FROM PAUL TO TIMOTHY TO US PART 1
by Jeffrey Hagan
Paul passed on to Timothy some timeless instructions for the Church as well as advice for living the Christian life. Well, from Paul to Timothy to us we get some valuable lessons.
Lesson 1: Chapter 1 - Stop false teachers.
1:3, "As I urged you...so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine..."
It doesn't take Paul long to get to the purpose of this letter. Timothy's role is to act in an authoritative manner. The verb "command," "instruct," "charge" (depending on the translation you are using) means "to make an announcement about something that must be done, give orders, command, instruct, direct, of all kinds of persons in authority" (jesuswalk.com, "1 & 2 Timothy - Leadership and Discipleship Lessons," Wilson, Dr Ralph F.). This doesn't mean to speak in a superior or overbearing manner. Timothy is relatively young, so he needs to be careful about how he approaches this (4:12). But he must speak; he can't keep silent just because that is the easiest thing to do.
Lesson 2: Chapter 2 - Pray for others to be saved.
2:1-2, 8, "First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way...desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling."
As Paul begins to tell Timothy how to conduct oneself in the local church he puts prayer as the first priority. But Paul isn't just talking about the need for prayer in general here. He is talking about the need for prayer as it relates to the salvation of the lost. He repeats some words and ideas in 2:1-8 that show what he is driving at: “all people” (2:1); all leaders (2:2); “God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved” (2:3, 4); “mediator between God and men” (2:5); “ransom for all, the testimony” (2:6); “preacher and ... teacher of the Gentiles” (2:7). Paul is talking about people and not just about a certain few, but about all people. And he is talking about the Savior. His desire is that all would be saved. We don't know who the elect are as we are but mere humans. Therefore, it makes perfect sense to pray for the salvation of others.
Lesson 3: Chapter 3 - Scripture is profitable.
3:16-17, "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work."
The apostle uses two pairs of words “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness." The first pair—teaching and reproof—have to do with doctrine. Positively, all Scripture is “profitable for teaching.” That is why the whole of both Testaments must be studied. “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching...”
The second pair—correction and training in righteousnes—have to do with conduct. God’s Word is useful in a practical way. Those who accept its reproof will begin to find their lives balancing out. Then they will be ready for the Word’s positive effect of “training in righteousness.” The righteousness that has come to the believer by faith is actualized by the training of God’s Word.
Lesson 4: Chapter 4 - We are free from the bondage of legalism.
1:4-5, "For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer."
These words were said in the context of refuting false teachers. The false teachers were trying to impose legalism—dependence on personal moral behavior or rituals rather than on a relationship with Jesus.
At best, legalism is an act of pride—a person’s assumption that they can earn their salvation, or perhaps do some earthly good deed in order to keep it—rather than a true desire to honor God.
At its worst, legalism is used in an attempt to gain superiority over others. The Pharisees are one example of the former. In Matthew 23 Jesus denounces the scribes and Pharisees for heaping burdens of the law onto the shoulders of others while loving to be recognized for their good deeds and position.
Legalism can also be our way of trying to manipulate God—to make Him act in response to our "good" deeds. We rationalize it in our minds, believing that if we sacrifice something for God he owes us something in return.
Lesson 5: Chapter 5 - Treat widows respectfully.
Now Paul comes to a problem caused by the compassion and sense of family created by the Christian faith -- helping widows. How do you sort out who to help and who not to?
The first difficulty is for the church to show the right attitude. Instead of with resentment, godly widows should be given honor and high regard. Paul distinguishes between three groups of widows, and long story short, concludes the older widows who have no other family to help, are beyond marriageable age, and who have lived a life of faith and good works, should receive the support of the church.
Lesson 6: Chapter 6 - Be content with what you have.
6:6-8, "But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world."
The keyword here is "contentment." Being content with one's circumstances and being satisfied with what you have. Paul also mentions this in his letter to the Hebrew church, "Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have..." (13:5). Paul also speaks of being content in all circumstances, "in every situation," in his letter to the Phillipians 4:11-13.
Paul certainly wasn't against wealth, but he saw it as dangerously seductive -- as did Jesus (Like:18:24-25). Jesus also taught his disciples the message of trust vs. storing up wealth (Matthew 6:32-33).