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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible

1 Timothy 1

 

 

Other Authors
Verse 1-2

I. Introductory

(a) 1 Timothy 1:1 f. Salutation.—Paul greets Timothy, his true son in the faith. The character of his communication leads him to write, even to a personal friend, in his official capacity as an apostle by Divine commandment.

1 Timothy 1:1. God our Saviour.—This title is not applied to God by Paul outside the Pastorals. It is, however, familiar in OT, and appears also in Luke 1:47 and Jude 1:25.—Christ Jesus our hope: cf. Colossians 1:27. This union of Christ Jesus with God as the source of Paul's apostle-ship, like their association in 2 under the vinculum of a single preposition, carries important theological implications.

1 Timothy 1:2. mercy: added to Paul's usual salutation only here and 2 Timothy 1:2, cf. 2 John 1:3.


Verses 3-11

(b) 1 Timothy 1:3-20. Reminder of Paul's Verbal Charge.

1 Timothy 1:3-11. The False Teaching, and a Digression on the Law.—Some years before, Paul had foretold that error would assail the Church in Asia (Acts 20:29 f.). His fear had now been realised. On his recent visit to Macedonia (Intro. § 5) he had already given Timothy instruction concerning it, and this he here renews. The authority of the errorists to teach is not disputed. Perhaps all Christian men could engage in teaching; Zahn, INT, ii. 96: it is the content of their doctrine that is challenged. This seems to have taken the forra of a speculative Judaism—its exponents posed as "teachers of the law"—dealing with legendary matter (e.g. the Haggadah) alien to the Gospel's purpose. Such doctrine is (a) evil in tendency, leading to "vain talking" and aimless discussions (including, perhaps, "the trivial casuistry which constituted no small part of the Halacha"—Hort) (cf. Titus 1:10); (b) irrelevant, missing the true end of the Christian teaching—not useless controversy, but love (1 Timothy 1:5)—and so constituting a "different doctrine" (1 Timothy 1:3); (c) ignorant, its propounders understanding neither their own assertions nor their subject-matter (1 Timothy 1:7). This disparaging reference to self-styled "teachers of the law," however—here follows a brief digression (1 Timothy 1:8-11)—does not imply condemnation of the Law itself. It is only its misuse that Paul deprecates. The Law is good if a teacher builds on knowledge of its true design, the restraining of wrongdoers. Such a view of the Law, indeed, is that which harmonises with Paul's own Gospel of God's glory.

1 Timothy 1:5. conscience and faith: viewed throughout the Pastorals as closely inter-related.

1 Timothy 1:6. swerved: perhaps "failed" or "forgotten" (Exp. VII, vi. 373).

1 Timothy 1:8. good: the Gr. word signifies beauty as well as goodness (cf. Romans 7:16).

1 Timothy 1:9. law: either the Mosaic Law or "law" in general, probably the former if the accompanying list of sins follows, as some hold, the order of the Decalogue. For supplementary view, see Romans 5:20. Moffatt (INT, p. 410) needlessly sees in this paragraph proof of the writer's sub-Pauline environment.—murderers: more probably "smiters" (mg.).

1 Timothy 1:10. sound: contrast 2 Timothy 2:17. This apt metaphor (cf. mg.), not found in Paul outside the Pastorals, was common in ancient Gr., and must have been familiar to him.—doctrine: the conception, found in the Pastorals, of a system of belief to be accepted and guarded, has erroneously been declared un-Pauline. Not only was it an inevitable development in the Church's thought, but it is revealed in Paul's earliest epistles (1 Thessalonians 4:1, 2 Thessalonians 2:15, 1 Corinthians 15:2 f., etc.).


Verses 12-17

1 Timothy 1:12-17. Further Digression on God's Mercy.—The connexion is not obvious. P. Ewald has suggested that 1 Timothy 1:12-17 has been displaced and should properly follow 1 Timothy 1:12. It is, however, in keeping with Paul's style that the mention of the Gospel entrusted to him should lead to such an outburst of thanksgiving. He, the persecutor, forgiven because ignorant (cf. Luke 23:34, and the close parallel in Testament of Judah 19:3), was counted trustworthy for God's service. To forgiveness was added salvation. For, accompanying Christ's grace to him, faith had supplanted his "unbelief," and love his former cruelty. In this mercy bestowed on himself he sees a special fitness. Since he, Paul, is chief of sinners (who but Paul could have written this?) it forms the supreme example of God's long-suffering with sinners generally.

1 Timothy 1:13. injurious: i.e. one who commits violent outrage.

1 Timothy 1:15. faithful is the saying: a formula, peculiar to the Pastorals, used to affirm that an assertion is reliable. It sometimes introduces, and sometimes follows, the declaration (either in an aphorism or in a formal statement of doctrine) of what is apparently an accepted belief. The saying here is plainly a familiar maxim, which implies Christ's pre-existence, confesses His Incarnation, but lays chief stress upon the work of salvation.—worthy, etc.: cf. Enoch, 94:1.—chief: as a man draws nearer to the light he gains a clearer vision of his own shadow.

1 Timothy 1:17. King eternal: rather, "King of the ages," i.e. of the great periods into which Jewish thought divided time. There is no allusion to the Gnostic "æons."—only God: some authorities wrongly insert "wise" from Romans 16:27.


Verses 18-20

1 Timothy 1:18-20. The Charge Renewed.—Paul now returns to the charge committed to Timothy (1 Timothy 1:3-5) from which he has been twice diverted. That charge, once given orally, has failed to achieve its end. He now recommits it to him in writing, reminding him of its consonance with the Divine promptings which pointed him out (mg.) for the ministry. Paul's purpose is that Timothy may fulfil his trust, rich in those possessions deliberate rejection of which results in shipwreck in the faith. Of this Hymenæus and Alexander are examples, whom Paul excommunicated, in the hope of their recovery.

1 Timothy 1:18. This charge: the general "charge" of the letter (to deal with the situation in Asia), explained in detail in 1 Timothy 2:1 ff. This is clear from "therefore" in 1 Timothy 2:1.—prophecies: these also accompanied Timothy's ordination (1 Timothy 4:14).—which: i.e. good conscience.—the faith: 1 Timothy 1:10*.

1 Timothy 1:20. Hymenæus: for his error cf. 2 Timothy 2:17 f.—Alexander: a common name. There is no proof of identity with any of the Alexanders of Acts 19:33, Mark 15:21, 2 Timothy 4:14.—delivered, etc.: probably excommunication, with infliction of bodily disease; cf. 1 Corinthians 5:5*, p. 649. A remedial, not a vindictive, act: Deissmann (Light from Ancient East, p. 203) connects it with the ancient custom of execration.

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 1:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/1-timothy-1.html. 1919.

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