When Timothy comes, see to it that he has nothing to fear while he is with you, for he is carrying on the work of the Lord, just as I am. No one, then, should treat him with contempt. Send him on his way in peace so that he may return to me. I am expecting him along with the brothers.
Paul’s visit to Corinth would be delayed (1 Corinthians 16:5-9), so he was going to send Timothy to teach and encourage the church until the apostle could visit. However, in a culture where age meant wisdom, Paul’s young apprentice might be ignored or treated with contempt, even though he had the apostle’s authority.
Paul was direct, and instructed the church to honour him and welcome him in such a way that he would not be afraid. Fear was Timothy’s weak point (2 Timothy 1:7) . He may have looked or sounded very young, but he needed the strength of the Lord to rebuke those who despised him (1 Timothy 4:11-12) while at the same time growing in his own faith (1 Timothy 4:15-16), and so being an example to the churches.
Was it unkind, then, to put Timothy into that potentially hostile situation? No. The young man would soon receive the baton of leadership from Paul (2 Timothy 4:1-8) . He had to step up and trust the Lord more than he feared opposition. The only way to train Timothy for that was to place him into the situation he feared. At the same time the church needed to get used to Timothy’s teaching and rebuke as he explained the Scriptures to them (2 Timothy 3:16-17). They needed to grow up too and stop bullying young ministers. But Paul also sent Erastus so that Timothy would have some support (Acts 19:22)
Some churches have a habit of patronising or demeaning their ministers. They somehow think that they are superior to the person God has sent to explain His Word; they know better. Where it occurs it is a bad habit which cannot enable the ministry to grow, and may well stop God’s servant from being effective there. Paul would say, “Stop it.” Let the person God has called share the gospel freely and teach the truth without being afraid of the church. Money given for their support is not to be turned into a weapon, threatening to withdraw it if genuine gospel ministry disturbs some of the power holders. Honour gospel workers and ensure that they do not live in fear of those they serve (Hebrews 13:17).
Almighty God. Thank You for sending Your servants all over the world with Your Word. Forgive me when I have not honoured them as I should nor supported them as I might. Show me how to encourage the church to love those who labour among them, and honour them as Christ’s representative. In His Name. Amen.