One final time, St. Paul is stirred up to remind Timothy of the most important things he has just told him. It is like the final resolution in an extended symphony because Paul skillfully draws together the themes he has recorded for Timothy in the preceding 5 chapters.
There is one meta-theme or meta-narrative that unites all of Paul’s other themes, and it is this: that God is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords. It is, ultimately, Paul’s vision of God Almighty that compels him to warn Timothy so frequently and so fervently. And it is our vision of God that will direct our hearts and hands.
In fact, your vision of God and your sense of His sacramental presence in your life will determine how you choose to serve Him.
Whatever vision of God Paul has been having, I’ll have the same!
Paul’s vision of God (remembering that St. Paul was privileged to have extraordinary revelations of God) is, at heart, a vision of God all-glorious sitting on the throne ruling the heavens and the earth. Paul’s vision begins with an understanding that God is the blessed and only Potentate. A potentate is just what it sounds like: someone who is potent or powerful. But God is Almighty God, who is the only true Potentate, the only one with absolute power. We’d better understand the power of God, or else we will understand nothing else.
This God is the one who created everything out of nothing. He is the one who commands a billion billion suns to explode thermonuclearly, but with precise control. He is the One who holds all things together, and He is the inventor and perpetuator of all of the forces of physics and chemistry that hold matter together. He is the source of men’s souls and the sculptor of their bodies.
He alone is the King of kings and Lord of lords, before whom the greatest of human rulers is less than a baby and smaller than a flea. He causes the nations to rise and fall, and one of His days is an eon for humanity.
It is He alone who is the blessed Potentate because there is no other source of blessing, and there is no other person we should bless in the same way.
He alone is God.
He alone has immortality, and He existed before there was even a creation by which to measure time. He is without beginning or end, and nothing can diminish His power or His glory.
He is a shining, burning sun that will burn out your retinas, His light is much greater than a universe of lasers, and no man can dwell in the fullness of His light. He is the light that made Moses’ face shine so brightly that Moses had to veil His face, when Moses had turned His back and seen only a penumbra of God’s goodness and glory.
He is so glorious, so holy, so Him, that no man has truly seen Him or can see Him in His fullness. He is the glory so great that it drove the holy priests out of the tabernacle in Exodus, and He is the burning face of Christ in Revelation.
He is a holy, cleansing fire that caused holy Isaiah to cry out in the pain of sin and smallness: “Woe is me! I am undone!!”
In light of the fact that this God, this Lord Jesus Christ, will appear before all men, St. Paul reminds Timothy and us of how he should live and teach.
Because God is who He is, and because the Lord Jesus Christ will appear before you one day, “lay hold on eternal life, to which you were called” (verse 12.) This God has called each of you to be a disciple of Jesus Christ who lives in a holy fear. In sight of this holy and fiery God, lay hold of the salvation that has been purchased for you by leading a holy life.
Because God is who He is, and because the Lord Jesus Christ will appear before you one day, keep the commandments spotless and without blame (verse 14.) Be holy as God is holy. Keep the faith entire. Don’t pick and choose which parts of God (from whom His commandments flow) you will obey. Teach the truth, and live the truth, and in this way you will be ready to face your Holy God when He summons you to Him.
Because God is who He is, and because the Lord Jesus Christ will appear before you one day, do not trust in uncertain riches. Trust instead in the God who gave you those riches (verse 17.) Go ahead and enjoy them. And if you are poor, enjoy whatever it is that God has given you, not coveting what He has not given you. But if you are rich, be rich in good works. Which good works? All of them, but especially the good work of giving and sharing. Why do you think God has chosen you as the steward of His riches and treasure? So that, in His name and in holy fear of Him, you may share with the poor, so that you might give Him the honor and glory and blessing that is due to Him. If you are rich, it is by sharing with the poor that you especially will lay hold of eternal life (verse 19.)
Because God is who He is, and because the Lord Jesus Christ will appear before you one day, guard whatever it is that God has entrusted to you. But guard especially His holy Word. Guard the apostolic teaching by hearing, reading, studying, memorizing, meditating upon, and praying with the Holy Scriptures.
Guard God’s Word with your life: guard it by your life.
Above all, give all honor and glory, all praise and thanksgiving, to the One who has entrusted you with your life and all that it contains. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, by living according to the words of Life, given by the Word of Life.
Prayer: O God, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to You be honor and everlasting power. Amen.
Resolution and Point for Meditation: I resolve to set aside some quiet time today to meditate on the person of God.
In this meditation, spend some time reviewing some of the characteristics of who God is, either ones that Paul mentions or other ones that the Holy Spirit brings to your mind. Meditate on each until there is no more fruit to be had or until you become tired.
After you have spent enough time meditating on who God is, allow your meditations on who God is to form an impression of how He most wants you to prepare to see Him.
Finally, resolve to act upon what the Lord has told you that you should do to more adequately see Him and be with Him.
© 2013 Fr. Charles Erlandson