August 28, 2015.
Note: I am switching Friday and Sunday’s reading, so today’s reading will be I Timothy 4-5, and Sunday’s will be Ezekiel 43-48. Thank you for understanding.
Daily Reading: I Timothy 4-6.
Background: I Timothy 1-3.
Concepts and Connections.
1. The Apostasy: Paul begins this chapter talking about the apostasy that was to come later, where many would fall away to false teaching and deceitful spirits, teachings of demons. He says that these false teachers are liars, having their conscience’s seared. Though this terminology sounds like something we would pick up on immediately and recognize as a doctrine of demon, notice what Paul says next about what they do: forbid to marry and tell people to abstain from certain foods. That doesn’t sound like what we would typically think of as a teaching of demons. Note here in this that there would be a reason that many would fall away (note that to depart from the faith, one would have to be in the faith to begin with): they would be deceived. If the adversary worked openly and blatantly, he would not be able to deceive many. Instead, he works slowly, patiently and meticulously, changing just a little at a time until all of the sudden many have been sorely deceived. Paul is warning Timothy of this deceit, as he is a leader in the church. We too should be aware and on our guard about this deceit, perhaps even more so, as it seems we are in an age that could be described as the “later times.”
2. Timothy’s example: The latter half of this chapter is Paul’s encouragement to Timothy to set a good example before the brethren, showing himself as a good servant of Christ. Timothy was a young man, but that wasn’t to stop him from setting the example. Paul had a lot of faith and trust in Timothy, even telling him how to appoint elders in the previous chapter. He is told to train himself for godliness, which is more profitable than physical exercise, and be and example to the church in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. Timothy had a very important job to do, and through his leadership and example, Paul says that he would save both himself and those that heard him. He was told to be devoted to three things: public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and to teaching. Though it was Timothy that Paul was specifically writing to here, the leaders of the church today should meditate over these words, that they too might show themselves as an example to the believers. In a more general sense, even, we all as believers should look to Timothy’s example and work to emulate it, thereby growing closer to Christ and furthering His kingdom.
Instructions for the church: Paul spends much of this chapter giving Timothy instructions about the church that he is working with, so he might know how he and the church should conduct themselves. He talks about the different roles in the church, and how to approach each, all in purity. Then he holds a discussion about the widows in the church, and instructions on who should take care of them. Apparently, the church had an enrollment of widows that they took care of, and Paul wanted to make sure that the church wasn’t overburdened. He said that if the widows were young, they should marry, lest their passions draw them away from their service to Christ (the widows that were enrolled in the church likely had jobs to do, see Acts 9:39). He also said that if the widow has someone to take care of her, they should be the ones to do it as opposed to the church, going so far as to say that if one didn’t provide for their own, especially members of his own house, that he had denied the faith and was worse than an unbeliever. Then he talks about the elders, saying they should be counted of double honor if the rule well. In this context, Paul is actually referring to the income of the elders from the church (see I Corinthians 9, Deuteronomy 24:15, 25:4), a practice that is not seen in very many places today, as eldership is primarily a voluntary role in our age. Finally, Timothy is told to rebuke openly those who persist in sin, so that people would not see those in sin and think that it is okay to do the same.
1. False teachers and true contentment: This chapter begins with a bondservant’s attitude of Christ toward’s his master, especially if his master is a believer, so that the name of Christ would not be reviled. Then Paul warns Timothy against false teachers, encouraging him to teach the things found in this letter that the false doctrine might be put out. He says that anyone who does not agree with the words of Christ or godly teaching is prideful and just likes to argue, having an unhealthy craving for controversy. They try to twist godliness into a means of gain for them. But Paul tells Timothy that true gain comes through godliness with contentment, for we will not leave with the riches we amass on earth. The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil, and will drive men to do horrible things. Thus, contentment truly is great gain. Later in the chapter, the rich are told to not trust in their unstable riches, but in God, giving generously and to be rich in good works, storing up true treasure in the age to come. Let us always get contentment and satisfaction in our Lord.
2. Fighting the good fight: As Paul closes out his letter to Timothy, he encourages him one more time to fight the good fight of faith, perusing righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness and gentleness. He charged him in the presence of God and Jesus Christ, King of kings and Lord of lords, sovereign over all. When Paul starts talking about Christ, it is hard to get him to stop, for his love and honor for the Lord overflows. Timothy was to avoid irrelevant babbling of knowledge falsely so called, as it was causing some to swerve from the faith. Timothy had a job to set an example before the believers. This was Paul’s encouragement to him to do so.
Tomorrow’s Reading: John 1-2.
Grace be with you.