The Scriptorium

Keep Yourself Pure

Sound advice for all of us. 1 Timothy 5.21-23

The Pastoral Epistles: 1 Timothy 5 (5)

Pray Psalm 146.1, 2

Praise the LORD!
Praise the L
ORD, O my soul!
While I live I will praise the L
I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.

Read and meditate on 1 Timothy 5.21-23.


1. Why do you suppose Paul was so emphatic about Timothy practicing impartiality?

2. What does it mean to “keep yourself pure”? 

Paul returns now to offer some personal advice to Timothy. He, after all, was responsible to carry out the things Paul wrote in this epistle, and Paul knew that, for him to succeed, he would have to be very careful in all aspects of his life (cf. 1 Tim. 4.16).

Paul invoked the oversight of God, Jesus Christ, and all the elect angels on Timothy and his ministry. It’s good for us to remember that we do not carry out our callings from the Lord apart from such oversight ourselves. We are always being observed, and the Lord stands ready to help in whatever may be our time of need. If we can keep that in mind, we will be more likely to seek His grace in all our times of need and do everything in our lives for His glory (Heb. 4.16; Col. 3.23; 1 Cor. 10.31).

Those who sin – whatever their place in the congregation or the community – must be confronted and encouraged to repent (v. 20). There must be no partiality in this – no deferring to things like friendship, status, or influence in the congregation. Sin is sin, and Timothy’s job, as the primary shepherd in the churches in Ephesus, was to make sure it was dealt with appropriately.

He was also to be careful about who is ordained to the office of overseer or deacon in the churches. Candidates must not be “hastily” processed into office. They must be well known; their testimony and character must be proven; and they must have the skills and disposition to rule as servants of the Lord and His people. Here again, no partiality must be shown. Timothy must keep to the standards Paul has set forth.

He must also take care not to become enmeshed in the sins of others, but to keep himself pure of all transgression, to lead an exemplary life, and to take care of his health, so that he might serve the people of God faithfully and for a long time.

1. Why is impartiality in matters of sin and service so important? How can “playing favorites” undermine our faith and our church’s ministry?

2. Why is it a good idea to remember that our own lives and ministries are under continuous scrutiny from the heavenly realm? How can we nurture and sustain more awareness of that scrutiny?

3. Over the course of a day, what is required to keep yourself pure? How should you start the day? How should you go through it? How should the day end?

The apostle writes to Timothy: “Practice self-control.” It’s a command; it’s an order; it has to be listened to; it has to be carried out. But unless God comes to our help, we get stuck. We try, indeed, to do it by willpower, and the will makes some effort. It shouldn’t, though, rely on its ability unless it is assisted in its debility. Augustine (354-430), Sermons 348A.4

Help me to remain pure today, Lord, and to build up my fellow believers as I…

Pray Psalm 146.1-4.

Praise God for His steadfast love and faithfulness, and ask Him to show you how you can exalt His Name today.

Sing Psalm 146.1-4, 10.
Psalm 146.1-4, 10 (Hallelujah! What a Savior!: Man of Sorrows)
Praise the Lord, my soul, give praise! 
While I live, His Name I’ll raise! 
And exalt Him all my days –
God forever reigns in Zion!

Trust we not in prince or man – 
no salvation’s in their hand; 
Death shall take them, breath and plans –
God forever reigns in Zion!

T. M. Moore

Whatever our calling in life, we are sent to bring the joy of Christ to the people around us. Our book, Joy to Your World!, can show you how to fill your Personal Mission Field with more of the Presence, promise, and power of Christ and His Kingdom. Order your copy, as a supplement to our study of 1 Timothy, by 
clicking here.

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006).All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.