1:2 to Timothy, my true child in faith: Grace, mercy, and peace,
from God our Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
1:3 As I exhorted you to stay at Ephesus when I was going into Macedonia,
that you might charge certain men not to teach a different doctrine,
1:4 neither to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies,
which cause disputes, rather than God's stewardship, which is in faith--
1:5 but the end of the charge is
vas 3-4 Should Christians avoid teaching or dealing with any subjects
that are controversial (or promote controversy)?
Since Paul himself (even in this letter) teaches many things that have been controversial and even divisive, what else is he measuring to determine what should be taught?
How do you determine whether a teaching promotes God's work?
What is an example of a teaching that should be avoided?
vs 5 Now evaluate as to whether that teaching edifies any of the three
aspects of a person mentioned in this verse.
What is so important about a person's heart, his conscience, and his convictions with respect to his practice of the Christian faith?
vs 6 Ever run into people or hear them speak confidently on the radio or tv about something and you know that they don't really know what they're talking about? If Christians are supposed to be children of light and truth, why is it that truth is often not a priority when Christians speak? Why do slanderous rumors and myths often dominate the Christian media? And why do Christians often so casually use the term "word of God" to refer to whatever their personal opinion is regardless of whether it contradicts the Bible?
vs 7-11 Since "the law is our tutor to lead us to Christ that we may
be justified by faith" and since Paul himself derives applications taking
verses from the law of Moses, should Christians avoid teaching the first
five books of the Bible (The Law)? If not, then what is Paul upset about
these teachers of the law? (xref Rom 2:17-27, Gal 2)
|A pure heart||The Heart||A Christian should practice love only in the context of holiness|
|A good conscience||The Conscience||A Christian should practice discerning good and evil in himself and in the world|
|A sincere faith||The Convictions||A Christian's faith should not be merely experimental or one which easily falls away, but characterized by unwavering convictions based on the enduring Word of God having been fully convinced that God has spoken and is able to do what He promised as demonstrated in applying his faith thoughout his life.|
One can evaluate teaching materials by asking the questions:
As is common in his letters Paul starts off reminding the reader of his authorization, his appointed office as an apostle, which gives particular weight to his words and for this reason we study them.
Here we notice that of the many aspects of God and Jesus Christ, in this case he speaks of God our Savior and Jesus Christ our hope. Interesting that among other places he speaks of salvation in this letter, he speaks of God "desiring all men to be saved" (1Tim 2:4), and of "God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe." (1Tim 4:10) The hope is of course the feeling of anticipation of the salvation which is yet to be revealed.
So as we study through this letter we should keep in mind that whatever particulars Paul is writing of, this letter may primarily concern salvation.
Paul first met Timothy in Acts 16:1-3. There we learn that Timothy was already a disciple of Jesus Christ and well spoken of by the Christian community there. Paul desired to utilize him in his ministry. But he came from a family where his father was Greek and his mother Jewish. The Jews generally held very significant prejudice against Gentiles. Even the Jewish Christians in the church of Jerusalem displayed elements of that prejudice when it came to the distribution of bread to the widows, for "there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists, because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution." Acts 6:1 So to help overcome such prejudice in the case of Timothy he circumcised him, and thus among the Jews they would minister to Timothy could admit to being circumcised, making him an insider among the Jews. Timothy was in fact a Jew as the tradition even holds today that one is a Jew if one's mother is Jewish. However we note that Paul did not circumcise Titus, as he was a Gentile.
Without digressing more on that subject we note that Paul characterizes himself as Timothy's father. Not that he led him to Christ. Yet there are many today who consider themselves spiritual "fathers" who simply prayed a prayer with a person to receive Christ and then let them go on their way. That is not being a father to the person. Paul mentored Timothy. He discipled him. He instructed him. Timothy was Paul's apprentice in the ministry. And so also Timothy behaves as a dutiful son to Paul. Paul writes to the Philippians saying of him, "I have no one else like him, who takes a genuine interest in your welfare. For everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. But you know that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel." Php 2:20-22
Then the first thing that Paul does is pray for Timothy that he would receive grace, mercy and peace. So among the other concerns to pray for your children, include these three things.
Deviant doctrines are elsewhere characterized as cancer or leaven, such as in 2Tim 2:16,17 "shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness. And their message will spread like cancer", and in Galatians concerning the doctrine of the circumcision he says, "A little leaven leavens the whole lump." To just leave them alone is to invite further corruption of the Christian community. And so the Bible instructs first of all to identify them and then to purge or otherwise isolate them, much as that process itself will inevitably invite conflict. But that kind of conflict is characteristic of Jesus and Paul's ministry, and so the Christian need not shy away from it.
Bible study is about developing convictions unto godly edification. But one cannot develop convictions based upon things which are largely speculative. Rather things which are highly speculative invite vain disputes as there may be little substance to say anything for certain.
In contrast to that notice the attitude of the Bible authors, such as Luke "it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus, that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed." Luke 1:3,4 Or Peter "we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty."
What commandment? It was Paul's command for Timothy to stop Christians from preaching deviant doctrines or those that are highly speculative. Why? Because they do no lead to godly edification in the faith. And in particular they do not lead to being edified in love in three areas. First of all godly edification results in a purifying of one's heart, which is the seat of one's desires, the basis of one's motivations. Good doctrine deals with issues of hypocrisy and right desires. Secondly is the issue of the conscience. Edifying doctrine results in a healthy conscience - which is not to say a conscience which is guilt-free, but a conscience that feels guilty when one sins, and feels good when it does what is right. That's a healthy conscience. Whereas deviant doctrines often either avoid issues of guilt or place guilt on the wrong thing, or otherwise get things out of balance with respect to the conscience. And thirdly edifying doctrine results in a sincere faith, being solidly based upon the Word of God, as opposed to mere opinions based upon highly speculative stories. Furthermore a sincere faith is a faith which is applied. This as opposed to those who obsess over issues of armchair theology or fables or other highly speculative ideas.
"idle talk" is that which is vain, meaningless, empty. He warns Timothy again of this in 2Tim 4:2-4 reminding him to preach the word "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables." I wonder if the "Left Behind" series with its associated movies falls in that category. The emphasis concerning things which are largely speculative is to avoid them. Focus on what is known for certain.
The problem is that our human nature yearns for some new thing, some extraordinary idea, some new revelation, and thusly are people drawn away into deviant theology. What God has provided is manna from heaven, which is the Word of God. But Israel got tired of manna, saying, "We remember the fish which we ate freely in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic; but now our whole being is dried up; there is nothing at all except this manna before our eyes!"Num 11:5,6
This is a sort of sophomoric effect where people get a little knowledge and experience and reckon themselves experts. Perhaps the most dangerous drivers are not beginners, but rather those who have driven for about 6 months and thereupon reckon themselves experts.
Teachers, including Jesus and the New Testament authors, often utilize the Old Testament by way of analogy, allegory, or inference. But if one doesn't have a solid understanding of the fundamental concepts of scripture, one can easily end up reading just about anything into Old Testament events. And thus best to follow the hermeneutic that whatever is clear in scripture takes precedent over what might be inferred, and what is emphasized in scripture takes precedence over what is not emphasized.
To use it lawfully is to interpret and apply it using proper Biblical hermeneutics (principles of interpretation). For example twice Paul utilizes Deut 25:4 "You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain." This he applies as affirming the idea that one who preaches the gospel has a right to get paid for it. (1Cor 9:9; 1Tim 5:18) But he also backs this up with the explicit teaching of the Lord by saying, "Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel." 1Cor 9:14, which is in line with what was practiced.
Another example is in Mark 10 concerning the subject of divorce, Jesus utilized verses in the first book of the Law to reveal the most fundamental principles concerning marriage from its very inception, which the Pharisees hadn't taken into account in their literal application of other verses from the Law.
Thus Law of Moses has relevance to the Christian life, as long as it is applied properly and consistent with New Testament principles.
Notice that Paul associates a "righteous person" in accordance with his behavior. Today often there is a misconception on this point in the Christian community, where a person being righteous is only regarded with respect to his judicial standing before God. But the Bible teaches that there is also a connection to the person's behavior.
Notice for example in 1Cor 6:9-11a "Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you." Notice again Paul associates the concept of righteous or unrighteous with one's behavior. Some among the Corinthians Christians fell into these categories prior to their being saved. But after becoming righteous they no longer behaved that way. True that "to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness" Rom 4:5, but they don't continue to live ungodliness after that point.
Therefore let us recognize that when we Christians speak about ourselves and other Christians as being righteous, we are making a statement not just with respect to such a person's judicial standing before God, but also we are making a claim concerning such a person's behavior. Do you live up to such a claim?
This verse continues on the list of behaviors of the unrighteous from the previous verse. Such lists are found in a number of places, such as 1Cor 6:9,10. And here's some others:
Eph 5:5 "this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God."It seems they had a very clear and categorical understanding as to what constituted the behavior of those who did not inherit the kingdom of God. Interesting that they made no attempt at prioritizing these. In the case of 1Tim 1:10 lying is given equal emphasis as sodomy and kidnapping. In Rev 21:8 cowardice is given equal emphasis as murder. Perhaps it would be instructive if each was viewed with equal severity - reckoning more severe than we do presently things like envy, cowardice, lying and selfish ambition.
Gal 5:19-21 "Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God."
Rev 21:8 "But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death."
To extend the categories Paul furthermore says, "if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine" While it could be argued that some amount of sound doctrine may not touch upon a person's behavior, much of sound doctrine does. Therefore in evaluating whether doctrine is sound, one test it to identify how the doctrine applies to one's behavior.
God entrusted the gospel to the apostle Paul. It is noteworthy that many of those of other religions give deference to a "Jesus", though they don't really mean the Biblical Jesus. But many such people - such as Muslims - have an outright hostile attitude towards the apostle Paul. In fact even among Christians there are those who are angered by or otherwise reject what Paul teaches - like his views on women. But the fact is that if one rejects the gospel which Paul preaches, one rejects Jesus. Paul's gospel is the gospel of Christ.