PILLAR AND FOUNDATION
Lord, I marvel over the mystery of godliness spelled out by Paul.
Read 1 TIMOTHY 3:14—4:5
Reasons for Paul’s Instructions
14 Although I hope to come to you soon, I am writing you these instructions so that, 15 if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth. 16 Beyond all question, the mystery from which true godliness springs is great:
He appeared in the flesh,
was vindicated by the Spirit,
was seen by angels,
was preached among the nations,
was believed on in the world,
was taken up in glory.
4 The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. 2 Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. 3 They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. 4 For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5 because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Today’s passage includes a creed. Write down thanksgivings for how God has worked in your life. Say (or sing) a creed or creedal hymn (e.g., Keith Getty and Stuart Townend’s “In Christ Alone”).
At the heart of today’s passage is the confession in verse 16. Assuming verse form, its striking language appears to be for church worship. Paul commends it to Timothy as a memorable summary for the church to rally around and as a standard of right teaching against which other teaching can be measured. First, it stresses the humanity of Christ and the actuality of his victory. The first three lines affirm the reality of Christ’s incarnation, resurrection and glorification. Then it skillfully weaves those affirming their faith into the creed itself. The fourth and fifth lines stress the significance of the church’s mission, as the Gospel story preached to the nations, which has brought forth a harvest of believers in the world. We are all, Timothy is reminded, part of this story: a powerful thought to emphasize for a church shaken in its faith. The sixth line seems to refer to the ascension. Some writers think it refers to the ascension as the beginning of a continuing exaltation of Christ in heaven (rather than just the end of his earthly ministry).
Paul contrasts this with what the false teachers offer: a pseudo asceticism that says “no” to what God has created (4:3–5), deceit that comes from unholy spirits (1) and teachers who have as little sensitivity to what is right as badly burned fingers (2).
The reference to “pillar” in 3:15 seems to recall the “pillar of fire” in the wilderness which expressed God’s powerful presence. The story the creed embodies (the foundation) and God’s empowering presence (the pillar) come together in the church of the living God (15). God’s truth and power are expressed in community. Both are needed.
To what extent in your life (or in your church) are power and truth equally expressed?
Lord, keep us from adopting pseudo spiritual rules given not from above but from misguided humans here on earth.