To Timothy, my true child in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
I. THE APOSTLE'S AUTHORITY. "Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ according to the commandment of God our Savior, and Christ Jesus, who is our Hope." The apostleship was his, not merely because he was called to it (Romans 1:1), or destined to it by the will of God (1 Corinthians 1:1), but according to express Divine commandment.
1. It was the commandment of God our Savior, evidently in allusion to the command of the Spirit at Antioch, "Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have appointed them" (Acts 13:2), but more distinctly to his earlier call (Acts 26:16), as "a vessel of election" (Acts 9:15), to preach the Gospel to Jews and Gentiles. As the things of the Father are the Son's, so the things of the Son are the Spirit's. Thus God - Father, Son, and Holy Ghost - gave him his original appointment. Thus the salvation would be seen to be of God's purpose and agency; for he is "God our Savior."
2. It was also the commandment of Christ Jesus, our Hope. Therefore his ordinary title is "an apostle of Jesus Christ." The aged apostle, in the near prospect of death, dwells on the thought of Christ as his one blessed hope. He is our Hope:
(1) as its Author;
(2) as its Object;
(3) as its Revealer;
(4) as its Procurer;
(5) but, above all, as its Substance and Foundation.
He is our very "Hope of glory" (Colossians 1:27).
II. THE APOSTLE'S GREETING. "To Timothy, my true child in the faith."
1. His early life. Timothy was a native of Lycaonia in Asia Minor, probably of Lystra, one of its towns. His father was a pagan, his mother a pious Jewess, named Eunice, who trained him early in the principles of true religion. It is an interesting fact that the apostle's more intimate companions were Gentiles, or with Gentile blood in their veins - Timothy, Titus, Luke, and even Demas.
2. His relationship to the Apostle Paul.
(1) He was converted by the apostle.
(2) He was associated with the apostle during a longer range of time than any other disciple.
(3) He was an interesting disciple of the Lord.
(a) There was great personal affection between Timothy and Paul.
(b) There was "no one like minded" with Timothy who could be brought to take care of individual Churches.
(c) Timothy was a constant organ of personal communication between the apostle and individual Churches.
(d) He seems to have been of a soft and, perhaps, timid temperament.
(e) He was very abstemious in his habits (1 Timothy 5:23).
3. The salutation. "Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord."
(1) The blessings invoked upon Timothy.
(a) Grace - a fresh discovery of Divine favor, an increase of grace, a fuller enjoyment of the gifts of the Spirit.
(b) Mercy - a fresh application of the pardoning mercy of God in Christ. It occurs only here and in the Second Epistle to Timothy suggested, perhaps, by the nearness of his own death, and the increasing difficulties of his last days; for he hopes that Timothy may share in the mercy he has sought for himself.
(c) Peace - peace of conscience through the blood of Christ, so necessary "to keep heart and mind" in the midst of the perturbations and distractions of his service at Ephesus.
(2) The Source of these blessings. They spring alike from the Father and the Son - a proof of the coequal Godhead of the Son; for they are strictly Divine gifts. - T. C.
Unto Timothy, my own son in the faith.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
I. TIMOTHY'S CONVERSION. He had been prayerfully taught in the Jewish faith by his mother and grandmother, and was therefore, with them, prepared to receive the gospel.
II. TIMOTHY'S SETTING APART FOR SPECIAL WORK did not take place until seven years after this. God does not call us to high service until we have proved our fidelity in what is lower.
III. Now and then we get a glimpse at TIMOTHY'S HAPPY COMPANIONSHIP with Paul, which was never afterwards broken for any length of time, and which was the more remarkable because of the difference between the ages of the two men. But it is good for the aged to keep the heart young by their association with youth; and it is even better for those who are in the spring-time of their life to yield reverence and love, and considerate kindness, to those who are older and more experienced than themselves; indeed it is an ill sign when there is resentment of home authority, repudiation of responsibility to the aged, and a wish to have only the companionship of those who live for the pleasures of this life. Conclusion: Those of us who, like Timothy, are teachers of others, may learn from the reception of this letter that we need continuous instruction in order to accomplish our ministry. It is not enough that we should begin our work with memories stored with truths, and with hearts consecrated to the Master's service.
(A. Rowland, LL. B.)
(Phillips Brooks, D. D.)
(A. Plummer, D. D.)
Grace, mercy, and peace
I. There is, then, first of all, THE GRACE THAT ORIGINATES. Grace is the Alpha of all salvation. It is grace in the eternal counsel, grace in the Divine election, grace in the heavenly calling, grace in the individual conversion, grace in every gift of the Holy Ghost, grace in the conviction of sin that realizes its danger, in the godly repentance that mourns over it. It is grace that transplants the flower from the wilderness into the garden of the Lord, waters it with the clews of heaven, and makes it bud and bloom, and so shed its sweetness all around, that even in decay and death its scent survives imperishable. It is grace that gives the lowly man his humility, the loving man his kindly affections, the benevolent man his charity, the zealous man his ardour, the young Christian his spiritual strength, the old Christian his experience, the suffering Christian his patience, and the dying Christian his support. Thus the first practical inquiry, that enables us to ascertain our own state before God, is, Have we realized the truth, not as a mere point in theology, but as a point in personal feeling, that "in me, that is, in my flesh," in my natural character or capacity, "dwelleth no good thing" that without Christ we are nothing, can do nothing?
II. There is, secondly, THE MERCY THAT DEVELOPES THE COUNSEL OF REDEMPTION. As grace is something that is given as a gratuity, that is neither merited, nor purchased, nor obtainable by other means, nor deserved, nor even desired, so mercy involves an absolute demerit — not merely a negation, but a disqualifying clause. Grace might be applicable to an order of beings to which mercy was not applicable. I say, mercy involves an absolute demerit. A judgment incurred, but respited — a forbearing stroke, where the blow was not only merited but provoked and challenged! Hence it is described by the terms, "the longsuffering of God," "the forbearance of God." And yet the word mercy still implies a victim. If no penalty of an earthly law, for instance, were ever inflicted upon any man, as was the case with some of our own laws till of late years, the suspension of such a law would be no mercy to any man, it would be practically disannulled, and the idea of mercy under such a statute would merge into repeal. It is when some men actually suffer the penalty from which others are exempted by the interposition of the sovereign, that the mercy is said to be shown to those who are exempted. When a criminal sees another man suffering the death to which his guilt had condemned himself, he understands then the royal prerogative of mercy. It is so with the sinner. Mercy is the great development of the love of God. It is not the exercise of a Divine attribute, which, like His power or wisdom, cost the Father nothing. "God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that all who believe in Him should not perish." This was the Father's sacrifice, of which Abraham's was the figure, just as Isaac's self-submission was a type of the Son's. An act of mercy costs earthly princes nothing beyond the word pardon; ii cost the King of kings the immolation of His Son, "whom He had appointed Heir of all things." Who is to wonder, then, at the magnificent things Which are said in Scripture about the mercy of God? Mercy gave birth to the "Man of sorrows"; mercy clothed the Heir of heaven in coarse Galilean raiment, as a poor man among the poor; mercy made Him toil, and hunger, and thirst, and travail, and suffer, and die; mercy rose with Him from the grave; mercy speaks by Him from the seat of intercession, and promises to come again in glory, to gather His elect, and to establish His kingdom. Mercy is the main element, the uniform ingredient, in every act of grace, It was mercy that fixed our own native lot in a land of light, and Christian ordinances, and social privileges, instead of among howling savages, with minds as dark and bare as their disfigured bodies; it was mercy that provided some of us with the goodly heritage of pious parents, however little we may have profited by their example and prayers; it was mercy, if our hearts were reached at last, if we turned to "flee from the wrath to come, and to lay hold upon eternal life." It is mercy still, O Lord, that we are living this day to praise Thee, that health, reason, strength, apprehension, and multiplied opportunities, and means of grace, and channels of good works by which we shall glorify Thee, and benefit ourselves and others, are yet spared to us. It is mercy, in short, that meets us in the hour of sorrow, and whispers consolation. Hence the next practical test of our condition in the sight of God is — Have we felt our need of mercy? Have we realized our lost, wretched, forlorn condition without a Mediator?
III. Thus mercy, joining hands with grace, like the outstretched wings of the cherubim that met over the ark, crown and complete God's covenant with His people; and finally THEY PUBLISH "PEACE" — PEACE BETWEEN THEM. This was our closing proposition. The seal and consummation of the plan of redemption is peace. Have you remarked, that the angels singing from heaven called it "peace on earth"? that is, peace here, peace now; not simply that poetical peace in the grave, of which some men sing, or the peace in heaven to which the believer aspires, but something that he has in his heart at once; and that is called by the angels "peace on earth" — peace at once, peace with all men, peace with ourselves. "Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright; the end of that man is peace." The external incidents of life no longer break the calm of the full assurance of faith, or hope, or understanding, in the life of the believer; but "when a man's ways please the Lord, He maketh his enemies to be at peace with him." "The God of peace beats down Satan under your feet shortly." The Son of peace is an abiding and delightful guest in your dwellings; your vision of peace is not like Jerusalem's, hidden from your eyes, but fixes a distinct, lofty, lovely impression upon your minds — like an horizon that seems to fence in and shield us with the clouds of heaven, yet opens heaven itself to the far-seeing gaze of faith. The world in its own way is seeking for this peace; amid all its pleasures and cunning variations of pleasure and amusement it is seeking, over the wreck of every present enjoyment, the peace which it hopes to find in the future. It is seeking it where the poor disconsolate Elisha sought his master — in the wilderness, instead of looking up to heaven where he was gone. And hence the search is vain; men do not find it.
(J. B. Owen, M. A.)— The salutation which Paul gives to his own son in the faith is an exquisite example of what a Christian greeting should be. It is no idle compliment, but an earnest prayer.
I. THE MANIFESTATION OF DIVINE LOVE desired on Timothy's behalf is threefold, consisting of "grace, mercy, and peace," for the sympathetic mind of Paul analyzed and displayed it, much as a prism will catch a ray of sunshine, and reveal more clearly the wonderful beauty that is latent in it.
1. Grace is the free favour of God, pouring itself forth upon the soul which is yearning for it, and filling it with gladness and praise. So that a prayer for God's "grace" to be with us is really a prayer that our sins and doubts may be dispersed; for as with nature's sunlight, it is not any alteration in the sun, but a change in the earth's atmosphere, or in the earth's attitude towards the sun, that brings brightness in the place of gloom, daylight in the stead of darkness.
2. The association of the idea of mercy with grace is striking, and is peculiar to these Epistles to Timothy and to the Second Epistle of John. But it was characteristic of Paul, who was profoundly conscious of his own need of "mercy," to pray for it on behalf of his comrade, who was engaged in similar work. It is not to the erring Galatians nor to the backsliding Corinthians, but to this honoured servant of the Christian Church, that he prays for God's "mercy" to be evermore extended; for from his own experience he knew how much that mercy is needed by those who are sensible that their character comes far short of their ideal, and that their work for Christ is marred by their faults and follies. We may occupy the highest position in the Church, yet instead of being thereby exalted above the need of mercy, we must the more humbly cast ourselves upon it. Nothing but the realization of the Divine forbearance will embolden us to continue in spiritual service, which is awful in its responsibilities, and likely to be ill done by us through our sinfulness and ignorance. The noblest saint falls back in life and death on Divine mercy as his one and only hope.
3. Peace flows from the "grace" and "mercy" of God. It is a sense of reconciliation with Him — of rest in Him, which will give calmness in hours of trouble and peril, and will spread a sacred and happy influence over those around us. As good Bishop Patrick says, "Peace is the proper result of the Christian temper. It is the great kindness which our religion doth us, that it brings us to a settledness of mind and a consistency within ourselves."
II. THE SOURCE OF THESE BLESSINGS is pointed out in the assurance that they flow from "God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord."
1. If God is our Father we may surely expect such blessings, for they are just what in our lower sphere we fathers (whose fatherhood is but a broken reflection of His) would gladly give our children. We are not happy unless they are living in our "favour"; we are eager to show them "mercy" directly and whenever they come to us in penitential grief; and if there is one blessing we desire for them above others, it is that their minds may be at "peace."
2. But grace, mercy, and peace, can only come to us through Jesus Christ our Lord, because we are undeserving and sinful.
(A. Rowland, LL. B.)
(A. E. Stuart.)
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