2. Key Verse: I Timothy 1:12
This outline partitions I Timothy into sections of verses, with the verses in each section grouped and labeled to relate to the title of each section.
I. The Minister's Calling * Chapter 1:1-20
A. His preparation by decree and by grace (I Tim. 1:1,2)
B. His challenge to false teachers (I Tim. 1:3-10, 18-20)
C. An example of grace (I Tim. 1:11-17)
II. The Minister's Support * Chapters 2:1 - 3:15
A. From the prayers of the members of the church (I Tim. 2:1-8)
B. From the faithfulness of the members of the church (I Tim. 2:15)
C. From official helpers (I Tim. 3:1-13)
D. From other ministers (I Tim. 3:14,15)
III. The Minister's Care of the Truth * Chapters 3:16 - 4:16
A. He knows the truth (I Tim. 3:16)
B. He responds to attempts to corrupt the truth (I Tim. 4:1-11)
C. He remains personally faithful in life and in doctrine (I Tim. 4:12-16)
IV. The Minister's Care for the Church * Chapters 5:1 - 6:5
A. His attitude toward other members (I Tim. 5:1, 2)
B. His treatment of widows (I Tim. 5:3-16)
C. His treatment of elders (I Tim. 5:17-20)
D. His judgments and evaluations of members (I Tim. 5:21-25)
E. His treatment of slaves and masters (I Tim. 6:1-2)
F. His response to challenges to his leadership (I Tim. 6:3-5)
V. The Minister's Guidance in Things of this World * Chapter 6:6-21
A. He knows the Biblical principle (I Tim. 6:6-8)
B. He recognizes the dangers (I Tim. 6:9,10)
C. He realizes the importance of personal faithfulness (I Tim. 6:11-16)
D. He warns others (I Tim. 6:17-21)
4. General Comments
I and II Timothy, Titus, Philemon, II and III John are the only books in the Bible in the form of private correspondence. Is this fact important in any way?
One thing the form of private correspondence does not mean is that I and II Timothy, Titus, Philemon, II and III John are simply letters from one man to another, in the sense that we can say, "Timothy, Titus, Philemon and John recognized the valuable advice from their trusted friend, Paul, so they decided to share the letters Paul wrote to them with other believers. Later the majority of believers determined that the letters were worth keeping, and eventually the letters found their way into the Bible." That is, we must dismiss the notion that these are simply personal letters, which God later selected and sanctified, and then guided the churches to preserve and include in the New Testament. That would be the wrong way to think about these letters. Instead, God planned, before these letters were composed, that their contents would instruct and guide all of His people, then and now. They are part of the Bible because, as God teaches in II Timothy 3:16, every part of the Bible is meant for every member of His church, not just for the people to whom it was originally addressed or delivered.
Paul himself realized that what he wrote in I Timothy was instruction for the whole church, and not just a personal letter to Timothy. This view is supported by the fact that Paul introduced himself as "an apostle of Jesus Christ," a statement of his authority that would be inappropriate and unnecessary if he were only writing to a close and trusted friend. In addition, the words in I Timothy 2:7, "I speak the truth I lie not," are a defense which Paul would not have to make if he were writing a letter which he expected only Timothy to read, for Timothy never doubted Paul's integrity.
Nevertheless, I Timothy was not addressed to the congregation at large, but to one man (I Tim. 1:2). We cannot ignore its structure and design. Not only is what God says important, but the way in which He says it is important and has a lesson for us as well. It will be our view that God used the form of individual correspondence for I Timothy on purpose to reinforce the message it contains.
In I Timothy, God has something to say to the whole congregation, but He deliberately gave it first of all to Timothy, who was obligated, in turn, to deliver it to the other members of the church. Why did God do it this way? First of all, this arrangement highlights the normal way God speaks to men. Throughout history, God has spoken to His people through His chosen prophets rather than directly to His people as a mass audience (Heb. 1:1, 2:3).
Secondly, and more significantly in the case of I Timothy than in the case of II Timothy, Titus or Philemon, this arrangement highlights another important truth. This arrangement reminds us that the command and example of Scripture, as well as the experience of believers throughout history, is that one or at most only a few men have, at any one time, been given the role of leadership of God's people on earth. Actually, God Himself is always the leader of His people, protecting and instructing them, and it is a great sin to forget that (I Sam. 8:6,7). But hierarchies of authority and leadership are God's design for the life of all men on earth, not only for mankind in general (Rom. 13:1-7, I Tim. 2:2), but also for His church (I Cor. 11:3, 14:34,35, I Tim. 2:12).
In the Old Testament times the nation of Israel was the church of God (Acts 7:38), and during one generation God appointed only one or at most a few men to places of authority through whom He taught and governed His people. For example, God spoke to Moses in a direct way that was unique among His people and which was a mark of his leadership (Ex. 19:21-25, 24:2, 33:11, Deut. 34:9,10), even though some authority was delegated for administrative purposes (Ex. 18:25,26). Also, God communicated directly with Moses' successor, Joshua, who was also the leader of God's people in his time (Josh. 1:1-9). In succeeding years, God spoke only to a few prophets and kings at a time, through whom He directed the spiritual affairs of His people (e.g. I Sam. 7:15, II Sam. 23:2, Jer. 42:4-7, Amos 7:14-17). Similarly, in New Testament times God's people were led as an organized church by a few men from the congregation (Acts 6:2-6, 13:1-3).
Now we can understand the significance of the fact that, although God's Word is for all of His people, I Timothy was obviously directed first of all to one person. I Timothy is a letter that has a lot to say about leadership. God guided events so that I Timothy was addressed to one man, who was a leader in the church at that time, even though the message is for all of God's people, so that the form of a personal letter confirmed and demonstrated its contents. Therefore, it is appropriate that the letter highlights one individual, Timothy, not that he is worthy of more attention than any other believer, but so we who read the Bible must learn that, in God's economy for men on earth, the many are led by the few. Because one message of I Timothy, among others, is that God chooses only a few men to lead the many members of His church, God shows that plan not only by placing Timothy in a position of leadership, but also by giving His word to him first rather than speaking directly to the congregation as a whole.
The spiritual leader of a congregation, the man we often call the minister, is the man who is usually most influential in the spiritual lives of the members of that congregation. His influence is through his teaching (I Tim. 4:16) and through his life (I Tim. 4:12, 6:11). Of course, congregations have gone apostate throughout the ages, and many times the spiritual and moral corruption has begun at the top. But that fact serves to emphasize the big effect the leaders of a congregation have on its members. Therefore, it is important what those human leaders think and how they behave. The Bible has some important things to say to and about those men who lead God's people, and we find many of those truths in I and II Timothy. In I Timothy, God has something to say about those who are in control of His church on earth, whether they minister for good (Num. 12:7, I Tim. 4:6, 5:17) or for evil (Jer. 23, I Tim. 1:7, 6:3-5).
One thing I Timothy teaches is the exclusiveness of the authority of leadership (I Tim. 4:14, 5:22). It may surprise many people to note that the church of God is not a democracy. God's people, as an organized congregation, do not receive direction and guidance through consensus or through the will of the majority. It is not God's plan that the authority of the church rests in the consent of the majority. In fact, leadership through the opinion of the majority many times leads to trouble (Num. 13:30,31, 14:36-38, I Kings 18:22). In those cases which we read that decisions were made through the actions of several men, only a few participated. Even then they were really only carrying out the will of God, who had already decided what was to be done (Acts 1:24-26, 15:2,28). We must keep in mind that God expresses His will and guides His people through His Word the Bible, which is delivered to men through His appointed leaders (I Tim. 1:11,12, 3:2, 4:6). Essentially, the church is a kingdom, ruled by a great King through those men whom that King qualifies by means of His wisdom, and whom He invests with authority, to lead His people who are living in different places on earth.
Another thing I Timothy teaches is that normally the minister is one of the first lines of defense against those who seek to assault and corrupt the church by means of false teaching (I Tim. 1:3,18-20, 4:1-7, 6:3-5,20) and evil behavior (I Tim. 5:6-8, 6:9). We might think that it is wrong that the minister is charged with the responsibility of the spiritual welfare of the congregation, when we consider that every member ought to be just as concerned about the church and ought to take steps to keep other members faithful to the word of God. It is true that personal Bible study and witnessing are the noble and expected tasks of every member of the congregation (Acts 17:11, II Tim. 2:15,24). Clearly the Bible teaches that we are all our brother's spiritual keeper (I Cor. 10:24,32,33).
Even though individual members of the congregation ought to study God's Word and seek ways to share what they have learned as God gives them opportunity, there are good reasons why God puts the responsibility of spiritual leadership upon one or a few men who have been placed in authority. One reason is that most local churches are composed of a mixture of people. Local churches contain mature believers. Local churches contain new believers who have much to learn. Local churches contain people who are not believers, who either are searching for truth or are playing a Christian game, pretending to be a believer for their own convenience or benefit. Therefore, while it is true that it is wise and necessary for the leaders of a church to pay careful attention to the advice and seek the consent of the members, a church may not receive proper guidance if it depended upon or was bound by a committee's decision. A church could easily go astray if it was required to follow counsel that was a product of the opinion of every member in the congregation. Another reason is that it is not practical, even in churches which consist of many mature believers, to have each member in the congregation decide what is right according to their own view and insist that the rest of the members follow that advice.
A church needs the leadership of a man who has given himself to the scriptures and is able to guide the spiritual affairs of a congregation. God has designed people so that in any group of worshippers, no matter how loosely organized, it soon becomes apparent who is a leader, as one or a few men begin to take charge of the spiritual affairs of the group as a whole. Leadership is God's gift, and it shows His care for His people. It is a terrible thing to be without a leader (Judges 21:25). It is part of His chain of command that prevents chaos and protects the congregation from the influence of one or more members who have evil intentions and who might have an opportunity to take control if the church was structured without a good shepherd.
Timothy also teaches that, amid all the moral and spiritual dangers in which he works, a minister who leads the church must maintain personal integrity in both doctrine and life (I Tim. 4:10 - 5:2,21,22, 6:11-14). A minister, as a leader, is a man who is in a position to be the most prominent example of the word of God which he brings to the congregation (I Tim. 4:12). So in I Timothy we read of Paul's example to Timothy (I Tim. 1:11-16, 2:7, 4:10), and Timothy's example to the congregation (I Tim. 3:15, 5:21,22, 6:11,12).
An additional lesson in I Timothy is that a leader's greatest role is one of humble and courageous service to those whom he leads (I Tim. 1:15, 6:12). A minister leads best when he sacrifices himself for the sake of the congregation (Ex. 32:32, Num. 14:19, 16:46, II Sam. 24:17, John 10:11, Phil. 2:17). A leader must be a living sacrifice, forsaking his private desires and the pleasures of this world, giving himself totally to his God-given task at hand for the spiritual welfare of those whom he leads (I Tim. 4:6,15,16, I Peter 5:2,3).
There is also a word in I Timothy about the transfer of leadership from one man to another (I Tim. 3:14,15, 4:13,14). It is the mercy of God that He sees to it that His people always have a man to guide and serve them. Therefore, God not only raises up men to serve His people on earth but also works things out so that when one man is ending his service another is ready to continue the work. God saw to it that Joshua followed Moses (Deut. 31:1-3), Elisha followed Elijah (I Kings 19:15,16), and Timothy followed Paul (I Tim. 4:14, 6:13,20).
The Bible mentions Timothy more than any other of Paul's companions. Let us carefully examine some of that data in order to understand what God has to say about one of the leaders of His church on earth.
It is often taught that Timothy was a shy and timid man. However, there is no Biblical validation for such a view. I Corinthians 16:10, which is used to support the notion that Timothy was easily intimidated, is referring to the Corinthian's fear, not Timothy's. Some of the Corinthians had a tendency to challenge Paul (I Cor. 4:18) and despise his representative (I Cor. 16:11). But Paul wanted them to know that he came in the authority of God Himself (I Cor. 9:1), as did Timothy whom he sent in his place. Therefore, Paul did not want Timothy to have to bring a message of rebuke that would bring fear or fright of God to the Corinthian congregation.
II Timothy 1:7 is also used to support the view that Timothy was a fearful person. But that is an implication that can not be substantiated by any other Scripture. Besides, Paul's exhortation to Timothy in this verse does not mean that Timothy had a problem with fear, any more than Paul's words in I Timothy 6:11 or II Timothy 2:22 imply that Timothy had a propensity for greed and lust. Nor are we compelled to conclude from II Timothy 1:4 that Timothy was crying out of fear. Paul was persuaded of Timothy's faithfulness (II Tim. 1:5). We cannot think that Timothy was driven to fits of despair any more than we can conclude from II Corinthians 2:4 that Paul was. The fact is that the words "thy fear" in II Timothy 1:4 tell us about Timothy's fervent concern for the people among whom Paul sent him.
We must set aside any idea that Timothy was raised to be a "mommy's boy" by his mother and grandmother (II Timothy 1:5). After all, Paul selected Timothy to be his representative to different congregations in very difficult times (Acts 17:14,15, 18:5, 19:22, I Cor. 4:17, Phil. 2:19-22, I Thess. 3:1,2, I Tim. 1:3). It would hardly do for Paul to entrust a weak and reluctant man with important jobs, such as instructing and correcting churches that were embattled from within and without. Paul needed a strong man upon whom he could rely to do the Lord's work amid rebellious or persecuted congregations. Timothy's assignments imply that Paul thought Timothy had the courage and ability to do what was needed.
When we read that Paul urged Timothy to exert his authority (I Tim. 1:8, 4:6,14, 6:17,20) or that Paul insisted that Timothy stand against evil men (I Tim. 1:3, 4:7,11, 6:3,5), we must not think that Timothy needed an extra kick to do what was required of him. Paul was simply making sure that he fulfilled his own obligation of elder brother and was leaving nothing unsaid as he passed the baton of leadership to his younger companion. Paul's insistent words reveal Paul's concern for the church rather than his doubts about Timothy's desire and ability to do his job. In fact, all the biblical evidence is that Paul was convinced that Timothy was a very faithful man (I Cor. 4:17, II Tim. 1:5). Paul's love for Timothy was based in part upon the fact that he knew Timothy cared for people as much as he did and was willing to minister to their needs no matter what (Phil. 2:19,20).
We must conclude that there is no reason to think that Timothy lacked any of the strong personality traits that were necessary for leadership of God's people. Timothy may have been a meek man, duly humble before the Lord and sober before men, which in fact is an important qualification for any true spiritual leader, shared by such men as Moses, Joshua, David, Jeremiah, Daniel and Amos to name a few. Even though we read in the Bible that Moses, Joshua and Jeremiah may have been reluctant at first, and needed encouragement to assume their appointed roles of leadership, they were certainly capable of boldly performing their assigned task. In fact, their meekness was actually their strength for they relied not upon themselves, knowing that they were weak sinners saved by grace, but upon the mighty God, Who alone could make them sufficient for their job as a leader. Timothy also showed that he relied upon God rather than his own wisdom and power.
It is a commonly held idea, based upon the phrases "my own son" in I Timothy 1:2 and "my dearly beloved son" in II Timothy 1:2, that Timothy was a convert of Paul. But there is no reason to conclude that. Paul had ordained Timothy (II Tim. 1:6) and he used those phrases to remind Timothy at the beginning of each letter that he was Timothy's mentor, who had given Timothy much personal training and counsel (II Tim. 1:13). They had developed a bond that was natural between two companions who had experienced a great deal together.
Actually, evidence from the Bible indicates that Timothy was not Paul's convert. For one thing, the Bible records that when Paul first met Timothy, Timothy had a good reputation among the brethren (Acts 16:2). It seems that Timothy was already the kind of man for whom Paul was looking since, once Paul met Timothy, he wanted Timothy to join him in replacement for Mark (Acts 15:38, 16:3). Not only that, from II Timothy 3:15 we learn that Timothy had a good knowledge of the Bible since childhood, long before Paul came along, learning not only the knowledge but also the faithfulness of his mother (II Tim. 1:5).
We could think of Timothy as part of the first generation of believers who were raised as Christians. That fact, together with the fact his mother was a Jewess and his father was a Greek, would make him quite stable. As a believer from his youth, he would have established personal Christian patterns of prayer and Bible study, which would have given him the foundation to be a leader among and minister to people who were converts later on in life and among people who brought along bad habits of thought and behavior from their former unsaved life. As a man with a mixed heritage, he would be less inclined to be influenced by either pagan society and religion or by the Jewish insistence that a man must obey the law as an additional requirement for salvation.
Incidentally, we ought to add that Acts 16:3 does not necessarily imply Paul and Timothy were capitulating to the pressure of the Jews who demanded observance of the Old Testament ceremonial laws. Rather, it is a picture of I Corinthians 9:20-22 and Galatians 5:6, 6:15. Timothy was truly a man for the world, able to identify with Jews or Gentiles and was not encumbered by any outward form. When it came to physical things, he could take it or leave it, for he was faithful to God's Word brought to him through Paul (I Tim. 4:4, 6:6-8). Timothy knew that his first responsibility was to be a witness in life and in word (I Tim. 4:15,16).
5. Observations on Specific Verses
a) I Timothy 1:1
In the phrase "Jesus Christ, which is our hope," the words "which is" are in italics in the King James Bible to signify that they are not in the original Greek text but were added by the translator to help clarify the passage. However, the inserted words are unnecessary, for the phrase is better rendered "Jesus Christ, our hope." In this way the words "our hope" are more like an appositive, or another name, as they properly should be. The words "our hope" do more than just describe something about Jesus Christ, they are an identity. The idea is that Jesus Christ can also be labeled as "our hope."
This identity means that Jesus is our total hope. There is no possibility of another hope in addition to Him. None of the promises of the world can add to our hope and none of the bitter disappointments of life can dim our hope. Jesus is our exclusive and sufficient hope.
This identity also means that Jesus exists as our timeless hope. He never ceases to be our hope. In this way the phrase is a statement about Jesus' resurrection. Jesus is now and forever alive, and therefore our hope. Jesus is alive so that we are confident that He completed our salvation. Jesus is alive so that we are assured that He provides all we need now in this sad and wearisome world, and all we can expect in the glorious life in heaven.b) I Timothy 1:2: the confirmation of the minister's message
This verse provides two excellent examples of a principle that ought to guide every student of the Bible. Sometimes students of the Bible over-emphasize the contrast in the meaning between words. Therefore, they fail to understand the principle that the Bible uses different words to refer to the same object or idea.
One example is the phrase "grace, mercy, and peace." We could think of these as three different words, describing three different but related ideas. From that point of view, we could develop each word independently. We could decide that grace refers to the motivation of God, namely the reason why He provided salvation for man. Then we could conclude that mercy refers to the action of God, namely He Who graciously was self-motivated to love His own used all of His wisdom and power to save undeserving, helpless sinners. And finally, we could think that peace refers to the goal or objective of God, that salvation results in the wonderful blessing of a peaceful relationship with the Creator and Lawgiver, God Himself. There is a lot of value in pursuing this line of reasoning.
However, there are also compelling reasons for thinking of the three words as synonyms, as different words that refer to the same thing. We could compare the word "grace" with Ephesians 2:8, "mercy" with Titus 3:5 and "peace" with Ephesians 6:15, concluding in a general way that all three words refer to salvation. From this point of view, the phrase in I Timothy 1:2 is repeating one idea three times. This is significant because the Bible often uses the number three to point to the Word of God, which is the description and guarantee of salvation. It is upon two or three witness that a word is confirmed or established (II Cor. 13:1). When God speaks three times, there is no further appeal; He has spoken (II Cor. 12:8,9). In this way, we could understand I Timothy 1:2 to have the additional instruction that the message of God's minister is God's final word on salvation, and that the salvation of which he speaks is totally the work of God, something which Timothy was urged to declare in the face of the corrupt gospel of works (I Tim. 1:7-9, 4:1-6).
A second example concerns the phrases "God our Father" and "Jesus Christ our Lord." We must not make too much out of the difference between these words. We certainly would not want to say that we worship two different gods or that the Father is God, but the Son is not. We must not, and really cannot, try to separate God into parts in order to try to understand who He is. It is much better to think of these phrases as a repetition. Therefore, we understand I Timothy 1:2 to mean that the message confirmed in the first part of this verse is once again confirmed by two witness; the Father and the Son.
The whole verse can be thought of as a double confirmation, one confirmation by means of the triplet "grace, mercy and peace," and another confirmation by means of doublet "God our Father" and "Jesus Christ our Lord." All of this is a stamp of divine approval that the salvation proclaimed by God's ministers is absolutely true and must be trusted.
c) I Timothy 1:7-9
These verses can be difficult to understand, and they must be examined with care. The problem is that some of the words can have more than one meaning. Therefore, be we must be sure to clearly understand the definition of a few important words, for they will shape our logic and determine our conclusions.
The word "law" in verse 7, which is the law that some people who desired to be teachers did not understand, must refer to the written Law of God. According to I Timothy 4:2,3, it is the law which the self-made teachers perverted as they instructed others, and which they did not obey themselves.
We should notice the connection between these false teachers and their personal desire to be teachers. In the context of the theme of the whole letter, we can say that since God alone appoints and equips leaders in His church, those who seek that position for themselves reveal their lack of commission and their lack of understanding of the gospel. A self-motivated ambition to be a teacher is dangerous, for unless God leads and prepares a man for that position by His grace, it can result in condemnation (Num. 12:2,9, James 3:1).
In verse 8, the word "know" refers to an intellectual knowledge rather than a knowledge acquired through experience, for that is how it is used in I Timothy 3:14,15 ("These things I write ... that thou mayest know"). This use of the word "know" supports the view that the word "law" refers to the written Law of God, the Law which could be read and understood by all men to a certain extent, and which some men desired to teach others.
Verses 8 and 9 are Paul's rebuttal to the false teachers who do not understand what they say about the Law. In the phrase "But we know that the law is good," Paul seems to present a point about which both he and the false teachers agree. They both have a respect for the law, Paul for the correct reason, false teachers for evil motivations and purposes.
The phrase "But we know that the law is good," in verse 8, can be understood to mean no one can fault the rigid and unchangeable law. The law is holy and pure, regardless of anybody's ability to conform to it's standards. If a person obeys the law perfectly he will experience the blessings that come from pleasing God. However, no man has ever successfully met the law's demands. Yet, the law is good no matter what a man does, in the sense that the law always requires man to do the good and right thing. If men disobey the law, the law is still good. This is similar to the view of the law in Romans 7:12. Its demands are right, and if a man uses the law to guide his behavior, if he obeys it perfectly, he will experience the blessings of God.
The words "if a man use it lawfully" is a conditional phrase, a description of something that is hypothetical or potential but which may or may not be true, or have any real counterpart. If we think of the word "law" as God's perfect standard that demands perfect obedience, then the phrase is saying that if a man uses the law of God lawfully, the way it was intended to be used, if he obeys it perfectly, he will find it to be good. That is, the results of his perfect obedience will be pleasing to God and will be a blessing for him. In that sense, the phrase is conditional to highlight the fact that no man has ever met the demands of the law in his own ability and strength. No man has ever used it lawfully, as its perfect demands insist.
The point of this train of thought is that the written law is intended for sinful men, to condemn them, as we read in Romans 3:20. The written law is only good for men who are already right before God. The written law was not given to men to help them become right through obedience to it. As Galatians 3:21 teaches, if obedience to a law could have been the way to be right with God, then that is the way God would have done it. Instead, the law was given to point out and seal men in their transgressions (Gal. 3:19).
The false teachers, mentioned in verse 7, do not understand this purpose of the law. According to I Timothy 4:1-3, they are teaching that a man must obey the law to be right with God. They do not realize that the only lawful use of the law is to obey it perfectly. Any slip and the result is condemnation, and since all men have sinned, their teaching is of no use to anyone.
The phrase "the law was not made for a righteous man," in verse 9, makes things a bit difficult. If we insist that the phrase "a righteous man" refers to a sinless man, a man who uses the law lawfully in the sense that he has never disobeyed the law and is right before God, then we can understand verse 9 to mean that the written law of God is made, not for a man who is perfect and right with God, but for a sinful man.
From this point of view, the message of verse 9 would be that the false teachers do not understand that if they teach that a man must obey certain rules to be right with God, then they have missed the application of the law, for the law is only good for men who have always used the law lawfully, of whom there are none in their audience. However, the law was intended to be applied to sinners, not for their good, but to condemn them. And anyone who teaches that a man must obey rules to be right with God, as they do, leaves his hearers in their sin without a covering before an angry God.
And yet this does not seem to be the message of verse 9. It is hard to see why verse 9 states that the law was not made for a man who is righteous, in that sense that he is sinless. After all, the law was made for all men, even perfect men such as Adam, and Jesus Himself. Therefore, let us look at verse 9 in a different way.
If we think that the words "righteous man" refer to a saved man, that is, a man who has obtained the righteousness of faith promised in the gospel call of the law (Rom. 3:21-31), the verse is easier to understand. Verse 9 then means that the law is not made for a man who is already saved.
With this view of the words "righteous man," we must modify our understanding of the previous phrases. For example, the words "But we know that the law is good" must then refer to the gospel of salvation as well as the command to obedience.
It is certainly appropriate to associate the word "good" to the salvation sense of the law. The gospel promise revealed in the law is the only promise that leads to spiritual good for man, no matter what other alternatives men may present. In fact, we can combine the law's two uses of condemnation and salvation together, in as much as the insistent and uncompromising demands of the law, which men utterly fail to obey, force men to abandon their own efforts and flee to the Author of that law for mercy. A sinner who finds refuge in the grace which is described in the law finds the greatest good the law can offer for his soul. This is the instruction of Galatians 3:22-24,29.
If we include the salvation promise in the word "law," then the lawful use of the law is to forsake any attempt to obey the law for righteousness sake and obey the gospel call instead, trusting completely upon the mercy of God as promised in His Word. It is true that the lawful use of the law is perfect obedience. That requirement is never abrogated. Nevertheless, the law recognizes that all men are sinners and cannot meet its demands. It is, in fact, for that very reason that the law insists upon its requirements in order to drive men to Jesus, who is their only hope to avoid the condemnation they deserve. In other words, trusting in the gospel call found in the law is another lawful use of the law. The result of all this is that the demands of the law are fulfilled in a believer's life, because only a saved person can obey the law from the heart as God intends him to (Rom. 6:17, 13:8). A saved man loves the law, the expression of the will of his Savior whom he loves, and uses it to guide his daily thoughts and steps.
Therefore we can understand the words "the law was not made for a righteous man" in verse 9 to mean that the law, in the sense that it insists upon perfect obedience to achieve or maintain righteousness, and in the sense that it is a gospel call, does not apply to a saved man. The reason is that a saved man does not have to obey the law to be right with God, nor does he have to be repeatedly be saved by the gospel if he has already been declared righteous by God.
From this point of view, I Timothy teaches that the false teachers missed the gospel call in the law. They insisted that a man must obey the law for righteousness. That approach to the law had a very bad result, condemnation. But the only good use of the law is to see in it one's need for the grace of God and to flee to Jesus for mercy. That is the only lawful use of the law that is good in the sense that the man who finds grace finds what is good for him. That is also the only lawful use of the law that results in good in the sense that the life of a man who finds grace is a display of the good God who works in his life. The evangelistic gospel call was made for sinners, implying that the false teachers did not understand that all men were sinners in need of God's grace.
The list of people in verses 9 and 10 is a list of the characteristics of unsaved people. That does not mean that Christians behave perfectly and are strangers to these sins. But Christians are not "lawless," in the sense that they continue to disobey with arrogant impunity. They humbly confess their sins and seek God's help to conform to His will. They try to conform to their lives to "sound doctrine" motivated from a heart made right by God. In contrast to that, verses 9 and 10 list the normal way of people who do not use the law of God lawfully, not only in their personal behavior, but also in their refusal to seek the goodness of God in the salvation offered in the law. This is a list of the way of unsaved sinners, who are still accountable to the Creator as His rebellious creatures, and who are still in need of salvation.
d) I Timothy 1:13: Paul, an undeserving minister
The words "because I did it ignorantly, in unbelief" do not imply that Paul was somehow not guilty of all the evil things he did before he was saved. This phrase does not mean Paul was innocent before he was saved because he did not realize what he was doing, and therefore his former sins were never laid to his account. He is not using special circumstances as an excuse, in the manner of some defense lawyers who use a sad tale of an unfortunate childhood background in their attempt to get their client off the hook.
The law of God does not excuse a person who has sinned ignorantly, that is, who does not know or fully understand it. This is the testimony of many passages, such as Leviticus 4:13, 5:2-4, and 5:17. Not only that, the Bible teaches that men are never really ignorant of the right thing to do, even if they were never introduced to the written law of God, for they have an inner knowledge to which they are accountable (Rom. 2:15).
Verse 13 explains that the phrase "I did it ignorantly" means "(I did it) in unbelief", that is, "I was ignorant of grace. I did not know the grace of God. I did it as an unsaved man." I Timothy 1:13 is a statement of fact, not an alibi or a rationalization. Unbelief never excuses a man, instead it condemns him (John 3:18). Paul is saying that he needed mercy. The joy is that he received mercy. When? When he was an unbeliever.
Paul is making the point that the ministry in which he worked was not a reward or a result of his own efforts. It was a consequence of the fact that God made him a new creature, then declared him faithful and finally put him into that ministry. The fact that he was allowed to serve God, whom he formerly hated and whose cause he desired to destroy, is a grace (I Tim. 1:14). It had to be abundant grace in light of his previously great unbelief. Truly, of all the sinners, he felt that he had reason to think that he was chief (I Tim. 1:15). Yet, Paul was blessed, not just for his own sake, but because God gave him mercy, that His own purposes might be accomplished and glorified (I Tim. 1:16,17). God wanted Paul to be His minister and saw to it that He was spiritually equipped to be one (I Cor. 15:9,10).
e) I Timothy 2:4-6: Jesus Christ, God's effective minister
The word "will" in I Timothy 2:4 is not a weak word denoting a wish or a desire which could be frustrated by the stubbornness of man, but rather it describes an intention that is backed by the wisdom and power of an almighty God. It is a sovereign and irresistibly effective will. What God wills always comes to pass (Rom. 9:17-19). That means all men whom God wills to be saved will be saved, no matter what. The will of God forms the plan of God, designed before creation, unchangeable and perfect. We can expect it to be fulfilled in all of its detail.
The Bible uses the word "all," found in I Timothy 2:4 and 2:6, in many different ways. For example, in I Timothy 2:1,2, it refers to all those in authority, without exception. In another example, the word "all" in I Corinthians 15:22 occurs twice with two different meanings. The first time it means all human beings who have ever lived. The second time it means all those who are saved, that is, all who are "in Christ," and is a smaller amount than the first "all." In a final example, the first "all" in Romans 8:32 is limited to mean all of the elect. From the context of Romans 8, we know that only those in Christ are in view. From the context of Romans 9, we learn that salvation is not a privilege of physical heritage. Salvation is not planned for every Israelite, but only for a remnant. Those whom God plans to save includes Gentiles throughout the world. The idea is that those people whom God causes to call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved no matter what their nationality (Rom. 10:13). Therefore, the first "all" in Romans 8:32 is equal to only a part of the human race, namely all the remnant who are given grace (Rom. 11:5), consisting of only God's elect, whether they be Jew or Gentile (Rom. 11:7). The idea is that the meaning of the word "all" must be decided by the context, the immediate and the extended context.
The context of I Timothy, as well as the rest of the Bible, limits our application of the word "all" in I Timothy 2:4-6 to only part of the human race. The word "all" must be thought of as "all kinds of men," that is, men of all kinds of national heritage, Jew as well as Gentile, rather than "all the people of the world." Paul's point in verse 5 is that there is one mediator for all kinds of men, for there is not one Jewish mediator and another mediator for the Gentiles. That is why Paul states that he was ordained and sent by God to the Gentiles (I Tim. 2:7).
Thus, I Timothy 2:4-6 is not saying that God really wants every person to be saved and sent His Son to pay for their sins, but somehow things are not working out the way He hoped they would. Rather, the idea is that all the people for whom Jesus gave himself a ransom, as God willed, will be saved. All the people for whom Jesus made a full payment for sin, as God carefully planned that He would, will surely escape hell. Therefore, the people in view in these verses cannot mean every human, because in that case, in contradiction to what the Bible teaches, every person would be saved without exception and the Bible clearly teaches that hell will not be empty.
What we have presented is an understanding of salvation that has historically been called the doctrine of "limited atonement." That is, Jesus' atonement is limited to the elect. A much better name for this doctrine would be "effectual atonement" or "effectual redemption." That is, the Bible teaches that Jesus' death has real value, not potential value. The power of the cross is effectual. Everyone for whom Christ died will be saved, just as God intended when He worked out His plan before the foundation of the world.
The basis for the doctrine of "limited" or "effectual atonement" is that the gospel of salvation is essentially a judicial action and decree. That is, the wages of sin is eternal death. There is a punishment that fits and which must be applied to the crime. If the payment has been paid, then the punishment cannot be required again. To say that Jesus "gave Himself a ransom for all," to say that Jesus paid for the sins of everyone, but that many will still go to hell means that those in hell are being punished for the sins for which Jesus died. God would then be asking payment for sins twice. In criminal law this is called "double jeopardy," and is not allowed even in corrupt human societies. When God makes the payment, it is effective. Therefore, we know that it is limited to removing the legal liability of only those who are saved.
The doctrine of limited atonement or effectual redemption is not a logical invention of theologians. We are compelled to think about the cross in that way because the Bible clearly teaches that Jesus died for His people only. Jesus Himself explains in John 10:11,15,26-28 that He died for those whom God had given Him, God's elect sheep. Additionally, verses such as Matthew 1:21, John 17:9, Acts 13:48, Ephesians 1:4-6, and II Timothy 1:9, among others, show that God has a redemptive interest for only those whom He has planned to save.
Most people in Christian churches today object to this idea of salvation. Therefore, it is essential that we correctly and clearly understand what the Bible teaches about Jesus' atonement for sin. To that end, we shall try to compare a few of the most common views of what Jesus accomplished on the cross. The best way to begin is to ask the question, That is, whom did God have in mind when He planned that Christ would sacrifice Himself and whose penalty, demanded by the Law, did He actually pay? How we answer that question reveals how we understand what happened when Jesus went to the cross and how we understand God's plan of salvation.
One answer to the question "for whom did Christ die?" that has sometimes been given is, "Christ died for everyone, and everyone will be saved." The idea is that the words "Who will have all men to be saved" (I Tim. 2:4) describe God's desire to save every man who ever lived, and that the words "Who gave himself a ransom for all" (I Tim. 2:6) describe what He did to make His intention a reality. If our method of Bible study is based upon the principle that we must take the Bible at face value, if we think that the correct interpretation is always the plain simple meaning of a passage as it stands by itself, and that we must not seek for any other meanings, then the answer given above would be valid. However, the above understanding of I Timothy 2:4-6 is terribly wrong. Anyone who takes the Bible seriously knows that it clearly teaches not everyone will be saved (Matt. 7:13,14, 25:41,46, II Thess. 1:8,9). Therefore, we shall set this view aside and not discuss it further.
There is another answer to the question "for whom did Christ die?" that is commonly held among Bible students today. In fact it is the most widely held view among those who call themselves Christians. That answer goes something like this, "Christ died for everyone, but only those who believe will be saved." The idea is that the penalty for the sins of every man has been paid and it is up to each person to accept or reject God's offer of forgiveness. From this point of view, the interpretation of I Timothy 2:2-4 is similar to the one above. That is, it is God's desire to save every person who ever lived and that Christ's death provided the possibility for every man's salvation.
We ought to add, those people who teach that Jesus paid for the sins of everyone nevertheless believe, quite properly, that hell will not be empty. But their view is that men will be cast into hell because they rejected Jesus' offer of salvation. It is true that to refuse to believe that Jesus is the Savior is disobedience, a sin, for which men must pay. However, it is not any more evil than any other sin (James 2:10). The Bible clearly teaches that men will be condemned, not just for one sin, but for all of the evil that they have done (Matt. 12:36, Rom. 2:16, Rev. 20:12,13). A man's refusal to obey simply reveals the fact that he is still a slave to his sinful nature and unable to take God at His word.
According to this second point of view of the cross, the difference between a Christian and a non-Christian is that a Christian has chosen to receive the offered gift of salvation and a non Christian has not. This notion is a necessary companion to the idea that all men have a free will to choose to do spiritual good and have the ability to answer God's gospel call or turn away from it. It is as if God, as a judge, has given every man a pardon for his crimes and it is up to each individual to accept or reject Christ's forgiveness. According to this view, as foolish as it may seem, a man could actually turn God down. Such a salvation plan does not ultimately depend upon God, but rests upon a man's decision.
Unfortunately, this commonly held view is a mistaken and very confusing understanding of what the Bible teaches about Christ's death and the salvation that it provides. In the first place, the notion that Christ's death only makes salvation possible, and that it is certain only if a man chooses to accept it, cannot be supported by Scripture. In our survey of Ephesians, we learned that men are dead in their sins. If salvation were only potential, awaiting the choice of men, no one would ever be saved, for sinners can do no spiritual good, such as accepting God's offer of salvation. Not only is the plan and provision of salvation all of God, so is the application of that salvation to men's lives. The whole program of salvation is all of God and nothing of men (John 1:13, Rom. 9:15,16).
God elects men to be saved before the foundation of the world, and does everything to see that they are saved. Men have no part in their salvation because they have neither the power nor the inclination to be saved. More importantly, a sacrifice that provides only potential salvation is an insult and a distortion of Jesus' death on the cross. How could it be that Christ endured the agony of hell for a man who would be cast into hell anyway? Such a view implies that much of the terrible suffering of Jesus was ineffective and worthless. It would mean that Jesus would have paid for sins pointlessly, in as much as hell would be populated by people for whose sins Jesus died, but who were not interested in His payment. What a valueless and tragic sacrifice!
A third answer to the question, "For whom did Christ die?" and the correct view of redemption, is that Jesus paid only for the sins of those whom God had elected before the foundation of the world and that all those, whose sins Jesus paid, will be saved, with no exception. This view, which we have called the doctrine of limited atonement, agrees with the first answer to the question, "For whom did Christ die?", in that God's intentions are fully satisfied. There are no loose ends in God's salvation program. However, unlike the first view, it insists that the Bible teaches God's salvation plan included only a part of the human race. The doctrine of limited atonement agrees with the second answer to the question in that it recognizes that people do turn away from God's salvation call. Nevertheless, the doctrine insists that the Bible teaches no one whom God intends to save, and whose sins have been paid, can effectively resist the work of God in their hearts. They will eventually be saved.
The correct view of Christ's death is that is was effective, fully paying for the sins of men. Therefore, it is limited to the payment for those who will be saved, all those chosen to be God's children. The cross does not just promise forgiveness. It provides forgiveness, whether the person for whom Christ died wants it or not. In fact, no one does want it. God must work in a man's heart to gratefully embrace the forgiveness which the cross makes possible.
It is important that we clearly understand the difference between these two views of what Christ did on the cross. Therefore, let us compare them by means of the following illustration.
The view that Christ died for the sins of everyone can be compared to the idea of a check. A blank check is just a piece of paper. If it is ripped up into little pieces or burned with a match into ashes, nothing of value is lost. All the money in the account is still safely in the bank. A check that is properly filled out also has no value in itself. Setting aside a forgery or insufficient funds, a filled out check can be used to pay any debts. However, such a check is really only a promise made by the one who fills it out to make his money in the bank available to the person whom he names on it. If that check is destroyed nothing is really lost and another check can be written to replace it. If a filled out check is refused and returned, no money has ever been transferred from one person to another. However, once the check has been properly endorsed, it suddenly has a lot of value and can be presented to a bank for payment.
Most people think of Jesus' death in this way, namely as having potential value for the payment of a person's sins and becoming a real payment for a person's sins only when he adds his assent, as he accepts the pardon offered by God. Those who hold this view believe that the atonement is like a check, that redemption is a valid promise by God, but only negotiable if a man accepts it. It is as if a sinner's signature is required to give the promise real value. It is as if Jesus' payment on the cross, which is intended to remove a sinner's liability before the law, only satisfies the demands which the law makes upon a sinner when he agrees to that payment.
The view that Jesus died only for the elect can be compared to the idea of cash. The money printed by the government has value independent of the attitude and actions of anyone. If we take a twenty dollar bill out of our wallet and burn it, we are twenty dollars poorer. We may insist that the paper and ink has no value, but that does not matter for the money is still worth its full value. Cash is a promise by the sovereign authority of the land to back up any payment of debts, made with that money, with its own full resources. The value of a twenty dollar bill offered to me does not require my endorsement nor does it depend upon my acceptance of it. Only if the money is lost or destroyed will its value be gone.
Those people who hold to the view of limited atonement insist that the Bible teaches Jesus' payment on the cross is like cash and not like a check. Jesus' sacrifice for sin is not potential payment. It does not just promise forgiveness for sin if someone accepts it, instead it provides full and complete payment for sin for all of those people whom God wills to save. The payment for sin at the cross is effective independent of whether any person believes or desires it. In fact, the people for whom Jesus died initially do not want the pardon for sin that His payment on the cross secures. Paul knew from personal experience that not until God works in a man's heart will he desire and seek the salvation God offers to all of His people. But when God finally saves a man, he is under the full and eternally effective cover of Jesus' payment. The cross has indestructible worth. It is an effective payment for sin, regardless of the actions of men.
People who reject the doctrine of limited atonement present verses in the Bible to support their view that Jesus died for everyone. There certainly are words and phrases in the Bible that seem to agree with them. For example, John 1:29, 3:16, Romans 8:32, II Corinthians 5:19 and I John 2:2 are used to support the view that Jesus died for everyone. Although we are not able in a survey to analyze all of these verses in detail, we can say that the word "world," which is shared by most of these verses, is often misunderstood to mean every person in the world. Just as the Bible does not use the word "all" to necessarily mean everybody, so the word "world" does not always mean everybody who lives in the world. The Bible can use the same word in different ways to mean different things.
Sometimes the word "world" can mean the physical universe (John 21:25). Sometimes it refers to part of the human race (John 15:19). When we look at the whole Bible, we understand that the word "world" in John 1:29, for example, means God's elect no matter where they may live in the world. The idea is that Jesus did not come as a savior for only the Jews, but He came to save men from every nation, tribe and tongue in the world. God's salvation plan is intended for all races. It is a worldwide gospel plan, fulfilled by the work of a Savior whose payment on the cross is effective for people of all nations of the world. We must never be trapped into adopting an idea based upon what some isolated verses seem to say on the surface. Only close and careful inspection of a verse together with a comparison of that verse with the rest of the Bible will reveal its intent. That must be our approach to understanding I Timothy 2:2-4 as well.
Perhaps someone may complain that the doctrine of limited atonement is a callous and uncaring view of those who will go to hell or that people who hold that view have a prejudicial attitude toward others. Certainly our hearts must go out to anyone who is living a breath away from death under the condemnation of a living God. Yet we cannot be wiser than God. The doctrine of limited atonement is an accurate view of man, a sinner hopelessly dead and unable to help himself in any way. The doctrine of limited atonement is a glorifying view of God, a mighty Creator who always accomplishes His perfect will.
Perhaps someone who is faced by what the Bible teaches about the doctrine of limited atonement may object by saying, "Who cares about such a complex and theological teaching. Does it have any practical use for my life?" The answer is, "Yes, very much." If salvation were partially a choice of man, if it were true that God did all He could do and the rest was up to men, then the way of salvation would be treacherous indeed. How could anyone be sure that he did what he needed to do or that he did enough to be sure he was right with God? In fact, if the burden of choice rested upon the shoulders of men, no one would ever be saved, for men are dead and unresponsive to God's call. They are rebellious, seeking to flee from God and suppress any knowledge of Him. Amazingly, we can thank God that we who were dead did not have to choose for God, that salvation does not depend upon us but totally upon His plan, purpose and action.
Christ's death does not merely provide a way out of sin and an escape from the wrath of God. It is the way out, and in Jesus our salvation is secure. Everyone for whom Jesus died will be saved. None will be lost. Salvation is God's work of grace, from start to finish. Oh, the wonder of such a loving God, who gives grace to undeserved sinners, redeemed and sustained by Him alone!
f) I Timothy 2:11-15
The word "learn" in verse 11 does not refer to general education but to what is taught in verse 7, that is, "the truth in Christ ... in faith and verity." The word "silence," heesukia, is not used much in the Bible (it is not the same word that is used in I Corinthians 14). It can mean to emit no sound, as in Acts 22:2. But a look at the use of similar forms of the word show that the emphasis of I Timothy 2:11 and 12 is not the same as the idea of "wordless." In a little different form the word is translated in I Peter 3:4 as "quiet," but linked to the word "meek." In another form it is used in Acts 11:18 ("held ... peace") and Acts 21:14 ("ceased") to refer, not to the fact people stop talking, but to the fact they stop presenting their own views and agree or submit to what the other person says. In fact, in I Timothy 2:11, the word "silence" is tied to the idea of subjection.
The words "to usurp authority over" in verse 12 do not imply that a woman may sometimes have authority over a man, but that she must not take authority that is given to another man. Rather, the words really could be rendered "self worker" and mean that a woman must not assume that she is independent of any man who rules in the church.
Therefore, verses 11 and 12 say more about the position of women in relationship to authority than it says about the amount of words that come out of their mouths. The message is a call for women to put aside self assertion in both appearance (verse 9) and in their work of the church (verses 11,12).
These verses are another example of the principle that on this side of eternity, on earth, God has arranged a hierarchy of authority based upon functional design for a purpose and not upon value or ability. Men are not better than women. They are different. Both are created in God's image. Both are the same before God as redeemed people. Yet God has a job to do on the earth before He returns and in His wisdom He has delegated and divided certain responsibilities according to sex. Therefore, God has designed men and women differently so that they can complete the different assignments He expects of them.
God, for His own purposes, places some people over others in the general social world (Daniel 2:21, Rom. 13:1, I Tim. 2:2) and we should not be surprised that He maintains order in His church by means of a similarly successful structure. The arrangement which reserves positions of authority for men rather than women not only best accomplishes God's purposes, it also turns out to be a benefit for His people as well as a witness to the unsaved of the world. Spiritual destruction has been promised and accompanies disobedience to I Timothy 2:12 (Isaiah 3:4,12).
Unfortunately, we have become so accustomed to the expanded roles of women in our secular society that we lose sight of the fact that there are limits to the responsibilities of men and women in the church. The twin sins of misplaced female ambition and cowardly male abrogation of leadership have turned people's thinking up side down so that churches willingly accommodate a woman's desire for a position of authority in the church. Therefore, some people object to these verses' clear limitation of women's role in the church. Let us briefly examine a few of the arguments.
Some argue that the words "I suffer" show that these verses are Paul's personal chauvinistic prejudice as a reflection of the male dominated Jewish and Roman societies, of which he was a product. However, that notion is a terrible abuse of the word of God. If we dismiss or try to reduce the authority of any words in the Bible which conflict with our personal philosophy or behavior, then we have no Bible at all, and are rebelling against God's will.
Other people cite Galatians 3:28 in order to try to explain away the simple meaning of these verses, either by turning them into a suggestion or defining the words so that they support the view that both men and women have equal authority and therefore the right to teach and hold offices in the church. However, they do not understand that although Galatians teaches men and women are the same judicially before God, in as much as Jesus paid for all of their sins and that they are all equally heirs of all that God has promised His children in heaven, nevertheless, Galatians does not teach sexually equality in the jobs which God has assigned to His people on earth.
Some may ask, "What if men are not willing to take charge or what if they handle things poorly? After all, throughout history women have served as teachers and missionaries when men were unavailable or unwilling to do the job." At this point, we must recognize that obedience to any of God's rules is founded upon trust. Do we really believe that God is capable of handling His own plan of evangelism as well as the affairs of those whom He has already saved? If men cannot be recruited to fill a teaching or leading job in the church, the answer is to pray and wait for Him to supply as He has promised and thinks best. It is His church and He will direct its construction and its administration according to His rules. God never violates His own Word so neither must we. We must not bend the rules to suit the circumstances or rewrite them to suit our personal preferences.
If we try to help God fulfill a good purpose by means of an action that is contrary to His will, we imitate the impatience and foolishness of Abraham and Sarah, and we cannot expect God to bless what we do. It is true that God can bless peoples' efforts, even when they are sinful (Gen. 50:20). Perhaps God will bring blessing when a well intentioned but misguided woman is in a position of authority over a man in a mission field or at a Bible college. However, do we justify actions by means of an evaluation of the ends? Were Joseph's brothers actions right in light of the fact that their treachery led to the promotion of Joseph to rulership in Egypt and their eventual salvation from the drought? By no means. God is gracious beyond our sin, but we can expect trouble anytime we disobey His wise rules. A proper answer to the question, "What if no man can be found to do the job?", is never "Substitute a woman for a role reserved for a man."
No attempt to alter the clear teaching of I Timothy 2:12 can be supported by Scripture. We must face the fact that men and women have been temporarily assigned different but complementary jobs in the church that exists on earth. The jobs as well as the qualifications for those are gifts of God (I Tim. 4:14), distributed as He sees fit. Therefore, according to His wisdom, men teach and women do not. Men rule and women do not. This is the way God has decided to work out His plan.
We cannot lengthen this discussion too much, but we might wonder, "How silent is 'silent?'" Certainly, we have shown that the word "silent" does not mean that women cannot utter anything at all. Women can sing, pray and recite in unison with the congregation in worship which is led by a man. Women can lead children or other women of different ages in a Bible study. The focus of the message of I Timothy 2 is upon women's conduct in relationship to men in matters of congregational instruction or leadership as well as spiritual matters in the home, which is the building block of the congregation.
I Timothy 2:13-15 gives us a little insight into the historical basis for the contrast in the roles between men and women. Verse 13 states that Adam was first formed, then Eve. Why is that important? Does authority depend upon who was made first? No. It is distributed as God sovereignly wills. However, something happened between the time that Adam was formed and the time Eve was given life, which helps us in some measure understand God's plan for the roles of men and women.
After Adam was created and before Eve was given life, God gave him His Law (Gen. 2:15-18). Adam had full responsibility as a perfect spiritually alert man to bring that Law to Eve who came after him. He seemed to have done his job adequately, for she knew enough to answer the serpent. Incidentally, we cannot fault Eve, as some teachers do, for saying "neither shall ye touch it." Her statement does not indicate that she was inadequately taught, nor that she was adding to the law she learned, as some teachers say she was. Her statement was good advice, that is, "don't even get close to that which might cause you to sin" (Gen. 39:12, Matt. 5:29,30).
However, Adam had a much greater responsibility. In the event that Eve disobeyed the Law, it was his job to love her enough to help her. Verse 14 tells the tragic story that the woman was deceived and not the man. This is not a compliment to the man but a reminder that Adam had an advantage that he should have used to help his wife. Verse 14 is really an indictment of Adam, as a male. The implication is that unlike Eve, Adam sinned undeceived, deliberately. As a perfect man, he should have recognized Eve's desperate situation and the peril that her offer to him contained. As a perfect man, he should have known what to do next. He should have fulfilled his responsibility to her and offered himself as a sacrifice to pay for her sin. Adam's sacrifice would not have been sufficient payment for Eve's sin, because he could not have completed the eternal death required as payment. But he should have loved her enough to offer himself as her substitute. Instead he forsook his advantage and self indulgently joined Eve in her sin. Adam selfishly and foolishly abandoned his chance to help, for his own sake as well, as for hers.
Self-sacrifice, which is the hallmark of a godly marriage, is a picture of Christ and His church. It was also the primary obligation Adam owed Eve. God wanted to maintain that picture of redeeming love, so He subsequently laid upon males the job of leadership among His redeemed people, men leading women and other men into the path that secures spiritual restoration with God. Men must teach the warning and promise of the gospel while women must listen in submissive silence and fulfill the role that is unique to them.
What role do women have that is not shared with men? According to I Timothy 2:15, it is the role of motherhood. Not just motherhood in general, but the specific role of bringing Jesus Christ into the world. The idea of verse 15 is not that there is spiritual merit in the fact that a woman gives birth to children, but that women are saved in the bearing of the Child, Jesus, for the verse could be rendered "the childbearing." Many teachers discount that view of verse 15, but their objections are unfounded. It is a biblically valid way of understanding the verse.
Woman's contribution to God's plan of salvation, in which no man could have a part, is to give birth to the line that brought Jesus to earth. Eve gave birth to Seth. His line can be traced to Mary, and Mary, with no male intervention at all, conceived and gave birth to Jesus, the Redeemer of men and women who believe. The woman's role in history dramatically shows the God-given distinction between the roles of men and women as well as the God-given difference in their design that enabled them to fulfill their separate assigned tasks.
g) I Timothy 3:1-13: The qualifications of a minister's official helpers
The words "This is a true saying" emphasize that Paul is writing the infallible word of God (Psalm 19:9, John 17:17). The message of chapter 3 is important to God and the criteria He lists in chapter 3 must be fulfilled in order to comply to His will. The authority of chapter 3 is highlighted again in verse 2 by means of the word "must." That is, the criteria in chapter 3 are not optional. Nor is it sufficient that a candidate score well on most of them. All the criteria must apply to all men who are considered as possible official office bearers in a church.
If we read the words "he desireth a good work" too casually, we might be inclined to think that it encourages all men to seek the office of bishop. However, this view of the phrase is in opposition to what we previously said that the Bible teaches in I Timothy, namely that God chooses only some men out of the congregation to be leaders and that it is not right for men, who have not been called of God, to seek to be a leader.
The word "good" is intended to modify the word "work" and is not meant to describe the desire of the man who seeks the office of bishop. That is, verse 1 does mean "it is good to desire the office of a bishop." Instead, the logic of verse one is similar to the statement "if a man goes into the kitchen, he will see a good meal." In other words, the meal is good. If a man goes into the kitchen he will see it. In the same way, we must think that the work of a bishop is good, period. It is not the effort of seeking the work of a bishop which is good. Nor is the work of a bishop good because a man is seeking it. Rather, the work of a bishop itself is good, independent of anybody's interest in it.
Comparing the word "good" with the phrase "there is none good but one, that is, God," in Matthew 19:17, leads us to understand that the work of a bishop is a work of God in the sense that God is in control of what is done by a bishop, because He is the one who does it, and in the sense that the work of a bishop promotes His purposes and His glory. Therefore, if a man happens to be seeking the office of bishop, he happens to be seeking a good thing because the office promotes God and His will.
Verse one is not meant to encourage all men to seek the office of bishop, but rather is a flat statement of the quality of that office. The chapter begins with a conditional sentence using the words "If a man ... ", which could also be rendered "In the case that ..." or "In the event that ..." The advice of I Timothy 3 does not apply to every man. In fact, I Timothy 3 can be considered a warning. For the office of bishop is a godly work and the man who walks before the Lord as a bishop is treading on holy ground. A man ought not to be deceived by his self-estimation or the flattery of others and so seek an office to which he is not called. I Timothy 3 is not only a guide to help the church select leaders who will minister to its needs, it is also a gracious danger sign that should discourage anyone from desiring the office who does not measure up to the criteria that it lists.
The offices in the church are not like public offices. The offices of the church ought not to appeal to everyman's sense of civic responsibility or social duty, so that the more candidates there are for an office the better. Nor should men campaign for the privilege of serving as an office bearer in the church. Both the office itself and the men assigned to fill it are creations of a sovereign God. Too often people in the church will admire a man's zeal to serve without considering the calling of God for that man, or the requirements of the office that the man covets. Unfortunately, their admiration many times leads to the wrong choice and to the installation of a man who hinders the work of God through His ministers.
Sadly, the criteria in I Timothy 3 are often ignored. Too many times, those who are in charge of a church select new leaders who will help them maintain their own political strength. Too many times new leaders are chosen who are safe, men who will not challenge any of the church's favorite doctrines nor the personal life of its members. Too many times new leaders are recruited because of their high reputation in the community or their financial success. It is not uncommon for rulers in a church to choose a man for a position of leadership who does not qualify based upon a comparison of I Timothy 3, and at the same time pass up another qualified man who does not suit them because he is too strict in his life and doctrine, or because he is a threat to their position in the congregation.
One of the most important criteria is that both the bishops and the deacons must be "blameless" (verses 2, 10). This means blameless before God. That is, they must be saved. This criteria may seem obvious in principle. However, in practice leaders of a church too often do not evaluate a candidates' walk with God in enough depth or over enough time to be sure that the man can be trusted with the spiritual affairs of the members of the congregation.
Another important criteria common to both the offices of bishop and deacon is that a man must be "the husband of one wife" (I Tim. 3:2,12). First of all, that means a man must be married, that is, he must be a husband. Secondly, the criteria means that the office bearers are men and not women. This accords with what we learn about the division in authority between men and women in I Timothy 2:12. In that regard, the King James Bible quite properly translates the word diakonon in Romans 16:1 as "servant." Phebe served the church as a person who ministered to others' needs. She was not highlighted as an official deacon of the early church.
In addition, a candidate is the husband of "one wife" and not "two or more wives." That is, an office bearer must be subject to all of the rules that govern marriage, including I Corinthians 7:11. He must not be divorced and remarried, for then he would have more than one wife. In fact, he must not be divorced at all, whether he is remarried or not, for then he would not be a man who "ruled his house well" (I Tim. 3:4,12). The reasons for this iron clad rule are many, not the least of which is the fact that a man who is divorced has lost his credibility as a counselor to others in the congregation who need help in their marriages.
Closely related to the criteria of marriage is the bishop's requirement, "having his children in subjection" (I Tim. 3:4), or in the case of a deacon, "ruling their children well" (I Tim. 3:12). To qualify for these offices, a man must have the experience of raising children in the fear and nurture of the Lord, showing that he has done that through the witness of his children who demonstrate Christian virtues. However, we must keep in mind that salvation is by grace, and it is possible that a godly father can have a rebellious child. In fact, no father can say that he has done such a good job that God ought to save all of his children. Even a godly father is a sinner saved by grace and does not deserve the blessing of seeing his children walk with the Lord. And yet God is gracious. Many times He will save children of Christian parents, and it is part of God's economy that leaders of the church be qualified, in part, by means of the experience of raising Christian children.
Since marriage and children are gracious gifts of God bestowed according to His will and are not the result of the decision of men, and since the requirements for the office of bishop and deacon include a proper relationship to a wife and children, it seems that God gives those blessings as part of His preparation of men for serving in office. That is, a man has to be given a wife and children to be a candidate for an office in the church. To put it in another way, if a man is not married and does not have children, then it means for that time in his life it is not God's will that he be an office bearer in a church.
We can see how marriage is a valuable training ground for an office bearer in the church. The experience of marriage seasons a man and teaches him abundant truths about personal relationships, which can guide him in his leadership of others. Also, a married man can more readily counsel women without giving the appearance of evil or encouraging any romantic interest in himself or the person whom he is counseling, provided that he arranges the counseling sessions so that will be the case.
In addition, it seems that God gives children to a man so that, among other things, he is able to deal with the issues of authority and service in a proper way in private before he is allowed to exercise them as an office bearer of the church in public. Patience, discipline, sacrificial care for those who cannot help themselves are a few of the attributes that are necessary in a man who is called upon to lead, attributes that a father learns as he deals with his children. Perhaps we can think of this in another way. If a man does not deal well with children, either because of experience or temperament, if he does not understand children and does not easily accommodate himself to their immaturity, he must never be considered as a candidate for any church office. Children are part of the church. They are God's gift to the parents as well as to the whole congregation, and must be led by men of the church who have been trained to be sensitive to their particular needs and abilities.
We can also see the valuable contribution of those who do not qualify for these offices. The Kingdom of God is a very busy place. There are many different ways to promote the spiritual will of God, all of them important and necessary. Ministering as an office bearer is only one way to bring the gospel and help others grow in the word of God. For example, people who do not have the responsibilities of a wife and children are more available to do some things than are married people. Single people can do work that might require frequent traveling, work in a remote place, or work that is time consuming or dangerous. The larger principle is that the blessings and gifts that people receive of God are indications of the role God intends for them, in order to fulfill in their service to Him and others.
Incidentally, we may not use the example of Paul's life to refute the view that a leader of the church must be married. Paul is not a proper example. He was special in many ways. He was not elected by the church, but appointed as an apostle directly by Jesus Christ Himself. His assignment as an apostle was unique and his position of authority cannot be compared to any job that a man would have today.
Another criteria is highlighted in the phrase "apt to teach." No doubt all men must be men of the word and able to give an answer for the hope that lies within them. But in an official capacity, the teaching leadership must come from the elders or bishops, even though they may see fit to delegate teaching assignments under their supervision. Incidentally the words "apt to teach" refer to the ability to teach the word of God, the Bible, and not the ability to teach the historical creeds of the church. A man, as an office bearer, is a true help to a minister when he spends lots of time in God's word, is willing to personally submit to what he finds in it and courageously promotes the obedience of every member in the congregation to it, despite individual or ecclesiastical opposition.
The final criteria we will note is that a bishop must be "not a novice" (I Tim. 3:6) or, as it is expressed in the case of a deacon, "let these also be first approved" (I Tim. 3:10). Essentially, it takes time for a man to develop the attributes listed in I Timothy 3 and it takes time for others to be convinced that those attributes are truly part of his character. Interestingly, the word "elder" in the Bible, meaning an aged person, is also used to refer to those who are ordained to an office in the church as a ruler (Acts 14:23, I Tim. 5:17, Titus 1:5, James 5:14). It is as if bishops are expected to be older men, if not old chronologically, then at least of considerable personal experience in dealing with life as a Christian.
From God's point of view, Moses was not ready to lead His people until he was 80 years old. Paul was schooled of God for at least 17 years after his conversion on the road to Damascus before he began his missionary work. And Timothy, although much younger than Paul, began his walk with God as a child, long before Paul knew him and long before he shared with Paul the trials and triumphs that came with being a missionary. Not only does it take time for a man to grow in the attributes appropriate for an office bearer, it takes time for a man to demonstrate that he is ready to assume the responsibility that attends that job. It must be clear to those who decide who will lead that each candidate chosen for leadership is neither immature nor a source of problems, but a source of wisdom and a strong example of faithfulness.
h) I Timothy 3:16: The minister's foundation
This verse puts the role of the minister in the proper perspective by reminding us that God Himself is the one true minister in the universe. Human ministers are merely the agents whom we see working among men in spiritual matters (I Tim. 4:6). It is appropriate for human ministers to seek to insure that God's people have proper leadership when they are not present (I Tim. 3:14,15, 4:13), and when they must pass their assignment on to others (I Tim. 4:15). However, we must keep in mind that it all begins with and is sustained by God. He alone knows what people need and alone has the wisdom to design, and power to provide, the necessary service to meet that need.
Any man who is a minister in the service of others obtains his commission, ability and direction from He who has served as a Savior. A man is a minister of Jesus Christ in the sense that he proclaims all that He has done and is doing to help men. Jesus Christ's human ministers, in contrast to false ministers who seek to bind men to obedience to rules (I Tim. 4:1-3), exhort and teach men to trust in God who works on their behalf (I Tim. 3:16).
The message of "godliness," that is, of what God has done as a minister to men, is disclosed only to those to whom God decides to reveal it. That is why it is called a "mystery." It is a "mystery" not because it is a secret solved by those who happen to discover the clues and are clever enough to figure it out, nor because it is information given to those who have passed some initiation requirement, but because it is beyond man's ability to understand. It is understood only if God reveals it to them.
According to this verse, the content of the "mystery" includes all the acts of God in history that fulfill His gospel promise. Essentially, the mystery is the gospel. The word "mystery" instead of the word "gospel" is used here to highlight the fact that God is in control of the ministry of the gospel. All people, ministers included, are totally dependent upon God to understand and obey the gospel. No man can understand the gospel until God gives him the spiritual insight necessary. All that a man says as a faithful minister of God comes from God. A true minister's heart is full of gratitude, first of all because he has been given the grace to see the wonder of the gospel, and secondly because he has been given the job of leading others in obedience to it. Therefore, the objective of all His ministers is to glorify their great God for all that He has done and all that He allows them to do on His behalf.
i) I Timothy 4:16
The words "take heed to thyself" mean that a man must first be sure that he is saved. That, together with the words "and to thy teaching" mean that a believer, especially a man who is in a role of a minister, must diligently care for his own personal walk with God. He must never forsake his own personal Bible study nor his personal time of prayer.
Once God gives His principle in the beginning of the verse, we would expect Him to go on to the application of that principle. However, He says "Now that I gave you the first important principle, let me tell you the second one, which is 'keep it up!'" In other words, the advice is so important, that it must be doubled to make an impression of its necessity.
This verse gives the surprising command that a minister's, and in fact every Christian's first responsibility is to himself. It is surprising in the sense that we have been taught that a believer must demonstrate sacrificial love to others. However, after careful thought we will realize that there is no real conflict between the command "take heed to thyself" and "love thy neighbor as thy self." The fact is that unless we take heed to ourselves first, we will not be able to serve others in need. The idea is similar to the picture of a man on a dock who seeks to save another man who is drowning in a lake. Unless, the man who sees the peril of the man in the water has learned how to swim, and unless, as he tries to rescue the victim, he avoids any actions that will put himself in physical jeopardy, he will not be able to help the person who is drowning.
This verse is a valuable warning, for there is a great temptation for those who work in the service of God's word to neglect their own personal relationship with God. This verse says that a minister must maintain intense watchfulness over his own Christian walk. God insists that he be vigilant. A minister must realize that his first and greatest responsibility is to the cultivation and nurture of his own spiritual life, in both accurate knowledge and faithful practice.
There are many ways that a minister's service can be a threat to his own spiritual welfare. For example, a minister may think that time spent in the Bible in preparation for instructing and leading others is an adequate substitute for a personal confrontation with God in His Word. Sometimes it can be. However, sometimes time spent in the Bible can become a routine part of his job as a leader in the church, without the personal application of God's word that he needs every day. As another example, a minister may feel so burdened for souls of men, or so daunted by the serious and immense task ahead, or so intimidated by the difficulties that oppose him that he exhausts himself in the ministry, forgetting to spend the time that he needs to refresh himself in personal study and prayer. As a final example, a minister may rely too much upon those times in the past in which he spent much time in the Bible in preparation for the ministry to which God called him, drawing upon what he learned years ago, and neglect to continue to study the Bible as diligently as he did before, no longer learning or growing in God's word.
We must remember that a man's ministry is only as strong as his relationship to God. Only when he resolves the spiritual problems in his life and is committed to God's leadership of his own life, will he have a successful ministry to others (Psalm 51:12,13).
j) I Timothy 5
The word "elder" is found four times in chapter five. It can refer in general to men of great chronological age (I Tim. 5:1), to men who hold offices in the church (I Tim. 5:17) and to women (I Tim. 5:2). One message of this chapter is that, although a minister is a man of leadership and authority, his position is created as a tool to serve the other members in the church and not to exalt himself. In this regard, a minister must realize that with age comes experience, and he is well advised to respect the wisdom and honor other members have accumulated as an "elder."
The word "widow" is used eight times in I Timothy, all in this chapter. The extra emphasis upon this segment of the congregation is appropriate for at least two reasons. One is the fact that they represent the most needy of the congregation because they often are without an ability or opportunity to provide for their own daily needs. That is often true today, but was especially true of societies in the past. Therefore, widows remind us that we are surrounded by people who are in need of service, and that should be one of the minister's concerns. The minister must direct those in the congregation who can help to provide for other members in need.
Additionally, the Bible frequently uses the word "widow" to refer to men and women upon whom God has pity and intends to save (Psalm 68:5, 146:9, Isa. 54:4). The idea is that God focuses upon their spiritual need, rather than their widowhood, and so intends to save them. They are like women who have no husband or protector, people for whom God will care in His great mercy. In this light, the chapter can be understood as a description of how a minister must imitate God's concern and care for the congregation, and a description of the kind of people that are in need, using the widows of the congregation as figures of all those to whom God extends His mercy.
k) I Timothy 5:23
A faithful minister is on the front line in all battles for the faith and conduct in the congregation. The spiritual struggles of each individual member of a minister's congregation, the conflicts between members of the congregation as well, as the assaults upon the congregation from without, are a war of attrition that could easily wear a man down and minimize his effectiveness to deal with the spiritual work at hand. It is a great temptation to seek the solace that comes from a small indulgence. Surely no one would deny a minister his well earned respite, even if it were a little wine. After all, isn't he just like anyone else who needs a little boost once in a while?
Many people in churches today hold the view that Christians may drink liquor in moderation and use the kind of excuse we have presented. They insist that it is their Christian liberty as people who are free from the law of God. They use a verse like I Timothy 5:23 to support their view. However, that is not what the Bible teaches anywhere, including in this verse.
Wine in I Timothy 5:23 is referred to as a medicine for Timothy's "stomach's sake and" his "often infirmities." There is no support for a view that the Bible allows Christians to use wine, an alcoholic beverage, as part of their social intercourse or as a way to relax from a long day of serving the Lord. The Bible, in fact, teaches just the opposite.
For one thing, the Bible commands in Proverbs 31:4-7 that kings and princes must not drink wine or strong drink. Comparing Bible verses with Bible verses forces us to apply that passage to believers (Rev. 1:6). Believers are kings in the sense that they are royal children of the King of Heaven. They are kings in the sense that they reign in life as we read in Romans 5:17. That is, through the power of Jesus Christ they are in control of their behavior (Rom. 6:12-14, 8:12-14). They are kings in the sense that they sit with Christ and represent Him as they bring the gospel (Matt. 16:19, 19:28, II Cor.5:20, Eph. 2:6, Rev. 11:4-7).
Proverbs 31 adds the insight that God has given intoxicating beverages to unsaved men as a blessing. Having no hope in this world or the next, unsaved men need something at the end of the day to soften the hard edge of life. A believer, however, does not need wine for support. His comfort is in the gospel and the strength of his Lord Jesus Christ. As God has ministered to him in the past, a believer can trust His care in the future (I Peter 5:7). Therefore, a minister can find in Christ the repose and vitality he needs to continue to minister in turn to others (II Cor. 4:16, 5:5). A minister, as all believers, can flee in prayer to the Lord and His word.
Some will argue that Jesus and his disciples drank wine so it must be alright for Christians today. However, no where does the Bible actually state that they drank wine. In fact, Jesus was a priest, a legitimate priest after the order of Melchizedek, anointed as a priest by a full blooded Levite. Since Jesus' job was to fulfill the complete will of God, He could never have drunk wine, inasmuch as priests were not allowed to do that (Lev. 10:9, Ezek. 44:21). That fact, incidentally, forbids Christians from drinking wine for they are also called priests (I Pet. 2:5).
We do not have time in this survey to complete a study of wine. However, we can add that the story of the wedding feast in John 2 does not teach Jesus was endorsing the social use of wine. With a little research it can be shown that the whole story, in all of its details, is a true historical account that is meant to teach us about the spiritual issues of the gospel of salvation. The wine, for example, is a picture of Jesus' blood. And all that Jesus does at the wedding reveals Him to be the Creator and Savior of men.
l) I Timothy 6:6-8
While these verses are a gospel command for all men, in the context of the theme we have highlighted, it is an important warning for a minister of God who serves in spiritual affairs, in the arena of this world with its physical attractions. A minister deals with spiritual issues in a material world. He is not a stranger to the world and realizes that God's physical creation is fascinating, filled with intricately designed wonders. The world is full of things that a man would want to enjoy and keep for himself. A minister who is part of the physical creation can easily be allured by its beauty and become more concerned with the things of this world than the invisible things of heaven that seem so far away to eyes that do not see by faith.
How does a minister maintain his proper focus and remember to reserve his energy for service to the Lord amid the milieu of attractions of this world, especially as he ministers to people in the market place, people who are greatly involved with this world? The counsel of this chapter is "godliness with contentment is great gain" (I Tim. 6:6).
The word "godliness" is an echo of I Timothy 4:16, "take heed to thyself and unto the doctrine." Filling his mind with thoughts of God and His things sharpens a minister's perspective upon reality and helps him adjust his priorities. With a consistent heavenly focus, he rejoices more in what God promises than in what the world offers. In the words of I Timothy 6:6, godliness is found "with contentment." That is, contentment accompanies godliness. A minister is totally satisfied with the gospel that he find in the Bible and has no interest in pursuing anything in this world.
We may also add that the Bible teaches contentment always follows godliness, so that a minister's lack of contentment with the gospel of salvation as presented the Bible is a clue that the things of this world rather than godliness are his focus. Not only that, contentment only follows godliness so that a minister's faithful behavior is a clear testimony to the truth of his doctrine as well as to the ability of God to keep His ministers faithful despite the attempts of the world to compromise and destroy his ministry.
A faithful minister knows that godliness leads to "great gain." I Timothy 6:6 tells us that the great gain in view is "godliness with contentment." But the message of the whole Bible is that the great gain is salvation, the greatest gain of all, salvation which leads to a life of godliness and a heart that is content with God's promises.
Therefore, according to I Timothy 6:6-8, when a man's heart has been captured by the Savior, he has a corresponding lack of love for the things of this world, and a ministry that is a blessing to men. To put it another way, a man's interest in the world results in an ungodly life of personal convenience, a restless disenchantment with God's will and a ministry that is a blessing to no one.
A minister, of all people, ought to know how much a man depends upon God for everything. In fact, his whole message is "Trust in God and not in yourselves or in the things of this world" (I Tim. 6:17). That is why the love of money, or rather the power, privilege and luxury that it can buy, is the root of all evil (I Tim. 6:10), including the greatest of all evils, upon which all other evils are based, the condemnation and judgment of God resulting in the many sorrows of hell. A minister is first of all a man of God who, by word and example, guides his charges out of spiritual dangers and into God's ways (I Tim. 6:11,12). He knows that is what Jesus, the greatest minister of all, did (I Tim. 6:13). He understands the impermanence and impotency of this world's riches and forsakes them, knowing that Jesus will return and end all worldly things (I Tim. 6:14). Therefore, he points others to the great God of heaven (I Tim. 6:15,16), calls them to use any earthly wealth God has graciously given them for the spiritual benefit of others (I Tim. 6:17,18), and encourages them to seek the heavenly wealth which is to come (I Tim. 6:19).
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