A Teacher Of The True Faith
1 Timothy 2:1-15
Key Verse 2:7
“And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle— I am telling the truth, I am not lying— and a teacher of the true faith to the Gentiles.”
Paul wrote this letter to Timothy for obvious reasons. He mentions one of them in the first chapter when he tells him why he had asked him to remain in the Ephesus church in order to stop some false teaching that was taking root among the believers. This is very alarming since Paul himself was the one who preached the gospel to the Ephesians and had established that church in the first place. So, it makes us wonder how easy it is for a false teaching to find its way into a church! What could possibly have made it possible for such a thing to happen? Another reason Paul gives Timothy for his writing him this letter sheds light on this. 3:15-16 read: “Although I hope to come to you soon, I am writing you these instructions so that, if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.” Here he tells him not only that he writes him in order to teach the church how its members ought to behave themselves in the church, but he also tells him what the church is. He tells him and us that the church is the God’s household, God’s own family. At the same time the church is the pillar and foundation of the truth. In other words, the church is the place where the truth of God’s word is deeply rooted, upheld and defended. The church, the family of God, the body of believers have the responsibility to uphold the gospel truth together as a family, to make sure that this truth is kept alive and burning in their own hearts as they pass it on to others. This is what Paul meant when he told Timothy to “Fight to good fight, holding on to the faith and a good conscience”. (1:18b-19a) The only fight worth fighting in life is the fight to uphold the gospel truth in our own hearts and in our church family, so that no false teaching may ever finds its way in to corrupt this blessed truth. It is our responsibility as shepherds, as elders, as members of his body, to fight for the gospel truth at any cost so that we may not shipwreck our faith and lose our place in God’s redemptive history.
And Paul did not leave Timothy without clear wisdom on how to fight the good fight to hold on to his faith and a good conscience. He told him in 1:15-17 these immortal words which every member of God’s household should take to heart and never forget lest we too find our faith shipwrecked and our good conscience betrayed. Paul said: “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners— of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.” This was the grace of God to Paul, and Paul never forgot that grace in his life. It was the grace of God that saved him, and nothing else. Paul had been a religious man who obeyed the laws of God. But that did not save him. What saved him was Jesus dying on the cross for his sins. What saved him was the grace of Jesus poured out on a cruel hearted and hateful human being like himself. Paul really understood the extent of God’s grace in his life. And he fought the good fight to maintain that grace in his own life. He didn’t want anything to mar that grace.
Without the grace of Jesus in our lives we are nothing. Without the grace of Jesus burning in our heart and in our lives, our faith is nothing, and no different from anyone who says “I believe in God, or I believe in nature”. Without the grace of Jesus, remembering the anguish of our Lord who poured his blood for my sins on the cross, we are nothing but self righteous Christians who give the Lord a bad image that drives others away from him rather than into his arms. Without the grace of Jesus humbling us and elating us in his forgiveness, we end up as self-condemning Christians who can do nothing but despair thinking we are washed up. The fight of faith to maintain that grace is crucial in our lives. Like Timothy I must remember the grace of my Lord Jesus and I must maintain it always, otherwise my conscience is easily corrupted and my faith is soon shipwrecked. We all together must fight the good fight to uphold the grace of Jesus in our lives as well as in our church community so that no false teaching may find its way in. It is the best weapon against the devil who likes to attack solitary and individual Christians who stray from the body and soon find themselves shipwrecked.
This second chapter of Timothy continues Paul’s teaching regarding the good fight of faith— that is, the faith to maintain the grace of Jesus in the heart and in the church. Read verses 1-2. “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” Paul urged Timothy to maintain the grace of Jesus at any cost. He urged him to fight the good fight of faith to maintain that grace in his own life and in the lives of all who have received the grace of Jesus in the church. But maintaining the grace of Jesus isn’t so easy. Actually, for those who fight this fight every day, we know that it’s one of the most difficult things in our Christian life to do. What does this mean? It means that when things are going well for us, so many Christians become calloused and proud at heart and forget the grace of Jesus. Then when things are difficult and there is some trouble, the grace of God suddenly becomes very important again. Then soon again when the difficulty is over and peace had returned again, yet again the grace of Jesus is forgotten— and with it all the vows and promises they had made to God in their time of difficulty and need. So, maintaining the grace of Jesus in our lives isn’t easy at all. It is a fight we must be ready to fight all the time. It is a battle worth fighting, because without maintaining the grace of Jesus we lose our communion with God, a communion kept only by the grace God has poured on us in Jesus.
For this reason, Paul urges Timothy to pray. Prayer is also a spiritual fight. No one can fight the fight of faith on his own and win. No one can maintain faith on his own. Likewise, no one can maintain the grace of Jesus on his own. Therefore, Paul teaches the battle of prayer. Prayer is the way to maintain the grace of Jesus. What happens when we do not pray? When we do not pray, we can only remember our troubles and problems. When we do not pray, we are overcome with anxieties which keep us in fear and in doubt. But what happens when we do pray? God always reminds us of Jesus and his grace. God leads us to the grace of Jesus. Then the anxious things in our hearts slowly make way for the peace of God. And then, in the quietness of God’s peace, we can hear what God wants to say to us through his words as he leads us to his will. In God’s wisdom then, Paul first of all encouraged Timothy to pray, because prayer can truly quiet any and all of the devil’s mischief in the heart and the church.
Read verses 1-3. “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior” Paul not only encouraged Pastor Timothy to pray as of first importance, but he also helped him to encourage a prayer life among his congregation. Paul also wanted the congregation to know how to pray and what to pray about. What seems remarkable is this as well: Paul did not teach Timothy to pray about the problems which had overcome the church— not about the controversies which had divided many hearts and led many astray from the true faith. Rather Paul first taught Timothy as well as the members of the church how to pray. He taught him that prayer must be intercessory and full of gratitude. What are intercessory prayers? Intercessory prayers are prayers of intervention on the behalf of others. In other words, Paul taught Timothy and the Christians in Ephesus to consider others’ needs above their own. How beautiful this is! We always think we should pray for our needs first. But the Bible teaches us differently. It teaches us that we must sacrifice our own needs to the needs of others. It is commendable to pray for your own needs. But it is divine to pray for the needs of others. When a Christian and his or her church put aside their own needs in order to pray for the needs of others— this is pleasing to God— because God is himself a sacrificial God who sacrificed his own needs to save us from our sins. Paul taught Timothy to pray with intercession. Today, we must make it a point to intercede for others in our prayers, remembering to make intercession a part of our daily prayer life. More than that, Paul also taught Timothy to pray with thanksgiving. It’s commendable to pray with expectation— in other words to expect God to fulfill your prayer topic. But it is divine when you pray with thanksgiving— because thanksgiving is an expression of faith that you have already received what you have asked for in prayer.
Paul also taught Timothy what to pray about. Paul encouraged him to pray for everyone, for kings and for all those who are in positions of authority. Usually we pray for ourselves the most, and then occasionally we pray for those whom we love. This is true! The selfish and self-centeredness of the human nature compels us to pray first for ourselves and then for others, even if others are the most beloved people in our lives. But think about this! Paul really wanted to solve the urgent problems plaguing the Ephesian church. Yet, he urged timothy to pray for everyone, those whom he knew and those whom he did not know— even for kings and for those who are in authority. Why did he do that? He wanted to teach him the scope of prayer— To challenge him and the church to broaden the scope of their prayer to include the whole world. Paul believed in world mission. He believed in God’s desire to save the whole world. He believed that God wills that every one of his children have a heart for world mission, and to participate in it. So Paul urged Timothy to pray with world mission on his heart and mind. When our prayers go beyond the self and those whom we love, our prayers take on the divine character of God’s heart for the world. When we pray for the world, God is pleased— and surely he takes care of the needs we entrusted to him when we denied ourselves personal prayer and prayed for the needs of others. Today we must also make it a point to pray for those in authority in our nation and around the world, so that the right environment may be available for the gospel to be reach all nations.
Read verses 1-4. “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” It is clear that God wants all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of truth. With man this is impossible. But as the Bible assures us, with God all things are possible. They are possible if we believe in the power of prayer and pray that all people receive salvation and come to the knowledge of truth. So what did Paul teach Timothy here? He taught him that prayer is depending on God! But he also taught him that prayer is utilizing God’s power to bring salvation to all who believe. God really wants everyone to receive salvation. That is why he sent his Son to give his life that all might believe and have life. But God will not force anyone to believe. Yet God has given us prayer that we might pray that those who do not believe may come to the knowledge of the truth, believe and receive the gift of life through his Son Jesus. Prayer is the power that God has entrusted to his children and to the church family. Prayer is the power of God which leads men to truth and guides them salvation. We must believe it without question and use it as a gift for the glory of God.
Here’s a question: What is the knowledge of truth to which God and the church testify? Read verses 5-6. “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men— the testimony given in its proper time.” There is no truth superior to this truth! It is the truth that the Son of God, Jesus, came to this world to sacrifice his life for our sins. Jesus gave his life as a ransom for our sins. In that way, he provided a way of salvation for all who believe. This is the truth of God which the devil has fought for generations to keep people in darkness from. This grace of God is God’s most beautiful testimony that he loves people and has made a way for all people to receive salvation. The problem is that the church in Ephesus had somehow been misled by the devil’s lies. It had been poisoned to believe that Jesus’ grace is not enough, that in order to please God and secure salvation a person needs to make an effort to obey laws and follow traditions. But Paul testifies to the truth that God’s grace is enough. It is this knowledge of truth, that the grace of God is enough which can heal hearts damaged by the devil’s lies. Sometimes we too are lied to, especially if we are vulnerable because we have sinned. We are lied to that God’s grace is good but not good enough to forgive someone like me. But that is a lie. God’s grace is always enough. I must always hold on to this truth, and fight the good fight of faith in prayer to make this truth the foundation of my faith. When I hold on to this truth, I can overcome everything, especially the fears and doubts that corrupt my heart and mind and set my faith to being shipwrecked.
Read verse 7. “And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle— I am telling the truth, I am not lying— and a teacher of the true faith to the Gentiles.” For this purpose! What purpose? What he has been talking about? The purpose of bringing the truth of God about the Lord Jesus to the whole world. He was a testimony to God’s grace and truth through Jesus. For this purpose, then, Paul tells Timothy and us that he was appointed as “A herald and an apostle— and a teacher of the true faith to the Gentiles”. Interestingly, Paul was not appointed because of his holy or sinless past. Instead, he was appointed because it was the testimony of God’s grace and truth upon his life. Likewise, everyone who has been touched by the same grace of Jesus is a testimony to the world about the grace of God. Not only Paul, but anyone who has tasted the grace of God is himself or herself a testimony of God’s grace. Therefore, everyone who has tasted the grace of Jesus has been, together with Paul and Timothy, appointed to this most holy office. No one is exempt from this. Everyone who knows the grace of Jesus can be a teacher of the true faith to the whole world. May God help each of you to accept God’s appointment as Paul accepted it and as Timothy also received it.
Finally, Paul urged the church at Ephesus to make the grace of Jesus their priority. He urged them to defend this truth at any cost. In order to do so, they must devote themselves to prayer. Read verse 8. “I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing.” As long as there are false teachers and self-seekers in the church, there will be controversy and such things that trouble the church and hinder the work of God. But Paul wanted Timothy to attack the problems with prayer. So once again he urged Timothy to teach the Christian men to pray. In other words, they should pray instead of arguing with each other. They need to pray instead of getting angry with each other. Paul really understood man’s character. Men in particular prefer to fight in a human way rather than to fight in a spiritual way. But in the church there should be no room for fighting on the human level. All fights must be guided towards the spiritual warfare— beginning with prayer and ending with prayer.
On the other hand, Paul also had some direction for women. Read verses 9-15. “I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God. A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. But women will be saved through childbearing— if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.” There has been so much controversy regarding these verses, and they have divided churches, which is exactly what Paul wrote this letter to Timothy not to do. So I will tell you, that this is not about theology. It is about prayer and worship. Women in the church have always been vital in the life of the church. Women teachers have always been vital in the church. Women leaders have always been vital to the church. But as much as women can give life to a church and build up a church, a family, a home and a husband, a woman can also be the death of a church, a family, a home, and a husband.
Here in this chapter it is about worship and prayer. It is about spiritual conduct and submission not necessarily to man but to the Lord Jesus and his authority. While men must submit to the Lord and pray rather than argue and dispute, what must women do? Woman must also submit to the Lord and pray. They must come to church in order to worship God with a pure heart and a good conscience. They must not be concerned about their physical appearance. That does not mean that they must let themselves become disheveled. But it does mean that they must be more concerned about their inner appearance and spiritual wellbeing. Women are the backbone and adornment of the church. If women are too concerned with their outward appearance, they can corrupt the whole church and lead many astray with their conduct and uncouth behavior. Or if women insist on imposing their own ideas and opinions, they can run a church aground. Women in the church are the coworkers to their husbands and they are the bridesmaids of the Lord. If they are worldly at heart and are corrupted by the world; if their motives are impure; if their hearts are not rooted in the grace of Jesus, they can destroy the work of God and lead the men astray by their ignorance. Paul wanted to Timothy the influence of women in the church. Women are absolutely most influential. They can influence in a godly way and they can influence in an ungodly way. For this reason Paul devoted several verses in teaching women how to be a blessing rather than a hindrance to the work of God in a church community.
In conclusion, if a church is to fulfill its purpose in reaching the world with the gospel, it must be First rooted in the truth of God— that is, firmly planted in the gospel and founded on the grace of Jesus. Second, It must also testify to the grace of God and fight the good fight to keep the testimony pure. Third, also if a church is to fulfill its purpose, it must be made up of men and women who know the grace of God, and who pray faithfully for God’s work to be fulfilled— that is, the work of salvation. That church not only fulfills its purpose but it also pleases God. May God find pleasure in our church community when we stand firm on the gospel truth and fight the good fight of faith to remain in Jesus’ grace and then pray together and men and women of God who know this grace personally and collectively as a church. Amen.