Thursday, August 1, 2013

1 Timothy 1 - Fight the Good Fight!

LINK: 1 Timothy 1

BACKGROUND

1 Timothy - A Call to Courage

Paul wrote this letter to Timothy in order to encourage and instruct him as the pastor of the church at Ephesus. Timothy seems to have been timid and concerned about having so much responsibility at a young age (2 Timothy 1:7; 1 Timothy 4:12) because Paul is constantly giving him bold exhortations throughout both letters (1 Timothy 1:3, 18; 4:11, 14; 5:7; 6:2, 12; 2 Timothy 1:6; 2:1-7; 3:14; 4:2, 5). He saw potential in Timothy!


Timothy probably became a believer after Paul's first missionary visit to Lystra (Acts 14:5; 16:1-5). On Paul's second visit, Timothy joined Paul and Silas on their journey. This was good timing since Paul and Barnabas had just parted company over John Mark (Acts 15:36-41). Timothy's father was Greek and his mother, Eunice, was Jewish (Acts 16:1). His mother and grandmother, Lois, were both believers and imparted the Scriptures to Timothy (2 Timothy 1:5; 3:15). Paul had him circumcised as an adult because his mixed Jewish/Greek parentage could have been a problem during the missionary journeys. Timothy willingly submitted. In addition to being Paul's companion on two journeys, he was Paul's envoy to Corinth, Philippi, and Thessalonica. After Paul was released from his first Roman imprisonment, he revisited Ephesus and left Timothy there to lead the congregation (Acts 20; 1 Timothy 1:3). Paul thought of Timothy as a spiritual son (2 Timothy 1:2; Philippians 2:22). 


This letter was probably written at the same time as Titus, sometime between his first and second Roman imprisonments, maybe between A.D. 63-66. 


BACKGROUND


1 Timothy 1

Although this letter was addressed to Timothy, his true child in the faith, it was probably meant to be read to the whole Ephesian church. Paul states here that he left Timothy behind to stop the spread of false teaching that was meaningless.  This is probably not the pre-Gnosticism we talked about in Colossians but something related to Judaism since he talks about the Law being good if one uses it properly (1:8; Titus 1:14). The goal of any teaching needed to be love rather than just meaningless teaching that led to controversies (1:5-6). 


Then he points out that he is not trying to knock the Law but that the Law was there to show man his sinfulness and not for someone who had already come to faith in Christ (Galatians 3:19, 24; 5:13-26). Note he mentions "doctrine." This is a key word and is mentioned seven times in this epistle (1:10; 4:1, 6, 13, 16; 5:17; 6:1). You might want to mark it in your Bible. Sound doctrine means "healthy teaching" that is simply about the Good News of salvation in Jesus Christ, love, and living in the kingdom of God, not about the Law!


This led Paul to give a brief account of how he came to experience the Good News and grace of Jesus Christ. We know this story from our study of Acts 9:1-9.  


Then he makes the first of four "trustworthy statements" in the Pastoral Epistles (3:1; 4:9; 2 Timothy 2:11; Titus 3:8): Jesus Christ came to all sinners (even the really bad ones)! He transformed Paul from persecutor to preacher. This causes him to erupt into praise.


It was probably not easy to hold on to your faith in pagan Ephesus where they worshipped the Goddess Diana/Artemis. Paul closes with a charge to Timothy to "fight the good fight" and hold on to his faith and a good conscience. 


REFLECTION


This book has often been called a "manual for building church leadership," and I wish I had chosen it as the book we studied on this subject when I led a leadership class in 2006. It really is full of principles for leaders, but it is good for anyone who wants to impact the lives of others! While 1 Thessalonians is a great book for following up new believers, I think that 1 and 2 Timothy are about equipping believers for service! As you read, think about how you might implement the principles as you invest in others.


I also think the Pastoral Epistles are a good reminder to keep "sound doctrine" that leads to "good works" (really emphasized in Titus). Do you know what you believe? Reading through the whole Bible will really help you understand doctrine. Have you read it from cover to cover? 


I just finished reading a doctrinal TOME by John Calvin called Institutes of the Christian Religion (1775 pages!). The whole time I was reading it I thought that it would be so much more valuable to read the whole Bible instead of page after page of someone talking ABOUT the Bible! 


If you have been following in the Bible Book Club, you are over 95% through! Read on, my friend. Read on! 


APPLICATION 

If you have not done it yet, how about making a commitment to read through the Bible from cover to cover. You will learn so much! You are welcome to join the Bible Book Club anytime! 

PRAYER


Lord, would You raise up an army of leaders who will fight the good fight of faith? Use us in this process. Amen.
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