A Bible Study

I. Introduction

II. Laying the Foundation

III. Biblical Images Of The Church

IV. How The Churches Get Started

V. What About Church Structure?

VI. What About The Pastoral Office?

VII. The Qualities Of Leadership

VIII. It Won't Be Easy

IX. Preserving The True Faith

X. The Great Pearl Of The Faith

XI. What About Works?

XII. Faith Alive

XIII. A Word For Everyone



The letters of Paul to Timothy and probably Titus were written from Macedonia between the years 61-65 AD. In recent years it has been a common belief that Second Timothy was written by Paul from Rome possibly as late as the year 67-shortly before Paul's death.

In these letters, Paul reminds Timothy that he must do battle with a form of "Gnosticism," and early stage of the heresy which was to become in its fully developed form the most serious threat to the church in succeeding generations.

Basic to all forms of Gnosticism is a dualistic conception of reality, that is, the view that what is spiritual, nonmaterial, is of itself good and what is material or physical is of itself bad. This view affects man's whole attitude toward the world of created things. It may suffice to note:

A. That the world is no longer viewed as God's good creation, as the Scriptures view it (that is, a world which God created, fallen with fallen man but redeemed with man and destined to be transfigured with him, Romans 8:19-22); rather, the created world is viewed as in itself alien and hostile to God because it is matter and not spirit.

B. That man's desperate predicament, his alienation from God is no longer seen as being due to his sinful rebellion against God, but to the fact that he is entangled in the world of matter;

C. That redemption consists in being freed from the material world in which man dwells and is entangled. This liberation can come about only by knowledge (Greek, gnosis, hence the name of the heresy); that knowledge must be imparted to man by revelation from a higher world;

D. The mission of the Savior-God is to impart this knowledge, not to all men but to a select few who will pass it on to those who are "worthy";

E. That those who have knowledge, the "gnostics" must free themselves from the influence of matter by abstaining from certain foods and from marriage.

Such a trend of thought would lead inevitably to an utter distortion of all that "the glorious Gospel of the blessed God" (1 Timothy 1:11) proclaimed...The law becomes the arena of speculation and vain discussions, not the voice of God which calls the sinner to account and condemns him. In terms of this kind of thought, there can be no real incarnation of the Son of God; for how can the divine, which is spiritual, enter into union with matter, which is of itself evil? And when sin is not recognized as man's guilt, there can be no real redemption either.



A. What We Want To Accomplish Today

One of the largest churches in the U.S. is the famous Riverside Church in New York City. In addition to having the biggest carillons in the world and a seating capacity of more than 2,000, it has 14 kitchens, 8 chapels, a bowling alley, a theater, a radio station, and a gymnasium. And this giant church is no plain edifice; it is filled with priceless sculptures and many works of art. The former preacher at Riverside Church, Harry Emerson Fosdick, started his first sermon with these words: ''It is strange to remember that all this is built to the honor of a Galilean carpenter who had no place to lay his head."

His words point out a paradox about which people often wonder. What do huge buildings, complicated church governments, church constitutions, and the countless activities that go on in churches throughout the world have to do with Jesus?

You can't talk about Church without talking about Jesus. The two are or should be inseparable. The Church is the presence of Jesus Christ in the world. In our study we seek to root our study of the Church in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ.

B. Taking A Look At Jesus' Purpose

1. Turn to the famous ''Gospel in a Nutshell," John 3:16-17. What is John saying about Jesus' purpose and mission? What is the role of eternal life in this life--or is it meaningful only for the future? What does it mean that we are "saved?" What does this passage say, then, about the Church's mission?

2. Now turn to John 4:31-38. How does Jesus define His purpose? How will His purpose affect the lives of His disciples?

3. According to 1 Timothy 2:3-6 what is God's will for all people? How is that will accomplished?

4. In Matthew 26:36-44 we see how Jesus completed God's will. What do you think Jesus meant by the words, "Let this cup pass from Me''?

5. In Matthew 16:24-25, what does Jesus say about those who call themselves His disciples? Define the following phrases and apply them to your life and the life of the Church: deny himself take up his cross; follow Me. What is the meaning of verse 25? What does this say about the life-style of those who call themselves disciples today? What, if anything, might apply to the mission of the Church?

C. A Closer Look At The Ministry Of Jesus

1. Read Luke 4:16-19. What was Jesus saying about Himself by quoting from the book of Isaiah? What was the mission Jesus claims as His own?

2. Turn to Matthew 11;2-6. Why do you suppose John wondered about the identity of Jesus? How did Jesus reply to his concern? How do you interpret Jesus' words in verse 6? How can offense happen when the Church of today goes about doing what Jesus did? What should our reaction be to all this?

3. See Matthew 10:5-16.

a. What does Jesus commission His disciples to do? How is what they are to do similar to our different from what Jesus did? How does Jesus' "sending" apply to Jesus' disciples today?
b. Discuss the statement: "In every age the disciples of Jesus are an extension of His presence in the world'' Why do you agree or disagree with this statement? What does the statement have to do with the mission of the Church?

D. The Disciples' Commission From Jesus

1. Read Matthew 28:16-20. Look at the context. When did Jesus speak these words? What does it mean to you to ''Make disciples?" How does your congregation carry out this commission?

2. John 20:19-23. Check the context. When did Jesus speak these words? What power did He give to the disciples? How is that power present for today's disciples? How does it function?

E. Tying Everything Together

We begin our study by reaching a definition of the Church's mission and listing the specific activities on which members of our congregation spend time. Then we took a look at the purpose of Jesus at His ministry, and at the commission to His disciples.

Think of the activities which go on in our parish to the ministry of Jesus. What is the relationship to the two? What activities most closely resemble His life and work? Which seem to have little to do with His mission? What are some things the congregation should be doing? How can we do them?

F. Homework!

Read 1 Timothy & 2 Timothy. Mark your Bibles. Note questions, helpful verses, commands, things difficult to understand. Continue to mark as you study.


A. What We Want To Accomplish Today

You can't talk about the Church without talking about Jesus Christ. Previously, we laid the foundation of our study of the Church in the light of the mission and ministry of Jesus. We now want to examine a few Biblical "Images" of the Church to deepen our understanding of what we mean when we say: "The Church is the presence of Christ in the world."

B. One of Jesus' Images

Read John 15:1-11 and describe the image Jesus is using in these verses.

1. How does this image apply to the Church as well as to individuals?

2. According to these verses, what is the key to a vibrant Christian life and a vibrant congregational ministry?

3. Why can't people accomplish the goal of "fruit bearing" on their own?

4. What are the means through which Jesus, the Vine, comes into the life of His disciples, the branches?

5. What verses point us to the "means of grace" (Word and sacrament)?

6. As this image is applied to the Church, how does it inform our contention that the Church is the presence of Christ in the world? Support your answer with specific verses. Think of how this applies to our congregation.

7. How does our congregation live out these words of Jesus?

8. Think of ways in which these words of Jesus might have a greater impact on our parish life.

9. What is the relationship between "doing" (bearing fruit) and "being (branches of the Vine)? What in your opinion is more important "doing'' or ''being." Why?

C. Paul's Images

1. Read Romans 12:3-13. In verse 3 Paul confronts pride in the church.

a. What words does he use to describe the problem? In the light of some of the criticism of the church, why is it important to deal with this problem?
b. Describe Paul's image.
c. In the last lesson we looked at Jesus' ministry. From Paul's image, how is the Church the presence of Christ in the world?
d. According to verses 9-13, what are some of the functions the Church lives out in the world? how are these activities related to Jesus?

2. Now read Ephesians 4:3-6. According to these words, what provides the foundation for the Church's life? What does Baptism have to do with that foundation?

D. One Last Image

Read 1 Peter 2:9-10. List some of the images Peter uses to describe the Church.

1. Discuss what you think the apostle means by "a chosen race." Chosen of what?

2. What do you think he means by "a royal priesthood''? Do these words refer to the clergy or to all Christians? Explain your answer.

3. What about the phrase "a holy nation?" How did the people of God in the Old Testament fail to fulfill the purpose to which they had been called? Give examples. What can we learn about failure of mission from God's Old Testament people?

4. What are some specific ways in which the Church "declares the wonderful deeds of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light?"

5. What does all this have to do with the Church as the presence of Christ in the world? ,

6. See if you agree with this statement as it speaks to the relationship between pastor and people. "You were ordained to serve Grandmother Buuck. Grandmother was baptized not to serve you."

E. Tying It All Together

We have examined several images of the Church from God's word. What are the differences between them? What are the similarities? How do the Biblical images apply to our parish? How do these images apply to the Church at large.

F. Homework!

As you read through 1 and 2 Timothy imagine that you are a missionary called to start a church in a specific place. What guidance can you find in these letters? How does that guidance apply to your life in your congregation here?


A. What We Want To Accomplish

Apart from the Gospels, only two historians from His time record anything about Jesus. Together they devote only a few lines to Him in their writings. Obviously, they did not think this Rabbi's life had much meaning for the world. And yet, the influence that Jesus has had and continues to have on the world is beyond calculation. This session we want to look how Christ's Church got started, what keeps it going, and why it (Christ through it) exerts such a powerful influence on the world.

B. How it all got started.

1. Let's begin at the very beginning with the words of Jesus. Read Matthew 16:18. What do you think Jesus meant when He said: "On this rock I will build My Church?"

2. Now read Acts 2:1-13.

a. To whom do the words, "They were all together in on place" refer? Review some of the events that had preceded this gathering.
b. What, in your opinion, is the significance of the sound from heaven and the "tongues as of fire?" Read Matthew 3:11 as you discuss.
c. What did the fact that the disciples spoke in other languages mean about their message?

3. Now read Acts 2:22-24. What was the core of Peter's message? How does this message help us to understand Matt.16:18?

4. A message without a response is useless. Look at Acts 2:32 and following.

a. What was the response of the people?
b. Why did they respond so?
c. What did Peter suggest that they do?

5. According to the Pentecost event, what might we understand to be the central activity in the life of the Church? In your life? Why?

C. What Keeps The Church Going?

1. According to Article VII of the Augsburg Confession "The church is the assembly of saints in which the Gospel is taught purely and the sacraments are administered rightly."

a. In your opinion, what is meant by the term ''Gospel''? What is meant by the expression, "the sacraments are administered rightly?"
b. How does this understanding of the Church compare to its beginnings as we studied them in Acts.

2. Let's look at a few passages and try to discover the importance of Word and sacraments.

a. Read John 17:20-23. These words are part of Jesus' High Priestly prayer--His prayer for his followers. Where do you see yourself in Jesus' words? Through whose Word do people come to faith? What part does the unity of believers in faith play in the Church's proclamation.
b. Now turn to Romans 10:4-17. How does belief (faith) come to people? What is the source and core of the message? How does this instruction compare with Peter's sermon in Acts 2?
c. Read 1 Thessalonians 2:13, 1 Peter 1:23, and 1 Corinthians 4:15. Summarize the common theme that runs through these three verses. Do people "make a decision to believe" or does faith come another way? How does it come?
d. Now read John 3:5-6, 1 Peter 3:21, and Mark 16:16. What do these passages have in common? Summarize what they say about Baptism.
e. Finally, let's examine John 6:52-58. What is Jesus referring to in these passages? What importance does Jesus attach to "eating His flesh and drinking His blood?"

3. Review and summarize: What brought the Church into being? What keeps the Church alive? What is the role of the Holy Spirit, the people, the Word and sacraments in the Church?

D. Tying It All Together

We have discovered that the Church was brought into being by the power of the Spirit through the spoken Word and the sacraments. In the light of this discovery, what must be central in the Church's life? How does this affect the mission of the Church? In what sense should all the activities of the Church have Word and sacrament as their center? What new actions and activities could you design that would enhance the place of Word and sacrament in the life of our congregation?

E. Homework!

Keep track of those times this week when you are aware of the Holy Spirit at work in and through you. In what sense were you once of those bringing the Good News? Share your discoveries with someone this week!


A. What We Hope To Accomplish This Week

"Why does everything have to be so complicated!?" we might ask as we look at a congregational or denominational constitution. We quickly discover that the church on every level is highly structured. Like almost everything in life, structure can be a curse or it can be a blessing. If the structure serves the organization--helps it work better--it can be a blessing. But if the structure starts to interfere, complicate, and confuse, it can be worse than no structure at all.

As we begin our actual study of 1 and 2 Timothy you may want to refer back to the first page again.

Although Paul addressed Timothy as an individual the letters have significance to all Christians. In 1 Timothy 3:15 Paul gives as one purpose of his letter, ''that you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God." These letters talk about the care and organization of God's flock; they inform us as to what kind of people the leaders should be; they give instructions on how God's house should be administered. In this lesson we want to think about the relationship of organizational structure to the mission of the Church.

B. Structure in the Old and New Testament

1. Formal structure is as old as the ancient people of God. Read Numbers 11:16-17.

a. Why do you suppose the Lord commanded Moses to "gather for Me seventy men?" What qualifications did these seventy have?
b. Review the call of Moses (Exodus 3) What similarities and differences do you see between the way Moses was called and the way the seventy were chosen? What might be the implications of the differences?

2. Now turn to Acts 6:1-6. List three reasons from the verses why a greater organization was necessary.

a. How would-the duties of the newly appointed differ from what the Twelve were doing? Describe their responsibility.
b. What qualifications were required in those appointed? How would everybody know that they had been given authority to carry out their tasks?
c. Relate these verses to your congregation. How was the organization of the early church similar to yours? How was it different?

C. An Image Of The Church Revisited

Let's take another look at one of Paul's images of the Church. Read Ephesians 4:1-16.

1. According to verses 1-4, to what have we been called? What are some of the characteristics of those who have been called? How is "the call" evident in your life? In the life of the congregation?

2. Now look at verses 11-16. How do these words speak about church structure? Is the principle in the church's organized structure that of people with power over others or some other principle? Explain your answer?

3. According to verses 12 and 13, what is the value of the structure? What is it according to verse 14?

4. Why and how, according to Paul, do people get involved in the function and structure of the church?

D. Structure In Timothy

1. Read 1 Timothy 1:18; 2 Timothy 2:1-2.

a. Where does Timothy get the authority to do what he is called to do?
b. How is Timothy supposed to share his responsibility?
c. How do these verses demonstrate that the church in Paul's day was organized and had a structure?

2. How read 1 Timothy 3:1-7, 3:8-13; 5:9.

a. How do these verses show a church that was highly organized?
b. From the text, what similarities and differences between bishops (elders) and deacons do you see?
c. How might an organizational chart of Pastor Timothy's congregation have looked? What information about structure is still lacking?

E. Tying It All Together

1. From what we have learned in this lesson, does structure seem to be a necessity for the church? Why or why not?

2. What would be the result if the church was not organized? When does organization get in the way of the church?

3. Think about the congregation's structure. How does it compare to the structure of the early church? What similarities and differences do you see?

4. How does the congregation's structure support the mission? To what extent is it interfere? How might the structure be changed so that the Good News might be proclaimed more effectively?

F. Homework!

As you read through 1 and 2 Timothy complete these two sentences: ''An effective pastor is..." "An effective pastor does,,,"


A. What We Hope To Accomplish

Last time we discovered the importance of structure and organization in the church. A key figure in any congregation and structure is undoubtedly the pastor. For that reason pastors are ordinarily carefully trained and commissioned so that they can fulfill their important function in the church. In this lesson we want to examine some earlier "pastors." We want to look at their credentials for their task and what was expected of them. Timothy a younger pastor, was trained by Pr. Paul and sent by God to minister to His people. As we look at these men, we hope to gain a better understanding of the pastoral office.

B. Let's Get Started!

1. Share what you noted during the week as you finished the sentences: "A pastor is" "A pastor does" What lies behind the agreement or disagreement in your responses?

2. What amount of training is required before one can become a pastor in the Lutheran Church? Is it enough? Why or why not?

3. In your opinion, what is the most important ingredient in the training of a pastor and why?

4. Where does a pastor get his authority? What kind of authority is it?

5. How do you suppose a person knows that he is called to become a pastor?

C. Let's Begin With Paul

1. Read Acts 9:1-19. Describe Paul before his conversion and the event that brought about the drastic change in his life.

2. The Holy Spirit entered his life dramatically. How does his experience compare with that of the other disciples at Pentecost? (Acts 2) What do these "callings" tell us about the way God chooses people to do specific tasks in His kingdom?

3. How were other Christians involved in Paul's call?

4. According to verse 15 what was the task for which Paul was chosen.

5. In your opinion, what do we mean when we say a pastor or teacher is "called?" How might others be involved in a pastor's call to the office of the ministry? Be as specific as you can in your answers.

D. Paul's Seminary Training

1. Read 1 Timothy 3:1-6. In verse 6, what does Paul say about recent converts and their role in the church?- In your opinion, was this advice from Paul true to his own experience? Let's pursue it further...

2. Read Galatians 1:11-24.

a. According to these words of Paul, from whom did he receive the Gospel? Who taught Paul the truths of the faith?
b. What, if anything, does Paul's life tell us about the call and the training of pastors today? Does God ever work in the life of people today the way He worked in the life of Paul? Why or why not?

E. What About Timothy?

1. Read 2 Timothy 3:14-17. According to these verses, where did Timothy receive his first schooling? (see also 1:5)

2. Read Acts 16:1-3--Paul's first meeting, with Timothy. What was Timothy's family background? Who "spoke well" of him? Why did Paul circumcise Timothy?

3. According to 1 Timothy 1:3, under what circumstances did Timothy receive the charge to minister in Ephesus? How is that different from the way we do things today?

4. How does what we have learned about the call of Timothy relate to the way we "call'' a pastor or teacher today? How would the placing of pastors be better or worse if it were done by a "bishop?"

5. For more reading on this subject read from Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope, 67-72.

F. The Tasks Of A Pastor

1. Read 1 Timothy 1:3; and 1 Timothy 4:6.

a. The common task assigned to both is preaching/teaching. What is the most important content of their teaching?
b. Read the verses in context. What tools should the young pastors use to keep them prepared for this ministry?

2. Now read 1 Timothy 1:18. What image does Paul use to describe the Christian life to Timothy? How might this image have affected the way Timothy went about his task?

3. In order to get a better understanding of Paul's idea of the Christian life as a battle, turn to Ephesians 6:10-20.

a. From these verses identify the enemy by explaining as vividly as you can the following phrases: "the wiles of the devil'; "the principalities, the powers, the world rulers of this present darkness"; "the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places."
b. Next, describe the armor to be worn by the Christian. Discuss the meaning of each piece and its importance in the battle.

4. Read 1 Timothy 4:11-16 and 2 Timothy 4:1-2.

a. List the tasks committed to Timothy in these verses. What will back up Timothy's effectiveness as he carries out these functions?
b. What indicates a sense of urgency?

5. How do the tasks described in this section relate to the pastor's tasks today?

G. Paul's Relationship To Timothy

In some parts of these letters, Paul's attitude toward Timothy seems rather "bossy." Let's examine the relationship between them in order to understand how Paul could be so direct and believe that this young pastor would heed his advice.

1. From l Timothy 1:2,18 how does Paul vies his relationship with Timothy?

2. Now turn to 2 Timothy 1:3-7. What do these verses tell us about Paul's relationship to Timothy?

3. What words or words would most closely describe Paul's relationship to Timothy: father, teacher, leader, helper, ''boss?" Why?

H. Tying It All Together

1. As we look at the "call" of Paul and Timothy what might we conclude about the way pastors are called into the ministry today?

2. List all the tasks that Paul assigned to Timothy. Then list the various tasks that you know the pastor is assigned in the congregation. Compare the lists. What are the reasons for any differences in the lists? How are the pastor's tasks related to the mission of the congregation and his role in it?

3. How would the relationship of a pastor to a parishioner be similar to or different from Paul's relationship to Timothy?

4. Discuss this statement: "In addition to preaching, teaching, carrying out church discipline, the pastor's primary task is to equip the members of his parish to carry out the ministry of Christ in the world--the spreading of the Gospel''. If you agree with the statement, how is that goal reached in the congregation today? How can that objective be met more effectively?

I. Homework!

As you read the Epistles again, pray for your pastor (and others such as teachers, elected board and committee members) that they might be able to accomplish their important task. Think of at least one idea for helping the pastor and others in their ministry.


A. What We Want To Accomplish

When you apply for a job, the application usually asks for character references. Companies want to know about the character of the people they hire, because an employee's behavior reflects on the employer.

A church leader is not only a representative of Christ but also a representative of the people he or she serves. The early church realized that its leaders were watched and judged by the world. We also know that the private lives of leaders come under greater scrutiny by the public than do those of people who-are not well known.

This lesson is one which is timely. In the last two years I have known of tens of pastors who have left the ministry or at least their congregations because of this one issue, when the pastor's character or behavior is called into question. In this lesson we want to take a look at the kind of character that should be visible in the life of a leader of the church.

B. To Get Us Started

1. Do you expect more from people in public office than you do of yourself? Why or why not?

2. Do you think that people judge the behavior of a pastor more harshly than that of a layman? Why or why not?

3. Do you expect your pastor to be a better example of Christian living than you are? Why or why not?

4. Sometimes an outsider will say, "I don't want to belong to a church because it is full of hypocrites." What truth is in that statement? What does the statement say about our witness?

5. In what sense are all Christians leaders? Whom do we lead? To what goal do we lead?

C. The Character of A Bishop

Although they are not identical, it seems that the office described in Timothy as-"bishop" is comparable to the office of the pastor today.

1. According to 1 Timothy 3:1-7, list the qualities or qualifications of such a person and discuss each in relation to the mission of the Church.

a. Which of these requirements is directly related to the work of a pastor and why?
b. If a pastor's child goes astray or if his wife leaves him, should he, in every case, be forced to leave the ministry? Why or why not?
c. In verse 7, why is what outsiders think important?

2. Read the qualifications in Titus 1:7-9. What is added to or left out of the list in Timothy? What might be the significance of the difference? What does Paul give as the purpose of these qualities?

D. Qualifications Of A Deacon

We do not know exactly what a deacon was in the early church. In secular writing the word means a servant or a messenger. The word is used in Acts 6 in connection with caring for widows and older people. The office was apparently open to both men and women (see Romans 16:1). In any case, the deacons and deaconesses were certainly leaders in the church.

1. Compare the qualifications of a deacon in 1 Timothy 3:8-13 to those of a bishop (3:1-7)

a. What applies to a deacon that is not mentioned of a bishop?
b. What do you think is the meaning of verse 10? How might this verse apply to elected officers in the congregation?
c. Examine the way leaders are chosen in the congregation. Does the process we use make sure that our leaders have the qualities which Paul lists? Why or why not?

2. Read 1 Timothy 5:3-16. Widows were cared for by the church, and some apparently were "enrolled" and performed certain services in the church.

a. What are the qualifications set down for enrollment?
b. How are these qualifications different from those for bishop and deacon?
c. In the light of this section discuss the role of women in the church today. How is the role of women in today's church similar to or different from what was in Paul's day. (For a more detailed discussion on this topic we will address this issue in section 11 "Faith Alive")
d. As with men, how does a woman's dress and behavior affect her witness to Christ? How can the congregation use the talents and gifts of women more effectively?

E. The Response To Leadership

1. Read 1 Timothy-5:17-20. How are the people to respond to their leaders? What is their responsibility? Do you think that pastors and other church professionals are held in the same respect today as they were in the past? Why or why not?

2. Why do you think Paul tells us that elders should be held in "double honor?"

3. What does verse 19 say about handling "charges'' against church leaders? How does this protect both the congregation and the pastor or elder?

F. Selecting Leaders

1. Read 1 Timothy 5:21-22. Why is it important that the selection of leaders be done impartially? How can we make the selection of leaders in the congregation more impartial?

2. What caution to those who select leaders do you find in verse 22? How does this relate to the way we select leaders in the church today?

G. Tying It All Together

1. Discuss the way the congregation fills its various offices, including the pastoral office. How do Paul's words of advice relate to the way our congregation's leaders are chosen?

2. How does our congregation-select and prepare the laity to serve the church? How might that process be improved?

3. How do the truths we have studied about the quality and qualifications of leaders relate to the mission of the Church? How do its leaders affect the image of the Church as the presence of Christ in the world?

4. Why do we, both professional and lay leaders, need to continually come to Christ in repentance for forgiveness and renewal? How can we facilitate both the repentance and the sharing of forgiveness in Christ?

H. Homework!

In your meditation this week list the qualities and talents you have that could be used to serve Christ and the church. Come up with a plan to use your gifts more effectively. Share your plan with a friend over coffee or tea this week if you wish!


A. What We Hope To Accomplish

Disappointment comes quickly when things don't turn out the way we expect. Many converts to Christianity are disappointed when they continue to encounter difficulty and suffering; they seem to expect a trouble-free life in exchange for following Jesus.

Similarly, many young pastors get very discouraged because the response to their preaching and teaching is not a dramatic transformation in their hearers. Lay leaders often feel like "throwing in the towel'' because the response to their efforts is apathy on the part of those they seek to involve in the life of the church. Ministry for both lay people and pastors is not easy! We were never promised a "bed of roses" as we attempt to be about the Lord's work. In this session we want to recognize that personal suffering may be very much a part of doing ministry for both pastor and laity, and to seek the strength to bear such hardship in Jesus Christ.

B. To Get Started

1. Back to the roots of ministry, we look at Jesus' life and work. Was Jesus ever popular? What evidence do you have for your answer? On what was His popularity or lack of it based? Why did Jesus become so unpopular? Why did the world crucify Jesus?

2. Why is it hard or easy to be a Christian today? List some of the struggles that contemporary Christians face?

3. In what ways do Christians in other countries have to suffer that differs from the situation of the American Christian?

4. What, in your opinion, is the greatest challenge facing the church in the American society today? In the year 2000 where will we be and what will the world look like? What suffering do the challenges you listed bring into the life of Christians?

C. What Jesus Said About His Followers

1. Turn to John 15:18-21.

a. What does Jesus say about the world's attitude toward Him? Toward those who believe in Him? What lies behind that attitude?
b. What can a follower of Jesus expect? How do those expectations apply to American Christians?

2. Look at Matthew 10:24-28.

a. What does Jesus mean by the words, "A disciple is not above his teacher?" How were these words true for His first disciples? How are they true for us?
b. What do you think was the reason for Jesus' words in verse 28? How do these words apply to us?

3. In these passages Jesus was saying that being a Christian will not be easy. What comfort does Jesus offer to His people who suffer?

D. A Hostile World

The church was and is planted in a hostile world. Read 2 Timothy 3:1-9 and discuss the following questions.

1. Do you think we are living in the last days? Explain your answer.

2. Why would a "lover of self" be an enemy of the Christian faith? How are all the listed characteristics related to being a lover of self?

3. In verse 5, what does Paul mean by those who ''hold the form of religion but deny the power of it?" How does the presence of such people: affect the church today?

4. How does verse 5 apply to Christians in communist nations? (We are here saying that some forms of communism still exist although there has be much change in many "communist" nations) How does living under a government which is openly hostile to the Gospel bring about more personal suffering? How might that situation reduce the number of Christians who just go through the motions?

5. According to verse 8 and 9, how is the false Christian finally exposed?

6. In this text Paul is describing the hypocritical, self-serving "Christian." How are such people in evidence today? How do they make the world more hostile toward Christians? How do they interfere with the mission of the Church?

E. Expect Suffering

Jesus told His disciples to expect suffering as a consequence of being His witnesses in the world.

1. Read 2 Timothy 2:1-13.

a. What is Paul telling Timothy to expect? What should he have as his source of strength?
b. Explain the examples Paul uses in verses 4 and 5. What do they have to do with suffering? What is Timothy to remember as he suffers like a good soldier of Christ?
c. What is the purpose of suffering? How does it help us endure if we know its purpose?
d. On what foundation does Paul build his case for patience in suffering? Who is to be the model?

2. Now turn to 1 Timothy 4:6-8.

a. What is to serve as the source of Timothy's strength in these verses?
b. What does the phrase "nourished on the words of the faith and of the good doctrine which you have followed" mean?
c. What do you think Paul had in mind for Timothy when he urged him to "train in godliness," avoid error, and get spiritual exercise? How might those encouragements change our lives? How would they prepare Timothy (and us) for suffering?

3. Read 2 Timothy 4:9-18.

a. Summarize the suffering Paul is relating in these verses. Why is this suffering even more difficult than physical pain?
b. How did Jesus experience this kind of suffering? What was Jesus' response to the suffering caused by His enemies?
c. How was Paul able to endure his personal struggles? What is Paul's attitude as he looks to the future?

F. Tying it all together

1. A disciple is not above his teacher. Jesus suffered and experienced rejection by the world. His disciples experienced this same rejection as they went about being the presence of Christ in the world. Paul suffered a great deal for the faith. In passing the torch of the Gospel to Timothy in these letters, Paul tells them to expect the same. But what makes it all worthwhile? Why should they accept suffering? What will be the final outcome? How does this lesson serve as a source of strength as we go about our ministry?

2. Can the Church be about its mission of spreading the Gospel and escape suffering? Give reasons for your answer.

3. What encouragement do you find in Paul's words? In his example? How has suffering and hardship brought you closer to your Savior?

G. Homework!

Be aware of the times this week when you felt most aware of Christ's presence. Were those good times or bad? How has God's care for His people in the past helped you? How did the Good News of Christ's death and resurrection strengthen you? Share some of your experiences with a good friend.


A. What We Hope To Accomplish

Paul makes it clear in his letters to Timothy that preserving the truth through attention to correct doctrine is a primary responsibility of the organized church. Doctrinal statements come into being to counter false doctrines being taught in the church.

Though the most dangerous false teachers present errors about the person and work of Jesus and the way of salvation, these heresies take different forms in different periods of history. In this lesson we want to examine some of the false teachings that were being circulated as truth in Paul's day and see how these are still being suggested today.

B. Questions To Get Us Started

1. List some of the doctrines of the Church. Which are most important. Why?

2. Which doctrines affect a person's salvation? How are the other doctrines of a church related to those basic doctrines?

3. Christendom today is fractured because of differences over doctrine. What standard does a person use in evaluating the doctrines of a particular church?

C. The Commission From Paul

1. Read 1 Timothy 1:3-7; 1 Timothy 4:6; 1 Timothy 6:20-21; 2 Timothy 1:13-14.

a. In all of these readings, what responsibility is given to Timothy?
b. According to 1 Timothy 1:5, what is the purpose of this "charge?" What reason or purpose is given in 1 Timothy 4:6?
c. According to 1 Timothy 1:6-7, what happens to the false teachers?

2. Now read 1 Timothy 6:3-5.

a. According to these verses, what is the standard by which sound doctrine is to be measured? What teachings of "Christians" today, in the church or out, might not measure up to this standard?
b. What is the result of turning away from true doctrine? What examples of the truth of these words do you know about today?

3. Read 2 Timothy 1:13-14 again. What does Paul suggest to Timothy as a measure of the truth of a doctrine? What has been "entrusted" to Timothy by the Holy Spirit.

4. Turn to 2 Timothy 2:20-26.

a. How would you put Paul's point in verses 20-21 into your own words?
b. Why is heated debate with false teachers discouraged? If Timothy's purpose is to "prove he is right" or to correct his opponent, what will be the result? How is that danger evidenced in doctrinal disagreement today?

D. What Was Being Taught

Let's see if we can discover some of the false teachings that were challenging the one true faith. Work through this section then compare your conclusions with the summary of false teaching in the INTRODUCTION.

1. Read 1 Timothy 1:3-7 again.

a. Why is teaching ''myths" (legends) dangerous? How are such teachings still evident today?
b. What might be the problem with genealogies? (For help read John 8:31-33) How might those of Jewish background have been using (or misusing) their relationship to their ancestors?

2. Read 1 Timothy 1:7-11. How are the false teachers misusing the Law? What is the correct use of the Law according to Romans 3:19-20?

3. Read 1 Timothy 4:1-5. What false laws are the teachers trying to apply to people? What principles about restricting food do you find in 1 Corinthians 8:8-9 and 10:23-32?

4. Let's see if we can discover the toots of these false laws. What are the implications of their demand that all be circumcised? (See Galatians 5:1-6 and Romans 2:25-29). How was the problem dealt with in Acts 15:1-2 and resolved in Acts 15:6-29?

5. Read 2 Timothy 2:14-19. What are the false teachers doing? What are they teaching?

6. In what do the arguers seem to trust according to 1 Timothy 6:20-21?

7. Read 1 Timothy 2:5-6. What false teaching might have caused Paul to emphasize that Jesus really lived and died as a man? How is the person and work of Christ sometimes questioned today?

8. From your study describe as completely as possible the false teachers Timothy was to deal with and their errors. Compare your conclusion with the information in the INTRODUCTION.

E. Wrapping Things Up

We discovered from Paul's commission to Timothy that preserving the "One True Faith" was a vital part of their ministry.

1. What are the consequences of allowing false doctrine to creep into the church? What should be the motive for speaking out against it?

2. How many of the false teachings present in Paul's day are still being taught? What evidence do you have for your answer?

3. How does doctrine affect the mission of the Church? How does it relate to the church as the presence of Christ in the world?

4. What resources do we have to combat false teaching today? What strength to stand against error do we find in Jesus Christ?

F. Homework!

In you time of personal devotion, recall the many ways God's Spirit has helped you to focus on Jesus' salvation for you and to avoid following false teachers. Share some of your experiences with a friend this coming week.


A. What We Want To Accomplish

"You take everything for granted!," an exasperated parent might say to an ungrateful child. It's easy to take for granted the great blessings because as they are repeated they become expected. One of the great pearls of the Christian faith we have labeled grace. This word describes the very heart of God's giving relationship to His people. Since we hear about God's grace so often it is easy to "take it for granted" without really understanding the depth of its meaning. In his letter to Timothy as in his other letters, Paul centers on grace as the foundation for Christian faith and life. In our lesson we hope to revitalize the joy that is ours because of the grace of God we have received in Christ Jesus.

B. Paul Begins With Grace

1. Read 1 Timothy 1:2, 2 Timothy 1:2.

a. Paul begins each letter with a greeting. The greeting often sets the "tone" of a letter. How would you describe Paul's "tone?"
b. Why grace, mercy, and peace? What is the relationship between the words? Is it possible to experience one without the other?

2. Read 2 Timothy 2:1. According to this verse, what is the source or foundation of Timothy's ministry? How would that source affect his service?

C. Paul Defines Grace

1. Read 2 Timothy 1:8-14.

a. See if you can come up with a definition of grace that conveys Paul's meaning here. As you work on that task, keep these questions in mind.

How is grace related to Jesus Christ?

What are the blessings of the gift of grace?

What is the relationship between Gospel and grace?

How did the gift of grace affect Paul's well-being in this life?

What does he believe about his future because of God's grace?

How is the Holy Spirit involved in God's gracious giving?

b. When Paul speaks about "truth" in verse 14, what do you think he means?

2. Read 1 Timothy 2:4-7.

a. What is God's desire? Why do we need a mediator between ourselves and God? What qualifies Jesus as the only mediator between God and man?
b. What does Paul mean by the word "ransom?"
c. What common theme or themes run through this text and the text studied previously?

D. How Grace Personally Touched One Life

1. Read 1 Timothy 1:12-17. How does Paul describe the effect of grace on his personal life?

2. How does the fact that Paul was an enemy of Christ and became a faithful witness demonstrate God's grace?

3. How does the statement "I am the foremost of sinners" apply to your life? How does verse 16 confront us when we feel like "great'' sinners?

4. If you were to give a "testimonial" like Paul's to the effect of God's grace in your life, what would that testimonial be?

E. Tying It A11 Together

1. Return to the initial discussion of the word "grace." What can you add to the definition? How can you help others focus on God's grace in Jesus Christ?

2. How has the grace of God affected your life? Can you share its importance for you?

3. Often it is said that Lutherans emphasize Grace alone-Faith alone-Word alone. Which of these do you think should be listed first and why? Why must we constantly reaffirm that our salvation is by grace alone?

F. Homework!

Write a personal statement about the affect of God's grace on your life. Share it with someone during the week.


A. What We Hope To Accomplish

Last session we reaffirmed that grace described the very heart of God's relationship to His people. We are saved by what God has done for us in Jesus Christ. By His death and resurrection we are God's own, and He continues to act toward us in a giving way in this life and eternally. That is the heart of what we call the Gospel. If salvation is God's doing, is there anything left for us to do? Can we live the way we choose to live? If we are saved by grace through faith, why then should we bother ourselves about our behavior? As we read Paul's instructions to Timothy we quickly realize that Paul in fact places a great emphasis on behavior. In this lesson we want to take a deeper look at the relationship between faith and works to get a better understanding of how what we do fits into our relationship with God.

B. The Problem Clearly Stated

1. Read Romans 6:1-4 and 12-14.

a. How does Paul state the problem in these verses? Why is it not acceptable to live any way we want to live because we are forgiven by grace?
b. What does it mean to be baptized into the death of Christ? In what way are we raised with Him?
c. Put verses 12-14 in your own words. How does the text relate to Baptism? What is the relationship between grace and works that is presented here?

C. What About Works In Timothy?

1. Read 2 Timothy 1:6-10.

a. Where does the power to live a life of witness and self-control come from.
b. Why need we be not ashamed?
c. What do our works have to do with our salvation?
d. Since we are saved by grace, what is the basis of our sanctified life?

D. The Relationship Between Law and Gospel

1. Review 1 Timothy 1:8-14.

a. Discuss the statement "The Law is to preserve life, not to give life" How do these verses apply to the statement?
b. What does Paul present as the controlling power in his life?
c. Summarize how Paul sees the relationship between his life of service to Christ (sanctification) and His righteousness before God (justification) in Jesus Christ. How is that relationship evident in your life?
d. Why is it so important that people do not confuse the Law with the Gospel?

E. Tying It All Together

If possible read Articles IV and VI of the Augsburg Confession as you discuss the following:

1. Summarize your discussion: What is Law? What does it have to do with Salvation? with the Christian life? What is Gospel? What does it have to do with daily living?

2. What is justification? How does God's justification in Christ apply to you? What is sanctification? How are you able to live the sanctified life?

3. Try two kinds of repentance here: In what way do we need to repent of relying on our goodness in an effort to improve our relationship with God or claim favors of Him?

In what way do we need to repent of going our own way and failing to do the good He calls us to do? How does the message of forgiveness and renewal in Jesus Christ make us able to continue to live the sanctified life?

F. Homework!

At the end of each day in your time of meditation think about the "good'' you have done that day. Where did the good come from? What was the motive behind your good cat or acts? How was Christ and His salvation evidenced in what you did?


A. What We Hope To Accomplish

Last time we looked at the "necessity" of good works as an expression of our faith in our life. You might review some of your discussion as you begin this lesson. In spite of the close link between faith and life, some Christians still try to separate their spiritual life from their secular life. They see no connection between the worship service, for example, and what they do the rest of the week. As we have seen, we have been made right with God by the grace of God for Jesus' sake. For that reason the Holy Spirit "creates in us a clean heart" as He comes to us again and again through Word and sacrament. If we are truly "His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works" (Ephesians 2:10) then we will leave the worship service to serve our Lord wherever we are.

Christ calls His people by the Word and enlightens them by the power of the Spirit through Word and sacrament. That call is a call to action. We preach and teach as we go about a ministry of service to people. In this session we want to look at some of the practical ways faith comes alive in the church-the people of God.

B. Getting Started

Once again make a class statement of the mission of our parish. List some of the activities in which we are involved.

1. How are these activities shaped as an expression of the faith of the people of God in this place?

2. Explain the statement: "Life should be a reflection of the worship experience."

C. An Indictment of Jesus

1. Turn to Matthew 15:1-9. Summarize the issue in this confrontation between Jesus-and the scribes and Pharisees. How does Jesus respond to their charge?

2. Explain Jesus' argument in verse 4-6. What is it, according to Jesus, that makes the worship of the religious leaders empty?

3. What does Jesus mean when He says: "This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me?"

4. What do these words of Jesus tell us about the relationship of worship life?

D. Preach The Word

A person facing death is likely to focus on things very close to his or her heart. When Paul wrote his second letter to Timothy he was rather sure that his death was near (4:6). Of the many things Pau1 could have said to Timothy, he chose this one final emphasis: "Preach the Word!"

Read 2 Timothy 4:1-5

1. How does Paul emphasize the great importance of this final instruction?

2. When Paul says, "Preach the Word," and in view of last sessions' study of Law and Gospel what is Timothy to preach and teach? How will his preaching be related to his life?

3. What do the words "in season and out of season" mean to you? What does the phrase say to us if we are constantly waiting for the "right time" to speak His Word?

4. Who is Timothy to "convince, rebuke, and exhort?" Why?

5. In verses 3 and 4, what reason is given for people not listening to the truth? Why might some people pick and choose what they want to believe?

6. How does Paul indicate that Timothy should not yield to the temptation to shape his message to fit the desires of his audience? Why is that a danger for pastors as they preach? For us as we witness?

7. How does this session point out the centrality of preaching in the life of the church? Why is it so important?

E. A Ministry Of Prayer

Read 1 Timothy 2:1-15.

1. What is the reason for our ministry of prayer? How does this ministry include preaching, teaching, living a godly life, and everything else that happens in the church? Explain your answer.

2. Toward whom is the ministry of the church directed?

3. What is the connection between "politics" and religion in these verses? How would you state the relationship of the church to the government? How would peace further the cause of the Gospel?

4. How would obeying the instruction in verse 8 further the cause of preaching the Gospel? What relationship is there between worship and life?

5. In what way do-woman's modest and sensible apparel and good deeds further the cause of the Gospel? How might "braided hair or gold or pearls or costly attire" interfere with a woman's witness?

6. Read verses 9-15 again and then discuss how these verses apply to the role of women in the church today.

F. Worship And Life

In the very last lesson we examined the life of Jesus and discovered that along with preaching and teaching His ministry included meeting the needs of people. We have looked at Jesus' indictment of the Pharisees and scribes because their deeds did not match their worship. In our personal lives and in our life together as a congregation, faith and life must be tied together. Service to God (worship) and to others (ministry) are the expressions of our faith. Jesus said of His ministry "I came not to be served but to serve."

Paul connects faith and life by instructing the congregation to take care of its widows, as families take care of their members.

Read 1 Timothy 5:3-16.

l. What distinction does Paul make between a "widow" and a "real widow?" Why might that distinction be necessary?

2. Read the instruction to children and grandchildren? Who has the first responsibility to help those in need?

3. In verses 9-16, what rules does Paul establish for ministry to and with widows? Why might such rules be necessary? How would you state the goal of the rules? How does that goal fit into the mission of the church? 4. How can this organized ministry to people in need be a model for our congregation's endeavors to help those in need?

G. Tying It All Together

From the hand of Jesus "the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them." (Matthew 11:5) The Church is the presence of Jesus in the world of today. As followers of Christ, what connection are we to make between faith and life?

1. What opportunity for repentance and renewal do you find as you discuss this question? how can you share the encouragement of God's forgiveness in Jesus Christ with one another?

2. How is Paul carrying out his commission as an apostle by instructing the congregations to take care of the needy?

3. What plan can you come up with that would allow your congregation to undertake a more visible ministry to the needy? How can you enlist the involvement of other individuals and of organizations in the congregation? How can your plan be carried out?

H. Homework!

Keep a diary of times this week when your faith life was most active. What ways were you able to minister, teach, pray, serve?


A. What We Hope To Accomplish

Paul writes in 1 Timothy 2:4-6 that God "desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." The Gospel is universal because Jesus "gave Himself as a ransom for all''. Since the Church represents the presence of Christ in the world, it has a Word and a ministry for everyone--for the poor as well as the rich, for the slave as well as the master.

Sermons, for example, reflect the pastor's desire to apply God's Word to a variety of situations and a variety of people. In his letters to Timothy, Paul encourages this young pastor to do the same--to apply the Gospel to people where they are. In this lesson we want to affirm that the Gospel is a Word for all.

B. A Word For The Family of God

1. Generally when we speak of an "extended family'' we mean a family that reaches beyond a couple and their children to grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. Jesus has given to us an even broader definition of the extended family. Turn to Matthew 12:46-50. Summarize the situation.

a. Jesus is not turning away from His family, but what precisely is He telling His audience? _
b. What is it that binds people together in a family unit according to Jesus?

2. Paul is telling Timothy to apply these words of Jesus to the congregation he serves. Let us see how he does it by reading 1 Timothy 5:1-2.

a. What attitude should Timothy have toward the various kinds of people in the congregation?
b. What is the difference between rebuking and exhorting?
c. How is the kind of concern that brothers, sisters, and parents have for each other different from the concern people have for strangers or acquaintances?
d. List some ways family members would help and support each other beyond what they would do for someone outside the family.
e. How is the Christian congregation like a family? In what ways are were truly unique?

3. Reread 1 Timothy 5:3. How does this verse point out that even someone who is alone has a family.

4. How does your congregation try to help people affirm their relationship as members of the "family of Christ?" In what ways does your congregation foster the family relationship in the life of the members?

C. A Word To The Master And The Slave

1. Read 1 Timothy 6:1-2. Slavery was a part of Paul's world. The slaves Paul speaks to were, for the most part, indentured servants who did domestic work.

a. What is the real issue addressed by these verses? What is the purpose of the servant's obedience? How does that obedience foster the spread of the Gospel?
b. What should be the guiding principle in the relationship between a slave and a master? Even though their rank in society is different, how does Paul indicate that they are equal before God?

D. A Word To The Rich And The Struggling

1. Jesus talked a lot about possessions. What word of warning does He give about wealth in Matthew 19:23-26? What word of comfort does Jesus here offer to the rich and to us?

2. Read 1 Timothy 6:17-19. Here Timothy is given an exhortation for the rich in his congregation.

a. Why might the word "haughty" apply to the rich? How does it apply to us when we feel better or more deserving than others?
b. How are the rich to use their wealth? Where should they place their security?
c. How does Jesus' life and death connect with verse 19?

3. Review the 10th. Commandment (Exodus 20:17)

a. What does it mean to covet? Let's look at the word Paul has in 1 Timothy 6:6-10 for those who strive for riches. How do these words address the problem of coveting.
b. What does "we cannot take anything out of the world" say to those who strive for riches?
c. What is the real danger of coveting, or "desire'' as Paul puts it?
d. How does Paul illustrate the truth that "the love of money is the root of all evils?"
e. What warning for us is in these verses?

E. Tying It All Together

This session we set out to be able to see more clearly that the Gospel has a word for everyone.

1. How well did we accomplish that goal?

2. What common thread runs through the word to each group?

3. What doe these exhortations have to do with the Church's mission? With the church as the presence of Christ in the world?

4. What word of exhortation became most clear for you in this study? To what extent did it lead you to repentance? How will your renewal in Christ's forgiveness help you to better heed this exhortation?

F. Homework!

What plan or program can you come up with that would help your congregation minister better to people with specific needs: aged, divorced, single, etc.? How can you put your plan into action?

Read over 1 and 2 Timothy once more. Check your marks. What marks can you add? What insights have you gained? What encouragement? What questions still remain?


How To Make Your Congregation Work A Thematic Study of 1 & 2 Timothy & Titus Board For Parish Services, The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO. 1982