1 Timothy 4:6-16

GodlinessIf you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed. Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. For to this end, we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.

Command and teach these things. Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.

Observation

  • If Timothy brings what Paul is writing to him before the church he will be a good servant of Christ.
  • Timothy was trained in the words and faith and good doctrine.
  • Timothy followed a good doctrine.
  • Timothy was to have nothing to do with myths.
  • Myths are irreverent and silly.
  • Timothy was to train himself in godliness.
  • Training the body was value but only a little.
  • Training in godliness has a valuable in every way.
  • Godliness holds a promise for both this life and the life to come.
  • We work toward godliness because we have hope in Christ.
  • Christ is the savior of all people, especially of those who believe.
  • Timothy was to not only teach what Paul was writing; he was to command it within the church.
  • Timothy was not to let his word go unheeded because of his age.
  • Timothy was to be an example to the believers in:
  • Timothy was to devote himself to:
    • Public reading of Scripture.
  • Timothy received a gift when the council of elders laid hands on him.
  • Timothy received the gift by prophecy.
  • Timothy was not to ignore the gift he had received.
  • Timothy was not only to practice the things Paul was writing; he was to immerse himself in them.
  • By immersing himself in Paul’s teaching Timothy would grow.
  • Everyone was to see Timothy’s growth.
  • Timothy was to play close attention to his conduct and Paul’s teaching.
  • Persist obeying and adherence to the teaching would save Timothy and those he taught.

Interpretation

Paul’s focus is not on true versus false teaching. The comparison is between the trivial and the important. He tells Timothy to ignore the unimportant. By doing so, he is a good minister and servant of Christ. We often focus on the trivial. We argue over trivial unimportant things. We create suffocated arguments. When we do so we forget the basics things, the important things. We forget we are not supposed to be impressing men. We are to serve God.

But basic and essential does not mean simple or simplistic. Timothy had been trained. He had been taught. He had been taught the words of faith and of good doctrine. Timothy’s faith was not just something he or Paul came up with. These were things of substance. These were things grounded in historical events. These were things that actually happened. They are things you need to learn. You are not born knowing them. Timothy was not to tell made up stories (irreverent, silly myths) but history. The things he had learned.

The study of Christianity is a study of history. It is the study of God’s intervention in history. Christianity is different than nearly all other religions in the world. It is important that Christ actually was born. He lived, died on a cross and rose again. It is important to understand it happened in actual physical history. Christ did not rise in spirit. He rose in a body, in space and time. Christianity is the only religion that you can prove false, just find the body. Christianity is God intervening in real history.

We are not to add to nor detract from the story of Christ. That would be irreverent and silly myths. Not only are we to teach history we are to live a life that is an example to others. We live a certain way because God intervened in history. When we say we have good news, no one should look at us and feel justified in saying, “You have good news? You could have fooled me.” Timothy was to set the example to his congregation by training himself in godliness. By godliness, Paul means the spiritual worship of God which makes of a pure conscience.

When Paul says training the body has some value. He is not referring to calisthenics or some type of physical exercise. He is talking about external religious activities, as well as our occupation and labors. Paul states this idea more forcefully in Colossians 2:20-23. There he says not there is are of no value in stopping the desires of the flesh. They may be of some value, but they do nothing to prompt godliness. Even so, we will always try to worship God through external religion rather than in our hearts.

“For to this end, we toil and strive…” Paul is saying godliness is hard work. But it is worth the effort. Why? Our hope is in the living God. It is God who saves us. Notice Paul does not tell Timothy strive for godliness for your salvation. Nor does he tell Timothy to strive for godliness to maintain his salvation. Timothy’s striving for godliness is a response to God’s goodness. God is our hope.

Our hope is in the living God. Christians suffer. In some cases, we suffer like the rest or humanity. But in other cases, we suffer on account of righteousness. That is grounds for rejoicing. Our suffering accompanies our hope in the living God. “and hope does not put us to shame because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:5)  We should see everything that happens to us, including suffering, as a blessing from God.

When Paul says God’s salvation extends to everyone, he is referring to God’s common grace. The ungodly don’t recognize his grace, yet, the godly do.  The unbeliever does not feel God’s goodness because of his ungodliness. Yet the godly man who has hope in Him feels it strongly.

Paul tells Timothy to command and teach. We should never grow tired of sound doctrine. For the truth of God is the best news we could hear.

Paul addresses Timothy’s age. Timothy was probably in his thirties. Thus, he was younger than many of the Christians (and elders) at Ephesus. As a result, Timothy may have been shy or timid. Some in the church at Ephesus may not have accepted his authority. Timothy was to establish his authority, by setting an example of godly living. He was not to establish his authority by asserting it. It is the wise pastor who heeds these words.

Paul was aware of Timothy’s knowledge of the scriptures. Paul had already mentioned Timothy’s instruction in sound doctrine. Yet Paul tells Timothy to devote himself to the reading of the scriptures. Scripture is something that we must do every day. We need the constant instruction of God’s word. A teacher can only teach what he knows. The church needs to hear the scripture. Pop psychology from the latest books in the Christian bookstore has no value. We need the scripture! We need it every day! Preachers should preach scripture and only scripture. By understanding scripture we learn how to live. Scripture is more than specific instruction on how to living. It provides the principles to build a life. A bridge builder who only knows how to build a specific bridge and not the physics may do well. But he only does well as long as the conditions meet his requirements. When the conditions change his bridges collapse.

That is the problem with “practical” preaching. It addresses a situation or even a set of situations. But when conditions change the formulas no longer work. Then our lives collapse.

Continually studying and knowing God’s word give us hope, for God is our hope.

Paul tells Timothy not to neglect the gifts he was given. Timothy was to use his gifts to edify others. God wants us to use our talents. He gave them to us to use them to bless others. If we hide or lose our gifts we deny the world that blessing.

Timothy was to persist and practice and make progress. Paul does not talk about arriving or achieving. Godliness is a continual struggle.

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