Summary: Staying on track
1 Timothy 1 -Staying on Track
Turn with me this morning to the book of 1 Timothy. Timothy in towards the end of the New Testament, in the second half of the Bible. We are going to spend a few weeks looking at this book, for it is a book that has a lot to say to us in our culture today. Timothy is on of the books called the pastoral epistles, because they give instructions to young pastors. But really it is a book that is for each one of us to know how we should live and conduct ourselves in a culture that increasingly is turning away from following God.
To refresh our memory about this book, I am going to read the first chapter today.
Read chapter 1 - pray.
Remember that when we write letters, we put our greetings at the end of the letter. In the NT times, they told right up front who the letter was from. So, here in verse 1, we see this is a letter from Paul, the apostle. Let’s refresh our minds quickly who Paul was. Paul, formerly called Saul, was a brilliant Jewish Rabbi, who was also a Roman Citizen by birth -- he probably had a Jewish mother and Roman father. He was so zealous to serve God that he went from town to town gathering up Christians and killing them. But one day God opened his eyes, showed him the truth, and he became one of the leaders of the early church. That’s why he is called an apostle -- one sent on a mission -- Paul knew clearly that God had a special plan for his life, just as God has a plan for your life and mine. Paul traveled extensively throughout lower asia, at that time called Asia Minor, the areas we know today as Turkey and Greece, and he preached the gospel, started churches, and established leadership in the churches.
About 15 years before this book was written, Paul met a young man named Timothy. He was brought up in a religious home (2 Tim 1:5), and had a Gentile father (Acts 16:1) and a Jewish mother. His mother (Eunice) and his grandmother Lois had taught him the holy scriptures since childhood (2 Tim 3:15). Paul had shared the gospel of salvation through faith in Jesus the promised Messiah, and Paul had personally led him to faith in Christ. That is why he calls him his own son in the faith (1 Tim 1:2). He becomes so devoted to following Christ that his local church leaders affirm his giftedness for ministry and commend him to Paul. Paul begins a mentoring relationship with Timothy, and Timothy travels with Paul about 15 years. During one of their trips together, Paul leaves Timothy in the town of Ephesus to set things in order there, and that is where we find Timothy as he receives this letter.
Ephesus would not have been the easiest place to pastor a church. The city was devoted to the worship of Diana, a goddess of sexuality and fertility. There was rampant prostitution and sex traffic in the town. Paul had started the church there, but as he left it years before, he had warned the elders of the church there that false teachers would seek to gain an inroad into the church (Acts 20:30). Paul sends Timothy to Ephesus to straighten out the problems in the church there.
Timothy, though, is a young man and sometimes people in the church did not follow his leadership and give him the respect he deserved (1 Tim. 4:12). Timothy was timid and shy (2 Tim 1:6). He sometimes was sickly, or at least was so troubled by the problems in the church that his stomach bothered him (1 Tim 5:23). The tension in the church had him to the point of giving up.
That’s easy to happen in the church, especially for pastors. People manage to say such encouraging things to you. You prepare diligently for the sermon, and on the way out people say things like, “Pastor, you always manage to find something to say to fill up the time, don’t you.” Or, I don’t care what everyone else says, I like your sermons. Or Pastor, did you realize that there are 243 panes of glass in the sanctuary windows. Or Pastor, if I had know you were going to be this good today, I would have invited a neighbor to come. Or my favorite, as the pastor was leaving the church, an old lady came to say her farewells. The pastor tried to cheer her up, and said, Mrs. Johnson, I’m sure that the next pastor will be so much better, and smarter, and caring than me. Mrs. Johnson frowned and said, That’s what they say every time, and it’s never true!