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1 Timothy 1:3 April 15, 2009

Posted by Tim in Uncategorized.
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As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine,

I have never noticed something about this verse before: Paul is not seeking to remove these mistaken teachers, merely to adjust them, train them up. With that in mind, this verse fits perfectly well at the start of this letter, which is to the young and inexperienced Timothy, who is now out on a limb, leraning how to teach and lead the hard way.

That is not to say that all wrong teachings and leadership were the same. Paul will in short order address two men he has “handed over to Satan”. But here he is speaking of teachers who are swerving into differenct doctrines, and rather than expel or sideline them, he wants them corrected.

I feel a key element here is “certain persons”. Paul – and Timothy – knows these teachers personally. This is less about protecting the doctrine of Christ and the health of the Church as it is about the personal edification of those who have been appointed to teach. Teachers have a natural inclination toward exploring curiousities in their field, both to snag the attention of the audience and for their personal engagement. But Paul warns about that here, and soon will lay down the goal, the measure by which we judge teachers and their doctrine.

Another interesting aspect, related to this, is the indication that Paul already had urged Timothy to act on this matter. Either Timothy had failed to obey, had tried and failed, or maybe had not had a chance to begin and Paul recognized his need for encouragement. The occasion for this letter is the personal encouragement of a leader so that the local Body might benefit. It admits triply upfront, twice here and subtly in “mercy” in vs 2, that Church leadership is frail and prone to mistakes – both lifestyle and in their teaching. Neither automatically disqualifies them. Rather, it qualifies them for encouragement and growth, the provision of God’s mercy and grace.

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