Bible Book of 1 Timothy Commentary | Free Bible Commentary | Agape Flashcards
“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble…”
The Free Bible eBook Series is a simple and definitely fallible (and possibly wrong at times) interpretation of the different books of the Bible. When deciding to share this series it was because of one vision and idea, that average Christians (denomination irrelevant) can share their thoughts about the Bible and like Ecclesiastes states, “they can help each other succeed.” The content of these eBooks should not be taken at face value but compared with your own understanding of the scriptures discussed.
One of the great common day ironies of Christianity is that although our faith may be the most important thing of our lives, it is also the thing we are most hesitant to share. It makes me sad when my few Christian friends and I spend time together with no mention of Christ. It makes me cringe to think that strangers who are Christians will talk about everything under the sun but will hesitate to share the joys of their faith.
This series is crafted with untrained hands but with a hearth full of Christ’s love. It may be informative, it may be revealing, and with God’s Grace, it may be enlightening. The goal though is for it to be a conversation piece, a common ground Christians can relate to and share, and a way to ensure no one falls alone.
The book of 1 Timothy is a book of the New Testament of the Bible which originated as a letter from Paul to a man named Timothy in the city of Ephesus, Turkey. Timothy was a relatively young but passionate leader in the Church of Ephesus, but he was facing some challenges with which Paul wanted to help.
I like to consider 1 Timothy a book on New Testament doctrine. That may sound a bit boring, but trust me it isn’t! To the contrary it is quite fascinating seeing the struggles of the young church in learning how to deal with its new relationship with God and its independence from the strictures and formality of the Law.
The principle lesson I take away from 1 Timothy is this: God is immensely more intelligent and complicated than we can fathom. We can argue endlessly about the details of his reign and our servitude, but in the end it doesn’t matter and can actually be destructive. Love God with all of your heart, don’t stress the details, leave those to God, and shine your light to the world.
1 Timothy Chapter 1- Talkers and Law Abiders
“Nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith.”
-1 Timothy 1:4
1 Timothy 1 sets the stage for the book and what I like to call its defining characteristic, which is “doctrine” of New Testament Philosophy. As we work through the chapters, this characteristic will become clearer. This particular chapter has a few golden nuggets and I’d say some pretty fundamental “doctrine” of New Testament Philosophy.
The first discussion of philosophy is found starting with vs 4 where we are told to not waste our time in endless discussion of religious matters and spiritual pedigrees. This is a great point that I feel can be interpreted as “God’s love is designed to be simple.” Our spiritual lives are a relationship with Him, not one of complex and mindboggling theories or tasks and milestones we have to complete. His love is simple so that we can all love enjoying and understanding it. I think it is important to keep this in mind with our interaction with both believers and non-believers. We simply love them and show them God’s love. We don’t win others to Christ with endless discussions and our spiritual pedigrees but with the shocking power of His unconditional love.
In vs 5 Paul explains to Timothy that the point of his teachings is that all believers should be filled with love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and genuine faith. I love how Paul puts this, and really it is a very condensed and efficient way to explain the morality aspect of the much bigger religious experience called Christianity. By living moral lives, we can have a love that is pure of heart and conscious clearing, which in turn puts us in a love filled, stable environment that is conducive to the building and practice of our faith. The practice of our faith is our act of joining God where he is working. I feel like if you consider these three aspects, analyze them in your life, they are indicative of where you are standing morally with God. If you feel you are loving with a pure heart (unselfishly) and you have a clear conscience, then I think you can likely say you are living morally as God asked you to.
In vs 9, we get this possibly controversial nugget, “For the law was not intended for those who do what is right.” This just makes me chuckle a little bit, because I think of how the fundamental moral benchmarks of Sunday morning Christianity are the Ten Commandments, which at a certain time were meant for God’s people but now they are meant for the lawless! This makes sense though I think. I mean God’s law I think can be seen as a moral compass for the whole world. Even if you don’t believe, you’ve still heard of the Ten Commandments and other moral principles. It’s like God saying “please, at least do these very basic moral things.” They are also a benchmark to which the lawless can be compared to. Anyways, for Christians this means that since God’s laws are for the lawless, then those laws are the very, very basics of how we should be living our lives. We should move well beyond that.
Last idea I would like to point out comes from vs 19, where Paul says that some people have deliberately violated their consciences; as a result, their faith has been shipwrecked. I feel like I’ve argued quite often that morality is a tiny part of our relationship with God, which I feel strongly that it is, but from what I’ve said it may be misconstrued as not being important. To the contrary, it does have a significant effect. Our faith is directly tied into our moral standing with God. Your faith cannot stand strong if you are sinning knowingly against God and you will never be able to move beyond the baby teachings and relationship with God. You will always be sitting there in your highchair eating baby food from a spoon. As more mature Christians, it is almost as if the morality aspect of our faith is behind us because it should be so ingrained and so basic that it takes almost no effort or thought. When we reach this point, we can do what God really wants us to do, which is impact the world and show it His light.
1 Timothy Chapter 2- The Great Modern Controversy
“For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.”
-1 Timothy 2:5
When I started reading 1 Timothy, I had no clue it contained one of the most hotly debated passages in all of the bible. And honestly as I was bee bopping along in my reading, it blindsided me like plaaaaowwww! I’m sure feminists around the world have risen up in arms against this particular chapter, and I honestly can see why. I would say in the context of modern social progression, vs 2:11-15 may be the most controversial and feather ruffling in the Bible. And honestly, I can’t say I understand these sections of verses either. But hey what the heck, let’s take a gander at it.
So the culprit scripture is this, “Women should learn quietly and submissively. I do not let women teach men or have authority over them. Let them listen quietly. For God made Adam first, and afterward he made Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived by Satan. The woman was deceived, and sin was the result. But women will be saved through childbearing, assuming they continue to live in faith, love, holiness, and modesty.”
When I read this I was like “whoa what the, how is this explained.” I prayed about it, Googled around about it, and there were very many interesting conversations and explanations out there. I will discuss two explanations from others I found to be possible explanations, then two of my own.
The first explanation that makes the word fit nicely into our current social scheme is the Typology explanation. Basically, it is a common practice in the Bible to teach lessons using archetypes, or general examples, or in another sense, using allegories. In this particular section of verses, it is thought that Paul is speaking in an allegory, where women represent the church, and men represent Christ. As the church, we are to be totally submissive to Christ, we learn from him quietly and patiently. We have nothing we can teach him, we are sinners who are saved by Him, and if we live in faith, love, etc, we will bear the fruit of His kingdom (childbearing). This all seems, extremely reasonable and fits snuggly into our current social contexts.
The second explanation is that here Paul is addressing a very specific local problem in Ephesus. We’ve already read about false prophets and teachers within Ephesus, a problem Paul addresses sternly as he does here. Elsewhere in Paul’s writings, he explains about how the old law does not hold us anymore, that men and woman are partners, etc. Some believe that from Paul’s other teachings, women in Ephesus are becoming unruly, not dressing appropriately, causing problems in the church, and teaching while shooting from the hip, not speaking from what God is telling them, but just out of their own knowledge. This also seems like a very good explanation. The combination of this and the previous explanation are a very convincing composite.
However, I feel this may be a slippery slope, where in we squirm in discomfort at the social stigma of Paul’s statements, we explain the discomfort away. Paul teaches in other writings that he speaks plainly, so as to not interfere with what Christ says. In this section of scripture, he is speaking very clearly, for all to understand. So yea, my first personal explanation is that this is a literal teaching, and that we should be weary of the dangers of interpreting the word to fit our lives, and not fitting our lives to the word.
My second explanation is that here Paul seems literal, but what he meant was to give us a general idea of relationships. The implication of this section is that men need to step up and be the spiritual heads of their families, though wives are capable and more than able, a family does not function well when the father is not a leader. Women should encourage the man to be that leader, not just take lead, because in doing so it usurps the family structure.
Even after studying it so much, I still find it difficult to understand the exact lesson here, but there is one thing I am certain of. There is no way that it is coincidence that possibly the most controversial scripture immediately follows the first chapter which instructs us to not get hung up on the endless theological discussions of religion! WHAT! You tell us this in the first chapter Paul, then immediately drop this social bomb on us which causes endless controversy. Perhaps that is the actual lesson to be learned here, “I said this specifically to see if you listened to what I just said!” Maybe this chapter is to shake us awake in the event we were daydreaming while reading up to now.
1 Timothy Chapter 3- Leaders of the Church
“A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach.”
-1 Timothy 3:2
This chapter does not come with the fiery controversy of its predecessor. In fact it is pretty straight forward, just a discussion about leadership in the church. There are really just a few parts I’d like to point out. In vs 2 and 6, Paul gives some specific advice about leadership in the church and says, “So an elder must be a man whose life is above reproach,” and “An elder must not be a new believer, because he might become proud, and the devil would cause him to fall.” I think this is interesting because we don’t necessarily think about the prerequisites for being a pastor and or church leader. Sometimes we see pastors that are brand spanking new Christians, and you know now that I think about it, one of my old pastors may have fallen just like Paul is explaining here. By the time we left that church, there was just way too much high and mighty flashy stuff going on and some serious pride issues with body guards, escorts, and fancy cars. But it makes sense. New Christians tend to fall back on their instincts as they go along, they think they are doing God’s will but they are really just going with their feelings. It is the seasoned Christian who has already done that and fallen a million times that knows better. I like the part about being above reproach too. No new Christian is capable of that! It takes many years of Christ patiently watching you fail before we really get it together.
1 Timothy Chapter 4- Worry Warts and Brainiacs
“Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons.”
-1 Timothy 4:1
This chapter can be broken down into two lessons: One, do not be a false prophet by thinking you know the secrets to health and life if they don’t point back to God; Two, be vigorous in your work for God.
Verses 4-5 bring the lofty idea of false prophets to a more down to earth level. Paul says people will turn away from their true faith by following deceptive spirits and ideas. His two examples are extremely simple, and I would argue extremely common; that people will say it is wrong to marry and wrong to eat certain foods. In saying these things you are a false prophet! Let’s put it layman’s terms. Especially today, food fads and diets are a dime a dozen, and people get really insanely serious about them. There is nothing wrong with eating healthy obviously, being a conscientious eater, but when you eat as a means to the end of being more pure, better, etc, like it’s a spiritual experience, then you are wrong, and you are being misled. Our wellness and blessings come from our true and close relationship with God, not from our endless efforts to live perfectly.
The second lesson comes when Paul tells Timothy to work his butt off, doing all things well, good, and true. You can read it for yourself, it is pretty straightforward and a great simple lesson. However, I want to bring something up about this. I’m finding myself thinking more and more that 1 Timothy is full of irony. Here Paul is telling Timothy to be a leader in the church, yet in the chapter immediately before this, he lectures Timothy on elders, explaining how they must not be new believers. It’s ironic, because he’s pretty much telling Timothy to act like an elder. I mean it’s just like chapters 1 and 2, where the most controversial of scriptures immediately follows the chapter that tells us to not get caught up in controversies. Here, Timothy is being instructed as an elder immediately after we are told what an elder is, and I personally don’t see Timothy fitting the elder description. Now obviously, I am not an expert as to Timothy’s actual spiritual credentials. Maybe he actually is quite seasoned, but my sense is that he is a relatively new and young believer. Still, just a thought: Is it coincidence that two ironies unfold in four chapters? I think not.
1 Timothy Chapter 5- Grooming a Leader
“Do not rebuke an older man, but exhort him as a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters with all purity.”
-1 Timothy 5:1-2
This chapter almost reminds me of Proverbs in that it is bullet points of sound advice. This particular advice though is all about how to run a good church administration. Here Paul is clearly mentoring Timothy to become a strong leader in the Ephesus Church, and the advice he gives is good for all of us. I think it is important to apply this advice strictly to the administration of a church, and not to be practiced in general. The New Testament constantly makes this distinction between our actions towards believers and non-believers. So without further-a-do, let’s take a look at some of this advice.
At the beginning of this chapter Paul gives the simplest and, if adhered to, most effective explanation of how our relationship with one another should be; treat older men as our fathers, younger as our brothers, older women as our mothers, and younger as our sisters. If we treat EVERYONE like this, the world will be perfect! Obviously it’s easier said than done. But let’s really think about what this means. It means the next time an older bum annoys you on the streets asking for a penny, talk to him like your father, ask him how he’s been, laugh with him, and treat him with reverence. You don’t always have to give bums money. Next time you see a hot girl at the bar, or heck anywhere, don’t “check her out,” instead look at her with pride and if you are daring enough to talk to her, keep it classy and brotherly. Take a moment to go through your daily interaction with strangers of different ages, and see how treating them this way will change your normal behavior.
Starting with vs 5, Paul advises Timothy on how to administer support to widows within the church. Again, for this chapter I think you have to keep in mind Paul is talking about the church. If you apply this to all people, then it may seem like it contradicts a lot of the things Paul says. He really makes two distinctions though. One, there are widows whose family can take care of them and those whose cannot. In the case that their family can, the church should not take care of them. From an administration perspective, this is solid advice; it allows the church to take care of the needier. Second distinction is old and young widows. It is not smart to take in and completely support a young widow because she will likely want to remarry again and taking care of her will likely make her lazy (A side note to this, Paul says a true widow devotes her life to God, hence why a young woman should hesitate becoming a widow and should remarry). Old widows who are being taken care of should be in good standing and very well respected and completely devoted to God. Similar to the lazy young widow, if an old widow is not well respected and in good standing, it can breed complacency in her too. It’s funny because I feel if you applied this advice to welfare and charities, the country would be running better. People whose family can take care of them don’t get welfare, young women only get it for a very brief time so that they don’t become dependent on it, and the old can have more leeway. I am no politician though (but quite possibly a fool).
Verse 17 explains away a church cliché that has honestly bothered me, that the workers of God should be poor and penniless. Here Paul is saying take care of them! If they work hard then they should be paid well! If you don’t pay them well, then the church will bleed talent and leaders, as those people will have better jobs to take care of their families. He is by no means telling us to make our clergy rich, but it is reasonable to pay them well. Again, apply this to the world of teachers and our education system would likely be better.
Verse 20 Paul advises that those of the church who sin should be reprimanded in front of the whole church and in so doing to make sure it is done without taking sides or showing favoritism towards anyone. I don’t know any churches that do this, but it makes sense. I think it is funny how sin really is kind of a taboo thing in church, I mean even good churches. I feel like it is generally addressed a lot in a manner like “forgive us of these sins,” “God will take away your sins,” but it is never made personable and certainly not accountable on the individual level.
The last two snippets I’ll point out is vs 23, “don’t drink only water.” An interesting statement to make as he then advises to drink some wine. I think this ties into the earlier chapter where Paul says to not get lead astray by thinking what you eat will make you live longer or make you holier. And lastly in vs 25, he says “the good deeds done in secret will someday come to light.” So keep doing good not only when no one knows, but ESPECIALLY when no one knows!
1 Timothy Chapter 6- Let Us Be Content
“O Timothy! Guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and idle babble and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge.”
-1 Timothy 6:20
This chapter closes out Timothy for us and serves as a nice little recap and pep talk. One thing that Paul says that really stands out to me is in vs 6-8, “Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it. So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content.” I really like to just simplify it to vs 8 though, “So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content.” To me this is such a calming and peace giving statement. You may think it stands in stark contrast to what Paul has been saying this entire time, about working for God tirelessly and ruthlessly and never being lazy. I think this section of the chapter is really about a state of mind rather than our actions. I relate this personally to my life in this way. I work very hard and long hours, I have an old house that needs a ton of work and likes to throw expensive curve balls at me, I have a one year old son (my first child), I try my best to get involved in church and help others, I want to provide for my family’s future with savings and securities, I want to be rich, and most importantly, I want to see God’s Will realized in every part of my life. It’s a lot going on! It’s easy to be overwhelmed too. Sometimes I tell myself I should just forget it all, focus on my job and family and be done with it. But every day I feel like God whispers to me, “you’re doing great, and if you let up or you don’t get everything done, it’s ok, it doesn’t matter, I will still love you.” It really helps me take a breather sometimes and more importantly, put God before other things. I’d say the most visible impact this peace of mind he gives is these bible studies. Every day at lunch I feel like God stops me and says “hey, you’re doing good work, but it really doesn’t matter, take a break and hang out with me! I’m proud of your work and want you to keep working hard, but be content in me.” Anyways, that’s all I got to say about that.
Paul closes out this book with a solid piece of advice, “Avoid godless, foolish discussions with those who oppose you with their so-called knowledge.” It’s so funny I’m reading this today too because recently I’ve been exploring around on Google+ forums and looked around through some religious discussion groups and there are people exactly like he describes! It’s amazing how some people on these forums KNOW that they know more than anyone else and if anyone makes a religious argument they try to destroy it with their worldly knowledge and it’s just ridiculous. They are so blind to any other perspective other than theirs. They call themselves intellectuals, yet they have no clue how to discuss or relate, they can only spew their propaganda. One individual who is particularly offensive was completely puzzled by the concept of God speaking to our hearts. Anyways, it’s foolish, and I see a lot of Christians spin their wheels against these people and get really frustrated. As Paul says, it’s silly sauce.
Thank You For Reading!
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As a disclaimer, please remember I am not a professional or credentialed spiritually in anyway. The Free Bible eBook Series is simply my interpretation of what I believe God has taught me through His precious Word. I am a firm believer that God teaches us and reveals to us differently and tailors to us personally. What I understand and believe may not align perfectly with you, which is ok. If any content in this series is seriously concerning, please let me know. I heed Paul’s warnings and don’t want to slip into blasphemy.