Title: Final Comments Text: 1 Timothy 6:20-21 CIT: Timothy, Do your job, Beware, Be Strong. CIS: Same thing.
Introduction: On June 7, 1942, the Japanese attacked a United States territory for the 2nd time. The first is emblazoned upon our memories. It occurred 6 months earlier on December 7th, 1941. But this 2nd attack – it isn’t remembered. The reason is that not much really happened.
The island of Attu in the Aleutian Island Chain is the furthest point West belonging to the United States. It extends as far west as New Zealand, only on this side of the equator. The Japanese brought 1,100 troops and could have easily conquered the island with a bullhorn. That number would climb to 3,000 before American troops get there. On the morning of that attack, there were less than 40 civilians there and they were all in worship because it was a Sunday morning.
The Japanese charge along the mountainside toward the lone little village on Attu. They slipped and fell in the spongy earth and soft, wet snow. Guns were mistakenly discharged as men fell. In fear and in a state of panic, other soldiers began shooting toward the village and out into the open area because they thought they were being shot at by the Islanders. In the process, some Japanese were wounded and one was even killed by friendly fire.
The islanders heard noises and simply looked out the window to see the Japanese moving toward them. Nick Golodolf, who was six years old at the time and happened to be standing outside, actually began to laugh at what he thought was slap-stick comedy going on before him – that is until he figured out the mud jumping up around him was being caused by bullets being fired at him. That’s when he ran for cover.
The Japanese had attacked the US for a 2nd time.
The Unites States responded…eventually. It would be some 10 months later, April 24, 1943, when the Americans would send forces. The powers that be had outlined a strategy for regaining control of Attu. 15,000 troops were sent to attack the Japanese and it was figured that the battle would last less than three days. However, the troops were woefully unprepared. They lacked enough food, the proper gear and had no idea what the island of Attu was like. They weren’t ready for the cold. Their boots slipped in the mud. Have you ever tried to dig a foxhole in the tundra of Alaska? I remember in Wyoming when the city worked on pipes, they had to dig down 8 ft, because the ground freezes above that line. 8 feet! In the early years, before modern technology, funerals took place in the late Spring and Summer only, because the ground was frozen at other times of the year.
What was expected to last 3 days, lasted 6 weeks and cost hundreds of lives.
Why? Leadership. The General in charge of the 7th Infantry and his Naval Commander counterpart couldn’t stand each other. Both were arrogant and ignorant of just what it would take to conquer their enemy. Rear Admiral Robert Theobald insisted the uniforms of his men be neat and to code. The Japanese opted for heavily insulated attire designed for the Alaskan climate. The results for the Americans were disastrous and costly.
And so it is when leadership is concerned about themselves and not their people. If I recall correctly, the only other battle that cost more lives than the Battle of Attu was the Battle of Iwo Jima.
Leadership must be concerned about the people they serve. That’s what leadership is… and that’s Paul plea to Timothy.
He closes here with a final word – a final word that sums up well the contents of this letter:
20 O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge,” 21 for by professing it some have swerved from the faith.
Grace be with you.
Herein lies a call to strong leadership on the part of Timothy. And Paul does this with three verbs. The passage is broken down grammatically into three main parts:
One imperative verb: Guard. There is a participle which describes how he is to ‘guard’ … ‘avoiding’;
One past tense verb: those who have swerved from the faith; and a 2nd participle which describes what has happened to those who haven’t avoided irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called ‘knowledge’.
State of Being vb: And Paul then closes with a common phrase used to say goodbye.
So here is my breakdown of this passage and expressing it in three separate thoughts: Timothy, Guard, Guide, and Goodbye.
Transition: So look with me in v 20 again.
exp.: rd v 20a: his command – Guard, the thought, ‘keep in custody’. Think of a prison guard keeping watch over the inmates under his charge. He knows where they are at all times. So, Guard. Guard what? “The deposit” – not normally a theological or religious term for us, but the deposit isn’t really foreign to us. We use regularly in banking terms, so we know what it means. This word is used 3 times in the NT. All 3 by Paul and all 3 in his letters to Timothy (1 Tim 6.20; 2 Tim 1.12, 14) and (2ndly) each reference deals with the gospel; LXX; Leviticus 6:1-7; the context of that passage really helps us understand what Paul is saying: The deposit is the property or the possession that has been entrusted to someone. And in our passage this morning, what has been entrusted to Timothy, the deposit is the gospel.
And the question that Paul answers here is ‘how’ Timothy is to guard the gospel. And this is our first participle: avoiding. Rd 20b;
exp.: two characteristics Paul brings out about the actions of these false teachers which are to be avoided:
- Irreverent Babble; ‘Irreverent’ is the Gk word, which when transliterated is ‘Babylon’; empty-talk or empty-sounds; κενόω (kenoō): Phil 2:7; ‘he emptied’ himself; The nuance of the word is to pour out the contents of a pitcher until it is empty. These babblings are empty and contain no substance – avoid them. 2nd,
- Contradictions: this Gk word transliterated into English is antithesis and it is in Gk, just as it is in English: the opposite; Contradictions, specifically, of what is falsely called knowledge. Some scholars use this particular passage, and others to say that this letter should be dated in the 2nd century since that is when Gnosticism saw it’s rise OR they say that this is evidence that Gnosticism was around in the 1st I don’t think either one is true.
- Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge,”; I think of John 17 where Jesus pays to the Father: Sanctify them in the Truth; Your Word is Truth. What is false about these teachers is that they’re not teaching God’s Word. They’re expounding on issues and themes that make them look knowledgeable, but it is all false.
app.: You know exactly what Paul’s talking about because 2,000 years later, there are still preachers who are puffed up with their knowledge, but lack the Truth of the Gospel. The Gospel is the Truth. What these others bring is not the truth…
t.s.: now at this point, Paul offers a caution, a reason to Guard the deposit. Whereas we’ve just observed Paul has commanded Timothy to Guard the deposit and how he is to guard the deposit, now he is going to offer a reason why Timothy is to Guard the deposit: rd v 21; 21 for by professing it some have swerved from the faith.
exp.: because there are those who profess this false knowledge, who chase after debates with no substance, and by so doing, they have swerved from the Truth. People need guidance to get where they’re going. And, the way God has designed this is through discipleship. It is through learning. It comes from learning God’s Truth.
Turn to 1 Tim 1:6 – Certain people have lit.: ‘miss the mark’; the idea is ‘to wander off the path’; they have deviated off course and wandered from these (a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith; cf.: 1.5);
ill.: you guys know I’m teaching this class of young men at BCL; our class is about becoming men; this past week our class was about building a survival kit; I shared with them the story of a lady who was hiking the AP alone. She was at the very end – she was roughly 200 miles to the end of the AP. This photo was taken the day before she disappeared. She left to hike the trail in 2013 but disappeared. Some men who were out surveying the territory for their company found her body. That was in 2016.
Along with her body was her notebook. In it, she recorded her failure, she had left the trail to go to the bathroom, but somehow, when she had completed her task, she got all turned around. She texted her husband for help, but her phone had no signal. She continued wandering around, trying to find the trail and eventually stopped on a ridge, thinking she would see something or be found. Finally, she decided to stay put until searchers could find her. But they never did. She had wandered two miles off the path.
App.: Staying on the path is essential to your survival. Veering off course is certain death. This is what I was teaching the boys this week, but it applies to us, too.
t.s.: Timothy, Watch over and Guard that which you’ve been given charge and responsibility for, Watch out that you don’t chase after things that are fruitless and empty, but instead, Guide others in the Truth. And finally, Timothy, goodbye
exp.: rd v 21b; Grace be with you; Ἡ χάρις μεθʼ ὑμῶν; Grace; this is the typical greeting and goodbye of Paul; Go to each of his letters and you’ll find a very similar ending to those letters (with the one exception being Romans). The word Grace here has the definite article; a definite article adds an idea of something specific, namely, the Grace of Christ and Oftentimes, Paul will say just that, The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with all; Now, the traditional ending of a letter can be found in Acts 15:29; Ἔρρωσθε, which means, Be Strong; genuine expression that one may be strong and well; hence, the translation, fare – well; ill.: Be Bold; God Bless; It may very well be that Paul knew that one can only be strong is in the grace of God and so, he changed the way he closed his letters to read the way they do. Grace Be With You. Paul has written to Timothy, but there are times in the epistle when it appears he wants the church to read this letter. This verse affirms what we already knew: The letter is for both Timothy and the church at Ephesus: Grace be with all y’all.
Conclusion: So, we should apply the letter to not just the pastor, but to the church body as a whole. And, how does this apply to us?
- Well, to me, the application is very personal: I am a pastor. I think for the elders and other teachers, they might feel the same zealousness for the church that meets at 6704 Old Jacksonville Hwy. I take this responsibility very seriously and guard it with my soul. If it appears that I’m scrutinizing what’s being taught or I stand against someone wanting to lead the church astray, then so be it. I do not apologize for it. For I will give account. What about you? Church, what is your feeling for this body – called Calvary?
- I think you have a responsibility to help keep our church pure, too.
- Guard the gospel.
- Live it wisely. Be a guide – like that of a hunter or a fisher. Know your territory – where it is safe. Where the animals are. Where there is freshwater. Where there is shelter. Where this protection.
Ill.: I have a good friend from Wyoming who has been a guide for many people in that area of the state. He knows where the animals are. He guided me on my elk trip when I lived up there.
He once got a call from a friend asking him to guide him and another man on a fishing trip. His friend said, “Now listen, when we show up and get in the boat, don’t get all weird and stuff. This man is famous and he doesn’t like people getting all weirded out!” The famous man, Bob Seger. He’s guided many famous men on hunting and fishing trips. Why? Because this friend of mine can’t get lost in the mountains and he knows how to survive.
We need to be like that when it comes to God’s Word – Guarding it and guiding others through it.
I think there is more here for us:
- Select your leaders, Don’t quickly put any man into elder or deacon positions. Let them be tested and tried and found faithful.
- Serve each other in love. Watch out for each other; for each other’s children and grandchildren; let your first thought be love and then act.
- Treat each other with respect – the respect people deserve as believers in Christ. Mercy and grace have been granted to you – when you came to Christ. Respond to others as Christ has responded to you in your time of need.
- Communicate Well: Listen, respond in love, listen some more.
We must prevail and persevere. That thought is communicated in the words: some have swerved from the faith. Let us not be among those who fail and fall by the wayside, proving themselves to be lost.