Monday, January 12, 2015

Lessons for Leaders - #14 - 2 Timothy 1

Lesson 14   “Courage for the Gospel” 2 Timothy 1:1-18
ID: Inductive Questions (Asking the text questions like who, what, where, when, why, & how?”)
CR: Cross References (Comparing Scripture to Scripture, understanding the vague by the clear.)
WS: Word Study (Understanding definition, theological meaning, and usages in other passages.)
The WORD: What does the Bible say?
Context: Read all four chapters in 2 Timothy if you have time.  Look for hints about where Paul was when he wrote this letter (1:8, 16: 2:9; 4:6)?  Keep an eye out for repeated words and ideas.  What is the main theme or “melodic line” for 2 Timothy (1:7-8; 2:3-4; 3:14-15; 4:5-7)?  Read 2 Timothy 1:1-18 again in a more literal or more dynamic translation than you usually use.
1.     ID: (1:1-5) What do we learn about Paul and Timothy in these verses?
2.     ID: (1:6, 8, 13, 14) What was Timothy commanded to do in this chapter?  What reasons were given for each command?
3.     WS: (1:11) What were Paul’s three roles toward the gentiles?  What is the difference between them?
4.     CR: (1:12) What had Paul committed to the Lord?  What is “that day?” (Start your study with a review of how Paul uses this phrase in his letters to the Thessalonians and Timothy.)
5.     ID: (1:15-18) Who were Phygellus and Hermogenes?  Who was Onesiphorus, and what did he do to help Paul?
6.     ID: Christ is mentioned or referred to over ten times in this chapter.  Summarize all the things we learn about Christ in 2nd Timothy chapter one.
The WALK: What should I do?
1.     Do you have a gift that needs to be stirred up?  Can you think of way you served the Lord in the past but has been neglected recently?
2.     Do you have times when you are “ashamed” of Christ?  How can the truths in verse 8-12 embolden us?
3.     Are Christians in chains for the Gospel in our modern times?  How can we share in the sufferings for the Gospel of other believers?
4.     Take some time to pray together for the “persecuted Church.”  You may want to refer to some reports of persecution by Open Doors USA, Christian Solidarity Int., or Voice of the Martyrs.
5.     CSBI: What are some common misunderstandings about the meaning of inerrancy as it relates to the Bible?
Going Beyond:  1. Memorize 2 Timothy 1:7 or 1:12.  2. What areas of theology are touched on in this passage?
q   The Bible (Bibliology)   q  God (Theology Proper)   q  The Father (Paterology)  
q  The Lord Jesus Christ (Christology)   q  The Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)   q  Man (Anthropology)
q  Salvation (Soteriology)   q  The Church (Ecclesiology)   q  Angels & Satan (Angelology)
q  Future Things (eschatology)

The meaning of “truth” should be self-evident, but this has not been the case where discussions of the truthfulness of the Bible are concerned.  What is truth?  Some have argued that the Bible is not truthful unless it conforms to modern standards of scientific precision -no round numbers, precise grammar, scientific descriptions of natural phenomena, and so forth.  Others have taken an entirely opposite view, arguing that the Bible is truthful so long as it attains its general spiritual ends, regardless of whether it actually makes false statements.  Articles XIII through XV thread their way between these extremes.  They maintain that the Bible is to be evaluated by its own principles of truth, which do not necessarily include modern forms of scientific expression, but argue at the same time that the statements of Scripture are always without error and, therefore, do not mislead the reader in any way.  Article XIV deals with the way apparent discrepancies involving problems not yet resolved should be handled.

We affirm the propriety of using inerrancy as a theological term with reference to the complete truthfulness of Scripture.
We deny that it is proper to evaluate Scripture according to standards of truth and error that are alien to its usage or purpose.
We further deny that inerrancy is negated by biblical phenomena such as a lack of modern technical precision, irregularities of grammar or spelling, observational descriptions of nature, the reporting of falsehoods, the use of hyperbole and round numbers, the topical arrangement of material, variant selections of material in parallel accounts, or the use of free citations.

With the combination of the affirmation and denial of Article XIII regarding the term inerrancy, it may seem to some that, in view of all the qualifications that are listed in the denial, this word is no longer a useful or appropriate term to use with respect to the Bible.  Some have said that it has “suffered the death of a thousand qualifications.”  The same, of course, could be said about the word “God.”  Because of the complexity of our concept of God, it has become necessary to qualify in great detail the differences in what is being affirmed and what is being denied when we use the term God.  Such qualifications do not negate the value of the word, but only serve to sharpen its precision and usefulness.
It is important to note that the word inerrancy is called a theological term by Article XIII.  It is an appropriate theological term to refer to the complete truthfulness of Scripture.  That is basically what is being asserted with the term inerrancy: that the Bible is completely true, that all its affirmations and denials correspond with reality.  Theological terms other than inerrancy are frequently in need of qualification and cannot be taken in a crass, literal sense.  For example, the term omnipotence, when used to refer to God, does not literally mean what it may seem to.  That is, omnipotence does not mean that God can do anything.  The omnipotence of God does not mean that God can lie or that God could die or that God could be God and not God at the same time and in the same relationship.  Nevertheless, as a term that has reference to God’s complete sovereign control and authority over the created world, omnipotence is a perfectly useful and appropriate term in our theological vocabulary.  Because the term inerrancy must be qualified, some have thought that it would be better to exclude it from the church’s vocabulary.  However, the qualifications of the term are not new nor are they particularly cumbersome, and the word serves as an appropriate safeguard from those who would attack the truthfulness of Scripture in subtle ways.
When we speak of inerrancy, then, we are speaking of the fact that the Bible does not violate its own principles of truth.  This does not mean that the Bible is free from grammatical irregularities or the like, but that it does not contain assertions which are in conflict with objective reality.  The first denial that “the Bible ought not to be evaluated according to standards of truth and error alien to its own use or purpose” indicates that it would be inappropriate to evaluate the Bible’s internal consistency with its own truth claims by standards foreign to the Bible’s own view of truth.  When we say that the truthfulness of Scripture ought to be evaluated according to its own standards that means that for the Scripture to be true to its claim it must have an internal consistency compatible with the biblical concept of truth and that all the claims of the Bible must correspond with reality, whether that reality is historical, factual or spiritual.
The second denial gives us a list of qualifications that is not intended to be exhaustive but rather illustrative of the type of considerations which must be kept in mind when one seeks to define the word inerrancy.  
Modern technical precision. Inerrancy is not vitiated by the fact, for example, that the Bible occasionally uses round numbers. To say that truth has been distorted when, for example, the size of a crowd or the size of an army is estimated in round numbers would be to impose a criterion of truth that is foreign to the literature under examination.  When a newspaper even in modern times says that 50,000 people assembled for a football game they are not considered to be engaging in falsehood, fraud or deceit because they have rounded off a number of 49,878, for example, to 50,000.  It is an appropriate use of quantitative measurement in historical reporting that does not involve falsehood.  
Irregularities of grammar or spelling. Though it is more beautiful and attractive to speak the truth with a fluent style and proper grammar, grammatical correctness is not necessary for the expression of truth.  For example, if a man were on trial for murder and was asked if he killed his wife on February 13, and replied “I ain’t killed nobody never,” the crudity of his grammar would have nothing to do with the truth or falsehood of his statement.  He can hardly be convicted of murder because his plea of innocence was couched within the context of rough and “errant” grammar.  Inerrancy is not related to the grammatical propriety or impropriety of the language of Scripture.
Observational descriptions of nature. With respect to natural phenomena it is clear that the Bible speaks from the perspective of the observer on many occasions. The Bible speaks of the sun rising and setting and of the sun moving across the heavens. From the perspective of common observation it is perfectly appropriate to describe things as they appear to the human eye.  To accuse the Bible of denying planetary motion would again be to impose a foreign perspective and criterion on the Scriptures.  No one is offended when the weatherman speaks of sunrises and sunsets.  No one accuses the weather bureau of seeking to revert to a medieval perspective of geocentricity or of falsifying the weather forecast by speaking of sunsets and sunrises.  Those terms are perfectly appropriate to describe things as they appear to the observer.  
The reporting of falsehoods. Some have maintained that the Bible is not inerrant because it reports falsehoods such as the lies of Satan and the fraudulent teachings of false prophets.  However, though the Bible does in fact contain false statements, they are reported as being lies and falsehoods.  So this in no way vitiates the truth value of the biblical record, but only enhances it.
The use of hyperbole. The use of hyperbole has been appealed to as a technical reason for rejecting inerrancy.  However, hyperbole is a perfectly legitimate literary device.  Hyperbole involves the intentional exaggeration of a statement to make a point.  It provides the weight of intensity and emphasis that would otherwise be lacking.  That the Bible uses hyperbole is without doubt.  That hyperbole vitiates inerrancy is denied.  The framers of the document maintain that the use of hyperbole is perfectly consistent with the Bible’s own view of truth.
Other matters, such as the topical arrangement of material, the use of free citations (for example, from the Old Testament by the New Testament writers) and various selections of material and parallel accounts, where different writers include some information that other writers do not have and delete some information that others include, in no way destroys the truthfulness of what is being reported.  Though biblical writers may have arranged their material differently, they do not affirm that Jesus said on one occasion what he never said on that occasion.  Neither are they claiming that another parallel account is wrong for not including what they themselves include.  As an itinerant preacher Jesus no doubt said many similar things on different occasions.  By biblical standards of truth and error is meant the view used both in the Bible and in everyday life, viz., a correspondence view of truth.  This part of the article is directed toward those who would redefine truth to relate merely to redemptive intent, the purely personal or the like, rather than to mean that which corresponds with reality.  For example, when Jesus affirmed that Jonah was in “the belly of the great fish” this statement is true, not simply because of the redemptive significance the story of Jonah has, but also because it is literally and historically true.  The same may be said of the New Testament assertions about Adam, Moses, David and other Old Testament persons as well as about Old Testament events.

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