1Ti 3:14-15 “These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly: But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.”
Paul and Timothy had a relationship that dated back about a decade by the time Paul wrote First Timothy. He first met Timothy in the city of Lystra (Acts 16:1-2). Even then, Timothy was a respected disciple, known to the brethren in Lystra and Iconium. Timothy joined Paul and Silas on what is referred to as Paul’s second missionary journey.
Paul was imprisoned in Caesarea for about two years, then sent to Rome because of his appeal to Caesar. After the journey for Caesarea to Rome, Paul was kept on house arrest in Rome for another two years. While the Bible is not clear on what exactly happened with Paul, scholars speculate that he was freed around 62 AD. His first letter to Timothy was probably written between 62 and 65 AD.
This tells us that it may have been several years since Paul had seen Timothy. This would certainly explain why Paul felt a sense of urgency (“hoping to come unto thee shortly”). His love for Timothy is clearly seen, and he longs to see him. However, Paul has also learned that his life is not his own, and he is not always able to do things on his terms.
As servants of God, we still experience these things today. We have disciples (brother and sisters in Christ) who have touched our lives deeply. Sometimes circumstances are such that we are separated by time and distance for long periods. When we finally have an opportunity to be together again, there is a great anticipation in us. This is surely what Paul was feeling as he writes this letter.
So Paul tells Timothy “I plan to see you soon, but in case that does not happen, I want to give you these instructions.” Paul realized from years of experience that his journey did not always take the turns he intended. Rather than complain about that, he simply acknowledges it. As servants of the living God, our lives are not our own, and the best thing we can do is to humbly acknowledge that.
We should gladly receive instruction as to how we ought to behave (live) in the house of God. Sadly, we have not always behaved ourselves in His house, and that always leads to heartache and destruction. It is also important to note that Paul’s instruction is on how to behave “in” the house of God. We cannot behave ourselves “in” the house of God if we do not go to the house of God.
We realize that we are the temple of God, and the church dwells within us. As such, our behavior should conform to Paul’s instruction all the time. However, Paul’s terminology here seems to imply that he is referring to the gathering together of God’s people, and not just our individual service. There is a need for us to assemble in our worship of Him.
May we, knowing how to behave ourselves in God’s house, always be found doing so!