Welcome to our study called “Intentional.” We’ll be studying four short books of the Bible – 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus and Philemon – while also focusing on a specific topic. God weaves threads and themes throughout Scripture, tying ideas together, and confirming paths He wants us to take in application of His great master plan. The thread we’re going to follow for the next 12 weeks is that of mentoring.
In these particular letters of Paul, nestled toward the end of the New Testament, we meet three young men: Timothy, Titus and Onesimus. They are the only ones on whom Paul bestows the term, “my true son.” Paul loved people and longed for them to know Christ as he did, but these three were special. For them Paul wrote some of his most tender and heart-felt works. Into them he longed to pour all his knowledge, experience, understanding and passion for the Lord.
And he did it intentionally.
This means Paul was purposeful in what he wrote. He deliberately became involved in the ministries of these men. He planned on how to best impact their lives. He was passionately compelled to speak meaning, convey understanding, and foster growth. Paul was the ultimate mentor.
In this study we’ll look at what Paul intentionally wrote to these young men he loved as his own sons. We’ll look at what Paul said, why he said it, and what it means to us – in marriage, in singleness, in family life, in friendships, in service, in daily delights and in dealing with disappointments. We’ll discover how to be a mentor, how to be mentored by others, and ultimately how to submit to mentoring by the Father. Each verse can tell us how to change and how to help others change, pointing us all to the One who does the changing of His own into His likeness.
I once heard a beautiful story about a painter and his son. This particular painter was a great artist whose young son would often “help” his father paint. Brush in hand, the boy would sit on his father’s lap for hours, the small hand held by the large one, and the two would create landscapes, still-life pieces, portraits, whatever came into the artist’s mind or line of vision.
As the boy grew, he too became a painter. But like many offspring of amazing visionaries, he became frustrated with finding his own look and skill apart from his father’s. Finally, the now young man left home to become a painter in his own right.
As the years passed, the son became disillusioned. Frustrated and no longer inspired, the son came home sad and burdened. He felt he was a failure and his now insipid art reflected that attitude. The son came into his father’s studio believing he was a disappointment to the family name.
Sitting before an empty canvas, paints at the ready on a nearby pallet, brushes laid on the table, the artist had his son stand in front of him facing the canvas. Lifting a brush in his hand, the son allowed his father to hold onto his hand and together they worked a painting. Just the feel of his father’s hand encouraged the son, and as he watched the masterpiece come to life his throat ached at its beauty.
Hours later, when the painting was complete, the son stepped away from his father and looked at the piece. Tears streaming down his face, he thanked his father for letting him have yet another opportunity to be part of “his” work, but that he was giving up painting forever. The father simply told him that the painting was not of his doing. The painting was all due to the son’s talent and insight.
Spinning around, ready to refute what he’d heard, the son suddenly looked into his father’s eyes for the first time since coming into the studio. Clouded. Vacant. Unseeing. In the years of the son’s absence, the artist had gone blind.
Lovingly, the father reached up and touched the contours of his son’s face.
“God is not through with you, my son,” the artist began. “When you were young, I guided, but He gifted. I instructed, but He inspired. I lifted your hand, He lifted your heart. You are not a disappointment to me or to Him. Through you, even greater masterpieces will flow, when you do it all for His glory.”
In this week’s lesson, we will begin to look at Paul’s mentoring and guidance of Timothy. But as we begin, we will also look ahead to the end. Mentoring is a task set before all believers, passing on what we’ve learned to others. But in this process there is a letting go. Paul knows that Timothy has to become a mentor.
In many respects, that’s where we begin our study. Paul has already begun the letting go process, mentoring now through letters and encouragement. We will use his Spirit-filled strategies and principles to help us one-on-one. But there always has to be in the back of our minds the understanding that those we mentor should one day lead, minister and mentor on their own. It’s the goal and the aim of this study. We can hold their hands lightly from time to time, but the painting will be their own – for His glory.
DAYS 1 and 2
I. Read 1 Timothy 1:1-7.
What Paul has to say carries weight, not only in style and content but because of where he has come from. We’ll be looking at his testimony throughout this study. For now, Paul makes it clear his apostolic authority is because of Christ and not because of his own merit. But the authority is distinguished. Not because of who Paul is but simply because he was chosen by God to preach, to write, to deliver this message.
This should give great comfort to the young Timothy who throughout the book we will see signs that he is feeling too young and inexperienced for the current task set before him, rooted in the same hope of all who bear the mark of the Holy Spirit. Paul gives added confidence to Timothy by addressing him as “my true child in the faith.” This title shows the preciousness of Timothy to Paul and reveals Timothy’s spiritual heritage. It also gives us an understanding of Paul’s willingness to be a father figure and a mentor to Timothy.
- What title did Paul give Timothy?
- How could such a title affect an individual?
- When you hear the term “hope,” what does that mean to you?
- What three things does Paul say are from the Lord in his greeting?
II. Glance at the opening verses of 1& 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and 1& 2 Thessalonians.
Notice the similarities between these greetings and that of the first letter to Timothy. This was not an uncommon greeting for Paul’s letters. You may have noticed Timothy’s name mentioned several times in the openings of these other books. This gives a glimpse into Paul’s intentional way of including this young man in the leadership process. The first stages of Timothy’s growth came at Paul’s side, an amazing, one-on-one mentoring opportunity with an incredible man of God.
- How could this greeting affect the reader’s outlook on charting a life in Christ?
- What mentoring principles might you be able to establish by looking at Paul’s example?
III. Read Romans 16:17,-18; 2 Corinthians 10:5-6, 11:3-4 and Galatians 1:6,-7.
1 Timothy was written sometime between 62 and 66 AD, after Paul’s release from 2 years of house arrest in Rome. Paul had left for Macedonia but asked Timothy to stay in Ephesus to instruct “certain men.” It’s interesting that Paul knew there were a handful of people – probably influential leaders – poised to cause problems and mislead through false doctrine. Yet, he left anyway because God wanted him elsewhere. God’s plan all along was to work through Timothy in this situation.
- In 1 Timothy 1:3-4, what were two things that Timothy was instructed to teach these men?
- From the other passages you read today, what were the strange doctrines Paul warned about?
- How do you fight against mere or empty speculation in your life?
- Identify those things influencing you that don’t further your faith in God.
- Do you see anything in your life God is asking you to do that seems too big? Conversely, are you ever tempted to take control when you see someone younger or less mature in charge of something that seems too big for them?
- Describe a time in your life when God seemed to take away your source of leadership and put you in charge. How did He work in that situation?
I. Re-read 1 Timothy 1:5-7; Matthew 22:36-40; 1 Corinthians 13; 1 John 4:7-12.
The crux of chapter 1 is found in verse 5. When Paul told Timothy to instruct certain men he also gave him the “how” for doing it. The absolute goal of our teaching – whether as a parent, actual teacher, or mentor – should be love. Not just the way we mentor or train, but why, our motivation.
- Paul said this love stems from three things. What are they?
- Can you give examples of how they could play out in life?
- In the Corinthians passage, what does the Bible say about love and its importance to Christians (corporately and individually)?
A few weeks ago I was challenged by my son’s pastor at the church he attends near his university. He spoke on a very familiar passage in Matthew 22 where Jesus gives an answer to the question concerning which commandment is the greatest. It deals with love, too. Jesus stated in verse 37 that we should love the Lord our God with our hearts, our souls and our minds. Our passions, our inner being, and our intellect. Our desires, our essence, and our imaginations. But the pastor noted that we often overlook the verse’s little, three-letter qualifier: all. Do we? Do we love God with all our heart, all our soul, and all our mind? It’s such a small word but what a sobering thought. It would be hard for me to give an unequivocal “yes.” Unfortunately, thanks to yet another three-letter word, the command doesn’t stop there. Using the conjunction “and” makes Jesus’ answer a two-parter. The second half states, “…and love your neighbor as yourself.” It’s part of the “all.” The two statements go together. So, if I say I love God, but can’t bear to go beyond myself and love others, do I really love God? 1
4. From the 1 John passage and from Paul’s writing, love should be our goal in how we relate to others. How would such a goal affect your mentoring?
5. As you examine your heart, conscience and faith, what needs to be changed to fit this goal?
II. Read James 3:1-4.
In 1 Timothy1:6-7, Paul is likely speaking of some members in Timothy’s church without giving names. But to be more generic, it seems that anyone who strays from the goal set in verse 5 is in trouble, on the road to what is described here. At best, they will end up being ineffective. At worst, they will end up turning people away from Christ.
- What did these men want to be? What didn’t they understand?
- What does a fruitless discussion look like?
- From James, what we say can have huge ramifications on us and our listeners. How have “confident assertions” or “insisting on” (Holman Christian Standard Bible) certain ideas tripped up your mentoring or sharing of the Word?
- In what way can you change into a mentor of understanding?
I. Read 1 Timothy 1:8-17.
Paul states “the Law is good if one uses it lawfully.” Obviously, the “certain men” of verse three were not using the Law legitimately. Essentially, he’s reiterating for the benefit of those who have already been misguided that the Law – while not the basis for salvation – shows the need for salvation. Using the Law in a correct or legitimate way also means having guidelines for living unified and in community as believers, differently from unbelievers still entrenched in sin.
- Knowing that the Law is not for the righteous but for the lawless and rebellious from verses 9 and 10, list what characterizes these people.
- In a mentoring situation, frustration with the human frailties seen in others (and in ourselves) can sometimes create a focus that falls short of encouragement and exhortation, to something unhealthy and untrue – suddenly requiring personal goodness as a condition of salvation. How can you avoid this trap as you work with others?
II. Read 1 Timothy 1:15.
In today’s study, we see Paul’s well-known statement about himself in verse 15: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.” Slave trader turned preacher John Newton, author of one of the most familiar hymns of all time, “Amazing Grace,” claimed Paul’s statement as his own.
At the end of verse 11, Paul finishes with his list of why the Law is needed. His statement of being “entrusted” with the gospel sparks again the deep, deep love Christ has for him personally.
- What sequence of three things does Paul list in verse 12 that God has done for him?
- How does he describe his former self in verse 13?
- From what has Christ saved you?
- How can something be “more than abundant”? (verse14) Look at several translations, if possible. What is it that Paul is trying to convey?
III. Read 1 Timothy 1:16
Verse 16 is a beautiful tribute of God’s work in Paul’s life in spite of his claim as being the worst sinner of all. It’s also a reminder that, often due to the sinfulness of our unregenerate past, God is able to show Himself powerful in amazing and unexpected ways. It’s true for all of us. You. Me. The one God has in your path to mentor.
- Rewrite verse 16 putting your name wherever you see pronouns such as “I” or “me.”
- How has God shown His amazing mercy and grace to you this week?
- In what way does Jesus Christ demonstrate His perfect patience in you?
- Today’s section ends with a powerful statement of praise to the Lord. Read Jude 25. Write a statement of glory to God that could conclude your testimony today.
I. Read 1 Timothy 1:18-20.
When someone reiterates your name in conversation or in a letter, listen carefully to what comes next. Not only did Paul intentionally write Timothy’s name several paragraphs into the letter, he also added nuance to the title, “my true child in the faith.” Here Paul simply says, “My son.” The next few phrases are a command of utmost importance. He can give this not only because he is being led by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he’s also remembering a specific prophesy concerning Timothy and his service for the Lord made at some point earlier (verse 18), perhaps when Timothy was ordained or commissioned before leaving with Paul. (See Acts 13:1-3 for the specific commissioning of Paul and Barnabas as an example.)
Paul is also pointing back to verse 5, making sure Timothy remembers that his instruction needs to be given in love. This isn’t a suggested teaching style, one way of many in which to mentor those under you, but a command. It’s part of God’s design for leadership.
- With that in mind, what does Paul tell Timothy to do?
- How are we to do that from verse 19?
- What phrase in verse 19 matches a phrase from verse 5? Why do you think Paul writes it again?
II. Read 2 Timothy 2:17-18 and 1 Corinthians 5:5, 11:32 and Hebrews 12:5.
The 2 Timothy verses hold the only other reference to Hymenaus we’re given in Scripture. There is nothing more known about Alexander. We’re not sure what was done by these two men, but it was obviously well-known at the time for Paul to be able to reference their actions and use them as an example for Timothy.
Chapter 1 of 1 Timothy ends with a warning. The reason for Timothy to fight is because some have given in and their faith has shipwrecked. For Paul, the image of a shipwreck was vivid and familiar. He experienced it at least four times (2 Corinthians 11:25) and basically came out alive but with nothing. For Paul to use such imagery means the situation is extreme – and heart wrenching for him.
- Do you think it is necessary to have some form of accountability and discipline among believers? What Scriptures can you find to support your answer?
- How could mentoring help in these situations?
Paul discovered that there is a time to be in charge, and there is a time to step back and let someone else be in charge. God wanted Timothy leading these congregations in Ephesus and Asia Minor at this point in time of church history. All the joys and struggles of his young congregations were now to be in Timothy’s hands. But God still had Paul intimately involved in Timothy’s life.
Sometimes mentoring is for a short season. Sometimes it lasts for years. Always, it will change. From the very beginning of a mentoring process it needs to be clear – to the mentor especially – that this side-by-side relationship is a springboard for the younger or less experienced person to grow in Christ, lead in a ministry, and ultimately become a mentor someday. The goal is maturity, not perpetual adolescence.
Once God changed Paul’s location for ministry, he had to let go of Timothy’s hand. And because the goal of his instruction is “to produce a love which springs from a pure heart, a good conscience and a genuine faith,” (Philips Translation), Paul could step back with confidence. Timothy was ready. God’s timing was best. But Paul’s investment in and guidance of Timothy was not over. God gave Paul the gift of writing to continue mentoring from afar.
1. Bell, Brad. Loving People: Matthew 22:37-40. The Well Community Church, Fresno, CA. August 17, 2014.
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