“Tactics for Life and Ministry from First Timothy”
A Bible Study of 1 Timothy
First Timothy, Second Timothy and Titus are referred to as the Pastoral Epistles. These letters were written by Paul to two young protégés in the pastorate, Timothy and Titus. These letters are very personal and while they are addressed to Timothy and Titus who were pastors they would likely have been read to the congregations like Paul’s other letters. There is a great deal of practical information for those in and outside of ministry. And besides, for the Christian, whatever station in life you are placed in by the sovereign hand of God that is your platform for ministry and to serve the Lord. Therefore the title for our study in this First Epistle of Timothy is Tactics for Life and Ministry from First Timothy.
What makes these epistles so valuable are that they were among the last of Paul’s writings. Usually the last things said or written by a person are things they feel are highly important and valuable to pass on to those they are speaking with or writing to. Such is the case with these Pastoral Epistles; Paul speaks with passion and purpose. That makes these epistles or letters interesting and important for all of us.
Paul is the stated author of these epistles. They are believed to have been written by him from Macedonia around the year 62 A.D. Timothy is referred to by Paul as “a true son in the faith” (1 Tim. 1:2) and “my son” and it is believed that Timothy may have come to Christ under Paul’s ministry or that at least Paul took this young man under his wing to disciple him as a spiritual son (Acts 16:1; 1 Cor. 4:17; 1 Timothy 1:18; 2 Timothy 2:1). Paul loved his younger disciple and spoke highly of him (1 Tim. 1:2, 18).
Timothy came from mixed parents; his father was a Gentile and his mother was Jewish (Acts 16:1-3). He was raised by a grandmother (“Lois”) and mother (Eunice”) who were of the faith (2 Tim. 1:5). Timothy would eventually be ordained for ministry (1 Tim. 4:14). As Paul’s disciple he was involved in a number of ministries. Scriptures indicate his involvement in ministry at: Troas (Acts 17:14), Thessalonica (1 Thess. 3:1, 2, 6), Corinth (Acts 18:1-5; 1 Cor. 4:17; 2 Cor. 1:19), Macedonia (Acts 19:22), Jerusalem (Acts 20:1-5), Rome (Phil. 1:1; 2:19, 23; 2 Tim. 4:9, 11, 21), and it is believed Paul set him up as the pastor at the church in Ephesus (1 Tim. 1:3).
As to his character Timothy mentions he was raised from childhood to be godly and trained in the knowledge of God’s word (2 Tim. 3:15). Paul spoke of him as a faithful servant of Christ (Phil. 2:22). Paul had confidence enough in Timothy to send him to places to convey to congregations the ways of Paul (1 Cor. 4:17). As his mentor Paul encouraged Timothy to be responsible to use the spiritual gifting God had blessed him with (2 Tim. 1:6-18). Paul exhorted Timothy to be strong in God’s grace (2 Tim. 2:1-13). He told him to be alert to apostasy (2 Tim. 3:1-9). Paul reminded timothy that his best defense against apostasy and error was to continue to grow in his understanding and reliance upon the word of God (2 Tim. 3:14-17). Timothy was a man of the word of God. Paul affirmed and reaffirmed that in timothy’s life and ministry.
Timothy appears to have had some physical health issues referred to by Paul as “frequent infirmities (1 Tim. 5:23). Paul mentions Timothy’s “tears” (2 Tim. 1:4). This could be evidence that Timothy was an emotional person. Paul’s exhortation, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Tim. 1:7) may indicate that though Timothy was involved in ministry he may have been fearful at times and in need of encouragement to be strong in faith. Paul ends his first epistle to Timothy with a fervent exhortation, “O Timothy! Guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and idle babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge” (1 Tim. 6:20-21). This may indicate that Timothy was impressionable allowing his attention to be diverted from things of prime importance to things of peripheral importance. Timothy needed to stick to the priorities in life and ministry which Paul had discipled him to do.
While Paul had entrusted Timothy with responsibility in ministry he mentions his need for further instruction (1 Tim. 4:12-16). Whether we are talking about our life in Christ, ministry or in particular the calling to be a pastor, whatever station we are in we need to continuously grow in our relationship with the Lord. We grow in our walk with the Lord through the study of God’s word, prayer, fellowship and service. Like any other healthy relationship, we grow in our experience with Jesus.
Toward the end of Paul’s opening chapter in 1 Timothy he comments that his desire for Timothy is that “you may wage the good warfare” (1 Tim. 1:18). By using this metaphor of war Paul communicates that Timothy (and all those who are Christians) need to view life and ministry to some extent as being in a war. We have a very real enemy; the devil (e.g. 1 Peter 5:8-9). Jesus was attacked and tempted by the devil (Matthew 4) and He said His followers should expect the same (Matthew 10). We aren’t to use worldly weapons in our fight (2 Cor. 10:3-5). God provides spiritual weaponry for this battle (e.g. Ephesians 6:10-18). And in this first epistle of Paul to Timothy he is inspired by the Holy Spirit to give us holy tactics to life and minister by. Paul wants Timothy to be able to fight well and fight effectively for the glory of God. God’s desire is the same for us.
A “tactic” is an action or strategy carefully planned to achieve a specific end or mission objective.  Our tactical purpose is to reach our mission objective. There should be a mission objective in what we do. Reaching our mission objective is called “success.” Paul’s first letter to Timothy is his inspired battle plan for a successful life and ministry. Success is our objective. How we define success though is important. If we have a wrong definition of success we will fight the wrong battles, go in the wrong direction, and fail in our objective. Success is measureable but the measure of your success can determine your sense of success.
The mission objective of the world is self-centered. The world gauges and measures success by such things as how you look, how much money you earn, educational achievement or degrees, command over people (e.g. family; work; sports; fans), numbers of people, self-glory. But listen to what the Lord says in His word about worldliness:
· 1 John 2:15–17 (NKJV) - 15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. 17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.
Success from God’s perspective is much different. As Christians who live by God’s word our mission objective is God centered: to glorify God and love Him supremely (1 Cor. 10:31; Mat. 22:34-40). God is our Creator, Sovereign, Sustainer, Savior and LORD. God alone can and should be worshipped. When creation or humanity is the center and worshipped it leads to pride and sin. Only God is worthy of our worship. We exist because of Him. Because of sin we deserve eternal condemnation. He alone in grace and love has justly made a way for us to be forgiven our sins and live eternally with Him. Therefore He alone is worthy to be glorified and praised (e.g. Ephesians 1; Colossians 1; Rev. 4 and 5). Our mission objective is therefore to glorify God. This mission objective creates a much different definition of success.
Success from God’s perspective is based on eternal value not temporal value and thus looks very different from the worldly view of success. There are seven measures of success from the godly Biblical perspective. These are:
1 Corinthians 4:1–2 (NKJV) - Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2 Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.
The first measure of godly measure of success is faithfulness. This means staying true to and following the Lord regardless of temptation, trial and life circumstance. God is faithful to help us be faithful (1 Cor. 10:13). Faithfulness is first in our measures of success for it is when we put out faith in Jesus and trust Him as Savior that we are forgiven our sins and regenerated by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9-10; 10:8-10).
Matthew 22:36–40 (NKJV) - 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” 37 Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
John 13:34–35 (NKJV) - 34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (cf. also ; Luke 6:27-36; John 21:15-19; 2 Cor. 5:14-21)
Romans 5:5 (NKJV) - 5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
The Holy Spirit pours God’s love into our heart when we are indwelled by Him at conversion (Romans 5:5). Love is the evidential fruit of our spiritual growth (Galatians 5:22-24). And love is our greatest measure of success in life and ministry.
When asked about the greatest commandment Jesus said it was to love God supremely and love others sacrificially. His followers were to be known by their love. This measure of success is rudimentary to all others.
Matthew 20:25–28 (NKJV) - 25 But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. 26 Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. 27 And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave—28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
John 13:14–16 (NKJV) - 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. 16 Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him.
One of the stated purposes of Jesus was that He came to serve. As His followers we measure success by following in His steps and serving Him by serving others (1 Peter 2:211 John 2:6).
Living by faith –
2 Corinthians 5:7 (NKJV) - 7 For we walk by faith, not by sight.
Hebrews 11:6 (NKJV) - 6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
You can’t please God without faith. Therefore living by faith and applying by fiath His word in life is an eternal measure of success.
Philippians 4:6–7 (NKJV) - 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:17 (NKJV) - 17 pray without ceasing,
Prayer is our declaration and evidence of dependence on God. Apart from Jesus we can do nothing (John 15:5). Therefore our prayer lives measure our potential and the practical amount of success in our lives.
Holiness/living a holy life -
Job 31:1 (NKJV) - “I have made a covenant with my eyes; Why then should I look upon a young woman?
Romans 12:1–2 (NKJV) - I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
1 Thessalonians 4:3 (NKJV) - 3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality;
1 Thessalonians 4:7 (NKJV) - 7 For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness.
Living holy live, lives separate from the world and dedicated to God in Christ by the Holy Spirit is our measure of success. Something that is holy is something that is set apart unto God for His use. We live holy when all we do is done with a heart and thought to serve and please God.
Right attitude –
1 Corinthians 15:10 (NKJV) - 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
Philippians 1:15–18 (NKJV) - 15 Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from goodwill: 16 The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains; 17 but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel. 18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice.
Philippians 4:4 (NKJV) - 4 Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!
The right attitude is one where we live by God’s grace. Grace is getting what you don’t deserve from God. It comes freely from Him based on His nature not our works or efforts. We simply receive grace. We cannot earn God’s grace. To try and do so is to try and bribe God. God does not take bribes (e.g. 2 Chronicles 19:7). We are who we are by God’s grace and we do what we do by God’s grace. In light of this our attitude should be one of joyfulness because God is in control. Paul’s letter to the Philippians was written from a prison cell and though written from prison his prime emphasis was to be joyful. Living by grace enabled Paul to transcend circumstances and be joyful; steady and assured that God was in control no matter what.
These are the godly measures of success and they should be reflected therefore in the way we live. Our tactic or strategy to reach our mission objective incorporate these measures of success. When we live by these measures of success or life tactics our highest mission objective of glorifying God is reached. Living like this pleases God. That is a diametrically different definition of success than the world has. 
Our outline for 1 Timothy is as follows:
I. Tactical Foundations for Life and Ministry – 1 Timothy 1
II. Tactical Communications for Life and Ministry – 1 Timothy 2
III. Tactical Qualifications of leadership for Life and Ministry – 1 Timothy 3
IV. Tactical Preparations for the Latter Days Life and Ministry – 1 Timothy 4
V. Tactical Relations for Life and Ministry – 1 Timothy 5
VI. Tactical Positions for Life and Ministry – 1 Timothy 6
Paul wrote the Pastoral Epistles at the end of his life. He was inspired by the Spirit in what he wrote and no doubt there is a wealth of experiential lessons he learned in his ministry walk with the Spirit that he passes on to Timothy and to us. These are tactics that have been tested true. We should pay close attention to them and as we walk in the Spirit implement them in our lives.
In this first epistle to Timothy Paul will be providing tactics (actions and strategies) to help Timothy and us fight and finish well so that in the end we will be successful as God defines successfulness. If we follow these tactics we will fulfill our greatest objective which is to glorify God in all we do (1 Cor. 10:31). To the glory of God! Let’s get to training.
 A great book that discusses true success in life and ministry is Liberating Ministry from the Success Syndrome by Kent and Barbara Hughes (Crossway Books: Wheaton, IL) 1987.