Life-Study of 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus and Philemonby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
With this message we begin a series of Life-study Messages on 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, and Philemon. In previous Life-studies we have covered six books written by Paul: Romans, Hebrews, Ephesians, Colossians, Galatians, and Philippians. In these six books the basic and crucial truths concerning Christ and the church are revealed. The other four Epistles written by Paul are 1 and 2 Corinthians and 1 and 2 Thessalonians.
Of the fourteen Epistles written by Paul, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Romans, and Hebrews are very basic and may be regarded as a group. First Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, and Philemon may also be considered a group. We believe that the arrangement of the books in the New Testament is according to the Lord’s sovereignty. In this sovereign arrangement, the four books of 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, and Philemon are put together as a group.
Perhaps you are wondering how the other four of Paul’s Epistles—1 and 2 Corinthians and 1 and 2 Thessalonians— relate to the first two groups of writings. The first group, composed of six books, contains the basic revelation concerning Christ and the church, whereas the second group, composed of four books, deals with God’s economy regarding the church. This group covers the dispensation of God with respect to the church. First and 2 Corinthians strengthen both of these groups of Epistles. In these two books we see some further and richer revelation concerning Christ and the church. On the one hand, in 1 and 2 Corinthians we have further riches of Christ; on the other hand, these books strengthen the economy of God concerning the church. Then what about 1 and 2 Thessalonians? In these Epistles Paul shows us our hope, the hope of glory, that is, the appearing of our dear Lord Jesus Christ.
First Timothy unveils to us God’s dispensation concerning the church. It is not easy to present such a brief yet all-inclusive summary of this book. Only when we dig into the depths of this Epistle do we realize that this is the subject. If we get into the depths of this book, we shall see that it can be summarized as a book which speaks of God’s dispensation, His New Testament economy, concerning the church.
In 1:4 Paul uses the marvelous term “God’s dispensation.” This dispensation is an economical administration. Hence, it refers to God’s economy. God’s economy is revealed in four expressions found in 1 Timothy 3: Great is the mystery of godliness; God was manifested in the flesh; the church is the house of the living God; the church is the pillar and base of the truth. God’s dispensation is related to the great mystery of godliness, to the manifestation of God in the flesh, and to the church as both the house of the living God and the pillar and base of the truth. When God’s dispensation is put together with these four matters, we see that 1 Timothy does in fact reveal God’s economy concerning the church.
The purpose of 2 Timothy is to inoculate the church against the decline. On the one hand, an inoculation is positive; on the other hand, it is negative, for it indicates that we need to be protected from a disease that could kill us. Paul’s purpose in writing 2 Timothy was to inoculate the church against decline, degradation, and deterioration.
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