Saturday, April 30, 2011

1 Timothy 4:6-16
Being A Good Servant

Here is the lesson for tomorrow in the Koinonia Bible Study Class

Being A Good Servant (6-16)

Teach these things and you will be a good servant of Christ. Some versions say “minister”, but the Greek word is “diakonos”, meaning one who serves. Timothy had the training to do so. (6)

“These things” could mean the things he just wrote about, false teachers forbidding marriage and requiring abstinence from certain foods. Or it could mean every thing he has written. Since, he says “these things” several times, I take it to mean the things he just discussed.

Avoid myths. (7)

Paul used the term “myths” (GR. Mythos) four times in 1-2 Timothy and once it Titus, where he referred to as Jewish myths. We cannot know for sure what is meant here, but the Jews had many extra-biblical writings that attempted to fill in the blanks of the Old Testament. We have various sorts of “Bible Fiction” today. I suggest avoiding all of it. God chose to reveal what he has revealed. It is more than enough for us to work at understanding. Do not let the devil distract you from knowing and understanding God’s word by spending your time speculating on what can not be known.

Instead of following myths, we should train for godliness.

Train for godliness.

What is “godliness”? The Greek word is “eusebeia”. It means piety. It means having reverence for God and doing the things that please God. An example is Cornelius in Acts 10. He is called devout, but it is the same Greek word. He was devout, verse 2 says, because he feared God with all his household, gave alms generously and prayed continually to God.

Physical training has value for only this life. Training for godliness has value in this life and the life to come. This is another of Paul’s “trust worthy sayings”. In verse 10, Paul said they strove and worked for godliness because their hope was on the living God. We live for something that has value in the life to come because we believe God lives in the life to come and we will be there with him. That is the hope of Easter.

How does one train for godliness? Immersion in and obedience to the Word of God.

In verse 10, Paul inserted a description of God, much as he did in Chapter 2, that causes some debate. He described God as: the Savior of all people especially of those who believe. The Universalist says this means all dogs go to heaven. Jesus died and saved all men, whether or not they believe. Of course, if that were true, there would be no weeds or tares, only wheat, and nothing would be gathered up at the harvest and cast into the fire.

Others believe this verse means God wants to save all men, but is thwarted by the will of unbelievers. The problem with that idea is that the verse does not say God wants to be the savior of all men. It says he is the savior of all men.

I think the word “savior” is used here as preserving or caring for. Each person on earth lives each day at God’s mercy. He could take them at any time, impose hardship on them, or subject them to deprivation. Each day that he provides for them is a day he preserves or saves them.

It is even more so for believers, as Paul says in verse 10. He preserves us and provides for us now, but also throughout eternity.

Beginning in 4:11, Paul started firing off short instructions for Timothy to follow in his own life and ministry.

In 11-12, he told Timothy to teach these things Paul has said. But he is also to command them. In other words, he is to demand obedience to Paul’s teaching as Paul’s delegate, his apostolic delegate if you will. Some might try to dismiss Timothy because he was younger, but Paul said not to let them. Instead, Timothy was to set an example in the purity of his speech and conduct, showing love, faith and purity.

It is harder to resist the leadership of one who lives a godly life than one who does not. An older man might resist the leadership of a younger man. But if the younger man shows himself to know the word, live it and teach it soundly, he proves himself worthy to lead.

Paul emphasized the ministry of the Word. Timothy was to devote himself to the Word by reading it publicly, exhorting or preaching and teaching (13). These are things we are to do when the church is assembled. The Word should be read and taught. The congregation should be urged to believe and obey it. This is based on the synagogue model. See Acts 13:13-16, Matthew 4:23, and Luke 4:14-1 for examples.

Justin Martyr gives witness to this custom in this First Apology, written around 150 A. D.

“On the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together in one place, and the memoirs of the apostles and the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has finished, the president speaks, instructing and exhorting the people to imitate these good things.”

In verse 14, Paul reminded Timothy this was his gift. He was not to neglect it. Rather he was to practice them and immerse himself in them. This would make him progress in spiritual maturity and ability and others would recognize his progress and be willing to follow him.

In verse 16, Paul warned Timothy to watch his own life and teaching. If he stayed true, he would save himself and his congregation. Again, I think “save” here means to preserve. He and this church would continue to exist and grow in maturity if Timothy stayed true to his calling and to the Word.
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