Thursday, 2 November 2017
As I urged you when I went into Macedonia—remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine, 1 Timothy 1:3
After his initial greeting, Paul now begins the main portion of his letter by reminding Timothy of words previously spoken to him. “As I urged you,” is a phrase intending to call to memory the conversation of a previous time, which was “when I went into Macedonia.” Some tie this event into Acts 20:1 –
“After the uproar had ceased, Paul called the disciples to himself, embraced them, and departed to go to Macedonia.”
However, various scholars see this as a different trip into Macedonia which occurred after the completion of the book of Acts, which was after his first imprisonment in Rome. This seems more likely, because Timothy was sent to Macedonia in Acts 19:4, and Paul joined him by going to Macedonia in Acts 20:1. After that, they returned together as is recorded in Acts 20:4. Therefore, it is more likely that this is a later trip into Macedonia for Paul, occurring after his first Roman imprisonment.
After this period of time, incorrect doctrine had crept into the church at Ephesus, and it so infected it that Paul’s letter is now required. The Ephesian church had failed to listen to Paul’s warning, accompanied by tears, to stand fast on the doctrine of Christ (see Acts 20:25-38). Because of this, a letter of instruction, doctrine, and warning is now issued to Timothy; but it is a letter which is intended for all to read and understand.
His reminder to Timothy of their previous conversation was that he was to “remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine.” Paul had confidence enough in Timothy that he could remain without him and still be found competent to uphold sound and proper doctrine. Further, he would be bold enough to make a charge concerning what was wrong and what was right. Paul’s words demonstrate this confidence in his young protege.
The word translated as, “no other doctrine,” is one found only here and in 1 Timothy 6:3. It indicates “a different doctrine” and is thus anything other than that which had been once delivered by apostolic teaching. Paul will outline such things considered “other” in the verses ahead. They center on the law, and thus it is the same group of people as had troubled so many other churches – the Judaizers. They came in with their infectious teachings, and they disturbed the believers with their unsound doctrines. As these things pertain to “law,” and as the law is fulfilled in Christ, it is the same concepts which have been dug up and put on display in modern times by the Hebrew Roots movement. Paul warned against this type of nonsense, and his words still warn today.
Life application: There is one doctrine concerning the law – it is fulfilled in Christ and ended. Any resurrection of law observance is to be rejected. This shouldn’t be difficult to grasp, but apparently there are many thick skulls out there. May the words of Paul act as a drill to get through that thick bone, and into the gray matter of law-observant heretics.
Lord God, reading the words of the New Testament leaves only one sound conclusion concerning the law – it is finished. Christ is the end of the law for all who believe, and the law is now obsolete. Why anyone would want to place themselves back under that impossible yoke is a bit amazing. Open eyes, turn hearts, and help us to get back to the grace! Thank You, O God, for the grace found in Christ our Lord. Amen.