Dear Timothy – 1 Timothy 1:1-2

1 Timothy 1:1-2
Higgins Lake Baptist Church
Kevin Pierpont, Pastor-Teacher
7/27/03

A pastor was invited to have dinner with a family in his church. While waiting for the meal to be served he asked the young son what they would be having to eat. The boy informed the pastor they would be having goat.

"Are you sure?" the pastor asked.

"Yes, I’m sure. I heard Dad say to mom, ‘let’s have the old goat for dinner today."

Unlike the man who referred to his pastor as an old goat, Scripture refers to the pastor as a shepherd. We begin a new study this morning in the book of 1 Timothy and one of the topics, among others, that we’ll be talking about is the pastor. The book of 1 Timothy is one of three pastoral epistles that Paul penned. The other two are 2 Timothy and Titus. As we study the book of 1 Timothy in the weeks ahead we’ll discover a variety of topics. The theme that runs throughout this epistle though is how to manage the local church. It will be a helpful study to us here at Higgins Lake Baptist Church as we seek to be Biblical in the way we serve in God’s Church.

While preparing for this message, I came across a covenant that was written by Dr. Hayes Wicker when he was called to Pastor the First Baptist Church of Naples, Florida. Charles Colson reprinted this in his book, "The Body," which has been revised and updated and is available in our church library by the title “Being the Body”. The covenant written by Dr. Wicker has many wonderful points but there was one in particular that stood out to me as I prepared for our study of 1 Timothy. Listen to this…

“6. All matters should be subjected to the Scriptures. (The issue is truth not tradition or convenience.)” (Drafted by Dr. Wicker and reprinted with his permission. The Body, Charles W. Colson, 1992, Word Publishing, pp. 423-425)

That sums up very well what should be the aim of every Bible believing church. Everything we do here at Higgins Lake Baptist Church should be subject to the Scriptures. It may be a tradition to do something a given way but if it doesn’t line up with the truth of God’s Word, we better be willing to throw out our tradition. There may be times when it’s more convenient to do something one way but if it isn’t in line with God’s Word, we’d better stick to the truth of Scripture no matter how inconvenient it is. God’s Word must always be the final authority in our lives as believers and in our lives as the body of Christ assembled together here as a local church in Higgins Lake.

God’s Word never changes but our situations change. Our traditions may change, but God’s Word does not. Society may change and even some churches may change how they operate. And there is nothing wrong with change as long as the change is in line with God’s Word. God’s standards for managing the church are found in His Word and we must be sure we are in agreement with Scripture. It is vital that we are always examining what we do here in light of God’s Word. That is why a study of 1 Timothy will be helpful to us as a church. We’ll be covering a variety of topics in 1Timothy that will be an encouragement to us as we seek to glorify God in all we do here as a Church.

As we begin our study of 1 Timothy this morning look with me at chapter 1 verses 1 and 2.

1 Timothy 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the commandment of God our Savior and the Lord Jesus Christ, our hope, 2 To Timothy, a true son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Author

These two verses are the salutation or greeting in Paul’s letter to Timothy. The author of the epistle, Paul identifies himself at the very start. That was the custom at the time. The writer of a letter would identify himself at the start unlike our custom of signing our name to a letter at the end. Notice how Paul identifies himself. He states that he is “an apostle of Jesus Christ.”

Why would Paul identify himself as an apostle? He’s writing this to Timothy who knew Paul well and already understood that Paul was an apostle. By identifying himself as an apostle, Paul is establishing his authority for what he is going to write in his letter to Timothy. Although the letter was written to Timothy, it was also intended to be read aloud to the church at Ephesus where Timothy was serving and of course it is now part of the New Testament and has been read across the centuries and all over the world.

By identifying himself as an apostle, Paul is establishing his authority for what he is about to write in his letter to Timothy. Paul is directing this letter to Timothy who was in the church of Ephesus at the time. And by understanding the situation at Ephesus a little better, we’ll see why it was important that Paul establish his authority as an apostle in this epistle.

Let’s look at Acts 20, brifly for some helpful information on the church at Ephesus. Look first at verse 17 of Acts 20.

Acts 20:17 From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called for the elders of the church.

The “he” in this verse refers to Paul. In the verses that follow Paul is addressing the elders from the church at Ephesus. Now move down to verses 29 and 30.

Acts 20:29 "For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock.

v30 "Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves.

Paul understood that the church at Ephesus would face fierce attack. There would be false teachers in Ephesus. Note the background information on Ephesus from Wiersbe’s commentary on 1 Timothy…

“The city was devoted to the worship of Diana, the patroness of the sexual instinct. Her lascivious images helped promote sexual immorality of all kinds.” (The Bible Exposition Commentary; Warren Wiersbe, p. 210)

Paul understood the situation at Ephesus and so he asserts his apostolic authority in writing to Timothy.
Now it’s clear to me that Paul is the author of 1 Timothy, but there have been scholars who have disputed his authorship of the epistle. To me it’s quite clear from the first verse where Paul identifies himself as an apostle of Jesus Christ and as the author of the letter, that he is the one who wrote it. Conservative scholars have defended his authorship in great detail and my point today is not to get into the lengthy debates that are available, but suffice it to say that it’s clear at first glance that Paul is the author of this epistle and conservative Biblical scholars have strongly defended this. If we can attack Paul’s authorship and Paul’s authority then we can choose to ignore his message as well. Perhaps you’ve heard statements before like, “Paul was a male chauvinist.” Statements like that are usually followed up with a non-acceptance of his teachings on the roles of men and women in the church and home.

What I think is vital for us to understand as we begin our study of 1 Timothy is that it was written by Paul and written with the authority that he carried as an apostle of Jesus Christ. There are those who want to attack his authority and not accept some of the positions Paul took that may not be so popular in our modern culture. Yet, Paul made it clear that he was the author of this book and he asserts his authority as an apostle of Jesus Christ. We would do well to take his words seriously and not dismiss them as irrelevant to us today but as Scripture that is to be understood and adhered to in our conduct as believers in the body of Christ.

Another key to our understanding 1 Timothy as we study it in the weeks ahead is found in the second part of verse 1. Paul tells us that he is an apostle of Jesus Christ.

by the commandment of God our Savior and the Lord Jesus Christ, our hope,

Paul was not a self appointed apostle. He was appointed by the Lord Jesus Christ. When we try to minimize the teachings of Paul because they don’t fit in with our modern notions of how things should be, we are minimizing the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ in His church and in our lives as believers.

We must be careful not to take Scripture lightly or to twist it to suit our desires. As we study 1 Timothy keep in mind that it was written by the apostle Paul. Apostles were appointed by the Lord Jesus Christ. To try and blame Paul for passages we don’t care for is to deny the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Let’s make it our aim at Higgins Lake Baptist Church to test and approve all that we do by the standard of God’s Word. There will be times when we won’t like what God’s Word calls us to do. There will be times when it won’t be convenient to adhere to God’s Word, but may it never be said of us as a Church, that we “compromised the Word of God.”

We’ve noted the authorship of the epistle of 1 Timothy. Now let’s look at the direct recipient of Paul’s epistle. Look at the first part of verse 2.

The Recipient

2 To Timothy, a true son in the faith:

The first mention of Timothy in the New Testament is found in Acts 16:1-5.

Acts 16:1 Then he came to Derbe and Lystra. And behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a certain Jewish woman who believed, but his father was Greek.

2 He was well spoken of by the brethren who were at Lystra and Iconium.

3 Paul wanted to have him go on with him. And he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in that region, for they all knew that his father was Greek.

4 And as they went through the cities, they delivered to them the decrees to keep, which were determined by the apostles and elders at Jerusalem.

5 So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and increased in number daily.

Timothy’s mother was a Jewish believer but his father was a Greek. Note his good reputation and that Paul wanted Timothy to minister with him. Timothy was part of Paul’s ministry whereby churches were strengthened and growing.

We see that Paul refers to Timothy as his “true son in the faith.” Paul had led Timothy to Christ and Timothy was very dear to him. Timothy was a spiritual son to Paul. Timothy was a dear and trusted friend of the apostle Paul. We see this reflected in Philippians 2:19-20.

19 But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, that I also may be encouraged when I know your state.

20 For I have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state.

Timothy was a like-minded friend or as the NASB puts it, a “kindred spirit” of Paul’s. He was a one of a kind person. He sincerely cared about those he served and wasn’t in ministry for his own personal gain. Paul considered this kindred, caring spirit his “true son in the faith.” They shared a special bond in Jesus Christ. As we think about Paul’s relationship to Timothy, I wonder if there are people in our lives that we would consider our spiritual sons or daughters? If you are a mature believer, are you leading others to Christ and investing in their lives like Paul did with Timothy? Can you think of others that you have impacted for Christ the way Paul did with Timothy?

Maybe you’ve been the recipient of the kind of spiritual nurturing that Timothy received from Paul. Many of us can think of those who led us to Christ or nurtured us along the way as we grew in our faith. As we grow and mature in our walk with the Lord we can have the privilege of leading others to Christ and being a spiritual parent to them. Hopefully there are people in your life that you think of as a spiritual son or daughter. We are a part of a wonderful family in the body of Christ and we have a tremendous privilege to nurture relationships with others in the family.

Timothy’s name in Greek actually means, “honoring God,” and it seems that he lived up to his name very well from what Paul writes of him in Scripture. Do you have a Timothy in your life? Someone that you’ve led to Christ or are discipling? The Timothy in your life could be a friend, one of your children or even your parent. My father was saved as a young man while serving in the navy. Shortly after that he witnessed to His father. My grandfather admitted that? he was saved at the age of 12. But he had never really matured in his walk with Christ. As my Dad matured in his walk with Christ and prepared himself for pastoral ministry, he actually had the privilege of discipling my Grandfather in his walk with the Lord. My grandfather even went on to become a pastor himself after the discipleship he received from his son.

The point is that there will be opportunities for you to invest yourself in the lives of others like Paul did in the life of Timothy. What a thrill to think of the impact we can have on the lives of others.

We’ve noted the author of 1 Timothy. We’ve also noted the recipient of the epistle of 1 Timothy. Now let’s examine the greetings Paul sent to Timothy in the latter part of 1 Timothy 1:2.

The Greetings

Grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.

Can you think of a better desire for the lives of those you love as Paul loved Timothy?

Stop and think for a minute about that first word grace. A.W. Tozer said it well when talking about grace.

“Grace is the good pleasure of God that inclines him to bestow benefits upon the undeserving. Its use to us sinful men is to save us and make us sit together in heavenly places to demonstrate to the ages the exceeding riches of God’s kindness to us in Christ Jesus.” [i]

Where would we be without the grace of God? We were wretched, unlovely sinners before God extended His grace to us through His Son Jesus Christ. Paul understood very well the grace of God. He desires grace for Timothy. He also desires mercy. Listen to what J. Vernon McGee said about mercy and grace.

“When you and I come to God, we don’t want justice, for we would be condemned. What we want and need from God is mercy. And God has provided mercy for all His creatures. He has all the mercy that you need. Yet His mercy is just like money in the bank which will do you no good unless you write a check, and the check you need to write is the check of faith. God is rich in mercy, but when He saves you, He saves you by His grace. God is merciful to you, and He is merciful to all sinners in the world, even those who blaspheme Him and repudiate Him and turn their back on Him. He sends rain on the just and the unjust – He doesn’t play favorites, even with His own people. Sinners today get rich and they prosper. They often seem to do better than God’s own people. He is merciful to sinners. But when you come to God, you must come by faith – write the check of faith – and then God will save you by His grace. ” [ii]

A mother once approached Napoleon seeking a pardon for her son. The emperor replied that the young man had committed a certain offense twice and justice demanded death.

“But I don’t ask for justice,” the mother explained. “I plead for mercy.”

“But your son does not deserve mercy,” Napoleon replied.

“Sir,” the woman cried, “it would not be mercy if he deserved it, and mercy is all I ask for.”

“Well, then,” the emperor said, “I will have mercy.” And he spared the woman’s son. [iii]

Aren’t you glad that God has been merciful to us and given us what we didn’t deserve by His saving grace through His dear Son Jesus Christ? Paul knew what it was like to experience grace and mercy. In Acts 7 and 8, we have an account of the stoning of Stephen and we see what kind of man Paul was before he experienced the saving grace and mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ. Before Paul came to Christ he was known as Saul and he was busy persecuting Christians.

Paul, while he was known as Saul was responsible for the death of Stephen. He gave his consent to the stoning. He made turmoil of the church and had men and women thrown into prison. Thankfully the story doesn’t end there! We can read of his wonderful conversion on his way to Damascus in Acts as well. Listen to the dramatic change that took place in Paul’s life after he encountered the Lord Jesus Christ.

Acts 9:20 Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God.

21 Then all who heard were amazed, and said, "Is this not he who destroyed those who called on this name in Jerusalem, and has come here for that purpose, so that he might bring them bound to the chief priests"