When Paul was leaving Ephesus, he warned the elders of that church to,
“Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears” (Acts 20:28-31)
Around six years later, Paul writes this letter to Timothy (1:2, 18; 6:20) who was charged by Paul to remain in Ephesus (1:3). Why does he write this letter? The answer to this question can be found in what could be called the theme verses:
“I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that, if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth” (3:14-15).
This letter was written so that we may know how to conduct ourselves in the church. This is why our series is entitled, God’s Blueprint for a Godly Church. The book of 1st Timothy provides the readers with four overall themes:
Defending the Church’s Message 1:1-20
In the first chapter, Paul calls for Timothy to defend the church’s message. The church has been given sound doctrine (1:10; 4:6, 13, 16; 5:17; 6:1, 3-4) that is according to the gospel (1:11). Paul charges Timothy to make sure that no contrary teaching enters into the church (1:3-11). It is only sound doctrine that contains the transforming power of the gospel (1:12-17) and is to be lived out with a good conscience (1:18-20).
Directions for the Church’s Members 2:1-3:16
In chapters 2 and 3, Paul provides directions for the church’s members. These directions focus on areas concerning public worship (2:1-15) and pastoral oversight (3:1-13). When discussing the nature of public worship, he is very specific regarding the roles of men (2:1-8) and women (2:9-15). Concerning pastoral oversight, he provides the biblical qualifications for overseers (3:1-7) and deacons (3:8-13). This section is concluded with a summary statement concerning this letters purpose – namely the church’s conduct and confession (3:14-16).
Duties of the Church’s Minister 4:1-16
Chapter contains a contrast between the content and characteristics of the great apostasy (4:1-4) and the good servant (4:6-16). The church’s minister (servant) is to be marked by the essential elements that are pleasing to the Lord.
Dealing with the Church’s Members 5:1-6:21
The final section of this book contains how to deal with the church’s members. He gives specific instructions concerning various age groups (5:1-2), widows (5:3-16), elders (5:17-25), masters (6:1-2), troublemakers (6:3-10) and the wealthy (6:17-19). He concludes with a final charge in which Timothy is to “guard the deposit entrusted to” him (6:20-21).
1. What are your overall impressions of 1st Timothy?
2. Read Acts 20:28-31 and discuss the serious responsibility of church leaders. How can we be praying for our church leadership?
3. Look up the following references and make some observations about Timothy (Acts 16:1-3; 17:10-15; 19:21-22; 20:1-6; 1 Corinthians 4:17; 16:10; Philippians 2:19; 1 Thessalonians 3:1-10; 1 Timothy 4:12, 14; 5:23; 2 Timothy 1:5; 3:15).
4. 1st Timothy 3:14-16 contains the purpose of this book: the conduct and confession of the church. Why is it important for a church to know how to conduct itself? Do many churches focus on the blueprint found in 1st Timothy? Why or why not?
5. Take time to pray for your church. Pray that your church would by God’s grace develop into a conduct that is in accordance with God’s blueprint.