1 Timothy 1:3–17comment (0)
February 28, 2013
By Dale Younce
Related Scripture: 2 Timothy 1:3–17
Explore the Bible
Professor of Christian Ministries, University of Mobile
Follow Sound Doctrine
1 Timothy 1:3–17
Many adults, even Christians, consider truth to be relative. In society both religious truth and moral teachings are widely thought to be merely personal and subjective.
In some churches, the idea of a biblical standard of sound doctrine may be either deemphasized or outright ignored. This neglect may open the door to erroneous (or even heretical) teachings being accepted. In other churches, persons are required to subscribe to beliefs and practices that have no biblical warrant. Christianity stands strong only when believers rely on the standard of sound doctrine revealed in the Scriptures.
Today’s lesson helps us understand that all teachings are to be analyzed in the light of the Scriptures.
Goal of Spiritual Instruction (3–7)
After his release from his first Roman imprisonment (Acts 28:30), the apostle Paul visited several of the cities where he had previously ministered, including Ephesus. Leaving Timothy at Ephesus to handle the problems that had arisen in the church, Paul went on to Macedonia and wrote this letter to guide Timothy in his task of managing the church.
Timothy was dealing with false teachers who were busy trying to lead Christians astray. There were teachers of false doctrine in Paul’s day just as there are today and Paul took them seriously as so should we. Paul’s concern is seen in the directions he gives: Do not teach strange doctrines, different from what Paul taught, different from apostolic doctrine (Acts 2:42), and related to the gospel of salvation.
Apparently these men were teaching another gospel (Gal. 1:6–9) and not the gospel of God’s grace. Paul labeled this false teaching as “fables and endless genealogies,” that is, myths, legends and fanciful stories manufactured from elements of Judaism as well as allegorical or fictitious interpretations of Old Testament genealogical lists, leading people away from the truth, causing division, hypocrisy and all sorts of problems. The true goal of Christian instruction is Christlike character: love, purity, a good conscience and sincere faith.
Value of Sound Doctrine (8–11)
The basic reason for the false teaching was the misuse of the Old Testament Law. The false teachers did not understand the purpose of God’s Law. Paul lists 14 kinds of people who are condemned by the Law. The correct (or “lawful”) use of the Law is to expose, restrain and convict the lawless. The Law’s value, when properly used, is to identify all types of ungodly behavior. The Law cannot save lost sinners; it can only reveal their need for a Savior. When a person trusts Jesus, he is freed from the curse of the Law and the indwelling Holy Spirit meets the righteous demands of the Law as the believer yields himself to God.
Example of the Transformed Life (12–16)
These verses are Paul’s autobiographical testimony to the power of God’s grace. He was Exhibit A to prove that the gospel of God’s grace really works. He self-consciously called himself an “example” for later believers, a pattern for others of Jesus fulfilling God’s saving purpose in a believer’s life. By this means, Paul set forth three responsibilities for the church: (1) proclaiming the gospel, (2) teaching sound doctrine and (3) living a Christ honoring life. We show our commitment to evaluate all teaching in the light of the Scriptures by recognizing the centrality of Jesus’ saving purpose in individual lives.
Praise to God (17)
God receives all the praise for saving Paul and for saving us. In this brief doxology, Paul glorifies God for His attributes as King. We show our commitment to evaluate all teaching in light of the Scriptures by praising the King revealed in the Scriptures.