Saturday, May 18, 2013


For the week beginning Sunday May 19, 2013

(Knowing when doctrine is sound)
1 Timothy 1

Paul’s first letter to Timothy was probably written during his first imprisonment                in Rome, which is chronicled by Luke at the conclusion of the book of Acts (Acts 28:17-31). Scholars believe that he was released from this “house arrest”, which took place circa A.D. 64, in a house that was rented by Paul. After this imprisonment, Paul is said to have gone on another preaching mission, one that would be his last. He returned to Rome two years later and was re-arrested, and this time, was sentenced to death and beheaded, near the end of the reign of the Roman Emperor Nero in A.D. 67. It was during this second imprisonment (A.D. 66) that he wrote his second letter to Timothy, and it would become his last known written communication.
Paul wrote his first letter to Timothy, whom he had left in Ephesus, so as to help him deal with the problems caused by false teachers in the church. He wanted to give the young pastor instructions and encouragement to aid him in his struggles with other church matters as well, such as, the various issues in the church involving lifestyles.
Like all the rest of Scripture, the theme of this letter centers around the importance of “right belief” and “right behavior”. In it, Paul stresses how we need to know the truth, and then, defend it against false teaching that will, no doubt develop, as it always does, even in our modern-day churches. As Christians, in the Church, we must all be prepared to defend the Word of GOD against the forces of satan who are forever trying to penetrate its walls. Satan desires to mix worldly ideas into holy functions, so as to confuse the thought process of the congregation who are, for the most part, not nearly familiar enough with the doctrine that they say they represent.
In First Timothy 1, verse 2, the word Paul uses for “own”, in his original Greek writings, is “gnesios” (gnay-see-os), and it means “genuine”, or “true”. This represents one of only two times (Titus 1:4 is the other) that this particular word is used in the New Testament for “own”. Here, Paul is expressing his deep feeling of love for his young protégé, Timothy, just as he was for Titus, his other outstanding young protégé in Titus 1:4.
In both instances, Paul also exposes to us, a deep feeling of trust and confidence in these two young men that they will adhere to the ways of the sound, and right Christian doctrine which they had learned from him. He was not overly concerned that their faith might not be strong enough to withstand the rigors of church work, nor was he concerned about the outside influences and false teachings that periodically infiltrated the church, but rather, he just wanted to under-gird them with words of inspiration and encouragement, something that all Christians need in order to function in a world that is adverse to the ways of GOD.
Taking up at verse 3, Paul reminds Timothy why he left him there to oversee the Church at Ephesus. He wanted him to “remain there” so that he could ward off the false teachings that lurked just outside the door. A good shepherd (pastor) cannot properly tend his flock if he running up and down the streets socializing with other pastors.
Paul also did not want the church to engage the world (wolves in sheep clothing) in silly arguments over myths (teachings that cleverly mix “worldly ideas” with “biblical truths”) and other spiritual pedigrees (their relationships to respected men of GOD). Such things are dangerous, as they mislead, and stumble, people who truly wish to live a life of faith in the Almighty GOD. Paul’s desire was that all Christians be filled with a love that can only come from a clear conscience, a sincere faith, and a pure heart, that is fixed on GOD (Vs.3-5).
In those days, just like in churches today, pastors and teachers are missing the whole point of what their responsibilities are; they are to show those who are ignorant of the ways of GOD, just how they are living their lives in ways that are contrary to the instructions of GOD. Pastors want to be known as teachers of the Word of GOD, but they themselves have become “spiritually confused” about their roles, mainly because they are all listening to, and following each other, and no one is listening to, or following GOD (Vs.6-7).
Paul says GOD’s laws are not intended for those who live right, but rather, they are intended for those who live wrong. And these laws are only good when they are used as intended by GOD. They are to be applied in teaching to;

·         Those who are disobedient and rebellious (v.9),
·         Those who are ungodly and sinful (v.9),
·         Those who consider nothing sacred and defile what is holy (v.9),
·         Those who murder their father, mother, or any other person (v.9),
·         Those who are  sexually immoral (v.10),
·         Those who are homosexual (v.10),
·         Those who are slave traders (v.10),
·         Those who are liars and oath breakers (v.10),
·         Those who do anything else that contradicts the Word of GOD (v.10),

In verses 12-15, we see an eternally thankful Paul, that GOD would consider a sinner like him, trustworthy enough to serve HIM, especially, in light of all the persecution and condoned killings of HIS faithful, that he had previously took part in. In verse 13, Paul tells us that he had previously “scoffed” (blasphemed) at the name of CHRIST, and hunted down HIS people and harmed them in every way he could. In this verse the word translated from the original Greek as “injurious”, is “hubristes” (hoo-bris-tace), and it not only means “to harm”, but also, “to take great pleasure in harming”.
However, also in verse 13, Paul tells us that GOD showed mercy on him, because of his ignorance and unbelief. He goes on to tell us in verse 15, that, JESUS came into the world to save sinners, and that he perhaps, was the worst sinner of all. He was forever thankful that GOD, not only saves sinners, but also, transforms them into someone HE can use.
Paul saw himself as history’s greatest example of how GOD’s mercy can reach the worst of sinners, and use them as a source of light and hope for others who either want to believe, or, who have been previously ignorant to the truth of HIS ways and word.
Finally in verses 18-20, Paul urges young Timothy to hold on to his faith and never violate his conscience (which is the HOLY SPIRIT). He also warns Timothy that, if he allows his conscience to be violated, like so many others have, his faith too, could become “shipwrecked”.
And so, in conclusion, how do we find the strength to serve? GOD’s perfect will for every believer is that we hear, receive, and submit to HIS holy word with exceeding joy. HE then wants us to allow the seed of HIS word to produce good fruit in our lives, so that we can take that good fruit, and feed the lives of others.
However, we must constantly fertilize the seed of HIS word with prayer in order to grow strong in the faith, and, to help others grow strong also. For our strength to serve comes from the GOD we serve, and it comes through CHRIST JESUS. And until we can grasp and understand that, we will always be in danger of living or existing in shipwrecked lives, forever looking for physical answers, to problems, that have always been spiritual.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

                                           LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website

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