(this transcript has been lightly edited for readability)
In 1 and 2 Timothy, Paul is writing personal instructions to young Pastor Timothy. These two letters have such a mentoring feel to them. This older man in the faith, counseling this younger man in the faith, and they’re very sweet as a result. You can see Paul's love for Timothy and his desire for Timothy in the church, to get it right.
And so, because Paul is writing to a pastor, 1 and 2 Timothy is the gospel in the church. The location of the gospel in Timothy is the church; it's the gospel for the church, the gospel in the church, the gospel because of the church. And that's really the whole focus of these two letters.
And again, the call of Paul is to a uniquely Christ-centered godliness in the church. Again, even as Paul discusses the church, it’s the centrality of Jesus. Listen to this, “Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness. He (Christ) was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.” There it is, Christ, the hope of the church.
I would title 1 Timothy, “Order in the Church.” This letter is meant to help Timothy to understand to how the church is meant to operate. And, you really have seven topics that Paul ticks through. First of all, how does a church deal with false teachers? How do you conduct worship? What are the qualifications for elders and deacons? How do you train to be godly in doctrine and in life? How do you care for and honor widows? How do you deal with conflict and quarrels and controversy? What does it look like to pursue the riches of Christ and not the riches of this world?
I mean, think about it, what church doesn't need that list? Let me go through it again, dealing with false teaching; we’re always dealing with a new generation of false teaching. What does godly Christ-centered worship look like? What should it do and what should it not do? How does one become qualified for leadership in Christ’s church? How do you train for godliness, not just theologically, but practically in your life? Who are the needy ones for whom we need to care, and what does it look like to care for them? How do you deal with conflict; conflict arises in the church, quarrels, controversies? What does it look like to treasure the riches of godliness in a world that treasures physical, material riches? And then he says to Timothy, “You be rich in good works; you guard what has been entrusted to you.”
I am so thankful for the message of 1 Timothy. I'm so thankful that God just didn't call us to be His church, but through Paul to Timothy, gave us a specificity of instructions on what life in the church is to look like, what the church is to be. There's not one of these topics that Paul writes to Timothy that is, today, out of date. This list seems incredibly current, incredibly timely; that is the riches of the Word of God. It has a really long shelf life! And if you’re a member of the church, you read this list, and you know your church needs this and so does mine.