"The Corinthians and the Apostle Paul" Page 3 of 5 (series: Lessons on 1 Cor.)
by John Lowe
From the two Epistles addressed to Timothy we are able to put together a few notes concerning his later life. It follows from 1 Tim. 1:3 that he and his master, after the release of the latter from his imprisonment, A.D. 63, revisited Asia where they stopped over at Ephesus; from there the apostle continued his journey to Macedonia, while the disciple remained at Ephesus, half reluctantly, even weeping at the separation, 2 Tim. 1:4; there he was to curb, if possible, the outgrowth of heresy and decadence which had sprung up there. The position in which he found himself might have made him anxious. He had to preside over presbyters most of whom were older than him. Leaders of rival sects were active there, and the name of his beloved teacher was no longer honored as it had been. It is no wonder then that the apostle, knowing of these trials, would be full of anxiety and fear for his disciple’s commitment. In the Second Epistle to him, A.D. 67 or 68, this deep personal feeling is voiced more fully. The last recorded words of the apostle express the earnest hope, that he might see him once again, 2 Tim. 4:9, 21. We may hazard the guess that he reached him in time, and that the last hours of the teacher’s life were soothed by the presence of the disciple whom he loved so truly. Some writers have seen in Heb. 13:23 an indication that he even shared St. Paul’s imprisonment, and was released from it by the death of Nero. Beyond this all is dubious and uncertain. He continued, according to the old traditions, to act as bishop of Ephesus, and died a martyr’s death under Domitian or Nerva. A somewhat startling theory regarding the intervening period of his life has found acceptance by some. If he continued, according to established tradition, to be bishop of Ephesus, then he, and no other, must have been the “angel” of the church of Ephesus to whom the message of Rev. 2:1–7 was addressed.
who is my beloved son;
In his epistles to Timothy, he often calls him his son, his own son in the faith, his dearly beloved son; but we know the apostle was not present at his conversion, because he was a disciple of Christ before the apostle was acquainted with him—“And he came also to Derbe and to Lystra: and behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewess that believed; but his father was a Greek” (Acts 16:1; ASV).
“My beloved son” is an expression that suggests abundant affection, that he was younger than Paul, that he was like a son to him, and he served him in the Gospel ministry—“But ye know the proof of him, that, as a child serveth a father, so he served with me in furtherance of the gospel” (Phil 2:22; ASV)—and since he was so familiar with him, and loved him so much, it is reasonable to think that he was well acquainted with the apostles doctrine and methods.
And faithful in the Lord;
TIMOTHY could not have a better reference than this word of commendation from the illustrious apostle; what he is saying is essentially this: “Timothy is a true Christian and a faithful servant of Christ; and who is, therefore, worthy of your confidence.”
The phrase “in the Lord” is not the same as “in Christ.” In Christ points to our heavenly position—“And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph 2:6; KJV)—while in the Lord denotes His authority over us, and is consequently connected with our circumstances, activities, and relationships on earth. In the first part of Ephesians we find the phrase “in Christ” where our heavenly position is dealt with. In the latter part, which deals with earthly matters, “in the Lord” is prominent: “I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beseech you to walk worthily of the calling wherewith ye were called… This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind” (Eph 4:1, 17; KJV). Timothy was Paul’s beloved and faithful child in the Lord; he recognized the Lordship of Jesus and was fully committed to Him. He followed Jesus, not men, and Paul longed to see the believers in Corinth as dedicated to the Lordship of Jesus as Timothy was.
who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways;
It seems that the Corinthians had forgotten the ways in which Paul ministered among them. He had lived the life of a true minister because Jesus was not only Paul’s Savior—He was also Lord of His life, and the apostle
had not displayed self conceit, pride, or worldly wisdom. On the contrary, he had never promoted himself as an outstanding person but rather as “the least of the apostles.” He had preached Jesus Christ—crucified, buried, risen, ascended, and coming again. Now he was sending Timothy to remind them of those things, and to point out how they were abusing the spirit in which Paul had taught them while he was with them. Timothy will revive their recollections of Paul's life, conduct and teachings, so that they can know how to better “follow” him.
We should note that they apparently had forgotten—through the length of time, and the ministry of the false teachers among them—some of the things Paul had taught them while he was there in the capacity of Minister to that church; particularly all those rules and orders he gave for the discipline and management of the affairs of churches: therefore Timothy is sent, not to teach them new ways; but only to remind them of what the apostle had formerly taught them.
which be in Christ;
The sum and substance of the doctrines he preached to them was simple enough; Christ, and him crucified. The ordinances he had presented to them were what he had received from Christ. All the rules and methods he gave to them for regulating their conduct, and managing their ecclesiastical affairs, were agreeable to the mind of Christ and had a tendency to advance His glory. He did not do anything or propose anything unless it was in sync with the will of the Savior.
If any man was ever entirely devoted to the service of Jesus Christ, it was the apostle Paul. How else could he have accomplished all he did?
as I teach everywhere, in every church.
This indicates that Paul was consistent in his preaching wherever he went—
• But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches. (1 Cor 7:17; KJV). I do not lay on you a burden which others are not called to bear: this is the general rule which, by the authority of God, I impose on every Christian society.
• But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God. (1 Cor 11:16; KJV). There were factions within the churches that liked to argue about every little thing, like they do today, but Paul was consistent with the rules and methods he gave to them for dealing with this type person.
• For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. (1 Cor 14:33; KJV). Confusion such as more than one speaking at a time is not of God. God demands peace and order “in all the churches of the saints.”
Paul was the same in every church where he appeared; He spoke of the same faith in every church; the Son of God, preached by him, was always the same; the rules prescribed by him, and orders he laid down, for the conduct of life, and government of churches, were exactly alike in all the churches. He did not teach any doctrines at Corinth, or put into practice the observance of any rule, that was not taught and observed by all the other churches; his plan of doctrine and discipline was the same every place he went.
18 Now some are puffed up, as though I would not come to you.
A child’s will must be broken, but not destroyed. Until a colt is broken, it is dangerous and useless; but once it learns to obey, it becomes gentle and useful. Pride is a terrible thing in the Christian life and in the church. The yeast of sin (leaven)—“Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (1 Cor 5:6-8; KJV)—had made the Corinthians “puffed up,” even to the point of saying, “Paul will not come to us! His bark is worse than his bite!” Just as a little leaven leavens the whole mass of dough, so will one sinner who is allowed to go on in impurity send a corrupting influence through the whole church.
This verse proves that it had been reported to him that they were angry because they believed he would not come to them for one reason or another, and it suggests that at that particular time he was sending Timothy because he dares not visit them himself.