The Word This Week

1 Timothy 1:1…

Mentorship is a key principle of the born-again Christian life.

Thinking back to Paul’s early walk with Jesus, we remember the importance of Barnabas in his life. Would Saul of Tarsus have become all he became as the apostle Paul apart from the encouraging spiritual gifts poured into his life by Barnabas?

While we can imagine God imparting all Paul became in his life through another man, it was Barnabas who was there, and it was Barnabas who basically took Paul to raise in Christ.

It was Barnabas who shared with him the important steps of how to apply by the love of Christ found in the Word of God Paul already knew so well. It was Barnabas who taught and exemplified the love of Christ for Paul and for other believers. It was Barnabas who provided Paul introduction to the believers at Jerusalem, and convinced them of the transformed life Paul was now living, that he may be accepted by the believers, even though in his prior life as Saul of Tarsus he had sought to kill them and jail them. Without Barnabas, would Paul have been permitted to become a part of the body of Christ?

But now that Paul had been raised up - and following their first mission trip together as a team - Paul and Barnabas had split. Ironically, their separation had come about in a dispute over Barnabas’ continued desire to mentor John Mark - who apparently had been a disappointment on his first mission trip with Paul and Barnabas.

Paul then ventured out on his second mission trip, now accompanied by Silas, who was more his equal than his mentor.

This exemplifies an interesting transition that can and usually does take place in every mentor - mentee relationship. (That time when the mentee steps out on his or her own apart from their mentor.)

And it is at this exact transitionary moment in Paul and Timothy’s life we find the Book of 1st Timothy. Timothy had been mentored by Paul for about seventeen years, and now Paul is sending him out on his own to pastor the church Paul planted at Ephesus.

(Paul brought a very young Timothy onto his ministry team as soon as he and Silas arrived at Derbe and Lystra at the beginning of Paul’s second missionary trip. In a sense, Timothy had replaced John Mark as Silas had replaced Barnabas.)

By the time this letter is written, Timothy knows Paul very well. I do not believe this letter is sent to Timothy for instruction as much as it is for affirmation of what Paul would have Timothy do as the pastor of this church. After twelve years together in ministry, Timothy was in all likelihood very familiar with Paul’s approach to ministry. I think Paul sent this letter so Timothy could show the church he was called to pastor that even though he was apart from Paul physically, he was still under Paul’s authority spiritually.

Pastor Bill