Offering timely instruction to the local church, Hughes and Chapell teach through three of Paul’s pastoral letters.
About the Author
R. Kent Hughes (DMin, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) is senior pastor emeritus of College Church in Wheaton, Illinois, and professor of practical theology at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Hughes is also a founder of the Charles Simeon Trust, which conducts expository preaching conferences throughout North America and worldwide. He serves as the series editor for the Preaching the Word commentary series and is the author or coauthor of many books. He and his wife, Barbara, live in Wyncote, Pennsylvania, and have four children and an ever-increasing number of grandchildren.
Bryan Chapellis the senior pastor of Grace Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Peoria, Illinois. Heis also the host of a daily half-hour radio Bible teaching program,Unlimited Grace, and the founder and chairman of Unlimited Grace Media (unlimitedgrace.com). Bryanpreviously served as the president of Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri, and is the author of a number of books, includingHoliness by Grace.
Read an Excerpt
Greetings to All
THERE ARE SUBSTANTIAL reasons to be energized by the prospect of studying the Pastoral Letters of St. Paul.
I am filled with pleasant anticipation by the purpose of 1 Timothy as it is variously stated by the apostle. The overarching purpose of the book is to teach the proper ordering and conduct of the church, as Paul so clearly states it to Timothy: "I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that, if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth" (3:14, 15).
Paul had communicated the essentials of church conduct during his earlier long ministry in Ephesus, but recent events had apparently necessitated his spelling it out again in a letter to Timothy, to whom Paul had charged the care of the churches there. And in respect to Timothy, Paul's instructions about church operations were meant to help him to "hang in there" — "This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience" (1:18, 19). So the letter of 1 Timothy provides the exhilarating essentials to both leader and congregation as to how they must conduct themselves to the glory of God. This is cause for marked enthusiasm in our day, when there is so much confusion about what the church ought to be like.
I am also enthusiastic because the teaching of 1 Timothy (and all the Pastorals) about church order and conduct came through special revelation from Christ to St. Paul, as is implicit in the stated purpose of this letter, as we will see.
To begin with, when Paul earlier wrote to the Galatians he made it very clear that the gospel had come to him by special personal revelation from Christ himself — "For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man's gospel. For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ" (1:11, 12). Thus we understand that the knowledge of the gospel was not mediated to Paul through any other human being. It came straight from the lips of Christ. The gospel theology that he inscripturated in his writings first came from Christ. Most believe this happened during Paul's three-year sojourn in Arabia (cf. Galatians 1:13–18).
Along with "the gospel," Paul received knowledge of what he called "the mystery," which he referred to as "the mystery ... made known to me by revelation" (Ephesians 3:3). Evidently Paul was given knowledge of "the mystery" in the same direct manner that "the gospel" had been given to him — straight from Christ.
In the book of Ephesians, which deals so much with "the mystery," Paul indicates that it is revealed in the coming together and ordering of three pairs of relationships: 1) heaven and earth, 1:9, 10; 2) Jew and Gentile, 2:11 — 3:6; and 3) husband and wife, 5:31, 32. All three relationships are joined and ordered under the headship of Christ. And all three (heaven/earth, Jew/Gentile, husband/wife) are joined into one by and through Christ. Each pair reveals a different aspect of the wondrous mystery of Christ's work.
Understanding from Ephesians something of the dynamic union and ordering that comes from the mystery of Christ, the purpose of 1 Timothy (which has to do with church order and conduct) takes on additional importance — because the practical ordering of the church has everything to do with the revelation of the mystery of Christ to the world. We know this because the word mystery was in Paul's thinking when he declared the purpose of 1 Timothy. Listen closely to the purpose of 1 Timothy again: "I am writing these things to you so that, if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth. Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness" (3:14–16a).
Paul then quotes an excerpt from a creedal hymn about Christ's incarnation. Because the mystery of Christ's incarnation made possible the gospel and the mystery of Christ and the church, the hymn sings of the wondrous reality of the incarnation: "Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory" (v. 16). And now, with Christ ascended, the church (his Body) proclaims the mystery by the way it lives on earth.
The details of proper church life are therefore part of "the plan of the mystery" revealed to Paul directly from Christ, as that apostle explained in Ephesians where he talks about the union of Jew and Gentile:
To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord. (3:8–11)
First Timothy is a letter on order in the church and how it ought to live so as to reveal that "mystery." God tells us in 1 Timothy how the church must look and act if it is to glorify him. It has everything to do with the gospel and the declaration of the revealed mystery. Thus we have in 1 Timothy one of the grand treasures of the church — given directly from Christ to Paul for us. It is of immense value. The final paragraph of 1 Timothy begins with this charge: "O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you" (6:20) — (that is, "guard the deposit, the revelation, I have given to you"). And Paul goes on to include in the opening paragraphs of 2 Timothy a further charge: "By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you" (1:14). This is our happy charge today, and it is grounds for expectant enthusiasm.
First Timothy is incredibly relevant. Philip H. Towner addresses the question of the relevance of the Pastorals, saying:
What do these three letters have to do with our present situation? Consider the agendas for Christian action and evangelical response being set in many quarters of the church today. At the forefront are a number of very pressing items: the church's role in a changing society, the church's responsibility to the poor and the disfranchised, the Christian message among competing messages, the secularization of Christianity, church and state. Consider some of the perennial issues: a Christian attitude to wealth and materialism, the church's response to the cults, spiritual lifestyle, leadership and authority, the role of women, discipline in the church. Finally, consider some of the items on our personal agendas: the true meaning of godliness, faithfulness to the gospel, suffering and life in the Spirit, responsibility to those in authority, the importance of Christian witness. For the church that seeks to understand its role in a complex world and for the individual Christian "who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus" (2 Tim 3:12) today, the Pastoral epistles make very relevant reading.
Indeed they do.
Paul provides a Biblical worldview for today's culture-bound church. The Pastorals are shocking and disjunctive. There is nothing bourgeois about the Pastorals, as some critics have argued. They are not a tract about middle-class ethics. Certainly they do call the church to a respectable lifestyle, but it is radically respectable, and radically ordered by the most radical of all persons — Christ himself! The Pastorals are also bracing. The church that will ride the high seas of the third millennium will be the one that is Biblically defined — by the Pastorals.
The Pastorals are also saving. We will see that Paul tells Timothy in the middle of the first letter, "Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers" (4:16). That is what I hope for myself and you — to be saved as we study this book. Not saved and re-saved (as in reborn again and again), but saved certainly and securely, and therefore saved from our selfishness and from our carelessness, and then saved and saved and saved and saved from our sins as we give closer attention to our doctrine and way of life.
Greetings (vv. 1, 2)
With the purpose of 1 Timothy in mind (the proper order and conduct of the church), let us turn to Paul's carefully phrased greetings to Timothy, which are meant to hearten him in his daunting leadership role.
Paul. Paul's opening self-designation — "Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope" (v. 1) — is boldly significant because this is the only greeting where he claims that his apostolic position was due to divine command. Here the word is freighted with the nuance of a royal order. Paul regards himself as sovereignly dispatched by the Holy Trinity, as seen by his naming the first two members. His intention here is to convey to embattled Timothy (and perhaps even more to the elders of the church) that his teaching was authoritative.
Paul's indication that his "command," his commission, came from "God our Savior and ... Christ Jesus our hope" was both emotive and heartening. The phrase "God our Savior" is deeply rooted in the Old Testament and was common in Jewish devotional language, which repeatedly recalled his acts of salvation. Thus the Virgin Mary naturally used it in the Magnificat: "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior" (Luke 1:46, 47). Paul was implicitly saying, "Timothy — and whoever else reads this — what I am going to tell you comes from our Savior God, who backs up what he commands. Take heart!" The additional phrase "and of Christ Jesus our hope" makes it even more encouraging, because hope in the New Testament means certain hope, fully confident expectation of an as yet unrealized fulfillment.
So from the onset Paul's letter to Timothy was pure offense — confident, authoritative, and encouraging. "Chin up, Timothy! Chin up, all who love the church and desire to see her sail as she should despite rough waters."
Timothy. Paul's heartening introduction was matched by his tender address to Timothy: "To Timothy, my true child in the faith" (v. 2a). Timothy came from a mixed (Jew/Gentile) marriage. His godly mother Eunice was Jewish and his pagan father a Greek. They lived in the pagan town of Lystra (cf. Acts 16:1; 2 Timothy 1:5). Most think that Timothy was converted while a boy during Paul's first missionary journey, when the apostle was almost stoned to death in Lystra (Acts 14:8–23; cf. 2 Timothy 3:11).
Paul was delighted with young Timothy and added him to his entourage, possibly as a replacement for John Mark. It was a good choice, apparently confirmed through prophetic utterances by Paul's associates. Timothy was gifted for ministry through the laying on of hands (1 Timothy 1:18; 4:14) and was circumcised, so as not to hinder ministry among Jews, thus becoming a lifelong member of the missionary task force.
When this first letter was written to him, he was still young because Paul advised him, "Let no one despise you for your youth" (4:12), and in 2 Timothy he warned him, "Flee youthful passions" (2:22). John Stott calculates that he was in his mid-thirties. Not only was Timothy young, he was also timid. So Paul says to him, "For God gave us a spirit not of fear" (2 Timothy 1:7). Earlier he had encouraged the Corinthians, "When Timothy comes, see that you put him at ease among you, for he is doing the work of the Lord, as I am" (1 Corinthians 16:10). "Timid Timothy" needed encouragement.
Timothy also appears to have had a fragile constitution and nagging stomach problems, for which Paul advised, "No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments" (1 Timothy 5:23). So we conclude that Timothy, by nature, was not a missionary commando — a C. T. Studd or a "Dr. Livingston, I presume." And this is probably why we find him so endearing. He is one of us. He does not intimidate anyone. He is so un-Paul!
Yet Paul loved him affectionately. The appellation "Timothy, my true child in the faith" appears to contain a double balm, gently assuaging the fact that Timothy was regarded as illegitimate by Jewish law, while also affirming the spiritual legitimacy of Timothy's own faith — "my true child in the faith." The church was meant to recognize in Paul's affection the stamp of approval, particularly in light of the difficulties Timothy was facing. Paul's other letters also reflect the beautiful depth of his affection for his shy, sometimes frail disciple. To the Corinthians he wrote, "I sent you Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord" (1 Corinthians 4:17). And to the Philippians he said of Timothy, "As a son with his father he has served with me in the gospel" (Philippians 2:22). And to Timothy himself he would poignantly write at the beginning of his next letter, "As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy" (1:4). How heartening Paul's words were to his reluctant successor.
And Timothy did well. We do not know exactly how it all worked out in Ephesus, but we can be sure he faithfully carried out his duties. We know he was Paul's faithful cohort to the end, through thick and thin. We also know that Timothy himself became a prisoner for a time (cf. Hebrews 13:23). And we know he was mightily used by God. Oswald Chambers could well have had Timothy in mind when he wrote:
God can achieve his purpose either through the absence of human power and resources, or the abandonment of reliance on them. All through history God has chosen and used nobodies, because their unusual dependence on him made possible the unique display of his power and grace. He chose and used somebodies only when they renounced dependence on their natural abilities and resources.
Triple blessing. Paul now rains a triple blessing in the form of a prayer-wish upon his dear disciple: "Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord" (v. 2b). The standard pagan Greek greeting was simply "Greetings!" (charein), which Paul had early changed into "Grace" (charis), creating a Christianized greeting that he combined with the standard Hebrew greeting, "Peace" (shalom). Thus the typical Pauline greeting was the beautifully nuanced "Grace and peace." But in 1 and 2 Timothy Paul inserts "mercy" between them, creating a triple blessing that is particularly fitting to Timothy's situation.
In invoking God's grace upon Timothy, Paul referenced not only God's saving grace (cf. Ephesians 2:8), but even more, God's continued grace for living. God is lovingly disposed toward his children, and Paul wishes all the gifts and blessings upon Timothy that naturally fall from a smiling God. It is the "grace upon grace" that John speaks of (John 1:16) — the "he gives more grace" of the Apostle James (cf. James 4:6).
The added word mercy here carries the idea of God's special care for a person in need.10 The Old Testament equivalent of this word (hesed) is used multiple times in the Psalms, with the idea of help in time of need. Paul may well have used this word because of Timothy's Jewish background, which would bring to mind the rich associations of this word — "help to those who cannot help themselves" — "help to the wretched" — "help to the helpless." Timothy was in a situation that would sometimes bring him to the end of himself in certain relational miseries. But there God's special care would be his.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "1–2 Timothy and Titus"
Copyright © 2012 R. Kent Hughes and Bryan Chapell.
Excerpted by permission of Good News Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
A Word to Those Who Preach the Word 13
1 Greetings to All (1:1, 2) 17
2 The Wrong Use of the Law (1:3-7) 25
3 The Proper Use of the Law (1:8-11) 33
4 Gratitude for Grace (1:12-17) 41
5 Fighting the Good Fight (1:18-20) 51
6 Praying and Living for the Gospel (2:1-10) 59
7 Living Out God's Order (2:11-15) 67
8 The Good Elders (3:1-7) 77
9 The Good Deacons (3:8-13) 87
10 The Church's Conduct and Confession (3:14-16) 95
11 Bless God's Good Creation (4:1-5) 105
12 Pursuing Godliness (4:6-10) 113
13 Succeeding in Ministry (4:11-16) 121
14 Relating and Leading (5:1-16) 129
15 Regarding Leaders (5:17-25) 137
16 Regarding Servitude (6:1,2) 145
17 Apostasy Analyzed: A Warning (6:3-10) 153
18 A Charge to the Man of God (6:11-16) 163
19 Closing Words to the Rich and Their Leader (6:17-21) 171
20 Ministry: Retrospect and Reality (1:1-7) 181
21 Stand Tall, Suffer, and Keep the Faith (1:8-14) 189
22 Mercy to the Merciful(1:15-18) 199
23 On Guarding the Gospel (2:1-7) 207
24 The Essential Memory (2:8-13) 215
25 Handling God's Word (2:14-19) 225
26 For Noble Purposes (2:20-26) 233
27 Hearts of Darkness (3:1-9) 241
28 Remembrance and Continuance (3:10-13) 249
29 Continue in the Word (3:14-17) 257
30 Preach the Word (4:1-5) 265
31 Paul's Terminal Perspectives (4:6-8) 275
32 Tough Friends for Tough Times (4:9-15) 283
33 Final Confidence (4:16-22) 291
34 A Greeting of Grace (1:1-4) 301
35 Leading by Example (1:5-9) 319
36 Leading by Contrast (1:10-16) 337
37 Community Grace (2:1-10) 355
38 "Intolerant" Grace (2:11-15) 371
39 Priorities of Grace (3:1-15) 387
Scripture Index 433
General Index 443
Index of Sermon Illustrations 449