Do you follow Christ Because of Some Sensational Church Doctrine or Myth?

The First Epistle Paul wrote to Timothy, sometime after his release from Roman imprisonment as described at the end of the Book of Acts, was written from Macedonia (1 Timothy 1:3). Paul used his official title (1 Timothy 1:1) to indicate that this Pastoral Epistle was not merely a private letter, but was intended to be read to the Churches committed to the charge of Timothy.

The purpose of the Pastoral Epistles is to instruct, admonish, and direct the recipients in their pastoral office. Paul wrote 1st Timothy to advise his coworker, Timothy, about issues in the church in Ephesus. The Apostle Paul met Timothy during his second missionary journey and Timothy became Paul’s companion and missionary partner along with Silas. Timothy traveled with Paul the Apostle, who was also his mentor.

Ephesus Had Become a Center of False Teaching.

Apparently, after his release, Paul returned to the city of Ephesus. There he discovered that during his absence Ephesus had become a storm center of false teaching. This was a sad fulfillment of the prediction he made to the Ephesian elders in Acts 20:29-30.

In 1st Timothy chapter 1, Paul describes his personal experience of the Gospel, and how he encourages Timothy to carry on the fight. False teachers are the main cause for the letter, and continue to plague us today. The false teaching in Ephesus apparently involved incorrect assumptions about the law (1 Timothy 1:7–11) and not allowing marriage and certain foods (1 Timothy 4:1–5).

Does this Sound Familiar?

Paul wrote the epistle to Timothy to help the young Church leader better understand his duties. This is Paul’s follow-up letter. Overall, the message of the 1st Timothy epistle concerns sound teaching. Additional themes include how to deal with false teachers in the church; the responsibilities and qualifications of church leaders; appropriate conduct for Christians; and guarding the church’s reputation in the world.

Rather than uphold the sanctity of its Christian faith, the Church at Ephesus had largely sold out to the political powers of the city. Does that sound familiar?

Rather than shining as a beacon of Christian faith, hope, and love, the church at Ephesus had aligned itself with the powers of darkness and embraced the vile nature of corrupt politics. This has been a problem within Christian churches from these beginnings of time, through the medieval times and up to, and including today’s Christian Churches.

Paul Urges Timothy to Remain in Ephesus

Before Paul left for Macedonia, he urged Timothy to remain, even though the work was difficult. Paul told Timothy to remain in Ephesus because it seemed that Timothy wanted to give up and run away. Most everyone in ministry deals with this at some time; for a few, it is a constant affliction. There was probably both external pressure and internal pressure for him to leave.

There were reasons why Timothy might not want to remain in Ephesus:

  • He might have missed Paul and wanted to be with his mentor.
  • He might have been intimidated by following Paul’s ministry.
  • He seems to have been somewhat timid or reserved by nature and was perhaps intimidated by the challenge.
  • He might have been discouraged by the normal difficulties of ministry.
  • He might have questioned his own calling.
  • He might have been frustrated by the distracting and competing doctrines swirling around the Christians in Ephesus.

Despite all these reasons, there is no doubt that God, and the Apostle Paul, wanted Timothy to remain in Ephesus.

In the rest of 1st Timothy 1, Paul gave Timothy at least six reasons why he should stay there and finish the ministry God gave him to do.

  1. Because they need the truth (1 Timothy 1:3-7).
  2. Because you minister in a hard place (1 Timothy 1:8-11).
  3. Because God uses unworthy people (1 Timothy 1:12-16).
  4. Because you serve a great God (1 Timothy 1:17).
  5. Because you are in a battle and cannot surrender (1 Timothy 1:18).
  6. Because not everyone else does (1 Timothy 1:19-20).

God will allow us to be in difficult situations. We must set our minds to meet the challenge, or we will surely give up. Paul left Timothy with an important job to do, making it all the more important that he remain in Ephesus. The job was to make sure that the correct doctrine was taught in Ephesus and charge some people so that they will quit teaching other doctrines not prescribed by the Apostles.

No Other Doctrine

Paul left the Ephesian Christians with a particular set of teachings, which he had received from Jesus and the Old Testament. He wanted Timothy to do everything he could to make sure the Ephesians continue in that doctrine. This was the first reason why Timothy needed to remain in Ephesus.

Paul did this because doctrine is important to God and should be important to His people. Today, what one believes – that is, their doctrine – is remarkably unimportant to most people. This spirit has also heavily influenced modern Christians. We live in a day where Pilate’s question of What is truth (John 18:38) is answered, “Whatever it means to you.” Yet the truth is important to God and should be to His people.

That You May Charge Some

Paul’s concern was not primarily that Timothy himself would begin to teach wrong doctrine. His concern was that Timothy would allow others to spread these other doctrines. Timothy had to stand firm against difficult people and “you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines. (1st Timothy 1:3)” No wonder Timothy felt like leaving Ephesus.

In ancient Greek, “charge” is a military word. It means “To give strict orders from a commanding officer.” Timothy wasn’t to present the option of correct doctrine to those in Ephesus. He was to command it like a military officer.

The great danger of these teachings (“myths and endless genealogies”) was that they were silly distractions. Timothy had to remain in Ephesus so that he could command others to ignore these speculative and silly distractions. Paul wanted to prevent the corruption that came when people gave authority to myths, fake news, and endless genealogies instead of true doctrine. Silly distractions were also dangerous because they took the place of godly edification which is in faith.

Crowding Out Godly Edification

A consuming interest in these complex genealogies and connecting them with wild speculations about spiritual mysteries will crowd out godly edification which is in faith. It wasn’t that there was an elaborate anti-Jesus theology rising in Ephesus. It was more that they tended to get carried away by emphasizing the wrong things.

Paul told Timothy to sort out that problem (1 Timothy 1:3). He must stop these people from doing it. The eventual fruit of these man-made diversions is evident. Though they may be popular and fascinating in the short term, in the long run, they don’t strengthen God’s people in faith.

In 1st Timothy, we read about a holistic vision of the nature and mission of the Church. But just as in Timothy’s time, corrupt teachers today can confuse believers. And Paul, in his epistles to Timothy, gives instructions on how the Church and its leaders can stay faithful to the way of Jesus. Are you following because of some sensational church doctrine or myth, or because of your faith in Jesus?

In conclusion, the Daily Bread email message sent on 11/2/2022 says,

1st Timothy 1:3, 4 – As I urged you upon my departure for Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus so that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines, nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation rather than furthering the administration of God which is by faith.  (NASB)

Rather than uphold the sanctity of its Christian faith, the Church at Ephesus had largely sold out to the political powers of the city. Does that sound familiar?

Paul wanted to prevent the corruption that came when people gave authority to myths, fake news, and endless genealogies instead of true doctrine. Silly distractions were also dangerous because they took the place of godly edification which is in faith. This has been a problem within Christian churches from these beginnings of time, through medieval times, and up to, and including today’s Christian Churches.

Paul left the Ephesian Christians with a particular set of teachings, which he had received from Jesus and the Old Testament. He wanted Timothy to everything he could to make sure the Ephesians continue in that doctrine. This was the first reason why Timothy needed to remain in Ephesus.

Paul did this because doctrine is important to God and should be important to His people. Today, what one believes – that is, their doctrine – is remarkably unimportant to most people. This spirit has also heavily influenced modern Christians. We live in a day where Pilate’s question of What is truth (John 18:38) is answered, “Whatever it means to you.” Yet the truth is important to God and should be to His people.

You Can Receive The Daily Bread, for FREE.

To receive the Daily Bread messages, free on Mon., Wed., and Fri., in your email inbox, just fill in the form below or send an email, asking to be added, to  jmikeh@jmhowington.com  

2 thoughts on “Do you follow Christ Because of Some Sensational Church Doctrine or Myth?”

  1. Hello There. I foud yourr bllog useing msn. This iis a very well written article.
    I will make suyre to bookmark itt and return to read
    more of you useful info. Thanks for thee post. I will definitely comeback.

  2. I’ve learn severaal good suff here. Certainly worth
    bookarking ffor revisiting. I wonder hoow
    a llot effort you set to create one off thes great inftormative wweb site.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *