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Bible Studies in 1 Timothy: Living out the Gospel

Study One: 1 Timothy 1:1-2

… if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth ” (1 Timothy 3:14-15). Paul’s colleague, Timothy, was helping the church in Ephesus get on its feet. Paul hoped to be there soon, but forwarded some instructions in the meantime. His letter is our “1 Timothy” - an inspired epistle that always was intended to be read by others, and from which we may learn how to conduct ourselves in God’s household. 1 Timothy tells us how the church of the living God is to uphold the truth of the only God (1 Timothy 1:17) - that is, how we are to live out the Gospel.

Before you lift and hold anything, you need to be sure of your footing. The Christian has solid ground on which to stand, and the opening verses in 1 Timothy 1 remind us of the firmness of the salvation believers enjoy. Paul’s greeting to Timothy sets the tone for the letter: here is truth declared with authority, which may be upheld with confidence. Here is the sure ground on which to live out the Gospel.

Salvation is from God . The first words of the letter set out Paul’s credentials. He is “ an apostle … by the command of God our Saviour.” We talk of someone deciding to become a Christian - and everyone is called to repent and believe the Good News - but when we come to true faith we recognise that it is the gift of God. Salvation is God’s work. God the Father wills salvation. He sent His Son into the world. God the Son works salvation. He is the believer’s hope (v.1) because He took our humanity, lived and died for us and rose from the dead. The Bible uses the word hope for something that is sure, expected and awaited, that’s just not here yet. All who trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour have the hope of eternal life in Him.

Salvation is through the Gospel . Paul was “an apostle of Christ Jesus.” He was commissioned by the risen Lord to be a messenger for the risen Lord to bring the message about the risen Lord. That message - “ Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15) - is the Gospel that brings salvation to all who believe. Timothy had heard and believed the Gospel. He was, to Paul, a “true son in the faith ” (v.2), since “faith comes by hearing the message” (Romans 10:17). There were some in Ephesus who were trying to make salvation more complicated (see 1:3-4, 6:3-5), but we can be confident that we receive salvation from God simply through believing the Gospel of Christ Jesus our Lord.

Salvation is by Grace . The salvation that we receive through faith in Jesus Christ is described in three words in 1 Timothy 1:2. It is “grace, mercy and peace.” Grace is the welcome, acceptance and favour that God shows to the believer because of Jesus. Mercy is not getting what we deserve; it is the same forgiveness as was shown to Paul, the worst of sinners (1 Timothy 1:16). The Bible uses the word “peace” for the fullness of God’s blessing, given to those who are justified by faith (Romans 5:1).

When we grasp these truths about salvation, we may be sure of our ground. Knowing that we receive salvation from God, through the Gospel to abide in His Grace means we can live out that Gospel, and confidently hold out God’s offer of salvation to all.

Study Two: 1 Timothy 1:3-4

Timothy was helping Christians in Ephesus to understand how they should conduct themselves since they had come to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour. In part this had to do with what they should do when they gathered together; in part it had to do with how they lived at home, in work and in society. Some verses in Paul’s letter address Timothy specifically; all of his inspired epistle teaches us how the Church is to be the pillar and foundation of the truth (3:15) - or, how to live out the Gospel.

The first issue Paul raised in his letter was what had to stop! “ Command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer” (v.3). Paul told Timothy to exercise church discipline (most likely in conjunction with others). There were some men who were to be confronted and told to either shape up or ship out. This mattered, because the Church must be founded on, and stand by, faith (v.4). See what these verses teach:

Only one work . A key phrase in v.4 is translated differently in our several English versions. It is rendered “godly edifying” (KJV), “ stewardship from God” (ESV) and “God’s work” (NIV). The phrase literally is God’s economy; it refers to God’s administration of His plan of salvation in His world through His Gospel. The point not to be missed here is that God is behind this work. Timothy was told to confront teachers who were provoking controversies or questions (v.4). They gave rise to a lot of activity, with plenty of debate and lots of hot air. At the end of the day, however, no one was any the wiser and no lasting work was accomplished by them. It is only God’s work that will last. God works to bring people to believe in Jesus. He then works to lead people to be like Jesus in knowledge, righteousness and holiness. This is the real work that stands in eternity; nothing else will do.

Only one Word . Timothy was to command the would-be teachers not to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies (v.4). They were getting ideas from legendary stories about the Bible’s heroes of faith (v.6-7) and veering away from what the Bible really says, and from the Gospel it contains. They began to teach false doctrines (v.3); they were no longer teaching people to rely on Christ alone by grace alone through faith alone. The problem that emerged in Ephesus continues to be an issue. One example of this is how the church in Western Europe, under the leadership of successive bishops in Rome, came to rely on traditions rather than Scripture. The Catholic Church shifted far from its Biblical foundations until Martin Luther etc. called on it to reform. We are to test everything against God’s Word.

Only one way . Timothy had to confront the men who were teaching false doctrines because they were distracting people from trusting in Christ. Their ideas led some to try to link their ancestry to the genealogies in the book of Genesis (and so trust to who they were rather than to the grace of God). Others were led to trust in what an Old Testament patriarch was supposed to have seen or done. But God’s work is “by faith” (v.4) in the Lord Jesus Christ. Faith is the only way that God’s Church is built. God’s Church stands strong only when Christ and His cross are central.

Timothy had to charge others not to follow false teaching. We need to heed this charge ourselves, and stand by faith, so that we may live out the Gospel.

Study Three: 1 Timothy 1:5-7

Timothy was helping Christians in Ephesus to live their lives in line with their faith. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Paul wrote a letter to encourage Timothy to set a personal example and to command and teach others what they should do (1 Timothy 4:11-12). The apostle knew that some had “ wandered away” (v.6). He told Timothy to command (v.3) them to repent. Timothy was to call them back to faith in the Gospel, and “ the goal of this command is love” (v.5). In other words, believing in and living out the Gospel means living a life of love for God and one’s neighbour.

1 Timothy 1:5 shows why living out the Gospel means love for God and neighbour. It names three grounds for this love. Each has to do with the Gospel’s effect in a believer’s experience. They relate to the inward, outward and upward aspects of life respectively.

A pure heart . A pure heart is a heart wholly devoted to God. David prayed, “ Create in me a pure heart, O God” when he realised his sin (Psalm 51:10). The Lord covenanted to cleanse and give a new heart to His people (Ezekiel 36:24-28). This is the spiritual transformation that takes place when someone is born again and comes to faith in Jesus (see John 3:5, Acts 15:9). When God purifies our hearts, we love Him who first loved us.

A good conscience . To understand what a good conscience is, think of its opposite! A bad conscience is when we know that we have done something we shouldn’t have done, or that we haven’t done what we ought. We deal with a bad conscience by admitting what we’ve done wrong, making amends where we can (see Matthew 5:23-24) and finding forgiveness. A conscience truly may be at peace with God, only when it has the assurance of sins pardoned through the death of Christ. And the one who has been forgiven much loves much (Luke 7:47).

A sincere faith . Unfeigned faith means truly trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation. You can tell if faith is genuine or not by the following tests:  Is there an honest acknowledgement of sin and guilt? ‚ Is there a recognition that only Christ can save? ƒ Is there a real desire to change - that is, to turn away from sinning and to live to please God? Where there is sincere faith, there is a love for God and the things of God. There is then also a desire for others to know Christ as Saviour too.

The Lord Jesus Christ, freely offered in the Gospel, works these changes in believers. Believing the Gospel shows an inward transformation, leads to a change of behaviour and equates to a new relationship with the risen Lord. In other words, believing the Gospel means new life in Christ - a life filled with love for God and your neighbour. Those who had wandered away (v.6) probably would have insisted that they too loved God and their neighbours. They wanted to teach the Bible to others (v.7) but, because they had given up on trusting (and proclaiming) Christ as Saviour, they really had nothing but meaningless talk (v.6) to say. The Church is to be the pillar and foundation of the truth (3:15), but it only can fulfill its calling when it holds to, believes in and lives out the Gospel - and that will be seen in its love!

Study Four: 1 Timothy 1:8-11

Timothy was helping Christians in Ephesus to live their lives in line with their faith. We might imagine these new believers asking for a copy of the rules they were now to follow - but this is what Paul, the inspired apostle, is led to say they should avoid! Christians are not to ignore the Old Testament Law with its Ten Commandments, but they are not to misuse it either. The Law is good if one uses it properly (v.8).

The Law’s Use . The five Books of the Law (Genesis to Deuteronomy) contain the rules God laid down for the Children of Israel. Jesus fulfilled the Law and much of it no longer applies, but the Law’s regulations are still the Lord’s revelation. The OT Law shows us  God, and “what matters to Him”; ‚ God’s will for humankind, and what He will do in the lives of those He redeems; and ƒ our sin and rebellion, and how we are ready to do what is contrary to the Word of God. The Law condemns sin and commends the Saviour; but it cannot save! This was the point at issue in Ephesus (and maybe not just there). Some people were devoting themselves to endless genealogies (v.4), looking to the Law for a way to live to please God. Paul told Timothy to rebuke them, and reminded him how the Law is to be used properly.

The Law’s Exposure . We use the Law properly when we realise it is for sinners (v.9). The Law speaks about what we are doing, or thinking of doing, and says, “Thou shalt not.” It examines our lives and exposes whatever is contrary to the sound doctrine that conforms to the glorious gospel (v.10-11). The Law reveals our hearts. As he wrote to Timothy, Paul was led to think through the Ten Commandments and to highlight the “sort of people” the commandments address. Vs.9-10 name attitudes and actions that are not righteous (right with God), and thus not living out the Gospel. The point of the list is to demonstrate how the Law shows up what we truly are, and what we really do when we are left to ourselves.

The Law’s Answer . By studying the Law (and all the Scriptures) then, we learn of our sinfulness. We also discover our helplessness (Romans 7:18); with the best will in the world, we cannot change the sinfulness of our hearts. So what hope is there for living out the Gospel? The Law’s answer is found in the Gospel itself. It is the “ glorious gospel of the blessed God, which He entrusted to me” (v.11). This is the good news of Jesus that has been given to be shared, received and believed. It is the good news of the glory of God, seen in His mercy, patience and grace (see v.14, 16) in Christ as He comes in quickening power into the life of a sinner and transforms it. And it is the gospel of the blessed God. Here, the word “blessed” does not mean “praised” but speaks of the happiness of His being. It is God’s good pleasure to save!

Living a life pleasing to God, then, is not something that we can do by ourselves. There is a way to live that is in keeping with all that the Gospel teaches, but it goes far deeper than conforming to a code of ethics. It involves a pure heart, a good conscience and a sincere faith (v.5) that lead to love. To live out the Gospel, God calls us not to follow rules in our own strength, but consciously and continuously to depend on the grace and power of the risen Lord Jesus Christ.

Study Five: 1 Timothy 1:12-14

Timothy was helping Christians in Ephesus to live their lives in line with their faith. Paul was inspired to send Timothy a letter to encourage and instruct both him and the Church. The letter’s purpose is summed up 3:15: “ you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in … the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth .” In other words, this epistle teaches how the Church is to display God’s truth. It tells us how to live out the Gospel.

Paul’s first instruction to Timothy was to “ command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer” (1:3). Apparently, some members of the Church were teaching a way to live to please God that had more to do with “ myths and endless genealogies” than with the Gospel (1:4). Paul knew only too well, however, that it is impossible to be right with God without faith in Jesus Christ. He had tried. In 1:12-14, the man once known as Saul of Tarsus recounts his own experience to make the point.

What he had been . Paul could look back to a time when he seemed faultless with regard to legalistic righteousness (Philippians 3:6). Although he couldn’t see it then, he now saw what he had been when he tried to follow God’s Law in his own strength. He had been a blasphemer, a persecutor and a violent man (v.13). He was actually far from the Lord in word, deed and at heart. He could not see that he needed Jesus; he acted in ignorance and unbelief (v.13). What was true of Paul is true of all of us. By nature we are dead intransgressions (Ephesians 2:5), unable to accept the things that come from the Spirit of God (1 Corinthians 2:14). As Saul of Tarsus met the Lord Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:3-5), so each person needs to meet Christ as He is made known in the Gospel.

What he had received . When the Lord Jesus made Himself known to Saul, He transformed the zealous Pharisee in a way that devotion to God’s Law never could. Paul describes how he received strength (v.12). Made alive spiritually, his blinded eyes were opened, and he was enabled to be faithful. He was, in fact, shown mercy (v.13); Paul was led to see his sin, but not left to what his sins deserved. Instead, “ the grace of our Lord was poured out abundantly” on him (v.14). Paul received God’s favour, won through the sacrificial death of Christ and manifested in the spiritual gifts of faith (instead of unbelief) and love (to transform his violent heart). Everyone who trusts in the Lord has received this grace, with its transformative power. Living out the Gospel, then, is nothing other than living in line with what we are in Christ Jesus.

What he had become . Saul of Tarsus was changed completely when he met the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul reminded Timothy of this so that the Christians in Ephesus would understand that only the Gospel can change a life so radically. For Saul, it meant becoming a believer. God’s work is by faith (v.5). For the apostle, it also meant being given a ministry (v.12). Each Christian is called to service (Romans 12:1; Ephesians 2:10). And, Paul became thankful (v.12). Having received God’s grace in Jesus Christ, he gratefully grasped that he had been equipped for faithfulness. So it is to be for each believer. We look to our Lord in faith, and by His grace live the life He enables us to live. In Him (and only in Him), we live out the Gospel.

Study Six: 1 Timothy 1:15-16

The saying, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” is familiar to us and still found displayed in places. 1 Timothy 1:15 tells us that this is a faithful saying - a true summary of the Gospel. It deserves full acceptance: it is not a trivial fact, but a truth to factor into our understanding of life and to treasure as a chief point of faith.

Paul quoted this saying in the letter he sent to instruct and encourage Timothy. A few Christians in Ephesus had devoted themselves to “ myths and endless genealogies” (1:4) as their guide for living, so Paul reminded Timothy that only the glorious Gospel of the blessed God (1:11) leads us to live to please the Lord. Paul referred to his own experience as a case in point: he had to be turned from his fixation on what he must do for God to faith in what God had done for him! But “ Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners,” so see what the conversion of Saul of Tarsus shows.

It shows patience . Christ Jesus displayed His unlimited patience in His dealings with Paul (1:14). Saul of Tarsus had been most sincere in his religion, unsurpassed in knowledge, zeal and practice, but still was the worst of sinners! He thought he was pleasing God when really the Lord was being patient with him. Paul’s experience is the text book example. Many people genuinely can say, “I’m not a bad person.” Some are known to be upright, church-going, and even perhaps quietly very generous. And yet, as with Saul, all that keeps such people from judgement is the kindness of God (see Romans 2:1-4)! Paul is an example of Christ’s patience in another way too. If the Lord put up with Saul - the worst of sinners - until he came to faith, then anyone may be led to repentance in the patience of God (see 2 Peter 3:9).

It shows mercy . Reflecting on how he came to trust in Jesus, Paul twice pointed to the mercy he had received (1:13, 16) and how it turned around his life. He received this mercy from God. He could not lift himself up to heaven, but Christ Jesus came into the world. The Son of God left the splendour of heaven to become Man in our fallen, sin-filled, cursed age. He came to save sinners. He didn’t come merely to set an example of how we should live, or to deliver a course in self-improvement. Jesus came to rescue the perishing. He came to die. To save sinners, He gave Himself as a ransom for all men (1 Timothy 2:5-6). The point being made here is that the apostle needed God’s mercy and obtained it in Christ. He needed salvation and found it in Christ. This is the case for all of us; we all need Jesus to be our Saviour.

It shows faith . Saul tried more than most to keep the Law to be right with God, but at length realised he was the worst of sinners and in need of mercy. He then was made right with God by grace, through faith, and became “ an example for those who would believe” (1:16). The Gospel proclaims that Christ lived perfectly in this world, and provides righteousness to all who trust in Him; and, ‚died for sinners, and provides a ransom for all who are found in Him by faith. The Gospel tells of salvation - that Jesus Christ is Lord, and that there is pardon for sin, peace with God and purpose to life for all who trust in Him. Those who believe receive eternal life. So, “ Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” is a truth to be displayed in more than on posters. It is to be on display in the lives of those who believe in Him.

Study Seven: 1 Timothy 1:17

1 Timothy 1:17 is a doxology - a type of prayer which ascribes glory to God and asks that He be praised. The verse ends with the word “Amen,” which invites all who hear to agree with what has been said. The “ Amen” in v.17 says to us, as it did Timothy and the Christians in Ephesus, “Do you agree with this prayer? If you say ‘Amen’ to it, you should seek to give glory and praise to God.” Look at v.17 in more detail.

What was recognised about God . As he wrote to Timothy, Paul was led (by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit) to reflect on all that God has done in Jesus Christ. He thus recognised that honour and glory belong to God and should be given to Him. Note how Paul was stirred to rejoice as he thought on all these things. Truths of God may be considered rationally, but never dispassionately, by believers. Thinking about who God is, and what He has done, leads the Christian to wonder, love and praise.

Reading 1 Timothy 1, we see that Paul had been inspired to think about

  • The Wisdom of God. Saul of Tarsus was shown mercyas an example for those who would believe (v.16). Romans 11 (especially v.33-36) gives another instance of praise to God for His astoundingly wise dealings with humankind.
  • The Work of God. Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners (v.15). God’s own Son came from heaven to die on a cross for the ungodly. When we understand this by faith, it calls for the praise of God’s glory and grace (see Ephesians 1:3-14).
  • The Will of God. Christ Jesus … considered me faithful, appointing me to His service (v.12). The doxologies in Romans 11 and Ephesians 1 both recognise God’s sovereignty in salvation. The honour and the glory belong to Him alone.

Honour and glory belong to God, and should be given to Him. Here, honour means inward esteem and glory its outward expression. The truths we recognise about God call for a response of worship from the depths of our hearts and with all of our lives. They call us to love God and live out the Gospel.

What is revealed about God . The above truths say why honour and glory belong to God and should be given to Him, but actually they are not the truths stated in v.17! The doxology ascribes honour and glory to “ the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God,” using a royal title and some adjectives to say much about the Lord. The adjectives refer to transcendent attributes of God. Some of the things we may say of the Lord can also be said of His creatures. We speak of His being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth, but we can also speak of human justice, or the holiness of angels. These are the immanent attributes of God - things that are shared with His creatures. God’s transcendent attributes are not shared with any. Only He is infinite, eternal and unchangeable. 1 Timothy 1:17 speaks of God transcendent: the One in whom there is no possibility of decay, whose doings are so high and holy as to be beyond human perception, and who has the power and authority to reign forever. These truths are repeated in 1 Timothy 6:15-16 and are set before us here to reveal the truth of God to faith, so that we may see that He is worthy of our worship, wonder, love and praise. The Church is to be the pillar and foundation of the truth (3:15) to show to the world that the Lord is God, the King eternal. To do this, we are called to live lives of worship; we are called to live out the Gospel.

Study Eight: 1 Timothy 1:18-20

There may be times when you feel that you’re not really equipped for what you have to do; times when you would rather not start, or would love to give up, some task. Timothy was helping Christians in Ephesus to live their lives in line with their faith, but this involved more than sharing blessed thoughts and helpful tips with them! He had to rebuke as well as teach. He was engaged in a spiritual battle, and the apostle Paul wrote to tell him that he was to fight the good fight (v.18),holding on to faith. He was also to maintain a good conscience (v.19); how he lived was to match what he said. He was to be an example for the believers (4:12), for the Church is to be the pillar and foundation of the truth (3:15). Since we are all called to live out the Gospel, we are all called to maintain a good conscience; verses 18 to 20 show why.

because there is a war to be fought . Timothy was to take his stand, so that the Church of God might uphold the Truth of God. Every true believer is involved in this battle, and the fight is to be fought well. If Christians lose sight of the Gospel, they no longer are sure that God accepts them in Jesus apart from their own achievements. They then look to what they can do for God, and nurture an insecurity that breeds pride, envy, anger and hatred. When believers trust that they are accepted in Christ alone, they look to what they can do through God, and grow towards the consistency of obedience in good conscience. They fight the good fight; they live out the Gospel.

because there is a shipwreck to be avoided . Some people had floundered as far as the faith was concerned, having rejected a good conscience (v.19). Sadly, this still happens; some profess faith in Jesus but later fall away because they give up on doing what He would have them do. They may try to keep up appearances, but they’re holed below the waterline. Spiritually, they are at the mercy of the wind and waves, with little hope of rescue. Faith leads to obedience; not obeying leads to not trusting. Paul’s warning to Timothy shows us how to avoid this. It is by trusting and obeying God in everything that we maintain a good conscience, and live out the Gospel.

because there is a blasphemy to be feared . Hymenaeus and Alexander had been handed over to Satan (v.20), or declared to have no place in Christ and His Church (see 1 Corinthians 5:1-5), or excommunicated. This was that they might be taught not to blaspheme. These men believed and taught things about God that (1) were not true, (2) did a great deal of harm (see 2 Timothy 4:14) and (3) destroyed the faith of some (see 2 Timothy 2:17-18). They were denying the Gospel by saying either that you needed to do more than trust in Christ to be saved, or that you could sin as you like and still know the Saviour! Either way, this is a blasphemy - denying the power of the Cross. The way to avoid it is to prove the power of the Cross every day, by living in obedience to God in good conscience. It is to live out the Gospel.

Paul reminded his spiritual offspring of the prophecies once made about him (v.18). The Lord had called Timothy to this work, and would supply all he needed to do it (4:14). God always equips those He calls. We also may trust the Lord’s promises to us and depend on His enabling grace to live in obedience with a good conscience. This is how, holding on to faith, we live out the Gospel.

Study Nine: 1 Timothy 2:1-2

What is the one thing we can do that will most help us truly to live out the Gospel? Timothy was encouraging the believers in Ephesus to live their lives in line with their faith. The apostle Paul sent instructions so that they would know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God (3:15). There were some things that had to be stopped, since they were not by faith (1:3-7). There were some things that had to be started; praying for others was first of all (2:1).

The types of praying . Four words for talking to God are grouped together in v.1, but it is not easy to see how requests, prayers andintercessions differ from each other! Alongside thanksgiving, these words sum up every possible sort of prayer for others. That, however, is the point: all sorts of prayers are to be made. When we come to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, we are part of a royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9) whose work is to praise and pray. This world needs prayer: who else will pray for it?

The subjects of prayer . All sorts of prayers are to be made for all sorts of people- “ for everyone, for kings and all those in authority” (v.1-2). In this there is:

  • a recognition of a calling. Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners (1:15). If people are to be saved, they need to hear the Gospel with faith. Some Christians are called to preach, but all Christians are called to pray for other people.
  • a removing of the blinkers. False teaching or wrong thinking make us suppose that some people never could be saved. They seem set in their ways, and hard against the Gospel. But we may still pray for them; after all, Saul was shown mercy (1:16)!
  • a reminder of a commission. In Damascus, the Lord told Ananias that Saul was His chosen instrument to carry His Name before the Gentiles and their kings (Acts 9:15). The call for prayer here reflects this, since the Gospel is for everyone, low or high.

The results of prayerfulness . All sorts of people may be blessed by our prayers, but the focus here is on how this intercession benefits us. As a result of praying, we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness (v.2). This is what the apostle wanted for believers everywhere; it is the Biblical pattern for our lives today. It speaks of the sort of people we become when in prayer we bring others before God. Time spent in God’s presence through faith in Christ leads to a deeper, more reverent grasp of the truth of God - to godliness and holiness. Interceding for others leads us to be more concerned for them - and to have a more calm and consistent demeanour towards them because everything is in the Lord’s hands. This is what is meant by peaceful and quiet lives. The point of praying is not so that we might be left in peace by the world, but so that we may live in peace before the world through faith. In so doing, we mirror the life of the Lord Jesus. We live out the Gospel.

So what is the one thing we can do that will most help us truly to live out the Gospel? Paul was led to call for all sorts of prayer for all sorts of people that produces a very particular sort of change in the lives of those who pray. God’s Word tells us that this is the one thing that will most help us be the pillar and foundation of the truth (3:15). We live out the Gospel when we lift up our prayers!

Study Ten: 1 Timothy 2:3-4

In 1 Timothy we have the instructions the apostle Paul was inspired to send to help Timothy encourage the believers in Ephesus to live their lives in line with their faith. Paul urged that they learn to pray for others (2:1), knowing that this would lead them to live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness (v.2). This still is true for Christians today. Prayer is one of the things we can do that the Lord then uses to work in us a greater experience of what He has done for us. Or, to put this another way, people who pray are people who live out the Gospel! The life shaped by prayer is commended further in 2:3-4, where three reasons are given for it. These are:

It is worship of God . Worship and prayer are associated from the beginning (see Genesis 4:26). We acknowledge the Lord’s power and glory when we pray to Him. We need, however, always to remember that we live all our life in the sight of God. The NIV’s phrase “pleases God” (v.3) literally means “ acceptable before God” and the thought of being before the Lord is emphasised in 1 Timothy (5:4, 5:21, 6:13). To do what is good and acceptable in the sight of God is to worship Him with your life (see Deuteronomy 6:18, Romans 12:1-2). So, when people who have come to trust in Jesus pray, and live a life shaped by prayer, they are worshipping God.

It is a work of God . In v.3, God is described as our Saviour. Believers receive salvation as an act of God; He pardons their sins and accepts them as righteous in His sight because Jesus died and rose for them. But believers also experience salvation as a work of God. The Holy Spirit comes to transform, and to foster a love for God and for others (see 1:5). When you love God and love people, you pray. This, then, is a second reason why prayer, and the life shaped by prayer, is good and pleases God. It is the evidence of the work of God in your life, to the glory of God our Saviour!

It is the will of God . The third reason is the most obvious. Prayer, and the life shaped by prayer, is good and pleases God because He wants all men to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth (v.4). There are four things to say about this:

  • This means God wants all sorts of people to be saved - kings and those in authority (v.2), Gentiles, to whom Paul was sent (v.7). It does not mean that God has some secret plan to save absolutely everyone, even those who have rejected the Lord Jesus.
  • This implies that normally no-one is saved without knowing about it. Salvation involves coming to a knowledge of the truth of God in Jesus Christ. We talk to God about people (in prayer); we need also to talk to people about God.
  • This is also saying that salvation is more than head knowledge. Here, the word for knowledge denotes understanding, conviction and experience. It is knowing in the sense of, “I pray and live as I do because I know that Jesus Christ is Lord.”
  • This provides a powerful incentive to pray for everyone. God our Saviour wants to save all sorts of people - including some whom we might think are far beyond saving, just as many would have thought Saul of Tarsus was (see 1:15-16).

Scripture gives us these three reasons to pray, and to live a life shaped by prayer. This is not just something to think over or talk about. It is something to translate into action in our lives today! As we do so, we live out the Gospel.

Study Eleven: 1 Timothy 2:5-7

Timothy was in Ephesus, encouraging Christians there to live their lives in line with their faith. Paul sent instructions so that they would know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God (3:15). Through this inspired letter, then, we learn how to live out the Gospel in our lives too. It begins first of all (2:1) with being people of prayer. God’s Word calls us to makerequests, prayers, intercessions and thanksgiving for everyone, tells us that this will have an impact on the sort of life we lead (2:2) and assures us that God wants all men to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth (2:4). Vs5-7 explain how we may know that this last assertion is true (“ For” v.5). We know it is so because of:

The way things are . “There is one God and one mediator between God and men” (v.5). Different religions have arisen in the world, but they do not change the fact that all people are accountable to the Lord, their Maker. There is “ but one God ... from whom all things came and for whom we live” (1 Corinthians 8:6). It is not true to say that every religion leads to Him. There is only one go-between for human beings and God - one mediator (2:5). This title for Christ Jesus implies  that there is a distance between human beings and the Lord; ‚ that people cannot resolve this separation for themselves; ƒ that there isn’t any number of paths to God; but, „ that there is one! The way things are shows that the Lord will give all sorts of people forgiveness of sins, freedom and fullness in life and a future of hope in Him. We know this, because He has given His Son to be the mediator between God and men.

The work that’s done . “The man Christ Jesus gave Himself a ransom for all” (v.5-6). We know God wants all sorts of people to be saved because “ Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1:15) and did all that was needed to save them. He became Man for us and as Man perfectly fulfilled God’s Law. He gave Himself “as a ransom” (see Mark 10:45). Christ died in the place of sinners and paid in full for their sin, in the will of God. This is true for all sorts of people, as the conversion of Saul of Tarsus shows! All the work has been done by Jesus so that now anyone may believe on Him and receive eternal life (see 1 Timothy 1:16).

The witness then appointed . The words, “One God and one mediator, Christ a ransom for all” summarises the Gospel Paul preached. This testimony had not been fully disclosed in Old Testament times, when the Lord focused on the Children of Israel. The proper time (v.6) for this message is now, after the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. Paul saw that he had been appointed to make this Gospel known. The words “herald” “ apostle” and “teacher” describe the scope of his mission; “I am telling the truth, I am not lying” his sense of wonder at it, and “faith and truth” (v.7) the sincerity with which he went about the work. It was Christ that appointed Paul to bring the Gospel of salvation to the Gentiles (v.7; see Acts 9:15). God now wants the message to reach everyone; He wants all sorts of people to be saved.

1 Timothy 2:5-7 teach that God will use the Gospel to save sinners, and encourage us to go out and share the news. Remember, however, what is to be first of all in living out the Gospel (v.1). Talk to the Lord about people, then talk to people about Him!

Study Twelve: 1 Timothy 2:8

Timothy was in Ephesus, encouraging Christians there to live their lives in line with their faith. The Spirit led Paul to write to him and to urge prayer as the top priority. The believers there could pray foreveryone (2:1) - as can we today - because God wants all men to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth (2:4). Paul knew that it was for this very purpose that he had been appointed a herald and an apostle (2:7). Because of this, he had a vision that motivated his missionary work. Four features of the apostle’s vision are included in 1 Timothy 2:8. Paul wanted:

Godly men . “I want men … to lift up holy hands” (v.8). 1 Timothy 2:8 focuses on men and vs.9-10 on women. It is not that Paul did not want women to pray (see 5:5); his point is that the Gospel is for men too. Whenever he preached, Paul wanted other men to meet the risen Lord who had shown him mercy. He wanted men to be saved and brought to a knowledge of the truth. He wanted a world where the things of God are not pushed to the side, or left to women and children, but where men, transformed by grace, take the lead in acknowledging God and seeking His face in prayer.

Global spread . “I want men everywhere” (v.8). The inspired apostle’s desire was that there would be nowhere in the world where people do not know the truth of God in Jesus Christ. His “everywhere” echoes Malachi 1:11: “ In every place incense and pure offerings will be brought to Me, because My Name will be great among the nations .” Paul wanted an earth full of the knowledge of the Lord (see Isaiah 11:9).

Genuine faith . “I want men … to lift up holy hands in prayer” (v.8). Paul’s vision for the spread of the Gospel pictures communities gathering to pray. With prayer, we acknowledge God and give Him the glory due to His Name. Through prayer, we confess our need, and look to His grace. By prayer, we thank God for the goodness shown in every blessing and mercy bestowed. In prayer, we meet with God through Jesus Christ, behold the greatness of His power and love, and come to trust Him all the more. True prayer is both the evidence for, and the encourager of, genuine faith.

Gracious peace . “I want men … without anger or disputing” (v.8). Paul wanted the Gospel to bring people to faith, and for that faith to be expressed in love (see 1:5). He wanted an end to the wrath that spills over into aggression and conflict; an end to the resentment and suspicion that leads to rivalry. As a herald and an apostle (2:7), Paul looked, prayed and worked for the time when all would live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness (2:2). He had a vision of a gracious peace, where men no longer fall out with their neighbours, and where war is a thing of the past.

This glimpse of Paul’s vision presents us with three challenges. The first is to share his vision; that is, to believe that God wants all men to be saved (2:4) and that the Gospel has the power to transform the world. The second is to seek the vision; that is, to pray and work that the Gospel of Jesus may be heard and received by everyone. The third challenge is to show the vision. God’s Spirit inspired Paul to share what he wanted to see. His vision is recorded in Scripture so that we may take it and let it be seen in us: godly men here, praying with genuine faith and living in gracious peace. This is how we are to live out the Gospel.

Study Thirteen: 1 Timothy 2:9-10

Paul knew that he had been appointed a herald and an apostle to bring the Gospel to the nations (2:7). He therefore urged Timothy to encourage the Christians in Ephesus to pray for everyone (2:1) and described the world he longed to see. Paul shared his vision for men first of all: he wanted to see men everywhere trusting in Christ, living godly lives and meeting to pray without anger or disputing (v.8). He then outlined his vision for the impact of the Gospel on the lives of women (vs.9-10), as follows:

Godly Commitment . Paul’s vision is of women everywhere being women who profess to worship God (v.10). This turn of phrase is not to question the genuineness of their faith, but to emphasise that it involves an ongoing, day-to-day commitment. It is a commitment to worship God (or, to godliness, KJV) which includes: (1) awe, or reverence, for the King immortal and invisible (1:17); (2) love, from a heart converted through saving faith in Jesus Christ; and, (3) service of God in everyday life. Just as he wanted to see men saved, so the apostle also wanted to see women holding on to faith and a good conscience (1:19) and living out the Gospel.

Godly Character . The main focus in vs.9-10 is on how a woman’s commitment will be seen. Paul’s vision is of a world where loveliness of character catches the eye. In Ephesus then, as in most of the western world now, some people had hairstyles and clothes that were intended to attract attention, to flaunt wealth, or to provoke envy. Then, as now, more pressure came on women than on men to follow these trends, but braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes (v.9) could suggest self-seeking and vain-glory rather than godly character. Scripture here is not setting a maximum budget for a new outfit or proscribing any particular hairdo. Such legalism would run contrary to the call to live out the Gospel. The Bible is saying that women should have in minddecency and propriety (v.9) in how they present themselves. Decency means a love for others that takes care not to stir up lust, jealousy or greed in them. Propriety speaks of looking at all of life from the vantage point of faith, to see your standing in Christ and to think through what that means for living out the Gospel. These qualities - decency and propriety - are the outworking of faith and love. As such, they are the marks of a godly character formed by faith in Christ and through following Christ. This is what the apostle wanted to see in women everywhere.

Godly Conduct . The question that remains is how women maydress modestly with decency and propriety. Scripture’s answer is “ with good deeds” (v.10). These are (1) the acts of charity and kindness that you do when you resist the temptation to pass by on the other side, (2) the everyday tasks you perform as part of your calling, and (3) all other ways in which you keep the spirit of the law of God. All such deeds are good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10). When they are done in, through, and for the Lord, they bring glory to Him and provide a true adornment for the Christian woman (or man!).

1 Timothy 2:8-10 sets out a vision of a radically different world. The apostle’s vision shows how society may be transformed through saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. We are called to live out the Gospel, and thus to make this vision a reality in our lives.

Study Fourteen: 1 Timothy 2:11-15(a)

As one appointed a herald and an apostle to bring the Gospel to the nations (2:7), Paul wanted to see people in every place coming to trust in Christ. He described his vision for godly men (2:8) and women (2:9-10) then gave instructions to Timothy about roles of oversight (3:1-7) and service (3:8-13) in the church. In moving from one topic to the next, the inspired apostle inserted a related point. 1 Timothy 2 ends with the teaching that a woman is not to have authority over a man (2:12).

Submission (v.11) . When Scripture says, “ A woman should learn in quietness and full submission,” it highlights how both men and women are to learn and live out the Gospel. All authority has been given to the Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:18). He exercises His power directly, or by delegating authority to His servants in the state (Romans 13:1-7), family (Colossians 3:18-21) and church (Acts 20:28). Each person is to submit to God’s sovereign authority, even if that means defying the commands of men (see Acts 5:29). Since it is the pillar and foundation of the truth (3:15), the church, and each of its members, should be seen to live in full submission to God.

Silent (v.12) . The words “she must be silent” (or quiet) reinforce the phrase “in quietness” (v.11). To be silent is to be prepared to listen and accept without raising objections. This describes how all Christians are to live under God (see v.2b), but it has a focused application in vs.11-12. Because a woman is not tohave authority over a man, she, in particular, is not to teach a man (v.12). Five things may be said here. (1) Acts 18:26, 2 Timothy 3:14-15, Titus 2:3, etc. suggest something quite specific is being ruled out. (2) It is possible that this was a special measure needed in Ephesus (but compare 1 Corinthians 14:33-35). (3) “To teach” is to be understood in terms of 1 Timothy 3:2, 4:16, 5:17, 6:3 etc; nothing is said about other spheres of teaching (or authority). (4) It is possible that this means only that wives are not to teach husbands. (5) In any case, 1 Timothy 2:12 may not be dismissed as a man’s misguided opinion. It is the Word of God; all must be silent before Him (Habakkuk 2:20).

Sin (v.14) . That a woman is not to have authority over a man (v.12) is related to the creation and fall of Adam and Eve (vs.13-14). “For” (v.13) seems to imply that what follows is an explanation. If this is the case, then the rule in 1 Timothy 2:12 is true for every time and place, because it is based on how things were in the beginning. To avoid this, some adopt a rare meaning of “For” and understand that what follows is an example of what might happen; Adam and Eve show what must not to be done. In either interpretation, vs.13-14 say that (1) there was an order in creation (Adam was formed first, v.13); (2) this order was overturned when Eve was deceived and took the lead in deciding what she and Adam would do; and (3) this brought about a situation of sin. The point, then, is that Christian women and men are to show respect for God’s authority and not stray outside the order that Christ establishes for His church.

The message (so far) in these verses is plain, but quite challenging. It is easy to quote Proverbs 3:5 - “ Trust in the Lord with all your heart” - then fall back on our own understanding. These verses call us to submit every part of our lives to the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ in faith and with joy. In doing so, we live out the Gospel.

Study Fifteen: 1 Timothy 2:11-15(b)

1 Timothy 2:15 says, “ But women will be saved through childbearing - if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety .” Verses such as this bring to mind 2 Peter 3:15-16: “ our dear brother Paul also wrote to you with the wisdom God gave him. … His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction .” How, then, are we to understand this verse of Scripture?

We may rule out two suggested interpretations straight away. (1) 1 Timothy 2:15 is not saying that women will avoid complications in childbirth by trusting in Jesus. In the rest of the letter, “being saved” means being delivered from the wrath of God and receiving eternal life (see 1:15-16). There is no reason to understand the phrase differently here. (2) 1 Timothy 2:15 can’t mean that women will be given eternal life if they have children. Paul reminded Timothy of his own testimony to emphasise that salvation is by grace (see 1:12-14) and not because of any work that a man or woman may do. The real meaning of 1 Timothy 2:15 will fit in with the Gospel. This leaves us with two possible interpretations of the verse.

Women and God’s promise of salvation . 1 Timothy 2:13-14 refer to Adam and Eve, so v.15 also may refer back to Genesis ch.3. The Lord cursed the serpent who had deceived the woman and promised that the seed of the woman would crush the serpent’s head (see Genesis 3:13-15). God’s promise of salvation, therefore, involves women having children. A lineage is traced through Scripture (see Luke 3:23-38) and when the time had fully come God sent His Son, born of a woman (Galatians 4:4). This may be the meaning of “ saved through childbearing” in 1 Timothy 3:15.

Women and God’s purpose in creation . Timothy had to counter false doctrines that were being spread in Ephesus (1:3). The false teachers are mentioned again in 4:1-8, where we learn “They forbid people to marry” (4:3). Some women in Ephesus may have been misled into thinking they could be saved only if they stayed single and celibate. In this case, 1 Timothy 3:15 may be correcting this error by explaining that childbearing is also in the purposes of God from creation. Being a mother is a valid role and an honourable good work for a woman to undertake.

It is hard to decide between these two understandings of the phrase “ saved through childbearing.” It may well be that both are intended. On either interpretation, the verse stresses the possibility of salvation, but insists that there has to be a continuing in certain things - “faith, love and holiness, with propriety” (3:15). Faith is trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ; love comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith (1:5).Holiness is a committed effort to live in keeping withthe sound doctrine that conforms to the gospel (1:10-11). Propriety speaks of looking at all of life from the vantage point of faith, to see your standing in Christ and to think through what that means for how you live. These things are both the evidence of eternal life having been given and the expression of eternal life being lived out. They also are essential if the fullness of eternal life is to be received in the coming age (see 6:19). In other words, 1 Timothy 2 ends with an emphasis on living out the Gospel.

Study Sixteen: 1 Timothy 3:1-3

In every organisation there are some who give a lead in pursuing the goals, living out the values and upholding the standards for which the organisation exists. This is true even of the Church of Jesus Christ, although it is an organisation like no other. The Church is an organism - a body of believers - created, indwelt and empowered by God the Spirit. The Church has only one Leader (or Head, or King): the Lord Jesus Christ. Every Christian is called to follow Him, and become like Him, through faith in Him. This is living out the Gospel.

The Holy Spirit inspired the apostle Paul to write to Timothy and help him encourage the Christians in Ephesus to live out the Gospel. Paul told Timothy to deal with some of them who were teaching what wasn’t helpful or true (1:3-6). He stressed prayer as the top priority for believers (2:1) and shared his vision, as an apostle to the Gentiles, of a world filled with believing, godly men and women (2:8-10). It seems that this led Paul to think about how communities of believers would be ordered (2:11-15) and governed. At any rate, he next gave Timothy instructions about overseers (3:1-7).

The overseers are the church’s elders (see Titus 1:5-7). 1 Timothy 3:1-7 hints at their leadership role by saying they must be able to teach (v.2) and take care of God’s church (v.5). The focus, however, is more on who an elder is to be, rather than on what an elder is to do. Under Christ, elders are to give a lead. They are to set an example (that is, to be above reproach, v.2) in terms of living out the Gospel:

in private . Most of v.2 addresses how the elder behaves at home. Faith in Jesus is not a private matter to hide away; equally it is not something to take off as soon as the front door closes! Real faith at home will be seen in a commitment to marriage and a readiness to welcome visitors. The words temperate, self-controlled and respectable describe the ordered mind that comes from a conviction about the sovereignty of God, the reality of sin and the necessity of grace. This thought of order was met already in 1 Timothy 2:9. The private life of every Christian should reflect the propriety that comes from looking at life from the vantage point of standing in Christ, by faith.

in public . In five phrases v.3 sets out how elders should appear to others. If a man is seen to be given to drunkenness or a lover of money, it would seem that revelry or riches matter more to him than Christ. This should not be so for an elder, or for any Christian. The words violent and quarrelsome describe someone who is quick to fight physically or verbally. This is unbecoming for a servant of the Lord (see 2 Timothy 2:24) and is the opposite of being gentle. This positive term lies at the heart of v.3. “Gentle” describes how someone’s life will be seen by others if that person follows Jesus and is convinced of the sovereignty of God, the reality of sin and the necessity of grace. This is appropriate for every elder, and for every Christian.

No one would dare to claim that he/she is perfect in private and in public. We would want to say, “Don’t follow me; follow Christ!” But Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15) and He calls us to trust and follow Him. He leads His Church on to become like Him. And to do so is to live out the Gospel.

Study Seventeen: 1 Timothy 3:4-7

The key idea in the book of 1 Timothy is that the Church of Jesus Christ isthe pillar and foundation of the truth (3:15). Since God wants all men to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth (2:3), His Church is to pray for this (2:1) and to declare and demonstrate the truth. It is to share the good news, and to live out the Gospel.

It follows, then, that church overseers must take a lead in declaring and demonstrating the truth of God. Paul’s instructions about overseers begin and end with a reference to how they are seen by others (3:2; 3:7). What is to be seen in them is what should be seen in every Christian, and in the Church as a whole. This includes:

Reverence (v.4-5) . There is to be a sincere respect for the holy things of God. People who confess the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God (1:17) ought always to remember before whom they stand! There is also to be respect for each person, since every human being is made in God’s image, and has an eternal destiny. Because of this, overseers are to be those who have set this tone of proper respect in their own family (v.4), and who will be able to foster reverence in God’s church (v.5).

Reliance (v.6) . There is to be a wholehearted following of the perfect will of God. V.6 cautions against a recent convert having a position of leadership and authority. The implication is that new believers need to gain experience in trusting God’s lead. Each Christian meets situations where doing what the Bible says seems hard or costly. We will be tempted to lean on our own understanding, rather than trust in the Lord (see Proverbs 3:5-6). In effect, we face the same temptation that the devil set before Eve (see Genesis 3:1-6), and we may fall into the same sin as the devil, who would not hold to the truth of God (John 8:44), and came under judgement. Each Christian needs to learn to trust and obey wholeheartedly, to “prove the delights of His love.” The church’s overseers need to take the lead in following God, so that the Church is seen to rely on His word in all things.

Responsibility (v.7). There is not to be irresponsible behaviour in the church of God. When v.7 says overseers must also have a good reputation with outsiders, it means that they must keep up their good reputation. They must remember that there always are people watching, and act responsibly - as should every Christian. If they don’t, theyfall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap. The devil’s trap might mean (1) that the disgraced overseer is no longer any use, because of a tarnished testimony; or, (2) that one who has sinned may go on to commit more sin (see 2 Timothy 2:26) in an attempt to hide - as King David did (see 2 Samuel 11). In either case, Christians are to avoid the devil’s trap by living responsibly before a watching world.

We see, then, what should be seen in every Christian, in the Church, and especially in its overseers. The question is “How can we live this way?” Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners (1:15). He bore the disgrace heaped on Him by sinners, and endured God’s judgement as a ransom for all (2:6). Because He died and rose again, we may trust and follow Him, and live in Him. Jesus leads His Church on to be seen to be like Him. This is what it means to live out the Gospel.

Study Eighteen: 1 Timothy 3:8-11

In 1 Timothy Paul shares, among other things, his vision for a world filled with godly, prayerful men and women (2:8-10), and for how communities of believing people would be ordered (2:11-15) and governed (3:1-7). The inspired apostle then turned his attention to those who would have a recognised role in serving these communities. He taught Timothy (3:8-13) about deacons and their wives (or deaconesses).

The Bible never explicitly describes the role deacons are to play. They probably are to handle financial and administrative matters, such as caring for the poor, but, as with the overseers (3:1-7), more attention is given to who a deacon is to be, rather than to what a deacon is to do. A man was to be tested before he was asked to do this work (see v.10). Deacons would be seen as representatives of the church, so they and their wives (or deaconesses) were to be worthy of respect (v.8, 11) in how they lived out the Gospel. This should be true of every Christian. Note what is to be seen:

Commitment . 1 Timothy 3:9 speaks of holding the deep truths of the faith. (The KJV has “the mystery of the faith” which better conveys the meaning that these truths are disclosed by God, not discovered by man.) The truths of the Gospel are to be received and believed. Timothy was in Ephesus, where some people had received the message that “ Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1:15) but then added their own views (1:3) to argue that they were entitled to salvation (1:4). In doing so they moved away from faith (1:5). Commitment is when we believe the Gospel message and trust entirely to what God has done in Jesus. The more we grasp the abundant grace of our Lord (1:14), the more we live out the Gospel.

Charity . The truths of the faith are to be held with a clear conscience (v.9). This, at least, means that you are to be sincere if you say you have put your trust in Christ. There is, however, much more to it. Having a clear conscience means not letting things stay in your life which contradict your profession of Jesus Christ as Lord. There may be inward desires and attitudes that are not noticed by others, but which are tantamount to putting your hand to the plough and looking back (see Luke 9:62). A sincere faith and a good conscience lead to love (1:5) and it is this that was to be seen in the lives of deacons - and of every Christian. Jesus died on the cross so that guilty consciences could be made clean (Hebrews 11:22). By trusting to what He has done (that is, living out the Gospel), we are able sincerely to show His love to others.

Consistency. 1 Timothy 3:11 addresses the wives of deacons (or woman deacons) and highlights the need to be trustworthy in everything. This applies to the men too! The different terms used in v.8 and v.11 indicate the need for conduct to be consistent with confession, whether in speaking, in self-control or in serving. A high standard is set, and rightly so. It is no small thing to serve in the Name of the Lord!

Whether in a recognised role or not, every Christian is called to serve. Jesus came “not to be served but to serve” (Mark 10:45). He is the One who was tested fully and found blameless, but He bore the guilt of His people, and gave His life a ransom for many. In Him we may hold the faith and learn to serve, as we live out the Gospel.

Study Nineteen: 1 Timothy 3:12-13

In the NIV, 1 Timothy 3:13 speaks of “those who serve well.” It is clear that this refers to deacons, but the phrase reminds us that every Christian is called to serve. The Lord Jesus rebuked His disciples when they argued about which of them was the greatest. He told them, “ Whoever wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all ” (Mark 9:35). He taught, “ Even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve” (Mark 10:45). 1 Timothy 3:12-13 is talking about deacons, but what these verses say applies to every follower of Christ.

Observation . When we read these verses carefully, we observe that there is no hierarchy in serving in the body of Christ. The apostle Paul was led to describe what should be true of an elder or overseer (vs.1-7), and then of the deacons (vs.8-13). Comparing v.12 with v.4 shows that the same qualifications apply to each. The roles are different, but that does not mean that a lower standard is allowed for the deacon, or that elders have a higher standing than deacons who serve well. In modern terms, we would say that it doesn’t matter whether you are a minister, elder, member of the congregational committee, or other communicant member. All of us are called to the same Christian maturity in Jesus Christ and, whatever our role, to serve well.

Obligation . You don’t have to earn salvation; God gives freely. But He also gives fully: when He saves you He works in you to will (i.e., He leads you to want to serve) and to act according to His good purpose (Philippians 2:13), and so service in the Kingdom of God is obligatory, yet still voluntary! Vs.12-13 highlight aspects of this obligation. The main verb in v.13 (NIV, gain; KJV purchase) speaks of the result of effort, which signals that work is to be done. The reference to the household in v.12 shows that our serving should aim for what’s best for those God has set around us. The word “well” (v.13) makes us ask how we sort good service from bad. The focus is on how we do it, and the standard is set by the Lord Jesus Christ. In serving well, we follow the Lord in His humility - not thinking less of ourselves, but thinking of ourselves less. This is living out the Gospel.

Outcome. Although our focus in serving is to be on the glory of the Lord and the good of others, 1 Timothy 3:13 says those who have served well gain, and describes a two-fold outcome that faithful deacons could expect. The verse holds true for all who serve well, in whatever capacity. When you serve well, you become:

(i) the sort of Christian others look up to. This is what it means to gain an excellent standing. None of us would want to put ourselves on a pedestal, but we all can think of people whose holiness of life, humility of love or honesty of lip greatly impressed us. 1 Timothy 4:12 says, “set an example” and none of us would want to be setting a bad example! We are called to serve well.

(ii) the sort of Christian worth listening to. A great assurance in the faith brings confidence in prayer, and in speaking about God. It means knowing whom you have believed (see 2 Timothy 1:12) and knowing what it is to be in Christ Jesus (v.13), and it comes about through continuing on in serving well.

This twofold outcome is set before us here so that we might make it our purpose to stand in Christ Jesus and serve well. Then, we live out the Gospel.

Study Twenty: 1 Timothy 3:14-15

These verses explain why Paul wrote this epistle. Timothy was in Ephesus, among people who had come to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. He was helping them to see how to live their lives in keeping with their faith. It’s likely, however, that issues that arose there (see 1:3-7, 18-20) helped the apostle to discern what God the Spirit clearly says: “ in later times some will abandon the faith” (4:1). Paul therefore sent this letter to his colleague so he would “ know how people ought to conduct themselves” (3:14). Timothy was to teach the followers of Jesus (the Church) how to live out the Gospel. This was an urgent need then, and still is today, because the Church is to:

Display God’s Glory . 1 Timothy 3:15 describes the Church as God’s household. We associate the phrase ‘house of God’ with a building, but the focus here is on the people who make up the household. In olden times big country houses had servants and estate workers. What they did, and how they did it, reflected on the master of the house. That’s the idea here. Paul’s instructions (v.14) so far have to do with the qualities of character that should be seen in elders (overseers) anddeacons, and how these are mostly the qualities of godliness and holiness (2:1) that develop in every believer through prayer for, and service of (3:13), others. Godliness and holiness of life display the glory of the Master. This is why it is important to live out the Gospel.

Face God’s Judgement . God’s household is the church of the living God (3:15). The phrase “living God” is used three ways in the Bible. It can mean that every other god is just a dead idol. In 1 Timothy, however, the word “only” (1:17, 6:15) makes this point. Again “ living God” proclaims the Lord as the source of all life, especially eternal life, but this truth is conveyed in 1 Timothy by speaking of the grace, mercy and peace that come from Him (1:2). This leaves the third nuance of “living God”: God is the real, personal Being to whom we all will give an account of our lives (see Hebrews 10:30-31). There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1), but the faith that unites the believer to the Saviour only can be seen by what it does. Faith without deeds is dead (James 2:26). The Lord Jesus spoke of remaining in Him to bear much fruit and warned “ If anyone does not remain in Me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are … burned ” (John 15:6). Faith is as faith does; this is why it is vital to live out the Gospel.

Uphold God’s Gospel. The church of the living God is the pillar and foundation of the truth (3:15). The Church is a support to the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This does not mean that without a Church the Gospel would collapse; it means that those who are trusting in Jesus are to show that the Gospel really is true. Followers of Jesus know the Gospel is to be shared. It is also to be shown to make a difference in everyday life. In particular, it is to be shown to make a difference in relationships with others (see 1 Timothy 1:5), and the Church fellowship therefore is to be a place where Gospel-relationships (based on a love for God, a love for the things of God and a love for the people of God) are to the fore. Where we refuse to allow the Gospel to shape our relationships, we contradict the message of salvation and make it harder for others to see the truth. But God our Saviour … wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth (2:3-4); this is why we must live out the Gospel!

Study Twenty-one: 1 Timothy 3:16

1 Timothy is full of instructions for people who have come to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul sent these directions to Timothy, so that the Christians in Ephesus would live lives that were in keeping with their faith. He sent them as a matter of urgency, because the Church is the pillar and foundation of the truth (v.15), so followers of Jesus always should show that the Gospel is true by how they live. The problem with instructions, however, is that we sometimes feel that we can’t do what we’re being told we must do! Verse 16 explains how we can live out the Gospel. It points us to:

A great means . In the New Testament, a “mystery” is something that God did not reveal fully in Old Testament times, but which now is seen because of Jesus and the cross. The mystery of godliness is God’s now-revealed way for sinful people to come to live godly lives (that is, lives that have God at their centre and that acknowledge and honour Him in all). This way for godliness is great, both because it is praise-worthy and because it is powerful. In fact, the Scriptures say that its greatness is beyond all question. In other words, no-one who has ever trusted and followed the Lord Jesus Christ has found God’s means for godliness to be ineffective.

A great Saviour . God’s means for godliness is great because it is His Son! The rest of v.16 celebrates Jesus in six phrases. The first three of these focus on His work:

  • He appeared in flesh (NIV ‘in a body’). The eternal Son of God became Man, lived a perfect, godly human life and died for the ungodly (Romans 5:6).
  • He was vindicated in (NIV ‘by’) the Spirit. Jesus rose to the newness of the life of the age to come and was declared to be righteous by God the Father.
  • He was seen by angels. The risen Lord was given all authority to reign as King.

By this work, the Lord Jesus has accomplished full salvation. He rescues sinners from sin’s consequences by dying their death and by giving them a new standing with God through His life. He also redeems sinners from sin’s control by breaking its power through the cross and sharing His life with His people in the Holy Spirit. When we trust and follow the Lord Jesus, we find we are given everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him (2 Peter 1:3).

A great hope. The latter three phrases in v.16 focus on how God’s means for godliness comes to be effective in people’s lives. Again, it is all through Jesus.

  • He was preached among the nations. Isaiah (2:1-4) prophesied that the law would go out from Zion and transform the nations; the Gospel fulfils this.
  • He was believed on in the world. Faith is key; through believing in the Lord Jesus, people come to want to live their lives for God, and find His help to do so.
  • He was taken up in glory. We put our faith in Jesus in this world, but the Lord is in glory. We have, however, the hope that we will be where He is (John 14:3).

The Christian’s hope - given through the Saviour, guaranteed by the Spirit - is that we will be with the Lord and like the Lord in glory (see Philippians 3:20-21, 1 John 3:2). “ All who have this hope in Him purify themselves, just as He is pure ” (1 John 3:3). The Gospel leads us to Jesus, to trust in Him; He leads us to godliness - to live out the Gospel as we hope in Him.

Study Twenty-two: Review of 1 Timothy chapters 1 to 3

It doesn’t take long to read the 51 verses of 1 Timothy chs.1-3 (try it for yourself!). Reading them in one go helps us spot the things we can miss when we focus on a few verses at a time. For example, we see that Paul refers a lot to his own experience and practice. The apostle was writing to tell Timothy how to guide Christians in Ephesus to live out the Gospel. As he did so, he shared how the Gospel had shaped his life. We can sum up what he said like this:

“I stand.” Paul realised that he stood out as the prime example of the mercy of God in Jesus Christ (see 1:15-16). If Saul of Tarsus could be saved, anyone may be! The Gospel is the good news of God’s salvation, which objectively was accomplished by the coming into the world ofChrist Jesus (1:15). The Lord came to take the place oflawbreakers and rebels (1:9) and give Himself as aransom for all (2:5). Anyone, then, may receive eternal life (1:16); subjectively, salvation is applied through faith. These points are stressed in 1 Timothy because some in Ephesus had started looking to “myths and endless genealogies” instead of to Christ. God’s work, however, isby faith (1:4) and Paul stands as an example for those who would believe (1:16).

“I go.” Paul’s conversion sets the pattern for everyone, but still he had a unique position in God’s purposes. He was appointed a herald and an apostle to carry the good news of salvation in Jesus to the Gentiles (2:7). We know Paul was ready to go anywhere and endure anything to bring people to know Jesus (see Acts 20:24, 26:29, Romans 10:1, Colossians 1:24, etc.) He described his apostolic burden and vision to Timothy in this way: “ I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer without anger or disputing ” (2:8). The Gospel shaped his life to have this desire and, again, his experience sets an example for us. “All sorts of prayers for all sorts of people” is to be the top priority for people who have come to follow Jesus (see 2:1). Our own lives are changed through our praying (2:2), and such prayers also keep our focus on seeing others being saved and coming to a knowledge of the truth (2:3-4). In other words, a Gospel-shaped life not only trusts in the Saviour; it tells of the Saviour.

“I come.” 1 Timothy is inspired by the Holy Spirit and speaks to us, but it was a personal letter, originally sent to Timothy to say that Paul hoped to come soon (3:14). The matters addressed in the epistle are not things that could wait, however, because they have to do withhow people conduct themselves in God’s household, the church of the living God (3:15). God intends that His people be the pillar and foundation of the truth (3:15); their lives (and especially their lives together) are to demonstrate the truth and power of the good news of God’s salvation in Jesus Christ. The Gospel’s truth and power are seen in the godliness that it brings. As Paul laid out his vision and burden for a society marked by godliness, he drew attention to the qualities to be expected of those who would take a lead in establishing and maintaining order and those who would exercise and multiply a ministry of kindness. This is what he wanted to be in place before he would come - so that the church in Ephesus would be shaped by the Gospel. There is, however, another who has promised, “I am coming” and who will look for fruitfulness in the Church (see Revelation 22:12). In the light of His coming, and by the power of His cross, we are to live out the Gospel.

Study Twenty-three: 1 Timothy 4:1-6

With their families, people who follow Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour make up the church of the living God. 1 Timothy 3:15 says this Church is the pillar and foundation of the truth, which means that the Church’s members are to show the Gospel is true by the lives they lead. We live out the Gospel by the indisputably great mystery (i.e. the amazing-but-true, now-revealed secret) of godliness (3:16), which is this: we have all we need in Jesus Christ - in who He is and what He has done.

Paul was inspired to tell Timothy this teaching to pass on to Christians in Ephesus. The apostle also was led to remind Timothy of what the Holy Spiritclearly says in other places in the inspired Scriptures (4:1): in later times (i.e. in the days between the ascension and return of the Lord Jesus) some will abandon the faith. What this means is that some people will turn away from the truth of the Lord Jesus to a false gospel.

The false gospel comes from demons . The counterfeit message doesn’t originate in the minds of human beings. We must not forget that there is war raging around us in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:12); we must remember to pray (Ephesians 6:18). The false gospel is, however, spread by human agents - by hypocritical liars whose consciences have been seared (4:2). These are people who say things like, “This is how you really gain salvation” so often that, in the end, they can’t even feel ashamed about their lies. But their counterfeit message is shown to be bogus whenever the real, life-changing power of the Gospel is seen; that is why Christians are not only to speak the truth, but to live it out.

The false gospel calls for works . The teachings of the counterfeit message seem strange at first; v.3 mentions rules for marriage and for meals! This was how the false gospel appeared in Ephesus, but its details can vary. It always, however, is a message of what people need to do. The false gospel tells you to be a better person, to try harder, to do more. It turns you away from what the Lord Jesus has done for sinners and points instead to how you could try to win God’s favour. It appeals to pride and ignores what the Bible says about sin. The real Gospel says sinners are saved by grace, through faith - not by works so that no one can boast (Ephesians 2:9). In what we believe and in how we live, we must be careful not to confuse the counterfeit message of works with the truth of God’s gift in Christ.

The false gospel is countered by the truth. Verses 3-5 of 1 Timothy 4 take the rules about food as an example, and examine the counterfeit message in the light of the Gospel. When weknow and believe the truth (4:3) then everything that God created to be received as food is seen to be good, since the word of God pronounced it so (see Genesis 1:31) and thus makes it ‘clean.’ This faith in God’s Word is reflected in the prayer of thanksgiving. In other words, when we start from a position of belief in the grace of God, how can we think that we need to abstain from certain foods in order to please Him? God has freely provided salvation in Jesus and it is received through faith alone. In the same way, God freely provides our food, to be received with thankfulness. Therefore, even in as little a thing as how you take your meals, you may, by faith, be living out the (true) Gospel!

Study Twenty-four: 1 Timothy 4:6-10

1 Timothy 4 verses 1-5 warn of the emergence of hypocritical liars who would lead people astray. How could someone like Timothy be sure that he was still a good minister of Christ Jesus? The answer lay in what he taught, and in how he lived (v.6). Paul therefore told Timothy to train himself to be godly (v.7). It is not just ministers, however, who need to practise godliness. Timothy was to set an example (v.12), because every servant of Christ-is to live out the Gospel.

The root of the practice of godliness is found in v.10 . V.10 points us to the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, and especially of those who believe . God gives the gift of eternal life to all sorts of men and women - but only to those who put their trust in Him. Salvation is a gift received through faith; it is not something that we work to earn. Godliness, then, grows from the root of knowing that you have been given life in Christ. Living out the Gospel is living that new life in Him.

The resource for the practice of godliness is found in vs.6 . The words “truths of the faith and of the good teaching” describe what we find in the Bible. It tells us what God has done and what that means for us; in it we have the Gospel announced. The words “that you have followed” speak of the Gospel accepted. V.6 also speaks of the Gospel applied . The words “brought up in” (KJV, “nourished up in”) paint a picture of daily feeding or exercise. To live a godly life (or, to glorify God and enjoy Him) you need to remember the Gospel. It is useful to memorise verses such as Galatians 2:20 or Ephesians 2:8-10 to remind yourself day by day of where you stand in Christ.

The rigour of the practice of godliness is found in v.7, and v.10. Living a godly life takes effort! 1 Timothy 4 says this effort includes turning from godless myths and old wives’ tales (v.7). Anything promising a short cut to or an opt out from godliness is unbiblical; often it is plainly stupid too! Christians are to train themselves (v.7); this involves learning the right way to do things, and then always doing things the right way. So, just as 1 Timothy 1:9-10 uses the Ten Commandments to see what conforms to the Gospel, Christians are to shape their lives by God’s Word. And this involves toil. The words labour and strive (KJV suffer reproach) in v.10 remind us that godliness is Christ-likeness. The call is to take up the cross and follow Jesus.

The rewards for the practice of godliness are found in vs.8 . V.8 is a trustworthy saying (v.9), and it is true that exercise is of some value, but good health won’t last forever. Godliness, however, has value for all things (v.8). It has the promise of life in the present. What this means is that when people trust in the Lord Jesus as their Saviour and seek to live out the Gospel, they come to experience eternal life here and now in knowing God in His Son Jesus Christ. There is a real relationship with the living God to enjoy. The practice of godliness also has the promise of the life to come. The more now we give our lives to God through faith in Jesus, the more we grow in faith that we will live our lives with God through Jesus forever. Thisdeserves full acceptance (v.9). In the light of the rewards,train yourself to be godly (v.7), with hope in the living God, who is the Saviour (v.10)!

Study Twenty-five: 1 Timothy 4:11-16

Timothy was in Ephesus, teaching new Christians how to order their lives in keeping with their faith. Paul wrote this letter to him, giving Timothy instructions to pass on to the church. Ch.4 vs.11-16 contain a personal message from Paul to his young colleague, but the apostle’s Spirit-inspired words are the Word of God for us today. Timothy was told how to make his own salvation sure (see v.16: “save … yourself”). The way to do this is by living out the Gospel.

Stand Out (v.12) . Living out the Gospel is the opposite of being squeezed into the mould of others’ making. It is to set an example in every way -in speech, in life. This begins with simple faith and is seen (see 1:5) in a genuine love, that includes absolute purity (see 5:2). Timothy was called toset an example so that no one would look down on him because he was young. In other words, he was to so stand out by his Christian living that other particulars about his life would be thought unimportant. This is what happens when a believer lives out the Gospel. When we grasp that we are sinners and trust that we have received the mercy of God in Christ, then we live as people who forgive because they have been forgiven, who love because they are loved and who purify themselves just as He is pure (see 1 John 3:3). To make your salvation sure, then, keep looking in faith to the Lord - and thus, live out the Gospel.

Press on (v.15) . Paul told Timothy to “ be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them.” It is likely that the matters referred to are the things mentioned previously in v.11, v.6 and 3:14 - namely, the instructions about living out the Gospel that the apostle had sent to Timothy for the church in Ephesus (see 3:15). Paul urged him to be absorbed in these things “ so that everyone may see your progress.” He was to press on in them. No Christian should ever feel that she/he is the finished article. We always are to be growing - especially in prayerfulness andgodliness (see 2:1-2). The way to press on is through the Gospel. Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners (1:15). What am I saved from? What am I saved for? By remembering (and believing) the answers to these questions we keep looking in faith to the Lord Jesus, and press on in living out the Gospel - and in making our salvation sure - in Him.

Keep in (v.16). Two further instructions are found in this verse. Timothy was towatch his life and doctrine closely, and to persevere in them. To paraphrase, Paul told him, “Hold in mind who you are to be and what you are to teach. Keep yourself where you should be on both.” This what Christians must do, but our experience is that we trespass. We fail to keep in to where we should be; we show the sinfulness of our inclination. But the good news of the Gospel is that God in grace provides what He by law commands. The Lord Jesus committed no sin, and no deceit was found in His mouth (1 Peter 2:22). His life and doctrine were perfect to the last, and He died on the cross for the trespasses and sinfulness of His people. Jesus gives a new life to all who trust in Him - a life that is lived in, with and through Him. We keep in to what we should be as we keep looking in faith to our Saviour, Jesus Christ. In that faith in, and walk with, Him, we live out the Gospel, and make sure our salvation.

Study Twenty-six: 1 Timothy 4:11-16

In 1 Timothy 4 vs.11-16 we learn what the apostle Paul told his young colleague to do to save both himself and his hearers (v.16). The instructions here are not just for Timothy, however; each believer has a part to play in helping other Christians make progress in their salvation. We help one another live out the Gospel through:

The Gifts of the Spirit (v.14) . Paul reminded Timothy of his gift. Each person who trusts the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation is gifted (see Romans 12:6), because the Holy Spirit gives each believer gifts for the good of all (see 1 Corinthians 12:7).

Some gifts may be thought of as ‘natural’ abilities. The Lord redeems and redeploys God-given talents when an individual comes to new life through faith in the Saviour. Other gifts are given at, or after, conversion. People have found themselves involved in forms of service that they never thought they could do, and have said that they only can do what they’re doing because God made them able to do it. He gives gifts!

Timothy’s gifting was recognised by others, who spoke of it in a prophetic message. Their message didn’t create the gift, but Timothy was called and commissioned to serve when others said what they saw in him. This is still the best way for a believer to determine what his/her gift is. If you seek to serve others as part of the body of the church, you will soon discover (or others will tell you) where your gifts lie!

Timothy was told, “Do not neglect your gift.” This message is for every Christian. Gifts are given to be used for the good of all, so that the body can be built up. As we all do our part, the Church is seen to be the pillar and foundation of the truth (3:15).

The Ministry of the Word (v.13) . Timothy had a specific role in the church in Ephesus. His gift enabled him to bring God’s Word to its members. Timothy was told to devote himself to the three tasks that always make up the ministry of the Word:

The public reading of Scripture is an act of worship; the whole congregation sits under the authority of the Word of God. The reading also enables people to get to know the Bible. Furthermore, when the Bible is read, God speaks; the Scriptures … are able to make you wise for salvation (2 Timothy 3:15).

Preaching is bringing the call of the Scriptures to the lives of the hearers. It declares the Good News that Jesus is Lord, shows how all the Bible leads to Him, and urges faith in Him, with the consequent obedience of faith and repentance unto life. It is the call to hear the Gospel, to believe the Gospel and to live out the Gospel.

Teaching is what is found in creeds, catechisms and confessions. It is the setting forth of a whole worldview based on what the Scriptures principally teach, and the setting up of a framework through which to understand life. V.16 refers to it as doctrine and shows why it is vitally important to stay true to the teaching of the Scriptures.

Timothy had a particular gift and recognised role, but that does not mean that he had sole responsibility for the ministry of the Word among the Christians in Ephesus. Just as every believer knows that she/he can - and should - pray, so every believer can - and should - share God’s Word with others. Through the ministry of the Word we build each other up in the body of the church, and help each other make our salvation sure. And when we share the Word with one another, we live out the Gospel.

Study Twenty-seven: 1 Timothy 3:14:-4:16

Paul’s instructions to Timothy in chapter 4 take up and develop the closing verses of chapter.3. Two key themes emerge, from which we may infer an important point.

The first key theme is this: all that is needed for salvation is found in the Lord Jesus Christ. Ch.3v.16 celebrates this truth, as Paul reminds Timothy (and the Word tells us) that the now-fully-revealed way by which God makes sinners righteous truly is great. God’s way is Christ Jesus. 1 Timothy 3:16 speaks of the Son’s incarnation, atoning work and glory, and of the how the good news is proclaimed in all the earth. Through believing in Him, men and women are made righteous in God’s sight (they are justified) and become more and more righteous in their lives (they are sanctified). All that is needed for salvation, then, is found in Jesus.

This point is reinforced in ch.4, in which Timothy is warned that there will be some who will abandon the faith (4:1) and insist that people must follow certain regulations if they want to be saved (4:3). Timothy is told to have nothing to do with such notions (4:7). He is to live out the Gospel - the good news that Jesus is all.

The second key theme, then, is that there the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ is to be distinctive. The reason behind this epistle is explained in 3:14-15: “ I am writing you these instructions so that … you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in … the Church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth .” The Church is made up of people who have found salvation and new life through faith in the Lord Jesus, and their families. Their conduct is to provide a plinth and column to hold up and show the truth of the Gospel distinctly.

This point is reinforced in ch.4. The apostle tells Timothy to set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity (v.12). Paul wanted the Christians in Ephesus to see something distinctive in Timothy’s life, and then to follow suit in their own lives. They were to be noticeably different from those among whom they lived. By its faith in the Lord Jesus, the Church is distinctive.

We may infer something, from these two points, that has to do with how people come to experience salvation. Salvation is possible only because of the finished work of Christ, and is proclaimed in the Gospel, which calls people to repent and believe. Given that Paul’s task was to bring the Gospel to everyone (2:7), and that his Spirit-inspired instructions here follow on from his zeal for this task, we may infer a further point. We may infer that God has a particular way of bringing the Gospel to all men (4:10): He chooses to use His Church. God calls His household to share the Gospel’s message with their words and show the Gospel’s truth in their lives. To put it another way, we find that some people are not saved because they’ve never heard about Jesus, and some because they won’t accept the message of the cross, but others are not saved because they see a difference between what the Church preaches and what it practises, and find it hard to believe that the Gospel is true! 1 Timothy 4:16 says: “ Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers .” If we want people to be saved, we will not let there be a difference between what we say and what we do. We will live out the Gospel.

Study Twenty-eight: 1 Timothy 5:1-2

1 Timothy 3:16 declares, “the mystery of godliness is great.” The verse celebrates the incarnation of the Son of God, His atoning work and glory, and how the good news of salvation is proclaimed in all the earth. Through faith in the Lord Jesus, women and men are made righteous in God’s sight (they are justified) and become more and more righteous in their lives (they are sanctified). All that is needed for salvation, then, is found in Christ. This truth is repeated in 1 Timothy 4, but it warns that some will abandon the faith (4:1) and instead believe that, to be saved, one must follow certain rules (4:3). Paul told Timothy to have nothing to do with such notions (4:7). He was to live out the Gospel - the good news that Jesus is all - and to command and teach the Gospel (4:11). Verses 1-2 in 1 Timothy 5 are about how Timothy was to do this.

Everyone is different . Four groups are distinguished here, according to age (older / younger) and gender (men / women) and Timothy was to think in terms of fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters as he ministered God’s Word. God brings people who trust in the Lord Jesus (and their families) into His household (3:15), but each person brings her/his different perspectives and priorities. We need to respect each other’s position and point of view as we encourage one another to live out the Gospel.

All need direction . Timothy was to exhort all (5:1). Every believer in Ephesus - older and younger, male and female - needed the ministry of God’s Word (4:13). The Bible makes one wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 3:15) and thoroughly equips for every good work (2 Timothy 3:17). Every follower of Jesus needs its teaching, rebuking, correcting and training (2 Timothy 3:16). No Christian should think that she/he is superior, and has no need to listen to the Gospel; nor should any think that he/she is inferior and that others are streets ahead! All of us still need to hear and heed the old, old story, so that we may live out the Gospel.

No one is to be given a drubbing. 1 Timothy 5:1 begins, “Do not rebuke an older man harshly.” (The KJV’s ‘elder’ means an older man, not a church overseer.) All are to be exhorted; no one is to be smacked down verbally. A tirade of abuse may be a way to vent frustration and anger, but this manner of talking to (or shouting at) someone is intended to crush, not correct. It aims to hurt, not to help, the wrongdoer. It is not living out the Gospel. When we come in our sins to the Lord Jesus, we are met with words of mercy, grace and love. This is what we are to reflect.

There always must be decorum. Timothy was told to exhortyounger women as sisters, with absolute purity (5:2). There is to be not even a hint of sexual immorality or any kind of impurity (Ephesians 5:3). The Church is the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ, and we are to acknowledge Him in all our ways. Again, we are to respect one another (see 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8). And, the Church is before a watching world - “the pillar and foundation of the truth” (3:15). Our conduct is to provide a plinth and column to hold up and show the truth of the Gospel distinctly.

Timothy, then, was to conduct his ministry with respect for those to whom he brought the Word of God. With this respect he would be an example (4:12) of the godliness we too are to pursue as we trust in the Lord Jesus and live out the Gospel.

Study Twenty-nine: 1 Timothy 5:3-16 (i)

This letter was sent to Timothy when he was in Ephesus with people who had become followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul wrote to tell him “ how people ought to conduct themselves in … the church of the living God ” (3:14). As we read 1 Timothy, then, we find God’s Word teaching God’s Church how to live out the Gospel. Most of 1 Timothy ch.5 addresses one way in which every church is to do this. There are many ‘ifs and buts’ in these verses, but we still see the basic point. It is found in v.3, where there is a call for a proper recognition ofwidows who are really in need, in v.9, which refers to alist of widows, and in v.16 which speaks of the church giving help. Together these verses show that one way every church lives out the Gospel is by organising and administering relief to its poor.

The Responsibility of Each Christian . The Bible teaches us our responsibility to care for the poor. At least five threads of the Bible’s teaching weave together on this:

  • There is the call to ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ The parable of the Good Samaritan shows that you are the neighbour of whomever you see in need.

· The Old Testament Law legislated for the care of the stranger (see Deut 10:19); this is reflected here in the expectation of hospitality (1 Timothy 5:10).

  • Jesus called His followers to ‘do good to those who hate you’ and thus be ‘sons of the Most High’ - generous people, in the image of God (Luke 6:27-36).
  • Jesus also said, ‘Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful ’ (Luke 6:36). This goes beyond forgiveness, because in mercy God gives lots!

· The Lord Jesus set an example. He fed; He healed; He cared.

There is, then, a clear responsibility to care for others, and especially to help the poor.

The Role for Every Church . Scripture also shows that caring for the poor means more than kindly individuals doing what they can. A church has a role in organising and administering relief to its poor. Deuteronomy 15:4-5 says that there should be no long-term poverty among God’s people, if only they fully obey the Lord. We are called to the obedience of faith in Christ, as His covenant people, and thus to the ministries of sharing God’s Word with, upholding order for, and exercising mercy to one another in community. This means that, wherever a true Gospel church is found, it will organise relief for the poor, and especially for its impoverished members (see Acts 2:45 for example). Every church has this role.

· Some may say, “There are none in need.” We do have the benefit of a national welfare system, but we may find that there are holes in the safety net. It is still the case that some people, through no fault of their own, can’t make ends meet.

· Some may say, “There are none to trust.” Giving alms is to be done quietly (see Matthew 6:2-4), so why involve the church? The answer is this: the church asks and entrusts some to administer the relief so that none are overlooked (Acts 6:1).

· Some may say, “There is nothing to give.” John Wesley told his Methodists to “earn as much as you can, save as much as you can, give as much as you can.” We do need to steward carefully - but not hoard - what we have, and, “ as we have opportunity, … do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers ” (Galatians 6:10).

Study Thirty: 1 Timothy 5:3-16 (ii)

In 1 Timothy chapter 5 we find that one way in which every church is to live out the Gospel is by organising and administering relief to its poor. When, however, we read v.3 (“Give proper recognition of widows who are really in need”), we see we have to be careful in how we give this care. Three questions help us explore the issues here.

Should this care for the poor really be a church matter? It must be, for we read here of the church’s list of widows (v.9). Such church-organised care is, however, just a backstop; the main duty of care falls on the family. To provide and care for an elderly parent is to put religion into practice (v.4). It is to live out the Gospel; it is pleasing to God. V.16 extends this to the family’s providing and caring for any elderly relative, so that the church can look after those who are really in need. And v.8 warns, “ If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith .” An uncaring attitude runs contrary to the Gospel of God’s wondrous love and care. If people who have no church connection know to care for their parents, then to not provide is to be worse than an unbeliever. So, caring is a church matter but, before it ever gets to the stage of church organised relief, families should step in and provide. We need to grasp just how important the family unit is in God’s eyes, and live out the Gospel among our relatives.

Should this care for the poor be restricted to church members? It is clear that church members are the focus of the instructions in 1 Timothy ch.5. In fact, vs.9-10 say even only a particular few of them should receive support! This does not mean, however, that we ignore wider needs. God’s Word tells us to be a neighbour to all (see Luke 10:25-37). But where there are people in need whose faith is in Christ, and whose only hope is to pray and to ask God for help (see v.5) then we recognise a special duty of care. In other words, our charity is not to be exclusive, but there is a special responsibility to those who belong to the family of believers” (Galatians 6:10).

Should this care for the poor be regulated by church monitoring? Widows in the church in Ephesus had to qualify in terms of age, testimony and circumstances before they were given financial assistance (vs.9-10, v.16). Someone had to monitor and decide. This doesn’t mean that the church decided not to care for some people; it means that, in certain cases, a ‘handout’ was not the right response. What probably happened was that money was provided to relieve an immediate need (e.g., where a woman was left destitute or squandered the resources she had). After this, the more long-term need would have been addressed. This may have been in the form of help to learn to budget, to find employment, to gain justice etc. It likely took more of an investment - in terms of time and effort - to address the long-term need in this way. It might have been easier just to give money! But God’s Word teaches the need for care in giving financial aid. There are times when it is the right thing to do, but there is a need for monitoring. There are times when something different is of more help.

All of the above really is about living out the Gospel. In Jesus Christ God gave richly to meet our greatest need. He showed His compassion and commitment on the cross. The Church lives out the Gospel when it shows that, for His sake, it cares.

Study Thirty-one: 1 Timothy 5:3-16 (iii)

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners ” (1 Timothy 1:15). The NT epistle that contains this verse goes on to show how this Gospel is to be lived out in faith. It calls us to prayerfulness (2:1) and godliness (4:7), but throughout Paul’s letter to Timothy the emphasis is on practical Christian living. Thus, when criteria are set for deciding which widows may receive financial support from the church (5:9), it is no surprise to find that “good deeds” come into focus (5:10) - “Did she live out the Gospel?” 1 Timothy 5:10 gives four examples of practical Christian living; every believer may find here a call to be:

dutiful. To be put on the list of widows (v.9), a woman had to be well known for her good deeds such as bringing up children (v.10). Some people have said that this must mean caring for orphans, since it seems strange to call looking after your own children a “good deed.” When done in faith, however, doing your duty to your family is living out the Gospel (see 5:4). In faith, you believe that God has given you your family in His wisdom and sovereignty; you believe that He calls you to follow His Word in your family, and you believe He will be glorified through what you do.

gracious. 1 Timothy 5:10 has “showing hospitality” as its second example of good deeds. This is speaking of generosity - with home, time and ‘private space’ as well as with money. When you give your life to Jesus, you give all. The Gospel proclaims new life through faith in Jesus; the old self-centredness dies at the cross where God’s grace is found. To live out the Gospel is to reflect the grace and generosity that we have received from God in how we then treat others.

humble. The third example - “washing the feet of saints” - reminds us of Christ in the upper room, and how He taught the disciples to be willing to serve. The NT uses the word “saints” to speak of everyone who has answered the call to trust in the Lord Jesus. Living out the Gospel, then, means being willing to serve everyone who is part of the church. This is following the example of Jesus (John 13:15); it is having the same attitude as He has (Philippians 2:5).

compassionate.Helping those in trouble” is the last example named in v.10. Those in trouble could be people who are persecuted for their faith, or people who are finding life tough. In either case, “ helping” means to come to their aid. This may be by providing financial assistance (the same word is used when v.16 says help those widows who are really in need) but it goes deeper than just action; “helping” points to a heart attitude. It points to the sort of compassion shown by the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-35) - practical action arising out of love for neighbour.

These four terms in 1 Timothy 5:10, then, are illustrative examples of the “good deeds” that are produced by faith (see 1 Thessalonians 1:3). When we trust in the Lord Jesus, grasp what He did for us on the cross and follow His Word, our lives reflect what is seen in Him. In other words, we live out the Gospel.

Study Thirty-two: 1 Timothy 5:3-16 (iv)

Living out the Gospel takes thought and care. The apostle Paul knew that some had wandered away from faith (1:6), and that the Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon it (4:1). So when he wrote to Timothy, he urged him to live out the Gospel carefully for his hearers’ sake and his own (4:15-16). The same concern underlies the instructions in 5:11-15. Younger widows were not to be given regular financial aid (v.11) because doing so would leave them vulnerable to two temptations. We also need to beware these temptations, whatever our age, gender or marital status. They are the dangers of:

being distracted (vs.11b-12). Some scholars suggest that widows may have had to promise not to remarry before they received aid from the church, and that therefore any who later wanted to marry again were going back on their word. This is why the NIV reads, “they have broken their first pledge” in v.12. It’s likely, however, that the meaning really is “ they have abandoned their former faith” (ESV). V.11 says, “ when their sensual desires overcome their dedication to Christ, they want to marry .” When fulfilling a deep-seated longing becomes more important to you than trusting Jesus, you have been distracted. This is a danger for all of us; professing Christians have abandoned their former faith to have an affair, or pursue a career, or take an easier path. They have believed the devil’s lie that there is a better life to be had without God, said, “I want this more than I want Jesus” and brought judgement on themselves (v.12). This judgement may be final. There is no guarantee that those who sin today will be able to repent tomorrow. We need to heed this warning, and not be distracted.

becoming a distraction (vs.13-14). If the younger widows were put on the list to receive regular financial aid from the church, they would have been vulnerable to the temptation of being idle, and of becoming gossips and busybodies (v.13). The danger here is that they then would distract others, “saying things they ought not to” (v.13). When Christians lose the focus on serving Christ in their everyday lives, their speech doesn’t help others to follow Him. What they talk about distracts others from leaning on Christ (i.e. trusting in His saving grace), from living for Christ (i.e. doing everything “as unto the Lord”) and from looking to Christ (i.e. to His coming and to eternity). The way to avoid causing this danger is to know your calling - to have your own role and responsibilities in which you serve the Lord. Paul was led to share his wish that the younger widows would marry, have children and manage their homes (v.14) rather than being financially supported but without any role. We are to see the danger in idleness; every believer therefore should find a way in which she/he may serve. Then we will be an encouragement, and not a distraction, to one another.

These two dangers here are real and serious. “ Some have in fact already turned away to follow Satan” (v.15). We avoid them both by keeping our eyes fixed on the Lord. He was never distracted; He followed the path all the way to the cross. He holds us and leads us with His word of truth as we live out the Gospel of God’s grace in Him.

Study Thirty-three: 1 Timothy 5:3-16 (v)

The first half of 1 Timothy 5:14 records the apostle Paul’s wish that younger widows marry, have children and manage their homes. The rest of the verse then gives his reason for this counsel. It is “ to give the enemy no opportunity for slander.” These words draw attention to realities that we best not forget. 1 Timothy 5:14b speaks of:

insults hurled. The last phrase in v.14 (“for slander”) paints a scene where people are speaking hurtfully to, or mockingly about, a believer. If you are simply Christian, you could be on the receiving end of this because someone scoffs at the thought of trusting in Jesus (John 9:28). Insults also might be hurled when a stalwart Christian takes a stand. (The ‘flying Scotsman’ Eric Liddell was called a traitor when he would not run in an Olympic final on a Sunday!) In v.14, however, the thought is of insults being hurled at a sinning Christian, who does things that even people outside the church condemn, and who provides a reason to scorn. Paul was thinking of the sin of gossip (v.13), but many other sins will give rise to snide comments too. The reality is that Christians sin; when it happens, remember Galatians 6:1 and seek to restore them, whilst being careful lest you yourself become the reason why insults are hurled.

opportunity seized. The abuse directed at sinning Christians gives the enemy an opportunity (v.14). Although the word is used (in the plural) to describe opponents of the Gospel, here “enemy” likely refers to Satan (v.15). He seeks to devour Christians (1 Peter 5:8) - by leading them to renounce their faith or by leaving them spiritually incapacitated through guilt, grief and longing. He also tries to destroy the Church by persuading it to tolerate sin and so drift from the Saviour, or by provoking its members to turn on one another because of insults hurled at them. Ultimately, he wants to defame Christ, and tries to discredit the Gospel that talks of repentance and transformed lives. The evil one will use any opportunity in this spiritual battle. God’s Word here shows that even how we care for the poor may provide Satan with an opening. We always need to be mindful of his schemes (2 Corinthians 2:11).

measures taken. The apostle’s counsel was aimed at leaving the enemy withno opportunity (v.14). He wanted no one to be open to blame (v.7) so that Satan would find no weak spots to attack. How should we follow Paul’s example of carefulness? Here, the steps were basically practical; for us too there may be simple measures we may take to leave ourselves less vulnerable to the temptation to sin. Also, because the battle is spiritual, we need to be strong in the Lord andprayerful (Ephesians 6:10-18). Thirdly, we need to beprepared. 1 Timothy was written to show how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household (3:15) and it points us to the good news of Jesus (3:16). The Lord whoappeared in a body and died for sinners was taken up in glory (3:16), and where He is now is where all who trust in Him will be at last. By knowing Him and what He has done for them, believers are prepared for standing against temptation. Living in keeping with your faith in Him is living out the Gospel.

Study Thirty-four: 1 Timothy 5:17-18

What makes a church a ‘good’ church? What should be well thought of, and valued? These verses in 1 Timothy ch.5 give the answer, but what they say may surprise you!

leading well. According to v.17, elders who direct the affairs of the church well are to be greatly appreciated. The word that the NIV translates as “ direct the affairs” (and the KJV as “rule”) literally means “stand before.” It suggests three things that elders are to be doing well. These are:

leading onward - to ‘stand before’ may mean to act as a guide or to lead the way. The Church always needs to be reminded of its calling, and helped to pursue it.

living faithfully - to ‘stand before’ may mean to set an example. We all instinctively look for someone to show us how to act. The Church needs godly role models.

looking after - to ‘stand before’ may mean to take an interest in. It is a great blessing to have people who care about you and want to see you well established in Christ.

Paul was telling Timothy to encourage the Christians in Ephesus to be thankful for elders who sought to keep the church true to its calling, set an example of godliness and showed a real spiritual concern for them. People like this are a God-given help in any church, and they are to be honoured for their work’s sake.

labouring in the Word. The last part of v.17 focuses on a subgroup of the elders - those whose work is preaching and teaching. It is because of this that Presbyterians speak of ‘ruling elders’ and ‘teaching elders’ (ministers). The word work implies hard toil, and behind the words preaching and teaching {KJV, word and doctrine) lie the two sides of a minister’s task. To labour in the Word is to work out what the Bible is teaching, and then work in its truth to people’s lives. Paul left Timothy in Ephesus because some Christians there wanted to teach the Word, but hadn’t grasped how it all points to Jesus and brings us to live out the Gospel (see 1 Timothy 1:3-11). All of us need people who will lead us to see the Lord Jesus in all the Scriptures, and who will urge us to trust in Him, live in Him, grow in Him and stand in Him. God’s Word here tells us to appreciate those who feed us a sound diet of Biblical truth!

holding worthy. And the ruling and teaching elders who do their work well are to be considered worthy of double honour (v.17). They are to be respected and thanked for what they do. 1 Timothy 5:18 shows that there is a thought of reward here too. The apostle quoted a law from Deuteronomy 25:9 about an ox treading out the grain. He used the same verse in 1 Corinthians 9:1-14 to teach those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel . The law about the ox has to do with appreciating what is being done for you - as do the words of Jesus that also are quoted here (see Luke 10:7). When we come to know that Jesus Christ is Lord, trust in Him as Saviour and grasp that godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come (4:8), then we appreciate the efforts of those who devote themselves to helping us to know, remember and live out the Gospel.

Study Thirty-five: 1 Timothy 5:19-25

When Paul wrote to him, Timothy was acting as the apostle’s representative among the Christians in Ephesus (see 1:3). In some ways his role was like that of a minister (see 4:13), but in other ways it was quite different. In relation to the church elders, for example, Timothy wielded the authority of an apostle. Even so, the church was not his church. Equally, it was not Paul’s church, or the Ephesians’ church. It was the church of the living God (3:15). Wherever the Word of God is rightly preached, and the sacraments rightly administered, the true Church is to be found. The verses here remind us that the true Church is God’s Church, and show us what that means.

The Place for Discipline. Because the Church is God’s Church, its members, like Timothy, must fight the good fight, holding on to faith and a good conscience (1:18). The Word of God disciplines us for this; it trains and equips believers to live out the Gospel. At times, however, something in addition to the regular ministry of the Word is needed. 1 Timothy 5:19-21 describes how elders are to be disciplined, if necessary. The mechanism actually is the same as for any church member. It follows the process that the Lord Jesus set out for the disciples (see Matthew 18:15-17) and says that a matter is to be brought to the attention of the church’s oversight only if the one who is sinning won’t listen when two or three others point out the fault. Those who keep on sinning are to be rebuked publicly, so that others may take warning (v.20), because sin is serious. The church is God’s Church and we live in His presence always (v.21).

The Place for Discernment. Because the Church is God’s Church, its elders carry a great responsibility (see 3:1). Paul told Timothy not to be hasty in the laying on of hands (v.22). He was to take his time before giving anyone recognition as an elder. V.22 explains the motive behind this - “do not share in the sins of others.” Were Timothy to receive someone into the eldership who was not above reproach (see 3:2), it could have been interpreted as saying that sin doesn’t really matter all that much. Vs.24-25 establish the method Timothy was to adopt. Some cases would be straight-forward: thesins of some men are obvious (v.24) and so are some good deeds (v.25). In other cases, there would be a need for a thorough investigation or even for a trial period. The sins of others trail behind them (v.24); and good deeds that at first are not obvious cannot be hidden (v.25). There is no need for haste, because the God who has elect angels to do His bidding (v.21) will provide the leaders that His Church requires. There is a place for discernment because the Church is God’s Church.

The Place for Dedication. There is a personal note from Paul to Timothy in v.23. Because some in Ephesus were given to drunkenness (3:3), Timothy set an example to the believers by drinking only water. This was costly to his health: Timothy had frequent illnesses, so Paul told him to use a little wine. The point for us to note is that every part of Timothy’s life was dedicated to living out the Gospel, so that God’s truth would be seen in the Church’s life (see 3:15). Timothy knew that he was part of the Church - and that the Church is nothing less than the Church of the living God.

Study Thirty-six: 1 Timothy 6:1-2

As he wrote his letter to Timothy, Paul gave instructions concerning particular groups of people in the church in Ephesus, and linked his remarks with the thought of honour (see 5:3 (KJV) - widows; 5:17 - elders). He next wrote about slaves, and said that they should consider their masters worthy of all respect (or honour, 6:1). Slavery is no longer an issue for us, but we might draw lessons for the world of employment. We also may dig a little deeper into these verses, and find that they have a message for all of us, on how we live out the Gospel of God’s grace in Jesus. They teach:

How you think will affect what you do. In 1 Timothy 6:1-2, the main verb in each verse has to do with how slaves think of their masters. We have “consider” in v.1 and the word behind “show less respect” in v.2 means “ despise” (see KJV). Both words steer us to think about how we think; both verses show how our actions reveal our thoughts. For example, if one Christian woman works for another, and asks for special treatment (such as getting time off to do “stuff for the church”), it is clear that she feels less sense of duty to this employer than she would to a boss with no church connections. How she thinks is affecting what she does. Someone might argue, “I am professional. I don’t let my personal opinions affect how I do my job.” But how you think still matters: God knows - and judges - your heart (see Jeremiah 17:9-10). God’s Word says slaves “ should consider their masters worthy of all respect” (v.1). This is not saying you should pretend a scoundrel is a saint. It is telling us to respect the position (i.e., the duty required by the 5th Commandment), to remember that each person is made in the image of God, and to reflect the practice of God in His grace. He does not treat us as our sins deserve, but according to his love (see Psalm 103).

What you do will affect how others think of Jesus. The instructions to slaves in 1 Timothy 6:1-2 are backed up by reasons. In v.1, the reason is “ so that God’s Name and our teaching may not be slandered.” If a slave became a Christian and then was less respectful to his master, the master probably would blame the slave’s new-found faith. Thus, the character (Name) of God and the truth of the Gospel ( our teaching) would be slandered; i.e., untrue notions would be held, or expressed, about them. Again, if a Christian slave girl showed less respect (v.2) to her believing mistress, her owner might be tempted not to share the Gospel with any others in her household! On the other hand, if their service was even better, maids could show the mistress the power of the Gospel in their lives. They would be seen to do every duty as for one dear to them (v.2); each task would be seen to be infused with love. What was true for slaves then is still true for us now. How a Christian treats other people will affect how those people think of Jesus. Christians serve Jesus; we are under the yoke to Him (see Matthew 11:28-30). Because the Lord Jesus is the Christian’s Master, we want our lives to commend Him. And our Lord became a Servant for us. He showed that His own are dear to Him; He proved His love in the fullest way possible. He laid down His life. Whatever our position in life, we honour our Master as we live out the Gospel - in our thinking and our doing - so that we point everyone to Him.

Study Thirty-seven: 1 Timothy 6:3-5

The last sentence in 1 Timothy 6: 2 is “ These are the things you are to teach and urge on them.” Paul knew the importance of Christians receiving sound instruction (v.3). He understood that only faith in the Gospel will produce lives that display God’s truth (3:15). The Holy Spirit also led him to see that people incline away from this truth (see 1:3, 4:1; 2 Timothy 4:3) and so, through his words to Timothy, the apostle once again warned the believers in Ephesus about those who were teaching false doctrines. Note what God’s Word says about them:

They bring a different message Within the wide spectrum of Christendom there are some whose message is at odds with the truth of the Gospel. They may preach law (e.g. “Here’s how you’ll earn God’s goodwill”) or licence (e.g. “Live as you like; God doesn’t judge), but their teaching does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ (v.3). What they teach does not lead people to yield their lives to love and serve the Lord through faith in His finished work. In other words, it is not godly teaching. Always test what you hear against the Bible’s message of grace!

… that reveals a diseased mind V.3 implies that the false teachers never have embraced Jesus Christ as He is freely offered to us in the Gospel. V.4 calls them conceited (i.e., too full of self to point to Jesus) and says they ‘ understand nothing.’ No amount of intellect or learning can overcome a refusal to believe (Matthew 11:25). The words ‘ unhealthy interest’ (KJV ‘doting’) suggest a diseased mind which fixates on controversies and quarrels about words, and remind us of what Jesus said about those who strain out a gnat but swallow a camel (Matthew 23:24). When you come to the Bible, be humble and teachable. Remember you come to meet with the Lord.

… which breeds divisive malice 1 Timothy 1:5 says that love comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 1 Timothy 6:4-5 say an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words creates a different set of attitudes! The words envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction describe a poisonous atmosphere in which people can feel they never are fully accepted, but ever are being assessed. This is the complete opposite to grace, and it develops when the truth of the Lord is forgotten. To display the glory of God’s salvation, we always need to keep our eyes on Jesus, and live out the Gospel, in sincere faith.

… and results in deluded men. If people do not believe the Gospel, then they effectively are listening to a different message. 1 Timothy 6:5 describes the outcome. It speaks of men of corrupt mind, because only by the renewing of the mind through the Gospel are we transformed to test and approve what God’s will is (Romans 12:2). It speaks of being robbed of the truth, because the evil one will snatch away what is not received (Matthew 13:19). It speaks of a mistaken supposition - ‘that godliness is a means to financial gain.’ If these two are mixed up, the message has been mangled! There is a vast difference between getting on in this world and living to glorify God. We find true godliness in the truth of God’s grace, as we live out the Gospel.

Study Thirty-eight: 1 Timothy 6:6-10

The word godliness is used at least eight times in 1 Timothy. It describes what is seen in those who trust and follow Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. From one angle, godliness is what the Lord produces in the lives of believers through His finished work (see 3:16); from another, it is what believers come to display as they follow His instructions (see 3:15). In short, godliness means living out the Gospel.

In church life, however, both the reason for godliness and the reality of living out the Gospel may be debased. TheSpirit (4:1) led Paul to see how false teachers who don’t agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ (6:3) reduce godliness to just a means of winning prestige or making money off others (6:5). To counter this, the apostle went on to highlight one facet of living out the Gospel. 1 Timothy 6:6 says, “But godliness with contentment is great gain.” The Gospel proclaims Jesus Christ and salvation through Him (see 1:15); all who believe the Gospel are reconciled to God and find He is what they truly desire. Bishop Augustine (354-430) said, “Thou hast made us for Thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds rest in Thee.” Real godliness includes a true contentment, as these verses in 1 Timothy ch.6 explain.

Contentment means you’re thinking of the right place (vs.7-8). A number of Bible passages (e.g. Ecclesiastes 4:15) remind us that we’re only passing through this world, that we bring nothing into it, and we can take nothing out of it (v.7). The Lord challenged people who were caught up in their earthly goods (see Luke 12:13-21, 16:19-31, 18:18-30). He told His disciples to sit lightly to this world (Matt 6:19-21) and to steward all they owned wisely (Luke 16:1-14) in the light of eternity. In Christ we have the hope of n eternal home, and because of this believers even have “ joyfully accepted the confiscation of [their] property” because they knew they had “better and lasting possessions” (Hebrews 10:34). This is being content (1 Timothy 6:8).

Contentment means you’re thinking of the right prize (v.9). Paul also wrote to the Philippians about being content (Phil 4:11), and told them of his desire for the prize of knowing “ Christ and the power of His resurrection” (Phil 3:10). In v.9 here, however, he speaks of people who want to get rich and describes the whirlpool that sucks them down toruin and destruction. It begins with not resistingtemptation - they set their eyes on the wrong prize - and soon the trap is sprung. They are caught up in their own desires. These desires are foolish and harmful because they look to things in this world, and not God, to provide satisfaction (see Jeremiah 2:11-13).

Contentment means you’re thinking of the right practice (v.10). The Word of God here often is misquoted. It doesn’t say that money is the root of all evil. Money can be put to good uses! The Bible says that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. All sorts of depraved, violent and heartless actions have begun from a lust for wealth - from factory sweatshops to petty theft, from tax evasion to drug smuggling - and many griefs have pierced those who havewandered from the faith to chase it. The Lord warned that the deceitfulness of wealth would lead some astray (Mark 4:19) and called His disciples to seek first God’s kingdom and righteousness (Matt 6:33). In other words, Jesus tells us to find contentment in Him, and to live out the Gospel.

Study Thirty-nine: 1 Timothy 6:11-12

Just as the Lord’s healing touch brought a real and noticeable change to the lives of the blind or mute or lame, so His salvation makes a difference to the lives of those who follow Him. Such “living out the Gospel” is, in one way, innate to the believer; but it actually takes a determined effort, as these verses show. They teach:

There is a battle to be fought. V.12 begins “Fight the good fight of the faith” and thus calls us to choose to trust in the Lord Jesus as He is freely offered in the Gospel. It also warns that trusting in Christ will mean facing a sustained struggle. Followers of Jesus live in this world among people whose values can be very different. To be a Christian may mean standing against the tide of public opinion! Moreover, the Bible explains that believers are given a new nature but, until their bodies too are redeemed, there is a constant battle with the flesh (see Romans 7:21-25). There also is another dimension to the conflict: our struggle is ... against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:12). There is a constant battle against the devil. The thought of such foes might be enough to put anyone off, but God’s Word reminds us (i) that this is the good fight - we’re taking our stand for the right - and (ii) that it is a fight of faith, because Jesus already has won the battle, and the chief part for us now is to look to Him, to remember what He has given and what He promises, and to live this out through the enabling presence of His Spirit.

The battle involves fleeing. Victory usually does not involve retreat, but it can involve escape! In v.11 we read, “But you, man of God, flee from all this.” We find what is meant by “all this” by looking back to vs.3-10. These verses describe several harmful actions, such as malicious talk (see vs.4-5), and we should resolve that such things will never be found coming from us. We need to realise, however, that these actions spring from heart attitudes. 1 Timothy 6:3-10 names the love of money (v.10) anunhealthy interest in controversies (v.4) and not agreeing to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ (v.3) as attitudes people hold in their hearts. To flee these we need to run to the Saviour, the only One who can change the heart. In His presence, we see these sins in their true nature but, by faith in the Saviour we may say, “I am ‘ of God’ now (v.11); those sins are not what I am anymore.”

The battle involves following. To live out the Gospel means more than leaving behind sinful actions and attitudes. V.11 names six qualities to pursue. Two of them ( righteousness and godliness) are to do with what is seen in one’s approach to life. The next two (faith and love) are to do with what is found in one’s heart. The last two ( endurance and gentleness) have to do with what is seen in one’s response to people and circumstances. All six are found in the Lord Jesus, and to pursue them (v.11) is not to focus on them as goals in themselves, but to follow after Him. They are ways to describe what it means to live the eternal life that He gives. The apostle reminded Timothy that he had professed his trust in Jesus - “ you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses” - and urged him then to “ take hold of the eternal life to which you were called” (v.12). As Lazarus heard the Lord calling him to life again (John 11:43), so in the Gospel we hear the Saviour calling us to live. By faith we take hold of the life that He gives, and live out the Gospel as we follow Him.

Study Forty: 1 Timothy 6:13-16

The words “Fight the good fight of the faith” (v.12) tell us that living out the Gospel usually involves a struggle. Timothy was well aware of this, but the apostle’s charge (v.13) includes four reasons why he should keep going. These reasons would have been heard by those who listened in as Timothy read Paul’s letter, and they are still in Scripture today, so that we may note them too. To keep going in the Christian life:

remember who God is (v.13). God gives life to everything. He brings all living creatures into existence and upholds their lives in this world. This includes your life; the hymn is right to say, “I cannot draw another breath unless Thou give me power.” We may draw three conclusions. First, the One who sustains your life can carry you through every situation He calls you to face. Second, if you don’t live for God, you still are living by Him, and will account for how you used the life He gave you. Third, the lives of those who make your life difficult also are in their Maker’s hand (see John 19:11). All of these points encourage us to keep going in the Christian life.

remember what Jesus has done (v.13). Jesus sets the example and pattern for us; He faithfully followed the path His Father set before Him. Jesus made the good confessionwhile testifying before Pontius Pilate. The NIV translation, however, is slightly misleading here. V.13 points not only to the Lord’s trial, but to the mockery, scourging and crucifixion that followed. It reminds us that Jesus died for sinners. He therefore is not only our example and pattern; He is also our enabler and power. All who trust in Him are united to Him in His risen life. The Gospel tells us that “ Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20) - and by Him, we can keep going (see Philippians 4:13).

remember what Jesus will do (v.14). The appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ is His coming in such glory that each earthly ruler is put in the shade and every earthly resident acknowledges Him as Lord (see Matthew 24:30). The charge - “keep this command without spot or blame” - is reminiscent of the parables where a master gives his servants responsibilities until he returns (see Matthew 24:45-51 for example). Some may fear that they already have made a mess of living out the Gospel, but the expectation of the Lord’s coming leads us to look forward and use well the time that is still ours. From now on, keep going. Always be ready; God will bring about the Lord’s appearing in His own time, and we do not know the day or hour.

remember who God is (vs.15-16). Admittedly, this is the same as the first point, but the doxology (words of praise) in these verses is to lift the gaze of faith to behold our God. The words highlight His sovereignty (King of kings and Lord of lords), His sufficiency (blessed indicates that He is happy; immortal, that He does not need anything to sustain Him) and supremacy (since no one can hold the One who lives in unapproachable light up to scrutiny). The Gospel declares that sinners are reconciled to God and brought to glorify and enjoy Him through the Saviour, Jesus Christ. The vision of God here leads all who truly receive the Gospel to cry, “ to Him be honour and might forever” (v.16) and to keep on serving Him who is worthy of all praise. This is what the apostle wanted Timothy to do, and what God’s Word leads us to do. It calls us to live out the Gospel.

Study Forty-one: 1 Timothy 6:17-19

If we want to explain what the Gospel says, we soon begin to speak about eternal life. It is to this that the words, “life that is truly life” (v.19, NIV) refer. The words “take hold of the life” mean the same as “ take hold of eternal life” in v.12. There is a nuance to this, however, that very much is part of the Gospel. Taking hold of eternal life is both something we do in the present, when we believe in the Lord Jesus and receive salvation, and something we do in the future when the Lord comes, the dead are raised and the living are changed (see 1 Corinthians 15:50-57). Living out the Gospel therefore may be described as living in light of the future; this is the emphasis of the teaching in vs.17-19. The apostle Paul was led to give Timothy some instructions for believers who are rich in the present world (v.17). They are to live in the light of what is to come, and thus to live out the Gospel. They are told:

don’t bank on passing riches (v.17). The two negative commands in the verse speak to a fruit and its root. The fruit (which is seen) is the arrogance or superior air that will come from focussing on how you have what others don’t. It is easy to see this arrogance in others, but we need to watch for it in our own attitudes. It grows from the root of trusting in wealth, which is so uncertain. Because it seems so natural to feel secure if the bank balance is healthy, we may not realise that this is a subtle form of idolatry, where one’s faith is in something other than God. The phrase, “ this present world” is there to remind us that this world will pass away. When the storm comes, houses that are built on the sand fall flat (see Matthew 7:26-27).

do bank on the rich Provider (v.17). Timothy was to tell those who are rich to hope in God, who richly provides (v.17). In doing so, they would be living in the light of the future. The word “us” indicates that the teaching here holds true for every believer; the word “ everything” shows that whatever we have we should see as a gift from God. The adverb “richly” reminds us that there is nothing niggardly about God’s giving. He loves to give; He freely gave His Son. He gives for our enjoyment - He delights in the pure delight of His creatures. It is God who, through His Son Jesus Christ, has prepared the eternity that one hymn-writer called a “land of pure delight”! With faith in Jesus, we may put our hope in God who provides, and be sure that He will not fail. This does not condone carelessness or laziness (see Proverbs 6:6-11), but it does comfort us as we live by faith (see Philippians 4:19).

do bank in the proper riches (v.18-19). Living out the Gospel is living in faith in God’s promises for the future. This is why v.19 speaks of laying up treasureas a firm foundation for the coming age. We could speak of this as investing in eternity; or we may remember that the Lord observed “ where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). How to lay up this treasure is described in v.18. It is by doing good, that is by being prepared to serve, rather than arrogant, and more specifically by being rich in good deeds. If helping others is capital, deal in millions! This is then developed even further in the call to be generous and willing to share. The idea is to use what God has given you to help others in their need. He freely gave what we needed see (1 Timothy 1:12-17). We take hold of the life that is truly life when we reflect His grace in our attitude and actions. We live out the Gospel.

Study Forty-two: 1 Timothy 6:20-21

The last words in 1Timothy are “Grace be with you” (v.21). Grace is the heart of the Gospel. It’s by grace that we’re saved, through faith (Ephesians 2:8), and by faith we gain access through Jesus Christ to stand in the grace of God (Romans 5:2). In other words, the Gospel announces how God, for no reason other than He wanted to, has reconciled sinners to Himself through the death of His Son and how all who come to trust in Jesus now have a new, God-blessed life in Him. To live out the Gospel, then, is to live in the grace of God. In v.19, Paul refers to this as “ the life that is truly life.” With that thought in mind, he returned to the main point of his letter and gave a final, two-sided, instruction to Timothy. Here’s the call with which the letter ends:

Keep Safe. “O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care” (v.20). If you win a trophy, you might put it on display in your home, but you also will keep it safe (and polished!) for handing back at the end of the year. Everyone who comes to faith in Christ is entrusted with something more precious than silverware. Just like Timothy, we are entrusted with the good news of Jesus Christ, and we are to preserve, or guard, this Gospel so that we can pass it on unalloyed. There is, however, more to this: the Gospel is not only a treasure to preserve, but a truth to practise. Christians should look to the Gospel each and every day to be reminded that their trespasses are forgiven and they enjoy the goodwill of God, because of the once-for-all death of the now risen and reigning Lord Jesus Christ - and then live out this Gospel!
The best way to guard anything is not to let it out of your sight. If you trust in Jesus as your Saviour, keep these precious truths ever before you: (i) God the Son loved me and gave Himself for me (Galatians 2:20); (ii) God the Father is sovereignly at work, in every circumstance of life, to conform me to the likeness of His Son (Romans 8:28-29); (iii) God the Spirit is with us forever (John 14:15-16). With such truths of grace to cling to, you keep safe the Gospel.

Keep Clear. One side of the final instruction focuses on the deposit entrusted; the other on the danger encountered. Paul’s last command to Timothy in this letter (v.20) is “Turn away.” Timothy was always to avoid two things, both of which are described as godless. These two things are, first, vacuous comments - the chatter that may say much, but nothing of any value to bring conviction of sin or commend the Saviour - and second, contradictory views - opposing ideas that may be put forward in Biblical language but which undermine the Gospel of Grace. Both of these things come from what is falsely called knowledge (v.20); that is, they are the comments and views of those who “ want to be teachers of the law, but … do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm ” (1 Timothy 1:7). Timothy was to keep clear of any and every supposed “insight” into the Bible that did not point to the Gospel of salvation through faith alone in Christ alone by grace alone. And so must we.

The reason to keep clear is given in v.21: by professing a different understanding of the Bible, some had wandered from the faith. Anything that leads you away from the Gospel of the grace of God will bring you away from the life that is truly life (v.19). So we make the final prayer of 1 Timothy our prayer too. “Lord, may Your grace be with us always, for by Your grace and in Your grace we live out the Gospel. Amen”


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and to exercise our priesthood in prayer

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