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
At the end of chapter three Paul comes to the high point of God’s economy. In 3:15 and 16 we see the divine standard. But in 5:1-16 Paul comes down to the human level. On the one hand, in the church life we must have the divine standard; on the other hand, we must care for matters on the human level. In 5:8, for example, Paul speaks of providing for our own relatives. All the instructions in this chapter are very human, normal, and ordinary. Nothing is special, miraculous, or supernatural. The whole book is written in the same principle. This is necessary for the church life.
The principle of presenting both the divine standard and the human level is found not only in 1 Timothy, but also in the Epistles of Ephesians and Colossians. In Ephesians Paul first writes concerning the church according to the divine standard. Afterward, on the human level, he writes about husbands, wives, parents, children, slaves, and masters. In like manner, in Colossians Paul first writes about Christ according to the divine standard. Then he speaks on a human level about family matters. In 1 Timothy Paul does not come to the human level directly. Rather, he comes to this level by giving instructions to Timothy. In 5:1-16 Paul tells Timothy how to deal with the saints of different ages. My burden in this message is to cover four points from 5:1-16.
First, all the instructions given here are presented in a very human way. We should never think that if we reach God’s standard, we no longer need to be human. Some believers have been influenced by the false teaching that Christians should be like angels, that it is no longer necessary for them to lead a normal human life. Many monks and priests in Catholicism have a living that is abnormal. Furthermore, the requirement that priests and nuns not be married not only is contrary to humanity, but has its source in demons. According to Paul’s word in 4:1-3, forbidding others to marry is a demonic teaching.
We all need to learn to be human. In fact, the more spiritual we are, the more human we shall be. If we would live Christ, we must learn to be human in a genuine way. When the Lord Jesus was on earth, He was very human.
To damage humanity is to ruin both the means and the channel created by God for His economy. The reason demons and fallen angels forbid marriage and command people to abstain from foods is that their intention is to destroy mankind. Thus, we in the church must be human and follow the standards of normal human living. Some have falsely accused us of not being human. We utterly repudiate these allegations. In the church life we definitely emphasize the proper humanity. I can testify that I myself live in a normal human way. If you examine my living, you will find me to be very human. I am not a “saint” or an angel; I am simply a human being. Furthermore, I encourage all the elders to be human. The elders should not help the saints in their locality to be like angels. We appreciate the angels, but we do not want to imitate them. Instead, we prefer to be human.
We should be human Christians. On the one hand, we have the divine nature (2 Pet. 1:4); on the other hand, we are normal human beings. The fact that we have the divine nature with the divine life does not mean that we shall ever be deified. Rather, we are to live a genuinely human life by the divine life and nature. In this way we shall be able to live the highest human life, a life like that of the Lord Jesus. When He was on earth, He lived a human life by means of the divine life and the divine nature. The Lord’s human living was by the divine life. Our human living should be the same. Thus, we all must learn to be human.
In 5:1-16 we see that Paul instructed his young co-worker Timothy to contact the saints in a human way. Verse 1 says, “Do not upbraid an elderly man, but entreat him as a father.” To entreat an elderly man as a father is surely to behave in a very human manner. In relation to brothers who are a generation older than they, the younger brothers should deal with them as fathers.
Paul also tells Timothy to entreat “younger men as brothers; elderly women as mothers; younger women as sisters.” Timothy was not to assume an elevated position as a bishop, regarding himself as superior to others. On the contrary, he was to behave as a brother to younger brothers and sisters, as a son to a father, and as a son to a mother. In the church life there are many fathers, mothers, brothers, and sisters. To deal with the saints as such is to behave humanly.
Our contact with the saints must be in a proper atmosphere and with the right attitude and spirit. The atmosphere, attitude, and spirit in our contact with others mean a great deal. If a young brother assumes some kind of elevated position in relation to an elderly man, the relationship between them will be damaged. But if he would contact him as a son speaking to a father, their fellowship will be intimate, loving, touching, and even inspiring.
Suppose that in my relationship with the saints I conduct myself as a teacher and treat the saints as my pupils. If this is my attitude, my contact with the saints will be quite poor. But if I am very human in my relationships with the saints and regard myself as a brother among brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, the contact will be loving and intimate. What a difference it makes when we are truly human in our relationships to one another! I repeat, in the church life we all must be human.
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