November 1, 2011

Wednesday after the Nineteenth Sunday after Trinity

Lectionary

Morning - Ps. 94, 1 Kings 22:13-28, 1Timothy 1:1-11
Evening - Ps. 113, 114, Job 38:19-30, Mt. 17:14

Commentary
1Timothy 1:1-11

This morning's reading begins the First Epistle of Paul to Timothy. As Paul wrote this letter he was in Macedonia, having been released from house arrest in Rome. Timothy was in Ephesus overseeing the Church in that city and the surrounding area, especially the ministers, some of whom had begun to teach things contrary to the Gospel (1:3-4, 7). Their attempts to teach the law, whether by intention or merely ignorance, had led some of the ministers into error. So Timothy's task is to charge them to teach no other doctrine but the Gospel (1:3 & 4). The "commandment" of verse 5 is not the Old Testament law. It is the charge Timothy is to give to the ministers. The end (goal) of this charge is love from a pure heart and good conscience. This means it is real Christian charity, not phony or of mixed motives. A good conscience means to be able to say or do something without their consciences convicting them. The Christian minister should be able to say, without his conscience convicting him otherwise, that he loves God and His Church. Not just "The Church" but his own congregation and every member of it. The same is true of every member of the congregation. All should be able to say they love each other. A minister who loves his church will preach the truth to them. He will lead them into the means of grace and the life of Godliness. A congregation that loves its minister will gladly receive his ministry to them and will ensure that they are present for his sermons and other ministries (1 Thess. 5:12 & 13). If someone is unable to say he is doing this, without his conscience convicting him otherwise, it is his duty to change his own attitude and heart.

The Ephesian ministers attempting to teach the Old Testament law do not understand what they are saying. Their teaching does not lead people to Christ; it binds them with burdens. So Paul gives some instruction about the law. Obviously Timothy already knew this, and Paul probably put it in the letter so the ministers could see it and know that the things Timothy was saying were from Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment (authority and decree) of God (1:1). The point of these verses is that the law of God was not given for theologians to debate and discuss how far a person can walk on the Sabbath. It was given to direct people into the way of God and to show us the things we ought to be doing. In this sense, it is for the disobedient and ungodly (1:9 & 10). It is for those who are doing anything that is contrary to sound doctrine in accordance with the Gospel, which was committed to Paul by God (1:11). To such people the law is a warning that they are not living according to the will of God. Thus the law gives sinners (all have sinned, Rom. 3:23) an opportunity to repent and seek God's forgiveness in Christ. The point of the law is to lead us to Christ.

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