1st & 2nd Timothy — Lesson 2
Inspiration & the Apostle Paul
A. Why is the Bible Important? Do we place too much emphasis on the written word? Some (even in our own number) would tell us that we do.
1. I submit that we cannot overemphasize the written word. It is the basis for what we believe – it is our authority. Jesus has all authority on heaven and earth – but he speaks to us today only through the written word.
a) God reveals himself to us today in two ways: through creation (Romans 1:20) and through the word.
b) The creation tells us that there is a God. But, it is only through the word that we get the details about who Jesus is, what he did for us, and what we must do to be saved.
(1) The Bible is the source of all that we know about God beyond the general characteristics of his nature that we can discern from his creation.
(2) The first step in teaching anyone about Jesus is to teach them about his word. If they do not accept his word, then they cannot accept him.
(3) If we did not have the Bible (or if we reject the Bible) then we are left merely with human opinions regarding topics about which no human can know without supernatural revelation.
2. We should have the same attitude toward God’s word that the New Testament writers had toward the Scriptures.
a) The Word of God was their supreme authority.
(1) There are 295 quotations from the Old Testament in the New Testament, with many more allusions. At least 10% of the New Testament is material from the Old Testament.
(2) They treated the Old Testament as an absolute authority. They did not attempt to correct it or pit one Old Testament book or saying against another. They assumed that it spoke with a unified voice.
b) How did Paul use the Old Testament?
(1) Hebrews includes many Old Testament quotations, but with regard to only two of them is the human author mentioned (9:20; 12:21). In all other cases it is God the Father, Christ, or the Holy Spirit who speaks (see 1:5-13; 2:12-13; 3:7-11).
(2) Second Timothy 3:13-17: All scripture is God breathed. It has a divine (not human) origin. Some men spend their life learning but are never able to come to a knowledge of the truth (3:1-9), but the believer comes to know the truth by the scriptures.
c) How did Jesus use the Old Testament?
(1) Matthew 4:1-11 (to combat Satan)
(2) John 17:17 (“Thy word is truth.”)
(3) John 1:1 (Jesus is the word made flesh)
(a) What about images? The first commandment given to the Israelites was that they have no other gods. And the second commandment? God told them not to exalt images. In God’s first written communication to his people, written on tablets of stone by God himself, he told his people not to exalt images.
d) But what about the New Testament?
(1) First Timothy 5:18 quotes two passages from “the Scriptures” – one from Deut. 25:4 and the other from Luke 10:7 (worker deserves his wages).
(2) Second Peter 3:14-18 refers to the writings of Paul as scriptures.
(3) First Corinthians 2:13 (speak in words taught by Spirit)
(4) First Corinthians 14:37 (Paul wrote Lord’s command)
B. Why then study about the human authors?
1. Grand Theme Theory – leave details to human author.
a) This theory must be rejected. Every single word in the Bible was chosen by God.
(1) Galatians 3:16 (seed or seeds)
(2) Matthew 22:23-33 (I am the God of…)
2. Dictation Theory – leave nothing to the human author.
a) This theory must also be rejected.
b) The books have very different styles and different vocabularies.
3. Fountain Pen Theory – God expresses himself through the human author.
a) Just like we write differently with a fountain pen than with a crayon, God expresses himself differently with different authors.
A. When Christianity began it faced a very difficult problem. The message of Christianity was meant for all of mankind yet Christianity was cradled in Judaism.
1. From a human perspective, no message meant for the entire world could have a more unfortunate cradle.
2. The Jews were involved in a double hatred ¾ the world hated them and they hated the world.
3. No nation was ever more bitterly hated than the Jews.
a) Cicero called the Jewish religion a barbarous superstition.
b) Tacitus called the Jewish nation the vilest of people.
4. No nation ever hated other nations as the Jews did.
a) Although some Jews realized that the Jews were meant to be a light to the Gentiles to lead them to God, most Jews were convinced that since they were the chosen nation all other nations must be rejected nations.
b) Some said that the Gentiles were created by God to be fuel for the fires of Hell.
c) It was forbidden to give a Gentile mother any help when it was time to deliver her child since to do so would only help bring another Gentile into the world.
d) Many Jews would refuse to offer any help to Gentiles; even refusing to give them directions on the road.
e) Rumors among the Gentiles at the time were that some Jews had taken an oath never to show any kindness to a Gentile and even Josephus mentioned the rumor that Jewish religious ceremonies began with the yearly sacrifice of a Gentile.
f) One author of the day wrote that the Jews “alone of all nations refuse all fellowship and intercourse with other nations and suppose all men to be enemies.”
5. Thus, Christianity had a problem. It had a message for all men yet in the eyes of the world it was a Jewish thing, and the Jews were the most bitterly hated and hating people in the ancient world.
6. What was needed was a man who could form a bridge between the Jewish world and the Greek world.
B. God chose Paul to be this bridge. Why?
1. First, let’s consider the Jewishness of Paul.
a) To the end of his life, Paul was proudly, stubbornly, unalterably a Jew.
b) In 2 Cor. 11:22 he wrote “Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? So am I.”
(1) When he claimed to be a Hebrew he was saying that unlike many Jews who had forgotten their native language in favor of Greek, he still spoke Hebrew.
(2) When he claimed to be an Israelite he was claiming to be a member of the nation that had first received the covenants from God.
(3) When he claimed to be of the seed of Abraham he was claiming absolute racial purity. He made similar claims in Philippians 3:4-6 and Romans 11:1 where he also reminded his readers that he was of the tribe of Benjamin. Why was this important?
(a) It was from Benjamin that the first king of Israel came.
(b) Benjamin and Judah were the only two tribes that stood true to Rehoboam when the kingdom split.
(c) Benjamin was the only son of Jacob that was born in the land of promise.
(d) When Israel went to battle, the tribe of Benjamin held the post of honor (Judges 5:14; Hosea 5:8).
(4) Paul was not just an Israelite; he was of the aristocracy of Israel.
(a) Indeed, he was a Pharisee. (Phil. 3:5; Acts 23:6).
(b) Recall that his fellow Pharisees even rose to his support in Acts 23.
c) No Jewish critic of Paul could ever criticize his Jewishness.
(1) No one could say that Paul abandoned Judaism because he did not understand it or because he had not fully experienced it.
(2) No one could say that Paul misunderstood Judaism or knew it only from the outside.
(3) Like an insider who writes a tell‑tale memoir he knew Judaism inside and out and gained instant respect (in that regard) from his critics.
d) Although Paul became the apostle to the Gentiles he was not bitter toward the Jews.
(1) In Romans 9:3 he said that he would gladly be accursed if he could only bring the Jews to salvation.
(2) He did not have a bitter hatred about what he had left.
(3) He never forgot his Jewish origin and in fact in 1 Cor. 9:20 he said that “unto the Jews I became as a Jew.”
e) Further, Paul was a man of one book ¾ the Old Testament.
(1) Although he was brought up in a Greek city and had all of the wealth of Greek literature available to him he only quotes non‑Biblical sources twice.
(a) In Acts 17:28 he quotes the Greek poet Aratus and in Titus 1:12 he quotes the poet Epimenides.
(2) Paul used the Old Testament in a legal sense using “it is written” to introduce a condition that is unquestionable and unalterable. Paul viewed the Old Testament as the voice of God.
f) Paul’s reasoning in his epistles could be used in a textbook on logic.
(1) He carefully weaves his arguments and demolishes the arguments of his opponents point by point.
(2) Some authors among us today have voiced the ridiculous view that a rational and logical view of scripture was something that was introduced during the restoration movement and was largely based upon the work of English philosopher John Locke.
(a) Nothing could be further from the truth. God speaking to Judah through Isaiah said come let us reason together, and he says the same thing to us every time we read his word.
(b) When people seek to abandon reason they do so because they don’t like the conclusions that reason has brought them to.
(i) Faith is NOT opposed to reason – rather it is contrasted with sight. But what does God tell us about the opposite of faith? (2 Cor. 5:7).
(ii) Nowhere are we told to abandon reason in favor of faith or to accept God’s claims despite evidence to the contrary.
(iii) God does not expect us to believe in him despite the evidence but because of the evidence.
g) Thus, Paul was ideally suited to understand the Jewish nature of Christianity.
2. Why was he perfectly suited to take it to the Gentiles?
a) Paul was certain that it was his unique privilege and responsibility to be the apostle to the Gentiles.
(1) God told Ananias that Paul was his chosen vessel to bear his name before the Gentiles (Acts 9:15).
(2) In Acts 13:47 Paul said that God had commanded him to be a light to the Gentiles.
(3) When the Jews of Corinth rejected him, Paul told them in Acts 18:6 that from then on he would go unto the Gentiles.
(4) In Romans, Paul calls himself an apostle to the Gentiles (Rom. 11:13).
(5) In Gal. 1:16 he said that the very purpose Christ was revealed to him was that he might preach him among the Gentiles.
(6) In Ephesians 3:1, Paul describes himself as a prisoner of Christ for the Gentiles.
b) Paul’s purpose was to bring Christianity to the Gentile world and he was acutely aware of that purpose.
c) It is interesting that of all the apostles that had spent so much time with Jesus, God chose Paul to perform this crucial task. What were Paul’s qualifications for this task?
(1) First of all, Paul was a citizen of Tarsus ¾ something of which he was very proud.
(a) Paul told the military commander in Acts 21:39 that he was a Jew of Tarsus, a citizen of no mean city.
(b) When he addressed the hostile mob in Acts 22 he said “I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia.”
(2) Why was Tarsus special?
(a) It had been a city as far back as 860 B.C. when Shalmaneser of Assyria listed it among his conquests.
(b) Five hundred years later Alexander the Great caught a chill while bathing in one its icy rivers and nearly died.
(c) Three hundred years later, Mark Antony was in Tarsus preparing for war against the Parthians.
(d) He suspected at the time that Cleopatra was plotting against him so he summoned her to come to the city which she did ¾ sailing on a barge and dressed like the goddess Venus.
(e) Tarsus was in the province of Cilicia and was a great center of trade.
(i) It was especially famous for making goats’ hair felt used to make tent cloth. (Recall that Paul was a tent‑maker.)
(ii) Tarsus was a great commercial city with a large protected harbor.
(f) Tarsus was also a university town.
(i) One of Tarsus’ greatest exports was its scholars who went to teach in many other universities.
(ii) Tarsus was particularly famous for its philosophers from the Stoic school. At one time the scholars from the university also governed the city.
(g) Tarsus was lucky enough to have always chosen the right side in a number of civil wars.
(i) Thus, it had been awarded the status of a civitas libera, a free city, self‑governing and independent.
(3) Thus, Paul was born in a cosmopolitan center of trade and learning that was steeped in history.
(a) No better training ground could be found for a missionary to the world.
3. Paul had another more important qualification ¾ he was a Roman citizen.
a) After Paul was scourged and his Roman citizenship was discovered, the local magistrates in Acts 16 offered a terrified and abject apology.
b) In Acts 22 Paul’s Roman citizenship saved him from an examination under the lash.
c) In Acts 25 no one could deny Paul’s appeal to Caesar because he was a Roman citizen.
d) Why was Roman citizenship important?
(1) No Roman citizen could be bound or scourged.
(2) No Roman citizen could be crucified.
(3) If a man claimed Roman citizenship, no matter where he was, to the ends of the earth, the might and majesty of Rome was behind him.
(4) Cicero wrote, “How often has this exclamation, ‘I am a Roman citizen,’ brought aid and safety even among barbarians in the remotest parts of the earth!”
e) Paul was not ashamed of his Roman citizenship.
(1) He insisted on a public apology from the local magistrates who had wrongly beaten him in Acts 16.
(2) When the commander in Acts 22 told Paul that he had bought his citizenship at great price, Paul proudly responded that he was free born.
f) Paul’s Roman citizenship gave him safe‑conduct to the ends of the earth.
g) How did Paul’s family receive that citizenship?
(1) Consider the following facts:
(a) Paul was born in Tarsus (Acts 22:3).
(b) Paul was a Pharisee (Acts 23:6).
(c) Paul’s father was a Pharisee (Acts 23:6).
(d) No Pharisee would live outside the holy land unless there was some compelling reason to do so.
(e) Roman citizenship could be purchased as in Acts 22:28 but no Pharisee would ever have done that.
(f) Citizenship could be granted for service to the empire but this also seems unlikely for a Pharisee.
(g) Sometimes citizenship was given as a mark of favor to an entire population of a city or area; this may be how Paul received his citizenship.
(2) It seems likely that for whatever reason (perhaps, persecution or the invasion of Jerusalem by Pompey in 63 B.C. ¾ however the providence of God chose to place him there!) Paul’s family became citizens of Tarsus.
(a) In 47 B.C. Julius Caesar came to Tarsus on his eastern campaign and the citizens were so enthusiastic that they changed the name of their city to Juliopolis (although it didn’t last). Many Tarsians received their citizenship then.
4. However, he received his citizenship, Paul was a Roman citizen and he was brought up in a city that made him as familiar with Greek and Roman culture as he was with his own Jewish culture.
a) For Christianity to spread throughout the world a unique person was needed, and Paul was that unique person.
b) He was a man of two worlds. Although he was a Hebrew of the Hebrews he knew the Romans and the Greeks as few Jews knew them.
c) Some today teach that the church in an afterthought.
(1) They say that God intended to set up an earthly kingdom in the first century but decided instead to wait for a few thousand years and set up the church in the meantime.
(2) Does this make sense after what we have just studied?
(3) It seems clear that God was working behind the scenes to produce the apostle Paul long before Jesus was even born! The church is not an afterthought but instead has been a part of God’s plan since the beginning.
God's Plan of Salvation
You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)
You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)
You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)
You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)
Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!
Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)