Paul calls himself an apostle of Christ Jesus, one sent by God. The term designates an office that he held by the command of God and the choice of the risen Christ (1:11; 2:7; Rom 1:1; 1 Cor 1:1; 2 Cor 1:1; Gal 1:1). This was not simply biographical data that might interest the readers. Rather, Paul's reference to his office signifies the authority from God by which he preaches, teaches and writes. Although he did not need to convince Timothy of this, the letter was meant to be aired before the whole church (see on 6:21). Paul wanted his hearers/readers to know that his teaching is authoritative, and the delegate who administered it to the community, Timothy, was to be regarded as an extension of the apostle himself. In view of the difficult task that faced him, this may have been an encouraging reminder for Timothy as well.
But this reminder is also a timely one for us today. Questions have arisen within the church concerning the authority of Scripture. Cults and sects continue to multiply, and their ability to confuse the unwary with their doctrinal subtleties is as threatening to the church today as it was when Paul wrote. It falls to ministers of the gospel and church leaders to guide the church through this murky water, while at the same time attempting to address issues like those Paul addressed through Timothy centuries ago. Where does our authority for this task come from? Like Timothy, we depend on the apostle whose writings are invested with the authority of God.
Paul's reference is to God our Savior. It is a designation that Paul confined to the Pastoral Epistles, and with this phrase the apostle introduces his main theme, salvation. He chose with equal care the additional reference to Christ Jesus our hope. At the core of the false teaching Timothy faced was an out-of-balance view of salvation: the heretics proclaimed that the End had come and the resurrection had occurred (2 Tim 2:18; see introduction), and the return of Christ was all but forgotten. Here at the outset Paul begins to assert his balanced theology: this is the age of salvation, but salvation's completion awaits the Second Coming of Christ, our hope.
IVP New Testament Commentaries are made available by the generosity of InterVarsity Press.
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