Bible and crossThe three-year Lectionary that many Catholics and Protestants hear in public worship gives us a great variety of Holy Scripture.

Yet, it doesn’t tell the whole story.

My series Forbidden Bible Verses — ones the Lectionary editors and their clergy omit — examines the passages we do not hear in church. These missing verses are also Essential Bible Verses, ones we should study with care and attention. Often, we find that they carry difficult messages and warnings.

Today’s reading is from the English Standard Version Anglicised (ESVUK) with commentary by Matthew Henry and John MacArthur.

1 Timothy 3:14-16

The Mystery of Godliness

14 I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that, 15 if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth. 16 Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness:

He[a] was manifested in the flesh,
    vindicated[b] by the Spirit,[c]
        seen by angels,
proclaimed among the nations,
    believed on in the world,
        taken up in glory.


Last week’s post discussed Paul’s qualifications for deacons.

Today’s verses tie the preceding chapters of 1 Timothy together, as Paul wants to travel soon to Ephesus to see Timothy and explain everything in person, although that is not possible, hence his letter (verse 14).

John MacArthur interprets the verse as follows:

So what he is saying here then is, “Here’s the reason I wrote this epistle, that’s what I’m driving at. Here is the underlying reason for this epistle. I’m writing this to you, not only these things already said, but, of course, the things yet to be said.” And there’s no reason to narrow it down any further than that.

Paul continues, saying that if he is delayed, Timothy will know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth (verse 15).

In older translations such as Matthew Henry’s, the verse reads (emphases mine below):

15 But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.

Henry’s commentary says:

Timothy must know how to behave himself, not only in the particular church where he was now appointed to reside for some time, but being an evangelist, and the apostle’s substitute, he must learn how to behave himself in other churches, where he should in like manner be appointed to reside for some time …

Timothy had an urgent errand to complete in Ephesus: ridding the church of its false teachers who had sprung up in its ranks.

It is probable that Paul never did make it back to Ephesus to see Timothy.

MacArthur tells us:

… it may well be that he is saying, “Look, I’m writing this to you to give you instruction on how one is to conduct himself in the church. And in the event that I never get there, that I’m unable to come, I’m writing to be sure that you have this.”

He did say, by the way, to Titus in chapter 3 of Titus, verse 12, that he wanted to meet him and spend the winter with him in Nicopolis. Nicopolis is on the west coast of Greece, about a third of the way up. That would be the opposite direction of Ephesus which would be to the east. And it seems as though Paul did in fact go there and spend the winter there; and there is no evidence at all that he ever did get to Ephesus, we have no knowledge of that. It may well have been that he never did get there. And in the event that he didn’t, it was definitely the leading of the Spirit of God, of course, that he would set these things in writing so that they would have them since he was unable to come.

So to be certain that they get his instruction, he says, “I’m writing it, although I had hoped to come to you quickly. It may be that I’ll be delayed long.” And it is possible, that’s a third-class conditional, that he may be delayed. “And it is possible I may be.” And we have no knowledge that he ever did get there. So it’s important that he writes these things to them.

Now this was always the passion of Paul; I don’t want to belabor the point. But Paul always wrote to a specific issue and with a great concern in his heart; he wanted the church to be set right. Obviously the church at Ephesus had a place in his heart like few others. It was from the base of that church where he spent three years of his ministry that many other churches were founded. He poured his life into that. He loved and nurtured the men who were the leaders of that church in the original group, and to see it go wrong must have been a heartbreaking thing.

Paul’s addition of theology in verse 15 emphasises the importance of keeping the Church pure.

MacArthur gives us some of the Greek words used:

… go to verse 15, the text says, “If I tarry long, that you may know” – and by the way, that “you” is singular – “that you, Timothy,” – he is the first object of the letter – “may know how” – and that, by the way, is oida, which means “the possession of a knowledge or skill necessary to accomplish a goal.” It isn’t ethereal knowing, it isn’t just cognitive knowing, it’s knowing in the sense that you have the skill to do, “that you may know how to behave,” but literally it says, “how it is necessary to behave oneself.”

And with that verb form, that present middle infinitive, he says, “Timothy, I want you to know how it is necessary to behave oneself,” so he broadens it to encompass not only Timothy but everybody. “I want you to know how really everybody ought to behave, how it is necessary for people to conduct themselves in the assembly, in the corporate fellowship.”

So this speaks not so much of the personal Christian life, that’s part of it; but it speaks of our role and our behavior and our conduct as a duly-constituted assembly of redeemed saints. And the present, middle form of the verb, “how it is necessary to behave oneself,” is speaking not of an isolated action or isolated actions, but of a constant consistent pattern of life. “This is how you ought to always conduct yourself, because you’re a part of the house of God,” it says in the Authorized.

The word “house,” look at that in verse 15, is oikos. It could be translated “house,” because it can refer to the building itself. But here it is best to understand it as “household.” It is not speaking of a building, it is speaking of a family. We take it that way, because it’s used three other times in the chapter; and in each case it’s used that way.

In verse 4, “one that rules well his own house” doesn’t mean he rules the mud and the brick and whatever it was that made the house, it doesn’t mean that. It means he rules the people in the house in the substance of the family. Verse 5, the same word is used again, “rule his own house,” and it refers to his household, his people, his possessions. In verse 12, it is used again of the deacon who rules their children – who rule their children and their own houses. And again it’s the idea of the house as a household, as a family, as a group of people. Second Timothy 1:16, Titus 1:11 uses the same word in the same way …

The second thing he says, and this is so interesting, verse 15, we are told how it is necessary to behave oneself in the household of God, and then it says, “which is” – and I want to give you the proper Greek translation“the living God’s church,” – and I translate it that way for a better emphasis consistent with the text – “the living God’s church.” There is not a definite article with church, so “the church of the living God” adds a word. But it is the living God’s church. And any time the article is not there, we look for a stress on the character or the nature of something. And so it is a church which by nature is the living God’s church. We are then, note this, not only the household of God, but we are the living God’s church. We are His family. We are His assembly. Ekklēsia means His group of called out ones.

MacArthur’s sermon gives examples of the same from the Old Testament, which concerned distinguishing God’s people from idol worshippers.

MacArthur reminds us of the cult of Diana in Ephesus to draw a similar comparison:

How wonderful in this city of Ephesus, this little assembly of believers existing, as it were, as an island in a sea of paganism and cultic worship of dead idols was the assembly of the living God. All around them were those who worshiped dead idols.

The main idol of Ephesus was Diana, her female name; Artemis, his male name, the god of Ephesus. Those people belonged to that pagan cult and worship a dead idol. “They are the assembly of a dead idol, but you are the assembly of the living God.” And so, Paul makes much of Timothy’s and the other believers’ identification.

And, people, at the bottom line of our behavior, at the bottom line of our conduct is that we represent the living God, that we are in the household of the living God, and therefore are to conduct ourselves in a way that is consistent with the one whose name and image we bear. So, he says to Timothy, “Timothy, I want you to know, so that you can disseminate to everyone else how to behave in the church, which is the church belonging to the living God.”

MacArthur tells us about the temple of the cult of Diana. Just as it was a pillar and buttress to idolatry, so is the Church to eternal truth:

If you want to know what the church is, that’s it. We are the pillar and foundation of the truth. This is a wonderful designation, and would have vivid imagery to the Ephesians and to Timothy; for in the heart of the city of Ephesus was the temple of Diana, or the temple of Artemis. Let me tell you a little about it.

It was an incredible piece of architecture; huge, massive, buttress, bulwarking foundations laid on the bottom of it; and rising up to support the roof were 127 pillars supporting the tremendously heavy structure of the roof. The pillars were made of solid marble, studded with jewels and overlaid with gold. Each of those pillars was a gift from a king and represented the nobility of the one who gave the pillar. It was a tribute to the one it represented. The foundations, he uses the word hedraiōma, which basically means “the bulwark,” “the buttressing.” The foundation and the pillar held up that whole structure.

Now capturing some of that vivid imagery in the minds of those people, Paul transitions to the church, which as far as architecture goes in actual physical buildings didn’t probably have much to speak of, if anything, in Ephesus; but, in fact, was the foundation and the pillar that held up the truth. As that foundation in the temple of Diana and those pillars were a testimony to error and lies and paganism and cultic false religion, the church is to be the living support of the truth. Now listen, that is the heart of the mission of the church.

Paul ends with essential theology, a statement on the greatness of the mystery of godliness (verse 16).

Henry says:

Christianity is a mystery, a mystery that could not have been found out by reason or the light of nature, and which cannot be comprehended by reason, because it is above reason, though not contrary thereto. It is a mystery, not of philosophy or speculation; but of godliness, designed to promote godliness; and herein it exceeds all the mysteries of the Gentiles. It is also a revealed mystery, not shut up and sealed; and it does not cease to be a mystery because now in part revealed.

MacArthur relates a personal anecdote about revealing this holy mystery to others:

I was on the airplane and flying from Los Angeles to New York, and it’s about a five-hour flight, and I kind of figured the Lord had set me next to someone that I could have a profitable conversation with. So I sat down, and a man sat next to me, and he took out his book to read. I took out my Bible, and I was working on some of the commentaries I’m writing. And he took out his book, and it was the writings of Swami Paramahansa Yogananda something or other, and this big picture of the Swami on the back of his book. And so I said, “Here it is, the conflict of truth and error right here in row 16 A and B.”

So he was a very nice guy. And so he was reading his Swami, and I was reading the Bible; and I just waited for the Lord to give the opportunity. And I introduced myself to him, and he to me, and we had a little bit of a conversation. And then I said, “I notice you’re reading the Swami. Are you a Hindu?” And he said, “Yes, I am a Hindu.”

I said, “Well, that’s very interesting. What is he teaching? What do you believe?” And I can’t remember the exact words, but the statement was something like this: “Truth is only truth until you discover it.”

I said, “Well I don’t know about all of that. But I know the truth.” He said, “You do?” I said, “Yes, I know the truth.” “How do you know the truth?” he said. I said, “Because it’s in the Bible. All of this is the truth right here.” He said, “Well.” And he kind of chuckled in a nice way, you know. Poor soul, looking at me like, “What?”

But anyway, I said, “I know the truth.” He said, “You mean you believe that book is the truth?” I said, “That’s right. It’s all the truth.” He said, “Well, how do you know it’s the truth?” And there it came, right out of the back of my mind and the whole thing on why we know the Bible is the Word of God.

And about twenty minutes later, you know, he was sort of gasping, and it was great. But I just showed him why we know the Bible is true. And we had a wonderful conversation, at the end of which he said something like this: “Am I sentenced all my life to the frustrating seeking for truth that I will never find? I am weary of trying to find some truth that satisfies my heart.” That’s the bottom line.

Well, I went on to explain how he could know the truth, and he is now receiving materials through the mail, sending him some things that might help. But, you see, he was raised in a whole concept of life that says there’s no real truth, everything is some foggy thing; and the frustration of that was very evident.

And so, we are as a church very simply placed in the world to hold up the truth. Isn’t that wonderful? And see, that’s what’s so terrible about churches that abandon the truth. That’s what’s so terrible about churches that deny the inerrancy, the authenticity, the authority of the Word of God. What existence do they have? What justification? We are to hold up the truth … His saving, saving truth.

Now how do we do that? Remember Israel had that task once and they failed. They were given the oracles of God, Romans 3 says, Romans 9. But they failed to hold that treasure, to pass that treasure on. And so we are the new depository where God has put His truth. And we have one job, I don’t care what it is, whether we’re singing songs, we’re upholding the truth; preaching sermons, teaching Bible studies, studying the Bible, reading books, listening to tapes. Even if we have a Sunday School group of kids, we’re upholding the truth. We train teachers, so they can teach the truth. We have flocks so people can discuss the truth. We sit around tables in our fellowship groups to affirm the truth. That’s everything. No matter what the range of ministry is, the heart of it is always the same: we are the pillar and foundation that holds the truth.

Paul then gives Timothy a set of truths about Christ in verse 16, which, if the Apostle were alive today, he probably would have written as bullet points. MacArthur calls it a hymn.

The first one is ‘He was manifested in the flesh’. He referring to God, although the words in Greek are either ‘Who’ or ‘Which’, the latter because God is a spirit. Jesus is all human and all divine, the manifestation of God to mankind.

Henry says:

That he is God manifest in the flesh: God was manifest in the flesh. This proves that he is God, the eternal Word, that was made flesh and was manifest in the flesh. When God was to be manifested to man he was pleased to manifest himself in the incarnation of his own Son: The Word was made flesh, John 1 14.

MacArthur picks up on John 14:6:

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life,” John 14:6. He is truth incarnate. So in the same sense that we uphold the truth of God’s Word, we uphold the truth of God’s Son, don’t we? That’s what we’re all about. We exist for that purpose; that’s the heart of our mission.

MacArthur has more on ‘He’ in the Greek:

Now as I said to you, the subject is – the term in the Greek hos or hos, which means “He.” Literally could mean “He.” Here we would say, “He who,” because it makes better sense. Your Authorized Version has the word “God.” That does appear in some manuscripts. But all manuscripts older than the seventh century and all the best manuscripts of any century all have hos, which has the idea of “He who” rather than God.

We assume then that at a later date, some scribe put “God” in there, trying to emphasize the incarnation a little bit; and it’s true, but it just doesn’t appear in the older manuscripts. So we would translate it “He who,” and then it goes on to give six statements about the heart of our faith, the Lord Jesus Christ.

He — Christ — was vindicated, or justified, by the Spirit, or ‘in the Spirit’.

Henry explains:

He is justified in the Spirit. Whereas he was reproached as a sinner, and put to death as a malefactor, he was raised again by the Spirit, and so was justified from all the calumnies with which he was loaded. He was made sin for us, and was delivered for our offences; but, being raised again, he was justified in the Spirit; that is, it was made to appear that his sacrifice was accepted, and so he rose again for our justification, as he was delivered for our offences, Rom 4 25. He was put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit, 1 Pet 3 18.

MacArthur says:

Secondly, and very importantly, He was justified in the Spirit, justified in the Spirit. “Justified,” dikaioō; we get the word “righteous” from it. It means “to be declared righteous.”

And I believe the best way to understand this initially is, that in His flesh He was human. In His Spirit He was divine. He was declared to be righteous with respect to His spiritual nature. He was human, yes, in the flesh, but divine, yes, in the Spirit. His human spirit, His spiritual character, spiritual nature, whatever you want to call it, the person living within that physical body was perfectly righteous. And that is why the Father said, “This is My beloved Son,” – Matthew 3:15 – “in whom I am well pleased.”

He needed no Savior. He needed no redeemer. For He was, according to 1 John 2:1, “Jesus Christ the righteous.” What a great title: Jesus Christ the righteous

Romans 1:3 says that “Jesus Christ our Lord was made of the seed of David according to the flesh.” He was human. He came through the line of David. He was, as to His flesh, in the family of David. But, “He was declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness by the resurrection from the dead.” And there I would say that it was His resurrection that was the affirmation that He was holy; and the Spirit of holiness, the Holy Spirit affirmed His holiness in the resurrection.

You say, “How so?” Well, if Jesus had had any sin in His life when He died on the cross He would have stayed – what? – dead. He never would have come out of the grave. If there had been any sin in His life for which He had to pay and there was no Savior for Him, He would have died and it was the end. The affirmation then of His perfect righteousness came when the Holy Spirit raised Him from the dead.

So He is holy and just in His spiritual nature as affirmed by the Holy Spirit. And it may well be that Paul’s intention here is to take both into consideration when he simply says, “justified in the Spirit,” – justified in His own Spirit, which would also be with a capital S, for He is God; and justified by the Holy Spirit in the declaration of His righteousness made when He was raised from the dead, proving He had died in perfect holiness for the sins of others, and did not have to pay for any sins of His own. He is righteous. So when you look at Jesus Christ, there’s no flaw in Him. There’s no flaw in Him. He is perfectly righteous.

He was seen by angels.

Henry reminds us:

They worshipped him (Heb 1 6); they attended his incarnation, his temptation, his agony, his death, his resurrection, his ascension; this is much to his honour, and shows what a mighty interest he had in the upper world, that angels ministered to him, for he is the Lord of angels.

MacArthur gives us the Greek for ‘seen’ as well as times during our Lord’s earthly life when angels attended Him:

Horaō is the Greek word. It means “to see,” “to visit,” “to observe,” to look after.” It could be the idea of being attendant to; and that’s true. Through His life and ministry the angels observed, and watched, and visited, and looked over Him, and attended to Him.

That was true at His birth. They were there announcing His birth to His earthly father, or step-father, Joseph. They were there telling the shepherds. The angels were a part of His birth, Matthew 1, Matthew 2. The angels were in their particular role as servants to Him throughout His life. They were there to assist Him in His temptation. After He came out of that, the angels came, and in a wonderful way did minister to Him. They are not always mentioned as being a part of the ongoing ministry of Christ, but there’s little doubt in anyone’s mind that they were there serving Him.

When He went into the garden to pray in Luke 22:43, an angel from heaven came and strengthened Him. And we could say, “Well, the angels, yes, He was seen by angels through His life and His ministry, and through the times of His greatest need. And they were there when they needed to be there in those times of weakness; they were there and would have been there if He had called on them.” He said to Pilate, “If I ask God, He’ll give me legions of them.” But the best way to see this is not to see the angels in a broad sense attending to His birth and His temptation and His ministry and so forth, but to see that in His death, which is the focal point of this passage, as He goes to the cross to die, He is seen by the angels.

What do we mean by that? Well, first of all, even the fallen angels. In 1 Peter chapter 3, it says, “Christ suffered for sins, the just for the unjust,” – there’s that same idea of His righteousness – “in order to bring us to God,” – it says – “He was put to death in the flesh, but He was alive in the Spirit;” – His body was dead, His Spirit was alive. His body was dead as His Spirit was alive – “by which He went down and preached” – or proclaimed a triumph – “to the spirits in prison.” And it goes to describe them and says, “He is now gone into heaven, on the right hand of God; angels, authorities, powers being made subject to Him.”

Now here’s the thought. When Jesus died on the cross, His body was dead, His Spirit descended into the place where demons are bound – demons who sinned during the time of Noah and have been in everlasting chains. He went down there and proclaimed a triumph over them. The demons that aren’t bound in chains in the pit, they knew He was dying on the cross; they were right there, they could see all of that. The ones that it might miss, He went right down into the pit and announced His triumph. While His body was dead, His Spirit was alive. He went back again, and you remember, rose from the dead after that.

Colossians 2:14 says that He, having spoiled principalities and powers, made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in His death. On the cross, He triumphed over the hosts of hell, He triumphed over the fallen angels, He triumphed over the bound angels who were locked in the pit and couldn’t get up to the earth to see what was going on. He went and announced the victory over them. So there on the cross He was seen by fallen angels, and He was seen in all of His wonder and glory as the victor over sin and death and hell.

He was also seen by the holy angels. The holy angels, they were there, they were a part of that. Matthew chapter 28, there was a great earthquake. An angel of the Lord descended from heaven, came, rolled back the stone from the door and sat on it. His countenance, or face, was like lightning; his clothing white as snow; and for fear of him the keepers did shake and became as dead men. And the angel answered and said to the women, “Fear not.” And you know the story. The angel was there.

When later on His tomb became available and they went in to see, they could see angels there. The angels attended the resurrection, they were a part of it. You read about it in Mark 16, you read about it in Luke 24, John chapter 20. The angels also were there later on when He launched things in the book of Acts, and the disciples saw Him going away; and there He was going in the presence of the holy angels.

But what it’s saying is that when Jesus came into the world in human flesh, spiritually He was God, humanly He was man, went to the cross and died, and in His death He triumphed over all angelic beings. The holy angels are in awe and worship Him. The fallen angels are in awe and despise Him; but they are defeated. The whole angelic host saw the wonder of His death and resurrection. And all angels are made subject to Him in that glorious work on the cross.

He is proclaimed among the nations, or, in older translations, ‘the Gentiles’.

Henry says:

This is a great part of the mystery of godliness, that Christ was offered to the Gentiles a Redeemer and Saviour; that whereas, before, salvation was of the Jews, the partition-wall was now taken down, and the Gentiles were taken in. I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, Acts 13 47.

This happened at the very beginning, with the Magi visiting Jesus when He was still a baby.

MacArthur reminds us that Jesus also entered Gentile territory during His ministry, and set the Apostles the mission of preaching to Jew and Gentile alike:

They knew from the very beginning they would be fishers of men. They knew from the very beginning that it wouldn’t just be Jews, it would also be Gentiles. After all, He first disclosed who He was to a half-breed Samaritan woman. He Himself ministered over the border into Gentile territory. He ministered at great length in what was known as Galilee of the Gentiles. He would be the Savior of the whole world.

He was believed on in the world.

Henry says:

Many of the Gentiles welcomed the gospel which the Jews rejected. Who would have thought that the world, which lay in wickedness, would believe in the Son of God, would take him to be their Saviour who was himself crucified at Jerusalem? But, notwithstanding all the prejudices they laboured under, he was believed on, etc.

MacArthur reminds us how the Book of Acts recorded the huge growth in the Church from the first Pentecost:

The preaching resulted in faith, it resulted in salvation. The first time the gospel was preached in Jerusalem after the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the first time it was publicly preached, three thousand people believed, and three thousand people continued in faith in the life of the church, Acts 2:42 says. There had been belief already …

By the time you get to Acts 4, there are thousands more, maybe twenty-thousand plus. Then you go to chapter 8, the church is persecuted, it’s scattered. Philip takes the gospel to the Samaritans; there’s a great revival there, and they’re being saved. Then an Ethiopian eunuch gets saved. The next thing you know a Gentile gets saved named Cornelius. And then Paul is off on his missionary journey, and multitudes are saved as the word of God is spread across the then known world.

Finally, and most importantly, He was taken up in glory.

Henry says:

He was received up into glory, in his ascension. This indeed was before he was believed on in the world; but it is put last, because it was the crown of his exaltation, and because it is not only his ascension that is meant, but his sitting at the right hand of God, where he ever lives, making intercession, and has all power, both in heaven and earth

Henry concludes:

It being a great mystery, we should rather humbly adore it, and piously believe it, than curiously pry into it, or be too positive in our explications of it and determinations about it, further than the holy scriptures have revealed it to us.

MacArthur gives us advice on how we can uphold the truth:

We hold up the truth this way. First, by hearing it. First, by hearing it. Jesus said, “If you have ears to hear, you better hear,” Matthew 13:9. In Revelation 2 and 3, the Spirit says, “If you have ears to hear, you better hear.” And you need to hear the Word of God. You can’t uphold the Word if you don’t hear the Word … “Happy is the man who hears Me,” God says.

Secondly, memorize it. You hold it up when you memorize it. It’s not enough to just hear it, you’ve got to have it in your memory

There are a lot of people who just – they don’t know the Scripture, they’ve never memorized it. Their Christianity is limited to coming and hearing. But there’s a second step: you need to memorize the Word of God, to commit it to your mind, so that it’s there, so you can give a reason for the hope that is within you to anyone who asks you. You can give an answer to every man for the faith that you possess.

Third thing is to meditate on it. In Joshua 1:8, it tells us that we are to take the book of the law and meditate on it day and night, and observe to do all that is written therein, and then we will have a prosperous way and a successful life. We are to hear the Word, to memorize the Word. Psalm 119:11 says that’s hiding it in our hearts so we don’t sin …

Fourth, study it. Second Timothy 2:15, “Make diligence to study that you might be approved of God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” So we will be able as a church – and I’m asking you as an individual, to recognize that you’re involved in this too; whatever your ministry might be, your purpose is to hold up the truth …

… I tell you, we are so bombarded with words in our society, it’s a wonder any of our minds can still meditate on the things of God. There is a tremendous need for insulation in that area. Fourthly, study it, dig into it, analyze it, understand it.

Then, fifthly, holding up the truth means obeying it. What good would it do to hear, memorize, meditate, study, and then not obey it? That would be hypocrisy. Obey it. Luke 11:28, Jesus said, “Blessed is the man who hears My word and keeps it,” – or – “hears My words and keeps them.” We are to be obedient. We are to do what it says.

Sixthly, we are upholding the truth in the church by defending it. Paul says in Philippians 1:17, “I’m set for the defense of the gospel.” The truth is always attacked, people always coming against the truth; and we need to be able to defend that. We need to be set for the defense of the gospel. So we hear it, memorize it, meditate on it, study it, obey it, defend it.

Seventh, live it. Titus 2:10, “We are to adorn the doctrine of God.” How do you adorn the doctrine of God? By living it. Colossians 3:16, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.” And then what happens is songs, hymns, spiritual songs, right marriage relationships, right parental/child relationships, right employee/employer relationships. Everything flows out of a Word-controlled life. So we are to live it.

And the last way we hold it up is by proclaiming it, by proclaiming it, “going into all the world and preaching the gospel to every creature, by teaching all men to observe everything Christ has said,” as it says in Matthew chapter 28, verse 20.

So we then hold up the truth. We hear it, memorize it, meditate on it, study it, obey it, defend it, live it, and proclaim it; and that’s the mission of the church at its very heart. “We are as a church called into this world to shine as lights in the darkness,” – Philippians 2:15 says – “holding forth the word of life,” – verse 16 goes on from there – “holding forth the word of life.” That is our task. We are, in this world, the foundation and the pillar that holds up the truth.

What a great mission we have, isn’t it? What a wonderful calling we have.

Paul goes on to discuss those who depart from the faith.

Next time — 1 Timothy 4:1-5