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Bible Commentaries
1 Timothy 1

Dummelow's Commentary on the BibleDummelow on the Bible

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Verses 1-20

Timothy Reminded of his Commission, and Exhorted to Earnestness

1, 2. Salutation. An apostle] St. Peter and St. John, with regard to whose position no question was raised, are content to call themselves presbyters (2 and 3 John, 1 Peter 5:1), but St. Paul usually designates himself as an Apostle owing to the peculiarity of his call to the apostleship which led his adversaries to deny him the title; and for the same reason he claims that he holds his apostleship by the commandment of God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. God our Saviour] The full force that the Apostle assigned to the expression is shown in 1 Timothy 2:3: ’God our Saviour, who willeth that all men should be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.’ Christ, which is our hope] so designated because it is through Christ that we have the hope of future salvation.

2. My own son in the faith] see 1 Timothy 3:13 and Titus 1:4. St. Paul speaks of Onesimus in like terms as ’my son whom I have begotten in my bonds’ (Philemon 1:10).

3-20. The first charge to Timothy. To remember and act upon the instructions already given him by St. Paul, which were to be firm in resisting the heterodox teachers in Ephesus, as the Apostle had been himself, and to promote love, purity, uprightness, and faith.

3. As I besought thee] The words ’so do’ (i.e. remember and act upon my instructions), or ’so I do now,’ RV, i.e. ’I repeat my charge to you,’ must be supplied. When I went] RV ’when I was going.’ It is probable that the charge was given to Timothy by St. Paul in Ephesus when he left that city himself. This journey he took in the interval between his first and second imprisonment. That they teach no other doctrine] RV ’not to teach a different doctrine’; better, ’not to teach heterodox doctrine.’

4. Fables and endless genealogies] not the Gnostic stories of emanations and æons, but idle Jewish legends and genealogical claims, as is shown by Titus 1:14; Titus 3:9.

Minister questions, rather than godly edification] RV ’minister questions rather than a dispensation of God.’ This would mean one of two things, either that the heterodox teaching led to futile speculation and not to the spread of the knowledge of the dispensation of the gospel, or that it made men idle disputants instead of faithful dispensers of God’s truth.

5-7. The end of the commandment] RV ’the end of the charge,’ i.e. the aim of all true teaching as contrasted with ’fables and endless genealogies.’ The gospel which Timothy had to preach consists of charity or ’love,’ RV, springing from purity of heart, an enlightened conscience, and a sure faith. This was not the gospel preached by the heterodox teachers, whose doctrine consisted in quibbling subtleties, like those of the rabbis, and misrepresentations of the Law, the meaning of which they did not understand.

8-11. St. Paul guards himself against seeming to minimise the value of the Law. Properly understood, it was of the utmost use as a restraint of evil-doers. This he preached ’according to the gospel committed to his trust,’ i.e. as a part of Christian teaching.

12-17. That the preaching of the gospel had been committed to him, leads him to offer a fervent thanksgiving for the grace so bestowed upon him, unworthy as he was.

12. Putting me into the ministry] RV ’appointing me to his service.’

13. I did it ignorantly] St. Paul’s is an instance of that form of ignorance which excuses acts done through it, i.e. ignorance of fact, not of a moral principle.

14. Grace.. was.. abundant with faith and love] The act of God (grace) is accompanied and supplemented by man’s loving acceptance of it in faith.

15. This is a faithful saying] For this formula, peculiar to the Pastoral Epistles (cp. 1 Timothy 4:9; 1 Timothy 3:1; 2 Timothy 2:11; Titus 3:8), see General Intro. St. Paul’s case is covered by the general principle that Christ came to save sinners.

16. First] St. Paul was in his own estimation first in sinfulness (1 Timothy 1:15), and first forgiven, as an example to other sinners to hope for pardon.

17. A doxology of thanks to God for what He had done for him: cp. Romans 16:25. King] This title is applied to God only here and in 1 Timothy 6:15 and Matthew 5:35. Eternal] lit. ’of the ages,’ but meaning ’eternal.’ The original has ’king of the æons.’ Had the doctrine of the Gnostic æons been in existence when the Epistle was written, this expression would not have been used without some contradiction of that theory or explanation of the words. This is an incidental proof of the early date of the Epistle.

18-20. He returns from the digression respecting himself to the subject of the charge previously given to Timothy, to resist heresy (1 Timothy 1:3), and to promote charity, purity, uprightness, and faith (1 Timothy 1:5).

18. I commit unto thee] The duty of maintaining the truth whereby to resist heresy is a trust committed to Timothy: see 1 Timothy 6:20; 2 Timothy 1:14. According to the prophecies] This trust he would fulfil in pursuance of declarations made respecting him by the ’prophets’ of the Church at the time of his ordination. The ’prophets’ are very prominent in the Apostolic Age: see Acts 13:1; 1 Corinthians 12. By them] in accordance with the anticipation of the ’prophets.’

19. Which] the guidance of their conscience. Concerning faith, etc.] RV. ’made shipwreck concerning the faith’; not their own belief, but the substance of the revealed truth.

20. There are two instances of excommunication in Scripture, (1) that of the Corinthian for immorality (1 Corinthians 5), (2) of Hymenæus and Alexander for heresy. We learn from 2 Timothy 2:19 that Philetus was one of Hymenæus’ associates, but whether Timothy followed St. Paul’s example and excommunicated him, we do not know. It is probable that the Alexander here mentioned is the same as ’Alexander the coppersmith’ of 2 Timothy 4:14, who may have ’done’ St. Paul ’much evil’ at Rome during his trial, in consequence of the excommunication pronounced upon him by the Apostle at Ephesus. He may also have been the Alexander of Acts 19:33; Delivered unto Satan] because relegated from the Church to the world, from the kingdom of God on earth to the empire of Satan (Acts 26:18).

Bibliographical Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 1". "Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcb/1-timothy-1.html. 1909.
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