Sunday, December 21, 2008

December 21st - Timothy's False Conversion

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Pastor Aaron Preaching
Daniel's Friend's Wisdom Teeth
Kari - Friend Moving
Gift Wrapping Outreach
Christmas Travel
Those that only come on Christmas and Easter

Text – 1 Thessalonians 3:6-13

As I was praying over this lesson, I wasn’t seeing anything especially ground-breaking that we haven’t already covered or aren’t going to cover later in the examination. Then Dave called me and asked if I could accommodate the High School class. What I was preparing to teach would have left the High School confused, it would have been like if they came in in the middle of a novel without knowing the beginning or the end.

Then something JUMPED out at me, something we talked about two weeks ago, about true and false converts to Christianity. Paul was anxious that those in Thessalonica would be false converts and fall away from the faith…he had seen this happen before…and fortunately when it happened before, it had turned out very well, with Timothy, and that is integrated into this chapter. As we do this lesson, I need you all to step up your maturity, because we’re going to talk about some sensitive stuff and if we’re immature, we’ll never get through it.

So lets read this passage quickly, not because it’s not important, it is vitally important to this book, but for our High Schoolers only sitting in for one class, there is a more important lesson here.

1 Thessalonians 3:6-13 But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and has brought us the good news of your faith and love and reported that you always remember us kindly and long to see us, as we long to see you— for this reason, brothers, in all our distress and affliction we have been comforted about you through your faith. For now we live, if you are standing fast in the Lord. For what thanksgiving can we return to God for you, for all the joy that we feel for your sake before our God, as we pray most earnestly night and day that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith?

Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you, and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.

Timothy went to Thessalonica to check on their progress in the faith, and came back with a very encouraging report of their salvation, as well as their spreading of the faith. They wanted to see Paul and Silas again, and Paul and Silas wanted to see them, but it would be six years before they would have opportunity to be back in Thessalonica.

Until then, Paul prays constantly that God will increase them in love, as well as growing them in holiness.

So, while that’s not all we can learn directly from this passage, I think there is a more important issue at stake here, and that is the issue of false conversion. It is very possible to think you’re a Christian and not be. The Bible is replete with these examples, Wheat and Tares, Good Fish and Bad Fish, Wise Virgins and Foolish Virgins, Sheep and Goats…etc.

First John is the best place to look to make sure you’re a Christian, but it is far from the only place. Romans, Ephesians, Galatians, John…all of these have great tests, as well as pretty much every other book in the New Testament. But I want to give you a practical example, and that example is Timothy.

First of all, you need some history. Timothy is from the little town of Lystra, in Galatia. Paul was converted around AD 32, he spent three years in the desert, probably pouring over his Bible, finding out how Jesus fulfilled the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings, in other words, the whole Old Testament. He returned to Jerusalem and started preaching, but they tried to kill him so he departed via Caesarea for Tarsus. He spent nine-years in Tarsus, so when you look at Paul and think that he just magically knew his Bible, he didn’t, he’d been studying it from birth, taught at the feet of Gamaliel, one of the wisest Rabbi’s ever to live, then he continued to learn his Bible and preach it.

In AD 46 he was summonsed to Antioch, where he taught for a year, and decided to go on his first missions trip. He traveled through Cyprus, then Phrygia, and into Galatia via Antioch and Iconium. Paul's first missionary journey put him in the region of Lystra in AD 47, this was Paul's first harsh persecution and he was driven out of town, and nearly killed by Jews from Antioch and Iconium. They had done their best, and thinking him dead, left him. Of this event, he later wrote to Lystra, "Let no man trouble me, for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus." (Galatians 1:17)

Having introduced the Gospel to Lystra, Paul returned to Antioch in Syria debriefing his missionary stories for "no short time" especially about all of the Gentiles who were believing. In AD 49, he was called to a tribunal in Jerusalem. A group was going around saying that Gentiles had to be circumcised to be saved.

Acts 15:5 "Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved."

Circumcision is the sign of the covenant of the Abrahamic and Mosaic Covenants, here is where you have to be mature, it is the removal of the foreskin from a boy’s penis, it is normally done on the eighth day during a ceremony called a bris, but can be done after, such as Joshua’s whole Army after reaching the promised land. It is not painful as a baby, but I’ve been told it is painful as an adult. It was vitally important to set apart Israel from other nations, but now that Salvation had been made available to others, it was determined that it was no longer necessary. If you want to really know a lot more, because it’s important, read Galatians and Romans 4.

The council in Jerusalem was to combat a works-based teaching, who were referred to as Judaizers or the Circumcision Party. Paul delivered the death blow to this works-based Judaizer heresy with the statement,

Acts 15:11 We believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as [the Gentiles] will.

Letters were sent out to the churches mentioning nothing about the works-righteousness requirement of circumcision, only exhorting every believer to abstain from sexual impurity, pagan practices, and idol worship.

Acts 15:28-29 For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay on you no greater burden than these requirements: that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.

Paul returned to Antioch, just in time to receive word that the churches in Galatia, which were Lystra, Derbe, Iconium, and others, had abandoned the Gospel that he had preached to them. They had been led astray by those that say that circumcision was a necessity for salvation. Paul immediately wrote a long letter to these churches defending salvation by grace through faith in Christ's giving himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age. Who knows what letter that is? Galatians. This occurred at the end of AD 49.

Galatians 1:6-9 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.

He called those who would require circumcision or any works, anathema, which means accursed. These churches were near and dear to Paul's heart, since he had spent much time with the peoples and they were his first mass converts, so he decided to visit them in order to set them straight and check on their progress.

The letter preceded him by about a year, and he arrived in Lystra in early AD 50. Here is where we meet Timothy.

Acts 16:1-3 Paul came also to Derbe and to Lystra. A disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek. He was well spoken of by the brothers at Lystra and Iconium. Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him, and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those places, for they all knew that his father was a Greek.

Sounds innocent enough right…but what did Paul just get done saying? Let’s read it in the letter to Lystra,

Galatians 5:2-6 Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.

Paul gave Timothy a little test to see just how much he understood grace and that Christ did all of the work on the cross. Timothy got caught not reading his Bible, and received circumcision. What are the two ways to Heaven?

1. Jesus said, Be Perfect. Paul said, “If you would be justified by the law, you are obligated to keep the whole law.” Jesus was the only one ever to deserve Heaven by keeping the Law, even circumcised on the eighth day.
2. Receive the righteousness of Jesus Christ, your sins forgiven in his payment on Calvary’s cross.

Galatians 3:10,13-14 For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, "Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them." Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree"—so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.

Timothy was in trouble! Not with Paul, but with God, he was unforgiven, still dead in his sins, not redeemed by Christ nor justified in his blood! Timothy was very fortunate that Paul was discerning and did not just take Timothy’s parent’s or pastor’s word for it.

Now how do I know this stuff? I admit just reading the Acts 16 passage about Timothy getting circumcised doesn’t reveal all of these things, but there is lots of evidence for Timothy later getting saved, especially 1 Timothy 1:2 and 2 Timothy 1:5, where Paul says that Timothy was raised by godly Christian women, his mother Eunice and grandmother Lois, but that Timothy was ultimately Paul’s child in the faith…meaning that Paul converted Timothy.

The main reason I found this is because Paul and Silas went to Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea, and Timothy was not in Philippi or Thessalonica, he didn’t join them until Berea. That is one of the reasons by Paul sent him to Thessalonica to check on them, because remember, Jason in Thessalonica had promised on a sum of money that Paul and Silas would not come back…and they wouldn’t for six years.

This is six months later…so what do you think Timothy did for those months? I think he read Galatians over and over and over again, reading the letter from Jerusalem, working out his salvation with fear and trembling, counting the cost of following the Risen Saviour, and finally he got saved, through faith, not through works! Then he ran off and was able to catch Paul and Silas. At first I thought this would be impossible, but now I think it’d probably be easy, you just ask, “Which way did those Christians go?” They were the first Christians in Macedonia, so catching up with them was probably easy, especially since they had, as Acts says, “Turned the world upside-down.”

Paul gave Timothy this incredible job to go make sure the Thessalonians are really saved, and Timothy, knowing Galatians cover to cover, would be more than equipped for this task.


Without application, this is just a cool story of Timothy’s false conversion and redemption.

How does it relate to you? The first thing we have to see is that salvation is NOT by works, nobody is running around today telling you to get circumcised to be saved…but what about people that say you have to be baptized in water to be saved? Just as communion doesn’t save you, it is a remembrance of Christ’s work on the cross, baptism doesn’t save us, it is a remembrance of our washing in the blood of Christ. Martin Luther said he used to take the opportunity during every bath to remember that Christ had washed him of all of his sins.

The same way, if you want into Heaven because you think you’re a good person, you have to keep the whole law perfectly, and Jesus said there is none good but God.

How important is it to know this Bible? For Timothy, not knowing it would have cost him his soul if Paul hadn't preached to him, but it did result in the unnecessary and painful removal of a sensitive part of his body. If you don’t know this Book, then people can talk you into doing anything. The cult leader Jim Jones talked his congregation into moving to French Guiana in South America where they committed mass suicide, and afterwards during the clean up there wasn't a single copy of the Bible to be found.

If I had to make a guess at when Timothy got saved, I would say it while reading Galatians 2:19-20,

Galatians 2:19-20 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

I think this is the song Bethany told us about, the lyrics are pretty good. The theology of Philips, Craig, and Dean is reprehensible, but they sure can sing:

In conclusion, it is more than possible for you to think you are a Christian and not be, Timothy thought he was a Christian.

Growing up in a Christian family doesn’t make you a Christian, Timothy was raised by two ladies who Paul considered godly.

Just because someone high up says you are a Christian doesn’t make you a Christian, Timothy came well recommended by churches in Galatia.

Only God justifying you through the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and granting you his righteousness can save you. This justification is solely through faith, and this faith, if genuine, will bring forth repentance, works of love, and growing in holiness.

We finished early and so took the opportunity to look at Matthew 22:1-14

And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come. Again he sent other servants, saying, 'Tell those who are invited, See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.' But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them. The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. Then he said to his servants, 'The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.' And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests.

"But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. And he said to him, 'Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?' And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, 'Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' For many are called, but few are chosen."

If you attend church and believe in God only for the good things, like this man was attending only for the party and the food, then you will be cast out of God's kingdom on the Day of Judgment. If you have not put on the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ, the robe of righteousness freely offered, by repenting and believing in the Gospel, then you will get neither the party nor Eternal Life.

Seek first the kingdom of Heaven and Christ's righteousness and everything else will be added unto you.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

December 14th - Christmas

Prayer Requests
People who only come to church on Christmas and Easter
Kennesaw Christmas Parade Results
Pastor Aaron Preaching
Choir Gospel Singing
Safe Travels for Everyone

Text - Luke 1:26-35

I took a class from a sort-of famous preacher named Ergun Caner. He told us that we are allowed to preach one topical sermon a year, if we apologize immediately afterward. While I’m not preaching, I’m teaching, I take his exhortation very seriously and prayed long before deciding to devote this class to Christmas instead of continuing on 1 Thessalonians.

Since I don't know how many students will be here next week, we will probably do something else on that day, maybe a relook at the previous three chapters of 1 Thessalonians.

I love Christmas music, specifically music about Christ, but a lot of the stuff you hear on the radio is terrible. I want to look at a couple of songs that are theologically great.

I was unable to find the Son of God Came Down on YouTube, GodTube, or elsewhere, it is very worthwhile to download on iTunes, or even buy the whole CD.
Sovereign Grace Music
The lyrics are:

The Son of God came down and laid aside His crown
Born without great renown, this Sovereign One
All holiness and might, all glory shining bright
Have come to earth this night in Mary’s son

O come, let us adore
O Christ the Lord, our hope and Savior
Son of God yet made like us
O Christ the Lord, our King adored
Born a child, our Lord Jesus

Messiah born so small, asleep in cattle stall
Come to redeem our fall, nailed to a tree
This tiny, helpless child
Through death would reconcile
The holy God and vile, His grace so free
O come, let us adore

Let's look at a couple of words before we start.

Christmas comes from two words, Christ - Annointed and Massae - Celebration, Christmas it celebrating the birth of the Lord's Annointed.

In a lot of languages you won't see Christmas, but something similar to Navidad, which means birth. Another word that isn't very popular, but seems to be getting used more and more often is Advent, which means coming. This can refer to the first coming of Christ and/or the second. Some churches celebrate the coming of Christmas, through various traditions starting at the beginning of December, but the original term meant the coming of the Son of God.

Galatians 4:3-5 We were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world, but when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.

God specifically chose the time when Christ would come, he setup the world just right for his birth, work, and the preaching of the Gospel. There are four major reasons why this is so.

Hellenistic Influence - Alexander the Great conquered much of the known world, winning Palestine from the Mede-Persian Empire. This naturalized the language of the world, and made travel easier. The dislike of petty squables kept violence down and also made travel safer.

Language - The world began to speak Greek, so much so that the Old Testament was translated into Greek by 72 Rabbis. This translation is called the Septuagint, which means 70, and it is abbreviated LXX, which are the Roman numerals for 70. Jesus and Paul frequently quoted from the Greek Old Testament, as well as from the Hebrew Old Testament. In this, we have the authority to translate the Bible into all of the languages of the world. This language congruity made preaching much easier and faster, because almost everyone spoke at least two languages. The Apostle Paul spoke at least four languages; Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, and Latin.

Jewish Dispersion - After the exile in Babylon, many Jews didn't return to Palestine, but lived all over the Macedonian empire. Where-ever there were 10 or more Jews, they setup a synagogue, which really helped Paul to preach everywhere he went, always beginning in the synagogue and then going to the Gentiles. The Jewish Dispersion is called the diaspora. Jews were supposed to visit Jerusalem for the Passover, and living far from Jerusalem would have made this possible had the Romans not built such a good infrastructure.

Roads - Roads such as the Egnatian and Appian Ways made traveling long distances much easier, safer, and faster. They were intrumental in the spreading of the Gospel.

Look at some other verses referring to the time,

Mark 1:15 The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.

Romans 5:6 For while we were still weak, at the right [or appointed] time Christ died for the ungodly.

The when that Christ was born, ministered, and died was exactly the time that God intended it to be; it happened precisely according to his plan.

Speaking of language, I want to show you something neat. The Gospel of Luke has at least two authors, Luke admits to this in his introduction:

Luke 1:1-4 Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.

The Gospel of Luke is separated into three languages.

1:1-4 is introduced in a high Greek; Luke was showing that he was a smart guy, a learned guy, and that his history of Christ's life and ministry was authoritative.

1:5-2:52 is written in a lower Greek, in a dialect found most often in Palestine. Many of the things that it contains could have only been known by Mary, and I believe that Mary was the author of this section.

3:1-End is written in the standard biblical Koine Greek, which is the common language, written by Luke so that those that could read basic Greek were able to read and understand his Gospel.

There were a lot of passages in the Bible talking about the birth of Jesus, and they are all good, I picked one that you're probably not likely to hear a lot about since the passages of choice are Matthew 2, Luke 2, John 1, and Isaiah 9. Those are good, but so is this one.

Luke wrote to Theophilus, this word means, "Friend of God," so whether there actually was someone named Theophilus, the ultimate purpose of this Gospel is to strengthen and teach the friends of God, who were once his enemies, but now have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

Luke 1:26-35 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, "Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!" But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end." And Mary said to the angel, "How will this be, since I am a virgin?" And the angel answered her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy— the Son of God."

Now, first of all, Nazareth is 70 miles from Bethlehem, and the Bible is clear that the Messiah had to be born in Bethlehem. Mary knew her Bible, and I think she was especially confused that she was carrying the Messiah in Nazareth.

Micah 5:2 But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah,from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.

The Old Testament has over 300 prophecies which were fulfilled explicitely in Jesus Christ. There are hundreds more prophecies that probably were about Jesus, ranging from probably him to maybe him. The 300 were impossibly specific, like Jesus being born of a virgin, called a Nazarite, born in Bethlehem, called out of Egypt...but he fulfilled them perfectly.

Micah 5:2 is the prophecy that the Wise Men were following to find the King of the Jews.

Beth in Hebrew means house. Bethany is the house of flowers, Bethel is the house of God, and Bethleham is the house of bread. Jesus called himself the Bread of Life. Similarly, the first king chosen by God for Israel was born in Bethleham, and the last King chosen by God for Israel was born in Bethleham. Bethleham is called the City of David, because it is where David was born.

The angel came to Mary in the 6th month, which in the Jewish calendar, the year starts near the end of September, I don't fully know why. That places the 6th month in March, and nine months after March is December. The earliest church celebrated Christ's birth on the 6th of January, but we moved it to December 25th to combat paganism. Really what is important is that we're celebrating the Advent of God and not the day.

Some claim that a winter birth was impossible because of the Shepherds in the fields tending their sheep. Indeed, this would be impossible most years in Israel, however, every 5-7 years, there is a warm year where it is warm year-round. Travel agents try to anticipate this year and sell trips to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem during it to people in parts of Europe where it gets cold. Likely Jesus was born during one of these warm years.

The Angel Gabriel, who announced the virgin conception, is seen in Luke and in Daniel. His name means, "Man of God". When-ever angels appear to people in the Bible, the people are frightened, and the angels say something to the effect of, "Fear Not." Angels must be pretty impressive. But we don't worship them, look at what happened when John tried to worship an angel,

Revelation 22:8-9 I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed these things to me, but he said to me, "You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God."

Jesus, on the other hand, accepted worship. We see clearly that Jesus was higher than angels, he is God, and he is not an angel.

Gabriel told Mary to call the baby's name, "Jesus". Jesus has theological significance, for example, other names mean important things, like:

Jehashophat means Ja or God the Judge.
Ja-Goel means God the Redeemer
Ja-Nissi means God our Banner
Ja-Shua or Yasha means God the Saviour, and this is what Jesus means, Jesus is the Hellenization of the Hebrew/Aramaic Jeshua or Joshua, which was turned into Isous, and then Jesus. There are many, many names and pronunciations for the Son of God, as long as you're referring to the God-man who died on a cross and defeated death, the name you choose, as long as used with reverance, is less important than the Person you are referring to.

Another name for Jesus is Emmanuel, which comes from two words, Immanence - Nearness, and El - God; it refers very specifically to Jesus being God with us.

Next, the Virgin Birth is impossible. It never happened before, it will never happen again, but what is impossible with men is possible with God, and we should expect the way the Saviour of the world was born would be a miraculous occurence.

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

The census of all Roman provinces made it necessary for Joseph to go to Bethlehem, and he took Mary with him. I think they probably knew the baby would be born there, but they probably didn't know the circumstances.

Colossians 1:17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

While this little baby was laid in a manger (a feeding though), he was holding the universe together. He didn't stop being God because he was a baby, and yet he still learned and grew in knowledge.

A manger is a strange place to find a baby, it is a very humble place to be born, to be laid in a makeshift crib, but a stable is not at all a strange place to find a lamb, and here we see the Lamb of God, come into the world in the most humble of humble ways, to take away the sins of the world.

Hark the Herald Angels Sing
I chose this version not because I endorse Carrie Underwood or her music,
but because she enunciates the lyrics of this song really well:

We only celebrate Christmas because of what happened on Easter, the two can't be separated. If Jesus hadn't grown up to give his life for his friends by going willingly to the cross to take the full wrath of his Father, then Christmas would have no significance, so in the words of Go Fish,

The beginning and the middle are both wonderful and great,
but it's the ending that can save you, and that's why we celebrate.

It's About the Cross by Go Fish

Have a Merry Christmas if I don't see you before then!

Fast Facts on Christmas by Canyon Shearer

Sunday, December 7, 2008

December 7th - Pastor Timothy

Prayer Requests
Pastors in India - $250 Bounty
Amy Geil Feeling Better
Hannah's Grandmother in Mexico flying in
Bethany's Grandmother flying in
MacIntosh and McGullion's Summer Trip Planning

Text 1 Thessalonians 3:1-5

1 Thessalonians 3:1-5 Therefore when we could bear it no longer, we were willing to be left behind at Athens alone, and we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s coworker in the gospel of Christ, to establish and exhort you in your faith, that no one be moved by these afflictions. For you yourselves know that we are destined for this. For when we were with you, we kept telling you beforehand that we were to suffer affliction, just as it has come to pass, and just as you know. For this reason, when I could bear it no longer, I sent to learn about your faith, for fear that somehow the tempter had tempted you and our labor would be in vain.

This is a transitioning chapter in this Epistle, Paul started out by commending the church, and telling them how proud he was of their good work, faithfulness, and love of the Word of God. In chapter four he is going to give them somethings to improve and strive for, like sexual purity, trusting God’s sovereignty, and respecting the hierarchy of the church.

You also notice that they may have thought Paul had abandoned them and that he didn’t really care about them anyways. He keeps saying that he loves them, and that he tried to get back to them, and that he was worried about them, and that he was unable to visit so he sent Timothy.

Paul was giving them a history of what they did after he was kicked out of town, that he was worried they hadn’t received enough instruction.

How exactly the travel arrangements happened here is difficult to say, I worked on this for a long time and I don’t think it is knowable, but it’s not particularly important to doctrine either. By my best understanding, Paul was kicked out of Berea, Silas and Timothy stayed to minister to the Bereans, Paul sent for them to come to Athens, they came to Athens. In Athens, they started to really worry about Thessalonica, so Paul sent Timothy from there. I don’t know where Silas went, but for a brief period he was separated from Paul when Paul went to Corinth. My guess is that Silas stayed in Athens, since there were people there who wanted to learn more about Jesus Christ. This was the most confusing traveling story I’ve read in the Bible…

There is a LOT going on here and for some reason it is not as clear as it could be. In Chapter 2 you’ll remember that Paul stated that he wanted to go back but was hindered, this was likely him speaking about being in Berea when the Jews came and found him and ran him out of Macedonia all together. Since they didn’t run Timothy and Silas out of town, they must have only really disliked Paul. Timothy may not have been with them at this time but met up with them, there is no mention of him in Philippi or Thessalonica on the first visit. How exactly it happened is not recorded. He probably stayed in Lystra to count the cost of being an itinerant minister, then decided to, and chased after Paul and Silas. How the communication happened is hard to discern.

Now, why were they worried about Thessalonica? There are four kinds of hearers, according to Jesus Christ:

Matthew 13:3-9 A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear."

These are the same seeds, the same sower, only the ground, or the hearer, changes.

As it happens a lot, his hearers didn’t understand, and since this is the most important parable in the Bible (Mark 4:13), Jesus goes on further to explain what he meant:

Matthew 13:19-23 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty."

Your four hearers are:

Hard-Hearted Hearers – The word just bounces off of them, no growth whatsoever.
Stony Ground Hearers – Hard hearts, shallow, seeking their own happiness above God. Can’t withstand persecution.
Thorny Ground Hearers – Too in love with the world to grow.
Good Soil Hearers – Seeds grow, good roots in the Bible, produce grain which results in others being saved.

Good soil is rare to find naturally, you have to till the soil, pick out the rocks, kill the weeds, turn bad soil into good…any of the hearers could be turned into good soil hearers if the time is spent to prepare their hearts for the word.

Paul was worried that maybe Thessalonica didn’t have adequate work done to grow them in the faith, so he sent Timothy back to further train them. Fortunately his worries were unfounded, as we learned from chapters 1 and 2. The persecution that they faced and were facing proved that they were good-soil hearers, but also certainly Timothy’s visit helped to encourage them in the faith.

Pastor Timothy

Now who was Timothy? Just to give you a basic background:

Acts 16:1-3 Paul came also to Derbe and to Lystra. A disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek. He was well spoken of by the brothers at Lystra and Iconium. Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him, and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those places, for they all knew that his father was a Greek.

Timothy was from Galatia, one of Paul’s reasons for going this way was to make sure this region was returning to preaching the true Gospel, because they had abandoned it for a little while and Paul became concerned for their salvation and ministries. He picked up this young man and decided to train him up to be a minister of God.

Paul had gotten into a huge fight in Jerusalem about circumcision, which is something the Jews would do as a sign of the covenant to boys. They decided that salvation was entirely by grace, and that the covenant did not have to have an outward sign, but for some reason Paul decided to have Timothy circumcised anyways. I think it was to avoid having to have the fight over and over again at every synagogue, and also as a demonstration of the optional nature of circumcision. See -

2 Timothy 1:5 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.

Timothy was well trained by his grandmother, Lois, and mother, Eunice, and was well spoken of. Paul did great things with him because he had such a good foundation of the faith.

His first job was in Thessalonica, then he became the pastor of Ephesus, and finally he visited Corinth to correct some of their major problems. At some point, probably before his pastorate in Ephesus, he spent time in prison, possibly with Paul in Jerusalem, although we don’t know where. He died under the persecution by Domitian, sometime between AD 81-96. Domitian hated Christians so much he killed his close relatives Clemens and Domitilla under the charge of “Atheism” which is what the Romans believed about Christians, since we worship only one God, as compared to the Romans who worshipped all of the gods.

By AD 95 the church at Ephesus had died spiritually. (Revelation 2:1-7) A great church can die quickly if they lose their good pastor.

The Epistles to Timothy are concerned largely with pastoral position, which is fitting, since Timothy was the first pastor that Paul trained. Pastors are very important and must be godly men, and also many of the admonitions for pastors include the behavior of their wives.

Some things that were written that are useful for this class are:

1 Timothy 4:7-8 Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.

1 Timothy 4:11-2 Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.

John MacArthur got his pastorate at 30 years old, after two old pastors had died, and he’s been their pastor for 39 years now. Many of the greatest pastors in history became pastors at young ages.

2 Timothy 2:11-13 The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself.

2 Timothy 2:8-9 Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound!

None of this is really new to the New Testament, but it is said very, very well. Paul knew the Old Testament through and through. Compare this passage against wayward priests from Hosea:

Hosea 4:6-9 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because [pastor/priest/shepherd] have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me. And since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children. The more they increased, the more they sinned against me; I will change their glory into shame. They feed on the sin of my people; they are greedy for their iniquity. And it shall be like people, like priest; I will punish them for their ways and repay them for their deeds.

We’ll learn next week that Timothy brought back a very encouraging report. In Chapter 4 we will talk more about the persecution that had come that Paul had promised them would come.

Finally, Timothy is called God's coworker in this passage, which is really an incredible title.

Consider these other incredible titles:
Friend of God
son/daughter of God
Half brother/sister of Christ
Minister of the Most High God

We have been given big titles to live up to, do your best to represent your God and Saviour rightly, knowing that if you fail he will forgive you, and that it is ultimately him building his church, but giving us an incredible position to be his coworker.