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.
From the outset of Mark’s Gospel, we are told Jesus’s true identity. He is the “beloved Son” of God. The entire Gospel, in fact, is bookended with affirmative declarations of his deity (Mark 1:1, 11; 15:37–39), as if the evangelist is saying, “This is who he is, and this is what he did, this is what he has done.” Such is what forms the basis and ground of all Christian hope. The fact of the gospel as a record of human history is what steadies and stabilizes our faith. It is the incontrovertible good news that the God’s own Son has come to bring everything to completion as the Divine Solution, as the True and Better One.
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.
Mark’s Gospel is the simplest and shortest of the canonical Gospels by a fairly wide margin. John Mark seldom inserts editorial comments that might further explain the narrative and, to a large degree, foregoes the inclusion of Jesus’s discourses which are so common in the other Synoptics. This makes for a short, quick, hard-hitting Gospel of action. The evangelist seems to have recorded Jesus’s movements rather than his words, no doubt deliberately, as he strove to show Jesus as the unexpected Messiah who came to serve — as the unlikely King who came to die.
In chapter 4 of Daniel’s prophecy, a Babylonian king is transformed into a “beast of the field.” Pride has been doing the same thing ever since. Such is what happens when we attempt to usurp God’s rightful place as King of our lives — when we think we can be “like God.” To give into pride is the Serpent’s great ruse. (Gen. 3:5) It’s to believe the lie that we are sufficient, we are sovereign, we are superior, so much so that we can fabricate our own goodness and chase our own glory without consequence. Pride is “the beast of the field” that lurks in all our hearts.
St. Paul loved the Philippian Church. He affectionately calls them his “joy and crown” in the opening verses of chapter 4 and refers to them as his “dearly beloved” twice in the first verse alone. (Phil. 4:1) Paul was desirous and determined that this church would not succumb to the trivial disputes and divisions which might have so easily plagued it had they lost their way, their focus. Such is why the apostle spends nearly the entire letter emphasizing unity, “like-mindedness,” and having the “same mind.” And so it is that we are made to recognize the primary ingredient of the church: unity in Christ.
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.”
It is an encouraging and emboldening truth to know that God uses the weak and insignificant people of this world to expand his kingdom. God has uniquely chosen the foolish to shame the wise in this mission to exalt his name. Such is what Paul says to the Corinthians in his first letter to them. It is God’s prerogative to assign the great mandate of the Great Commission to frail, feeble creatures like us. 3rd John speaks to this point excellently, showing both God’s gracious choice of us and our function as his children.
How would you answer the question, “What is the Bible about?” What is its point? Its message? Its overarching story? There are over 30,000 verses and 66 books in the canonical Scriptures, but what are they all saying? Churchgoers ought to know what their Bible says. It only makes sense if the system of belief that defines your entire life is derived from a book that you know what that book says. Such is modern Christianity’s biggest problem: the utter lack of biblical understanding.
There are several portions of the Bible, for one reason or another, that stand out from among the rest. These passages are usually ones we would call “pillars of the faith.” Such is what the first ten verses are of Ephesians 2, in which the apostle Paul relays a gloriously grandiose picture of God’s colossal gospel.