Thursday, May 30, 2013

You then my son

I've been re-working my way through 2 Timothy lately and two things have particularly struck me freshly. I'm sure I saw them a bit before but they feel clearer and more helpful now. Most of this is in chapters 2-3.
These are just my scribblings.

1. Christian life is Exodus.
I owe this observation to John Stott in his BST on 2 Timothy. And from this I note:
  • 2v10 Paul works for the sake of the elect. The Exodus tells of the liberation of the chosen people.
  • 2v12 Paul's goal is that the elect will reign. The Exodus established Israel as a royal people.
  • 2v19 Paul applies the rebellion of Korah to the false teachers Timothy faces (Num 16). The Lord knows his people, so keep your distance because the ground swallows up rebels.
  • 2v22 Paul tells Timothy to flee (Exodus) from youthful passions.
  • 3v8 Paul compares the fools in the church to Pharaoh's wise men in Exodus 7. Messianic mimics who copy the plagues and make life even worse. More frogs!
So... Christian life is union with Christ.
The shape of Christian life and ministry thus is one of journey with an emphasis on passing through death to resurrection life, of union with the Christ who led his people out of Egypt into the life of God. The Christian life is simplified because its gospel-shaped, death and resurrection are the pattern of life.

2. Christian life is Proverbial.
I owe this observation to GK Beale in his Commentary of the NT use of the OT. And from this I note:
  • 2v1 Paul writes to his spiritual son. Sonship is also Exodus language... Israel were the Son whose liberty was demanded (Exodus 4) and were carried as a son by their father (Deut 1).
  • 2v2, 13 Paul has an emphasis on faithfulness/faithlessness... reflecting the faithfulness/adultery image of Proverbs.
  • 2v7 Paul tells Timothy to reflect and the Lord will give understanding, a Proverbial way of thinking.
  • 2v25 Paul has a "perhaps" emphasis, an uncertainty which has the feel of Proverbial wisdom more than absolute statement.
  • 3v9 There are fools.... but there will be those, like Pharaoh who think Fools are Wise. And Fools will often look Wise.
  • 3v5 The fools appear godly. Lady Wisdom and Dame Folly often say the same things.
  • 3v2-4 It's about love... wisdom is a matter of the heart's love.
  • 3v9 Fools wont get far -- though that's Proverbial more than absolute. Words are seasonal... answer a fool... don't answer a fool... Fools may triumph for a long time, they may thrive, but generally people will see through their folly. And in the end, fools only mimic the gospel... they can't bring salvation through judgement, they can only bring judgement on themselves.
  • Similarly the godly will be persecuted, not always but sometimes.
  • 3v15 Scripture led Timothy to knowledge of Christ, to salvation... it made him wise. 
  • 3v16 Scripture enwisens because it addresses the heart.
  • 3v5 Folly can appear wise but lacks power, but the Spirit-breathes to make wise. Wisdom and the Spirit are connected.
So... Christian life is ambiguous life.
The shape of Christian life is thus messy, not absolute, seasonal (4v2)... because it's about the heart more than appearance. Anyone can conform outwardly (and we all learn to) but only the indwelling Spirit and the Spirit-breathed Word bring real change. How's it going? It depends! At times in death, at times in life, at times enduring, at times reigning. Finally secure, but temporally ambiguous. That's life in the divine family.

3. Christian life is sonship.
Proverbs and Exodus underline the relational shape of Christian life as those fathered by The Father through his Son. Israel were liberated by the God who loved them intervening to liberate his oppressed and enslaved son. In Proverbs King Solomon teaches his royal son the way of wisdom, preparing him for marriage. Sonship runs through Exodus and Proverbs. Both stories of being spiritually fathered. This is the grammar of the gospel and this is the pattern for life and ministry.

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