Gamma 17 – The Pastoral Epistles (Study 1)

Study 1




Please look at the questions and discuss the answers. The case histories are designed to let you apply what theoretical knowledge you have gleaned from the study. There are intentionally many more questions and case histories than you can manage in one session but this is designed to cover the many and varied needs of the individuals in the church hence please pick and choose which ones to discuss as long as it gets people sharing and applying the Word to real life situations. Never feel obligated to finish all the questions The answers will be posted on the web the next day.

Timothy is Paul’s “child in the faith”. Paul refers to him because of his relatively young age probably in his 30’s, and it was on one of his missionary journeys in Asia Minor where he met Timothy and the young man became his protege.

The letters were written to alert the church of the necessity of dealing with the growing problem of false teaching and heresy, to establish the church and its leaders in teaching and behaviour so that the church would function as a pillar and support for the gospel. The letters were to provide Timothy and Titus with the methods or procedures (we call them SOP ) in managing the church as well as to prepare the church for the necessity to preaching the gospel.

Myths and Speculations on the Law (1 Tim 1:3-10; 4:7; 6:3-6; 6:20-2; Titus 1:10, 14; 3:9-10; 2 Tim 2:16, 23; 4:4). Asceticism (1 Tim 4:3; Titus 1:15) Greed (1 Tim 6:5, 6:9-10; Titus 1:11) Denial of a Future Resurrection (2 Tim 2:18).

They were absolutely “devoted” to their false teachings so much so that they were eagerly spreading their false teachings probably due to their own perceived ideas of its life changing consequences. They were “pseudo-intellectuals” pontificating on complex myths and speculations about the Law. They thought themselves qualified to teach despite lacking a fundamental understanding.

The consequences are a preoccupation with vain discussions on speculations. This is discussing and arguing over various theories and ideas. The other consequence is a distraction from the actual ministry of the gospel which is to love and serve each other. The false teachings embroil the church in useless discussions, which then cause division and enmity and detracts the church from its main ministry of the gospel.

The issue is “pride” and a lack of ministry means a lack of “love”.

Many churches have often split over the matter. If the church member has discovered that he or she no longer subscribes to the church’s central doctrines, they should speak to the elders about it and be humble enough to be persuaded by Scripture. If they cannot agree, it would be best that they seek to worship and join another church whose doctrinal stand aligns more closely with their personal beliefs. In this way the unity of the church is preserved.

The main function of the law is to show our own unrighteousness and sin. The law was not mean to be how we can earn our own righteousness which is why Paul wrote “ law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners”.

So Paul is saying the way is not how a person is regarded as “ just” or righteous. It just shows you how far we are from being “just”. The law in its essence points to Jesus and faith in Jesus which is the only way a person can ever be “just”.

Romans 1: 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

Paul’s position is that the only way a person can be “just” or righteous is not by obedience to the law as a method of self salvation but by faith ….trusting Jesus which is why he says the righteous shall live by faith. So the law was not written for the “just” or as a means in which we gain standing before God but to show us we are out of step with God’s standard

The aim of the gospel is “ 5 The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith”. We need to contrast false teaching with the truth of the gospel and we can do this by looking at the aim of the gospel which is an authentic love for God and our fellow man which will be seen in how we care for each other, how we serve each other because His love and grace have transformed our own lives. The false teachers’ focus is not love but an elitist stand of superior knowledge that fills their heads with pride as they alone have the truth. Bible knowledge in the hands of the false teachers is the way in which they elevate their own self esteem and position in the eyes of their fellow church members. True gospel understanding drives people to service and sacrifice.

A good conscience is behaviour that is line with our conscience and a consistent way of living which is in line with our theology. It is not practising a double standard where on the one hand there is religious behaviour on a Sunday and default “normal “ bussiness as usual behaviour for the rest of the week. This hypocrisy plagues all faiths because it is all too easy to discuss the bible as an intellectual exercise, but it is much harder to “walk the talk”.

The last aim of the gospel is a sincere faith which means an authentic trust in the finished work of Christ who guides us with the Spirit. It is a constant trust in His righteousness in what we do, how we see others and how we see ourselves. The opposite to this is we tend to trust in all the good works and ministry service that we have performed as a proxy for our spirituality. Then we trust that we have good standing before God and become like that Pharisee who stands before God at the temple with his head held high because of his sacrifices and religious behaviour rather than the poor tax collector who is there on his knees trusting himself to God’s mercy. We need a sincere faith always trusting His work and not ours

The Old Testament law has been entirely fulfilled by the life and sacrifice of our Lord Jesus We no longer keep the law in order to be saved. The OT law is now obsolete as far are we are concerned. All the temple ceremonies and sacrifices for sin that had to be performed for a man to gain standing before God have been replaced by the new Temple who is Jesus. That is why when Jesus died, the curtain that separated the holy of Holies from the rest of the temple was torn from top to bottom. All the food laws are obsolete.

Jesus summarised the law as to love God and love our fellow man. The life we now lead is by the Spirit and the Words of Jesus in the New Testament. The principles underlying the OT law still apply as a guide to us in how we should love our neighbour.

For example, in the OT, farmers were not allow to harvest their crops completely to maximise profits. They leave the harvest at the periphery of their fields to the poor. The principle of social responsibility as an act of love now provides a guide in which we in the contemporary church can use but we are free to express his principle in a manner in which the Spirit will guide us in our situation. If we owned a restaurant we could either have set aside certain free meals for the poor or donate some of our proceeds to a charity.

Certain OT laws mentioned explicitly in the NT continue to apply such as “for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, 10 the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers,” So these draw the boundaries of righteous behaviour and sin and they apply both in the OT and NT as the authors of the bible like Paul specifically apply them.

Ronald has noticed that the behaviour of one of the members of his worship team called Alfred had changed dramatically. On closer discussion, Alfred related that he has had a life changing experience because he had started abstaining from “unclean” foods like crabs. He celebrates his own Sabbath on Saturday and he no longer celebrates Christmas because he claims that it is a pagan festival. He was formerly a drug addict but once he started being faithful in these areas, his addiction completely disappeared. He enthusiastically started sharing his experience with his team mates on the worship team but he does not force his view down their throats.

What should Ronald do and why? Discuss