3. 1 Tim. 1:12 – 2:7 The First Priority of the “Timothy” Charge
In the first eleven verses of 1 Timothy, Paul reminded his protégé Timothy of the primary reason he stationed him in Ephesus: “so that you may relay to some not to teach contrary, nor give regard to fabrications and unsubstantiated genealogies which produce disputes instead of the edification of God which is through faith.” The goal was to keep this growing assembly on track, teaching those things that lead to edification and maturing of the whole body, but especially to avoid contemporary cultural controversies which cause division. This same thing has become a serious threat to local churches and fellowships today, as many have become preoccupied with modern controversies.
In verses 12-17 Paul recalled his own calling by Jesus to be His trusted Apostle and one of the main reasons Paul Himself had been chosen as an instrument of Jesus Christ. Since Paul reminded Timothy of why he was stationed at Ephesus, and then recalled why he had been chosen by Jesus, it is clear that remaining true to one’s calling is of critical importance to anyone willing to become a “Timothy.”
The problem with those who were teaching “contrary” at Ephesus was that they either had no calling at all, or they had not remained true to their calling. Paul had previously warned the elders that some even from among them would depart from sound teaching that leads to edification due to selfish motives. “I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be on the alert …” A similar clue is given in 1 Timothy 1:7 concerning the motivations of these men, that they were “desiring to be teachers.“ They were eager to be “teachers,” not because of devotion to Christ, but because of the notoriety it gave them. They were secretly serving the idol of their own egos rather than singularly serving the Master, Jesus Christ. Paul warned the Ephesian elders to “be on the alert” for such men.
Paul then gave Timothy a “charge” (a trust) consisting of a series of specific commands. This “charge” was to govern Timothy’s entire mission at Ephesus.
1 Timothy 1:18-20 (LGV) 18 This charge I am entrusting to you, son Timothy, in accord with the preceding prophecies over you, so that you may engage the ideal warfare in them, 19 having faith and a good conscience of which some, having pushed away, have shipwrecked concerning the Faith, 20 of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander whom I have given over to Satan so that they may be trained not to blaspheme.
The special mindset that Paul possessed and projected onto Timothy was that of a soldier under Jesus as his Commander. As with any faithful soldier, one is to obey without question all orders passed down to him from his superiors. God Himself is the supreme authority and the source of all commands. Jesus proved to be faithful in all respects to His own mission. Jesus then called Paul to be His personal Apostle to the Gentiles. Paul, under Jesus Christ, gave Timothy his own orders.
1 Timothy 2:1-7 (LGV) 1 “First of all, I encourage that petitions, prayers, pleading, and thanksgivings be made over all men, 2 over kings and all of those in authority so that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life in all devotedness and sincerity. 3 For this is ideal and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior 4 who desires all men to be rescued and to come into the knowledge of truth. 5 For there is one God and one Intermediary between God and men, the Man Anointed Jesus, 6 the one having given Himself a substitute ransom over all, the testimony until [God’s] own appointed times. 7 Unto this I was appointed a herald and an Emissary (I am telling the truth in the Anointed, I am not lying), a teacher of the nations in trustworthiness and truth.”
As we begin to break down the specific orders within Timothy’s overall “charge,” it is noteworthy that Paul emphasized priority. The words, “First of all” indicate the most important aspect of Timothy’s charge. This had to do with interaction with the civil authorities. The goal of the first order was to facilitate an atmosphere within society that would be conducive to the mission of spreading the Gospel of the Kingdom in that mixed culture. Paul’s reason, “so that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life in all devotedness and sincerity,” is largely dependent on how society perceives the entire Christian community. Timothy was to teach the Ephesians to pray for their civil leaders and even to make thanksgiving over them.
When Paul spent three years in Ephesus establishing that local assembly, there was a riot instigated by some pagan craftsmen who made their living making idols and shrines to a local goddess. Their livelihood was being threatened by the spread of the Gospel because many pagans were abandoning their idols and being baptized into Christ and into the local assembly. This riot attracted the attention of the local civil authorities who had to step in. Fortunately for Paul, the local magistrate, who was himself a worshipper of the local goddess, diffused the situation. However, in many other instances, Paul and his companions were jailed and/or run out of town by civil authorities.
Paul gave a similar command to Titus, another protégé whom he had sent to Crete on a similar mission. “Speak about these things, encourage, and refute with all authority. Let no one trivialize you. Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be prepared for every good deed, to disparage no one, to be peaceful, tolerant, displaying gentleness towards all men. … The word is trustworthy, and concerning these things I want you to elaborate so that those who have trusted God might be mindful to maintain good deeds. These things are good and beneficial for men. But stand apart from foolish inquiries and genealogies, [from] arguments and legality disputes, for these are useless and vain. Reject a divisive man after a first and second warning, having observed that such [a man] has been perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned.”
Reminding the members to be submissive to civil rulers and authorities, to be obedient to them, to be peaceful, tolerant, and gentle, is part of maintaining “good deeds,” and are “good and beneficial” for Christians. Note also that just as in 1 Timothy one’s submissive attitude and stance towards civil authorities is placed in contrast to “foolish inquiries and genealogies, [from] arguments and legality disputes,” which are “useless and vain.”
Peter gave similar instructions regarding how the Christian community should live within society at large and why.
1 Peter 2:13-17 (LGV) 11 Beloved ones, I beg you, as foreign residents and refugees, abstain from fleshly cravings which wage war against the soul, 12 having your behavior excellent among the nations so that in whatever ways they defame you as offenders, they should honor God in a day of examination by observing your good deeds. 13 Be submissive, then, to every human institution for the Master, whether to the king as supreme, 14 or to officers being sent by him for extending judgment for evil-doers, but commendation of those who do well, 15 since this way the will of God [is accomplished]: by doing good to silence the ignorance of stupid men. 16 [Live] as being free and not as having freedom for a pretext for evil, but as servants of God. 17 Honor all; love the brotherhood; fear God; honor the king,
This passage gives more insight into why Paul made this topic a priority for Timothy and Titus. If we are to live “as foreign residents and refugees,” (which is truly walking in the footsteps of Abraham), then our allegiance must be to the Kingdom of God and to our King, Jesus. As such, His goals must be our goals. Our Commander’s goal is stated plainly in 2 Peter 3:9: “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” His goal is not that our lives are comfortable, or that we take up social causes or fight injustice in our societies. He wants all people to come to repentance. He wants us to reflect His mission and His goals, which does not involve being caught up in politics or societal controversies. This requires “having your behavior excellent among the nations so that in whatever ways they defame you as offenders, they should honor God in a day of examination by observing your good deeds.” Paul wrote essentially the same to Titus:
Titus 2:6-8 (LGV) 6 Similarly, encourage the young men to be sensible concerning everything, 7 exhibit yourself as a model of good deeds, teaching with sincerity and incorruptibility 8 a sound, untarnished message, so that the opponent may be ashamed, having nothing bad to say about you all.
Adding political or social causes, or one’s favorite conspiracy theory, to our stand as Christians is projecting an unsound and tarnished message, and gives the opponents of Christianity plenty to accuse Christianity in general. In both Timothy and Titus “good deeds” include this: “Be submissive, then, to every human institution for the Master, whether to the king as supreme, or to officers being sent by him for extending judgment for evil-doers, but commendation of those who do well, since this way the will of God [is accomplished]: by doing good to silence the ignorance of stupid men.” Our actions, rather than our words, speak loudly to those in our culture. The opposition seeks every opportunity to slander and accuse the followers of Christ. Any opposition to governmental authority gives occasion to accuse both us and our Master. Our submission to the authorities is “for the Master,” so that we give no occasion for opponents of God to accuse us in anything. If we disobey, ignore, disparage, or slander civil rulers, we provide the fodder for the accusations against ourselves, our Master, and diminish His goals. What the Christian community does reflects on Christ and His mission. This is “the will of God” for us, so that “by doing good” we will “silence the ignorance of stupid men” by our actions and attitudes. This even involves suffering wrongfully yet patiently and in humility, imitating Jesus Himself “who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously.” Jesus Himself said “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” because human government, despite its imperfections and even corruption, is ordained by God for this present age to hold back the flood of evil.
Publicly disobeying civil authorities (except when they demand that we disobey God) is disobeying God’s ordained authority and is thus disobeying God. It is placing another agenda, perhaps a political one, ahead of the agenda of our claimed “Master” Jesus Christ who desires that all come to repentance. Public disobedience becomes an obstacle to the mission and reflects poorly on our Master whose Kingdom is not of this world (that is of this fallen world under the curse). Thus Christians who publicly disobey and/or publicly slander and disparage those men who hold civil office, who do not respect them simply because of their office which is under the authority of God (whether we like or agree with them or not), are part of the problem not the solution. Such Christians are not living “as foreign residents and refugees” and are not walking in the steps of Abraham. They are in part responsible for the rejection of Christ by the culture in which they live. Those who fancy themselves teachers of the Word, but are not obeying and teaching the above Scriptures, have lost sight of the mission and are not worthy of the calling of a “Timothy.” Or, worse yet, they are like those Paul warned the Ephesian elders to be on guard against.
For those who sincerely desire to be a “Timothy,” because they want to please God rather than gain their own following, Paul’s charge must be embraced. A “Timothy” must first be concerned about how his words and actions reflect on Jesus Christ and what kind of message his words and actions send to society at large. He must make the following his first priority: “First of all, I encourage that petitions, prayers, pleading, and thanksgivings be made over all men, over kings and all of those in authority so that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life in all devotedness and sincerity. For this is ideal and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior who desires all men to be rescued and to come into the knowledge of truth.” “Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be prepared for every good deed, to disparage no one, to be peaceful, tolerant, displaying gentleness towards all men.”
This very first priority in the “Timothy” charge helps set the stage for the Good News of the Kingdom to be received and effective in every culture, to head off and “silence the ignorance of stupid men,” and to accurately reflect the character and goals of our Commander. A “Timothy” cannot take up any cause at all except representing Jesus Christ accurately.
Go to: 4. The Second Priority, Rescuing Eve
 Acts 20:29-31 NASB
 Heb. 3:1-6
 Acts 19:23-41
 Titus 2:15 – 3:2,8-11
 Rom. 4:12; Heb. 11:8-19; James 2:20-24
 1 Pet. 2:23 (NKJV)
 Mark 12:17 (NASB)
 Rom. 13
 Rom. 13:2
 1 Tim. 2:1-2 (LGV)
 Titus 2:1-3 (LGV)