A Letter for Our Day - Part 4 The First Epistle of Paul, the Apostle to Timothy
Proverbs 15:17 The highway of the upright is to depart from evil. He who keeps his way preserves his soul.
Thank you for joining me in Part 4 of my article - I last left off at 1st Timothy 4:5. I am going to jump right in, starting at 1st Timothy 4:6, and continue examining how we can apply this to our life today.
Paul moves on in his letter to describing quickly how we ought to be a good servant of Jesus Christ, and specific attributes we must have and address within ourselves if we see slippage in any area. Often times, we can deviate from some of these attributes and not even realize it. Give thanks and glory to our God, for He gave us the Word to live by and to have discernment when these issues arise in our life.
Paul’s letter states that he should instruct our brethren in these things (the truth in the Word), and you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and good doctrine, of which you have carefully followed. A good warning within itself - we must always make sure we CAREFULLY follow the Word, as we have seen before, there are many false doctrines, and demonic doctrines that appear to be similar to the Word, but they are not and seek to destroy you.
We must also conduct ourselves toward godliness, that is, practicing the Word. 1st Timothy 4:7-9 But reject profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness. For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come. This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance.
I take this as literal, face value. The point is, we must exercise our faith and practice of the Word more so than we do things of the flesh. Yes, it is important to be healthy and exercise and take care of our bodies, but more so not to become obsessed to where it takes away from living a life of godliness and faith in our Savior. We must put more effort exercising our knowledge of the Word and living by it.
Paul further moves into discussing ministry, instructing Timothy to take heed in his ministry. He said not to despise the youth, and be an example of living in love and faith in Jesus Christ to them. This also goes back to another scripture of not antagonizing our children. Ephesians 6:4 (KJV)4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Remember, kids are the next generation! We are to be a shining example of living for Christ to them.
Paul wraps up this portion of the letter by also telling Timothy to take heed in the gift given to him by the Lord, which is to minister, and not to forget that, and to continue his practice so that his growth would be evident to all to witness. When we are shining examples of Christ, we not only save ourselves, but possibly lead others to Christ so that they can be saved too, because when they see the change in us from Him, they want a piece of that too!
The next part of Paul’s letter gives a simple and true way in which we should treat members of the church, and other people in general. He writes that we should not rebuke an older man, but exhort him as a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with all purity. This means treat older men how you would your own dad, and likewise with older women, and younger men and women.
Paul then moves on to telling Timothy how churches should handle a widow, to honor true widows, and how to decide whom is not a widow according to the Gospel. Paul writes specifically about woman widows here, as well as widowers in general, and goes back and forth through some sentences. It is important to understand this so that there is no gender confusion.
This was also a cover for the church - the Lord would not let His church support a widow financially if she was not faithful and was living an ungodly life. Furthermore, even a recognized widow, if she had children of age able to do so, they should take care of her needs first, before it fell to the church. To qualify, for example, a widow must trust in God, pray night and day, and certainly not live a life of sin and pleasure. She must be blameless in these things, or else living a life purely in fleshly desires leads to being spiritually dead. Paul says a widow must be 60 years old, before she can be classified as a widow. In other words, a deemed age in which remarrying would not be likely.
Furthermore, he writes that if anyone does not care for his own widow, as in not caring for your elderly mother for father who can’t help themselves, you are actually going against the Word. God teaches us to honor our parents and this includes caring for their needs when they can no longer do it themselves.
Paul also discusses how we should advise younger widows and what they should do in life. He writes of how young widows are susceptible to the enemy - wandering from house to house (sexually immoral), and becoming gossiping busy-bodies, saying things they should not. He advises that it is best for a young widow to remarry - man or woman - since they have experience family life and will likely not be happy single, and this will help to stay away from sin as far as possible. It is better to marry again than to live the rest of your life with desire for another man or woman, especially at a young age under 60.
Paul wraps up here with discussing how we should honor the elders in our church. Recognize them as worthy of respect, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine. Do not receive an accusation against them without at least two or three witnesses. Those who are sinning, we should bring up in front of all, that the rest may also learn and fear, and do it without prejudice or partiality.
Paul also advises Timothy to drink a little wine with his water - for his stomach issues. Doing a little research, we find that during this time water supplies were often contaminated with viruses and bacteria. A little wine helped this. He emphasized little.
He wraps up by advising Timothy on man’s sins and works. Some men will sin and it will be very evident, and some will sin and it will remain hidden for a long time, but all will be shown eventually, and come to the surface. Likewise, a good man’s good works are readily seen, and those that aren’t cannot be hidden.
Thank you for reading today. I hope you can examine my interpretations and explanations here so that you can use Paul’s letter to Timothy and apply it to your life. Keep in mind, he was writing in faith, and given wise counsel from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Look out for the final part of this article series, coming soon, A Letter for Our Day - Part 5, beginning and finishing with the final part of his letter, 1st Timothy 6.