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50. 1 Timothy: Believing and Behaving in the Household of God


When Paul passed through Lystra on his second missionary journey, the brethren highly commended a young man named Timothy (Acts 16:1-2). Paul circumcised Timothy and took him along with him as he went his way (16:3). This was the beginning of a long and fruitful association. Timothy became one of Paul’s most trusted colleagues:

19 Now I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you quickly, so that I too may be encouraged by hearing news about you. 20 For there is no one here like him who will readily demonstrate his deep concern for you. 21 Others are busy with their own concerns, not those of Jesus Christ. 22 But you know his qualifications, that like a son working with his father, he served with me in advancing the gospel (Philippians 2:19-22).398

Paul and Timothy became so close that Paul spoke of himself as Timothy’s spiritual father (Philippians 2:22), and of Timothy as his “son” in the faith (see, for example, 1 Timothy 1:2, 18). Paul frequently sent Timothy to churches as his personal emissary (e.g. 1 Corinthians 4:17; 16:10; 1 Thessalonians 3:2). In no less than six of Paul’s letters, Paul includes Timothy in his greeting (2 Corinthians 1:1; Philippians 1:1; Colossians 1:1; 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:1; Philemon 1:1).

The Book of Acts ends with Paul’s imprisonment in Rome. From Paul’s words in the first chapter of Philippians, we assume with some assurance that he was found innocent, and thus was able to resume his ministry. After Paul’s release around A.D. 62, it would seem that he made a fourth missionary journey. As Paul made his way toward Macedonia, he left Timothy behind in Ephesus, and Titus in Crete.

Paul knew well that the church at Ephesus needed a man like Timothy. He had earlier warned of those who would arise – even from among the elders – who would turn from the truth and teach false doctrine in order to gain a personal following:

29 I know that after I am gone fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 Even from among your own group men will arise, teaching perversions of the truth to draw the disciples away after them (Acts 20:29-30).

Apparently this had already begun to happen, and so Paul found it necessary to leave Timothy behind in Ephesus as he made his way to Macedonia:

3 As I urged you when I was leaving for Macedonia, stay on in Ephesus to instruct certain people not to spread false teachings, 4 nor to occupy themselves with myths and interminable genealogies. Such things promote useless speculations rather than God’s redemptive plan that operates by faith. 5 But the aim of our instruction is love that comes from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith. 6 Some have strayed from these and turned away to empty discussion. 7 They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not understand what they are saying or the things they insist on so confidently (1 Timothy 1:3-7).

One of Paul’s reasons for writing his First Epistle to Timothy was to instruct him how to recognize and deal with these false teachers. But more broadly Paul’s purpose was to instruct the saints through Timothy as to how they should behave as members of the household of God:399

14 I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these instructions to you 15 in case I am delayed, to let you know how people ought to conduct themselves in the household of God, because it is the church of the living God, the support and bulwark of the truth (1 Timothy 3:14-15).

The church, Paul wrote, is “the support and bulwark of the truth.” While the false teachers sought to deceive the Ephesian saints, it was the church that was to uphold the truth; the church was the key to dealing with these deceivers, just as they were to uphold and proclaim the truth. First Timothy is God’s instruction manual for the conduct of the church.

Many books are available in the bookstore that deal with the subject of the church, but 1 Timothy contains God’s divinely inspired, inerrant, infallible instructions regarding the church. Seldom does one find contemporary works on the church dealing with the subject matter that we find in 1 or 2 Timothy. This is a vitally important book, one which we should hear and heed. Let us listen well, then, and ask God’s Spirit to enable us to think our way through the message of this great letter from the Apostle Paul to his spiritual son, and thus to the church at Ephesus.

Chapter 1
Dealing With False Teachers

Paul’s introduction in the first two verses is meant as much for the Ephesians as it is for Timothy. It is almost as though Paul knows that the Ephesians will be reading this letter over Timothy’s shoulder. Timothy did not need to be reminded of Paul’s apostleship. Paul makes a point of addressing Timothy in a way that conveys his confidence in Timothy. He writes so that the Ephesians will recognize that when Timothy speaks or takes action, he does so with Paul’s authorization and authority:

1 From Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope, 2 to Timothy, my genuine child in the faith. Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord! (1 Timothy 1:1-2)

In verses 3-7, Paul quickly gets to the point. Paul instructed Timothy to stay on at Ephesus in order to silence those who were false teachers. In these verses Paul describes the false teachers, contrasting their message, motivation, and goals with genuine apostolic instruction:

3 As I urged you when I was leaving for Macedonia, stay on in Ephesus to instruct certain people not to spread false teachings, 4 nor to occupy themselves with myths and interminable genealogies. Such things promote useless speculations rather than God’s redemptive plan that operates by faith. 5 But the aim of our instruction is love that comes from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith. 6 Some have strayed from these and turned away to empty discussion. 7 They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not understand what they are saying or the things they insist on so confidently (1 Timothy 1:3-7).

The false teachers did not merely read “between the lines;” they read “outside the lines.” As Paul put it in 1 Corinthians 4:6, they “went beyond what is written.” Paul speaks of their content as “false teachings,” based upon “myths and interminable genealogies” (1 Timothy 1:3-4). Ostensibly these teachers were using the Old Testament law as their text, but the Scriptures were set aside. The end result of this teaching was empty speculation which did not promote God’s redemptive plan – it did not advance the cause of the gospel. Their teaching was as fruitless as the fig tree which our Lord cursed. These teachers spoke with great confidence and with an air of authority, but in reality they didn’t understand what they were talking about.

In verse 5, Paul contrasts this false teaching with the authentic instruction of the apostles. The goal of apostolic, biblical teaching is love. Those who teach a genuine message do so out of a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere or genuine faith. Their motivation is pure. Their conscience is clean because their practice conforms to their preaching (contrast 1 Timothy 4:2; Matthew 23:3). Their faith is genuine, because it is rooted and grounded in the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

These false teachers are Jewish (compare 2 Corinthians 11:22). They claim to teach that which the Old Testament law did not make clear, but which they have somehow come to understand, while others remain unenlightened (compare 6:20). They interpret and apply the Old Testament law so as to make themselves look good. Paul counters with verses 8-11:

8 But we know that the law is good if someone uses it legitimately, 9 realizing that law is not intended for a righteous person, but for lawless and rebellious people, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, 10 sexually immoral, practicing homosexuals, kidnappers, liars, perjurers—in fact, for any who live contrary to sound teaching (1 Timothy 1:8-10).

The law indeed is good (see Romans 7:12, 14). But the law was not given to make men feel righteous. The law was given to condemn all mankind as sinners:

19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20 For no one is declared righteous before him by the works of the law, for through the law comes the knowledge of sin (Romans 3:19-20; see also Romans 7:7-8).

The law was given to condemn and convict us of our sin and to show us that salvation cannot be earned by law-keeping or good works, but must be provided for us by God, on the basis of grace through faith. As Paul put it in Romans:

21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God (which is attested by the law and the prophets) has been disclosed— 22 namely, the righteousness of God through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. 24 But they are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. 25 God publicly displayed him at his death as the mercy seat accessible through faith. This was to demonstrate his righteousness, because God in his forbearance had passed over the sins previously committed (Romans 3:21-25).

Paul says the same thing in 1 Timothy, but in a slightly different way. Paul gives his own personal testimony to demonstrate the same truth:

11 This accords with the glorious gospel of the blessed God that was entrusted to me. 12 I am grateful to the one who has strengthened me, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he considered me faithful in putting me into ministry, 13 even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor, and an arrogant man. But I was treated with mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief, 14 and our Lord’s grace was abundant, bringing faith and love in Christ Jesus. 15 This saying is trustworthy and deserves full acceptance: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I am the worst of them! 16 But here is why I was treated with mercy: so that in me as the worst, Christ Jesus could demonstrate his utmost patience, as an example for those who are going to believe in him for eternal life. 17 Now to the eternal king, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever! Amen (1 Timothy 1:11-17).

The gospel authenticates Paul’s message, and indeed the gospel is Paul’s message. The gospel declares that men are not saved by law-keeping or good works, as the false teachers maintain, but by faith in Jesus Christ. Paul gives his personal testimony to underscore this point. Do these Jewish false teachers think that their twisting of the Old Testament law proves them to be pious? Paul once thought the same way, when he was lost in his sins. But he was wrong, dead wrong! His teaching and ministry before his conversion were worthless. He, like the false teachers in Ephesus, “acted ignorantly in unbelief” (1 Timothy 1:13). He was not just a sinner; he was the chief of sinners (verse 15). When Paul was saved, he received mercy (verse 16). He was saved by grace, so that the glory must go to God alone (verses 16-17). When Paul came to faith he renounced his smug self-righteousness, and clung to God’s mercy and grace (see Philippians 3:1-11).

In the final verses of chapter 1, Paul gets pretty specific and applicational:

18 I put this charge before you, Timothy my child, in keeping with the prophecies once spoken about you, in order that with such encouragement you may fight the good fight. 19 To do this you must hold firmly to faith and a good conscience, that some have rejected and so have suffered shipwreck in regard to the faith. 20 Among these are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme (1 Timothy 1:18-20).

Timothy is urged to act according to Paul’s instructions. He needs to do so, encouraged by the memory that at the outset of his ministry prophecies were uttered which confirmed his calling. He must, like his spiritual father, “contend earnestly for the faith” (compare Jude 1:3). In Paul’s words, he must “fight the good fight” (verse 18). Unlike the false teachers, he must “hold firmly to the faith” and to a “good conscience.” The false teachers have not done so. They have forsaken the faith and a good conscience. Two men – Hymenaeus and Alexander – are identified as false teachers. Paul has already “handed them over to Satan” (verse 20); let Timothy deal with them accordingly (compare 1 Corinthians 5:1-5).

Chapter 2
Living a Peaceful and Quiet Life

I have always struggled with this chapter, not because of Paul’s teaching on the role of women in the church, but because I could not see the connection between verses 1-8 and verses 9-15. The most difficult word in the second chapter is the first word of verse 9, “likewise.” In what way is Paul’s instruction to women in verses 9-15 “like” his instruction in verses 1-8? I think I have found the connection. Let’s begin by looking at verses 1-8:

1 First of all, then, I urge that requests, prayers, intercessions, and thanks be offered on behalf of all people, 2 even for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. 3 Such prayer for all is good and welcomed before God our Savior, 4 since he wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God and one intermediary between God and humanity, Christ Jesus, himself human, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, revealing God’s purpose at his appointed time. 7 For this I was appointed a preacher and apostle—I am telling the truth; I am not lying—and a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. 8 So I want the men to pray in every place, lifting up holy hands without anger or dispute (1 Timothy 2:1-8).

Verses 1-7 are Paul’s general words of instruction to the church. As a matter of priority (“first of all, then,” verse 1), the church is to devote itself to prayer. In particular, the church is to devote itself to prayers of petition, intercession, and thanksgiving on behalf of all people. When my neighbor goes to the hospital for surgery, I should pray for his recovery. When my neighbor starts a new business, I should pray that he succeeds (if, indeed, that business is an honorable one). I am to pray for the well-being of my neighbors.

More specifically and, I might add, with much greater difficulty, I am to pray for those in leadership over me and over my nation. If I happen to be a Republican and a Democrat becomes president, I am to pray for the well-being of this man (or woman). Among those things I should pray for is the salvation of those who are lost in their sins. This is consistent with God’s desire (though not necessarily with His decree – since not all are chosen). It is consistent with the saving work of our Lord Jesus on the cross of Calvary. Our intercessory prayers for men are consistent with the mediatorial role of the Savior. This is also consistent with Paul’s conversion and calling as an apostle of Jesus Christ. To pray for the salvation of the lost is consistent with Paul’s evangelistic ministry to the lost.

Our benevolent prayers for “all men,” including political leaders, is a practical manifestation of true godliness. If we devote ourselves to pray for the well-being of all men, including those civil leaders who are in authority over us, then we are pursuing the goal of leading a “peaceful and quiet life in all godliness and dignity” (2:2). Christians, as I understand this text, are not to be revolutionaries, but peacemakers. We are not to seek the unlawful downfall of those in authority; instead, we are to submit to their authority, and to pray God’s blessings upon them.

We dare not overlook the fact that the civil leaders of Paul’s day were not the kind of men to whom we would prefer to submit, or to support in prayer. The Roman emperors were cruel and wicked men. Nevertheless, Paul instructs the church to pray for God’s blessings upon them. I am reminded of the example of Daniel, who genuinely cared for Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon:

19 Then Daniel (whose name is also Belteshazzar) was briefly appalled; his thoughts were alarming him. The king said, “Belteshazzar, don’t let the dream and its interpretation alarm you.” But Belteshazzar replied, “Sir, if only the dream were for your enemies and its interpretation applied to your adversaries! (Daniel 4:19)

The general principle, then, is that Christians are to be good citizens, men and women who not only submit to earthly authorities, but who actively seek to live peaceful and quiet lives, and who pray for God’s blessings on our fellow men. This principle of seeking to live a peaceful and quiet life applies to both men and women, though its outworking is not the same. The differences in outworking are demonstrated in verses 8-15:

8 So I want the men to pray in every place, lifting up holy hands without anger or dispute.

9 Likewise the women are to dress in suitable apparel, with modesty and self-control. Their adornment must not be with braided hair and gold or pearls or expensive clothing, 10 but with good deeds, as is proper for women who profess reverence for God. 11 A woman must learn quietly with all submissiveness. 12 But I do not allow a woman to teach or have authority over a man. She must remain quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first and then Eve. 14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman, because she was fully deceived, fell into transgression. 15 But she will be delivered through childbearing, if she continues in faith and love and holiness with self-control (1 Timothy 2:8-15, emphasis mine).

As I understand the apostle’s words, he is not referring to private prayers here, but to public prayers. Men are to pursue a peaceful and quiet life by devoting themselves to prayer “in every place. This could mean that Paul wants Christian men everywhere to pray in obedience to the principles set down in verses 1-7. The words “in every place” may also suggest that men are able to publicly pray in some places where it would not be appropriate for women to do so (such as publicly, in the church – see 1 Corinthians 14:33b-35). Paul’s emphasis, however, does not seem to fall on the “place” where men pray, but rather on the spiritual climate in which these prayers are being offered up. The teachings of the false teachers did not promote love (as did apostolic teaching, see 1:5), but rather strife and contention (1 Timothy 6:3-5; 2 Timothy 2:23). If a lack of tenderness and sensitivity can hinder the prayers of a husband and his wife (1 Peter 3:7), then surely division and strife among the saints will also hinder their prayers. Thus Paul instructs the men to pray, “lifting up holy hands without anger or dispute.” Living a peaceful and quiet life begins at church. The principle of living a quiet life is reiterated in 2 Thessalonians:

Now such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to work quietly and so provide their own food to eat (2 Thessalonians 3:12).

When we come to the word “likewise” in verse 9, we must recognize that Paul is indicating a connection between verses 9-15 and the first part of chapter 2.400 I believe that the connection is the principle Paul has just set down in verses 1-7, namely, that all the saints should submit to those in authority over them, and seek to lead a peaceful and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. In verses 9-15, Paul gives several specific applications of this general instruction as it relates to women. To begin with, Paul applies the principle of a peaceful and quiet life to a woman’s’ appearance in public.

A woman’s appearance and apparel is an indication of her submission to her husband, or the lack of it.401 In 1 Corinthians 11:1-16, Paul teaches that the wife’s submission to her husband is evident in her appearance, specifically by the covering of her head in public worship.402 The wife is to strive to give glory and preeminence to her husband, her spiritual head, rather than to attract attention to herself. Since the woman’s hair is her glory, Paul instructs wives to cover their heads, so as not to distract from their husbands’ glory. Quietness, then, is not just a matter of speech, or the lack of it. It is a disposition that is reflected, in part, in one’s demeanor and dress. Even today we speak of “loud” colors. Some women are not “quiet” in the way that they dress. If there ever was a place where quietness in dress is appropriate, it is in the meeting of the church.403 As we would expect, Peter fully agrees with Paul’s teaching:

1 In the same way, wives, be subject to your own husbands. Then even if some are disobedient to the word, they will be won over without a word by the way you live, 2 when they see your pure and reverent conduct. 3 Let your beauty not be external—the braiding of hair and wearing of gold or fine clothes— 4 but the inner person of the heart, the lasting beauty of a gentle and tranquil spirit, which is precious in God’s sight. 5 For in the same way the holy women who hoped in God long ago adorned themselves by being subject to their husbands, 6 like Sarah who obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. You become her children when you do what is good and have no fear in doing so (1 Peter 3:1-6).

“Quietness” in the church meeting also requires restraint from certain kinds of verbal participation in the public meeting of the church. Let me be very clear at this point. I do not believe that Paul here calls for absolute silence on the part of women in the church meeting. Women can certainly participate verbally in worship as a part of the congregation. What Paul forbids is speech that usurps the authority of the men and of male leadership in the church. Thus, women are specifically instructed to be learners, and not teachers, in the church meeting. They are not to exercise authority over men in the church. In this regard, women are to be quiet (verse 12).404

Paul’s reasons for requiring this quietness have nothing to do with male chauvinism. They have everything to do with submission to the divine order God has created, and which He expects to be practiced in the meeting of the church. Thus, in verses 13 and 14 Paul’s explanation goes all the way back to the relationship of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, at the time of the fall of man. Adam was created first, and then Eve (from Adam’s rib). In this manner Adam was designated as the head of his wife (see here 1 Corinthians 11:8-10). Furthermore, it was at the fall of mankind that the order was reversed. Eve led, and Adam followed. More than this, Eve was deceived, while Adam was not. He willfully acted in disobedience. The conduct of men and women in the church is thereby linked first to God’s order in creation and second to man’s disregard of this divine order in the events of the fall.

For some, these restrictions for women may seem to be a burden too great to bear. As I understand Paul’s words in verse 15, he finds a partial cure in the same biblical context as the curse:

But she will be delivered through childbearing, if she continues in faith and love and holiness with self-control (1 Timothy 2:15).

When God pronounced the curse on the serpent, He also pronounced the promised cure through the seed of the woman:

14 And the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, Cursed are you more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; On your belly shall you go, And dust shall you eat All the days of your life; 15 And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel” (Genesis 3:14-15, NASB).

Eve, and all women after her, would experience pain in childbirth (Genesis 3:16), but in that pain there was hope. It was the “seed of the woman” that would crush the head of the serpent. It was the “seed” of Eve who would be the promised Messiah, and while Satan would “bruise His heel,” the Messiah would crush Satan’s head. Eve’s deliverance from the curse came through the bearing of children. From her offspring, the promised “seed” would come. And come He did (see Galatians 3:16).

Childbearing is not the only significant contribution a woman can make, as Paul’s later words will clearly indicate. But childbearing is a most significant contribution. A woman may not take a prominent leadership role in the church, but she most certainly plays a vital role in the home, as she bears and raises up godly children.

One must wonder why Paul found it necessary to address the issues of dress and the public participation of women in a book that seeks to correct false teaching and to curb false teachers. Is it possible that among the false teachers some were women? We do know that women were particularly being targeted by the false teachers:

5 They will maintain the outward appearance of religion but will have repudiated its power. So avoid people like these. 6 For some of these insinuate themselves into households and captivate weak women who are overwhelmed with sins and led along by various passions. 7 Such women are always seeking instruction, yet never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth (2 Timothy 3:5-7).

Chapter 3
Qualifications for Church Leaders

Neither time nor the purpose of this message permits us to go into detail about the qualifications for church leaders that Paul sets down in 1 Timothy 3.405 What we should note is that by laying down these character qualifications Paul indirectly deals with the false teachers who have made their appearance in the church at Ephesus. There are two ways to detect false teachers: (1) by their doctrine; and, (2) by their conduct. This is why Paul exhorts Timothy to be diligent about both in his personal life:

Be conscientious about how you live and what you teach. Persevere in this, because by doing so you will save both yourself and those who listen to you (1 Timothy 4:16).

The church at Ephesus already had elders (Acts 20:17-35). Paul has already indicated that some of these elders would depart from the faith and become false teachers (Acts 20:29-30). I would understand that while these qualifications surely were meant to be used as standards for all new elders and deacons, they were also to be applied to existing elders and deacons. If any leader at Ephesus failed to meet these standards, it would obligate him to step down, or the church to remove him from office. My main purpose here is to show how these qualifications fit into the overall message and purpose of Paul’s first letter to Timothy.

The final verses of chapter 3 make it crystal clear that Paul’s purpose in writing this letter to Timothy was to set down instructions regarding the conduct of men and women in the church:

14 I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these instructions to you 15 in case I am delayed, to let you know how people ought to conduct themselves in the household of God, because it is the church of the living God, the support and bulwark of the truth. 16 And we all agree, our religion contains amazing revelation:

He was revealed in the flesh,
Vindicated by the Spirit,
Seen by angels,
Proclaimed among Gentiles,
Believed on in the world,
Taken up in glory (1 Timothy 3:14-16).

The instructions Paul gives in 1 Timothy are instructions regarding conduct in the church. These are to be understood as Paul’s authoritative teaching through Timothy, due to his absence. We can certainly say that for the centuries that Paul has been absent because of his martyrdom, his words of instruction live on, with the same authority they had for the church in Ephesus.

I’m inclined to understand verse 16 as a very concise doctrinal creed. It may have been a portion of an ancient hymn. It may have been written by someone else at an earlier date. But it is nonetheless a concise summary of Christian doctrine. It declares the incarnation of our Lord (“He406 was revealed in the flesh”). It states that the claims of our Lord were vindicated by the miraculous works He accomplished through the power of the Holy Spirit. The gospel of salvation through faith in His atoning work was proclaimed to the Gentiles (something the Jewish extremists did not like at all – see Luke 4:16-30; Acts 22:21-22), and He was believed on in the world. He was raised from the dead,407 and He ascended into heaven, seated at the right hand of God.

Chapter 4
Bodily Discipline is Good; Discipline for the Purpose of Godliness is Better

Paul turns once again to the false teachers in Ephesus, further exposing the error of their teaching:

1 Now the Spirit explicitly says that in the later times some will desert the faith and occupy themselves with deceiving spirits and demonic teachings, 2 influenced by the hypocrisy of liars whose consciences are seared. 3 They will prohibit marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. 4 For every creation of God is good and no food is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving. 5 For it is sanctified by God’s word and by prayer (1 Timothy 4:1-5).

The error that is exposed here is asceticism. This false teaching should come as no surprise. The Spirit of God had explicitly revealed that some would forsake the faith and devote themselves to doctrines whose origins are demonic and their outcomes deceptive (4:1). The deceivers are both liars and hypocrites. They believe and teach lies. They are hypocrites in the sense that while they teach abstinence and self-denial, they do not practice it.

3 If someone spreads false teachings and does not agree with sound words (that is, those of our Lord Jesus Christ) and with the teaching that accords with godliness, 4 he is conceited and understands nothing, but has an unhealthy interest in controversies and verbal disputes. This gives rise to envy, dissension, slanders, evil suspicions, 5 and constant bickering by people corrupted in their minds and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a way of making a profit. 6 Now godliness combined with contentment brings great profit. 7 For we have brought nothing into this world and so we cannot take a single thing out either. 8 But if we have food and shelter, we will be satisfied with that. 9 Those who long to be rich, however, stumble into temptation and a trap and many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is the root of all evils. Some people in reaching for it have strayed from the faith and stabbed themselves with many pains (1 Timothy 6:3-10, emphasis mine).

10 For there are many rebellious people, idle-talkers, and deceivers, especially those with Jewish connections, 11 who must be silenced because they mislead whole families by teaching for dishonest gain what ought not to be taught. 12 A certain one of them, in fact, one of their own prophets, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons” (Titus 1:10-12).

Although these false teachers promise such people freedom, they themselves are enslaved to immorality. For whatever a person succumbs to, to that he is enslaved (2 Peter 2:19).

These men forbade marriage, and they required abstinence from certain foods, but it seems apparent that they did not really abstain themselves. These were not forbidden foods (i.e. meats offered to idols; see Acts 15:28-29), nor were these unbiblical marriages (e.g. 1 Corinthians 7:39; see also 2 Corinthians 6:14-18). What was forbidden was a good gift from God, meant to be gratefully enjoyed. Just as Satan sought to create the impression that God was withholding good things from man in the garden (see Genesis 3:1), these men taught demonically-inspired doctrines that forbade good things from the saints. This made the saints who observed these prohibitions even more vulnerable to sin (compare 1 Corinthians 7:5).

Through these false teachers, Satan sought to rob the saints of their joy and of the good things God had provided for their enjoyment (4:4-5). God does not wish His children to constantly “punch their martyr card” by denying themselves the legitimate pleasures of good food and sex within marriage. He provides us with all things for our enjoyment (1 Timothy 6:17). We should receive these with gratitude and thanksgiving (4:4). They are sanctified by the Word of God (which declares all things clean; see Mark 7:19; also Acts 10), and by prayer. What God has called clean, let no man call unclean (Acts 10:15).

Speaking of foods, Paul goes on with these words of advice concerning that which is truly nutritious and that which is not:

6 By pointing out such things to the brothers and sisters, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, having nourished yourself on the words of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed. 7 But reject those myths fit only for the godless and gullible, and train yourself for godliness (1 Timothy 4:6-7, emphasis mine).

Spiritual nourishment comes from the teachings of the Word of God, not from the myths and empty speculations of false teachers. It is their teachings which should be avoided, not good food or marriage.

The false teachers have wrongly associated godliness with abstinence from those things that are good and provided by God for our enjoyment. We know from Colossians that such ascetic abstinence does not contribute to godliness:

20 If you have died with Christ to the elemental spirits of the world, why do you submit to them as though you lived in the world? 21 “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!” 22 These are all destined to perish with use, founded as they are on human commands and teachings. 23 They have the appearance of wisdom with their self-imposed worship and false humility, by an unsparing treatment of the body, but they are thoroughly useless when it comes to restraining the indulgences of the flesh (Colossians 2:20-23).

Paul gives us this very helpful principle, so that we can keep these matters in perspective:

8 For “physical exercise has some value, but godliness is valuable in every way. It holds promise for the present life and for the life to come.” 9 This saying is trustworthy and deserves full acceptance. 10 In fact this is why we work hard and struggle, because we have set our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers (1 Timothy 4:8-10).

Spiritual discipline which strives for godliness is far superior to mere physical discipline. The disciplines advocated by the false teachers were of no value. They only robbed the saints of God-given pleasures. But there are some physical disciplines that are of some profit. Watching our diet and maintaining physical exercise are beneficial to the physical body. But spiritual disciplines are better. Just what are these spiritual disciplines? I believe that at least some of the disciplines which promote godliness are outlined in verses 11-16:

11 Command and teach these things. 12 Let no one look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in your speech, conduct, love, faithfulness, and purity. 13 Until I come, give attention to the public reading of scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. 14 Do not neglect the spiritual gift you have, given to you and confirmed by prophetic words when the elders laid hands on you. 15 Take pains with these things; be absorbed in them, so that everyone will see your progress. 16 Be conscientious about how you live and what you teach. Persevere in this, because by doing so you will save both yourself and those who listen to you (1 Timothy 4:11-16).

Timothy (and all other youthful saints) should exercise discipline over their youthful desires and inclinations. This sounds foreign in our culture, where youth feels compelled to experience every pleasure and indulgence. Discipline is necessary for godliness in matters of speech, conduct, love, faithfulness, and purity. Discipline needs to be exercised in ministry. Timothy is instructed to “give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, and to teaching” (4:13).

Discipline is likewise needed to develop our spiritual gift(s):

6 Because of this I remind you to rekindle God’s gift that you possess through the laying on of my hands. 7 For God did not give us a Spirit of fear but of power and love and self-control (2 Timothy 1:6-7).

Paul reminds Timothy of the time when his ministry was confirmed by prophetic words and when the elders laid their hands on him, which appears to have been accompanied by certain spiritual gifts (4:14). These are matters which require Timothy’s commitment and personal discipline. Paul urges his spiritual son to give careful attention to both his doctrine and his practice. In doing this, Timothy will be spared from a wasted life and ministry. He will likewise deliver those who listen to him from the pitfalls of an undisciplined life.

1 Timothy 5:1—6:2
Showing Honor to Whom Honor is Due

This section is both fascinating and convicting to me personally. Paul gives specific instructions to Timothy as to how various categories of people are to be shown respect and honor. He begins with some very general guidelines governing Timothy’s relationships with others:

1 Do not address an older man harshly but appeal to him as a father. Speak to younger men as brothers, 2 older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters—with complete purity (1 Timothy 5:1-2).

Older men are to be treated with the respect and deference that they deserve. One should not speak to an older man sharply, as you would, for example, to a wayward or foolish child. Younger men should be dealt with as though they were brothers. Older women should be treated with the same respect we would show our mother. Timothy, a young man himself, should relate to the younger women as if they were his sisters. The point here is that the relationship should be one that avoids improper sexual connotations. Our every relationship should manifest honor and respect.

Having briefly covered a wide range of relationships in verses 1 and 2, Paul moves on to the topic of widows. He devotes 14 verses to this subject, while the following section dealing with elders is but 9 verses in length. Obviously this is a very important subject in Paul’s mind, and it should well be so:

Pure and undefiled religion before God the Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their misfortune and to keep oneself unstained by the world (James 1:27; see also Acts 6:1-7).

Paul does not lump all widows into one general category. Instead, he distinguishes various types of widows. First, there are the younger widows. These are widows who are still young enough to remarry. Paul does not want to see these younger widows supported by the church. This would be an unnecessary, long-term burden on the church. In order for a younger widow to be “put on the list” for support, she would apparently need to take a vow to remain single. A young widow might meet an eligible man and regret her vow, and forsake her vow (5:12). Furthermore, a young widow who is supported by the church might waste her time going about from house to house, gossiping (5:13). Consequently, younger widows are to be encouraged to remarry (5:14).

Second, there are widows who are truly widows. 408 Paul calls them “widows indeed” (NASB), or “widows who are truly in need” (NET Bible). These are widows who have no apparent means of support. In particular, these are widows who have no family members to look after them. If a widow has other family, it is their duty to care for her, and thus to relieve the church of an unnecessary burden (5:4, 8, 16).

Third, there are the older widows who should be supported by the church, or as Paul expresses it, they should be “put on the list” (5:9). The standards for a widow who is put on the list are very high:

She must be at least 60 years old (5:9).

She must have been the wife of one man (5:9).

She must be a “widow indeed,” without other means of support (5:3-4).

She must have demonstrated valuable ministry to the church over time (5:10).

She should be a woman who has set her hope on God, and who devotes herself to prayer (5:5).

Paul is not suggesting that the church should excuse itself from helping widows in a time of need, even though they don’t meet all the qualifications listed above. The qualifications he sets down are for those few widows whom the church will support consistently.

As I understand Paul, the widows who are “put on the list” are shown honor just like the elders are given honor (5:17-18), by being supported financially. This financial support is not based solely on need alone, but also on the valuable contribution these widows make to the church. These are paid prayer warriors, whose ministry is so valuable that they are taken care of (apparently) until their dying day.

I believe that a woman like Anna would have been a perfect candidate for such a position in the church, and indeed it would seem that she was supported financially, perhaps by temple funds (Luke 2 :36-38). In all the churches I have ever attended, I have not yet seen a prayer warrior widow that was supported in this manner by the church. What I have seen, however, is a number of godly, older widows who have carried out this valuable function, even though they were not financially supported. In each case, these women were supported by their family. In some cases, the godly widow is supported by the funds that her husband wisely set aside, either in savings or insurance, or both.

I cannot overstate how much I have come to appreciate the contribution of these women prayer warriors. Until her death recently, one godly widow prayed specifically for our family and for my ministry daily. I know that others faithfully carry on this task, not only for me and my family, but for many others. I believe it is only when we get to heaven that we will fully grasp how much such women have contributed to God’s work in and through the church.

The second category of those who are in need of protection (from unfounded accusations) and provision (financial support) is that of elders or overseers:

17 Elders who provide effective leadership must be counted worthy of double honor,409 especially those who work hard in speaking and teaching. 18 For the scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain,” and, “The worker deserves his pay.” 19 Do not accept an accusation against an elder unless it can be confirmed by two or three witnesses. 20 Those guilty of sin must be rebuked before all, as a warning to the rest. 21 Before God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels, I solemnly charge you to carry out these commands without prejudice or favoritism of any kind. 22 Do not lay hands on anyone hastily and so identify with the sins of others. Keep yourself pure. 23 (Stop drinking just water, but use a little wine for your digestion and your frequent illnesses.) 24 The sins of some people are obvious, going before them into judgment, but for others, they show up later. 25 Similarly good works are also obvious, and the ones that are not cannot remain hidden (1 Timothy 5:17-25).


It sounds strange to think of widows (indeed) and elders in a similar way. Why would elders need to be provided for (“double honor,” 5:17) and protected? For one thing the care of a church is very time-consuming. One cannot spend many long hours caring for the flock and earning a salary at the same time. This is especially true for those who “work hard in speaking and teaching.” Consequently, they may need to be fully supported (“double honor”), or merely have their income supplemented. While the false teachers seek financial gain, authentic elders live sacrificial lives. They may not ask for funds for themselves. In addition to this, the false teachers may very well be bilking the saints of their hard-earned funds. I would suspect that while the false teachers were “lining their own pockets,” the authentic elders had empty pockets. It is difficult to give your full attention to the flock of God when your family is doing without necessities.

The second thing Paul deals with in relation to honoring elders is to shield them from unfounded accusations and criticism. Paul requires two or three witnesses for any accusation that is made against an elder. In reality, this is not a higher standard than normal; it is the same standard that the Scriptures apply to all accusations:

15 “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault when the two of you are alone. If he listens to you, you have regained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others with you, that at the testimony of two or three witnesses every matter may be established. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. If he refuses to listen to the church, treat him like a Gentile or tax collector. 18 “I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will have been bound in heaven, and whatever you release on earth will have been released in heaven. 19 Again, I tell you the truth, if two of you on earth agree about whatever they ask, my Father in heaven will do it for them. 20 For where two or three are assembled in my name, I am there among them” (Matthew 18:15-20).

An elder should be entitled to the same assumption of innocence that any other individual must be granted. I would imagine that Paul’s guidelines, if applied, would greatly reduce the number of accusations against elders (not to mention others). Those elders who are found to be guilty need to be rebuked publicly, since their ministry, and their sin, has a very public impact (5:20).

The final verses of chapter 5 begin with Paul’s exhortation to maintain the principles he has set down without bias or prejudice (5:21). Paul warns Timothy about assigning leadership tasks too hastily. If you appoint someone to a task prematurely, this causes you to share in the wrongs that might be committed (5:22). Paul’s advice that Timothy “take a little wine for his stomach’s sake” (5:23) suggests that even Paul was not able to “heal on demand.” While we can pray for divine healing, sometimes we simply need to take advantage of the ordinary remedies that are available to us.

Paul reminds Timothy that the “fruits” of a person’s deeds are not always immediately apparent (compare Matthew 12:24-30), so that we should be careful not to make premature judgments. Is this not why Paul told Timothy not to “lay hands” on someone too quickly? The fruit of righteousness may not always be immediately evident; likewise, the fruit of sin may take some time to manifest itself. In time, however, the fruit of one’s deeds will generally become apparent.410

I include the first two verses of chapter 6 with Paul’s teaching in chapter 5. It seems that a new paragraph and subject are introduced in verse 3 of chapter 6.411 If I understand Paul’s argument correctly, he is instructing slaves to “honor” their masters, in a manner similar to the way we are instructed to honor widows and elders:

1 Those who are under the yoke as slaves must regard their own masters as deserving of full respect.412 This will prevent the name of God and Christian teaching from being discredited. 2 But those who have believing masters must not show them less respect because they are brothers. Instead they are to serve all the more, because those who benefit from their service are believers and dearly loved (1 Timothy 6:1-2, emphasis mine).

It would be very easy for a slave to think little of his master. Nevertheless, we are to honor those to whom honor is due (Romans 13:7); indeed, we are to honor all men (1 Peter 2:17). Slaves were to respect the position held by their masters, and to submit to them. They were to consider them “deserving of full respect” (6:2). But what about believing masters? Would it not be easy to despise a believing master, wondering how he could practice slavery and even possess slaves? Paul makes no exceptions. Believing masters are to be shown no less respect; rather, a believing slave should serve his believing master with even more diligence. In so doing, he will be honoring his master. Here, “honor” once again has a financial or monetary aspect, just as it did in the case of widows (some of whom were financially supported) and elders (some of whom were to receive “double honor”). By working hard for one’s believing master a slave would contribute to his master’s prosperity (in addition to having prayed for it – see 1 Timothy 2:1-7). Here are words that could only be of divine origin. What mere mortal would have ever conceived of a slave honoring his master in this manner?

1 Timothy 6:3-21
Gaining A Proper Perspective Toward Prosperity

As he prepares to conclude this letter Paul turns for one last time to the false teachers:

3 If someone spreads false teachings and does not agree with sound words (that is, those of our Lord Jesus Christ) and with the teaching that accords with godliness, 4 he is conceited and understands nothing, but has an unhealthy interest in controversies and verbal disputes. This gives rise to envy, dissension, slanders, evil suspicions, 5 and constant bickering by people corrupted in their minds and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a way of making a profit (1 Timothy 6:3-5).

In some ways Paul is simply recapping what he has already indicated about the false teachers in Ephesus. Their teachings do not square with sound doctrine, nor do they lead to godly living. Such teachers are arrogant, but in truth they understand nothing. They have a preference for things that are controversial, and this leads to all kinds of conflict and strife. The new element, which Paul intends to explore further, is found in the last words of verse 5:

“. . . who suppose that godliness is a way of making a profit.”

In short, false teachers are often in it for the money. No wonder Paul contrasted his financial practices with the false teachers who would arise in Ephesus:

33 I have desired no one’s silver or gold or clothing. 34 You yourselves know that these hands of mine provided for my needs and the needs of those who were with me. 35 By all these things, I have shown you that by working in this way we must help the weak, and remember the words of the Lord Jesus that he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’” (Acts 20:33-35).

Paul closes his letter to Timothy by focusing on a proper Christian perspective of prosperity. The false teachers believed that godliness was the means to making a profit. Paul differs from this twisted view of ministry and godliness. Paul does grant that godliness is “profitable” when prosperity is rightly understood (6:6). Godliness that is combined with contentment is very profitable, even if not in a monetary way. Since we didn’t bring material prosperity with us at our birth, and we can’t take it with us when we die, we should not be obsessed with it. We should be content when our daily needs are met (see Philippians 4:10-13).

Paul wants to be very clear on this matter of prosperity. Godliness does not guarantee material wealth, but neither is it sinful to possess material wealth. It is not being rich that is evil, but being obsessed with a desire to accumulate wealth. This is a sin that can be committed by the poor, if they are obsessed with becoming rich. Those who desperately desire to be rich may succumb to temptations to cut corners in order to get there. So then, it is the love of money which Paul condemns, and not the mere possession of wealth:

For the love of money is the root of all evils. Some people in reaching for it have strayed from the faith and stabbed themselves with many pains (1 Timothy 6:10).

Timothy is urged not to become caught up in the pursuit of wealth, but rather to pursue godliness:

11 But you, as a person dedicated to God, keep away from all that. Instead pursue righteousness, godliness, faithfulness, love, endurance, and gentleness. 12 Compete well for the faith and lay hold of that eternal life you were called for and made your good confession for in the presence of many witnesses. 13 I charge you before God who gives life to all things and Christ Jesus who made his good confession before Pontius Pilate, 14 to obey this command without fault or failure until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ 15 —whose appearing the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, will reveal at the right time. 16 He alone possesses immortality and lives in unapproachable light, whom no human has ever seen or is able to see. To him be honor and eternal power! Amen (1 Timothy 6:11-16).

In other words, Timothy is challenged to engage himself in the pursuit of true (spiritual and eternal) riches, rather than the mere earthly appearance of wealth. To sum it up, true riches are obtained only in the pursuit of Jesus Christ and in the joy of knowing Him intimately.

There is one who pretends to be rich and yet has nothing;

another pretends to be poor and yet possesses great wealth (Proverbs 13:7).

A faithful person will have an abundance of blessings,

but the one who hastens to gain riches will not go unpunished (Proverbs 28:20).

While it is not wrong to be wealthy, there are certain temptations that the wealthy encounter. Paul therefore gives Timothy some good words of exhortation to convey to those who are rich in this world’s goods:

17 Command those who are rich in this world’s goods not to be haughty or to set their hope on riches, which are uncertain, but on God who richly provides us with all things for our enjoyment. 18 Tell them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, to be generous givers, sharing with others. 19 In this way they will save up a treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the future and so lay hold of what is truly life (1 Timothy 6:17-19).

Those who are rich in worldly goods need to beware of the arrogance that often accompanies wealth:

A rich person is wise in his own eyes,

but a discerning poor person can evaluate him properly (Proverbs 28:11).

The rich are likewise tempted to place their trust in their wealth, rather than in God:

The wealth of a rich person is like a strong city,

but the poor are brought to ruin by their poverty (Proverbs 10:15).

The wealth of a rich person is like a strong city,

and it is like a high wall in his imagination (Proverbs 18:11).

Paul directs Timothy to instruct those who are rich to trust in God, and not in their wealth. He further urges Timothy to teach the rich to invest their worldly goods wisely by being rich in good deeds, and thereby laying up treasure in heaven.413

Paul closes his letter with one final word of exhortation related to the false teaching which has surfaced in Ephesus:

20 O Timothy, protect what has been entrusted to you. Avoid the profane chatter and absurdities of so-called “knowledge.” 21 By professing it, some have strayed from the faith. Grace be with you all (1 Timothy 6:20-21).

Timothy is to guard the truth, the sound doctrine that has been entrusted to him. At the same time he is to avoid the empty words of the false teachers, which they mislabel as “knowledge.” Some have already gone astray by embracing this “knowledge.” With this last word of exhortation and admonition, Paul commends Timothy, his spiritual son, and the saints in Ephesus to the grace of God.


Let’s suppose that you were Timothy, and that you had just finished reading Paul’s first epistle to you while at Ephesus. What would you think? How would you feel?

I suspect that Timothy would feel about the way you do when you receive a letter (or today, an e-mail) from a close friend who lives some distance away. Paul was a spiritual father to Timothy. They had spent years together in ministry. Often, they were together, but for a time they were separated. Timothy was given a challenging assignment. He was to act on Paul’s behalf, with Paul’s authority. He was to identify false teachers and to silence them. He was undoubtedly experiencing resistance, and perhaps open attack, by those who had departed from the gospel. He was a young man, and he may well have questioned whether or not he was up to the task.

Paul’s letter was a word of encouragement from a dear and trusted friend and mentor. Paul’s confidence in Timothy must have warmed this young man’s heart. Paul’s written expression of love and confidence must have served to bolster Timothy’s standing in the church at Ephesus. If Paul was aware of the opposition Timothy faced, his words were probably right on target, probing to the heart of the issues Timothy was facing.

Most of all, Timothy was assured of Paul’s love and affection. Paul was very likely the instrument through whom Timothy came to faith. Paul was the one who selected Timothy to accompany him on his missionary journeys. Paul was the one who trusted Timothy, sending him to various churches to act as his personal spokesman. While Paul was concerned about the Ephesian church and the false teachers who had emerged, he was greatly concerned about Timothy, his son in the faith, and he let him know it.

Paul was likewise committed to the Ephesian church. It was through Paul that many of the saints in Ephesus came to faith. Paul had nurtured them and had taught them the truths they needed to know. Even in his absence Paul cared much for this church, and sending his very finest and most trusted colleague proved it.

Paul’s epistle to Timothy at Ephesus is evidence of Paul’s love for and commitment to the church of Jesus Christ. He saw the church as the “support and bulwark of the truth” (3:15). While parachurch organizations are certainly a part of the church, and have a contribution to make, let us be reminded that the church was Paul’s priority. He loved the church, and he made incredible sacrifices for its well being.

For me, this study of First Timothy has given me a deeper realization of Paul’s love for and appreciation of women. Some would condemn Paul because of his words in chapter 2, but let us recall that Paul’s instructions are the Lord’s command:

33 for God is not characterized by disorder but peace. As in all the churches of the saints, 34 the women should be silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak. Rather, let them be in submission, as in fact the law says. 35 If they want to find out about something, they should ask their husbands at home, because it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in church. 36 Did the word of God begin with you, or did it come to you alone? 37 If anyone considers himself a prophet or spiritual person, he should acknowledge that what I write to you is the Lord’s command. 38 If someone does not recognize this, he is not recognized (1 Corinthians 14:33-38, emphasis mine).

Beyond this, think about what the entire book of 1 Timothy teaches us about Paul’s regard for women, and the value of their ministry to the church. In chapter 2, he includes women in his instructions; he does not ignore them, as though they had no contribution to make at all. Paul clarifies what ministries women may have (and not have) in the church, but in including his instructions regarding women, he indicates that he considers them a part of the church and its ministry.

In chapter 3 we once again find that women play a key role in ministry. In verse 11 Paul writes,

Likewise also their wives must be dignified, not slanderous, temperate, faithful in every respect (1 Timothy 3:11).

I believe that this verse applies both to the wives of the deacons and of the elders as well. The character of a man’s wife may make or break him as a church leader. Paul’s words imply that a leader’s wife plays a key role in her husband’s ministry.

In chapter 5, Paul spends a good portion of the chapter giving instructions related to women. Paul tells Timothy (and thus, all other men) to respect older women and younger women. The older women are to be treated as mothers (great respect here), and the younger women as sisters. The plight of widows is taken very seriously by Paul. While women have a great contribution to make in relation to child-bearing and child-rearing (1 Timothy 2:15), they also have a great contribution to make to the church as prayer warriors and as those who provide hospitality to those who pass their way (1 Timothy 5:5-10). Some widows are of such value that they are to be placed “on the list,” to be fully supported in their ministry.

Going beyond 1 Timothy, we see other evidences of Paul’s great love for and appreciation of women in the church. Paul reminds Timothy of the role his mother and grandmother played in his spiritual life (2 Timothy 1:5). At the end of Paul’s epistles, he calls special attention to the women who have made a significant contribution to the church (e.g. Romans 16). In addition to this I recall that Luke was Paul’s traveling companion. In his Gospel and in Acts, Luke pays tribute to a number of significant women, so far as the gospel is concerned. Surely Luke is reflecting Paul’s attitudes here.

What a great book! How much more there is for us to learn. Let this only be the beginning of a life-long study of 1 Timothy. May God grant that we take Paul’s heartfelt words to our own hearts and lives.

397 This is the edited manuscript of Lesson 102 in the From Creation to the Cross series prepared by Robert L. Deffinbaugh on November 10, 2002.

398 Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from the NET Bible. The NEW ENGLISH TRANSLATION, also known as THE NET BIBLE, is a completely new translation of the Bible, not a revision or an update of a previous English version. It was completed by more than twenty biblical scholars who worked directly from the best currently available Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts. The translation project originally started as an attempt to provide an electronic version of a modern translation for electronic distribution over the Internet and on CD (compact disk). Anyone anywhere in the world with an Internet connection will be able to use and print out the NET Bible without cost for personal study. In addition, anyone who wants to share the Bible with others can print unlimited copies and give them away free to others. It is available on the Internet at:

399 I believe that Paul organizes this epistle by alternating and intertwining these two themes: (1) the false teachers and their teachings; and, (2) the way the church should conduct itself as the household of faith. The false teachers and their teachings are contrasted with Paul’s general instructions regarding the conduct of the church.

400 This is similar to the way Peter begins 1 Peter 3 with the words, “in the same way, wives be subject to your own husbands.” Peter has been writing about the silent suffering of the Savior in the final verses of chapter 2, about submission to governing authorities in 2:13-17, and about the need for slaves to silently suffer under the hand of cruel masters in 2:18-20. In a similar spirit of submission, Peter writes, wives are to submit to their husbands, sometimes doing so by their silence.

401 When the apostles instruct women regarding their dress, it is in the context of submission. This can be seen in 1 Corinthians 11:1-16; 1 Timothy 2; and 1 Peter 3:1-6.

402 I should note that not all would agree with my interpretation of 1 Corinthians 11. For a more thorough interpretation of this passage, see my study of 1 Corinthians 11:

403 When I preached this lesson, two women in the congregation happened to be wearing a “hot pink” (or something close to it – colors are not my strength) dress. Neither dress was inappropriate, in my opinion. I do not wish to be understood to say that women must wear only bland colors. I am saying that women can dress in a way that shouts, “look at me!” It is not just a matter of color, either, but of fit, of length, of exposure. Our culture lets us know what its view of a woman’s glory is, and it encourages women to flaunt it. The Bible teaches otherwise.

404 The adjective “quiet” (life) in 2:2 has the same root as the noun rendered “quietly” in 2:11 and “quiet” in 2:12. Thus, I understand the quiet demeanor of women in 2:12 to be an application of the general principle to live a “peaceful and quiet life” in 2:2. In my opinion this explains the “likewise” in 2:9.

405 See also Titus 1:5-9.

406 An argument has been made for the fact that the Greek pronoun, here rendered “He,” is really an abbreviated form of the term used for God. If this is the case then the translation of the King James Version has it right: “God was manifest in the flesh.”

407 The very thing some denied (1 Corinthians 15:12; see also 2 Timothy 2:18).

408 As a matter of personal conviction and practice, there are some women whom I consider to be very close to the category of “a widow,” even if they don’t meet all of the criteria. Some women have been abandoned by their husbands, and thus find themselves virtual widows. While I would not advocate that all such women be financially supported by the church on a regular basis, I do think that the church needs to look after those who are in need and vulnerable.

409 “Honor” in 5:3 is a verb, an imperative (a command); “honor” in 5:17 is a noun, but it has the same root as the verb in 5:3. Thus, both widows and elders are to be honored. This “honor” has a monetary dimension in both cases.

410 We must bear in mind that some judgments should be left to the Lord (see 1 Corinthians 4:1-5).

411 I am pleased to note that the NET Bible sees it this way as well.

412 Often translated “honor.” This term has the same root that we find in 1 Timothy 5:3 and 5:17.

413 See Matthew 6:19-20.

Related Topics: Bibliology (The Written Word)

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