Friday, April 18, 2008

Sermon Help: From Timothy to New York City?

My sermon text for this Sunday is a private correspondence from an older Apostle (Paul) to a Young Pastor (Timothy). Specifically, my text is: 2 Timothy 2. Read it. Lots of great stuff in that text. Here is how it begins:
You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.
My three main questions are:
  • How do you synthesize so many ideas? There is so much in there. So many imperatives. Can you boil it down to a couple of ideas for me?
  • What are the 'must include' things in the text for a sermon?
  • How do I apply it to a congregation? I mean, it is a Pastoral Epistle. It is the Apostle Paul to Pastor Timothy, which would make it great at a Pastor's conference; less obvious for church. How do we eavesdrop into a private correspondence and apply it to a church of NON-pastors/elders?
Go ahead, do my work for me...


Pic is probably NOT Timothy, but from wiki instead.


sam said...

Advice from Paul: Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.
Hope it goes well!

Anonymous said...

i have also seen this verse used to launch into instructions on discipling. Disciples eventually making disciples.

mandy said...

so a non-"pastor" is not capable, qualified, called, equipped, empowered and *required*, to invest in people's lives with the gospel-- eventually seeing the time when they too do the same for others? and so the cycle follows on...???????

let's mobilise! multiply!
do we need more paid "pastors" to feel like this passage is specifically for them, or do we need more *workers* who read and respond to examples in scripture?


Justin said...

Whoa Mandy.

mandy said...



Justin said...

You've made an enormous amount of assumptions, Mandy. The point, of course, is that Timothy is a single person who is pastoring a church. How do we make that link to someone who isn't Timothy? That is my question...

Justin said...

I'd encourage you to show me how you would use this text to mobilize more people for discipleship.

Eun said...

I love the soldier and athlete illustration. I know Christians tend to get denigrated to sub-par standards (or even less!) in society's eyes, but I like the reminder that we are more than we believe ourselves to be (when we think we don't add up to much or just one in a million faces) and more than what society tells us we are.
The share in the suffering part also strikes me because it kind of make me uncomfortable, and I think things in scripture that make you uncomfortable should always be given a second glance (and maybe a third, a sixth). The command to share in suffering is very direct... maybe it's because a comfortable niche in the world and a comfortable niche as a Christian in your church and circle of family and friends is what I tend to seek the most and perhaps it's not where my focus or pursuit should be at all.
just some thoughts at 12:30 in the am.

mandy said...

i'm sorry

Justin said...

Eun -- shall comment tomorrow!

Mandy -- Don't be sorry. God has given you a great passion. I'd be keen, though, for you making a case, rather than expressing disapproval. Does that make sense?

sam said...

Perhaps a question this passage asks the church is: how can we encourage our pastors to be 1 Tim 2 material?

The other angle may be to point out 1 Tim 3 which reminds us that desiring to be an overseer is a noble task. Here in 1 Tim 2 Paul is urging Timothy to be on the lookout for 'reliable men'. And yet there seems to be a cost... enduring hardship etc. If they desire to be an elder, one entrusted with the gospel of God then they better be ready to serve as a soldier, an athlete, a farmer...

but i may read this in a day or two and think what i suggested is rubbish. That is generally the way my sermon prep goes. "Yeah, that works..." Two days later: "Nah, back tot he drawing board!"

Scott said...

What about this.

The thing the 3 examples have in common is diligence and hard work. That seems to be the non negotiable in Christian work. You gotta work hard.

Taking a sidestep now . . .

We assume that that Paul to Tim is the mentor talking to the local pastor telling him to train his congregation. But isn't it more that Timothy was like the local roving theological college? The reliable men that he was to entrust the message to were not the members of the congregation but the leaders of the house churches. Then they, presumable, were to pass it on to their flocks.

Does this change anything? (Is it right?!:))

And by the way, in the picture of 'Timothy' he has a really weird poofy hand.

Turns said...

Well, Paul says to Timothy to 'entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also'. Therefore the advice that Paul is giving Timothy about teaching should be passed down to the faithful people too, as they will then be teaching other faithful people too.

So in your sermon you can apply what is being tought to Timothy to the faithful people in your congregation who are suitable to be teachers.

Those who you wouldn't yet consider to be faithful people, encourage them to become so and give them advice on how to get there. Although they may currently need milk and not solid food, the aim is always to be weaned off this eventually rather than simply be suckling your whole christian life.

I'm not sure if I've missed the point though...

Anonymous said...

perhaps some sermon questions to answer:
1-why disciple at all?
2-the call to Christian maturity: Paul talks about boxers who don't punch against the air but only runners who make every step count win the prize. i believe the athlete differs from the soldier.

the athlete competes with other athletes, christians competing with others for rewards (NOT THEIR SALVATION). Romans says those not competing, building with straw, will still be saved from the fire (not their work) but as a refugee.

the soldier is more akin to the ephesians metaphor of fitting ourselves with the full armor of God. this is contending (not competing) against the enemies of the cross, Paul's wording, and John's characterization of the many antichrists who have already come into the world, even into the church.

There is a hierarchy to heaven (James and John asked to be at his right hand) for the mature and who will be the ones to help Him govern in the Kingdom of Heaven (1 Peter calls the early church a people of priests and kings).

Why did Jesus call disciples and why did He ask them to pray for laborers?

TANGENT ALERT: not sermon material but in case you get Q&A: (Perhaps something to anticipate?) some consider evangelism sinister, and discipling altogether intolerable.

this is not really sermon material but blog material, but in jesus camp:
some christians and non-christians see this as going too far, and other christians and non-christians saying there discipling is akin to brain washing. "good" religion the latter argue should be like early buddhism, you find your own enlightenment in a highly invdividualized private manner and more contemporary "sprituality" (in contrast to faith) views that argues spiritual matters are private matters. it is interesting to see how our intelligentsia trace their lineage back to greco roman thoughts. it only appears in the apocrypha (definitely not sermon material) but the outlawing of the public reading of the torah and the outlawing of the gathering to hear the torah...that kind of suppression led to the fomenting of the macabee revolt, precipitated by the abomination that causes desolation.

Benjamin Ady said...

Nobody ever tells me "Don't be sorry" when I get all passionate and then apologize.

Actually, they do. Never mind.

Justin said...

That's tops, Benjamin.

But it is harder to imagine two more different people that you and Mandy!!


Gordon Cheng said...

Small point:

a private correspondence from an older Apostle (Paul) to a Young Pastor (Timothy)

Isn't it 'public' correspondence, both by intention and by definition?

Justin said...


I get 'intention', and I addressed that in the sermon.

What do you mean by definition?


Justin said...

I guess you mean - -because its now public, right? Like Richard Lane and Micheal Kirby once had a private correspondence, and it it now public?

As in, can't be both?h