Who Wrote 1 Timothy?
The letters to Timothy were written by the Apostle Paul. They are a part of what are commonly called the Pastoral epistles, which include 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus. Timothy was Paul’s younger protégé and was a pastor in the church of Ephesus. Paul’s message to him was to encourage him in his role.
The first letter to Timothy gives him detailed instructions as to how the local church should look and function. By the time we get to the second letter, which is Paul’s last letter written, Paul is aware that the end of his own life is near. He is writing to Timothy again as a final encouragement to keep the faith and keep going.
By the time we get to verse 7 we are made aware of a struggle Timothy had. He battled with a spirit of fear. It seems Timothy had a timid personality and Paul was encouraging him to speak the truth of the gospel with boldness.
So What Does This Verse Mean?
This brings us back to the question what does the verse “God has not given us a spirit of fear” mean? The word in the Greek is deilia (di-lee-ah). This word means cowardice or timidity. A person with a spirit of fear or timidity may shy away from proclaiming the gospel or upholding the truth of God’s word. This happens because of an impending sense of threat or danger whether it is real or imagined.
Another way of thinking about it is they are afraid of the consequences of their actions. When this fear takes over, doing the work of the kingdom of God, while still important, takes a backseat. This person becomes paralyzed and ineffective – not because they don’t have power but because they stop taking action, because of fear.
Paul is reminding Timothy – and us – that when it comes to preaching the gospel or doing work for the kingdom of God, we should do it with courage and boldness. If you recall in the early church in the book of Acts they would often pray for boldness. In Acts 4:29 they actually prayed “Now Lord consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.” God does not want us to shrink back from proclaiming the gospel but to declare it courageously, even in the face of opposition or persecution. If the spirit of timidity takes over, you will take a step back. But when the Spirit of God takes over you will move forward empowered to do God’s will.
The second thing to recognize about this verse is that the spirit of fear does not come from God. When you consider that the word in the Greek means cowardice or timidity these character traits do not describe God in any way. God is not timid, cowardly, shy, fearful, afraid, nervous or worried about anything and because you have the Spirit of God living inside of you, neither should you. Notice the verse in the amplified version:
“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity or cowardice or fear, but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of sound judgment and personal discipline [abilities that result in a calm, well-balanced mind and self-control].”
As believers there is this internal struggle happening, and Timothy was experiencing the same thing. If you focus on your abilities or the potential threat that can come from doing God’s work, then fear or timidity will arise. However, if you are constantly being filled with the Spirit of God (Ephesians 5:18) then he will help you overcome the spirit of fear.
Photo credit: Unsplash/Aaron Burden