Pastoral Letters – 1 Timothy 1_18-20 – Download
This Command Demands Action
Is this the hill you want to die on? This is a phrase that after hearing once I was immediately reoriented in how I evaluate my goals and ideologies. The phrase draws on the military idea that just because you have the uphill advantage it doesn’t mean you are necessarily fighting the right battle. When Paul reminds Timothy of the command given earlier in this chapter it is like Paul is saying to Timothy, “This is the hill you want to die on!”
As Paul once again speaks of Timothy, as his son, he mentions prophecies that were previously made. Although the specific prophecies about Timothy are not stated here it seems clear that they were about Timothy’s role to obey Paul’s command. That is why Paul speaks of them when he entrusted Timothy with such a weighty command. A command that expects at least two actions. The first action is obedience. The second action is faithfulness.
It is rare that a gift is given that is not intended to be used. It is rare that a command is given that is not intended to be obeyed. Paul’s command to Timothy in 1 Timothy 1:3 and 5 is no exception. The command was to command others to stop teaching anything that is not the Gospel of the Glory of God. Obedience to this command is not an option. Paul has already made clear what it looks like to be disobedient to this command to teach rightly. This has already been covered in the previous studies. We all are to obey the command to only teach as true that which is correct teaching.
The second expected action is faithfulness. To help explain the type of faithfulness that Paul expects he uses a military metaphor. Every soldier who enters into battle is expected to fight well. If the Christian is a solider and the Christian life is a battle then the Christian is also expected to fight well. To fight well means that while fighting you still hold to the faith and a good conscience. This is clearly a call back to the heart of the command, which is found in 1 Timothy 1:5. To be faithful we must hold tightly to the Gospel. If we fail to remain faithful we will become like a ship that has thrown off all of its anchors and tie-downs so that it becomes shipwrecked. This is a warning to not reject that which is for our safety and wellbeing.
That is why Paul points out two men who chose to throw off and reject the faith they were entrusted with. Paul wanted to warn Timothy how to handle those who have shipwrecked themselves. They were to be delivered over to the Adversary. Although our hope should be that these men came to their senses and repented we should double-check ourselves so that we do not reject the faith and become shipwrecked ourselves.
There is plenty to consider in this section for any Christian. However, for the Christian leader there is a particular concept to consider. Timothy was called to serve in a context of opposition. To oppose bad teachers. And to be opposed. The task of faithfulness to this command is truly a battle. If you are going to be a Christian, make sure you battle well.
- What prophecies/spiritual gifts have been identified about you/in your life? Are you doing/using them?
- What action do you need to take that you have been failing to act on?
- Christian, are you prepared to serve from a heart of love in the face of harsh opposition?
The command is clear. Oppose bad teaching in yourself and others. We must be prepared to defend the proverbial hill that represents the correct teachings on Christ.
 1 Corinthians 5:5
 NICNT – The Pastoral Epistles, 2006, p.158 – These two items link the ministry of opposition. Timothy is to be engaged into godly faith and behavior, just as they distance authentic Christian ministry from the activities of the opponents.