1 Timothy 1:1-7
Timothy, the recipient of this letter, was a pastor in Ephesus, a harbor city on the west coast of the province of Asia. Ephesus was an important cultural, commercial and religious center. The most prominent feature of Ephesus was its Temple to Artemis or the goddess Diana, a fertility goddess. This temple became one the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. A key livelihood was that of the silversmiths who fashioned silver shrines and images of Diana to sell to the tourist-worshipers. Paul was so successful in his ministry (Acts 19:20) that it threatened their livelihood. Paul wrote this letter several years after his three years spent there. [See also “Who Were Timothy and Titus?” in the Overview.]
1. Read 1Timothy 1:1-7 and 4:1-2. What information is revealed about Timothy?
2. To learn more about Timothy, read the following passages. What do we know about Timothy? What type of person was he? How did Paul regard Timothy?
· Acts 16:1-3—
· 1 Corinthians 4:17—
· 1 Corinthians 16:10-11—
· Philippians 2:19-24—
· 1 Thessalonians 3:2—
· 1 Timothy 4:12—
· Hebrews 13:23—
3. Read 1 Timothy 1:3-6 and 4:1-2. What appears to be the problem plaguing the church in Ephesus?
Historical Insight: What did Paul mean by “myths and endless genealogies (1:4)?” We don’t know exactly what the false teachers in Ephesus were teaching. If they were Jews, they may have devised a complex mythology based on Old Testament genealogies. On the other hand, they may have been forerunners of the groups that became popular in the second century A. D. We call those groups Gnostics from the Greek word gnosis, “knowledge.” Each Gnostic group claimed that one could be saved from futility only by knowing some secret knowledge which that group alone possessed. This secret knowledge they claimed centered around a complex genealogy, beginning with the true “Absolute,” who fathered a secondary deity, who fathered a tertiary deity or deities, and so on.
4. What do the verses in the previous question tell us about the nature and consequences of false teaching?
5. In contrast to false teaching, what is the goal of true teaching (v. 5), and from where does it come?
6. Using a dictionary/Bible dictionary, define these phrases:
· “pure heart”—
· “good conscience”—
· “sincere faith”—
7. Adorning Yourself: How can you live out the goal of love in a society characterized by false and empty teaching?
8. In 1 Timothy 1:4-5, Paul outlines 2 ways of determining whether a teaching is valid and true. Read the following summary:
Paul paints a double contrast between speculation and faith in God's revelation and between controversy and love for one another. Here are two practical tests for us to apply to all teaching. The first is the test of faith: does it come from God, being in agreement with apostolic doctrine (so that it may be received by faith), or is it the product of fertile human imagination? The second is the test of love: does it promote unity in the body of Christ?...Faith means that we receive it from God; love means that it builds up the church. The ultimate criteria by which to judge any teaching are whether it promotes the glory of God and the good of the church. (John Stott, Fighting the Good Fight)
Does this summary help you understand verses 4-5 in discerning whether a certain teaching might be truth or error? Why or why not?
9. In verse 6, how does someone "stray” (“wander away”-NIV) from a pure heart, a good conscience and a sincere faith?
10. What do you suppose Paul means by the phrase "empty discussion" (NET) or "meaningless talk" (NIV)?
11. Adorning Yourself: Pay attention to your conversation this week. How much of your conversation would you describe as "fruitless" or "meaningless?" How much is edifying or uplifting?
Think About It: “By entertaining of strange persons, men sometimes entertain angels unawares; but by entertaining of strange doctrines, many have entertained devils unaware.” (John Flavel)