by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 4 Paragraph # 2 Study # 1 Lincolnton, NC July 24, 2005
6 If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained.
1901 ASV Translation:
6 If thou put the brethren in mind of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Christ Jesus, nourished in the words of the faith, and of the good doctrine which thou hast followed until now:
Textual Notes:The word order of the name "Jesus Christ" is reversed from the Textus Receptus' reading in the Nestle/Aland 26 to "Christ Jesus".
I. Paul's Movement to Timothy's Personal Responsibilities.
A. Having established the "inevitable drift" that he says the Spirit expressly declares will happen over time, Paul turns to Timothy as a fundamental instrument to minimize it.
1. There is something to learn from the fact that the Spirit declares that "drift" will occur, given the fact that this same Spirit is the One Who determines all of the issues involved in "drifting".
a. All through the Scriptures, all salvation is attributed to the work of the Spirit as He effects the will of God in the lives of individual human beings. Even Paul would not profess proficiency as an apostle apart from "the grace given to me" and the claim that his life was an outworking of the indwelling Christ (the Spirit of Christ making the life of Christ real). And Paul clearly said that his involvement in the salvation of God was as "the chief of sinners" being shown grace. This all boils down to the fact that it is only by the Spirit of God that any man overcomes the evil of "drift". Thus, if there is "drift", it is because, as Genesis 6:3 pointedly says, the Spirit of God ceases to "strive" to bring men to truth and life. This is not to say that the "drift" is the Spirit's fault (though many men perversely wish to blame God for all things that have gone wrong); but it is to say that without the Spirit's effort, "drift" is inevitable. The fault for "drift" lies in the evil hearts of men and no where else. But, the credit for "not drifting" does not lie with man as no man can overcome the law of sin in his members except by the grace of the Spirit of God.
b. Thus, one of the things we can learn from this statement by the Spirit is that it is God's plan to permit an increasing level of wickedness to develop over time until the Day of Judgment. He has His reasons, a few of which He has declared to us in His Word. It does no good of any kind for men to complain about it (complaining about God's plans is a symptom of "drift", not a manifestation of grace). It does a great deal of many kinds of good for men to accept the reality and, by the grace of God, to look into the instructions given to the people of God in the face of the fact. It is this kind of good that Paul has in mind as he gives Timothy, by the Spirit, words of instruction on how to face the fact.
2. There is a certain sense of "futility" involved in being told that the "drift" is going to happen.
a. The book of Galatians reveals how quickly the "drift" sets in when there is no "authority figure" in the picture. It is interesting that...
1) The "drift" began in spite of the presence of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the people of God. It is interesting how few are the references to the Holy Spirit in Paul's letters to Timothy and Titus. It is equally interesting how many are the references to Timothy's and Titus' ministry of the Word.
2) The "drift" set in because of false teachers in Galatia.
3) The "drift" set in because the "legitimacy" of Paul's apostleship was brought into serious question by his adversaries. In essence, this was an undercutting of the truthfulness of the words of God.
4) The particular issue involved in the "drift" in Galatia is the same as that involved in 1 Timothy 4 -- the exaltation of man by means of his "performance" of relatively meaningless activities.
b. There is, however, no sense of "despair", or of "throwing up one's hands and quitting the field".
1) The letter to the Galatians was the re-insertion of the words of God into the Galatian situation.
2) Paul obviously felt that this re-insertion would be used by the Spirit to bring a halt to the "drift" in the lives of, at least, some of the "drifters".
3. Also, however, there is a certain sense of "significance" involved in being told that it doesn't have to happen on "my" watch.
a. Paul told Timothy that he would be a "good minister" if he "put the brethren in mind", or, as the AV says, "put [them] in remembrance".
1) Interestingly, Paul chose to use a relatively rare word for the New Testament to express what he expected Timothy to do [it was not rare in the daily language of the day].
a) The word means "to subject one to something".
b) Paul clearly had in mind Timothy's preaching if 4:13 has any real meaning.
c) The point is that Paul expected Timothy to keep his "thumb in the dike" by preaching the words of God so that his hearers could not escape the regular confrontation that the word generates in the daily living of the people of God.
2) Just as interestingly, Paul told Timothy that he would be "a good deacon" of Jesus if he kept His words before His people.
a) This declaration -- that Timothy would be a "good" servant -- indicates that Paul expected that Timothy wanted to be "a good servant".
b) In the context, it is interesting that some wish to be recognized as "better" than others, while Timothy wished to be a "good" deacon of Christ Jesus. This gives us a good contrast in biblical terms. It is not a "bad" thing to wish to be "good" at something -- as long as the desire is to be such in the eyes of Jesus. It is, however, a terrible thing to wish to be "better than others" in one's own eyes, or, even, in the eyes of Jesus. At the root is the desire to be "significant". In the outgrowth is the question of where that significance is going to find its foundations: will it be in the eyes of Jesus or the eyes of men?
b. Paul's exhortation to Timothy is for him to be an "apostolic representative" in so far as he will be a "servant of the Word" -- i.e., Timothy will proclaim the apostolic Word and, by so doing, will insert the words of God into his context so that the rate of decay is reduced.