Series on I Timothy, I Warnings, A Declaration of Grace, Text: 1:1,2, Title: Beginning with Grace


The New Testament contains 13 letters in which the apostle Paul is indisputedly identified as the author. Nine letters are to churches and four to individuals. Of the four to individuals one is written to a gentleman named Philemon concerning his runaway slave and the other three are written to ministers who worked with Paul, two to Timothy and one to Titus. These letters warn and encourage these men in ministry. Timothy and Titus not only worked with Paul, but also went on missions where he was not able to go. These letters are important because they deal with issues that concern all of us and also because they reflect the thinking and concerns of the apostle Paul at the end of his life. There are events and circumstances mentioned in these letters which go beyond the history reported in the book of Acts. It is most probable that the Apostle was released from his earlier Roman imprisonment mentioned in the book of Acts and in his letter to the Philippian Christians, and that the events we are looking at in the pastoral epistles followed that release. It means we are looking at a more mature church, a second generation of workers being trained by Paul, and the ripened teaching of the Apostle. Although circumstances had changed, the unchangeable core of truth is the same as we see in the opening words of I Timothy. Paul is about to lay a heavy load on Timothy. Almost immediately he has bad news in verses 3 and 4, As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. These promote controversies rather than God’s work-which is by faith. But, he begins with words of encouragement which draw Timothy's mind back to the source of everything, the grace of God. Paul begins by declaring the grace of God. We will look at three things: the servant of grace, the son of grace and the seal of grace.

I The Servant of Grace

In verse 1 Paul identifies himself as an Apostle, a witness of Jesus’ resurrection and a foundation stone of  Christ's Church, Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope. This is not something he sought. he was a good Pharisee, persecuting the first Christians, and putting them to death as heretics. Then he was met by Christ on the road to Damascus and his life was totally turned around. Instead of an enemy and an assassin he became a servant and a preacher of the one he was persecuting. He is commanded by the Lord. He is conscious that this is something God has ordered. Paul often speaks of being called to be an Apostle and he says he was separated to be an Apostle in Romans, and separated to the office from his mother's womb in Galatians, He also refers to being an Apostle by the will of God several times. This, however, is the only place where he says by God's command. It is an emphatic military word. Paul is under orders; he is compelled, but it is a sweet compulsion for it is the command of God our Savior and Christ Jesus our hope. It is a command born of love and grace. It is God the Father's good pleasure to save those who believe, God the Father who gives the gift of faith, God the father who makes us alive together in Christ, and God the father who blesses us with every spiritual blessing in Christ. In the language of Paul God foreknows, predestines, calls, justifies, and glorifies. He is in a word our Savior. But this command comes from Christ Jesus as well. In this the divine Father and the divine Son are one, but the Apostle calls him our hope because it is Christ through whom the Father's love becomes evident to us in his life and death and resurrection. Christ Jesus therefore, is the basis of our hope. Timothy is to consider himself under command. He will be told to do many hard things. He must see that the orders are born out of grace, unmerited favor. It’s an interesting parallel. Timothy is Paul's son in the faith. Here we have a father and a son issuing the command, and a father and a son obeying it. We need to see ourselves under orders from the one who gives us salvation and hope.

II The Son of Grace

Paul addresses Timothy as a genuine son in the faith in verse 2,To Timothy my true son in the faith. This is a significant compliment. The word translated true or genuine was used to refer to natural children as legitimate as opposed to illegitimate. We would probably avoid that designation today, but it was common in Paul's time. As applied to Timothy it means he was a true follower of Jesus Christ, dependable and committed. Paul's son in faith! But how did he get to be that way? In his second letter Paul refers to the Bible training Timothy received from his grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice. They were Jewish but Timothy's father was Greek. We never hear much about him so he probably was not a believer. When Paul visited Lystra, Timothy's home town in Acts 14 he may have stayed at their house. In Acts 16 Paul invites Timothy to accompany him on his missionary journey. It is rather clear that Timothy had not been formally raised as a Jewish boy because Paul circumcised him. So we may assume that in a divided home his mother and grandmother did their best to instruct him in the things of God but he didn't have a father's support until Paul took him under his wing. He was already well spoken of, but Paul became Timothy's personal teacher and helper, a father in the faith. As we look at the circumstances of Timothy's life we are moved to declare our admiration for God's grace. Paul is reminding Timothy of this as he writes. Christ has laid hold of Timothy's life. he is the servant of Jesus, and the things he must do, again, stem from he grace of God at work in him.

III The Seal of Grace

Paul then salutes Timothy with the threefold blessing. I and II Timothy are the only letters in which Paul uses the threefold blessing, grace, mercy, and peace. Paul's salutations are never mere formal greetings. They are pregnant with meaning. He prays for grace for those to whom he writes because grace is what poor sinners need. He prays for peace, the typical Hebrew greeting, shalom, because this is the result of grace. But here he adds mercy. It has a special connotation for Timothy. Mercy is grace in action. We are saved by grace but we are saved because of mercy. Mercy reminds us that God has set his love upon us. Mercy reminds us that those whom God called he will justify and sanctify and glorify. Mercy attends us all the way through life. His mercies are new every morning, great is his faithfulness. Surely we need strength for the future as well as pardon for the past. Mercy suggests this. It reminds Timothy that the hard calling of his ministry is with the help of the Lord who called him. The same grace that saves is the grace that enables because God is merciful. Timothy was young and timid, but the God of grace and mercy was with him. We are all servants of grace, sons of grace and we all need the seal of grace upon our lives. Without it we cannot do as God commands, whether we be apostles like Paul or evangelists like Timothy or church members as most of us are.