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Friday, October 12, 2012

(63) Books of Timothy

The man with a shadowed past but a future of reason.

The name Timothy means to honor God.  The books that Paul wrote to Timothy are dated around 64 and 68 AD respectively.  The first one was written about 4 years before Paul's death.  The second one was written the same year as his death, perhaps even days before.  2nd Timothy may be the last words ever written or heard by Paul.  The first letter was sent from Macedonia.  The second one was written from Rome.  Both are probably sent to Ephesus where Timothy would be to carry on the message that Paul was giving.

1st Timothy contains information about church administration and how the leaders are supposed to be picked.  This was the job of Timothy.  It is basically a manuscript for young leaders and churches.  2nd Timothy contains information to equip the Christian worker.  But there is an odd cold feeling when Reading this letter.  It is almost as though Paul knew this would be his last letter.

Timothy was born in Lystra, a Greek city.  Timothy was raised by two women (his mom and grandma) and was taught the scriptures by them.  Being Greek though he was considered "uncircumcised" but Paul had him go through the ceremony (Acts 16:3).  Timothy was young when he started to help Paul.  Paul even called him young in 64 AD which is odd because he picked up Timothy 20 years earlier.  Pure speculation says that Timothy was there when Paul was dragged out of the city, beaten and left for dead.  If Timothy was very young and saw this what did he think his future was about because Paul took him as his own son.  Timothy needed constant reassuring.  His fear would get in the way.  This is why Paul told him don't be timid (2 Tim. 1:6-7) even though he had a major task to do.  2nd Timothy shows a young minister struggling to gain his strength in his spirit.  His stomach was queasy, perhaps an ulcer due to all the things he saw as a child and what he thought his future was all about.  But because of his commitment, he became respected.  Because of his commitment he became compassionate.  Because of his commitment he became an apostle (an emissary).

Some of the main points are:
  1. Don't argue over senseless things, but also know what the scripture says (1 Tim 1:3-7, 2 Tim 2:14-18)
  2. Worship instructions (1 Tim 2)
  3. Guidelines for leaders (1 Tim 3:1-16)
  4. Pauls' personal desires for Timothy that could also be us (1 Tim 6:11-14)
  5. Be bold in the Lord, there is nothing to fear but fear itself (2 Tim 1:7-8)
  6. Be careful with doubt, God is in control, man is not (2 Tim 4:2)
  7. Even when faced with death, fear no evil (2 Tim 4:6-8)
Most of these books are manuals for young pastors and/or leaders who are fearing what they have to do.  Pastors have a hard time because they have to say the right things, do the rights,  and respond in the right ways.  And in this world that is hard to do.  They are in the world's eyes.  Whatever they do gets reported ten times as much or as far as what the rest of us do.  But that doesn't mean wimp out to be politically correct or give into the culture.

For more on Timothy: http://ideasoftimbible.blogspot.com/search/label/Timothy

Friday, August 3, 2012

(62)The Books of Philemon and Titus

Two Bold Men.

These two books were written by Paul a couple of years apart from each other.  They really do not have anything to do with each other but since they are short we will study them at the same time. Philemon, whose name means "affectionate", was written first around 61 AD around the same time Colossians was written during Paul's first imprisonment.  He perhaps even wrote those two letters at the same time since Philemon was from Colosse.  Titus was written in 64 AD right before Paul's second imprisonment about 4 years before his death.

Philemon is the shortest book written by Paul.  It is very different than Paul's other letters since most of them were about instructing people how to live and what to watch for.  This one though isn't even a sermon.  It is a plea.  Philemon lived in Colossae, richly so.  Paul wrote this book to remind Philemon about who he was before he was converted; a slave owner (Phil v. 16-19).  And how he was forgiven and that the person Paul is sending him should also be forgiven and received that way. The man's name was Onesimus, who apparently owed Philemon, perhaps stole from him.  We do not know if Philemon accepted Onesimus back as a brother but tradition says that Onesimus became a bishop in Berea.

Titus was a Greek gentile, one of the "uncircumcised" and may have been one of the people that Paul took into the synagogue that got him arrested.  Paul converted this Greek into a Christian.  Titus was sent to Crete by Paul to watch over a church he started.  Seems like he was sent many places.  Crete apparently was an island that had a reputation of being filled with liars and gluttons.  He was to be the head of the church, an elder, if you will, maybe even apostle for he is the one who delivered the letter to the Corinthians (2 Cor 7:13-16).  This is why Paul gave instructions of who should be an elder in this letter.  Tradition says he is considered the 1st Bishop of Crete.  Titus was a very zealous man who was undaunted with the way things were and Paul knew he wouldn't back down from any conflict (Titus 1:11, 2 Cor 8:17).  No one knows whatever became of him.  He left for Dalmatia and that is all we know.

Some of the main point sin these books are:
  1. God uses even bad situations for His glory (Phil v 15-16)
  2. There are guidelines for selecting leaders of the church (Titus 1:5-9)
  3. There are guidelines for living our lives as well (Titus 2)
  4. God saved us through mercy, kindness, and love (Titus 3:5-8)
Philemon was written to plea for the acceptance of a former slave and his future treatment and should serve as guideline for all of us.  Titus was written to encourage him and instruct the people about the truth of the Gospel that leads to spiritual maturity.  God can not only transform character but He can also change relationships.  Our reconciliation with God should always lead to reconciliation with man.  But it seems like too many of us only try to get the first one accomplished.  This is why we still can't get along with each other.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

(61) Life after Death

Here are the results from last month's poll: What happens to us when we die?
  • 39% said, We are "asleep" 
  • 11% said, We go straight to the arms of God 
  • 6% said, We go to purgatory. 
  • 33% said, We are judged and then given our justice 
  • 0% said, Nothing. 
  • 6% said, Not for sure. 
  • 6% said, Other 
Comments to follow soon

Saturday, July 14, 2012

(60) The Book of Philippians

The Giving Church.

Philippians is the most affectionate book written by Paul. Actually it was written with Timothy by his side in prison. Two words could describe what this book is about: Joy and Rejoice. It was written in 62 AD from Rome during Paul's first imprisonment, 6 years before his death.

Philippi was a military station for the Roman Empire. It was named after King Philip, the father of Alexander the Great ca. 400 BC. It was reestablished by Caesar Augustus and Marc Antony after they had defeated Brutus and Cassius ca. 40 BC. When Augustus and Antony decided to part ways Augustus allowed him and his men to retire here. The area was also known for its gold mines giving it a nice comfort zone for the retired soldiers. The church that Paul established here held on to their beliefs and remained consistent in their faith (1:4-5).

Some of the main points are:
  1. God is always working with us and on us (1:3-6)
  2. Even though we die physically, we have life because of Christ (1:18-21)
  3. The importance of Christ, who He was and what He did, and what people will do in the end because of Him (2:6-11)
  4. We are citizens of heaven and should not be concerned with things that fade (3:17-21)
  5. No matter what happens we need to rejoice in the Lord (4:4-8)
  6. No matter what the circumstance we can get through because of the strength He gives us (4:11-13)
It was written to thank the church of Philippi for their gift and to encourage them. He also wanted them to welcome Timothy as it seems like he would be released from prison before Paul would be. And the last reason was because he was sending back to them one of their own, Epaphroditus, who had apparently become ill and wanted to return home. But the main key words is what this book is all about; joy and rejoice. It stresses that we can still have joy in our life no matter what happens as along as we remain in Christ. We can get through any situation that this world makes us go through, and for that we need to rejoice in what has been given to us. The world does not understand that. We live in the moment. If the moment seems bad then that is how we treat others. Instead of living for the whole we live for the piece. Joy is not situational. But the world feels it is.

Friday, June 8, 2012

(59) The Book of Colossians

The Church of the Stoic.

Colossians is considered the sister book of Ephesians because it focuses on Christ as being the head of the body which Ephesians said was the Church.  It deals with the supremacy of Christ rather than the Holy Spirit and the gifts.  Paul actually never visited the church here.  It was written in 61 AD during his imprisonment in Rome, about 7 years before his death.  He was either imprisoned with Timothy at this time or Timothy came to to see him and was given the letter to be delivered to Colosae. 

Colosae was a city in a volcanic area.  As a matter of fact during the year this book was written, the city was nearly destroyed by an earthquake. Many Jewish people had settled into the area due to persecution by Antiochus III.   But before it died out, it was a diverse city.  Many educated people came to Colossae to discuss the world.  A group that emerged in this time period were the Stoics, those who explained the world through logic and reason, a predecessor to the Enlightenment thinkers 1700 years later.  Out of this group came a sect of "Christians" called Gnostics; using astrology, mysticism, and Judaism.  They claimed Christ but denied many of the things that the Apostles said Jesus did or commanded.  They believed that God did not really come to earth but only seemed to appear in the flesh.  Jesus was no more than an angel.  God of the old testament was inferior to the God of the new testament.  Man's laws did not put a bind on Christians.  Some people gained "gnosis" (secret knowledge) and this knowledge outweighed the strength of faith.  Hence this is heresy.  The church located here did not understand that knowledge comes from the Spirit so Paul prayed for them to gain this wisdom.

Some of the main points are:
  1. The connection between God the Father and Jesus the Son as One.  (1:15-17)
  2. God's ways are higher than man's and we can't comprehend everything that is done (2:6-10)
  3. We are not of this world and shouldn't live like we are (3:1-4)
  4. The Christian household and what it should be like (3"17-23)
  5. Prayer is a priority (4:2)
It was written to combat the false teachings of the Gnostics and stoics.  The main theme is that we are united with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection.  Jesus is the head of the Church.  But people using their own knowledge try to make the rules instead.  Like the stoic and Gnostics they think they can do all by themselves when in reality they can not.  Faith is important, no one can explain everything and when they can't they start to think there is no God.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

(58) The Book of Ephesians

Church of the Simpletons.

Out of all the troubles that Paul wrote down that he was having in his ministry this book never really goes into any of that.   It instead focuses on how the Church is the Body of Christ and the spirituality it is supposed to have.  As one reads it though it is understood that this one is definitely for the ages since the issues dealt inside are for the whole church.  It was written around 60 AD, 8 years before Paul's death.  Paul was in prison the time he was writing this.  Ephesus was a city he loved and wanted to spend more time there than time actually allowed.

Being a Greek city Ephesus was heavily into the pagan myths of Greek legends about gods and goddesses (Acts 19:23-27).  But it was also inhabited by Greeks who had adopted earlier religions of the original people located in the area.  The main goddess of the city, the matron, if you will, was Artemis, aka Diana, the goddess of fertility.  The temple of Diana may have been the largest Greek building at the time.  Ephesus was part of a culture center, one of the largest of ancient times and grew to a city the size of about 250,000 people.  It was a leader in politics, religion, and commerce.  In 189 BC it became part of the Roman Empire and thus took on many Roman lifestyles as well.  It's theater, which could sit roughly 24,000 people, became of the seven wonders of the world.  The church that was located here Paul said was strong in its faith (1:15) but didn't know exactly what to do with it (1:17-23).

Some of the main points are:
  1. The Church is the Body of Christ and is powerful (1:19-23)
  2. Salvation is a gift, not a reward for works (2:8-10)
  3. There is so much more to grasp that we don't use (3:17-20)
  4. There can be unity and strength through the understanding of each one's gift (4:2-16)
  5. We are in a spiritual war, not a physical one (6:11-12)
It was written to the Church that Jesus was our great example and that no matter where we are in our walk with Him we need to constantly grow in our spirits.  Jesus is our goal for our character.  But character is something we do not care about in this world anymore.  We live for the moment.  We worry about what others think about us (reputation) instead of what we really are.  The main difference between character and reputation is this:  reputation is what we want others to think about us, character is what we do when no one else is around.

Monday, March 12, 2012

(57) The Book of Romans

Church of the Empire.

Romans is the longest book written by Paul.  This book takes the deepest look at sin and salvation than the rest of his letters, hence the Roman Road ideology.  But not only does it focus on these two topics it expands on other topics more than the rest of his letters.  Such as it also talks about righteousness, faith, justification, redemption, atonement, reconciliation, and sacrifice.  It was the book Saint Augustine was reading when he converted and the same one Martin Luther was reading when he came up with the idea of justification by faith that would cause him to break from the Catholic Church starting the Reformation period.  There was more than just Paul that had something to do with the letter.  He orated the letter but it was written by Tertius and delivered by Phoebe.  Paul never made it to the church in Rome until he was imprisoned there at the end of his life.  It was written around 57 AD, 11 years before Paul's death, and about 5 years before he was imprisoned there.  He was in Corinth at the time.

Rome, one of the most famous cities and empires in history, started around 753 BC by twin brothers, Romulus and Remus who were legendarily raised by wolves.  It was actrualkly a repblic until Augustus came to power in 27 BC and remained an empire until its fall in 395 AD.  Around 300 AD the Empuire started to have problems and would eventually become two separate empires, the east would become the Byzantine Empire.  The church of Rome would also split at this point.  The west would become Roman Cahtolicism and the east would become Eastern Orthodox.  Most people think Christianity brought the downfall of the Empire.  But, it may alos perhaps be the thiong that kept it alive for so long.  God perhaps used Rome for His glory.  When the western Roman Empire became the Holy Roman Empire, the word of God spread into 20 languages.  But before the Church became powerful in Rome, many people would not accept Christianity (Acts 18:2) due to a strong paganistic culture.  However the ones that did become Christian and started the church there were very strong in faith (Rom 1:8) and very obedient to the Word (Rom 16:19).

Some of the main points are:
  1. We are all sinners and no one is perfect (3:10)
  2. If we believe and have faith we will have justification, our belief is correct (3:26, 5:1-5)
  3. Although we all died through Adam, we live through Christ (5:12-20)
  4. We may be dead due to sin, but we are made alive due to Christ (6:8-11)
  5. Be controlled by the Spirit, not your flesh (8:9-11)
  6. Salvation is for everyone (10:5-15)
It was written to prepare the church for Pauls' visit and future imprisonment.  The church was also very young and needed guidance with the essentials of believeing in Christ.  This is why it is so widely used to help those who are struggling to understand why they need Christ.  We are all sinners and we all need someone to help us.  Unfortuantely, many think they do not need anyone.

Monday, February 27, 2012

(56) The Books of Corinthians

Church of the Sabotaged and Stubborn.

Although only two books written to the Corinthians are in the Bible there were actually more written.  In the first book, chapter 5 verse 9 Paul says, "I wrote to you in my letter...".  The word wrote of course tells the reader that there was something written before this one.  Some think that this letter was found and placed in the sixth chapter of the second book since that passage is a little off topic and seems like an interruption in flow of reading.  One way or another Paul wrote them more than twice.  These books go into great detail about marriage, love, spiritual gifts, and the resurrection of those in Christ.  The second book goes deeper into the motivation and personal life of Paul more than the rest of his letters.  It also shows his emotional side and how temperamental he may have been.  These were written in 55 AD, about 20 years after his conversion.  The first letter was sent while he was in Ephesus and the second letter was written after he had moved on into Macedonia.

Corinth was a Greek economic center.  It was perfectly in the middle of an east-west trade route along with a north-south trade route.  It was mostly located on a cliff and could be defended very easily.  It is a very old city, probably over 5000 years old.  It became so big Rome saw it as a threat to them and conquered it in 146 BC and became a colony of Rome.  Most of the men and women were sold into slavery (around the same time Spartacus lived).  The city laid in ruins for over 100 years.  And because of the clash of culture the people there were mostly pagans listening to the myths of both Roman and Greek gods.

The church was started by Paul (Acts 18).  It was full of people practicing their spiritual gifts (1 Cor. 1:7) but forgot one major ingredient; love.  They focused more on the power of the gifts than the commandment of what to do with the gifts.  Paul wrote to them to remind them of the things they forgot.  Since love was not really part of their practice it became a very quarrelsome congregation (1 Cor. 1:11).  Probably even argued with Paul while he was there (2 Cor 2:1-2).  Once love was out of the picture, the world was allowed in and it was easily influenced by outside measures (1 Cor. 3:1-3).  They even started to sue each other and treat each other wrongly.  Their worship suffered because of this and they took the Lord's Supper in unworthy manners.

Some main points in these books are:
  1. Unity in the church is very important (1st 1:10-17, 12:12-15)
  2. We are the temple (1st 3:16-17)
  3. We have the Spirit to explain things and instruct us (1st 2:14)
  4. Spiritual warfare needs spiritual weapons (1st 12:4-7, 2nd 10:3-6)
  5. We are a new creation when we give our lives over to Christ, but we only get out of it what we put into it 2nd 5:15-21, 9:6-8)
  6. Jesus is the power and wisdom of God the father and gives us all the grace we need (1st 1:20-25)
  7. LOVE (1st 13)
These were written to stop quarrels from happening within the church.  They had problems within their community and did not take care of the situations, up to the point where they became angry with each other.  Paul also had to tell them of false teachings and correct them about another letter they had misinterpreted by him.  And overall to rebuke them of their lack of love.

Without love all we do is make noise and that noise is annoying.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

(55) Penance

Comments to follow soon.  Do born again Christians have to repent?
  • 43% Yes everytime we sin.
  • 37% Yes.  But only if we have fallen away.
  • 12% No.  Once saved , always saved.
  • 6%  Yes, but for another reason.
  • 0%  No.  No one ever needs to repent.
  • 0%  No.  But for another reason.
  • 0%  Other.

Friday, February 3, 2012

(54) The Books of Thessalonians

Church of the Doomsday Prophets.

With the exceptions of the Revelation of John and some passages by Christ, the books of Thessalonians are the only real books on prophecy and Christ's return in the New testament.  Somehow every chapter closes with a theme of His return.  Although these two books were written separately by Paul they appear to be only weeks apart in time.  They were written around 51 AD, approximately 16 years after Paul's conversion, and 5 years after his first mission.  The letter was sent to Thessalonica from the city of Corinth, which is probably when he started to take notes on the Corinthian people to deal with their problems.  Every chapter ends with a comment about the return of Jesus.

Thessalonica was a commercial center.  It was the capital of Macedonia.  It was named after a wife of General Cassander, a leader in Alexander the Great's army in 315 BC.  It is located at the end of the Danube giving it a perfect location for commerce.  It's major trading partner was Corinth.  Rome did not really influence it that much which is why its Greek culture remained strong.  Being a city of commerce, it became a very diverse city, full of writings in Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek and even Samaritan dialogue.  Images of materialism and seductiveness plastered the city.  It was also a city that was not very receptive to Christians.

The Church was started by Paul (Acts 17:1-4).  It was a church strong in its faith and a loving church (1 Thess 1:3) but it was not properly nurtured.  Many came under persecution.  Many Jews were in the city and forced Paul and Timothy to leave earlier than they wanted and because of this the Thessalonians misunderstood many of the meanings Paul was telling them about the return of Christ.

Some main points in these books are:
  1. There is glory in the second coming (1st 4:13-18)
  2. We are trichotomous beings.  We need to worship God as though we are; mind, soul and spirit. (1st 5:15-23)
  3. There is evil in this world (2nd 1:7-10)
  4. Don't let doomsday prophets scare you, only God knows the end. (2nd 2:1-3)
  5. The Lord is faithful (2nd 3:3-5)
These were written to tell of how Paul was glad to hear that their faith was growing and to settle the confusion about the return of the LORD.  They thought He had already come again, which if course is not true.  He stresses that the plan of salvation is only the beginning of our spiritual journey.  And our erroneous thinking leads to erroneous practices in life.  These errors destroy our spirit.

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