Thoughts on the First Epistle to Timothy

The House of God

N. Anderson.

1 Timothy.

Chapter 1. Deposit. The glad tidings of the Glory.
Chapter 2. Dependence Sympathy with the Testimony.
Chapter 3. Deportment Godliness (Piety) complimentary and responsive to the truth of  "God manifest in flesh."
Chapter 4. Doctrine. The Word of God — of the Faith. Good teaching.
Chapter 5. Dependability Of the servant of God.
Chapter 6. Durability Of the servant of God.

The exhortations of the 2nd Epistle ensue because of Deviation from the Doctrinal and Moral path of the 1st Epistle.

1 Tim. 1.

The epistle was written by the apostle Paul to Timothy, "My true child in faith." The inference being that the untrue was active in the profession of the faith. Responsible ministry and living are in view, hence "apostle … by commandment of God our Saviour." These words "commandment" and "Saviour" are not at first sight apposite words, yet solemn responsibility to which saving grace introduces, and for which saving grace empowers, is everywhere in this epistle laid upon the servants of God — whether Timothy (an apostolic delegate), or bishops and deacons, or all saints — in every department of life.

Two expressions demand notice: "God our Saviour" and "Christ Jesus our hope." The business of all saints is to set forth the disposition of God. The aspect of saints, in testimony, as forming the House of God is world wide. No racial or national bounds can be entertained here — God is a Saviour God, hence all the world comes into view, and His servants are to be in accord with His own mind and heart, thus the standard, "the glad tidings of the glory of the blessed God."

God saves in view of another world which is in full accord with Himself, so Christ Jesus is "our hope." God's salvation will enable us to live and to serve to His pleasure, in the present course of things, with the certain knowledge that we are not destined to stay here for ever. We are to live, as saved, in view of the day when Christ will bring us with Himself into that world where everything is according to God. That world where, as in 1 Tim. 6, Christ will be shown by God as His appointed centre for the universe. Then Christ shall show to the universe the greatness of God. Assuredly all shall then be in concert with the will of God. The light of that coming, glorious day exerts its powerful and morally transforming influence now, leading to purity of life, soundness of doctrine, and faithfulness of testimony.

There is emphasis on that which is good — twenty-one times is the word used in the epistle — and purity, and soundness. It is obvious that evil was rearing its ugly head even in the day of Timothy, and note, he was serving at Ephesus. Can we wonder at the background condition of things at Ephesus when our Lord later said of those there, "I have against thee, that thou hast left thy first love."

According to the second epistle there was an emphasis on "a form of piety" without "the power" — no inner reality. Strange doctrines were appearing. The law was being enjoined upon the saints, but the great standard which tests all doctrinal pretence is "the glad tidings of the glory of the blessed God."

The grace of God our Saviour has been clearly delineated in the saving of such a man as Paul had been, "chief" of sinners. What setting forth of longsuffering grace and mercy for all those Gentiles, ourselves included, who have been brought into blessing. What a demonstration of the mercy of God to those rebel Jews — "those about to believe on Him to life eternal."

A solemn charge was laid upon Timothy to bring the regulating truth of God to bear upon all for practical salvation. There is tremendous opposition. The supine condition of our day is as much an indication of Satanic opposition as were the fires of persecution in other days. It is essential that every servant — and we are all, even if in varying degrees, servants of God — should maintain faith (the whole body of Christian truth) and a good conscience (fruit of personal obedience to the truth) in every-day practice. If there is failure in this we shall surely fail as to the "faith once delivered to the saints."

1 Tim. 2.

In this chapter we are exhorted to be in sympathy with the disposition of God our Saviour. We are to pray for "all men." the bearing of our Saviour God is towards all men. He would have all men to be saved and come to the full knowledge of the truth. We are to pray for rulers and all in authority as recognising their power to help or hinder us in the pursuit of godly living. God's house would be called "an house of prayer for all people" (Isaiah 56:7), and here the saints are urged to bear a character of prayer in keeping with this, as being themselves the house of God.

God Himself, has clearly demonstrated His desire for the salvation of all in that Christ has given His life a ransom for all. He has died, the testimony has now to be maintained, God is one — the Mediator between God and men one — the Man Christ Jesus. This proves the utter worthlessness of all men, for only Christ can bring men to God, and all need so to be brought. The Mediator is great enough to put His hand upon the throne of God. In taking Manhood and going into death He stooped low enough to put His hand upon the sinner that He might bring such righteously to God.

The men are to pray everywhere and with moral fitness, with holy hands; without wrath (do we pray at our brethren?) and without reasoning. Let us have implicit confidence in god — let us walk holily with our God — let us care for one another as being together in the testimony of God — then shall our prayers be effectual. The women too must bear a demeanour in character with their profession of godliness. Theirs is the subject learner's place, for two reasons; 1) Adam was first formed. 2) The woman was deceived. Nonetheless, she is the subject of special mercy in the time of travail and can expect deliverance as continuing in faith and love and holiness with discretion.

1 Tim. 3.

The House of God is the place of order and care. That which is spiritual — having to do with souls — is the special province of the bishops. The deacon service has more to do with the temporal. The wives of the deacons are mentioned as needing discretion. It would never do for the deacons to have wives who could keep nothing to themselves. There is scope for progress in the service of the deacons as is exemplified in both Stephen and Philip (see Acts 7, 8).

We all need to know how to conduct ourselves in the House of God, which is the Assembly of the living God, the pillar and base of the truth. The pillar is for witness, the base is for stability. Saints have a twofold responsibility as forming the House of God, they must bear witness to it and support it. Order is necessarily maintained there. First, for the pleasure of God who dwells there, and also in testimony to those outside the House of God. God, who dwells in the House makes Himself known through those who form the House. We are always in the House of God — because the Assembly is the House of God — hence we are always responsible to represent God. This we do, not merely by preaching, but by our ways, by our appearance. Moral power is ever the attendant of obedience to the truth of God. Without a doubt the mystery of piety is great. This mystery is known to the initiates — the revelation of God in Christ, unintelligible to the natural man, is the enjoyed portion of those who believe. They have the key of knowledge. The deposit in the House of God is that galaxy of revelation which came out in our Lord Jesus Christ, He who was "manifested in flesh".

How glorious indeed is the fact of the incarnation, and as we follow that beautiful pathway of moral perfection as portrayed before us by the Holy Spirit in the Gospels, we are reminded that we are contemplating  "God manifested in flesh." Not a manifestation of God, but "God manifested …"

"Justified in the Spirit."

As to what meets the eye it would seem that the mystery of piety had utterly failed — indeed the natural eye could not perceive its perfection. Was He not put to death in the flesh? Had man seen any beauty that he should desire Him? Nay. Nevertheless the mystery of piety has been vindicated. The Spirit has justified God for manifesting Himself as He has done by putting His seal upon all that has accrued from this fact of the incarnation. Has He not formed that unique vessel the Assembly of the living God? The House of God has been formed so that every feature of the truth related to the fact that "God was manifest in flesh" might be treasured up and held forth in living testimony.

"Seen of angels"

Those holy beings for the first time beheld their God. They had erstwhile hid their faces in His august presence. Not even they could gaze upon God as in the form of God, but now they gazed upon Him in the bondman's form.

"Preached unto the Gentiles"

This unique manifestation was too great to be the property of any one nation. As thus manifested in flesh He would become available for all men, as it is written, "All flesh shall see the salvation of God."

"Believed on in the world"

The triumph of the grace of God is witnessed in this. In the very world where ungodliness is rampant the charm of the kindness of this downcoming of God has laid hold of souls. They have believed the testimony and are saved.

"Received up into glory"

The only fit terminus for such a life as that lived here by the Lord Jesus Christ, was the glory. The world crowned Him with a crown of thorns and transfixed Him on a cross "they crucified Him." The glory received Him!

In this remarkable declaration of the mystery of piety we have a sixfold description:

"God was manifest in flesh."

"Justified in the Spirit."

"Preached unto the Gentiles."

"Believed on in the world."

"Received up into glory."

Why not seven details thus giving us divine perfection? Perhaps the seventh feature is in verse 15, "the House of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth." This vessel of testimony has been formed in this world in relation to Christ in glory and is the repository of the precious truth of the full revelation of God.

1 Tim. 4.

The precious substance of "the faith" having been delineated for us in the preceding chapter how solemn is the warning of the fourth chapter. It is encouraging to note that though the forces of hell are aligned against the testimony of God, the House of God is the sphere of the speaking of the Holy Spirit. He warns as to the evil of the "latter times" (note in 2 Timothy 3, "the last days," and in 1 John 2, "the last hour"). There was instruction given in the first days of Christianity which forewarned for "the last days." "To be forewarned is to be forearmed." The evil is subtle — seduction, deceiving spirits, the hoary character of the prince of demons is obvious here. He entered Eden as a deceiver, and now his minions are active in a teaching which emanates from the pit — speaking lies. So there is no change in the character of satanic opposition! Little wonder that he is designated in Revelation 12, "that old serpent … which deceiveth the whole world …" True to his old deceptive character he masquerades as though presenting something superior to God's appointing. "Hath God said?" he ever pretends to have something better than God. Here asceticism is urged upon the profession. Abstinence from marriage — as if it were unholy; and from meats — as though Christianity was a carnal religion! The preservative for believers in the use of God's mercies is ever the application and honouring of the Word of God in sanctifying power and dependent prayer. To put the brethren in mind of these things the servant would be "a good servant of Christ Jesus, nourished up in the words of faith and good doctrine …"

1 Tim. 5 to 1 Tim. 6:2.

This chapter gives general exhortation; elder and younger brothers; elder women and younger; widows who are widows indeed and younger widows. Then, too, we have a word to servants. Believers are to be regulated in every sphere of life by the truth of godliness — that practical character of acting at all times with respect for the honour of God.

1 Tim. 6.

Teaches the value of godliness with contentment. Warns too, of the snare of the will to be rich (verse 9). The uncertainty of riches (verse 17). The certainty of the giving of God, proved by those who trust Him absolutely. The man of God must Flee — Follow — Fight — Lay Hold On what is really life, and take up the divine charge with his eye on Christ who witnessed the good confession.

The servant must go on serving — there is no respite, no relaxation. There is no armistice in the conflict of good and evil "until the appearing (the bright outshining) of our Lord Jesus Christ." God will show Him forth in glorious answer to His good confession here. The knowledge of this affords encouragement for the Lord's servant now. In the presence of the mounting forces of evil opposition how blessed to know that the triumph of God is sure. How encouraging to know that faith will be vindicated in the world-to-come, and that every bit of service will be rightly assessed and recompensed.

The rich are not to trust in their riches — uncertainty marks the material — it is after all only temporal. Let them act as stewards for God. Let them do good with that with which God has entrusted them and let them "Lay hold of what is really life."

Let us all go on. Let us guard tenaciously that which has been committed to our trust. We shall be supported by present grace in the assurance of future glory.