Written by Pastor Andrew Courtis
A few weeks ago it was my privilege to finish a verse-by-verse exposition of Paul’s first letter to Timothy. I would like to share some key points and lessons I have learnt from this great letter.
But first,a brief introduction.
The first letter of Paul to Timothy provides us a clear understanding of a church’s confession and conduct. Shortly after his first Roman imprisonment, the Apostle wrote this letter to Timothy (ca. AD 62-64). Timothy, the recipient of the letter was viewed as Paul’s “true child… in the faith” (1 Tim. 4:12). He was a young man (1 Tim. 4:12) who struggled with infirmities (1 Tim. 5:23), and seemed to be timid by nature (2 Tim. 1:7). He grew up in a godly home and his grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice (2 Tim 1:5) taught him the Scriptures from childhood (cf, 2Tim. 3:15) Timothy was a gifted preacher (1 Tim. 4:13-14) and he had before him the important task of remaining in Ephesus (1 Tim. 1:3) with the purpose of defending the church’s message (1 Tim. 1:13-20), providing direction for the church’s members (1 Tim 2:1-3:16) practicing the duties of the church’s minister (1 Tim.4:1-16) and providing understanding on dealing with varying church members (1 Tim. 5:1-6:12).
This was no small task. Infecting this church were false teachers who Paul had warned about a few years earlier (cf. Acts 20:28-31). These teachers evidently carried positions of authority in the church. If the Ephesians church is going to glorify God, it is imperative that Timothy stands up with conviction and sorts these things out. The only way for a church to glorify God is to function according to His mandate. This letter was written so that “you may know how one is to behave in the household of God, a pillar and buttress of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15).
Here are four brief lessons.
Lesson 1: The Church has a Message that needs to be Defended (1 Tim. 1:20)
In the first chapter, Paul cauls for Timothy to defend the church’s message. The church has been taught sound (1 Tim. 1:10; 4:6; 13; 16; 5:17; 6:1; 3-4) that is according to the gospel (1 Tim 1:11). Paul charges Timothy to make sure that no contrary teaching enters into the church (1 Tim. 1:3-11) It is only sound doctrine that contains the transforming power of the gospel (1 Tim. 1:12-17) and it is to be lived out with good conscience (1 Tim. 1: 18-20). For this reason, the Word of God must be preached with faithfulness and conviction.
Lesson 2: The Church has Members that need Direction (1 Tim. 2:1-3:16)
In the second and third chapters, Paul provides directions for the church’s members. The directions focus on areas concerning public worship (1 Tim. 2:1-15) and pastoral oversight (1 Tim. 3:1-13). When discussing the nature of public worship, he is very specific regarding the roles of men (1 Tim. 2:1-8) and women (1 Tim. 2:9-15). Concerning pastoral oversight, he provides the biblical qualifications for overseers (1 Tim. 3:1-7) and deacons (1 Tim. 3:8-13). This section is concluded with a summary statement concerning this letter’s purpose – namely, the church’s conduct and confession (1 Tim. 3:1-16).
Lesson 3: The Church’s Minister has Duties (1 Tim. 4:1-16)
The forth chapter contains a contrast between the content and characteristics of the great apostasy (1Tim 4:1-4) and the good servant (1 Tim. 4:6-16). The church’s minister (servant) is to be marked by the essential elements that are pleasing to the Lord. He must be a man that gives himself to the Word and lovingly shepherd the flock.
Lesson 4: The church’s members need to be dealt with biblically (1 Tim. 5:1-6:21)
The final section of this letter contains how to deal with the church’s members. He gives specific instructions concerning various age groups (1 Tim. 5:1-2), widows (1 Tim. 5:3-16), elders (1 Tim. 5:17-25), masters (1 Tim. 6:1-2), troublemakers (1 Tim. 6:3-10) and the wealthy (1 Tim. 6:17-19). He concludes with a final charge in which Timothy is to “guard the deposit entrusted to” him (1Tim. 6:20-21). The church will be made up of all sorts of people and they are to be loved and instructed in the Word.
Much more could be said, but these four lessons (which serve as an outline) are essential if the church is going to honour the Lord.