THE FIRST EPISTLE OF PAUL THE APOSTLE TO TIMOTHY
Written AD 65 or 66
The Divine Author of 1 Timothy is God the Holy Spirit for. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16, 17).
The human author of this epistle is Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ
The background for this epistle is found in Acts 20:28-31. “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. 29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. 31 Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.”
The purpose of 1 Timothy is fourfold.
First, Paul wrote to encourage Timothy to combat heresy, or false teaching in Ephesus (1 Timothy 1:3, 18; 4:12-16). It is very easy for doctrinal error to arise, and very hard to combat it. Truth demands eternal vigilance.
Second, Paul wanted to provide Timothy with written credentials (1:3-4). People will respect those in authority, but individuals must have the right to tell others what to do. Paul’s authority came directly from the Lord Jesus Christ. The authority of Timothy came from his association with Paul.
Third, the apostle wanted to instruct Timothy on how to behave in the House of the Lord (3:14, 15).
With the passing of time, the Church has taken time to consider what is called the Regulative Principle.
The Regulative principle of worship in Christian theology teaches that the public worship of God should include those, and only those elements, that are instituted, commanded, or appointed by command or example in the Bible. In other words, it is the belief that God institutes in Scripture whatever he requires for worship in the Church, and everything else should be avoided. What has God instituted in Scripture for worship?
God has instituted the reading of His Word. “I charge you by the Lord that this epistle be read unto all the holy brethren” (1 Thess. 5:27).
God has instituted teaching, admonishing one another, and the singing of songs of praise. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Col. 3:16).
God has instituted the Lord’s Supper. “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come” (1 Cor. 11:28).
God has instituted baptism. “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls” (Acts 2:38).
God has instituted the preaching of His Word. “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (2 Tim. 4:2).
God has authorized anointing the sick with oil. “Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms. 14 Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: 15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him” (James 3:13-15).
God has authorized decency, decorum, and order in worship (1 Cor. 14:40). Historically, Baptist have adopted the “Regulative Principle”.
Chapter XXII of The Second London Confession of Faith, “Of Religious Worship, and the Sabbath Day,” in Article I states:
“The Light of Nature shews that there is a God who hath Lordship, and Sovereignty)over all; is just, good, and doth good unto all; and is therefore, to be feared, loved, praised, called upon, trusted in, and served with all the Heart, and all the Soul, and with all the Might. But the acceptable way of Worshipping the true God, is instituted by himself; and so limited by his own revealed will, that he may not be worshiped according to the imaginations, and devices of Men, or the suggestions of Satan, under any visible representations, or any other way, not prescribed in the Holy Scriptures.”
The “Regulative Principle” is often contrasted with the Normative Principle of Worship, which teaches that whatever is not prohibited in Scripture is permitted in worship, so long as it is agreeable to the peace and unity of the Church.
As long as there is agreement within the Church, and nothing in Scripture to prohibit a practice, there is freedom for whatever is done in worship.
Unfortunately, abuses can, and do, take place in worship, regardless of which “principle” is adopted.
Those who adopt the “Regulative Principle” can become too fond of rituals and traditions. Their rallying cry is,
“We are Presbyterians!”,
“We are Baptist!”,
“We are Protestants!” “We do not do that here.”
Those who adopt the “Normative Principle” will find freedom to engage in practices, some of which can be quite alarming such as allowing people to bark like dogs, laugh like hyenas, handle snakes, simultaneously speak in ecstatic utterances, and run up and down the isles in religious exuberance.
Turning the worship service into a religious rock concert is not opposed, nor is promoting a worship service for unbelievers in the name of helping those seekers who are “sensitive” to the gospel.
Under the “Normative Principle,” it is probably safe to say that, “Most contemporary Christians never give a thought as to what God wants in His Church – they just insert into it what they want and the prevailing culture dictates” (James Garrett).
Meanwhile, the debate continues, and Christendom continues to divide itself into contending denominations and contemporary congregations.
A fourth purpose for writing 1 Timothy was that Paul wanted to exhort Timothy to be diligent in performing his pastoral duties. Contrary to popular belief, the duties of a faithful pastor are set forth in Scripture. You can study them in 1 Timothy 4:6-6:2.