Teaching (Part 2)
We’re continuing our flyover of the New Testament, and we’re flying fast. Last week we flew through 7 books: James, and then 6 letters written by Paul: Galatians, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, 1 & 2 Corinthians and Romans.
Today, we’re going to review Paul’s remaining 7 written during his Roman imprisonment. These include his prison epistles: Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon and his pastoral epistles, 1 & 2 Timothy, and Titus.
So last week we left off with Paul in Corinth having written his letter to the Romans, which as we learned some have called The Gospel According to Paul. In it, he lays out a very clear message of the gospel.
Again, clearly we’re travelling fast. As a pastor and preacher it is not unheard of to spend an entire sermon on one verse, so to cover an entire chapter, book, much less 7 of them means we are truly flying through these. We will actually be finishing our series in just a few weeks.
So quickly a review of our guidelines as we do our 40,000 foot flyover the New Testament:
Don’t get frustrated by the pace.
Try and see the connections.
Enjoy your flight.
Let’s Remember that we are in the T of our acronym EMPTY, and it stands for Teaching.
E - Expectations
M - Messiah
P - Pentecost
T - Teaching
Y - Yet to come
We’re going to begin with Paul’s letter to the Ephesians during his imprisonment in Rome between AD 60 -62.
Paul had spent 3 years in Ephesus, during his third missionary journey (Acts 19). The city of Ephesus was the fourth largest city in the Roman Empire with a population of about 250,000 including 10,000 Jews. There, the young church was facing familiar temptations of false teaching, division, and worldliness. This letter is truly a stirring restatement of God’s eternal purpose in Christ and an exhortation to the church to live in unity in Christ.
I often use a summary of the benediction given in Ephesians 3, vs. 21 & 22 at the end of our services.
Throughout this epistle, Paul clearly recognizes the devil’s scheme to tempt and accuse our disobedience. Perhaps looking at the Roman soldier who guarded him in prison he describes the believer as outfitted with the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, and shoes ready to carry the gospel. They hold the shield of faith to extinguish the devils arrows, and they wear the helmet of salvation while wielding the sword of the Spirit which is the sword of God.
Our summarizing phrase of this letter is “Unity of Christ” following our key verse:
eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
One of my favorites early in my Christian faith, and remains so today. Paul’s second prison letter is to the church he established in Philippi during his second missionary journey recorded in Acts 16. Paul and Timothy write to the saints who are in Philippi. After his distinctive greeting Paul’s prayer for the Philippians reveals the theme of his letter. His prayers are filled with joy,
It’s in this letter that we get phrases like, “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” v. 1:21.
We also get that beautiful instruction to be unified in their imitation of Christ who models how we should live:
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
The focus of this letter is joy.
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.
And that leads us to the summarizing statement, Joy in Christ.
Paul writes with the authority as an apostle. He has heard about their faith in Christ, their love for Christ’s people, and their hope in Christ’s return. Reflecting on the supreme and glorious accomplishment of the cross leads Paul into praise and worship:
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
Paul warns the Colossians against any teaching that would diminish Christ, and urges believers to fix their attention on Him. He focuses on their new life in Christ, and that is our theme for Colossians, “New Life in Christ”.
Our key verse for the book is Colossians 3:4
When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
This is the last of Paul’s prison letters. It’s a personal letter addressed to three individuals:
Philemon 1–2 (ESV)
To Philemon our beloved fellow worker and Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier, and the church in your house:
One of Philemon’s servants, Onesimus, had fled for unknown reasons to us. Philemon was a wealthy resident of Colossae and employed servants for his estate. Onesimus comes in contact with Paul and becomes a believer in Christ. Paul has great affection for Onesimus, treating him much like a son.
Paul writes Philemon encouraging him to receive Onesimus back as a brother in Christ. And that is our summarizing statement for this book, “Welcome your brother in Christ.”
Our summarizing verse is Philemon 21
Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say.
Our next letters are first and second Timothy:
1 & 2 Timothy
1 & 2 Timothy
We know that Paul was imprisoned in Rome 60-62, according to a number of early Christian resources indicate that he was released after his initial trial and then imprisoned a second time in Rome from AD 63-65. It is during this later period that Paul pens his letters to Timothy and Titus. These are known as the Pastoral Epistles.
First & Second Timothy are written to Paul’s beloved disciple who accompanied him on his first and second missionary journey as we saw in Acts 16. Timothy is young, and becomes a lifelong mentee of Paul’s, and was given several important ministry assignments in Thessalonica, Corinth, and Philippi.
After Paul’s initial release from prison in Rome, he entrusts Timothy with the church at Ephesus. His first letter to Timothy is to encourage his faithfulness in the task. He instructs him to remain there. Paul guides him in orderly worship and leadership in the church. He encourages Timothy to devote himself to the public reading of Scripture and preaching of the Word. That brings us to our summarizing words of 1 & 2 Timothy, “Preach the Word of Christ.”
Our key verse comes from 2 Timothy 4:2
preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.
Lastly, we come to Titus, the last letter written during this period.
Paul had first met Titus during his early missionary journeys, Titus had come to Christ from a Gentile background. He served as an important example of Paul’s teaching that Gentiles were justified by faith, and as such, they should be treated as full members of God’s covenant family. Titus is another one of Paul’s children of faith.
Much like he did with Timothy, Paul instructs Titus to teach sound theological doctrine, and to be an example of good works.
Central to his message is Titus 3:4-7
But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
And that brings us to our summarizing statement for Titus, Serve Christ our Savior. Our summarizing verse is Titus 2:1
But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine.
As we come to the end of these 7 letters, there is for me a sense of the renewing of our mind that happens in Christ. That we are no longer the people we once were without Christ, and that this newness of life is to be passed on as we share.
We read in 2Tim 2:2
and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.
We can go all the way back to Jesus’s Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20.
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
And Jesus words in Acts 1:8
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
So we see the gospel message spreading around the known world then, and ultimately it spread to us. Think about that. Paul clearly was concerned about the gospel message being shared. He was also concerned about the message being diluted.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
There is a consistency in the message of the New Testament, to continue to spread not just the kindness that we’re called to be towards our neighbor in love, but the Gospel message itself. The saving message of Jesus Christ. That is our legacy and our charge going forward, and all for the glory of God.
Teaching (Part 2)
Teaching (Part 2)