1 Timothy 1
We now begin what are often referred to as the Pastoral Epistles (1 and 2 Timothy as well as Titus). Paul is writing to the men to whom he would be passing the baton. Timothy was pastoring in Ephesus, and from the internal evidence of the letters, he and Titus were not only pastors, but they were also pastor’s pastors. They were to appoint elders (pastors) in every city (1 Timothy 3:1; Titus 1:5). Being a pastor is a heavy responsibility, a holy calling that can only be done by God’s grace, His Holy Spirit, and by taking heed to His Holy Word. I thank God for the entirety of the Bible, but especially the pastoral epistles!
Paul urged Timothy to stay in Ephesus and make sure that they teach no other doctrine than what he had taught them. He also warned Timothy not to get side-tracked with fables and endless genealogies – things which only end in arguments rather than building each other up in the faith. “Timothy – stick to the truth of God’s Word!” Manny, do the same!
Paul reminds us that the purpose of his charge and God’s Word is love, true love from a pure heart, a good conscience, and sincere faith (what a good checklist to search my heart for). Do these things describe me?
Tragically there were already some who had turned aside to idle talk; they exalted themselves to be teachers in the church and yet they didn’t even understand God’s law. Ultimately, the law (the Old Testament code of conduct, civil, and ceremonial) was good to govern Jewish affairs and point to Jesus, but it never had the power to save a single soul. The law could point out sin, but it didn’t provide the power to cleanse us from sin or help us overcome it – only Jesus could do that. He was the fulfillment of the law (Matthew 5:17; Galatians 3:24). Many times we find “teachers” in the church who want to go back to the law or some form of legalism – Paul fought this tooth and nail, and he wanted Timothy to fight it as well.
Paul had been truly called by God, he was a trophy of grace. Paul formerly had been a blasphemer of Jesus, a persecutor, a violent, arrogant murderer (imagine that). But because he did it ignorantly (13) and would one day prove to be faithful (12) God lavished Paul with such amazing grace. Maybe Paul brings this up here to remind Timothy of Paul’s personal call from Jesus Himself. Paul’s growth in humility can be seen in the way he describes himself over the years – he’s not worthy to be an Apostle (1 Corinthians 15:9) he’s the least of the saints (Ephesians 3:8) and here we see he’s the chief of sinners (15). This grace is a revelation to all of us that God can save and use anyone He chooses. Praise God (and not Paul) (17).
Paul goes back to his charge, his challenge, his command to Timothy that was entrusted into his care – to protect the flock as a good and faithful shepherd is called to do. Remember Timothy, it’s a war! Timothy had been prophetically and personally called by God – he knew it. He was to stay the course and not suffer shipwreck as others beside him had. Timothy would have to deal with people like this in the ministry – Paul had to deliver Hymenaeus and Alexander to Satan, excommunicate them from the church – prayerfully they would learn and live (2 Tim. 2:17-18; 1 Cor. 5:4-5).
1 Timothy 2
As Paul begins to share the basic conduct of the body of Christ in the “church of God” (see also 3:15) he begins first of all with the men, that they would lead the way in prayers, supplications, and intercessions for all people, and all leaders, that they would all be saved, which would spill over into a quiet, godly, and peaceable life. Nowadays it’s hard enough just to get men to church, much less bringing them to that place of paving the way through prayer. But we must not give up – this is God’s code of conduct for the Christian church.
Believe it or not, there are some out there in Christendom who don’t believe that God wants “all men to be saved,” as we read so clearly here in v. 4. Beware of such teachings often named after men (in this case Calvinism). The Bible explicitly teaches us that God wants all people to be saved, He is not willing that any should perish (2 Peter 3:9).
There are also those out there who believe there are many ways to salvation, and yet the Bible here clearly teaches that there is only one way (v. 5). There is one God and one mediator between God and men, the Man, Christ Jesus (see also John 14:6; Acts 4:12). Some people get offended at this truth, but I’m just so grateful that God has provided a way! When Jesus was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane He asked His Father to let this cup pass, if there was any other way to get to heaven, Jesus would not have had to die – but there wasn’t any other way – and Jesus therefore died for our sins, He gave Himself a ransom for all and hence, Paul’s call to be a preacher and teacher of this truth.
I get so blessed when I see the men praying as described in v. 8 – lifting up their hands to God, but Paul mentions the fact that those hands should be holy, we shouldn’t be angry men, or doubting men. It’s obvious, in a simple reading of this chapter, however, that we should be praying men…O Lord…please help us.
Paul moves on to the sisters, it’s okay to fix yourselves up to be attractive (for your husband), but be careful not to dress to the point of being seductive. There is to be a beautiful modesty for the godly Christian woman. When she attends church service, she isn’t to call across the aisle, asking her husband questions, she’s to learn silently, quietly (in those days the men and women sat separately). As far as Pastors and Teachers go – in the public assembly – the Scriptures clearly declare that women are not to hold those positions over men. This doesn’t mean men are any better, it’s just our role and responsibility to lead in the home and at church. This was the order of creation, and yet when you look back to Eve’s deception in the Garden of Eden, things started out on the wrong foot. Blessed is that woman who values her role as a homemaker – I can’t think of anything more important in the entire universe, than being the primary one to influence our children to godliness! This doesn’t mean women can’t serve at church – over the years I would honestly say that the ladies have been the backbone to every church body I’ve been a part of. Their faithfulness, their prayers, their godliness, and genuine loveliness have been instrumental and even fundamental in all my years as a Christian. I pray that both men and women would answer their respective callings in life.
1 Timothy 3
The call to the position of a bishop (pastor, shepherd, overseer) is a call to genuine holiness. If the leaders aren’t right with God, where will they lead the people? Jesus said in Matthew 10:24-25 that a disciple will inevitably end up like his teacher. We can never lead anyone farther than we’ve gone, and it’s for that reason, we pastors have a heavy responsibility to follow hard after our Lord Jesus Christ.
Of course we notice that this calling is a calling of character-first; as a matter of fact, the only skill required in this list of 16 things, is that he must be able to teach. I have a hunch that often times, when we do a search for pastors, we sacrifice the other traits at the altar of the fact that this guy might be a good teacher – we need to be so careful! There are 15 other things mentioned in this passage alone. Paul tells Timothy that it’s perfectly fine to want to be a pastor, but we must aspire be a blameless example to the flock and to lead our family well. I like what Sandy Adams said, “The first place to live the Christian life is at home. If your Christianity does not work at home, don’t try to export it.”
To be blameless means that no accusation will stick. In my opinion the husband of one wife means he can’t be divorced as a Christian and still be a pastor. To be temperate means I’m able to show self-control. Sober-minded points to the fact that he has a good head on his shoulders. He lives the life, he’s a people person, able to teach, not a drinker of alcohol, not violent, not greedy for money or the things money can buy; gentle, easy to get along with, not an arguer, not covetous (content), he leads his house well as a loving leader with godly influence (Paul makes us think it through – if the guy can’t manage his house well, neither will he be able to manage the church. A pastor can’t be a novice for a number of reasons – to see one’s character takes time – but Paul points to the fact that the man might get prideful, because he sped past others…we need to be patient in the appointment of pastors.
Paul also gives the qualifications for deacons; this is a sphere of Christian service that differs from that of a pastor, you get a “visual” of this in Acts 6:1-7. Deacons are simply servants; they’re not necessarily called to teach or counsel per se, they might serve tables, do menial tasks, administrative aspects of ministry – really anything that has to do with serving the Lord and His people that differ from that of a pastor. We notice in the passage in Acts 6 and here in 1 Timothy 3 that even the most menial aspects of ministry require ministers that are holy.
Should we give people the title of Pastor or Deacon? It appears so, but we must not get caught up in the title. I like to tell people that we’re not into titles, but we areinto tasks! I’ll never forget the day I became a husband, a father, a pastor. These were titles that I previously did not possess…but now I do. It’s important to know my God-given roles and responsibilities, and that with the title, comes a task.
Paul wrote the letter in case he was delayed in coming to them; how they should conduct themselves in the church? In one sense, the church is the house of the living God, the pillar and ground of truth! What an awesome summary v. 16 is, of the mission and ministry of Jesus!
1 Timothy 4
Paul begins chapter 4 with some heartbreaking prophecies that Timothy needed to be aware of as a pastor – that some would depart from the faith, listening to the lies of Lucifer and all of his demons. That alone rocks my world…
They would depart from the faith, listening to the lies, and not only doctrines of demons – heresy – but also hypocrisy. What a terrible place to be when one’s conscience is seared and they have absolutely no conviction, and then the pendulum swings to the other extreme. It can range from hedonism all the way to asceticism, where they forbade to marry. My heart goes out to the Catholic church, the whole concept of celibacy has no Biblical merit whatsoever – what a tragedy this has turned out to be. “Commanding to abstain from foods…” Paul talks a little bit about the self-imposed dietary prohibitions in the book of Colossians as well (2:21), “Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle…” That’s not Christianity! I like what Sandy Adams said, “These rules may seem wise because they require strong devotion, pious self-denial, and severe bodily discipline. But they provide no help in conquering a person’s evil desires.”
We need to be so careful. Paul tells Timothy to instruct the brethren in these things and if he did, he would be fulfilling his call to protect the flock from bogus bondage – it would be good for the flock and even nourishing to him – it’s good doctrine we are to CAREFULLY follow (6).
We are to exercise ourselves towards godliness (7). The Greek word translated exercise is “gymnazo” from where we derive our English word “gymnasium.” It’s there we train, where we do those spiritual calisthenics, we work hard, we discipline ourselves to be godly –like Jesus. Physical exercise has its benefits, but it pales infinitely in comparison to the benefits of exercising spiritually; this life is temporal, a vapor, in comparison to the next life which is eternal. Paul wants his son in the faith, his protégé Timothy to grow. This was a faithful saying regarding exercise in the early church, it was worthy of acceptance, and this is what Paul labored in and suffered for – it was all about the living God, the Savior of the world. Paul calls Timothy to teach these things to the people.
In the culture of that day Timothy was considered young, but that didn’t stop Paul from calling him to be an example – TO THE CHRISTIANS – in word, conduct, love, passion, faith, and purity.
Timothy was charged to be in the Word, to read it, challenge others with it, to make sure they were strong doctrinally. Timothy was not to neglect the gift he’d been given when they prayed and prophesied over him. We read something similar in 2 Timothy 1:6, “Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.” I wonder how many ministers fall short due to neglect?
Timothy was to meditate on these things, read it over and over and over again. How awesome would it be if his progress was evident to all! He was to take heed to all this, for his salvation and the salvation of others, in some way hinged upon the faithfulness to his call as a pastor.
1 Timothy 5
Paul continues his instruction to young Timothy in a myriad of ministry situations. As a young pastor he was not to personally rebuke an older man or woman, but to encourage them respectfully, as a father or mother. He was to treat the young ladies as sisters. Tragically nowadays we see many pastors fall into sexual sin…if only they took Paul’s words to heart and saw the younger ladies in the congregation as sisters.
The church was to honor widows who were really widows – this must have carried the idea of somehow providing some sort of assistance for them, even to the point of “taking them into the number” (9). If the widow had a child who could take care of her, this would first fall on the child’s shoulders. This flows perfectly with the commandment to honor our father and mother. This code of conduct is so deep, that v. 8 tells us that if the child refuses to make sure his or her mother is not cared for, such a person has “denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”
If a widow didn’t have children to help her, the church would consider taking her “in” – IF – she met certain qualifications. V. 10 says that she must be well reported for good works, had been a faithful mom, if she opened her house up for people to stay when they traveled, washed the saints feet, relieved the afflicted – in other words – she had to be a dear Christian sister who had lived the life of a servant; if she met those qualifications, and had no children to help her, the church was obligated to take care of her…and what a blessing she would be! Paul points out in v. 5 that such women are prayer warriors, left alone, trusting in God, continuing in supplications night and day! As a pastor I’ll be the first to testify that such women are the heart and soul of any ministry! Remember the example of such a lovely lady in Luke 2:36–37 (NKJV) 36Now there was one, Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, and had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity; 37and this woman wasa widow of about eighty-four years, who did not depart from the temple, but served Godwith fastings and prayers night and day.
In spite of Anna’s example, Paul prefers in a general sense, that if the widow is young…it would be better for her to remarry, bear children, manage the household; her natural desires might get the best of her.
Paul closes the chapter with guidelines for pastors in the church. It’s okay to pay him remuneration, if he labors in the Word and faithfully leads. If someone makes an accusation against an elder, don’t receive it without two or three witnesses, remember the enemy is the accuser of the brethren (Revelation 12:10). If an elder is sinning, it’s best to bring it out in the open and rebuke him in the presence of the other elders. Paul charged Timothy solemnly to live these things out – to make sure he didn’t show partiality. As pastors we are not to ordain anyone hastily, lest we share in their sins. Timothy had some stomach issues and the water would only aggravate it – Paul suggested he drink wine instead (but keep in mind that the wine back then was 8 times weaker than it is today). Verses 24-25 reveal the fact that we don’t always know the sins or the good works in the lives of the people (context is speaking of leaders). One day…it will all be revealed!
1 Timothy 6
There were 60 million slaves in the Roman world back then – Paul challenges those who were Christians to be faithful workers. Nowadays the exhortation would apply to employees, Paul says to work so hard that our employers would be blessed by our witness, and if your boss is already a believer, don’t slack and become a Christian kick-back, instead serve them all the more because of the fact that now a believer benefits by their hard work.
There may have been some whose teachings were contradictory, so Paul warns Timothy not to consent. It’s tragic to consider that terrible traits of these false teachers listed in verses 4-5 – proud, ignorant, arrogant, carnal and covetous men who taught that godliness was a means of gain. I can’t help but think of the health, wealth, and prosperity doctrine of demons today – the men (usually on TV) getting filthy rich off of the people – one day God will judge them for the way they fleeced the flock.
The rich person is actually the godly person clothed with contentment. Recently I read a refreshing account, “I admired their complete contentment, with nothing of the material realm. All they needed was a box of raisins and some oats and they were ready to minister for God anywhere they were called. It was so beautiful, their simplicity of faith and trust in Jesus.” – Pastor Chuck Smith reflecting on hippies who came to know Christ. All we really need is food and clothing and Jesus promised that our Father would always provide that, we have nothing to worry about (Matthew 6:25-33).
If we ever come to a place where we desire to be rich (lottery ticket purchasers beware) we fall so deeply into temptation, that we become vulnerable to the snares of Satan, harmful lusts, disciples have drowned in such troubled waters. Paul warns and informs us that the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, from which some have even strayed from the faith.
Don’t follow after money, on the contrary pursue the Lord, seek the character of Christ. We must fight the good fight of faith till the day we see the Lord in glory. We need to hold fast to our confession of Christ, and pastors must keep these commandments in light of the Lord Jesus Christ who really is the King of kings! (Jesus’ confession before Pilate was His affirmative answer to Pilate’s question ‘Are you the king of the Jews?’ – see Matt 27:11, Mark 15:2, Luke 23:3, John 18:33- 37.”)
One day (and it sure seems soon) Jesus will appear and we will see Him in ALL of His glory! (15-16)
Earlier Paul dealt with those who long to be rich, he now addresses those who are already rich, not to trust in uncertain riches (tomorrow it can all turn to dust) – NO! We are to trust in the living God who gives us richly all things to enjoy. The rich are to be rich in good works, willing to share with those less fortunate and thereby laying up treasures that are eternal
Timothy…pastors, guard these things as a faithful shepherd would, for false teachers propagating false doctrine are tragically leading people astray.