Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope,
I. THE APOSTLE'S AUTHORITY. "Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ according to the commandment of God our Savior, and Christ Jesus, who is our Hope." The apostleship was his, not merely because he was called to it (Romans 1:1), or destined to it by the will of God (1 Corinthians 1:1), but according to express Divine commandment.
1. It was the commandment of God our Savior, evidently in allusion to the command of the Spirit at Antioch, "Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have appointed them" (Acts 13:2), but more distinctly to his earlier call (Acts 26:16), as "a vessel of election" (Acts 9:15), to preach the Gospel to Jews and Gentiles. As the things of the Father are the Son's, so the things of the Son are the Spirit's. Thus God - Father, Son, and Holy Ghost - gave him his original appointment. Thus the salvation would be seen to be of God's purpose and agency; for he is "God our Savior."
2. It was also the commandment of Christ Jesus, our Hope. Therefore his ordinary title is "an apostle of Jesus Christ." The aged apostle, in the near prospect of death, dwells on the thought of Christ as his one blessed hope. He is our Hope:
(1) as its Author;
(2) as its Object;
(3) as its Revealer;
(4) as its Procurer;
(5) but, above all, as its Substance and Foundation.
He is our very "Hope of glory" (Colossians 1:27).
II. THE APOSTLE'S GREETING. "To Timothy, my true child in the faith."
1. His early life. Timothy was a native of Lycaonia in Asia Minor, probably of Lystra, one of its towns. His father was a pagan, his mother a pious Jewess, named Eunice, who trained him early in the principles of true religion. It is an interesting fact that the apostle's more intimate companions were Gentiles, or with Gentile blood in their veins - Timothy, Titus, Luke, and even Demas.
2. His relationship to the Apostle Paul.
(1) He was converted by the apostle.
(2) He was associated with the apostle during a longer range of time than any other disciple.
(3) He was an interesting disciple of the Lord.
(a) There was great personal affection between Timothy and Paul.
(b) There was "no one like minded" with Timothy who could be brought to take care of individual Churches.
(c) Timothy was a constant organ of personal communication between the apostle and individual Churches.
(d) He seems to have been of a soft and, perhaps, timid temperament.
(e) He was very abstemious in his habits (1 Timothy 5:23).
3. The salutation. "Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord."
(1) The blessings invoked upon Timothy.
(a) Grace - a fresh discovery of Divine favor, an increase of grace, a fuller enjoyment of the gifts of the Spirit.
(b) Mercy - a fresh application of the pardoning mercy of God in Christ. It occurs only here and in the Second Epistle to Timothy suggested, perhaps, by the nearness of his own death, and the increasing difficulties of his last days; for he hopes that Timothy may share in the mercy he has sought for himself.
(c) Peace - peace of conscience through the blood of Christ, so necessary "to keep heart and mind" in the midst of the perturbations and distractions of his service at Ephesus.
(2) The Source of these blessings. They spring alike from the Father and the Son - a proof of the coequal Godhead of the Son; for they are strictly Divine gifts. - T. C.
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ.
I. His OFFICE as being that of "an apostle of Jesus Christ." He often laid stress upon his apostleship, and not with out good reason, for if it had not been recognized he would have been powerless to mould the Churches, which by God's blessing he had been enabled to form. Apostles are still wanted by the world, and Christians ought not to speak either with faltering voice or with apologetic tone. The confidence of the Church must be strengthened before the world will submit to its teaching.
II. St. Paul refers here not only to his office as "an apostle of Jesus Christ," but also to THE BASIS ON WHICH HIS APPOINTMENT RESTED — namely, "the commandment of God our Saviour." Nothing could give a man more courage than belief in such a Divine call. It sustained that noble hero, General Gordon, amidst difficulties and perils which made his life an epic poem; indeed, in all ages the men who have had that belief have dared and done the mightiest deeds. Turn over the pages of history, and you will see that the invincible Ironsides — the dauntless pilgrim founders of the new world — the noblest evangelists and fathers of the early Churches, were all victorious because each said to himself, "I am here by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope." And going back farther still in a Church history, we see Jeremiah standing amidst his persecutors like a brazen wall and a defenced city; Daniel defying the wrath of the king, without a sign of brag gadocio, or of any seeming consciousness of his nobility; and Elijah opposing the court, the hierarchy, and the fanatical people — without a tremor, because he looked beyond them all, and spoke of "the Lord God of Israel, before whom I stand."
III. Here we may encourage ourselves, as Paul did, by remembering THE GIVER OF THIS OFFICE AND WORK. The expression "God, our Saviour" is frequent in the pastoral epistles, but is only met with elsewhere in Jude's doxology, and in Mary's Magnificat. Probably Paul used it here with a special view to certain false teaching which was springing up in the Christian Church at this period.
(A. Rowland, LL. B.)
The Presbyterian.Many men wreck their lives by determinedly carrying out their own plans without reference to the plans of God. In an army every part, every brigade and regiment, must wait the commander's orders. If any battalion moves independently, though ever so heroically, it not only confuses the whole plan of battle, but brings disaster to itself as well in the end. So each individual must always wait for God's command to move. Keep your eye on the pillar of cloud and fire that leads. Never lag behind, but be sure you never run ahead. You can make the clock strike before the hour by putting your own hands to it, but it will strike wrong. You can hurry the unfolding of God's providence, but you will only mar the Divine plan unless you wait for Him. You can tear the rosebud open before the time when it would naturally open, but you destroy the beauty of the rose. So we spoil many a gift or blessing which God is preparing for us by our own eager haste. He would weave all our lives into patterns of loveliness. He has a perfect plan for each. It is only when we refuse to work according to His plan that we mar the web. Stop meddling with threads of your life as they come from the Lord's hands. Every time you interfere you make a flaw. Keep your hands off, and let God weave as He pleases. Do you think you know better than He does what your life ought to be?
I. THE LORD JESUS CHRIST GIVES HIS DISCIPLES NEW OBJECTS OF HOPE. You all know well what hope is — that it consists of desire and expectation. Jesus Christ puts good things before His followers, things that awaken desire, and that call forth expectation. His followers look for these things, and they long for them; and in looking and longing for them, they hope. The Saviour puts new objects of hope before His followers. These are such as the following of the consummation of their salvation. And, passing from things great to things comparatively small, we may mention another new object of hope: the supply of the disciple's temporal need by his Father in heaven. Some men are reckless about the future — I mean this low, earthly, temporal future. Now, to the reckless and to the fearful; to the self-dependent, and to the sinfully dependent upon others; our Lord Jesus Christ saith, "Your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things"; so that the expectation of supply — supply of daily bread to life's last hour, is built upon the loving and watchful care of our Father in heaven. Here again is a new object of hope. Connected with these new objects are others, such as everlasting life in heaven — life eternal in our Father's house, holy, happy, godly, celestial life. And besides this, the establishment of Christ's own kingdom on this earth, and the setting up of His kingdom in the new earth, which, by-and-by, He will create. You, therefore, see that these new objects of hope are numerous and great and benevolent and godly.
II. JESUS CHRIST ALSO LAYS NEW FOUNDATIONS FOR OLD HOPES. Before our discipleship to Jesus Christ, if our hope was for temporal good, then the hope was built upon money, skill, energy, prudence, wisdom, the treasures of our own information, the confidence of our fellow-men in us, our ability to commend ourselves to the good feelings and to the judgment of our fellow-men. But in the case of the Christian, as we have already shown you, the hope, even of temporal good, is built upon the Father's care of us and love for us. Before our discipleship, we were wont to say, "I am rich, I shall have need of nothing," but Christ hath taught us to sing, "Jehovah is our Shepherd, we shall not want." Now, here is a new foundation for an old hope; and what say you about the foundations as they appear contrasted? Do you not agree with me, that the one is miserably loose and shifting sand, and that the other is the rock of ages that can never, never be moved? Or if, before discipleship to Christ, we hoped for salvation, for the forgiveness of our sins, and for eternal life, then the basis of that hope has been changed likewise. We used to boast, "I have never done any harm to anybody"; or we said, "I have always attended a place of worship"; or we said, "God is merciful, and I have never done much harm to anybody, and I am quite sure He will forgive." Now, the disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ, as we have shown you, hopes first and supremely for the consummation of his salvation; but what about the foundation? Hear the disciple now, "What things were gain to me, those I count but loss for Christ, I count all things loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord." The Lord Jesus Christ our hope; He gives us new objects of hope, and He lays new foundations for our old hopes. And yet more —
III. OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST CONSTITUTES HIMSELF THE SECURE FOUNDATION OF ALL LAWFUL HOPES, WHETHER THEY BE OLD, OR WHETHER THEY BE NEW. The Lord Jesus Christ is the foundation. His sacrifices and His mediation open the windows of heaven for us, and the door of heaven to us. Look at this sacrifice and mediation of our Lord Jesus Christ as the basis Of hope. Further, the government of our Lord Jesus Christ secures our possession of all that He ordains for us. The "government is upon His shoulder." All power is given unto Him both in heaven and on earth. All that He means to work out for you will be thoroughly and perfectly wrought out; and it is one of our great mercies, that Christ will not work out our foolish and sometimes wicked schemes and plans, which, if they were wrought out, would ruin us. His government secures our possession of all that He ordains for us. Jesus Christ's love keeps Him ever awake toward our welfare. We often talk of the love of a mother as watchful. Her love is her eye; she sees by her heart; affection is her power of observation. nobody can see, with respect to her children, what she sees, just because her power of love is a second sight.
IV. THE LORD JESUS CHRIST IS HIMSELF AN OBJECT OF HOPE. He has promised to come again; and those who love Him look for Him. Now, think for one moment; what is the master hope in your soul? What do you long for most eagerly? I have read in my Bible, in this glorious New Testament, of men "having no hope," that is — no good hope, no hope worth having, no hope worth retaining, no hope that will not make ashamed. Is that your ease? There are hopes in your soul; for objects of hope are ever appealing to, and calling out, desire and expectation, and these hopes are the sources, or the occasions, of joy. Well, do tell me a little about them. Are these hopes worth cherishing?
I. WHAT IS THE FOUNDATION OF OUR HOPE? Most men live in hope of happiness beyond the grave. Few men, I suppose, are altogether destitute of it. But when we ask for a reason for the hope that is in them, how often do we find it a dream and a delusion and a lie! Some, acknowledging their sins, trust that by their prayers and penitence and performances they can atone for bygone sin, and others who, confessing the worthlessness of all they can do, throw themselves on the general mercy of God. In none of these do we recognize the foundation on which our hope is resting. And what then have we seen in the work or person of Christ to awaken hope? We reply — 1, Looking back on the past work of Christ we find a sufficient remedy for the guilt of sin.
2. Looking at His present work, we find a remedy for our pollution. He purifies His people as well as pardons them. He regenerates and renews them by His Spirit, as well as redeems them by His blood. He reconciles them to the holiness as well as to the justice of God.
3. How is the strength of this foundation proved when, turning from the work to the Workman, we contemplate the surpassing excellencies of His Person! Who is this that undertaketh to provide pardon for the guiltiest, and purifying for the most polluted? It is "the Lord" — the Lord of Glory — the only-begotten of the Father — the eternal Son of God. What virtue, then, in His atoning death I what prevalence in His prayer! what power in His hand to purify! It is "Jesus," the Son of Mary, an Elder Brother, partaker of flesh and blood, made in all things like unto His brethren, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with our griefs. How true and real, then, were the sufferings which He endured when He died for men, and how tender are His sympathies as now He pleads for or with us — "a High Priest, touched with the feeling of our infirmities"! Once again, this is the "Christ" — anointed by God, commissioned for this very work. He does not stand alone; the Father sent Him.
II. But now, in the second place, some may ask, WHERE IS THIS WARRANT OF OUR HOPE? Who are you, or what have you done more than others, that you should thus confidingly draw near to Jesus? The warrant of His holy Word — yes; with unfaltering voice we proclaim aloud that Christ speaking to us in the Word was, and is, the sure and only warrant of our hope.
III. But again, in the third place, we have learned to say, The Lord Jesus Christ accepted, appropriated, built upon by us, is THE SUBSTANCE OF OUR HOPE. Received and rested on He became our Saviour.
IV. But then, in the fourth place, we learned to say THAT CHRIST IN US, CHRIST FOUND AND DWELLING IN US IS THE EVIDENCE, THE ASSURANCE, OF OUR HOPE. "I live," said Paul — "I live": there was no uncertainty here, no dim or doubtful hope, but all the certainty of conscious life — "I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me." "The Lord Jesus Christ is my hope," the principle of life in me. As the sap of the root dwells in every branch and leaflet, imparting life and verdure; as the volition of the head lives in every member, guiding all its actions; as a master dwells in his own house, controlling all its arrangements, so Christ dwelleth in His people by His Holy Spirit, quickening, controlling, guiding them, conforming them to His own likeness. Well then may the Christian say, "Christ in me is the hope of glory." This is indeed a step in advance in the Christian's life! It is more than salvation provided, however fully; it is more than salvation offered, however freely; it is more than salvation accepted, however surely. It is salvation in possession.
V. But now, when thus we have considered THE SECURITY OF THE CHRISTIAN'S HOPE AS CONTRASTED WITH THE FALSE HOPES OF THE WORLD, LET US CONSIDER THE BRIGHTNESS OF THIS HOPE. It is not only sure, but glorious, transcending all else that men have ever pictured for themselves. For what does the Christian hope? I know not what I shall be, but when He shall appear, I shall be like Him. I am called to "the obtaining of the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ." This is our destiny. We are "predestinated to be conformed to His image." Say, then, how dazzling is the glory of the Christian's hope! Jesus stands revealed not only as our Saviour, but as Himself the pattern of our salvation. Where He is, there we hope to be. What He is, that we hope to be. What He has, we hope to have.
VI. But now, in the last place, it may be asked, WHEN SHALL THIS HOPE PASS INTO POSSESSION? Bright as the salvation of which I have spoken may be, it is not yet fulfilled, it is only hoped for. Hope deferred maketh the heart sick. Till fulfilled, it is fragmentary and incomplete. What, then, it may be asked, is the period when hope shall pass into full possession? An earnest and foretaste we have in this life, yea, unspeakable joy when our sins are forgiven and our hearts are purified. An amazing increase we shall have at the hour of death, when our disencumbered spirits shall break away and be with Jesus. To those, then, who now ask us, as we live on earth, Is your joy complete? is your hope fulfilled? we answer, Not yet; not even when our sins are pardoned and our hearts are purified; not even when at a communion table we hold fellowship with our present Lord. The Lord Jesus Christ is Himself the climax of our hope. When He appears in glory, but not till then, shall we appear with Him, our joy completed and all our hope fulfilled.
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