Thursday, March 16, 2023

2023.03.16 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Timothy 6:20–21

Read 1 Timothy 6:20–21

Questions from the Scripture text: Concerning whom does the apostle now address Timothy (1 Timothy 6:20)? What is he to do? To what? How did he obtain this deposit? What two things must he avoid? What pseudonym do others give  these babblings of empty talk and these contradictions (end of verse 20)? What have some done with this “knowledge” (1 Timothy 6:21)? And what has this profession led them to stray from? In opposition to this danger, with what blessing does the apostle conclude the letter?

What endangers our doctrine, and what does this endanger us of doing? 1 Timothy 6:20–21 looks forward to the second reading in morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these two verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that it is critically important for us to maintain biblical truth and reject the temptation to think that we have come into some secret knowledge of our own.

This letter began urging Timothy that he was left in Ephesus to not permit any other doctrine (1 Timothy 1:3). Halfway through, the apostle summarizes that he’s writing, even though he plans to come shortly, so that the church may maintain its role as the pillar and ground of truth (1 Timothy 3:14–16). Now, the conclusion of the letter is an urgent plea to guard the deposit entrusted to him (1 Timothy 6:20). 

A deposit that must be kept. We learn from the language of 1 Timothy 6:20 that the truth is a deposit; it isn’t ours. It belongs to God as His possession, to the church as its charge, and to the world of sinners as their only hope. It is a deposit entrusted from God, kept by the church, for the sake of the world. As any who are well-instructed know, when something precious belongs to someone else, you should take even greater care with it than you would if it was your own. And if it is God’s, and if it is the world’s only hope, how then should we take care of it?

All addition must be avoided. In the second half of 1 Timothy 6:20, we learn the great threat to the truth: not lies but things that go by the pseudonym of truth. Sadly, much of what gets presented as knowledge in the churches is actually “babblings of empty talk.” How can we know that it’s empty? It doesn’t come from the Scripture. Truth is what was entrusted to the church as a deposit, not something that the church may add to. Scripture is the only authoritative interpreter of Scripture, and it never contradicts itself. Anything we attempt to add will instead be “contradictions”—falsehoods that cannot entirely synthesize with the truth of Scripture.

All must take heed not to fall. The apostle warns Timothy about what happened to others who have not guarded against the temptation to think that they had special knowledge apart from the Bible. They strayed from the faith. In the author’s short time on the earth, many have attempted to add—whether feminism, evolutionism, tolerance of homosexuality, or some other “new truth”—and ended up rejecting the entire faith altogether. The apostle did not want Timothy to think that he was immune from getting caught up in some new, extrabiblical “knowledge” to the destruction of his profession and theology. 

This keeping and avoiding and taking heed was not something that the apostle expected Timothy to do in his own strength. Rather, the closing greeting is also a prayer that God’s grace would be with him. God Himself, by grace, is Timothy’s hope for fulfilling his ministry. And it is our hope, too, for learning and holding to the truth of Scripture and not straying from the faith. 

God has given us the Bible to be the substance of private worship, family worship, and corporate worship. He has given us the Lord’s Day and how to keep it. In addition to apostles, prophets, and evangelists, He has given us pastor-teachers. He has given us congregations that hold together to a pattern of sound words. He has given us husbands and fathers. And most of all, He has given us His Spirit, that we might humbly be kept, rather than self-assuredly end up straying. May His grace be with you, dear reader!

What are you doing, in your life, to learn the Scriptures and what they teach? What are you doing to avoid getting into extrabiblical teaching that appears wise but isn’t? What does it look like for you to depend upon the Lord in order not to fall for human knowledge?

Sample prayer:  Lord, thank You for keeping Your truth for us in Your Word, throughout the centuries. Forgive us for when we have given in to the seductive desire to think that we had special knowledge apart from it and apart from Your own stated way of preserving it. Truly, our pride has endangered us of straying from the truth. Forgive us, and preserve us by Your grace, we ask through Christ, AMEN!

ARP1 “How Blessed the Man” or TPH273 “Break, Thou the Bread of Life”

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