73. I Timothy 1: “Brother Timothy”
Golden Nursing Center in Mannington, NJ –Evening
Service on 4/20/2017
(edited April 2021)
I and II Timothy are letters to a young leader who was working to help establish the church at Ephesus. That would be located in western Turkey on a modern map. And by establish a church, we mean the people, not a building. Back then they did not let the lack of a building stop them from worshiping the Lord!
These letters are from Timothy’s mentor, the Apostle Paul. Paul is writing from the city of Philippi in Greece where the Lord had established another church. Paul’s message in this letter, I think, has two main intentions: to build up the church as a whole and to guide young Timothy. And, by the way, I think God also inspired Paul to write these words to encourage us, also!
Verse 1: “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope;”
Right off the bat, Paul identifies God as our Savior! What a start! God was at work at Easter [that was the Sunday just before this message was shared] raising Christ and saving us. Paul goes on to point out that Jesus, by surrendering to His fate, there in the Garden of Gethsemane and leading into Good Friday has brought us H O P E! Paul is off to a wonderful start. And he’s just getting started:
Verses 2-3: “Unto Timothy, my own son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord. As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine,”
Paul was there when Timothy received Christ and began his “New life” in Jesus. Now, after watching him grow in the Faith, Paul has entrusted Timothy with an important leadership role at Ephesus. It is important to do God’s work, but equally important to nurture and support others as they step up and attempt do that work, also! That is what Paul is doing here, and what we, in one way or another, should be doing today.
Verse 4: “Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do.”
Timothy was being challenged by many voices at Ephesus. Not just the voice of encouragement from Paul. Voices that could lead Timothy the new congregation in the wrong direction.
Verse 5: “Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned:”
Paul is emphasizing a familiar theme here; do you see it? In Verse 1 he started off mentioning H O P E. Now, here in verse 5 he completes that Holy Triangle with F A I T H and L O V E (our King James Bible says “charity” meaning the Love of God). This is something he will explain in full in the now famous chapter 13 of his first Letter to the Corinthian church. That’s well worth reading sometime!
Paul was experienced and wise about false teachers and resistance to the Truth of the Gospel. His advice to Timothy and the church is excellent:
Verses 6-8: “From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling; Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm. But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully;”
Certain ones at Ephesus had abandoned grace in favor of a return to righteousness through laws, rules, and rituals. The laws of Moses, no doubt, and probably among the Gentiles some laws they may have made up on their own.
But the Lord’s clear purpose and direction for our lives is stated back there in verse 5:
“Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned:”
Paul had learned well that adding layer after layer of detail and regulation only distracts us from loving one another and loving the Lord. Paul had been a “Pharisee of the Pharisees” before his conversion. He KNEW that it was a spiritually bankrupt way to live, and he was determined to NEVER give in to it again!
Verses 9-10: “Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine;”
Laws are for sinners, for unbelief. Believers must live by Faith.
Verses 11-12: “According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust. And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry;”
The Old Covenant Law, the Jewish way of worship, had actually destroyed Paul, or should I say “Saul” of Tarsus. But now Paul revels in the Hope only Christ can give – the Hope that had saved his own soul! Listen now, to his testimony:
Verses 13-15: “Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.”
Notice, please, that Paul did not I was the chief of sinners, he says, “Hey, I still am!” Paul knew he needed Jesus every day of his New Life in Christ, just as much as he did on that first day over there near Damascus! We believers need to realize this and be as passionate about Jesus every day as we were when we first turned to Him with our whole heart and were saved!
Paul stayed passionate. That’s why he’s such a great example for young Timothy and for us. Another great thing about Paul, he did not keep all the blessings he had found in Christ as a personal secret. He knew he had been saved so that he could share it with others and help others to discover and to grow in God’s Grace:
Verse 16: “ Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.”
Freedom from slavery to the Law and to dead religion. That was Paul’s testimony. But, in this world, getting to that freedom and staying there will always be a struggle. There was a real spiritual battle going on at Ephesus. Timothy needed encouragement and guidance so he could face it. And we are in that same situation today, aren’t we?
Verses 17-20: “Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen. This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare; Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck: Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme.”
There is an ugly side to the Christian life. A struggle that, at least I don’t think, anyone can avoid for very long. If I thought the Bible taught differently, I’d be happy to say so. Happy for you and for me. But it doesn’t. So let’s get prepared, just like Timothy had to get prepared, to experience Faith and Hope and Love, certainly, but also to stand up when we must for the Truth we have found in Jesus Christ.
I would like to close tonight with a quote from a letter Paul had written directly to the church at Ephesus at a later time. Speaking of struggles, by then Paul had actually been put in prison because of his preaching. And back at Ephesus they must have still had an on-going spiritual battle on their hands. Beloved, so do we:
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;”