1 Timothy 2:1-15   


            As I was thinking and praying before writing down this sermon, I noticed something in the text that was impacting my soul. I know that there is a lot in this text that is impact-full. Yet, this one thing caught my attention more than all else. There is this one line that is parenthetical actually in which Paul states “I am telling you the truth, I do not lie.”

            Why would Paul include this line in his personal letter to Timothy? Why would I ever say something like that to someone? Why would anyone? It struck me that there must have been some broken trust between young Timothy and his adoptive father in the faith. I could imagine that in the letter to Paul that Timothy wrote that proceeded this response, Timothy might  have said something like: “Oh Paul, I simply do not know whom to believe anymore!”

            I apologize if I am reading too much into this text, but Paul actually mentions the word “truth” how many times in this short piece? Three times, right? Do you see that?

            Last week we heard that two men in the church in Ephesus were causing problems by teaching an immoral doctrine in the church that countered Timothy’s and Paul’s teachings. It makes me wonder if Hymanaeus and Alexander were in fact out there simply lying to the people of Ephesus. That perhaps the early church was hearing one set of lies from them and the truth from Timothy and Paul and that there were getting frustrated. Timothy himself must have been getting frustrated. How can this be?

            In my own house growing up I felt this frustration actually! I struggled so much with what was the real truth of our own family. I have mentioned before to you all that my father was abusive. He would hit my mother, hit us  kids, then the next morning he would pack us all into the car to go off to church where he was the head trustee and very well respected. I think in the opinion of the church, we must have seemed to be the perfect family. That just was not the truth.

            I remember my father when we were growing up complaining every time that there was a power failure that “even in Germany during the War the lights never went out.” I grew up believing that which my father told me. It was not until I was in high school in Germany and I asked my uncle about this idea that the power would never go off in Hitler’s Germany did I learn that “of course the power never went off—that is because it never came on!”

            My dear father, may he rest in peace, made growing up during WWII in Germany sound like paradise. He loved being a Hitler Youth, marching around in his little brown uniform, collecting metal door to door. After he passed, we opened up an old chest that was in the garage to find drawings that my father drew as a child: He loved to draw airplanes dropping bombs on England. This was his alternate reality. I do not blame him. If I had been a child growing up in Nazi Germany, I might have seen things in this way too.

            My father would say things at the dinner table such as “We need to drop a nuclear bomb on the San Fernando Valley to get rid of all the Jews out there.” He stood up and sang Hilter’s version of “Deutschland, Deutschland, Ueber Alles” when I brought my Jewish friend over to have dinner with us. Normally we would have prayed to God.


            As a young man, searching for truth, I learned that I had heard a supreme amount of lies during my growing up years. The relationship between my father and me became estranged as he would make some socially awkward statement, and I would respond with “Dad, that is not true.” My mother once told me that my dad kind of feared talking to me. That statement blew me away. But of course, nobody likes their personal truths being challenged. So, we keep quiet in fear rather than truly try to come to a broader godly truth that would be most acceptable in God’s sight.

            I cannot say that my father consciously lied to me. He grew up in a different time and place. His truths were not my truths. And, I must admit that I cannot imagine that it went well for my father when before the throne of Jesus he had to explain his views on the Holocaust. You see, there is the greater godly truth that we will all have to face one day. Maybe we should try to see things more as God would see them. Wiping out God’s chosen race is probably not a good thing.

            Verse 3-4 of the scripture: “In the sight of God our Savior, who desires everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth.” That seems rather clear.


            Paul also mentions that we should pray for Kings. I will translate that as “secular leadership.” I wholeheartedly agree with that. For the last fifteen years in this church I have closed our time of open prayers with: “We pray for our local and national leadership.” Through three mayors, and now three Presidents, that has not changed. We pray for our leaders. That is what God wants us to do!

            A few years back someone in the church stopped me before worship and asked me why we were not praying for President Trump. My response was that “We have always prayed for our national leaders and will continue to do so!” That is simply a biblical mandate. Again, that seems rather clear and needs no further discussion.

            And about putting a picture of the President up in the sanctuary of the church as some congregations have chosen to do, the Bible does not say to idolize secular power. We have pictures of the Whitneys and Ruggles, the original missionaries as well as Revs. Lyle Baird and Ken Smith, who were beloved saints to this congregation. I have no problem with the veneration of saints of Christ—just don’t ask me to break the commandment against idolatry by posting a picture of a politician. Again, that should be real clear. I pray that our secular leaders won’t be idolized!


            Paul also goes on to talk about the role of women in the church. Now, the whole story about my father and the way he saw the world applies here, too. It was a different world back then. Women were considered more or less to be property to be bought and sold. Please no one be offended by this historical fact. Women were therefore not allowed to be educated. So, Paul is saying something amazingly liberating for his time when he says “Let the women learn.” Think about the movie Yentl in which Barbara Streisand has to dress like a boy in order to learn Talmud. Women were not supposed to learn in the Jewish culture. In that culture of the time, women were believed to be blessed not in learning but rather in the godly miracle of childbirth. To the culture, there was nothing more godly and miraculous than to create new life—just as God was able to do in Eden. You have to let the men do SOMETHING, like be a rabbi, because men aren’t really good for anything else in terms of godliness.

            Now it is clear that already in Ephesus  there were women who were not only learning, but they were teaching as well. Paul saw a danger in that the society in general was not ready to accept that much reform so quickly.

            We know that Timothy himself received his Christian training originally from his mother and grandmother. Timothy was taught by women. But, now Paul is stating something quite practical to the early church. For, if women become the formal teachers, then the Romans will come and martyr them in the arenas. And, indeed, many early martyrs were women. So, if all the Christian women are gone, what will happen to the faith? Where does the next generation of Christianity come from? Paul is in essence saying, “We need our women for the survival of our faith after this martyred generation.” Let them learn. Let them be the vessels of knowledge if all the men are destroyed. In this way, they will raise up the next generation of Christians. What Paul is trying to stress to Timothy is a survival plan for the faith. Keep the women safe, and the faith will be safe too.

            Maybe Paul was a bit of a misogynist. Again, he had to explain all that to Jesus on the throne in his time of justification. But, just trying to see things maybe as Jesus would, and truth be told, Paul is actually forward-thinking for his day. Context matters.   Truth matters. So I want to echo those words of Paul to Timothy, “I tell you the truth, I do not lie.” May we all speak as such in Christ’s name.