Divergent, Insurgent Or Allegiant? 1 Timothy 5:1-2 And The Nature Of God’s Household -- By: Gregory A. Couser

Journal: Southeastern Theological Review
Volume: STR 07:2 (Winter 2016)
Article: Divergent, Insurgent Or Allegiant? 1 Timothy 5:1-2 And The Nature Of God’s Household
Author: Gregory A. Couser


Divergent, Insurgent Or Allegiant?
1 Timothy 5:1-2 And The Nature Of God’s Household

Gregory A. Couser

Cedarville University

This study asks how Paul’s household conception of the church in 1 Tim 5:1-2 compares to the social norms characteristic of the Greco-Roman household. First, 5:1-2 is set within the overall flow of the book’s argument to show how this passage rests on a carefully developed theological substructure. Second, the passage itself is closely examined to delineate the social norms that emerge in the manner of engagement urged upon Timothy with respect to the various strata of the household. This study argues that Paul is extending a pre-existing, theologically-shaped notion of God’s household as he guides Timothy. Drawing on the OT as mediated through Jesus and his own earlier apostolic reflection, Paul determines the character and manner of Timothy’s interaction within the family of God. It is this theologically-shaped conception of God’s household which drives the re-appropriation (or reclamation) of the social spaces in the secular household toward the fulfillment of God’s purposes in and through his family. Contacts with Greco-Roman social norms are incidental and not fundamental.

Throughout 1 Timothy the central metaphor Paul chooses to inform and drive Timothy’s mission at Ephesus is the church as God’s household (1:4; 3:15; cf. 3:5, 12).1 The household owes its existence to God’s saving work in Christ by the Spirit (esp. 3:15-16). In addition, God’s household takes its shape (on the personal and corporate level) and its mission from God’s saving mission in Christ (2:1-7).2 The problem that brings Timothy to Ephesus at the behest of Paul is that God’s “household rules,” his saving purposes for

his people, are effectively being re-written.3 The over-realized eschatology of the erring elders has essentially distorted the way in which God saves in the present.4 Inept, speculative (yet confident) OT eisegesis abounds (1:7) as the false teachers have abandoned the “gospel” as the norming n...

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