Two weekends ago, I got to go to a lecture on the book of 2 Timothy given by Pastor Earl Palmer. He was the pastor at 1st Pres Berkeley when Brittany’s parents were attending there. In fact, he baptized Brittany as a baby. The last time I heard him speak, he did the entire gospel according to John in a day, so having the same lump of time to tackle such a short book sounded awesome! And it was. 🙂
There was something really profound in the opening greetings of the letter that really stuck with me and I wanted to draw attention to it.
Paul writes the letter to his beloved son, Timothy (who would not have been his real son, but he had adopted him in so many ways it just makes sense). He then prays for grace, mercy and peace to be in Timothy’s life as he jumps into the discussion of the rest of his letter. But the simplicity of his blessing for his dear friend is poignant and really cool. There is a series of powerful emotional words that Paul uses that almost tell a story and sum up everything Paul wishes for Timothy.
The first powerful emotion word is agape, the greek word for love without conditions. Paul describes his good friend Timothy who is obviously quite dear to him as loved despite anything he could possibly do.
The second powerful emotion word is charis, the greek word for grace or gift that has a strong implication of surprise to it. So after telling Timothy that he is dearly beloved and there isn’t anything he can do about it, he reminds him that he has an unbelievable gift of grace that came as a surprise. He can’t do away with this love and he didn’t do anything to earn it in the first place.
The third powerful emotion word is eleos, the greek word for mercy or compassion. Since this unbelievable grace and love came with out any prompting by action on the part of Timothy, how much easier is it for him to be moved in compassion to extend the same love and grace to others? Paul’s wish is for the same compassion that moves the heart of God to love Timothy would move Timothy to love others with the same relentless love and grace.
The fourth and final powerful emotion word is eireinei, the greek word for peace which is a very Jewish concept. The idea of Shalom, the hebrew expression of this peace, is a wholeness and completion when everything is right in the world. So in response to the unconditional (agape) love that Paul feels toward Timothy (and that God feels for Timothy as well), which is the result of the undeserved and surprising (charis) grace of Christ, moves a person to compassionate (eleos) mercy and in experiencing this discovers the wholeness and (eireinei) peace of God because of what He is doing and has already done.
All this in a simple sentence. Love, Grace, Mercy, and Peace. What a reminder of the goodness of God.