Keep on Keeping On

Posted: March 20, 2016 in 1 Timothy, Route 66, Uncategorized

Route 66: 1 Timothy, “Keep on Keeping On”

Those of us who remember the 70s remember the phrase “Keep on truckin!” or its close cousin “Keep on keeping on!” The idea is simple: stay steadfast.  Keep on doing whatever it was you were already doing, regardless of the obstacles you face along the way.  It’s a bit of quick encouragement to those who are struggling.

If the lingo had been around, Paul might have used it with Timothy (and Titus, and other young men) as he encouraged them in the ministry.  Paul was well acquainted with obstacles, and as he left young leaders behind to help carry on the work, he encouraged them to endure – to press on – to do what was necessary to stay faithful to the calling of the gospel.

As ought to be obvious, the author is Paul and the audience is Timothy.  This remained virtually unquestioned until the rise of theological liberalism in the past 100-150 years or so.  Various objections were raised on stylistic and theological grounds, with the thought that Paul didn’t use exactly the same words as other letters or address all of the same issues as other letters.  In reality, the differences are minor & ought to be expected.  After all, Paul is writing later in life (as we’ll see) and he has a very specific audience.  We ought to expect a letter written to his friend and colleague Timothy to sound different than what he might have written to the church at Rome (which was written early & to a group he had never met).  Apart from sheer hostility to anything Biblical, there’s no solid reason to doubt Paul’s authentic authorship.

We find Paul and Timothy separated at the time – which is unusual for us in our study of the New Testament thus far.  Although there have been occasional instances where Paul sent Timothy to a particular city for a report (such as what happened with the Thessalonians), to this point whenever Timothy has been mentioned in the Scriptures, he’s mentioned as accompanying the apostle Paul.  This time is different.  Time has passed, and Timothy has started to engage in ministry of his own.

That all brings us to the date & occasion for writing the letter.  Some have had trouble fitting 1 Timothy into the Acts timeline, and for good reason…it’s not there.  We need to remember that although the book of Acts ended with Paul under house arrest in Rome, he did not remain that way.  At some point (probably around 62AD) Paul was released, and he continued travelling & ministering until he was later arrested & killed (likely in 67AD).  That provides a 5 year window into which the pastoral epistles (1-2 Timothy, Titus) easily fall.  By this point, Timothy had spent quite a bit of time with Paul & was ready to be sent out on his own, back to some of the churches he had helped Paul plant, and that’s what he did.

Timothy had linked up with Paul relatively early, perhaps even being a convert of Paul during his initial ministry.  Acts 16 tells us that Timothy was from the town of Lystra, a town in Asia visited by Paul on all three of his missionary journeys.  When Paul first visited (along with Barnabas), the town was filled with idol-worshippers, and the people imagined Paul and Barnabas to have been gods themselves (Acts 14).  When Paul later returned with Silas, we’re told that Timothy joined the missionary party and began travelling with them from that point.  Timothy had quite a godly heritage beyond his interaction with Paul in that his mother and grandmother were both believers (2 Tim 1:5).  His spiritual background is somewhat interesting, in that his father was a Greek while his mother was Jewish, and to avoid any controversy or stumbling block with him, Paul ensured that Timothy was circumcised prior to engaging in any ministry (Acts 16:3).

In any case, Paul and Timothy grew extremely close.  Through Acts and the various Pauline letters, it becomes apparent that Paul saw Timothy not only as a disciple or a colleague, but as a beloved son in the faith.  He was extraordinarily trusted by Paul, and that’s the reason Paul sent Timothy to lead the church in Ephesus while he continued to travel around Macedonia & elsewhere after his Roman imprisonment.  Timothy was still young at the time (4:12), but he was trustworthy, proven, and capable.

That Paul sent Timothy to Ephesus is itself interesting.  This was a church at which Paul spent the better part of three years prior to his first imprisonment.  He wrote to them at least once, and yet they apparently still needed apostolic involvement.  If the apostle himself couldn’t be there, he could at least send his most trusted representative, which he did.  The church was in danger of giving into false teaching other error, and Paul’s charge to Timothy was to do what it took to keep the church from going off the rails.  It may have been difficult, but Paul needed Timothy to stay steadfast: to keep on keeping on.

Considering the letter’s intent – that Paul wrote it to Timothy as a young (though well-qualified) overseer of the elders in Ephesus – we might wonder what purpose 1 Timothy (or any of pastoral letters) have for “normal” Christians.  IOW, if this is written for a pastor, why should lay-people bother reading it?

First of all, there are plenty of indications that Paul didn’t only write this letter for Timothy.  Many of the things that Paul shares with Timothy are things that didn’t need to be written down.  At least, not for someone who travelled as extensively with Paul as Timothy did.  Sure, some reminders of Paul’s ministry and experiences might need to be stated from time to time, but surely much of this was in Timothy’s spiritual DNA (so to speak).  Paul wrote these things not just for Timothy to know them, but for other people to know that Timothy knew them.  When Paul wrote about church leadership (for example), he wanted all of the church to know what to look for in leaders.  That way, if Timothy experienced any opposition, the people could know what Paul himself had said.  In addition, Timothy (or any other personal representative of Paul) wouldn’t always be in Ephesus.  The church needed to know what to do after Timothy departed (or died).

Thus, everyone in the church needs to know what Paul wrote in these personal letters.  What he writes to ministry leaders applies to everyone in the church, because we are the ones responsible for our decision to follow whatever person is standing at the pulpit.  Many unqualified or false teachers would simply disappear if they had no one listening to them.

Additionally, what Paul wrote to Timothy concerns certain things that never change – no matter what your role may be in the church.  Our dependency upon Christ is the same.  Our need for solid doctrine is the same.  Our need to stand firm in the faith is the same.  Whether you’re a ministry leader or a new convert, some things are common to all Christians, and Paul wrote to Timothy of some of those things.  Thus we need to pay careful attention.

1 Timothy is the longest of the pastoral epistles, but its six chapters are not all that long in themselves.  The chapter divisions due fairly well in dividing the content, though there will be a bit of overlap along the way.

  • First charge (1) – Paul gives the background for the letter and sets up his reason for writing.
  • Church life (2) – Why to pray and how to pray/congregate together.
  • Church leadership (3) – Qualifications for leadership positions within the church.  Seems to indicate that the church was growing beyond a single congregation.
  • Church doctrine (4) – Warnings about false doctrine & exhortations to hold fast to the truth.
  • Church groups (5) – How to interact with widows and other various groups within the church.
  • Final charge (6) – Final exhortations and instructions.

First charge
Greeting (1:1-2)
It’s a standard greeting from Paul, but there are a few things that stand out.  (1) Paul introduces himself as an “apostle.” Considering he normally does that with churches that require discipline, why here?  Why with a young man whom he knows so well?  This is one of the indications that Paul desired the letter to be read aloud.  Yes, it was sent to Timothy by his good friend & mentor Paul, but it was also meant to be heard by the entire church at Ephesus, which was planted by the apostle.  (2) Along the same lines, Paul writes with much authority.  This letter was being sent “by the commandment” of the Father and Son – who notably are on the same level & thus seen by Paul as co-equal members of the Triune Godhead.  But the letter has God-ordained impetus & authority…it’s important! (3) Timothy himself was not being disciplined by Paul.  Timothy is specifically called “a true son in the faith” & thus it’s clear that Paul bore him no ill-will.  Any disciplinary kind of issues (i.e. warnings) were addressed to the church at large.

Otherwise, there is some great theology here regarding the roles of Father & Son in the Trinity.  Time limits us from getting into it, but it’s interesting that not only are God the Father & Jesus Christ placed on the same level (twice!), but it is the Father who is described as Savior, while Jesus is our hope.  Grace, mercy, and peace comes from both.

Teach the law rightly (1:3-11)
Paul’s charge here is seen in the background that he gives.  What he’s doing in this letter is the same thing he “urged” Timothy to do when Paul first “went into Macedonia.” IOW, there isn’t going to be a lot of new information here.  This is an encouragement to continue doing what it is Paul had always taught him to do.  Timothy had work to do in Ephesus, and he was to “remain” there & see it done.

The primary issue Paul warns about is false teaching.  Although Paul taught in Ephesus on a near-daily basis for three years, he was well aware of the potential rise of false teachers among them.  Prior to his arrest in Jerusalem & 1st Roman imprisonment, Paul warned the church of this very thing. (Acts 20:29-30)  Apparently the rise had begun, and Timothy was needed to guard the church from its harm.

  • What’s so astounding about this is that of all churches, Ephesus had no excuse to give ear to false teaching!  They had been founded by the apostle Paul, had at least one apostolic letter addressed to them, had Timothy as one of their leaders, and later had the apostle John among them as well.  And yet, they still were led astray!  When Jesus later dictates a letter to the church, He commends them from testing some false apostles, but He also chastises them from leaving their first love (Rev 2:2-4).  All the apostolic teaching in the world couldn’t keep them in the faith, if they weren’t willing to abide in it themselves.  We are not saved through our own efforts, but we’re not saved by osmosis either.  If we become personally apathetic to Jesus, then we’ll be pathetic as Christians – if we’re even recognizable as such.  We have to intend to walk with Christ, and then rely on the power of the Spirit to do so.

What was the false teaching Ephesus faced?  Paul doesn’t give a direct label to it, but it seems to do with some form of false Judaism.  People were getting into endless debates about minor things that didn’t matter (“fables & endless genealogies” 1:4), by people who desired to teach the law, but not knowing how to do it (1:7).  To debate about the tradition of the rabbis might be well & good for a Jew (and not even then), but it has no bearing on the life of a Christian.  All of the commandments are summed up in a word: love (Gal 5:14), which is what Paul reminded them of (1:5).

The fact is that the law can be good in the ministry of the gospel of grace, but it has to be used rightly (or “lawfully,” 1:8).  The law correctly points out our sin, showing us our need to be saved.  It shows us where we are “lawless and insubordinate,” etc. (1:9-10), and that’s exactly what we need pointed out to us if we are ever to seek a Savior.  At that point, when we see our need, that’s when we’re ready for “the glorious gospel” (1:11).

That’s what happened in Paul’s own life…

Teach the gospel personally (1:12-17)
Paul briefly recounts his own testimony here, remembering his previous life of persecution and insolence against Christians, and what God did in his life after Paul finally came to faith in Jesus Christ.  None of that was made possible to through the law; it was only because Christ Jesus “enabled” (1:12) Paul by grace.

What happened to Paul is what Timothy (and all Christians) are supposed to proclaim to all the world: 1 Timothy 1:15, "This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief." Jesus came to save sinners.  Like you – like me.  WE are the sinners, and WE are the ones that not only needed to be saved, but can be saved due to the work of Jesus Christ.

  • Question: was Paul truly the “chief” of all sinners?  From his perspective, sure.  After all, he persecuted Christians to the death, trying to stomp out the movement.  But Paul’s not the only person in history to have done that.  Even if we haven’t persecuted the church, we’ve all blasphemed the Lord in other ways.  Truth be told, I believe I am the chief of all sinners, because I know how vile and wicked my heart is.  But that’s the point.  When we start to see our own sin for how bad it really is, that’s when we start to see our Jesus for how good He really is.

How good is Jesus?  Paul cannot write of the mercy of Christ without penning a benediction: 1 Timothy 1:17, "Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen."  That Jesus would shower us with His grace is only due to the wisdom and majesty of God.  Hallelujah & amen!

Fight the good fight (1:18-20)
Paul had earlier called upon Timothy to charge others in regards to doctrine (1:3); now Paul directly charges Timothy himself.  Timothy had been prayed over & prophesied over (1:18); now he was to stay faithful.  He was to carry on and fight.  He was to “wage the good warfare,” (1:18), guarding himself from a potential “shipwreck” of his faith and ministry (1:19).  Others had fallen away – Paul’s desire for Timothy was for him to keep on and stay strong.

  • Question: Is this a bit extreme?  After all, to use language of “warfare” seems intense in regards to church doctrine and leadership.  It is intense, because it is a war!  Remember that we do not fight against flesh & blood, but against spiritual powers & principalities (Eph 6:12).  We have an enemy, and he wants to see our faith shipwrecked!  One of the easiest ways for him to do that is to get our eyes off of Jesus, and our mind off of the truth of the Bible.  When we get distracted – when we allow whatever teaching might be popular at the time to populate our mind – that’s when we get into spiritual trouble.  Stay grounded in the word!  Stay grounded in Jesus!  That’s how we go to war!

So Paul has given the charge to his young friend: stay grounded.  Now what?  Here are the various ways within the church in which he is to remain grounded…

Church life
Pray for everyone (2:1-7)
This ought to be common sense for Christians, but it still needs to be said: pray for people.  Which people?  ALL people.  Even the people we don’t like?  Especially the people we don’t like.  It couldn’t be clearer here: we are to pray for “all men, for kings and all who are in authority.” (2:2)  Keep in mind that Paul’s earthly king at the time was none other than Caesar Nero, who ended up killing Christians in horrendous ways & even killed Paul.  Nero was either crazy or evil (most likely both), and he was still supposed to be prayed for by Christians.  All of the Roman government officials were.  Why?  Because all were sinners in need of salvation.  All of them needed to be saved.  As Paul wrote of God, 1 Timothy 2:4, "who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth."  Ungodly leaders need God, and their ungodliness ought to be a reminder for us to pray for them.

  • This is especially important for us to remember as we get further & further into an election year.  There is a very good possibility that we will end up with a government we neither like nor agree with.  However, we’re still to pray for them.  That is a duty we have as believers.  Pray for their wisdom – pray for them to protect Christians – and most of all, pray for them to become Christians.

Roles of men and women (2:8-15)
How to pray is the next issue, and Paul divides it somewhat between men and women.  To both, the instruction is to pray fervently & faithfully.  Hands are to be lifted to God (2:8) – not placing so much importance on physical posture, as much as the idea of inward surrender.  Men and women are to trust God in our prayers, knowing that God’s will is always best.

With that said, Paul goes on to write of how women are to be received in the public congregation.  Some of this can be easily misapplied if we forget the original context in which Paul was writing.  To this point, women had often been kept out of congregational worship, and whatever spiritual instruction they received was second-hand.  What Paul does here is ensure their inclusion in worship, as long as it is done with godliness, humility, and order.  They were to dress appropriately (something that likely needed reminding in the heavily pagan city of Ephesus), and they were to learn silently (without causing disruption to congregational worship).  Again, be careful not to take this out of context.  Paul never once teaches that women are never to speak nor participate in any kind of ministry.  The Bible clearly shows women as prophetesses (Anna – Lk 2:36, Philip’s 4 daughters – Acts 21:9).  Paul personally writes of women prophesying (1 Cor 11:5), and worked with women while in ministry (Lydia – Acts 16:14, Priscilla – Acts 18, etc.).  There are even some indications that the messenger (Phoebe) who carried Paul’s letters to the Romans was the one who first read it to the church, and she was likely received as a deacon (Rom 16:1-2).  Bottom line: Paul brings women into the church; he doesn’t exclude them.  He does maintain certain roles for both men & women, but this was something that was taught from Genesis onward. (1 Tim 2:13-14)

From the general congregation, Paul turns his attention to leadership…

Church leadership
Bishops (3:1-7)
First of all, we need to keep in mind that “bishop” is not the office that is envisaged by the Catholics, Episcopalians, Orthodox, etc.  That sort of structure did not exist during the time that Paul wrote & didn’t even begin to develop for several more decades to come.  The word “bishop” simply means “overseer,” and many arguments can be made that the word is used synonymously with “elder” in the New Testament.  (That said, I personally argue that a bishop/overseer has a bit of a distinction.  He is an elder, but a first-among-equals.  That’s a debate for another time.)

What becomes interesting as Paul writes about the qualifications for a bishop is how much his list differs from what Christians normally look for today in regards to pastors.  Certainly Paul places a high priority on doctrine (as is evident throughout the letter), but there is no specific educational requirement listed.  The bishop must be “able to teach” (3:2) & not being “a novice” (3:6), but that’s all Paul writes.  Otherwise, Paul looks at character.  What is far more important to Paul is who the candidate for bishop is a person, rather than what his speaking résumé or academic CV looks like.  Godliness, humility, and a loving family are far more indicative of potential pastoral leadership than someone’s education or speaking ability.

  • It doesn’t matter how well someone can teach if he’s a jerk.  Be wary of celebrity pastors with questionable character.

Deacons (3:8-13)
What’s interesting here is that the qualifications for deacons are so very similar to that of bishops.  Their roles within leadership are different (deacons would be more service-oriented, as opposed to teaching), but the need for godly character is the same.  A person’s life is a far better guide to someone’s leadership potential than whatever skillset they might bring to the table.

  • That’s not to say skills are unimportant.  They are!  Incompetent leadership is not desirable by any standard.  But godliness trumps competence in priority.

Creed of the church (3:14-16)
Once Paul addressed what to look for in those who lead the church, he writes of the church itself.  Why is the church worth so much effort to protect?  Because it is “the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” (3:15)  It is the church to which God has chosen to entrust the gospel, thus we need godly men in leadership to ensure the gospel remains untainted.

And what/who is the gospel about?  Jesus.  At this point, Paul recites what seems to have been an early accepted creed within the church, giving the basics of who Jesus is & what He has done.  1 Timothy 3:16, "And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh, Justified in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Preached among the Gentiles, Believed on in the world, Received up in glory."

Church doctrine
Future false teaching (4:1-5)
So Timothy (and Ephesus) knows what to look for in godly leadership.  Now Paul warns them of what to beware in regards to false teachers.  False teachers would come, there was no doubt about it.  This was something the Holy Spirit made “expressly” clear (4:1).  In the “latter days” (i.e., the days when we await the return of Christ…now!), some people would leave the true gospel to go follow lies.  People who outwardly seemed to be born-again believers would end up following demonic doctrines (4:1), and they would give in to all kinds of legalism & asceticism.  Some would forbid to marry – others would forbid certain foods, etc.  All of it would be works-righteousness heresy that departs from the true gospel of grace.  After all, our diet neither saves us nor damns us.  God created all things as good (4:4), and our hope is in the gospel of Christ; nothing else.

  • Be careful of anyone who claims: “Just do XYZ, and you’ll be more holy – more spiritual – more saved.”  If our hope is not in Jesus alone for salvation, then we have no hope at all.  Obviously, that’s not to say that we do nothing for Jesus after we come to faith, but we cannot make ourselves any more a child of God than what Jesus has already done.  We cannot add to our salvation in that way.

Profitable godliness (4:6-11)
Instead of asceticism, Paul encouraged Timothy to remain nourished & grounded in the words of “good doctrine” (4:6).  Godliness was the goal; not false hopes and fables.  It didn’t matter what someone did to their body if their soul wasn’t secure in Jesus, and that’s the end to which Paul labored (4:10).  And of course, that was what Timothy was supposed to teach (4:11).

A pastor’s job description (4:12-16)
Knowing that Timothy was supposed to teach with authority, Paul needed to encourage him to do so boldly.  With Timothy’s young age, it would prove to be a challenge, but it needed to be done.  Timothy may have been young, but he wasn’t the novice Paul warned against earlier (3:6).  Timothy had proven himself incredibly qualified, and Paul had seen it with his own eyes.  Thus no one was to “despise” his youth (4:12), and Timothy was free to live as an example to young & old alike.

His primary duties?  Preach the word (4:13) – use the gifts (4:14) – pray (4:15) – guard himself (4:16).  This is the basic job description of every pastor.  It isn’t the corporate business-leader model, but it is Biblical.  Preach the gospel & teach the Scripture boldly and without apology.  Use the spiritual gifts entrusted to you by God, not letting them go to waste.  Mediate upon and pray through the word of God, spending quality time at the feet of Jesus.  Walk in holiness, guarding oneself from theological error.  That model might not sell out leadership conferences, but it most certainly is effective!

Of course, church leadership isn’t only about a pastor’s personal duties.  He also has to relate with those around him…

Church groups
Seniors and juniors (5:1-2)
It’s just a brief word here, but a needed one.  As a pastor/overseer, Timothy would have to eventually bring correction to people.  He needed to do so humbly.  His own age didn’t have to pose a problem, but it did need to be remembered, and that would affect the way he treated those older than himself.

Widows (5:3-16)
Regarding those who are older, some of the older women would be widows in need of assistance.  Part of the benevolence program of the early church was to help provide for widows, considering that they had no source of income for themselves.  If they were truly alone in the world, they would easily starve.  Thus, the church would help give them daily bread.

That said, the church didn’t (then or now) have unlimited financial resources.  They could only help those who were truly in need.  Thus Paul writes “honor widows who are really widows.” (5:3)  The idea was that if a widow had surviving family, then her family needed to provide for her.  Sons, daughters, siblings, etc., ought to see their own family member in need and pitch in to help.  That would honor the 5th Commandment, and (most importantly) honor God (5:4).  Paul even goes a step further.  If children did not provide for their starving widowed mothers, then they couldn’t be considered Christian.  1 Timothy 5:8, "But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever."  Obviously there’s no direct command on how a child ought to provide for his/her parents, but the general idea is clear.  Christians don’t let their parents starve on the street.

  • BTW, there is application here beyond widowed parents.  If people are lazy & unwilling to work, thereby letting his/her household go hungry, then that’s just as bad.  That certainly isn’t “Christian” behavior either.  According to Paul, the church has no responsibility to take care for those families; that is a failing on the part of the family member.  Those who are born-again believers in Jesus ought themselves to take responsibility for their families, and do what is necessary.

Additionally regarding widows, not all deserving widows are widows that needed to be permanently cared for by the church.  Some were younger & could remarry.  Let them. (5:11)  Some were widowed, but ungodly – they are undeserving (5:9-10).  But if there were godly women who were truly widows & truly in need, then by all means the church should help them. (5:16)

Elders (5:17-25)
Earlier, Paul wrote of the qualifications for church leaders; now he writes how to deal with them.  If they “rule well,” they ought to be rewarded (5:17)…IOW, they ought to be paid.  Paul goes so far as to quote Jesus, saying that “The laborer is worthy of his wages,” (5:18, Lk 10:7).  That said, if they do poorly, confront them & do so in a godly manner.  If there is an accusation brought against them, it not ought to be heard unless there are two or more witnesses (5:19), but if so, it ought to be dealt with thoroughly.  The ministry of the gospel is too important to have accusations of sin hanging over the leadership.  There is no place for a shadow of scandal in the pulpit.  If it is there, deal with it.  Whether someone is exonerated or they are guilty, at least it will be done.

Regarding Timothy himself as an elder, Paul gives a few words of personal instruction.  (1) Do it.  Especially in regards to leadership, be sure to do the things Paul commanded in setting up elders. (2) Don’t do it hastily (5:22).  Be careful about who you partner with, that you might remain free from sin.  (3) Take care of himself.  Apparently Timothy had some stomach issues, and he needed to take a bit of wine with his water as a disinfectant (5:23).  Timothy would be no good to the church if he was always laid up in bed (or dead from a poor diet), and thus he needed to be physically healthy.  (4) Be discerning.  Timothy needed to be mindful of the sins & good works of those around him (5:24-25), in that these were things he’d need to look for in leadership.

Slaves (6:1-2)
Remember that the chapter breaks are not inspired, and the 1st couple of verse of Ch. 6 seem better suited to go with Ch. 5.  The final group is that of slaves.  Slavery was extremely common within the Roman empire, and thus it was normal to find slaves worshipping the Lord Jesus alongside their masters in a local congregation.  And as with wives in regards to their own husbands, slaves had a role in regards to their own masters.  They were to honor their masters (6:1), not because slavery was morally right, but because it honored God.  Likewise, masters were not to despise their slaves, but actually serve them in the love of Jesus (6:2).  Everyone was to treat everyone else with the love and honor of Christ, regardless of their own personal station in life.  And again, Timothy was to teach these things & set the example.

Paul began his letter with a charge to his friend, and ended it the same way…

Final charge
Beware heresy and greed (6:3-10)
By this point, Timothy ought to have known what it was Paul wanted him to teach.  If anyone taught otherwise, Timothy was to recognize it for the heresy that it was.  That sort of person was only interested in stirring up strife & arguments, and they weren’t worth Timothy wasting his time on (6:5).

As opposed to the proud, Timothy was to strive for godliness.  Part of that would come with contentment.  The false teachers were there only to benefit themselves, looking to use Christian teaching for their own personal profit (6:5).  As a true teacher of Jesus, Timothy was to find his contentment in Christ.  No preacher needs to be rich; they just need to have basic provisions.  When a pastor becomes attracted to wealth, a pastor can be bought…and that’s truly a dangerous scenario.

BTW, what Paul writes regarding greed is often misquoted & misapplied.  1 Timothy 6:10, "For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows."  Notice that it is not money that is the root of all evil, but it is the love of money that causes problems.  Money is amoral; greed is evil.  Greed causes problems not only for pastors & teachers, but for people throughout Christendom.  When we become greedy, we cease to be generous.  When we become greedy, we become self-centered and sinful.  Greed makes wealth our god; it is a chief form of idolatry & one which we ought to beware.

Keep the faith (6:11-16)
As for Timothy, he was to “flee these things and pursue righteousness” (6:11).  He was to stand fast in the things handed down to him from Paul, and Paul laid it out in the strongest of terms.  He charges Timothy to keep these things in the sight of Christ Jesus, and then goes on to describe Jesus as the true King of Kings & all-powerful God.  IOW, he’s saying “Don’t take this lightly!”  Whatever Timothy did, he would be held accountable by none other than the Lord Jesus Christ. (Likewise with us!)

Teach generosity (6:17-19)
Paul returns to the idea of generosity vs. greed once more, showing generosity to be far better.  Those who give actually invest in eternity.  Wealth given for the kingdom of God is an investment of which God Himself will honor in the “time to come.” (6:19)

Guard the gospel (6:20-21)
Finally, Paul ends with one last charge/appeal.  Timothy needed to guard the faith, because others had left it.  If it could happen with them, it could happen to him…and that thought was unbearable.

Timothy had indeed been given a most solid trust: he was supposed to continue to share the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ with the church of Ephesus.  He had the responsibility of building up this church, continuing to feed them with the good doctrine of God & ensure there was godly leadership that could carry them into the future.  He needed to be faithful to the task – he needed to keep on keeping on.

So do we!  We have not all been called to be pastors, but we are all called within the church.  If the church does not pay attention to the doctrine it is being given by those in leadership, who will?  If the church does not try to build up godly leaders, who will?  These responsibilities do not rest upon one person; it’s upon all of us.

Keep on keeping on!  Stay fast in the gospel & don’t turn aside!  Especially in this day & age, when false teaching is so prevalent, we need to ensure that what we hold to is the truth.  That is our responsibility as the church.


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