Paul established the church in Ephesus during his third missionary journey. Later, as he passed back near Ephesus on his way to Jerusalem, where he was taken prisoner by the Romans, he warned the Ephesian elders that savage wolves would come. Some even from among their own members, distorting the truth and drawing people away to follow them (Acts 20:29-31). And, sometime later, Paul left Timothy in Ephesus to deal with this problem he had foretold.
As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer or to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. Such things promote controversial speculations rather than advancing God’s work—which is by faith.1 Timothy 1:3-4 NIV
In this passage, Paul gave Timothy instructions concerning these wolves that had come into the church, distorting the truth. Timothy was instructed to forbid the teaching of this false doctrine. I do not know specifically what these false doctrines were. But the specifics of those false doctrines are not important to what Paul is saying here.
Teaching False Doctrine
The teaching of false doctrine is a danger within the body of Christ. It leads many astray who do not follow the example of the Berean believers (Acts 17:11). Ravenous wolves, in the guise of charismatic speakers looking to promote themselves, do much damage within the body of Christ.
It is important for us as believers to be well grounded in the word of God so that we won’t be led astray by falsehood (Eph. 4:11-16). And, if you are a teacher or leader within the church, it is important to point out and refute false doctrine. Especially doctrine that promotes controversy rather than building up the body and advancing the kingdom of God. Hold fast to God’s word. Compare everything you hear against the standard of God’s inspired word.
8 thoughts on “Combating the Teaching of False Doctrine – 1 Timothy 1:3-4”
I believe it is important to know the false teachings. I was just reading this chapter and wondered what the details of those false teachings were.
I believe it is much more important to know the truth. Then when falsehood comes along, regardless of what it is, we are able to recognize it and refute it.
What Timothy faced in Ephesus seemed to include those who were advocating following the Old Testament Law. But there was a mixture of other things as well, likely what people brought with them from their previous religion, trying to incorporate some elements of their paganism.
All of the answers can be found in the book of Galatians chapters 1-2
The specific of false doctrines Paul spoken to Timothy is very important it was about the
Jews who teaches that salvation is by obeying the Laws. These were the Jews who did not believed Jesus Christ as their promised Messiah their King. They were the people who crucified the Lord Jesus Christ. They teach how their fathers during Moses times served God by obeying the Laws. They do not believe that salvation is a grace from God thru faith in the finished work of Jesus on the cross not by works. This is the Gospel of salvation in our dispensation of grace we are now. It was the Mystery hid in God before the foundation of the world and was revealed to Paul alone. ref: Rom.16:25 , Eph.3 and
1 Cor. 2:1-10
The spread of false doctrines indeed included the Judaizers seeking to enforce Old Testament Law on Gentile believers. But that was not the only false doctrine circulating then, see Jude 1:4 and 2 Peter 2:1. And there are many more false doctrines today that are embraced by many.
God’s mystery was indeed revealed to Paul by revelation. But there is no grounds for assuming that it was not also revealed to the other apostles. Paul was called specifically to minister to the Gentiles. And to understand that there is no distinction between Jew and Gentile in Christ. It is common today to forget that there is only one covenant people in God’s plan. And your ethnicity, gender, economic and social status, and all of the other ways we divide ourselves do not matter in the kingdom. All that matters is Christ in us, the hope of glory.
Wonderful teaching and very useful in our local church
I am glad that you find it useful and that your church finds value in it. That is my prayer for this site.
The false teaching you speak of here seems to have arisen mainly, if not entirely, from Jewish sources. Apparently, some evidence of Jewish teaching had surfaced at Ephesus, indicating the passage of some time, intervening between this and Paul’s earlier letters; but there is absolutely no indication that some remote later period in the late first or early second centuries is in view. The only thing proved by this is that Paul’s forebodings for the church in Ephesus (Acts 20:29,30) were at that time being fulfilled.
Of all historical peoples, the Jews, more than any other, were concerned with genealogies; and coupled with this, the sequential mention of the Ten Commandments, one at a time in order, a moment later, emphatically demands that the false teaching here be understood as Jewish improvisations upon the body of Christian truth. The Commandments of God are still in effect, as well as the four hundred that Jesus added in His teachings of His apostles. Paul even mentioned that he did not always allude to the commandments, but stated his own understanding of a subject. However, one must remember that where the Laws of God were concerned, Jesus fulfilled their intent, and put it bluntly to the Pharisees; “Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, ‘This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” (Matthew 15:7-9)