Summary: Knowing who is served is essential for finishing well. The man of God must faithfully fulfil His appointment until Christ returns.

“I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which he will display at the proper time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.” [1]

The text before us is one sentence in the original language. It is as though the Apostle began to speak and became so excited that he forgot to take a breath. After presenting a charge to the young preacher, Paul moves into one of the most beautiful and moving doxologies to be found in all of his writings. The sentence he pens is pregnant with great theology that will instruct the one who takes time to work through all that is said. And that is our goal in this message today. Together, we need to learn something of the Person of Our God and Saviour, discovering in the process an appropriate response to His Person.

Take note that Paul’s charge is specifically addressed to Timothy. The second person singular pronoun is found in many manuscripts; however, it is missing from some of the most important and earliest manuscripts. We expect the pronoun to be present; but it isn’t present in many of the earliest manuscripts. [2] If the command is not directed to Timothy, as we anticipate, it would indicate that Paul was issuing a generalised command that is applicable to all Christians. The result is that scholars cannot decide whether the pronoun should be present or not. It fits with the tenor of the letter, which would account for it being inserted by a scribe at some point. If it is a scribal error, it may indicate that the all Christians are to take the charge personally. I do believe that the charge is directed to Timothy even though the required pronoun is absent. I further believe that the charge is applicable to all Christians—especially to elders as they conduct their service before the Lord God. With this understanding, join me in examining what Paul wrote, applying the charge to our own lives. The flock of God is called to hold elders accountable to what is written; and the elders must take the charge delivered in all seriousness.

A PORTRAIT OF GOD — “I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things…” Five times Paul issues a charge to Timothy. We need to take a moment to think through this business of the charge. The word translated “I charge,” is a compound word from Greek words that mean “along” [pará] and “announce” [angéllō]. When they are combined, they carry the meaning of passing along a message to someone. With time—by the time Paul used the word—it had come to carry more weight, being used of an authoritative announcement or command. This particular word was used in a military setting, carrying considerable weight.

I suggest it will be beneficial to review the other instances of the use of this word in this particular letter. Here’s the first use of the word. “As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith. The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions” [1 TIMOTHY 1:3-7].

Timothy is not to offer suggestions in his role as an elder; he is to speak boldly and with all the authority of the Apostle himself. The pastor is to hold those who imagine themselves to be teachers accountable to the Word. The second use of the word is found in 1 TIMOTHY 4:11—“Command and teach these things.” Though the Apostle’s charge to Timothy in this instance refers to all the matters that have preceded in this letter, “these things” focuses especially on the admonitions that are recorded in VERSES SEVEN THROUGH TEN. The previous admonitions speak of Christian conduct, pastoral relations with the flock and the things he is to teach. His teaching is to be of such spiritual depth that he exhibits maturity both in his lifestyle and in building up the people of God. His goal is to produce strong saints that walk in love and stand firm in the Faith.

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