1Timothy 1:3 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
In Acts 16, we find Paul getting the call to go undo Macedonia. Now, there are two times when Paul goes into Macedonia; once in Acts 16 and another time in Acts 20. In Acts 20’s journey, Timothy accompanies Paul. Acts 20:3 And there abode three months. And when the Jews laid wait for him, as he was about to sail into Syria, he purposed to return through Macedonia. Acts 20:4 And there accompanied him into Asia Sopater of Berea; and of the Thessalonians, Aristarchus and Secundus; and Gaius of Derbe, and Timotheus; and of Asia, Tychicus and Trophimus. Now, other than 1Timothy 1:3, there is no record in Acts, that I’m aware of, that expressly shows Paul mandating that Timothy abides in Ephesus. However, as Acts 16 unfolds, we find that Paul is traveling with Silas, not Timothy. Acts 16 would fall in the 2nd round of journeys, while Acts 20 would be in the third round. So, it seems that this mandate to remain in Ephesus is sometime during the 2nd journey.
Paul said that the purpose for Timothy to remain in Ephesus was that he was to instruct them that they teach no other doctrine. What doctrine is this? The word heterodidaskaleo (ἑτεροδιδασκαλέω) is where teach other doctrine comes from. Notice the first word, hetero. In Galatians 1, we find Paul giving the reason he was writing his letter and it was to combat the “other” gospel that was coming into the Galatian assembly.
Galatians 1:6 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:
Galatians 1:7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.
In verse 6, the word ‘another’ is ‘heteros‘. The idea here is ‘another of a different kind.’ In verse 7, the word ‘another’ is ‘allos‘, which is ‘another of the same kind.’ Paul’s point in Galatians is that there were those who were perverting the gospel of Christ (adding circumcision, law-keeping, etc.) He says that he is surprised that they were so quick to change their thinking to another good news. It really isn’t another good news (which verse 7 leads off with) – there is no other good news. Paul wants them to realize that this notion of adding law-keeping to Christ’s work is not a gospel at all. In fact, it isn’t gospel (good news) at all, but bad news.
So, in 1Timothy, Paul wants Timothy to teach no other (of a different kind) doctrine. This isn’t the same doctrine, just said a different way; but, not teaching false doctrine. What was the doctrine that was true–that was to be taught? No surprise, but it is the same thing that the Galatians were struggling with – law-keeping for righteousness vs. Christ for righteousness.
1Timothy 1:4 Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do.
Not only would Timothy be charged with teaching no other doctrine (which we’ll see as the chapter/letter unfolds is concerning the legalists), but also to avoid the propagation of fables and endless genealogies. As Timothy is dealing with Jews, these fables and genealogies would be concerning that group of people. When Paul writes to Titus, he says, Titus 1:14 Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth. When you heed to something, you are essentially yielding your thinking that whatever it is you are heeding is true. Paul does not want Timothy wrapped up in debating over ledgendary tales or historical fantasies because none of that is of truth; none of that is of the doctrine of righteousness by faith.
What about genealogies? Claim heritage of Abraham was/is very important to a Jew. When Christ is preaching at the Pharisees shortly after His baptism, what does He tell them? He knows what kind of arguments they are going to make and Christ heads them off at the pass – Matthew 3:9 And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. Even in Romans 2 and 3, we find Paul showing that heritage doesn’t negate one’s accountability to accept or reject Christ’s righteousness by their belief or disbelief. All stand on equal footing before the Cross. Romans 3:9 What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin.
The issues of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection and the righteousness He offers by grace is what Paul wants Timothy to keep the Ephesians’ minds focused on–don’t waste time on fables or genealogies, which only minister questions, Paul says. In other words, these things only end in question, not in answer. Christ’s doctrine of righteousness by faith is the answer. This is what edifies in faith. Every time Paul speaks of edification, he has one idea in mind – growing up in Christ.
Colossians 2:6 As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him:
Colossians 2:7 Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.
Colossians 2:8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
Notice too the similarity in message to the Colossians regarding not being rooted in the traditions of men or in philosophy. Edification is what happens when we bathe our attention and thinking on our position in Christ. To edify is to build up. Now, what I just said is true because this is what the Bible teaches regarding edification. We do not edify by offering complements on how someone looks or sings, but we edify when we redirect the mind’s attention back to Christ.
I said that what I said was true, but, I noticed something interesting about the word edification in verse 4. It is actually the same word that ‘dispensation’ comes from – oikonomia (οἰκονομία). A dispensation is simply the noun version of something that is dispensed. The dispensation of grace is simply the dispensing of God’s grace and naturally, how He is managing His house in light of grace’s dispensation. When Paul admonishes Timothy to teach no other doctrine, it is because it leads to a godly dispensation, or, it dispenses godliness. The fables and genealogies dispense anything but. As Paul beings to encourage Timothy in the face of the legalists, he wants Timothy to be assured that the teaching of Christ and righteousness by faith (not by the law) will dispense godliness.
In Paul’s second letter to Timothy, he speaks of those who have a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof. Even in Christ’s day, there were those whom ‘worked for God’, but Christ will tell them that He never knew them.
Furthermore, this helps to show exactly what godliness is and it has nothing to do with behavior and performance, but by forsaking the desire for self-righteousness by law-keeping in favor of Christ’s righteousness by faith. This is the essence of godliness – Christ Himself, whom you are joined to, if you’ve trusted what He accomplished for you at Calvary.