Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Like-Minded Servants, Tested by Fire

But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, that I also may be encouraged when I know your state. For I have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus. But you know his proven character, that as a son with his father he served with me in the gospel. Therefore I hope to send him at once, as soon as I see how it goes with me. But I trust in the Lord that I myself shall also come shortly. (Philippians 2:19-24)
Paul longs to be with the Jesus believers at Philippi to encourage them in their faith. However, he is currently under arrest in Rome for preaching the gospel of King Jesus. But he is confident that his trial will go well, that he will be released and will be able to come to them before long. In the meantime, he expects to be able to send Timothy, who is well-known to the Philippians, since he was part of the mission to Philippi at the very beginning. Paul had first met Timothy at Derbe and Lystra, where the believers there spoke well of him (Acts 16:1-2). Impressed with Timothy, Paul decided to bring him on the mission into Macedonia (which began at Philippi). The plan now is to send Timothy to them again — not just yet, though, but soon — with the purpose of encouraging them with news about Paul and how the ministry of the gospel is faring, but also so Paul can himself be encouraged by hearing back how they are doing.

There is no one more “like-minded” (literally, of the “same soul”) with Paul than Timothy, “who will sincerely care for your state.” We can hear in this the echo of Paul’s earlier plea, that the believers at Philippi be of one mind, one heart, one soul (Philippians 2:2). Timothy, like Paul, genuinely cares for them, without any hidden agenda or selfish ambition (compare this with Philippians 2:3). “For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus,” Paul says (compare with Philippians 2:4). Timothy is committed to the things that are dear to Jesus the Messiah and is a strong and vibrant example of everything Paul has been exhorting the Philippian believers about.

Paul is very proud of Timothy, who is “as a son with his father.” Elsewhere, Paul calls him, “my beloved and faithful son in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 4:17) and “a true son in the faith” (1 Timothy 1:2). Timothy has “served with me in the gospel.” They have worked well together, having the same servant heart, mind and soul for the gospel. Recall how this letter began: “Paul and Timothy, bondservants of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:1). In other letters, Paul refers to Timothy as “my fellow worker” (Romans 16:21) and “our brother and minister of God, and our fellow laborer in the gospel of Christ” (1 Thessalonians 3:2).

Timothy is a man of “proven character.” The Greek word for “proven” often refers to the refiner’s process of “proving” or purifying precious metals such as gold or silver. In other words, Timothy has been tested by fire and has shown his mettle, that he is faithful. This is important because the believers at Philippi have some rough times ahead themselves. They will be tested and tried because of their faith in the Lord Jesus, so it will be encouraging for them to have a brother like Timothy around, who has been through the fire and come out stronger and brighter.

Focus Questions
  1. Is there someone like-minded as you, to whom you could entrust the interests of those you care about?
  2. Who is a faithful servant of the things of Jesus in your life? And to whom are you a faithful servant of the things of Jesus?
  3. When you are going through a difficult time, how valuable is it to have someone with you who has been through the same and come out with a stronger faith?

There is Always Joy!
There is Always Joy!
Paul’s Letters to the Jesus Believers at Philippi
Bite-Sized Studies Through the Book of Philippians
by Jeff Doles

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