Summary: When do we run and when do we stand firm and fight, Paul offers some insight to Timothy.
If you had to write to a young pastor giving him instructions for pastoring his church and for keeping his spiritual life intact what would you say to him? What spiritual and theological truths would you try to impart in order that he would be able to do his job effectively. Would your instructions fill volumes or would they be fairly simple? How much time and how many words would you spend reiterating the basics of salvation not to mention the necessity of a pure and holy life style?
Remember that the young man will be ministering in a hostile environment where Christianity was the exception rather then the norm. Where paganism was the accepted practice and people lived hedonistic life styles interested in only satisfying their own lust and desires. Not only that but there appeared to be trouble within the church with people teaching doctrines that ran contrary to the gospel and orthodox teachings of the church.
Not an easy task for a preacher of any age and yet Timothy was facing circumstances very like that when Paul wrote to him in this first letter. Up to now the letters that we have looked at have all been corporate letters that is letters written to the collective members of a church. And those letters would have been read aloud on Sunday as the church gathered together for worship, probably discussed, perhaps debated.
I’m pretty sure that some people would have been offended by some of the things Paul had written and perhaps some had left the church because of those letters. Remember Paul had discussed specific sins in some of these letters and talked about money and peoples giving habits, I’ve seen people leave churches when those things were mentioned.
He used letters to encourage the believers but also to chastise them, to correct them. And most people prefer to be encouraged as opposed to being corrected.
The book of 1 Timothy is different then the previous letters that we have looked at. This book is a personal letter; it wasn’t addressed to the congregation in the Ephesian church it was addressed to the pastor of the Ephesian church. And so as we look into the book of 1 Timothy understand that we are reading somebody else’s mail this morning. 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus and Philemon all fall into this category and are known now as the Pastoral Epistles or letters.
1 Timothy is the 15th book of the New Testament meaning that we are well and truly half way through the New Testament. It was written by Paul and was addressed this way
1 Timothy 1:2 . . . written to Timothy, my true child in the faith. May God our Father and Christ Jesus our Lord give you grace, mercy, and peace. Timothy was first introduced to us in the book of Acts chapter 16, we are told that he was a young disciple who lived in Lystra and that his mother was Jewish and his father was Greek. If we pull down our map we discover Lystra is here in the Roman Province of Galatia. And while they thought quite highly of themselves, enough that they referred to themselves as “The most brilliant colony of Lystra.” William Barclay in his Daily Study bible said and I quote “. . . in reality it was a little place at the ends of the civilized earth”
We are also told that Timothy was well thought of by the believers in that city and obviously impressed Paul because Paul took him with him when he left. And over the next number of years he became Paul’s closest assistant. And Paul often sent Timothy to personally represent him when churches needed correction. In 1 Corinthians 4:17 Paul writes That is the very reason I am sending Timothy—to help you do this. For he is my beloved and trustworthy child in the Lord. He will remind you of what I teach about Christ Jesus in all the churches wherever I go. And again in Philippians 2:19 If the Lord Jesus is willing, I hope to send Timothy to you soon. Then when he comes back, he can cheer me up by telling me how you are getting along.
Timothy even accompanied Paul to Prison in Rome and from there became his personal trouble shooter, so to speak. And so it would appear that Timothy is in the City of Ephesus, if we pull down our map again you can see that Ephesus is in what is now Turkey, to deal with the heresy and false teachings in the church.
The letter was written around AD 63, shortly after Paul had been released from prison and the reason was to give Timothy some advice on confronting false teachers.
And so for six chapters we find some practical wisdom and advice for some very specific problems but problems that are still encountered in various ways 2000 years later.