1 Timothy 4:6-16 – Training in Righteousness

Tonight we are gathering to discuss 1 Timothy 4. Within vv.6-16, Paul gives Timothy personal encouraging advice. The two major parts of this advice are that Timothy should train, toil, and strive for godliness and, alternatively, that he should avoid godlessness and silly myths. Most areas of life require training. From athletes to musicians to soldiers, people train themselves so that they can perform at the highest level when required. The spiritual life is no different. We should always press on towards the goal which is to be like Jesus Christ. Phil. 3:14. This was a common understanding of Paul’s time. Aristotle writes in Book II of his Ethics, that virtue results from exercising and practicing our virtues. Just as someone must train themselves to play the lyre, so must we also train ourselves to act virtuously. Book II.1. Paul’s teaching that Timothy must toil and strive is also reflected in the teachings of the first-century Roman Stoic Epictetus who says that “when a difficulty befalls us, remember that God, like a physical trainer, has matched us with a rugged young man” in order to develop our character. Discourse 1.24. This evening, be prepared (if you wish) to share your own personal spiritual training and how you train, toil, and strive for godliness. What practices do you intentionally employ? How do you practice godliness within the changes and chances of this world?

The second part of Paul’s advice is to avoid “silly myths” and “godlessness.” (v.7). This advice returns us to Paul’s admonition in chapter 1 to avoid “endless genealogies” and “vain discussions.” (1:4,6). In 1 Corinthians 9:24, Paul says that should always be purposeful in our spiritual life, and not like a runner who runs aimlessly or a boxer who beats the air. When we train spiritually, we should avoid those things that do not build us up. Therefore, also be prepared (if you wish) to share with us those things that you avoid (or try or hope to avoid) in your spiritual training.

Dinner is at 6. The menu is teriyaki chicken. Discussion about 6:45. Compline at 8. Hope to see you here.

Let your prayer be completely simple. For both the Publican (God, be merciful to me, a sinner) and the Prodigal (Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you) were reconciled to God by a single phrase. 

St. John Climacus

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