An Examination of 1 Timothy Chapter One

This is a response I posted to Bill Isaacs I posted on His Blog

I agree with you, Paul writes these letters to Timothy as a spiritual father to his son. The Holy Spirit has arrested Paul’s heart and called him to Macedonia to preach the gospel to the people (1:3) (Acts 20:1). Ephesus is a crown jewel for Paul and his ministry. When Paul arrived there he had found that there were people that followed after John the Baptist’s anointing, but as of yet had not encountered Jesus Christ or the Holy Spirit (Acts 19:1-7). In a move to help solidify the church, Paul calls for Timothy to come to Ephesus to help him build the church. Paul needs Timothy to stay at Ephesus in order that the ministry will remain strong. There were many zealous people in Ephesus who desired to do the work of ministry apart from the power of Jesus and the Holy Spirit. I would suspect that these people were enamored by Paul’s teaching , but refused to surrender their lives to Christ. The classic example of these people were the “Sons of Sceva” in Acts 19-11-20. “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you? (Acts 19:15b ESV).” These sons of the High Priest Sceva of the synagogue in Ephesus were trying to attach themselves to the ministry of Paul, but obviously had not had an encounter with Christ. Nevertheless, Paul has called to Timothy to reach into these peoples lives, in the midst of their useless reliance on superstition and the law (1 Tim. 1:3-11).

As you point out, it is to Timothy that Paul gives the key to success in ministry against forces that are directly opposed to your success—more on this later at the end of the chapter. At the end of the day Paul’s mandate for Timothy is “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith (1:5).” First, our charge is love…we cannot minister to people without the love of God in our lives (1 Cor. 13). My effectiveness as a minister of the gospel is measured by my degree to which I love those to whom I have been assigned. Second, my motivation must pure, not only from a heart cleansed by Christ, but also not self-seeking. I cannot view my assignment as a stepping stone to the “greater ministry” that God has called for me. At every level there are real people with real needs who do not need another eloquent sermon, but need a man or woman who will love them purely with heart that devoted to Christ. Third, my conscience is only good when I obey Christ. Thus, my motivation is completely pure simply because I have listened to the voice of God. Finally, my faith must be sincere. I find it intriguing that Paul, in this instance, places faith last in his list. The order probably has no significance, but he begins with love and ends with faith. I think there is a lesson for those who desire to serve in ministry. Start with loving the people, and the degree to which one loves the people, reveals the sincerity of faith that desires to do only the work of God.

Lastly, Paul’s closes this chapter on a disturbing note. Paul gives an example of two who have “shipwrecked” their faith, by blaspheming Christ. Acts 19:33 what Alexander’s role was. There was a riot taking place in Ephesus due to the loss of funding that had occurred as a result of Paul’s ministry. Alexander was commissioned by the Jews to denounce their involvement in Paul’s preaching, thus drawing Paul’s ire. What’s interesting is that Paul tells us that he was a believer who shipwrecked his faith under the pressure of his brethren. Thus, by turning him over to Satan so that he may “learn” not to blaspheme seems harsh. But this is not as cruel as it seems. The Greek word here “to learn” is “paideuo” which means to teach a child. In this word Paul ahs identified that these men are children, of course not physically, but spiritually. The question is children of whom? They were people of faith—even though they shipwrecked it—so the obvious answer is that they are children of God. Paideuo also implies discipline for the intention of maturity and growth. Possibly, this going to hurt me (God) more than it’s going to hurt you (Hymenaeus and Alexander). It seems to me that God’s intention is to restore their shipwrecked faith even if that means allowing the enemy access to their lives as a result of their sin. How many ministers fall and God restores, but not before a lengthy period pain that forces them to look intently at their sin, and reconcile themselves to God as a result? This is not pretty, but it is merciful. Recently, I heard a man who had fallen and been restored say after his ordeal, “I am not as good a churchman as I once was, better I am better Christian.” Maybe that’s the whole point.