Study Guide

The Pastoral Epistles (1-2 Timothy, Titus) Authority

Authority

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope. (1 Timothy 1:1, NRSV)

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope. (1 Timothy 1:1, KJV)

That's right. Paul isn't just some scrub off the street preaching about Jesus—he's been sent by the man himself.

I am grateful to Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because he judged me faithful and appointed me to his service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and a man of violence. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the foremost. But for that very reason I received mercy, so that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display the utmost patience, making me an example to those who would come to believe in him for eternal life. (1 Timothy 1:12-16, NRSV)

And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting. (1 Timothy 1:12-16, KJV)

Paul's backstory might not look like much at first (he was beating up on Christians before he saw the light). But the Pastor sees it as evidence of just how far Paul's come. God brought Paul up out of the gutter and now he's put him on a pedestal to teach the truth. That's a pretty strong endorsement right there.

For there is one God; there is also one mediator between God and humankind, Christ Jesus, himself human, who gave himself a ransom for all—this was attested at the right time. For this I was appointed a herald and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. (1 Timothy 2:5-7, NRSV)

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. Where unto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity. (1 Timothy 2:5-7, KJV)

Again, the Pastor believes that God was the one who sent Paul. His credentials don't come from some Ivy League Hebrew school—they come from the Big Guy himself.

I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these instructions to you so that, if I am delayed, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth. (1 Timothy 3:14-15, NRSV)

These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly: But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. (1 Timothy 3:14-15, KJV)

Now it's time for the torch of authority to be passed. Paul can't be there in person, so he designates Timothy as his official representative. The chain of command has been set.

Until I arrive, give attention to the public reading of scripture, to exhorting, to teaching. Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you through prophecy with the laying on of hands by the council of elders. Put these things into practice, devote yourself to them, so that all may see your progress. Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; continue in these things, for in doing this you will save both yourself and your hearers. (1 Timothy 4:13-16, NRSV)

Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee. (1 Timothy 4:13-16, KJV)

Not only has Timothy got Paul's seal of approval; he also has the Godly magic in him. Timothy has the gift of prophecy, which he received from God when some elder Christians laid their hands on him. He's been touched by an angel, and Paul reminds him to keep this good work going and save the world.

Never accept any accusation against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. (1 Timothy 5:19, NRSV)

Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses. (1 Timothy 5:19, KJV)

So there are different rules for people in positions of authority, huh? All an elder has to do is make sure only one person is around every time he commits a crime and he'll never get in trouble. So devious.

For this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher […] Hold to the standard of sound teaching that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Guard the good treasure entrusted to you, with the help of the Holy Spirit living in us. (2 Timothy 1:11, 13-14, NRSV)

Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher […] Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us. (2 Timothy 1:11, 13-14, KJV)

More on the chain of command. First, the good news came from God; then, it was passed onto Paul; now, Paul's handed it off to Timothy. This special wisdom has to be protected though…from anyone who doesn't respect Paul and Timothy's authority.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved by him, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly explaining the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15, NRSV)

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15, KJV)

For the Pastor, authority is pretty closely tied to behavior. If you're acting Godly, then you'll be seen as Godly. Perception is a powerful thing.

I left you behind in Crete for this reason, so that you should put in order what remained to be done, and should appoint elders in every town, as I directed you. (Titus 1:5, NRSV)

For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee. (Titus 1:5, KJV)

Titus also has the Paul stamp of approval. He's been instructed on how to appoint leaders by the head honcho himself. And so church bureaucracy was born.

Declare these things; exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one look down on you. (Titus 2:15, NRSV)

These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee. (Titus 2:15, KJV)

It's all in the delivery. Paul knows Titus needs to act like a guy who's in charge for people to listen to him. Preach on, Titus.

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