A Letter for Our Day - Part 1 The First Epistle of Paul, the Apostle to Timothy
1 Corinthians 14–16. ... When we encounter conflicting opinions about gospel truths, it is good to remember that “God is not the author of confusion, but of peace”
In our Bible, the First Epistle of Paul, 1st Timothy, is short but packs a powerful message from the Lord. I’d like to examine it and see how we can apply the Word to our life today, and explore some of the messages written of in 1st Timothy that apply to us today.
First, let’s understand exactly what 1st Timothy is, as the First Epistle of Paul. It is the first of two letters that Paul wrote to his son in Faith. The meaning of his name, Timothy, is “one who honors God”. You may have seen some scholars claim that Paul was not the author of these letters, rather one of his followers, despite numerous facts, such as he wrote a brief autobiography within, and the letter’s acceptance can be traced back people such as Pope Clement I and Titus Clemens (Clement of Alexandria), among others during that time. Furthermore, it indeed is recognized as the Word, and of what Jesus teaches us.
The apostles not only accepted the Old Testament and the Word as truth, they also began to see that their writings were on the same authoritative level for ministering purposes. After all, how else could man spread the good Word from Jesus’ teachings without using various formats, especially in our day and age now, when we have computers, TV, internet and social media, as opposed to essentially just pen and paper back then? Being led by the Holy Spirit, they believed they were speaking for Christ. The Apostle Paul’s letters, for example, have been recognized as Holy Scripture by the Christian church.
Now that we have a foundation, let’s move into the Word. It begins with love. Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the command of God our Savior AND the Lord Jesus Christ, he starts his letter to his son Timothy, “a son born in faith”.
He starts by discussing how we must live by no other doctrine other than the Word of God. We must encourage others to do the same and teach no other doctrine, nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than edification to God done through faith. It is important that we understand the meaning of this warning. He is telling us to not get caught up in false religions and false teachings, and to not get caught up in fruitless arguments, and to also not get caught up in arguments over genealogies (lines of descent). During this time, some were woefully caught up in unnecessary arguments, so much that Jesus would scold them for it, Matthew 23:23"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone"
This was not to say that small details were not important, just that we shouldn’t let them control our mind entirely, rather, be wary that false doctrines often originate from minor details. You will often see this today in “new age” religions - they tend to cherry pick a few scriptures, seemingly without fully understanding them, and running with it in a totally different direction than what it originally meant. A common practice in this are is fitting Jesus into what they want to do, rather than putting Jesus first, then proclaiming this as OK with little to no biblical reference.
The issue with genealogies has multiple points, but two major ones. First, during this time, King Herod destroyed the public records, as he was jealous of the origin of Jews, feeling like he was less noble than them. Thus, it made it very difficult for Jews to recount their legacy beyond memory or personal kept records. You could imagine this today as if, for example, someone just “deleted” your family records, everything from birth certificates to wills, photos, and records, to the point where you literally have no proof of who your parents are and beyond besides memories.
The second point of these “endless genealogies” was the rise of Gnosticism. This is basically the rise of belief that there is secret knowledge not available to people. Perhaps their is some truth to stories you hear about the “Illuminati”, for instance, but the focus I’m going to draw here is more so on the side of false doctrines. Back then, most “gnostics” claimed themselves as Christians, however, they believed many strange things that are Pagan in nature, such as God being female, the Sun, Moon, and Earth as “demi-godess’” worthy of worship and prayer, among other strange ideals that go against the Word, stemming from the idea that this was “hidden knowledge”, failing to see the demonic origins at play. We still see this today in many new age religions. Even a movie comes to mind - Da Vinci Code - which was based on some mythological teachings, proclaiming ideas such as Jesus had a love affair with Mary Magdalene and that she was the leader of the apostles. Again, based on Gnostic teachings and supposed “hidden knowledge”, though none of it is found in the Word, and Jesus specifically warns us of this, of indulging too much into this type of information, so much that it consumes you. 1Timothy 4:7 "But reject profane and old wives' fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness"
Going further into the letter, he writes the purpose of the commandment is to love from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith, from which some have strayed and resorted to idle talk, desiring to be teachers of the law but understanding neither what they say nor the things which they affirm as truth. What did Paul mean by this? During these times the Talmud was popular. It was a complex recount of Jewish laws and beliefs, including debates among rabbis, and an overall coverage of the Torah, the first 5 books of the original Hebrew Bible. It was extremely popular at the time despite the Law that Jesus laid out, and it went against what Jesus taught. It basically went against what was recounted in the Bible entirely. Even worse, it was often being taught incorrectly as the Word of God. It talks of Jesus in a very negative way, recounting Him as Satanic and accusing Him of leading Israel to idolatry, among many other extreme accusations that go against the Word. Jesus rebuked the people studying and following this “law”.
It is important to note that the Talmud was completed roughly 1700 years after the original Hebrew Bible was recounted, and existed also before Jesus’ time as well, making its credibility very skeptical, aside from the obvious that it goes completely against what Jesus taught us and against what was recounted as factual by the Bible, and the original Torah. I feel we can apply this to our life today as we view our laws in general as well. Look around and ask yourself, how much has changed from our original command from God in our laws today? And who today seems to seek to change the law ever more, to the point where it is clearly and obviously against the Word? A lot is thankfully still in place, but I see a lot of smaller attempts at changes that could drastically affect the overall more and more. It is a “piece by piece” attack from the enemy. Be wary of this, but not obsessed, as it is important to recognize so that we can discern from the enemy and the Truth.
It is important that we learn something from Jesus’ rebuking of the Talmud. There are religions around today that still follow a similar path and teaching, as noted before. Most recently popular in our day and age, they like to incorporate their own beliefs and try to fit Jesus in somewhere, as it is generally unheard of to rebuke Jesus completely nowadays except by the most satanic or atheistic of religions. There is also a changing of the Word to be wary of, in which you will see completely revised versions of the Word to fit what a man or group believes. For example, this is present today in Jehovah’s Witness. Though they have similar, strong Christian beliefs, be wary that they have rewritten the Bible to fit their own views and interpretations (NWT of Holy Scriptures). You may see or hear JW refer to the Bible they use as the Book of Holy Scriptures, for if you change the Word it is no longer the Word of God and can’t be called the Bible. I won’t get too much into that again here, as I have written about it in a past article, but I urge you to research it as well, you may be surprised to see what they believe and what they have changed, and keep in mind our commandment from God to not do this very thing.
Paul also discusses whom the Law was for, and it is essentially everyone who sins, covering every possible sin. 1 Timothy 10 ….and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine. We are to understand that the Law is not bad, rather, that it is to save man, and keep man’s ability to uphold the Law in tact. Those who have accepted Jesus and seek Him diligently have the law already fulfilled for them. Matthew 5:17 "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I have not come to destroy, but to fulfill." We are not to be selfish, and understand that the Law was not a means of realizing self-righteousness, rather, it was to realize self-condemnation, our sins, repentance and praying to God for His mercy. Luke 5:32 (KJV) I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
After this, Paul discusses God’s grace. He thanks Jesus our Lord for considering him as a faithful servant and putting him in ministry. Paul discusses how he realized he was an insolent man, and ignorant to the Word; the chief sinner, as he called himself. But the Grace of God was so great, and with so much faith and love in Christ, he was saved. 1 Timothy 15 This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners….
Overall, I feel the message is clear - no matter how bad you think you are, or what you have done, keep going and seek Jesus, and accept Him as Lord and Savior of your life, so that you can be saved.
I thank you for joining me today in a discussion of the first part of Paul’s letter. I will continue my article in A Letter for Our Day - Part 2 The First Epistle of Paul, the Apostle to Timothy