As the popularity of leadership theories come and go, the life and battles of the first century church remain as a constant light illuminating the issues facing church leadership development today. This paper examines the values, culture, and struggles of the early church through the lens of Paul’s First Letter to Timothy, written to redirect the focus of God’s people to God’s honor through discernment of true from false teachers. In Timothy, God provides His values, His transcendent objective, and His marching orders for church leadership throughout the ages.
This paper will examine all of “1 Timothy” since the first century church would have read this letter in its entirety. The letter reveals its theme through an inclusió, a stylistic device using the same theme in the beginning and the end of a text to form “a literary envelope” with an overarching message. Paul’s goal is to convince Timothy and the church in Ephesus to live godly lives (1 Tim. 1:16-17; 6:15-16), and to preserve their relationship with God (1:5). His goal is to endure in the fight against false teaching (1:3-11, 19-20; 4:1-10; 6:3-5, 20-21) and to discern truth from falsehood based on God’s Word.
From this context, this paper will identify Paul’s Spirit-given concern about the spiritual vitality of the church, the capacity and willingness of God’s leaders to battle falsehood over the long-term, and the commitment and knowledge to teach God’s truth. The result overlaid on a picture of our current society and culture will reveal God’s enduring passion for His fictive family; the battles faced by the family of God; and the determination, understanding, and skills necessary to fight the battle. The challenge will be for today’s leaders to prepare and develop leaders for tomorrow who value Spirit-led discernment based on God’s Word, who value godliness, who value their relationship with God, and who value endurance in battle.