1 Timothy
Introduction
Introduction

Up till now we have dealt with letters that were addressed to churches. The first letter to Timothy is addressed to one single person. That means that you, even more than in other letters, will find directions for your personal life of faith. You will be able to identify yourself with Timothy, with quite some exceptions. At least, that’s the intention. When you notice that you deviate at certain points, you may correct them. In this letter you have a model in front of you that helps you to live to God’s honor.

We will first look at the person to whom Paul addresses this letter (read also Acts 16:1-31Paul came also to Derbe and to Lystra. And a disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek,2and he was well spoken of by the brethren who were in Lystra and Iconium.3Paul wanted this man to go with him; and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those parts, for they all knew that his father was a Greek.; Phil 2:19-2319But I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, so that I also may be encouraged when I learn of your condition.20For I have no one [else] of kindred spirit who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare.21For they all seek after their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus.22But you know of his proven worth, that he served with me in the furtherance of the gospel like a child [serving] his father.23Therefore I hope to send him immediately, as soon as I see how things [go] with me;; 2Tim 1:55For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that [it is] in you as well.). By examining the ‘personal details’ of Timothy (his name means ‘God’s fear’ or ‘honored by God’) we get a picture of this young believer.

Relatives:
Father            > Greek (Acts 16:11Paul came also to Derbe and to Lystra. And a disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek,)
Mother           > a believing Jewish woman with a “sincere faith” (Acts 16:11Paul came also to Derbe and to Lystra. And a disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek,; 2Tim 1:55For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that [it is] in you as well.)
Grandmother > had a sincere faith (2Tim 1:55For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that [it is] in you as well.)

Was brought up in the faith:
Grandmother > mother > Timothy (2Tim 1:55For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that [it is] in you as well.).
He knows the Holy Scriptures from his earliest childhood (2Tim 1:55For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that [it is] in you as well.). Compare: Jochebed > Moses (Exo 2:1-101Now a man from the house of Levi went and married a daughter of Levi.2The woman conceived and bore a son; and when she saw that he was beautiful, she hid him for three months.3But when she could hide him no longer, she got him a wicker basket and covered it over with tar and pitch. Then she put the child into it and set [it] among the reeds by the bank of the Nile.4His sister stood at a distance to find out what would happen to him.5The daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the Nile, with her maidens walking alongside the Nile; and she saw the basket among the reeds and sent her maid, and she brought it [to her].6When she opened [it], she saw the child, and behold, [the] boy was crying. And she had pity on him and said, “This is one of the Hebrews’ children.”7Then his sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and call a nurse for you from the Hebrew women that she may nurse the child for you?”8Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Go [ahead].” So the girl went and called the child’s mother.9Then Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this child away and nurse him for me and I will give [you] your wages.” So the woman took the child and nursed him.10The child grew, and she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter and he became her son. And she named him Moses, and said, “Because I drew him out of the water.”) and Hannah > Samuel (1Sam 1:21-2821Then the man Elkanah went up with all his household to offer to the LORD the yearly sacrifice and [pay] his vow.22But Hannah did not go up, for she said to her husband, “[I will not go up] until the child is weaned; then I will bring him, that he may appear before the LORD and stay there forever.”23Elkanah her husband said to her, “Do what seems best to you. Remain until you have weaned him; only may the LORD confirm His word.” So the woman remained and nursed her son until she weaned him.24Now when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, with a three-year-old bull and one ephah of flour and a jug of wine, and brought him to the house of the LORD in Shiloh, although the child was young.25Then they slaughtered the bull, and brought the boy to Eli.26She said, “Oh, my lord! As your soul lives, my lord, I am the woman who stood here beside you, praying to the LORD.27For this boy I prayed, and the LORD has given me my petition which I asked of Him.28So I have also dedicated him to the LORD; as long as he lives he is dedicated to the LORD.” And he worshiped the LORD there.).

Conversion:
Timothy possibly became a ‘child’ of Paul in a spiritual sense, during his first visit to Lystra (Acts 14:6-206they became aware of it and fled to the cities of Lycaonia, Lystra and Derbe, and the surrounding region;7and there they continued to preach the gospel.8At Lystra a man was sitting who had no strength in his feet, lame from his mother’s womb, who had never walked.9This man was listening to Paul as he spoke, who, when he had fixed his gaze on him and had seen that he had faith to be made well,10said with a loud voice, “Stand upright on your feet.” And he leaped up and [began] to walk.11When the crowds saw what Paul had done, they raised their voice, saying in the Lycaonian language, “The gods have become like men and have come down to us.”12And they [began] calling Barnabas, Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker.13The priest of Zeus, whose [temple] was just outside the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates, and wanted to offer sacrifice with the crowds.14But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their robes and rushed out into the crowd, crying out15and saying, “Men, why are you doing these things? We are also men of the same nature as you, and preach the gospel to you that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, WHO MADE THE HEAVEN AND THE EARTH AND THE SEA AND ALL THAT IS IN THEM.16In the generations gone by He permitted all the nations to go their own ways;17and yet He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good and gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.”18[Even] saying these things, with difficulty they restrained the crowds from offering sacrifice to them.19But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having won over the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead.20But while the disciples stood around him, he got up and entered the city. The next day he went away with Barnabas to Derbe.) on his first mission trip. On his second mission trip Paul comes there again and takes Timothy, who is then a follower of the Lord Jesus, with him (Acts 16:1-31Paul came also to Derbe and to Lystra. And a disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek,2and he was well spoken of by the brethren who were in Lystra and Iconium.3Paul wanted this man to go with him; and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those parts, for they all knew that his father was a Greek.).

Aspects of his call:
1. He has a good testimony (Acts 16:22and he was well spoken of by the brethren who were in Lystra and Iconium.)
2. Paul wants to take him along (Acts 16:33Paul wanted this man to go with him; and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those parts, for they all knew that his father was a Greek.)
3. There were prophecies made concerning him (1Tim 1:1818This command I entrust to you, Timothy, [my] son, in accordance with the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you fight the good fight,)
4. Paul has laid hands on him (2Tim1:6)
5. The eldership laid hands on him (1Tim 4:1414Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you, which was bestowed on you through prophetic utterance with the laying on of hands by the presbytery.)

Personal identity:
1. He is young (1Tim 4:1212Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but [rather] in speech, conduct, love, faith [and] purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.)
2. He is shy, timid (1Cor 16:1010Now if Timothy comes, see that he is with you without cause to be afraid, for he is doing the Lord’s work, as I also am.; 2Tim 1:6-86For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.7For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.8Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner, but join with [me] in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God,)
3. He has a good mind (Phil 2:2020For I have no one [else] of kindred spirit who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare.)

Now you have some idea of who he is you can possibly relate better to the addressee.

Paul clearly indicates his motivation to write this letter: “I am writing these things to you, hoping to come to you before long; but in case I am delayed, [I write] so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth” (1Tim 3:14-1514I am writing these things to you, hoping to come to you before long;15but in case I am delayed, [I write] so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth.). I quote these verses in full, because here you find the key to understand this letter. So Paul writes the letter that Timothy can give the right teaching on the conduct of the believers in God’s house.

Of course this house of God is not a stone building. The house of God consists of all believers who live at this moment on earth. You have already received teaching on the building of God’s house, for example in the letter to the Ephesians (Eph 2:19-2219So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household,20having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner [stone],21in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord,22in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.) and in the first letter to the Corinthians (1Cor 3:9-179For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.10According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it.11For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.12Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw,13each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is [to be] revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work.14If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward.15If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.16Do you not know that you are a temple of God and [that] the Spirit of God dwells in you?17If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are.). That teaching certainly contains important aspects already for the way you’re supposed to behave yourself, but this first letter to Timothy is specifically focused on it.

There is another important issue you should know. Timothy is addressed as “man of God” (1Tim 6:1111But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance [and] gentleness.). I will comment later on this beautiful expression when we are there. Here it is already a good thing to remark that it is a title of honor that is not used for every believer just like that. The Holy Spirit uses this title only for a believer who shows Who God is in a time that the mass of Christianity is unfaithful to Him. In a time of general deviation it is important that the individual is faithful. Timothy was such an individual. You also can be such an individual.

Paul is demonstrating to Timothy which line of conduct he has to teach the believers. To Timothy, as a relatively young believer, that is not an easy job to do. Therefore this letter to his young fellow servant also has an encouraging character. Therefore the contents of the letter is also applicable to us, because the line of conduct Timothy has to teach, must always be followed by believers. To obey those instructions of conduct is certainly not an easy job, certainly not in the time we live. The resistance to obey is increasing on the contrary. But if you are willing to listen you will particularly be encouraged by this letter.

In this context it is important to notice the distinction between what is addressed to Timothy personally and what is addressed to believers in general. As it is said, the first letter to Timothy is addressed to one person, just like the second letter and also the one to Titus. (These letters are also called the ‘pastoral letters’). You cannot identify yourself with them in everything that is said to them, for they are persons who are sent by the apostle to act in his name or to take care of the churches during his absence. If we carefully pay further attention to the letter, the distinction will become clear.

The letter contains teaching for those who belong to the church. The church is presented here in the order according to God’s thoughts and not to what people have made of it. This order is important concerning the conduct of the church members in the world, where they represent God as Savior (1Tim 1:11Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus according to the commandment of God our Savior, and of Christ Jesus, [who is] our hope,). Your conduct in God’s house is being observed by people of the world around you. The man of the world goes on abandoning God as Creator. Consider the evolution theory for example. When God is being put aside as Creator it is of great importance that you represent God as Savior. This letter hands you the instructions for it.

When you take these instructions at heart, your life will be a reference to “God, our Savior”. Then this letter will achieve its goal in your life. In your walk in the world, in your relation to the people around you it will become visible that you represent a God of love “Who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1Tim 2:3-43This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,4who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.).

I would like to close this introduction by pointing to the word “Godliness”. This word characterizes this letter; it runs like a common thread through it (1Tim 2:22for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.; 3:1616By common confession, great is the mystery of godliness: He who was revealed in the flesh, was vindicated in the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.; 4:7-87But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness;8for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and [also] for the [life] to come.; 6:3,5-6,113If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness,5and constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain.6But godliness [actually] is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment.11But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance [and] gentleness.). You haven’t come across this word yet in the letters of Paul. Here he uses it for the first time. Godliness means pious and indicates an attitude that is focused on God and therefore pleasing to God. When the spiritual life is generally decreasing, this Godliness will be of greater need and therefore more appreciative to God.

Read again Acts 16:1-31Paul came also to Derbe and to Lystra. And a disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek,2and he was well spoken of by the brethren who were in Lystra and Iconium.3Paul wanted this man to go with him; and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those parts, for they all knew that his father was a Greek.; Phil 2:19-2319But I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, so that I also may be encouraged when I learn of your condition.20For I have no one [else] of kindred spirit who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare.21For they all seek after their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus.22But you know of his proven worth, that he served with me in the furtherance of the gospel like a child [serving] his father.23Therefore I hope to send him immediately, as soon as I see how things [go] with me;; 2Tim 1:55For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that [it is] in you as well.

Reflection: In which view would you be more like Timothy?


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