Dr. Richard L. Hamm3 years ago
Paul’s pastoral letters are written to individuals, but they’re meant for congregations. And they’re not meant only for the original individual and the original congregation to whom they are addressed: they are meant for us as well. Paul is not simply sharing his opinions in these letters, he is telling us God’s will and word for the church today.
What is the church supposed to look like? We all have our opinions. Paul is not addressing personal taste or individual ideas. He is declaring the principles of God’s Word. Therefore, there are questions to be asked and answered: Does the Bible say anything about how the church should function? Does God say what the church should be and do? Of course! All through the Bible, God is explaining what He desires, but especially here in these pastoral epistles. God directs His word through Paul to the pastors of these local congregations that were in existence within thirty years of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He articulates the timeless principles as to what the church is to be and what she is to do. Obviously, these principles are just as applicable for us today.
The pastoral epistles give us both a description and a prescription of the pattern and the life of the local church. Because Jesus called Paul to the apostolic office, Jesus instructed Paul how he wanted his church to function. Therefore, Paul is conveying how the church is to operate according to Jesus Christ. The church was formed and instituted by God. Therefore, the church is to function according to God’s design.
Paul is not writing from the point of wisdom that he has gained from years of pastoring to give you tips on how to be better Christians in the local congregation. Rather, he is declaring that this is God’s Word for how God the Father, and Jesus Christ wants and demands the local church to function.
Paul, in the Pastoral Epistles is not writing a “Best-Seller on Helpful Hints for a Healthy Church.” There have been so many books written on “How To Do Church.” Seemingly, every successful pastor has written a book to tell his or her story as to how they did it; “How They Grew Their Church In Three Easy Steps,” “How To Grow Your Church from 50 to 5,000.” These types of books on church models are everywhere. These books in themselves are not bad. In fact, I have read a few of them over the years. However, through the Pastoral Epistles, we are able to hear how God wants the Church to function.