1 Timothy
by Francis Foulkes ©

Study 25. LAST WORDS

'O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you. Avoid the godless chatter and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge, for by professing it some have missed the mark as regards the faith, Grace be with you' (6:20,21).

The Final instructions in the New Testament letters are often particularly interesting and important. The last words of 1 John (5:21) are the warning, 'little children, keep yourselves from idols'. The final reminder of Jude's letter is the great encouragement that the Lord 'is able to keep you from falling and to present you without blemish before the presence of his glory with rejoicing'. Ephesians closes with the challenge to 'love our Lord Jesus Christ with love undying'. In these last two verses of I Timothy, we have an exhortation, a warning, and a prayer.

a. An exhortation

'Guard what has been entrusted to you', says the apostle. Without doubt the apostle means the gospel, the truth of Christ in all its fullness, the 'sound doctrine' of which 1:10 speaks. Paul could never forget that he was a man who had been 'entrusted with the gospel' (1 Thessalonians 2:4). It was his greatest privilege on earth to 'preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ' (Ephesians 3: 8), Timothy was entrusted with the same gospel. It was good news of his own salvation, and good news of eternal life for others. In 4:16 Paul has said to him, 'take heed to yourself and to your teaching, hold to that, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers'. In 2 Timothy 1:13,14, he says something similar, 'Follow the pattern of the sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus; guard the truth that has been entrusted to you by the Holy Spirit who 'dwells within us.' We have the same truth, the same gospel, 'once for all delivered to the saints' Jude 3), We have to preach and teach and apply it to our own times, but we may not change it. It is God's Word that meets the deepest needs of all men, everywhere, and at all times.

b. A warning

There were many in the days of Timothy who wanted to change the gospel, and there are such people still. The apostle knew that Timothy was surrounded by false teachers. He had often spoken of them in this letter (see Further Study below for references). When Paul first spoke of them in the beginning of his letter he warned Timothy that in some ways their teaching was false, and in other ways just useless (see notes on 1:3-7). He says the same now. What these people say who profess to hold the truth is simply 'godless chatter' in many cases. At other times their 'contradictions' and arguments are error. They make a great boast to have wisdom, but what they teach is 'falsely called knowledge'. Those who follow it are not following the way of God; 'they have missed the mark as regards the faith' of Christ.

c. A prayer

The very last words of nearly every apostolic letter are words of prayer, like those here: 'Grace be with you.' Timothy has to guard the gospel, for his own sake and for the sake of others. He has to oppose and reject what the false teachers say and do. Often this is very difficult. The whole Christian life is difficult. There are trials and temptations from start to finish. The New Testament never leads us to think of it as easy. Again and again this letter has reminded us that being a disciple means discipline; the Christian life is toil and warfare. In ourselves we would fail, and we often do fail. But Paul prays, 'Grace be with you.' By the grace of God we can have wisdom, love, strength, all that we can ever need. If we trust in His grace every day, every hour, every minute we will not fail.


Lord, Thou knowest my situation, my opportunities to serve Thee and to witness to Thy gospel; Thou knowest my temptations and my spiritual battles, my difficulties and uncertainties. Give me constantly Thy grace that I may triumph; and by faithfulness as a disciple and a messenger of Thine, may I bring the lasting blessings of thy truth to others, to the glory of Jesus Christ. AMEN.

Further Study. Sum up what this letter says about the false teaching that Timothy had to oppose; and consider any ways in which Christians today have to face similar persuasion to turn from the truth of the gospel. See especially 1:3-11,19,20; 3:14-16; 4:1-7,16; 5:20-25; 6:3-10,17.