1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope, 2 To Timothy, my true child in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
3 As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, 4 nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith. 5 The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 6 Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion,7 desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions.
8 Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, 9 understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, 10 the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, 11 in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted. (1 Timothy 1:1-11)
We need to remember that a church’s doctrine is not to be limited to its current situation. We are to recognize that we stand in line with centuries of historical truth. Every church potentially is less than a generation away from compromise. In this passage, Paul calls for Timothy to guard against departure of doctrine (1:3-7) and to guard the gospel of glory (1:8-11).
Guard Against Departure of Doctrine (1 Timothy 1:3-7)
After his opening greeting (1:1-2), Paul provides Timothy with a serious charge, which reveals the occasion for the writing of this letter (1:3-5). Timothy may have had plans to move on from his role in Ephesus but Paul urges him to “remain at Ephesus” with the view to guarding against a departure from sound doctrine (1:3). Those who have departed from sound doctrine “devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies” (1:4a). It is possible they still teach truth, but they add to it things “which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith” (1:4b). The goal of this charge is genuine love. This love has a threefold source, it “issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith“(1:5).
After giving this charge, Paul reveals the conduct of the problematic teachers in Ephesus (1:6-7). They have strayed from the source of biblical love. This has led them to wandering “away into vain discussion” (1:6). This departure from sound doctrine has resulted in their pride (“desiring to be teachers of the law“) and ignorance (“without understanding“). False teachers ignore biblical love (1:5, cf. 2 Tim. 3:2), they don’t source their teachings from the sufficient Scripture and a transformed life (1:4, 6), and they are prideful (1:7). Beware of false teachers!
Guard the Gospel of Glory (1 Timothy 1:8-11)
In addition to guarding against departure from doctrine, Paul calls for Timothy to guard the gospel of glory. This is achieved by rightly using the law of God. Though the false teachers desired to become teachers of the law, they were using it unlawfully. God’s “law is good, if one uses it lawfully” (1:8). Though the law has many uses (refer to study question 5), Paul reveals that one purpose of the law is that it is for sinners to come to an understanding of their horrible condition before the Lord and to find grace in the gospel of Christ. He provides a list of conditions and sins that the law condemns (1:9-10). The lawful use of the law is “in accordance with the gospel of the glory” (1:11). The false teachers use the law for their purposes (promotion of pride), whereas the law is to be used as a means to display the power of the gospel.
2. Discuss the importance of the church having biblical, historical and clear doctrine.
4. Throughout Scripture we are warned about false prophets and teachers (Matt. 7:15; 24:4;Acts 20:28-30). Jesus taught that we would know them by their fruits (Matt. 7:16). From our passage (and others) what are some of the characteristics of false teachers?
6. Pray that the Lord will enable your church to guard sound doctrine and that He would protect from error and pride.