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There are times in life when things are hard, days when we long for heaven or at least a place here that feels a bit more like it. We wish that we could have a fresh start in our daily calling. Following on his opening words of encouragement, hope, and blessing from “God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord” (1 Tim. 1:1–2), Paul addresses the temptation to fail in a present calling by going elsewhere too soon: “As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine” (v. 3).

Paul is lovingly direct to Timothy about the difficult issues and people that he is dealing with. Timothy wants to leave, but Paul challenges him to the opposite: remain and engage in faithful ministry, including ministry to the difficult people. “Remain . . . so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine.” These “certain persons” are teaching contrary to Timothy in the church where he pastors. They are passionate about their opinions, love to instruct others, and are quite capable of going on and on. They are a significant counterforce in the church. Undoubtedly, this means substantial pressures for the young pastor. Ignatius of Antioch (c. 35–107) rephrased Paul’s charge to Timothy this way: “You must not be panic stricken by those who have an air of credibility but who teach heresy. Stand your ground like an anvil under a hammer.”

Paul describes those who are causing trouble and stress—and what Timothy must impress on them. He is to charge them not to teach contrary to biblical doctrine, “nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies” (v. 4). It seems these divisive people were attracted to a mixture of Judaism and Gnosticism. Judaism rejected the gospel, substituting for it a system of works-righteousness through pursuit of rabbinical interpretations of and additions to the moral and ceremonial law. Gnosticism was a religious movement rooted in a Greek philosophy that viewed the material creation as evil and spiritual existence as good. It taught that through secret knowledge and ritual, participants could escape material evil and ascend to a higher plane of existence. Such teaching, Paul reminds Timothy, “promote[s] speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith” (v. 4).

The contrast and task are clear. Timothy has received the stewardship of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Speculations, myths, and endless genealogies are not from God—they are against Him. Timothy must refute these false teachings in and around the church with the rich truth of the gospel in Christ. He must stand firm on the good ground of the Word and continue to faithfully minister to the people around him. Just as for Timothy, these verses challenge us to remain steadfast in serving Christ, being committed through hard times in our callings until He clearly leads us elsewhere.

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From the January 2022 Issue
Jan 2022 Issue