everyone ought to be a scribe

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith…”Hebrews 12:2 (NIV84)

I love the imagery in this scripture: Jesus as the author of our faith.

In ancient times, scribes were important. Their job was to listen to the author and record their words. The letter belonged to the author, but it was the scribe who did the work. Not everyone could write, so the scribe fulfilled an important role. Even though Paul could write, he still used a scribe!

We have a similar role in our modern world: In every courtroom, court reporters listen to everything that is said and record it.

Ultimately, it’s the job of the scribe (ancient or modern) to magnify the message of the author. It’s recorded so other people can read and hear it even though the author isn’t present.

When it comes to our life, we ought to be more like scribes rather than authors. Our calling is to follow God’s design for our lives. We are to listen for his voice and transmit his Word to the world through our attitudes and actions.

This picture undermines our selfish nature. It’s humbling to be a scribe. We want to be in control. We want to be the one who is in charge, making all the decisions and choosing that’s best for us.

Essentially, this imagery is one of obedience. We are allowing Jesus to be the author of our lives?

Bible Study Guide: 1 Timothy Chapter 2

#1. Read 1 Timothy chapter 2, make a note of anything that is confusing, convicting or encouraging for you personally.

#2. Paul uses four different words to describe prayer: petitions, prayers, intercession, and thanksgiving. Why, what point is he making?

#3. How many times is the word ALL used? What is Paul’s point?

#4 What does it look like for you personally to pray for “all people,” “kings,” and “those in authority?”

#5. According to this passage, what does God want? How does understanding God’s will make an impact in the way we make decisions and relate to others?

#6. How does this passage define the Gospel? What themes or teachings are emphasized? Why is there a need for a mediator between God and people? In what way was Jesus a ransom?

#7. Why do you think Paul sets up anger and disputes as opposite of prayer and holiness?

#8. Do you think Paul’s point about modesty applies to only women? Is it ok for men to be immodest and indecent?

#9. Why do you think Paul specifically addresses some instruction to men, and others to men?

#10. What is this passage teaching about women? How does this make you feel? What is your first response when you encounter something you don’t understand or agree with? How do you think God wants us to respond?


In verse 1, Paul’s point is to encourage us to pray all kinds of prayers. He is not creating a carefully prescribed of different kinds of prayers. The definitions and nuances of each word is overlaps with the others:

>petitions: to ask or seek, to say please, carries a sense of urgency
>prayers: to speak or make requests of God
>intercession: to speak to someone on behalf of someone else, that is, praying for others. This word only occurs once in the NT!
>thanksgiving: expression of gratitude

(See also Philippians 4:6)


The teaching about women in this passage can be difficult to understand and easy to reject. It’s best to admit the discomfort and have the courage to move towards understanding. Wouldn’t it be great if God always told us what we wanted to hear!

Resist the tendency to reject a perspective just because we don’t agree with it. The Bible is not simply a perspective, it is the Perspective because it its God’s Word.

A life of faith calls us to look to God’s Word as our standard with more authority than our feelings, experience, or culture. Faith will lead to greater wisdom when we accept that assumptions are the enemy of understanding.

Understanding what a passage in the Bible means for our life means we first understand what it meant for the lives of the original readers.

All communication requires context! What does “lead sinks” mean? Am I talking about sinks that are not porcelain but are made out of lead? Or am I talking about the obvious fact that lead is heavier than water and will not float?

Paul’s letters were occasional, meaning they were written to a specific situation. Historical context looks at what was happening in the lives of the original readers/hearers. We must also look at the greater contexts of this book, Paul’s writings, and the rest of scripture.

Now that we’ve covered some elementary principles for reading and understanding scripture, let’s talk specifically about 1 Timothy chapter 2:9-15.
Paul gives several commands about worship: women are to (1) dress modestly, (2) learn in quietness and submission, (3) not to teach or have authority about men. Modest dress is easy to understand and accept. Worship is about turning our attention to God, and distractions ought to be removed. No one would show up to church in a bathing suit! The second commands are more difficult to interpret and apply.
The Teacher-Student Dynamic
Two thousand years ago, in this part of the world, it was acceptable for students to interrupt teachers with questions, as long as these questions displayed an understanding of the topic. In these times, women were typically less educated than men. Perhaps, in this congregation, the women were interrupting too much. Paul supported their instruction (which some believe was counter-cultural), but taught against disruption.
Building a Stronger Community
It’s obvious that Timothy’s community needed to be strengthened. People were not praying for governmental authorities–hinting perhaps to a rebellion against the rulers. Apparently, men were angry and fighting, and women were dressing provocatively. Obviously this does not mean that women could fight and men could be immodest! Was it ok for men to learn without being quiet and submissive? Of course not.
No Such Thing As Second Class
We know that Paul isn’t saying that women are “second class” citizens in God’s kingdom: “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28 This was a radical, counter-cultural teaching.
Radical, but Never too Radical
Imagine if God spoke to you, in this very moment, and he told you everything that that was sinful about your life? We’d crumble. Instead, God takes us on a journey, telling us a little before he tells us a lot.

Romans 14 and 15 urges mature believers to give up freedoms so as to not offend other believers. One example was eating certain foods. All foods are clean, but if some people have not yet accepted this truth, there is no need for the mature to offend them with their freedom.

It may be, that in ancient times, having a woman as a teacher was simply too much of an obstacle for the congregation. In the language of our day: you’ve got to pick your battles.

In today’s culture, we are more open to equality between men and women. (Although we are still no where close to Paul’s Kingdom ideal in Galatians 3:28.)

Was Paul speaking to a specific cultural issue, or was he giving us an eternal principle to live by? Why then, would the Holy Spirit give some women incredible gifts of teaching? Do men have nothing to learn from such Spirit-filled teachers?

Additionally, “authority over a man” can also be interpreted as “authority over her husband.” This would make sense with the reference to Adam and Eve, however this would seem to contradict Rom 7:2–3; Eph 5:22–23; and Col 3:18–19.

It is impossible for women to NEVER have ANY spiritual authority over ANY men. Some biblical examples include:

Paul ranks prophets second to apostles (1 Corinthians 12:28) and clearly recognizes female apostles (1 Corinthians 11:5)
Deborah was a prophet and judge (Judges 4:4)
Pricilla and Aquila (Acts 18:26)
Phoebe (Romans 16:1-2)
In Romans 16:3-16, Paul lists and commends twice as many women as he does men.
Junia is called an apostle (Romans 16:7), and many believe this was a female name.

Understanding “Full Submission”
This phrase, in the original language and culture, “which suggests not simply an attitude, but a structural placement of one person below another (Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Roman Antiquities 3.66.3; 2 Cor 9:13; Gal 2:5). The same demand will be made of the children of a household in 1 Tim 3:4 (compare Tit 2:5, 9; 3:1).”**
A Few Final Thoughts
We can’t ignore this passage, and pretend it doesn’t exist! We must remember the core teaching of the Kingdom is about the Gospel of Jesus, and in this, the particulars of worship are secondary. Additionally, Paul does base this on his authority, look at the number of times he says “I”. Throughout the history of the church, many injustices have been rationalized because of this passage–and this can’t continue or be repeated.

Finally, there can be no doubt: this is a tough passage to understand in it’s own context and apply it to ours! It is important to remember the overarching, all inclusive theme of this passage: everyone, men and women, are to worship God with lives that are peaceful and quiet.

**Johnson, L. T. (2008). The first and second letters to Timothy: a new translation with introduction and commentary (Vol. 35A, p. 201). New Haven; London: Yale University Press.


On Responsibility, my conversation with Max

Max, my oldest son, turned 13 yesterday, on September 11. We took a short walk so we could have what I hoped would be a significant conversation.

“What does it mean to grow up, to become a man?” He answered quickly, I was surprised: “It means I am responsible, responsible for myself.”

“EXCELLENT! What is that responsibility? What does that mean that you are responsible for yourself?”

Again, a quick answer: “For school stuff, being on time, listening to the teacher, turning my homework in, doing my studies…”

I then went down a useless trail, and wasted a question by causing distraction: “Where did you learn that?”

“I don’t know, I’ve always known that.” I resisted the urge to explain or explore the non-sense-ness of that.

Back on track: “WONDERFUL. These are common responsibilities, everyone in your school is responsible for these things. Is there anything you are responsible for that others are not? Something different than the people at your school?”

Slightly slower response: “I am responsible to know the plays for football, and to play my position well.”

“VERY GOOD.” Now to explore where a responsibility comes from: “Why are you responsible to know the football stuff? Why you and not others?”

Fast: “I love football and choose to play.”

“PERFECT. That’s right, you choose to play football and that carries with it a responsibility.”

Then I went too far, too abstract. Some questions ought to be answered with silence, but not at this point. “What makes a person responsible, what gives them the capacity to choose?” Silence. Another wasted question that led to a dead end.

Time to take a different route. A few days ago, Morgan, his younger brother, cut himself while using a knife. I ask, “If you cut yourself with a knife and Morgan cuts himself, who is more responsible?”

“I am.”

“Yes, but why?”

“Because I’m smarter, I should know better than he does.”

“YES! Your ability to think, your experience and your age make you more responsible.”

Now, to show the progression into increasing responsibility, and the threshold of being responsible: “Compare different levels of responsibility. Let’s say the difference between you and Morgan is 10. He is a 1, and you are a 10. When it comes to cutting food with a knife, what is the difference between you and me? If I cut myself and you cut yourself, what would the difference be?”

Instant: “I’d be a 7, you’d be a 10.”

“I wouldn’t be a 20? or at least a 14? Am I not twice as responsible as you?”

“No. Because it’s cutting with a knife…” Followed with a smile that said, any idiot knows about knives…

“Correct, cutting with a knife is a simple thing, and you and I are both equally responsible… or nearly so. Only children don’t know about knives. All adults know to be careful with a knife. Of course, I am more responsible in other things, big things, like being a husband, raising a family, and having a job. You aren’t responsible for these things. But you are responsible for the simple things.

“There is another simple thing you are responsible for: choosing how to respond to God’s love. This is a simple thing that you are now responsible for. God loves you no matter what you say or do or choose. But, if you choose to love him back, you take on a new responsibility: to know him better.”

“You can choose to be on his team, and that means learning his playbook–the Bible. I can’t make you love God’s Word, but I can tell you that you are ready. That you have the capacity to bear the responsibility to love God back.”

“Now the Bible is not like the playbook for football. Your success in football, your value to the team and to the coach, is dependent on how well you know the plays and preform on the field. God’s love for you, your value, is not dependent on knowing the Bible and following it.”

“His love is unconditional. Perfect. Unending. It is always there no mater how responsible you choose to be. In this, the Bible is more like a love letter, written to draw you closer to him.”

“Your responsibility is to love God back. That is, if this is the choice you want to make.” A pause.

“Make sense?”


“Got it?”


“Tell me what this all means to you…what are you taking away from our conversation?”

Silence. The good kind. “It’s hard to put into words.”

“That’s OK. There will come a time when everything you learn–while you are learning it, you will also think about how to explain it to others. But for now, you are not responsible in this way. It will come later.”

I gave him a Bible and the One Minute Bible and we talked about what it could look like for him to read it regularly.


I guess I could have made the conversation a whole lot shorter by handing him the Bible and saying, “read this.”





Bible Study Guide: 1 Timothy Chapter 1

Background Information

Acts 19: Paul in Ephesus

EPHESUS efʹə-səs [Gk. Ephesos—‘desirable’]. An important seaport city of the Roman province of Asia. In the NT it is mentioned in Acts 18:19–28; 19:1, 17–20; 20:16f.; 1 Cor. 15:32; 16:8; 1 Tim. 1:3; 2 Tim. 1:18; 4:12; Rev. 1:11; 2:1. (Ephesus. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Revised.)

Read 1 Timothy chapter 1.

How does Paul describe:
(a) His role/calling?
(b) God and Jesus?
(c) Timothy?

What was Timothy’s mission in Ephesus?

What’s more important, the command, or it’s goal? Why or why not? What is the connection between the command and the goal?

How can a person be sure to develop the kind of love that comes from a pure heart, good conscience, and sincere faith?

In your opinion, does Paul sound arrogant when he says that the gospel has been entrusted to him? Does this set him up as better than others? Why or why not? How do verses 12-17 impact the answer to this question?

Based on this passage, 1:3-11, what does it mean to use the law properly?

How was Paul trustworthy, when it was God’s grace that was “poured out” on him–grace that included Paul having faith and love? What clues from the text support your answer?

The lynch pin of this chapter is found in verse 15: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” For you personally, how is the “trustworthy saying” in significant?

Check 1 Timothy 4:14 for “prophecies once made about” Timothy. It’s clear that others spoke into Timothy’s life, affirming God’s calling in his life. Based on this passage, why would it be important for Timothy to recall them?

Has anyone ever spoken into your life like this? What did they say? What was it like?

Based on all the teachings in this passage, how can a person avoid shipwrecking their faith?

What do you think Paul means when he said that he handed them (Hymenaeus and Alexander) to Satan? Does this mean it’s ok to give up on people? Why or why not?

From With The Word, a devotional by Warren W. Wiersbe:

The work in Ephesus was not easy, and Timothy wanted a new assignment; but Paul urged him to stay where he was and get the job done (1:3). The next time you want to abandon your assigned place, consider the arguments Paul gave Timothy for staying where he was.

For the work’s sake (1–11). What Paul warned the Ephesian elders about had come true:false teachers were in the church (Acts 20:28–30). The pastor’s job is to warn them and teach the people the truth. If he abandoned the flock, Timothy would be a hireling and not a shepherd (John 10:12–13).

For the Lord’s sake (12–17). Jesus died to save sinners, and He lives to equip and enable His servants to do the work of the ministry. The same God who empowered Paul could empower Timothy—and can empower us today. God is faithful!

For our own sake (18–20). God had equipped Timothy, called him, and given him a solemn charge. There was a battle to fight, and he dare not run away. If we flee the post of duty, we rob ourselves of opportunities to grow, to serve, and to glorify God.

When the winds of adversity blow, set your sails in the right direction, and let Christ handle the rudder. Otherwise, you may be shipwrecked.

Responsibility — Someone defined responsibility as “our response to God’s ability.”

Finding wisdom, gaining understanding

Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding. (Proverbs 3:13)

I have five kids and I love being a dad. My biggest responsibility, as I understand it, is that they would discover God’s perfect design for their lives. A big part of their individual design means growing in wisdom and understanding.

I’m not interested in impressing on them a long litany list of what NOT to think or do or say. We don’t respond well to legalism, it overwhelms us with a deeply rooted sense of guilt and undermines our confidence.

Instead, I want my kids to learn how to think, both critically and compassionately.

I devised a simple exercise that to help them gain deeper understanding. I used a six sided dice as a visual reminder. Here are six ways to understand a thing:

The best place to begins with identifying a short and simple description of whatever it is that we are trying to understand. The friend of foolishness is assumption, so it’s best to begin with a basic definition. Based on common sense and common experience, how would you describe the object you are seeking to understand?

Here are a couple of examples that we’ll return to for the length of this article.

  • coffee cup: an object for holding a drink and keeping it warm
  • hope: expecting something good to happen in the future

Look to the right and consider what is LIKE the object of our understanding. How does it compare to other truths, teachings, and things?

  • coffee cup: It’s like glass, in that it holds a drink. It is like a status symbol, because it’s made from expensive materials and boasts a coveted logo. It is somewhat like an oven, in that heat is involved.
  • hope: It’s like faith, because it’s trusting in something unseen. It is like joy, because positive feelings are involved.

Look to the left and consider how this object is UNLIKE other truths, teachings, or things.

  • coffee cup: It’s not like a plate, because it’s poor for holding food.
  • hope: It’s not like fear, which has a negative expectation for the future. (Although it is LIKE fear, in that it is future focused…). Hope is not like certainty, proven facts. The sun is shining now: truth. The sun will shine tomorrow, hope.

Look beneath the object and discover it’s roots, foundations, assumptions, and causes. A stream can rise no higher than it’s source. What was the origin of your object? What is it dependent upon? What roads lead to the thing you are trying to understand?

  • coffee cup: People like to drink coffee (I like coffee!!) so there is a need to make it portable.
  • hope: It is always grounded in an object, we hope to gain approval of a person, hope to win it big in Los Vegas. Hope comes from dark and difficult times, at least, it shines brighter. Hope comes from the fulfillment of past promises, I can trust the future because of a proven past.

Look above the object and see what comes next. Where does the new road lead? What ripples will it make and what kind of impact will be felt.

  • coffee cup: It’ A coffee cup is the potential for enjoying a favored beverage…or bringing one to a friend who might also enjoy a coffee. If it’s a sentimental mug, it can lead to warm memories and even thankfulness of good things past.
  • hope: Each and every action a person takes comes from hope, it is impossible to do anything without some kind of agenda. We get up and greet the day with a set of hopes, we go to bed at night with another set of hopes. I hope for acceptance, so I’ll put on a fake smile. I hope for advancement, so I’ll work really hard. Hope is paramount among the attributes of the heart, because from hope, all our actions spring.

Humble yourself and realize that all of your looking will never let you see the whole picture. We all have blind spots and limited understanding. To truly understand a thing, we must be ready to learn from others, and more importantly, learn from God.

  • coffee cup, hope: you tell me, what am I not seeing on my own?


Seeking Greater Understanding

What is it?
What is it like?
What is it not like?
Where did it come from?
Where will it lead?
Who can help you see past your blind spots?

What Does It Mean To Disciple Others?

A short time ago, I had a conversation with a small group leader who wanted to be better at discipling her group. I love the heart behind this! It’s a great thing when a leader wants to improve their skills. When I served at Saddleback Church, I heard Rick Warren say a million times: leaders are learners, as soon as you stop learning, you stop leading.

I was ready for a specific question, something like, “What’s the best way to teach a Bible passage?” I was surprised when she said, “What does it mean to disciple others?” After our conversation, I took a few minutes to sketch out the main ideas of our conversation:

1. Have a clear vision for what it means to be a MATURE CHRISTIAN

God can do anything through anyone, he’s not limited to our efforts. However, this doesn’t let us off the hook for being intentional and having a clear picture of spiritual maturity. God has a plan for every one of us, it’s our responsibility to say, “not my will, but yours.” This is true for us personally, and it’s true for how we lead others. It’s not possible to begin without an end in mind. Your picture ought to be as biblical as possible, do your best to curb your personal bias. The great thing is that God is still God: not only will he work THROUGH our plans, he’ll also work IN SPITE of them. To develop your picture of spiritual maturity, ask yourself, “What does it mean to love God?”

2. Understand your personal convictions, passions, and gifting.

You are an original masterpiece! God cas gifted, called, and strengthened you for ministry. How is your faith unique?

:: How do you personally grow?
:: What do you love most about being a Christian?
:: How are you passionate about making a difference in the world?
:: How do you handle temptation?
:: What does your connection with the Church look like?

To disciple others, it’s essential to look deep within to gain a wide understanding and personal insight. You can’t clone your spirituality to another person. If you are unaware of the particularities of your faith’s expression, your discipleship efforts with be little more than failed attempts to carbon copy yourself.

3. Teach from the overflow of what God is doing in your life.

Your daily spiritual journey ought to influence your discipleship. If you are going to teach a Bible study, don’t rely ONLY on the curriculum. Make the effort to encounter God’s Word first for your own life. You don’t have to be Billy Graham to disciple others, but you have to be authentic, teaching from the overflow of that God is doing in your life.

4. Constantly pray and pursue discernment for each of the people you are ministering to.

Discipleship requires discernement, and we can only receive this from God. Pray continually for the people in your care. Lift up their needs before God and beg for the wisdom to help them take their next step.

5. Develop your own personal convictions about discipleship.

Scripture is the foundation for everything we teach the people we are discipling. I think it’s a good idea to identify a few passages that influence you the most. The point is to have a few passages, so you can regularly meditate on them to hear God’s voice. These passages may change over time, that’s ok. Here are a few verses that are CORE to my thoughts about discipling others:

“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Phil 1:21)

“My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you” (Gal. 4:19)

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)

“Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.” (1 Thess 2:8)

“Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, “Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, “Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it. See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction.” (Deut 30:11-15)