1 Timothy 1
1 Timothy - An Exposition, with Practical Observations, of The First Epistle of St. Paul to Timothy
Hitherto Paul's epistles were directed to churches; now follow some to particular persons: two to Timothy, one to Titus, and another to Philemon - all three ministers. Timothy and Titus were evangelists, an inferior order to the apostles, as appears by Eph. 4:11, Some prophets, some apostles, some evangelists. Their commission and work was much the same with that of the apostles, to plant churches, and water the churches that were planted; and accordingly they were itinerants, as we find Timothy was. Timothy was first converted by Paul, and therefore he calls him his own son in the faith: we read of his conversion, Acts 16:3.
The scope of these two epistles is to direct Timothy how to discharge his duty as an evangelist at Ephesus, where he now was, and where Paul ordered him for some time to reside, to perfect the good work which he had begun there. As for the ordinary pastoral charge of that church, he had very solemnly committed it to the presbytery, as appears from Acts 20:28, where he charges the presbyters to feed the flock of God, which he had purchased with his own blood.
1 Timothy - INTRODUCTION TO THE FIRST EPISTLE TO TIMOTHY.
Four of the epistles of Paul are addressed to persons; one, that of Philemon, on personal matters; the other three to evangelists who had long labored under his directions, and who were charged at the time they were written with responsible trusts in which they needed his instructions. From the circumstance that Timothy and Titus were each exercising the care of the churches of a district these have been called the Pastoral Epistles. Yet the words Shepherd or Pastor, flock, and feed do not occur in them, as they do in Jn. 21:16; Acts 20:28; Eph. 4:11; 1Pe. 5:2, but at the same time the duties implied in those relations are strongly urged. They deal more intimately with church organization and church culture, than any of the other epistles.
If the generally accepted view of the date of these three epistles is received they have the common feature of belonging to the closing years of the apostle's life. The epistles of Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and Philemon, are the epistles of the captivity. On the hypothesis of Paul's release from the first imprisonment at Rome, in accordance with the universal statement of the early church, these epistles are held to have been written after his release, and after he had once more made a tour of the churches which he planted in Asia and Europe. Conybeare and Howson assign First Timothy to the date of A. D. 67. Certain allusions in these epistles can only be explained by assigning them a date as late as this. The apostle had, after a circuit of the churches of Asia Minor, come into Macedonia, and from thence sent back to Timothy, who had been left in charge of the work in the city and district of Ephesus, instructions and admonitions which would be of service to him in his duties. Well aware of the difficulties he would meet at Ephesus, of the factious spirit of certain false teachers, the epistle is written not only to show him how he ought to act, but in order to support him by its authority. It was probably written a little more than a year before the apostle's martyrdom at Rome.
Timothy, to whom it is directed, was his own "son in the gospel." From the Acts and the Epistles the outlines of his history are easily gathered. He was born in the Asiatic district of Lycaonia. His father was a Greek but his mother a Jewess. From his infancy he was instructed by his mother and grandmother, who names have been preserved, in the Hebrew scriptures, but had remained, probably at the demand of his father, uncircumcised. Converted by Paul, showing good gifts among the Lycaonian churches, Paul determined to make him a traveling assistant, and as it would aid much in enabling him to reach Jews, he had him circumcised. Indeed a Mamzer, a "bastard," as a child of a Jewish mother and heathen father was called by the Jews, would have had no access to the synagogue without circumcision.
From this time the allusions to Timothy in connection with Paul's work are so frequent that, did space permit, we could easily trace his course. Finally, we find him attending Paul to Jerusalem on the occasion when Paul was made a captive. During the imprisonment at Cæsarea he was probably absent, sent to the churches by Paul, but after the arrival at Rome, as we learn from "the Epistles of the Captivity," he again joined him. He had probably attended him on his last tour of the churches of Asia, was left behind at Ephesus, was there the recipient of two letters, which are the last allusions to him in the New Testament, unless he be "the angel of the church of Ephesus" named in Rev. 2:1, as some have supposed.
The genuineness of the Pastoral epistles was never questioned in the primitive church. They are the oldest translation of the New Testament, the Peshito, which belongs to the second century, are in the oldest canon of the New Testament books, the Muratori, which is assigned to the date of A. D. 170, are quoted by several of the Fathers of the Second Century, and are declared by Eusebius in his church history to be "universally received." Some objections have been raised to them by certain rationalistic German critics, such as Baur, but these objections have been fully answered. The space that our plan allows us will not permit me to consider these, further than to say that if they differ somewhat from the keen logic of Paul's earlier letters that is easily accounted for by the fact that they are personal, and are addressed to the most intimate of personal friends, to whom he writes in unreserved freedom and with the tenderest affection. The style of every writer differs according to the subjects treated and the persons addressed.
It only remains to be added that nothing has ever been written which contains, in the same space, so much that is indispensable to the preacher, the pastor, and to every church official. These classes may consider themselves especially addressed in the persons of Timothy and Titus, and they should study and reflect upon these letters until every charge, every truth and every admonition is written upon their hearts. — PNT
The Pastoral Epistles
of Paul the Apostle to Timothy and Titus
Genuineness. — The ancient Church never doubted of their being canonical and written by Paul. They are in the Peschito Syriac version of the second century. Muratori’s Fragment on the Canon of Scripture, at the close of the second century, acknowledges them as such. Irenaeus [Against Heresies, 1; 3.3.3; 4.16.3; 2.14.8; 3.11.1; 1.16.3], quotes 1Ti. 1:4, 1Ti. 1:9; 1Ti. 6:20; 2Ti. 4:9-11; Titus 3:10. Clement of Alexandria [Miscellanies, 2, p. 457; 3, pp. 534, 536; 1, p. 350], quotes 1Ti. 6:1, 1Ti. 6:20; Second Timothy, as to deaconesses; Titus 1:12. Tertullian [The Prescription against Heretics, 25; 6], quotes 1Ti. 6:20; 2Ti. 1:14; 1Ti. 1:18; 1Ti. 6:13, etc.; 2Ti. 2:2; Titus 3:10, Titus 3:11. Eusebius includes the three in the “universally acknowledged” Scriptures. Also Theophilus of Antioch [To Autolychus, 3.14], quotes 1Ti. 2:1, 1Ti. 2:2; Titus 3:1, and Caius (in Eusebius [Ecclesiastical History, 6.20]) recognizes their authenticity. Clement of Rome, in the end of the first century, in his first Epistle to the Corinthians , quotes 1Ti. 2:8. Ignatius, in the beginning of the second century, in Epistle to Polycarp, , alludes to 2Ti. 2:4. Polycarp, in the beginning of the second century [Epistle to the Philippians, 4], alludes to 2Ti. 2:4; and in the ninth chapter to 2Ti. 4:10. Hegisippus, in the end of the second century, in Eusebius [Ecclesiastical History, 3.32], alludes to 1Ti. 6:3, 1Ti. 6:20. Athenagoras, in the end of the second century, alludes to 1Ti. 6:16. Justin Martyr, in the middle of the second century [Dialogue with Trypho, 47], alludes to Titus 3:4. The Gnostic Marcion alone rejected these Epistles.
The Heresies Opposed in them form the transition stage from Judaism, in its ascetic form, to Gnosticism, as subsequently developed. The references to Judaism and legalism are clear (1Ti. 1:7; 1Ti. 4:3; Titus 1:10, Titus 1:14; Titus 3:9). Traces of beginning Gnosticism are also unequivocal (1Ti. 1:4). The Gnostic theory of a twofold principle from the beginning, evil as well as good, appears in germ in 1Ti. 4:3, etc. In 1Ti. 6:20 the term Gnosis (“science”) itself occurs. Another Gnostic error, namely, that “the resurrection is past,” is alluded to in 2Ti. 2:17, 2Ti. 2:18. The Judaism herein opposed is not that of the earlier Epistles, which upheld the law and tried to join it with faith in Christ for justification. It first passed into that phase of it which appears in the Epistle to the Colossians, whereby will-worship and angel-worship were superadded to Judaizing opinions. Then a further stage of the same evil appears in the Epistle to the Philippians (Phi. 3:2, Phi. 3:18, Phi. 3:19), whereby immoral practice accompanied false doctrine as to the resurrection (compare 2Ti. 2:18, with 1Co. 15:12, 1Co. 15:32, 1Co. 15:33). This descent from legality to superstition, and from superstition to godlessness, appears more matured in the references to it in these Pastoral Epistles. The false teachers now know not the true use of the law (1Ti. 1:7, 1Ti. 1:8), and further, have put away good conscience as well as the faith (1Ti. 1:19; 1Ti. 4:2); speak lies in hypocrisy, are corrupt in mind, and regard godliness as a means of earthly gain (1Ti. 6:5; Titus 1:11); overthrow the faith by heresies eating as a canker, saying the resurrection is past (2Ti. 2:17, 2Ti. 2:18), leading captive silly women, ever learning yet never knowing the truth, reprobate as Jannes and Jambres (2Ti. 3:6, 2Ti. 3:8), defiled, unbelieving, professing to know God, but in works denying Him, abominable, disobedient, reprobate (Titus 1:15, Titus 1:16). This description accords with that in the Catholic Epistles of St. John and St. Peter, and, in the Epistle to the Hebrews. This fact proves the later date of these Pastoral Epistles as compared with Paul’s earlier Epistles. The Judaism reprobated herein is not that of an earlier date, so scrupulous as to the law; it was now tending to immortality of practice. On the other hand, the Gnosticism opposed in these Epistles is not the anti-Judaic Gnosticism of a later date, which arose as a consequence of the overthrow of Judaism by the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, but it was the intermediate phase between Judaism and Gnosticism, in which the Oriental and Greek elements of the latter were in a kind of amalgam with Judaism, just prior to the overthrow of Jerusalem.
The Directions as to Church Governors and ministers, “bishop-elders, and deacons,” are such as were natural for the apostle, in prospect of his own approaching removal, to give to Timothy, the president of the Church at Ephesus, and to Titus, holding the same office in Crete, for securing the due administration of the Church when he should be no more, and at a time when heresies were rapidly springing up. Compare his similar anxiety in his address to the Ephesian elders (Acts 20:21-30). The Presbyterate (elders; priest is a contraction from presbyter) and Diaconate had existed from the earliest times in the Church (Acts 6:3; Acts 11:30; Acts 14:23). Timothy and Titus, as superintendents or overseers (so bishop subsequently meant), were to exercise the same power in ordaining elders at Ephesus which the apostle had exercised in his general supervision of all the Gentile churches.
The Peculiarities of Modes of Thought and Expression, are such as the difference of subject and circumstances of those addressed and those spoken of in these Epistles, as compared with the other Epistles, would lead us to expect. Some of these peculiar phrases occur also in Galatians, in which, as in the Pastoral Epistles, he, with his characteristic fervor, attacks the false teachers. Compare 1Ti. 2:6; Titus 2:14, “gave Himself for us,” with Gal. 1:4; 1Ti. 1:17; 2Ti. 4:18, “for ever and ever,” with Gal. 1:5 : “before God,” 1Ti. 5:21; 1Ti. 6:13; 2Ti. 2:14; 2Ti. 4:1, with Gal. 1:20 : “a pillar,” 1Ti. 3:15, with Gal. 2:9 : “mediator,” 1Ti. 2:5, with Gal. 3:20 : “in due season,” 1Ti. 2:6; 1Ti. 6:15; Titus 1:3 with Gal. 6:9.
Time and Place of Writing. — The First Epistle to Timothy was written not long after Paul had left Ephesus for Macedon (1Ti. 1:3). Now, as Timothy was in Macedon with Paul (2Co. 1:1) on the occasion of Paul’s having passed from Ephesus into that country, as recorded, Acts 19:22; Acts 20:1, whereas the First Epistle to Timothy contemplates a longer stay of Timothy in Ephesus, Mosheim supposes that Paul was nine months of the “three years” stay mostly at Ephesus (Acts 20:31) in Macedonia, and elsewhere (perhaps Crete), (the mention of only “three months” and “two years,” Acts 19:8, Acts 19:10, favors this, the remaining nine months being spent elsewhere); and that during these nine months Timothy, in Paul’s absence, superintended the Church of Ephesus. It is not likely that Ephesus and the neighboring churches should have been left long without church officers and church organization, rules respecting which are giver in this Epistle. Moreover, Timothy was still “a youth” (1Ti. 4:12), which he could hardly be called after Paul’s first imprisonment, when he must have been at least thirty-four years of age. Lastly, in Acts 20:25, Paul asserts his knowledge that the Ephesians should not all see his face again, so that 1Ti. 1:3 will thus refer to his sojourn at Ephesus, recorded in Acts 19:10, whence he passed into Macedonia. But the difficulty is to account for the false teachers having sprung up almost immediately (according to this theory) after the foundation of the Church. However, his visit recorded in Acts 19:1-41 was not his first visit. The beginning of the Church at Ephesus was probably made at his visit a year before (Acts 18:19-21). Apollos, Aquila and Priscilla, carried on the work (Acts 18:24-26). Thus, as to the sudden growth of false teachers, there was time enough for their springing up, especially considering that the first converts at Ephesus were under Apollos’ imperfect Christian teachings at first, imbued as he was likely to be with the tenets of Philo of Alexandria, Apollos’ native town, combined with John the Baptist’s Old Testament teachings (Acts 18:24-26). Besides Ephesus, from its position in Asia, its notorious voluptuousness and sorcery (Acts 19:18, Acts 19:19), and its lewd worship of Diana (answering to the Phoenician Ashtoreth), was likely from the first to tinge Christianity in some of its converts with Oriental speculations and Asiatic licentiousness of practices. Thus the phenomenon of the phase of error presented in this Epistle, being intermediate between Judaism and later Gnosticism (see above), would be such as might occur at an early period in the Ephesian Church, as well as later, when we know it had open “apostles” of error (Rev. 2:2, Rev. 2:6), and Nicolaitans infamous in practice. As to the close connection between this First Epistle and the Second Epistle (which must have been written at the close of Paul’s life), on which Alford relies for his theory of making the First Epistle also written at the close of Paul’s life, the similarity of circumstances, the person addressed being one and the same, and either in Ephesus at the time, or at least connected with Ephesus as its church overseer, and having heretics to contend with of the same stamp as in the First Epistle, would account for the connection. There is not so great identity of tone as to compel us to adopt the theory that some years could not have elapsed between the two Epistles.
However, all these arguments against the later date may be answered. This First Epistle may refer not to the first organization of the Church under its bishops, or elders and deacons, but to the moral qualifications laid down at a later period for those officers when scandals rendered such directions needful. Indeed, the object for which he left Timothy at Ephesus he states (1Ti. 1:3) to be, not to organize the Church for the first time, but to restrain the false teachers. The directions as to the choice of fit elders and deacons refer to the filling up of vacancies, not to their first appointment. The fact of there existing an institution for Church widows implies an established organization. As to Timothy’s “youth,” it may be spoken of comparatively young compared with Paul, now “the aged” (Phm. 1:9), and with some of the Ephesian elders, senior to Timothy their overseer. As to Acts 20:25, we know not but that “all” of the elders of Ephesus called to Miletus “never saw Paul’s face” afterwards, as he “knew” (doubtless by inspiration) would be the case, which obviates the need of Alford’s lax view, that Paul was wrong in this his positive inspired anticipation (for such it was, not a mere boding surmise as to the future). Thus he probably visited Ephesus again (1Ti. 1:3; 2Ti. 1:18; 2Ti. 4:20, he would hardly have been at Miletum, so near Ephesus, without visiting Ephesus) after his first imprisonment in Rome, though all the Ephesian elders whom he had addressed formerly at Miletus did not again see him. The general similarity of subject and style, and of the state of the Church between the two Epistles, favors the view that they were near one another in date. Also, against the theory of the early date is the difficulty of defining, when, during Paul’s two or three years’ stay at Ephesus, we can insert an absence of Paul from Ephesus long enough for the requirements of the case, which imply a lengthened stay and superintendence of Timothy at Ephesus (see, however, 1Ti. 3:14, on the other side) after having been “left” by Paul there. Timothy did not stay there when Paul left Ephesus (Acts 19:22; Acts 20:1; 2Co. 1:1). In 1Ti. 3:14, Paul says, “I write, hoping to come unto thee shortly,” but on the earlier occasion of his passing from Ephesus to Macedon he had no such expectation, but had planned to spend the summer in Macedon, and the winter in Corinth, (1Co. 16:6). The expression “Till I come” (1Ti. 4:13), implies that Timothy was not to leave his post till Paul should arrive; this and the former objection, however, do not hold good against Mosheim’s theory. Moreover, Paul in his farewell address to the Ephesian elders prophetically anticipates the rise of false teachers hereafter of their own selves; therefore this First Epistle, which speaks of their actual presence at Ephesus, would naturally seem to be not prior, but subsequent, to the address, that is, will belong to the later date assigned. In the Epistle to the Ephesians no notice is taken of the Judaeo-Gnostic errors, which would have been noticed had they been really in existence; however, they are alluded to in the contemporaneous sister Epistle to Colossians (Col. 2:1-23).
Whatever doubt must always remain as to the date of the First Epistle, there can be hardly any as to that of the Second Epistle. In 2Ti. 4:13, Paul directs Timothy to bring the books and cloak which the apostle had left at Troas. Assuming that the visit to Troas referred to is the one mentioned in Acts 20:5-7, it will follow that the cloak and parchments lay for about seven years at Troas, that being the time that elapsed between the visit and Paul’s first imprisonment at Rome: a very unlikely supposition, that he should have left either unused for so long. Again, when, during his first Roman imprisonment, he wrote to the Colossians (Col. 4:14) and Philemon (Phm. 1:24), Demas was with him; but when he was writing 2Ti. 4:10, Demas had forsaken him from love of this world, and gone to Thessalonica. Again, when he wrote to the Ephesians, Colossians, Philippians, and Philemon, he had good hopes of a speedy liberation; but here in 2Ti. 4:6-8, he anticipates immediate death, having been at least once already tried (2Ti. 4:16). Again, he is in this Epistle represented as in closer confinement than he was when writing those former Epistles in his first imprisonment (even in the Philippians, which represent him in greater uncertainty as to his life, he cherished the hope of soon being delivered, Phi. 2:24; 2Ti. 1:16-18; 2Ti. 2:9; 2Ti. 4:6-8, 2Ti. 4:16). Again (2Ti. 4:20), he speaks of having left Trophimus sick at Miletum. This could not have been on the occasion, Acts 20:15. For Trophimus was with Paul at Jerusalem shortly afterwards (Acts 21:29). Besides, he would thus be made to speak of an event six or seven years after its occurrence, as a recent event: moreover, Timothy was, on that occasion of the apostle being at Miletum, with Paul, and therefore needed not to be informed of Trophimus’ sickness there (Acts 20:4-17). Also, the statement (2Ti. 4:20), “Erastus abode at Corinth,” implies that Paul had shortly before been at Corinth, and left Erastus there; but Paul had not been at Corinth for several years before his first imprisonment, and in the interval Timothy had been with him, so that he did not need to write subsequently about that visit. He must therefore have been liberated after his first imprisonment (indeed, Heb. 13:23, Heb. 13:24, expressly proves that the writer was in Italy and at liberty), and resumed his apostolic journeyings, and been imprisoned at Rome again, whence shortly before his death he wrote Second Timothy.
Eusebius [Chronicles, Anno 2083] (beginning October, a.d. 67), says, “Nero, to his other crimes, added the persecution of Christians: under him the apostles Peter and Paul consummated their martyrdom at Rome.” So Jerome [On Illustrious Men], “In the fourteenth year of Nero, Paul was beheaded at Rome for Christ’s sake, on the same day as Peter, and was buried on the Ostian Road, in the thirty-seventh year after the death of our Lord.” Alford reasonably conjectures the Pastoral Epistles were written near this date. The interval was possibly filled up (so Clement of Rome states that Paul preached as far as “to the extremity of the west”) by a journey to Spain (Rom. 15:24, Rom. 15:28), according to his own original intention. Muratori’s Fragment on the Canon of Scripture (about a.d. 170) also alleges Paul’s journey into Spain. So Eusebius, Chrysostom, and Jerome. Be that as it may, he seems shortly before his second imprisonment to have visited Ephesus, where a new body of elders governed the Church (Acts 20:25), say in the latter end of a.d. 66, or beginning of 67. Supposing him thirty at his conversion, he would now be upwards of sixty, and older in constitution than in years, through continual hardship. Even four years before he called himself “Paul the aged” (Phm. 1:9).
From Ephesus he went into Macedonia (1Ti. 1:3). He may have written the First Epistle to Timothy from that country. But his use of “went,” not “came,” in 1Ti. 1:3, “When I went into Macedonia,” implies he was not there when writing. Wherever he was, he writes uncertain how long he may be detained from coming to Timothy (1Ti. 3:14, 1Ti. 3:15). Birks shows the probability that he wrote from Corinth, between which city and Ephesus the communication was rapid and easy. His course, as on both former occasions, was from Macedon to Corinth. He finds a coincidence between 1Ti. 2:11-14, and 1Co. 14:34, as to women being silent in Church; and 1Ti. 5:17, 1Ti. 5:18, and 1Co. 9:8-10, as to the maintenance of ministers, on the same principle as the Mosaic law, that the ox should not be muzzled that treadeth out the corn; and 1Ti. 5:19, 1Ti. 5:20, and 2Co. 13:1-4, as to charges against elders. It would be natural for the apostle in the very place where these directions had been enforced, to reproduce them in his letter.
The date of the Epistle to Titus must depend on that assigned to First Timothy, with which it is connected in subject, phraseology, and tone. There is no difficulty in the Epistle to Titus, viewed by itself, in assigning it to the earlier date, namely, before Paul’s first imprisonment. In Acts 18:18, Acts 18:19, Paul, in journeying from Corinth to Palestine, for some cause or other landed at Ephesus. Now we find (Titus 3:13) that Apollos in going from Ephesus to Corinth was to touch at Crete (which seems to coincide with Apollos’ journey from Ephesus to Corinth, recorded in Acts 18:24, Acts 18:27; Acts 19:1); therefore it is not unlikely that Paul may have taken Crete similarly on his way between Corinth and Ephesus; or, perhaps been driven out of his course to it in one of his three shipwrecks spoken of in 2Co. 11:25, 2Co. 11:26; this will account for his taking Ephesus on his way from Corinth to Palestine, though out of his regular course. At Ephesus Paul may have written the Epistle to Titus [Hug]; there he probably met Apollos and gave the Epistle to Titus to his charge, before his departure for Corinth by way of Crete, and before the apostle’s departure for Jerusalem (Acts 18:19-21, Acts 18:24). Moreover, on Paul’s way back from Jerusalem and Antioch, he traveled some time in Upper Asia (Acts 19:1); and it was then, probably, that his intention to “winter at Nicopolis” was realized, there being a town of that name between Antioch and Tarsus, lying on Paul’s route to Galatia (Titus 3:12). Thus, First Timothy will, in this theory, be placed two and a half years later (Acts 20:1; compare 1Ti. 1:3).
Alford’s argument for classing the Epistle to Titus with First Timothy, as written after Paul’s first Roman imprisonment, stands or falls with his argument for assigning First Timothy to that date. Indeed, Hug’s unobjectionable argument for the earlier date of the Epistle to Titus, favors the early date assigned to First Timothy, which is so much akin to it, if other arguments be not thought to counterbalance this. The Church of Crete had been just founded (Titus 1:5), and yet the same heresies are censured in it as in Ephesus, which shows that no argument, such as Alford alleges against the earlier date of First Timothy, can be drawn from them (Titus 1:10, Titus 1:11, Titus 1:15, Titus 1:16; Titus 3:9, Titus 3:11). But vice versa, if, as seems likely from the arguments adduced, the First Epistle to Timothy be assigned to the later date, the Epistle to Titus must, from similarity of style, belong to the same period. Alford traces Paul’s last journey before his second imprisonment thus: To Crete (Titus 1:5), Miletus (2Ti. 4:20), Colosse (fulfilling his intention, Phm. 1:22), Ephesus (1Ti. 1:3; 2Ti. 1:18), from which neighborhood he wrote the Epistle to Titus; Troas, Macedonia, Corinth (2Ti. 4:20), Nicopolis (Titus 3:12) in Epirus, where he had intended to winter; a place in which, as being a Roman colony, he would be free from tumultuary violence, and yet would be more open to a direct attack from foes in the metropolis, Rome. Being known in Rome as the leader of the Christians, he was probably [Alford] arrested as implicated in causing the fire in a.d. 64, attributed by Nero to the Christians, and was sent to Rome by the Duumvirs of Nicopolis. There he was imprisoned as a common malefactor (2Ti. 2:9); his Asiatic friends deserted him, except Onesiphorus (2Ti. 1:16). Demas, Crescens, and Titus, left him. Tychicus he had sent to Ephesus. Luke alone remained with him (2Ti. 4:10-12). Under the circumstances he writes the Second Epistle to Timothy, most likely while Timothy was at Ephesus (2Ti. 2:17; compare 1Ti. 1:20; 2Ti. 4:13), begging him to come to him before winter (2Ti. 4:21), and anticipating his own execution soon (2Ti. 4:6). Tychicus was perhaps the bearer of the Second Epistle (2Ti. 4:12). His defense was not made before the emperor, for the latter was then in Greece (2Ti. 4:16, 2Ti. 4:17). Tradition represents that he died by the sword, which accords with the fact that his Roman citizenship would exempt him from torture; probably late in a.d. 67 or a.d. 68, the last year of Nero.
Timothy is first mentioned, Acts 16:1, as dwelling in Lystra (not Derbe, compare Acts 20:4). His mother was a Jewess named Eunice (2Ti. 1:5); his father, “a Greek” (that is, a Gentile). As Timothy is mentioned as “a disciple” in Acts 16:1, he must have been converted before, and this by Paul (1Ti. 1:2), probably at his former visit to Lystra (Acts 14:6); at the same time, probably, that his Scripture-loving mother, Eunice, and grandmother, Lois, were converted to Christ from Judaism (2Ti. 3:14, 2Ti. 3:15). Not only the good report given as to him by the brethren of Lystra, but also his origin, partly Jewish, partly Gentile, adapted him specially for being Paul’s assistant in missionary work, laboring as the apostle did in each place, firstly among the Jews, and then among the Gentiles. In order to obviate Jewish prejudices, he first circumcised him. He seems to have accompanied Paul in his tour through Macedonia; but when the apostle went forward to Athens, Timothy and Silas remained in Berea. Having been sent back by Paul to visit the Thessalonian Church (1Th. 3:2), he brought his report of it to the apostle at Corinth (1Th. 3:6). Hence we find his name joined with Paul’s in the addresses of both the Epistles to Thessalonians, which were written at Corinth. We again find him “ministering to” Paul during the lengthened stay at Ephesus (Acts 19:22). Thence he was sent before Paul into Macedonia and to Corinth (1Co. 4:17; 1Co. 16:10). He was with Paul when he wrote the Second Epistle to Corinthians (2Co. 1:1); and the following winter in Corinth, when Paul sent from thence his Epistle to the Romans (Rom. 16:21). On Paul’s return to Asia through Macedonia, he went forward and waited for the apostle at Troas (Acts 20:3-5). Next we find him with Paul during his imprisonment at Rome, when the apostle wrote the Epistles to Colossians (Col. 1:1), Philemon (Phm. 1:1), and Philippians (Phi. 1:1). He was imprisoned and set at liberty about the same time as the writer of the Hebrews (Heb. 13:23). In the Pastoral Epistles, we find him mentioned as left by the apostle at Ephesus to superintend the Church there (1Ti. 1:3). The last notice of him is in the request which Paul makes to him (2Ti. 4:21) to “come before winter,” that is about a.d. 67 [Alford]. Eusebius [Ecclesiastical History, 3.42], reports that he was first bishop of Ephesus; and [Nicophorus, Ecclesiastical History, 3.11], represents that he died by martyrdom. If then, St. John, as tradition represents, resided and died in that city, it must have been at a later period. Paul himself ordained or consecrated him with laying on of his own hands, and those of the presbytery, in accordance with prophetic intimations given respecting him by those possessing the prophetic gift (1Ti. 1:18; 1Ti. 4:14; 2Ti. 1:6). His self-denying character is shown by his leaving home at once to accompany the apostle, and submitting to circumcision for the Gospel’s sake; and also by his abstemiousness (noted in 1Ti. 5:23) notwithstanding his bodily infirmities, which would have warranted a more generous diet. Timidity and a want of self-confidence and boldness in dealing with the difficulties of his position, seem to have been a defect in his otherwise beautiful character as a Christian minister (1Co. 16:10; 1Ti. 4:12; 2Ti. 1:7).
The Design of the First Epistle was: (1) to direct Timothy to charge the false teachers against continuing to teach other doctrine than that of the Gospel (1Ti. 1:3-20; compare Rev. 2:1-6); (2) to give him instructions as to the orderly conducting of worship, the qualifications of bishops and deacons, and the selection of widows who should, in return for Church charity, do appointed service (1 Timothy 2:1-6:2); (3) to warn against covetousness, a sin prevalent at Ephesus, and to urge to good works (1Ti. 6:3-19). — JFB TOC
1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, [which] [is] our hope; Acts 9:15; Col 1:27; 2 Unto Timothy, [my] own son in the faith: Grace, mercy, [and] peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord. Acts 16:1; 1Thess 3:2; 1Cor 4:17; Gal 1:3; 1Pet 1:2; 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, Acts 20:1; 4 Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: [so do]. 1Tim 4:7; 1Tim 6:20; 2Tim 2:16; Titus 1:14; Titus 3:9; 1Tim 6:4;
5 Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and [of] a good conscience, and [of] faith unfeigned: Rom 13:8; Gal 5:14; 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. 8 But we know that the law [is] good, if a man use it lawfully; Rom 7:12; 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, Gal 5:23; 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. 1Tim 6:15; 1Thess 2:4;
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. Acts 8:3; Acts 9:1; Acts 22:4; Acts 26:9; 1Cor 15:9; Gal 1:13; John 9:39; John 9:41; Acts 3:17; 14 And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. 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. Matt 9:13; Mark 2:17; Luke 5:32; Luke 19:10; 1John 3:5; 4:14; 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.
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; 1Tim 6:12; 19 Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck: 1Tim 3:9; 20 Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme. 2Tim 2:17; 2Tim 4:14; 1Tim 5:5; TOC
1 Timothy 1 - Paul’s salutation to Timothy, 1Ti. 1:1, 1Ti. 1:2. For what purpose he had left him at Ephesus, 1Ti. 1:3. What the false apostles taught in opposition to the truth, 1Ti. 1:4-7. The true use of the law, 1Ti. 1:8-11. He thanks God for his own conversion, and describes his former state, 1Ti. 1:12-17. Exhorts Timothy to hold fast faith and a good conscience, and speaks of Hymeneus and Alexander who had made shipwreck of their faith, 1Ti. 1:18-20. — Clarke
1 Timothy 1 - After the inscription (1Ti. 1:1, 1Ti. 1:2) we have, I. The charge given to Timothy (1Ti. 1:3, 1Ti. 1:4). II. The true end of the law (1Ti. 1:5-11), where he shows that it is entirely agreeable to the gospel. III. He mentions his own call to be an apostle, for which he expresses his thankfulness (1Ti. 1:12-16) IV. His doxology (1Ti. 1:17). V. A renewal of the charge to Timothy (1Ti. 1:18). And of Hymenaeus and Alexander (1Ti. 1:19, 1Ti. 1:20). — Henry
Jesus Christ is a Christian's hope; all our hopes of eternal life are built upon him; and Christ is in us the hope of glory. The apostle seems to have been the means of Timothy's conversion; who served with him in his ministry, as a dutiful son with a loving father. That which raises questions, is not for edifying; that which gives occasion for doubtful disputes, pulls down the church rather than builds it up. Godliness of heart and life can only be kept up and increased, by the exercise of faith in the truths and promises of God, through Jesus Christ.
Whatever tends to weaken love to God, or love to the brethren, tends to defeat the end of the commandment. The design of the gospel is answered, when sinners, through repentance towards God and faith in Jesus Christ, are brought to exercise Christian love. And as believers were righteous persons in God's appointed way, the law was not against them. But unless we are made righteous by faith in Christ, really repenting and forsaking sin, we are yet under the curse of the law, even according to the gospel of the blessed God, and are unfit to share the holy happiness of heaven.
The apostle knew that he would justly have perished, if the Lord had been extreme to mark what was amiss; and also if his grace and mercy had not been abundant to him when dead in sin, working faith and love to Christ in his heart. This is a faithful saying; these are true and faithful words, which may be depended on, That the Son of God came into the world, willingly and purposely to save sinners. No man, with Paul's example before him, can question the love and power of Christ to save him, if he really desires to trust in him as the Son of God, who once died on the cross, and now reigns upon the throne of glory, to save all that come to God through him. Let us then admire and praise the grace of God our Saviour; and ascribe to the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, three Persons in the unity of the Godhead, the glory of all done in, by, and for us.
The ministry is a warfare against sin and Satan; carried on under the Lord Jesus, who is the Captain of our salvation. The good hopes others have had of us, should stir us up to duty. And let us be upright in our conduct in all things. The design of the highest censures in the primitive church, was, to prevent further sin, and to reclaim the sinner. May all who are tempted to put away a good conscience, and to abuse the gospel, remember that this is the way to make shipwreck of faith also. — MHCC
Here is, I. The inscription of the epistle, from whom it is sent: Paul an apostle of Jesus Christ, constituted an apostle by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ. His credentials were unquestionable. He had not only a commission, but a commandment, not only from God our Saviour, but from Jesus Christ: he was a preacher of the gospel of Christ, and a minister of the kingdom of Christ. Observe, God is our Saviour. - Jesus Christ, who is our hope. Observe, Jesus Christ is a Christian's hope; our hope is in him, all our hope of eternal life is built upon him; Christ is in us the hope of glory, Col. 1:27. He calls Timothy his own son, because he had been an instrument of his conversion, and because he had been a son that served him, served with him in the gospel, Phi. 2:22. Timothy had not been wanting in the duty of a son to Paul, and Paul was not wanting in the care and tenderness of a father to him.
II. The benediction is, grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father. Some have observed that whereas in all the epistles to the churches the apostolical benediction is grace and peace, in these two epistles to Timothy and that to Titus it is grace, mercy, and peace: as if ministers had more need of God's mercy than other men. Ministers need more grace than others, to discharge their duty faithfully; and they need more mercy than others, to pardon what is amiss in them: and if Timothy, so eminent a minister, must be indebted to the mercy of God, and needed the increase and continuance of it, how much more do we ministers, in these times, who have so little of his excellent spirit!
III. Paul tells Timothy what was the end of his appointing him to this office: I besought thee to abide at Ephesus. Timothy had a mind to go with Paul, was loth to go from under his wing, but Paul would have it so; it was necessary for the public service: I besought thee, says he. Though he might assume an authority to command him, yet for love's sake he chose rather to beseech him. Now his business was to take care to fix both the ministers and the people of that church: Charge them that they teach no other doctrine than what they have received, that they do not add to the Christian doctrine, under pretence of improving it or making up the defects of it, that they do no alter it, but cleave to it as it was delivered to them. Observe, 1. Ministers must not only be charged to preach the true doctrine of the gospel, but charged to preach no other doctrine. If an angel from heaven preach any other doctrine, let him be anathema, Gal. 1:8. 2. In the times of the apostles there were attempts made to corrupt Christianity (we are not as many, who corrupt the word, 2Co. 2:17), otherwise this charge to Timothy might have been spared. 3. He must not only see to it that he did not preach any other doctrine, but he must charge others that they might not add any thing of their own to the gospel, or take any thing from it, but that they preach it pure and uncorrupt. He must also take care to prevent their regarding fables, and endless genealogies, and strifes of words. This is often repeated in these two epistles (as 1Ti. 4:7; 1Ti. 6:4; 2Ti. 2:23), as well as in the epistle to Titus. As among the Jews there were some who brought Judaism into Christianity; so among the Gentiles there were some who brought paganism into Christianity. “Take heed of these,” says he, “watch against them, or they will be the corrupting and ruining of religion among you, for they minister questions rather than edifying.” That which ministers questions is not for edifying; that which gives occasion for doubtful disputes pulls down the church rather than builds it up. And I think, by a parity of reason, every thing else that ministers questions rather than godly edifying should be disclaimed and disregarded by us, such as an uninterrupted succession in the ministry from the apostles down to these times, the absolute necessity of episcopal ordination, and of the intention of the minister to the efficacy and validity of the sacraments he ministers. These are as bad as Jewish fables and endless genealogies, for they involve us in inextricable difficulties, and tend only to shake the foundations of a Christian's hope and to fill his mind with perplexing doubts and fears. Godly edifying is the end ministers should aim at in all their discourses, that Christians may be improving in godliness and growing up to a greater likeness to the blessed God. Observe, further, Godly edifying must be in faith: the gospel is the foundation on which we build; it is by faith that we come to God at first (Heb. 11:6), and it must be in the same way, and by the same principle of faith, that we must be edified. Again, Ministers should avoid, as much as may be, what will occasion disputes; and would do well to insist on the great and practical points of religion, about which there can be no disputes; for even disputes about great and necessary truths draw off the mind from the main design of Christianity, and eat out the vitals of religion, which consist in practice and obedience as well as in faith, that we may not hold the truth in unrighteousness, but may keep the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience.
Here the apostle instructs Timothy how to guard against the judaizing teachers, or others who mingled fables and endless genealogies with the gospel. He shows the use of the law, and the glory of the gospel.
I. He shows the end and uses of the law: it is intended to promote love, for love is the fulfilling of the law, Rom. 13:10.
1. The end of the commandment is charity, or love, Rom. 13:8. The main scope and drift of the divine law are to engage us to the love of God and one another; and whatever tends to weaken either our love to God or love to the brethren tends to defeat the end of the commandment: and surely the gospel, which obliges us to love our enemies, to do good to those who hate us (Mat. 5:44) does not design to lay aside or supersede a commandment the end whereof is love; so far from it that, on the other hand, we are told that though we had all advantages and wanted charity, we are but as sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal, 1Co. 13:1. By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you love one another, Jn. 13:35. Those therefore who boasted of their knowledge of the law, but used it only as a colour for the disturbance that they gave to the preaching of the gospel (under pretence of zeal for the law, dividing the church and distracting it), defeated that which was the very end of the commandment, and that is love, love out of a pure heart, a heart purified by faith, purified from corrupt affections. In order to the keeping up of holy love our hearts must be cleansed from all sinful love; our love must arise out of a good conscience, kept without offence. Those answer the end of the commandment who are careful to keep a good conscience, from a real belief of the truth of the word of God which enjoins it, here called a faith unfeigned. Here we have the concomitants of that excellency grace charity; they are three: - (1.) A pure heart; there it must be seated, and thence it must take its rise. (2.) A good conscience, in which we must exercise ourselves daily, that we may not only get it, but that we may keep it, Acts 24:16. (3.) Faith unfeigned must also accompany it, for it is love without dissimulation: the faith that works by it must be of the like nature, genuine and sincere. Now some who set up for teachers of the law swerved from the very end of the commandment: they set up for disputers, but their disputes proved vain jangling; they set up for teachers, but they pretended to teach others what they themselves did not understand. If the church be corrupted by such teachers, we must not think it strange, for we see from the beginning it was so. Observe, [1.] When persons, especially ministers, swerve from the great law of charity - the end of the commandment, they will turn aside to vain jangling; when a man misses his end and scope, it is no wonder that every step he takes is out of the way. [2.] Jangling, especially in religion, is vain; it is unprofitable and useless as to all that is good, and it is very pernicious and hurtful: and yet many people's religion consists of little else but vain jangling. [3.] Those who deal much in vain jangling are fond and ambitious to be teachers of others; they desire (that is, they affect) the office of teaching. [4.] It is too common for men to intrude into the office of the ministry when they are very ignorant of those things about which they are ton speak: they understand neither what they say nor whereof they affirm; and by such learned ignorance, no doubt, they edify their hearers very much!
2. The use of the law (1Ti. 1:8): The law is good, if a man use it lawfully. The Jews used it unlawfully, as an engine to divide the church, a cover to the malicious opposition they made to the gospel of Christ; they set it up for justification, and so used it unlawfully. We must not therefore think to set it aside, but use it lawfully, for the restraint of sin. The abuse which some have made of the law does not take away the use of it; but, when a divine appointment has been abused, call it back to its right use and take away the abuses, for the law is still very useful as a rule of life; though we are not under it as under a covenant of works, yet it is good to teach us what is sin and what is duty. It is not made for a righteous man, that is, it is not made for those who observe it; for, if we could keep the law, righteousness would be by the law (Gal. 3:21): but it is made for wicked persons, to restrain them, to check them, and to put a stop to vice and profaneness. It is the grace of God that changes men's hearts; but the terrors of the law may be of use to tie their hands and restrain their tongues. A righteous man does not want those restraints which are necessary for the wicked; or at least the law is not made primarily and principally for the righteous, but for sinners of all sorts, whether in a greater or less measure, 1Ti. 1:9, 1Ti. 1:10. In this black roll of sinners, he particularly mentions breaches of the second table, duties which we owe to our neighbour; against the fifth and sixth commandments, murderers of fathers and mothers, and manslayers; against the seventh, whoremongers, and those that defile themselves with mankind; against the eighth, men-stealers; against the ninth, liars and perjured persons; and then he closes his account with this, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine. Some understand this as an institution of a power in the civil magistrate to make laws against such notorious sinners as are specified, and to see those laws put in execution.
II. He shows the glory and grace of the gospel. Paul's epithets are expressive and significant; and frequently every one is a sentence: as here (1Ti. 1:11), According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God. Let us learn hence, 1. To call God blessed God, infinitely happy in the enjoyment of himself and his own perfections. 2. To call the gospel the glorious gospel, for so it is: much of the glory of God appears in the works of creation and providence, but much more in the gospel, where it shines in the face of Jesus Christ. Paul reckoned it a great honour put upon him, and a great favour done him, that this glorious gospel was committed to his trust; that is, the preaching of it, for the framing of it is not committed to any man or company of men in the world. The settling of the terms of salvation in the gospel of Christ is God's own work; but the publishing of it to the world is committed to the apostles and ministers. Note here, (1.) The ministry is a trust, for the gospel was committed unto this apostle; it is an office of trust as well as of power, and the former more than the latter; for this reason ministers are called stewards, 1Co. 4:1. (2.) It is a glorious trust, because the gospel committed to them is a glorious gospel; it is a trust of very great importance. God's glory is very much concerned in it. Lord, what a trust is committed to us! How much grace do we want, to be found faithful in this great trust!
Here the apostle, I. Returns thanks to Jesus Christ for putting him into the ministry. Observe, 1. It is Christ's work to put men into the ministry, Acts 26:16, Acts 26:17. God condemned the false prophets among the Jews in these words, I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied, Jer. 23:21. Ministers, properly speaking, cannot make themselves ministers; for it is Christ's work, as king and head, prophet and teacher, of his church. 2. Those whom he puts into the ministry he fits for it; whom he calls he qualifies. Those ministers who are no way fit for their work, nor have ability for it, are not of Christ's putting into the ministry, though there are different qualifications as to gifts and graces. 3. Christ gives not only ability, but fidelity, to those whom he puts into the ministry: He counted me faithful; and none are counted faithful but those whom he makes so. Christ's ministers are trusty servants, and they ought to be so, having so great a trust committed to them. 4. A call to the ministry is a great favour, for which those who are so called ought to give thanks to Jesus Christ: I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath put me into the ministry.
II. The more to magnify the grace of Christ in putting him into the ministry, he gives an account of his conversion.
1. What he was before his conversion: A blasphemer, a persecutor, and injurious. Saul breathed out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, Acts 9:1. He made havoc of the church, Acts 8:3. He was a blasphemer of God, a persecutor of the saints, and injurious to both. Frequently those who are designed for great and eminent services are left to themselves before their conversion, to fall into great wickedness, that the mercy of God may be the more glorified in their remission, and the grace of God in their regeneration. The greatness of sin is no bar to our acceptance with God, no, nor to our being employed for him, if it be truly repented of. Observe here, (1.) Blasphemy, persecution, and injuriousness, are very great and heinous sins, and those who are guilty of them are sinners before God exceedingly. To blaspheme God is immediately and directly to strike at God; to persecute his people is to endeavour to wound him through their sides; and to be injurious is to be like Ishmael, whose hand was against every one, and every one was against him; for such invade God's prerogative, and encroach upon the liberties of their fellow-creatures. (2.) True penitents, to serve a good purpose, will not be backward to own their former condition before they were brought home to God: this good apostle often confessed what his former life had been, as Acts 22:4; Acts 26:10, Acts 26:11.
2. The great favour of God to him: But I obtained mercy. This was a blessed but indeed, a great favour, that so notorious a rebel should find mercy with his prince.
(1.) If Paul had persecuted the Christians wilfully, knowing them to be the people of God, for aught I know he had been guilty of the unpardonable sin; but, because he did it ignorantly and in unbelief, he obtained mercy. Note, [1.] What we do ignorantly is a less crime than what we do knowingly; yet a sin of ignorance is a sin, for he that knew not his Master's will, but did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes, Luk. 12:48. Ignorance in some cases will extenuate a crime, though it do not take it away. [2.] Unbelief is at the bottom of what sinners do ignorantly; they do not believe God's threatenings, otherwise they could not do as they do. [3.] For these reasons Paul obtained mercy: But I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly, in unbelief. [4.] Here was mercy for a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an injurious person: “But I obtained mercy, I a blasphemer,” etc.
(2.) Here he takes notice of the abundant grace of Jesus Christ, 1Ti. 1:14. The conversion and salvation of great sinners are owing to the grace of Christ, his exceedingly abundant grace, even that grace of Christ which appears in his glorious gospel (1Ti. 1:15): This is a faithful saying, etc. Here we have the sum of the whole gospel, that Jesus Christ came into the world. The Son of God took upon him our nature, was made flesh, and dwelt among us, Jn. 1:14. He came into the world, not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance, Mat. 9:13. His errand into the world was to seek and find, and so save, those that were lost, Luk. 19:10. The ratification of this is that it is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation. It is good news, worthy of all acceptation; and yet not too good to be true, for it is a faithful saying. It is a faithful saying, and therefore worthy to be embraced in the arms of faith: it is worthy of all acceptation, and therefore to be received with holy love, which refers to the foregoing verse, where the grace of Christ is said to abound in faith and love. In the close of the verse Paul applies it to himself: Of whom I am chief. Paul was a sinner of the first rank; so he acknowledges himself to have been, for he breathed out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, etc., Acts 9:1, Acts 9:2. Persecutors are some of the worst of sinners: such a one Paul had been. Or, of whom I am chief, that is, of pardoned sinners I am chief. It is an expression of his great humility; he that elsewhere calls himself the least of all saints (Eph. 3:8) here calls himself the chief of sinners. Observe, [1.] Christ Jesus has come into the world; the prophecies concerning his coming are now fulfilled. [2.] He came to save sinners; he came to save those who could not save and help themselves. [3.] Blasphemers and persecutors are the chief of sinners, so Paul reckoned them. [4.] The chief of sinners may become the chief of saints; so this apostle was, for he was not a whit behind the very chief apostles (2Co. 11:5), for Christ came to save the chief of sinners. [5.] This is a very great truth, it is a faithful saying; these are true and faithful words, which may be depended on. [6.] It deserves to be received, to be believed by us all, for our comfort and encouragement.
(3.) The mercy which Paul found with God, notwithstanding his great wickedness before his conversion, he speaks of,
[1.] For the encouragement of others to repent and believe (1Ti. 1:16): For this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all long-suffering, for a pattern to those who should hereafter believe. It was an instance of the long-suffering of Christ that he would bear so much with one who had been so very provoking; and it was designed for a pattern to all others, that the greatest sinners might not despair of mercy with God. Note here, First, Our apostle was one of the first great sinners converted to Christianity. Secondly, He was converted, and obtained mercy, for the sake of others as well as of himself; he was a pattern to others. Thirdly, The Lord Jesus Christ shows great long-suffering in the conversion of great sinners. Fourthly, Those who obtain mercy believe on the Lord Jesus Christ; for without faith it is impossible to please God, Heb. 11:6. Fifthly, Those who believe on Christ believe on him to life everlasting; they believe to the saving of the soul, Heb. 10:39.
[2.] He mentions it to the glory of God having spoken of the mercy he had found with God, he could not go on with his letter without inserting a thankful acknowledgment of God's goodness to him: Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen. Observe, First, That grace which we have the comfort of God must have the glory of. Those who are sensible of their obligations to the mercy and grace of God will have their hearts enlarged in his praise. Here is praise ascribed to him, as the King eternal, immortal, invisible. Secondly, When we have found God good we must not forget to pronounce him great; and his kind thoughts of us must not at all abate our high thoughts of him, but rather increase them. God had taken particular cognizance of Paul, and shown him mercy, and taken him into communion with himself, and yet he calls him the King eternal, etc. God's gracious dealings with us should fill us with admiration of his glorious attributes. He is eternal, without beginning of days, or end of life, or change of time. He is the Ancient of days, Dan. 7:9. He is immortal, and the original of immortality; he only has immortality (1Ti. 6:16), for he cannot die. He is invisible, for he cannot be seen with mortal eyes, dwelling in the light to which no man can approach, whom no man hath seen nor can see, 1Ti. 6:16. He is the only wise God (Jud. 1:25); he only is infinitely wise, and the fountain of all wisdom. “To him be glory for ever and ever,” or, “Let me be for ever employed in giving honour and glory to him, as the thousands of thousands do,” Rev. 5:12, Rev. 5:13.
Here is the charge he gives to Timothy to proceed in his work with resolution, 1Ti. 1:18. Observe here, The gospel is a charge committed to the ministers of it; it is committed to their trust, to see that it be duly applied according to the intent and meaning of it, and the design of its great Author. It seems, there had been prophecies before concerning Timothy, that he should be taken into the ministry, and should prove eminent in the work of the ministry; this encouraged Paul to commit this charge to him. Observe, 1. The ministry is a warfare, it is a good warfare against sin and Satan: and under the banner of the Lord Jesus, who is the Captain of our salvation (Heb. 2:10), and in his cause, and against his enemies, ministers are in a particular manner engaged. 2. Ministers must war this good warfare, must execute their office diligently and courageously, notwithstanding oppositions and discouragements. 3. The prophecies which went before concerning Timothy are here mentioned as a motive to stir him up to a vigorous and conscientious discharge of his duty; so the good hopes that others have entertained concerning us should excite us to our duty: That thou by them mightest war a good warfare. 4. We must hold both faith and a good conscience: Holding faith and a good conscience, 1Ti. 1:19. Those that put away a good conscience will soon make shipwreck of faith. Let us live up to the directions of a renewed enlightened conscience, and keep conscience void of offence (Acts 24:16), a conscience not debauched by any vice or sin, and this will be a means of preserving us sound in the faith; we must look to the one as well a the other, for the mystery of the faith must be held in a pure conscience, 1Ti. 3:9. As for those who had made shipwreck of the faith, he specifies two, Hymeneus and Alexander, who had made a profession of the Christian religion, but had quitted that profession; and Paul had delivered them to Satan, had declared them to belong to the kingdom of Satan, and, as some think, had, by an extraordinary power, delivered them to be terrified or tormented by Satan, that they might learn not to blaspheme not to contradict or revile the doctrine of Christ and the good ways of the Lord. Observe, The primary design of the highest censure in the primitive church was to prevent further sin and to reclaim the sinner. In this case it was for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit might be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus, 1Co. 5:5. Observe, (1.) Those who love the service and work of Satan are justly delivered over to the power of Satan: Whom I have delivered over to Satan. (2.) God can, if he please, work by contraries: Hymeneus and Alexander are delivered to Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme, when one would rather think they would learn of Satan to blaspheme the more. (3.) Those who have put away a good conscience, and made shipwreck of faith, will not stick at any thing, blasphemy not excepted. (4.) Therefore let us hold faith and a good conscience, if we would keep clear of blasphemy; for, if we once let go our hold of these, we do not know where we shall stop. — Henry