“Some people have turned away from these and have lost their way in foolish discussions. They want to be teachers of God’s law, but they do not understand their own words or the matters about which they speak with so much confidence”(1 Timothy 1:6-7 GNB).
A Biblical teacher’s greatest privilege is to be used of God to help others grasp the meaning and application of His Word. For the teacher, it is both humbling and rewarding to experience the satisfaction of knowing that God has positively impacted others through his or her ministry. However, a teacher must also be diligent to maintain the proper motivation for his or her work. That represents one of the issues Paul the Apostle addressed here in 1 Timothy chapter one.
The right foundation for a teaching ministry was given to us earlier in 1 Timothy 1:5: “…a pure heart, …a good conscience, and …sincere faith.” A teacher who truly wishes to honor God will be careful to maintain this foundation.
Unfortunately, the teachers referenced here in 1 Timothy 1:6-7 seemed primarily interested in developing their reputations. As one paraphrase renders this passage, “They want a reputation as teachers of the Law, yet they fail to realise the meaning of their own words, still less of the subject they are so dogmatic about” (Phillips). Since their teachings were guided by this questionable motive, it appears they failed to discern the negative implications associated with them.
This is important, for teachers like those described here in 1 Timothy 1:6-7 can produce great spiritual and/or emotional injury in others. Lives may be ruined, churches may split, and cultic organizations may emerge whenever someone begins teaching the Scriptures with an inappropriate motive. Given the overwhelming availability of modern-day spiritual teachings, it is crucial to recognize and avoid such individuals. Therefore, we should prayerfully seek God’s wisdom and choose our teachers judiciously.
While the position of “teacher” may seem attractive, a person who makes the commitment to teach the Scriptures must also accept the accountability that goes along with it. That accountability is in found in the New Testament book of James: “My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment” (James 3:1).
1 Timothy 1:6-7 reminds us that alternative motives may hide behind a veneer of spirituality, even among those who project an air of confidence and assurance . Therefore, this passage should serve as a cautionary message for anyone who may wish to pursue the office of a teacher in its various forms.