“I am writing these things to you, hoping to come to you before long; but in case I am delayed, I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth.”
Paul wrote with an audience in mind. Timothy was a recipient of Paul’s written words which came in the form of a personal letter. Paul’s words had a purpose. They served as a bridge over the space and time of the Apostle’s absence until his next visit to the church of Ephesus. Paul was divinely inspired and his words still act as a bridge over the space of time in which you and I live; that is, between Christ’s first appearance and His second coming. We are now the intended audience of God’s word. We are the audience God has in mind.
Paul’s letter to Timothy and the other 65 books of the Bible are more than just a collection of works from antiquity. The Bible is not simply a resource book on the history of the Jews, the life of Jesus, or the expansion of the early church. The Bible is God’s loves letters to God’s people. Through the work of the Holy Spirit, the words of Scripture operate like Jesus. They rise from the dead! It was the “Spirit… who raised Christ from the dead” (Romans 8.11) and it is the Spirit who breathes life into the written word.
“All Scripture is God-breathed”
2nd Timothy 3.16 NIV
“For the word of God is full of living power.”
Hebrews 4.12 NLT
Someday Jesus will come again and we will meet Him “face to face”. Until His glorious return, we have the partial revelation of God's written Word. "For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now [we] know in part, but then [we] will know fully" (1st Corinthians 13.12). When Christ comes back, we won’t need the Bible any more. When I have coffee with a friend I don’t pass him notes. I talk to him face to face. Upon my arrival home after a trip, my wife (when she was alive) and kids do not run upstairs, pull out some of my old letters to read. No! They greet me in person with hugs and kisses. I am better than my letters. I am better than my long distance correspondence. But, until my return home, my letters, phone calls, emails, and Skype are as good as it gets.
Paul wrote to Timothy “in case [he was] delayed” to hold and support the young pastor until they would meet again “face to face” sometime in the future. The written words, notes, letters, books, epistles, and journals of the Bible are excellent portrayals of absolute truth, “but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears” (1st Corinthians 13.10). Until Christ returns, Scripture empowered by the Holy Spirit is as good as it gets. The Bible is the source of our connection to its Author, God Himself. It holds the “keys to the kingdom of heaven” Christ promised to impart (Matthew 16.19).
Our 28th President, had similar sentiments, and left these thoughts behind:
“A man had deprived himself of the best in the world who has deprived himself of this, a knowledge of the Bible. When you have read the Bible, you will know it is the Word of God, because you will have found it the key of your own heart, your own happiness and your own duty. I am sorry for the men who do not read the Bible every day. I wonder why they deprive themselves of the strength and the pleasure.”
The "Love Letters" image above comes from a Lancaster Historical Society exhibition in Pennsylvania featuring actual love letters, some date back as far as the 18th century.