LESSON TWO * PART I
PAUL – FIRST IN THE BODY OF CHRIST
I Timothy 1:1-16
Okay, good to see everyone in today. We always make a special welcome to folks who have never been here before. For those of you joining us on television, I always try to make it understood that we’re non denominational and not associated with anyone. We just hopefully teach the Word in such a way that anyone and everyone can read it and understand it.
Of course, nothing thrills us more than when you write to that effect—that for the first time in your life you’re enjoying your Bible. We get so many letters that will say something to this effect: what used to be covered with dust, now we’re wearing it out. Of course, that’s what we feel the Bible should be. It should be just worn out. Periodically, we should have to go and get a new one.
So anyway, we’re glad you’ve joined us. We’re going to be looking at Paul’s letters to Timothy. We’ll be starting at chapter 1 verse 1. And we always like to give a little backdrop whenever we start a new book or letter. Remember, those earlier epistles that we normally refer to as the prison epistles—Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon—were written during an imprisonment that evidently Paul overcame by gaining an acquittal by using his own expertise as an attorney himself. And during the time of his freedom, he writes I Timothy and Titus.
And notice that both of those are almost alike, because they are both for the same purpose. Timothy, of course, is being put in charge of those in the area of Ephesus in Asia Minor; whereas Paul writes to Titus with the idea of caring for the little churches on the island of Crete.
So understand that these are not prison epistles, per se. But they are in-between that time between his first and second imprisonment. Then when he is arrested the second time, maybe a year or two later, he is in prison and awaiting his martyrdom. At that time he will write II Timothy. So as we study II Timothy, it will be in that light—that he now knows his time is at an end, and he realizes now that the Lord is not going to come in his lifetime.
I trust you all realize that throughout Paul’s ministry he honestly thought the Lord would be coming for the Church during his lifetime. And he spoke in that regard all the way through. Now of course, by the time he gets to his second imprisonment, he no longer makes that kind of a statement. Again, remember that Timothy and Titus are going to be written to mostly pastors or church leaders—because, after all, there is no hierarchy involved in Paul’s earliest congregations. There still had to be someone in charge of maintaining order. As we will see here in our programs today, the admonition is to constantly be on guard against false teaching.
Now don’t think for a minute that false teaching is something that has come up in our lifetime. Christianity has been up against it from day one. And consequently, then, that is his admonition to not be deceived. Be not deceived, beguiled, and beware. Those are the kinds of words that you see throughout Paul’s epistles.
We’re going to start now with I Timothy chapter 1. Remembering, now, Paul has just recently been released from his first imprisonment. He is now writing to his son in the faith, Timothy. All right, verse 1 of I Timothy chapter 1:
I Timothy 1:1
“Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Savior, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope;” Now, of course, here again, it is so plain that his apostleship was a direct command of the Lord Jesus Christ. I was reading a book about Paul just the other night. And that how, even during his lifetime, so many of the early church people—even some that had been his converts—were constantly doubting or casting a bad light on his apostleship.
And if you remember when we taught the Corinthian letters, I pointed out constantly how he had to defend his apostleship. In fact, one of the ladies here told me awhile back that “Yes, Paul had to defend his apostleship, and you defend Paul, and we defend you.” So I guess that’s about what it boils down to. Because you see, the vast majority of Christendom still puts Paul off to the side. They’d rather not have anything to do with him. And yet we’re going to show that just on this verse alone, Paul’s apostleship is mandatory for our salvation and our Christian walk, as well as our hope for the end of the Church Age.
We’re seeing more and more – in fact somebody just sent me a book by Tim LaHaye, one of the authors of the Left Behind series. And his whole premise in this last book someone just sent me—I don’t know when it was published—was just what I’ve been telling my classes. Never have I seen such an attack on the pre-tribulation rapture as we’re seeing lately. And again, it’s always because they will not look at the authority of the Apostle Paul. So, Paul is an apostle by the commandment of our Lord and Savior.
Now we might as well chase it down in Scripture. Go back with me, if you will, to Acts chapter 9—which, of course, is the account of his conversion on the road to Damascus. We’re not going to cover all of that, because most of you understand how he was a (What’s the right word?) bona fide Jewish zealot. He just lived and breathed religion. And he thought that anybody that had embraced Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah of Israel was a heretic and had to be removed from Israel. That’s what his persecution was attempting to do.
Boy, you talk about ethnic cleansing. Old Saul of Tarsus had one of his own. He thought he could literally cleanse Israel of anything that smacked of Jesus of Nazareth. So now he’s on the road to Damascus. And the sole purpose is to arrest Jews up there in Syria who had embraced Jesus as the Messiah; although they were still, of course, in Judaism. His whole purpose was to go and arrest them and bring them back to Jerusalem. Hopefully they would be sentenced and be put to death.
All right, now as he goes, of course, the Lord meets him. You know the account. How He struck him. How the light blinded him. And Paul’s response was, “Lord, what would you have me to do?” All right, now I’m going to bring you all the way down, for sake of time, to verse 11. Where the Lord not only deals with Saul of Tarsus out on the highway leading to Damascus, but also leap-frogs into the city itself to deal with one of the Jews who had become a believer of Jesus of Nazareth, or what we call the Kingdom Gospel. Here it is in verse 11.
“And the Lord said unto him, (Ananias) Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth, 12. And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight.” Now verse 13 says it all. Ananias knew all about this guy.
“Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints (or believing Jews) at Jerusalem: 14. And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name.” They knew what his purpose was. He was going to arrest them and take them back to Jerusalem. And hopefully they would be put to death or be put in prison. All right, now verse 15 and this is the Lord’s response to Ananias.
“But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: (Now that’s the Lord Himself speaking as to why He has this Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus.) 16. For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.”
Now those of you who have been with us all the way through Paul’s Epistles, you understand how the man did indeed suffer over and over and over. I’m sure the only thing that kept him going was remembering how he had persecuted those before him. We know it’s just part and parcel of Paul’s apostleship.
Let’s go on to Acts chapter 22 for a moment. Now Paul rehearses that same conversion experience, but in the first person. Now in chapter 9, of course, it’s telling the account of it. But in chapter 22, we have Paul coming back to Jerusalem after having been out in his ministry amongst the Gentiles for several years. This is where I want to show how it must have just struck the apostle to the heart that he was going to have to go to the Gentiles, because he was a good Jew. He was a religious fanatic. And then to be told that he was going to go to the Gentiles!
Now the parallel of that is Jonah. Now a lot of people don’t realize that Jonah would rather walk the plank than go to Nineveh. Why? Because Jews had nothing to do with those pagan Gentiles. They had no concept that the God of Abraham would ever have time for those Gentile dogs, as they called them. This man’s perception was no different, and now he has to go to those Gentiles. So all of this comes in on the man, plus the fact that now he’s going to have to suffer inexorably for it.
So in Acts 22 he has been rehearsing his conversion up there in verses 1-16. But now I want to use the coming verses to show the mentality, or the attitude, of the Jewish people towards Gentiles. Now here he is. He’s the Apostle to the Gentiles. He’s been out now for several years. He comes back to Jerusalem, and he addresses this Jewish multitude. Now verse 17, as he addresses this Jewish crowd in Jerusalem, this is what he says.
“And it came to pass, that, when I was come again to Jerusalem, even while I prayed in the temple, I was in a trance; 18. And saw him (That is Jesus of Nazareth.) saying unto me, Make haste, and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem: for they (the Jews) will not receive thy testimony concerning me.” Now Paul comes back to the first person, and he says:
“And I said, Lord, they know that I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that believed on thee: 20. And when the blood of thy martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by, and consenting unto his death, and kept the raiment of them that slew him. 21. And he (the Lord Jesus from Glory) said unto me, Depart: for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles.”
Now the next verse is what I want you to see. The next verse shows the attitude of the ordinary, everyday, commonplace Jew. These were the people, of course, that thought just like Saul of Tarsus had before his conversion. Verse 22:
“And they (his Jewish audience) gave him audience (or listened to him) unto this word, (the word “Gentile”) and then lifted up their voices, and said, Away with such a fellow from the earth: for it is not fit that he should live.”
Now, that was the mentality of the Jewish populace at the time of Saul’s conversion. And his mentality was no different. Yet, of course, because of his persecution, he now suffered and suffered for the sake of the Gospel as it was going out to the Gentile world.
All right, now I can take you back to another account of how Paul had to deal with the people of his own race. I want to bring you back to Acts chapter 15. And over and over, when I teach this chapter in areas where we’ve never taught before, and if people have never heard me teach, when we show them these verses in Acts 15, they’ll come up, sometimes half a dozen at a time, and their statement is, “I never knew this was in the Bible.”
But this is what Paul is up against. All these little congregations were probably a lot like our home Bible studies. They weren’t huge congregations. They met in homes. And as soon as he would get a little group established, he would move on. I mean, he had a lot of territory to cover. And as soon as he would leave, this is what would happen. All right, let’s read it, verse 1 of Acts 15.
“And certain men which came down from Judaea (that’s Jerusalem) taught the brethren,…” They would come in and seemingly have the knowledge and the authority. They would actually usurp the position of teaching. So they would teach these Gentile believers of Paul’s preaching, and this is what they said.
“…Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.” Quite a statement, wasn’t it? That’s what they were teaching. Oh, now Paul’s gospel is alright as far as it goes, but that’s not enough. You have to be circumcised!
Now, the reason I go all the way to verse 5, is because I once read a commentary where he said it really wasn’t that big a deal, because, after all, the Jews knew that they couldn’t force circumcision on the Gentiles. He kind of pooh-poohed the idea. But it didn’t stop with circumcision. You go up to verse 5. They didn’t stop there. Look what it says in verse 5 of chapter 15.
“But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed,…” In other words, these were the religious Pharisees of Israel who embraced Jesus of Nazareth. They were believers, but they knew nothing of Paul’s Gospel of Grace. So consequently, what did they say?
“…saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them (To do what?) to keep the law of Moses.” Well, that just flew in the face of everything that Paul said. Because what did Paul start out with? “You’re not under Law, you’re under Grace!”
And yet these people were saying, well, the one alone isn’t enough. You’ve got to have both. All right, let’s see how Paul deals with that. Let’s go to Galatians chapter 2. No, I want to start with chapter 1. Galatians chapter 1 and this is exactly what Paul is dealing with—where these false teachers would come into his little groups of believers up there, especially in Asia Minor, which is now Turkey, and tell them that Paul’s gospel alone wasn’t enough. They had to practice circumcision and keep the Mosaic Law. Now look what he says about it.
“I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: 7. Which is not another; (In other words, it’s not totally different, but it was so subtly adulterated. They’re not coming at you with something totally different.) but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert…” Now you know that Paul is constantly warning us of any kind of perversion of his Gospel. Here’s the clearest one. They were not just simply throwing Paul’s Gospel to the wind and saying, don’t have anything to do with that. But they were leaving that set and then coming in and adding to it—Law-keeping, circumcision, and so forth—which, of course, made it a perversion.
In fact, remember when I taught Corinthians, Paul used the example that he did not come with an adulterated, perverted product. And I showed you from the language of the Greek, that it was when they took wine and watered it down and sold it for the real thing? Well, that was a perversion. That wine was adulterated. Well, that’s what they were doing with Paul’s Gospel. They weren’t throwing it out, they were perverting it. And listen, we’re up against the very same thing today. They are adding everything to Paul’s Gospel of I Corinthians 15:1-4—how that Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and rose again.
I’ll go on a little further here in Galatians chapter 2, because I want you to understand that when Paul speaks of his gospel as having been by way of the commandment of the Lord Jesus, it is indeed different than anything even Israel had ever heard before. Now in Galatians chapter 2 verse 2 and this is 14 years after his conversion, so he’s already been out there amongst the Gentile world for 10 or 12 years. Now he’s been brought back to Jerusalem. This is the same meeting that we just looked at in Acts 15. He says in verse 2:
“And I went up by revelation,…” In other words, he didn’t go up because he had an idea it was time to go to Jerusalem. He didn’t go to Jerusalem because the Antioch Church thought he should. The Lord instructed him. The Lord no doubt laid upon him and said, now, Paul, it’s time you go and meet with the leadership up there in Jerusalem. So he says.
“And I went up by revelation, and communicated…” Now, I always stop at that word, don’t I? Because communicated means he made sure they understood what he was saying.
Now, I think we’ve all experienced times when we have told somebody something and they missed it completely. Well, when you communicate, you don’t miss it. You make certain that they understand what you’re saying. This is what Paul is saying. When he went up to Jerusalem, he made certain that Peter, James, John, and the rest of the leadership understood where he was coming from. Now look what he says.
“…and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles,…” Now, you see, when you come on further in this chapter, it clarifies that indeed. There were two messages. One for Peter and the Eleven and the Jews of that day to believe, and one for the Gentiles that was revealed to Paul in this Age of Grace—which is totally different. Today, everyone must believe Paul’s Gospel of Grace. Now I know this throws a curve at people. Oh, they can get so riled up.
I remember one young man out east someplace. I’d already been teaching for nearly two hours. Started at 7 and it was about quarter to 9, and, my, he was getting exercised. He was trying to interrupt me, and, finally, I just had to tell him to be quiet, and I would talk to him when I was through.
So I went back afterwards, and he says, “Where to you get this TWO gospel bit? There has never been more than one.” And I said, “Now wait a minute. Do you mean to tell me that Adam and Eve were saved by believing that Christ died and rose from the dead?” He said, “They must have.” “They must have?” I said, “Crucifixion hadn’t even been invented yet. That was a Roman invention.” He didn’t know what to say about that. I said, “Okay, I’ll put the words in your mouth. Are you going to tell me that Abraham was saved by believing that Christ died and rose from dead?” You know what his answer was? Same thing – he must have!!
How could he? Paul makes it so plain that it was a mystery that had never been revealed until it was given to him. I said, “You haven’t got an ounce of ground to stand on.” But, you see, people get all upset. Because they think there’s always been one gospel. But look what it says here in the few moments we’ve got left. Verse 4 and this is the Judaizers, the leadership of Jerusalem, who are trying to put Paul and his converts back under the Law.
“And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty (living in Grace) which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into (What?) bondage:” Whenever Paul uses that word, what’s he speaking of? The Law! Oh, they wanted to bring them back into the Law and under bondage. Next verse:
“To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; (So that what?) that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.” That it wouldn’t be covered with legalism. Now verse 7:
“But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision (the Gentiles) was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision (Jew) was unto Peter;” Now every time I teach that verse, what do I ask? How many gospels have you got in that one verse? Well, if you can count, two. The gospel of the uncircumcision is one, and the gospel of the circumcision, as I understand numbers, is two. Plain as day.
And we know now from the record, that’s the way it was. This is why there was so much friction between the Jewish community and Paul and his Gentile converts. And there was. All you have to do is go back into some of the historical aspect of all this. There was so much friction. All right, come on down to verse 8.
“(For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, (Jews) the same (the same God) was mighty in me toward the (other segment of the population) Gentiles:)” And then verse 9:
“And when James, Peter, and John, who seemed to be pillars, (They weren’t any more, because their whole—whatever you want to call it—was falling apart. It was no longer the center of everything. But they still thought it was.) perceived (understood) the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship;…”
They were gentlemanly enough to shake hands and say, all right, Paul, you’ve convinced us. Your message to the Gentiles is for you to take, and we’ll stay with Israel. Look at the verse again.
“And when James, Peter, and John, who seemed to be pillars, understood the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we (Paul and Barnabas) should go unto the heathen, (Gentiles) and they (Peter, James, and John and the rest of the leadership in Jerusalem) unto the circumcision (Israel).”
And all the way through this, we have this concept that because of the commandment of the Lord Jesus, the Apostle Paul was indeed the Apostle of the Gentiles. All right, in the minute or two we’ve got left, we’ve got one more portion to prove that this man was writing by inspiration. He’s God’s man for this Age of Grace. Ephesians chapter 3. My goodness, I think I could teach these 9 or 10 verses every night of the week and never get tired of it. Because it is so plain. It is so explicit. Yet the majority of Christendom just totally ignores it.
“For this cause,…” In other words, all that is written in the first two chapters. And most know, I guess, chapter 2 verses 8 and 9.
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:” So with that as the background, he says in chapter 3.
“For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, 2. If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward:” See how plain that is? Now come all the way down to verse 9, the capstone of everything.
“And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, (That is this whole concept of Grace.) which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:”
Well, what’s the man saying? That everything that he is taking to the Gentile world had been kept secret in the mind of God until it was revealed to him.