The Agora
Bible Commentary
1 Timothy

1 2 3 4 5 6


The first letter has three main themes. Paul was aware that it would not be long before sound doctrine would be ignored. He urged Timothy to resist the false doctrine that was being deliberately taught in Ephesus. It was evident that some of the believers in Ephesus were teaching doctrinal error, and were also devoting their time to the consideration of myths, genealogies and meaningless talk. Paul regarded the development of faith in love as being far more productive. It seems from 1Ti 1:8-11 that the error being proposed by the false teachers related to the keeping of the Law (of Moses). Paul, yet again (he did it in other letters) pointed out that the Law was made for sinners. On the other hand, while Paul regarded himself as initially a sinner of significant proportions (1Ti 1:13) it was through the grace of God, and through love and faith that he was able to receive strength and be a servant of God. Paul was encouraging Timothy to fight for the faith that he was also given so that he would not follow the path of those who became distracted and mad e a wreck of their faith (1Ti 1:18-20).

The second theme concerned the way in which groups of believers -- the ecclesia -- might worship. Paul gave advice on the way in which men and women might pray and dress, and he also suggested the role of the woman in relation to the man: the man should take the responsibility for guidance just as Christ took the responsibility for his ecclesia -- his "bride". He also discussed the qualifications of elders in the ecclesias.

The third theme concerns the issue of personal traits that Timothy should exhibit. Paul saw that Timothy had a major role to play in the development of the first century Christians and he did what he could to encourage him. In two other instances, Paul referred to the acute attacks that would come upon the believers before too long. Paul advised him to be a good servant "brought up in the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed." "Command and teach," Paul advised. He realized this chore would not be easy; he used words such as "fight", "take hold" and "command". Serious issues needed strong words and action.

Two things stand out in the latter part of this letter. Firstly, it was obvious to Paul that Timothy would need to keep Paul's directions "until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1Ti 6:14). There was no doubt that Paul expected Jesus to return to the earth. The second thing is that Paul was anticipating a time when "what is falsely called knowledge" would need to be refuted (1Ti 6:20). For the followers of Christ, "looking for his appearing" should be a fundamental occupation, together with refusal to be caught up in contemporary society's paranoia for increasing knowledge, too much of which can be regarded as being false.



1Ti 1:1-2: Greeting

1Ti 1:3-11: The problem of false teachers

1Ti 1:12-20: Grace, faith and love

1Ti 2:1-15: Directions for private and public worship
1Ti 3:1-16: Duties, responsibilities and qualifications of God's servants in the ecclesia

1Ti 4:1-15: General, personal advice to encourage Timothy

1Ti 5:1-25: More specific personal advice

1Ti 6:1-2: Continued advice

1Ti 6:3-10: A further reminder of troubles -- doctrinal, financial and social -- that will come to God's people

1Ti 6:11-20: Final encouragement

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