A pattern

Paul wrote two letters to Timothy, a man he described as “my own son in the faith” (1 Timothy 1:2). Paul’s relationship with Timothy was like no other and the fact that he wrote two letters that were intended to be personal instruction to him showed that Paul cared a great deal about Timothy’s spiritual well-being. Paul warned Timothy about the trials and tribulations of being in the ministry and gave him the responsibility of following in his footsteps after he was imprisoned in Rome. Paul reminded Timothy that he had formerly been a blasphemer, and a persecutor, but he had obtained mercy from God because he did it in unbelief (1 Timothy 1:13). Then he said in a very straightforward manner, “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am the chief” (1 Timothy 1:15).

Paul’s attitude about God’s grace was that he could save anyone, even the worst of sinners that deserved to go to hell. Paul explained to Timothy that he had been saved for the purpose of showing others what God could do. Paul said, “However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life” (1 Timothy 1:16, NKJV). The Greek word translated pattern, hupotuposis (hoop-ot-oop’-o-sis) refers to something that is meant to be copied or imitated (G5296). What Paul was getting at was the idea that God had made him into a cast or die, a mold if you will, that others could be poured into as a means of replicating the results of his ministry. Paul wanted Timothy to understand that his life would have similar characteristics to his own if he continued in the ministry.

Paul concluded his personal exhortation by stating, “Timothy, my son, here is my word to you. Fight well for the Lord! God’s preachers told us you would. Keep a strong hold on your faith in Christ. May your heart always say you are right. Some people have not listened to what their hearts say. They have done what they knew was wrong. Because of this, their faith in Christ was wrecked” (1 Timothy 1:18-19, NLV). Paul’s instruction to “Fight well for the Lord!” was most likely referring to spiritual warfare and was reiterated in 1 Timothy 6:12 where Paul said, “Fight the good fight of faith.” The pattern that Paul was setting forth for Timothy was not only to believe God’s word, but to do what God told him to. Paul wanted Timothy to act in accordance with his calling into the ministry and not be afraid to take risks even if it meant ending up in prison like he had.

Fools for Christ

Paul’s identification of himself as an apostle of Jesus Christ in his salutation to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 1:1) was probably meant to clarify his role in preaching the gospel. Paul referred to himself as a masterbuilder (1 Corinthians 3:10), someone in a position of authority who was responsible for the success of a building project. The Greek word Paul used that is translated masterbuilder, architekton (ar-khee-tek’-tone) refers to the architect or designer of a building. Architekton is derived from the Greek words arche (ar-khay’) and tekton (tek’-tone) which together suggest that Paul was referring to himself as the initiator of a building project that would eventually be held accountable for the quality of his design. Paul said that he had “laid the foundation” (1 Corinthians 3:10) upon which others were expected to build. From a building project perspective, that meant that Paul’s work would determine the strength and longevity of the building that was erected.

As an apostle of Christ, Paul claimed to have special abilities that enabled him to do the work that God had given him, but Paul didn’t think of himself as someone special. He said, “For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men. We are fools for Christ’s sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honorable, but we are despised” (1 Corinthians 4:9-10). The Greek word translated fools is moros. The English word moron comes from the word moros and is used to describe a person with a mental age in adulthood of between 8 and 12 years old. Paul may have been using a play on words to signify the unworthiness he felt to have been chosen as Christ’s representative. The Greek word moros could be a derivative of the word muo which means to shut the mouth (G3466). One way to describe muo would be to say, no comment or I’m not allowed to talk about that. Paul may have felt that he had been entrusted with delivering a message that was so far above his pay grade that he was not even allowed to interpret the content, just repeat word for word what he had been told.

So that there wouldn’t be any misunderstanding about the prestige associated with his position, Paul described to the Corinthians his experience of preaching the gospel. He said, “Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwelling place; and labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it: being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day” (1 Corinthians 4:11-13). The harsh picture Paul painted of his life as an apostle, was probably meant to discourage anyone that might be thinking about taking his ministry away from him. It’s likely that as Paul neared the end of his life and his strength began to wane, other leaders in the church were thinking about picking up where he left off when he was gone. Paul may have been concerned about the gap that would need to be filled and intentionally identified Timothy as his successor. He stated, “For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church.

Team building

Paul’s second missionary journey, which took place approximately A.D. 49-52, encompassed a much larger territory than his first expedition did. The initial purpose of Paul’s trip was to visit the believers in every city that he and Barnabas had previously preached the gospel in (Acts 15:36), but a conflict between Paul and Barnabas caused the two to go their separate ways. Luke’s description of the incident suggests that the leadership role had become an issue, and at that point, Paul was unwilling to follow Barnabas’ direction. Luke stated, “And Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark. But Paul thought not good to take him with them, who departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work. And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus; and Paul chose Silas, and departed, being recommended by the brethren unto the grace of God.

The break up of Paul and Barnabas’ ministry partnership may have seemed like a problem at first, but it actually led to a much better outcome in the end. Because Mark was left behind, he joined up with Peter and eventually wrote the second book of the New Testament titled “The Gospel According to S. Mark.” It is likely that most, if not all of Mark’s factual data came directly from Peter who was a member of Jesus’ inner circle of friends, as well as, the primary leader of the church located in Jerusalem. Paul’s selection of Silas to travel with him may have been the reason why his second trip was much more aggressive than his first, covering approximately twice the amount of territory than his first missionary journey did (Paul’s Second Missionary Journey, p. 1588). When Paul and Silas arrived in Lystra, they were joined by Timothy, “the son of a certain woman, which was a Jewess, and believed; but his father was a Greek: which was well reported of by the brethren that were at Lystra and Iconium” (Acts:16:1-2).

The fourth person to join Paul’s missionary team was the author of the book of Acts, Luke. The transition in the language from they to we suggests that Luke joined Paul’s team in Troas. It says in Acts 16:8-10, “And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us. And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavored to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them.” Timothy and Luke were key members of Paul’s missionary team that stayed with him throughout the rest of his life. The final book Paul wrote, 2 Timothy was addressed to “my dearly beloved son” (2 Timothy 1:2) indicating Paul and Timothy developed a very close personal relationship. In that book, which was written while Paul was in prison waiting to be executed, Paul said, “Only Luke is with me” (2 Timothy 4:11), suggesting Luke was not only Paul’s partner in ministry, but a faithful companion until his death.