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Highlights for the Reading of the Bible: Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 - 2 Thessalonians, 1 - 2 Timothy
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE BOOK OF GALATIANS
*** it-1 p. 881 Galatians, Letter to the ***
HIGHLIGHTS OF GALATIANSA letter emphasizing appreciation for the freedom that true Christians have through Jesus Christ
Written a year or perhaps several years after the Galatians had been informed about the decision of the governing body that circumcision is not required of Christians
Paul defends his apostleship
Paul’s apostleship was not of human origin but was by appointment from Jesus Christ and the Father; he did not consult with the apostles in Jerusalem before beginning to declare the good news; not until three years later did he briefly visit Cephas and James (1:1, 13-24)
The good news he proclaimed was received, not from men, but by revelation from Jesus Christ (1:10-12)
By reason of a revelation, Paul, with Barnabas and Titus, went to Jerusalem regarding the circumcision issue; he learned nothing new from James, Peter, and John, but they recognized that he had been empowered for an apostleship to the nations (2:1-10)
At Antioch, when Peter wrongly separated himself from non-Jewish believers in fear of certain visiting brothers from Jerusalem, Paul reproved him (2:11-14)
A person is declared righteous only through faith in Christ, not works of law
If a person could be declared righteous by works of law, Christ’s death would have been unnecessary (2:15-21)
Galatians received God’s spirit because of their responding in faith to the good news, not because of works of law (3:1-5)
True sons of Abraham are those who have faith like his (3:6-9, 26-29)
Because of being unable to keep the Law perfectly, those seeking to prove themselves righteous by works of the Law are under a curse (3:10-14)
The Law did not invalidate the promise associated with the Abrahamic covenant, but it served to make transgressions manifest and acted as a tutor leading to Christ (3:15-25)
Stand fast in Christian freedom
Jesus Christ, by his death, released those under law, making it possible for them to become sons of God (4:1-7)
Returning to an arrangement of observing days, months, seasons, and years would mean going back into slavery and coming into a position like that of Ishmael, the son of the servant girl Hagar; with his mother he was dismissed from Abraham’s household (4:8-31)
Having been liberated from sin and no longer being bound by the Law, they were to resist anyone who would induce them to accept a yoke of slavery (1:6-9; 5:1-12; 6:12-16)
Do not abuse your freedom but yield to the influence of God’s spirit, manifesting its fruitage in your life and shunning the works of the flesh (5:13-26)
Readjust in a spirit of mildness anyone taking a false step; but all are individually obligated to carry their own load of responsibility (6:1-5)
*** si pp. 218-219 Bible Book Number 48—Galatians ***
CONTENTS OF GALATIANS7 Paul defends his apostleship (1:1–2:14). After greeting the congregations in Galatia, Paul marvels that they are being so quickly removed to another sort of good news, and he firmly declares: “Even if we or an angel out of heaven were to declare to you as good news something beyond what we declared to you as good news, let him be accursed.” The good news that he has declared is not something human, neither was he taught it, “except through revelation by Jesus Christ.” Previously, as a zealous exponent of Judaism, Paul had persecuted the congregation of God, but then God called him through His undeserved kindness to declare the good news about his Son to the nations. It was not until three years after his conversion that he went up to Jerusalem, and then, of the apostles, he saw only Peter, as well as James the brother of the Lord. He was unknown in person to the congregations of Judea, though they used to hear of him and “began glorifying God” because of him.—1:8, 12, 24.
8 After 14 years Paul went up to Jerusalem again and explained privately the good news that he was preaching. His companion Titus, though a Greek, was not even required to be circumcised. When James and Cephas and John saw that Paul had entrusted to him the good news for those who are uncircumcised, just as Peter had the good news for those who are circumcised, they gave Paul and Barnabas the right hand of sharing together to go to the nations, while they themselves went to the circumcised. When Cephas came to Antioch and failed to walk straight “according to the truth of the good news” for fear of the circumcised class, Paul rebuked him before them all.—2:14.
9 Declared righteous by faith, not by law (2:15–3:29). We Jews know, argues Paul, “that a man is declared righteous, not due to works of law, but only through faith toward Christ Jesus.” He now lives in union with Christ and is alive by faith to do the will of God. “If righteousness is through law, Christ actually died for nothing.”—2:16, 21.
10 Are the Galatians so senseless as to believe that having started by receiving the spirit due to faith, they can finish serving God by works of Law? It is the hearing by faith that counts, as with Abraham, who “put faith in Jehovah, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” Now, according to God’s promise, “those who adhere to faith are being blessed together with faithful Abraham.” They have been released from the curse of the Law by Christ’s death on the stake. Christ is the Seed of Abraham, and the Law made 430 years later does not abolish the promise concerning that Seed. What, then, was the purpose of the Law? It was “our tutor leading to Christ, that we might be declared righteous due to faith.” Now we are no longer under the tutor, nor is there now any distinction between Jew and Greek, for all are one in union with Christ Jesus and “are really Abraham’s seed, heirs with reference to a promise.”—3:6, 9, 24, 29.
11 Stand fast in Christian freedom (4:1–6:18). God sent forth his Son to release those under Law, that they “might receive the adoption as sons.” (4:5) So why turn back to the slavery of the weak and beggarly elementary things? Since the Galatians are now observing days and months and seasons and years, Paul is afraid his work in their behalf has been wasted. On his first visit to them, they received Paul like an angel of God. Has he now become their enemy because he tells them the truth? Let those who want to be under Law hear what the Law says: Abraham acquired two sons by two women. The one woman, the servant girl, Hagar, corresponds to the nation of fleshly Israel, bound to Jehovah by the Mosaic Law covenant, which covenant brings forth children for slavery. The free woman, though, Sarah, corresponds to the Jerusalem above, who, Paul says, “is free, and she is our mother.” “What,” asks Paul, “does the Scripture say?” This: “By no means shall the son of the servant girl be an heir with the son of the free woman.” And we are children, not of a servant girl, “but of the free woman.”—4:30, 31.
12 Circumcision or lack of it means nothing, explains Paul, but it is faith operating through love that counts. The entire Law is fulfilled in the saying: “You must love your neighbor as yourself.” Keep walking by the spirit, for “if you are being led by spirit, you are not under law.” As to the works of the flesh, Paul forewarns “that those who practice such things will not inherit God’s kingdom.” In glowing contrast, he describes the fruitage of the spirit, against which there is no law, and adds: “If we are living by spirit, let us go on walking orderly also by spirit” and put away egotism and envy.—5:14, 18, 21, 25.
13 If a man takes some false step before he is aware of it, those spiritually qualified must try to restore him “in a spirit of mildness.” Christians fulfill the law of the Christ by carrying the burdens of one another, but each one should carry his own load in proving what his own work is. A person will reap according to what he sows, either corruption from the flesh or everlasting life from the spirit. Those who want the Galatians to be circumcised are only out to please men and avoid persecution. The thing of vital concern is, not circumcision or uncircumcision, but a new creation. Peace and mercy will be upon those who walk orderly according to this rule of conduct, even upon “the Israel of God.”—6:1, 16.
*** w08 8/15 p. 26 - p. 27 Highlights From the Letters to the Galatians, the Ephesians, the Philippians, and the Colossians ***
“DECLARED RIGHTEOUS”—HOW?(Gal. 1:1–6:18)
Since Judaizers craftily seek to discredit Paul, he defends his apostleship by providing certain autobiographical details. (Gal. 1:11–2:14) Counteracting their false teachings, Paul makes the point: “A man is declared righteous, not due to works of law, but only through faith toward Christ Jesus.”—Gal. 2:16.
Christ ‘released by purchase those under law’ and set them free to enjoy Christian freedom, says Paul. He strongly admonishes the Galatians: “Stand fast, and do not let yourselves be confined again in a yoke of slavery.”—Gal. 4:4, 5; 5:1.
Scriptural Questions Answered:3:16-18, 28, 29—Is the Abrahamic covenant still valid? Yes, it is. The Law covenant was an addition to and not a replacement of God’s covenant with Abraham. Therefore, the Abrahamic covenant remained in effect after the Law was “abolished.” (Eph. 2:15) Its promises are passed on to Abraham’s true “seed”—Christ Jesus, who is the primary one, and those who “belong to Christ.”
6:2—What is “the law of the Christ”? This law consists of all that Jesus taught and commanded. It especially includes the commandment to “love one another.”—John 13:34.
6:8—How do we ‘sow with a view to the spirit’? We do this by living in a way that allows God’s spirit to operate freely on us. Sowing with a view to the spirit involves wholeheartedly participating in activities that promote the flow of the spirit.
Lessons for Us:1:6-9. Christian elders need to act without delay when problems arise in the congregation. Using sound reasoning along with the Scriptures, they can quickly refute false reasoning.
2:20. The ransom is a personal gift from God to us. We should learn to view it that way.—John 3:16.
5:7-9. Bad associations can ‘hinder us from keeping on obeying the truth.’ We are wise to shun them.
6:1, 2, 5. Those with “spiritual qualifications” may help us to carry a burden, such as something troublesome or heavy resulting from our unknowingly taking a false step. When it comes to carrying the load of our spiritual responsibilities, though, we must do it ourselves.
*** w90 11/15 p. 23 Stand Fast in Christian Freedom! ***
Stand Fast in Christian Freedom!
Highlights From GalatiansJEHOVAH is the God of freedom. (2 Corinthians 3:17) His Son, Jesus Christ, said: “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32) And in imitation of Christ, the apostle Paul preached the good news of freedom.—Romans 6:18; 8:21.
By declaring that freedom-giving message, Paul established the congregations of Galatia (a Roman province in Asia Minor) during his first missionary tour (47-48 C.E.). The Galatians knew of the governing body’s decision that circumcision is not required for Christians. (Acts 15:22-29) But Judaizers were seeking to bring them into bondage by insisting that they get circumcised. So Paul stressed Christian freedom in the letter he wrote to the Galatians from Corinth or Syrian Antioch about 50-52 C.E. For instance, he said: “For . . . freedom Christ set us free. Therefore stand fast, and do not let yourselves be confined again in a yoke of slavery.”—Galatians 5:1.
Paul Defends His ApostleshipPaul first showed that his apostleship was “through Jesus Christ and God.” (1:1–2:14) Because of a revelation, Paul (with Barnabas and Titus) went to Jerusalem regarding the circumcision question. There James, Cephas (Peter), and John recognized that he had been empowered to be an apostle to the nations. And when Peter later separated from Gentile believers at Antioch because he feared Jewish Christians from Jerusalem, Paul reproved him.
How Declared Righteous?The apostle also made the powerful point that only by faith in Jesus Christ can anyone be declared righteous. (2:15–3:29) The Galatians received God’s spirit, not because of works of law, but because of accepting the good news in faith. True sons of Abraham have faith, but individuals trying to prove themselves righteous by “works of law are under a curse.” Why? Because they cannot keep the Law perfectly. Actually, the Law made transgressions manifest and was a “tutor leading to Christ.”
Stand Fast!By his death, Christ ‘released those under law.’ But his followers must stand fast in Christian freedom. (4:1–6:18) So the Galatians needed to resist anyone trying to induce them to accept a yoke of slavery. Moreover, they were not to abuse their freedom but were to shun “works of the flesh” and display the fruitage of God’s spirit. Those seeking to bring them into bondage to the Law wanted to “make a pleasing appearance in the flesh,” avoid persecution, and have a cause for boasting. However, Paul showed that neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is anything. Rather, “a new creation is something.” He prayed for peace and mercy to be upon spiritual Israel, those of that new creation.
Paul’s letter to the Galatians helped them to resist those seeking to enslave them spiritually. May it also help us to display the spirit’s fruitage and stand fast in Christian freedom.
[Box/Picture on page 23]Brand Marks: “Let no one be making trouble for me,” wrote Paul, “for I am carrying on my body the brand marks of a slave of Jesus.” (Galatians 6:17) Among some ancient pagans, slaves were branded to designate their owners. Various designs were burned or inscribed into their flesh. Doubtless, the many physical abuses administered to Paul’s body because of his Christian service left certain scars, testifying to his claim as a faithful slave belonging to Christ, one persecuted for His sake. (2 Corinthians 11:23-27) These may have been “the brand marks” Paul referred to, or he may have been thinking of the life he lived as a Christian, displaying the fruitage of God’s spirit and carrying out his ministry.
Roman slaves were compelled to serve their masters, but Paul was a willing and joyful slave of Jesus Christ
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE BOOK OF EPHESIANS
*** it-1 p. 733 Ephesians, Letter to the ***
HIGHLIGHTS OF EPHESIANSA letter focusing attention on an administration that results in peace and unity with God through Jesus Christ
While he was a prisoner in Rome, Paul wrote this letter to the congregation in Ephesus, a port city on the W coast of Asia Minor
God’s purpose to bring about peace and unity through Jesus ChristExpressing great undeserved kindness, God foreordained that some humans would be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ (1:1-7)
God purposed an administration (a way of managing his household affairs) by which he would unite with himself through Christ those chosen to be in the heavens and those who would live on earth (1:8-14)
Paul prays that the Ephesians may truly understand and appreciate the wonderful provision that God made for them through Christ (1:15-23; 3:14-21)
Those granted lofty assignments in connection with Christ were formerly dead in sin; their salvation is God’s gift, not a payment for works (2:1-10)
By means of Christ, the Law was abolished and the basis was laid for Jews and Gentiles to become one body, members of the household of God, a temple for God to inhabit by spirit (2:11–3:7)
God’s dealings with the congregation reveal, even to those in heavenly places, the diversity of his wisdom (3:8-13)
Unifying factors provided by God: one spiritual body making up the congregation, one holy spirit, one hope, one Lord Jesus Christ, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father (4:1-6)
Gifts in men provided by Christ help all to oneness in the faith; the entire body, under his headship, functions harmoniously because of speaking truth and manifesting love (4:7-16)
Put on the new personality, in harmony with Christ’s teaching and exampleNot the nations but Christ is the example to follow; doing so requires a new personality (4:17-32)
Imitate God; manifest the kind of love that Christ did (5:1, 2)
Shun immoral speech and conduct; walk as children of light (5:3-14)
Buy out the time; use it to praise Jehovah (5:15-20)
With deep respect for Christ, manifest proper subjection to husbands, parents, masters; show loving consideration to those in your charge (5:21–6:9)
Gird on the complete suit of spiritual armor in order to stand firm against the crafty acts of the DevilWe have a wrestling against wicked spirit forces; divine help can enable us to resist these disrupters of peace and unity (6:10-13)
Spiritual armor from God provides full protection; use it well and pray earnestly, including all the holy ones in your supplications (6:14-24)
*** si pp. 221-222 Bible Book Number 49—Ephesians ***
CONTENTS OF EPHESIANS9 God’s purpose to bring about unity by means of Christ (1:1–2:22). Paul the apostle sends greetings. God is to be blessed for his glorious undeserved kindness. This has to do with His choosing of them to be in union with Jesus Christ, by means of whom they have the release by ransom through his blood. Furthermore, God has made his love abound toward them by making known the sacred secret of his will. For he has purposed an administration, “to gather all things together again in the Christ,” in union with whom they were also assigned as heirs. (1:10) As a token of this in advance, they have been sealed by holy spirit. Paul’s prayer is that they will be firmly convinced of the hope to which they have been called and realize that God will use the same power toward them that He did in resurrecting Christ and in placing him far above every government and authority and making him Head over all things to the congregation.
10 God, out of the richness of his mercy and his great love, has made them alive, though they were dead in their trespasses and sins, and has seated them together “in the heavenly places in union with Christ Jesus.” (2:6) This is all due to undeserved kindness and faith and is not a result of any works of their own. Christ is their peace who has broken down the wall, the Law of commandments, that had fenced off Gentiles from Jews. Now both peoples have the approach to the Father through Christ. Therefore the Ephesians are no longer aliens, but they are “fellow citizens of the holy ones” and are growing into a holy temple for Jehovah to inhabit by spirit.—2:19.
11 “The sacred secret of the Christ” (3:1-21). God has now revealed to his holy apostles and prophets “the sacred secret of the Christ . . . that people of the nations should be joint heirs and fellow members of the body and partakers with us of the promise in union with Christ Jesus through the good news.” (3:4, 6) By God’s undeserved kindness, Paul has become a minister of this, to declare the unfathomable riches of the Christ and make men see how the sacred secret is administered. It is through the congregation that the greatly diversified wisdom of God is made known. Because of this, Paul prays that they will be made mighty with power through God’s spirit in order that they may fully know the love of Christ, which surpasses knowledge, and realize that God can “do more than superabundantly beyond all the things we ask or conceive.”—3:20.
12 Putting on “the new personality” (4:1–5:20). Christians should walk worthily of their calling, in lowliness of mind, in long-suffering and love, and in the uniting bond of peace. For there is but one spirit, one hope, one faith, and “one God and Father of all persons, who is over all and through all and in all.” (4:6) Therefore Christ, the “one Lord,” has given prophets, evangelizers, shepherds, and teachers, “with a view to the readjustment of the holy ones, for ministerial work, for the building up of the body of the Christ.” So, writes Paul, “speaking the truth, let us by love grow up in all things into him who is the head, Christ,” as a body harmoniously joined together with every member cooperating. (4:5, 12, 15) The immoral, unprofitable, and ignorant ways of the old personality are to be put away; each person should be made new in the force actuating his mind and “put on the new personality which was created according to God’s will in true righteousness and loyalty.” Because all belong to one another, they are to speak the truth and put away wrath, stealing, rotten sayings, malicious bitterness—not grieving God’s holy spirit. Instead, let them ‘become kind to one another, tenderly compassionate, freely forgiving one another, just as God also by Christ freely forgave them.’—4:24, 32.
13 All should become imitators of God. Fornication, uncleanness, and greediness should not even be mentioned among them, for those who practice such things have no inheritance in the Kingdom. Paul admonishes the Ephesians: “Go on walking as children of light.” “Keep strict watch” on how you walk, buying out the opportune time, “because the days are wicked.” Yes, they must “go on perceiving what the will of Jehovah is” and speak about the praises of God in a thankful way.—5:8, 15-17.
14 Proper subjection; Christian warfare (5:21–6:24). Wives should be in subjection to husbands, even as the congregation is in subjection to the Christ, and husbands should continue loving their wives, “just as the Christ also loved the congregation.” Likewise, “the wife should have deep respect for her husband.”—5:25, 33.
15 Children should live at unity with parents, in obedience and responding to godly discipline. Slaves and masters also should conduct themselves so as to be pleasing to God, for the Master of all “is in the heavens, and there is no partiality with him.” Finally, let all “go on acquiring power in the Lord and in the mightiness of his strength,” putting on the complete suit of armor from God so as to be able to stand firm against the Devil. “Above all things, take up the large shield of faith,” also “the sword of the spirit, that is, God’s word.” Carry on prayer, and keep awake. Paul asks that they pray also for him, that he may with all freeness of speech “make known the sacred secret of the good news.”—6:9, 10, 16, 17, 19.
*** w08 8/15 p. 27 Highlights From the Letters to the Galatians, the Ephesians, the Philippians, and the Colossians ***
‘GATHERING OF ALL THINGS IN THE CHRIST’(Eph. 1:1–6:24)
Highlighting the theme of Christian unity in his letter to the Ephesians, Paul speaks of “an administration at the full limit of the appointed times . . . to gather all things together again in the Christ, the things in the heavens and the things on the earth.” Christ has given “gifts in men” to help all to “attain to the oneness in the faith.”—Eph. 1:10; 4:8, 13.
To honor God and promote unity, Christians should “put on the new personality” and “be in subjection to one another in fear of Christ.” They also need “to stand firm against the machinations of the Devil” by putting on the complete suit of spiritual armor.—Eph. 4:24; 5:21; 6:11.
Scriptural Questions Answered:1:4-7—How were anointed Christians foreordained long before they were born? They were foreordained as a group, or a class, not as individuals. This took place before the sinful world of mankind came into existence. The prophecy recorded at Genesis 3:15, declared before any sinful human was conceived, includes God’s purpose to have certain followers of Christ rule with him in heaven.—Gal. 3:16, 29.
2:2—How is the spirit of the world like the air, and where does its authority lie? “The spirit of the world”—the spirit of independence and disobedience—is as pervasive as the air we breathe. (1 Cor. 2:12) Its authority, or power, lies in its persuasiveness, persistence, and relentlessness.
2:6—How can anointed Christians be “in the heavenly places” while still on earth? The expression “heavenly places” here does not refer to their promised heavenly inheritance. Rather, it denotes their exalted spiritual position resulting from their being “sealed with the promised holy spirit.”—Eph. 1:13, 14.
Lessons for Us:4:8, 11-15. Jesus Christ “carried away captives,” that is, took men away from Satan’s control to use them as gifts for the building up of the Christian congregation. We can “by love grow up in all things into . . . Christ” by being obedient and submissive to those taking the lead among us and by cooperating with congregation arrangements.—Heb. 13:7, 17.
5:22-24, 33. Besides being in subjection to her husband, a wife is to respect him. She does this by manifesting a “quiet and mild spirit” and by endeavoring to bring him honor as she speaks well of him and works to make his decisions succeed.—1 Pet. 3:3, 4; Titus 2:3-5.
5:25, 28, 29. Just as he “feeds” himself, a husband ought to be a good provider for his wife—physically, emotionally, and spiritually. He should also cherish her by spending adequate time with her and by treating her tenderly in speech and action.
6:10-13. To resist demonic forces, we need to be wholehearted in putting on the suit of spiritual armor from God.
*** w90 11/15 p. 24 Unity Certain Through Christ ***
Unity Certain Through Christ
Highlights From EphesiansEARLY in 52 C.E., the apostle Paul preached in Ephesus. This rich commercial city of Asia Minor was also a center of false religion. But Christianity flourished there after Paul returned to Ephesus, likely by the winter of 52/53 C.E. He gave daily talks in a school auditorium and witnessed from house to house during his stay of some three years.—Acts 19:8-10; 20:20, 21, 31.
While imprisoned in Rome about 60-61 C.E., Paul wrote to the Ephesian Christians. Unity with and through Jesus Christ is his letter’s theme. In fact, it contains 13 references to ‘union with Christ,’ more than any other letter Paul wrote. Like the Ephesians, we can benefit from Paul’s words about Christ’s role, avoiding immorality and resisting wicked spirit forces.
Unity Is God’s PurposeFirst, Paul explained how God would bring about unity through Christ. (1:1-23) Jehovah purposed to gather all things in heaven and on earth together again by means of “an administration” (a way of administering affairs). Through Christ, God would unite with himself those chosen for heavenly life and others who would live on earth. Today, God has united anointed ones and “a great crowd,” and the ‘gathering of all things on earth’ will continue until those in the memorial tombs hear Jesus’ voice and come out. (Revelation 7:9; John 5:28, 29) We should be grateful for this, even as Paul prayed that the Ephesians would appreciate God’s provision for them.
Attention was next directed to Gentile Christians, once dead in sin. (2:1–3:21) By means of Christ, the Law was abolished and the basis laid for Jews and Gentiles to be united and become a temple for God to inhabit by spirit. Paul’s stewardship was to make known the sacred secret that Gentiles may come into union with Christ, through whom they can approach God with freeness of speech. Paul again prayed for the Ephesians, this time asking that Jehovah cause them to become firmly established by faith and love.
Factors Promoting UnityPaul showed that God has supplied unifying factors. (4:1-16) Among these is the one spiritual body that is the congregation. This body functions in unity under the headship of Christ. And he provides gifts in men to help all to oneness in the faith.
Jehovah also makes it possible to display Christian qualities that promote unity. (4:17–6:9) Having put on “the new personality,” Christians avoid such ungodliness as immoral speech. They walk wisely, show respect for Christ, and manifest proper subjection.
Additionally, God enables Christians to resist the wicked spirit forces seeking to disrupt our unity. (6:10-24) Spiritual armor from God provides such protection. So let us use it and pray earnestly, including fellow believers in our supplications.
What fine counsel Paul gave the Ephesians! May we heed it by avoiding immorality and resisting wicked spirit forces. And let us deeply appreciate the unity we enjoy through Jesus Christ.
[Box/Picture on page 24]Burning Missiles: Spiritual armor includes “the large shield of faith” with which to quench, or render harmless, the “burning missiles” of Satan. (Ephesians 6:16) Some missiles used by the Romans were hollow reeds with an iron receptacle under the point that was filled with burning naphtha. They were shot from slack bows to avoid putting out the fire, and dowsing them with water only increased the intensity of the flame. But large shields protected soldiers from such arrows, even as faith in Jehovah enables his servants “to quench all the wicked one’s burning missiles.” Yes, faith helps us to resist such things as attacks by wicked spirits as well as temptations to do wrong, to pursue a materialistic way of life, and to give in to fear and doubt.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE BOOK OF PHILIPPIANS
*** it-2 Philippians, Letter to the ***
There are many fine principles expressed in the letter that provide guidance and encouragement to all Christians. Some of them are:
Chapter and verse Principle1:9, 10 Make sure of the more important things so as not to stumble others over any matter
1:15-18 We can rejoice even when the enemies of the truth speak about it contentiously, for this only serves to publicize the truth
1:19 Prayer by God’s servants is effectual
1:27, 28 Christians’ unity and courage in the presence of their opponents is a proof from God that he will deliver his servants and destroy his enemies
2:5-11 Humility brings exaltation from God
2:27 God can be thanked for his mercy when one of his faithful servants recovers from an illness
3:16 To what extent the Christian has made progress, he should continue walking orderly in this same routine in order to receive the prize
3:20 Christians should look to the heavens, where their citizenship exists, not to earthly connections
4:6, 7 Do not be anxious; in every situation submit your petitions to God, and he will give peace that guards your heart and mental powers
4:8 Consider at all times the right and praiseworthy things
[Box on page 630]
HIGHLIGHTS OF PHILIPPIANSA letter reflecting the special bond of love that existed between Paul and the Christians in Philippi
Written by Paul about 60-61 C.E. while in prison in Rome
Paul’s love for the brothers and his appreciation for their generosityPaul thanks God for the Philippians’ contribution to the furtherance of the good news. Out of deep affection for them, he prays that their love increase and that they make sure of the more important things (1:3-11)
Paul is concerned about the Philippians’ welfare; he hopes to send them Timothy, whom he highly recommends; he is confident that he himself will also visit them shortly (2:19-24)
To reassure the brothers regarding Epaphroditus, whom the Philippians had heard was very sick, Paul is sending them this loyal servant whom they had assigned to minister to Paul (2:25-30)
Although Paul is self-sufficient in all circumstances thanks to the strength granted to him from above, he highly commends the Philippians for their generosity (4:10-19)
Results of Paul’s imprisonmentPaul’s imprisonment has led to the advancement of the good news; his situation is well known among the Praetorian Guard, and most of the brothers are showing more courage to speak the word of God fearlessly (1:12-14)
Some are preaching with a good motive, others with a bad motive—either way, Christ is being publicized; whether Paul lives or dies, he will magnify Christ; but he feels he will live so as to minister to the Philippians (1:15-26)
Upbuilding counsel regarding attitude and conductBehave in a manner worthy of the good news, not being frightened by enemies; opponents will be destroyed, whereas believers will gain salvation (1:27-30)
Display the same mental attitude as Christ by manifesting humility and not being self-seeking (2:1-11)
As blameless children, shine as illuminators among a twisted generation, “keeping a tight grip on the word of life” (2:12-16)
Guard against those promoting circumcision; a Christian’s confidence is in Christ, not in fleshly circumcision (3:1-3)
Paul has the highest standing when it comes to fleshly qualifications, yet he considers all of this as refuse on account of “the excelling value of the knowledge of Christ”; he is pursuing down toward the prize and urges others to do likewise (3:4-21)
Continue rejoicing in the Lord; manifest reasonableness and commit anxieties to God in prayer; fill the mind with wholesome thoughts (4:4-9)
*** si pp. 224-225 Bible Book Number 50—Philippians ***
CONTENTS OF PHILIPPIANS8 Defense and advancement of the good news (1:1-30). Paul and Timothy send greetings, and Paul thanks God for the contribution the Philippians have made to the good news “from the first day until this moment.” He is confident they will carry their good work to a completion, for they are sharers with him in the undeserved kindness, including “the defending and legally establishing of the good news.” He yearns for all of them in tender affection and says: “This is what I continue praying, that your love may abound yet more and more . . . that you may make sure of the more important things.” (1:5, 7, 9, 10) Paul wants them to know that his “affairs have turned out for the advancement of the good news,” in that his prison bonds have become public knowledge and the brothers have been encouraged to speak the word of God fearlessly. While there is gain for Paul to die now, yet he knows that for the sake of their advancement and joy, it is more necessary for him to remain. He counsels them to behave in a manner worthy of the good news, for whether he comes to them or not, he wants to hear that they are fighting on in unity and are ‘in no respect being frightened by their opponents.’—1:12, 28.
9 Keeping the same mental attitude as Christ (2:1-30). Paul encourages the Philippians to lowliness of mind, ‘keeping an eye, not in personal interest upon just their own matters, but also in personal interest upon those of the others.’ They should be of the same mental attitude as Christ Jesus, who, though existing in God’s form, emptied himself to become a man and humbled himself in obedience as far as death, so that God has exalted him and given him a name above every other name. Paul exhorts them: “Keep working out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” “Keep doing all things free from murmurings and arguments,” and keep “a tight grip on the word of life.” (2:4, 12, 14, 16) He hopes to send Timothy to them and is confident that he himself will also come shortly. For the present, that they may rejoice again, he is sending them Epaphroditus, who has recovered from his sickness.
10 “Pursuing down toward the goal” (3:1–4:23). ‘We of the real circumcision,’ says Paul, ‘must look out for the dogs, for those who mutilate the flesh.’ If anyone has grounds for confidence in the flesh, Paul has more so, and his record as a circumcised Jew and a Pharisee proves it. Yet all of this he has considered loss ‘on account of the excelling value of the knowledge of Christ Jesus his Lord.’ Through the righteousness that is by faith, he hopes to “attain to the earlier resurrection from the dead.” (3:2, 3, 8, 11) Therefore, says Paul, “forgetting the things behind and stretching forward to the things ahead, I am pursuing down toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God by means of Christ Jesus.” Let as many as are mature have the same mental attitude. There are those whose god is their belly, who have their minds upon things on the earth, and whose end is destruction, but “as for us,” Paul affirms, “our citizenship exists in the heavens.”—3:13, 14, 20.
11 ‘Rejoice in the Lord,’ Paul exhorts, ‘and let your reasonableness become known to all men. Continue considering the things that are true and of serious concern, things that are righteous, chaste, lovable, well spoken of, virtuous, and praiseworthy. Practice what you learned and accepted and heard and saw in connection with me, and the God of peace will be with you.’ (4:4-9) Paul rejoices greatly in the Philippians’ generous thoughts toward him, though he has the strength for all things “by virtue of him who imparts power.” He thanks them warmly for their gift. From the start of his declaring the good news in Macedonia, they have excelled in giving. In turn, God will fully supply all their “need to the extent of his riches in glory by means of Christ Jesus.” (4:13, 19) He sends greetings from all the holy ones, including those of the household of Caesar.
*** w08 8/15 p. 27 - p. 28 Highlights From the Letters to the Galatians, the Ephesians, the Philippians, and the Colossians ***
“GO ON WALKING ORDERLY”(Phil. 1:1–4:23)
Paul’s letter to the Philippians breathes love. “This is what I continue praying,” he says, “that your love may abound yet more and more with accurate knowledge and full discernment.” Helping them to avoid the snare of overconfidence, he exhorts: “Keep working out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”—Phil. 1:9; 2:12.
Paul encourages those who are mature to pursue “down toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God.” He states: “To what extent we have made progress, let us go on walking orderly in this same routine.”—Phil. 3:14-16.
Scriptural Questions Answered:1:23 and footnote—From what “two things” was Paul under pressure, and what “releasing” did he desire? Because of the circumstances he was in, Paul was under pressure from the two possibilities open to him: life or death. (Phil. 1:21) While not stating what he would choose, he makes known what he desired—“the releasing and the being with Christ.” (Phil. 3:20, 21; 1 Thess. 4:16) This “releasing” during Christ’s presence would result in Paul’s receiving the reward that Jehovah had prepared for him.—Matt. 24:3.
2:12, 13—In what way does God cause us “to will and to act”? Jehovah’s holy spirit can work in our heart and mind to increase our desire to do our very best in his service. Hence, we are not without help as we ‘keep working out our own salvation.’
Lessons for Us:1:3-5. Though they were materially poor, the Philippians set a fine example for us in displaying generosity.—2 Cor. 8:1-6.
2:5-11. As Jesus’ example shows, humility is not a sign of weakness but of moral strength. Moreover, Jehovah exalts humble ones.—Prov. 22:4.
3:13. “The things behind” may be such things as a lucrative career, the security of belonging to a wealthy family, or even serious past sins of which we have repented and “been washed clean.” (1 Cor. 6:11) We should forget these things, that is, cease to be concerned about them, and ‘stretch forward to the things ahead.’
*** w90 11/15 p. 25 Press on Toward the Goal! ***
Press on Toward the Goal!
Highlights From PhilippiansTHE apostle Paul wanted Christians in Philippi to keep pressing on toward the goal for the prize of eternal life. Hence, he wrote to them in about 60 or 61 C.E., during his first imprisonment in Rome. His letter was sent to a congregation he had established some ten years earlier in Philippi, a city founded by Philip of Macedon (father of Alexander the Great). By the first century C.E., it had become “the principal city of the district of Macedonia,” now part of northern Greece and southern Yugoslavia.—Acts 16:11, 12.
Philippian believers were poor but generous. More than once, they had sent something to meet Paul’s needs. (Philippians 4:14-17) But his letter was much more than a thank-you note. It also gave encouragement, expressed love, and provided counsel.
Christian Qualities EvidentPaul’s letter opened with evidence of his love for Philippian believers. (1:1-30) He thanked Jehovah for their contribution to the furthering of the good news and prayed that their love increase. Paul was glad that his imprisonment caused them to show ‘more courage to speak God’s word fearlessly.’ He desired to be with Christ but felt he could yet minister to them. Paul also wanted them to go on “striving side by side for the faith of the good news.”
Next came counsel on attitude and conduct. (2:1-30) The Philippians were encouraged to show personal interest in others and to display humility like that of Christ. They were “shining as illuminators in the world” and were urged to maintain “a tight grip on the word of life.” Paul hoped to send Timothy to them and was confident that he himself would come soon. To reassure them about Epaphroditus, who had been very sick, Paul was sending them this loyal servant.
Keep Pressing Toward the GoalThe apostle next showed the Philippians where to place their confidence as they pressed on toward the goal. (3:1-21) It should be placed in Jesus Christ, not in the flesh or in circumcision as some were doing. Paul considered his fleshly credentials to be refuse on account of “the excelling value of the knowledge of Christ.” The apostle was “pursuing down toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God by means of Christ Jesus” and encouraged the Philippians to be of the same mental attitude.
Applying Paul’s closing counsel would help the Philippians to keep the goal and prize in sight. (4:1-23) He urged them to commit their anxieties to God in prayer and fill their minds with wholesome thoughts. Paul again commended them for their generosity and concluded with greetings and the wish that the undeserved kindness of the Lord Jesus Christ be with the spirit they showed.
Paul’s letter to the Philippians promotes generosity, love, and humility. It encourages confidence in Christ and heartfelt prayer to God. And Paul’s words surely help Witnesses of Jehovah to keep pressing on toward the goal for the prize of eternal life.
[Box/Picture on page 25]Toward the Goal: “Forgetting the things behind and stretching forward to the things ahead,” wrote Paul, “I am pursuing down toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God by means of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13, 14) The apostle was exerting himself like someone in a race. He did not waste time and effort looking back but pressed on toward his goal—like a runner straining to cross the finish line. For Paul and other anointed Christians, the prize was heavenly life by resurrection after finishing an earthly course of faithfulness to God. Whether our hopes are heavenly or earthly, let us keep integrity to Jehovah and press on toward the goal as his Witnesses.—2 Timothy 4:7.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE BOOK OF COLOSSIANS
*** it-1 p. 490 Colossians, Letter to the ***
HIGHLIGHTS OF COLOSSIANSA letter emphasizing appreciation for the God-given position of Christ as the means to counteract wrong views and practices
Written by Paul toward the end of his first imprisonment in Rome
Appreciation for the position of Christ (1:1–2:12)
Commendation for faith in connection with Christ and for love for all the holy ones with whom they share the heavenly hope
Preeminent position given to Christ: He is the image of God, the firstborn of all creation, the one through whom all other things were created, the head of the congregation, the firstborn from the dead
Through Christ reconciliation to God is effected
Concealed in Christ are all the treasures of true wisdom and knowledge
Go on walking in union with him; do not let anyone take you off as his prey through human philosophy
Mosaic Law has been taken out of the way by God through Christ (2:13-23)
God figuratively nailed the Law covenant to the torture stake on which Christ died
Requirements of Law were a shadow; the reality belongs to the Christ
Let no man deprive you of the prize by inducing you to follow commands and teachings of men instead of holding fast to Christ as the head
Put on the new personality, submitting to Christ’s authority (3:1-17)
Keep mind on things above, not on things on the earth
Deaden unclean desires of the flesh; put away wrong attitudes and speech
Clothe selves with compassion, kindness, lowliness of mind, mildness, long-suffering, love
Let the peace of Christ control in hearts
Do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, thanking God through him
Relationships with others should be influenced by appreciation for God and Christ (3:18–4:18)
Wives, husbands, children, slaves, masters to fulfill responsibilities not as men pleasers but with fear of Jehovah, recognizing that Christ in heaven is our Master
Persevere in prayer; walk in wisdom
Personal greetings to fellow servants of the Lord
*** si pp. 227-228 Bible Book Number 51—Colossians ***
CONTENTS OF COLOSSIANS6 Have faith in Christ, the head of the congregation (1:1–2:12). After the opening greetings from Timothy and himself, Paul gives thanks for the Colossians’ faith in Christ and for their love. They have learned of the undeserved kindness of God as a result of Epaphras’ preaching the good news among them. Since hearing the report concerning them, Paul has not ceased praying that they may be filled with “the accurate knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual comprehension, in order to walk worthily of Jehovah” and “to endure fully and be long-suffering with joy.” (1:9-11) The Father has delivered them into “the kingdom of the Son of his love,” who is the image of the invisible God, and through whom and for whom all things have been created. He is the Head of the congregation and the firstborn from the dead. Through Jesus’ blood, God saw good to reconcile all things again to himself, yes, including the once alienated Colossians, ‘provided, of course, that they continue in the faith.’—1:13, 23.
7 Paul rejoices in filling up the sufferings of the Christ in behalf of the congregation, whose minister he became. This was in order to preach fully in their interest the word of God concerning ‘the sacred secret, the glorious riches of which God has now been pleased to make known to his holy ones.’ ‘It is Christ we are publicizing,’ says Paul, ‘admonishing and teaching in all wisdom, that we may present every man complete in union with Christ.’—1:26-28.
8 Paul’s struggle in behalf of the Colossians, the Laodiceans, and others is in order that they may be comforted and harmoniously joined together in love, with a view to their gaining ‘an accurate knowledge of the sacred secret of God, namely, Christ, in whom are carefully concealed all the treasures of wisdom and of knowledge.’ He does not want to see them deluded by persuasive arguments, but, rather, they should go on walking in union with Christ, “rooted and being built up in him and being stabilized in the faith.” Paul now sounds a warning. “Look out: perhaps there may be someone who will carry you off as his prey through the philosophy and empty deception according to the tradition of men.”—2:2, 3, 7, 8.
9 Become dead to works of the flesh but alive to Christ (2:13–3:17). Though they were dead in their trespasses and uncircumcision, God has made them alive together with Christ, blotting out the handwritten document of the Law, which was against the Jews. “Therefore let no man judge” them with respect to the Law or its observances, which are but a shadow of the reality, Christ. Also, if they have died together with Christ toward the elementary things of the world, why do they subject themselves to the decrees: “Do not handle, nor taste, nor touch,” according to the commands and teachings of men? A showy self-imposed form of worship, mock humility, severe treatment of the body—these are of no value in combating desires of the flesh.—2:16, 21.
10 Rather, Paul counsels: “Go on seeking the things above, where the Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Keep your minds fixed on the things above, not on the things upon the earth.” This can be done by stripping off the old personality and putting on the new personality, which through accurate knowledge makes no fleshly distinction between Jew and Greek, for “Christ is all things and in all.” It means becoming clothed “as God’s chosen ones” with the tender affections of compassion, kindness, lowliness of mind, mildness, and long-suffering. Says the apostle: “As Jehovah freely forgave you, so do you also. But, besides all these things, clothe yourselves with love, for it is a perfect bond of union.” In word or in work, everything should be done “in the name of the Lord Jesus, thanking God the Father through him.”—3:1, 2, 11-14, 17.
11 Relationships with others (3:18–4:18). As to family relationships, let wives be subject to husbands and let husbands love their wives, let children obey parents and let not fathers exasperate their children. Slaves are to be obedient to their masters in fear of Jehovah, and masters are to deal righteously with their slaves. Let all persevere in prayer and go on walking in wisdom toward those on the outside. Tychicus and Onesimus will relate to them personally the things concerning Paul and his fellow workers for the Kingdom of God. They send greetings to Colossae, and Paul also greets the brothers at Laodicea, asking that they exchange the letters he is sending. Paul writes a concluding greeting in his own hand: “Continue bearing my prison bonds in mind. The undeserved kindness be with you.”—4:18.
*** w08 8/15 p. 28 Highlights From the Letters to the Galatians, the Ephesians, the Philippians, and the Colossians ***
“BEING STABILIZED IN THE FAITH”(Col. 1:1–4:18)
In his letter to the Colossians, Paul counteracts the wrong views of false teachers. Salvation depends, he reasons, not on the requirements of the Law, but on ‘continuing in the faith.’ Paul encourages the Colossians to “go on walking in union with [Christ], rooted and being built up in him and being stabilized in the faith.” How should such stabilization affect them?—Col. 1:23; 2:6, 7.
“Besides all these things,” writes Paul, “clothe yourselves with love, for it is a perfect bond of union. Also, let the peace of the Christ control in your hearts.” The apostle tells them: “Whatever you are doing, work at it whole-souled as to Jehovah, and not to men.” Regarding those outside the congregation, he says: “Go on walking in wisdom toward” them.—Col. 3:14, 15, 23; 4:5.
Scriptural Questions Answered:2:8—What are “the elementary things of the world” against which Paul warned? These are the elements of Satan’s world—basic things or principles that make up, guide, or motivate it. (1 John 2:16) Included among these are the philosophy, materialism, and false religions of this world.
4:16—Why is the letter to the Laodiceans not part of the Bible? This could be because the letter did not contain information necessary for today. Or it may be that it repeated points from other canonical letters.
Lessons for Us:1:2, 20. The ransom, a provision of God’s undeserved kindness, can clear our conscience of guilt and give us inner peace.
2:18, 23. “Mock humility”—a pretense of humility to impress others perhaps by renouncing material things or by treating the body with severity—is an indication of one’s being ‘puffed up by one’s fleshly frame of mind.’
*** w90 11/15 p. 26 Maintain Faith in God and Christ ***
Maintain Faith in God and Christ
Highlights From ColossiansFAITH in Jehovah God and Jesus Christ is vital for salvation. But maintaining such faith is a challenge. That was so for Christians in Colossae, a city east of Ephesus in Asia Minor. Why? Because false teachers there wrongly held that salvation depended on circumcision, what one ate, and the keeping of certain observances.
Understandably, then, the apostle Paul was concerned about the spiritual welfare of the Christians of Colossae, and he certainly wanted them to maintain their faith in God and Christ. So toward the end of the apostle’s first imprisonment in Rome (about 60-61 C.E.), he wrote the Colossians a letter designed to counteract wrong views and build up their faith. Let us see how we too can benefit from his loving words.
Appreciate Christ’s PositionEarly in his letter, Paul highlighted appreciation for Jesus’ position. (1:1–2:12) He commended the Colossians for their faith in connection with Christ and their love for fellow believers. Paul cited Christ’s preeminence as the One through whom all other things were created, the Head of the congregation, and the firstborn from the dead. Reconciliation with God is effected through Christ, in whom are concealed all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. In view of all of this, Christians should go on walking in union with Christ and let no one carry them off as prey through human philosophy.
Through Christ, God took the Law out of the way. (2:13-23) It was figuratively nailed to the stake on which Jesus died. The Law’s requirements were merely “a shadow of the things to come, but the reality belongs to the Christ.” By holding fast to Christ, they would let no man deprive them of the prize of immortal life in the heavens.
Appreciate God and ChristPaul next urged the Colossians to put on the new personality and submit to the authority of Jesus Christ. (3:1-17) By keeping their minds on the things above, they would be giving spiritual interests priority in life. This required putting away wrong attitudes and speech. How blessed they would be if they clothed themselves with such qualities as compassion, lowliness of mind, and love! The peace of Christ would control in their hearts if they did everything in Jesus’ name, thanking God through him.
Appreciation for Jehovah God and Jesus Christ should also influence a Christian’s relationships with others. (3:18–4:18) Wives, husbands, children, slaves, and masters were to fulfill their duties with fear of God and in recognition of Christ. And how necessary it is to persevere in prayer and walk in wisdom!
Paul’s letter to the Colossians can help us to avoid false teachings that would deprive us of the prize of life. The apostle’s emphasis on recognizing the authority of Jehovah and his Son can have a fine influence on our dealings with others. And rich blessings are assured us if we maintain our faith in God and Christ.
[Box/Picture on page 26]Letter to Laodicea: “When this letter has been read among you,” wrote Paul to the Colossians, “arrange that it also be read in the congregation of the Laodiceans and that you also read the one from Laodicea.” (Colossians 4:16) Laodicea was a rich city in western Asia Minor, linked by roads with such cities as Philadelphia and Ephesus. Likely, Paul’s work at Ephesus reached as far as Laodicea, though he did not minister there. He sent a letter to the Laodicean Christians, although some scholars believe that it was a duplicate of the one he wrote to the Ephesians. The letter to Laodicea is not found in the Bible, possibly because it did not contain information we need today, or perhaps it repeated points adequately covered in other canonical letters.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE BOOK OF 1 - 2 THESSALONIANS
*** it-2 p. 1090 Thessalonians, Letters to the ***
HIGHLIGHTS OF FIRST THESSALONIANSEncouragement and counsel to a relatively new congregation
Written by Paul about 50 C.E., a few months after he had left Thessalonica because of mob violence
Commendation for the congregation (1:1-10)
Paul warmly commends the Thessalonians for their faithful work and enduranceThe Thessalonians have become an example to other believers in accepting the word under tribulation and with the joy that God’s spirit produces
Everywhere it is being reported how they abandoned idolatry and turned to slaving for the living God and to waiting for Jesus
Paul’s example when among them (2:1-12)
After suffering insolent treatment at Philippi, Paul drew strength from God and preached boldly to the Thessalonians
Paul shunned flattery, covetousness, and glory-seekingHe avoided becoming a burden to the brothers, but instead treated them gently as a nursing mother would and exhorted them as a loving father
Encouragement to remain firm in the face of persecution (2:13–3:13)
The brothers in Thessalonica, after accepting the message proclaimed to them as the word of God, were persecuted by their fellow countrymen; the same things have happened in Judea, where Christians are suffering at the hands of Jews
Paul has greatly desired to see the Thessalonians; when he could no longer bear the lack of news about them, he sent Timothy, and Timothy has just returned with good news about their spiritual condition
Paul prays for their continued increaseAdmonition regarding attitude and conduct (4:1–5:28)
Walk more fully in the course pleasing to God; abstain from fornication
Love the brothers to an even greater degree; work with your hands so that even people outside can see that you walk decently
Comfort one another with the hope that at Christ’s presence spirit-begotten believers who have died will be raised first and united with Christ; afterward those still living will join him and the resurrected ones
Jehovah’s day is coming as a thief—when they say: “Peace and security!” sudden destruction will come; in view of this, remain spiritually awake, protected by faith and love as a breastplate and by the hope of salvation as a helmet
Have deep regard for those presiding in the congregation; be peaceable, pursue what is good, always rejoice, render thanksgiving, make sure of all things, hold fast to what is fine, and abstain from wickedness
*** si pp. 230-231 Bible Book Number 52—1 Thessalonians ***
CONTENTS OF FIRST THESSALONIANS6 Thessalonians an example to other believers (1:1-10). Paul begins his letter to the Thessalonians with warm commendation for their faithful work, loving labor, and endurance in hope. The good news preached among them had not been with speech alone but ‘also with power and strong conviction.’ Imitating the example given them, the Thessalonians had accepted the word “with joy of holy spirit” and had themselves become an example to all the believers in Macedonia, Achaia, and even beyond. They had turned completely from their idols, “to slave for a living and true God, and to wait for his Son from the heavens.”—1:5, 6, 9, 10.
7 Paul’s loving concern for the Thessalonians (2:1–3:13). After receiving insolent treatment in Philippi, Paul and his companions mustered up boldness to preach to the Thessalonians. This they did not as men pleasers or as flatterers or as seeking glory from men. On the contrary, says Paul, “we became gentle in the midst of you, as when a nursing mother cherishes her own children. So, having a tender affection for you, we were well pleased to impart to you, not only the good news of God, but also our own souls, because you became beloved to us.” (2:7, 8) They kept exhorting the Thessalonians, as a father does his children, to go on walking worthily of God, who was calling them to his Kingdom and glory.
8 Paul commends them for their ready acceptance of the good news for what it is, “the word of God.” They are not alone in being persecuted by their own countrymen, for the first believers in Judea suffered similar persecutions at the hands of the Jews. Anxious about their welfare, Paul, on two occasions, wanted to come to them in person but was thwarted by Satan. To Paul and his coworkers, the Thessalonian brothers are a crown of exultation, their “glory and joy.” (2:13, 20) When he could no longer bear the lack of news concerning them, Paul sent Timothy to Thessalonica to make firm their faith and to comfort them. Now Timothy has just returned with the good news of their spiritual prosperity and love, and this has brought comfort and joy to the apostle. Paul gives thanks to God and prays that the Lord may give them increase, that they may abound in love to one another, and that their hearts may be “unblamable in holiness” before God the Father at the presence of the Lord Jesus.—3:13.
9 Serving in sanctification and honor (4:1-12). Paul commends the Thessalonians for walking so as to please God, and he exhorts them to keep on doing it more fully. Each one “should know how to get possession of his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in covetous sexual appetite.” In this, no one should encroach upon his brother’s rights. For God called them, “not with allowance for uncleanness, but in connection with sanctification. So, then, the man that shows disregard is disregarding, not man, but God.” (4:4, 5, 7, 8) Paul commends the Thessalonians because they are showing love one to another, and he exhorts them to keep doing this in fuller measure, making it their aim to live quietly and to mind their own business and to work with their hands. For they must walk decently “as regards people outside.”—4:12.
10 The resurrection hope (4:13-18). With regard to those sleeping in death, the brothers must not sorrow as do those who have no hope. If their faith is that Jesus died and rose again, so, too, God through Jesus will raise others who have fallen asleep in death. At the presence of the Lord, he will descend from heaven with a commanding call, “and those who are dead in union with Christ will rise first.” Afterward, those surviving will “be caught away in clouds to meet the Lord in the air,” to be always with the Lord.—4:16, 17.
11 Keeping awake as Jehovah’s day approaches (5:1-28). “Jehovah’s day is coming exactly as a thief in the night.” It is when people are saying “Peace and security!” that sudden destruction will be instantly upon them. Let the Thessalonians, therefore, stay awake as “sons of light and sons of day,” keeping their senses and having “on the breastplate of faith and love and as a helmet the hope of salvation.” (5:2, 3, 5, 8) This is a time for them to keep comforting and building one another up. Let all give “more than extraordinary consideration in love” to those working hard and presiding among them. On the other hand, the disorderly must be admonished, the weak built up, and all must be shown long-suffering. Yes, writes Paul, “always pursue what is good toward one another and to all others.”—5:13, 15.
12 Finally, Paul counsels on a number of vital matters: ‘Always be rejoicing. Pray incessantly, giving thanks for everything. Maintain the fire of the spirit. Have respect for prophesyings. Make sure of all things and hold fast to what is fine. Abstain from every form of wickedness.’ (5:16-22) Then he prays for the very God of peace to sanctify them completely and that they may remain blameless in spirit, soul, and body at the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. He closes the letter with warm words of encouragement and with solemn instruction that the letter be read to all the brothers.
*** w91 1/15 p. 22 Be Ready for Jehovah’s Day! ***
Be Ready for Jehovah’s Day!
Highlights From First ThessaloniansJEHOVAH’S day! Christians in ancient Thessalonica thought it was imminent. Were they right? When would it come? That was one vital matter addressed in the apostle Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians, sent from Corinth in about the year 50 of our Common Era.
Paul and Silas established the congregation in Thessalonica, the administrative seat of the Roman province of Macedonia. (Acts 17:1-4) Later, in his first letter to the Thessalonians, Paul offered commendation, provided admonition, and discussed Jehovah’s day. We too can benefit from this letter, especially with the day of Jehovah now so near.
Commend and EncouragePaul first commended the Thessalonians. (1:1-10) Commendation was due for their faithful work and endurance. It was commendable, too, that they “accepted the word under much tribulation with joy of holy spirit.” Do you commend others, as Paul did?
The apostle had set a fine example. (2:1-12) Despite insolent treatment in Philippi, he had ‘mustered up boldness by means of God to speak the good news’ to the Thessalonians. He had shunned flattery, covetousness, and glory seeking. Paul had not become an expensive burden but was as gentle with them as a nursing mother is with her child. What a fine example for elders today!
Paul’s next words encouraged the Thessalonians to remain firm when persecuted. (2:13–3:13) They had endured persecution by their countrymen, and Timothy had brought Paul a good report about their spiritual condition. The apostle prayed that they abound in love and that their hearts be made firm. Similarly, Jehovah’s Witnesses now pray for persecuted fellow believers, encourage them if possible, and rejoice in reports of their faithfulness.
Remain Spiritually Awake!The Thessalonians next received counsel. (4:1-18) They were to walk more fully in a course pleasing to God, displaying more brotherly love and working with their hands to meet their needs. Moreover, they were to comfort one another with the hope that at Jesus’ presence spirit-begotten believers who had died would be raised first and be united with him. Afterward, surviving anointed ones would at their death and resurrection join Christ and those who had already been resurrected to heavenly life.
Paul next discussed the day of Jehovah and offered further counsel. (5:1-28) Jehovah’s day was coming as a thief, with sudden destruction certain after the cry: “Peace and security!” So the Thessalonians were to remain spiritually awake, protected by the breastplate of faith and love and by the hope of salvation as a helmet. They were to have deep regard for those presiding in the congregation and were to abstain from wickedness, as we must.
Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians should prompt us to give commendation and encouragement to fellow believers. It should also move us to be exemplary in conduct and attitude. And surely its counsel can help us to be ready for Jehovah’s day.
[Box/Picture on page 22]Breastplate and Helmet: Urging spiritual wakefulness, Paul wrote: “Let us keep our senses and have on the breastplate of faith and love and as a helmet the hope of salvation.” (1 Thessalonians 5:8) A breastplate was a warrior’s armored breast protector, consisting of scales, chains, or solid metal. Similarly, the breastplate of faith protects us spiritually. And what about the ancient helmet? Often made of metal, it was a military headgear designed to protect a fighter during battle. As a helmet protected the head of a warrior, so the hope of salvation protects the mental powers, thus enabling a Christian to maintain integrity. How vital that Jehovah’s people wear such spiritual armor!—Ephesians 6:11-17.
*** w08 9/15 p. 29 - p. 30 Highlights From the Letters to the Thessalonians and to Timothy ***
“STAY AWAKE”(1 Thess. 1:1–5:28)
Paul commends the Thessalonians for ‘their faithful work, their loving labor, and their endurance.’ He tells them that they are his ‘hope and joy and crown of exultation.’—1 Thess. 1:3; 2:19.
After encouraging the Christians in Thessalonica to comfort one another with the resurrection hope, Paul states: “Jehovah’s day is coming exactly as a thief in the night.” He counsels them to “stay awake” and keep their senses.—1 Thess. 4:16-18; 5:2, 6.
Scriptural Questions Answered:4:15-17—Who are “caught away in clouds to meet the Lord in the air,” and how does this happen? These are anointed Christians who are alive during Christ’s presence in Kingdom power. They “meet the Lord” Jesus in the invisible heavenly realm. To experience this, though, they first need to die and be resurrected as spirit creatures. (Rom. 6:3-5; 1 Cor. 15:35, 44) Christ’s presence has already begun, so anointed Christians who die today do not remain dead. They are “caught away,” or raised instantly.—1 Cor. 15:51, 52.
5:23—What did Paul mean when he prayed that “the spirit and soul and body of [the] brothers be preserved”? Paul was referring to the spirit, soul, and body of the composite Christian congregation, which included spirit-anointed Christians in Thessalonica. Instead of simply praying that the congregation be preserved, he prayed for the preservation of its “spirit,” or mental disposition. He also prayed for its “soul,” its life, or existence, and for its “body”—the composite body of anointed Christians. (1 Cor. 12:12, 13) The prayer thus highlights Paul’s intense concern for the congregation.
Lessons for Us:1:3, 7; 2:13; 4:1-12; 5:15. An effective way to give counsel is to mix due commendation with encouragement to do better.
4:1, 9, 10. Jehovah’s worshippers should continue to make spiritual progress.
5:1-3, 8, 20, 21. As Jehovah’s day approaches, we should “keep our senses and have on the breastplate of faith and love and as a helmet the hope of salvation.” Moreover, we should pay serious attention to God’s prophetic Word, the Bible.
*** it-2 p. 1091 Thessalonians, Letters to the ***
HIGHLIGHTS OF SECOND THESSALONIANSA letter to correct a wrong view regarding Christ’s presence and to offer counsel on how to treat disorderly persons
Written by Paul shortly after his first letter to the Thessalonians
Relief to come at the revelation of Christ (1:1-12)
The Thessalonians are commended for their endurance and faith while experiencing persecutions and distress
Relief will come at Christ’s revelation; then Jesus Christ, accompanied by powerful angels, will destroy those not obeying the good news and will be glorified in connection with his holy ones
Paul prays that the Thessalonians will be counted worthy so that the Lord Jesus’ name will be glorified in them
Man of lawlessness to be revealed before the presence of Christ (2:1-17)
The Thessalonians are admonished not to be unsettled or excited by any message suggesting that Jehovah’s day is already upon them
The apostasy has to come first, and the man of lawlessness has to be revealed; he will lift himself up over every object of reverence and display himself to be a god
When he that acts as a restraint is removed, the lawless one will be revealed, he whose presence is marked by lying signs and every unrighteous deception in order to deceive those who are perishing
Jesus Christ will bring him to nothing at the manifestation of his presence
How to deal with disorderly persons (3:1-18)
Withdraw from disorderly ones, those meddling in what does not concern them, those disregarding the order: “If anyone does not want to work, neither let him eat”
Mark such ones as persons with whom there is to be no fraternizing, but admonish them as brothers so that they may change their ways
*** si pp. 232-233 Bible Book Number 53—2 Thessalonians ***
CONTENTS OF SECOND THESSALONIANS5 The revelation of the Lord Jesus (1:1-12). Paul and his companions thank God on account of the fine growth of the Thessalonians’ faith and their love toward one another. Their endurance and faith under persecutions are proof of God’s righteous judgment that they are counted worthy of the Kingdom. God will repay tribulation to those who make it for the congregation, and he will give relief to those who suffer. This will be “at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with his powerful angels . . . at the time he comes to be glorified in connection with his holy ones.” (1:7, 10) Paul and his companions always pray for the Thessalonians, that God may count them worthy of His calling and that the name of the Lord Jesus may be glorified in them and they in union with him.
6 Apostasy to come before Jesus’ presence (2:1-12). The brothers should not become excited by any message that the day of Jehovah is here. “It will not come unless the apostasy comes first and the man of lawlessness gets revealed, the son of destruction.” They know now “the thing that acts as a restraint,” but the mystery of this lawlessness is already at work. When this restraint is removed, “then, indeed, the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will do away with by the spirit of his mouth and bring to nothing by the manifestation of his presence.” The lawless one’s presence is according to the operation of Satan with powerful works and deception, and God is permitting an operation of error to go to those who did not accept the love of the truth that they may get to believe the lie.—2:3, 6, 8.
7 Stand firm in faith (2:13–3:18). Paul continues: “We are obligated to thank God always for you, brothers loved by Jehovah, because God selected you from the beginning for salvation by sanctifying you with spirit and by your faith in the truth.” To this end the good news was declared to them. The brothers should therefore stand firm and maintain their hold on the traditions they were taught, that Jesus Christ and the Father, who lovingly gave everlasting comfort and hope, may make them “firm in every good deed and word.” (2:13, 17) Paul asks for their prayers, “that the word of Jehovah may keep moving speedily and being glorified.” (3:1) The Lord, who is faithful, will make them firm and keep them from the wicked one, and it is Paul’s prayer that the Lord continue directing their hearts successfully into love of God and into endurance for the Christ.
8 Strong admonition follows: “Now we are giving you orders, brothers, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, to withdraw from every brother walking disorderly and not according to the tradition you received from us.” (3:6) The apostle reminds them of the example his missionary group gave, laboring night and day so as not to become an expense to them, so that they were able to give the order: “If anyone does not want to work, neither let him eat.” But now they hear that certain disorderly ones are not working and are meddlers. These should get to earning their own food.—2 Thess. 3:10; 1 Thess. 4:11.
9 The brothers should not give up in doing right. But if one of them is not obedient to Paul’s letter, the congregation should shame him by marking him and no longer associating with him, at the same time admonishing him as a brother. Paul expresses the prayer that the Lord of peace may give them “peace constantly in every way,” and he concludes his letter with greetings in his own hand.—2 Thess. 3:16.
*** w91 1/15 p. 23 “Do Not Give Up in Doing Right” ***
“Do Not Give Up in Doing Right”
Highlights From Second ThessaloniansTHE apostle Paul’s concern for Christians in the Macedonian city of Thessalonica moved him to write his second letter to them, about the year 51 C.E. Some in the congregation were wrongly saying that the presence of Jesus Christ was imminent. Perhaps even a letter incorrectly attributed to Paul was interpreted as indicating that “the day of Jehovah” had arrived.—2 Thessalonians 2:1, 2.
The thinking of some Thessalonians therefore required adjustment. In his second letter, Paul commended them for their growing faith, increasing love, and faithful endurance. But he also showed that apostasy would come before Jesus’ presence. So there were difficult times ahead, and the apostle’s letter would help them to heed his admonition: “Do not give up in doing right.” (2 Thessalonians 3:13) Paul’s words can help us in the same way.
Christ’s Revelation and PresencePaul first spoke of relief from tribulation. (1:1-12) This would come “at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with his powerful angels.” Everlasting destruction would then be brought upon those not obeying the good news. It is comforting to remember this when we suffer tribulation at the hands of persecutors.
Next, Paul pointed out that “the man of lawlessness” would be revealed before Christ’s presence. (2:1-17) The Thessalonians were not to be excited by any message suggesting that “the day of Jehovah” was already upon them. First, the apostasy would occur and the man of lawlessness would be revealed. Thereafter, Jesus would bring him to nothing, doing so at the manifestation of His presence. Meanwhile, Paul prayed that God and Christ comfort the hearts of the Thessalonians and make them “firm in every good deed and word.”
Dealing With the DisorderlyAmong Paul’s further words were instructions on dealing with disorderly individuals. (3:1-18) He expressed confidence that the Lord would strengthen the Thessalonians and keep them from the wicked one, Satan the Devil. But they needed to take steps for their own spiritual benefit. They were to withdraw from disorderly ones, those meddling in matters that did not concern them and refusing to work. “If anyone does not want to work,” said Paul, “neither let him eat.” Such persons were to be marked, and there was to be no fraternizing with them, although they were to be admonished as brothers. Faithful Thessalonian Christians were not to give up in doing right, and Paul desired that the undeserved kindness of the Lord Jesus Christ be with all of them.
Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians gives Jehovah’s Witnesses the assurance that relief from their tribulation will come when Christ and his angels bring vengeance upon those not obeying the good news. It is also faith strengthening to know that “the man of lawlessness” (the clergy class of Christendom) and all false religion will soon be brought to an end. In the meantime, let us heed Paul’s admonition not to give up in doing right.
[Box/Picture on page 23]Jehovah’s Word Moving Speedily: “Carry on prayer for us,” wrote Paul, “that the word of Jehovah may keep moving speedily [or, “may be running”] and being glorified just as it is in fact with you.” (2 Thessalonians 3:1; Kingdom Interlinear) Some scholars have suggested that the apostle was alluding to runners moving speedily in a race. While that is uncertain, Paul requested the prayers of Thessalonian Christians so that he and his coworkers might spread the word of truth with urgency and without hindrance. Because God answers such prayers, his word is “moving speedily” as the good news is preached with urgency in these last days. Jehovah’s word is also “being glorified,” highly esteemed by believers as “God’s power for salvation,” as it was among Thessalonians who accepted it. (Romans 1:16; 1 Thessalonians 2:13) How glad we are that God is blessing Kingdom proclaimers and speedily increasing the ranks of his worshipers!—Isaiah 60:22.
*** w08 9/15 p. 30 Highlights From the Letters to the Thessalonians and to Timothy ***
“STAND FIRM”(2 Thess. 1:1–3:18)
Twisting what Paul said in his first letter, some in the congregation apparently contend that “the presence of [the] Lord” is at hand. To correct that viewpoint, Paul relates what has to ‘come first.’—2 Thess. 2:1-3.
Paul exhorts: “Stand firm and maintain your hold on the traditions that you were taught.” He gives them orders “to withdraw from every brother walking disorderly.”—2 Thess. 2:15; 3:6.
Scriptural Questions Answered:2:3, 8—Who is “the man of lawlessness,” and how will he be done away with? This composite “man” is the clergy class of Christendom. The one authorized to declare God’s judgments against the wicked and to give orders to execute them is “the Word”—God’s Chief Spokesman, Jesus Christ. (John 1:1) Hence, it can be said that Jesus will do away with the man of lawlessness “by the spirit [activating force] of his mouth.”
2:13, 14—How have the anointed Christians been ‘selected from the beginning for salvation’? The anointed as a class were foreordained when Jehovah purposed for the seed of the woman to bruise Satan in the head. (Gen. 3:15) Jehovah also prescribed the requirements they must meet, the work they would do, and the testing they would undergo. He thus called them for ‘this destiny.’
Lessons for Us:1:6-9. Jehovah’s judgments are executed selectively.
3:8-12. The nearness of Jehovah’s day should not be used as an excuse for not working to provide for our needs and to support ourselves in the ministry. Idleness can make us lazy and induce us to become “a busybody in other people’s matters.”—1 Pet. 4:15.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE BOOK OF 1 - 2 TIMOTHY
*** it-2 p. 1107 Timothy, Letters to ***
HIGHLIGHTS OF FIRST TIMOTHYCounsel to a Christian elder regarding his responsibilities
Written by the apostle Paul evidently sometime after his release from his first imprisonment in Rome
Counsel for Timothy’s own spiritual well-being
Wage spiritual warfare, maintaining faith and a good conscience (1:18, 19)
Your concern should be, not with bodily training, but with godly devotion; do not let others look down on your youth but rather be a good example and make advancement (4:7b-16)
Do not appoint someone hastily to a position, so as to avoid being a sharer in sins of others (5:22)
Warnings against corrupting influences in the congregation
Command certain ones not to teach different doctrines, nor to pay attention to false stories and genealogies (1:3, 4)
Certain ones have deviated from love and unhypocritical faith; they want to be teachers of law but lack understanding of its intent (1:5-11)
In later periods of time there will be a falling away from the faith (4:1-5)
Counteract wrong influences; be nourished with words of faith; reject false stories (4:6, 7a)
False teaching breeds envy, strife, abusive speeches, suspicions, violent disputes, and the use of what is godly for selfish gain (6:3-5)
Flee from bad fruitage resulting from love of money; fight the fine fight of the faith and resist false doctrine (6:11, 12, 20, 21)
Qualifications for those appointed to serve as overseers and ministerial servants
Overseer’s qualifications include his being irreprehensible; having only one wife; being sound in mind, orderly, hospitable, qualified to teach, self-controlled as to drink and temper, reasonable; not loving money; presiding well over his household; not being a new convert; and having a good reputation outside the congregation (3:1-7)
Ministerial servants must be serious, not double-tongued, not heavy drinkers, nor greedy of dishonest gain, first tested as to fitness, free from accusation, presiding well over their households (3:8-10, 12, 13)
Instructions regarding various congregation needs
Prayers should be offered for all sorts of men—including rulers, to the end that Christians may live peaceably with godly devotion; it is God’s will that all sorts of men should be saved (2:1-4)
There is only one God and one mediator, Jesus Christ, so men offering prayers should lift up “loyal hands, apart from wrath and debates” (2:5-8)
Women should dress in a modest, becoming manner, reflecting reverence for God; they may not teach in the congregation or exercise authority over a man (2:9-15)
Only widows aged 60 and over who have a fine reputation and no living children or grandchildren should be included on the list of those to receive material help from the congregation (5:3-16)
Elders working hard in speaking and teaching should be viewed as deserving of “double honor” (5:17, 18)
Do not accept an accusation against an older man unless there are two or three witnesses; practicers of sin must be reproved before all onlookers (5:19-21)
Slaves should be exemplary in subjection to their owners, especially if their masters are fellow believers (6:1, 2)
All should be content if they have sustenance and covering; the love of money is a root of injurious things, and those determined to be rich come to spiritual harm (6:6-10)
Wealthy ones must not be arrogant, trusting in riches; rather, they should be ready to share generously with needy ones (6:17-19)
*** si pp. 235-236 Bible Book Number 54—1 Timothy ***
CONTENTS OF FIRST TIMOTHY7 Exhortation to faith with a good conscience (1:1-20). After greeting Timothy as “a genuine child in the faith,” Paul encourages him to remain in Ephesus. He is to correct those teaching a “different doctrine,” which is leading to useless questions rather than to a dispensing of faith. Paul says the objective of this mandate is “love out of a clean heart and out of a good conscience and out of faith without hypocrisy.” He adds: “By deviating from these things certain ones have been turned aside into idle talk.”—1:2, 3, 5, 6.
8 Though Paul was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor, nevertheless, the undeserved kindness of the Lord “abounded exceedingly along with faith and love that is in connection with Christ Jesus,” so that he was shown mercy. He had been the foremost of sinners; and thus he became a demonstration of the long-suffering of Christ Jesus, who “came into the world to save sinners.” How worthy is the King of eternity to receive honor and glory forever! Paul charges Timothy to wage a fine warfare, “holding faith and a good conscience.” He must not be like those who have “experienced shipwreck concerning their faith,” such as Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom Paul has disciplined on account of blasphemy.—1:14, 15, 19.
9 Instructions regarding worship and organization in the congregation (2:1–6:2). Prayers are to be made concerning all sorts of men, including those in high station, to the end that Christians may live peaceably in godly devotion. It is the will of God, the Savior, that “all sorts of men should be saved and come to an accurate knowledge of truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, a man, Christ Jesus, who gave himself a corresponding ransom for all.” (2:4-6) Paul was appointed an apostle and teacher of these things. So he calls on the men to pray in loyalty and the women to dress modestly and sensibly, as befits those who reverence God. A woman must learn in silence and not exercise authority over a man, “for Adam was formed first, then Eve.”—2:13.
10 The man who reaches out to be an overseer is desirous of a fine work. Paul then lists the qualifications for overseers and ministerial servants. An overseer must be “irreprehensible, a husband of one wife, moderate in habits, sound in mind, orderly, hospitable, qualified to teach, not a drunken brawler, not a smiter, but reasonable, not belligerent, not a lover of money, a man presiding over his own household in a fine manner, having children in subjection with all seriousness . . . , not a newly converted man . . . He should also have a fine testimony from people on the outside.” (3:2-7) There are similar requirements for ministerial servants, and they should be tested as to fitness before serving. Paul writes these things in order that Timothy may know how he ought to conduct himself in the congregation of God, which is “a pillar and support of the truth.”—3:15.
11 In later times some will fall away from the faith through the teachings of demons. Hypocritical men speaking lies will forbid marriage and command to abstain from foods that God created to be partaken of with thanksgiving. As a fine minister, Timothy must turn down false stories and ‘old women’s tales.’ On the other hand, he should be training himself with godly devotion as his aim. “To this end we are working hard and exerting ourselves,” says Paul, “because we have rested our hope on a living God, who is a Savior of all sorts of men, especially of faithful ones.” Therefore Timothy must keep on giving these commands and teaching them. He is to let no man look down on his youth but, on the contrary, become an example in conduct and godly service. He is to be absorbed in these things and to pay constant attention to himself and to his teaching, for in staying by these things, he will ‘save both himself and those listening to him.’—4:7, 10, 16.
12 Paul counsels Timothy on how to deal with individuals: older men as fathers, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters. Suitable provision is to be made for those who are really widows. However, a widow’s family should care for her if possible. To fail in this would be to disown the faith. When at least 60 years of age, a widow may be put on the list if there is “a witness borne to her for fine works.” (5:10) On the other hand, younger widows, who let their sexual impulses control them, should be turned down. Rather than gadding about and gossiping, let them marry and bear children, so as to give no inducement to the opposer.
13 The older men who preside in a fine way should be reckoned worthy of double honor, “especially those who work hard in speaking and teaching.” (5:17) An accusation is not to be admitted against an older man except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. Persons who practice sin are to be reproved before all onlookers, but there is to be no prejudgment or bias in these things. Slaves should respect their owners, giving good service, especially to brothers, who are “believers and beloved.”—6:2.
14 Counsel on “godly devotion along with self-sufficiency” (6:3-21). The man that does not assent to healthful words is puffed up with pride and is mentally diseased over questionings, leading to violent disputes over trifles. On the other hand, “godly devotion along with self-sufficiency” is a means of great gain. One should be content with sustenance and covering. The determination to be rich is a snare leading to destruction, and the love of money is “a root of all sorts of injurious things.” Paul urges Timothy, as a man of God, to flee from these things, to pursue Christian virtues, to fight the fine fight of the faith, and to “get a firm hold on the everlasting life.” (6:6, 10, 12) He must observe the commandment “in a spotless and irreprehensible way” until the manifestation of the Lord Jesus Christ. Those who are rich should “rest their hope, not on uncertain riches, but on God,” in order to get a firm hold on the real life. Paul, in closing, encourages Timothy to guard his doctrinal trust and to turn away from defiling speeches and from “the contradictions of the falsely called ‘knowledge.’”—6:14, 17, 20.
*** w91 1/15 p. 30 Hold Faith and a Good Conscience ***
Hold Faith and a Good Conscience
Highlights From First TimothyABOUT the year 56 C.E., the apostle Paul warned elders of the Ephesus congregation that “oppressive wolves” would rise among them and “speak twisted things to draw away the disciples after themselves.” (Acts 20:29, 30) In a few years, apostate teaching had become so serious that Paul urged Timothy to wage spiritual warfare inside the congregation to preserve its purity and help fellow believers to remain in the faith. That was a major reason why Paul wrote his first letter to Timothy from Macedonia about 61-64 C.E.
Timothy was instructed about an elder’s duties, the God-assigned place of women, qualifications of elders and ministerial servants, and other matters. Such instruction is also beneficial today.
Exhortation to FaithPaul opened with counsel to hold faith and a good conscience. (1:1-20) He encouraged Timothy to remain in Ephesus and “command certain ones not to teach different doctrine.” Paul was grateful for the ministry assigned to him, acknowledging that he had acted in ignorance and with a lack of faith when he persecuted Jesus’ followers. The apostle charged Timothy to go on waging spiritual warfare, “holding faith and a good conscience” and not becoming like those who “experienced shipwreck concerning their faith.”
Counsel on WorshipNext, Paul gave counsel as “a teacher of nations in the matter of faith and truth.” (2:1-15) Prayers were to be offered concerning those in high station so that Christians might live peaceably. It is God’s will that all sorts of men be saved, and a vital teaching is that Christ “gave himself a corresponding ransom for all.” Paul showed that a woman should adorn herself with modesty and must not exercise authority over a man.
The congregation must be well organized. (3:1-16) So Paul set out the qualifications of overseers and ministerial servants. From the things the apostle wrote, Timothy would know how to conduct himself in the congregation, “a pillar and support of the truth.”
Paul gave Timothy personal counsel to help him guard against false teaching. (4:1-16) In later times some would fall away from the faith. But by paying constant attention to himself and to his teaching, Timothy would ‘save himself and those listening to him.’
Timothy also received counsel on dealing with individuals, young and old. (5:1-25) For example, suitable provisions were to be made for older widows with a fine Christian reputation. Rather than gossiping, younger widows should marry and bear children. Older men presiding in a fine way were to be reckoned worthy of double honor.
Godly Devotion With Self-SufficiencyCounsel on godly devotion ended Paul’s letter. (6:1-21) “Godly devotion along with self-sufficiency” is a means of great gain, but determination to be rich leads to destruction and ruin. Paul urged Timothy to fight the fine fight of the faith and ‘get a firm hold on everlasting life.’ To get a hold on that real life, the wealthy had to “rest their hope, not on uncertain riches, but on God.”
[Box/Picture on page 30]Saved Through Childbearing: Paul was not discussing salvation to eternal life but a godly woman’s proper role when he wrote: “She will be kept safe through childbearing, provided they continue in faith and love and sanctification along with soundness of mind.” (1 Timothy 2:11-15) Through childbearing, caring for her children, and managing a household, a woman would be “kept safe” from becoming an unoccupied gossiper and meddler in other people’s affairs. (1 Timothy 5:11-15) Her domestic activities would complement her service to Jehovah. Of course, all Christians should guard their conduct and make wise use of their time.—Ephesians 5:15, 16.
*** w08 9/15 p. 30 - p. 31 Highlights From the Letters to the Thessalonians and to Timothy ***
“GUARD WHAT IS LAID UP IN TRUST WITH YOU”(1 Tim. 1:1–6:21)
Paul instructs Timothy to “go on waging the fine warfare; holding faith and a good conscience.” The apostle outlines qualifications for appointed men in the congregation. Paul also instructs Timothy to “turn down the false stories which violate what is holy.”—1 Tim. 1:18, 19; 3:1-10, 12, 13; 4:7.
“Do not severely criticize an older man,” Paul writes. He urges Timothy: “Guard what is laid up in trust with you, turning away from the empty speeches that violate what is holy and from the contradictions of the falsely called ‘knowledge.’”—1 Tim. 5:1; 6:20.
Scriptural Questions Answered:1:18; 4:14—What “predictions” were voiced concerning Timothy? They may have been certain prophecies concerning Timothy’s future role in the Christian congregation, uttered under inspiration when Paul visited Lystra during his second missionary journey. (Acts 16:1, 2) Based on these “predictions,” the older men of the congregation “laid their hands” upon young Timothy, setting him apart for a specific service.
2:15—How is a woman “kept safe through childbearing”? Childbearing, caring for her children, and managing a household can keep a woman “safe” from becoming an unoccupied ‘gossiper and meddler in other people’s affairs.’—1 Tim. 5:11-15.
3:16—What is the sacred secret of godly devotion? Whether perfect obedience to Jehovah’s sovereignty is possible for humans or not was a secret for ages. Jesus provided the answer by maintaining perfect integrity to God until his death.
6:15, 16—Do these words apply to Jehovah God or to Jesus Christ? These words apply to the one whose manifestation they describe, namely, Jesus Christ. (1 Tim. 6:14) In comparison with humans who rule as kings and as lords, Jesus is the “only Potentate,” and he alone has immortality. (Dan. 7:14; Rom. 6:9) Since his ascension to the invisible heavens, no man on earth “can see” him with literal eyes.
Lessons for Us:4:15. Regardless of whether we have embraced Christianity recently or long ago, we should strive to be progressive and continue to make spiritual advancement.
6:2. If we are employed by a fellow believer, rather than take advantage of him in any way, we should serve him even more readily than we would someone outside the congregation.
*** it-2 p. 1108 Timothy, Letters to ***
HIGHLIGHTS OF SECOND TIMOTHYEncouragement and counsel to help Timothy remain firm in the difficult times ahead
The last inspired letter written by Paul, during his second imprisonment in Rome
Encouragement for Timothy to keep making progress“Stir up like a fire the gift of God” that you received; do not be ashamed of the witness about Christ or of Paul as a prisoner; take your part in suffering for the good news (1:6-8)
Guard the pattern of healthful words (1:13, 14)
Like a soldier, be single-minded; like an athlete in the games, contend according to the rules; be like the hardworking farmer; endure faithfully (2:3-13)
Do your utmost to present yourself approved to God, handling the word of truth aright (2:15)
Flee from desires of youth, but pursue godly qualities in company with those who call on the Lord out of a clean heart (2:22)
Counsel to help Timothy stand firm against false teachersAvoid fights about words and talk that violates what is holy; with mildness, try to recover those ensnared by the Devil (2:16-26)
In the last days there will be critical times hard to deal with because of the wicked attitudes of people; they will be lovers of money and of pleasures rather than lovers of God; shun such people (3:1–7)
These corrupted men will go on resisting the truth; but stick to what you have accepted as true because you learned it from people you knew well and from the inspired Scriptures (3:8-17)
Persevere in preaching the word, evangelizing, fully accomplishing your ministry—even though times are coming when men will not want to listen to healthful doctrine but will prefer having their ears tickled by teachers of their own choosing (4:1-5)
Paul’s circumstances as a prisonerPaul was appointed an apostle of Jesus Christ; he is now suffering because of this but is not ashamed (1:11, 12)
As a prisoner in chains, he was virtually abandoned by all from the district of Asia, but Onesiphorus diligently searched for him and brought him refreshment (1:15-18)
Recognizing his death to be imminent, Paul confidently looks forward to the day when Jesus Christ will give the crown of righteousness to him as well as to all others who have loved his manifestation (4:6-8)
No one took his side in his first defense; nevertheless, Paul was strengthened by the Lord Jesus Christ; he is confident that the Lord will save him for His heavenly Kingdom (4:16-18)
*** si p. 238 Bible Book Number 55—2 Timothy ***
CONTENTS OF SECOND TIMOTHY5 “Holding the pattern of healthful words” (1:1–3:17). Paul tells Timothy that he never forgets him in his prayers and that he is longing to see him. He recollects ‘the faith without hypocrisy’ that is in Timothy and that dwelt first in his grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice. Timothy should stir up like a fire the gift within him, ‘for God gave not a spirit of cowardice, but that of power and of love and of soundness of mind.’ Let him therefore be unashamed in witnessing and suffering evil for the good news because God’s undeserved kindness has been made clearly evident through the manifestation of the Savior, Christ Jesus. Timothy should “keep holding the pattern of healthful words” that he heard from Paul, guarding it as a fine trust.—1:5, 7, 13.
6 Timothy is to commit the things he learned from Paul to “faithful men, who, in turn, will be adequately qualified to teach others.” Timothy should prove himself a fine soldier of Christ Jesus. A soldier shuns business entanglements. Moreover, the one crowned at the games contends according to the rules. In order to gain discernment, Timothy should give constant thought to Paul’s words. The important things to remember and to remind others of are that “Jesus Christ was raised up from the dead and was of David’s seed” and that salvation and everlasting glory in union with Christ, reigning as kings with him, are the rewards for the chosen ones who endure. Timothy is to do his utmost to present himself as an approved workman to God, shunning empty speeches that violate what is holy, which spread like gangrene. Just as in a large house an honorable vessel is kept separate from one lacking honor, so Paul admonishes Timothy to “flee from the desires incidental to youth, but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace, along with those who call upon the Lord out of a clean heart.” The slave of the Lord needs to be gentle toward all, qualified to teach, instructing with mildness.—2:2, 8, 22.
7 “In the last days,” there will be critical times hard to deal with and persons who prove false to their show of godly devotion, “always learning and yet never able to come to an accurate knowledge of truth.” But Timothy has closely followed Paul’s teaching, his course of life, and his persecutions, out of which the Lord delivered him. “In fact,” he adds, “all those desiring to live with godly devotion in association with Christ Jesus will also be persecuted.” Timothy, however, should continue in the things he learned from infancy, which are able to make him wise for salvation, for “all Scripture is inspired of God and beneficial.”—3:1, 7, 12, 16.
8 Fully accomplishing the ministry (4:1-22). Paul charges Timothy to “preach the word” with urgency. (4:2) The time will come when men will not put up with healthful teaching and will turn to false teachers, but let Timothy keep his senses, ‘do the work of an evangelizer, fully accomplish his ministry.’ Recognizing his death to be imminent, Paul exults that he has fought the fine fight, that he has run the course to the finish and observed the faith. Now he looks confidently forward to the reward, “the crown of righteousness.”—4:5, 8.
9 Paul urges Timothy to come to him quickly and gives instructions concerning the journey. When Paul made his first defense everyone forsook him, but the Lord infused power into him that the preaching might be fully accomplished among the nations. Yes, he is confident that the Lord will deliver him from every wicked work and save him for His heavenly Kingdom.
*** w91 1/15 p. 31 Rely on God-Given Strength ***
Rely on God-Given Strength
Highlights From Second TimothyJEHOVAH gives his servants power to endure trials and persecution. And how Timothy and other Christians needed God-given strength! A fire ravaged Rome in 64 C.E., and rumor had it that Emperor Nero was responsible. To protect himself, he blamed the Christians, and this apparently prompted a wave of persecution. Likely at that time (about 65 C.E.), the apostle Paul was again imprisoned in Rome. Though facing death, he then wrote his second letter to Timothy.
Paul’s letter prepared Timothy to resist apostates and stand firm in the face of persecution. It encouraged him to keep making spiritual progress and told about Paul’s circumstances in prison. The letter also helps readers to rely on God-given strength.
Suffer Evil and Teach With MildnessGod imparts strength for us to endure persecution as proclaimers of the good news. (1:1-18) Paul never forgot Timothy in his prayers, and he remembered his unhypocritical faith. God gave Timothy ‘not a spirit of cowardice, but that of power, love, and soundness of mind.’ So let him be unashamed in witnessing and suffering evil for the good news. He was also urged to “keep holding the pattern of healthful words” heard from Paul, even as we should adhere strictly to genuine Christian truth though others turn from it.
The things Paul taught were to be committed to faithful men who would teach others. (2:1-26) Timothy was urged to be a fine soldier of Christ, faithful when suffering evil. Paul himself suffered in prison bonds for preaching the good news. He encouraged Timothy to do his utmost to present himself an approved workman of God, shunning empty speeches that violate what is holy. And he was told that a slave of the Lord must instruct others with mildness.
Preach the Word!God-given strength would be needed to face the last days and uphold Scriptural truth. (3:1-17) From among the ungodly would arise men ‘always learning but never able to come to an accurate knowledge of truth.’ Such ‘wicked men and impostors would advance from bad to worse, misleading and being misled.’ However, Timothy was to ‘continue in the things he had learned.’ So should we, knowing that ‘all Scripture is inspired of God and beneficial for teaching, reproving, setting things straight, and disciplining in righteousness, that the man of God may be fully competent, completely equipped for every good work.’
Timothy was to resist apostates and accomplish his ministry. (4:1-22) He could do so by ‘preaching the word’ and staying with it. This was vital, since the congregation faced a “troublesome season” because some were teaching false doctrine. Jehovah’s Witnesses also adhere to God’s Word now, preaching it urgently in the congregation and to people outside, even in unfavorable situations. Paul “observed the faith,” though he was forsaken by some. But ‘the Lord infused power into him, that through him the preaching might be fully accomplished.’ May we too rely on God-given strength and keep preaching the good news.
[Box/Picture on page 31]A Fine Soldier: Paul urged Timothy: “As a fine soldier of Christ Jesus take your part in suffering evil. No man serving as a soldier involves himself in the commercial businesses of life, in order that he may gain the approval of the one who enrolled him as a soldier.” (2 Timothy 2:3, 4) A Roman foot soldier ‘suffered evil’ when carrying heavy weapons, an ax, a basket, rations for three days, and other items. (Josephus’ Wars of the Jews, Book 3, chapter 5) He did not pursue commercial interests, for that would not please his superior, and his expenses were covered. Similarly, a Christian suffers trials linked with being “a fine soldier of Christ.” Though he may work secularly to discharge Scriptural obligations, he must not let undue involvement with material things make him stop waging spiritual warfare. (1 Thessalonians 2:9) Witnessing from house to house, he wields “the sword of the spirit, that is, God’s word,” and helps to free people from religious error. (Ephesians 6:11-17; John 8:31, 32) Since life is at stake, let all Christian soldiers keep on pleasing Jesus Christ and Jehovah God in this way.
*** w08 9/15 p. 31 Highlights From the Letters to the Thessalonians and to Timothy ***
“PREACH THE WORD, BE AT IT URGENTLY”(2 Tim. 1:1–4:22)
To prepare Timothy for the difficult times ahead, Paul writes: “God gave us not a spirit of cowardice, but that of power and of love and of soundness of mind.” Timothy is advised: “A slave of the Lord does not need to fight, but needs to be gentle toward all, qualified to teach.”—2 Tim. 1:7; 2:24.
“Continue in the things that you learned and were persuaded to believe,” Paul exhorts Timothy. Apostate teachings were spreading, so the apostle counsels the younger overseer: “Preach the word, be at it urgently . . . , reprove, reprimand, exhort.”—2 Tim. 3:14; 4:2.
Scriptural Questions Answered:1:13—What is “the pattern of healthful words”? The “healthful words” are “those of our Lord Jesus Christ”—true Christian teachings. (1 Tim. 6:3) What Jesus taught and did was in harmony with God’s Word, thus the expression “healthful words” can also by extension refer to all Bible teachings. These teachings can help us to see what Jehovah requires of us. We keep holding to this pattern by practicing what we have learned from the Bible.
4:13—What were “the parchments”? The designation “parchments” refers to a writing material of prepared leather. It is possible that Paul was asking for portions of the Hebrew Scriptures so that he could study them during his imprisonment in Rome. Some of the scrolls could have been of papyrus but others of parchment.
Lessons for Us:1:5; 3:15. The fundamental reason why Timothy had faith in Christ Jesus, that is, faith that influenced everything Timothy did, was the early Scriptural education he received at home. How vital it is that family members think seriously about how they are fulfilling this responsibility toward God and their children!
1:16-18. When our fellow believers undergo trials, face persecution, or are imprisoned, let us pray for them and do all we can to help them.—Prov. 3:27; 1 Thess. 5:25.
2:22. Christians, especially youths, should not be so preoccupied with bodybuilding, sports, music, entertainment, hobbies, travel, aimless conversations, and the like, that they have little time for spiritual pursuits.