P.S. I love you.
It’s been 58 years since Paul McCartney wrote that song for The Beatles to record as one of their earliest hits. The idea behind the song was simple: the contents of the letter would be forgotten long before the heart-hitting postscript that was added, not as an after-thought, but as the bottom-line.
We’ve been looking at the other Paul – not Paul the Beatle, but Paul the Apostle – and his inclination to add his version of a postscript to his epistles. Written to individuals or spiritual gatherings who were the targets of his affections, these letters were loaded with essential insights that would make the belief and practice of the Christian faith more understandable and engaging.
Timothy was Paul’s virtual firstborn – not a son-of-the-flesh, but son-of-the-faith – whose emerging leadership in the church was a matter of focus and pride for Paul. He spoke about him with genuine affection: “For this reason, I have sent you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus…” (1 Corinthians 4:17). Paul was clearly intent on seeing Timothy’s progress as a respected leader continue.
Point in time: Paul spent over two years in Ephesus, remembered as the city of greatest economic and commercial prominence in the Roman Empire. The church there was exercising influence, and Timothy had been left there to lead that faith community.
Paul’s letters to Timothy were both personal and professional in tone; in the first, his challenge was unmistakable: “Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care. Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, which some have professed and in so doing have departed from the faith” (1 Timothy 6:20-21).
That’s a PS from Paul that could be memorized and recited, over and over again. Spoken like a father to a son, or a coach to a quarterback, it didn’t erase the important teachings in the prior six chapters… but it put an exclamation point behind the body of truth that had been packed in the missive.
“Guard what has been entrusted to your care.” Like a watchman with the charge to protect the treasure that would be targeted by thieves anxious to separate great riches from their rightful owner, Timothy had a trust that was among his highest lifetime responsibilities. What was it he was to secure?
First and foremost: the Word of God was his priceless charter. The empty rhetoric of “godless chatter” would be evidence of counterfeit claimants hoping to distract people from the essential truth found in the inspired and infallible Scriptures. “Opposing ideas” would emanate from people whose education was a masquerade used in an attempt to portray their contrary positions as accurate representations of God’s timeless truth.
During Jesus’ ministry, his most avowed critics and opponents were the Bible scholars who had risen to prominence in Israel. These Jewish leaders had academic credentials that they claimed gave them overriding authority, but Jesus confronted that confusion with boldness: “And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent. You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life” (John 5:37-40).
Paul’s postscript to Timothy remains an important reminder to us, today: Avoid the educated fools. If one rejects the existence of the Supernatural – and the inspiration of the Scriptures that give us the reliable truth upon which we build and live our faith – their PhD is of no consequence.
The high-ground of divine truth – delivered in the Scriptures – is a hill we will die defending. Sola Scriptura is the flag we’ve planted; care to gear-up and link arms with me there?