Summary: Among duties with which Pastors are charged is the responsibility to demand that errant teachers be silent.

“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]

Modern Christendom has witnessed a disastrous failure of the pulpit. Pastors have received this solemn charge: “In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the Word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.” This charge is given specifically because “the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” I suggest that time of which the Apostle warned has now arrived. Therefore, the elder who will please Him who appoints to holy service, must “always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist [and] fulfil [his] ministry” [see 2 TIMOTHY 4:1-6].

Since I speak primarily to those who fill roles among the saints that would not qualify as the work of a pastor, why should I take time to speak of pastoral responsibilities? After all, most of us are able to articulate what we expect from our pastor. We expect him to preach, to visit the sick and to care for the needy, to evangelise in the community, to sit in our multiple business meetings for the church—what else is there to do? It is precisely because most professing Christians are unclear about the work God has assigned elders that we need to define that work. It is because churches in this day are organised on a modern business model that superficially resorts to democracy that elders seldom function as taught in the Word. Most churches are run by a board, controlled by individuals who are unqualified for the task they presume to fill. Consequently, they are dysfunctional and marked by disorder.

The role of elders was being defined during the time Paul laboured in the Roman Empire. The Pastoral Letters complete the definition of pastoral responsibilities begun earlier during the Apostle’s service before the Lord. Contemporary Christians often imagine that they know precisely what is entailed in eldership; however, without consulting what was written by the Apostle Paul, and especially what he wrote to Timothy and Titus, believers will adopt a faulty model for building the congregation. This becomes evident when one considers the many churches today have substituted a business model for the spiritual model outlined in Scripture.

Consequently, one observes that in many instances elders are elected rather than being appointed. Again, a primary qualification for eldership is prominence in the community rather than character and calling as outlined in the Word. A distressing number of elders are unable to teach, in fact they never teach; they are convinced that their role is to exercise authority over the congregation rather than shepherd the flock. So, teaching needs to be provided in this day.

The eldership is a multifaceted responsibility. Throughout our studies in the Pastoral Letters, we will discover the spectrum of responsibilities imposed on the man of God. Fascinatingly enough, the Apostle begins with responsibilities that accrue to the elder in the opening words of his first letter to Timothy. And those responsibilities, perhaps the most easily neglected of all responsibilities for a pastor, are the focus of our study this day.

CONFRONTING ERRANT DOCTRINE — “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 Apostle was going to Macedonia. We cannot say definitively when this was—there is no corroborative account in the account recorded in Acts; however, the context leads us to believe that he and Timothy had been in Ephesus together. Now, Paul needed to go into Macedonia. However, there were problems in Ephesus necessitating someone from the apostolic band to remain behind to address the problems. What is described is not a general dispatch of Timothy as an apostolic emissary, such as when he was sent to the Thessalonians. In that instance, Paul sent Timothy “to establish and exhort [the Thessalonians] in [their] faith, that no one be moved by [the] afflictions [they were experiencing]” [see 1 THESSALONIANS 3:2]. In our text, Timothy has been appointed to a necessary task precisely because critically unhealthy teaching was being disseminated by some wishing to be elders. Consequently, the Church in Ephesus was in extreme danger because of the false teaching given out by immoral people.

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