1 Timothy 3
3:15-16: How is the Church “the pillar and ground of truth”? What metaphor is Paul using? How does that metaphor help us understand what the Church does?
What does he mean when he speaks of “the house of God”? Does he mean the church as a whole or individual congregations?
What does Paul mean when he says “without controversy”?
To what is Paul referring with the word mystery? Why is the word mystery an appropriate reference for that case? (Verse 16 seems to be another quotation from a hymn.) What is Paul talking about when he says that Christ was seen by angels?
1 Timothy 4
4:1-3: Paul has just finished speaking of the qualifications of bishops and of deacons. How is that topic related to the one that he takes up now, apostasy?
When did Paul and Timothy think the “latter times” would be (verse 1)?
What does it mean to give heed to seducing spirits or doctrines of devils? Can you think of specific examples of doing so? Why is it tempting to do so? Do we ever do so?
The practice of the time was to brand criminals and fugitive slaves. How is that practice related to what Paul says in verse 2?
In verse 3, the Greek word translated meat means “food.” (The word meat was a general term for food in King James English.) How do you square Paul’s teaching here with the Word of Wisdom?
Compare these verses to passages such as Matthew 24:10-12, Acts 20:29-30, 2 Thessalonians 2:3-12, 1 John 2:18 and 4:1-3, and 2 John 7. Why is apostasy an important New Testament theme? Why does that theme matter to us today?
4:12-16: The word “conversation” (verse 12) meant something quite different at the time of the King James translation than it means today. It meant “how a person lives with others.” Does that change your understanding of the verse?
It appears that at this time few could read silently. The ability to do so was considered to be an amazing gift. Does that suggest anything by what Paul might mean by “reading” (verse 13)? To whom would Timothy be expected to read? What would he be expected to read?
What does “exhortation” mean?
The word “doctrine” has a much more verbal sense in Greek than it has in English; it means “teaching” rather than “belief.” (Does that change your understanding of 1 Timothy 4:1 or 2 Timothy 4:3?)
What is Paul telling Timothy he must do for the congregation at Ephesus? (Paul had ordained Timothy bishop of Ephesus.)
How does doing that set an example?
What gift is Paul speaking of (verse 14)? What does Paul mean when he says that Timothy received that gift by prophecy?
What might the laying on of hands signify? In other words, is there anything about the act of laying on hands that helps us understand what we do in the ordinances that require it?
The basic meaning of the word translated meditate in verse 15 is “care for.” What things is Timothy to meditate on or care for?
What would it mean to give himself wholly to them?
Why is it important that others see Timothy profiting (progressing)? Does this conflict with Paul’s advice in Colossians 3:22 (and other places) that we not do what we do in order to please others?
How would Timothy take heed unto (i.e., watch) himself? How would he watch the doctrine or teaching?
What is Paul telling him to continue (to persevere in)? How will persevering in watching his life and the teaching save both himself and those who hear him?
2:23-26: What does Paul mean by “unlearned questions” (verse 23)? Can you give examples of “foolish and unlearned questions” that we take up today?
What is wrong with dealing with questions that start quarrels?
Notice that the word strifes in verse 23 and the word strive in verse 24 are variations of the same root, both in English and in Paul’s Greek. Does that say anything about Pau’s meaning?
What does it mean to say that the Lord’s servant must be gentle to everyone? How do we preach gently? How can we rebuke gently or exhort gently?
Verse 25 will make more sense if you put “to him” after the phrase “oppose themselves.”
What do the last part of verse 25 and verse 26 say is the point of preaching and exhortation?
Paul seems to be using “repentance” and “recover themselves” as parallel terms. In what way is repentance a recovery of self?
Why does Satan take us captive? How does he do so?
How does the gentleness that Paul recommends to Timothy differ from Satan’s method? How do the results of the two methods differ?
3:1: Why will the last days, as Timothy understands them, be perilous (difficult, fierce—verse 1)? Perilous might be better translated “difficult” or “grievous.”
3:2-5: Here is another translation (that of the New International Version) of the list in verses 2-5, compared to the King James translation:
lovers of their own selves = lovers of self
covetous = lovers of money,
boasters = boastful
proud = proud
blasphemers = abusive
disobedient to parents = disobedient to their parents
unthankful = ungrateful
unholy = unholy
without natural affection = without love
trucebreakers = unforgiving
false accusers = slanderous
incontinent = without self-control
fierce = brutal
despisers of those that are good = not lovers of the good
traitors = treacherous
heady = rash
highminded = conceited
lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God = lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God
Which elements of this list differ significantly from the King James translation? What do you make of those differences? Does this list help you understand the King James translation?
Are there any things in this translation with which you disagree?
Look at each item in the list and ask yourself why Paul condemns it. Do we condemn all of these things today? If we do not condemn some, why not?
3:2: In the last days, men will love themselves and money (in this verse the word covetous refers directly to the love of money), they will be braggarts (boasters) and arrogant (proud), they will rail (blaspheme), they will disobey their parents and be ungrateful, they will be unholy.
Part of the purpose of this long list of sins (from here through verse 7) seems to be to overwhelm us, to give us a feeling for the last days as much as to give us a detailed list. On the other hand, the list is informative. Can you think of an example of each of these sins from these, the last days? It may be more instructive if we think of ways in which we might find these sins in ourselves, our homes, or our neighborhoods rather than thinking of ways in which these describe other people with whom we have nothing to do, such as the reports we find in the news.
3:3: “Without natural affection” seems to refer back to their disobedience to parents and their ingratitude: those in the end times will not have the kind of family relations one would expect.
Instead of “truce breakers,” this should read “implacable,” meaning “intractable,” “uncompromising,” “unyielding.” An implacable person refuses to overcome the problems between he and another.
A better translation of “false accusers” might be “slanderers.”
Rather than incontinent, I think this should be translated “without self-control.” In these kinds of contexts, the word incontinent has almost exclusively a sexual meaning, but the Greek word here refers to a general lack of self-discipline, including but not limited to sexual self-discipline. They will be both lacking in self-discipline and fierce or savage.
As if summing up everything he has said so far, Paul says these people will despise that which is good—a contrast to 1 Thessalonians 5:21, where Paul has told us to hold fast to that which is good.
3:4: These people will be betrayers (traitors) and reckless (heady), puffed up (highminded) people who love pleasure more than they love God.
There are lots of obvious examples of loving pleasure more than loving God; television shows them to us constantly. But can you think of examples even closer to home, examples we are more likely to succumb to?
3:5: The Greek word for deny here means more than just a mental denial; it includes carrying out the denial.
What does it mean to have the form of godliness? What does it mean to deny the power of godliness? Remember that this is a verse referred to by the Savior in his visit with Joseph Smith in the Sacred Grove (JSH 1:19). What does it mean there? What might this warned us of in our own lives?
3:6: These are the kind of people, he says, who “insinuate themselves into houses” (in order to destroy those houses). It isn’t that they “creep” in unknown to the occupants of the house, but that they ingratiate themselves with those who live in the house in order to seduce the women of the house. The women are said to be idle (silly), one who is overwhelmed (burdened) with sin and led about (led away) already by all sorts of lusts. It isn’t just any woman who will fall for the tricks of such a person, but one who is idle, one who is not doing what needs to be done and who is already at least mentally involved in the very things to which she now succumbs. Presumably what is said here applies to men as well as to women.
In what ways are we led about by all sorts of lusts? (Remember, that in the scriptures lust refers to more than just sexual desire. It refers to any inordinate desire.) James 1:14 is probably relevant here, for it describes how we are tempted by our lusts.
3:7: The word Greek word translated learning can mean “finding out.” These idlers burdened down by sin are “always finding out,” in other words, they are always attracted to some new thing, constantly curious—but they are never filled. That is one of the ways that they are burdened with sin and led about by all sorts of lust, namely they lust after knowing new facts and tidbits, new gossip, new experiences, new titillations, new horrors.
It seems to me that much of our culture’s concern for the news of the day, for Hollywood and other celebrity gossip, for slasher and sex movies is a matter of “ever learning.”
The word knowledge here means “full knowledge.” Idlers never come to a filling and complete knowledge which the truth provides, a knowledge that would not leave them always looking for some new thing.
The roots of the Greek word for truth means “revelation.”
3:8: Taking up the seducers again, Paul compares them to the magicians who contested with Moses (Exodus 7:10-12 and 22): they are of corrupt mind and they have not been true to the faith required of them.
3:9: “They proceed no further” means “they won’t advance any further.” There will be a limit to the success of these false teachers: they may be able to lead away people like the women he has described, but they will not be able to do any more than that. Eventually, they will be found out, just like the magicians were found out when Aaron’s rod ate theirs.
3:12: Paul says that all who strive to live the kind of godly life required of those who follow Christ will suffer persecution. What does this say about us and our day? In what ways are we persecuted?
3:13: The evil will get worse and worse, but Paul implies that seducers and idlers will affect primarily each other: deceiving each other and being deceived by each other.
3:14: In contrast, he asks Timothy–and be extension any who read this letter–to continue in what he has learned and has been given assurances (testimony) of, since he knows where he learned them. To whom is Paul referring here–who taught Timothy and gave him assurance of the truth of the teachings?
3:15: One of the places from which Timothy has learned and received assurance are the scriptures. The scriptures can make one wise. (For the reference Paul seems to intend here, see Psalms 19:7) What does it mean to be wise? With regard to what do the scriptures make us wise? Is imparting that wisdom to us the purpose of scripture?
For a scriptures which show a number of different uses of that word, see Genesis 3.6; Exodus 31.3 and 35.31; Deuteronomy 1.13 and 34.9; 2 Samuel 14.20; 1 Kings 3.28 and 4.29; 2 Chronicles 1.10; Job 5.13; Psalms 2.10, 37.30, 90.12, and 111.10; Proverbs 1.5, 2.6, 3.19, 4.7, 8.1, 9.1, 11.12, 14.8, 15.2, 28.7, and 29.3; Ecclesiastes 1.18, 2.26, and 8.1; Isaiah 11.2; Daniel 1.4 and 2.21; Matthew 10.16 and 11.25; Mark 6.2; Luke 2.52; Romans 12.16; 1 Corinthians 1.17, 21, and 30, 3.19 and 4.10; Colossians 4.5; James 1.5, and 3.13 and 17; 2 Nephi 1.8, 9.28, and 28.30; Mosiah 2.17; Alma 26.35 and 39.2; Helaman 15.16; Mormon 9.28; Doctrine and Covenants 6.7, 28.5, 58.26, 72.17, 88.40 and 118, 89.19, and 122.2; and Abraham 3.21.
3:16: All scriptures are inspired. Literally, this means that all come as God’s breathings, i.e. as his word. Unlike secular writings, it is as if our Father in Heaven is so close when we read the scriptures that we can hear him breathing throughout them. Why doesn’t this imply the inerrancy of scripture?
What is the significance of Joseph Smith’s change in verse 16?
All scripture is useful for teaching (“for doctrine”), for convincing (i.e. giving testimony–“reproof”), and for instruction in how to be righteous. How can we use the scriptures for these things? How can we get to know them so we can use them for these things?
3:17: Look at footnote 17a. What does that tell us about how to understand verse 17? In what sense does scripture make us perfect? If you change “furnished” to “equipped” and “unto” to “for,” the verse will probably be easier to understand. How does scripture equip us for all good works?
4:1-2: Why does Paul begin this part of his instruction to Timothy with a solemn charge?
Why does he use this particular description of Christ, “the judge of the quick and the dead and the Second Coming”?
If you read verse 2 as the King James translation has it—“be instant [prepared] in season, [and] out of season”—what does this verse say?
If you read it as Joseph Smith changed it, what does it say? (See footnote 2b.)
What does reprove mean? What does rebuke mean? Are they different? What does exhort mean?
4:3-4: What does it mean to say that some “will not endure sound doctrine”?
What does “heap to themselves teachers” mean?
How do their itching ears explain the fact that they have heaped teachers to themselves? What does it mean to say that they heap these teachers to themselves “after their own lusts”?
Does this passage describe any in our own day? Does it ever describe us? If so, how so?
Overall: What should our response be to what we read in these passages from 1 and 2 Timothy?
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