by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 1 Paragraph # 4 Study # 1 Lincolnton, NC May 23, 2004
18 This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare;
1901 ASV Translation:
18 This charge I commit unto thee, my child Timothy, according to the prophecies which led the way to thee, that by them thou mayest war the good warfare;
There are no textual variations between the Textus Receptus and the Nestle/Aland 26.
I. Paul "charges" Timothy as a "child" to be a "warrior" to "fight" the good fight "by means of" the prophecies which had "come upon him ahead of time".
A. This opens a nice can of worms: how is Timothy to "wage war according to prophecies" unless they are sure; and how can they be sure if Paul has to "charge" him to wage war? What if he drops the ball?
B. The issues that are involved are many...
1. What is the relationship of prophecy to human choice?
2. What impact does knowing the prophecies have on human choices?
3. What is the relationship between exhortation to someone and prophecies relating to that one's choices?
II. The word translated "went before" or "led the way" is used in two ways in the New Testament. On the one hand, it means to "go before" either in time or space, or both, and it also means to "come forth" as from one geographical location to another.
A. Paul, writing about 'prophecies', is not talking about someone being moved from one place to another. He is writing about certain utterances about Timothy that precede his own activities.
1. These prophecies were never written down for our knowledge.
2. Therefore, we do not know how 'general' or 'specific' they were.
3. We only know that they were 'specific enough' to give Timothy some basis for faithfulness in the fight.
4. But, the fact that Paul felt constrained to 'charge' him to carry the fight forward indicates that they were 'generic' enough to allow for a significant amount of latitude in Timothy's own actions. Paul urged him to become a 'vessel unto honor in the Great House'...which urging seems to imply a rather significant amount of latitude in the 'prophecies'.
a. There is a parallel to be noted in Jesus' own declaration to His disciples that they would 'sit upon 12 thrones, judging the House of Israel, in the regeneration' -- a prophecy made while Judas was of the 'Twelve' -- while at the same time insisting that they "get it into their heads" that position in the Kingdom is a matter of servanthood development. This creates a 'dance' between the realities of human faith-development and attitude-failure and the 'settled' issues of Kingdom placement.
b. Part of this dance is the tension that often develops in human minds regarding 'prophecy' in respect to the 'defeatist' attitude that 'if it is already set by divine intention, there is no need for my participation' and the faithful attitude that 'since victory is assured, let us go forward with enthusiastic confidence'. The defeatist attitude springs from the depravity of the human spirit's demand to be credited with having achieved something that would not have happened "without my input" -- defeatists who want to be 'recognized' are often de-motivated by the concepts of God's sovereign control. On the other hand, the servant's faithful attitude is that we have a task given to us, so let's be about the business of faithfulness in pursuing it by God's grace.
B. That the progress of the truth in this world is going to be a "fight" is obvious from Paul's language. This eliminates any attitude of laissez-faire in respect to the ministry and in respect to life in this world. Warfare is typically cast in terms of two fundamentals: the issue of Who/What is going to be the dominating Control in the world; and who is going to get killed and who is going to survive.