Not long after his first Roman imprisonment (Acts 28) Paul wrote this letter to Timothy, a long-time co-laborer of Paul’s. Timothy in Ephesus (1:3) not as the church’s pastor but as Paul’s representative there (cf. 1 Cor 4:17; 16:10; Phil 2:19; 1 Thess 3:2). Timothy’s mission was to deal with wrong teaching that some Ephesian pastors were promoting (sadly fulfilling Acts 20:30) and bring the church into proper order.
Paul first instructs Timothy to rebuke those who mishandled God’s truth and instead gave their attention to fruitless speculations and wrong teaching (vv. 3-11). The standard of right teaching is Christ’s truth (v. 11), who transformed Paul’s life and whom Paul thanks for his grace and mercy (vv. 12-17). Paul thus charges Timothy to keep the faith, learning from the tragic examples of those who have left the faith (vv. 18-20).
Truths to Nail Down and Meditate On
- In Christ’s church only Christ’s truth must be taught (vv. 3-11). There is a right use for all Scripture; those who teach it must not stray from that but correctly and properly handle God’s truth. Scripture is not like clay to twist and shape for personal purposes, it is truth from God to teach righteousness, reveal sin, and point to the Savior.
- The gospel of Jesus Christ saves sinners (vv. 12-16)! Gain encouragement from Paul’s testimony! He hated Jesus, fought against everything Jesus stood for, yet God mercifully showered his abundant grace upon him, turning him from a blasphemer into a believer, from one who hated Christ into one who loved Christ.
- The conscience is a God-given aspect of humanity that evaluates one’s life according to its provided authority. Those who reject the Christian faith thus reject a good conscience, resulting in wrecking their souls on the shoals of unbelief. Keep a good conscience by continuing in the faith!