When we read the books of 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus, we are reading a unique section of Scripture. These letters are written from a spiritual father to His spiritual sons concerning their responsibilities as leaders in the church of God. These letters are not written to the church, but to the leaders of the church. They are profitable for us all to read, but when we read them we must understand that they are instructions concerning practical and relational responsibilities of specific leaders in specific churches. The issues of their day set a principle, pattern, and value for the issues of our own day. These letters were not written so we can examine leaders to see whether they are fulfilling their responsibilities or not. They were written so we will each understand the kind of responsibilities carried by leaders, the kind of culture they are required to develop and maintain, and the kind of instructions given to leaders as to their position in the church in their responsibility of authority. These things should be understood by church leaders as well as by members of the church community. They were not intended to be a means of apply legalism or law concerning word-by-word rules in the church. They are guidelines for roles of authority in the church. Remember, authority is an attribute of giving. It is not one of control. Authority gives life and leadership has a responsibility of maintaining a kingdom culture of life in the church.
In the first letter to Timothy, Paul instructed that Timothy was to teach people to live godly lifestyles. He was to charge those in his care to not be caught up in pointless things that merely prove to be fables, endless genealogies, or other things like that that simply cause disputes. As a shepherd to the flock of God, Timothy was to guard the culture of the community. It was to be a culture of life and peace. This principle, pattern, and value apply to church leaders in our day as well.
Members of a congregation will sometimes pursue things that don’t really matter in the scope of the flock. They are simply things of personal preference, personal opinion, or some personal revelation that promotes a personal idea in some way. The shepherds in the flock of God must guard against things that merely cause disputes in the community of faith. They must exercise their authority in charging those who promote things that cause disputes to cease their pursuit of such things in the context of the community of God. Leaders are responsible to guard the community of God to maintain a safe, life-giving culture of love.
1 Timothy 1:3-4 As I urged you when I went into Macedonia—remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine, nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith.
The culture of the community of God must be one that promotes godly edification and faith. Leaders are responsible to command if necessary in maintaining the culture of life for the community of God. Timothy was to charge those who sought to bring disputes into the church to cease their pursuit of dispute. His motive in his commands was one of love and a pure heart. He was to set an example of conscience and faith. In the church of the first century some had strayed from true faith in the pursuit of worthless talk and meaningless legalism. These things reveal a principle, pattern, and value that must be embraced by leaders in the church of God. Members of the community of God must understand that God-given leaders are like shepherds in a flock of sheep, responsible to maintain a safe environment of life for the flock of God.
1 Timothy 1:5-7 Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith, from which some, having strayed, have turned aside to idle talk, desiring to be teachers of the law, understanding neither what they say nor the things which they affirm.
Timothy was to present that the law is for sinners and the ungodly, not the standard of judgment of one another. He was to teach grace and forgiveness and present himself, like Paul, as an example of God’s goodness and forgiveness to mankind.
1 Timothy 1:8-11 But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully, knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God which was committed to my trust.
1 Timothy 1:12-17 And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
The community of God is a place of reconciliation, forgiveness, redemption, and restoration. The mercy of God ends the past and the grace of God empowers each one to experience a life-transforming change in their lives. Leaders must set an example in these things and lead to create, guard, and protect a culture that gives glory to the King of kings – Jesus Christ the Lord of glory!
Food For Thought,
Ted J. Hanson