1 Timothy 1
See Lesson, Paul the man.
See Lesson, Pastoral letters, overview.
See Lesson, Sayings of faith in Pastorals.
See Lesson, Women in 1Ti.
1Ti 1: After an introduction (vv 1,2), Paul in the remainder
of 1Ti 1 appeals to Timothy to combat the growing apostasy to the Judaizers.
These dangerous theories were developing within the very ecclesia. Error mixed
with truth is often the most dangerous. Timothy's duty was to fight an untiring
war against this error, even going so far as to follow Paul's example of
separating from the offenders (v 20).
APOSTLE: An apostle is 'one sent forth', with some
special message or commission -- an ambassador, representing the coming Kingdom.
BY: "Kata", which means 'according to' -- implying a
strong link with the one who commanded.
COMMAND: From "epitage", which is used in the Greek to
denote a royal command! Paul was on the "King's business"! Paul was an apostle
by the commandment of God our Saviour and the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul's
conversion and special selection as an apostle were confirmed by the Holy Spirit
(Acts 9:17; 13:2, 9), which filled him and which gave him the power to confirm
the Truth he preached by the working of miracles.
GOD OUR SAVIOR: Not a very common expression, but it
does state an important truth. God offers salvation to "all men" (1Ti 2:4)
through His bountiful love, shown in offering His only-begotten son (John 3:16;
Rom 5:5,6; 8:32). Yahweh is called "Saviour", for example in Jude 1:25 and in
Mary's song of Luke 1:47. "Saviour" was one of the titles appropriated by the
Emperor Nero at this time. In this introduction, then, Paul is taking the
misappropriated Imperial title and giving it to the Only Being to Whom it truly
The word "Saviour" is used ten times in the Pastorals -- six
times for God (1Ti 1:1; 2:3; Tit 1:3; 2:10,13; 3:4) and four for Christ (1Ti
4:10; 2Ti 1:10; Tit 1:4; 3:6). In all Paul's other letters it occurs only two
more times, referring in both cases to Christ (Eph 5:23; Phi 3:20).
The equivalent of this Greek word "soter" appears throughout
the Old Testament, as a golden thread by which we may trace the prophetic
references to Jesus. In Gen 49:18, Jacob after speaking of the last days says:
"I have waited for Thy salvation, O Yahweh". And in Psa 65:5, "By terrible
things in righteousness, wilt thou answer us, O God of our salvation." And
Jeremiah, in the midst of bitter sufferings, can say, "It is good that a man
should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD" (Lam 3:26).
Jesus' name in the Hebrew means "Yah saves" or "the Salvation of Yah". So we see
that Yahweh, "He Who shall save", may manifest His offer of salvation only
through His Son Jesus. "No man cometh unto the Father, but by me" (John 14:6).
"God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself (2Co 5:19; Rom 8:3; Gal
OUR HOPE: "Elpis", as in "Elpis Israel" -- the "hope of
Israel" for which Paul was bound with chains (Acts 28:20). Christ is "our hope".
The Gentiles, without Christ, have no hope (Eph 2:12). The word of the gospel
and the spirit and fullness of God, dwelling in Paul allowed him to speak
triumphantly of "Christ in us, the hope of glory" (Col 1:27). And this animating
hope buoyed up his spirits to withstand his tribulations, in expectation of that
revelation or manifestation of "Christ our hope": "When Christ, who is our life,
shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory" (Col 3:4).
Paul speaks of this same hope in another of his pastoral
letters: "Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of... our
Saviour Jesus Christ... " (Tit 2:13).
TIMOTHY: Sig "honor to God" -- just as in the two
sections of this epistle to Timothy. In 1Ti 1:16, "Unto the King eternal... be
honor (timee)..." And in 1Ti 6:16, (God) "To whom be honor (timee)..." Timothy
was a servant of God (and an example for us -- 1Ti 4:12) who faithfully kept the
purity of the Truth and who lived his life with this one aim, to honor and
glorify our Father in heaven.
MY TRUE SON: Paul addresses Titus by the same phrase in
Tit 1:4. He was his close protégé and his dearly beloved friend.
Similarly, he speaks of "my son Philemon" (Phm 1:10). It was inevitable that
Paul (who seems to have had no children of his own) would have a paternal
feeling toward these young men and would hope they would carry forward the
burden he was soon to lay down. It was Paul who ordained Timothy for his work
with the "laying on of his hands" (2Ti 1:6) and it was Paul who often gave
Timothy his instructions. Thus, Timothy would be recognized as an accredited,
and therefore true, representative of his spiritual father.
"He who teaches the law to his neighbor's son is as though he
had begotten him" (Dawn 41:241).
GRACE, MERCY AND PEACE: Cp 2Ti 1:2; 2Jo 1:3. (1) Grace
is for the worthless; it is God giving me what I don't deserve. (2) Mercy is for
the helpless; it is God withholding from me what I do deserve. (3) Peace is for
the restless; it is the assurance that whatever happens to me will work out for
GRACE: "Charis" -- a gift or favor -- any and all of
God's blessings and gifts to men. "Grace" in some contexts refers to the gifts
of the Holy Spirit, but the word means much more than that. Grace is the
favorable attention, care, and comfort from God toward us. To know grace is to
come within the scope of His glorious light -- to be accepted as part of His
chosen family, constantly overshadowed by His angelic protection.
This grace is extended without partiality to all who, in
truth, yield themselves entirely to Him -- this means placing ourselves in His
hands, allowing His word to work in us. We must allow the Truth to overshadow
and dominate everything in our lives -- endeavoring to give our all to Him,
holding nothing back, in hope of the day when we will be "filled with the
fullness of God". Just holding certain beliefs, attending the meetings of
believers and being technically 'in the Truth' is not enough to guarantee God's
grace. We must be receptive to Him and be moved to activity. Then and only then
may we enter into the glory of the grace of God.
MERCY: The word mercy is not found in Paul's earlier
greetings. They are restricted to "grace and peace". Mercy is the overlooking,
in loving understanding, of all our shortcomings and failures if we, like Paul,
agonize to repudiate them and to be free of them. To obtain the mercy of God we
must fully recognize our absolute need for mercy -- our utter helplessness
without it. God is the essence of all holiness, purity and perfection. We are
weak, ignorant, unclean mortal creatures seeking His exalted fellowship. And
related to this, the more we recognize our own need for mercy the more merciful
we should be toward the faults and weaknesses of others. "Blessed are the
merciful, for they shall obtain mercy" (Mat 5:7).
PEACE: Peace is the basic blessing we all need most. It
only comes through the grace and mercy of God. Peace is an impervious mental
shield against all fear and disquiet. Peace is perfect, relaxed harmony and
tranquility of mind. Peace is primarily "peace with God" -- "We have peace with
God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Rom 5:1).
To have peace with God makes all other conflict harmless and
unimportant. It can only come with complete, undivided dedication to one supreme
object of life, for peace is essentially oneness. It is not freedom from
external conflict: that is not important. It is freedom from internal conflict.
Jesus said, just before the terrible suffering of his crucifixion: "Peace I
leave with you: my peace I give unto you... In the world ye shall have
tribulation; but in me ye shall have peace... Let not your heart be troubled,
neither let it be afraid" (John 14:27).
And Paul, chained and in prison for the sake of the glorious
gospel tells the Philippian brethren to take everything to God in prayer, and he
assures them that in so doing -- "The peace of God, which passeth all
understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Jesus Christ" (Phi
FROM GOD THE FATHER AND CHRIST JESUS OUR LORD: The true
order from which all blessings flow. All gifts come from God. But the greatest
gift of God to man is the hope of eternal life which was first revealed in
Christ -- "the firstfruits... " (1Co 15:23) -- and then offered to us as well,
through Christ, our Saviour, mediator, and Lord.
Vv 3-11: Timothy's first and principal duty at Ephesus was the
preservation of sound doctrine in the ecclesia. Paul was always deeply and
actively concerned with the preservation of the Truth and the suppression of
error in the One Body. The error here referred to is Judaizing, the undue
reliance upon the old law as the way of life. Its traditions and rituals and
technicalities were elevated by certain brethren to positions of
'life-and-death' importance, in effect denying the efficacy of Christ's
sacrifice and God's mercy.
Paul fully realized that pure doctrine was the foundation upon
which all else must be built. Pure actions can arise only from pure teachings;
they do not come of themselves.
SO THAT YOU MAY COMMAND...: The Greek noun "parangelia"
and its corresponding verb "parangello" appear six times in 1Ti, translated as
either "charge" or "commandment". The words are strictly used of commands
received from a superior and transmitted to others -- down a "chain of command".
Paul was quite concerned for his young disciple Timothy, and
went to great effort to remind him of the truth and charge him to keep it and
encourage its keeping in the lives of those in his care: First, Paul wanted to
charge Timothy to remain strong in his personal faith, so that he might fight a
good fight: "holding on to faith, and a good conscience" (1Ti 1:18,19). "I
charge you to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our
Lord Jesus Christ" (1Ti 6:13,14).
In a similar vein, Paul knew the dangers of false doctrine. "I
urged you... that you may command certain men not to teach false doctrines any
longer" (1Ti 1:3). Following a discussion of specific false teachings (1Ti
4:1-10) and their refutations, Paul concludes: "These things command and teach"
(1Ti 4:11). Even those who nominally adhere to proper teaching need direction.
"Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put
their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God" (1Ti
6:17). Living up to these charges (commandments) brings real benefit in this
life as well as in eternity: a pure heart full of agape love, a conscience
unfettered by sin and false doctrine, and a sincere faith, not weakened by
hypocrisy (1Ti 1:5). If we would be disciples, we should mind the charges given
MYTHS: Gr "muthos", used only five times in the whole
NT. Four of these occurrences are in the Pastorals: here; 1Ti 4:7; 2Ti 4:4; and
Tit 1:14 (where they are called Jewish fables). Generally these fables were
Jewish in character, based upon Rabbinical traditions -- as the context here
indicates. The word is also translated -- in other versions -- as myth, legend,
Notice that the NT writers knew well enough what "myths" were.
Yet according to some of the more liberal critics, these very writers were busy
creating their own myths!
It was said in the old Jewish schools that an oral Law had
been given on Sinai, and that this Law had been handed down by a succession of
teachers. This Law was, of course, further illustrated and enlarged by each new
generation of rabbis. By the time of Jesus, it constituted a recognized
supplementary code to the Law of Moses. It contained many wild and improbable
legendary histories, and foolish speculations upon the commandments of Moses.
This strange collection was formally written down in the second century AD under
the name of Mishna. More discussions of these "fables" were compounded into the
Gemara, and these works came in much later times to be referred to as the Talmud
-- which still exercises a great influence upon Jewish thought today.
As the elaborate system evolved, some great rabbinical
teachers became mystics of the most hair-splitting variety. They were much given
to the study of mysterious magical properties of numbers, complicated systems of
forces and counterforces, and transmigration of 'souls'. The seeds that were to
produce these fantastic pseudo-sciences and technical mystery cults had already
been sown among the Jewish elite of the first century.
ENDLESS GENEALOGIES: Refers to the endless study and
bickering about genealogies. "Endless" could be 'without end' -- that is
'without object, pointless' or, alternatively 'tiresome'. This word only appears
twice, the other time being in Tit 3:9. The questions of genealogies arose in
the Jewish insistence on proper ancestry of priests (Neh 7:63-65; Ezr 2:62).
Indeed, care in this regard was commanded, but only to illustrate the point --
that Christ as a priest was far superior to the Aaronic priests, who were forced
to prove their ancestry before they could even serve. The study of such matters
as genealogies should not be carried to an extreme, for very little can be
gained. But the study of genealogies came to be a great concern for some men --
rather than "godly edifying". These men put stress upon fleshly relationship,
rather than spiritual relationship. To this Christ said: "Who is my mother? and
who are my brethren? And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and
said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my
Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother" (Mat
CONTROVERSIES: The various Scriptures in which this
word "controversy" is used may serve to illustrate the types of questions
intended. In fact, each occurrence of the word is connected with the Jews:
questions of law (Acts 25:20, "of purifying" (John 3:25), of "myths" (here), of
"words" (1Ti 6:4), and "foolish and unlearned questions" (2Ti 2:33; Tit 3:9).
But foolish questions are not confined to Jews -- as we see among us: in endless
and laborious debate, controversy, agitations, and friction over
GOD'S WORK, WHICH IS BY FAITH: They should have been
concerned rather with "godly edifying" (AV) or "upbuilding" as of a house (or
edifice). We are the house of God (1Ti 3:15; Heb 3:6). We must strengthen and
build up ourselves and our brethren in godliness. Knowledge by itself puffeth
up, but love "edifies" (1Co 8:1 -- the same word). The contrast is that of a
bubble to a rock -- similar in size and shape, but one hollow and the other
Many questions which are very difficult if not impossible to
answer, arise among believers. They often lead the simple believers into an
inescapable labyrinth! And most of the questions give no practical benefit even
if they are answered correctly. In this category we must place the "myths" and
"genealogies" of this verse. Robert Roberts lists other such Bible questions as
these, which are profitless to discuss at any great length: the fates of Enoch
and Elijah, the exact meaning of remote types of the law, the quality of the
wine and bread at the Memorial supper, the relation of God's foreknowledge to
man's free agency, and so forth.
In our day we could add to this list: the exact time that
Christ became a high priest, and minor details of procedure at our meetings, for
example. Any experienced brother or sister can compile his or her own list.
We come together as a group to study God's Word and to grow
thereby, into the perfect man in Christ Jesus. Doubtful questions do not
contribute to this end. Neither does the forcing of our private views upon
others under the guise of commandments. Neither does the putting forward of
minor points as being of great doctrinal importance. All these things fall under
the category of casting stumbling blocks before our brethren.
Therefore, when we meet together in formal classes (or at any
time), we must study the Bible in a broad and balanced way, to gain practical
lessons, to strengthen ourselves and exhort others in the most holy words of
Truth. Paul tells us what is the true benefit of Bible study: "All Scripture is
given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for
correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be
perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works" (2Ti 3:16,17).
"There are 'questions' whose agitation is hurtful, because
they are doubtful in themselves and unimportant in their bearings when solved,
while the agitation of them interferes with the spiritual result called 'godly
edifying'. The attainment and preservation of 'godly edifying' is the great
object of the Truth, and will be the cue of every true brother's policy. What is
this? It is building up in godliness -- a strengthening of the mind in the
things pertaining to God. What are these? The hope He has given us, the
obedience He requires of us in the many things commanded; the faith He would
have us repose in Him; the love He seeks at our hands towards Himself and our
'neighbors'; and the intercourse He desires us to hold with Him in prayer.
These, of course, are founded on knowledge of who He is, what He has promised,
and what He has done and is and the commandments He has given by His servants
the prophets and the apostles, and of His Son Jesus Christ... The crowning
glories of the truth shine with the brilliance of the midday sun; and it
indicates a strange obfuscation of mind when men neglect its noonday brightness,
to burrow in the caverns of doubtful questions with the dark lanterns of
speculation. It looks like a case of loving darkness rather than light" (SC
"Our days are few, and are far better spent in doing good,
than in disputing over matters which are, at best, of minor importance. The old
schoolmen did a world of mischief by their incessant discussion of subjects of
no practical importance; and our churches suffer much from petty wars over
abstruse points and unimportant questions. After everything has been said that
can be said, neither party is any the wiser, and therefore the discussion no
more promotes knowledge than love, and it is foolish to sow in so barren a
field. Questions upon points wherein Scripture is silent; upon mysteries which
belong to God alone; upon prophecies of doubtful interpretation; and upon mere
modes of observing human ceremonials, are all foolish, and wise men avoid them.
Our business is neither to ask nor answer foolish questions, but to avoid them
altogether; and if we observe the apostle's precept (Tit 3:8) to be careful to
maintain good works, we shall find ourselves far too much occupied with
profitable business to take much interest in unworthy, contentious, and needless
GOAL: The myths and genealogies of v 4 have no purpose
nor end; but the "commandment" (same as "charge" in v 3) has both.
Knowledge is the basis of conduct. The purpose of God's Word
is to develop us -- personally and individually -- in these characteristics of v
5. And the "end" or conclusion is eternal life. To get sidetracked or, as Paul
says in v 6, to "swerve" from this is "vain jangling" -- noise and effort
LOVE: "Agape" is translated love in the RV and other
modem versions. This is a self-sacrificing love, developed only through God's
love for us. "We love him because he first loved us." This love for God grows
into a love for all men -- even our enemies. It is wonderfully explained in 1Co
13 -- "The greatest of all these things is love (agape)".
The word "agape" finds its profoundest expression in the NT;
the pagan Greek writers could have had no conception of true spiritual "agape".
The Spirit created the word and gave it the deepest and most beautiful meaning
of any word -- the personal relation between God and man, through Jesus
PURE HEART: Our minds and hearts, like our bodies, are
"earthen vessels" in God's sight, polluted and evil. Only God's Word can give us
a pure heart; only His "treasure" can make our earthen vessels of any value to
Him (2Co 4:6,7). The word "katharos" (pure, or clean) originally simply meant
the opposite of soiled or dirty. Later, however, it came to have some rather
more interesting meanings, scripturally speaking: It was used of grain that had
been winnowed from the chaff, of an army cleansed of all cowardly and
undisciplined soldiers, and of any substance free of corruption or pollution.
A pure heart is guileless, open, sincere, full of light and
truth, free from remorse and misgivings. It is serene, confident, innocent,
heedless to the scorn of others. All this arises from love, manifested in an
earnest and prayerful reading of, and joyful obedience to God's Word (Mat 5:8).
This "pure heart" gives us "peace" in a world without peace
(cf notes, v 2). And it promises peace in the world to come: "Blessed are the
pure in heart, for they shall see God" (Mat 5:8). "Who shall ascend into the
hill of the Lord? and who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean
hands, and a pure heart..." (Psa 24:3,4). "The wisdom that is from above is
first pure, then peaceable..." (James 3:17).
GOOD CONSCIENCE: An assurance of justification;
confidence through the Truth believed and obeyed. Paul tells Felix of a
conscience void of offence toward God or man (Acts 24:16; cp Phi 1:9,10). A good
conscience must be regulated by knowledge. We must know we are right in the way
of life. By a good conscience we do the right things even in very small,
insignificant matters -- which God alone will ever notice. This serves to build
up our true character (1Pe 3:16). By way of contrast Paul speaks of a defiled
and unbelieving conscience in Tit 1:15.
SINCERE FAITH: Faith that is real, sincere, genuine,
actual. It comes from a Greek word "anupokrito", which means without hypocrisy.
Used Rom 12:9; 2Co 6:6; 1Ti 1:5; 2Ti 1:5; Jam 3:17; 1Pe 1:22. It is a trust
(confidence, conviction) in God for all well-being, and not seeking any
treasures in this life of uncertainty. Each day make decisions, not by fleshly
criteria, but according to an unshakeable faith in God's care. "The just shall
live by faith" (Hab. 2:4; Rom 1:17; Gal 3:11; Heb 10:38).
SOME HAVE WANDERED AWAY: The sw occurs in 1Ti 6:21; 2Ti
2:18. Gr "ektrepo' means to twist away or aside, and is used in relation to
creating difficulties for the lame in Heb 12:13 -- a painful wrenching. In Tit
1:5 Paul tells Titus to "set in order the things that are wanting". The word
here is "epidiorthroo", which is the opposite of "ektrepo" and means to reset a
limb after a dislocation or fracture.
MEANINGLESS TALK: "Vain jangling" (AV) literally means
'empty talking'. Idle, senseless, profitless. Similarly, Paul uses the words
"vain" (Tit 3:9) and "vain talkers" (Tit 1:10). These are "without love" -- as
the sounding brass and tinkling cymbal (1Co 13:1). Such are some of the
"janglings" that may pass for exhortation and discourse amongst us -- if we lose
sight of the purpose of Bible study.
The main idea is of a so-called 'religious' life which
produces no good works. These men could talk glibly for hours about the things
of God, but their talk was worse than useless in bringing them one step closer
to true godliness. All knowledge that is not ultimately profitable for
developing character is vain. The teacher who provides his students no more than
pleasant intellectual exercises is teaching for naught.
THEY WANT TO BE TEACHERS OF THE LAW: They desire to be
teachers, that is they are ambitious for, and they seek the office and
prominence as such. Perhaps at first these misguided men taught the types and
lessons of the law. But the learning of these things came to be an end in
itself, and a source of pride in achievement, and a self-glorification
reminiscent of the rabbis, "the doctors of the law" (Luke 5:17; Acts 5:34), who
walked about pompously in their long robes of authority. There is an important
lesson here for self-examination. The flesh likes the limelight and is
self-deceptive as to motives.
Such attention to detail without any practical value led at
last to a reversion to the form and bondage of the Law, and a delight in myths
and genealogies. This opened the way for the infiltration of more Judaizers,
which in turn laid the basis of the Catholic apostasy (1Ti 4:1-5). The lessons
for us are to avoid the spirit of formalism, to guard against mere lip-service,
and to incite one another always to active love and holiness.
THEY DO NOT KNOW WHAT THEY ARE TALKING ABOUT OR WHAT THEY
SO CONFIDENTLY AFFIRM: In other words they do not have an understanding
first of all what they speak outright nor the underlying principles of God which
their words violate. It is often the case that those who know the least or who
support a questionable position speak the loudest and longest, with more
arrogance than true spiritual confidence.
WE KNOW THAT THE LAW IS GOOD IF ONE USES IT PROPERLY:
This is an echo of Rom 7:12,16: "The law is holy, and just, and good." That is,
the law is good, if a man use it according to the gospel" (see v 11; vv 9,10 are
parenthetical). When we study the law we must remember never to give it first
place -- but always to give precedence to the gospel. We must remember to study
the law with a view to practical, personal holiness -- not supposition and
controversy, not as a cold, dead 'student' but as a living and loving disciple.
If we study the law, giving heed first to the gospel, we will glean the
following things from the law: the lessons of holiness and purity which the
rituals teach; the lessons of man's innate uncleanness; the defiling properties
of sin; and aspects of the sacrifice of Christ -- portrayed in shadow. Also the
love, and beauty, and wisdom of God and His care for man.
At the very foundation of the law was the animating principle
of all God's dealings with man -- love. Love was the basis of the law: God's
love in redemption, our love manifested in obedience and the love of one
another. Any one who can study the law, and yet remain in the dark concerning
this "weighty matter" is indeed in gross darkness.
The principle of love was encapsulated in the law. The flesh
was inevitably condemned by the law. Man was basically wicked and prone to sin.
And just as man was firmly and inextricably set in his course of sin, so the law
was set in its policy of punishment. Man who lived by the law was trying to move
a mountain by attacking it head-on. His plight was hopeless. The law was
uncompromising legislation which promised death for the least offense. If man
only took the law to be judicial enactments, applicable without reference to
God's love, he would of necessity neglect the weightier matters of mercy and
truth. This was the course pursued by the scribes (doctors of the law) and
Pharisaic priests. In an effort to handle every eventuality they legislated even
heavier burdens and more grievous to be borne. Thus Israel as a nation pursued
the "law of righteousness", but it could never attain perfection through the Law
of Moses (Rom 9:31; Heb 7:19) -- because of its rigidity and their own
Christ discounted a mere strict observance of ritual without
love. He astonished the Pharisees by his new and divine interpretation of the
law. He resurrected the greatest commandment -- the central command, the meaning
of it all -- long buried under rabbinical speculations, and presented it afresh
to the wondering eyes of the people: "Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the
Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou
shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law
and the prophets" (Mat 22:37-40). "For he taught them as one having authority
and not as the scribes" (Mat 7:29).
To go even further, love was the complete fulfillment of the
law. What a marvelous vista Christ's statement had opened up!
God's law was seasoned throughout with love. Our love for one
another is bound up in our mutual love for God, and our mutual desire to please
Him by obedience and faith. Christ, by a perfect life and a sacrificial life,
gave us an example to follow: "Sacrifice and offering Thou didst not desire... I
delight to do Thy will, O my God: yea, Thy law is within my heart" (Psa 40:6-8;
Christ brought justification by obedience to the law, and by
trust that God would raise him up from the dead to sit at His right hand. From
there, as a mediator, Christ is the channel by which we obtain love and
forgiveness of sins apart from the law; through faith. The great mountain of the
law, which man could not move by his own strength, was moved instead by Christ's
faith: "Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not... ye shall say
unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and it shall
be done" (Mat 21:21). "He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he
will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of
the sea" (Mic 7:19).
The law of Moses was also important for moral behavior. These
codes of behavior are reproduced today in most civilized systems of government.
God's laws of morality without doubt were in existence from the beginning.
Whatever we may read of enlightened judicial systems, even prior to the time of
Moses (such as the code of Hammurabi), we know that it was due to the
unconscious effect of God's laws, to a great extent. And when the Mosaic law was
handed down and put into use, it became the medium for God's moral laws to reach
most of the world.
Also, the law prescribed other rules of behavior and activity
which, while not specifically commanded by the law of Christ, are nevertheless
generally good policy. The law was for the organization of the Body of Moses on
an orderly national basis, and its consideration may therefore help us today in
organizing the Body of Christ on an orderly ecclesial basis.
THAT LAW IS MADE NOT FOR THE RIGHTEOUS: "The law made
nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did" (Heb 7:19). Christ is
the better hope to supersede the law (v 2). The law could only convict a man of
his own sinfulness (Rom 7:9,10) and force him to turn to God. Man cannot stand
on his own righteousness or works. Man's weaknesses, his natural tendencies,
separate him from the law of God. Through the mediatorial office of Christ, our
efforts are accepted. "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself,
not imputing their trespasses unto them" (2Co 5:19). If man after this still
clung to the law, he was refusing to leave what Paul called "weak and beggarly
elements" and he was remaining in bondage to a system by which no man could be
justified (Gal 4:9; 2:16).
The law might be studied with some profit as the writings of
various Christadelphians have demonstrated. But when it is studied as an end in
itself, the man who does so is only returning to the bondage from which Christ
has freed him.
LAWBREAKERS: Those who are without law, contemptuous of
law, not recognizing its authority.
REBELS: On the other hand, signifies 'undisciplined,
unruly, refusing to submit, even when the power of the law is
UNGODLY: The irreverent. It is a word which describes
positive and active opposition to religion.
SINFUL: Active sinners, who 'miss the mark' (the actual
significance of the Greek).
UNHOLY: Impious, irreligious, godless. In the Greek, it
is a word which signifies the ultimate indecencies.
IRRELIGIOUS: The word "profane" (AV) refers to the
unclean or polluted, with an implication of ceremonial and legal defilement. (To
this point, the six characteristics above may be considered together. They all
describe the same type of person. Six is the number of the flesh. And these six
words well describe the mind of the flesh, completely contrary to the mind of
the Spirit in the first four of the Ten commandments (Exo 20), concerning the
one God, His worship alone, and the observance of His sabbath.)
THOSE WHO KILL THEIR FATHERS OR MOTHERS: Those who
disregard the fifth commandment: "Honor your father and mother."
MURDERERS: Those who disobey the sixth commandment, and
ADULTERERS AND PERVERTS: These two words comprehend the
breaking of the seventh commandment, against adultery; and goes beyond that --
to even more detestable practices -- all the abominations of 1Co 6:9. The RSV
has "immoral persons, Sodomites".
SLAVE TRADERS: "Men stealers" (AV): the worst possible
form of violation of the eighth commandment: "You shall not steal."
LIARS AND PERJURERS: Those who swear to lies, and break
the ninth commandment.
AND WHATEVER ELSE IS CONTRARY TO THE SOUND DOCTRINE: A
summary phrase which includes all not referred to previously. Sound (that is,
wholesome or healthful) doctrine is discussed throughout the letter (1Ti 6:3n).
The "unsound" teaching and agitation of crotchets and peculiar interpretations
point to people who are seeking undeserved and unearned eminence and authority.
This is an illustration of an offense against the tenth commandment, against
covetousness and envy.
Thus in these two verses, Paul has included all points of the
Ten Commandments. This is the type of man with which the law of Moses was
concerned, sinners in every respect. "And such were some of you, but ye are
washed... sanctified... justified... " (1Co 6:11). Christ is concerned with
saints, not "wretched sinners". Christ calls us to holiness and life, not the
inevitable sin and death of the Old Covenant.
THE GLORIOUS GOSPEL: The glorious gospel includes in
its first principles a call to repentance from the dead works of the law of
Moses (Heb 6:1).
This phrase might be best translated "the gospel of the glory"
-- in which case it refers to Christ, who is called the glory of God: "We beheld
his glory" (John 1:14). This reminds us of Paul in 2Co where he draws a striking
contrast between the law of Moses and the gospel of Christ: The law, which he
calls "the ministration of death", was glorious -- up to a point. But this glory
(which shone on Moses' face) was to be done away. And Paul recalls the incident
in which Moses covers his face, "that the children of Israel could not
steadfastly look to the end of that which is abolished". Or in other words, so
that they could not see the fading glory of the law (2Co 3). In the next
chapter, Paul shows the permanent and transcendent glory of Christ -- the
everlasting glory to take the place of the temporary glory of the law. This he
calls "the glorious gospel of Christ" (2Co 4:4). In comparison with the gospel
the law was darkness, but "God, who commanded the light to shine out of
darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the
glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" (2Co 4:6).
How Paul must have rejoiced when he was called from his
ignorance to the Truth, to a system whose glory fadeth not away!
WHICH IS ENTRUSTED TO ME: Certainly, a great deal of
the responsibility for the preaching of the gospel in the first century fell
upon Paul (cp 1Co 9:17; Gal 2:7). But we must think of ourselves in the same
manner. That which was entrusted to Paul and the apostles was passed on to the
likes of Timothy (1Ti 6:20) and, through the pages of Scripture, to us. God has
committed His greatest gift to us: the knowledge of "the gospel of his glory".
This is one of the "talents" of Christ's parables, which we have received. We
must be able to show an increase in that which God has committed to our trust
when Christ returns to assemble his servants and to judge them according to
their works (Luke 19:15,22,23).
Vv 12-16: 1:12-16: Paul's own calling away from the Law: The
previous v led Paul to a consideration of his own deliverance from the same
erroneous devotion to the Mosaic Law which had caused him to reject and oppose
Christ's followers. But in God's mercy, because he was sincere, he was shown the
right way, and was given mercy and forgiveness as an example of Christ's
goodness and kindness.
CHRIST JESUS: The regular title of the Lord in this
letter and in 2Ti takes this form rather than the more common "Jesus Christ".
This would be in keeping with Paul's stress of God as Savior (1Ti 1:1). God was
the first cause behind man's salvation; He was the One who anointed (the
significance of "Christ") this man Jesus as our priest and sacrifice and
WHO HAS GIVEN ME STRENGTH: The NEB has: "who hath made
me equal to the task". Paul himself was weak and he recognized this (2Co 3:5,6);
but God's strength could be revealed best through Paul's weakness (2Co 12:9,10).
What an inspiring theme! This is the way that God works, seeking as His chosen
vessels the poor and humble of the world, so that no flesh may glory in His
presence. Thus, like Paul, we may say: "I can do all things (through myself?
No...) through Christ who strengtheneth me" (Phi 4:13). Can we ever exhaust the
wonderful thoughts that arise from this matter?
HE CONSIDERED ME FAITHFUL: According to this, Christ
reckoned Paul to be faithful while Paul was yet a blasphemer and a persecutor of
the Christians. Certainly this shows that Christ can see the hearts of men and
that God has perfect foreknowledge.
Still, however, He gives to each of us a choice. If we choose
to align ourselves with God, then His grace will be "exceedingly abundant"
Examples of faithfulness in service: Samuel (1Sa 3:20); David
(1Sa 22:14); the temple overseers (2Ki 12:15); the workers (2Ch 34:12); Hananiah
(Neh 7:2); Abraham (Neh 9:8); the treasurers (Neh 13:13); Daniel (Dan 6:4);
Timothy (1Co 4:17); Epaphras (Col 1:7); Tychicus (Col 4:7); Onesimus (Col 4:9);
Paul (1Ti 1:12); Moses (Heb 3:2,5); Gaius (3Jo 1:5); Jesus Christ (Rev 1:5);
Antipas (Rev 2:13).
Cp Luk 16:10; 2Ch 31:12.
APPOINTING ME TO HIS SERVICE: By conversion on the road
to Damascus (Acts 9:15) and by a special calling (Acts 13:2). Cp notes on v 1,
and Paul's commission in 2Co 5:18,19. Paul was shown to be faithful by his
calling to be an apostle.
SERVICE: The word "ministry" (KJV) suggests an official
office. But the Gr "diakonia" is a service, not an office. [This word is in the
Greek related to "deacon" -- see notes on the introduction to 1Ti 3:8-13]. The
tendency in our ecclesias may be just the reverse -- as we move further from our
beginning, privilege and tradition consolidates hierarchies in our midst. The
antidote is a careful consideration of the requisites of arranging brethren in
BLASPHEMER: Being deluded by his great but wrongly
directed zeal, he had fought for a time against God's clear revelation through
Christ. He had been in the class which he describes in Rom 10:2: "For I bear
them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to
PERSECUTOR: The word appears only this once in the NT.
But the thought may be illustrated by the following: "And I persecuted this way
unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women" (Acts
22:4). "Beyond measure I persecuted the ecclesia of God, and wasted it" (Gal
1:13). "As for Saul, he made havock of the ecclesia, entering into every house,
and haling (carrying, hauling) men and women committed them to prison" (Acts
A VIOLENT MAN: One whose insolence and contempt of
others breaks forth into wanton and outrageous acts. This is expressed in Acts
9:1 -- "breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the
I WAS SHOWN MERCY BECAUSE I ACTED IN IGNORANCE AND
UNBELIEF: This illustrates the Divine principle of responsibility. We become
accountable to God's judgment by enlightenment in the living way. Those ignorant
of God's way will remain in the congregation of the dead (Pro 21:16; Psa 49:20;
Isa 26:14; Jer 51:39,57).
But ignorance is the only barrier to responsibility to God.
Knowledge brings accountability. "To him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it
not, to him it is sin" (James 4:17).
But if men come to a knowledge of the Truth (as Paul did),
they may obtain mercy for their past sins of ignorance -- just as Paul did) --
by obedience in baptism.
Saul did not recognize Jesus as the fulfillment of the Law.
His persecution of the saints was pursued in ignorance. No man felt the weight
of his own sin as did Paul in this recollection -- but all men can feel the
merciful removal of the weight of sin, as did Paul.
"Come unto me, all ye that are heavy laden, and I will give
GRACE: See v 2n. Paul can never write long without
bringing in the concept of grace. For him it was no mere abstract concept, but
an operative force dominating all thoughts and actions. By the grace of Christ,
and only by that grace, he was what he was.
ABUNDANTLY: A superlative word used only here in the
NT. Paul had been exceedingly sinful; therefore God's grace and mercy was
exceedingly abundant for him. Paul's case demonstrates the principle of Rom
5:20: "But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound".
All men as sinners are not ENTITLED to any mercy whatsoever,
apart from identification with Christ's sacrifice (Rom 3:8; 6:1). For in this
perfect gift of Christ we become objects of God's grace -- eternal
THE FAITH AND LOVE THAT ARE IN CHRIST JESUS: Paul
learned the true faith (belief) and a love for all men -- which he lacked while
he was zealous only for the law. Those who have experienced mercy can best show
it to others. Paul realized what his own condition had been before he had
learned the Truth: and he felt keenly his obligation to preach to others (Rom
1:14; 1Co 9:16).
See Lesson, Sayings of faith in Pastorals.
Paul's changing self-image: (1) an apostle (Gal 1:1; etc), (2)
least of the apostles (1Co 15:9), (3) less than the least of all the saints (Eph
3:8), (4) worst of sinners (1Ti 1:15). As Paul drew nearer to Christ, so his
CHRIST JESUS CAME INTO THE WORLD TO SAVE SINNERS: Paul
seems to be quoting his own words in Rom 5:8.
This phrase echoes John's gospel, but has of course nothing to
do with a pre-existent Jesus descending from heaven to assume the charade of an
earthly body. It is used rather in a symbolic sense: of Christ as the "light of
the world" arising upon, or coming to, the world ("kosmos") of Israel. See John
1:9 (in which the phrase "that cometh into the world" modifies "light"); John
3:19; 12:46. We understand by Scripture that this "coming" of Christ was at his
manifestation, at the age of 30, to the Jewish "world" (John 1:31). "He came to
his own, and his own received him not" (John 1:11). And afterward, through his
apostles, he also came to the Gentiles of the Roman world. (We certainly cannot
overlook the fact that Jesus preached much of the time in Galilee of the
Gentiles). In no way, therefore, does Paul's phrase under consideration here
support the doctrines of a pre-existent Christ or the Trinity.
TO SAVE SINNERS: Although it was not readily apparent
on the surface Christ came to save both Jew and Gentile. Paul so often shows
this in his writings (for example, Rom 15:8-12). Christ came to call sinners to
repentance (Mat 9:11-13; John 10:9) and Paul shows that all men (both Jew and
Gentile) have sinned and come far short of God's high calling (Rom 3:9,23).
We are reminded of Christ's abounding love for all men and his
concern that all might come to him and be saved by the incident of the
Syrophoenician woman. When Jesus departed from Jerusalem into the coasts of Tyre
and Sidon he was met by a Gentile woman who sought his mercy. At first we are
somewhat puzzled by Jesus' seemingly cold attitude to her plea: "He answered her
not a word" (Mat 15:23). And again, "I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of
the house of Israel" (v 24). But he wanted to bring to light what he already had
perceived -- that this woman truly had faith. And he wished to emphasize and
keep clear the essential principle that "Salvation is of the Jews" (John 4:22).
Despite the apparent rebuff she continued to beseech him and he answered, "It is
not meet to take the children's bread, and cast it to the dogs".
To this appraisal of the relative position of Jew and Gentile,
the Canaanite woman readily and humbly assented. And she only asked to eat the
crumbs which the children overlooked. At last Jesus opened his arms to her: "O
woman, great is thy faith" (Mat 15:24-28). And he restored a sinner, who needed
only to come to him in understanding and humility.
We can learn an important truth from this. There are no limits
to the mercy of God, if a sinner is repentant. We would have written Paul off as
one beyond redemption but God was able to save him. We would not have thought
Matthew the publican a worthy candidate for the Kingdom; nor the woman of
Samaria; nor countless others, yet the Lord chose them.
It is an easy human tendency to write people off. Indeed, we
can mentally reject whole sections of society -- not unlike what the Pharisees
did -- and avoid them in our preaching. But Paul preached to everybody.
There is an interesting progression in Paul's writings: (1)
First of all, in point of time, Paul spoke of himself as "the least of the
apostles" (1Co 15:9). (2) Later, he was "less than the least of all saints" (Eph
3:8). (3) Finally, he goes even further and says "I am [the] chief -- or
foremost sinner" (1Ti 1:15). (Notice that he says "I am" -- not "I was" -- the
"chief of sinners"!)
Plainly, in all this, Paul had in mind the part he played in
the persecution, and even the murders, of other believers. The account of the
death of Stephen, in Acts 7; 8, places Saul (as he was then called) in the role
of ringleader and facilitator -- those who stoned Stephen laid their garments at
his feet (Acts 7:58). Stephen wasn't the only one whose death was arranged by
Saul of Tarsus. Later, he describes specifically, in Acts 26:10, how when others
were martyred for their testimony to the cause of Christ, that he was there --
front and center -- casting his vote against them.
As the years passed, and he grew nearer and nearer to Christ,
so Paul's self-esteem declined. His remembrance of his persecuting of God's
saints was a constant reminder of his failures and shortcomings, and a lesson in
humility and trust in God, and an exhortation as well to go on to better things.
Paul did not rehearse these things in order to glory in his
past, but to glory in the hope of a future that would not be his -- except by
the grace of God. Even if he used the present tense when describing his sin,
Paul was not STILL the chief sinner, for his sins had been blotted out, and the
righteousness of God through Christ had been imputed to him -- but he was,
nevertheless, the foremost living example of God's boundless mercy.
It would be no exaggeration to say that, humanly speaking, the
rise of Christianity was mostly due to the work of two men. There was Jesus
Christ, of course, and he was the perfect man: the image and glory of the Father
in Heaven, the Lord of life, the Word of God made flesh, walking among men.
True, he was human; born of woman, he was tempted in all points like his
brethren -- he could feel the impulses to sin, and he had to struggle bitterly
to resist them. He learned obedience by the things which he suffered, and thus
was made perfect through those sufferings. He was not a "God" pretending to be a
"man", sinless though he was.
But even after acknowledging all this, we are still left
with... a perfect man, a sinless lamb, a pure and holy and undefiled Saviour.
And we should be -- and are! -- eternally grateful for such a
Redeemer, and Mediator, and High Priest, and King. And his example, of thought
and word and deed, shines like the brightest beacon in the dark, storm-tossed
sea of this world, guiding us over the waves to God's safe harbor.
But then there was the second man, to whom -- more than any
other except Jesus himself -- Christianity owes its existence. And that man was,
of course, Saul of Tarsus -- later Paul the apostle to the Gentiles.
What sort of man was chosen by God, to be second in
importance, in work, in honor, among the early Christians, and yes, even today?
Was he the closest to the image of the Lord Jesus Christ? Was
he the man nearest to perfection of character -- the man closest to his Saviour
in all his mental and spiritual abilities, and in his attainments? Well...
there's no disputing that he grew to be a "giant" of faith! But that's not the
point, or at least it's not MY point!
How shall I put this?
What he was, was a... murderer, a cold-blooded serial killer,
proud and stubborn and angry and cold and cunning. You can't "sugar-coat" it;
you can't ignore it; you can't deny it.
Why did God choose such a man to carry forward the banner of
His perfect and sinless Son? And even if such a grievous sinner could repent,
and be transformed by the love of God, and the blood of Christ, surely he ought
to be accepted into the "church" and then quietly take a back seat. Surely he
should be unobtrusive; and it wouldn't hurt for him to be abjectly apologetic,
living out his Christian life in silence, as the worst of sinners! Surely he
should NOT be taking a leading role in the spread of the gospel to all nations!
What kind of representative could HE be?
So what IS the point? I think it was just this: the first
exponent of Christianity was the Christ, or Messiah, himself. And he needed to
be -- it was absolutely essential that he be -- perfect, and spotless, and
righteous. But the second exponent of Christianity NEEDED to be -- at least to
outward appearance, and to his beginnings -- a very different man. He needed to
be at the other end of the spectrum; he needed to demonstrate, by his life, how
all-inclusive was this new religion: the religion of sinners, the religion of
the second chance! Never mind that, the religion of the one-hundredth chance...
the seventy times seventh chance! The far end of the continuum between perfect
righteousness and utter, absolute, foul sin: he didn't just kill; he plotted his
murders, and he enjoyed them, and he sought opportunity to kill again and again!
And he would never have stopped, until... he saw the Light!
Stop! You say. I don't want to hear it! We mustn't think of
the apostle Paul in such a way. But I say: Yes, we should. HE thought of HIMSELF
in that way!
And, through this hugely flawed man, Saul of Tarsus, God was
sending a message to all who will listen, and to us too: 'Don't ever think that
there is a sin too heinous for Me to forgive! My mercy is as deep and wide as
the sea, and it can swallow up a monstrous mountain of sins.' [We ought not to
forget that, in the words of Scripture, we may all be classed as "murderers",
for at least two reasons: (1) "Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer" (1Jo
3:15); and (2) "How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be
punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an
unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him?" (Heb 10:29).]
Christianity needed a man like Saul of Tarsus -- we need such
a man -- as a reminder that there is no such thing as a lost cause... that every
human being has infinite potential... that God's hand is not shortened, that it
is NEVER shortened, so that it cannot save... and that there is no pit so ugly,
no dunghill so foul, that it cannot contain a jewel for the crown of Almighty
There is one other aspect to this picture: It seems Paul the
apostle could never escape his past. In the eyes of some believers, his brothers
and sisters, he was still... Saul of Tarsus, persecutor and murderer. There must
have been times when he came face to face with the son, or the wife, or the
father, or the dear friend, of someone whom he had killed. Was all forgiven? Did
the light of God's truth overcome all the darkness, the bitterness, the hatred,
in the human hearts of Paul's brethren in Christ? I doubt it.
First of all, at the beginning, after his conversion and
baptism, it appears that he was not really welcome to the believers: some must
have felt he was a spy -- making a particularly brazen attempt to infiltrate the
ecclesias, so as to find evidence against other believers, and haul them off to
prison or death (cp Acts 9:21,26).
There may have been others, believers themselves, who spat or
cursed under their breath, or even openly, when they heard his name. There were
certainly those Jewish Christians who harassed him from place to place, and
sought to undermine all that he attempted to do. They wrote letters, and talked
about him in his absence -- questioning his honesty, his integrity, and his
character. They even mocked his speech and ridiculed his appearance and his
stature (Gal 4:13,14; 1Co 2:3,4; 2Co 7:2; 10:1,10; 11:6,9,30; 12:10,16-18; 1Th
2:3-6; 2Th 3:7-9; etc).
And, finally, there were those, in Jerusalem, who didn't seem
to mind in the least sending Paul into almost certain danger on his errand to
the temple (Acts 21:20-31) -- they may even have laughed to themselves, quietly
and secretly, when he was arrested: 'Now that "son of Belial" has finally gotten
what was coming to him... for what he did to Uncle Simeon and Aunt Sarah.'
It makes sense, doesn't it, that when the Lord called Saul, he
told his messenger Ananias: "This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name
before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. I will show
him how much he must... SUFFER... for my name" (Acts 9:15,16). And he did!
But even in these experiences, Paul is our example: not just
of the great mountain of sin that can be buried in the ocean of God's mercy, but
of the burden of ongoing guilt, and the atmosphere of unrelenting hatred, which
a "chosen vessel" must experience, whilst never losing his grip on the love of
God. Paul KNEW there were men and women, his brothers and sisters in Christ, who
hated him -- possibly wished him dead, certainly wished he might suffer greatly
for what he had done to their loved ones. Yet for them, his prayer was surely
(as his Lord's had been): "Father, forgive them..." (Luke 23:34; cp 2Ti 4:16;
How could it be any other way? God had forgiven HIM, the
"chief of sinners". And God could forgive them too, over and over and over
The man who came at last to that place outside Rome -- where
(we are told) he bowed his head to the executioner's ax -- had traveled a long
and difficult road. Tears had been shed that cannot be numbered. He had hated
and killed, and others had hated -- and some had finally killed -- him!
But he knew that nothing could separate him from the love of
God which was in Christ Jesus his Lord. And he knew, too, that only the
executioner's ax stood between him and reunion with those whom he had killed,
and that -- beneath the Judgment Seat of Christ -- they would meet together.
In our mind's eye we see them there... Paul and Stephen, and a
host of other brothers and sisters, whose names we don't know now, embracing one
another in the Kingdom of God -- murderer and murdered alike, hater and hated
side by side, in one another's arms. All together rejoicing in the cleansing
fountain that pours forth and engulfs them all, washing away every sin.
THE WORST: "Protos" = the foremost. First in order of
time or importance. Paul was both: first great persecutor of church (1Co 15:9),
and first to repent -- thus a "pattern" (v 16). Ct Act 16:37; 2Co 11:21-30;
EXAMPLE: Or "pattern" (KJV). This form of the word
("hupotuposis") occurs only here and in 2Ti 1:13. It signifies an "example to
follow", an outline, sketch, or form to be filled in, "the first draft or sketch
to serve as an outline for all future times". Other Jews who "rested in the law"
might note the example of Paul, who was once zealous for the law, but was shown
a better way and embraced it joyfully. And they might be compelled also to come
"outside the camp" to Christ (Heb 13:13). Paul was only the first of many
apparently hopeless cases who would find rehabilitation in Christ. In the great
change he underwent, he was a model to demonstrate God's work with man (Acts
20:35; 1Co 11:1).
V 17: This is one of the two interjections of praise to
God in this letter. The other, longer than this one, is in 1Ti 6:15,16. For
other examples of these prayerful outbursts, see Gal 1:5; Rom 11:36; 16:27; Phi
4:20; Eph 3:21.
KING ETERNAL: God is the ruler over every era of the
world's history, so He is the King eternal or the "King of ages" (RSV), or "the
ages". "The Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men" (Dan 4:17, 25). This also
refers to His timelessness.
IMMORTAL: "Incorruptible" (AV). That is, enduring
forever, or incapable of corruption. "The immortal God" (Rom 1:23).
INVISIBLE: Sig "unseen" -- cp Col 1:15 and Heb 11:27.
"He is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; who
only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto:
whom no man hath seen, nor can see' (1Ti 6:15)... The Incorruptible Spirit
Dwelling in Light is the Scriptural revelation of the indefinable essence of the
self-existent Eternal One, who is from everlasting to everlasting, God. What His
essence consists in, He has not revealed: He has made known to us His name, or
character which is enough for man to know; but to say that, because He is a
spirit, He is therefore 'immaterial', is to speak errant nonsense: for
immateriality is nothingness; a quality, if we may so speak, alien to the
universe of God".
" 'No man,' says Jesus, 'hath seen God at any time'; but Adam,
Abraham, Jacob and Moses saw the Elohim and their Lord; therefore Elohim does
not necessarily mean the Everlasting Father Himself. Elohim is a name bestowed
upon angels" (Elp 182,183).
THE ONLY GOD: The word "wise" in the phrase "only wise
God" (as in KJV) is omitted by most texts. (It was apparently 'borrowed' by some
copyists from Rom 16:27). God is one -- God is alone in His existence as the
Uncreated One -- "there is none beside Him".
AMEN: That is, 'so be it' or 'faithful'. Paul
thoughtfully, reverently, joyously agrees to this obvious fact of God's supreme
It may be asked, why does Paul pause in this particular place
to interject words of praise to the supremely mighty and glorious God? Why not
The answer seems to be found in a comparison of other similar
phrases of Paul (as 1 Ti 6:15,16; Rom 8:33-39; 11:33-36). In these places Paul's
consideration of God's merciful gift of salvation at last sweeps him off his
feet. No longer is it sufficient to reason calmly and confidently -- in a
point-by-point manner. All that men can do at such times is to bow abjectly
before the spectacle of such power and love united in a single Being. "O the
depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God... For of Him, and
through Him, and to Him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen" (Rom
11:33,36). If we are not 'carried away' by a consideration of these things, we
do not truly possess the Truth. "At midnight I will rise to give thanks to
Thee..." "Did not our hearts burn within us?"
Vv 18-20: Paul concludes 1Ti 1 by emphasizing Timothy's
responsibility to fight a good fight and to defend the true Faith, even going so
far as to counsel the ecclesia to separate from anyone teaching
INSTRUCTION: "Parangellia": see 1Ti 1:3n. The word
"charge" (AV) is the same word as "commandment" of v 5 and very similar to
"charge" of v 3. The word has a ring of military sternness and severity -- an
order. Paul has given Timothy the one gospel (v 11), and the command that no
other be taught (v 3).
IN KEEPING WITH THE PROPHECIES ONCE MADE ABOUT YOU: The
word of God's Spirit, coming to Paul by special revelation (cp 1Ti 4:14; 2Ti
1:6). In like manner Paul himself had been once designated by the Holy Spirit
This may also refer to the teachings that Paul had earlier
given to Timothy -- teachings that would lead Timothy to the Kingdom, if
FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT: Better, as the AV: "war a good
warfare". It was not a single battle, but a ceaseless and lifelong campaign
against oneself (1Ti 6:11-14; 2Ti 4:7), "Abstain from fleshly lusts, which war
against the soul" (1Pe 2:11). Paul says elsewhere that there is a constant
battle between the Spirit and the law of sin which dwells in our members (Rom
6:13; 7:18,19). This struggle against our own lusts is the true 'holy war'.
This warfare is also a constant struggle against the teaching
of wrong doctrine, a "contending earnestly for the Faith" (Jude 1:3). The
essential armaments of a soldier of God are found in Eph 6:11-17. Note that
nearly all of these are defensive tools -- to defend against error and sin and
the flesh. It is not just the war against theological error -- not just against
the words of error. Erroneous teaching generally leads to erroneous practice. We
are more vulnerable to a false manner of living than we are susceptible to
accepting false principles. "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war
after the flesh; (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal; but mighty
through God to the pulling down of strongholds); casting down imaginations, and
every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God" (2Co
HOLDING ON TO FAITH AND A GOOD CONSCIENCE: A similar
idea to that of "holding fast" in 2Ti 1:13. See v 5, where these attributes of
faith and conscience are explained. Paul fought the good fight of faith (1Ti
REJECTED: A very strong word: to cast away with extreme
SHIPWRECKED: Paul himself knew the utter devastation of
a literal shipwreck (2Co 11:25; Acts 27:41). In Heb 6:18, 19 Paul speaks of the
"strong consolation" of our hope, "which... we have as an anchor". The faith and
good conscience of the believer act as an anchor for his ship, the "ship" of his
life. If he casts these things away, he has lost the mainstay which holds him
fast to the Truth (Heb 2:1). He will then be tossed about by every disruptive
"wind" of false doctrine (Eph 4:14; Jude 1:12), and what faith he has left will
at last be shattered on the hidden rocks of the "enemy".
HYMENAEUS: The name of a pagan and his actions indicate
that he did not leave his origins far enough behind. Although a nominal
Christian, this man was a continuing enemy of Paul and the gospel, teaching that
the resurrection was past already. Paul refers to him in 2Ti 2:17,18: "His word
doth eat as a canker (or gangrene)." His words enter into the sound and healthy
body of the Truth (1Ti 6:3), and grow and expand, corrupting everything they
ALEXANDER: Sig a 'defender of men'. Alexander was a
defender of men and their 'rights' to teach whatsoever error they chose, instead
of being a de-fender of God and the purity of His Truth. Perhaps he defended
man's right to "give in and be men". 'After all', he might have said, 'there is
only one Christ'. We cannot all be like him. God will overlook our nature; after
all. HE made us. HE knows what we're like'. Perhaps, he is "Alexander the
coppersmith" -- who "did me (Paul) much evil" (2Ti 4:14). Perhaps also, the
Alexander mentioned in Acts 19:33. But we cannot be certain.
HANDED OVER TO SATAN: Paul (acting in conjunction with
the ecclesia directly involved) has placed the two men out of "fellowship",
confirming their previous action in putting away the true faith (v 19). Cp Mat
18:17: "Let him be unto thee as an heathen man" (or a Gentile).
This delivery to Satan ["Satan" is the "adversary"] is
explained by a comparison of vv in 1Co 5: "To deliver such an one to Satan" (v 5
there) is explained in v 7, "Purge out the old leaven; and v 11, "I have written
unto you not to keep company"; and v 13, "Put away from among yourselves that
Hymenaeus and Alexander became in Paul's eyes as "heathen".
They were delivered back to the pagans of the Roman Empire, called collectively
(because of their beliefs) "Satan", or the "adversary" of Paul and the true
Christians (1Pe 5:8; cp Rev 2:9.13,24).
Something else may be implied here. A person who by wrongdoing
(or more precisely, wrong teaching) puts himself out of fellowship with the
Father (as did Hymenaeus and Alexander) has removed himself from Divine care. No
longer does the overruling hand of Providence bear him up. No longer does his
guardian angel protect him from danger. No longer do all things work together
for his benefit. Such a person "delivered to Satan" (if he remains in that
state) has lost not only eternal life, but also present comfort and well-being.
He is travelling the natural unguided course of the flesh with its purposeless
sorrows and ills.
An alternative: possibly this signifies: to turn over to civil
authorities (cp usage in 1Co 5:5; 1Ti 1:20). Or, this second action may be
included in the first.
TO BE TAUGHT NOT TO BLASPHEME: In the hope they will be
moved to realize their loss. The word for "learn" comes from the word
"discipline". Blasphemy here may refer to teaching false doctrines -- or
"science" or "fables" -- subversive of the "godly edifying" (v 4). This reminds
us of the "profane and vain babblings" of Hymenaeus and Philetus (2Ti 2:16,17),
words which violate principles of the Truth, while pleasing the ear of vanity.
To blaspheme is to revile, to speak contemptuously of God and God's things.
Hymenaeus had begun to speak falsely concerning the resurrection -- the hope of
the true believer. Idolatry and its immoral practices may also have been
Such people will be punished, if not directly in this time,
yet in a time when even sorer judgement comes. This time of judicial punishment
will be for the unjust; that is the blasphemers and corrupters of the Truth.
Perhaps by withdrawal the individual may be made to realize the seriousness of
his position -- the desire and need for fellowship with God, Christ, and the
brethren. Perhaps he will then seek to return to fellowship with a humble
spirit, eager to mend his ways and to do God's will.
Blasphemy may be hypocrisy -- as indicated in Rev 2:9: "I know
the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are of the
synagogue of Satan".
Any teaching or act of a believer which is contrary to a
faithful walk in the Truth is 'hypocrisy' and, by this definition, blasphemy as
well. Blasphemy is the denial of God or the denial of His power. Paul speaks of
this blasphemy in a warning of apostasy in the last days, which may apply to the
ecclesia. "Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof, from such
turn away... Ever learning and never able to come to a knowledge of the truth"
We may seem to acknowledge God's power by an outward adherence
to 'the Truth' so-called, but we deny His power whenever we knowingly and
continuously walk contrary to His commands. We deny His power to judge and
punish wrong-doers. And we deny His living and ever-present power to save,
uplift, and guide us into the right ways.