FIRST TIMOTHY

FIRST TIMOTHY

''but if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."

1Tim 3:15

Paul, by the time he wrote this letter, was advanced in years. This letter had main purposes. Firstly it was written to encourage and remind Timothy of his duties in Ephesus. Secondly it was written as an open letter to Timothy with the intention of it being read to the whole church. By doing this Paul was endorsing Timothyís leadership to the church. Paul, the founder of the Ephesian church, even while he was there had foreseen terrible problems occurring in this church (Acts 20:29-30). It didnít take long after Paulís departure for trouble to begin. During the second century AD the Ephesian church became an embarrassment to other churches, causing a leading church official to write yet another letter to them to plead for order and unity. We note that even the Lord sent a special message to this church toward the close of the first century (Rev. 2:1).

Timothy was the offspring of a mixed marriage. His mother was Jewish and his father was a Greek (Acts 16:1). He probably became a Christian after Paul's first missionary journey, which took him through Derbe (Acts 14:20). By the time that Paul came to Derbe the second time, Timothy had gained a good reputation among the brethren (Acts 16:2). This indicates that Timothy had learnt the blessing of quietly growing in a local church by being faithful.

In Acts 15:36-39, Paul and Barnabas parted company over an incident with John Mark. Paul, the apostle, then teamed up with Silas the Prophet (Acts 15:40). This Apostles-Prophet combination proved to be quite successful, as they were able to go through Syria and Cilicia and strengthen the churches. It also proved valuable when they came to Derbe.

Acts 16:3 tells us that Paul wanted Timothy to go with him on their current missionary journey. But behind this little verse there's a lot not being said. Consider how Paul may have been feeling about having young guys on the team after what John-Mark had just done. In the natural, the last person Paul would have wanted was a young inexperienced man. Yet God brought these two men together in what can be seen as sovereign circumstances.

In the Old Testament, the friendship between David and Jonathan could be parallelled to the New Testament bond between Paul and Timothy. The reasons why Paul chose Timothy appear to go beyond the essentials, such as - good character, a good reputation, faithfulness, and submissiveness. According to 1 Timothy 1:18, prophecies had been made over Timothy about his calling. These prophecies may have been made through Silas who was already accompanying Paul. The relationship that consequently developed between Paul and Timothy was likened by Paul himself to that of a father-son relationship.

This letter was one of the-last three letters written by Paul contained in the Bible. Interestingly, these last three letters are called 'Pastoral Epistles', because they are written to young pastors. But this is only a recent term given to them in the late 1800's. The 'Pastoral Epistles' include- First and Second Timothy, and Titus. They contain some guide-lines for establishing the churches in order, with the inclusion of the requirements for elders and deacons.

One of the most striking things about these epistles, are the assumptions that Paul makes behind a lot of his statements. This reflects that he was not writing to novices, but to experienced men who had been through thick and thin together.

This epistle came to Timothy after Paul was released from jail in Rome and had returned to Ephesus, despite his emotional 'last farewells', with Timothy. It was written about 62-63 AD just five years before Paul's execution. Timothy had been left at Ephesus to set the church in order and appoint elders and deacons.

1. NO OTHER DOCTRINE

First Timothy 1

"As I urged you when I went into Macedonia- remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine,"

1 Tim. 1:3

1. In verse 4, Paul mentions some things that were going on in Ephesus and their results. What did these include and what were their results?

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The church at Ephesus was under attack from wolves, (refer to Paul's prediction of such in Acts 20:29) who were corrupting the church with false doctrine.

2. What is the purpose of the Law, or commandment? (1:5)

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Based on what Paul talks about in verses 5-9ff, there appears to have been wrong teaching and doctrine about the Law.

3. Based on 1 Tim. 1:8, when is the Law good, and why?

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Verses 12-17 present the now aged apostle in a very humble light. After all his years of serving the Lord in the ministry- his appreciation and love for the Lord still remain fervent. He speaks of his past with deep regret, and describes himself as chief of sinners. However, he obtained mercy from Christ who was very longsuffering (patient) with him, so that his conversion might be an example to others. For this he worshiped Christ by describing Him as the eternal King.

4. What sort of warfare is Paul talking about in verse 18?

a) killing all those who donít accept the gospel.

b) being able to endure for Christ, even under adverse circumstances.

c) fighting with demons.

Paul says that some have rejected the faith (that is, their walk with the Lord) and even gone so far as to have rejected their conscience which meant that their walk with the Lord was now 'ship-wrecked'. He mentions two men in particular, who may have been elders but had rejected the faith. Verse 20 sounds very similar to the passage in First Corinthians 5:5, where he also talks about handing people over to Satan for disciplinary measures. The exact meaning of this expression is not fully known. We can see though that this was not punishment, but actually something which Paul hoped might teach these people a lesson. It should be noted that these were exceptional cases and that there isn't any record of it as a habit of Paul's.

2. ONE MEDIATOR

First Timothy 2

"For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus"

First Timothy 2:5

Paul exhorts that prayers be made for a) all people, b) kings, and all who are in authority. Perhaps this was a subtle order to those in the church who were unruly and unsubmissive. In either case, praying for people to be saved is something that is good and acceptable in the sight of God. This is because He desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

5. But how can people come to this knowledge to the extent that they know (fully understand) the truth?

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The statement in verse five sounds as though it may have become an accepted declaration in the early church for quite some years. Paul uses it to state a) the unity of God, b) the unity of the Mediator and c) the extent of the Mediator's realm.

a) There is one God- being in the midst of many so-called gods, Paul declares that there is only One God.

b) One Mediator between God and men- with so many pagan priests offering to intercede between the seekers and pagan deities, Paul declares that there is only One Mediator between God and man. This ruled out even the Jewish priesthood, or the notion that people needed to have other people appease God for them. Perhaps, this was in reply to some of the false teaching currently being taught. Quite possibly these false teachings could have been saying that there was a 'class' of clergy and a class 'laity' (those not in the ministry), which would explain why Paul gives the correct teaching about eldership. The expression 'and men' needs to be understood as being "all people" as in verse 6.

c) The Man Christ Jesus- Christ is the only One qualified to be Mediator. In Revelation 5:2, the cry is 'Who is worthy?' and the reply is 'Behold the Lamb'. Christ- the God/man, has effected reconciliation between God and mankind, because He is both.

Praise God that we have an Intercessor between us and God!

6. What does Hebrews 7:25 tell us about Christ?

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(NB 1 Jn. 2:1; Heb. 9:24)

3. ELDERS AND DEACONS

First Timothy 3

Paul begins in chapter 2 verse 8 to talk about order in the church. He begins by saying that women should adorn themselves modestly, not seductively (which was the equivalent to unfaithfulness in a Jewish marriage). Apparently there was a problem with young unmarried women in the church. According to 5:11-15, some young ladies were in the church simply to catch a man. These young ladies were open game for the ravenous wolves who crept into the church and would also explain the connection between Satan and handing certain ones over to him in cases of immorality, as mentioned in First Corinthians. This could have been the sin of the two apostates previously cited by Paul. So, because of the women's gullibility to devious teachers, Paul says that women are to learn in a quiet demeanor (not strict silence) with an attitude of submission to the church authorities (who are there to protect them from such attacks). To highlight how susceptible women are to such errors, Paul refers to Adam and Eve.

7. In verse 15, Paul gives a marvellous promise to women. What is it?

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8. What is another term for the word bishop? (3:1) (Refer to different translations)

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There are at least seventeen different necessary qualifications for an elder to meet. As we can see, the standard is the highest. Interestingly, the requirements for deacons is virtually the same.

9. Do you think its important to have these requirements?

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Timothy was charged to set the church in order and appoint elders and deacons. To do this he had to:

1. Instruct the brethren in these things (4:6).

2. Nourish people in words of faith (4:6).

3. Teach good doctrine (4:6).

4. Reject heresy (4:7).

5. Develop a lifestyle of godliness (4:7-9).

6. Be an example (4:12).

7. Give attention to reading (4:13).

8. Give attention to exhorting/encouraging (4:13).

9. Give attention to doctrine (4:13).

10. Meditate on these things (evaluate performance) (4:15).

11. Give yourself entirely to the ministry (4:15).

12. Take heed to yourself (4:16).

13. Not rebuke elder men, but exhort them (5:1).

14. Allow for widows (5:2-9).

15. Ensure that households are in order (5:8).

16. Allow and encourage young women to marry (5:14).

17. Ensure that elders receive 'double-honor' (5:17-18).

18. Publicly rebuke any elder that sins (5:19).

19. Do nothing with prejudice (5:21).

4. GODLINESS WITH CONTENTMENT

First Timothy 6

"Now godliness with contentment is great gain."

1Tim 6:6

Paul's method of correcting error, is to teach true doctrine. Some false teachers saw their message as a way to make a living.

10. What did Paul say to do to such men? (6:5)

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But Paul states that those who are godly are not concerned about making a lot of money. This is because they have learnt how to be content. This contentment is worth much more than material riches.

11. With what should we be content? (6:8)

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12. What do verses 9-10 tell us about rich people who seek wealth?

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13. What did Paul command Timothy to teach rich people who were saved? (6:17)

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Amen.

Next Study

New Testament Survey

© 2001 Andrew Corbett, Legana, Tasmania

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