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Bible Commentaries
1 Timothy 1

The Bible Study New TestamentBible Study NT

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Verse 1


An apostle of Christ Jesus. One purpose of this letter was to show Timothy’s authority, so Paul makes it plain that he writes as an apostle. By order of God. The circumcision party tried to undermine the authority of Paul. For this reason, he often repeats the fact that it was by God’s own order that he is an apostle, sent to the Gentiles (Acts 9:15; Romans 1:1). Some think a comma should be placed after “Christ Jesus,” and understand Paul to be saying: “I Paul write this Letter by the order of God.”

Verse 2


To Timothy. Paul calls Timothy “my true son,” because: (1) he brought him to Christ (1 Corinthians 4:15-17); (2) the followers of the prophets were called sons of the prophets.

Verse 3


I want you to stay in Ephesus. Timothy was not a “bishop” in the modern sense, but a teaching evangelist (compare note on Ephesians 4:11). It was his mission to teach the new Christians, to appoint church leaders (elders), to train workers, and to oppose false doctrines. You must order them to stop. This must refer to the circumcision party in the church, since Timothy would have no authority over outsiders. Paul does not mention the names of these people, but Timothy knows them. He is to put a stop to their false teaching!

Verse 4


Tell them to give up. The circumcision party had picked up elements of Greek mysticism and blended these with Jewish tradition. They used this to “prove” that salvation comes only through obeying the Law of Moses. See note on Titus 1:14. Legends. These are myths invented by the teachers of the Law. Long lists of names. Philo, a Jew of Alexandria, had built up a mystical interpretation of these lists of names, in which they were symbolic of different conditions of the soul. See note on Titus 3:9. They do not serve God’s plan. These false doctrines can only produce arguments. They tear down and destroy, rather than build up!

Verse 5


The purpose. Love is not produced by the things which the circumcision party were teaching. Since love is so vital to the life of the church (see notes on Revelation 2:4-5), Timothy must stop those who teach these divisive things. Instead, they are to arouse the love that every Christian MUST have!

Verse 6


Have turned away. They have completely missed the target at which they ate shooting! They have lost their way, as these foolish discussions have blinded them to what is TRUE!

Verse 7


They want to be teachers. They are “saviors of mankind,” who think they are doing God’s will by their devotion to the Law of Moses. But they do not understand either the results of their words, or the nature and meaning of the Law about which they speak.


We know. “The Law itself is good; and both it and the gospel promote good conduct. But the Law cannot be used to teach legends and long lists of names of ancestors.” Compare 2 Timothy 2:5 and note.

Verses 9-10


It must be remembered. “Law” is not given to put men right with God, but to stop those who do evil and to punish them. See note at the end of Romans 3:31.

Verse 11


That teaching. The true teaching. The Good News of Jesus Christ is based on the FACTS of God’s act in him to set men free. The true teaching is based on the AUTHORITY of Christ. These false teachers claimed they were teaching the gospel (see Galatians 1:6-9 and notes).

Verse 12


Who has given me strength. “I cannot talk about my part in preaching the gospel without thanking God for forgiving my sins and mistakes, and for appointing me to serve Him and giving me the strength to do it!”

Verse 13


Even though in the past. Neither Paul himself (nor his enemies) could ever forget what he had done. But God was merciful to me. Not only in forgiving Paul’s sin, but in allowing him to serve Him! Note that even when Paul persecuted and insulted Christ (Christ’s church), he did not do it to rebel against God. He did it to serve God, and when he discovered he was wrong, he changed!

Verse 14


His abundant grace. The point is that God’s grace outweighs Paul’s sin!!! It may be that Paul’s enemies (especially the circumcision party) tried to discredit and disqualify his apostleship by pointing to his great sin in trying to destroy Christ’s church. Gave me the faith and love. By faith, Paul means “the understanding of the power and wisdom of God, which showed him that God does not need anyone to serve him by means of persecution and cruelty (things which are un-Godly).” By love, Paul means the frame of mind that allowed men to choose for themselves in matters of religion (as he did himself). [It is difficult, but necessary, to achieve a balance between “stopping error” and permitting “free choice.”]

Verse 15


This is a true saying. Compare Titus 1:9 and note. Christ Jesus. This is a “statement of faith!” Paul, a sinner who had been saved, was a proof of this statement. I am the worst of them. Probably his enemies said this. But Paul has no false modesty. The more you learn about God, the more you realize your sinfulness!!! See 1 John 1:8-10.

Verse 16


For this very reason. See notes on Acts 9:1-2. If God was willing to save “Saul the Destroyer,” it ought to serve as proof that God is willing to save all who come to Him through Christ!!!

Verse 17


To the eternal King! This is Paul’s song of praise to the God who forgave him and saved him! Compare Romans 16:25-27; 1 Timothy 6:16. Invisible. This identifies the ONLY GOD from the idols who were visible.

Verse 18


I entrust this command to you. What Paul said in 1 Timothy 1:3; 1 Timothy 1:5. According to the words of prophecy. Compare Acts 13:1-3 and notes. The Holy Spirit selected Timothy (speaking through the prophets), and these words spoken identified Timothy as one who had the potential to do the work. Paul gives both Timothy and Titus lists of rules and qualifications so they will be able to identify those persons who can be church leaders and church helpers. Let those word. “The words of prophecy placed an obligation on you. As you think of these things, it will give you courage and strength to do your job well!” See 1 Timothy 4:14; 2 Timothy 1:6.

Verse 19


And clear conscience. “To fight the good fight, you must keep your faith, but also a clear conscience. You can do this by refusing to use the unethical methods of the false teachers.” Have not listened. “Faith is a ship, and conscience is the pilot. Some men have not listened to their pilot, and have wrecked their ship of faith on the rocks of sin.” See Paul’s strong impeachment of false teachers in Galatians 1:6-9.

Verse 20


Hymenaeus and Alexander. MacKnight thinks these belong to the circumcision party. Hymenaeus is mentioned again in 2 Timothy 2:17-18; and Alexander is probably the one mentioned in 2 Timothy 4:14-15. To the power of Satan. That is, put out of the church, but compare note on 1 Corinthians 5:5. Apostles had the power to punish severely (see Acts 13:8-12 and notes). MacKnight thinks this was not done through the church at Ephesus, but directly by Paul himself, as he had the authority to do.

Bibliographical Information
Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 1". "The Bible Study New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ice/1-timothy-1.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.
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