Since Timothy was the pastor of the Ephesian church, when Paul told him how pastors and teachers should behave (v.1-13), he was telling Timothy how to “behave thyself” (v.15).
“The house of God” today is “the church”, the Body of Christ (Eph.1:22,23), and specifically the local church, which is the visible manifestation of the Body. But God has lived in different houses through the ages. His starter house was outdoors (Gen.28:10-17). His next house was the ark. It moved around (Judges 18:31) until God settled in Jerusalem, where Solomon built him a house (IChr.6:32)
Into this new house of the temple they brought the old house of the ark (II Chron. 5:7). So it was a big house of God, with a little house of God inside. Kind of like we have today, with a lot of little churches inside the big church of the Body of Christ.
Paul calls it the church of “the living God” because Timothy pastored in Ephesus, where there was a big house of a dead god named Diana (Acts 19:27,28).
We can learn how to be the church of the living God by what God says about “the living God” in the past. We know that the living God speaks (Deut.5:26), and when He does, He tells His people how to live righteously (v.6-21). Well, that’s what the living God does today, only today He doesn’t speak out of the midst of the fire (Deut.5:26), He speaks out of the midst of the local church. God’s people can still hear Him tell them how to live righteously, and ask counsel of Him as they did when God lived in the ark (Jud.20:18).
When you do, God makes a promise similar to you that He made to the Jews. He promised to drive out the nations that didn’t belong in the land (Joshua 3:10), but planned to use Israel to do it. But he warned them that if they didn’t, those nations would torment them (Num.33:55). Well, if after you go to church and hear God speak about things that don’t belong in your life, if you don’t drive them out they’ll torment you as well, and rob you of the joy God wants you to have as His child.
The next thing we learn about “the living God” is that He has armies (ISam.17:36), Israel in time past, us today (IITim. 2:3,4). God’s also interested in driving things out of the Body of Christ that don’t belong there, things like the false doctrines on which we’re to use the sword of the Spirit. Angels fought His battles in Genesis 28:12, but today it’s us. We come to the local church to get orders as they came to God’s house, then depart to execute them.
The Assyrians taunted “the living God,” saying He couldn’t protect His people any more than the gods of the heathen (IIKi.18:33), but as Hezekiah pointed out, their gods were dead (19:15-19). Today the world taunts us that our God can’t protect us from hunger or danger or trouble, but God never promised to deliver us from those things, He promised to deliver us in them (Rom.8:35-37). When Israel was good God delivered them from those things, and they conquered those things through God, but we can be more than conquerors through Christ because none of those things can touch our salvation, and God can use all those things to help us grow in grace. When God doesn’t protect us from those things, some lose their trust in the living God, but Paul says that he suffered reproach “because” he trusted in the living God (ITim.4:10), trusted that He would help him grow in grace for having suffered them.
The church is the “pillar” of the truth (3:16), and led Israel step by step (Neh.9:12) until a Book was written to guide their every stop, and that Book now guides God’s people in the local church. God’s people should follow it as they followed the pillar of cloud, and not make a move without it (Num.9:18-22).
The leaders of the 12 were “pillars” (Gal.2:9), seemingly immoveable (cf.Rev.3:12) when it came to acknowledging Paul’s new truth. If Peter argued with the Lord to retain old Bible truth (Acts 10:14), imagine the fight he gave Paul! That’s how we should be about our truth too. If you will, God will make you an iron pillar (Jer. 1:17-19)!