Summary: What is to be taught in the Household of God is iterated by the Apostle.

“I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that, if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth.” [1]

The letter to Timothy takes a decidedly personal turn at this point. Paul reveals his intent to visit Timothy soon. We have no indication where the Apostle was when he wrote this particular letter; he includes no clue as to where he is nor even who may have been with him. However, this particular revelation leads me to believe that matters in Ephesus had become serious—so serious that the Apostle felt it necessary to make plans to travel to the area to address some of the problems. It also demonstrates Paul’s deep affection for this young servant of God.

However, it is not the relationship between the aged Apostle and the young theologue that now requires our attention, it is the instruction that Paul has provided. In making this statement, Paul reaches back to include all that he has written both in chapters two and three. These instructions have been given so that Timothy (and, consequently, all who will follow in the Faith) will know what conduct is pleasing in the sight of the True and Living God.

If we were able to visit the New Beginnings Baptist Church of Ephesus, we would likely conclude that everything was shipshape. The congregation had a young pastor that appeared to relate well to the people; he had a dynamic message that stirred the passions of those listening. The congregation had influence throughout the region—the areas surrounding the community knew of their presence and their stance on matters of the Faith. It was the church to belong to. However, in less than three decades, this would be the divine assessment delivered by the Risen Master of the congregation. “I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate” [REVELATION 2:2-6].

Even then, termites were nibbling at the foundations of the congregation; the supporting structure of the church was being weakened. Churches don’t just one day die; they ignore the introduction of tiny seeds that will grow into noxious weeds that will one day poison the assembly, or they fail to prepare the ground to receive the good seed when it is planted. Famished because of a lack of sweet pasture, the hungry flock begins to look for nourishment elsewhere. They drink from polluted wells, contracting serious maladies for which the only cure is radical surgery. Rushing about to maintain what is, they become too exhausted to reproduce. Foundations are critical if a church is to survive beyond the present generation.

As a younger man, I played football. After I had entered graduate school, I still enjoyed watching football and following the various teams. I suppose my favourite team was the Green Bay Packers. It was amazing how that team from small town America could win at football.

One major reason Green Bay was a winning football team during the years of my youth was the Hall of Fame coach, Vince Lombardi. He ensured that the team emphasised fundamentals. His team won championships because they could block, tackle and execute plays better than any other team.

The story is related of a practise following a disappointing loss by the team. At practise the day following the loss, Lombardi stood before the team, held up a football and said, “Gentlemen, this is a football.” He was forcing the team to focus again on fundamentals.

This Letter to Timothy is Paul’s effort to remind Timothy, and through him to remind the Church at Ephesus of fundamentals of church life. These fundamentals appear to have been forgotten in this day. While some scholars argue that the entire letter is included in his statement referring to the response of believers in the household of God, it is entirely reasonable to accept that the concerns addressed in chapters two and three are in view. Accepting these fundamental aspects of congregational life, a church lays a solid foundation for the matters that will be addressed in the final three chapters of the letter.

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