1Timothy 1 - Outline of 1Timothy (Book Notes menu page)

This is the first of three short letters, known as "the Pastoral Epistles," because Paul wrote them to encourage and instruct two young pastors, Timothy and Titus. This first letter to Timothy, and the letter to Titus, were probably written at the same time (c. 65 AD), late in Paul's ministry, and after his release from his first imprisonment in Rome (c. 64 AD). These two epistles have many similarities, and share one theme, which is: the necessity of establishing proper order and leadership in the local church. They differ slightly in emphasis, as First Timothy stresses the importance of teaching sound doctrine, while Titus emphasizes the importance of living in accordance with sound doctrine.

The second letter to Timothy, was written a short time later (c. 66 - 67 AD). Internal evidence, in that letter, indicates that Paul was again in prison, and was anticipating his imminent execution. The biblical narration of Paul's life ends with him under house arrest in Rome (Acts 28:16-31). However, according to early Christian tradition, following his release from that imprisonment, he traveled as far west as Spain, and then revisited some of the churches which he had established in Asia Minor, Macedonia and Achaia, before again being arrested and returned to Rome. This second Roman imprisonment, ended when he was beheaded, under Nero. Understandably, the tone of Second Timothy (Paul's last letter) is very tender, as the apostle urges his dear son in the faith to follow in his footsteps and remain faithful to the Lord, against every kind of opposition. While the care of the local church is also in view in that epistle, the focus is on the personal preparation of a man to be fit for the service of God.

     As we come now to consider 1Timothy, we will quickly see Paul's concern that the local church must be governed according to sound teaching.
1. Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ
by the commandment of God our Saviour,
and Lord Jesus Christ, [which is] our hope;
2 Unto Timothy, [my] own son in the faith:
Grace, mercy, [and] peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.
Paul, an apostle...
Although this letter, addressed to a dearly loved friend, is very personal, Paul begins with a reminder that his words are vested with the authority of the One who sent him. His appointment, as an apostle {one sent with a message}, was by the commandment of God (Gal 1:1).
...of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope.
Note the inseparable relationship between 'God' and 'Jesus Christ.' The Lord Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners (v.15). But He came from the heart of the Father (Joh 3:16). Actually, all three members of the Godhead are intimately involved in the work of salvation. Therefore, it is entirely appropriate to refer to God as 'our Saviour.' Likewise, because He is the only Saviour, it must be recognized that Jesus Christ is God who was manifest in the flesh (Isa 43:3,11-12; Luke 1:47; 2:11; 1Tim 4:10; 2Tim 1:8-10). As God, Jesus Christ must also be recognized as 'Lord' and as the 'hope' of those who trust in Him (Titus 2:13; 1Pet 1:3-8,18-21).
unto Timothy, my own son in the faith...
Apparently, Timothy had come to faith in Christ, during Paul's first visit to Derbe and Lystra (Acts 14:6-23). By the time Paul returned to these towns on his second missionary journey, it was evident that Timothy was a sincere follower of Christ. Seeing his potential for ministry, Paul took him along on the journey to disciple him further (Acts 16:1-3). Perhaps more than any of Paul's other students, Timothy shared the apostle's unwavering commitment to the Lord's work (Php 2:19-23).
Grace, mercy and peace...
In each of the Pastoral Epistles, Paul uses this three part greeting. This differs from the two part 'Grace and Peace...' which characterizes all of his other epistles (with the possible exception of Hebrews, which includes no greeting).
     It is the Grace of God that brings salvation to all believers (Titus 2:11), and through that salvation all believers have entered into Peace with God (Rom 5:1), and have access to the Peace of God (Php 4:6,7). Along with all believers, Timothy (and Titus) were beneficiaries of Grace and Peace.
     But Paul knew, by hard experience, the difficult path upon which these young pastors were starting. They would experience severe trials, including persecution from unbelievers and opposition from professed brothers. They would need 'mercy' {GK=eleos, kindness toward, and help for, those who are miserable and afflicted}. They would find it, in drawing near to the heavenly Father and to the Lord Jesus Christ, who more than any other man, understands the sorrows endured in serving God (Heb 12:1-3).
3 As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia,
that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine,
4 Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies,
which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith:
[so do].
No doubt, Timothy would have continued working alongside his mentor,
but Paul 'besought' {GK=parakaleo, to call to one's side, to intreat} him to tend to the work in Ephesus, as he went to care for churches in Macedonia. Error was creeping in to all the churches. Paul could not be everywhere. So, he pled with Timothy to care for the church in Ephesus.
...charge some that they teach no other doctrine.
Although 'some' are not named here, we can get a sense of their character and false teachings, by tracing the word 'some' through this letter (see 1Tim 1:6,7; 1:19,20 (where two false teachers are named); 4:1; 5:15; 6:10).
     The spirit of antichrist was already active in the early church, sowing the seeds of apostasy, and turning believers away from 'the faith once delivered to the saints' (Jude 1:3,4). Although there is but one Gospel of Salvation, some proclaim 'other gospels' which deny the essence of Christ's completed work in our behalf, and thereby consign their adherents to condemnation (Gal 1:6-9). There is no 'good news' in a false 'gospel' which offers false hope to the sinner, but cannot save him from sin and eternal death.
...neither give heed to fables {GK=muthos, myths, fiction}...
This may be a reference to the influence of Philo of Alexandria (20BC - 40AD), a Jewish philosopher who allegorized Jewish scripture to harmonize it with Greek philosophy. Some of the early church writers incorporated his ideas, thereby laying the groundwork for today's liberal theology, which disregards the historicity of biblical accounts (eg., the Creation, the Fall, the Flood... the Resurrection... etc.) regarding them, not as facts, but as myths meant to convey some moral message.
...and endless genealogies...
Another error that infected the early church was Gnosticism. The gnostics also viewed scripture in a non-literal sense, which they claimed could only be understood by those who possessed superior knowledge. (The word 'gnostic' comes from a GK word for knowledge.) According to their supposed superior understanding, the spiritual realm was high and pure, while the physical realm was base and hopelessly corrupt. Therefore, they denied the incarnation (that Jesus was God in human flesh).
     The phrase 'endless genealogies' may refer to the gnostic teaching that the spiritual realm consisted of some distant theistic center, from which emanated an innumerable stream of created spiritual beings. They taught that Jesus was one of these many spiritual emanations, which might be of some benefit to those men who understood them. Of course, their baseless speculative teachings, left their hearers with many unanswerable questions. (Paul provides direct answers to this false teaching in 1Tim 2:5 and 1Tim 3:16.)
     It is also possible that 'endless genealogies' may refer to the false teaching that the church is a continuation of Judaism (rather than a new dispensation of God's Grace, Eph 3:1-f), and therefore Christians must pay careful attention to our Jewish roots. The early church was troubled with Judaizers, who undermined the Gospel of the Grace of God, by teaching that it was necessary to keep the Law. Paul addressed this error thoroughly in his letter to the Galatians, and briefly in the next several verses.
5. Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart,
and [of] a good conscience, and [of] faith unfeigned:
6 From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling;
7 Desiring to be teachers of the law;
understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm.
...the end of the commandment is charity {love}...
The OT Law was not an end in itself. Rather, for those who have trusted in Christ, the Law has come to its end or completion, because Christ has fulfilled the Law in our behalf (Rom 10:4). The Spirit of God, dwelling within the believer, produces fruit according to His nature (1Joh 4:9-13). Thus, the believer is now enabled to live in accord with the intent of the Law (Rom 13:8-10; Gal 5:14).
The kind of Love that satisfies the Law is not found in the natural man. Rather, love comes...
...out of a pure heart... a good conscience... and faith unfeigned...-
This Love begins with faith in Christ, by whose sacrifice (far superior to OT animal sacrifices) the sinner's conscience is purged (Heb 9:9,14; 10:22), and from whom the born-again believer receives a new heart (1Joh 3:9,10).
from which some... swerved... turned aside...-
There were (and are) those who, while professing to be Christians, have turned away from unfeigned {ie., sincere} faith in the Gospel of Christ, which is 'the power of God unto salvation' for all who believe (Rom 1:16). Their teachings are nothing but "empty talk" {vain jangling}.
desiring to be teachers of the law, understanding neither what they say... nor... affirm...
Out of self-determination, they advance themselves as 'masters' or 'champions' of the OT Law. They teach with great confidence, strongly affirming their theories. Yet, they do not understand the purpose of the Law.
8 But we know that the law [is] good, if a man use it lawfully;
9 Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man,
but for the lawless and disobedient,
for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane,
for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,
10 For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind,
for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons,
and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine;
11 According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.
...the law is good... the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless...
The Law provides a standard of righteousness, unto which no man can attain. Under the Law, no man is declared righteous, rather, all are condemned as guilty (Rom 3:19,20). The Law is good, in that it reveals the corruption of the sinner, enabling him to see his need of the Savior (Rom 7:12-14). The Law has done its work, when a sinner turns to Christ in faith, and the righteousness of God is imputed to his account (Gal 3:6,21-27).
...for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers... for whoremongers... (v.9,10)
These examples, of ungodliness, illustrate the depravity of the natural man. The Law is also good, in that it restrains such lawlessness for the good of society, when administered by government (Rom 13:1-4).
      Acknowledging that this list of harmful actions is incomplete, Paul adds 'and any other thing that is contrary to sound {ie., healthy, wholesome} doctrine.' There is only one doctrine that can make sinful men whole.
...according to {by means of} the glorious gospel of the blessed God...
'The glorious gospel' can also be rendered 'the gospel of the glory...'
Through faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, sinful men are brought out of the darkness of our natural state and prepared to enter the glorious presence of God (2Cor 4:3-6). Paul was filled with gratitude to Christ, who delivered him from the misery of his sinful condition (Rom 7:24,25), and who then entrusted Paul with the message of salvation, so that others might believe (2Cor 5:14-21).
     In the following verses, Paul presents his personal testimony of being freed from the Law, through the Grace of God.
12. And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord,
who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful,
putting me into the ministry;
13 Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious:
but I obtained mercy, because I did [it] ignorantly in unbelief.
14 And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant
with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.
...me... who was before a blasphemer... persecutor... injurious {GK=hubristes, insolent, filled with shameful pride}...-
As a Pharisee, who considered himself blameless according to the Law, Paul had been moved with zealous hatred for those who believed in Jesus Christ (Php 3:6). He had persecuted believers, even to the point of death. The account of his conversion is recorded in Acts ch. 9. Paul recounted his testimony on several occasions, including in Jerusalem before an angry audience of his Jewish countrymen (Acts ch. 22) and before King Agrippa (Acts ch. 26, see especially 26:8-18):
...but I obtained mercy... and the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant...
Paul knew he deserved to be struck down for his sins. But Jesus, whom he persecuted, had extended mercy, grace and love toward him. Paul turned from his unbelief, to place his faith in Christ.
...who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry {GK=diakonia, service}...
Was Paul counted 'faithful' because of his zeal in persecuting the church? Certainly not. The words 'faithful' {GK=pistos} and 'faith' {GK=pistis, belief, persuasion} are closely related. When Paul believed in Christ, the Lord knew the depth of His faith. He saw a man 'fully persuaded,' who would serve with unwavering obedience (Act 9:13-16).
     It was all of Grace {unmerited favor}. In Christ, Paul received a righteousness which he could never have attained by the Law (Php 3:4-10). From Christ, he received a task by which to serve the God, whom he had previously blasphemed. For the rest of his days, Paul remained astonished and humbled by his debt to God's Grace (1Cor 15:9,10).
15 This [is] a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation,
that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.
16 Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy,
that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering,
for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.
17 Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God,
[be] honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.
...Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.
These words are a 'faithful saying... worthy of all acceptance.' They deserve your consideration.
Since Christ has already saved 'the chief of sinners,' He can save you. There is no sin beyond the reach of God's Grace, for Christ died to take away the sins of the whole world (Joh 1:29; 1Joh 2:2). Salvation is not reserved for those who think they are 'good enough,' but rather, for whosoever believes in Him (Joh 3:14-18; 6:37; Rom 10:9-13). The only unforgiveable sin, is the refusal to receive the gift of Grace, by which God freely offers salvation to all who will believe (Joh 3:36).
...for this cause I obtained mercy... for a pattern {ie., example} to them which should... believe on him...
The Grace of God was 'exceeding abundant in Christ Jesus' (v.14), toward Paul, so that you might see that God's Grace is more than sufficient to lift you out of bondage to sin and death, and into eternal life with our Savior.
In v.17, Paul is overwhelmed with praise, as he marvels at God's Grace.
The God of Grace is unknown to the Judaizers, who imagined a rigidly legalistic deity, and also to the Gnostics, who imagined countless spiritual mediators between God and man.
     Although the Creator and Ruler of all is unseen {invisible}, He chose to reveal Himself to fallen men, in the Person of Jesus the Christ. Although He is 'immortal' {lit., incorruptible}, He humbled Himself to bear our sins away in His own body on the cross. Although He is eternal {ie., timeless, ageless}, He personally intervened in behalf of men, whose days are few and full of trouble. To this, my King, I owe everything.
18. This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy,
according to the prophecies which went before on thee,
that thou by them mightest war a good warfare;
19 Holding faith, and a good conscience;
which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck:
20 Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander;
whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme.
This charge {GK=paraggelia, message, proclamation} I commit {GK=partithemi, set before, entrust} unto thee...
Paul reiterates the charge that he had previously given to Timothy (v.3). Furthermore, as the Lord had entrusted Paul with the Gospel of Grace (v.11,12), so, Paul was entrusting this message to Timothy. In the course of his two letters to Timothy, Paul repeatedly urges his son, in the faith, to faithfully fulfill the responsibility given to him by the Lord.
...that thou mightest war {GK=strateuomai} a good warfare {GK=strateia}.
The battle is the Lord's. Yet, a servant of the Lord will be engaged in the battle. The words for war and warfare are related to the English words 'strategic' and 'strategy.' Those engaged in the battle for truth must be alert to defend against enemy activity, and ready to advance at the Lord's leading. A soldier must be prepared to endure hardship and to give his all (2Tim 2:3,4).
...according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare.
A soldier will neither stand against the foe, nor win the battle, alone or in his own strength. Success depends upon the King and His resources. When Timothy was ordained to ministry, some of the Lord's more experienced servants had layed hands upon him, prayed for him, and claimed the promises of God in his behalf (1Tim 4:14). Only 'by them' (the power and promises of God) would he 'war a good warfare' (2Cor 10:3-5; Eph 6:12-18).
...holding faith and a good conscience... some having put away concerning faith... made shipwreck.
Paul warned Timothy to keep the faith, with a good conscience.
     The warning is intensified by the example of 'some,' who despite their previous profession of faith in Christ, had made shipwreck of their spiritual lives and of their ministries, when they turned from the faith (v.3-6).
     Note that Paul puts the cause of their ruin upon their abandonment of the faith, rather than on their failure to follow their conscience. The conscience {GK=suneidesis, lit., "with seeing,"} is the inner ability to discern between truth and error, betwen right and wrong. This sense, within the human soul, is not inherently accurate. It must be calibrated to an external reference. The 'con - science' is 'knowledge - with' reference to that which is regarded as truth.
     For the believer, a conscience tuned to God's Word provides early warning against temptation to sin, and against false teachings. But the conscience can be corrupted. Paul confessed that he had always maintained a 'good conscience.' Even while he was murdering Christians, he thought his actions pleased God (Acts 23:1; 26:9,10). At that time, he was ignorant of God's will. His conscience was in error because it was not aligned with the mind of God.
     Likewise, those who know God's Word and will, but choose to disregard and disobey it, defile their consciences, quieting the warnings of danger (Titus 1:15,16), until eventually their conscience is 'seared' beyond any sensitivity (1Tim 4:1,2). Sadly, this was the case with the men that Paul mentions by name.
...Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they might learn not to blaspheme.
No doubt, Timothy knew exactly who Paul was speaking of. But we know little about either man. Hymenaeus is mentioned only here and in 2Tim 2:17,18. The NT mentions four men named Alexander. Some were not believers (eg., Acts 4:6; 2Tim 4:14). Some may have professed faith (Mark 15:21; Acts 19:33).
     Paul was speaking of men who had turned from the faith, to embrace 'other doctrine' (v.3). Their false teaching was equivalent to blasphemy {injurious and slanderous speech, especially that which reproaches the name of God}. Hymenaeus taught that "the resurrection is past already" (2Tim 2:17,18). Some might disregard this error as a difference of opinion about eschatology (the doctrine concerning the end times). But, because it is contrary to God's Word, Paul calls it blasphemy. (Paul corrected a similar error in 2The 2:1-3.)
     Paul had apparently exercised church discipline, excluding these men from fellowship, with the hope that they might 'learn' {GK=paideuo, to learn, as children, through chastening}, and turn back from their error. (Whenever possible, the purpose of church discipline should be the restoration of an erring brother. But until the brother repents and returns to God's truth, separation is necessary to prevent the error from spreading and defiling the consciences of other believers. See 1Cor 5:4-6)

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