Why Expository Preaching?

Why Expository Preaching?

Often I find myself in conversations with prospective members about why we are committed to expository preaching. Many churches have a different approach to preaching which is usually topical or series driven so that it presents itself as ultra relevant. In an age of relevant driven approaches to “doing church” — why would we remain fixed on a style of preaching that sounds so antiquarian and outdated? I want to be clear about why we are committed to expository preaching and it’s not an attempt to tradition or traditionalism. In fact, it has nothing to do with going against the grain of modern trends or staying connected to some historical approach. It’s much deeper than that and in his brief article, I’d like to explain why we believe expository preaching is the best approach.

First, a definition of terms would be helpful. What exactly do we mean by the term expository preaching? In his classic book on expository preaching, Haddon Robinson provides the following definition, “Expository preaching is the communication of a biblical concept, derived from and transmitted through a historical, grammatical, and literary study of a passage in its context, which the Holy Spirit first applies to the personality and experience of the preacher, then through the preacher applies to the hearers.” [1]

Words

When talking to people about church, you may often hear people describe their church as the “non-preachy” type of church where the pastor really gets down on the level with the members and doesn’t try to use big theologically focused words. While that may be attractive to a certain segment of our culture, the statement itself fails to understand the importance of words. If we’re afraid of words such as propitiation, atonement, predestination, and sin—we are forced to drive people away from the Scriptures in order to avoid the biblical language itself. The most foundational words in Christianity have meanings and if we minimize the necessity of words and definitions—the foundation of our entire religion will crumble away.

Words serve as windows into a world of meaning that’s necessary for knowing God. If he had so chosen, God could have revealed himself to us in pictures or through verbal tradition alone. However, that is not the way God chose for us to know him. He revealed himself to us by the use of vocabulary—specifically the languages of Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. From this original set of words—the sacred Scriptures were translated into other languages in order for people to know God through their native tongue.

When it comes to music, we learn very quickly that words matter. In fact, the words of a song can make it or break it. In poetry, words matter. Why did David write, “The heavens declare the glory of God” in Psalm 19:1? Why didn’t he simply state, “God is glorious—just look at the sky and see for yourself” or something along those lines? The answer—because words matter. The very moment that a person claims that theology is for the seminary classroom and that sermons need to be simple—they reduce their window into God’s glory down to the size of a peephole. Therefore, expository preaching enables us to focus on the key words that serve as large windows into God’s revelation and this leads us to greater worship. Through expository preaching, we aim to cover all of God’s Word—because God has not wasted any words in the Scriptures.

Winds

Cultural winds are constantly blowing. In fact, they never stop. Ideas are constantly blowing through our culture and such ideas bring with them serious ramifications. Just as a sailboat navigates the wind in order to move in a specific direction, we too must be watching the winds and setting our sails in such a way that we are not moved off course. Even if we are moved off course just a fraction today, that distance will only grow over time. Sailors are not lazy minded people. They are proactive—constantly watching the skies and making adjustments so as to stay on course. Christians can’t afford to be lazy in our approach to the Bible—both personal Bible study and corporate worship.

Christians need to be people who are not looking to capitulate in the smallest area of life. Precision is necessary, but if you minimize the importance of God’s Word and maximize your attention on culture—you will find yourself gripped by the opinions and ideas of the culture rather than God’s inerrant and sufficient Word. Therefore, expository preaching drives at precision and enables a person (and a church) to navigate the stormy seas of culture without being driven off course. Listen to the way Paul explains the purpose of the gift of the pastor-teacher in the life of the church in his letter to the church at Ephesus. Paul explains the pastor’s purpose is:

To equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes (Ephesians 4:12–14).

Cultural winds come and go and so do the latest trends of church growth experts. Rather than being blown around by such gimmicks, expository preaching grounds the elders in God’s Word and allows them to trust the Spirit of God to do his work on a weekly basis.

Worship

Preaching goes far beyond delivering information for people to pack into their heads. Preaching is not teaching. Preaching involves teaching and it certainly involves the delivery of information, but the church is not merely an academic setting where people are gathered as learners. While the church is learning each week—we are gathered together on the Lord’s Day (and any other time we gather for corporate worship) for the purpose of worship. According to John Piper, in his excellent book, Expository Exultation:

Exposition and exultation are never separated in true preaching. It is possible to do exposition of texts that you don’t even believe, let alone exult over. So I do not regard exposition per se as the defining mark of preaching. The Devil can do biblical exposition—even speaking true propositions about the text’s meaning. But the Devil cannot exult over the divine glory of the meaning of Scripture. He hates it. So he cannot preach—not the way I am defining it. [2]

As the church gathers for worship, we should ask why we worship in the way we worship each week? Do styles matter? Why use a specific order of worship with prayers and preaching as opposed to other cultural inventions of our modern day? The answer is based on the parameters we find in the Bible itself. As we study the Bible verse-by-verse, it enables us to structure our worship in such a way that uses the different aspects of worship that we find in the Scriptures.

Finally, in preaching, I’m convinced that we must be modeling before the people how they too can study God’s Word. The mother who opens the Bible with her children can learn from her pastor how to rightly divide holy Scripture by watching his preaching methods. The father who works as a mechanic and leads in family worship for his family in the evenings can learn the model of Bible study by observing the techniques used in the pulpit week-by-week. In his excellent book, Nine Marks of a Healthy Church, Mark Dever explains:

Expositional preaching is not simply producing a verbal commentary on some passage of Scripture. Rather, expositional preaching is that preaching which takes for the point of a sermon the point of a particular passage of Scripture. That’s it. The preacher opens the Word and unfolds it for the people of God. [3]

People gather each week with thirsty souls and hearts that have been damaged by the effects of sin. The world’s system, fueled by the father of all lies (John 8:44), has tried to seduce them and often it has been successful. Each week, as the church gathers, people assemble with anxieties and worries, doubts and fears—and what they need is not more cultural psychology, political ideologies, or funny jokes. They need to hear the voice of God. That’s why we’re committed to expository preaching because we desire to unleash the Word of God on the souls of hurting, hungry, and needy people. The Word of God is sufficient and God is worthy of glory.


  1. Haddon Robinson, Biblical Preaching, (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2005), 21.
  2. John Piper, Expository Exultation, (Wheaton: Desiring God Foundation, 2018), 53.
  3. Mark Dever, Nine Marks of a Healthy Church (Wheaton: Crossway, 2000), 26.
The Truth About Sin

The Truth About Sin

Yesterday morning, in our study through Romans, our text was Romans 3:9-20. I titled the sermon, “The Truth About Sin” because Paul comes to a climax in his argument about how both the Jew and the Gentile are all under sin—guilty before God. In short, sin kills and we’ve all been born as guilty sinners. Paul does a great job of looking at how both the Jew and the Greek are guilty—and he does so from the Old Testament.

Not long ago, Andy Stanley made another controversial statement that made its way through evangelical circles. He stated that the Old Testament was not necessary for new covenant believers. In short, this is what Andy Stanley said:

Peter, James, Paul elected to unhitch the Christian faith from their Jewish scriptures, and my friends, we must as well…Jesus’ new covenant, His covenant with the nations, His covenant with you, His covenant with us, can stand on its own two nail-scarred resurrection feetIt does not need propping up by the Jewish scriptures.

The Bible did not create ChristianityThe resurrection of Jesus created and launched ChristianityYour whole house of Old Testament cards can come tumbling downThe question is, did Jesus rise from the deadAnd the eyewitnesses said he did.

As we look at Romans 3:9-20, we have to ask an honest question. Was Paul writing to new covenant believers? Sure he was—it was post-resurrection. We must be honest with this text and recognize that Paul could have quoted Jesus about sin without quoting any other passage of Scripture. However, that is not the approach of Paul. In order to prove the absolute wickedness of the human heart of both Jew and Gentile, he points back to the Old Testament and quotes thirteen different verses to establish his point. If the new covenant believers need to “unhitch from the Old Testament” why was Paul quoting from the Old Testament so much?

Paul points to the depravity of all people in Romans 3:9 and demonstrates that both Jew and Greek are all under sin. He then takes his readers on a journey through the Old Testament to prove his case. Verse 10-12 are quotes taken from Psalm 14 and Psalm 53. This entire section is focused on the character of the human heart. In verses 13-14, Paul turns from the heart to the tongue as he focuses on the speech. These verses contain quotes from Psalm 5, Psalm 140, and Psalm 10. Finally, Paul turns from the tongue to the works of a person—how a person lives life. In this section, Paul quotes from Proverbs 1, Isaiah 59, and Psalm 36. It’s quite clear as Paul drives home his point that the human heart is filled with wicked desires and there is no fear of God before depraved sinners.

Finally, Paul points to the law of God and reminds his readers that no person can keep the law and please God. It’s through the law of God that we are held accountable and that we have the knowledge of sin. The very moment that a person believes that their ability to perform their religion is able to please God—they are doomed. That type of thinking produces spiritual hypocrites who are like whitewashed tombs—white on the exterior and full of dead man’s bones on the inside.

Has God changed your heart? Have you experienced the transformation mentioned in 2 Corinthians 5:17? If not, why not submit yourself to Christ today and repent of your sin as you believe that Jesus paid for all of your sin on the cross? You may be a wicked sinner, but Jesus is a faithful Savior.

 

A Warning Regarding Hypocritical Religion

A Warning Regarding Hypocritical Religion

Yesterday I preached Romans 2:17-29 in our study through Romans on Sunday mornings. The focus of Paul’s words was centered on the danger of hypocritical religiosity. Certainly if anyone could address such matters, it was Paul, a Jew of the Jews, a Pharisee—one of the insiders who became a true Christian and an apostle. Having been on the inside of the Jewish religious system and now serving as a Christian preacher—Paul understood the trap of legalism and hypocrisy.  Paul sounds the bell of warning here in Romans.

Paul sounds the alarm regarding self-deception. At the root, sin is the deceiving of the individual’s conscience so as to cause a person to believe the devil’s lie about being satisfied in sin. In all reality, sin never satisfies. When sin is wrapped up in a religious system, it takes on another form of satisfaction—the idea that a person can please God in works of righteousness. This is precisely the issue that Paul was addressing with the Jews of his day.

The Jews were engaged in national pride, boasting in their bloodline. They were relying upon the law of God, when in reality the law has no ability to save but every ability as God has designed to condemn a person. The Jews were boastful, as they boasted in God and the law—their boasting was sinful arrogance rather than humble exultation. The Jews were hypocrites (actors) who played the part of God-fearing law keepers, but in reality they were sinners just like the Gentiles. Paul’s aim was to remove their mask so they could see their true face—the face of sin.

Paul pointed out that they were entrusted to be guides to the blind—leading people out of darkness into the marvelous light of Christ. They were to be teachers of children—but while they boasted in the law they kept it to themselves and failed in their mission. Because of their failure, they caused Gentiles to blaspheme God. Paul’s charge of indictment was a stinging reminder of the failure of hypocritical religion.

Paul went on to point to the inability of circumcision to please God. The mark of identification was a good thing, but if they were law breakers—the cutting of the flesh was of no value in terms of saving grace. They needed something far greater and that circumcision was of the heart.

  • 2 Corinthians 5:17 – Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
  • Ezekiel 11:19 – And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh
  • John 1:12-13 – But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, [13] who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

True Christianity is not based on external cutting of the flesh and keeping of the law it’s based on the changed heart through Jesus Christ. As you examine this text and this great indictment upon the Jews and their legalism and hypocrisy—what does your Christianity look like? Legalism is a dangerous pit!

Charles Spurgeon once said, “It would appear that God does not know the best way of saving men, and men are so wise that they amend His methods!

 

The Reason Jesus Used Parables May Shock You

The Reason Jesus Used Parables May Shock You

This Sunday evening, the pastors of Pray’s Mill Baptist Church where I serve as pastor, will begin a series through the parables. In preparation for that series, I’ve been reading and thinking about the purpose of parables in the preaching and teaching ministry of Jesus. What is the point of parable as a genre? Why did Jesus employ parables? What can we learn today from Jesus’ parables as we consider the art of sermon crafting and sermon delivery? The answer to such questions are both expected and shocking at the same time.

What is a parable? A parable is a specific type of genre. In the Bible we see differing types of genre such as law, wisdom, history, narrative, poetry, didactic, gospel, and the always exciting apocalyptic literature. The parable is a short fictional story used for the purpose of revealing and concealing truth—sometimes simultaneously. John MacArthur, in his excellent book titled, Parables, writes:

A parable is not merely a simple analogy. It’s an elongated simile or metaphor with a distinctly spiritual lesson contained in the analogy. Short figures of speech like “as strong as a horse” or “as quick as a rabbit” are plain similes—simples and straightforward enough not to require an explanation. A parable extends the comparison into a longer story or more complex metaphor, and the meaning (always a point of spiritual truth) is not necessarily obvious. Most of Jesus’ parables demanded some kind of explanation. [1]

John MacArthur goes on to writes, “A parable is an ingeniously simple word picture illuminating a profound spiritual lesson.” [2] While some people define a parable as “an earthly story with a heavenly meaning,” it would do us well to go far beyond that simplistic definition of a parable. MacArthur’s definition is helpful on several levels as it points to the illuminating work and the profound spiritual lesson.

Powerful Stories to Illustrate Truth

There is no mistaking the power of a good story. Jesus, as the master-teacher in the history of the world, certainly understood this truth. In a masterful way, Jesus would take a story and use it to illustrate a truth in a powerful manner. Although our Lord did not always speak in parables (most of the Sermon on the Mount is not parable), he used them frequently as devices to illustrate the truths of God to his disciples. What does it mean to illustrate truth?

First, we must understand that Jesus used fictional tales that he made up for the purpose of illustrating truth. These stories were not true, although they certainly followed the storyline of normal everyday life in such a way that connected with normal everyday people. However, we must not forget that Jesus was certainly teaching absolute truth. Parables are not open riddles left to the reader’s flowery imagination to interpret how he or she so desires. The story may be flowery, but only in so far as to illustrate the concrete truth to his followers. Parables added color and life to the concrete truth in such a way that his followers could understand and remember.

We must reject the notion that “a sermon is not a doctrinal lecture. It is an event-in-time, a narrative art form more akin to a play or a novel in shape than to a book. Hence we are not engineering scientists; we are narrative artists by professional function.” [3] Such ideas may sound attractive to the post-truth culture, but for those entrusted with God’s Word, we must rightly handle the Word of truth. The use of stories may help illustrate a truth, but the idea that doctrine and story cannot live under the same roof is a misrepresentation of parabolic literature.

Practical Stories to Reveal Truth

Parables were often practical stories about normal characters in life such as “two sons” or the “sheep and goats.” How more practical could you get than a story about marriage or fishing? Such stories connected with people, but they were not just designed to evoke a feeling in the listeners as much as they were vehicles to deliver truth. As we discussed the ability of Jesus to illustrate truth with such stories, parables were also used to unveil truth that was never before known to his followers.

When Jesus wanted to reveal truth to his followers, he would at times provide such revelation through the use of a parable. One example is the parable of the sower as recorded in Matthew 13. After Jesus told the story of the sower, he was asked, “Why do you speak in parables?” Jesus responded by saying, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given” (Matt. 13:11). In another place, Jesus prayed to the Father and said, “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight” (Matt. 11:25-26).

Polemical Stories to Conceal Truth

Often people view Jesus’ parables as little pithy stories designed to teach and explain spiritual truths. In fact, many believe that Jesus, as the master-teacher, is seeking to put the cookies on the bottom shelf for everyone to understand. However, it may come as a shock to you that Jesus often used parables to conceal truth from people. Rather than seeking to unveil the truth to all, Jesus often spoke with parables in order to conceal truths that were never designed for some people to understand. Why would Jesus want to hide truth from people?

In one sense, Jesus’ parabolic teaching was a judgment upon the wicked. They were not given eyes to see and ears to hear of these grand truths—and so as Jesus preached to his disciples—the God hating, Jesus despising, and highly religious Jews of the day were being judged. Such judgment was evident as Jesus said:

This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says:

“‘“You will indeed hear but never understand,
and you will indeed see but never perceive.”
For this people’s heart has grown dull,
and with their ears they can barely hear,
and their eyes they have closed,
lest they should see with their eyes
and hear with their ears
and understand with their heart
and turn, and I would heal them.’ [4]

The polemical idea of parabolic teaching is that Jesus is calling out the unbelievers and their hard hearts by pronouncing a judgment upon them. Parables may be a blessing to those who have eyes to see and ears to hear, but they are clearly judgment upon those who are seeing but cannot see and having ears are unable to hear and understand the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Last of all, this veiled judgment is a mercy upon the wicked at the same time. For, just as Jesus warned the unrepentant cities of Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum—those who have heard more gospel and seen more of God’s light of truth will be held accountable for it on the day of judgment. In other words, had those people understood the parables of Jesus—they would have been held to a much more strict judgment and the truth would have been a more severe weight of judgment on them in eternity. Therefore, God in his judgment is merciful at the same time. We should praise God for his judgments and his mercy—for in both we see the goodness of God.

Matthew 13:11 — And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.


  1. John MacArthur, Parables, (Nashville: Nelson Books, 2015), xxiv.
  2. Ibid., xxvi.
  3. Eugene L. Lowry, The Homiletical Plot: The Sermon as Narrative (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2001), xx-xxi.
  4. Matthew 13:13-15 (ESV).
A Warning to Hypocrites

A Warning to Hypocrites

Yesterday I had the opportunity to preach Romans 2:1-11 as we continued our series through Romans on the Lord’s Day. The focus of the text was centered on Jewish hypocrites who were more than willing to judge the Gentiles, but were often guilty of engaging in the same exact sins. Paul turned from his focus on Gentiles in chapter 1 to his own people—the Jews in chapter 2. This important shift places the hypocrisy of these Jews front and center, and as we consider the hypocrisy of Paul’s day, we would do well to consider the hypocrisy that often consumes us.

Warning Regarding Hypocrisy

The word hypocrite “ὑποκριτής” means an actor or pretender. It depicts the one warning a mask to conceal the true identity of the actor. All through the Scriptures, we see warnings to such individuals. Jesus provided some sobering warnings in Matthew 6:2, 5, and 16. Here, Paul turns to the religious Jew and warns them that they too were in danger of hell-fire.

The Jews, Paul’s own people, were all in agreement that God was not pleased with the sinful practices described back in chapter 1. God will judge such depraved persons in accordance with their sin. However, in many ways, the Jews were guilty of similar sins, and they often believed that God would overlook them because they are the chosen nation. God chose Israel in order to show His glory among the nations and according to Deuteronomy 7, it wasn’t anything special about Israel that caused God to choose them.

Deuteronomy 7:6–8 – “For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the LORD set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the LORD loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.

The Jews, were known as “the circumcision” which was a sign of their covenant with God. Separated unto God. They looked down upon the Gentiles (non-Jews) as “the uncircumcision.” The Gentiles were looked upon as the savages – rebels – and unholy people. Jews would walk from northern regions to southern regions taking the long road around Samaria in the middle region because they rejected the Samaritans as rebels – half breeds – who had broken their covenant with God. Many Jews would give a funeral service to their son who married a Gentile woman. Jews were not permitted to aid in the birth of a Gentile woman’s child because they were seen as assisting in bringing another Gentile into the world. Often, Jews would shake the dust from their feet after having to travel through Samaria and other places known as Gentile regions in order to show their disapproval for those people.

According to John MacArthur in his sermon on this very text, “For example, they had some interesting sayings.  One of them was, ‘God loves Israel alone of all the nations.’  Another one:  ‘God will judge the Gentiles with one measure and the Jews with another.’  They said this:  ‘Abraham sits beside the gates of hell and does not permit any wicked Israelite to go through.’” Paul writes to these people, in this culture of hypocrisy, in order to warn them of the coming judgment of God that would one day consume the disobedient Gentile as well as the disobedient Jew.

Paul warned them that they were storing up “θησαυρίζω” wrath upon wrath for the day of judgment. Paul speaks of the fury of God’s wrath which is a frightening picture—one that these disillusioned Jews needed in order to shake them out of their state of sin.

Reassurance of God’s Perfect Judgment

While other judges may rule with imperfection, our God rules with precision. Paul stresses that point has he points out that God will judge every person according to their works (Rom. 2:6). Be sure of this, God’s judgment is righteous and pure. There will never be a single soul who accuses God of unrighteous judgment. R.C. Sproul, in his commentary on Romans, writes, “The judgment of God is not simply righteous, but it is according to truth. God makes no mistakes when he hears a case, when he brings us before him on trial.” [1]

As God judges with perfection, we must be reminded that every sin will be judged and every sinner will receive a due penalty. Therefore, we must conclude that hell will not be the same for every damned soul who enters the lake of fire. We see this truth explained by Jesus in Luke 10:13-15 as well. If God judges with perfection and precision, the vile murderer such as Hitler will have his due penalty just the same as the man who lived in a jungle and never once heard the name of Jesus, never murdered a single person, and worshipped a carved image in a tree. Hell will not be the same for both individuals. Just as Martin Luther once reminded us that “the devil is God’s devil,” we must remember too that hell is God’s hell. He owns it and he is sovereignly overseeing it—in every detail.

Just as Paul announced salvation to the Jew first and also to the Greek in Romans 1:16, he too reminds these Jews that God will judge the Jew first and also the Greek. There are no back door deals with God. Our perfect Judge rules with righteousness and purity and there will be no under the table deals made to get a person into heaven. God doesn’t honor the “good ole’ boy” network. God judges without partiality.

Are you a mask-wearing Jesus follower? Are you a hypocrite who needs to be saved? Are you prepared to stand before the King of kings and Lord of lords? One day soon you will—and you will need righteousness that you cannot earn and that you cannot buy. You will need perfection. The only means whereby a guilty sinner can receive such righteousness is through Jesus Christ—the perfect God-man. Any and all who come to him by faith will be saved. Will you trust in his finished work on the cross for your salvation?


  1. R. C. Sproul, The Gospel of God: An Exposition of Romans (Great Britain: Christian Focus Publications, 1994), 47.
Raising Timothy for God’s Glory

Raising Timothy for God’s Glory

Yesterday I preached from 2 Timothy 3:10-17 as we focused on the importance of godly mothers. When we read the New Testament, one name continues to resurface in many different chapters in relation to many different churches in various different contexts. That name is Timothy. Review the record of Timothy’s name in the New Testament:

  • In Romans 16:21, Paul refers to Timothy as his fellow worker.
  • In 2 Corinthians 1:1, Paul refers to Timothy as his brother in the faith and almost as if he is the co-author of the letter.
  • In Philippians 1:1, we see that the church at Philippi received the letter from Paul and Timothy.
  • In Colossians 1:1, we see that the church at Colossae received their letter from Paul the apostle and Timothy—their brother in the faith.
  • In 1 Thessalonians 1:1 and 2 Thessalonians 1:1, the church at Thessalonica received their letters from Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy.
  • The letter to Philemon was sent from Paul and Timothy.
  • Paul sent Timothy to serve the church at Corinth (1 Cor. 4:17).
  • Paul sent Timothy to serve the church at Philippi (Phil. 2:19).
  • Paul sent Timothy to serve the church at Thessalonica (1 Thess 3:2).
  • Perhaps the most difficult of assignments was when Timothy served as the pastor of the church at Ephesus (Eph. 1:3).

So, how did this young man become the traveling companion and assistant to history’s most influential church planter and missionary? Was it that Paul merely chose one young man randomly from Lystra to accompany him or was it based on what he saw and heard regarding Timothy’s life? It seems clear that it was based on the latter rather than the former. How was Timothy raised and prepared for such a role? Be sure of this one thing—it was not by accident.

Faithful Examples

In Acts 14, we see Paul and Barnabas traveling through Galatia where they led Eunice and Lois to Christ. These women became faithful followers of Jesus who in turn began the process of discipling Timothy in the faith. They labored in the sacred writings of the Old Testament—building Timothy up in the faith. However, they lived out their faith in the presence of Timothy. Their faith was not merely a Sunday morning faith, it was consistent and had the aroma of genuineness in the presence of a young and impressionable boy.

Paul mentions Eunice and Lois and commends them for their faith in his final letter on record before his martyrdom. In 2 Timothy 1:5, writing to encourage Timothy in the faith, he reminds him of his mother and grandmother by writing, “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.” Timothy had a faithful example in Paul—who was like a father in the faith to him. Timothy’s own father was an unbelieving Greek, so Eunice raised him in the faith without the help of her husband, although she certainly had the assistance of Lois. Timothy’s faith was birthed on the firm foundation of the gospel in the presence of his mother and grandmother who were unwavering in the faith—persevering to the end just like Paul.

Faithful Discipleship

2 Timothy 3:14-15 – But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it  and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

Not only did Eunice and Lois live out their faith in the presence of young Timothy—they also taught him the Word of God. Interestingly enough, Paul is often criticized in modern times regarding his firm complementarian position for leadership in the home and in the church, although it’s rooted in God’s creation and remains God’s plan for our present day. Paul was a bit of a radical for his day as he championed the idea that women need to be learners—able to learn and teach the Word of God to the younger generation (both boys and girls). We see this developed in Titus 2.

Consider the fact that Eunice and Lois discipled Timothy in the sacred writings (Old Testament). They would read a passage, if they had access to any scroll, or quote it by memory to him. They wouldn’t merely teach moralism or moralistic tales to the young boy—instead they would point to Abraham and then connect the dots through his covenant promise to Jesus Christ. They would teach about Noah, but they wouldn’t just talk about animals in the boat—they would deal with the pitch, the wrath of God, and the redemption that comes in Jesus Christ. They would tell Timothy about Moses leading the people out of Egypt, but they would point to a greater Moses who would come to save his people from their sins. They would teach about Joshua and the Promised Land while pointing to a greater rest in Jesus. They would teach about King David and then point to a greater King who would rule with righteousness and justice. They would teach about Isaiah’s prophecy while pointing to Jesus as the Lamb of God who takes away our sin as he was crushed by the Father.

Consider the fact that far too many young people hear moralisms from the Bible only to go off to the university and have their faith tried by fire. If our young people are unprepared—their superficial moralistic faith will be scorched. We must labor to teach the true gospel—just as Eunice and Lois did as they raised Timothy for the glory of God. Andreas Kostenberger once said, “Motherhood is not disparaged in biblical teaching; contrary to many in modern society, it is held up as the woman’s highest calling and privilege.” Be encouraged mother, God is using you.

God chose Timothy before the foundation of the world by his electing love and sovereign grace in Jesus. However, he also planned to give him Eunice and Lois to disciple him in the faith before he went out with the apostle Paul on mission. Praise God for faithful mothers.