Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope,
To Timothy, my true child in the faith:
Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith. The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions.
Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted.
- Paul is an apostle of Christ.
- Paul is an apostle of Christ because God commanded it.
- God is our Savior.
- Our hope is in Christ.
- The letter is to Timothy.
- Timothy was Paul’s son in the faith.
- Paul tells Timothy to stay in Ephesus.
- Paul told Timothy to stay in Ephesus when Paul was in Macedonia.
- Timothy was to tell those teaching different doctrines to stop.
- Timothy was to tell people to not devote themselves to myths.
- Timothy was to tell people not to devote themselves to genealogies.
- False doctrine, genealogies, and myths promote controversial speculation.
- False doctrine, genealogies, and myths do not advance God’s work.
- God’s work is by faith.
- The goal for the command to end false doctrine, genealogies and myths is love.
- Our love is to come from a pure heart, good conscience, and sincere faith.
- Some members of the church had left purity of heart, a good conscience, and sincere faith and taken up talking about things that were not important.
- Those who dwelled on unimportant things wanted to be teachers of the law.
- Some who wanted to be teachers of the law were uneducated in the law.
- Some who wanted to be teachers of the law spoke confidently about things they did not know.
- The law is good if used correctly.
- The law was not made for the righteous.
- The law was made for lawbreakers, rebels, ungodly, and sinful, unholy and irreligious, murders, sexually immoral, homosexuals, enslavers, liars, and perjurers.
- The law was made for anything that is contrary to the sound doctrine which conforms to the gospel.
- The gospel is to bring glory to God.
- God entrusted the gospel to Paul.
Paul addresses the letter to Timothy. But it is clear the letter was also written to benefit others as well. It is clear Paul intended to instruct Timothy. But the letter also contains unnecessary things if Paul were writing only to Timothy.
Paul starts his letter with, “an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope.” If Paul were only addressing only Timothy, this would be unnecessary. Timothy already knew Paul was a God appointed apostle.
In his opening, Paul calls Jesus, “God our Savior.” The title Paul usually uses to refer to Jesus is, “Son of God.” But, this is also an appropriate title for the Father for two reasons. First, it is the Father who gave us the Son. Second, it agrees that the Father and the Son are one.
Paul calls Christ our hope. Because of depravity and sinfulness we are without hope apart from Christ. It is only when we look to Christ is there any hope of surviving God’s justice.
Paul reminds Timothy why Paul left him in Ephesus. Paul left Timothy to halt the doctrines that differed from what Paul taught. The NIV translates “different doctrine”, as “false doctrines.” Any different doctrine would be false. I feel the NIV translation tends to cause us accept too broad a range of doctrines and teachings. As we will see Paul will point out just because something is true does not mean it is valuable. I much prefer the ESV translation, “any different doctrine”. This command to Timothy should drive us to study the scripture. We need to ensure we have a correct understanding of doctrine.
What does Paul mean by “another doctrine?” He means any doctrine which opposes the gospel as well as any that corrupts it. This includes any doctrine with either new teachings. It includes any teaching borrowed from other world views. It includes any doctrine that obscures the gospel with speculation.
Timothy was to oppose not only blatantly false teaching and the trivial, and useless. Just because something is true does not mean it has value. Paul gives an example of what he is talking about. “Endless genealogies” and “vain discussion” may be true but of no value. You may have a correct understanding of your ancestry. But it has no bearing on the gospel. God could raise children for Abraham from stones. (Matthew 3:9 Luke 3:8)
Idle talk or vain discussions provide no value. It only serves to divide and create enmity. If it does not edify we are to oppose it. We should only seek the holy and sacred word of God. We should seek only that which edifies God.
Paul condemns those who would be teachers of the law and yet have no knowledge of it. They show their pride by asserting that which God has not said. We have the same problem today. Many Sunday School teachers have little knowledge of the bible. They grew up in church and so they believe that qualifies them to teach. Yet I have found that less than 1 in 100 even has can even list Old Testament stories in the correct sequence. They see them as disjointed individual stories. That means they do not even know the facts of the story of redemption. It is little wonder church members are spiritually starving. Their leaders cannot feed them.
Paul anticipated the claim by false teachers that they had the law on their side. Paul demonstrates not only is the law not on their side, the law condemned them.
The purpose of the law is love. “’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40). The summary of the law is that we worship God with true faith and a pure conscience and that we love each other. Interpreting the Law apart from this corrupts the law and twists it into some other purpose.
You must know the law to interpret it. Yet these teachers despised the law to the point it was not even worth their time to learn.
Those who claim free will say we are free to come to Christ, prove themselves wrong with their lives. We all sin. “Jesus answered them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.’”. (John 8:34) We are not free to choose God we are slaves to sin.
To make their idea work, they redefine sin to match their worldly philosophy. They define it as a willful transgression against the known law of God. This is not a biblical definition. Sin is any transgression of or lack of conformity to the law of God” (1 John 3:4).
The law serves 3 purposes, restrain evil, provide instruction, and draw us to repentance. So for whom is the law provided? Paul answers with the obvious answer. God provides the law for the lawless. This describes us all. In 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 Paul provides a list for Timothy. Then he adds a kicker, in verse 11 “And such were some of you.” And such were we all. But the good news is we are not left there. Paul finishes the verse with, “But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” I pray you are as well.
We live in a relativistic culture. Our postmodern culture tells us, “Everything is relative. Just because it is different doesn’t mean it’s wrong. There are no false doctrines. There is no absolute right or wrong.”
That viewpoint condemns itself when you think about for any length of time. If there is no absolute right or wrong and I say there is an absolute right then my statement must be wrong. But since there is no wrong, my statement can’t be wrong. Since my statement is not wrong it must be right. Since my statement is right, there must be wrong. But there are no wrongs. Then, my statement must be wrong. And we are stuck in an endless loop.
Because relativism is self-contradictory its absurdity becomes obvious. But, a doctrine does not need to be self-contradictory to be false. Any doctrine contrary to the doctrine taught in scripture is incorrect. Paul tells us to oppose any doctrine that is not compatible with scripture.
The reaction to that may be that not loving. And isn’t the purpose of the law love? Love does not mean we make everyone feel good. Would it love to watch a man run over by a truck because you did not want to disturb his peace by yelling a warning? NO! Love sometimes requires we disturb the peace and tranquility. Love demands we warn those who do not want to us to warn them of impending danger. If we do less, we do not love.