The challenges of ministry are more demanding than ever before, and they are more diverse and fluid than ever before. Even if we earn a Master of Divinity degree or a PhD, we are out of touch with the new realities within ten years.
Our equipping for ministry should become more like that of the Apostle Paul.
We find Paul in a Roman prison awaiting death sentence (2 Tim. 4). He writes these words to Timothy, his young friend and fellow minister, his son in the faith: “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” Paul is an old man, and apparently he’s worn out, and he knows that his time is short.
But Paul adds a final request that is a bit puzzling. He asks Timothy to bring his coat and his books (v. 13), and bring them “quickly”.
Now, I understand why Paul says, “bring my coat”, because a man can get cold in a Roman prison, but I want us to focus on the phrase “and the books, especially the parchments.” You Greek students can tell me that the word books “??????” means papyrus scrolls and the word “?????????” means parchment leather scrolls. These were the two forms of books in that day. It would be someone today saying, “bring my paperbacks and my hardbacks”, but that is not my point here.
I want to ask this question: Paul is finished, why does he need books?
Paul has done his work, why does say, “Bring me the books”?
Paul is only months away from death, so why does he need books?
I submit that as long as there was a breath remaining in Paul’s body, he was intent on following his own command to preach the word and to be instant in season and out of season.
May I suggest that Paul’s ministry from prison gave him cause to brush up on his education, study a bit more, and learn how to minister in the cosmopolitan city of Rome. He wanted the books, so he could develop his skills, deepen his knowledge of Scripture, and minister more effectively in the final hours of his life.
Paul had trained at the Harvard of his day, at the feet of Gamaliel, yet still he says, “Bring me the books.”
He had studied 3 years after his conversion, preparing for his apostolic ministry of church planting, yet still he says, “Bring me the books.”
He had experienced divine revelations in which he was caught up into the third heaven and saw things that he was not allowed to speak of, yet he says, “Bring me the books.”
My prayer is that every Church of God minister will prepare for the new challenges of 2016 by prayer, fasting, and study of “the books”.
Nate Ridgeway [01/02/2016 10:42 AM]
Boom!!!!!! Love this Dr Martin! #bringmethebooks
Dan Tomberlin [01/02/2016 10:46 AM]
Love this. Sharing on my page and our S GA MIP page. Thanks!
Linda Wentz Loyd [01/02/2016 10:46 AM]
Kenneth L. Hill [01/02/2016 10:47 AM]
Paul as we should be, ever learning, ever gleaning and ever wanting to be informed and prepared of what’s to come! Shifting in knowledge with the current time!!! ALWAYS WANTING MORE!!! Thanks for the provoking inspiration Dr. Martin!
John Kissinger [01/02/2016 10:48 AM]
Rich Barker [01/02/2016 11:19 AM]
Bishop Harper would love this posting!!!
Clive McBean [01/02/2016 11:36 AM]
Rich and helpful instructions for life and ministry.
Kenneth Gentles [01/02/2016 11:45 AM]
The urgency in the book request could also mean, important reference material to aid the completion of a project. Assuming that these books were not just any ordinary book.
That should not weakened your perspective in any way.
John Kissinger [01/02/2016 11:56 AM]
It should be also dully noted that #NLT translates this verse in the manner of a seminary professor calling upon his students pass the deadline papers: “Also bring …. especially the papers. Tim Brody Timothy https://www.facebook.com/groups/thelogy/permalink/940326966022319/
Tim Renneberg [01/02/2016 11:59 AM]
I get it, you’re an anything but NLT guy. I won’t lose any sleep or my salvation over that #beatingadeadhorse
James Edwin Cossey [01/02/2016 12:30 PM]
Lee Roy Martin, what separates men like you and a precious few others (Tom Doolittle and Jackie David Johns also come to mind) from many professors/theologians today is that you have actually lived and practiced the pastorate. You are a blessing to the Church of God!
Clarens Lapointe [01/02/2016 1:24 PM]
Thank you for your thought-provoking words Dr. Martin
Melissa Archer [01/02/2016 2:23 PM]
Bob Steele [01/02/2016 3:16 PM]
This is an excellent insight to the key value of continued spiritual formation. There is no place as “having arrived”, Paul’s need of his books reveals his on going pursuit of his personal spiritual preparedness for the present and future ministry.
Jane Gardner King [01/02/2016 5:22 PM]
Ed Dowdell George [01/03/2016 1:17 AM]
Good word! Now, back to work!!
Derrick Harmon [01/03/2016 9:48 PM]
Henry Bezalel [01/04/2016 7:26 AM]
True man of God.