1 Timothy 3-6

If I asked the question, "What version of Windows do you use?" many of you immediately would understand my question--probably better than I do. The computer program referred to as "Windows" makes it easier for a person to access and use all his or her computer programming. I am certain that it was no accident that the term "windows" was chosen.

The window powerfully blesses our lives. The basic functions of a window are to allow light and air to come into a building. The basic purpose of the window is to make life easier.

The window is associated with seeing. It allows me to see outside. It allows me to see inside. It is obvious why the window was associated with seeing and understanding. As a result, we associate the word "window" with insights. Therefore we can talk about the windows of a person's heart, or a person's mind, or a person's behavior. If I "provide a window" for you, I create an opportunity for you to gain insight into my life and my person. Windows provide insight. Insight provides understanding. Understanding provides guidance.

We are constantly looking for windows that provide insights into life. The Christian understands that Christianity is about life. He or she understands that the Bible provides insights into life. However, we need some "windows" into the Christians' lives in the 1st century A.D. if the New Testament is to yield insights into life today.

I was asked to complete the lessons I started from 1 Timothy. This evening I want us to allow 1 Timothy to provide us some "windows" into Christian life in the 1st century A.D. in the area of Asia Minor. In turn, I want us to allow those "windows" to give us some insight into life today.

  1. Paul's work in the city of Ephesus began in the early 50's AD.
    1. The church in Ephesus had been in existence since at least Acts 19.
      1. Paul taught in the synagogue of the Jews for three months until some became hard and disobedient (19:9).
      2. Then he taught in the school of Tyrannus for two years (19:9,10).
      3. During this time Paul performed some extraordinary miracles (19:11).
    2. The result: Christianity had a significant impact on this major city in Asia Minor.
      1. Ephesus was an important center of the magical arts practiced for spiritual purposes (we would refer to it as an important center of the occult).
        1. The sons of Sceva attempted to cast out a demon by using the names of Christ and Paul (19:13-20).
        2. As a result they suffered tragedy and many who practiced the magical arts publicly burned their books (the books were worth 50,000 pieces of silver--a fortune in that day!).
        3. That is definite evidence of the influence of Christianity.
      2. The riot sparked by the complaint of Demetrius, the silversmith, verifies the influence of Christianity in Ephesus.
        1. The great temple honoring Artemis was located in Ephesus.
        2. It was the center of a world religion and was a powerful banking institution.
        3. If Christianity had an impact on the temple of Artemis, this is a major evidence of its influence.

  2. Ephesus had elders before 1 Timothy was written. (It was probably written in the early 60's AD [See Acts 20:17]).
    1. When Paul wrote 1 Timothy to Timothy, the church in Ephesus was an established congregation.
      1. The concerns that Paul addressed in this letter gives us "windows" that allow us to see some of the realities facing the church in Asia Minor.
      2. Paul's concerns are "peep holes" into their world.
      3. If Paul addressed a concern, that matter dealt with an existing need, problem, or situation.
    2. Chapter three discussed the kind of persons who should be elders and deacons.
      1. Ephesus needed to add more men to work as elders with their existing eldership.
      2. Paul's comments about the kind of man who should be an elder provides us some "windows." [See related sermon.]
        1. Window # 1: being an elder was a work, not a position, and that work should be done by a man who wanted to do it.
          1. If a man did not want to do that work, he should not be coerced to do it.
          2. Today, to me, this is the window: qualified men who want to do that work should do it; when a man wants to resign, let him.
          3. A man who does not want to do the work should not be given the work.
        2. Window # 2: a view of the kind of man who should be given the work:
          1. He had developed the positive traits of Christian character and behavior.
          2. He was not enslaved to the common activities of the people who do not care about God and Christ: he was not a drunkard or a materialist.
          3. The way he worked with his family demonstrated that he knew how to work with people.
          4. He was an experienced, respected Christian.
      3. Paul's comments about those capable of being deacons also provides us some windows.
        1. Window # 1: they should be genuinely converted.
        2. Window # 2: the genuineness of their conversion was evident in their behavior.
        3. Window # 3: they were involved Christians prior to serving as deacons.

  3. In chapter four I see two primary windows.
    1. Window # 1: tough times are coming; realize that Christianity in Asia Minor will not always enjoy the status of being a powerful influence for Christ.
      1. The events in the incident created by Sceva's sons were good times from a Christian perspective.
      2. The fact that Demetrius could promote a riot in protest of Christian influence were good times from a Christian perspective.
      3. Because Christianity was so successful and influential during its early years, Christians easily assumed that those times would continue.
      4. Paul said that was not the case; do not be deceived.
      5. Revelation was written to the church in this area which included, by name, the church at Ephesus. The bad times came, and they were really bad.
    2. Window # 2 emphasized some of Timothy's responsibilities, responsibilities that he must remember.
      1. Responsibility # 1: do not let Christians forget.
      2. Responsibility # 2: preserve your credibility.
      3. Responsibility # 3: use your gifts.
      4. Responsibility # 4: pay attention to yourself. (It is so easy to become so focused on other people that you do not look at yourself.)

  4. In chapters five and six it is obvious that they had relationship problems.
    1. Relationship problems in the church at Ephesus were a serious problem that created serious struggles.
      1. They had difficulty learning how to relate to various groups in the Christian community.
        1. Older men (the "gray hairs"?)
        2. Younger men
        3. Older women
        4. Younger women
        5. Older widows
        6. Younger widows
        7. Elders
        8. Slaves
      2. Respect was a significant problem in learning how to treat each other.
    2. The benevolent care practiced by the Christian community created problems.
      1. Older widows who had lived their lives as godly women should be provided for by the Christian community. Who are these women?
      2. Younger widows should remarry. Why?
      3. Widows who had families should be cared for by their own families.
      4. Those who could take the burden off the Christian community should do so.
      5. Clearly, they had benevolent questions, benevolent issues, and benevolent problems.

  5. Chapter six closes the letter by challenging Timothy to keep his focus.
    1. As a Christian preacher, keep your priorities straight.
      1. As a preacher, I confess that is a complicated thing to do.
      2. It becomes more complicated when others want to impose their priorities on you.
    2. Remember that the objective of godliness is not making a lot of money.
    3. Know what to run from, and know what to stand for.
    4. Understand that spiritual success is not measured by the yardstick of wealth.

To me, one of the huge picture windows that 1 Timothy provides us is this: being a Christian takes any man or woman out of the common flow of an unbelieving culture. Christianity makes the lives of believers different from the lives of unbelievers. It always has; it always will.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Evening Sermon, 19 December 1999
previous in series

 Link to next sermon

 Link to other Writings of David Chadwell