January 17, 2014.
I am very excited to get the opportunity to go to Florida today to participate in the “Family Vacation Retreat: We Are Young” conference that is being held in Panama City this weekend. This event is geared towards college students as a means to retreat in the winter from all the busyness of our everyday lives and focus on what is truly important: the gospel. This winter’s theme is Paul’s letters to Timothy, so I thought it would be fitting today to write a little background about the letters.
The two epistles that Paul writes to Timothy are some of my favorites of his letters as I can relate to Timothy somewhat better than other characters in the Bible.Timothy was young man, strong in the faith taught to him by his mother and grandmother, and who was expected to be a leader. Paul and Timothy had a close relationship- Paul even refers to Timothy as his child in the faith:
“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope,
To Timothy, my true child in the faith:
Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.”
(I Tim. 1:1-2)
It seems that Paul had taken Timothy under his wing. We don’t hear much about Timothy’s father other then the fact that he was Greek, the language implying that either he did not accept the Christian faith or had died at an early age. As mentioned above, Timothy’s mother and grandmother are spoken very well about by Paul:
“I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.”
(II Tim. 1:3-6)
So here we have this young guy, Timothy, who has had a strong influence in the faith from his mother and grandmother, but probably not his father, and has been taken in by the Apostle that would go on to write the majority of the New Testament. I think I would be pretty intimidated to be in his shoes. And maybe Timothy was, as Paul writes to him telling him to take courage and not to let anyone despise his youth. Paul has trained Timothy as he accompanied him on his second missionary journey and he charges Timothy to be a leader and teacher in some churches they had established. One of the most telling things that Paul wrote to Timothy that shows his confidence in him is when he instructs Timothy to appoint elders, giving him the qualifications in chapter three of his first epistle. A young man to appoint older men that were to have authority in the church. I can only speculate that that probably didn’t go over very smoothly. Yet, I believe this is why Paul reminds Timothy to not let anyone look down on his youth.
I believe there are many lessons we can learn from these two letters and Paul and Timothy’s relationship in general, but I think the overall message that can be taken is not to let youth be a barrier in teaching and setting examples for the household of faith. Spiritual maturity can come at many different ages; it would be unwise to discredit someone just because they are young. Paul reminds Timothy this time and again as he keeps encouraging him to teach and set the right example. I hope we can all look at these letters and gain an appreciation to the talent God has given to each of us, young and old alike, and further bring us closer as a family.
Suggested Daily Reading: I Timothy 1-6.
Grown in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.