1 Timothy 1
1Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus according to the commandment of God our Savior, and of Christ Jesus, who is our hope,
2To Timothy, my true child in the faith: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
Paul identifies himself as an apostle (a sent one of God who had seen the risen Christ) of Christ because it was Christ Who ordained his coming to faith and Who commissioned him as a missionary to the Gentiles. Paul has no other hope than Christ, but Christ is a sufficient hope for all things, including life, godliness, and eternal life. He writes to Timothy who he describes as his true child in the faith, given that he has had great opportunity to disciple him and send him out to further the work which he himself had begun. He wishes him grace, mercy, and peace from the Lord as Timothy will need all three to continue to stand for sound doctrine and live a life of godliness.
3As I urged you upon my departure for Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus so that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines,
4nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation rather than furthering the administration of God which is by faith.
Paul wanted Timothy to continue ministering and shepherding the church at Ephesus, particularly for the purpose of instructing them in sound doctrine and correcting those who taught incorrect doctrine. Some were getting caught up with myths and endless genealogies rather than the truth of the Scriptures. Perhaps they were inventing things and coming up with fanciful, fictitious interpretations of elements of the Old Testament. Perhaps they were trying to discern some hidden mystery from the Old Testament Scriptures. Paul wanted Timothy to simply preach the Word and not get carried away with mere speculations which lead to division and strife rather than maturity and peace. The purpose of sound teaching is to further the rule and dominion of God Who defines and personifies the truth. As sound doctrine is received, understood, believed, and obeyed, God’s kingdom moves forward. Getting caught up with and distracted by myths and theories about Biblical ideas does not advance the kingdom.
5But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.
The goal of the minister of God is to be involved in sound instruction according to the truth. The truth will work to enable people to love, to have a pure heart, and to have a sincere faith. The truth reveals our true motives and enables us to actually believe and obey the truth we claim to believe.
6For some men, straying from these things, have turned aside to fruitless discussion,
7wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions.
There were and are those who stray from the basics of sound doctrine, love, truth, purity, and sincerity, choosing rather to be involved in fruitless discussion. They might wax eloquent and present a lot of worldly wisdom, even attempting to draw from the principles of the Scriptures, but they will fail at advancing the kingdom because their doctrine is wrong. They don’t understand what they are talking about because they don’t understand the Bible. They speak confidently as if they know that they are right and as if they do understand the Bible, but they get off course and lead others astray. There is no true and lasting spiritual fruit from poor doctrine but only from the truth.
8But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully,
9realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers
10and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching,
11according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted.
The Law was given to show man his sinfulness and his inability to keep the holy standards and commandments of God. It is a tutor which leads us to the grace of the gospel of Christ (Galatians 3:24). No one is saved by living the perfect life but by believing in Christ Who alone fulfilled the righteous requirements of the Law (Romans 8:1-4). The only lawful use of the Law is to use it to help increase the sensitivity of a person’s heart to their own sin against a holy God. The Law was not made for the righteous who are saved by grace and therefore no longer under law but under grace (Romans 6:14). Rather, it was made to show those who are sinners the reality of their sin and to expose the reality of the futility of any self-righteous efforts. The Law shows us that none of us can possibly self-justify or rationalize our perfection, for we all have fallen short of God’s glorious standards (Romans 3:23). Examples of sin include those who fail to keep the law, who rebel against God, who are ungodly, who are unholy, who are profane, who kill, who commit sexual immorality, who kidnap, who lie, and who do anything else contrary to the truth of the Scripture. Any who believe or teach a false gospel will be judged on the basis of their evil deeds, while those who place their trust in Christ to forgive them will be saved.
12I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service,
13even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief;
14and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus.
Paul recognized that he had much to be thankful for, for Christ had strengthened him and enabled him to see the truth and to live faithfully in service to Christ. Formerly, he had been one who blasphemed against Christ, denying the true gospel and advancing false doctrine with great fervor. He imprisoned those who did believe in Christ and had many killed. God showed him mercy because he repented of his sin and believed in Christ after Christ came to him and revealed Himself to him. Paul realized that he had acted in ignorance, having been deceived into believing that justification was through keeping the Law. God’s grace would not hold him accountable for all of the evil that he did before he came to know Christ. Such is the abundant love and mercy of our God when we put our faith in the true gospel and the true Savior.
15It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.
16Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life.
Paul is adamant and certain that Christ came into the world to save sinners, and he viewed himself as the foremost of all, given all that he had done against Christ and the church. Yet God had a plan in all of this. If God could turn Paul’s life around and show him mercy, surely He could change the heart of any sinner who would believe in His name. God was patient with Paul, not wanting him to perish despite all of his evil deeds. He wanted him redeemed, and Paul did eventually come to repent. His life serves as a great example of God’s mercy and patience as He desires all to come to repentance (1 Timothy 2:4, 2 Peter 3:9, Ezekiel 18:32).
17Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
Paul can’t help but pause and praise God for His wonderful and gracious sovereign plan and that God would choose to save someone like him. He praises God for having no beginning and no end (Exodus 3:14), for being invisible (even though we can’t see Him, He still is at work all around us), and for being the only God. God is indeed deserving of all honor and glory.
18This command I entrust to you, Timothy, my son, in accordance with the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you fight the good fight,
19keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith.
20Among these are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan, so that they will be taught not to blaspheme.
Paul desires that Timothy fight the good fight, meaning that he remains faithful to Christ and to sound doctrine and that he stays pure in his own life and testimony. Evidently, there had been prophecies concerning Timothy regarding how he was to live and what he was to teach. He is to act according to God’s revealed will to him according to those prophecies. We, having the completed Word, no longer need prophecies, for the will of God for us is in the finished, written Scriptures. To reject a clear conscience is to indulge the flesh and risk being led away and enticed by evil desire after evil desire. This led Hymenaeus and Alexander to make shipwreck of their faith. These didn’t lose their salvation, for Paul turned them over to Satan to teach them not to blaspheme. They were to live apart from the benefits of church family and sound teaching, having to rely only on the strength of their own flesh and having only the diminishing pleasures of sin, which leads to destruction. Paul desired that these would see the error of their ways and then repent (1 Corinthians 5:5). Their souls were still going to make it to heaven, but their testimony had been ruined and their fruitbearing compromised. Paul didn’t want Timothy to make a similar mistake, and thus he reminds him to guard his conscience and walk in holiness. This is indeed a daily fight but a good fight. Sinners are not the enemies of the Christian, but our battle is against sin, the flesh, and the devil (Ephesians 6:12, Romans 13:14). We must fight for truth, for purity, and for preaching the gospel.