I have always been a big fan of Bible commentaries. In my personal library (which is currently boxed up and in storage) there are probably two or three hundred commentaries and I have read most of them. When I saw that Dr. Phil Pringle had come out with this commentary on 1 and 2 Timothy, I was really excited. Dr. Phil is an excellent speaker and writer and I have read most of his other books. As far as I know, this is his first time to publish a commentary. For those who may not be familiar with him, Phil Pringle and his wife, Chris, lead C3 Church Global, a church planting movement with over 300 churches worldwide.
Letter to Next Generation Leaders is not a technical commentary. Dr. Phil does not provide any Greek word studies and only gives a brief discussion of the background of the two letters. The strength of this book is Dr. Phil’s verse-by-verse analysis of the text through the lens of his almost forty years of ministry. This book is a book on leadership because that was Paul was writing to Timothy about in both of these letters.
Timothy was a young leader and a co-worker of the Apostle Paul. He probably came to Christ on Paul’s first missionary journey, when the apostle spent some time in his city of Lystra. On Paul’s next trip through Lystra, Timothy joined his team and became an integral member. The two men worked together for the next twenty years or so.
When Paul wrote First Timothy, Timothy was working with the church in Ephesus. Timothy appears to have been sent to Ephesus as Paul’s personal representative. Part of his mission was to correct some of the false doctrine that was being taught. “I urged you to stay there in Ephesus and stop those whose teaching is contrary to the truth.” (1 Timothy 1:3)
While this letter is clearly addressed to Timothy, it is likely that this first letter was also a public letter. It showed that Timothy was in Ephesus and acting in Paul’s authority. Much of the letter would have been ideal for public reading and teaching in the church.
Dr. Phil’s insights into the text are brilliant and extremely helpful. In chapter three of 1 Timothy, Paul told Timothy what qualities to look for in leaders. One of them was gentleness. Dr. Phil says, “Leaders for Jesus must have lightness of touch, not a heavy hand in dealing with people. Their words need to begin as suggestions, not barked orders.”
Paul also wrote that leaders must have good character. Pastor Phil comments, “Everyone appointed to leadership roles in the church needs to qualify on the basis of character, rather than skills.” This is such a great insight because, at least in the Western Church, we love our superstars. We love the most dynamic and polished preachers and the most talented and charismatic musicians. There is nothing wrong with these things, but good character must always come first.
The apostle also stressed in 1 Timothy 4 how important it is to discipline ourselves for godliness. Dr. Phil’s comments are excellent. “The world lies at the feet of the disciplined. Everyone dreams, but only the disciplined will achieve theirs. A dream without discipline is the pathway to frustration, anger and deep disappointment. Even a dream from God has no guarantee it will come to pass; success of the dream demands discipline.”
I highly reccomend Letter to Next Generation Leaders. This is a great Bible Study resource, a great leadership resource, and a great devotional resource. I know that this is going to be a book that I go back to regularly and I am sure you will too!
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