Friday, September 21, 2012

Daily Bible Reading: 1 Maccabees 8 and 2 Timothy 2

1 Maccabees 8 – Judas Maccabaeus sends a delegation to the Romans to conclude a treaty with them. The Romans are seen as very powerful but not as oppressive as the Seleucids are. This is the time of the Republic, and the Roman emperors do not assume any divine status as perhaps the Seleucids did. They conclude a treaty promising not to give any aid or comfort to any enemy of Rome and Rome promises a similar intent.

2 Timothy 2 – Paul urges Timothy to “take your part in suffering, as a loyal soldier of Christ Jesus” (2:3). We must give up everything that does not lead us to God. There should be no wrangling over words, no “pointless philosophical discussions” (2:16) that drive people away from true religion.

He mentions what he considers the heresies of Hymenaeus and Philetus who teach “that our resurrection has already taken place” (2:18).

I find Paul’s criticism of these two men interesting. Some Greek converts had trouble with taking this hoped-for “resurrection of the dead” literally; they were trying to see it as a more mystical experience such as happened in spiritual baptism. I think Quakers might have been sympathetic to their approach, seeing the words as having more or a spiritual significance than historical or literal. Paul was not sympathetic.

Paul also urges Timothy to avoid “the passions of youth” (2:22) and to be “a good and patient teacher, who is gentle as you correct your opponents, for it may be that God will give them the opportunity to repent and come to know the truth (2:24-25).

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