by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 6 Paragraph # 4 Study # 1 Lincolnton, NC April 16, 2006
13 I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession;
14 That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ:
1901 ASV Translation:
13 I charge thee in the sight of God, who giveth life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed the good confession;
14 that thou keep the commandment, without spot, without reproach, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ:
I. Paul's Charge to Timothy.
A. The "setting" of the charge.
1. It is given "in the sight of The God".
a. The word translated "in the sight of" is an often used word that indicates a position in the front of, or face of, another. It creates the image of the "other" being clearly aware of that which is in "front" of him.
b. The characteristic of The God is that He is responsible for making all "live". He is, as this phrase points out, the Living God Who communicates that Life to all who have it.
c. This is a particularly significant characterization in light of the immediately preceding context in which "eternal life" is to be grasped tightly as the seductions of material wealth swirl around the tempted and the exhortations to "pursue" and "fight" are given. There is no "Life" except from the Living God and there are no intermediate agents. God does use intermediate agents for many of the details of His accomplishments, but, when it is all said and done, He alone imparts and sustains Life.
2. It is given "in the sight of Christ Jesus".
a. The characteristic of Christ Jesus focuses upon His "giving witness" to a "good confession" upon Pontius Pilate. The picture of the preposition translated "before" is distinctly different from the preposition translated "in the sight of". This one gives the impression of placing something "upon" another. In other words, "in the sight of" gives the impression that another is watching, but "upon" gives the impression that another is becoming responsible for what he sees/hears. Whereas the Life-giving God is a witness to Paul's charge to Timothy, Pilate became distinctly responsible to God by reason of the witness that was given to him by Jesus.
b. The question is: Why did Paul decide to pull up "Pontius Pilate" at this point? Is there an oblique reference to the fact that Timothy's tasks might bring him before political authorities as did Jesus'? Or was there some other significance to the reference to Pilate? Did Paul have a specific "confession" in mind that Jesus made to Pilate?
1) Clearly, Jesus gave "good confessions" on multitudes of occasions. However, the one that was given to Pilate was in the context of His impending crucifixion. In that setting, Pilate claimed to have the power of "life" and "death" and Jesus absolutely rejected that claim (John 19:10-11).
2) The only "witness" that is claimed by the Scripture to have been "given" to Pilate is recorded in John 18:37 at the point of Pilate's question "Art Thou a king?". It is the very same issue that Paul raises here: "...the only Potentate, the King of kings, and the Lord of lords..." Interestingly, John shows that Pilate's behavior forced the final apostasy upon the Jews: "We have no king but Caesar" (John 19:15).
3) It seems apparent Paul is seeking to get Timothy to make a forceful, life-long, commitment to be faithful to the "charge" to "flee...pursue...fight". But, coming at the end of the epistle, it may well be that Paul had the entire epistle in mind when he penned "I give thee charge...keep this commandment..." If that is the case, it should cause us all to tremble to see how far from the instruction the visible "church" has strayed.