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Bible Commentaries

Gary Hampton Commentary on Selected Books

1 Timothy 1

 

 

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Verse 1-2

Greetings

As in most of the letters of the first century, Paul opens by introducing himself. He probably identifies himself as an apostle to stress that this is not just a personal letter but one intended to further the cause of Christ at God"s direction, or commandment. One record of God"s commandment to Paul can be found in Acts 26:16-18. He was to carry forth the word of God, who sent his Son to save the world from sin (John 3:16-17; 2 Corinthians 5:19). That Son is both Lord, or master; Jesus, or the one who would save his people from their sins; and Christ, or God"s anointed king. Certainly, he is also the source of our hope (1 Timothy 1:1; Romans 5:1-2).

Timothy can be described as Paul"s true child in the faith because there was nothing fake about his conversion. Paul was not ashamed to commend this loyal soldier of Christ to the churches (Philippians 2:19-24; 1 Corinthians 16:10-11). The word grace was a form of the Greek greeting, while peace was the Hebrew greeting. In the Christian context, they are especially meaningful since we are saved by God"s grace and that brings a special inner peace to our lives. Without God"s mercy, we could not be saved since we were rebellious sinners with no means of saving ourselves (1 Timothy 1:2; Ephesians 2:8-10; Ephesians 2:4-5; Philippians 4:7).


Verse 3-4

Charging Others to Teach No Other Doctrine

The word "urged" carries the idea of pleading or begging, according to Spain. It is an encouraging word that leaves the person with a sense of dignity. Timothy needed to stay in Ephesus while Paul went on to Macedonia because some urgently needed to be instructed to preach only the doctrine of Christ.

Remember, Paul had warned the Ephesian elders of the coming of false teachers (Acts 20:28-32). They also needed to be warned not to pay attention to false stories and constant searching through genealogies (Titus 1:14; 2 Peter 1:16). The result of looking at such false stories and tracing lineage back to Abraham led only to disputes. Lipscomb says that Herod the Great destroyed the genealogies because he could not trace his line back to Abraham. God kept the lines clear until the true Savior came. Now, one could come claiming to be the savior but could have no clear proof. Instead of that which tore down, Paul would have Timothy urge them to the study of things that would produce godly edifying and thus enhance their faith (1 Timothy 1:3-4).


Verses 5-7

Sound teaching will produce three desired results.

First, there will be love, in the sense of a desire for the ultimate good of others. This will come from a cleansed heart, not outward ceremonial cleansings.

Second, there will be a good conscience that is well trained in God"s will.

Third, there will be a faith without hypocrisy. The false teachers at Ephesus had missed the mark of the true faith and involved themselves in empty talking. These teachers wanted the respect that was always given to true teachers of the law of Moses, but they did not understand its ultimate purpose (Galatians 3:19-25). Their failure to understand the law"s purpose caused them to miss out on the true glories of the gospel of Christ (1 Timothy 1:5-7).


Verses 8-11

Understanding the Purpose of the Law

Paul was not saying that the law was not from God or that it did not fulfill a very important part of his purpose. It was the law that taught man he was a sinner. The law was holy but man could not live up to the perfection it demanded (Romans 7:7-12). Further, there was not a provision for the removal of sin under the law. Thus, the law of Moses had to be called the law of sin and death (Hebrews 10:1-4; Romans 8:2). Paul then went on to show what the false teachers failed to understand about the law. The law was not made for the man dead to the law and freed from sin (Romans 7:1-4; Romans 5:6-11). Its purpose was to reveal sin to man and make him realize the exceeding sinfulness of it (Romans 3:20; Romans 7:13).

The first four specific sins Paul lists that are condemned by the law obviously refer to violations of the first four of the ten commandments which deal with a man"s relationship to God. The next sins Paul lists are extreme violations of the last six of the ten commandments. Not only was the law a rule for the worst of the criminals, but it also dealt with more every day situations that led to a man going against sound teaching. All of those sins would be condemned not only by the law of Moses but also by the glorious good news our great and blessed God committed to Paul. He had to preach it so man could realize the danger of sin and turn to God for help (1 Timothy 1:8-11).


Verses 12-17

Thanking God for His Gracious Gift No one understood the impact of sin on his life like the apostle Paul did (Romans 7:24-25). Grateful for the salvation afforded him through Christ and the opportunity to tell others about it, the apostle burst into praise. The word "enabled" suggests a giving of strength, which Paul appropriately attributes to Christ

(Philippians 4:13). In his life before Christ, Paul spoke against the Son of God and his church, or blasphemed. He also persecuted the body of Christ, even to cities outside of Jerusalem (Acts 22:4-5; Acts 26:9-11). Coffman says the word "insolent" describes "a person who takes a savage personal delight and a malicious enjoyment in the afflictions inflicted upon another." With this rising tide of charges against him, Paul surely felt he was in a hopeless state, but God gave him mercy. Sin had blinded him to the point that he believed he was doing the very works God would have him to do (1 Timothy 1:12-13; Acts 23:1).

God"s grace is only in Christ, where we also find the source of our faith and love. Just as much as Paul"s sin abounded, just so God"s grace abounded (Romans 5:20). Here was a man who had violently opposed Christ and his cause, yet Jesus came to save him. It is completely true that Jesus came into the world to save sinners (Luke 1910; Matthew 9:12-13). We ought to totally accept the idea that Jesus came to save sinners. By saving the terrible persecutor of his body, Jesus said to all lesser sinners that he would save them, too. Paul became God"s example of just how far his mercy could go. Guthrie says the word "pattern" presents two ideas to us. It "may be understood either as an outline sketch of an artist, or as a wordillustration expressing an author"s burning purpose."

Thus, all who follow Paul"s conversion should see God"s intent to save all sinners. This should cause us to believe on Christ with a look forward to eternal life through complete obedience (1 Timothy 1:14-16).

It is natural that one saved from such sins that he may have thought unforgivable would burst forth with thankful praise. In this expression of praise, we have an apt description of God. He is eternal, without beginning or end (Hebrews 13:8; Hebrews 7:1-3; Hebrews 7:20-25). He is immortal in that he will not die and invisible because he is a spirit (Exodus 3:14; John 4:24). There is only one God, not a plurality of them as the Greeks thought (1 Timothy 1:17; Ephesians 4:6).


Verses 18-20

Renewing the Charge to a Young Preacher

Next, the inspired apostle renews the charge he gave Timothy in verse 3. Paul wrote to this young man he loved as a son and committed to him, as one gives money to a bank, the preaching of the truth in the face of many opponents. We do not know what the prophesies concerning Timothy were, but they likely resembled those made concerning Barnabas and Paul (Acts 13:1-3). The seriousness of the Christian"s task can be seen in the numerous references to a war between Satan"s forces and God"s (1 Timothy 1:18; 2 Corinthians 10:3-5; Ephesians 6:10-17).

Once we have been trained in the faith, we should be able to follow our conscience. Paul says some failed to do as their conscience, which was directed by God"s truth, dictated and thus made a shipwreck of their faith. Spiritual death is the ultimate end of such unless they can be brought to repentance (2 Timothy 2:24-26).

Paul gave two examples of Christians whose spiritual lives were in ruins. He said he had delivered Hymenaeus and Alexander to Satan, which reminds us of 1 Corinthians 5:1-5. The purpose of delivering one to Satan is to save them in the day of judgment. In this case, these two had to learn not to speak against God and the truth. Hymenaeus may be the man who said the resurrection was already past (1 Timothy 1:19-20; 2 Timothy 2:17-18).

 


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Bibliography Information
Hampton, Gary. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 1:4". "Gary Hampton Commentary on Selected Books". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ghc/1-timothy-1.html. 2014.

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