Last time, we looked at the context of the book of First Timothy. Now let’s get into chapter one.
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus according to the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope, to Timothy, my true child in the faith. Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
Just as I urged you when I went to Macedonia, remain in Ephesus, so that you may instruct certain people not to teach different doctrine, and not to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which promote empty speculations rather than God’s plan which operates by faith. But the goal of our instruction is love that comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.
After Paul’s customary greeting, he immediately launches into the reason for why he left Timothy in Ephesus in verse three: “so that you may instruct certain people not to teach different doctrine.” It’s fitting that Paul begins his letter with the issue of doctrinal purity, for a solid, sound understanding of Scripture is foundational to the life of the church. The false teaching that had begun to lead the Ephesian church astray was more than simply an apologetic hurdle for Paul. It was a deadly cancer that had to be removed if the church was to remain healthy and continue its mission.
If Christians become grounded in the truth of their faith, false teaching is often stopped before it spreads. If we learn what the Bible says and learn to obey it, we’re less prone to deception. Otherwise, we fit Paul’s description in Eph. 4:14 of the immature believer who is “tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of doctrine.”
Of course, it’s become trendy for churches today to equate “humility” with theological timidity. If a church takes a strong stance on an issue, they are viewed as brash, arrogant, aloof, uncompassionate. The sad truth is that it is very easy for churches to become that way. But the fact remains, whether we like it or not, that without the will to fiercely guard sound theology, the church will be crippled, eventually to the point that it can no longer be recognized as an assembly of Christ’s disciples. So it is no wonder that Paul felt it necessary to leave Timothy in Ephesus, in order that Timothy could set things right: to confront the false teaching, and teach the Ephesians to guard boldly the truth of God’s Word.