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1 Timothy 1:6 April 17, 2009

Posted by Tim in Life in Christ.
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Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion

I find it curious Paul’s use of ‘certain persons’. It is much more specific than, say, ‘some’. And yet he names no names. I see a double effect to this. One, as this is ultimately a public letter, it singles out people without shaming. As is already clear, Paul is meaning to correct and focus them, not punish or evict them. There is a sharp tenderness to this approach. The other effect is to carry a sense of warning. It is as if he says, “Certain persons, Timothy, have wandered away… don’t you be one of them.” It invites self-reflection, not accusation.

And what has happened? They have wandered into vain discussion. Translation: they are no longer relevant. They have placed their faith in One who cleanses their conscience and purifies their heart – but all for naught. They’d rather debate Numbers.

Paul, a Pharisee, knew the tendency of religious leaders to vainly discuss things. In the end it must have been unbearable, that those with God’s revealed word used it not for transformation but argumentation.

How little we have changed. How vain are our discussions. A sincere faith. A clear conscience. A pure heart. Love. These are universal, fundamental. These things, when true, truly are the opposite of vain: they change the world.

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