Hold Faith and a Good Conscience
Highlights From First Timothy
ABOUT the year 56 C.E., the apostle Paul warned elders of the Ephesus congregation that “oppressive wolves” would rise among them and “speak twisted things to draw away the disciples after themselves.” (Acts 20:29, 30) In a few years, apostate teaching had become so serious that Paul urged Timothy to wage spiritual warfare inside the congregation to preserve its purity and help fellow believers to remain in the faith. That was a major reason why Paul wrote his first letter to Timothy from Macedonia about 61-64 C.E.
Timothy was instructed about an elder’s duties, the God-assigned place of women, qualifications of elders and ministerial servants, and other matters. Such instruction is also beneficial today.
Exhortation to Faith
Paul opened with counsel to hold faith and a good conscience. (1Ti 1:1-20) He encouraged Timothy to remain in Ephesus and “command certain ones not to teach different doctrine.” Paul was grateful for the ministry assigned to him, acknowledging that he had acted in ignorance and with a lack of faith when he persecuted Jesus’ followers. The apostle charged Timothy to go on waging spiritual warfare, “holding faith and a good conscience” and not becoming like those who “experienced shipwreck concerning their faith.”
Counsel on Worship
Next, Paul gave counsel as “a teacher of nations in the matter of faith and truth.” (2:1-15) Prayers were to be offered concerning those in high station so that Christians might live peaceably. It is God’s will that all sorts of men be saved, and a vital teaching is that Christ “gave himself a corresponding ransom for all.” Paul showed that a woman should adorn herself with modesty and must not exercise authority over a man.
The congregation must be well organized. (3:1-16) So Paul set out the qualifications of overseers and ministerial servants. From the things the apostle wrote, Timothy would know how to conduct himself in the congregation, “a pillar and support of the truth.”
Paul gave Timothy personal counsel to help him guard against false teaching. (4:1-16) In later times some would fall away from the faith. But by paying constant attention to himself and to his teaching, Timothy would ‘save himself and those listening to him.’
Timothy also received counsel on dealing with individuals, young and old. (5:1-25) For example, suitable provisions were to be made for older widows with a fine Christian reputation. Rather than gossiping, younger widows should marry and bear children. Older men presiding in a fine way were to be reckoned worthy of double honor.
Godly Devotion With Self-Sufficiency
Counsel on godly devotion ended Paul’s letter. (6:1-21) “Godly devotion along with self-sufficiency” is a means of great gain, but determination to be rich leads to destruction and ruin. Paul urged Timothy to fight the fine fight of the faith and ‘get a firm hold on everlasting life.’ To get a hold on that real life, the wealthy had to “rest their hope, not on uncertain riches, but on God.”
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Saved Through Childbearing: Paul was not discussing salvation to eternal life but a godly woman’s proper role when he wrote: “She will be kept safe through childbearing, provided they continue in faith and love and sanctification along with soundness of mind.” (1 Timothy 2:11-15) Through childbearing, caring for her children, and managing a household, a woman would be “kept safe” from becoming an unoccupied gossiper and meddler in other people’s affairs. (1 Timothy 5:11-15) Her domestic activities would complement her service to Jehovah. Of course, all Christians should guard their conduct and make wise use of their time.—Ephesians 5:15, 16.