The church at Ephesus was probably plagued by the same heresy that threatened the church at Colosse - the false doctrine that to be acceptable to God, a person had to gain certain "hidden knowledge" and worship angels (Colossians 2:8, 18). Thinking that it would aid in their salvation, some Ephesians constructed mythical stories based on Old Testament history or genealogies. The false teacher weremotivated by their own interests rather than Christ's. They embroiled the church in endless and irrelevant questions and disputes, taking precious time away from the study of the truth. Today we could also enter into worthless and irrelevant discussions, but such disputes crowd out the life-changing message of Christ. Stay away from religious speculation and pointless theological arguing. Such exercises may seem harmless at first, but they have a way of sidetracking us from the central message of the Gospel the person and the work of Jesus Christ. They expend time we should use to share the Gospel with others.
The false teachers were motivated by a spirit of curiosity and a desire to gain power and prestige. By contrast, genuine Christian teachers are motivated by sincere faith and a desire to do what is right. It may be exciting to impress people with our great "knowledge," but position based on falsehood is ultimately empty. Teachers and leaders who truly follow Christ will find lasting, eternal rewards as they see his truth spread throughout the world and his love transform people everywhere.
"Them that defile themselves with mankind" refers to homosexuals. There are those who attempt to legitimize homosexuality as an acceptable alternative life-style. Even some Christians say people have a right to choose their sexual preference. But the Bible specifically calls homosexual behavior sin (See Leviticus 18:22; Romans 1:18-32; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11). We must be careful, however, to condemn only the practice, not the people. Those who commit homosexual acts are not to be feared, ridiculed, or hated. They can be forgiven, and their lives can be transformed. The church should be a haven of forgiveness and healing for repentant homosexuals without compromising its stance against homosexual behavior. For more on this subject see the notes on Romans 1:26,27
Jesus came into the world to save sinners, and no sinner is beyond his saving power. Jesus didn't come just to show us how to live or to challenge us to be better people. He came to offer us salvation that leads to eternal life. Have you accepted his offer? If not, today you can!
How can you keep your conscience clear? Treasure your faith in Christ more than anything else and do what you know is right. Each time you deliberately ignore your conscience, you are hardening your heart. Over a period of time your capacity to tell right from wrong will diminish. But as you walk with God, he will speak to you through your conscience, letting you know the difference between right and wrong. Be sure to act on those inner tugs so that you do what is right then your conscience will remain clear.
We human beings are separated from God by sin, and only one person in the universe is our mediator and can stand between us and God and bring us together again - Jesus, who is both God and man. Jesus' sacrifice brought new life to all mankind. Have you let him bring you to the Father?
Besides being displeasing to God, it is difficult to pray when we have sinned or when we feel angry and resentful. That is why Jesus told us to interrupt worship, if necessary, to make peace with others (Matthew 5:23, 24). Our goal should be to have a right relationship with God and also with others.
There are several interpretations of this verse: (1) Man sinned and so men were condemned to hard labor. Woman sinned and so women were condemned to pain in childbearing. Both man and women, however, can be saved through trusting Christ and obeying him. (2) Women who fulfill their God-given roles are demonstrating true commitment and obedience to Christ. One of the most important roles for a wife and mother is to care for her family. (3) The childbirth mentioned here refers to the birth of Jesus Christ. Women (and men) are saved spiritually because of the most important birth, that of Christ himself. (4) From the lesson learned through the trials of childbearing, women can develop qualities that teach them about love, trust, submission, and service.
Christian workers and volunteers sometimes make the mistake of thinking their work is so important that they are justified in ignoring their families. Spiritual leadership, however, must begin at home. If a man is not willing to care for, discipline, and teach his children, he is not qualified to lead the church.
New believers should become secure and strong in the faith before taking leadership roles in the church. Too often, when the church is desperate for workers, they place new believers into positions of responsibility for which they are unqualified. New faith needs time to mature. New believers should have a place of service, but they should not be put into leadership positions until they are firmly grounded in their faith, with a solid Christian life-style and a knowledge of the Word of God.
It is good to want to be a spiritual leader, but the standards are high. Paul enumerates some of the qualifications here. Do you hold a position of spiritual leadership, or would you like to be a leader some day? Check yourself against Paul's standard of excellence. Those with great responsibility must meet high expectations.
The lists of qualifications for church office show that living a blameless and pure life requires effort and self-discipline. All believers, even if they never plan to be church leaders, should strive to follow these guidelines because they are consistent with what God says is true and right. The strength to do so comes from Christ.
To be a church leader is a heavy responsibility because the church belongs to the living God. Church leaders should not be elected because they are popular, nor should they be allowed to push their way to the top. Instead they should be chosen by the church because of their respect for truth, both in doctrine and in their personal lives.
In opposition to the false teachers, Paul affirmed that everything God made is good (see Genesis 1). We should ask his blessing on his created gifts that give us pleasure and thank him for them. This doesn't mean we should abuse what God has made (For example, gluttony abuses God's gift of good food, lust abuses God's gift of love, and murder abuses God gift of life). Instead of abusing, we should enjoy these gifts by using them to serve and honor God. Have you thanked God for the good things he has made? Are you using them in a way that is pleasing to you and to God?
Timothy was a young pastor. It would have been easy for older Christians to look down on him because of his youth. He had to earn the respect of his elders by setting an example in his teaching, life, love, faith, and purity. Regardless of your age, God can use you. Whether you are young or old, don't think of your age as a handicap. Live so others can see Christ in you.
As a young leader in a church with a lot of problems, Timothy may have felt intimidated. The elders and prophets encouraged him and charged him to use his spiritual abilities responsibly. Highly skilled and talented athletes lose their abilities if their muscles aren't toned by constant use, and we will lose our spiritual gifts if we don't put them to work. Out talents are improved by exercise, but failing to use them causes them to waste away from lack of practice and nourishment. What gifts and abilities has God given you? Use them regularly in serving God and others. (See Romans 12:1-8; 2 Timothy 1:6-8 for more on using well the abilities God has given us.)
Almost everyone had relatives, family of some kind. Family relationships are so important in God's eyes, Paul says, that a person who neglects his family responsibilities should not call himself a Christian. Are you doing your part to meet the needs of those included in your family circle?
Church leaders are not exempt from sin, faults, and mistakes. But they are often criticized for the wrong reasons-minor imperfections, failure to meet someone's expectations, personality clashes. Thus, Paul said that complaints should not even be heard unless two or three witnesses confirm them. Sometimes church leaders should be confronted about their behavior, and sometimes they should be rebuked. But all rebuking must be done fairly, lovingly, and for the purpose of restoration.
"Lay hands suddenly on no man" means not to appoint church leaders quickly. Paul says a church should never be hasty about choosing its leaders, especially the pastor, for we may overlook major problems or sins. It is a serious responsibility to choose church leaders. They must have strong faith and live upright lives, having the qualities described in 1 Timothy 3:1 - 13 and Titus 1:5 - 9. Not everyone who wants to be a church leader is eligible. Be certain of an applicant's qualifications before asking him to be a leader in the church.
Paul told Timothy to stay away from those who just wanted to make money from preaching, and from those who strayed from the sound teaching of the Gospel into minute doctrinal differences that caused strife in the church. Division within the church often begins with quibblings over minute points of theology. This leads to all sorts of problems. A person's understanding of the finer points of theology should not become the basis for lording it over others or making money. Instead, theology should always unify the church. Stay away from those who just want to argue.
Despite almost overwhelming evidence to the contrary, most people still believe that money brings happiness. Rich people craving greater riches can be caught in an endless cycle that only ends in ruin and destruction. How can you keep away from the love of money? Paul gives us some guidelines:
1. realize that one day riches will all be gone (1 Timothy 6:7, 17).
2. be content with what you have (1 Timothy 6:8).
3. Monitor what you are willing to do to get more money (1 Timothy 6:9, 10).
4. Love people more than money (1 Timothy 6:11).
5. Love God's work more than money (1 Timothy 6:11).
6. Freely share what you have with others (1 Timothy 6:18).
(see Proverbs 30:7-9 for more on avoiding the love of money.)