[Reading on slide 2-4]
1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope,
2 To Timothy my true son in the faith:
Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
3 As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer 4 or to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. Such things promote controversial speculations rather than advancing God’s work—which is by faith. 5 The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 6 Some have departed from these and have turned to meaningless talk. 7 They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.
• [SLIDE 5] Time, location
o V1 Letter written by Paul
o Circa 65 AD, Just after Ephesians, Colossians, Philippians, Philemon; Luke’s Gospel and Acts
o V2 Written to Timothy, but since the final greeting 6:21 is plural, probably to the church as a whole. So it is not private, but an official letter.
• The summary of the content
• 3:14-15 How people should conduct themselves in the church
Teaching, prayer, caring for members in need, leadership, how to relate to money, etc.
• We can learn how to have a healthy church!!
• Breakdown into 6 areas
2:1-15 Public worship
4:1-10 Moral instruction, and 4:11-5:2 instructions to leaders
5:3-6:2 Social responsibilities
6:3-21 Attitudes to wealth
• [SLIDE 6] The cast:
A well-educated, rich and powerful Jewish Rabbi
Met Christ, and became an apostle – a messenger of the gospel, esp to gentiles
V1 tells us this: an apostle by the command of God
• Note that God is called Saviour, where we would expect Christ Jesus
• This is a trinitarian understanding, and also that the Father is the ultimate source
• Christ is our hope
• His second coming, and our resurrection is our hope.
One of Paul’s converts
A close fellow-worker with Paul in his missionary work
Mentioned several times in Acts, Romans, I&II Corinthians, Philippians, Colossians, 1&2 Thess, Philemon, Hebrews, and of course 1&2 Timothy
=> in Acts, and in almost all of Paul’s letters
Very close to Paul, like a son.
• The church: Ephesus
3rd largest city in Asia Minor, est. pop about 170,000 people, important port city
Hosted the Temple of Artemis, one of 7 Wonders of the Ancient World
For us => Central hub for the regions churches and missionary work. Paul had spent 3 years there.
First mentioned in the list of 7 churches of Asia in Rev 1-2.
• [SLIDE 7] Occasion: We haven’t talked about why Paul wrote the letter yet.
V3 Leaders gone bad
Timothy sent by Paul to get church back on track
So what was Timothy like to be given such a task?
• Probably in his 30s <= young according to the culture
• Shy and timid
What did Timothy have going for him? (Philippians 2:19-22)
• Cared for people
• Dedicated to God’s interests, not his own
• Tested and faithful
• Trained and mentored on Paul’s missionary journeys
So this young timid man was given the great responsibility of fixing the church at Ephesus
• Let’s not despise the small and weak things, because God doesn’t!
• But let us be involved in ministry, and see where God will lead.
• It led Timothy to the Ephesian church to restore it and its leadership
II. [SLIDE7 continued] Leaders gone bad (target 10min)
• V4 What were these teachers teaching?
• False doctrines
• Useless details
• The result
• Speculation and controversy, endless without possibility of resolution
• God’s work not done
• What is wrong here?
• Attention given to the wrong things
• Attention not given to the right things
• [Slide 8] So what should we teach? A little aside on doctrine
• Core – basic beliefs, that we must agree on
• Convictions –are important for health, so we can argue and separate over
• Opinions – we must not separate over opinions
• Questions – things about which there is no clarity
• Things we must know and believe to be a Christian
• Things that if we know, we must not reject
• Things we may not agree to, but we should believe
• [SLIDE 9] Where should we pay our attention? The core => gospel!
• Remember Romans:
• The gospel: what God has done and promises to do
• Therefore, give yourself to God
• God has given you work to do
• V5 Do it with love
• Here we have:
• A sincere faith: trusting the gospel in a way that changes our thinking and behavior
• A pure heart: we give ourselves to God, and nurture a heart that wants only what God wants, and doesn’t have mixed motives
• A good conscience: acting in obedience
• V5 Growing in love is the goal.
• [Slide 10] What went wrong with the bad teachers?
• V6 And they departed from the above: a sincere faith, a good conscience, a pure heart, and love.
• V7 What do they think of themselves
• They want to be teachers of the law
• They are confident
• But they are talking about things they don’t understand.
• Their talk is meaningless
• How did this happen?
• 1:7 Maybe this is part of it: They wanted to be recognized as teachers, without understanding what they are teaching.
Understanding is not simply an intellectual exercise.
A sincere faith goes beyond just textbook knowledge
• Acts 20:30 They wanted a following more than the truth
A desire for status of their own, their own brand
So you invent your own teaching, to differentiate yourself.
Some false, some made up, some irrelevant
In 1 Cor 1:10-13, we read that the church had split into groups following their favorite teacher.
But Paul was not interested in building his own brand, but in promoting Christ.
And he praises Timothy for being the same way.
In some cases, a desire for money.
And remember, Jesus said you cannot love both God and money (Luke 16:13). Love of one drives out love of the other.
There are many who fall into this condition
• V6 The result is they turned away
• from true and useful teaching
• and its goal – love.
• And their listeners, like them, just wasted their time with meaningless talk, and didn’t grow spiritually. In fact, they ruin their faith.
III. The hope of the resurrection and us
• [SLIDE 11] So what were these false doctrines?
• Well we know this: 2 Tim 2:18 Heresy that the resurrection had already happened.
• Why is it a problem if there is no bodily resurrection ahead of us?
• Our resurrection marks the completion of our salvation.
• We are saved when we believe in Jesus, we are being saved – restored, and we will be saved when Jesus comes to give us new bodies and take us to himself.
• But if the resurrection has already happened, there is nothing ahead to hope for; it doesn’t get any better than this.
• As we read in 1 John 3:2-3, it is the hope of what lies ahead that gives us motivation to be holy like Jesus.
We love a singer’s song, and we try to sound like them.
Even though we know we will never be at that level, our attraction shapes our values and the way we live our lives.
But we will be like Jesus when we see him again.
• If we lose our hope of the resurrection that lies ahead, we lose our motivation to work towards being like Jesus.
• And inevitably, we will lose our faith and fall into immorality.
Because we have no hope.
IV. [SLIDE 12] What about us?
• We too can fall away, both as individuals and as a body
• When our faith is not sincere, when we do not grasp what God has done for us
• Our hearts are unsatisfied,
• We are tempted to satisfy our needs in other ways => our heart is no longer pure
• We distract ourselves with things that are meaningless or even wrong.
We neglect what we should be doing, because we are separated from God’s life and leadership
• We offend our consciences because we are in conflict inside
• And consequently, we lose our freedom to love, and instead fight and argue
• How can we make sure not to wander away, as individuals and as a church?
• Keep focused and intentional on the main thing
• Always remember the gospel
• Let it change our hearts, so that we want the right things. Struggle with God for it.
• Keep it real.
• Keep a clear conscience: do what we know we should do, stop what we shouldn’t
• Determine to love.
• Faith, a pure heart, and a good conscience will free us to do so.
• But how?
• It is the love of God that is at work within us.
• It is the love of God that sustains us
• It is the hope of God that motivates us
• So let us cling to the love of God shown in the gospel,
• Ask God to teach it to us, so we can believe it sincerely
• Trust God and give ourselves to him, and let him deal with our mixed motives and give us a pure heart
• Keep a good conscience
• Let God teach us how to love
• And let us encourage one another!
1. As a church
o What are ways that churches and their leaders go off track?
o Why do you think this happens?
o What are the consequences?
o What can we do as a church do to keep the right focus?
2. As individual believers
o What are ways that individual believers go off track?
o Why do you think this happens?
o What ways can we make sure that we are personally focusing on the main thing?
o How can we help each other stay on track?