If you point these things out to the brothers and sisters, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, nourished on the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed.
1 Timothy 4:6 (NIV)
Read: 1 Timothy 4:1 – 16
Consider: Paul had sent Timothy to Ephesus to deal with a situation where the believers were being led astray. We know from today’s reading that this included forbidding people to marry and ordering them to abstain from certain foods (1 Timothy 4:3). The tone used here would convey that someone (or a group of people) were lording it over the believers and seeking to control what they did and perhaps even what they thought and believed. It is against this backdrop that Paul writes his first letter to Timothy. The letter contains instructions to Timothy to oppose the false teachers (Ch. 1), details of how worship should be organised (Ch. 2) and qualifications for overseers and deacons (Ch. 3). In 1 Timothy 3:14-15 Paul gives his reasons for writing as: Although I hope to come to you soon, I am writing to you with these instructions so that, if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.
Having reminded Timothy of these things, Paul tells him to ‘… point these out to the brothers and sisters …’ (4:6) and in doing so he ‘… will be a good minister of Christ Jesus’ (4:6). We shouldn’t confuse Paul’s use of the word ‘minister’ with the role we see today, particularly in politics where we have government ministers and might even have a Prime Minister. The word used by Paul διάκονος means servant. Paul expects us to compare the characteristics of those who wish to lord it over the believers, with the role of the elders (including the teaching elder). While the false teachers wanted to see themselves as masters and to have power over the believers, Paul wanted to emphasise the role of the elders and pastor as servants. The role of the servant is something that Jesus spoke about and which he himself exemplified (Matthew 20:26-28).
Paul ends this section of his letter to Timothy with the words: Watch your life and doctrine closely (4:16). Why life and doctrine? Paul was concerned that the life of Timothy and the believers at Ephesus would match what they said and believed. Additionally, Paul knew that the believers had to get their doctrine right, if they were to be true to the gospel message they had received from him. Thus doctrine and life were to match and to be lived out in the lives of the believers and also in the life of the church in Ephesus. This is something every denomination and church needs to take account of today – to watch their life and doctrine closely!
Pray: Father, protect us from any false teaching that would cause us to drift away from the gospel message. May we live in accordance with your truth so that the world can see that our doctrine and life match. Amen