If this is your first viewing, please see my Introduction before reading this.
9 December. 1 Timothy chapters 1-6
The letters to Timothy are called “pastoral” because they are clearly addressed to one person, rather than a local church or Christians as a whole. Having served as Paul’s assistant, he seems to have been appointed as a church leader. The letter refers to “overseers” and “deacons” in the church – titles that have varied down the centuries from one part of the Church to another, but the basic idea remains that each congregation, or group of congregations in an area, should have one identifiable leader, and others who serve as part of a leadership team. So we might have a bishop and priests, or a pastor and elders, or a minister and deacons. Then there are specialist ministries that were not known by name in Paul’s time – youth leaders, readers, pastoral assistants and so on.
The overall intention of Paul’s letters to Timothy sees to have been threefold – to remind him to stick to teaching the Christian doctrines that Paul has passed on, and not be swayed by other forms of religion that he may encounter; to keep order in the church, seeing that the other leaders are suitably experienced and not bringing the church into disrepute by their way of life; and to maintain his own spiritual integrity.
As a Reader in the church myself (probably close to Paul’s concept of a deacon) I need to pay particular attention to how he says they should live – “serious, not double-tongued, not indulging in much wine, not greedy for money; they must hold fast to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience, and … blameless” (3:8-9). Later in the letter, he gives further instructions to Timothy that seem to apply to all deacons or other assistants in church leadership: “set the believers an example in speech and conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. Give attention to the public reading of scripture, to exhorting, to teaching” (4:12-13). If any of my friends and church colleagues are reading this, do remember to hold me to account!