1 Timothy 1:1-5
The Aim of Our Charge
These three letters of Paul to Timothy and Titus are called, “The Pastorals,” because they are largely personal in nature written to two of Paul’s younger and much beloved co-laborers whom he had nurtured in the faith over several years. They were here acting as his personal and apostolic liaisons sent to the churches in Ephesus (Timothy) and Crete (Titus) to correct aberrations which were nothing less than departures from the gospel of grace. These “pastorals” will forever remain gems for both pastors and churches in the practical instructions they provide that we “may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the Church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth” (3:15).
So we begin with Paul’s first letter to Timothy. Timothy was at the church in Ephesus (1:3) when this letter was written (A.D. mid 60’s). In Paul’s earlier letter to the Ephesians (A.D. 62), it is difficult to grasp what exactly the problem was in the church, unless it was that some there were tempted to fall back into sexual immorality and other sins for which Paul took the time to warn them (5:1-21). In the book of Revelation, written towards the end of the first century by the Apostle John, the problem at Ephesus is that they had departed from “the love [they] had at first” (2:4). In this letter to Timothy, the problem at Ephesus is with false teachers who were “devot[ing] themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith.” What a reminder this is to us that churches are always prey to the devil for some kind of deception, be it to immorality, loveless attitudes and behaviors, or even mindless speculations that produce nothing but haughtiness and dissension. We must always be on our guard.
But Paul provides the remedy which he words so beautifully: “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a clear conscience and a sincere faith.” Love is the result of our regeneration, our rebirth through the work of the Holy Spirit. The new birth produces in us a pure heart; that is, a heart cleansed of sin through the blood of Christ issuing in divine forgiveness. This has the further effect of clearing the conscience as the newborn believer need no longer brood over his sins as sin’s guilt is removed. The third effect of the new birth is a sincere faith; that is, a panting for godliness and closer walk with the Lord (Psalm 42:1). From these three—purity of heart, cleansing of conscience, and sincerity of faith—how can love not pour forth in streams of gratitude? And this is our charge.