How to Conduct Oneself in the Household of God
Philippe R. Sterling
I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth.
1 Timothy 3:15
1 and 2 Timothy and Titus are designated as Pastoral Epistles. Timothy and Titus were emissaries of Paul sent to assist churches with accurate teaching, polity and practice. They were probably written after Paul’s release from his first imprisonment in Rome. Paul writes 1 Timothy because of a possible delay in coming to Ephesus (see 1:3 and 3:14). He needed Timothy to take care of matters such as false teaching in the church, leadership qualifications, and operational practices.
Literary Structure and Content
I. Paul greets Timothy and blesses with grace, mercy and peace (1:1-2).
II. Paul charges Timothy (1:3–6:19).
A. Oppose false teachers (1:3-20).
1. Some have strayed from the truth and are incorrectly teaching about the administration of God which
is based on faith and grace and not law (1:3-11).
2. Paul was entrusted with a message of grace of which he is the foremost recipient (1:12-17).
Note the doxology to God the Father:
Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen (1:17).
3. Paul charges Timothy to fight the good fight and oppose those such as Hymenaeus and Alexander who
have suffered shipwreck in regard to the faith (1:18-20).
B. Organize the church for public worship and leadership (2:1–3:13).
1. Public Worship: Paul instructs Timothy about how believers should act in public worship (2:1-15).
a. Prayer: We are to pray publicly in the church for all people, especially for governmental authorities,
that we might live tranquil lives and bear witness of the man Christ Jesus, the one mediator between
God and man (2:1-7).
b. Role of Men and Women: Men and women have complementary roles in the public worship of the
1) Men: When believers gather together for worship, men are to pray in a holy manner without
2) Women: When believers gather together for worship, women are to dress modestly and not try to be
in charge of men (2:9-15).
This passage runs counter to prevailing feminist ideology. Rather than argue, it may be best to simply present what the passage teaches about the conduct of believing women in the worship assembly of the local church.
The manner in which believing women should conduct themselves in the worship assembly of the local church is two-fold. First, they are to properly adorn themselves in their attire and attitude (2:9-10). Second, they are not to teach or hold authority over men but instead receive instruction in quiet submission (2:11-12). This arrangement is in accordance with the pattern of creation in which Adam was first formed (2:13) and Eve through deception fell into transgression (2:14). Believing women who fulfill their assigned role will receive future eternal rewards (2:15). “Childbearing” functions as a figure of speech in which the part represents the whole — representing the general scope of activities in which believing women engage. Women may give instruction to men apart from the worship assembly, as Priscilla and her husband did in the case of Apollos (Acts 18:26). Also women can share and pray in the worship assembly while honoring male headship (see 1 Cor 11:3-5).
2. Leadership: Paul instructs Timothy about the qualifications for leaders in the church (3:1-13).
a. Elders are to have the right qualities and qualifications (3:1-7).
b. Deacons and deaconesses are to have the right qualities and qualifications (3:8-13).
3. Statement of Purpose: Paul writes this letter so that believers would know how they should
conduct themselves in the household of God which is the church (3:14-16).
Note the hymn on Christ:
He who was revealed in the flesh,
Was vindicated in the Spirit,
Seen by Angels,
Proclaimed among the nations,
Believed on in the world,
Taken up in glory (3:16).
C. Oversee the church by properly dealing with different groups (4:1–6:19).
1. Paul further warns about false teachers and instructs Timothy to be godly and teach rightly so as to
ensure deliverance for both himself and those who hear him (4:1-16).
2. Paul instructs Timothy about what he should teach to different groups of believers (5:1–6:19).
a. Timothy is to treat older men as fathers, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and
younger women as sisters in all purity (5:1-2).
b. Paul gives instructions about older and younger widows (5:3-16).
c. Paul gives instructions about honoring and rebuking leaders (5:17-25).
d. Paul gives instructions about believers in servitude (6:1-2).
e. Paul gives instructions about the danger of pursuing gain and the benefit of pursuing godliness (6:3-16).
Note the charge and doxology to God the Father:
I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate, that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which He will bring about at the proper time—He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen. (6:13-16)
f. Paul gives instruction about the rich — they should be rich in good works (6:17-19).
III. Paul entreats Timothy to stay faithful to the ministry entrusted to him and blesses with grace (6:20-21).
Theological Reflection and Application
The letter presents doctrinal truth in several areas of theology such as Soteriology, Christology and Ecclesiology. Note the following:
- The lawful use of law is to reveal sin (1:9-11).
- Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners (1:15).
- We simply believe in Christ for eternal life (1:16).
- Christians are called believers (4:10; 5:16; 6:2)
- God our Savior desires all men to be saved (2:3-4).
- The man Christ Jesus is the one mediator between God and men (2:5).
- Jesus gave Himself as a ransom for all (2:6).
- The living God is the Savior of all men, especially of believers (4:10).
- The local church is the household of God, the pillar and support of the truth (3:15).
- Believers are to conduct themselves in accordance with their proper roles in the household of God (3:15).