Christology in Six Lines: An Exposition of 1 Timothy 3:16 -- By: David J. MacLeod

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 159:635 (Jul 2002)
Article: Christology in Six Lines: An Exposition of 1 Timothy 3:16
Author: David J. MacLeod


Christology in Six Lines:
An Exposition of
1 Timothy 3:16

David J. MacLeod

David J. MacLeod is Chairman of the Department of Bible and Theology, Emmaus Bible College, Dubuque, Iowa, and is Associate Editor of The Emmaus Journal.

In the spring of A.D. 571 Paul had a farewell meeting with the elders of the Ephesian church. He had warned them of false teachers and abusive leaders (“savage wolves,” Acts 20:29) who would arise among them and harm the church. Now, just five years later (fall, A.D. 62), the church in Ephesus was being led astray by some of its elders, and Timothy had been left there by Paul to stop their influence.2 The false teachers were involved in arguments and quarrels of various kinds, and they were proud, arrogant, and divisive. Furthermore they were acting out of greed for money (1 Tim. 1:3–7; 3:1–13; 6:3–10).

Even more serious was the fact that they were teaching doctrines in the church that were contrary to the Christian faith.3 They promoted asceticism, extreme self-denial in which people

were forbidden to marry and eat certain foods (4:3; 5:23). Also they focused on speculative doctrine instead of the clear and central doctrines of Scripture. In addition they were syncretistic, mixing false notions of paganism with the gospel. For example they apparently denied the future bodily resurrection of believers and argued for a kind of spiritual resurrection that was already past (2 Tim. 2:18). And apparently there was some kind of error in Christology.4 Also there seems to have been some disorder of gender roles in the church meetings (cf. 1 Tim. 2:8–15).

So Paul wrote to Timothy to tell him to stay and oppose the errors in Ephesus. In chapters 2 and 3 he dealt with concerns relating to the disorders in the church.5 He concluded this section of his letter by again reminding Timothy of his purpose. First Timothy...

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