The Necessity of Household Order

Session 01

RELATED  ARTICLES

Kelvin Smith

The Necessity of Household Order – 1 Timothy

Amongst TCHT we have gained significant insights into the shape of household order particularly within the nuclear families. This session focuses on the necessity of household order across a local church. Particularly we will discuss what it will look like to set churches in order within our culture.

Biblical Passages

  • 1 Tim 1:3 – 1:18 (esp 1:4 stewardship / administration / house law)
  • 1 Tim 6:3-16 (Esp 6:3 “different / false doctrine” – same word as in 1:3)

Questions to guide your study

  1. What detail are we given about the contrasting doctrines referred to in 1:3? What details are we given about the “different/false doctrine”, what details are we given about the “not different doctrine”?
  2. What was the charge given to Timothy? What was he to teach?
  3. What did Paul say would result from Timothy’s obedience to this charge?
  4. How does 6:3-16 reinforce the ideas in Ch 1?

Theological Reader

Timothy’s charge or command from Paul has a number of facets. Firstly he is to command certain men not to teach false doctrines (1:3-5, 6:3). These are doctrines that are different than the house law / administration / stewardship (1:4) that Paul has been giving to the churches in and around Ephesus (see Ephesians / Colossians). These men must be commanded not to teach anything different from the body of teaching that the church had already received. Secondly, Timothy is to teach the house-law/stewardship/administration of God that Paul outlines in this letter. This house- law is a plan, a blue print, for the management of God’s household. He is to exhort older men and women, younger men and women (5:1-2) to order their lives according to the household instructions given in this book (3:14-16). Everyone was to be established according to the household instructions.

Since it is central to Timothy’s charge we need a brief examination of the word “teach different teaching”.

Kittel Theological dictionary of the New Testament entry for this word:

In the NT the word is found only in 1 Tm. 1:3 and 6:3, in both cases with reference to men who disseminate a different teaching from that of the writer and his assistants, making peripheral questions into the main issue (1:4ff.). Since they are also called νομοδιδάσκαλοι in 1:7, a Judaising stress on the νόμος is what brings their doctrine under the sentence of ἑτεροδιδασκαλεῖν and distinguishes it from ὑγιαίνουσα διδασκαλία.1

Morphemes in the word: Hetero did aska lein

Did – The teaching

Didasko – to teach the teaching

Didaskalos –An Instructor who teaches the teaching

Heterodidaskalein – an instructor who teaches other teaching to that which is taught by Paul and his assistants.

1322.   διδαχή didachē; from 1321; doctrine, teaching:—instruction(2), teaching(27), teachings(1).2

1321.   διδάσκω didaskō; a redupl. caus. form of δάω daō (to learn); to teach:—instructed(2), preaches(1), taught(13), teach(33), teaches(5), teaching(43).2

1320.   διδάσκαλος didaskalos; from 1321; an instructor:—Teacher(41), teacher(10), teachers(8)2

ἕτερος heteros; of unc. or.; other:—another(31), another man(1), another one(2), any other(1), different(6), else(2), neighbor(3), next(3), one(1), other(31), other person(1), others(13), someone else(1), strange(1), strangers(1).2

The different doctrines Paul is specifically referring to are the teachings of the Jewish law (genealogies) and the teachings of the Greeks (mythology) – Paul sometimes also referenced the teachings of the Jews a mythological also (See Titus 1:14). Essentially it was teachings of their culture which would influence what the believers thought was good and right and holy. The church in Ephesus had a good number of Jews (see Acts 19 8-10), who had all come from a legal tradition of godliness through the observance of certain laws. It would seem that this influence was significant in the church because Paul addresses it at some length here and throughout the book. These Jews continued to trade on their history of favour with God to inflict legal standards upon the gentile believers, especially pressing new believers to be circumcised according to the Law of Moses. The Greeks had come from an intellectual tradition where debate and endless dialogue about mythical characters where the path to enlightenment. Neither of these were foundered on straight forward sound teaching about the household plan of God. Neither would bring about the love and pure consciences that Paul wants as an outcome of his command (1:5). Timothy was to command them to stop teaching error and to limit their teaching to the truths of God’s administration of grace (See Eph 3:3,9 and 1 Tim 1:4).

Paul has a commission from Christ (1:12, 2:7) which he is fulfilling as he passes on these instructions to Timothy (See also 2:Tim esp 2:2). This commission will result in all the believers being strengthened in their pure love and clear consciences for one another. His task is to pass on a central body of household instructions that everything we teach is to agree with (6:3-4). This body of instruction are the household codes that all the churches are to observe (3:15) and be unified around.

The instructions given are a beautiful mess of family relationships. Prayers offered for everyone (in and out of the church), men and women are given clear roles, leaders with godly families are to teach and oversee the church assisted by godly tested servants; Timothy is to carry out his teaching role with integrity, Widows are to be cared for. All in all, there is huge, huge liberty within these guidelines. And yet the guidelines themselves are very clear and expected to be implemented. There is to be an order in the church – an administration, a stewarding of God’s grace to all. This is an order that God created for His glory.

Paul considers this a very serious work that is to demand the highest calling on Timothy’s life (6:11- 16, 1:18-19). It will result not only in Timothy’s own salvation, but also in the salvation of those who hear him (4:16 – which is probably a reference to being saved from the doctrines of demons 4.1-5 as a way to eternal salvation). Furthermore, this command is not confined to Timothy’s time. The concepts noted in Ch 4:1-5 indicate that Paul was thinking well beyond the pressures of his own culture, and includes problems and difficulties that would arise right through to the last days. Since Paul expects that this task will get more difficult over time (4:1) it’s imperative that Timothy give all his attention to ensuring that his generation clearly and completely adhere to this instruction.

Also look to other readers that you may find which looks to the necessity of household order.

Prior to the discussion

Go back to your work in First Principles Series 3.5 and from your work there and your recent work here into a new Authors intent statement for the book of 1 Timothy.

Socratic Discussion Questions

  1. In our culture, how normal is it for a church leader to be given the charge that Paul gave to Timothy? Should this happen?
  2. How important is household order? What consequences result from good or bad order?
  3. What were the tasks involved in setting the churches in order? What would that look like in our culture?
  4. What would Timothy’s charge look like in our culture? What difficulties are likely to be faced as a church in our culture is set in order?

Small Assignment

Write an initial paragraph on the necessity of household order from the book of 1 Timothy. We’ll add to this throughout following sessions from Titus – and then add detail to it from both books.

1 Kittel, G., Bromiley, G. W., & Friedrich, G. (Eds.). (1964–).Theological dictionary of the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.

2 Thomas, R. L. (1998).New American Standard Hebrew-Aramaic and Greek dictionaries : updated edition. Anaheim: Foundation Publications, Inc.

 

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