In our survey of the Bible, we come now to a section of three special function letters written to individuals. First Timothy, Second Timothy, and Titus are all written to young pastors. The Apostle Paul is instructing them in doctrine, pastoral responsibility, and church order. Before getting down to those affairs, Paul pointed out some basic and wonderful truths about the Savior. In 2:5, right after telling us that God desires for every person to be saved, Paul declares Christ to be our Mediator, bridging the chasm between mankind and the Father. In the very next verse, Christ is declared to be the Ransom given for us at just the right time. Later in the midst of a passage on pastoral responsibility in 6:15, Paul breaks out into praise pointing out that Christ is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords. Hallelujah and Amen!
Paul had left Timothy in the city of Ephesus to continue the work started by Paul. Timothy was apparently having a difficult time. Ephesus was not a particularly inviting place for a minister of the gospel. The city’s economy was closely tied to the industry making false idols. Sexual immorality was a part of the false religion dominating the city. According to Paul’s first letter to Timothy, Timothy was not being given the proper respect by members of the church. Also according to this letter, Timothy was suffering from some health problems. Timothy was in need of encouragement from Paul. Don’t forget that Timothy was following a strong and forceful leader as pastor of the church, Paul himself. Timothy needed a confirmation of his position and assignment in writing, which Paul delivered in verse 3 of the first chapter. Paul reminded Timothy several times in First Timothy to faithfully teach sound doctrine and to oppose false teaching. It appears that the false teaching was not so much heresy, but rather time wasting, focus diverting, speculation and chasing of trivialities.
It seems to me that the golden nugget of First Timothy is found in 3:15 where Paul expresses his purpose for writing, “I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth.” NASU Scripture is plainly saying that there is indeed an expected standard of behavior for the church. What exactly is the “household” of God? Other translations use “house” of God. Both are accurate. I think household better captures the whole meaning, which would include not only the building, but also the people of God and the teaching of God. However, it does include the building itself. It seems that a certain reverence ought to be expected for the meeting place, the building. It is possible to take that idea too far. Driving unbelieving sinners (think parents of young children, etc.) away from the building before they have a chance to meet the Savior is not showing the proper respect for God’s house. Allowing those who know better to be disrespectful of God’s house without calling them to account is not treating God’s house with respect either. Failing to train new believers in God’s expectations is not treating God’s house with respect either. As believers and leaders in the church, we ought to model and teach a proper respect for God’s house. The best way that I can think of to do that is by inviting and welcoming unlearned sinners, not worrying about their seeming disrespect for the time being, until we can lead them to the Savior. Then, after they are no longer blind, it will be so much easier to train them.