1 Timothy 1-6
Timothy, a young man called of God and because of his age and inexperience, frequently discouraged. We see Paul encourage him to continue his work at Ephesus, a city devoted to the goddess Diana. This letter explains church management and the responsibility of a pastor to his church.
Paul’s greeting reaffirms Timothy’s position as leader of the church and reminded him to avoid any kind of false doctrine. It’s amazing how quickly false doctrine spread! This false doctrine came from misuse of Old Testament law. Legalism had surfaced, and people were being led away from the doctrine of grace. He reminds Timothy that the Law is for all types of sinners (1 Timothy 1:9-10). A repentant sinner is freed from the bondage of the law through redemption by the grace of God.
Paul takes another opportunity to share his testimony (1:13) and exhorted Timothy to defend the faith (1:18-20).
We are reminded of the spiritual responsibilities of the church. It’s first priority is prayer.
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. 1 Timothy 2:1-6 (ESV)
Say that word and many people tense up and close their ears. But submission isn’t evil. It’s recognizing God’s order and obeying. When you are in the center of God’s will, obedience becomes easier.
Paul reminds Christian women to dress modestly (2:9) – to show modesty and self-control. In Ephesus, as in our culture, looks were important and some women focused on competing to see who could have the most beautiful hair, dress, jewelry… which takes the focus off of our life in Christ and puts it on earthly things. Paul didn’t say good works would save. He simply reminds us ladies that godly beauty comes from within.
Women aren’t second class citizens in the kingdom. They ministered to Jesus (Luke 8:1-3). A woman was the first to see the risen Savior. We’ve seen Dorcus, Lydia and Priscilla (Acts 9, 16 and 18). Paul mentioned eight women in Romans 16. A woman carried the letter to Rome and was a deaconess in a local church (Romans 16:1). Paul’s point is that women have a different role – they are to raise families, train children and instruct younger sisters in Christ.
If a woman can’t lead, she must follow. What are the qualifications of a leader of men and women?
The Pastor (overseer, elder – 3:1-7, Titus 1:5-9). Must have nothing to hide. A pastor sins just like the rest of us, but there must be nothing in his life that if exposed would cause the church to come under attack or criticism. We have seen too many stories of pastors who have abused congregation members, committed adultery, embezzled, etc. Must be a husband of one wife. Remarriage is permitted in the case of the death of a spouse (Genesis 2:18 and 1 Timothy 4:3), but divorce is not permitted. Must be able to keep his head, be serious about his work, be organized, love hospitality, able to teach, not argumentative or a troublemaker, not greedy, patient, happy with what he has, and having a godly family.
The Deacon (servant -- 3:8-13). Worthy of respect, not a gossip or a drunkard. Doctrinally sound with a godly home, showing a willingness to work.
We see that the men who are our leaders must be mature, godly, not divorced, sober minded as they oversee the local church. Paul tells us what the local church should be.
First and foremost, it’s the household of God. It is our family, and like any family it needs discipline – the function of the leaders (1 Corinthians 4:18-5:13; 2 Corinthians 2:6-11). As children in the family of God, the leaders are expected to encourage and nourish us.
Many books have been published in recent years purporting to tell us how to start, build and increase a local church, and some of them contain good counsel. However, the best counsel for managing a local church is found in these three inspired letters. – Warren Wiersbe
Do you remember the old hymn, “A Mighty Fortress” (a bulwark never failing). Do you know what a bulwark is? It’s a solid wall-like structure raised for defense; a strong support or protection (Merriam-Webster). Our church is our defense, and our leaders are the ones who help the church protect the truth of the person and work of Jesus Christ. It is the leader’s responsibility to help us open and understand God’s word – but it is OUR responsibility to study God’s Word in private, too. When the entire church is steeped in God’s Word, false teachers cannot find their way in. we see so many churches today who no longer believe that the Bible is God’s inspired, inerrant Word. Some pastors don’t believe that Jesus was raised from the dead, or that He was born of a virgin! Some pastors think that God is a “she”.
How do false prophets worm their way into the church? They are energized by Satan (4:1 – the only place demons are mentioned in any of Paul’s letters). We know that Satan does all he can to impersonate God, so it makes sense that he would try to get his ministers and doctrines inside God’s church. False teachers want to lead people away from God’s truth – they may even preach God’s Word, but have a life that’s not at all spiritual.
In Paul’s day, the big problem was legalism. Would it be better or more spiritual to remain unmarried? (Paul answered that in 1 Corinthians 7:1-24). Other people taught that some foods needed to be rejected for spiritual reasons, going against Jesus’ teaching (Mark 7:14-23). If your church teaches that you need to do “stuff” that’s not specifically in the Bible, it is teaching false doctrine. If your church says that homosexuality or living together before marriage is okay today, it is teaching false doctrine. If your church only believes that part of the Bible applies to us today, it is teaching false doctrine.
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (KJV)
We have learned about the expectations for ministers and leaders. We know that the church is the bulwark protecting the Gospel. Paul finishes his letter by discussing the responsibilities of church members (Christians).
The older and more mature are to instruct the younger (5:1-10). Widows were to be protected and cared for by the church if they were over 60 with no other family members, otherwise Paul expected the family to help each other out. Widows were expected to do what they could to minister to others. The younger men and women were to accept the instruction of their elders, which would strengthen the bonds of fellowship and make mature believers of all.
It seems that poor Timothy had lots of problems and questions in his church – is it okay to drink wine (1 Timothy 5:23)? Should the position of “elder” (pastor) be paid or volunteer (5:17-18)? What happens if there is a need for discipline of the church leaders (5:19-21)? How are leaders selected and ordained (5:22-25)? What happens to a slave who becomes a Christian (6:1-2) [and by extension, does this apply to us in our role as employee]? What happens if a congregation finds itself under a false teacher (6:3-10)? What kind of care should a pastor take for and of himself (6:11-16, 20, 21)? Is it okay to have money (6;17-19)?
For some of us, these words are inspiring. For others, these words may be frustrating, but Paul leaves us with a word of encouragement:
Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 1 Timothy 6:11-12 (ESV)
Fight on, friends! There’s not much left to complete for our challenge year of 2012. You’ve stuck with it – doesn’t it feel good? As always, I would love to hear what you’ve learned or thought as you’ve read the words of Scripture. Email me or leave a comment. See you next week for week 51!