Verses Evangelicals Ignore or Explain Away: 1 Timothy 3:15

I am going to try to prove that there are at least 100 verses that a large percentage of evangelicals ignore or explain away. I’m not going to do this daily like I am doing the “good works” passages daily. Instead, I’ll just fit these into the blog on days I don’t have something else.

I’m going to start with an easy one.

Verse 1: 1 Timothy 3:15

These things I write to you … that you may know how you ought to behave yourself in the household of God, which is the church of God, the pillar and support of the truth.

Applies to whom?

All evangelicals



This is a Roman Catholic verse. Evangelicals don’t pay attention to it.

Fair Warning

One of the “applies to whom” categories will be “eternal security believers.” That will make my task much easier because it will provide at least half of the hundred verses I’m shooting for. You have to close your eyes a lot, have a very creative imagination, and be impervious to embarrassing yourself with outrageous excuses.

About Paul Pavao

I am married, the father of six, and currently the grandfather of two. I run a business, live in a Christian community, teach, and I am learning to disciple others better than I have ever been able to before. I believe God has gifted me to restore proper foundations to the Christian faith. In order to ensure that I do not become a heretic, I read the early church fathers from the second and third centuries. They were around when all the churches founded by the apostles were in unity. I also try to stay honest and open. I argue and discuss these foundational doctrines with others to make sure my teaching really lines up with Scripture. I am encouraged by the fact that the several missionaries and pastors that I know well and admire as holy men love the things I teach. I hope you will be encouraged too. I am indeed tearing up old foundations created by tradition in order to re-establish the foundations found in Scripture and lived on by the churches during their 300 years of unity.
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6 Responses to Verses Evangelicals Ignore or Explain Away: 1 Timothy 3:15

  1. cgatihi says:

    Hi Paul,

    I’ve been really helped by reading your material (currently working through “Decoding Nicaea”) and the material written by David Bercot regarding ante-Nicene church practice and doctrine. A friend of mine is Eastern Orthodox and has sent me this critique of Bercot’s writings:

    He’s also mentioned this idea (on the basis of 1 Tim. 3:15) a few times as he tries to convince me of the validity of Eastern Orthodoxy as the true church: ” …while individuals may err, the Holy Spirit speaks unerringly through the whole church.”

    So, for example, when the council at Nicaea convened, he would argue that the conclusions they drew represented the whole church and thus could not be erroneous. Another (protestant) brother has made the claim that where consensus has prevailed for so long with a particular doctrine, the Holy Spirit couldn’t have let the whole church err for so long on the basis of a passage like 1 Timothy 3:15.

    I’ve never really wrestled with the implications of 1 Timothy 3:15 as it relates to this but I imagine a Roman Catholic could make the same argument. So if East all agrees to X while West all agrees to Y and they go their separate ways, how do we know which side erred, or that both didn’t err?


    • Paul Pavao says:

      Hi Chris. Honestly, I am sometimes astonished at the arrogance of (some) Orthodox believers. They can’t be questioned? Really? Your point is perfect. The Roman Catholic Church does make the same argument, and they have every bit as much a right to do so as the Orthodox Churches. Nor should we forget that there are Oriental Orthodox Churches, Armenian Orthodox Churches, and Coptic Orthodox Churches that are not in communion with the Eastern Orthodox Churches (Russion, Greek, and a couple others).

      What your Orthodox friend is not telling you, probably because he does not know, is that the most important thing about tradition to the catholic churches of the first five centuries or so was that TRADITION MUST NOT BE CHANGED. Only the apostles could create tradition. It is not just any tradition that is authoritative, but only “APOSTOLIC TRADITION.” Those early catholic churches, before the fracturing of “the Church,” considered innovation, the changing of tradition, to be error by definition.

      The elders of the church in Rome wrote to Cyprian, bishop of Carthage, in the year 250. They said that if the church in Rome was to fall from its greatness, it would be “the greatest crime.” By greatness, they meant adherence to apostolic truth, care for the members of the church and especially those in prison for the faith, and the generosity that Rome’s church was famous for. They cited Ezekiel 34:1-4, which talks about shepherds that eat the sheep rather than caring for them, and said about themselves that they need to avoid this.

      History shows that Rome did fall from its greatness. Almost across the board the shepherds cared for themselves rather than the sheep (see Horace Mann’s _Lives of the Popes_ in regard to the 10th and 11th century popes). If we need to question Rome, which committed the “greatest crime” in falling from their greatness, then we need to question Constantinople (Istanbul), Moscow, Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Antioch as well. Their job was equally to tend the sheep and preserve apostolic tradition. I think any reasonable examination shows that they did not keep apostolic tradition in many ways.

      They argue that we should not trust our own mind, but trust God’s promise to them. That is what I would say if I were a fraud too. Instead, I say what Jesus says, let’s examine the fruit. Our goal is to love one another, to be in unity, to remain unstained by the world, and to help the widows and orphans (Jn. 13:34; 17:20-23; James 1:26-27; all of which line up with the judgment of the sheep and goats). Holding to an organization only gets in the way of that in our day and age. The worse crime of the Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestants is the binding together of believer and unbeliever, sons of Belial and followers of Christ, mixing light and darkness and the temple of God with idols (2 Cor. 6:14-16).

      We must become doers of the Word of God. These competing organizations, including the Orthodox, are dividers of the Church, not uniters. They call people into compromise with nominal Christians, honor of ineffective sacraments that do not convey holiness or power. God has always honored spiritual descent, not physical descent. The children of Abraham are those who do good works produced from a living faith. They need to separate from the sons of Belial, break their yoke with unbelievers and earthly organizations, and join themselves to one another.

      • cgatihi says:

        This is really helpful, Paul. Thank so much. Really appreciate you taking the time. I also came across this post of yours which is along the same lines:

        This past weekend, I was really struck when I came across this segment from a book on how Saul’s life and kingship in Israel represents life after the flesh as a reflection of the spiritual state of the nation of Israel at the time of asking for a king: “God does not need to preserve the outward continuity of His government, as is the common thought of men. What a mass of ecclesiastical rubbish is swept aside when this is seen.” (Samuel Ridout)

        Seems to be exactly what you’re saying here.

  2. kenmullins says:

    I’m not sure that this verse is ignored — “we” just say that “our church” is “the support and bulwark of the truth” (NET). The “other” churches have it “wrong,” but we “know” the truth.

    • paulfpavao says:

      Have you ever heard anyone actually say that? I can see that if asked, a Protestant might think that, but I have never heard an evangelical bring up 1 Tim. 3:15. I also have never had one admit that the Scriptures are never called the pillar and support of the truth.

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