This is the New Testament letter I’ve avoided writing about.
Seriously. 1 and 2 Timothy are letters written from one leader to another. In many ways, it’s a primer on leadership and not (necessarily) considered normative Christianity.
In other words: these letters are from the “Advanced Class on Leadership for the Church”. As I have a particular fondness for that subject, I love these two letters. As I’m aware these two letters can become a judgmental, legalistic battering ram against other Christians, I’m afraid to write about them.
Yet, here we are. These two letters soundly won the last survey I ran on where we go next.
Prepare to enter the classroom of “Advanced Leadership for the Church”.
1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of
God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope,
2 To Timothy my true son in the faith:
Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
1 Timothy 1:1–2 (NIV)
In many ways, this is a typical Greek letter written in typical Greek style that would have gone unnoticed if the Holy Spirit did not inspire it and ensure its inclusion in the Bible.
Where the opening verses are unique is of interest to us.
Paul identifies his apostleship as a calling. It was by God’s sovereign command he entered into apostleship for Jesus. It wasn’t his idea and there must have been times he didn’t enjoy it too much (beatings, imprisonment, dealing with the cantankerousness of some of the congregations of the first century, etc.).
Then He identifies God as “our Savior”. In the Church world today, we’re so used to calling God our Savior, this phrase comes and goes with barely a pause. But in Paul’s time, it would have made even the most casual of reader stop and savor the words.
Referring to God as “our Savior” occurs only five times in the entire Old Testament (!) and only six times in the New Testament (!).
This is unique too: while the idea of Jesus being our hope is a concept found throughout Scripture, it’s only used like this in this way right here in verse 1.
“…God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope…”
Why does it matter?
If you’ve been reading my writing for a long time, I am honored to be part of your journey. But to the point today: you know I’m going to get to “So what?”.
When we begin applying Scripture to our lives, it’s so important not to miss the basics while trying to get to the meat.
It’s tempting to jump into these letters from Paul to Timothy and skip right over the profound theology-meets-life application of the Holy Spirit inspired introduction.
The reason we are alive and have a hope in Heaven is because God is our Savior. The reason we can breathe and get through the roller coaster of this life is because Jesus is our hope.
Our Savior and our hope.
Your Savior and your hope.
My Savior and my hope.
Say that last sentence again, aloud: “My Savior and my hope.”
A key theme is already emerging in this letter: what we believe determines how we behave.
Repeat the sentence “my Savior and my hope” several times until you truly, deeply believe it. It’ll change how you behave just like it did Paul and his young protégé Timothy.
Interested in more like this? Consider my book: 31 Days of Spiritual Wisdom: A
Month in the Proverbs. Moving through a selection of verses from a chapter of Proverbs for every day of the month, I walk readers through a journey of spiritual formation applicable to everyday life. The goal? Knowing how to apply the wisdom of Scripture so we grow in our faith, become wiser, and show the world the life-changing power of Jesus.