Lesson 2: An Apostolic Interpolation – 1 Timothy 1:3-4

by Pastor Ricky Kurth

You're listening to Lesson 2 from the sermon series "1 Timothy" by Pastor Ricky Kurth. When you're done, explore more sermons from this series.


The “so do” at the end of Verse 4 is italicized, which means they are interpolated words not found in the Greek text. But it is often necessary to add words when translating. Leave out the interpolated words in IISamuel 21:19 and there’s a mistake in your Bible. Here, Paul is telling Timothy, “As I left you behind to do things, so do them” (v.3,4).

If Paul was an apostle, why didn’t he order Timothy to abide there, why beg? The answer is, there is no denominational hierarchy in the work of God (Mt.20:25,26). Rome thinks Peter was the first pope. He wasn’t, but if he was, he didn’t believe in hierarchy (IPe.5:2,3). Apollos told Paul he’d go where Paul told him to go at his convenience (ICor.16:12), sovereign independence that is normally reserved for kings and governors (Acts 23:24 cf. 24:25).

Of course, if Paul had to beg Timothy to stay behind, it must mean he didn’t want to. He was timid, and traveling with Paul was one thing, staying behind quite another, but he manned up again. For his part, Paul was sure he’d be a good fit because the church was based in a school (Acts 19:1-9), and Tim was a bookworm. He knew the books of the Bible well (IITim.3:15), and Paul wouldn’t have left his books with someone who wouldn’t read them (IITim.4:13)

Paul wasn’t stashing him in some dead end out of the way ministry. Ephesus was the ministry that introduced Asia to God (Acts 19:9).Does that tell you anything about the pow-er of a teaching ministry, or how God can use a bookworm?

When Paul asked Timothy to remain in Ephesus to “charge” some to teach no other doctrine, a Bible charge was a serious thing (Acts 16:23,24). Was it important when God charged Abraham to start the Hebrew nation (Gen.26:2-5). Was it important to charge Moses to lead them out of Egypt (Ex.6:13), or when God charged Joshua to lead them into the Promised Land (Deut.3:28), or when God charged the angels to guard the Son of God (Mt.4:6)? If Paul uses the word “charge,” it must be just as important to teach no other doctrine than his. And the words “no other” must be as important as they are in Exodus 20:3.

Paul didn’t just tell Timothy he should teach no other doctrine, he told him to charge others not to because he saw the seeds of apostasy before he left Ephesus (Acts 20:29, 30). This didn’t mean he could only teach Paul’s epistles (IITim.3:16); “no other” meant “otherwise” (See ITim.6:3, 4, the only other place where the same Greek word is used).

A “fable” (ITim.1:4) is “a mythical story meant to teach a lesson. The parallel passage tells us Paul was warning against “Jewish” fables (Tit.1:13,14). Judaism is the context here too, for Jews were famous for “genealogies” (v.4). They needed them to identify priests (Ezr.2:62) and kings (Ps.60:7) and their Messiah (Gen.49:10). So what kind of fables were they telling? Well, Paul warned Titus of “the commandments of men” (Tit.1:14), i.e., the commandments of the Law (Col.2:21,22), which used to be the commandments of God. When the Lord and the 12 taught the Law they healed people, and Jews who rejected the dispensational change would tell fables about men who were still healing people even after the gift of healing had ceased (ITim.5:23), just as men today tell fables, mythical stories designed to teach that the kingdom program continues.

The Jews still taught genealogies because some still thought they were saved because they were Jews (Mt.3:9), as some still think today, and some Jews thought they were better than others because they had a better genealogy (Phil.3:5), just as some saved Jews think they have a leg up on saved Gentiles today because they have a better genealogy. But “endless” means pointless, to no end or purpose, and now that Messiah had come there was no more purpose to genealogies. That’s why God allowed them to burn when the Romans destroyed the temple. Like the Law, genealogies were to “perish with the using” (Col.2:21,22). The law is used to show sinners they need a Saviour (ITim.1:8,9), and should perish with the using. Genealogies should have perished with the using of identifying the Messiah. The Law can’t build us up, “godly edifying which is in faith” (v.4) does that with “the word of His grace” (Acts 20:32).

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