Today I want to continue with Paul’s charge to Timothy in his first letter to him. His instructions were those of a spiritual father to a spiritual son, an apostolic father to the pastor of a church and a regional overseeing leader. The principals, patterns, and values presented in Paul’s instruction to Timothy reveal to us the responsibilities of leaders and the character of what they are responsible to lead.
Paul reminded Timothy that his role of leadership was a gift given to him by the grace of the Holy Spirit. Timothy was to wage a good warfare concerning the prophecies that had been made concerning himself and he was to walk in the faith before those he was responsible for.
1 Timothy 1:18-20 This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck, of whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.
He was to not become shipwrecked in his faith like Hemenaeus and Alexander, whom Paul had delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme. This reveals the weight of the responsibility of leadership and the willingness to take harsh measures if necessary in the protection of the souls of those within their sphere of authority. If you study the action of turning someone over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh you will discover that the purpose was one of love and redemption. It was not a action taken lightly nor was it a act of anger in retaliation to harm caused by someone. It was a strategic and deliberate action intended to lead someone to the place of repentance unto life in Christ. It was not an act of the flesh, but one led by the Holy Spirit as was the case in Paul’s first letter to the church of Corinth and his second letter confirming the restoration of such a man. Paul simply references two individuals who had gone down such a path to encourage Timothy to sent an example that encourages others to remain faithful in the faith. Timothy was to set an example in faith and give a clear testimony to those in the family of God so they would not be influenced by others who had gone astray from their commitment in Christ.
The responsibility of leadership is a very practical one. It involves dealing with people in an everyday world and it deals with the realities of everyday life. Timothy’s responsibilities were not merely about activities within a church structure, but the testimony of the church in the communities of the world. Timothy was to pray and teach those in his charge to pray for kings and all in authority. He was to teach them to live peaceable lives with godliness and reverence. These are not mere activities of the church, but are targeted to the very character of the members of the church in their everyday lives in the communities of the world.
1 Timothy 2:1-4 Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
Paul’s own example was one of being a teacher of faith and truth. A teacher of faith is someone who demonstrates faith before others. Faith comes by hearing God and it is demonstrated with actions of love that demonstrate a faith towards God. Truth is a testimony of the transformed reality of Christ within our lives. Paul was to be an example of truth so that others could also become truth in Christ. These same instructions were given from Paul to Timothy and they are still true within the sphere of responsibility of leadership in the church. Leaders are to be an example as teachers of faith and truth before the people so that everyone can be obedient to the words that God speaks to their hearts and be a true testimony to the life of Christ that is transforming them from within. It is not about church structure, it is about a way of life that demonstrates the lordship of Jesus in all things.
1 Timothy 2:5-7 For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time, for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle—I am speaking the truth in Christ and not lying—a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.
The family of God is the community of God. They are a testimony of a culture of honor and love in the world. They are not seekers of self, fearful in their focus, or vain in their personal desires. They live as examples of the likeness and the image of God in their testimony as men and women before Him. Wives are in submission to their husbands and are not contentious, striving to be separate from relationship. A woman learning in silence with all submission is not a woman without a voice. It is a woman learning with an attitude of relationship with her husband. There are examples of women teaching in the early church, such as Persilla, who with her husband Aquila were somehow fellow workers with Paul in the gospel (Rom. 16:3). Phoebe was an influential woman in the church and commended by Paul in the work that she did in the church of Cenchrea (Rom. 16:1,2). Adronicus and Junias, were relatives of Paul who had been imprisoned for testifying of Christ (Rom. 16:7). These were known among the apostles for their testimony. Junia was likely a woman with a notable testimony for Christ. Tryphena, Tryphosa, and Persis were “women who work hard in the Lord” (Rom. 16:12). Julia, the sister of Nereus, and the mother of Rufus was a woman involved in the churh (Rom 16:13, 15). Several women were mentioned by Paul that clearly imply that women had a prominent role in church life. I believe that what Paul’s words in his letter to Timothy are not intended to be a law against women teaching, but a guideline for proper relationships and submission in the church. The word for woman in Paul’s letter to Timothy is the Greek word gyneœ , GS1135, and it means a woman, a married woman, or wife. The text is implying the relationship of a wife and her husband where the man is the head and wife is the testimony of the body in their one flesh testimony in Christ. The inference is simply a way of relationship and life, not a structure for ministry. Leaders must deal with real life situations and real life relationships in an everyday world.
1 Timothy 2:8-15 I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting; in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works. Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control.
The testimony in this text is one of being a married couple. It is one of being a family unit. It is a testimony of being one flesh. This is not a woman to all men, it is a woman to one man. It is the testimony of a wife and her husband as Adam and Eve were husband and wife as a testimony of one flesh before God. The statement of being saved in childbearing is not a salvation unto heaven, but a testimony of a healthy family before God that lives in the grace of salvation in a testimony of faith, love, and holiness with self-control. Again, it is a healthy lifestyle and not a means or method of ministry. It is a testimony of a life empowered by grace, not rules subjected by leaders for law and order in the church. It is a characteristic of the church, not requirements of members in an institution. The church is a body, not an organization and leadership serves a role of responsibility in helping the members of the body of Christ live their lives with a good testimony as the body of Christ.
Food For Thought,
Ted J. Hanson