Author: Ron Graham
Verse by verse study of Paul's first letter to Timothy. In this lesson we examine chapter 1 verses 1-11, looking at God’s provisions for our minds.
At the start of his first letter to Timothy, Paul uses the expression "the provision1 of God" (1Timothy 1:4). God helps people live the Christian life by providing the training.
1Greek oikonomia variously translated “administration”, “stewardship”, “provision”, “training”, “edification”.
The churches and individuals ought to be trained, edified, and governed "by faith" which God provides —as Paul elsewhere says, "Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17). Note how Paul uses different terms to refer to this one faith...
It was a very serious matter indeed that certain preachers had digressed from this teaching provided by God, and were preaching a religion of their own invention.
Timothy's task was to promote the provision of God, the truth he had learned, and to refute the junk that false teachers were peddling. This is the main concern underlying Paul's letter. The church was being destabilised by false teaching. Note Paul’s characterisation of this teaching (1Timothy 1:4)...
Paul repeatedly refers to the false doctrines of his day as "fables" (1Timothy 1:4, 1Timothy 4:7, 2Timothy 4:4, Titus 1:14). We must follow the gospel, not "cunningly devised fables" to borrow a phrase from Peter (2Peter 1:16). The gospel is the testimony of eye witnesses and persons divinely inspired. False teaching comes from people who just make stuff up and tell fairy stories. Both Jews and Greeks of Paul and Timothy’s time were fond of fables, myths, dreams, and legends. Whilst they have their place, they are not the stuff of which true religion and the path to eternal life is made. God, provides us with a true record of things that really did take place.
Paul mentions genealogies, the exact nature of which is not clear (1Timothy 1:4, Titus 3:9). However the principle is plain. A genealogy is a series of generations of life from an ancestor to a descendant.
A genealogy lends dignity and credence to what otherwise might seem unfounded. The longer the genealogy, the better, because the difference in each generation is so minute as to become acceptable. If I said, for example, that a fish turned into a man, people would think I was daft. But if I said that, over millions and millions of years, through a gradual succession of minute changes and mutations, a fish turned into a man, then people would think I was scientific. Somehow the endless genealogy makes my belief respectable.
This is another description used repeatedly by Paul to characterise the false teachings that were being propogated (1Timothy 1:4, 1Timothy 6:4,). Paul considers these arguments and speculations to be "foolish and ignorant" 2Timothy 2:23, Titus 3:9).
Speculating and coming up with new ideas is not the way to find eternal life. There's too much at stake, to be seeking eternal life by speculation and philosophical debate. We need to know the facts now. That's why God gives us the straight truth —the gospel not gobbledegook. So we should not "stray from these things and turn aside to fruitless discussion" (1Timothy 1:6.)
Paul characterises the false teachers as "not understanding what they are talking about" (1Timothy 1:7). It is surprising how confidently false teachers and their followers make assertions about things which they so little understand. We shouldn't let their confidence blind us to their ignorance.