1 Timothy 1
PARAGRAPH DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS*
|Warning Against False Doctrine||No Other Defense||The Defense of the Truth||Warnings Against False Teaching||Suppress the False Teachers|
|Thankfulness for Mercy||Glory to God for His Grace||Gratitude for God's Mercy||Paul On His Own Calling|
|Fight the Good Fight||Timothy's Responsibility|
READING CYCLE THREE (from "A Guide to Good Bible Reading")
FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT THE PARAGRAPH LEVEL
This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.
Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects. Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired but it is the key to following the original author's intent which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.
1. First paragraph
2. Second paragraph
3. Third paragraph
* Although they are not inspired, paragraph divisions are the key to understanding and following the original author's intent. Each modern translation has divided and summarized the paragraphs. Every paragraph has one central topic, truth, or thought. Each version encapsulates that topic in its own distinct way. As you read the text, ask yourself which translation fits your understanding of the subject and verse divisions.
In every chapter we must read the Bible first and try to identify its subjects (paragraphs), then compare our understanding with the modern versions. Only when we understand the original author's intent by following his logic and presentation can we truly understand the Bible. Only the original author is inspired—readers have no right to change or modify the message. Bible readers do have the responsibility of applying the inspired truth to their day and their lives.
Note that all technical terms and abbreviations are explained fully in the following documents: Brief Definitions of Greek Grammatical Structure, Textual Criticism, and Glossary.
WORD AND PHRASE STUDY
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 1:1
1Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus according to the commandment of God our Savior, and of Christ Jesus, who is our hope,
1:1 "Paul" Most Jews of Paul's day had two first names, one Jewish, one Roman (cf. Acts 13:9). Paul's Jewish name was Saul. He, like the ancient King of Israel, was of the tribe of Benjamin (cf. Rom. 11:1; Phil. 3:5). His Roman name in Greek form, Paul (Paulos), meant "little." This referred to
1. his physical stature which was alluded to in a second century non-canonical book, The Acts of Paul, in a chapter about Thessalonica called "Paul and Thekla"
2. his personal sense of being least of the saints because he originally persecuted the Church (cf. 1 Cor. 15:9; Eph. 3:8; 1 Tim. 1:15)
3. simply the name given by his parents at birth
Option #3 seems best.
▣ "an apostle" This root is one of two common Greek verbs for "send." This term has several theological usages.
1. The rabbis used it as one called and sent as an official representative of another, something like our English "ambassador" (cf. II Cor. 5:20).
2. The Gospels often use the verb form of this term of Jesus being sent by the Father. In John the term takes on Messianic overtones (cf. John 4:34; 5:24,30,36,37,38; 6:29,38,39,40,57; 7:29; 8:42; 10:36; 11:42; 17:3,8,18,21,23,25; 20:21).
3. It is used of Jesus sending believers (cf. John 17:18; 20:21).
4. It is used of a special leadership gift in the NT.
a. the original twelve inner circle of disciples (cf. Acts 1:21-22)
b. a special group of Apostolic helpers and co-workers
(1) Barnabas (cf. Acts 14:4,14)
(2) Andronicus and Junias (KJV, Junia, cf. Rom. 16:7)
(3) Apollos (cf. 1 Cor. 4:6-9)
(4) James the Lord's brother (cf. Gal. 1:19)
(5) Silvanus and Timothy (cf. 1 Thess. 2:6)
(6) possibly Titus (cf. 2 Cor. 8:23)
(7) possibly Epaphroditus (cf. Phil. 2:25)
c. an ongoing gift in the church (cf. Eph. 4:11)
5. Paul uses this title for himself in most of his letters as a way of asserting his God-given authority as Christ's representative (cf. I Cor. 1:1; 2 Cor. 1:1; Eph. 1:1; Col. 1:1; 2 Tim. 1:1). Even in a personal letter like 1 Timothy, this authority is important.
a. his authority gave Timothy authority
b. he is combating false teachers
c. his letter was obviously read to the entire church
▣ "of Christ Jesus" These terms are part of the fuller title "the Lord Jesus Christ." These three titles all have individual significance.
1. "Christ" is the Greek translation of the Hebrew Messiah (Anointed One). It asserts Jesus' OT status as God's promised one sent to set up the new age of righteousness.
2. "Jesus" is the name given to the baby in Bethlehem by the angel (cf. Matt. 1:21). It is made up of two Hebrew nouns: "YHWH," the covenant name for deity, and "salvation" (cf. Exod. 3:14). It is the same Hebrew name as Joshua. When used alone it often identifies the man, Jesus of Nazareth, son of Mary (e.g., Matt. 1:16, 25; 2:1; 3:13,15,16; Acts 13:23,33; Rom. 8:11; 1 Cor. 11:23; 12:3; Eph. 4:21; Phil. 2:10; 1 Thess. 1:10; 4:14).
3. "Lord" (used in 1:1 in KJV or in 1:12) is the translation of the Hebrew term adon, which meant "owner, husband, master, or lord." The Jews became afraid of pronouncing the sacred name YHWH lest they take it in vain and break one of the Ten Commandments. Whenever they read the Scriptures, they substituted Adon for YHWH. This is why our English translations use all capitals Lord for YHWH in the OT. By transferring this title (kurios in Greek) to Jesus, the NT authors assert His deity and equality with the Father (this same thing is done by the grammar of v. 2 with one preposition referring to God the Father and Jesus the Son, cf. 1 Thess. 1:1; 2 Thess. 1:1,2).
▣ "according to the commandment of God" This is another literary way of asserting Paul's apostolic authority. Paul's ministry was the "will of God" (cf. 2 Tim. 1:1) and "the commandment of God" (cf. Titus 1:3). This probably refers to Paul's call on the road to Damascus and the information revealed through Ananias (cf. Acts 9:1-22; 22:3-16; 26:9-18). Paul did not volunteer!
▣ "God our Savior" This is an OT title for YHWH's care and deliverance of Israel (cf. Isa. 19:20; 43:3,11; 45:15,21; 49:26; 60:16; 63:8), especially through the coming Suffering Servant (cf. Isa. 52:13-53:12). This title is used of God the Father in Titus 1:3; 2:10 and 3:4 and of God the Son, Jesus, in Titus 1:4; 2:13 and 3:6. This is another way of theologically linking the Father and the Son.
This was one of the NT titles for YHWH which was used of Caesar. The Caesars of Paul's day claimed to be "Lord," "Savior," even "divine." Christians reserved these titles uniquely for Jesus and because of this they were seen as traitors by the Roman government and society and were persecuted and died by the thousands in the first and second centuries. See full note at 2 Tim. 1:10.
▣ "Christ" See SPECIAL TOPIC: MESSIAH following.
▣ "our hope" See SPECIAL TOPIC: HOPE at Titus 1:2.
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 1:2
2To Timothy, my true child in the faith: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
1:2 "To Timothy" The Pastoral Letters follow the typical Greek letter form: (1) from whom; (2) to whom; and (3) a prayer/wish.
▣ "my true child" "My" is not in the Greek text. "Child" is teknon, which means a legitimate child. Paul saw himself as Timothy's spiritual father (cf. 2 Tim. 1:2; 2:1). He also refers to Titus (cf. Tutus 1:4) and Onesimus (cf. Philemon v. 10) by similar phrases.
▣ "Grace, mercy and peace" Notice the commonality and differences in Paul's opening greetings:
1. "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" (cf. Rom. 1:7; 1 Cor. 1:3; 2 Cor. 1:2; Gal. 1:3; Eph. 1:2; Phil. 1:2; 1 Thess. 1:2; Philemon 1:3)
2. "Grace to you and peace from God our Father" (cf. Col. 1:2)
3. "Grace to you and peace" (cf. 1 Thess. 1:1)
4. "Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord" (cf. 1 Tim. 1:2; 2 Tim. 1:2)
5. "Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior" (cf. Titus 1:4)
Notice that there is variety, but some elements are standard.
1. "Grace" begins all greetings. It is a Christianized form of greeting focusing on the character of God.
2. "Peace" is the result of humans trusting in the trustworthy God.
3. "Mercy" is another way of describing God's character and is unique in Paul's writings, used only in I and 2 Timothy. This term was used in the Septuagint to translate the Hebrew term hesed (i.e., covenant loyalty). God is gracious and trustworthy.
4. The Father and Son are mentioned in each greeting (in 1 Thessalonians they are mentioned in the previous phrase). They are always grammatically linked. This was one way the NT writers asserted the full deity of Jesus of Nazareth. This is also true of the use of the OT titles for YHWH applied to Jesus (i.e., Lord and Savior).
▣ "Father" The Bible uses human categories (anthropomorphisms) to describe deity as an aid to time-bound, sinful mankind. The most common biblical metaphors relate to the family:
1. God as Father, as parent (mother and father), as near kin (go'el)
2. Jesus as Son, as brother, as husband
3. believers as children, as adopted children, as bride
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 1:3-7
3As I urged you upon my departure for Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus so that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines, 4nor 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. 5But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 6For some men, straying from these things, have turned aside to fruitless discussion, 7wanting 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.
1. It was the largest city of the Roman province of Asia Minor. It was not the capital, though the Roman governor lived there. It was a commercial center because of its excellent natural harbor.
2. It was a free city, which allowed it to have its own local government and many political freedoms, including no garrison of Roman soldiers.
3. It was the only city which was allowed to hold biannual Asian Olympic games.
4. It was the site of the Temple to Artemis (Diana in Latin), which was one of the seven wonders of the world of its day. It was 425' by 220' with 127 columns which were 60' tall, of which 86 were overlaid with gold (see Pliny's Hist. Nat. 36:95ff). The image of Artemis was thought to have been a meteor which resembled a many-breasted female figure. This meant that there were many cultic prostitutes present in the city (cf. Acts 19). It was a very immoral, multicultural city.
5. Paul spent more than three years in this city (cf. Acts 18:1ff; 20:13). He stayed there longer than any other place.
6. Tradition asserts that it became the Apostle John's home after Mary's death in Palestine.
7. Paul and Timothy must have traveled here together after Paul was released from Roman imprisonment in Rome. It is the first geographical information about Paul's fourth missionary journey. Notice he was moving on to Macedonia.
8. Eusebius (a third century church historian) relates the tradition that Timothy was later stoned in Ephesus because of arguments with the followers of Diana.
▣ "so that" This is a hina (purpose clause), which means "in order that" (1:10,18,20; 2:2; 3:15; 4:15; 5:7,16,20,21; 6:1,19).
▣ "may instruct" This is a military term "to give strict orders" (cf. vv. 5,18; 4:11; 5:7; 6:13,17). Paul is directing Timothy as his Apostolic delegate.
▣ "certain men not to teach strange doctrines" Normally Paul, like all first century writers, would include a prayer of thanksgiving, an expected introductory item of Greek letters. However, in both Galatians and 1 Timothy the situation (i.e., opposing false teachers) demanded a deviation from the normal pattern. There is much modern academic speculation about these false teachers. They seem to combine aspects of Jewish and Greek thought (like the false teachers of Colossians). In this context (1:3-4) they are characterized by
1. strange doctrines
2. attention to myths
3. attention to endless genealogies
4. mere speculation
Some commentators relate these to Gnosticism's aeons or angelic spheres (plērōma) between a high good god and lesser gods/angels, the least of which molded/formed evil matter. See Special Topic: Gnostics at Titus 1:1.
The Jewish element is obvious in:
1. "teachers of the Law" (1 Tim. 1:7-10)
2. "Jewish myths" (Titus 1:14; 2 Tim. 4:4)
3. "disputes about the Law" (Titus 3:9)
4. "those of the circumcision" (Titus 1:10)
5. possibly the origins of the Messiah in Titus 3:9a
NASB"to teach no other doctrine"
NKJV"to teach different doctrine"
NRSV"teaching false doctrine"
TEV"teaching false doctrine"
NJB"to spread wrong teaching"
This is a present infinitive of a compound term heteros (another of a different kind) plus didakalin (the thing taught). The adjective heteros is also used to describe inappropriate teaching in Acts 17:21; 2 Cor. 11:4; and Gal. 1:6-7. 1 Timothy 6:3 is a good parallel.
In The New International Biblical Commentary, p. xiv, one of my favorite commentators, Gordon Fee, asserts that this verse is crucial in interpreting the purpose of 1 Timothy. In his opinion it is not primarily a "manual of church discipline," but a refutation of false teachers/teaching (and I agree).
1:4 "nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies" Because of the references to Jewish Law (vv. 7-10 and Titus 3:9b), to circumcision (Titus 1:10), and Jewish myths (Titus 1:14 and in 2 Tim. 4:4), it seems obvious that these teachings were Jewish in nature. It is possible that it refers to the speculative origins of the Messiah (cf. Titus 3:9a).
Irenaeus and Tertullian thought Paul was prophetically speaking to later Gnosticism's aeons or angelic levels between the holy god and a lesser god (or Elohim/angel) who formed matter. Gnosticism is a system of thought that is known from writings from the middle of the second century. See Special Topic: Gnostics at Titus 1:1. From these writings we know of their extensive lists of angelic levels between a high good god and the lesser spiritual beings. However, these Gnostic lists are never characterized in contemporary Christian, Jewish, or Gnostic literature by the terms "myths" or "genealogies."
The subject of Gnosticism has been greatly advanced by the archaeological discoveries of Gnostic texts such as Nag Hammadi. These writings are now available in English, The Nag Hammadi Library by James M. Robinson and Richard Smith.
NASB"give rise to mere speculation"
NKJV"which cause disputes"
NRSV"that promote speculations"
TEV"which only produce arguments"
NJB"only foster doubts"
It is possible to get so involved in the study of Christianity academically that we forget why we are studying God's word (cf. Titus 3:8; Matt. 28:19-20). Just because a text could mean this or that does not mean that it does mean that. Check the historical setting and larger context.
This is exactly the reason that Pietism developed out of the Reformation tradition. Mind and heart must both be yielded and energized by God's Spirit.
NASB"rather than furthering the administration of God"
NKJV"rather than godly edification"
NRSV"rather than the divine training"
TEV"they do not serve God's plan"
NJB"instead of furthering God's plan"
This is the term for "household manager" (oikonomian, found in MSS א, A, D2, F, G) used for believers' stewardship of the gospel message. It refers to God's gracious plan for all mankind's salvation through faith in Christ (cf. Gen. 3:15; 2 Cor. 5:21; Eph. 2:8-10; 2:11-3:13). See Special Topic: YHWH's ETERNAL REDEMPTIVE PLAN at 1 Tim. 4:10.
The NKJV's "edification" (oikodomēn) follows MS D* and the Greek texts used by Irenaeus and the Latin text used by Theodore. The UBS4 gives "household manager" an "A" rating (certain).
The NET Bible gives 1 Tim. 2:3-6; 2 Tim. 1:9-10 and Titus 3:4-7 as the theological elements of God's eternal redemptive plan (p. 2176).
▣ "which is by faith" There is a real difference between "myths," "genealogies," "speculations," and faith. Faith is based on the historical truth of the gospel, not theories. Faith comes from the promises of God (cf. Gal. 3:14,16,17,18,21,22,29), not the philosophical preponderance of humans (cf. 1 Cor. 1:18-31). One is based on revelation, the other on human speculation. One honors God and the other magnifies the human thinker.
This is not meant to depreciate godly scholarship, but to differentiate divine revelation from human reason, speculation, and discovery. Believers are called to love God with their "minds" (cf. Jesus' quote of Deut. 6:5 in Matt. 22:36-37; Mark 12:28-30; Luke 10:27) and to pass these truths on to their children (cf. Deut. 6:7,20-25).
1:5 "love from a pure heart" The goal of Paul's charge to believers in v. 5 had a three-fold component.
1. love from a pure heart
2. love from a good conscience
3. love from a sincere faith.
In Hebrew "heart" was used for the seat of the intellect, emotions, and will (cf. Deut. 6:5-6). It stood for the whole person.
▣ "a good conscience" There is not an OT counterpart to the Greek term "conscience" unless the Hebrew term "breast" implies a knowledge of self and its motives. Originally the Greek term referred to consciousness related to the five senses. It came to be used of the inner senses (cf. Rom. 2:15). Paul uses this term twice in his trials in Acts (cf. 23:1 and 24:16). It refers to his sense that he had not knowingly violated any expected duties toward God (cf. 1 Cor. 4:4).
Conscience is a developing understanding of believers' motives and actions based on (1) a biblical world-view; (2) an indwelling Spirit; and (3) a knowledge of the word of God. It is made possible by the personal reception of the gospel.
Paul uses this term twice in chapter 1, once in relation to his own developed sense of the will of God (cf. 1:5) and once in relation to the willful rejection of the false teachers (cf. Titus 1:15), including Hymenaeus and Alexander (cf. 1:19). These false teachers have had their consciences seared (cf. 4:2).
▣ "a sincere faith" Paul uses this adjective three times in his writings to describe (1) faith (cf. 1 Tim. 1:5; 2 Tim. 1:5) and (2) love (cf. 2 Cor. 6:6 and also 1 Pet. 1:22). It has the connotation of genuine, real, or sincere which is opposite of "counterfeit" which describes the false teachers (cf. vv. 19-20).
1:6-7 These verses further characterize the false teachers in very Jewish categories
1. they strayed from the goal of ethical teachings (cf. v. 5)
2. they turned aside to
a. "fruitless discussion" (NASB)
b. "idle talk" (NKJV)
c. "meaningless talk" (NRSV)
d. "empty speculation" (NJB)
3. they wanted to be teachers of the Law
4. they do not understand the Law
5. they make confident assertions about things they do not understand
6. verses 9c-10 seem to reflect the Ten Commandments
The tragedy of false teachers is either
1. their spiritual blindness, which is often expressed by insincerity
2. their willful rejection of light, not just ignorance
3. they lead others into error and ruin
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 1:8-11
8But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully, 9realizing 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 10and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching, 11according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted.
1:8-11 This is one long sentence in Greek. It clearly reveals one continuing purpose of the Mosaic Law, especially as it relates to moral living.
1:8 "But we know that the Law is good" See Special Topic following.
▣ "if" This is a third class conditional sentence which means potential, but contingent, action. The Mosaic Law must be used in an appropriate manner and not as a legalistic agenda (cf. Rom. 2:27-29; 7:6; 2 Cor. 3:6).
1:9 "but for those who are lawless and rebellious" Paul includes several lists of sins in his writings (cf. Rom. 1:29-31; 13:13; 1 Cor. 5:11; 6:9-10; Eph. 5:5; Col. 3:5; 1 Tim. 6:4-5; 2 Tim. 3:2-4; Titus 3:3). They are similar to the lists of vices of the Greek moralists (Stoics). This list describes those for whom the Law still has relevance (i.e., sinners). The Law as God's agent to convict of sin is fully discussed in Galatians 3.
▣ "lawless" This meant "no recognized authority." These false teachers had rejected the moral aspects of the Mosaic Law. They had become a "law" unto themselves (no conscience, cf. 4:2).
▣ "rebellious" This meant "not under authority." They wanted to be authorities unto themselves.
▣ "ungodly" This meant "knowledgeably irreligious." They were not ignorant, but self-blinded.
▣ "unholy" This means the opposite of godly. They oppose all that God stands for and does.
▣ "profane" This meant "to trample the holy." They claimed to be spiritual, but by their lifestyles they demonstrated their worldliness.
▣ "those who kill their fathers and mothers" If this list reflects the Decalog, then this may reflect lack of the respect/honor which is due parents (cf. Exod. 20:12; Deut. 5:16).
▣ "murder" In the Decalog this refers to non-legal, premeditated murder (cf. Exod. 20:13; Deut. 5:17).
1:10 "immoral men" This meant "sexually immoral" and may refer to Exod. 20:14 and Deut. 5:18. Sexuality without bounds has always characterized false teachers.
▣ "kidnappers" This may be further evidence that the entire list parallels the Ten Commandments. This is a rabbinical interpretation of "thou shalt not steal" (cf. Exod. 20:15; Deut. 5:19). The rabbis assert that it refers to kidnaping of slaves (cf. Exod. 21:16; Deut. 24:7), however, the immediate context seems related to perverse sexuality (i.e., the sexual use of a slave girl, cf. Amos 2:7, or the use of young boys for homosexual perversity).
▣ "and liars and perjurers" This may relate to the Commandment "you shall not bear false witness against your neighbor" (cf. Exod. 20:16; Deut. 5:20).
▣ "and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching" If we continue to compare this to the Decalog then this must refer to "coveting" (cf. Exod. 20:17; Deut. 5:21). However, Paul seems to end his list of sins in Rom. 13:9 and Gal. 5:21 in the same general sense (i.e., without specific reference to coveting).
▣ "sound teaching" We get the English word "hygiene" from this Greek word. This term is used in the NT eleven times; nine are in the Pastoral Letters. It speaks of teachings that make believers spiritually healthy.
This concept (though different phrasing) is a repeated theme in the Pastoral Letters (cf. 1 Tim. 1:10; 4:6; 6:3; 2 Tim. 1:13; 4:3; Titus 1:9,13; 2:1,2,7). In this context it is parallel to "the gospel of glory" in v. 11.
The difficult contemporary application of this text relates to modern believers being able to define "false teachers." How does one differentiate between items of personal preference and culture versus crucial doctrinal issues? The answer must lie in the Apostolic preaching of the gospel, especially as it relates to the person and work of Christ and how humans receive the benefit of Christ's work and live in light of the gospel's mandate of Christlikeness.
"Sound teaching" is one of several words and phrases that lift up and describe God's truth.
1. "Word of God" (cf. 1 Tim. 4:5; 2 Tim. 4:2; Titus 2:5)
2. "word of our Lord" (cf. 1 Tim. 6:3; 2 Tim. 1:13)
3. "words of truth" (cf. 2 Tim. 2:15)
4. "words of faith" (cf. 1 Tim. 4:6)
5. "teaching" (cf. 1 Tim. 1:10; 11 Tim. 4:3; Titus 1:9, 2:1)
6. "deposit" (cf. 1 Tim. 6:20)
7. "truth" (cf. 2 Tim. 1:14; 2:18, 25; 3:7,8; 4:4)
8. "the Gospel" (cf. 1 Tim. 1:11; 2 Tim. 2:8, 10, 11)
9. "the faith" (cf. 1 Tim. 6:21; 2 Tim. 4:7)
10. "Scriptures" (cf. 2 Tim. 2:15-16)
1:11 "the glorious gospel" This is literally "the gospel of the glory of the blessed God." This is parallel to the "sound teaching" of v. 10. God has revealed how to respond to Him and other humans in appropriate (gospel) and inappropriate (Jewish legalism) ways. The new covenant in Christ is the final arbitrator of what is necessary and appropriate for believers (cf. Acts 15).
The term glory (doxa) is very difficult to define. In the OT the Hebrew term kabod, a commercial term, means "to be heavy" and thereby valuable and honorable. It had a special derived sense when used of YHWH (cf. Exod. 16:7) in connection with the shekinah cloud which represented His presence. This cloud was a pillar of fire. Therefore, kabod took on a radiant, brilliant connotation (cf. Exod. 24:17). In the OT it becomes a way of referring to God Himself (cf. Isa. 59:19). This is why John 1:14 becomes so significant. Jesus and/or His gospel are identified fully with the blessed God of the OT, YHWH.
▣ "blessed God" This word for "blessed" is used for God, only here and in 6:15. It is the same term used in the Beatitudes of Matt. 5 (i.e. "happy," "content"). The implication of the idiom is that YHWH is worthy of praise.
▣ "which I have been entrusted" This is an aorist passive indicative of pisteuō, the general term for faith, trust, or believe in the NT. Here it is used in the sense of "to entrust something to another" (cf. Luke 16:11; Rom. 3:2; 1 Cor. 9:17; Gal. 2:7; 1 Thess. 2:4; 1 Tim. 1:11; Titus 1:3; 1 Pet. 4:10).
Paul believed that God had made him a steward of the gospel for which he would give an account (cf. 1 Cor. 9:17; Gal. 2:7; 1 Thess. 2:4; Titus 1:3).
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 1:12-17
12 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, 13even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; 14and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus. 15It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. 16Yet for this reason I found mercy, so 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. 17Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
1:12 "I thank Christ Jesus our Lord" This is one of the rare occasions when Paul directs his prayer to Christ instead of the Father. He possibly does this here because it was Jesus whom he heard on the Damascus road (cf. Acts 9:4-5; 22:7-8; 26:15). Paul believed that Jesus
1. strengthened/enabled/empowered him (cf. Phil. 4:13; 2 Tim. 4:17)
2. considered him faithful/trustworthy
3. put him to ministry (cf. Acts 9:15).
The rest of this paragraph is devoted to Paul's amazement that God could love, forgive, and use a sinner like him. If God could do this for Paul, He could do it for anyone, even the false teachers and those influenced by them.
This type of doxology that seems to break into the context is characteristic of Paul's writing. Expressing his theology often caused him to burst into praise and thanksgiving. Paul often used the Greek term eucharisteō or eucharistia to express thanks, but the term here is charin, which is formed from the stem of the term "grace" (charis). This term is rarer in Paul's writing (cf. 1 Tim. 1:12; 2 Tim. 1:3). However, both are used apparently interchangeably in the Corinthian letters, therefore, they are probably synonymous for Paul, with little or no distinctiveness implied.
1:13 "blasphemer" This must refer to Saul's beliefs and statements about Jesus before his conversion.
▣ "a persecutor and a violent aggressor" (cf. Acts 8:1-3; 9:1,13,21; 22:4,19; 26:10-11; 1 Cor. 15:8-9; Gal. 1:13; Phil. 3:6)
▣ "I was shown mercy" This is an aorist passive indicative. God/Christ had mercy on Saul the violent persecutor. If he can receive mercy, anyone can receive mercy. This reveals clearly the character of God and how far His love and mercy extends to sinners.
▣ "because I acted ignorantly in unbelief" In the OT, sins of ignorance could be forgiven by sacrifice (cf. Leviticus 16), whereas for premeditated sin there was no sacrificial possible, not even on the Day of Atonement. In Romans Paul clearly asserts that God holds humans responsible for the light they have. An example of this truth is that before the Mosaic Law, God did not hold humans responsible for violating its precepts (cf. Acts 17:30; Rom. 3:20,25; 4:15; 5:13,20; 7:5,7-8; 1 Cor. 15:56). This same truth is also seen in those who have never heard the gospel (cf. Rom. 1:18-2:29). They are responsible for the light they have (from creation, Rom. 1:18-23 and an inner moral witness, Rom. 2:14-15). This is called "natural revelation" as opposed to "special revelation" (i.e., the Bible).
1:14 "the grace of our Lord" The key in Paul's theology about salvation was the character of God, not the performance of mankind. Fallen humans' only hope is in the settled, merciful, gracious character of God, expressed in Christ (cf. Eph. 1:3-14; 2:4,8-9).
▣ "more than abundant" This is literally "super abundantly" (huperpleonazō). It is a characteristic hapax legomenon compound with huper created by Paul. "Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more" (Rom. 5:2).
▣ "with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus" There are several interpretive issues involved in this verse.
1. Should "Lord" (v. 14) refer to YHWH (cf. v. 17) or Jesus? In context YHWH is best.
2. Should God's gift of grace be linked to faith and love, which are also gifts in Christ (cf. TEV, NJB)?
Surely Paul's conversion (cf. Acts 9) was an act of grace. Paul was chosen and acted upon. His response was not an act of unaffected free will! His needs were met in God's grace and Jesus' actions. Paul received heaven's gifts and then lived them out to others.
Notice that God's provisions for salvation come only through Christ. He is God's answer to fallen mankind's needs in every area (cf. vv. 15-17).
1:15 "It is a trustworthy statement deserving full acceptance" This phrase is used five times in the Pastoral Letters (cf. 1:15; 3:1, 4:9; 2 Tim. 2:11; Titus 3:8). It is used much like Jesus' "amen, amen" (translated "truly, truly" or "verily, verily") to introduce significant statements.
Many scholars believe that this phrase was a literary marker for Paul, quoting a hymn, liturgy, or catechism. Other possible places he quotes early creedal statements are 1:17; 3:16; 6:15-16; 2 Tim. 2:11-13.
▣ "Christ Jesus came into the world" This implies Jesus' pre-existence (cf. John 1:1,15, 8:57-58, 16:28, 17:5; 1 Cor. 8:9; Phil. 2:6-7; Col. 1:17; Heb. 1:3; 10:5-8), which was a major doctrinal issue related to His deity (He was incarnated, not created, cf. Pro. 8:22). This may address the Gnostic aspect of these false teachers. See Special Topic: Gnoticism at Titus 1:1.
▣ "to save sinners" This is the purpose of Christ's coming (cf. Mark 10:45; Luke 19:10; 1 John 2:2). Also it shows the basic tenet of the gospel concerning fallen humanity's need for grace (cf. Rom. 3:9-18,23; 6:23).
▣ "I am foremost" The greater the light, the greater the consciousness of sin (cf. v. 16; 1 Cor. 15:9; Eph. 3:8). Paul felt guilty over his persecution of the church (cf. Acts 7:58; 8:1; 9:1-2; 22:4,19-20; 26:10-11), but felt empowered by God's grace, love, and provision for sinners through Christ's finished work (cf. v. 16).
NRSV"the utmost patience"
This is a compound Greek term (makros and thumos) for "restrained wrath." This term is often used of God in the Greek OT, called the Septuagint (cf. Num. 14:18; Ps. 86:15; 103:8; Joel 2:13; Nah. 1:3). It also characterizes God in the NT (cf. Rom. 2:4; 9:22; 1 Pet. 3:20; 2 Pet. 3:15). It is meant to characterize His children also (cf. 2 Cor. 6:6; Gal. 5:22; Eph. 4:2; Col. 1:11; 3:12; 2 Tim. 3:10; 4:2).
▣ "as an example" Paul's testimony of salvation from being an arch enemy of Christianity to becoming the trusted Apostle to the Gentiles reveals the depth and width and height of God's grace. In a sense Paul was a sincere false teacher on whom God had mercy!
▣ "for those who would believe in Him" Jesus prays for those who would believe in Him in John 17:20-26. Although the Gospel of John uses the preposition eis often to express the object of human faith, Paul normally uses epi (cf. Rom. 4:5,24; 9:33; 10:11; 1 Tim. 1:16; also notice Acts 9:42; 11:17; 16:31) or just the dative (cf. Gal. 3:6; Acts 18:8; 27:25). There seems to be no theological difference between (1) believing into (eis); believing in (en); believing on (epi); or the use of the dative case without a preposition (cf. 1 John 5:10).
Paul, like John, sometimes uses hoti (i.e., believe that), which emphasizes the content of faith (cf. Rom. 6:8; 1 Thess. 4:14). The gospel is (1) a person to welcome; (2) truths to believe; and (3) a life to live.
▣ "eternal life" Eternal life (zōen aiōnion) is a major recurring theme in John's theology. It is a current reality (e.g., John 3:16,36; 5:24; 6:47,54) as well as a future hope given to those who know the Father through trusting the Son (e.g., John 17:2-3).
Paul uses this term as a way of referring to the life of (1) the new age; (2) the kingdom of God; or (3) resurrection life (cf. Rom. 2:7; 5:21; 6:22,23; Gal. 6:8; 1 Tim. 1:16; Titus 1:2; 3:7). Only God is immortal; only God can give life. He gives eternal life to those who trust His Son by faith.
1:17 "the King" This doxology is similar to 6:15-16. It reflects the language of the later synagogue ("the King of the Universe") and the Jews of the diaspora (the term "eternal" was used of God by Philo of Alexandria).
It is quite possible that Paul is quoting a creed or hymn of the early church as he does in 3:16; 6:15-16 and 2 Tim. 2:11-13.
▣ "Eternal" This is the first of four powerful adjectives which is the same adjectives used in the phrase "eternal life" in v. 16 but here to describe God. It is literally "of the ages" (aiōnion), which may be a metaphor of eternity or a reference to the Jewish concept of two ages:
1. a current evil age characterized by independence and rebellion (angel and human)
2. a coming promised age of righteousness brought by the Spirit and implemented by the Messiah.
See Special Topic at 6:17.
The "already and not yet" tension of eternal life characterizes the current period where these two Jewish ages are overlapped because of the new revelation concerning the two comings of the Messiah, one as Savior, and a later one as King, Lord, and Judge.
▣ "immortal" This is literally "incorruptible." It refers metaphorically to the ever-living, only-living One (YHWH from the Hebrew verb "to be," cf. Exod. 3:14, see Special Topic: Names for Deity at 2 Tim. 1:2). Only God has life in Himself (cf. Rom. 1:23; 1 Tim. 1:17; 6:16). All other life is a derived gift and a stewardship. It comes only through the grace of the Father, the work of Christ (cf. 2 Tim. 1:10), and the ministry of the Spirit.
▣ "invisible" This is used in the sense of the spiritual realm (cf. Col. 1:15) or possibly YHWH as the unseen God (no images, cf. Exod. 33:20; Deut. 4:15; 1 Tim. 6:16). God is the eternal Spirit present in all of creation!
▣ "the only God" This refers to Jewish monotheism (see Special Topic at 2:5, cf. Deut. 6:4-6; Jude 25). This context reflects the unique biblical worldview. The Bible presents mankind with a faith perspective beyond the five senses.
1. There is one and only one God (cf. Gen. 1:1; Exod. 8:10; 9:14; Deut. 4:35-39; 1 Sam. 2:2; 2 Sam. 7:22; 22:32; 1 Kgs. 8:23; Ps. 86:8,10; Isa. 43:11; 44:6,8; 45:6-7,14,18,21-22; 46:5,9; Jer. 2:11; 5:7; 10:6; 16:20).
2. He is a personal, creator, redeemer God (cf. Genesis 1-2; 3:15; Psalm 103-104).
3. He gives promises of hope and restoration by means of Messiah (cf. Isaiah 53).
4. Faith in Messiah repairs the breach of rebellion (the gospel).
5. Whosoever believes in Messiah may have eternal life (the gospel).
The Textus Receptus, following the Greek uncial manuscripts אc, Dc, K, L, and P, adds "wise" (NKJV, "to God who alone is wise"). This addition is absent in the Greek manuscripts א*, A, D*, F, G, and H*. It may be a scribal addition from Rom. 16:27. The UBS4 gives the shorter text an "A" rating (certain).
▣ "be honor and glory" This is basically the meaning of the OT term kabod (cf. v. 11). It is used several times in the book of Revelation along with other praises (cf. 4:9,11; 5:12,13; 7:12).
In the OT the most common Hebrew word for "glory" (kabod) was originally a commercial term referring to a pair of scales which meant "to be heavy." That which was heavy was valuable or had intrinsic worth. Often the concept of brightness was added to the word to express God's majesty (cf. Exod. 15:16; 24:17; Isa. 60:1-2). He alone is worthy and honorable. He is too brilliant for fallen mankind to behold (cf. Exod. 33:17-23; Isa. 6:5). God can only be truly known through Christ (cf. Jer. 1:14; Matt. 17:2; Heb. 1:3; James 2:1).
The term "glory" is somewhat ambiguous.
1. it may be parallel to "the righteousness of God"
2. it may refer to the "holiness" or "perfection" of God
3. it could refer to the image of God in which mankind was created (cf. Gen. 1:26-27; 5:1; 9:6), but which was later marred through rebellion (cf. Gen. 3:1-22)
It is first used of YHWH's presence with His people (cf. Exod. 16:7,10; Lev. 9:23; Num. 14:10).
▣ "forever and ever" This is literally "ages of the ages," an idiom for eternity (cf. Gal. 1:5; Phil. 4:20; 2 Tim. 4:18). This same term is used in v. 16 for "eternal life" and in v. 17 for "King eternal."
▣ "Amen" See Special Topic at 6:16.
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 1:18-20
18This command I entrust to you, Timothy, my son, in accordance with the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you fight the good fight, 19keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith. 20Among these are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan, so that they will be taught not to blaspheme.
1:18 "command" Paul uses two military terms in this chapter: (1) "command" (vv. 3,5,18) and (2) "fight the good fight" (v. 18; cf. 2 Cor. 10:3-6; Eph. 6:10-17). This paragraph (i.e., vv. 18-20) returns to the false teachers' theological issue of vv. 3-7.
This is a present middle indicative of paratithēmi. Paul entrusted the work of the gospel to Timothy (cf. 1 Tim. 6:20; 2 Tim. 1:14, just as Jesus had entrusted it to him, cf. 2 Tim. 1:12) to pass on to other faithful men (cf. 2 Tim. 2:2).
This term is used of
1. Jesus entrusting Himself to God in Luke 23:46
2. believers entrusting themselves to God in Acts 14:23
3. Paul entrusting believers to God in Acts 20:32
4. believers entrusting the new generation in 2 Tim. 2:2
▣ "in accordance with the prophecies previously made concerning you" Timothy received both spiritual giftedness and prophetic confirmation by the church in Lystra at the time of the laying on of hands (cf. 4:14). This phrase can mean (1) "made about you" (cf. NRSV) or (2) "led me to you" (cf. RSV).
▣ "fight the good fight" Often the Christian life is depicted as an athletic event or warfare, as here. The prophecies concerning Timothy enabled him to continually and courageously fight the good fight like Paul (present middle subjunctive, cf. 6:12; 2 Tim. 2:3-4; 4:7; 2 Cor. 10:3-6; Eph. 6:10-17).
1:19 "keeping faith and a good conscience" The good fight involves having and continuing to have (perfect active participle)
2. good conscience
Both of these are mentioned in 1:5. They are mentioned again because the loss of them is the very reason some members of the church have shipwrecked their faith. Faith could refer to either (1) Christian doctrine or (2) Christian living. Both are crucial.
We learn from 2 Tim. 2:17 that Hymenaeus was involved in doctrinal deviation (asserting the resurrection had already taken place) and godlessness (cf. 2 Tim. 2:16). The other named person, Alexander, can not be the silversmith mentioned in 2 Tim. 4:14 and Acts 19 because he was an enemy of the gospel.
Their rejection of truth and godliness was not due to deception, but willful rejection (aorist middle [deponent] participle of apōtheō, cf. Acts 7:39; 13:46; Rom. 11:1). See notes on conscience at 1:5.
▣ "which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regards to their faith" This is a difficult and controversial subject. See SPECIAL TOPIC: APOSTASY (APHISTĒMI) at 4:1. There are so many examples of apostasy in
1 Timothy (cf. 1:19; 4:1-2; 5:14-15; 6:9-10,21; also 2 Tim. 2:16-18; 3:1-8,13; 2 Pet. 2:1,20-21; Jude 4). See SPECIAL TOPIC: APOSTASY (APHISTĒMI) at 4:1.
1:20 "I have handed over to Satan" This is a very difficult phrase. Biblical precedents are
1. God using Satan to tempt Job (Job 2:6)
2. the Spirit thrusting Jesus into Satanic testing (Mark 1:12)
3. Paul turning a believer over to Satan in order to purify him so that he may ultimately be restored (1 Cor. 5:5)
Notice the stated purpose in v. 20 is to teach them not to blaspheme. It may refer to excommunication from the believing fellowship. God's temporal discipline is always redemptive. God uses Satan to test human beings (cf. Genesis 3; Job 1-2; Zechariah 3). In a sense, Satan is a tool of God. It is Satan's rebellion against God, his desire for independence, that makes him evil, not his tempting duties. See SPECIAL TOPIC: SATAN at 3:6.
The use of this phrase implies there is hope for these false teachers and their followers. However, the similar metaphor used for the false teachers in 4:2 implies there is no hope for them.
This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.
These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought provoking, not definitive.
1. Why does Paul assert his apostleship in a personal letter to Timothy?
2. What was the nature of the heresy at Ephesus?
3. How are Christians related to the Law of Moses?
4. How did Paul view his ministry? (v.12)
5. Why does he repeat his testimony so often? (v. 16)
6. What were Timothy's orders? (v. 18)
7. Did Hymenaeus and Alexander fall from grace? (v. 19)
8. What is a "good conscience?" (v. 19)
9. What does it mean to hand someone over to Satan? (v. 19)
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