Monday, July 2, 2012

True Child in the Faith

True Child in the Faith

1 Timothy 1:1 - Study 1

"Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope, to Timothy, my true child in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord." 1 Timothy 1:1-2 (ESV)

Paul described Timothy as his "true child in the faith."

TRUE: gnesios (legitimate of birth, genuine); from genesis (nativity, figurative of nature); from genea (a generation, an age); from genos (pronounced ghen'os, meaning "kin"); from ginomai (to cause to be, "generate", to become or come into being)

"True" means genuine, a person living a life of faith that is as deep as the person's heart and mind. Just as an infant is born into the world, with eyes and ears, heart and mind, that are uniquely its own, so is this person's faith. Every experience is filtered through eyes and ears born of faith. Life-long habits and preferences are formed in accordance to that faith.

WHAT DO YOU THINK? At what point is it clear that a person's faith is genuine? How does human sin, inevitable even in a Christian's life, affect a person of genuine faith? At what point is it clear that one's faith is not genuine?

Paul used this same word to describe two other men he had mentored.

"To Titus, my true child in a common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior." Titus 1:4 (ESV)

"I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life." Philippians 4:2-3 (ESV)

COMPANION: syszygos (co-yoked, a colleague); from syzeugnymi (to yoke together, to conjoin in marriage); from sun (union, with or together) and zuegos (a couple, a team of oxen yoked together or a brace of birds tied together); from zygos (a coupling, as in servitude to law or obligation, or the beam of a balance that connects the scales); from zuegnumi (to join, as by a "yoke")

"Companion" most likely represents the proper name of an elder in the Philippian church. Paul was describing a close friend of his, Sysygos, as being genuinely connected, joined together with Paul in true faith.

One other instance of "gnesios" occurs in Paul's letter to the church in Corinth.

"We urged Titus that as he had started, so he should complete among you this act of grace. But as you excel in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you...see that you excel in this act of grace also. I say this not as a command, but to prove by the earnestness of others that your love also is genuine." 2 Corinthians 8:6-8 (ESV)

"Genuine" is the English translation of the same Greek word, gnesios, translated elsewhere as "true".

The "grace" that Paul is urging for the Corinithian church is the opportunity to give generously toward helping other Christians that were suffering.

"We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints." 2 Corinthians 8:1-4 (ESV)

Despite their own poverty, the Macedonian churches overflowed with generosity, giving beyond their means to help people who were in worse shape than themselves. Paul was urging the Corinthian churches to do the same, "to prove by the earnestness of others that your love also is genuine."

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Is the offering plate a reliable indication of how true or genuine is a person's faith? When hearing the report of someone's poverty or hunger, is a generous gift of money always the right thing to do?

The essence of the meaning of "true" is the miracle of birth. For Paul, faith was true if it was "gnesios", inborn within a person. Jesus also described the spiritual birth of faith.

"To all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God." John 1:12-13 (ESV)

WILL: thelema (a determination, a choice for special purpose, decree or volition); from thelo (to determine)

WHAT DO YOU THINK? How does your journey to faith demonstrate God's will or determination in your life? To you, what influence does "blood" and "the will of the flesh" and "the will of man" have on genuine faith?

Image provided by M@rg, Creative Commons License.