1 Timothy 1:1-12 – Love as the True Teaching

This week will begin our summer study of Paul’s pastoral epistles. We will be discussing 1 Timothy 1. Timothy was the son of a Jewish-Christian woman and a Greek pagan father, and was a resident of the town of Lystra in south-central Anatolia (Turkey). Acts 16:1. Paul meets Timothy early in his Second Missionary Journey. This journey begins in Antioch and takes Paul through central Anatolia and down the Aegean coast of Greece and includes visits to Philippi, Thessalonica, Athens, Corinth, and Ephesus. Acts 15-18. Timothy will also accompany Paul on his Third Missionary Journey which followed a similar route. Acts 18:18-21:14. During these journeys, Paul often had Timothy either remain in a town or journey to another town without Paul such as to Thessalonica (1 Thess. 3:1-10), Macedonia (Acts 19:22), Corinth (1 Cor. 4:17), Philippi (Phil. 2:19), or Ephesus (1 Tim. 1:3) (which is where this letter finds Timothy). Paul also includes Timothy in his greetings in his letters to the Philippians, Thessalonians, and Colossians. Timothy was one of Paul’s primary companions and in whom he placed much trust.

Paul’s letter to Timothy begins with a typical Paul greeting. In the greeting, Paul refers to Timothy as “my true child in the faith.” (v.2). Paul has previously used this terminology for Timothy in other correspondence. (1 Cor. 4:17Phil. 2:22). In all of Paul’s other letters, he ends his greeting with the words “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (e.g. Rom 1:7b). In Timothy’s greeting, Paul inserts the word “mercy” between grace and peace. (1 Tim. 2b).

The first issue Paul addresses in this letter is that of “false teachers.” (vv.3-11). The first type of false teachers are those that engage in speculative teachings and occupy themselves and others with myths, endless genealogies, and vain discussions. (vv. 3-4). These teachers are generally thought to be Jewish-Christians who are engaging in fanciful additions to and interpretations of the Hebrew Scriptures. The problem with these teachers is that their teachings are unprofitable and distract the congregation from true useful teachings. These teachers are not bringing greater knowledge of God or bringing others closer to Christ but simply engaging in speculative discourse which is its own end. The second type of false teacher are the moralists that Paul has previously addressed in Galatians. (vv.8-11). Here, Paul places the usefulness of the Commandments within context. As Paul points out, the law is to provide correction and restraint for the ungodly, not those in the household of faith. (Notice how Paul’s exposition of the law in verses 9-10 tracks the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20).

The antidote to meaningless discussions and legalistic morality is a love that comes from “a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith.” (v.5). These are the guidelines under which our own discussions on Tuesday night should proceed. Our teachings and discussions should always be “for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ.” Eph. 4:12-13.

Dinner is at 6. The menu is pizza. Discussion about 6:45. Compline about 8:00. We look forward to having you join us, and please bring a friend or neighbor.

Since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus . . . let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 

Hebrews 10:19, 22

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