CLAIM: Paul encouraged Timothy to combat false teaching in Ephesus. But, what sort of false teaching was it?
RESPONSE: The false teaching in Ephesus was most likely a blending of proto-Gnosticism and Jewish legalism. The Gnostics had endless Genealogies from God to man, which would make sense of Paul’s comments about “myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation” (1 Tim. 1:4). Of course, Paul would never speak about the OT genealogies this way, which confirmed the authority and lineage of Christ as a “descendant of David” (Rom. 1:3).
However, some sort of Jewish legalism must have been involved as well. Paul mentions that these men wanted to be “teachers of the Law” (v.7). This would imply that they were distorting the OT to proliferate their false doctrines. Moreover, Paul wrote to Titus about “Jewish myths” (Titus 1:14). For more, see comments on the false teaching in Ephesus see “The False Teaching in Ephesus” under Introduction to 1 Timothy.