Sunday, February 8, 2015

Paul's Letters to Timothy - Session 1 - Introduction

The Church of Divine Guidance (CDG) Sunday morning adult bible study group is studying Paul's pastoral Epistles (Letters) to his protege, Timothy.  These posts are my notes for each session. Please study with us. You can participate by asking your questions or making comments in the comments below. We welcome your thoughts and prayers.

To finish with our study on justification remember that God, in justifying us, acquitted and absolved us of the punishment for sin which is death. In executing that punishment through the sacrifice of His Son on the cross justice was served and God proved Himself righteous so in effect we are no longer debtors to God’s justice but, we are debtors in other areas and we will never be able to pay Him.

Charles Spurgeon really says it well:

Romans 8:12
Therefore, brethren, we are debtors.

As God's creatures, we are all debtors to Him: to obey Him with all our body, and soul, and strength. Having broken His commandments, as we all have, we are debtors to His justice, and we owe to Him a vast amount which we are not able to pay. But of the Christian it can be said that he does not owe God's justice anything, for Christ has paid the debt His people owed; for this reason the believer owes the more to love. I am a debtor to God's grace and forgiving mercy; but I am no debtor to His justice, for He will never accuse me of a debt already paid. Christ said, "It is finished!" and by that He meant, that whatever His people owed was wiped away for ever from the book of remembrance. Christ, to the uttermost, has satisfied divine justice; the account is settled; the handwriting is nailed to the cross; the receipt is given, and we are debtors to God's justice no longer. But then, because we are not debtors to our Lord in that sense, we become ten times more debtors to God than we should have been otherwise. Christian, pause and ponder for a moment. What a debtor thou art to divine sovereignty! How much thou owest to His disinterested love, for He gave His own Son that He might die for thee. Consider how much you owe to His forgiving grace, that after ten thousand affronts He loves you as infinitely as ever. Consider what you owe to His power; how He has raised you from your death in sin; how He has preserved your spiritual life; how He has kept you from falling; and how, though a thousand enemies have beset your path, you have been able to hold on your way. Consider what you owe to His immutability. Though you have changed a thousand times, He has not changed once. Thou art as deep in debt as thou canst be to every attribute of God. To God thou owest thyself, and all thou hast-yield thyself as a living sacrifice, it is but thy reasonable service.

Introduction To Paul's Letters to Timothy 
Found on

Because we have been justified we are able to accomplish what Paul encourages Timothy to do in his letters to him.

1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus are often called pastoral Epistles because they contain Paul’s counsel to pastors or leaders in the Church. In 1 Timothy, Paul counseled Timothy, a Church leader in Ephesus, to ensure that sound doctrine was taught and not to allow popular untruths to distract from Christ’s teachings. He taught Timothy about the offices of bishop and deacon and discussed the qualifications of those who serve in these offices. Though this counsel pertains to specific offices in the early Church, much of it is applicable to all men and women who serve in the Church today.

The first letter to Timothy and the one to Titus were written during the period of travel and missionary work between Paul's two Roman imprisonments probably somewhere between a.d. 61 and 63.

Timothy was the son of a Gentile father and a Jewish mother, Eunice, and grandmother, Lois.  They and Timothy probably became Christians when Paul first went to the town called Lystra.

Acts 16:1 (NKJV) Then he came to Derbe and Lystra. And behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a certain Jewish woman who believed, but his father was Greek.

2 Timothy 1:5 (NKJV) when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also.

Since children of Jewish mothers are reckoned as Jews, Timothy could have been a full Jew. His mother raised him to know the Jewish Scriptures

2 Timothy 3:15 (NKJV) and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

However Timothy’s father was a Greek, and because of him Timothy had never been circumcised because he had never been circumcised the Jews considered him a Gentile.

Now we know that Paul didn't think that circumcision was a requirement for believers but he didn't think it was either good or bad so why did he take Timothy to be circumcised?

Acts 16:1-3 (NKJV) Then he came to Derbe and Lystra. And behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a certain Jewish woman who believed, but his father was Greek.2 He was well spoken of by the brethren who were at Lystra and Iconium.3 Paul wanted to have him go on with him. And he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in that region, for they all knew that his father was Greek.

Paul may have thought that Timothy would be more effective as an evangelist as a full Jew so he did what he thought was most expedient for the gospel and circumcised Timothy

 It was kind of the same thing that he told the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians let’s go to:

1 Corinthians 9:19-23 (NKJV)19 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more;20 and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law;21 to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law;22 to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.23 Now this I do for the gospel's sake, that I may be partaker of it with you.

Now Paul is writing to Timothy, who is in Ephesus, to encourage him in the task of leading that church. He gives Timothy a lot of advice both for the Christians in the church and for himself.

Paul evidently had a lot of confidence in Timothy because Ephesus was a very important city in the Roman empire and consequently in the Gentile world. 

Paul had turned over the leadership of the church in Ephesus, the most strategic in Asia Minor, to Timothy, a bright, sensitive associate. Timothy was about forty years old at that time, which was considered young for such leadership.

In 1 Timothy, Paul gave Timothy quite a list of subjects to teach, including: exposure of false doctrines, myths and genealogies; law; sound doctrine; the glorious Gospel; mercy; truth; dedication; prayer; harmony; women's dress and appearance; marriage and dietary practices; qualifications for leaders; conduct; sayings, truths of the faith; the practice of religion; relationships with fellow Christians; treatment of widows; ways to select elders; contentment; righteousness; faith; love; endurance; hope in God; and doing good.

There were some problems with some of the teaching and teachers there and Paul wants Timothy to sort out this problem.

1 Timothy 1:3 (NKJV) As I urged you when I went into Macedonia--remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine,

All Religion Is Not Alike

With that as background let’s get into today’s study of 1 Timothy Chapter 1

There was a poster with the headline Christ Consciousness—Mystical Teachings in the Bible," "The mystical core of Christ's teaching has been obscured by centuries of dogma," . The poster was inviting Christians to come to lectures by a young lady who follows a Hindu sect. 

Some Christian leaders today, dismayed by a low level of commitment, seek to create high-intensity groups with special teachings on top of the gospel and add extra rules that regulate the social lives of their members.  These examples from today are the kinds of thing that were rampant in the church at Ephesus. It was these trends that Paul sent Timothy to Ephesus to deal with.

1. How do you distinguish between true and false spirituality?
If it doesn't consider Jesus as divine, or as the only way for salvation then it is false spiritually.  If it says that you have to work to prove yourself worthy of God it is false spiritually.

2.  What did  Paul say was Timothy's job?

1 Timothy 1:3-5 (HCSB)3 As I urged you when I went to Macedonia, remain in Ephesus so that you may instruct certain people not to teach different doctrine4 or to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies. These promote empty speculations rather than God’s plan, which operates by faith.5 Now the goal of our instruction is love ⌊that comes⌋ from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith.

Timothy’s job was to provide sound teaching to combat the false teachings of some in the church. 

3. Finding hidden meanings in the Old Testament was big business in first-century religion. False teachers here tried to mix these "secret teachings" with the gospel. What results were the false teachers getting for their efforts?

It is when these guides of the moral and ethical life have been impaired either by false teaching or
Gnostics thought they had superior knowledge
disobedience, that people turn to vain confusion and conversation.  This heresy considered the body, and all matter, to be evil and, therefore, denied Christ's humanity.  The myths and genealogies were probably Gnostic teachings.

Because Gnostic teaching blurred the lines of morality On the one side was good, which was associated with the spiritual and the immaterial, or God and heaven. On the other side was evil, which was associated with the material universe including humans. God Himself was perfectly good, spiritual, and totally disassociated from the material. 

We talked some about Gnostic  teachings in our study in Colossians.   Gnostics believed that they has superior knowledge about God and the universe.  

Gnostics did not call themselves by that name and there were many variations of what we now call Gnosticism. While some forms were completely unrelated to Christianity, others considered themselves a higher type of Christian. But although Gnostic beliefs varied a good deal, we can sum up a few essential points on which all agreed:
  • The material world is bad, the spirit world is good. The material world is under the control of evil, ignorance or nothingness.
  • A divine spark is somehow trapped in some (but not all) humans and it alone, of all that exists in this material world, is capable of redemption.
  • Salvation is through a secret knowledge by which individuals come to know themselves, their origin and destiny.
  • Since a good God could not have created an evil world, it must have been created by an inferior, ignorant or evil god. Usually the explanation given is that the true, good God created or emanated beings (Archons) who either emanated other Archons or conjugated to produce them until a mishap by Sophia (Wisdom) led to the creation of the evil Archon who created our world and pretends to be God. He hides truth from humans, but sparks of Sophia in some humans fill them with an urge to return to the Pleroma (divine realm) where they belong. - - Gnosticism by Dan Graves, MSL

Gnostics considered themselves Christians and saw Jesus as a heavenly messenger. However, they rejected the idea of God becoming becoming a man, dying and rising bodily. "These beliefs were considered unspiritual and against true wisdom because they entangled spirit with matter." Most Gnostics believe that whoever entered Jesus at his baptism left him before he died on the cross.

God become man? God take on human flesh? Never! Christ must be a lower intermediary or an "appearance"—a shadow of God cast on a screen. But God in human flesh? Unthinkable!

How were they different from the results Paul was after?

The results that Paul wanted was the sources of love: a pure heart, a good conscience, and sound doctrine. The material or humanity could have love and approach God in thier humanity through Jesus because of his sacrifice.

1 Timothy 1:3-6 (NKJV) 3  As I urged you when I went into Macedonia--remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine, 4  nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith. 5  Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith, 6  from which some, having strayed, have turned aside to idle talk, 

4. What materials were the false teachers using ?

1 Timothy 1:7-9 (HCSB)7 They want to be teachers of the law, although they don’t understand what they are saying or what they are insisting on.8 But we know that the law is good, provided one uses it legitimately.9 We know that the law is not meant for a righteous person, but for the lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinful, for the unholy and irreverent, for those who kill their fathers and mothers, for murderers,

The material they used was Old Testament genealogies and other myths and writings about the Old Testament. The Old Testament is referred to here as "the law."

This heresy considered the body, and all matter, to be evil and, therefore, denied Christ's humanity.

5. From what Paul says about the proper use of the law, how does it seem that the false teachers used it?

1 Timothy 1:8-11 (HCSB) 8 But we know that the law is good, provided one uses it legitimately.
9 We know that the law is not meant for a righteous person, but for the lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinful, for the unholy and irreverent, for those who kill their fathers and mothers, for murderers,10 for the sexually immoral and homosexuals, for kidnappers, liars, perjurers, and for whatever else is contrary to the sound teaching11 based on the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was entrusted to me.

Paul says that the law itself is good if you use it right or in accordance with the gospel . In Romans 7:7-25 Paul describes the function of the law in detail. It is "It brings the knowledge of sin and makes sin exceedingly sinful, all with the end of bringing a man to Christ.

The Law does not condemn a righteous man does not mean that the Law has no relation to the righteous; for him, it is a righteous rule which he joyfully obeys in the Spirit.  Since Paul reminds Timothy that the law is not laid down for good men but for people involved in the activities listed, it would seem the false teachers were using it with the wrong group. They were pushing some kind of legalism on believers who were basically obedient already.  They should have been talking to those outside the church who were disobedient so that they would come to the realization that they were sinners and couldn't meet the requirements of the law and would suffer the punishment of law breakers which was death.  The only way was not through more rituals or genealogies or work but only through God's solution, which He gave by His grace, which was the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross for the sins of mankind.   This is what Paul tells Timothy he must teach and stop the false teachers.

Now after telling Timothy that he as to put a stop to these false teachers who want to be teachers of the law and Paul says that he was just like them but, we will have to wait until next week to talk about that.  Read the rest of chapter 1 and chapter two for next week.

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