The Expository Files


Stop Preaching The Wrong Message!

1 Timothy 1:1-4



Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope,  To Timothy, my true child in the faith:  Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.  As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith. – 1 Tim. 1:1-4

Think of this part of the New Testament as letters from God to Timothy through Paul. Paul, the apostle, is instrumental in this work, not the originator of the content. Indication of this lies right in the opening sentence: “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus, our hope, to Timothy…” Paul, based on age, experience, education and faith, had much to offer any young evangelists. But this epistle constitutes more than just the wisdom of an old preacher. Think: from God through Paul to Timothy. Paul was under charge to God, as an apostle of Christ, to deliver (orally and in writing) only what God desired people to hear, pertaining to Jesus Christ and man’s response to Him.

Four concerns emerge immediately in chapter one, with consistent follow-up after. First, there is the danger of false teachers and how Timothy needs to respond to them. Second, everything Timothy does and says must be “in accordance with the gospel.” He is not an independent speaker, writer or leader. Rather, he lives and works under a charge that is divine. Third, at the center of everything Timothy is to say and do, there is this central truth: Jesus Christ came to save sinners. Fourth, as expressed in verse 17 of the first chapter, all of this is to be done toward “the only God,” and to Him, “be honor and glory forever and ever.”

The reader receives the signal of urgency in verse 3: “As I urged you…” That’s a form of our English word “urgent,” and it lifts the content of this passage above trivia, pleasantries or informational memos.

As Paul went to Macedonia, he asked Timothy to “remain at Ephesus,” for a very specific purpose: “so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine.” This wasn’t like, “please occupy this location and just be there and engage in good work generally.” Paul (remember this is from God) was specific. Timothy was to be there to do something: “charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine.”

That tells us what was happening in Ephesus that required such urgency. There were men teaching something different than the true gospel! Moving further through the context, we discover the false teachers were devoting themselves to myths and endless genealogies, promoting speculation, swerving and wandering into vain discussions. These men thought they deserved to be teachers, but they were not qualified – either by character or knowledge.

In view of this, Timothy was to speak up! It was no time to just be a silent observer. God, through Paul, instructs the young evangelist to “charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine.” He is to speak directly to the false teachers and tell them they are delivering the wrong message.

All of this expresses to us plainly: There is only one message from God worthy of preaching; the gospel delivered by the apostles and written on the pages of the New Testament. Nothing else has the power to get people out of sin and keep them pure. Nothing else guides us in belief and practice. Nothing else honors and glorifies God and properly responds to the cross of Christ.

In our modern society, plurality is celebrated. The common view is – Believe anything, do what you want, make up your own religion, find some celebrity preacher or leader, latch on to some human tradition if you want; it doesn’t matter. That’s not what the apostles of Christ said.

So, here is this young preacher doing his work among Christians in Ephesus, and trying to teach the lost. Against that good work, there are “certain persons” preaching a different message. In addition to that, their behavior and their agenda is not productive of healthy spiritual life. Timothy must accept the challenge to charge these people to stop teaching false doctrine. This was not an easy assignment, but he was entrusted with this duty.

For us today, the reality continues. Some preach another gospel (Gal. 1:6-10). Our silence betrays our loyalty to God and aids those who spread error.


  By Warren E. Berkley
From Expository Files 22.2; February 2015