by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 4 Paragraph # 2 Study # 2 Lincolnton, NC July 31, 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.
B. The fundamental issue for Timothy as "an instrument to hinder the drift" is his being one who makes sure the "brethren" cannot escape the realities that Paul has set before Timothy. [See notes of 07/24/05(062)].
C. But, existing beneath the public ministry that will oppose the drift, there is the personal spiritual health of the individual himself...
1. Paul writes of Timothy being "nourished".
a. The word he used has various shades of meaning, but they all focus upon the benefit extended to one entity by another. The concept is of Timothy receiving significant beneficial input for his task.
b. The attached phrase "by the words of the faith", being a statement about the identity of the "means of the benefit", is enormously significant as a declaration of the exclusive domain of the word of God as "that which can bring benefit to one".
1) The chosen term, "logos", for the words of God is instructive in that such words are, generally, rather extended "messages" that require, and depend upon, a host of individual statements to establish the content and meaning of the "logos".
a) This is important in that error often springs from a misguided (either deliberate, or through self-deception) conclusion from some "individual word" of God. Satan attempted to mislead Jesus in the wilderness by a quote from the words of God to which a subtle twist of meaning had been attached.
b) True growth by means of the messages of God, obviously, requires true understanding of those messages, which, in turn, requires that the host of words that make up the message not be deflected from their true meaning by subtilty.
2) Paul's use of "the faith" brings the comprehensiveness of the issues involved into the picture. "The Faith" is the whole composite of biblical revelation.
c. The additional phrase "and of the good doctrine" builds upon this reality: no individual statement in words can carry the weight of the whole Truth unless it is understood in harmony with that Truth. "Good Doctrine" is the true and wholesome overall picture that gives the individual statements the proper context for understanding.
d. Then Paul adds the final piece of his thought: Timothy has already (the verb is a perfect) come to grasp both the overall "big picture" as well as a great number of the "details" in that picture [Note particularly Paul's statement to Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:10].
1) The meaning is instructive: Timothy has the "big picture" firmly fixed in his understanding (both Luke and Paul use the word involved to refer to a settled grasp of the facts within the context of an understanding their significance), but he yet needs to be regularly "nourished" by the "messages" of the Word.
2) This entire process is a kind of "no return" reality. Once a person "buys into" a certain "big picture" concept, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to be drawn into a different "big picture" because all of the details are "interpreted" in harmony with the accepted "big picture". Thus, "Bible study" takes place under the strong influence of the accepted "big picture" and is able to challenge that "big picture" only with great difficulty. On the one hand, regular exposure to the details will "nourish" the one so exposed if the "big picture" is legitimate; but, on the other hand, regular exposure to the details will "confirm one in deceit" if the "big picture" is significantly flawed.
a) This brings up a significant theological fact: the Holy Spirit is almost absent from Paul's "words" to Timothy and Titus, but His necessity is not.
i. Men are "at sea" with "big picture" issues and there is no help to get them to the right harbor except the "wind" that blows them along.
ii. The Holy Spirit is the "Wind of God" whose ubiquitous presence is the only real hope that any less-than-omniscient person actually has. On the divine side, there is "election" and "God's predetermination of all things"; but on the human side there is only one, biblically revealed, "life line": the kind of humility that faces the reality of the declaration of 1 John 2:16 and embraces the determined rejection of "making choices on the basis of the lusts of the flesh, of the soul, and of the spirit" in favor of "making choices rooted in the love (interestingly, not the 'holiness') of God".
b) A corollary to this fact is another: the Holy Spirit does not block the processes of evil apart from the words of God.
i. Everywhere deleterious influences are inserted into the lives of "believers", there is no "correction" except by the "words of God".
ii. The Spirit of God does influence understanding of those words, but He does not appear to bring His influence to bear except by those words. Thus, there is no salvation apart from the proclaimed word. Nor is there any "nourishment" apart from the "words of the faith" and "the good teaching".