For an introduction to this series, click here.
October 15, 2007
Timothy, of course, was Paul's protege. He was very special to Paul, despite the fact that Timothy had a lot of issues. He had issues with confidence, with self-esteem, and he apparently had health problems as well. The main purpose of this letter is to encourage Timothy for the work that he is doing.
"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, nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith." (1:3-4)
Paul mentions a lot in this epistle about foolish questions. Apparently Timothy was often sidetracked by trying to fully answer every question brought to him, and Paul tells him not to worry about questions that have nothing to do with genuine doctrine or real life.
"The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions. Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, 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, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted." (1:5-11)
First of all in this passage, notice that Paul says that many people are abusing the position of teacher in the church. This is something the leadership of the church has to take very seriously, more seriously than I have seen in many churches. Most churches, of course, don't have enough people interested in teaching, so any time somebody volunteers, they are usually allowed to just pick their position. But Paul says some people, apparently in the church at Ephesus where Timothy was ministering in at the time, were teaching without complete understanding of sound doctrine.
Secondly notice what Paul says about the law, namely the Law of Moses. It seems here that Paul is saying that the law's purpose is to condemn lost sinners, and not to bully believers, although others say that Paul's point is that those who are self-righteous cannot come to God for salvation. I would say that both of these statements are true, but the former statement fits the context better. We as believers are not subject to the Law. Paul is saying that teachers who try to put believers under the Law are treating their people like pagans.
"I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost." (1:12-15)
Paul never got over the fact that the Lord redeemed him from what he was and made him an apostle.
"This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme." (1:18-20, ESV)
This is a very interesting passage. I'm not really sure what it means to deliver someone to Satan. It could be simply church discipline, or it could be something that only an apostle could do.