“O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge,” for by professing it some have swerved from the faith. Grace be with you.”
In the last, tiny paragraph of this first letter to Timothy, Paul summarizes the two main themes of the whole letter. The Gospel held up against religious knowledge.
Being a pastoral, most think that the main theme of Timothy is leadership. That is only true in so far as leadership is a key in keeping the teaching ministry in the church on track. The true main theme of Timothy is sound teaching. And that means passing the truth of the Gospel on to future generations of believers. The Gospel is not some intellectual concept that we develop and expand upon. It is a truth that we receive and believe in a way that impacts every other aspect of our lives. It is the basic teaching in the church and also the most complex and all encompassing story that we will never fully understand in our lives.
Against that idea, and the secondary theme of the letter, is the reminder that the church is not about discovering new, deeper, greater truths about life that have never been understood before. It is not a place where we find secrets that are hidden and waiting to be uncovered. Spiritual leaders with wonderful, new systems—offering the latest, greatest key to a successful life are actually wolves in sheep clothing. It is the job of church leadership to guard against such ideas and the people selling them.
The Gospel is only received in faith, something that requires and inspires action; knowledge and academic religion is impotent, ineffective, and empty. Unfortunately it seems that much of the Church these days is all about knowledge and ideas instead of truth and action.