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1 Timothy 1 thru 6
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1 Timothy 1:1     Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope,

2 To Timothy, my loyal child in the faith:
Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

Warning against False Teachers

     3 I urge you, as I did when I was on my way to Macedonia, to remain in Ephesus so that you may instruct certain people not to teach any different doctrine, 4 and not to occupy themselves with myths and endless genealogies that promote speculations rather than the divine training that is known by faith. 5 But the aim of such instruction is love that comes from a pure heart, a good conscience, and sincere faith. 6 Some people have deviated from these and turned to meaningless talk, 7 desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make assertions.

     8 Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it legitimately. 9 This means understanding that the law is laid down not for the innocent but for the lawless and disobedient, for the godless and sinful, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their father or mother, for murderers, 10 fornicators, sodomites, slave traders, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to the sound teaching 11 that conforms to the glorious Gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.

Gratitude for Mercy (Cp Acts 8.1—3; 9.1—19)

     12 I am grateful to Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because he judged me faithful and appointed me to his service, 13 even though I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and a man of violence. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, 14 and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 15 The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the foremost. 16 But for that very reason I received mercy, so that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display the utmost patience, making me an example to those who would come to believe in him for eternal life. 17 To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

     18 I am giving you these instructions, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies made earlier about you, so that by following them you may fight the good fight, 19 having faith and a good conscience. By rejecting conscience, certain persons have suffered shipwreck in the faith; 20 among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have turned over to Satan, so that they may learn not to blaspheme.

Instructions concerning Prayer

1 Timothy 2:1     First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity. 3 This is right and is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For

there is one God;
there is also one mediator between God and humankind,
Christ Jesus, himself human,
6     who gave himself a ransom for all

     —this was attested at the right time. 7 For this I was appointed a herald and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.

     8 I desire, then, that in every place the men should pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or argument; 9 also that the women should dress themselves modestly and decently in suitable clothing, not with their hair braided, or with gold, pearls, or expensive clothes, 10 but with good works, as is proper for women who profess reverence for God. 11 Let a woman learn in silence with full submission. 12 I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she is to keep silent. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. 15 Yet she will be saved through childbearing, provided they continue in faith and love and holiness, with modesty.

Qualifications of Bishops

1 Timothy 3:1     The saying is sure: whoever aspires to the office of bishop desires a noble task. 2 Now a bishop must be above reproach, married only once, temperate, sensible, respectable, hospitable, an apt teacher, 3 not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, and not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own household well, keeping his children submissive and respectful in every way— 5 for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how can he take care of God’s church? 6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may be puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. 7 Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace and the snare of the devil.

Qualifications of Deacons

     8 Deacons likewise must be serious, not double-tongued, not indulging in much wine, not greedy for money; 9 they must hold fast to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. 10 And let them first be tested; then, if they prove themselves blameless, let them serve as deacons. 11 Women likewise must be serious, not slanderers, but temperate, faithful in all things. 12 Let deacons be married only once, and let them manage their children and their households well; 13 for those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and great boldness in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.

The Mystery of Our Religion

     14 I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these instructions to you so that, 15 if I am delayed, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth. 16 Without any doubt, the mystery of our religion is great:

He was revealed in flesh,
vindicated in spirit,
seen by angels,
proclaimed among Gentiles,
believed in throughout the world,
taken up in glory.

False Asceticism

1 Timothy 4:1     Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will renounce the faith by paying attention to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, 2 through the hypocrisy of liars whose consciences are seared with a hot iron. 3 They forbid marriage and demand abstinence from foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. 4 For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected, provided it is received with thanksgiving; 5 for it is sanctified by God’s word and by prayer.

A Good Minister of Jesus Christ

     6 If you put these instructions before the brothers and sisters, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound teaching that you have followed. 7 Have nothing to do with profane myths and old wives’ tales. Train yourself in godliness, 8 for, while physical training is of some value, godliness is valuable in every way, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. 9 The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance. 10 For to this end we toil and struggle, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.

     11 These are the things you must insist on and teach. 12 Let no one despise your youth, but set the believers an example in speech and conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. 13 Until I arrive, give attention to the public reading of scripture, to exhorting, to teaching. 14 Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you through prophecy with the laying on of hands by the council of elders. 15 Put these things into practice, devote yourself to them, so that all may see your progress. 16 Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; continue in these things, for in doing this you will save both yourself and your hearers.

Duties toward Believers

1 Timothy 5:1     Do not speak harshly to an older man, but speak to him as to a father, to younger men as brothers, 2 to older women as mothers, to younger women as sisters—with absolute purity.

     3 Honor widows who are really widows. 4 If a widow has children or grandchildren, they should first learn their religious duty to their own family and make some repayment to their parents; for this is pleasing in God’s sight. 5 The real widow, left alone, has set her hope on God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day; 6 but the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives. 7 Give these commands as well, so that they may be above reproach. 8 And whoever does not provide for relatives, and especially for family members, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

     9 Let a widow be put on the list if she is not less than sixty years old and has been married only once; 10 she must be well attested for her good works, as one who has brought up children, shown hospitality, washed the saints’ feet, helped the afflicted, and devoted herself to doing good in every way. 11 But refuse to put younger widows on the list; for when their sensual desires alienate them from Christ, they want to marry, 12 and so they incur condemnation for having violated their first pledge. 13 Besides that, they learn to be idle, gadding about from house to house; and they are not merely idle, but also gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not say. 14 So I would have younger widows marry, bear children, and manage their households, so as to give the adversary no occasion to revile us. 15 For some have already turned away to follow Satan. 16 If any believing woman has relatives who are really widows, let her assist them; let the church not be burdened, so that it can assist those who are real widows.

     17 Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching; 18 for the scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves to be paid.” 19 Never accept any accusation against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. 20 As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest also may stand in fear. 21 In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the elect angels, I warn you to keep these instructions without prejudice, doing nothing on the basis of partiality. 22 Do not ordain anyone hastily, and do not participate in the sins of others; keep yourself pure.

     23 No longer drink only water, but take a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.

     24 The sins of some people are conspicuous and precede them to judgment, while the sins of others follow them there. 25 So also good works are conspicuous; and even when they are not, they cannot remain hidden.

1 Timothy 6:1     Let all who are under the yoke of slavery regard their masters as worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and the teaching may not be blasphemed. 2 Those who have believing masters must not be disrespectful to them on the ground that they are members of the church; rather they must serve them all the more, since those who benefit by their service are believers and beloved.

False Teaching and True Riches

     Teach and urge these duties. 3 Whoever teaches otherwise and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that is in accordance with godliness, 4 is conceited, understanding nothing, and has a morbid craving for controversy and for disputes about words. From these come envy, dissension, slander, base suspicions, 5 and wrangling among those who are depraved in mind and bereft of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. 6 Of course, there is great gain in godliness combined with contentment; 7 for we brought nothing into the world, so that we can take nothing out of it; 8 but if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these. 9 But those who want to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains.

The Good Fight of Faith

     11 But as for you, man of God, shun all this; pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith; take hold of the eternal life, to which you were called and for which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 13 In the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you 14 to keep the commandment without spot or blame until the manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which he will bring about at the right time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords. 16 It is he alone who has immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see; to him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.

     17 As for those who in the present age are rich, command them not to be haughty, or to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but rather on God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share, 19 thus storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life that really is life.

Personal Instructions and Benediction

     20 Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you. Avoid the profane chatter and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge; 21 by professing it some have missed the mark as regards the faith.

     Grace be with you.

The Holy Bible: containing the Old and New Testaments with the Apocryphal / Deuterocanonical Books [New Revised Standard Version]

Biblical Topics

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Timothy was born of mixed parentage: His mother was a Jewess, his father a Greek. He was so devoted to Christ that his local church leaders recommended him to Paul, and Paul added him to his “missionary staff” (Acts 16:1–5). Paul often reminded Timothy that he was chosen for this ministry (1 Tim. 1:18; 4:14). Timothy was faithful to the Lord (1 Cor. 4:17) and had a deep concern for God’s people (Phil. 2:20–22).

But in spite of his calling, his close association with Paul, and his spiritual gifts, Timothy was easily discouraged.

Paul wrote the letter we call 1 Timothy to encourage Timothy, to explain how a local church should be managed, and to enforce his own authority as a servant of God.

One reason Christian workers must stay on the job is that false teachers are busy trying to capture Christians. There were teachers of false doctrines in Paul’s day just as there are today, and we must take them seriously. These false teachers have no good news for lost sinners. They seek instead to lead Christians astray and capture them for their causes.

Paul used military language to help Timothy and his people see the seriousness of the problem (1 Tim. 1:3). Charge means “to give strict orders from a superior officer.” Paul used this word (sometimes translated “commandment” and “command” in KJV) eight times in his two letters to Timothy (1 Tim. 1:3, 5, 18; 4:11; 5:7; 6:13, 17; 2 Tim. 4:1). He was conveying this idea: “Timothy, you are not only a pastor of the church in a difficult city. You are also a Christian soldier under orders from the King. Now pass these orders along to the soldiers in your church!”

Read Galatians 5:1–6. How does this passage speak to the “false doctrines” of religious legalism that Paul is warning against in 1 Timothy 1:3–11?

The mention of “the gospel of the glory of the blessed God” (1 Tim. 1:11, literal translation) moved Paul to share his own personal testimony. He was “Exhibit A” to prove that the gospel of the grace of God really works. When you read Paul’s testimony (see also Acts 9:1–22; 22:1–21; 26:9–18), you begin to grasp the wonder of God’s grace and His saving power.

Review 1 Timothy 1:12–17. What do these verses tell us about Paul’s testimony? What arguments does he put forth to illustrate the gospel of grace in his own story?

The city of Ephesus (in present-day Turkey) was at one time a city of nearly half a million people. Among other things, it was known for the Temple of Artemis (Diana). People came from far away to worship the goddess of fertility. The temple itself, which took more than a hundred years to complete, is often referred to today as one of the “Seven Wonders of the Ancient World” and is evidence of the strong pagan influence in the city of Ephesus during Paul’s day.

What impact would the pagan environment have had on Timothy’s ability to serve the church in Ephesus? What sorts of challenges might he have faced that were unique to a city that was known for its worship of a fertility goddess? How might knowing this about Ephesus have influenced the manner in which Paul addressed Timothy?

It was not easy to serve God in pagan Ephesus, but Timothy was a man under orders, and he had to obey. The soldier’s task is to “please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier” (2 Tim. 2:4), and not to please himself. Furthermore, Timothy was there by divine appointment: God had chosen him and sent him. It was this fact that could give him assurance in difficult days.

How does Paul’s personal story (1 Tim. 1:12–13) speak to the idea of being divinely appointed for the leadership task? How might this have offered encouragement to Timothy? How does this resonate with the way we view church leaders today?

Timothy must have been greatly helped and encouraged when he read this first section of Paul’s letter. God had called Timothy, equipped him, and put him into his place of ministry. Timothy’s job was not to run all over Ephesus, being involved in a multitude of tasks. His job was to care for the church by winning the lost, teaching the saved, and defending the faith. Any task that did not relate to these ministries would have to be abandoned.

Why was it important for Timothy to focus on the local church? What greater value could this focus have had on other efforts to reach the Ephesians? In what ways do the leaders of churches today succeed in staying focused? In what ways does the church fail in this? How can Paul’s words in chapter 1 help redirect a church that has lost focus?

Often, what we think is the “freedom of the Spirit” are the carnal ideas of some Christian who is not walking in the Spirit. Eventually this “freedom” becomes anarchy, and the Spirit grieves as a church gradually moves away from the standards of God’s Word.

To counteract this tendency, Paul exhorted both the men and the women in the church and reminded them of their spiritual responsibilities.

   The Wiersbe Bible Study Series: 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon: It's Always Too Soon to Quit!
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Review 1 Timothy 2:1–8. What were the spiritual responsibilities Paul described specifically for the men of the church? Why do you think he separated the responsibilities of men and women in this and the next section? How much of what Paul described is specific to the culture of the time, and what can we derive from this passage that is universally helpful for all believers, men or women?

Read Matthew 6:5; Luke 18:9–14; James 4:1–10; and 1 John 5:14–15 to see examples of problematic attitudes some people bring to prayer. How does Paul’s exhortation in 1 Timothy 2:1–4 speak to the concerns raised by these passages?

The word translated “subjection” in 1 Timothy 2:11 is translated “submitting” and “submit” in Ephesians 5:21–22 and Colossians 3:18. It literally means “to rank under.” Anyone who has served in the armed forces knows that “rank” has to do with order and authority, not with value or ability.

Submission is not subjugation. Submission is recognizing God’s order in the home and the church and joyfully obeying it. When a Christian wife joyfully submits to the Lord and to her own husband, it should bring out the best in her.

Review 1 Timothy 2:9–15. What are the specific responsibilities Paul outlines for women in these verses? What makes this passage somewhat controversial in today’s church? Again, how much of what Paul writes is specific to the culture of the time, and how much is directly applicable today?

Paul gave several arguments to back up this admonition that the Christian men in the church should be the spiritual leaders. The first is an argument from creation: Adam was formed first, and then Eve (1 Tim. 2:12–13).

The second argument has to do with man’s fall into sin. Satan deceived the woman into sinning (Gen. 3:1ff.; 2 Cor. 11:3); the man sinned with his eyes wide open. Because Adam rejected the God-given order, he listened to his wife, disobeyed God, and brought sin and death into the world. The submission of wives to their own husbands is a part of the original creation.

What is your initial reaction to Paul’s arguments about why men should be the spiritual leaders in the church? Why do you think Paul makes this distinction in his letter to Timothy? What can we discern from this that is applicable to today’s church leaders?

Timothy was battling the false doctrine of legalism. How have you battled that in your church? In your own life? Why is it so easy to fall into legalism? How do Paul’s words to Timothy help you understand the gospel of grace?

Think of one or two things you have learned that you’d like to work on in the coming week. Remember that this is all about quality, not quantity. It’s better to work on one specific area of life and do it well than to work on many and do poorly (or to be so overwhelmed that you simply don’t try).

   The Wiersbe Bible Study Series: 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon: It's Always Too Soon to Quit!
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MAIN IDEA: Church leadership is a noble and respectable position that requires nobility of character. Paul called everyone to live exemplary lives as he wrote of the high value God places on the church and the close relationship it has with Christ.

What a Pastor Should Be (3:1–7)

Leaders in the church have many duties that can change with time and culture. The qualities that are timeless and the main standard for pastors and other leaders require a blameless character. Paul described the outward evidences of such character.

3:1. According to Paul, any person who aspires to the office of pastor, who sets his heart on it, desires a noble task.

The office which involves guiding, leading, and serving the church has honor and goodness in itself. It is a position which God desires for the local church and which he finds honorable because the pastor guides in matters of the spirit. Because the office has honor, the person who desires to do the job, who literally “reaches out” after it, must be honorable.

In the days of the early church, a couple of things may have made the office of pastor seem less than desirable. First, the persecution of the church may have made being a pastor appear less than appealing. Also, the position may have fallen into disrepute due to false teachers and those who used the office for personal or financial advancement. Even so, Paul wanted to be clear that the position and function of pastoring was good and needful. It was not to be looked down upon, nor was it to be shunned.

The position described here, episkopos, is variously translated as “overseer” or “bishop.” Over time, these terms, particularly bishop, have come to be associated with ecclesiastical denominations. In Acts and other places this leadership position is called presbuteros, or “elder.” Today the term pastor is widely used, based on the model of shepherding and guiding given to us by the Great Shepherd, Jesus Christ. All these terms have come to represent those who are charged with overseeing the spiritual affairs of the church.

Scripture has listed the duties for this position in a number of places: to lead (Acts 20:28); equip (Eph. 4:12); rule (1 Tim. 3:4–5); teach (1 Tim. 3:2; 2 Tim. 2:15); shepherd (1 Pet. 5:1–4); and to set an example for others (1 Pet. 5:3). With these serious responsibilities, it is no wonder the qualifications were high.

The pastor’s goals (3:2–7)

3:2. For the person desiring or under consideration for the position of pastoral leadership, Paul listed character qualities which were evidenced by certain observable behaviors. These were manners which should characterize the pastor’s life.

First, he must be above reproach—blameless. Paul was not suggesting perfection, for no one could reach that. He did mean that this person should have no legitimate charge brought against him, either in a legal court or by other people. There should be no grounds for true accusation because this person deals with sin between himself and God and others.

The pastor must also be the husband of but one wife. Literally, he must be a “one-woman man.” This means that the pastor must be committed to the covenant of marriage; he must be faithful to his wife. This is loyal oneness.

Some interpreters believe this qualification means that the overseer could not be in a second marriage, whether by death of a spouse or after divorce. Churches have various policies related to the interpretation of this phrase as they systematize qualifications for ordination or the pastorate. Of this we can be sure—the pastorate requires a strong modeling of marriage and loyalty.

He must also be temperate, or balanced, not given to extremes. Temperate comes from a word meaning “sober,” or “calm in judgment.” It carries the idea of objective thinking and clear perspective. A temperate person is free from the influences of passion, lust, emotion, or personal gain.

All Christians are called to be self-controlled; this is an evidence of the Spirit’s life within. Here Paul required that leaders model this quality. A pastor is to be in control of himself, not given to anger, personal ambition, or passions. He is to be sensible and in charge of his life.

Peter told all Christians to be “self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Pet. 5:8). Without the power of God’s Spirit, the human spirit is left alone to navigate the forces of evil and personal weaknesses. By the Spirit whom God has placed in all believers, we are given the ability to live beyond these evil influences; we are enabled to have a self that is controlled not by fallen nature but by God’s kingdom goodness.

A pastor should also be respectable, his life well-ordered. He is to be harmonious within and without. His behavior should not be at odds with his inner spirit and soul.

The word hospitable means “open to strangers.” It reflects a vulnerability to others, a desire to care for guests and those in need. Hospitality was highly valued by the Mediterranean cultures where there were few inns and those which existed were often disreputable. But having fancy hotels and fast-food restaurants does not relieve any of us from this call to hospitality. All believers are instructed to practice hospitality (Rom. 12:13). Even if our guests do not require a bed or a meal, we should provide them with a warm and accepting atmosphere—a place of refuge. The pastor is no exception. He must lead in this area as an example to others.

The pastor must be able to teach. The functions of the pastor are often described as “pastor-teacher” because teaching has become such a central duty of the job. The pastor must be able to communicate God’s Word in a clear way. He must understand Christian doctrine and live it, guiding others in their pursuit of God and godliness.

3:3. This verse is about controls. There are four “nots” given in a row: not given to drunkenness, not violent … not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.

The prohibition against drunkenness is a call for pastors not to “sit beside wine.” Drunkenness nullifies self-control, which all believers are expected to exhibit. The pastor is called to self-control in a special way. Leaders controlled by chemical substances of any sort cannot think clearly or lead with integrity.

Likewise, a violent person lacks self-control. Such a person is controlled by emotions that are rooted in selfishness and an attitude of judgment. Obviously, people with such a turbulent inner spirit would be unqualified to lead anywhere, but particularly in God’s church.

In contrast, the pastor is to be gentle in his dealings with people. The English word carries the idea of softness, even tenderness. But the Greek word portrays fairness, equity, and moderation. The pastor is not to be swayed by people of position; he is not to deal in favoritism. Instead, he must be just.

It follows that a pastor would not be quarrelsome. This instruction from Paul was not simply to squelch fights and arguments; it was intended to promote an inner spirit that would not even allow contentious behavior. A quarrelsome person is, like an angry individual, self-seeking and disrespectful of others. Such a person considers only himself, never the opinions of others.

The pastor, according to Paul, is also not to be a lover of money. Such a person will have a detachment from wealth and its distractions. He will be an example of generosity and faithful dependence on God. His goals and decisions will not be influenced by paychecks and benefits. Instead, a pastor has only one devotion, one treasure—God himself: “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money” (Matt. 6:24).

3:4–5. Since the pastor deals with people, the test of his leadership and management capabilities is noted by observing his home: He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. If you cannot exercise leadership at home, you should not attempt to lead the family of God. If the husband does not lead spiritually and with vision in the close relationships of family, it is doubtful that he can lead the church in those same areas.

In John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, Talkative is described as “a saint abroad, and a devil at home.” This can happen. Outside we play the part of church leader, but at home where we are most real, most vulnerable and unmasked, our true nature is exposed. Failure in the home indicates some serious troubles. These must be attended to before a person attempts to lead others.

Every home experiences tension from time to time, but the mood of the family should be obedience, love, honor, and respect. Titus 1:6 adds that the children must “believe and [not be] open to the charge of being wild or disobedient.” Eli, high priest in Israel when Samuel was in training, was judged with death because he “failed to restrain” his sons when he knew they were living a life of sin (1 Sam. 3:13). The pastor must be an example of management in this first priority—his own family.

Equally, the church must honor privacy in the personal life of its pastor and his family. No wife or children of a pastor should be placed in positions of undue pressure or tension just because they are the pastor’s family. This places unnecessary burdens upon the household.

3:6. Paul also taught that the pastor must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited. The word translated “recent convert” is neophuton, meaning “newly planted.” It is the word from which we derive neophyte, one who is just beginning a new kind of life: a novice. This is not to suggest that time necessarily guarantees maturity. Many people who claim the name of Christ remain at the initial stages of faith for a lifetime. The writer to the Hebrews reprimanded his readers for their continuing immaturity (Heb. 5:11–14).

But those new to the faith cannot have the necessary spiritual maturity which church leadership requires. Though a recent convert may be adept in finances or business management, for church leadership there is a more fundamental requirement—the spiritual depth of the individual that can only develop persistently and faithfully over time.

Paul recognized that the new believer who had an undeveloped faith could easily become proud if thrust too quickly into church leadership. Such pride would cause him to fall under the same judgment as the devil.

There are a couple of ways to interpret Paul’s warning of judgment. It could refer to the conceit Satan exhibited when he tried to usurp God’s authority and power. He was judged by being banished from heaven and condemned for eternity. If the “I will” statements of Isaiah 14 do point to Satan, it is a striking example of the arrogance and dangers of pride as well as the judgment of God. Or Paul’s statement may point to pride as a means by which the devil gains leverage over the believer. It may be that pride, like anger, offers Satan a foothold in the life of a Christian, affording Satan the means to exploit the believer as well as damage the church. Pride is always competitive, uncooperative. For leaders in the church, this is contrary to unity, the harmony that should characterize the community of faith.

Pride and self-will are inherent in our fallen nature. They pose a constant danger. It takes spiritual development and grace to overcome these tendencies and temptations. Only the spiritually mature, seasoned by time and God’s grace, are equipped to face the challenges of spiritual leadership.

3:7. The pastor or church leader is an ambassador for the church and for Christ, so he is to have a good reputation with outsiders. Like Jesus, he is to increase in wisdom and “in favor with God and men” (Luke 2:52).

Sometimes the pastor or church leader becomes so involved in work and ministry within the walls of the church that “outsiders” do not even know him. This can create a reputation of sorts, one that can be interpreted as elitist or unconcerned. The point is that we always create a reputation for ourselves. Paul was concerned, as we should be, that our reputation is good. We should live so that our “daily life may win the respect of outsiders” (1 Thess. 4:12).

Paul’s concern with the opinions of unbelievers was not for the sake of popularity. His overriding passion was the evangelistic mandate to tell others of the saving grace of God. We damage this message when our lives do not exhibit the qualities of godliness. Paul did not want unnecessary hindrances and distractions placed in the way of others coming to Christ. A suspect reputation among church leaders gives the gospel message a bad reputation among unbelievers.

If the church is to be offensive to society, then it must be for the sake of the cross—not our hypocrisy, misuse of liberty, or bad behavior. Paul’s emphasis was not on trying to meld with society but on living pure, good lives against which no one can find fault (1 Pet. 3:13–17).

These seven verses describe the challenges for a person who wants to pastor a church. These are also the criteria for the church searching for a pastor. It is not enough to be a good speaker, an efficient manager, a charismatic personality. The pastor must demonstrate an ongoing spiritual development and a character of the highest quality.

What a Deacon Should Be (3:8–13)

Supporting Idea: Paul described the qualities of a deacon, those who serve people in the name of Christ and the church. He did this so the church would know how to select for this office men and women who serve well and please God.

1. Qualifications for men (3:8–10, 12–13)

3:8. The word deacon means “servant.” Paul discussed what sort of character and lifestyle deacons were to maintain; he did not precisely define what deacons did, their particular tasks or duties. This leaves a lot of room for flexibility in this office.

The men chosen in Acts 6 to “wait on tables” and see that the “widows” were not “being overlooked” are often considered the first deacons. Some churches apply the title of deacon to any person who holds an office or has a job responsibility in the church. Others believe deacons are responsible for managing church property and supervising the pastoral care of the congregation. In some churches the deacons function as the governing board.

The main issue here, however, is that God has strong views about what kind of people he wants to represent and lead the church. Those who desire to lead in the church and those responsible for enlisting leaders should follow these qualifications.

Paul indicated the deacon is to be worthy of respect. He must be of a serious mind about spiritual and leadership issues. He is to have an inner character which calls forth respect from the people with whom he serves. It does not mean he should be stern or unbending, but that his life should evoke admiration.

The deacon is also to be sincere, literally “not double tongued.” He must be known for truthfulness. His word must be reliable. His “yes” must be yes, and his “no,” no (Jas. 5:12).

The qualification that the deacon should not be indulging in much wine is the same admonition as that for the pastor (see 1 Tim. 3:3).

Paul always distanced himself from those who taught or preached for the sake of money. It is not surprising that he warned against deacons pursuing dishonest gain. Perhaps stories were still circulating about Judas pocketing the disciples’ money for himself while presenting himself as a true follower of Jesus. Paul understood the lure of money, so he was careful in the area of finances, making certain that neither he nor the churches could be accused of greed or money-making schemes (1 Thess. 2:5; 2 Cor. 8:20–21).

3:9. The deacon must also keep hold of the deep truths of the faith. This is a warning against allowing into leadership people who are ungrounded in the Christian faith or who adhere to strange or unfounded doctrines. This practice had created deep problems in the Ephesian church as false teachers assumed leadership positions.

The deep truths of the faith most likely deal with the whole body of revelation from God to mankind. But there are cardinal truths such as the incarnation of Christ (1 Tim. 3:16), the indwelling of the Spirit in our lives (Eph. 1:13–14), the unity of Jesus as God and man (Phil. 2:6–8), the gospel of Christ and the good news of salvation (1 Cor. 15:2–5; Acts 4:10–12), the mystery of lawlessness (2 Thess. 2:7), and the return of Jesus Christ (Acts 1:9–11). There is a body of truth to be believed.

These truths must be held with conviction and become a part of the church leader’s life and heart. But not only must God’s revelation be believed; it must be held with a clear conscience. In the first century, the conscience was seen as the seat of the will. To hold truth with a clear conscience was not only to agree intellectually but volitionally as well. Intellect and mind must agree with life and purpose. Doctrine must penetrate to the person’s will so that his conscience before God and others is blameless as he lives biblical truth in his daily life.

3:10. Paul underscored the importance of a leader being blameless, stating that deacons must first be tested. This is not a formal, written exam but the test of public scrutiny. A life which withstands observation is the best credential for a ministry of service. If no charge can stand, then the person is free to serve.

3:12. The deacon is held to the same standard as the overseer. He must be the husband of but one wife (see 1 Tim. 3:2 for the explanation as it applies to elders). In the same way, the deacon must also manage his children and his household well (the same as elders, 1 Tim. 3:5).

3:13. As he concluded the qualifications for pastor and deacons within the church, Paul ended as he began—by elevating the positions of leadership and those who serve.

Paul was writing to a church suffering from a crisis in leadership. False teachers had brought division to the church and led some people away from true faith. In this atmosphere, Paul wanted to restore leadership to its rightful place and restore the people’s respect for the office. He told the Ephesians that leadership within the church is a noble task and that it has its rewards—before people and before God.

Those who have served well gain an excellent standing before Christ and the church. They achieve a good reputation with all people and are favored by God.

They also gain great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus. This may relate to a boldness that develops as a person faithfully follows Christ. It may also mean that people of such character and obedient leadership attain a confidence in their prayers and service as they keep expanding their ministries—they grow closer to Christ. This is a worthwhile reward indeed!

Qualifications for women (3:11)

Godly character is valued by God in all his followers. The qualifications for women require the same depth of character, even though their leadership or service may not be as public as men’s.

3:11. The big debate swirling around this verse is whether these qualifications were intended for the wives of deacons or for women who served in the church in some official capacity. We cannot argue too conclusively for either position.

Either way, these women were to be worthy of respect. Paul was always concerned that followers of Christ, particularly those associated with church leadership, demonstrate a life in which the Spirit was working. These women were to live in such a way that they earned the respect of all people.

Paul then gave a couple of markers to guide our understanding of what a respectable life is. First, such women should not [be] malicious talkers. Women do not have a corner on gossip; men also have trouble taming the tongue. But it may be that women, since they are naturally more communicative, are more susceptible to this problem. No matter who is tempted to hurt others through words, the faithful Christian should have no part in it.

Instead, these women were to be temperate and trustworthy in everything. These qualifications parallel the pastor and deacon’s call to self-control and sincerity.

The servant’s heart (3:12–13)

Chapter 9 of Mark contains the account of the disciples arguing about which of them would be greatest in the kingdom of God. We can imagine Peter’s claim for boldness, faith, and leadership. John may have staked his claim on his kindness or special friendship with Jesus. James may have pointed to his acts of service, his practical work. Whatever their assertions, they must have recognized the arrogance of their discussion. When Jesus asked them what they were arguing about, they “kept quiet” (Mark 9:34).

Of course Jesus knew the nature of the discussion, and so he sat down with the Twelve and taught: “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant (deacon) of all” (Mark 9:35).

That is how the Creator of the universe and Lord of this life defines greatness—to be a deacon (or deaconess). Those who hold the title of deacon certainly should model this attitude and lifestyle.

What the Church Is (3:14–16)

Without Christ, the church would not exist. We must know who we belong to and what he expects of us and then align ourselves accordingly.

How God sees the church (3:14–15)

God has established only three institutions—government, marriage and family and the church. In post-Christian America all three of these are being either discarded or treated with suspicion. In modern America, church has become peripheral.

Yet God firmly established the church, bestowing it with honor and declaring that even hell itself could not overwhelm it. Despite society’s no-confidence vote, it is paramount that we learn how God views the church and what he expects from it.

3:14–15. Paul first described the church as God’s household. The household of the first century was a bit different from what we have in modern times. Not only did the ancient home consist of parents and children; it also encompassed extended family, workers, and stewards. It was the framework and microcosm of society at large. Within the household were various age groups, genders, duties, responsibilities. Over this diversity was the master, who kept the house in order, and stewards, who bore responsibility to the master for those in his charge. The household is a picture of the church in variety and structure, bringing together a mix of talents and gifts, men and women, adults and children, professionals and laborers, all of them are cared for and guided by stewards—pastors and deacons responsible to the Master.

The household is also a picture of the warmth and refuge which family provides. We are to treat one another with the love and respect of brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers. The church is to exemplify to the world a place of acceptance, love, and protection as offered by the other members and by God himself. We are members of God’s household (Eph. 2:19).

As Christians we are also members of the church of the living God. We are his assembly, his gathering. The emphasis is on God, who is alive. This group, known as the church, is distinctive from all other groups, because the one who has called us is an ever-living, ever-present God. This is no club meeting based on ideology, the religion of ritual, or idols. The church meets to worship the living God, even as its members have the Spirit of God within them.

The church is a gathering of new relationships, a place of protection and refuge. Paul characterized the church as the pillar and foundation of the truth.

All that is true comes from God, and he has designated the church as guardian and proclaimer of the truth. The church provides the framework for safeguarding orthodoxy and living its claims. The church is “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone” (Eph. 2:20).

The Word of God must be taught in all churches. This imagery of the church as the supporting structure of essential truth is a reminder that we must base the central issues of belief and practice upon the authoritative Word of God.

The church protects the truth from the attacks of falsehood. Paul’s call for pure doctrine is also a call for pure people. Central to the truth of the gospel is the transformed life of the Christian.

How we live as the church (3:14–15)

3:14–15. After describing how we are part of God’s household, Paul interwove through these verses guidelines for how people ought to conduct themselves as God’s people and gathered assembly. The purpose of Paul’s instructions on order, worship, and leadership was to make vivid the high calling of the Christian and the church—their remarkable way of living as individuals and as a group—to the glory of God.

Leaders of some nations have on staff a person known as the chief of protocol. His or her job is to tell people how to act when dignitaries arrive—when to stand, manners of greeting, and other etiquette.

The Bible is the protocol book for life—for all we do. As followers of Christ we are responsible to live lives that are deserving of his gift of grace. We are to be holy as God is holy (1 Pet. 1:15); we are to conduct ourselves “in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ” (Phil. 1:27).

How Christ relates to the church (3:16)

3:16. Paul concluded this section with a confession on the mystery of godliness. This was probably a hymn well-known in first-century Christendom and often used in public worship services. Paul may have included these familiar words to provoke the listeners to evaluate their conduct and life in view of this confession.

Paul declared, He appeared in a body. This refers to the incarnation of Christ, the coming of God into the world. God and godliness were revealed to humanity as God became flesh. The Word of all time, the truth of all eternity, the wisdom of God, the very Son became like us, living in our midst.

Christ was also vindicated by the Spirit. He was declared acceptable to God in his sacrificial death for the sins of all people. He was proclaimed the Son of God through his resurrection and ascension into heaven. This was done by the Holy Spirit, who “raised Jesus from the dead” (Rom. 8:11, see also Rom. 1:4).

The next line of the hymn states that Jesus was seen by angels. In keeping with the victorious tone of the previous line, this statement is a shout of triumph. The vindicated Christ, the resurrected Lord, was shown to the angels, his ministering spirits.

Jesus was also preached among the nations. Again, the glory of the risen Christ continued as his salvation and life were communicated throughout the world. This proclamation is now the duty of the church.

The result of this preaching is that Jesus is believed on in the world. This is the continuing legacy of godliness. Salvation is perpetual in power as the living Christ is believed on by individuals of every nation, tribe, and people group. The richness of our salvation must be treasured if we are to share it with others.

Paul ended his hymn except with the declaration that Christ was taken up in glory. The Son was raised in power, and he ascended to his place at he right hand of the Father. He is Lord, reigning at the top of all the created order. He rules with majesty and power. Christ’s ascension is assurance of his return. It is the proof of his ever-present reality and power and his claims on our lives.

In this confession of the mystery of godliness, Paul called us to pay attention to the importance and calling of the church. Founded by Christ, built on him and by him, the church is called to be a preview of his kingdom. This occurs as his people serve and love in obedience to their living Lord. Let us live worthy of the call of God, serving his church.

Church leadership is a noble and respectable position that requires nobility of character. Paul called everyone to live exemplary lives as he wrote of the high value God places on the church and the close relationship it has with Christ.


A Curriculum for Life

In his book, Teaching as a Conserving Activity, Neil Postman wrote, “A curriculum is a specially constructed information system whose purpose’ in its totality, is to influence, teach, train, or cultivate the mind and character.” As such, curriculums are not simply yearly plans used by schoolteachers. In fact, curriculums are not limited to schools at all. Systems of influence and training are used by business and the media as well as the church.

Knowing this, it is important to do more than analyze the content of the curriculum, to see what is being taught. We must look behind the words and assumptions, taking into account those people who create the systems.

Balance is necessary because no teacher or purveyor of ideas is perfect. Ideas and beliefs spring from the inner regions of our character; they do not exist separate from us.

When you take your child to church and leave him or her with someone for an hour, you expect that person to convey biblical truths. But intellectual stimulation is only a part of the curriculum for Christian living. You want that teacher to live that biblical truth as well. That teacher should be consistent in belief and practice. The same thing is true of pastors and other church leaders.

God has strong qualifications for those who direct and guide, who represent him and enact his curriculum for living. It is important for the church to adhere to these biblical criteria for all church leaders.

   Holman New Testament Commentary - 1 & 2 Thessalonians, 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon
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Christian Godliness and Discipline

“And if you will here stop and ask yourself why you are not as pious as the primitive Christians were, your own heart will tell you that it is neither through ignorance nor inability, but purely because you never thoroughly intended it.”  William Law

In A Nutshell

Paul got very specific as he discussed false teachings which were rooted in legalism. He also gave personal commands for Timothy to stay faithful in leading God’s people and diligent in personal godliness.

I. Introduction

Hoopster Par Excellence

Mark Price was an all-star guard for many years with Cleveland’s pro-basketball team, the Cavaliers. His basketball skills were supreme, but he stood a little under six feet and had an average frame. Yet he played well among giants. Once, in front of a group of men and boys at church, he was asked how someone his size had become so exceptional in basketball. Mark reflected on the many Friday nights he was alone in the gym shooting foul shots and long-range shots while everyone else was out on a date or hanging out with friends.

He remembered the hard work with his father, shooting and correcting, shooting and correcting, dribbling and passing—then doing it all over again. In high school he was all-state; at Georgia Tech he was all-conference. Then he was signed by the pros.

Physical strength and excellence require conditioning and training, dedication and hard work. Spiritual strength and maturity require the same. But not many people will discipline their spirits. Too often we become satisfied with mediocrity or with watching others live for Christ.

Physical training has some limited value, but development and exercise of the spirit benefit our lives now and for eternity. This chapter of 1 Timothy is about the value of disciplining ourselves for life.

Main Idea: The outward life of a person flows from his or her inner spirit. Those who discipline themselves to follow after Jesus Christ, who are focused on living out the truth of God’s revelation, will develop a life of growing intimacy with Christ. They will delight God, producing goodness and godliness in what they do.

A. Days of Trouble (4:1–5)

Supporting Idea: Paul described deviant doctrines, bad teaching, and useless practices that pull us away from God’s grace and truth. He focused on how to respond to falsehood and how to live righteously.

1. Timing (4:1)

4:1. Paul turned from his triumphant hymn of Christ to a stark warning: the Spirit clearly says that in later times troublesome things will happen within the church.

The phrase later times refers not to some coming event but to the sweep of time from Christ’s ascension to his future return. It covers everything in between, from Paul and the early church, to Luther and the Reformation, to Wesley and the Great Awakening, to us. These are the “later times,” the last days. This great epoch of the church is the final stage of human history before the triumphal return of Jesus Christ.

These words from Paul are just as relevant to our churches as they were for those in the first century. They will continue to be valid for believers in the future last days. The troubles which Paul describes have been happening throughout history to the present time, at other times with guerrilla tactics and scattered damage, often with frontal assaults and great devastation to the church.

Paul predicted that some will abandon the faith. Apostasy has been around as long as human history. Paul dealt with it in his own day (1 Tim. 1:19; 2 Tim. 2:17–18), and the casualty list is high in our time. Even so, the church will triumph.

2. The teachers (4:1–2)

To deny the truth and abandon the faith, people would follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Despite the assault of the physical world upon our senses, we live in a spirit-saturated environment. There is not a moment when we are outside the interplay of spirituality, for we are spirit beings. The very faculty of the human will is spiritual. Whatever we choose to believe or do is founded in our spiritual nature.

When Paul wrote about following deceiving spirits and things taught by demons, he was not necessarily envisioning Satan worship or drug-led transcendentalist theology. There is a wide variety of ways in which Satan peddles his twisted inventions. All deceptions come from Satan’s realm, but he uses many genteel ways to fashion these lies, spreading ideas which are anti-God.

The apostle John wrote, “Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world” (1 John 4:2–3).

John’s words cover a whole range of teachings, some religious in nature such as cults and various world religions and others antireligious as in popular philosophies. All find their source in demons. The false teachings find receptivity in those who are hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. Such people perpetuate the lies of Satan and his hosts.

Not only were these false teachers peddling in lies; they were doing so under the guise of spirituality, under the pretense of being godly. Hypocrisy was anathema to Jesus; it received particular condemnation from him. Such a posture misrepresents God to others; it has a potent capacity for leading others away from the loving Father. Paul warned the Ephesian believers, “Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them” (Acts 20:30).

Paul described the psychological workings of false teachers: their consciences have been seared. “Such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people” (Rom. 16:18). The conscience is the human capability to discern right and wrong, and it is connected to the will. A good conscience, one guided by faith, enables a person to navigate life’s moral issues. But a seared conscience is left scarred, unable to assess truth and error, incapable of producing godly behavior.

Sometimes we think in apocalyptic terms relative to the dangers and evil of the “last days.” Certainly as time draws to a close, evil increases. But evil does not always present itself as crime, drugs, and brutality. Such manifestations issue from a degeneration of beliefs, values, ideas, and conscience that have filtered through society for a long time. Evil frequently begins in decent places—in philosophical discussions at the university, in debates at seminary, in sermons at church. Falsehood often comes dressed up and attractive.

God’s simple call to faith in his Son is often abused either through legalism or libertarianism. In Paul’s day, the tendency in the church was toward legalism, which he proceeded to describe.

3. False teaching (4:3)

Rules are good when used to maintain proper boundaries in life and to create a harmonious and orderly existence. But when adherence to rules becomes an attempt to placate God or to earn righteousness or salvation, they become deadly. Rules elevate human achievement and devalue the goodness of God. There is only one way to restore and maintain relationship with the holy God—trust in his Son, Jesus Christ.

4:3. Paul wrote of the legalists as those who forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods.

Legalism enslaves people to joyless toil. Such systems misrepresent the God of grace and belittle the work of Christ on the cross. They lead people down a path of grinding effort, at the end of which there is no God—only insecurities, mental anguish, and more labor.

The particulars of a legalistic system are not as important as its assumptions. In fact, the legalist often uses convincing arguments that have the ring of truth. Forbidding people to marry, for instance, may have come from Jesus’ own teaching about Paradise-to-come in which there would be no marriage. Abstaining from certain foods may have been rooted in the Genesis account of paradise-past when vegetarianism seems to have been the rule.

There is nothing wrong with singleness, nor is there anything wrong with maintaining a strict diet. But the Word of God is twisted when these particulars are put forth as demands, as absolutes in gaining God’s approval. Nowhere in Scripture is marriage forbidden. In fact, it is honored and instituted by God from Creation. Paul described the advantages of single life as allowing extra time for serving God, but he did not make singleness a rule.

Dietary restrictions were a Jewish concern dating back to the giving of the Law, but in Acts 10 God opened up the storehouses of creation. Nothing which comes from God is forbidden as long as it is received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth.

Disciplines are good in controlling our spirit and guiding us, but they must never become law. The law of God for righteousness has been fulfilled by Christ; our task is to abide in him.

4. Correct teaching (4:4–5)

4:4–5. Paul did not refute the antimarriage argument because he had implied his endorsement earlier in 1 Timothy (3:2, 12). But he did face the food issue by asserting that everything God created is good. He told the Corinthians, “Food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do” (1 Cor. 8:8).

Paul also declared: Nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer. This statement extends beyond diet, creating a context for understanding life and godliness. The touch of God purifies. In him there is no darkness at all. Everything that comes from God is good. In addition, prayer and Scripture go along with thanksgiving. By these a transformation takes place as a believer acknowledges God as the source of all that is good.

B. The Good Minister of Christ Jesus (4:6–16)

Supporting Idea: In contrast to the false teachers, the good follower of Christ is one who adheres to correct doctrine, teaches it to others, exalts Christ as Lord, and disciplines himself to be a model for godly living.

1. The good minister (4:6)

4:6. The following instructions were directed to Timothy, a minister of the gospel, and to all Christian leaders. But Paul’s words were not for the select few. They apply to all believers in Christ.

Paul referred back to the warnings he has just given about false teaching. He told Timothy, If you point these things out to the brothers, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus. Leaders cannot afford to let doctrinal compromise or wrong ideas creep into their congregations. These fundamental issues of faith and right action must be guarded.

Further, Paul reminded all Christians that a good minister is one who continues in the truths of the faith and the good teaching. Constant spiritual nourishment is essential. Out of it our lives and teaching flow. Ministry work must never become so demanding that the first priority of spending time in personal spiritual renewal and growth is ignored. Ministry will lose its power and effectiveness when leaders neglect their spiritual development.

2. Warnings and directions (4:7–11)

4:7. Not everything promoted as spiritual is good for our development. Some things fall under the category of godless myths and old wives’ tales. These are to be strictly avoided. Paul declared. In our own time these may come in the guise of new theologies, popular spiritual movements, curiosities about numbers, pyramids, and dates. We must be aware of all the false and distracting “knowledge” that presents itself as spiritual and then stay far from it and warn others of its ungodly results. To be able to discern the false from the true, a believer must be solidly grounded in the truth of God.

We can safeguard ourselves and those we lead or influence by training ourselves to be godly. In contrast to the legalism of the false teachers, who supposed that godliness had to do with laws of self-denial, true godliness centers on a life lived in the truth of God’s revealed Word.

The Greek word gymnazo is translated “train.” It means to exercise ourselves. Doing this takes discipline and purposeful decision. Nobody ever wakes up “trained” or stumbles into exercise. The person who benefits most from exercise does it routinely and with determination. The athlete stretches and runs because these exercises lead him toward the greater goal of fitness. In the same way, prayer, fasting, Bible study, and other disciplines are not ends in themselves but means to a fuller relationship with God. We pursue righteousness, peace, and love because we pursue God.

4:8. Paul declared, Physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things. Physical training is limited to just that—the physical dimensions of life. Godliness, on the other hand, penetrates every aspect of life. Godliness affects everything: our view of self, marriage, parenting, business, civic responsibilities, environmental outlook, relationship with our next-door neighbors. Nothing escapes godliness; it covers everything.

Godliness is not limited only to the present; it also extends to our life to come: Godliness [holds] promise for both the present life and the life to come. It does not matter if a person invests in physical exercise or careful dietary plans. Inevitably, death confronts us. Jesus addressed this truth when he said, “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:36). What we become in this life we carry into eternity.

4:9–10. Spiritual growth and nourishment and disciplines for godliness do not exist in a vacuum. They must be grounded in the living Christ. Paul underscored this idea by stating, This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance. This is the thing for which the apostles and followers of Christ labor and strive. They had one purpose in their work. They committed themselves to one urgent and pressing goal—the spread of the gospel.

Their hope was not in performance, legalisms, or mere talk. The touchstone of faith for all who believe is that hope is placed in the living God, who is the Savior of all men. The God we follow is living, interactive, and present in our lives. Our confidence rests in a God who is ever-living.

Since only God is the Savior of all people, only one message brings hope to the human condition. If there is only one way by which people can be saved into a new realm of God’s rule and righteousness, then it is imperative that we tell others about this way.

Although God is the Savior of all, not everyone will be saved. Abiding trust is the requisite for such salvation. He is the Savior especially of those who believe. There will be those who refuse, some who cling to idols. They will fulfill Jonah’s ancient and prophetic voice, “Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs” (Jon. 2:8).

Those who put their hope in the living God acknowledge the truth and embrace the truth. They believe that “Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God” and know that “by believing [they] have life in his name” (John 20:31). We do not believe and then add works to our faith, just to make sure. We do not believe and then make up additional rules for righteousness. We put full trust in Christ, resting in his righteousness.

Our spiritual discipline and godly training are designed not to gain favor with God but to reinforce our trust in him.

4:11. Paul’s instruction was for Timothy and all church leaders to command and teach others about the Savior. Grace is no side issue. Legalism is no weak enemy. Rules are great for discipline but not for righteousness.

3. Conduct (4:12)

4:12. Chronological age does not necessarily bring spiritual maturity (He. 5:11–14). Deep devotion and spiritual strength as well as apathy and weakness can be found among young and old alike. Paul’s encouragement to Timothy, Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, should remind us that the issue for leadership is never age but spiritual development. True spiritual progress is more than exegetical expertise; it is marked by exemplary conduct and love.

But whatever the response of those around us, age is never an excuse for speaking or leading. As Christians we are to set an example in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.

Speech and life encompass the observable aspects of life. It is how we conduct ourselves. Speech is a valid indicator of a person’s character, “for out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matt. 12:34). Of course, the point is not to muzzle our mouths, for we can be silent and very wicked. The principle is to pursue Christ so diligently that the inner spirit is purified, producing only good and appropriate things to say. The same is true of our outward acts, our lifestyle.

Faith and love are the essence of the Christian life. Faith is our knowledge and confidence in Christ, our deep reliance on what he has done and what he declares as truth. Love is the Holy Spirit’s action in our life, the evidence of our relationship with the God who rules.

Purity refers to sexual conduct and integrity of heart. Sexuality seems to be a mysterious picture of our relationship to God. God is very particular about how we treat our bodies and honor others. Sexual purity is a symbol of spiritual consecration. Misconduct in this area of life ruins fellowship with Christ and destroys a person’s influence and reputation with others.

Authentic spirituality cannot be separated from inner righteousness. Christianity which is honest and genuine envelopes the entire person, from inner heart and spirit to outward behavior.

4. Worship (4:13)

4:13. Paul told Timothy to give his energies to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching when the church came together.

The public reading of Scripture, along with teaching, was an accepted custom of the Jews in the synagogues (Acts 13:15). This practice is carried over to Christian worship. Reading God’s Word is a command for church life, but God does allow flexibility in how services are conducted. There are many variations and styles of worship which may be used, as long as they point to Christ and his grace. But within stylistic and cultural preferences, there are certain essentials that must undergird worship. One of these essentials is the public reading of Scripture.

The Word of God is powerful (Heb. 4:12); creates change (Isa. 55:11); is essential for life (Deut. 8:3). Too often our familiarity with the Bible causes us to forget that these written words contain the very breath of God—his wisdom and intelligence, yearnings, energy, strategies, and humor. The Bible is a bit of the mind and personality of God laid open for us.

The public reading of God’s Word prepares our minds and hearts for the preaching or teaching which follows. The Holy Spirit acts through the revealed truth which God has given. As the church reads and affirms what God has declared, the Spirit is freed to instruct, convict, and guide.

The public reading of Scripture also hedges the church against error. The problems facing Timothy and the Ephesians centered on false teaching. The corporate reading of truth is a defense against falsehood.

Preaching (exhorting) and teaching (explaining) are also essentials of public worship. Preaching deals with encouragement, exhortation, and warnings from which the preacher intends to elicit a response from the hearers. Teaching is regarded as instructional. A teacher explains the principles of Scripture in more intellectual terms.

The point is not to create some rigid rules, but to understand that both teaching and preaching are Spirit-given gifts which must be exercised for the good of the fellowship of believers.

5. Spiritual gifts and God’s call (4:14)

4:14. Although this verse is an intensely personal message to Timothy regarding his spiritual gift, the same directive can be leveled to all Christians, especially those who lead: Do not neglect your gift.

Each Christian leader has been specifically gifted in some way by God for ministry. The peculiar ability is given for the benefit of the church. With the gift comes a God-exacted responsibility which cannot be shunned.

The gift Paul referred to here was some capability which Timothy was given. This was not some inherent ability. It came through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you. It seems likely that this was Timothy’s ordination into ministry, a ceremony of approval by mature Christian leaders signified by the laying on of hands. This was an affirmation of God’s call upon Timothy’s life for special ministry to God and his church. It made him responsible to both—the God who called him and the people whom he served.

6. Endurance (4:15)

4:15. Having outlined what is required for being a good minister before God and his people—what, in fact, is involved in true Christian living—Paul told Timothy to be diligent in all these things. The word diligence means “to keep at it,” “to practice with serious intent.” This is not a once-in-a-while proposition. This is day-to-day dedication.

Paul reinforced this appeal: give yourself wholly to [these matters]. Literally this means, “be in these.” Live them, breathe them, immerse yourself in them. This is your life, not a job. As Thomas Carlyle said, “No man ever became a saint in his sleep.” This admonition was directed toward all who claim to be followers of Christ. Such a life does not happen automatically without concerted effort and desire. As Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples” (John 8:31). A true follower or disciple of Christ abides, or lives, in what Jesus taught.

If we live in God’s teaching, pursuing him every waking moment, everyone [will] see your progress. A life growing progressively close to God, dynamically changing, cannot be hidden. Christianity is not a matter of creed bun of life. Timothy was to lead the way by pouring himself into Christian life and ministry. The church would respond because it would see progress, the authentic presence of Christ in his people.

4:16. Paul recapped what he has just written in detail: watch your life and doctrine closely. Ultimately, Timothy could effectively control only himself. We are the only person over whom we have immediate authority. My ability to lead and influence others is connected to my ability to manage and live my own life well. The Christian life hinges on conduct (life) as empowered by God’s Spirit and correct faith (doctrine).

Paul could not emphasize it enough: persevere in [Christian life and doctrine]. Perseverance is evidence of salvation; a disciplined person is willing to continue in God’s way. Such commitment will be tried again and again.

The result of such continuance and devotion is that it would save both yourself and your hearers. Salvation is a process. It has a beginning point at conversion and its full realization when we are united with Christ. In between is the process of becoming more Christlike in our person and behavior. Exemplary living and God’s truth will safeguard the leader and those whom he leads. A leader’s perseverance in godliness will save his congregation from the dangers of false teachings which can shipwreck faith and cause ruin to the soul.

Main Idea Review: The outward life of a person flows from his or her inner spirit. Those who discipline themselves to follow after Jesus Christ, who are focused on living out the truth of God’s revelation, will develop a life of growing intimacy with Christ They will delight God, producing goodness and godliness in what they do.

   Holman New Testament Commentary - 1 & 2 Thessalonians, 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon
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“If we love, we can never observe the other person with detachment, for he is always and at every moment a living claim to our love and service.”  Dietrich Bonhoeffer

In A Nutshell

Chapter 5 has specific instructions about how the pastor should relate to the various people within the church. Paul described worthy and unworthy widows and the church’s responsibility for them. Then he called the church to honor its pastors, gave Timothy some medical advice, and concluded with another comment about people’s character.

Relationships and Responsibilities Within the Church

I. Introduction

Just the Facts, Ma’am

Journalism has always claimed unbiased reporting. Though in recent years the media’s image has suffered, the common perception of its objectivity continues to preserve its force in public life as the guardian of truth and distributor of information.

But the nagging question persists about whether a journalist can be impartial. Behind every report, from the simplest to the most complex, is a grid of values, intentions, and assumptions held by the reporter. It is this matrix which determines the tone as well as the inclusion or exclusion of events, interviews, and background information. Add to this mix the drive to track down something the reporter suspects is true, and objectivity all but disappears.

But the journalist is not alone in this tangle of fact, opinion, and desire. We all filter our choices through an intricate system of preferences, values, emotions, and experiences.

How, then, are we to understand Paul’s insistence on objectivity—his command to avoid all favoritism?

As imitators of a God who acts consistently with his nature, we are under obligation to live from the power of his indwelling character in us (Eph. 6:9; Col. 3:25). Expediency, personality, position, or public pressure should never sway a Christian’s decision or weaken his resolve to do what is right (Jas. 2:1, 2:9).

In writing to Timothy, Paul gave parameters for enacting justice within the church, providing safeguards against personal opinion and politics. Whether it is interpersonal relationships, extending financial aid to the needy, investigating accusations against a leader, or disciplining someone who has sinned, impartial judgment is required because we act on behalf of God.

Anticipating the temptation to compromise, Paul demanded a detachment from the opinions of others and even from ourselves. He emphasized personal responsibility and godliness as the foundations for distributing Christian compassion and mercy without prejudice.

II. Commentary

Main Idea: The leader must be exemplary in his interpersonal behavior, associating with all age groups and economic classes, modeling truth and godliness with dignity and grace. The church also has responsibilities toward its members, particularly in providing for widows and leaders. Church benevolence and support must adhere to strict guidelines.

A. The Church Leader’s Relationships (5:1–2)

Supporting Idea: Throughout the Bible various metaphors are applied to the church to emphasize particular qualities. In these verses Paul described the relationship between the pastor and the members of his congregation in terms of a family. As a family unit, believers are to interact with love and honor.

5:1. People are sensitive to their own weaknesses. Drawing attention to their failings is often painful. Even so, a pastor must not shrink from the obligation to exhort and correct. The heart of the pastor and the manner in which he approaches others is crucial determining whether the rebuke and guidance will be positive or counterproductive. When done in a judgmental or heartless way, rebuke can cause more harm than good. This is why Paul gave careful instruction on how a leader should approach the people under his care.

He told Timothy and all pastors to teach or correct an older man … as if he were your father. In the West we have tried to obliterate generational differences through a familiarity which borders on presumption. But Paul wisely counseled a respect for age. Honoring a person because of age does not mean the pastor holds back correction when needed. But he should exercise correction in a gentle and respectful manner and not with authoritarian coldness. The same holds true in dealing with older women who are to be treated as mothers.

The pastor will also have to interact with peers or those younger than himself. In those situations he should treat younger men as brothers. The pastor should not be condescending. Rather, this is a call to mutual respect and equality. The same applies in dealing with younger women whom the pastor is to treat as sisters, with absolute purity.

The additional clause is a reminder that the pastor must be above all suspicion sexually and relationally with those under his care. In his letters, Paul recognized women friends, but as always their friendship was centered in ministry. Lydia was a great help to the church and to Paul personally (Acts 16:14–15), and several women in the closing chapter of Romans were thanked for their hard work (Rom. 16:3–15). Paul’s warning to Timothy was that the pastor must not take advantage of his position and compromise the name of Christ.

B. Specific Care for Widows (5:3–16)

Supporting Idea: God always cares for those who exist on the margins of society. He has established certain structures, the church and family, to provide help and compassion for those who are left alone. But each party has specific responsibilities in receiving and enacting God’s provision.

1. Defining widows (5:3–4)

5:3. Paul launched into a detailed explanation about the care of widows. Why were widows such a major concern? There were some abuses occurring within the church which needed correction. Paul was simply exposing the nature of God, whom the church is to model—a nature which has always demonstrated compassion for the powerless.

Paul began his discussion by urging the church to give proper recognition (honor) to … widows. This refers to financial or material support and care. The same word is used later in 1 Timothy 5:17 in reference to paying pastors. But being a widow was not the only criterion that qualified a person for financial support by the church. They must be widows who are really in need, widows in the full sense of the word. These must be women who were totally alone in the world, who were without resources.

5:4. True need is the starting point for any church considering the support of a widow. The church is under no obligation to care for widows who have family members still living: if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family.

Asian and African cultures, with their inclusion of extended family and cross-generational relationships, have a much better understanding of family cohesion and care than do Western societies. Our idolizing of independence often severs us from the sense of gratitude and long-term reciprocity which God, intends for a family.

While no parent invests time and energy into raising children simply to be repaid for it, the ties and obligations of family relationships do not rest entirely upon parents. Children and grandchildren have the opportunity to give back time, love, and material support. They should also grow up with he expectation that this is their privilege and duty, especially to those widowed within their family. The church should be vocal and supportive in instilling these values in children and grandchildren.

It is to our shame that in Western nations the children often leave parents to their own devices or to social welfare programs. It certainly should not be so among God’s people.

Paul understood that those who gave proper care to their family had put their religion into practice, and this is pleasing to God. This is the practicality of faith, the essence of belief, for God tells us to honor our parents (Deut. 5:16; Eph. 6:1–2). This is one way in which we carry out our trust in God’s values.

2. Worthy and unworthy widows (5:5–6)

5:5. Having distinguished between widows according to need, Paul focused on a widow’s spiritual state. In this way he further limited the conditions under which the church could use its financial resources.

Paul began with what might be termed “the worthy widow.” This was a woman destitute, who is really in need and left all alone. Once again he called attention to her circumstances, her lack of resources both financial v. 3) and familial (v. 4). But even these were not enough to commend her for church support. The worthy widow was also a woman who puts her hope in God. This was evidenced as she continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help.

The limited resources of the church must be extended only to those who reflect the church’s mission and spiritual communion with God. The worthy widow relied upon the grace of God, and in this hope she was confident of his provision. Day by day she waited persistently and expectantly for God’s care.

5:6. In stark contrast, the unworthy widow was one who lives for pleasure. The church should not support such a widow, for she had invested her hope in this world. God stands aside and allows her desire; he expects the church to do the same. She will be granted her pleasure, however long it may last and whatever results it may reap. We can be certain, however, that it will not last long enough or bring fulfilling life, for she is pronounced dead even while she lives.

A widow like this becomes proof that the one who tries to “save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me [Christ] will find it” (Matt. 16:25). The widow who lived selfishly, for her own pleasure, was not due the support of family or church. Helping her financially implied agreement and supported her in her waywardness.

3. Christian obligation (5:7–8)

5:7. Paul wanted Timothy to give the people these instructions; the entire congregation was in mind as he wrote. They were to understand thoroughly all his instructions so that no one may be open to blame.

5:8. One of the ways Paul wanted believers to be blameless, even to those outside the faith, was in family care. He returned again to the theme of verse 4, emphasizing that someone who does not provide for his relatives, particularly immediate family, has denied the faith. He may have had in mind the false teachers who were disparaging marriage (1 Tim. 4:3) and, by implication, the entire family structure with its duties and responsibilities.

There are different ways to disown the faith. A person can repudiate it outright or deny it by lifestyle. Titus 1:16 describes people who “claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him.”

We must remember that these instructions were given to believers, followers of Jesus Christ. So if a widow had living relatives who were believers and they neglected to care for her, the church was not simply to pick up the slack and assume the family’s responsibility. The first thing the church should do was to correct the family and hold it accountable for its lack of love, its irresponsibility, and the damage it incurred against the reputation of the church. Any family member who neglected his first obligation to family has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

4. Qualifications for church-supported ministry (5:9–10)

5:9–10. Apparently there was a list of widows in the early church. This list registered widows who had dedicated themselves to ministry in such a way that they qualified for financial support by the church. As with any person dedicated to service (like pastors and deacons), certain characteristics must be evident in the candidate.

In regard to widows dedicated to service, she was to be over sixty. This was considered the age of retirement in the first century. Also, in contrast to the younger women addressed in verse 11 and following, being over sixty would typically have placed these women past the “marriageable” age. This would have safeguarded them from abandoning their commitment to ministry.

A widow was also to have been faithful to her husband when he was alive. Literally, she was to be known as a “one-man woman.” Does this mean that a woman was unqualified for church-supported ministry if she had been married twice? This seems unlikely or Paul’s encouragement to younger widow to remarry would have disqualified them for this special service in their older years. Instead, being a “one-man woman” speaks of faithfulness and loyalty. This is reminiscent of the qualifications for elders and deacons in 1 Timothy 3:2, 12.

In addition, the widow was to be well known for her good deeds. Paul then provided a partial list of these deeds, none of which required exceptional Christian faith and courage. But this is the glory of the gospel and of Christ among us. He honors even the common activities of daily life.

The widow’s good deeds included bringing up children, caring for their physical and spiritual welfare and development. Her life must be characterized by hospitality, the opening of her home to strangers and to those in need. Paul also included in his list washing the feet of the saints. Foot washing was a job usually reserved for slaves, but these women followed in the way of Christ, who exalted this dirty and lowly task, sanctifying it as an expression of love (John 13:4–15).

The widow was also to have a reputation for helping people in distress. Paul concluded with a catchall phrase that covered anything deemed good: she was to be known for helping those in trouble and … all kinds of good deeds.

These are not the traits recommended for women within the pages of popular women’s magazines. But God’s ways are not our ways. They often run counter to our natural inclinations. All these qualities portray a woman with an open heart and home, given to the care of others in the name of Christ. They are the qualities which bring joy and purpose to life.

These descriptions were meant as a guideline for churches helping widows. They are also a reminder of what God sees as virtues in any woman indeed, in any follower. True faith shows in loyalty and love—especially at home but also in service to others.

Paul’s statements also make a strong argument against applying a retirement mentality to Christian living. Service to Christ and others is not reserved for the young. In fact, physically and mentally capable people entering retirement often have more discretionary time to devote to church ministry, teaching, discipling, and missions.

5. Younger widows (5:11–15)

5:11–12. In case the church was tempted to overlook the first qualification for the registry of widows, Paul emphasized the age factor by stating, do not put [younger widows] on such a list. Paul’s overriding concern was for the reputation and welfare of the believing community, the church. It was this passion which drove his instructions about younger widows.

Paul recognized that people go through different stages of life. Desires and ambitions have a tendency to change as we grow older. His first observation was that when their sensual desires overcome their dedication to Christ, [young widows] want to marry.

This may be the simple recognition that sexual desires are more active in younger women. Paul gave similar advice in 1 Corinthians 7:8–9. It is possible that after dedicating themselves to service in the church they become restless in their singleness.

Passions and personal desire grow strong. They turn away from their commitment to Christ and his church to get married. By rejecting this first pledge (either of ministry or faith) they bring judgment on themselves. First Corinthians 7:32–35 is a good companion text for understanding Paul’s view of marriage and its obligations.

5:13. Another reason Paul wanted younger widows excluded from the list of widows was because they get into the habit of being idle. They become gossips and busybodies, saying things they ought not to.

These women appeared to have no strong purpose in life. In vivid contrast to the widow given to prayer and good deeds (vv. 5, 10), these women tended to waste their time. Rather than busy themselves in works of service, speaking encouragement and directing others to Christ, they were busy in everyone’s affairs, running here and there, exchanging stories. They spread not love and faith but selfishness and distrust.

5:14. In order to protect younger women from falling in with the general Ephesian population of gadabouts, Paul advised younger widows to marry, to have children, to manage their homes.

This is not settling for second best, for Paul had already commended the faith of others as exhibited in these same engagements of life—a good home, well-trained children. It is in these areas that God’s kingdom can take hold and spread and so allow the enemy no opportunity for slander. Channeling the energies of the individual believer to good works robbed Satan of the chance to infiltrate the heart and thinking of these young women; the church was then free from disgrace before the unbelieving community.

5:15. Sadly, casualties of the faith always exist. Though true doctrine is guarded, correction is given, and love is extended, still there will be those who turn away to follow Satan.

Following Satan can take many forms. It could be that these women were the same as those in 2 Timothy 3:6 who were “weak-willed” and “loaded down with sins” and so became swayed by the false teachers. Paul labeled these false doctrines as demonic (1 Tim. 4:1). It may also be that the women became enamored with society’s values and its pleasures. But there is no middle ground in life: “friendship with the world is hatred toward God” (Jas. 4:4); “If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15); Paul delivers the unfaithful over to Satan, the world system (1 Tim. 1:19–20).

5:16. Paul concluded the section on widows by drawing a line back to the family. Women are not just recipients of welfare; they may also be the deliverers of compassion. If a believing woman has widows in her family, she should help them and not let the church be burdened.

The church, then, is not to give indiscriminate handouts. Each family bears the primary responsibility for providing for its own “needy.” The church should not weaken this God-given duty by assuming the care of everyone.

Nor is need alone sufficient reason for financial support. For the sake of the church’s reputation, the church should give financial backing only to those who exhibit true need along with spiritual maturity and service. By implication, since the church is obligated to care for these people, the name of Christ is dishonored if this duty is neglected.

Paul gave directives for a purposeful life: an older widow’s good deeds, a younger woman’s godly home. God and his church confirm the significance of every person, regardless of age, sex, or marital status.

God has set forth a welfare structure of compassion which guards against abuse, recognizes true need, and affirms the dignity and value of each individual.

C. Special Counsel About Pastors (5:17–25)

Supporting Idea: Managing church leadership requires a balance of respect, impartiality, and appropriate discipline. It requires a recognition and appreciation for hard work and caution in appointing people to such a vital task.

1. Recognition of church leaders (5:17–18)

5:17. Some people read this verse and think it refers to two groups of elders: the administrators who direct the affairs of the church well, and those whose work is preaching and teaching. Most likely, however, Paul was speaking of pastors in general. Teaching was a task for all pastors (1 Tim. 3:2).

The more important point, however, was that those pastors who apply themselves to their job should do it well. Those who serve faithfully before God are deserving of double honor.

“Double honor” could mean they deserved twice as much pay, but this poses some difficulties: double what he got last year? double someone else who did not do as well? double from the church down the road? double what he expected? Paul probably intended that the pastor receive honor in double form: through fair pay and the respect and obedience of the congregation.

Certainly he was eager that the church recognize the dignity and value of the pastor who did his job conscientiously (1 Tim. 3:1). The word work, used in conjunction with preaching and teaching, emphasizes energy, labor, working to the point of weariness. At the same time, the church must respect the life of their pastor by protecting him from overwork and low pay.

5:18. To give biblical credence to Paul’s claim that a pastor should be given an honorable wage, he cited two scriptural precedents representative of all the created order. The first comes from the law: do not muzzle an ox (Deut. 25:4); the second points to Jesus’ teaching: the worker deserves his wages (Luke 10:7).

2. Protection and correction of leaders (5:19–20)

5:19. Because leaders are always more open to unfair criticisms, gossip, and allegations, no accusation against a pastor or elder should be considered unless it is brought by two or three witnesses. The roots of this counsel are founded in the timeless wisdom of God as given to ancient Israel (Deut. 19:15). It was confirmed by Jesus (Matt. 18:15–17) and Paul (see also 2 Cor. 13:1).

Stories abound about churches where one person made an accusation against a pastor or leader. The word spread and, like “feathers thrown to the wind,” could never be recaptured even though the claim was untrue. Paul’s instruction here is a wise way to approach any damaging claims against another person.

5:20. But there may be occasions when a church leader is found guilty of sin. If so, that leader is to be rebuked publicly, so that the others may take warning. The rebuke is intended to produce repentance in the sinner and to emphasize to the congregation the seriousness of sin. It is also a statement regarding the influence of a leader and how his actions affect those under his care. With the hope that restoration will occur, those who have broken congregational trust must appear before those whom they have violated.

This is another clear biblical directive that is often ignored today in deference to saving the offending person from embarrassment. It should not be so.

3. How to lead leaders (5:21–22)

5:21. The temptation for many people, even those in leadership, is to avoid the uncomfortable, especially when it involves disciplinary actions against a colleague. But Paul was unequivocal when he told Timothy to keep these instructions without partiality, and to do nothing out of favoritism. Objectivity and impartiality are important for a pastor if he is to lead well. The leader must exercise judgment in the same way that God discharges it—without favoritism.

Paul added special import to this instruction by giving his charge in the sight of God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels. Paul called as his witnesses God, the judge over all; Jesus Christ, the coming judge of the earth; and the elect angels, those who carry out the righteous judgments of God. Since the pastor and the church embody Christ in this present world, they must act in ways that do not compromise the nature of their Lord.

5:22. The undercurrent throughout this letter is unblemished Christian witness. This maintains its strength through pure doctrine and pure living. It almost seems unnecessary in view of all Paul has written that he should have to warn Timothy to not be hasty in the laying on of hands. The descriptions of false teachers and the list of qualifications for elders and deacons would seem to preclude hasty recruitment to the office of church leadership. But pressed by the necessity to fill jobs, or attracted by the personality of a candidate, churches sometimes minimize certain qualifications, gloss over “minor” problems, and become blind to potential difficulties. This is why Paul demanded impartiality when exercising leadership decisions. He also emphasized patient, careful selection of church leaders.

Paul ended this thought with a sober warning: and do not share in the sins of others. Careless selection of those called to represent God and his church can involve the appointing pastor in the sins of those selected. Through the laying on of hands, a leader identifies with the ordained person, touching him with blessing as well as approval. Haste or sloppiness in appointing people to ministry can also lead to personal compromise. What is overlooked in a fellow leader may be more easily excused in one’s own life.

The conclusion of the matter? Keep yourself pure. This responsibility can never be delegated. Paul had already encouraged Timothy to “train [himself] to be godly” (1 Tim. 4:7). Each pastor, each professed believer is responsible for his or her own soul in this area. The church and other Christians must help us in our spiritual journey, but we decide what disciplines will become part of our lives.

For example, there may be a wonderful health club just down the street from your house. It may offer the latest in diet plans, exercise equipment, and personal training. But if you do not take the time to eat the right foods, visit the club, or use the equipment, it will not make any difference in your life.

The same is true spiritually. A church can offer wonderful worship services, appropriate Bible classes, and spiritual mentoring, but we must take the personal steps toward growth. Attendance alone will never generate spiritual maturity.

4. Christian liberty (5:23)

5:23. After warning Timothy not to be dragged into the sins of others, Paul gave this young pastor a health tip: stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses. This sentence seems out of place, sandwiched between verses about sinfulness.

This verse should not be used as license to encourage the drinking of alcohol. It is more likely that, in order to clarify his directive for Timothy to keep himself pure, Paul put in this exception clause. He wanted to keep Timothy from being drawn into the same wrong thinking and practices as the false teachers who promoted a brand of asceticism (1 Tim. 4:2–3). Denial may have its place at times, but it is not law. Those who insist on particular codes of behavior without flexibility wander dangerously close to the legalism Jesus so vehemently opposed. Perhaps Timothy needed to be reminded of grace.

5. Reaping what we sow (5:24–25)

5:24–25. Everyone will realize the fruit of their life’s efforts, whether good or ill, whether now or later.

Paul stated that the sins of some men are obvious. Some people are so given to sinful behavior that their sins precede them, reaching the place of judgment ahead of them. This phrase probably refers to the selection of church leaders. Some people are obviously unfit for the ministry.

Paul understood the human heart, so he warned Timothy that the sins of others trail behind them. These were people practiced in duplicitous living, who faked spirituality on the outside while a life of sin persisted within. That is why caution and patience is needed in appointing people to ministry. Time and observation will eventually reveal the inner spirit.

Whether sins are obvious or unseen, they do bear fruit. Our inner life cannot be totally hidden. Sin has a way of seeping out through attitude, careless speech, and unloving actions.

The flip side of this is that in the same way good deeds are obvious. Some people have a reputation for good deeds and service to others. Such individuals have passed some of the basic qualifications for church leadership. Even so, as Paul warned, caution is always in order and the candidate must meet all qualifications.

Other people are good in a quiet way, working behind the scenes. These good deeds, though unknown to others, cannot be hidden. Again, time will reveal them. Some people who seek church leadership may appear to fail the basic requirement of good deeds. Through patience their inner Christian character will be brought to light. True godliness cannot be kept secret.

Once again Paul restated a timeless principle: We reap what we sow. This is most often true in this life; it is unquestionably so in the life to come. God will reveal all that has been hidden, some for judgment, others for reward.

Main Idea Review: The leader must be exemplary in his interpersonal behavior, associating with all age groups and economic classes, modeling truth and godliness with dignity and grace. The church also has responsibilities toward its members, particularly in providing for widows and leaders. Church benevolence and support must adhere to strict guidelines.

   Holman New Testament Commentary - 1 & 2 Thessalonians, 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon
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“We are to work, knowing that nothing of ultimate value can be gained because everything of real value has already been given.”  J. A. Walter

In A Nutshell

Many new believers in the first century were slaves. Paul, in an unexpected reversal, gave them strong words on how to treat their masters. He discussed again the important issues of false teachers and people who love controversies and endless arguments. Much of the rest of this practical chapter is about money—how to be content, to avoid the love-of-money trap, and what to pursue instead. Paul’s closing challenges about faithfulness (vv. 13–16) and keeping the truth (vv. 20–21) should be posted in our homes and hearts.

Finding Contentment in God

I. Introduction

Cadillac Coffins

The comedian Bill Cosby tells the story of a wealthy man’s funeral arrangements. Upon the man’s death his family bustled about to fulfill the man’s requests, ordering the right flowers, pressing into service the right minister, selecting the proper hymns.

The day of his burial arrived. His prepared body was eased into a casket, then placed in a shiny, chrome-trimmed automobile—he was to be buried in his prized Cadillac.

As the funeral cortege slowly moved down the street, some children watching from the curb saw the Cadillac bearing the dead man. They gazed admiration as one little boy remarked, “Man. that is livin’.”

Escalating incomes, the rise of personal debt, and rampant consumerism seem to support the notion that life consists of stuff. It is summed up in the slogan, “He who dies with the most toys wins.” Others smile and quip, “Money is not the most important thing, but it is way ahead of whatever is in second place.”

Most people live by such a philosophy. If we examine our priorities and habits, we might be surprised at how this view of life has crept into our own thinking. You do not have to be rich to make riches a priority or to be captivated by wealth.

“I know,” we sigh on our way to the store, “money does not buy happiness.” But what, exactly, does it buy? What does a preoccupation with material goodies get us? Admittedly, a little more comfort. Most certainly, a lot more headaches. Without a doubt, loss in the life to come.

Paul was open and candid in this closing chapter of 1 Timothy. He addressed two groups of people who seemed to have nothing in common—the slave and the rich. Both ends of the social spectrum, and all those in between, need to understand that contentment is not found in circumstances or stuff. Peace of soul is found in pursuing godliness, in chasing after God.

II. Commentary

Main Idea: For most people, becoming a Christian does not entail a dramatic change in occupation, living conditions, salary, or neighborhood. Christ calls us to extend his kingdom from the place we now occupy, whether as CEO, student, mother, clerk, or migrant farmer. Contentment, the pursuit of godliness, and bold identification with Christ are foundational to effective Christian living.

A. Slaves and Masters (6:1–2)

Supporting Idea: Becoming a follower of Christ does not release a person from obligations or unpleasant conditions. Instead, being a Christian presents us with a higher standard in all circumstances and relationships.

6:1. Though Paul did not condone slavery (he condemned the slave trader along with murderers in 1 Tim. 1:9–10), it is clear that for Christians, social redemption is secondary to personal redemption. Cultural changes occur out of the transformation of individual lives and the witness of the church. This is why Paul could write that all who are under the yoke of slavery should consider their masters worthy of full respect.

Paul understood that if the gospel became identified with social upheaval, as in the freeing of slaves or even the emancipation of women, the Christian faith would be seen as a threat to the existing order and peace. This was, in fact, a common accusation leveled at Christians. Paul wanted to guard the reputation of the gospel as much as possible so the kingdom of God did not become entangled with the kingdoms of earth, thereby hindering the true message of Christ. Consequently, Paul told slaves to give respect to their masters, so that God’s name and our teaching may not be slandered.

Paul knew that salvation is not wrapped up in the alteration of society. No lasting change is brought about by political agitation or revolution. Such approaches do not solve the dilemma of man’s relationship to God or the eternal destiny of the soul. Cultural liberation can occur and stabilize only when the people within the culture have been deeply changed. Only spiritual revolution can secure this.

It is also a fundamental doctrine of the Christian faith that all people are equal before God. The cross of Christ is the great leveler, with the powerful and the powerless coming to salvation the same, simple way. And so, though it may seem scandalous to us, God longs for the salvation of the oppressor as much as the oppressed.

When a hierarchy of authority exists, whether in government, social relationships, jobs, or within the church, God always requires the giving of honor and respect to those in power. In our own time and culture, this could certainly be applied to employee and employer relations. It reflects the divine order of God as our head.

6:2. A new dimension is introduced when slave and slave owner are both Christians. Though Christian faith makes many proclamations about freedom (Luke 4:18–19; John 8:32; 2 Cor. 3:17; Gal. 3:28), it does so in recognition of a spiritual reality that is not yet realized in the social context.

Christianity brings us into new relationships with one another, but the fullness of these relationships is not always achieved immediately or even in this life. That is why slaves who have believing masters are not to show less respect for them because they are brothers.

Some of the wealthy Christians of New Testament times had slaves and stewards in their households. Embracing Christianity did not free the slave from his situation, nor did it lessen his obligations of service to his master. Quite the opposite. Coming to Christ creates a new relationship not only between the individual and God but also between the individual and other people. Slave and master were now brothers, bonded together in God’s family. This increased the obligation of service to one another.

In fact, entry into God’s family holds the believer to a higher standard. The slave is to serve them even better. Why? Because those who benefit from their service are believers, and dear to them. Here is that exceptional love for which Christians and the church should be known—love that overrides roles, titles, jobs, and economic status and works for the benefit of others.

Of course Paul’s instructions were based on mutual respect and submission to one another. The balancing instructions to masters are found in his letter to Philemon and also in Ephesians 6:9.

B. Understanding Contentment (6:3–10)

Supporting Idea: Paul profiled the twisted and unhealthy thinking which results in false teachings. Often it leads people to approach religion as a mercenary would—for profit and: personal gain. But those distracted by the pursuit of money will open themselves up to harm. True purpose and peace are found in godliness.

6:3. Paul had just told Timothy to teach the principles of honor, submission, obedience, and love as found in the slave-master relationship. Paul knew that Timothy would be challenged in this area, most likely by the false teachers. So the apostle set the standard by which true and false teachers and their doctrines were to be measured. It is simple on the face of it. False teaching is anything that does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching (or teaching on godliness).

The sound instruction to which Paul referred is the same “glorious gospel” he spoke of in 1 Timothy 1:11. It encompasses the prophets, the words of Christ, and the teachings of the apostles, especially that which Paul himself received from Christ. It is sound, trustworthy, and true because of its source in God and its effective work in bringing about progressive godliness in the believer.

False teachers deviate from the revelation of God and their lives do not adhere to true godliness.

6:4–5. Paul began a scathing list profiling the heart of the false teacher; he then described the consequences of their teachings.

First to the source—the false teacher. He is conceited and understands nothing. Paul minced no words.

These false teachers thought they had special knowledge. Whether they claimed this came from revelation, intense study, or just being “blessed,” these teachers thought they understood faith and God more deeply and more thoroughly than anyone else. They were elitist, setting themselves above others. But, despite their high opinion of themselves and their knowledge, Paul’s conclusion was that such a teacher understands nothing, deluding himself as to real spirituality and true knowledge. It is reminiscent of Paul’s remarks earlier in the letter when he declared the false teachers “do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm” (1 Tim. 1:7).

The false teacher also has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words. These teachers actually enjoyed disputes. It was a competitiveness designed to place them in the winner’s circle as they dissected words, arguing over nuances and shades of meaning, debating issues that could never be solved in this life.

The results were clear: envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between men of corrupt mind.

Sin is always a tangle of evil. One sin breeds another, which spawns another, plunging the individual deeper and deeper into its snare. Envy is a dissatisfaction which pushes an individual to desire what another person has. This leads to strife (selfish competition) and malicious talk (the need to exalt oneself at the expense of others). Within such an atmosphere, evil suspicions are bound to develop as people whisper and distrust thrives. The end result is constant friction—tension and irritation.

The mind is the control center of our lives; from our thoughts come our actions. This is why we are told that our lives will be transformed through correct thinking (Rom. 12:2). The opposite is also true; wrong thinking produces a degenerate and wasted life. Men of corrupt mind … have been robbed of the truth. Once again Paul used contrasts. In 1 Timothy 6:3 he wrote that sound teaching produces godly behavior since it comes from Christ, the source of truth. Here he connected corrupt thinking with the absence of truth, which produces false godliness.

True Christian faith produces humility, gentleness, unity, and giving. It is based in servanthood. But the false teachers, divorcing themselves from the truth, had unhealthy reasoning. False doctrines produce pride, contention, disharmony, and selfishness, which in turn produces greed. Such men think that godliness is a means to financial gain. You do not have to watch religious television too long to begin thinking that much of it is simply big business—trinkets and financial deals for blessings, money that buys prayers. It can leave a person wondering if any unbelievers who watch such dealings would ever give true Christianity a try.

But using Christian faith for personal gain can also be more insidious. We can use Christian ministry for personal advancement and higher salaries. This is why it is crucial to examine our hearts and our thinking against the revelation of sound teaching.

6:6. Paul had just shown how the false teachers equated gain, success, and personal well-being with money. They promoted a form of outer godliness and intricate academic systems in order to draw people into their influence and so secure their financial support. Religion brought them prestige and profits.

But … This little qualifier is an important word. Paul negated the premise and goal of the false teachers. Success and personal well-being have nothing to do with rules, crowd adoration, or material prosperity: it is godliness with contentment [that] is great gain.

For Paul, godliness was the entire scope of the faith — correct doctrine combined with new life, truth measured by right living. The spiritual goals and disciplines necessary to progress in Christlikeness are to be the consuming passion of all his followers. This has nothing to do with material wealth or poverty. Material possessions are irrelevant. The human soul was not created to find contentment in the accumulation of stuff. This is a phantom that too many people chase. Personal peace is found in intimate relationship with God—this is great gain.

6:7–8. Paul next provided some logic and reasonableness to his assertion that money and material wealth are unworthy goals: we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. No one comes into the world all dressed up clutching a shopping catalog. Nothing we own will follow us into the next world. We end life as we started it—empty-handed.

So in the interim, if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. For Christians, God’s “divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness” (2 Pet. 1:3). Add clothing, given man’s need for covering and protection; then add food, given the human need for physical development and health. Now we are set.

Paul was not developing a philosophy that equates the material word with evil. He was not advocating a Christian culture that requires poverty. He was drawing a definite line between possessions and true contentment. The former has no bearing on the latter.

6:9. Paul continued to add evidence supporting his statement that money and possessions do not add up to personal satisfaction. He described for his readers the downward spiral into which money and materialism pull an individual. It begins because those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap.

Money opens a whole new world of possibilities. I spoke once with a friend who remarked that when he and his wife were first married and had little money, they never went to the malls, never flipped through catalogs. They spent their time on walks, playing softball, sitting together reading. Later, as their income level rose, they began buying a few luxuries, acquired a mortgage, had to add to their insurance payments. They suddenly saw a lot more things they could buy, a lot more objects that drew their attention, time, and resources. (Alas, this trap amd HGTV's Fixer-Upers have filled me with a desire I can never satisfy. My longing for a home of our own is just a trap)

These “things” can be kept in balance, but it requires a constant critique of our daily living and choices. Balance demands an objective understanding of our culture’s values and the ways money can entice us. If extreme care is not taken, the temptations that money can buy can entrap us into the values and pleasures which Satan peddles.

Once we become vulnerable to temptation, it is easier to fall into many foolish and harmful desires. Compromise leads to participation. James outlined this same process: “Each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin” (Jas. 1:14–15). Many people have lost their integrity or abandoned their faith for fifteen minutes in the spotlight or for a little sensual pleasure.

Such things plunge men into ruin and destruction. Just as true gain is spiritual in nature, true ruin and destruction are spiritual as well.

Our deepest joys and well-being are to be found in God’s kingdom. We are to be content with God — period. In the Old Testament, the Levitical priesthood received no portion in the division of the land; their portion was God himself as they served before him day after day (Num. 18:20). Under the new covenant, Christians are priests unto God (1 Pet. 2:5). He alone is our inheritance. The question comes back to us, “Will we be content with him?”

Jesus said he came that we might have life and have it abundantly (John 10:10). He was not talking about houses and lands, bank accounts or cars. Though he is the giver of all good gifts (Jas. 1:17), his dearest gifts are of the soul.

6:10. This verse begins with some first-century folk wisdom, a saying common in Paul’s day: the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.

Money is not the only cause of misfortune and evil, but it is a powerful one. Love of money is the root, the life support for a variety of wrongs and destructive behaviors.

Look candidly at life. From a love of money grow thistles which choke out abundant living:

  • The businessman determines to secure advancements and higher salaries, neglects his family, and loses their love and affection.
  • The dreamer thinks he can gamble and make a fortune, hoping never to work again. He keeps trying, wasting his resources in hopes of a big win, losing friends and dignity instead.
  • The housewife habitually buys new furniture and redecorates her home, neglecting to tithe or give to others because her comforts have made her insensitive to those in need.
  • The pimp sells drugs or sex for the sake of money, fancy cars, expensive clothes.
  • The guy down the street steals from others, his desire for things ruining his sense of personal worth.
  • The mercenary kills for the sake of cash.
  • A woman complains, gossips about a neighbor, snaps at her children and husband, making herself and those around her miserable because she is envious, bitter over what she does not have, always wanting more.

In order to end the evil behavior, each person must dig out its root—the love of money.

The drive for money can destroy relationships, resulting in immoral decisions and compromise. It can also bring spiritual ruin. Paul noted that some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith.

Today our entire culture is built upon the accumulation of wealth and material possessions. It determines the success or failure of presidents. It is the foundation of free enterprise, the principle behind our system of credit cards and debt, banking, and loans. It is what drives the advertising, music, entertainment, and sports industries. Materialism and personal wealth are hammered into our thinking every day all day long.

It is easy to put Christian ministry, personal godliness, acts of justice and charity, and sacrificial giving on the peripheries of life—to see no connection between these Christian “ideals” and life as we experience it. The truth is that there is no compatibility.

Even so, we are forced to decide which offers truth and which offers illusions, which brings contentment and peace, and which leads to frustration and emptiness. It seems simple on the surface, but in our daily decisions the choices become hard; it is far easier to compromise then rationalize. Resistance to wealth’s temptations becomes difficult. Though we would never deny the faith, it is easier (though just as deadly) to wander from it.

Paul’s warning should not be minimized. Those who love money and wander from the faith have pierced themselves with many griefs.

Just as the rich young ruler who questioned Jesus was brought to a point of decision, so are we. It becomes a choice as to whether we will trust in God or the stuff around us. God allows us to make the choice. The young ruler decided to keep his riches. He walked away a wealthy man … but sad (Mark 10:17–24). There is always a price to be paid.

Paul was not against the drive to accomplish or the ambition to make a difference in the world or on the job. The Bible states clearly that we are to work hard, to be model employees or employers. But money should not be the driving force. It should be God’s glory that pushes us — love of people, the mission of the church, our devotion to Christ.

C. Christian Character and Life (6:11–16)

Supporting Idea: Those who have chosen to identify with and follow after Christ, those who dare call themselves Christians, are to exhibit God in this world. We do this through our words and lives—our public witness and private disciplines.

6:11. Paul made an impassioned plea to Timothy — you, man of God, flee from all this (ungodliness). He was to live differently. So are all Christian believers.

Those who have chosen to follow Christ have an obligation to him. They are to run away from all the false teacher represents, the pride, the misguided thinking, the greed. But God never calls us to give up something without instructing us to embrace its alternative. We are told to put off the old nature and put on the new (Eph. 4:22–24); we are to stop lying and speak honestly, to put away crude speech and say only beneficial things (Eph. 4:25–29). The Christian is to escape from the traps and temptations of money, selfish ambition, and intellectual sophistry. We are to pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.

These six qualities mark the life of a Christian. But they must be pursued with purpose. We are to “run with perseverance … [fixing] our eyes on Jesus” (Heb. 12:1–2). Paul’s list of characteristics closely matches the fruit of the Spirit described in Galatians 5:22.

6:12. Timothy was to chase after personal behaviors, attitudes, and habits which would reflect his companionship with Christ. He was also to fight the good fight of the faith. As a leader he was to defend truth.

There will always be attacks upon God’s truth: professing Christians who propagate false teachings and those who encourage compromise. But the inspired beliefs must be fought for and upheld. This is not a skirmish but a sustained contest which the believer must see through to the end. This requires endurance and patience.

Paul told Timothy to take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

The eternal life which believers enter is not simply a future hope; it is also a present reality. We take hold of this eternal life when we live in the power and values of God’s eternal kingdom. We will not experience the fullness of Christ’s dominion until the future when he reigns over all the earth. But the eternal kind of life is still accessible at the present time. We touch upon it when we order our daily lives in harmony with God and his Spirit.

This new kind of life is what every believer is called to. It is not reserved for the elite. It is available to all who make the good confession — that Jesus Christ is God’s Son, delivered to death for our sins and raised from the dead to secure eternal life for all who trust him.

True faith cannot be hidden. Timothy gave public witness that he believed and trusted in Jesus Christ. He had followed in the right way. Now Paul encouraged him to continue on with strength and clarity of purpose.

6:13. If all this were not enough, Paul wrote a serious mandate to Timothy. His prelude was filled with dignity, love, and a sobering reality. He gave his exhortation in the sight of God, who gives life to everything. This is not simply a nice-sounding phrase; it is a critical truth. God is sovereign over all life — everyone, the false teacher and the true, the powerful and the slave. All these exist by God’s mercy and life-giving power. We are cared for by his strength and goodness. This should bring comfort as well as gratitude. This is the God whom Paul called as witness to the charge he gave Timothy.

All of us have a calling—it is to eternal life (1 Tim. 6:12). This life begins with faith and confession, and it grows in intimate fellowship with Christ, fulfilling his life through us in the world. Christ also had a calling — to reveal God in this world and to provide a way by which people could know God. This came through holy living, death for mankind’s sins, and resurrection.

Paul delivered his command in the sight of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession. In the course of Pilate’s questioning, Jesus stated: “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me” (John 18:37). Jesus never wavered from the call of the Father upon his life. He persevered unto death.

6:14. Having called his witnesses, Paul then extended the charge to Timothy: keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Timothy was to flee from unrighteousness and pursue the fullness of the Christian life. He was to devote himself to growing intimacy with Christ, to compassionate relationships with others, and unwavering guardianship of truth as found in Scripture. The full spectrum of life is to be lived under the reign of Christ, and it is to be done with consistency so that no sin interferes with such a life.

This is not a Sunday event but a lifelong pursuit and commitment until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ. The coming of Christ has sustained the church for centuries. It is to our shame that we do not have the same anticipation, the same high expectancy of the Lord’s return. Such a glorious prospect keeps the difficulties as well as the temptations of this life in proper perspective.

6:15–16. This coming of Christ God will bring about in his own time. Even Jesus said, “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority” (Acts 1:7).

Paul again broke into adoration of the God whom he loved and served. It was meant to remind Timothy of the greatness of the one who had called him and to whom he ministered. Realizing the eminence of our God can diminish the opposing forces with which we must deal.

God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords — all these descriptions speak of his sovereignty, the vastness of his dominion.

This greatness was not evident at his first appearing, however. He came as a baby, naked and vulnerable. He served God and man, learning obedience through suffering (Heb. 5:7–8).

But at his second appearance he will come with might, with the word of his strength, invincible, clothed with majesty and glory. No king or president has any power except as given by God. Even this delegated authority is weak in comparison to the commanding strength of God.

The purpose of Jesus’ first coming was to rescue sinners; the purpose of his Second Coming will be to save believers.

Paul stretched to describe this God who is beyond the created order. He began with God’s transcendence: he alone is immortal. No one else and no other thing can claim this eternal existence. God has no beginning, no ending, no progression of growth or decline. Out of his life comes all other life. Out of his immortality he grants eternal life to others. He lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. Light signifies purity, penetrating and blazing holiness. God is beyond the comprehension of humankind. He is also beyond our full knowing. He is so “other” than we are that no one can experience or approach the purity of his being. And it is to this God that honor and might forever are due.

D. Instructions for the Rich (6:17–19)

Supporting Idea: Money is one of Paul’s major concerns in this chapter — its temptations, disappointments, and destructiveness. Within every command and instruction, he directs us to recognize God’s generosity and the fleeting nature of this world. Paul has talked to the poor, the charlatan, the Christian leader; now he addresses the rich.

6:17. Christianity does not require a vow of poverty or the forsaking of wealth, for Paul wrote, command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant. Some followers of Christ will be wealthy by society’s standards. Just as Paul told slaves to stay and serve their masters (1 Tim. 6:1–2), so also he left the rich person in his surroundings.

Circumstance makes little difference in the value system of God. It is how a person behaves in their circumstances that makes the difference — either glorifying or discrediting the name of Christ. However, there are inherent dangers in having wealth.

Those who are rich can easily fall into arrogance. This is an ancient problem, and Israel provides a classic example. They possessed and settled the Promised Land after years of wanderings. God, foreseeing what would ultimately occur, warned the people that wealth could be their undoing. “When you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery” (Deut. 8:12–14).

Abundance breeds pride — toward God and others. The person who has much begins to credit himself with his wealth. Creeping into his heart is the notion that he has done well on his own, that he can get by without God. Wealth also creates an economy of false values. Beneath the class wars and the tensions between rich and poor simmers the deception that worth is determined by possessions.

Another danger which confronts the wealthy is that they easily place confidence in what they see — their stuff. Paul told them not to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain. Jesus cautioned us about the uncertainty of money (Matt. 6:19). Each day we see the evidences of his warning — bankruptcy cases increase, the stock market fluctuates, governments fall and their monetary systems fail, prices escalate, and money drains away. There is no predictability when it comes to money; trusting it is risky.

Instead, wealthy believers are to hold their money with an open hand; they are to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Putting hope in money is no different from the primitive man or woman who bows to an idol of wood or stone, expecting it to protect or provide. This is worshiping the creation instead of the Creator (Rom. 1:25). The Christian must never invest trust in things but in relationship — particularly with God, maker of all that exists (John 1:3).

A stronger, clearer statement about worthy trust could not be made than that given by Jeremiah: “Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: ‘that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,’ declares the LORD” (Jer. 9:23–24). Riches are unworthy to be the center of our hearts.

6:18. Paul almost always countered the negative with the positive. If we are to refrain from something, then he tells us to engage in something else. If the rich are not to devote themselves to things, then they are to invest themselves in doing good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.

How we invest ourselves and our time is more valuable than money. God desires that we spend ourselves in doing good, helping others, benefiting those around us. It is a tendency of the wealthy to think that others exist for their benefit, to do their bidding. In God’s eyes it is just the opposite. Those who have been richly blessed must give abundantly. Once again, God desires that we imitate him. Just as he richly provides us everything for our enjoyment, just as his mercy and love are without limit, so his people are to live with the same extravagance.

6:19. By imitating the generous nature of our Lord, they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age. The treasure which accumulates in the life to come is not money, stock portfolios, or real estate. The treasure of which Paul spoke is spiritual, and it lasts for eternity.

This eternal wealth — the generous and giving life expressed in the world — is evidence of true faith in God. In this way it is a firm foundation for entry into eternity. How we use our time and our resources indicates where our heart truly belongs. If it is directed by the values and compassion of God, we take hold of the life that is truly life.

When compared to the rest of the world’s peoples, most Americans would be placed in the “wealthy” category. This should lead each of us to examine our values:

• Which concerns me more: how much money I have or how much of me God has?
• Do I pray more about God supplying material items than I do about developing my character?
• Do I spend more time and money caring for my house and lawn than I do helping others?
• Am I confident about the future because my bank account is healthy or because my spirit is secure in Christ?

E. The Conclusion and Final Charge (6:20–21)

Supporting Idea: Paul returned full circle, emphasizing the same concerns with which he began 1 Timothy: the purity of the gospel and the need to stay clear of false teachers.

6:20–21. Paul issued a personal plea to Timothy: guard what has been entrusted to your care. This is no light matter. The gospel and doctrine, as given by the apostles, must be defended and preserved. Timothy had been equipped by God to do this; now he must set his heart and mind to the task. The work was entrusted to him, just as valuables are deposited in a bank for safety. Timothy was handed the responsibility of guarding the riches of the gospel against false teachers and keeping the church unified in the face of divisive teachings.

In order to carry out this work, Timothy must turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge. These are the arrogant views of the false teachers, those who think academic pursuits and tangling with words are, in themselves, pathways to spirituality. They do not recognize the need for a comprehensive belief that changes the inner person and his behavior. Such people and their teachings appear wise, but they are actually empty.

These false teachers were not just little irritants which disrupted the church; they were dangerous. The spurious doctrines which some have professed have caused people to wander from the faith. This was soul-damaging. Such people appeared as religious teachers, but they were traitorous to the God who created them.

Paul ended as he began: Grace be with you. This was extended not only to Timothy, but to the congregation who listened to this letter and heard all of Paul’s instructions. For the believers gathered in Ephesus, Paul desired God’s grace, his abundant goodness and spiritual fullness.

We continue as we started in the Christian faith — by grace through faith (

Eph. 2:8–10).

Main Idea Review: For most people, becoming a Christian does not entail a dramatic change in occupation, living conditions, salary, or neighborhood. Christ calls us to extend his kingdom from the place we now occupy, whether as CEO, student, mother, clerk, or migrant farmer. Contentment, the pursuit of godliness, and bold identification with Christ are foundational to effective Christian living.

   Holman New Testament Commentary - 1 & 2 Thessalonians, 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon

  • Candidate 3
  • Supremacy at Calvary
  • Death Conqueror

     Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

UCB The Word For Today
     Keep your spiritual glasses clean
     (Oct 28)    Bob Gass

     ‘Be clean, you who bear the vessels of the LORD.’

(Is 52:11) 11 Depart, depart, go out from there; touch no unclean thing; go out from the midst of her; purify yourselves, you who bear the vessels of the LORD. ESV

     One day a man was getting his windscreen washed at a petrol station. When the attendant finished, the man said, ‘That’s a terrible job. Re-do my windscreen - it’s as dirty as when you started.’ So, the attendant wiped it again. The man looked it over and in frustration said, ‘That window hasn’t changed a bit.’ The man’s wife was sitting next to him in the car fuming. She reached over, pulled off his glasses, wiped them, and gave them back to him. The attendant had been doing his job correctly. The man himself was the problem all along. Spiritually speaking, the glasses you’re looking through determine what you see, and how you see it. When you look through the lens of jealousy and envy, you become resentful of the blessings of others. When you look through the lens of judgementalism, you speak and act without mercy and grace. When you look through the lens of fear and unbelief, you limit God and forfeit what He can do for you. When you look through the lens of selfishness, you put yourself first and your loved ones suffer. When you look through the lens of negativity and cynicism, people begin to avoid you because you’re not enjoyable to be around. ‘Be clean, you who bear the vessels of the LORD.’ Just as your glasses need to be wiped clean from the contamination around you, so do your heart and mind. How does this happen? Jesus said, ‘Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you’ (John 15:3 KJV). Through prayer and daily Bible reading, your perspective on life is kept right.

Jer 51-52
Heb 2

UCB The Word For Today

American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     The Statue of Liberty was dedicated this day, October 28, 1886, by President Grover Cleveland. It was presented to the U.S. by France as a symbol of friendship. This four hundred and fifty thousand pound statue is supported by a steel structure build by Gustave Eiffel, who built the Eiffel Tower. The Statue of Liberty was designed by sculptor Auguste Bartholdi, who wrote: “The statue was born for this place which inspired its conception. May God be pleased to bless my efforts and my work, and to crown it with success, the duration and the moral influence which it ought to have.”

American Minute

Letters To Malcolm, Chiefly On Prayer
     by C.S. Lewis
Reflections on the Intimate Dialogue
Between Man and God

     “A beautifully executed and deeply moving little book:” --- Saturday Review

     In the form of warm, relaxed letters to a close friend, C. S. Lewis meditates on many puzzling questions concerning the intimate dialogue between man and God. He considers practical and metaphysical aspects of prayer, such as when we pray and where. He questions why we seek to inform God in our prayers if He is omniscient, whether there is an ideal form of prayer, and which of our many selves we show to God while praying. The concluding letter contains provocative thoughts about “liberal Christians,” the soul, and resurrection.

     C.S. LEWIS 1898-1963) gained international renown for an impressive array of beloved works both popular and scholarly: literary criticism, children's literature, fantasy literature, and numerous books on theology. Among his most celebrated achievements are Out of the Silent Planet, The Chronicles Of Narnia, The Screwtape Letters, The Four Loves, and Surprised by Joy.

ISBN-13: 978-0156027663

Lean Into God
     Compiled by Richard S. Adams

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants his footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm.
--- William Cowper

Power is of two kinds.
One is obtained by the fear of punishment
and the other by acts of love.
Power based on love
is a thousand times more effective and permanent
then the one derived from fear of punishment.
--- Mohandas Gandhi

Throughout life people will make you mad, disrespect you and treat you bad. Let God deal with the things they do, cause hate in your heart will consume you too.
--- Will Smith

... from here, there and everywhere

History of the Destruction of Jerusalem
     Thanks to Meir Yona

     CHAPTER 3.

     How Titus Upon The Celebration Of His Brothers And Fathers Birthdays Had Many Of The Jews Slain. Concerning The Danger The Jews Were In At Antioch, By Means Of The Transgression And Impiety Of One Antiochus, A Jew.

     1. While Titus was at Cesarea, he solemnized the birthday of his brother [Domitian] after a splendid manner, and inflicted a great deal of the punishment intended for the Jews in honor of him; for the number of those that were now slain in fighting with the beasts, and were burnt, and fought with one another, exceeded two thousand five hundred. Yet did all this seem to the Romans, when they were thus destroyed ten thousand several ways, to be a punishment beneath their deserts. After this Caesar came to Berytus, 4 which is a city of Phoenicia, and a Roman colony, and staid there a longer time, and exhibited a still more pompous solemnity about his father's birthday, both in the magnificence of the shows, and in the other vast expenses he was at in his devices thereto belonging; so that a great multitude of the captives were here destroyed after the same manner as before.

     2. It happened also about this time, that the Jews who remained at Antioch were under accusations, and in danger of perishing, from the disturbances that were raised against them by the Antiochians; and this both on account of the slanders spread abroad at this time against them, and on account of what pranks they had played not long before; which I am obliged to describe without fail, though briefly, that I may the better connect my narration of future actions with those that went before.

     3. For as the Jewish nation is widely dispersed over all the habitable earth among its inhabitants, so it is very much intermingled with Syria by reason of its neighborhood, and had the greatest multitudes in Antioch by reason of the largeness of the city, wherein the kings, after Antiochus, had afforded them a habitation with the most undisturbed tranquillity; for though Antiochus, who was called Epiphanes, laid Jerusalem waste, and spoiled the temple, yet did those that succeeded him in the kingdom restore all the donations that were made of brass to the Jews of Antioch, and dedicated them to their synagogue, and granted them the enjoyment of equal privileges of citizens with the Greeks themselves; and as the succeeding kings treated them after the same manner, they both multiplied to a great number, and adorned their temple gloriously by fine ornaments, and with great magnificence, in the use of what had been given them. They also made proselytes of a great many of the Greeks perpetually, and thereby after a sort brought them to be a portion of their own body. But about this time when the present war began, and Vespasian was newly sailed to Syria, and all men had taken up a great hatred against the Jews, then it was that a certain person, whose name was Antiochus, being one of the Jewish nation, and greatly respected on account of his father, who was governor of the Jews at Antioch 5 came upon the theater at a time when the people of Antioch were assembled together, and became an informer against his father, and accused both him and others that they had resolved to burn the whole city in one night; he also delivered up to them some Jews that were foreigners, as partners in their resolutions. When the people heard this, they could not refrain their passion, but commanded that those who were delivered up to them should have fire brought to burn them, who were accordingly all burnt upon the theater immediately. They did also fall violently upon the multitude of the Jews, as supposing that by punishing them suddenly they should save their own city. As for Antiochus, he aggravated the rage they were in, and thought to give them a demonstration of his own conversion, arm of his hatred of the Jewish customs, by sacrificing after the manner of the Greeks; he persuaded the rest also to compel them to do the same, because they would by that means discover who they were that had plotted against them, since they would not do so; and when the people of Antioch tried the experiment, some few complied, but those that would not do so were slain. As for Antiochus himself, he obtained soldiers from the Roman commander, and became a severe master over his own citizens, not permitting them to rest on the seventh day, but forcing them to do all that they usually did on other days; and to that degree of distress did he reduce them in this matter, that the rest of the seventh day was dissolved not only at Antioch, but the same thing which took thence its rise was done in other cities also, in like manner, for some small time.

     4. Now, after these misfortunes had happened to the Jews at Antioch, a second calamity befell them, the description of which when we were going about we premised the account foregoing; for upon this accident, whereby the four-square market-place was burnt down, as well as the archives, and the place where the public records were preserved, and the royal palaces, [and it was not without difficulty that the fire was then put a stop to, which was likely, by the fury wherewith it was carried along, to have gone over the whole city,] Antiochus accused the Jews as the occasion of all the mischief that was done. Now this induced the people of Antioch, who were now under the immediate persuasion, by reason of the disorder they were in, that this calumny was true, and would have been under the same persuasion, even though they had not borne an ill-will at the Jews before, to believe this man's accusation, especially when they considered what had been done before, and this to such a degree, that they all fell violently upon those that were accused, and this, like madmen, in a very furious rage also, even as if they had seen the Jews in a manner setting fire themselves to the city; nor was it without difficulty that one Cneius Collegas, the legate, could prevail with them to permit the affairs to be laid before Caesar; for as to Cesennius Petus, the president of Syria, Vespasian had already sent him away; and so it happened that he was not yet come back thither. But when Collegas had made a careful inquiry into the matter, he found out the truth, and that not one of those Jews that were accused by Antiochus had any hand in it, but that all was done by some vile persons greatly in debt, who supposed that if they could once set fire to the market-place, and burn the public records, they should have no further demands made upon them. So the Jews were under great disorder and terror, in the uncertain expectations of what would be the upshot of these accusations against them.

     The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Wars of the Jews or History of the Destruction of Jerusalem, by Flavius Josephus Translator: William Whiston

The War of the Jews: The History of the Destruction of Jerusalem (complete edition, 7 books)

Proverbs 27:20
     by D.H. Stern

20     Sh’ol and Abaddon are never satisfied, and human eyes are never satisfied.

Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
My Utmost For The Highest
     A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers

                Justification by faith

     For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
--- Romans 5:10.

     I am not saved by believing; I realize I am saved by believing. It is not repentance that saves me; repentance is the sign that I realize what God has done in Christ Jesus. The danger is to put the emphasis on the effect instead of on the cause—It is my obedience that puts me right with God, my consecration. Never! I am put right with God because prior to all, Christ died. When I turn to God and by belief accept what God reveals I can accept, instantly the stupendous Atonement of Jesus Christ rushes me into a right relationship with God, and by the supernatural miracle of God’s grace I stand justified, not because I am sorry for my sin, not because I have repented, but because of what Jesus has done. The spirit of God brings it with a breaking, all-over light, and I know, though I do not know how, that I am saved.

     The salvation of God does not stand on human logic, it stands on the sacrificial Death of Jesus. We can be born again because of the Atonement of Our Lord. Sinful men and women can be changed into new creatures, not by their repentance or their belief, but by the marvellous work of God in Christ Jesus which is prior to all experience. The impregnable safety of justification and sanctification is God Himself. We have not to work out these things ourselves; they have been worked out by the Atonement: The supernatural becomes natural by the miracle of God; there is the realization of what Jesus Christ has already done—“It is finished.”

My Utmost for His Highest: Quality Paperback Edition

Night Sky
     the Poetry of R.S. Thomas

                Night Sky

What they are saying is
  that there is life there, too;
  that the universe is the size it is
  to enable us to catch up.

They have gone on from the human;
  that shining is a reflection
  of their intelligence. Godhead
  is the colonisation by mind

of untenanted space. It is its own
  light, a statement beyond language
  of conceptual truth. Every night
  is a rinsing myself of the darkness

that is in my veins. I let the stars inject me
  with fire, silent as it is far,
  but certain in its cauterising
  of my despair. I am a slow

traveller, but there is more than time
  to arrive. Resting in the intervals
  of my breathing, I pick up the signals
  relayed to me from a periphery I comprehend.


     Maimonides: Torah and Philosophic Quest

     Maimonides’ position excludes prophecy from a key portion of halakhic law and maintains that rabbinic argumentation is independent of appeals to divine authority and is thus subject to disagreement. In addition to the certainties of Mosaic prophecy and traditions from Sinai, Maimonides offers the Jew norms developed by men who rationally struggle to resolve problems about which they often disagree, and who never demonstrate that alternate approaches to the law are invalid. It is not surprising to find a strong trend within Judaism opposed to this position. In a legal system based upon revelation, it is natural to expect that individuals would prefer the certainties of prophetic pronouncements and law based on traditions from Sinai rather than laws based on legal reasoning. Tradition-based law, which mediates the content of revelation to man, speaks with unquestioned authority. It offers individuals the security and certainty of knowing precisely what God wills. By eliminating prophets from halakhic argumentation and restricting the scope of tradition-based law, Maimonides weakens the security which results from obedience to traditional authority.

     Maimonides was careful to make distinctions which would restrict obedience to authority to certain classes of laws, while legitimizing disagreements based on reason in other classes. Maimonides does not eliminate the appeal to authority in Halakhah. He limits its applicability and is consistently emphatic in excluding it from areas which are not subject to its appeal. These important distinctions have broad spiritual implications. By knowing how to discriminate between the different types of laws, the halakhic Jew avoids an orientation of uncritical obedience to halakhic authority. The keen discernment which Maimonides hopes to encourage is vividly portrayed by him in the following exaggerated, hypothetical situation:

     If a Prophet whose claim to prohecy has already been validated by us, as we have explained, tells us—on the Sabbath—to arise, women and men, to set a fire and make in it armaments and girdle ourselves with them and fight against the people of such and such place, today which is the Sabbath, and that we plunder their wealth and conquer their wives, we are obligated—we who are commanded by the Torah of Moses—to arise immediately, without hesitation regarding anything he commands us. And we shall fulfill all that he commands with vivacity and diligence, without hesitation or delay, and we shall believe that all that is done on that day, which is the Sabbath, be it the kindling of fire, the performance of acts of work [melakhot], or engagement in killing and war, is a commandment regarding which we will hope for a reward from God. For we have heeded the command of the Prophet for it is a positive commandment to listen to his words, as God, through Moses, commanded, “him you shall heed” (Deut. 18:15), and we received by tradition, “In all matters, if a prophet tells you to violate the teachings of Torah, listen to him save for idolatry” (T.B. Sanhedrin 90a), for if he telis us worship this day only this form, or offer incense to this star at this time only, behold this prophet is killed, and we do not listen to him.

     But [consider] a man who sees himself, according to his imagination, as righteous and just, who is old and of advanced years, and he says to himself, “I am very old, and I am already such and such years old, and I have never violated any of the commandments at all. How can I arise on this day, which is the Sabbath, and violate a prohibition—whose penalty is stoning—and go to war? For I will not add nor detract and there are others to take my place, and many people will fulfill this commandment!”

     Behold that man violated the word of God and he deserves death by heavenly decree, for he violated what the Prophet commanded him. And He who commanded that one rest on the Sabbath is He who commanded that one fulfill the words of the Prophet and what he establishes. And whoever violates His commandment deserves what we said. And this is what the Almighty said, “and if anybody fails to heed the words he speaks in My name, I Myself will call him to account” (Deut. 18:19). However, one who ties a permanent knot on this Sabbath day while performing those acts of work and he is not required to tie this knot so as to contribute in any way to what the Prophet commanded, behold this person deserves stoning.

     And regarding this prophet himself who commanded whatever he commanded us to do on this day, which is the Sabbath, and whose words we fulfilled, if he [the prophet] says that the Sabbath limit is two thousand less one cubit or two thousand and one cubit and he relates this to [prophetic] inspiration and not to the method of analysis and argument, behold this person is a false prophet and he is killed by strangulation. And by this method shall you judge all that the Prophet commands you.

     Maimonides, in his introduction to the Commentary to the Mishnah, did not only elaborate upon the limits of prophetic authority through discursive arguments, but found it necessary to dramatize the halakhic Jew’s discriminating approach to authority: The prophet arrives. He addresses the community which is absorbed in everyday concerns. He mobilizes it for war. Time, place, and enemy are decided according to the prophet’s decree.

     The community, Maimonides says, must comply with the prophet. The prophet can compel an entire community to violate one of its most important and symbolic religious events—the Sabbath—as well as to fight, kill, plunder, and, perhaps, die at his bidding. In the context of a community following a prophet to war, Maimonides brings in a seemingly irrelevant detail—the old man. Once the old man is mentioned, one feels compassion for him and is tempted to question Maimonides’ fanatic concern that all obey the prophet. After all, what difference does it make if such an old man is not mobilized? What harm would there be if he were permitted to end his life without having disrupted his orderly pattern of piety? Yet Maimonides is adamant and uncompromising in his insistence that all—even such a man—follow the prophet. The situation of the old man accentuates the disruptive features which accompany a critical approach to authority. Habits of religious behavior can numb one’s consciousness of the base of one’s halakhic behavior. God, who commands one to rest on the Sabbath, can also command one to follow a prophet, thereby violating His established commandment. The authority of God is the ground of religious observance. Lest religious behavior become a self-justifying end, the Jew is constantly aware that his commitment is ultimately to God who, in principle, can disrupt the familiar routine of religious life.

Maimonides: Torah and Philosophic Quest

Take Heart
     October 28

     None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. --- 1 Corinthians 2:8

     The Sadducees held all the high places in the church, yet they had lost all spirituality and all belief in it.   The Galilean Accent - Being Some Studies in the Christian Life   Religion was all very well, they said, but really, to get things done, you must look only to politics. The axioms of pious people were unprovable and almost certainly untrue. There was no resurrection—no rewards and punishments hereafter; this brief life of ours was really all. A soul? No doubt there was a soul. But don’t brood over that. Give us practical measures of reform for this life here, and the soul will take care of itself. And this [Jesus] was becoming troublesome with his insistence on secondary things and was breeding trouble where they wanted peace and quiet. Yes, they felt, he were better away, and in the council they, too, voted death.

     We [today] also are not worrying about immortality, hardly believe in it, or at least are not sure. We, too, have limited ourselves to this dust-speck of time, leaving unclaimed the vast inheritance of which Christ told us. We, too, are putting all our passion and enthusiasm into things of this earth—material things—quite certain that that is the only road to progress and that this chatter about the soul is quite beside the point.

     People are so certain, so often animated by lofty motives, so sure that there is no need for Christ. Given a particular panacea, the world will manage very well. To talk about Christ and changing people’s hearts and making us new creatures is to lose precious time and wander from the practical into daydreaming.

     Today, too, there is a great shouting for Barabbas, for the man of action; we, too, believe in politics and economics—but religion? Set their circumstances right, and people will need no savior, will soon show that they can take care of themselves! “If… the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” (
Matt. 6:23). If the cures and remedies of an age touch none of the roots of the disease, what then? And still Christ holds to it—as he did in his own day, full as ours is now of social sores and economic problems—that in the last resort nothing can save the world but a new race of men and women, with new aims and likings and a new ardor of self-sacrifice. And still that angers people, and they rise up and cast him out. We are all members of the council before which he is tried. And how does your heart vote?
--- Arthur John Gossip

Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers

On This Day   October 28
     In This Sign Conquer

     By the early fourth century, Christianity was straddling the Roman Empire, boasting of churches from Britain to Carthage and Persia. The Gospel had spread mouth-to-mouth, person-to-person, until, despite relentless persecution, it had taken root. “Every time a drop of blood was shed,” said Spurgeon, “that drop became a man.”

     The final storm occurred when Emperor Diocletian suddenly unleashed the Great Persecution, fiercest of all purges. But Romans eventually sickened of the blood, and the Christian holocaust created far-reaching sympathy for believers. When Diocletian abdicated, a power struggle erupted between two titans: Constantine and Maxentius. Their armies met at the Milvian Bridge outside Rome; and Constantine, as he later told the historian Eusebius, turned to the Christian God for help. In a dream on October 28, 312 he saw a cross in the sky with the Greek words In This Sign Conquer. Thus encouraged, he advanced and prevailed. After the battle he openly espoused Christianity, and the outcast church suddenly found itself on top of the world.

     Constantine extended great liberties to bishops. He abolished crucifixions and ended gladiatorial contests as punishments. He issued the Edict of Milan which said in part: “Every one who has a common wish to follow the religion of the Christians may from this moment freely proceed without any annoyance or disquiet.” He made Sunday a holiday, built church buildings, financed Christian projects, and gathered bishops to discuss theology.

     But whether Constantine was genuinely born again is doubted. He treated church leaders as political aides. He banished churchmen he didn’t like and retained paganism he did like. Under his rule the church, while enjoying freedom, deteriorated from an army of noble martyrs to a mixed multitude of semiconverted pagans. An alignment between church and state developed that set the stage for the Middle Ages and that continues to this day in the state churches of Europe.

     The “conversion” of Constantine was at once both the best thing that could have happened to the church, and the worst.

     Let the name of the LORD be praised now and forever. From dawn until sunset the name of the LORD deserves to be praised.
--- Psalm 113:2-3.

On This Day 365 Amazing And Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs And Heroes

Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - October 28

     “I have chosen you out of the world.” --- John 15:19.

     Here is distinguishing grace and discriminating regard; for some are made the special objects of divine affection. Do not be afraid to dwell upon this high doctrine of election. When your mind is most heavy and depressed, you will find it to be a bottle of richest cordial. Those who doubt the doctrines of grace, or who cast them into the shade, miss the richest clusters of Eshcol; they lose the wines on the less well refined, the fat things full of marrow. There is no balm in Gilead comparable to it. If the honey in Jonathan’s wood when but touched enlightened the eyes, this is honey which will enlighten your heart to love and learn the mysteries of the kingdom of God. Eat, and fear not a surfeit; live upon this choice dainty, and fear not that it will be too delicate a diet. Meat from the King’s table will hurt none of his courtiers. Desire to have your mind enlarged, that you may comprehend more and more the eternal, everlasting, discriminating love of God. When you have mounted as high as election, tarry on its sister mount, the covenant of grace. Covenant engagements are the munitions of stupendous rock behind which we lie entrenched; covenant engagements with the surety, Christ Jesus, are the quiet resting-places of trembling spirits.

     “His oath, his covenant, his blood,
     Support me in the raging flood;
     When every earthly prop gives way,
     This still is all my strength and stay.”

     If Jesus undertook to bring me to glory, and if the Father promised that he would give me to the Son to be a part of the infinite reward of the travail of his soul; then, my soul, till God himself shall be unfaithful, till Jesus shall cease to be the truth, thou art safe. When David danced before the ark, he told Michal that election made him do so. Come, my soul, exult before the God of grace and leap for joy of heart.

          Evening - October 28

     “His head is as the most fine gold, his locks are bushy, and black as a raven.” --- Song of Solomon 5:11.

     Comparisons all fail to set forth the Lord Jesus, but the spouse uses the best within her reach. By the head of Jesus we may understand his deity, “for the head of Christ is God” and then the ingot of purest gold is the best conceivable metaphor, but all too poor to describe one so precious, so pure, so dear, so glorious. Jesus is not a grain of gold, but a vast globe of it, a priceless mass of treasure such as earth and heaven cannot excel. The creatures are mere iron and clay, they all shall perish like wood, hay, and stubble, but the ever living Head of the creation of God shall shine on for ever and ever. In him is no mixture, nor smallest taint of alloy. He is for ever infinitely holy and altogether divine. The bushy locks depict his manly vigour. There is nothing effeminate in our Beloved. He is the manliest of men. Bold as a lion, laborious as an ox, swift as an eagle. Every conceivable and inconceivable beauty is to be found in him, though once he was despised and rejected of men.

     “His head the finest gold;
     With secret sweet perfume,
     His curled locks hang all as black
     As any raven’s plume.”

     The glory of his head is not shorn away, he is eternally crowned with peerless majesty. The black hair indicates youthful freshness, for Jesus has the dew of his youth upon him. Others grow languid with age, but he is for ever a Priest as was Melchizedek; others come and go, but he abides as God upon his throne, world without end. We will behold him to-night and adore him. Angels are gazing upon him—his redeemed must not turn away their eyes from him. Where else is there such a Beloved? O for an hour’s fellowship with him! Away, ye intruding cares! Jesus draws me, and I run after him.

Morning and Evening: A New Edition of the Classic Devotional Based on The Holy Bible, English Standard Version

Amazing Grace
     October 28


     Washington Gladden, 1836–1918

     He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8)

     Go labor on: Spend and be spent, my joy to do the Father’s will;
It is the way the Master went, should not the servant tread it still?
--- H. Bonar

     As God’s representatives, we must make it our life’s mission to make the invisible Christ visible to lost and needy people through both word and deed. We can do this most effectively by dealing justly with others and by showing compassion and understanding to those who are less privileged than we are.

     This hymn, published in 1879, comes from a period of religious history in America when there was much emphasis given to the social implications of the Gospel. The Civil War had ended and the country was in the midst of a great industrial revolution. As is often true in such times, the individual is exploited in the name of economic progress.

     Many of our country’s more liberal clergymen became enthusiastic champions for the cause of social justice. One of the recognized leaders of the social Gospel movement was Washington Gladden, known not only for his influential pulpiteering and writing but also for his negotiations in various national labor disputes and strikes. It was always his conviction that it was the duty of the Christian Church to “elevate the masses not only spiritually and morally, but to be concerned about their social and economic welfare as well.” Although Gladden was widely known in his day for his persuasive preaching and writing, he is remembered particularly today for this one hymn text, which teaches us so well that our service for God must always be based on an intimate fellowship with Him.

     O Master, let me walk with Thee in lowly paths of service free; tell me Thy secret—help me bear the strain of toil, the fret of care.
     Help me the slow of heart to move by some clear, winning word of love; teach me the wayward feet to stay and guide them in the homeward way.
     Teach me Thy patience! still with Thee in closer, dearer company, in work that keeps faith sweet and strong, in trust that triumphs over wrong.
     In hope that sends a shining ray far down the future’s broad’ning way, in peace that only Thou canst give, with Thee, O Master, let me live.

     For Today: Amos 3:3; Matthew 25:31–46; Ephesians 4:1 Philippians 2:5–7; Titus 3:8

     Actively seek to do for someone at least one good deed that you might otherwise be hesitant to attempt. Allow this musical message to help ---

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions

Book Of Common Prayer
     Saturday, October 28, 2017 | Holy Day

SS. Simon And Jude
Morning Prayer
Years 1 & 2

On the same date: SS. Simon and Jude, Evening Prayer

Psalms     Psalm 66
Old Testament     Isaiah 28:9–16
New Testament     Ephesians 4:1–16

Index of Readings

Psalm 66
To the leader. A Song. A Psalm.

1 Make a joyful noise to God, all the earth;
2 sing the glory of his name;
give to him glorious praise.
3 Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds!
Because of your great power, your enemies cringe before you.
4 All the earth worships you;
they sing praises to you,
sing praises to your name.”     Selah

5 Come and see what God has done:
he is awesome in his deeds among mortals.
6 He turned the sea into dry land;
they passed through the river on foot.
There we rejoiced in him,
7 who rules by his might forever,
whose eyes keep watch on the nations—
let the rebellious not exalt themselves.     Selah

8 Bless our God, O peoples,
let the sound of his praise be heard,
9 who has kept us among the living,
and has not let our feet slip.
10 For you, O God, have tested us;
you have tried us as silver is tried.
11 You brought us into the net;
you laid burdens on our backs;
12 you let people ride over our heads;
we went through fire and through water;
yet you have brought us out to a spacious place.

13 I will come into your house with burnt offerings;
I will pay you my vows,
14 those that my lips uttered
and my mouth promised when I was in trouble.
15 I will offer to you burnt offerings of fatlings,
with the smoke of the sacrifice of rams;
I will make an offering of bulls and goats.     Selah

16 Come and hear, all you who fear God,
and I will tell what he has done for me.
17 I cried aloud to him,
and he was extolled with my tongue.
18 If I had cherished iniquity in my heart,
the Lord would not have listened.
19 But truly God has listened;
he has given heed to the words of my prayer.

20 Blessed be God,
because he has not rejected my prayer
or removed his steadfast love from me.

Old Testament
Isaiah 28:9–16

9 “Whom will he teach knowledge,
and to whom will he explain the message?
Those who are weaned from milk,
those taken from the breast?
10 For it is precept upon precept, precept upon precept,
line upon line, line upon line,
here a little, there a little.”

11 Truly, with stammering lip
and with alien tongue
he will speak to this people,
12 to whom he has said,
“This is rest;
give rest to the weary;
and this is repose”;
yet they would not hear.
13 Therefore the word of the LORD will be to them,
“Precept upon precept, precept upon precept,
line upon line, line upon line,
here a little, there a little;”
in order that they may go, and fall backward,
and be broken, and snared, and taken.

14 Therefore hear the word of the LORD, you scoffers
who rule this people in Jerusalem.
15 Because you have said, “We have made a covenant with death,
and with Sheol we have an agreement;
when the overwhelming scourge passes through
it will not come to us;
for we have made lies our refuge,
and in falsehood we have taken shelter”;
16 therefore thus says the Lord GOD,
See, I am laying in Zion a foundation stone,
a tested stone,
a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation:
“One who trusts will not panic.”

New Testament
Ephesians 4:1–16

4 I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.

7 But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 8 Therefore it is said,

“When he ascended on high he made captivity itself a captive;
he gave gifts to his people.”

9 (When it says, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He who descended is the same one who ascended far above all the heavens, so that he might fill all things.) 11 The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ. 14 We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. 15 But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.

SS. Simon And Jude
Evening Prayer
Years 1 & 2

On the same date: SS. Simon and Jude, Morning Prayer

Psalms     Psalm 116, 117
Old Testament     Isaiah 4:2–6
New Testament     John 14:15–31

Index of Readings

Psalm 116, 117

1 I love the LORD, because he has heard
my voice and my supplications.
2 Because he inclined his ear to me,
therefore I will call on him as long as I live.
3 The snares of death encompassed me;
the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me;
I suffered distress and anguish.
4 Then I called on the name of the LORD:
“O LORD, I pray, save my life!”

5 Gracious is the LORD, and righteous;
our God is merciful.
6 The LORD protects the simple;
when I was brought low, he saved me.
7 Return, O my soul, to your rest,
for the LORD has dealt bountifully with you.

8 For you have delivered my soul from death,
my eyes from tears,
my feet from stumbling.
9 I walk before the LORD
in the land of the living.
10 I kept my faith, even when I said,
“I am greatly afflicted”;
11 I said in my consternation,
“Everyone is a liar.”

12 What shall I return to the LORD
for all his bounty to me?
13 I will lift up the cup of salvation
and call on the name of the LORD,
14 I will pay my vows to the LORD
in the presence of all his people.
15 Precious in the sight of the LORD
is the death of his faithful ones.
16 O LORD, I am your servant;
I am your servant, the child of your serving girl.
You have loosed my bonds.
17 I will offer to you a thanksgiving sacrifice
and call on the name of the LORD.
18 I will pay my vows to the LORD
in the presence of all his people,
19 in the courts of the house of the LORD,
in your midst, O Jerusalem.
Praise the LORD!

1 Praise the LORD, all you nations!
Extol him, all you peoples!
2 For great is his steadfast love toward us,
and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever.
Praise the LORD!

Old Testament
Isaiah 4:2–6

2 On that day the branch of the LORD shall be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land shall be the pride and glory of the survivors of Israel. 3 Whoever is left in Zion and remains in Jerusalem will be called holy, everyone who has been recorded for life in Jerusalem, 4 once the Lord has washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion and cleansed the bloodstains of Jerusalem from its midst by a spirit of judgment and by a spirit of burning. 5 Then the LORD will create over the whole site of Mount Zion and over its places of assembly a cloud by day and smoke and the shining of a flaming fire by night. Indeed over all the glory there will be a canopy. 6 It will serve as a pavilion, a shade by day from the heat, and a refuge and a shelter from the storm and rain.

New Testament
John 14:15–31

15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. 17 This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.

18 “I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. 19 In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21 They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.” 22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will reveal yourself to us, and not to the world?” 23 Jesus answered him, “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; and the word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me.

25 “I have said these things to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. 28 You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I am coming to you.’ If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I. 29 And now I have told you this before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe. 30 I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no power over me; 31 but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us be on our way.

The Book of Common Prayer: And Administration of the Sacraments and Other Rites and Ceremonies of the Church

Jesus Appears Before Pilate, Part 2
John MacArthur

Jesus Appears Before Pilate, Part 3
John MacArthur

Jesus Appears Before Pilate, Part 4
John MacArthur

Who Is God’s Candidate?, Part 1
John MacArthur

Who Is God’s Candidate?, Part 2
John MacArthur

The Infinite Value of Redemption
John MacArthur

Prophecies Fulfilled at Calvary
John MacArthur

Bible Q & A 64
John MacArthur

The Reality of Resurrection, Part 1
John MacArthur

The Reality of Resurrection, Part 2
John MacArthur

The Reality of Resurrection, Part 3
John MacArthur

Who Is God’s Candidate?, Part 1
John MacArthur

Who Is God’s Candidate?, Part 2
John MacArthur