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- 1 Timothy
by Hamilton Smith
The First Epistle to Timothy.
2 The Charge and its End
3 The order of God's House
4 Warnings against Religious Flesh and Instruction in Piety
5 Warnings against Worldliness and Instruction in Piety
6 Warnings against the Pride of the Flesh and Instruction in Piety
Quotations from Scripture are from the Authorised Version or from the New Translation of J.N.D.
The perusal of Scripture clearly shows that many of the Epistles of the apostle Paul are mainly corrective, being written to meet grave disorders and erroneous teaching that troubled the early assemblies. There are, however, Epistles, as for instance the Epistle to the Ephesians and the First Epistle to Timothy, which are mainly instructive, inasmuch as they present the church in its divine order according to the mind of God.
Each of these Epistles presents a special aspect of the church. In the Epistle to the Ephesians the church is viewed as composed of believers united together by the Holy Spirit to form the mystical body of which Christ in heaven is the Head, thus presenting the church in its heavenly relationships according to the counsels of God.
In the First Epistle to Timothy, the church is viewed as composed of believers “builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit” ( Eph_2:22 ). In connection with this great truth, the instruction of the Epistle has in view a twofold end. Firstly, the apostle writes to charge believers to live the practical life of piety consistent with the house of God, as we read, “that thou mayest know how one ought to conduct oneself in God's house, which is the assembly of the living God” ( 1Ti_3:15 ). Secondly, the apostle writes to instruct us that the great purpose of the house of God is to be a witness in the world that God is a Saviour God, “who will have all men to be saved.”
God's desire is that, by the church, there should be in the world a collective testimony to Himself in all His holiness and grace as a Saviour God. To present this testimony we must know the order of God's house and the behaviour suited to His house.
The Epistle thus presents the purpose and order of God's house according to the mind of God. It shows that this godly order is not only to govern the assembly, but to have an effect on every detail of the lives of those who compose the house of God, whether men or women, old or young, married or unmarried, servants or masters, rich or poor.
In the ruined condition of Christendom the truth of the Epistle is largely obscured, or ignored, either by “individualism” or “sectarianism”. Many earnest souls, seeing little beyond their individual salvation, are indifferent to the fact that, being saved, believers form the house of God with all its privileges and responsibilities. Others, feeling the necessity of Christian fellowship, but failing to see what God has established, have set to work to form religious systems according to their own ideas of order.
Thus, in different ways, the great truth that God has formed His house composed of believers “builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit” is ignored. The truth would lead us, not to view ourselves merely as saved individuals, nor to endeavour to gather Christians together into systems invented by men, but to recognise our part in the house that God has already formed, and act in the light of it, while refusing all that is a denial of that house in principle and practice.
Desiring to walk in simple obedience to the word of God, we shall appreciate the mercy that has preserved to us, in this Epistle, the mind of God for His church viewed as the house of God. It is only as we have before us God's standard that we can intelligently seek to answer to His mind. We must know the truth to act upon it; and only as we are grounded in the truth shall we be able to detect and refuse error.
Presenting the behaviour consistent with God's house, it follows that practice, rather than doctrine, passes before us in the Epistle.
In 1 Timothy 1 the gospel of the grace of God is presented as the great testimony that is to flow out to the world from the house of God.
In 1 Timothy 2 and 1 Timothy 3 we are instructed as to the practical order that becomes God's house, so that all who compose the house, both men and women, may live in consistency with the dwelling-place of God, and that nothing is to be allowed to mar the testimony that flows from the house.
In 1 Timothy 4 to 1 Timothy 6 we are warned against the different forms in which the flesh manifests itself, and we are instructed in “piety”, or “godliness”, as the great safeguard against every evil principle contrary to the order of God's house.
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29