Timothy was one of Paul’s most reliable companions. Paul wrote him two personal letters, dated between A.D. 62 and 68.
The first letter was written from Philippi in Macedonia while Timothy was serving the church in Ephesus.
Paul referred to Timothy’s youth, but we should not be misled by that statement. In his 30’s Timothy was relatively younger than his 60-year-old father in the ministry.
We are not accustomed to the kind of formality that was evident in Paul’s salutation to Timothy.
He was writing a close friend, but also a partner in the ministry who was under his authority.
There were problems in the Ephesian church that Timothy needed to straighten out. The letter was to a friend, but it was all business.
Paul’s salutation combined Hebrew and Greek greetings that took writing on a scroll into consideration.
Modern letters contain a “complimentary close.” Ending a letter with “Sincerely yours,” and the name of the sender is common in our day.
Ancient letter writing placed the name of the sender at the beginning, so the entire scroll wouldn’t have to be unrolled to see who was sending it.
Paul’s salutation to Timothy read like this:
1 Timothy 1.1-2 – Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the 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.
Paul packed large amounts of information into short sentences. The salutation to this letter is no exception.
We do well to meditate on his words.
(1) Paul was an apostle.
An apostle is a “sent one,” who acted on the authority of the person who sent him. The words and deeds of apostles or envoys carried the same weight as if the sender were himself present.
(2) The One who sent Paul was Jesus at the command of God.
Jesus was Paul’s model. He was sent from the Father and he always followed the Father’s orders.
Jesus frequently described his actions like this: “Very truly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing on his own but only what he sees the Father doing, for whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise” (John 5.19).
Paul knew that his work was commissioned by God and he sought to serve him faithfully.
(3) Timothy was Paul’s child in the faith.
Timothy’s name means to “honor God.” He honored God and served with Paul in the proclamation of the gospel.
There are more Bible references to Timothy in Paul’s ministry than to any other person.
(4) Key Words: faith, grace, mercy, and peace.
Paul called Timothy his “child in the faith.” Faith is trust in God based on a personal relationship with God.
Timothy and Paul had a unique father-son relationship that was rooted in a shared relationship with God through Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
“Grace” is pregnant with meaning. Objectively, grace is that which causes favorable regard, gracefulness, loveliness of form, and graciousness of speech.
Subjectively, grace is God’s gift of favor bestowed on humans without any obligation to do so on his part.
“Shalom or peace” was and is the traditional Jewish greeting. It implies freedom from hostility, but much more. Peace is a desire for the well-being of another.
Paul combined “grace and peace” to identify the fact that humans have peace (peace with God and well-being) only because of the gift of God’s favor.
“Mercy” describes a readiness of a stronger individual to help a less fortunate person.
The classical Greek understanding of mercy involves kindness or good will toward the miserable and afflicted and is joined with a desire to relieve them.
Grace, mercy, and peace describe God’s actions toward humans. Faith is the human response to God’s abundant love.
Faith opens the door for God’s benefits to be real in our lives. As we think about God’s goodness, let’s respond positively to Jesus’ offer.
Revelation 3:20 – “Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in and eat with you, and you with me.”
Think of the last phrase of eating with Jesus as his offer to be your best friend. Let’s take advantage of his grace and experience it to the fullest.
Rudy Ross and I talk about this passage today on YouTube. You can see the video on the Bob Spradling channel.
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