INTRODUCING FIRST TIMOTHY
The Household of God
Sermons from 1 Timothy
1 Timothy 1:1-2
Today we are beginning a sermon series through Paul’s first letter to a young man named Timothy. Each week I’ll stand here and pick up were the text left off last time. We’re going to slow the pace a little for this series. We’ll be in 1 Timothy for about 17 weeks.
If you’re relatively new to LWBC, let me explain how the teaching works here. Sunday morning worship is dedicated to what we call expositional preaching. We preach systematically through the Bible. And we vary the pace. Sometimes we preach through books a chapter a week, sometimes a few verses a week. The word, expositional, speaks to the fact that we’re trying to expose the meaning the original author of the text intended.
So, each week, I don’t come up with an idea that I think I ought to preach. Instead, I begin with the Scriptures. I go to the next text in the book we are in to see what it says. And then I commit to preaching whatever it says as authoritative for us.
Why do we do it that way? I’m glad you asked.
1. Preaching through a Book of the Bible will help you learn to read it for yourself. If you will commit to being here and making the worship gathering each week a priority in your life you will grow in your own ability to read and study and relish God’s Word, that you won’t get if I just jump around from text to text. You need to be a self-feeder. I’m telling you that as a your pastor. You are responsible for your spiritual growth. I am responsible, and this church is responsible to give you tools to help you, not to spoon feed you.
2. The second reason we’re preaching through books is because it gives me great confidence.God’s Word is authoritative, my word isn’t. So expositional preaching says—the authority in this church is with the Word of God.
3. It forces the preacher to preach delicate texts. If you don’t preach through the books of the Bible you can choose to avoid tough passages in the Bible. For instance, this study one of the topics we’ll address is whether or not women are to teach men within the church. You’ll have to come in later weeks when we get there.
4. In preaching these delicate texts, we’re cultivating humility. We don’t stand over the texts as arbiters of what is true. This means that while the Word of God will comfort us, it will also challenge us.
5. It allows the church to systematically hear the whole counsel of God’s Word preached. What Lake Wylie Baptist needs, what I need, what you need is to bring all of the Word of God to bear on our life. We need the totality of this book to weigh on us.
When Lake Wylie Baptist called me to preach in May of 2016, the search team was clear: their conviction was to call a pastor who would preach the Word without compromise.
And it is my conviction to do the same. I pray that you will stay with us for the years to come, as we faithfully open this Word every week, trust what it says, allow it to break us open and build us up and I can’t wait to see what that kind of faithfulness of the course of 30 years brings to our church and our city.
So, let’s begin. First let’s introduce Paul the author and Timothy, the recipient. Look back at verse 1:
1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope,
Who was Paul?
If you’re new to church you’ve probably heard preachers quote people by their first name in the pulpit often.
- Matthew says,
- John says,
- Paul says,
- Peter says,
And, if you’ve visited multiple churches you may even wonder how the same 5 guys end up at every single church. Well, it’s because these are names of some of the authors of the Scriptures.
Paul, was a first century apostle and one of the authors of the New Testament. Most of his letters are written to churches he helped plant, but he also wrote letters to his assistants in his mission to spread the gospel to the entire world. So, go ahead and put on your history cap for a moment and let me give you an over view of his life. By the way the notes for this sermon will be made available online after this service so don’t feel like you have to get this all down. There won’t be an exam at the end of the sermon.
Birth and Early Life:
Born in Tarsus of Cilicia (Acts 9:11) likely in the first decade of the first century. He was a member of the Israelite tribe of Benjamin (Philippians 3:5). His birth name was Saul after the first king over Israel. Paul was his Roman name. So, although he was Jewish by birth Paul was also a Roman citizen; a benefit likely purchased by his parents at the cost of more than a year’s wages.
Training as a Pharisee:
Acts 22:3 tells us that Paul learned Judaism at “the feet of Gamaliel” who was the most influential Rabbi of his day. As a young man Paul viciously persecuted Christians, having them imprisoned and even put to death. In fact, in Acts 9:1 we’re told that he was “breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord.”
Conversion from Judaism to Christianity:
While on his way to persecute Christians in the town of Damascus Paul encountered the risen Christ and became a Christian himself (Acts 9). Immediately, Paul is taken in and cared for by the very Christians he was going to persecute. After spending a few years ministering to various groups, Paul and Barnabas we commission by the church of Antioch as missionaries. Paul would spend the rest of his life planting churches in Asia Minor and Macedonia (modern day Turkey and Greece, respectively).
If you have one of those Bibles with maps in the back, one of those maps will show you Paul’s missionary journeys. Starting from Antioch and Jerusalem, Paul makes successively larger loops through the ancient world. Ultimately his goal is to get the gospel all the way to Spain.
Apostle to the Gentiles and Author of Scripture:
You’ll notice in verse 1that Paul referred to himself as an “apostle”. The Greek word apostolos means, “Sent one.” Someone who is sent with a message. And, in the New Testament, the word almost always refers to someone Jesus hand picked for a ministry. Someone who saw Jesus personally and to whom was given the task of bearing the gospel message. And that’s what Paul did.
Most of the time, when Paul went into a new city to preach he would begin with the Jewish synagogue, explaining that Jesus is the Messiah promised in the Scriptures.
It’s during these missionary journeys that Paul writes: Galatians, 1-2 Thessalonians, 1-2 Corinthians, & Romans.
Roman Imprisonment and Death:
After completing his 3rd missionary journey, Paul causes an uproar in the city of Jerusalem, and Roman authorities imprison Paul and he’s interrogated by several authorities before Paul appeals his case to Caesar (Acts 21).
While Paul is in prison in Rome, he writes four more letters: Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, & Philemon.
The book of Acts was written by Luke who was a travelling companion of Paul’s and Acts ends with Paul under house arrest in Rome waiting for his appeal to Caesar.
It appears that Paul was eventually release from this imprisonment and he began preparing for his fourth missionary journey to Spain, but before heading west, Paul travelled east to finish establishing two of his disciples: Timothy in Ephesus, and Titus in Crete. He writes them each a letter then heads to Spain.
At some point in the trip, Paul is arrested an reimprisoned. He then writes a second letter to Timothy in which Paul expects to be martyred for the faith.
6 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.
Church tradition tells us that Paul was beheaded under the reign of Emperor Nero around A.D. 67. And even though Paul died without earthly dignity, he entered into a heavenly reward.
He was engaged in the same mission in which we are engaged: to get the gospel of Jesus Christ, to the ends of the earth. To preach that gospel to every creature. To make disciples and baptize them and plant churches. And we do all of that so that God will be glorified, so that his name will be known and loved in all the earth.
So, that’s Paul. Who is Timothy? Look at verse 2:
2 To Timothy, my true child in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
A Christian Family
Chronologically, the first mention of Timothy is in Acts 16:1. We’re told that Timothy was the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer. His father was Greek and not a believer. In 1 Timothy 1:5 Paul says:
5 I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.
Then in 3:14 Paul says:
14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
So, Timothy was a native of a town called Lystra. He had a godly mom and a godly grandmother who taught him the Bible. Not everyone is blessed with that kind of family heritage—but Timothy was. Can we thank God for just a moment for that kind of legacy?
And friend, if that’s not your story—if you didn’t grow up learning about the God who made you and has mercy on you from your parents and grandparents—listen—that can be the story of your grandchildren.
On the foundation of that teaching, Timothy was likely converted to Christianity during Paul’s first missionary journey to Lystra. In fact, Paul often refers to Timothy as his child in the ministry.
In 1 Corinthians 4:17 Paul writes:
16 I urge you, then, be imitators of me. 17 That is why I sent you Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ (1 Cor. 4:17)
Disciple of Paul
Paul had trained Timothy in gospel ministry so that even when Paul couldn’t go to Corinth himself, he could send Timothy and trust that it was as good as if he was there himself.
Do you have anyone you can look to and call, “my child in the faith”? You don’t have to be an apostle to do that. You don’t have to teach someone systematic theology to do that.
All you need is to care about those God places in your path. Point them to the Scriptures. Encourage them in the faith. Pray for them and with them.
When Paul was in his first Roman imprisonment, he sent Timothy to Philippi with another letter. Listen to these words:
19 I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be cheered by news of you.20 For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. 21 For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. 22 But you know Timothy’s proven worth, how as a son with a father he has served with me in the gospel. (Philippians 2:20-22)
And now, as Paul prepares for his final missionary journey to Spain, he leaves Titus on the island of Crete, and he leaves Timothy in the city of Ephesus. Look at 1 Timothy 1:3
3 As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine
You’ll remember that Paul spent 3 years of his life helping establish the church in Ephesus. When he departed from that church he stood with the Elders of the church on the shore and wept with them because he loved them so much. And now, as he seeks to establish new churches among unreached peoples, he hands off the baton to Timothy.
A New Generation of Pastors
Paul would write to Timothy one more time. In the letter of 2 Timothy it becomes clear that Paul has been arrested and imprisoned again. Only, this time, he knows he won’t be released. We read those words earlier.
In 2 Timothy, Paul gives this exhortation to Timothy:
I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 5 As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
Paul isn’t complaining about his arrest. He isn’t concerned about his own life. The only thing he cares about is that the church continues to grow and expand into all the world, and he knows the role Timothy must play in that expansion. It’s the same role you and I play. It’s the same role that Lois and Eunice played.
We are called by the risen Christ to teach the nations faith in Christ and obedience to Christ. Until he returns, we are to go!
And how will we do it? What will give us the strength and endurance to accomplish so great a mission?
Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
The end of verse 2. How did Paul transform from bloodthirsty man who murdered Christians into a man who established the church? He received the grace mercy and peace of God the Father and Jesus Christ.
How did Timothy grow into a great missionary and pastor? The grace mercy and peace of God.
The church is built—by pastors and grandmothers, by missionaries and plumbers, by Sunday school teachers and church members—because though we have all sinned and fallen short of God’s glory—yet in Christ we are redeemed, forgiven, and made new.
At the cross, God did not count our sins against us. Instead, the Lord Jesus received our condemnation so that we could be pardoned and cleansed.
Let’s tell that messaged to our children and grandchildren. Let’s preach that message to Lake Wylie and the nations.
Pray with me.