The Apostle Paul: Pastoral Epistles: I Timothy. Part 3.

20” O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge,” 21 for by professing it some have swerved from the faith. Grace be with you.” (1 Timothy 6:20–21 (ESV)

After the Roman government released Paul his first imprisonment (cf. Acts 28:30), he revisited several of the cities in which he had ministered, including Ephesus. Leaving Timothy behind there to deal with problems that had arisen in the Ephesian church, which included such issues as false doctrine (1 Tim. 1:3–7; 4:1–3; 6:3–5), disorder in worship (2:1–15), the need for qualified leaders (3:1–14), and materialism (6:6–19), Paul went on to Macedonia, from where he wrote Timothy this letter to help him carry out his task in the church (cf. 3:14–15).

I Timothy is a practical letter containing pastoral instruction from Paul to Timothy (cf. 3:14–15). Since Timothy was well acquainted with Paul’s theology, the apostle had no need to give him extensive doctrinal instruction. This epistle does, however, express many important theological truths, such as the proper function of the law (1:5–11), salvation (1:14–16; 2:4–6); the attributes of God (1:17); the fall (2:13–14); the person and work of Christ (3:16; 6:15–16); election (6:12); and the second coming of Christ (6:14–15).

Other controversial chapters in I Timothy includes the identity of the false teachers (1:3) and the genealogies (1:4) involved in their teaching. Also, what is meant by the phrase “handed over to Satan” (1:20)? I Timothy also contains key passages in the debate over the extent of the atonement (2:4–6; 4:10).

Other contentious issues include Paul’s teaching on the role of women (2:9–15), particularly his declaration that they are not to assume leadership roles in the church (2:11–12). Additionally, what does Paul mean when he says women can be saved by bearing children (2:15)? Also, when Paul says an elder must be “the husband of one wife” does this then exclude divorced or unmarried men (3:1)? Does Paul refer to deacons’ wives or other women who serve as deaconesses (3:11).

Those who believe Christians can lose their salvation cite 4:1 as support for their view. There is also a question about the identity of the widows in 5:3–16—are they needy women ministered to by the church, or an order of older women ministering to the church? Does “double honor” accorded to elders who rule well (5:17–18) refer to respect or money?

These are but a few of the questions raise in the I Timothy. Have a blessed day as you continue to read and meditate upon the Word of God.

Soli deo Gloria!

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