Late in his life, Paul wrote letters to Timothy and Titus. These are probably some of the last instructions Paul would give. What did he focus on with Timothy and Titus? One way to see his focus is to read the “but you” passages. There are several of them. All these passages will be from the New American Standard Bible (NASB). There will be a lot of Scripture in today’s post.
Here’s the format: First come the things Paul complains about others doing, then follows what Paul told Timothy and Titus to do instead. Take these things to heart!
1 Timothy 6:3-12
What others did: Whoever teaches something different and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the religious teaching is conceited, understanding nothing, and has a morbid disposition for arguments and verbal disputes. From these come envy, rivalry, insults, evil suspicions, and mutual friction among people with corrupted minds, who are deprived of the truth, supposing religion to be a means of gain. Indeed, religion with contentment is a great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, just as we shall not be able to take anything out of it. If we have food and clothing, we shall be content with that. Those who want to be rich are falling into temptation and into a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires, which plunge them into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all evils, and some people in their desire for it have strayed from the faith and have pierced themselves with many pains.
What Timothy should do instead: But you, man of God, avoid all this. Instead, pursue righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience, and gentleness. Compete well for the faith. Lay hold of eternal life, to which you were called when you made the noble confession in the presence of many witnesses.
2 Timothy 3:1-12
What others did: But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men of depraved mind, rejected in regard to the faith. But they will not make further progress; for their folly will be obvious to all, just as Jannes’s and Jambres’s folly was also. [note: In Hebrew lore Jannes and Jambres were two of the Egyptian magicians who opposed Moses.]
What Timothy should do:Now you followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance, persecutions, and sufferings, such as happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium and at Lystra; what persecutions I endured, and out of them all the Lord rescued me! Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.
2 Timothy 3:13-15
What others did: But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.
What Timothy should do: You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
2 Timothy 4:3-5
What others did: For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.
What Timothy should do: But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
Titus 1:10 – Titus 2:14
What others did: For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach for the sake of sordid gain. One of themselves, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” This testimony is true. For this reason reprove them severely so that they may be sound in the faith, not paying attention to Jewish myths and commandments of men who turn away from the truth. To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled. They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed.
What Titus should do: But as for you, speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine. Older men are to be temperate, dignified, sensible, sound in faith, in love, in perseverance. Older women likewise are to …
What We Are To Do
If this got your attention at all, I hope the first thing you will do is read the rest of Titus 2 and find Paul’s idea of “sound doctrine.” I suspect our definition of sound doctrine is not a lot like Paul’s.
The other thing we should do is avoid the things Paul complained about (“What others did”) and do the things Paul told Timothy and Titus to do. Of course, Timothy and Titus were part of Paul’s apostolic team, so what you do won’t be exactly like what they were to do. We all have our own gifts. But sound doctrine for Timothy and Titus should be the same as sound doctrine for you. Their pursuit of “righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience, and gentleness” is what we should pursue as well.
While so many were pursuing teaching and doctrine, resulting in confusion, disputing, and self-exaltation, Paul wanted men of God pursuing peace with all men and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord (Heb. 12:14).