1 Timothy is the first of 3 'pastoral epistles'
A title coined many years ago to describe 1 + 2 Timothy and Titus
There certainly is in them much which has to do with the care of Gods people individually, collectively in families and as a congregation, in the church.
Perhaps timely in an age of increasing selfishness and individualism to appreciate afresh our place before the Lord as individuals, as families and as a church.
The pastoral epistles brim with people self sacrificially serving:
- Timothy and Titus – not as pastors in the modern sense, really apostolic envoys, or apostolic legates.
- Women in the family (chp 2)
- Overseers and deacons (chp 3)
- Widows in the church (chp 5)
- Workers and servants (chp 6)
Everyone has something to give
Everyone has something to gain
To see the 'pastoral epistles' as being about 'the pastor' or the responsibilities of the few is of course to completely miss the point of these epistles.
Timely letters in a culture, in which some have likened the approach of some to the church as a 'buffet cultures' – pick and choose those bits that we want, that we can fit in around our other priorities, those bits that suite us.
If we do adopt that approach we will be impoverished and so will others.
Not to say that the centre of the epistle is 'church truth'
I don't believe that is correct at all
Church truth in 1 Timothy is secondary to a matter far more important, the matter which gives the church its significance and mandate.
The pattern of 1 Timothy:
- Sin and the law (1:7-11)
- Sacrifice and a Saviour (1:15 – 2:6)
- Supplication and Prayer (2:1ff)
- Servants of God (chp3)
- Sanctuary (3:16)
- Sacred and Secret (chp 4)
- in the Church (chp 5)
- in the World (chp 6)
This is a pattern which re-echoes throughout the whole of the scriptures.
This is the pattern of the tabernacle and of the temple.
Not that 1 Timothy is particularly patterned after the tabernacle or the temple but that there is a set of truths common to them all.
Here is the path into the presence of God:
- Sin and broken law (chp 1) – the impediment to His Presence to,
- Saviour and a Sacrifice (chp 1 + 2) to,
- Sanctuary – Presence of Christ (chp 3) to, 'seen of angels' just like the cherubim above the mercy seat, 'justified in the Spirit' – Aaron's rod that budded, 'manifest in the flesh' – the manna that came down form heaven in the ark of the covenant.
- Service – in the Holy Place with its lamp fed by the oil of the Spirit (4:1ff); bread from heaven to feed upon (4:6,13), prayer from the altar of incense.
The 'tabernacle' of God with man always follows these same principles!
Here lies the service of the church to both:
To bring us into a closer experience of the presence of Christ.
That kind of knocks on the head the old chestnut:
'you don't need to go to church to be a Christian'
This is true, church attendance does not define the Christian, the new birth does.
But you must desire the presence of God!
If the church is in essence in its service about an encounter with the presence of God in Christ, if I am a believer, I must desire that presence of God.
To be a believer means that God is present in me; 'Christ in you the hope of Glory.'
If the Church is indeed the church, ie it is about the presence of God, 'God is there of a truth,' the preachers speaking as the 'oracles of God' then I ought to desire that presence.
Is it possible to be a believer and not to desire the presence of God – I do not believe so.
'As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.' (Psalm 42:1)
Outline preaching notes from our series of Bible teaching messages in 1 Timothy chapter, available for free audio download or to listen online,
Yours by God's grace in Christ
Dr J Stewart Gillespie