God our Savior and Christ Jesus commanded me to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, who gives us hope.
2 Timothy, because of our faith, you are like a son to me. I pray that God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ will be kind and merciful to you. May they bless you with peace!
Warning against False
3When I was leaving for Macedonia, I asked you to stay on in Ephesus and warn certain people there to stop spreading their false teachings. 4You needed to warn them to stop wasting their time on senseless stories and endless lists of ancestors. Such things only cause arguments. They don't help anyone to do God's work that can only be done by faith.
5You must teach people to have genuine love, as well as a good conscience and true faith. 6There are some who have given up these for nothing but empty talk. 7They want to be teachers of the Law of Moses. But they don't know what they are talking about, even though they think they do.
8We know the Law is good, if it is used in the right way. 9We also understand it wasn't given to control people who please God, but to control lawbreakers, criminals, godless people, and sinners. It is for wicked and evil people, and for murderers, who would even kill their own parents. 10The Law was written for people who are sexual perverts or who live as homosexuals or are kidnappers or liars or won't tell the truth in court. It is for anything else that opposes the correct teaching 11of the good news the glorious and wonderful God has given me.
The church is the main theme of Paul’s message in 1 Timothy. Through the course of the book he addresses 5 main topics: the message of the church (1:1-20), the membership of the church (2:1-15), the management of the church (3:1-13), the minister of the church (3:14-16, 4:1-16), and the ministrations of the church (5:1-25, 6:1-21).
The church is the visible representation of the Gospel, so Paul is at pains to emphasize how what we say and do as the church either promotes or undermines the person and work of Christ. Maybe this is why he starts the letter by singling out false teachers. For the church is weakened by false teachers because their doctrines promote “arguments” (v.4) and “empty talk” (v.6) in the church, rather than “genuine love,” a “good conscience” and “true faith” (v.5)
“Correct teaching” (v.10) lays the foundation for doing “God’s work … by faith” (v.4). And what is correct teaching? It’s the glorious good news of God (v.11), which is about Christ Jesus and how He “came into the world to save sinners” (v.15).
If the message of the church doesn’t major on Christ Jesus, His mercy to sinners, and believing on Him for eternal life (v.16), then the message being preached is false. And what is false teaching? It’s when the message majors on “senseless stories” (v.4), “endless lists” (v.4), anything that’s contrary to “correct teaching” (v.10), and “stupid talk that sounds smart” (Gnosticism, 6:21).
So how should we deal with false teachers? We must warn them, then ask them “to stop spreading their false teachings” (v.3). Tolerance isn’t an option. The message that “God wants everyone to be saved and to know the whole truth” (2:4) must be paramount. That’s why, for the Gospel to be the primary message of the church, false teachers must be dealt with firmly and decisively. We must have nothing to do with them (4:7) and turn away from them (6:20). For failure to deal with false teachers leads to destabilization, which in turn can lead to the death of the church.
Lord, thank you for the church and it’s message, the magnificent Gospel, that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” Thank you too for every true teacher who teaches the Gospel. In the name of Jesus. Amen.