Paul, a commissioned messenger of Christ Jesus, according to the purposes of God, by way of a proclamation giving life in Christ Jesus, to Timothy, beloved child; grace, mercy, and peace [all] from God our Father, and Christ Jesus [His beloved child] our Lord. - II Timothy 1:1-2/trasliteration by Bruce C Wearne

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 Paul is conscious in these opening lines that every aspect of his life "only makes sense" by reference to Jesus, notes Bruce C Wearne. PICTURE: Jon Tyson/Usplash

 

"Paul is conscious that his life in its every dimension, his calling as a messenger of the Good News and thus in his letter writing - basic to his friendship with Timothy - makes sense by reference to Christ Jesus. This opening repeats the name of the Lord, Paul's Lord, three times."

Here is the second of Paul's letters to Timothy. By designating it as “second” we should not automatically assume there were only ever two letters between the two, nor that additional material hasn't been added to what is before us from other communications from Paul to his young “understudy”.

But having said that and noting the depth of personal affection between the two men, it is worth wondering why Paul has to say what he does in these opening greetings. Couldn't it simply be taken for granted between them and wouldn't “Paul to my dear son-in-the-faith, Timothy. Greetings in our Lord Jesus Christ” suffice?

Perhaps nothing would be lost but the formality would also seem to suggest, as we have suggested for the first letter, that Paul - with Timothy - is assuming that these communications, though deeply personal, are also written so that they can be shared.

And in this context, Paul is not averse to being somewhat demonstrative. Yes, it is a personal letter, but it contains a message that puts such personal affection in its true place.

Paul is conscious that his life in its every dimension, his calling as a messenger of the Good News and thus in his letter writing - basic to his friendship with Timothy - makes sense by reference to Christ Jesus. This opening repeats the name of the Lord, Paul's Lord, three times.

And we keep in mind that this is Paul, formerly Saul, who by his own admission was, before being confronted by Christ Jesus Himself, nothing but a sinner, a blasphemer. He had been told by this same Lord, that He, the risen and ascended was the one who was suffering persecution from Saul's violence. The record in the Acts of the Apostles has it: "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?" (Acts 9:4)

These words of Jesus remind us of King David's confrontation with King Saul. They could have easily been the words of David, the Lord's Anointed. This is simply background to Paul's opening lines here - and his consciousness down to his change of name - that he is in everyway dependent upon the merciful restoration he has experienced from his Lord, Christ Jesus.