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The Charge to the Minister – 1 Timothy 1:18-20


Timothy Gets His Battle Orders

Text: 1 Tim 1:18-20
In this study, let’s see the details of Paul’s charge to Timothy, a young Christian worker:-

1. WARRIORS – Called to the Task! This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare,
Paul reminds Timothy of his calling to serve the Lord. Timothy’s ministry was marked by:-

  1. A personal calling. Again Paul speaks of Timothy as being his son, his child. It’s a personal call to Timothy!
  2. A prophetic calling. Timothy had a rather unique ordination it seems, but whatever it was, the Bible has not revealed it to us. yet we know it was unique for consider these passages: 1 Timothy 4:14 Acts 13:1-4, Acts 13:1-4, 2 Timothy 1:6 .  Timothy’s ministry had been ratified by a prophetic utterance of some sort – remember these were the days before the Canon was complete, and perhaps there was some form of God given message to Timothy…
  3. A proactive calling. Timothy is to wage the good warfare, to fight the good fight! Note that Timothy’s battle is to be:
    1. Waged! Timothy is not at Ephesus to see the sights or to enjoy the hospitality.
    2. A Good Fight! Now the fact that Paul specifically tells Timothy to wage a GOOD warfare is very significant indeed. It implies that there is a type of warfare that is NOT good! Given the overall tenor of Paul’s letter, it would seem that a warfare that is NOT GOOD is one that is pursued between Christians! What would this look like?
      1. A battle over minor issues?
      2. A battle over personalities?
      3. A battle over trivia?
        All of these battles are a waste of the Christian’s energy and a waste of his spiritual resources, and a poor witness to the outside world. On the contrary the GOOD FIGHT is the battle that is waged against the evil of this world – against the world and the flesh and the devil, through the Word of God and Prayer.
    3. A Constant Battle! It’s unlikely that this battle will end before Jesus returns to take us home. We must be patient and continue to face the foe.

So this is Paul’s commission at Ephesus by Paul. He is to wage warfare for the Lord, and he must demonstrate courage to rally the troops who are fighting with him.

2. WEAPONS – Equipped for the Task! 19 holding faith and a good conscience.
So Timothy was to be proactive – he was to ‘wage warfare!’ Hardly a description of ministry that many people nowadays would recognise! Yet a pastor is a soldier-shepherd! He must not just feed the sheep, but he must protect them from wolves. To be successful in that task would require two important attributes:

  1. Faith! He would need to trust the Lord – especially in those dark days, when things in the congregation seemed to be against him. Faith in God, – in the darkest times!
  2. Ethics! How would a good conscience affect Timothy’s ministry? A conscience, sharpened and guided by God’s Word, as Luther’s was, is an essential element in Christian leadership. The preaching of the Word, must be accompanied by a life lived with a good conscience, and it’s moral out-working. 1 Tim 4:16

Is it possible to say that an effective ministry in the face of the evil onslaught of this world requires both biblical fidelity, and moral integrity? To lack these characteristics would be a disaster! It would be a real shipwreck!

3. TRAITORS – Disqualified from the Task! By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, 20among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.
Paul gives us two examples of faithless, unethical ministry, and unlike the modern practice, he names names, points the finger, singles out people for rebuke…

  • Alexander. Is this the same Alexander that Paul mentions in 2 Tim 4:14. Timothy is to watch this man carefully, he’s dangerous!
  • Hymenaeus. Now we know a bit more about him, for we read in 2 Timothy 2:16-18

Paul’s actions re these people:
To deliver them to Satan:- Paul is praying that God will remove the hedge of protection from these people, and will use a Satanic attack to discipline them! Let’s see is such a thing possible…

  • Ananias and Saphira. Acts 5:3.
  • Elymas. Acts 13:9.
  • Job. 1:12
  • Paul himself. 2 Corinthians12:7

To teach them not to blaspheme. So it is perfectly possible for Paul to pray that some fleshly discipline would befall these erring, backsliding, Christians, in the hope that being stricken in body might bring them to repentance and a return to faith in Christ.  So, should we pray prayers like that? We could, but what danger we would be in for we might find ourselves praying such a prayer with wrong motives. And what of those who would listen to us, – would they not have cause to question our motives?

The lessons we learn from this passage are simple ones… We are called by God to wage a warfare – not a single battle, but a lifelong campaign against the evil one, and all his forces, we are to be careful that we are actually fighting the right battle, against the right foe, and we are to be wary of those within our ranks, who have turned that battle inward, and so assisted the enemy in his task. Such traitors are to be warned, and to be pointed out to others, so that they do not damage their faith, – and in the hope that the traitors themselves may be won back into the ranks.

© Bob McEvoy

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