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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical

1 Timothy 1

 

 

Other Authors
Verse 1-2

THE FIRST EPISTLE OF PAUL

to

TIMOTHY [FN1]

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I

Superscription, and wish for Blessing

1 Timothy 1:1-2

1Paul, an Apostle of Jesus Christ [Christ Jesus][FN2] by [according to] the commandment[FN3] of God our Saviour,[FN4] and Lord Jesus Christ,[FN5] which is our hope; 2Unto Timothy, my own son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our[FN6] Father and Jesus Christ [Christ Jesus][FN7] our Lord.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

1 Timothy 1:1. Paul. See, in reference to his person, the statements of the Acts of the Apostles, and the preceding Pauline Epistles.—By the commandment, κατ’ ἐπεταγήν. The Apostle begins his work thus, because he would enforce his apostolic authority against heretical teachers. The same expression occurs in Titus 1:3, and refers to the Divine commission of the Apostle, the foundation of which was θέλημα θεοῦ, to which he alludes in other places, as 2 Timothy 1:1 (comp. Galatians 1:1). We do not, however, discover in this an undesigned expression of his confidence in the Divine origin and character of his apostleship (Matthies). We believe, rather, that the Apostle uses this word designedly, in order to give to his admonitions their due authority.—God our Saviour, σωτῆρος ἡμῶν (comp. Jude 25; Luke 1:47). The representation of God the Father as Saviour is peculiar to the Pastoral Epistles; while in the other Pauline Epistles, the name is usually given to Christ. It is obvious that this name is applied to the Father, in view of that which He has done, through Christ, for the salvation of mankind.—Our hope. One of those rich expressions which lose their power and beauty in any paraphrase (comp. John 11:25; Colossians 1:27; Ephesians 2:14, and similar passages). The conception is as little exhausted, whether we consider Christ exclusively as the foundation, or exclusively as the object of hope; rather, both conceptions are to be so blended, that we shall see in Christ the living centre of the Christian hope. “In eo solo residet tota salutis nostræ materia;” Calvin. It is Christ, in and through whom alone our hope in the Divine σωτηρία is realized.

1 Timothy 1:2. Own son in the faith, γνησίῳ τέκνῳ, not κατὰ σάρκα, but ἐν πίστει; which last word must not be joined with γνησίῳ, but with τέκνῳ, and denotes the sphere in which the relationship has grown between Paul and Timothy (comp. 1 Corinthians 4:14-17; Galatians 4:19). Titus, in 1 Timothy 1:4, is greeted with the same name of honor, κατὰ κοινὴν πίστιν. The Apostle feels inwardly moved to give such prominence to the bond which unites him in Timothy; and from this spring of inner love now bursts his noble intercessory prayer. [The English Version reads, “in the faith;” but it is better “in faith.” So Conybeare, and others. Alford and Wordsworth, however, retain the former reading.—W.]—Grace, mercy, and peace. A new characteristic of the Pastoral Epistles, that mercy is named in the salutation, while elsewhere St. Paul is wont to entreat only grace and peace for his readers (compare, however, Galatians 6:16; Judges 2). It is not possible that a writer of fiction would have allowed such slight deviations; he would rather have been careful to copy, as literally as possible, the Apostle’s usual form of salutation. This difference gives us an internal proof, in its degree, of the genuineness of the Epistle. The chief motive by which the Apostle felt himself compelled, from the fulness of his heart, to join this third word to the other two, was doubtless his own personal feeling. As his life drew nearer its close, and he felt more deeply his weakness, his coming end, the ἔλεος was the foundation of his hope; and for Timothy, too, with grace and peace, it was the one thing needful. “Misericordia dicit gratiam quasi teneriorem erga miserabiles, et hujus misericordiæ divinæ experientia affert habilitatem ad ministerium, evangelicum,” 1 Timothy 1:13; 1 Timothy 1:16; Bengel. We may call grace the highest good for the guilty, mercy for the suffering, and peace for the struggling disciple of the Lord. In its harmony, this ravishing threefold chord expresses all the spiritual gifts which the Christian should ask for himself and his brethren.—Christ Jesus. Here, as very frequently in the Epistles to Timothy, the official name, The Christ, in which the Messianic promises are fulfilled, is placed before the name of the historic person, Jesus.

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. As it was not necessary for Timothy to be assured of the apostolic authority of Paul, since he had not the least doubt of it, it becomes more evident here that the Apostle attaches to it a high significance, when it is named even in the beginning of this letter. We often hear the superficial notion advanced, that the Apostles, as the first witnesses of the personal appearing of Christ, had some advantage over later teachers, but that there Isaiah, after all, no essential inequality. If this were true, the Pastoral Epistles, would have, in many respects, an entirely different character. We hear in them not merely an elder teacher addressing his younger brethren in office, not merely a spiritual father addressing his Song of Solomon, but an Apostle giving exhortations to his youthful fellow-laborers, in a tone which admits no contradiction, and expects nothing but obedience for Christ’s sake in all he prescribes and ordains (comp. 2 Corinthians 7:15-16). If we once admit that the spirit of truth was given to each one (πρὸς τὸ συμφέρον, 1 Corinthians 12:7), it lies in the very nature of the case, that with the munus apostolicum quâ tale, charismata were joined, which other teachers of the church could not enjoy, or, at least, to the same degree. The Lord, who has appointed some apostles, and some evangelists ( Ephesians 4:11-12), has by no means made the latter equal to the former. This misconception of the principle of authority begets the most unchecked wilfulness and private opinion, and brings us not to the feet of the Apostle, but under the sceptre of every writer who may place himself and his word above that of St. Paul The recognition of the apostolic authority is the best palladium against the threefold enemy which assails the evangelical church in our day—Mysticism, Rationalism, and Romanism; comp. P. Jalaguyer, Inspiration du Nouveau Testam., Paris, 1851; especially p51–89.

2. The recognition of Jesus Christ as our hope involves, if it have any significance whatever, the recognition of His real divinity. If the Lord be nothing more than a mere Prayer of Manasseh, as many modern theologians represent, then we are not free to call Him our hope, without narrowing greatly our conception of its meaning. The Scriptures pronounce a fearful judgment upon all who trust in an arm of flesh; comp. Jeremiah 17:5-6; Psalm 118:8-9; Psalm 146:3.

3. The apostolic benediction, “Grace, mercy, and peace,” illustrates the character of the gospel, as essentially different not only from the law, but from every merely human and philosophic system of religion. All grace, mercy, and peace which God can bestow, come to us only through and in communion with His Song of Solomon, the Lord Jesus Christ; comp. John 14:6.

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

The significance of Paul’s title, the Apostle of the Lord.—Paul the Apostle, for all ages and centuries.—The calling of Paul to the apostolic office a good to all Christendom.—The nature, foundation, and value of the apostolic authority.—God the Saviour of all men, but especially of those that believe ( 1 Timothy 4:10).—Christ the Lord of the Church.—Christ our hope: (1) What does this name involve? (2) What does it demand?—Christ (1) can be our hope, for He is the true God; (2) will be our hope, for He is the Mediator between God and man; (3) must be our hope, for there is salvation in no other.—The communion of saints.—The strong tie that unites together spiritual fathers and their children.—The high value of the gospel blessings.—The grace, the mercy, and the peace of God, in their relation to the faith, the love, and the hope of the Christian.—Jesus Christ the source whence all spiritual blessings flow to us.—What must the Christian ask first and chiefly for his brethren?

Osiander: If Paul be a messenger of God, we ought to regard his writings as nothing else than the infallible word of God ( Luke 10:16).—No man ought to preach without a due calling in the church ( Hebrews 5:4).—Anton: The majesty of God can only be constantly and lovingly manifest in the face of Jesus Christ. If Christ be our hope, then we certainly must not rest our hope on the saints, or on our own merit, but recognize Christ as the only Redeemer.—The office and work of the preacher are means by which spiritual sons and daughters are born to God ( Philemon 1:10).—Lange’s Opus bibl.: Every believing reader of this benediction should put himself in the place of Timothy, and make it his own, since he knows and honors God as his Father, and Christ as his Lord.


Verses 3-11

II

Occasion for the writing of this Epistle.—Preliminary description and condemnation of the heretical teachers who had appeared at Ephesus, who misunderstood equally the nature both of the Law and of the Gospel

1 Timothy 1:3-11

3As[FN8] I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine, 4Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions [questionings], rather than godly edifying [the dispensation of God][FN9] which is in faith: so do. 5Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned: 6From which some haying swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling; 7Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding8[considering] neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm. But we know that the law is good, if a man use[FN10] it lawfully; 9Knowing this, that the law is not made [set forth = posita] for a righteous Prayer of Manasseh, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers,[FN11] for Prayer of Manasseh -slayers, 10For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for men-stealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine: 11According to the glorious gospel [the gospel of glory] of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust [which I have been entrusted with].

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

Ver3 Besought. For the occasion and object of this exhortation, see the Introduction. Timothy must remain at Ephesus, προσμεῖναι (the same word occurs in Acts 18:18), in order, by his presence, to oppose the evil which was becoming apparent there. The simplest explanation of this somewhat singular phrase, Isaiah, that Paul had already, at Ephesus, given this injunction to Timothy, and had then left him in order to set out on his journey to Macedonia. According to Chrysostom, the form in which this admonition is couched is a proof of the friendly spirit of the Apostle towards Timothy: “οὐ γὰρ ἐ͂ιπεν: ἐπέταξα, οὐδὲ ἐκέλευσα, οὐδὲ παρῆ̣νεσα, ὰλλὰ τί; παρεκάλεσά σε.”—Some. In Other places, also, the Apostle speaks, without any personal designation, of those whom he calls upon Timothy to oppose ( 1 Timothy 1:6; 1 Timothy 1:19; 1 Timothy 4:1; 2 Timothy 2:18). Timothy knew them from his own experience, and needed, therefore, no more exact advice. He was to charge them, not at once publicly (Matthies), yet in an earnest and emphatic way, to teach no other doctrine than that which the Apostle had before delivered. Ἑτεροδιδασκαλεῖν (comp. 1 Timothy 6:3; Titus 1:13). The word indicates the strange elements that may mingle with the teaching of the gospel, and easily assume a character hostile to it. The same warning Paul bad already given, in another form, to the elders of the church ( Acts 20:29). The pure doctrine, in which men must steadfastly abide, is naturally, in his thought, identical with his gospel ( 2 Timothy 2:8).

1 Timothy 1:4. Fables and endless genealogies (comp. Titus 1:14; 1 Timothy 4:7; 2 Timothy 4:4; Titus 3:9). It is difficult to know with certainty what μῦθοι and γενεαλογίαι are here specially meant. From all that we gather, however, in this Epistle, it is most probable that reference is made to fables of Jewish form and origin, which were endlessly spun out, and had called forth much dispute in the church. “Although there were many fables among the heathen, yet the Apostle has in special view the Jewish traditiones; for it was asserted that Moses had not written down all the mysteries revealed by God, but had given much orally to the elders, by whom they were handed down as a traditional law, or Kabbala, although these Jewish notions were mostly of their own invention, and in part, too, drawn from heathen philosophy;” Starke. The genealogical records here mentioned appear also to have been mainly of Jewish origin, and, as we know, were held in high repute, and gave occasion for many useless and curious questions; although we need not entirely exclude a reference to the doctrine of Emanation, taught by the heretical schools. The ζητήσεις are nothing but the foolish questions ( Titus 3:9), which lead to strife and discord. This love of fables and genealogies is held by the Apostle in such great aversion, because it furnished such material for dispute, rather than for a right knowledge of the essential way of redemption (οἰκονομία). “Μᾶλλον, non semper comparationis sed sæpius correctionis et oppositionis nota est (comp. 2 Timothy 1:4);” Glassius. Most commentators agree that the clause which begins the third verse should be understood to close at the end of the fourth verse, with an οὕτω καὶ νῦν παρακαλῶ, which certainly might be most fitly inserted in this place. Otherwise it must be supposed that the Apostle, after a long digression ( 1 Timothy 1:5-7), takes up again, at 1 Timothy 1:18, the thread of the broken exhortation; 1 Timothy 1:5 or 1 Timothy 1:12 forms no perfect conclusion.

1 Timothy 1:5. The end of the commandment. It is a question, whether reference is made to the command given by Paul, in 1 Timothy 1:3, to Timothy, or, in a wider sense, to the Divine commandment in general, which Timothy is to impress upon his hearers. The latter is the more probable, since the Apostle begins forthwith to oppose a false view of the Mosaic law. “Παραγγελία, practical teaching as the chief element of the διδασκαλία ὑγιαίνουσα; a contract to the μῦθοι;” De Wette.—End; Luther: The sum, as this word designates that to which we are chiefly to look, and toward which we are to strive. “The ultimate aim of all the admonitions of the Christian preacher should be practical—to call out a true love;” Olshausen. Even to Timothy, Paul writes very little of the mysteries of Christianity, that, by his example, he may yet more put to shame this germinal Gnosticism.—Charity out of a pure heart, &c. Love, “the bond of all Christian virtues,” the fruit of the tree, whose root, faith, is presupposed as already existing, and commended at the close of the exhortation. This love can only spring out of a pure heart, cleansed from all selfishness and evil desires; out of a good conscience, which, being free from the guilt of sin, and reconciled with God, can then first love in truth; and from an unfeigned faith.—Unfeigned, ἀνυπόκριτος; that Isaiah, no empty thought or fancy, but a spiritual light and spiritual life not consisting in words, but in a living assurance of the heart, and proving its life in its fruits. Without real faith there is no good-conscience; without a reconciliation of the conscience there is no pure heart; without a pure heart there is no true Christian love conceivable. Thus all are blended in the closest union. [Alford: “It is faith—not the pretence of faith, the mere Scheinglaube of the hypocrite. Wiesinger well remarks, that we see that the general character of these false teachers, as of those against whom Titus is warned, was not so much error in doctrine, as leading men astray from the earnestness of the loving Christian life to useless and vain questionings, ministering only strife.”]

1 Timothy 1:6. From which vain jangling.Ὧν, that Isaiah, from the Christian dispositions and virtues mentioned in 1 Timothy 1:5. The polemic character of the Epistle of Paul appears immediately after the statement of the τέλος τῆς παραγγελίας. The heretics were separatists, ἀστοχήσαντες; they had failed of the end which the Apostle has set forth—the same word occurs in 1 Timothy 6:21; 2 Timothy 2:18—and were thus astray in a false path, because they had turned εἰς ματαιολογίαν. The etymology indicates the meaning of this word, which, besides, is found only here. ( Titus 1:10, ματαιολόγοι occurs). Here is suggested that waste of words, that empty talk, in which there can be found no rational sense, no unity of conviction. Compare the βέβηλοι κενοφωνίαι ( 1 Timothy 6:20), and the βέβηλοι καί γραώδεις μῦθοι ( 1 Timothy 4:7; Titus 3:9). The character of this vain jangling is more exactly defined by what immediately follows, in 1 Timothy 1:7.

1 Timothy 1:7. Teachers of the law, νομοδιδάσκαλοι, not in a good, but in a bad, unevangelical sense of this word; men who so mixed together law and gospel, that the latter was weakened, and who would likewise force a Mosaic system upon the Christian, in the notion that they themselves had pierced deeper than others into its nature and spirit. It is the same Jewish legalism, which, in its special relation to the Gentiles, the Apostle opposes in Romans 12:17 and Galatians 6:12; because, in its inmost spirit, it is in irreconcilable conflict with Christian truth and freedom. In the keenest way, throughout the following verses, it is held up to view in its utter nakedness, μὴ νοοῦντες, κ.τ.λ. “Bonus doctor debet esse intelligent, simulque certus: istis, inquit Paulus, utrumque deest;” Bengel. They themselves understand not what they say, nor whereof they affirm. If we may draw a distinction between these two expressions, the former seems to mean the subjective opinions, the expressed ideas, the fictions of these men; while the second designates the objective views, the material, on which they based their convictions with the greatest confidence, but into which, according to the assertion of Paul, they had no clear insight. So also Raphelius: “Qui neque ea, quæ loquuntur satis intelligant, neque quibus de rebus loquantur, considerant.” What these νομοδιδάσκαλοι held as to the unaltered authority of the Mosaic law, rested on their plain ignorance of the very purpose of the law; which is therefore, in the 8 th and following verses, designedly placed by the Apostle in its true light. It appears, also, from this whole argument, that these heretics were not already separated from the community, or in opposition to it—in which case Timothy could have had no further influence over them—but they were still within its pale. It is worthy of note, too, that they continually sought authority in the writings of the Old Testament for their half-heathen speculations.

1 Timothy 1:8. But we know. An authoritative apostolic οἴδαμεν, of quite other worth than that of the Scribes and Pharisees ( John 9:29; John 9:31). The Apostle places the declaration of his knowledge, which he had learned in the school of the Holy Ghost, against the arrogant view of the false Gnosis. Perhaps its advocates had thought to raise a suspicion against him, as if he despised the law, or, at least, denied it any real worth. He opposes to this his doctrine, which he fully knows will be received by Timothy—that the law is good (properly, beautiful, καλός), and in itself blameless (comp. Romans 7:12); yet only on condition that every man use the same lawfully, νομίμως, which was not done by these heretics. A play upon the word; as if to say, that the law must be fulfilled according to law. We have special cause to be thankful that the true definition of the law has been so fully stated by Paul in the Epistles to the Romans and Galatians, as rightly to explain 1 Timothy 1:8-10. Νομίμως is the use of the law by the man who allows it to exercise its proper office, who is brought by it to a knowledge of his own sin and liability to punishment. “This knowledge will give us its spirit and intent—not room for idle questions and subtleties, nor for self-deception through a feigned and outward righteousness. This lawful use of the law is meant by Christ, when He promises life to those who keep the law ( Luke 10:28; Luke 18:20, et seq;)” Von Gerlach. It is self-evident, also, that Paul in this place speaks not of the hearer or the reader of the law, but solely of its application by its teachers, who may well reflect on the verses which follow.

1 Timothy 1:9. That the law is not made for a righteous man. It is not strange that this passage should at first awaken surprise in many readers, and that, at the time of the Reformation, it should have been controverted by Agricola. The first question Isaiah, whom the Apostle means by this righteous man—a question which is at once answered by the antithesis following it, ἀνόμοις δὲ, κ.τ.λ. In distinction from this, the person meant by δίκαιος may be one whose life is righteous and moral according to the requirements of the law. But since, according to the invariable doctrine of the Apostle, all who are under the law are also under the curse of the law, so that by the works of the law no flesh can be justified ( Galatians 3:10; Romans 3:20), it follows, that by the righteous Christian man must be meant one who has been justified by faith in Christ, and wholly renewed by the Holy Spirit (justus per justificationem, et per sanctificationem). Of such a man Paul says, that the law is not made for him, νόμος οὐ κεῖται. As the article is wanting before νόμος, it may be thought that only a general proposition is stated as to the nature and purpose of any moral code (Chrysostom, Brentano). But the mention of the gospel in contrast with the law ( 1 Timothy 1:11), and the argument against the νομοδιδάσκαλοι ( 1 Timothy 1:7), imperatively requires us here to understand the Mosaic law alone. On the omission of the article, see Winer’sGrammar, in loco. This law, then, is not made for the righteous man; that Isaiah, it is not given to him, as such. When De Wette says, “This view of the law seems foreign to the Apostle,” he seems to forget entirely such passages as Galatians 5:18-23. The thought, that the letter of the Mosaic law possesses no more binding force for the redeemed in Christ, is so entirely Pauline, that it forms one of the main pillars of his whole doctrinal structure. It certainly gives also a fulfilment of the law from the Christian standpoint, as it is announced in Romans 3:31; Romans 8:4, and in other places. But in this passage the Apostle expressly shows its meaning for the wholly unconverted, in order to expose more clearly the folly of those heretics who will put the law by the side of, or even above the gospel, for the Christian. [Augustin on Psalm 1 : “Justus non est sub lege, quia in lege Domini est voluntas ejus; qui enim in lege Esther, secundum legem agitur; ille ergo liber est; hic servus.” Hooker, Eccl. Pol., B1, c8. “A law is a directive rule unto goodness of operation. The rule of Divine operation is the definitive appointment of God’s own wisdom set down within Himself. The rule of natural agents that work by necessity is the determination of the wisdom of God, known to God, but not unto them. The rule of voluntary agents on earth is the venture that reason giveth concerning the goodness of those things which they are to do. Neither must we suppose that there needeth one rule to know the good, and another the evil by. For he that knoweth the straight, doth even thereby discern the crooked. Goodness in actions is like unto straightness; wherefore, that which is done well, we term right.”—W.]—But for the lawless. In contrast to this true spirit of law, the Apostle now names a long list of evildoers, for whom the law remained in full force; a list in which one familiar with the Pauline writings will not expect completeness, systematic order, or logical strictness, in its various conceptions; yet which by no means lacks connection, and has clearly this thought at the bottom, that they who are most zealous for the law often most grossly transgress it (comp. Romans 2:20). He names, at the outset, two by two, six classes of wicked men—ἀνόμοις καί ἀνυποτάκτοις; that Isaiah, such as care nothing for the law, and have altogether refused obedience to it (comp. Titus 1:6-10); ἀσεβέσι καὶ ἁμαρτολοῖς, godless (comp. Titus 2:12) and gross sinners, who have no fear of God in their hearts (comp. Romans 4:5; Romans 5:6). Here the hostile attitude toward God becomes more prominent, while the preceding two are violators of the law in general. Ἀνοσίοις καὶ βεβήλοις blend both the first conceptions, as the irreligious and profane, here depicted, are alike despisers of the Holy God, and of His holy law. Here follow, more in detail, certain specimina mali, from which we may suppose that, with the exception of the last vitium, ἐπιόρκοις, the various statutes of the second table passed before the mind of the Apostle. He names the murder of father and mother—those who violate the first commandment with promise ( Ephesians 6:2), and grossly abuse their parents (πατραλοίας; τὸν πατέρα ἀτιμάζων, τύπτων κτείνων; Hesychius). Murderer, consequently a breaker of the sixth commandment, ἀνδροφόνοις; in the New Testament an ἃπαξ λεγόμενον. Further, those who sin against the seventh commandment, commit fornication with women (πόρνοις), or with the male sex (ἀρσενοκοίταις), comp. Romans 1:27; both natural and unnatural crime (comp. Leviticus 19, 23). Then follow transgressions of the eighth commandment, here wholly concerning men—the sin of Prayer of Manasseh -stealing, specially forbidden in Exodus 21:16; Deuteronomy 24:7; ἀνδραποδισταῖς, plagiariis. It was, besides, no rare crime among the Greeks to steal boys or girls, that they might be sold into slavery. Lastly follow those who break the ninth commandment, ψεῦσται, ἐπίορκοι; such as deliberately speak falsehood, or swear to a falsehood, or break an oath already taken. By the following εί τε ἕτερον, κ.τ.λ., we may suppose meant transgression against the tenth commandment, which is here omitted. We find, however, in this catalogus-criminum, no orderly reference to the commandments of the first table; and Bengel has clearly gone too far, when he writes, “Paulus pro ordine decalogi hic nominat injustos.” This is true only of the second half of the decalogue.—And if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine. Sound doctrine—one of the expressions characteristic of the Pastoral Epistles (comp. 2 Timothy 4:3; Titus 2:1, and elsewhere). Not healthful doctrine is meant (Luther), nor a sound morality (Leo), but the Christian teaching in general is approved in its inner soundness, as opposed to the ματαιολογία of the heretics. This phrase is used also to express those symptoms of disease which St. Paul saw with grief springing up in the church (comp. 2 Timothy 2:17). [It is observable that the word “wholesome” occurs nine times in the Pastoral Epistles, and always in reference to doctrine; Wordsworth.—W.]

1 Timothy 1:11. According to the glorious gospel committed to my trust.Κατά is not used here for the more exact definition of sound doctrine, as some have thought; for, in that case, τῆ̣ would have to be repeated before κατά; nor need it be supposed in apposition to ἀντίκειται, which would give a very awkward conclusion. 1 Timothy 1:11 is an addition, which refers to the whole preceding line of thought, and means that, according to the gospel of Paul, the law has no other purpose than that fully explained in 1 Timothy 1:6-10. The Apostle would have us understand, that his view of the law is not the fruit of his private opinion, but rather the true summary of the gospel committed to him. This qualification of the gospel is really apologetic. The gospel of glory, τῆς δόξης, not signifying ἔνδοξον (Heydenreich), in the sense of blessed, glorious doctrine, but the gospel by which the glory of God in Christ has become manifest to the world; whose especial and chief substance is this Divine glory ( 2 Corinthians 4:4), and indeed the glory of the blessed God, τοῦ μακαρίου Θεοῦ (comp. 1 Timothy 6:15). If God Himself be blessed, then the revelation of His glory, which has been proclaimed, not through the law, but through the gospel, will be full of blessing. Perhaps the repeated use of the epithet in this Epistle has a certain reference to the system of Æons taught by the heretics. This gospel is committed in trust to Paul, ἐπιστεύθην ἐγώ. A peculiarly Pauline construction, on which, comp. Winer, Gramm. N. T., p40. In other places, too, the Apostle speaks with warmth of this his dear prerogative; as Romans 15:16; Ephesians 3:8; Colossians 1:25. Those who oppose the genuineness of the Pastoral Epistles, are therefore wrong in thinking such emphatic reference to his person and his office at all extraordinary. The consciousness which Paul had of his high calling, rises with redoubled power as he contends with the heretics; and in this letter to his friend and scholar he follows the warm outpouring of his spirit, not in a logical order, yet in harmony with his whole thought, as we read in 1 Timothy 1:12-17.

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. Two opposite views, in regard to the character and condition of the early Christian Church have prevailed, with more or less success, in our time, both of which are disproved in the opening verses of the first Pastoral Epistle. In the one view, it is thought that the apostolic age was a kind of paradisaic state of the young community—a state full of love, and innocence, and purity; in contrast with which the post-apostolic age seems a fall, like that of our first parents (Thiersch, and others). In the other view, there was at first only a chaos of manifold parties and tendencies, out of which there gradually rose, in the second century, after many conciliatory efforts, the harmonious structure of the Catholic church (Tübingen school). But the little we have already learned from the Epistle to Timothy neither favors the one nor the other view. It is apparent that already, soon after A. D60, heresies and factions sprang up in the church, hostile to the original spirit of Christianity, which the Apostle believed that he must oppose with all his energy. We find that the germs of Gnosticism, whose formal development we can trace in the second century under manifold shapes, were already broadcast in the second half of the first century. But, on the other hand, this error appears only as a fleck of rust on the pure metal of that truth, earlier taught and fully acknowledged. We see the Apostle, clothed with an authority which no one can defy with impunity, and rising high above the strife of parties. His gospel is no other in substance than that proclaimed by his fellow-Apostles, and by his and their coworkers. His word becomes the sharp but healthful corrective of the errorists, who have gained head so early; and it remains the norm of its development for the church, in the second and the succeeding centuries.

2. The characteristic marks of the heretics of the first century rise here already to our view. A sickly search after the discovery of the unattainable, with a thankless misconception of simple truth; an undue valuing of lesser things, with a depreciation of the essentials of Christianity; a striving after their own honor, while they cared little for the edification of believers; a fastening of their own philosophic theories on the falsely-interpreted letter of the Scriptures, whose spirit they sadly misconceived; a denial of the practical nature of Christianity, while its real freedom is abused as an allowance to the flesh; a falsehood as to the special relation between the law and the gospel of Christ;—all these symptoms of disease are found anew, in countless forms, among the sectaries and heretics of later days.

3. The Apostle is alike removed from the one-sided view either of a love without faith, or of a faith without love. He will neither have the fruit without the tree, nor the tree without the fruit. He knows only the one requirement of the gospel—love; yet only the love blossoming in a heart purified through faith. Here, as afterwards more frequently, purity of faith and purity of conscience are linked in their inmost relationship.

4. “Love, out of a pure heart,” &c. In this Statement of the chief requisite of Christianity there is confirmed the essential unity of theology and morality, whose arbitrary separation so often does unmeasured injury to each, and has kept many from the right understanding of the gospel.

5. We have here a weighty help toward answering the question, how far the Mosaic law has a binding power. But fully to understand the Apostle’s mode of thought upon this subject, the Epistles to the Romans and Galatians must be specially compared. Here, also, Paul appears the same glowing and zealous advocate, as he had before shows himself, of the right of Christian freedom. While he exalts the worth of the law in its own proper sphere, beyond any disparagement, he shows its entire insufficiency whenever it is placed by the side of, or above the gospel.

6. We find the chief forms of Judaism in the time of our Lord, again existing in His earliest church—Pharisaism and Sadduceeism. Against this united power of self-righteousness and unrighteousness, the disciple no less than the Master is pledged to bear the sword of the Spirit with all power ( Matthew 16:6).

7. A precept, of the first importance in pastoral theology, is here given by the Apostle to the preachers of the Word. It is not enough to preach the truth free from all error; but they are also bound to contend with every energy against error. Persecution of heretics is indeed unchristian and unevangelical, and its frightful traces remain on many a page of Church history, marked with blood and tears. Yet he would be no less to blame, who, like Timothy a ruler in the church, capable of large in fluence, should allow the errorist to go unchecked, and remain satisfied, if not himself corrupted by the leaven of error. The bee which has lost its sting can produce no more honey. The saying of Calvin is that of every true witness of Jesus Christ: “A dog barks loudly when one seizes his master; and should I be silent when the truth of God is assailed?” Polemics against leading heretics ought not to be the chief staple of gospel preaching; nor should this be wholly and always lost sight of.

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

No doctrine should be permitted or preached in the church but the unadulterated apostolic doctrine.—The relation of Mythology to Christianity.—The difference between the holy “mystery of the gospel,” and a sickly mysticism.—A sermon whose first and last fruit is strife and dispute, instead of the promotion of the Divine way of redemption, is thereby self-condemned.—The sum of the commandment: (1) No Christianity without love; (2) no Christian love without purity of heart; (3) no purity of heart without a good conscience; (4) no good conscience without an unsullied faith.—How far we may swerve from the end of the Divine Revelation, even when we believe ourselves very near to it.—The attitude of the Christian toward the law.—Among the confessors of the gospel there were and are at all times (1) some, who are neither under the law nor under grace; (2) others, who are indeed under the law, but not yet under grace; (3) others, who are under grace, and no more under the law.—The worth of the law as a Baruch, as a mirror, as a seal. [German: Riegel, Spiegel, u. Siegel.]—For whom the law is given, and for whom not.—The Christian redeemed from the curse of the law, so that the righteousness required by the law is fulfilled in him.—Every gross or slight, open or concealed immorality, is directly opposed to sound doctrine.—A noble eulogy of the gospel: (1) The gospel of the glory of God; (2) this God, the blessed God; (3) through this blessed God, the ministry of the gospel is entrusted to a man like Paul.—Every estimate of the law that does not accord with the gospel of Paul deserves to be rejected.—The ceaseless alternation of Legalism and Antinomianism in the Christian Church: (1) Its traces; (2) its causes; (3) its import; (4) its only remedy.—[Ignatius: Ἀρχὴ μὲν πίστις, τέλος τὲ ἀλάπη. Faith the beginning, but love the end, or final cause.—W.]

Starke: Osiander: The pure doctrine is a great gift of God, therefore it is to be guarded well; a costly loan, therefore to be well laid out.—Lange’s Opus Bibl.: Pure doctrine and a godly life must always go together.—Hedinger: What helps not growth in godliness, we ought to banish from church and school.—Anton: If the enemy cannot else lead us astray in our Christianity, he sings to us of high things, which common Christians do not know.—Lange’s Op.: Theologians must especially care that they do not become loose talkers, and thus corrupters of others.—In nothing is pride more perceptible, more hurtful, and perilous, than in spiritual things.—Every preacher of the gospel is also a teacher of the law; for the gospel shows how man can and ought to hold the law of God in the gospel way.—Quesnel: Gospel doctrine does not so hold up faith as to bend the law ( 1 Corinthians 9:21).—Sins must not be judged by human fancy, but according to the law and the gospel.—Sins that are forbidden in the law, are also contrary to the gospel ( Romans 3:31).—Anton: In the office of preacher, the whole aim must be to know the gospel as a gospel of the glory of God ( 2 Corinthians 4:6).

[Cudworth, Sermon I.: Christ came not into the world to fill our heads with mere speculations, to kindle a fire of wrangling and contentious dispute, whilst, in the mean time, our hearts remain all ire within toward God. Christ was vitæ magister, not scholæ; and he is the best Christian whose heart beats with the purest pulse toward heaven; not Hebrews, whose head spinneth out the finest cobwebs. Ink and paper can never make us Christians—can never beget a new nature, a living principle in us—can never form Christ, or any true notions of spiritual things, in our hearts. A painter that would draw a rose, though he may flourish some likeness of it in figure and color, yet he can never paint the scent and fragrancy.—Donne, Sermons: As the soul is infused by God, but diffused over the whole body, and so there is a man; so faith is infused from God, but diffused into our works, and so there is a saint. Practice is the incarnation of faith; faith is incorporate and manifest in a body by works.—W.]

Footnotes:

FN#1 - Latin: Incipit ad Timotheum prima. English Version: The First Epistle of Paul the Apostle to Timothy; which is a translation of the title in the Recepta.

FN#2 - 1 Timothy 1:1.—[χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ, instead of Ἰησ. Χριστ., the reading of the Recepta, and of Lachmann also. The Sinaiticus has Ἰησ.—E. H.]

FN#3 - 1 Timothy 1:1.—[κατ’ ἐπιταγήν. So all the authorities. The Sinaiticus has κατ’ ἐπαγγελίαν = according to the promise, &c.; cf. 1 Timothy 1:1. But the true reading, doubtless, is the received.—E. H.]

FN#4 - 1 Timothy 1:1.—[Θεοῦ σωτῆρος ἡμῶν; the order of these words varies much in the later MSS. See Tischendorf; so Huther.—E. H.]

FN#5 - 1 Timothy 1:1.—Received text: Lord Jesus Christ. [Omitted by Lachmann and Tischendorf; found in the Sinaiticus. In the Minuscules, καὶ is left out, or placed sometimes before σωτῆρος, according to Huther.—E. H.]

FN#6 - 1 Timothy 1:2.—[ἡμῶν; in the Recepta, but to be omitted; is omitted by our author in his text.—E. H.]

FN#7 - 1 Timothy 1:2.—[Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ; so Lachmann and Tischendorf, supported by the weightiest authorities. The Sinaiticus the same.—E. H.]

FN#8 - 1 Timothy 1:3.—[No apodosis to καθώς. Lachmann brackets 1 Timothy 1:5-17; but this scarcely meets the case. Perhaps we had better supply, with our author, at the end of 1 Timothy 1:4, so now also I exhort thee. So likewise Conybeare and Howson.—E. H.]

FN#9 - 1 Timothy 1:4.—Dispensation (Haushaltung), according to the reading οἰκονομίαν, instead of the οἰκοδομίαν of the Recepta, which has scarcely any critical confirmation at all. The reading οἰκονομίαν is supported by such weighty authorities (now also by the Sinaiticus), that its accuracy cannot be doubted. Matthäi says: “οἰκονομἰαν, ita omnes omnino mei, ac ii quidem, qui scholia habent, etiam in scholiis uti quoque interpretes editi. οἰκοδομίαν nihil nisi error est typothetarum Erasmi, δ cum ν confuso nisi Erasmus deliberate ita correxerit ad latinum: ædificationem;” Huther.

FN#10 - 1 Timothy 1:8.—[Lachmann, on the authority of A, reads χρήσητοι; the rest have χρῆται. So also the Sinaiticus.—E. H.]

FN#11 - 1 Timothy 1:9.—[πατρολῴαις, μητρολῴαις. Lachmann, Tischendorf, Sinaiticus, instead of πατρα., μητρα.—E. H.]


Verses 12-17

III

The Apostle’s communication upon his calling to the ministry of the gospel, and upon the grace, in its high significance, which was glorified in him by his conversion.—Doxology

1 Timothy 1:12-17

12And[FN12] I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; 13Who was before[FN13] a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious [insolent]: but I obtained mercy, 14because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And [But] the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus 15 This is a faithful saying [Faithful is the saying], and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief [first amongst whom am I]. 16Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first [i. e., sinner] Jesus Christ might shew forth all[FN14] long-suffering, for a pattern to17[of?] them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting. Now unto the King eternal [of ages], immortal, invisible, the only wise [alone wise][FN15] God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

1 Timothy 1:12. And I thank, &c. Criticism asks how this sentence can have any just connection with the rest, and finds in this prominent setting forth of the apostolate a ground of doubt. Psychology might better ask, whether a man like Paul, in a familiar letter, could withhold such an expression, since in 1 Timothy 1:11, he had begun to speak of his high prerogative. Besides, this personal allusion is the less out of place, because, among the heretics at Ephesus, there were some certainly who sought to undermine the authority of Paul by allusions to his former history, or even by venturing doubts of his miraculous calling from the Lord. This reference to himself was, again, most appropriate, as an illustration from his own living experience, of his statement in 1 Timothy 1:8-11, in relation to the law and the gospel.—Who hath enabled me. We need not refer this exclusively to ability for the conversion of men (Bengel), or for the endurance of trial (Chrysostom), or for the doing of miracles (Mack), although none of these need be left out. Without any limitation, Paul refers here to the Divine power which he had in every way received, from the time of his calling to the present. “Quo verbo non modo intelligit, se dei manu principio esse formatum, ut idoneus ad munus suum foret, sed simul complectitur continuam gratiæ subministrationem. Neque enim satis fuisset, semel esse fidelem declaratum, nisi eum perpetuo auxilio confirmasset Christus;” Calvin.—For that he into the ministry, πιστόν με ἡγήσατο. Fidelity is the trait especially required of the ministers of the gospel (comp. 1 Corinthians 4:2). Thus the Lord counted Paul faithful—in other words, saw in him one who would prove faithful; and this was the mark of Christ’s trust, that He had given him such an office, θέμενος εἰς διακονίαν; just as a proprietor gives one of his dependents a striking proof of his confidence, when he makes him steward over the rest. The omniscient Lord of the Church foresaw Paul’s fidelity, and sanctified him as a chosen instrument. That the Apostle regarded this fidelity not as of his own merit, but as a gift of grace, appears from 1 Corinthians 7:25.

1 Timothy 1:13. Who was before, &c. A fuller confession of his former character, in order to express more clearly the ground of his thankfulness ( 1 Timothy 1:12).—Blasphemer, against the name and truth of the Lord (comp. Acts 16:11).—Persecutor, of Christians, both in word and in deed (comp. Acts 22:4; Galatians 1:13).—Injurious, ὑβριστής, (comp. Matthew 22:6; Romans 1:30). “The last phrase strengthens the preceding, as it refers to the abuse springing from arrogance and contempt of others;” Wiesinger.—But I obtained mercy, &c. Not only because he obtained forgiveness of sins, but because, also, he was called to the apostolic office, established in it, and counted faithful; 1 Timothy 1:12. And why? Because I did it ignorantly, in unbelief. The Apostle does not at all deny that his unbelief was sinful, and thus deserving of punishment; he here refers merely to the one fact, which should mitigate this just sentence. The ἄγνοια in which he had lived made forgiveness possible, since he had not yet begun to sin against the Holy Ghost (comp. Luke 12:45; Luke 23:34; Matthew 12:31-32). His ignorance did not at all merit forgiveness, but it left the possibility of it, without impairing the holiness and righteousness of the Lord. The positive ground of this act of mercy lay, at last, altogether in the Divine grace (comp. 1 Timothy 1:14 and Titus 3:5). [“How could Christ have judged St. Paul faithful, when a persecutor? Some of the schoolmen, as Aquinas, suppose that πιστός is said by anticipation of St. Paul’s future character, ex provisis meritis;” Wordsworth.—W.]

1 Timothy 1:14. And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant, ὑπερεπλεόναδε—the only instance in which this word is found in Paul. When he speaks of sin ( Romans 5:20), he there uses the word ἐπλεόνασεν; when, on the contrary, he tells of the mercy bestowed on him, he adds this most significant ὑπέρ. It is as if he wrestled with speech, fully to utter his overpowering feeling.—With faith and love, which is in Christ Jesus. Faith—not a childlike trust in God in general, but a faith whose object is Christ; here, as commonly in the Epistles of Paul, a faith united with love to Christ. “Not the love that Christ has and exercises, but that which He imparts to men” (Olshausen). This faith and this love are ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ, because Jesus Himself is their centre (comp. Colossians 1:4). And when the Apostle says that the grace of the Lord was exceeding abundant, with faith and love (μετά), he does not consider the process or the effects of this grace, but that personal, inward life in men which accompanies it: indicatur, π.κ.ἀ., quasi comites fuisse illiusΧάριτος (Leo). Through this faith and this love he had reached the real possession and enjoyment of the mercy with which the Lord, of His free grace, had enriched him.

1 Timothy 1:15. Faithful saying, &c. Bengel: “Πιστός, fidus, gravissima præfandi formula. Scit Paulus, quod dicit et de quo confirmet ipsaque sermonis simplicitate refutat secus docentes, eo communiora tractans, sed decore, quo abstrusiora affectabant alii. Sic quoque;Titus 2:1.—And worthy of all acceptance, πάσης ἀποδοχῆς, worthy of belief without any reservation whatever. The Apostle means an acceptance from which every doubt is excluded, and which thus acts through the intellect as well as the heart.—That Christ Jesus, &c. The expression, came into the world, has its full exposition in the truth of our Lord’s pre-existence (comp. John 16:32). The word κόσμος is here to be understood not in a moral, but in a physical sense, as an opposite to the higher moral order of the world. Paul states the object of this incarnation without any limit whatever; for which reason, too, the article is omitted, ἀμαρτωλοὺς σῶσαι (comp. Luke 19:10; Romans 5:6). The Pauline conception of αωτηρία is not opposed to a state of unhappiness in general, but to a lost state: “Subest in hoc verbo emphasis, nam qui officium Christi esse fatentur salvare, cogitationem tamen hanc difficilius admittunt, quod ejusmodi salus ad peccatores pertineat. Semper enim abripitur sensus noster ad respectum dignitatis, simul atque indignitas apparet, conzidit fiducia;” Calvin.—Of whom I am chief. In a psychological view, it is noticeable how much trouble commentators have taken to turn aside from the clear import of this word, being more concerned, apparently, for the honor of Paul than he was himself. The best of these explanations may be found in De Wette. But whoever believes that a personal confession like this exceeds the bounds of truth, proves that he has very little conception of the humility and love of the Apostle, who freely allows that he is chief in the long catalogue of sinners, because he knows his own sin better than that of others, and gladly, too, esteems others better than himself (comp. 1 Corinthians 15:9; Philippians 2:3; Ephesians 3:8).

1 Timothy 1:16. Howbeit, for this, &c. In proportion to the depth of his humility, he rises now in boldness of faith. Should any one wonder that such grace had reached the chief of sinners, Paul sets against this the cause (ἀλλά), and shows the worldwide significance of his own conversion. So great a sinner had for this very reason received grace, ἵνα Χριστὸς Ἰησοῦς ἐνδείξηται τήν ἅπασαν μακροθυμίαν.—Long-suffering. The Divine attribute of the Lord, whereby He does not at once punish the sinner, but prolongs the opportunity of repentance. In the pardon of one less wicked than Paul, this grace could not have shown its full glory; but in him, τῷ πρώτῳ, is revealed ἄπασα μακροθ, so that Paul’s conversion appears a very marvel of the love of Jesus Christ for sinners. How much farther the purpose of this miracle reaches than to the Apostle and his contemporaries, is evident from what immediately follows.—For a pattern to them to life everlasting. By the word ὑποτύπωσις, which is used again only in 2 Timothy 1:13, is denoted the original, normal, typical character of the event (τύπος, Romans 5:14; ὐπόδειγμα, 2 Peter 2:6). Paul stood before the eyes of all after generations as a witness to the power, the grace, and the love of the Lord; so that the greatest of sinners need not doubt that grace. The Lord had dealt with him as the king of a rebellious city, who should release at once the rebel chief; as a physician in an hospital, who should cure the most diseased; so that thenceforth no guilty, no sick, need doubt the possibility of grace and salvation. In this sense Paul was a type, τῶν μελλόντων πιστεύειν ἐπ’ ἀυτῷ; “not so much in himself as an object of faith, but rather in his trustful belief, as the perfect assurance of our salvation,” Romans 9:33; Matthies. The aim of this believing trust appears again from what immediately follows: εἰς ζωὴν αἰώνιον. See, in Bengel, another less probable relation of the thought. It is not strange that, when the Apostle gives to this grace toward him a significance so great for all coming ages, his heart rises in a hymn of thanksgiving ( 1 Timothy 1:17). And no wonder, also, that he speaks so fully here of his highest privilege; for not by the law, but the gospel only, could he praise the mercy of the Lord to him, and to so many after him. Thus this whole confession serves also as the confutation of the heretics, who had placed the former above the latter (comp. 1 Timothy 1:6-10).

1 Timothy 1:17. Now unto the King eternal, τῶν αἰώνων. According to some, King of the worlds; αἰῶνες is here taken in the sense of Hebrews 1:2; Song of Solomon, e.g., Leo: regem totius mundi. It is better, however, on account of the preceding τῶν μελλ. πιστ., to suppose that the Apostle had in his mind not the conception of space, but that of the succession of ages. Only in the process of time can the typical significance of the conversion of Paul ( 1 Timothy 1:16) be fully realized; and God is the King of all the ages, in whom the later believers are brought together. The conception that the kingdom of God is an eternal dominion, lies not so much in the words τῶν αἰώνων (Wiesinger), as in the following ἀφθάρτῳ. It may be that this lofty yet rare expression (it occurs only in the Apocrypha of the Old Testament; comp. also Psalm 145:13) may have flowed the more readily from the pen of the Apostle, because, in this letter, he opposes those heretics of Gnostic tendency who were wont to speak of Æons in an entirely different and fanciful sense.—Immortal (comp. Romans 1:23 and 1 Timothy 6:16), who alone has immortality.—Invisible, not only who is not seen, but who, in the nature of the case, cannot be seen (comp. John 1:18; 1 Timothy 6:16; Hebrews 11:27).Only.Σοφῷ with μόνῳ is a spurious interpolation, probably transferred from Romans 16:27.—Forever and ever (comp. Galatians 1:5; Philippians 4:20), [Most recent English expositors agree with the German in rejecting σοφῷ; e.g., Alford, Ellicott, Conybeare.—W.] This doxology, if compared with others, shows in every feature such a Pauline character, that it de serves to be placed among the evidences for, not against (Schleiermacher, and others), the genuineness of the Pastoral Epistles.

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. It is admitted that Paul was wont to regard the whole history of the Divine Revelation, under the old covenant, from a typical and symbolic standpoint. The creation, for instance, of the man and the woman, the first sin, the life of faith in Abraham, the relation between Sarai and Hagar, the passage of the Israelites through the Red Sea, and their fortune in the desert, are not isolated historic facts, but point with higher significance to great truths, or to ever-recurring laws (see 1 Corinthians 10:1, &c.; Galatians 4:23, and elsewhere). In the same manner he considers the event of his own conversion. It stands before his view as a mirror, which images the mercy of the Lord to the greatest sinner in all succeeding times. This thought gives us the point of view from which we must always regard the most striking examples of Christ’s power. The Lord works not only dynamically, but symbolically; and every new act of His might and love is a sign of what He will continually repeat in still higher measure.

2. The conversion of Paul is one of the highest revelations of the majesty and power of the Divine grace. We see in it a grace not only overpowering and searching, but forgiving, strengthening, and purifying. It is alike clear what are the natural and insurmountable barriers in the reception of this grace; as where one sins wilfully, so that there remains no more offering for sin ( Hebrews 10:26). Had Paul had no ἄγνοια, his forgiveness would have been quite impossible, since, in that case, he would have committed a sin unto death ( 1 John 5:16-17), by which the inward link of connection with the Divine mercy, salvation, and atonement would have been entirely wanting.

3. We find a self-revelation like this of Paul, on a larger basis, in the confessions of S. Augustin. It is worth our study, in an ethical view, to compare, with this feeling of personal unworthiness, the gross Pelagian self-conceit of Rousseau’s confessions. It is this union of the deepest humility with the most unshaken faith, that unlocks the secret of such singular grandeur of character in Paul.

4. “Christ Jesus came into the world,” &c.—a gospel within a gospel; as John 3:16; 1 John 4:9-10, and several other places. Observe how simple the Apostle’s confession of faith becomes, as he draws nearer to the close of life. In the great antithesis of sin and grace, all is finally resolved. The gospel a glad message for the lost; this is all, but this is enough. Here is exactly seen the accord, on one side, which the gospel finds, and, on the other, the discord against which it clashes.

5. As with Paul, so with many since, we see how the worst foes of the truth, after their conversion, have become its strongest witnesses. Thus, S. Augustin; later, John Newton; in the history of missions, Van der Kemp, and many others.—The natural cause and deep significance of this fact.

6. If the conversion of a single Paul called forth such a hymn of thanksgiving, how much louder will it resound when the kingdom of God is come, and all His wonderful ways for the redemption of the manifold millions are revealed before all saints.

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

No higher ground of thanksgiving than for conversion to the truth.—The great contrast between the once and the now in the life of Paul. How far it must be repeated with every Christian.—The glory of the minister of the gospel whom the Lord has counted faithful, and has placed in office.—The difference between pardonable and unpardonable sin.—How far the ignorance of unbelief is self-condemned.—The conversion of Paul an evidence of the power of grace: (1) No fall so deep that grace cannot descend to it; (2) no height so lofty that grace cannot lift the sinner to it.—The inseparable union of grace on the side of the Lord, and of faith and love on the side of the sinner.—Faith and love no meritorious cause of grace, but only the means through which it is appropriated.—That “mercy has been given to me,” the highest boast of faith.—What grace works in the sinner, before, in, and after his conversion.—In what way the Christian, after the pattern of Paul, must look back on his early errors: (1) With thanksgiving for his redemption ( 1 Timothy 1:12); (2) with constant humility ( 1 Timothy 1:13-15); (3) with unshaken and steadfast faith; (4) with glad glorifying of the Lord ( 1 Timothy 1:17).—The great end of the manifestation of the Son of God in the world.—The gospel a glad message, which (1) embraces all sinners; (2) is worthy of all acceptance.—Paul a pattern of the deepest humility, united with the greatest faith.—“Of whom I am chief”: (1) How far can each one repeat this word for himself? (2) why is this confession necessary? Without it, (a) there is no desire for redemption; (b) no delight in redemption; (c) no knowledge of the worth of redemption.—What can the greatest sinner learn for his encouragement and guidance from the pardoned Paul?—God the King of the ages: (1) He sways them with His mighty will; (2) He outlives them on His eternal throne.—The glorification of God the highest end of redemption.—The conversion of Paul a worthy subject for the glorifying of God on earth and in heaven (comp. Galatians 1:24).

“Of whom I am chief,” a beautiful preparatory theme for the Holy Supper. “I have obtained mercy,” an appropriate subject for the celebration of the Supper itself. “Now unto the King eternal,” a fitting topic for the sermon of thanksgiving, where, as through Holland, it is preached after the celebration of the Supper. 1 Timothy 1:12 specially suited for an ordination, or for a church festival.

Starke: Lange’s Op.: In the work of our conversion, we must ascribe nothing to our own power, but all to God ( Philippians 2:13). Every teacher must be sure of his Divine call to the office ( Acts 20:28).—Although he who is justified knows that he has forgiveness of sins, still he regards that time of his life with a constant feeling of shame; yet this will be joined with a spirit childlike and resigned to the will of God.—Osiander: The grace of God is the richer and more abundant the greater our transgressions have been, when we have repented truly and from the heart ( Romans 5:20).—As often as the example of a converted sinner is offered in the sacred Scriptures, our faith in the forgiveness of sins should be strengthened.—Is God an eternal King? We need not fear that tyrants will drive Him from the throne of His majesty. Since He cannot die, let us fly to Him in all our trials, and reflect, God still lives!—Heubner: Because Paul acted openly and sincerely as a persecutor, God accepted him. Here the saying of Johnson applies: “I love a good hater;” i. e., I love one who, with true, frank conviction, is opposed to me.—Christianity is for sinners, not for the righteous.—The long-suffering forbearance of God toward the unbelieving.—What incalculable results may come from the conversion of a sinner!

1 Timothy 1:12-17. The Epistle for the seventh Sunday after Trinity, in the Grand Duchy of Hesse, and elsewhere: Beck: Mercy meets us as (1) the ground; (2) the way; (3) the end.—Lindemann: How encouraging a faith is this faith in the mercy of God! It awakens us (1) to sincere humility; (2) to steadfast patience; (3) to heartfelt repose; (4) to a thankful joy.—Schmaltz: The blessedness of grace.—Alt: Man in his rejoicing over the gracious work of God.—Natorp: What deep cause we have to humble ourselves before God.—Ad. Monod: The signs of a true conversion shown in the example of Paul: (1) What it is; (2) what its purpose; (3) how it originates. See his third sermon on Paul, in the introduction of the work already mentioned.

[Jeremy Taylor: This consideration St. Paul urged as a reason why God forgave him, because he did it ignorantly. For heresy is not an error of the understanding, but of the will. And this is clearly insinuated in Scripture, wherein faith and a good life are made one duty, and vice is called opposite to faith, and heresy opposed to holiness.—Bishop Hall: “To save sinners.” Add, if thou wilt, “whereof I am chief.” Thou canst say no worse of thyself than a better man said before thee, who, in the right of a sinner, claimed the benefit of a Saviour.—W.]

Footnotes:

FN#12 - 1 Timothy 1:12.—καί is wanting in A. F. G, and others, and upon this account has been left out by Lachmann. On the other hand, it is retained by Tischendorf. It is not in the Sinaiticus.

FN#13 - 1 Timothy 1:13.—[Τὸν προτ., Recepta. The authorities are in favor of τό. So also Lachmann, Tischendorf, and the Sinaiticus. Τὸν was probably an attempted correction of the text. After ὄντα Lachmann inserts με; Tischendorf omits; not in the Sinaiticus.—E. H.]

FN#14 - 1 Timothy 1:16.—[πᾶσαν; ἅπασαν is the reading adopted by modern critics. So also in the Sinaiticus.—E. H.]

FN#15 - 1 Timothy 1:17.—Received text: μόνῳ σοφῷ; wherefore, also, Luther: “To the alone wise.” On the ground of A. D1 F. G, and others, Griesbach removes σοφῷ from the text; and his example has been almost universally followed. σοφῷ is also not in the Sinaiticus. [The English Version, like Luther, “only wise.”—E. H.]


Verses 18-20

IV

Paul exhorts Timothy to fight the good fight, and strengthens this exhortation by referring him to the falling away and condemnation of some, two of whom he mentions by name

1 Timothy 1:18-20

18This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by [in] them mightest war[FN16] a good warfare; 19Holding faith and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck: 20Of whom is Hymeneus[FN17] and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn [be taught] not to blaspheme.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

1 Timothy 1:18. This charge I commit unto thee, παρατίθεμαι, committo tibi; yet not ut auditoribus proponas (Bengel); for it is obviously a precept for the official life and work of Timothy himself. Here the Apostle, after his more personal disclosure ( 1 Timothy 1:5-17), returns to his original exhortation ( 1 Timothy 1:3-4), and again directly addresses Timothy, whom he has for awhile lost sight of. The question, what παραγγελία properly means, is differently answered by commentators. It seems best to seek the answer in the clause immediately following, ἵνα στρατ., κ.τ.λ., and thus to explain ἵνα as a particle referring to the object. Thus Matthies, De Wette, Wiesinger, Huther, and others. It is not so much a command, in the strict sense of the word, as a tender, fatherly counsel, that Timothy shall show himself a true soldier of Jesus Christ, and so fulfil the high expectations that were justly cherished concerning him. We notice here that Paul already employs military figures (Otto). Παραγγελία is used of a military command; Xenophon, Hell. 11. Paul, in a Christian sense, assigns to Timothy the command against the heretics.—According to the prophecies which went before on thee. Heubner: “According to the good hopes which thou didst awaken in thy youth—hopes that wise, devout men expressed of thee, and likewise prophetically foretold, as Staupitz in the case of Luther.” Instead of this superficial view, we have every reason to refer these words to the χάρισμα τῆς προφητείας in the Christian Church at the time of the Apostle, and to compare it with 1 Timothy 4:14; 2 Timothy 1:6. Prophesyings are here, as always in the New Testament, spoken of as the fruit of a supernatural influence of the Holy Ghost; and we can easily conceive that such utterances were not wanting at the solemn ordination of Timothy to the ministry of the Gospel. These prophesyings went before in him (προαγούσας ἐπί σε), preceding his entrance upon his Christian course; and Timothy would turn this hope to shame, if he shewed himself untrue to his calling. Ἐν αὐταῖς, in conformity to them. The view, that those prophesyings were the weapons which Timothy must put on for the conflict, seems too artificial, and not strictly Pauline; it is simpler to regard them as the rule which must determine his conduct, or, if we will, as the limits within which he must act.—War a good warfare. De Wette is too general: “That thou, in the conduct of thy office, demean thyself worthily and bravely.” Far more happily Luther: “That thou therein do a knightly work.” Στρατεία here does not mean the conflict of the Christian life in general, but the conflict as a leader in the church, which Timothy was to wage specially against the heretics of his day. It is a warfare, in a strict sense of the word, under the banner of the King of kings. For a correct understanding of the figurative expression, comp. 2 Corinthians 10:4; Ephesians 6:10-18; 1 Thessalonians 5:8; 2 Timothy 2:3; 2 Timothy 2:5.—Chrysostom: διὰ τί καλεῖ στρατείαν τὸ πρᾶγμα; δηλῶν, ὅτι πόλεμος ἐγήγερται σφοδρὰς πᾶσι μὲν μάλιστα δὲ τῷ διδασκάλῳ.

1 Timothy 1:19. Holding faith and a good conscience. In the conflict which we wage outwardly against the enemy, our chief concern is with the inner state and disposition of the heart. Ἔχων is here to be taken in the sense of κατέχων, as the participial connective denotes the manner in which Timothy must follow the exhortation ( 1 Timothy 1:18). That faith is here set forth as a weapon, as Ephesians 6:16 (according to Matthies), is improbable, on account of the inner connection of πίστιν and συνείδνσιν ἀγαθήν. The Apostle simply means that Timothy shall guard both—that Isaiah, shall hold fast, and not renounce them. There is thus the same connection of faith and conscience here as in 1 Timothy 1:5. Unbelief is with the Apostle not theoretical, but practical—bound with the inward state of our moral life, as is shown by what immediately follows.—Which some having put away, &c. The sense is: through the defilement of a good conscience, some have lost not only this, but also the faith which they before possessed. Ἥν τινὲς ἀπωσάμενοι; which—i. e., a good conscience—some have rejected, as a troublesome creditor whom they will be rid of at any cost.—Have suffered shipwreck. Ναυαγεῖν is a word used in Greek, Roman, and Hebrew writers, and common with us to denote severe, irrecoverable losses. It is only found in the New Testament, in its proper sense, in 2 Corinthians 11:25, and here in a figurative sense. Should it be thought that the image of a shipwreck had in the preceding ἀπωσάμενοι passed before the mind of Paul, then a good conscience must be regarded not as the rudder (Mack), but as the anchor (Wiesinger), with whose loss the whole vessel is ruined. The proposition, περὶ, c. accus., denotes especially what they had lost in the wreck. “Metaphora a naufragio, sumpta aptissime quadrat, nam innuit, ut salva fides ad portum usque pervenit, navigationis nostræ cursum bona conscientia regendum esse, alias naufragii esse periculum, hoc Esther, ne fides mala conscientia tanquam gurgite in mari procelloso immergatur;” Calvin.

1 Timothy 1:20. Of whom is Hymeneus and Alexander. Hymeneus; perhaps the same mentioned in 2 Timothy 2:17. Alexander; probably not the same mentioned in 2 Timothy 4:14 as χαλκεύς, since, in this case, the excommunication would have the appearance of personal revenge; perhaps we should refer it to the Ephesian named in Acts 19:33, who, without doubt, was well enough known to Timothy.—Whom I have delivered unto Satan. The formal sentence of excommunication, by which any were separated from the church and given over to the powers of darkness which ruled in heathendom ( Colossians 1:13 and 1 Corinthians 5:5). Here, as in the passages just cited, the Apostle seems to point mentally εἰς ὄλεθρ. τῆς σαρκός, as may be inferred from the following ἵνα παιδευθ., κ.τ.λ., which, however, should not be regarded as the effect of the ban of the church per se, but rather of a just, divine recompense. That the Apostle here speaks only of what he had done in his own mind (Planck, Matthies), is mere conjecture. The expression admits of no other explanation than that of a fact already completed, which he either for the first time disclosed to Timothy, or for good reasons mentioned again.—That they may learn, ἵνα παιδευθῶσι, with the added thought of the chastisement which, in the view of the Apostle, ought to restrain them from a repetition of the blasphemy which, without doubt, they had already uttered against God and Christ. “Facto fidei naufragio, blasphemiæ periculum adest;” Bengel. [The phrase here used may probably have been drawn from the formula of excommunication used in the apostolic church. Alford thinks the delivering to Satan “an apostolic act for the purpose of correction, which might or might not be accompanied by extrusion from the church,” Vide in loco. But the solemn strength of the phrase seems hardly to admit the idea of a lesser penalty. The kingdoms of Christ and of Satan are conceived of as two opposites. Augustine well calls this discipline of excommunication, “Medicinalis vindicta, terribilis lenitas, charitatis severitas.” Ad Liter. Petilian. 3, 4.—W.]

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. As the life of the individual Christian is a constant warfare, so may the life of an upright minister of the gospel be specially regarded from this point of view; and above all, in the days when error lifts its head boldly and arrogantly, as in the time of Timothy. There Isaiah, however, a false lust for strife, as a false love of grace, against which the young minister of the word cannot be too earnestly warned. Striking suggestions as to the way in which he must wage the καλὴν στρατείαν, and guide his official life, may be found in the old, well-known work of J. Valentin Andreä, entitled, “The Good Life of a Righteous Servant of the Gospel,” which is referred to by Herder, in his “Letters on the Study of Theology,” and is still worthy of study. His contrast of the good and bad teacher ought not to be forgotten: “Præceptor bonus ducit, dum malus trahit; lucet ille, hic offuscat; docet ille, hic confundit; regit ille, hic impellit; excitat ille, hic deprimit; oblectat ille, hic angit; format ille, hic destruit. Paucis dicam: nisi præceptor ipse liber, imo bibliotheca, et museum inambulans sit, nisi laboris breviarum et manubrium, nisi linguarum artiumque repertorium et formula, nisi insuper patriæ et ecclesiæ ornamentum audiat, non sapit ad ingenium nostrum. Nam libros repetere et exigere, ad laborem agere et stimulare, præcepta, regulas dictaque obtrudere, cujus vis est; summam rei monstrare, facilitatem aperire, applicationem adhibere, usum docere, exemplo præire, denique ad Christum omnia referre, hoc opus, hic sudor Christianus Esther, quem nullæ orbis opes rependerint.” See Hagenbach’s “Lectures on the History of the Reformation,” in loco.

2. The Pauline conception of the inner relation of faith and conscience is of the highest significance. As unbelief nearly always leads either to grosser or more refined immorality, so not rarely it begins from an immoral ground, at least when faith existed before. This conception is thoroughly Pauline; comp. Romans 1:21; and, again, our Lord’s own view of it, John 7:17. It is a deep mental truth; for it is far too common to represent faith or infidelity as a matter of abstract opinion. Gospel truth is no mere work of the understanding or the memory; the light of the gospel is life, and its work is power. It can only then be grasped, when knowledge and affection and volition are joined, so that the thought has root in the affections, and activity in the will; as, reversely, an action severed from Christian knowledge and affection can never be Christian. It would be interesting to study the history of heresies from this point of view, and to seek the deepest moral ground of the greatest errors. On the other hand, it is obvious that a conscientious, moral life, is essential to the stability of the life of faith. Compare the essay of Ed. Guder on “The Scriptural Doctrine of Conscience;” Theol. Stud, und Kritik., 1857; Otto, p98.

3. What Paul says of Hymeneus and Alexander, shows us how highly he valued church discipline, and how much the looseness and indifference of many churches in this respect directly contradicts his spirit and example. Yet it should be noticed, that he only resorted to this in extreme cases, and then solely with the view to effect reformation by such punishment, and to save the soul from eternal harm. The inquisition of the Roman Church is thus as fully condemned here, as the indifference of many members of the evangelical church.

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

The Christian life, as well as that of every true minister of the gospel, a warfare.—Wo to the herald of the gospel who does not fulfil all that is justly expected of him.—Faith lost, all lost.—The inner connection of faith and conscience, of the religious and moral life.—The shipwreck of faith: (1) How easily one can suffer shipwreck; (2) how disastrous the end.—The sight of another’s apostasy ought to lead us to greater diligence, to greater truth and watchfulness.—Ecclesiastical discipline: (1) Its principle; (2) its right; (3) its purpose; (4) its mode; (5) its limits.—Even the punishment of sin may be transformed into blessing.

Starke: Lange’s Op.: Our spiritual strife does not cease, but lasts as long as we live, for our spiritual enemies never die.—What the eye is to the head, and the heart to the body, the conscience is to faith and to a complete Christianity.—It is very tender, and must therefore be well guarded.—It is not an unavoidable necessity that any should fall away from the grace of God, but rather it is possible and necessary to abide therein to the end ( 1 Corinthians 15:13).—Osiander: The departure of Hymeneus and Alexander from the pure doctrine, shows that some will always fall away, although the servants of the church fulfil their office truly ( 2 Corinthians 11:28). The Romish excommunication is different from the apostolic, as darkness from light; for it does not come from God, but is rather a work of Satan; not against the enemy, but to destroy the friends and witnesses of the truth ( John 16:2-3).—Heubner: The remembrance of the hopes of a former teacher is a great stimulus, an earnest call to be and to do what others have expected of us.—It is a grave truth: sinful life leads to unbelief; religion becomes doubtful; it is for our interest to doubt. Strive, then, earnestly to abide in communion with Christ—Chastisements are healing messengers of God for the recovery of men.

Footnotes:

FN#16 - 1 Timothy 1:18.—[στρατεύῃ. Recepta, Lachmann, Tischendorf, Sinaiticus, στρατεύση.—E. H.]

FN#17 - 1 Timothy 1:20.—[Sinaiticus, Ὑμένεος. But in 2 Timothy 2:17 it has Ὑμέναιος—the commonly received spelling.—E. H.]

 


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Bibliography Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 1:4". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/lcc/1-timothy-1.html. 1857-84.

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