1 Timothy 2
Paul layers different types of prayers in the first verse. Paul wants Timothy, and by extension us, to pray for all people. There are no exclusions to who is included on our prayer list. We are to lift one another to God in prayer. We are to lift our enemies to God in prayer. Pray for that person in the ‘10 items or less’ line in front of us at Walmart who has a full basket. Pray for that co-worker (you know the one). Ask God to bless them. Ask God to save them. Thank God for them (even if it is only for the opportunity for you to learn patience).
He instructed Timothy to pray for civil authorities. We don’t have kings in North America, but we do have a president, members of Congress, Governors, State Representatives, Mayors, Council Members, and so on. We can certainly pray for them. What do we pray for everyone? We pray most of all for their salvation because that is what God desires for all people. God desires salvation and knowledge of truth for every person. And these are the results of the work of Jesus Christ.
These verses haven’t caused any controversy or consternation in the church at all. Just kidding. Rather than even attempt to address all the controversy, I’ll pose the question What can we agree on? What can we determine is an underlying, eternal message in Paul’s writing. Well, first of all, modesty, discretion, and good works are to be highly valued. Braided hair, at least the way most women do it today, is not used to draw attention to one’s self. Now if women wove gold strands or pearls in the braids, as they apparently did in Paul’s day, then that would be problematic. Using flashy jewelry or clothes to draw attention to ourselves, whether we are male or female, can be problematic. Why do some men wear Rolex watches? Is a Timex from Walmart sufficiently accurate to tell the time? A look at the latest fashions on the red carpet in Hollywood are a clear indication some people go to great lengths to draw attention to themselves with jewelry and dress.
How does Paul understand the role of women in the church? He seems to be blaming Eve for the Fall, whereas in other places he argues that sin entered the world through Adam (Romans 5:14-17). And verse 151? Does Paul really intend that women are saved in a different way than men? Men are saved by Christ, but women are saved by giving birth? There are too many problems with the assertion, even on the surface, to begin addressing them here. All of this demand a much larger response than I am able to give here.
1 Timothy 3
Paul gives the qualifications for overseers (bishops) and deacons. These are two roles that were established for church leadership in the early church. The qualifications are quite demanding. A literal, “hard” reading of these verses would allow only men to serve in leadership roles in the church. However, many, if not most, evangelical Christians would interpret this passage as bound culturally with regard to gender, but still require those who lead to meet the character qualities mentioned in these verses. To be honest, I think the Church does not necessarily do a good job of vetting its leadership. I think we can do a much better job of holding our leaders to a godly standard of behavior. And I don’t just mean “professional” staff. Those who are volunteer leaders need to be held to a higher standard as well.
1 Timothy 4
I believe that we are currently living in the time that Paul describes in these verses. Within the church I have found that there are many people who believe and teach “doctrines of demons.” There are people who claim the name of Jesus who have fallen away from the faith. Sadly, their fall is primarily a lack of biblical knowledge. Honestly, too many people filling churches today are willfully ignorant of the Scriptures. As a result, they have adopted the worldview of the culture around them which is completely opposed the things of God. As result their consciences have been seared (or branded). In Paul’s day, two indicators of this phenomena were the forbidding of marriage and abstaining from certain food (most likely referring to Jewish kosher laws that had been done away with for Christians). While the indicators of a seared conscience may be different today the cause and effect are the same. I have heard supposed believers argue against the crucifixion and resurrection. I have seen people who claim to be Christ followers argue against even the most basic Christian theological and ethical positions.
Paul tells Timothy to enter training for godliness. The goal is to become like Jesus Christ. We are to be disciplined in taking in the word of God and sound doctrine. We are to use the spiritual gifts that God has given us. We are to pay particular attention to the public reading of the Scriptures, to encouragement, and to teaching. We might not share these gifts with Timothy, but we are to use the gifts that God has given us with equal vigor. Paul tells Timothy to “take pains” with them. Paul tells us that we ought to be a little obsessive about them. He tells Timothy to carefully watch his life and doctrine to make sure they conform to the theological understandings we have inherited. This is of tremendous importance because the way we live our lives can disqualify us from ministry and render our doctrinal purity irrelevant.
When I was younger, I memorized 1 Timothy 4:12. The goals was to be an exemplary model of godly speech, conduct, love, faith and purity. I did not always live up to that aspiration, and I am no longer young. But I can pass this desire along to my children and to other young people. I hope that we can all focus on these virtues, regardless of our age, so that we all might let our light shine in such a way that they will see how we live our lives and glorify God who is in heaven.
My next post will be July 12, 2019.
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