December 3, 2017 – 1 Timothy 1:1-20

Lesson Date: December 3, 2017

Focal Scripture Passage: 1 Timothy 1:1-20

AIM: To lead students to discover and discuss the nature and results of false doctrine and true doctrine, and to commit themselves to rejecting false doctrine and clinging to true doctrine.

Before class: Read the notes on 1 Timothy 1:1-20 found in the Sunday School Teacher Book. Be sure to have some copies of the Sunday School Member Quarterly available for any students who might not have one. Write the following statements and formulas in random order on the marker board or chalkboard:


Grass is pink

Grass is green


Humans have six legs

We live on Earth

Humans have two legs

We live on Mars

INTRODUCTION (Create Learning Readiness): Tell the class that some of the things written on the board are true and others are false. Read each statement or formula aloud and ask the class to tell whether it is true or false. Stress the fact that there is no “gray area” or room for opinion in those statements; they are all either true or false.

Tell the class that what we believe determines how we behave. To illustrate this fact, reread each of the false statements written on the board, asking the class how believing that falsehood would affect their behavior (in other words, what are the results of believing such false statements). For example, believing that 2+2=5 will cause many mathematical calculations to be incorrect; believing that grass is pink will cause you to kill the green grass in your yard and search for pink grass seed.

Applying this illustration to religious beliefs, tell the class that there are true religious doctrines and false religious doctrines. Just like the illustration above, what we believe determines how we live.



  1. Introduction.
    • Be sure everyone present has a copy of the new Sunday School Member Quarterly.
    • Point out the title, “How to Behave in Church,” and tell the class that through the study of 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus they will learn much about how Christians should behave and how the church should function.
    • Ask a volunteer to read 1 Timothy 1:1-3.
    • Briefly introduce 1 Timothy using the following outline:
      • The Apostle Paul wrote this letter to his close friend Timothy.
      • The last New Testament book we studied was Ephesians (which we studied during the spring and summer quarters).
      • Paul wrote Ephesians while he was a prisoner in Rome (point out Rome on the map).
      • Timothy was with Paul during that imprisonment in Rome.
      • When Paul was released from prison he resumed his missionary travels.
      • He and Timothy eventually went to Ephesus (locate Ephesus on the map).
      • Paul left Timothy in Ephesus, while he continued on to Macedonia (locate Macedonia on the map).
    • Ask everyone to look back at verse 3.
    • Ask: “Why did Paul leave Timothy in Ephesus?” (to correct false doctrine that had crept into the church and to rebuke false teachers).
  2. True or False?
    • Erase the board and draw a vertical line down the center, creating two columns.
    • Write the words False Doctrine at the top of one column and True Doctrine at the top of the other.
    • Throughout the lesson, write the descriptions of the nature and results of false doctrine and true doctrine on the board (or enlist a class member to do so).
    • OPTION: Divide the class into two groups.
      • Ask one group to read verses 4, 6-10, and 19-20 and describe the nature and results of false doctrine.
      • Ask the other group to read verses 5, 8, and 11-16 and describe the nature and results of true doctrine.
  3. False Doctrine and Its Results.
    • Read 1 Timothy 1:3-5.
    • Tell the class Paul had an important task for Timothy.
    • Ask: “According to verse 4, what was Timothy supposed to teach the believers in Ephesus NOT to listen to or believe?” (fables and endless genealogies).
    • Explain that fables are made-up stories not based on the Bible.
      • For example, the Catholic belief about purgatory is a fable. Catholic stories about Mary’s parents and childhood are fables.
      • For another example, the Mormon belief that Jesus came to preach to the Indians in North America after His resurrection is a fable.
    • Concerning genealogies, tell the students there is nothing wrong with researching your family tree, but believing that your ancestry determines whether or not you go to heaven when you die is false doctrine.
    • Ask: “What results from fables and endless genealogies?” (questions, rather than edifying).
    • Write this on the board.
    • Tell the class verse 5 says Paul’s command to Timothy was motivated by sincere love for the Ephesians.
    • Ask a volunteer to read 1 Timothy 1:6-8.
    • Ask the students what those verses reveal about false and true doctrine (false doctrine draws you away from the truth and leads you to useless talk; false doctrine puffs people up with pride even though they don’t really know the truth; God’s Law is good).
    • Write these facts on the board.
    • Read 1 Timothy 1:9-10.
    • Ask: “Who are laws made for? Righteous people or sinful people?” (they are made to try to keep sinful people’s behavior in check).
    • Tell the class the same is true for God’s law.
    • Ask the students to name the various kinds of lawless people listed in verses 9-10.
    • Explain that a person who has inward righteousness – because he or she knows Jesus Christ as Savior and has the Holy Spirit living within – does not really need a set of rules to live by. The indwelling Holy Spirit of God convicts us of our sinful behavior.
    • Ask a volunteer to read 1 Timothy 1:11.
    • Ask: “How does this verse describe true doctrine?” (it is glorious, it comes from our blessed God, and it has been entrusted to us).
    • Write these things on the board.
    • Summarize: False doctrine leads to wicked behavior. Also, wicked behavior is evidence that the sinner believes false doctrine.
  4. True Doctrine and Its Results.
    • Ask a volunteer to read 1 Timothy 1:12-14.
    • Tell the class these verses contain the Apostle Paul’s personal testimony.
    • Ask: “Why was Paul in the ministry?” (God put him in the ministry).
    • Ask: “What was Paul’s life like before he came to know Jesus Christ as Savior?” (he was a blasphemer, persecutor, and a sadistic person).
    • These things were the result of Paul believing false doctrine. Write them on the board.
    • Ask: “What changed his life?” (God was merciful to him, giving him grace, faith, and love).
    • Tell the class Paul was saved as a result of true doctrine. Write this on the board.
    • Explain that Paul never got over the fact that when he was lost he had persecuted God’s church, but Jesus graciously saved him anyway.
    • Tell the students that just as Paul shared his personal testimony, we should share ours. Our personal testimony of salvation includes:
      • A description of our life before salvation,
      • An explanation of how we came to faith in Christ, and
      • How our life has changed since salvation.
    • Read 1 Timothy 1:15-16.
    • Ask: “Why did Jesus Christ come into the world?” (to save sinners).
    • This is true doctrine; write it on the board.
    • Ask: “According to verse 16, why did Jesus save Paul?” (as an example to others who would later be saved).
    • Ask a volunteer to read 1 Timothy 1:17.
    • Ask: “What true doctrines do you see in that verse?” (God is our King, He is eternal, immortal, and invisible, He is the source of true wisdom, and He deserves our praise).
    • Write these things on the board.
    • Summarize: True doctrine changes lives. It brings salvation and causes us to praise God.
  5. A Charge and Warning.
    • Read 1 Timothy 1:18.
    • Explain that a charge is a stern and solemn instruction.
    • Ask: “What did Paul tell Timothy to do?” (fight a good fight for the truth).
    • Tell the class 1 Timothy 1:19-20 describe two people who left true doctrine and followed false doctrine.
    • Read those verses.
    • Ask: “What happened to those men?” (they experienced spiritual shipwreck resulting in them being excommunicated from the church and delivered over to Satan).
    • These are more results of false doctrine. Write these things on the board.
    • Summarize: We should stand up for true doctrine and be warned by the sad examples of those who followed false doctrine.


PERSONAL APPLICATION: Briefly review the descriptions of the nature and results of false doctrine and true doctrine that you have written on the board. True doctrine comes from the Bible and teaches salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. False doctrine is useless, meaningless, and leads people into bad behavior and spiritual shipwreck.

To summarize today’s learning, ask the following questions:

“What is false doctrine?” (anything that doesn’t match up with the Word of God).

“What is the danger of listening to false doctrine?” (it leads to bad behavior choices and therefore ungodly living).

“Why should Christians avoid false doctrine?” (so they can live right).

“How do we learn to identify false doctrine?” (by becoming very familiar with the truths of the Bible).

Tell the students they must make a choice. They can determine to reject false doctrine and cling to true doctrine or they can allow themselves to be deceived by false doctrine. Just as it is foolish to believe that 2+2=5 or that humans have six legs, it is foolish to listen to and believe false doctrine. The choice is theirs to make.

Urge each student to personally commit himself or herself to rejecting false doctrine and to learning and applying true doctrine. Lead a closing prayer time, including a time of silent prayer during which students can make their personal commitments.


CONCLUSION: Ask everyone to memorize 1 Timothy 1:5. Tell the students to be on the lookout for false doctrine this week. Encourage them to do the Daily Bible Readings found in their Sunday School Member Quarterly (pages 4-5) each day. Doing so will help them learn and cling to true doctrine. Next week’s lesson is about godly behavior.

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