I Timothy 1 Part 2

New King James Version 5. Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith,

The Resultant Version 5. Now the consummation of the charge is love out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of a faith that is without acting.

While the result of fables and endless genealogies might be disputes and debates, the desired end of God’s charge to us is far different. Instead of debating over myths or disputing over fables, He wants His charges to us to result in love displayed in our lives. The Greek language is much more specific in naming different kinds of love than we are in English. We speak of “loving” our children, parents, and siblings; “loving” our spouses; “loving” God; “loving” pizza; or “loving” sports. It is obvious that different kinds of love are meant, but we do not specify just what kind of love we mean in each case. Yet the Greeks had different words for different kinds of love. In this case, the word is agape, which is the very highest, God-type of love, a love that sacrifices itself for the one loved. Such a love, we must admit, is a far different outcome than debates and disputes!

This love that should be the expected end of obedience to God’s charges to us should flow out of three things. First of all, it should come from a pure heart. Our idea of a “heart” is of the seat of emotions, as in when we say, “I love you with all my heart.” Yet in the Hebrew mindset, the heart was not just the seat of emotions, but it was a person’s innermost being. “The real you deep down inside” would be a closer, English expression to what is meant by the “heart.” Therefore, your innermost thoughts are also in your heart, as are your innermost opinions, your innermost value judgments, and your innermost emotions and desires. It is the easiest thing in the world, as is demonstrated by many around us, to have a dishonest heart, or a corrupted heart. When people are basically out to live only for themselves, when they will practice whatever deception is necessary to promote themselves and achieve their desires, when their sinful ways are of great importance to them in spite of their professed faith in God, then their hearts are not pure. Yet God’s goal for His people is not that they be like this, but that their hearts be purified. He wants us to really love others in our hearts, so that when we tell others we want what is best for them, we really mean it, and when we display Godly actions and attitudes, they truly come from our innermost beings. It is a great thing to be able to display a Godly life that truly flows from a Godly heart without any deception. This is what God really desires His charge to us to lead to.

Then, this love needs to flow out of a good conscience. A good conscience, of course, is one that does not condemn us for the things we have done and are doing. How can one expect to self-sacrificingly  love another when his consciences tells him that he has sinned against and wronged that person for his own benefit? We need to work to clear our consciences so that we can be free to love truly. That may mean seeking forgiveness and restitution for past wrongs we have done. It certainly means not continuing the kinds of behaviors that lead to a guilty conscience. The Lord certainly wants His children to have a conscience that is good.

Then the expected end of the charge is to produce love from a faith that is without acting or sincere. When one acts something one is only pretending it, and so acted faith is pretended faith. There are plenty of people who pretend faith, thinking that God will be fooled and they will get away with it.

I remember when I was growing up there was a young man in my youth group, maybe seventeen years of age. I remember him one day in the youth group mocking the lesson, mocking the youth pastor, and ultimately mocking God and the Bible (I believe, though certainly the lesson was not the best representative of God and His truth. Yet I realized that in his mind he was mocking all these things.) I knew that he had recently started to live with his girlfriend, more evidence of a lifestyle of rejecting God and His ways. Yet I was shocked to learn that that very week he brought that girlfriend to that same pastor in order for him to talk to her, hoping that she would hear the gospel and be saved! I wondered how a young man whom I watched mocking God one minute could be concerned for his shack-up girlfriend’s salvation the next? It was only looking back on it later that I realized that this young man believed that he was getting away with it. Yes, he was mocking God, yes, he was turning his back on Him and His ways, yet he believed that because he had prayed a prayer and claimed to be sincere once, he was getting away with it, and would ultimately be saved. Therefore, he wanted his girlfriend to hear about this great deal so that she could pray the prayer, not so she would start going God’s way and living a worthy lifestyle, but so that she could get away with it as well. Certainly this young man was an example of one who had only a pretended faith, and not a real faith at all.

There are many in our day who pretend belief in Christ. In their defense, many of them are only believing what they are told, for foolish preachers and evangelists who know little of God and His ways convince them that if they just pray a certain prayer, then they qualify in God’s sight as believers. Yet to be a true believer, one must really believe the record God gave of His Son, not just say a canned prayer that someone else told you to say. Those who truly believe in Christ will not quickly turn around and speak poorly of Him. Those who truly believe one day will not quickly turn from Him to abandon themselves to a sinful lifestyle the next. Those who truly believe one day will not be convinced in five minutes by some godless college professor that the gospel was not true after all. Those who truly have a genuine, sincerely, unfeigned faith really, REALLY believe it. They really do. And their lifestyles will reflect that belief, and their agape love will reflect that belief. This is the end of the charge, not someone like the arrogant and sinful young man in my high school youth group.

New King James Version 6. from which some, having strayed, have turned aside to idle talk,

The Resultant Version 6. From which some, having swerved, have turned aside unto vain prating;

Some, unfortunately, do not show forth the kind of character in verse 5 that is the expected end of God’s charge to us. Instead, they have swerved from God’s way and strayed into a way they should not have gone. From love, they have turned aside to idle talk or vain prating. The idea here is of empty and pointless talk, like the babbling of a child. While it is tempting to apply this to the “tongues of religious ecstasy” as practiced by many in modern churches, which literally involve empty pseudo-talk like that of a child, yet I do not believe that this is what is ultimately meant. What Paul is referring to here is the kind of talk he listed in verse 4 and that he is about to list in verse 7: talk about fables, talk about endless genealogies, and teachings about the law that are based on error and misunderstanding rather than on truth. Talk about these things is just childish babble that leads to no good results, especially when compared to the true charge of God that leads to real results like self-sacrificing love, a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere and unfeigned faith. Real talk about God’s real truth and actual ways is beneficial, but the empty talk of false teachers is not.

New King James Version 7. desiring to be teachers of the law, understanding neither what they say nor the things which they affirm.

The Resultant Version 7. They desire to be teachers of the law, but they have no understanding of what they say nor concerning what they affirm.

These false teachers whom Timothy is to instruct better are desiring to be teachers of the law. This in itself is not a bad thing, as Paul will express in the very next verse. Yet the problem is that these would-be law teachers do not really understand the law themselves. As we would put it, they have no idea what they are talking about, and no understanding of the things they are affirming about the law.

Now if these self-styled law teachers were typical to most whom we read about the apostles opposing in Bible times, they were teaching that Jews outside the land were to still attempt to keep the law that God gave to Israel to keep in the land. They came up with ways to keep this law and that law, trying in all this to be pleasing to God. Yet by the time Paul wrote I Timothy, the dispensation of grace had come in and the secret was now true, that all nations were now joint and equal in God’s sight, as Ephesians 3:6 affirms. Philippians 3:2 calls those who attempt to bring others into the covenant of circumcision and law-keeping “outsiders,” “evil workers,” and “mutilators.” The law is no longer the standard of conduct for anyone, Jew or Gentile alike, in the dispensation of grace.

How do we keep from becoming false teachers, as these were whom Paul is condemning? The fact is that we too can sometimes speak and teach about things that we do not understand. The very best way to keep ourselves on track is to stick closely to the word of God. Of course, the word can always be manipulated, as these men were doing with the law. Yet if they also acknowledged Paul’s writings, they would have to admit the Scriptural truth found there which erases the law as being a standard of conduct that is applicable today. This is consistent with the concept of progressive revelation, which says that God’s will for one time might not be His will for another time, and that as truth progresses we should take God’s latest commands as being His latest revelation. We should prioritize His most recent commands over commands He made in times past. This principle would convince us that Paul’s statements about the law are to be obeyed over the statements about the law made in past times in the Old Testament. Only by applying this principle of right division can we keep from teaching as truth for today things that belonged to a prior time and work of God, as these teachers were doing here.

New King James Version 8. But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully,

The Resultant Version 8. But we know that the law is ideal if one uses it in the way it should be used,

Paul wants it to be made plain that he is not speaking against the law. We know, he affirms, that the law is good. Of course it was, for God Himself gave it, and all He does is good. Yet it is only good if a man uses it lawfully. That is, it must be used as God intends it to be used. For Israel in the times when they were in the land and subject to the law, God expected them to obey it. In our day, however, when all nations are equal and Israel is no longer His special nation with His temple and priesthood, no one is expected to keep the law. Indeed, no one can truly keep the law outside the land of Israel. Inside the land it cannot be kept today either, since the temple does not exist and the priesthood is not established.

Many people have the idea that Jews actually do keep the law outside the land. Yet these people show that they do not really understand the law at all. For example, it was an absolute requirement of the law that every Israelite keep the Passover. Numbers 9:13 shows that this requirement was completely non-negotiable.

13. But the man who is clean and is not on a journey, and ceases to keep the Passover, that same person shall be cut off from among his people, because he did not bring the offering of the LORD at its appointed time; that man shall bear his sin.

Yet that the Passover could only be kept one place, as Deuteronomy 16 makes clear.

2. Therefore you shall sacrifice the Passover to the LORD your God, from the flock and the herd, in the place where the LORD chooses to put His name.

6. but at the place where the LORD your God chooses to make His name abide, there you shall sacrifice the Passover at twilight, at the going down of the sun, at the time you came out of Egypt.

The place God chose to place His name and where the Passover must be kept is at the house of the LORD in Jerusalem. II Chronicles 30:1 is one verse that demonstrates the truth of this.

1. And Hezekiah sent to all Israel and Judah, and also wrote letters to Ephraim and Manasseh, that they should come to the house of the LORD at Jerusalem, to keep the Passover to the LORD God of Israel.

Every Israelite who came up to the Passover was supposed to bring a gift of an offering to the LORD as well, as Deuteronomy 16:16-17 makes clear.

16. “Three times a year all your males shall appear before the LORD your God in the place which He chooses: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, at the Feast of Weeks, and at the Feast of Tabernacles; and they shall not appear before the LORD empty-handed. 17. Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD your God which He has given you.

Of course, in order to be able to give a gift of an offering to the LORD, one must have access to a priesthood who are able to receive it. Therefore, the true keeping of the Passover requires a yearly visit to Jerusalem and a working temple and priesthood there. Yet we know that these things do not now exist, nor can they exist without God’s intervention. Only God can truly restore these things, as Psalm 127:1 makes clear.

1. Unless the Lord builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the Lord guards the city, The watchman stays awake in vain.

Many suppose that the Jews, in their rejection of the Lord Jesus as their Messiah, might somehow build a working temple in Jerusalem. Yet this is a dream that is not a reality. If a group of Jews did somehow manage to overcome the obstacle of the Muslim world and rebuild the temple on its site, this would no more make it the house of the LORD than if I built a replica of the temple in my back yard. The Lord Himself must build the house, or else the labor of those who build it is merely in vain.

Therefore the keeping of the law is not possible today. Those who attempt to keep it never actually manage to accomplish this. By the plain statement of the very law itself, any Jews who try to keep the law, since they do not keep the Passover in Jerusalem, are cut off from God’s true Israel. It is not possible to rightly teach the law this way.

Others teach and express the idea that the right way to teach the law is to teach that, while the greater part of the law that they call the “ceremonial” law has passed away, that the part of the law called the “ten commandments” continues and is relevant for all men today. Indeed, there are many who exalt these ten commandments more than almost any other part of the Bible, and make them to be the epitome of God’s teaching about righteousness and morality. Yet if we would truly examine the Bible record of these ten commandments, we would find that the Bible reveals that these were in fact the ten terms of a covenant God made between Himself and His people of Israel. Exodus 34:28 makes this plain.

28. So he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he neither ate bread nor drank water. And He wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments.

Therefore, if the ten commandments were the “words” (or terms) of a covenant (or agreement) that God made with Israel, they cannot be something that was meant for all people at all times and in all cultures. To teach them as the ultimate standard of morality for anyone living today is, then, not using the law lawfully.

Ultimately, the law can be used to teach us the mind, the works, and the ways of God. We can look within the law for guiding principles, and to know the mind of God regarding sticky situations. For example, what if a man were to divorce a woman, and then consider marrying her sister? Would this be acceptable in the mind of God? What if a man’s wife dies, and he finds himself in a similar situation in which he would like to marry her sister? Is this something that would meet with God’s approval? The clearest guidance we have in the Bible about such situations is found in the law.

Yet to use such guidance, we must not pretend we are under these laws, or that we are obeying them when we follow them. We are merely attempting to discover the mind of God through the way He set things up in the law, and use that mind in applying it to our own situations. For example, we could read in the law that what we call “bowl cuts” are prohibited. Yet they are prohibited because of their association with idolatrous worship. Rather than slavishly deciding that bowl cuts are of the devil, we would do better to learn the principle that hair styles (or clothing styles, for that matter) that are associated with false religions should not be accepted or adopted by God’s people, lest they mar their testimony or open themselves up to the practices associated with such things. This is better used as a guiding principle than to pretend we are under the law and must keep it.

So the law is indeed good, but it needs to be used lawfully. That involves using it to learn more about the mind and the ways of God, and to establish principles of behavior that are consistent with His character. However, if it is used to bind these laws upon people as if they were Israelites when in fact they are not, or to pretend that one can keep laws outside the land that cannot be kept anywhere but in the land of Israel with a working temple and priesthood, then it is not being used correctly or lawfully. These laws were only to a certain people living at a certain time and in a certain land. We cannot teach law-keeping today and yet be using the law lawfully. We must teach the law in accordance with God’s current work in grace.

New King James Version 9. knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,

The Resultant Version 9. Knowing this, that law is not laid down for the righteous, but for the lawless and rebellious, the irreverent and sinners, the godless and profane, for patricides, matricides, and homicides,

The fact that people are always looking for some kind of laws from the Bible that they are to obey shows us that they do not know or realize the obvious truth that Paul points out here. The law is not made for a righteous person! For example, there would be no need for a law against murder if no one would ever be willing to commit the act of murder. It is to curtail the actions of people who otherwise would murder another individual that the laws against murder are on the books. Thus, the law against murder is not made for righteous men, but for murderers! If we were all perfectly righteous, if we all truly loved our neighbors as we love ourselves and would treat them accordingly, then there would be very little need for any law at all. So what does that say for those who think that if they could just get the right laws from God, this would somehow make them righteous? Laws do not give righteousness, they only point out unrighteousness when it is present.

Paul goes on to list the kinds of people for whom the law is made. First of all, it is made for the lawless. These are those who would violate these laws if they were not restrained by them, as we discussed in the previous paragraph. Then, they are made for the insubordinate, or those who will not willingly be subordinated or arranged under the authority of others. Then, it is made for the ungodly, or those who are irreverent toward God. It is made for sinners, those who sin and miss the mark of God’s standards. It is made for the unholy, which has to do with those who are impure.

The law is made for the profane. This Greek word bebelois has to do with places that are lawful to tread, as opposed to the set-apart places where one has to be qualified to have access. We might say the law is for the common, the vulgar, the people whose minds and hearts never seem to rise above themselves and their own selfish ways to consider the ways and the will of God.

Finally, the law is made for murders of fathers, murderers of mothers, and for manslayers, or according to legal terminology, “patricides, matricides, and homicides.” As we said above, the very kinds of people who would kill father or mother or other people in general are just the sort of people for whom the law against murder was made.

New King James Version 10. for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine,

The Resultant Version 10. 10. Pimps, homosexuals, kidnappers, liars, those who perjure themselves, and if there is any other thing that is not in harmony with sound teaching.

The list of the kinds of people for whom the law is made continues. First of all, the law is made for fornicators. This word includes all kinds of sexual sin. It has to do with prostituting your body to another’s lust. Yet the exchange may not be literal prostitution for money, but could be for many other things, such as acceptance, or a good time, or comfort, or any other of the things for which people are willing to trade sexual favors. The law, as we know, strictly outlawed all sexual intercourse outside of the boundaries of heterosexual marriage.

Next, the law is made for sodomites, or better for homosexuals, for this practice was strictly forbidden in the law, and there are certainly those who will practice this if there is no law against it. Then, it is made for kidnappers, those who would steal the freedom of another. It is made for liars, those to whom the truth and telling the truth seems to have no value. Then, for perjurers, or those who will lie as readily in court in order to wrongfully condemn or excuse another as they will lie in any other context.

The Lord does not mean this to be an exhaustive list, as he makes clear in this final phrase. If there is any other thing not yet listed that is contrary to sound teaching, the law is made to oppose it. Indeed, the law shows up the truth of ungodly behavior, and those of us who live under grace, not under law, had best keep in mind this truth, lest we get caught up in such ungodly behaviors, and this grim list of condemnable sins becomes in any way true of us.

So the bottom line of this portion is that some were teaching the law as a means of attaining to righteousness. Yet God points out here the obvious fact that the law was not even made for righteous men, but for the kind of men who commit such ungodly acts as are listed here. How can one become righteous through keeping the law, then, this being the case? Surely teaching the pursuit of righteousness through the law is teaching an empty endeavor!

New King James Version 11. according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God which was committed to my trust.

The Resultant Version 11. in harmony with the glorious true message of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.

Sound teaching, unlike the unlawful teaching of those in Ephesus whom Timothy was to oppose, is according to or in harmony with the glorious gospel of the blessed God. The Greek word for “according to” or “in harmony with” is the word kata, which means “down.” Specifically, it means “down along certain lines.” When one goes “down the aisle,” for example, one cannot just go down in any direction, or one might well crash into the seats on each side of the aisle. When one goes down the aisle, one must go down along the lines formed by the aisle. Therefore, Paul is literally saying that true teaching is down along the lines of the glorious gospel. Indeed, true teaching is always in harmony with the truth of God.

This word “gospel” is a word to which many traditional ideas are attached, so we must be certain that we have a clear, Biblical idea of what the word means. The word is the Greek euangelion. Eu means “good,” and angelion means “message.” Yet we must understand that this speaks of a message that is good because it is right or true. If you were to wake up in the middle of the night hearing someone shout, “Fire! Get out!” that would not be good news. Yet if the place you were sleeping really was on fire, that would be the right message, and the one you desperately needed to hear. That is another element that must be present for a message to be a gospel: it must be spoken in view of a need. In this case, one needs to wake up and realize there is a fire in order to get out of the building and escape from it. Finally, a gospel must contain an element of promise. The promise implied in the message “Fire! Get out!” is that, if you do get out of the burning building, you will be saved from death in the fire.

So the gospel Paul speaks of here is the glorious true message of the blessed God. The word “blessed” is a word in English that means little or nothing the way we commonly use it. The Greek word used here is makarios, which has to do with great happiness. The reference here is probably to the fact that God is pleased to present to us the gospel that results in our salvation and relationship with Him.

Paul tells us that this gospel was committed to his trust. Today, we know that the salvation-bringing message of God is authorized to the nations, as Acts 28:28 informs us. Yet before Paul spoke the words of that verse, from Acts 13 to 28 he Paul was entrusted with the carrying of the gospel to the nations where the Jews dwelt who had not yet heard of it. The word “was” here indicates that the Greek word for “was committed to…trust,” episteuthen, is in the aorist tense, which indicates something that took place in the past and continued to an indefinite time, perhaps to the present. In this case, though, the commitment of the gospel specifically to Paul ended at Acts 28:28, when the gospel itself was commissioned to all nations. We cannot say that Paul was more entrusted with it after Acts 28:28 than anyone else was. Yet certainly all of us who know the gospel have a trust entrusted to us that we must cherish and spread to others as we may.

Yet we cannot be sure that the gospel of salvation is what Paul is referring to here. If he is referring to the right message regarding the secret, the dispensation of grace, and God’s work today, that right message had been entrusted to Paul, and he was currently in the process of setting it forth according to that trust. Whatever this means, we can certainly learn from Paul’s example, and always seek to cling to and set forth as we may any truth that we know and understand as a trust committed to us. If we know the truth, we have a responsibility to it. Let us all take that responsibility seriously!