In difficult times, stay in the Word
The Apostle Paul and Timothy had a wonderful relationship. They were very close. In fact, Paul often called Timothy, who was much younger, his ‘son’. Paul had left Timothy in Ephesus to lead the church there while Paul continued his travels. Things became increasingly difficult in Ephesus, and Timothy was ready to leave, so Paul sent him a letter to encourage him as well as give him some instruction. That letter is I Timothy. Simply by reading the first two verses of the letter, we can see the encouragement Paul is sending. “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope. To Timothy my true son in the faith: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.” Paul reminds Timothy he was an ‘apostle’, ‘by the command of God. So when he says, ‘grace, mercy and peace from God’, that would be enormously comforting. Also notice Paul writes, ‘God our Savior’. That statement alone shows the strength of Paul. At this time in history, Roman Caesar’s demanded they be called ‘savior’. Paul makes it very clear who the true Savior is.
Men in Ephesus were teaching ‘false doctrine’. Paul needed Timothy to confront these individuals. No wonder Timothy wanted to leave. This would be no easy task. Timothy would have to stand firm against difficult people. Even in our modern times, people can have their own version of truth, and stray from the Word. It can be really hard to deal with people like this. So what is truth? Remember Pilate asked Jesus this very question! Jesus answered him: “you are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this reason I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to Me.” (John 18: 37)
Paul further says of these men, “these promote controversies rather than God’s work.” I know there is a human desire to be ‘right’, and we can argue endlessly on insignificant things. We need Paul’s reminder that we’re trying to win souls, not arguments. Paul continues with the purpose for the commandment: If spending time in God’s Word does not produce love from a pure heart, a good conscience, or sincere faith in us, then something is wrong! Paul says of these men, “they want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about…” (I Timothy 1: 7) Teaching we are made righteous through the law is dangerous. This kind of legalism may make us twist God’s Words, so that instead of showing love, we are harsh and judgmental; instead of having a good conscience, we always feel condemned feeling we don’t measure up; and instead of sincere faith we practice trust in our own abilities to please God.
Paul makes it clear, there is nothing wrong with the law. The purpose of the law is to show us our sin. In Romans, Paul wrote, “Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his own sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscience of sin.” (Romans 3: 20) Paul continues, “But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ…” (vs. 21-22) Paul needs Timothy to defend this truth and be sure what men are teaching “conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which He entrusted to me (Paul).” (I Timothy 1: 11)
In a difficult time, Paul reached out to Timothy with Christian love. He told Timothy to stay strong. Defend the truth of Jesus Christ. And, stay in the Word.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Originally from Erie, Pennsylvania, Dan is a graduate of Otterbein College (now University). He graduated with a degree in education. From time to time Dan still substitute teaches. His interest in history led him to investigate the historical accuracy of the Bible. This, in turn, led to a full investigation of Apologetics.