Monday, October 04, 2010

The New Testament in a Year: 1 Timothy 6 and 2 Timothy 1-4

For my own personal study, I am using a combination of tools. These include listening to an audio version of the Bible (TNIV) and a series of commentaries in addition to the text itself. I recognize that not everyone will have access to these materials. I can at least provide a link to the Biblical text itself. For this purpose, I've found that is a very useful tool. Not only does it include the TNIV, which enables me to link to the same text as what I'm listening to with the audio version, but one can easily switch to another translation (if one so desires) simply by using the drop-down menus. I hope that this is helpful.

This week, I am working through 1 Timothy, chapter 6 and 2 Timothy, chapters 1-4.

Chapter 6

  • Verse 2 - The footnote suggests that the phrase translated here as "devoted to the welfare of their slaves" might be translated "benefit from the service of their slaves.'  This is a rather significant difference of opinion.  Hanson notes the difficulty of interpreting this verse, and suggests a possible third option, whereby Paul (see last week for a brief discussion of the authorship question) is intending to suggest that believing masters "share with slaves in Christian service."1 
  • Verses 3-5 - Sadly, I expect that both conservatives and liberals probably see this passage as some kind of a "slam dunk" to be used against the other side....
  • Verse 8 - Although clearly in the context of encouraging Christians not to be greedy, I"m glad to note that a legitimate set of needs is mentioned.  Not all can assume that food and clothing are sufficiently available.
2 Timothy
Chapter 1
  • Verse 5 - Complementarians and Egalitarians alike agree that Paul sees a valuable ministry available to women.  The disagreement is how far such ministry may extend. 
  • Verse 15 - Hanson suggests that Paul is not trying to suggest that all the Christians in Asia had abandoned the faith (and thus, Paul), but rather that, when Paul was arrested to be taken to Rome, Paul was deserted by his Christian friends at that time.2
Chapter 2
  • Verses 1-7 - Hanson suggests that Paul is here trying to say that full-time church workers should be content with the pay they are given by the church, and thus should not seek to supplement that income by some other profession.3  This would be in contrast to what Paul wrote in, say, 1 Corinthians 9, where although he asserts his right to be paid by the church, Paul does not accept such payment, and indeed he makes his living as a tent-maker.  But in both passages, the right of church workers to be paid seems to be asserted.
  • Verses 23-26 - While I affirm the need to use instruction and correction as the need arises, it seems that the ability to do so "gently" is a tremendously difficult task.
Chapter 3
  • Verse 8 - Don't bother doing a word search to figure out where the Bible elsewhere mentions Jannes and Jambres.  You won't find them.  They come from Jewish tradition, and are supposed to be the names of the magicians Pharaoh used in Exodus 8:18-19 to produce gnats such as God had plagued Egypt with.4  (I always wondered why the magicians tried to duplicate the plagues.  Wouldn't that just make things worse?  Surely it would have been better to reverse the effects of the plagues!)
Chapter 4
  • Verse 16: "May it not be held against them" - This comes on the tail end of a litany of comments about various people who had abandoned and/or harmed Paul (with a peppering of the few faithful exceptions).  In that litany and elsewhere in this letter, Paul seems unafraid to call down God's condemnation against those who oppose the faith.  Yet, here, he strikes a very conciliatory tone.  The contrast is striking. 
  • Verses 9, 21 - Paul makes a couple of requests for Timothy to visit, and to do so soon.  It is hard to escape the conclusion that Paul does so because he feels that he will die soon.  It should be noted that in this era where mail had to be hand-delivered, and that a response itself could only come with long-distance travel, it is hard to imagine just how quickly Timothy could possibly respond.  Even so, we have what we have.

1A. T. Hanson, The Pastoral Epistles (The New Century Bible Commentary), Eerdmans, 1982, p. 105. (emphasis mine)
2Hanson, p. 126.
3Hanson, p. 129.
4See Hanson, p. 147.

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