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The Family of God

When my young children have a dispute, inevitably one of them will come and ask me to resolve it. While I realize that being a good parent sometimes means letting them negotiate the conflict on their own, there are certain situations when I need to exert my parental authority in order to restore peace.

The apostle Paul cared deeply for the church in Ephesus. The city was an urban hub with a population of around 500,000, a crossroads for trade over land and sea. Paul and Timothy had planted the church and invested more than two years grounding the Ephesian believers in the Christian faith (Acts 19:9–10). Later in Paul’s ministry, he heard disturbing reports of false teaching and dissension within this church. He sent Timothy as his representative to address these problems.

This is the first of two letters Paul wrote to Timothy after sending him to Ephesus. Though the letter was addressed to Timothy, Paul intended it to be read to the entire church. This is evident from the way he ends the letter (1 Tim. 6:21). Paul begins by reminding the church that he is an “apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God” (v. 1). He points to God’s calling on his life given during his Damascus Road experience (Acts 9:1–5).

Paul affirms that Timothy is “my true son in the faith” (v. 2). While Paul was not Timothy’s biological father, it is likely that he had a hand in Timothy’s conversion. How encouraging it would be for Timothy to hear Paul greet him this way! It would also proclaim to the church in Ephesus that Timothy was a faithful representative of the gospel preached by Paul.

>> Early Christians were known for referring to one another in familial terms as brother and sister, father and son. When we come to faith in Christ, we enter a new family under the headship of the Lord Jesus. Who are the people God has used in your life as your spiritual family?

BY Ryan Cook

Dr. Ryan Cook has taught at Moody Bible Institute since 2012. He earned his bachelor of arts in Bible and Theology from Moody and his master of arts in Old Testament from Grand Rapids Theological Seminary. He has worked in Christian education and served as a pastor in Michigan for seven years. During his time as a professor at Moody, he earned his doctorate from Asbury Theological Seminary. He now lives with his wife, Ashley, and their three children in the Chicagoland area.

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