I TIMOTHY 3
CHRIST CAME TO SAVE SINNERS
Our emphasis in these essays is on concepts which are found in the text and which can be applied to our lives to enhance our spiritual growth. However, there are times when
it is necessary to clarify some of the information which is historical and didactic in order to get the true meaning out of the text. As Paul writes this letter to Timothy, he is
addressing a heresy that is troubling the church and that he is instructing Timothy to combat.
There were two sources of difficulty for the early church in the pagan world. One was from the unbelieving Jews, but the other was from a group of intellectuals among the
Greek philosophers, known as the Gnostics. They believed in two gods. One, the “evil” god, was the creator of the world and everything material was, to them, evil. The good
god was all spiritual and never touched the material world. This caused them to feel that a man could do anything he wanted with his body for it was evil anyway. There were
other complicated parts to this philosophical theory, but the intellectuals felt that anyone who did not believe this was an ignorant fool. Some of the church leaders had fallen
for this supercilious philosophy, and were trying to incorporate it into their teaching in the church.
Involved in the Gnostic teaching was a fascination for genealogies. It was said that Alexander the Great had a genealogy created for him that traced his origin back to two
of the chief Greek gods. However, the Jews were also very much into genealogies, as one finds in the Old Testament scriptures, and also in the beginning of Matthew’s and Luke’s
gospels. Paul considered this a waste of time, and only took attention away from the essential gospel of Jesus Christ.
This is what Paul is warning Timothy about when he speaks of “meaningless talk”. The Greeks loved to talk and argue, with no conclusion and no action called for. Paul is
opposed to speculative philosophy, and says that those who claim to be law teachers, but engage in such, simply do not know what they are talking about. If one examines the
issues which men have brought up to divide the church over the past century, I think they will have to agree with Paul. Anyone who interprets some legal point to the destroying
of the fellowship and oneness of the family of God is simply applying something he obviously knows nothing about. A gospel teacher is one who strives above all else to maintain
the love and union of God’s family.
Paul says the law is good “if a man uses it properly”. He says that it condemns all forms of immoral and ungodly behavior, and a gospel teacher should condemn all of that
violation of the law. But, he defines “sound doctrine” as preaching “the glorious gospel…which has been entrusted to me”. In another place Paul defined this as “knowing
nothing among them except Jesus Christ and Him crucified”.
He concludes this part of his instructions to Timothy by saying, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”. He emphasizes that the gospel is one of God’s mercy and
forgiveness. It is not a gospel of rules and regulations which, if broken, condemn the sinner to banishment. Only flagrant ungodliness is condemned by the law. All other
mistakes by those who believe in Christ and accept His salvation, are covered by His shed blood. Otherwise none of us could have any hope of salvation.