1Tim 1:1-2 This first epistle of the Apostle Paul to his spiritual son, Timothy, is very practical in its character. It is what is called a pastoral epistle. How wonderful for a father to have a son, meaning offspring who are interested in their father’s life and work. How wonderful for a son to have a father who can instruct him in the right way, both by example and by instruction. Paul is writing to an individual who represents him where the apostle has sent him; and, as Paul writes elsewhere, he represents the Messiah. We all represent somebody other than ourselves, whether our family, our company, our country, our God. Paul first met Timothy in Lystra, and he had a good reputation among the disciples in Jesus there. (Acts 16:1-4) In this first epistle, Timothy is in Ephesus, where he was a pastor, teacher, and evangelist. The epistle was probably written around 56-57AD.
Timothy is a young man who grew up with a believing Jewish mother and grandmother. The practical instructions which the Apostle teaches and demonstrates to Timothy, so that he, too, will both live and teach them, are based on the doctrine – a foundational truth – that God is in Messiah/Christ. Knowing this truth produces holiness, sanctification: separation to God for His purpose, with the desire and power to live that out. This doctrine, this truth, must be preserved by believers and in the churches. It is not to be weakened. It is a doctrine of grace and not of works: we can not earn our own righteousness, nor save ourselves; it took God Himself – nothing less – to come in the person of His Son in order to give us the gift of eternal life to sinners through faith in the good news. Church leaders and the conduct within congregations are to set a high standard of purity and godliness. Paul sets himself as an example of this grace for the benefit of all future repentant believers. Without this foundation of grace, the faith of many will be shipwrecked, for the conscience will not be good if our salvation is one of works of the law: we will either build up pride, or else become greatly frustrated and depressed. False doctrines do come into the churches, as the epistle warns, but the Lord in His wisdom has instruction for us in such a situation. There is a spiritual battle to be waged, and perseverance through them until the end, to see the believers and the churches fulfill their calling and responsibility of being holy to God because of who Jesus Christ is and what He has done to purchase our salvation.
Prayer is a necessary part of the life of believers in a world that opposes the gospel and the Kingdom of God, and that Jesus the Nazarene/Yeshua haNatzri is the King of the Jews, and of the Kingdom of God. We are weak, but God is strong! Yeshua came in weakness by taking on flesh and blood, and He prayed to His Father in Heaven. The House of God is a house of prayer for all nations, and persons, for there is but one God and one Savior and Mediator between God and man. We as priests are to stand before God on behalf of those without access. Those who do not believe in the Son of God do not have access to God the Father. How can I say that?: because we come to the Father in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Those who do not believe in Him do not come to God in His name. God is all-knowing and everywhere, and does show mercy and compassion to whom He will, even to unbelievers, when He answers the desires of their hearts. But those unbelievers did not realize that their ‘prayers’ were being heard by the one true living God.
God’s house is holy, and elders and deacons are appointed to maintain this within themselves, and in governing and serving the household of faith in the local churches. Every believer – with a position or not – should want to have the character required of those whom the Apostle are suited to rule and serve. Each born-again believer indwelt by the Holy Spirit is also a house of God, and we are commanded to be holy, for our God is holy. Not all who are called are chosen: Israel is a chosen nation to be holy unto the LORD, but not all Israelis or Jews believe that or live in the truth of that. The tribe of Levi was separated unto YHVH as the holy priestly tribe among the people, but not all Levites were faithful to that call and covenant. Not all Christians are believers, or born-again. All things work together for good to those who are not only called, but also who love God.
This epistle foresees the falling away, the apostacy, of the end-times, which is relevant for us now who are living in those days; and we can see it all around, both within and without the community of the true faith. There is a general falling away from fundamental truth in the world-at-large, and especially in western Christianized nations, where even natural gender and sex are being challenged. This is a consequence of Darwinian evolution theory being accepted and taught as truth, replacing God’s word and revelation about origins and destinies. There are pastors who marry homosexuals and lesbians. There are Christian leaders who do not believe that God was in Messiah/Christ for all that that means. Denying that, they say that there are many ways to God and to be saved. The falling away from the truths of the faith includes the teaching that YHVH God is finished with Israel and Jewish people as His chosen people and nation, which includes His chosen land and city.
Paul gives special instructions to the congregation, and to those who officially hold responsible positions in it, regarding situations that are part of reality, both in the world, and also within the Body of Christ in the world.
So, in this introduction to this practical instructive letter to a son, and to all who would be sons of God, we have five areas covered by the Apostle: the doctrine of grace; prayers of believers; the House of God; the apostacy in the end-times; and special instructions in sometimes difficult situations. May we learn from and apply the wisdom given to Paul, some of which is hard to understand. (2Pt 3:14-16)
This article originally appeared on Streams in the Negev, March 1, 2021, and reposted with permission.