Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi.--Philippians 1:1
When you are reading the Bible, do ever just skip over the salutation? I do. I think, "let me just get to the good stuff," but what if the opening is also a part of the good stuff? All Scripture is God-breathed and profitable, and that includes the opening.
This morning, I was struck by the opening of Paul's letter to the Philippians. The heading for this book in my Bible says, "THE LETTER OF PAUL TO THE PHILIPPIANS", but look at the opening salutation. It begins, "Paul and Timothy, servants..." Now, Philippians is a distinctly Pauline epistle, but it opens as though it were from both of them. The rest of the letter also refers to "I", as if from one person, presumably Paul. Yet it opens by mentioning "Paul and Timothy."
You may not know, but Timothy was a young preacher for whom Paul had a particular affection. Two books in the New Testament are letters from Paul to Timothy. Paul seemed to take this young man under his wing, but Timothy was not Paul. He was a fearful, young man who was trying to grow into a leader in the church.
I remember as a young trainee, I was eager to attach my name to greatness. I published many papers, often written in conjunction with other people, but one in particular stands out to me. I was asked to write a book review and I in turn asked one of my mentors, Kenneth Adams, to co-write it with me. When he graciously accepted, I was thrilled. It was one of the best pieces of writing I have ever been privileged to be a part of, but it was unmistakably his style. Anyone who knows Ken, knew that this piece reflected his writing style, and his hand influenced my contributions as well. But we wrote it together, a nobody and a famous neuropsychologist. Jason and Ken.
I know how I felt writing with Ken. I was so excited and thankful for his mentorship and guidance. I knew that I was truly a nobody, but his willingness to have something authored by "Kenneth A Adams PhD and Jason E Kanz MS" was a highlight of my training days.
I wonder if young Timothy felt the same way. I wonder how he felt when the wise, godly Paul said "let's open this letter with 'Paul and Timothy'". I would imagine that he felt enlivened by the encouragement that Paul set upon him.
I think the lesson here is that we all should seek to encourage one another. To whom can you be a Paul? Who could be your Timothy?