Devotional Ruminations: 1 Timothy 1:3-7

My devotional ruminations are just that–devotional thoughts that come from my personal time in Scripture. These ruminations include basic observations and questions (some of which will remain unanswered). Today, I want to make a handful of basic observations from 1 Timothy 1:3-7. Incidentally, my prayer to the Lord was to spend time in a book that will help me cultivate a love and passion for the church and pastoral ministry.

As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, [4] nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith. [5] The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. [6] Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, [7] desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions (1 Timothy 1:3-7 ESV)

  1. Paul left Timothy, his apostolic delegate, in Ephesus. Why Timothy? The answer is not in this text but Philippians 2:20 sheds some light on why Paul left Timothy.
  2. Paul did not assign and abandon. He continued to mentor Timothy.
  3. Like Timothy, pastors do not go into a ministry as a pre-packaged finished product. They too need to continue to grow and develop and minister in their shortcomings. As Paul said later in the letter, “…so that all may see you progress” (1 Timothy 4:15). Pastors minister with encumbering inadequacies but we can minister with empowering grace (2 Corinthians 4:7; 12:9).
  4. Paul left Timothy at Ephesus to perform two key shepherding tasks: preserve pure doctrine (v. 3) and practice pastoral love (v. 5). There is both a firmness and a gentleness that is required in carrying out these tasks.
  5. The pastor serves most effectively when he serves from his inner life: a pure heart, a good conscience, a sincere faith (v. 5). These qualities that should be cultivated and displayed in the shepherd. Are “a pure heart,” “a good conscience,” “a sincere faith” synonymous phrases or are they pointing to nuances of spiritual formation?

Devotional Ruminations: Galatians 2:1-10

My devotional ruminations are just that–devotional thoughts that come from my personal time in Scripture. These ruminations include basic observations and questions (some of which will remain unanswered).  I read Galatians 2:1-10 this morning.

Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along with me. [2] I went up because of a revelation and set before them (though privately before those who seemed influential) the gospel that I proclaim among the Gentiles, in order to make sure I was not running or had not run in vain. [3] But even Titus, who was with me, was not forced to be circumcised, though he was a Greek. [4] Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in—who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery—[5] to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you. [6] And from those who seemed to be influential (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—those, I say, who seemed influential added nothing to me. [7] On the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised [8] (for he who worked through Peter for his apostolic ministry to the circumcised worked also through me for mine to the Gentiles), [9] and when James and Cephas and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given to me, they gave the right hand of fellowship to Barnabas and me, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. [10] Only, they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do (Galatians 2:1-10 ESV).

Here are a few observations I took away from this passage.  I was impressed by six characteristics in Paul’s life.

  1. Commission.  Paul was driven to carry out the commission given to him by Christ.  “…in order to make sure that I was not running or had not run in vain” (v. 2).  Paul was committed to his Christ-given commission.
  2. Conviction.  Paul was held by the unwavering truth of the gospel. “to them we did not yield is submission even for a moment so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you” (v. 5).  Paul was driven by unwavering gospel conviction.
  3. Courage.  Paul’s gospel conviction led to courage.  “…what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality” (v. 6).  Paul wasn’t wrongly swayed by influential people.
  4. Calling.  Paul had a very clear and compelling sense of calling on his life.  It was specific.  “I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised” (v. 7).
  5. Community.  Paul recognized that he had co-laborers in his gospel work.  “and when James and Cephas and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given to me, they gave the right hand of fellowship to Barnabas and me, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised” (v. 9).
  6. Compassion. Paul was a man driven by conviction yet he was compassionate. “Only they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do” (v. 10).

These characteristics remind me of the kind of intentional and missional life that grow out of a person who holds to and is held by the gospel.