Samuel Abatte

Week 47: Colossians, 1, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy 1-2

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1, 2 Thessalonians: These epistles are distinct as they are primarily positive in their message. Paul instructs the church to continue in its faithfulness (1 Thessalonians 5:14-22). He encourages them to endure persecution (2 Thes 1:4-10, 3:1-8). He directs them to continue in sexual purity (1 Thes 4:1-8) and to continued spiritual growth (1 Thes 4:9-12, 5:23-24). Finally, they are to look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the return of Jesus when all things will be made right under His leadership (1 Thes 4:13-18, 2 Thes 2:1-12).

1, 2 Timothy: The letters to Timothy and Titus are called the Pastoral Epistles because of their focus on church organization and leadership. 1 Timothy confronts false teachers and the adverse effect their teachings have had on the church at Ephesus. “The law is good, if one uses it lawfully” and results in “Love from a pure heart, good conscience and sincere faith” (1:5-11). The false teachers were distorting the gospel so Paul instructs Timothy to appoint faithful overseers and deacons (3:1-13) who will provide proper instruction and counseling.

Women are instructed regarding proper dress (2:9-10) and their proper participation in teaching and worship (2:11-13, 3:11). And the church is instructed to care for the widows (3:3-16). All are warned against reliance on material wealth (6:7-10) and are instead callED on to be “rich in good works” and to be generous in sharing with the needy (6:17-19).

2 Timothy is a very personal letter where Paul is encouraging Timothy in his pastoral efforts (1:1-18, 4:1-5) and reflects on how he has fulfilled his mission as an apostle (4:6-8). Timothy is directed to minister the Word of God that leads to salvation and is profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, training and equipping the saints (3:14-17). “Accurately handling the word of truth” is a sign of a diligent workman (2:15).

Titus: Titus was a faithful companion and coworker with Paul. Paul sent him to Crete to “set in order” the churches there that had discredited the gospel by their bad behavior (1:5, 16). The churches had fallen into disrepute because of bad leadership and false teachings (1:10-14). Letter details the qualifications for proper leaders (1:5-9). Good leaders will teach the people how to behave as Christians in their families (2:1-10) and as members of society (3:1-2). All Christian conduct is based on correct instruction from the word of God (3:3-11) that always includes a call to perform good deed (3:14).

Philemon: Paul taught that in the eyes of God there was no difference between people based on ethnicity, gender or social status (Galatians 3:28, Colossians 3:11). In this letter Paul instructs an escaped Christian who was a slave (Philemon), to return to his master who was also a Christian (Onesimus). He instructs them on how they are to behave towards each other based on their shared faith. Christianity will become the basis for abolishing slavery around the world.

These letters help us live as productive members of God’s Kingdom.

Dr. Samuel Abatte is a physician practicing in Wasilla, Alaska. This column first appeared in the Frontiersman, a Wick newspaper serving the Matanuska-Susitna Valley of Alaska.