The nature of the messages we are now entering upon, stresses the duties that are founded upon the great doctrines that have gone before. They are addressed to overseers who held conspicuous positions of responsibility in the Churches, so as to set forth their obligations. Timothy was an Overseer in the church at Ephesus, in which city the many- breasted goddess, Diana, was worshipped as the supreme deity. The very conception violated every principle of chastity, modesty and morality and was a libel on sovereign God- head. The Apostle meets this situation by offsetting it with a full declaration of God- likeness as it was demonstrated in the manifestation of Christ, Who is the perfection of divine beauty, purity and sanctity.
The main burden of the instruction is to emphasize the need of expressing in conduct the reality of spiritual conviction. The character that has been molded by good doctrine will result in conduct that is desirable and dignified for those professing Godliness. The truth committed in trust is to be held in all Godliness and lived in lovingkindness. Trafficking in Divine things without triumphing in the transforming power of truth is one of the most lamentable conditions in the Church. Many are prepared to admit that the things taught are true, but they do not appropriate them. Others assent to the doctrines without availing of the benefits and blessings announced. During Christ's own ministry the people wondered at the gracious words which He spake, but did not ask for the deliverance He offered, Luke ch. 4, ver. 18. The evidence of a true confession is seen in character, for "Character" said Moody, "is what a man is in the dark,:" Conduct is the expression of character, By their fruits ye shall know them."
The central fact of responsibility is contained in ch. 3, ver. 15, "That thou mayest know how one oughtest to behave in the house of God, which is the church of the living God and pillar and ground of truth." The function of the Church is to exhibit and express the truth. Therefore it is imperative that the behavior should be becoming. The background of all this is depicted in gorgeous colorings with the mediation of Christ as representing the Saviour, God, constituting the central governing object of the picture. In the light of mediation, God is not presented as inflicting penalty but as inaugurating preservation. The judicial side of His character is superseded by His justifying mercy. The pre- eminent function of the Church is to faithfully declare these facts to the world in private walk and public witness.
When Dr. A T. Schofield of London was visiting Melbourne, a lady who was introduced to him asked very fervently, "Are you the Dr. Schofield that practices, or the Dr. Schofield that preaches?" The answer came like a flash, "Madam, I am the Dr. Schofield that practices, and if the other gentleman does not do so, his religion is not worth two pence." Paul requested Timothy to practice what he preached, "Be thou an example of the believers"
When considering these things, let us not fail to take into account the importance of ch. 2, ver. 5, "For there is one God and one Mediator between God and man, the Man Christ Jesus." Herein lies our sufficiency of support and strength to live the life as God requires it. God's Medium of communication with man is Christ, through Whom salvation and all its blessings and benefits are transmitted. No believer the world over could be trusted with such an office because all are tainted with selfishness, bias and partisanship. No other hand but Christ's is worthy to bear the scepter of such dominion. Satan once held the prerogative and had the right to appear in the presence of God, but he turned from steadfastness and walked to and fro in the earth to find occasions for accusations against the people of God. Job, ch. 1. When Joshua the high priest of Israel entered the presence of God, Satan was at his right hand to resist him, Zech. ch. 3, ver. 1. The adversary on that occasion was severely rebuked, "The Lord said unto Satan, "The Lord rebuke thee, 0 Satan." Zech. ch. 3, ver. 2. Standing in striking contrast to this declaration is the invitation extended to Christ, "The Lord said unto my Lord, 'Sit thou at my right hand'." Ps. 110, ver. 1. The accuser of the brethren has been transplaced by the advocate for the brethren. Dr. Pierson once wrote, "Up until the ascension, Satan was still holding his place at the right hand of God as accuser, in his resisting of saints." Christ Himself plainly stated the circumstances attending the ejection, "Now shall the prince of this world be cast out and I, if I be lifted up, will draw all unto Me." The election of Satan synchronized with the enthronement of Christ. The adversary's displacement gave way to the advocacy of our Lord, so that instead of an enemy to denounce, we have an Emancipator to defend, at the right hand of the Majesty on high. This doctrine is the secret that sustains the minister in the discharge of his duties.
|THE MEDIATION OF CHRIST||THE MISSION OF THE CHURCH||THE MANNERS OF CHRISTIANS|
|Chapter 1||Chapter 3||Chapter 5|
|The Doctrine Defended||The Disposition Demanded||The Deportment Desired|
|The God of Grace||The Man of God||Guided in walk|
|The Gospel of Glory||The House of God||Girded in work|
|The Goal of Goodness||The Word of God||Gentle in witness|
|Chapter 2||Chapter 4||Chapter 6|
|The Duty Defined||The Dangers Disclosed||The Demeanor Described|
|Giving of thanks||The Peril of doubt||Grasp the Treasure|
|Grading the testimony||The Profit of doctrine||Grace the Truth|
|Gaining the triumph||The Pattern of devotion||Guard the Trust|
The word "doctrine" occurs more frequently in this epistle than in any other book in the New Testament, and its use here refers to the body of principles which teach the whole truth that constitutes the Christian faith. The great doctrines of the Church are centered in the Person and prevailing of Christ. On account of His work, a suitable Gospel has been committed as an entrustment, a spiritual worship has been established for the pure in heart, and a sanctified ministry sanctioned for evangelizing mankind.
The body of doctrine - comprises the faith that is spoken of as being 'sound,' that is, wholesome and 'good,' which denotes its character. The whole structure of the teaching is most dignified, free from trivialities, vagaries, falsities and paltrinesses. The subject matter of the doctrine is profound and can be comprehended but never exhausted. The unsullied holiness of God's character as the Father is likewise declared, also the unique honor of the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour and the heavenly nature and mission of the Holy Spirit.
Three passages from the message will suffice to set these facts forth. "Now to the King of the ages, incorruptible, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever, amen. Ch. 1, ver. 17.
"Who was made manifest in flesh, Was declared righteous in spirit, Was made visible unto messengers; Was proclaimed among nations, Was believed on in (the) world, Was taken up in glory."
Ch. 3, ver. 16, Rotherham's translation. "Which in His own time He will show, Who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to Whom be honor and power everlasting. Amen." Ch. 6, vers. 15-16.
(a) The God of Grace. Vers. 1-7.
One of the loftiest purposes of revelation is to beget, in regenerate hearts, a sympathetic perception of the innermost beauty and ineffable glory of the character of God. Paul declares that the aim of 'the commandment is love out of a pure heart and of a good con- science and of love unfeigned.' God is love, therefore nobility, beauty, loyalty, morality, fidelity and purity, yea, all things that are graceful, issue from love. Only by acquaintance with the teaching and acceptance of the truth can the sovereign, heart-uniting love of God be experienced. By this means the life is made wholesome and winsome, forasmuch as a good conscience registers the emotions of a pure heart which, in turn, has its affections set on a glorified Saviour. Faith unfeigned trusts Him Who is the Truth. Faith in God has in it the elements of dependence, confidence, reliance and credence. Faith is actually the window of the soul that admits the sun- shine of His - love, the sufficiency of light and the sustenance of life. The great verities of the Gospel are not intended to, provide material for controversy, but the means to mould the character and constrain good conduct. Twenty-two references to God appear in the six brief chapters of the epistle, and the events recorded prove most definitely that He is a God of abounding grace and abundant mercy.
(b) The Gospel of Glory. Vers. 8-16.
"The Gospel of the glory of the blessed God." The Gospel is the revelation of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. The Evangel consists of the glad tidings of the self-manifestation of the Saviour God, and Christ Himself is the shining apex of the Divine glory. He is the original, central fontal source of the lustrous radiance of Deity. The wondrous story of His life and death is the loftiest exhibition of the Divine character, and this conveys to, mankind the full knowledge of God. The depths of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God are only fathomable in the Cross and Passion of our Saviour. All the energies of saving power are embodied therein. The expanded attributes, equally blended and comprising the sum total of the effulgence, are encased therein. Whatever may be the fringes of flame set forth in other messengers, Christ is the generating blaze of the glory of God. Through Him alone we can see deeply into the Divine nature of blessedness. Our knowledge of the bound- less perfections of God's munificence is derived from His delight in giving. Such a Gospel cannot be tarnished by age or frayed by use. The Church is called to dispatch duty, to carry communiqués to the beleaguered of earth. The good news of pardon, purity and peace is worthy of the God Who issued it, therefore, let us beseech men to welcome and receive the message. Paul was instructing Timothy to so teach the Church that every living member would become a herald to the world. The minister's vocation is to prepare the Church for its function of displaying and declaring the truth to men. The apostle never lost the sense of a most devoted gratitude to God because of his own forgiveness. He experienced what it was to have his life made nobly and blessedly new. Twice he says, "I obtained mercy vers. 13 and 16. He ranks himself as the chief of sinners, not because he was a thief, or gambler, or drunkard, or liar, but in view of his obduracy as a persecutor, in which activity he provoked an God's long-suffering. Every one of us has provoked God in some measure, but Paul claims to have provoked Him to the utmost degree and declares that in view of his salvation, no one need despair. God now sets him forth as a pattern, which implies that if the man who completely provoked His long-suffering to the fullest extent were saved, God can most assuredly save those who but partially provoke His patience. The wonders of the Gospel are nowhere stated so concisely as here. "This is a faithful saying and worthy of ail acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief." Ver. 15. From this time forward Paul's life was adorned with the rare and unexpected fruits of pity, sympathy and sacrificial service,
(c) The Goal of Goodness. Vers. 17-20.
The arresting account of his conversion is followed by an irrepressible burst of praise. What must the character of the One be like Who can wield such transforming power! Paul's heart welled up in thankfulness and overflowed with gratitude at every remembrance of the skill of so capable a Potter. He further impresses the fact that the character of God was glorified by the fruit of His delivering grace. Notice the rare selection he makes of the attributes when describing the infinite One, Who, he says, is arrayed in exquisite majesty, adorned with unwithering beauty and attired with the invisible graces of ineffable perfection. The loftier diadems of radiant honor and resplendent glory are also added to these lustrous features. What a doxology! "Now unto the King of the Ages, incorruptible, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever." Ver, 17. Paul saw the star of universal empire shining and glittering upon the breast of the Author of history and Ancient of days.
"King of the Ages" is the true rendering and is the first of the memorable characteristics he uses when seeking to praise the Moulder and Framer of world history. This sovereign Controller oversees and overrules, and it was He Who overtook Saul on the way to Damascus and ordered him to go to Ananias for his commission, By virtue of the providences of His prescience, He flashes forth the commands of His immutable will to form and frame events for the arrest and emancipation of a soul. "He is the One Who abideth of old," Ps. 55, ver. 19, and Who has been enthroned from the very beginning. His scepter of administration spans the centuries, for in Majesty He is the King of the Ages. As the immortal and incorruptible One He is immune from the in- violable law of decay, which science calls the eremacausis of nature, that process by which all that is effete is constantly being consumed. He has immortal power and absolute moral beauty, a state that is permanent and sympathetic, not passively filed in icy solitude, but actively seeking to save and purify the souls of men.
"King eternal, blessed be His name! So may His children gladly adore Him; When in heaven we join the happy strain, When we cast our bright crowns before Him;
There in His likeness joyful awakening, There we shall see Him, there we shall sing!
Holy, holy, holy is the Lord, Let the hills be joyful before Him." In addition to these qualities He is invisible and therefore indescribably ineffable, so much so that He cannot be approached and comprehended by human senses, for no man by searching can find out God. The nimbus of His name is more notable in its radiance and renown than the combined fame of all other names.
In the next portion of the declaration the word "wise" should be omitted. He is the only God. This statement only enlarges the gulf of disparity between the character of Deity and all other of God's creatures. He remains age-abiding in His distinctive nature and exclusive being, knowing no peer and entirely without comparison. His renown is more remote, His stateliness more superior, His power more perfect. His love more lofty, His calm more complacent and His honor more holy than all else beside. "To whom then will ye liken Me and to whom shall I be equal, saith the Lord." Is. ch. 40, ver. 25.
We may write, over the whole praiseful description, "oh the depths of the goodness of God." His character is more than His comeliness, His authority is more than arrest, His faithfulness is more than forgiveness, His power is more than pardon, His love is more than life, His will is more than work, His throne is more than tenderness. Therefore, Paul does not voice the praise of any experience met with, but reserves his doxology directly and deservedly for the King Himself. Christ, out of the goodness of His heart, had made the bitter persecutor a brilliant preacher, yea, had transformed him into a good man. Therefore, the very goal of life is goodness, although we have relegated the word to the nursery and encouraged our children to sing:-
The fact remains - goodness is supreme. "There is none good, save One," said Christ. Therefore, this message is studded with this most beautiful word which occurs 17 times, and here are some of the usages.
Abundant evidence is provided that like begets like. "God is good and doeth good." Ps. 145, ver. 9; "Christ is good and maketh good," Matt. ch. 6; "The Spirit is good and leadeth into good." Ps. 143, ver. 10. Herein is the good of all goodness and the goodness of all good. Let us take particular notice in this chapter that the grace, mercy and peace which Paul experienced, and which he recommends to Timothy to impress upon the Church, is Grace, Mercy and Peace from the King of the Ages. How this fact dignifies these virtues!
In the second chapter, the function of the Church is to maintain faithfulness in fervent prayer and supplication for all men and monarchs. In approaching the throne of grace let us remember that the character of the One upon the throne is the King of the Ages, mystic, majestic, yet sympathetic. He is the Moulder of men and movements, magnificent in mercy and prepared to act for kings and those in authority as he had acted on behalf of Paul. The Church is granted the option of co-operating with Him in this beneficent activity. God's love lifted power to its loftiest, that in the heights of holiness, supremest mercy and sympathy might characterize the administration. Love is strengthened by almighty power, and power is sustained by infinite love, so that authority in its activities seeks the welfare of humanity. Wherefore, He Who demonstrated God's love and personified it, declared, "All authority is given unto Me in heaven and on earth."
Dr. Alexander Whyte of Edinburgh, tells of a visit he paid to a renowned lawyer named Dr. Carmen, for consultation on a legal matter. The character of Dr. Carmen was such that men feared him. When the business was finished, Dr. Carmen, addressing Dr Whyte in a gruff manner, said, "Have you any word for a great sinner?" Dr. Whyte hastened to the door of the office and looking back upon the solicitor said, "He delighteth in Mercy." These words were so riveted on the mind of Dr. Carmen that he availed himself of the offer of Divine grace.
(a) Giving of Thanks. Ver. 14.
The Church has a definite duty to discharge in supplicating, praying and interceding. The fulfilling of this injunction has its repercussion on her own community life. If the minister is not - rightly expounding the truth and the Church is not rightly responding to her obligations, she forfeits her own place. God desires and designs that the very life of Christians should be an incentive to induce men to en- quire into the secrets of salvation. By this means the opportunity is afforded to instruct them in the knowledge of the truth.
We are to regard prayer firstly as being cumulative. The virtue and value of prayer is not lost, but mounts up in volume and merit, so that to-day there lies behind us the whole weight of the accumulated intercession of the centuries.
The second feature is that prayer should be concentrative, Vague generalities are inadequate. Christ did not illustrate the petition of prayer by telling of a friend who made request from his kinsman for whatever he could spare, or to give him whatever he had most of in his pantry, but cited him as saying, "Friend, lend me three loaves." He knew what he wanted and plainly asked for it.
Thirdly, prayer should be constructive, directed to promoting the welfare of others without pretence. By this means we should consolidate the faith and confirm the trust of others by testifying to the definite response and direct results received in answer to prayer. Two lady missionaries in a Zenana station in India were told that the key of their large girls' school was to be withheld at the close of the summer vacation. There was no one in the state in the person of a British Administrator to whom they could appeal for advice, so they made their request to God to send them back the key that they might re-open at the end of the vacation. Two, weeks later they heard that the King of the Province was setting out in his royal yacht on a tour for three months during the heat of mid-summer. They immediately changed their request and asked God to send them back the key before the King embarked, otherwise the school would be closed too long to recover their 400 Hindu girls. The morning of the departure arrived and the two missionaries prayed. The hour for embarkation passed. The enemy sought to challenge them and told them that their school was closed for all time, but three hours after the scheduled time for departure, a messenger arrived bearing the key of the school on a tray. They asked if the King had gone and were informed that he had delayed his departure until the next morning. They ascertained that he was on his way from his Rolls Royce car to the yacht in company with the high priest, when a common crow swooped down from a tree on one side in front of His Highness and settled on another tree on the opposite side of the road. The high priest stopped the king, asking him if he had noticed the crow, to which he replied, "I did." Said the high priest, "'this is a bad omen, there is an unappeased god behind." The King affirmed that he had sent presents to Brahma, Krishna, Rama; Siva, and rehearsed all the main deities of the shrines in the Capitol. "No," said the high priest, "there is an unappeased god behind you and you cannot set out to-day." On returning to the palace where the names of the shrines of all the gods were rehearsed before him, the King said, "The only thing I can think of is that I have kept back the key of the school from the missionaries." Then said the high priest, "The Christian's' God is offended with you. Send them back the key." The prayer was definite and received a definite response.
Fourthly, prayer is communicative and sup- plies a definite channel whereby we can transmit help and blessing to others. We are enjoined to pray for one another, and this is a very real means of assisting those who are in front-line service on the mission field.
Fifthly, prayer is to be comprehensive, including, as here, "all men." We are exhorted in everything to give thanks. Again, in everything by prayer and supplication let your requests be made known unto God." Four of the words used by Christ when instructing His disciples on the subject of prayer are very suggestive,- "Whatsoever," "Whosoever," "Wheresoever" and "Whensoever." Mr. Fred Arnott, who, followed in the wake of Dr. Livingstone in Africa, was very distressed during one of his inland treks, be- cause his boots were worn out and there was no opportunity of replacing them. The leader of the caravan, an unsophisticated African, told him as they kneeled to pray ere retiring, to ask God for a pair of boots. Mr. Arnott endeavored to introduce several reasons why he could not ask God to supply him with boots under such circumstances. After discussing the matter for some time the African said to him, " Whosoever means, you, 'wheresoever' means here, 'whensoever' means now and 'whatsoever' means boots," He accepted the challenge, asked God to provide him with a pair of boots to continue his journey and by day-break a pair of the best English calf leather boots were received and they were exactly his size. The God Who can answer the prayers of the Damascus Christians, by arresting and saving Saul of Tarsus, is well able to respond to the Church's request for all men, kings and all who are in authority.
(b) Grading the Testimony. Vers. 5-10.
Marked differences in the gradation of significant matters, touched upon here, are universal, personal, general and creatorial in their range. There is the one Mediator for reconciliation, therefore all other claimants may be disregarded; there is one genuine ministry for evangelization in which Paul is an apostle, herald and teacher; thirdly, there is one method for supplication in which men and women are to pray everywhere; finally there is one administration for home life founded upon the facts and events of creation.
In order to fully qualify for mediation it is necessary that the mediator should be avail- able everywhere for everyone, know every- thing about everybody and be able to do any- thing for anyone in need. None but Christ possesses the prerogatives and attributes such as omnipresence, omniscience and omnipotence necessary to fulfil such an office. The three qualifications are beautifully expressed in association with three memorable occasions when the simple terms were used, "Even there", "even so" and "even now." The one Mediator between God and man is always accessible, always aware of conditions and always able to help.
The Ministry. Paul speaks of himself as a preacher whose duty it is to expound Christ, an apostle to represent Christ, and as a teacher to diffuse the knowledge of Him. These are functions Timothy needed to be reminded of in the discharging of his task. As preacher, Paul announced the glad tidings, as apostle he had authority, while as teacher he advocated the fullness of the glory of Christ
The Method for Intercession. What have such things as the dominion of rulers and the dress of women to do with Godliness? Much every way. Members of the first class are liable to neglect the supreme matters for successful administration, while men in general express two natural tendencies of nature, - wrath and doubting, which may be otherwise stated as anger and unbelief. Therefore, these things are to be counteracted.
The two general tendencies that characterized the womanhood at Ephesus, were immodesty and insobriety, which imply the lack of self-restraint, and may be spoken of as forwardness and fickleness.
The men are to lay aside their two common sins and the women are to put away theirs and both are to pray everywhere. "In like manner also" does not refer to wrath and doubting, but qualifies the term "pray everywhere."
(c) Gaining the Triumph. Vers. 11-15.
The women are enjoined to learn in silence, but this does not mean dumbness. It implies quietness without contention. The rendering of ver. 12 is obscure in our version. This passage does not teach that a woman is not to teach or pray when men are about, but for- bids a woman to usurp the authority of man in the administration of the home, and denies to her the right to teach the usurpation of authority. In other words, "I suffer not a woman to teach the usurpation of authority over men." This does not withhold from women the right to teach, but denies the liberty - of teaching that women should have an equal right with men in governing the home. The reason for this is immediately stated. Eve was deceived, not Adam. Adam decided, when he saw the condition that resulted, to identify himself with his help-meet. Eve forfeited the position of equality in administration.
The context shows definitely that the sphere being dealt with is the home-life in sanctified wedlock where the husband is to rule. Children born in this relationship of pure affection will be blessed indeed, for the bond of union is much more than mere emotion.
Christ came to redeem both man and woman, and has authority to secure privilege for both as 'the one Mediator between God and men.' Some of the eminently conservative would have received a rude shock had they been present at Pentecost when sons and daughters participated. We need to remember that Timothy was an overseer of the Church at Ephesus, and was confronted by the great temple worship of Diana which deified a woman as being the supreme being. In reviewing this state of things the apostle disallows this violation of truth and said, "I suffer not a woman to teach the usurpation of authority over men." He is not challenging woman's rights to preach and teach the truth, but condemns her advocating the claim of supreme administration. When Paul told the Jews that Christ was no respecter of persons and that He had come to make the Jew and Gentile one, there was a great uproar. There is still an uproar in some circles if it be stressed that He has made man and woman one in the privilege of prayer and preaching.
'The pillar and ground of truth' express the figure of elevated display as well as the foundation for support. Christ affirmed that He established the Church on an impregnable rock and set it upon a hill to diffuse its light. The duty of the Church is specifically stated as being for the declaration of the truth and for the defense of the Gospel. As a pillar supports the facade of a noble structure, so the Church sets forth the priceless truth of the Gospel. Her chief mission is to proclaim the truth to the world, by displaying the Person, diffusing the light and declaring the Word.
In undertaking service of this kind, regeneration of character is absolutely essential. Those who set forth the truth must be the product of the truth. "of His own will beget He us by the word of Truth." James ch. 1, ver. 18.
The material of this house must be of the right kind, fitly - framed by the skill of the same Workman that shaped Paul. Each stone must be fully endowed and equipped to fulfil the function of the Great Designer. The construction is also the work of Divine hands, for Christ said, "On this Rock I build My Church" and this structure constitutes the House of the living God, in which our behavior is to be becoming.
The House of God, under the old economy, consisted of three parts, the outer court, the Holy place and the Holy of Holies. These are suggestive of separate spheres, namely of sacrifice, service and sanctity.
The sacrifice for salvation was connected with the blood, the Word and the Spirit. The service consisted of three activities, witness, stewardship and worship.
The sanctity related to the highest privileges of priesthood in supplication, communion and benediction, which assured satisfaction of heart and transformation of life.
These figures have vanished and we now face the facts.
The Spirit of God is desirous of leading us into the exercises, functions and characteristics of this spiritual House.
We have selected three headings from the message to express the content of this section.
(a) 'The Man of God.'
This was the designation by which Moses the Law-Giver, David the King and Elijah the Prophet were called, and it occurs in both messages to Timothy.
The bishop is to be a man of God, likewise the deacon. The word, bishop, tells of the select character of the office, the second, of the maturity attained through spiritual con- duct. These functions are discharged by the Holy Priesthood, over which our great High Priest presides. Christ having offered one sacrifice for sins forever, no system of atoning sacrifices is necessary in the service of this priesthood. The function is to present the sacrifice of praise, render spiritual service and offer the self-offering. Therefore, the bishop and deacon are to be irreproachable and blameless. Separation to God is to be expressed in the beauty of holiness and the life itself is to be the service vessel. See 2 Tim. ch. 2, ver. 21.
The Holy Spirit, during the absence of the Head, presides on the behalf of Christ, so that all behavior and service are to be regulated by Him. The atmosphere He creates is to be our sphere of prayer. therefore we are exhorted to pray in the Spirit.
Likewise, activity must be subordinated to the authority of His presidency, so that all speech and service are to be characterized by spirituality. The Ministry of the Spirit is to make church members Christ's evidences, Christ's examples and Christ's credentials.
(b) 'The House of God.' Vers. 14-15.
This is one of three expressions used for the Church. 'The Temple of God' is spoken of as being holy, which temple ye are. This refers to. the character of the Church. 'The House of God' relates to behavior and implies conduct, while 'the Habitation of God' indicates the indwelling and suggests communion. Therefore, the character, conduct and communion of the Church of the living God are involved and disclosed in the figures.
The three evidences of the proprietorship of the only God are expressed in His being the Architect Who designs, the Constructer Who builds the Resident Who occupies.
The designation, "Church of the living God," is never used of a material structure in the New Testament, however costly. The Church of the Living God is composed of regenerate souls and is a Divine institution, not a human society. An age-long preparation preceded its formation, the actual foundation is Jesus Christ, Who was perfected by suffering, and the aggressive construction will be continued to completion by the Spirit and crowned at the consummation by the return of Christ. No tools can be heard during the erection of this spiritual house.
(c) 'The Word of God.' Ver. 16, also oh. 4, ver. 5.
The 'Man of God,' the 'House of God,' and the 'Word of God' are all alike, God-breathed. Each one is a parable of the other. The linking together of all three in this epistle is remarkable. We are told in John ch. 1 that the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us. The facts of this manifestation are disclosed in ver. 16.
The mystery of godliness has been manifested in Christ, and He is the very One Who met and mastered Paul and molded his life for missionary work.
The message of the Christian minister is to make Christ known and multiply the number of units into a company; by this means the mystery of the Church is established and through her the ministry expressed. This description of the visible manifestation of the eternal, immortal, spiritual. personal God is one of the most sublime and stupendous statements contained in Scripture.
The first statement, "Who was manifest in the flesh," includes the manifestation which took place in the world as recorded in John ch. 1, ver. 14. "Was declared righteous in spirit" indicates the resurrection from the dead. Rom. ch. 1, ver. 4. "Was made visible unto messengers" expressed his verification to His messengers of the fact of His victory over death.
"Was proclaimed among the nations" portrays His proclamation by the heralds who obeyed the commission. "Was believed on in the world" refers to His acceptation through faith by those who hear the Word and receive it "Was taken up in glory" announces His coronation when He was glorified.
The Old Testament declares that God has exalted His Word above all His Name, also, that His Word is purified seven times. It states, also, that His Word is forever settled in Heaven. Then again. that "His Word liveth and abideth forever."
The New Testament declares that the Word was God, and that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us Therefore, as Peter said, "The Word has been made more sure to us, or, to add John's words, "The eternal life was manifested and we have seen it."
Paul enjoins Timothy to "Preach the Word", which amounts to preaching Christ, as he states in his message to Corinth, "We preach Christ." To deny the revealed word of God is to deny the manifested Word, for the abstract has become the personal. living Christ. The true function of the minister is "to express by life and example and expound in exhortation these doctrines to the Church." The Church must then demonstrate the truth in the character of its corporate life and fellowship and declare the truth in witness before the world. False knowledge is to be excluded, gnostics and heretics are not to be allowed a footing. See ch. 1, vers. 3-4. neither philosophies, nor vagaries can add to or improve the texture, tone or triumph of the Gospel of the glory of the blessed God Who is blessed for ever more. Let us preach Christ unmingled and unmutilated as the Saviour God Who would have all men to be saved and brought to a knowledge of the truth.
There were not only fables to be faced and fictitious teaching, from without, combated, but faithlessness within that would paralyze effort and hinder the true foundation of the church being discharged, was an ever present danger. These retarding factors are definitely named and the list includes fictitious impulses, false doctrine, feigned piety, failure in prayer, faulty consciences and foreign rule, the last named seeking to impose improper restrictions on the believers. These are the things the true minister has to counteract as well as to caution the brethren concerning the cunning methods adopted by the seducers.
(a) The Peril of Doubt. Vers. 1-6.
The Word of God and prayer constitute the true antidote for doubt. The disposition of unbelief denies evidence, disregards witness, denounces truth and then demands unquestionable proof under the pretext that if such can be produced, they, the unbelievers, are prepared to acknowledge their error. Such forces within the Church cause relaxation by falsifying the truth and weakening the testimony. How necessary therefore that those who have oversight should be men of spiritual caliber and courage, men who are not afraid to con- firm the authenticity and authority of the Word of God. The God-governed life is balanced, sane and reasonable and made free from folly and fanaticism.
(b) The Profit of Doctrine. Vers. 7-11.
A good minister of Jesus Christ is the pro- duct of good doctrine. Effeminate tales are to be wholly discarded and the mind trained in the words of faith. The training of the body does not result in such far-reaching benefits as those gained by a life directed to godliness. The reason is obvious, for the body is temporal but the spiritual life eternal, and therefore worthy of more care and culture. Such facts are faithful, as declared, and deserving of the utmost attention. Paul, for his part, toiled and suffered while trusting in the living God, the One to Whom the church belongs. In one sense, the mediation of Christ benefits all man- kind. Ten lepers were cleansed, one returned to give thanks to whom Christ said, "Thy faith hath saved thee." The Lord had proved to be the Saviour to the nine in delivering them from their disease, but the one who came back was not only cleansed of his leprosy but also saved by faith.
(c) The Pattern of Devotion. Vers. 12-16.
"Let no one despise thy youth but be thou an example unto believers." The apostle considered youth to be admirable and nothing to be despised. He was not advocating that Timothy deport himself as one mature in years, or with an old head on young shoulders and act precociously in an old-mannish or old-womanish style, or be pragmatic, self-opinionated and officious. Nor did he want him to be pessimistic with the resultant melancholia and depression, or phlegmatic with the accompanying apathetic sluggishness, but true to what youth is meant to be. Who has not observed at some time or other the amiable, admirable, alert young man, combining in his alacrity radiant vision, valiant courage, brilliant ability, buoyant optimism and fervent emotion, blended together with abundant energy.
When Admiral Byrd was about to set out from Lyttleton, N.Z., for the South Pole, an old salt who had passed his allotted span of three-score years and ten, strode leisurely along the wharf and asked the officer if Byrd was about. He received the reply, "Admiral Byrd is heaving anchor in ten minutes, so he cannot be very far distant." At that moment the Commander hove in sight and the aged sailor had his attention directed to the Admiral. An he approached, the old man went up to. him and said, "Are you Byrd?" "Yes," came the reply. "Well," said the worn out sailor, "I have been to the North Pole with Amundsen and to the South with Scott. Do you think you can take two ships as heavily laden as these to the South Pole?" "Sure," said Admiral Byrd. 'Then, good-bye," said the old man, "we will never hear of you again." The admiral was 36 years of age and had venture, vision and vitality on his side; the old man had lost all three.
The Church needs youthful prime with all its healthful, useful, helpful, cheerful, faithful and powerful faculties to do exploits in the Name of the Master.
We find included in this chapter spiritual athletics, apologetics and mechanics. Note the last of these in a few words. The five qualities named are divisible into three groups (in spirit does not appear in the text and is omitted in the R.V.) The heart is the static power of purity that firmly holds. The will is the dynamic power which is controlled by faith and love, and mind is the kinetic power which ex- presses itself in words and behavior, So then, it is obvious that the emotional, volitional and intellectual powers of youth can be of incalculable value in the Church. On the other hand, if things indiscreet, indecent, together with indolent habits, be permitted, they war against the young minister's soul. Should the static power of purity be lacking, there will be no stability in affection and devotion, and no glory in the witness and walk.
The section closes by an appeal to Timothy to read the Word, remember the gift received- and reflect on the instruction given, then none will find any occasion to despise his youth. In other words, he is to be youthful 'in word,' which means reasoned speech: 'in behavior,' that is, his manner of life; 'in love,' which is the highest word used for that virtue; 'in faith' implying confidence that fully confides; and 'in purity,' which is the very foundation of courage and chivalry. The Scripture plainly teaches that the Christian Church has its ministers to instruct, exhort, teach, and that from this source it derives its own ministry which it is enjoined to impart to the world. Sad to say, there are some fellowships in our day that have no attraction for anyone under 45.
Three enemies which we must defy are indolence, indulgence and indifference, other- wise, fervor will be quenched and fidelity quelled. We need far more of that dominating impulse which boldly affirms, "This one thing I do."
The features of a well-ordered life are spoken of as good and acceptable unto the Lord. Immediately God emancipated Israel from Egypt He legislated so as to prepare them for a well-ordered life. The words "acceptable" and "acceptation" occur in four important connections in the message to Timothy, so that we may be fully assured of the conduct that is pleasing to God.
When a young Scottish minister approached the late Dr. Simpson, of Nyak Bible School in New York, and asked if there was any work in which he could assist, Dr. Simpson said, "Yes, an abundance of it" "What are the terms?" asked the young man. "Please God and you will please us," came the ready reply. He commenced the next day and has been assisting for the last fifty years.
(a) Guided in Walk. Vers. 1-8.
The sphere of relationships is the place in which special direction is necessary. Elders, fathers, young men, brethren, older women, mothers, younger sisters, widows, children and grandchildren are included in the picture. The true life can only be lived insofar as we art prepared to die with Christ, for only when self is ended will He be enthroned in the heart and crowned supreme. The matter of dying with Him is the thing that deters us. Yea, Paul says, The woman that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth." Therefore, we conclude that the soul that dieth to please God liveth, though he dies. "I'm crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live." He that loveth his life shall lose it but he that loseth his life for My sake shall keep it."
When this condition is realized, personal ambitions are stilled, prejudices are crucified, pride is humbled, yet, withal, peace prevails, life is to be lived blamelessly. Our kinships are now welded in a new relationship, for believers belong to the family of God and the household of faith. God designs that life should have a rhythm of orderliness and beauty. Submission is the only logical attitude of loyalty.
(b) Girded in Work. Vers. 9-16.
"Well reported for good works," "Diligently followed every good work." Vers. 9-10. Robust life is always expressed in toil. Health makes possible vigorous effort and growth increases capacity for work. God does all His work with a determined plan and a set purpose in view. Let us do ours in the virtue of His, with motive to prompt and destiny to guide. Christ is our Director and Master. He speaks with a dignity and authority, and each one of us needs guidance in the final decisions of life. Submission is the pathway which leads to the highest and noblest realization. Every utterance of our Lord is convincing to our reason, challenging to our hearts and constraining to our wills. Let us remember, Royalty is speaking. Therefore His very manner and victorious mission should arrest our attention and motivate our action.
(c) Gentle in Witness. Vers. 17-24.
We may notice that all local limitations are transcended here with high levels. Timothy was exhorted to be gentle towards all. Firstly was to exhibit respect to elders, who were to be given double honor because they labored in teaching the Word and the doctrine. An accusation against the character of any one of these mature leaders was to be entertained if the charge were made by one person only. Reward for service is not to be calculated by monetary returns only, but in terms of honor as shown by the application in the Old Testament of ver. 18. Rebuke for all wrong-doing is insisted upon. Responsibility was impressed upon Timothy with a solemn charge. Accurate conception of the true character of the work can only exist when we keep in view the origin of our com- mission, the Overseer we are to obey and the Observers who watch and report our conduct.
A right aim is necessary for achievement, and direction is vital if the duty is to be well done. Discipline also must accompany the demand if we desire to discharge our obligations. Only by making God the motive power in life in all that is undertaken can our labors be acceptable. "If we have not mighty affirmations to make about God's Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, affirmations in which there is no ambiguity . . . we have no right to preach." Jackson.
Reticence was to be shown in identifying oneself with strangers ere they had been proved consistent, lest the work be brought into disrepute. Regard also must be given to health for constitutional reasons. Timothy was evidently not very strong and the intensely alkaline waters of the locality deranged his digestion. The kindly word of the aged apostle has been greatly misused and abused. In the first place, the drinking water in most countries has not the large percentage of alkali which is so characteristic of Palestine and Syria, and therefore the antidote mentioned is not required. Secondly there was no proof-spirit added to wine in those days because the process of distillation was wholly unknown.
Reflection. Because there is a reckoning day ahead, we should seriously consider our ways. Both governmental and judicial aspects of judgment are incorporated in vers. 24-25. The one refers to the sowing and reaping of the present life and the other to the world to come.
Godliness, as we have seen, is the key of the whole message, occurring ten times in all. The display of this character is the crowning exhibition of Deity unveiled, the central glory of the manifestation, the substance of the doc- trine, the very kernel of truth. the goodness of Christian character, the standard of the believer's conduct, the beauty of holiness and the glory of grace. This goal is intended to become the innermost fact of Christian aspiration and is sure to create a passion for holiness. Unless I share Christ's life I am not a Christian. Whatever may be my confession, however much I may sing the songs of Zion, unless I am made a partaker of Christ's life, I am none of His. These things pave the way for the supremacy of love in its nature and power, ch. 1, ver. 14, ch. 6, ver. 11. Love is the well-spring, full and forceful, of all victorious strength, flashing forth from its facets the luster of diamonds, diffusing the fragrance of flowers, sweeter than the spices of herbs and lovelier than the nectar of fruits.
(a) Grasp the Treasure. Vers. 1-10.
"Godliness with contentment is great gain." "Lay - hold of eternal life." Godliness is a unique word and is derived from a root meaning "good reverence" that is, revering and worshipful, or, as Dr. MacLaren suggests, well-directed reverence demonstrated by action.
Christ declared the full character of God without diminution. Therefore He is the perfect and radiant symmetry of love and power. In the case of the believer, Godliness is the outcome of union with the person of the living Christ and not mere belief in a plan of redemption, as some surmise. This union results in a poise of spirit and state of soul arising from a clear and constant recognition of God and from a sane, sincere realization of His presence. Godliness dignifies life and regulates and directs behavior. We are here to build with eternal fabrics, not transient materials, and are therefore enjoined to 'Lay hold on eternal life." The world in general is out for what it can gain, so that many adopt a religious affiliation, hoping to facilitate the securing of profits. Some of the teachers had adopted this outlook and Paul speaks of them as men of corrupt minds. We are to go out from this present life as we came m, so why pine over money? Some businessmen have said they would have secured greater wealth had they sacrificed godliness, but would they? Is not the value of a clear conscience of greater worth than gold? The mystery of ch. 3, ver. 9 is the inspiration of all Godly living and it is necessary to flee from follies and take life seriously, for godliness is a method of life whereby sackcloth is transfigured into silk, scarcity changed for satiety and separation transformed to society.
(b) Grace the Truth. Vers. 11-16.
"Follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness, Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life . . . keep this commandment without spot.
Our Lord Jesus Christ did all this; therefore He is the final argument and the most powerful incentive to constrain the believer. How insignificant our adorning of life must appear to God in comparison with this august Person arrayed in the vesture of virtue, the robe of righteousness, the garment of grace, clad in royal raiment with His affections girdled with gold. Yea, in His own personal excellence He adorns the attributes, magnifies Majesty, glorifies goodness, perfects power, crowns constancy, honors holiness, burnishes beauty, graces gentleness, transcends triumph, surpasses self-abnegation and luminates love. Is such a One able to grace our lives with loveliness? There can be only one answer.
Timothy had witnessed a good confession before many witnesses. Christ witnessed a good profession before Pilate in which He testified of His princely nature, His personification of truth and His pre-existence. His theme was not theories, but truth, which He Himself personified. Arrogators who make preposterous claims always pass by the altar. Christ declared it to be the end for which He was born and also told Paul that He came into the world for a specific purpose, a statement which predicates His pre-existence. He declared that His kingdom was not of this world, but higher in majesty than the pinions of the Roman eagles could soar, broader than the dominions of Caesar and wider than the con- fines of earth's remotest bound. Paul visualized the reality of the claim and made the tremendous assertion of ch. 1, ver. 17, in which he attests Him as King of the historic ages, but more than this, His designations transcend an angers grasp. He is the blessed and only Potentate, which character hails Him as the mightiest of monarchs, superior in sovereignty and highest in honor. Yea, He is president of principalities, infinitely imperial and the most royal of rulers.
In this Epistle the three-fold use of "only" in relation to the person of Christ is priceless. He is the only God our Saviour, the blessed and only Potentate, Who only hath immortality. Added to all this He is the King of kings, surrounded with the vastness which is infinite and possessing a venerableness which is eternal. He is more regal than all rulers, more honor- able than the notable of earth, swaying the scepter over sovereigns, governing the great and controlling all creation with authority absolute. His victorious virtues outvie in honor the diadems of His dominion and the distinctions of the aggregate glory of all kings. These facts and figures of majesty are not given merely to teach us what Christ is, but in order to instruct us as to what we should be if we confess His Name. In His kingly character as conqueror He wears the crown of Saviourhood, His rod is the scepter of righteousness, His sword is the word of truth and His purpose is lasting peace. No other king in all history is so distinguished in name and fame. We must aspire to yet greater heights for He is likewise Lord of Lords. This lofty degree of dignity and title of honor befits the brow of none other than our Saviour Lord. His might is meekness and His majesty mercy. His merits are manifold and His qualifications complete, all His decisions are immutable and His resolutions irresistible. He, only, hath immortality in the inherent sense, and having brought this immortality to light through the Gospel, man now possesses this same quality derivatively. His dwelling place is in light unapproachable, beauty ineffable and glory untarnishable, to Whom belongs enduring honor and everlasting power. Therefore what manner of persons ought we to be in all holy demeanor and godliness?
(c) Guard the Trust. Vers. 17-21.
"Guard that which is committed to thee." Ver. 20. What incalculable treasure has been entrusted to us! How tawdry the tinsel of temporal riches appears in the light of these spiritual verities.
Note the four-fold use of the word "rich" - and "riches" here, as the physical and spiritual values are being contrasted. If we would be rich, the living God Who gives richly can make us rich in good works. The large space that is given to the teacher and his teaching in the epistle is not to be wondered at when we consider the nature of the charge and commitment. There is a terrible tendency to relax and relapse from these high altitudes of doc- trine, and to relegate Christ to merely a place among the wise, a standing among the pundits of ethics and a patronage among the heroes. Ethical methods cannot save, the highest codes are sullied in the light of heavens unsullied purity. Educational standards are dwarfed into insignificance when compared with the infinite purpose of God. Christ is at once Example and Emancipator, Saviour and Sovereign, Revealer and Redeemer. Therefore, oh 'man of God,' reject the things that deflect your vision from the celestial Christ or which would divert your mind to the speculative channels of theosophy, philosophy and psychic cults. If we would knock at the door of mystery in order to ascertain a knowledge of the profoundest secret, here it is. "Great is the mystery of godliness. God was manifested in the flesh," that we might become Godlike.
We can never interpret God' by figures, figures must be lifted into infinite fact, the essential thing is to know God Himself. We are to contemplate the loveliness of the Lord with that measure of appreciation that absorbs, until we are clothed in the same beauty. 'Godliness with contentment is great gain.'