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I Timothy

GOD'S PLAN FOR ORDER IN THE CHURCH

by LARRY CORY

 

A SUMMARY OF THE MESSAGE OF
I TIMOTHY

 

Salutation (1:1-2)

The vital role of teachers and leaders in the church (1:3-20)

The high priority of prayer in the church (2:1-7)

The great need for godly men in the church (2:8)

The great need for godly women in the church (2:9-15)

The great need for godly leaders in the church (3:1-13)

The exalted purpose of the church (3:14-16)

The important place of personal discipline in church life (4:1-16)

The proper treatment of those in positions of honor in the church (5:1-20)

The stressful personal life of a church leader (5:21-6:2)

The pure pursuit of gain in the church (6:3-19)

Conclusion (6:20-21)

 

Introductory Information About the Book of I Timothy

1. The author:  Paul identifies himself as the author in the very first verse:  "Paul, an Apostle of Christ Jesus and by the command of God our Savior and Christ Jesus our hope."

2. The recipient(s) of the letter:  Paul identifies Timothy as the recipient of the letter in the second verse:  "To Timothy my true son in the faith." (1:2a)

Timothy was raised in Lystra (it was located in what was then called Galatia; this region where Timothy lived is now part of the country of Turkey).  His father was Greek and his mother was Jewish (Acts 16:1).  Both his mother and grandmother were God-fearing Jews (II Timothy 1:5).  They taught him from infancy about the Scriptures in such a way that he was prepared to hear the Gospel message—that Jesus was Israel's promised Messiah who died for him on the cross to pay the penalty for his sins (Timothy 3:15).

He was apparently shy and sensitive by temperament.  For Paul tells him in II Timothy 1:7-8a the following:  "For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline.  So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord or ashamed of me his prisoner."  In I Corinthians 16:10, Paul speaks to the church at Corinth in the following words:  "If Timothy comes, see to it that he has nothing to fear while he is with you."  There is a possibility that part of the reason that Paul sent a such a strong letter to Corinth after he sent I Corinthians to them was because they had so badly mistreated Timothy during his visit with them.

Timothy probably became a Christian through Paul on Paul's first missionary journey (Acts 14:6-20; I Timothy 1:2).  On the second missionary journey, Paul learned that Timothy was well thought of by the Christians in Timothy's home region.  Paul then chose Timothy to come with him as his disciple.  (Paul chose Timothy to be with him in much the same way as Jesus chose the Twelve to be with Him.) (See Acts 16:1-4, 17:14,15, 18:5, 19:22, 20:1-6; II Corinthians 1:1: Philippians 1:1; Colossians 1:1; Philemon 1:1; I Thessalonians 1:1; and II Thessalonians 1:1 where it shows that Timothy was constantly with Paul.)

Timothy was a very young man when he first began to follow Paul, for he was still a young man about 15 years later when Paul wrote this letter of I Timothy to him (See I Timothy 4:12,15).  Timothy stuck with Paul through some very difficult times See Acts 17:13-15, 19:23-20:6; I Corinthians 4:17; 16:10; and Philemon 1:1 where Timothy is with Paul in riots, through church conflicts, and with Paul when he is imprisoned.)  Paul shares his high opinion of Timothy in the letter to the Philippians.  He said there was no one else like Timothy "who takes a genuine interest in your welfare."  See Philippians 2:19-24

3. The historical setting:  It was written some time after Paul's imprisonment that is described for us at the very end of the book of Acts.  So, what is written about in I Timothy describes church life in a time period that is later than that which is recorded in the book of Acts.

We can tell from I Timothy 1:3 and 3:14 that Paul was no longer in prison when he wrote this letter.  From these verses we learn that he had just gone to Macedonia, and he also hoped to come to Timothy soon.  Also, in his two letters to Timothy and his one letter to Titus (another of his disciples), Paul describes travels that are not described in Acts and that came after Paul's imprisonment in Rome (TITUS—to Crete, Titus 1:5, and to Nicapolis, Titus 3:12; I TIMOTHY—to Ephesus and Macedonia, I Timothy 1:3; and II TIMOTHY—to Troas, II Timothy 4:13, and to Miletus, II Timothy 4:20).  Paul wrote Philippians while he was in prison at Rome.  In Philippians he wrote that he expected to be freed from his imprisonment so that he could come and see the Christians at Philippi. See Philippians 2:24

What happened in Paul's life after the book of Acts?  As is recorded in I and II Timothy and Titus, he traveled back through Asia (our modern-day Turkey) and through Greece where he visited the churches in these regions (He may have traveled through these areas more than once.).  Also, Barclay records the church tradition that Paul also spent some time in Spain:  "Chrysostom in his sermon on II Timothy 4:20 says: 'Saint Paul after his residence in Rome departed to Spain.'  Jerome in his Catalogue of Writers says that Paul 'was dismissed by Nero that he might preach Christ's gospel in the west.'  Beyond doubt a stream of tradition held that Paul journeyed to Spain."  "Taken from The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon by William Barclay.  Copyright 1975 by The Westminster Press."  (Chrysostom was a church leader shortly after biblical times.)

After Paul left Timothy at Ephesus (in Asia), he went to Macedonia (in Europe).  He wrote this letter to Timothy after he left Ephesus, but before he returned to Ephesus again (I Timothy 1:3, 3:14).  The purpose of Paul's letter is to instruct Timothy about how to lead the church at Ephesus while he is gone.

4. The purpose and theme:  Paul gives the purpose of the letter in 3:14-15:
"Although I hope to come to you soon, I am writing you these instructions so that, if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God's household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth."  Paul wrote this letter to Timothy to describe what life in God's church should be like!

 

THE MESSAGE OF I TIMOTHY

A grandmother tells her young grandchild, "A place for everything and
everything in its place."  That is the grandmother's plan for an orderly life.  Order is a very important need in our lives.  We all know how stressful life can get during times of chaos and confusion, such as when we are moving or remodeling a house.  Some of us also have experienced living in homes that have been disorderly because of the presence in the home of alcoholism or mental illness, or we have experienced working at a job where there were no clear guidelines and expectations.  A church that is out of order can, of course, also be as stressful and at times even more stressful.  Paul says in I Corinthians 14:34 that "God is not a God of disorder, but of peace"; and in I Corinthians 14:40, he says that "everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way."

 I Timothy is God's plan for orderly church life.  It is Paul the Apostle's letter to Timothy to guide him in how he is to keep God's order in the church at Ephesus (where leadership has just been passed from Paul to Timothy).  What is God's plan for the church?  We find out much about God's plan for the church in the five chapters of I Timothy.

Through the years and throughout the world, the "Church" and churches have been very different.  But, what did God intend for the church?  I Timothy is a measuring stick by which we can measure every church.  If we want the church to be as God intended it to be, we need to first compare it with I Timothy (and other New Testament teachings on the church) and then seek to do what is needed to be done to move it toward being like the God-ordered church described in I Timothy.

Salutation (1:1-2)
"Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope, To Timothy my true son in the faith:  Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord."

Thought Question: Why do you think Paul starts his letter to Timothy in this way?

 

 

Paul writes this letter to Timothy with the authority of "an Apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Savior."  What is written in this letter is not the mere opinion of an early Christian, but it carries the authority of one who was given to the church by God to guide us toward God's goals and plans for the church!

Paul ends with "and of Christ Jesus our hope."  This may have been meant as an encouragement to Timothy who probably was concerned about taking on the leadership of the church of Ephesus by himself.

The vital role of teachers and leaders in the church (1:3-20)
Paul begins his instructions to Timothy about how to lead and guide the church at Ephesus with his concern about the teaching in that church.  Paul's preeminent concern for the church at Ephesus was that its teaching be sound and true.  The whole church is built upon faith in the Bible's teachings about what is real and what is true.  If this foundation is weakened or destroyed by false teaching, the whole church crumbles or even falls.  Is it any surprise, then, that Paul begins this letter with an urgent command that Timothy deal with the false teaching and false teachers at Ephesus and that Timothy personally direct the teaching in that church toward God's truth and goal?  Is it any different in churches today?  Should we not also start in our concern for the church today with a dedication to stopping false teaching and to preserving biblical teaching?

1. They are to protect the church by strongly opposing the teaching of false doctrine. (1:3-4)
"As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies.  These promote controversies rather than God's workwhich is by faith."

Thought Question:  What do you think was so wrong with this false teaching that Paul demanded that it must stop?

 

 

Paul had "urged" Timothy to stay in Ephesus while he went to Macedonia so that Timothy could first of all work at putting a stop to the false teaching that was taking place in the church at Ephesus.  Years earlier, just before leaving to go to Jerusalem (where he would be arrested and sent to Rome to be imprisoned for two years), Paul had said the following to the elders of the church at Ephesus:  "I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock.  Even from among your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them."  (Acts 20:29-30)  And so, after his imprisonment in Rome, Paul, with the authority of an Apostle, is authorizing Timothy to "command certain menthe savage wolves he had predictednot to teach false doctrines any longer."  He goes on to give Timothy the reasons why these false teachings must be stopped in the church at Ephesus.

a. False doctrine is to be opposed because it teaches a false view of reality (here"myths and endless genealogies").
Scholars are in disagreement about the type of false doctrine that was being taught in the church of Ephesus.  Barclay believes that it was a form of Gnosticism.  Gnosticism taught that God is good and could not have created or even touched this world with all its sin and suffering.  Their solution was that  "God put out an emanation, and that this emanation put out another emanation, and the second emanation put out a third emanation and so on and on until there came into being an emanation so distant from God that he could handle matter; and that it was not God but this emanation who created the world. . . They further provided each one of the emanations with a complete biography.  And so they built up an elaborate mythology of gods and emanations, each with his story and his biography and his genealogy. . . . Gnosticism was obviously highly speculative, and it was therefore intensive intellectually snobbish.  It believed that all this intellectual speculation was quite beyond the mental grasp of ordinary people and was for a chosen few, the elite of the church."  "Taken from The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon by William Barclay.  Copyright 1975 by The Westminster Press."  Barclay believed that the "myths and endless genealogies" in I Timothy referred to the stories about the Gnostic emanations.

However, because Paul tells Titus in Titus 1:13-14 to rebuke sharply the false teachers in Crete who were teaching "Jewish myths," most scholars believe that the false teaching in Ephesus was of a Jewish rather than a Gnostic origin.  These scholars believe that the myths may refer to the legends that have been collected in the Talmud and that the geneologies may refer to the Jewish pattern of making up stories about the names given in the geneologies of the Old Testament.  An example of this type of story-telling was found in The Book of Jubilees that "covers the entire era from creation until the entrance into Canaan.  This long stretch is divided into fifty jubilee-periods of forty-nine (7 X 7) years each . . . The sacred narrative of our book of Genesis is embellished, at times almost beyond recognition.  Thus, we now learn that the Sabbath was observed already by the arch-angels, that the angels also practiced circumcision, that Jacob never tricked anybody, etc."  Quoted from Hendricksen's commentary on I Timothy, page 59.  "Taken from New Testament Commentary (Exposition of the Pastoral Epistles) by William Hendricksen.  Copyright 1957 by Baker Book House."

So, the false teaching could have been Gnostic or Jewish; or even possibly another type.  We learn from other verses in I Timothy and Titus more about the false teaching and the false teachers.  "Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives' tales." (I Timothy 4:7)  "But avoid foolish controversies and geneologies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because they are unprofitable and useless." (Titus 3:9)  "They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm." (I Timothy 1:7)  "If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and godly teaching, he is conceited and understands nothing.  He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain." (I Timothy 6:3-5)  "Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care.  Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, which some have professed and in so doing have wandered from the faith. (I Timothy 6:20-21)  Also II Timothy 2:23: "Don't have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels."

What was the false doctrine Paul was talking to Timothy about?  What is "falsely called knowledge" sounds like it could have been an early form of gnosticism (the Greek word for knowledge is gnosis).  But the reference to "Jewish myths" in Titus 1:14 and the references to the teaching of the law sound Jewish.  It is clear that we cannot be certain about what false teaching Paul was talking about.  We can, however, be certain about the type of impact that false teaching had upon the church of that time and has upon the church of our time.

The teaching of myths is the very opposite of what is taught in the Bible.  We find myths throughout false religions and cults.  There are endless stories about the gods in Hinduism.  Mormonism's book of Mormon is a mythical story about Jesus' visit to people in South America.  Many false stories make their way even into the Christian church.  The Bible, in contrast, claims to be a record of truth and history.  Many believe that accounts like Adam and Eve and the flood of Noah's time were myths, but the Bible presents them as actual historical accounts.  Jesus' life and the miracles He performed are believed to be accurate history preserved for us without error by God.  When myths are mixed in with Biblical truth, it creates confusion about what, if anything, is the truth.  For this reason, Paul tells Timothy to order them to stop this type of teaching within the church!

Do myths and false stories ever make their way into the church today?  Some time ago there was a little tract that said that the numbers of vultures were increasing in Israel.  Christians got excited that this increase in vultures was a sign that the end-times were upon us.  But later inspection found that this tract was not true.  It was a myth!  Also, there are accounts of miracles that have been talked about in Christian circles that also have turned out to be no more than exaggerations by those who wanted to believe that a miracle had occurred.  They are myths!  Can we look the other way while people bring myths and false stories into the church?  If we allow these false realities to be brought into the church alongside of the truth of God, it will not be long before it becomes really unclear as to what is the truth.  We also need to do what Paul authorized Timothy to do and also authorizes us to do; we must command them not to teach false doctrine and false versions of reality!

b. False doctrine is to be opposed because it stirs up controversies rather than promoting God's work.
We can see from the verses that were quoted above about the false teachers, that they took pride in the exciting stories they created. What took place in Paul's time did not just occur two thousand years ago and then stop happening. There are also those in our world today who puff themselves up in the eyes of men by telling stories about how God has visited with them and spoken to them.  They desire to give the impression that they have a unique relationship with God above other men and women.  Jeremiah chapter 23, verses 9 to the end of the chapter is directed towards exposing false teachers.  There were false teachers in Jeremiah's time and Paul's time and there are false teachers in our time.  Listen to some of Jeremiah's words about false prophets:  "They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord. . . . I did not send these prophets, yet they have run with their message; I did not speak to them, yet they have prophesied. . . . They say, I had a dream!  How long will this continue in the hearts of these lying prophets, who prophesy the delusions of their own minds?" Jeremiah 23:16, 21, 26

Humbly seeking to find the truth and arrogantly attempting to create novel versions of reality are complete opposites.  Those who are humbly seeking the truth will respond to correction because they desire most of all to find what is right and true.  Those who arrogantly develop their own exciting and inventive versions of reality resent being corrected and will argue angrily when they are challenged on what they teach.  "These promote controversies rather than God's work."  Paul first presents what type of teaching Timothy is to oppose, and next in verse 5 he tells Timothy what type of teaching he should seek to promote in the church.

2. They are instead to make it their goal to produce "love which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith." (1:5)
"The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith."

Thought Question #1:  What do you believe is the "heart" that Paul is talking about here?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  How can you tell if your heart is "pure"?

 

 

Thought Question #3:  Why do you think a "pure heart," "good conscience," and a "sincere faith" will lead to love?

 

 

Paul directs Timothy to "command" that the false teaching be stopped.  Paul now explains that the goal of this command is so that there will be "love which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith."  We can tell false teaching from true teaching because true teaching has as its primary goal to promote love which comes from a purity of heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith.  We will look at these three qualities and how they together produce love.  True teachers will always have these three qualities which will lead to genuine love for others.

a. "pure heart"
First of all, what is the heart that Paul is talking about here?  Obviously, he is not talking about the heart that pumps blood though our physical body.  The heart as it is used many times throughout the Bible is a way of describing the central motivating part of our lives.  What motivates us—who we are in our individual heart—determines the type of person we each are.  The Bible tells us that we are born with an impure heart.  When we are born into this world, our deepest motivations are impure.  "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.  Who can understand it?" Jeremiah 17:9  "These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me......For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.  These are what make a man unclean." See Matthew 15: 8,16-20  In Proverbs 4:23 we are told:  "Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life."  The goal of the teacher in a church is, very simply, that the members of his church have pure hearts.

First of all, then, what is a pure heart?  Our hearts are pure when our motives and goals are the same as God's.  A glass of water is impure when there is dirt mixed with the water.  Our hearts are impure when there is any type of moral and prideful impurity mixed into our motives.  How do we purify our hearts?  We must first of all be willing to see the impurity in our hearts and then we must be willing to do that which will purify our motives.

The following are some of the ways that the Bible teaches we can purify our motives:  (1) Peter told the Christians gathered at the Jerusalem conference that the hearts of the new Gentile Christians were "purified by faith."  (Acts 15:9)  A purification process begins when we go from the darkness of unbelief to the light of faith.  Before God opened our eyes, we were hardened to the ugliness of our sin. Then, when we became Christians, we immediately came to see by faith that it is because our sin is a stench in God's nostrils and requires His judgment that Jesus Christ God's Son died on a cross for us.

(2) David's heart was purified when he confessed to God about his sin with Bathsheba.  See Psalm 51:1-10  See also James 4:8  David's heart was not right with God or purified from his sin until he fully admitted his sin to God and turned from it.

(3) Peter told the Christians he was writing to in I Peter: "you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers."  (I Peter 1:22)  Obeying God's pure ways is the primary way that we stay pure in an impure world.

(4) And John says that we are purified by having as our premiere hope that we will be like Jesus when he appears. See I John 3:1-3  The desire to be like Jesus Christ and the hope that we will one day be fully like Him gives us a pure goal for our future both in this life and in our life beyond the grave.

What purifies our hearts?  We by faith need to see the truth about our sin and the truth about how God in His love for us through His Son Jesus Christ paid the penalty for our sin.  We need to be willing to humbly and wholeheartedly confess our sins before our holy God.  We need to desire to obey His pure commandments.  And we need to have as the highest goal and hope of our lives to one day be holy as He is holy.

As Peter said in the verse quoted above, a pure heart leads to "sincere love for your brothers."  The pure in heart see God and His love. See Matthew 5:8  The pure in heart see their selfishness and despise it. See Psalm 51:1-10  The pure in heart see the world with God's wisdom. See James 3:17  The pure in heart flee selfish, sinful indulgences and pursue God's pure goals. See II Timothy 2:22  And the pure in heart genuinely and selflessly love each other!

b. "clear conscience"
What is that part of us that is called our conscience?  It is not a part of us that we have been able to scientifically examine.  But we do see it described for us in God's Word.  Because we are created in God's image, we have a part of us that rewards us when we have done that which is morally good and accuses us when we do that which is morally bad. See Romans 2:14-15  Adam's and Eve's conscience immediately held them accountable for disobeying God:  "Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.  Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden." (Genesis 3:7-8)  David's conscience also troubled him after he disobeyed God:  "When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.  For night and day your [God's] hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer." (Psalm 32:3-4)  (See also Psalm 38:1-12 where David describes his anguish before God and others because of the guilt he was feeling.)  In Romans 2:15, Paul tells us that the conscience is that part of us that accuses us when we do wrong, but defends us when we do right.

How do we keep a clear conscience?   Dealing with our consciences is a major part of each of our lives.  There are a number of destructive ways to handle a guilty conscience that are described in the Bible.  One of those destructive ways of handling guilt is to try to hide from God.  Adam and Eve hid from God.  We use this method when we do not admit our sin before God, but instead, hide in the darkness.  On the other hand, the way to keep a clear conscience is to confess or admit our sin to God.  That was David's solution:  "Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity.  I said, 'I will confess my transgressions to the Lord'—and you forgave the guilt of my sin." (Psalm 32:5)  His conscience became clear before God only after he fully faced God and took responsibility for his sin before God.

Judas, though, did not confess his guilt before God; instead, he used another destructive method of dealing with an accusing conscience.  He punished himself by hanging himself.  Other destructive methods of dealing with an accusing conscience are the following: (1) blame others as Adam and Eve did (See Genesis 3:12-13); (2) try to atone for our guilt by good works—a futile process (See Romans 7:7-24); and (3) we can harden our consciences so that they become callous and no longer signals us when we are doing what is wrong (See I Timothy 4:2 and Titus 1:15).

The book of Hebrews has a great deal to say about how the blood of Jesus Christ opens the way so that we guilty sinners can boldly and confidently approach God: "let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water." (Hebrews 10:22)

To summarize, we keep a clear conscience by doing only that which our consciences say is okay and by confessing our sin when we do that which is wrong.  We need also to continually recognize that the blood of Jesus Christ paid the penalty for our sin and cleanses us from all our guilt before Him.  Experience and the Word of God tell us that when we live in God's light with a clear conscience, we will love one another:  "Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness.  Whoever loves his brother lives in the light." (I John 2:9-10)  God is love and in the light we continually compare what we do with who He is.  In the light—keeping our conscience clear before Him—we seek to love as He loves.

c. "sincere faith"
"Faith" is reliance and trust in God for everything.  We need to trust in His wisdom and his righteousness when we make our decisions.  We need to trust in His forgiveness when we sin.  We need to trust in His care for us when we have needs.  We need to trust in His evaluation of us when we feel worthless.  We need to trust in His purpose and goals when life seems meaningless.  We need to trust in His promises when we are losing our hope.  We need to trust in Him for everything!  We have a sincere (the Greek word is "unhypocritical") faith when we are not just pretending to have this type of faith, but when we actually and genuinely do live like this; when we do sincerely live in total dependence on God for everything.  And when God has taken care of everything for us, we do not need any longer to put our focus on taking care of our own needs; so we can now put our focus on loving others!  "We love because he first loved us." (I John 4:19)

d. What is the goal of all teaching in the church?
The goal of the church is that we in the church will have pure hearts, clear consciences, and sincere faith that will result in real love being expressed within the church.  The goal of the church is not numerical growth ("church growth"), larger and larger facilities, or financial success.  A church's primary goal is that the church will grow in LOVE!  May our churches be delivered from all impure goals and seek after this one pure goal!

3. They are to expose false teachers. (1:6-7)
"Some have wandered away from these and turned to meaningless talk.  They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm."

Thought Question: What do these verses teach us about what false teachers are like?

 

 

False teachers are those whose goal is not "love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith."  In chapter 6, verse 4 of this letter, we will learn that the false teachers at Ephesus were "conceited."  They had "wandered away from" a pure heart and had selfish and impure motives for their teaching.  For example, they were not seeking to build God's people up in love, but instead they were seeking to build up their own egos.  As a result, their main concern was to make themselves look good.  Anything that was brought into question about their ego-inflating teachings was seen as a threat.  In 6:4-5 we learn that these false teachers created arguments and strife.  In these two verses, we learn some characteristics of false teachers.

a. False teachers are those who have "wandered" from God's goals for teachers and teach that which is "meaningless." (1:6)
The author of the book of Ecclesiastes (most conservative scholars believe it was Solomon) determines that life under the sun and apart from God is "Meaningless! Meaningless!"....."Utterly meaningless!  Everything is meaningless." (Ecclesiastes 1:2)  When teachers "wander away from" God and His goals for His church, then, everything they teach becomes meaningless.  Throughout time there have been teachings upon teachings that have taught that which is totally without any value because it did not teach the truth about God and His ways.  The famous intellectuals of the western world often buried themselves in their rooms and wrote reams and reams of their own teachings.  But, even though they had great intellects, their teachings had little relevance to reality and everyday life (which many of these intellectuals had very little experience with).  Their teachings are "meaningless."  All teachings that do not come from God's Word and that are not directed towards God's goals are "meaningless!"
b. False teachers want to be teachers of God's ways, but they do not know what they are talking about (no matter how confident they appear to be). (1:7)
The goal of the false teacher is not to learn God's ways and then build people up in the faith, but the false teacher's primary goal is to build himself up in the eyes of the people.  They want to sound as if they know what they are talking about.  Here, Paul says that the false teachers at Ephesus sounded like they knew what they were talking about when they taught about God's law, but they actually had no understanding about the real purpose of God's law.  If they had understood the purpose of God's law, it would have humbled them as it humbled Paul. See 1:12-17  But, instead, their knowledge about God's law puffed them up with pride.

4. They are to teach the truth (here, Paul gives the proper teaching about God's law). (1:8-11)
"We know that the law is good if one uses it properly.  We also know that law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious; for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for adulterers and perverts, for slave traders and liars and perjurersand for whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me."

Thought Question:  What do these verses tell us about why God gave us the Ten Commandments?

 

 

a. The "law is good if one uses it properly." (1:8)
What is the proper use of God's law?  Many believe that God gave the Ten Commandments so that we would know the right way to live, so that we can then live according to their requirements and become good enough to go to be with God after we die.  But the Bible gives an entirely different purpose for the law.  "Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God.  Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin."  (Romans 3:19-20)  "The law was added so that the trespass might increase.  But where sin increased grace increased all the more, so that just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 5:20-21)  "All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written:  'Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.'" (Galatians 3:10)  The proper purpose of the law is to expose our sins and sinfulness, and to show us that we are under a curse.

The purpose of the law is to show us our need for God's grace through Jesus Christ.  "So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith." (Galatians 3:24)  As we will see in 1:12-17, the law did show Paul his sinfulness.  He saw himself as the "worst" of sinners.  These false teachers, however, saw themselves as great teachers of the law.  They did not see what the law was meant to teach them; that they like Paul were not great teachers but great sinners!

b. The "law is not made for the righteous, but for lawbreakers and rebels . . . and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine." (1:9-11)
The "law is not made for the righteous."  What does Paul mean by these words?  Barclay explains the meaning of Paul's words in the following way:  "The good man does not need any law to control his actions or to threaten him with punishments; and in a world of good men there would be no need for laws at all."  "Taken from The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon by William Barclay.  Copyright 1975 by The Westminster Press."  In a world full of good people, there would be no need for a law that said, "Thou shalt not."  We already would not do the "shalt nots."  A person who loves others does not steal from them; so he does not need a law telling him not to steal.  J. Edwin Orr, who was an expert on revivals, told about how during the Welsh Revival the police had nothing to do because of the effect of the revival on the country.  There was no stealing!  To keep themselves occupied, they formed a singing group so they could participate in the revival meetings.  So, the proper use of the law is not to guide good and righteous men, but the proper use of the law is to expose and restrain our sin.

The law is for "lawbreakers and rebels":  Paul appears to list those who have broken the Ten Commandments.  "Lawbreakers," "rebels," "the ungodly," and "sinful" are those who are rebellious toward God and break the first four commandments directed towards honoring and obeying God alone.  "Those who kill their fathers or mothers" are those who break the fifth commandments and do the very opposite of honoring their fathers and mothers.  "Murderers" are those who break the sixth commandment that we should not murder.  "Adulterers and perverts" is disobedience of the seventh commandment that says we are not to not commit adultery.  "Slave traders" are those who commit the very worst form of stealing (they steal people) and break the eighth commandment that says we are not to steal.  "Liars and perjurers" break the ninth commandment that says we are not to lie.  Paul appears to break off before listing an example of the tenth commandment that we are not to covet.  But, he goes on and includes lawbreaking as including anything that is "contrary to sound doctrine that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God . . . "

"Sound doctrine" is that which produces God's glory among people.  The purpose of the "glorious gospel of the blessed God" is to restore men and women to spiritual and moral health.  So, anything we do or are that falls short of God's glory is contrary to God's law.  Romans 3:23 tells us that we have all sinned and fall short of God's glory.  The law's purpose is to expose our sin.  And we are all sinners!  Paul in the next verses shows that the law served its purpose in his life, for because of the law's effect on him he concluded that he was the very worst of sinners.  And so, if the false teachers really understood the true purpose of the law, they would have discovered, as Paul did, that they were lawbreakers and that they like Paul were desperately in need of God's grace. We see also in the Old Testament that there were punishments listed for breaking God's laws.  For example, see Leviticus 20.  These punishments were meant to restrain evil in the land of Israel.

5. They (the teachers) are to be able to apply God's Word to their own lives (here, Paul shows how God's law had had its proper effect on him and how he had come to see his complete need for God's grace). (1:12-17) (Paul's testimonyGod's grace to the greatest of sinners)
"I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service.  Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief.  The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.  Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinnersof whom I am the worst.  But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.  Now to the King, eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen."

Thought Question:  According to Paul's image of himself, what is the proper self-image for a Christian?

 

 

There is much said and written about self-image these days.  Clearly, the only place where we can discover how we should look upon ourselves is in God's Word.  For who knows better who we are than the One who made us.  Paul was one who had gained a proper understanding of himself from the Scriptures.  We see his conclusion about himself in these verses.  Someone has said that the Christian's proper outlook on himself is to see that he is very special (created by God for God's very special purpose; see Psalms 8 and 139 to see the special place that we have in God's plan); deeply fallen; and greatly loved.  Paul expresses his understanding that he is very special, deeply fallen, and greatly loved in these verses.

a. Very Special (1:12)
Paul thanks God for the special place in His plan that God had given to him.  A famous boxer once liked to shout, "I am the greatest!" (It was hard to tell whether he believed it or whether it was just show business.)  A famous soccer player, on the other hand, attributed his great talent to be an athletic gift given to him by God.  Paul, here, does not see his position as an apostle of Christ Jesus as a result of his accomplishments, but as a result of God appointing him to this great area of service and God giving him the strength to do the work of an apostle.  David, in Psalm 8, wonders how God would choose man to be ruler over His creation.  Paul wonders how God would choose him to be an apostle of Christ Jesus.  If we see who we are in God's plan, each of us should wonder with David and Paul why God has made us such a special part of His plan.  Note that Paul does not see himself as choosing God, but he sees God as choosing and appointing him.  We will see in the following verses that Paul was going in the very opposite direction from moving toward earning an apostleship in God's Church when God chose him.

b.  Deeply Fallen (1:13, 15)
Those who believe that one of the great needs of today is that we gain "self-esteem" would probably be horrified at Paul's lack of self-esteem.  For in these verses, he sees himself as the "worst of sinners."  Paul's view of himself is the very opposite of what is being taught about man in our academic circles.  Listen to the words of the respected psychologist Abraham Maslow:  "This inner nature, as much as we know of it so far seems not to be intrinsically evil but rather neutral or positively 'good'...Since this inner nature is good or neutral rather than bad, it is best to bring it out and to encourage it rather than to suppress it.  If it is permitted to guide our life, we grow healthy, fruitful, and happy."  "Taken from Guilt and Freedom by Bruce Narramore and Bill Counts.  Copyright 1974 by Vision House Publishers."

Paul had an entirely different view of himself than Maslow had about men.  The Bible teaches that we are intrinsically sinful.  Listen to what the Bible has to say about each of us.  Simply put, the Bible says we are greatly fallen just like Paul was.  After the people of Israel had promised God that they would always obey the Ten Commandments, God had this to say about them:  "Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear me and keep all my commands always, so that it might go well with them and their children forever!" (Deuteronomy 5:29)  Solomon came to this conclusion about all men:  "There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins."  "When the sentence for a crime is not quickly carried out, the hearts of the people are filled with schemes to do wrong."  "The hearts of men, moreover, are full of evil and there is madness in their hearts while they live." (Ecclesiastes 7:20, 8:11, 9:3)  Jeremiah, just before God judged Israel by allowing the Babylonians to conquer them because of their disobedience of God's laws and commandments for many years, came to this understanding of man's basic nature:  "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure." (Jeremiah 17:9)  And Paul stated the following about all of us:  "There is no one righteous, not even one." (Romans 3:10)

Paul, in these verses, admits that he also had broken God's Ten Commandments.  He "was once a blasphemer."  He broke the third commandment that we are not to blaspheme God.  Essentially, as a blasphemer, he broke the first four commandments that are directed toward giving God the honor that is due Him.  Then, Paul calls himself a "persecutor and a violent man."  He, according to his own words, had been a man who enjoyed inflicting pain on other people.  Listen to his own testimony about himself in Acts 26:10-11:  "I put many of the saints in prison, and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them."  Imagine if one of your family members were put to death, and Paul was one of those who had voted to have him killed.  That is the type of person that Paul was before he was a Christian.  He enjoyed seeing Christians put to death.  He treated Christians just as Jesus was treated before His crucifixion.  He also, then, broke the part of the Ten Commandments (the last six) that were directed towards our relationship with men.

Paul's conclusion about himself is found in verse fifteen.  He calls himself the "worst of sinners."  In I Corinthians 15:9, Paul called himself the "least of the Apostles."  At a later date, in Ephesians 3:8, he called himself "less than the least of all God's people."  And then here in I Timothy, towards the end of his life, he calls himself the "worst of sinners."  Paul—like many of us—came to see his sin more clearly as he grew closer to the God of light.  He saw that if he had had his way, the church would have been wiped out in the first century.

There are those in our time who also would like the church wiped off the face of the earth.  Madeline Murray O'Hare is a name that immediately comes to mind.  Paul was like that, but he carried it further.  He participated in the murder of Christians.  And so, Paul saw himself as the worst of sinners.  Notice, he did not say that he was the worst of sinners, but he says, "I am the worst of sinners." He realized that apart from God he would still be the very same person he was before.  What are you and I like apart from God?  Just as Paul was a blasphemer and a hater, so are we!  As the Bible tells us, we are all deeply fallen!  But, we are also greatly loved.

c. Greatly Loved (1:14-17)
The glory of the gospel (see 1:11) is that it took Paul from being one who persecuted and murdered Christians to being an apostle in that very same church!  Paul realized that this grace toward him was possible for 2 reasons:  First of all in verse 13, it was because Paul "acted in ignorance and unbelief."  Paul was aware that if he had really understood what he was doing when he sinned, his sin would not have been forgiven.  In Numbers 15:27-31, we read that unintentional sins could be atoned for by offering an animal sacrifice, but "anyone who sins defiantly...blasphemes the Lord, and that person must be cut off from his people.  Because he has despised the Lord's word and broken his commands, that person must surely be cut off; his guilt remains on him."  Paul's guilt did not remain on him because he did not persecute the church understanding that the church was God's people.  In his sin and blindness, he thought he was doing God's work by killing Christians.  In Hebrews 6:4-8, there is a description of those who have been enlightened by the Holy Spirit and still turn from God.  As we can see in those verses, there is no forgiveness for them.  Paul could and did receive God's grace because he did what he did in ignorance and unbelief.

The second reason that Paul was able to receive God's grace is found in verse 14.  "The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus."  The second reason that Paul, who saw himself as the worst of sinners, was able to receive God's grace is because God's grace is far greater ("abundantly" greater) than all our sins.  In Romans 5:20-21 that we quoted earlier, we learned that the law came to increase our sin; but that no matter how much we sin in rebellion against God's law, God's grace is greater than all our sins!  Paul realized that this is the type of grace that God had shown toward him—grace greater than all of his sin!  God's grace toward Paul was so "abundant" that it had overflowed and produced in him "the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus."  He was not only forgiven, but he had become full of faith and love as a servant of Christ Jesus.  And as we saw in verse twelve, God gave him the strength to be a servant and an apostle.

Now, in verse 15, Paul gives his conclusion:  "Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance:  Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinnersof whom I am the worst."  Paul did not seek God.  In fact, he was doing the very opposite.  But, Jesus sought him.  Jesus came into this world to seek out sinners like Paul, you and me.  We do not seek him.  Romans 3:11 says that no one seeks God.  But the God who is revealed to us in the Bible seeks after us.  God sought after even a sinner like Paul, one who was in the business of killing Christians at the time!  How about you and me?  Were we seeking God?  If we see the truth as Paul did, we will realize that we were not seeking God at all, but the reason that we now are Christians is that God was seeking us.

Paul concludes in verse sixteen that God had chosen him as an example of how great God's grace is; for if Paul, the persecutor of the church, could become a Christian, then anyone could be forgiven and become a Christian.  Listen to the response of people after Paul the Christian-hater became a Christian:  "At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the son of God.  All those who heard him were astonished and asked, 'Isn't he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name?  And hasn't he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?'"  "When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple." (Acts 9:20,21,26)  They were amazed, just as we would have been amazed if Madeline Murray O'Hare had become a Christian and begun to talk about God's love and grace.

What is Paul's response to God's great mercy and grace?  What is Paul's response to being greatly loved by God?  What is a proper self-image?  It is not self-esteem, but the appropriate response when we come to see who we are is to greatly esteem God!  The result in us is not to esteem ourselves, but we are humbled and grateful to the One who created us and forgave us though we lived a life of sin against Him.  Paul realized how forgiven he was.  And all of these verses from 12 to 17 are his expression of humility, gratitude, and praise to the One who had forgiven someone like him.  Is it any wonder that Paul ends this testimony as he does:  "Now to the King, eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen."  We only know who we are when we know and fully esteem Him who created us, forgave us, and chose us to serve Him!  Paul was a man who had the proper self-image.  He saw himself as having a special part in God's plan, as being deeply fallen, but greatly loved.

6. They are to make sure that they stay on course in their own lives (holding on to faith and a good conscience) and do not go shipwreck as some had. (1:18-20)
"Timothy, my son, I give you this instruction in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by following them you may fight the good fight, holding on to faith and a good conscience.  Some have rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith.  Among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme."

Thought Question #1:  According to these verses, how can you keep your Christian life on course right up to the day you die?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  What does Paul mean by handing someone "over to Satan"?

 

 

Paul compares the Christian life to the voyage of a ship.  He is concerned that Timothy's voyage of faith will not stay on course.  We might think at this point that Timothy was a sincere and committed Christian, why should Paul be concerned about him?  But, all of us have known sincere and committed Christians who have gotten off course and have gone shipwreck.  There are storms, strong currents, and false winds in life that can get any of us off course.  Paul tells Timothy how the false teachers at Ephesus had gotten off course:  "For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.  Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs." (6:10)  "Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care.  Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, which some have professed and in so doing have wandered from the faith." (6:20-21) See also II Timothy 2:16-18  In these verses we learn how to stay on course, what gets us off course, and the consequences we will face if we get off course.

a. How to stay on course (1:18-19a)
For us to stay on course there are two essential requirements: (1) We need a clear destination and (2) We must stay on course until we reach that destination:

(1) A ship's purpose is to sail towards a destination.
In I Timothy the destination that we are to sail towards is called the "faith."  In 1:19, Paul tells Timothy to hold on to "faith."  Throughout I Timothy, Paul talks about the "faith." See 3:8-9, 4:1,6, 5:8  The "faith" is a life that is lived in confidence in God until the very end.  We sail in life toward God's will and goal for us until we reach the final destination that is His plan for us.  A life lived in "faith" will reach God's final destination.  Paul calls it fighting "the good fight."  Paul reached that destination.  Listen to his words as he neared the end of his life:  "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day." (II Timothy 4:7-8)  This is every Christian's destination in this life: to keep the faith and to fight the good fight right up to the end of our lives!

(2) Now, how do we stay on course?  We need to hold "on to faith and a good conscience."
God had revealed His will for Timothy supernaturally through prophecies made about him.  The instructions that Paul is giving here were also supernaturally guided, and they added to what had already been revealed to him about God's will for him.  Timothy's part was to hold on to "faith" in God's will for him and to hold on to a "good conscience."  God also has a plan for each of us.  He also guides, directs, and gives light to us about what He desires to occur in our lives.  Our part is to hold on to "faith" in Him and His will for us and to hold on to a "good conscience."  We keep "faith" by continuing to trust God (1) through trials and (2) when doubts attack our minds.  As Paul says in Ephesians 6:16: "In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one."  When others appear to be prospering but it appears that we are failing, we are to hold on to "faith."  When it appears that God is interested in others but not in us, we are to hold on to "faith."  Also, we are to hold on to a "good conscience" when all kinds of temptations come our way.

Listen to Paul's exhortations to Timothy:  "Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives' tales; rather train yourself to be godly." (4:7)  "But man of God, flee from all this and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness." (6:11)  "Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly." (II Timothy 2:16)  "Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness." (II Timothy 2:19)  "Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteous, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart." (II Timothy 2:23)  We stay on course when we also hold on "to faith and a good conscience."  As Paul points out next, not all stay on course.  In our modern-day, world we also know that not all stay on course.

b. How we can get off course (1:19b)
"Some have rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith."  It as if the navigator of a ship tells the captain that according to his compass and his other calculations the ship is going off course.  The captain then willfully rejects what his navigator warns him about, and the ship goes off course and wrecks.  Paul tells Timothy that there are those who had rejected all the warnings that they were leaving the faith and the urgings of their own consciences and had already gone shipwreck.  We can see from other passages in I Timothy that they chose the appeal of the world over living by faith and a good conscience.  "People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.  For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.  Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs." (6:9-10)  When we give in to the allure of the world, we leave the "faith" and a "good conscience" and our lives eventually suffer shipwreck.

c. The consequences we face if we get off courseshipwreck! (1:20)
Among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme."  "Hymenaeus and Alexander" were two men who had gotten off course and whose lives had shipwrecked.  "Hymenaeus" is probably being talked about again in II Timothy 2:17-18: "Their teaching will spread like gangrene.  Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus who have wandered away from the truth.  They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some."  Alexander may also be mentioned in II Timothy 4:14:  "Alexander the metalworker did me a great deal of harm.  The Lord will repay him for what he has done."

"Hymenaeus and Alexander" of I Timothy 1:20 were apparently Christians who had wandered from the faith by choosing what is wrong over what is right.  Paul had given them God's judgment for their rejection of His way; he handed them "over to Satan."  When someone becomes hardened in their choice to reject God's way and rejects godly correction, all that is left is for them to find out the hard way the consequences of their choice.  They are given in to Satan's hands so that they can find out for themselves in a painful way the consequences of sin and of following Satan.  The prodigal son would not listen to his father's advice, so the father allowed him to go out and find out the hard way.

Paul said that they were turned over to Satan so that they would be "taught not to blaspheme."  The purpose of this church discipline was not for punishment, but to correct them and to teach them not to continue to blaspheme God by their ungodly teachings and actions. See also Matthew 18:15-20 and I Corinthians 5:1-5  In I Corinthians 5:5, Paul says "hand this man over to Satan so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord."  The man disciplined in this way was a Christian who was corrected so he would stop sinning, but he would nevertheless be saved in the end.

So, we have a clear teaching about how to stay on course in the Christian life, how we can get off course, and an example of those who did not stay on course.  May Paul's words be an encouragement to us to hold on "to faith and a good conscience" right up to the end of our lives.

The high priority of prayer in the church (2:1-7)
Paul first deals with the problems inside the church.  There were false teachers who were weakening the church.  For the church to be able to reach out effectively, the church needs to be healthy and strong.  When the church is healthy, then it is ready to reach out with perseverance and concern for those outside the church.  Jesus said, "For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost."  Because we (the church) are the Body of Christ, we have the same purpose in our world.  One of the ways we are able to reach out in love and concern to our world is to pray for those outside of the church.  In the first verses of chapter two, Paul gives Timothy and us instructions on how we should pray within the church.

"I urge, then, first of all that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyonefor kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.  This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.  For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all menthe testimony given in its proper time.  And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostleI am telling the truth, I am not lyingand a teacher of the true faith to the Gentiles."

Thought Question #1:  What do these verses tell us about what should be included in our prayers?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  How do you reconcile God wanting all men to be saved and not all men being saved?

 

 

1. We are to pray for everyone. (2:1)
Who are we to pray for?  Listen to Paul's words to Timothy:  "I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone".  Who are we to pray for?  Everyone!  "Requests" = prayers for specific needs; "prayers" = prayers for general needs that are always present (for example, see the widow's need for prayers in 5:5): "intercession" = making requests on behalf of someone because of the access that we have to God (God's Spirit "intercedes" for us when we do not know what to pray for; see Romans 8:26,27); and "thanksgiving" = expressing our confidence that God hears and answers our prayers. See Philippians 4:6-7

2. We are to pray for those in authority. (2:2)
If we look outward from the church, we cannot avoid seeing that there are those in authority in our city, county, state, and country.  At the time that Paul wrote this letter, Nero was the emperor of Rome.  In Romans 13:1-4, Paul has the following to say about governing authorities (and, therefore, about Nero):  "Everyone must submit to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established.  The authorities that exist have been established by God.  Consequently, he who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.  For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority?  Then do what is right and he will commend you.  For he is God's servant to do you good.  But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing.  He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer."  Leadership in the family, the church, and the government is part of God's plan for us.  He is the one who has established that there be governmental leaders and other leaders over us.

Paul tells us here that Christians are not to grumble, complain, and rebel against leadership, but we are to support them by praying for them, so "that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness."  "Peaceful" means that we will be peaceful and tranquil within, and "quiet" is a tranquility that comes when there is an absence of outward disturbances.  "The word 'quiet' is eremos.  It denotes quiet, arising from the absence of outward disturbance.  The word may here imply, keeping aloof from political agitations, and freedom from persecutions.  The word 'peaceable' is "hesuchios," 'tranquillity arising from within.'"  "Taken from Word Studies in the Greek New Testament Volume II by Kenneth S. Wuest.  Copyright by Wm. Eerdmans Publishing Company 1952."

It is easier for us to live godly, holy lives when there is the order provided by leadership.  Children are most easily reached with the gospel message in an orderly camp setting; people are most easily reached with the gospel in an orderly, peaceful society.  If God desires order in our society, we can also infer that Satan desires that God's order be destroyed.  We are to pray for our leaders so that our world may be orderly, peaceful, and quiet.  It is in this type of orderliness where we are best able to live as Christians and where we can best reach others with the gospel.

3. We are to pray for everyone's salvation. (2:3-7)

a. God desires that all men be saved. (2:3-4)
"This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth."  In these verses, Paul tells us that God desires all men to be saved.  The salvation that he is talking about is certainly the same salvation that he had experienced and that he has just described in 1:15-16:  "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.  But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life."  God desires, because of His infinite mercy, that all men be saved from sin and from the penalty for their sins; and He desires that all men receive eternal life.

This presents an obvious problem for we know from the description of the Great White Throne judgment that not all men will be saved.  "If anyone's name was not found in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire."  See Revelation 20:11-15  Also, we are told in Romans 3:11 that "no one seeks God."  Then, we know that because no one will seek God, He chooses and calls men to come to Him. See Romans 8:28-30  Finally, because God does not choose everyone to be saved, all will not be saved.  The obvious problem, then, is that if God desires "all men to be saved," but He does not choose that all be saved.  How can He desire "all men to be saved" and not all are saved?

It is immediately obvious that this area is not one of the easy-to-understand parts of the Bible.  Also, it is not surprising that the issue that we have brought up here has created a source of contention within the church for hundreds of years.  The issue is as follows:  How can God be totally in control of all that takes place, including who become members of His eternal family, and we, at the same time, are making real decisions and are responsible for our decisions?

It would appear that the only solution is that God desires to draw all men to Himself.  Nevertheless, God allows men to resist His drawing and the majority do resist him.  "Enter through the narrow gate.  For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to it.  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." (Matthew 7:13-14)  "You stiff-necked people with uncircumcised hearts and ears!  You are just like your fathers:  You always resist the Holy Spirit!" (Acts 7:51)    He desires that all men come to Him, but men and women choose to resist what He desires for them.  But, He has those whom He has chosen and only He knows those who are His chosen ones.  Those who do ultimately come to Him and individually choose to receive His mercy are those He has purposed and chosen to be part of His family from before the world began.

Some who believe in "limited atonement," that Jesus only died for the chosen ones and that He desires only for the chosen to be saved, have come up with other explanations for these words, "who wants all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth."  Some say that the words "all men" do not mean He desires every man to be saved, but that He desires men of every race to be saved.  In other words, He desires men of every race whom He has chosen to be saved.  Still another explanation of this verse is that the word "saved" does not refer to eternal salvation, but saved in some other way such as saved from the effects of a disorderly society.  These interpretations appear to be an attempt to justify a theological position rather than to be an attempt to find the clear meaning of the verse.  However, each person must come to his or her own interpretation of this verse.  It can hardly be argued, though,  that we have here one of the most difficult issues to reconcile in the Bible: an issue that will not be fully reconciled until we who are chosen and who have chosen to believe in God meet Him face to face!

Why should we pray for all men if God has already determined who will come to Him and believe in Him?  In some mysterious way, prayer is a very real part of the process by which men come to Him.  We are to pray for everyone that they might be saved.  We must then leave it with God and His wisdom why some will come and some will not come to Him.

b. The one salvation comes through the one mediator between God and man, Jesus Christ, who gave Himself as a ransom for our sins. (2:5-7)
"For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all menthe testimony given in its proper time.  And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostleI am telling the truth, I am not lyingand a teacher of the true faith to the Gentiles."  Salvation through Jesus Christ is the theme of the whole Bible. "A mediator is someone who intervenes between two people for the purpose of restoring peace and friendship, or to form a compact or ratify a covenant."  "Taken from Word Studies in the Greek New Testament Volume II by Kenneth S. Wuest.  Copyright by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company 1952."  Jesus Christ is the perfect mediator between Holy God and sinful-unholy man.  Only He could give His life as a ransom to free sinful man from his slavery to sin and pay the penalty for our sin before Holy God.  Someone has said that the blood that came out of Him on the cross is the scarlet thread that is woven through the fabric of the whole Bible: Abel's sacrifice (Hebrews 11:4); Noah's sacrifice (Genesis 8:20-21); the many sacrifices offered by the nation of Israel; and John the Baptist's announcement that Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29).  Paul's primary purpose was to go into the world and proclaim that Jesus Christ has through His blood opened up the way between God and man so that all who believe might be saved and receive eternal life.

He is the perfect "mediator between God and men" because being both God and man; He represents both God and man.  He is the High Priest who stands between God and man.  He understands what it is like to be a man, for He is a man; He understands what it is like to be God, for He is God.  As our High Priest, He offered the blood of a man.  As God, He offered an absolutely holy and acceptable sacrifice to the Father for our sins.  "When Christ came as high priest of the good things that are already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not man-made, that is to say, not a part of this creation.  He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption.   The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean.  How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!  For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant." (Hebrews 9:11-15) 

Paul is not here today to deliver this message.  Who is to proclaim this message in our time and our world?  We now have the relay baton to take the gospel to our generation.

The great need for godly men in the church (2:8)
"I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing."

Thought Question:  What does this verse tell us about the type of men who are needed in the church?

 

 

In this verse, Paul summarizes what type of men are needed in the church.  Men who are able "to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing."  God desires that the men in the church have cleansed lives.  Here, Paul desires that the men in the church be free from anger and disputing.  Symbolically, they are men who can look on their hands and say that there is nothing unholy there.  Also, they can look on their hearts and say that there is nothing impure there.  God desires that we who are men can look on our hands and our hearts and see holiness there: no bitterness towards any person; no on-going conflict on our part with any person; and no on-going area of unholiness.  Then, and then alone, can we lift up holy hands before God.

The great need for godly women in the church  (2:9-15)
"I also want women to dress modestly with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.  A woman should learn in quietness and full submission.  I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.  For Adam was formed first, then Eve.  And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.  But women will be saved through childbearingif they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety."

Thought Question #1:  What do these verses tell us about the type of women who are needed in the church?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  Do you think that Paul's instruction that a women is not permitted to teach or to have authority over a man was meant only for that culture or meant for all cultures?  Explain your answer.

 

 

Thought Question #3:  What does Paul mean what he says that women should "be silent"?

 

 

1. True and false beauty (2:9-10)

 a. False beautybeauty before men (2:9)
"I also want women to dress modestly with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes,"  In Greek and Roman society (and in our society) there was an emphasis on outward beauty: "in Greek society there were women whose whole life consisted in elaborate dressing and braiding of the hair."  "Taken from The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon by William Barclay.  Copyright by The Westminster Press 1975."  Certainly there is also an emphasis in our society on beauty that comes from expensive clothes and jewelry.  We see what God thinks of this type of beauty in Isaiah 3:16-18:  "The Lord says, 'The women of Zion are haughty, walking along with outstretched necks, flirting with their eyes, tripping along with mincing steps, with ornaments jingling on their ankles.  Therefore the Lord will bring sores on the heads of the women of Zion; the Lord will make their scalps bald.  In that day the Lord will snatch away their finery: the bangles and headbands and crescent necklaces, the earrings and bracelets and veils, the headdresses and ankle chains and sashes, the perfume bottles and charms, the signet rings and nose rings, the fine robes and the capes and cloaks, the purses and mirrors, and the linen garments and tiaras and shawls."  False beauty is when a woman seeks to draw attention to herself-to impress people with her beauty and wealth.  God desires, as Paul says here, that women "dress modestly, with decency and propriety."

b. True beauty (2:10)
"but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God."  True beauty is what is beautiful before God.  Listen to what God said to Samuel in I Samuel 16:7:  "The Lord does not look at the things man looks at.  Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."  Clothing that is beautiful before God is the clothing that does not distract from the beauty of a woman that comes from within.  "Your adornment should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes.  Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight.  For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful." (I Peter 3:3     5)  Instead of clothing themselves with expensive clothing, Paul urges women to clothe themselves with the beauty of good works.  A woman by the name of Tabitha (Dorcas) described in Acts 9:36-43 had this type of beauty.  She was "always doing good and helping the poor."  When she died... "All the widows stood around him, [Peter] crying and showing him the robes and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was still with them."  She was so beautiful before God that He chose to use Peter to raise her from the dead!  She was a truly beautiful woman.  She did not draw attention to herself but to the beauty of godliness!

2. True and false strength (2:11-14)
"A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner."

a. False strength
In the world's eyes, those that are powerful are those who are in charge, those who are in authority.  In III John 9, we learn of Diotrephes who loved to be first.  Undoubtedly the women at Ephesus were following their natural desires and were seeking to be first; they were seeking to be in authority over the men in their church and they were seeking to be teachers and leaders over the men.  But, as we see in verses 13 and 14, seeking to take the lead over men does not lead to strength but to weakness!  When we seek to leave God's plan for us and seek to do what we want to do, does it lead to strength or weakness?  Would a squirrel who leaves the trees to do his own thing by swimming in streams and making dams find he is at his strongest; or does a beaver find his greatest strength comes when he is climbing trees?

Paul uses Eve as an example of what happens when a woman leaves God's plan and takes the leadership over a man.  She was deceived by Satan and led her husband into the disaster of the fall of man.  As we are told in I Corinthians 11:8-9:  "For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman, but woman for man."  When Eve took over first place from the man who, she did not become stronger; we all became weaker!  Whenever women take the leadership over men, they and all of us do not become stronger, we all become weaker.

Verses 11 and 12 say the following:  "A woman should learn in quietness and full submission.  I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent."  These verses provide some real problems about the role of women in the church (not to mention the negative response our society has to these words).  Does Paul mean that the minute women enter a church building that they have to be absolutely quiet?  This would mean that they could not even correct or verbally give instructions to their children in a church building.  But, in I Corinthians 11:5, Paul says something that seems to contradict what he says here in I Timothy:  "And every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head."

How can women pray and prophesy and also be silent at the same time?  It would appear that Paul is asking the impossible.  Later in the very same book of I Corinthians (14:33-34), he says something very similar to what he said in I Timothy:  "As in all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in the churches.  They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in church."  How can we reconcile these apparently contradictory statements, women are to pray and prophesy with their heads covered, but they are not to speak at all in the church?

It would appear that the real issue is one of submission.  We can say children should be silent in the church services, but there are times when we ask the children to say something.  We are disturbed when an out of control child disturbs a church service, but we are blessed when a child shares a gem of childlike wisdom at an appropriated time in a service.  In Paul's time, it was culturally inappropriate for a wife not to have her head covered.  It was a sign of her not submitting to her husband.  In our culture, a wife can be submissive to her husband's leadership and not have her head covered.  (It is also possible for a woman to have her head covered and not be in submission to her husband's leadership.)  In Paul's time it was culturally inappropriate for a woman to speak in public, in much the same way as it inappropriate for women to speak out in some Arabic countries.  What we need to do is to distinguish between what is cultural and what is universal.

Few believe that all women of all time are to have their head covered.  This was clearly a cultural practice of Paul's time.  But most Christians would agree that the Bible teaches very clearly that women are not to be pastors or leaders over a church.  The answer to our dilemma appears to be that women are allowed to speak when they speak in an orderly and submissive way (such as praying and prophesying with the head covered), but they are to be silent and allow the male leadership to direct the church and to teach the Scriptures.

What does it mean for a woman to be silent in the church?  She should not speak out at inappropriate times; she should not be trying to take charge of the church;
and she should not be in the authoritative position of teaching men what the Bible says they are to do.  Notice that Paul does not give a cultural reason why women should not teach or take authority over a man, but he uses Adam and Eve.  It is obvious that it is God's pattern, beginning with Adam and Eve that men are to be in leadership over women, and not the opposite.  Eve took the leadership over Adam and, after being fooled by Satan's deception, led her man away from God.  For this reason, women should not follow Eve's pattern and should be willing to put themselves under the male leadership in a church.

b. True strength
True strength comes from entrusting ourselves to our all-powerful and loving God.  Women who have the greatest strength and power are those who "learn in quietness and full submission."  The strong woman is she who submits entirely to God's divine plan for her.  God's strength is found in women who are still and quiet before God.  "This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says:  'In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.'"  Isaiah 30:15  See also Psalm 46:10  We are strong when we acknowledge that God is in charge and find our strength from submitting to Him and relying upon His strength!

3. True and false freedom (2:15)

a. False freedom
A refrain in a rock and roll song says, "It's my life and I'll do what I want!"  This is the world's version of freedom.  Our modern women's liberation movement believes that women will be free when they do whatever they want to do.  Particularly, women will be free when they come out from under all authority of men.  Has the women's liberation movement set women free?  Certainly there has been much good done through this movement in righting many wrongs done against women.  But are women free when they are not under the authority of fathers, husbands and pastors?  Few would deny that our families are growing weaker and not stronger.  And what has happened is that once again, as did Eve, the woman has sought to take over the leadership from men; once again there have been disastrous results.

b. True freedom
True freedom for women is not freedom from men's authority, but freedom from sin!  And how will women be saved from sin's control?  "But women will be saved through childbearingif they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety."  Women and men are saved from sin as they follow after God's selfless plan for them.  Men are to work by the sweat of their brow to grow food from a weed-infested land.  See Genesis 3:17-19  Childbirth and its pain is part of God's plan to restrain sin and free women from the hold of sin. See Genesis 3:16  When men and women are fulfilling these tasks, sin and selfishness are lessened in our world.

The man who is working hard to provide for his family's needs is less likely to be self-centered than the man who lazily lies around the house.  The director of a boys' home for boys with behavior problems noticed when even a few boys were involved in a work project at the home, it restrained the disorderly and destructive behavior of the boys.  Men's work has a restraining effect on evil.

For the women, child-bearing and child-raising has the same type of effect.  It restrains evil in society.  It provides her with a holy and selfless work.  Legalizing abortion has encouraged the ultimate in selfishness and has removed this restraint on sin.  It has opened up our society to all kinds of evil.  The Christian woman, most importantly, has God's life within her so that she can seek to live a life of "faith, love and holiness."  The woman and man who seek these qualities will find true freedom from sin!

4. Conclusion:
There is a great need in the church for women with true beauty, true strength, and who are experiencing true freedom.

The great need for godly leaders in the church (3:1-13)

1. The qualifications for Overseers (Elders) (3:1-7)
"Here is a trustworthy saying:  If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task.  Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.  He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect.  (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God's church?)  He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil.  He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil's trap."

Thought Question #1:  Why is it "a noble task" to set one's heart on being an overseer?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  After you have read these qualifications, you might think, "How can anyone meet these qualifications?"  How, then, can we use this list to choose our elders?

 

 

There are three terms that refer to church leaders that are used interchangeably in the Bible; overseer (bishop), elder (presbyter), and shepherd (pastor).  Notice how these terms are used interchangeably in Acts 20:  "From Miletus, Paul sent to Ephesus for the elders of the church."  "Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers.  Be shepherds of the church of God which he bought with his own blood."  (Acts 20:17,28)   Paul here tells Timothy the following:  "If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer he desires a noble task."  In many cases, we might question someone's motives who strives to be in a place of leadership in an organization.  Why is being in a place of leadership so important to him, we might ask.  But seeking for a place of leadership in the church, Paul tells us, is a noble task.  And it is a goal that we can "set our heart on" ("stretch ourselves out for" is what the Greek word means) and we can "desire" (long after it with great passion).

Why is it good for a man to desire to be a leader in the church?  Because leaders in the church are to have pure motives, godly character, and desire to serve, to desire to be this type of leader is a good pursuit.  "If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer [in this way] he desires a noble task."  It honorable to seek after pure motives and godly character so that we can be an acceptable servant-leader in God's church.  Obviously, a person who does not have pure motives can seek to lead in God's church.  In fact, the church at Ephesus that Timothy was pastoring had those who were not qualified to be leaders and who were seeking to use the church for their own personal gain.  Paul gives Timothy these instructions so that Timothy will choose only leaders for God's church who meet God's qualifications.  Now, we will look at God's qualifications for leadership in His church.

a. "Above reproach"
Wuest defines this requirement for elders in the following way: "The word 'blameless' anepilambano, made up of lambano, 'to take,' and epi, 'upon'; thus, the compound means 'to lay hold upon,' and all this is stated in the negative by having prefixed to it the letter, Alpha, making the entire word mean, 'one who cannot be laid hold upon.'  That is a bishop must be of such a spotless character that no one can lay hold upon anything in his life which would be of such a nature as to cast reproach upon the cause of the Lord Jesus."  "Taken from Word Studies in the Greek New Testament by Kenneth S. Wuest.  Copyright by Wm. B. Eerdman's Publishing Company 1952."

"Above reproach" is the general heading for the entire list of requirements for an elder or an overseer.  In short, there should be nothing in his character that anyone can grab hold of and make a just accusation against him.  It does not, of course, mean that he is perfectly sinless; but that his character is consistent and mature enough so that nothing in his character will bring reproach to Jesus Christ.

Timothy had this type of character.  Listen to what Paul heard about him when he returned to the area where he had visited on his first missionary journey.  "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.  The brothers of Lystra and Iconium spoke well of him." (Acts 16:1-2)  The list of requirements reveals that the elder is to live a controlled life and that he is not to be controlled by those forces that can take over our lives.

b. "The husband of but one wife"
"The Greek is mias (one) gunaidos (woman) andra (man).....The literal translation is, 'a man of one woman.'....Thus, one can translate, 'a one-wife sort of a husband,' or 'a one-woman sort of a man.'"  "Taken from Word Studies in the Greek New Testament Volume II by Kenneth S. Wuest.  Copyright by Wm. B Eerdmans Publishing Company." (page 53)

What does this requirement for an elder require of a man?  Does it mean that an elder must be someone who never remarries?  For example, can a man be an elder whose wife dies and he remarries?  The Bible does not forbid a man to remarry if his wife dies.  In fact, the Bible says that there is nothing immoral or wrong for a man to remarry if his spouse dies (see Romans 7:1-3).  The Bible even encourages a widow to remarry (see I Timothy 5:14).  Also, does this requirement mean that an elder must be married (not single)?  Again, this verse does not appear to exclude single men from eldership for the emphasis in this requirement is on the one-woman man, and does not emphasize that he should be a married man.  Paul was not married, but he was qualified to be a leader in the churches.

Next, does a one-woman man mean that someone who has once been divorced will never be qualified to be an elder?  There are many different circumstances in which a person can be divorced.  Someone may be divorced at the age of 18 after an immature decision to get married.  Someone may marry and get divorced long before he becomes a Christian.  Someone can get divorced because he is a Christian and his non-Christian wife leaves him.  He can get divorced because his wife leaves him for another man.  May none of these men ever become a leader in the church?  And yet the first verse of this chapter says, "If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer he desires a noble task."  Should this verse read anyone but someone who has once experienced a divorce?  The verse says "anyone."

This view that the divorced man is the one man who can never aspire to be an elder is, then, totally different from all the other requirements for being an elder.  A man may at one time in his life be a "lover of money," but after maturing as a Christian he may grow to the place where he is no longer a lover of money, and thereby qualify to become an elder.  A man at one time may be inhospitable and later be hospitable and be qualified to be an elder.  Is "a one-woman man" the one requirement that forever disqualifies someone?  The context and the other qualifications for an elder tell us that "a one-woman man" is also a character quality that a man may develop.  A man may have divorced as a young man, then become a Christian and after a number of years demonstrate that he is a dedicated husband and be "a one-woman man."  At one time it was not in his character a one woman-man, but he became a Christian and matured and became "a one-woman man."  The way that some believe, one man may have his wife leave him for another man and then never be able to become a leader in the church; another may be completely promiscuous, but never marry and he may become qualified, years later, when his lifestyle has totally changed.  Augustine, for example, was this type of man before he became a Christian.

This qualification, within the context, is that an elder must be a one-woman man at the time he is being considered for leadership in the church (just as the other qualifications in the list are based on what a man is like at the time he is being examined).  A man, before he can be qualified to be an elder must, then, demonstrate that he has developed the unquestionable character quality of being one who is totally committed to one woman.

c. "Temperate"
Our word sober fits the meaning of the Greek word translated "temperate."  The elder is to be one who is seen as being clear-headed.  He characteristically makes decisions based on clear thinking.

d. "Self-controlled"
"Plato defined it as 'the mastery of pleasure and desire.'...Trench describes sophrosune as 'the condition of entire command over the passions and desires, so that they receive no further allowance than that which law and right reason admit and approve.'"  "Taken from The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon by William Barclay.  Copyright by The Westminster Press 1975."  Simply put, the elder is not one who is controlled by emotions and desires, but he is able to consistently do that which is right and wise.  He is not a thermometer that is controlled by his environment, but he is a thermostat who controls his environment.  There is a need for this type of stable leadership.

e. "Respectable"
Our word "cosmos" comes from the Greek word kosmios.  "Cosmos" is the word for order, and has the opposite meaning of the word "chaos" which describes disorder.  The Greek word used here, "kosmios," is the word for orderly, dignified and respectable.  The elder's life must not be in chaos, but he must be one who lives an orderly life and who has an orderly mind.

f. "Hospitable"
The Greek word is philoxenonXenon means stranger or foreigner and philo means love or like.  Therefore, the Greek word means a lover of strangers or someone who enjoys being hospitable to those outside of his home.  The elder is to be one who enjoys having other people in his home, as opposed to someone who dreads having visitors.  His home is to be a place where others know that they are welcome.  A local church that is led by elders who meet this qualification will also be a place where newcomers will be welcomed and warmly received.

g. "Able to teach"
Elders need to be those who have matured to the place where they are able to teach.  Maturity leads to one having the ability to teach (see Hebrews 5:11-13); for he can teach others what he has learned from God's Word and applied to his life.  Elders are those who have reached this stage of maturity and are able to teach.  In the list of qualifications for elders that Paul gives in his letter to Titus, we find a similar qualification:  "He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it." (Titus 1:9)  The elders need to be able to teach sound doctrine and recognize and refute false doctrine; just as Paul is doing throughout this letter to Timothy.  Someone has said that shepherds are to tend sheep and drive away wolves.  So elders are to build the church in sound doctrine and drive away the false teachers.

h. "not given to drunkenness"
The Greek words are me paraoinonPara is beside and oinon is wine.  So, together the word says beside wine or one who sits beside his wine.  me comes before paraionon. It carries the meaning, "not."  So, together the Greek words say...not one who sits besides his wine.  In modern terms, we would say that the type of person who regularly sits beside his wine is a drinker.  He and alcohol are commonly seen together.

The word goes on also to mean a person who drinks and is also characteristically quarrelsome because of the effect of wine.  So, the elder is not to be someone who is regularly by his wine and is known for drinking and then getting out of control.  In Paul's time the drinking of wine was common, but the elder was not to be someone who had become controlled by alcohol.

i. "Not violent but gentle"
The Greek words for "not violent" are me plekten; not a striker.  The elder cannot be someone who is ready to fight physically or verbally when things do not go his way.  On the other hand, he is "gentle."  "The ideas of patience, forbearance, and yielding are to be understood in this word.  This sort of disposition will avoid much contention and will make the overseer's work more effective."  "Taken from The Pastoral Epistles by Homer A. Kent.  Copyright by Moody Press 1958."  The elder is to be someone who is not quick to anger but quick to listen.  See James 1:19-20

j. "Not quarrelsome"
The Greek word is Amachon; not (the a) a fighter (machon).  He is not a person that is always ready to fight or argue.  He has a peaceable disposition.

k. "Not a lover of money"
The Greek word is aphilarguron.  Not (the a) a lover (phileo) of silver (arguros).  Not a silver lover or a lover of money.  In II Timothy 3:2, Paul tells Timothy that in the last days people will be "lovers of money."  Elders are not to have as their first love the love of money.  They need to be those who are controlled by God and not by the pursuit of money. See Matthew 6:19-24 and I Timothy 6:9-10,17 (We can see from these verses in I Timothy 6 that the false teachers in Ephesus were lovers of money.)

l. "He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect."
The way a man manages his home reflects his capacity for church leadership.  In the parable of the talents, Jesus quotes a master as saying:  "Well done good and faithful servant!  You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things."  The home becomes a training place for leadership in the church.  How can we measure successful leadership in the home?  Paul says he is to lead his home "well."  He is to lead his home in such a way that those who look on the home say that this home is in good hands and is being managed well.  Managing his home well includes the management of his children.  He is qualified if his children respectfully obey him.  In Titus we are told that he should be "a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient." (Titus 1:6)  Church life follows the same pattern as home life.  If we want a well-ordered church, we need leaders who have also been able to lead their families to be well-ordered homes.

m. "He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall  under the same judgment as the devil."
The Greek word from which is translated "recent convert" is the Greek word from which we get our word "neophyte" (new plant).  So, one whose life is freshly sprouted should not be a leader.  Then, Paul tells Timothy why the new convert should not be a leader.  If a new Christian is suddenly elevated to leadership, he will also quickly elevate his opinion of himself.  The word translated "conceited" means someone whose mind is wrapped in smoke because of his pride (his mind is blinded by a smoke screen of pride).

The new convert who is immediately put in a place of importance will tend to get an exaggerated sense of self-importance.  He will probably come to believe that God needs him; whereas, the very opposite is true.  Peter was obviously not ready for leadership during his first three years with Jesus.  Remember at one point he took Jesus "aside and began to rebuke him." (Matthew 16:22)  When a new convert gets conceited in this way, he will fall into the same judgment as the devil did when he became conceited and desired to be like God.  See Isaiah 14:12-14 and Ezekiel 28:12-17  As the devil sought to elevate himself and was humbled and thrown down, so the new convert who is too quickly elevated to a place of leadership will also come tumbling down from his high perch!  So, an elder should not be a recent convert.

n. "A good reputation with outsiders"
It is possible to have a bad reputation for the right reasons.  Paul was persecuted in many ways because he was a Christian.  See II Corinthians 11:23-25  Stephen was stoned to death because of his Christian testimony.  See Acts 7  Jesus predicted that the world would hate us.  See John 15:18-20  See also I John 3:12-13  But it is also possible to have a bad reputation for the wrong reasons.  "If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler." (I Peter 4:15)

An elder, however, should have a good reputation for the right reasons.  The Bible gives us some guidelines on what we can do so that we will have a good reputation for the right reasons:  "Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life will win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody." (I Thessalonians 4:11-12)  "Be wise in the way you act towards outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.  Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone." (Colossians 4:5-6)

The most effective way to reach people with the good news is to reach them in the regular routines of life, as they see the type of person God has made us into.  A leader in the church needs to have a good reputation with outsiders "so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil's trap."  If anyone has a just accusation against a leader in the church, then that leader will fall into disgrace for being a poor representative of Jesus Christ and His church.  Also, he will provide the devil with ammunition to justly attack the church!  He will fall into one of Satan's snares.  A leader with a deserved bad reputation is unstable and easily defeated by the devil.  So, the church should choose leaders who have a good reputation with outsiders.

2. The qualifications for servant leaders in the church (3:8-13)
"Deacons, likewise, are to be men worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain.  They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience.  They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons.  In the same way, their wives are to be women worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything.  A deacon must be the husband of but one wife and must manage his children well.  Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus."

Thought Question #1:  "Deacon" is a transliteration of the Greek word diaconos.  Diaconos is best translated by our English word "servant."  What should be our diaconos/servant positions in the church today?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  Do you believe that there should be "deaconesses" or women deacons?  Explain your answer

 

 

The NIV translates the Greek word diaconos with the word "deacon."  The Greek word Diaconos means servant.  Like our word baptism, we have taken a Greek word and made it into an English word.  Diaconos is the Greek word for "servant."  So, the title of this office could be "servants."  For example, they could be called "servants of the church."  They are those who hold positions of responsibility in the church.  Examples of servant leaders in the modern-day church are as follows:  the church treasurer, the Sunday School superintendent, the board of trustees, and others.  Should we not have a list of qualifications by which we choose those who have these important places of responsibility in the church?  Do we choose just anyone to be our church treasurer, to be our Sunday school teachers, and to hold other key positions within the church?  Paul provides us here with a list of guidelines so that we can choose qualified and godly people for these critical positions of service in the church.

a. "Men worthy of respect"
These words translate one Greek word.  It could be a summary of what is necessary for someone to be a deacon or a servant of the church; like the "above reproach" at the beginning of the qualifications for elders.  Deacons should be those who are respected and have dignity about them because of the way they live.  The rest of the qualifications for a deacon describe what a dignified life is like.

b. "sincere"
The word translated "sincere" is actually two Greek words: me dilogous, meaning, not double-tongued.  Deacons are to be those who are sincere in what they say.  They are not to be those who are insincere and say one thing and mean something else.  The double-tongued or insincere person says what will help his position at the time.  The single-tongued or sincere person unwaveringly says what he means.  The insincere person will say one thing about you when you are not there and another thing to your face.  A respectable, sincere person who is qualified to be a deacon or servant of the church can be counted on to consistently say the same things to everyone.

c. "Not indulging in much wine"
This qualification does not demand that someone must not drink any alcohol to be qualified to be a deacon.  But, to be qualified to be a deacon, a person must not be one who is controlled by alcohol.

d. "Not pursuing dishonest gain"
Scrooge in the Christmas Carol is someone who pursued money even if it meant that others would need to suffer.  "Not pursuing dishonest gain" is a translation of the Greek word aischrokerdeis.  It is made up of aischros—disgraceful and kerdos—gain.  So, it means those who seek after disgraceful gain.  If the church treasurer is one of those in the modern church that would be classified as a deacon or servant, then that person clearly should not be a person who pursues dishonest gain.  One large church was totally destroyed by a church treasurer who it turns out was using money from the church treasury to finance an investment scam that netted him thousands of dollars.  He got people in the church to invest in diamonds.  He doubled their investment with money from the church treasury.  When they made an even larger investment, he left town with the money.  The church disintegrated because of this treasurer who was obviously seeking dishonest gain.  People who hold offices of responsibility (deacons or servants of the church) must be those who are seeking after God's riches above all else, and not those who are primarily seeking after the world's riches.

e. "They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience."
"Deep truths" comes from the Greek word musterion: the truths of the faith that have been a mystery until they were revealed through Jesus Christ and the Apostles.  A person is qualified to be a deacon when he or she holds on to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience.  "As Weiss puts it, 'It is as if the pure conscience were the vessel in which the mystery of the faith is preserved.'"  "Taken from Word Studies in the Greek New Testament Volume II by Kenneth S. Wuest.  Copyright by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company 1952."  We hold on to God's truth when we choose to respond in a morally pure way to what God's Word has to say to us.  God's Word and its eternal truths slip away from us (and us from it) when we do not keep a clear conscience before God.  For a person to be qualified to be a deacon or a servant of the church, he must be one who keeps hold of God's truth with a clear conscience.

f. "They must first be tested and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons."
Christians are to go through a testing period before they can be selected as deacons.  This is how they chose the first deacons as recorded in Acts 6:1-5.  There was a problem in the early church because there were complaints over how the food was distributed to the widows.  The solution was to choose seven "to wait on tables." (to deacon or serve tables)  "Brothers choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom.  We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.  This proposal pleased the whole group.  They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism."  They chose qualified men to serve tables.  These had proven themselves to be qualified to have a servant responsibility of leadership within the church.  We are to choose qualified people for the servant leadership positions in our modern-day churches.

g. The qualifications for women deacons:
In the NIV it says "the wives"; but the Greek words are "the women."  There are two possibilities for what is meant here: (1) the wives of deacons or (2) women deacons or deaconesses.  Actually, a third possibility appears to be the best interpretation and that is that he is referring to women who have offices of responsibility in the church: our women Sunday School teachers or a woman treasurer.  Here are the reasons why a number of respected scholars believe that Paul was not referring to the wives of deacons, but to women with a servant responsibility in the church:  (1) Deacons (3:8) and the women's qualifications (3:11) are introduced with the exactly the same two words: "likewise, are to be men worthy of respect" in 3:8 are only two Greek words; "In the same way,...worthy of respect" found in 3:11 are translations of the very same two words.  It would appear that Paul now begins to describe the unique qualifications for women who are to hold the position of the office of deacon or servant leadership in the church.  (2) These women must have the very same qualifications as deacons except that Paul also adds that they are not to be malicious talkers.  (3) There are no qualifications listed for elders' wives.  Do the wives of deacons need to be qualified and not the wives of elders?  Rather, there are no women elders, but there are women deacons or servants of the church.  (4) Phoebe, in Romans 16:1, is called a servant or deacon of the church.  (5) There is no possessive pronoun in front of women (no "their" women or "their " wives).  It simply says "women."  (6) From historical accounts we know that there were women deacons in the early church.  "About AD 111 Pliny, Governor of Bithynia, reports that he has questioned under torture two maidservants who were called deaconesses . . . concerning Christian rites."  "Taken from The New Bible Dictionary.  Copyright by Wm. B. Eerdman Publishing Company 1962."   After this account by Pliny, we have no written accounts about deaconesses in the church until the 3rd century (a gap of about 200 years).  That, of course, does not mean that there were no deaconesses in the church until the third century; but only that there is no mention about deaconesses in the literature of that period. 

(1) "Women worthy of respect" 
Like male deacons, they are to be those in their church that are respected.  Paul, then, gives a list of qualifications for women who are "worthy of respect."

(2) "not malicious talkers"
The Greek word is "diabolos" from which we get our word "devil."  It is the word that means "slander."  The devil is a slanderer.  Women servants of the church are not to be those who help the devil in his work of slandering people.  Instead, they are to have the respectable quality of not being those who slander others.

(3) "Temperate"
The same qualification that is listed for elders in 3:2.  The deaconess is also to be a clear-headed, sober person who is respected for her clear thinking.

(4) "Trustworthy in everything"
The Greek word is pistos; faithful or trustworthy; in short, a dependable person.

h. "The husband of but one wife"
Paul, is once more talking about male deacons.  We find here exactly the same qualification for deacons as for elders.  See 3:2

i. "Must manage his children and his household well"
They are to have their home in order before they can have a position of servant leadership in the church.  They are to be those who have done a good job with their children and their households.

j. The final result: "Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus."
Those who serve well over a period of time have done that which is looked upon highly by God and by God's people.  Jesus said that those who are great in the church are those who are your servants. See Matthew 20:26-28  When we serve, our lives are going in the right direction.  Someone has said that some people climb the ladder of success only to discover that it is leaning against the wrong wall.  The right wall for the Christian is the wall of service.  That is the wall that leads to success in the eyes of God's people and it will lead to success before Jesus Christ when He says, "Well done, good and faithful servant!" See Matthew 25:23

 Paul says that when they and we have served well, it will lead to us having "great assurance" before God.  When we live a life of service over a period of time, it will lead to our growing in confidence that we are indeed going in the right direction with our lives.  Paul finishes his qualifications for deacons with this encouragement to all who choose to serve and to all who are selected to positions of service within the church.  You and your work are of great value before God and God's people! 

The exalted purpose of the church (3:14-16)
In these short three verses we find both the purpose of this letter to Timothy and the purpose of the church.  Why did Paul write the letter?  He had just left Ephesus and was now in Macedonia (see 1:3).  In 3:14-15, we find these words:  "Although I hope to come to you soon, I am writing you these instructions so that, if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God's household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth."

Thought Question:  How is the church "the pillar and foundation of the truth"?

 

 

In case he was delayed in returning to Ephesus, he wanted Timothy to know the proper way for God's people to conduct themselves in God's church.  How should they conduct themselves?  How should we conduct ourselves?  They and we are to conduct ourselves in such a way that there is no question that we are "God's household . . . the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth."

The medical profession is the pillar and foundation for bringing medicine and health to our society.  The church is the basis through which God and truth are revealed to our world.  The degree to which our nation is healthy has to do primarily with how our medical professionals conduct themselves.  The degree to which our nation learns about God and His truth has to do primarily with how we in the church conduct ourselves!

"Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great:  He appeared in a body, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory."

Thought Question:  What is "the mystery of godliness"?

 

 

The way those in the medical profession conduct themselves and the way we conduct ourselves is very different.  For, as Paul says at the beginning of verse 16:  "Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great."  What is the mystery of godliness and why is it a great mystery?  The mystery of godliness is that it can only come from God!  We cannot be godly, only God can be godly!  But He has revealed to us His plan to bring godliness to us.  "He appeared in a body, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory."

What is exciting in the Christian life is not what we do for God, but what God does for, to, and through us.  Verse sixteen was probably a hymn of the early church.  What, then, is the mystery of godliness that is revealed in this hymn?  God and godliness came to us through God appearing in a body.  The natural and supernatural world came together in Jesus Christ!  The flesh revealed His humanity; the Spirit of God revealed His divinity.  "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.  We have seen his glory, glory of the One and only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." (John 1:14)

He was vindicated by the Spirit—God's Spirit proved He was who He claimed to be:  The temple guards said that "No one ever spoke the way this man does." (John 7:46)  He drove out demons "by the Spirit of God." (Matthew 12:28)  "He committed no sin and no deceit was found in his mouth." (I Peter 2:22)  And "through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by His resurrection from the dead." (Romans 1:14)  He was watched by angels and proclaimed in the world.  We are told that what is going on in the world is like a great drama that is slowly unfolding before the angels.  See I Corinthians 4:9, 11:10, Ephesians 3:8-10, I Timothy 5:21  Jesus Christ has the central role in this mighty spectacle.  The angels were and are intensely interested in His life.  See I Peter 1:11-12

In the world of His time and in our world today, He has stirred up great interest.  During His time, great crowds came to see and hear if what men proclaimed about Him was true.  And today He continues to be proclaimed to individuals and to great crowds!  In His time and since, men and women have believed that He is indeed the One sent from God.  Finally, He was taken up once more into glory as he victoriously returned to the place of glory from which He came.

"Beyond all question the mystery of godliness is great."  The church is to be godly with the godliness that came to man through Jesus Christ.  In Colossians 1:27, Paul tells us the only way that a man can be godly:  "Christ in you, the hope of glory."  Our mission is to reveal to our world the godliness that can only come from God.

The important place of personal discipline in church life (4:1-16)
The Christian life is a disciplined life.  But Satan also has his version of the disciplined life, a version that appears to be religious but does not lead to God or to godliness.  In chapter four we will see a contrast between false and true godliness.

1. False and demonic discipline – abstaining from what God wants us to enjoy (4:1-5)
"The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.  Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.  They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.  For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer."

Thought Question#1:  What do these verses teach us about how we can recognize demonic counterfeits of the truth?  Can you give any modern-day examples?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  According to these verses, how do men become false teachers?

 

 

Thought Question #3:  According to these verses, how can we enjoy most fully that which God has given us to enjoy?

 

 

In chapter 3, verses 14 through 16, we learned that the church is the way in which God reveals Himself to the world.  But the church can also be the way in which Satan reveals himself to the world.  At the beginning of chapter 4, Paul gives God's Spirit's prediction that in the later times some would leave the faith and would instead be taught by "deceiving spirits" and "demons."  We will learn in these verses how men fall away from God (apostasy) and how we can recognize false teaching.

a. How men fall away from the faith (4:1-2)
Paul tells Timothy here that he should not be surprised by the false teaching at Ephesus, for the Spirit predicted that in the latter times (the time immediately after the beginning of the church and beyond) men would be led away from the faith by demonic spirits. See Acts 20:29-30; II Peter 2:1; and Jude 17,19 for times when God's Spirit predicted that there would be a falling  away from the faith.  How does this happen?  We are told here very clearly that men are drawn away by false teachers who are not led by God's Spirit but by deceiving and demonic spirits.

In Revelation 12:4, we learn that there were angels that followed Satan in rejecting God.  These fallen angels or demons are our invisible foes, and they are actively seeking to find individuals who are receptive to them and who will teach their doctrines.  In churches across our country, many teach as they are controlled by the Holy Spirit; but there are also many who teach and preach who are controlled by unholy spirits.

In these verses we learn about these teachers and why they are able to appear to be teachers of God's Word while they are actually teaching Satan's lies.  They are "hypocritical liars."  The Greek word from which we get hypocrites describes someone who puts on a mask as an actor of that time put on a mask.  When these false teachers teach, they put on a mask and act like they are God's men teaching God's Word; but they know that they are deceiving those that they are teaching.  They put on their outside something that is quite different from what in on their inside.  "For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen masquerading as apostles of Christ.  And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.  It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness.  Their end will be what their actions deserve." (II Corinthians 11:13-15)  See also Matthew 23:27-28

When the communists conquered Romania, church members were shocked to see many pastors of their churches wearing Russian army uniforms.  These communist soldiers had been masquerading as pastors to infiltrate and eventually conquer Romania.  In San Jose, California, a new pastor came to a Baptist church near the state college campus.  Members noticed changes beginning to take place.  Some fought the changes, but many also left the church.  In the late 1960s, that church had become totally different from when the pastor first came to the church, for in its basement were the offices of the Students for a Democratic Society and the Black Panthers.  The pastor had effectively taken over that church was using it for his communist political purposes.  Satan has his henchmen infiltrating God's church.  They were a threat to the church at Ephesus in Timothy's time, and they are a threat to our churches and the church today!

How can men become false teachers?  Paul answers this question in verse 2: "whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron."  The Greek word which is translated "sear" is the word from which we get our word "cauterize."  If you or I reject and turn away from the pleading of our conscience, we can do what these false teachers did: our conscience can become deadened until it no longer cries out to us.  These false teachers had chosen wrong over right at some point or over a period of time and their consciences had become deadened to feeling guilty, like scar tissue is deadened to pain. See Ephesians 4:17-19

Our skin responds to temperature and pain, but scar tissue that is caused by a burn no longer responds to temperature or pain.  So, the conscience that is seared is no longer sensitive to when the person does something wrong.  They can do wrong and not even feel bad about it.  These false teachers (and our false teachers today) can twist truth for their own selfish purposes and not have any feelings of guilt.  They have reached the point where they can lie and put on a false mask of righteousness without their consciences bothering them at all while they carry on their unholy masquerades.  This hardening process explains how a man like Jim Jones could lead a religious movement while at the same time being involved in promiscuous sexual affairs with those in his movement.  It explains why he was eventually able to lead them to commit mass suicide.  It explains how a movement like the Children of God can come to the place where they seek to add new members to their movement through sexual relationships ("flirty fishing").  And, of course, many more unholy examples can be added to this list of what happens when demons get hold of false teachers and people are led away from the true faith.

b. How to recognize the false teaching of the false teacher (4:3-5)
False teaching tends to lead its followers in one of two or both of two directions: (1) toward license (antinomianism, "anti"—against and "nomos"—law; meaning you can ignore all laws—you can indulge yourself all you want with no boundaries), (2) toward abstention from all enjoyments (many rigid laws—asceticism).  The false teaching that Paul is attacking here is the second variety—asceticism.  "This kind of thing came to a head in the monks and hermits of the fourth century.  They went away and lived in the Egyptian desert, entirely cut off from men.  They spent their lives mortifying the flesh.  One never ate cooked food and was famous for his 'fleshlessness.'  Another stood all night by a jutting crag so that it was impossible for him to sleep.  Another was famous because he allowed his body to become so dirty and neglected that vermin dropped from him as he walked.  Another deliberately ate salt in midsummer and then abstained from drinking water.  'A clean body,' they said, 'necessarily means an unclean soul.'"  "Taken from Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon by William Barclay.  Copyright by the Westminster Press 1975."

The false teaching that Paul knew Timothy would need to deal with is described in verse three:  "They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who know and who believe the truth."  These false teachers taught that we become holy by not enjoying what God has given us to enjoy.  An example of this type of teaching is the Roman Catholic practice that priests and nuns cannot be married.  The result of this forced lifetime abstention from the marriage relationship, which God gave to us for our good has been disastrous.  Throughout the history of the Catholic Church, right up to what we have read in our modern newspapers, there have been scandals because of nuns and priests being unsuccessful in curbing their sexual drives.  Most recently there have been many accounts of priests that have been involved in sexual relationships with young boys.

We do not become holy by abstaining from what God has given us, but by receiving and enjoying God's gifts in a holy way.  These three verses explain how we are to receive God's gifts.  First of all, the proper response to all that God gives us is for us to be grateful.  Lack of gratitude is characteristic of unbelief in God.  Unbelief is a purposely ignoring of God.  "For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him." (Romans 1:21)  For the believer, the appropriate response is to be the very opposite of that of the unbeliever.  We are to continually express our gratitude to God for all He gives us to enjoy.

Secondly, what God gives us is to be "consecrated by the Word of God and prayer."  What does Paul mean by these words?  What does "consecrate" mean?  And how can what God created be consecrated by God's Word and by prayer?  "Consecrate" or sanctify means setting something apart so that it will fulfill God's original purpose for it.  Sex, for example, as it is practiced in our society is not usually fulfilling what God had designed for sex.  God's original purpose for sex was that it was to be a physically enjoyable expression of the marriage union that results in children being added to the marriage relationship.  That is the holy and beautiful purpose for which God created sex.  Our society, however, has allowed sex to be expressed in many unholy ways.  We sanctify sex by seeking in God's Word to discover God's purpose for a gift from Him and by thanking Him for the gift.  And prayer is a primary way that we express to God our gratitude for what He has given to us.

The false teachers of Timothy's time taught, and false teachers of today teach, that we are not to enjoy God's gifts but to abstain from them.  The truth is that God wants us to enjoy His gifts to the full.  We enjoy His gifts by seeking to use them in the way He intended for them to be used and by thanking Him for them.

2. True and godly discipline – training oneself in godliness (4:6-10)
"If you point these things out to the brothers, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, brought up in the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed.  Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives' tales; rather, train yourself to be godly.  For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.  This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance (and for this we labor and strive), that we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe."

Thought Question #1:  What are some guidelines found in these verses that will help you to live the fullest life possible?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  There are some Christians who believe that Jesus died only for those who would become Christians.  It is called by the theological term: "limited atonement."  How do you think they explain verse ten which says that Jesus is "the Savior of all men"?

 

 

This section could be titled: "How to get the most out of life."  Paul tells Timothy how to train himself up in godliness.  What will give us the very fullest life possible?  The answer is godliness.  We may not realize it, but godliness is what will fulfill our lives and give us meaning.  Listen to what Jesus said that is recorded for us in Matthew 5:6:  "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled."  If Timothy, many years ago, followed Paul's instructions, he experienced this fullness.  If we follow Paul's instructions today, we will also experience this fullness of life.

a. Timothy was part of the most fulfilling MISSION on this earth (4:6a)
"If you point these things out to the brothers, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus,"  Timothy was a teacher of God's truth.  His purpose was to lead men back to God and His ways.  Through Adam's sin, all men fell away from God; through Jesus Christ a way has been opened back to God.  The highest purpose and the greatest mission in life is to lead men and women back to God and His ways.

b. Timothy was experiencing the fullest NOURISHMENT possible on this earth. (4:6b)
"brought up in the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed."  Timothy was being "brought up"—he was being constantly nourished—by the "truths of the faith and the good teaching that [he] followed."  After Jesus had talked to the woman at the well, "his disciples urged him, 'Rabbi, eat something.'  But he said to them, 'I have food to eat that you know nothing about,' . . . 'My food,' said Jesus, 'is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.'" (John 4:34)  The greatest nourishment is to learn God's will and to do it.  Timothy was experiencing the greatest nourishment in life as He learned God's truth at the feet of Paul and followed in Paul's footsteps in obeying and serving God.  And it is still the fullest nourishment today.  See also Deuteronomy 8:3 and Matthew 4:4; Isaiah 55:1-3; John 6:35; and Revelation 22:17

c. Timothy needed to reject the WORST THREAT to his experiencing the fullest life. (4:7a)
"Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives' tales"  Mankind (with Satan's help) is always coming up with ways to live life without the need for God.  Evolution is an example of a "godless myth."  Evolution is the cornerstone of much of society today.  Many believe that if we can totally eliminate God from our society, we will find the greatest freedom and happiness.  Is the godless part of our society experiencing the fullest life?  The fact that violence is increasing, families are falling apart, and our schools are scrambling to solve their increasingly greater problems, tells us that the "godless myth" of evolution is not a good foundation stone for our society.

In Old Testament times, society was built around the "godless myth" that idols were gods. See Isaiah 44:9-17  Society after society has come up with their own "godless myths" so they can live their lives without God.  Timothy is warned to "have nothing" to do with the "godless myths" of his time.  We also should have nothing to do with "godless myths" that creep up in our society; evolution, the new age movement and many more.

d. Timothy was to exercise himself in the very most fulfilling DISCIPLINE that life has to offer. (4:7b-9)
There is a great deal of emphasis in our society on exercising the physical body.  But, physical exercise is not the very best form of exercise and discipline.  "train yourself to be godly.  For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both present life and the life to come."  When we train ourselves to be godly (compared to seeking to be physically fit), we are seeking to be in character the person that God created us to be.  Physical exercise primarily affects us physically (although it is also of some benefit to us in other ways); seeking to be godly will affect the very deepest and central part of our lives.  We can be physically fit and be a rotten person.  But if we become godly, we have improved who we are on the inside.

Physical fitness is good and profitable, but it becomes less and less attainable as we grow older.  But growing in godliness is possible right up to our last breath on this earth.  "Therefore, we do not lose heart.  Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day." (II Corinthians 4:16)  Physical exercise is totally valueless to us after we die and when our earthly body is no longer with us.  But, we will be able to take with us our reward for living godly lives.  See I Corinthians 3:11-13  See also Phil. 2:6-11; II Timothy 4:7,8  And so, what is the best use of our time, efforts, and discipline?  "Train yourself to be godly"!

e. Timothy had the fullest HOPE. (4:10)
We need to be certain that what we are laboring and striving for in this life is worth the effort.  Not all goals are worthwhile.  Jesus told a parable about a rich man who had produced a good crop and was ready to sit back and enjoy all his riches.  But, he died that very night. See Luke 12:13-21  Godliness is a secure goal and is worth laboring and striving for.  We can be completely secure that godliness is a worthwhile goal during the days of our life in these bodies and that our efforts will be rewarded when our life in these bodies comes to an end.  Because we "have put our hope in the living God, who is the savior of all men, and especially of those who believe," our efforts will have eternal benefit to us.   Hebrews 11:6 tells us the following:  "And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him."  Faith believes that God rewards those who seek Him and seek after His life.  He will reward us both in this life and in the next.  And so, the best use that each of us can make of his or her life is to discipline ourselves to be godly!

The words in verse ten that Jesus is "the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe." create some problems, for it is obvious that not all men will be saved.  Here are some possible interpretations of Paul's words:  (1) He is the Savior of all kinds of men. (2) He is the Savior of men from all nations and races.  (3) He desires to be the Savior of all men (though all men will not choose for Him to be their Savior). See I Tim 2:3  (4) He is available to be the Savior of all men (though all men will not choose Him as their Savior).  (5) He is the Savior of all men in that He saves all men in ways other than by giving them eternal life.  The best explanation appears to be that Jesus is available to all men to be their Savior, but actually saves only those who believe in Him.  What Paul says here is similar to what John says in I John 2:2: "He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world."  Jesus is the atoning sacrifice for all men, and thereby the Savior of all men.  But, it is up to us whether or not we receive or reject Him as Savior.  We receive Jesus the Savior by faith in what He did for us on the cross.

f. Timothy needed to give himself fully to church leadership at Ephesus even though there was opposition to him. (4:11-16)
"Command and teach these things.  Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.  Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching.  Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you.  Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress.  Watch your life and doctrine closely.  Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers."

Thought Question #1:  Can you become intimidated when someone criticizes you?  Timothy apparently had the same tendency.  What are some guidelines given by Paul in these verses that can help each of us not to be intimidated by criticism?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  What do these verses tell us about what should be an essential part of church gatherings?

 

 

Thought Question #3:  What do these verses teach us about how we should live our Christian lives today?

 

 

(1) He needed to preach, teach, and live with confidence and authority (4:11,12a)
"Command and teach these things.  Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young,"  Because of Timothy's temperament and age, he had an inclination toward being intimidated.  We get an insight into his temperament in II Timothy 1:7-8:  "For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.  So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner."  Timothy needed to be encouraged not to be timid or ashamed.  It would appear, then, that he tended toward being timid and ashamed.  Also, because Paul tells Timothy not to allow anyone to look down on his age, we can conclude that he also was susceptible to being criticized for his young age.

We cannot be certain how old Timothy was when Paul wrote this first letter to him, but we can make an educated guess.  It is calculated that Paul's second missionary journey, where the young man Timothy first began traveling with Paul, was about AD 50.  Let's say that he was 18 years old at that time (one Bible scholar suggests he was at least 16 years; another believes that he would need to have been in his 20s).  I Timothy was probably written in AD 63.  If he was 18 years old in AD 50, he would have been about 31 years old when I Timothy was written.  The Greek word that is translated "young" describes someone who is forty years old or less.  "There is abundant evidence that the term neotes was applied to men till the age of forty."  Taken from The Pastor Epistles by Homer A. Kent.  Copyright by Moody Press 1958."

Timothy was being despised for being too young to be a leader.  Paul tells him not to allow their looking down on him to get him looking down on himself.  Instead, he should be secure in his position of leadership over them.  And continue to "Command and teach these things."

A substitute school teacher often faces something very similar to what Timothy was facing here.  The children will often seek to get the substitute teacher to feel that he or she does not carry the authority of their regular teacher.  If the substitute teacher is susceptible to their words or attitudes, then the children will take over the class.  Timothy was substituting for Paul.  There were those at Ephesus who were saying that he was too young and not qualified to lead them.  If he let them get to him in this way, they would take over the church at Ephesus.  Jesus was "despised and rejected by men." (Isaiah 53:3)  He "endured the cross, scorning its shame." (Hebrews 12:2)  He was despised by men and He was willing to take the shame of our sin on Himself; but He did it all with total dignity and total authority!  We who share in His suffering will also be despised and looked down upon by men.  But, we also need not to allow their mocking and derision to affect us or to sway us from speaking and living with confidence that we are doing our Father's will.  Timothy needed to confidently move forward in living the Christian life and representing God before those at Ephesus.

(2) He needed to silence criticism of himself by his conduct before them. (4:12b)
"but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity."  The greatest defense against those who criticize and attack us is to show by the type of life we are living that their charges are not justified.  The Pharisees attacked Jesus, but they could never find a just charge against Him.  Though they tried and had Him killed, they were not able to find Him guilty of anything; He, instead, stood in judgment of them and found them guilty!  When we live a godly life before men, we are also not to provide others with an opportunity to justly accuse us.  Even if they cause us to suffer, our testimony furthers the cause of God.  Stephen was stoned to death, but his life furthered the cause of God.

Timothy was not to focus on their charges, but he was to focus on living a godly life before them.  He was to "set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity."  See I Corinthians 15:58; II Corinthians 2:14; and Galatians 6:9 for encouragements that the godly life will triumph in the end! 

(3) He needed to persevere in the ministry of God's Word. (4:13)
"Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching."  He was not to back off from his teaching of God's truth because of their intimidation; rather, he was to publicly devote himself to the ministry of the Word in three ways:

(1) The public reading of the Word:  God's Word (the Old Testament) was read in the synagogues (See Luke 4:16; Acts 13:5; and II Corinthians 3:14).  It was also the pattern of the churches to read God's Word.  They probably read the Old Testament and the New Testament that were available at the time (all of the New Testament but John's writings may have been available to the church in the time that Paul wrote this letter to Timothy).  (See Colossians 4:16; I Thessalonians 5:27; II Peter 3:15,16; and Revelation 1:3)

Error starts when we are led away from the truth of God's Word.  The best way to protect the church from error is to keep God's Word ever in front of us.  Paul instructs Timothy to devote himself to publicly reading the Scriptures to the church at Ephesus.  So, we should devote ourselves to publicly reading God's Word in our church assemblies.

(2) The public preaching of the Word (The word "preaching" is normally translated exhortation; paraklesei): We see Paul's exhortations of Timothy throughout this letter.  In the last verse, he exhorts Timothy to be a godly example to the Christians in Ephesus.  Paul's pattern in his letters is to state God's truths, teach on these truths, and then exhort his readers to live in the ways that are appropriate to these truths.  For example, God at an infinite expense forgave us.  We should, then, forgive others.  We should not just teach to the head, but we, as Paul urges Timothy, should aim at the heart and the will.

(3) The public teaching of the Word:  Peter had this to say about Paul's words in the Bible:  "His letters contain some things that are hard to understand." (II Peter 3:16)  There is much in the Bible that is hard to understand: the Bible describes a culture that is strange to us; there are doctrines and teachings that are developed throughout the whole Bible; the Bible was written in languages that need to be translated for us; there are spiritual truths that only the more mature in the Christian life understand; and certainly there are other reasons why the Bible is hard to understand.  So, there will always be a need for the Bible to be taught in our church assemblies.  Timothy was not to be intimidated into shrinking back from these practices, but he was to persevere in these ministries of the Word so that the truth would win out over error.

(4) He needed to trust that he had been gifted by God for his ministry. (4:14)
In 1:18, Paul said to Timothy:  "I give you this instruction in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by following them you might fight the good fight."  Then in II Timothy 1:6, Paul tells Timothy: "fan into the flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands."  Here, Paul says, "Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you."  God had revealed to Timothy through a prophetic message that He had been gifted by God to do a particular type of ministry.  The elders (including Paul) had then laid their hands on him to acknowledge his calling to the ministry.  Paul here urges Timothy not to neglect this gift.  This appears to be one more basis for encouraging Timothy not to be discouraged or intimidated; but, instead he was to be confident that his work of ministry was authorized by God and leaders of God's church.

In II Timothy 1:6, he is told to fan into flame his gift.  So, after the time of I Timothy, he was losing his fire in the area of his spiritual gift and needed to kindle the flame from a spark back into a flame once more.  Each of us have been given some area of spiritual gift (we have all been given giftsI Corinthians 12:7).  We can see from these times where Timothy needed to be exhorted to work at developing his spiritual gift, that we do not experience these gifts effortlessly.  But, rather, we need to work at developing them (even against our enemies' opposition!).

(5) He needed to diligently seek to progress in his Christian life. (4:15-16)
"Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress."  The Christian ministry can only be done effectively in one way: wholeheartedly!  "The word 'progress' . . . contains the graphic of a pioneer cutting his way forward through obstacles by means of strenuous effort, like a man blazing a trail through a tangled forest."  "Taken from First Timothy by D. Edmond Hiebert.  Copyright by Moody Press 1957." 

Timothy was to make every effort, be diligent, be totally wrapped up in, and be completely dedicated to all that Paul had said in this letter to him.  The result would be that he would "progress" like a pioneer cutting a trail through a dense forest.

The pastors and teachers that we learn the most from and benefit the most from are those who are always learning and growing.  Timothy was to be fully involved in his Christian life and ministry so that everyone would see his growth.  The product of his progress is stated in 4:16.  "Watch your life and doctrine closely.  Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers."  The product?  He will save both himself and his readers.  What will he save them from?  Certainly he will not save them from the penalty of sin, for that salvation is already the possession of every Christian.  Here, he must be talking about saving them from the power of sin in their lives; and saving them, also, from the teaching of the false teachers.  And, so, if Timothy gave himself fully to teaching God's truth and living a godly life, his ministry will overcome the false teachers and the church at Ephesus will progress as well.  See II Corinthians 2:14-16 for a description of how this progress always takes place:  This same godly life in you and me will also always result in some experiencing and growing in God's life and others rejecting God's life and continuing to experience spiritual death..

The proper treatment of those in positions of honor in the church (5:1-20)
In God's church, how are we to treat each other?  In Paul's first letter to the Corinthians he had to rebuke them..."You are still worldly.  For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly?  Are you not acting like mere men?" (I Corinthians 3:3)  God calls His church to a higher standard of behavior than is typically found in the world.  In chapter five, Paul gives Timothy and us his instructions on how we are to treat each other in the church.  Particularly, he gives instructions on how we are to treat those in positions of honor in the church.

1. The proper treatment of older men and women (5:1-2)
"Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father.  Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity."

Thought Question:  Pick out a few individuals in your local church who are older than you are; then ask yourself, am I treating them the way that is described here?

 

 

We are to treat fellow members of the church as family members.  We are to respect those who are older than we are in the same respectful way that is appropriate to treat our father and mother; for they are fathers and mothers in the family of God.  They have gone before us.  They were working and living the Christian life before us.  They have experienced years in the Christian life that we have yet to experience.  Though we all tend to think that those who are older than we are know less than we do; they, nevertheless, know more than we know.  A mother once told her teenage daughter, "I wish I knew as much as you think you know."

In God's family it is appropriate to respect those who are older than we are.  Paul explains to Timothy that if he needs to correct an older man (which would need to happen since he was a young leader), he should never do it in a harsh way, but he should encourage him in a respectful manner.  Those who are our own age are to be treated as brothers and sisters.  With women our own age, (and for women—men of your own age), we are to relate to each other with "absolute purity"; nothing at all beyond a brother/sister in the Lord relationship. The following acrostic summarizes the type of family relationships we are to have within God's family:

Considerate:  "If you keep the royal law found in Scripture,  'Love your neighbor as yourself,' you are doing right." (James 2:8)  Consider how you and I would like to be thought of, spoken of, and talked to in the same situation; then, be considerate.

Available:  "Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ." (Galatians 6:2)  When we correct someone, we are not to do it in a detached way or in a judgmental way, but we are to correct that person because we are concerned about them and want the best for them.  In the church we are to be our brother's keeper.

Respect:  The theme of these two verses is that we are to respect our fellow church members.  Particularly, we are to respect those who are older than we are.  We are to appeal to the older man as gently and respectfully as possible and to leave the decision to him.  The opposite approach, of course, is to sharply rebuke an older man, hammer at him with our words.  But, in God's church the high road is to show respect to all.

Endurance:  In Paul's second letter to Timothy he gives this additional advice:  "And the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.  Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will." (II Timothy 2:24-25)  We must be willing to persevere through any obstacle for the good of the person.  For example, parents must be willing to persevere through rebellion, hostility, unresponsiveness, and pride for the good of their child; forgiving wrongs and gently pressing on for their best.  This is God's pattern for encouraging and correcting those in the church (and outside of the church).  This is what the Lord's bond-servant is willing to do.

When someone c.a.r.e.s for us as described here, we are more likely to take correction from him or her, for it is done in family love.

2. The proper treatment of widows (5:3-16)
Why does Paul devote such a long section to the treatment of widows?  Listen to what James has to say about the treatment of widows (James 1:27):  "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress."  In God's eyes the treatment of widows does deserve a large section in the book of I Timothy.  Part of the judgment on Israel came as a result of their mistreatment of widows. See Jeremiah 22:15; Zechariah 7:8-12  William Hendricksen gives this summary of what the Bible has to say about the treatment of widows:

"(1) God is 'a father of the fatherless, and a judge of widows' (Ps. 68:5).  They are under his special care and protection (Ex. 22:23; Deut. 10:18; Prov. 15:25; Ps. 146:9).
(2) By means of the tithe and 'the forgotten sheaf' he provides for them (Deut. 14:29; 24:19-21; 26:12, 13).  At the feasts which he has instituted, they too should rejoice (Deut. 16:1, 14).
(3) He blesses those who help and honor them (Is. 1:17, 18; Jer. 7:6; 22:3, 4).
(4) He rebukes and punishes those who hurt them (Ex. 22:22; Deut. 24:17; 27:19; Zech. 7:10; Job 24:3, 21; 31:16; Ps. 94:6; Mal. 3:5).
(5) They are the objects of Christ's tender compassion, as is clear from the Gospels, especially from the Gospel according to Luke (Mark 12:42, 43; Luke 7:11-17; 18:3, 5; 20:47; 21:2, 3).
(6) In the early church they were not forgotten.  It was the neglect of certain widows which led to the appointment of the first deacons, so that in the future widows might receive better care (Acts 6:1-6)."  "Taken from New Testament Commentary  I-II Timothy. Titus  by William Hendricksen."  Copyright Baker Book House 1957."

A primary difference between our lives before we were Christians and our lives now that we are Christians is that once we tended to think primarily in terms of "What's in it for me?" and as Christians we are to think primarily about where we can be most effective in reaching out to the needs of others (as God has reached out in unconditional and sacrificial love to us).  In any society, among the most needy and those that most deserved to be honored are the widows.  And, so, Paul gives Timothy lengthy advice on how the church is to care in a godly way for the widows.  In these verses we learn how the church is to honor and care for the widows who are really in need:

a. Family members are to honor and repay widows for their years of service by caring for widows who are really in need. (5:3-4)
"Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need.  But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God."

Thought Question:  List reasons that you can think of why children should honor and take care of their widowed mother.

 

 

Widows are not just to be cared for, but they are also to be honored for their years of service to others.  Now that they are unable to care for themselves, those family members who have been the beneficiaries of their hard work and their prayers in the past should care for their needs.  Often, the very opposite is true.  Widows are often not respected or cared for in appreciation for the long years that they took care of us.  But to reject and cast off those who have served others for so long is the very opposite of what is due them.  They should not be treated as second-class citizens, but as first-class citizens.  Someone has said the following:  "The treatment of the poor, the needy and those who have no social power becomes a test of the justness of any society or political system."

The way we treat widows is also a test of the church.  The children and grandchildren of widows should honor and care for them.  It is pleasing to God for us to repay the sacrifice of those who have sacrificed for us.  The Dutch proverb is true:  "It frequently seems easier for one poor father to bring up ten children than for ten rich children to provide for one poor father."  "Taken from New Testament Commentary I-II Timothy, Titus by William Hendricksen.  Copyright by Baker Book House 1957."  But this sad response to our parents' love is not always the case, for there are those who do honor their elderly parents and grandparents and care for their needs.  Each of us can think of those who honored and cared for their parents when their parents were no longer able to care for themselves.

b. The church is to help widows who put their hope in God and not to help those who put their hope in the pleasures of the world. (5:5-6)
"The widow who is really in need and left all alone puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help.  But the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives."

Thought Question:  Try to think of one widow in your church who fits the description given in these verses.

 

 

The widows that the church is to honor and help are those who look to God for their needs and for their hope.  They are those who believe that God alone is the answer for what they need in life.  When they seek help in their time of need, from whom to do they seek help?  God!  When they pursue after happiness, after what do they pursue? God!

The widows that are to be honored are often those we have come to call "prayer warriors."   Some years ago in a large Southern California church, one of the most honored persons in that church was fondly called "Grandma Kelly."   She was honored because most everyone in the church had come to learn that if they wanted something prayed for earnestly, they could ask Grandma Kelly to pray for their need or concern.  While they were still sleeping, early in the morning, Grandma would be on her knees before God in prayer for their request.  As anyone who talked with her knew, Grandma looked to God alone for all that she was seeking in life, and she was alive with God's life.

But, not every older person grows closer to God through the years.  There are also older people who live primarily for what this world has to offer them.  They, as Paul says here, live for pleasure.  Some might think that they are the ones that are living life to the full.  But, as Paul says here, they are not living it up, but dying it down.  For as Jesus said, "A man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." See Luke 12:15

We as the church must honor and provide for the Grandma Kellys and for innumerable other worthy grandmothers.  They have lived a life of service to their families and to others, and their service to the church continues through their example, their wisdom, and their prayers.  See Luke 2:36-37 for a Grandma Kelly in Bible times

c. The church's reputation is based on how we treat widows who are really in need. (5:7-8)
"Give the people these instructions, too, so that no one may be open to blame.  If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever."

Thought Question:  According to these verses, what makes us "worse than an unbeliever"?

 

 

In James 1:27, again, we are told by James that genuine religion is shown by the way that we take care of "orphans and widows in their distress."  Paul tells Timothy here that if a Christian "does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever."  We as Christians are put to shame when people who do not believe in Jesus Christ and even people of other religious beliefs do a better job of caring for their family members than we do.  Unbelievers in Jesus Christ have not experienced God's love and power for a new life; yet many of them do show more affection for their elderly than we do in the church.  If we do not care for our families, especially those who are not able to care for themselves, we are bringing shame on the name of Jesus Christ.

d. Widows who are to be supported by the church need to be tested to see if they qualify to be placed on the list of widows that receive support from the church. (5:9-10)
"No widow may be put on the list of widows unless she is over sixty, has been faithful to her husband, and is well known for her good deeds, such as bringing up children, showing hospitality, washing the feet of the saints, helping those in trouble and devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds."

Thought Question:  How can we apply these verses to the modern-day church?

 

 

Barclay, an authority on church history states that in the early church there was "an official order of widows, an order of elderly women who were set apart for special duties."  "Taken from The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon by William Barclay.  Copyright by The Westminster Press 1975."  From what we read in this chapter about widows, we can conclude that the church of Paul's time took on the support of some widows in the church (but not all widows) and that these widows were chosen not just because of their need but also because of their spiritual qualifications.  We may have a description of part of their duties in Titus 2:3-5:  "Likewise, teach older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanders or addicted to much wine but to teach what is good.  Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God."

It can also be concluded that the list of qualifications given in verses nine and ten of this chapter in Timothy also gives a clue as to the type of ministry they had in the church at that time:  "well known for her good deeds"—she would continue to do those good deeds in the church which would include "bringing up children, showing hospitality, washing the feet of the saints, helping those in trouble and devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds."  Widows in the church today often give themselves to serving in the church.  Here are some of the ways that widows serve in our modern-day churches:  preparing the Lord's Supper and helping out in baptisms, aiding missionaries, hospitality for Bible studies and visiting missionaries, encouraging the younger women, and being spiritual role models within the church.

e. Younger women were not to be put on the list. (5:11-15)
"As for younger widows, do not put them on such a list.  For when their sensual desires overcome their dedication to Christ, they want to marry.  Thus they bring judgment on themselves, because they have broken their first pledge.  Besides, they get into the habit of being idle and going about from house to house.  And not only do they become idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying things they ought not to.  So I counsel younger widows to marry, to have children, to manage their homes and to give the enemy no opportunity for slander.  Some have in fact already turned away to follow Satan."

Thought Question:  According to these verses, why is keeping our commitments and doing hard work very important in the church?

 

 

Before a widow could be put on this list, she first of all needed to be over sixty years of age.  Younger widows were not to be put on the list because they were not yet ready to consecrate their lives to service in the church.  They may begin by wanting to dedicate their lives, but then their desire to be married gets the best of them and they begin looking for a husband.  When they do get married, they break their pledge to God to serve in their church and, instead, give themselves primarily to serving their families.  A pledge before God is no small thing to God.  James says, "Above all, my brothers do not swear—not by heaven or by earth or by anything.  Let your 'Yes' be yes and your 'No' no, or you will be condemned." (James 5:12)  In the book of Ecclesiastes we are told:  "Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God.  God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few." (Ecclesiastes 5:2)  Jesus also said that we should only say yes when we really mean yes. See Matthew 5:33-37  Paul instructs Timothy that young widows will typically say yes, but usually will not have truly counted the cost and will later break their pledge bringing shame on them and on the whole order of widows in the church.

Then, he adds that these young widows can also become destructive in the church because of the way they will often end up using their idle time. The normal pattern would be for them to fill their time up by going around and talking; and at times talking about things that they should not talk about.  They become what we call "gossips."  From verse fifteen we can see that Paul was not just talking theoretically, for there were some who had already been destructive gossips in the church at Ephesus.  These women had provided Satan with an opportunity to slander the church.  Paul counsels these young widows to marry and have children so that they can fill their lives with being wives and mothers.

Our modern-day welfare system has failed to follow the wisdom that Paul provides here.  For we have given people an income who could work; and we have created idle people who have, as should be expected, not only been unproductive but also destructive in our society.

Instead, Paul told Timothy that a widow is not to be put on the list "unless she is over sixty, has been faithful to her husband, and is well known for her good deeds, such as bringing up children, showing hospitality, washing the feet of the saints, helping those in trouble and devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds."  What we have here is not a handout to those who have to do little more than just take the handout, but help and honor those who have worked, served, and proven faithful over the years.  These widows were given a special position in the early church.  Those who had given their lives and service to God's people are in turn given honor and financial help by the church.  Should we not consider a similar practice in the modern-day church?

f. Widows who have family members in the church are not really in need, for their family members can take care of them. (5:16)
"If any woman who is a believer has widows in her family, she should help them and not let the church be burdened with them, so that the church can help those widows who are really in need."

Thought Question:  What do learn about from this verse about how needs should be met in the church?

 

 

Paul then suggests that those women in the church at Ephesus who have widows in their families should take care of them so that the church can care for the widows who are really in need.  The application to us is that we should not wait for the church to meet a need, but that we should reach out to the needs that we know about so that the church leaders can focus on meeting the needs of those that have no family or no one to help them.

3. The proper treatment of elders (5:17-20)
Anyone who has studied the history of the church will notice that the church has throughout time been steadily growing in its learning about the Bible's teaching.  The early church debated and learned about the Trinity and the nature of Jesus Christ.  During the Reformation, the church grew in its learning about justification by faith (how we are saved).  In recent years, the church has learned much about the end-times and about the nature of the church.  The topic of elders that we now come to in Paul's first letter to Timothy has in recent years been the topic of whole books or large portions of books.  Paul has already given Timothy the qualifications for the office of elder, and he has given instructions about some of the responsibilities of elders (this whole letter of I Timothy is instructions to Timothy who was the leading elder at the church at Ephesus).  Now, Paul gives Timothy some instructions about how elders are to be treated in the church.

a. Some elders are to receive double honor. (5:17-18) (We are to PROVIDE for our elders)
"The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching.  For the Scripture says, 'Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain,' and 'The worker deserves his wages.'''

Thought Question:  Who do you believe are the elders who are "worthy of double honor" and what is the "double honor" that Paul talks about here?

 

 

We give honor to a group of people by in some way demonstrating how we value them and their work.  When the troops returned home after being victorious in World War II, we honored them with parades and in other ways.  By these parades, we were telling them that we appreciated their sacrificial efforts on our behalf.  In the church we are to honor those who do well at leading the church, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching.  These men should receive "double honor."

The reason we should doubly honor these hard-working elders is based on a simple principle:  "For the Scripture says, 'Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain,' and 'The worker deserves his wages.'"  Paul quotes first from Deuteronomy 25:4 and then from Jesus' words in Luke 10:7.  Also in I Corinthians 9:9-14, Paul says as the oxen that do the work of treading the grain should share in the harvest of grain, so should those who work at sowing "spiritual seed" receive a material reward.  And so Paul was saying in I Corinthians 9, and in these verses, that elders should be honored, and some elders should be honored plus receive even more honor.  In the context, that double honor clearly means that they should receive financial wages for their work.  And so it is appropriate for us to pay salaries to our full-time pastors and Christian workers.

Some who have never worked in the ministry often feel that a pastor's worker is much easier than working at other jobs or professions.  But, it would only take a short time of working as a pastor for anyone to discover that for those who work at it and do it well, there are few jobs that are more difficult.  A pastor's job is similar to being the father of many children and caring for each member of the church as if he or she were his only child.  A pastor is like a shepherd who is constantly concerned that his sheep might be going astray.  He is like a father trying to keep order in his family, but that family is made up of many people with many different backgrounds, vocations, ages, and temperaments.  A pastor needs to be there for every crisis in all of their lives.  Those who work hard in God's work deserve to be honored and to be financially rewarded for their efforts on our behalf.

b. Accusations against elders are to be treated very carefully. (5:19) (We are to PROTECT our elders)
"Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses."

Thought Question:  Why do you think that Paul needed to give this instruction?

 

 

We in the church do not always appreciate and honor our elders.  The fallen human nature's response to leadership is, not to like to have them in authority over us.  We like to be our own ruler and do not like it when anyone is ruling us.  It comes naturally for us to want to cut our leaders down to our size and below.  It is a national pastime to ridicule our President.  Presidents are often put in a very unfavorable light in political cartoons and by comedians.  Because of this tendency in all of us from the human rather than the spiritual side of us, we need to be very careful when we receive accusations against our church leaders.  We need, instead, to be quick to believe the best, and we need to be very reticent to believe anything but the best when we hear something bad about them.  Often, the opposite is true.  We can easily believe the worst and have to be convinced of the best.

As Paul says here, we are "not to receive an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses."  Paul quotes from Deuteronomy 17:6 that no one could be put to death on the testimony of only one witness.  So, we should never allow one of our elders that we honor to be indicted, tried, and convicted in our minds by one person's words about them.  As we listen to someone talk about an elder, we need to be sensitive and ask, "Is what is being said coming from God (a caring and well-substantiated accusation) or is it coming from Satan (an uncaring, unsubstantiated, and malicious accusation)?"  Because we are to be no longer like the world, we should not be eager to hear gossip—as the world loves to hear it; but we should be eager to discourage gossip and slander from tearing down our leaders.

c. Elders who sin are to be strongly corrected. (5:20) (We are to CORRECT our elders)
"Those who sin are to be rebuked publicly, so that the others may take warning."

Thought Question:  Describe a situation where it is appropriate to rebuke an elder. (Would it be every time a person catches him in a sin?  Would it be every time a group catches him in a sin?)

 

 

If an accusation does hold, and it is discovered that an elder is continuing in sin (the tense of the Greek word for sin describes someone who is continuing to sin), then he is "to be rebuked publicly, so that the others may take warning."  The elder's continuing sin must be dealt with strongly, boldly, and publicly.  This pattern is the opposite of what often happens.  It is often murmured about and not dealt with until it can no longer be ignored.  The elder's sin should be dealt with much sooner than it is usually dealt with, to minimize the harm to the church and while there is still hope for the leader.  Just as it is an act of love for a parent to correct a child who is going astray, so it is an act of love to correct a leader who is going astray.  Because the leader is in a public position, so the rebuke of a leader should be done publicly.

Trench, a Greek scholar describes the meaning of the Greek word for "rebuke" in the following way:  "to rebuke another with such effectual wielding of the victorious arms of truth, as to bring him, if not always to a confession, yet a least to a conviction of his sin."  "Taken from Word Studies in the Greek New Testament Volume II by Kenneth Wuest.  Copyright 1952 by Wm. B. Eerdman's Publishing Company."  And so we are to provide for, protect, and, if necessary, correct our elders.

THE STRESSFUL PERSONAL LIFE OF A CHURCH LEADER (5:21-6:2)
Paul now gives Timothy some advice on how to handle some typical situations he will face in the ministry.  We will see that what Timothy faced as a church leader so many years ago and what church leaders face today is not that much different.

1. Show no favoritism to anyone. (5:21)
"I charge you in the sight of God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels, to keep these instructions without partiality, and to do nothing out of favoritism."

Thought Question:  In what ways can the content of this verse help to motivate us to treat others in a fair and impartial way?

 

 

As Christians we need to go against our natural tendencies.  Here, Timothy is instructed not to do that which we most naturally do—favor some in the church over others.  We can favor some over others because they are the same age as we are, they have the same interests as we do, we have known them for a long time, and for many other reasons.  The solution is not to do what we do for our human and tainted reasons, but do what we do in the "sight of God and Christ Jesus" for His reasons.  We can choose someone for a leadership position or give someone in the church preference over others for our reasons as if it is our church.  It, of course, is not our church but God's church.  And God desires that we be impartial and that we show no favoritism.  So, when we must choose between someone we have known a long time and someone we have known for just a short time, between someone our own age and someone who is younger or older than we are, and between someone we are very comfortable with and someone we do not feel at ease with, we are, in the sight of God, to be completely impartial in whom we choose.

Because of the Greek word forms that are used, we can conclude the words translated "God and Christ Jesus" in this verse refer to the same person.  Listen to what Kenneth Wuest has to say about the Greek usage of these words:  "The words 'God' and 'Lord Jesus Christ' are in a construction which is called Granville Sharp's rule which make the words 'God' and 'Lord Jesus Christ' refer to the same individual.  It is 'our God, even Christ Jesus.'  'Lord' is not in the text."  [Wuest is quoting from the King James version.  "Lord" is not found in the New International Version (NIV) or the New American Standard Bible (NASV).]  "Taken from  Word Studies in the Greek New Testament Volume II by Kenneth Wuest.  Copyright 1952 by Wm. B. Eerdman's Publishing Company."

The "elect angels"—whom we are told that we also do everything we do in the sight of—are those angels who did not fall with Satan. See II Peter 2:4 and Jude 6  The elect angels will accompany Him when He returns to judge the world. See II Thessalonians 1:6-7  Timothy was to be fair and impartial as he treated the Christians who were under his authority, for there was a large and holy audience who was watching him.  We also should be fair in our dealings with people, as well, for we also have this very same large audience watching us.

2. Do not lay hands on someone quickly (choose leadership too quickly). (5:22a)
"Do not be hasty in laying on of hands,"

Thought Question:  What are some reasons why a church leader might choose a person for a position of leadership in a hasty manner?

 

 

Our human tendency is to be impulsive.  A leader cannot afford to be impulsive.  He needs, instead, to make his choices after carefully and objectively considering all the advice, evidence, and wisdom that is available to him.  A leader must be particularly careful when he chooses other leaders.  Paul urges Timothy not to choose leaders quickly.  When we choose a leader quickly, we often find out later about that individual's strengths and weaknesses.  Some of those weaknesses may lead us to regret having chosen him as a leader.  This type of decision is very similar to choosing a mate.  When we choose a life-long mate, we also should be very careful.  We should know everything we can about our potential wife or husband before we decide to marry him or her.  We should not commit to marrying him or her and then find out what type of person it is that we have married.  So, also we should not choose leaders and then find out whom we have chosen to be leaders.

3. Keep yourself pure. (5:22b)
"and do not share in the sins of others.  Keep yourself pure."

When Timothy or any church leader chooses a leader hastily, he becomes responsible for the type of leader that person becomes.  If the leader he chooses turns out be a poor leader, he is responsible for this poor leader's failings as a leader.  He should not have chosen him in the first place.  The solution is for Timothy and leaders of today to be impartial and careful in the selection of leaders so that they will be pure or free from having chosen a group of unqualified leaders to supervise God's church.  Too often we make hasty decisions in selecting our Sunday school teachers, treasurers, and others because we are more interested in filling the position than we are concerned about carefully selecting qualified people for each position.  We get in a hurry and end up with unqualified people leading in our churches.  We can be concerned only about finding anyone to do the work.  Instead, we should be willing to take the time, effort, and prayer to find someone who is qualified to take each important area of responsibility in God's church. 

4. It is okay to medicate yourself (Timothy had trouble with illnesses). (5:23)
"Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses."

Thought Question:  How would you apply this verse to the question: "Is it okay for Christians to drink alcohol?"

 

 

Paul tells Timothy something unusual from our modern-day perspective.  He tells him to "Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and frequent illnesses."  As is true in many parts of the world today, the water that Timothy had available was not always healthy and pure.  But, Timothy knew that if he drank wine, some might think that he was controlled by wine (what we would today call an alcoholic).  We can see from Paul's words in this verse that Timothy was having stomach problems, and he was suffering from a number of illnesses.  What was Timothy to do?

Are there any modern parallels to Timothy's dilemma?  We also have situations where there is no easy answer.  The doctor after a surgery prescribes a pain-killer that is addictive.  Should we take it?  Paul tells Timothy that it is okay for Timothy to take a little wine because it will help his health and his stomach.  Alcohol and drugs are not evil.  We, for example, have not done evil by letting it touch our tongues.  But they can be destructive, and even very destructive, if they control us or are used excessively.  Here, we see that it was okay for Timothy to use wine to help his stomach.  It is known today that a little wine does kill the bacterium that causes food poisoning.  Paul shows us that when taken within limits, it is okay for Christians to take medications that help them with their health.

5. Be discerning about people (sometimes it is easy and sometimes it is not easy to figure out what people are like).
(5:24-25)
"The sins of some men are obvious, reaching the place of judgment ahead of them; the sins of others trail behind them.  In the same way, good deeds are obvious, and even those that are not cannot be hidden."

Thought Question #1:  What could happen if church leaders today do not heed Paul's advice in these verses?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  Give examples of what has happened in the past when a church leader has not heeded this advice from Paul.

 

 

A pastor or a leader in a church needs to make many decisions about people.  Some of the calamities in the church have come as a result of people being put in important leadership positions who turned out to be not only unqualified to lead in the church, but people who have had major hidden character problems.  Some people's character flaws are obvious to everyone and for that reason they would never be put in positions of leadership.  But there are others whose character problems are not obvious until later.  The same is also true of good deeds.  The good deeds of some are obvious, but there are also some whose good deeds are not obvious (It is appropriate that a Christian's good deeds not be too obvious.) See Matthew 6:1-4   But, even with those whose good deeds are not obvious; their works of Christian service, Paul says, will become obvious later.

What is Paul saying to Timothy?  Do not quickly make judgments about people!  There will always be some people who appear not to have any serious sin problems, but time will show that they do have some very serious sin problems.  Anyone who has been in the ministry for some time has been shocked a number of times when he has discovered that some who seemed to be very ordinary Christians have had some hidden areas of very serious sin in their lives.  When people with these types of hidden problems are put into positions of leadership in the church before the people in the church have really gotten to know them, there can be some serious consequences for that church.

Also, there are people in the church who deserve to be placed in leadership positions, but their qualifications for leadership are not obvious at first.  They may be quiet and faithful in their service, and it is only after a period of time that the quality of their Christian life begins to be obvious.  Learning and understanding this principle—that what a person is like is not always obvious at first—is an important part of the wisdom that is needed for a leader as he oversees and directs the work of a church.

6. Instruct the church in how to deal with unique cultural issues
(here, Paul instructs Timothy about the proper way for Christians to deal with their slave masters both Christian and non-Christian).  (6:1-2)
"All who are under the yoke of slavery should consider their masters worthy of full respect, so that God's name and our teaching may not be slandered.  Those who have believing masters are not to show less respect for them because they are brothers.  Instead, they are to serve them even better, because those who benefit from their service are believers, and dear to them.  These are the things you are to teach and urge on them."

Thought Question:  Why do you think that Paul did not encourage the Christian slaves of his time to rebel against the inhumanity of their slavery?

 

 

Slavery was a part of the world in which Timothy and the church in Ephesus lived.  What was the appropriate way for Christian slaves to act toward their masters?  Should they revolt against what we have come to believe is a form of inhumanity to man?  Should they rebel against their masters?  If they did rebel, their masters and others in their society would have said that the heathen slaves were more dependable than the Christian slaves.  They would, then, have become a cause for God's name being despised in their world.

Jesus' way is quite different.  He has called us to a life of service. See Matthew 20:26-28  Serving as a slave fits in quite well with a Christian's lifestyle.  A Christian slave could bring honor to the name of God by serving his master better as a Christian slave than when he was a non-Christian slave.  Another potential problem developed when a slave's master was a Christian.  The slave could feel that a Christian should not have a slave or the slave might feel that they could get away with not having to work as hard for a Christian master.  But, Paul says that a slave who has a Christian master should serve him even better, "because those who benefit from their service are believers, and dear to them."

The book of Philemon is written to a Christian slave master whose slave Onesimus ran away from him, but later became a Christian through Paul.  In the letter, Paul requests that Philemon take Onesimus back as his slave and also now as a Christian brother.  Christianity ultimately weakened and eliminated slavery.  Slavery could only exist when humanity could be divided into two classes, the elite slave owners and the lower classes of slaves.  When both slave masters and slaves became Christian brothers and worshiped together in the churches as equals, it was not long before the foundations of slavery eroded and crumbled.  Also, it was Christians like William Wilberforce of England that were behind the eradication of the enslavement of Africans in the more modern world.

The pure pursuit of gain in the church (6:3-19)

1. A description of teachers who are impure in their pursuit of gain (6:3-5)
"If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, he is conceited and understands nothing.  He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicious and constant friction between men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain."

Thought Question #1:  According to these verses, how can we recognize false teachers?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  What do these verses say are the motives of false teachers?

 

 

Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, Christian Science, Unity, The Children of God (now known as The Family), The Local Church of Witness Lee, The Way, and others all have one thing in common: they were all started by false teachers.  There are warnings about false teachers throughout the book of I Timothy (1:6,7,19, 4:1-3, 6:3-5,20-21)  How can we recognize a false teacher?  It was not obvious that the Pharisees of Jesus' time were false teachers.  Listen to His words in Matthew 7:15-16:  "Watch out for false prophets.  They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.  By their fruit you will recognize them."  (See also Matthew 23:27-28)  From what Jesus says and from the way historians have described them, the Pharisees were very godly men in appearance.  But, their motives were ungodly.  Today, also, there are men and women who sound and talk like Christian preachers, but they are also wolves in sheep's clothing.  How can we recognize a false teacher?  Paul gives Timothy the following signs of a false teacher:

a. He teaches "false doctrines" and does not embrace sound teaching. (6:3)
"If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching,"  A false teacher teaches something different than what is taught in the Bible.  It may appear to be close to what is in the Bible and it may be based on a few verses in the Bible, but in the end it is quite different from what is taught in the Bible.  Most often, the false teacher teaches that we are under some type of law relationship to God rather than a grace relationship to God. They also teach about a different God and a different Jesus than what is taught in the Bible.  In these ways and in many other ways, their teaching differs from what is in the Bible.

The word that is translated "false" in the NIV Bible is the Greek word from which we get our English word "heterodox" or "different."  False teachers teach that which is "different."  We need to get to know the Bible so well that when someone teaches something different from what is in the Bible, we immediately recognize it.  Often, they offer us something which they say is better than what other Christian teachers teach.  They say that they have more to offer us than other churches.  Actually, in many cases they are seeking after more wealth or prestige for themselves from those whom they can entrap with their seductive teachings.

Also, as it says in the last part of verse three, they do not agree, embrace, or draw near to the true teachings of the Bible.  When we share the gospel or the Bible's teaching with the false teacher (the cultist and others), he or she does not embrace what we have come to love from the Bible.  False teachers do not respond to the clear teaching of the Bible; they do not embrace the teachings of the Bible that will result in them having a proper understanding about Jesus Christ and a genuine life of godliness.

b. He is "conceited." (6:4-5a)
"he is conceited and understands nothing.  He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicious and constant friction between men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth"  The word translated "conceited" in the NIV translation "is tuphuo, 'to raise a smoke, to wrap in a mist.'  It speaks metaphorically of a beclouded and stupid state of mind as a result of pride."  "Taken from Word Studies in the Greek New Testament by Kenneth Wuest.  Copyright 1952 by Wm. B. Eerdman's Publishing House"

The conceit of the false teacher leads to the following effects on him or her: (1) He or she "understands nothing."  The smoke of pride prevents the false teacher (or anyone else) from understanding the humbling message of the Bible.  The false teacher has an elevated opinion of his own ability to understand the truth.  God alone can open our minds to the truth about ourselves—the depth of our sinfulness, for example.  The false teacher believes that he or she has the ability with his or her own mind to discover greater truths than the ordinary man or woman.  So, he or she discovers truth that is not truth.  He or she "understands nothing."

(2) He or she enjoys arguments "He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth."  These people are sick because they do not enjoy seeking after the truth, but they enjoy winning arguments.  Has not this been your experience with those in the cults?  They enjoy arguing with you.  What is the result of these arguments, though?  Paul says the result is a lot of ugliness—"constant friction" between people.  If we allow ourselves to get in one of these arguments about words, does it result in our eyes and their eyes being open to the truth?  No, it almost always results in a lot of friction, a lot of heat—more heat than light!

Paul adds that these arguments lead to "envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions" and certainly more and other types of ugliness.  Listen to what Paul says in his second letter to Timothy:  "Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen." (II Timothy 2:14)  In Proverbs 18:2 we are told the following:  " A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions."  Just as it is of no value trying to reason with a fool, so it is of no value to argue with a false teacher.

c. He is seeking "financial gain." (6:5b)
"and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain."  A true study of God's Word will lead to our gain—a growth in godliness, and it will lead to the gain of others who will benefit from our love and service.  The false teacher is primarily seeking after his or her own personal gain.  And a big part of the gain that he or she is seeking after is financial gain!  Rather than their study of God's Word leading them to seek after God's selfless goals, their study of God's Word is twisted and directed toward seeing how they can use the Bible to financially benefit them.  Just as there were these types of false teachers in Paul's and Timothy's time, so we have false teachers like this in our world today—false teachers who are twisting the words of the Bible for their own selfish ends.  They are using God's book for their personal scams.  And many are being fooled by them, sending them thousands of dollars so they can drive expensive cars and live in mansions.  Others who do not live in wealth are using the Bible for other selfish aims, such as exploiting women and exercising alarming power over others.

2. A description of those who are pure in their pursuit of gain (6:6-8)
"But godliness with contentment is great gain.  For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.  But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that."

Thought Question:  What are some principles in these verses that will help you to find true happiness?

 

 

How can we find happiness, fulfillment, and contentment?  To most, the answer is obvious, we can only find satisfaction in riches, fun, freedom, thrills, popularity, parties, and in similar worldly enjoyments.  If all of these are the answer, then the Bible is the most naive book in the world, for the Bible gives a much different answer!  Who is right, most everyone in our country or the Bible?  In our country today, we have developed to the highest degree every type of worldly enjoyment.  As we drive by a lake in the summer, we see jet skiers, sail boarders, and water skiers.  On land there are dirt bikes and four wheel drive recreation vehicles.  In the winter there are snowmobiles and ski slopes.  Our highways are packed with campers and recreation vehicles.  In our homes we have large screen televisions, computer games, advanced stereos, VCR's, internet, and every type of convenience.  In our backyards are swimming pools and Jacuzzis.  There are professional ball parks, giant amusement parks, indoor swimming pools, racket clubs, golf courses, bowling alleys, and every type of restaurant.  With all that we have at our convenience, certainly we should be the very happiest people in the history of the world.  But, are we the happiest people of all time?  Have we reached or nearly reached the pinnacle of happiness?  Have we found contentment?

If you believe that we have found happiness and contentment like no generation before us, then the message of these verses will not provide much for you.  You will not agree with the Bible's answers as to what brings us happiness, fulfillment, and contentment.  But if you, like many others, have come to believe it is possible to have all that the world has to offer and still not be truly content or happy, then these three verses will have much to say to you.

In I Timothy 6:6-8 God is saying to us, "Here is how to find the greatest happiness and fullest contentment in life."  In these verses Paul begins to contrast the road to contentment (6:6-8) with the road to ruin and destruction (6:9-10).  Here is Paul's description of the road to contentment:  In the verses preceding these verses, Paul was talking about religious leaders who were seeking to use godliness for their own selfish gain.  Here, Paul explains that they did not realize that true "godliness" itself is actually the greatest gain that the world has to offer!  Why is "godliness" the greatest gain?  The answer is that true "godliness" leads to "contentment."  Those who are experiencing true "godliness" have a satisfied soul!  Paul is here stating one of the most profound truths in the entire Bible.  True happiness does not come from what we have (possessions, popularity, etc.) or from what we do (thrills, fun, recreation, etc.), but from who we are!  We can have everything, but if we are not happy with who we are, we will not only not be happy, we will be miserable.  Yet, we can have little, but if we are happy with who we are, we will not only be content, we will experience abundance.  Jesus said, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled." (Matthew 5:6)

In verses 7 and 8, we see the reasons we lose our contentment.  "For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.  But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that."  Verse 7 is a paraphrase from Job 1:21 where Job has just lost his family and his possessions.  Job's response is that he came into the world with nothing; so if he leaves the world with nothing, he is back to where he started.  That is the proper expectation level for us to have; we should expect to have nothing.  Truly, we deserve nothing, so we should expect nothing.  Then, anything we have is a plus.  Is this the expectation level that you and I have?  Do we expect more today than those who lived fifty years ago?  It would seem that each year we expect more and feel that we need more and more to make us happy.  Would someone be happy today with just a radio?  Yet, fifty years ago people were delighted to own a radio.  What should we be able to be content with?  Paul states it in verse eight: we should be content if we have food and clothing.

The Greek philosopher Epicurus had this observation.  "Add not to a man's possessions but take away from his desires."  A Jewish Rabbi put it this way, "Who is rich?  He that is contented with his lot."  "Both quotes taken from THE Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon by William Barclay.  Copyright by The Westminster Press 1975."  Godliness, as Warren Wiersbe has said "simplifies our lives, unifies our lives and satisfies our lives."  Other enjoyments find their proper place when godliness is given the first place in our lives.  Jesus told us to "Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."  We are only content and enjoy the goodness of what God has given to us when we are primarily seeking after God and the righteous life of this incomparable One who has given us all of these enjoyments.  See also I Timothy 4:4

Why do we lose our contentment?  First of all, we keep expecting more and more and are satisfied with less and less.  We are content when we are happy with God's provision of food and clothing, and blessed even more when we have anything more than that.  Secondly, true contentment, satisfaction, and fulfillment come from growing in godliness.

3. A description of those who are impure in their pursuit of gain (6:9-10)
People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.  For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.  Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs."

Thought Question #1:  What do these verses predict will happen to those who try to find happiness by seeking after money?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  According to these verses, is money the root of all evil?  Please explain your answer.

 

 

Now, Paul describes the road to destruction.  The roads to "contentment" and to destruction begin in our hearts.  If in our hearts we are seeking primarily after "godliness," the road will lead us to "contentment"; if in our hearts we are primarily seeking after riches, the road will lead to "destruction."  Paul clearly states to Timothy that those whose greatest goal in life is to get rich are going to be lured into a snare by their own foolish desires:  "People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction."  A foolish desire leads us into something which is not the best for us in the long run; yet it is still what we feel we have to have and what we feel we cannot live without.  A "harmful desire" is a desire that will in the end bring harm to us.

Why would we desire something that will in the end be harmful to us?  The desire to be rich is a harmful and a foolish desire!  But, what is wrong with getting rich and what is wrong with desiring to get rich?  Listen to Paul's words in verse 10:  "For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.  Some people eager for money have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs."  Some believe that this verse says that money is the root of all evil.  But, there are other roots of evil—pride, bitterness and others.  And money itself is not the root of all kinds of evil, but the love of money is the problem.  The verse simply means that every type of evil can come from the love of money.  The "love of money" can lead to stealing, cheating, lying, adultery, hate, strife, bitterness, envy and much more.  So, Christians who seek after money and riches above all can expect to be dragged down the road to destruction by their own selfish desires.  It is a road that leads away from the path of faith, peace, joy, love, righteousness, godliness and contentment.  Instead, they will experience the pangs of guilt, worry, bitterness, and lust for more and more.

Paul had noticed those who, because of "the love of money," had "wandered from the faith."  "Demas, because he loved this world has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica." (II Timothy 4:9)  The false teachers at Ephesus were also those who, because of "the love of money," had "wandered from the faith."  We, also, if we allow "the love of money" to become more important to us than the love of God, can wander from the faith and start down the road to destruction.  We need to examine our hearts regularly so that we can discover which road we are on.  Are we seeking primarily after godliness and the road to the great gain and contentment that come from godliness, or are we seeking primarily after riches and on the road that leads to destruction?  We have the choice of what we seek; but once we make the decision, we have no choice of where it will lead us.  Greed always leads to destruction, and a desire and a seeking after godliness always leads to contentment.

4. The road to godliness and great gain (6:11-16)
"But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.  Fight the good fight of the faith.  Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.  In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which God will bring about in his own timeGod, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see.  To him be honor and might forever.  Amen"

Thought Question #1:  The Christian life is described in the book of Hebrews as a rest and here it is described as a "fight."  How can the Christian life be both a rest and a "fight" at the same time?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  Why is the Christian life a "fight"?

 

 

Thought Question #3:  How do we fight "the good fight"?

 

 

Thought Question #4:  What should motivate us in fighting the "good fight?"

 

 

How, then, do we travel down this road towards godliness?  Paul gives the answer to this question in verses eleven through sixteen.  He calls it "the good fight."  This simply means that the Christian life is not easy.  We can sum it up in this way.  There are many activities that we would not call a fight.  It is not normally a fight to drive a car down a lightly occupied freeway.  But, it would be a fight if the traffic was heavy, if you have been driving for over 8 hours, if there was continual roadwork, and if you were in a hurry because you are behind schedule.  If you are driving in pursuit of some good cause, your drive also would also be good.  It would be "good" and a "fight"—a "good fight."  Our lives would also be easy if there were not any opposition to our following Jesus Christ from within ourselves or outside of ourselves.  But, of course, there is much within us and within the world that is pulling us towards the road to destruction.  When we choose to follow Jesus Christ towards godliness, we are also heading toward a life of struggle; we are fighting the good fight.

The word "fight" is the Greek word from which we get our English word "agonize."  Wuest has the following to say about this Greek word:  "The verb means, 'to contend in the athletic games for the prize, to fight.'....The verb is present tense, imperative mode, commanding a continuous action.  It showed Timothy the necessity for the continuous nature of the Christian's warfare against evil, and of his desperate effort to live a life pleasing to God."  "Taken from Word Studies in the Greek New Testament by Kenneth Wuest.  Copyright 1952 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company"  We will first look at who fights this good fight and then we will look in detail at how we fight it.

Who fights "the good fight"?  The answer to this question is "the man of God."  "The man of God" is the opposite of the man who seeks after riches in the world.  "The man of God," instead, seeks after the riches that come from godliness.  Now, men and women of God, let us look at how we fight "the good fight"; let us look at how we seek after godliness.

a. We must be continually fleeing the worldly self-life. (6:11a)
"But you, man of God, flee from all this,"  Why must we be continually fleeing the self-life?  It is because we can fall into the self-life effortlessly.  It is what comes easily and naturally to us.  Notice, he uses the word "flee."  If you were walking out in the wild through high grass and you suddenly heard a rattling sound, what would you do?  You would "flee" from what sounded like a rattlesnake.  You would "flee" from danger.  We also need to "flee" from all that is dangerous and can draw us away from seeking after godliness.

In Timothy's time, there were teachers that were using God's Word as a means for seeking after the world's riches.  Timothy could have also followed their pattern and used the Bible as a means for seeking after the world's riches.  But, Paul orders him to "flee from all this."  What can drag you away from following God and away from seeking godliness?  What has a strong pull on you?  You also must flee from all of that.  It could be the temptation to become rich, sexual enticement, a desire to be recognized by men, a pull towards the occult, and others.  We must "flee" from each of these types of worldly, Satanic and selfish attractions.  How often must we "flee" from them?  Every day and every minute we must fight this "good fight."

b. We must be continually pursuing "righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness." (6:11b)
"and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness."  The Christian life is not only fleeing from that which is harmful to our Christian life, but it is also pursuing that which is healthy for our Christian life.  We will find that if we only seek to flee from some sinful temptation, we will also find it hard to get our focus off that temptation.  We will be obsessed with not giving into it.  We must not only flee from the sinful temptation, but we must flee towards something which is good and healthy.  The best way to avoid giving in to sin is to be totally absorbed with pursuing or seeking after that which is good and pure.

The man of God realizes that it is only "godliness" that will bring him satisfaction in life.  He will, then, pursue after the good and pure that will bring him great gain.  He will pursue the qualities that Paul lists here.  "Righteousness," the first on the list, is doing that which is right in God's eyes.  We pursue "righteousness" when we are seeking continually to do that which we know is the right thing to do.  For example, when we must choose between lying and telling the truth, we choose to do that which we know is right.

"Godliness" is that which is like God.  As Christians we have God's life within us.  We seek after "godliness" when we seek to be like God.  For example, God is long-suffering; we should also seek to be long-suffering.

"Faith" is trusting in God's love and power in all circumstances.  Our natural tendency is to become anxious when our circumstances are beyond what we can control.  So, we must continually pursue after trusting God.

"Love" is seeking after others' best regardless of the circumstances.  We most easily seek our best.  So, we need to pursue or be seeking after the best for others, even when it is hard and even when we will get little or nothing in return.

"Endurance" is when we continue in all of the above over a long period of time, and in spite of difficult circumstances.  It is natural to give up when it gets rough and become discouraged and bitter.  So, we must pursue "endurance."

"Gentleness" is a willingness to accept the imperfections in the world and in others without becoming harsh or lashing out.  It is much easier to lash out when the driver in front of us is going ten miles below the speed limit and blocking the road, when (in our mind) someone is hogging the bathroom, and when we hear that someone has been maliciously slandering us.  So, we need to pursue "gentleness."  We are fighting the good fight when we are continually pursuing these good qualities and desiring them to be a greater part of our lives.

c. "Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses." (6:12)
"Fight the good fight of the faith.  Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses."  What comes easiest for us is to lazily drift down the current of the self-life.  But what we are to do is grab hold of the eternal life that we have had since we first became a Christian.  The Greek word translated "Take hold" is in the aorist tense.  Which means that we are to grab on once and not let go of it.  We are to believe once and for all that we now have eternal life and we are to live as those who can experience, each day, this new eternal quality of life.  Paul's list in 6:12, which we have just focused on, describes the qualities of this eternal life.  It is a life characterized by godliness.

Paul appears to be describing Timothy's baptism when he reminds him of when he made his "good confession in the presence of many witnesses."  Our baptism is a time when we make public our faith in Jesus Christ.

d. "In the sight of God, who gives life to everything and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ." (6:13-16)
"In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which God will bring about in his own timeGod, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see.  To him be honor and might forever.  Amen"

Jesus said in John 14:21:  "Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me."  Another way of seeking after godliness is seeking to obey God's commandments.  All that Paul had been saying to Timothy in this letter is a command from God.  Paul gives instructions to Timothy about how to keep this command.  (1) In the sight of God and Christ Jesus:  We live in the constant sight of God and Christ Jesus.  We live in the constant presence of the God who has given us physical and spiritual life.  So, we can be confident that we have the life (physical and spiritual) necessary for us to obey His commands.

We are also in the presence of Christ Jesus who has already fought and won His good fight.  He did not choose the easy way nor should we.  His courageous confession before Pilate that He was indeed a King was one outward example of His victory in His good fight for us.  So, as we seek to obey God's command, we can be encouraged that we live in the constant presence of the One who has already provided us with His life.

(2) We are to "keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ":  During the time before Jesus Christ comes back and wins a decisive victory over evil, evil is not to win in the lives of His people.  Our lives are to be "without spot"—we are to allow nothing in our lives that will dirty them; "without blame"—we are to allow nothing in our lives that makes it possible for someone to justly blame us for having done something wrong.

Notice that Paul first takes Timothy back to the past—when he was baptized before many witnesses (6:12).  Then, he reminds Timothy that in the present he lives in "the sight of God."  And, finally, he takes him forward to the future—when Jesus Christ will return.  Both the past, the present, and the future certainly encouraged Timothy toward living a godly life.  The past, the present, and the future should also encourage us toward living a godly life.  Throughout the Bible we are given more than sufficient reasons why we should seek after godliness!

Starting in verse fifteen, Paul does what he does many times.  As Paul considers the future appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, Paul breaks out in spontaneous worship.  Why?  Paul cannot help it as he considers what it will be like in God's presence.  "God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light whom no one has seen or can see.  To him be honor and might forever. Amen."  When Jesus appears, we will stand in the presence of this God!  We will stand before the one Ruler of the universe.  We will stand before the one Person who alone is immortal (athanasia—deathless) (our immortality comes from Him).  We will stand before the One who lives in light so bright that no man can see Him (Yet, we are promised that in our glorified state we will see the invisible God who lives in "unapproachable light." See Matthew 5:8; I Corinthians 13:12; I John 3:2) (We shall see Him "face to face" and we shall see Him "as He is.")

And so we conclude with Paul—"To him be honor and might forever. Amen."  The end of the good fight is that God will receive forever the honor and the reign over his creation that is due Him.  Can you think of any higher purpose for fighting a good fight?

5. Christians are to be commanded to seek for godliness and that which is truly life. (6:17-19)
"Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.  Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.  In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life."

Thought Question:  We, as American Christians, are richer than most Christians in the world; what are Paul's warnings to us in these verses?

 

 

Christians can be divided into two groups, rich Christians and poor Christians.  In these verses, Paul gives Timothy instructions about the rich Christians.  First of all, in verse seventeen, he tells Timothy to "Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment."  Who are the rich Christians today?  Certainly, this verse applies to almost all American Christians.  The rich of Paul's time lived more poorly than most American Christians of our time.  Paul warns us not to put our trust in our riches, which is so uncertain.  Today, having two cars, two television sets, a recreation vehicle of some type, a computer, a microwave, a stereo, and a VCR is common for most Americans.  But, we can lose all of this wealth if we suddenly experience some type of natural disaster, the loss of a job, or an economic crisis.  What can we put our hope in that is secure?  Of course, only God and His love for us will always be secure.  God, through Paul, is giving investment counseling with an eternal perspective.  If people listen when their investment counselor talks, certainly we should listen when God talks to us through Paul.

Why do people put their hope in riches?  Paul gives the following reason: they are arrogant.  We put our hope in riches because we have the cocky confidence that we can find happiness and success without the need for God.  The rich fool in Luke 12:16-21 stored up his wealth so that he would be able to live the rest of his life in plenty.  But what he did not know was that he was going to die that very day.  Maybe you have known someone who accumulated much wealth but died young.  Our lives are very uncertain and in the hands of God alone.  The only way we can be certain that we will be truly rich is to put our hope in God "who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment."  It is He who designed the riches of this world and He alone knows how we can most enjoy them.

In verses eighteen and nineteen, we learn how we can best invest our lives.  "Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds and to be generous and willing to share.  In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life."  What is the way that we can get the most out of our riches and live the life that is truly full?  John D. Rockefeller found that he truly began to enjoy his riches when he began to give them to those who needed them.

It is a principle throughout the Bible that giving, not getting, leads to true enjoyment and prosperity.  "One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.  A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed." (Proverbs 11:24-25)  "And if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.  The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame.  You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail." (Isaiah 58:10-11)  "In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said:  'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'" (Acts 20:35)  (Look at Acts 2:44-45, 4:32-35 for the giving pattern of the early church.  They were willing to sacrifice and give whenever there was a legitimate need.)

We see in verse nineteen that what we give in this life becomes an investment for the next life.  When we give, we are laying up "treasure" for ourselves for the "coming age."  The Scriptures are clear—if we sacrifice on this side of the grave, we will be rewarded on the other side of the grave.  What that reward will be, we cannot be certain, but we can be certain that we cannot take our earthly riches with us.  And so, Paul tells us rich Christians how our riches can be best invested.  We experience the most enjoyment from our wealth when we share our riches with others; when we are rich in doing what is good.  Our American riches can lead us to destruction or they can lead us towards doing great good.

Conclusion (6:20-21)
"Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care.  Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, which some have professed and in so doing have wandered from the faith.  Grace be with you." 

Thought Question:  What can you learn from these last words of Paul in this letter to Timothy about what was most on Paul's heart?

 

 

Now, Paul concludes his letter to Timothy.  In this conclusion we see the heart of Paul, God's apostle to the Gentiles.  When he was near to the end of his life, what was he most concerned about?  He was concerned that the true faith would be passed on from him to Timothy and to the generations after him.  He told Timothy to "hold on to faith" (1:18); that women need to "continue in faith" (2:15), that in the later days "some will abandon the faith" (4:1); that some women had "already turned away to follow Satan" (5:15); and that some had "wandered from the faith" because of their love of money (6:10).  He continues his concern throughout II Timothy (See 1:14-15, 2:1-2, 16-18, 3:14, 4:10a).

And so, Paul closes his first letter to Timothy with these words:  "Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care.  Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, which some have professed and in so doing have wandered from the faith.  Grace be with you."  As Christians we are entrusted with the greatest riches of all.  It is found in the book we call the Bible.  How do we guard it?  We guard what has been entrusted to our care by not being deceived by that which can draw us away from its riches.  In First Timothy, Paul warned Timothy and us not to be drawn away by the allure of the world's riches or by the deceit of the false teacher.  Timothy is urged to turn away from the "godless chatter" of the false teacher; and so today we also should turn away from the "godless chatter" of those that we have learned are false teachers.  They say that they have great new insights into the Bible that will lead us to worldly riches and elevate us above other men, but what they are teaching is the very opposite of what is taught in the Bible.

So, we have seen God's pattern for the church as described in the book of First Timothy.  How does it compare to the pattern for the church we see today?  What are God's goals for the church?  He desires that we be growing into godly men and women, that there be godly leaders in the church, that we are teaching the truth, that we are free from being controlled by the world's riches, that there is His orderliness in the church, and that we protect the teachings in the Bible from false teachers.  Down through the ages, the church has had ungodly leaders; there have been false teachers and false teaching in the church; the church has sought after worldly riches; and finally the church has many times fallen away from the order described in this book.  But, we still have this Divine blueprint for the church.  We can still do what Paul desired, "guard what has been entrusted" to us.  We can seek after godliness, we can boldly speak out against error; we can resist the pull of riches, and we can seek to keep the church moving forward in the faith.  And, then, we like Paul, can pass on what has been entrusted to us to the next generation!

 

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. ®   NIV ®   Copyright ©  1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission.  All Rights reserved.

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The Battle For The Sunshine Psalms Vol II
How To Live A Full Life In An Empty World Ecclesiastes 1-6
How To Live A Full Life In An Empty World Ecclesiastes 6-12
God Is Ruler Of The Times Of The Gentiles Daniel 1-6
God Is Ruler Of The Times Of The Gentiles Daniel 7-12
When God Seems Far Away Habakkuk
The Good News About Israel's King Matthew 1-7
The Good News About Israel's King Matthew 8-14
The Good News About Israel's King Matthew 15-22
The Good News About Israel's King Matthew 23-28
The Good News About The Son Of Man Luke 1-6
The Good News About The Son Of Man Luke 7-12
The Good News About The Son Of Man Luke 13-18
The Word Became Flesh! John 1-6
The Word Became Flesh! John 7-12
The Word Became Flesh! John 13-17
The Word Became Flesh! John 18-21
Christianity In The Courtroom Romans 1-4
Christianity In The Courtroom Romans 5-8
Christianity In The Courtroom Romans 9-11
Christianity In The Courtroom Romans 12-16
The Battle For The Sunshine I Corinthians 1-6
The Battle For The Sunshine I Corinthians 7-11
The Battle For The Sunshine I Corinthians 12-16
Paul's Life And Ministry: Triumph Through Weakness II Corinthians 1-7
Paul's Life And Ministry: Triumph Through Weakness II Corinthians 8-13
Rediscovering The Joy Of The Gospel Galatians
Seeing The Church From God's Perspective - Seeing The Riches Of God's Grace! Ephesians 1-3
Seeing The Church From God's Perspective - Seeing The Riches Of God's Grace! Ephesians 4-6
How To Be A Joyful And United Church Philippians
Pursuing Our Fulness In Christ Colossians
A Message To New Christians I Thessalonians
A Second Message To New Christians - A Wider Focus On The Christian Life II Thessalonians
God's Plan For Order In The Church I Timothy
How To Finish Strong In The Lord II Timothy
Doing What Is Good Titus
How To Motivate Others To Do What God Wants Them To Do Philemon
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We Should Always Move Forward In Our Faith Hebrews 10-13
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How To Have Wholesome Christian Thinking II Peter
The Glorious Circle That Is Eternal Life I John
How Our Joy Can Be Complete &
Two Good Examples And One Bad Example
II & III John
What To Do When The Church Gets Off-Track: Contending For The Faith! Jude
The Unveiling Of The Glorified Jesus Christ And The End Of The Age Revelation 1-5
The Unveiling Of The Glorified Jesus Christ And The End Of The Age Revelation 6-11
The Unveiling Of The Glorified Jesus Christ And The End Of The Age Revelation 12-16
The Unveiling Of The Glorified Jesus Christ And The End Of The Age Revelation 17-22