“Teach No Other Doctrine”
Up to this point, all of Paul’s letters have been addressed to local churches. 1st and 2nd Timothy and Titus are Pastoral Epistles. They were written by divine inspiration to give us specific, clear instructions about how we are to behave ourselves in the house of God (1 Tim. 3:15). These three epistles are specifically addressed to Timothy and Titus, divinely appointed pastors of local churches, because it is the pastor’s responsibility in any local church to guide God’s people in the worship and service of Christ.
The first two of these very important, Pastoral Epistles was written to Paul’s friend and faithful co-laborer in the gospel, Timothy (1:1-4). Timothy had enjoyed the rare, blessed privilege of being raised under the influence of Holy Scripture. He was taught the Word of God as a child, both by his mother and his grandmother (2 Tim. 1:5; 3:15); and he was converted when he was just a young man.
Because Paul speaks of Timothy as his “own son in the faith” (1:2), many have thought he was converted under the influence of Paul’s ministry. But that does not appear to have been the case. In Acts 16:1-2 we discover that Timothy was already converted when Paul first met him. Though he was but a very young man, he was already a disciple “well reported of by the brethren.”
Paul calls Timothy his “own son in the faith,” because he was to him, in the family of God, like a father. Paul was the man through whom Timothy was taught, by whom his spiritual life was directed. And Timothy served him with all the love, and loyalty, and faithfulness of a son serving his father, though Timothy was himself a faithful gospel preacher.
Paul had sent Timothy to Ephesus; but for some reason he wanted Paul’s approval (if not permission) to leave there and go to another place. We are not told why he wanted to leave; but Paul urged him to stay, that he might charge those who were wavering from the faith “that they teach no other doctrine” (1:3).
Christ in 1st Timothy
It will be edifying, I am sure, to see how Paul sets forth the person, work, and glory of our Lord Jesus Christ in this book. He tells us in the very first verse of the first chapter that Christ is our Hope. We have no hope before God but him. His blood, his righteousness, and his intercession give us a good hope. The Lord Jesus Christ is the Savior of sinners. He came into this world specifically to save sinners (1:15). What blessed good news this is! This great Savior is God, the Eternal King (1:17). He is also our Mediator, the one Mediator between God and men (2:5), our Daysman, our Advocate with the Father. The Lord Jesus Christ is our Ransom. He gave himself a ransom for our souls and ransomed us out from under the curse of the law (2:6). This all-glorious Christ, our great Savior, has been received up into Glory as our Ransom and Mediator (3:14-16). Our exalted Redeemer is the Savior and Preserver of all men in providence, and he is specially, distinctly, the Savior and preserver of all who trust him (4:9-10). And he in whom we trust is the Blessed and only Potentate (the only Possessor of power), King, and Lord of the universe (6:13-16).
“No Other Doctrine”
In chapter 1 Paul tells Timothy to “charge” (command, order, or demand) that those under his care “teach no other doctrine” than the gospel of God’s pure, free, sovereign grace in Christ (1:3-20). The errors and heresies Timothy had to resist in Ephesus in his day are the same as those the church of God faces in every generation and in every part of the world. Some added to the Revelation of God in Holy Scripture the moral fables of human wisdom and philosophy. Others claimed to find secret codes and meanings hidden away in the genealogical records of the Old Testament. They taught nothing that was comforting and edifying. Their doctrine only raised questions and stirred strife and division in the church. And there were legalists at Ephesus, as there are everywhere, who tried to put God’s saints back under the yoke of bondage to the Mosaic law.
Paul tells us that such people “have turned aside unto vain jangling, desiring to be teachers of the law; but they simply do not know what they are talking about. They try to put righteous men and women, the saints of God, under the terror of the law, not knowing that the law was made for the unrighteous (1:8-11). Paul tells us that all such doctrine is “contrary to sound doctrine,” contrary to “the glorious gospel of the blessed God.”
After telling Timothy to command that no one in the church of God be allowed to teach such things, having just mentioned “the glorious gospel of the blessed God,” Paul tells us what great things the Lord God had wrought in him by the gospel (1:12-17), assuring us of its reliability (1:15).
Paul gave Timothy (and every gospel preacher) four distinct charges in this epistle (1:18-20; 4:11-16; 5:21-25; 6:11-16). The first chapter closes with a charge issued to all who preach the gospel to “war a good warfare, holding faith with a good conscience” (1:18-20).
In chapters 2 and 3 Paul tells us that all matters involved in the worship of God must be orderly and ordered by the Word of God. It is clear that he considered the matter of public worship to be a matter of highest priority in the lives of God’s saints. He specifically discusses three things in these two chapters: (1.) Prayer, (2.) The Role of Women, and (3.) The Qualifications for Pastors and Deacons.
With regard to the matter of prayer, specifically public prayer in the house of God, Paul tells us that we ought always to pray for all men, that is for men of every rank and order in society, particularly for those who are in authority over us (2:1-8).
In verses 9-15 of chapter 2 he tells us that women ought to display a conscientious awareness of the fact that they are women, behaving as ladies in the house of God, filled with modesty and observing God’s order in creation. When women come to the house of God, they are to dress modestly, as “women professing godliness,” “learn in silence, with all subjection,” never teaching or usurping authority over men, but always “to be in silence.”
In chapter 3, verses 1-13 the apostle tells us that pastors and deacons must be men of proven faith and faithfulness.
He concludes the chapter with a tremendous statement concerning the purpose and message of God’s church in this world (3:14-16).
“These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly: But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.”
Instructions to Preachers
The entire last half of 1 Timothy (chapters 4-6) is taken up with instructions to preachers. In these chapters he tells Timothy and all who are trusted with the blessed work of preaching the gospel the kind of men they should aspire to be as the servants of God.
He begins this section by telling us that God’s servants in this world must constantly deal with and help God’s people to resist an ever-increasing departure from the gospel (4:1-5).
“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.”
He tells us that a good preacher will both constantly put the brethren in remembrance of these things and steadfastly resist every temptation to turn away from the message of the gospel (4:6-8).
In verses 11-16 Paul urges Timothy, and every man to whom God has given the blessed privilege of preaching the gospel of Christ, to give himself in wholehearted devotion to the work of the ministry. This is Paul’s second charge to Timothy.
“These things command and teach. Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to 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. 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.”
In the 5th chapter we are told how we are to respect and care for God’s saints, particularly those who are widows (widows in deed), and those elders who labor in the Word and doctrine. The chapter concludes with a third charge, demanding that these things be done, that God’s saints and his preachers be cared for without partiality. ― “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.” (5:21).
Preachers and Money
One of the greatest difficulties preachers have is the handling of money. Faithful men are often in a position to abuse the gifts of others; and greed and covetousness are powerful lusts of the flesh that must be constantly resisted. Therefore, Paul (the Holy Spirit speaking by Paul) commands every gospel preacher to flee from the love of money and the will to enrich himself (6:6-12).
“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.”
Paul’s fourth charge to Timothy, his fourth charge to all who preach the gospel, is that we keep this commandment with regard to money and material things as those who are indeed the servants of the King of kings (6:13-16).
“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, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ: Which in his times he shall show, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.”
“Them that Are Rich”
In verses 17-19 of chapter 6 the apostle moves from the preacher and his attitude toward money to the people who actually are rich, and tells Timothy to instruct those of God’s saints in this world who are entrusted with material wealth to use it wisely and graciously for the glory of God and the good of his people.
“Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.”
This instructive epistle closes with a passionate appeal to Timothy to look upon the gospel of the grace of God as a great treasure trusted to his hands, a treasure to be guarded as one would guard his life, faithfully (2 Cor. 4:7; 6:20-21). ― “We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.”
“O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: Which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace be with thee. Amen.”