Monday, October 30, 2023

2023.10.30 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Timothy 1:3–7

Read 1 Timothy 1:3–7

Questions from the Scripture text: Where had Paul gone (1 Timothy 1:3)? What did he leave Timothy behind to do? What where they to teach? To what two things weren’t they to give heed (1 Timothy 1:4)? What do these things cause? What don’t these things cause? Of what does 1 Timothy 1:5 tell us the purpose? From what three sources does this love issue? But what did some do (1 Timothy 1:6)? To what did they turn aside instead? Out of what desire did they do this (1 Timothy 1:7)? What two things didn’t they understand? 

What did Paul leave Timothy behind in Ephesus to do? 1 Timothy 1:3–7 helps us think about the diaconate, as we prepare to certify, elect, ordain, and install deacons. In these five verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that churches urgently need called men to teach right doctrine that results in right living.

The right men1 Timothy 1:31 Timothy 1:7. Not everyone who has an idea should get to say it in church. In fact, many desire to be teachers (1 Timothy 1:7a), but they don’t even understand their own words (verse 7b), let alone how off their theology is (verse 7c). So, in his apostolic authority, Paul had left Timothy behind with instructions to, among other things, recognize and appoint the other teachers whom Christ Himself was calling to the ministry (cf. 1 Timothy 2:12–3:7). 

The right doctrine1 Timothy 1:3-4. The right men need to teach the right doctrine, which is to say “no other doctrine” than that apostolic doctrine that is recorded for us in Scripture. One favorite mode of teaching for those who wish to appoint themselves is just to teach “clever” ways they have come to think about theological or spiritual things. Another favorite is to “give heed to fables,” adopting men’s ideas that have gained the appearance of weightiness by being passed down in the church. A third mode of false teaching is to take more difficult passages of Scripture (like genealogies) and endlessly teach those instead of the plainer passages of Scripture that teach us how to understand the more difficult.

Unsurprisingly, all three modes of false teaching produce disputes. Their talk is idle/useless (1 Timothy 1:6), but they are not without effect. They stray from that gospel upon which all true believers can agree, and thus fail to build the church up in God. But this “godly edification” is exactly what grows out of faith. When believers are actually growing in understanding, approving, and being shaped by the truth of God’s Word, the result is not disputes but the building up of the household of God.

Resulting in right living1 Timothy 1:5-6. The word translated ‘commandment’ here refers more to instruction/urging than the one in 1 Timothy 1:1, which indicates authoritative injunction. It’s referring to the urging of 1 Timothy 1:3. Why is it so necessary that the right men teach the right doctrine? To produce right living—which we might also call right loving. The Lord brings us to love Him with all the heart, our brothers as He loved us, and our neighbors as ourselves. And He does so by the mechanism described in 1 Timothy 1:5

The Lord uses right teaching to make the heart pure/good/sincere. It is His own Word that He promises to write on our hearts (cf. Hebrews 8:10, Hebrews 10:16). And it is His own Word that has the power to do this (cf. Psalm 19:7–8). The idle talk of man has neither this promise nor this power.

The Lord uses right teaching to make our conscience good. A bad conscience approves the wrong things. A good conscience approves the right things. It is the renewing of our minds that transforms us so that we can prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God (cf. Romans 12:2). It gives us a good conscience.

The Lord uses right teaching to give us sincere (un-pretended) faith. It’s one thing to try to appear to others to be confident, or even to try to stir up a feeling of confidence within ourselves, but such faith is “pretended.” It is merely put on. True faith is being convinced of what God says, even if it’s not visible or hasn’t happened yet (cf. Hebrews 11:1). And it is the Word of God itself that produces this faith (cf. Romans 10:14–17).

How does God give that love for Himself and others by which He builds up His church? He uses the proclamation of His Word. To have other men teach other things produces the disputes of men where the Word of God has been given to do the work of God.

Why must you be careful not to appoint yourself a teacher or follow self-appointed teachers? What kind of teaching should we expect from those whom Christ has truly appointed? What should you be seeking to have produced in yourself by sitting under such preaching and teaching?

Sample prayer:  Lord, forgive us for wanting others to hear our opinions about theology, Scripture, or spiritual things. Forgive us for when we follow the traditions of men, or make big mistakes from lesser-understood passages. Grant unto us men like Timothy, and those whom he was to ordain, to teach us Your Word. And, use that teaching to work in our hearts and minds. Produce in us that love for Yourself, brother, and neighbor by which You build Your church up in Yourself, which we ask in Your Name, Lord Jesus, AMEN!

 Suggested songs: ARP19B “The Lord’s Most Perfect Law” or TPH19B “The Heavens Above Declare”  

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