Home Bible Study©
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)
Established November 2008 Published: December 8, 2019
For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:3-4).
Welcome to HBS everyone.
We recently completed our study of Paul’s letter to the Philippians, so our next undertaking is Paul’s letter to the Believers at Colosse.
Introduction to Colossians
Colossians 1:1, identifies our Apostle Paul as the author of this letter. My English teacher taught me to the proper place for my name (signature) is at the end of the letter. In Paul’s day it was customary for the writer to identify them self in the opening of their communication or work and then list their credentials. This is what Paul is doing:
“Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus our brother,”
Colossians was written circa 60-61 AD during Paul’s first imprisonment in Rome, where he spent at least two years “under house arrest” awaiting trial before the Roman Emperor Nero (Acts 28:16-31). Some people believe he wrote Colossians from Ephesus or Caesarea, but the biblical evidence favors Rome. In fact, all his prison letters (Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon) were penned while he was “the prisoner of Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 3:1) in Rome.
Long before Paul’s day, Colosse was a leading city in Asia Minor (present-day Turkey). It was located on the Lycus River and on the great east-west trade route leading from Ephesus on the Aegean Sea to the Euphrates River. By the first century AD Colosse was reduced to a second-rate market town, which had been surpassed long before by its neighboring towns of Laodicea and Hierapolis (4:13).
The Colossian churches were made up of gentiles for the most part (2:13). They had been introduced to the Lord Jesus Christ by Epaphras (1:7) and not Paul. In fact, as we read on we learn Paul never visited the Colossian churches (1:4-5, 2:1). But, be that as it may, in this letter we learn of his great love and concern for the people he never met. He continually prayed for them and with much thanksgiving for their salvation (1:3).
But this assembly was being exposed to local heresy’s that threatened to undermine the gospel of grace and their faith (2:5-8, 18). These issues led to Epaphras’ visit to Rome to consult with Paul (Philemon 23). He told him about the heretical doctrine circulating in the churches at Colosse. In response to Epaphras plea for guidance, Paul wrote this letter to the Colossians, which is also to be read in the church at Laodicea (4:16) in an attempt to check the heresy’s influence on these new Believers.
Paul describes the heretical teachings he opposed in the Colossian letter but doesn’t identify them directly. Some of those errant teachings could be categorized as: ceremonialism the practice that held to strict rules regarding the kinds of permissible food and drink, religious festivals (2:16-17), and the religious rite of circumcision (2:11, 3:11); asceticism or self-discipline in the extreme, i.e. “do not handle, taste, or touch” (2:21-23); Angel worship (2:18); the insufficiency of Christ Jesus which is implied by Paul’s emphasis on the Supremacy of Christ (1:15-20, 2:2, 3:9); and reliance on human wisdom and traditions (2:4-8). These elements fall into two categories, Jewish and Gnostic (relating to knowledge, especially esoteric mystical knowledge). Thus, the heresy in Colosse was a mixture of an extreme form of Judaism and an early stage of Gnosticism (2:23).
Purpose and Theme
The letters purpose was to refute the Colossian heresy, to demonstrate the superiority of Christ Jesus, and to confirm and edify the relatively new Believers in the faith.
The theme of this letter is the supremacy of Christ. Paul presents the risen Lord as fully God (2:9), as the Creator God (1:16), as preeminent over the universe and His Church (1:17), and as our Savior (1:20-21). Because Christ Jesus is over all, the Colossians are “complete in Him” (2:10), that is, He is more than adequate in that He alone can meet all their spiritual needs. Therefore, the Colossians should worship God the Father through Him alone and depend of Him only for their salvation, refusing to rely on vain philosophy, secret knowledge, or legalism in an attempt to secure God’s divine favor.
One final note before we dig into Colossians. Please know Paul doesn’t communicate with the grace churches just to say hello there’s always church-related issues and conflicts to settle. Wherever the Revelation of the Mystery was being preached people rose up in opposition to its message. The only difference today is the date on the calendar, otherwise, this practice is ongoing; people of all creeds oppose Paul’s gospel of grace (Romans 2:16), and their not likely to take a shine to you for bringing it up. But bring it up we must for every Believer is Christ’s ambassador on earth. This is our ministry today and not “the great commission.” (2 Corinthians 5:11-21).
********Please open your Bible at Colossians 1:1-2.
“Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus our brother, To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
“Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus our brother,” (1:1a) - here our Apostle Paul identified himself as the author of this letter, as he does to the churches at Rome, Corinth, and Ephesus (Romans 1:1; 1 Corinthians 1:1; 2 Corinthians 1:1, and Ephesians 1:1). However, we should not assume he penned this letter himself. In most cases Paul dictated his thoughts to a scribe who in turn wrote Paul’s words down (Romans 16:22). The exception to this rule might be Paul’s letter to the Galatians:
“Ye see how large a letter I have written unto you with mine own hand” (Galatians 6:11).
The phrase “I have written” could mean Paul dictated this letter to a scribe. But the reference to “large letters” might be telling us Paul wrote it himself. The usage of large letters could be related to a physical malady (disease) or the direct result of the stoning he received from his antagonists in Lystra (Acts 14:19-20). He also declared that the Galatians would have plucked out their own eyes and given them to him (Galatians 4:13-15). Some folks believe this was Paul’s “thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan” (2 Corinthians 12:7). But ultimately these beliefs are merely conjecture; no one knows for certain and this book does not reveal these truths to us. Therefore, I remind my classes frequently not to major on the minors, and always, repeat, always “walk by faith not by sight.” The thing we are certain of is Paul is the author of Colossians.
Furthermore, he’s “…an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God,” – here Paul presents his divine credentials letting his readers know he is their apostle “by the will of God.” In other words, Paul didn’t wake up one morning calling himself God’s apostle. In actuality, he was known as the chief persecutor of those who believed in Jesus’ name or the gospel of the kingdom. While enroute to persecute the Christians at Damascus, the risen Lord saved him by grace alone and then called him “to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:
Before this Church event the gentiles had no apostle to call their own (Ephesians 2). Despite what you’re hearing at church I echo what this book teaches, specifically, the twelve apostles at Jerusalem had no ministry with the gentiles and this includes the revered Apostle Peter (Matthew 10:1-7; see also the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15 and Acts 10). So then, Paul is not the “thirteenth apostle,” and the twelve didn’t make a mistake in choosing Mathias as Judas’ replacement (Acts 2:15-26). God doesn’t make mistakes! So then, want to make this very clear men did not choose Paul or make him an apostle. He was called to be the Apostle to the Gentiles by the will of God the Father through Christ Jesus:
“ But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ” (Galatians 1:12-13).
Therefore, we must understand our Apostle Paul had a very different ministry than the twelve and that his ministry superseded theirs. This is why Paul wrote this message to the Believers in Rome:
“For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office:” (Romans 11:13)
Paul isn’t boasting in the flesh here, as some will tell you, instead he’s trying to provoke his fellow countrymen, i.e. God’s chosen nation of Israel to jealousy:
“If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh (his Jewish countrymen), and might save some of them” (Romans 11:14).
Even though Paul is the apostle to the gentiles he expressed empathy for the nation of Israel who for the most part are blind to the truth re: the revelation of the mystery of God’s Grace:
“For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in” (Romans 11:25).
“Now to him that is of power to stablish you (how) according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith: To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for ever. Amen.”(Romans 16:25-27; see also Galatians 1:11-23)
Returning to our text, Paul ends 1:1 recognizing Timothy his co-laborer in the cause of Christ: “and Timotheus our brother…” Paul mentioned Timothy frequently in his writings (see Acts 17:14, 18:5, 19:22, 20:4; Romans 16:21; 1 Corinthians 4:17, 16:10; 2 Corinthians 1:1, 19; Philippians 11:1, 2:19; Colossians 1:1; 1 Thessalonians 1:1, 3:2, 6; 2 Thessalonians 1:1; 1 Timothy 1:2, 18, 6:20; 2 Timothy 1:2; Philemon 1:1; Hebrews 13:23).
Paul described him as “my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord,” (1 Corinthians 4:17). In 1 Timothy 1:2 he wrote “Timothy my true child in the faith;” and in 2 Timothy 1:2 he addressed him as “Timothy my beloved child.” Paul’s saying he and Timothy had a father-son relationship (1 Corinthians 4:15).
Without a doubt Timothy was one of Paul’s best-known companions and evidently one of his converts. He was a resident either of Lystra or Derbe. Paul evangelized these two cities on his 1st missionary journey (Acts 14:6). There are some scripture references that lead us to believe of these two cities Lystra was Timothy's hometown. For instance, in Acts 20:4 in a list of Paul's friends there are the names of "Gaius of Derbe, and Timothy"; this might be saying Timothy was not "of Derbe." And in Acts 16:3, the brethren who gave Paul the favorable report about Timothy were "at Lystra and Iconium"; the brethren from Derbe are not mentioned, which again might mean Timothy called Lystra his hometown.
In 2 Timothy 3:10-11 Paul mentioned Timothy had fully known the persecutions and afflictions which came to him at Antioch, at Iconium and at Lystra. These persecutions occurred during his first visit to these towns; and it would seem Timothy was one of the people Paul converted. I say this because we find that on Paul's subsequent visit to Lystra and Derbe, Timothy is identified as one of the “disciples” there:
"Then came he to Derbe and Lystra: and, behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timotheus, the son of a certain woman, which was a Jewess, and believed; but his father was a Greek: Which was well reported of by the brethren that were at Lystra and Iconium" (Acts 16:1-2).
In 2 Timothy 1:5 we learn Timothy's “father was a Greek,” that is, a gentile and his mother was “a Jewess.” Timothy had not been circumcised in infancy probably because his father objected. His mother’s name was Eunice, and his grandmother, Lois:
“When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also.”
Clearly, Eunice had been converted during Paul’s first missionary journey to Derbe and Lystra just like Timothy because when he returned to these cities she is spoken of as “a Jewess who believed" (Acts 16:1).
During Paul’s second visit to Derbe and Lystra, he was drawn to Timothy’s unfeigned faith; from childhood he had been taught the O.T. Scriptures (2 Timothy 3:15). Moreover, having received favorable reports about his character and deportment “…by the brethren that were at Lystra and Iconium…” (Acts 16:2), and his suitability for the work of the ministry, Paul wanted him "to go forth with him" preaching the gospel of grace (Acts 16:3).
Prior to heading out as a fellow laborer in the cause of Christ Jesus Paul had Timothy circumcised. The reason for this was twofold: 1) It was meant to appease the Jewish Christians who would otherwise raise an unnecessary ruckus and the fact that he was uncircumcised would weaken Timothy’s position and his work for the Lord. 2) Paul agreed to this procedure because Timothy’s mother was a Jewess. But it’s worth noting Paul’s logic did not apply to Titus. Before they went up to Jerusalem to confront the Jewish Believers and the twelve regarding Paul’s ministry to the gentiles, he refused to allow circumcision to be performed on him (Acts 15:2) for Titus, unlike Timothy, was a gentile from birth (see Genesis 17).
“To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Here Paul identifies the recipients of this letter “To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse:”
Having been water baptized into and raised as a Roman Catholic, I’m aware of the lengthy process one must undergo to be recognized as a saint in the Catholic church. There are five steps:
1) The person’s local bishop investigates their life by gathering information from witnesses of their life and any writings they may have penned. If the bishop finds them worthy of being a saint, then he submits the information he gathered to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints.
2) The Congregation for the Causes of Saints can choose to reject the application or accept it and begin their own investigation of the person’s life. If the application is accepted, the person may be called Servant of God.
3) If the Congregation for the Causes of Saints approves of the candidate, they can choose to declare the person lived a virtuous life. This isn’t a declaration that the person is in heaven, but that they pursued holiness while here on earth. If this is indeed found to be the case, the person may be called Venerable.
4) To be recognized as someone in heaven requires that a miracle has taken place through the intercession of that person. The miracle is usually a healing. The healing has to be instantaneous, permanent, and complete while also being scientifically unexplainable. Miracles have to be first verified as scientifically unexplainable by a group of independent doctors, then the person is approved by a panel of theologians, and then the final approval lies with the pope. If this is the case, a person is declared a blessed.
5) A second miracle is needed in order to declare someone a saint. The confirmation of a second miracle goes through the same scrutiny as the first.
This five-step process is a general outline for how someone becomes a saint by Catholic standards. There are definitely exceptions to this process and situations that may change the process as well. By-the-by, this process is lengthy it can take many years or even centuries.
Returning to our text, according to God’s Word, there isn’t even a hint of this five-step process before a person is recognized as a “saint, in Christ” The only thing required of you to become a saint, that is, a member of the Body of Christ, is believe the Lord Jesus Christ shed His blood for your sin, was buried, and then rose from the dead on the third day, according to the scriptures (see 1 Corinthians 15:1-4).
The word “saint” is derived from the Koine Greek word hagios, which literally means “set apart to God for His purpose." It is almost always used in the plural, “saints” (Acts 9:13, 32, 26:10). I say almost because the word “saints” appears 67 times in the N.T. whereas the term saint appears only once in Philippians 4:21. But even though Paul used the singular form in his letter to the Philippians writing, “every saint;” a plurality of saints is understood. Eurodias and Syntyche may not have been behaving as saints, but in spite of their foolish behavior, they are still recognized as being saints, in Christ.
The Scriptures have something to say about the godly character of saints, in Christ:
"That ye receive her in the Lord, as becometh saints,” (Romans 16:2).
"For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:” (Ephesians 4:12).
"But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;" (Ephesians 5:3).
So then, every Believer is a saint by virtue of their personal relationship with the Christ Jesus. This is of God and not man. Therefore, scripturally speaking, the “saints” are the Body of Christ, a.k.a. the Church. First Corinthians 1:2 states this clearly:
“Unto the church (ekklesia) of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:”
“…Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
The KJV Dictionary defines the grace of God as “the free unmerited love and favor of God, the spring and source of all the benefits men receive from him.” So, in the Bible, the grace of God is His loving favor toward fallen mankind from which every spiritual blessing flows. Our Apostle Paul has more to say about God’s grace than any other Bible writer. He opens every one of his epistles or letters with the declaration, “Grace be unto you and peace.”
This doesn’t surprise me because Paul was the first person saved by God’s grace, alone. Paul remarks on this in 1 Timothy 1:12-16:
“And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief (Paul’s not saying he is the worst sinner that ever lived; he’s saying he was the first person saved by God’s grace - alone). Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.
After many years of suffering for serving the risen Lord, he declared:
“But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify (to what exactly) the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24).
Salvation is wholly by God’s grace, not in addition to man’s works, for in Romans 11:6 we read: “And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.”
And in Romans 4:5: “…to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”
Thus salvation is “not of works” but “unto good works “which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:8-10).
Romans 3:23 clearly says, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” but thanks be to God that all who believe the gospel of grace may be “justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:” (Romans 3:24).
God’s desires that all men be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 1:4). “That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:7).
“Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (1:2b).
This “grace and peace” Paul speaks of is one of the themes of Paul’s message to all the saints, in Christ Jesus. This is because God prophesied in the O.T. that (not if but) when mankind rejects the Lord Jesus Christ, He will judge them. This prophesy is still in play folks. Although God the Father has temporarily interrupted the Prophetic Program which concerns the nation of Israel primarily, the Lord Jesus Christ is coming back again one day future:
“And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war” (Revelation 19:11).
The Lord isn’t coming back to restore harmony and peace even though many people think so. What is this Bible verse telling us? When He returns it is to judge and make war with Satan and all those who oppose Him! Judgement and war are the very opposite of grace and peace. The nation of Israel and the world rejected God’s Son and publicly humiliated Him by hanging him on a Roman cross to die. Because of their unbelief they will be judged, by the righteous Creator God:
“Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist” (Colossians 1:15-17; Acts 2:22-23).
Don’t just read through that passage of Scripture let it sink in…
(To be continued. Publication date uncertain).
© Copyright 2011
GJ Heitzman’s Ministry
All Rights Reserved