Timothy 1 and Titus
Paul’s letters to Timothy (1 & 2) and Titus are known as his Pastoral Letters, not because they are from a pastor, but because they are written to someone who is shepherding members of Christ’s church. These two letters are together in this post because they have much in common:
They are not theological treatises but circumstantial letters, meaning they were written to address a specific circumstance that needed to be addressed, namely false teachers that had infiltrated the group of believers: in Timothy’s case, the group in Ephesus; in Titus’ case, the group in Crete.
They are written to encourage the recipients to identify false teachers within their midst, call them out to their gathered believers, and ensure that whoever leads believers in their absence are beyond reproach in character, behavior and understanding of the gospel.
These “churches” are not buildings as we have them today; they are mostly gatherings in the homes of believers.
Some would attempt to make pieces of what Paul says into Church Doctrine. However, to do so would be in direct conflict with the entirely of Paul’s epistles, which state clearly and repeatedly we are not to add to Christ’s gospel, nor return ourselves to an enslaved state of manmade laws.
“But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. For some men, straying from these things, have turned aside to fruitless discussion, wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions.” (1 Timothy 1:5-7)
“Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct: in love, in faith, in purity.” (1 Timothy 4:12)
Paul reminds Timothy (and Titus, in his letter) that the gospel is about love – pure and simple. Any discussion about law, even though some laws may be good, is unproductive, meaningless and divisive.
“Whoever teaches false doctrine and doesn’t agree with the accurate words of our Lord Jesus Christ and godly teachings is a conceited person. He shows that he doesn’t understand anything.
“They are sick with a love for arguing and fighting about words. And that brings jealousy, quarrels, insults, and evil mistrust. They are always making trouble, because they are people whose thinking has been confused. They have lost their understanding of the truth. They think that devotion to God is a way to get rich. Devotion to God is, in fact, a way for people to be very rich, but only if it makes them satisfied with what they have.” (1 Timothy 6:3-6)
“O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called “knowledge”— which some have professed and thus gone astray from the faith.” (1 Timothy 6:17-21)
“But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and strife and disputes about the Law, for they are unprofitable and worthless.” (Titus 3:9)
“Warn a quarrelsome person once or twice, but then be done with him. It’s obvious that such a person is out of line, rebellious against God. By persisting in divisiveness he cuts himself off.” (Titus 3:10-11 MSG)
“…even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus. It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.” 1 Timothy 1:13-15
“Tell them not to speak evil of anyone but to live in peace with others. They should be gentle and polite to everyone.In the past we were foolish too. We did not obey, we were wrong, and we were slaves to the many things our bodies wanted and enjoyed. We lived doing evil and being jealous. People hated us and we hated each other.
“But then the kindness and love of God our Savior was made known. He saved us because of his mercy, not because of any good things we did. He saved us through the washing that made us new people. He saved us by making us new through the Holy Spirit. God poured out to us that Holy Spirit fully through Jesus Christ our Savior.” (Titus 3:2-6)
In saving us, Christ made us new – no longer quarrelsome, envious, hateful, or slaves to Law. But we must embrace our new identities in him. We have a daily choice – to walk with him or away from him, to be arrogant or humble, to be loving or hateful, to be content or envious, to grant mercy or be accusatory, to trust the words of Jesus or the words of those who distort his message.