In the Pastoral Epistles (1 and 2 Timothy, Titus), the apostle Paul is essentially passing the torch of gospel ministry to a new generation of preachers and pastors, those being who the letters are surnamed: Timothy and Titus. Once pupils, they are now the primary doctrinal voices in the church. Such is why Paul stubbornly appeals for these young preachers to keep the faith and hold fast to “sound teaching.”
Throughout Paul’s letters to Timothy, he employs military language in order to convey the seriousness of Timothy’s call to the pastorate at Ephesus. Paul understood the significance of their mission in the fight for the truth. Now, he is passing that fight onto his young disciple. Paul has been at frontlines of ministry — these, then, are his dispatches from the front in order for Timothy to take over the campaign.
In 1 Timothy 1, after alluding to what “sound doctrine” is not, Paul moves on to expound what “sound doctrine” is. And in contrast to the fraudulent and counterfeit doctrine being proclaimed by these false teachers, “sound doctrine” is chiefly concerned with sinners. Paul knew this deeply because his life is a living testimony to the “sound doctrine” of God.
The theme of Paul’s first letter to Timothy is a resolute charge to hold fast to the truth of God in the midst of the swirling storms of falsehood. Paul’s commission is to stay firm in promoting and proclaiming the doctrine with which he entrusted the young pastor. Timothy was undoubtedly enduring severe ministerial trials as the burgeoning philosophies and theosophies of gnosticism were threatening the church. Such is why Paul aims to affirm the indefatigable truth of God’s gospel by contrasting what was being taught, the false versus the true.
In the Pastoral Epistles, the apostle Paul is passing the torch as the primary doctrinal voice for the church to a new generation of pastors and preachers in both Timothy and Titus. Paul anticipates the frailty of his life and senses the winds of change that are coming for the nascent churches with which he spent his life laboring for the sake of the gospel. A new phase of pastoral ministry is looming: a defense of the faith. That which was fresh and new and took the churches by storm in the first wave of apostolic preaching has given way to discontent and falsehood. Such is why Paul is adamant in his resolve to Timothy and Titus to keep the faith and hold fast to sound doctrine.
In the heart of man resides a hatred towards God. This is mostly due, I think, because of the grave misconception regarding God that portrays him a grumpy old man out to get them. Most think that God is merely a lion on the prowl, ready to pounce on you when you mess up. That he’s only concerned with hemming you in and keeping you line. He doesn’t really care about your happiness, so long as you act appropriately. But that is not the God of the Bible. the Bible tells us of “the glorious gospel of the happy God.”
In 1741, one of the most famous sermons in American history was published, that being Jonathan Edwards’s sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” For better or for worse, though, this sermon remains one of the most famous and widely recognized sermons of all time. Most of the time, though, it is misremembered and misunderstood. The only colloquial knowledge many have is the title and the fact that God is angry with us. It begs the question, then, is that really who God is?
We all have different relationships with our fathers. Some hate their fathers; others have fathers they adore. Some are absent; others are lovingly present. There’s beauty and brokenness in every home, especially when it comes to dads. Unfortunately, we’ve ascribed much of our own interactions and feelings and emotions we have for our dads to our Heavenly Father. But God is a much better, truer father.
The colloquial understanding of God is most often a caricature of who he really is. The “man upstairs” is seen as a vindictive old man with a long white beard who’s waiting with bated breath for you to mess up so he can punish you. There’s a vernacular sense that God is angry with us. But, as Scripture makes very clear, nothing could be further from the truth.