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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Another Brick in the Firewall, part 3 (Firewall cont.)

We have been examining, somewhat closely, 2 Timothy 3:14 – 17, Paul’s exhortation to Timothy to build a firewall to protect the church against evil men and impostors.  We saw in the last post that the center of the second brick was an emphasis on continuing in the Word of God.
Another Brick in the Firewall, part 3(Firewall cont.)

In verse 15 Paul amplifies his argument.  He reminds his apprentice that he has known the sacred writings since childhood.  This has much to those of us who are parents or hope to be.  It is a tacit reminder to us that we are to, early and often, expose our children to the Word of God.

Paul’s emphasis is strong on this point.  The strength is obscured again by most of our English translations.  Paul places the object of the verb before the verb, literally it would read, “from childhood the sacred writings you have known.”  That is awkward in English so it is rendered differently in our translations.  Reversing the word order, though is one way of emphasizing a point.  Paul is emphasizing the sacred writings, the Word of God, to Timothy.

There is much error afloat in the Christian community, much like what Timothy was facing in Ephesus.  At a significant level what we face is orders of magnitude more difficult.  Timothy did not have to counter Radio, Television, the internet, nor was there anything yet in mass print.  Communication and the transmission of false teaching was done in person, traveling impostors.

Now we face all of that and more.  It makes it so much more important that first we abide in God’s Word and equip our children to as well.  Abiding, by the way, is more than a consistent devotional life…

Paul though, is not done with his instruction to Timothy…

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Another Brick in the Firewall, part 2 (Firewall cont.)

Continuing our look at 2 Timothy 3:14 – 17, we are looking at the second brick in the firewall that Paul is commanding his apprentice, Timothy, to erect against evil men and impostors who are teaching a different gospel.
Another Brick in the Firewall, Part 2 (Firewall cont.)
There are two elements in this brick:

  • Abide in that which Timothy has learned from his mother, grandmother, and Paul
  • The things that Timothy has learned are rooted in the Scripture

The result of this exhortation seems to be that Paul is reiterating the need for Timothy to remember his example and to abide in that learning as well as its source the Scripture, sacred writings, God’s Word.

This is where things get confusing for me.  Confusing in this sense.  There is no question that there are still false teachers abundantly multiplying and continually gaining followers.  The source of my confusion is how it seems that leaders in the Church seem to be attempting to deal with the false teaching.

I have seen communities focus on detailed doctrinal statements as a means to protect against false teaching.  I know of classes that have been held to teach the correct way for Christians to think about certain topics.  Messages have been shared from pulpits, podiums, chairs, videos, MP3s, and books that explain the proper way to think and or act as a believer.

What I don’t see is any of those answers in the text here.  The majority of the exhortation here is centered on the Scripture.  It seems like Paul is setting personal abiding in the Word of God as a significant brick in the firewall against the propagation of error.

Yet when and where are we equipping and encouraging people to dig into God’s Word.  How often do we exhort people, remind them how critical it is for them to be in the Word of God for themselves.  Not just reading the text, but digging in, allowing it to transform our thinking, reorient our priorities.

Christ tells us in John 8:31 – 32, that we are to abide (your Bible may say continue, but it is the same Greek word translated abide in John 15:1 – 16) in His Word.  John 15:1 – 16 repeats the idea of abiding in Christ and His Word 11 times in those 16 verses.

It seems that the clear message is that we are supposed to do this.

And yet there is more to Paul’s exhortation…

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Another Brick in the Firewall (Firewall cont.)

As we have seen in the previous posts, the first brick in the firewall was for Timothy to follow the example of Paul…  Before we look at the second brick, it would probably be a good idea to note how we know there are two bricks.
Another Brick in the Firewall (Firewall cont.)

As I mentioned before our English translations somewhat obscure Paul’s repetitive structure.  The illustration below is from Bible Hub using the Interlinear option (purple highlight).  You can only look at one verse at a time in this view.  I have put 2 Timothy 3:10 and 14 together to show the repetition.  Look at the first two words circled in red, in both cases they are the same two words, Σὺ δὲ, literally “you but.”  In the NASB the two words are translated; “now you,” in verse 10 and “you, however,” in verse 14.  The second translation seems to add more weight to the second brick.  However in the original the vocabulary and structure is the same.  (One could argue that the second brick, since it is in the last position, may be more important – for your consideration.)

Now that we have established the two, let’s look a bit more closely at the second.  There is quite a bit here so we may spill over a few days.

The first thing we may notice is the continued contrast with the reality of the evil men and impostors that will continually increase in the last days.  In contrast to this reality Paul has told Timothy to follow his example and now the second thing, the second brick in the firewall, to continue in what he had learned.

The word continue, μένε (mene) is a form of the verb μένω (menō) to abide or remain.  The word is thickly repeated by John in John 15:1 – 16.  It seems to be a key concept in John.  Here Paul is using the same word to describe how Timothy is to stand against the coming reality of increasing false teaching.  He commands his apprentice to abide, remain, continue in that which he has learned.

Think through that.  We will expand on this and the rest of Paul’s exhortation in the next post or so…