Friday, September 18, 2020

Establishing the Church

"I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession, and thanksgiving be made for everyone" (1 Timothy 2:1)

Early church writers like Eusebius and Clement of Rome tell us that Paul was released from imprisonment in Rome and made a trip to Spain as well as many of the churches he had earlier planted in Asia Minor. It seems that the letters of 1 Timothy and Titus were written during this fourth missionary journey.

In these letters, we see Paul’s concern to establish an order in the church. A study of 1 Timothy shows us what Paul regarded as the essentials of a healthy church. First, in chapter 1, Paul tells us that we must be on guard against heresies. The two kinds of heresies mentioned are false doctrine and opposition to biblical law. The church is grounded in truth and obedience, and without these, nothing else can stand.

Second, the most important activity of the church is prayer, and Paul discusses prayer in chapter 2. The church is to be constant in corporate prayer for all sorts and conditions of men. Men are to lead in prayer in corporate worship because God has given this task to men and not to women.

Third, the church must be governed because she is a true society (chapter 3). The church has overseers, who govern her life, and deacons, who serve the church by carrying out the tasks given them by the overseers. Ordinarily, those who rule as overseers should be elders, that is, older men. Timothy, spiritually mature while relatively young, had to be careful not to cause anyone to think he was arrogant in his youth (4:12–13; 5:1).

Fourth, Paul returns to the all-important theme of guarding against heretics in chapter 4. This theme recurs here because Paul has discussed the overseers, and he now says that they are the ones who must keep the wolves away from the flock.

Fifth, in chapter 5, Paul further discusses the structure of ministry in the church, pointing out the place of the company of widows (an important aspect of early church life that is overlooked today) and the importance of the work of elders. Finally, in chapter 6, Paul discusses the problem of money and how to handle it because the church as God’s new society would soon need to deal with money.

Modern evangelical Christians often despise the importance of order and structure in worship and in the life of the church. But a healthy church is more than a conglomeration of people who love Jesus. It is a new society, a manifestation of the kingdom of God on earth. Is your church a model of order and charity?