The Expository Files

Commentary on 1 Timothy 1

1 Timothy 1

"Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus according to the commandment of God our Savior, and of Christ Jesus, who is our hope to Timothy, my true child in the faith: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord." (1 Timothy 1:1,2)

1. Paul begins his letter in a typical fashion by identifying who he is, and confirming that he stands for Christ. Paul was commanded to be an apostle of Christ by God. Paul was not, by any means, forced to be an apostle, but both by God's will and Paul's earnest heart to do what is right, He was following God and working to further our hope, which is Christ Jesus.

2.Timothy was Paul's "true child in the faith." Paul had a similar relationship with many people he converted which was described by Paul as father - children relationships. This described the relationship felt between one who is used as the tool to bring another the gospel of Christ. A father ideally brings his children up in admonition of the Lord, likewise, a father of the faith should help a young Christian along the walk of faith. Paul desires blessings from God and Christ to Timothy. Grace, mercy, and peace all come from the Father. This is desirable for Christians everywhere.

"As I urged you upon my departure for Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus so that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines, nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation rather than furthering the administration of God which is by faith. But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. For some men, straying from these things, have turned aside to fruitless discussion, wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions. But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully, realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted. " (1 Timothy 1:3-11).

Paul is addressing and encouraging Timothy to stand against certain teachings that were not of God. Certain men were caught up in endless genealogies and they were not paying attention to things that "furthered the administration of God by faith." This could perhaps be a reference to men who were still teaching the Law of Moses. They might have been trying to discern what tribe they were from perhaps to feed their pride because of their heritage. Nevertheless they were no longer teaching the things that would lead one to a pure love, a good conscience and a sincere faith. If the law here is not meant to refer to the Law of Moses, but the Law of Christ, there is still something to be learned. An important point is that what a preacher teaches should not be speculative. There is a purpose, or goal, in a preacher's instruction. That goal should never be lost. There are things someone can get caught up in that only leads to idle talk, and fruitless discussion, but a preacher of the gospel seeks to save the souls of men.

3-4. Paul at some time had left Macedonia, and urged Timothy to stay in Ephesus for a specified purpose. Certain men were teaching strange or different doctrines. It was Timothy's responsibility to instruct men to avoid those strange teachings, along with myths, or false stories, and looking into endless genealogies. Those things only gave rise to further, useless speculation.

5. The ultimate purpose of a preacher's instruction is to encourage and teach how to love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from a sincere faith. Christ changes people; and one who has these three qualities is on a good path and is pleasing to God. For in loving Christ, the natural result of this love will be to follow His commandments. If the preaching is not helping the listeners to love Christ, or is not telling of the commandments that Christ has made, then the preaching is not accomplishing its God-given goal.

6. Some of the men at Ephesus were straying and leaving important and necessary things out. Absent was teaching about how to love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from a sincere faith, and they had turned aside to fruitless and idle talk. Preachers need to carefully consider their messages to make sure that they do not preach fruitlessly, but preach things that do not deviate from the needs of the congregation. Things taught should further a Christian's knowledge of the will of God.

7. Those men at Ephesus wanted to be teachers of the law [of Moses?] yet the things they asserted as truths and confidently taught were things in which they did not even understand. A preacher or any Christian needs to take heed lest they fall. (1 Cor 10:12) A person who is deceived, by definition, does not know he is deceived. It is important that a preacher is careful what he preaches. All should be diligently studied out.. When someone makes a confident assertion about something they do not really understand, then they had better beware for they are susceptible to teaching error.

8. There is nothing wrong with the law [of Moses?] as long it is used the way it is supposed to be used. The Old Testament has always pointed to Christ and has always pointed to loving God, and the need for putting one's faith in God. There are still many lessons that are valuable to Christians today who are not under the Old Law. The fundamentals of what Christianity is all about can be found in many stories of faith, and examples of those who trusted God. The action that a faithful person in past dispensations took when confronted with adversity will show the Christian that the answer is always to be faithful to the one great God. But the Old Law was merely a shadow of Christ, and it needs to be taught as a shadow that points to Christ (Heb. 10:1).

9-10. It appears that Paul then switches from talking about the Law of Moses to the Law we are under now. The purpose of the law of Christ is to save sinners. It was not made for a righteous man. Christians are declared righteous by wearing Christ's name; they are not righteous in themselves. The statement "A righteous man" may be referring to an attitude of those men teaching things that led to fruitless discussions. Perhaps in some way they were self-righteous, they needed to be reminded that Christ died for the ungodly. Jesus once said that the healthy are not the ones who need a physician, but the sick.

11. The list of things that are contrary to sound teaching are not complete in verses 9 and 10, but whatever is not "according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God" no matter what it is must be categorized as contrary to sound doctrine. A preacher needs to respect and carefully hold the gospel that God has entrusted to him.

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service; even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. And yet I was shown mercy, because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love, which are found in Christ Jesus. It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. And yet for this reason I found mercy, in order that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience, as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. This command I entrust to you, Timothy, my son, in accordance with the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may fight the good fight, keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith. Among these are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have delivered over to Satan, so that they may be taught not to blaspheme (1 Timothy 1:12-20).

12.Jesus Christ was the source of Paul's strength, we need to look to Christ ourselves as our own primary source of strength. Christ is the author and perfecter of our faith (Heb 12:2) Living Christ's example will help any Christian become strong. We should be thankful, and honored in the fact that Christ has put us into His service, and given us a reason for living. A Christian has something very precious to stand for.

13. Even Paul was only saved by Mercy! God's grace can go much farther then people realize (Isaiah 55:8-9) and a preacher can fall into a trap of pre judging people. Paul was a persecutor of the church, he violently aggressed Christ yet he is now an apostle of Christ.

14 Grace love and faith are found abundantly in Christ. Christ will not run out of forgiveness, there is enough to go around to all who believe.

15. The purpose of Christ coming into this world was to save sinners. He left heaven and humbled himself on earth for everyman regardless of race, color, or social status. Paul humbly states that he is the foremost of all sinners. Paul had a very strong sense of humility. Looking at his life though you could see where this state would come from. Yet Christ even came to save the foremost of sinners.

16. In saving Paul Jesus Christ demonstrates His perfect patience, and the types of people He came to save. Paul believed in Christ, and put His faith in Christ, and Christ saved Him. If Paul can do it, then we should not put restrictions on others conquering their battles with Satan. A preacher needs to share the gospel with all, and not be selective, for the biggest offender of the church became a martyr for the church.

17. The glory of Paul's conversion, and the honor is all God's. When someone because of the gospel is forgiven, and changes their life around, the glory is always God's, not the person who taught them the gospel, nor the person who has changed their life.

18. Paul commands Timothy to keep in accordance to the prophecies made about him. Timothy is encouraged to fight the good fight! Paul is encouraging Timothy to continue to work hard, even though their were prophecies concerning him that were obviously good, Timothy still needed to fight.

19. It was important for Timothy to keep the faith, because some people had already had their faith ship wrecked.

20. Sometimes it is necessary to deliver one to Satan in order to teach that person an important lesson. Delivered over to Satan would likely mean that Paul withdrew any type of fellowship he might have had with them, so they would see their depravity and repent and no longer blaspheme.

By Nathan E. Quinn
From Expository Files 8.7; July 2001