“if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth.”
1 Timothy 3:15 ESV
Primarily Paul addresses two things in this letter: what is and isn’t sound doctrine and what godliness looks like in the church. 1 Timothy is a letter from Paul to his young protege Timothy sent as a follow-up after leaving him in Ephesus to “charge some that they teach no other doctrine.” (1 Timothy 1:3)
The letter addresses a young church leader who may be looked down upon for his youth but must continue to “fight the good fight.” (1 Timothy 6:12)
Usually Paul’s letters were written to entire congregations but here we get the first of the pastoral epistles, letters addressed to church leaders he knew. While the book of Ephesians deals primarily with general ways Christians should be walking in a manner worthy of the Lord, 1 Timothy is very specific in its instruction. The reason is simple. Paul was writing to a specific church leader and friend rather than to a church. Timothy had also accompanied him on some of his journeys so they were both very familiar with each others’ challenges.
In this letter we get to see some of the challenges pastors face. We also see how Paul instructs Timothy to deal with those problems. Here’s the breakdown:
- 1 Timothy 1 warns against false teachings and emphasizes correct beliefs
- 1 Timothy 2-4 describe living in godliness and dignity. We also see some specific ways he does so.
- Through prayer (1 Timothy 2:1–8)
- Women in the Church (1 Timothy 2:9–15)
- The overseers (1 Timothy 3:1–7)
- The deacons (1 Timothy 3:8–13)
- 1 Timothy 5-6 are guidelines for relationships within the church
- Caring for widows (1 Timothy 5:1–16)
- Honoring elders (1 Timothy 5:17–25)
- Identifying false teachers (1 Timothy 6:1–10)
- 1 Timothy 6:11-21 is Paul’s final charge to godliness
As a final challenge to us reading this letter today, I will say this. Consider those who God has raised up to lead your church. Do they fit those characteristics in 1 Timothy 3:1-7? If so then trust them; and trust that God will in turn lead them.