1 Timothy (1 Tim)

Book 15 of the NT, having 6 chapters.  Written by Paul, about AD 64, and addressed to Timothy, an emerging leader in the early church. Time to read: 15 mins.

Key people: Paul, Timothy.

Outline: Timothy had traveled with Paul to Ephesus and Timothy remained there to guide the church. Paul had invested a lot of time and effort into his relationship with Timothy and as an older man he considered Timothy a spiritual son. This is a personal letter encouraging Timothy “not to neglect his gift” (1 Tim 4:14).  It also gives him training covering many issues from which we all can learn. The emphasis is on church administration and personal discipline, guarding his motives so he ministers faithfully and lives a life above reproach.

Main lesson. Right belief coupled with right behaviour is essential for anyone leading or serving in the church and is of greater value than ministry gifts (1 Tim 3:1-13). In fact, for all believers personal integrity is essential. This touches areas as diverse as treating others honourably and having “Godliness with contentment...for the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil” (1 Tim 5:1-8, 6:6-10). Continual growth in godly character is to be desired and is the outcome of ‘knowing Him’ (2 Pet 1:3,4).

Key verses and thoughts: * “I urge that prayer and thanksgiving be made for all people especially those in authority...God wants all people to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim 2:1-6). We are often quick to criticize those in authority but the directive of Scripture is to pray for them, so that we can live our lives in peace, displaying godliness and holiness. If we are genuinely praying for and speaking blessing into those in authority over us, we will be much less inclined to judge their performance. It is the responsibility of believers to share the good news although not everyone will choose to be saved, even though God, through Jesus, has provided the means.

* “Train yourself to be Godly.  Physical training is good but godliness is better, having benefits both in this life and the next...Pursue righteousness” (1 Tim 4:7,8, 6:11). Training involves our responsibility to apply ourselves by being committed to the goal. Am I disciplined and determined to be all God wants me to be by putting in the required effort, understanding it is more important what we allow God to do in us than through us? As our redeemed body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, to be proficient in our service for God, we should aim to be physically fit and healthy, besides attending to the spiritual dimension (1 Cor 6:19,20).

* “Don’t let anyone look down on you because of your young age, but set an example” (1 Tim 4:12). Paul also said, “If anyone desires to be an overseer in the church...they must not be a recent convert...they must first be tested” (1 Tim 3:1,6,10). Timothy, although he may have been relatively young was mature, having been brought up by a Christian mother and developed quickly in the faith through being Paul’s traveling companion and assistant (2 Tim 1:5).

New believers need to have laid a good foundation in their lives by serving in the lesser, yet necessary roles within the church, where their character can be proved before taking on spiritual responsibilities. Such experiences serve as preparation to equip them for future ministry at the appropriate time. It is important to spend this formative period under wise counsel and guidance, learning by following the example of godly people who may not be older physically but are more mature in the faith. We subconsciously pick up the character traits of those we interact with, so spend quality time with those role models you want to be like, yet when mixing and interacting with those who (as yet) don’t know Christ guard yourself from defilement, being aware of those qualities which you don’t want to embrace. Remember, we will never get to the place where we are not accountable to others or can’t gain new insights. We should be setting a good example in all we do, even as we learn from others.

See also: authority, character, mentor, Timothy, 2 Timothy (2 Tim).