Well, let’s look then at 1 Timothy chapter 1 and we’re looking at the introduction really, just getting a start. We’ll get a little further into it today and then bring it to a conclusion next Lord’s day as we prepare for our communion service. As we open 1 Timothy we read these words, “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the commandment of God our Savior and Christ Jesus our hope, unto Timothy, true child in the faith, grace, mercy and peace from God our Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.” Now the focus that I want you to have this morning and for next Lord’s day as well is to focus on that description of Timothy that comes at the beginning of verse 2, “Unto Timothy, true child in the faith.”
Now it should be a major goal for every Christian to desire to reproduce spiritual children. And I don’t mean only your own physical children, but I mean that you would reproduce yourself over and over again in the life of another person. That is, to bring them to Christ and to nurture them to maturity in Christ. In the second epistle that Paul writes to Timothy, he reminds him in chapter 2 verse 2 that the things he has learned from Paul he is to pass on to faithful men, who then shall be able to pass it on to others also. And in that verse Paul identifies the sequence from Paul to Timothy to faithful men to others also, a sequence of responsibility in the discipling process. We are to be reproducing ourselves. Our Lord said in the great commission that we are to go into all the world and make disciples, teaching them, after having led them to Christ, and baptize them to observe all things whatsoever He has commanded. We are in the process of building up another generation of reproducing believers to follow us.
And of course, we know that the Apostle Paul made a maximum effort in this area. Now this was really a major goal in his life. Obviously he had a sort of multiple focus. He was involved in evangelism in the Jewish and the Gentile communities. He was involved in building the church and ordaining elders. But he was also involved in this matter of discipling individuals to maturity. He would desire to bring many to the place where he could say to them, as he said to Timothy, “You are my genuine child in the faith.” That is, you are a replica. You are a reproduction. You bear my image in character and ministry.
Now he was constantly surrounding himself with fellow believers. He was no isolationist. He was no lone wolf. He worked among people because that’s the context you must work in in order to reproduce. And I thought to myself, it might be kind of an interesting thing just for my own information to go back through the New Testament and just retrace the steps of Paul in the book of Acts and in all of his epistles and see his involvement with individual people as he gave himself to the process of raising up his own spiritual children. And it was a wonderful thing, and I’ll only be able to share with you some highlights of it, but I enjoyed so much refreshing my heart in seeing the ministry of Paul that I call the ministry of reproduction.
Now some of the people that were companions of Paul, some with whom he ministered and labored and served and preached and taught, some with whom he traveled, some who were very close to his heart were not really results of his evangelistic effort. They were not his own spiritual children. Some of them were saved even before he was, such as Barnabas. Barnabas, even before Paul arrived on the scene in the church, was a leading teacher of Scripture. So Barnabas was a companion of Paul, a beloved friend of Paul but not, in the simplest sense, his own child in the faith. And then we’re all familiar with a man named Silas, sometimes called Silvanus. It’s the same man. He too traveled with Paul but was not a product of Paul’s evangelism. He was already a mature believer by the time he met the Apostle Paul.
And then there was Judas Barsabas, there was John Mark mentioned in Acts 15. These also had already come to know the Lord and had grown to some extent before meeting Paul. There was in Acts 18 and 19 the introduction of a man by the name of Apollos. Apollos also was a man already gifted and capable in the articulation of the truth by the time he met Paul. And then there was Philip. Philip who was redeemed and already of man of great stature, spiritual strength, already a man chosen out of the Jerusalem church in Acts chapter 6 because of his faith and because the grace of God was on him. So Philip was one who accompanied Paul, who knew Paul, who shared with Paul as it tells us in Acts 21:8 but was not the child of Paul spiritually. And then there was Andronicus and Junias mentioned in Romans 16:7. And perhaps another more prominent one, Luke who wrote the gospel of Luke and also wrote the book of Acts, and was the frequent companion of Paul who also was not technically Paul’s own child in the faith. So he had those people around him who really weren’t begotten by him in to the gospel but were nonetheless influenced by him. You couldn’t be around the man without picking up something of his spirit, something of his commitment and something of the character and dimension of his own ministry.
But there were many others, a larger group of people, some we know about and some we don’t know about, who were direct products of Paul’s evangelistic effort. And these people he poured his own life into in terms of being the human agent for the gospel to reach them. And they were his friends and his companions. Many of them he reached very presently and very intimately and very personally. Some of them may have been reached through a public preaching. Some of them may even have been reached through someone that he reached, and they in that sense were an indirect product. But we read about them in the book of Acts. We read about Dionysius and Damaris and others in the city of Athens in Acts 17; about Priscilla and Aquila in Acts 18; about Erastus in Acts 19; Gaius, Aristarchus in the same chapter; and then we come to chapter 20 and we meet Sopater, Tychicus, and Trophimus who were products of Paul’s evangelism. Child would be the right word for them in terms of their relation to him. And then there was Mnason in Acts 21 who was a member of the disciples of Caesarea who were the fruit of Paul’s labor there.
We come to Romans chapter 16 and we go from verse 5 to 16 and there’s a long, long list of people who to one extent or another were the products of the ministry of Paul. And we remember Stephanas in 1 Corinthians 16 and Clement in Philippians 4 and Epaphras in Colossians 4 and Eubulus and Pudens and Linus and Claudia in 2 Timothy 4 and then Artemas in Titus 3. And so we know that Paul sort of brought into the kingdom these individuals, and then by traveling with them and working with them and serving with them, nurtured them to spiritual growth and maturity.
But out of all this group, the group of those who were the direct products of his evangelism and those who were the indirect products, those who were redeemed before he ever met them, out of all of this group there are only two people that he calls ‘true child in the faith.’ Now that is not necessarily to say there were no others, but there were two that he branded as his true children in the faith, they were true replicas of his life and character and ministry. One is Timothy which we note here in 1 Timothy 1:2, “my true child in the faith.” And the other is Titus. And in Titus chapter 1 and verse 4, Paul writes to Titus, “true child after the common faith.”
Now there’s a reason that there are two epistles written by Paul to these two men; they were key men in Paul’s life. There are reasons why Paul put Timothy in charge of the work at Ephesus. There are reasons why Paul put Titus in charge of the work on the island of Crete. And the reason is because he was greatly concerned about both works, and because he couldn’t be there himself, he wanted one who would be an exact replica of himself in that place. And these two were indeed replicas of Paul.
Now of the two, Timothy and Titus, one stands out uniquely as apparently most reflective of Paul, and that would be Timothy. We learn that from two passages of Scripture. The first is in Philippians chapter 2, and Paul says in verse 19, “I trust” – writing to the church at Philippi – “I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy shortly to you.” I’m going to send you Timothy. Why? Verse 20, “Because I have no man like-minded.” Now what he means to say there is there’s nobody like me like Timothy is like me. I have nobody that is as much like me as he’s like me. And I want to send him because, “He will naturally care for your state.” In other words, he will do for you what I would do for you.
And then in verse 21 that rather sad and pensive statement of Paul, “For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s.” What a heartbreak. I’m looking around at the people I’ve invested myself in and I can only find one who is like me and the rest are seeking their own things, not really open to the things of Jesus Christ as they ought to be. “But you know the evidence” – or the proof – “of him” – you know Timothy – “that as a son with a father he has served with me in the gospel. It’s him therefore that I hope to send.” Isn’t that a marvelous testimony to the character of this young man? Now by the time he writes 1 Timothy, Timothy has been with Paul nearly 20 years, so he really is a product. He really is marked by the Pauline identification.
In 1 Corinthians we have another passage which I alluded to last week and I only remind you of. Paul was greatly concerned about the Corinthian church much earlier in his ministry than the writing of 1 Timothy. But even that concern much earlier in his ministry brought him to the place where he wanted to send Timothy. This would be as much as ten years before the writing of 1 Timothy. And even then Timothy was already a product. And so in 1 Corinthians 4, Paul expresses his deep concern and then in verse 17 says, “Because of this” – because I’m so concerned about you – “I have sent you Timothy, who is my beloved son and faithful in the Lord” – and here it comes – “who shall bring you in to remembrance of my ways which are in Christ.” In other words, “He’ll remind you of me.” So the Philippians he says, “I sent Timothy because he’s like me.” To the Corinthians he says, “I’m sending Timothy because he’ll remind you of me.” That is a true child. And that beloved, is what any man of God or woman of God would love to reproduce. You love to have someone who can go and represent you and be you in another place. And so Timothy was more like Paul than anybody else. And he then is addressed as such in this wonderful opening of the epistle.
Now may I remind you a little bit of the scene? The Apostle Paul has been released from his first imprisonment. The book of Acts ended with him in prison. I believe he was released from that. Upon that release he goes back to some of the key churches and one of them is the church at Ephesus which was such a part of his life, where he for three years had been the pastor himself, the church out of which were founded all the other churches of Asia Minor. He went back to that church, and when he got there he found an unimaginable thing. He found apostates among the elders, heretics among the leaders. And so according to chapter 1 verse 20, he had to throw them out and deliver them over to Satan that they might learn not to blaspheme. So he did a little purging himself. Then he left. And chapter 1 verse 3 says he went to Macedonia, because he had to go on and visit some other churches, but chapter 1 verse 3 says he left Timothy in Ephesus. And so when he writes to Timothy here, his true child in the faith, he is writing to him in Ephesus. And Timothy is there to counteract the effect of these false teachers and false elders and false leaders.
It is not an easy task. It demands someone who is strong, someone who is sound, someone who is solid, someone who has integrity and virtue and character like the Apostle Paul. And the only person like that would be Timothy. So Timothy is there and it is a very, very difficult place. I think somehow we overlook the fact that 1 Timothy is really a polemic against apostasy. It is really a statement against false teaching and false teachers. And indeed a powerful one. We usually lock in on chapter 3, the qualifications of an elder or the qualifications of a deacon. But the reason Paul is so exercised in his spirit to delineate those is because they had leaders who were not qualified. And there had to be a serious dealing with what was going on in the leadership of that church. And for Timothy to come in there and try to straighten out the people would be one thing, but to come in there and try to straighten out the leadership was indeed a difficult task, a very difficult task. And consequently it’s not long after Paul, having left Timothy in Ephesus and traveled to Macedonia, stops and writes back to Timothy and writes this letter to strengthen him and encourage him and tell him what he needs to do and give him some clout to do it with. And almost at the same time – he wrote Titus before he wrote 2 Timothy – and gave Titus very similar instruction who was also another child in the faith who was maintaining Paul’s profile in Crete.
And as we all know, these are the pastoral epistles because they are written to men who are setting in order the things in the church and they are the swan-song of the Apostle Paul’s life and ministry. These are the last things he writes. He writes 1 Timothy, then Titus, then back to 2 Timothy, and the Lord takes him to heaven. So you find the passion of a man who wants to see the church be everything Christ died to make it, but even in his own life time he has seen the church, the church where he himself pastored, actually begin to be influenced by apostate false teachers. And his heart is broken as he writes and tries to strengthen the hand of Timothy as Timothy sets things in order. So he identifies Timothy as gnēsios teknon – true child, genuine child. And I believe he says that in order to point out the contrast between Timothy and some of the other leaders who were not genuine and were not reflective of Paul’s doctrine or character. So true child in the faith is not an arbitrary title but it is one that sets Timothy apart from the less than genuine, less than true, less than legitimate, hypocritical, apostate, false leaders and teachers that were influencing the church.
So Timothy’s genuineness is introduced at the beginning so that the church will know that in the eyes of Paul this is the standard, this is the model, this is the pattern, this is what everyone else is to be measured by, the character and life and teaching and ministry of Timothy, who is reflective of Paul as the child of Paul. So the emphasis is this is a son of Paul more so than an emphasis on the son of God aspect, although of course Timothy is both. He then is the living test of genuineness. And if the people want to know what a leader is, be he true or false, they need only to measure that leader against Timothy.
And so we see then an overview of the book beginning to unfold for us in the very title Timothy is given – true child in the faith. Because that opens a door for us. And as we walk through the door of that title, we’re going to get an overview of the whole epistle. And I want to do that this morning and next time. I want to approach it this way. There were five things that marked Timothy as a true child in the faith, five things. And this morning we’ll look at three of them and next time two. And they are set in contrast, as we shall see, to the situation there.
Let’s look at the first one. A true child of the faith is initially identified by saving faith. In other words, we all realize that you can’t be a genuine child of the faith unless you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and are redeemed. So salvation is the beginning. Timothy was genuinely saved. And that’s very basic but very important, because this church had people who apparently were not saved. In fact they were unable to be saved, some of them, because apparently they were even questioning the deity of Jesus Christ. Would you look at chapter 3 for a moment and verse 15? And we’ll come back to that verse several times.
Paul says, “I’m writing to you” – in verse 14. Then in verse 15 – “because I want you to know how to behave in the house of God which is the church.” I want you to know how the church ought to operate. And the first thing he says after that is, “Look, without controversy” – in other words, there shouldn’t be any argument about this – “great is the mystery of godliness that God was manifest in the flesh.” Who was that? Christ. “Set apart in the Spirit” – Christ – “who was seen of angels” – yes – “preached unto the nations, believed on in the world and received up into glory.” And all of those are elements of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. It seems rather obvious from this verse that what Paul is saying is there certainly shouldn’t be any argument about the fact that Jesus Christ was God manifest in the flesh and all these things are true of Him. But the implication is that even that was up for grabs. So apparently there were some people who were not willing to admit that Jesus Christ was in fact God in human flesh, which would strike a blow at the very deity of Christ.
Now people who do not believe in the deity of Jesus Christ have absolutely no possibility of being saved, of coming to know God. Because it says simply this in Romans 10, “If you believe in your heart that God hath raised Him from the dead and you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, you’ll be saved.” Now there were some people there who were obviously not committed to that.
Let’s look at this contrast. In chapter 1 verse 3, the end of the verse, he says I want you to approach those who are teaching false doctrine and, “charge them that they teach no other doctrine than the true doctrine.” So what you’ve got here is false teachers, no doubt ranking among the elders, who are teaching false teaching and false teaching even about Jesus Christ. Do you remember back in Acts 20 when Paul left Ephesus? Remember that, when he left Ephesus He gathered all the elders together and he said to them, “I know – I know this, that after I leave” – in verse 29. Let me read it to you just so we get it right. “After I leave,” he says, “grievous wolves will enter in among you not sparing the flock.” You’re going to get false teachers coming in from the outside. And then verse 30, “Also” – listen to this, this is to the group of elders that he’s meeting with – “from your own selves will men arise speaking perverse things to draw away disciples after them.” I know it will come, he says. They’ll come from the outside and they’ll rise from the inside.
It’s true. A few weeks ago we had a guy on the outside passing out material who tried to steal the sheep. At the elders retreat over the weekend, we confronted the issue of a man inside the church, who is a member of the church, who is teaching heresy and leading people away from the true gospel of Jesus Christ, right here in our church. And if things continue we’ll deal with him next Sunday morning in the discipline situation in the communion service. But that’s typical in the church. And Paul said to the Ephesians, “I know that’s going to happen. I know that will happen.” And sure enough it happened.
Since his trip there and his trip to Jerusalem and his capture and his two-year imprisonment and Caesarea and then taken to Rome and imprisoned there and then going to Ephesus and he goes there after those years have passed and sure enough exactly what he had feared had come to pass. And there were perverse people who had arisen among the elders and perhaps even others who had come in from the outside. And there was chaos and there was a teaching of other than true doctrine. Verse 4 says they were giving heed to myths, Judaistic myths and fables, and endless long lists of ancestors, having to do with some kind of ancestor worship perhaps on the one hand or some kind of ancestral strain as being that which affirms a person’s salvation. And there are those who simply minister questions. They don’t give answers; they just stir up with problems with questions. And may I suggest to you that that simply is not edifying; it never was; it never will be. It grieves my heart when I see young people go away to supposed Christian colleges and Christian seminaries, and all they get are people who want to question what the young people believe, supposedly under the guise of testing their faith. That ministers no edifying ministry. That simply brings chaos. But that’s usually what it’s intended to do.
And so he says these people don’t build up; they tear down. And as a result, verse 6, there are those who have swerved; they’ve detoured off; they’ve turned aside into empty banging and clanging noise. They think they’re teachers of the law but they have no idea what they’re saying, and they don’t even know what they’re talking about. And it’s obvious because the one thing the law came to do was point out sin, and he goes on to list all the evil things. And the implication in my mind is, I’ll tell you why I know they don’t know what the law is about, because they’re still living in those kinds of sins, and that’s the very thing the law came to deal with. That’s what he’s saying. You’ve got people who think they’re teaching the law. The truth is, they don’t know what the law says at all. If they did they wouldn’t continue – the implication is – in the kind of life style they’re living in. And he says in verses 12 and following, and I’m a perfect example of that. I thought I knew the law. According to the law, I thought I was blameless, but the truth is the whole time I persecuted the church and thought I was pleasing God’s law, I was a blasphemer of God, he says in verse 12. I did it ignorantly in unbelief, but I was a blasphemer. In fact in verse 15, “I was the chief of sinners.” So he says, I know about people who think they teach the law, but they teach a kind of law that lets them keep on in their evil vile sinful life style, and they’re blasphemers.
Look at chapter 4 and we’ll note again that there were people who obviously were not truly saved. In chapter 4 it says the Spirit speaks very pointedly and directly or expressly that in the later times – now in the later times is the time this was written. The later times began when Jesus came. Christ has appeared, Peter says, once in the end of the age. The end of the age and the later times are the same times. They are the time from the coming of Messiah the first time. We are in the later times now. So he says, “In these later times” – we know – “some will depart from the faith.” And they were in Ephesus. Those who seem to have a sort of a good beginning. I mean, it looked like it was going the right direction, but they departed from the faith. And they listened to seducing spirits. The false doctrine is not concocted by men. Do you understand that?
People say, how can the cults be so systematic? How can the cults be so sophisticated? How can Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Christian Science, and all these other things, all these eastern cults and all these mystical cults, how can they be so sophisticated and so complex and such nicely integrated systems? How is it that they can be that? It isn’t because men have invented them. It is because minds far surpassing human minds have invented them. They are simply seducing spirits and doctrines that come from demons. And demons are far-surpassing to men in terms of their intelligence.
And so here are people in the Ephesian church who are literally believing and propagating doctrine that comes from demons who seduce people into believing them. And they speak lies and hypocrisy. They are not genuine; they are not true; they are hypocrites. They have had their conscience cauterized so that it’s insensitive. It’s covered with scar tissue; it feels nothing. And they have a certain ascetic approach. They don’t marry and they abstain from foods, verse 3 and so forth. They’ve come to some kind of ascetic level, some monastic life style that is nothing but hypocrisy. It is a covering for their seduction and the deception of the demons who have twisted their thinking. So in the Ephesian church there were those who weren’t genuinely saved. Timothy was a true child in the faith but there were some untrue children who were in that assembly too.
Look at chapter 6 verse 21, and this is another very good way to get the overview and the picture of this epistle. But here’s the sum of this point. He says in talking about Timothy in verse 20, Timothy, you keep what you’ve got and stay away from the garbage, “which some professing” – what does that mean? Claiming to what? Claiming to be a Christian, professing to be real – “have erred concerning the faith.” The best way to translate that is have missed the mark with regard to saving faith. They’re not saved. They don’t know the way of salvation. They don’t know the way of salvation. They didn’t know how to be born into God’s family. Oh, they thought it was through ritual, through asceticism, through self-denial. I don’t know what. Through human philosophy, human wisdom. He calls it knowledge falsely so called. Through their vain babblings, their profane talk, their lines of ancestors, or whatever kind of religion they had concocted from the seduction of hell’s devils, they had come to conclusions that were apart from the truth. And so that’s how it is in Ephesus.
But over against that was Timothy. And Timothy is a true child, is a genuine – gnēsios – a genuine child. And that is emphasized throughout the epistle. For example, look at the first two verses. This is Paul, one man writing this epistle. Some times when he would write an epistle to a church he would include Timothy and he would include Silas as sort of co-writers, in a sense, but here it’s one man to another man. Not one man to a church, but one man to one man, Paul to Timothy. It says that.
But would you notice the use of the plural pronouns? Our Savior, Christ our hope, God our Father, verse 2, and Jesus – or Christ Jesus our Lord. The use of the plural pronoun is to pull Timothy in to Paul. And Timothy has the same Savior Paul has and the same Christ Paul has and the same Father Paul has and the same Lord Paul has – our. In verse 5 and 6 he says the end of the commandment or the purpose of the commandment is love out of a pure heart, a good conscience and of true faith. And he’s reminding Timothy of things Timothy knows. He says in 2 Timothy, “I remember your unfeigned faith.” I remember your true faith. And here he says, yes, the purpose of God’s commands is love out of a pure heart, good conscience, true faith, “from which some have swerved.” And if he meant to include Timothy he would have said from which you have swerved, but by omission he affirms that Timothy hasn’t swerved. The word actually means taking no pains to aim at the right path, making no effort to go the right way. Some people have made no effort to go the right way. Obviously this doesn’t include Timothy. Apostasy among the leadership.
Look at chapter 4 verse 10 and see again how Paul embraces Timothy as a true child of the faith in the sense of his salvation. Verse 10 he says, “We both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God who is the Savior of all men, especially of those that believe.” And again he uses the word ‘we.’ And he’s writing all by himself. The only conclusion we can make is that he’s pulling Timothy in and saying, Timothy, I know you suffer like I suffer and you bear the reproach that I bear and you believe like I believe.
And then I love it in chapter 6 verse 12 where he again affirms Timothy’s saving faith. He says to him, “Fight the good fight of faith, keep holding on to eternal life unto which you were called.” Oh yes, he was called to eternal life. This is a redeemed person. “And you have professed a good profession before many witnesses.” I believe that is an allusion to an historical event, namely the baptism of Timothy. At his baptism he would have given his profession of faith in Christ publicly before many witnesses, and he says, “Timothy, hold on that calling to eternal life which you have received and to which you confessed in testimony at your own baptism,” and again affirms the genuineness of Timothy’s salvation.
But the best statement made to affirm the salvation of Timothy is backing up one verse, in verse 11 of chapter 6, where Paul says to him this, “But thou” – what does he call him? – “O” – what? – “man of God.” That says it all. He was a man of God. He had as 2 Timothy 1:5 says, “unfeigned faith.” That is faith without hypocrisy, genuine faith. Second Timothy 1:14 says he possessed the Holy Spirit. Second Timothy 3:14 and 15, he had known the Scriptures which were able to make him wise unto salvation. He was truly saved. I mean, you can’t be a true child in the faith unless you are.
I want you to know, folks, that in my brief life I have invested myself in many people, and I can think in my own mind right now of two in particular that I gave hours and hours and hours to, maybe three even, over a period of months and months, even extending at least in one case to a period of over a year of weekly discipleship, who I am convinced to this moment were never redeemed. It was not true faith, true saving faith, therefore they are no longer a genuine child. They have swerved. They made no effort to stay on the right path. And I’m sure if I thought long there would be many more.
Paul had that same experience. In 2 Timothy 4:10 he says, “Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world.” And he says when I gave my first defense in 2 Timothy 4:16, nobody stood with me, nobody stood beside me. And as I read you in Philippians 2 he said, when I want to send somebody to you I only have one person because everybody else is self-centered and only Timothy cares about the things of Jesus Christ. It can be a real heartbreak. People always ask me, what’s the toughest part of the ministry? And the toughest part of the ministry is living with the fact that you can make a major investment in people’s lives with a minimal or a zero return. And it’s hard to deal with that. But not Timothy. Everyone should have the privilege of having a Timothy – not Timothy.
You say, well how did Paul lead Timothy to Christ? Well, we don’t have a direct word on that, but if you go back to Acts chapter 14 and start reading about verse 6 and read to verse 25 – we won’t do it now – you’ll read the story of Paul going in to the area of Galatia. Galatia was a south-central province in Asia Minor. And within Galatia there was a little town under Roman rule called Lystra. It was one of many towns, Derbe, Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, all in the same area of Asia Minor. Today it would be modern Turkey. And when Paul went to Lystra, there was a man there who couldn’t walk. And so this man came and had faith to believe so Paul says to him, “Stand up and walk.” And the guy starts jumping around and running and leaping. And the people who spoke on the language of the Lycaonians said, “The gods have come down to us.” They saw Paul and Barnabas; they saw this thing happen; they heard Paul preach; and they said the gods are here. Well, they had a myth that in their history the gods had come one other time. And the previous time the gods came down and wanted some place to stay and some food to eat and the townspeople didn’t know who they were and refused to give that to them, so they destroyed the whole town. So this time when they think the gods are back, they’re not going to mess around anymore. So they say the gods are here, let’s not have another problem.
So they ran and got the bullocks, and they ran and got the garlands, and they were going to slay the bullocks, and they were going to offer sacrifices, and they were going to have a whole big festival for these two gods. They called them Jupiter and Mercury. They called Paul Mercury because he was the chief speaker. And so Paul and Barnabas started tearing their clothes and saying, “Hold on, hold on, hold on. You’re not going to worshiping us at all.” And all this was going on in the public square. No doubt Timothy and his mother and grandmother, Lois and Eunice, were there. And I believe that it was at the preaching of Paul and the wonderful things that happened in that place that they were converted. And most Bible scholars do believe that as well.
And then of course, some people came from the other towns, from Derbe and Iconium, and they got a hold of Paul, and they stoned him to death, and they took him out of town and threw him on the dump. And I believe God raised him from the dead at that point, and as soon as he got up off the dump, he didn’t run for the hills, he went right back into town to finish his preaching. So you see, Timothy had had a rather dramatic introduction to the Apostle Paul. And Paul through his own experience of death had been the source of Timothy’s life. And Timothy then followed on with a baptism in which he gave a marvelous profession of his faith in Christ, and I believe it wasn’t long after that that hands were laid upon him – in chapter 16 no doubt, hands were laid upon him as the Word of God came through a prophet that he was called of God to be in the ministry. Hands were laid on him by the elders that Paul had ordained in Acts 14, and Timothy was commissioned to the ministry, and off he went to serve Christ as a companion of the Apostle Paul. So his faith was real. And as over against the unreal faith of the others, his was genuine.
The second thing that marks true children of the faith, true disciples, is continuing obedience. Not only saving faith but continuing obedience. It is a given, folks, and I don’t need to belabor the point, that the New Testament outlines the fact that true believers have a pattern of obedience. Just go to John 14 and read verse 15, verse 21, verse 23, and you will hear Jesus say three times, “He that keeps My commandments, he it is that loves Me.” He says it in different ways but basically that’s what he says. You can go back to John 8 and hear Jesus say, “If you continue in My word then you’re My real disciple.” Or you can hear Paul under the Holy Spirit’s inspiration say in Ephesians 2:10, “We are created in Christ Jesus unto good works which God has before ordained that we should walk in them,” and walk is the pattern of life. The pattern of life of one who is truly saved, the child of faith is continuing obedience.
Timothy had it. And there were some there that didn’t. There were some there that didn’t. I mean, look at chapter 1 verse 19, he says, “Some have put away the faith and they’ve become a shipwreck.” Conscience is the rudder that keeps you on the course. That’s the way the Spirit of God subjectively directs you. And some people having no conscience, putting away a good conscience, putting away faith, have no rudder. Faith, the faith, the sound faith is the map, the chart, the course. Now you tell me what will happen to a ship with no rudder and no chart. No sound faith and no good conscience – shipwreck. And so it’s a very graphic picture of a shipwreck. People who have shipwrecked before they got to the port, before they got to the harbor, maybe they started out in the right direction but they were ruined and they were ruined by an overt act.
The word there put away is a deliberate rejection and repudiation, nauageō, it’s the idea of a willful activity. They threw their rudder away and they threw their chart away and they shipwrecked. Instead of holding on to truth, instead of maintaining a good conscience, they accepted the Satanic blasphemous lies of false teachers and they were shipwrecked, apostate. And he names two of them, Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom he himself when he first came to Ephesus, before he left Timothy there, had turned over to Satan, thrown out of the church that they might under the hand of Satan learn not to blaspheme, learn the consequence of blasphemy.
There were others who apparently were trying to overthrow the faith who were not continuing in obedience. Chapter 2 tells about some women. And apparently from what we get in verse 9, he has to tell the women to “adorn themselves in modest apparel with godly fear and sobriety, not with specially plaited hair and gold and pearls and costly array,” and we’ll talk about that when we get there. But these women were preoccupied with the external and not the internal. And they weren’t concerned with what becomes godliness. They weren’t concerned with good works. And so he says you’ve got to learn to be silent with all subjection. Apparently when you’ve got true teachers trying to get their thing across and you’ve got apostates and false teachers teaching their thing, in the chaos of all of that, some women were beginning to usurp roles that they had no business usurping. And so he permits not a woman to teach or usurp authority over the man but be in silence. And then goes on to explain that that’s not a cultural thing, that’s a creation thing. That’s the way it was from Adam and Eve.
So here you have some abandoning the truth in disobedience who should have known better. Some of these women, by the way, in that church, verse 15 of chapter 5, this verse gets lost but you need to know it. Talking about the women here, younger women, “Some are already turned aside after Satan.” They weren’t continuing at all in the faith. And you’ll remember 1 John 2:19, “They went out from us because they were not of us, if they had been of us they would have continued with us but they went out from us that it might be made manifest they never were of us.” They were like that seed that went into the stony ground and went down and popped up a little plant for a while and finally it died and withered away without fruit. There’s no reality there.
And then remember chapter 4 verses 1 and 2, those who listen to the seducing spirits and the doctrines of demons, it says, depart from the faith. They turned away from the faith. So there were those who didn’t continue. Against that we compare Timothy. He’s the standard: Saving faith, continuing obedience, unwavering commitment. And then in chapter 6, he says there are some false teachers, obviously in verse 3, who don’t teach wholesome words. They don’t even consent to the words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the doctrine which is according to godliness. There were some leaders who were anti-Christ, anti-godliness. They are proud; they don’t know anything. All they want to do is quarrel and argue and dispute about words, and they do it out of envy and strife. It’s jealousy, evil suspicions. These perverse arguments of men with corrupt minds who have no knowledge of the truth are basically being done that they might get money. They want money. They want gain...they want gain. They want to be rich, verse 9 says. Verse 10 says they love money, and that’s why they’ve erred from the faith. They have gold replacing God. The foolish exchange a spiritual treasure that comes to the obedient for material wealth given to the disobedient and with it only sorrowful results.
So some who were not continuing in obedience, intellectual pride, discontent with God’s design, discontent with their God- ordained roles, sexual desire, lust for money, all this was causing people to defect for disobedience and reject the faith of the Lord. People, this still happens. It’s happening here. It always happens. But we still set the standard and we have – that’s why we have elders and leaders in the church who become a standard, whose saving faith is genuine, whose continuing obedience is unwavering, against which we measure. Timothy was genuine.
In Acts chapter 16 when Paul came back the second time to the town where Timothy and his mother and grandmother lived – I think his father was dead. There’s an imperfect tense verb there speaking of his father. His father was a Gentile, which seems to me to indicate that he was dead, and there’s no mention of him beyond that. But when Paul came back to the same town and he talked with the disciples there in Lystra, all they wanted to talk about was this young man Timothy who was so highly respected and so highly esteemed. And because of his spiritual reputation and the virtue in his life and the godliness for which he was known, Paul took him with him. And it was very likely right at that place with the elders there that he was officially prophetically and purposefully ordained into the ministry by the elders. So Timothy was a man of character.
Chapter 4 verse 6 really says it. He says, “You put the brethren in remembrance of these things,” you teach the good things, give them words of the faith and words of good doctrine. And then the end of verse 6 reads this way in the Greek text, “Which you have always followed.” Isn’t that wonderful? That’s wonderful. Which you have always followed. Oh, to have a man that you can pour your life into and say, “Which you have always followed.” In verse 16 he says continue in the good things you’re known for, Timothy.
Yes, he was an obedient model. He was a persevering believer in a church of defectors. So a true child, one that you want to reproduce, is one who has saving faith and continuing obedience. Then very briefly a third thing, we’ll just introduce, humble service – humble service. A true child of the faith, a true product is a servant. God has given me the privilege of, through the years, having some men that God has allowed to be a part of my life. And in many ways the measure of our relationship is their willingness to serve – humble service, a beautiful and marvelous characteristic of true children in the faith. I can show you a true child in the faith in my own ministry by showing you one who with a willing heart and an eager heart serves me. And that’s what Timothy was to Paul.
You know, stewardship of life to the sovereign lordship of Jesus Christ is a fact. We were saved unto good works. In 1 Thessalonians, a marvelous statement is made about that Thessalonian church which was so unique. First Thessalonians 1:9 describes their conversion in these words, “You turned to God from idols.” That’s beautiful, that simple. “You turned to God from idols” – a 180. Then it says this – “In order to serve the living and true God.” And that’s always the point, folks. It’s always in order to serve. I mean, that’s the stuff of which true salvation is made, the serving heart. When Jesus said to the rich young ruler, “Follow Me,” he went away. He didn’t want to follow Him. On the other hand, when Jesus said to the disciples, “Follow Me,” they dropped everything. They dropped their nets, you remember, and they followed. Timothy was a true child in the faith because he was marked out by humble service.
There were others who weren’t so humble and weren’t interested in service. Would you notice chapter 3 verse 6, and here in the qualifications for elders and pastors and leaders Paul has to remind Timothy, now look, when you go about working with this overseer and this elder and pastor and bishop, verse 1, “If he desires the office he desires a good work.” But more than just desiring a good work he has to be a good man, so make sure, verse 6, that he’s not a recent convert, somebody brand new that you really don’t know for sure is genuine. Or else when you lift him up he’ll get so much pride that he’ll ultimately fall into the condemnation of the devil. You know what the condemnation of the devil is? Well, ask yourself this, what was the devil condemned for?
When Satan was in heaven and when he was there as an anointed cherub before God he was a glorious creature. But God threw him out of heaven and he threw him out of heaven for what sin? Pride. So the condemnation of the devil is the judgment that came on the devil for pride. And what he is saying here is that a man in the church who exercises pride is going to fall into the same judgment with which the devil was judged. It isn’t that he’s going to fall into the hands of the devil. It is that he’s going to fall into the hands of God who will judge his pride the way He judged the devil’s pride. So be very careful how you select leadership. And the implication here is that there must have been some people who were very proud and they sought that role not that they might serve the Lord, serve the church, but that they might exalt themselves. Recent converts who wanted self-exaltation.
Go to chapter 5 verse 17, and here were others who were good servants. Verse 17 says, “The elders who are ruling well” – in other words, the elders that are doing as God would have them do – “are to be counted worthy of double pay” – timē. Pay them twice what they ought to have. “Especially if they work hard in the word and doctrine.” If you have hard-working, diligent, faithful men of God, then reward them for that. And then he gives them a couple of statements to support that, “Don’t muzzle the ox that treads the grain. And the laborer is worthy of his reward.” So take care of those that are faithful.
But on the other hand when you find an elder who is not a servant, who doesn’t serve out of humility, you confront that elder. That’s implied before verse 19. But remember this, “Against an elder don’t receive an accusation unless it’s confirmed before” – what? – “two or three witnesses.” And that’s a reiteration of Matthew 18. “But the ones that sin, rebuke before the whole church” – so everybody else will learn to fear how you’re going to deal with that. You say, that’s not easy. That’s right.
And the tendency is when you have a man in a high position of authority, you don’t want to do that because you’re afraid of the impact. There are a lot of people that like him, a lot of people follow him, and he may alienate all those people. You may lose money support; you may split the church; you may get a bad reputation; and it’s a tough thing. It’s one thing to go in and deal with the people, but it’s another thing to go in and start overturning the leaders. And so to enforce how important this is, in verse 21 Paul does a very amazing thing. He says, Timothy, “I command you before God and the Lord Jesus Christ and the elect angels, that you observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality.” Don’t you ever back off because who that leader is, because of who that elder is, because of where he stands, what his prestige is, what his influence is, how much money he gives to the organization. If he is a sinner then you tell the whole church.
Well you’d rather not get in a position like that, right, Where you’d ever have to do that? So verse 22 says that’s a good reason not to lay hands suddenly on anybody. You better be very cautious. And then down through verses 24 and 25 he says some people’s sins are easy to see, some are hidden. So you better be very patient until you’ve really seen what you think you’ve seen. But in the church there, there were some who were not in it because of humble service; they were in it because of pride and self-seeking.
And then in chapter 6 we remind you of what we saw earlier. Verse 4, they were proud. They didn’t know anything but they thought they did. I’ll tell you, folks, there’s nothing more sickening than that. A person who thinks he knows something and knows nothing, especially when it counteracts divine truth. Fussing around and arguing and quarreling about useless words, and really what he’s doing is exercising his own pride out of envy and jealousy. And so they had those who were swollen with pride. They were pompous ignoramuses who wanted to argue, corrupt other people, and wanted to do it for money – roud self-seekers.
But Timothy was different. He was a standard. He was humble. Back in chapter 1 verse 3, we have a little note there that Paul had left him in Ephesus. And he stayed willingly. It’s a small thing but we just are reminded of that. Do you know what happened when Paul took him in Acts 16, gathered him to go with him and travel, what did he do to him first? Remember that? Acts 16:3, he circumcised him. Now that’s a difficult thing for a man just before his twenties to go through, but he did that. He had a humble heart. And Paul felt that he because he had a Jewish mother but a Gentile father and had not been circumcised, he might have some difficulty being accepted by the Jews. And Paul’s strategy was to go to the synagogue and the Jews, and he wanted Timothy to have as much access as possible so he asked that he be circumcised and Timothy was anxious and willing to do that.
And he served the Apostle Paul – I wish we had time to chronicle all of the things that he did for Paul, but he served him – really by the time of the writing of 1 Timothy it’s nearly 20 years that he has served alongside the Apostle Paul. He went on important missions to Thessalonica and Corinth. He accompanied Paul on his last trip to Jerusalem. He was by his side in his imprisonment, and now he’s with him after his imprisonment, humbling serving on his behalf in Ephesus. He was a real servant. In chapter 4 verse 14 he was given a gift, confirmed through prophetic utterance and affirmed by the laying on of the hands of the elders. He was anointed as a servant and he turned out indeed to be a true servant, a true servant, serving faithfully the Apostle Paul. And it wasn’t easy, and he stumbled. And by the time Paul writes 2 Timothy, he’s really going through some struggles, trying to hold his ground. It wasn’t easy. But he was a genuine servant with a humble heart. And in Romans 16:21 Paul calls him, “Timothy, my fellow worker.”
Called, commissioned, obedient, and it wasn’t easy. And that’s why Paul goes to Macedonia, writes him back a letter, and then a little while later he writes Titus a letter, in fact probably at the very same time as 1 Timothy. And then a little after that he writes Timothy again to encourage him in this very, very difficult task. But he had a servant’s heart. And Paul was convinced of it.
What does it mean to be a true child in the faith? It means to be one who is truly saved, who is truly obedient, who is truly humble and commitment to serve the cause of the kingdom. Timothy was such a man he becomes a standard for the church at Ephesus, and he becomes a standard for us – for you, for me, for our church, for the kind of leader we want, for the kind of person we want, for the kind of disciple we want to build up. There are two more things and we’ll look at those next Lord’s day. And may God bless to our hearts the things He’s given us this day. Let’s pray.
Father, we’ve thought of so many things today that we didn’t say, and yet with great confidence and trust in Your Spirit, we know the things that needed to be said were said, and what was unsaid can be brought to the heart by the work of the Holy Spirit. Blessed Lord, thank You for the pattern of Timothy and Paul, for what we’ve learned from just our time together. Help us, Lord, to be those genuine children in the faith and then to raise up other genuine children in the faith. Be pleased, O God, with our worship today and not only that but our life. We love You, we praise You for the privilege of even being considered a child, a representative of You, a servant.
This article is also available and sold as a booklet.