I Timothy 1-3
We are in the Church Stream reading from the Holman Christian Standard Bible.
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Commentary by Dr. Drake Travis
Holy Spirit, your marching orders for us are clear and good and simple to follow. Thank you for such plain talk. This church life is for all of us and thank you for speaking to all of us. Amen.
Timothy had been led to Christ by Paul. He joined Paul on his second missionary journey (see the map in the back of your Bible for a refresher). He was instrumental in assisting Paul with six of Paul letters [II Cor. Philippians, Col., 1&2 Thes, and Philemon]. He plays a large role in the expansion following the founding of Christendom. We remember Paul sending for Timothy to come to Athens [Acts 17:14]. He joined Paul in writing the Thessalonian letters. Their interchanges, collaborations, travels, partings, meetings, tag-teaming (is that a word?!). Timothy was more Timid than a fellow minister Titus. He was not always well. But he was dearly loved by his church in Ephesus, his family and also by Paul who found Timothy to be a wondrous encouragement. One fairly reliable source states that Timothy (born 17 A.D.) was 80 years old, was still the main teaching elder in Ephesus at that time late in the first century. He was preaching the gospel with all fervor when it seemed to be interrupting a procession of the pagan fertility goddess Diana. The pagans, furious about this, beat, dragged and stoned Timothy to death [this was 97 A.D..] He had been working here as a contemporary with the Apostle John. One tradition also says that Mary, Jesus’ mother, had recently died peacefully in this same area. Timothy, like the other heroes mentioned in the Bible, we will meet “on the other side of the Jordan.”
1 – False teachers had found their way in and were trolling around the hundreds of house churches of Ephesus, deceiving people, harassing and questioning pastors. Paul called them ‘wolves’ and for good reason. These and their ilk were the types Titus had to deal with when he ministered in Crete. Paul isn’t talking like a judge with gavel raised in delight to indict. He knows that grace is everything. God’s goodness is the basis of our calling and salvation. And yet as for specifics in dealing with trouble in Ephesus, Paul is kicking the door down and naming names: Alexander and Hymenaeus. These two spiritual vandals were leading the charge against Paul to derail the sound doctrine of the church in Ephesus. Paul has nothing congenial to say about them. There is a strong argument among early church historians that this is the Alexander who later shows up in Rome to testify against Paul in a way that ensures his execution. They were scoundrels that had to be removed from fellowship – and they were.
2 – Paul wants the church to be a praying people, and for prayer to be their top trademark. The leaders of the world in this era were mostly ignorant and not too privy to Christianity. Don’t trash them or criticize them. Pray for them. Paul wanted men to be men of prayer especially. To head your families and head the church, prayer is first – and you’ll need it. Plus If it ‘catches’ with them, it will catch with everyone. Women, who would become the heart of the church, were to be known as good hearted souls, who worshiped, and served and learned and were not disruptive. The forbidding to teach was spoken to a church wherein women predominantly ceased formal schooling at 12 or 13. Men had compulsive training and mentoring in all the fields until they were early/mid 20’s. They had normally ten more years of training than women. Hey, women weren’t stupid. They never have been. Raising children grants the equivalent of a PhD in psychology, Elem. Ed., nutrition, pediatrics, et al. I’m being a bit tongue-in-cheek here but the truth is that the church could not become an institution run by women. Once it did, the end is in sight, because the men would pack and go fishing and not return save the effeminate ‘males’. What men do not take seriously, the children do not follow in. Hundreds of social studies prove this. This church is to be the most enduring institution and vibrant living organism the world has ever known. Not a gestational training nest for feminism that, left to itself, turns averse to domestic tranquility. Those who rail about Paul being anti-women are making juvenile, subjective statements and not seeing the better part of wisdom that Paul is addressing with the long term health of the world in mind. It’s just like a husband and wife riding a horse or a Harley. Someone needs to sit in front and it looks kind of dumb when the woman has the reins/controls with the man sitting in back hanging on to her to find stability. The church was not to be a wuss-house. That’s all Paul is getting at.
3 – The qualifications for elders/overseers are laid out here. These are tenants that had to be adhered to. It’s an unfortunate setting today wherein most elders are simply the most successful businessmen on the church roster. Financial competence does not equate with spiritual insight nor biblical knowledge. A church that is this way just may have a carnal pastor who is controlled by greed. The church such as this has a sketchy future that is not secure in the kingdom. It just may keep right on going after the rapture. And that is not a good thing, Einstein! Deacons (assistants/helpers/managers) of the church were to be closely marked by a list of godly traits listed here. The church at Ephesus received this list first. The Ephesians were the most mature Believers in the first century world. The Ephesians orders have not changed a bit. To have a healthy church body in the modern world, the leadership list back then needs to be followed still. The objective is godliness. Let’s all remember this.
The Thread Through the Streams
God has thought things through long before we even start to think about pondering what we are to be doing. When God directs – pausing to muse, doubting, second-guessing, delaying until we can get our emotions under control isn’t intelligence. It is rebellion. Obey NOW.
-Numbers tells us about Moses getting opposed by Miriam and Aaron and makes is quite clear and quite quickly that they better stop kicking and whining about Moses and do so now. For their pestering of Moses, leprosy struck immediately. The petitioning/prayer/begging was immediate, and then so was the cure. The next two chapters prove that when God has a plan (sending spies into Canaan) and lays it out to us we better move on it now. But they wouldn’t. So they stayed in the desert and experienced decades of death in the heat and sand v.s. entering their Land of Blessing. This is crazy sad.
-I Chronicles shows Saul dying in a pathetic manner. He was always the one who delayed and/or obeyed afterhe took a few stabs at doing things the wrong way. The Israelites gathered around David immediately. They then marched on Jebus’ in Salem and the first to go in is made the general. Timing, expediency, quick responding is lauded here, people. In Ch. 12 did you notice how long it took the soldiers to join David? “…when he was banished from Saul…” They aren’t writhing and hand-wringing and groaning, “gee, what do we do? which of these men is God’s blessed one? ohhh, I’m so stressed..!” NOT! They know- and they go- straight to David.
-Psalms hit’s the matter from the first word! 120:1 – “when I was in trouble, I cried out to the Lord.” He doesn’t pause to do six months of yoga first, or six weeks, or six minutes of it! He calls out as soon as -!
122:1 David and Co. says, “let’s go up to the house of the Lord.” So when do they go? When should they go? How about right now! Today’s generation gets told, lets’ go worship and many agree – but too many stall: they need to get caught up on emails first, check everything on Facebook first from dinner plate photos to cat photos to latte~ photos, and then messaging, and then pinterest, and then and then and then. By the time they get around to obeying, the worship service has ended. The same is going to happen to this generation in this era of history
-Jeremiah in Lamentations is speaking of a crushed city of Jerusalem; complete dismay. It looks hopeless. But he is quick to remember one thing: God’s character; His mercy, and faithfulness keep him from despair. We can train ourselves to quickly return to this mindset. We are able to be so transfixed on God’s goodness that keeping us down would be like trying to hold a beachball under water. When does a beachball return to the surface? How long does that take?!
-In a single verse, Micah 7:7 nails the matter this week [even though he is immersed in a population that has completely slouched into crime and rebellion ] “I will look to the Lord, I will wait for God to save me…” We don’t see Micah stalling on God to find a remedy. He doesn’t wait a while and spend the next few months hunting for a few good men in Samaria or Judea first. He looks straight to the Lord.
-The rulers in Jerusalem ask Jesus a series of trick questions because, well, they didn’t want answers, they wanted to trick Him. He replies right out laser-like and it cuts to the quick. The verse at the end of the silly questions is ominous: “and no one dared ask Him any more questions.” translation: uh, we better shut up now! Jesus urges his disciples to be sober and attentive. Those who are sober and attentive are able to respond to the signs and God’s call immediately. Drunk people cannot. They respond far too slowly.
-Paul urges Timothy to deal with these terrible heretics who are tearing up the atmosphere at the hundreds of house churches all over Ephesus. These joker-men are like weeds growing in the garden. And when should weeds in the garden be pulled? And when is the easiest time to eradicate weeds in the garden? 1:18 says to Timothy, “I am giving you this order about prophecies… ” This is top priority. Paul wraps up his memo to Timothy (in our reading today) “I hope to visit you soon.” He would be there today if he could but will get to Timothy as fast as he can. That’s when all of us ought get to doing God’s will … as fast as we can. i.e. starting praising with our next breath.