Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God according to the promise of the life that is in Christ Jesus,
To Timothy, my beloved child:
Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy.
Apart from the words beings inspired by God Himself, the letters written by Paul to Timothy can be appreciated further if we’re able to step into the relationship that they had. We can see it in part by looking at the letters themselves. Paul, in his first letter, opens with the statement, “To Timothy, my true child in faith.” In this second letter he addresses Timothy as, “My beloved child.” In Paul’s letter to the Philippians, he writes:
I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be cheered by news of you. For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. But you know Timothy’s proven worth, how as a son with a father he has served with me in the gospel.
Paul was a man of men. I’ve raved about him and his significance as a personal role model in past blog entries, pointing to scriptural accounts of his life which was radically transformed by the Gospel. He’s been beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, lashed, caned, bit by poisonous snakes, and all the while suffering from an unknown chronic pain. And this is on top of his radical devotion to God and the Mission of advancing the gospel which he would pursue at absolutely any cost, including his life. (Philippians 1:19-21) Paul was not a mere salesman or peddler of a product, he was a sold out die hard example of Jesus’ call to a revolutionary lifestyle.
But this is not to take away glory from God, whom Paul’s strength, courage, boldness and dedication admittedly came directly from. Paul attested to the fact that he is the chief of sinners, useless in his flesh, but empowered by Christ, his death and the Holy Spirit from God. In fact, Paul would go on to say that God is seen as that much more awesome in showing patience with a person such as himself. (1 Timothy 1:16)
I say all this to frame the idea of Paul, a model of Godly manhood, having a protege. But this is more than just having Muhammad Ali as your boxing coach, or Lance Armstrong as your biking coach, because Paul is so deeply invested into Timothy on an intimate level.
As I spend the next couple of blog posts going through 2 Timothy, we need to remember that these letters aren’t written to Paul’s employees. They’re not memos being faxed over to a random peon under Paul’s authority. They are letters of great intimacy with the heart felt wisdom of a father being given to a son.
For those of us who lack a Spiritual father or someone who carries scars from years of running this race and is lovingly invested into our faith, stepping into the position of Timothy and having Paul’s words be read to us can be extremely encouraging and challenging. As any good mentor does, Paul will lift us up and kick our butts.