The Apostle Paul is commonly considered the man used of God to establish the framework of what we now call Independent Fundamental Baptist churches [for those not in the know, IFB churches have followed a long line of churches with various names, including Paulicians, as our churches are built after the model set forth in the Pauline Epistles. The name Baptist was given to us many years ago when we were the 'Anabaptists,' or, re-baptizers. The Baptism by immersion of believers only was frowned upon by the Catholic church, so the term 'Anabaptist' was given, which the Christians accepted]. He wrote a total of fourteen epistles to various churches and men urging them to live for Christ and give themselves a sacrifice for Him. Paul’s opening words to Timothy in one of his letters include, “charge some that they teach no other doctrine… rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do.” (1 Tim. 1:1,4). To have only the truth taught, that should be the desire of any Christian. God chose to provide His entire Word to humanity, so that those who know Christ can live according to His will and desire. This Word includes Paul’s writings, and in this report the doctrines and standards put forth for the church in Paul’s epistles to Timothy.
The epistles written to Timothy are known for the qualifications set forth for any who desire the office of a bishop. These epistles are known as Pastoral Epistles, because they outline what is needed for a man to hold a church office. In 1 Timothy 3:1-7, Paul describes what is necessary for a man to be a bishop (an overseer, or a pastor). To be a bishop one must observe and meet the following qualifications: be blameless, a husband, married, vigilant and sober, of good behaviour, hospitable, be a teacher, not a drinker or a striker, not greedy, have patience, not be a brawler, not covetous, rule his own house with children in subjection, not be a novice (be trained and studied), and have a good reputation among the lost. Also, deacons must meet a list of extensive requirements. Deacons must be grave, not be doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy, have a good conscience, be married, and rule their children well (1 Tim. 3:8, 9, 12). Deacons must also be proven faithful before given the office (1 Tim. 3:10). Beyond the clear qualifications, Paul’s writing also requires for ministers to be spiritually trained (1 Tim. 3:6, 4:13; 2 Tim. 2:15, 3:13-17). All men who serve God in any capacity must have a good testimony (1 Tim. 3:7, 4:12, 15, 16) and avoid profane and vain babblings (1 Tim. 6:20, 21; 2 Tim. 2:14, 16, 23). Aside from these, men must put the brethren in remembrance, flee the love and riches and lust, endure, teach, reprove and rebuke, and evangelize. Though in this current society it may seem impossible to find men who meet these criteria, God has not tapped dry. Thank God for those men who continue to serve Him in word and deed.
Second, Paul wrote a great deal concerning false teachers and heresies. Repeatedly, Paul stresses to Timothy not to give heed to fables or vain speech, and to withdraw himself from those who depart from sound doctrine. Each epistle carries a description of men who depart from the truth and live in heresy (1 Tim. 4:1-7; 2 Tim. 3:1-13). Paul teaches that these who depart from the truth are of no good to the ministry, and that he himself had discarded men who taught blasphemy (1 Tim. 1:19, 20; cf. 2 Tim. 2:17, 18). The appropriate way to handle a blasphemer in the church is to separate yourself from them, and avoid their fables and babblings. Also remember that Paul taught concerning those who mistreat the men of God, “Of whom be thou ware also; for he hath greatly withstood our words.” (2 Tim. 4:14, 15). Furthermore, Paul teaches to avoid “oppositions of science falsely so called…” (1 Tim. 6:20), which is particularly significant in the day that the church is in now. In the name of science men try to discredit the Bible and disprove God’s existence. Remember that Paul taught us to avoid these oppositions, not fuel them with contention and insecurity. This is not the only age the church has faced heresy in, may the church never forget God’s Word on this ever important subject.
Third, Paul goes to great lengths in his epistles to Timothy to instruct the church on appropriate ‘polity’ and responsibility. The truth is that the church is responsible for a great amount of duties in this world. Paul exhorts in 1 Timothy 2 that the church pray for all men, including the government and authorities. Beyond that, the church is responsible to care for widows who are widows indeed (1 Tim. 5:3-6, 8-16). Believers individually should care for widow relatives, but those widows who have proven themselves faithful are to be cared for by the church. Younger widows are encouraged to remarry and raise a family for God (1 Tim. 5:14). The church ought to operate as a family, caring one for another. Paul outlines in 1 Tim 5:1-2 that the elder men should be treated as fathers, the younger men as brothers, also the elder women as mothers and the younger women as sisters. As a family, the duties laid on the church are the responsibility of all believers. The church should not operate as a corporation with the pastor as the head, but rather a corporation with Christ as the head (we being His body). As the Head of the corporation gives an order, it is necessary for each other part of the body to do its function so the end of the order can be accomplished. When there is a prayer request, it falls on the whole body to pray. When there is a financial need, it falls on the entire body to give. In this way, the church completes it responsibilities.
Last, there are a few passages of the epistles to Timothy that discuss the ‘sensitive’ issue of gender. It is important, first, to note that many will take the passages in the Bible such as 1 Tim. 2:9-15 and become dictatorial and cultish. The Bible is clear on the role of a woman in the church, but Christians must be careful not to add to the Scriptures on this matter, which has become all the more delicate since women have taken a dominant position in the home and the church. First of all, Paul wrote under the Holy Spirit’s power that women ought to dress modestly, accomplish good works for God, be learners of His Word, and be silent. The Bible is clear when it states that it is a shame for women to speak in the church (the church not being a building, but an assembling of believers; 1 Cor. 14:34, 35; cf. 1 Tim. 2:11, 12). Women have an important role in the churches of today, and let us remember that it is required of overseers and deacons to have wives (1 Tim. 3:2, 12). In fact, deacon’s wives are held to a high standard just as deacons themselves. Paul writes these requirements of a deacon’s wife: to be grave, not slanderers, to be sober, and faithful in all things (1 Tim. 3:11). It is often said that a pastor would be nothing without his wife aiding him, and this is true. Be sure to consider the women of today’s churches, treating them with love and care as mothers and sisters. Let no Christian ever take for granted the women God has blessed for their church.
Paul found it necessary to write concerning these things to Timothy. As Christians, who believe in the local independent church, believers must consider all of the standards and doctrines of the church set forth in Scripture. The Bible speaks truth plainly, whether a man chooses to accept it or not. God help Christians to build up strong churches according to His Word, and not of ourselves.
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