These things I am writing to you as I hope to be with you shortly but just in case if I should tarry and take longer than I would like, I'm passing this advice onto you so that you may know how [with the authority you have] to conduct yourself in the household of God, the assembled gathering together of the Living God, the framework and foundation of the truth. And without any doubt whatsoever, great is the mystery of our worship: 'He was manifest in flesh [like ours], received the Spirit's confirmation, was acknowledged by angelic messengers, proclaimed among the nations, believed in throughout the world, and taken up into glory.' - I Timothy 3:14-16/transliteration by Bruce C Wearne

Church 1

PICTURE: Sigurdur Fjalar Jonsson/Unsplash

 

 

"The gathering of these people together as an organised community giving expression to their common 'way of life' following their Lord is nothing less than a foretaste of the fulfilment of God's promises to dwell with His people."

Paul explains why such teaching about office-bearing among the people of God is so important. The church that Timothy was gathering together was at an important stage in its development. The urgency of Paul's advice is explained - the gathering of the people of the Lord is nothing less than the convocation of the Household of God. That is the crucial point for Timothy and the people he serves need to keep this in mind.

The gathering of these people together as an organised community giving expression to their common “way of life” following their Lord is nothing less than a foretaste of the fulfilment of God's promises to dwell with His people. They live looking forward to the time when the full reality of God's dwelling with them will bring His creational purposes to fulfilment. Paul may be delayed but the constituting of a well-functioning congregation is urgent; the church of the living God is a pillar and bulwark of the truth of the Good News. It is the truth's constructed framework and foundation and so, within this assembly, overseers and ministers are of vital importance.

But, by putting it in these terms, Paul reminds himself and Timothy that God's promises are indeed coming to fulfilment in what they are doing. It is all a great mystery, Paul says. He includes himself, Timothy and the congregation Timothy serves in this great mystery. It is all part of the working of the Lord. And so, as Paul does time and time again in his letters, he composes a doxology, a poetic paean, a song with which to confess the faith. Here we are busy in our religious zeal (EUSEBIAS), he says, the performance of a solemn duty and by singing in harmony we become participants in a profound mystery, the working of God.

We are indeed co-workers with God's Son
Who was manifest in flesh like ours;
Was endorsed by God's breath;
Attested to by God's angelic messengers;
Proclaimed among all the nations,
And so, believed in and received by all kinds of people
And elevated to the place of pre-eminence in glory.

The indirect sense of this is that Paul is overwhelmed with awe at being made a participant in this wondrous fulfillment in which he now finds fulfillment, even while he is in chains, in prison.