The word “love” is used differently today than in the Bible. Paul has “urged (Timothy) … remain at Ephesus that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine” (1 Timothy 1:3). Paul advises him of the “stewardship from God that is by faith” adding “the aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith” (verses 4,5). Those three phrases are vital components our lives must possess if we desire to live in the service of our Lord Jesus and with the anticipation of a future in God’s kingdom.

The ‘oil’ that makes the ‘engine’ of our minds function in the way God approves must operate from a “pure heart”. We note the Greek word here is quite often translated as ‘clean’. Jesus told his disciples, “You are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you” (John 15:3,4). It is the word of God, rightly and humbly used, which cleans our hearts to make them pure.

We recall David’s impassioned Psalm after his grievous sins; “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me” (51:10). A clean heart is the foundation for a “good conscience” and a faith that is “sincere”. Paul tells Timothy that some at Ephesus “by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion …” (1 Timothy 1:6).

We live in a world of much “vain discussion” which lacks the essential foundation of “love that issues from a pure heart”. The role of women was a factor at Ephesus. But notice how Paul advises Timothy to teach them, “Let the women learn quietly and with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man” (2:11,12). When Paul wrote his Epistle to them he emphasized this point – see Ephesians 5:22-24.

Paul hopes to come to Ephesus, but says, “I am writing these things to you so that, if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God …” (3:14,15). All who are part of this church (the assemblies of true believers) will be conscious of Paul’s words and therefore readily work at developing and maintaining the “love that issues from a pure heart”.