December 9 - Nº 343 1 Timothy 1:1 – 3:13
There is no record of Paul’s release from prison in Rome, but his letter to Timothy indicates that after two years he began traveling again to the churches in Asia Minor and Macedonia. It is possible that Paul’s Jewish accusers never showed up for his trial before Caesar. After Paul had waited the mandatory time, the charges would have been dropped and he would have been released. In a letter to Timothy, we are told that Paul instructed his young apprentice to stay in Ephesus while he traveled to Macedonia. This is sometimes referred to as Paul’s fourth missionary journey. Paul had first met Timothy during his second missionary journey as he traveled through Galatia (see #305 - November 1). He had heard great reports about the young man and invited him to join the missionary team. From then on Paul and Timothy worked closely together. Paul called Timothy his “true son in the faith” and quickly became Timothy’s mentor. Later, when he wrote to the church in Philippi, Paul used Timothy as an example of a true servant (see #340 - December 6). Paul left Timothy in Ephesus as his representative and the pastor of the church he had established there. Unfortunately, the previous leaders had woven false teachings in with the Gospel message. It was Timothy’s role to confront the corrupt teachers and guide the Ephesians back to the truth. Paul’s letter was written to give Timothy personal advice on how to do this and to instruct him in some of the organizational issues he needed to address. It became a leadership manual for this church (and all others). The first and most vital instruction Paul gave was for the church to pray together. This would focus the congregation on God instead of on their own desires and differences, and it would remind them of what Jesus had done for them on the cross. They were to pray for everyone, including those who ruled over them. (That’s because Paul knew that it was easier to live godly lives and share the Gospel message in a politically peaceful setting.) As they learned to pray together, the men would no longer want to engage in the angry theological disputes that were now dividing the church. And the wealthy women would stop treating their meeting times as fashion shows. They would realize that their purpose was to worship God—not impress other people. Timothy was also told to confront these same women about their desires to take over the leadership of the church. They weren’t mature enough in their faith to do that. Just as Eve had led Adam into Satan’s deception, these women were evidently leading the Ephesian men to believe in false teachings. In other letters, Paul named several women who served their churches well in leadership roles—but he didn’t name any in his letter to the Ephesians. Paul gave Timothy a list of qualifications for church leaders. Both the elders and the deacons were to be known for their godly character qualities and integrity. They were also to enjoy healthy family relationships. After all, if they couldn’t manage their own families well, how could they be expected to lead God’s family—the Church?
Stop and think for a moment: what is the primary reason you attend church or youth group or Bible study? Are you there to worship God and learn about Him? Do you enjoy praying with other believers? Or do you have a different agenda? How would Paul evaluate your time at church?