Paul's First Epistle to Timothy, Part 4: The Mysteries of the Faith
Throughout the first part of 1 Timothy chapter 3, Paul discussed guidelines for the selection of qualified supervisors and servants in a Christian assembly – which are in most translations referred to as bishops and ministers – and we made some summary statements concerning Paul’s mention of the “mystery of the faith” in verse 9, where he had instructed that reverent servants of the assembly should “not be double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not shamefully desirous of gain, holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience.” Ostensibly, a sinful man should not be able to hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience, where we see Paul infer that a clear conscience is the product of a moderate lifestyle and keeping of the law. Now in the closing verses of the chapter Paul will mention the “mystery of piety”, or as the King James Version has it, the “mystery of godliness”, and so that we may understand what it is that Paul means by referring to these mysteries, we shall discuss them as he has referred to them throughout his epistles, because they should really not be mysteries any longer.
But before we undertake that endeavor, here we see that Paul addresses Timothy on a personal note. We left off just short of the closing verses of 1 Timothy chapter 3, where Paul had concluded his summary of the credentials which he thought necessary for a man to have before being selected for the leadership of a Christian assembly, that, as Paul had explained, he should have conducted his life in an exemplary manner and Paul gave examples of such conduct. Now we shall continue our discussion where Paul tells his younger companion:
14 These things I write to you hoping to come to you shortly [א and the MT have “come to you more quickly”; the text follows A, C, and D], 15 and if I delay, that you would know how it is necessary to conduct yourself among the household of Yahweh, which is the assembly of Yahweh who lives, a pillar and foundation of the truth.
Here we see that as he was writing this epistle, Paul had expected to come to Timothy shortly. A little later on, in verse 13 of chapter 4 of this epistle, he expresses this intent once again where he says “Until I come, you attend to the reading, the exhortation, the teaching…” As we saw when we presented the opening chapter of this epistle, Paul had left Timothy in Ephesus, ostensibly after the trouble with the silversmiths described in Acts chapter 19, which was most likely the Spring of 56 AD. In 1 Timothy chapter 1 Paul wrote “I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia”, and in the opening verse of Acts chapter 20 we read “And after the uproar was ceased [which was the uproar with the silversmiths that is recorded in Acts chapter 19], Paul called unto him the disciples, and embraced them, and departed for to go into Macedonia.” So this passage also infers that Timothy was left behind in Ephesus.