by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 3 Paragraph # 3 Study # 1 Lincolnton, NC February 27, 2005
14 These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly:
15 But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.
1901 ASV Translation:
14 These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly;
15 but if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how men ought to behave themselves in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.
In verse 3:14 the Textus Receptus has "shortly" as a single word adverb. The Nestle/Aland 26 has a two-word prepositional phrase equivalent to "shortly".
I. Paul's Purpose for 1 Timothy.
A. He specifically says "these things I am writing to you ... in order that...".
1. Clearly Paul assumed that his "writing" would be understood by Timothy. The issue involved here is the ability of written material to communicate an author's true meaning.
2. That the letter ended up in the "canon" of Scripture strongly implies that Paul knew, and Timothy recognized, that the words were not less than Holy Scripture. The issue here is "canonicity": how did those "writings" which are in our Bible end up there and not the "writings" of others?
3. That the "writing" was attended by a "hope" that it would not really be necessary seems to be the implication of Paul's explanation for the letter. This brings up the issue of the untrustworthiness of human "anticipations" as "words of God" as well as the issue of God's foresightedness (omniscience) in providing for the generations to come in a way that would have been subverted if the "hope" had been trusted and the letter not written.
a. This raises the very real question of the nature of "hope". It is, obviously, not a matter of "faith". It is, rather, an expression of the desires a person holds within himself.
b. Now, if the "hope" is rooted in a valid understanding of the words of God, it is more than "just" a hope...it is the anticipation of a coming historical event.
4. The content of the "hope" was that he would be able to "come". This raises the question of whether "face to face" is "better" than "writings". Most assuredly "face to face" allows for the interaction of two so that any misunderstanding that might arise can be addressed. But, if "writings" can really be understood as to their real meaning and setting in the context of omniscience, "face to face" is not reallynecessary...just a good bit of "pondering" and "careful attention to the words"...tounderstanding. But, the problems of understanding when there is a resistance to the truth of the words can sometimes be overcome by "presence". Paul's own conversion experience shows that the message does not have the same impact as "presence" IF there is a significant level of resistance. But, the presence of Jesus did not do the same thing during His lifetime here as the presence of Jesus did on the Damascus road. There is the fact of "veiled glory" while Jesus was "incarnate". There is another issue here: Jesus' claim that it was "better" for Him to go away and to send the Comforter (John 16:7).
B. There is a very serious question here: are the "these things" a "divine order" or just Paul's opinions as they have developed from his own background and practices?
1. The question arises because the practice of churches which call themselves "Christian" are so far removed from Paul's "these things" that we are compelled to decide one of two things...
a. Either God doesn't really "care" how the Church of Jesus Christ is set up to function, ...
b. Or the professing "church" doesn't really "care" about doing things the way God has mandated them to be done.
2. Since it would be "foolish" for men to reject any divine counsel, it must be decided whether Paul's "these things" represent divine counsel or just human thinking.
3. Then there is the related question of how God responds to men who set aside His instructions for whatever cause...
a. There is a difference if the "cause" is ignorance.
b. The consequences of deliberate "cause" is far worse.
C. Though there is at least one case in Paul's writings that allows us to consider if his words carry divine weight or not (1 Corinthians 7:25 and 40), it is certainly not the norm for Paul to impose his mere opinions upon people.
1. Since there is no "good" reason for the "churches" to organize themselves in a way that signals a departure from Paul's words to Timothy, one has to wonder why they have done so. A serious consideration of this "why?" question will lead to one outstanding fact: men think they have a "better" way and do not desire to have to go to the trouble of depending upon God for the outcome He seeks.
2. Given the absence of a good reason for such a departure, even if Paul's words do not carry the weight of a divine mandate, it still isn't wise to depart; but, there is no good reason to believe that Paul's words here are just his opinion. This means that the departure is not from a "wise human opinion" but from an "all-wise divine mandate". This signals rebellion in the "churches" that is "glossed over" by the rebels so that they may continue to do things "their" way as opposed to submitting to the wisdom of God. Not a happy thought. For some reason men seem to think that having a "church" is more important than "faithfulness to God".
3. But we are not left with merely the "absence of a good reason for such a departure", for Paul said "...it is necessary..." (the translators render it "thou oughtest/men ought").