Our Wednesday night ladies Bible study just kicked off a new semester and we are going to be studying 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus and Philippians. I’d love for you to study along with us or use these blogs to catch up if you miss a session. Today we’re studying 1 Timothy 1. The words in bold are the words used to complete the blanks in our outline in class. I used the Holman New Testament Commentary and the ESV Study Bible.
Today’s Precious Promise comes from 1 Timothy 1:15. Paul writes “The saying is “trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.” Paul is an example of God’s magnificent grace – If God can save Paul, He can save you too! Nothing is too much for Him!
Many scholars believe that 1 Timothy was written in the mid 60s A.D. Christianity was a relatively new idea in that day. Jesus died around the year A.D. 33, so people had only been following Jesus for 30-45 years. First generation Christians were still alive. The only “Bible” they had was the first five books of the Old Testament, the law, and Paul and other Christ-followers were teaching that people no longer had to follow the law to be saved because Christ came to fulfill the law. It was a completely new idea to many people! To set the scene for you, Paul and Timothy had been traveling together, sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ. They’d come to Ephesus and Timothy stayed there while Paul continued traveling as a missionary. Paul was very concerned about false teachers in the church and wanted Timothy to teach them the truth. 1 Timothy is Paul’s first letter to Timothy in Ephesus.
Hope and salvation are the themes of this letter. Paul greeted Timothy “by command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope” to emphasize those themes. Paul closes his introduction in verse 2 by saying “Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.” Grace, mercy and peace are all unmerited good will from God toward those who believe. Paul and Timothy were definitely recipients of God’s favor.
Paul was very concerned about false teachers. The culture of the day included lots of idol worship and pagan belief systems. Remember, Christianity was a brand new thing! Many people were teaching completely false doctrine, but many others were teaching things that were a combination of pagan and Christian theologies, which made people even more confused as to what to believe. What was true then is equally true now: If Christians become grounded in the truth of their faith, false teaching can be stopped before it spreads. If we can learn what the Bible says and then learn to obey it, we are less prone to deception. Instead of controversy, our lives should be marked by love, first for God, then for others.
Paul explained to Timothy in verses 6 and 7 that some of the teachers of the law had come to the point at which they didn’t know what they were talking about any more. They wanted to sound smart and to have a following, but the things they were teaching were not the true Gospel of Jesus. Just as it was true then, it is true now: The church should hold its leaders accountable, requiring orthodoxy in doctrine and purity in faith, so the church may be preserved in unity and love.
So what good was the law then? Was it still important to the church after Christ had come to fulfill it? The purpose of the law is to draw clear parameters for godly living, to show us what God is like, and to point us to our need for salvation. In short, the law points us to Jesus! Every single rule, every single story in the Old Testament points to our need for a Savior. It points to Jesus! The law is still very important in the lives of believers today, not because of our need to follow it, but because it points us to Jesus. When we see how impossible it is for us to every measure up to God’s standard, we recognize our need for a Savior.
The good news of God’s saving mercy and gracious forgiveness through Jesus Christ is, indeed glorious! It is a treasure from God. The law was written for sinners, which is all of us! No longer are we bound to a set of rules that we must follow. We are free in Christ Jesus! Hallelujah!
Paul goes on in 1 Timothy 1:12-17 to tell us how awful he had been before he met Jesus on the road to Damascus that day. We know that he was a persecutor of Christians – he had given his approval to the stoning death of Stephen, he had thrown many Christians in prison and had had others murdered. He was the worst of the worst…until he met Jesus! No one is beyond the scope or power of God to save and recreate into his likeness. God is extravagant in his love and mercy. God made an example for us in Paul so that we would know just how far his grace and love and mercy extend – if He can save Paul, He can save us too!
God’s truth obligates the believer to live responsibly and faithfully. There are grave consequences for those who turn aside from God’s truth and calling. False teachers will not be tolerated by God.
To sum it up, adhering to true faith and doctrine results in changed lives, which becomes evident in our behavior and church unity. When we become involved in what is false or wander from the goals of the faith, this also becomes apparent in our behavior and in our hearts. Stay the course, sister! Dig deep into God’s Word so that you will be able to stand firm and discern the truth for yourself.
Do you recognize the false teachings of today? How can we defend ourselves against them?
Since the law is “made not for the righteous,” does it serve any purpose in a Christian’s daily life? Do we still need to teach the law at church? Why?
In what sense does the law point to grace? Do people with “greater sins” need more grace than other do to be forgiven?
What lessons in gratitude can we learn from Paul’s statements about personal grace and salvation How will true gratitude influence us when we are tempted by habitual sins?
Write a one-sentence doxology of thanks to God for your salvation.
Discuss ways people shipwreck their faith. How can we stay the course ourselves?
Larson, K. (2000). I & II Thessalonians, I & II Timothy, Titus, Philemon (Vol.9, p. 159) Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers