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Bible Commentaries

William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament

1 Timothy 1

 

 

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Verse 1

PROLOGUE

We now reach a department of the Pauline Scriptures in some respects by far the most important of all; i.e., in the fact that while the others have been addressed to the membership, these are directed to the preachers. While they constitute an awful admonition and a solemn warning to the backslidden pastors of the fallen Churches, they turn a flood-tide of holy inspiration on the grand army of preachers, male and female, whom God is raising up—i.e., the holiness movement—to carry the gospel into every nation, call out the elect of every tribe, and thus get the Bride ready for the return of her Divine Spouse. Paul arrived at Rome during his first imprisonment, in February, A.D. 61. Having preached two years in his hired house, we find him in the barracks guarded by the soldiers and preaching daily to the Praetorian army, February, A.D. 63. As there were no charges against him criminal in Roman law, having been acquitted on trial, he resumes his evangelistic peregrinations, returning to Asia, and preaching to the different Churches till about 65. Do not forget that your post-scripts in E.V. following these epistles are all utterly spurious, not a single one of them appearing in the original. The one following this epistle says it was written at Laodicea, an Asiatic city not far from Ephesus; whereas, along with Dean Alford and other eminent critics, I am satisfied it was written in Europe.


Verse 2

2. To Timothy, a beloved child in the faith.Mark the parental tenderness of Paul; instead of calling him his son, he designates him a beloved child.


Verse 3

3. As I call thee to abide in Ephesus, going into Macedonia.I am satisfied Paul never wrote this letter when over in Asia while Timothy was with him, as he left him there; but after crossing the Aegan Sea, and landing in Europe, he dictated it to Luke while stopping and preaching in some of those Macedonian Churches; i.e., Philippi, Thessalonica, or Berea. In order that you may command certain ones not to teach heterodoxy.

Orthodoxy is the simple, unsophisticated Word of God. Everything else is heterodox. These words have been awfully abused by unspiritual preachers, and frequently given even a reverse interpretation. The preachers who confine themselves to the pure and unadulterated Word are this day like angels’ visits.


Verse 4

ARGUMENT 1

FABLES AND SUCCESSION

4. And not to give heed to fables.These “fables” include all human creeds and uninspired authorities. Of course, all books harmonical with the Bible and expository of it, are perfectly right in their place. They claim nothing new and no authority, but simply refer you to the Word of God, the only authority in the universe. Hence, all talk about human authority is heterodoxical and nonsensical, as there is no such thing in the universe. Hence, Paul warns us all to give no heed to fables: i.e., uninspired authorities, human creeds as such independently of God’s plain and simple Word, and endless genealogies. Fallen Judaism set great store on genealogies. Every priest must trace his lineage back to Aaron, before he has a right to officiate. Roman Catholics and many Protestant Churches hang their claims to orthodoxy on apostolical, patriarchal, episcopal, or baptismal succession. Millions of people have been humbugged on those lines, and proselyted to Romanism or some other pretentious ecclesiasticism. It is a trick of Satan from beginning to end to detract attention from Christ to humanisms, and drag you into hell. Suppose Romanism can trace organic succession back to Peter and Paul, and it turns out God had the organization then, and Satan has it now. Look in the New Testament, and see if you can find a trace of the pompous and ponderous organization of Romanism at the present day. You know you can not.

This whole problem is a human conceit, fabricated by the enemy to sidetrack and ruin souls. I heard much more preaching on it during my unregenerate life than on salvation. Whole communities were revolutionized and humbugged in this way. There is simply nothing in it. The Divine Ecclesia is the Church of God, and the only one. It simply means the “called out,” and consists of the people who have heard the call of the Holy Ghost, come out of the world, and separated themselves unto God, to live and die for him alone. Hence, there is but one fact to be settled in the solution of all this vexed Church question, Are you a child of God? Have you been born from above? Does the Spirit himself bear witness that you are a child of God? Are you walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless? If all this is true, you are regenerated and sanctified. Hence, you need not trouble yourself about the generations of bygone centuries. Every tub stands on its own bottom. You need not go on a wild-goose chase to Rome and Constantinople. You need not trouble the graveyards, and disturb the tombs of the patriarchs, ransacking the archives of the Middle Ages, to see that no link is missing in the chain of your apostolic succession. There is but one link in the chain, and that doesn’t reach back, but straight up to heaven. It identifies you with your Heavenly Father, and confirms your adoption into the family of God, which is the only true Church in earth and heaven. No wonder Paul gave this rigid admonition to Timothy and all other preachers, not to give heed to fables and genealogies, which present controversies rather than the economy of God, which is in faith.How Satan has employed millions of demons manufacturing these silly sophistries in hell, and running up great trainloads over the black valley railroad to supply the preachers in this world since the great apostasy fifteen hundred years!


Verses 5-11

ARGUMENT 2

THE WHOLE BIBLE IN A NUTSHELL

5. The end of the commandment is Divine love out of a clean heart, and a good conscience and faith free from hypocrisy.This verse is a wonderful convenience to all candid inquirers after truth, as it focalizes all the commandments in the Bible, and con substantiates them in this abbreviated statement, which all are competent to receive and remember. This agape, Divine love, is the essence of the Divine nature (1 John 4:18), indigenous only in the heart of God, and exotic in all other beings and dependent solely on Divine intervention for its existence. The Holy Ghost, who is none other than very and eternal God, pours it out into truly penitent and believing hearts. (Romans 5:5.) As our hearts are depraved by the fall, we must have a subsequent purgation, which we receive in the great work of entire sanctification wrought by the Holy Ghost. This is indispensable to the perpetuity and purity of that heavenly stream poured into our hearts in regeneration. Not only must this Divine love, as here revealed, flow out of a clean heart but a “good conscience.” Paul said he lived in all good conscience before he was converted. Yet his conscience was not a correct guide, because he had not received the Divine love and a Clean heart. In Romans 9:1, he testifies, “My conscience bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost.” Hence, we see that this noble God-given faculty, the voice of God in the soul, must be corroborated by the Holy Ghost, in order to be a correct guide. But not only is this Divine love to flow out of a “clean heart and a good conscience, but faith free from hypocrisy;” i.e., an unhypocritical faith, rendering our lives and conduct perfectly transparent under all circumstances. The Grecian god Momus said the creation of man was a great failure, as there should by all means be a mirror in his breast, so you could look in and see his thoughts.

6. From which some, having deflected, have gone away into empty talking.All speaking without the solid truth of God and the Holy Ghost is empty. Hence, when you preach anything except the love of God flowing out of a clean heart, and a good conscience and unhypocritical faith,you are simply indulging in empty talk. O the empty little talks ringing from the pulpits at the present day, neither freighted with solid saving truth nor the dynamite of the Holy Ghost!

7. Wishing to be teachers of the law, not knowing either what things they say, nor concerning what they affirm.No wonder our Savior forbade his own apostles to go and preach the sanctified gospel till they received the pentecostal experience. He knew they could not preach successfully that they had never experienced. That is our great trouble, “the blind leading the blind, and all falling into the ditch together;” millions, like signboards, pointing out road they never travel.

9. Knowing this, that the law is not for a righteous man, but for the lawless, the disorderly, the ungodly, the sinners, the unholy, the profane, patricides matricides, homicides,

10. Fornicators, Sodomites, kidnapers, liars, perjurers, and if there is anything else contrary to hygienic teaching,

11. According to the gospel of the glory of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted.What a black catalogue! Patricide is a murderer of a father, and matricide of a mother. O the thousands of fathers and mothers who are murdered by the wicked lives of their children, thus killing them with sorrow and bringing down their prematurely gray hairs to an untimely grave! Homicide is the murder of a man. John says, “He that hateth his brother is a murderer.” Hatred is the spirit of murder. If you have it in your heart, you are a murderer in the sight of God. The Sodomites were accused of gross brutality, too dark to mention. Kidnappers have depopulated poor Africa for ages indefinite, carrying away her people, and selling them into slavery, thus retarding her progress, baffling her civilization, and making her significantly the Dark Continent. “If there is anything else contrary to hygienic teaching,” or, as E.V. beautifully says, “sound doctrine;” the Greek word “hygienic” is very significant in this passage, since holiness has a hygienic meaning; i.e., soul soundness. In regeneration your dead soul receives the life of God. In sanctification your soul is healed of all hereditary ailments. Children must be born before they can be treated for hereditary diseases. So you must be born of God before you can he sanctified, as this glorious grace is only for God’s children. What a wonderful contrast between the New Testament and the popular creeds; the Pauline preaching and the metropolitan pulpits of the present day! I was brought up in a country rent and torn by sectarian wars. I would hear an announcement, “Pastor A— will preach a doctrinal sermon. We crowd his house, and listen two to four hours while he thoroughly ventilates and defends his creed; simultaneously so entrenching upon Pastor B— that he must appoint a day for a doctrinal sermon. Then Pastors C— and D— are both bleeding from controversial bullet-holes, and must each in turn likewise give us a big doctrinal sermon. With all this the Pauline truth, Divine love out of a clean heart, good conscience, and unhypocritical faithhad neither part nor lot. Now you see plainly from this Scripture that nothing but sin antagonizes the saving grace of God. So, when Paul tells us what is “contrary to sound doctrine,” he simply gives us this long black catalogue of soul-destroying vices. In your “Holy Bible” there is but one doctrine focalized from alpha to omega, and that doctrine is holiness. Nothing but sin antagonizes holiness. What a jubilee the devils in the pandemonium enjoyed at the expense of those four pastors I heard in my childhood, wearing themselves out and distracting the people over their doctrinal controversies, which had no more to do with salvation than the old dead issues between the Pharisees and Sadducees. There is but one issue in the Bible; that is personal salvation, which is antagonized by nothing but sin.


Verses 12-20

ARGUMENT 3

PAUL THE CHIEF OF SINNERS

12. I give thanks to the Lord Jesus Christ, who fills me up with dynamite.The Greek here is endunamosanti. En means with, dunamis, dynamite. It is the verb form of the word and in aorist tense, which reveals an instantaneous action. Hence, Paul certifies that Christ filled him up with dynamite in a moment. No wonder he was always loaded, and ready to shoot on a moment’s notification. The same Omnipotent Christ is ready to load up you and me, and prepare us every moment to fire on the devil. Because he considered me faithful, putting me in the ministry,

13. Formerly being an evil speaker, a persecutor, and an insulter; but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorant in unbelief.Honesty was the saving trait in Paul’s character. Fortified by the greatest human learning, the most consummate ecclesiastical bigotry, and official power, he could only be convinced by a miraculous intervention. If you are perfectly honest, though literally blinded by the devil and led captive at his will, God will deliver you, if he has to work a miracle, as in case of the proud, obdurate, persecuting Saul of Tarsus.

14. Here he certifies that the grace, along with faith and love in Christ Jesus, abounded in his case. In the Scriptures we constantly see the superlative preeminence of faith and love, the one Constituting the human, and the other the Divine hemisphere, in the glorious plan of salvation.

15. —Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am first;

16. But on this account I obtained mercy, in order that in me the first Jesus Christ may show forth all long suffering, for an example of those about to believe on him unto eternal life.Paul was first in official position, leadership, learning, and influence in his day. Many have stumbled over this statement, but I see no good reason. Cognomens and epithets survive changes of character in all human circles. In my peregrination I preach side by side with saloonkeepers, drunkards, infidels, thieves, and gamblers, with a number of whose names I am perfectly familiar. We all know them, and frequently designate them by these dark epithets. While all this is true, it is equally true that they are wonderfully saved, gloriously sanctified, filled with the Spirit, and preaching the gospel like messengers from heaven, God everywhere setting his seal on their labors of love. Paul is this day the same chief of sinners, playing on his golden harp among the angels. We will never be angels. Through all eternity we will be nothing but sinners saved by grace. In conversion you are a justified sinner; in sanctification, a purified sinner; and in heaven, a glorified sinner. We must be jealous of our sinnership, as this is the basis of our claim on Christ, since he saves none but sinners. So long as we are in this world, we need him not only to save us, but to keep us saved. If we should forfeit our sinnership, we would forfeit our salvation, as Christ is the Savior of sinners only. Yet it is diabolical foolery to say we must keep on sinning. Neighbor John is well known as a painter; though he has not painted a house since he got rich twenty years ago. Neighbor Samuel is a sailor, so born, reared, and educated; but he has not sailed in twelve years. At the time of this writing Paul was the chief of sinners, yet, as he says himself in the same sentence, gloriously saved, and consequently a great encouragement to those who shall believe on Him unto eternal life.

18. The gifts of prophecy laid down in Paul’s catalogue (1 Corinthians 12) constitute the enduements of the Holy Ghost, necessary qualifications to preach the gospel. Timothy had received these with his call to the ministry. That you may war a good warfare in the same.These extraordinary gifts of the Holy Ghost constitute the Christian’s panoply, with which he wages an exterminating war against sin and Satan; the Spirit serving as armor-bearer, putting in his hand the implement needed in every emergency.

19. Having faith and a good conscience, which certain ones having cast away have made shipwreck concerning the faith.A true faith always bears the heavenly fruit of good works. Faith and works are the two oars of the salvation boat, in which you sail across this probationary ocean, plowed with a thousand cyclones, to the bright golden shore of a blessed immortality. When your faith fails, your works are no longer in harmony with the Divine administration. Then it is impossible to have a good conscience.

20. Of whom is Hymeneus and Alexander, whom I have delivered to Satan, that they may learn not to speak evil.Among the many fallen Christians on all sides breaking Paul’s heart, here are two preachers so far deflected from the faith once delivered to the saints that Paul finds it necessary to turn them out of the Church; i.e., excommunicate them from the New Testament Ecclesia, turning them over to Satan. Regeneration takes you out of the world, and sanctification takes the world out of you. So the bona fide Christian is doubly divorced from the world. God calls the devil the “God of this world.” (2 Corinthians 4:4.) Hence, the world and the Church are utterly separate and distinct, having no fellowship either with other, the devil ruling the one, and God the other. Hence, to turn people out of the New Testament Church is to surrender them to Satan. Excommunication is the last and most powerful remedy. It will convict sinning Church members when nothing else will. Ejectment from the kingdom of grace is but preliminary to their rejection from the kingdom of glory. Hence, it is calculated to alarm, convict, and bring to repentance when everything else has failed. We see here that Paul does it for their good, that they learn not to speak evil.When the devil gets them in his black clutches, and the Holy Ghost shows them an open hell and the seething billows rolling at their feet, Paul hopes they will take alarm and repent.

 


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Bibliography Information
Godbey, William. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 1:4". "William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ges/1-timothy-1.html.

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