The Pharisee and the Greek





Alex Tang



Spiritual writing


Nurturing/ Teaching Courses

Engaging Culture

Spiritual Formation Institute

My Notebook

My blogs

Books Recommendation



Medical notes

Medical Students /Paediatric notes




























The Pharisee and the Greek

Dr. Alex Tang


The Thou and I series “He must increase and I must decrease “ Jn 3:30 so far:

The Baptist and the Christ


The King and the Prophet


   The Levite and the Pharisee


The Pharisee and the Greek

The Widow and the Hebrew Mother-in-law


The Odyssey is a Greek story of a warrior king of Ithaca, Odysseus, who set out from Greece to fight in the Trojan War. Trojan War was the war involving the Trojan horse. The siege of Troy took ten years. It took them 10 years to come up with the idea of the Trojan horse deception. Then Odysseus took another 10 years to reach home, meeting Cyclops, sirens, shipwrecks and other adventures on the way. Homer wrote the Odyssey. When Odysseus left home, his son, Telemachus was a baby. He left Telemachus in the care of a trusted guardian named Mentor. Mentor took on the task of training Telemachus to be a man and a king. When Ulysses reached home twenty years later, Telemachus was a fine young man, ready to be a king. That is where the word Mentor came from.

The concept of mentors has become a buzzword in the business world. The management gurus such as Peter Drucker and Tom Peters talked of mentoring as a process of growth. Basically mentoring is a senior person helping a younger person to develop in his career. But before the business world adopted the concept of mentoring, the ancient world of Greece and Rome has been using the process for decades. The Christians has been using the process of mentoring. Tonight, we shall look at the mentoring relationship of Paul, the Pharisee and Timothy, the Greek. We shall study 4 aspects of Paul’s mentoring process. From these 4 aspects, we shall draw 4 observation of mentoring. We shall see how Paul helped Timothy to increase in his ministry so that Paul can decrease in his.


1.                  Paul invited Timothy to join him.

Acts 16:1-3

AC 16:1 He came to Derbe and then to Lystra, where a disciple named Timothy lived, whose mother was a Jewess and a believer, but whose father was a Greek. 2 The brothers at Lystra and Iconium spoke well of him. 3 Paul wanted to take him along on the journey, so he circumcised him because of the Jews who lived in that area, for they all knew that his father was a Greek.


Timothy was the son of a mixed marriage; his mother, who had instructed him in the Scriptures, was a Jewess and his father is a Greek. When he became a Christian is not specifically stated but it is a reasonable inference that he was a convert of Paul’s first missionary journey which included Lystra and on that occasion he has observed Paul’s suffering (2 Tim 3:11). By the time of Paul’s second missionary journey through the same region, Timothy’s mother also was a Christian.

Paul was strongly attracted to the young man and although he had only recently replaced Barnabas by Silas as his travelling companion, he added Timothy to his team, probably as a replacement for John Mark whom he had refused to take.




The relationship between Paul and Timothy is like father and son. Paul called Timothy his true son in the faith (I Tim 1:2)    1TI 1:2 To Timothy my true son in the faith:

He called him son in the greetings of both 1 & 2 Timothy. That is how close the mentoring relationship of Paul and Timothy.

Relationship is the basis of our faith. Our faith is a Trinitarian faith. It is a faith based on the relationship of the Trinity: God the Father, our Lord, Jesus Christ the Son and the Holy Spirit.

When I first accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior, I find myself in a situation where there is no other Christians to help me. I was in medical school in Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM). There were no Christian groups on campus. Being converted outside the church, I was an outsider to the churches I attended. I realized I needed help. So I joined the Navigators in University of Malaya (MU). The Navigators is a Christian parachurch group working on campus. Its emphasis is disciplemaking. The ministry leader at that time was Philip Cheong. Initially I only attended their Wednesday night weekly meeting. Then Philip began to spend personal time with me on a one-to-one basis. We meet weekly. We were following the Navigators discipleship program. I was trained as a disciple, then became a disciplemaker and then a ministry leader.


2.                  Paul involved Timothy in the process of learning and growing together.

i.                     The process is Word based:  2 Tim 2:15

15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.

The different between Christian mentoring and other forms of mentoring is that Christian mentoring is Word based. The Word of God is the basis of all our teachings, our beliefs and our lifestyles. And it is clear from the way,Paul emphased again and again in his letters to Timothy, how important it is to be immersed in the Word of God. Not only intellectually but also emotionally, relationally and physically. It is like our immersion in the atmosphere. The air is outside us and is inside us.


ii.                   The process is Life Based (Modeling) :    2 Tim 3:10

2TI 3:10 You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, 11 persecutions, sufferings--what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured.

Paul shared his life with Timothy. By traveling along with him, Paul shared his life as a model. This did not mean Paul is perfect. That Paul has it ‘all together’. Paul himself will be the first to admit he is not perfect. But life modeling means you reveal your life as an instructional aid – your life as you try to follow Christ, your occasion triumphs, your many failures, your strengths and your weaknesses.




This two process is important – mentoring in the Christian context must be Word based and Life based. Its foundation must be the Word of God and the life lived out of the Word of God. A mentor must be willing to let his or her life be a model. There must be openness and transparency.

The Navigators take their disciplemaking/mentoring very seriously. Sometimes they invite the disciples they are mentoring to stay with them. I did not stay with Philip but we spend a lot of time together. In our weekly session, we will test each other on Scripture memory. We were supposed to memorize Scripture verses and to repeat it word perfect. We would talk about life experiences; bible study and he will give me assignments. The next meeting, he will check on whether I have done the assignment. The Navigator has a saying, “People will do what you inspect, not what you expect”. He taught me accountability.

He would bring me along in his visitations, when he gave talks and for dinner in his house. His wife, Catherine is a good cook. As a poor medical student, I never refuse a free meal. One incident, I remembered clearly. After dinner, we were washing dishes. I was soaping and rinsing the dishes and he was wiping it dry. Suddenly he handed a dish back to me. There was still a tiny speck of grease on the plate. It made a powerful impression on me. Our serving the Lord must has a standard of excellence. We must not accept lower standards.


3.                  Paul sent out Timothy for ministry.

i.                     To Thessalonica to encourage the persecuted Christians. 1 Thess 3:6

ii.                   To Philippi   Phil 2:19-23

iii.                  To Corinth   1 Cor 16:10

iv.                  To Ephesus  1 Tim 1:3-4




            Mentoring is worked out in the context of life and ministry. It does not exist in a vacuum. Paul sent out Timothy for ministry. He sent him out but he continued to keep in touch with him and to guide and teach him. Timothy was affectionate (2 Tim 1:4) but very fearful (2 Tim 1:7ff). Paul has to admonish him, to warn him not to give way to youthful lusts (2 Tim 2:22) and not to be ashamed of the gospel (2 Tim 1:8). He was sent to Corinth but as epistle 2 Corinthian indicated, he was not successful and Paul has to send Titus.

Philip continued to mentor me when we started the Christian group in UKM. I was also involved with the Singapore Navigators. Most of the weekends, I will take a night train to Singapore to visit my girlfriend. Then I take a Sunday night train back in time for classes on Monday.

In Singapore, I stayed with a group of bachelor Navigators who became my mentors.

·         Dr.Low Chee Keong, who is now in KL running three dental clinics and also pastors a church, prayed for me and I was baptized by the Holy Spirit.

·         Dr. Chow Kai Foo, a dentist who later went and worked with the Vietnamese refugee camps at the Thai border taught me about the struggles of the Christian life.

·         Dr. T.N. Chandran, a medical doctor who later joined World Vision International taught me about missions. He has a map of the world at the foot of his bed. He will throw a dart at the map. Where it stuck, he will pray for a member of Navigators to be sent there. I got Saudi Arabia!


4.                  Paul’s strategy for mentoring

2 Tim 2:2

            2 And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.


(Acts 9:26-30; 11:22-30)






(Acts 16:1-5; 1 & 2 Timothy)




Reliable men and others

(2 Tim 2:2)




Church of Ephesus

(1 Tim 1:3)




Smytna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Phildelphia, Laodicea

(Rev 2-3)




The Pharisee and the Greek: Mentoring





Ted Engstrom, President Emeritus of World Vision International, a Christian Relief Agency wrote in his book, The Fine Art of Mentoring:” A mentor…. provides modeling, close supervision on special projects, individualized help in many areas – discipline, encouragement, correction, confrontation, and a calling to accountability.”


Mentoring and Spiritual Formation in the local church




Worship service, church camps, teaching seminars and workshops, inter-church activities






Cell groups, ladies fellowship, intercessor groups





One-to-one, soul friends


The three arrows are the three pillars for spiritual formation or spiritual growth in the church. In our church, we are strong in the corporate worship and celebration and small groups. But we are very weak in the mentoring area.

Howard & William Hendicks, As Iron Sharpens Iron: Building Character in a Mentoring Relationship (Chicago: Moody Press, 1995) notes there are two types of spiritual mentoring:

(1)     Formal – like the type I received from the Navigators.

(2)     Informal – liking talking to each other when we meet in church, going out for ‘tea-tarik’, having lunch together or going for a game of golf.

What are the mentoring relationships in church?

·         Parents – children

·         Husband – wife or Wife- husband

·         Pastors and elders- deacons and other ministry leaders.

·         Cell leader – member

·         Member – member

In other words, mentoring can occur in any relationship.

Who can be mentors? Anyone

How to find a mentor? Ask

                                                                                                                                                      Soli Deo Gloria


Back to Top


"treat, heal, and comfort always"

 "spiritual forming disciples of Jesus Christ with informed minds, hearts on fire and contemplative in actions"  


Website Articles Spiritual Writings Nurture/ Courses Engaging Culture Medical Interests Social















  Creative Commons License

Except where otherwise noted, content on this site is
licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License

© 2006-2018 Alex Tang