The apostle Paul's letters to Timothy [1 & 2 Timothy] outline Paul's plan for establishing church life on the biblical pattern of the human family as ordained by God Himself. Understanding this concept is considered one of the deep truths of God.
This message is part of a series covering 1 Timothy. The entire series can be found at these links:
- 1 Timothy chapter 1 - Confronting False Teaching
- 1 Timothy chapter 2 & 3 - Roles in the Household of God
- 1 Timothy chapter 4 thru 6 - Food, Sex, and Money
The apostle Paul wrote 2 letters to Timothy. In them Paul commissioned Timothy to address problems that had taken root in the church of God located in Ephesus. In the first chapter of the first letter to Timothy, Paul identifies the problem as false doctrines [teaching based on genealogies and myths]. He wants Timothy to confront and correct the situation with all assurance that he has the authority and mandate to get the job done.
Paul does not leave Timothy to figure out how to attack the problem without guidance. Paul had plenty of experience settling congregational disputes, correcting bad practices, establishing proper doctrinal focus and spiritual development.
Today we are going to review the plan and priorities which Paul laid out for Timothy in the next section of the letter. The plan has 4 major components:
- Give a proper perspective on worldly authority
- Establish order within worship service
- Establish roles and responsibilities based on the model of the ideal family [God’s ordained structure]
- Provide clear roles and responsibilities for those ordained as teachers and administrators within the congregation
For points 2, 3, and 4 Paul bases the roles and responsibilities on the human family.Proper Perspective on Worldly Authority 1 Timothy 2:1-7 1 Timothy 2:1-7  I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;  For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.  For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior;  Who will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth.  For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;  Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.  Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity.
American King James Version×
Paul says "the first matter we need to address is our perspective towards worldly authority. Paul and the people of his day had no experience with democracy and universal suffrage. Submission to autocratic dictatorship was the only option. So, what mattered was ones attitude towards submission.
One practical reason Paul cites regarding prayer about Kings is that if affects church life:
- A stable political environment is the best for a clear unfettered proclamation of the truth of God.
- The spiritual development of God's children needs time to develop in an environment of peace and quiet where they can actively pursue righteousness and holiness.
- A third reason is one I will add: that a bad perspective on worldly authority negatively affects your attitude toward spiritual authority.
For example, in this country we had been fed a constant message: Question all authority. That mantra developed from a desire to call out error based on exploitation and deceptive traditions and power structures. However, on the flip side we have now trained our minds such that our knee-jerk reaction is to reject authority until it proves its validity for us... which is often based on emotion and self serving ends.
Democracy is a relatively recent experiment in human self government… accounting for about 4% of recorded history. Like the other 96% of of humanities experiments in self government democracy is destined for failure.
The true model of righteous government is based on the family model. Although the bible speaks of kings, priests, thrones, dominions etc. … the foundation is the family model … Father, Son, wife, children, brother, sister.
One of God's preferred teaching methods is to start with what He tells you based on His own authority… that of a loving father who has your best interests at heart. The Father often asks you to begin doing without necessarily understanding the reason why, then understanding comes after you act in faith and begin doing. That's the meaning of "taste and see that God's ways are good"... examples might include, Sabbath observance, tithing.God's Ways Are Intended For All People
Paul repeatedly says "all people". This may be directed toward the false teachers promoting the idea that Christianity was for an elite group, perhaps racial or cultural superiority established through "endless genealogies" or that salvation is based on special knowledge beyond the written testimony of scripture... "godless myths" and "old wives tales".
verse 3 God desires that every human being comes to a knowledge of the truth. And He wants to see us earnestly concerned in prayer about the salvation of all people... not just our self, our family, our circle of friends. Pray for the effectiveness of the church’s evangelic efforts.
Knowledge of the truth implies a cognitive element to the work. The process begins with receiving and digesting information. We put the information on the table and attempting to persuade people with regard to it. God will choose those He wills based on their response to the truth. We cannot make that happen but we can make sure we do our part effectively. The truth we present is of God… we are responsible to present it in a persuasive manner.Order Within Worship Services 1 Timothy 2:8-15 1 Timothy 2:8-15  I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.  In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with modesty and sobriety; not with braided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array;  But (which becomes women professing godliness) with good works.  Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.  But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.  For Adam was first formed, then Eve.  And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.  Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.
American King James Version×
The false teachings in Ephesus had led to a number of failings: a love of disputing and controversy 1:3-4, which lead to angry arguments 2:8, which lead to envy, strife, insults, evil suspicion 6:3-5.
These are the verses that give the infamous prohibition on women getting up in front of the congregation and teaching during worship services. Since Paul addresses the matter it most likely that the congregation in Ephesus was allowing it, and Paul wanted it to stop. This ruling is still argued in our day.
UCG follows this same biblical instruction for our worship services. This is another example of doing as instructed... even when you may not fully understand all the reasons why. Based on the context here I'd like to make an observation… Let’s review the context:
- The over-arching context of Paul's correction is regarding false teaching
- immediately prior to the ruling comes a warning against focusing on external beauty
- immediately following comes an interpretation of the Genesis event that says Adam went along with Eve in her disobedience to God even though he knew better...
Question: If he wasn't persuaded and deceived why did he go along with her? Are men more easily swayed by physical attraction, desire for closeness with women, do men more easily accept error when its delivered to them from a woman?
The old testament has many, many warnings of just this sort of scenario... [like Solomon who’s heart was turned away from God by his many wives, or the bible’s frequent warning s about marrying women with foreign gods].
Does this mean imply are morally or spiritually inferior to men? No… the bible is quite clear that women are co-heirs with men in Christ and not inferior. My personal experience has been that both men and women seem equally susceptible to deception, and on the flip side both men and women can be and are equally strong in faith. However, the bible indicates men seem to be prone to a certain weakness in this area.
This same female power can also work for God's good purpose... when channeled though the institution of marriage and family, good deeds, and a godly example. Elsewhere, Paul says wives of unbelieving husbands might win them over to the truth through the obvious goodness of their lives. He doesn’t say that about men.
Within appropriate settings, women are expected to teach:
- They are to teach children. See 2 Timothy 1:5 2 Timothy 1:5When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in you, which dwelled first in your grandmother Lois, and your mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in you also.
American King James Version×
- They should share an accurate understanding of God's truth to others through friendship and acquaintance [although if unmarried one-on-one session with other men is not a good idea]. See Acts 18:26 Acts 18:26And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him to them, and expounded to him the way of God more perfectly.
American King James Version× and 2 Timothy
- They are to teach other women in the congregation. See Titus 2:3-4 Titus 2:3-4  The aged women likewise, that they be in behavior as becomes holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things;
 That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,
American King James Version×
The other reason for the ruling on women not teaching during worship services is so we properly reflect the relationship of Christ [the husband] and the church [which is His bride and subject to Him]. When Christ returns He will have authority over all things. His bride and wife will rule together with Him but be subject to Him.
This is the structure God wants within the family, and the structure He wants within the church, which reflects the structure of Christ’s coming rule on earth.Leadership Within The Church 1 Timothy 3:1-13 1 Timothy 3:1-13  This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desires a good work.  A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to teach;  Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;  One that rules well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;  (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)  Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.  Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.  Likewise must the deacons be grave, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre;  Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience.  And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless.  Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things.  Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.  For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.
American King James Version×
Paul next tells Timothy where leadership within the body of the church should come from. Leadership in God's church is not based on charm, beauty, sophistication, or wealth. It is based on character.
The qualifications of elders and deacons are a combination of attributes that are both outward/visible, and of inner character [however, that inner character is only recognized through outward actions].
verses 1-3 not a bully, either verbally or physically, not contentious
verses 4-5 once again, the family is the ideal and model for church life
verses 6-7 they should have been around long enough to establish a good reputation.Self Application:
- A leader in God's church must be wary of pride and self exultation... so must each of us. We are not called because we are special... however, we are called so that we might become special in God's eyes. And what is special in God’s eyes is humble obedience and faith.
- The personal folly of a leader can cause them to bring disgrace upon the church... this can also happen with each and every one of us. Satan uses this method to turn people away from accepting the truth... " I cannot in good conscience be in the same church as a person like that".
God's instructions on this trap of Satan is two-fold:
- Woe unto you if your personal faults, problems, sins, attitudes, or opinions cause another person to turn away from the path of salvation
- Do not let yourself be easily offended. The actions of that other person may have triggered your response BUT that does not absolve you of the consequences of your decision. If you leave the path of salvation because of what some other person does... you still miss out.
verses 8-12 the same emphasis on good behavior, soundness in the faith, and family life is repeated for deacons, wives are mentioned here with a special note on gossip.
verse 13 this echoes the opening comments in verse 1 of this chapter: fulfilling this role of providing leadership within the Church is a good thing. It's not wrong to want to serve in this way... even seeking it out... as long as you fit the criteria. People who perform these tasks are subject to certain trials, testing, and sacrifice…those who do a good job at it are pleasing to God and Christ. THE CHURCH WANTS PEOPLE TO STEP UP AND DO THESE THINGS!Reasons For Providing These Instructions 1 Timothy 3:14-16 1 Timothy 3:14-16  These things write I to you, hoping to come to you shortly:  But if I tarry long, that you may know how you ought to behave yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.  And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached to the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.
American King James Version×
Paul would like to be there himself and repeat these instructions with the full weight of his own authority. However, he is counting on Timothy to lay them out for everyone and apply them.
verses 14-15 again the human family [the household of God], with a husband, wife, and children is the model and structure which church life is based upon. The guidelines and structure presented in these 2 chapters is the way for everyone to operate within the household of God. Not just the leaders... the whole family.
The model of the church is the pillar of truth. It is God’s ordained method for upholding the truth within the world and showing His intent for everyone. Woe unto us if we don’t do it.
verse 16 this way of approaching church life, family life, and even secular authority is a deep truth revealed to us by our Creator. A truth that you have already begun to better understand... through living it, and in living it, growing in understanding…. but we have more growing to accomplish!
It is also a truth we are duty bound to proclaim to everyone we can.