“But in case I am delayed, 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.”– I Timothy 3:15
There are two truths that are most prominent in this text. The first has to do with God’s ownership of the church, and the second has to do with how we as ministers are to conduct ourselves in “His house.”
There are few, if any, who would conscientiously deny that the Owner of the church is God. And yet, it appears from the admonitions of Scripture that ministers still have a great need of being reminded of this truth. Paul warned the overseers in Ephesus: “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.”1 Paul’s admonition teaches us that the church not only belongs exclusively to God but that He acquired the church at the greatest price—the blood of His dear Son!
In I Timothy 3:15, Paul is again very zealous to guard against any notion that the church belongs to anyone other than God. The church is “God’s household.” It belongs to the “living God” and He does not share title or ownership with anyone! This truth not only communicates to us who God is in relation to the church, but who we are as ministers in the church. We are stewards—nothing more and nothing less. And as stewards, it is not our prerogative to determine how the church is to be led or how her global cause is to be advanced. We have only one duty and that is to obey the directives of the church’s Head and our Master—directives that He has revealed exclusively and inerrantly through what is written!
In the above text, Paul tells Timothy that he is “writing” so that his young disciple might know how to conduct himself in God’s church.2 This brief explanation of Paul’s purpose for writing First Timothy is often overlooked, and yet, it is one of the most important texts in all the Scriptures with regard to the Christian’s relationship to the Scriptures and the minister’s relationship to the church and its ministry:
How can we know for certain how to conduct ourselves in the church of God? How can we know how to advance her cause in the Great Commission? It is only through “what is written.” It is only by summiting to the infallible guidance of the Scriptures. According to I Corinthians 3:10-15, all of God’s ministers, including those serving in missions, will one day be judged for their ministries. How can we have any confidence as we anticipate that great day? How can we know that we have done our Master’s bidding and that our work will remain and bring reward? Such confidence can be ours only to the degree that we submit our lives, moral conduct, and ministry methodology to the direct and clear mandates of the Scriptures. The more closely we submit ourselves to what is written, the clearer our conscience will be and the more confidence we will possess. Consequently, the more we stray from the direct commands of Scripture and give ourselves to our own inventions, the more we open ourselves to Christ’s reprimand and our loss on that Final Day!
- Acts 20:28
- The word “conduct” comes from the Greek word anastrépho, which literally means, “to overturn,” and by implication, “to busy oneself” or “behave oneself.”