Thursday, March 31, 2011

Teach Sound Doctrine

Paul begins his first letter to Timothy (I Timothy 1:1-11) with a reminder of why he left Timothy at Ephesus. Paul had gone off to do other things, but he wanted someone to stay behind to teach the Christians at Ephesus sound doctrine. Paul is asking Timothy to continue to do what Paul had asked him to do. In much of the rest of the letter, we learn what Paul believes is sound doctrine.

Paul encourages Timothy to avoid fables and endless genealogies that promote questions. So often, people come up with some of the strangest things. They’ll tell stories about something they saw or something they heard and then try to make some kind of doctrinal sense out of it. Someone will think they’ve seen an angel or they’ll have heard someone talking about the end of the world on television or who knows what and then they have to bring it up and ask questions about. It is easy to get drawn into trying understand whatever it is and then trying to answer the questions, but in the end it does little to teach people sound doctrine.

Beginning with verse five, Paul encourages Timothy to handle the law in the right way. He points out that some have turned away from the “aim of the commandment.” The law is good (verse 8), but it can be used in the wrong way. If people would love each other like they should, we wouldn’t need the law, but people don’t. We have all manner of evildoers who need to see what God says is right and wrong. It is good to teach the law and to point out what is right and wrong, but it should be done so with an understanding of the purpose of the law, not just the letter of the law.