1 Timothy seems like a pretty practical book. It’s a great primer for my situation, as I’m pursuing full time ministry. It’s full of easy to understand straight-up advice/commands to Timothy from his mentor Paul.
☆ 1:4-7 …nor devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculation rather than stewardship from God that is by faith. This seems pretty easy to understand: Paul is outlining that there are some things that are worth spending time on, and somethings that are not. Things that are not worth spending time on promote speculation; things that are unclear, and unimportant, and require us to use our imagination to think up most of the substance. Things that are worth spending time on are outlined as stewarship from God that is by faith. The Gospel is something we steward, it is by God, and we steward it in faith. Our faith is that we, an ill deserving people with unclean lips, carry a perfect message – the only way the Gospel and stay in tact is through faith in a powerful and sovereign God.
The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Certain persons by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion. Again, the concept is simple but profound. God has charged us with a mission revolving around love. We preach with a genuineness that is almost desperate as it flows through a heart purely focused on serving God. We don’t preach as lofty teachers but as honored messengers, humble in every way, but honored to carry the love/burden of the gospel. If ever we depart from this love we should probably just keep our mouths shut – no more preaching, because by swerving from the purity of preaching through love, we are destined to wander into vain discussion. I have done this enough times (many times) to know that this verse rings true in my life. So before preaching (which pretty much means before doing anything) I should:
- Be still and check my heart.
- What is my charge? To preach the Gospel.
- How is it aimed? In love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.
- What should I avoid? Wandering into vain discussion.
Desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions. This is a message for me. I do desire to be a teacher, therefore I must be careful not to teach about things I don’t know, or make confident assertions based on things I have no understanding on. NOTE TO SELF: It is un-biblical to preach on what I don’t have understanding on. Where does understanding come from? The Holy Spirit! Therefore – do not preach on what the Holy Spirit does not commission me to preach on. Seems simple enough… let’s see how that pans out.
☆ 1:8-11 Finally, a scripture that sheds some light on how I am supposed to respond to the law of old. First phrase; Now we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully. The law is good. Despite my poor understanding of good, I can take comfort in what I know to be true (the word) that the law is good. So how do I respond to this good law? Second phrase; Understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinner... The law is not laid down for the just, interesting. Paul goes on to explain in more detail who the law is laid down for. Some of the things he describes pertains to me (murderers, sexually immoral). But, there is by the power of the blood of Jesus, I have been justified. Does that put me on the side of the just? Does that mean that now that I have been justified, the law has been fulfilled in me and now my proper response is to just – worship? To stand in awe of the great work that has been done for me and lift my hands to the Holy God who rescued me while falling at his feet begging him to let me live in the glory and grace that he is, which has saved me. Is that the call for the Christian regarding the law?
☆ 1:12-13 This passage helps us answer a question that verse 9 asks, who are the just? Are the just even possible if all have sinned? Paul writes that even he is judged as faithful despite the great sins of his past – although he does include the fact that his ignorance/unbelief previous to becoming converted played apart in being considered faithful. The part about his ignorance/unbeleif goes way beyond my understanding. It does kind of seem like a condition to being considered faithful, and it also seems to be in conflict with other verses that indicate that everyone is without excuse – no-one is ignorant of God. I would be very thankful to receive clearer advice on this.
☆ 1:15b-16 Here Paul gives us a saying that is trustworthy and worthy of full acceptance: that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. Although Paul is referring to himself as the foremost sinner, I don’t think it is inappropriate, or detracts from the point if I take the same title on myself. There is no sin more obvious, disgusting, condemning and teribble than that of which I know of myself. Out of all the sinners in the world that I know – I am the foremost. But now, by the grace and power of God manifested through the work of Jesus Christ, my sin has been made into his glory. Therefore I’m encouraged by this verse because (as Paul intended it) it identifies that Christ does not avoid the most terrible of sinners, but rather pursues them because it is their shortcoming that ends up becoming his glory.
☆ 1:18-19 I’m going to break this into two distinguished but interdependent sections.
VERSE 18: “This charge I entrust to you Timothy“, well that’s a great way to get my attention! I consider Timothy to be a great role model for me from the word. So what ever Paul charges to him – so I charge it to myself. As I read on, I’m looking for the charge… and not really seeing any in this chapter (seeing heaps in the next chapter though). To help explain verse 19, I’m asking the question, does Paul urge what he has just written as a charge to Timothy, or what he is about to say? What he is about to say is obviously an instruction, but he has just said is something of his own experience and emotion. If he is charging to Timothy a matter of his own experience and emotion then he is asking Timothy to take a burden upon himself and share in his emotion. If he is charging what he is about to say than he is overstating the urgency of the instruction. The reason why I’m wondering about it is because it makes a big difference to verse 19. I would say that he is probably implying the preceding statement as a charge because he introduces the statement as “the saying is trustworthy and worthy of full acceptance” and because the succeeding statement is obviously to be received as a charge because of it’s instructional outlay.
What exactly is the preceding statement? That Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life (worth writing again).
VERSE 19: By rejecting this, some have made a shipwreck of their faith… whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme. Scary stuff!
So how do we avoid shipwrecking our faith? If Paul is refering to his preceding statement, then we can avoid shipwrecking our faith by living inside the humility displayed in ☆ 1:15b-16. Understanding the terrible depth of our sin and how low wretched we are because of it, while being bold and having confidence because Christ has loved us despite our sin and even taken our sin upon himself so that we might be free from it, and so that he would be glorified. Living each day with this understanding overlying every moment – we can avoid shipwrecking our faith.
If Paul is refering to the succeding statements, which are instructional, then we simply – follow the instructions. At this point I think it’s quite obvious that Pauls charge is to live out the passion and mentality of the trustworthy saying.
☆ 2:1-3 Again Paul is calling me to a higher standard in prayer. Usually I am having enough difficulty praying for myself, my family and my friends – but here he is asking that I pray for all people. I have to confess that my prayer life hasn’t been great lately. Sometimes it is because I am sleepy, often because I am very busy. I do love to pray, but I often forget and in the moment forget what to say. Thank you Father for your great mercy over me! I’m sorry that I haven’t been devoted in my prayer. Please lend me your strength that I might rise above selfishness and open my mouth to the Glory of God, with every request of selfish needs and even for strangers. On my own, my effort is dead but with your power there is life.
☆2:3-4 “Who desires that all people to be saved“. This is a difficult one for me. If God desires all people to be saved – then why aren’t all people getting saved? What is the resistance? God desired me to be saved didn’t he? And now I am, so how come that logic doesn’t apply to everyone. What is stopping all people from getting saved?
☆ 2:8 This verse almost makes me laugh. Firstly because it is about lifting hands (which is sometimes disputed at church), secondly it talks about doing it without quarreling. This verse totally disarms anything that anyone has to say against lifting hands in worship in church.
1) Paul says that it is something that he desires men to do in every place.
2) Then he says ‘stop arguing about it‘.
I don’t think his comment without quarreling is really relating directly to the lifting of holy hands, but rather, I want you to lift you hands in the glory of God with thanks that he has made you holy, don’t argue, you’ve been made holy, replace your quarrels with rejoicing, for you know the glory of God and he has loved all of you!.
☆ 2:9-10 Well here is a sensitive verse (isn’t weird how a verse becomes sensitive when it immediately addresses a woman). I actually think this verse is quite clear, so I will paraphrase. Women, you spend so much time in front of the mirror before you come to church, making sure you look good – up to par with the standard of fashion at your fellowship. How much have you wasted on the outside of the cup when the inside is in dire need. You spend time making sure the outside is perfect, but you all too easily neglect the inside. So, if it is such a problem for you, I think you should just wear plain clothes, and put your focus back on what counts, good works!
☆ 2:11-14 Now it gets really sensitive. [Note to self: my reaction (being a cringe) should be a warning to myself; I have prejudice toward this verse. And I can sense my own mind trying to water it down, before I even understand it. Because I anticipate that it will be a hard verse to actually live up to, I automatically give myself permission to make allowances before I truly understand. This is a dangerous way to read scripture. So, now that I’m aware of my prejudice, I’m going to have to position my mind, to ignore prejudice, and pursue truth.]
The first verse is obviously clear. Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. Five key words. 1) Let, letting is different from making, a woman must choose to obedient on her own terms. 2) Woman, we are talking about women here, not children, teenagers, weak men or anyone else. 3) Learn, this is great news. Women are now allowed to learn with the men – apparently this was counter cultural at the time. 4) Quietly, they are not to speak and create distractions while in church. 5) Submissiveness, you are learning so that you might obey the things you learn, not so that you will argue it. To summarize in paraphrase ‘Okay, I want you to start allowing your wives and daughters into church because there are valuable things to be learned there. However ladies, please don’t ruin the opportunity by creating a big distraction while you are there. You are there to learn not to take over.
The next verse cuts a little deeper. I do not permit a woman. Paul is addressing women. Women, Paul is addressing you in the power of the Holy Spirit – you should listen to him! What does he say? I do not permit a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man. Paul is laying down a rule for the foundation of the church in and by the power of the Holy Spirit. This isn’t really something we can dispute, or roll our eyes over. We have to remember that this is not just a chauvinistic pastor on a power trip – it’s the Apostle Paul, and further more, the Holy Spirit inspiring Holy Scripture. I’m making such a point of inerrancy because this verse (due to its definitive and somewhat offensive matter) is prone to be overlooked as ‘intolerant’ which is a un-helpful way to read the bible. If some of scripture is inspired – all of it is inspired – by a Holy and un-mistaking God. So what is Paul saying? Let me paraphrase again. ‘I do not permit a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man.’ I believe he is being very clear with his message for the sake of it not being twisted into something similar, but different.
If any explanation has to be given for verse 12 (other than verse 13 and 14), I would say this; because it is the Holy Spirit laying down this law, and it is in the context of How to cultivate a functional church body, He probably has a much deeper reason than just for appealing to the culture in which it was written. If I am to make a guess I would say that God could see a much worse outcome if allowing women to teach over men over the course of history so he dealt with the issue, quickly and sharply.
Verses 13 and 14 talk about the forming of Adam and Eve. It is reminding us that God did create us as man and female, equal but with distinguished roles (just like the trinity) and we are to honour those roles. He did not create us as just human beings and give us the option to choose our sex. The sex we are plays apart in the plan God has for us.
☆ 3:1-13 Pretty basic outline of what an elder, and deacon should look like. Only noticed one curious comment; the elder must be the husband of one wife. Does that mean elders have to be (or have been) married?
☆ 3:16 The Mystery Of Godliness. “Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.“. “There is nothing more excellent than this truth” -Geneva Study Bible
☆ 4:1 What a terrible thing. It’s horrifying to think about it, and even more so to think that it could happen to me. “O father, please keep me. My soul mourns this truth and I want to cry. I love you and I hate this flesh. Argh! Why is this allowed? O Lord, my mind and heart are weak and I want to see your face. I want to die and be with you in Glory. But you’ve quietened my mind, you give me rest with a whisper. Joy flows in like a gentle stream. It washes over my anguish and clears my vision. The eyes in my heart stay puffy from crying while I rest, I will not stop crying in this house. You point at the people around me with tears in their eyes for whom their is no hope. You show me how to love and say to me “Go- just like I am with you & I bear your pain, now you go to them and bear theirs so that they might see me.”
Yes Father. To obey you is the sweetest taste and like a mysterious glow that keeps me perfectly warm. I confess, I hate to walk towards obedience, but I love to walk in it. Please slay me, break my body and tear every limb. Grind me down to a powder and leave nothing alive. Leave nothing of my flesh to protect from you. I am scared of you Holy God, so do away with my pride. I write this soberly because I am scared that you will do it. But I am even more scared that you won’t. I am afraid of the truth, but I am noxious and sleepless without it. Take this fear away again. I am so ashamed of it. I feel my flesh dry, crack and peel as I scream out, stretching for your hand. I hope my flesh falls off and lies dead on the ground. I hope my eyes fall out and my mouth dies up and splits so that I loose all my senses. I want eyes the eyes of Angels. I want to bask in your glory every second. I want to taste only your joy and hear only your hope.
Oh God, I can’t figure out whether this is a metaphor or not. I just hang my head and lift my words, a fool and a pity. Make me like your Son Jesus. It is his blood that covers me – why should I grieve over the flesh any longer. Why should I look into myself and despair? Silly me. I wear the crown of righteousness – why do I mourn?
With this crown, that I wear undeservingly Lord, please carry me. My head is not strong enough to bear its weight. Please Father I want to hold my head as a son of God.
A couple of hours left before tomorrow begins. Your mercy is forever, and your justice is fulfilled through your son. Now make me like the cicada in the summer, I want to really live and bask in you’re glory!