St. Timothy of Ephesus is the recipient of two letters from Paul (1st and 2nd Timothy) and it is important to notice the introduction in both of these letters.

1st Timothy 1:1-2 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Savior, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope; Unto Timothy, my own son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.

2nd Timothy 1:1-2 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus, To Timothy, my dearly beloved son: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

I point this out so that the reader may understand how these letters are to a singular individual, versus being written to a group of people. Notice how many of the other letters (Books/Epistles) of the New Testament are addressed to their intended audience:

Romans 1:7 to all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.

1st Corinthians 1:1-2 Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:

2nd Corinthians 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, unto the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints which are in all Achaia:

Galatians 1:1-2 Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;) And all the brethren which are with me, unto the churches of Galatia:

Ephesians 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus:

Philippians 1:1 Paul and Timothy, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:

Colossians 1:1-2 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, to the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

1st Thessalonians 1:1 Paul, and Silvanus, and Timothy, unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.

2nd Thessalonians 1:1 Paul, and Silvanus, and Timothy, unto the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:

1st Peter 1:1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,

2nd Peter 1:1 Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Savior Jesus Christ:

2nd John 1:1 the elder unto the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth; and not I only, but also all they that have known the truth;

Jude 1:1 Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called

 Other letters (Epistles) addressed to a singular individual:

Philemon 1:1 Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ, and Timothy our brother, unto Philemon our dearly beloved, and fellow-laborer,

3rd John 1:1 the elder unto the well-beloved Gaius, whom I love in the truth.

Now for those who need an immediate deflective argument (so you’re saying nothing in the letters addressed to Timothy, Philemon and Gaius has anything in them for anyone else) No, I am simply pointing out the difference between letters you yourself might write; either to an individual, or to a group of people. If you were to write a letter home to your single parent, letting him/her know you’ll be home for Christmas, is that letter to/for anyone else to receive?

It is recorded that Timothy died somewhere near 97 AD.

I write this article in relation to what most refer to as the “coming/return” of Christ; which is still supposed to be at some point in our own future, but I want to draw your attention to the possibility that this “coming/return” has already taken place, even though I know such a proposition bucks nearly 2,000 years of tradition in Christian circles.

I do not intend for this singular article to be an exhaustive effort of/on the subject of this coming/return (as this requires study of thousands of scriptures in the Bible) but merely to address something that Paul exhorts Timothy to do until that coming/return occurs.

1st Timothy, chapter 6

Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honor, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed.  And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren; but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit. These things teach and exhort.  If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strivings of words, whereof comes envy, strife, railings, evil surmising, perverse disputations of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw yourself. But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. Having food and raiment, let us be content with such but they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But you, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto you are also called, and have professed a good profession before many witnesses. I give you charge in the sight of God, who quickens all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession; That you keep this commandment without spot, and blameless, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ: Which in his times he shall show, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; Who only has immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man has seen, nor can see: to whom be honor and power everlasting. Amen. Charge them that are rich in this age, that they be not high-minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy; That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time about to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life. O Timothy, keep that which is committed to your trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: Which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace to you. Amen.

Notice on how many occasion, Paul addresses Timothy singular and specifically

  • but rather do them service
  • These things teach and exhort
  • from such withdraw yourself
  • But you, O man of God, flee these things
  • Fight the good fight of faith
  • whereunto you are also called
  • have professed a good profession before many witnesses
  • I give you charge
  • That you keep this commandment without spot
  • Charge them that are rich in this world
  • O Timothy, keep that which is committed to your trust
  • Grace to you. Amen

Again for those that need instant deflection in order to avoid the immediate context and intent of Paul’s words to Timothy; there are principles; that all believers should implement, involved in these personal exhortations to Timothy, but much the same as with that letter you wrote to your parent about going home for Christmas, the immediate context must be first applied to the immediate audience.

Within the above listed exhortations form Paul, specifically to Timothy, I listed part “That you keep this commandment without spot” of verse 14

“That you keep this commandment without spot, and blameless, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ”

As noted earlier, Timothy died around 97 AD, so how could he have kept “this commandment without spot, and blameless, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ” if that “appearing” has not yet occurred?

The “appearing” in verse 14 comes from the Greek word “epiphaneia” which is where we get our English word “Epiphany” from; does an epiphany always require something visible to human eyesight; does it not also refer to a realization of something not previously understood?

As to the idea that this appearing has in fact already occurred; this is where a whole host of reasons (excuses) are immediately lobbed at such an idea:

·       Paul just meant for Timothy to do that in case the “appearing” occurred before Timothy died.

·       The “appearing” couldn’t have happened yet because there’s still sin, crying, death, etc…

·       Well, Jesus said “No one knows the hour or the day”

·       Etc…etc…etc…etc…

Such offerings are nothing more than excuses based on presuppositions of what the world and humanity would/should look like if indeed this appearing has already occurred.

These books of the Bible are firstly Epistles/Letters that were written to and/or for a specific audience; Christianity, Judaism and Islam have taken much of this information and; rather than reading it from the perspective of its first intended audience, have twisted many of the things involved, to be personally about them, in any/every successive generation they live in.  

No one has since taken: Noah’s message of building an Ark, Solomon’s message about building a Temple, or even the Apostle’s message about waiting in Jerusalem for the Holy Spirit, to be about them personally; and it’s because they understand the context of the stories.

This isn’t about principles, spiritual promises made to/for all believers, or even prophetic events that were to precede this “coming/return” of Christ; Timothy is singular and specifically exhorted to do something UNTIL this “appearing our Lord Jesus Christ” and as noted, Timothy is dead; how can a dead man keep any commandment?

Within this same chapter (verses 17-19)

“Charge them that are rich in this age, that they be not high-minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy; That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time about to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life”

We find yet two more clues that this “appearing” was something that was very close in occurrence:

  • Charge them that are rich in this age
  • the time about to come

Problems in applying the proper context; and timing of this “appearing” exist because many versions of the Bible have improperly interpreted two very key words that when understood correctly, define the timing of this “appearing” and to whom it immediately related to.

Depending on which version of the Bible one uses, the phrase “Charge them that are rich in this age” is often (incorrectly) interpreted to say “Charge them that are rich in this world” and worded as such, still seems to apply as we’re all living on the same planet/world as those of/in the 1st century, but we are not living in the same “age” that they were.

The Greek word here; which is often mistranslated as “world” comes from “aion/ahee-ohn” and more properly relates to a period of time, rather than the planet or world itself. This word is even preceded by the Greek word “nun/noon” which a Greek Lexicon defines as “a primary particle of (then) present time” which explains it being interpreted as “this” to clearly show its relation to the then present age, rather than some distant future age and/or time.

Our second phrase “the time about to come” is likewise mistranslated in numerous versions as “time to come” which if left unchecked, simply relates to its occurrence at some undefined future point in time. This entire phrase “time to come” is from the Greek word “mello mel’-lo” and more properly relates to something: on the verge of occurring, in the process of occurring or something that is about to occur” and we see a good example of this in another scripture;

Matthew 2:13 And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be there until I bring you word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.

Where it states that Herod “will seek the young child (Jesus) to destroy him” we find that “will” while sounding as a something yet future, is from the same “mello/mel’-lo” and the Greek plainly shows this is in the present tense; Herod was already (in the process) of seeking to have Jesus killed.

Many arguments can be put forth and as I’ve already explained; I do not intend for this singular article to be an exhaustive effort of/on the subject of this coming/return, but I’d like for you to look at 1st Timothy 6:14 again;

“That you keep this commandment without spot, and to be blameless, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ”

And while employing intellectual honesty, ask yourself;

Did Paul tell Timothy to:

1. That you keep this commandment without spot, and to be blameless, until you die.

or

2. That you keep this commandment without spot, and to be blameless, until the (epiphaneia) appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ:

 

Then ask yourself if our dead St. Timothy can keep this commandment until some supposed yet future appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ.


I don’t expect anyone to immediately change their opinion as to this supposed yet future coming/return/appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, simply based on this small article; I do however ask that you at least contemplate such a prospect with an open mind, while allowing intellectual honesty to reign as you search the scriptures in light of such a proposal. 


Copyright © 2014 Jerry Wm Bowers Jr. (All rights reserved)

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