“Having confidence in your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say” (Philem. 1:21).
It is easy to become skeptical and suspicious of men because not everyone has faith and some prove themselves to be unreasonable and wicked (2 Thess. 3:2, 3). However, Paul shows personal belief and confidence in a man named Philemon and of his willingness to obey—even such obedience to do more than he would ask. Onesimus was Philemon’s slave who wrongfully ran away and was by chance, converted to Christ by Paul. Yes, the gospel calls the rich and the poor to heaven’s grace. The aged Paul (Philem. 1:9) is sending him back to his master with an appeal that Philemon would forgive him, receive him as a brother, and also send him back to Paul to minister to him.
In Paul’s older years he did not become bitter toward people but found members of the church refreshing to his heart (Philem. 1:20). Can we have such confidence in brethren today? We can when we know that their aim is not to please men but the Lord. Paul penned to the Philippians, “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (2:12). Paul also wrote to the Thessalonians, “And we have confidence in the Lord concerning you, both that you do and will do the things we command you” (2 Thess. 3:4; see also Gal. 5:10; 2 Cor. 2:3; 7:16; 8:22).
For this memory verse, I asked myself, “If Paul were writing a personal letter to me, would he have had the same confidence that he had in Philemon?”
--Steven J. Wallace
Titus 3:10, 11, “Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition, knowing that such a person is warped and sinning, being self-condemned.”
IMMEDIATE CONTEXT: TITUS 3:8-11
The subject matter of Titus is similar to the letters to Timothy. Our memory passage calls forth the disciplinary procedures for those who cause divisions or are “factionists” (Living Oracles). Paul commanded Titus to avoid certain disputes which were foolish, unprofitable, and useless (3:9). Recall, “But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife” (2 Tim. 2:23).
This by no means charges “all disputes” as unprofitable. But rather, it restricts the kind of disputes we engage in. Those that are foolish, cause strife and prove themselves useless or harmful. As pointless preaching does not negate gospel preaching, neither does foolish disputing negate debating and contending for the faith (see Jude 1:3; Phil. 1:17; Acts 17:2; 18:27, 28; etc.). The dividing line between a “divisive man” and a “gospel defender” is the source from which they draw for their contention. Is its origin of human opinion and a mishandling of the word of God? Is it firmly based and authorized by revealed Scripture? Paul distanced himself from being a part of a sect because he worshiped believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets (Acts 24:14). The factious man does not believe all things which are written.
Our memory verse requires disciplinary measures against those who cause divisions—the schismatic man in particular. He is to be “rejected” after the first and second admonition. Twice such a one should be warned in love and concern for his soul but when the fruit of repentance is not found, he needs to be rejected as warped (inverted) and sinning (having wandered from the path). Such disciplinary action is deeply valuable to the flock by warning the wayward and preserving the purity of the church. As Jesus outlined in His personal ministry of how to deal with personal private offenses/disputes (see Matt. 18:15-18), so He has also instructed how we are to deal with those who cause divisions in the body (Titus 3:9-11; Rom. 16:17; 1 Thess. 3:6ff; etc.).
--Steven J. Wallace
2 Timothy 4:2, “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.”
IMMEDIATE CONTEXT: 2 Timothy 4:1-5.
The context can easily extend forward and backward as Paul stresses the need to be true to the word in preaching throughout the book. The reward for those who fight the good fight of faith is in view of the apostle as he looks forward to the return of Christ and gaining the crown of righteousness. To shy away from what is “righteous” is to shy away from such a crown which the Lord will give. God drew the defining line of right and wrong in His word. Timothy must, therefore, be true to preaching it when it is welcomed and when it is not. There are no other means by which God will save a man apart from the written word. He has chosen the method of preaching to save (Lk. 9:60; 1 Cor. 1:21; Rom. 10:14ff; Col. 1:28; Acts 5:20; etc.).
Because Timothy is charged to “preach it,” we can necessarily infer that the word is available and understandable. Because people can turn from the truth further underscores that it can be understood and that men retain free-will to veer from it. Because Timothy must endure afflictions in the work of an evangelist, it further implies that men will not only reject the truth that is preached but that they can become hostile in opposing it.
Let us value the word of God and give it the respect it deserves. Let’s not only demand that it is preached but also respectfully heed it as it is preached.
--Steven J. Wallace
Selecting one memory passage from 1 Timothy proves itself to be difficult not because of any lack of great teaching, but due to the many statements that are made which give direction, admonishment, practical advice, and comfort. Notice a partial list of some of the great statements found in 1 Timothy below.
- 1:5, 6, “Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith, from which some, having strayed, have turned aside to idle talk.”
- 1:15, “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.”
- 1:17, “Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.”
- 1:18, “This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare.”
- 2:1, 2, “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.”
- 2:5, 6, “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.”
- 2:8-10, “I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting; in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works.”
- 3:1, “This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work.”
- 3:5, “(for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?)”
- 3:13, “For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a good standing and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.”
- 3:15, “but if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.”
- 4:1, “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons.”
- 4:6, “If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed.”
- 4:8, “For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.”
- 4:12, “Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”
- 4:13, “Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.”
- 4:15, “Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all.”
- 4:16, “Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.”
- 5:1, “Honor widows who are really widows.”
- 5:17, “Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine.”
- 5:20, “Those who are sinning rebuke in the presence of all, that the rest also may fear.”
- 6:6, 7, “Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.”
- 6:10, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”
- 6:12, “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”
- 6:20, 21, “O Timothy! Guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and idle babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge—by professing it some have strayed concerning the faith. Grace be with you. Amen.”
Rather than assigning the entire book of 1 Timothy, I want to highlight two verses that are not on this list. It’s meaning and intent surfaces frequently from Paul’s pen to Timothy and Titus and compliments the thoughts expressed by Paul to be delivered from unreasonable (amiss, out of place) men (2 Thess. 3:2, 3). Where Paul ended the book of 1 Timothy is essentially where he began this letter.
I fear, too many preachers do not give long and sober consideration to this warning and chase after things that are unprofitable and out of place. How many preacher-training programs spend time with young men in warning them not to strive over words and engage in profitless pursuits akin to fables, endless genealogies, idle babblings and contradictions of false knowledge? Our classes need to be “Bible Classes” where we guard against thinking beyond what is written (1 Cor. 4:6). We must strive to have Bible classes that actually study the Bible and are not transformed into “idle babble studies.” Pursue lessons that explain doctrine, edify godly living, apply and expound on words of the Holy Spirit giving the sense (Neh. 8:8). Let us refuse the urge to decorate our discussions and discourses with opinions and vain speculations of men. Other than discouragement and deception, the devil seeks to distract us away from the truth and our solemn duty to it. Let us, therefore, commit to memory:
“As I urged you when I went into Macedonia—remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine, nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith” (1 Tim. 3:3, 4).
IMMEDIATE CONTEXT: 1:3-11
THEMATIC WARNING: 1, 2 Timothy and Titus (1 Tim. 4:6, 7; 6:4, 20; 2 Tim. 2:14-16; 4:2-5; Titus 1:10-14; 2:1, 8, 3:9-11).
--Steven J. Wallace
Bible Recall Verse:
2 Thessalonians 3:3, “But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one.”
IMMEDIATE CONTEXT: 2 Thessalonians 3:1-5
EXTENDED CONTEXT: 2 Thessalonians 2:13-3:18
1. Pray for us and the success of the word (3:1).
2. Pray for our deliverance from unreasonable men (3:2).
3. The Lord is faithful toward you (3:3).
4. Our confidence in the Lord and in these brethren to keep the commandments (3:4).
5. The Lord is your direction to love and patience (3:5).
What a great section of Scripture this is. Sadly, it is a text often overlooked or ignored. When read, does it not bolster and complement the following teaching? Think of how it connects to the command to withdraw from disorderly brethren (3:6), to be diligent workers (3:7-10), to shun meddling in the affairs of others (3:11, 12), to persist in what is good while shunning and admonishing those who are disobedient (3:13-15).
Let us never forget the faithfulness of the Lord despite how unfaithful men may become. “He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it” (1 Thess. 5:24).
--Steven J. Wallace