Solemn Instruction of Leadership
THE FIRST EPISTLE TO TIMOTHY
The apostle Paul first met Timothy in the early days of his second outreach itinerary in the city of Lystra (Acts 16:1). From that time on, Timothy travelled and served wholeheartedly with Paul. Later, it was written by Paul that Timothy was not only a ‘fellow worker’ but also ‘my beloved son and faithful in the Lord’.
After several years of serving together, Paul writes two epistles to Timothy to instruct him and to charge him in the responsibilities and standards of continued service (leadership) to God’s people. Paul’s first epistle begins abruptly with a rather urgent exhortation and charge to Timothy.
As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine. Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith [believing]: so do. Now the end of the commandment is charity [love] out of a pure heart, and a good conscience, and faith unfeigned [believing without hypocrisy].
I TIMOTHY 1:3-5
Timothy is instructed to charge certain individuals in Ephesus not to teach a doctrine other than that which Paul had taught them. An important truth that is being here addressed by Paul is mistranslated as ‘godly edifying’. It should accurately say ‘the administration of God’, which is the administration of grace, not of works. These others were teaching the requirement of works to be justified by God. Timothy is told to correct them, and to do this in love out of a pure heart, with a good conscience and with unhypocritical believing.
This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them might war a good warfare; Holding faith [Having believing], and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith [the faith = the believing] and have made shipwreck. I TIMOTHY 1:18-19
The wrong teaching of ‘works’ rather than ‘grace’ had made shipwreck ‘the believing’.
The translation has only the word ‘faith’ and omits the definite article ‘the’, which should be supplied. It is ‘the faith’ or ‘the believing’ which was being ‘made shipwreck’. The phrase ‘the believing’ is used in the Epistles to state the right believing of the true and accurate teaching (or ‘the doctrine’) of God’s grace that Paul was making known in great detail.
If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith [the faith = the believing] and of good doctrine [the good doctrine], whereunto thou hast attained.
These things command and teach. Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation [your manner of life], in charity [love], in spirit, in faith [believing], in purity.
Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine [the doctrine]. Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery [elders].
Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee. I TIMOTHY 4:6,11-16
Within these eleven verses of chapter four, Paul exhorts Timothy regarding ‘the doctrine’ three times:
1) Be nourished up in the words of the good doctrine.
2) Give attendance to the doctrine.
3) Take heed unto the doctrine.
The doctrine is the teaching of the gospel. The gospel is the full message of God’s plan to redeem man, which includes the redeemer, Jesus Christ, and all that he fulfilled of the old covenant and made available in the new covenant. The right-believing of the one, true message of the gospel is called the believing in the Epistles. Also, the substance and essential realities of the gospel message are referred to as the truth.
The ‘doctrine’ is mentioned three more times in this Epistle. The first is in regard to the elders (the seasoned, faithful leadership) who labor in the doctrine. The second addresses servants (employees) and their mindset toward their employers.
The third is with regard to those who ‘teach otherwise’, not agreeing with the right doctrine, and are destitute of ‘the truth’ supposing that gain is godliness.
Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially they who labor in the Word and doctrine. For the Scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, the laborer is worthy of his reward. I TIMOTHY 5:17-18
Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honor, that the name of God and the doctrine be not blasphemed.
If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; he is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words [word battles], whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, perverse disputings [constant quarrels] of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself. I TIMOTHY 6:1,3-5
In closing here, I want to note the solemn instruction of Paul as he charges Timothy ‘before God, and the lord Jesus Christ’:
I charge thee before God, and the lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality. I TIMOTHY 5:21
But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith [believing], love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith [the faith = the believing], lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.
I give thee charge in the sight of God, Who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession; That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukable, until the appearing of our lord Jesus Christ. I TIMOTHY 6:11-14
Yes, fight the good fight of the believing! Finally, Paul closes with this hearty exhortation:
O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings [useless discussions], and oppositions of science falsely so called [of that which is falsely called knowledge].
I TIMOTHY 6:20