"Strange Doctrine"
(An exegesis of 1 Timothy 1)

"...The law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine." (1 Tim 1.9-10)

Did you know that out of 150 verses in Psalm 119, the focus of 149 of them is the Word of God? King David says over and over, in as many ways as he can think of, "God, I LOVE Your Truths! I can't live without Your Word! I need Scripture in my life every single day!"

Most of us don't think about doctrine being part of our daily lives. But it is. Doctrine (didaskalia) is simply the collection of received teachings by which we live. Everyone lives by a collection of doctrines. The atheist makes decisions out of a belief in self; the post-modernist acts a certain way out of confidence in the universe; and most Americans strive for corporate success because we affirm the doctrine of capitalism. The reasons we do those things is because we each cling to certain doctrines.

In 1 Timothy 1.3 Paul explains the setting in which Timothy is ministering. Why is he in Ephesus? To "charge certain persons not to teach strange doctrine." This is important. If the human mind runs on a collection of doctrines, causing the body to function in specific ways, how much more does the Body of Christ run and function on doctrine?

This is why the introduction of new "strange" doctrines was such a huge issue. Very much worth devoting Timothy--one of the early Church's top teachers--to the correction of the problem!

Paul urges Timothy to contend for sound doctrine. In 1 Tim 1.5, the charge (paraggelia) he's referring to is the same charge he mentioned in verse 3 (paraggello). And then he explains why. He says the result of this sound doctrine is "love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith."

He then goes on to explain the opposite. What happens when you abandon this sound doctrine? Well, you get exactly what you'd expect to get:
  • Myths
  • Endless genealogies
  • Vain discussion (1 Tim 1.4,6)
But oddly enough, Paul doesn't stop there. He proceeds to list a plethora of serious sins:
  • Lawlessness
  • Disobedience
  • Ungodliness
  • Unholiness
  • Profanity
  • Striking fathers and mothers
  • Murder
  • Sexually immorality
  • Homosexuality
  • Enslavery
  • Lying
  • Perjury
And he lumps these right in with "whatever is contrary to sound doctrine!" (1 Tim 1.9-10) But Paul! Don't you know, the opposite of sound doctrine is heresy, not wickedness? Paul doesn't see it that way. It seems pretty clear to him that if you lack confident conviction (pistis, "faith") in sound doctrine, you're a condemned, unregenerate sinner. Wow. That's harsh, no?

In 1 Tim 1.15 he reiterates the Truth that Timothy must protect: "This saying [that is, this doctrine] is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance:
That Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost."

That is the Gospel.

Doctrine matters. Theology matters. The way you view God matters. Not only does it affect your everyday actions, it affects your eternal standing before God (see 1 Tim 1.19-20).

Yet, we know that God in His mercy is mighty to save. Paul doesn't take credit for having this "right understanding" of doctrine. He says he owes it all to God's grace (1 Tim 1.14). And for this, our Savior deserves ALL the glory.

"To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, 
be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen." 
(1 Tim 1.17)

I'm the type that draws out my studies with diagrams and arrows and charts. I thought I'd throw it in for you visual types.

A Diagram of 1 Timothy 1:

1 comment:

  1. Theology is absolutely what we breath and live each and everyday. Most Theologians have created a wide gulf between themselves and the "layman". Most ordinary Christians never set themselves to study doctrine, because 1)They don't realize how much it affects how they live, walk, and make decisions everyday 2)They have this concept that Theologians are those that have been to 4 years of Bible college, and thus they should just listen to them, and not seek out truth themselves. I've definitely witnessed that the average believer believes DOZENS of doctrines, and yet has no idea why they believe them. They don't know where it is in scripture (if at all), they can't support it, but yet they whole heartedly believe it and will even defend it. It is an odd thing to witness someone fight for something they don't understand, can't support, and don't know why they believe it. I think there will be great transformation in the Body of Christ when Christians start realizing that they need to think for themselves. Not to say the Teaching gift mentioned in more than one place in the NT isn't very necessary. But the teaching gift exist to "equip the saint for ministry". So teachers (theologians) should be equipping the saints to think for themselves so that they can teach others the truths of God's