1 TIMOTHY: FIGHTING THE GOOD FIGHT
The City of Ephesus, where young Timothy ministered
(Picture credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Copyright © 2013 Jim Gerrish
INTRODUCTION TO THE PASTORAL EPISTLES
The Book of First Timothy heads the New Testament section that has come to be called the Pastoral Epistles. The other two books in this group are Second Timothy and Titus. These books bear this name because they were written to pastors and leaders of the early church, rather than to the churches themselves. Although the books were always grouped together, they were not given the name “Pastoral Epistles” until 1726. 1
It should be noted that the Pastorals are not to be seen as a manual for pastoral theology but nevertheless they were recognized very early as useful for the ordering of ecclesiastical discipline. 2 While they were written primarily to individuals, their messages seemed to be aimed also at the church in general. One of the main purposes of the Epistles was to combat a common error or heresy in the churches. This heresy is often referred to as Gnosticism, but we must realize that it was a very early form of this error. The full-blown and systemized heresy of Gnosticism did not develop until the second century under names like Valentinus and Basilides.
The Pastorals were written by Paul and in all three books he boldly claims authorship.
There was really no question concerning Pauline authorship up until modern times. Donald Guthrie, President of London Bible College says, “The unbroken tradition of the church until the nineteenth century was to regard the Pastorals as the work of Paul and therefore authentic.” 3
Nevertheless, modern critics are still prone to doubt that Paul could have written the books. Reasons often cited are the high development of church organization reflected, a too fully developed Gnosticism, developed theology with creedal statements, and a different vocabulary and style from Paul’s other epistles. It is stated that about one third of the words used in the Pastorals are not used in the other writings of Paul. 4 However, such problems are not deemed critical and they are not felt as conclusive evidence against Pauline authorship. 5
The most pressing problem of the Pastorals is the matter of when they were written. There are several things that make it almost impossible for them to fit into the Acts chronology. These are the visits to Ephesus (1 Tim. 1:3); to Troas (2 Tim. 4:13); to Miletus (2 Tim. 4:20); and to Crete (Tit. 1:5). A number of modern scholars now think Paul was released from prison in the early to mid-sixties and made these visits, as well as a mission to Spain mentioned by Clement of Rome about AD 95. Scholars feel that after this “fourth missionary journey” to these places, Paul was re-arrested and finally martyred before the suicide death of Nero in AD 68. 6
Paul obviously expected to be released from his Roman imprisonment or house arrest (cf. Phil. 2:23-24; Phm. 1:22). We know from Romans that he greatly desired to go to Spain (Rom. 15: 24, 28). Thus the writing of First Timothy and Titus would be placed between the two Roman imprisonments, or about AD 65-67. Second Timothy would be placed about AD 67 or possibly even 68. 7 It is thought that 1Timothy and Titus were written from Macedonia and 2 Timothy was of course written from the final Roman imprisonment.
Greek scholar Kenneth Wuest adds of these books: “They are of extreme importance to pastors today. Their contents revolve about three main subjects: false teaching, directions for a definite church policy, and adherence to the traditional doctrines of the church.” 8
INTRODUCTION TO 1 TIMOTHY
This first letter of the Pastorals was written to Timothy. We initially meet this young and outstanding man in Acts 16:1, as Paul made his second visit to Lystra. Luke, the writer of Acts, mentions that his mother was a Jewess and a believer, while his father was a Greek. Apparently, it was partly because of this that Paul circumcised him. Soon he was included in Paul’s mission team. It is noteworthy that the brothers in Lystra and Iconium gave a very good report of young Timothy (Acts 16:2). We learn in 2 Timothy 1:5, that he came from a great faith heritage. It reached back to his grandmother Lois and then to his mother Eunice. In Timothy we see the immense importance of a believing home, and no doubt the faithful prayers of both the mother and the grandmother.
Young Timothy became very important to Paul. Although he was quite young, Paul had sent him to the large and influential church at Ephesus. This city was the largest one in the Roman province of Asia Minor. It was blessed with a natural harbor and was a great commercial center. 1
Timothy’s task was to straighten out some serious problems and to stem the tide of heretical teaching that had sprung up there. The heresy at Ephesus was apparently an early form of Gnosticism, with some strong Jewish legalistic influence attached to it. This was a big job for young Timothy and we gather from Paul’s message that Timothy was a bit timid and needed some encouragement from the great apostle. In addition to this main work, Timothy was to correct and establish several things regarding proper church organization and order.
The rise of heresy at Ephesus was certainly no surprise to Paul. On his last visit to the area he, in fact, warned the elders that heresy was on the way. He said to them in Acts 20:29-31, “I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears.”
There has been much discussion among scholars as to the dating of this book. We know from Romans 15:24, 28 that Paul greatly desired to carry out a mission to Spain. That would have included the whole Iberian Peninsula of today. Several ancient sources verify that Paul actually carried out this mission. In his letter to the Corinthians (about AD 95) Clement of Rome mentions that Paul reached the extreme limit of the west. Also, the Muratori Fragment (AD 170) tells us that after leaving Rome Paul carried out a missionary trip that included Spain. Even the church historian, Eusebius, wrote in the fourth century that Paul made such a trip. 2 Paul had expressed great confidence that his Roman house arrest would soon end (Phil. 1:25; 2:23-24; Phm. 22). It is interesting that in 3:14 he indicates that he would come to Timothy soon, and that might well indicate he was no longer confined to house arrest. 3
If Paul did carry out what would have been a fourth missionary journey, then many difficult passages in his letters would be cleared up. If he did so, it would mean that the letter of First Timothy would have been written by Paul from Macedonia or perhaps from some other point in his journey around AD 65 or 66. 4
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope, to Timothy my true son in the faith: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. 1 Timothy 1:1-2
Paul was very close to young Timothy and it even seems unnecessary for him to be reminded of Paul’s apostolic authority. No doubt, although Paul was writing to Timothy, he was also speaking in a way as to be heard and respected by the whole church. 1
The great apostle calls Timothy his “true son in the faith.” Many think that Paul was the means of Timothy’s conversion, and thus he was Paul’s spiritual child. It is quite certain that Timothy became a very loyal son to Paul, and stuck with him for much of his remaining ministry. We see Timothy being used by Paul on several occasions: He was Paul’s special messenger to Corinth when trouble erupted (1 Cor. 4:17; 16:10); he was dispatched to Thessalonica to check on things there; and when Paul was planning to send him to the church at Philippi (Phil. 2:20) he wrote, “I have no one else like him, who takes a genuine interest in your welfare.” 2
It is noted here that Paul prays for grace, mercy and peace upon Timothy. It has been pointed out by several scholars that the letters to Timothy are the only letters of Paul where the word “mercy” is included in the initial salutation. 3 Perhaps Paul thought Timothy really needed mercy in his ministry, since he was very young, somewhat timid and beset by some serious stomach problems (1 Tim. 5:23).
Paul’s salutation includes the other common words of grace and peace. The Scottish Greek scholar and prolific commentator William Barclay says of grace: “In classical Greek, the word means outward grace or favor, beauty, attractiveness, sweetness…The English word charm comes near to expressing its meaning…In the New Testament, there is always the idea of sheer generosity. Grace is something unearned and undeserved.” 4
The word peace is also an important and much used word in the New Testament. The twentieth century Greek scholar Kenneth Wuest says of it: “‘peace,’ eirene, means literally, ‘that which has been bound together again after having been separated.’…when things become disjointed, separated, there is no feeling of tranquility, comfort, well-being.” 5 We note that grace and mercy must precede peace in God’s order of things.
PAUL’S CONCERN ABOUT FALSE TEACHERS
As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. These promote controversies rather than God’s work—which is by faith. 1 Timothy 1:3-4
We note here that Paul had traveled to Macedonia and requested that Timothy remain at Ephesus. A number of scholars feel that Paul actually visited Ephesus. It would seem quite odd if he did so, since he had revealed to the leaders of Ephesus in Acts 20:38, that they would never see his face again. If Paul returned there it would indicate on his part a pretty serious blunder in the prophetic realm. Guthrie says of this, “The reference to Ephesus need not imply that Paul had himself recently been there.” 6
In this verse we note the impossible chronology involved in placing 1Timothy into the Acts historical account of Paul’s third mission trip. In Acts 20:1 we see Paul traveling from Ephesus to Macedonia. However, Timothy was not at Ephesus at the time. In fact, Paul had actually sent Timothy and Erastus on ahead of him to Macedonia (Acts 19:22).
Timothy’s charge from Paul was that he should command certain people not to teach false doctrine any longer. This was no small task because these men were the very “savage wolves” that Paul had prophesied would come in Acts 20. We can understand why Timothy was a little timid with this assignment. Yet, Paul insists that this young worker would “command” (parageilēs) them to cease teaching such things. The word he uses here is a military term, referring to an order from one’s commanding officer. It has to do with giving “strict orders.” 7 The early church leader and martyr, Ignatius of Antioch (AD 50- c. 117) rephrases Paul’s command saying, “You must not be panic-stricken by those who have an air of credibility but who teach heresy.” 8
Paul was quite concerned and alarmed by the heresy in Ephesus. Philip Towner, dean of the Nida Institute for Biblical Scholarship, comments on Paul’s concern. He says, “As Paul saw it, heresy posed a dual threat. It endangered the church and individuals who would be drawn into error, perhaps beyond the reach of salvation. It threatened the church’s evangelistic mission in the world, by contaminating the gospel.” 9
The command not to teach false doctrines in the Greek is the word heterodidaskaleo. It has the meaning of not teaching things that are heteros, or things which are different, new, strange, false or erroneous from that which the apostles were teaching. 10 We know from Galatians 1:8 that Paul would look upon such teachers as accursed.
Paul instructed Timothy to “command certain men… nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies.” He may be referring to Jewish myths and Jewish genealogies here but in the first century, mythology abounded. For instance, I am thinking of the non-cannonical work of Clement of Rome, called the First Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians. Clement was probably known to Paul and he was a respected leader. However, in his epistle he treats as factual the myth of the Phoenix Bird. This imaginary bird from Greek mythology would live for five hundred years and would cyclically regenerate itself. Unfortunately, Clement used this bird to illustrate our own resurrection in Christ.11
It is urgent that we pause here and deal with some of the mythology affecting our modern and postmodern churches. Towner says, “A close look at our situation will uncover many points of contact with the situation Timothy was to face in Ephesus.” 12
In the last half century or so, Christianity in the US has been dramatically affected by the spurious doctrine of the pre-tribulation rapture of the church. The purveyors have made themselves millions of dollars promoting this heresy in book and in film. This myth began in Scotland around 1830. It was spread worldwide by the Schofield Bible and, especially since the mid-twentieth century, it has grown to become probably the most popular and revered view of eschatology in the US. Unfortunately, it was unknown to early Christendom and not taught in the Bible. This tragic view of the end time is grossly anti-Semitic and teaches that Christians and Jews must be separated in the last day, despite what Ephesians 3:6 clearly tells us. It has essentially warped and demolished our biblical understanding of the last days.
Another myth deeply affecting the church in the US is the myth of Darwinian Evolution. Since this myth is the foundation for the humanistic lifestyle of millions in the west, it is strongly and almost fanatically defended by scientists, philosophers, educators and the like.
The sad truth is that many Christians are already basing some of their moral decisions on Darwinian ethics rather than on the Bible. If we came from slime as Darwinism proposes, some seem to have concluded that slimy living is OK. How can we become quasi-Darwinists and accept even a part of this godless worldview? The great molecular biologist Michael Denton makes this judgment on the Darwinian system. He claims that Darwin’s evolutionary system is beginning to look much more like myth than true science. He says, “One might have expected that a theory of such cardinal importance, a theory that literally changed the world, would have been something more than metaphysics… Ultimately the Darwinian theory of evolution is no more nor less than the great cosmogenic myth of the twentieth century.” 13
There are many other myths that are sapping the life from the modern church but let us consider only one more. We have essentially accepted the postmodern philosophical myth that there is no universal standard of truth. This whole idea is logically self-defeating, but people don’t seem to pay much attention to logic anymore. The twentieth-century founders of post-modernistic thought are generally felt to be Michael Foucault, Jacques Derrida, Jean-François Lyotard and Richard Rorty. These philosophers generally looked at truth as relative and culturally conditioned. They felt that one person’s truth was as good as another person’s and that “truth” could change from day to day.
The astounding success of their thinking was reflected in a 1992 Christianity Today article. This article reported on a Barna Research Group survey which asked the question, “Is there absolute truth?” Barna’s answer showed that an amazing 66 percent of American adults responded “No” to that important question. The real shocker was that in the 18-25 age group 72 percent did not believe in any absolute standard of truth. 14
How has this myth affected us? Today we have multitudes of young people even in the church who feel that truth is relative. Some say that “their truth” is that they can take drugs, sleep around, maintain a homosexual lifestyle and still be good Christians. This was what Paul greatly feared when heresy was mixed with Christianity. We need to ask ourselves a very important question: “Will ‘my truth’ stand the test?” How will it fare on the day that God judges the hearts of all people?
THE GOAL OF PAUL’S COMMAND
The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 1 Timothy 1:5
Paul’s military command (paraggelias) seen here is a noun with the same root as we saw earlier in verse 3. 15 Paul’s goal is to bring about pure love, a good conscience and sincere faith in the Ephesians, rather than prideful arguments, strife, divisions and hypocrisy.
He knew that false teaching would spread like gangrene and make for an unhealthy body (2 Tim. 2:17). We see here that the goal of everything in the Christian life is real love. It must come from a pure heart and a good conscience.
The Greek word used here for conscience is syneidesis. It literally means a “joint knowledge.” In time it came to be used as that part of us that distinguishes right from wrong. Later (4:2) we will see how the heretics had their consciences seared with a hot iron. The human conscience is a delicate gift from God. It is much like a compass that always points north. However, we all know how even the best compass can be thrown off by other strong magnetic interference.
We should also note the words “sincere faith.” Some other translations have this as “faith unfeigned” (ASV, KJV). The Greek word here is anupokritos, indicating one who is not hypocritical in faith. It is from this Greek root that we get our word “hypocrite.” 16
It is always a danger with the high-sounding wisdom of this world to be thrown off course in our spiritual life. This is especially a danger in places like seminaries and universities. We must always guard our hearts in such surroundings. The evangelist John Wesley once wrote to a student, “Beware that you are not swallowed up in books. An ounce of love to God is worth a pound of transient knowledge. What is the real value of a thing, but the price it will bear in eternity? Let no study swallow up or entrench upon the hours of private prayer.” 17 Barclay says, “Paul’s whole purpose is to produce love. To think in love will always save us from certain things. It will save us from arrogant thinking.” 18
“Some have wandered away from these and turned to meaningless talk. They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm” (1:6-7). There are a couple of vivid and important Greek words in this passage. The first is astocheo, which has to do with missing the mark. The second is ektrepo, which means turning off course. The result of missing the mark and turning off course is to end up in meaningless, irrelevant talk or false teaching. 19
The inexhaustible commentator James Burton Coffman says of this situation: “It is like useless reasoning, argumentation that gets nowhere, dry as dust disputation, wrangling about fanciful tales anent pedigrees! It has finally landed them in the no-man’s-land of ceremonial subtleties, in the dreary marsh of ridiculous hairsplitting. And the owner of that quagmire is Satan, who heads the welcoming committee.” 20
So far we have defined this encroaching heresy as an early form of Gnosticism and we see here that it had several elements of Judaism involved with it. These false teachers actually thought of themselves as great teachers of the law (nomodidaskaloi). Here we have proof that these men were mixing some Jewish elements in with their Gnosticism.
Perhaps it would be good for us to understand a little about the Gnosticism that was underlying this heresy. Following Greek ideas, the Gnostics believed that the spiritual realm alone was good and the fleshly realm was evil. They did not believe the world was created by a good god but by an aeon or emanation who had come to be removed from god and who had also become ignorant and even hostile toward god. In fact, their system was built on an elaborate mythology of these aeons and emanations. The whole Gnostic system appealed to the intellect and was highly speculative and snobbish. 21 All this had little to do with humble faith and sincere love for one another that Paul was seeking.
While Gnosticism could result in asceticism and strict abstinence, it could also end up with one paying little attention to the flesh, since it was really of no importance. The result could easily be the very opposite of asceticism and cause one to live in immorality. 22 With such a belief we can see how Gnosticism would deny the incarnation of Jesus, since God could not concern himself with the flesh. The doctrine would also deny the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. It was essentially a gross denial of the whole gospel.
THE REAL PURPOSE OF THE LAW
We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. 1 Timothy 1:8
Here Paul says something that might be shocking to a number of Christians. He says that the law is good. It seems that many Christians feel that the law has passed away and that
they no longer have anything to do with it. Some may get this idea from Romans 10:4 where the NIV plainly says, “Christ is the end of the law…” Other translations such as the NAS have it stated properly, “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” Christ is not the end of the law, but he is the end of the law for righteousness. We no doubt remember how Jesus said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them” (Matt. 5:17). Jesus came to write the law on our hearts so we could live it (Jer. 31:33).
Not only is the law called “good.” The Bible also says in Psalm 19:7, “The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul….” When we stop and think about it, we see that the law still has many purposes. Much like the Holy Spirit, the law convicts of sin. In this sense the law is holy, righteous and spiritual (Rom. 7:12 &14). It would be difficult for us to define sin were it not for the law (Rom. 7:7). Much revival preaching in the past thus focused strongly on the law and its commands. We are sorely missing this kind of message today. The law pointed out sin and in that respect it actually made sin increase, so that grace could also increase (Rom. 5:20). The law has blessed us in that it has regulated society for thousands of years. As Guthrie says, “The Decalogue still retains its value as an external instrument of justice.” 23 Of course, we realize today that our society is very busy trying to rid itself of every reference to the law of God.
Perhaps the most important thing about the law is that it was given to prove to humanity that people could not keep its requirements. We remember that the law is perfect and we are imperfect. The law was the schoolmaster that pointed us to Christ. We know from Galatians 3:10 that those who still try to live by the law are under a curse. They are under a curse because they cannot perfectly fulfill the law. The law proved conclusively that we needed a Savior. Jesus kept the law perfectly and he, through his Holy Spirit, can now keep and fulfill the law in us by writing its many requirements on our hearts and giving us power to live by them. Barclay says about this: “The driving force for Christians comes from the fact that they know that sin is not only breaking God’s law but also breaking his heart. It is not the law of God but the love of God which urges us on.” 24
So, we see that there is a proper and improper use of the law. The heretics were using it improperly by urging people to fulfill its many requirements and thus bringing them into deep spiritual bondage.
“We also know that law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious; for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers…,” (1:9). Perhaps Antiphanes, the Greek, had it pretty well right when he said: “He who does no wrong needs no law.” 25 As Christians we are now declared “righteous” in Christ. In a real sense we do not live under the law but we live above the law through the power of his Holy Spirit in us. As Martin Luther once said: “Grace makes the law lovable to us…and the law is no longer against us but one with us.” 26
However, the law of God is terrifying to the sinner. It falls like a bolt of lightning from heaven upon his head and heart. It is designed specifically for lawbreakers, rebels and such, and God knows we have a plentiful crop of these in our postmodern world. The word for lawbreakers is anomos, meaning lawless or wicked. The word for rebels is anupotaktos or unruly. 27
Paul goes on with other colorful descriptions of this crowd. He says they are also ungodly, sinful and unholy. Ungodly (asebes) is described by the Greek scholar Vincent as “destitute of reverential awe towards God, impious.” 28 The sinful (hamartoloi) speaks of the persons without moral standards. The unholy or impious (anasioi) describes the persons who violate the decencies of life, while the irreligious (bebeloi) describes those who are profane and in opposition to all that is sacred. 29
Next in Paul’s long list of abusers are those who smite or perhaps even kill their parents. In the Greek, these are (patraloai and metraloai). Barclay mentions that under Roman law such a person could be put to death. 30 Of course, the same thing was true under Old Testament law (Exo. 21:15). Here Paul also mentions murderers (androphonoi)
In the past, some of our Romantic thinkers, like Rousseau, filled our heads with false ideas about the “noble savage,” 31 who supposedly thrived in an idealistic lifestyle before being corrupted with western and especially Christian teaching. The truth is that pagan life was a hellish existence, always full of horror, sadness and weariness. The poet Matthew Arnold tries to describe that existence for us:
On that hard Pagan world disgust
And secret loathing fell;
Deep weariness and sated lust
Made human life a hell…. 32
Christianity burst into the corrupted and polluted pagan world like a breath of fresh air. For the first time in their lives, pagan people heard the message of hope, of love and of real life, even life that would last forever in Jesus. We really can’t imagine what a blessing and a joy it was for ancient pagans to hear the glorious gospel for the very first time.
Paul continues on with his rogue’s list, saying that the law was also “…for adulterers and perverts, for slave traders and liars and perjurers— and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me” (1:10-11). One great problem with sin is that it never works. Paul mentions adultery and perversion here. People try their best to make these things work but they always result in wreckage to the personal lives involved and to the immediate society around them. Adultery is such a serious sin since it messes with the sacred bond of marriage and even with the generations that are yet to be born. All this confusion is brought about for a fleeting moment of physical pleasure. How tragic that people today think they have a much better idea for life and marriage than the God who invented it all in the first place.
It is difficult for us to imagine the gross immorality that took place in the ancient world. Barclay describes the Temple of Aphrodite, the goddess of love, which was situated at Corinth. The temple had 1,000 priestesses who were sacred prostitutes. He describes how in the evening they came down into the city streets and plied their trade. He remarks, “It has often been said, and said truly, that chastity was the one completely new virtue which Christianity brought into this world.” 33
We should take particular note of the word pervert (arsenokoites). It seems to be a combination of the word male (arsen) and either bed (koite) or to lie (keimai). It no doubt refers back to Leviticus and the prohibition of one man lying with another as with a woman. 34 This word is translated by others as homosexuals or even sodomites. This act was forbidden by the Law of Moses, and punishable with death (Lev. 20:13). However, our recent “politically correct” society has lifted the homosexual to a place of high respect and honor. States and nations are now racing to pass same-sex marriage laws to honor homosexuality. Like adultery and fornication, this transgression strikes at the very heart of the human race. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that if everyone became homosexual, the human race would quickly cease to exist. There is much evidence that homosexual activity is unhealthy. “A widely cited 1978 study by Alan P. Bell and Martin S. Wineburg reported that 43 percent of homosexuals had more than five hundred sex partners during their lifetime.” 35
Paul also mentions slave traders, liars and perjurers. Really, who would want to live in a world filled with all these types of people? Slave trading was a horrible practice that stole the lives of people and often consigned them to terrible drudgery for the remainder of their existence. It heartlessly snatched away young children from their parents. We may think this occupation is no longer around but even in the US we are now plagued with slave traders who steal young girls and consign them to a life of forced prostitution. The crime of stealing the lives of others is denounced in Exodus 21:16 and Deuteronomy 24:7. Of course, we still have plenty of liars and perjurers around as well. This will no doubt grow exponentially now that truth has become a relative thing for so many.
The Apostle here mentions sound doctrine or healthful teaching (hugiainein). Interestingly, this is the Greek word from which we get our word “hygiene.” 36 This has to do with healthy living. Barclay says, “Christianity if it is real, is health-giving; it is the moral antiseptic which alone can cleanse life.” 37 The researcher Nancy Pearcey reports on studies of the National Institute for Healthcare Research. This organization has published scores of studies all confirming that Christianity correlates with better mental health. Pearcey relates that “people who attend church regularly are happier, healthier, and even live longer.” 38 Other recent studies have documented the natural help that comes from Christianity. These studies have shown that committed Christians are healthier and happier than others. …that they recover from surgery more quickly than non-believers. They are less likely to abuse drink, use drugs or commit suicide. 39 We have to agree with Paul that ours is truly a healthy (and glorious) gospel!
AMAZING GRACE POURED OUT ON PAUL
I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service. 1 Timothy 1:12
The story of Paul’s conversion was no doubt one of the most amazing turnarounds in the long saga of God’s relationship with humanity. The Englishman John Stott says of this event: “It remains a standing source of hope to otherwise hopeless cases.” 40
We note that Paul did not claim any credit for this radical change in his life. He knew that it was solely the mercy and move of God. The great St. Augustine once remarked that we would never have been able to seek God unless God had already found us. 41 In theology this is known as the prevenient grace of God. In other words, we could not search for God until God himself had instigated the search.
“Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief” (1:13). He was a persecutor of the church and calls himself such, not making any excuses for his actions (cf. Acts 8:3; 9:1 and Acts 22:19).
He also uses the term hubristēs in describing himself as a violent man. This word, from which we get “hubris” today, was a mixture of arrogance and insolence. The nineteenth century American theologian, Albert Barnes, renders this word as “despiteful.” He says, “It does not mean merely doing injury, but refers rather to the manner or spirit in which its done.” 42
But in the scripture God says, “…I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion” (Rom. 9:15) God chose to have mercy on Paul and he was never able to forget that fact. The slave trader John Newton (1725–1807), because of God’s great grace and mercy to him, ended up being a pastor and the author of one of the favorite hymns of Christianity, Amazing Grace. Newton also composed his own epitaph which read:
John Newton, Clerk, once an infidel and Libertine, a Servant of Slaves in Africa, was, by the Mercy of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ, Preserved, Restored, Pardoned, and Appointed to Preach the Faith he had so long laboured to destroy. 43
Once Paul was converted he seems to have channeled all the energy, which once fueled his hatred, into serving the Lord Jesus and his church. The famous British Baptist preacher, Charles Spurgeon (1834 –1892) once said: “Brother, there is no reason why, if you have gone very far in sin, you should not go equally far in usefulness.” 44
“The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus”(1:14). Adam Clarke (1760 or 1762–1832) the British Methodist theologian and commentator notes how the Greek word used here for “abundantly” is huperleonase, and should be translated “superabounded.” He says that it speaks of an extraordinary mercy. 45 God’s mercy was truly poured out on Paul.
We see here that faith and love were also poured out on him. Sometimes we get the idea that we must “work up” both our faith and love. The truth is that God gives these things to us as part of the salvation package (Eph. 2:8; Rom. 5:5).
JESUS CAME TO SAVE SINNERS
Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners— of whom I am the worst. 1 Timothy 1:15
Clarke says of this passage, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—This is one of the most glorious truths in the book of God; the most important that ever reached the human ear, or can be entertained by the heart of man.” 46
This saying, as well as the one later in verse 17, all seem to be part of a collection of catechetical teachings, maxims, portions of early hymns or possibly Christian prophetical utterances that were apparently circulating in the early church. 47 Whatever the source Paul gives his approval and sanction to the saying.
“But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life” (1:16). Here we see that the Lord’s patience or longsuffering (makrothumia) with Paul is to serve as a pattern for those who would become believers in the future. It has been said that a saint is “someone in whom Christ lives again” and “someone who makes it easier to believe in God.” 48
In light of God’s great and patient work with him Paul breaks out into a grand doxology that must rank as one of the finest and most impressive in the New Testament. He says, “Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen” (1:17). God is King of the ages (aiōnōn) and is immortal. God is invisible and no one has ever seen him (Jn. 1:18; 1 Jn. 4:12). Clarke says he is “One who fills all things, works everywhere, and yet is invisible to angels and men; the perfect reverse of false gods and idols, who are confined to one spot, work nowhere, and, being stocks and stones, are seen by everybody.” 49
PAUL’S CHARGE TO TIMOTHY
Timothy, my son, I give you this instruction in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by following them you may fight the good fight, 1 Timothy 1:18
This might be the place to mention that Timothy was a very important bridge between Jew and Gentile. The earliest church was almost one hundred percent Jewish. There was not a Gentile pastor in Jerusalem for almost a century after Pentecost. 50 Paul, Barnabas, John Mark and many others were Jewish. In Colossians 4:10-11 we see that the Jewish element was declining. Paul bemoans the fact that he only had with him John Mark and Jesus Justus who were Jewish. So we see the beautiful picture of how the gospel was handed to the Gentile church by the Jews. We also see how the Jewish element declined and finally almost disappeared entirely. Timothy was the last bridge between the two. He was half Jewish, with a devout Jewish mother and grandmother and a Greek Gentile father. He was very important to the soon to be martyred Paul, as he was placing the gospel firmly into the hands of an almost totally Gentile church.
Wuest remarks about the words “Timothy, my son.” The Greek word he uses is teknon, a most tender expression. He remarks how it was regularly used as a term of endearment in the Greek world. 51 Yet, attached to this tender and endearing expression is once more the word parangelia, (cf. vs. 3 & 5) or military command. Paul is once more giving military orders to his young soldier Timothy. At the end of the verse, Paul instructs Timothy to “fight the good fight.” We cannot miss the fact that there was a great battle going on for the souls of humankind. Perhaps Paul felt much like the Roman philosopher and statesman Seneca (4 BC – AD 65) who said, “For me to live, my dear Lucilius, is to become a soldier.” 52
Paul mentions in this verse that certain prophecies were given over Timothy. There were quite a number of prophets in the early church (cf. Acts 11:27; 13:1, 15:32; 21:8-9). Barnabas, Paul’s companion on the first trip into Timothy’s city, was likely a prophet (Acts 13:1). Coffman feels that it was possibly Barnabas who prophesied over Timothy. 53
We can only guess as to what these prophecies were, but from Paul’s remarks it is conceivable that they were involved somehow with spiritual warfare. Perhaps this is why Paul has been speaking to him in military terms and encouraging him to fight the
Today, after nearly a two thousand year absence, prophecy is returning to the church. It is a very needful gift and could save the church from many false people and false decisions. However, with the return of prophecy we have the gift often misused and abused. The web commentator David Guzik remarks about this misuse saying:
Not long after ‘prophecy du jour’ became the primary source of direction, a trail of devastated believers began to line up outside our pastoral counseling offices…After a steady diet of the prophetic, some people were rapidly becoming biblically illiterate, choosing a “dial-a-prophet” style of Christian living rather than studying God’s Word. Many were left to continually live from one prophetic “fix” to the next, their hope always in danger of failing because God’s voice was so specific in pronouncement, yet so elusive in fulfillment. 54
We must ever be on our guard concerning false prophecy and false prophets. In the last days the False Prophet himself will work mighty miracles and many will run after him (Rev. 19:20). However, this should not keep us from appreciating real prophecy, the kind that was spoken over young Timothy.
Paul adds:“…holding on to faith and a good conscience. Some have rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith” (1:19). Along with faith, young Timothy is to hold on to a good conscience. The Greek word for good is kalos. It not only means that something is good and strong but it also implies that something is attractive and lovely. 55 As we have said previously, the conscience is like a compass that gives us direction and guards us against evil. The great Reformer John Calvin once said, “A bad conscience is the mother of all heresies.” 56 Those who disregard conscience are likely headed for shipwreck. Paul was an expert on shipwrecks for he had suffered them so far at least three times (2 Cor. 11:25).
Basil the Great (c 329 – 379) spoke of making spiritual shipwreck. He said, “We see, as it were, whole churches, crews and all, dashed and shattered upon the sunken reefs of deceitful teaching, while others of the enemies of the Spirit of salvation have seized the helm and made shipwreck of the faith.” 57
“Among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme” (1:20). This Hymenaeus is likely the same one mentioned in 2 Timothy 2:17-18, who had taught that the resurrection was already past. We are not able to connect this Alexander with another person, since this was a common name. 58
Paul’s expression “handed over to Satan” has raised a lot of questions among commentators. Several scholars feel this certainly is a reference to excommunication from the church. However, there seems to be something more involved. Barclay says: “The idea is that the church should pray for some physical punishment to fall on that man so that by physical pain he might be brought to his senses…” 59 We see Paul saying a similar thing in 1 Corinthians 5:5 concerning a sexually deviant person.
We can be certain that the punishment was never intended to be permanent but was designed to restore such a one to the faith and to the community. Likely after Satan beat up on them for a season they were very happy to be reconciled to the church.
I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— 1 Timothy 2:1
This whole chapter seems to be made up of directions about how public worship should be conducted. The thing that stands out immediately is the vast outreach of the prayers during this worship. No doubt we are all familiar with the little rhyme that made up a very selfish prayer for some poor soul. It went like this:
God bless me and my wife,
My son John and his wife,
Us four and no more.
We will not find such an idea of prayer in this chapter. Public prayer was a very important part of worship in the early church. The expression “first of all” indicates just how important it was. These words are not related to primacy of time but primacy of importance. 1 In this verse Paul uses four descriptive words: requests, prayers, intercessions and thanksgivings. Scholars have worked hard to identify these aspects of prayer but their efforts have not been too fruitful. Even the great reformer Calvin once said that he didn’t completely understand the difference between them.2
Requests or petitions, is the Greek word deeseis. It seems to be closely related to profound personal needs. Prayers (proseuche) is rather self-explanatory. The next word (enteruxis) is related to the idea of coming before a king and making petition to him.3 The last word, eucharistia is more connected to simple thanksgiving.
Prayers were to be made for everyone. Jesus once said that his house would be called a house of prayer for all nations (Mk.11:17). In Paul’s instruction here we see that the church is to reach out to all the world, the high and the low, the rich and the poor.
Paul requests that prayers be made “for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness” (2:2). This may sound a little strange to us in the western world. We are prone to criticize our leaders but we are not especially prone to pray for them. We need to make some corrections here. Paul had already laid down clear instructions in Romans 13 about how we should look upon earthly rulers (cf. 1 Pet. 2:17). He instructed us that these authorities are established by God (Rom. 13:1). We should thus submit to them and not rebel against them (13:2). They are in fact, God’s servants for good. We no doubt remember how the Kings Nebuchadnezzar and Cyrus were actually called God’s servants or his anointed ones (cf. Jer. 25:9; Isa. 45:1).
The Bible says, “The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases” (Prov. 21:1). He is God’s messenger to provide protection and provision for the people. We are well aware how in recent times the collapse of several central governments has led to terrorist groups actually taking over whole countries, and all the suffering and death that have resulted. The national ruler is there for our benefit so we should not fail to pray for him.
In the Old Testament we see this principle in operation when Jeremiah requested that the exiles from Judah pray for Babylon’s peace and prosperity. When Cyrus ordered the rebuilding of the temple he ordered the people to pray for his family’s wellbeing. Early believers were careful to pray for Rome. We see in the New Testament that the peaceful conditions brought about by the pax romana, or Roman peace, were very important to the rapid spread of the gospel. 4
Augustine in comparing the City of God to the Roman Empire or Babylon, as he called it, once said, “For as long as the two cities are mingled together, we can make use of the peace of Babylon. Faith can assure our exodus from Babylon, but out pilgrim status, for the time being, makes us neighbors.” 5
So when we pray earnestly for leaders and governments it results in our living more peaceful lives. It seems that there is a progression here. Christians not only confess and profess, but they express their faith in their daily lives. 6 Christian lives are lived in godliness and holiness. The word godliness (eusebeia) speaks of our religious devotion while holiness (semnotes) speaks of our Christian dignity and demeanor. It includes the seriousness of our purpose. 7 It is rather amazing when we consider that evil Nero was at the time ruler of the Roman Empire. Paul was requesting prayer for him although it was Nero who would shortly take Paul’s head.
“This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (2:3-4). It is good to pray for all people because God wishes all people to be saved (2 Pet. 3:9; 1 Tim. 2:4; Rom. 5:18). However, this is in no way a statement that all people will eventually be saved. It is not even a statement that all “Christians” will be saved (Matt. 22:14). Salvation means our coming to a “full knowledge” of the truth. There is a “cultural Christianity” throughout most of the world today that has a knowledge of the truth in some respects but not a full knowledge (epignosis). This word is defined as a “precise and experiential knowledge of the truth.” 8
In this passage we have one of the great scriptures in the Bible that stresses the universality of the gospel. It has even been called “the charter of missionary work.” 9
But we must be clear on this great promise. The gospel must be presented to all people but all people will not necessarily believe unto a saving knowledge. There has always been a hot discussion in the church whether or not all people can be saved or only those who are called “the elect.” To ask it another way, are some people predestined to salvation or chosen before the foundation of the world as Ephesians 1:4 indicates? Or, does humankind possess a free will to decide or not to decide on salvation? We can surely answer “yes” to both these questions. Here is just another case where our finite minds cannot grasp the vastness of God’s plan. Stott says here that we must, “…affirm both parts of the antinomy as true, while humbly confessing that at present our little minds are unable to resolve it.” 10
For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 1 Timothy 2:5
This is a passage that thoroughly irritates our postmodern, pluralistic, and “politically correct” world. The firmly held and oft repeated philosophy of this present evil age is that one person’s truth is just as good as another’s truth. Thus the pagan’s truth is just as true as the Christian’s truth. If there is a sin in this postmodern age it is the sin of questioning some other person’s “truth.” Thus all religions are equally valid. It is a terrible offense in this age to think that our religion is better than the religion of others, or that our religion is in any way exclusive, and the only one that is true. 11
The world is thus aghast at Paul’s statement here, that Jesus is the only mediator between God and man. Of course, the world is also aghast at some other of Jesus’ statements like the one found in John 14:6, where he says, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” It is at just this point that the postmodern sacred concept of “tolerance” breaks down. Charles Colson quips here: “Tolerance has become so important that no exception is tolerated.” 12 Quite simply, the postmodern philosophies will never in this age tolerate real Christianity.
We realize that with the words “one Mediator,” Paul was actually dealing the final blow to the Gnostic heresy that was invading Ephesus. The Gnostics were insistent that there were many mediators, many aeons or angelic beings between man and God, as we
The word “mediator (mesites) used here is an important word (cf. Heb. 8:6; 9:15; 12:24). Most of us know that we need a mediator to stand between us and God. Long ago Job cried out: “If only there were someone to arbitrate between us, to lay his hand upon us both, someone to remove God’s rod from me, so that his terror would frighten me no more” (Job 9:33-34).
Over the centuries people have looked to angels, to priests, to saints (even dead ones), to Mary, and to preachers or teachers to be their mediators. Unfortunately, none of these will really do. To be a mediator with God in the truest sense one needs to share both the human and divine natures. The church father, Theodore of Mopsuestia (ca. 350 – 428) says: “The fact that Jesus shares a common humanity with us is the whole key to salvation.” 13 Of course, the fact that Jesus shares the divine nature as well as the human, supremely qualifies him to be our Mediator. Hebrews 7:25 assures us that Jesus is presently in heaven and is there mediating or interceding for us with the Father.
It was Jesus, our Mediator, “who gave himself as a ransom for all men— the testimony given in its proper time.” (2:6). In God’s great and mysterious order of things the Mediator is also our Great High Priest and he himself is even our offering. Paul calls it a ransom because in some unknown way Jesus paid the price, or the offering, for our deliverance from sin. The Greek word used here is antilytron. The anti added to lytron emphasizes that it is a substitutionary ransom. Jesus paid the price that we could not pay (1 Cor. 6:20; 1Pet. 1:18-19). 14 He paid the price by substituting his own life.
The idea of a testimony in due time may well be a reflection on the critical area of time when the gospel was given. It was the close of one period in history and the beginning of another. No doubt, also reflected here were some of the conditions in the first century Roman world. At last, the known world was connected by Roman roads and by relatively safe sea lanes. There was the common language of Koinē Greek and the blessings of the Roman peace over the whole area (pax romana).
There is another thing that certainly figures in here. People had become desperate in their need of salvation and sorely needed such a testimony. They were sick and tired of useless pagan worship and were really hopeless. At this precise point the good news came that the God of heaven had sent his Son to ransom and to save them.
Barclay tells the story of a man who lost his son in World War II. He had lived a careless and godless life but he was shocked into reality with his son’s death. His life was changed because of it. “One day, he was standing in front of the local war memorial, looking at his son’s name on it. And, very gently, he said: ‘I guess he had to go down to lift me up.’ That is what Jesus did; it cost his life and death to tell us of the love of God and to bring us home to him.” 15
Related to the testimony mentioned, Paul says: “And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle— I am telling the truth, I am not lying— and a teacher of the true faith to the Gentiles” (2:7). In ancient times when the king or ruler wished to make a public proclamation he sent his message by imperial heralds. They would go to each village or city and make a formal, public proclamation of the Emperor’s message. 16 Paul was such a herald, but he was heralding the good news of the gospel. No doubt the false teachers had questioned and even discounted Paul’s credentials as a herald and an apostle. Here Paul sets the record straight.
THE MEN OF GOD IN PUBLIC WORSHIP
I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing. 1 Timothy 2:8
For ages the Jewish people had lifted their hands in prayer to the true God. Now Gentile people the world over are able to do the same. The prophet Malachi had spoken of such a time when he said: “‘My name will be great among the nations, from the rising to the setting of the sun. In every place incense and pure offerings will be brought to my name, because my name will be great among the nations,’ says the LORD Almighty” (Mal.1:11). In the Jewish world it was always the men who made public prayer. They often did so standing with arms and hands outreached (Exo. 9:29, 33; 1 Ki. 8:22).
Stott reminds us that postures for prayer are not mandated in the Bible. They are rather cultural with a wide variation illustrated in scripture. He remarks how David even sat down before the Lord in prayer. So in scripture we have people standing, sitting, bowing down, kneeling, and falling on their faces. 17 Our prayer position is not so important, but the position of our heart is of utmost importance.
Paul makes plain that hands and hearts must be right before prayer can be heard. He warns against anger (orges) and disputing (dialogismos). Relationships had to be right before worship was acceptable, just as Jesus had already made clear (Mt. 5:23-24). God will not listen to us if our hands are full of blood (Isa. 1:15). Barclay makes plain that this latter word, dialogismos can mean both argument and doubt. 18
It is nice when a church can be peaceful and without fighting. The evangelist Ray Stedman tells the story of a man going through a church building with his son. The boy asked the father about a bronze plaque that was hanging on the wall. He wanted to know why it was there. “The father replied that it was a memorial plaque to commemorate the young men who had died in the service. The boy asked, ‘Which one, the morning or the evening service?’” 19
THE WOMEN OF GOD IN WORSHIP
I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God. 1 Timothy (2:9-10)
Here Paul continues to speak of public worship. Through the ages this instruction of Paul has often been abused and women have been put down as a result. Some religions have dressed women in hideous attire. In some Moslem lands the woman is often covered from head to foot with an uncomfortable and unsightly burka. Sometimes, only the women’s eyes can be seen. In certain Christian circles the situation is not too much improved. Some groups have required long, drab dresses. Others have insisted on strange-looking head coverings. Many groups have forbidden any makeup to the woman. All this is amazing when we consider the creation around us and realize that God is a God of infinite variety, of dazzling color and of utterly amazing beauty and glory.
We can no doubt say first of all that matters of dress and makeup, like the postures of prayer, are often cultural and therefore can change from age to age. What might be modest in one era, could actually appear immodest or even ridiculous in another. Today in Israel, some Ultra-Orthodox men are still wearing the clothing styles of two or three centuries ago. It is almost as if they were caught in a time warp. This is no judgment on their devotion to God or their worship, but their attire is almost comical.
With all this in mind let us take a closer look at the clothing and hair styles mentioned here. The clothing or dress (katastole) is to be orderly (kosmios), with modesty (aidous) and sobriety (sophrosune). There has been a lot of discussion about the clothing or dress among interpreters. The stola, catastola and girdle were normal items of ancient dress for the woman. Although they were simple garments, among the Greek and Roman women they were often highly decorated with precious stones and gold. 20 Guthrie feels that the word katastole can also be a reference to demeanor as well as to attire. 21 This is really the point Paul wishes to make.
We can bring all this down to the present day as women come before the Lord to worship. Pastor Ray Stedman says, “If a woman comes with her hair done up in the latest fashion, wearing the latest low-cut dress and flashy jewelry, she is obviously not trying to get God’s attention; she wants men’s attention. Her choice of clothing, etc., reveals her heart.” 22
So women, like the men, are to come before God in orderly, modest and sober fashion. The woman’s makeup and hairstyle should also reflect these qualities. Moderation should be the key word in all this. We know from sculptures and literature of the ancient world that women often wore their hair in elaborate arrangements. They had their braids and curls piled high and decorated with gems and gold. 23 Stedman, who has a great sense of humor, tells of hearing Phyllis Diller say that she spent three hours in the beauty parlor. Then she added “and that was just for the estimate!” 24
God is not against a woman looking the best she can look, as long as it is done with modesty. We think of mother birds, how God has clothed them with beauty, but with colors that often blend in with their surroundings and provide good camouflage from predators. In this way even the young are protected from harm. Still, God doesn’t will that women look drab or ugly. Coffman sums up this verse saying: “The inherent good sense of the church in all ages has permitted and approved the wearing of some ornaments, as for example, gold wedding rings; and there can, in fact, be no authority whatever in these passages for the imposition of a church-administered dress code. Even the gold, pearls, etc., mentioned are not prohibited, but downgraded.” 25
Paul says that ostentatious clothing and hairdos are out. But modesty, moderation and common sense are in. Peter also gives us his summary saying of women, “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight” (1 Pet. 3:3-4).
THE SUBMISSION OF WOMEN
A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. 1 Timothy 2:11
We now come to a section of scripture that is hotly debated today. For a writer or interpreter to deal with this section is a little like walking through a minefield. Much of this has come about because of the seismic shift in opinions and morals that began to take place in the 1960s and 1970s. I liken it to a spiritual tsunami a thousand feet high that struck the US and much of the western world. Pent-up evil, that had been restrained for hundreds of years by the church, suddenly burst forth and swept everything in its wake. Morals and mores thousands of years old were smashed. Churches were damaged, families were destroyed, and lives were turned upside down. Since that time we have been trying desperately to pick up the pieces and somehow put normal life back in order.
At the heart of this social revolution was an attempt to overthrow all authority. Students rebelled against both governmental authority and school authority. City dwellers rebelled against police authority. Workers rebelled against employer authority. There was a widespread rebellion against church and pastoral authority as well. 26 In short, there was a rebellion against God, the Bible or most other things connected with Christianity.
This great rebellion had an immense effect upon the home, the family and particularly upon women in general. Women began to throw off and despise male authority in the home or anywhere else. Several radicals from the women’s liberation movements took it upon themselves to abolish marriage. Gloria Steinem said plainly, “We have to abolish and reform the institution of marriage…” Feminist author, Vivian Gornick, tenured professor at the University of Arizona, said, “Being a housewife is an illegitimate profession…” Author, scholar, and university lecturer Germaine Greer said, “If women are to effect a significant amelioration in their condition it seems obvious that they must refuse to marry.” Radical feminist and author Andrea Dworkin even said, “Like prostitution, marriage is an institution that is extremely oppressive and dangerous for women.” 27
In 1972 Helen Reddy released her number one hit, I Am Woman, which sold over a million copies. It was a song celebrating female empowerment and went on to become an enduring anthem of the women’s liberation movement. Reddy bellowed out in the chorus, “…If I have to, I can do anything…I am strong…I am invincible…I am woman.”
All this emphasis upon liberation and empowerment of women did not fare well in family relationships. No doubt, primarily because of such ideas, there is now a family meltdown in the US. Fatherhood is rapidly disappearing on the American scene. This is not only due to young people refusing to marry, or living together unwed, but to an extremely high rate of divorce for those who do marry. In American courts today divorce and custody battles make up over half of the civil litigation. 28 Author David Kupelian says, “Numerous studies show that adult children of divorce have more psychological problems than those raised in intact marriages.” He makes plain that “fatherlessness far surpasses both poverty and race as a predictor of social deviance.” 29 This family tragedy has hit the blacks much harder than whites. By 1995, it was noted that almost 70 percent of black children were being born out of wedlock, 30 destined to live in fatherless families and on welfare.
Now, with all this as a background, perhaps we can tackle the problem of submission of women as it is dealt with in the Bible. Paul says here, “a woman should learn in quietness and full submission.” First, let us deal with the matter of quietness. Several commentators, such as Stott, Wuest, and Pett, feel that this statement was directed against disturbances and interruptions being made by women in the worship services as they asked questions. 31 Christianity had set women free from the great bondage they had felt in Judaism and especially in the Greek culture. These commentators feel that some women were abusing this freedom with their interruptions. It is also possible that the false teachers had elevated some women to be surrogate teachers of their heresies. 32 We will see clearly in this whole section that women are not to take authority over men in public worship or in teaching. Paul deals with this same subject on quietness again in 1 Corinthians 14:34-35, but in this instance it specifically has to do with public worship. 33 Yet, we still see women praying and prophesying in the church (1 Cor. 11:5).
The Bible in several places makes plain that the wife is to be submitted to her husband. This is God’s order from the creation forward. Paul says in Ephesians 5:24, “Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. In Colossians 3:18, he says, “Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.” Peter says, “For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands… (1 Pet. 3:5).”
Many women today will probably not accept any of these statements. However, it behooves Christians to take them very seriously, that is, if they are Christians who believe the Bible. The teaching of Paul about submission in these verses and in several other places is clearly not taken from customs of the ancient world but from core, foundational teachings of God’s word.
Let us look closely at the word submission, hupotage from the Greek hupotasso. This is a military term. So in one sense, submission under the man’s teaching and in marriage is somewhat like submission in the military. In fact the Greek word used has the meaning “to be under rank.” In the military the private may be much smarter than the general, but he is “under rank” to the general, not because he is a person but because he is the general. 34 Things can run smoothly in the military, in the nations, in the church and in the family only when there is submission to God’s prescribed order of things.
There is a prescribed order in the whole of creation. God made it that way. When we see a flock of geese or ducks there is always a leader. The same is true when we see a school of fish. There is one person who is leader of a country; one general who is leader of an army; one pastor who is leader of a church and one man who is leader of a family. In the case of the family, that person is the husband. It has been said that “there never was any kind of effective organization that functioned without a head.” 35
In the matter of marriage for instance, Paul makes it clear in several places that the wife is to submit to the husband and his spiritual headship (cf. Eph. 5:22; Col. 3:18; Tit. 2:5; 1 Pet. 3:1). This submission has nothing to do with inferiority, lack of talent or intelligence on the part of the wife. But rather it has to do with mission. There is a spiritual mission to marriage and this mission is involved with bringing glory to God. For this mission to succeed there must be “submission.” 36
WOMEN AS TEACHERS IN THE CHURCH
I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. 1 Timothy 2:12
This scripture flies in the face of much that has been discussed and taught about women in our culture since the 60s and 70s. It is doubtful that the pagan society of today will accept Paul’s statement here. However, serious Christians should accept it. To do otherwise is confusion and folly. We remember what we discussed earlier, that in order to be a mission there must be submission. The woman must be careful not to exert her authority over the man because God is looking to him for the success of the mission.
We see here that women are not permitted to teach the congregation or to take authority over the man. Obviously, this passage does not exclude women teaching. For ages, women have proven their great ability to teach classes of women, girls and children in Sunday Schools and in other settings. In Titus 2:3-4, Paul plainly says that women are to teach other women. But women are not to have authority over a man in the church. The Greek word for authority (authenteo) means “to have the mastery of,” or in a more colloquial sense, “to lord it over.” 37 We need to remember that Paul is not speaking of women in the secular world but in the church world.
In the Old Testament we see this principle of submission in the prophetess Deborah. Although she was a prophetess she would not lead God’s army into battle. She insisted that Barak lead the troops. However, she was willing to go along, and in the end she provided Barak with the exact prophetic timing in which to attack the enemy (Jud. 4:4-24). In the New Testament we see the blessed but submitted attitude of Mary who sat at the feet of Jesus and heard his every word (Lk.10:39). 38
THE FOUNDATION FOR PAUL’S TEACHING
For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. 1 Timothy 2:13-14
We can see here how Paul’s teaching is rooted in the very creation of the world. The theologian, Dr. J. I. Packer says, “That the man-woman relationship is intrinsically non reversible…This is part of the reality of creation, a given fact that nothing will change. Certainly, redemption will not change it, for grace restores nature, not abolishes it.” 39
Guzik adds here: “At the time that command was given, Eve was not yet created from Adam. Therefore, Adam received his command and his authority from God, and Eve received her command and authority from Adam…. the Bible never blames Eve for the fall of the human race, but always blames Adam (through one man sin entered the world, Romans 5:12).” 40
So Paul’s teaching is anchored in the creation story. Let us review carefully the important points of the story. 1. Adam was formed first, as we have said, placed in the Garden of Eden and given certain commands regarding it, including the command not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 2:15-17). 2. Eve was formed second and was taken from the rib of the man, thus illustrating her subjection (Gen. 2:21-22). 3. Eve was formed as a helpmeet for her husband (Gen. 2:20). After the curse, we see God saying to Eve in Genesis 3:16, “Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” (cf. 1 Pet. 3:7). 4. Adam was not deceived but the woman was deceived by the serpent’s temptation (v. 14). It was the woman who first became a sinner. The Bible is clear that Adam was not deceived, but in a sense, he sinned with his eyes wide open. As Coffman says, “The disaster came when Eve became the leader instead of the helper and led her husband into the tragic fall of the entire race.” 41 5. The good news of this whole sad scenario is that in God’s wise order of things, the deliverance of the human race ultimately comes from the woman. We see this prefigured in what is called the “protoevangelion” of Genesis 3:15. We are promised here that eventually the seed of the woman would crush the serpent’s head. This of course is the promise of the woman Mary bearing the Christ child, Jesus.
Men and women are essentially different regardless of what our unisex culture teaches today. Women in their composition are the “weaker partner” (1 Pet. 3:7). Their bodies are more designed for tender nurturing of children. The man was designed to protect both the woman and the children. He was made strong and muscular for this purpose. He was designed to bear the hardships of earth and provide for the woman and children. Today our society scoffs at such ideas and is insistent on making men and women alike.
Stedman compares the difference between men and women to the difference between a knife and a spoon. They are both important, but they do not perform the same function. We certainly do not claim that the spoon is inferior to the knife. We happily use them both for the function of eating. But we do not demand that they be employed the same way. No doubt, some folks may still be insisting on doing so, as this little jingle suggests:
I eat my peas with honey,
I’ve done it all my life.
It makes the peas taste funny,
But it keeps them on the knife! 42
ONE OF THE BIBLE’S MOST DIFFICULT VERSES
But women will be saved through childbearing— if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety. 1 Timothy 2:15
When we come to this last verse Texas professor Bob Utley remarks, “This is a very difficult and involved passage. It is possibly the most difficult in all of Paul’s writings.” 43 We know right off that there are two things this verse does not mean. It does not mean that women will be saved naturally as they bear children. Many devout and holy women have died in childbirth. We know it does not mean that women will be saved spiritually through the act of childbearing. Such an idea would disqualify single or barren women from any hope of salvation. Paul has just said that there is one Mediator between God and man, thus there is only one way of salvation (v. 5) and that is through Jesus. As often happens in biblical interpretation, the obscure passage is cleared up somewhat by the obvious passage.
What can we make of this difficult verse? Some are quite sure that this verse is a reference to woman ultimately bearing the Messiah. We see this idea reflected in the early Christian father Ambrose. He says, “Yet woman, we are told, ‘will be saved by childbearing,’ in the course of which Christ became born of woman.” 44 Guthrie says, “If the whole passage is concentrating on Eve, it is possible that there is an allusion to the promise of Genesis 3:15, to the promise of the one who would crush the serpent’s head.” 45 This is an attractive idea and may be a possibility. However, as Barnes points out, there is really nothing in this passage requiring that it should have any reference to the birth of the Messiah. Barnes feels that the word in general properly refers more to the normal act of child-bearing. 46
Also, the verse switches emphasis from the singular Eve to the plural, representing all women, saying— “if they continue…” 47 This seems to be important. There is a wide meaning in the Greek word for saved, sothesetai (from sozo). Stedman says that the word as used here does not mean “regenerated” but rather it means “fulfilled” or “to find significance.” He would translate the verse to say, “…Your significance, your sense of fulfillment, will come as you bear children and they continue in faith and love and holiness, with modesty.” 48
John Dumelow sees “in childbearing” that the woman will be saved, “by keeping faithfully and simply to her allotted sphere as wife and mother.” 49 Clarke adds, “The apostle did not mean to say that she alone was to be saved through child-bearing, but that all her posterity, whether male or female, are to be saved through the child-bearing of a woman… (Genesis 3:15)” 50
Likely, Peter Pett the London scholar gives us the best understanding of this troublesome passage. He says:
The truth is that the solid core of the church of God is built on children borne by Christian women…Indeed one of the dangers of the present day is that enthusiastic Christian women, eager to be involved in what they see to be of prime importance, are planning to restrict their families, or not have one at all, thus unconsciously robbing the church of its central base…The “debt” that eternity will reveal as owed to godly mothers is beyond telling, and their final influence will probably be seen, in the consummation, to have exceeded that of the majority of “elders” in the church, to say nothing of the ordinary male members.51
As we close this section we need to remember Paul’s words in Galatians 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
This great truth overshadows all else about the relationship of male and female. In Jesus, spiritually speaking, the playing field has been leveled and there is really no difference between men and women in God’s sight.
Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task. 1 Timothy 3:1
We are gathering that the two primary tasks of Timothy while in Ephesus were to put a stop to heretical teaching and to institute the proper church order. In this chapter he is dealing with the latter, particularly regarding leaders in the local church. It might be good for us at this point to get an overview of early church leadership. We read in Ephesians 4:11: “It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers.” These officers represent God’s gifts to the church, or his gifts of gifted people. Some have referred to these officers as the “five-fold ministry.” Perhaps this designation is correct, however, there is still some question as to whether pastors and teachers really constitute two differing groups or a single ministry.
It is immediately apparent that these gifts fall into two categories. Apostles, prophets and evangelists were early roving ministries. They visited in all the churches, instructing, rebuking and setting things in order. We must remember that in the early Christian period there was no New Testament in print and few of its books had even been written. Thus, correct Christian doctrine had to be disseminated by these officers.
On the local level there was the pastor or leader of each individual house church. In a large city like Ephesus where there were several house churches, there were also several pastors in each area as we see in Acts 20:17-38. In addition, there were deacons appointed in each church. We will look at this local office later.
Sometimes when we read the New Testament we are left in confusion by the terms bishop, pastor and elder. English preacher, evangelist and commentator, John Stott says concerning this: “It is all but certain that episkopos (‘overseer’, ‘bishop’) and presbyteros (‘presbyter,’ ‘elder’) were two titles for the same office…Peter appealed to the ‘elders’ among his readers to serve as ‘bishops’ of God’s flock…Finally, Paul instructed Titus to appoint ‘elders’, adding that ‘a bishop…must be blameless (Tit. 1:5-7).’” 1 Stott feels that the word presbyteros (‘elder’) was based on Jewish custom, since every synagogue had its elders, while episkopos (‘bishop’) was of Greek in origin. 2 The Greek scholar, Barclay, goes on to add here: “Modern scholarship is practically unanimous in holding that in the early church the presbuteros and the episkopos were one and the same.” 3
As the young church grew and developed there began to be changes in its understanding of leadership. By the time of Ignatius of Antioch (c. AD 110), the idea of the “monarchial episcopate,” had sprung up, where a single bishop would preside over a college of presbyters. Very early in church history the bishop began to be unduly elevated and it was not long until writers were speaking of apostolic succession of bishops. The church historian Eusebius (263-339) goes into great details in his efforts to trace this
Paul says here that if anyone desires the office of overseer or bishop he desires a good work. The word “desires” is the Greek (oregetai) and has the meaning of reaching out or stretching out to obtain something (cf. Heb. 11:16). We see here that the office of overseer is a noble task or good work. The pastorate was never designed as a position but as a work. Augustine says, “He wanted to make clear that the office of bishop… implies work rather than dignity.” 6 This passage tells us that while bishops were appointed by apostles or their assistants, nevertheless a prospective bishop or leader needed to have a desire for such a position. Perhaps this would be something similar to our present-day understanding of a “call” to ministry. In the final analysis it was the Spirit who selected these early ministers.
Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach… 1 Timothy 3:2
Paul’s first statement that the overseer “must be above reproach” helps us to understand all the other requirements for this task. Clarke sheds some light on the Greek word anepilepton, which means “above reproach.” He says that this word describes “a person against whom no evil can be proved; one who is everywhere invulnerable.” 7
With this concept in mind let us deal with the first requirement that Paul makes of the bishop. He must be the husband of one wife and one wife only. This is literally translated as a “man of one woman.” 8 There must not be anything in the pastor’s life that people can get hold of in order to criticize him. We remember how the devil came to Jesus before his last hours in the garden, but the Lord said in John 14:30, “the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold on me….” Obviously, marriage and family relationship was an easy target for criticism of the pastor in these early days, just as it is today.
Now, the question in our morally topsy-turvy world is “what does it mean to be the husband of one wife and one wife only?” Several ideas from commentators, both ancient and modern, have been offered here. Some think this is directed against polygamy, that a pastor should not have two or more wives. Yet, although the Jewish people still practiced polygamy to some degree, it was forbidden by Roman law, and not practiced by the
early Christians. 9
Some have thought that Paul is here dealing with those pastors who have been widowed and then remarried. It is noted that Leviticus 21:14 forbids a priest whose wife had died from remarrying a widow. Several early church fathers held this view. However, we see in the New Testament that the remarriage of widows and widowers is permitted (Rom. 7:1; 1 Cor. 7:39; 1 Tim. 5:14). 10
There are several other ideas about what this passage could mean. Some have mentioned that it would exclude those guilty of marital unfaithfulness. Towner mentions that it could have a connection with those bishops who have remarried after divorce. 11 He mentions how an exception to the rule would probably exclude those cases where adultery was involved regarding the wife (Mt. 5:32) or perhaps desertion by an unbelieving mate
(1 Cor. 7:15).
Following the teachings of Jesus (Mt. 19:3-12; Mk. 10:2-12; Lk. 16:18), the early church was very stern on the subject of divorce and remarriage for its pastors and for others as well. Ambrose said, “He who entered a second marriage… is disqualified from the privilege of the priesthood.” 12 The early writer and martyr Justin (c. AD 160) says, “All who have been twice married by human law, are sinners in the eye of our Master.” 13 Tertullian (c. 207) says, “Christ plainly forbids divorce…If separation had taken place, he wished the marriage bond to be resumed by reconciliation.” 14 Mark Minucius Felix (c. 200) adds, “We know either one wife, or none at all.” 15
The church father Lactantius (c. 304) writes, “He who marries a woman divorced from her husband is an adulterer. So is he who divorced a wife for any cause other than adultery, in order to marry another.” 16 Finally, the Apostolic Constitutions (c. 390) has it, “If a layman divorces his own wife and takes another – or if he marries one divorced by another – let him be suspended.” 17
When I was a child growing up in the US Bible Belt, divorce was very rare. It was rare to the point that divorced and remarried persons were often ostracized by the church and community. All that began to change, especially with the great moral rebellion of the 1960s and 1970s. Divorce has now become commonplace. In most US churches there is probably not a family that has not been touched in some way by divorce. Today many pastors are divorced and remarried. So are deacons and church members in general. However, our ideas are far removed from the New Testament and from early Christianity. Wiersbe remarks about this anomaly saying “A pastor who has been divorced opens himself and the church to criticism from outsiders, and it is not likely that people with marital difficulties would consult a man who could not keep his own marriage together.” 18
Some may ask, “Why is the Lord so hard on the pastor?” It is because the pastor is in the position of the priest of old and like the priest he must not profane the holy name of God (Lev. 22:32). In the prophet Malachi’s day the priests were bringing shame on God’s name. They were breaking the marriage covenant with their wives and the Lord was very angry (Mal. 2:14). He scolded them saying,“I hate divorce….” (2:16). If the priests themselves are profaned, what hope is there for the people? In Ezekiel 44:23, the prophet says of the priests: “They are to teach my people the difference between the holy and the common and show them how to distinguish between the unclean and the clean.”
Not only is the bishop to be the husband of one wife, but he is to also be “temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach…” Let us look at these other requirements.
The word “temperate” (nephalion) might be better translated as “vigilant.” It has the meaning of being calm, cautious, dispassionate and circumspect . 19
The next requirement is that the pastor should be self-controlled. This is the Greek word sophron and it could be better translated as disciplined or sensible. 20 Several other translations have it as “sober” or “sober-minded.” Next, the pastor is to be respectable. This is the Greek word kosmion, and we have seen it before in this book. In other translations it is rendered as “orderly,” “of good behavior,” or “decent and respectable.”
The pastor must also be hospitable (philoxenia). This word literally means that the pastor should have a “love for strangers.” 21 The stranger or traveler had no easy life in the first century. The inns and other places of lodging were horrible. This is reflected in one of the plays of Aristophanes. When Heracles asks his companions where they will spend the night. They answer, “where the fleas are fewest.” The great philosopher Plato once spoke of the innkeeper as a pirate who held all his guests for ransom. Ancient inns were dirty, expensive and immoral. 22
Christians were bidden to take in the stranger and be hospitable (Rom. 12:13; Heb. 13: 2; 1 Pet. 4:9). They were to remember their father Abraham and also Lot, who both were hospitable to strangers. It was also extremely important for early Christians to open their homes to other believers. In those days of severe persecution many Christians were forced from their homes. About mid-century the Roman emperor forced all the Jews (including Jewish Christians) out of Rome. This expulsion included the beloved Aquila and Priscilla. In addition to those persecuted, there were many wandering apostles, prophets, evangelists and other teachers who often needed a place to spend the night.
In addition to all the other qualities he must possess, the pastor was required to be “able to teach” (didaktikos). As we earlier mentioned, some interpreters believe that “pastors and teachers” as seen in Ephesians 4:11, may refer to a single person with dual functions. 23 This might indeed be the case, but it also is possible that there was a distinct gift of teaching possessed by some (cf. 1 Cor. 12:28). Following after the Jewish people, the Christians were also to be “People of the Book.” The pastor therefore had to be able to refute and correct the ill-informed, as well as to instruct his own congregation. Guthrie says of this requirement, “The church has been at its weakest when this basic requirement has been absent in its leaders.” 24 Barclay adds here, “One of the tragedies of the modern church is that the administrative function of the office-bearer has almost entirely taken the place of the teaching function.” 25
Paul says of the pastor that he should “not be given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money (3:3). The expression “not be given to drunkenness” is a compound word and has the meaning of “one who sits long at his wine.” 26 Early Christians lived in a society where wine was a common beverage, just as in some countries today. In the US Bible Belt, however, wine is not acceptable and is in fact quite offensive to many Christians. Pastors in the US are generally not known for their drunkenness. Regardless of how we feel about wine we should be careful to follow Paul’s instruction in Romans and not allow our use of it to become a stumbling block for our brothers or sisters in Christ (Rom. 14:12-23). It is certainly true that wine blurs our judgment. Its use has the capacity to keep the pastor from being temperate and self-controlled as we discussed earlier.
The pastor must not be violent but rather gentle. Not violent (plektes) means not a brawler or fighter, while gentle (epieikeia) means to be gracious and yielded. The word is almost untranslatable and R.C. Trench says that it means “retreating from the letter of right better to preserve the spirit of right.” 27 In the American wild west some pastors were fighters and they almost had to be in order to survive. That day has now past. As the little couplet states, the pastor can no longer strive, “To prove his doctrine orthodox, by apostolic blows and knocks.” 28 Also the pastor must not be quarrelsome but peaceable (amachos). This word is sometimes translated as “not contentious.” As it has been said, “short tempers do not make for long ministries.”
He is not to be a lover of money or avaricious (aphilapguron). The word is a compound which means, “Not a lover of silver.” 29 The love of money and success has certainly taken its toll on many ministers and congregations today. The love of money has in fact become a core doctrine of some churches and denominations. Before Paul ends this letter (6:10) he will say, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”
A FAMILY MAN
He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?). 1 Timothy 3:4-5
I clearly remember the little son of one of our pastors in the small town where I grew up. People lived in fear and dread of the pastor’s son, Little David. He was a very unruly and destructive little kid. The church people hated for him to come around their houses. Of course, Little David spoke volumes about his father’s ability to manage the family and to manage the church as well. As I remember, that family didn’t stay around our church too long.
In ancient times people knew well that the management of family was a necessity if one was to be a proper manager in other areas. The church father, Chrysostom, remarked about this, “Even those who are without the church have the saying that one who is a good manager of a house will be a good statesman.” 30 Of course, all this is but another indication that the pastor of the church should be a married man, undergoing all the challenges of marriage and family life. 31 He was not to be some sort of recluse from
“He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil” (3:6). The pastor must not be a neophyte (neophuton). Such a one might well be lifted up in pride. The word used for being puffed up is tuphootheis, which literally means “to raise a smoke, emit smoke, or smolder…hence…to blind with pride or conceit” 32 Pride not only affects the one afflicted with it but it affects everyone.
“He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap” (3:7). Jesus says in Matthew 5:16, “…let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” The pastor especially had to live such a life that he would be a good advertisement for the church (cf. Col. 4:5). Satan has many traps set for all of us and especially for the pastor. It is a trap for the pastor to be swollen up with pride, to have a quick temper or to not pay his bills.
Deacons, likewise, are to be men worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. 1 Timothy 3:8
In the Bible we see deacons first appointed in Acts 6:1-6. The reason for their appointment was that some of the Greek widows in the church at Jerusalem were being neglected in the regular distribution of food. Seven deacons were chosen to make this distribution and to see that it was done with fairness. The Greek word for deacon was diakonous and it simply meant servant or even table waiter. This office sounds a little mundane at first, but we must remember that two of these deacons, Philip and Stephen, turned out to be some of the greatest evangelists in the New Testament. F.B. Meyer says of this office, “Nothing is common or unclean, nothing trivial and unimportant, where Christ’s honor and glory are concerned. In the prophet’s vision, the very snuffers of the candlestick were of gold….” 33
Deacons, like the pastor, were to be sincere and men of respect. The Greek expression for sincere is me dilogos and it means not double-tongued. 34 Of course, much of the deacon’s job was to handle food and money and mingle constantly with the people. In such a position it would be a temptation for them to be a little hypocritical at times or to deceive the poor folks occasionally.
Barclay gives us a good summary of the synagogue organization for helping poor people. He says:
The synagogue had a regular organization for helping such people…Each Friday in every community, two official collectors went round the markets and called on each house, collecting donations for the poor in money and in goods…the poor of the community were given enough food for fourteen meals, that is for two meals a day for a week…In addition, to cover emergencies, there was a daily collection of food from house to house for those who were actually in dire need that day. The fund was called the Tamhui or the tray. The Christian Church inherited this charitable organization, and no doubt it was the task of the deacons to attend to it. 35
The deacon was to be a sober person. He was not to drink too much wine. We realize once more that drinking wine was customary for early Christians. It was not just grape juice because the believers at Corinth once got drunk on wine at the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor. 11:21). Even today in Israel, drinking wine is customary with meals and with the Sabbath and holiday celebrations. Wine is seldom abused and until recent decades it was very unusual to see a drunk person in Israel. Barnes notes that even the pagan priests in ancient times were not allowed to drink wine as they entered their temples. In Leviticus 10:9, it can be noted that Jewish priests were also forbidden to drink wine while on duty.
Deacons had to guard against covetousness. Of course, where money is involved there is always the temptation to take a little for one’s own personal needs. We remember how Judas, the keeper of the common purse, was in the habit of stealing from it (Jn. 12:6). In the Old Testament, Gehazi, servant of the prophet Elisha, brought about his own undoing by coveting silver and clothing from the Syrian commander, who had just been healed by the prophet (2 Ki. 5:1 – 27). Then of course, there was Achan, who coveted and took a Babylonian garment as well as some silver and gold from the dedicated spoils of war (Josh. 7:21). It cost the lives of both Achan and his family.
“They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience” (3:9). When we look at Stephen’s speech as he was about to be martyred we realize that he was dealing with some deep spiritual truths regarding the true temple (Acts 7:1-53). He was obviously a very serious student of the Bible and not just content with passing out food to the poor. So, the deacons were required to know the deep truths and mysteries of the faith. Wiersbe says here: “A deacon who does not know the Word of God cannot manage the affairs of the church of God.” 36
“They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons” (3:10). The Greek verb used here is dokimazo and it means to be tested with the hope of being successful. 37 Wiersbe reminds us that a lot of the great leaders mentioned in the Bible had to first be tested as servants. Joseph was tested as a servant in Egypt for thirteen years before he became second in power to Pharaoh. The great Moses had to be tested on the back side of the desert as a sheep herder for forty years before he began to lead God’s people Israel. Also, Joshua was tested for many years as the servant of Moses before he became the commander of Israel’s armies.38
WIVES OR DEACONESSES
In the same way, their wives are to be women worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything. 1 Timothy 3:11
In most of our Bibles, the translations read “women” or “wives.” In some Bibles, like the NIV, the word “deaconesses” is listed in the footnotes as a possible translation. Many scholars are now beginning to wonder if deaconesses is not the proper rendering. It seems clear from Romans 16 that Phoebe was a deacon of the church at Cenchreae. Also, scholars feel that since there is no corresponding treatment of the wives of elders in the preceding passage, that this must be a separate office. Utley notes that the Greek syntax here seems to distinguish another group of church officers. 39
The Greek scholar Wuest says, “there is no possessive pronoun in the Greek, which would be needed if the women were the wives of the deacons… The reference here is to women who hold the office of deaconess, as Phoebe (Rom. 16:1).” 40
It is interesting that there were differences of opinion in the early church about this supposed office. Chrysostom, who apparently had some forty deaconesses in his church, is certain that Paul is talking of this as a valid office. However, Ambrosiaster (d. 397) says, “Paul does not refer here to women deacons, since these are not allowed in the church. It is heretics who have such persons….” 41
There seems to be evidence in the early writings that there was an office of deaconess in the early church. In the Apostolic Constitutions (375-380) there are several mentions of this office. In one place it is said: “Ordain also a deaconess who is faithful and holy for the ministrations toward women. For sometimes the bishop cannot send a deacon (who is a man) to the women…For we stand in need of a woman, a deaconess, for many
The great Calvin felt like the reference was to wives of the deacons and bishops. Coffman also says, “If the women in view here had been deacons, Paul would have called them deacons, which he certainly did not do; and furthermore, in the very next verse Paul said that deacons ‘must be husbands of one wife,’ leaving women out of sight altogether as possible holders of this office…To make it read ‘female deacons’ is a gross transgression of the word of God.” 43
Well, whether wives or deaconesses, these women were to be grave and worthy of respect (semnas). They were not to be malicious talkers. The Greek expression here is “me diabolous.” Since the devil is a notorious slanderer, this literally says that women should not be “she devils,” 44 spreading slander and gossip throughout the church community. The women were to be sober (nephalious) just as the bishops were also instructed in 3:2. We need to be reminded once more that respectable Greek women lived in seclusion. It was therefore very important that the women conduct themselves wisely lest they bring a scandal upon the church. The Greek leader Pericles once said, “the duty of an Athenian mother was to live a life so sheltered that her name should never be mentioned among men for praise or blame.” 45
MORE ABOUT DEACONS
A deacon must be the husband of but one wife and must manage his children and his household well. 1 Timothy 3:12
Here it is emphasized that the deacon must be held to the same restrictions in marriage as the pastor. Chrysostom remarks here: “Observe how he requires the same virtue form the deacons as from the bishops, for though they were not of equal rank, they must be equally blameless, equally pure.” 46 Like the pastor, the deacon must also keep his children in line and be a good family manager.
“Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus” (3:13). For those deacons who measure up to the task they will be blessed with good standing and they will gain great assurance or boldness (parresian). We remember how this was certainly true of the deacons Stephen and Philip. Some interpreters see the “good standing” as possibly moving up to the office of bishop. However, A.R. Faussett reminds us that, “the idea of moving upwards in church offices was as yet unknown (compare Rom. 12:7, etc.; 1 Cor. 12:4-11).” 47
BEHAVING IN GOD’S HOUSE
Although I hope to come to you soon, I am writing you these instructions so that, if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth. 1 Timothy 3:14-15
We can realize here that Paul really did have plans to return to Ephesus, despite what we have said earlier about the questionable and unlikely nature of such a return (cf. 1 Tim. 1:3-4; Acts 20:38). From this we cannot know for sure that he did return, since he had some concern about being delayed. Actually, the church can be very happy that Paul was delayed. Otherwise, we would never have had his written instructions on how we were to conduct ourselves in God’s house. 48
The house of God (oiko) is better understood as household. Too often today we get the household of God, which is the people, all mixed up with the house, which is a building. We are reminded that it was several generations before the early church had a regular meeting place. Paul goes on to say that the household is the church (ekklesia), or the gathering of God’s holy people. This important word is a compound one consisting of “out of” and “to call.” In the Greek world it described the governing body of a city whose membership consisted of all the citizens who were gathered together. 49
So God’s church is made up of those who are “called out” of the world. Paul says that this group makes up “the pillar and foundation of the truth.” Paul was using a very familiar picture here with the word pillar (stylos). It is said that the great temple of Diana or Artemis in Ephesus was one of the Seven Wonders of the World, and that it had 127 pillars. These marble pillars were studded with jewels and gold and were all gifts
of kings. 50
Paul speaks of the pillar and foundation of the truth. In addition to the pillars there was the foundation spoken of (hedraioma) might be better translated as bulwark. 51 Oh that the church today could still be a pillar and bulwark of the truth! As we have mentioned, we have allowed truth to be thrown down to the ground in our day. Philosophers and people alike feel that there is no universal standard of truth. Each person can simply make up his or her own “truth.” But how will this manufactured “truth” stand up to the Day of
Stedman mentions a contemporary poem which might describe the modern church.
Outwardly splendid as of old;
Inwardly sparkless, void and cold.
Her force and fire all spent and gone,
Like the dead moon she still shines on. 52
Jesus still promises in Revelation 3:12: “Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name.”
AN EARLY HYMN OF THE CHURCH
Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great: 1 Timothy 3:16a
Paul makes a very abrupt transition here and several commentators feel that he is quoting from an early creedal hymn of the faith. 53 If not a hymn, others have felt that it is at least an early confession of faith. It is very likely that this passage makes up the doctrinal high point of the whole epistle. 54
He appeared in a body,
was vindicated by the Spirit,
was seen by angels,
was preached among the nations,
was believed on in the world,
was taken up in glory. (3:16b)
Paul speaks of this hymn as expressing the “mystery of godliness.” Paul often uses the word mystery (musterion). In the New Testament it has the meaning of a deep secret that once was hidden but now is revealed and available for all to understand. No doubt, the greatest mystery of all time is how God could come to earth through his Son and be manifested in flesh and blood. Such a thing was unthinkable for the Greeks and it remains unthinkable for many in our postmodern world. Such an idea was also anathema for the Gnostic teachers who were troubling the Ephesian Christians. Jesus was a real man and at the same time he was really and truly God. He must have sweated in the sizzling summer heat of the Galilee. His muscles must have ached as he climbed the steep hill to Chorazin. The mosquitoes must have bitten him in the sultry nights at Capernaum.
For several hundred years after this the church fathers would argue and seek to defend the incarnation. In time the great church creeds would be hammered out which would firmly state this mystery. No doubt the makers of these creeds took note of this important verse in all their deliberations.
We see here that Jesus was vindicated by the Spirit or “in spirit.” Towner feels that the Greek en pneumati of this verse should be best read as “in spirit.” 55 On the other hand, there were several places in the gospels where the Holy Spirit bore witness to Jesus. This happened at his baptism (Matt. 3:16-17), during his mighty miracles (Matt. 12:28) and at his glorious resurrection (Rom. 1:4; Heb. 9:14; 1 Pet. 3:18).
Jesus was seen by angels. The New Testament makes clear that angels were very interested in the incarnation and as well are interested in the salvation of individual souls. Of course, there were angels at Jesus’ birth, at his temptation in the wilderness, as he prayed in the garden, and at his resurrection. The church is even now making known to angels and heavenly beings the manifold wisdom of God (Eph. 3:10). Regarding salvation, 1 Peter 1:12 tells us that “…Even angels long to look into these things.”
This hymn also proclaims that Jesus was preached among the nations and was believed on in the world. The gospel or good news of Jesus has now reached the ends of the earth.
As Guthrie says, “It must never be forgotten that a Hebrew Christ had become a Christ for the nations.” 56 The message today is still the same as it was almost two thousand years ago, “That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Rom. 10:9).
At last, Paul says of Jesus that he “was taken up in glory.” The church father Origen exclaimed over this: “Behold the Savior’s greatness. It extends to all the world….Go up to the heavens. See how he fills the celestial regions.” 57 William Temple in his readings from John’s gospel sums it up well.
In the days of His earthly ministry, only those could speak to him who came where he was. If he was in Galilee, men could not find him in Jerusalem; if he was in Jerusalem, men could not find him in Galilee. But his Ascension means that he is perfectly united with God; we are with him wherever we are present to God; and that is everywhere and always. Because he is “in Heaven” he is everywhere on earth; because he is ascended, he is here
The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. 1 Timothy 4:1
We’re there! We have been there for quite a while in the US. It became especially clear in the rebellious 1960s and 70s, as demons and demonic teachings began to infiltrate and take over the power centers as well as many of the people in the US. Unfortunately, some of this type teaching began to filter into the church. Paul says here that they will apostatize (apostesontai) from the true faith. This verse was written in the future tense, but in the verses that follow Paul switches into the present tense, indicating that the “later times” are upon us. 1 The word apostesontai is taken from the Greek aphistemi and it means to “stand off” or “to fall away.” We get our English word “apostatize” from this. 2
It is important that we understand what Paul is saying here. The background for his teaching is taken from the Old Testament prophets. They clearly taught that things would get a lot worse before they would get better. The prophet Daniel made clear that in the last days, the governments of all nations would degenerate until finally, the godless Beast or antichrist would rule over the whole world (Dan. 8:23-25; 9:27; 12:1-3). This would bring a short reign of godlessness and horror unseen before in all human history (Dan. 12:1-3; cf. 2 Thess. 2:3-4; 1 Jn. 2:18).
In this last time, people themselves will degenerate along with the world governments. In 2 Timothy 3:1-5, Paul gives a listing of these folks. He says:
But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.
There are several things we should notice about these people. They are totally self-absorbed. They are totally given to greed and they love and seek after pleasure. The interesting thing about them is that they are religious and some are likely even called “Christians.” Paul says that we should have nothing to do with them. In saying this, he places us all right in the middle of the last days. Thus, he contradicts much that is taught today that all Christians are going to fly away to glory and miss the last days entirely.
We should note here that the Spirit is speaking expressly about this situation. There is nothing obscure about these words. The Greek rētōs (in words, expressly) means that this information is open and plain for all to see. It is not given in hints, symbols or shadowy images. 3
“Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron” (4:2). Although these are the teachings of demons, we should note that they still must come through flesh and blood people. They are hypocritical liars but they are people nonetheless. Since demons are spiritual disembodied beings, they must still recruit people to do their dirty work.4 Many of these people have the name “Christian” attached to them but they are wolves in sheep’s clothing (Matt. 7:15ff). These are false prophets and false teachers (2 Pet. 3:3-5). Peter says of them, “In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping” (2 Pet. 2:3).
One great gift the Lord has given to humanity is the gift of conscience. Like a compass it points us to the truth and to the right way. However, we see here that these false teachers had their consciences branded or cauterized (kausteriazo) as with a hot iron. It seems likely that Paul is using this word more in a medical sense. 5 The word probably had its origin in the branding of slaves or criminals. Of course, the branded person would lose feeling in the area of his body affected. The false teachers were thus without feeling or sensitivity. They were also without the truth. We see in 2 Timothy 2:18 that some of them were teaching the erroneous idea that the resurrection had already passed.
They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth (4:3). It is obvious that in the early church there was a strong tendency toward an extreme asceticism. It seems that much of this tendency came from the Greek world and at least some of it was inherited from the Jews. For instance, while the Jews as a whole had a strong belief in marriage and family, the Essenes tolerated marriage only for preserving the race, and allowed it only under stringent regulations. 6 Of course, there was much emphasis among the Jews regarding what foods were kosher and what foods were not. This food issue caused much tension, even in the apostolic era (Gal. 2:11-14). The Greeks with their ideas that the world and the flesh were hopelessly defiled, placed an undue emphasis upon the spiritual world while disregarding the natural world.
The forbidding of marriage had a great impact on the church. In early Christian times some monks retreated to the desert, shunning marriage and also depriving themselves of most normal foods. In early patristic theology virginity began to be exaggerated and later celibacy was encouraged among the clergy and religious orders. This trend happened in spite of the fact that marriage was encouraged in the New Testament (Heb. 13:4), and even some of the apostles themselves were married (1 Cor. 9:5).
It is clear that these false teachers had an argument with God. They were in fact demeaning God and his original plan for humanity. It was God who invented marriage and who said that it was not good for man to be alone (Gen. 2:18). From that point, it seems that Satan began to launch his great attack upon marriage. We see his attack manifesting itself in several ways today. It is seen in the pervasive emphasis upon homosexuality, lesbianism, promiscuous sex, abortion and numerous other deviations.
Not only did God invent marriage, but he also provided food for humankind to eat and enjoy. Under Jewish law, food was somewhat restricted and certain things, like pork, were deemed unclean. It is clear that these legalistic restrictions were but types and shadows designed to teach people the difference between clean and unclean. According to New Testament teaching these food restrictions were fulfilled and ended. Jesus declared all foods clean and good (Mk. 7:14-23). He reiterated the lesson with Peter in Acts 10 and later he reaffirmed it through Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 10:23-33.
“For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer” (4:4-5). We need to remember that God in the beginning declared all his creation to be “good.” (Gen. 1:10, 12,18, 21,25). The Anglican commentator, John Trapp (1601-1669), remarks here: “He made the grass before he made the beasts, and the beasts before man, that all might have food convenient for them.” 7 So, all food is created by God and is good. We can eat anything that doesn’t eat us first. Some foods are more nutritious and some are more tasteful than others.
In our Christian walk it is perfectly permissible for us to fast from some food or all food for a period of time (Acts 13:2-3; 14:23). It is also permissible for husband and wife to abstain from sexual intercourse for a time in order that they might pray more effectively (1 Cor. 7:4-5). However, it is not permissible for us to shun these things that God has declared “good.” Such an attitude is an insult to the Creator.
We must also remember that our Christian asceticism is not done to gain God’s approval. We already have that through the Lord Jesus (Eph. 1:6 NKJ). It is done to sharpen our spiritual senses and make us more effective in God’s work.
Long ago the church father Origen expanded our idea of fasting when he said:
Do you still want me to show you what kind of fast it is appropriate for you to practice? Fast from every sin, take no food of malice, take no feasts of passion, do not burn with any wine of luxury. Fast from evil deeds, abstain from evil words, hold yourself from the worst evil thoughts. Do not touch the secret loaves of perverse doctrine. Do not desire the deceptive foods of philosophy which seduce you from truth. Such a fast
pleases God. 8
It is clear that all food, even that which was once forbidden in the law, is sanctified by the word and by prayer. It is sanctified by the word, in that through the word all food is now declared clean and good for us. It is sanctified by prayer in this sense: “The very fact that we thank God for it makes a thing sacred. Not even the demons can touch it when it has been touched by the Spirit of God.” 9 As we can note, prayer or grace before meals is taught throughout the scripture (Matt. 14:19; 15:36; Acts 27:35).
TIMOTHY, BEING A GOOD MINISTER
If you point these things out to the brothers, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, brought up in the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed. 1 Timothy 4:6
In a real sense, the remainder of this chapter simply contains exhortations that are made to Timothy in view of the threatening apostasy. Paul instructs Timothy on how these dangers may be combated and remedied.
Timothy had experienced a very good background in Christian teaching from his mother and grandmother. Now, as a minister of the gospel, it was his turn to establish others in a similar background and understanding of scripture. It is unfortunate, that today in the midst of heresy on all sides, our ministers no longer have the time to give their congregations a good foundation in Christian doctrine. Towner laments, “…reports from an alarming percentage of pastors and missionaries, among other Christian workers, show that under the weight of ministry responsibilities time spent in the Word of God (and in prayer) becomes irregular and haphazard.” 10 If the minister is not fed, he cannot feed
“Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly”(4:7). The word myths (muthos) meant fictions, fables and falsehoods. 11 The early church did not have a monopoly on these. As we have mentioned previously, myths are very much a problem that we have in the church today. Christianity is still struggling on all sides with myths, both the theological kind and the secular kind. In the theological realm there are the numerous theological myths that have been spun out by some in the schools of higher criticism. Ironically, higher criticism has branded much of the Bible itself as mythology. There is the myth of the secret rapture of the church that we have mentioned. In the last half century it has worked havoc with our understanding of the end times. There is also the myth of the prosperity gospel— believe in Jesus and grow rich! In the secular realm we are fighting a life and death battle with humanism, with Darwinism, Freudianism and several other isms. As we also mentioned earlier, we are in a great struggle with the postmodern concept that all truth is relative. These are all modern and postmodern myths that are taking a terrible toll on the church.
Paul calls these myths “old wives’ tales.” We have all probably heard plenty of these tales when we were growing up. As we get older we realize that there is really no truth in these stories. Paul challenges Timothy to refute them. Of course, this can be done easily if one is skilled in the Word of God. Stott describes a lot of these stories as “spiritual
junk food.” 12
The spiritual antidote for all this is training in godliness (eusebia). This is an important concept for Paul in this book. It has within its meaning reverence for God and piety toward God. Stott says of such people, that “they have experienced the Copernican revolution of Christian conversion from self-centeredness to God-centeredness.” 13
“For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come” (4:8). In the US we are living at a time when great emphasis is being placed on physical training. It is an interesting paradox that many of our “health nuts” today continue to do things with their bodies in the moral realm that will in time totally destroy them both physically and spiritually. Paul does concede that there is “some value” in physical training and that all the pain does bring a little gain. The word for physical training used here is gumnazia. We realize that we get our English word gymnasium directly from this Greek word. Paul makes clear that training in the moral and spiritual realm is much more profitable than physical training. This is a lesson that is almost unknown by millions in the West today.
The scripture is clear that our physical bodies are meant to be the temples of God (1 Cor. 6:19-20). We are meant to use them in his service and to bring glory to him. Of course, it is important that we take care of our bodies. In this respect some exercise is good. It is also good in disciplining ourselves to push away from the table and not destroy ourselves with obesity. Recent reports show that 35.7 percent of US adults are obese (grossly overweight), and that medical costs associated with obesity in one recent year were estimated at $147 billion. 14 Another 33.3 percent of Americans are just
Along with obesity we should also avoid dangerous and addictive substances. Of course, we should follow Paul’s advice and keep our bodies pure and holy for the Lord. Paul is really challenging Timothy and the Ephesian church to be as devoted to godliness as the Greek athletes were devoted to their sports. Guthrie says here, “The race of godliness demands every ounce of energy a person possesses.” 16
“This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance (and for this we labor and strive), that we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe” (4:9-10). Commentators are divided as to whether verse 9 applies to verse 8 or to verse 10. Coffman sees it as applying to verse 8 and perhaps this is correct. 17 Paul says that he labors and strives in the race for godliness. The first Greek word he uses is kopiao (labor), which suggests strenuous toil. He uses this word in Philippians 2:16 to describe the fatigue of an athletic contest. 18 The second word is agonizomai (strive). We have talked about this word before and it is from this word that we get our words agony and agonize.
The apostle says here that God is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe. This is in no sense a teaching of universalism, or that all people everywhere will be saved. He is saying that God is the Savior of those who believe and the potential Savior of the unbelievers. 19 All the unbeliever has to do is call out in faith to God in order to be saved (Rom. 10:13).
A TEACHER AND EXAMPLE
Command and teach these things. Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. 1 Timothy 4:11-12
Paul is once more using the military term parangello or “command” as he instructs Timothy. He seems to want young Timothy to be a lot like a drill sergeant in the Army. He certainly doesn’t want him to be “timid” Timothy (2 Tim. 1:7). “The example which Christian leaders set, whether in their life or their ministry, should be dynamic and progressive. People should be able to observe not only what they are but what they are becoming, supplying evidence that they are growing into maturity in Christ.” 20
Timothy was certainly not expected to bow down or get pushed aside just because he was young. This reference to Timothy’s youthfulness (neotes) in the ancient world could indicate that he was probably under forty years old. 21 Others have guessed him between thirty and forty. He was young but as Matthew Henry says, “Men’s youth will not be despised, if they keep from vanities and follies.” 22
In the annals of Christian history some young men have accomplished remarkable things. From the journals of Francis Asbury, we realize that this outstanding young Methodist missionary actually began the Methodist work in America. He was sent by John Wesley to preach in the Eastern Colonies when he was only twenty-six years old. He rode on horseback throughout the Colonies, preaching everywhere he went. It is estimated that he rode some 250,000 miles (402,250 km) during his American ministry. It is a record that has not been equaled in history. 23
Timothy would not be despised but instead, he also left an outstanding record. His name has been written down in glory. He lived up to his name of one who honors God. Paul instructed that he be an example (tupos) “…in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.” It is very likely that the special spiritual gift given to Timothy had to do with speech, including preaching and teaching. He thus should use his gift to the maximum. But what good is speech, even the most powerful preaching, if one’s life does not back him up? As the old saying goes, a sermon is more caught than taught. Paul charged his young helper to also display love (agape). Barclay properly defines this Greek word as “unconquerable benevolence.” 24 He is also to display faith and purity (hagnos). This word is defined as moral purity or chastity. “The qualities in which Timothy is to excel are those in which youth is so often deficient.” 25
GIFTS OF MINISTRY
Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. 1 Timothy 4:13
We see here that the earliest Christian worship services were somewhat different than ours today. The preacher, writer and broadcaster, Warren Wiersbe, had exposure to a vast number of churches in his long ministry. He laments, “I have noted that many churches have dispensed with the public reading of God’s Word.” 26
In the early church, the public reading of the word held a very important place. The centrality of the word was of course much a part of Jewish worship. We see that the Bible was read publicly from the days of Ezra. It was also very important to synagogue worship. Jesus reflected this custom as he read the scripture publicly at the Nazareth synagogue. By the second century such reading was much a part of accepted liturgy. 27
The church father Justyn Martyr remarks upon the custom of his day (c. AD 170). He describes a normal worship service saying: “All who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs and exhorts to the imitation of these good things. Then we all rise together
and pray.” 28
We see the same pattern reflected in this verse. The Greek words are paraklesis and disaskalia. Paraklesis is a word that means exhortation, [preaching] while didaskalia means teaching. 29 It is much to our loss that we have veered from this blessed pattern of reading the Bible, making exhortations based on the Bible and continuing with Bible-based teaching. Such a pattern brings forth truths that are both new and old as Jesus said
“Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you” (4:14). Young Timothy certainly had an important spiritual gift. It had come from the laying on of hands of Paul and the presbytery (cf. 2 Tim. 1:6). We see in 1Timothy 1:18 that the gift was granted through a prophetic message. As we have said earlier, this spiritual gift may have been in the realm of teaching. Others, looking at 2 Timothy 4:5, think it might have included evangelism.
Timothy was ordered not to neglect his special gift. It is clear in scripture that God does not change his mind about gifts that are given to people (Rom. 11:29). However, people can allow their gifts to shrivel and atrophy if they are not used. The early commentator John Trapp says of this, “God’s gifts groan under our disuse or misuse.” 30
PERSEVERING TO THE END
Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. 1 Timothy 4:15
The development and use of our gifts, and the Christian life in general, is a lot like riding a bicycle. Either we go on, or we go off. Timothy is told to be diligent and to wholly give himself to these things. Jesus once warned his followers saying, “By your patience possess your souls” (Lk. 21:19 NKJ).
The word “diligent” (meletao) in the text above has an array of meanings. It means to carefully attend, to practice, to give yourself wholly, but it also has the meaning, “to meditate.” 31 The concept of Biblical meditation has almost escaped us today and people who are interested in meditation almost have to flee to the eastern cults. However, it was a very important thing in Bible days for people to quietly meditate or ponder the things of God. No pastor is too busy to find time to meditate. The Great Israelite commander Joshua took time to meditate as he and his armies were conquering the land. He advised us: “Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful” (Josh. 1:8). Paul gives Timothy a similar advice.
Faussett says: “As food would not nourish without digestion, which assimilates the food to the substance of the body, so spiritual food, in order to benefit us, needs to be appropriated by prayerful meditation.” 32 A good picture of meditation is that of a cow chewing her cud. We should continue to chew on God’s word and turn it over in our minds until the deeper meaning is revealed to us. I must confess that most of the truths I have gained from the Lord over the last half-century have come in the quiet times, even in the wee hours of the night, as I have quietly meditated on the word of God.
Another important Greek word Paul uses here is prokopen (progress). It has the meaning of cutting forward, blazing the way or making a pioneer advance. 33 Obviously, Paul wanted young Timothy to “move on” and make an enormous amount of spiritual progress with himself and with the church at Ephesus.
“Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers” (4:16). This is an important verse especially for pastors and leaders. Long ago I decided to write this verse in the fly leaf of my Bible, so it could be a constant reminder. It is easy for a pastor to become overconfident, especially if the church awards him too much praise. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 10:12, “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” When we watch our character and conduct as well as our doctrine and teaching we will avoid such a disaster. Jesus in Matthew 10:22 promises pastors and the rest of us, “…he who stands firm to the end will
Many are the famous pastors and leaders whose conduct and poor theology have made them a laughingstock. Such activity, often published widely by TV, has brought much disgrace to Christianity. Other dear pastors have quietly nurtured their flocks as they themselves have grown spiritually. Most of these will only be famous in the world to come.
Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity. 1 Timothy 5:1-2
There are few places in scripture where true Christianity shines brighter than in this passage. Here we see the gentleness and tenderness of human relationships as they were meant to be in the church, even in those stressful and anxious moments of life. First of all, an older man is to be treated with great respect, like a person would treat his own father. Our Christianized western world has much to learn from societies in Africa and Asia where the elderly are highly honored. I remember a young couple from the Far East who came on several occasions to visit my wife and myself while we lived in Israel. They insisted on calling us “uncle” and “aunt,” despite our many appeals that they should address us by our first names. Respect for the elderly was so deeply engrained in their culture, that they simply could not bring themselves to follow our instructions regarding this.
The Greek term presbutero used here is often a technical term for the church leader. However, it is thought that in this case it is used more as a designation of age, of someone who is elderly with a long and respected standing in the church. 1 The Bible is replete with instructions that such men were to be highly respected. In Leviticus19:32, we are told to “Rise in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God….” We see this deep respect reflected in the fifth commandment of Exodus 20:12, as well as several other places (cf. Prov. 16:31; 20:20; 30:17).
There are times when older people have to be rebuked for the sake of the church, but we must be extremely careful how this is done. The Greek word for “rebuke” used here speaks of a harsh rebuke (epiplesso). It has the meanings, “to strike, beat upon, chastise with words, or treat harshly.” 2 Obviously, such treatment would likely crush or greatly discourage an elderly person. Calvin says of rebuke in general, “Correction is a medicine, which has always some bitterness, and consequently is disagreeable… the vinegar must always be mingled with oil, but with this difference, that reverence should always be shown to older persons, and equals should be treated with brotherly gentleness.” 3
Barclay tells of the famous missionary teacher, Florence Allshorn. He says that when she served as the principal of a woman’s college, she didn’t hesitate to rebuke her students. She promptly did this when the need arose, but she did so with her arm around them. 4
We see here that the church should behave as the loving family of God. Younger men were to be treated as brothers, while older women were to be treated tenderly as mothers, and younger women as sisters. Paul notes that special care should be taken with younger women. They should be treated with “absolute purity.” Many are the men of God whose ministries have been destroyed because they did not carefully heed this instruction. No doubt, most of these failed to pay attention to Job’s advice as well, by forgetting to make a covenant with their eyes (Job 31:1).
It has been long reported that the famous evangelist Billy Graham had a rule to never be alone in a room with a woman who was not his wife. The famous pastor, Rick Warren, has adopted the same rule. Even the popular Christian actor, Kirk Cameron, has a rule that he will not kiss a woman on scene who is not his wife. 5 I think here of my former pastor’s wisdom in requiring a window to be placed in every office door of the church. Barnes remarks about wrong relationships that often spring up with young women saying: “A youthful minister who fails here, can never recover the perfect purity of an unsullied reputation, and never in subsequent life be wholly free from suspicion.” 6
PROPER TREATMENT OF WIDOWS
Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need. 1 Timothy 5:3
It is obvious that this chapter has a lot to say about widows. They are important to God, as we see in many other scriptures (Deut.10:18; 14:29; 24:17; Psa. 68:5; Isa. 1:17; Mal. 3:5). In the gospels we note that Jesus also cared for the widows. He had compassion on the widow of Nain and restored her only son to life. He commended the widow who badgered the unjust judge until he responded to her need. He condemned the scribes who devoured widow’s houses in their greed. With almost his last breath, he commended his widowed mother to the Apostle John’s care. 7
The early church also expressed great concern for its widows. We see this concern manifested in Acts 6:1-6, where seven deacons were appointed to oversee food distribution to needy widows. Obviously, the fine tradition of caring for needy widows and the elderly was inherited directly from the Jews. 8 This recognition or honoring (timao) conveys not only the idea of respect but also the idea of material support. 9
“But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God” (5:4). So often, the Bible takes a “common sense” approach to the problems of life. It is only common sense that families should first of all take care of their own needs before the church should be burdened. Paul will later say (5:8) that those who do not care for their immediate families have denied the faith.
We should note that even ancient pagan populations were careful to support widows and the elderly. It was established in Greek law from the time of Solon that children were morally and legally bound to support their parents. Aristotle felt that the children themselves must starve rather than allow their parents to do so. 10
In our western nuclear families we have all but lost the tradition of caring for the extended family and we commonly expect the state or various retirement programs to care for our needy. This is both an unbiblical and, in the last analysis, an unworkable plan. According to the Bible, we believers have a debt to our parents which really cannot be repaid. They brought us into the world and nurtured us when we were young and helpless. We are thus commanded to honor them (Ex. 20:12). The Bible does not set time limits or conditions on this honor and respect. We cannot just honor them until we are age 21 or at some other convenient point in life. We cannot just honor them if they treat us to our liking. We must honor them at all times, when they are old and feeble and even when it becomes a great burden to us.
This responsibility not only pertains to children but also to grandchildren (ekgona). Stedman notes how we have impoverished ourselves in interrelationships between generations by our modern and postmodern practices of shuttling our elderly of to the rest homes. He notes how God now seems to be forcing us through economic means to once more live together and enjoy one another. Such an arrangement of generations happily living together was pictured so well in the successful and long-running TV series The Waltons. 11
“The widow who is really in need and left all alone puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help” (5:5). At the outset of verse 3 Paul informs us that his concern is with widows who are really widows. The word for “really in need” here is memonomene and it has the meaning of being “all alone.” Such a widow has no one left to care for her and has cast her hope on God. 12 Her situation reminds us so much of the blessed widow Anna (Lk. 2:36-37), who from her husband’s early death had served the Lord with fasting, prayer and watchfulness in the House of God.
Wiersbe, from his long experience, mentions how such widows are spiritual powerhouses. 13 From my own experience in Israel I can attest to this. Many godly Christian widows have chosen to make their homes in Israel. Several of these women are powerful prayer warriors and in my work I always tried to keep these holy women praying for me and not against me.
Paul adds: “But the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives” (5:6). Wuest remarks that the literal Greek reads here, “living, having died, with the present result that she is dead.” 14 Commentators feel that the Greek word spatalaō (pleasure) does not speak so much of criminal pleasures but rather an indulgent, luxurious and pampered life style. The early church father Jerome says of such living: “It is a violation of nature to revel in pleasure…The bodily senses are like horses madly racing, but the soul like a charioteer holds the reins. And as the horses without a driver go at breakneck speed, so the body, if it be not governed by the reasonable soul, rushes to its own destruction.” 15
“Give the people these instructions, too, so that no one may be open to blame. If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (5:7-8). Here Paul lays down a very bold and challenging teaching, but it is not just a principle of faith— it is a principle of the natural world around us. When we fail at this point we become worse than the unbelievers around us who practice it. Again, the pagan philosophers well knew this law and demanded it be kept. Barnes says, “Few things were inculcated more constantly by pagan moralists than this duty.” 16 He mentions Tacitus, Cicero, Apuleius, Plutarch, Homer, Virgil as among those who all supported this doctrine.
THE ORDER OF OLDER WIDOWS
No widow may be put on the list of widows unless she is over sixty, has been faithful to her husband, and is well known for her good deeds, such as bringing up children, showing hospitality, washing the feet of the saints, helping those in trouble and devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds. 1 Timothy 5:9-10
It is clear in these verses that there were lists and orders of women in the early church. Paul has already spoken of needy women and the necessary ministry to these. In the ancient world, women were at a great disadvantage, whether they were widowed or merely unmarried. Barclay says: “It was next to impossible for a single or a widow woman to earn her living honestly. There was practically no trade or profession open to her. The result was inevitable; she was almost driven to prostitution in order to live. The Christian woman, therefore, had either to marry or to dedicate her life completely to the service of the church; there was no half-way house.” 17 Here the church could step into an otherwise cruel world and help needy women.
In addition to helping women in general, we see in these verses that there was a particular class of women basically underwritten by the church. Each of these holy women was required to be over sixty years of age, to be married only once or, a “one man woman” as the Greek implies, known for good deeds, bringing up children, being hospitable, and helping those in trouble. No doubt, the age of sixty was chosen since this was a point when women would likely no longer be able to support themselves. 18 They would also have much less interest in contracting a second marriage, since sixty was considered to be quite elderly age in New Testament times.
This listing of holy widows obviously was not simply for benevolence alone but for service in the church. One of the great emotional needs of people is that they can be useful. It is demeaning and discouraging when people only receive and are not allowed to participate themselves. Barclay says, “The charity of the church does not exist to make people lazy and dependent.” 19
Let us look more closely at some of the requirements of this group of holy widows. They were to be well known for their good deeds. The list almost begins with good deeds and it also ends with good deeds. Coffman likens this to a pair of bookends that enclose all the other qualities mentioned. 20 Their deeds needed to be obvious and outstanding. These widows were to be involved in bringing up children, more than likely these were orphan children cast away by society. In this time, a newborn could be thrown out of the house like rubbish. These young children were often collected by unscrupulous folks and they became stock for the brothels if they were girls or trained as slaves and gladiators if they were boys. 21 It was an act of great mercy for these unfortunates to be rescued by loving Christian women.
These holy women also needed to be adept at showing hospitality. This no doubt included taking in guests (3 Jn. 1:5), since most lodging places in the first century were loathsome and sometimes even dangerous. These women were not to be beneath stooping to wash feet either. This was a practical necessity in those days, and a job usually done by foreign slaves. Of course, at that time most people wore sandals and the roads were often dusty. It was a relief and a necessity to have one’s feet washed after a long grimy journey. These widows also made themselves available to assist people in all kinds of trouble as well. As the old cliché goes, “busy hands are happy hands.” The observing world must have been amazed at these women. Once a sophist teacher of the young Chrysostom exclaimed, “What women there are among the Christians!” 22
PROBLEMS WITH OTHER WIDOWS
As for younger widows, do not put them on such a list. For when their sensual desires overcome their dedication to Christ, they want to marry. Thus they bring judgment on themselves, because they have broken their first pledge. 1 Timothy 5:11-12
Paul in no way wishes to discriminate against younger women but he refuses to have them serve the church with the older widows. There is one obvious and practical reason for this. After young women vow to serve the church as ministering widows, they may fall in love and be overcome by their desire to marry and have a family. This would cause them to break their vow to God, thus bringing disgrace upon themselves and the church (cf. 1 Tim. 5:5-6). If a person is to be supported, that person must be supportable.
We must understand here that Paul had nothing against legitimate marriage or even the remarriage of widows. He even advises this as we will see later in 5:14. Also, as Pett says, “There is no suggestion here that marrying and having children was in any way second best.” 23 It is in God’s order for marriage, child-bearing, and the rearing of families to take place. As Christians, we must be careful to oppose with our voices that vast throng of the ungodly who are denying these natural, normal and biblical human functions.
Perhaps we should pause here for a moment and try to lessen the fog that has developed in the church regarding the role of holy and devoted women. As we have mentioned earlier, there was in the primitive church an extreme and growing emphasis upon asceticism. This was seen early in the Christian monks who embraced celibacy, spurned marriage and retreated to the solitude of the desert. The same tendency was also seen in the strong emphasis upon virginity among the young women. This began to be an official practice in the church at least by the end of the third century. In a short time the church had a generous supply of monks and nuns, all devoted to Christ and him only. Unfortunately, there is very little in scripture to support these trends.
Scholars feel that there are possibly two or three groups of women mentioned here and in other scriptures by Paul. There was a very early group of needy widows as mentioned in Acts 6:1-6. Possibly Dorcas (Acts 9:36) could have fitted into such a group. Soon, this group became more closely defined in relation to its service to the church. In verse 12 and following, we even hear of a pledge to remain single. 24 Those in this group apparently had to be at least sixty years of age and had to meet all the other requirements Paul has
We see here that there were also younger widows. These could not be put on the list of ministering widows and they were not to take the vow of widowhood. Paul says of these that they might well break their vow of service to the church alone and get married.
“Besides, they get into the habit of being idle and going about from house to house. And not only do they become idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying things they ought not to” (5:13). Stedman says: “Young women with lots of time on their hands, being supported by the church, might tend to fill their hours going about from place to place, drinking endless cups of coffee, telling all the news of the neighborhood— and getting far too involved in other people’s business. Today we call this a soap opera!” 25 Long ago Dr. Isaac Watts penned these lines that are still so pertinent to the subject:
See how the little busy bee improves each shining hour,
And gathers honey all the day from every opening flower!
In works of labor or of skill, we should be busy too;
For Satan finds some mischief, still, for idle hands to do.” 26
The Bible does say, “…Bad company corrupts good character” (1 Cor. 15:33)… It also says that gossiping is forbidden: “Do not go about spreading slander among your people…” (Lev. 19:16). Still today gossip is one of the easiest and quickest ways to destroy a church.
“So I counsel younger widows to marry, to have children, to manage their homes and to give the enemy no opportunity for slander” (5:14). Faussett says: “Here remarriage is recommended as an antidote to sexual passion, idleness, and the other evils noted in 1 Timothy 5:11-13.” 27
“Some have in fact already turned away to follow Satan” (5:15). It may well be that Paul is referring here to some of the young women who have turned away to follow after the false teachers. Paul adds: “If any woman who is a believer has widows in her family, she should help them and not let the church be burdened with them, so that the church can help those widows who are really in need” (5:16). Guthrie suggests that the alternative reading “man or woman” (cf. KJV, NKJ) might be preferable here. He thinks it difficult to believe that the weight of this responsibility for the whole church should fall only upon the women. 28
HONORING GOD’S LEADERS
The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. 1 Timothy 5:17
There seems to be a rather natural transition made here between the serving widows and the serving elders (5:9-10). 29 Both are to be recompensed by the church with honor and remuneration.
Elders (presbuteroi) were well known in the Jewish faith. These were the older men who presided over the synagogue (Matt. 15:2; Acts 11:30; 15:2). 30 This concept seems to have come over directly into the church. There was another concept of leadership and that is “overseer” (episkopos) as we saw in 3:1. This was a concept that originated with the Greeks and was their city-state designation of leadership. These two terms appear to be used simultaneously and interchangeably in the New Testament (Acts 20:17, 28; Tit. 1:5-7). Each city had several small churches that were held in homes, but it remains unclear how the elders cooperated. We do know that the term “elders” is always used in the plural in the New Testament. 31 This seems to signify that the elders worked closely together.
It has been suggested, and this verse implies that there were two types of elders or overseers in the church. Some say that there were ruling elders who cared for the work of the church and teaching elders, who cared for the teaching and distribution of God’s Word. There are many commentators however who do not hold this opinion. According to the previous verses (3:2, 5), we see that all elders had to be qualified both to take care of the church and to teach. 32
In this verse we note that elders who do their job well are worthy of double honor (diples timee). This expression means not only special honor and respect but it has to do with remuneration. Towner says here: “The full-time minister’s right to remuneration was not an innovation but a well-established tradition in the early church.” 33 Such a minister is worthy of both honor and honorarium. Jesus even spoke of this in Matthew 10:10 and Luke 10:7. Of course, it was a well-established principle among the priests and Levites of the Old Testament. They and their families had the biblical right to be sustained from the many offerings made by Israel.
“For the Scripture says, ‘Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain,’ and ‘The worker deserves his wages.’” (5:18). Here we glimpse just how valid and alive the ancient word of God really is. Paul goes back to the dusty pages of Deuteronomy 25:4, and from that old, old word brings forth a modern principle concerning the pay of God’s ministers. The example must have been a favorite of his since he not only uses it here but also in 1 Corinthians 9:6-7, 14. Paul says in these passages that a soldier should not serve at his own expense; that the owner of the vineyard should be allowed to eat of its grapes; and that the one who tends a flock should be able to drink of its milk (v. 7). He says that all of these work in hope of natural reward. Paul asks regarding his own work among the churches: “If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap a material harvest from you?” (1 Cor. 9:11).
Of course, we live in a time when remuneration of pastors and leaders has been greatly abused by some. There are a number of TV preachers who extract large and shameful amounts of money from their audiences. However, there are plenty of good ministers who are woefully underpaid for sharing the word of God. Often the honorarium is scarcely enough for the preacher to replenish the gas he used in making the trip to the church. This reflects our often poor attitude, both regarding the word of God and of his ministers.
ACCUSATIONS AGAINST MINISTERS
Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses. 1 Timothy 5:19
Over the centuries gossip about the pastor has caused a lot of unnecessary wreck and ruin. Guzik tells a story about some malicious gossip that supposedly affected one preacher:
There is an old story about a pastor who was trying to defend himself against criticism. He said, “There’s a story going about that I told my wife not to go to a certain church that has wild meetings. They say my wife went anyway, that I dragged her out of the church by her hair, and hurt her so badly she had to go to the hospital. First of all, I never told her to stay away from that church. Second, I didn’t drag her out by her hair. Third, she never had to go to the hospital. Lastly, I’ve never been married so I don’t have a wife.” 34
A charge of any kind against a pastor is a very serious thing, since it has an effect upon the whole church, be it true or false. From ancient times such charges had to be supported by two or three witnesses (Deut. 17:6; 19:15). This custom was carried over to become a part of early church discipline (Mt. 18:16; 2 Cor. 13:1).
“Those who sin are to be rebuked publicly, so that the others may take warning” (5:20). We need to be extremely cautious in bringing charges against an elder. Jerome says, “When a man is advanced in years, you must not be too ready to believe evil of him. His past life is itself a defense, and so also is his rank as an elder.” 35 However, when a sin is committed it must be addressed. Private sins may be addressed privately but public sins need to be dealt with publicly. When the sin of leaders is denied, made light of or hidden, the whole church will ultimately suffer.
The church fathers give their opinions on this delicate scenario. Augustine says, “If you punish a man, you may ruin him. If you leave him unpunished, you may ruin another.” Basil the Great adds, “A feigned kindness to the wicked is a betrayal of the truth, an act of treachery to the community and a means of habituating oneself to indifference to evil.” 36
VARIOUS OTHER CHARGES
I charge you, in the sight of God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels, to keep these instructions without partiality, and to do nothing out of favoritism. 1 Timothy 5:21
Paul charges Timothy before God, Christ and the elect angels. We might wonder what the expression “elect angels” implies. Wuest says of this: “We are safe in saying that the elect angels are identical with ‘the angels which kept their own principality (Jud 6).’” 37
We know from a number of scriptures that angels are very interested and watchful regarding God’s plan of salvation. They are actually sent forth to minister to those who will be heirs of this salvation (cf. Heb. 1.14; 1 Cor. 11.10; Psa. 91.11-12; Matt. 4.6-7).
Timothy is not to be partial or to prejudge (prokrimatos) in church decisions. Neither is he to show favoritism (prosklisin).
“Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, and do not share in the sins of others. Keep yourself pure” (5:22). Towner remarks here, “The recent defection of some elders in the church certainly underlined the need for care in selecting replacements …By laying on hands, they willingly identify with that one’s sin.” 38 If indeed Paul is thinking about the restoration of those who had fallen away, he might be advising: “Don’t go too fast. Let them demonstrate their repentance first…We all have enough sin of our own; we do not need to add to it by partaking in the sins of others …We can share in the sins of others by approving of them or ignoring them.” 39
Of course, the laying on of hands in the New Testament had to do with ordination (Acts 6:6; 8:17; 1 Tim. 4:14). Coffman sighs concerning this rite, “Although the laying on of hands has ceased, in large degree, it is fervently to be hoped that the prayers for those charged with solemn responsibility have not!” 40
“Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses”(5:23). It is clear that the whole Mediterranean world drank wine. We have many examples that the Jewish people drank wine as well. They drank it for the Passover, for other festivals and as a common beverage. Jesus even made wine miraculously for a wedding feast on one famous occasion (Jn. 2:1-11). Despite some of our modern conservative interpretations of scripture, the wine of Bible times (oinos) was definitely fermented and capable of inducing intoxication. 41
We might ask, “If wine was a common beverage, why would Paul have to encourage Timothy to drink it?” There are some possible reasons for Paul’s charge here. The most likely one is brought out by Adam Clarke. At an age possibly around 35 years, Timothy was likely still considered a young man. Both in Greek and Roman societies, respectable young men, as well as slaves and free women were not permitted to drink wine. Possibly for this reason Timothy was not accustomed to drink wine. 42
It is also possible that Timothy was trying to set a godly example by fasting and denying himself of certain luxuries. In the process he must have discovered that his health was being harmed. Many places in the ancient world had poor water supplies and it was common for folks to drink wine instead of water, or else to mix wine with water. Ephesus is reported to have had worse water than most other places. 43
“Wine was widely recognized in the ancient world as having medicinal properties. Ceslas Spicq refers to several medical authorities who ‘prescribed wine as tonic, prophylactic and remedy’, especially in relation to indigestion.” 44 It is understandable then why Paul would have prescribed wine as a tonic for his ailing young helper.
“The sins of some men are obvious, reaching the place of judgment ahead of them; the sins of others trail behind them. In the same way, good deeds are obvious, and even those that are not cannot be hidden” (5:24-25). Paul’s reference here is a little cloudy and perhaps it refers back to verse 22. Jerome says of this passage: “Certain persons sin so deliberately and flagrantly that you no sooner see them than you know them at once to be sinners. But the defects of others are so cunningly concealed that we only learn them from subsequent information. Similarly the good deeds of some people are public property, while those of others we come to know only through long intimacy with them.” 45
In our age, sin is so cleverly disguised, even among Christians, among philosophers and especially among politicians. In recent years it has become our prayer that God will bring all the hidden things to light, that he will literally shout all these dark secrets from the housetops.
All who are under the yoke of slavery should consider their masters worthy of full respect, so that God’s name and our teaching may not be slandered. 1 Timothy 6:1
Slavery was a monstrous problem in the first century Roman world. It is estimated that approximately half the population of the Roman Empire, or about sixty million people were slaves. 1 There were many classifications of slaves. Some were well educated and others held high positions, like that of physicians. However, many slaves had a miserable existence. For the most part, a slave’s life and time were not his own. The slaves were totally at the service of their masters and some were treated with cruelty. If slaves ran away from their masters, and if they were caught, they were sometimes executed or else branded on their foreheads with the letter “F” (fugitivus or runaway). 2
Paul gives strict advice to Christians who were slaves and under the yoke (zugon) of unbelieving masters. They could find themselves in an extremely difficult position. However, they were instructed to respect their masters and work hard lest they should bring a reproach upon Christianity (cf. Col. 3:22-24; Eph. 6:5-9; 1 Pet. 2:18-19). If they could gain their freedom legally, Paul still expected them to do so (1 Cor. 7:21).
Slaves of Christians had a much better lot. We can gather from Paul’s epistles that there were many slaves in the early churches. After all, the church alone held out the promise of spiritual equality (Gal. 3:28) as well as the eventual hope of full redemption. In the early Christian writing known as the Didache (c. 80-140) it is stated: “You shall not command anything in bitterness to your bondsman or maidservant, who hope in the same God.” 3 The Apostolic Constitutions (c. 390) declares, “Let the slaves work five days. But on the Sabbath day and the Lord’s Day, let them have rest, in order to go to church for instruction in piety. We say the Sabbath on account of creation and the Lord’s Day, on account of the resurrection.” 4 In Ephesians 6:5-9, Paul gives additional instructions regarding Christian treatment of slaves.
We glimpse the tender love some Christians had for slaves in this account from Clement of Rome (c. 96): “We know many among ourselves who have given themselves up to slavery, in order that they could ransom others. Many others have surrendered themselves to slavery, so that with the price that they received for themselves, they might provide food for others.” 5 Obviously, there were many ways a person could end up in slavery. They could be born into slavery or sold into slavery. They could also surrender themselves into slavery out of love for others or in order to satisfy their own indebtedness.
In light of the cruelty and barbarism reflected in slavery, the cry often goes up as to why the Christian church tolerated such an evil thing. Why didn’t the newly-formed church put a quick end to this evil? As we have seen, slavery was so deeply engrained in the Roman culture that such a move would have been impossible. It would have brought about an immediate wreck of the Roman economy and the church would have been singled out and punished as the culprit. Churches also would have been filled and overrun with unregenerate slaves seeking not Christ but a relief from their chains. It would have resulted in an economic disaster for Rome and a spiritual disaster for the church. 6
The teachings of Christianity spelled the end for slavery. However, it would take centuries for this to be worked out in reality. Ultimately, it would be Christian teaching and great men with Christian principles like Abraham Lincoln and William Wilberforce to bring the miserable practice to a close. “We have here an indication of the way in which Christianity abolished slavery—not by denouncing it, but by implanting the idea of Christian brotherhood, which was incompatible with it.” 7
“Those who have believing masters are not to show less respect for them because they are brothers. Instead, they are to serve them even better, because those who benefit from their service are believers, and dear to them. These are the things you are to teach and urge on them” (6:2). Few slaves in the Roman world had Christian masters, but those who did were very fortunate. Paul here expects them to show thankfulness for their blessed position by their respect and obedience. They certainly should not take advantage of their masters simply because they were believers. They should rather set a sterling example in all they do (1 Pet. 4:11; Col. 3:17; 1 Cor. 10:31). After all, “Love does not rebel or look for opportunities to escape responsibility.” 8
TEACHING FALSE DOCTRINE
If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching,… 1 Timothy 6:3
As we have seen earlier, the Gnostic teachers were spreading false doctrine. Paul says that false teaching does not agree with the sound instruction or “healthy doctrine” (hugiainousin) of the apostles (cf. 1 Tim. 1:10; 2 Tim. 1:13). There is something about false doctrine that is inherently sick. Actually, all sin leads to sickness but God’s word and his doctrine lead to ultimate health and wellbeing. The false teachers were given over to questioning, abstruse reasoning, disputing and such things. Their focus was on displaying their so-called knowledge and building up their own pride. Wiersbe says of them, “A believer who understands the word will have a burning heart, not a big head.” 9
Today we probably do not understand the appeal these false teachers had. In the Greek world people were intoxicated with the spoken word. If a person was a good and persuasive orator his financial future was secure and people would flock to him. The early church thus opened up a new and lucrative opportunity for these teachers. In those early days Christian worship services were much more informal than they are today. It was often easy for anyone who had a message to deliver it to the church, be it good or bad. 10
Apparently, there was one teacher in particular upon whom Paul was focusing. The Apostle says of him, “he is conceited and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain” (6:4-5). The Greek word for “conceited” used here is tuphoo (as in 3:6), which means to be wrapped in smoke or mist. It speaks of a beclouded or blinded state of mind resulting in pride. 11 Such a one is interested only in controversies and quarrels that are destined to end in strife.
The popular Baptist revival preacher Vance Havner once said: “Sometimes I have thought I’d like to go back again to the old days at Corinth Baptist Church where I grew up, where we used to enjoy the spiritual food without arguing too much about the recipe…Though I didn’t have much theology in my head I had a lot of doxology in my heart.” 12
This false teacher and his brood seemed to think that godliness was the path to financial gain. “Because money was a chief concern of the false teachers the apostle proceeds to deal with some of its dangers and lays down principles of universal significance.” 13 Paul himself ever refused to use his preaching as a “cloak of covetousness” (1 Thess. 2:5) and he was determined to not let the false teachers get away with such a thing.
It is tragic today in the cyber church that many popular ministers seem to think that godliness should result in financial gain, and lots of it. Years ago there was a book entitled Think And Grow Rich. The new spiritual motto today has tweaked this title to read Pray And Grow Rich or Worship And Grow Rich. These preachers seem never to stop and consider that Jesus felt worldly riches were a real hindrance to the Kingdom of God.
CONTENTMENT AND DISCONTENTMENT
But godliness with contentment is great gain. 1 Timothy 6:6
According to pastor and evangelist Ray Stedman, a common malady of our day is what he calls “destination sickness.” This amounts to arriving at where you always wanted to be and having everything you always wanted to have, only to discover that you do not want anything you’ve got. 14 It seems that millions of people in the western world have arrived precisely at such a destination. Jesus warns us of this problem in Luke 12:15 where he says: “…Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” It was E.K. Simpson who once said: “Many a millionaire, after choking his soul with gold-dust has died of melancholia.” 15
Let us look at the words Paul uses here. Godliness (eusebeia) is defined by Towner as “the genuine Christian life, a faith-relationship with God and a new way of life.” 16 It is a word that generally expresses true religion. The word “contentment” (autarkeia) was a common word in the Greek language and in Greek philosophy, especially among the Stoics. For them it meant self-sufficiency or being altogether independent. For the Stoics of yesterday and the New Agers of today this sufficiency would altogether be found in oneself. However, for Paul it is not to be seen as self-sufficiency but as Christ-sufficiency.17
The scripture says in Hebrews 13:5, “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’” The great Apostle Paul had learned how to be content in all situations. He expresses it in Philippians 4:12, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”
We should be aware that the message of contentment is not just a message for the rich. It is also a message for the poor, who are often longing to be rich. We should learn to be happy with what we have rather than constantly destroying ourselves to gain more. After all, real happiness is not in ownership of wealth. That brings many worries and many sorrows with it. Real happiness is in the enjoyment of what we possess as well as enjoyment of the vast riches around us. Augustine once preached to the poor saying: “Poor people, you listen too. You should pay out too…You have the world in common with the rich. You don’t have a house in common with the rich, but you do have the sky.” 18
“For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it” (6:7). Long ago the ancient sufferer Job remarked: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised” (Job 1:21). The Spanish proverb grimly states it: “There are no pockets in a shroud.” It is also observed that a hearse is never followed by a moving trailer. 19 Psalm 49:16-17 says: “Do not be overawed when a man grows rich, when the splendor of his house increases; for he will take nothing with him when he dies, his splendor will not descend with him.”
Paul says, “But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that” (6:8). When we think about it, there is not much required to keep a person alive. We need food, drink and clothing as basics. Stott says here that the word for clothing (skepasma) means a covering and it could also be interpreted to be a house. 20 Perhaps this is the case, but we should be aware that the Bible does not say too much about our need for housing. In his Sermon on the Mount Jesus speaks a great deal about our need for food, drink and clothing (Matt. 6:25-33). However, he does not say a word about housing. Likely there is a reason for this. In Psalm 90:1, Moses said: “…Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations” (Psa. 91:1). The Psalmist also says, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty” (Psa. 91:1). The biblical ideal is for us to find our dwelling place in God or in Christ.
“People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction” (6:9). Jay Gould was a nineteenth-century American financier who died unlamented leaving some $100 million behind. He is reported to have said with his dying breath, “I’m the most miserable devil in the world.” 21
In more recent times Lenny Dyksrtra , the star baseball player for the New York Mets and the Philadelphia Phillies, earned more than $36 million during his career. With his earnings he purchased a chain of car washes and in addition became an investment guru. He often made appearances on TV giving financial advice. Unfortunately, in 2009 he filed for bankruptcy. His total assets were less than $50,000 while his debts were somewhere between $10 million and $50 million. Soon, he was living out of his car and shortly after, he was charged with federal bankruptcy fraud and arrested for grand theft. He was also booked for possession of a controlled substance. 22 How true the words of Proverbs 23:5: “Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle.”
How often will people do to themselves the very thing they pray that God will not do to them. They pray that he will not lead them into temptation. Indeed, when people drink in wealth and gold it is like drinking in sea water. The more they drink the thirstier they become. 23 Jesus once asked this piercing question: “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?” (Mk. 8:36).
There is nothing wrong with riches themselves but the problem is our attitude about them. Psalm 62:10 says, “…though your riches increase, do not set your heart on them.” Towner says of this, “Nowadays it is difficult to decide which is more dangerous— the love of money in a materialistic society or the Christian’s rationalization for joining in
the chase.” 24
“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (6:10). It is thought by some that this statement was a popular saying in Paul’s time. We do see some Greek philosophers saying similar things. For instance, the Greek philosopher Democritus once called the love of money the “metropolis of all evils.” 25
We need to note again that money is not the problem. It can be a blessing when used for the Lord’s good purposes. It is the love of money that is the problem. Through the love of money or avarice, people are led astray not knowing that they will never find the happiness and fulfillment they seek.
Tim Kasser, psychologist at Knox College, once did a survey of thousands of people. He asked them all questions about their attitudes in acquiring goods and how happy they were. He reported; “the more materialistic values are at the center of our lives, the more our quality of life is diminished.” Lisa Ryan and Suzanne Dziurawiec did a similar survey in Australia. They found that the more materialistic were “less satisfied with life as a whole.” The author of Stop Acting Rich, Dr. Thomas J. Stanley, did a survey on wearers of various brands of watches. He was seeking to determine if the more expensive watches contributed to a person’s happiness. He found that there was no significant difference in happiness in the wearers of exorbitantly expensive Rolex, or the much less expensive Seiko or even the cheap Timex. 26
PAUL’S FINAL CHARGES TO TIMOTHY
But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. 1 Timothy 6:11
Paul gives a great honor to young Timothy here by calling him “man of God.” In the New Testament only Timothy is addressed this way. In the Old Testament this title was reserved for the prophets. 27
In crisp military fashion Paul gives young Timothy several final charges. He is first instructed to flee from all the folly of worldly wisdom and wealth that he has mentioned. Then he is charged to pursue righteousness (dikaiosune). Barclay calls this the most comprehensive of the virtues. It means giving God and people their due.28 He is next charged to pursue godliness (eusebeia), which we have just defined in verse 6.
Next Timothy is charged to pursue faith (pistis) and love (agape), which for most Christians have become rather self-explanatory. Then Paul charges Timothy to pursue endurance (hupomone) or patience. He is then to pursue gentleness (praotes). Some scholars have felt this word almost untranslatable. Wuest citing Trench says, “It is that temper of spirit in which we accept God’s dealings with us as good, and therefore without disputing or resisting.” 29
So Paul gives young Timothy a charge to flee evil things as well as a charge to pursue good things. Augustine in commenting on Paul’s charges to Timothy says: “You see he didn’t just say, ‘Leave and forsake,’ but ‘Flee from,’ as from an enemy.” 30
“Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses” (6:12). The word fight is once again agonizou in the Greek. We cannot tell for sure whether Paul is making reference to the Olympic Games or to a military exercise. 31 Obviously, both require a great deal of agony and struggle. Timothy must struggle and contend with all his might to lay hold of eternal life. It is not that he does not already have eternal life. “Although Timothy had already received eternal life, Paul urged him to seize it, grasp it, lay hold of it, make it completely his own, enjoy it and live it to the full.” 32 This language reminds us a great deal of 2 Corinthians 13:5, “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you— unless, of course, you fail the test?” It also reminds us of Philippians 2:12, “…continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling…”
Paul makes reference to Timothy’s good confession. Several commentators feel that this is a reference to Timothy’s baptism. However, Stott feels that the mention of “many witnesses” indicates that it is likely a reference to his ordination rather than to
his baptism. 33
“In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ,…”
(6:13-14). The eternal life that Timothy is pursuing comes from the giver of life, the one who “quickens” (zoogoneo), or gives life to all things. Here Paul also makes reference to the outstanding and remarkable testimony of Jesus before Pilate (Jn. 18:36-37; Mk. 14:61-62). In his great testimony “Jesus let Pilate know that God was in charge, not Pilate.” 34
Often when Paul gets lifted up in the Spirit he begins to speak in long sentences that are punctuated with commas rather than with periods. Paul is now in the midst of one of his long sentences. He continues speaking of the appearance of Christ, “which God will bring about in his own time— God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords,…” (6:15). The time of Christ’s appearing will not be determined by the time frames of earth or of those who think they are adept at predicting the Lord’s coming. It is the Greek word kairois that is used here and it means God’s appointed or proper time.
Commentators note that the doxology inserted by Paul in this verse sounds a lot like the remnants of a Christian hymn. Some commentators sense a strong Jewish flavor and suggest that it may even reflect a formula used in synagogue worship.35 This verse raises some question of whether it is spoken of Christ the Father or of Jesus the Lord. They even seem to be merged. Long ago the church father Ambrose remarked, “When I speak of the Father, I do not make separation of the Son, because the Son is in the bosom and the solitude of the Father.” 36
Paul says that it is God,“who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen.” (6:16). Since the time of the Greeks until the present day there is much talk about man’s immortal soul. We need to clarify this matter. “God only has immortality in himself; it is his essential possession. He is the source of it. The statement does not teach that man has not immortality, but that God only has immortality in his being; man has received it from him.” 37 Immortality, of course, means that God is not subject to death.
Not only is God immortal but he lives in unapproachable light. Light seems to be one of the outstanding characteristics of God. As 1 John 1:5 states it: “…God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.” We cannot serve God and walk in darkness. John says in his next verse, “If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth” (Jn. 1:6). The big problem with many Christians in this postmodern era is that they are walking in the shadows if not entirely in the dark. When we walk toward the light the shadows will all be behind us. God dwells in such brightness that no one can see him and live (Exo. 33:20; Jn. 1:18). However, at the end of this age we will see him as he is because we will be made like him (1 Jn. 3:2).
Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 1 Timothy 6:17
Once again Paul uses the military word parangelle, which means to give commands or strict orders. He commands Timothy to order the rich not be arrogant and place their trust in uncertain wealth. Long ago the great preacher Chrysostom said, “For nothing is so faithless as wealth…it is a runaway, thankless servant, having no fidelity.” 38 It is only in God that there is fidelity. He not only gives us all things for our enjoyment and our good but he actually gives us power to attain wealth (Deut. 8:18).
“Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share” (6:18). James, the brother of Jesus, once said: “Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?” (Jam. 2:5). There are several ways we can be rich and not be charged with folly. We can be rich in good deeds and we can also be rich in faith as said above. Other ways are mentioned in Galatians 6:10 and Hebrews 13:16. To squander our worldly wealth upon ourselves is the height of madness. Meyer says, “Wealth makes no difference in the audit of eternity. A man cannot eat more than a certain amount of food, and wear more than a certain amount of clothing.” 39
“In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life” (6:19). It is often said regarding wealth that we can’t take it with us. Someone quipped that we can’t even keep it while we are here. However, we can send it on ahead. We can shrewdly invest it in God’s dear people and in his work. When we place our holdings in the bank of heaven we can have perfect peace. Jesus said to us in Matthew 6:19-21: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Paul closes the book of 1 Timothy with two final charges to his young helper: “Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care. Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, which some have professed and in so doing have wandered from the faith. Grace be with you” (6:20-21). This final charge applies to us as it did to Timothy. We too have received a faithful deposit of the gospel. Unfortunately, the devil, the flesh and the spirit of this age are ever trying to weaken and diminish this holy deposit.
The very early church father, Hegesippus (c. 170) is reported to have said:
When the sacred band of apostles had in various ways completed their lives’ work, and when the [next] generation of men had passed away (to whom it had been vouchsafed to personally listen to the godlike wisdom), then did the confederacy of godless error take its rise through the treachery of false teachers. For upon seeing that none of the apostles were living any longer, they at length attempted with bare and uplifted head to oppose the preaching of the truth by preaching “knowledge falsely so called.” 40
Last of all, Paul charges Timothy to avoid what is falsely called “knowledge” (gnosis) or “science” as it is seen in some interpretations. Paul refers to all this false knowledge as “godless chatter.” We can surely take heart from Paul’s last charge, for we live in a time when there are great and ever-increasing fields of false knowledge. We have only to think of the vast field of pseudo-science known as evolution or the fast-growing false philosophical concept that all truth is relative. Paul would not dignify such things by calling them knowledge, but rather he refers to them as bebelous kenophonias or profane and empty utterances.
Several sources I have cited here are from the electronic media, either from websites or from electronic research libraries. Thus in some of these sources it is not possible to cite page numbers. Instead I have cited the verse or verses in each chapter of 1 Timothy (e.g. verse v. 1 or vs. 1-2) about which the commentators speak.
INTRODUCTION TO THE PASTORAL EPISTLES
1. William Barclay, The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1975, 2003), p 2.
“Bit by bit, they came to acquire the name by which they are still known – the Pastoral Epistles…But the title, the Pastoral Epistles, really became attached to these letters in 1726.”
2. Donald Guthrie, The Pastoral Epistles, Revised Edition (Leicester; Grand Rapids: Inter-Varsity Press, 1990), p. 17.
3. Ibid., p. 21.
4. Bob Utley, Paul’s Fourth Missionary Journey: 1 Timothy, Titus & 2 Timothy
http://www.ibiblio.org/freebiblecommentary/pdf/EN/VOL09.pdf, 2013, Bible Lessons International, v. 1:4.
5. Guthrie, The Pastoral Epistles, p. 54.
6. Utley, Paul’s Fourth Missionary Journey, v. 1:6.
Guthrie adds: “In no way can Acts be considered a complete history since there are historical allusions in the other Pauline Epistles which are not mentioned in Acts.” Guthrie vs. 26-27.
7. Kenneth S. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies, The Pastoral Epistles In The Greek New Testament For The English Reader (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1952), p. 13.
INTRODUCTION TO 1 TIMOTHY
1. Utley, Paul’s Fourth Missionary Journey, v. 1:3.
Although it was not the capital city, the Roman governor did live there. Ephesus was a free city. It was the site of the magnificent Temple of Artemis, or Diana as she is known in Latin. This temple was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. We know from scripture that Paul spent more time in Ephesus than any other place in his journeys.
2. John Dummelow, ed., John Dummelow’s Commentary on the Bible,
http://www.studylight.org/com/dcb/view.cgi?bk=53&ch=0″. 1909, Introd.
3. Arno Clemens Gaebelein, Arno Gaebelein’s Annotated Bible,
4. Dummelow, John Dummelow’s Commentary, Introd.
1. John R. W. Stott, The Message of 1 Timothy & Titus (Downers Grove: Inter Varsity Press, 1996), p. 38.
Stott says: “Paul is looking beyond Timothy to the churches. One clear hint of this is that his final greeting is couched in the plural: ‘Grace be with you.’”
2. Barclay, The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, p. 25.
3. Ibid., p. 26.
5. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies, The Pastoral Epistles In The Greek New Testament,
6. Guthrie, The Pastoral Epistles, p. 67.
7. David Guzik, David Guzik’s Commentaries on the Bible, Commentary on 1 Timothy. http://www.studylight.org/com/guz/view.cgi?bk=53&ch=2. 1997-2003, v. 3.
8. Peter Gorday, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, NT, IX (Downers Grove: Inter-Varsity Press, 2000), p. 131.
9. Philip H. Towner, The IVP New Testament Commentary Series, 1 Timothy (Downers Grove: Inter Varsity Press, 1994), vs. 3-20. http://www.biblegateway.com/resources/commentaries/index.php?action=getChapterSections&cid=10&source=1&schap=1.
10. Stott, The Message of 1 Timothy & Titus, p.42.
11. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, eds., The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1956), v. 1, p. 12.
12. Towner, The IVP New Testament Commentary Series, 1 Timothy, vs. 3-20.
13. Michael Denton, Evolution A Theory In Crisis, (Bethesda, Maryland: Adler & Adler, Publishers, Inc.1985), p. 385.
14. Christianity Today, October 26, 1992, p. 30.
15. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies, The Pastoral Epistles In The Greek New Testament,
16. Ibid., p. 29.
17. Exell, Joseph S., Commentary on 1 Timothy, The Biblical Illustrator, http://www.studylight.org/com/tbi/view.cgi?bk=53&ch=1 1905-1909. New York,
18. Barclay, The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, p. 37.
19. Guthrie, The Pastoral Epistles, pp. 69-70.
20. James Burton Coffman, Commentary on 1 Timothy, Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament, “http://www.studylight.org/com/bcc/view.cgi?bk=53&ch=2”. (Abilene: Abilene Christian University Press, USA, 1983-1999, v. 6.
21. Barclay, The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, pp. 31-32.
22. Ibid., pp. 33-34.
23. Guthrie, The Pastoral Epistles, p. 71.
24. Barclay, The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, p. 41.
25. Ibid., p. 39.
26. Martin Luther, Preface To The Letter Of St. Paul To The Romans, Introduction.
27. G. Abbott Smith, A Manual Greek Lexicon of the New Testament (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1921), p. 39, 43.
28. Quoted in Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies, The Pastoral Epistles In The Greek New Testament, p. 31.
29. Barclay, The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, p. 42.
31. James Burton Coffman, Commentaries on the Old and New Testament, Colossians (Abilene, Texas: Abilene Christian University Press,1983-1999), v. 21.
32. William Barclay, The Letters of James and Peter, (Louisville KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1976), p. 128.
33. Barclay, The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, p. 43.
34. Stott, The Message of 1 Timothy & Titus, p. 49.
35. David Kupelian, The Marketing of Evil, (Nashville, WND Books, 2005), p. 21.
36. Utley, Paul’s Fourth Missionary Journey, v. 10.
37. Barclay, The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, p. 45.
38. Nancy Pearcey, Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from Its Cultural Captivity (Wheaton IL: Crossway Books, 2004), pp. 59-60.
39. Patrick Glynn, God: The Evidence: The Reconciliation of Faith and Reason in a Postsecular World (Rocklin CA: Prima Publishing, 1997), pp. 63-64, 77.
40. Stott, The Message of 1 Timothy & Titus, p.55.
41. Barclay, The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, p. 49.
42. Albert Barnes, Commentary on 1 Timothy, Barnes’ Notes on the New Testament, http://www.studylight.org/com/bnb/view.cgi?bk=53&ch=2. 1870, v. 13.
43. Barclay, The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, p. 51.
44. Quoted in Guzik, David Guzik’s Commentaries on the Bible, Commentary on 1
Timothy, v. 13.
45. Clarke, Adam, Commentary on 1 Timothy, The Adam Clarke Commentary. http://www.studylight.org/com/acc/view.cgi?bk=53&ch=2. 1832, v. 14.
46. Ibid., v. 15.
47. Exell, Joseph S., Commentary on 1 Timothy, The Biblical Illustrator, v. 15.
48. Barclay, The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, pp. 49-50.
49. Clarke, Commentary on 1 Timothy, The Adam Clarke Commentary, v. 17.
50. Eusebius Pamphilus, The Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius Pamphilus (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1955), p. 130.
51. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies, The Pastoral Epistles In The Greek New
Testament, p. 37.
52. Barclay, The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, pp. 56-57.
53. Coffman, Commentary on 1 Timothy, vs. 17-18.
54. Guzik, David Guzik’s Commentaries on the Bible, Commentary on 1 Timothy, v. 18.
55. Barclay, The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, p. 57.
56. Quoted in Stott, The Message of 1 Timothy & Titus, p. 57.
57. Gorday, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, p. 149.
58. Stott, The Message of 1 Timothy & Titus, p. 57.
59. Barclay, The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, p. 60.
1. Guthrie, The Pastoral Epistles, p. 79.
2. John Calvin, Commentary on 1 Timothy, Calvin’s Commentary on the Bible. http://www.studylight.org/com/cal/view.cgi?bk=53&ch=3. 1840-57, v. 1.
Calvin says, “Paul appears to me purposely to join together three terms for the same purpose, in order to recommend more warmly, and urge more strongly, earnest and
3. Stott, The Message of 1 Timothy & Titus, p. 61.
4. Ibid., p. 62.
5. Gorday, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, p. 154.
6. Paul Kretzmann, Commentary on 1 Timothy, Kretzmann’s Popular Commentary. http://www.studylight.org/com/kpc/view.cgi?bk=53&ch=0. 1921-23, vs. 1-4.
7. Guthrie, The Pastoral Epistles, p. 80.
Barclay adds concerning eusebeia: “So far as Greek has a word for religion that word is eusebeia.” Barclay, p. 67.
8. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies, The Pastoral Epistles In The Greek New
Testament, p. 42.
9. Barclay, The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, p. 61.
10. Stott, The Message of 1 Timothy & Titus, p. 66.
Towner adds here: “We do not have here grounds for saying that all people will be saved regardless of their disposition toward the gospel. Rather, the emphasis is on access: the gospel is to be preached to all nations….” Towner, vs. 3-7.
11. Dennis McCallum, The Death of Truth (Minneapolis: Bethany House, 1996), p. 200.
12. Charles Colson & Nancy Pearcey, How Now Shall We Live? (Grand Rapids, MI: Tyndale, 1999), p. 23.
13. Gorday, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, pp. 158-159.
14. Peter Pett, Commentary on Paul’s First Letter To Timothy, vs. 5-6.
Utley adds, in speaking of a ransom for all, “This reflects the great truth of Isaiah 53 …The term ‘ransom’ came from the slave market and was used for purchasing a friend or relative out of slavery or military captivity.” Utley, v. 6.
It should be added that the Greek preposition anti can mean “face to face” or “against.” However the dominant meaning in the first century according to Greek scholars Dana & Mantey was “instead of.” (H. E. Dana & Julius R. Mantey, A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament, p. 100).
15. Barclay, The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, pp. 70-71.
16. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies, The Pastoral Epistles In The Greek New
Testament, p. 44.
17. Stott, The Message of 1 Timothy & Titus, p. 82.
18. Barclay, The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, p. 73.
19. Ray Stedman, 1 Timothy, The Pastor’s Primer, vs. 1-7.
20. Clarke, Commentary on 1 Timothy, The Adam Clarke Commentary, v. 9.
21. Guthrie, The Pastoral Epistles, p. 84.
According to Exel, “There is a little doubt as to the exact meaning of katastole here, the only place where it occurs in the New Testament. Alford argues strongly in favor of the meaning ‘apparel.’ But it may also mean ‘steadiness’ or ‘quietness’ of demeanor; and then the phrase will be exactly parallel to 1 Peter 3:5,’The incorruptible apparel of a meek and quiet spirit.’” Exell, v. 9.
22. Ray Stedman, 1 Timothy, The Pastor’s Primer, vs. 8-15.
23. Stott, The Message of 1 Timothy & Titus, p. 84.
24. Stedman, 1 Timothy, The Pastor’s Primer, vs. 8-15.
25. Coffman, Commentary on 1 Timothy, v. 9.
26. Guzik, David Guzik’s Commentaries on the Bible, Commentary on 1
Timothy, v. 4.
27. Kupelian, The Marketing of Evil, (Nashville: WND Books, 2005), pp. 111-112.
28. Ibid., p. 107.
30. Star Parker, Uncle Sam’s Plantation (Nashville: WND Books, 2003), p. 113.
31. Stott, The Message of 1 Timothy & Titus, p. 85.
He suggests that Paul’s instruction are directed only against noisy disturbances and interruptions by women, not against a quiet and orderly exercise of their ministry.
Wuest says here that as in 1 Cor. 14:24-25, “the women were disturbing the church service by asking their husbands questions, presumably about that which was being preached…” Wuest, p. 48.
Pett adds: “Paul wanted no unseemly behavior by over-excitable women in church. It is difficult for us today to appreciate the release that Christianity had brought to the average woman. But the danger was that they could over-react. So they were rather to listen peaceably, treating the teacher with due respect. Pett, p. 11.
32. Utley, Paul’s Fourth Missionary Journey, v. 11.
33. Guthrie, The Pastoral Epistles, p. 85.
34. David Guzik, Commentary on Ephesians, David Guzik’s Commentaries on the Bible. http://www.studylight.org/com/guz/view.cgi?bk=48&ch=5. 1997-2003, Comment on Ephesians 5:22.
35. James Burton Coffman, Commentary on Ephesians, Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament. http://www.studylight.org/com/bcc/view.cgi?bk=48&ch=5″. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999. Comment on 5:22.
Stott includes here: “And this is a caring not a crushing headship, a headship of self-sacrifice not self-assertion, of love not pride, intended to be liberating not enslaving. Nor is male headship incompatible with sexual equality, and more than the assertion that ‘the head of Christ is God’ is incompatible with the unity of the Father and the Son in the Godhead.” Stott, p. 80.
Wiersbe drops an important note saying, “God’s order as a tool to build with, not a weapon to fight with. Warren W. Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, NT (Colorado Springs: David C. Cook, 2007), p. 754.
36. David Guzik, Commentary on Ephesians, David Guzik’s Commentaries on the Bible. http://www.studylight.org/com/guz/view.cgi?bk=48&ch=5. 1997-2003. v. 5:22.
37. Guthrie, The Pastoral Epistles, p. 87.
Barclay adds much information regarding the situation of Jewish women: “It cannot be read out of historical context…It was written against a Jewish background…In Jewish law, she was note a person but a thing; she was entirely ate the disposal of her father or her husband…Women had no part in the synagogue service; they were shut apart in a section of the synagogue, or in a gallery, where they could not be seen…It was absolutely forbidden for a woman to teach in a school; she might not even teach the youngest children…In the Jewish morning prayer, a man thanked God that God had not made him ‘a Gentile, a slave or a woman’. Barclay, p. 74.
38. Exell, Joseph S., Commentary on 1 Timothy, The Biblical Illustrator, v. 12.
39. As quoted in Stott, The Message of 1 Timothy & Titus, p. 77.
40. Guzik, David Guzik’s Commentaries on the Bible, Commentary on 1
Timothy, vs. 9-15.
41. Coffman, Commentary on 1 Timothy, v. 13.
42. Stedman, 1 Timothy, The Pastor’s Primer, vs. 8-15.
43. Utley, Paul’s Fourth Missionary Journey, v. 15.
44. Gorday, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, p. 166.
45. Guthrie, The Pastoral Epistles, p. 88.
46. Barnes, Commentary on 1 Timothy, Barnes’ Notes on the New Testament, v. 15.
47. Exell, Joseph S., Commentary on 1 Timothy, The Biblical Illustrator, v. 15.
48. Stedman, 1 Timothy, The Pastor’s Primer, vs. 8-15.
49. Dummelow, John Dummelow’s Commentary, v. 15.
50. Clarke, Commentary on 1 Timothy, The Adam Clarke Commentary, v. 15.
51. Peter Pett, Commentary on Paul’s First Letter To Timothy, v. 15.
1. Stott, The Message of 1 Timothy & Titus, p. 90.
3. Barclay, The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, p. 78-80.
“All the evidence from the New Testament goes to prove that the presbuteros and the episkopos, the elder and the bishop or overseer, were one and the same person. ..they were the elder men…The eldership is the most ancient of all offices within the church.”
The professor and church historian Williston Walker adds here: “No question in church history has been more darkened by controversy than that of the origin and development of church officers, and none is more difficult, owing to the scantiness of the evidence that has survived.” Williston Walker, A History of the Christian Church (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1959), p. 39.
4. Stott, The Message of 1 Timothy & Titus, p. 90.
5. Barnes, Commentary on 1 Timothy, Barnes’ Notes on the New Testament, v. 1.
6. Gorday, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, p. 169.
7. Clarke, Commentary on 1 Timothy, The Adam Clarke Commentary, v. 2.
8. Dummelow, John Dummelow’s Commentary, v. 2.
See also Wuest p. 53 on this subject.
9. Stott, The Message of 1 Timothy & Titus, p. 93.
10. Ibid., p. 94.
11. Towner, The IVP New Testament Commentary Series, 1 Timothy, vs. 1-7.
12. Gorday, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, p. 171.
13. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, eds., The Ante-Nicene
Fathers, v. 1, p. 167.
14. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, eds., The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1956), v.3 p. 443.
15. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, eds., The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1956), v, 4 p. 192.
16. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, eds., The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1956), v, 7, p. 190.
17. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, eds., The Ante-Nicene Fathers, v, 7, p. 503.
18. Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, NT, p. 756.
20. Stott, The Message of 1 Timothy & Titus, p. 95.
22. Barclay, The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, pp. 91-92.
23. Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, NT, p. 756.
24. Guthrie, The Pastoral Epistles, p. 92.
25. Barclay, The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, p. 82.
26. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies, The Pastoral Epistles In The Greek New
Testament, p. 56.
27. Quoted in Barclay, The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, p. 93.
28. Clarke, Commentary on 1 Timothy, The Adam Clarke Commentary, v. 3.
29. Barnes, Commentary on 1 Timothy, Barnes’ Notes on the New Testament, v. 3.
30. Gorday, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, p. 171.
31. Barnes, Commentary on 1 Timothy, Barnes’ Notes on the New Testament, v. 4.
32. Coffman, Commentary on 1 Timothy, v. 6.
33. Frederick Brotherton Meyer, Commentary on 1 Timothy, F. B. Meyer’s “Through the Bible” Commentary. http://www.studylight.org/com/fbm/view.cgi?bk=53&ch=3. 1914,
34. Barnes, Commentary on 1 Timothy, Barnes’ Notes on the New Testament, v. 8.
35. Barclay, The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, p. 95.
36. Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, NT, p. 757.
37. Guthrie, The Pastoral Epistles, p. 96.
38. Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, NT, p. 757.
39. Utley, Paul’s Fourth Missionary Journey, v. 11.
40. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies, The Pastoral Epistles In The Greek New
Testament, p. 61.
Barclay notes: “As far as the Greek goes, this could refer to the wives of the deacons, or to women engaged in a similar service…There must have been acts of kindness and of help which only a woman could properly do for another woman. Certainly, in the early Church there were deaconesses.” Barclay, p. 97.
Also Dummelow remarks that Chrysostom is reported to have had 40 deaconesses in his great church at Constantinople. Dummelow, v. 11.
Utley says of the term diakonos: “It is an accusative singular feminine form. It is the Greek term for minister/servant. It is used (1) of Christ in Rom. 15:8; Mark 10:45; (2) of Paul in Eph. 3:7; Col.1:23,25; and (3) of deacons in Phil. 1:1; 1 Tim. 3:11.There is evidence in both the NT and early post-biblical church writings for the office of deaconess.”
41. Gorday, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, pp. 175-176.
42. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, eds., The Ante-Nicene Fathers, v. 7, p. 431.
43. Coffman, Commentary on 1 Timothy, v. 11.
44. Stedman, 1 Timothy, The Pastor’s Primer, v. 11.
45. Barclay, The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, p. 97.
46. Gorday, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, p. 176.
47. Robert Jamieson; A. R. Fausset; David Brown, Commentary on 1 Timothy, Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible. http://www.studylight.org/com/jfb/view.cgi?bk=53&ch=4″. 1871, v. 13.
48. Stott, The Message of 1 Timothy & Titus, p. 103.
49. Utley, Paul’s Fourth Missionary Journey, v. 15.
See also Barclay p. 99: “In Athens, the ekklesia was the governing body of the city; and its membership consisted of all the citizens gathered together in an assembly.”
50. Barclay, The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, pp. 99-100.
51. Guthrie, The Pastoral Epistles, p. 100.
52. Stedman, 1 Timothy, The Pastor’s Primer, vs. 14-15.
53. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies, The Pastoral Epistles In The Greek New
Testament, p. 64.
“Vincent says that ‘the abruptness of its introduction may be explained by the fact that it and the words which follow were probably taken from an ancient creedal hymn. In the early Christian ages it was not unusual to employ verse or rhythm for theological teaching or statement.’”
Stott adds: “The hymn consists of three couplets, in each of which there is a deliberate antithesis: between flesh and spirit, between angels and nations, between world and glory.” Stott, p. 107.
54. Guthrie, The Pastoral Epistles, p. 98.
Guthrie is here citing Spicq, who thinks this hymn may be the epistle’s doctrinal high-point.
55. Towner, The IVP New Testament Commentary Series,1 Timothy, v, 16.
56. Guthrie, The Pastoral Epistles, p. 102.
57. Gorday, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, p. 180.
58. Stedman, 1 Timothy, The Pastor’s Primer, v. 16.
1. Stott, The Message of 1 Timothy & Titus, p. 110.
2. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies, The Pastoral Epistles In The Greek New
Testament, p. 66.
3. Barnes, Commentary on 1 Timothy, Barnes’ Notes on the New Testament, v. 1.
4. Coffman, Commentary on 1 Timothy, v. 1.
5. Stott, The Message of 1 Timothy & Titus, p. 112.
Here Wuest quotes Vincent saying: “The metaphor is from the practice of branding slaves or criminals, the latter on the brow.” Wuest, p. 67.
6. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies, The Pastoral Epistles In The Greek New
Testament, p. 67.
7. John Trapp, Commentary on 1 Timothy, John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://www.studylight.org/com/jtc/view.cgi?bk=53&ch=2″. 1865-1868, v. 3.
8. Gorday, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, p. 184.
9. Quoted in Barclay, The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, p. 107.
10. Towner, The IVP New Testament Commentary Series,1 Timothy, vs. 6-10.
11. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies, The Pastoral Epistles In The Greek New
Testament, p. 70.
Dummelow adds on this subject: “Old wives’ fables such as those which are recorded in the apocryphal books of the 2nd cent., and became the mythology of the Middle Ages.” Dummelow, v. 7.
12. Stott, The Message of 1 Timothy & Titus, p. 116.
13. Ibid., p. 117.
16. Guthrie, The Pastoral Epistles, p. 108.
17. Coffman, Commentary on 1 Timothy, v. 9.
18. Guthrie, The Pastoral Epistles, p. 108.
19. Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, NT, p. 72.
20. Stott, The Message of 1 Timothy & Titus, p. 123.
21. Guthrie, The Pastoral Epistles, p. 108.
22. Matthew Henry, Concise Commentary on 1 Timothy, Matthew Henry Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible. http://www.studylight.org/com/mhn/view.cgi?bk=53&ch=3″. 1706, vs. 11-16.
23. Stedman, 1 Timothy, The Pastor’s Primer, vs. 11-16.
24. Barclay, The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, p. 110.
25. Guthrie, The Pastoral Epistles, p. 109.
26. Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, NT, p. 761.
27. Stott, The Message of 1 Timothy & Titus, p. 121.
Faussett citing Alford says: “The practice of reading Scripture was transferred from the Jewish synagogue to the Christian Church (Lk. 4:16-20; Acts 13:15; Acts 15:21; 2
Cor. 3:14)…I think that while public reading is the prominent thought, the Spirit intended also to teach that Scripture reading in private should be “the fountain of all wisdom from which pastors ought to draw whatever they bring before their flock” [Alford].
Faussett, v. 13.
28. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, eds., The Ante-Nicene Fathers, v. 1, p. 186.
29. Guthrie, The Pastoral Epistles, p. 109.
30. John Trapp, Commentary on 1 Timothy, John Trapp Complete Commentary, v. 14.
31. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies, The Pastoral Epistles In The Greek New
Testament, p. 75.
32. Jamieson, Fausset & Brown, Commentary on 1 Timothy, Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible. v. 15.
33. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies, The Pastoral Epistles In The Greek New
Testament, p. 76.
1. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies, The Pastoral Epistles In The Greek New
Testament, p. 77.
2. Ibid., p. 78.
3. Calvin, Commentary on 1 Timothy, Calvin’s Commentary on the Bible, v. 1.
4. Barclay, The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, p. 116.
5. The Christian Post, Feb 20, 2012, by Chris Strong http://www.christianpost.com/news/kirk-cameron-joins-rick-warren-billy-graham-on-strict-female-rule-69218/
6. Barnes, Commentary on 1 Timothy, Barnes’ Notes on the New Testament, v. 2.
7. Stott, The Message of 1 Timothy & Titus, p. 129.
8. Barclay, The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, p. 118.
9. Guthrie, The Pastoral Epistles, p. 112.
10. Barclay, The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, pp. 119-120.
11. Stedman, 1 Timothy, The Pastor’s Primer, vs. 1-16.
12. Guthrie, The Pastoral Epistles, p. 113.
13. Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, NT, p. 763.
14. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies, The Pastoral Epistles In The Greek New
Testament, p. 80.
Stott adds concerning this: “Several commentators suggest that lives for pleasure may be a euphemism for a widow who, lacking dowry, relatives or profession, has no alternative to prostitution.” Stott, p. 131.
15. Gorday, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, p. 198.
16. Barnes, Commentary on 1 Timothy, Barnes’ Notes on the New Testament, vs. 7-8.
Chrysostom claims: “The law of God and of nature is violated by him who does not provide for his own family.” Gorday, p. 199.
17. Barclay, The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, p. 128.
18. Kretzmann, Commentary on 1 Timothy, Kretzmann’s Popular Commentary, vs. 9-16.
Guthrie notes: “The widow musts have been faithful to her husband (literally ‘wife of one husband’) which can only mean that she has not remarried after her husband’s death.” Guthrie, p. 114.
19. Barclay, The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, p. 127.
20. Coffman, Commentary on 1 Timothy, v. 9.
21. Barclay, The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, p. 124.
22. Gorday, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, p. 201.
23. Pett, Commentary on Paul’s First Letter To Timothy, vs. 11-12.
Stott gives us additional information on the widows as a defined class: “There is some evidence that such an identifiable group existed in the early church. For example, Luke refers to ‘all the widows’ in Joppa as if they were a known and even registered group…Writing to Timothy, Paul’s references to a register, and to conditions for registration, certainly suggests the beginnings of a defined group, but it is an exaggeration to say that ‘at Ephesus there is now an officially recognized order of widows’…It is not until the end of the second century, however, that Tertullian gives unequivocal evidence that an order of widows existed. ..In his time and in the third century the registered widows gave themselves to prayer, nursed the sick, cared for the orphans, visited Christians in prison, evangelized pagan women, and taught female converts in preparation for their baptism. Although there may not have been an ‘order’ of widows in Paul’s time, there certainly was a ‘register’ of them, and he lists the three qualifications for registration, namely seniority, married fidelity, and good works.” Stott, pp. 132-133.
24. Stott, The Message of 1 Timothy & Titus, pp. 132-133.
25. Stedman, 1 Timothy, The Pastor’s Primer, vs. 1-16.
26. Clarke, Commentary on 1 Timothy, The Adam Clarke Commentary, v. 14.
For more information on this little poem see the Hymnary Organization. http://www.hymnary.org/text/how_doth_the_little_busy_bee
27. Jamieson, Fausset & Brown, Commentary on 1 Timothy, Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible. v. 14.
28. Guthrie, The Pastoral Epistles, p. 117.
29. Calvin, Commentary on 1 Timothy, Calvin’s Commentary on the Bible, v. 17.
30. Barnes, Commentary on 1 Timothy, Barnes’ Notes on the New Testament, v. 17.
31. Utley, Paul’s Fourth Missionary Journey, v. 17.
32. Stott, The Message of 1 Timothy & Titus, p. 136. Sted17-25
33. Towner, The IVP New Testament Commentary Series,1 Timothy, vs, 17-18.
34. Guzik, David Guzik’s Commentaries on the Bible, Commentary on 1
Timothy, vs. 19-20.
35. Gorday, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, p. 205.
37. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies, The Pastoral Epistles In The Greek New
Testament, p. 87.
38. Towner, The IVP New Testament Commentary Series,1 Timothy, v. 25.
Wuest shares some additional information concerning the laying on of hands. He says, “The laying on of hands always signifies identification. The saint, upon forsaking his sin, is again identified with the local church.” Wuest p. 87.
39. Guzik, David Guzik’s Commentaries on the Bible, Commentary on 1
Timothy, v. 22.
40. Coffman, Commentary on 1 Timothy, v. 22.
41. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies, The Pastoral Epistles In The Greek New
Testament, p. 88.
42. Clarke, Commentary on 1 Timothy, The Adam Clarke Commentary, v. 23.
43. Pett, Commentary on Paul’s First Letter To Timothy, v. 23.
44. Quoted in Stott, The Message of 1 Timothy & Titus, p. 141.
45. Gorday, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, p. 208.
Wuest comments: “As to the words, ‘going before to judgment,’ Vincent says: ‘The meaning here is that these open sins go before their perpetrator to the judgment-seat like heralds, proclaiming their sentence in advance.’” Wuest p. 89.
1. Stedman, 1 Timothy, The Pastor’s Primer, vs. 1-5.
Barclay gives us an estimated population figure on slaves. They would have numbered something like 60,000,000 in the Roman Empire. Barclay, p. 137.
Wiersbe notes how “Some historians have estimated that half of the population of the Roman Empire was composed of slaves.” Wiersbe, p. 766.
2. Barclay, The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, p. 137.
Wuest citing Expositors says that the phrase, “under the yoke,” proves that that slave belongs to a heathen master…. He notes how Master, is not kurios, (lord, master), but despotes, a correlative of doulos, and denoted absolute ownership and uncontrolled power. Wuest, p. 90.
3. Roberts and Donaldson, eds., The Ante-Nicene Fathers, v. 7, p. 378.
4. Ibid., p. 405.
5. Roberts and Donaldson, eds., The Ante-Nicene Fathers, v. 1, p. 20.
6. Coffman, Commentary on 1 Timothy, v. 1.
7. Dummelow, John Dummelow’s Commentary, vs. 1-2.
8. Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, NT, p. 767.
10. Barclay, The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, pp. 142, 139.
11. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies, The Pastoral Epistles In The Greek New
Testament, p. 92.
12. Dick Eastman, The Purple Pig and Other Miracles, p. 123.
13. Guthrie, The Pastoral Epistles, p. 124.
14. Stedman, 1 Timothy, The Pastor’s Primer, vs. 6-19.
Barclay conveys a word from the ancient Greek philosopher, Epicurus, who seemed to have grasped the meaning of contentment. He said, “To whom little is not enough nothing is enough.” Barclay, p. 145.
15. Barclay, The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, p. 146.
16. Towner, The IVP New Testament Commentary Series,1 Timothy, vs, 6-8.
17. Stott, The Message of 1 Timothy & Titus, p. 149.
18. Gorday, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, p. 212.
19. Barclay, The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, p. 147.
See also Guzik v. 7 “It has been wisely observed that a hearse is never followed by a moving trailer.”
Wuest in citing Trench differentiates from the present evil age and the age to come. The word used for “world” is “aion.” Trench defines it: “All hopes impulses, aims, aspirations, at any time current in the world, which it may be impossible to seize and accurately define, but which constitute a most real and effective power, being the moral, or immoral, atmosphere which at every moment of our lives we inhale, again inevitably to exhale.” …The Germans have a word for it – zeit geist, “the spirit of the age.” Wuest p. 102.
20. Stott, The Message of 1 Timothy & Titus, p. 150.
21. Ibid., p. 153.
22. Zac Bassonnette, How To Be Richer, Smarter, and Better-Looking Than your Parents (New York: Penguin, 2012), p. 4.
23. Stott, The Message of 1 Timothy & Titus, p. 152.
24. Towner, The IVP New Testament Commentary Series, 1 Timothy, v. 9.
25. Barclay, The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, p. 148.
26. Zac Bassonnette, How To Be Richer, Smarter, and Better-Looking Than your Parents, pp. 13-14.
27. Stedman, 1 Timothy, The Pastor’s Primer, vs. 1-21.
28. Barclay, The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, p. 151.
29. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies, The Pastoral Epistles In The Greek New
Testament, p. 96.
30. Gorday, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, p. 217.
31. Stott, The Message of 1 Timothy & Titus, p. 156.
32. Ibid., p. 157.
34. Guzik, David Guzik’s Commentaries on the Bible, Commentary on 1
Timothy, vs. 11-16.
35. Guthrie, The Pastoral Epistles, p. 128.
36. Gorday, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, p. 218.
37. Gaebelein, Arno Gaebelein’s Annotated Bible, vs. 11-21.
38. Gorday, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, p. 224.
Clarke comments here: “The uncertainty of riches; things which are never at a stay, are ever changing, and seldom continue long with one proprietor…God gives liberally; man divides it badly.” Clarke, v. 17.
39. Meyer, Commentary on 1 Timothy, F. B. Meyer’s“Through the Bible” Commentary, vs. 11-21.
40. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, eds., The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1956), v, 8, p. 764.