Monday, July 14, 2008

1 Timothy and How to Study Greek

While I was at a camp last week, I decided I would study 1 Timothy 4:1-5 with nothing but a Greek NT (with a little vocabulary help).  Day one I translated.  Day two I outlined (sort of diagramed).  Day three I listed multiple applications for my life.  Having just three days, 45 minutes or less per day (camp is busy), and a wife who was willing to listen proved to be very profitable.  So here are a few insights I gained from my study followed by a brief reflection on how to study Greek.

Paul speaks in very strong terms (v1).  He charges Timothy under solemn oath, before God, Christ Jesus, His appearing, and His kingdom!  Paul means business.  Apparently, Timothy needed strong encouragement (and exhortation).  Verses 2 and 5 contain 9 imperative commands (in Greek) that all have to do with Timothy's ministry.  More specifically, the imperatives emphasize the significance of biblical teaching (and rebuking).  The cause for such a charge packed full of imperatives is the fact that "a time will come" when people will turn away from truth and only listen to the teaching that they want to hear (v3-4).

What is the antidote in such times?  Men who who will stand up and preach the Word, be ready whether or not it is popular, convince, rebuke, and exhort with all patience and instruction.  Further, these men must remain calm in such times, endure suffering that comes with faithful service, and do the work of an evangelist.  By heeding these commands, a man will carry out fully the ministry given to him.

Men who will heed these commands are the kind of pastors we need.  The time has come: sound teaching is not enduring.  Americans are being offered teaching 'made to order' in their churches!  I'm afraid many pastors are pursuing easy money, easy ministry, and perhaps fame, but rarely do pastors seem willing to endure suffering for the sake of faithfulness.  Yuck.  It is my opinion that what we need in our churches most is the great implication of this passage: Pastors who are given to the study of the Word and its clear teaching and application, no matter the cost.  The word of God constrains us to learn it well and teach its truths.  One cannot heed the commands of 1 Tim 4:1-5 without a growing knowledge of the Word of God.  

More to say, but it must wait ......................................

So, about studying Greek:  It was refreshing to only have a Greek NT for study.  It forces me to wrestle with the parsing, the grammar, the syntax.  One of the best Greek students I have known was a female who did not have access to any computer program to help her with her Greek.  She spent long hours studying the language with a true desire to know God's Word.  Her labors have produced much fruit.  Perhaps I should make more time for this simple (yet difficult) kind of study.

UPDATE:  It was not 10 minutes after finishing this post when I wandered over to Dr. Rodney Decker's Blog to find a better post on the same subject.  I passionately agreed with virtually every word of his post.  If you have the time, take a look.

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