“As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine, Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do. Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned:”
(1 Timothy 1:3-5)
Today’s verse passage is part of Paul’s instructions to his favorite disciple, Timothy. Though this epistle was written to the young pastor, it is nevertheless written for us, that we might be similarly instructed and encouraged. Paul begins by stressing the importance of sound doctrine. The entirety of the Bible is inscripturated truth (Psalm 119:160) centered on Jesus Christ (Revelation 19:10). It is both the truth and the Son of God that sets us free (John 8:32-36). This is so because Christ the Lord is the Truth incarnate (John 14:6). The Gospel of Christ is the power of God to salvation (Romans 1:16); all other competing “gospels” are not Gospels at all. These are damnable heresies that are less than useless (Galatians 1:6-9). Paul counsels Timothy, and us, that we ought to pay no attention whatever to “fables and endless genealogies.” The word translated “fable” is the Greek “muthois” in which we can vaguely recognize the word “myth.” Paul was instructing Timothy to steer clear of the unfounded myths and legends that abounded in both Greek and Jewish writings. The Jews in particular had created an enormous amount of fictional material regarding the origins and histories of angels as well as the histories of certain biblical characters and particular Rabbis. Paul calls all of this a waste of time. This means that for Paul, the historical narratives recorded in the Bible—from the creation account to the Exodus and straight through to the Gospels and the Book of Acts—are all of a different order. They are not myths or legends, but solid, verifiable history. Paul also counsels against “endless genealogies.” In the immediate context he is thinking not only about the Jewish fixation on genealogy (they have nothing on the Mennonites though!) but more importantly, the Kabbalistic and Gnostic stories about seeming endless emanations (Aeons) which supposedly proceeded from and mediated Ultimate Reality. In our own day, I see the modern evolutionist here, so fixated on his endless, useless speculations on which creatures evolved from which. What a waste of time! God’s man counsels us to ignore all this and instead focus on sound doctrine and the good commands of God. The purpose of these is not endless speculation, but love out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of genuine, God-honoring faith. Now that is time well spent! May this be our focus and pursuit today.
God bless, dear church family,