Why 1 Timothy?
This week we begin a new sermon series in the book of 1 Timothy. The epistle is one of those written by Paul to his spiritual son, Timothy, towards the end of his life and ministry . Written after the book of Acts finishes while Paul was on what was probably his fourth missionary journey (not documented in Acts), it is written to Timothy overseeing a church that Paul had not been to in at least 8 years: the church in Ephesus.
Paul has a concern for all the churches he was used to initiate and cared for (2 Corinthians 11:28), and his young colleagues, such as Timothy & Titus, were vital in enabling those churches to stay true to Jesus. Paul throughout his ministry was concerned about false doctrine, false understanding of Jesus as well as dealing with Gnosticism, Judaizers (who wanted to force gentile believers to follow all the Jewish law) as well as a forced and false asceticism.
As mentioned, Timothy was mentored by Paul, who sees himself as Timothy's father in the faith (1 Tim. 1:2). He had first met Timothy at Lystra (Acts 16:1-5) and was clearly impressed by this young man so took him along on his missionary journey as part of the team he and Silas were leading. Mission teams are not a new thing!
This epistle is principally about how a church should work. Paul teaches his young protege, who by the way feels very inadequate for the role, how to lead the churches entrusted to his care. This teaching covers a range of matters from affirming Timothy's call to leadership to identifying potential disasters in ministry, from the importance of prayers being offered for governmental leaders to the place of men and women in church (more on that when we get to the passage in 1 Timothy 2), qualifications for leadership, care of others, false teaching and the dangers around money.
For a short epistle it covers a lot of ground, and is principally about how we should be church together. Timothy as the Apostle's representative, a junior apostle if you like, had significant responsibilities and we get to peek in at what the great apostle taught him.
So, as we start this journey, its worth reading through all 6 chapters of 1 Timothy as preparation. Further, do be praying for those of us preaching this series as well as for all who hear that we may hear God's voice to us at this time.
There is a final thing. The last 6 months have been trying times for so many of us. Although we have not been able to meet together as one in the church building we remain God's people, we have remained as His church. Research by Barna in America shows that despite initial enthusiasm about a third of all committed Christians have drifted away from joining an online service in this period. Of course the worship in our homes and elsewhere has been the church being church - but we also need one another. This series is aimed at reminding us what actually being church means for each one of us, whether we meet in person to worship or not. And will hopefully encourage us all in what it is to be the people of God.