After greeting Timothy, Paul warns against false teachers. In Ephesus (where Timothy was stationed), this was a problem. Paul then gives himself as an example of what the gospel, properly taught, can truly achieve. His life was completely changed because of the mercy he had been given by Jesus. False gospels do not have this power, and Paul entrusts Timothy with properly identifying false teachers.
In 1 Timothy 2, Paul urges Timothy to pray for all people, as Jesus desired all to be saved. To this end, the church must be orderly so that it may be of one mind. Men must abstain from anger, and women must be modest. Chapter 3 explains the qualifications for church leaders. Leaders have a high standard to live up to, which includes abstaining from sexual immorality, greed, too much drink, and so on. They must also be upright, respectable, and willing to teach.
In 1 Timothy 4, Paul says that the Holy Spirit declares that some people will unfortunately depart from the faith, not helped by the false teachings within the church. Timothy is to preach the truth and thus be a good servant of Jesus. Godliness is of greatest importance because it has value both in this life and in the life in heaven, so Timothy is to both practice it and model it for others. 1 Timothy 5 and the beginning of chapter 6 contain several instructions for the church, providing examples on how this godliness is to be lived out. In general, people in all stages of life are to be respected. Finally, Paul wraps up the letter with a final charge to “fight the good fight of the faith”, to protect it from those who would declare false things about it.
Who wrote it?
1 Timothy 1:1 names Paul as the author.
Who was it written to?
1 Timothy 1:2 names the recipient as Timothy, one of Paul’s most prominent coworkers in the faith.
When was it written?
When Paul reached Rome, he was imprisoned twice, once in 62 A.D., and the second time when he was executed later that decade, possibly in 68 A.D. Traditionally, 1 Timothy is between those two, so we are looking at the mid-60s.
Why was it written?
1 Timothy was written to inform Timothy about leading a church, and the expectations of those people like Timothy who would lead.
How does 1 Timothy apply to me?
While relatively few of us may be called to lead a church, that does not excuse us from living out many, if not all, of the qualifications set here for elders in 1 Timothy 3. It is certainly a good thing for EVERYBODY to live above reproach, having no more than one husband or wife, being of sober mind and self-control, etc. Also, it is a wonderful thing for a Christian to be knowledgeable about their faith, having a solid foundation with which to confidently separate truth from falsehoods. This comes from reading the Bible, praying, and being active in a spiritually healthy church with people you can gladly go to for instruction.
As for all posts in this series, a book introduction in a good study Bible will provide more information than listed here. The ESV Study Bible is one recommendation.
The Bible Project video on 1 Timothy
Biblical illustrations by Jim Padgett, courtesy of Sweet Publishing, Ft. Worth, TX, and Gospel Light, Ventura, CA. Copyright 1984. Released under new license, CC-BY-SA 3.0