Vs. 7, “For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.” A timely reminder to put things into perspective. Paul continues the exhortation for the Ephesians to respond in a godly way. First he addresses how slaves should treat their masters (vs. 1-2), how one should regard those who are false teachers (vs. 3-5), and the danger of loving money (vs. 6-10). And in the last half of our chapter, Paul takes the time to address Timothy directly (vs. 11-21). He reminds Timothy to flee from these bad influences which reminds me of I Corinthians 10:13 where God always provides a way out. It would be wise for us to not engage in godless chatter (vs. 20) where it is not going to benefit continued dialogue with false teachers.
Regarding application…A Good Fight? Vs. 12, “Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” We tend to think fighting is always a bad thing. But, here we are reminded that life in many ways is a battlefield. There are fighting words to encourage Timothy to persevere and not give up. This fight is not with other believers, but with the enemy who is out to hurt us. I encourage you to listen to the sermon podcasts in our current series “Armor Up.” Let’s be prepared each day to put on the full armor of God and make our stand!
Vs. 1-2, “Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, 2 older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.” Question: How should we treat each other in the church? Just like we would treat our family at home, with respect and love. Paul then goes on to instruct Timothy about a very real issue of the day; widows (vs. 3-16). The life expectancy of men back then was usually around your mid-forties. The care of widows was important to the Jewish tradition. As the church grew, there was a concern in the number of widows and how the church responsibly dealt with them. Some widows were financially well off, while others were destitute. The latter half of our chapter (vs. 17-25) deals with the treatment of elders and our spiritual leaders. It seems there was certainly an issue that needed to be addressed. While the church should be responsible to assist financially those who devoted their life to service, the leaders also had to have accountability.
Regarding application…Wise Choices. Vs. 22, “Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, and do not share in the sins of others. Keep yourself pure.” The context of this verse is the decision making of the church leaders in choosing new leaders to serve. Yet, the application certainly stands out that we must be wise in the choices that we make. Don’t be hasty in going on instinct; deliberate, seek council, pray about it. The choices we make in life can certainly affect the very direction that we head down. The more we seek after God (keeping oneself pure), the more we will have the mind of the Lord.
Vs. 1, “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.” The Apostle Paul was sensitive to the direction of the Holy Spirit. We also remember that Jesus himself prophesied that there would be those who would come with a deceiving spirit (Matthew 24:11). The influence of this spiritual world is something we must remember we battle against (Ephesians 6). Paul makes sure to address two particular false teachings on the abstaining from marriage and certain foods (vs. 3-5). Some of the members in the church were buying into these superstitions (vs. 7). Paul exhorts young Timothy to remember his Godly training (vs. 6-10). And in the last section of our chapter, Paul powerfully inspires Timothy to keep up the good work (vs. 11-16).
Regarding application…Persevere. Vs. 16, “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.” We all should glean the wisdom that Paul exhorts to Timothy from this verse. Persevere. We get so busy in life that we can sometimes forget to be introspective and watch how we live this life. You may not all be called to be Pastor’s, but our lives should reflect our beliefs. We are all lights and examples to a world that is looking to us. How do we talk? How do act? What does our personal life look like? Persevere dearest brothers and sisters for His glory!
Vs. 1, “Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task.” Because of the false leaders, there were some who were aspiring to be leaders in the church for the wrong reasons. The church in Ephesus had been around long enough to have established leaders. But, Paul wanted to ensure that as the future progressed, they would have more guidelines on who to select. The two offices mentioned here by Paul are overseer and deacon. An overseer could comprise of bishops, Pastors, and elders and holding such a position was a highly responsible. A good measure of a person’s integrity is how they are able to manage their family life (vs. 2-5). But it was also important that they have a good moral character in their community (vs. 6-7). A deacon is translated from the Greek as a servant. They are assistants to the overseers so that they may concentrate more on the pastoral aspect. Yet, deacons also have a very high standard when it comes to Godly living and knowing the truths of God’s word (vs. 8-13). And in our last section of this passage, Paul goes on to exhort Timothy to remind the whole church how they should conduct themselves (vs. 14-15). The church should be the ones who help hold up the truth. And we can only do that through the mystery of true godliness in Jesus Christ (vs. 16).
Regarding application…Above Reproach. Vs. 2, “Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach.” To live above reproach is to be blameless. Question: What does this mean? Must we be perfect? No, but it does mean we should be people who strive to live a life that mirrors Christ. The church should be looking for such people and on the flipside, people should be striving to live such a way so that they may be ready. Living above reproach is just being a person of honor and integrity. It’s not having ulterior motives or selfish ambitions to serve. While we may all not be overseers of the church in our lives, the example of such Godly living should be followed by all. Whether we are an overseer, deacon or just a church member, all are exhorted in our chapter today to conduct ourselves in manner worthy of the Gospel.
Vs. 5, “For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus.” Question: Who do we pray to? Our mediator, who is Jesus(vs. 5-7)! There will always be reasons that we must put our dependence upon the Lord. Therefore, Paul exhorted Timothy and the Ephesians to put prayer of the utmost importance (vs. 1-4). People in Ephesus had stopped praying for their leaders and for others. This is an important reminder as we remember our own leaders with the elections coming up. The section on women should not offend us. The Christian history was quite progressive when it came to women’s rights. But, Paul was addressing the inappropriate dress and behavior some of the women in Ephesus were displaying. The culture at the time was that women were not even considered a person in many regards. The freedom of Christ liberated their value. But, their response swung too far on the pendulum of exercising their freedom in Christ. Whether we are male or female, their certainly is credence to dressing appropriately to church. The last few verses in our chapter (vs. 11-15), have created some debate in the church. Does Paul only mean the unique situation to the women in Ephesus? What was the original meaning from Paul? Do women have the right to be Pastor’s and teachers in the church? There are two major views Egalitarian (liberal) and complimentarian (conservative). These are real questions and issues. We certainly live in a different time where many would not be hindered by women leaders like in Paul’s time. No matter what you think about it, don’t let a thing like this cause division in the church.
Regarding application…Godliness. Vs. 2, “…that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” Godliness is a repeated theme through Paul’s letter to Timothy. People were calling themselves disciples of Christ, yet their actions and heart were far from Godly. People had their own selfish attitudes about how they wanted to make church, rather than defer to Godly leaders and the Holy Spirit. Question: What is Godliness? Having reverence for God. It’s respecting God with fear and awe in realizing that He is the author of our faith. He is the one we surrender to. The more we turn in Godliness in prayer, the bible and fellowship, the more we can live a godly life. When people struggle in the church, one very common denominator is they are not spending time enriching their lives with the Lord and others. Let us be a people who live Godly lives.
Vs. 3, “As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer.” As the early church grew in Ephesus, there was a growing concern for those who were leading people astray. The Lord used Paul to encourage Timothy to address these issues. Some were going outside the biblical text to stir up controversy (vs. 3-7). Teaching false doctrines are really about not believing in the truth. That is why a pure heart and sincere faith is so important (vs. 5). Paul goes on to address the topic of the law (vs. 8-11). Some false teachers were probably trying to exhort believers to revert back to the law. Yet, by misapplying the law, they were taking something that was good and perverted it. God’s law is good and is a reflection of His holiness. When we compare ourselves to God, we realize than the sinful nature of ourselves. It is the law that shows us our iniquities. Paul goes on to elaborate with his own powerful testimony as an example (vs. 12-17). If such a sinner like Paul could be used, how much more powerfully can the Lord use Timothy!
Regarding application…Fight the Good Fight. Vs. 18, “Timothy, my son, I am giving you this command in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by recalling them you may fight the battle well.” In the NIV 84 version, vs. 18 ends with our application title. You might have heard others say, “The Christian life is not a playground, but a battlefield.” I am in the midst of preaching a series on the full armor of God (Ephesians 6). I love the exhortation Paul gives to Timothy to continue to battle! Paul tells Timothy to hold on to the faith. Many of you know that life can get quite discouraging. There are times when we are going to want to give up. Like a badger, when our backs are against the wall, we must fight! Fight back today by holding onto the Lord!
Vs. 7, “For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.” Perspective folks…that’s what Paul gives to Timothy and those in Ephesus. Slaves continue to serve your masters, students continue to serve your teachers (by doing your best), employees continue to work hard because one day the treasures we will reap of the treasures from Heaven! Rich people…be very careful…very careful indeed, and to those who thought they knew it all…be careful in getting a big head. All of this was to warn them to be careful in how they lived, so that the Gospel would be more powerful! In a way, Paul is lecturing to them about some of their weaknesses.
Regarding application…Desire to be Rich. Vs. 9, “People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.” I can imagine picturing a room and in this room lays bags of Gold & Cash dispersed among it. As enticing as these bags may look, what you don’t know is that the moment you pick up these bags of Gold and money, there is a trap door that plunges you into a pit. The original goal was to simply start from one end of the room to the other, but all these bags of Gold are quite tempting. It’s like walking into a Spiritual minefield.
I think all of us have imagined winning the lottery! Wouldn’t it be great to pay off school debt, wouldn’t it be great to buy your Mom a nice home, wouldn’t it be great to buy the nicest things, wouldn’t it be great to give to charities (of course, we always throw that one in). Yet…the reality is…money can be far more harmful than good. Of course, we all need money to survive, but Paul is not talking about that type of money…Paul is talking about lots of money and riches. We think it would cure everything…when in reality…it can bring even more desires in our lives that we wouldn’t normally have. I urge you all to always remember to keep that perspective on money. There is so much more that God has to offer!
Vs. 21, “I charge you, in the sight of God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels, to keep these instructions without partiality, and to do nothing out of favoritism.” Question: What causes problems in churches? All too often…it is people not getting along with each other. By now, we are aware that brothers and sisters in Christ do not always live together in unity. Paul exhorts us to treat all members of the church like we would treat our own family (vs. 1-2). It really is simply a call to love others in the church…because, the church in Ephesus was not doing this as they should. And also, something to note: we see that Paul is instructing us to not just give help to anyone who is asking (Vs. 3-16)…we must be wise and realize they may be selfishly trying to get money and thereby leaving the real people in need without money.
Regarding application…Taking Care of Family. Vs. 8, “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” Amen…I have to give “props” to Koreans on this one =) We all in America sorely lack this direct command from God! It is so strong, that we are told we are worse than unbelievers (perhaps other cultures were taking care of their own…just like today). Brothers & Sisters in Christ…could it be any more clearer than this? Every time I go home to visit my Mom, I always tell her that she never needs to worry about who is going to take care of her. I suppose it’s the American way…but this is NOT God’s way! I would be incredibly disappointed if I ever found out that you were not taking care of your parents in their old age. This is not some suggestion…this is a mandate by God! Let us pray that we would pray for our family and relatives so that God would give us the right heart to joyfully care not only for their spiritual well being…but also for the physical well being.
Vs. 2, “Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.” The Ephesian church had been warned already about the coming of false doctrine. It isn’t the supposed growing intelligence of scholars, but the satanic influence of demons! So much that so called professed believers deny the basic doctrines of the Bible. The problem is not with the head…but with the heart! We also see Paul’s analogy that if we put effort into our spiritual lives like we do our physical, than we would surely grow too! Also, no matter hold old we are…we must do our best to live for God and not let others affect the way we live for Him!
Regarding application…Why We Are Diligent. Vs. 15, “Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress.” Though this may be directed towards Spiritual leaders in the church…I believe this applies to all of us! When we are dedicated to His Word, dedicated to Prayer and dedicated to serve…we all can help others progress in their walks with the Lord. Isn’t that what it’s about? It’s about helping all of us grow together…it isn’t just the Pastor’s job. All of us are part of one body. Our prayers, our attitudes, our servant like hearts…we all need to be rowing the boat together! That’s why we do S.A.G’s and have accountability, because we can’t do it on our own.
Vs. 14, “…I am writing you these instructions so that…” The church is an organism, a living and growing body united to Christ and the church is also an organization. In fact, every organism has to be organized or it will die. The human body is a living organism, but it is also a highly organized machine. If the local church is to do its task effectively, it must have leadership and that also means organization. Vs. 1, “Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task.” We are like sheep, we need shepherds to watch over us, protect us, and lead us. It is our Godly duty to pray for your spiritual leaders that they might more and more be what God wants them to be.
Regarding application…Living Above Reproach. Vs. 2, “Now the overseer must be above reproach…” This does not mean that leaders must be sinless…rather, it means that leaders must live in a way that the enemy cannot find a foothold on them. We see the importance of living in a way that people are not going to be hindered. But, I believe this doesn’t just apply for just Pastors, teachers, etc….this applies to those who take on a leadership role in the church…this also applies to student leaders. And if leaders struggle, than it is our responsibility to pray fro them…and their responsibility to be accountable! This is not about legalism…this is about doing our best to live in a way that can lead others to Christ! We live in this way because Christ did it for us…and now Christ lives in us. We live in such a way so that Christ, vs. 16, “He appeared in a body, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory.” can be truly displayed in this world! Let’s point this world to Christ by the way we live!