“But thou [Timothy], O man of God…pursue righteousness, piety, faith, love, endurance, meekness of spirit. Strive earnestly in the good conflict of faith. Lay hold of eternal life, to which thou hast been called, and hast confessed the good confession before many witnesses” (1 Timothy 6:11–12).
5. David: Desiring order in the House of God—1 Timothy 3:1–16
1 Timothy 3 deals with the matter of order in the house of God, which is described as “the assembly of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth,” and David is the Old Testament man of God who exhibits this feature of the man of God.
In this section Paul deals with the matter of elders, men who exercise spiritual oversight in the house of God, and deacons, whose responsibilities relate to the secular or temporal affairs of the assembly, and outlines the qualities necessary for both the man and his wife if such work is to be done according to God’s pleasure, for a faithful home life is a prerequisite for a corresponding work to be taken up in the assembly (see v. 5).
In 2 Chronicles 8:14 Solomon in instituting God’s order in the newly-built Temple set out the divisions or courses of the priests’ roles according to the order laid down before his death by David, who, in this respect, is called “the man of God.” David, perhaps more so than any other man before or after him, had a deep desire for God’s house. Consider his words in 2 Samuel 7:3 and see how he longed for the ark of God to have a permanent resting place, and even though he was forbidden to build it himself as God said he was the man of war and not the man of peace, he dedicated the remaining years of his life to gathering together all the materials that were needed for his son Solomon to build it and even set out the order of the priests and services to be conducted there.
Again, God has highlighted the best example of a man with such an intense desire for His order to be maintained in His house by declaring David to be a man of God in connection with this matter, and Paul would draw our attention to it also by addressing this matter of godly order in God’s house in his first epistle to Timothy. This appears to have been the central reason for his writing the epistle; he desired to go to Ephesus and speak with Timothy face to face about it, but so important was this matter that it could not wait, and he felt impelled to write to him (vv. 14–15) and to remind him of the central testimony that the church is to bear, the mystery of piety—“God has been manifested in flesh, has been justified in the Spirit, has appeared to angels, has been preached among the nations, has been believed on in the world, has been received up in glory” (v. 16). The man of God is deeply exercised that this mystery of piety be seen in the assembly through its godly order.
6. Shemaiah: Relying upon God’s faithfulness in a day of breakdown—1 Timothy 4:1–16
In chapter 4, Paul detailed what the Spirit expressly said concerning “the latter times.” Having spoken previously of the order in the assembly according to the thoughts of God, he now spoke of the departure that would come in as a result of man’s failure to maintain this order; and after addressing what apostate teachers would bring in, he continued with Timothy’s responsibilities in light of this failure. Teaching was to be very prominent in Timothy’s actions; he had also to be an example in his own conduct that what he taught be lived out before his hearers.
The man of God who would exhibit what our actions should be in light of the departure from the truth is Shemaiah. He came on the scene at a pivotal moment in Israel’s history. Ten tribes had rebelled against Israel’s rightful (but rather foolish) king—Rehoboam, the son of Solomon—and instead followed Jeroboam. Rehoboam gathered an army to fight against Jeroboam to reclaim the whole kingdom for himself, but God sent a man of God, Shemaiah, to tell Rehoboam to refrain from fighting against Jeroboam, saying, “Thus saith Jehovah: Go not up, nor fight with your brethren, the children of Israel; return every man to his house, for this thing is from me” (1 Kings 12:24). This is the only verse in Scripture concerning Shemaiah—but what important lessons it brings before us. The ten rebellious tribes were still their brothers. They were so in the eyes of God and ought also to have been in the eyes of Rehoboam. What had occurred had been permitted by God because of Solomon’s unfaithfulness, and this chastening had to be submitted to.
To apply these lessons today, we must see that the outward divisions that have occurred cannot be reversed; we cannot go back to a Pentecostal state of things when all believers were of one mind and God’s power was publicly seen (though as 2 Timothy 2:22 makes clear, it is still our responsibility to gather with all those who call upon the Lord out of a pure heart). The man of God is to submit to the will of God in this matter. Neither must he lose sight of the fact that the assembly consists of every believer in Christ wherever or with whom they may gather. The body of Christ comprises every believer on earth at any one time, and the man of God is not sectarian in his outlook but, recognising this fact, he is to seek the blessing of every saint whether they gather with him or not. Doing so he will be an example to all, and both save himself and those that hear him (1 Timothy 4:15–16).
7. Anonymous men of God: Standing for the truth in a dark day, not overlooking the need of discipline—1 Timothy 5:1–20
In chapter 5 Paul continued his exhortations for these latter times, dealing with how Timothy was to relate to widows and elders, ensuring that both were not abusing their positions in the assembly. The true positions for both are outlined, and then checks introduced as to how to correct any failure. In doing this Paul drew on lessons that can be learned from the four unnamed men of God.
An anonymous man of God was sent to Eli in 1 Samuel 2 to tell him of God’s judgement upon both him and his sons; upon his sons for their ungodly ways and upon Eli for not restraining them and removing them from the priesthood.
A second anonymous man of God was sent to Jeroboam in 1 Kings 13 to pronounce judgement upon his altar at Bethel (not upon Jeroboam personally) and upon his whole idolatrous counterfeit system built in opposition to the altar in the Temple at Jerusalem. How tragic to learn in the next chapter that Jehovah already had a prophet in that very place who was not morally fit to be used by Him, and so He had to send a man of God from Judah to deliver His message.
A third anonymous man of God was sent to Ahab in 1 Kings 20 to pronounce judgement upon the large army of Syrians for their blasphemous words concerning Jehovah and to reassure the ungodly king as to their destruction. God would act for His own glory in the matter at hand.
Finally, a fourth anonymous man of God was sent to Amaziah in 2 Chronicles 25 to reprimand the king of Judah concerning his hiring of mercenaries from the rebellious ten tribes of Israel in their battle against the men of Seir. Such an allegiance was not only a demonstration of a lack of trust in the Living God but a denial of the defiling association that would result from it.
Studying the words and actions of these four men of God will show that all were active in very dark days when there was a breakdown in discipline amongst the people of God, days when departure from the truth and a lack of separation from ungodly elements marked the people of God and when a message of rebuke was required. These things Paul addressed in 1 Timothy 5 in regard to the local leadership of the elders and the place of widows among the people of God.
We have seen in considering Shemaiah that the man of God submits to the will of God in the matter of the breakdown of the outward unity of the saints, but in considering these four anonymous men of God we see that there is to be no compromise as to the truth in so doing. The rebellion of Jeroboam was a sin, and if Rehoboam was forbidden to go to war with him, God would maintain His rights still and sent His witness to pronounce judgement upon the altar, even if mercy was held out to Jeroboam himself. There is to be no compromise of the truth and no association with things that would defile the saints of God. Thus, the lessons seen in these anonymous men of God perfectly balance the lessons we learn from Shemaiah as to the actions of the man of God in a day of breakdown
8. Samuel: An honourable walk and testimony consistent with God’s calling—1 Timothy 5:21–6:10, 17–21
Finally, from 5:21 to 6:10 Paul deals with the matter of Timothy’s own personal conduct; he was to be impartial in all his dealings, pure in his walk, marked by good works, a faithful servant, and marked by godliness with contentment. In all this he was to be a faithful witness of the doctrine that he was told to preach, the doctrine that he had learnt from Paul. As in all Paul’s epistles, the doctrine comes first followed by an exhortation to walk accordingly.
The example that Paul drew on here was that of Samuel, called a man of God by the servant of Saul in 1 Samuel 9. Saul’s father’s donkeys were lost, and Saul had been sent to look for them but without success. Saul was at the point of giving up and returning home but his servant suggested that they go to visit Samuel, who happened to be in a nearby city at that time, saying, “There is in this city a man of God, and he is an honourable man; all that he saith cometh surely to pass” (1 Samuel 9:6).
This man of God was marked by his honourable behaviour and his truthful speech, features he himself referred to at a later date when the people rejected his guidance and sought a king “like all the nations” in 1 Samuel 12:3–5; he was an honourable man in contrast to the sons of Eli who had so despised God’s Tabernacle and the priesthood by their actions and brought the judgement of God down upon their heads (1 Samuel 2:12–17, 25) or even Samuel’s own sons who walked not in their father’s ways but took bribes (1 Samuel 8:3). Samuel was a shining light against a very dark background of the failure of the priesthood and the consequent loss of the ark of the covenant in his early days. Yet despite all this, God’s faithfulness to His people was also seen in the provision of Samuel, the man of God, whom all Israel knew was prepared of God to be His prophet from a very young age (1 Samuel 3:20). Again, this is perfectly in keeping with the character of 1 Timothy and a fitting climax to Paul’s exhortations to Timothy.
His final warnings to Timothy concerning material riches in 6:9–10 and also 6:17–19 drew upon the good example of the contentedness and heavenly-mindedness of the man of God and the bad example of the greed of his own sons. The man of God’s walk is honourable and his speech trustworthy.
An Appeal to Timothy to be a Man of God—1 Timothy 6:11–16
“But thou, O man of God, flee these things, and pursue righteousness, piety, faith, love, endurance, meekness of spirit. Strive earnestly in the good conflict of faith. Lay hold of eternal life, to which thou hast been called, and hast confessed the good confession before many witnesses. I enjoin thee before God who preserves all things in life, and Christ Jesus who witnessed before the good confession, that thou keep the commandment spotless, irreproachable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ; which in its own time the blessed and only Ruler shall shew, the King of those that reign, and Lord of those that exercise lordship; who only has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light; whom no man has seen, nor is able to see; to whom be honour and eternal might. Amen.”
Having highlighted eight features that came to light in the Old Testament men of God, Paul closed with a final exhortation. In doing so he addressed Timothy as a man of God also, for he was to walk in a dark day, as do we, and must exhibit these features himself if he was to fulfil Paul’s charge to him. Everything in this epistle builds to this final appeal where Paul urges Timothy to flee from all that is contrary to God’s word (a necessary first step) and then to pursue with purpose of heart righteousness (a feature seen in Samuel), piety (in David), faith (Elisha), love (Shemaiah), endurance (Elijah), and meekness of spirit (Moses), and to strive earnestly in the good conflict of faith, laying hold of the eternal life to which he had been called (the unnamed men of God). Finally, Paul urged Timothy to keep this commandment spotless and irreproachable until the appearing of Jesus Christ (as was seen by the action of the Rechabites declared in the chamber of the sons of Igdaliah in the Temple). Thus again, even in Paul’s final summary, these Old Testament men of God were to be living examples to Timothy of how he, too, must now walk for the glory of God.
In closing our study of this epistle’s section, let us summarise these features that came to light in the actions of the eleven men of God in the Old Testament:
|No.||1 Timothy||Man of God||Lesson|
|1||1:3-11||Moses||Seeking the blessing of others|
|2||1:12–20||Elisha||Always acting in grace|
|3||2:1–8||Elijah||Dependence upon God in prayer|
|4||2:9–15||Igdaliah||Being inconspicuous in service, not self-seeking|
|5||3:1–16||David||Desiring order in the House of God|
|6||4:1–16||Shemaiah||Relying upon God’s faithfulness in days of breakdown|
|7||5:1–20||Anon (combined)||Standing for the truth, not overlooking the need of discipline|
|8||5:21–6:10, 17–21||Samuel||An honourable walk and testimony consistent with God’s calling|
An Appeal to Us, to Be Men (and Women) of God, Complete, Fully Fitted to Every Good Work—2 Timothy 3:16–17
“Every scripture is divinely inspired, and profitable for teaching, for conviction, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be complete, fully fitted to every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16–17)
In his second epistle to Timothy, Paul made another appeal, exhorting Timothy to heed the Scriptures that he had known from a child, for they, he said, were able to make him wise unto salvation, through faith which is in Jesus Christ (vv. 14–15), but then he opened things out, stating that the same Scriptures contain every lesson needed for someone to be a man of God, to enable him to be complete and fully fitted for every good work.
This wording is left intentionally wide, for it is not an appeal to Timothy only but to you and me as well, for Paul did not write “that you [Timothy] may be complete, fully fitted to every good work” but “that the man of God may be complete, fully fitted to every good work.” God asks you and me to display these features today. And if we feel that these things are only possible for a believer of high standing, or one with a special gift, or one who has been on the Christian pathway for a long time, let us take account to whom Paul addressed these words—not to an apostle or prophet or someone who had been on the Christian pathway for a long time but to a youthful man of timid character. These words of the Holy Spirit are addressed to us all, brother and sister, old and young alike, irrespective of gift or any other feature we may possess; all may (and should) display these features that Paul had highlighted concerning the men of God in the Scriptures. So may we, too, be encouraged as a result of meditating upon Paul’s epistles to Timothy and the men of God that are drawn attention to therein, to be complete and fully fitted to every good work, as men (and women) of God in our own day, exhibiting every one of these features of the Old Testament men of God for His Name’s sake.