Today’s reading again covers the letters of the Apostle Paul. The first 2 Letters are 1& 2 Thessalonians and the last 3 Letters are 1&2 Timothy and Titus. These last 3 Letters are known as Paul’ Pastoral Letters since he writes them to 2 young Pastors that he has mentored – Timothy and Titus.
One of the interesting features of today’s block of Letters is that many Bible commentators think that the 2 Thessalonian correspondences were near the first canonical Letters written by Paul, probably preceded by only his Letter to the Galatians. While the 3 Pastoral Letters of 1&2 Timothy and Titus were written near the end of Paul’s life.
In 2Timothy 4 we probably have Paul’s last recorded words. Specifically, 2Tim. 4:6-8 are Paul’s crowning words which reveal the God-wrought greatness of this man: “For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the LORD, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day – and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”
What a great testimony of undying love for the LORD and faithfulness to the ministry of the Gospel.
In the 3 Pastoral Letters, Paul gives much attention to the organization of the local churches which he helped plant and which Timothy and Titus are now pastoring. We shouldn’t be surprised that Paul is focusing on issues like the qualifications of Pastors and deacons. He knows that he is not going to be around much longer. He is aging and he is in prison again for the Gospel ministry. This time he is not so sure that he will be released.
The Gospel work that Paul and the other Apostles, like Peter, have begun is dependent on the faithful leadership and discipleship of younger Pastors and church leaders like Timothy, Titus and others. So it makes a lot of sense for Paul to leave instruction on the kind of leaders that the young churches need for their ongoing growth and maturation.
It also makes a lot of sense for Paul to give some wisdom regarding the taking care of the widows and other administrative details of the local churches’ daily life (1Timothy 6). The new wine of the Gospel needs the wine skins of some kind of practical organization.
It is the genius of the Apostolic Letters that they are able to give direction regarding the development of viable church structures but also not etching in stone one kind of church institution. Church history and the present church scene gives testimony for the need of flexibility for different kinds of church structures. The Brethren leadership structure of lay leaders is just as viable as a denomination that has full-time ordained Pastors as their main leaders. Each church structure has strengths and weaknesses. Paul’s wisdom is seen in how he focuses on the need for godly leaders regardless of the specific church structure used. I think this is further proof of the God-inspiredness of Paul’s Letters. In Christ’s love and service, Pastor John