When someone equips people for every good work without quarreling and without seeking their own gain, then they are a good teacher—like Timothy. They are “advancing God’s work [with] love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” (1 Timothy 1:4-5).
Since my name is Timothy, I can’t resist writing some blogs telling how Timothy was a hero of the Bible. In this blog, I praise Timothy as a good teacher.
We know about Timothy from stories in the Book of Acts and from comments by Paul in several of his letters that are preserved in the New Testament.
From these sources, it is clear that Timothy was a good teacher.
Paul trusted Timothy to be a good teacher at infant churches who needed to receive “basic training” about how to live in the Way of Jesus. (Acts 17:14-15; 18:5; 19:22; 20:1-6).
Paul asked Timothy to help write a number of letters that became part of the New Testament: 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Corinthians 1:1, Philippians 1:1; Colossians 1:1; and Philemon 1:1.
Paul taught Timothy to teach by example: “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them.” (1 Timothy 4:16). “Set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity.” (1 Timothy 4:12).
Paul taught Timothy to teach with words: “[D]evote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching.” (1 Timothy 4:13).
Paul taught Timothy to become wise about the Way of Jesus by studying the Holy Scriptures because: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
When Paul wrote these words to Timothy, the word “Scripture” referred to the Hebrew Scriptures—what Christians today refer to as the Old Testament. When Christians use the word “Scripture” today, they are also referring to the writings in the New Testament, such as Gospels about Jesus and letters written by Paul.
I want to emphasize two things that Paul wrote to Timothy about Scripture in 2 Timothy 3:16-17.
First, Paul said that Scripture is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in RIGHTEOUSNESS.
He didn’t say that Scripture is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in ASTRONOMY, BIOLOGY OR GEOLOGY.
Second, Paul said that ALL Scripture is God-breathed.
Therefore, when we are using Scripture to teach, rebuke, correct and train in righteousness, we must not consider only those passages that make us comfortable. We must also consider those passages that challenge us.
We must be careful to teach the entire will of God (Acts 20:27)—the challenging parts as well as the comforting parts—especially when discerning aspects of our lives and of our civilization that increase our power or our wealth such as slavery (any exploitation of people) or war (any violence against people).
We must be careful to teach the entire will of God—the challenging parts as well as the comforting parts—especially when discerning aspects of our lives and of our civilization that prevent others from having life and enjoying life to the full such as prejudices and persecutions against women, LGBTQ people, people of color, and people of other nations and religions.
What are some of these challenging parts of Scripture? Those parts that tell us to act in ways that decrease our power or our wealth. Those parts that tell us to love people who are different from us or who may even be our enemies. (Matthew 5:1-8:3; 18:1-5; 19:13-30; 20:25-28; 25:31-46; Mark 8:34-38; 10:13-31, 42-45; Luke 1:45-55; 3:7-14; 5:27-32,36-39; 6:17-49; 7:18-27; 9:51-62; 10:25-42; 12:13-34; 13:22-30; 14:25-35; 16:19-31; 18:9-30; 19:1-27; 22:24-27; John 3:1-8,19-21; 4:1-26; 7:53-8:11; 13:1-5,12-17)
Teaching and living in this Way of Jesus will lead to controversies in our lives and in our civilization. (Luke 12:49-53).
These controversies are justified and inevitable because we are challenging ourselves and others to overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21).
Frederick Douglass knew this from personal experience. He was born as a slave in the South. But he escaped to the North where he became a leader of the movement to abolish slavery. After a long struggle, Frederick Douglass won freedom for slaves by overcoming the wealth and power of the slave owners.
From his personal struggles, Frederick Douglass learned that: “Without struggle, there can be no progress.” Why? Because “[p]ower concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”
These inevitable struggles and controversies are justified because we are fighting Darkness with Light—overcoming evil with good—so that ALL people will have life and will enjoy life to the full. (John 10:10).
In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus commanded us to keep on lighting the world with our good deeds even though people will oppose this Way of Jesus by insulting us, persecuting us, and falsely saying all manner of evil against us. (Matthew 5:11-16).
As Paul warned Timothy: “[E]veryone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” (2 Timothy 3:12).
Jesus and Paul never ran away from controversies that were caused by them salting the earth with the Way of Jesus and lighting the world with good deeds. (Matthew 5:11-16).
Jesus and Paul were insulted, persecuted, lied about, and executed for putting into practice the words of Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount.
On the other hand, Jesus and Paul knew that some types of controversies are bad. These controversies are needless quarrels and speculations caused by bad shepherds to increase their power and wealth.
Paul wrote Timothy to stay away from such needless controversies, quarrels and speculations, and to oppose those who “have an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction.” (1 Timothy 6:4-5).
Paul wrote Timothy to be especially wary of those who promote controversies and quarrels as “a means of financial gain.” (1 Timothy 6:5).
Paul wrote Timothy that Scripture should not be used “to promote controversial speculations rather than advancing God’s work [of] love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” (1 Timothy 1:4-5).
Therefore, we should oppose anyone (including spouses, politicians and foreign leaders, as well as clergy) whose teachings and life promote controversies, quarrels, and speculations in order to help that person, nation or religion feed themselves on money, power or sex.
A good teacher will follow the advice that Paul wrote to Timothy: “Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments.” (2 Timothy 2:23).
“Because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance, leading them to a knowledge of the truth.” (2 Timothy 2:23-25).
When a teacher equips people for every good work without quarreling or speculating, and without feeding the teacher on money, power or sex, then they are a good teacher—like Timothy. They are “advancing God’s work [with] love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” (1 Timothy 1:4-5).
Living and teaching this Way, Paul and Timothy spread God’s love to new people in new ways so that “[t]here is neither Jew nor [non-Jew], neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for [we] are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28).
Living and teaching this Way, Jesus taught us to be good shepherds who teach people to “have life and have it to the full” (John 10:10).
By putting into practice the words of Paul “to set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity.” (1 Timothy 4:12).
By putting into practice the words of Jesus so that “in everything, [we] do to others what [we] would have them do to [us].” (Matthew 7:12).
Immediately after Jesus finished these words in his Sermon on the Mount, he began teaching by example, putting his words into practice.
Jesus touched and healed a leper!
In this Way, Jesus taught us to touch all people to give them every type of healing (physical, psychological, emotional, and spiritual)—even if we hate to touch that person.
In this Way, Jesus taught us to touch all people to give them every type of healing (physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual)—even if our religion and our civilization command us not to touch that person.
By teaching and living in this Way of Jesus, we will put his words into practice by touching and healing all people and all civilizations.
By teaching and living in this Way of Jesus, we will empower all people and all civilizations to set a good example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity.
By teaching and living in this Way of Jesus, we will empower all people and all civilizations to have life, and to enjoy life to the full. (Matthew 28:18-20; John 10:10).
For additional thoughts about the meanings, implications and applications of 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”), please read the Appendices to my book The Promised Land, at pages 153-210, especially:
“How to Apply the Word of God Authoritatively”
“How to Apply the Bible to Specific Matters”
“The Accuracy and Reliability of the Bible”
“The Spirit in Which to Study and Apply the Bible”
“Thoughts About the First Eleven Chapters of Genesis”
“Tax Law Concepts Regarding Adam, Eve, Etc.”
“Noah’s World, Noah’s Ark, and God’s Rainbow”
“Doubts: Sunglasses and Shakespeare”
“Predestination: Norman Rockwell and Renoir”
For additional thoughts about Paul’s Missionary Journeys, please read my book Lighting the World, at “Part Three: Paul Establishes Churches in Europe” and “Part Four: Paul Nurtures the Early Churches”.
For additional thoughts on Timothy, please read my book Lighting the World, at pages 94-96.
For my thoughts on the authorship of 1 and 2 Timothy, please see my endnote to “Paul Teaches Believers How To Behave” in “Part Four: Paul Nurtures the Early Churches” of my book, Lighting the World.