1 Timothy, when read in a spirit of personal devotion, illuminates some important principles for biblical leadership. At the very beginning, Paul opens his letter with a bold charge for Timothy: “To Timothy, my true child in the faith: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. As I urged you upon my departure for Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus so that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines, nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation rather than furthering the administration of God which is by faith” (1 Timothy 1:2-4). Paul refers to Timothy as “my true child in the faith.” He had imparted a very life to Timothy from His own experience with the Lord. That life is one in which Timothy now has access to “God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.” Paul charges Timothy to instruct people who err in the faith, who apparently do not have their minds on “furthering the administration of God…” The Greek word, οἰκονομίαν (oikonimian), here translated “administration,” more fully means the management of a household or a stewardship. From the outset, the church is to be understood as the household of God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. All doctrine should conform to the purposes of the Head of the Household! This household has a shared life, an eternal one, which Timothy is to fight to preserve: “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 a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith” (1:18-19). Paul comes back to the “good fight of faith” at the end of the letter, which, together with the charge at the beginning of the letter, emphasizes both the present contention inside and outside God’s household and the future hardship to come, only to end when the Lord returns for His Church! “Fight the good fight of faith, take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate, that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ” (6:12-14). This indicates the resolve and conviction with which Timothy was to carry out his ministry—a ministry which involved contending for sound doctrine, facilitating discipleship, and cultivating an atmosphere of care and concern for every member of God’s Household.
As sound doctrine influences everything the Church does, including discipleship and cultivating a caring community, this theme is at the forefront of this letter. At the beginning, Paul reminds Timothy of what their doctrine should accomplish in the Church by saying, “the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith” (1:5). What can be observed here is that doctrine should call God’s people to action, starting with inward transformation. As we have a sincere faith in Christ, we have our conscience cleared and our hearts purified. That is the condition from which we love others properly. In the rest of chapter 1, Paul describes people who have strayed from this goal. Instead of seeking transformation by which they may serve God’s household, they are wanting to puff themselves up. They seek to teach God’s people using God’s Law, but they are not submitting to God’s Spirit. Hence, some of these men are blasphemers, getting nowhere in their faith (1:18-20).
Chapter 2 reminds Timothy the means by which the good fight of faith is to be waged and won: prayer. This in itself is a doctrinal truth which leads the household of God to boldly proclaim Christ, who empowers them. Paul then gives some instructions specific to men and women. Men are to “pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension” (2:8). In other words, they are to be unified in their submission to the Lord. Women are also to submit to the Lord by showing that submission to men in the Church who are given the authority to instruct God’s household.
Chapter 3 details the roles of these men in leadership before giving the crux of the sound doctrine being taught: “I am writing these things to you, hoping to come to you before long; but in case I am delayed, I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth. By common confession, great is the mystery of godliness: He who was revealed in the flesh, was vindicated in the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory” (3:14-16). Again, the Church is described as God’s Household, and this household is supposed to display and defend the truth of the Head of the Household. “He who was revealed in the flesh…” Jesus came in a human body. Is He currently being revealed in our bodies? “…Was vindicated in the Spirit…” Jesus was proven to be the Son of God by the power of the Holy Spirit in his life on earth, death on the cross and victorious resurrection. Are we being proven children of God by our submission to the transforming work of the Holy Spirit? “…Seen by angels…” Jesus came from heavenly realms and returned after His resurrection to sit down at God’s right hand—the place of ultimate authority. Are we recognizing His authority in every area of our lives? “…Proclaimed among the nations…” The same God who displayed Himself through Israel to all nations has now appeared to the Church to do the same. Are we indeed proclaiming Him everywhere we go? “…Believed on in the world, taken up in glory…” Jesus came to display a different type of life—one reconciled to God in which we can display His glory again. Are we putting our hope only in this new life or our life in the world?
Chapter 4 details false teaching to come which might draw God’s household away from living these truths. In verse 11, Paul turns to Timothy with a more personal tone, reminding Timothy of the “spiritual gift” within him which was given by the laying on of hands of the church. It is with this spiritual gift that Timothy is to, in everything he does, “show [himself] an example for all who believe” (4:12-14). Through this example of the doctrine lived out, Timothy could carry out his stewardship in God’s household of making disciples.
All these doctrines which Paul is laying out for Timothy are nothing new. He is actually just reminding Timothy to follow his example of faith—a true experience of Christ which he outlines in chapter 1:12-17. He could not help but give God the glory, given God’s awesome mercy and patience. These are two aspects of discipleship. The first is to follow in the footsteps of one who is following Christ wholeheartedly. The second is to recognize God is the one doing everything through the disciple who gives all glory to God.
Chapter 2 demonstrates how God’s household should be committed to teaching and being taught. Men are given the place of teaching. Chapter 3 gets into specific roles. The instructing and servicing responsibilities of elders and deacons is predicated on the God-honoring management of their own households. Here, we can observe that discipleship should start at home. If a husband or father is not discipling his family properly, he has no business doing it with anyone else in the Church.
Caring community starts with the family and works outward. Chapter 5 goes into some detail regarding specific groups of people. All are to be regarded as family members, even if they are not blood family. With this mindset, all people in the Household of God should be caring for one another. This is a responsibility—a stewardship—which Timothy was to take hold of and to influence others with.
Chapter 6 brings the letter full circle back to doctrine, now with an application for every day life: “If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, he is conceited and understands nothing; but he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions, and constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment” (6:3-6). In other words, be content with your situation in God’s household, and you will treat others the way you want to be treated. This brings unity as we actively conform ourselves to godliness. Any other doctrine which hinders this needs to go. This clearly shows that doctrine, discipleship and caring community should conform us to Christ Himself, who is the head of the household.
Of the leadership principles of discipleship, influence, service, and stewardship—themes which indeed are all present—stewardship is emphasized the most in 1 Timothy. Paul frames the Church as the “household of God,” a family. The Greek word οἰκονομίαν can literally mean “stewardship.” In a sense, Timothy is a steward over God’s Household. He has been placed in a position of authority to preserve and promote sound doctrine in the family of God. Really, the people themselves are Timothy’s stewardship, and it is reasonable to suggest that Paul did not intend for this letter to be exhaustive in terms of Timothy’s charge. He should indeed influence by way of instruction and modeling (4:12-13; 6:17-19). This instruction and exhortation is indeed service in itself, but the goal of that instruction is “love from a pure heart” (1:5). That is an all-encompassing lifestyle, to include things like caring for widows (5:1-8). Regarding service, it could also be inferred that what Paul says of himself in 1:12-17 is also expected of Timothy to some degree. Discipleship, the practice of which is a stewardship in itself, is the second most developed leadership principle in this letter. Timothy was to follow Paul’s example of following Christ. As Timothy worked out Christ’s character in his own life (6:11), he was also charged with discipling other men who could be charged with discipling still others (3:1-13). Still, within these discipleship relationships comes the understanding of a stewardship. Elders and deacons are only qualified to serve if they can manage their own households well (3:5, 12). Timothy was charged with making disciples who would hold onto the true faith in Christ, all helping each other grow in godliness in the context of a caring community in the midst of trials. We are charged with no less in our contemporary world. This is a calling to take seriously.
The Christian story is indeed better than the Atheist story in that it begins with the mind instead of mere matter. The reason for this is that a mastermind implies purpose. If everything has happened by chance, then there is no objective reason to exist. The Christian story also fulfills the longing in each person for some form of transcendence--something beyond ourselves. We have hope.
Another reason the Christian story is better is that the atheist/naturalistic view is downright contradictory. This quote from C.S. Lewis points this out: “If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creature with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be without meaning.” In other words, our search for meaning proves that there is indeed meaning beyond ourselves. Even atheists search for meaning, except their meaning is without hope. If there is no meaning, why live—or even survive? Alex Roseburg’s The Atheist’s Guide to Reality seeks to persuade people toward atheism. However, if we are just a product of chemical processes in the world and our brain, then it stands to reason that persuasion would be impossible since we would have no free will. His writing is a hopeless endeavor based on a hopeless worldview.
If there is an eternal, omnipresent, immaterial, and all-powerful source of creation, how should that affect our lives? We should be living in fear. We should not fear death, as all people without hope do; rather, we should recognize our accountability to this being. If we were wise, we would consider different “theories” of human origins and significance.
How does the Christian view that God is good stand up to the fact that our world is filled with evil? This boils down to human choice. Humans were created a living soul in God’s image and likeness, with a mind, a body and a sharing in God’s spirit (God breathed his Spirit into Adam). Adam and Eve were clothed in the glory of God, reflecting His very being and character. They were given a mind with which they were to choose to honor their Creator, enjoying His presence and provision. They had eternal life, and a perfect knowledge of good and evil, as they had access to the mind of God Himself—through relationship with Him. However, they were tempted with the desire to have life apart from God.
The temptation for humans is the same today. When people refuse to receive life from God, evil results. Jesus Christ is our way back to perfect communion with God, and He will bring it to completion one day in a new, perfect heavens and earth (See Romans 1:18-32…https://www.rivervalleychurch.us/blog/judge-yourself-and-share-your-hope-in-christ (Links to an external site.)).
Review: Chapter 1 tells us the Gospel is the free gift of a righteous life in Christ—Receive it or suffer God’s wrath. Chapter 2:1-11 tells us that this new life should be marked by change, and we are called to judge ourselves whether or not we are participating in the Gospel. As this change occurs, we have great hope to share! (Remember Proverbs 24:11-12)
**If I am not sharing my hope in the riches of Christ’s kindness, tolerance and patience, perhaps I am not sharing in his invisible attributes, eternal power and divine nature--His grace to overcome my old life and share in the new. ** This awesome gift is for all who will believe, Jew and Gentile alike. Remember, all humans were made in God’s image and likeness, sharing in His glory, but they exchanged that glory for what was not truly life (1:21-23).
The rest of Chapter 2 addresses Jew and Gentiles in relation to the Law of God given to Israel. The verses just prior contrast those doing “evil” and those doing “good.” The evil ones are those participating in everything described in chapter 1 OR sharing the gospel message for their own gain (“selfishly ambitious” vs. 8). God is not looking for those who look religious, but for those who truly do “good.” The “good” is living the righteous life of Christ by faith (1:17). That includes abstaining from former life and sharing the hope of the new.
The Law gives knowledge of Christ to all through their conscience
vs. 12-13…Whether or not one has the Law does not affect God’s judgment for sin. Only those who do the Law are justified—whether or not they have explicitly heard it. Remember, God has made Himself known through His creation and in our own consciences.
vs. 14-16…God will judge everyone by the standard of Christ Jesus Himself who has made himself known to people through their consciences. God has written the work of the Law in all peoples’ hearts. The “work of the Law” is to show a man he has the wrong type of life. “Doing instinctively the things of the law” is an extension of recognizing God’s character through His creation. Those whose thoughts will accuse them (vs. 15) are those who continue to “suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (chapter 1). They don’t want to change the way they are living. Those whose thoughts will defend them are those who want a change of life in Christ. When the day of judgment comes, all will be held to the standard of Christ Jesus—his righteousness—even though some will have not known Him by name (the same as not having the Law). (See Eccl. 3:11-15…God’s Son has always been known, and He made us to seek Him. Heb. 13:8)
Be careful of hypocrisy
vs. 17-24…A series of rhetorical questions. Through their breaking the Law, the Jews show they truly do not have anything to boast about. God is clearly showing them the spiritual nature of the Law (knowing His will, approving the essential things, having the “embodiment of knowledge and truth”), yet they are not keeping it. In fact, if they are relying on the Law in vain because they are dishonoring God. They are not truly receiving the new life He has for them in Christ. They are also ruining their witness to the rest of the world. This is the opposite of the “good” discussed earlier in chapter 2. Also, many of them were indeed “selfishly ambitious.” They have missed the spiritual matters of the law (See Matthew 23:23).
—vs. 24 quotes Isaiah 52:5. In the context (Isaiah 52:1-5), the prophet is recounting the peoples’ afflictions in slavery and captivity. Whenever God’s people mixed with nations of the world, they would take on their idolatrous and ungodly behavior. However, after these verses in Isaiah, the LORD promises that He will redeem His people once for all “that all the ends of the earth may see the salvation of our God…” “…Thus He will sprinkle many nations, Kings will shut their mouths on account of Him; For what had not been told them they will see and what they had not heard the will understand” (vs. 6-15). In other words, all people of the earth will know what Israel knows and be able to enter God’s presence just the same (the sprinkling of blood).
Paul’s commentary on this verse is that all now have free, open access to God if they will simply leave their worldly, natural lives. To call ourselves Christians and take on worldly patterns of behavior is hypocrisy! That is the old life we must leave behind.
Cut off the useless flesh—our nature—by the power of the Spirit
25…Physical circumcision is actually uncircumcision if the Law is transgressed
26…uncircumcised who keeps the Law is counted regarded as circumcised
27…the latter will judge the former—BY THE LIFE HE LIVES—by way of contrast, not judgmental behavior
28-29…true Jews are those who, by the power of the Spirit, put their flesh to death. These are those who seek praise from God, not men.
The establishment of Christ’s new covenant is the fulfillment of all God’s covenant promises:
The question of all this is, “Do I seek my praise from God or men?” If I seek praise from God, it will be shown in my behavior. I will recognize my need for a new life, understanding the spiritual nature of all God has said. He is not asking us to perform for Him, like the Jews thought. That leads only to hypocrisy and judgment by God.
THOSE WHO SEEK PRAISE FROM GOD PUT THEIR FLESH TO DEATH.
If we are truly seeking praise from God, we will not lift up ourselves or any other person. Rather, we will be putting our own flesh to death. Like the Jews did, are we as Christians boasting in our spiritual practices? If I put too much weight on my own performance, I am probably thinking lightly of God’s kindness, tolerance, and patience (2:4).
God has called a people for Himself among Jews and Gentiles to be a light to all nations. Let’s see that we are living holy lives by the power of His Spirit.
Review: Romans 1 lays the groundwork for the rest of the letter. Paul defines the Gospel then points out why all need it.
—vs. 1-17, we came to the conclusion that the Gospel is the free gift of a righteous life in Christ. Faith in Christ, as the Romans understood it, was not enough. Paul points out that obedience is also required (vs. 5). This obedience reveals Christ’s righteousness as I submit to Him, keeping the faith (vs. 17).
—vs. 18-32 points out that those who reject this free gift are under God’s wrath—both now and in the future. These verses make it clear why this gift from God is such an awesome, undeserved offer. Among that list, even the “small” things make those who practice them “worthy of death” (vs. 32). God also has made His free gift of life and consequences for rejecting it clear. He has displayed His invisible attributes, eternal power, and divine nature in His creation—both outside us and within us through our conscience. People understand that there is a God and they know their evil, yet they speculate about what true life is and suppress the truth about God and their depravity. Submit to the Creator’s purpose or suffer His wrath. ALL ARE WITHOUT EXCUSE (vs. 20).
This is where Chapter 2 picks up…
-“Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment…” (vs. 1)
-Paul now uses the second person tone—YOU. The previous chapter is not about wicked people “out there…” The judgment of God falls on all who judge others.
vs. 3…God is asking each person to judge himself—that he is just a man (“O man”) not worthy of God’s gift—otherwise he will not escape God’s judgment!
vs. 4…After making a proper judgment of myself, I should see the surpassing value of God’s kindness and tolerance and patience. God’s kindness leads us to repentance. Repentance is turning AWAY from something TO something new. His offer is to give us HIS LIFE (righteousness) in replacement of our old, worthless one. The question is—do I think of my life as worthless? Do I see Christ as just adding value? (“I can go to heaven now that I have faith.”) He is my life…
Let’s not miss what Christ expects in the present.
vs. 5…stubbornness and unrepentant heart “stores up wrath” for judgment day.
vs. 6-8…a contrast is being drawn here, and the OT verse quotation is key in understanding it. He is not just talking about ceasing evil activity, but he is also addressing a proactive approach to “doing good.” The verse quoted is Proverbs 24:12. Reading vss. 11 and 12 for context helps us understand that it is talking about turning others from evil. There will be consequences if we don’t do this! (Compare Ezekiel 3:17-21).
—“Obey the truth” means Christ in me doing His work. Cleaning me out for service.
—As I experience the righteous life of Christ, I cannot help but share it.
—Rather than passing judgment, share the hope of eternal life!
—We are called to speak hard to truths to people (just as Paul is!) and “no longer [give] hearty approval” to those practicing evil (1:32).
If I am not wanting to share this good news of a righteous life in Christ, perhaps I myself have not received it, or I am not cooperating with Christ in me as I should.
Judge yourself and share your hope with everyone. There is no hope in a man, including myself, but we can share God’s kindness, tolerance and patience.
vs. 7—we need perseverance to do good because not all will like our message! Seeking Christ’s glory and honor and immortality is evidenced in sharing the hope of eternal life--this is the type of life we can experience even in the present time. It is Christ’s life.
vs. 8—“Those who are selfishly ambitious…” Those who share Christ for their own gain are the same as those in chapter one who “suppress the truth in unrighteousness.” In this case, they are withholding the truth about God from other people! They are also worthy of death, under God’s wrath.
God’s Word will do His work—speak it unashamedly (Just as Paul does!…chapter 1:16).
vs. 9-10…another contrast. Tribulation and distress for those who do evil. Glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good. These principles hold true for everyone—Jew and Gentile.
“Doing evil” means those who suppress the truth—either they have not received the free gift of a righteous life in Christ or they are trying to use this message to their own gain.
“Doing good” means those who judge themselves correctly in light of who God is, receive His awesome gift and share it with others.
vs. 11. God is impartial. The riches of His kindness, tolerance and patience—the free gift of a righteous life in Christ—is for all who will repent. His wrath abides on all who reject Him.
The question is, “Am I judging myself correctly?” Do I truly think my life is worthless without Christ? Do I think that He only adds value to my life, rather than completely turning away from my former life (SEE THINGS AT END OF CHAPTER 1)? What do I have my hope fixed on—eternal life or worldly gain? OUR HOPE: We will be restored to the glory and honor of God and experience His peace in the present if we persevere in the true gospel.
Matthew 7:1-5…remove log, then you can judge! This is done by the power of Christ, not my “standard of measure.”
2 Cor. 4:1-4…”manifestation of truth” is Christ’s life in me—a change of nature. Many hate this message, but we shouldn’t compromise even when called “judgmental Christian.” vs. 16-18…though we don’t see the whole weight of God’s kindness, tolerance and patience, we can experience it now…we fully will one day!
This is the blog of Tyler Shepard, the Associate Pastor for Centre Union Church in Yeagertown, PA.
I hope you are encouraged and challenged to walk more closely with Jesus Christ!