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Getting Old Ain’t for Sissies

Getting Old Ain’t for Sissies
July 8, 2018

Getting Old Ain’t for Sissies

Passage: Psalm 71:17-24, 1st Timothy 5:1-8

Speaking of getting old...Do you remember:

  • Newsreels or Cartoons before a movie
  • Butch Wax
  • S &H Green Stamps
  • Howdy Doody
  • Coffee shops with table side juke-boxes
  • Telephone numbers with a word prefix
  • Roller skate keys
  • Drive-in movies
  • Expressions like: " Bust your Chops" or "Cat's Meow"
  • Metal ice trays with a lever

If you remember 7 or more, then you probably have gray hair!

Psalm 71 is regarded as confessions of an old man. He wrote that he would "proclaim God's power to all the generations to come." Mentoring is the privilege of the aged. Wisdom is often accrued through making wrong decisions, then learning from them! Older men and women have a responsibility to share their life experience with the young.

In I Timothy, the Apostle Paul advises the young pastor: "Do not speak harshly to an older man." Instead respect them like your own father. It also assumes that there would be times that Timothy would have to correct an older man. This strongly suggests that just because you have been around the block several times, doesn't mean you still can't learn a thing or two! Getting old doesn't guarantee we are always right!

In regards to women, Paul counsels the young pastor to treat older women like they were his mother and younger women with "absolute purity." In other words, don't de-personalize a woman as a sexual object. That is the highest form of respect!

Finally, Paul shares how the congregation was to treat widows in their church. If she had no family, he charged the congregation to assume some of her financial liabilities. However, if she did have a family, they were to be the principal care-givers. We are God's people, therefore, we have been called to treat one another like family. This responsibility is not limited to a few but is the privilege of the whole! Indeed, let us love one another, just as Christ has loved us!

Paul visited Philippi in the Macedonian region on his second and third missionary journeys.  Philippi was already an old and historic city when Paul arrived and later wrote his letter to the Christians there.  Philip of Macedon had built it in 358-57 BC and named it after himself.  Later, Philippi became part of the Roman Empire and was made one of the stations along the main overland route connecting Rome with the East, called the Via Egnatia.

Paul undoubtedly would have followed the Via Egnatia.  The road was almost 500 miles long, with Thessalonica as the midway point, and was built about 130 BC.  In 27 BC, Octavian named it a Roman Colony (Acts 16:12).  This meant citizens of Philippi could buy and sell property, were exempt from land tax and the poll tax, and were entitled to protection by Roman law.

Philippi was inhabited predominantly by Romans, but many Macedonian Greeks and some Jews lived there as well.  Its people were proud of their city, proud of their ties with Rome, proud to observe Roman customs and obey Roman laws, proud to be Roman citizens (cf. Acts 16:21).  Twice in his letter to the Philippians, Paul makes statements that capitalize on this fact:  “Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ” (Phil 1:27), where the verb he uses for “conduct yourselves,” politeuesthe, literally means “to live as a citizen, to live as freepersons,” even “to take part in government.” By choosing this word Paul seems to be appealing to their pride as Roman citizens and to be extending this idea now to the church, the new community to which they belong and of which they must be responsible citizens, abiding by its law of love.

Paul came to Philippi as the result of a vision he had while he was in Troas (Acts 16:9-10).  According to Acts, the first convert to Christianity in Philippi was a woman, Lydia (Acts 16:14-15). The only other Philippian converts mentioned in Acts were the Roman soldier, who guarded the jail where Paul had been put in prison, and his household (Acts 16:30-33).  It is obvious from this brief letter, no doubt one of several he wrote to the Philippians, that noe only did he have a deep affection for the Philippians, but they as well for him (cf. Phil. 1:7, 6:16).

Little else is known about the composition of the church in Philippi, but names such as Epaphroditus, Euodia, Syntyche and Clement—all mentioned by Paul as members of this church (Phil 2:25; 4:2-3)—indicate that this first Christian church on European soil was made up largely of Greeks.  Furthermore, it is safe to infer that from its inception women played an important role in this church, even in its leadership.  It is a fact worthy of note that of the four Philippians mentioned by name in this letter, two of them are women whom Paul says worked hard alongside him in the proclamation of the gospel (Phil 4:3).

 

Excerpts from John McRay, Archaeology and the New Testament, (Grand Rapids, Michigan:  Baker House Books, 1991)

and The IVP Dictionary of the New Testament, ed. Daniel G. Reid (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2004.

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