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Bible Commentaries
1 Timothy 1

Fairbairn's Commentary on Ezekiel, Jonah and Pastoral EpistlesFairbairn's Commentaries

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Verses 1-2

The First Epistle to Timothy

Chapter 1

Vers. 1, 2. Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus according to the commandment of God our Saviour, and Christ Jesus our hope; to Timothy, [my] true child in the faith: Grace, mercy, peace, from God the Father, and Christ Jesus our Lord.

If this had been simply a private letter, having for its object the expression merely of kindly feelings, or the communication of prudent advice as from one friend to another, it would certainly have been unnatural in the apostle (as some have objected) to begin in so formal a manner, and to give such prominence at the outset to his divine call to the apostleship, with which Timothy was doubtless perfectly familiar. But the letter plainly bears an official character; and while partaking of the graceful and affectionate freedom which fitly arose from the intimate relations of the parties, it was designed to carry with it an authoritative value to convey instructions respecting church order and Christian work, which called for implicit obedience. Timothy, the youthful companion, was now coming in a measure to take the place of the apostle in ministerial agency; and he must have both the nature of the work, and the warrant on which he was to proceed with it, distinctly laid upon his conscience. He might possibly need such an authoritative commission to bear him up against others in the discharge of his delegated function; and therefore I would not exclude (with Ellicott) a regard to the due maintenance of his authority. He might have at times to exhibit, or even press, the grounds on which he spake and acted as he did. But for himself also it was needful. For it was evidently an irksome and delicate task which was assigned him at Ephesus, with so many germs of error sprouting, and headstrong, conceited men bent on carrying matters their own way. If himself, as would appear, of a meek, amiable disposition, and accustomed hitherto to be led rather than to lead, he might in some things be tempted to give way to the will or resistance of others. It was right, therefore, he should feel that necessity was laid upon him; that the voice which speaks to him is that not merely of a revered instructor or a spiritual father, but of a Heaven-commissioned ambassador, who has a right to declare the divine will and rule with authority in the Christian church. So Bengel: Hic titulus facit ad confirmandum Timotheum; familiaritas seponenda est, ubi causa Dei agitur.

St. Paul’s mode of expressing his divine relation to the apostleship here is somewhat peculiar: he is an apostle of Christ Jesus, not, as he sometimes puts it, from being called thereto (Romans 1:1; 1 Corinthians 1:1), or as having received his destination to it through the will of God ( 1Co 1:1 ; 2 Corinthians 1:1; also in Ephesians, Colossians, 2 Timothy), but according to God’s commandment ( κατ ʼ ἐπιταγὴν θεοῦ ), or by God’s appointment (as κατὰ τύχην , by chance, κατ ʼ εὔοιαν , by good-will). His apostolic calling is thus brought into connection with the direct ordering of Heaven the active carrying out or result of the divine will. If it is asked, How or when was the commandment issued? we may point, with Chrysostom, to Acts 13:2, where the Holy Ghost is related to have said by certain prophets in the church at Antioch: “Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them; “only, this command of the Spirit was but the echo, as indeed it professes to be, of a prior command or vocation given from above, which therefore was the fundamental thing. And so Chrysostom himself felt, for he presently refers the matter to that original source; stating, that while it was the glorified Redeemer from whom the command was directly received, it was not the less from God: for the things of the Father are the Son’s, as those again of the Son are the Spirit’s. So that whether we look to the Spirit’s injunction to the church at Antioch, or to Christ’s charge to the apostle himself on the road to Damascus, we see in each the expression of the Father’s will and appointment. In two other passages Romans 16:26, Titus 1:3 the apostle has used the same expression of “God’s commandment; “in the former case generally, with respect to the ministration of the gospel, in the latter specially, with respect to his own commission.

It is another peculiarity here that God is called our Saviour, a designation applied to God with great frequency in the Pastoral epistles (not only here, but at 1 Timothy 2:3, 1 Timothy 4:10, Titus 1:3, Titus 2:10, Titus 3:4), and occurs elsewhere only in Luke 1:47, and Jude, Jude 1:25. It is impossible to deny, however, that the idea involved in the designation is common to all the epistles of Paul; in some of the others, also, salvation is expressly and formally coupled with God (as in 2 Thessalonians 2:12, 1 Corinthians 1:21). So that it is merely the employment of Saviour as a personal designation of God in Christ which is peculiar to the Pastoral epistles. Why the apostle should in these have not only adopted, but evinced a special fondness for such a designation, can only be proximately determined. But it may not improbably have presented itself to his mind, as a kind of counteractive to the false teaching which in his latter days was beginning to corrupt the truth. In that presumptuous, self-willed spirit, which was striving to hew out new paths for itself, and aiming at heights of knowledge and virtue beyond those which were accessible to ordinary believers in Christ, the apostle could not fail to see what tended to separate between God and salvation; in fact, to change altogether the idea of salvation as a work originating in the purpose, and carried into effect by the agency, of God. Christianity would come to be viewed only as a higher sort of school instruction and spiritual discipline, which might be ever so much remodelled and improved upon by the efforts of successive theosophists. To associate salvation, therefore, not simply with Christ (which, however, is also done by the apostle, 1 Timothy 1:14, Titus 1:4, Titus 2:13, Titus 3:6), but directly and prominently with God, might seem a fitting mode of testifying against the false tendency of the times. It would certainly have been to believers a preservative against much of the evil then emerging, if they kept firm hold of the truth that salvation is of God; for thus would all arbitrariness in speculation and undue licence in practice be repressed.

With God as our Saviour the apostle couples Christ Jesus as our hope, precisely as in Ephesians 2:14 he calls Him our peace; and, with a still nearer resemblance to the present passage, in Colossians 1:27, the hope of glory in believers. He is so called, not merely because the reception of His gospel lights up the hope of blessing and glory in the heart, but because all that is hoped for is so indissolubly linked to Christ Himself, that our relation to Him carries also our relation to it. In co solo tota salutis nostroe materia (Calvin).

To Timothy, [my] true child in the faith. The rendering in the Authorized Version, “mine own son,” is not altogether correct, γνησίος being true, in opposition to false or spurious; hence genuine, real. Had it been used of a relation in the natural sphere, own might have been taken as the proper equivalent: one’s own child, as contradistinguished from another’s, from a supposititious offspring. But it is otherwise in the spiritual; for Timothy might have been a genuine child of the divine kingdom, though brought into it through the instrumentality of another than the apostle. But as having been so brought, brought as a mere youth, and almost from the date of his conversion kept in constant attendance upon the apostle, it was natural for the latter to use the term child rather than son to express the relation, even now when Timothy was in the ripeness and vigour of manhood; it was more distinctly indicative of tenderness and affection. The other would have been more natural to an imitator. The addition, in faith, or, in the faith, for there can be no doubt that it refers to the specific faith of the gospel, is made to prevent mistake, by defining the sphere to which the filial relationship belonged. So also, in 1 Corinthians 4:17, Timothy is described by the apostle as “his beloved child, and faithful in the Lord.” The endearing spiritual relationship subsisting between them had on Timothy’s part been properly maintained.

Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and Christ Jesus our Lord. The only thing calling for special notice here is the insertion of ἔλεος , mercy, between grace and peace. In all the rest of Paul’s epistles, except the Second to Timothy (in Titus the word, though in the received text, should likewise be omitted), mercy is not found in the salutation, but only grace and peace. It seems, however, a strange mode of reasoning to press this as an argument against the genuineness of the two epistles; for the very uniformity of the apostle’s style in his earlier epistles would have been sure to catch the eye of a forger, and in a manner constrained him to adopt the same. It was not for him at the very outset to deviate from the beaten track; least of all to do so by such an addition to the two regular epithets as mercy, which has respect to sin and misery in the object of it. Grace and peace might fitly enough be sought for Timothy as an honoured member of the church of Christ, and more especially as one called to the discharge of an onerous and responsible commission in it; but who, save such a man as Paul, could have thought of mercy? If even in the case of the erring Galatians and the backsliding Corinthians, mercy was omitted from the apostolic salutation, was it for an unknown, a lying imitator, to conceive of Paul’s dear child of faith, his substitute in the performance of what was properly apostolic work, as a subject for mercy? This, surely, was a very unlikely thing to come from such a quarter; and it may therefore be regarded as the apostle’s own signature the impress of his peculiarly thoughtful and deeply exercised heart. He knew how much he needed mercy for himself, not merely at the outset of his spiritual career, when he was rescued as a brand from the burning, but also when engaged in his work as an ambassador of Christ. He knew that, even when he was outwardly doing all, he was still spiritually coming short; that evil was more or less present with him, when seeking to do what was good; therefore he must ever feel himself a debtor to mercy. And could he wish his dear child and deputy to feel otherwise? Would he not rather be disposed to consider it essential to Timothy’s safety and success to live in the exercise of such a spirit? It came well from so richly endowed a workman, and so experienced a saint, to convey to his youthful disciple the important instruction couched under this word from him alone could it have so come; and it embodies a lesson for all future ministers of the gospel, which it well becomes them to ponder. While they are ambassadors of mercy to others, let them never forget that they need to be themselves partakers of mercy never more so than when they are engaged in the higher duties, and pressing the more sacred interests of the gospel. If they know aright what they are, and what they should be, they will be ever throwing themselves on God’s mercy, and also looking for the glorious issue as the consummating display of that same mercy toward them in Christ Jesus unto eternal life (Jude 1:25).

The proof should not be overlooked which this impetration of grace, mercy, and peace for Timothy affords of the essential divinity of Christ; since He is coupled with God the Father as alike concerned in the bestowal of strictly divine gifts. Had our Lord possessed only a creature’s place and prerogatives, even though it were the highest in creation, it had been impossible for a truly pious mind to have presented Him, without further explanation, in this apparently co-equal fellowship with the Father; such a mind would have instinctively shrunk from so unseemly a conjunction. We can only, therefore, regard the place given to Christ here as a virtual declaration of the apostle’s belief in the truth enunciated by Christ Himself, “All things that the Father hath are mine,” and again, when He affirmed that the Son hath life in Himself, even as the Father hath life in Himself (Matthew 11:27; John 16:15, John 5:26).

Verses 3-4

Vers. 3, 4. According as I besought thee when setting out for Macedonia, [so I do now], to abide still at Ephesus, in order that thou mightest charge some not to teach any other doctrine, nor to give heed to fables and endless genealogies, inasmuch as they minister strifes rather than God’s dispensation in faith. The sentence is elliptical in the earlier part, to be explained, with Winer ( Gr. § 64), by the rapidity of the apostle’s style, throwing into the protasis what should have been expressed in an apodosis, such as οὕτω καὶ νῦν παρακαλῶ : As before I besought, so now also I beseech. Our translators, after Erasmus ( ita facito), have supplied, at the end of the entire sentence, so do which makes the sense plain enough; but it seems better to introduce the supplement a little earlier. The verb expressive of Timothy’s continued residence at Ephesus, which as to the sense betokens a kind of prolonged present, is put in the aorist ( προσμεῖναι ), because dependent on an aorist which precedes, according to the principle of the parity of tenses, which the Greeks particularly regarded (Winer, § 45, 8). The preceding verb itself παρεκάλεσα , I besought was viewed by Chrysostom as indicative of the apostle’s gentleness and affection toward Timothy: he would not authoritatively enjoin his prolonged stay at Ephesus, but would only give an earnest expression of his desire regarding it, as in a matter that deeply concerned the interests of the church. There appears ground for the remark; and Titus 1:5, where a stronger word is used in regard to the evangelistic labours of Titus in Crete “as I appointed,” or ordered thee ( διεταξάμην ) is no argument to the contrary, for the cases were not strictly similar. Titus stood in a somewhat different relation to Paul from Timothy, The latter, like a beloved son and bosom companion, had his appropriate place beside the apostle; and any arrangement which involved a departure from this rule, was rather a subject for mutual consent, or at the most for earnest entreaty on the one side, and submissive compliance on the other, than for express command. Titus, however, was simply one of various fellow-labourers in the gospel, and by the nature of his office stood under the authority and direction of the apostle. So that, viewed with respect to the relative position of the parties, there was a fitness and delicacy in the choice of the words applied to each, such as might quite naturally present itself to the mind of the apostle, though by no means likely to occur to another person. The difficulties connected with the apostle’s going into Macedonia, and leaving Timothy to tarry on at Ephesus, in a historical point of view, have already been considered in the Introduction.

The more special and immediate object of Timothy’s continued residence at Ephesus, was that he might charge some not to teach any other doctrine ἑτεροδιδασκαλεῖν . By ἕτερος ; is meant other, or different, in the sense of diverse, or of another kind; so that the teaching meant was teaching after a different type of doctrine from that which bore on it the sanction of apostolic authority. This, it is implied, was the standard; all right teaching must conform to it; what did not do so was an unwarranted deviation a heterodoxy. So, at an earlier period, the apostle had designated the Jewish leaven introduced into the churches of Galatia; it was another gospel ( ἕτερον εὐαγγέλιον , Galatians 1:6) which they had received, and the persons who had pressed it on their acceptance were false teachers. But in neither case might there be any formal abjuration of the essential facts of the gospel, such as to constitute them heretics in the modern sense; the error lay rather in superinducing thereupon foreign elements, and giving way to considerations and practices which were at variance with the proper genius of the gospel, and inevitably tended to corrupt its character and mar its design. Here, the false admixtures are described as fables and endless genealogies. The application which began to be made at an early period of these words to the generations of aeons in the Gnostic systems of the second century, has already been noticed in the Introduction: it was an accommodation, as there stated, rather than a just and proper interpretation; both because the term genealogies could not, except in a kind of secondary and figurative sense, be understood of such ethereal fancies; and also because alike here and in Titus they are connected directly with Jewish perversions and misuses of the law.

We have undoubted evidence, that about, and even previous to, the gospel era, the minds of a certain portion of the Jewish dispersion took a set in that direction, and from a strange, incongruous combination of their own religion with the spirit of heathen philosophy, formed a sort of Cabalistic system, made up of allegory, fable, mystic notions, and legal technicalities. Philo partly reflected and partly also aided this false tendency, though with him it was kept free from many of the extravagances which discovered themselves among the inferior class of Jews, who often sought through such things to secure their own carnal and selfish ends. But with whatever view prosecuted, as they were in their nature entirely speculative and fanciful, they necessarily tended, as the apostle says, to give occasion to questions and strifes which admitted of no proper settlement, and yielded no real profit: αἵτινες ζητήσεις παρέχουσιν , being such as do so, having that for their natural consequence.

The converse of this has unhappily been obscured by a corruption in the received text. Following this, the A.V. reads, “rather than godly edifying,” a fair enough rendering of οἰκοδομίαν θεοῦ . But it should undoubtedly be οἰκονομίαν θεοῦ , which is the reading of all the older mss.; and this can only mean God’s dispensation, or economy His specific plan or arrangement for the administration of His kingdom. So it is plainly used by St. Paul in other parts of his writings, as at 1 Corinthians 9:17, Ephesians 1:10, Ephesians 3:9. The method of salvation by Jesus Christ unfolded in the gospel is God’s dispensation, as connected with the fulness of the times (Ephesians 1:10); and as an apostle of Christ, Paul had this dispensation entrusted to him; as a steward, he was put in charge, to a certain extent, with the direction of its affairs (1 Corinthians 4:1, 1 Corinthians 9:17). The idea, it is true, does not exactly suit the verb in the preceding clause ( προσέχουσιν ); as one can scarcely say, “do not minister God’s dispensation;” and hence, no doubt, the tendency in the later copyists and the versions to substitute edification for dispensation. But it is merely an example of what is of frequent occurrence in Greek of construction by zeugma, which requires that a verb, when coupled with words too diversified in import to be strictly applicable to each, be taken in a looser sense with its more remote than with its more immediate object. Here, the apostle chose a verb that was quite appropriate to the things which were foremost in his regard namely, the frivolous disputations which the fondness for fables and genealogies naturally generated; and he left it to the good sense of his reader to make the requisite adaptation of the import to the matter subsequently presented: they minister questions rather than subserve what belongs to God’s dispensation. And he indicates the reason, when he adds τὴν ἐν πίστει , that is in faith, has its sphere therein, or stands vitally related to that humble, confiding principle in the soul, as the bond more especially which connects men with it, and the avenue through which it developes spiritual life and hope in their experience. But fables and genealogies of whatsoever sort belonged to a different category; they did not address themselves to the principle of faith; they merely exercised the fancy and the intellect, and did so in a manner fitted rather to create a distaste for the proper objects of faith. The more one might give himself to such a line of things, the more would he find himself carried away from the sphere of God’s merciful economy for the salvation of sinners.

Verse 5

Ver. 5. Now the end of the charge is love out of a pure heart, and a good conscience, and faith unfeigned. The charge ( παραγγελίας ) here meant cannot be the law strictly so called as if παραγ . were all one with νόμος or ἐντολή for the word is never so used; but it indicates the charge lying upon those who have a part to do in connection with God’s dispensation the obligation they have to fulfil in order to carry out its design. They are emphatically persons under charge ( ὕπο παραγγελίας ), being put in trust with the scheme of God for the wellbeing of men, and so having love for its grand aim ( τέλος ) love in the fullest sense love to God, the author of the dispensation, and love to mankind as the objects whose present and eternal good it contemplates. The possession and exercise of such love may be taken as the measure of one’s sympathy with the spirit of the dispensation, and preparedness for executing the charge which comes along with the knowledge and belief of its realities, and which rests especially upon those who are called to act as its more select instruments of working. [The word παραγ . was probably suggested in this connection by the παραγγείλῃς in 1 Timothy 1:3, and only makes general what was there given with a special application. Timothy was to charge the teachers in the church at Ephesus, who seemed in danger of turning aside from the right path, to beware of giving heed to things which were quite alien to the proper aim and calling of the evangelical office. And proceeding now from the particular to the general, the apostle briefly describes the nature of the charge which lies upon all true evangelists what, from the very nature of the gospel, is and must be the heart and spirit of their calling. Comp. also 1 Timothy 1:18, 1 Timothy 4:11, 1 Timothy 5:7, 1 Timothy 6:13, 1 Thessalonians 4:2.]

But as the apostle has indicated the relation of the gospel charge to love, so, lest the nature of love itself might be mistaken, he shows its connection with the internal state and condition of the regenerated man: it is love out of a pure heart, hence incapable of working to ignoble ends, or the gratification of corrupt desires, but issuing like crystal streams from a pure fountain; also out of a good conscience, properly responsive to the claims of moral obligation, honestly bent on following out its convictions of truth and duty; finally, out of faith unfeigned ( ἀνυποκρίτου ), a term frequently used to characterize the graces of the Christian character love (Romans 12:9; 2 Corinthians 6:6), brotherly kindness (1 Peter 1:22), spiritual wisdom (James 3:17); but when applied to faith, serving to indicate its reality and power as an internal principle, its living apprehension and firm grasp of the things presented to its view; hence widely different from that lazy assent to the doctrines of the gospel, that merely formal profession of adherence to them, which often goes by the name of faith. In specifying so many sources of Christian love, the apostle is not to be understood as giving a theoretical exposition of the matter, or presenting in strict philosophical order the relation of love to the heart, conscience, and faith respectively, or of these to each other. He is contemplating the subject in a practical point of view, and simply unfolding, in the order that seemed natural to him at the time, the several elements which must conspire to the production and exercise of genuine Christian love. In the order of nature, the unfeigned faith must undoubtedly be placed first; for in fallen men, laden with guilt and alienated from the life of God, there is no way of attaining to real purity of heart and a purged conscience but through faith in Christ. When through this faith entering, however, the soul is brought into fellowship with the realities of salvation, the bonds of its captivity are broken; it becomes re-united to the one source of life and blessing, and at once experiences and reciprocates a love which prompts it to a life of beneficence and worth. But considered with respect to practical working, the order adopted by the apostle is quite natural: furthest in, as the deep fountainhead of all the outgoings of Christian love, there is the purified heart; then, to regulate the actings of love, and determine their course and measure, there is the good conscience; and finally, to sustain and animate the soul in the varied works and labours proper to love, there is the faith unfeigned, embracing the glorious promises of God, and ministering strength from the things therein contained to its vital energy. Such, probably, is the order and relation in which these spiritual characteristics presented themselves to the mind of the apostle; and in the concurrent action and due subordination of them to each other will ever be found to consist the stability and progress of the Christian life.

Verse 6

Ver. 6. From which namely, the several moral qualities just mentioned some having swerved, ἀστοχήσαντες (found only besides in 1 Timothy 6:20, 2 Timothy 2:18, where it is coupled with περί ), “said in regard to those who do not reach whither they are tending do not attain their aim” (Bengel): failing, either because they did not set the aim properly before them, or did not prosecute it in a manner fitted to accomplish what was sought. They wanted, in short, the requisite moral bent and energy of soul; and so they turned aside into vain talk the preposition in the verb ( ἐξετράπησαν ) having respect to the path or direction which should have been followed, but from which the parties in question deviated. They had not the root of the matter in them; and having thus no heart for the great things of the gospel, they naturally fell to discoursing about vain questions, the debateable and speculative points about which they could find themselves at home. The secret undoubtedly lies here of much unsatisfactory and unprofitable preaching. If the heart is not in the great things of the gospel, if it is out of accord with their deep spiritual tone, it cannot delight to speak of them, and will be only too glad to turn aside to inferior topics.

Verse 7

Ver. 7. The parties warned against are further characterized as desiring ( θέλοντες , wishing) to be teachers of the law; implying that it was but a wish, a bootless aiming at what, in its proper reality, lay far from them, as is afterwards more distinctly brought out. The interpretation of Baur, which was demanded by his hypothesis, would find in this description not law teachers, but law opposers, Antinomians of the Marcionite school; but the view is so arbitrary, and so much at variance with the natural import of the words, that it has met with almost universal rejection. The apostle is evidently speaking of men who by no means disparaged the law as vile, or at least as too low and carnal for persons aspiring to perfection, but rather had high notions of the law, and set themselves up as its more advanced and enlightened advocates, though utterly disqualified qualified for the office they assumed. It is also evident, from the concession made in regard to their pretensions in 1 Timothy 1:8, “We know, indeed, that the law is good; “so far there is no dispute between us. It was an admission to the parties against whom he was contending, in favour of that which they so zealously lauded, in case the apostle’s own position regarding it might be perverted or misunderstood. The false teachers, then, were in some sense legalists; the question is, in what sense? In what form, or with what intent, did they press the claims of law? Not, we have good reason to believe, after the manner of the Jewish Christians, who first disturbed the church zealous for the maintenance of the ancient customs; for the way in which the apostle meets them (as noticed by all the recent better commentators) is quite different from what we find in the Epistles to the Romans, Galatians, and Colossians. Here he charges the parties in question, not with bringing in legal observances out of their proper place, but with utter ignorance and misapprehension as to the real nature and design of the law: μὴ νοοῦντες μήτε ἃ λέγουσιν μήτε περὶ τίνων διαβεβαιοῦνται not understanding neither, or, as suits our idiom better, without understanding either what things they speak, or concerning what things they affirm. They spoke, it would seem, dogmatically enough; for the verb ( διαβεβαιοῦσθαι ) means to make asseveration, or give forth one’s view in a firm, dogmatic tone. But in doing so, the apostle declares they went beyond their depth; they merely displayed their own ignorance, and that in two respects both as regards the things they said, and the topics concerning which they uttered their sentiments. The language is such as might very readily be applied to persons of a dreamy and speculative mood, disposed to take things otherwise than in their plain natural sense; attempting, as men of a higher order of thought, to refine and soar, and lose themselves in mystic reveries or fanciful allegorizings. And this, as already stated, is precisely the form of evil which we are led to understand then began to develope itself. It was a compound of Gnostic and Judaic elements. The persons who advocated it would keep the law they would even make more of it than the apostle did; but then, the law not according to the letter the law sublimated by the speculative reason, and explained in accordance with the theosophy of the East. A dangerous spirit this in which to meddle with the law! Even as applied by the thoughtful, discreet, Platonic mind of Philo, it served in good measure to evacuate the moral element in the old revelation, and sought to explain by the help of a mistaken physics many things that should have been viewed with a direct reference to the heart and conscience. But in the hands of inferior men especially men of a sophistical cast of mind, who wished to employ religion to their own sinister purposes both the fancifulness of the explanations given of the law, and its misapplication to other than its legitimate and proper ends, may justly be supposed to have been of a much more marked and conspicuous kind. There would now, probably, be frivolous distinctions, wild extravagance, possibly licentious freedom cloaked under high-sounding professions, a hunting after everything but that which should have been most especially regarded. And so, indeed, the corresponding passage in Titus distinctly tells us, 1 Timothy 1:10 sq., “There are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision, whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake.” Then he refers to the Jewish fables and commandments of men that turn from the truth, and speaks of those who set them forth as unbelieving, and in their very conscience defiled. Their dreamy refinements and speculations on the law not only led them into practical neglect of its profoundly ethical spirit, but left them in a manner incapable of perceiving it deadened their whole moral nature. And in the writings of St. John, so far as they bore respect to the state of things existing at a later period, and existing in that very region in which Timothy now laboured, we perceive indications of the same spirit, only in a more advanced stage of development. They make mention of “the blasphemy of those which say they are Jews and are not, but are of the synagogue of Satan” (Revelation 2:9); of persons “teaching the doctrine of Balaam,” practising the seductions of Jezebel, and knowing the depths of Satan (Revelation 2:14, Revelation 2:20, Revelation 2:24); in short, of men who had so sophisticated their own minds, and tried so to sophisticate the minds of others, that the apostle had to warn the disciples to remember that “he who doeth righteousness is righteous, and that he who committeth sin is of the devil;” that “no lie is of the truth;” that for one to say he has fellowship with God, while he walks in darkness, is practically to lie (1 John 3:7, 1 John 2:21, 1 John 1:6). The state of things had come to be such, that it was found necessary to recall them to first principles, and teach them, as it were, the A B C of Christian truth and morality.

[Mark here the progression of error in false teaching. What in its first movements may be but a deflection in a single line, may in course of time lead to a general depravation; for example, ritualism in the early church. Mark, too, what is the result of that knowledge and teaching which would soar above the simplicity of the gospel: it ends in licence and corruption becomes dazzled in the clearer light it affects to live in, and stumbles as in gross darkness.]

Verse 8

Ver. 8. I wish, then (the οὖν at once resuming the subject of prayer, with an exhortation to which in a particular direction this part of the epistle commenced, and pressing as a conclusion from the views more recently advanced I wish, then), that prayer be made in every place by men, lifting lip holy hands, without wrath and doubting. In the verb Βούλομαι the active wish is expressed, as of one who, having a right to speak in the name of Christ, should in expressing a wish be regarded as virtually uttering a command. If it had been ἐθέλω , the apostle would merely have said he was willing that the thing in question should be done; but in using Βούλομαι he indicates his desire or wish that such a course should be pursued. (See Donaldson, Cratylus, § 463, for the clear exhibition and proof of this distinction. (Donaldson has gone into the discussion of this point at great length, refuting an opposite view which had been advanced by Buttmann in his Lexilopis. As regards Biblical usage, the respective meanings of the two verbs are corre ctly and succinctly stated by Mr Webster, Syntax and Synonyms of the Greek Testament, p. 197: “Βούλομαι expresses a wish, intention, purpose, formed after deliberation, and upon considering all the circumstances of the case; θε ́ λω denotes a natural impulse or desire, the ground of which is generally obvious, or for which it is unnecessary to assign a reason. Matthew 1:19, μη ̀ θε ́ λων, being reluctant, as was naturally the case; ἐβουλη ́ θη, ‘was minded,’ deliberately purposed, intended after careful consideration.” He refers to the contrary view of Buttmann, that Βούλεσθαι indicates mere inclination, passive desire; but points to James 4:4, also to 1 Timothy 6:9, in both of which cases he justly says θε ́ λειν would be altogether out of place. On the contrary, in 1 Timothy 5:11, where the impulse of natural desire is in question, θε ́ λειν is the proper word, and Βούλομαι would be unsuitable.) ) In respect to the object of his wish, the point of greatest prominence undoubtedly is the praying hence the προσεύχεσθαι stands first: it is the immediate object of the desire he was breathing in connection with the proper place and responsibilities of believers. But as these are contemplated with reference to the public worship of God, so a certain degree of prominence is also given to the men to whom it properly belongs to manage and direct such worship; while for women, who are presently after mentioned, duties of a more retired and quiet kind are assigned. It seems, however, an awkward way of indicating this subordinate distinction, which is but allusively introduced, to translate with Alford, “that the men pray,” which is formally correct, no doubt, as the article is found in the original ( τοὺς ἄνδρας ), but gives a sense which to English readers must appear abrupt and unnatural. Indeed, Alford himself seems partly conscious of this, since he admits that the distinction in respect to men cannot be regarded as the apostle’s main object in this verse, and that their relation to public prayer is taken for granted. If so, the kind of double end aimed at in the passage is better gained by such a rendering as we have adopted, giving the act of prayer the chief prominence, but giving the subject, men, also a sort of prominent position by throwing it a little forward, and thus also rendering the transition easy and natural from the male to the female section of believers: that prayer be made in every place, by men lifting up, etc.; likewise also that women ... In mentioning every place in connection with the offering of prayer, the apostle is not to be regarded, with some, as indicating any contrast with the temple, the synagogue, or other conspicuous places of worship, but merely as giving expression to the universal nature of the duty; so that wherever the assemblies of Christian worshippers might meet, there prayer should be offered. And with the duty he couples a brief description of the spirit and manner in which it should be done by the persons who conduct it: lifting up holy hands, without wrath or doubting ( ὁσίους , a masculine termination joined to the feminine; χεῖρας , as οὐρανίου at Luke 2:13, and ὅμοιος ; in Revelation 4:3). The lifting up of the hands in their more formal exercises of devotion appears to have been common among the nations of antiquity, Jew as well as Gentile (Genesis 14:22; Psalms 28:2, Psalms 63:4, Psalms 134:2; Virgil, AEn. i. 92); and from the Jewish it naturally passed into the Christian assemblies. Here it is referred to without explanation, as a thing familiarly known; so also by the Roman Clement in his letter to the Corinthians, c. 29, where, with evident respect to the words of the apostle, he says: “Let us come near to Him in holiness of soul ( ἐν ὁσιότητι ψυχῆς ), raising pure and undefiled hands toward Him.” (In this primary stage the lifting of the hands in public prayer is spoken of as a mere usage or custom, which was deemed suitable and appropriate. But by and by, like other things of a like kind, it was turned into a piece of sacred pantomime or symbolism, and to make it more expressive the stretched-out hands and arms were thrown into the figure of the cross. See quotations to this effect in Bingham, B. xiii. 10, from Tertullian, Minutius, and many others.) The hands so employed might fitly be regarded as bearing the petitions of the suppliants heavenwards, and, in accordance with the action, should themselves possess a character of holiness; in other words, should be the hands of those who are not pursuing courses of iniquity, but are lovers of what is pure and good. All spiritual excellence is necessarily implied in this; yet the apostle adds the further qualifications, without wrath and doubting: without wrath, to which especially, in their relation to the heathen, the early Christians were often under great provocation, and might consequently be disposed to offer up imprecations rather than supplications in regard to them. What, however, is meant precisely by the other term ( διαλογισμοῦ ) whether it is to be understood of disputation in the ordinary sense, contendings with others, or disputation in one’s own mind, thought contending with thought, doubting interpreters are not agreed. As the word may be understood either way, Ave are thrown upon the connection for something to determine our judgment; and in this point of view the second of the two senses indicated seems plainly the most natural and fitting: for the indispensable condition of acceptable prayer is faith; and therefore doubting, which is the mark of a wavering spirit, the conflict between faith and unbelief, must, so far as it prevails, be a hindrance to success. Prayer offered without wrath and doubting is simply prayer animated by a spirit of meek, generous loving-kindness in respect to those for whom it is presented, and by a spirit of faith or assured confidence in Him whom we supplicate in their behalf This is intelligible, and perfectly cognate to the subject; but not so the reference supposed by some to personal disputations among the parties concerned in the exercise of devotion. Nothing had been said or implied which might seem to call for any particular reference to this.

Verses 9-10

Vers. 9, 10. The specific application is here given of the general principle just announced not, of course, the only application which it admitted of, but the one which was of importance for the present time: knowing this (holding it as a settled point regarding the proper design of the law), that the law is not made for a righteous person. Although νόμος is here without the article, there seems no reason why it should not be understood of the law of God as revealed in Old Testament Scripture, rather than, with some, of law generally. For parallel passages, see Romans 2:25, Romans 3:30, Romans 7:1; Galatians 2:19, Galatians 6:13, etc. (See Winer, Gr. § 19.1. He brings the usage under the general rule, that appellatives often want the article, when they are such that only one of the kind exists, or are so used that there can be no reasonable doubt as to what object is inten ded. Besides νο ́ μος, such words as δικαιοσυ ́ νη, ἀγα ́ πη, and others, are similarly used.) Middleton would take an intermediate view; he would understand law in the general sense, but take it as inclusive of the law of Moses. It is, however, of this law, specially and peculiarly, that the apostle is evidently speaking: for the persons against whom he is directing his remarks assumed to be teachers of law only in this specific sense; and we have no reason for supposing that the subject of law was in any other respect before the mind of the apostle. But law so considered, unless the context plainly determines otherwise, always bears pointed reference to the decalogue; for this was the law in the more emphatic sense the heart and essence of the whole economy of law; hence alone deposited in the ark of the covenant. And that this here also is more especially in the eye of the apostle, is evident from the different sorts of character presently after mentioned as intended to be checked and restrained by the law: they admit of being all ranged under the precepts of the two tables. Now this law is not made ( οὐ κεῖται , the appropriate expression for the introduction or enactment of a law; whence οἱ νόμοι οἱ κείμενοι is equivalent to our phrase, “the established laws”) for the righteous ( δικαίῳ ). By the latter expression is to be understood, not one who in a worldly sense is just or upright (for the apostle is not here speaking of such), but who in the stricter sense is such, one who, whether by nature or by grace, has the position and character of a righteous man. Why is the law not made for such? It can only be because he is of himself inclined to act in conformity with its requirements. If Adam had continued in such a state of righteousness, he would not have needed any objective revelation of law; the spirit of the law in his bosom would spontaneously have prompted him to all that is pure and good. And of justified believers now the apostle elsewhere says: “They are not under law, but under grace;” yet so under grace that sin cannot have dominion over them, and their walk is not after the flesh, but after the Spirit (Romans 6:14, Romans 8:4). It is thus they have found whatever goodness belongs to them, and thus also that they are to go on to perfection not by serving themselves of the law, or using it as the ladder for reaching to higher attainments in goodness, but by laying hold of, or apprehending, that for which they are apprehended of Christ; drinking more deeply into the spirit of His gospel, and receiving into their souls fuller impressions of the great realities and hopes it presents to their acceptance. But this bespeaks nothing as to imperfection in the law itself, or the possibility of attaining to a height of excellence beyond its requirements. What is said has respect, not to the kind or measure of goodness men are called to aspire after, but to the way and means necessary to reach it; and when the law is represented as the antithesis of moral evil, in its various forms of irreligious and wicked behaviour, it is manifestly implied that the spirit and aim of the law itself is the perfection of moral excellence.

In regard to those for whom, he says, the law is made, those, that is, who need the check and restraint of its discipline, the apostle gives first a general description: they are the lawless and unruly, or disobedient, the self-willed, fiery and arrogant spirits that would fain spurn from them all surveillance and control. Then he branches out into particulars, the earlier portion of which have respect to offences against God, the later to offences against one’s fellow-men: for the ungodly and sinful ( ἀνοσίοις καὶ βεβήλοις , both words occurring in 1 Peter 4:18), the unholy and profane ( ἀσεβέσι καὶ ἁμαρτωλοῖς ), differing from the preceding pair only in pointing more distinctly to certain manifestations of the ungodly spirit, in irreverent and contemptuous behaviour toward the things more peculiarly associated with the name of God. What follows has respect to human relations: for smiters of fathers and smiters of mothers πατρολῴαις καὶ μητρολῴαις such is the proper import of the terms, rather than murderers of fathers and mothers; for the verb ( ἀλόαω or ἀλοίαω ) which forms the root of the second part of the compound expressions signifies merely to thresh, smite, or beat down; and so the smiting of father and mother, in itself a most unnatural and shameful violation of the honour due to them, whether or not it might issue in fatal consequences, was in the Old Testament legislation reckoned so heinous a transgression of the fifth command, that the penalty of death was attached to it (Exodus 21:15). Then come the violators of the sixth command, murderers; those of the seventh, fornicators, abusers of themselves with mankind ( ἀρσενοκοίταις , a term for which fortunately our language has no proper equivalent); those of the eighth, the most repulsive and inhuman class of them, men-stealers, kidnapping and making merchandise of their fellow-creatures; finally, those of the ninth commandment, liars, perjured persons. But as in this enumeration the apostle had mentioned only the more flagrant forms of transgression, and had no intention of furnishing a complete list of lawless characters, he winds up the description with a comprehensive form of expression, which includes whatever besides that can be reckoned evil: and if there be anything else that is contrary to the sound instruction ( τῇ ὑγιαινούσῃ διδασκαλίᾳ ), that sort of instruction, namely, which was exemplified in the teaching of our Lord and His apostles. Why such teaching should be characterized as sound or healthful why, at least, it should be so characterized here, and often besides in the Pastoral epistles (as at 1 Timothy 6:3; 2 Timothy 1:13; 2 Timothy 4:3; Titus 1:9, Titus 2:1), but not in Paul’s other writings, we may be but imperfectly competent to say. But neither can others be entitled to deny that the circumstances of the time were of a kind to render such an expression natural to Paul natural for him now, as contradistinguished from a preceding time. And the simple fact of its absence from the earlier epistles of Paul was almost certain to have deterred a forger of Paul’s name to have used it, at least with such marked frequency. The apostle himself, however, might well enough do it, if the erring tendencies against which he warned and wrote in the closing period of his ministry differed materially from those which had manifested themselves previously, and, in a moral respect, were of a sickly and distempered nature. Such appears to have been actually the case. It was no longer the avowed adversaries of the gospel that the apostle had to meet, nor its mistaken and bigoted corrupters of the pharisaical type, but a class of sophistical, dreamy, self-sufficient theosophists, who, without directly opposing or disparaging the gospel, sought to introduce a fine-spun but sickly sentimentalism, teaching abstinence from things in themselves proper and lawful, as if incompatible with the higher attainments of the divine life, and refining upon the law so as to derive from it an instruction it could not yield in its direct and natural import. This was essentially a morbid, an unhealthful sort of teaching, to which the apostle fitly opposed the sound and robust character of his own teaching and that of the other apostles. It was therefore the altered circumstances of the times which gave rise to this change in the language of the apostle; and it is absurd to urge the phraseology employed as an argument against the apostolic origin of the epistles, unless one could disprove the previous alteration in the circumstances which has certainly not yet been done.

Verse 11

Ver. 11. According to the gospel of the glory of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust not the glorious gospel, taking τῆς δόξης as a qualitative genitive, equivalent to ε ̓́ νγοξος (see Winer, Gr. § 34. 6). The gospel of God’s glory is the gospel which peculiarly displays His glory, unfolds this to the view of men by showing the moral character and perfections of God exhibited as they are nowhere else in the person and the work of Christ. Quite similarly, the apostle speaks in 2 Corinthians 4:4 of “the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God;” and elsewhere of “the riches of God’s glory toward the vessels of mercy,” or of the power which He gives them, “according to the riches of His glory” (Romans 9:23; Ephesians 3:16). By presenting the gospel thus as the manifestation of God’s glory, and the God from whom it comes as the blessed God, the apostle evidently intends to make it known as adequate to all the wants of men’s spiritual natures, and the purposes of their salvation. But while the meaning of the words is thus clear, what precisely is the nature of the connection between them and the preceding context? What does the apostle mean to tell us is according to his gospel? Is it simply the sound doctrine spoken of immediately before? So some have thought (as Theophylact, Bengel); but in that case there must have been required a connecting link with the διδασκαλίᾳ , such as τῇ κατὰ τὸ εὐαγ . (as is done in D; and Theophylact has the gloss, τῇ οὔση ͅ τὸ εὐαγ .). But there being no such connecting particle, we are obliged to refer this concluding statement to the whole of the preceding passage; and so the meaning comes to be, that the assertion about the law being made rather for restraining the wicked, than for establishing and perfecting the righteous, is according to the gospel of the grace of God with which the apostle was entrusted.

Verse 12

Ver. 12. The thought of such a gospel having been committed to him one so unworthy in himself of having any treasure of God entrusted to him leads the apostle to recall with adoring gratitude the treatment he had received from God his Saviour. In doing so, he in one sense breaks off the thread of his former discourse, leaving, as he does, for a time the false teachers, against whom he had been cautioning Timothy; but, in another, he is still prosecuting his design: for undoubtedly his main object was to inspire Timothy with right views of the nature of the gospel, and of the course it behoved him to follow in teaching and enforcing its lessons. The reference to false teachers was itself subordinate to this design; so that the occasion now taken to discourse of his own case as a singular exemplification of the gospel of God’s glory, is not of the nature of a digression, but is in perfect keeping with the general drift and aim of his instructions. It is also such an experimental record as might well come from the pen of the apostle himself, though we can scarcely conceive any one presuming to indite it in his behalf, far less to palm it on the church in his name. Ellicott, who vindicates the entire suitableness of the passage to the purpose of the apostle, justly says of it: “Thus, without seeking to pursue the subject in the form of a studied contrast between the law and the gospel (he was not now writing against direct Judaizers), or of a declaration how the transgressors of the law were to attain righteousness, he more than implies it all in the history of his own case. In a word, the law was for the condemnation of sinners, the gospel of Jesus Christ was for the saving of sinners and the ministration of forgiveness; verily, it was a gospel of the glory of the blessed God.”

Χάριν ἔχω I give thanks. This is not the apostle’s usual mode of expressing thanks: he generally uses the single verb ευ ̓ χαριστω ͂; but χάριν ἔχειν also occurs in 2 Timothy 1:3, in Hebrews 12:28, Luke 17:9; and χάρις itself in the sense of thanks frequently by our apostle, Romans 6:17; 1Co 15:57 ; 2 Corinthians 2:14, etc. The apostle gives thanks to Christ Jesus our Lord, who had given him power, or strengthened him ε ̓ νδυναμώσαντι namely, to receive such a commission or charge as had been entrusted to him. He has respect to the work of an apostle, in relation to the gospel of Christ’s glory, as at once a very arduous and a very responsible undertaking, which, however honourable, would have oppressed and crushed him, but for the strengthening and sustaining grace which he received from above. This endowment of grace is undoubtedly to be connected with the whole work of his apostleship; not merely, as some, with the performance of miracles, or, as others, with the patient endurance of trial and suffering: for, while supernatural power was needed for these, they still formed an incidental and subsidiary, not the primary, object of the apostolic calling. The great end for which he received this calling, as Paul himself elsewhere testifies, was to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ, and thereby win men to the love and service of God, and form them into communities of believing Christians. And as this was emphatically a divine work, in which, if left to himself, he should have laboured in vain, the same gracious Lord who gave him the call to the work, gave him also the aid necessary to its successful prosecution.

With thanks for the power conferred on him, however, the apostle couples the acknowledgment of his own deep unworthiness: he had been counted worthy to be put in trust with the weightiest charge, and furnished with the noblest gifts for its execution, though in himself he had been an offender of the deepest dye. The Lord, he says, reckoned me faithful, or trustworthy ( πιστόν ); adding the proof in a participial clause, appointing me for service εἰς διακονίαν for ministerial employ. Such employ necessarily requires fidelity in the person appointed to discharge it; and on this account, no doubt, the apostle chose the humbler and more general term of service, rather than apostleship, to designate his office, because viewing it here with reference to the work he had to do, not to the prerogatives given him to exercise. He thus also, for practical purposes, brought his case down to a level with Timothy’s, or that of any other servant of Christ. Whatever specific office they may hold, it is essentially a service they have to render; and the higher the office, the more onerous and important also the service: so that every one bearing office in the church of Christ is here admonished, by the example of the apostle, to regard himself as appointed to a duty of service, and to see in that a proof of the trust reposed in him by the great Head of the church; therefore also a call to fidelity in the work given him to do.

Verse 13

Ver. 13. Then comes the contrast between the present and the past, enhancing in the apostle’s esteem the mercy and loving-kindness he had experienced: though I formerly was ( τὸ πρότερον ὄντα , the participle of concession, or limitation, Jelf, § 697, c) a blasphemer one, that is to say, who was wont to speak evil of the name of Jesus, and compel others to do the same (Acts 26:11) a persecutor, and outrageous. Our English version is here too weak, translating ὑβριστήν by “injurious;” for the word signifies a doer of violence and outrage. “The ὑβριστής is contumelious; his insolence and contempt of others break forth in acts of wantonness and outrage” (Trench, Syn.). Such, certainly, was Paul’s behaviour toward the Christian party before his conversion, and such also too commonly was the behaviour of his countrymen towards him after it (1 Thessalonians 2:2, where the verb ὑβρισθει ́ ς is used with reference to his treatment at Philippi). But I obtained mercy, the apostle continues: great as his wickedness and guilt were, he yet became a subject of divine compassion; because (he adds) I did it ignorantly in unbelief: not meaning thereby to lessen the enormity of his guilt; for his very ignorance was culpable, having within his reach the means of correcting it, if he had been seriously minded to arrive at the truth. What he intends by the statement is, that his outrageous and violent procedure, however inexcusable in itself, was still not of such a kind as placed him beyond the pale of mercy; since he had not, like the worse part of the blaspheming and persecuting Pharisees, sinned against his better convictions (Mark 3:28-30); he had not deliberately set at nought the counsel of God, and defied Heaven to its face. He stood, therefore, substantially on a footing with the Jerusalem sinners who, on and after the day of Pentecost, were charged by St. Peter with the awful crime of having crucified the Lord of glory, yet with the qualifying circumstance of having done it in ignorance (Acts 3:17). In both cases alike the sin was of the deepest dye, only not unpardonable; it still lay within the sphere of redeeming grace but of grace in its more rare, one might even say, its exceptional exercise. This the apostle virtually admits in the words that follow.

Verse 14

Ver. 14. But the grace of our Lord superabounded ὑπερεπλεόνασεν not merely manifested itself in an act of mercy, and exhibition of undeserved goodness, as in the case of ordinary sinners, but overflowed, in a manner, its wonted channels, and like a mighty flood poured its gifts of love into his bosom. And with the wonderful grace received, the apostle couples the frame of mind awakened by it: with faith and love that are in Christ Jesus the fruit, certainly, of the grace bestowed, yet, as De Wette justly notes, not indicated here precisely as the fruit, but rather as the concomitants of grace the subjective side of a work of grace. While he continued a stranger to the grace of Christ, he was also without faith, in unbelief; and so far from being animated by a spirit of love, he pursued a course of blasphemy, persecution, . and outrage. But with grace came also faith and love, because by grace he was brought into living fellowship with Christ, the causal source and nourisher of both. There is a singular pregnancy in the passage, and also a profound Christian feeling pervading it, which leads the apostle to find all his springs in Christ, and in Christ as at once the embodiment of sovereign redeeming mercy, and the grand medium of its communication to the soul. In the strongest possible form he here again utters the confession, “By the grace of God I am what I am” (1 Corinthians 15:10; Ephesians 3:8).

Verse 15

Ver. 15. For already some have turned away after Satan; taking him, as it were, for their leader and guide, though in what precise way, or to what extent, is not stated. But it can easily be gathered from the preceding representation. Some of those who were the subject of discourse namely, the younger class of widows whose names were on the list of the church’s almswomen had already given evidence of the wanton, idle, and troublesome behaviour complained of, so that they had become more like Satan’s followers than Christ’s. Therefore the apostle would have them regarded as beacons, warning the church not to continue the overindulgent treatment it had begun to exhibit toward such. This argues nothing as to the time of the composition of the epistle; for a very few cases of the kind referred to, and such as might well enough have occurred within a comparatively limited period, would have been quite sufficient to justify the reference, and the advice grounded on it.

Verse 16

Ver. 16. Howabeit (so the A.V. well, giving full expression to the contrast indicated by the ἀλλὰ between the apostle’s behaviour toward Christ, and Christ’s procedure toward him), for this cause I obtained mercy, in order that in me first Christ Jesus might show forth all long-suffering, for a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him to life eternal. The former reason assigned by the apostle for his obtaining mercy had respect to his personal relation to the principles of the divine government, as one little entitled to expect any manifestation of mercy, yet not placed beyond the sphere of its exercise. But the reason here adduced points to the economical design of God in selecting such a sinner to be a vessel of mercy: it was that he might be a living exemplar or pattern, as well as herald, of the wonderful grace exhibited in the gospel; so that from what had been wrought in him others might take courage, and repair to Christ for the pardon of sin and life eternal, might, as it is put by Bengel, conform themselves to the pattern, and say to themselves. If thou believest as Paul, thou shalt be saved as Paul. Such is the general import, and the particular words and phrases involve no special difficulty. There is a difference in the reading in one part; the received text having τὴν πᾶσαν μακροθυμίαν , while Lach. and Tisch. prefer τὴν ἄπασαν μακ . This last is certainly somewhat better supported, being found in א , A, F, G, while the other has only D, I, K. But the difference in meaning is not material. If we adopt ἄπασαν , it merely renders the entireness or fulness of the long-suffering manifested toward the apostle more distinctly pronounced: the whole of His long-suffering, all that He had to show of it. But the other reading ( πα ͂ σαν ) also includes all; for πα ͂ ς , when standing between the article and the noun, according to the rule, marks the noun as an abstract, and indicates that it is to be taken in its entirety, without respect to individual members or component parts (Winer, Gr. § 17, 10; Green, Gr. p. 194). So that τη ̀ ν πα ͂ σαν μακ . denotes all that can be comprised in the term long-suffering this in its totality. And so Chrysostom explains, though the reading he followed was that of the received text: “As if he said, In none more than in me has He need to show long-suffering; nor can He find one who has been so much a sinner, needing all His mercy, all His long-suffering, not a part merely, as they who have sinned in part.” He could not have said more, if he had read α ̓́ πασαν . The word for pattern, ὑποτύπωσις , which is found only here and in 2 Timothy 1:13, does not materially differ from τυ ́ πος , the term commonly used by Paul (Romans 5:14; 1 Corinthians 10:6, 1 Corinthians 10:11, etc.); but is of more active import expresses not so properly the inanimate form as the living exemplification, the personified action of the long-suffering referred to. And being coupled with the genitive of possession τῶν μελλόντων πιστεύειν it is represented as in some sense belonging to these future believers called into existence and set forth for their special behoof. In St. Paul first first in the sense of chief, or foremost exemplification had the attribute of mercy been displayed, that they might be the more distinctly assured of the divine purpose to extend its manifestation to themselves. And being described as going to believe on Christ to life eternal, these future believers, who would take the benefit of the apostle’s marvellous experience, have presented to them at once the high destiny to which they should be called, and the ground on which their hope of it must rest faith in the person and work of Christ.

[The question here naturally suggests itself, how far Christian ministers should in their preaching disclose their more marked personal experiences, or should interweave references to their spiritual history with their manifestations of divine truth to their fellow-men. But it were unwise to lay down any precise rule in the matter, or prescribe one method for all. That there may occasionally be made such personal references, and with advantage to the hearers, the example of the apostle is itself a sufficient proof. Not only here, but in several other parts of his epistles, he brings prominently forward what had befallen or had been done by himself; and these are universally felt to be among the most interesting and instructive portions of his writings. And so will it ever be with men of like minds, men of ardent temperaments, vivid imaginations, and energetic wills, in whom everything in experience and behaviour naturally assumes a distinctly personal, characteristic impress. It will be natural for such persons to reveal themselves at times in their discourses, whether by direct reference to the past workings of their own mind, and God’s dealings with them, or by subjective exhibitions of Christian truth and duty, raised on the background of their own experience. When fitly and discreetly done, it may throw a peculiar charm and glow over the preacher’s discourse. But very great caution is needed in the use of such an element, lest it should degenerate into egotism, or become merely a display of individual singularity and importance. Deep sincerity the impulse of strong feeling a conviction of its fitness to subserve some spiritual end, should ever go along with, and condition, any personal references one may make in public discourse. And if some men of note have dealt much in them, and by doing so have lent an attractive power to their mode of address, such as Luther, Bunyan, Irving, Guthrie; others, again, of the very highest mark as public speakers, for example, Leighton, R. Hall, Chalmers, have studiously avoided it: their individuality has discovered itself only in the distinctive character and spirit of their discourse.]

Verse 17

Ver. 17. Now, to the King of the ages, the incorruptible, invisible, only God, be honour and glory for ages of ages (or, for ever and ever). Amen. The language in this doxology is somewhat peculiar, and has no exact parallel in New Testament Scripture. In a very few passages is the epithet King applied to God, as in Matthew 5:35, “the great King;” 1 Timothy 6:15, “King of kings;” Revelation 15:3, “King of nations” (according to the correct reading), but here only King of the ages. Our translators have softened and generalized the expression, by rendering “the King eternal.” It is better, however, to adhere to the proper import of the word. Αἰών , from ἀίω , ἄημι , to breathe (Hom. Il. xv. 252), means (1) lifetime, life; (2) long period of time, perpetuity=Lat. oevum; and in this latter sense various shades of meaning quite naturally arise according to the connection: in particular, ( a) past time, from of old, or since time began (Luke 1:70; Acts 3:21; Colossians 1:26); ( b) the present epoch of passing time, the age in which one lives, or the existing world (Matthew 13:22; Luke 16:8; Romans 12:2, etc.); ( c) the successive stages or epochs of the world’s history, dispensational time (Matthew 24:3; Hebrews 9:26; 1 Corinthians 10:11), the termination of the aeons or ages being in this case coincident with the end of the world. But as the indefinite extension of such successive periods may readily enter into our conceptions of the future as well as of the past, so there naturally came, ( d) by a reduplication of the word, the idea of eternity ages of ages, dispensational epochs of indefinite number=eternity. So here, for example, at the close of the doxology, εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων , for ever and ever; and in other passages, the word, sometimes in the singular, sometimes in the plural, stands simply for eternity, whether as before or as after the periods we designate by the general name of time, as in Ephesians 3:11, Eph 3:21 ; 1 Peter 1:25; 2 Peter 3:18; Mark 3:29, Mark 11:14, etc. There is no difficulty in understanding the import of the expression as connected with God; and it is best, as we have said, to retain it in its simplicity. When He is spoken of as King of the ages. He is presented to our view as supreme Lord and Director of the successive cycles or stages of development through which this world, or creation at large, was destined to pass the Sovereign Epoch-maker, who arranges everything pertaining to them beforehand, according to the counsel of His own will, and controls whatever takes place, so as to subordinate it to His design. The idea is presented in many other parts of Scripture, in the Old Testament as well as in the New; and in Psalms 145:13, the kingdom of God is in the Septuagint described as βασιλεία πάντων τῶν αἰωνων , a kingdom of all the ages. In the apocryphal books the expression King of ages is distinctly applied to God ( Sir 36:17 (22); Tob 13:6 ). The epithets which follow, ἀφθάρτῳ ἀοράτῳ μόνῳ (the received text has also σοφῷ ), but against the best authorities), are to be coupled with the θεῷ which follows, the whole specifying and characterizing the Being designated as King of the ages; He is the incorruptible, invisible, sole God. To Him alone belong honour and glory, and to Him they belong to all eternity. The same expressions are together applied to God in Revelation 4:9, Revelation 4:11, and to the glorified Christ in Hebrews 2:9, Revelation 5:13.

As to the reason for introducing here such an ascription of praise to God, no other can be assigned than the devout and grateful emotions of the apostle’s heart; nor is any other needed. The train of reflection into which he had been led, naturally brought the thought of God very prominently before him; of God as the free and sovereign dispenser of the grace which he had received, and which had changed the whole state of his condition and prospects. And penetrated with a sense of the infinite greatness and overruling wisdom, power, and goodness of God as manifested in his own singular history, he rises from the particular to the general, and winds up this touching and personal interlude in his discourse by a devout acknowledgment of God as the Lord of the universe, of all its ages, and the issues therewith connected, and glorifying Him as such.

Verses 18-20

Vers. 18-20. In these verses the apostle again returns to his proper theme that, namely, of giving specific counsels and directions to Timothy. This charge I commit to thee, child Timothy. What charge? Referring back to 1 Timothy 1:3, we find the apostle charging Timothy ( ἵνα παραγγείλῃς ) respecting those who were acting as teachers at Ephesus, that they should be urged to avoid teaching after a certain manner; and at 1 Timothy 1:5 he had spoken generally of what he held to be the end of the gospel charge ( παραγγελία ), for all who might assume the office of Christian instructors. Several commentators have consequently brought the charge mentioned here into direct connection with those earlier passages, as Theodoret, Mack, and some others. It is a serious objection, however, to such a view, that the preceding references to a charge lie so remote from the one before us; and the subject, also, as here introduced, has the appearance of being in itself both special and complete. Most recent commentators, therefore, justly conceive that nothing more than perhaps an indirect allusion can be supposed to exist here to the charges or commands mentioned previously, and that the more direct and immediate object of the present charge is expressed in the ἵνα στρατεύῃ which follows. The apostle, in short, has passed from his own peculiar calling, and the trust therewith connected, to the inferior yet still very important office and trust now committed to Timothy, and lays on him the command to do in regard to it the part of a good soldier of Christ, that he might visage successfully the conflict with evil. The more remarkable part of the passage is the reference it contains to certain prophecies which had been uttered concerning Timothy, and which the apostle introduces as a kind of justification of the command he is going to lay on his disciple: according to the prophecies that went before on thee, or that were at an early period pronounced over thee. When precisely these prophecies were uttered, we are nowhere informed; but the probability is that they belong to the period of Timothy’s special designation to Christian work under the authority and guidance of the apostle, given then for the purpose of encouraging the church to make the designation, and disposing Timothy to accede to it. His extreme youth, and possibly also slender frame, might render such intimations of the Divine mind respecting the future course of Timothy in a sense necessary at the commencement of his official connection with St. Paul. And it may be inferred, from the allusion to them here, that they contained indications both of the arduous nature of the work which he was called to do, and of the divine aid that should be given him to discharge it. On this account the apostle speaks of them, not simply as having been given at a definite period in the past, but as being still in a manner operative: in order that in them thou mayest war the good warfare; in them ( ἐν αὐτοῖς ), not simply, according to them (Huther), but as being, so to speak, encompassed by them, and finding in them whatever thou needest to stimulate and encourage thee amid the perils and difficulties which thou hast to encounter. The apostle thus had, in the prophecies in question, a specific occasion for the charge he was going to deliver; and the object of both was, that the early promise made to Timothy of a successful career in the cause of the gospel might be realized. The image employed to describe Timothy’s course of Christian activity that of a warfare was quite familiar to the apostle. In other passages he uses it of believers generally, Ephesians 6:12; of himself as an apostle, 2 Corinthians 10:3-4; and of Timothy again in the second epistle, 2 Timothy 2:3.

Verse 19

Ver. 19. Here follows an instruction as to the more essential qualifications for prevailing in such a spiritual warfare: having (or holding, ἔχων ) faith and a good conscience; possessing these moral elements as indispensable prerequisites, or accompaniments of the work. Faith fitly goes first; for it is this which provides the Christian combatant with his only valid standing-ground for the conflict, and supplies him with the weapons which alone can enable him to repel the assaults of the adversary, and counterwork his devices. But a good conscience is here faith’s necessary handmaid; for the contest is in the strictest sense a moral one, and a depravation of the conscience is a virtual abandonment of the struggle: it is yielding to the adversary an entrenchment in the citadel. A single flaw even in the conscience is fatal to the believer’s security, and his heartiness in the work; nor can it be permitted to exist without gnawing like a worm at the root of faith itself. The man who would do battle for the truth of God must be responsive in his inmost soul to the claims of divine truth, and render it clear as day that he identifies himself with its interests is ready, in a manner, to live and die in its behalf. The two, therefore, must go together as inseparable companions: the good conscience can no more be dispensed with than the living faith; and much must ever depend on the healthful, harmonious, and concurrent action of the two for the result that is attained in the Christian warfare.

Sacred history presents too many instances of the disastrous effects of holding these qualifications apart the faith without a good conscience, as, in Old Testament times, Balaam, Saul; in New, Judas, Demas. And here the apostle points to several in the region of Timothy’s labours, though he only specifies two by name: which some having thrust away ( ἀπωσάμενοι ), concerning faith made shipwreck. The relative ( ἥν ) can only refer to the second of the two qualifications previously mentioned, the good conscience; and the manner of dealing with it affirmed of certain parties, can only be understood of violent overbearing suppression: they resolutely stifled its monitions, or drove from them whatever it suggested in the way of moral suasion to restrain them in the course they were pursuing. They thus, in the first instance, proved false to the convictions of their better nature; and this, by a natural process of reaction, led them to make shipwreck of faith itself. For faith, having failed to influence their practice, turned as a matter of course into a speculation: their views of divine truth became dim and wavering; they began first to undervalue, then to disrelish what should have been prized as their necessary food, until at last faith lost its hold altogether of the foundations, and as an anchorless vessel drifted among the rocks of scepticism. A melancholy history, of which no age of the church has been without its memorable examples!

Verse 20

Ver. 20. Of whom (the apostle adds) is Hymenaeus and Alexander. Both these names occur again in an unfavourable connection (Hymenaeus in 2 Timothy 2:17, and Alexander in 2 Timothy 4:14); and it is a question among commentators, whether the same persons are in each case denoted by them. In regard to Hymenaeus, there seems no proper reason for doubting the identity. For the name was by no means a common one; and that it should have been borne by two different persons, both in the same locality, and both exhibiting heretical tendencies, so near the beginning of the church, is against all probability. It has been alleged against this view (by Mosheim and others), that the Hymenaeus in the second epistle is spoken of in milder terms than the one here in the later reference only as a dangerous errorist to be shunned, in the earlier as one cast out like “an abominable branch” from the communion of the faithful. But the different aspects under which the subject is contemplated in the two places, sufficiently account for the different sort of representation employed in each. In the second reference it is his erroneous teaching which is brought into prominence, and which is characterized as a denying of the doctrine of the resurrection, and a consequent overthrowing of the faith of those who listened to it, in that point of view, surely, a strong enough statement, since it denounces Hymenaeus as erring in regard to one of the cardinal doctrines of Christianity, and thereby undermining what he should have striven to establish. Here, however, it is the diseased moral state of the man himself, and the disciplinary treatment which it called for, if there was to be any chance of arresting its progress, and saving him from perdition. But this representation concerning the person is no way incompatible with what is afterwards said respecting the doctrine. Both notices are brief; they give us only the more prominent features; but the probability is, from what we otherwise know, that the denial doctrinally of the literal resurrection was far from standing alone, that it was simply an indication of that pretentious spiritualistic Gnosticism, which had its worst effect in the moral sophistication it wrought in the heart distorting men’s views of the divine life, and blunting their consciences as to the essential distinctions between right and wrong, holiness and sin. The Alexander who is here coupled with Hymenaeus may or may not be the same person who is mentioned in Second Timothy, designated there as the coppersmith, and a personal enemy of the apostle, “who did him much harm.” The name was a very common one, and may have belonged to several persons in the same church or neighbourhood at the period the apostle wrote. It tells also somewhat against the identification, that while both Hymenaeus and Alexander reappear in the second epistle as the names of false disciples, they are no longer connected together. Philetus is there associated with Hymenaeus; and Alexander is mentioned alone, and apparently as a worker of evil, not at Ephesus, but in Rome, though it is possible enough he may have belonged to the region of Asia. Our materials are too scanty to enable us to draw more definite conclusions.

How had the apostle dealt with such offenders? Whom (says he ) I delivered over to Satan, that they might he disciplined (or taught by chastisement) not to blaspheme. The verb παιδεύω , though its primary meaning was to educate or train up, and it is sometimes so used in the New Testament (as in Acts 7:22), yet usually bears, both in the Sept. and in the New Testament, the sense of scourging, correcting, or chastising with a view to reformation and improvement (Luke 23:16, Luke 23:22; Hebrews 12:6-7; 1 Corinthians 11:32; 2 Corinthians 6:9, etc.). A severe schooling of some sort is therefore meant here a subduing and corrective discipline, having for its object the recovery of the persons subjected to it from their grievous backsliding, and being made to cease from blaspheming, that is, misrepresenting and calumniating: the truth of God. But what is to be understood of the kind of discipline itself, expressed in the very solemn and peculiar phraseology of delivering them over to Satan? It might seem as if this, were it really effected, must have precluded all hope of a better future, and was like consigning the parties concerned to utter perdition. So doubtless it would, if, according to the doctrine of Scripture and the truth of things, Satan were an absolutely independent as well as hostile power, who had an indefeasible right to retain whatever was given as a prey into his hand. But such is by no means the case. Satan is but a creature and an instrument one who has a definite sphere to occupy and a power to exercise, in relation to the purposes of God’s moral government, but still only of a subordinate and ministerial kind. Thus, in Old Testament times. Job was for a season left to be bruised and afflicted by Satan; only, however, for a season, and in order that he might through the fiery ordeal be raised to a higher purity and a more serene bliss. David, also, in a time of carnal pride and security, was allowed to be tempted by Satan, so as to be thereby drawn into the vortex of severe retributory judgments, yet with the ultimate design of having the flesh destroyed and the spirit raised to a nobler elevation (1 Chronicles 21:1; Psalms 30:0). In New Testament Scripture we are met with the numerous demoniacs on whom our Lord so frequently exercised His healing power; cases, indeed, respecting which as a whole we have very imperfect information, while yet we have no reason to doubt that in most, if not all of them, the demoniacal agency was of the nature of a chastisement, and was rendered subservient to great moral purposes for the individuals affected by it (see Matthew 12:43-45). Still more nearly allied, perhaps, to the point in hand, was the giving up of Peter and his fellow-disciples to Satan for a season, that they might, for their obstinate blindness and corruption, be sifted as wheat (Luke 22:31-32). It was doubtless on the basis of such considerations and examples that St. Paul acted here, as previously, in a somewhat parallel case, at Corinth (1 Corinthians 5:5). In respect to that earlier occasion he told the Corinthians, since they had failed in their duty concerning it, that “in the name of the Lord Jesus he had adjudged the offending person to Satan for the destruction of the flesh:” he had done it by virtue of his apostolic function, yet so that the church might bring it home to the party concerned; as in this case also the church at Ephesus would certainly have to indorse and act upon the apostle’s judgment. The infliction in both cases is purposely left general; its object rather than its nature is indicated: it was for the destruction of the flesh. But this might partly be accomplished by the shame and mortification of a formal removal from the flock and guardianship of Christ to the desert world, partly by inward remorse and sorrow on account of the guilt incurred, by the sense of forlornness and desolation produced, and possibly also by some outward tribulations sickness of body, or calamities of life as salutary warnings and preludes of coming wrath. For the working of such bitter experiences Satan was the proper instrument the antinomy, indeed, in his aim and immediate action of the Spirit of God, whose presence ever makes itself felt in all peace, and joy, and blessing; yet an antinomy which is capable of being turned by the benignant will and controlling agency of God into an ultimate harmony; since the destruction of the flesh effected by the one class of operations might through the other become a fit preparation for awakening in the soul convictions of sin and longings for salvation. So that the delivering to Satan was in the apostle’s intention and desire only an expedient for accomplishing a spiritual cure. It was the most solemn form of excommunication, and betokened that those against whom it was employed were in a most perilous condition trembling on the brink of final impenitence, and if capable of being saved at all, saved only as by fire. The form, indeed, was such that it seems to have been regarded as fit for none but an apostle to use, as if he alone had the spiritual discernment to perceive when it should be done, or the authority requisite for doing it with effect. Hence, however common excommunication was in the ancient church, the authorities did not presume to give it this form, not even in the case of the greatest offenders (see Bingham, Ant. B. xvi. c. 2). At the same time, there can be no doubt that the apostolic practice in this respect tended materially to sustain the ancient church in enforcing that stringent discipline by which she was so long distinguished, but which was ultimately carried to an excess that ministered to prevailing errors.

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on 1 Timothy 1". "Fairbairn's Commentary on Ezekiel, Jonah and Pastoral Epistles". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/fbn/1-timothy-1.html.
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