Pastoral Epistles 24 – Philemon

The Epistle to Philemon is not strictly speaking a pastoral epistle, as it does not concern the pastoral care of a church. It is, however, a very personal letter written to Philemon, who was a leader in Colossae of some means and influence. Philemon had a slave by the name of Onesimus, who ran away to a major city, most likely Ephesus, where he became a Christian and met Paul.

Paul knows that Onesimus must return to Philemon, and so writes a letter to Philemon in order to plead for Onesimus’ favorable return. We know that a later bishop in the area was named Onesimus, so Paul’s letter appears to have been successful, and perhaps Onesimus included this letter in the canon of scripture to show a more personal aspect of Paul. Paul appeals to Philemon by reminding him of his reputation for love, and thus sets the stage for his plea to Philemon.

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Pastoral Epistles 23 – Engaging the Faithful

Those who would pastor must remind the faithful to obey legitimate authority and engage in God’s work. Pastors must also not engage in controversies. A pastor must not drive those who hold erroneous beliefs from the faith, but must encourage all to come to the true faith from wherever they are.

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Pastoral Epistles 22 – Godly Living

All Apostolic Ministry is supposed to spark the faith, inform the faith with a knowledge of the truth and encourage godly living. Paul has no difficulty with encouraging godly living in this letter, and Paul encourages Titus and all of us to do this. We must make a break with the worldly things and live soberly.

Paul also makes one of the strongest statements that Jesus is God in Titus 2:13.

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Pastoral Epistles 21 – Character of Teachers

Priests must be able to see and identify heresy, root it but yet not draw attention to it, so as to enable heresy. These priests must be dedicated to their work. Likewise, mothers must be serious about the faith and teach it to their children so that they do not fall into the trap of this sort of heresy.

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Pastoral Epistles 20 – Introduction to Titus

Titus was close to Paul, chosen as an example of how faithful Gentiles could be to Christ. Paul begins the epistle to Titus by proclaiming himself to be a slave to Christ, showing radical devotion to Christ. Paul knows that as a pastor, he must spark a faith response to God. The Church must impart knowledge of the Truth and the sure hope that those who respond will attain eternal life.

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Pastoral Epistles 19 – End of Second Timothy

Paul closes the letter with personal notes about many of his fellow Christians, like Timothy and Mark, whom Paul requests visit him, Demas, who is in love with the present world, many missionaries who are going off to carry on the message of Christ, as well as Claudia, one of the women involved in the early Church and Linus, who is probably the same Linus who will one day succeed Peter as Pope.

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Pastoral Epistles 18 – Instructing the faithful

Christ is returning to judge the living and the dead, and Paul orders Timothy to educate Christians in the faith, but this is not an obligation of Timothy alone. We must all take on the task of holding the people to the faith rather than the other paths of erroneous beliefs.

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Pastoral Epistles 17 – Avoiding Error

Some Christians may be easily misled into error, but we must be prepared to defend the faith and avoid being drawn into the sin of others who will proclaim these. Paul notes that the Bible is useful for correction, just as tradition is. We must seek not signs or prophecies but rather the true faith; and we have seen this lust for signs exploited as far back as Pharaoh’s priests.

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Pastoral Epistles 16 – The Last Days

Paul tells us a few characteristics of the last days. While the early Church was expecting an immediate coming of the last days, the prophecy in Daniel leaves the exact time indeterminate. Antichrists will rise to mislead people but for mercy, the time of the final judgment is being delayed.

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Pastoral Epistles 15 – Erroneous Doctrines

When we become Christians, we are incorporated into Christ. Some teachers preach a perverted Christianity which is not a part of life in Christ, and we are told to avoid such things and those who traffic in them. These errors may be allowed to persist so that we may be challenged to hold to God’s will in purity. We must also correct these people in gentleness and not in anger.

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