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The Lord Your Healer: 

Discover Him and Find His Healing Touch by Paul J. Bucknell

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Discover Him and Find His Healing Touch

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The Godly Man:  When God touches a man's life

The Godly Man

When God touches a man's life
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Goodness and Contentment

Goodness and Contentment

A Case for Goodness

- 1 Timothy and Gnosticism -

Paul J. Bucknell

The Word 'Good' in the Bible.

The word 'good' is evenly distributed throughou the Bible. Right from Genesis 1 the word 'good' is used seven times. It is used 622 times in the scriptures: 411 in the OT, 211 in the NT. The Hebrew word 'to be' is the only commonly used word in the OT with this 'good' idea.

Other translations in the KJV are good 361, better 72, well 20, goodness 16, goodly 9, best 8, merry 7, fair 7, prosperity 6, precious 4, fine 3, wealth 3, beautiful 2, fairer 2, favour 2, glad.

The NT has three words for good (1), but clearly 'kalon' is most often used in the sense that we are speaking. There is also the common Greek adjective 'agathos' meaning good. Let's focus on how the Apostle Paul uses the word in 1 Timothy.

We are struck with how often Paul uses this word 'good' in these pastoral epistles (letters) of 1, 2 Timothy and Titus (see verses at end). Both Galatians and Ephesians have 6 chapters but 'good' is used only five times in each book. Romans uses 'good' 24 times but rarely in the beautiful sense. But then only 12 times in 1 & 2 Corinthians combined.

Study of 'Good' and Gnosticism in 1 Timothy

The Godly Man: When God Touches a Man's LifeWe want to focus on the book of 1 Timothy and the reason 'good' is used so much. Paul was evidently fighting against an early form of Gnosticism (2). We see the early forms of this cult or religion named Gnosticism from the way Paul in the end comes out and points out the cult's key word, 'knowledge.' 'Gnosticism' comes from the Greek word for knowledge which we see in 1 Timothy 6:20.

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"O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called "knowledge."

Two major forms of this Gnostic cult later developed. They both believe matter (what is made) is evil and speak of secret knowledge that leads to salvation. They differed on how to get that knowledge and once received what impact it had on their lives.

  • Sensual
    This first group claimed that this saving knowledge came from special revelation. If one gained this 'gnosis,' then they need not be concerned how they lived their lives. Some of their activities became very sensual. We do not see this here in Ephesus where Paul wrote. He spotted another branch of pre-Gnosticism.

  • Ascetic
    This ascetic group also believed matter to be evil and their spirit to be good. But they believed their avoidance of the flesh and its desires brought or developed this 'knowledge.' We see them emphasizing abstaining, denying and other types of strict rules that would aid them in their quest. This is the problem Paul was addressing in 1 Timothy.

Paul countered this concept of evil matter by repeatedly emphasizing that the things God made was good if used rightly. These things (matter or desires) were not inherently wrong but good. Matter is not evil. Evil is using things different than God has instructed us.

Indications of Gnostic Thought

We see clear signs of Paul's reference to this group throughout 1 Timothy but mostly in chapters 1,4, and 6 where he specifically addressed these problems. This cult taught:

  • Strange doctrines (1:3)
  • Myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation... (1 Timothy 1:4).
  • Confidently on matters different from the Law (1:6-8).
  • That only spiritual authorities and powers were relevant and stood uninvolved from this world (2:4).
  • To pay attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons (4:1).
  • Marriage was forbidden (4:3)
  • To abstain from foods (4:3)
  • Worldly fables (4:7)
  • Different doctrine and does not agree with sound words (6:3)
  • Controversial questions and disputes about words (6:4-5).
  • Worldly and empty chatter and opposing arguments which is falsely called 'knowledge' (6:2)

Summary
Paul taught three major lessons to counter this cult.


Discipleship #3 Library

Lesson #1 - The Law is good (1:8).

The Law was good not evil. It encouraged God's people to enjoy this world, marriage, eating, etc. The Law (first five books of the Bible including Genesis) taught a good creation but clearly directed God's people on how to properly use these gifts.

But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully, (1 Timothy 1:8).

Application: We see a reoccuring teaching emphasis on what is good by Paul to fight the wrong assumptions that matter (what God has made) is evil. We can use Paul's arguments to counter this same assumption in some of the philosophies and relgions of Buddhism, Hinduism, Platoism, New Age and Christian Scientists.

Lesson #2 - Everything created by God is good (4:4).

God's creation is good and therefore to be utilized and enjoyed. Holiness and spirituality are found not in rejecting what God has made but in rightfully using what He has made to His glory including marriage (sexual matters) and eating.

For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected, if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer. (1 Timothy 4:4-5).

Application: We must first understand what God teaches through the Bible and then focus on obedience. Knowledge without change of behavior which conforms us to the Lord is vain and empty. God's way is the best way.

Lesson #3 - Contentment with good (chapter 6)

Chapter 6 calls us to peace and contentment. The ascetics needed to argue, question, dispute which brought strife, envy, abusive language and evil suspicions. They need to assert their rightness because they advocate what goes counter to what is natural and visible. We do not see people saying, "Oh, I hate eating. I don't want to eat today." The way most cultists keep convinced of their arguments is by regularly arguing. This works in conjunction with their pride and conceit.

God's way is peaceable. We do not argue with others. We do not need to prove anything to anyone. Instead we simply explain what we believe and joyfully live godly lives.

But godliness actually is a means of great gain, when accompanied by contentment. (1 Timothy 6:6).

Paul's focus on trying to get rich doesn't seem to fit into this passage. This is because those who abstain from foods usually are not materially minded. (3) It seems that their teachers are exceptions to this who make money from this kind of teaching (5:1). They might offer to take the things that trouble the souls of the rich (2 Timothy 3:6). Or perhaps they link up their sacrificing of material things with the gaining of the 'knowledge.'

Application: Christians must do away with argumentative spirits. God wants us to be content. He does not want us seeking riches but godly living.

Other great resources on God's goodness!
Next => Goodness Overflowing

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Notes
(1) Thayer says of the three Greek Synonyms for good (beautiful).
asteiov is properly one living in a city, urban. It soon acquires the meaning urbane, polite, elegant. Then it obtains to a limited extent the meaning beautiful, although never in the highest degree.

wraiov, from wra, hour, period, means properly timely. From that comes the idea of being beautiful, since nearly everything is beautiful in its hour of fullest perfection.

kalov is a much higher word. It means beautiful, physically or morally. It is, however, distinctly the beauty which comes from harmony, the beauty which arises from a symmetrical adjustment in right proportion, in other words, from the harmonious completeness of the object concerned.

(2) Arguments against Paul's authorship because of the early detection of cults among the churches by the Apostle Paul is unlogical. If we grant that Gnosticism reached its apex in 2nd A.D., do we not expect that there was a beginning. Paul quickly picked up on false theologies and exposed it in this urban church.
(3) There is a possibility that this passage has no reference to this cult but to those who are tryng to get a lot of money. This is possible. We hardly fight only one problem at time in a church, but primarily it is one problem that is faced. In this case it seems connected because of 6:4 which refers to controversial questions as mentioned in chapter 1. In either case, we do welcome Paul's instruction that godliness is of great gain when accompanied by contentment. Wealth will not do it. Perhaps, there was some teaching which spoke on gaining wealth that would help them in their future lives. We just do not know.


List of references in 1, 2, Timothy and Titus with 'good'

1 Timothy 1:5 But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.
1 Timothy 1:8 But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully,
1 Timothy 1:18 This command I entrust to you, Timothy, my son, in accordance with the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may fight the good fight,
1 Timothy 1:19 keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith.
1 Timothy 2:3 This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,
1 Timothy 2:10 but rather by means of good works, as befits women making a claim to godliness.
1 Timothy 3:7 And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he may not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.
1 Timothy 3:12 Let deacons be husbands of only one wife, and good managers of their children and their own households.
1 Timothy 4:4 For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected, if it is received with gratitude;
1 Timothy 4:6 In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following.
1 Timothy 5:10 having a reputation for good works; and if she has brought up children, if she has shown hospitality to strangers, if she has washed the saints' feet, if she has assisted those in distress, and if she has devoted herself to every good work.
1 Timothy 5:25 Likewise also, deeds that are good are quite evident, and those which are otherwise cannot be concealed.
1 Timothy 6:12 Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
1 Timothy 6:13 I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate,
1 Timothy 6:18 Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share,
1 Timothy 6:19 storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.
2 Timothy 2:3 Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.
2 Timothy 2:21 Therefore, if a man cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:3 unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good,
2 Timothy 3:17 that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 4:7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith;
Titus 1:8 but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled,
Titus 1:16 They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient, and worthless for any good deed.
Titus 2:3 Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips, nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good,
Titus 2:7 in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified,
Titus 2:10 not pilfering, but showing all good faith that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect.
Titus 2:14 who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.
Titus 3:1 Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed,
Titus 3:8 This is a trustworthy statement; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God may be careful to engage in good deeds. These things are good and profitable for men.
Titus 3:14 And let our people also learn to engage in good deeds to meet pressing needs, that they may not be unfruitful.