them, and then made them go with him to church! But when he got there his own bruised jaw was so swollen he couldn't preach. Whereupon he peremptorily ordered a young convert to get up and preach. The timid boy protested that he had no sermon and did not know how to make one. "Get up at once and preach," said the stern circuit rider, "and if you can't preach, tell your Christian experience." The boy obeyed. His heart was overflowing with gratitude to his Lord for saving him, a wicked, ignorant, country lad. He attempted no sermon, scraped down no star-dust of rhetoric, indulged in no sophomore flights of fancy, shot off no glittering fireworks, scattered no bouquets of compliments, but went right on in sobs and tears and rejoicings to tell how he was convicted of sin, how the Lord graciously met him, how God, for Christ's sake, pardoned his many sins, how gloriously happy he was, how Jesus was ready to welcome any other poor country boy, and how the one desire of his soul was to lead others to Christ, and there he stood, himself a monument of grace, and exhorted till
Heaven came down their souls to greet, And glory crowned the mercy seat – And the woods were afire like the burning bush. That broken-jawed circuit rider bugged him on the spot and told him it was the greatest sermon he ever heard, instantly called for his ordination, and put him at once into a life-saving work that ended only when his voice was hushed in death.


If a man has a genuine experience, and keeps right on experiencing new manifestations of grace, it is a big part of his preaching stock. In our next chapter this glorious paragraph of Paul’s experience will be unfolded and illustrated.

 

QUESTIONS

 

1. What the analysis of 1 Timothy?

 

2. What its great pulpit themes?

 

3. Why the Pastoral Epistles the preacher's vade-mecum and what do they contain?

 

4. What new phrase in these epistles?

 

5. Give in order the five "Faithful Sayings."

 

6. Why does Paul use new terms in each group of letters?

 

7. What three points of note in the salutation?

 

8. The preparation of what sermon was suggested, and why, and what old books commended for help in the preparation?

 

9. What new term in 1:3?

 

10. Give both a false and a true statement of heterodoxy and orthodoxy.

 

11. Wherein do many moderns differ from Paul on heterodoxy?

 

12. What the heterodox teaching here condemned?

 

13. In what Jewish book are most these legends contained and how would you illustrate its value?

 

14. What the original purpose of the biblical genealogies and when did they become valueless?

 

15. Illustrate their present worthlessness by a certain political race.

 

16. How does Paul in one sentence dispose of the law?

 

17. Using 1 Corinthians 13:13; 1 Timothy 1:5; 2 Peter 1:5-7 construct a diagram of three Christian pyramids, the foundation in each being "Faith" and the capstone "Love."

 

18. How did Moses himself condense his Ten Commandments and what our Lord's comment thereon? How does Paul condense them even more?

 

19. Instead of being a way of life for the righteous what classes was it designed to restrain and convict?

 

20. According to what is all "sound doctrine"? Illustrate.

 

21. What the defense of the rendering "happy" instead of "blessed" in 1 Timothy 1:11?

 

22. What the two kinds of heretics?

 

23. How many times and where in New Testament is use made of Paul's Christian experience?

 

24. Cite Edward Eggleston's instance of the value of one's Christian experience as a pulpit theme.

 

 

III

 

(Return to Contents)

 

PAUL'S CHRISTIAN EXPERIENCE

1 Timothy 1:18 to 2:7

 


At the close of the last chapter we were considering Paul's use of his Christian experience, and eight instances of its use were cited. In that connection a promise was made to begin this chapter with a bit of history illustrating the last two instances of its use, namely, 1 Timothy 1:12-13 and 2 Timothy 1:12. The history is this:


The Southern Baptist Convention held its first Texas session at Jefferson. On Sunday two remarkable sermons were preached. Rev. W. W. Landrum, a licensed preacher, was pastor-elect of the First Church, Shreveport, Louisiana. The church called for his ordination to take place Sunday at 11:00 A.M. at Jefferson during the Convention session there, in order that Dr. Broadus and Dr. S. Landrum, the father of the candidate, might serve on the presbytery. The Convention, of course, did not ordain him, but some thought it would have a misleading effect to have the ordination away from the home church and at an important Convention hour. Dr. Broadus preached the ordination sermon from the common version of 1 Timothy 1:12-13, the very passage we are now considering. It was a great and very impressive sermon.


From memory I give you his outline:


1. Christ puts men into the ministry: "Putting me into this ministry."


2. Christ confers ability on his ministers: "Enabling me."


3. This should be a matter of thankfulness to the minister: "I thank Christ Jesus my Lord."


4. Especially when the preacher was formerly Christ's enemy: "Putting me into this ministry who was before a blasphemer, persecutor, and injurious."


Sunday night the Convention sermon was preached by Dr. Taylor, newly-elected pastor of the Colosseum Place Church, New Orleans, Louisiana. His text was another relating of Paul's experience: 2 Timothy 1:12: "For which cause I suffer all these things; yet I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed; and I am persuaded that he is able to guard that which I have committed unto him against that day."


I have italicized the words stressed in the sermon. Again from memory I give the outline:


1. Paul called to be a great sufferer: "I suffer all these things," citing in illustration Acts 9:16; 1 Corinthians 4:9; 2 Corinthians 4:10-11; 6:4-5; 11:23-29. This point was exceedingly pathetic.


2. The cause of his willingness to suffer: "For this cause I suffer"; he found in the preceding verse: "Our Saviour, Jesus Christ, hath abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel."


3. Called to suffering but not to shame: "Yet I am not ashamed."


4. Reasons for not being ashamed:


(1) "I know him whom I have believed." Here the preacher, evincing great classical research, contrasted the vague guesses of the wisest heathen in their philosophies, with the certitude of Christian knowledge.


(2) "Whom I have believed." Here, with great power, the preacher showed that the object of faith was a person and not a proposition, contrasting the difference between a burdened sinner resting his weary head on a sympathetic heart, and resting it on the cold marble of an abstract proposition.


(3) "I know whom I have believed," Here he made plain that faith is not blind credulity, but based on assured knowledge and therefore reasonable.


(4) "And I am persuaded that he is able to guard." Here the assurance of faith.


(5) "To guard that which I have committed unto him." Here faith, having believed a well-known person, commits a treasure to his keeping, being assured of his ability to guard it. The thought is clear and impressive that faith is not only believing, but a committal – the making of deposit – even one's own assaulted body and soul – the life of the man himself – to be hid with Christ in God.


(6) "Against that day." The great judgment day – not only guarded in all of life's trials, sorrows, and sufferings, and in death's dread hour, but even in the last great assize, where before the great white throne final assignment is made to one's eternal state, home, and companionship.


The two sermons were much discussed as to their relative greatness. The general verdict was that Dr. Broadus' was the greater to the hearer, and Dr. Taylor's was the greater to the reader, the one being much more impressive in delivery than the other.


I have given this bit of history not only to illustrate the force of the closing point in my last discussion on the uses made of Paul's Christian experience, but because the sermons were masterpieces of homiletics.


In resuming the exposition of our great paragraph, attention is called to two distinct reasons assigned for Paul's conversion.


The Two Poles of Salvation. The first reason assigned – latter clause of verse 13: "Howbeit I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief." A blasphemer, a persecutor, an injurious man may obtain mercy if these things are done in spiritual ignorance and unbelief. This answers the question: "Who are salvable?" to wit: all sinners on earth who have not committed the unpardonable sin – eternal sin – pardonable because not wilfully against the light, knowledge, and conviction of the Holy Spirit. Let the reader consult the teacher's exposition of Hebrews 10:26-31, and compare Matthew 12:32; Mark 3:28-30; 1 John 5:16-18. Paul was conscientious in all hw blasphemies and persecution. He verily thought he was doing God's service. Conscience is that inward monitor, divinely implanted, which pronounces verdict on good and evil. It is a mistake to say that it is the creature of education. Education itself being only development and training of what is already potentially present, can have no creative power. Conscience, unenlightened, may become the servant of education and environment. Its light may be darkened; it may become callous and even seared as with a hot iron, but it never vacates its witness box or judicial seat in either Christian, Jew, or heathen (Rom. 2:14-15; 9:1; Acts 26:9).


The second reason assigned is in 1:16: "Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me as chief might Jesus Christ show forth all his longsuffering, for an example of them that should thereafter believe on him unto eternal life." This is the other pole of salvation. The chief of sinners, the outside man of the salvable, was saved to show the utmost extent of longsuffering mercy as an example of encouragement to despairing men less guilty than the chief, to believe on Christ unto eternal life.


Now, the use that we make of that last reason is this: We may take that case of Paul as the outside man, the chief of sinners, and holding it up as a model, as an example, go to any sinner this side of hell – even if his feet be on the quivering, crumbling brink of the abyss – and preach salvation to him, and if he despairs and says, "I am too great a sinner," then we may say, "Behold, God saves the outside man, nearer to hell than you are."


In order to get the full benefit of that thought we must conceive of all sinners that are salvable put in a row, single file, and graded according to the heinousness of their guilt – here the least guilty, there the next most guilty, and the next and the next, and away yonder at the end of the line is that outside man, Paul, right next to hell. Now Christ comes and reaches out a long arm of grace over that extended line and snatches the outside man from the very jaws of hell, and holds him up and says, "Is not this brand plucked from the burning?"


I have used that example just the way God intended it to be used in preaching in jails and penitentiaries and city slums, and in coming in contact with the toughest and roughest and most criminal sinners in the world.


The next question is: Wherein is Paul the chief of sinners? Quite a number of men have disputed my contention that Paul was really the greatest sinner, leaving out of course the unpardonable sin. He was a blasphemer) but that did not make him the chief of sinners, for others have been more blasphemous. He was a persecutor, but that did not make him the chief of sinners, for other men have been greater persecutors : Nero, Louis XIV of France, and especially that spiritual monster, Philip II of Spain. Any one of these men persecuted beyond anything that Paul ever did. He was an injurious man, but other men have been more injurious than he. What, then, constituted him the chief of sinners, the outside man? My answer is: He was a Pharisee of the Pharisees in his self-righteousness – the extremest Pharisee that ever lived – and self-righteousness stands more opposed to the righteousness of Christ than does either persecution or blasphemy. To illustrate: The Pharisee who came into the Temple to pray, and with uplifted eyes, faces God and says, "God, I thank thee that I am not like other men – especially this poor publican. I fast twice every week; I pay tithes of all I possess." No praying in that. It is the feigned prayer of the selfrighteous man, denying that he is a sinner. He denies any need of regeneration and sanctification by the Holy Spirit. He denies any need of the cleansing by the blood of Jesus Christ: “I need no Saviour; I stand on my own record, and answer for myself at the bar of God." The self-righteous man would come to the very portals of heaven over which is written: "No unclean thing shall enter here," march right in and stand unabashed in the presence of the Cherubim who sing, "Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty," and brazenly say to God's face: "I am as holy as thou art. I am as white as snow. I was never in bondage. I have no need to be forgiven." That made Paul the chief of sinners; nobody ever came up to him on self-righteousness. Now, if this chief of sinners, this outside man, be saved, that gives us the other pole of salvation.


Proceeding with the discussion, we note what verse 17 says: "Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen." How is God more immortal, more eternal than the soul of man? If the soul of man is deathless, then how is he more immortal? There was a beginning to that soul, but there was no beginning to the being of God. How is God invisible? The Scriptures declare that no man bath seen God at any time, or can see him. The only way in which he has ever been seen has been in his image, Jesus Christ. Jesus has revealed him; so when we look at Jesus we see the Father, and in the teachings of Jesus we hear the Father. But there will come a time, when we are completely saved, when the affairs of the world are wound up, then we shall see God; "God himself shall tabernacle with men, and they shall see his face." That was the glorious thought in Job's declaration: "Oh, that my words were now written, that they were graven with iron and lead in a rock forever, for I know that my Redeemer liveth; and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God, whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold." In quoting this passage, I stand upon the King James Version: "In my body" – not "apart from my body." We do not see God in our disembodied soul, but when our soul and body are redeemed, then God himself becomes visible. The context and all the scriptures in other connections oppose the Revised Version on this passage. See Revelation 22:4.


Verse 18 gives a consequential charge to Timothy. It reads: "This charge I commit unto thee, my child Timothy, according to the prophecies which led the way unto thee, that by them thou mayest war a good warfare." What is the meaning of the prophecy that led the way to Timothy? In Acts 13 in the church of Antioch there were certain prophets, and it was revealed unto these prophets that Saul and Barnabas should be set apart, or ordained, to the foreign mission work. Later Barnabas drops out, and Paul needs another and better Barnabas and some prophet, either Paul himself or Silas, receives & revelation that that boy, Timothy, who was led to Christ in Lystra or in Derbe, should be ordained to go with Paul to the foreign mission work.


The second part of the charge is, "holding faith and a good conscience." Do not turn faith loose; don't say, "I once believed in Jesus Christ, now I do not." Hold on to a good conscience. Conscience is never good until it is purified with the application of the blood of Jesus Christ in regeneration. The lamp of the Lord shines with a clear light upon every action, right or wrong, as long as it remains good. But when we begin to trifle with the conscience – when we do things we are conscientiously opposed to, our conscience will become callous. Therefore, let us hold to our faith, and hold to a good conscience.


In the next verse: "Which some having thrust from them made shipwreck concerning the faith, of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I delivered unto Satan, that they might be taught not to blaspheme." Now here we have a shipwreck – not of faith – but concerning the faith. These men turned loose the faith, blinding their consciences. Now the question comes up: On what specific point did these two men turn loose the faith? 2 Timothy 2:16ff answers: "But shun profane babblings, for they will proceed further in ungodliness, and their word will eat as doeth a gangrene (or cancer), of whom is Hymenaeua and Philetus (here we get one of them with another added); men who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already, and overthrow the faith of some." Men in Ephesus denied that there was any such thing as the resurrection of the body – that it was scientifically impossible – and taught that the resurrection was the conversion of the soul. They have followers today. Some who claim to be teachers of preachers virtually deny the resurrection of the body. A preacher of the annual sermon before the Southern Baptist Convention, taught that Christ assumed his resurrection body simply for identification, and that after he was identified it was eliminated, and it did not concern us to know what became of it.


Now, what does Paul say about the denial of the resurrection? He calls it profane babbling that will progress to greater ungodliness: "And their word will eat as doth a gangrene." We know how a cancer eats while we are sleeping, commencing perhaps in the corner of the eye, and after a while it will eat the eye out, then the side of the face, then it will eat the nose off, and then the lips, and keep on eating. That was the shipwreck concerning the faith made by Hymenaeus, Alexander, and Philetus.


The next question is: What chance did Paul give these men to be saved? The text says that he turned them over to Satan that they should be taught not to blaspheme. In other words, the true Christian in the fold is hedged against Satan – he cannot get to him – he cannot put the weight of his little finger on him without asking permission; he asked permission to worry Job and Peter. Whenever a sheep on the inside gets too unruly and he is put on the outside and hears the wolves howl a while, he will bleat around to come back in. But if one turns an unruly hog out of the pen, he will strike for the woods and never come back. Peter, in the exercise of his apostolic power, could strike Ananias dead. Paul, in the same power, struck Elymas blind, but where the object of this power is to save, offenders were temporarily turned over to the buffeting of Satan as in the case of the offending Corinthian. This man had taken his father's wife, but the discipline led him to repentance and he was glad to get back in.


Chapter 2 gives direction concerning public prayer worship. The first injunction is that prayers, supplications, and intercessions be made for all men – not only for our Baptist brethren, but our Methodist brethren; not only for the Christians, but for those on the outside. Pray for all rulers, all people in authority – presidents, governors, senators, city councils, and police – ah, but some of them do need it! Now, he gives the reasons – it is important to see what the reasons are: (1) Pray for these rulers that we may live a quiet and orderly life. If they are bad, we won't have an easy time. If the administrators of law be themselves lawless in their speech, every bad man construes it into permission to do what he pleases. When the wicked are in power the righteous suffer. (2) It is good and acceptable in the sight of God that we should do it. God wants us to pray for all people. (3) And the third reason is the great reason: That God would have all men to be saved. Let us not squirm at that, but for a little while let us forget about election and predestination, and just look this scripture squarely in the face: God desires the salvation of all men. In this connection I commend that sermon in my first book of sermons on "God and the Sinner." Note in order its several proof texts.

God asks, Ezekiel 18: "Have I any pleasure at all in the death of the wicked that they should die and not live?" Ezekiel 33, God takes an oath: "As I live saith the Lord, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that he will turn from his evil way and live. Then why will you die? saith the Lord." Then we come to the passage here: "God would have all men to be saved." "And God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have everlasting life." In Luke 15 the accusation made against him was: "This man receiveth sinners and eateth with them"; and he answered: "I came to seek and to save that which was lost." And the text here says that he gave his life a ransom for all. That all is as big here as elsewhere. He would have all men to be saved; pray for all men because he would have all men to be saved, and because Christ gave his life as a ransom for all. Then this scripture: "Jesus Christ tasted death for every man." If there is still doubt, look at the Lord's Commission: "Go ye, and make disciples of all nations"; " Go ye, and preach the gospel to every creature." Finally, consider the teaching of Peter: "We must account that the long suffering of God in delaying the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ is that all men should have space to repent and come to the knowledge of truth." That's the construction he puts upon the apparent tardiness of the final advent of our Lord. However, when we study election and predestination, we should study and preach them just as they are taught. Let us not say, "I don't know just how to harmonize them with these other teachings."


God did not appoint us harmonizers of his word.


As Dr. Broadus used to say, let the word of God mean just what it wants to mean, every time. Preach both of them. These lines are apparently parallel, but they may come together. If on a map parallels of longitude come together at the poles, why not trust God to bring together in himself and in eternity his apparent parallels of doctrine? Up yonder beyond the clouds they will come together. That is my own method of preaching.


Now, we come to a very important part of this prayer, verse 5: "For there is one God, one mediator between God and man, himself man, Christ Jesus." Oh, if we could but learn thoroughly the relation of this passage to the doctrine of prayer: The Old Testament gives us the type of it: The victim is sacrificed; the high priest takes the blood and starts into the holy of holies to sprinkle it upon the mercy seat. Then he takes a coal of fire from the altar of that sacrifice and kindles the frankincense, which represents the prayers of the people. The high priest alone takes the prayers of the people there into the holy of holies: "Father, behold the atoning blood. On account of that blood, hear these petitions of the people and answer them."


The thought is that in offering up prayers to God, there is only one mediator. Let us not kneel down and say, "Oh, virgin Mary, intercede for me with Jesus, that he may hear my prayers." Or, ''Oh, Peter, John, Paul, James, ye saints, help me in getting my prayers up to heaven." There is just one mediator between God and man, and one of the most blasphemous doctrines of the papacy is prayer to saints. Saints may pray for sinners, but saints are not allowed to mediate prayers nor themselves be prayed unto. We are not mediators with Jesus. There is just one case in the Bible where a prayer was made to a saint, and that prayer was not answered. The rich man lifted up his eyes and seeing Abraham afar off, said, "Father Abraham, have mercy on me."

 

QUESTIONS

 

1. What bit of history illustrates the uses of Paul's Christian experience and furnishes two models in homiletics?

 

2. What two reasons are assigned in the text for Paul's conversion and show how they constitute the poles of salvation?

 

3. What use in preaching may be made the second reason?

 

4. Wherein was Paul the chief of sinners?

 

5. How alone is God now visible?

 

6. When and to whom will he be directly visible?

 

7. Explain the prophecy that led the way unto Timothy?

 

8. Wherein did Hymenaeus and Alexander make shipwreck concerning the faith & what the difference between "shipwreck of faith" &"concerning faith"?

 

9. Show in two respects how this heresy worked evil.

 

10. What was the power given to apostles and what cases of its use: (1) To destruction. (2) In order to save. (3) And what illustration of the test of "turning over to Satan." (4) What notable examples of "turning over to Satan" where it worked for good to its subject?

 

11. What the topic of chapter 2?

 

12. For whom should we pray and what the general reasons given?

 

13. Cite other passages in line with 2:4.

 

14. Can you satisfactorily harmonize these passages with the doctrines of election and predestination?

 

15. What will you do with doctrines you can't harmonize?

 

16. What the bearing of "One Mediator" on the doctrine of prayer?

 

17. What the Old Testament typical illustration?

 

18. What errors of the papacy at this point?

 

19. What one case in the Bible of praying to a saint?

 

20. What the result and what the inference?

  

 

IV

 

(Return to Contents)

 

THE SPHERES OF MEN AND WOMEN IN THE CHURCH; CHURCH OFFICERS AND THEIR QUALIFICATIONS

1 Timothy 2:8 to 3:13

 


There must be no question that this letter is about church affairs – affairs of the particular church at Ephesus. This appears both from explicit statements (1:3; 3:14-15) and from the subject matter. It relates to present heterodox teachings (1:3), public worship (2), church officers, pastors, deacons, and deaconesses, the truth to be upheld by the church (3), its danger through future heresies (4), its discipline and pension list (5), its social duties (6).


Indeed, its express object is to show how its members should conduct themselves in the church assemblies, worship, and services. If we do not keep this ruling thought in our minds, we will widely miss the mark in our interpretation. Particularly must we bear this in mind when we attempt to expound the last paragraph in 2:8-15. And, as Dr. Broadus says, "We must let the Scripture mean what it wants to mean."


This paragraph, by any fair rule of interpretation, does distinguish sharply between the spheres of the man and the woman in these public, mixed assemblies. Nothing can be more explicit than the way the apostle commences: "I desire that the men pray everywhere . . . in like manner [I desire] that women"; note the article before "men." Carefully note three other things:


1. These injunctions on the woman in these church assemblies.


2. The reasons therefore.


3. The encouraging and compensating promise to women in their different and restricted sphere.


1. Injunctions:


(1) Not to appear in the church assemblies in gorgeous, costly, worldly, immodest, flaunting, fashionable attire. That mind is blind indeed that cannot both understand and appreciate the spiritual value of this injunction.


The church assembly is not for dress parade. It is not a meeting at the opera, or theater, or ballroom, or bridge party, or some worldly, social function, where decollete dress, marvelous head attire, and blazing jewels are fashionable. These worldly assemblies have their own standards and reasons for their fashions, and it is not for us to judge them that are without. It is the standard for the church assemblies, gathered to worship God and to save the lost, under consideration. Jesus Christ, and not Lord Chesterfield, established the church. Our dress at church, if nowhere else, should be simple, modest, in no way ministering to vanity, display, or tending to keep away the poor, or sad, or sin-burdened. I appeal to any cultivated, real lady, who has a sense of proprieties, to answer the question: Is the church assembly the place for gorgeous and costly dress? Positively, women are enjoined to seek the adornment of good works.


(2) They are enjoined to learn in quietness with all subjection, not to teach or have dominion over the man, or as expressed in 1 Corinthians 14:33-35. Evidently from all the context, this passage in Timothy refers to official teaching, as a pastor ruling a church, and to prophesying in 1 Corinthians 14:34-35. The custom in some congregations of having a woman as pastor is in flat contradiction to this apostolic teaching and is open rebellion against Christ our King, and high treason against his sovereignty, and against nature as well as grace. It unsexes both the woman who usurps this authority and the men who submit to it. Under no circumstances conceivable is it justifiable.
2. Reasons:


(1) Adam was first formed, then Eve. Here the allusion is obvious to the beginning of the human race. The whole race was created in Adam potentially. His companion, later named Eve for a grace reason, was called "woman," which simply means derived from the man. The man, by nature, is the head of the family.


(2) In addition to this natural reason is the explicit divine part in the fall of the race. Compare Genesis 3:16 with this authority subjecting her to the man because of her tempting passage (2:14).


3. The encouraging and compensatory promise:


"But she shall be saved through her childbearing, if they continue in faith and love and sanctification with sobriety." Whatever this 'difficult passage means, it is intended as compensation to the woman for her restriction in sphere and subjection of position. Two words constitute the difficulty of interpretation: (1) The import of "saved", "she shall be saved through her childbearing"; (2) what the antecedent of the pronoun "they", "if they shall continue, etc." One obvious meaning of saved lies in the evident allusion to the gospel promise in Genesis 3:15. "The seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head," and to Adam's evident understanding of the grace in the promise, since he at once changes her name from "woman" (Issha), i. e., derived from the man, to "Eve" (Chavvah), because she was thus made the mother of all living (Chay). As for grace reasons Abram's name was changed to Abraham, Sari to Sarah, Jacob to Israel, Simon to Cephas, so she is no longer named "derived from the man," but "the mother of all life," and this came through the bearing of a child – her seed, not the man's – who shall be the Saviour of the world. What a marvelous change of names! Though herself derived from the man, yet from her is derived salvation through her Son. See the explanation of the angel at the annunciation to the virgin Mary in Luke 1:31-35. She shall be saved in bearing a child who is God manifest in the flesh.


But the true antecedent of the pronoun "they" – "if they continue, etc." – suggests a more appropriate thought, at least one in better harmony with the context. Let us get at this thought by a paraphrase: The man shall have his life directly in authority and public leadership. The woman shall live, indirectly, in the children she bears if they (the children) prove to be worthy. The man lives or dies according to his rule and leadership in public affairs; the woman lives or dies in her children. His sphere is the public arena. Her sphere, the home. Washington's mother lived in him; Lois and Eunice lived in Timothy. The Roman matron, Cornelia, pointed to her boys, the Gracchi, and said, "These are my jewels."


The world is better and brighter when women sanctify and beautify home, proudly saying, "My husband is my glory, my children are my jewels and I am content to live in them. Why should I desire to be a man and fill his place: who then will fill mine?" See the ideal woman in Proverbs 31:10-31. It would be unnatural and ungrammatical to start a sentence with "she," singular, and arbitrarily change it to "they," both referring to the same antecedent. That nation perishes which has no homes, no family sanctity, no good mothers.


Under my construction of this paragraph, I never call on a woman to lead the prayers of a church assembly, nor yield any kind of encouragement to a woman pastor. This is very far from denying any place to woman in kingdom activities. I have just suggested to a woman the great theme for an essay: "Woman's Sphere in Kingdom Activities." The Scriptures blaze with light on the subject and teem with illustrations and inspiring examples. Understand that the injunction against woman's teaching does not at all apply to teaching in the schoolroom nor at home, but only to teaching involving church rule that would put man in subjection. Nor is prayer inhibited, but the leading in prayers in the church assemblies.


The third chapter, except the last paragraph, relates to church officers, their qualifications and duties, and the last paragraph relates to the church mission. Let us now take up the first part. The first officer of the church is the bishop (3:1-7), and we find here that this title episcopos ("bishop") ig derived from a function of his work, to wit: overseeing, or superintending, the work of the church. An episcopos is an overseer. Considering the church as a flock that must be guided, fed, and guarded, he is called "pastor," that is, a shepherd. He is also called "presbytery," i. e., elder, a church ruler. In view of his duty to proclaim the messages of God, he is called a kerux, that is, "preacher." In view of his duty to expound the word and instruct, he is didaskalos, a "teacher." But bishop, pastor, elder, preacher, and teacher do not signify so many offices, but departments of work in the one office. Here is a working force – there is an overseer for that working force; here is a flock – there is a shepherd for that flock; here is an assembly – there is a ruler of that assembly, a president; here is an audience – there is a preacher to that audience; here is a school – and there is a teacher for that school, an expounder of the word of God. This office, from its importance, may be learned from the fact that "no man taketh the office unto himself"; God calls him to it, as Paul said to the elders at Ephesus, "The Holy Spirit hath made you bishops," and the church sets him apart by prayer and the laying on of hands. In the Northern section of this country some say, "What is ordination? It is nothing."


We had better let God's ordinances stand as he instituted them.


The duties of the pastor may be inferred from the terms above.


We now come to consider the question of his qualifications, and the qualifications in this passage are put before us, first negatively and then positively, or rather, the two intermingle, now a positive, now a negative.


Let us look at the negative qualifications: "Without reproach." Do not make a man the pastor of a congregation whose record is all spotted, reproaches coming up against him here, there, and everywhere. Second, he must be no brawlers I once heard a pastor boast on a train that he had just knocked a man down. I said, "I am going to pray for you either to repent of that sin, or resign as a pastor." I will admit there was some provocation, but a pastor must not be a brawler, he is not a swash buckler, he is no striker. In the case of the two wicked men who headed off the Methodist circuit rider and told him he must turn back I believe I would myself have fought under the circumstances, and as the Methodist preacher did fight, and I am glad he whipped the other fellows. But the idea here is that the preacher must not have the reputation of "throwing his hat into the ring": "Now, there's my hat, and I'll follow it", "don't you kick my dawg around." Not contentious. I saw within the last ten days the account of a man's death, and I thought as soon as I saw it: “O Lord, I hope thy grace has saved him and put him in a place where he will see that it is not right to be an eternal disputer." We should not be like Shakespeare's Hotspur, ready "to cavil on the ninth part of a hair."


"No lover of money." Any man that loves money is guilty of the sin of idolatry; covetousness is idolatry, and the fellow that holds the dollar till the eagle squeals, or holds it so close to his eye that he cannot see a lost world, or that dreams about it and just loves to pour it through his fingers or to hear the bank notes rustic – he should not preach.


"Not a novice." What is a novice? A novice is one just starting out. Now that does not mean that a novice must not be a preacher. He must learn to preach some time, but do not make him the bishop of a church. "Not a novice" – why? "Lest being lifted up with pride, be falls into the condemnation that came on the devil." That is where the devil got his fall. Being lifted up with pride, too proud to be under another creature at first made lower than himself, afterward to be exalted above him.


These are the negatives. Now, let's look at the positives. First, "the husband of one wife." Does that mean that he must be the husband of a wife – is that what it means? In other words, that an unmarried, man ought not to be a pastor? I will say this for the unmarried pastor: If he is not wiser than Solomon, more prudent than Augustus and more patient than Job, he certainly has rocks ahead of him I We had an old deacon once that put his foot right on it that that was what it meant: "I am willing to give that young preacher a place, I am willing to recognize him and even ordain him to special mission stations to preach, but no unmarried man can be pastor of this church."


Second, does it mean that as a large part of these people were heathen, just converted, and tangled up with their polygamous associations even when they were converted, having more than one wife, the question being: "What are you going to do with them and the children?" Now does the apostle mean that even if we patiently bear for a time with the bigamist or polygamist cases, yet we must not make bishops of them? Some commentaries suggest that meaning. I will put it in a third form: Does it mean that he must have but one wife according to scriptural law? Some have been legally divorced under human law, but not under the Scriptures, and have married again. Now, shall we have a man as a pastor who may not under human law, but who under Christ's law, may have more than one wife – is that what it means?


We find the same requirement in the case of the deacon. But to proceed with qualifications: "temperate" – and I think that not merely means temperance in drink, but includes temperance in eating. A man may be a glutton as well as a tippler; and without raising the question as to whether the pastor should be a total abstainer, one thing is certain; no man should be made the pastor of a church who drinks intoxicating liquors as a beverage.


"Sober minded" – in the sense of grave, the opposite of which is levity. Do not put a man in the office of bishop who 18 a clown. I knew a man who occupied the pastoral position in a prominent place in this state; a very brilliant man. But it was impossible to have a reverent feeling toward him, for he was the funniest man I ever saw; he could imitate birds, dogs, and cattle, and hearing him imitate a stutterer would make a dog laugh. It was exceedingly funny, but after you laughed at him and listened to him, somehow or other you did not have reverence for him, for he was not sober-minded.


The next word is "orderly." I said once to a young preacher, "You have mind enough to be a preacher, and I really believe you are a converted man, but you have a disorderly and lawless spirit. You will more likely succeed as an anarchist than as pastor of a church."


The next phrase is "given to hospitality." Here most preachers stand the test. As a rule they and their wives are very open hearted and open handed. God bless them! They have not only given themselves to hospitality, but they have given to it everything they have, as a rule. I have known my father to entertain a whole association of seventy messengers. The highest I ever entertained was forty, and they crowded me, too, but they were a lot of mighty good fellows.


"Gentle": he ought not to be a rough fellow. "Ruling well his own house": that's the rock that some of us fall on. I am sure that when I was a pastor I did not measure up on that. "Having a good testimony from them that are on the outside." If we go out over a town or community and inquire about the preachers, we find that for some preachers everybody has a good word, and for some other preachers no one speaks well and some even sneer when his name is mentioned. The obvious reason of this requirement is that the preacher, in order to fulfil his mission to the lost, must be in position to reach them. If they have no confidence in him as a man – if they can even plausibly question his personal integrity as to honesty, veracity, and purity, he can do them no good.


But though we have all the characteristics so far named, the lack of two of them knocks us out: "aptness to teach" and "ability to rule." The first does not mean that we must be learned; that our range of information must be extensive; that we must have gathered a great storehouse of varied knowledge. We may have all of these and yet be a dead failure in the teacher's office. Indeed, we may lack these – our ignorance be as vast as another man's learning – and yet possess that essential qualification: "aptness to teach." Ignorance can be cured, but the natural incapacity to teach is irremediable so far as this office is concerned. The power to arrest and hold attention, the power to awaken the dormant and alarm the careless, the great faculty of being able to impart what we do know or may acquire, the being able, not only to say things but, to so say them that they will stick, yea, the power not of pouring into empty vessels from our fulness nor of cramming a receptacle with many things, but of suggesting so that the other mind will do the thinking and working out – that is the teacher.


Once only, though inclined thereto more than once, I put my arms in tenderness around a ministerial student and said, "My boy, may you and God forgive me if I make a mistake, but after patient trial and much observation, I am impressed that you never can be a preacher. You are a Christian all right, your moral character is blameless) but so far as I am capable of judging with the lights before me, you are wholly devoid of any aptness to teach."


The deacon. So far as moral qualifications go, there is little difference between the qualifications of preacher and deacon. And they area like in the requirement of "soundness in the faith." It is not fitting that any officer of a church should hold loose views on the cardinal doctrines of Christianity. Yea, there are strong and obvious reasons why the collector and disburser of church funds should be as free as the preacher from "the love of money," or "covetousness," lest in making estimates on recommending expenditures he should make his own miserly spirit the standard of church liberality.


But, also, because of his official relation to church finances, even more than in the preacher's case, he should have business sense and judgment. Without going into details of the exposition of words and phrases, we need to impress our minds with some general reflections on this office:


1. In what idea did the office originate? In the necessity of the division of labor. One man cannot do everything. Old Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses, was a wise man in his generation. He observed Moses trying to do everything in the administration of the affairs of a nation, and fortunately for succeeding administrations freed his mind, saying in substance: "This is not a wise thing you do. You weary yourself and the people who have to wait for attention. You attend to things Godward, and appoint others to attend to secular matters." The good advice for a division of labor resulted in the appointment of graded judges, to the great dispatch of business and the relief of the overburdened Moses and the weary people. (See full account, Exodus 18:13-26.)


Certainly the judicious division of labor is one of the greatest elements of success in the administration of the world's affairs. From the account in Acts 6:1-6, it is evident that this was the ruling idea in the institution of the deacon's office. The ministerial office was overtaxed in giving attention to the distribution of the charity fund, to the detriment of its spiritual work. This was bad policy in economics and unreasonable. It left unemployed competent talent. People to be interested in any enterprise must have something to do.


2. The next idea underlying this office was, that in applying the economic principle of the division of labor, this office should be supplemental to the preaching office. It was designed to free the preacher's mind and heart from unnecessary cares with a view to the concentration of his powers in spiritual matters. "It is not fit that we should forsake the word of God and serve tables. Look ye out among yourselves suitable men to attend to this business. But we will continue stedfastly in prayer, and in the ministry of the word." Evidently, therefore, the deacon's office is supplemental to the pastor's office. A deacon therefore whose services are not helpful in this direction fails in the fundamental purposes of his appointment. He is not to be a long-horned ox to gore the pastor, but a help to him. Some deacons so act as to become the enemy and dread of every incoming pastor.


3. The third idea of his office delimits his duties – the charge of the temporalities of the church, over against the pastor's charge of the spiritualities. Of course, this includes the finances of the church, the care of its property and the provision for comfortable service and worship, and for the proper observances of its ordinances. I heard an old-time Baptist preacher, at the ordination of some deacons, expound this text, "to serve tables."


His outline was:


1. To serve the table of the Lord – arrange for the Lord's Supper.


2. To serve the table of the poor – administer the charities of the church.


3. To serve the table of the pastor – make the estimates and recommendations of appropriations for pastoral support and other current expenses, collect and disburse the fund. But we go outside the record and introduce vicious innovations on New Testament simplicity if we regard, or allow the deacons themselves to regard a board of deacons as


1. The grand jury of a church. To bring in all bills of indictments in cases of discipline. They are not even, exofficio, a committee on discipline, though not barred, as individuals, from serving on such committees. Discipline is an intensely spiritual matter, whether in regard to morals or doctrines, and is the most delicate of all the affairs of a church. It does not at all follow that one competent as a businessman to attend to temporal and financial matters is the best man to handle such a delicate, spiritual matter as discipline. The preacher, charged with the spiritualities of the church is, exofficio, the leader and manager here, as every case of discipline in the New Testament shows. In not one of them does a deacon, as such, appear. Indeed, any member of a church may bring a case of discipline to its attention, and every member of the church is required under proper conditions to do this very thing. (See Matthew 18:15-17.)


In reading this paragraph omit the "against thee" in the second line as unsupported by the best manuscripts. Read it this way: "If thy brother sin, go right along, and convict him of his fault, between thee and him alone." No matter against whom the sin, nor whether it be a personal or general offense, as soon as you know it, go right along and take the steps required first of you alone, then of you and others. If you and the others fail, even then it does not say: "Tell it to the deacons." Officially they have nothing in the world to do with it. "Tell it to the church." When the deacons are made a grand jury, God's law of responsibility resting on each brother is superseded by a most vicious human innovation.


2. A board of deacons is not a board of ruling elders having official charge of all church affairs. Baptists are not Presbyterians in church polity. It is not the name, but the thing, that is objectionable. We do not dodge the offense of having a ruling board by calling them deacons. The New Testament elders who ruled were preachers. There is not even a remote hint in the New Testament that the deacon's office was a ruling office.


The reader must observe that proving precedes appointment to pastoral or deacon's office. Unknown, untried men should not be put in either office. One of the greatest needs in the Baptist denomination today is a corps of good deacons in every church, attending to the New Testament functions of their office and no other. One of the greatest evils in our denomination is making, or allowing the corps of deacons to become a grand jury or a board of rulers. All along the shores of history are the debris of churches wrecked on these sunken, keel-splitting rocks.


One other great need of our people is that a great sentence of this section should be lifted up and glorified as a good deacon's objective and incentive: "For they that have served well as deacons gain to themselves a good standing, and great boldness in the faith which is in Jesus Christ" (1 Tim. 3:13). It ought to become so exalted that it would become every deacon's inspiration and guiding star. As a meritorious distinction, it should outrank the badge of the Legion of Honor, the Collar of the Golden Fleece, or the degree of Ph.D. conferred by earth's greatest university.


We need now to consider only one other sentence: "Women in like manner must be grave, not slanderers, temperate, faithful in all -things." As this verse is sandwiched between two paragraphs on the deacon's office, and is a part of the section on church officers, it would be out of all connection to interpret it of women in general. And as there is no similar requirement concerning the pastor's higher office, we should not render it "wives" meaning the wives of deacons. The context requires the rendering: "women deacons." This rendering not only has the support of Romans 16:1, commending Phoebe as a deaconess of the church at Cenchrea and as doing work supplemental to the preacher and the administrator of charity help, but meets a need as obvious as the need of a male deacon. In every large church there is deacon's work that cannot be well done except by a female deacon. In the administration of charity in some cases of women – in the preparation of female candidates for baptism) and in other matters of delicacy there is need for a woman church official. The Waco church of which I was pastor for so many years, had, by my suggestion and approval, a corps of spiritually minded, judicious female deacons who were very helpful, and in some delicate cases indispensable. In churches on heathen mission fields the need is even greater than in our country Many an embarrassment did the worthy deaconess save me from, even on the subject of visitation. In some cases appealing for charity, only these women could make the necessary investigation.

 

QUESTIONS

 

1. To what matters is 1 Timothy confined, what the evidence thereof and how does the fact bear on the interpretation of the book?

 

2. What distinction does the paragraph 2:8-15 sharply make?

 

3. What the first injunction on women in the church assemblies and why?

 

4. What the second and the reasons?

 

5. What the result of having a woman pastor?

 

6. What the compensating promise for these restrictions?

 

7. What words constitute the difficulties of interpreting this promise?

 

8. What the antecedent of the pronoun, "they"?

 

9. What the possible explanation of "She shall be saved through her childbearing"?

 

10. In this context what the more probable explanation? Convey it by a paraphrase.

 

11. Illustrate this by a scriptural, a classical, and a modern case.

 

12. What Old Testament passage is in line with the thought and pictures the ideal woman?

 

13. What the limitations on woman's praying and teaching?

 

14. What the twofold lesson of chapter 3?

 

15. In the paragraph 3:1-7 what the name of highest church officer and its meaning?

 

16. Give other names for this officer and their meanings.

 

17. Give the qualifications for this officer negatively and positively.

 

18. What the meaning of "husband of one wife"?

 

19. Meaning of "novice"?

 

20. Why should a pastor have good testimony of them that are without?

 

21. Most of these qualifications relate to his character, but what two bear on his work?

 

22. Show what "aptness to teach" does not mean and then show in what it consists.

 

23. Cite other passages to show that the bishop is a ruler.

 

24. What the second office?

 

25. Wherein do his qualifications coincide with the pastor's?

 

26. Wherein superior?

 

27. Why should not a deacon be "a lover of money"?

 

28. In what idea did the office originate?

 

29. Cite an Old Testament example.

 

30. What the second idea underlying the office and what the passage showing it?

 

31. What the third?

 

32. Give the text and outline of a notable sermon at the ordination of deacons.

 

33. Show why a corps of deacons should not be considered a grand jury.

 

34. Why not a ruling board?

 

35. What officer of a church has charge of discipline and why? Of ruling?

 

36. What is a long-horned deacon? Ans.: One who gores the pastor instead of helping him and in love of ruling runs roughshod over the church.

 

37. Why from the context must verse II be construed to teach that there should be "female deacons" and what other scripture in support and what the need of having them?

 

 

V

 

(Return to Contents)

 

THE MISSION OF THE CHURCH

1 Timothy 3:14-16

 


Our last discussion closed with 1 Timothy 3:13, on the officers of the church, their qualifications and duties. The closing paragraph of the chapter is devoted to setting forth the mission of the church in relation to the truth and what the elements of the truth. Since the contention that there is now existing a universal church is based upon the broad statement applied to the church in the letter to the Ephesians, I am glad that in the passage now to be considered, and in the address of Paul at Miletus to the elders of the church at Ephesus (see Acts 20), we see the broadest of these terms applied to the particular church at Ephesus.


Now, let us read: "These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly, but if I tarry long thou mayest know how men ought to behave themselves in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth." Here "the house of God," "the church of the living God," "the pillar and ground of the truth," "the flock," "the church of the Lord which he purchased with his own blood," are statements just as broad as we can find in the letter to the Ephesians, and yet all these broad terms are expressly applied to the one particular church at Ephesus, for he is discussing the heresies in that church, the prayer services in that church, and the officers of that church.


The reader will notice that when Paul wrote the first letter to Timothy, it shows that on this last tour of his, after his escape from the first Roman imprisonment, he had been in Asia and at Ephesus, and now expresses the hope to speedily return. In 2 Timothy, we find evidence that he did return to Ephesus, and had a very stormy time.


The word "behave" in verse 15 refers to more than mere proprieties. It includes worship and service – how church members should conduct themselves in the church assemblies. Right behavior on the part of both men and women in the worship and service of the public assembly is based on three great reasons:


1. The assembly is the church of the living God. The institution is not of human origin. It is not a Greek ecclesia humanly devised for the transaction of municipal or state business. It is not a political gathering.


2. It is a house for divine habitation. The letter to the Ephesians expresses the thought. (See Ephesians 2:21-22.)


3. Because of its mission, being "The pillar and ground of the truth." The ground of a thing is the foundation upon which the superstructure rests. A pillar is a column upholding a superstructure. The attitude of the church toward the truth is that' it supports and upholds the truth which teaches these doctrines. The Bible alone would not save the world. There must be an organization back of the Book, an organization that has in it the elements of perpetuity, otherwise the truth would go to pieces. If there was no competent body to exercise discipline, to insist upon the gospel elements of the truth in preaching, and to exercise jurisdiction over the preachers of that doctrine, then there would be all sorts of preaching, all sorts of doctrines, and there would be no conservation of the truth.


I now answer the question: How does the church, as a pillar and foundation, uphold the truth?


1. By proclaiming it through its ministry. They carry that truth to the end of the world.


2. By exhibiting it pictorially) through the ordinances of baptism and the Lord's Supper. Wherever water flows) wherever it stagnates in pools, wherever it masses in lakes, bays, or oceans, there in the yielding waves of baptism the church pictorially represents the central truths of the gospel.


3. They uphold the truth by vindicating it in their discipline. If a man comes teaching for the gospel that which is not the gospel, if a man lie and contradict the gospel, the church upholds the truth by refusing to hear, receive or in any way give him countenance. Yea, the church must expose his heresy.


4. It upholds the truth by illustrating it in all its practical life. Every Christian father and mother, brother and sister, boy and girl, every Christian citizen, is upholding the truth by illustrating it in the life.


I would not have you forget these four points by which the church upholds the truth:


1 – Proclaiming it through its ministry.


2 – Pictorially representing it in its two ordinances.


3 – Vindicating it in discipline.


4 – Illustrating it in life.


The next matter we have under consideration: What is the truth which the church is to uphold? Here we have a summary of the truth so far at is relates to the mystery of godliness. It, of course, is not a summary of all the truth, but it is a summary of the truth as it relates to the mystery of godliness and these are its six elements:


1. "God was manifested in the flesh." It is immaterial to the sense whether we read "God was" or "who was." Both teach the incarnation of Deity. The incarnation of the Word that was with God and that was God. Incarnation includes all that he did in that incarnation, his personal obedience to the Law, his teaching of the fulness of the New Testament law, his expiation for sin on the cross, and his resurrection from the dead. A church that does not uphold that, ought to be discountenanced and disfellowshipped as a church. That is the purport of John's testimony. (See 1 John 4:1-3.)


2. "Justified in the Spirit." Does the Spirit here mean Christ's own human spirit, or the Holy Spirit? The revisers evidently understood it to mean Christ's human spirit as contrasted with his flesh – manifested in the flesh and justified in his spirit. Their contention is based upon the absence of the article before "Spirit" and the apparent parallels between "flesh and spirit." The "Cambridge Bible" thus paraphrases to bring out the rhythmical effects of the several pairs in the verse:
Who in flesh was manifested, Pure in spirit was attested; By angels' vision witnessed, Among the nations heralded; By faith accepted here, Received in glory there.


This presentation is grammatical, plausible, and strong. If it be the right interpretation, the sense of "justified in spirit" would be that because sinless in his inner man, and because none were able to convict him of sin, he was justified or acquitted on his own personal life.


But the author prefers, as more in consonance with the line of thought and far more feasible, to understand it to refer to the Holy Spirit. The line of thought would then be:


1. God assumed human nature in his incarnation for the salvation of men.


2. In this incarnation the Holy Spirit justified or vindicated his Deity and its claims.


3. The angels recognized the Deity in the flesh.


4. As God in the flesh he was proclaimed to all nations.


5. Wherever thus proclaimed and attested he was accepted by faith, i.e., the truth so proclaimed and attested was credible.


6. The Father's reception of him into glory after his resurrection was a demonstration of his Deity in the flesh and a vindication of all his claims while in the flesh.


Here we have one great proposition embodying a mystery, God was incarnated, supported by five successive evidences: The attestation of the Holy Spirit; the recognition by angels who had known him before his incarnation; the fact of its publication to all nations; the credibility of the publication, evidenced by the fact that men all over the world believed it, and the Father endorsed it all by receiving him into original glory and crowning him Lord of all.


There mere rhythm of the parallel, proverb style can never be equal in force to this line of thought. The insistence on making "spirit" mean "his human spirit" – not only is redundant and tautological, since a human spirit is already stated in his being made flesh – flesh meaning full human nature – but in a similar construction, 1 Peter 3:18-19, such interpretation teaches most awful heresy and indefensible foolishness. Therefore, I totally dissent from the thought of the revisers. It means that when God was manifested in the flesh, he, so manifested, was vindicated – justified by the Holy Spirit. If the reader asks when did the Holy Spirit justify the Deity in his incarnation, my answer is:


(1) At his baptism. Nobody could otherwise know that he was the Christ. John the Baptist could not, except by certain action of the Holy Spirit. "I knew him not," said John, "but he that sent me to baptize gave me this sign: Upon whom thou shall see the Spirit of God descend, he is the Messiah." And so at the baptism of Jesus Christ, as he came up out of the water, he prayed that this demonstration might take place – and in the form of a dove the Holy Spirit descended and rested upon him. Unenlightened men who looked at him in his humanity would say, "This is no God. This is Joseph's son; we know his brothers and sisters." But the Holy Spirit vindicated him in that manifestation; justified him, as did also the Father's voice: "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."


(2) If the reader again asks me how next the Holy Spirit justified him, I will say that all his teachings and miracles were by the Spirit resting on him without measure.


(3) The sacrifice he made in his body for the sing of the world was through the Holy Spirit. When he made that sacrifice, according to the letter to the Hebrews, that offering was through the eternal Spirit. If man counts not that a sacrifice, the Holy Spirit did.


(4) In raising his body from the dead. They had denied his messiahship and his divinity, and demanded a sign to prove it. The sign was that God would raise him from the dead on the third day, and according to this apostle in another connection: "He was declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead, even Jesus Christ our Lord" (Rom. 1:4).


(5) Now, the fifth way that he was justified by the Holy Spirit was in the descent of the Spirit at Pentecost to accredit and give power to the church whose mission was to proclaim this truth. This was the promise and the sign without whose fulfilment the church dare not preach that mystery. The coming of another Paraclete to abide with them till the return of the absent Lord, was the supreme justification of their preaching that God was manifested in the flesh. See John 14:16-18; 14:26; 15:26; 16:7-10, 13-15; Acts 1:4-5, 8.


And so on the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came down and the church was baptized in that Spirit, that was his vindication.


Let's restate the five points in which the Spirit justified him:


First, in his baptism.


Second, through whom all his teachings and miracles were wrought.


Third, in offering himself for sin.


Fourth, in raising him from the dead.


Fifth, in his coming on the day of Pentecost to abide with the church until his final advent.


That is the second element of the truth the church must ever uphold. Let us see the third element.


He was seen by angels. Men heard with indifference that a babe was born at Bethlehem. Nobody would pay any attention to such an incident as that. That babe surely was not God. But the angels who knew him up yonder in heaven recognized him in his incarnation. The flesh could not veil him from their sight. But when did the angels so recognize him? When did he have their attestation of the Godhead in his humanity?


Go back to that announcement to the shepherds, where they told the shepherds that unto the world was born a Prince and Saviour, who is Christ the Lord, and that this would be the sign: they would find a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. They recognized him there.


When else did they recognize him? Just after his baptism, when he was tempted of the devil. As the first Adam was tempted, so the Second Adam was now tempted, and after triumphing in that temptation the angels recognized him, and came and ministered unto him.


The third time was when he was in the garden of Gethsemane, going there in anticipation of the awful horrors of death, as a malefactor at the hands of man; death, as a sinner at the hands of God; death, in passing into the power of Satan. When he triumphed in that temptation the angels came and ministered unto him.


And the angels will further bear witness to him when he comes to judge the world. They will come in execution of the divine will in gathering his elect, and in gathering up the tares to be burned. Man may see no divinity in that Babe of Bethlehem, but the angels recognized him, and I may add that the devil recognized him, and all the evil angels. Whatever infidelity may have existed in the minds of Pharisee or Sadducee, the evil angels made no mistake. On one occasion. they said to him: "We know thee, who thou art, thou Holy One of God." The next element of this truth is a universal gospel, to be preached among all nations. This appears from the Great Commission – Matthew 28:16-20; Mark 16:15-20; Luke 24:46-47; John 20:22-23; Colossians 1:23.


This commission was not limited to Jews: "Go ye unto all the world and preach the gospel to every creature." "Make disciples of all nations." That preaching was done in Paul's time. He said the gospel was preached unto every creature under heaven, and it has been done since, generation by generation. We are doing it now. We do not limit our missionary work to America. We go to Mexicans. Brazilians, Italians, the Chinese, the Japanese, the Russians, the Germans, and the Swedes, telling them how God was manifested in the flesh, was justified by the Holy Spirit, and so manifested he was recognized by angels. That is the theme of universal preaching. That this truth was believed appears from the history of its preaching.


Three thousand Jews were converted at Pentecost, and before the close of that big meeting near unto 144,000 Jews were converted. Some of the Jerusalem sinners believed on him. His great persecutor, Saul of Tarsus, believed on him. Then his gospel was carried to heathen Antioch, Asia Minor, Greece, Rome, the ends of the earth, and wherever this gospel has been faithfully preached it has been accepted and believed. It is not a gospel of empty sound. That is an element of the truth that the church is to uphold. That Jesus was received up into glory appears from this vision of him there by Stephen, Paul, and John.


But we need not go back to Pentecost and apostolic times for proof. Nor need we rely on persistent monumental evidences – baptism, the Lord's Supper, the Lord's Day. Fresh evidences abound now, and we are his witnesses. If Jesus be now alive in glory he can now manifest that life. The continued work of the Holy Spirit in the call of preachers, in regenerating and sanctifying sinners, attests it. Every new convert has the witness in himself. Every prayer heard, every sad heart comforted, attests it. It is just as credible now as when first preached, and its saving power as evident.


My old-time teacher in Latin and Greek became an infidel. Our personal friendship continued till his death. He said to me once: "I like to hear you. You always interest me, but what you preach about the incarnation, its miracles, its vicarious expiation, cannot be believed. It is unscientific and therefore incredible." I replied, "Doctor, I oppose your dogmatic affirmation, not by argument, but by the fact that it is believed, and has been believed wheresoever in the world it has been preached. Earth's noblest, best, and wisest have believed it. Washington, Gladstone, Lee, Jackson, Chief Justice Marshall believed it. Your own mother believed it. Greenleaf, the greatest international authority on the Law of Evidence, declares it legally provable and proved. Whenever it is hid, it is hidden to those who are spiritually blind. The difficulty in its acceptance is not intellectual, but an alienation of heart from God."


That is one of the things the church ought to uphold, one of the truths concerning godliness; that when he is preached to the world he will be believed, he will be accepted.


It has been said, if this mystery of godliness be so credible, why do not Jews, his own people, accept it? The answer is (1) Many of them did accept it. (2) Some of them now accept it. (3) In later days all of them will accept it.


Paul explains why some of them rejected it then, and most of them now reject it (2 Cor. 3:15-16; Rom. 11:7, 10, 25).


He foretells when and how the whole nation will one day accept it (Rom. 11:11-12, 26). In this he agrees with their ancient prophets (Isa. 66:7-8; Ezek. 36-37; Zech. 12:8 to 13:1).


Let us look at the sixth-element: "Received up in glory." If God had not received him, all of his claims would have been set aside; but the record tells us that the last time the disciples saw him he was going up into the clouds. A prophetic psalm tells us what happened as he approached heaven, shouting: "Lift up your heads, oh ye gates; and be ye lifted up, ye everlasting doors, and the King of glory will come in. Who is this King of glory? I, the Lord, mighty to save." And when he was received up into glory, the test he gave them that he would be received was the descending of the Holy Spirit. The point is just this: If Jesus was raised from the dead and ascended up into heaven, he is alive now. That is what he says: "I am he that was dead but am alive." If Jesus is alive he can right now manifest that life just as well as when he was alive and walking the streets of Jerusalem. Arguments on a monument are very poor things when compared with arguments based upon present evidences that Christ, the living God, is King of kings and Lord of lords.


Paul, elsewhere, gives summaries of the truths that the church is to uphold, some of them very much like this. For instance, in Romans, "It is Christ that died, he is risen again, he is exalted to the right hand of the Majesty on high, he ever liveth to make intercession for us," or as he puts it in another passage: "I delivered unto you that which I also received; how that Christ died for our sins, according to the scriptures and that he was buried and that he is risen, and that he was recognized when raised." But these six elements here are limited to the mystery of godliness.

 

QUESTIONS

 

1. Upon what is based the contention that there now exists a universal church?

 

2. How does this passage written concerning the church at Ephesus and Paul's previous address to the Ephesian elders at Miletus (Acts 20) disprove it?

 

3. What the meaning of "behave themselves" in verse 15?

 

4. On what three reasons is the exhortation to "behave" in the church assembly based and what the force of the first?

 

5. Prove the second from the letter to the Ephesians.

 

6. Explain "pillar and ground" in the third.

 

7. What would be the result if there were no church to uphold the truth?

 

8. In what four ways does the church uphold it?

 

9. What the one great truth the church must uphold?

 

10. What the six elements of the mystery of godliness?

 

11. How much is included in the first element, "God was manifested in the flesh"?

 

12. What the testimony of John on this point?

 

13. What should be our attitude toward a man or a so-called church denying this truth?

 

14. In the second element "justified in Spirit" what the controversy?

 

15. Give the argument and paraphrase supporting the view that it means Christ's human spirit and 'then the meaning of the phrase.

 

16. Give the author's line of thought in support of the contention that it means the Holy Spirit.

 

17. Where do we find a similar construction and what heresy and foolishness result from making "spirit" in that connection mean "Christ's human spirit"?

 

18. If the author's contention be right when did the Holy Spirit justify God incarnate?

 

19. Explain "seen of angels" and its bearing on the line of thought.

 

20. When this recognition by angels?

 

21. Cite proof that the devil and his demons recognized God in the flesh.

 

22. On what three occasions did Satan himself assail God in the flesh and what the result in each case?

 

23. What proof in the next chapter that the demons fight this truth?

 

24. Where do we find embodied the next element – a universal gospel?

 

25. What the historic evidence of the next element, "believed on in the world"?

 

26. What the monumental proof?

 

27. What the proof of today?

 

28. Relate the incident in this connection concerning the author's infidel friend.

 

29. Where the only difficulty in its universal acceptance?

 

30. If it be incredible to any what the cause? Quote Paul.

 

31. Why do not Jews believe it? Quote Paul.

 

32. When will they believe it? Quote Paul and cite the prophets.

 

 

VI

 

(Return to Contents)

 

THE MYSTERY OF LAWLESSNESS. A GOOD MINISTER OF JESUS CHRIST

1 Timothy 4:1-16

 

 

Our last discussion considered the church of the living God, upholding the mystery of godliness. This chapter commences with a view of the synagogue of Satan, upholding the mystery of lawlessness. God's intervention was a mystery. Satan's intervention was a mystery. Both a mystery because super" natural. The two mysteries are in opposition – the one working to man's salvation – the other to man's damnation. Both propagated by human agency; both, a fulfilment of prophecy 4:1 "But": This conjunction teaches that what follows is not in line with the foregoing, but in opposition.


4:1 – "The Spirit saith" may mean either "hath said" in a former revelation, or "now saith" by inspiration of the apostle writing. In this case it is both. That constant inspiration rested on the apostle appears from Acts 20:23:"The Holy Spirit testifieth unto me in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me." So we are not necessitated to find that what the Spirit here said is a quotation from a previous record. In fact, however, the substance of it, and more besides, appears in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-12.


Here we find that a great apostasy and the revelation of the man of sin must precede the final advent of our Lord; that this apostasy is a "mystery of lawlessness" already commencing to work; that Satan is back of it; that just before the final advent he will incarnate himself in the man of sin, accrediting him with miracles, "power, signs, and wonders," intended to create a lying impression, working a delusion with all deceit in unrighteousness in them that perish; that God permits this subjection to Satan because they received not the love of the truth. All of which is in accord with our lesson and the later testimony of Peter (2 Peter 3:1-4) and of John (1 John 4:1-3).


4:1 – "Some shall fall away from the faith." This is apostasy, not from personal faith, but from "the faith" – the truth embodied in the mystery of godliness.


4:1 – "Giving heed to seducing spirits." These spirits are demons, Satan's evil angels.


4:1 – "Doctrines of demons." As the mystery of godliness was embodied in doctrines considered in last chapter, so the mystery of lawlessness is embodied in doctrines, some of which are to be named here, and others elsewhere.


4:2 – "Through the hypocrisy of men that speak lies, branded in their own consciences as with a hot iron." On this sentence note:


(1) As the mystery of godliness is propagated through human agents under the influence of the Holy Spirit, so the mystery of lawlessness is propagated through human agents under the influence of Satan.


(2) Over against the "good minister of Jesus Christ" (4:6-16), we have here the character of the evil minister of Satan:


(a) They received not the love of the truth;


(b) They are hypocrites;


(c) They have Satan's brand on their consciences, as Paul bore the mark or brand of Jesus;


(d) They teach lies;


(e) They are God-abandoned to a delusion of Satan that they may perish.


What then are the "doctrines of demons" that embody this mystery of lawlessness?


4:3 – "Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by them that believe and know the truth." So far as this scripture testifies, these doctrines consist of one prohibition: "Forbidding to marry," and of one command; "To abstain from meats.” Both are tenets of the Gnostic philosophy condemned in all the later New Testament books, and to which so much attention is devoted in John's Gospel and in the letters of the first Roman imprisonment, and which abound in the letters of Peter and Jude and Revelation.


The theory of both the prohibition and the command is based on the heresy that sin is limited to matter, residing in the body alone, and so by ignoring sexual relations, and restricting food to a vegetable diet, the body may be kept in subjection and sin avoided. It is the doctrine of celibacy and asceticism, and is responsible for all hermits, whether heathen or Christian, that seek escape from sin in isolation from one's fellows, and is the father of monasteries and the mother of nunneries. It is the doctrine of Buddha and the Papacy. It opposes the gospel teaching that sin is of the inner man – "apart from the body" – and consists of spirit alienation of mind and heart from God. Envy, malice, jealousy, lying, stealing, blasphemy, pride, vanity, slander, idleness, selfishness, and the like, are sins. These proceed from the inner man. To eat meat on Friday is not a sin. To marry, multiply and populate the earth and subdue it was the original commission of man in innocence. The very depths of Satan are disclosed in making that to be sin which is not sin, and in making that to be righteousness which is sin. And especially is this doctrine deadly in the assault on the gospel teaching that marriage is honorable in all. In the beginning of time the Father instituted it, in the fulness of time the Son honored it with his presence, in the end of time the Holy Spirit sanctifies it by bestowing its name on the relation eternally subsisting between Christ and his church. No idle hermit in his cave, no ascetic monk in his cell, no nun in her convent can bar out sin which resides in the spirit.


The prayer of Jesus was: "I pray not that thou shouldest take them from the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil one." External barriers do not keep out the evil one. He can enter wherever atmosphere enters. Experiment may show what diet in particular cases promotes physical health. Let each one eat the food, whether vegetable or animal, which in his own case is promotive of a sound body. Says this section: "Meats which God created to be received with thanksgiving by them that believed and knew the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it be received with thanksgiving, for it is sanctified through the word of God and prayer." The temporary, symbolic distinction of the Mosaic law between "clean and unclean meats" was nailed to the cross of Christ. Therefore says our apostle elsewhere: "Let no man judge you in meats and drinks," and particularly pertinent are his words: "If ye died with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, do ye subject yourselves to ordinances: handle not, nor taste, nor touch – all things are to perish with the using – after the precepts and doctrines of men? Which things have indeed a show of wisdom in will, worship, and humility, and severity to the body, but are not of any value against the indulgence of the flesh."

 

A GOOD MINISTER OF JESUS CHRIST (4:6-16)


We have just considered on 4:2 the evil minister of Satan, and now sketch on opposite canvass, in salient strokes, the outline of a good minister of our Lord.


1. The matter of his preaching.


(1) Positively, having been himself nourished in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine, of the mystery of godliness, he puts the brethren in mind of them.


(2) Negatively, he refuses to teach profane and old wives' fables. Here we have "fables" opposed to revelations from God. These fables are the lies spoken by the hypocritical, conscience-seared ministers of evil; they are doctrines inspired by seducing demons, and hence profane, irreverent, godless. From Titus 1:14 it appears that these fables were of Jewish origin, "commandments of men" that make void the word of God. They are further characterized as the fables of old wives. This alludes to the fact that there are certain women among the ministry of Satan, and suggests another form of Gnosticism – unbridled license – equally derived with asceticism from the one root heresy that sin resides only in the body and as the body perishes without a resurrection, it made no difference of what uses it was made an instrument. In the next letter to Timothy these teachers are thus described: "Holding a form of godliness, but having denied the power thereof: from these also turn away. For of these are they that creep into houses and take captive silly women laden with sins, led away by divers lusts, ever learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. And even as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also withstand the truth; men corrupted in mind, reprobate concerning the faith" (2 Tim. 3:5-8).


The phrase "old wives," however, does not refer to corrupt women who are willing victims of these evil ministers of Satan, but to godless old women themselves teachers of fables. They are of the class who deal in palmistry, magic, or other methods of fortune telling, gathering their herbs for love philters, or other materials for working charms, and brewing their potions with incantations, somewhat after the method of the three hags in Macbeth.


Edward Eggleston, in The Hoosier Schoolmaster, gives a fitting description of one of these old "grannies" that filled a neighborhood with evil superstitions. I myself knew one who wrought serious evil in several families by persuading the wives that marriage was an evil institution, thus bringing about separations that wrecked homes and scattered children.


2. His athletics in teaching and practice. While not underestimating physical athletics, he stresses rather spiritual athletics. He concedes some profit in physical training. "Bodily exercise is profitable for a little in this life." But his ideal man is not a winner in the Olympic Games, in the Ephesian Amphitheatre, in prize rings, ball games, or foot races, or boat races. His heroes are not gladiators. As elsewhere in many of his letters he uses the exploits and activities of the outer man athlete as images of a spiritual race course or gymnasium, because exercise in godliness has the promise of both this life and the life to come.


The saying which gives the greater glory to spiritual exercise is not only a "faithful one," but "worthy of all acceptation." He is indeed a good minister of Jesus who can develop among Christian people an enthusiasm for spiritual culture that will equal the world's enthusiasm for physical athletics. John Bunyan on this line, in his Heavenly Footman and Pilgrim's Progress, not only won a tablet in Westminster Abbey but is heard today in all the languages of the world, and welcomed in all its homes. Without endorsement of some of their teachings, the author rejoices to honor John Wesley and Savonarola in their great reformations toward "exercising unto godliness." Nor does he hesitate to say that John Wesley's class in spiritual athletics has not only conferred more honor upon Oxford University than all its boat clubs and ball teams, but its enthusiasm has fired the Western continent and awakened myriads to "strive unto holiness." A good minister "labors and strives to this end, because he has his hope set on the living God who is the Saviour of all men, especially of them that believe." That preacher's doctrine is defective and his ministry narrow and barren who stops at election, predestination, and justification, and ignores the salvation in us – sanctification developing the life given in regeneration – and has no heart and hopefulness in preaching a universal gospel.


3. His own example:


(1) In himself heartily believing, without wavering, the vital doctrines of the faith. Loose views on any fundamental doctrine should forever bar a man from the ministry. That presbytery is itself disreputable and disloyal that lays the hands of ordination on a man who has loose views on the incarnation, the vicarious expiation, the resurrection, the exaltation, and intercession of our Lord, and upon the inspiration of the Holy Scriptures, and upon the necessity of regeneration and sanctification.


(2) In character and life: "Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an ensample to them that believe in word, in manner of life, in love, in faith, in purity" (1 Tim. 4:12).


(3) In diligent study and practice: "Till I come, give heed to reading, to exhortation, to teaching" (1 Tim. 4:13). "Be diligent in these things; give thyself wholly to them, that thy progress may be manifest to all" (1 Tim. 4:15).


(4) In stirring up by exercise any spiritual gift: "Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery" (1 Tim. 4:14).


In Timothy's own case a prophecy went before – by Paul. Silas, or some other prophet – that a great gift of the Spirit would rest on him, and it did come on him as the hands of ordination touched his head. Indeed, the laying on of hands symbolizes the imparting of Spirit power as appears from Acts 8:17; 19:6. On these two passages in Acts, with Hebrews 6:2, the Six Principles Baptists always followed baptism with a laying on of hands, and strangely enough Episcopalians, founded on the same passages the rite of Confirmation by the laying on of the hands of their bishop.


As illustration of (2) above, I may allude to a warning I once gave to a spoiled boy preacher: "My boy, you are in great danger. You have been complimented so much for the fire of your offhand, maiden sermons you have quit studying. You have no library and do not read. You have already contracted the habit of relying on preaching over your first dozen revival sermons. Such a habit calls for a wide range of ever-changing pasturage. The first time such a sermon is a juicy roast, next time it is only warmed over, next time it is hash, next time it is soup out of the bones. Soon these sermons that once warmed your heart will no longer taste well, not even in your own mouth, and then you may be sure they do not taste well to the congregation. The spiritual stomach, as well as the physical, calls for freshness, variety, and change in the food served. When this stage of nonappreciation in your hearers arrives, you have to move on to another field; you soon will acquire the reputation of not being able to hold any field long. When your family increases you will find that 'three moves are equal to a burn.' Then will you become sore and soured in spirit, and doomed to join the murmurers, complainers, and kickers – you will be avoided as 'the man with a grievance.' "


I am sorry to say my foreboding in his case came to pass. I solemnly warn young preachers against mental and spiritual laziness. The unused gift or faculty, whether natural or spiritual, goes into paralysis and bankruptcy. When a stream ceases to flow it stagnates. Even the waters of Ezekiel's River of Life that became sidetracked into basins of stillness became only salt marshes. When a tree ceases to grow, it begins to die. When a farmer does not take in new ground and put out his fences, the bushes and briers in his fence corners require him to move in his fences. We must give attention to study to enlarge our stock of preaching material. We can't always preach on the first principles. Besides, it is robbing the churches.


I believe it was Booker T. Washington who tells the story of his rebuke of a Negro church for violation of contract in not paying their pastor, and how completely he was silenced by a remark of one of the sturdy members: "We done paid for them sermons last year."


Moreover, I warn again that to secure novelty and freshness, we do not need to turn to that crassest and most unprofitable of sensationalism – hat goes out of the record for pulpit themes. Leave that to worldly lecturers. The Bible is an inexhaustible mine to the student delver and all the student preachers of the world, generation by generation, may let down their little buckets into the wells of salvation without fear of lowering the waterline. "Save thyself and thy hearers."

 

QUESTIONS

 

1. How is the last paragraph of 1 Timothy 3 contrasted with the first paragraph of chapter 4?

 

2. Why in both cases a mystery and through whom each propagated and was each foretold?

 

3. What conjunction suggests the oppositions between, the two mysteries?

 

4. "The Spirit saith." Does that mean "now saith" or "hath said" or both?

 

5. Show how 2 Thessalonians 2:3-12 contains the substance of the present saying of the Spirit and with what subsequent writings it ac- cords.

 

6. The meaning of "falling away from the faith"?

 

7. Who the "seducing spirits" of 4:1 and how their seductions embodied?

 

8. On 4:2 answer: (1) What agents propagate the "doctrines of demons"? (2) Their characteristics? (3) With whom in this chapter contrasted?

 

9. So far as this context extends what the doctrines of demons?

 

10. What philosophy inculcated both and what books of New Testament discuss the philosophy and where did it originate?

 

11. On what heresy is the theory of these doctrines based and what evils resulted from it and in what two religions are they embodied?

 

12. Show how an attack on the honor and sanctity of marriage and a teaching that isolates one from his kind controverts the mission of man as a race and the teaching of both Testaments.

 

13. What regimen of diet should each individual follow?

 

14. Show how the gospel abrogates the temporary and symbolic distinction between "clean" and "unclean" animals for food and  characterizes present prohibitions thereon.

 

15. With whom is the "good minister of Jesus Christ" in 4:6-16 contrasted?

 

16. Gather up from the paragraph what should be the matter, negative and positive, of the "good minister's preaching."

 

17. What one word characterizes the negative matter of preaching –  to what is it opposed – and why the descriptive "profane," and what means the other descriptive "old wives"?

 

18. Show from Titus the natural origin of the "fables" in question.

 

19. How does the one heresy, sin resident only in matter – in body – teach two opposing evils – asceticism and isolation from one's fellows on the part of some and unbridled license ill association with one's kind on the part of others?

 

20. Where the heresy tends to unbridled license give the apostle's description of its subjects in the second letter to Timothy.

 

21. Give in description and illustration the "old wives" who teach vicious superstitions adverse to gospel revelation.

 

22. What the second element of a good minister of Jesus Christ and what his attitude toward physical athletics?

 

23. Is it possible to develop an enthusiasm for spiritual athletics equal to the world's enthusiasm for physical athletics?

 

24. On this point what said the author concerning John Bunyan and John Wesley?

 

25. What may you say of a preacher's doctrine and ministry whose preaching and life stops at election, predestination, and justification ignoring the salvation in us through sanctification's development of the life in regeneration and ignoring a universal gospel?

 

26. What the third element in a good minister and what the particulars in which this element is exhibited?

 

27. What the incident given by the author bearing on the third particular, i.e., the necessity of study? Cite the Booker T. Washington incident.

 

28. According to what and through what was a special spiritual gift conferred on Timothy?

 

29. What does "the laying on of hands" symbolize?

 

30. Show what use the Six Principles Baptists and the Episcopalians make of 1 Timothy 4:14 in conjunction with Acts 8:17; 19:6; and Hebrews 6:2.

 

31. What follows the neglect to stir up by exercise a natural or spiritual gift and how did the author illustrate it?

 

32. To what should a preacher not turn to satisfy the natural craving for freshness, variety, and progress and why is this resort not necessary?

 

 

VII

 

(Return to Contents)

 

THE ADMINISTRATION OF INTERNAL CHURCH AFFAIRS

1 Timothy 5:l-25

 


In this chapter and the next we consider the administration of internal church affairs:


1. How to deal with the different classes of unofficial offending members (5:1-2).


2. How to administer church pensions to widows (5:3-16) and to aged ministers (5:17-18).


3. How to treat offending elders – that is preachers (5:1921).


4. Why there should be care in ordaining preachers (5:22, 24-25).


5. Slaves and masters (6:1-2).


6. Heterodox teachers in practical religion (6:3-8).


7. The rich (6:9-10, 17-19).


8. Quadruple charge to Timothy or the Law of Administration (5:21,23; 6:11-16; 6:20-21).


5:1: "Do not reprimand an elderly man, but exhort him as a father; the younger men as brethren; the elder women as mothers; the youngest as sisters, in all purity."


Whoever has charge of a church will sometimes see in the conduct of old men, old women, young men, and young women things that are not exactly right, and will wonder how to deal in judicious discrimination with these cases, especially if he is a young man, as Timothy was. This direction solves the problem: "Do not reprimand, but appeal to the elderly man as a father, to the elder women as mothers, deal with the young men as brothers, with the young women as sisters." This is capital advice to young pastors.


The young preacher, perhaps not much more than a boy, who gets up into the pulpit with the air of a lord and hurls Jupiter's thunderbolts, knocking down an old man here, an old woman there, a young man here, and a young woman yonder, had as well quit. This does not mean that we are to be silent when wrong exists. There is a way to get at it judiciously, and the text enjoins the right way. We should not let people get the idea that we are "pulpit tyrants" or "bosses."


Pensioning of widows by the church. This matter extends from the third verse down to the sixteenth verse inclusive, and refers to a list of widow pensioners to be supported by the church. The Anglican Church and the Romanists try to make this out an order of women devoted to celibacy, but there is nothing in the text to indicate such a thing. It is simply a list of those "widows indeed" dependent on the church for support. The Mosaic law, in Deuteronomy, is very broad concerning the caring for widows and orphans, and in the New Testament special emphasis is laid on it.


In Acts 6 we have our first church history on the subject. When they had things in common, selling their possessions and turning the proceeds into a common fund, which was distributed daily, a complaint arose among the Hellenist Jews that their widows were being neglected. Let us keep that passage in mind as we study this.


We are now to consider the important question: What women are entitled to be supported by the church? "Honor widows that are widows indeed." But who are widows indeed, must be very carefully determined. The apostle defines negatively and positively:


1. Not one who has children or grandchildren able to take care of her. They are lacking in piety if they allow the older people of their family to suffer or to become a burden on the church. In a community like Ephesus, where the number of Christians was so vast, and where there was such a large proportion of the poorer class of people, the list of pensioners on a church would be large in any event. It was necessary in order not to overburden the church, not to allow on this list any widow who has a child or grandchild living able to support her. Again in verse 16 we find an enlargement of the restriction: "If any woman that believeth hath widows, let her relieve them, and let not the church be burdened; that it may relieve them that are widows indeed."


So, if there be relatives of even a remoter degree who are able to take care of their older kindred, then the church ought not to be burdened, and they ought to be made, if members of the church, to do their duty, because "whosoever will not provide for his own has denied the faith and is worse than an infidel." It is to the lasting credit of some men that just as long as they live they exercised deference, patience, and love toward their parents.


There is a further restriction in age. How old must this widow be? She must be sixty years old in order to be received as a regular pensioner of the church. Of course, this does not mean that some widows younger than that may not be in need of ordinary charity. But when we make out our pension list of those who are to be regularly supported by the church, we are as a rule to suppose that women under that age can probably take care of themselves. Again, of course, this would not exclude special cases of ordinary charity; say a crippled or a blind woman, however young. The apostle is discussing the general rule of charity which has no regard to age or worthiness. The age restriction for pensions is thus expressed negatively: "But the younger widows refuse, for when they have waxed wanton against Christ, they desire to marry." That implies marrying out of the faith, because soon he exhorts them to marry. If these younger widows are supported they will be idle when able to work, and will likely go about from house to house, and having no employment become busybodies and gossipers.


If, as a rule, every widow is to be supported by the church, we may have, as pensioners, young women with nothing to do, whose very youth, with its vitality and restlessness may make them busy in wrong things. Paul was a wise old man, and he was an inspired old man. He says, "I desire that the younger widows marry, bear children, rule the household." When a woman is sixty years old she is not apt to marry again either in or out of the faith.


He now defines positively: "She must be desolate." Like a single tree left of a grove, all its comrades cut down by the unsparing ax and this lone survivor scarred and riven with lightning bolts, stripped of boughs and foliage by passing storms.


The definition is yet more restrictive: She must have a good record, "having been the wife of one man," that is, not having two husbands at one time. "Well reported of for her good works; if she has brought up children, if she has used hospitality to strangers, if she has washed the saints' feet [mentioned among the good works, showing that it is a good individual work and not a church ordinance], if she has relieved the afflicted, if she has diligently followed every good work."


He does not mean that every woman on the list shall have every one of these qualifications, but these rules define the requisite record. If a woman be received as a pensioner whose life has been a reproach, somebody in the church will be sure to question the justice of her title to support. Paul is directing here a sane, safe way to guard the church from reproach, and yet allow no neglect of duty.


There is even yet something to be considered: What are her spiritual habits? "She that is a widow indeed and desolate, and hath her hopes set on God, and continueth in supplications and prayers day and night." A genuine Christian, an old woman by herself, no relatives, no property, but with her hope in God, and devoting the remnant of her earthly life to prayer and supplications. Nobody will object to helping her because she has merited the pension, but she must be really desolate and needy and worthy.


And again, negatively: "But she who giveth herself to pleasure is dead while she liveth." There are many old women, who, though old, devote their lives to pleasure and not to God's service. Paul says that sort of a woman is dead while she lives.


If we were in the French Capital today, we might see old women affecting to be young women, and acting as if they were about twenty-five years old, and so made up as to appear to be girls, face painted or enameled, hair fluffed and curled, outline supplied by the milliner, altogether devoting their lives to social pleasures, going from one soiree to another, from one reception to another, living without God, or without a thought of God. So, in Shakespeare, Hamlet regards his mother. Holding up the ghastly skull of the jester, Yorick, he says to his friend Horatio: "Go and tell my lady that though she paint an inch thick, yet to this favor will she come at last."


While this fund of the church must be administered judiciously, so as not to encourage idleness, not to include in its list one likely to bring reproach on the cause, yet it is a shame to a church to neglect its truly desolate, helpless, and worthy members. This pension list of the church, whether relating as we have just seen to widows, or as we shall next see to preachers, must be distinguished from ordinary charity. This is compensation for service rendered and hence must regard worthiness, while ordinary charity only regards human need no matter what the reason. This is like a government caring for worn out or crippled sailors and soldiers.


Pensioning superannuated preachers. Verse 17: "Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and in the teaching." The "double honor" referred to here is more than the respect to be accorded to these venerable, worn-out preachers. The Greek word time here rendered "honor" is the word used to express the wages of soldiers. That it has that meaning here is evident, not only from the matter under consideration, awarding a pension support, but also from the pertinent quotations which follow: "Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn," and "the laborer is worthy of his hire."


Our Presbyterian brethren are mistaken in supposing that this passage teaches a distinction between two different offices in the church, to wit: teaching elders who are preachers. and ruling elders not preachers who have the general administration of church affairs. It is true there might be many elders – preachers – in one church, all of them teachers, but only one of them the pastor, a ruler. The distinction between the amount of the pension accorded by a particular church, would be based on the degree of the service rendered. Many of them might have done their teaching elsewhere. They may indeed have been rulers over the smaller churches they served as pastors. But their membership in this particular church puts them within its care. If they have been distinguished as rulers and have taught that particular church, their pension should be larger.


Churches, if honest, will fairly compensate their preachers who labor in word and in doctrine, devoting their lives to the service of God. Timothy is there as Paul's delegate, standing in the place of Paul, as Paul stood in the place of Jesus Christ. How reproachful to churches when faithful superannuated men of God are not only shelved with disrespect, but robbed of their wages. The cases are shamefully numerous of men who, without thought of themselves, devote their lives unselfishly to the work of God, and then in old age are laid on the shelf even when they want to work and are still capable of working. Many churches are guilty, just here, to their shame. A preacher of that kind has earned a living and it must be accorded to him, not as charity, but as wages for his labor. A church that will grind its pastor down to fine powder, and force him to live under conditions that will keep him from rendering his best service, sins against God and will be held to account. There are some ''freeze-out churches" among the Baptists, which takes a man in and uses up his life, and when their debt to him for salary is large they begin to find fault with him and finally rudely send him off to get another to be treated the same way. It is a dishonorable method of paying debts.


I knew one preacher who positively refused to take charge of a church in debt to its former pastor. One of his questions when called was this: "Do you owe your former pastor anything?" "Well, you see, our former pastor had faults." "But do you owe him anything?" "Yes." "Pay him, and I will talk to you." This preacher was John S. Alien.


The next thing is: "Receive not an accusation against an elder, except at the mouth of two or three witnesses." If that rule were followed strictly, many needless scandals and troubles in churches would be avoided. It is such an easy thing to call a man off and whisper, "Don't say anything about this, but I want to tell you something about our pastor." We should stop the whisperer at once: "Are you about to tell me something against the pastor? If so, do you know it to be true, or are you proposing to circulate a hearsay? If you know it to be true, can you furnish the corroborative testimony of other witnesses? And will you and the other witnesses go with me now and tell what you know to the pastor himself, face to face, giving him an opportunity to meet the accusation?" The whisperer will be apt to reply: "Oh, no! I don't know anything myself. I have heard so and so." Thus we not only silence the whisperer, but we save ourselves from becoming a partaker of his sin. The necessity for this rule, in all cases, is more emphasized in the case of a preacher, whose reputation is a large part of his capital.


I had a remarkable experience on this line. I went to a certain church to help in a meeting, and noticed one man who kept praising my preaching ad nauseam, while others looked sad when they heard him. After a while he came to me and wanted to put me up against some members of the church, and especially against the pastor. I said, "Look here; you don't know whom you are talking to. I came here to help, not to harm this pastor. I won't hold a meeting to hurt a pastor. If you have any accusations or complaints to make, and if you can bring two or three witnesses, let us go before the pastor himself and then if necessary before the church and fairly investigate this matter before we go on with the meeting." That sawed him off and he never praised my preaching any more.


It is shameful the way good, God-fearing men are slandered by irresponsible reports against them. Bring the accuser to task and make him come out in the open and give his corroborative evidence, and allow the accused a chance to answer.


Timothy is there in Ephesus, a great city with many thousands of church members, and many preachers. He is there in an apostle's stead, and from all over the country some people, if encouraged, will be bringing him private word about some of the preachers. Paul says, "Don't receive an accusation against an elder except at the mouth of two or three witnesses." The Mosaic law went further: If a charge was made and not sustained, the perjurer received the punishment that the accused would have received if found guilty. Such a restriction puts a brake on the slanderer's tongue. When we thus hold a man responsible for what he says he is not so ready to talk about people.


The next thing about the elder: "Them that sin, reprove in the sight of all, that the rest may also be in fear." I must call attention to the original word here, which means, sin continually, habitually. Some preachers do sin, and keep on sinning, and do not try to stop. This is not like the case in the beginning of the chapter where an elderly man must be reprimanded. In this case, reprove him in the sight of all. We should not denounce him privately, but make our reproof in the open church, as Paul did Peter at Antioch. We should speak right out: "Here is a man in the ministry who sins and keeps on sinning, and there is no indication that he is going to stop." Let the rebuke be sharp and definite. If the public reprimand does not stop him, withdraw fellowship from him and take away his credentials.


The last item about the elder is found in verse 22: "Lay hands hastily on no man, neither be partakers of other men's sins: keep thyself pure." The last clause needs exposition. I heard one of the most noted Baptist preachers in Texas preach on that text, "keep thyself pure," and he never touched the real meaning, though all he said was good.


"Pure" here does not refer to chastity. "Sincere" comes nearer the meaning. It must be construed strictly with its connection. The main injunction is: "Be not hasty in ordaining men to the ministry." The subordinate thought: "By hasty ordination you may become a partaker of the candidate's disqualifying sin." Be sincere in such matters; that is, be without reproach in ordaining men.


The reasons against haste are set forth in verses 23-24. Some men's sins, particularly impulsive men, are evident. It takes no long time to know them. They advertise themselves. These impulsive sins precede the candidate. But all men are not alike. Some are very secretive in their sins. The man passes before we see his sins. We must particularly watch out for what follows him. It takes time to find out whether such men are worthy of ordination. We should not look ahead to their promises, nor to the present, but examine the back track. What follows him? Does his past leave a good taste in the mouth? What impression prevails after the sober second thought?


In like manner also there are good works that are evident. In the case of some men we see them at their best when we first see them. Others do not make a good impression at first. They grow on us. Their good works follow them. The longer they stay at a place, and the more they are known, the better they are liked. Because of these distinguishing characteristics, do not lay hands on a novice. License him and prove him; allow time for character to develop itself. Mere brilliancy or flashiness may be accompanied by instability, lack of self control. Wait a while!


In ordaining men we are to remember that some sins advertise themselves, and we can very easily know when not to ordain certain men. Suppose he is known to be intemperate, quick to fly off the handle, boastful in speech; let that man alone for a while, do not ordain him offhand. Remember, also, that some sins do not go before. It takes time to show what they are; they follow after. Wait until there is a chance for the proper development of a man's character before ordaining him. He may be, so far as anybody knows, very exemplary in his life, and yet in his heart he may cherish deadly sins. "Such sins," says the apostle, "will work out and show themselves after a while." Therefore, do not be in a hurry about ordaining any man. When we first meet a man he may seem to be all right, but we must wait to see what follows after. This does not mean to wait always. Character expresses itself; there is nothing covered but shall be revealed. There is nothing hid but shall be brought to light. If a man imagines that he can continue indefinitely to sin secretly, he is mistaken. We may rest assured that our sin will find us out. It is as certain as that the sun shines. I have been out in the woods and have seen charcoal burners trying to smother their fire by covering it up, but the flames would break out if not constantly watched. It is an inexorable law of God that what we are inside will crop out after a while. Moreover, human secretiveness can-not avail against God's overruling providence. On this point are to be found in Lilley's very able Commentary on the Pastoral Epistles some judicious observations and quotations:


The great principle announced is the constant drift of all human action to the light of God's throne. Here Paul's teaching coincides with that of the Lord Jesus (Matt. 10:26). It is essentially the same view of life and providence. though contemplated more from the human standpoint, that the Evangelist John also takes, when he says: "For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be convicted: but he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest that they have been wrought in God" (3:20-21). In either case there is no possibility of concealment. The discovery of human conduct is automatic and irresistible.


The law of retribution given in the former part of Paul's statement (v. 24) is the standing theme illustrated in tragedy. The Greek tragedians, especially Aeschylus, excelled in the skill with which they exhibited this aspect of providence. It is also constantly reproduced in modern literature in the most varied forms. "My Lord Cardinal," said Anne of Austria to Richelieu, "God does not pay at the end of every week, but at the last he pays." The German poet, Von Logau, said,


"The mills of God grind slowly, but they grind exceeding small;


Though with patience he stands waiting, with exactness grinds he all."


As Dora Greenwell pointed out, however, the same principle holds true for mercy equally with judgment: "Some of the good seed sown in tears is now shedding a heavenly fragrance within our lives, and some of it will blossom, perhaps bear fruit over our graves" (Patience of Hope).


The aim of the whole utterance is to quicken in men a keener sense of individual responsibility to God. They shall not be able to hide from his eye in the multitude at last: they should not attempt to do so now.


Man lumps his kind i' the mass: God singles thence


Unit by unit. Thou and God exist –


So think! – for certain: think the mass – mankind –


Disparts, disperses, leaves thyself alone!


Ask thy lone soul what laws are plain to thee –


Thee and no other – stand or fall by them!


That is the part for thee: regard all else


For what it may be – Time's illusion.


– BROWNING, Ferishtah's Fancies.


Lilley's Commentary on the Pastoral Epistles is, in the main, a very scholarly and sound exposition of the letters to Timothy and Titus, and is hereby heartily recommended.


I add one other from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. Mark Anthony, in delivering the funeral oration over Caesar, uses this expression:
The evil that men do lives after them; The good is oft interred with their bones.


All these bear upon the caution to Timothy about ordaining men to the ministry. While we cannot wait forever, we should not lay hands on any man hastily. Churches today are committing sins fore and aft in hasty ordinations. It is not so likely that there will be a sin committed in licensing men; we should give them an opportunity to prove themselves.

 

QUESTIONS

 

1. To what one general theme are chapters 5-6 devoted?

 

2. State in order the particulars of this discussion.

 

3. What the discriminating direction when unofficial church members of different age or sex offend?

 

4. How may the preacher in charge defeat the ends of discipline by his methods of administration?

 

5. In the paragraph 5:3-18 that the author has entitled "Pensioning Widows and Superannuated Preachers," is the pensioning regarded as an ordinary charity or compensation for past fidelity?

 

6. What mistake do Romanists and some Anglicans make as to these pensioned widows?

 

7. Where do we find the first New Testament history on this point?

 

8. Give first the negatives, i.e., what widows are not to be put on this list.

 

9. Give the positive requisites.

 

10. On the law for pensioning old and broken down preachers, 4:17-18, what mistake do the Presbyterians and some Baptists make?

 

11. What the Greek word here rendered "honor," what its meaning and what contextual proof?

 

12. How do some "freeze-out" Baptist churches pay their pastors?

 

13. What noted Baptist preacher in Texas refused to consider a call from a church in. debt to a former pastor?

 

14. What other wrong is often done to a preacher's reputation and what the law here to prevent it?

 

15. As the Mosaic covenant was both civil and religious how did it afford even greater protection against this evil?

 

16. State one experience of the author on this line.

 

17. But this passage (v. 20) supposes that a preacher may sin, what the meaning of the word "sin" in this connection?

 

18. As private accusation is forbidden in such case, what is the remedy enjoined and why, and on what notable occasion did Paul himself carry out the injunction?

 

19. What fault of the churches is largely responsible for so many of these preacher troubles, and stands most in the way of pensioning preachers and what the remedy here enjoined?

 

20. Why, on account of distinctions in sin and in merits should churches avoid haste in ordination?

 

21. In the injunction (v. 22) what the meaning of -"Keep thyself pure," and why the necessity of this particular caution in this connection.

 

22. Develop the thought in verses 24-25 and show its pertinence against hasty ordination,

 

23. How does Lilley, in his masterly Commentary on the Pastoral Epistles, sum up the thought and what each one of his great quotations?

 

24. What other quotation does the author add?

 

 

VIII

 

(Return to Contents)

 

ADMINISTRATION OF INTERNAL CHURCH AFFAIRS – (CONCLUDED)

1 Timothy 6:1-21

 


The former discussion on these chapters covered all of chapter 5 except verses 21 and 23, which will be grouped with other matters in chapter 6, and made the last item of discussion on the book.


Our last chapter closed with the proof that hasty ordination by churches, ignoring the fact that the sins of secretive men are not evident on first acquaintance but crop out later, and other disqualifications, is one ground of difficulty in securing a pension sufficient for the worthier class of aged and worn-out ministers. Not every preacher deserves a pension when old. If he has been lazy, unstudious, of doubtful moral character, not devoted, there is no reason that the church should pension him. Pension rests on desert and meritorious service. If he be in want and suffering, then it is a case for charity which rightly has no regard to worthiness. Charity, like sunshine and rain, outflows alike to the just and the unjust.


Slaves and masters (6:1-2). In the chapter on Philemon we have already considered at length Christianity's attitude to the then worldwide institution of slavery, so it is unnecessary here to go over the ground again. The remark applies here as well as there that rabid fanatics on the slavery question never did endorse, and were incapable of appreciating the heavenly wisdom of the New Testament attitude toward any method of dealing with this vast and complicated problem.


The severest tests to which Christianity has ever been subjected have been in healing the wounds and rectifying the blunders of their rash handling of this matter. Indeed, their misdirected zeal and injudicious remedies have created problems more insoluble than slavery itself. The shining of stars affords a steadier light and more healthful influence than firebrands followed by ashes and darkness.


Heterodox teachers (6:3-8). Heresy in theory is bad enough, but it becomes frightful when reduced to practice. Unquestionably from the context the words of this scathing paragraph (6:3-8) apply primarily to the fanatics dissenting from the teaching of the preceding paragraph on Christian slaves and masters. Let us consider the words: "If any man teacheth a different doctrine, and consenteth not to sound words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; he is puffed up, knowing nothing, but doting about questionings and disputes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, wranglings of men corrupted in mind and bereft of the truth, supposing that godliness is a way of gain. But godliness with contentment is great gain: for we brought nothing into the world, neither can we carry anything out; but having food and covering we shall be therewith content" (1 Tim. 6:3-8).


Understand that the fanatical teaching here condemned is not limited to one side of the question of slavery. The proslavery fanatic who ignores that in Christ Jesus there is neither bond nor free, and the boundless mercy of the gospel to all slaves, its regenerating and uplifting power, and who takes his position for the gain in it, is on a par with the antislavery fanatic who, for political ends, takes the other side. The incentive is gain in the case of both. Each in his section takes the position that gives him the biggest audience, the popular favor, the most votes, the quickest promotion, and the biggest salaries. When preachers, for a like motive on this or any other subject, depart from New Testament teachings or spirit. the result is unspeakably deplorable. For his own selfish ends he projects not Christ, but himself in the limelight of publicity and unhealthy sensationalism.


Thus "supposing that godliness is a way of gain," "he is puffed up, knowing nothing, but doting about questionings and disputes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, wranglings of men corrupted in mind and bereft of the truth." Ah, me! if we could only remember that the "kingdom of heaven cometh not with observation." The brass band is louder than "the still small voice." We need to hear again the lesson of Elijah at Sinai: "What doest thou here, Elijah?" There came a mighty wind, "but Jehovah was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but Jehovah was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but Jehovah was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice." When Elijah heard that he wrapped his face in his mantle. The mightiest forces in nature and grace are noiseless and unobtrusive. We hear thunder, but not gravitation. Intangible moonbeams lift the ocean seventy feet high in the Bay of Fundy, but we never hear the groaning of the machinery. There is gain, of a kind, in godliness with contentment, but it is seldom financial.


The man minded to be rich (6:9-10). Hear the words: "But they that are minded to be rich fall into a temptation and a snare and many foolish and hurtful lusts, such as drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil; which some reaching after have been led astray from the faith, and have pierced themselves through with many sorrows."


These are terrible words, and true as terrible. "Minded" means the dominant desire and will. Riches is the goal, the chief concern. All other things are subordinated. Love of home, wife, and children; love of country; and health, happiness, purity, honor, righteousness, humanity, justice, mercy; and thoughts of God and heaven and hell are trampled under foot.


No voyage was ever made over more treacherous seas; no trail was ever more thickset with dangers. The chances of ultimate escape are almost nil. Temptations assail him, snares entrap him; lusts, foolish and hurtful, burn him. It is the case of a swimmer in the rapids above the falls, or skirting the suction of a whirlpool – how can he escape drowning? The case is even more desperate because the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. From it may come lying, murder, lust, embezzlement, theft, robbery, or any other evil against humanity and blasphemy or any other sacrilege against God.


See the malice of the syndicate that invested money in the soothsaying damsel at Philippi when Paul cast out the demon that made her profitable and "her masters saw that the hope of their gain was gone" (Acts 16:16-20) ; and the malice of the craftsman's ring at Ephesus when Paul's preaching against idols broke up the business by which they had their wealth and "brought it into disrepute" (Acts 19:23-34). There is no hate more intolerant and murderous than the hate of an interrupted evil business. In truth the lowest, meanest, basest, cruelest, beastliest, ghastliest, deadliest form of idolatry is the worship of mammon. Pirates and highwaymen have been gallant, brave, chivalrous, plying their business openly and risking their lives. The lover of money skulks in his methods, which are timid, treacherous, secretive, underhand, relentless. There is neither chivalry, mercy, friendship, honor nor fairness in his method when it comes to a crucial test. He is a web-spinning spider, preying on the weak and unwary. His course is most hurtful to himself; the foundation logs of his character succumb to dry rot. The milk of human kindness dries up; the soul is starved; he pierces himself with many sorrows. And when his shrunken soul, rattling like a dry pea in the pod, is forcibly evicted from his crumbling body, it is buried naked, hungry, thirsty, bankrupt, into an eternity of torment, where memory plays dirges, remorse is an unlying worm, apprehension a gatherer of eternal storms to beat mercilessly on his helpless head and dried-up heart.


Them that are rich (6:17-19). This is different from "minded to be rich." There may be no fault in possessing riches. Wealth may come by inheritance, by honest industry and economy, by judicious investments, or by diligent attention to business. Indeed, God, in love, has bestowed riches on many good men. Yea, he has set but one limit to the amount of lawful wealth one may possess, to wit: that his financial prosperity shall never exceed the prosperity of his soul (3 John 2) : "Even as thy soul prospereth." He is all right when riches increase if he set not his heart upon them.


But our present inquiry is: What the duty of the pastor to rich church members? Here it is: "Charge them that are rich in this present world, that they be not highminded, nor have their hope set on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; that they do good, that they be rich in good works, that they be ready to distribute, willing to communicate, laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold of the life which is life indeed." But it is worthy of detailed consideration.


6:17: "Charge them that are rich in this present world that they be not highminded"; in other words, proud or haughty. It is almost impossible for weak persons to be rich and not be proud over it; they look down on people who are not rich. Particularly is this the case with what we call the "new rich," people who have suddenly sprung into wealth, say a man who has discovered an oil field, or patented an invention, or made a "corner" on wheat, cattle, hogs, or cotton, and suddenly becomes a millionaire. The self-sufficiency of that class is almost indescribable; they look down with contempt upon people who have not a great deal of money. One who has been a gentleman through several generations – Oliver Wendell Holmes says it takes three generations to make a gentleman – ignores that kind of rich people. The hardest struggle for the new rich is to get recognition from the old families.


"Nor have their hope set on the uncertainty of riches." It is difficult for one of the new rich to put his hope on anything else. If in one night we could strip him of his wealth, it would appear what a coarse, common mortal he is. He has nothing to recommend him except his money. "The uncertainty of riches:" uncertainty is a characteristic of wealth. It takes wings and flies away; it is subject to fire, earthquake, pestilence, panic, and a multitude of other contingencies. It is a pitiable thing to see an immortal creature setting his hope upon such an uncertain thing as wealth. "But on God." If his hope is set on God, there is certainty.


Whosoever has God is rich indeed, if he has nothing else in the world. Whosoever hath not God is poor indeed, if he has everything else in the world.


Let our hope "be set on God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy."


Now we come to the positive part: "That they do good; that they be rich in good works." If one wants to be rich, here is the way: be rich in good works. "That they be ready to distribute." I have preached on this charge to the rich a number of times, and have always told them that every agent out after money is solemnly impressed with the fact that the rich man is not ready: he tells us about certain investments not yet profitable, or others so pending that he does not know how he stands yet, And is not ready to distribute, nor willing to communicate. We don't often find them ready.


A rich man ought to have his affairs in hand, so that he is ready all the time to do good with his money, laying up in store for himself treasures against the time to come. The rich man will lecture the poor man on account of his lack of provision: "Why don't you save up something for a rainy day?" When perhaps of all men in the world he has laid up the least for a "rainy day."


"That they may lay hold of the life which is life indeed." This life they are living is not life; it is a miserable existence. The thought here is the same presented in Luke 16, where the rich man, dressed in purple and fine linen, faring sumptuously every day, makes no provision for the future. When death came and stripped him of everything he had, he went over into another country and found nothing there which he had transferred. He had not made friends by the use of Mammon. He had not used his money so as to secure any heavenly reward. A man who invests his money in preachers, churches, schools, colleges, humanity, charity, it goes on working for him, laying up stores to his credit on the other side of the river.


Suppose a man had to leave the United States and go to a foreign country. His object would be to convert his property here into the property of that country. If his American money did not pass over there, to exchange it for money of that country; to exchange his realty here for realty there. The only thing we can do in the way of exchanging is by good deeds, transferring what we have to the other side. I am not discussing salvation; that is determined by other things entirely. I am discussing the question of rewards in the world to come.


In delivering an oration on the death of Spurgeon in the city of Nashville, I drew this picture: "Mr. Phillips said of Napoleon, when he died: 'He is fallen.' I say of Spurgeon: 'He is risen.' " I described in fancy the abundant entrance of Spurgeon into the heavenly home, the friends he had made by his unselfish use of means here on earth. Up there he met the orphan children whom he had cared for and sheltered, the aged widows whom he had comforted and cheered in their dying hours, the young preachers he had taken care of in college and supplied with libraries, and who had gone out on the fields as missionaries and died before Spurgeon died, who were all waiting and watching for him to come, and were ready to meet him. That is the thought Paul is trying to impress upon Timothy with reference to the rich.

 

THE FOUR CHARGES OF TIMOTHY 5:21; 5:23; 6:11-16; 6:20-21


First charge to Timothy: “I charge thee in the sight of God and Jesus Christ and the elect angels, that in conducting the internal affairs of the church, thou observe these things without prejudice, doing nothing by partiality." Paul could make a young man intensely solemn when he impressed on him that he stood in God's sight, with the eye of Jesus upon him, as a spectacle to the angels. "When you are conducting the affairs of the church do nothing through prejudice or partiality."


Once let it appear that the pastor is a partisan in the affairs of the church; that he favors certain members of the church, then he is stripped of his power with the congregation. "Prejudice" in its etymological meaning, is to judge before hand. Say there is a division in the church: The pastor listens while A and B tell their side of the case; C and D he had not heard. Then he occupies the seat of moderator with a prejudgment in his mind; for some, against some, and he greatly damages himself.


The second charge. "Be no longer a drinker of water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities." .From this charge we learn two important lessons:


1. That alcoholic stimulants may be prescribed, in small quantities, for sick people. Timothy was a total-abstinence man. Paul shows him a distinction between a beverage and a medicine. But it is not fair to Paul to stretch "a little wine" as a medicine to make it cover a barrel of whiskey as a beverage.


2. The fact that Paul did not miraculously heal himself and Timothy, nor resort to a faith cure, but did keep near him Luke, the physician, and did prescribe a medicine to Timothy, is proof positive that we, as a rule, must rely on ordinary human means for health and healing.


Third charge, 6:11: "Flee these things, and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, and meekness." Certain things we must flee from; all we can do is to run from them, e.g., love of money, which we have just discussed. We should run from that as we would run from a rattlesnake. It is not cowardice, but we had better get out of his way as quick as possible. Flee from the love of money, covetousness, anger. When we see them coming, we can gain nothing by meeting them; so we had better run. But there are certain other things we must chase: righteousness, godliness, faith, love, meekness. Whenever we see their tracks, let us follow.


The next item of the charge: "Fight the good fight of faith." If the reader will compare this exhortation with what Paul says of himself in the second letter to Timothy (4:7) : "I have fought a good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith," and then with what he says in the letter to the Philippians, third chapter: "Forgetting the things which are behind and stretching forward to the things which are before; I press onward to the goal unto the prize of the high calling of God in Jesus Christ," he will see that Paul has exemplified the very things he tells Timothy to do. What Paul has exemplified in his life, that he charges on Timothy: "The teachings of the gospel of Jesus Christ. There is a warfare, and the preacher must make a fight for all of it, illustrating the truth in his life, preaching the truth with great earnestness to his people, and resisting every temptation to substitute some other thing for the doctrines. Stand for the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.


Then, we must work out our sanctification; work out what God works in, pressing on to lay hold of the things for which Jesus laid hold of us, and then keep the faith.


Fourth charge. "Timothy, guard that which is committed unto thee." The deposit of faith which God placed with the church, and in the preacher through the church, is the most sacred deposit of either time or eternity, and whoever trifles with it, whoever thinks he can surrender a part of it with impunity, makes the mistake of his life.


It is as if a father should call his son to him, open a leather case and say, "My son, in this case is the history of the family, and the precious jewels of the family that have been accumulated from 400 years back. Your mother, your grandmother, and your great grandmother wore these jewels. They are connected with all the festivities of the family history. I deposit these precious heirlooms with you. Guard them, my son, and see that the one who comes after you finds not one of the jewels missing, not one substituted for taste." A boy receiving such a charge as that from a father, who would forget his stewardship, and think that it was his to dispose of these jewels for his own pleasure, swap them off for others to suit his taste, would be an unworthy son of a noble family.


How incomparably greater is this charge to Timothy I This deposit of the truth all the wealth of the world could not buy. This truth all the wisdom of the world could never have discovered. God revealed it to Paul, and he delivered it to Timothy. It is delivered with a view of transmission to those who come after. Keep it inviolate, and transmit it in its entirety. How seldom do we find a preacher with that sense of honor and responsibility for the divine truth deposited with him. He is not at liberty to preach whatever he pleases. He is speaking for God.


Let me illustrate the thought in another way: The United States Government sends an ambassador to a foreign country with special instructions, tells him what the issue is between the two countries, and says, "Now when you get over there and come up against those sharp diplomats of other nations, you are to say what we tell you to gay; you are not to vary from the instructions one hair's breadth." That man cannot there make a treaty according to his idea of it. An ambassador cannot move a step beyond his instructions. If in the negotiations some of the things which his country demands are found to be impracticable, he must adjourn the meeting, write home for instructions, and when he gets the new instructions he can step forward again.


"Do thou speak the words that I put in thy mouth" is what God always said to the prophets. "Deliver my message. You need not apologize for it; it will take care of itself. What you are to do is to deliver the message, just as it comes to you, and you may rest assured that it will accomplish more than if you try to fix it up palatably." God did not send us out as apothecaries to put sugar in his medicine, nor to coat his pills. Our business is to put forth the words of the Almighty.


In one of Scott's novels, the thought is brilliantly brought out: The brave Knight of Crevecour goes from the Duke of Burgundy with certain messages to Louis of France. When he steps into the presence of the King of France he is not ashamed, because he stands there not for himself but for the Duke of Burgundy. When he has been approached to change certain things in his message, he takes off his mailed gauntlet, and throwing it down on the floor says, "That is what I am commissioned to do, as a defiance to this court, if you do not accept the terms of my message. I cannot change a letter of it."


That is the attitude of the preacher. It is in Paul's thought when he calls Timothy's attention to the relation of his Christian experience: "Lay hold of life eternal whereunto thou wast called, and didst confess a good confession in the sight of many witnesses." In other words, "Go back to your conversation; what did you do when you came before the church? There were many witnesses present, and you came out openly with the statement that you were a lost sinner, saved by the grace of God by simple faith in Jesus Christ, and that your sins were remitted through the shedding of his blood on the cross. That was your confession. Stand up to it now. Don't go back on it."


In order to impress the more the idea of a public committal, he quotes Christ's confession when brought before Pilate, the stern Roman procurator, who said to Christ, "Do you know that I have power to set you at liberty, or to take your life?" Christ said, "You have no power except what is given you. I am a king, but my kingdom is not of this world." There Christ witnessed a good confession before Pontius Pilate.


Whatever may be the fate or circumstances of life, let the ambassador keep this thought always in mind: That he stands for the Saviour; in the parlor, on the streets, behind the counter, on the farm, in amusements, and with whomsoever, in the presence of whatsoever enemies, he is the witness to a good confession. That is the charge to Timothy. I have read the lives of many men. One of my favorite classes of reading is biography. I have never read a biography of another man that impressed me like Paul's as set forth by himself. I have never found anywhere a man so conscientious, whose life was so consecrated, whose eye was so single, whose ideal of duty was so high. Always he stands like an everlasting rock upon the truth of Jesus Christ.

 

QUESTIONS

 

1. On what earlier letter have we considered at length Christianity's attitude toward the institution of slavery?

 

2. What class of people never endorsed nor appreciated New Testament teaching on this point?

 

3. What heavy burden has their misdirected zeal imposed on both Christianity and the state?

 

4. Show how a vicious incentive discounted the labors of these fanatics whether anti or pro-slavery men, and how the same motive in a preacher or any other matter brings deplorable results to him and the community.

 

5. What lesson from our Lord and from the life of Elijah opposes this loud method?

 

6. Illustrate the fact that the mightiest forces are not noisy,

 

7. What the meaning of "minded to be rich"?

 

8. Show how the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.

 

9. Illustrate the danger to the man himself.

 

10. Cite two cases from Acts to show that there is no hate more in- tolerant and murderous than an interrupted evil business.

 

11. In whose favor and why is the contrast between the pirate and the miser?

 

12. Give the outcome of the lover of money.

 

13. Why the great difference between "minded to be rich" and "them that are rich"?

 

14. What passage the only limit to the amount of wealth that may be lawfully acquired?

 

15. Give the elements negative and positive of the charge to the rich,

 

16. What the importance of the charge to Timothy at 5:21?

 

17. What two important lessons may be learned from the charge at 5:23?

 

18. In the charge at 6:11 what must the preacher run from and what must he chase?

 

19. Cite proof texts to show that Paul himself exemplified the charge: "Fight the good fight of the faith."

 

20. In the last charge (6:20-21) what was committed to Timothy and with what contrasted?

 

21. When did Timothy make the "good confession" and when did our Lord?

 

22. Illustrate from one of Scott’s romances, telling which one, he necessity for an ambassador to be faithful to the message entrusted to him.

 

 

TITUS

 

 

IX

 

(Return to Contents)

 

THE INTRODUCTION, ANALYSIS, AND GREETING

OF THE LETTER TO TITUS

Titus 1:1-4

 


We now take up the letter to Titus and commence with a historical introduction. The first thing we deal with is the island of Crete. Its modern name is Candia. It is about 140 miles long, but very narrow. It closes up what is called the "Grecian Archipelago" (a sea full of islands). The island is lifted up high out of the sea and has some very high mountains on it. The valleys are small, but very rich. It has always been a thickly peopled island as far back as history goes.


Now, the inhabitants of the island: The original inhabitants – that is, if we go no further back than the times of the Greek supremacy – were Greeks, mingled with, perhaps earlier elements, as, Phoenicians, Philistines, Cherethites. There is a passage in Virgil's Aeneid about the hundred cities of Crete. For an island of that size to have a hundred cities, or even small towns, implies a great population. When I studied Virgil I looked up this island and wondered where they found space for a hundred cities.


There is a passage in Tacitus that makes the Jews descendants of the Cretans. What plausible argument could Tacitus have had for such a notion? The Philistines and Phoenicians, in Palestine, were naval powers and early connected with Crete, and the Cherethites, who were associated with the Philistines. In the history of David we find that one of his body guards was made up of Cherethites, and in the Septuagint, in two Old Testament passages, the Cherethites are called Cretans.


It may have been these facts that suggested to Tacitus that the Jews were derived from the Cretans. Tacitus was a good historian on Roman affairs, but he is wrong here. This much is certain: While the base of the inhabitants was Greeks, Phoeni-cians, and Cherethites, in very early days many Jews settled there. We find an account of them in the apocryphal books, in Maccabees, and extensive reference to them in Josephus, and in Philo the Alexandrian Jew, showing how in the period of the beginning of the Greek Empire the Jews, who were great traders, had established themselves in the Island of Crete.


Now we come to the New Testament bearings upon the subject. We want to ascertain how, possibly, the gospel was. planted in this island. In Acts 2 where so many Jews of the dispersion and Jewish proselytes came from all parts of the earth to be in Jerusalem at the great feast, among the number there (v. 11) we find the Cretans especially mentioned. These Jews of the dispersion assembled in the city of Jerusalem, heard Peter preach that day, and it is possible that some of them were converted, and in that way the gospel originally came to Crete.


The next New Testament reference is in Acts 27. Paul is a prisoner on his way to Rome, and he touches on the coast of Asia Minor, is transferred to a new ship bound for Italy, which stops at Fair Havens, a harbor on the southern coast of the Island of Crete. The record implies a somewhat lengthy stay. We do not know whether they were allowed to go ashore or not. Paul warned them to spend the winter there, but they, beguiled by a favorable breeze, left Crete and a typhoon struck them, blowing them out of their course and wrecking them on the Island of Malta. These are two New Testament references which occur before we come to the reference here in Titus.


The next thing is to determine the character of the Greek inhabitants. Paul quotes a poem in which the poet, himself a native of the island, describes them as liars, beasts, and gluttons. At Athens Paul quotes poets, and so in this letter he quotes a poet. He was raised at Tarsus, in Asia Minor, a great university city, probably the greatest in the world. Alexandria was great, but it is held by some that Tarsus was greater. So Paul's being raised there gave him an acquaintance with the current literature of his time.


Just a few words on the position of Crete in previous mythology. Mythology has a great deal to do with Crete. When I was a schoolboy, about 13 years old, we were reading Ovid. One of the lengthiest and best written pieces in the book of Ovid connects Jupiter and Europa with the Island of Crete. That is a special part of old Grecian Mythology.


It is not proper here to go into the details about the history of Crete before Paul's time; so will pass over that part. But I will say this: when the Romans came to the island, 67 B.C., Metellus, a Roman general, captured Crete and thence obtained his surname "Creticus," as one Scipio, after his victory over Hannibal in Africa, was surnamed "Africanus," and another one surnamed "Asiaticus." The Romans were accustomed to giving a surname to their generals who accomplished anything great.


In establishing the province (Rome always put what she captured into a province) Crete was united with Cyrenaica, in the northern part of Africa. It is called Cyrene in the New Testament. They were put together and governed by one proconsul.


Just a word about the impress left by Titus on the subsequent history of Crete: Archaeologists tell of a church whose ruins are yet standing, named for Titus. It is certain that in later days the Venetians, who became a great sea power, captured this island. As St. Mark is patron of Venice, Titus is regarded as the patron saint of Crete. They would pray thus: "Oh, St. Mark, do thou help us." "Oh. St. Titus, do thou help us."


We now want to consider Titus himself before we go into the letter. Here are the scriptures that present the earlier statements about Titus in the New Testament:


Titus 1:4 teaches that he was converted by Paul. Just where we do not know, possibly at Antioch. We know that Titus was a Greek on both sides. Timothy's father was a Greek, but his mother was a Jewess. Somewhere in Paul's work Titus was led to Christ.


Galatians 2:1-3, construed with Acts 15: In the passage in Galatians Paul is referring to the great council at Jerusalem, and says that he designedly took Titus, an uncircumcised man, with him; that there might be a test case. The Jerusalem Jews demanded that one must be a Jew to be saved. A delegation from Antioch went down, including Paul and Barnabas, the church bearing the expenses of the expedition, and in order to make a test case Paul took Titus along with him. "Here is a Gentile converted to God under my ministry. Dare you say he is not saved?"


Canon Farrar, who is cranky on Old Testament criticism, and sometimes on the New Testament, takes the position that Paul did have Titus circumcised. He stands alone on that, however. But standing alone does not bother him at all because he is so conscious of being infallibly right that he does not mind being by himself. Inasmuch as Timothy had a Jewish mother, was reared in the Jewish faith of the Holy Scriptures from a child, Paul circumcised him, lest his lack of circumcision would discount his influence with the Jews, but he would not do that in Titus' case.


2 Corinthians 2:13, also 7:6-7, 13-15. From these scriptures we learn that when Paul was at Ephesus the Corinthians were urging him to come over there, but he tarried at Ephesus until Pentecost. On information from the household of Chloe he wrote the first letter to the Corinthians, and sent Titus to carry it and to set these people straight on their immortalities, particularly that man who took his father's wife, and to work them up on that big collection for the poor saints in Judea. Leaving Ephesus, Paul went to Troas, expecting to meet Titus there bringing the report of the effect of his first letter to the Corinthians. Titus did not meet him, and he was greatly distressed; although he was having a great meeting he quit and went over into Macedonia.


The next scriptures are 2 Corinthians 8:6, 16, 23; 12:18. These scriptures show that Titus joined him in Macedonia, and brought a report from Corinth, and that Paul sent Titus back to complete the work he had so magnificently begun, sending with him Trophimus and Tychicus (Acts 20:4).


Titus 1:5: On the missionary tour after Paul's escape from the Roman imprisonment, he came to this Island of Crete, stops a while, and finding great disorder in the churches here, leaves Titus to set things in order.


Titus 3:12: In this passage Paul writes to Titus to join him in Nicopolis, where he expects to winter. He tells him to join him there when a successor comes; that he will send Artemas or Tychicus to take his place.


Titus 3:13: Titus is still in Crete. Paul sends the letter by Zenas and Apollos, and charges Titus to take charge of these two brethren and help them forward on their way.


2 Timothy 4:10: Paul is now a prisoner a second time in Rome, and is writing to Timothy. He says that Titus had gone to Dalmatia, which is not very far from Nicopolis, where he was to winter with Paul.


The last scriptures to consider as bringing out the character of Titus are 2 Corinthians 7:7, 13, 15; 8:23. Let us picture in our minds the kind of a man Titus was. We know that he succeeded magnificently in his work, but this passage shows the character of the man:


"God comforted us by the coming of Titus; and not by his coming only, but also by the comfort wherewith he was comforted in you, while he told us of your longing, your mourning, your zeal for me, that I rejoice yet more. Therefore, we have been comforted, and in our comfort we joyed the more exceedingly for the joy of Titus, because his spirit hath been refreshed by you all." That indicates his appreciative nature; when he brought them comfort and saw how glad they were, he became glad.


"But this affection is more abundantly toward you while he remembereth the obedience of you all, how with fear and trembling ye received him." That brings out his love for these people among whom he labored.


"Whether any inquire about Titus, he is my partner and my fellow-worker to you-ward." From these scriptures we get an idea of the inside man; the tenderness, sympathy, and love of his nature. Titus is not mentioned in the book of Acts at all.

 

ANALYSIS


We now come to the outline of the book; I am giving a very critical outline, chapter by chapter: Chapter One:


1. Elaborate greeting (1:1-4)


2. Occasion of the letter (1:5)


3. Qualifications of elders to be ordained (1:6-10)


4. Reasons for such high qualifications (1:11-16) Chapter Two:


5. Directions concerning practical piety in social life (2:110)


6. High doctrinal reasons therefore in the teaching of grace (2:11-14)


7. How Titus must carry out the directions (2:15) Chapter Three:


8. Directions concerning civil life and character (3:1-2)


9. High doctrinal reasons therefore in the example of the salvation of the saints (3:3-7)


10. A faithful saying in point, and the value of good works (3:8,14)


11. What to shun (3:9)


12. How to treat the factious (3:10-11)


13. Directions to Titus when a successor arrives (3:12)


14. Directions to forward with help, Zenas and Apollos (3:13)


15. Farewell salutation and benediction (3:15)


That is strictly a critical outline. It leaves out nothing in the letter, is orderly arranged chapter by chapter, and brings out each thought. With that the reader will more understandingly study Titus.


I will consider the first item of the analysis, the elaborate greeting (1:1-4). In the first place Paul desires to have the men to whom he writes to understand that he is writing with the fulness of authority, representing God, representing Jesus Christ, representing the faith of God's elect, and that he is writing concerning the true knowledge of the faith, which is according to godliness.


He makes the keynote of the letter, practical religion, or godliness in life: "According to godliness, in hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised before time eternal; but in his own seasons manifested his word in the message, wherewith I was intrusted according to the commandment of God our Saviour." Marking himself out as the one who is to speak, in every direction he buttresses his authority to speak, and especially on the topic to be discussed in this letter, practical holiness, practical religion according to the truth, the divine truth.


He will demonstrate in the letter how doctrine is the basis of morality. He will use great doctrines to enforce morality. He inculcates every one of these thoughts as special and precious. When he writes to Titus he makes the following points: "I led you to Christ; you are my true child, but it is in a common faith." Just as Jude says, "a common salvation," or as Luke says, "the things which are commonly believed among us."


Conversion is always according to the common faith. Certain impressions of men may be different, but one was not converted to one kind of faith and another to another kind. From the days of the first converts under the gospel to the present time, every conversion is unto truth which is common. Whether manifested in some cases as in others or not, the normal conversion has these elements in it'. Under the preaching of the gospel a man sees himself to be a sinner in the sight of God. He is sorry for his sins and changes his mind toward God on account of sin. There was a burden resting on him because of sin. He turned by faith to the Saviour for salvation from that sin.


These are the normal elements of conversion. Some people may not experience these things so as to be able to separate them item by item. I once received a letter from a man who heard some great teacher in a Bible rally. He wrote: "Great teachers here are saying that there is no time element between repentance and faith; that they are simultaneous. Is this true?" I wrote back that the two were distinct, repentance one thing and faith another thing; that they have different objects – repentance is toward God, and faith is toward our Lord Jesus Christ; that they are represented always in a certain order: "repentance and faith"; that while in some cases a conversion takes place in so short a time that a man is not able to separate them, the steps were there just the same; that there was a difference in time, even when one could not appreciate it.


In some cases conviction manifests itself a good while before the man reaches repentance, and sometimes a man is penitent a long time before a clear view of the Saviour is presented to him. I know a case where repentance lasted a year before faith came.

 

QUESTIONS

 

1. Give an account of the Island of Crete: (1) Where, what the dimensions and what the topography? (2) Early inhabitants. (3) Density of population including citation from Virgil.

 

2. What the strange statement of Tacitus as to national origin, of Jews and the probable ground of the statement?

 

3. What the strange account in Maccabees of the common origin of Jews and Spartans?

 

4. Give account of Jews settling in the Island and the authorities.

 

5. What the New Testament references prior to this letter to the Island and its Jewish population and how may the gospel have been planted there?

 

6. What the character of the population according to one of its poets quoted by Paul?

 

7. What noted myth concerning Crete?

 

8. Who conquered Crete for the Romans, what surname did he receive and with what other section of country was it constituted a Roman province?

 

9. Later what Mediterranean Sea power conquered the Island?

 

10. To what nation does it now belong?

 

11. What archaeological testimony to Titus?

 

12. Give connected New Testament history of Titus and the impression of his character and ability conveyed.

 

13. Give the analysis of the letter.'

 

14. What the keynote of the letter?

 

15. What the two great doctrinal statements in the letter?

 

16. What relation does the letter establish between doctrine and morals, or practical religion?

 

17. What the office of Titus, and what his special authority?

 

 

X

 

(Return to Contents)

 

EXPOSITION OF THE BOOK OF TITUS

Titus 1:5 to 3:15

 


At the close of our discussion on the historical introduction to the letter to Titus, I gave an elaborate outline of the letter, so inclusive that it practically becomes an exegesis of the letter. Moreover, we need now to consider but three points in the letter, because in the first letter to Timothy we have gone over much of the ground relating to preachers, their ordination, and all the parts relating to their social life.


The historical introduction also expounded the elaborate salutation, so that this section really commences at 1:5: "For this cause I left thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and appoint elders in every city, as I gave thee charge."


"Elders in every city": there can be no efficient development of church life without pastors. The pastors teach the word and rule according to the word; they oversee the work of the church; they shepherd the flock, feeding, guarding, and healing. Upon the entrance qualification into the office of elder, we need to emphasize one point additional to those considered in the first letter to Timothy. It has been rightly said that the entrance spiritual qualification to church membership should be the simple, trustful acceptance of Christ as Saviour. It is not necessary for one to be a theologian in order to unite with the church. We receive babes in Christ into the church. But it is not true that in ordaining elders we should limit the scope of the examination to entrance qualifications into the church. Let us commence with verse 9. He is here cautioning Titus about whom to ordain, that the candidate to the ministry must “hold to the faithful word, which is according to the teaching, that he may be able both to exhort in the sound doctrine and convict the gainsayers."


Then follow the reasons for such high qualifications on entrance into the ministry. He shows the presence of "unruly men, vain talkers, and deceivers, especially they of the circumcision, whose mouths must be stopped; men who overthrow whole houses, teaching things which they ought not for filthy lucre's sake." The fact that there are capable opponents to the Christian religion, sometimes exceedingly plausible, who can overturn the faith of whole households, makes it necessary that the man to be ordained to the ministry must understand the teaching, the deposit of faith, as enunciated in the New Testament, and summaries of which are given repeatedly by the apostle Paul. We had this thought in part in the first letter to Timothy, where be says, "Lay hands suddenly on no man; not on a novice."


In order to do the work of a preacher, and especially that of a pastor of a church, one must be able to lead babes in Christ to mature Christian knowledge. That is what he is for, and he must be able to meet the gainsayers, those who stand out against the doctrine. Where the pastor is unable to do either one or the other, his church in all probability will suffer severely, not only in lack of development, but also by in-roads of the opposition. That this point may be clear let the reader study this passage from Ephesians:


"And he gave some to be apostles, and some prophets, and some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the perfecting of the saints unto the work of ministering, unto the building up of the body of Christ: till we all attain unto the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a full grown man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: that we may be no longer children tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, in craftiness, after the wiles of error; but speaking truth in love, may grow up in all things into him, who is the head, even Christ; from whom all the body fitly framed and knit together through that which every joint supplieth according to the working in due measure of each several part, maketh the increase of the body unto the building up of itself in love."


The keynote of the letter to Titus is the practical religion coming from the acceptance of sound doctrine. Paul never conceived of an empty Christian faith. He never dissociated morality from doctrine, but always predicated morality upon doctrine. Doctrine is the fountain and morality is the stream.


While standing as he did with such earnestness for the truth which he had received from Christ, and while exhorting them to keep this truth just as he gave it to them, to preserve it inviolate, to transmit unimpaired, he always insisted that the evidence of one's acceptance of this truth was a sound religious life. This letter, perhaps more than any other, stresses that point. True, in every letter after he had stated his doctrine, there is an exhortation to practical morality, but in this letter the main thought is in the direction of practical holiness, and the doctrines introduced are for illustration.


With this thought before us, we consider the first great doctrinal statement, which is the second chapter. Throughout that chapter he defines the things becoming sound doctrine: "That the aged be temperate, grave, sober-minded, sound in faith, in love, in patience," how the aged women, young women, and young men should do.


But when he unveils the fountain from which the stream of moral life flows, and which this good life adorns, we find this doctrinal origin: "For the grace of God hath appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to the intent that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly and righteously and godly in this present world." He affirms that this is the teaching of salvation by grace. There is no antinomian fruit in the doctrine of salvation by grace.


From the lips of every expounder of salvation by grace in the New Testament comes the one teaching that sound doctrine concerning the world to come leads us to a sound life in this present world; that here on earth and in time, we should live soberly, righteously, godly, and in denial of worldly lusts. It is a little difficult, in view of the clear statement upon this subject, to understand how antinomianism ever originated. Certainly it is not warranted in the Bible. We may put it down as a fundamental of Christianity, that where there is anything of Christianity in the heart, it will make its subjects better, here and now. It will make a husband a better husband, a wife a better wife, a child a better child, a citizen a better citizen, a slave a better slave. Many times in my life I have felt called upon to preach from this text: What the grace of God which bringeth salvation teaches.


The second thing that it teaches us is to "look for the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ." Wherever there is a genuine acceptance of Jesus as a present Saviour there is an attitude of expectation toward the second advent. We cannot have sound faith in the historical Christ without having an expectant hope of the coming Christ. Baptist churches need to have that ground into them. Whenever we find that a considerable part of our life is elapsing without thought of the final coming of our Lord, then there is something wrong in us.


As the first coming was the highest mountain peak which loomed up on the Old Testament horizon, so is the second advent the highest mountain peak in our future, and we should never lose sight of it.


Here the question arises: "How do you maintain such an attitude toward the final coming of our Lord, with your postmillenial views?" It is easy to answer that question.


1. Having postmillenial views, I have no trouble with the universality in preaching required in "bringing salvation to all men," since our only hope of saving men is before the final advent, expecting none to be saved after that advent; whereas the premillennial view expects to save only an ever-lessening few before that advent, and looks to postadvent times for saving the bulk of those to be redeemed.


2. To any one individual life it is only a little time until the Lord comes. As soon as we come to death we pass out of time into eternity, where there is no time, no measuring of duration. So the only period in which my looking for the Lord can be beneficial to me is in my lifetime here upon earth. But to the race of man, the succession of individuals, it may be a very long time until the second coming of Christ. All through the New Testament men are addressed not so much with reference to the lapse which must pass in the history of the race before the final advent, as to the individual's brief stay on earth.


To illustrate: Peter positively knew that Christ would not come before he died, because Christ had told him just how he was to die. He himself makes reference to that. And yet Peter was marvelously stirred in his heart with the thought of the final coming of the Lord. He knew that it would not be in his time, but he knew he was influenced by the thought while he lived. In the great prophecy of our Lord, each steward in his day, whether that day be remote from the second advent, or near to it, is warned not to say in his heart: "My Lord delayeth his coming," that in such a time as he thinks not the Lord will come and he will be cut down and his portion appointed with hypocrites. Very much in point is a passage in John's Gospel: "I go to prepare a place for you, and if I go I will come again to receive you unto myself." This was meant for the men addressed and men ages remote from the final advent.


It is unquestionable that there is a sense in which the advent of the Lord comes to the individual. He meets every one at the depot of death. It is not at all peculiar to postmillennial people to neglect the thought of the second advent of our Lord. While I believe that it is absolutely impossible for that advent to come in my life time, and base my belief upon the clear teachings of preceding things – things which must come to pass before the final coming – yet the influence of the second advent has been a tremendous power over my life. I have preached from it oftener than from any other one theme in the Bible except the cross of Christ.


To resume our discussion: Paul says that the grace of God which bringeth salvation teaches these things: (1) That in this present world we must live soberly, righteously, and godly; (2) That the heart must be turned toward the final coming of the Lord. These two lessons, and they are both good lessons, are reinforced by the following:


"God gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a people for his own possession, zealous of good works." So the teaching is buttressed by the purpose which was in the mind of our Lord Jesus Christ. You recall how that point was emphasized when we recently passed over Ephesians, where it said that Christ loved the church and gave himself for it, that he might sanctify it, having cleansed it by the washing of water with the word, that he might present the church to himself a glorious church not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish.


It was once common for preachers, resting on the King James Version, to insist that God's people must be peculiar, i.e., odd. But that is not the meaning of the word. He gave himself for his people, having in view their complete holiness, and that they were to be a people for his own possession, i. e., peculiar to him and zealous of good works. If one finds himself without that zeal for good works, he may question the Lord's title to him. First make a tree good, then its fruit will be good.


The other doctrinal passage is much more difficult. Indeed to expound it satisfactorily to myself is to dissent from most Christian scholars. I have tried hard to fall in with their views, but cannot do it.


3:3: "For we also once were foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another, but when the kindness of God, our Saviour, and his love toward man appeared, not by works done in righteousness which we did ourselves, but according to his mercy he saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, which he poured out upon us richly, through Jesus Christ our Saviour; that being justified by his grace, we might be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life."


The only difficulty in the passage is that relating to the washing of regeneration. Most commentators find here an allusion to baptism. To my own mind there is no allusion whatever to baptism. To justify my dissent from the majority of commentators, I submit an exegesis of the passage, and then leave the reader to agree with the author or to follow some other exegesis, as he pleases.


The difficult passage is one of a group, all based on Old Testament imagery, and referring exclusively to the divine side of salvation, and not at all to our responses to divine commands. Neither in this, nor any passage of the group) is' anything that we do referred to or considered; neither contrition, repentance, faith, baptism, nor anything else.


This passage with its true parallels, is sharply contrasted with another group which does set forth what we do in response to divine commands, e.g., Mark 16:16: "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved." That is something we do. We believe and we are baptized. Acts 2:36: "Repent ye and be baptized every one of you unto the remission of sins." Here again is something we do. We repent and are baptized. Acts 22:16: "Arise and be baptized and wash away thy sins." Here is an injunction to human duty. Paul is commanded to be baptized. I Peter 3:21-22: "Eight souls were saved through water; which also after a true likeness doth now save you, even baptism, not the putting away of the filth of the flesh ... " Here again is a passage that tells us what baptism does and what it does not.


All of this group of passages must be construed together, whatever the interpretation. They all set forth something that we do, and all discuss the human responses to divine commands; but this expression, "the washing of regeneration," in the Titus passage is dissociated particularly from anything we do, expressly saying, "Not by works done in righteousness, which we did ourselves, but according to his mercy he saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, which he poured out upon us richly through Christ Jesus our Saviour."


Unlike Galatians and Romans, this passage does not even consider salvation in its legal aspects – justification, redemption, adoption – i.e., the salvation done outside of us and for us, but confines itself wholly to the salvation in us, wrought by the Holy Spirit. The "washing" is in us as much as the "renewing," and both by the Holy Spirit.


The divine side of salvation alone is considered and the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Spirit refer to the Spirit's work in contradistinction to the Father's work or to the Son's work in salvation, and especially to anything we do. That baptism in water is a work of righteousness done by us is evident from the statement from our Lord to John: "Suffer it to be so now, for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness." But this passage says that the salvation here discussed is according to mercy, "not by works done in righteousness, which we did ourselves."


Now the kindred passages with which this passage must be associated in exegesis are to be found in John 3:2-8 and Ephesians 5:25-27. In these two passages, as in Titus, the divine side of salvation is considered. Christ said to Nicodemus, "Except a man be born from above he cannot see the kingdom of God." Again he said, expanding the same statement, "Except a man be born of water and Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of heaven."


Note particularly the following: Christ and Nicodemus are discussing two births, one natural, the other spiritual. "That which is born of flesh is flesh, that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." He is not discussing three births – one natural, one figurative, and one spiritual.


Second, his teaching concerning the necessity of this new birth was clearly taught in the Old Testament, for he rebukes Nicodemus, he being a teacher in Israel, for not understanding the new birth. If there had been any reference to baptism in the word ''water," Nicodemus, as a teacher of the Old Testament, could not have been rebuked, because the Old Testament knew nothing of this New Testament ordinance of baptism. So that whatever "born of water and Spirit" means, it is something unequivocally taught in the Old Testament.


Where, then, in the Old Testament is it so plainly taught? The answer is, first, in Numbers 19. God, through Moses, makes provision for the typical purification of his people; a red heifer was killed and burned outside of the camp, her ashes gathered up and mixed with water and this lye of commingled ashes and water was kept for purification, hence the name "water of cleansing and purification." It was administered by taking a branch of hyssop and sprinkling it upon the one to be cleansed.


In Ezekiel 36 we have a second exceedingly pertinent reference: There the prophet foretells that the dispersed Jews shall one day be gathered together and saved and, as in this Titus passage, he says that it is not on account of anything they have done. Then he describes how they are to be saved: "Then I will sprinkle the water of purification on you and you shall be cleansed from all your filthiness and all your iniquities. I will take away your stony heart and give you a heart of flesh, and put my spirit within you, and then ye shall keep my commandments." Here we have the first element of regeneration typified, in the water of cleansing; its second element in the renewing by the Holy Spirit. Regeneration always consists of two elements: first, cleansing; second, renewing. The cleansing always comes first.


We have another reference to it in Psalm 51 where David says, "Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow; purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean. Renew a right spirit within me." Here are precisely the same thoughts presented by the psalmist, and they are the very thoughts presented by the Titus passage, the "washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit," and it means exactly what it means in chapter 3 of John, "Born of water and Spirit." What then, does the water of purification, referred to in the Ezekiel and psalmist passages, typify? The answer is to be found in Hebrews 9: "For if the ashes of a heifer sanctify unto the cleansing of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ purify your conscience to serve the true and living God?"


So that this water cleansing in Numbers and in Ezekiel, and in Psalm 51 and in John 3 refer to the cleansing by the blood of Jesus Christ. When our Lord said to Nicodemus: "Except a man be born of water and Spirit" it was the same as saying "Except a man be cleansed by the Spirit's application of the blood of Christ, and by the Spirit's renewal, he cannot see the kingdom of heaven."


The proof positive of the matter is Christ's answer to Nicodemus' second pressing question, "How can these things be?" "The wind bloweth where it listeth and we hear the sound thereof, but cannot tell whence it cometh nor whither it goeth." Nicodemus kept insisting, "How can these things be?" And Jesus explained in this fashion: "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whosoever believeth in him shall not perish but have eternal life." That is how these things come about. That is, when Christ is held up before our eyes, in preaching, and we accept him as a Saviour, then the Holy Spirit first applies the blood of Christ to our hearts) purifying them, and then renews us, changing our nature.


The other passage (Eph. 5:25-27) is perfectly in line. It says, "Christ loved the church and gave himself for it; that having cleansed it by the washing of water through the word, he might sanctify it and present it to himself a glorious church, having neither spot nor wrinkle, nor blemish, nor any such thing." Here again the work done is all on the divine side. It is Christ that loved us. It is Christ that gave himself for us. It is through the application of Christ's blood that we are cleansed, washed through the word preached and believed. There is nothing in it that we are to do. We may learn our duty from other passages of Scripture, but not from these three.


The cleansing, mark you, is a washing by the word, not a washing by water. That is, the word of God holds up Christ as the object of our faith, we accept him and the Spirit applies the blood for our cleansing. It is said in the first letter to the Corinthians, "Such were some of you, but ye were washed, ye were sanctified." Here we have the washing first again. The washing here referred to is not a bodily washing in baptism, but a spiritual cleansing that comes from the application of Christ's blood by the Spirit, then follows the sanctifying.


It has been objected that the term loutron in Titus 3 and Ephesians 5, meaning laver or bath, is too expressive and broad a word to correspond to the sprinkling of the ashes of the red heifer. I meet this criticism squarely by citing a pertinent passage from Zechariah 13:1: "In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness." This fountain evidently refers to the blood of Christ, and is so embodied in Cowper's hymn which we often sing:
There is a fountain filled with blood Drawn from Immanuel's veins; And sinners plunged beneath that flood, Lose all their guilty stains.


Certainly if the blood of Christ can be referred to as a fountain into which the bathing or cleansing takes place, loutron in Titus 3 and Ephesians 5 is not too broad a word to express the fact.


But to put on the crowning proof: In Revelation 7, referring to the great multitude which no man can number, which God brought out of every nation, of all tribes and places, and tongues, standing before the throne of the Lamb, arrayed in white robes, with palms in their hands, this explanation is given: "These are they that came out of the great tribulation, and they washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb."


In the last chapter of the book (Rev. 22:14) it is said) "Blessed are they that wash their robes that they may have the right to come to the tree of life, and may enter in by the gates into the city." Here is the washing that corresponds to the passage in 1 Corinthians, "Ye were washed," and to the passage in Ephesians, "having cleansed them through the washing of water by the word," and to the passage in John, "born of water."


If anything more were needed, the added clause in the Titus passage is, "which he poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ." That is, the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Spirit, both come from his out-poured Spirit. Indeed, if it could be maintained that the "washing of regeneration" in Titus, and the "born of water" in John, and the "cleansing by the washing of water through the word," in Ephesians, refer to baptism, two things would follow like a conqueror: First, that baptism is absolutely essential to salvation; second, it must precede in every case the work of the Holy Spirit in renewing our hearts. The grammatical construction demands as much, and no less.

 

QUESTIONS

 

1. Why should every church have an elder or elders?

 

2. What reason here given for extending the scope of the examination of the elder beyond church entrance qualifications?

 

3. What passage in Ephesians emphasizes this thought, and what the substance of it?

 

4. What the keynote of this letter?

 

5. What use does Paul make of doctrine in this letter?

 

6. What the first great doctrinal statement in the letter?

 

7. What does the grace that brings salvation teach us?

 

8. What fundamental of Christianity taught here?

 

9. What the relation of the second advent to the life?

 

10. How may one with postmillennial views maintain such an attitude toward the second advent?

 

11. How are the lessons of grace reinforced?

 

12. What the meaning of "peculiar" in the King James Version?

 

13. What the second great doctrinal passage in the letter?

 

14. What the difficulty of the passage?

 

15. What is the meaning of "washing of regeneration," what its true parallels in Scripture and what their explanation?

 

16. What hymn contains this truth?

 

17. If "washing of regeneration" here means baptism, then what must follow?

 

 

2 TIMOTHY

 

XI

 

(Return to Contents)

 

INTRODUCTION TO 2 TIMOTHY AND EXPOSITION OF 2 TIMOTHY 1:1-6

2 Timothy 1:l-6

 


We now come to the second letter to Timothy, the last writing of Paul of which we have any account. In the general introduction to the pastoral epistles we have already considered the historical problem of Paul's movements after his acquittal at Rome.


This letter finds him again at Rome and once more a prisoner, but under new charges and by a far different prosecution. Before, the Jews were his bitter accusers and the Roman judges his friends, but this time the persecution is heathen. Rome, in the person of that blood-crazed and beastly Caesar, Nero, now seeks his life. Seeking to avert condemnation for himself on account of his burning the Imperial City, and to divert thought from his own horrible brutalities, be charged Christians with burning the city. A conflagration of persecution greater than the ocean of flame which devoured the world's metropolis is now kindled against Christians, and fanned by the flames of devilish passion spreads beyond the city to other shores and paints hell on the sky over the followers of Christ.


Croly, in his Salathiel, or Wandering Jew (which General Lew Wallace puts above all other human books), gives the most vivid description in all literature of the burning of Rome. It commences: "Rome was an ocean of flame." Often when a school boy I have recited that matchless piece of rhetoric.


We now consider, I say, a more awful, wide-spreading fire, the moral arson of time, which finds no parallel until Alva's day in the low countries of Belgium and Holland. Philip II of Spain, and Nero, in persecution and hypocrisy at least, are par nobile fratrum!


When Christians are fed to the wild beasts of the amphitheatre, when, like parallel lines of lampposts they are staked out, tarred, and set on fire, to form an illuminated avenue through which Nero may drive, then all sycophants, all imperial appointees, whether executors or judges, all spies through neighboring lands, will court royal favor by affecting his spirit and following his cue in accusing and persecuting them.


Thus the lightning struck Paul. Our last account of him is his direction to Titus, when relieved by Artemas or Tychicus, to join him in Nicopolis, where he proposed to winter. But in this letter he is urging Timothy to join him in the Roman prison before that very winter comes, and to bring his cloak left at Troas with Carpus, to keep him warm in his winter cell, and to bring his books and parchments to cheer his loneliness. Not now does he live with liberty in his own hired house, and preach to visiting crowds.


Two circumstances detailed in this letter vividly suggest the great change wrought by this first great heathen persecution. First, its effect on his summer friends in Asia Minor and Achaia. Second, its effect on his summer friends at Rome. It is now a death circle which environs Paul. Whoever abides near him courts imperial disfavor and death. It is as if a general surrounded by a numerous staff found himself the focus of a converging fire of a suddenly unmasked battery. What a scattering when the chief is struck! How vividly it recalls an earlier scene in the crisis of his Lord: "They all forsook him and fled."


The thunder of the coming storm sounded in Asia, and at Ephesus.. Only after careful, long-continued study have I reached the conclusion that the beginning of this storm struck Paul at Ephesus. The usual argument against this opinion is Paul's statement in Acts 20, when he bids the elders of the church at Ephesus goodbye at Miletus and says, "Knowing that you shall not see my face any more." In the main they did not, but unquestionably we cannot understand this second letter to Timothy unless we conceive of Paul at Ephesus. The first letter shows that he wrote it to Timothy at Ephesus, and now he seems to have gotten back there.


How pathetic his own account of the situation, and how tragic his loneliness! He writes in this letter to Timothy: "This thou knowest that all that are in Asia are turned away from me, of whom are Phygelus and Hermogenes." Now, it 4s a difficult thing to account for such a revolution toward. Paul in the place where his greatest labors were bestowed and his greatest triumphs achieved, and yet we must in some way account for it. There are three elements in the account:


1. The frown on Nero's face toward Christians would take away from Paul, or any other Christian, sympathy and cooperation, or even justice on the part of Roman population.


2. Under the shadow of that frown, like wild beasts at night, come out the old Jewish opponents of Paul and attack him, the more incensed because of his recent letter to the Hebrews. So he says to Timothy: "Alexander, the coppersmith, displayed much evil behavior to me. The Lord will reward him according to his deeds, against whom be thou on thy guard also, for he strongly withstood our words." Then in another part of the letter he mentions Hymeneus and Philetus, apostates from the faith whose words eat as a canker. In the great discourse at Miletus, years before, he had warned them that from among them should arise wolves, not sparing the flock. So long as Paul had Roman favor, they could not proceed to extremities against him, but now that Rome is persecuting Christians, all of these Judaizing teachers came out in bitterest opposition against Paul.


3. This is now about the year A.D. 68. In the year A.D. 70 Titus destroyed the city of Jerusalem, so at this time war was just about to break out in Judea between the Jews and the Romans. Josephus is in command in Galilee. We find a full account in his Jewish wars. The spirit that led them to revolt against Rome became exceedingly aggressive and proscriptive.


In Christ's time a publican was hated because he gathered Roman revenue. Jerusalem was always like a boiling pot and any one recommending submission to the powers that he was intensely hated. Everywhere Paul taught that Christians should pray for and be obedient to those in authority. These injunctions of Paul would naturally be intensely resented by what was at that time called the patriotic part of the Jewish people, those who wanted to rebel against Rome; "pay no tribute," they said, "but fight for natural freedom."


These things, together with the announcement in Hebrews of the abrogation of the Old Covenant and the impending destruction of the nation, account for the change of sentiment toward Paul in Proconsular Asia. Not only Christian Jews but Gentiles would be cowed by imperial disfavor, and so Judaizing teachers on the outskirts of each congregation would press the point that he was untrue to his own country in advocating submission to Rome. So all Asia was turned against Paul.


Hymeneus and Philetus, apostates from the faith, whose words eat like a gangrene, resume their profane babbling and overthrow the faith of others. Indeed, Paul might have starved, had not Onesiphorus in many things ministered to him at Ephesus, with the cognizance of Timothy. When Paul left Ephesus, according to this letter, he left Timothy in tears: "When I remember your tears." He first escaped to Miletus, a seaport, and from that place, in all probability, he hoped to get an outward bound ship that would take him far away. When he gets to Miletus, his staff begins to thin out.


He says, "Trophimus I left at Miletus sick, and Tychicus I sent back to Ephesus." They at Ephesus, yet friendly, would want to know how he was getting along, and then, too, he wants to have somebody there to relieve Timothy, so that Timothy can join him. Finding no outward bound vessel, he, as may be conjectured, takes a coasting vessel for Troas, that from that port he may reach Europe across the Aegean Sea.


We infer that after reaching Troas he left it in a hurry. That is inferable from the fact that he left his books, parchments, and cloak, which constituted his bed as well as outer protection in bad weather. He reached Corinth, and there another adjutant dropped out: "Erastus abode at Corinth." The staff keeps thinning.


Titus, it is possible, acting upon the letter sent him, has 'joined him. Somewhere, perhaps in Achaia, the bolt struck him. It is now lightning where it had been thunder. Notice the effect: "Then Demas forsook me, having loved this present world." Demas struck out for Thessalonica. It seems that to stay by Paul's side meant the next world, and Demas loved this present world. Crescens turns back toward Galatia, and Titus toward Dalmatia, only Luke is with him.


See how his crowd has thinned out, and how it answers the illustration I gave of the general and his staff meeting suddenly the fire of a masked battery. I have seen such a thing on the battlefield myself, and the "scatteration" that takes place, leaving the general alone, where just before the staff is parading all around him.


It is even worse at the other end of the line, that is, at Rome. When he gets there no friendly delegation comes out to meet and encourage him. Men through fear of Nero's deadly hate turn from Paul as from a leper. At his examining trial he stands alone: "In my first defense no one came to my help, but all forsook me. May it not be laid to their charge. But the Lord stood by me and empowered me, in order that through me the message might be fulfilled and all the Gentiles might hear." That is, Paul cannot die until he completes the gospel for the nations that are alien from the commonwealth of Israel.


Though the Lord stood by him, the strain of loneliness was terrific, and the hunger for human sympathy and companionship. This scene recalls an incident in the life of our Lord after his hard doctrine discourse on the Bread of Life at Capernaum. The record says that many of his disciples went back and walked with him no more, and Jesus said therefore unto the twelve, "Would ye also go away?"


So Paul, in this dire case, with some trace of apprehension seems to plead: "Oh, Timothy, don't you be ashamed of my chain; don't you fail to guard the deposit of faith which God gave to you. Come to me quickly, before winter, I need my cloak and books. Bring them. Pick up Mark by the way and bring him."


One ray of light shines in the gloom: Onesiphorus who had protected and supplied him in dangerous times at Ephesus, followed him all the way to Rome, hunts him up, and ministers to him many times, not being ashamed of Paul's chains. No wonder Paul says to Timothy: "May the Lord have mercy on the household of Onesiphorus, and reward him in that day." That was a plucky thing to do. There in Ephesus, when all Asia turned from him, Onesiphorus had said, "I will take care of you." And when he heard that Paul had been arrested and taken to Rome, he leaves his home and his business and goes to Rome. It is hard to find Paul now, not as it was before. Doubtless at this time he is shut up in a cell, but Onesiphorus finds him, and Paul says he came to him and refreshed him many times.


From this imprisonment Paul is not so hopeful of deliverance as before. He considers himself as already being offered up and the time of his departure at hand. He seems to consider that he has finished his course, and fought his fight, and yet later on in the letter he expects to winter at Rome. When he says, "At my first defense nobody stood with me," that seems to imply that he had a second examining trial, more favorable than the first one, and that somebody stood by him in that trial.


Whether Timothy finds him alive, this letter does not show. But it is sure that toward the last his condition is more favorable than at first. Indeed, there seems to have been quite a favorable reaction. How otherwise will you account for the letter's ending this way: "Give diligence to come before winter. Eubulus saluteth thee, and Pudens, and Linus, and Claudia, and all the brethren." And the preceding expression: "I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion." It seems that the situation has moderated.


They could not connect Paul with the burning of Rome, yet it may be that was the first charge against him and nobody would stand by him under such an accusation. It is evident that in this first trial Paul was delivered from imminent death, though held on other charges. If the charge were arson, Paul might well show his absence from the city at the time of the burning, and everywhere he taught against lawlessness, sedition, arson, anything that would subvert society, anything like anarchy.


Now I will take up the exegesis: The first thing to determine is about when was this letter written? Probably late in A.D. 67. The "winter" of this letter must be the same as the winter referred to in Titus. Winter is coming and he wants Timothy to come before navigation closes.


The salutation set forth in the first two verses contains a note of special affection: "Timothy, my beloved child." Circumstances call for this tenderness. The analysis consists of only one thing: A faithful minister of Jesus Christ. That is the subject of the whole letter – fidelity in a preacher. We will consider that fidelity, however, from many viewpoints. Whatever the viewpoint, one thing runs through this letter – be faithful to Jesus Christ from conversion to death.


Note his thanksgiving and prayer: "I thank God whom I serve from my forefathers in a pure conscience, how unceasing is my remembrance of thee in my supplications night and day." He left Timothy in a pretty hard place, with that menacing coppersmith, all those Judaizing teachers, and with the hostile attitude of the Roman power.


Next thought: "Longing to see you." We may rest assured that that is not a formal statement. If there was anything on this earth that Paul wanted right then, apart from God's favor, it was to see Timothy. What brought up that longing to see him? "Remembering thy tears." When Paul had to leave Ephesus so suddenly, he had left Timothy in tears. Remembering this, it makes Paul long to see him.


Now comes a second remembrance. He is in a position where memory would have much to do with both his prayers and his longings. "Having been reminded of the unfeigned faith in thee." Who brought that reminder? Somebody must have brought a message to Paul that Timothy's faith was standing like a rock. I think it was Onesiphorus, whose coming constitutes a part at least of the occasion of the letter. When he contemplates the steadfastness of Timothy's faith as repored by Onesiphorus, he thinks of its origin: "Which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and in thy mother Eunice." Paul's mind goes back to that first meeting held in Derbe, those Jewish women, the mother, the daughter, and the daughter's little boy sitting in the audience, and under his preaching all were converted.


His mind, rapidly reviewing the past, comes to his second meeting with Timothy on the occasion of his ordination, hence the exhortation: '"For which cause I put thee in remembrance, that thou stir up the gift of God [now, Timothy, I want your memory exercised] which is in thee through the laying on of hands." When Timothy was ordained, Paul was in the presbytery. After the prayer the presbytery passed by and each one laid his hand on Timothy's head. When Paul's hands touched his head the mighty power of the Spirit of God came upon him. "Timothy, stir up that gift; don't let it rust from disuse. That gift was made for use."


That is a good exhortation for any preacher. Whatever gifts the Lord has given us, we can make them stronger by use, or we can enfeeble them by disuse. Sometimes a spirit of lethargy comes on a preacher; he seems to be spiritually about half asleep. He needs to stir up the gifts which have been given him. I remember once for about two or three weeks, while I could theoretically take hold of things, I could not take hold of them with my soul. When that time comes to us, let us stir up our gifts.

 

QUESTIONS

 

1. Give the circumstances under which this letter was written.

 

2. When and where written?

 

3. How account for the sudden revolution toward Paul?

 

4. Who entertained Paul on his last visit to Ephesus?

 

5. What route did Paul take when he left Timothy at Ephesus, what points did he touch, and what of his staff?

 

6. How received at Rome?

 

7. What one ray of light shines in the gloom?

 

8. What passage in this letter indicates his loss of hope of deliverance?

 

9. What indications that conditions were more favorable toward the end?

 

10. What the tenderness in the salutation and why?

 

11. Put the analysis into one great theme.

 

12. What are Paul's remembrances as expressed in his thanksgiving?

 

 

XII

 

(Return to Contents)

 

A FAITHFUL MINISTER OF JESUS CHRIST

2 Timothy 1:7 to 2:5

 


We closed the last chapter with the statement that when Paul laid his hands on Timothy's head, the power of the Spirit came upon him. He reminds Timothy of the fact that the gift of the Spirit has for one of its purposes to confer boldness and courage. That leads us to see the application, verse 7: "For God gave us not a spirit of fearfulness; but of power and love, and discipline."


We see the force of the "therefore" with which verse 8 commences: "Be not ashamed therefore of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but suffer hardship with the gospel according to the power of God." Paul did not know but that Timothy over there, with all that outgoing tide might do like some of the others – get scared and be ashamed of the gospel and its testimony. I have known preachers who were ashamed of it in what is called "polite society."


Paul illustrated by referring to God's salvation and calling, "Who saved us and called us, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace which was given us in Christ Jesus before times eternal [he never loses sight of the doctrine of election and foreordination], but hath now been manifested by the appearing of our Saviour, Jesus Christ." Now comes a great text. I have preached from it about thirty times in my life: "Our Saviour, Jesus Christ, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel."


When the Southern Baptist Convention met in New Orleans, I was appointed to preach at a Presbyterian church at night. I took that text and for just about one hour, without stopping, and with great fervor, I preached on it. The Presbyterian preacher's wife said she knew I had written it and memorized it word for word. But I had not. My heart was in it, and speaking of the King my tongue became as the pen of a ready writer.


"Jesus Christ, who abolished death." Very few people believe that. He said to Martha: "Whosoever liveth and believeth on me shall never die. Believest thou this?" What is meant by it? Not altogether as death was abolished in the cases of Enoch and Elijah, and the living who are to be changed at the second coming of Christ, as it was originally intended that man should, by access to the tree of life, be freed from all susceptibility to weakness and death and mortality, and become immortal. That is not the meaning here. What is meant is that in the separation of soul and body there is a difference between the believer's case and the sinner's case. To one, in a true sense, death is abolished, and to the other it is not abolished.


The meaning can more accurately be conveyed by an illustration: In the Pentateuch Canaan is the Land of Promise, and Egypt is this world. There are types running all through the pilgrimages. The last barrier intervening between them and the Promised Land is the river Jordan. When they got to the river it was at its flood – no bridges, no boat. They had to cross that – men, women, children, flocks, and herds. Without any explanation God commands them to go straight forward: and it came to pass that when the feet of the priest who went before the ark of the covenant, touched the brim of the water, the river divided. God stayed the waters, and the waters backed up against his will, his will being the dam that stopped it, all the water below ran off, and they crossed over dry-shod. In that illustration we see that when they came to the last barrier separating them from the Promised Land, that dreadful river was no river to them. The channel was there, but they passed over dry-shod. It is represented this way in our hymnology:


Could I but climb where Moses stood and view the landscape o'er Not Jordan's stream, nor death's cold flood could fright me from the shore.


When the Christian dies, no matter what suffering his body may seem to go through, in the hour of dissolution of his soul and body, there is no death, no matter whether he is a young Christian or an old one. It is no more than stepping over a chalk mark on the floor; it is no more than stepping through a door into another room. It is to him all light – no darkness.


Take the case of Lazarus: "And it came to pass that the beggar died [no pause at all], and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom." Abraham reclining at a banquet in the kingdom of heaven, many coming from the north, south, east, and west, and reclining with him; one of them is Lazarus, who was starving on earth, begging the crumbs that fell from the rich man's table. At the very instant of his death he passed to the heavenly banquet, and received the honorable place next to Abraham, so that his head is against Abraham's bosom, as John at the Lord's table rested his head on the bosom of Jesus.


That is what Paul means by abolishing death. There is no sting. My soul has so taken possession of that thought, and I have witnessed so many cases where dying Christians realized it, that I have not had any fear of death whatever for many years. There is nothing horrible in it to me, not a bit more than just lying down and going to sleep. Jesus has abolished death to his people.


I have before quoted the testimony of a Methodist bishop, who all of his lifetime feared death; it was a terrible thing to him. He was afraid that when he came to die his agitation would bring reproach on the cause of Christ. He was not afraid of any external enemy, but was afraid that in dying his fear might reproach Christ's name. But just as he was dying his eyes were opened) his face was shilling, and looking around the room he said, "Brethren, brethren, is this death – this light, this glory? Why should I have dreaded it?" That is the thought. "Our Saviour, Jesus Christ, hath abolished death." The bearing of this on Timothy's case was this: "Persecutors are seeking your life, as they seek mine. Remember that the Lord said they cannot kill the soul. They cannot even bring terror to the soul, in the dissolution of soul and body." There is no sting in death to the Christian. The sting of death is sin, and sin has been blotted out. The strength of sin is the law, and the law has been satisfied. The power of death is the devil, but he has been conquered.


Now look at the second part: "Who hath abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel." What is life? Life everlasting for the soul. A man dies and there lies his cold body. Where is that which a few moments ago warmed and animated that body? As Job said: "Man dieth and giveth up his spirit. Where is he?" When Jesus brought life to light, and he himself entered into the realm of death, that bourne from which no traveler has ever returned, and came back from it, he flashed a flood of light upon the status of the spirits of the departed saints. That status existed before, but had never been brought to light.


The river Niger has many mouths and empties itself into the Gulf of Guinea. It has always had them, ever since it has been a river, but the fact was not brought to light until a few years ago. Travelers inland would speak of a great river flowing southwesterly) which must somewhere empty into the Atlantic Ocean. But sailors who had coasted along the coast of Africa and finding no such great river emptying into the Atlantic, were positive that it was all a lie – that there was no such river) for a river must flow somewhere. Finally Dr. Lardner went inland and struck it. He got in a boat and determined to follow it to the ocean to find out where the river went. Thus by actual experiment he discovered that before reaching the Atlantic the river divided into a great many small streams) reaching the ocean through a delta.


Just so, Jesus, having entered personally into the disembodied state, and returned to the embodied state of his resurrection, opened up to us the path of life – that is, the path of the soul. It goes right to heaven. Now, immortality is quite a different thing; that concerns the body. When he came back he brought to light the immortality of the body through his resurrection, that God intended to save the whole man, not only his soul, but to raise and glorify his body.


In view of the fact that our Saviour had abolished death and brought to light the life of the soul and the immortality of the body, by the power of his resurrection, why should we be afraid of death? What is there frightful in it? Paul says, Jesus having brought back these messages, concerning both the state of the soul, and the future redemption of the body, the next. thing is the gospel, the story of God, or glad tidings. He says, "I was appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and & teacher."


Look at these three words. I was appointed to go out and preach these things to the people intimidated by formidable adversaries, in bondage to the fear of death, the sting of sin, the strength of the law, and back of it all the power of the devil which pressed to pallid lips the cup of death. I was appointed to go out and tell everybody these good things. That is preaching.


Then he says, "I was appointed an apostle." That is a very different idea. An apostle must be a witness to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He testified that he was an eyewitness. How? "I have seen the Lord since he came back. He appeared to me on the road to Damascus. He has stood by me many times since. I saw him in his glory, and therefore I am an apostle. I am a witness to that resurrection."


The other thought is that he was appointed a teacher. That is somewhat different from a preacher. A teacher instructs and expounds; a preacher proclaims. The teacher takes the word of God and rightly divides it, giving to each one his portion in due season, administering the sincere milk of the word to young converts, and the meat to the more mature Christians. That is the distinction between preacher, apostle, and teacher.


He goes on: "For which cause I suffer all these things, yet I am not ashamed." "These things have not come upon me because I have done wrong. How can there be shame unless I have sinned? I have robbed no temples, I have committed no murder, I have violated neither the Jewish nor the Roman law; but these sufferings have come upon me because I have preached these glad tidings, witnessed these glad tidings, and taught these glad tidings."


He continues the thought (Paul's thoughts are always connected) : "am not ashamed." "If I had stolen something, or had killed a man and had been convicted therefore before the court, I might be ashamed. But these things have come upon me because I have done what I ought to do, and I am not ashamed and you ought not to be."


That brings us to the next great text: "I know him whom I have believed." Faith is not credulity; it is founded on knowledge, as Dr. Taylor so well put it in a sermon, the outline of which appears in chapter 3. "Knowledge brings you near to the kingdom, faith puts you in it." Knowledge precedes faith. "I know him whom I believed. I never would have attained this serene confidence by some kinds of knowledge. It is not what I know, but whom I know, the personality of Christ, and I am persuaded, I have assurance in my mind, that Jesus is able to guard what I have committed to him."


Paul by faith received Christ, and then by faith committed to Christ his life: "Now I have turned that over to the Lord; it is in his keeping. If you say that I am not a skilled swordsman and am therefore unable to defend my life, I will admit it. If you say that my powers are below the powers of the devil, who seeks my life, I will admit it. But I have this persuasion: The very day I believed in Christ I committed all to him, and my life is hid in Christ with God, and I am persuaded that he is able to guard it today, tonight, tomorrow, next week, next year, when I die, after I die, and clear on until that day, i.e., the time when he will come back, and when he comes he will bring it with him. He will guard what I have committed unto him through all peril periods. There will be no after perils when Jesus comes again."


Verse 13: "Hold the pattern of sound words which thou hast heard from me, in faith and love, which is in Christ Jesus." Modern people say, "Don't have much creed, and when you state it, don't let it take any particular form. Somebody might object." Paul said, "I delivered you a pattern of sound words, and you are to take it just as I gave it to you. You are not to change it." No man is true to the faith who departs from the pattern.


Suppose, for example, baptism, the pattern is this: "They both went down into the water; John baptized him and they both came up out of the water." What did he do when he baptized him? Christ was buried in baptism, and we with Christ were buried in baptism in the likeness of his death and raised in the likeness of his resurrection. That is the pattern. Why not just sprinkle a few drops on one's head? That changes the pattern. It changes the thought. Let it stand as it was given.


We may apply that pattern to the Lord's Supper. We notice how carefully a Baptist preacher, when he administers the Lord's Supper, quotes Christ's very words, and the words that Paul used in repeating the ordinance. Why? He must stick to the pattern. He must present the ordinance just as we received it.


He refers to the same thing again in verse 14: "That good thing which was committed unto thee, guard through the Holy Spirit which dwelleth in us." Some say it makes no difference what a man believes if his heart is all right. If his heart is all right he will not believe all sorts of things. "As a man thinketh in his heart, so he is." It is the faith we have that forms the life we live.


In the introductory chapter I expounded verses 15-18. What Paul refers to here is what took place when the storm broke on him. All Asia turned away from him. Only Onesiphorus and Timothy stood by him. Speaking of Onesiphorus: "How many things he ministered at Ephesus thou knowest very well." Then when he heard that Paul was a prisoner at Rome, he went to Rome and many times refreshed him there. That closes the chapter.


2:1: "Thou, therefore, my child, be strengthened in the grace that is in Jesus Christ." When Paul wrote this he knew that the time of his departure was at hand, and he knew that he had given to Timothy a pattern of sound words, he had given him the faith. But he knew that Timothy would die after a while, and what then? "And the things which thou hast heard from me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also." That is the way the gospel is handed down.


A truly sound preacher is possessed with the desire that somebody who hears him will receive the gospel in full from him, and long after he has passed away will transmit that very thing to somebody else, and that one in turn to his successor, and then to another, and just keep it going. That is succession, and I believe in the succession of the past, but especially in the succession of the present. No matter what we believe about succession back yonder, this is my day and I have the deposit of faith and the injunction is on me to transmit it to somebody else. I am more concerned about present succession than in spending my life trying to prove that there was one way back yonder, though there was one way back yonder, too. Remember the soldier hymns: "Am I a soldier of the cross," and "My soul, be on thy guard."


Listen to Paul's soldier talk: "Suffer hardship with me as a good soldier of Christ Jesus." Soldiers do not sleep in the parlor (by the way, that is the worst room on the place to sleep in) ; he does not attend many banquets. Sometimes we see him with just one shoe, and sometimes none. Sometimes he has to stand guard all night, and sometimes "double quick." Sometimes he is cold and sometimes hot. Sometimes he is hungry and sometimes gorged. The army that can endure such hardships is going to win.


The fashion soldiers in times of peace, with their hurrahs, gorgeous uniforms, flags flying, drums beating, attending receptions, making speeches, these we call "holiday soldiers"; but the soldier who goes into the fight when the command, "charge!" is given, never stops to consider the wisdom in it, but storms the fortress crowned with belching artillery and bristling bayonets, is the real soldier.


"No soldier on service entangleth himself in the affairs of this life; that he may please him who enrolled him as a soldier." When a man enlists he is on service as a soldier. He cannot go to the exchange to gamble; cannot go to the farm to make a crop; he cannot entangle himself with the affairs of this life; he is committed to a special line of duty. "Now, Timothy, you are a soldier on duty; beware of entangling alliances."


I knew one preacher who ran fifteen kinds of secular businesses, and was then surprised that he was not equal to Paul as a preacher! He had that many irons in the fire. I would advise the preacher not to try to ride, at the same time, two horses going in opposite directions. But that is as easy as it is for a preacher to entangle himself with the affairs of this world. If he makes a good deal of money, he will take the sore throat, and every time one sees him he will explain how he had to quit preaching on account of his voice failing; that his physicians advised him to stop.


But let a preacher be nearly barefooted, with not much of this world's goods, and with the fire burning in his heart that he must preach, and he will preach. But if he is able to go in a coach and six, he always says, "Put up some of the other brethren."


I knew one preacher who was doing well as a pastor until a rich man called him to be his private secretary. Since then he has quit preaching, and is now only a millionaire.


"And if also a man contend in the games, he is not crowned except that he contend lawfully." Every man must conform to the law relating to the line in which he is engaged. If he is a farmer he must be ready to go to work just as the sun rises. There are some other occupations that do not call for such early rising. But whatever his line of work, he must conform to the laws governing it.

 

QUESTIONS

 

1. What the force of "therefore" in verse 8?

 

2. How does Paul illustrate here?

 

3. What great text follows, and what the meaning of "abolished death"?

 

4. Illustrate by Canaan and Egypt; also by the case of the Methodist bishop.

 

5. What the bearing of this on Timothy's case?

 

6. What the meaning of "life" here? Illustrate.

 

7. What the meaning of "immortality"?

 

8. What effect should the teaching of this text have on a child of God?

 

9. Distinguish between the meanings of the words "preacher," "apostle," and "teacher."

 

10. What are some causes for shame, and what not a cause for shame?

 

11. What the relation of faith to knowledge?

 

12. What kind of knowledge brings salvation? 13, What had Paul committed to Jesus Christ, and what his confidence?

 

14. What the meaning of "pattern of sound words"? Illustrate.

 

15. What God's method of preserving the truth and keeping it always before men?

 

16. What was Paul's idea of a good soldier of Jesus Christ?

 

17. What general principle cited here by Paul?

 

 

XIII

 

(Return to Contents)

 

ILLUSTRATIONS OF A FAITHFUL MINISTER

2 Timothy 2:6-26

 


This section includes 2 Timothy 2. In the preceding chapter we discussed somewhat the first five verses of this chapter, but in order to a full understanding of the connection we now glance at the whole chapter.


The first question I propound is this: What the gospel provision for the transmission of the correct teaching? The answer to that question is this: "And the things which thou hast heard from me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also" (2:2). Evidently the gospel contemplates a succession of the gospel ministry from the days of Christ to the end of the world. What Christ gives to Paul, Paul gives to the churches and commits to the preachers, and charges the churches and the preachers to commit that same thing, without variation, to faithful men coming after, that they in their turn may teach others. It is not my intention to show that there has been, historically, such a succession of churches and gospel preachers. I think there has been such succession, but I think it would be very difficult to prove it according to human history, if for no other reason, because so very large a part of that history was written by the enemies of evangelical Christianity. Particularly in the dark ages, those faithful to apostolic doctrines were so hunted and persecuted they had no opportunity to preserve records. But we do see faithful churches and faithful preachers now, and every one would be able to say, as far as his own knowledge goes, it was transmitted to him. I don't suppose that anybody ever originated it. From this day back to Christ, in some way, by some faithful preacher or other, or by some faithful church, the truth has been handed down. That is the answer to that first question.


The second question is: What is the first metaphor, or figure, by which the apostle illustrates the faithful minister? The answer to that is to be found in verses 3-4: "Suffer hardships with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier on service entangleth himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier."


In this illustration, or metaphor, the Christian is compared to a soldier, a regularly enlisted soldier, and as a soldier gives up his private business, places his whole time and his entire service under the direction of the power that enlisted him, so the Christian preacher should not entangle himself with the affairs of this world. As a faithful soldier has no time to run a farm, or be a merchant, or be a banker, or to follow any other kind of business, so it was certainly the purpose of our Lord that the preacher should make preaching his life's business.


On that similitude of the Christian as a soldier, much of Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress is founded, using that chapter in Ephesians about putting on the helmet, the breastplate, the girdle, the sandals, the shield, the sword. The Christian is contemplated as waging warfare. Paul says of himself in this letter, "I have fought a good fight." From that idea come some of our best hymns:
Am I a soldier of the cross,


A follower of the Lamb? And shall I fear to own His cause,


Or blush to speak His name? Must I be carried to the skies


On flowery beds of ease, While others fought to win the prize,


And sailed through bloody seas?


What the second metaphor, or illustration of the faithful preacher? That is found in verse 5: "And if also a man contend in the games, he is not crowned except he contend lawfully." References to the games in Paul's letters are so abundant, we cannot interpret him without a knowledge of them.


The principal games in Greece were called the Olympic games. These games were held on the plain of Olympia, on the river Alpheus. The isthmus of Corinth connects upper and lower Greece. The lower part is called the Peloponnesus, which is almost an island. In the western part of the Peloponnesus is the river Alpheus. On the right bank of that river lies a level plain. In that plain is a grove sacred to Jupiter, and in that grove is a marvelous temple. In that temple was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world – a colossal statue of Jupiter Olympus, done in gold and ivory, by Phidias, one of the greatest of the Greek sculptors. Then there was the statue to Minerva overlooking Athens. She was the patron goddess of the city and so here this gigantic statue, made of ivory and gold, represented the patron of the Olympic games. These famous games were held from 776 B.C. to A.D. 394, over a thousand years. They were discontinued by an edict of a Christian emperor of Rome – Theodosius, but for that thousand years they attracted the attention of the world.


These games were held every four years – the first full moon after the summer solstice. From them chronology was reckoned for the Greek world. The first Olympiad was 776 B.C., the second four years later; so by four-year periods they continued until their abolition. Pagan Rome reckoned from the building of their city, until the new epoch of Christ's birth superseded both.


Commencing 776 B.C., for one or two Olympiads these games were foot races only. Soon after were added quoit and javelin throwing, wrestling, boxing, leaping, and still later chariot races. A hippodrome was built covering a circuit of 2,400 feet. The chariots had to drive around that circle twelve times, making a five-mile race. In Ben Hur there is a brilliant description of the chariot race. In the Greek games were no combats with weapons, no gladiators, no fights with lions. The Romans added these bloody contests.


That the whole Greek race might attend the Olympic games, a truce was established so there would be no war anywhere between the petty states while the Olympic games were being played. No state was allowed to send an armed man up to these games. It was a time of peace and festivity. The general and peaceful gathering of all the petty Greek states at the Olympic games gave them the name "panegyris" as opposed to each particular "ecclesia." This distinction Paul utilizes in the letter to the Hebrews. The general festive assembly of all the saints when warfare is over, the eternal feast in the presence of God.


Now let us consider verse 5: "And if a man contend in the games, he is not crowned except he contend lawfully." That brings us to the rules of the games. In the first place, they were open to all classes of competitors. Whatever might be the home distinction between the plutocrat and the poor man, at the Olympic games they were on a dead level. It was not how rich is the man, nor how illustrious, but can he now as a man win this athletic contest?


The second rule was that he must be of pure Greek descent. A mixed blood could not contend. He must make proof of that before the judges.


The third was that he must have had ten solid months of preparation under competent coaches. After that ten months of training he must give one more month to exercise. No man, whatever his wealth or social status, could compete without this thorough training and exercise on the field itself. Mark the bearing of this on the training of preachers, if you please, because this is a preacher illustration.


The next rule was that he, and every member of his family, must take an oath that he would observe the rules of the games, that he would not play foul. His own father or brother must take the oath that he would play fair. If he played foul in one of these games he was judged a degraded man and must pay a heavy fine. All over the grove were seen remarkable works of art paid for out of the fines assessed on men who would not play fair. Hence we have in our times the proverb: "Play the game according to the rules."


The next rule was that no form of bribery should be used, either to bribe a judge, or to bribe a competitor, paying him so much money to let them win. Whoever offered or took a bribe was disgraced.


The next rule was that the crown awarded to the victor must have no intrinsic value. They wanted no financial incentive. Honor and glory – not gold and jewels – must be the incentive.


The next rule was: No women were ever permitted to be present. In all of my readings I do not remember but one woman being present at these games. A woman might enter a chariot in competition, but some male friend must drive the chariot.


The next rule was that this competitor, having shown that he was born a pure Greek, must also show that he had never been disfranchised, that he had never been guilty of a sacrilege, like robbing a temple or anything of that kind. These were the rules.


Let us see again: "And if a man contend in the games, he is not crowned except he contend lawfully." He must observe every regulation, and his crown of victory was a wreath. In order to deepen the interest in those panegyric assemblies, the great poets were here accustomed to recite their poems, and the great sculptors and painters to exhibit their masterpieces, so that it was somewhat of the nature of a fair. They could sell these poems, or those pieces of sculpture, or paintings. After a while people not only came from Greece proper, but from all the colonies of Greece, all along the shores of the Mediterranean Sea – wherever in the world the Greeks had a city, wherever Alexander's conquest had extended, the Greeks would come here to witness or to contend. At first the assembly lasted just one day. Just think of what it would cost to be present for one day! Later it lasted five days. It was a glorious time, those five days.


Those were the Olympic games. And yet we must see in some of Paul's writings references to the Isthmian games near Corinth and the amphitheaters of Greek cities, as at Ephesus. Later when the Roman idea dominated, they put in gladiators, and fights with lions. They became blood-crazed, and women were allowed to attend. When gladiators fought until covered with blood, it was at the option of the crowd to indicate whether they wanted the combat to stop without death. They voted by turning their thumbs up or down; and it was noticeable that women usually voted for a fight to the death. So are they merciless in the Spanish or Mexican bull fights. But all these bloody combats were of Roman origin. Paul may have spoken literally in saying, "I have fought with wild beasts at Ephesus."


Now, brother preacher, you are entering a race. As Paul says, "Let us run with patience the race that is set before us." You will not receive your crown if you do not contend lawfully – if you do not observe the rules of Christ's games. As they must be of pure Greek descent so must you be born of the Spirit. You must train, you must lay aside every weight and the sin which doth so easily beset you. You must fix your eye upon the heavenly crown, not of fading laurel or olive bough, but the crown which Christ, the righteous Lord, will give to us at his appearing. Said Paul: "I have run my race and finished my course, and henceforth there is laid up for me a crown which Christ, the righteous Judge, will give to me." It is laid up in some of the mansions of heaven, and if you were permitted to visit heaven's gallery of waiting crowns, you might see the most dazzling crown ever designed for human brow. That is Paul's. When does he receive that crown? When Jesus comes, in the presence of the universe, he will be crowned for being faithful to the game, for playing the game according to the rules. One of the most convincing arguments in the whole Bible for the necessity of ministerial training is this illustration of Paul comparing the preacher's preparation to the work of a soldier and to a contender in the Olympic games.


The next illustration or metaphor is verse 6: "The husbandman that laboreth must be the first to partake of the fruits." It is the farmer this time. First a soldier, then a con tender in the games, now a farmer. What about his work? Whoever does the work must receive first pay. No matter who owns the land, this man who did the plowing, who did the hoeing, who did the planting and cultivating, before anybody else gets anything, he is entitled to his part. What a fine thought to apply to political economy: not to let the man who does the work be deprived of what is coming to him. Therefore, they who preach the gospel shall live of the gospel. The laborer is worthy of his hire.


The fourth metaphor or illustration is covered in verses 1012, the thought culminating in, "If we suffer with him we shall reign with him," and it is expressed in these words: the cross before the crown. We do not come to the crown first; we go by the way of the cross. That is the given order. What Shylock said of the Jew is true of the Christian, "Sufferance is the badge of all our tribe," and we must suffer if we would reign. On that point we have some magnificent hymns. One of them is:


Must Jesus bear the cross alone And all the world go free?


No, there's a cross for every one, And there's a cross for me.
Or, the way that hymn was originally written: "Must Simon bear the cross alone." On the way to Calvary, they found a man named Simon coming in from the country, and when Jesus broke down they compelled Simon to bear his cross and that song originally read: "Must Simon bear the cross alone and all the world go free?"


I knew a preacher who once invited all who thought their sufferings beyond their strength, more than they could bear, to come and hear him preach a sermon. There was a big crowd out, and it was a burdened crowd. He took this text: "If we suffer with him we shall reign with him," his theme being the cross before the crown. He drew a picture of the pilgrim who bears the cross. "If any man will be my disciple, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." He showed how the disciple from a child must bear a heavy cross, and how at times he stumbles with it, groans under it, is weary of it, envies people who have no burden, but how after a while, bowed down with the burden of the cross of long carrying, with trembling feet he comes to the Jordan of death. And when he gets there he shouts and takes his cross, as Elijah took his mantle, and smites the river of death with it and divides the river, going over dry-shod, leaving his cross behind never to be seen any more forever, and goes up to his waiting crown. So it pays to carry the cross even that long, as with it he divides the river of death.


Notice in verse 10: "Therefore I endure all things for the elect's sake." There we come to a new motive. "Why do you endure all this suffering, Paul?" "Not only for Christ's sake, but for the elect's sake. I am anxious for their salvation. If I can reach more men by suffering, I will bear it. If I can save souls by my bleeding wounds, by my jangling chains, by my stripes, and by my imprisonment – if that gives me more power in converting men, then for the elect's sake I will bear it."


I next call attention to a great theme in verse 15: "Give diligence to present thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, handling aright the word of truth." What a commentary that is upon the necessity of ministerial training. Be careful to present thyself approved, tested. God puts us to a test, and we are to endure this test, and we should be very careful that we are approved under any test he may propose. "Handling aright," or as a good rendering states it, "dividing aright the word of truth." I have heard many sermons on "the right dividing of the word of truth." The idea is that of a farmer plowing a straight furrow, not crooked, curved, or zigzag. I have seen in a great field men plowing a straight line for a mile – straight as an arrow. So, when we come to the discussion of the truth, we should plow a straight furrow, divide it right, handle it right. ing to flush something, but go straight to the mark, hew to the We should not zigzag around among words as if we were tryline, and if we are tested as a minister of God we can do that. Here is one way by which we may know that we are plowing a straight furrow: If we put on some passage an interpretation which in the next book will run up against a wall, or strike it, that furrow won't go clear through the Bible and we have the wrong idea about it. If we have the right idea it will be a straight furrow from Genesis to Revelation. It will be according to the canon, or rule of the truth.


For instance: If we so preach election that we knock over some other doctrine; or if we so preach on human effort as to plow up the doctrines of election and predestination, then we have not plowed a straight furrow. What a great theme for ministerial training!


Now let us consider verse 18: "Hymeneus and Philetus, men who concerning the truth have erred, saying the resurrection is past already, and overthrow the faith of some." What do they mean by saying the resurrection had passed already? Mainly this: They argued that the resurrection of the body that dies is foolishness) and that what is meant by the resurrection is the conversion of the soul. That the quickening of the soul in regeneration is the only resurrection. Later this idea succeeded: That the resurrection is when the soul, at death, escapes from the body which held it. It has no more use for the body than a butterfly has for its cast-off chrysalis. Paul says that that doctrine eats like a cancer. It denies the salvation of the body, and thus denies the real resurrection of Jesus Christ. Notice further he says that they overthrow the faith of some. Does this mean that these men so fell away from grace as to be lost forever? Let us look at the next verse: "Howbeit the firm foundation of God standeth, having this seal." Here were men who professed to be Christians. Now come these false teachers and persuade them to abandon the true teaching, overthrowing their faith. Does that mean apostasy in the modern sense of the word? "The foundation of God standeth, having this seal." What is the seal? ,The seal is the impress of the Holy Spirit, and on every seal there are two surfaces, and on each surface is an inscription. On this seal the first inscription is: "The Lord knoweth them that are his." The Lord's true man is scaled, and the impress on one side of the seal saith: "The Lord knoweth them that are his," whether men do or not, God does. Judas was not sealed.


Now let us look at the other side of the seal: "And let every one that nameth the name of the Lord depart from unrighteous-ness." One inscription shows God's infallible knowledge of their salvation. The other shows that whom God saves departs from iniquity. These are the two inscriptions on the seal. Let us never talk about baptism being the seal. We are sealed by the Holy Spirit, and that seal has two sides – two different impressions on it. First, "The Lord knoweth them that are his." Second, those that are sealed depart from iniquity. And if a man never departs from iniquity, Jesus will say, "I never knew you."


We now come to verse 20: "Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some unto honor, and some unto dishonor. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honor, sanctified, meet for the Master's use, prepared unto every good work." In every great house – that is, in every great congregation, every great church – are different vessels. They are not all the same thing. Some are vessels unto dishonor, some unto honor. One may be compared to gold, another to silver; others are just wood, inflammable, and will perish in the fire. That is what is meant by a vessel of dishonor in the church. Compare 1 Corinthians 3:12-13. But though a man be a false professor while in the church, the way is yet open for his conversion. If he will purify himself from that dishonor, seek purification in the blood of Jesus Christ, he shall become a vessel of honor.

 

QUESTIONS

 

1. What the gospel provision for transmission of correct doctrine and what does this necessarily imply?

 

2. What the first illustration in chapter 2 to show ministerial fidelity, and what the particular lesson taught?

 

3. What the second illustration and its particular lesson?

 

4. Cite from Paul's writings at least six metaphors based on the athletic games of ancient Greece and Rome.

 

5. Give an account of the Olympic games, the place and its celebrities, what the time interval between them, how long did the festival last, how long the period of their observance, how used in chronology, when and by whom abolished?

 

6. What the games?

 

7. What additions to the Greek games made by the Romans?

 

8. What the rules of the Olympic games?

 

9. What the bearing of the illustration on the necessity of ministerial training?

 

10. Name another distinguished place for these games.

 

11. What other arenas for these games in all great Greek cities, citing one?

 

12. How did the Greeks provide for peace between, the petty warring Greek states at the Olympic games?

 

13. How did they distinguish in name between this general gathering and the governing body in a particular state and how does Paul use and apply both names?

 

14. What the crown awarded, why not of intrinsic value and how does Paul contrast the Christian's crown?

 

15. When is the Christian's crown awarded?

 

16. What features of a fair characterized the Olympic games?

 

17. What Paul's fourth illustration of ministerial fidelity and in what phrase do we embody it?

 

18. Cite the hymn based on this illustration and how did it originally read?

 

19. Give some account of the preacher's sermon to all who felt that their cross wag too heavy and how did it end?

 

20. What new motive does Paul introduce in Christian suffering and how do you apply it?

 

21. Show the application to ministerial training in the great theme in 2:15.

 

22. What the idea in "rightly dividing" or "handling aright" the word of truth?

 

23. What the original meaning of those who said: "The resurrection ia already past"?

 

24. The later meaning?

 

25. How does Paul characterize the heresy?

 

26. Expound the reference to the seal and its inscriptions?

 

27. Expound the passage concerning vessels of honor and of dishonor in a great house, i. e., (1) What the meaning of the house? (2) Who are meant by vessels of honor? (3) By vessels of dishonor? (4) The hope held out to vessels of dishonor? (5) Compare with the passage in 1 Corinthians 3.

 

 

XIV

 

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CHARACTERISTICS OF THE LAST DAY

2 Timothy 3:1-17

 


We continue the discussion of the second letter to Timothy with chapter 3. The apostle calls attention to some characteristics of the last day, just as he did in chapter 4 of his first letter, and Just as we find in Peter's second letter. "Mockers shall come with mockery, walking after their own lusts." I do not know in any literature such a description of the character of man as given here, except that by the same author in Romans 1.


What does Paul mean by "last days"? The phrase "last days" to be properly expounded, requires a whole chapter. The "last days" in many instances means gospel days, but in the case immediately before us, and in the parallel passage in the letter to the Hebrews, there seems to be a reference to the closing days of the dispensation. He does not mean that progressing Christians will all be that way, but he is warning against a class.


We have them with us now. If a country boy were lifted up suddenly and put into the atmosphere that surrounds what is called the higher circle in Paris, London, New York, or Washington, he would say, "Last days!" It would be questionable with him whether any of those occupying front places in national society have any character at all.


Let us look at this paragraph: "Men shall be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, haughty, railers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, implacable, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, no lovers of good, traitors, headstrong, puffed up, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God; holding a form of godliness, but having denied the power thereof."


The surprising thing of these characteristics is that they are applied to church members – men that have a form of godliness but deny its power. We now sometimes meet with a heresy affirming the power of godliness, but denying its form. Such heretics do not want any form of a church or particular ordinances, and lay great stress on spirituality and internal relation with God. But he commits a sin who denies form to godliness. It is an old question: What is chaff to the wheat? It depends upon the stage of the wheat. After the wheat is threshed the chaff is nothing, but it amounts to much until the wheat matures. It is the form which protects and shields it. And we must have a form of godliness in order to godliness of spirit. But when we insist on having form only, it reminds one of a man going into a field during the last great drought we had in Texas. The corn looked all right, good large ears, but when he gathered it he found nothing but shucks. Just the form. No corn was there.


What I want to impress upon the reader is that form is essential to the purpose which it serves, but more important than form is the inner life. There is an inner man and an outer man. We cannot safely disregard the outer man. We may say that we will live spiritually, but the body gets cold, it gets hungry, it has to be clothed and fed. There is an intimate relation between the body and the spirit. A Quaker may say, "We have no form of baptism; we believe in baptism of the Spirit, and we dispense-with all externalities." That is a capital mistake, and contrary to the Bible, but this mistake which Paul is here discussing is infinitely worse. They held onto the form and left out altogether the heart and power of religion.


Romans 1:28-32 resembles this passage somewhat: "And even as they refused to have God in their knowledge, God gave them up unto a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with unrighteousness, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, hateful to God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, unmerciful, etc."


It is easy to see bow that parallels with the one we are considering. The sin of the Timothy passage is more heinous, for these are professed Christians that have these characteristics. Claiming to be Christians, and yet with such characteristics as these I There are times of spiritual power and strict discipline when people are not allowed to retain the form of religion, when their lives are at variance with the form. But at times of spiritual decadence and relaxation of discipline, any kind of a life will be tolerated if only the externals of religion are maintained.


Paul's one theme in this letter is an exhortation to be a faithful preacher. He is calling Timothy's attention to his necessity of being faithful in view of a class of men who would come to the front. He says, "turn away from these men," and gives a description of them and their propagandism. It must be evident to any one who has carefully studied the letters to the Colossians and Ephesians, that this gnosticism had a method of propagandism just the opposite of the gospel's. The gospel is open and above board. A man gets the biggest audience he can, proclaims from housetops to all classes of men without any distinction, the very quintessence of the gospel. Contrary to that, the prevalent Gnostics evaded public presentation to crowds. They always wanted to address privately single individuals or single households, and they are represented in this letter, and in all other letters on the subject, as people who crept privately into the church, crept privately into the home, under the disguise of a form of religion. Retaining their membership in the church, they would go around and talk about a select few, making a distinction in classes. Only the cultured few were to be initiated into the mysteries of this new philosophy.


Paul says, "For of these are they that creep into houses and take captive silly women." The word "silly" is not the best translation. It means little women. Not little in the sense of Miss Alcott, who wrote a most engaging series called Little Women; young people who can be trained to have the graces of older persons; not in that sense, but in the moral sense. They take captive women with little souls. There are great men and little men; great women and little women – some of them infinitesimally small. They seem to have no high nature; it is all low. They are on the plane of brute beasts. Their pleasures are sensual – pleasures that appeal to the animal nature. It may be the pleasure of eating like the lion or tiger, gorging himself on blood. So a glutton lives to eat. It may be in the direction of gossip, slander, or lasciviousness. That is what Paul calls "little"; little in the sense that it keeps down to the animal part of man.


When Henry Ward Beecher, rather upon his own solicitation than upon accusation, before an assembly of the Congregationalists was being catechised as to his departure from the faith, a question was put to him: "Do you believe in the necessity of regeneration by the Holy Spirit?" he said, "Unquestionably." The second question: "Do you believe that this necessity arises from the sins each man himself commits or from the depravity of his nature?" That was putting him in a close place. He evaded it most adroitlyω1 never knew any man to more adroitly evade a question: "I believe," said he, "a man needs regeneration because he is an animal." That is an exceedingly acute thought, and much can be said about it. For instance, when man was originally made part of him was made out of the dust of the earth, and God himself provided the tree of life that the mortality should be eliminated from that body, and it should become an immortal body. To evade the doctrine of depravity, Beecher took the position that regeneration should be predicated upon the fact that man is an animal – that is, has a lower nature.


In the passage before us Paul is bringing out a class of women – "little women."


Any woman is little who is satisfied with the mere round of social pleasures, loving pleasure more than God; who is satisfied to reign in merely fashionable circles, who never looks up, never thinks of what is due God.


In Paul's sense that is a little woman.


He is about to show how irreligious teachers retain the form. He says they are "ever learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth." They claim to have a gnosis, a knowledge that is a finality, and yet they never come to any definite result. What is gnosis to them one year may be exploded in the succeeding year. The revealed word of God is a fixed standard. It is not different in one country from what it is in another country; not different in one age from what it is in another age. The Ten Commandments are applicable to the world, the world over. But where people set up a subjective standard of knowledge, the standard changes with the individuals. Even one man may have a standard one week which he would not acknowledge the next week. All subjective knowledge is ever knowing and never knowing. This applies to all human philosophies whether by Kant, Aristotle, Epicurus, or Socrates. Unaided human wisdom cannot evolve a definite knowledge or determine a fixed standard. Says Paul, "They are ever knowing, and ever unable to come to the knowledge of the truth." The world by its science and wisdom could never find out God.


He cites a case: "Even as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also withstand the truth." Here is the only place in the Bible where we get the names of the magicians who simulated the first miracles wrought by Moses. The question arises: Where did Paul get the names? I answer: By inspiration.


There was a prevalent philosophy in Egypt in the days of Moses much like this Gnostic philosophy, a philosophy that attempted to account for the creation of things; a philosophy that attempted to account for sin and gave its remedy; a philosophy that divided the race into sharply distinguished classes, only a select few to be initiated into the mysteries, and yet a philosophy that had no moral influence over their lives. A man could be at the very head of the mysteries in Egypt, and at the same time be as corrupt morally as hell itself. Just as one could be an expert in wisdom at Corinth, and yet be utterly corrupt in the sight of God: "Men corrupt in mind and reprobate concerning the faith."


How squarely against that Paul puts himself, as we have seen before, and will see again before we are through with the letter. As an example, he denies having any such record as that; he appeals to Timothy's knowledge of him: "Thou didst follow my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, long-suffering, love, patience, persecution, sufferings, what things befell me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured, and out of them all the Lord delivered me." "There is my life as a teacher of the Christian religion. It has been a life of great suffering, persecution, patience, endurance. It has not been corrupt, beastly, animal, devilish." He puts that right over against the life of these other teachers.


It is the easiest thing in the world, as well as the most flattering to the human mind, to devise beautiful theories, and we are amazed to find that some theories as beautiful as the rainbow come from the lips of men and women who are as corrupt as the pit. They are meant just for theories, not to dominate life. I once saw a young lady crying over a most beautiful tribute to purity in a novel. She said the author must have been one of the best men in the world. She was surprised to learn that he was utterly corrupt in his own life. Anybody can fix up a thing like that on paper, but that does not argue internal purity.


Take this law in verse 13: "Evil men and imposters shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived." There is an awful trend from which no man can escape, any more than he can escape from the suction above the Niagara Falls. A man who lives an animal life, a life of evil desire, a life of slimy imagination, a life of unholy thoughts, is going down just as certain as a boat without oars or help will go down when it strikes the current of the Niagara, or as a boat when it strikes the circle of the maelstrom. It may seem that the man is holding his own, but every circle he makes, he goes deeper, deeper, deeper, and at last he goes under. That is the law inexorable. They wax worse and worse. It is another law that there is a tendency in habit to crystallize into character. In other words, to attain after a while the fixedness of type. When things get to that stage they are irreformable.


Paul now makes almost pathetic appeal: "Timothy, do you remember from whom you learned the standard that you are being guided by? Do you remember your old grandmother Lois, your mother Eunice; that you from a child were instructed in the Holy Scriptures which are able to make one wise unto salvation? Do you remember the time the apostle came to your home and held up Christ and him crucified as your Saviour from sin, and you accepted him?" Now, what was the standard held up? It is expressed in the Greek: hiera grammata – the "Holy Scriptures." That is not subjective knowledge; we do not evolve that out of our own consciousness.


The question arises: What Holy Scriptures? It means the sacred books put into the hands of the Jewish people, the Holy Scriptures which were in the hands of Christ. In other words, the books of the Old Testament, just as we have them, clearly defined. Now comes a declaration: Having referred to these scriptures collectively, hiera grammata, he declares concerning them distributively: pasa graphe; every one of these sacred scriptures is theopneustos, "God-inspired," and is profitable for teaching, conviction, correction, instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly equipped for every good work. This makes a fixed and perfect standard. From inspiration comes power. First, these scriptures are able to make one wise unto salvation. They are profitable for teaching what a man ought to believe and what a man ought to do.


The next point is, they are profitable for reproof, for convicting of error. Not only to teach what to believe and to do, but when one goes wrong in belief or in life, these scriptures will convict him of error. Next: "for correction." That means that having shown wherein one has believed wrong or done wrong, it will tell him how to correct that wrong.


"For instruction," or discipline, "in righteousness." There the word "instruction" has the idea of training, disciplining. We see a woman put out a bulb or plant a seed. Even before it comes up she has a purpose in her mind and fixes a frame over it. When the vine begins to grow she trains it to run on that frame, and when it wants to run off at a tangent, she gently attaches it to the frame and trains it, trains it, trains it, until it circles all around her window. That is the power of training. These God-inspired scriptures are profitable in training one in doing right. A raw recruit does not know whether to commence buttoning his coat at the top or bottom, does not know how to "present arms," "order arms," "right shoulder," "shift arms," "charge bayonets"; does not know how to keep step. He has to be trained. He is turned over to an experienced drill sergeant. After he is trained as a unit, he is then trained as a member of a squad, then of a company, then of a battalion, then of a brigade, then of a division, so that he not only knows what to do from a military point of view, but he knows exactly where his place is when the trumpet calls to arms.


"In order that the man of God may be complete, furnished completely unto every good work." The sum and substance of the teaching of the word of God is that doctrine must be transmuted into life. We must not only bloom, but bring forth fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit shall be hewn down and thrown into the fire. Herein is the supreme difference, broad as the ocean and deep as eternity, between the Christian system of religion and other systems of religion. It is the effect on life, bringing men nearer to God.

 

QUESTIONS

 

1. What the meaning of "last days" in 3:1?

 

2. What the present indications as to the fulfilment?

 

3. Cite a passage similar to this third chapter of 2 Timothy?

 

4. Why is Paul's description of 'men here more terrible than his description of the heathen in the first chapter of Romans?

 

5. What the relation of "form" to "godliness"? Illustrate. Which the more important? Illustrate.

 

6. What elements of Gnosticism are here condemned?

 

7. What the meaning of "silly women"?

 

8. What was Henry Ward Beecher's position on the necessity of regeneration?

 

9. Contrast the gnosis of the teachers here referred to with revelation as a standard.

 

10. What is characteristic of all subjective knowledge?

 

11. What flashlight here on Old Testament history?

 

12. What the Egyptian mysteries?

 

13. What moral influence on its subjects?

 

14. Does it require purity of character to devise beautiful theories? Illustrate.

 

15. What law stated in verse 13?

 

16. What pathetic appeal in verses 14-15?

 

17. Why is it better to be trained in right ways from childhood than to sow wild oats?

 

18. What the "sacred writings" in verse 15?

 

19. What the meaning of "every scripture" in verse 16?

 

20. What the value of verses 16-17?

 

 

XV

 

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PAUL'S FINAL WORD

2 Timothy 4:l-22

 


This chapter concludes the second letter to Timothy. We commence with chapter 4. This chapter is one of unexampled solemnity. All the circumstances make it so, as well as the character of the man who wrote it and the character of the man to whom it was written. It is Paul's final word in the form of a charge.


Nearly everybody who delivers the charge when a preacher is ordained uses some of this chapter 4, and very appropriately. I call attention to the significance of the word "charge." Sometimes it is used in the sense of "adjure." The high priest said to Jesus, "I adjure thee before God." To adjure means to put on oath. "I put thee on oath before God, are you the Messiah?" "I am." That is the same as if he had sworn it with uplifted hand. A charge has that signification. "Oh, Timothy, I put thee on thine oath before God." It also has the meaning of enjoining very solemnly.


Now we will see how he charges: "I charge thee in the sight of God and of Jesus Christ, Who shall judge the living and the dead and by his appearing and his kingdom." God, Christ, Christ's appearing, Christ's judgment of the living and the dead, Christ's kingdom! What an assemblage of solemnities!


Now do what? Preach the word. The emphasis there is on "the word." Preach the word. Over and over again we have noticed that Paul had a system of truth which he received from Christ and which he delivered to Timothy, and that this system of truth is the most precious deposit in the world. That is what he must preach. That is the supreme limitation of the theme of the preacher. I have felt shame, sorrow, and contempt, all blended, at some things I have heard from the pulpit. They were nice enough little things, but nothing from the word of God, nothing to convict a sinner, nothing to lead a sinner to Christ, nothing to lead a babe in Christ to maturity in Christian knowledge, nothing to develop high, holy, and enduring Christian character. Preaching is a solemn work.


Just here I commend to the reader what Cowper says about the preacher who gets up in the pulpit to be a mountebank instead of a herald of the cross. "Imagine Spurgeon before a mirror practicing the attitudes and postures he will assume when he goes to preach!"


"I charge thee in the sight of God, and of Jesus Christ, Who shall judge the living and the dead, by his appearing and his kingdom, preach the word." Some call me cranky on the subject of what I preach. One man, in criticizing my first book of sermons, said, "There is too much scripture in it." I thanked him for his criticism. I try to preach sermons that are literally saturated with scripture.


"Be urgent in season and out of season." Perhaps a little better rendering would be: "Be alert," that is, "keep your eyes open, do not go through the world sleeping." To be alert is to be ready. I traveled once with an old Indian scout, and the most notable feature about him was his alertness I could see his eye play over every bush or tree, over the mountains or plains. Not a thing in the range of his vision escaped his notice. He was alert. Everything around him was searched for a token of the presence of an enemy. He slept that way. I noticed that when he went to bed everything was put right where he could get it. He could in one minute after sudden waking be ready for a fight. That is alertness, and that is the thought here rather than urgency. The thought is: "Be alert in season and out of season." Any man can be alert under some circumstances. They are pregnant with warnings. But other circumstances lull into a sense of security. Paul urges alertness at all times, so as not to be taken by surprise.


Now come a number of words which have a special signification: "Reprove [or rather, convict], rebuke, exhort." "If your brother sin, convict him," that is, first make him see his sin. Then, having shown him his sin, rebuke, or admonish him; then having admonished him, exhort him, and let all of it be done with all possible forbearance and long-suffering, line upon line. A pastor should keep in mind John's vision of the alert Son of God, moving among the churches, noticing everything, taking cognizance of all conditions.


He assigned the reason for this solemn charge: "For the time will come when they will not endure the sound doctrine." We are to preach the sound doctrine – the word – for a time will come when our congregations will not endure the sound teaching; when they will not want it. They will want something else. What will they do? "Having itching ears," that is, ears eager to hear pleasant things, "they will heap to themselves teachers after their own desire." The times do come when people won't hear sound doctrines. One of the saddest instances I know was the case of Jonathan Edwards, who is regarded, and particularly after his great revival, as one of the theologians since Paul. He insisted that in order to save that place the old-time word of God must be preached; that there is a devil and he must say so; that there is a hell and he must say so; there is imminent danger of falling under the wrath of God, into the hands of Satan, into the depths of hell. He preached that, and a most marvelous revival followed. Before the close of the series of meetings, which this sermon originated, 250,000 people were converted. Jonathan Edwards was the oracle of God. But there came a time in that very community when they would not hear Jonathan Edwards. They wanted a different sort of teaching, and just about the unsoundest piece of Christendom today is the section where Jonathan Edwards was repudiated. If one wants to get a set of preachers that know just the least part of the gospel, that is the place to find them. They have heaped up to themselves teachers that are according to their own desires. I have been in places, strategical places, mighty places, and have groaned in my soul because some mighty man of God was not in charge of that place. Maybe some preacher is in charge, and the people want him in charge, who does not care a snap of his finger for the mission work, for the cause of Christ, for anything except a good, comfortable, easy pastorate. I never wanted to be a bishop in the Methodist sense, but if I were a bishop I would make some quick removals.


I have seen churches turn away from preachers of real ability and unquestionable piety, preachers whose history demonstrated that they were alive with life, glory, and power. They were shelved, or turned out to make way for some popinjay, whose ministrations never instruct, never develop, but who holds the young people together. The trouble about ministrations of that kind is that when the older people of the congregation die off, the younger people do not know anything at all about doctrine and would just as soon drift into one denomination as another, or away from them all.


Old Dr. Lyman Beecher, the greatest of all the Beechers, saw that illustrated in his own children, and yet he is the man who stood up and said, "The time will come when the imposture of Mohammed will be exposed, when the principles of Mormonism will receive no favor in an intelligent community. But I fear the time is also coming when the preachers will preach a gospel that has no power to awaken a sinner, nor to save him after awakened, nor to console a broken heart, but of simply enough power to lull him to sleep until the day passes and the night of eternal death has come."


"They will turn away their ears from the truth, and turn aside unto fables." What did the apostasy which he predicted do when it came? It turned aside from the truth to accept the infallible declaration of the Pope. It condemned the giving of the word of God to the people. It reared up monasteries and nunneries where marriage was adjured and where a string of fables concerning the saints were doled out instead of the word of God. That time did come when people left the Bible, the impregnable rock of the Holy Scriptures, to take up something else.


He exhorts Timothy as to his own conduct. "Be sober in all things. Suffer hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfil thy ministry." Can we ever get that thought sufficiently in the minds of our preachers – that the ministerial service is a hard service and that the preacher has a course to fulfil, so that whether he lives long or dies soon he ought to be able to say: "I have finished my course, I have fulfilled what I had to do"?


This deep concern of Paul arose from his knowledge that his own day of departure was at hand. The gospel must be transmitted. It must not die with him. He had fought his fight and finished his course, but who would be the standard bearer when the flag fell from his nerveless hand? "The time of my exodus has come." This is the same word in the Greek that we have in Moses' time. It means the unmooring of a ship. The time had come for that ship to go out on an unknown sea. In view of that fact he takes a backward look at his life, and this is what he says: "I have fought a good fight; I have finished the course. I have kept the faith." There is not one iota of the revelation made to me that I have swerved from. I have preserved it inviolate, and I desire to transmit it intact.


Now we come to a new thought: "Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give to me at that day." This is a reward. There are several kinds of crowns mentioned in the Bible – a crown of victory, a crown of rejoicing, and there is a crown which Jesus will bestow upon faithful laborers. The question is, When will he do it? In other words, as soon as Paul died did he get his reward? He did not; that is not the doctrine at all. He got his salvation, which was not a reward, but grace. He went straight to God, for to be absent from the body is to be present with God. His reward is laid up and will be bestowed when Jesus comes again. At the second advent of our Lord is the time for the bestowing of rewards. Then, according to our fidelity as Christians, will we be rewarded. As it is said by Paul in 1 Corinthians 3, where he compares a preacher to a builder whose foundation is Christ, and if any man build on this foundation of bad material like wood, hay, and stubble, he shall suffer loss that day – the day that tries by fire. But if he has built with enduring material, gold, silver, precious stones (not jewels, but good building rock), he will get his reward.


Now I will tell a dream which I had. I am sure that my study of the subject had something to do with my dreaming it. It seemed that I was just gliding around. I could lift myself up without making a step, without wings, and move with great rapidity by volition. Moving that way I came to a glorious habitation. I don't know how I got in, but when I got inside I saw a vast hall with the most glorious objects that my eyes had ever beheld or my heart had conceived of, hanging on the walls: jewels, medals, badges of honor, and everything on earth I could conceive of. Finally, I came and stood right under one, by far the most glorious of all, and read this inscription: "This crown is reserved for Paul."


When that day comes and every Christian stands before God, according to his fidelity as a Christian, he will be rewarded or suffer loss. That does not touch the question of salvation. He says here that Christ will not only reward him, but all that have loved his appearing, all who have believed in his advent. I am sure that when the time for this distribution comes, it will be an eye-opening time. Many people will be startled. People who expect their crown to be a brilliant diadem will get but small reward. Instead of their ship coming in with every flag flying and mast standing, it will have to be towed in by the tug, Grace. It barely gets in, and is "saved as by fire."


I give one more scripture before closing this chapter. The last book of the Old Testament states that one cannot right now altogether discern between righteousness and wickedness. Some sins go before man and some follow after. There are a great many things that keep us from discerning the righteous and the wicked now, but when we appear before God on that day, we shall discern between the righteous and the wicked.


In Malachi 3 he says that in a time of great spiritual dearth, when it looked like everybody was going astray, there were some who feared God, and who spake often one with another. God-fearing men who thought much about heaven, and about prayer, held their communions with each other. The record says that God listened, that he heard what was said, and' commanded the angel to write it down. "That is worth keeping. Put that in a book. That which men count great you may pass over; it does not amount to anything, but here is something worthy of record, these God-fearing men and women, in this awful spiritual dearth, speaking of heaven one to another, put down what they say."

 

QUESTIONS

 

1. Of what does this last chapter of 2 Timothy consist, and what use has been made of it?

 

2. What is the meaning of the word "charge"? Give example.

 

3. Name the five Solemnities with which he gave this charge.

 

4. What the charge?

 

5. What the meaning of "be urgent in season and out of season"? Illustrate.

 

6. What the reason he assigns for this charge? Give an instance.

 

7. What danger to the rising generation here pointed out? Give an instance.

 

8. What did the apostasy which he predicted do when it came?

 

9. How does Paul exhort Timothy as to his own conduct?

 

10. Why this deep concern of Paul?

 

11. What his famous parting words?

 

12. What Paul's reward, and when bestowed?

 

13. What the basis of our rewards? Cite other scripture.

 

14. Give .the author's dream relative to this point.

 

15. What startling facts mentioned here will be brought out at the Judgment?

 

 

THE LIFE OF PETER

 

XVI

 

(Return to Contents)

 


This chapter, and the next, will be confined to a glance at the life of Peter, as set forth in the New Testament. The material is as follows: The Four Gospels, as arranged in the Broadus Harmony, the Acts of the Apostles, several chapters of Paul's first letter to the Corinthians, two chapters of Galatians, and the letters of Peter himself.


We have in this account the history of one of the most remarkable men that ever lived. He was a poor man, though his partners, James and John, were well-to-do. He was an uneducated man, and later was reproached with the fact that he had never had any learning. He was a married man and had a family to take care of when he was converted, and his only educational training was under the Lord Jesus Christ for three years, and under the Holy Spirit later. This case of Peter illustrates what I have often said: that it is not essential to the ministerial office, or to ministerial success, that a man should be a graduate of a college. I must not, however, be misunderstood. Far be it from me to speak against a college education on the part of those whose circumstances, age, environment, and means enable them to get a college education, and who have the capacity to take it. But I do mean to affirm that Christ and the original twelve apostles were not school men, and yet they have impressed the world.


It oftentimes happens that God calls a man to preach in middle life, after he has a wife and children. It is the folly of some good people that the ministry should be cut down to men who have first obtained a college degree and then a seminary degree. The thought is unscriptural, unbaptistic, unhistorical, and it is incalculably mischievous.


Now we take up Peter's name. His given name was Symeon in Aramaic (see Acts 15:14; 2 Peter 1:1) or Simon in Greek.


We get his surname from Matthew 16:17, i.e., "Bar-Jonah." "Bar" means son; "Simon, son of Jonah" – or the son of John, as some represent it. His cognomen given by Christ was Cephas in Aramaic; or in Greek, Petros; in English, Peter, meaning a stone (John 1:42; Matthew 16:18).


His home was on the border of the Sea of Galilee, Bethsaida first, then Capernaum. He was living at Capernaum in his own house when Christ went there. He not only had a wife, but later on in life when he went out on his apostolic tours, he took his wife along. There are some preachers who, apart from the question of cost, don't particularly care to have their wives go with them. Sometimes it is much better that the wife be along. She will at least see that his clothes are properly brushed, and his neck cloth tied, and she will be sure to point out any wrong mannerism in the pulpit or in mixing with the people. He is apt to fret a little at that. Many preachers are thin-skinned when it comes to criticism, but it is much better for the preacher to remember that his wife does not do that for the pleasure of nagging, but it is because she loves him, and does not like to see him make wrong impressions. Now all of this grows out of the starting point, that Peter took his wife along with him.


In the next place, Peter took care of his mother-in-law, however strange that may seem. Notwithstanding all of the jokes on the subject of mother-in-law, some people have dearly loved their wife's mother, the author for one.


We notice his business. He was a fisherman. The Sea of Galilee has always been famous for its multitude of fishes.


In getting at the character of Peter from his own viewpoint, we must study Mark's Gospel, commonly and rightly called Peter's Gospel, and Peter's letters. We should read Mark through at one sitting, keeping in our mind that this is virtually Peter speaking, and watch for the outcropping of the author's view of himself. In the same way read his letters. In such light Peter shows to much advantage. Then study the other authorities for the view of him from their standpoint. Here again, on the whole, Peter shows to advantage, particularly when we consider our Lord's estimate of him. Jesus knew what was in the man. While rebuking Peter often, he ranked him very high.


It is evident from all these sources of information that he was a plain, straightforward, sincere, impulsive, and withal a very curious man. He was a regular interrogation point. In going over the places in chronological order where Peter's name comes into history, we cannot help noticing that Peter asks more questions than all the rest of the apostles put together. Generally, he asks his question straight out: "Lord, what do you mean by that parable of the blind guides?" "Lord, where are you going?" "Lord) why can't I follow you now?" "Lord, look at the temple and these stones" – and where he cannot ask a question himself, he nudges John to ask it, as in the case of the Lord's Supper when he prompted John to ask Jesus who it was that was going to betray him. David Crocket once said that he had a hound puppy that he set great store by on account of his inquisitive disposition; that he could nose around into more things than any other dog he ever saw; sometimes he got himself into trouble, but if a dog did not have an inquisitive disposition he would never jump a rabbit. A great many people lack knowledge for not asking questions. A wise man never needs to ask the same question twice.


Peter had a streak of weakness in him arising largely from his impulsiveness and overconfidence in himself. We might call it a presumptuous streak; a conceited streak. He had no idea that anybody in the world could hold onto Christ like himself. Everybody else might turn loose, but he would not. He frequently overestimated himself, and underestimated the power of the devil. The element of presumption in him is intimated by his rebukes of the Saviour. Jesus, in a great press of people, says, "Who touched me?" and Peter spoke up at once – he always says something – "Lord, you see this crowd all around here pressing us, and say 'Who touched me?' Who could tell? Why should you say that?" Jesus replied to him: "I know some particular person touched me for a particular object, for virtue went out from me." Now, Peter had not thought of the power of Christ's consciousness to determine outgoing virtue in response to silent appeals. We see that presumption manifested again when he said, "Far be it from thee, Lord, to suffer and die." And again when he said, "Lord> do you wash my feet?" "Lord, you shall never wash my feet." And again, "Wash me all over, head, and hands, and feet." We see him again in the great vision he had at Joppa correcting the Almighty himself: "Not so, Lord."


An element of weakness shows itself in Antioch. He is influenced by certain men who come up from James. Peter had been eating and drinking with the Gentiles, until through fear of their censure he is involved in dissimulation, but like all other impulsive men he is quick to get right and frank to make full confession of his wrong. His weakness appears particularly in his denial of the Lord, and that too after being warned' beforehand and cautioned the second time, and yet it came on him so suddenly that he turned loose all hold of Christ and denied that he ever knew him, and swore like a trooper. Notwithstanding all this, Peter is one of the most lovable characters in history.


A distinguished lady once said to me, "I cannot stand Paul; he never makes any mistakes. But Peter is a great comfort to me; he is so human in his errors." He had faults with his greatness, and it rather comforted her to think that a great man like Peter would shoot off his mouth so fast sometimes. That is why she said Peter was a comfort to her. Now, there is a distinct development in Peter. We can trace the training; as he gets older he becomes stronger in character and more mellow in spirit. In all literature we do not find a document more humble in spirit, more loyal, and more royal than Peter's first letter. It is a great document – the letter we are now going to study.


Now, while I have before me every New Testament passage which names Peter, and arranged in chronological order, giving the page in the harmony, and the citation from the New Testament books, I will cite only a few incidents which made the greatest impressions on his life. From them we find what things done and said by our Lord, or what impressions from the Holy Spirit, most touched Peter's heart. Just as in the case of David, we might ask, "What things in David's life most impressed him, allowing the Psalms to interpret the impression?" and taking the book of Psalms find out from them what great impressions had been made upon the mind of David by the incidents of his life. Now, by taking Peter's two letters, and adding to them Peter's speeches as reported in Acts, it is an easy thing to determine what experiences impressed Peter more than the others, and in the same way we find from John's Gospel what things particularly fastened themselves upon his mind. But we are dealing with Peter now, and the first instance is his conversion, when he was brought to Christ by his brother Andrew, an account of which is found on page 19 of the Harmony, and recorded in John 1:40-42. Our Lord recognized the power of the man as soon as he saw him, and before Peter could say a word he uses the language that I make a text of in my sermon, found in my first volume of sermon.8: "Thou art Simon; thou shalt be called Cephas, or Peter." That sermon is called "From Simon to Cephas," and its object was to trace the development in the character of Peter. Simon means a hearer or learner, and Peter means a rock – stability.


It is probable that Peter went with Jesus to the marriage of Cana in Galilee, and went with him to Capernaum, and was also with him on his preaching tour in northern Judea near where John was baptizing in Enon, and was also with him in passing through Samaria to go to Galilee, but not with him when Jesus went to Cana a second time and to Nazareth the first time.


The next great impression on his mind comes from his call to the ministry. That is on pages 27-28 of the Harmony (Mark 1:16-17). Jesus called to the ministry two pairs of brothers: James and John, and Peter and Andrew, at the Sea of Galilee. In close connection with this call comes an incident profoundly impressing Peter's mind, found on the same page of the Harmony, but told in Luke 5. It was the miraculous draught of fishes resulting from casting the net according to Christ's direction. When they went to draw up the net it was filled with such a multitude of fishes that the net broke, and the boat was filled, ready to sink, with the fishes put in it. The miracle profoundly impressed Peter. Here was either a power that could bring the fish to a certain point, or the omniscience that could know where they were in a school and could so give the direction that just letting down the net would take a great multitude, and as the miracle worked in on his mind he became conscious that he was in the presence of one holier than himself. Sin rose up in him, the conviction of sin, and he knelt down before Jesus and said, "Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man." I often use that to illustrate the strangeness of conviction of sin.


Most people whose words and actions convict other people of sin are not conscious at the time that they are convicting of sin, and many a preacher studies a sermon and preaches it with a view of conviction of sin, and never convicts a man in the congregation. But there was that conviction of sin forced upon Peter's heart by the consciousness that he was in touch with divinity. In any kind of meeting as soon as God's presence is felt people will be convicted right and left; convicted quickly in the strangest kind of ways.


The next thing that impressed Peter was to have the Lord in his own house. Now, hospitable people might rejoice in having pleasant company or great company, but here was one of the few humble houses of Galilee that sheltered the Lord, and as the Lord came in the fever left the mother-in-law. His power came with him, and Peter's house became a focus of power, and his front yard full of supplicants crying for mercy and healing, and salvation blazed all around Peter's house because the Lord was there.


The next look we have at Peter is the impression made upon his mind by these tremendous miracles of our Lord. His presumption is excited, and so we find on page 30 of the Harmony, as recorded in Mark 1:35 and Luke 4:42, that Peter tries to work a corner on salvation. Christ had gone off to spend the night in prayer. Peter obtruded upon him in his private devotion, with a view to keeping him there at Capernaum, as if he could dam up salvation in a little town and not let it outflow to other places. Our Lord rebuked him and said, "I must go to other towns also; you cannot hold me here; you cannot dam up this stream of life and limit it to one locality.'


Without comment I note the fact that he was one of the three at the raising of the daughter of Jairus, and that he was one of the disciples that plucked grain on the sabbath day and caused a controversy. He was also one of the disciples in the little boat which Jesus had pushed out into the sea away from the multitude in order to teach the people.


On page 49 of the Harmony (Mark 3:14-17) is the ordination of Peter and the other eleven disciples. The call had preceded and they had learned a good many things in being with Jesus. But Jesus, after spending the night in prayer, ordained these men and set them apart to the full work of the ministry, and designated them as apostles to be witnesses for him. That ordination was followed by the great Sermon on the Mount, expanding and expounding the law.


The next impressive thing in his history is on pages 71-76 of the Harmony, as set forth in Matthew 10. The twelve have been ordained and have heard his preaching, and now he is going to send them out, and Mark says, "two by two." Peter knows that he went with one of them wherever he went. I suppose John was with him; more than apt to be with John than with his own brother Andrew. Now, in chapter 10 of Matthew we have the elaborate instructions given to these men before they were sent out. This was the first time Peter ever went off from his Lord to do any work, and they went in every direction, two together, with instructions as to what to do and how to do it, and they came back and made a report. There Mark brings in a new fact again, which he gets from Peter, and it was just like Peter to make that kind of a report. When he came back he reported not only what he had done, but what he had taught. There is the defect in our missionary reports today; we report the miles traveled, sermons preached, houses visited, the Sunday schools, prayer meetings, and churches organized, but we do not say what we have taught. Now Peter came back and reported what he had taught.


We now come to the next important incident in his life, the appearance of Christ walking on the water, which shocked all of them. They thought it was a ghost – an apparition. When they learned that it was the Lord, that impulsive Peter said, "Lord, tell me to come to you; I will come if you say, 'Come.' I don't mind the water. If you tell me to walk on the water, I will do it." The Lord says, "Come," and Peter steps out and walks on the water, and if he had kept his eye on Christ he would have walked all the way, but he got to looking at the waves tumbling around him, and at the wind, and began to sink. But whenever Peter got into trouble he cried out for help, so now he prays: "Lord help me, or I perish." Now, that incident illustrates Peter and his character. The original character of the man, the impulsiveness of the man, the audacity of the man, and then the shrinking of the man from the responsibility which he had brought upon himself.


We next come to a more important event. We find it on page 83 of the Harmony. It is his first confession. Jesus had preached a sermon on hard doctrine, "the Bread of Life," and his main object was to slough off transitory people. He wanted the right kind to stick to him, but he did not want his body of disciples to be filled up with unprepared material, and he preached that sermon with a view to sloughing off and the crowd sloughed off, and it looked like everybody was going to leave him. Upon this many of his disciples went back and walked no more with him. Jesus said therefore unto the twelve, "Will you also go away?" Simon Peter answered: "Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life, and we have believed and know that thou art the Holy One of God." Peter is great there. Nobody else spoke, and as usual Peter was all-inclusive, he was ready to speak for others as well as for himself, and he included too many when he spoke for the whole twelve. Jesus corrected it and said, "One of you is a devil. You can speak for yourself, but not for all." That is the first confession of Peter. "Thou hast the words of eternal life. There is no one else to go to. We have believed and know that thou art the Holy One of God."

 

QUESTIONS

 

1. Where do we find scripture material for the life of Peter?

 

2. Give an account of Peter: (1) His circumstances. (2) His education and the bearing on an educated ministry. (3) His family relations.

 

3. What his Aramaic name, his Greek name, his surname, his cognomen in Aramaic, Greek, and English?

 

4. Where was his home, and what lesson from his taking his wife along with him?

 

5. What his business?

 

6. What books may one study in order to get at Peter from his own viewpoint; how does he show up from the viewpoint of other New Testament writers and what was Jesus' estimate of him?

 

7. What noted characteristic of Peter gave him prominence?

 

8. What his chief weakness and its cause?

 

9. Give illustrations of his presumption.

 

10. What ground for comfort in the life of Peter?

 

11. What the first event of his life that made a great impression on him?

 

12. What the second thing that impressed him, the incident that led up to it, and the impression on his mind?

 

13. What the next event that impressed him?

 

14. How did Peter try to "corner" salvation?

 

15. What was Peter's first missionary work and what in his report unlike our missionary reports?

 

16. What was Peter's first great confession, and what the occasion for it?

 

 

XVII

 

(Return to Contents)

 

THE LIFE OF PETER – (CONTINUED)

 


In the preceding chapter the question was asked: "What incidents in Peter's life most impressed themselves upon his own -life, judging mainly from his literary remains, to wit: His gospel through Mark, his speeches in the Acts, and his letters?" In answering that question, the following, out of many incidents, were cited, in the chronological order in the Broadus Harmony:


1. His first interview with our Lord, and probable conversion (John 1:40-42; Harmony, p. 19).


2. His call to the ministry (Mark 1:16-17; Harmony, p. 28).


3. The revelation of his sinfulness through a realization of Christ's presence and divine power (Luke 5:1-11; Harmony, p. 29).


4. Christ in his home (Mark 1:29-34; Harmony, p. 29).


5. His ordination as an apostle (Mark 3:14-17; Harmony, p. 45).


6. His being sent out to preach away from Christ, the accompanying instructions, the work, and the report of it (Mark 10:1-42; Mark 6:7-30; Harmony, pp. 71-76).


7. His walking on the water (Matt. 14:22-36; Harmony, p. 80).


8. His first great confession (John 6:61-71; Harmony, pp. 82-83).


Out of the many references to Peter in the Gospels, those eight were particularly discussed as bearing upon his character and growth, his own impressions, and the audacity and weakness of his faith.


Now, this chapter resumes the discussion:


9. His greater confession at Caesarea Philippi (Matt. 16:13-20, Harmony, pp. 89-90). The reader will note that on the first interview with Peter our Lord said, "Thou shalt be called Cephas." Now, at the conclusion of Peter's great confession here, that promise was fulfilled. He became Cephas, a stone: "Thou art Peter," and from Peter's own words as to the real foundation of the church and of his relation to that foundation as a living stone, we get a comment in 1 Peter 2:4-8, where he makes it very clear that the foundation of the church is Christ, the rock; he does not understand that the church is built upon him. He was not bothered as a great many modern theologians in interpreting that passage in Matthew 16, and they would have saved themselves a great deal of trouble if they had allowed Peter, to whom the words were addressed, to give his own inspired understanding of what Christ meant. And it seems always to me that there must be disrespect for the inspiration of Peter when any man says that in Matthew 16:18 the rock upon which the church was built was Peter, and it is disrespect also for Paul, because he is just as clear as Peter: "Other foundation can no man lay than that which is laid, Christ Jesus." Peter says that he is a living stone in the Temple, but that Christ is the elect precious stone which constitutes the foundation, and that is the true conception of it. Peter does not understand from this passage by the promise of the keys, that he was to open the door of the church (that is, to declare its entrance terms) to both Jews and Gentiles.


This appears in the subsequent history; in Acts 2, Peter, standing up in Christ's completed church and his Spirit-filled church (for the Spirit that day filled it), and under inspiration opened the door, and from the inside, mark you, to the Jews – representative Jews from all over the world, and told them how they could get in. This is evident from Acts 10. There Peter opened the door to the Gentile world, using these words: "To Christ all the prophets bear witness that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive forgiveness of sins." And in Acts 15 he avows that that privilege was conferred on him. In the discussion that took place in Acts 15 he commences by saying, "Brethren, you remember that how through me, or in me, the Lord made selection from among you about opening the door to the Gentiles." It is also evident from this passage that Peter held the first place among the twelve apostles to the circumcision. As a distinguished Roman Catholic historian puts it, primus inter pares. That means first among equals, and this appears further from the fact that in the four lists of the twelve apostles his name is always first, and from the further fact that in the subsequent history he invariably took the lead. But Peter did not understand that this priority conferred upon him the papal autocratic jurisdiction claimed by the Roman Catholics, and this appears from his subsequent conduct in the following instances: In Acts 2 the church at Jerusalem holds him to account for going in and eating with the Gentiles, and instead of answering them by authority, he answered them by an explanation, which was accepted. Then, in Galatians 2 when the question came up of Paul's entirely independent gospel and jurisdiction that occurred at Jerusalem, on that occasion Peter conceded Paul's entire independence and hi