First of 3 letters known as the Pastoral Epistles
Uniquely written to a person, Timothy, Paul’s protege
Delivered to Timothy in Ephesus, largely about the Ephesian church
A strong, candid, direct letter—but it’s loving. It’s gentle, but firm.
Paul is the elder-statesman apostle, writing his younger friend, Timothy.
Born in Tarsus as a Roman citizen
A brilliant man, prominent and highly educated Jewish leader and legal scholar
Prior to his conversion, a leading persecutor of the church
Traveled to Ephesus twice during his 2nd and 3rd missionary journeys
Known for his evangelical work among the Gentiles
Imprisoned by Nero’s regime in Rome, Paul was beheaded around A.D. 68.
Expansive city, Aegean seaport and major trading center.
Home to one of the seven wonders of the world, the temple of the goddess Artemis.
A major city under the Roman empire, Rome was kind of like America — you could practice your religion without fear of persecution, as long as you didn’t interfere with the government.
Paul, the aged and experienced apostle, writes to young pastor Timothy who is facing a heavy burden of responsibility in the church at Ephesus. The task is challenging: false doctrine must be erased, public worship safeguarded, and mature leadership developed. In addition to the conduct of the church, Paul talks pointedly about the conduct of the minister.
Timothy must be on his guard lest his youthfulness become a liability, rather than an asset to the gospel. He must be careful to avoid false teachers and greedy motives, pursuing instead righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness as befitting a man of God. (1.)
Theme and Purpose
The theme is Paul’s instruction for Timothy’s organization and oversight of the Asian churches. For a short book, it is full of practical theology.
But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 1 Timothy 1:5
Many agree that this is the point of the letter: the goal of our instruction is love.
Christians right now are challenged at every place for what we believe, and blamed for things we haven’t done. It isn’t unique, but it seems harder right now. In our country today, Christianity is about the only thing you can vilify without fear of consequence.
Love means never endorsing, encouraging, or sanctioning sin.
This simple verse clarifies:
Our hoped-for outcome is love
Our posture is a pure heart
Our motivation is a good conscience and sincere faith
I believe it is fair to say Paul’s overarching message is to teach Timothy to teach others. The solution to false teaching is always sound doctrine.
The Christian life is a constant re-education of things you already know. One of the dangers of the Bible church is the worship of insight and nuances. It almost always comes back to: do you trust and obey because of what you know? When it comes to false teaching, the only solution is sound doctrine.
“But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully, realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted. 1 Timothy 1:8-11
Is the Bible the very word of God, or not?
The Law is good, but it’s for the unrighteous—those who aren’t holy, aren’t following God, or for Christians who are living in sin.
The ideology of love and how it’s been twisted in our culture is not new. It existed in the first century, and in the Old Testament. We may think we’re more sophisticated, but “there’s nothing new under the sun.”
Don’t let the world teach you theology.
After this tough section, Paul continues:
“This command I entrust to you, Timothy, my son, in accordance with the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you fight the good fight, keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith. 1 Timothy 1:18-19
Addressing sin has never been easy. Addressing sin has to be done in the right way, and Paul is telling Timothy, “this is how you deal with this in Christ’s church.” His instruction is biblical and simple.
Paraphrased: Timothy, you’re in a fight. It’s a good fight, but it’s a fight. I want you to stay in that fight—and as you fight, keep a good conscience.
“First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men,2for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.3This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,4who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” 1 Timothy 2:1-4
The first instruction? Pray. ”
Paul did not specify here the content of these prayers, but almost certainly he was instructing that requests be made for the salvation of the populace and its governors. This can be seen clearly from the following verses. With Nero’s growing resentment toward Christians—which came to full bloom after the fire in Rome in July, A.D.64—and the general disintegration of the Roman Empire due to Nero’s profligacy, Christians began to suffer persecution from the Roman authorities. Having recently been released from his Roman imprisonment, Paul was greatly aware of the deteriorating political atmosphere. Thus he urged prayer for the salvation of all men, but especially rulers, so that the stable, noninterfering environment of previous days might be recovered. This is the minimum requirement if Christians are to live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and dignity. Times of political and social upheaval are excellent times in which to die for Christ, but hard times in which to live for Him.” (2.)
When I boil this down, the reason I think we don’t pray is that we don’t need God. When our health, finances, marriage, home family, job are all going well, we don’t feel our need for God. We pray when we’re desperate. When the troubles of life come, we get busy with God. When life is easy, we take the hand off the tiller.
Paul is telling the younger Timothy: Pray! Bring your requests and your thanksgiving to God, pray for others and for your leaders, so that you might live a tranquil and quiet life with all godliness and dignity.
That’s fighting the good fight. It’s not going to be fun, it’s going to be hard, but it’s the right fight.
Will you and I fight the fight?
•Roles of men and women
•Qualifications for elders and deacons –those who would lead His church must be above reproach, men of good and godly character, examples to the flock.
•Paul’s insightful instruction for Timothy to be a successful servant of the Lord in difficult times
•The treatment / care for widows (the overlooked in society)
•And he ends with strong warnings about the love of money.
“Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.” 1 Timothy 4:12
I love this passage. Example is the word “Tupos” in Greek—type. Make an impression.
How to be an Example
1.Speech –what you say
2.Conduct –what you do
3.Love –what you show
4.Faith –what you believe
5.Purity –what you intend
This is His church and you’re part of it. Are you an example?
- Bruce Wilkinson and Kenneth Boa, Talk Thru the Bible(Nashville: T. Nelson, 1983), 426.
- A. Duane Litfin, “1 Timothy,”in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 734.