Bible Studies for Life Sunday School Lesson for July 9

Bible Studies for Life Sunday School Lesson for July 9

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By Roy Ciampa, Ph.D. 
Armstrong Chair of Religion, Samford University

Paul and Timothy 

Acts 16:1–5; 2 Timothy 2:1–2, 3:10–12

Personal mentoring is important because there are things we can learn from personal experience with others that we cannot learn simply from reading books. Paul modeled the life-on-life nature of discipleship in his relationship with his spiritual son Timothy.

Mentoring occurs best when a person walks alongside us and sees our example. (Acts 16:1–5)

Paul met Timothy during Paul’s second missionary journey. It seems TImothy and his Jewish mother were some of the spiritual fruit from Paul’s earlier ministry in Lystra and Derbe during his first missionary journey (Acts 14:6–21). Timothy had gained an excellent reputation in his hometown and in nearby Iconium, and Paul saw in him the qualities of a ministry leader. 

From the start, Timothy observed how Paul navigated very challenging ministry situations with great spiritual wisdom. Timothy was the son of a Jewish woman (and Christian believer) and of a Greek father. Since the gospel did not require Gentiles to be circumcised, Timothy could have embraced a Gentile identity and remained uncircumcised. But many of the Gentiles they would reach would already be in the orbit of the Jewish synagogue and respect Jewish traditions. It was not in the interest of the gospel to raise unnecessary suspicions among Jewish friends. Honoring the faith and Jewish heritage of his mother would open more doors to gospel conversations, so Timothy became circumcised and continued to learn from Paul as they ministered side by side. He got to see how Paul acted when he was tired, disappointed, frustrated or insulted, as well as how he acted when he was rested, encouraged, elated or praised, and together they traveled and shared news from the Jerusalem council and helped those churches grow in faith and numbers.

Encourage those you disciple to also disciple others. (2 Tim. 2:1–2)

Paul exhorted Timothy to be strong in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, meaning to lean into the strength that comes from our reliance on Christ and the gift of His presence and strength. A particular way Timothy was to rely on Christ’s grace — and that we are also — was to mentor others just as he had been mentored by Paul. Disciples should understand that time invested in their lives and ministries should earn dividends not only in their lives, but also in the lives of those whose faith would be shaped by them and the time they spend demonstrating how to live as a disciple of Christ.

We often need to be reminded to continue in our walk and growth in Christ. (3:10–12)

Timothy had been a faithful follower of Christ for years when Paul wrote this letter. But Timothy was facing serious challenges in his role as a significant Christian leader just as Paul himself was preparing to be martyred. Timothy still needed encouragement to persevere and continue growing through hard times. Paul reminded him that he himself had faced constant persecutions and sufferings (see 2 Cor. 11:23–29) and that Timothy knew Paul’s “teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love and endurance, along with the persecutions and sufferings” that he had experienced, and Timothy knew that the Lord had rescued Paul time and again. All godly leaders need to be prepared to endure persecution, as Timothy needed to be reminded, and we and our disciples do as well.