by Barry Newton
An extraordinary claim with profound implications protrudes from Paul’s contribution to the New Testament assaying modern motivations and ministry. Although Paul never gleaned from Jesus’ earthly ministry, Paul asserted Jesus had revealed to him his message (Galatians 1:11-12)
Furthermore, the content of the Lord’s communication appears to have encompassed more than his death, burial and resurrection. For example, Paul stamped his comments regarding worship assembly practices as being, “the Lord’s command.” (1 Corinthians 14:37)
As the years swept by, when Paul needed to help Timothy and Titus navigate strange and unhealthy teachings, he recalled to their memory how God had entrusted him with his word (Titus 1:3; 1 Timothy 1:11).
In fact the ambiguous phrase, “he is able to guard my deposit,” in 2 Timothy 1:12, when understood in context, probably refers to what Paul had received.
Every thing Timothy had heard Paul teach as they had sauntered from city to city planting and building up churches was deposited to his care as a guiding compass (2 Timothy 1:13-14). He in turn needed to entrust others to faithfully follow (2 Timothy 2:2).
Writing to the church, Paul reminded them that being entrusted with stewardship places upon a person the responsibility to be faithful (1 Corinthians 4:2). The Lord would judge. He would assay whether the quality of ministry was extremely valuable, or essentially useless. However, at least it didn’t kill anyone (1 Corinthians 3:10-4:5).
This whole idea of being entrusted points to an author-centered understanding of the message, not a reader-centered one. In other words, what matters is the content of the original message, not what I might think it means.
Furthermore, this also means that we are not free to reshape the message according to our tastes and preferences. What needs to be valued is working within the parameters and holding to the teachings it establishes.
Finally, while people might still do whatever they desire with God’s word, in the end the Lord will judge each one’s faithfulness and trustworthiness. Pursuing the commendation and approval of our Lord is what counts.
by Barry Newton