1 Timothy Anne O’Brien’s
This study notes provide the core content of a group of bible studies in 1 Timothy & 2 Timothy. While the core message of the study has been captured for you to read, written text can not fully express the sense of anointing upon the discussion of the word or the joy of corporate fellowship. We encourage you to pray before you begin reading that the Lord would open your heart and mind to be receptive and responsive to God’s message contained within this study. There may be times when you find it difficult to reconcile God’s truth to your own opinion or worldview, God’s truth is eternal, it does not change, our understanding of the truth does change as we allow God to work in our hearts and minds.
The First Epistle to Timothy – Introduction
This letter, from Paul to Timothy, is a letter of advice and encouragement to a young man in a very difficult place. Timothy was of mixed parentage. His mother was a Jewess and taught him well (2 Tim 1v5) and his father was a Greek. Timothy was saved under Paul’s ministry and that is why Paul refers to him as, “my own dear son in the faith” (1 Tim 1v2).Timothy had become one of the disciples and accompanied Paul, showing his ability to preach – first at Corinth (1 Cor 4v17) and then at Philippi (Phil 2v20-23).But when Paul wrote this letter to him, Timothy was heading up the work in Ephesus. Ephesus Ephesus was a busy seaport in Asia Minor (now S.W Turkey bordering the Mediterranean) with a population of 35,000 people. One of the major features of this city was that it was guardian of the Temple of Artemis, one of the many Roman gods. As a port, it was a place of mixed cultures, religions, trades and commerce. Sport, sex and magic were also gods of the day. When Paul first arrived with the Christian gospel he “upset the apple cart” – as it were. His preaching resulted in a sharp decline in the magic trade and interest in Artemis. Read Acts 19v1-12; 19v23-27 and 20v1. Many believed on hearing the gospel of Jesus Christ and Paul stayed for nearly 3 years to establish the church there. They should have been well grounded in Scripture, but many were starting up false sects, and someone reliable was required to manage the situation and maintain the truth of the gospel. Timothy was one of the disciples sent to take over the work when Paul left to continue his missionary travels. What a daunting prospect for Timothy. But Paul knew Timothy to be a man of “good conscience” whom he could trust.
1 Timothy chapter 1 Read verses 1&2 Paul saw himself as a captain under God’s command – part of a Christian army. And yet there is nothing regimental about the tone of his letter or the way that he writes to Timothy. Q. How do we see ourselves? ... soldiers; workers; children; friends ... of God? Read verses 3-7 The word “command” is used twice more here. Although Ephesus was a very difficult place (it had taken Paul 2-3 years to establish the church there), young Timothy was not to feel intimidated, but to take command of a difficult situation where there were teachers of false doctrine within the church. Paul warned Timothy about people who want to assert Christian teaching, but who don’t really know what they are talking about (v7). Q. Which word shows us how this command should be given? (v5) Q. How would we feel if asked to sort out a similar problem within our group of Christian friends? Q. Why did Paul think Timothy was equipped for such a task? (see verse 18) 1
Read verses 8-11 The Law is for wicked people, but it is also for anything that doesn’t conform to the sound doctrine of the gospel of Jesus Christ (because Christ is the fulfillment of the Law). Q, What is “conforming to the gospel of Jesus”? A. Doing the right thing as a result of our right relationship with God; as a result of thinking based on faith; actions motivated by love, without hypocrisy and with a pure heart. Acting in accordance with the gospel of Jesus should result in obedience to the Law. Read verses 12-17 The first trustworthy saying: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst (v.15) Here is Paul praising God for the mercy he has received. Even though he had done major wrongs (the worse of sinners – v13&15), God forgave him and was now using him as an example of grace. Paul took no credit himself but gave the glory to God. He says these things to encourage Timothy. Q. A friend of mine is very proud that she has lived a good life. Is this consistent with Paul’s teaching here? Q. How can our testimony, like Paul’s, be an encouragement to others? Read verses 18-20 In verse 19 Paul talks about “faith and a good conscience”. What he means is : not being a hypocrite; practicing what you preach; living according to your beliefs. Sadly, 2 people in the church at Ephesus had failed to do so and the result was dishonouring to God (blasphemy). (Perhaps verse 3 ties in with verse 19.) Hymenaeus and Alexander were “handed over to Satan” – which could have several meanings. It could mean that they were handed over to sickness; or the natural results of their wrong ways; or God’s hand of protection was removed; or all three. Q. What was the purpose of their removal from the fellowship? (See last phrase) The Biblical position is that when a Christian refuses to repent of a wrong, he can be disciplined and removed from the local church – and it follows that he would be vulnerable to attacks from Satan. See 1 Cor 5v5; Matt 18v15-17 But see also Galatians 6v1 Q. Why is it important to maintain the integrity of the gospel?
1 Timothy chapter 2 Chapter 2 is mainly concerned with collective prayer and worship. It appears that the new Christians in Ephesus had difficulty in these areas. Paul’s advice to Timothy makes good guidelines for us. 2
Read verses 1&2 “First of all” – the priority is prayer. The second imperative is that everyone should be included in our prayers. Paul lists 4 kinds of prayers: (I’ve tried to explain the original meaning in the words.) Requests – These prayers are born out of need. They are like our lists of needs and our prayer chain requests. They are like petitions that we ask for over again, and get other people to pray for. They are like the words of a person in trouble who calls out “help me”. Prayers – We can make requests to God or man, but we can only pray to God. There is a deeper connection to the One we are praying to. There’s a greater spiritual dimension. Prayers are about spiritual needs, spiritual strength and forgiveness and healing. Intercessions – Interceding is being in step with God and understanding His will – like walking hand in hand and knowing the right time and the right way to ask things of him – like having a confidential conversation. Thanksgiving – Prayer also means thanking God for who he is and for what he does. This pleases and glorifies God – it also encourages others. Read verses 3-8 Several times in these verses it is stressed that all men and women should be prayed for – the gospel is for everyone. But there is only ONE WAY. The Greeks and Romans had many gods as do many people today. Paul emphasizes that Jesus is the mediator between God and man – we pray to God through Him, and in His Name (v.5). Why? Because Jesus was the only one to be fully God and fully man. It wouldn’t be possible for anyone else to do it. Q. What do the words in verse 8 say to us about how to pray? Do you think that a wrong attitude can stop our prayers being effective? Read the next verses in the context of prayer and worship. Read verses 9-15 Women are to dress in such a way as not to be a diversion to each other and to the men. They are not to be chatting and gossiping in church, or to wear provocative and overly ornamented clothing, hair or jewelry (or even hats!). These new Christians had to learn about modesty and humility. They also had to learn about respect for the Pastor and elders (who were men) and be willing to submit to what they taught about God’s ways. Christians in most denominations today are still having heated debates about this! Paul explained that this was because Adam was formed first. Q. Does God’s order of authority have any relation to the value of men and women and their ability to contribute equally in spiritual matters?
1 Timothy chapter 3 Read verses 1-7 Second trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task.
Instructions to Overseers/Bishops/Pastors/Elders; that is: all those who have spiritual oversight in the church, spiritually mature people who are in charge. Paul writes a list of qualifications for the job: The Pastor should be – Blameless – above reproach, not easy to criticize Only married once – not been divorced or had previous partners Temperate – moderate and sensible in all things Self-controlled – sober, not foolish in nature Respectable – of good behavior, orderly and organized Given to hospitality – loving and welcoming the stranger or needy Able to teach – must know the Bible well and have an aptitude for teaching Not given to drunkenness – a moderate drinker Not violent – or quarrelsome or contentious. Gentle with people Not a lover of money – and not motivated by money Able to manage his family – respected by wife and children, good management A mature Christian – not letting his position go to his head. Portraying a good testimony and reputation with outsiders Read verses 8-13 Instructions to deacons, those who serve in church offices, those who support the minister. Deacon means “servant”. It seems to be a Bible principle that most leaders start as servants and continue the ministry in their leadership. (Think of Joseph, Moses, Gideon, David and of course, Jesus.) Paul writes a list of qualifications for the job of deacon. The first deacons are mentioned in Acts chapter 6 v1-6. The Deacon should be – Respected – a person will not be effective in their job if they are not looked up to Sincere – not “double tongued”, not hypocritical Sensible with drink – an example to others Honest – important because they often deal with money, spiritual stewardship Sound in their beliefs – they must know the Word of God Only be married once – and have a Christian wife Good manager of their household – and all their affairs Able to be “tested” against all of these standards Read verses 14-16 A) The church as God’s household – a family, treating everyone as if they are brothers and sisters, mothers, fathers and children. The most basic needs of a family are a house (a church building), warmth (a loving fellowship) and food (the Word of God). Also important are order and occasionally discipline – but always encouragement. B) The church as an assembly – those called to come together into God’s presence, with leaders and deacons to oversee and carry out the teaching, nurturing, pasturing and admin. C) The church as the Pillar and Foundation of the Truth – the basis and all the supporting work is to be built on Jesus Christ who is the truth. You could say Jesus is the foundation and we are the pillars. The final paragraph was probably recited as a creed and is an expression of the truth of the gospel.
1 Timothy chapter 4 Read verses 1-5 Paul warns of the possibility of false teaching, hypocrisy and going to extremes – all of which are a threat to the church, because these can all come from people within the church who listen to their own reasoning rather than God’s Word. Q. What do you think could be the nature of the teachings in verses 2-3? Often false teachers advocate lower morals, yet the teachers here are encouraging excessively strict morals. Both can be damaging. Q. Why does Paul say a super-spiritual doctrine is a “doctrine of demons” (v.1)? What does this doctrine reject? (See v.4-5) We say, “Jesus Christ sets us free”, so why do we live in a place of bondage? We have a choice. Ultimately we are saved by faith and not by works. Read verses 6-10 Verse 7 says, “Train yourself to be godly”. We need to train to be physically fit – “Use it or lose it” is the well-known saying – and we need to train to be spiritually fit. That is why it is important to read our Bible and pray every day – more important than listening to what others say. If we don’t do this we could be deceiving ourselves, and it could lead to deceiving of others. Third trustworthy saying: We have put our hope in the Living God, who is the Saviour of all men, and especially of those who believe. Q. Why are we sometimes motivated for ‘training in godliness’ and other times we are not? Read verses 11-14 Timothy’s life was to say just as much about the gospel as his words. How he lived would back up what he said (or deny it). Q. In what ways was he to achieve this? (v.12&13) Paul keeps coming back to his theme of a clear conscience and lack of hypocrisy. Q. What would help Timothy to achieve what was expected of him? (v.14) If God has blessed us with a gift, whether spiritual or natural, we should be using it in his service. Read verses 15&16 Paul clearly didn’t see Timothy’s assignment in Ephesus as being a quick fix for the church. The words “be diligent” and “persevere” implied it would be a steady effort over a long time. Paul said people would get saved. Compare Timothy’s ministry with a Christian TV host or a popular short-stay evangelist. God has different ministries for different people, but most of us have to just keep on keeping on. Q. What were Timothy’s resources? He had the Old Testament scriptures, and he had Paul’s letters, and possibly a copy of the gospel. He had Paul as his spiritual father and mentor. He had received a spiritual gift/s when the brothers laid hands on him. And he had all the resources of God. All the things Timothy was told to do in his private life would help him in his public ministry. 5
1 Timothy chapter 5 Chapter 5 relates to the church’s responsibility towards Christians with little, or no, income. Who should be encouraged to work and who should be supported? Read verses 1&2 Regarding the need for Paul to make corrections in the church, Paul says that everything should be done in a manner of love and respect. Read verses 3-16 - WIDOWS This long passage belies the problems that the church must have had. It gives clear guidance on how to look after the widows in the church. If they were not provided for by their late husbands or by their families, then it was the duty of the church leadership and fellowship to make sure they were properly provided for. Q. In the twentieth century who might our “widows” be, and what kind of provision would be in keeping with Paul’s guidance in these verses? Read verses 17-20 – ELDERS Look up Deut.5v4 and Luke 10v7. A man or woman’s reward should be proportional to their toil. Leaders deserve their wages, they should not be expected to be martyrs to their calling. Likewise they should expect to be treated equally with respect and to be rebuked if necessary. Q. Do we often hold one set of standards for our leaders and another for ourselves? Read verses 21-25 – TIMOTHY Leaders shouldn’t be too hasty ... they should look after their health and not over- or underindulge ... both good and bad deeds are found out! 1 Timothy Chapter 6 Read verses 1&2 - SLAVES Slaves from all social strata made up a high percentage of the population and workforce. Paul never attacked the institution of slavery (there were 60,000 worldwide, it could have resulted in chaos and civil war) but he did say they should be treated equally with other men. And in turn they should show respect to others, particularly their masters. There should even be a bond of love between Christian masters and slaves, in Jesus Christ. The Christian can be an ambassador for Christ by the way he acts at work. Read verses 3-10 – THE RICH If there are slaves and workers there are people getting rich off the back of their work. There are also people who try to make financial gain from proclaiming the gospel (those who think godliness is a means to financial gain. v5). But conversely godliness with contentment is great gain (v6). If we do our best, “as unto the Lord”, we can trust God to provide for us; having a spirit of thanks, rather than a spirit of greed. Q. How would you define true contentment? Q. Is it wrong to be rich? Is it a responsibility? 6
Read verses 11-16 “Flee from this” - we might say, get out of the rat race. Paul calls Timothy to replace a dream of a financially secure future with a future where Christ is the motivation for all things. Q. How can we apply these verses to ourselves? Jesus, as described in verses 13-16, is both our challenge and our comfort. Read verses 17-20 Be rich in good deeds, share what you have, for God will richly provide for our needs. Store up for yourselves riches in heaven, for in becoming poorer we become richer. Paul could say these things because he lived them. He both worked when he could, but he also received when he was given to. He commended people (especially women) who out of their abundance provided meeting houses and food for the early Christians. Paul finishes by asking Timothy to guard that which has been entrusted to him. Q. How can we apply this request to ourselves?
2 Timothy chapter 1 We need to bear in mind that when Paul wrote this second letter to Timothy his circumstances had changed significantly (as he was a prisoner in Rome, and probably facing a death sentence). 2 Timothy 4v9-13 explains how Paul would send Tychicus to replace Timothy at Ephesus, so that Timothy could be free to go to Rome to give support to Paul. But more than that, Timothy was expected to take Paul’s place in giving spiritual encouragement to the churches. Paul had run his race – he knew that it was soon time to pass the baton on. Q. What kind of training had Timothy had for this task? Do we see our everyday work as training for the Lord’s work? Read verses 1-7 Q. Which phrase reminds us of the close bond between Paul and Timothy? In these verses Paul encourages Timothy (apparently still timid, despite his experiences in Ephesus) to be courageous and faithful. Here we have some guidelines on the ways in which we can encourage each other: • By showing love/concern/care/understanding • By praying, and telling people that we are praying • By having confidence in people (and only giving them tasks that are appropriate) • By reminding them of their spiritual gift/ministry • By reminding them of their standing in Christ, and not to fear (keeping calm) Read verses 8-12 Q. Paul talks about not being ashamed of the gospel (v. 8&12). What did he mean? Why would we avoid talking about Jesus? - natural timidity, finding ourselves tongue-tied, embarrassment, or fear of suffering in some way perhaps? Christians shouldn’t suffer for doing wrong (because they shouldn’t be doing wrong!) but they can expect to suffer for doing right. Paul
calls this “sharing in Christ’s sufferings” (Phil. 3v10). It’s not something we would want to do – even Jesus struggled with the concept, but suffering was part of God’s plan. Q. What was Paul convinced of that made it possible for him to face suffering? Read verses 13&14 These are the key verses for the book of Timothy and good advice for all of us: • We should base our lives on the sound teaching in Paul’s letters • Faith and love in Christ Jesus must be our motivation • We should guard the “deposit” of Christian truth, stand up for it and pass it on • We should depend on the Holy Spirit, who lives within us Q. How can we define truth unless we have something to measure it against? Read verses 15-18 As we saw in the first letter to Timothy, Christian ministry and leadership can be a very daunting and lonely task. Christian leaders need love and support and prayer from their congregation. Verse 15 is very sad, because it appears that many who followed Paul in the “good old days” had deserted him. Christian ministry is serving one another, but the leaders need to be served and listened to as well as everyone else. They need to know our encouragement and confidence in them too. They don’t need a fan base, but they do need spiritual loyalty. Consequently, Onesimus gets a special mention of commendation from Paul because he went out of his way to help him. Q. In what way can we encourage and support the leaders of our church?
2 Timothy chapter 2
Read verses 1-7 We are told to reflect on this passage (v.7) in which Paul talks about the soldier, the athlete and the farmer. Paul is here simply using images that are familiar to him. He lived in a military state and he was in prison at the time of writing so he could observe the life of a Roman soldier. The Greeks and Romans had vast stadiums where they hosted all types of sporting events. And farming was the occupation of many ordinary individuals of the day. Verses 3-6 contain three qualities that Christians need; allegiance, obedience and hard work. As with any area of life, there can be disappointments, but the rewards make it all worthwhile. Q. What every day image could we use to make the same point? Read verses 8-13 Paul reminds us of the reason for our endurance and suffering in his fourth trustworthy saying: If we died with him we will also live with him; if we endure we will also reign with him If we disown him, he will also disown us If we are faithless he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself. For those who trust in Jesus this must be one of the most encouraging passages in the Bible. We have the promise of eternal life which starts now – living with him – and carries on throughout eternity. And it will be an eternity that is no mere existence, but one where we reign with Christ as Kings and Priests, full of purpose and promise. Only if we openly rebel against Christ and set ourselves against his kingdom will he disown us – in other words we are choosing to be disowned. But he will remain faithful to us, even when our faith is very small or seemingly non-existent (“faithless”). Q. How can this verse encourage those who have friends and family who once walked with Jesus but have left the church?
Read verses 14-18 We are challenged to correctly handle the Word of Truth, as opposed to “godless chatter”. Q. What analogy does Paul use in verse 17 to describe the nature of gossip and untruths? God’s Word should be our tool for building people up, for encouragement and it should be used as a standard for living. It should not be distorted or used for destructive purposes, and we should therefore be wary of false doctrine. Hymenaeus and Philetus, along with some modern thinkers today, taught that the resurrection had already taken place (in a spiritual sense at the time of salvation), thus denying a physical resurrection. But the resurrection is a foundational truth of the Bible – just because we can’t explain it, it doesn’t make it any less true. Read verses 19-26 The foundation of our faith on which we stand is sealed with the words: The Lord knows those who are his. The “seal” is a mark of ownership and security and authority. Paul goes on to talk about the articles (or people) in this house. The house of God is made up of all sorts of people (by God’s grace), some more noble (or honourable) than others – all at different stages in their Christian walk. If we try to keep ourselves pure and honourable God can use us better to do his work. Q. How does Paul suggest we do this? (v.22-24) Our reward is not special honour or privilege – but special service to others, being used by God for “noble purposes” (v.21).
2 Timothy chapter 3 Read verses 1-9 In the Last Days people will be: Lovers of themselves :– fashion; make-up; botox; facelifts; hairdos; teeth whitening; etc. Lovers of money :– ambitious; bankers; credit cards; store cards; Boastful and proud :– cars; kids schools; big house; new furniture; materialistic goals Abusive :– “Big Brother” TV; wife/husband beating; child neglect; racial/religious abuse Disobedient and ungrateful :– children disrespectful of adults; troublesome teenagers Unholy and without love :– Godless; not putting others first; no standards Unforgiving and slanderous :– blame culture; revenge; popular press Without self-control :- influence of drink/drugs; no anger management; “anything goes” culture Brutal; not lovers of good; treacherous; rash; conceited; lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. Q. Do you therefore think THESE ARE THE LAST DAYS? Read verses 10-17 In contrast Paul describes his way of life: purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions and sufferings. In fact, he said that we should all experience these things if we seek to follow a godly life. But we cope because we have the Scriptures which can make us wise to God’s plan and purpose for our lives. And Paul is inferring that we also get help for Christian living by following godly Christian leaders; people who practice what they preach; people who preach true doctrine; and people who glorify God and not themselves.
2 Timothy chapter 4 Read verses 1-5 Once again Paul emphasizes the preaching of the Word to teach, correct and encourage. As the centuries have rolled by there have been innumerable false doctrines, religions, sects and even myths that have deceived and misled people away from the truth. Satan is the author of deception. We keep from being deceived by knowing the Word of God. Read verses 6-8 “I have fought the good fight”; “I have finished the race”; “I have kept the faith”. Paul very likely knew he was about to be executed when he spoke these words but he didn’t think of it as his life being taken, so much as him finishing the race and giving himself to God as a sacrifice (v.6). He did not fear death but looked forward to his crown of righteousness and being in the presence of his Lord. Read verses 9-22 Here was Paul at the end of his life and only Luke was with him (v.11). And he says in verse 16 that at his first trial no-one was with him – he was deserted by all. No-one was brave enough to stand by him for fear of their own life. But the Lord was with him Q. What do you think of this quote from W. Barclay? It is always better to be in danger for a moment and safe for eternity, than to be safe for a moment and jeopardize eternity. Paul finishes his letters with greetings to those who have kept the faith. His first greeting was Grace, as is his last. Why? Because we are only what we are in Christ through God’s grace.