1 Timothy 1
Greeting1 Timothy 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope,
2 To Timothy, my true child in the faith:
Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
Warning Against False Teachers3 As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, 4 nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith. 5 The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 6 Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, 7 desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions.
8 Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, 9 understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, 10 the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, 11 in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted.
Christ Jesus Came to Save Sinners12 I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, 13 though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. 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 trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. 16 But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were 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 This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, 19 holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, 20 among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.
1 Timothy 2
Pray for All People1 Timothy 2:1 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. 7 For this I was appointed a preacher 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 holy hands without anger or quarreling; 9 likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, 10 but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works. 11 Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. 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—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.
1 Timothy 3
Qualifications for Overseers1 Timothy 3:1 The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. 2 Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, 5 for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? 6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become 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, into a snare of the devil.
Qualifications for Deacons8 Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain. 9 They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. 10 And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless. 11 Their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things. 12 Let deacons each be the husband of one wife, managing their children and their own households well. 13 For those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.
The Mystery of Godliness14 I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that, 15 if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth. 16 Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness:
He was manifested in the flesh,
vindicated by the Spirit,
seen by angels,
proclaimed among the nations,
believed on in the world,
taken up in glory.
1 Timothy 4
Some Will Depart from the Faith1 Timothy 4:1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, 2 through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, 3 who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that 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 if it is received with thanksgiving, 5 for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.
A Good Servant of Christ Jesus6 If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed. 7 Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; 8 for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. 9 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. 10 For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.
11 Command and teach these things. 12 Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. 13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. 14 Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. 15 Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. 16 Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.
1 Timothy 5
Instructions for the Church1 Timothy 5:1 Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, 2 older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity.
3 Honor widows who are truly widows. 4 But if a widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show godliness to their own household and to make some return to their parents, for this is pleasing in the sight of God. 5 She who is truly a widow, left all alone, has set her hope on God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day, 6 but she who is self-indulgent is dead even while she lives. 7 Command these things as well, so that they may be without reproach. 8 But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
9 Let a widow be enrolled if she is not less than sixty years of age, having been the wife of one husband, 10 and having a reputation for good works: if she has brought up children, has shown hospitality, has washed the feet of the saints, has cared for the afflicted, and has devoted herself to every good work. 11 But refuse to enroll younger widows, for when their passions draw them away from Christ, they desire to marry 12 and so incur condemnation for having abandoned their former faith. 13 Besides that, they learn to be idlers, going about from house to house, and not only idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not. 14 So I would have younger widows marry, bear children, manage their households, and give the adversary no occasion for slander. 15 For some have already strayed after Satan. 16 If any believing woman has relatives who are widows, let her care for them. Let the church not be burdened, so that it may care for those who are truly 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 when it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his wages.” 19 Do not admit a charge 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 may stand in fear. 21 In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the elect angels I charge you to keep these rules without prejudging, doing nothing from partiality. 22 Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, nor take part in the sins of others; keep yourself pure. 23 (No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.) 24 The sins of some people are conspicuous, going before them to judgment, but the sins of others appear later. 25 So also good works are conspicuous, and even those that are not cannot remain hidden.
1 Timothy 61 Timothy 6:1 Let all who are under a yoke as bondservants regard their own masters as worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and the teaching may not be reviled. 2 Those who have believing masters must not be disrespectful on the ground that they are brothers; rather they must serve all the better since those who benefit by their good service are believers and beloved.
False Teachers and True ContentmentTeach and urge these things. 3 If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, 4 he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, 5 and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. 6 But godliness with contentment is great gain, 7 for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. 8 But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. 9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into 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 evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.
Fight the Good Fight of Faith11 But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 13 I charge you 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, 14 to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which he will display at the proper time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.
17 As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. 18 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, 19 thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.
20 O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge,” 21 for by professing it some have swerved from the faith.
Grace be with you.
What I'm Reading
1 Timothy 1
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.
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.
1 Timothy 2
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!
1 Timothy 3
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 The 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.The Wiersbe Bible Study Series: 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon: It's Always Too Soon to Quit!
1 Timothy 4
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.
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.The Wiersbe Bible Study Series: 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon: It's Always Too Soon to Quit!
1 Timothy 5
“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
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.
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.The Wiersbe Bible Study Series: 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon: It's Always Too Soon to Quit!
1 Timothy 6
“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
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.
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: 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.
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:
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: 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.
• 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?
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?
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.
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.The Wiersbe Bible Study Series: 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon: It's Always Too Soon to Quit!
Can Christian Men and Women Be Friends?
By Paul Maxwell 12/10/16
The question is a powder-keg. Those who immediately answer “yes” can hurl as many barrels of anecdotal evidence as those who scream “no.” Few treat this as a legitimate issue — opinions are given in a tone that implies that the very question violates common sense. Different answers are given. Different passages are cited. Different hills are constructed and died on.
So, can Christian women and men be friends?
To start, multiple kinds of male-female friendships deserve unique attention.
A single woman and a married man.
A married woman and a single man.
A married woman and a married man.
A single woman and a single man.
What do these friendships look like? Should they exist? Does God prohibit them, or are they vital to the body of Christ? Are they obviously inappropriate, or undeniably essential in healthy church community? It seems to me, after considering the biblical evidence, that male-female friendships lean even more heavily on a process that exists in all friendships:
Paul Maxwell (@paulcmaxwell) is a PhD student at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and philosophy professor at Moody Bible Institute. He writes more at his blog, and pretends to like coffee.
The Institutes of the Christian Religion
Translated by Henry Beveridge
5. Assuming that the beginning of motion belongs to God, but that all things move spontaneously or casually, according to the impulse which nature gives, the vicissitudes of day and nights summer and winter, will be the work of God; inasmuch as he, in assigning the office
of each, appointed a certain law, namely, that they should always with uniform tenor observe the same course, day succeeding night, month succeeding month, and year succeeding year. But, as at one time, excessive heat, combined with drought, burns up the fields; at another time excessive rains rot the crops, while sudden devastation is produced by tempests and storms of hail, these will not be the works of God, unless in so far as rainy or fair weather, heat or cold, are produced by the concourse of the stars, and other natural causes. According to this view, there is no place left either for the paternal favour, or the Judgments of God. If it is said that God fully manifests his beneficence to the human race, by furnishing heaven and earth with the ordinary power of producing food, the explanation is meagre and heathenish: as if the fertility of one year were not a special blessing, the penury and dearth of another a special punishment and curse from God. But as it would occupy too much time to enumerate all the arguments, let the authority of God himself suffice. In the Law and the Prophets he repeatedly declares, that as often as he waters the earth with dew and rain, he manifests his favour, that by his command the heaven becomes hard as iron, the crops are destroyed by mildew and other evils, that storms and hail, in devastating the fields, are signs of sure and special vengeance. This being admitted, it is certain that not a drop of rain falls without the express command of God.
David, indeed (Ps. 146:9), extols the general providence of God in supplying food to the young ravens that cry to him but when God himself threatens living creatures with famine, does he not plainly declare that they are all nourished by him, at one time with scanty, at another with more ample measure? It is childish, as I have already said, to confine this to particular acts, when Christ says, without reservation, that not a sparrow falls to the ground without the will of his Father (Mt. 10:29). Surely, if the flight of birds is regulated by the counsel of God, we must acknowledge with the prophet, that while he "dwelleth on high," he "humbleth himself to behold the things that are in heaven and in the earth," (Ps. 113:5, 6).
6. But as we know that it was chiefly for the sake of mankind that the world was made, we must look to this as the end which God has in view in the government of it. The prophet Jeremiah exclaims, "O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps," (Jer. 10:23). Solomon again says, "Man's goings are of the Lord: how can a man then understand his own way?" (Prov. 20:24). Will it now be said that man is moved by God according to the bent of his nature, but that man himself gives the movement any direction he pleases? Were it truly so, man would have the full disposal of his own ways. To this it will perhaps be answered, that man can do nothing without the power of God. But the answer will not avail, since both Jeremiah and Solomon attribute to God not power only, but also election and decree. And Solomon, in another place, elegantly rebukes the rashness of men in fixing their plans without reference to God, as if they were not led by his hand. "The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the Lord," (Prov. 16:1). It is a strange infatuation, surely for miserable men, who cannot even give utterance except in so far as God pleases, to begin to act without him! Scriptures moreover, the better to show that every thing done in the world is according to his decree, declares that the things which seem most fortuitous are subject to him. For what seems more attributable to chance than the branch which falls from a tree, and kills the passing traveller? But the Lord sees very differently, and declares that He delivered him into the hand of the slayer (Exod. 21:13). In like manners who does not attribute the lot to the blindness of Fortune? Not so the Lord, who claims the decision for himself (Prov. 16:33). He says not, that by his power the lot is thrown into the lap, and taken out, but declares that the only thing which could be attributed to chance is from him. To the same effect are the words of Solomon, "The poor and the deceitful man meet together; the Lord lighteneth both their eyes," (Prov. 29:13). For although rich and poor are mingled together in the world, in saying that the condition of each is divinely appointed, he reminds us that God, Who enlightens all, has his own eye always open, and thus exhorts the poor to patient endurance, seeing that those who are discontented with their lot endeavour to shake off a burden which God has imposed upon them. Thus, too, another prophet upbraids the profane, who ascribe it to human industry, or to fortune, that some grovel in the mire while others rise to honour. "Promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. But God is the judge: he putteth down ones and setteth up another," (Ps. 75:6, 7). Because God cannot divest himself of the office of judge, he infers that to his secret counsel it is owing that some are elevated, while others remain without honour.
7. Nay, I affirm in general, that particular events are evidences of the special providence of God. In the wilderness God caused a south wind to blow, and brought the people a plentiful supply of birds (Exod. 19:13). When he desired that Jonah should be thrown into the sea, he sent forth a whirlwind. Those who deny that God holds the reins of government will say that this was contrary to ordinary practice, whereas I infer from it that no wind ever rises or rages without his special command. In no way could it be true that "he maketh the winds his messengers, and the flames of fire his ministers;" that "he maketh the clouds his chariot, and walketh upon the wings of the wind," (Ps. 104:3, 4), did he not at pleasure drive the clouds and winds and therein manifest the special presence of his power. In like manner, we are elsewhere taught, that whenever the sea is raised into a storm, its billows attest the special presence of God. "He commandeth and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves." "He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still," (Ps. 107:25, 29) He also elsewhere declares, that he had smitten the people with blasting and mildew (Amos 4:9). Again while man naturally possesses the power of continuing his species, God describes it as a mark of his special favour, that while some continue childless, others are blessed with offspring: for the fruit of the womb is his gift. Hence the words of Jacob to Rachel, "Am I in God's stead, who has withheld from thee the fruit of the womb?" (Gen. 30:2). To conclude in one word. Nothing in nature is more ordinary than that we should be nourished with bread. But the Spirit declares not only that the produce of the earth is God's special gift, but "that man does not live by bread only," (Deut. 8:3), because it is not mere fulness that nourishes him but the secret blessing of God. And hence, on the other hand, he threatens to take away "the stay and the staff, the whole stay of bread, and the whole stay of water," (Is. 3:1). Indeed, there could be no serious meaning in our prayer for daily bread, if God did not with paternal hand supply us with food. Accordingly, to convince the faithful that God, in feeding them, fulfils the office of the best of parents, the prophet reminds them that he "giveth food to all flesh," (Ps. 136:25). In fine, when we hear on the one hand, that "the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry," and, on the other hand, that "the face of the Lord is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth," (Ps. 34:15, 16), let us be assured that all creatures above and below are ready at his service, that he may employ them in whatever way he pleases. Hence we infer, not only that the general providence of God, continuing the order of nature, extends over the creatures, but that by his wonderful counsel they are adapted to a certain and special purpose.
8. Those who would cast obloquy on this doctrine, calumniate it as the dogma of the Stoics concerning fate. The same charge was formerly brought against Augustine (lib. ad Bonifac. 2, c. 6 et alibi). We are unwilling to dispute about words; but we do not admit the term Fate, both because it is of the class which Paul teaches us to shun, as profane novelties (1 Tim. 6:20), and also because it is attempted, by means of an odious term, to fix a stigma on the truth of God. But the dogma itself is falsely and maliciously imputed to us. For we do not with the Stoics imagine a necessity consisting of a perpetual chain of causes, and a kind of involved series contained in nature, but we hold that God is the disposer and ruler of all things,--that from the remotest eternity, according to his own wisdom, he decreed what he was to do, and now by his power executes what he decreed. Hence we maintain, that by his providence, not heaven and earth and inanimate creatures only, but also the counsels and wills of men are so governed as to move exactly in the course which he has destined. What, then, you will say, does nothing happen fortuitously, nothing contingently? I answer, it was a true saying of Basil the Great, that Fortune and Chance are heathen terms; the meaning of which ought not to occupy pious minds. For if all success is blessing from God, and calamity and adversity are his curse, there is no place left in human affairs for fortune and chance. We ought also to be moved by the words of Augustine (Retract. lib. 1 cap. 1), "In my writings against the Academics," says he, "I regret having so often used the term Fortune; although I intended to denote by it not some goddess, but the fortuitous issue of events in external matters, whether good or evil. Hence, too, those words, Perhaps, Perchance, Fortuitously,  which no religion forbids us to use, though everything must be referred to Divine Providence. Nor did I omit to observe this when I said, Although, perhaps, that which is vulgarly called Fortune, is also regulated by a hidden order, and what we call Chance is nothing else than that the reason and cause of which is secret. It is true, I so spoke, but I repent of having mentioned Fortune there as I did, when I see the very bad custom which men have of saying, not as they ought to do, So God pleased,' but, So Fortune pleased.' " In short, Augustine everywhere teaches, that if anything is left to fortune, the world moves at random. And although he elsewhere declares (Quæstionum, lib. 83). that all things are carried on, partly by the free will of man, and partly by the Providence of God, he shortly after shows clearly enough that his meaning was, that men also are ruled by Providence, when he assumes it as a principle, that there cannot be a greater absurdity than to hold that anything is done without the ordination of God; because it would happen at random. For which reason, he also excludes the contingency which depends on human will, maintaining a little further on, in clearer terms, that no cause must be sought for but the will of God. When he uses the term permission, the meaning which he attaches to it will best appear from a single passage (De Trinity. lib. 3 cap. 4), where he proves that the will of God is the supreme and primary cause of all things, because nothing happens without his order or permission. He certainly does not figure God sitting idly in a watch-tower, when he chooses to permit anything. The will which he represents as interposing is, if I may so express it, active (actualis), and but for this could not be regarded as a cause.
9. But since our sluggish minds rest far beneath the height of Divine Providence, we must have recourse to a distinction which may assist them in rising. I say then, that though all things are ordered by the counsel and certain arrangement of God, to us, however, they are fortuitous,--not because we imagine that Fortune rules the world and mankind, and turns all things upside down at random (far be such a heartless thought from every Christian breast); but as the order, method, end, and necessity of events, are, for the most part, hidden in the counsel of God, though it is certain that they are produced by the will of God, they have the appearance of being fortuitous, such being the form under which they present themselves to us, whether considered in their own nature, or estimated according to our knowledge and Judgment. Let us suppose, for example, that a merchant, after entering a forest in company with trust-worthy individuals, imprudently strays from his companions and wanders bewildered till he falls into a den of robbers and is murdered. His death was not only foreseen by the eye of God, but had been fixed by his decree. For it is said, not that he foresaw how far the life of each individual should extend, but that he determined and fixed the bounds which could not be passed (Job 14:5). Still, in relation to our capacity of discernment, all these things appear fortuitous. How will the Christian feel? Though he will consider that every circumstance which occurred in that person's death was indeed in its nature fortuitous, he will have no doubt that the Providence of God overruled it and guided fortune to his own end. The same thing holds in the case of future contingencies. All future events being uncertain to us, seem in suspense as if ready to take either direction. Still, however, the impression remains seated in our hearts, that nothing will happen which the Lord has not provided. In this sense the term event is repeatedly used in Ecclesiastes, because, at the first glance, men do not penetrate to the primary cause which lies concealed. And yet, what is taught in Scripture of the secret providence of God was never so completely effaced from the human heart, as that some sparks did not always shine in the darkness. Thus the soothsayers of the Philistine, though they waver in uncertainty, attribute the adverse event partly to God and partly to chance. If the ark, say they, "Goes up by the way of his own coast to Bethshemish, then he has done us this great evil; but if not, then we shall know that it is not his hand that smote us, it was a chance that happened to us." (1 Sam. 6:9). Foolishly, indeed, when divination fails them they flee to fortune. Still we see them constrained, so as not to venture to regard their disaster as fortuitous. But the mode in which God, by the curb of his Providence, turns events in whatever direction he pleases, will appear from a remarkable example. At the very same moment when David was discovered in the wilderness of Maon, the Philistines make an inroad into the country, and Saul is forced to depart (1 Sam. 23:26, 27). If God, in order to provide for the safety of his servant, threw this obstacle in the way of Saul, we surely cannot say, that though the Philistine took up arms contrary to human expectation, they did it by chance. What seems to us contingence, faith will recognise as the secret impulse of God. The reason is not always equally apparent, but we ought undoubtedly to hold that all the changes which take place in the world are produced by the secret agency of the hand of God. At the same time, that which God has determined, though it must come to pass, is not, however, precisely, or in its own nature, necessary. We have a familiar example in the case of our Saviour's bones. As he assumed a body similar to ours, no sane man will deny that his bones were capable of being broken and yet it was impossible that they should be broken (John 19:33, 36). Hence, again, we see that there was good ground for the distinction which the Schoolmen made between necessity, secundum quid, and necessity absolute, also between the necessity of consequent and of consequence. God made the bones of his Son frangible, though he exempted them from actual fracture; and thus, in reference to the necessity of his counsel, made that impossible which might have naturally taken place.
 See Hyperius in Methodo Theologiæ.
 See Calvin adversus Astrolog. Judiciariam. August De Ordine, lib. 2 cap. 15.
 The French adds, "Cest à dire, que non seulement il voit, mais aussi ordonne ce qu'il veut estra fait;"--"that is to say, he not only sees, but ordains what he wills to be done."
 Plin. lib. 2. c. 7. "Irridendum vero, agere curam rerum humanarum, illud, quicquid est sumum. Anne tam tristi atque multiplici ministerio non pollui credamus dubitemusve?"
 Forte. Forsan. Forsitan, Fortuito.
Christian Classics Ethereal Library / Public Domain
Institutes of the Christian Religion
Read The Psalms In "1" Year
Psalm 141Give Ear to My Voice
141 A Psalm Of David.
141:1 O LORD, I call upon you; hasten to me!
Give ear to my voice when I call to you!
2 Let my prayer be counted as incense before you,
and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice!
3 Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth;
keep watch over the door of my lips!
4 Do not let my heart incline to any evil,
to busy myself with wicked deeds
in company with men who work iniquity,
and let me not eat of their delicacies!
Learning from the Judges
By R.C. Sproul 10/01/2016
Certain periods of history stand out to me as particularly instructive for the course of all of history. That is, sometimes we can zero in on one period of time in the past, observe how the entire span of human history recapitulates that particular period, and then learn from that period what we should do today. One of these instructive periods is the period of the judges of Israel. This period, narrated for us in the books of Judges and Ruth and the opening chapters of 1 Samuel, spans a period of roughly three-hundred-and fifty years. If you want a sense of how wide an expanse of time this represents, think back to the middle of the seventeenth century in America. Think of all the history that has transpired in America from a period of one-hundred-and-twenty-five years before the Revolutionary War up to the present day. That’s the same time span that the period of the judges covers.
For this period of about three-and-a-half centuries, there was no king in Israel, no single leader of the nation. Israel was living in the land of Canaan as a tribal federation, led by a succession of individuals whom God raised up in times of crisis and empowered to perform particular tasks. Under the power of the Holy Spirit, Samson exercised great physical strength against the Philistines. Deborah and Barak were anointed to defeat the evil King Jabin. And so on.
Now, the reason I believe the period of the judges is instructive for the flow of all history is the pattern we see during those three-hundred-and years. Repeatedly during this era, the book of Judges tells us, the Israelites would find themselves in a cycle that began this way: “The people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord.” And each time we read that phrase in the book of Judges, we see that God would raise up enemies of Israel — the Midianites, the Philistines, the Moabites, and others — as tools of chastisement against His people. Those pagan nations would oppress the Israelites, who would then cry out for relief and repent of their sins. Then, God would raise up one of the judges who, under the power of the Holy Spirit, would defeat the enemies of Israel and bring deliverance. One scholar calls this a cycle of relapse, retribution, repentance, and rescue. Following each relapse into gross sin recorded in the book of Judges is the retributive justice of God whereby He pours out His judgment and wrath against His own people. Under the weight of that retributive justice of God, the people are then brought to repentance, and they bewail their situation and await their rescue by God, who redeems them.
The grim history of Israel’s sin in the period of the judges goes against what the people pledged. When Joshua brought the people together to renew their covenant with the Lord just before his death, the Israelites promised two things, one positive and one negative. Positively, they promised to obey God. Negatively, they promised not to forsake Him for idols.
And this is significant in light of the promise God made again and again to the patriarchs. When He committed Himself to Jacob, for example, He said, “I will not leave you” (Gen. 28:15). This covenant pledge of God to those who are in a relationship with Him is a key theme of Scripture. The book of Judges attests to that, that even though God chastened His people, He was chastening His children whom He loved. And though they felt forsaken for a season, God did not utterly abandon them.
However, the record is that the people forsook Him. That’s the big difference between the God of Israel — the God of the covenant — and His people. God does not forsake us, but we are prone to forsake Him. What provoked the forsaking of God during the period of the judges was the Israelites’ great desire to be like their neighbors. God had called them to nonconformity. God had called them to be a holy nation. God had called them to be godly and to flee from idolatry, but that was unpopular in those days. It’s often been unpopular in church history. And without a doubt, it’s unpopular today as well.
The people of God relived the cycle of relapse, retribution, repentance, and rescue over and over again throughout biblical history. And, dare I say, the church has seen a similar cycle over the past two thousand years as well. But we have a tendency to think such things cannot happen in the life of the church today. We refuse to take note of this recurring pattern of the actions of God, believing that God will not bring calamity upon a people who forsake Him. But the God of Israel is a God who promises both blessing and curse, both prosperity and calamity. We should not be surprised to see trouble for the church when it has been worldly, when it has been unfaithful to the Lord. Sometimes, of course, the church suffers because of its faithfulness, because the forces of darkness respond with hostility against the advance of gospel transformation. At other times, however, the church suffers because of widespread, persistent unfaithfulness. That happened during the era of the judges, and it can happen today as well.
Nevertheless, we read in the book of Judges that when the Israelites repented, God delivered them. No matter how badly God’s covenant people fail, our Lord is quick to rescue His church when she repents. His people forsake Him, but He never forsakes them. Judgment begins at the house of God (1 Peter 4:17), but it is a judgment that is disciplinary, not destructive. It’s designed to move us to repentance and faithfulness. And the era of the judges shows us that the Lord will not fail to rescue and preserve His church when His church repents and cries out to Him.
Robert Charles Sproul, 2/13/1939 – 12/14/2017 was an American theologian, author, and ordained pastor in the Presbyterian Church in America. Dr. R.C. Sproul was founder and chairman of Ligonier Ministries, an international Christian education and discipleship organization located near Orlando, Fla. He was also copastor of Saint Andrew’s Chapel in Sanford, Fla., chancellor of Reformation Bible College, and executive editor of Tabletalk magazine. Dr. Sproul has contributed dozens of articles to national evangelical publications, has spoken at conferences, churches, and schools around the world, and has written more than one hundred books. He also served as general editor of the Reformation Study Bible.R.C. Sproul Books | Go to Books Page
Fox's Book Of Martyrs (Chapter 21)
By John Foxe 1563
Murder of General La GardeAt length a check was put to these excesses by the report of the murder of Count LaGarde, who, receiving an account of this tumult, mounted his horse, and entered one of the streets, to disperse a crowd. A villain seized his bridle; another presented the muzzle of a pistol close to his body, and exclaimed, "Wretch, you make me retire!" He immediately fired. The murderer was Louis Boissin, a sergeant in the national guard; but, though known to everyone, no person endeavored to arrest him, and he effected his escape. As soon as the general found himself wounded, he gave orders to the gendarmerie to protect the Protestants, and set off on a gallop to his hotel; but fainted immediately on his arrival. On recovering, he prevented the surgeon from searching his wound until he had written a letter to the government, that, in case of his death, it might be known from what quarter the blow came, and that none might dare to accuse the Protestants of the crime.
The probable death of this general produced a small degree of relaxation on the part of their enemies, and some calm; but the mass of the people had been indulged in licentiousness too long to be restrained even by the murder of the representative of their king. In the evening they again repaired to the temple, and with hatchets broke open the door; the dismal noise of their blows carried terror into the bosom of the Protestant families sitting in their houses in tears. The contents of the poor box, and the clothes prepared for distribution, were stolen; the minister's robes rent in pieces; the books torn up or carried away; the closets were ransacked, but the rooms which contained the archives of the church, and the synods, were providentially secured; and had it not been for the numerous patrols on foot, the whole would have become the prey of the flames, and the edifice itself a heap of ruins. In the meanwhile, the fanatics openly ascribed the murder of the general to his own self-devotion, and said, 'that iw as the will of God.' Three thousand francs were offered for the apprehension of Boissin; but it was well known that the Protestants dared not arrest him, and that the fanatics would not. During these transactions, the system of forced conversions to Catholicism was making regular and fearful progress.
Interference of the British GovernmentTo the credit of England, the report of these cruel persecutions carried on against our Protestant brethren in France, produced such a senation on the part of the government as determined them to interfere; and now the persecutors of the Protestants made this spontaneous act of humanity and religion the pretext for charging the sufferers with a treasonable correspondence with England; but in this sate of their proceedings, to their great dismay, a letter appeared, sent some time before to England by the duke of Wellington, stating that 'much information existed on the events of the south.'
The ministers of the three denominations in London, anxious not to be misled, requested one of their brethren to visit the scenes of persecution, and examine with impartiality the nature and extent of the evils they were desirous to relieve. Rev. Clement Perot undertook this difficult task, and fulfilled their wishes with a zeal, prudence, and devotedness, above all praise. His return furnished abundant and incontestable proof of a shameful persecution, materials for an appeal to the British Parliament, and a printed report which was circulated through the continent, and which first conveyed correct information to the inhabitants of France.
Foreign interference was now found eminently useful; and the declarations of tolerance which it elicited from the French government, as well as the more cautious march of the Catholic persecutors, operated as decisive and involuntary acknowledgments of the importance of that interference, which some persons at first censured and despised, put through the stern voice of public opinion in England and elsewhere produced a resultant suspension of massacre and pillage, the murderers and plunderers were still left unpunished, and even caressed and rewarded for their crimes; and whilst Protestants in France suffered the most cruel and degrading pains and penalties for alleged trifling crimes, Catholics, covered with blood, and guilty of numerous and horrid murders, were acquitted.
Perhaps the virtuous indignation expressed by some of the more enlightened Catholics against these abominable proceedings, had no small share in restraining them. Many innocent Protestants had been condemned to the galleys and otherwise punished for supposed crimes, upon the oaths of wretches the most unprincipled and abandoned. M. Madier de Mongau, judge of the cour royale of Nismes, and president of the cour d'assizes of the Gard and Vaucluse, upon one occasion felt himself compelled to break up the court, rather than take the deposition of that notorious and sanguinary monster, Truphemy: "In a hall," says he, "of the Palace of Justice, opposite that in which I sat, several unfortunate persons persecuted by the faction were upon trial, every deposition tending to their crimination was applauded with the cries of Vive le Roi! Three times the explosion of this atrocious joy became so terrible that it was necessary to send for reinforcements from the barracks, and two hundred soldiers were often unable to restrain the people. On a sudden the shouts and cries of Vive le Roi! redoubled: a man arrived, caressed, appluaded, borne in triumph-it was the horrible Truphemy; he approached the tribunal-he came to depose against the prisoners-he was admitted as a witness-he raised his hand to take the oath! Seized with horror at the sight, I rushed from my seat, and entered the hall of council; my colleagues followed me; in vain they persuaded me to resume my seat; 'No!' exclaimed I, 'I will not consent to see that wretch admitted to give evidence in a court of justice in the city which he has filled with murders; in the palace, on the steps of which he has murdered the unfortunate Bourillon. I cannot admit that he should kill his victims by his testimonies no more than by his poignards. He an accuser! he a witness! No, never will I consent to see this monster rise, in the presence of magistrates, to take a sacrilegious oath, his hand still reeking with blood.' These words were repeated out of doors; the witness trembled; the factious also trembled; the factious who guided the tongue of Truphemy as they had directed his arm, who dictated calumny after they had taught him murder. These words penetrated the dungeons of the condemned, and inspired hope; they gave another couragious advocate the resolution to espouse the cause of the persecuted; he carried the prayers of innocence and misery to the foot of the throne; there he asked if the evidence of a Truphemy was not sufficient to annul a sentence. The king granted a full and free pardon."
Ultimate Resolution of the Proestants at NismesWith respect to the conduct of the Protestants, these highly outraged citizens, pushed to extremities by their persecutors, felt at length that they had only to choose the manner in which they were to perish. They unanimously determined that they would die fighting in their own defense. This firm attitude apprised their butchers that they could no longer murder with impunity. Everything was immediately changed. Those, who for four years had filled others with terror, now felt it in their turn. They trembled at the force which men, so long resigned, found in despair, and their alarm was heightened when they heard that the inhabitants of the Cevennes, persuaded of the danger of their brethren, were marching to their assistance. But, without waiting for these reinforcements, the Protestants appeared at night in the same order and armed in the same manner as their enemies. The others paraded the Boulevards, with their usual noise and fury, but the Protestants remained silent and firm in the posts they had chosen. Three days these dangerous and ominous meetings continued; but the effusion of blood was prevented by the efforts of some worthy citizens distinguished by their rank and fortune. By sharing the dangers of the Protestant population, they obtained the pardon of an enemy who now trembled while he menaced.
Foxe's Book of Martyrs
Devotionals, notes, poetry and more
Do what God has told you (5)
12/15/2017 Bob Gass
‘God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise.’
(1 Co 1:27) 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; ESV
As long as you need man’s approval, God is limited in what He can do through you. Faith is the willingness to look foolish. That’s why faith and humility go hand in hand. Noah looked foolish building an ark in the desert. Sarah looked foolish believing she could conceive at ninety. Moses looked foolish asking Pharaoh to let his slaves go. The Israelite army looked foolish marching round Jericho blowing trumpets. David looked foolish attacking Goliath with a slingshot. The wise men looked foolish following a star. Peter looked foolish stepping out of the boat in the middle of a storm. And Jesus looked foolhardy hanging half naked on the cross. But the results speak for themselves, don’t they? Noah stayed afloat during the flood. Sarah gave birth to Isaac. Moses delivered Israel out of Egypt. The walls of Jericho came tumbling down. David defeated Goliath. The wise men found the Messiah. Peter walked on water. And Jesus rose from the dead. There comes a moment when you must quit hedging your bets, quit playing it safe and doing what you’ve always done. You need to build the ark, or at least plant some trees or saw some planks! Faith is acting as if God has already answered our prayers, and acting as if God has answered means acting on our prayers even if, as in the case of Noah, it takes 120 years. Jesus said, ‘Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours’ (Mark 11:24 NIV 2011 Edition). What has God told you to do? Start doing it!
UCB The Word For Today
by Bill Federer
Newly independent, the thirteen American States were suspicions that their new government may become too powerful, as King George’s was. They insisted that ten handcuffs be place on the power of the Federal Government. We call these the First Ten Amendments or Bill of Rights, and they were ratified this day, December 15, 1791. The First Amendments states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
by C.S. Lewis
Reflections on the Intimate Dialogue
Between Man and God
Chapter 17 December 15
Don't imagine I am forgetting that the simplest act of mere obedience is worship of a far more important sort than what I've been describing (to obey is better than sacrifice). Or that God, besides being the Great Creator, is the Tragic Redeemer. Perhaps the Tragic Creator too. For I am not sure that the great canyon of anguish which lies across our lives is solely due to some prehistoric catastrophe. Something tragic may, as I think I've said before, be inherent in the very act of creation. So that one sometimes wonders why God thinks the game worth the candle. But then we share, in some degree, the cost of the candle and have not yet seen the "game."
There! I've done it again. I know that my tendency to use images like play and dance for the highest things is a stumbling-block to you. You don't, I admit, accuse it of profanity, as you used to-like the night we nearly came to blows at Edinburgh. You now, much more reasonably, call it "heartless." You feel it a brutal mockery of every martyr and every slave that a world-process which is so desperately serious to the actors should, at whatever celestial apex, be seen in terms of frivolities. And you add that it comes with a ludicrously ill grace from me, who never enjoyed any game and can dance no better than a centipede with wooden legs. But I still think you don't see the real point.
I do not think that the life of Heaven bears any analogy to play or dance in respect of frivolity. I do think that while we are in this "valley of tears," cursed with labor, hemmed round with necessities, tripped up with frustrations, doomed to perpetual plannings, puzzlings, and anxieties, certain qualities that must belong to the celestial condition have no chance to get through, can project no image of themselves, except in activities which, for us here and now, are frivolous. For surely we must suppose the life of the blessed to be an end in itself, indeed The End: to be utterly spontaneous; to be the complete reconciliation of boundless freedom with order-with the most delicately adjusted, supple, intricate, and beautiful order? How can you find any image of this in the "serious" activities either of our natural or of our (present) spiritual life? Either in our precarious and heartbroken affections or in the Way which is always, in some degree, a via crucis? No, Malcolm. It is only in our "hours off," only in our moments of permitted festivity, that we find an analogy. Dance and game are frivolous, unimportant down here; for "down here" is not their natural place. Here, they are a moment's rest from the life we were placed here to live. But in this world everything is upside down. That which, if it could be prolonged here, would be a truancy, is likest that which in a better country is the End of ends. Joy is the serious business of Heaven.
Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer
Compiled by Richard S. Adams
The heart of every problem
is the problem in the heart.
--- W. Wiersbe
Humility and knowledge in poor clothes
excel pride and ignorance in costly attire.
I am connected to the three generations that have gone before me, but I live my life in this world for the three generations who will come after me.
Taoyate Ob Najin (Dr. Richard Leo Twiss)
Jesus and the Culture Wars: Reclaiming the Lord's Prayer
By C. J. Conner
In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.
--- Martin Luther King Jr.
... from here, there and everywhere
by D.H. Stern
four beyond my knowledge—
19 the way of an eagle in the sky,
the way of a snake on a rock,
the way of a ship on the open sea,
and the way of a man with a girl.
Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
“The Lion of the tribe of Judah” is another messianic title rooted in Genesis 49:8–10. In this passage, Jacob blesses his son Judah with these words:
“Judah, your brothers will praise you; your hand will be on the neck of your enemies; your father’s sons will bow down to you. You are a lion’s cub, O Judah; you return from the prey, my son. Like a lion he crouches and lies down, like a lioness—who dares to rouse him? The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs and the obedience of the nations is his.”
Later Jews understood Jacob’s words to be a prophecy concerning the Messiah. First, he would be a descendant of David, who himself was a descendant of Judah. Second, the Messiah would be a king because “the scepter will not depart from Judah.” Finally, he would be a “lion,” a powerful warrior like his ancestor Judah.
Fourth Ezra 12:31–32 is one example of a later Jewish text that understands the “Lion of Judah” mentioned here in Genesis 49 to be a reference to the Messiah:
And as for the lion whom you saw rousing up out of the forest and roaring and speaking to the eagle and reproving him for his unrighteousness, and as for all his words that you have heard, this is the Messiah whom the Most High has kept until the end of days, who will arise from the posterity of David, and will come and speak to them; he will denounce them for their ungodliness and for their wickedness, and will cast up before them their contemptuous dealings.
Compare also Testament of Judah 24:5, which identifies the “scepter” as the “Shoot” of Judah—that is, the Messiah.
In light of these texts, we conclude that, when John calls Jesus “the Lion of the Tribe of Judah,” he is again identifying him as the Messiah by using a common Jewish image for the Messiah.
Both titles for Jesus discussed thus far picture the Messiah as a mighty warrior—a soldier like David and a “king of beasts” like the lion. So when one of the twenty-four elders in Revelation 5 introduces Christ as “the Lion of the tribe of Judah” and “the Root of David,” the next thing we expect to see is Christ appearing in the form of a conquering king. Instead, John turns and sees a little Lamb.
Revelation (The College Press Niv Commentary)
and then there was Michael
Michael is introduced in this verse and is also mentioned in Dan 10:21; 12:1; Jude 9; and Rev 12:7 in Scripture. In Jude 9 he is called the “archangel,” which means “first (chief) angel.” Michael has been assigned by God as Israel’s prince (cf. 10:21); he is “great” in power and protects the Jewish people (cf. 12:1). The implications of these statements are clear. Israel has a mighty angelic supporter in the heavenly realm. Therefore, regardless of Israel’s political, military, and economic weaknesses, its existence is assured because no earthly power can resist their great prince.
Who was this “prince of the Persian kingdom” who resisted Gabriel for three weeks? (1) He must have been an angel since no human prince could have withstood Gabriel. Moreover, Israel’s “prince” was the angel Michael (10:21), and it is reasonable to suppose that in the same context the “prince” of Persia was also an angel. (2) Since this prince opposed God’s angel, he may safely be assumed to have been an evil angel, that is, a demon. (3) He is called the “prince of the Persian kingdom,” so Persia must have been his special area of activity. Therefore this demon was either a powerful angel assigned to Persia by Satan or possibly he was Satan himself. Persia ruled the world in that day, and Satan would surely have concentrated his personal efforts in this most influential area. If the demon was Satan, it would explain why Michael, one of God’s most powerful angels, was needed to fight against him. The angelic warfare continued, for v. 20 reveals that the good angel would return to fight against this demon. Young suggests that it was this evil angel who “influenced the kings of Persia to support the Samaritans against Israel.”
From this passage several important facts are evident concerning angels: (1) angels are real; (2) there are good and evil angels; (3) angels can influence the affairs of human beings. Particularly this passage teaches that angels inspire human governments and their leaders. Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who was described in chap. 8 (also chap. 11), was certainly encouraged by demonic forces in his attempts to eradicate the Jewish religion. Antichrist, depicted in chaps. 7; 9; and 11 of this book, also will be satanically inspired (cf. 2 Thess 2:9; Rev 13:2). In Daniel’s day Persia ruled the earth. Satan would naturally have attempted to influence the decisions made by the Persian government because policies made there would affect the world. Today Satan continues his attempts to sway earthly powers, and he focuses his attention on nations of the world with the most influence. On the other hand, Dan 10:13, 20 and 11:1 demonstrate the positive activity of holy angels on governments. (4) There is an invisible, spiritual warfare being waged that involves angels and believers. The apostle Paul said, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
Daniel (New American Commentary, 18)
A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers
Approved unto God
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
--- 2 Tim. 2:15.
If you cannot express yourself on any subject, struggle until you can. If you do not, someone will be the poorer all the days of his life. Struggle to re-express some truth of God to yourself, and God will use that expression to someone else. Go through the winepress of God where the grapes are crushed. You must struggle to get expression experimentally, then there will come a time when that expression will become the very wine of strengthening to someone else; but if you say lazily—‘I am not going to struggle to express this thing for myself, I will borrow what I say,’ the expression will not only be of no use to you, but of no use to anyone. Try to re-state to yourself what you implicitly feel to be God’s truth, and you give God a chance to pass it on to someone else through you.
Always make a practice of provoking your own mind to think out what it accepts easily. Our position is not ours until we make it ours by suffering. The author who benefits you is not the one who tells you something you did not know before, but the one who gives expression to the truth that has been struggling for utterance in you.
the Poetry of R.S. Thomas
I often call there
There are no poems in it
for me. But as a gesture
of independence of the speeding
traffic I am a part
of, I stop the car,
turn down the narrow path
to the river, and enter
the church with its clear reflection
There are few services
now; the screen has nothing
to hide. Face to face
with no intermediary
between me and God,
and only the water's
quiet insistence on a time
older than man, I keep my eyes
open and I am not dazzled,
so delicately does the light enter
my soul from the serene presence
that waits for me till I come next.
The Poems of R.S. Thomas
Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
--- John 1:29.
Look at what he takes away: “the sin of the world.” John Duncan, “Behold the Lamb of God,” preached on October 25, 1840, at Milton Church, Glasgow, Scotland; downloaded from The Westminster Presbyterian, a Web site of the Presbyterian Reformed Church of Metropolitan Washington, at members.aol.com/rsich/grace.html, accessed Aug. 21, 2001. Not “sins,” but “sin”; sin with which not some individual but the whole world is charged. None but God can number the sins that have been committed since the world was, that will be committed while the world lasts. But though the sins are many and the sinners who commit them many, a unity binds all the sin of the world together. “The sin of the world,” of which the various sins are so many branches and displays, is the world’s apostasy and alienation from the living God. “Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness” (1 John 3:4). And the law of God is one; multitudes of commandments, but one in its principle—its principle being love to God and love to all created beings for God’s sake. It is one, as flowing all from the same essential purity, justice, and universal moral good of the divine nature. Sin has a unity contrary to this.
What is a world’s sin, the sin of a race that for six thousand years has been sinning? What is the amount of actual sin?
It’s “the sin of the world.” It involves me, it involves you, it involves each individual. We as individuals have our sins and as an integral part and portion of Adam’s posterity are connected thus with the whole amount of the sin of the world.
Now if we look through the world we will not find anything to take away its sin or even to lessen and restrain its sin—nothing there to make amends for it in whole or in part, nothing to subdue it. It is only capable of growing worse and worse. Isn’t this a pitiable world!
But, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” He was in the world, but he was not of the world. He comes into this world from the God against whom this world transgressed. And what may the world expect he comes to do? On what other errand could it be but to condemn the world? Ah no! “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:17). O what a visitor! How rightly might John point to him, how rightly may we all listen to John’s short but pithy declaration, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”
--- John Duncan
Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers
Neither Suit Nor Service
The surprising thing about John Oldcastle was the number of roles he played. During his approximately 39 years, he was a knight, a politician, a soldier, a preacher, a baron, a fugitive, a martyr, and the inspiration for Shakespeare’s character, Falstaff.
“Over a century before Luther, John Wycliffe proclaimed Reformation views in England, and a group of preachers, the Lollards, spread his message through the country. After Wycliffe’s death, John Oldcastle sought to protect and advance the Lollard ministry. Against him arose the archbishop of Canterbury, imploring the king to silence Oldcastle and the Lollards. Henry met with his baron and beseeched him to “submit to his mother the holy Church.” Oldcastle replied, “I am always prompt and willing to obey you, forasmuch as I know you are a king and the anointed minister of God. … But as touching the pope and his spirituality, I owe him neither suit nor service.”
Henry withdrew his support. Oldcastle, finding himself “compassed on every side with deadly dangers,” was seized, imprisoned in the Tower of London, and condemned. But before his execution could occur, “in the night season (it is not known by what means), he escaped out and fled to Wales.”
Henry offered a great reward for his recapture, but Oldcastle remained at large four years. Then “the Lord Powis, whether for greediness of the money or for hatred of the true doctrine of Christ, seeking all manner of ways how to play the part of Judas, and outwardly pretending great favor, at length obtained his bloody purpose and most cowardly and wretchedly took him and brought him bound up to London” (wrote John Foxe).
On December 15, 1418 Oldcastle was taken to Smithfield in London, where martyrs were killed, and “hanged up by the middle in chains of iron, and so consumed alive in the fire, praising the name of God so long as his life lasted.”
By faith we have been made acceptable to God. And now, because of our Lord Jesus Christ, we live at peace with God. … So we are happy, as we look forward to sharing in the glory of God. But that’s not all! We gladly suffer.
--- Romans 5:1,3.
God Is In The Manger (Day 5)
World Judgment and World Redemption
When God chooses Mary as the means when God himself wants to come into the world in the manger of Bethlehem, this is not an idyllic family affair. It is instead the beginning of a complete reversal, a new ordering of all things on this earth. If we want to participate in this Advent and Christmas event, we cannot simply sit there like spectators in a theater and enjoy all the friendly pictures. Rather, we must join in the action that is taking place and be drawn into this reversal of all things ourselves. Here we too must act on the stage, for here the spectator is always a person acting in the drama. We cannot remove ourselves from the action.
With whom, then, are we acting? Pious shepherds who are on their knees? Kings who bring their gifts? What is going on here, where Mary becomes the mother of God, where God comes into the world in the lowliness of the manger? World judgment and world redemption-that is what's happening here. And it is the Christ child in the manger himself who holds world judgment and world redemption. He pushes back the high and mighty; he overturns the thrones of the powerful; he humbles the haughty; his arm exercises power over all the high and mighty; he lifts what is lowly, and makes it great and glorious in his mercy.
Close to you I waken
in the dead of night,
And start with fear -
are you lost to me once more?
Is it always vainly that I seek you,
you, my past?
I stretch my hands out,
and I pray¬
and a new thing now I hear;
"The past will come to you
and be your life's enduring part,
through thanks and repentance.
Feel in the past God's deliverance and goodness.
Pray him to keep you
today and tomorrow. "
Poem written in Tegel prison, 1944
Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON
Morning - December 15
“Orpah kissed her mother in law; but Ruth clave unto her." Ruth 1:14.
Both of them had an affection for Naomi, and therefore set out with her upon her return to the land of Judah. But the hour of test came; Naomi most unselfishly set before each of them the trials which awaited them, and bade them if they cared for ease and comfort to return to their Moabitish friends. At first both of them declared that they would cast in their lot with the Lord’s people; but upon still further consideration Orpah with much grief and a respectful kiss left her mother in law, and her people, and her God, and went back to her idolatrous friends, while Ruth with all her heart gave herself up to the God of her mother in law. It is one thing to love the ways of the Lord when all is fair, and quite another to cleave to them under all discouragements and difficulties. The kiss of outward profession is very cheap and easy, but the practical cleaving to the Lord, which must show itself in holy decision for truth and holiness, is not so small a matter. How stands the case with us, is our heart fixed upon Jesus, is the sacrifice bound with cords to the horns of the altar? Have we counted the cost, and are we solemnly ready to suffer all worldly loss for the Master’s sake? The after gain will be an abundant recompense, for Egypt’s treasures are not to be compared with the glory to be revealed. Orpah is heard of no more; in glorious ease and idolatrous pleasure her life melts into the gloom of death; but Ruth lives in history and in heaven, for grace has placed her in the noble line whence sprung the King of kings. Blessed among women shall those be who for Christ’s sake can renounce all; but forgotten and worse than forgotten shall those be who in the hour of temptation do violence to conscience and turn back unto the world. O that this Morning we may not be content with the form of devotion, which may be no better than Orpah’s kiss, but may the Holy Spirit work in us a cleaving of our whole heart to our Lord Jesus.
Evening - December 15
“And lay thy foundations with sapphires.” --- Isaiah 54:11.
Not only that which is seen of the church of God, but that which is unseen, is fair and precious. Foundations are out of sight, and so long as they are firm it is not expected that they should be valuable; but in Jehovah’s work everything is of a piece, nothing slurred, nothing mean. The deep foundations of the work of grace are as sapphires for preciousness, no human mind is able to measure their glory. We build upon the covenant of grace, which is firmer than adamant, and as enduring as jewels upon which age spends itself in vain. Sapphire foundations are eternal, and the covenant abides throughout the lifetime of the Almighty. Another foundation is the person of the Lord Jesus, which is clear and spotless, everlasting and beautiful as the sapphire; blending in one the deep blue of earth’s ever rolling ocean and the azure of its all embracing sky. Once might our Lord have been likened to the ruby as he stood covered with his own blood, but now we see him radiant with the soft blue of love, love abounding, deep, eternal. Our eternal hopes are built upon the justice and the faithfulness of God, which are clear and cloudless as the sapphire. We are not saved by a compromise, by mercy defeating justice, or law suspending its operations; no, we defy the eagle’s eye to detect a flaw in the groundwork of our confidence—our foundation is of sapphire, and will endure the fire.
The Lord himself has laid the foundation of his people’s hopes. It is matter for grave enquiry whether our hopes are built upon such a basis. Good works and ceremonies are not a foundation of sapphires, but of wood, hay, and stubble; neither are they laid by God, but by our own conceit. Foundations will all be tried ere long: woe unto him whose lofty tower shall come down with a crash, because based on a quicksand. He who is built on sapphires may await storm or fire with equanimity, for he shall abide the test.
Morning and Evening
HARK! THE HERALD ANGELS SING
Charles Wesley, 1707–1788
But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for Me One who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from old, from ancient times. (Micah 5:2)
Christmas carols as we know them now were abolished by the English Puritan parliament in 1627 because they were a part of a “worldly festival,” which they considered the celebration of Christmas to be. As a result, there was a scarcity of Christmas hymns and carols in the 17th and early 18th centuries. Charles Wesley’s “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” was one of the few written during this period. Wesley’s fine text and the melody by master composer Felix Mendelssohn have given this hymn its great popularity and its standing as a classic among Christmas songs.
Like many of Charles Wesley’s more than 6,500 hymns, this text clearly presents biblical doctrine in poetic language. The first stanza describes the song of the angels outside Bethlehem with an invitation to join them in praise of Christ. The following verses present the truths of the virgin birth, Christ’s deity, the immortality of the soul, the new birth, and a prayer for the transforming power of Christ in our lives.
For more than 200 years, believers have been enlightened and blessed by the picturesque manner in which Charles Wesley has retold the truths of our Savior’s birth.
Hark! the herald angels sing, “Glory to the new-born King; peace on earth, and mercy mild—God and sinners reconciled!” Joyful, all ye nations rise, join the triumph of the skies; with th’ angelic hosts proclaim, “Christ is born in Bethlehem!” Hark the herald angels sing, “Glory to the new-born King!”
Christ, by highest heav’n adored, Christ, the everlasting Lord! Late in time behold Him come, offspring of the virgin’s womb. Veiled in flesh the God-head see; hail th’ incarnate Deity, pleased as man with men to dwell, Jesus, our Emmanuel. Hark! the herald angels sing, “Glory to the new-born King.”
Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace! Hail the Sun of Righteousness! Light and life to all He brings, ris’n with healing in His wings. Mild He lays His glory by, born that man no more may die, born to raise the sons of earth, born to give them second birth. Hark! the herald angels sing, “Glory to the new-born King.”
For Today: Matthew 2:1–12; Luke 2:1–7, 14
Be so in tune with the exultant song of the angels during this Christmas time that others may see and hear that Christ dwells with you.
Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions
[2.] The sovereignty of God is contemned in making additions to the laws of God. The authority of a sovereign Lawgiver is invaded and vilified when an inferior presumes to make orders equivalent to his edicts. It is a prœmunire against heaven to setup an authority distinct from that of God, or to enjoin anything as necessary in matter of worship for which a Divine commission cannot be shown. God was always so tender of this part of his prerogative, that he would not have anything wrought in the tabernacle, not a vessel, not an instrument, but what himself had prescribed. “According to all that I show thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it” (Exod. 25:9); which is strictly urged again, ver. 40: “Look that thou make them after their pattern;” look to it, beware of doing anything of thine own head, and justling with my authority. It was so afterwards in the matter of the temple, which succeeded the tabernacle; God gave the model of it to David, and made him “understand in writing by his hand upon him, even all the works of this pattern” (1 Chron. 28:19). Neither the royal authority in Moses, who was king in Jesurun; nor in David, who was a man after God’s own heart, and called to the crown by a special and extraordinary providence; nor Aaron, and the high priests his successors, invested in the sacerdotal office, had any authority from God, to do anything in the framing the tabernacle or temple of their own heads. God barred them from anything of that nature, by giving them an exact pattern, so dear to him was always this, flower of his crown. And afterwards, the power of appointing officers and ordinances in the church was delegated to Christ, and was among the rest of those royalties given to him, which he fully completed “for the edifying of the body” (Eph. 4:11, 12); and he hath the eulogy by the Spirit of God, to be “faithful as Moses was in all his house, to Him that appointed him” (Heb. 3:2). Faithfulness in a trust implies a punctual observing directions; God was still so tender of this, that even Christ, the Son, should no more do anything in this concern without appointment and pattern, than “Moses, a servant” (ver. 5, 6). It seems to be a vote of nature to refer the original of the modes of all worship to God; and therefore in all those varieties of ceremonies among the heathens, there was scarce any but were imagined by them to be the dictates and orders of some of their pretended deities, and not the resolves of mere human authority. What intrusion upon God’s right hath the papacy made in regard of officers, cardinals, patriarchs, &c., not known in any Divine order? In regard of ceremonies in worship, pressed as necessary to obtain the favor of God, holy water, crucifixes, altars, images, cringings, reviving many of the Jewish and Pagan ceremonies, and adopting them into the family of Christian ordinances; as if God had been too absolute and arbitrary in repealing the one, and dashing in pieces the other. When God had by his sovereign order framed a religion for the heart, men are ready to usurp an authority to frame one for the sense, to dress the ordinances of God in new and gaudy habit, to take the eye by a vain pomp; thus affecting a Divine royalty, and acting a silly childishness; and after this, to impose the observation of those upon the consciences of men, is a bold ascent into the throne of God; to impose laws upon the conscience, which Christ hath not imposed, hath deservedly been thought the very spirit of antichrist; it may be called also the spirit of anti-god. God hath reserved to himself the sole sovereignty over the conscience, and never indulged men any part of it; he hath not given man a power over his own conscience, much less one man a power over another’s conscience. Men have a power over outward things to do this or that, where it is determined by the law of God, but not the least authority to control any dictate or determination of conscience: the sole empire of that is appropriate to God, as one of the great marks of his royalty. What an usurpation is it of God’s right to make conscience a slave to man, which God hath solely, as the Father of spirits, subjected to himself!—an usurpation which, though the apostles, those extraordinary officers, might better have claimed, yet they utterly disowned any imperious dominion over the faith of others (2 Cor. 1:24). Though in this they do not seem to climb up above God, yet they set themselves in the throne of God, envy him an absolute monarchy, would be sharers with him in his legislative power, and grasp one end of his sceptre in their own hands. They do not pretend to take the crown from God’s head, but discover a bold ambition to shuffle their hairy scalps under it, and wear part of it upon their own, that they may rule with him, not under him;, and would be joint lords of his manor with him, who hath, by the apostle, forbidden any to be “lords of his heritage” (1 Pet. 5:3.): and therefore they cannot assume such an authority to themselves till they can show where God hath resigned this part of his authority to them. If their exposition of that place (Matt. 16:18), “Upon. this rock I will build my church,” be granted to be true, and that the person and successors of Peter are meant by that rock, it could be no apology for their usurpations; it is not Peter and his successors shall build, but “I will build;” others are instruments in building, but they are to observe the directions of the grand Architect.
[3.] The sovereignty of God is contemned when men prefer obedience to men’s laws before obedience to God. As God hath an undoubted right, as the Lawgiver and Ruler of the world, to enact laws without consulting the pleasure of men, or requiring their consent to the verifying and establishing his edicts, so are men obliged, by their allegiance as subjects, to observe the laws of their Creator, without consulting whether they be agreeable to the laws of his revolted creatures. To consult with flesh and blood whether we should obey, is to authorize flesh and blood above the purest and most sovereign Spirit. When men will obey their superiors, without taking in the condition the apostle prescribes to servants (Col. 3:22), “In singleness of heart fearing God,” and postpone the fear of God to the fear of man, it is to render God of less power with them than the drop of a bucket, or dust of the balance. When we, out of fear of punishment, will observe the laws of men against the laws of God, it is like the Egyptians, to worship a ravenous crocodile instead of a Deity; when we submit to human laws, and stagger at Divine, it is to set man upon the throne of God, and God at the footstool of man; to set man above, and God beneath; to make him the tail, and not the head, as God speaks in another case of Israel (Deut. 28:13). When we pay an outward observation to Divine laws, because they are backed by the laws of man, and human authority is the motive of our observance, we subject God’s sovereignty to man’s anthority; what he hath from us, is more owing to the pleasure of men than any value we have for the empire of God: when men shall commit murders, and imbrue their hands in blood by the order of a grandee; when the worst sins shall be committed by the order of papal dispensations; when the use of his creatures, which God hath granted and sanctified, shall be abstained from for so many days in the week, and so many weeks in the year, because of a Roman edict, the authority of man is acknowledged, not only equal, but superior, to that of God; the dominion of dust and clay is preferred before the undoubted right of the Soverign of the world; the commands of God are made less than human, and the orders of men more authoritative than Divine, and a grand rebel’s usurpation of God’s right is countenanced. When men are more devout in observance of uncertain traditions, or mere human inventions, than at the hearing of the unquestionable oracles of God; when men shall squeeze their countenances into a more serious figure, and demean themselves in a more religious posture, at the appearance of some mock ceremony, clothed in a Jewish or Pagan garb, which hath unhappily made a rent in the coat of Christ, and pay a more exact reverence to that which hath no Divine, but only a human stamp upon it, than to the clear and plain word of God, which is perhaps neglected with sleepy nods, or which is worse, entertained with profane scoffs; — this is to prefer the authority of man employed in trifles, before the authority of the wise Lawgiver of the world: besides, the ridiculousness of it is as great as to adore a glow-worm, and laugh at the sun; or for a courtier to be more exact in his cringes and starched postures before a puppet than before his sovereign prince. In all this we make not the will and authority of God our rule, but the will of man; disclaim our dependence on God, to hang upon the uncertain breath of a creature. In all this God is made less than man, and man more than God; God is deposed, and man enthroned; God made a slave, and man a sovereign above him. To this we may refer the solemn addresses of some for the maintenance of the Protestant religion according to law, the law of man; not so much minding the law of God, resolving to make the law, the church, the state, the rule of their religion, and change that if the laws be changed, steering their opinions by the compass of the magistrate’s judgment and interest.
(2.) The dominion of God, as a Proprietor, is practically contemned.
[1.] By envy. When we are not flush and gay, as well spread and sparkling as others, this passion gnaws our souls, and we become the executioners to rack ourselves, because God is the executor of his own pleasure, The foundation of this passion is a quarrel with God; to envy others the enjoyment of their propriety is to envy God his right of disposal, and, consequently, the propriety of his own goods; it is a mental theft committed against God; we rob him of his right in our will and wish; it is a robbery to make ourselves equal with God when it is not our due, which is implied (Phil. 2:6), when Christ is said “to think it no robbery to be equal with God.” We would wrest the sceptre out of his hand, wish he were not the conductor of the world, and that he would resign his sovereignty, and the right of the distribution of his own goods, to the capricios of our humor, and ask our leave to what subjects he should dispense his favors. All envy is either a tacit accusation of God as an usurper, and assuming a right to dispose of that which doth not belong to him, and so it is a denial of his propriety, or else charges him with a blind or unjust distribution, and so it is a bespattering his wisdom and righteousness. When God doth punish envy, he vindicates his own sovereignty, as though this passion chiefly endeavored to blast this perfection (Ezek. 25:11, 12): “As I live, saith the Lord, I will do according to thy anger, and according to thy envy, and thou shall know that I am the Lord.” The sin of envy in the devils was immediately against the crown of God, and so was the sin of envy in the first man, envying God the sole prerogative in knowledge above himself. This base humor in Cain, at the preference of Abel’s sacrifice before his, was the cause that he deprived him of his life: denying God, first his right of choice and what he should accept, and then invading God’s right of propriety, in usurping a power over the life and being of his brother, which solely belonged to God.
[2.] The dominion of God, as a proprietor, is practically contemned by a violent or surreptitious taking away from any what God hath given him the possession of. Since God is the Lord of all, and may give the possession and dominion of things to whom he pleaseth, all theft and purloining, all cheating and cozening another of his right, is not only a crime against the true possessor, depriving him of what he is entrusted with, but against God, as the absolute and universal proprietor, having a right thereby to confer his own goods upon whom he pleaseth, as well as against God as a Lawgiver, forbidding such a violence: the snatching away what is another’s, denies man the right of possession, and God the right of donation: the Israelites taking the Egyptians’ jewels had been theft had it not been by a Divine license and order, but cannot be slandered with such a term, after the Proprietor of the whole world had altered the title, and alienated them by his positive grant from the Egyptians, to confer them upon the Israelites.
[3.] The dominion of God, as a proprietor, is practically contemned by not using what God hath given us for those ends for which he gave them to us. God passeth things over to us with a condition to use that for his glory which he hath bestowed upon us by his bounty: he is Lord of the end for which he gives, as well as Lord of what he gives; the donor’s right of propriety is infringed when the lands and legacies he leaves to a particular use are not employed to those ends to which he bequeathed them: the right of the lord of a manor is violated when the copyhold is not used according to the condition of the conveyance. So it is an invasion of God’s sovereignty not to use the creatures for those ends for which we are entrusted with them: when we deny ourselves a due and lawful support from them; hence covetousness is an invasion of his right: or when we unnecessarily waste them; hence prodigality disowns his propriety: or when we bestow not anything upon the relief of others; hence uncharitableness comes under the same title, appropriating that to ourselves, as if we were the lords, when we were but the usufructuaries for ourselves, and stewards for others; this is to be [rich to ourselves, not to God] (Luke 12:21), for so are they who employ not their wealth for the service, and according to the intent, of the donor. Thus the Israelites did not own God the true proprietor of their corn, wine, and oil, which God had given them for his worship, when they prepared offerings for Baal out of his stock: [For she did not know that I gave her corn, and wine, and oil, and multiplied her gold and silver, which they prepared for Baal] (Hos. 2:8); as if they had been sole proprietors, and not factors by commission, to improve the goods for the true owner. It is the same invasion of God’s right to use the parts and gifts that God hath given us, either as fuel for our pride, or advancing self, or a witty scoffing at God and religion; when we use not religion for the honor of our Sovereign, but a stool to rise by, and observe his precepts outwardly, not out of regard to his authority, but as a stale to our interest, and furnishing self with a little concern and trifle; when men will wrest his word for the favor of their lusts, which God intended for the checking of them, and make interpretations of it according to their humors, and not according to his will discovered in the Scripture, this is to pervert the use of the best goods and depositum he hath put into our hands, even Divine revelations. Thus hypocrisy makes the sovereignty of God a nullity.
(3.) The dominion of God, as a Governor, is practically contemned.
[1.] In idolatry. Since worship is an acknowledgment of God’s sovereignty, to adore any creature instead of God, or to pay to anything that homage of trust and confidence which is due to God, though it be the highest creature in heaven or earth, is to acknowledge that sovereignty to pertain to a creature, which is challenged by God; as to set up the greatest lord in a kingdom in the government, instead of the lawful prince, is rebellion and usurpation; and that woman incurs the crime of adultery, who commits it with a person of great port and honor, as well as with one of a mean condition. While men create anything a god, they own themselves supreme above the true God, yea, and above that which they account a god; for, by the right of creation, they have a superiority, as it is a deity blown up by the breath of their own imagination.
The authority of God is in this sin acknowledged to belong to an idol; it is called loathing of God as a husband (Ezek. 16:45), all the authority of God as a husband and Lord over them: so when we make anything or any person in the world the chief object and prop of our trust and confidence, we act the same part. Trust in an idol is the formal part of idolatry; “so is every one that trusts in them” (Psalm 115:8), i. e. in idols: whatsoever thing we make the object of our trust, we rear as an idol. It is not unlawful to have the image of a creature, but to bestow divine adoration upon it; it was not unlawful for the Egyptians to possess and use oxen, but to dub them gods to be adored, it was: it is not unlawful to have wealth and honor, nor to have gifts and parts, they are the presents of God; but to love them above God, to fix our reliance upon them more than upon God, is to rob God of his due, who, being our Creator, ought to be our confidence. What we want we are to desire of him, and expect from him. When we confide in anything else we deny God the glory of his creation; we disown him to be Lord of the world; imply that our welfare is in the hands of, and depends upon, that thing wherein we confide; it is not only to “equal it to God” in sovereign power, which is his own phrase (Isa. 40:25), but to prefer it before him in a reproach of him. When the hosts of heaven shall be served instead of the Lord of those hosts; when we shall lackey after the stars, depend barely upon their influences, without looking up to the great Director of the sun, it is to pay an adoration unto a captain in a regiment which is due to the general. When we shall “make gold our hope, and say to the fine gold, Thou art my confidence,” it is to deny the supremacy of that God that is above; as well as if we kiss our hands, in a way of adoration, to the sun in its splendor, or “the moon walking in its brightness,” for Job couples them together (ch. 31:25–28); it is to prefer the authority of earth before that of heaven, and honor clay above the Sovereign of the world: as if a soldier should confide more in the rag of an ensign, or the fragment of a drum, for his safety, than in the orders and conduct of his general; it were as much as is in his power to uncommission him, and snatch from him his commander’s staff. When we advance the creature in our love above God, and the altar of our soul smokes with more thoughts and affections to a petty interest than to God, we lift up that which was given us as a servant in the place of the Sovereign, and bestow that throne upon it which is to be kept undefiled for the rightful Lord, and subject the interest of God to the demands of the creature. So much respect is due to God, that none should be placed in the throne of our affections equal with him, much less anything to perk above him.
The Existence and Attributes of God
Brett Meador | Athey Creek
The Biggest Sinner 1 Timothy 1:12
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1 Timothy 1:1-18
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First Of All .. Prayer 1 Timothy 2:1-3
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m1-596 5-02-2012 1 Timothy 1:17-2:15
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True Godliness 1 Timothy 2:2
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1 Timothy 2:9-14
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How To Behave In Church 1 Timothy 3:14-15
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Mother's Day 2012 1 Timothy 2:15
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1 Timothy 3:1-7
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Doctrines of Deveils 1 Timothy 4:1-6
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1 Timothy 3:8-14
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Let No Man Despise Thy Youth 1 Timothy 4:12
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1 Timothy 5
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Contentment 1 Timothy 6:6-9
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1 Timothy 6
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