Monday, October 03, 2016

Pentecost 20C

2 Timothy 1:1-14

1Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, for the sake of the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus, 2To Timothy, my beloved child: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. 3I am grateful to God—whom I worship with a clear conscience, as my ancestors did—when I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. 4Recalling your tears, I long to see you so that I may be filled with joy. 5I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that lived first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, lives in you. 6For this reason I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands; 7for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline. 8Do not be ashamed, then, of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel, relying on the power of God, 9who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works but according to his own purpose and grace. This grace was given to us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, 10but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality [incorruption] to light through the gospel. 11For this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher, 12and for this reason I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know the one in whom I have put my trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard until that day what I have entrusted to him. 13Hold to the standard of sound teaching that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 14Guard the good treasure entrusted to you, with the help of the Holy Spirit living in us.

1 Timothy, 2 Timothy Background

The two Timothy letters and the epistle to Titus sometimes are called the Pastoral Epistles. [side note: "pastoral" means rural.] The apostle Paul definitely did not write them. We need to remember authorship and literary conventions were very different in the first and second centuries, without our well-developed and very legally-tinged concepts of copyright, intellectual property, and reuse rights. The person who pulled together these letters – probably around the start of the second century – wrote them as Paul's final summary discourse with reflections, advice, and ideas. "Concluding Unscientific Postscript."

1 and 2 Timothy contain vocabulary and syntax Paul never used; some of the words are in no other NT document. Many of the words are in other second century Christian writings. The Timothy letters bring us ideas of ecclesiology or church structure—as soon as you have many people with similar goals and purposes gathered together, you need organization. We find requirements for bishops/overseers, deacons, widows—"Church Ladies". These letters famously bring instruction for women to dress modestly, to submit to their husbands, not to teach or preach or have any authority over men. To shut up! Keep quiet! Women "saved by childbearing!" Slaves are supposed to obey their masters. We also read about laying on of hands, which would be ordination, commissioning, consecration of people called to public, vocational ministry. The Timothy letters refer to immortality, a Greek or Hellenistic concept that implies lack of death. Resurrection from the dead is the Christian reality; you need to die in order to be resurrected!

He later on became Bishop of Ephesus, but before that Timothy became well-known as Paul's younger sidekick. From Acts of the Apostles 17-20, we find the Paul, Silas, and Timothy trio chilling and proselytizing in Thessalonica, Berea... everyone, everywhere, all over the place.

Where We Live

Timothy's grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice hugely influence Timothy's faith journey; they clearly had been active, committed Christians. These letters talk about the power of scripture. They help us ask about the place of biological family in our own Christian beginnings, role of the faith community or communities that surround us, the purpose and place of each of us in welcoming and nurturing newcomers to Christianity, in supporting and helping those of use who are more mature and have more experience in following Jesus.

At LCM we especially live those questions as each of us walks, prays, and talks through responses to them in this very ethnically and culturally diverse neighborhood. People from all types of backgrounds come to church, join us, often choose to be baptized.

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