1 Timothy

Addressing Heresy and Ungodliness at Ephesus

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The Key
The Key to unlocking the dynamic

The key to unlocking the dynamic of Paul’s first letter to Timothy is to take time to understand the full extent of the chaos the false teachers were creating in the church at Ephesus. Several types of people had given up being Christians (5:15, 6:21), outsiders were openly slandering the church (5:14, 5:19, 6:1), some untaught people had assumed the right to teach and as a result were mishandling the Old Testament law and two were even blaspheming Christ. Some wealthy powerful women, (who may have been influenced by the Diana cult at Ephesus), seem to have been asserting their authority, wealth, social status and influence, and the men in the church were in angry dispute with each other. In addition some of the elders had been accused of mishandling the church’s finances, and it seems that some unsuitable people had somehow infiltrated the church’s leadership. In all of this the false teachers were consumed with discussions about genealogies, myths, and irrelevant controversies. Paul’s letter of ‘1 Timothy’ is written to bring order to this ‘utter mayhem’ and focus the church back on the primary focus of the gospel of Christ the Saviour.


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Click on the link above for an audio version of 1 Timothy.

Download the Bible App for your smart phone and listen when you’re at the gym, travelling etc …

 

Listen to a Worship song:

Now unto the king eternal

1 Timothy 1:17

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yGyuZXlw7Q0


Read
Read

It will take you around 8-10 minutes to read aloud Paul’s first letter to Timothy. It is excellent practice to read the letter aloud every day for a week, which is itself commended in 1 Timothy 4:13. Before you begin to read, pray specifically asking the Holy Spirit to speak to you, and when you reach the end, write down what you have noticed and what has struck you.

Since the proper understanding of every book in the Bible is only possible when the context has been carefully studied, you will find the following passages provide useful background: Acts 16:1-3; 1 Thessalonians 3; 1 Corinthians 4:16-17,  16:10-11; Philippians 2:19-24.


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At the root of all the heresy, ungodliness and disorder at Ephesus was ‘the love of money’ (6:10). The film “Trust” is all about people who loved money:


Study
Study

From the very beginning when first I started Bible for Life I have avoided ‘1 Timothy’; it is the very last New Testament book that I have engaged with. But to my surprise over the past few weeks (and I scold myself for my earlier hesitation), I have come to realise that I have been avoiding a feast! This difficult, unusual and perplexing document has begun to reveal deep treasures. The secret of this unravelling has been the practice of reading aloud three of its chapters each day. Then, through a continuous engagement of thinking, asking and answering questions and allowing time to wonder and probe what was actually happening in that troubled church at Ephesus, I have discovered how to gently lift this jewel to the sunshine and see its beautiful refracted light spill open its wonderful Kingdom truths.


Meditate
Meditate

Suggested verses for meditation …

 

1:5   ‘The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.’

1:15   ‘Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners’

2:4-6   ‘God our Saviour … 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 men -the testimony given in its proper time.’

4:7-8   ‘… 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.’

4:14   ‘Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you.’  

5:17   ‘The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honour, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching.’

6:6   ‘Godliness with contentment is great gain.’

6:11   ‘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.’

6:20   ‘Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care. Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, …’

 


learn
Learn

Consider learning:

 

1:5   ‘The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.’  

1:15   ‘Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.’

2:4-6   ‘God our Saviour … 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 men -the testimony given in its proper time.’

4:7-8   ‘… 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.’

6:11   ‘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.’

6:20   ‘Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care. Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, …’


Challenge
The Challenge

Explanation: We all learn in different ways. This section is for those who find that challenging questions motivate them to master a subject.

Here are ten questions about ‘1 Timothy’. See how you score. The answers are at the bottom of the page.

Easy:

Q1   Who were two of the leading false teachers at Ephesus that Paul excommunicated for blasphemy?

Q2   Who does Paul claim is the worst of sinners?

Q3   What were the false teachers handling wrongly?

Straightforward:

Q4   What two things should church leaders watch closely?

Q5   What motivated the false teachers?

Q6   Among which three groups of people in the church at Ephesus were the effects of the false teaching most clearly evident?

Difficult:

Q7   What appears to have been the reaction of the general population of Ephesus to the disorder and chaos in the Ephesian church?

Q8   What was the extreme result of the false teaching and chaos in the Ephesian church?

Testing:

Q9    Which atonement images does Paul emphasise in ‘1 Timothy’?

Q10   What had happened to the consciences of the false teachers?

 

Answers:

A1 – Hymenaeus and Alexander (1:20).

A2 – Paul himself (1:15-16), because he persecuted and nearly destroyed the church (Acts 26:9-12).

A3 – The Old Testament law (1:7-11).

A4 – Their life and doctrine (4:16).

A5 – The love of money (6:3-10).

A6 – 1) The widows (5:3-16); 2) The elders (5:17-25); 3) The slaves (6:1-2).

A7 – Slander against the church (5:14, 6:1 and 5:19-20). See also 3:7, 3:8, 3:11.

A8 – Some Christians were deserting the faith (4:1, 5:15, 6:10).

A9 – 1) Saviour/salvation. 2) Ransom (2:6). 3) Mediator (2:5).

A10 – Their consciences had become seared as with a hot iron (4:2, 1:5, 1:19).

 

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Overview

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    • Summary - All the key features in a one page summary
    • Summary
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    • 21st C Story

    ‘1 Timothy’ is widely considered to be the most difficult of Paul’s letters, so our engagement with these six chapters will need to be balanced and level-headed throughout.

    It seems most convincing to place this letter towards the very end of Paul’s ministry in the period after his appeal had been heard by Caesar, when he and his colleagues Titus and Timothy travelled first to Crete and then north into Macedonia. On hearing disturbing reports of false teaching and pastoral chaos in the church of Ephesus, Paul writes ‘1 Timothy’, commissioning his younger mission colleague Timothy to travel to Ephesus, take authority and sort out the rampant disorder in that church. Paul appears to deliberately employ a type of commissioning letter used by the Roman administration in which a person is authorised in a private letter that is then read publicly when they assume their new office. The date would have been around 64CE; soon afterwards Paul was re-arrested and taken to Rome where he was executed.

    In ‘1 Timothy’, Paul first identifies the mishandling of the Old Testament law as the fundamental mistake of the false teachers. It appears that in the seven years since Paul had left the city, their teaching had become increasingly skewed, even to the point where two of the most prominent teachers were directly blaspheming Christ and God. They also appear to be accusing Paul of lying about his divine commission to be the apostle to the Gentiles. Paul excommunicates Hymenaeus and Alexander, and sets about bringing order to the doctrinal and pastoral chaos in the church.

    The structure of the letter is straightforward. Paul begins by addressing the false teaching, rehearsing his own testimony and excommunicating two of the leading false teachers. He then argues that in order to discharge the priority of the mission of the gospel, Christian men must not dispute and argue with each other, and Christian women must not flaunt their wealth and status, nor should they abuse their authority. Paul instructs the church on the characteristics required in both those who oversee and serve the church. Timothy himself is exhorted to be a clear example of a ‘good minister’ who both teaches the true gospel and models godly living. Paul then gives instructions addressing the pastoral disorder in the church’s care of its widows, the eldership and among the slaves, before specifically warning Timothy and the whole Ephesian church about the pernicious influence of the love of money that underlies all the problems the church at Ephesus is facing.

    Supposing that early in your life you had invented a unique product which proved very popular and sold widely. Then throughout your life you established a successful profitable business selling this product throughout the world. Over the years the business grew to employ hundreds of people, it grew in profitability and became well known and respected for the quality of the product.

    You then handed the running of the business over to a younger member of your family and directed your attention to some very different interests and concerns.

    Several years later you hear that the family business you established has run into significant difficulties. The management have lost their way, instead of selling the highly successful original product you invented, the directors are focusing their time and energy on developing other products, which aren’t nearly so popular as your original invention. As a result, the financial reserves you built up are largely spent, your client base which had previously proved so resilient is deteriorating and at the last Annual General Meeting there was open and severe criticism of the management. In addition, you hear that there is considerable tension and conflict between the directors on the board of the company. Financial debts have been run up and the bankers who have been increasingly nervous about what they see happening have approached you asking you to return to the company and sort out the chaos.

    You are now in your early 70s and not as strong or as healthy as you were ten years ago. In addition, there are several other very different pressing concerns that you are engaged with.

     

    What do you do?

     

    21st C Story >
    taster Questions - Questions to start you off

    Question 1 -

    What does blasphemy look like in the 21st Century?


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    Question 2 -

    What does excommunication look like in the 21st Century?


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    Question 3 -

    Have you ever listened to a sermon on the internet (or in church) that either had nothing to do with Jesus and the Kingdom, or actually contradicted what Jesus taught? What is the most essential thing you need to do to guard the gospel in your present context?


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    Question 4 -

    Have you seen women flaunting their wealth, status and power in church?


    Question 5 -

    Who is the wisest and most loving church leader you have ever known?


    starter course

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    Argument

    the essentials

    Questions

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    • podcasts - 3 to 5 minute ‘Teach-Ins’ on key themes

    The Problem at Ephesus

    Paul's strategy in dealing with the problem at Ephesus

    Discipleship in 1 Timothy

      Argument - Understanding how the argument develops

    The strategy of Paul’s argument in ‘1 Timothy’

    During the long period after Paul left Ephesus (as described in Acts 20), was taken prisoner in Jerusalem, journeyed to Rome, and was finally released after his hearing before Caesar, the church in Ephesus had come under the influence of false teachers. It seems that when Paul, Timothy and Titus arrived in Crete, Paul began to hear worrying reports about the Ephesian church. So, he sent Timothy to Ephesus with the letter we call ‘1 Timothy’, commissioning him to address and correct the false teachers and counter their teaching (1:3-4).

    The root issue with the false teachers seems to have been a misuse of the Old Testament law along with a pernicious pursuit of wealth. This led them to teach against the two creation ordinances of marriage and God’s gift of food to humankind. Paul describes them as consumed with ‘myths and endless genealogies’, ‘meaningless talk’, and ‘old wives’ tales’ (1:4, 6; 4:7). He states that they are ‘conceited’, that ‘they understand nothing and have 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’ (6:4-5). As a result, there is disorder and tension in the church’s worship, between men and women, in the governance of the church, among the widows, and particularly among the younger widows. There are accusations of financial misconduct by some of the church’s elders, and a form of insubordination among the slaves that is bringing the whole church into disrepute.

    Paul does a number of things in this letter:

    • He commissions Timothy to go to Ephesus with this letter and to silence the false teachers.
    • He defends his own apostolic commissioning from God himself.
    • He excommunicates Hymenaeus and Alexander for blasphemy.
    • He highlights and exposes the false teaching,
    • He explains why the false teaching has become rooted in the church.
    • He addresses the root problem with the men.
    • He addresses the root problem with the women.
    • He clarifies the godly characteristics required in overseers.
    • He lists the godly characteristics required in those who serve the church.
    • He exhorts Timothy to progress in his own discipleship.
    • He instructs Timothy how to discharge his responsibilities as a ‘good minister of Christ Jesus’.
    • Paul addresses and instructs Timothy and the church as to how to correct three pastoral problems; the care of widows, the mishandling of money by some elders, and a problem among those in the church who were slaves.

    Throughout the letter, Paul returns to the issue of the false teachers. He corrects them both directly and indirectly. He repeatedly cites Timothy as the opposite of the false teachers and exhorts him to be a credible alternative for the church members to follow.

     

    So Paul structures his first letter to Timothy as follows:

    Introduction

    • 1:3-11 Paul begins with the clear statement that Timothy must stay in Ephesus and command the false teachers not to teach false doctrines. Their principle fault is the mishandling of the Old Testament law, with the result that they focus on myths, genealogies, controversies and meaningless talk.
    • 1:12-20 (also 2:7) Paul then asserts his apostolic authority to do this by reciting his conversion testimony as an example of Christ’s grace and patience to all sinners (1:12-17). He completes his introduction by exhorting Timothy to excel in his ministry, and then publicly announcing the excommunication of the two leading false teachers for blasphemy!

     

    Correcting disorder in worship and the governance of the church

    • 2:1-15 Since the leading priority is the mission to spread the gospel to all humanity, we should pray for civil government that promotes peace (2:1-7). Men must not be in dispute and conflict with each other (2:8), neither should women promote themselves through displaying their status and wealth, nor exert undue authority over their husbands and other men (2:9-15).
    • 3:1-16 Paul then gives clear instructions on the godly characteristics required in those who oversee the church (3:1-7), and those appointed to serve the church (3:8-13), in order that the gospel truth is lived out in the world (3:14-16).
    • 4:1-16 Next, Paul addresses the false teachers and their specific error of forbidding God’s creation gifts of marriage and food (4:1-5). In contrast, Timothy must teach the truths of the faith and train himself to be godly (4:6-10). He must ‘set an example’ to the believers, focusing on the ministry of the word and the spiritual gift God has given him. He must watch his life and doctrine closely (4:11-16). 

     

    Paul addresses three specific pastoral problems

    • 5:1-2 Before addressing three leading pastoral problems, Paul reminds Timothy (and the church) that correction ought to be administered lovingly and with ‘respect’ (5:1-2). In each matter Paul emphasises that the church must behave so that there is no opportunity for outsiders to slander the church, the gospel or God (5:14, 20, 21, 6:1).
    • 5:3-16 Pastoral problem 1: Cases where some are taking advantage of the church’s care of widows. Paul gives clear instructions about the ‘terms and conditions’ under which the church should take responsibility for the provision of care for widows. Believers should provide for the widows in their own families. He encourages the younger widows to remarry and raise a family.
    • 5:17-25 Pastoral problem 2: Financial impropriety by some elders. Where appropriate, elders should receive proper remuneration for their work. Where necessary, the disciplinary process must be impartial, and any guilty of wrongdoing should be rebuked publicly.
    • 6:1-2 Pastoral problem 3: Slaves disrespecting their Christian masters. Christian slaves should respect their Christian masters and serve them even better so there is no opportunity to slander God or the gospel.

     

    Paul addresses the root at the heart of the false teaching

    • 6:3-10 The love of wealth is at the root of the false teaching. Paul identifies the love and pursuit of wealth as being at the root of the false teaching at Ephesus, and the root cause of the controversies, malicious talk, and endless strife.
    • 6:11-21 In contrast, Timothy must pursue ‘righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness’ and take hold of eternal life (6:11-16). Wealthy Christians should put their trust in God, not their money, do good, be generous and willing to share (6:17-19). Above all, Timothy must guard the truth of the gospel and resist all false knowledge and teaching (6:20-21).

     

      the essentials - The literary features explained
    • Context
    • /
    • Literary Genre
    • /
    • Structure
    • /
    • Themes

    Historical Context: Although the timing of this letter is not easy to locate, it is plausible to understand that Paul wrote it during a fourth missionary journey. An alternate view is that Paul wrote this letter after visiting Crete in the period between Acts 19:20 and 19:21. After the favourable resolution of Paul’s appeal to Caesar, and his release from the ‘house arrest’ described at the end of Acts 28, it makes good sense to view Paul as then travelling to Crete with Titus and Timothy (see the map). Paul was disturbed by the chaos he found in the Cretan churches but decided to leave Crete with Timothy after he heard alarming reports about the church in Ephesus. Paul then wrote this letter to Timothy commissioning him to go to Ephesus and address the false teaching there (1:3) while he himself travelled north into Macedonia.

    Author: Paul. There is some debate about this because of literary and historical difficulties; it is possible that one of his team members may have used Paul’s written and oral teaching to compose ‘1 Timothy’ on his behalf.

    Date: 64CE.

    Timothy is mentioned in several of Paul’s letters. He worked very closely with the apostle for many years, representing him on visits to the churches at Thessalonica, Corinth and Philippi, and even being mentioned alongside Paul as the co-author of some of the letters. In 2 Timothy 1:2, Paul describes him as ‘my dear son’.

    Paul seems to have deliberately chosen to use the ‘mandata principis’ genre in order to commission Timothy to address the chaos in the church at Ephesus. Such letters were standard Roman practice when commissioning an individual into an official post. The letter was written in order to be read publicly once the person arrived at the location into which they had been commissioned. Such literature was therefore ‘quasi-public’ in character, containing both public and personal instructions. The letter is also Paul’s ‘charge’ to Timothy (5:21, 6:13). One interesting feature is Paul’s inclusion of ‘trustworthy sayings’ which occur three times in this letter (1:15, 3:1, 4:9).

    The Structure and Argument of ‘1 Timothy’:

    Introduction:

    • 1:1-11 Paul begins with the clear statement that Timothy must stay in Ephesus and command the false teachers not to teach false doctrines. Their principle fault is the mishandling of the Old Testament law, with the result that they focus on myths, genealogies, controversies and meaningless talk (1:3-11).
    • 1:12-20 Paul then asserts his apostolic authority to do this by reciting his conversion testimony as an example of Christ’s grace and patience to all sinners (1:12-17; also 2:7). He completes his introduction by exhorting Timothy to excel in his ministry, and then publicly announcing the excommunication of the two leading false teachers for blasphemy!

     

    Correcting disorder in worship and the governance of the church

    • 2:1-15 Since the leading priority is the mission to spread the gospel to all humanity, we should pray for civil government that promotes peace (2:1-7). Men must not be in dispute and conflict with each other (2:8), neither should women promote themselves through displaying their status and wealth, nor exert undue authority over their husbands and other men (2:9-15).
    • 3:1-16 Paul then gives clear instructions on the godly characteristics required in those who oversee the church (3:1-7), and those appointed to serve the church (3:8-13), in order that the gospel truth is lived out in the world (3:14-16).
    • 4:1-16 Next, Paul addresses the false teachers and their specific error of forbidding God’s creation gifts of marriage and food (4:1-5). In contrast, Timothy must teach the truths of the faith and train himself to be godly (4:6-10). He must ‘set an example’ (4:12) to the believers, focusing on the ministry of the word and the spiritual gift God has given him. He must watch his life and doctrine closely (4:11-16).

     

    Paul addresses three specific pastoral problems:

    • 5:1-2 Before addressing three leading pastoral problems, Paul reminds Timothy (and the church) that correction ought to be administered lovingly and with ‘respect’, (5:1-2). In each matter, Paul emphasises that the church must behave so that there is no opportunity for outsiders to slander the church, the gospel or God (5:14, 20, 21, 6:1).
    • 5:3-16 Pastoral problem 1: Cases where some are taking advantage of the church’s care of widows. Paul gives clear instructions about the ‘terms and conditions’ under which the church should take responsibility for the provision of care for widows. Believers should provide for the widows in their own families. He encourages the younger widows to remarry and raise a family (5:3-16).
    • 5:17-25 Pastoral problem 2: Financial impropriety by some elders. Where appropriate, elders should receive proper remuneration for their work. Where necessary, the disciplinary process must be impartial, and any guilty of wrongdoing should be rebuked publicly (5:17-25).
    • 6:1-2 Pastoral problem 3: Slaves disrespecting their Christian masters. Christian slaves should respect their Christian masters and serve them even better, so there is no opportunity to slander God or the gospel (6:1-2).

     

    Paul addresses the root at the heart of the false teaching

    • 6:3-10 The love of wealth is at the root of the false teaching. Paul identifies the love and pursuit of wealth as being at the root of the false teaching at Ephesus, and the root cause of the controversies, malicious talk, and endless strife (6:3-10).
    • 6:10-21 In contrast, Timothy must pursue ‘righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness’ and take hold of eternal life (6:11-16). Wealthy Christians should put their trust in God, not their money, do good, be generous and willing to share (6:17-19). Above all, Timothy must guard the truth of the gospel and resist all false knowledge and teaching (6:20-21).
    1. Christ is Saviour.
    2. The nature and features of the false teaching and chaos in the Ephesian church.
    3. The way that the love of money was corrupting different parts of the Ephesian church.
    4. The true doctrine of the gospel.
    5. What it means to be a ‘good minister’.
    6. Good practice in church.
    Literary Genre >
    starter Questions - To help you think carefully about the key issues

    Question 1 -

    What should we all do to protect our churches from false teaching?


    Question 2 -

    The charity Oxfam was recently exposed when one of their directors was found to have been visiting prostitutes while overseeing aid relief in a crisis zone. Christians are called to be generous and give sacrificially, but we must not be naive. What sensible steps should we take to ensure that we give responsibly, and that our gifts are used responsibly?


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    Question 3 -

    Paul gives extensive instructions about the widows in the church at Ephesus. Today, there are many single people in our churches. What do single people need? How can the church, and perhaps especially married people, provide for some of the needs that single people may have? How can we help single parents, divorcees, the unemployed, and those that suffer from long-term illness?


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    Question 4 -

    “Money can’t buy me love” – can’t it?


    main course

    Verse by Verse

    The Apprentice

    Questions

    • Verse by Verse - For a thorough understanding of the Biblical text
    • 1:1-20 False Teaching and Disorder at Ephesus
    • /
    • 2:1 - 4:16 Correcting disorder in worship and church governance
    • /
    • 5:1 - 6:2 Addressing Three Pastoral Problems
    • /
    • 6:3 - 21 The problem at the root of the false teaching

    Section 1   1:1 – 20   The context: false teaching and disorder at Ephesus

     

    Argument: 1) 1:3-11   Paul begins with the clear statement that Timothy must stay in Ephesus and command the false teachers not to teach false doctrines. Their principle fault is the mishandling of the Old Testament law, with the result that they focus on myths, genealogies, controversies and meaningless talk.

    2) 1:12-20 (also 2:7)   Paul then asserts his apostolic authority to do this by reciting his conversion testimony as an example of Christ’s grace and patience to all sinners (1:12-17). He completes his introduction by exhorting Timothy to excel in his ministry, and then publicly announcing the excommunication of the two leading false teachers for blasphemy!

     

    1:1 – 2   Greeting

    Paul adapts the standard greeting used in contemporary letters of the time to introduce some of the leading themes he is about to address.

    Since ‘1 Timothy’ is a strong, confrontative rebuttal of false teachers and their teaching, Paul states that not only is he an apostle of Christ Jesus, but that his appointment was commanded by God himself! Furthermore, Timothy is publicly endorsed as Paul’s ‘true son in the faith’ (v2), in contrast to the two false teachers that Paul has excommunicated (v20).

     

    1:3 – 7    Paul commissions Timothy to silence certain false teachers and end their influence 

    This paragraph sets the context for the entire letter of ‘1 Timothy’. Paul specifically commissions Timothy to ‘command certain men not to teach false doctrines’ (v3). Rather than build up the believers in love and faith, the effect of their false teaching has been to incite controversies and meaningless speculation within the church.

    V3   After his hearing before Caesar, Paul, Timothy and Titus appear to have travelled to Crete where Paul left Titus and travelled into Macedonia. Hearing about the disorder in Ephesus, he sends Timothy with this letter to address the false teachers.

    V5   Faith in Christ evidenced by love for other Christians are the two defining features of ‘church’. The essential mistake of the false teachers was to allow their consciences to be corrupted, (4:2), principally by the love and pursuit of money (6:5,10). Timothy, by contrast, must hold onto ‘faith and a good conscience’ (1:19).

    V7   The false teachers are teaching the Torah, the Old Testament law, wrongly. They are untrained and have no idea how dangerous their false teaching is.

     

    1:8 – 11   The false teachers are mistaken about ‘the law’   

    The (Old Testament) law is God-given and ‘good’, but it must be used properly.

    It seems that some of the elders of the Ephesian church have assumed a right to teach despite being neither gifted nor trained as teachers. As a direct result, they are teaching about ‘the law’ in a way that contradicts ‘sound doctrine’ and brings ‘controversy’ (v4) and ‘speculation’ (v6) into the church, rather than ‘faith and love’ (v5).

    V9-10   Paul systematically addresses those who disobey the ‘ten commandments’ (Exodus 20:12-16).

    V11   The false teachers’ doctrines about the law are in sharp contrast to the gospel which God has entrusted to Paul. Paul will now elaborate this gospel in terms of his own exceptional story of salvation by grace.

     

    1:12 – 17   Paul’s testimony of salvation by God’s grace

    Paul now counters and contrasts the false teachers’ teaching about the law (v8-11) with the message of salvation by grace leading to a life of ‘faith and love’ (v14). What is so extraordinary about this section is that he describes himself as the primary exhibit of this grace, twice describing himself as ‘the worst of sinners’ (v15, 16).

    V13   Paul’s ‘blasphemy’ in his earlier non-Christian life contrasts with the blasphemy of the two false teachers, Hymenaeus and Alexander (v20). It seems that their teaching about ‘law’ had led them to a place where they denied the divinity of Christ. In contrast, Saul/Paul’s denial of Christ’s divinity was changed through an encounter with grace into the conviction that Christ is fully divine. This section gives remarkable insight into God’s immense patience and mercy with the ‘ignorant’.

    V16   God is very patient with men and women; he even delays Christ’s return so that we have time to repent (2 Peter 3:9).

    V17   One of the finest doxologies in scripture. Paul includes another exemplary doxology in praise of the Lord at the close of the letter (6:15-16). These stand in deliberate contrast to the blasphemy of the two leading heretical teachers, Hymenaeus and Alexander (1:20).

     

    1:18 – 20   Paul endorses his charge to Timothy, over against the excommunicated false teachers

    Paul now concludes the letter’s opening by personifying the contrast of the misuse of ‘the law’ (v8-11) and the gospel of grace that leads to a life of ‘faith and love in Christ’ (v12-17) in the contrast between the leading false teachers – whom Paul has excommunicated (v20) – and Timothy, Paul’s ‘son’ (v18). All this serves to endorse Timothy’s authority, and to commission him to refute the false teachers at Ephesus and end the pernicious influence of their teaching.

    V20   The dangerous influence of these two men should not be minimised; both are mentioned in Paul’s subsequent letter to Timothy (2 Timothy 2:17, 4:14). It was because these men’s consciences were ‘seared’ (4:2) that they had lost the ability to discern what is godly, even to the point where they were actually blaspheming God. Paul’s comment in 6:1 may give a clue into the nature of this blasphemy: were the false teachers actively encouraging insubordination among Christian slaves in such a way as to ferment slander and vocal criticism of God not only from outside the church, but from inside also?

    Section 2   2:1 – 4:16   Correcting disorder in worship and the governance of the church

     

    Argument: 2:1-15   Since the leading priority is the mission to spread the gospel to all humanity, we should pray for civil government that promotes peace (2:1-7). Men must not be in dispute and conflict with each other (2:8), neither should women promote themselves through displaying their status and wealth, nor exert undue authority over their husbands and other men (2:9-15).

     

    2:1 – 7   The priority of the mission of the gospel

    Paul’s leading priority is to discharge God’s apostolic commission to him by proclaiming the message of God’s saving work through Christ to all humanity. In order for this to happen, we should pray for peace and the unhindered proclamation of the gospel.

    Paul faces the challenge of bringing correction to the mayhem caused by the false teachers at the church at Ephesus. The overriding priority is the proclamation of the gospel, to which God has personally commissioned him as apostle and herald. So, as a matter of priority, the church should pray for peace in the land so the gospel can be preached unhindered.

    V1-2   Consistent prayer for those who govern the nations.

    V3-6   These important verses focus on the salvation God has achieved through Christ the mediator. These articulate the gospel message focusing on atonement as a work of ‘ransoming’.

    V7   Paul’s emphatic assertion that he is not lying is most probably a response to the false teachers who are accusing him of lying about his claim that God has commissioned him to be an apostle.

     

    2:8   Christian men in worship

    In order to worship God, Christian men must, as a first priority, be at peace with each other and with God.

    V8   In a situation where there are ‘controversies’ (1:4, 6:4), ‘quarrels about words, … envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between men or corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth’ (6:5), Paul addresses the men first. Men cannot worship properly until they have first dealt with all ‘anger and disputing’.

     

    2:9 – 15   Christian women in worship

    In order to worship God, Christian women must not flaunt their worldly status and wealth, neither should they exert undue authority over their husbands or other men.

    This is arguably the most problematic passage in the entire New Testament. Within the context where widespread false teaching was decimating the Ephesian church, where false teachers were preaching against marriage (4:3), and where young widows were causing pastoral problems (5:12-13) and denying the faith (5:15), Paul cautions women against flaunting their wealth and status and states that he does not let women teach and have authority (the Greek is an unusually strong word) over men. He warns against deception and encourages women to ‘work out their salvation’ (v15) in the context of raising children. This constraint on women should be studied within the context of the trajectory Paul outlined in Galatians 3:28. As such, this parallels the ‘time bomb’ Paul places under the whole system of slavery in the Roman world when he encourages Philemon to welcome Onesimus back ‘no longer as a slave but as a dear brother’ (Philemon 16).

    V9   Women (and men) should not flaunt their wealth and power in church gatherings. It is possible that a group of wealthy and powerful women who had been influenced by the Diana cult in Ephesus (Acts 19:23-41) were being encouraged by the false teaching to assert their influence over the men in the church.

    V11   Women (and men) should submit themselves to learning sound Christian doctrine (4:6,16).

    V12   The Greek work for authority – ‘authentein’ – is a strong word carrying the meaning of ‘abusing authority’. Paul’s admonitions must be studied alongside his promotion of women in other contexts: it is inconceivable that the ‘outstanding’ apostle Junia did not have an effective public teaching ministry (Romans 16:7); Paul endorsed Priscilla (Acts 18:26); and it would be extraordinary not to credit Phoebe, whom Paul sent to Rome with his letter to the church (Romans 16:1), with a similarly effective public teaching ministry. Paul’s vehement defence of women and their vital role and participation in Christian worship is most clearly seen in his almost vicious rebuke of the male bullies at Corinth who were silencing the women and telling them to ‘sit down, shut up, and put their hats on’! See the Bible for Life notes on 1 Corinthians 14:33b-35 where he quotes from their letter to him and then rounds on the men.

    V13   Although the evidence is scant, Paul seems to be speaking into the disorder caused by the false teachers who appear to be undermining the heart of God’s purpose of marriage (4:3). Paul’s point is that it was the woman in the creation story who was deceived.

    V15   Throughout this letter, Paul emphasises ‘faith and love’ as the required response by all men and women to the gospel message that he has just articulated in v3-6. Here he seems to be arguing that women (and perhaps especially the younger women of 5:11-15) should live ‘out their salvation’ (Philippians 2:12-13) in the context of their homes where they bring up their children.

     

    Argument: 3:1-16   Paul then gives clear instructions on the godly characteristics required in those who oversee the church (3:1-7), and those appointed to serve the church (3:8-13), in order that the gospel truth is lived out in the world (3:14-16).

     

    3:1 – 13   The godliness required in church leaders

    In order to address the crisis in the leadership of the church at Ephesus caused by the false teachers, Paul now states the godly qualities required in those involved in church governance, that is, the overseers (v1-7) and the servers (deacons) (v8-13).

    The early church seems to have loosely adopted the leadership structure of the synagogue with a ‘board of elders’ (4:14), one of which acted as an overseer (3:1-7). Despite some modern insistence about the roles and duties of these different roles, the early church seems to have understood these tasks very flexibly and the godly character required in both the overseers and elders are virtually the same. There are no lists of duties, no titles, no indication of spiritual authority, only that beyond the expectation that they will teach and be hospitable, their responsibilities have to do with the practical matters of organisation and administration. Paul’s emphasis, as always, focuses on godly character above any particular skill. The focus of the whole section builds to v7 (and v11 and v13), with the expectation that their behaviour will be respected by outsiders. The passage therefore continues to build the contrast between godly leadership and the behaviour of the false teachers. Whereas Paul instructed Titus to appoint elders (Titus 1:5), his emphasis here is on the standard expected of those already serving as elders. He will later instruct Timothy, with the whole church listening on, about the disciplinary procedures to be followed by those who seriously fail to keep the required standards (5:17-21).

    V8-10   This shorter section describing the required character of the ‘servers’ (deacons) flows naturally and easily from the first section and emphasises the ‘upstanding reputation’ required. The perspective is again on way the outside community views the individual, and this in turn suggests that it is the behaviour of the false teachers that is bringing the church into disrepute.

    V11   Although the wording is ambiguous, contemporary scholarship understands that “women deacons” are being addressed, so the ‘deacons’ are being addressed throughout v8-13.

     

    3:14 – 16   Paul’s plans, and summary of the church and Christ

    Paul now pauses from his argument in order to state his intention to visit the church, and in doing so highlights the need for Timothy and the church to implement his instructions. He also writes two summary statements about the church (v15) and Christ (v16).

    V15   Truth is at the very foundation of the church, but the false teachers have lost their grasp of the truth (6:5).

    V16   This short ‘poetic verse’ comes as a bit of a surprise. Nevertheless, the six phrases seem to link to different parts of ‘1 Timothy’, emphasising Christ’s coming in the flesh and his universal mission of salvation for all humanity. Within the context of this letter combating false teaching, this verse seems to summarise Paul’s leading corrections to the heretical teaching of the false teachers. The themes of Christ’s humiliation and exaltation run through both parts of the verse.

      

    Argument:  4:1-16   Having outlined the root fault of the false teachers in chapter 1, addressed the disorder of men and women in chapter 2, and outlined the godly requirements of those appointed to oversee and serve the church, Paul addresses the false teachers and their specific error of forbidding God’s creation gifts of marriage and food (4:1-5). In contrast, Timothy must teach the truths of the faith and train himself to be godly (4:6-10). He must ‘set an example’ to the believers, focusing on the ministry of the word and the spiritual gift God has given him. He must watch his life and doctrine closely (4:11-16).

     

    4:1 – 16   Paul instructs Timothy how to be a ‘good minister’  

    Having articulated the requirements for choosing overseers and deacons (3:1-13), Paul now instructs such ‘officers’ how to be ‘good ministers’ in God’s household. Paul does this by directly instructing Timothy himself as the leading Christian at Ephesus.  

     

    V1-5   False teachers and false teaching

    These verses describe the heart and essence of the false teachers, and consequently this passage is the central argument against them in ‘1 Timothy’. All false teaching originates from evil, is deceptive and has the intention to take believers away from Christ.

    V2   The consciences of the false teachers have been so damaged that they can no longer discern whether things are good or evil. This stands in direct contrast to the mature, trained, scripture-immersed believers of Hebrews 5:14.

    V3   Marriage and food were God’s gifts to humanity in pre-fall Eden, so by choosing these examples Paul is indicating that the essence of false teaching is to contradict and distort anything and everything that God has given to humanity.

    V5   ‘The word of God’ refers to God’s specific permission to eat all he has given (Genesis 9:1-3).

     

    V6-10   Paul exhorts Timothy how to be a godly and good minister

    This short section is the heart of Paul’s exhortation to Timothy describing how he is to be a ‘good minister’ and to train himself in godliness.

    V9   The ‘trustworthy saying’ seems to be that godliness is profitable precisely because its benefits affect will us not only in this life, but in the next also.

     

    V11-16   Paul commissions and authorises Timothy

    Paul now very strongly authorises and commissions Timothy to address and sort out the destructive influence of the false teachers at Ephesus.

    V11   This is Paul’s leading imperative to Timothy – and it so needs to be heard throughout the worldwide church today!

    V12   Timothy was unlikely to be much younger than 40, so we should probably understand Paul’s exhortation to mean ‘don’t let anyone look down on you because you are younger than me’, or perhaps, ‘… because you are younger than the elders at Ephesus’.

    V13   This verse is the heartland of the ‘teacher’. Just as ‘Jesus came preaching’, the apostles devoted themselves ‘to prayer and the ministry of the word’ (Acts 6:4), and Paul ‘devoted himself exclusively to teaching’ (Acts 18:5), so Timothy’s commission is articulated in three activities; ‘devote yourself to the public reading of scripture, to preaching and to teaching’. Research shows that at the time only 10% of people could read (rising to 20% in cities), so the public reading of scripture was the first essential Holy Habit.

    V14   The specific gift of the Spirit given to Timothy is not described, but the context and content of Paul’s two letters to Timothy indicates that it is probably the gift of teaching.

    V15   The very lives of those in leadership ought to demonstrate a growth in godliness that all can see.

    V16   Church leaders should take great care about what they believe and how they live. Those around them watch closely, and bad behaviour will affect and destroy the faith of the weaker and younger Christians.

     

     

    Section 3   1 Timothy 5:1 – 6:2   Restoring godly honour to three areas in the Ephesian church

     

    Argument: 5:1 – 6:2   Paul begins by articulating briefly the overall principle of administering correction with ‘respect’ (5:1-2). Throughout the following three pastoral sections, the care of widows, the eldership, and the attitude of slaves to their masters, Paul emphasises that the church must behave so that there is no reason or opportunity for outsiders to slander the church, the gospel or God (5:14, 20, 21, 6:1). The three sections are linked by the theme of ‘honour’ and ‘respect’ (v14, 17 and 6:1-2).

     

    5:1 – 2   The principle: respect for all church members

    Before addressing each of the troubled areas, Paul articulates how Timothy should relate to the different types of church member. Although not specifically articulated, the principle of ‘respect and honour’ underlies Paul’s instructions towards each category.

     

    5:3 – 16   Pastoral problem 1: Cases where some are taking advantage of the church’s care of widows.

     

    Argument:   Paul gives clear instructions about the ‘terms and conditions’ under which the church should take responsibility for the provision of care for widows. Believers should provide for the widows in their own families. He encourages the younger widows to remarry and raise a family.

     

    Paul gives a proportionally large section of the letter to instructing how the church’s care of widows should be conducted. Some younger widows (v11-14) under the influence of the false teachers seem to have been taking advantage of the Ephesian church’s charitable care of widows. Paul outlines the leading principles of this ministry which are first that Christian families should provide for their own widows (v4, 8, 16); second, that the church’s charity ought to be directed to those believers who had themselves faithfully served others before they were 60 (v9-10); third, widows under 60 should seek to be married again and raise a family. Nevertheless, Paul’s firm instructions ought not to hide the church’s genuine concern to care for those widows who are truly in need. Finally, the contrast between the ‘real widows’ (v3, 9,10) and the younger ‘sensual’ widows (v11-15), parallels the letter’s contrast between Timothy and the false teachers.

    V9-10   These verses could indicate that there was an ‘order of widows’ in the church, into which widows could be enrolled, who had to carry out certain duties in return for the care they received from the church.

    V11-15   These ‘younger widows’ seem to be the ones who are under the influence of the false teachers at Ephesus. 2 Timothy 3:6-9 sheds considerable light on the influence of the false teachers on these women. ‘Breaking their first pledge’ may indicate that some younger widows had entered into a second marriage with a non-Christian and intentionally denied their faith in Christ (1 Corinthians 7:39).

    V15   ‘Some have in fact already turned away’ demonstrates that Paul is addressing specific pastoral situations that in turn are among the reasons for the entire letter. The theme of deception by Satan and falling away run throughout ‘1 Timothy’ (3:7, 2:14, 6:9, 6:21).

    V16   Since Paul’s pastoral strategy was to outline the general principles before focusing on the specific pastoral case in question (1 Corinthians 7:36-40; 1 Corinthians 14:29-33a), this final verse contains his counsel on the specific pastoral situation at Ephesus. A ‘younger woman’ was rejecting her responsibility of caring for her widowed mother, or grandmother, on the grounds that she expected the church to provide the care. She was therefore the ‘anyone’ referred to in verse 8.

      

    5:17 – 25   Pastoral problem 2: Financial impropriety by some elders.

     

    Argument:   Where appropriate, elders should receive proper remuneration for their work. Where necessary, the disciplinary process must be impartial, and any guilty of wrongdoing should be rebuked publicly.

     

    The second pastoral matter that Paul addresses concerns irregularities among the church’s eldership. Some form of negligence or blatant sin has occurred among the ‘body of elders’, although in this case, in contrast to the matter with the widows, it is not so clear as to how this was caused, if at all, by the influence of the ‘false teachers’. Paul’s argument has four stages: 1) He affirms faithful eldership (v17-18). 2) He lays down procedural guidelines for the impartial examination and (where necessary) discipline of elders (v19-21). 3) He instructs Timothy as to how to go about appointing new elders, and strongly emphasises ‘purity’ (v22-23). 4) He finishes with a general theological and eschatological perspective on the whole matter of elders overseeing God’s household.

    V18   Paul is about to address bad behaviour by the elders, but he very typically begins by affirming the office of elder. See 3:1.

    V19   Paul draws on both quotations from the Torah in the parallel passage of 1 Corinthians 9:1-14.

    V20   Discipline should be exercised at the level of the office of the offender.

    V21   Impartiality is absolutely essential in church life and affairs.

    V22   Never make hasty appointments. If you do not pray all night before making an appointment (Luke 6:12-16), you will certainly pray all night afterwards! God guides, Satan rushes!

    V23   Although this sentence at first appears to be completely random, its inclusion at this point is probably triggered by Paul’s final instruction in v22, ‘keep yourself pure.’ Paul’s point is that, in Timothy’s case, purity does not include abstinence from wine. This is probably linked to the asceticism of the false teachers described in 4:3. This should be read alongside the requirements in church overseers and servers as listed in 3:3 and 3:8, where Paul holds back from demanding that they abstain from alcohol. Paul’s more general approval of all ‘foods’ in 4:3-5 therefore includes alcohol. Christ has freed us from such beguiling religious law-keeping, as so evidently demonstrated by the banquet at Cana that John sees as the public announcement that the new age has been inaugurated in Christ himself (John 2:1-11).

    V25   Paul, very typically, closes this difficult section with a positive note. There is great reward for those who serve well in the oversight of God’s house (Matthew 24:45-47).

     

    6:1 – 2   Pastoral problem 3: Slaves disrespecting their Christian masters.

     

    Argument:   Christian slaves should respect their Christian masters and serve them even better so there is no opportunity to slander God or the gospel.

    Paul’s exhortations must always be studied in their contexts. Paul’s intention is that God’s name will be honoured, and not brought into disrepute and slandered by any behaviour of believers who are slaves. These verses are complementary exhortations to the exhortation that Paul gave to Philemon: ‘welcome Onesimus back as a dear brother in the Lord’ (Philemon 16-17).

    Perhaps the false teachers had taught an over-realised eschatology, or a spiritual elitism, that was causing this attitude of disrespect among the Christian slaves. We must remember that Roman slavery was very different from the racist slavery of 19th Century America. Although slaves were the lowest class, there is evidence that slavery did provide a measure of support and protection for those who would otherwise have absolutely nothing. The manumission of slaves was a common practice, but some preferred to remain as slaves because of the protections offered.

    V1   There is a huge difference between completing a task, and completing the same task in a way that is motivated by care, genuine concern and respect. Such motivation cannot remain hidden over time.

    V2   When a Christian master obeys Philemon 16-17 and a Christian slave obeys 1 Timothy 6:1-2, the Church in the power of the Spirit plants a bomb in the heart of the institution of slavery that will ultimately bring an end to all slavery.

     

    Section 4   6:3 – 21   Paul addresses the root at the heart of the false teaching

     

    Argument: 1) 6:3-10   The love of wealth is at the root of the false teaching. Paul identifies the love and pursuit of wealth as being at the root of the false teaching at Ephesus, and the root cause of the controversies, malicious talk, and endless strife.

    2) 6:11-21   In contrast, Timothy must pursue ‘righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness’ and take hold of eternal life (6:11-16). Wealthy Christians should put their trust in God, not their money, do good, be generous and willing to share (6:17-19). Above all, Timothy must guard the truth of the gospel and resist all false knowledge and teaching (6:20-21).

     

    6:3 – 21   False teaching and the pursuit of wealth

    The final matter that Paul addresses is the false teacher’s pursuit of wealth. There are four parts. 1) He exposes the motivation of the false teachers (v4-5) and emphatically warns against the harmful practice of trying to use faith as a means of becoming wealthy (v3-10). 2) He then charges Timothy to pursue righteousness (v11-16). 3) He instructs the wealthy on the godly use of money (v17-19). 4) Paul exhorts Timothy to guard the gospel against false knowledge (v20-21).

     

    6:3 – 10   False teachers and the harmful desire to be wealthy

    Paul gives a penetrating critique and expose of the false teachers’ motivations: they are conceited, argumentative, and motivated by the desire to be wealthy. In direct contrast, believers ought to rest content in a godly life and trust in God’s provision of our essential needs.  

    V4   All false teaching is, in its essence, motivated by conceit, pride, arrogance and an unwillingness to submit to the Biblical truth taught by Jesus and the apostles.

    V5   The fruit of false teaching is never-ending strife, argument and contention. This is in contrast to the wisdom from heaven which is ‘first of all pure then peace loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial sincere’ (James 3:17-18).

    V6   Wealth brings freedom and power in this life, but every man and woman’s far greater need is to be at peace with God. True godliness – through faith in Jesus – brings peace with God (Romans 5:1), thereby satisfying our greatest need, and so the believer is free to be content and at rest in this world.

    V7   We can only take out of this world the character that we have become in the world.

    V9   It is the pursuit of harmful desires that destroys men and women. Destruction and hell are the direct results of our pursuit of harmful desires.

     

    6:11 – 16   Paul charges Timothy to pursue righteousness

    In direct contrast to the false teachers who are trying to use Christianity to become wealthy, Paul charges and commands Timothy to keep his public baptismal promise and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.

    V11   Righteousness’ is a direct reference to Jesus’ primary exhortation in Matthew 6:33. ‘Godliness’ repeats the contextual admonition of v6: ‘faith’ and ‘love’ are the defining features of Christian discipleship (Galatians 5:6, and 1 Corinthians 13:13). ‘Endurance’ is the first necessity and evidence of genuine discipleship (Mark 8:34-9:1, Romans 5:3-4), and Paul adds ‘gentleness’ as a contrast to the behaviour of the false teachers (6:4).

    V12   Paul is referring to Timothy’s public baptism statement of allegiance to Christ. God has provided everything for us in Christ, but it is our responsibility to take hold of the life that is eternal. As always, ‘the measure you use is measured to you’ (Mark 4:24).

    V13   Jesus publicly and clearly told the truth at his trial (Luke 23:3). Paul’s charge should be read alongside 2 Timothy 4:1-5.

    V15-16   These verses parallel 1 Timothy 1:17 and in one sense serve as two bookends to the main section of the letter.

     

    6:17 – 19   Instructions about the godly use of wealth

    Paul brings the letter to a conclusion with a series of careful instructions about how to use wealth to serve the greater goal of taking hold of ‘life’ both here on earth, and afterwards in the coming age.

    V17   As always, Paul first addresses motivation. The wealthy Christian must first guard against pride – the idea that their wealth is a sign that God is pleased with them – and second, guard against trusting in the power of wealth to sort out all earthly problems. Instead, our confidence in the future should rest on the character of God himself, who gives us his Spirit as a deposit guaranteeing what is to come. The source of our life with God in the Kingdom is the Spirit. It is certainly not our wealth!

    V18   This axiomatic instruction ought to be studied, meditated on and obeyed regularly by all disciples of Jesus. We are to use our wealth to ‘do good’ and to frequently ‘do good deeds’, we should be known for our generosity and our willingness to share freely.

    V19   This verse draws directly from Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 6:19-21 and 19:21.

     

    6:20 – 21   Concluding exhortation

    Although the gospel is not specifically mentioned, it clearly underlies Paul’s final exhortation (charge). Timothy must guard the gospel in direct contrast to the dangerous pernicious teaching and claims about ‘knowledge’ propagated at Ephesus by the false teachers.   

    V20   The false teachers are claiming superior knowledge. 1 Corinthians 8:1-3 is a fascinating (earlier) cross-reference.

    V21   As always, Paul ends by blessing the recipient with ‘grace’ – and we would do well to do the same.

     

    2:1 - 4:16 Correcting disorder in worship and church governance >
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    • Overall Message
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    • Leading Imperatives
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    • Implied Imperatives
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    • Applications
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    • Holy Habits

    The overall message of the letter:

    Paul writes to address and correct the false doctrine at Ephesus, and to authorise and commission Timothy to sort out the disorder and ungodliness in the Ephesian church.

    Imperatives to Timothy as Paul’s faithful ‘son’

    1:3   As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer or to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. 

    1:18   Timothy, my son, I am giving you this command in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by recalling them you may fight the battle well, holding on to faith and a good conscience. 

    5:23   Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses.

    6:20   Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care. Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge.

     

    Instructions to Timothy as ‘a good minister’

    4:11   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 conduct, 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 prophecy 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.

     6:11   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.

     

    Instructions to Timothy for the Ephesian church

    2:1   I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 

    2:8   Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing. I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.

    2:11   A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man she must be quiet.

    3:2   Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his 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, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full 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.

    3:8   In the same way, deacons are to be 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.

    3:11   In the same way, the women are to be worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything.

    3:12   A deacon must be faithful to his wife and must manage his children and his household well. Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus.

    5:1   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.

    5:3   Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need.

    5:7   Give the people these instructions, so that no one may be open to blame.

    5:9   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 Lord’s people, helping those in trouble and devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds.

    5:11   As for younger widows, do not put them on such a list.

    5:19   Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses. 

     

    5:20   But those elders who are sinning you are to reprove before everyone, so that the others may take warning. 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 favouritism. Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, and do not share in the sins of others. Keep yourself pure.

     

    6:1   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 should not show them disrespect just because they are fellow believers. Instead, they should serve them even better because their masters are dear to them as fellow believers and are devoted to the welfare of their slaves.

    6:17   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. 

    1:5   The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 

     

    Teachers ought to be properly taught:

    1:7   They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.

    1:9   We also know that the 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 the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine.

    2:4   God our Saviour, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 

    2:15   But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.

    4:4   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.

    4:6-9   If you point these things out to the brothers and sisters, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, nourished on 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. 

    5:4  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. 

    5:7   Give the people these instructions, so that no one may be open to blame. Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

    5:14   So I counsel younger widows to marry, to have children, to manage their homes and to give the enemy no opportunity for slander. 

    5:16   If any woman who is a believer has widows in her care, she should continue to help them and not let the church be burdened with them, so that the church can help those widows who are really in need.

     

    Make every step to ensure you don’t allow yourself to be deceived by false teaching.

    Holy Habits: (Holy Habits are patterns of living and lifestyle practices which we choose to do in our lives.  These can be in order to either withdraw from the dominion of the world, such as silence, secrecy, submission, fasting, watching, simple living, or, practices that plunge us into the life of the Kingdom, such as prayer, worship, celebration, study, serving the poor and deprived, etc. They can be as simple as kneeling by your bed and thanking God at the end of the day, or as substantial as attending an annual Christian festival.)

     Train yourself in godliness.

    • Study carefully what it will mean to establish godliness in your life: what will it mean more of, and what will it mean less of? What steps can you take to build more godliness into your life, and reduce the ‘ungodliness’?
    Leading Imperatives >
    main Questions - Important questions directly from the text

    Question 1 -

    Was Paul really the worst of sinners?


    watch video

    Question 2 -

    What happens when the men in a church get angry and fight each other? Have you seen this happen?


    watch video

    Question 3 -

    Can Christians be vegans (1 Timothy 3:3-5)?


    Question 4 -

    Should Christians obey the 613 laws of the Old Testament (1:7-11)?


    Question 5 -

    What are the prophecies have been spoken (through the Spirit) over your life, and what spiritual gift have you received (1:18, 4:14 and 1 Corinthians 12:7)?


    Question 6 -

    What happens when immature Christians are put in positions of authority in a church (3:6)? Many young Christians today aspire to ‘plant churches’; what evidence should we look for in their lives to convince us that they are equal to the calling and challenge of this ministry?


    Question 7 -

    Have you witnessed a situation in church where the treasurer is accused of mishandling church finances? Should Christian leaders be wealthy?


    watch video

    dessert course

    A prayer

    Commentaries

    Suggested Sermon Series

    Questions

    • A prayer -

    A prayer based on 1 Timothy

    O God our Saviour, you want all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. Grant wisdom to those who govern our nations so that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. May we guard what has been entrusted to us, fight the good fight of faith, and, fleeing from all false doctrine and the love of money, may we pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness, and take hold of eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen. 

     

    Commentary:

    O God our Saviour (1:1), you want all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth (2:4). Grant wisdom to those who govern our nations so that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness (2:1). May we guard what has been entrusted to us (6:20), fight the good fight of faith (1:18, 6:12), and, fleeing (6:11) from all false doctrine (1:3) and the love of money (6:10), may we pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness (6:11) and take hold of eternal life (6:12). Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen (1:17).

      Commentaries - Introducing the best commentaries

    BfL Recommends:

     

    For a readable, intelligent and helpful introduction to ‘1 Timothy’, read:

    ‘Letters to Paul’s Delegates 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus’ by Luke Timothy Johnson in ‘The New Testament in Context’ Series: 1996, Trinity Press International, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. 264 pages (about 105pp on ‘1 Timothy’).

     

    For a readable commentary on ‘1 Timothy’ focusing on exegesis, read:

    ‘1 and 2 Timothy, Titus’ by Gordan D. Fee in the ‘New International Biblical Commentary’ Series: 1984, Hendrickson Publishers, Massachusetts. 332 pages (about 130pp on ‘1 Timothy’).

     

    For a leading exhaustive commentary on original Greek text of ‘1 Timothy’, read:

    ‘The letters to Timothy and Titus’ by Philip H. Towner in ‘The New International Commentary on the New Testament’ Series: 2006, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids. 886 pages (about 345pp on ‘1 Timothy’).

      Suggested Sermon Series -

    Series Title:           ‘Addressing heresy and the result of heresy’

    Comment:  This letter is generally considered to be one of the most problematic in the New Testament. Since the development of Paul’s argument fits the chapter divisions throughout the letter, it makes very good sense to preach on consecutive chapters for six weeks.

    Text Subject Subject
    1 Timothy 1:1-20

    ***********

    Key verse: 1:3   

    ‘The problem at Ephesus’ It is always necessary to set out the CONTEXT in the first sermon, since this establishes the framework for the whole series. If time is limited, and no more than 20 minutes is available, then it would be helpful to provide longer background notes for church members to read and study after the service. 1) Explain the background to 1:3 and the likelihood that these letters were written during a fourth mission trip after Paul’s hearing before Caesar. 2) Teach about the nature of the heretical teaching and the nature of the resulting chaos in the church at Ephesus. 3) Contrast Paul’s previous blasphemous lifestyle with the two leading false teachers (1:13,20). 4) Describe their misuse of the Old Testament law. 5) Highlight briefly the key subjects in the letter and include clear guidance about how the church members can themselves engage with this short letter over the next few weeks. 6) Summarise with an exhortation focusing on Paul’s imperatives to Timothy in 1:18-19.
    1 Timothy 2:1-15

    ***********

    Key verses:

    2:3-4

    ‘Everything must serve the priority of the gospel’ Paul starts to address the chaos and disorder at Ephesus with a statement of the gospel which emphasises the saving work of God, and this serves to highlight the overriding priority which is to preach the gospel to all humanity. Everything in church must serve this primary agenda. In view of this, and because of the disorder and chaos, Paul instructs the men not to argue and dispute, and the women not to flaunt their wealth and abuse their teaching ministry. This passage is exceptionally sensitive in contemporary society and it will probably be wise to produce accompanying notes explaining the issue in detail, for people to study during the week.
    1 Timothy  3:1-16

    ***********

    Key verses: 15, or 1-2.

    ‘Choosing church leaders’ This will probably be one of the more straightforward sermons in this series. Paul’s main point is that it is essential that the church choose men and women who are above reproach, in contrast to the leadership at Ephesus whose behaviour was causing the outsiders to slander the church. This is an opportunity to challenge the church members to offer to serve the church.
    1 Timothy 4:1-16 ***********

    Key verses: 7-8, and 13

    ‘Train yourself to be godly’ A very rich chapter full of important exhortations from Paul to Timothy which focus on the essential features of godly and effective Christian ministry. The leading personal imperative is ‘train yourself to be godly’. The leading public exhortation is ‘devote yourself to the public reading of scripture, to preaching and teaching’. Here we touch on the vital importance of both personal discipleship and the ministry of teaching scripture.
    1 Timothy 5:1-6:2

    ***********

    Key verse: perhaps v17

    ‘There must be no reason to slander the church’ In this section, Paul addresses the chaos in three areas of the Ephesian church, but the theme running through each is that there must be no grounds whatsoever for outsiders to slander the church (v14, 17, 6:1). We should ask: who are the widows in the Church today? Single, divorced, widowed, lonely, and/or single parents. Here is an opportunity to teach carefully about how the Church should carry out its social and charity work, how charges against the eldership ought to be handled, as well as exploring what we should learn from the issue of the relations between the slaves and their masters in church.
    1 Timothy 6:3-21

    ***********

    Key verse: 11

    ‘The love of money and how to avoid it!’ Paul’s concluding point is that it was the love of money that was ultimately driving all the false teaching and disordered chaos at Ephesus. This is therefore an important opportunity to address the love of money in our lives, and to teach on how we should avoid it (v11) and use money well for the Kingdom (v17-19).
     

     

     

    dessert Questions - Gloves off; hard questions for the Bible student and theologian

    Question 1 -

    Should Paul’s statement in 2:12 be taken as universally binding on all women throughout Church history until Christ returns? If our primary priority is the preaching of the gospel, is there a place for temporary restraint of some of our freedoms when evangelising in countries where strict patriarchy exists, just in the way we might temporarily abstain from alcohol in such places? Conversely, should not the very opposite be encouraged in 21st C liberal societies in view of Paul's endorsement of women teachers in Romans 16 and his statement of equality in Galatians 3:28 and 1 Corinthians 7:2-5 so that the message of the gospel is heard?


    Waiter's Brief

    Answers to Questions

    Coaching Questions

    Questions

    • Answers to Questions -

    Taster Course Questions

     QQQ

    What does blasphemy look like in the 21st Century?

    Comment:

    Study Paul’s claims that he was a blasphemer in 1 Timothy 1:13, Acts 26:11.

     

    QQQ

    What does excommunication look like in the 21st Century?

    Comment:

    Well done Pope Francis.

     

    QQQ

    Have you ever listened to a sermon on the internet (or in church) that either had nothing to do with Jesus and the Kingdom, or actually contradicted what Jesus taught? What is the most essential thing you need to do to guard the gospel in your present context?

     

    Comment:

    Surely the best way of avoiding heresy (and appalling teaching) is to immerse ourselves in Scripture. We avoid foolishness ‘godless chatter’ by immersing ourselves in the truth: ‘devote yourself to the public reading of scripture, to preaching and to teaching’ (4:13).

     

    QQQ

    Have you seen women flaunting their wealth, status and power in church?

    Comment:

    Yes, very occasionally I have seen both men and women using their worldly wealth, status and power to get what they want in church.  

     

    Starter Course Questions:

     QQQ

    What should we all do to protect our churches from false teaching?

    Comment:

    Teach the teachers to handle the Old Testament law properly, appoint godly people as overseers and church servers, train up and raise men and women who have been trained to be godly. Keep away from all who love money and think that church leadership is a way of making money. 

      

    Main Course Questions:

    QQQ

    Was Paul really the worst of sinners?

    Comment:

    Although Paul’s claim to be the worst of sinners is usually dismissed as spiritual piety, there is one sense in which it was actually true, because Paul (or perhaps we should use his pre-Christian name Saul) set about destroying the church, and from one perspective he nearly succeeded in doing so. Saul did destroy the church in Jerusalem so that only the apostles were left. 5000 people down to 12! This gives significance to his explanation in 1:16, and his statement of praise in 1:17.

     

    QQQ

    What happens when the men in a church get angry and fight each other? Have you seen this happen?

    Comment:

    Church disputes (open arguments) are quite exceptionally destructive and the church leadership ought to step in immediately to resolve such conflict. No one wins in open conflict, and usually the whole church loses badly. Nevertheless, there are times when the church leaders will need to stand up against bullies and those in flagrant sin.

     

    QQQ

    Can Christians be vegans (1 Timothy 3:3-5)?

    Comment:

    Of course, but Paul reminds us clearly that God allows us to eat and drink whatever we like. The fault of the false teachers was to contradict what God had specifically said. In teaching Christians to avoid certain foods, they were denying our freedom in Christ. We should note that not only does Paul hold back from stating that overseers and deacons must abstain from alcohol, but he specifically encourages Timothy to drink wine for his stomach (5:23).

     

    QQQ

    Should Christians obey the 613 laws of the Old Testament (1:7-11)?

    Comment:

    No, we are justified before God by believing in Jesus (Galatians 2:16), not by desperately slaving away and trying to obey all the Old Testament law. The Spirit empowers us to love one another, which is the fulfilling of the Old Testament law (Galatians 5:14, Romans 8:2).

     

    QQQ

    What are the prophecies have been spoken (through the Spirit) over your life, and what spiritual gift have you received (1:18, 4:14 and 1 Corinthians 12:7)?

     Comment:

    All Christians should excel in developing the spiritual gifts they have been given.

     

    QQQ

    What happens when immature Christians are put in positions of authority in a church (3:6)? Many young Christians today aspire to ‘plant churches’; what evidence should we look for in their lives to convince us that they are equal to the calling and challenge of this ministry?

    Comment:

    It is dangerous for a church community to be led by individuals who have not learned wisdom from long-term serving. In their early years in church, new believers sometimes see the church in terms of a power-play and are critical of the leadership in order to get what they want. But as the years go by, we change and as we love Jesus more we increasingly take responsibility for the areas of the church that are not strong. Are there members, of whatever age, of your church whose influence on the church is destructive? How should you relate to them? How can you help them?

    QQQ

    Have you witnessed a situation in church where the treasurer is accused of mishandling church finances? Should Christian leaders be wealthy?

    Comment:

    We should always be suspicious of wealthy church leaders.

     

    Dessert Course Questions:

    QQQ

    Should Paul’s statement in 2:12 be taken as universally binding on all women throughout Church history until Christ returns? If our primary priority is the preaching of the gospel, is there a place for temporary restraint of some of our freedoms when evangelising in countries where strict patriarchy exists, just in the way we might temporarily abstain from alcohol in such places?

    Comment:

    This is a sensitive topic, but an important one. Our response should consider Paul’s affirmation of women in the teaching ministry elsewhere in his writings, particularly his strongly positive comments about Junia, Phoebe and Priscilla. However, by far the most powerful of his statements supporting the ministry of women is in 1 Corinthians where he rounds very strongly on the bullying men because they were telling the women to ‘sit down, shut up and put your hats on’! He rebukes these men very strongly in 1 Corinthians 14:36-38 (having quoted from their letter to him in 14:33b-35). Since Paul strongly endorses the ministry of women, so should we, and we should probably consider 1 Timothy 2:11-15 as a temporary withdrawal of his endorsement as part of his strategy to bring order to the rampant chaos in the Ephesian church, which outsiders were openly slandering (5;14, 6:1, 3:2, 3:8).

     

     

      Coaching Questions -
    Discipleship Coaching Session                                   1 Timothy

     

    Podder:

    Start: ‘Hello’ and Beginning

    Key current things in your life

    Last pod you said you wanted to make progress in …  how have you got on?

     

    10 min: Prayer:        Ask for the Spirit’s help now.  
    11 – 45 mins: ‘Understanding the content’

         How did you go about engaging with Paul’s letter ‘1 Timothy’?

     

          What do you want to talk about from your study of ‘1 Timothy’?

                       Do you have any questions – points to clarify?

     

          What are the main themes and points?

    Ø  False teaching

    Ø  QQQ – How would you recognise false teaching if you heard it?

    Ø  QQQ – What is the antidote to false teaching?

     

    Ø  Disorder in worship

    Ø  QQQ – What does 1 Timothy teach us about how to recognise disorder in worship?

     

    Ø  Appointment of church leaders

    Ø  QQQ – What are the dangers in appointing someone to church leadership, and what are the signs that something is wrong? 

    Ø  QQQ – What godly features does Paul state Timothy must excel in, and why are each of these so important?

     

    Ø  Caring for the isolated and dependent

    Ø  QQQ – Who are the widows in the church today?

    Ø  QQQ – What do they need and what can we do to care for them?

     

    Ø  *** Use some of the Menu Questions

     

    45 – 60 mins:    Personalised Coaching Qs for “the Podder

    Talk together and explore what it means in practice to ‘train yourself in godliness’.

    60 min: Prayer: O God our Saviour, you want all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. Grant wisdom to those who govern our nations so that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. May we guard what has been entrusted to us, fight the good fight of faith, and, fleeing from all false doctrine and the love of money, may we pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness, and take hold of eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.