by Mike Ratliff
13 ἕως ἔρχομαι πρόσεχε τῇ ἀναγνώσει, τῇ παρακλήσει, τῇ διδασκαλίᾳ. 1 Timothy 4:13 (NA28)
13 Until I come give attention to the public reading of scripture, to exhortation and teaching. 1 Timothy 4:13 (translated from the NA28 Greek Text)
This ministry began as a polemic response to the preaching and ministry downgrade that was taking place in the visible church during the early years of the attempted Purpose Driven takeover of the evangelical churches throughout the United States and in other parts of the world. There were other things going at that time as well such as the rise of the Emergent Village, and other forms of “Christian Liberalism” such as the ministry of Rob Bell. My response and the response of all those who stood against this attack on the Gospel and every part of Christian orthodox soteriology was to stand firmly on what the Word of God says, never straying from the fact that it is God’s absolute truth. This has enabled us to endure. The enemies of the truth are still out there, but we know who they are and until God takes us home we will continue to shine the light of God’s truth into the darkness of their false doctrines.
One of the pillars of Christian ministry is the centrality of preaching. Carefully read the passage I placed at the top of this post (1 Timothy 4:13). Tragically, most ministries today are built on entertainment, personality, crowd-gathering events, gimmicks, programs, and other things that simply appeal to the flesh. However, the truly biblical minister builds solely on the Word of God. Paul makes it very clear that until he returned, Timothy was to do one thing only: keep preaching the truth in which Paul had instructed him (cf. 2 Timothy 2:2).
In 1 Timothy 4:13 “give attention to” translates the verb πρόσεχε (proseche) the second singular, present active imperative case of προσέχω (prosechō), which was a nautical term for holding a ship in a direction, to sail onward. The idea, then, was “to hold on one’s course.” What course was Timothy to hold? Not entertainment or people’s “felt needs.” His course was to be be the Word of God alone. Paul used the same word in his letter to Titus.
14 μὴ προσέχοντες Ἰουδαϊκοῖς μύθοις καὶ ἐντολαῖς ἀνθρώπων ἀποστρεφομένων τὴν ἀλήθειαν. Titus 1:14 (NA28)
14 not paying attention to Jewish myths and commandments of men who turn away from the truth. Titus 1:14 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)
Here we have “paying attention” translating the verb προσέχοντες (prosechontes) the present active participle, nominative plural case of προσέχω (prosechō). Paul was instructing Titus as pastor to not give attention to things that were unbiblical. “Jewish fables” were a mixture of extra-biblical Jewish traditions and pagan myths. Similarly, “commandments of men” were simply man-made teachings. Paul told Titus that he was not to set his course according to those things but according to God’s Word. What does this say about many of today’s methods?
Specifically, Timothy’s and Titus’s course was to be set on “reading,” exhortation, and doctrine, and by application, this should be our course. First and foremost it is the reading of God’s Word that should fill our churches. That should be our course.
Soli Deo Gloria!