2. 1 Tim. 1:1-11 Focused on the Real Mission
The first epistle to Timothy was written after Paul had sent him to Ephesus because of a serious situation that had arisen in this rapidly growing congregation. This church was founded by Paul near the beginning of his third missionary journey. It began as a split from the Ephesian synagogue, and Paul had remained there and taught them a full three years before pressing on to Macedonia and Greece. The first members of the Ephesian assembly were Jews and some former proselytes from the synagogue. Before leaving Ephesus, Paul appointed elders to oversee the new congregation.
Nearing the end of his third missionary journey, as Paul was heading back to Jerusalem from Macedonia, he made a point to stop again near Ephesus and called the elders to meet with him. This time he had a serious prophetic warning for them.
Acts 20:25-35 (LGV) 25 And now, look, I have perceived that you all, among whom I went about proclaiming the Kingdom of God, will see my face no more. 26 Therefore I testify to you in this very day that I am clean from the blood of all. 27 For I did not fail to declare to you the entire counsel of God. 28 Take heed then to yourselves and to the entire flock among whom the holy Breath appointed you supervisors, to shepherd the assembly of God which He purchased with His own blood. 29 For I have perceived this, that after my departure fierce wolves will enter among you not sparing the flock. 30 Even from among yourselves will arise men speaking things that have been perverted to pull away the disciples behind themselves. 31 Consequently, be on guard, remembering that for three years night and day I did not cease to be admonishing each one with tears. 32 And now I commit you to God, brothers, and to the word of His grace, the one being able to build up and to give you the inheritance among all those having been sanctified. 33 I coveted no one’s silver, gold, or garments. 34 And you know this, that these hands served my needs and those being with me. 35 I showed you in everything that working like it is necessary to support the weak, and remembering the words of our Master Jesus that He said, ’It is more blessed to give than to receive’.”
Paul stressed the purity of the Apostolic Faith which he had delivered to them, and reminded them of the example he had set for them to follow. Yet he also warned of an imminent threat of corruption from within the Ephesian assembly, even from among newly appointed elders.
When Paul arrived in Jerusalem, he was arrested, and eventually shipped to Rome to await trial before Caesar. During that two-year imprisonment in Rome, Paul wrote his letter to the church at Ephesus. By that time the church had grown significantly with an influx of gentile converts. Much of the Ephesian epistle concerns the joining of Jew and gentile in one body and how Jewish and gentile Christians are to interact with one another. He also stressed the ultimate goal of perfect unity and the responsibility of all the members in achieving and maintaining that unity around the pristine Apostolic teachings, what he had previously called “the entire counsel of God.”
Eph. 4:1-6 (LGV) 1 Therefore, I the prisoner in the Master, plead with you to walk worthy of the invitation with which you were called 2 with all humility and meekness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 endeavoring to preserve the unity of the Breath in the bond of peace: 4 a common Body and a common Breath, just as you were [originally] called in a common Hope of your calling, 5 a common Master, a common Faith, a common immersion, 6 a common God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in all.
Paul then emphasized the role of the elders (pastor-teachers) in achieving that goal.
11 And He indeed gave the emissaries, also the prophets, also the evangelists, also the shepherds and teachers 12 for the equipping of the saints for the performance of service, for building the Body of the Anointed, 13 until we might all attain to the unity of the Faith and knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of maturity of the fullness of the Anointed; 14 so that we may no longer remain children, tossed about and carried off with every wind of teaching by the slight of men through cunning craftiness into the deception of heresy. 15 But, speaking truth in love, [we] may grow toward Him in every way who is the head — the Anointed, 16 from whom the whole Body being assembled and assimilated together through the contribution of every joint according to the proportion of efficiency of each part, growth of the Body is self-perpetuating to the building of itself in love.
The warning Paul previously gave to the elders of this church was still weighing heavily on his mind, that “after my departure fierce wolves will enter among you not sparing the flock.” God had given this local assembly some godly “shepherds and teachers.” He encouraged the members to remain on the path to maturity and complete unity (despite their cultural differences), to “no longer remain children, tossed about and carried off with every wind of teaching by the slight of men through cunning craftiness into the deception of heresy.” Maintaining the pristine Apostolic Faith was absolutely critical for the kind of unity necessary so that they “may grow toward Him in every way who is the head — the Anointed, from whom the whole Body being assembled and assimilated together through the contribution of every joint according to the proportion of efficiency of each part, growth of the Body is self-perpetuating to the building of itself in love.”
Yet, despite Paul’s warnings and exhortations, within a few short years after dispatching the epistle to the Ephesian assembly, the problems Paul had predicted began to emerge. Some of the elders and teachers at Ephesus who were beginning to teach things they ought not. Not long after his release from his Roman incarceration, Paul felt it necessary to dispatch Timothy to Ephesus to act as his representative in an attempt to get this assembly back on course. This is the setting for the first epistle to Timothy, reminding him of his mission and giving him exhortation regarding how to carry it out successfully.
1 Timothy 1:1-11 (LGV) 1 Paul, Emissary of Jesus Anointed according to the command of God our Savior and the Master, Jesus Anointed – our Hope; 2 To Timothy, a genuine son in the Faith, grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father and Jesus Anointed our Master. 3 Just as I urged you when going to Macedonia, remain in Ephesus so that you may relay to some not to teach contrary, 4 nor give regard to fabrications and unsubstantiated genealogies which produce disputes instead of the edification of God which is through faith. 5 Yet the intended outcome of this injunction is love from a clean heart, a good conscience, and faith without hypocrisy. 6 From this [goal] some, having deviated, have detoured into nonsense, 7 desiring to be Law-interpreters, not understanding what they are saying nor even thoroughly confirming what they are elaborating. 8 But we have observed that the Law is good whenever it may be used legitimately, 9 having observed this: that the Law is not in place for the just, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the irreverent and sinners, for the wicked and profane, for the killers of fathers and mothers, for murderers, 10 for prostitutes, for homosexuals, for abductors, for liars, for perjurers, and for any other thing contrary to sound teaching, 11 in agreement with the good message of the glory of the blessed God with which I was entrusted.
Note the command was that no one was to teach things in addition to or contrary to what Paul had delivered to them. It was critical that the Apostolic doctrine remain pristine. Paul stated that the goal of this command, that is what it was intended to produce. “Yet the intended outcome of this injunction is love from a clean heart, a good conscience, and faith without hypocrisy.” This is precisely the goal stated in his Ephesian epistle as well.
Some of the teachers in the Ephesian assembly began to teach “contrary” to “the whole counsel of God” and “contrary” to “the good message of the glory of the blessed God with which I was entrusted.” They had “deviated, have detoured into nonsense.” This had the effect of disrupting the unity and producing “disputes instead of edification.” Part of the problem was that some teachers were giving “regard to fabrications and unsubstantiated genealogies.” These concerned cultural disputes between Jew and Gentile, and disrupted unity. “From this [goal] some, having deviated, have detoured into nonsense, desiring to be Law-interpreters, not understanding what they are saying nor even thoroughly confirming what they are elaborating.” Paul mentioned the problem again in chapter four: “Yet reject the worldly and senseless fabrications, but [strenuously] exercise yourself towards devotion.”
Certain people in the Ephesus assembly had an undue devotion to certain issues, theories, and disputes between Jew and Gentile within their culture, things that had no eternal value, and were contrary to the goals of perfect unity and advancing the Kingdom of God. These things were not only distracting from the goals of Jesus Christ for His assemblies but were utterly destructive to the goal of bringing Jew and Gentile together as distinct but equal members of the body. Paul called these things “fabrications” and “unsubstantiated.” While we do not know the exact nature of the things Paul mentioned, it is clear that teaching anything that deviated from or added to the teachings of Christ which Paul had delivered to them, things that do not lead to unity around the pristine Faith or misrepresented pure Christianity, were to be avoided.
Today we are facing the same kind of destructive influx of “fabrications” and “unsubstantiated” rumors that Christians read and pass along on their social media accounts. Many have become apostles of a political movement or certain conspiracy theories. Many are devoted to fighting a culture war with carnal weapons. These things are squeezing out sound biblical teaching, the things that are actually edifying to the body of Christ and have eternal value. Just as with the Ephesian assembly, being preoccupied with cultural and controversial issues is destructive to the “unity of the Faith” because such things cause divisions over opinions and political inclinations.
In chapter six Paul used some pretty strong language to described people who do this: “If anyone teaches contrary to these things and does not come [with] sound words – those of our Master Jesus Anointed and the teaching according to devotion – 4 he has become conceited, an expert at nothing, being diseased concerning disputes and controversies, out from which come envy, strife, blasphemies, wicked speculations, 5 diatribes of men whose minds have been thoroughly corrupted and deprived of truth …”
Genuine “Timothys” are badly needed today, men who can each be “a genuine son in the Faith” to the Apostle Paul. Christians badly need to be refocused on the real goals and mission of Christianity within our culture, to put away the carnal weapons, to be salt and light, to represent Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God. “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.” The Ephesian assembly was beginning to lose its distinct “flavor” and become contaminated by the controversies of the world. Many Christians today have fallen into the same trap. Christianity today is almost utterly “tasteless” in our culture because it has become contaminated with the flavors of the world. The distinctiveness of Jesus’ true message is largely lost thanks to teachers and leaders who “have detoured into nonsense, … not understanding what they are saying nor even thoroughly confirming what they are elaborating.”
Go to: 3. The First Priority of the “Timothy” Charge
 Cf. Acts 19:8-10 & Acts 20:31
 Eph. 2:11-22
 Eph. 4:13-16
 Vss. 6-7
 1 Tim. 4:7
 1 Tim. 6:3-5
 Matthew 5:13 (NKJV)