“Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.”

Paul was a mentor to Timothy and encouraged him to be a mentor to other younger brethren in Ephesus and wherever else he may travel. We call to mind that even on the very first missionary journey he and Barnabas took with them the youthful and enthusiastic John Mark; “they had also John to their minister”( Acts 13:5). We may have thought that the unmarried apostle longed to have something of a “family” about him and the company of a young brother could provide some solace in his lonely single life.

It is clear from the heading quotation that Paul’s intent was far greater than this. When he set out on the second missionary journey the first significant feature mentioned by Luke is the “finding” of Timothy at Lystra; “and, behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timotheus …… Him would Paul have to go with him”(Acts 16:1,3). That wonderful companionship continued to the end of the apostle’s life for in his last letter he wrote, “… I thank God whom I serve from my forefathers with pure conscience, that without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day; greatly desiring to see thee, being mindful of thy tears, that I may be filled with joy” (2Tim 1:3–4). It is probable that Timothy, and John Mark, were both with the Apostle in his last hours in Rome (2Tim 4:11, 21).

Ecclesial stability

This moving consideration shows what importance the Apostle Paul placed upon ecclesial continuity and stability. The brotherhood of Christ needed to cohere so that ecclesias could grow and spread and yet retain a oneness of mind and a strong and warm brotherly relationship. Unity of mind, harmony of teaching as well as a virile appreciation of its roots are the soil and nourishment of a united brotherhood. The linkage goes back beyond Paul and the apostle to the Lord himself, for the faith was only “once delivered to the saints” (Jude 3).

Bridging the age gap

Conveying the Truth from one generation to another has always been a challenge but probably never more than in our present world where constant change and ease of communication exist. This week the press has brought to our notice that some schools have libraries with no books, some medical students have no text books, university courses can be planned with no lecturers and classes. These are all examples of the vast changes we have experienced in the last twenty years. The “twitter” revolutions in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt etc. are other examples. Look at what this means to the cohesion of the household of faith. There is potential for good in some of these things, but also evil for they can be abused by the Truths adversaries and heretics. Evidence for this is already exists and the focus is, as expected, towards those who are young and impressionable.

Is there an solution for this concern?

Yes, there is and it is as old as the hills, really. Friendship and Bible discussion leads to deeper ties than anything else in the world.

Imagine the scene. There are just 8–10 young men and women settling down in a pleasant lounge room for Bible study. Their ages vary from 18 to 25 years, mostly baptised, some married, but all intent on comprehending the Bible’s teaching on the atonement, for example. It doesn’t have to start on this subject but it is quite extraordinary how appealing this subject is to the great majority of our young people. Those present have all come by their own choice. Such a home class began with two or three and has grown gradually to the present number as others have heard and also wanted to be included. The class begins at 7.30 pm and they depart by 9.30 if they have other studies or responsibilities to attend to; some like to stay on and continue the line of thought of the evening. The programme is not inflexible and the main intention is to meet the appetite for God’s Word and to grow in understanding and wonder of His work in His dear Son. Questions are asked and answered, notes taken, some marked up in Bibles and some homework suggested.

The atmosphere is friendly and informal and because of this it seems easier for anyone to make comment or ask questions.

When all facets of the Atonement are covered the topic may turn to prophecy, to the book of Daniel, to cover the second, seventh and eighth chapters and then to follow this through to the Revelation, making the valuable link with the 4th beast of Daniel 7 and the beast of the Apocalypse: since the 4th Beast of Daniel corresponds with the history of the Roman power in both its pagan and Catholic phrases. Clearly then Revelation provides more details of the same story. This is a simple, rational and helpful introduction to the book of Revelation.

On-going benefits

The special nature of this little class is its friendliness, concluding with supper – where youthful hunger is quite apparent! The whole arrangement leads to many subjects, diversions perhaps, but matters that these young people wish to explore. Sometimes these matters are ecclesial, perhaps personal, perhaps relating to family, but to have them answered from a biblical point of view is valuable. This general programme has been undertaken several times in the last decade or so and the benefits for ecclesial life have been wonderful. Not only is a healthy relationship developed between generations but the class members themselves become closer to each other.

There must be many ways to organise such a class and this is only one story. But the concept has been fruitful, and with the blessing of God, of great benefit and to be highly recommended.