The pastoral epistles are often said to be about the structure and governance of the church. This may sound dry and unappealing to the average Christian in the pew, until you realize that the church cannot be structured or governed without people! Paul's letter to Timothy is instructive not just for pastors but for every group in the church.
If you were asked to write a job description for a pastor, what would you include? Should a pastor's job emphasize creative ideas to be culturally relevant? What tasks are most important? 1 Timothy 4:11-16 tells us what God emphasizes in the personal and public expectations of pastor-teachers.
New birth is the best defense against unbelief. A simple salvation testimony and evidence of a changed life shows that Jesus is enough. No rule or creative idea can change a person's life. Legalism and pragmatism simply do not agree with the Gospel.
Paul wrote the book of 1 Timothy as a mentor to his tutor. Pastor Timothy oversaw the largest of the first-century churches. This letter was a tool in Timothy's continued discipleship by Paul. No church is strengthened without disciple-making. It is a work of the church that every member must be involved in, not just the pastors.
Carbon fiber is ten times as strong as steel and one third the weight. Because of these properties, the airplane industry is using it to make more lightweight, durable jets. Likewise, the church is much stronger and can move forward with much less burden when it is well-taught and holds to proper doctrine. The Christian life can be hard, but it would be much more difficult if we didn't preach a proper Gospel.
Corporate purity in a church comes from the personal purity of its people. In God's divine order, people will become like their leaders. Paul wrote Timothy to watch his own life and doctrine so he could lead the church of Ephesus well. When it comes to doctrine, there is no "wiggle room." Even though Paul spent the most time establishing the Ephesian church, some people there were okay with deviating slightly from biblical doctrine. A thread of falsehood can creep into the most well-taught church. We are all prone to this error in our fallen natures, but the Word of God acts like a hammer to correct both our doctrine and our practice of it.
Our theme for the year is Living Worship-Filled Lives. Romans 12:1-2 exhorts us to present our whole selves to God as a logical act of worship. This includes times of corporate worship and personal worship in prayer and reading God’s Word. But we also worship as we go about our lives, showing the fruit of what we’ve learned. The integrity of our lives should mirror how we worship on the Lord’s Day.
As we prepare to study the Pastoral Epistles, we’ll begin by learning about Timothy, to whom Paul wrote two letters. Understanding Timothy’s character helps us understand the content of the letters written to him.
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