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Bible Commentaries
1 Timothy 1

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

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Verses 1-20

First Timothy.

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour ( 1 Timothy 1:1 ),

And the Greek word is "the royal commandment" of God; it's a word that is used when a king had made a decree. It is interesting that Paul so often introduces himself as an apostle by the will of God. But here he declares he is an apostle by the commandment of God.

The word apostle is one who has been sent out; idea of an emissary or an ambassador. And that's exactly what Paul saw himself, as an ambassador of Jesus Christ, one whom the Lord had sent out to represent him in an alien country. We're in a world that's alien to God, but we are God's representatives here. We are here to represent God on this alien planet. And so "Paul," one who has been sent out by the royal decree, "by the commandment of God our Saviour."

Now there is quite a bit of Old Testament root in the idea of God our salvation. David mentions it in the psalms. Moses mentions it in Deuteronomy. Mary in the magnificat, "My soul that magnify the Lord, my spirit doth rejoice in God our Saviour" ( Luke 1:46-47 ). And so here is the first time that Paul uses the phrase or the term, "God our Saviour."

and Lord Jesus Christ, our hope ( 1 Timothy 1:1 );

God our Saviour, Jesus Christ, our hope.

Unto Timothy, my own son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord ( 1 Timothy 1:2 ).

Timothy lived in Lystra, a city that Paul visited in his first missionary journey. It is thought that Paul perhaps stayed in the house of Timothy on his first missionary journey. He knew his mother and grandmother. He knew how they had instructed Timothy in the word. He mentions Eunice and Lois. Timothy was just a very young boy in Paul's first journey to Lystra, but evidently at that time made a commitment of his life to Jesus Christ and always held Paul as sort of a hero. Fascinated by this man, he looked up to him.

On Paul's second missionary journey, though Timothy was still very young, probably in his mid-teens, he at this time became a companion of Paul and journeyed with him in his missionary endeavors. And so he is listed in many of Paul's writings. He was sent by Paul to Thessalonica to discover the welfare of the church. He had visited many of these churches with Paul, was familiar with the people; Paul sent him to Philippi with a letter to the Philippians and he said that he had no one who was like-minded as he was as Timothy. I mean, Timothy was just joined with Paul in heart and in spirit, in calling, in vision.

And so now Paul is writing to him and he addresses him as his son in the faith. "My own son in the faith." And so there was this special relationship that existed between Paul and Timothy, like that of a father and son. And I believe that Paul saw in Timothy a tremendous potential for one to carry on the ministry once Paul was taken, and so he poured his life into Timothy; he discipled Timothy. And this is one of the two letters that he wrote to Timothy of instruction, as a father to his son. So, "Unto Timothy, my own son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace."

Now in most of Paul's epistles, he says, "Grace and peace." Two epistles he adds "mercy", this one to Timothy and also his epistle to Titus, there is the addition of "mercy". There is a difference between grace and mercy; mercy is not getting what's coming to us. God is merciful. The Bible says, "As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high is God's mercy towards those that fear him" ( Psalms 103:11 ). God is very merciful. And though we deserve the judgment of God, God is merciful.

And though I have no, I have no argument that Hollywood and that area of Los Angeles doesn't deserve the judgment, I believe it does deserve the judgment of God, but God is merciful. I think that God would be totally just in wiping out San Francisco, Hollywood, and a lot of these areas, but God is merciful. We don't get what we deserve. And of course, if I got what I deserved, God would wipe me out, too. So who am I to talk about San Francisco or Hollywood? God is merciful. He does not reward us according to our iniquities.

Grace is a positive characteristic of God. Mercy is sort of a negative characteristic, in that you don't get what's coming to you. Grace is a positive characteristic; that is, getting what you don't deserve. I don't deserve all of the goodness of God. I don't deserve all of the blessings of God. I don't deserve all that God has done for me. But that's grace, God doing for me what I don't deserve; what I couldn't earn. What I don't and haven't merited. God just pouring out upon me the richness of His love and His goodness and His blessings; that's grace, and realizing that grace of God towards me, my spirit rests. And thus, I have the peace. So "Grace, mercy, and peace".

As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that you might charge some that they teach no other doctrine ( 1 Timothy 1:3 ),

So Paul was called of God to come over to Macedonia. Timothy was with him but Paul felt a necessity to send him back to Ephesus to instruct the church there, and though he was a young man, Paul encouraged him, "Don't let anybody despise your youth; be an example unto the believer" ( 1 Timothy 4:12 ). And so I sent you back to Ephesus that you might charge those that they not teach any other doctrine,

Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which only create questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith. Now the end of the commandment ( 1 Timothy 1:4-5 )

Or the effect, the sum total of the commandments of God,

is love out of a pure heart ( 1 Timothy 1:5 ),

A lawyer one day asked Jesus, "What is the greatest commandment?" He said, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, soul, mind, strength" ( Matthew 22:37 ). So that's what Paul is saying. Really the summation of the commandments is loving out of a pure heart. That's what it's all about. If I'm really following the commandments, that will be the effect, this loving out of a pure heart. How God does want us to just have this deep love for one another. That's what, that's the, if you want to sum up all of the commandments, it's summed up in that; loving, loving God and loving one another. That's what it's all about. That's what God desires of us. Loving with a pure heart,

a good conscience, and faith unfeigned ( 1 Timothy 1:5 ):

Or a true faith, a good conscience. Love. What great characteristics to possess; loving from a pure heart, just a good conscience. Paul said I have a conscience void of offence towards God. And then faith that is true, unfeigned. Now some have turned away from this, Paul said.

And they've turned aside to vain jangling; Desiring to be teachers of the law; but they don't understand what they are saying, nor the things that they affirm ( 1 Timothy 1:6-7 ).

Now Paul is warning against endless genealogies, questions that only create confusion or disputes. There's --there are honest questions and there are dishonest questions. There are some people who ask questions only because they want an argument; they don't want to know the truth. They have a position that they want to espouse, so they want to get you embroiled in an argument. And so they will ask a question, not really seeking an answer but seeking an argument. They want you to state your position so that they can then begin to attack your position; that I call a dishonest question. An honest question is the man who asks, desiring to know the answer. Now I personally do not have any time for dishonest questions. And I'll tell you, I got the gift of discernment when it comes to questions.

Of course, I know that certain groups have certain questions. And when someone comes up and they have the stock questions that they ask, I know exactly where they're coming from. And sometimes I treat them rather abruptly and people standing around said, "Oh, that poor brother wanted to know." I said he didn't want to know anything; he wanted to argue. I don't want to argue scripture. I don't think that anything is gained from arguing scripture, trading verses.

And so Paul is saying avoid these things. Tell the people to avoid these fables, endless genealogies, questions that are designed. That isn't why --that isn't where it's at. Our purpose should be to build up one another, not to cut at one another, tear down one another, challenge one another; but the true purpose is to build up one another. And these people, he said, they desire to be teachers and they speak with great authority, but they don't know what they're talking about. A lot of times when you don't know what you're talking about, it's important that you speak with authority.

I read of a minister who had his sermon all outlined, but then he had little notes of gestures that should be used at particular points in the sermon. And so at this particular point it says, Extend your arm outward, opening up your palm, you know, to the people, and so these vivid-type gestures. And he had all of his notes all the way down, how he was to gesture, where he was to look, when he was to smile and so forth, and the whole thing was all programmed out for him. Well, they do that. But down on the page it said, At this point yell like everything, because it's a weak point. And sometimes, you know, when our point is weak we got to yell it; we got to speak with authority.

But he said they really desire to be teachers but they don't know what they're talking about, they don't know the things that they are affirming to be so. These people were again trying to bring the people back under the law. And so Paul said,

We know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully ( 1 Timothy 1:8 );

Don't have any argument with the law. But then Paul comes in and he said,

But we know this, the law was not made for a righteous man ( 1 Timothy 1:9 ),

An interesting point. You see, a righteous man does not need any law. A man who lives by good principles doesn't need laws; you don't have to tell that man what he should do and shouldn't do. He does them because he is a righteous man; he is a principled man. The law is for unprincipled people, and there are a lot of those in the world. And thus we need laws to keep them in check.

In Romans, Paul said the law is not a terror to a good person. It's only a terror to the evil person ( Romans 13:3 ). You shouldn't be terrified when you see a policeman unless you're a bank robber or something. You see, if you're guilty of violating the law, then the law becomes something that you're frightened of, something that you dislike. But if you're an honest, upright principled citizen, you appreciate the law. You appreciate those who are enforcing the law because they're making it possible for you to live in this area. And if it weren't for the law and those who are enforcing the law, we would be living in an intolerable condition because there are those out there who need that kind of a bridle.

So you want to be taught the law, you want the law. Paul says, All this, I'll tell you who the law is for; it's not for righteous people. They don't need to be taught the law. They don't need to be put under the law.

but [the law is] for the lawless, the disobedient, the ungodly, the sinner, for unholy and profane people, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind [or for the homosexuals], for the menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be anything that is contrary to sound doctrine ( 1 Timothy 1:9-10 );

Those are the people who the law is for. So you want us to teach the law. Well, what problem do you have, brother? You see, the law isn't for righteous people. We don't have to be rehearsing the law if we live by righteous principles.

According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust ( 1 Timothy 1:11 ).

Now Paul says rather than teaching and preaching the law, we are teaching and preaching the glorious gospel, the good news of God. The law is bad news for the people to whom it was sent because it is a restricting thing, a condemning thing; the lawless. But rather than preaching the law, we preach the "glorious good news, the gospel of the blessed God," which, Paul said, "was committed to my trust."

And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has enabled me, and counted me faithful, putting me in the ministry ( 1 Timothy 1:12 );

Now Paul says of the ministry that he was enabled by the Lord. God isn't really looking for ability, though so often when we are looking for someone to fill a position within the church or whatever, we get out the resumes and we look for the graduated Magna cum Laude and we're looking for the most talented individual. God doesn't. God looks for the most available individual and then He enables him to do the work that He would have done. And quite often, the choices of God are shocking to us. You know, it's sort of an interesting thing; he says God counted him faithful, put him in the ministry. And of course, a steward is required that he be faithful. So God's looking for someone who's available, someone who'd be faithful.

Years ago when we started Calvary Chapel, just eighteen and a-half years ago, from the very beginning it seems that God began to bless this group of people that had gathered together. It was definitely something that was ordained of God and born of the Spirit and born of prayer, and we began to have just an immediate move of God and God began to add people almost immediately. Of course, we started with about twenty-five the first Sunday. And before long we were running fifty. And within a year or so, we were running a hundred. And there were a lot of other small churches in Costa Mesa at that time, and they began to observe what God was doing at Calvary Chapel. And some of the ministers at that time publicly said to their congregations, "If God can do it for Chuck Smith He can do it for us." I liked that. I understood why it is that God chose me to encourage others. For if God can do it for me, He can do it for anybody. And He used that to encourage a lot of the pastors at that time.

So Paul the apostle said that the Lord enabled me. He counted me faithful, He put me in the ministry. I'm thankful for this. He committed to my trust the glorious gospel of the blessed God. He said,

For before I was a blasphemer ( 1 Timothy 1:13 ),

That he was; that is, he was a blasphemer against the church and against Jesus Christ.

I was a persecutor ( 1 Timothy 1:13 ),

He stood by while Stephen was stoned, consenting to Stephen's death, encouraging those that were throwing the stones by holding their coats. And then he went down to Damascus from Jerusalem with letters authorizing him to imprison those who were believing in Jesus Christ. And on his way to Damascus, as he was breathing out murders and threats against the church is when the Lord got hold of his life. But "before I was a blasphemer, I was a persecutor,"

I was injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus ( 1 Timothy 1:13-14 ).

So Paul talks about his own ministry, his call into the ministry. An unlikely a candidate as you could ever hope to find. In fact, I thought that it would be very interesting if Paul the apostle were to have a resume written of him and sent to some of the churches that are seeking new pastors. I'm sure that the pulpit committee in reading his resume would say, "Hey, don't even bother finishing. We don't want that fellow." I've been thrown in prison several times. I've been beaten. I've been stoned. I've created riots. I have poor eyesight. I'm not much of a speaker. And yet God enabled him, called him, used him. Paul speaks of having received mercy. But then also, he received the grace of our Lord, exceeding abundant grace. Oh how glorious!

Now this is a faithful saying ( 1 Timothy 1:15 ),

Now he talked about the glorious gospel that was entrusted to him and this is the gospel. This is the faithful saying,

It's worthy of all acceptation ( 1 Timothy 1:15 ),

It's a true saying. It's worthy that every man should accept it. What is that true and faithful saying that everyone should accept? This:

Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners ( 1 Timothy 1:15 );

That's the gospel. That's the good news. "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners." First of all, all men are sinners. Therefore, He came to save all men. "All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" ( Romans 3:23 ). Because all men are sinners, all then were dead in their trespasses and sins.

Paul, in writing to the church in Ephesus said, "And you who were dead in your trespasses and sins: where in times past you walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, that even now is working in the children of disobedience: among whom you all of you one time lived" ( Ephesians 2:1-3 ). No exception; we were all sinners. We were all alienated from God as the result of our sin. Our lives were wasted, useless, lost. The glorious Gospel: Jesus came into the world to save sinners. Jesus said I've come "to seek and to save that which was lost" ( Luke 19:10 ). And so this glorious Gospel entrusted to Paul is just so simple, "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners."

Jesus said to Nicodemus, "I did not come into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through me might be saved. And he who believes in me is not condemned: but he who doesn't believe in me is condemned already, because he hasn't believed in the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light has come into the world, but the men will not come to the light because their deeds are evil and the light makes manifest" ( John 3:17-19 ).

Jesus does not stand as your accuser. He stands there as your Savior. Jesus did not make accusations against the sinner. He only gave invitations, "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, I will give you rest" ( Matthew 11:28 ). If you're a sinner, you don't need to fear Jesus. He's reaching out His arms to you. He's saying to you, Come unto me, I will give you peace. I will give you rest. I will give you hope. I will give you life. I came to save you.

You see, so many times we see Jesus in the opposite posture. We see Him there condemning us, pointing the finger. Oh, I don't want to be around Him. I feel so guilty, you know. I've done so many awful things, you know, and I see Jesus as a Judge and as One condemning me; but not so. He said, I didn't come to condemn.

The woman taken in the very act of adultery brought to Jesus; and they said, "Our law says we're to stone her. What do You say?" Jesus said, "Well, I say whoever among you hasn't committed a sin, let him throw the first stone." Then as He wrote on the ground, and I am certain, though the Bible doesn't say it, He began to write on the ground with His finger there on the dirt, I believe He began to write and enumerate the sins that these people were guilty of. Probably putting their name. Levi, you know, I'd start writing out his sin. And Levi says, Oh, I think I better go, my wife's you know expecting me home. And so one by one He wrote their names, began to write their sins. And one by one they began to leave from the oldest to the youngest until there was nobody left. And Jesus stood up and He looked up at the woman, He said, "What happened to your accusers?" And she said, "Well, Lord, I guess I don't have any." He said, "I don't condemn you, either. Go your way, sin no more" ( John 8:2-11 ).

Oh what good news. Jesus came into the world to save sinners, not to condemn them. We didn't need that; we were already condemned. What we did need was a Savior. When I am in need, when I am down, when I am out, I don't need someone to come and tell me how horrible a person I am and how awful I am. I need someone that will take me by the hand and lift me out, someone that will help me. And that's exactly what --Jesus doesn't come along to chastise you and to castigate you for all the evil that you've done; he's come along to take you by the hand and lift you. This is the Gospel. This is the good news. "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners." And Paul added,

of whom I am chief ( 1 Timothy 1:15 ).

Now I'm certain that he could get an argument on that point. But again, Paul did have a lot of indictments against him, as far as Jesus Christ was concerned. For he was a blasphemer of Jesus Christ, he was a persecutor of the church, he had injured many who had called upon the name of the Lord. But he said,

Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to everlasting life ( 1 Timothy 1:16 ).

In other words, the Lord chose the most unlikely candidate and saved him. I mean, if you were living in those days and you saw this young, zealous Paul. And you saw how he hated the church and hated Christianity, hated all of the Christians. And if you heard him, as he would blaspheme the Christians and just, you know, he was just so filled with venom and all against Christianity and those that were calling on the name of Jesus. You'd say, man, that is the last person in the world that will ever be saved. I mean, there's no hope for that guy, you know. And so Paul says, God chose me to show how longsuffering and merciful He is in order that anybody else after me might be encouraged.

Hey, God is willing to reach to the lowest. Jesus Christ will forgive the worst and it should be an encouragement. God set the pattern by reaching down to the bottom and lifting me out and making me His representative, His apostle, His ambassador. So Paul marveled, constantly marveled that God should call him to minister the truth of Jesus Christ, after how he had attempted to destroy this very truth that he was now proclaiming.

Now unto the King eternal ( 1 Timothy 1:17 ),

Now Paul when he's thinking about this he's just carried off into ecstasy and so he has to throw in this little benediction. Paul does this every once in a while, he just gets so excited he has just to throw in a little bit of praise-kind-of-a-thing, you know. And I love it. I --it happens to me. I get so excited with the goodness of God and the grace of God and the blessing of God, I just every once in a while, I have to throw in a little, "Oh, praise God," you know and little benediction-kind-of-a-thing. So, "now unto the King eternal,"

immortal, invisible, to the only wise God, be glory and honour for ever and ever. Amen ( 1 Timothy 1:17 ).

So beautiful, little benediction here. "The King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen." We are told to give glory unto God. Glory and honour and power ascribe unto our God.

This charge [Paul said] I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that you by them might war a good warfare; holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck: Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme ( 1 Timothy 1:18-20 ).

So now Paul is charging Timothy and charging him "according to the prophecies, which went before on thee." Now, many times it would seem in the early church they were directed in their ministry by prophecies, by the word of prophecy.

In the book of Acts chapter thirteen, "Now the Holy Spirit said, Separate unto me Paul and Barnabas for the ministry wherein I have called them. And so they fasted and prayed, laid hands on them, and the Spirit sent them forth" ( Acts 13:2-3 ). But how did the Spirit speak saying, "Separate unto me Paul and Barnabas?" Here they were gathered together praying, no doubt talking about the need of getting the Gospel into the world that had not heard, and the Spirit said, "Separate to me Paul and Barnabas for the ministry wherein I've called them." How did He say that? I believe that it was spoken through the word of prophecy. Someone in the group was anointed by the Spirit and prophetically declared this. And thus the Holy Spirit through prophecy said, "Separate unto me Paul and Barnabas". And the gift of prophecy was used this way in the early church.

When Paul was in Caesarea on his way back to Jerusalem, staying at the house of Philip; Agabus, a certain prophet in the church of Jerusalem came down and took Paul's girdle and tied himself up with it. And said, "So is the person who owns this girdle to be tied when he gets to Jerusalem" ( Acts 21:11 ). He prophesied of what was going to take place when Paul got to Jerusalem. They were directed.

And so Paul in another place in writing to Timothy said, "Now stir up the gifts that are in you, that were given unto you by the laying on of hands and by prophecy" ( 1 Timothy 4:14 ). So oftentimes when they would lay hands upon people and pray for them, there would be prophecies that would come forth, in which the Lord would often show the person the direction of their ministry.

Now this is not something that is limited to the New Testament. As I said, I have not seen a vision or had a dream that I felt was spiritually significant. I have had prophecies that were directed to me concerning my ministry when hands were laid upon me and we were in prayer together. And this is a practice of the early church, and it is something that is valid today.

Years ago when I came to a very discouraging point in my ministry, having been in the ministry for almost seventeen years, not really seeing any effective results, discouraged really to the point of leaving the ministry because of the ineffectiveness of my ministry; we were in prayer together and a group of friends waiting upon the Lord. We put a chair out in the middle and we began to pray for people. And finally I sat in the chair and they prayed for me, and prophecy, the word of prophecy came. And God began to tell of the ministry that He was going to give to me and of the way that the church would be blessed and the way the church would grow. It seemed at that time like it was so totally unlikely. That time the Lord actually said that He was going to give me a new name, which meant "shepherd", because He was going to make me the shepherd of many flock.

Before I came down here, a group of people were in prayer, as to whether or not I should come down. They had asked me to come down and to take over here at Calvary Chapel and they were in prayer in regards to it. And the Lord spoke to them through prophecy and said that I was going to be coming down, that the Lord was going to bless the church abundantly. That we were going to --the church would be outgrowing that facility. We would be moving to a new facility on the bluff overlooking the bay, and that God would continue to bless until the church would be known around the world. There would be a national radio ministry, and God laid out so many things that have since come to pass through the word of prophecy.

So Paul is talking to Timothy about that experience he had, when hands were laid upon him by the presbytery, and the word of prophecy was given. And gifts were given unto Timothy, and the calling of God upon his life for the ministry that he was to fulfill. So I "charge and commit unto you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies that went before on thee." Remember those prophecies that were given. "That you by them might war a good warfare." Hang in there, Timothy. "Holding the faith, and a good conscience; now some have put away the faith and they've become shipwrecked:" And a couple of them he names, "Hymenaeus and Alexander;" and he said, "I've turned them over to Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme."

Now just what he means by that, I don't know, except Satan does desire to destroy us. And you remember when the sons of God were presenting themselves to God and Satan also came with them, and God said to Satan, Hey, where have you been? And he said, Oh, I've been going to and fro throughout the earth, up and down in it. And God said, Well, have you considered my servant Job? Good man. And he said, Oh yeah, but you've put a hedge around that guy. I can't get to him. So in turning them over to Satan, it could be that they are no longer protected by the hedge that God puts around his children. And I'll tell you, if you're not protected by God against Satan, you're just an open mark and I, I really --my heart goes out to you.

I thank God for that protection that He places around us, His children. That hedge. And perhaps Paul just said, Lord, take away the hedge. They want to dabble with it, let them get burned so that they'll learn not to dabble.


Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 1". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/1-timothy-1.html. 2014.
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