Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Hebrews 11

Chapter 11 of Hebrews is the "Faith Hall of Fame." The author of Hebrews shows that by faith people from of old have done amazing and marvelous things. Faith, says the author, is "the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen (1)." We learn in verse 6 "without faith it is impossible to please God, for whoever would approach him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him (6)." We then get a long list of people of faith living by faith: Abel, Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshuah, and Rehab. We hear of great deeds and miraculous events in the lives of people of faith -- it is inspiring and it is encouraging to read these stories.

The chapter turns on verse 35. We learn of "women receiving their dead by resurrection (35a)." And then we learn that people of faith endured great hardships and struggles as well. They were tortured, suffered mocking, stoned to death, cut in half, wandered about in deserts and caves and holes in the ground . . . and my favorite phrase "of whom the world was not worthy (38)."

It is helpful to remember in the faith hall of fame that faith may lead us to great adventures and great victories in the world. Faith may also be the means by which we endure and survive life's struggles and an evil and anti-Christ world. In the words of one writer when we are thrown into the Lion's den -- sometimes God stops the mouths of lions and sometimes we are Purina lion chow. God is with us in either situation and in either consequence.

Hebrews 10

The concluding argument is made in  chapter 10 that Jesus is the final offering, once and for all, for the sins of the people and that this offering is infinitely better than the blood of lambs and bulls. The offering of Jesus is the sign of the new covenant (16-18) that is now established internally and eternally.

Because of this we must persevere. The author says we "have confidence (19)" that Jesus has "opened a way through the curtain (20)" and now that we have a "great priest over the house of God (21)" we can approach with full assurance having been washed clean. We must hold fast to what we believe. Remember the context of the letter is that people were NOT holding fast and were leaving the faith to return to their former practices.

I especially like verse 24 -- let us provoke one another to love and good deeds. What a great concept. Instead of provoking others to violent responses or other behaviors the goal of the church is to help us provoke one another to do more good. The key to this is "not neglecting to meet together (25)." Christianity knows no religion but social religion -- that is to say we are called to live life in radical community with one another. A community that challenges and encourages; a community that teaches, trains and deploys. Without the community of faith it is not possible to live the life Jesus called us to live. This is, perhaps, the greatest challenge for the modern church. The challenge of creating (and recreating) authentic Christian community where we lift, challenge, and "provoke" one another to live the life we are called to live.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Hebrews 9

The sacrificial system of the Old Testament is not a common discussion topic or a matter of popular study in the 21st century church. The Temple where these sacrifices had to be offered was destroyed by Titus of Rome in AD 70 and has never been rebuilt. The practice of offering the blood of lambs, goats, bulls, etc. to cover the sins of the people has not been officially practiced since that time. For Christians this older system was "done away with" when Jesus offered his own life as the final atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world. This final sacrifice -- the offering of the Son of God -- fulfilled the Old Covenant requirement "that without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins (22)" and was completed "once for all at the end of the age to remove sin by the sacrifice of himself (26)."

This argument is the same one the author of Hebrews is making throughout this letter. The argument is simple: Jesus replaces all of the Old Testament requirements. Remember the context of the letter to the Hebrews is that some Jews who had become Christians were returning to their former ways and life in Judaism. The author of Hebrews is writing to show the folly of this behavior and, perhaps, to convince them to return to the church. The discussion here in chapter 9 and 10 is one of the reasons this letter is usually dated in the late 60's. It seems inconceivable that the author would fail to mention the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem had that destruction already happened in light of his argument that the work done in the Temple was no longer necessary because of the offering of Jesus on the cross. The argument goes: since the destruction of the temple (and the city of Jerusalem) occurred in AD 70 and this event is not mentioned in Hebrews, the letter had to be written before that date.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Hebrews 8

Jesus is the mediator of a better covenant. The author of Hebrews argues that the old covenant was based on externals and ritual behavior. Laws to be remembered, rules to be followed, sacrifices to be offered were the basis and expression of the old covenant. Quoting Jeremiah 31:31-34, the author shows that God is bringing a new covenant. It is a covenant that is internal (laws in the minds, written on their hearts {10}). It is a covenant that is relationship focused -- "for they shall all know me (11)". And it is one that is expressed in mercy and grace "I will be merciful toward their iniquities and I will remember their sins no more (12)."

It is the difference between religion and Jesus. Religion is about following rules and rituals so as to become presentable and to be found righteous before God. Jesus came to say that God has already made us righteous -- we can't earn it, we don't deserve it, it is a gift. The focus is not on correct behavior (although behavior changes) the focus is on right relationship. It is about knowing God through Jesus. A more excellent covenant, indeed.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Hebrews 7

The author resumes his argument that the "High Priesthood" of Jesus supercedes all previous priesthoods. He likens this priesthood to the priesthood of Melchizedek. Melchizedek was king of Salem in Genesis (later called Jerusalem) and was honored by Abram (Abraham) with a tithe of the spoils of war from the rescue of Lot from Shinar (see Genesis 14). Melchizedek appears to have no beginning or ending and he blesses Abram (Genesis 14:19-20). The writers in the first century looked at Melchizedek as an eternal high priest that presaged the arrival of the ultimate high priest. Early Christians, and the author of Hebrews, believed that Jesus was this high priest after the order of Melchizedek. For the modern reader this seems a bit convoluted but in the first century this was a significant issue.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Hebrews 6

From the beginning of the Christian movement the church has struggled with the issue of "lapsi". The Lapsi are those who professed faith in Christ, lived as Christians and then, for whatever reason, either left the faith or returned to their previous religion. At the writing of Hebrews this has become a struggle in some areas. In particular, for the writer of Hebrews, are the "jewish-christians" who are making the choice to return to more traditional judaism. In the time of Constantine and later there is always the issue of restoration of those who denied Christ while under duress or persecution and later want to be restored to the community. The Christian church has traditionally made space for them and, after a season of penance and reflection have welcomed them home.

The point that the author of Hebrews makes is that it is difficult for them to come back. Once we trust Christ for our salvation and then turn away from him there are many difficulties in returning to faith in Christ. In verse 6 the author suggests that these people are "crucifying Christ again  . ." in other places we find references to dogs returning to their vomit and pigs returning to their slop. Strong language, indeed. But there is peril in "falling away." How do we live the truth, leave the truth and again live the truth. Most faithful Christians have had this experience on some minor way. Most faithful Christians can point to times and seasons when they were not living very "Christ like". Most faithful Christians, if they did not "fall away", have certainly seen the path that leads that way and have certainly struggled with being fully faithful.

The author concludes the discussion with a reminder that God's promise is certain (see 13-20) using Abraham as the primary example.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Hebrews 5

The author further explains that every "human" high priest was required to make sacrifice for the people but first has to offer a sacrifice for his own Sin. Jesus, the "high priest forever" lived the sinless life and therefore did not need to offer a sacrifice for himself. This makes him uniquely qualified to be the atoning sacrifice for the entire human race.

Chapter 5 concludes with a reminder that we are not called to simply accept Jesus but to follow him and to move on toward discipleship. The author criticizes the growth of his audience by noting that they are still drinking milk and have not yet moved on to the solid food of faith. The goal of the ministry of every church is to raise up mature and fully functioning followers of Jesus Christ. We call them disciples.

Hebrews 4

These 16 verses are loaded:

Notice that in Christ we "enter into God's rest." This concept is at the heart of Grace. Grace announces that we are forgiven and because God's love has already covered us we can stop our striving to earn God's favor and enter into that favor. In a sense we surrender to what God has done. Over and over again the New Testament tells us that we are "save through faith" and "not of our works and efforts." The "sabbath rest" of God ends our striving to earn God's favor and frees us to live, love and serve.

Notice in 12 that the "word of God" pierces through all of our armor and brings clarity of understanding (judgment). We stand before the word naked and without excuse. All we can do is receive the word and live into it.

Finally, starting at verse 14 we have a marvelous thought. Jesus, our high priest, is the most unique person who ever lived. He was fully human and fully God at the same time. Because of his God side he has the power and authority to accomplish all he was sent to do. Because of his human side we are able to relate to him as human beings. We "do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses -- we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin." Jesus lived our journey and knows and shows the way to victory.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Hebrews 3

The author continues to show the superiority of Christ in all things. In vs. 1-6 he shows that Jesus Christ is superior to Moses. Moses was faithful to his role as a servant in the house of God. Jesus was faithful in his role as Son of God. The son outranks a servant, therefore Jesus Christ is greater than Moses. To carry the point further, Jesus, as son of God, is not only the heir in the house he is the builder.

The chapter concludes with an extended admonition against unbelief. Today -- do not harden your hearts. Today -- when you hear the voice of God believe and receive. We are told (13) to exhort one another daily to believe and live the faith and calling to which we were called.

Exhortation is essential to the Christian journey. What would any of us do without the encouragement and support of the Christian community. We all have days of darkness and struggle -- it is the exhortation of fellow Christ followers that helps to pull us through. Simply put: we need each other.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Hebrews 2

Home from Uganda, tired, weary, but grateful for the privilege of serving Jesus . . .

Hebrews 2

The author continues his discussion of the preeminence of Jesus over all by showing that God is putting all things under his feet (8). He interprets Psalm 8 (you have made them for a little while lower than the angels) (6-8) to mean that Jesus was made a little lower than the angels during his time of obedience in the incarnation. Jesus Christ as a mortal is lower than the angels but Jesus the resurrected Christ is the name above all names (see Philippians 2).

This Jesus, because he lived, suffered and died is in the unique position to help those of us who are still engaged in the struggle. Verse 18 "Because he himself was tested by what he suffered, he is able to hep those who are being tested." This is a theme that will be repeated throughout the book. That God with skin on, Jesus of Nazareth, can uniquely help us on our journey and through our suffering.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Introduction to Hebrews & Hebrews 1

Introdcution to Hebrews

We leave Uganda early this morning and arrive back in the USA late afternoon.

Hebrews The authorship of Hebrews remains a mystery. Some early church leaders attributed this letter to Paul but the language, style, and themes are not reflected in any of Paul’s other works. Hebrews itself is anonymous. It was written in excellent Greek and the author had an intimate understanding of the Old Testament scriptures. Hebrews is not a “letter” in the same way as Paul’s epistles are. Hebrews is probably better understood as a theological paper or even an extended sermon. Many scholars date this document in the late AD 60’s (before the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple in AD 70) because that event would require mentioning in this document that speaks so much of the priests and their sacrificial work in the Temple. There are others that suggest a date later in the 1st Century because the struggle between the Jewish Christians and the non- Christian Jews is presented in such sharp contrast – a condition that existed only after the fall of Jerusalem and destruction of the temple in AD 70. Hebrews’ main theme is that Christ is the great high priest, the mediator of the new covenant who offers the one truly effective sacrifice for the sins of the world. Key Learning: Jesus is the ultimate and final blood sacrifice that takes away the sin of the world. No other blood sacrifice is needed or necessary.

Hebrews 1

The author is writing this letter to show the preeminence of Jesus. In chapter one, we learn that Jesus is the reflection of God’s glory, the exact imprint of God’s very being, he sustains everything (3). He is more important than the angels and, in fact, the angels worship him. Chapter one exists solely for the purpose of showing that Jesus the Son of God, is Superior to Angels.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

1 John 5

We are in Kampala for a team day and time with the Nexus team before departure

The key to the entire letter is verse 11: “And this is the testimony: God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.” Eternal life is not best described as living forever. Living forever may or may not be a good thing. The Eternal life that Jesus promised (whosoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life) is a life lived in relationship with Jesus. I am often astounded by people who say “I want to go to heaven but don’t want to deal with all that ‘religious’ stuff.” Eternal life, life in eternity – life in the Kingdom of the Heavens – is a life lived in complete fulfillment of the purpose of our creation – that is we will live forever in a love relationship with our creator. That is eternal life.

C.S. Lewis once wrote that heaven has no rewards for a mercenary soul. If we are only choosing to follow Jesus for what we might be able to get out of it (peace of mind, eternal rewards, etc.), we will never know the joy and peace of life as a Christ follower. “Little children, keep yourselves from idols (5:21).”

1 John 4

We are in Kampala today – and doing whatever else needs to be done

The essence of Christianity is the person of Jesus. Core (mere? Essential? Orthodox?) Christianity has at its heart the birth and life of Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus came in the flesh. Core Christianity teaches that Jesus died on the cross and after three days was resurrected from death (restored to life). Denying any of these things leaves Christianity as it has been handed down to us from the first century forward. This is why John says “every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God” and every spirit that denies this is not from God.

One of the more quoted and usually misunderstood passages follows in 4:7-12. John says “God is love”. What he does not say is “love is God.” Nor does he say that love is a particular feeling or emotion. The Bible is consistent in its Greek that God is Agape’. That is God’s nature is manifested in a love that gives. If we love we live in that life of giving. God’s love is shown in that he “gave his only begotten son (John 3:16).”

Notice, also, that it is not “we love God” that matters. What matters is that God loves us. Our primary purpose on this planet is not that we would love God (although that is important). Our primary purpose on this planet is that we would be the object of God’s love. God is love and that love gives. Notice, however, that is not just a vertical relationship – 4:20 – “those who say “I love god” and hate their brothers or sisters are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God who they have not seen.” It is always lived out in community.

Friday, October 12, 2012

1 John 3

We are in Kayini – medical clinic and teaching day

“And this is his commandment that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us (3:23).” A recurring theme in the New Testament is the idea that what we believe is less important than what we actually do. Or, more clearly put, what we do reveals what we truly believe. Jesus says to be doers of the word and not hears only; James says faith (empty belief) without works is dead; Paul speaks about “faith working through love.” The key is that it is not enough to just say words or just confess we accede to a particular thought or idea or theology. The proof of the pudding is in the eating and the proof of the Christ follower is seen in the actual choices and decisions of our lives. In 1 John this idea is expressed in what happens when we say we believe. If we believe we “love one another.” What we say is lived out in community and in making a difference in the world.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

1 John 2

We are in Luzinga today – medical clinic and resource distribution

There is only one place in the Gospels where Jesus uses the phrase “I give you a new commandment.” He gives a new commandment just once and that passage is John 13:34-35. Jesus says to his followers at the Last Supper just after the foot washing: “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, that you have love for one another.” Jesus came to establish a radical kingdom community. This would be a community that was to transcend all barriers of economy, race, age, gender, status or whatever. It would be a Community that would love one another and by this love be a shining beacon of hope to a loveless and lost world.

In 1 John 2 John writes that if we say we love God but hate our brother or sister – we don’t get it, clearly we don’t get it. In 1 John 2:15 and following it is important to notice what constitutes “love of the world”. He writes: “the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, and the pride in riches does not come from the Father . . .” This aspect of the world may be better called “worldliness.” In the Gospel of John, Jesus tells his followers to be “in” the world but not “of” the world. I think this is the same point that is made here – we are not to hate the people of the world just to avoid the worldliness. The idols of our age – money, sex, power, self – are controlling and the driving force behind worldliness.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

1 John Introduction and 1 John 1

1 John Introduction

We are in Kikyusa – and to visit our friends at Kirimandagi – teaching and graduate meeting

1 John was written late in the 1st Century (about the same time as the Gospel of John) and is likely from the same hand as that Gospel and 2nd and 3rd John. Most scholars believe that John, the son of Zebedee and brother of James, was the author. 1 John is not a letter but a tract and may have been written as an introduction or a companion of the Gospel according to John. Written from Ephesus (where John, the brother of James, served out his Apostleship,) its primary purpose was to refute an early opponent of Christianity called Gnosticism. Gnosticism was a system of thinking that saw matter as evil and spirit as good. Because of this dualistic understanding, Gnostics believed that Jesus Christ could not have come in the flesh (because flesh is matter and therefore evil.) Because Gnostics denied Jesus’ humanity, they taught that he only “appeared” human and that he was a divine manifestation. Gnostics also believed a special knowledge (gnosis in Greek means knowledge) was needed to attain salvation.

Love of God cannot be divorced from love for each other. Just as Jesus lists the two greatest commandments (love God and love your neighbor) so John teaches “if we say we love God yet hate a brother or sister, we are liars.” (1 John 4:20)

1 John 1
1 John 1:1-4 is a parallel to the prologue to the Gospel of John. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We have beheld his glory. (John 1:14). The essential message of 1 John, the message that gets repeated in various ways and styles is very simple: God is light and there is darkness in him. Therefore if we are walking in darkness we don’t get it. The evidence that we children of the light is that we have fellowship with one another – notice that the evidence of belonging to God (being in the light) is a community awareness. We cannot deny that we are sinners – everyone is broken. The difference between the believer and the non believer is this “if we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1:9).”

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Titus 3

We are in Gayaza – medical clinic and graduate meeting.

Paul goes on to say: be good citizens be ready to do every good work – speak evil of no one and avoid quarreling. My favorite: show every courtesy to everyone (3:1-2). I wonder if negative spewing and loud mouth Christians ever read this passage. We have lost our sense of courtesy. We have lost our sense of respect. As Christians we must be the first to “give all due respect” especially the ones we disagree with. I have always appreciated C.S. Lewis comment that not everything of everyone else’s religion is wrong. Some are much closer to the truth than others and there is something valuable to be learned from all of them. If we approached each and every dialogue and discussion (in the public as well as the private realm) by extending respect and courtesy – ours would be a much nicer world.
Once again Paul reminds them to not get hung up on endless quarrels and stupid controversies. How easy it is for us to fight to be right even if we are “dead” right. If the debate destroys relationships the debate was wrong – no matter how right or true we think we are – it would be better to walk away. Once again (12 – 15) Paul concludes with greetings to and from those he is traveling with to those he is writing to.

Titus 2

Titus 2

We are in Gomba today – medical clinic and resource distribution

Titus is told to teach sound doctrine and then is given examples for the various groups of people in the church: the older men – be temperate, serious, prudent and sound in faith, love and endurance; to the older women – reverent, no slanderous or slaves to drink; to the younger men – self controlled and models of integrity; etc. Paul believed that the time of Christ’s return was getting close and they should be ready – sober and sober minded and fully alert.
He uses the expression “blessed hope” in verse 13 – the blessed hope is the return of Jesus and the end of the age. In every Communion celebration we proclaim the mystery of faith: Christ has died (we get the crucifixion); Christ is Risen (yes, we also get the resurrection); Christ will come again – this is the blessed hope of all Christians.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Titus Introduction

Today we travel to Nakasongola – medical clinic and pastors leading Nexus class – small group discussion

Titus was another trusted friend and companion of Paul. Born of Gentile parents, he accompanied Paul to the Jerusalem council (Acts 15) and played a significant role in the collection Paul was taking for the poor in Jerusalem. When Paul wrote this letter, Titus had been left on the Island of Crete to further the Christian cause. Crete was one of the first places to hear the Christian gospel. There were people from Crete in the crowd on Pentecost. This letter was probably written late in Paul’s life. The letter is concerned with pastoral matters of discipline in the church. Key learning: Titus gives behavioral standards for those seeking leadership in the Church. These standards serve as a reminder that those who are trusted with leadership in the Church will be held accountable to a higher standard than the rest of the body.

Titus 1

Today we are holding a medical clinic in Nakasongola and holding a information meeting on Nexus

Paul is writing to Titus who is on the Island of Crete. Crete’s reputation was somewhat checkered in the first century (as is evidenced by the quote in verse 12). Paul’s routine in establishing churches is to preach, baptize, and begin the process of developing disciples. This process is ongoing. Paul would then select leaders (overseers) from the new disciples and leave them in charge of the fledgling church. In chapter 1 of Titus Paul lays down some of the characteristics of an “Elder” in the church. This word “Elder” has been used to mean Pastoral Elder as well as Bishop. There are good arguments for both cases.

Notice that the overseer is known for what he is not: He is not a lover of money; he is not rebellious; not accused of debauchery; not arrogant; not addicted to wine or greedy. This “negative” list is impressive. Notice also that he is the husband of only one wife (married only once) and whose children are believers (6). These are high expectations and qualifications for someone who will lead a church. They are not unreasonable and, even from this earliest time, we have had higher expectations of those who lead us.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

2 Timothy 4

Today we begin our work: Medical Team in Lusanja Pastor team working with Nexus students in Kikyusa

Do the work that you were called to do. Preach the message, when it is easy and when it is hard – be patient in teaching 4:1-2 BJ paraphrase). Paul realizes that the end of his journey and his ministry are coming. He refers to himself as a “libation” – a drink offering -- being poured out. How many of us will be able to say at the end of our faith journey: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished, the race, I have kept the faith! (4:7)”? All too often we find ourselves just muddling through, just getting by and just hanging on. Paul was on a great adventure . . .

One of the things I love about the letters is that occasionally there is a little glimpse of life (real life) in the first century. In 4:13 Paul asks that when Timothy comes to Paul at Ephesus he would bring the cloak that the left at Troas and some books and parchments. It seems like such mundane housekeeping details in this significant passage about life and death and the future. And, yet, the mundane housekeeping detail moves us and reminds us that this was not some prefabricated or re-polished human being from legendary lore – it was written by a real man in real time who occasionally left his stuff behind.

He concludes the letter by recounting another of his near death experiences and then some gracious words to his friends – Prisca, Aquila, the family Onesiphorus, Erastus, Trophimus, Eubulus as well as Pudens, Linus and Claudia . . . men and women who are co workers with Paul in ministry.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

2 Timothy 3

2 Timothy 3

We arrive early this morning in Kampala and the home of my friend: Rev. Davis Matovu.

The last days were to bring deep and significant trouble. I love the list of evidence of how distressing it will be in the last days. It runs from lovers of themselves (Self) lovers of money (Greed), to disobedient to parents and on through the kicker which reads: “holding to the outward form of godliness but denying its power”(5). What an amazing description of so much of modern religion. We have the religious activities, we have the religious forms, we do the things we need to do to comfort ourselves and feel good . . . but we are not living into the kingdom of the heavens. We are denying any of the power that God intends for us to live our lives.

Paul charges his young protégé with keeping and passing on what he has learned (13) after reminding him that striving to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will lead to persecution (12). Paul’s own life and his journey through hardship and difficulty for the sake of preaching the gospel is recorded elsewhere. For a modern preacher who works from the comfort of a nice building and a nice office and who is well paid and protected . . . I have no idea of the difficulties that our first generation Christians had to endure.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

2 Timothy 2

Today the Uganda team is taking a quick tour of the Pyramids in Egypt

After reminding Timothy that he should “soldier on” in his ministry and recognize that difficulties are inevitable, Paul quotes (beginning in 11) what many believe to be the text of an early Christian hymn. I have often wondered what the tune sounded like.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved (2:15) – Salvation requires no effort on our part – it is a work of God. Discipleship requires significant effort and for we who lead in the church it is often hard work. There are things we have to give up (like “wrangling over words (14)”) or “profane chatter” (16). There comes a clear choice to “turn away from wickedness (19)” and to more faithfully follow Jesus Christ. We present ourselves as one approved by what we avoid but also by how we choose to engage – with our spiritual gifts rekindled we can preach in season or out, we can be gentle and we can choose to not engage in senseless controversies.

Remember that his letter was written while Timothy was present in Ephesus. Ephesus was a hotbed of Gnosticism and the Gnostics loved nothing more than countless wrangling over words and phrases and meanings. We are to pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace (22).

Monday, October 1, 2012

2 Timothy Introduction and 2 Timothy 1

Today the Uganda team is on the road to New York and in the air to Cairo.


2 Timothy is more in the recognized style and language of Paul and has fewer scholars suggesting that someone other than Paul wrote it. It is a second letter to Paul’s longtime friend, son in the faith, and faithful companion, Timothy. Assigning a date to the letter encounters many of the same problems discussed in 1Timothy. Key Learning: 2 Timothy 3:16 – all who live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. This does not mean we should go looking for it, it means it will find those who are striving to live holy and faithful lives.

2 Timothy 1

2 Timothy 1: 1:6 – rekindle the gift of God that is within you. One of the things I have learned in over 30 years of pastoral ministry is that Christian leaders get tired and sometimes forget why they are doing what they are doing. It is kind of like the sign I saw in a construction office when I was in Seminary. It said: “when you are up to you backside in alligators it is hard to remember that the objective was to drain the swamp.” Sometimes we get so busy doing that we forget to attend to our being. The fire and gifts that God has given us for ministry must be periodically renewed and refreshed.

1:12 – I am not ashamed for I know that the one in whom I have put my trust and I am sure that he is able to guard until that day what I have entrusted to him” As a preacher of the gospel and an apostle, Paul reminds his young protégé that even when things are tough God is good and God is faithful.