Never Breaking the Chain

The Beginning of the Church

The coming of the body of Christ on the Pentecost (Acts 2) following the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ ushered in something truly unique in the world. Through Christ, all men and women could become a part of a single family, united in purpose, in redemption, and in adoption as sons and daughters of God (Gal. 3:28, 29). This body grew throughout the entire Roman world within only a few decades (Col. 1:23).

As time progressed, it became more apparent that this body was going to be multi-generational. While many expected Jesus to return “soon” (and some even mistakenly believed He had returned (1 Thes. 4:13ff)), it became understood that the amount of time before that return is solely dictated according to God’s own timetable, and for His purposes (cf. 2 Pet. 3:3ff). This meant that those early church leaders needed to encourage new leaders, and they in turn needed to do the same.

An Important Process

Paul describes such a process in what is possibly the last letter he ever wrote, which was an encouragement to action addressed to the evangelist Timothy. In it he wrote, “The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Tim. 2:2, NASU). In this verse we see the processes of evangelism described with four distinct generations:

  • From Paul to Timothy (1 to 2)

  • From Timothy to these men (2 to 3)

  • From these men to others they would teach (3 to 4)

In this verse we see the need to ensure that the message continues to be shared to another generation. An important question then becomes: What if this chain is ever broken? The reality is that the Word of God will never be done away with (1 Pet. 1:22-25), so there will always be a way for truth seekers to rediscover the truth. However, this is not ideal, as the body of Christ should always be about ensuring that the “chain” is never broken.

What About Us?

So, how do we ensure that this does not happen? By ensuring that there is always a next generation with the same passion, devotion, and serious regard for the Word as our own. And coupled with that, a younger generation committed to be the next leaders in the church. This does not happen automatically. If it did, Paul would not have had to command Timothy to do it!

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