1 Timothy 1
"Remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine...rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith." 1 Timothy 1:3-4
1 Timothy is one of Paul's letters referred to as a Pastoral Epistle along with 2 Timothy and Titus because they deal with issues of leadership in the church.
After a short greeting, Paul reminds Timothy of why he was instructed to remain in Ephesus. Timothy is there to confront and correct false teachers. In Acts 20 Paul, on his way to Jerusalem for the last time before being taken to Rome as a prisoner, invites the elders of Ephesus to meet him in Miletus. In verse 28-30, Paul tells them, "Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them." Paul concluded his instruction by saying "Timothy...wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made a shipwreck of their faith...whom I have handed them over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme" 1 Timothy 1:18-20.
The authors of the letters in the New Testament, Paul, James, Peter, John, and Jude all expressed their concern over false teachers. James said since teachers are judged more strictly, it is not wise to raise yourself up to such a position. It is the role of the church and God to acknowledge those with the gift to teach. Paul says there are those in Ephesus, who desire to be teachers of the law, without understanding what they were confidently saying. James focused on those who taught good works were not necessary for a believer.
Peter spent much of 2 Peter condemning those who exploit the church because of their greed. He says they are bold and willful with hearts trained in greed. They appeared to know the way of righteousness but chose to turn back. He describes them with this proverb: The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.
John describes these teachers as "antichrists" in 1 John. He says they were among us but not of us. John simply says "no lie is of the truth." The liar denies Jesus is the Christ. As is often the case, they reject Jesus Christ not with their words but with their lives. Those born of Christ live righteously. Everyone who makes a practice of sinning is lawless.
The letter of Jude is almost entirely a description of false teachers. He begins the letter by saying, "Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith...for certain people have crept in unnoticed...ungodly people, who pervert the grace of God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ."
There is much emphasis placed on the qualifications of the leadership of the church in the Pastoral Epistles. In 2 Timothy 2:2 Paul tells Timothy, "What you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also." Thank God for men who have the gift to faithfully train us like the apostles. But what of our responsibility? How do we know if the teachers to whom we submit ourselves are faithful to the Scripture if we don't spend time in Scripture for ourselves? How can we contend for the faith if we do not understand the contents of this gift of God?
Lord Jesus, You are the Good Teacher, who has given us Your Spirit to teach us all things. Forgive us for being lackadaisical in our efforts to know Your Word. You made sure we were warned about those who distort Your instruction for their own gain. Please give us the determination to prepare ourselves with the Truth, so we too may warn Your disciples with the Truth.