Lectionary Calendar
Friday, June 14th, 2024
the Week of Proper 5 / Ordinary 10
For 10¢ a day you can enjoy StudyLight.org ads
free while helping to build churches and support pastors in Uganda.
Click here to learn more!

Bible Commentaries
1 Timothy 1

Benson's Commentary of the Old and New TestamentsBenson's Commentary

Search for…
Enter query below:
Additional Authors


A.M. 4069. A.D. 65.

After the ordinary salutation, Paul,

(1,) Reminds Timothy of the charge which he had given him at Ephesus, to adhere steadfastly to the Christian doctrine, 1Ti 1:3 , 1 Timothy 1:4 .

(2,) Represents the true end and use of the Mosaic law, 1 Timothy 1:5-11 .

(3,) With humble gratitude he relates his own marvellous conversion and call to the apostleship, 1 Timothy 1:12-17 .

(4,) Charges Timothy to maintain faith and a good conscience, which some having abandoned, had been excommunicated, 1 Timothy 1:18-20 .

Verses 1-2

1 Timothy 1:1-2. Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ The apostle begins his epistle with asserting his apostolical dignity, not because Timothy was in any doubt concerning it, but to make the Ephesians sensible of the danger they incurred, if they rejected the charges and admonitions which the apostle ordered Timothy to deliver to them. Familiarity is to be set aside where the things of God are concerned. By Or according to; the commandment The authoritative appointment; of God our Saviour So styled in many other places likewise, as being the grand orderer of the whole scheme of our salvation; and Christ our hope That is, the author, object, and ground of all our hope. To Timothy, my own son If Timothy was not at first converted by the apostle, (which it is not certain he was from any historical account that has reached us,) yet he might term him his own, or genuine son, because of the parental affection he had for him, the complacency which he found in that assistance which he had received from him in the work of the ministry, in which he had faithfully served him, like a son with his father, (Philippians 2:22,) and in the filial reverence and affection which this excellent young evangelist expressed to him; not to mention that Timothy had received much establishment in the faith through the apostle. Grace, mercy, and peace St. Paul wishes grace and peace in his epistles to the churches. To Timothy he adds mercy, the most tender grace toward those who stand in need of it, as indeed all do. The experience of this prepares a man to be a minister of the gospel.

Verses 3-4

1 Timothy 1:3-4 . As I besought thee Παρεκαλεσα σε , I entreated thee. It is observed by Beza, that by using this soft expression the apostle hath left a singular example of modesty, to be imitated by superiors in their behaviour toward their inferiors in the church. When I went into Macedonia, (Acts 20:1,) that thou mightest charge some Who appeared to be inclined to introduce their own corrupt notions into the church; that they teach no other doctrine Than I have taught. Let them put nothing in the place of it, add nothing to it. These teachers were probably Judaizers, and members of the church at Ephesus; for with other teachers Timothy could have little influence. In not mentioning the names of these corrupt teachers, the apostle showed great delicacy, hoping that they might still be reclaimed. The same delicacy he had observed in his treatment of the false teacher or teachers at Corinth, and of the incestuous person there. Neither give heed to fables To fabulous Jewish traditions, so as either to teach or regard them; and endless genealogies Questions about their genealogies. The apostle does not speak of those recorded in the Scriptures, but of the long intricate pedigrees whereby many of the Jews strove to prove their descent from certain persons: which minister questions Which lead only to useless and endless controversies; rather than godly edifying The promotion of holiness, which leads men to God; which is in faith Which edification is by faith in the great truths of the Scriptures, and in Christ, of whom the Scriptures testify as the Redeemer and Saviour of lost sinners.

Verses 5-7

1 Timothy 1:5-7. Now the end The scope, design, or substance; of the commandment Or charge, rather, as παραγγελια properly signifies, being a noun derived from the verb, translated, that thou mightest charge, 1 Timothy 1:3. The apostle had desired Timothy to continue at Ephesus, that he might charge some to teach no other doctrine than what had been taught: here he informs him what the scope of his charge to these teachers was to be, namely, that instead of inculcating fables, &c., they should inculcate charity, or love to God and man, proceeding from a pure heart That is, from a heart purified by the Word and Spirit of God, from the love of sin, the love of the world, and all inordinate self-love, and from all corrupt affections and dispositions; a good conscience A conscience properly informed concerning sin and duty, thoroughly awakened and sprinkled from evil, or the guilt of sin, by the blood of Jesus, Hebrews 9:14; Hebrews 10:22; and faith unfeigned Namely, in the truths and promises of the gospel, and in Christ, in whom those truths and promises are yea and amen. Observe, reader, this faith unfeigned is the root of the other particulars here named. By it, and by it only, we obtain deliverance from the guilt and power of sin, essential to a good conscience; by it our hearts are purified, Acts 15:9; 1 Peter 1:22: and as it always worketh by love, (Galatians 5:6,) by it we obtain the love of God and of all mankind, the source, yea, and essence, of all piety and virtue. Here therefore the apostle asserts that the love which he speaks of, proceeding from the principles here named, is the scope and design of the gospel doctrine, or of the whole Christian institution, as it is indeed also of the moral law, and the writings of the prophets. From which Love, accompanied with these other particulars; some having swerved The verb αστοχησαντες , thus rendered, signifies to err from the mark at which a person shoots or aims; and is elegantly used in this place, as τελος , the scope aimed at, was introduced in the preceding verse: have turned aside into vain jangling Unprofitable disputes and discourses. An affectation of high and extensive knowledge sets a man at the greatest distance from faith, and all proper sense of true experimental religion: and of all vanities none are more vain than dry, empty disputes on the things of God. Desiring to be teachers of the law Greek, νομοδιδασκαλοι , a word which, in the evangelists, is rendered doctors of the law, of the same import with the Hebrew word rabbis. And though it is not used exactly in that sense here, yet there seems to be some reference to it: understanding neither what they say The very things they utter; nor whereof they affirm The subject they speak of, or concerning which they express themselves strongly and confidently, as the words περι τινων διαβεβαιουνται properly signify.

Verses 8-11

1 Timothy 1:8-11. We know that the law is good Answers excellent purposes; if a man use it lawfully In a proper manner. Even the ceremonial law is good as it points to Christ, and is emblematical of the various branches of salvation that are in and through him; and the moral law is holy, just, and good, resulting from the nature of God and man, and the relations of mankind to him and each other, and of admirable use both to convince men of sin, and to bring them to Christ for justification, as well as to direct such as are justified in the way of holiness. The apostle’s expression, If a man use it lawfully, plainly intimates, as Doddridge observes, “that there were some who abused the law, borrowing a pretence from it to condemn some of the best of men, and to subvert the gospel. And whereas some had represented Paul as an enemy to the law, he here denies and disproves the charge. The design of the Mosaic law was to direct the conduct of those to whom it was given, and to humble them under a sense of their sin. But it could not be intended to save them by a perfect conformity to it, which was το αδυνατον του νομου , what the law could not do, Romans 8:3.” Knowing this As first necessary in order to the making a right use of the law; that the law is not made for Greek, ου κειται , does not lie against, a righteous man Who makes it the rule of his conduct, and has it written on his heart, sincerely loving it, and carefully guarding against every violation of it. Not that the righteous so fulfil the law as to answer its high demands in every respect; in that sense, by the deeds of the law shall no flesh living be justified, Romans 3:20; Galatians 2:16; where see the notes. But Christ having redeemed true believers from that curse and condemnation of the law to which they would otherwise be exposed, through him their love to God and man is graciously accepted as the fulfilling of the law, Romans 13:10; Galatians 5:14; James 2:8. But for the lawless That is, it lies against the lawless; and disobedient Who, despising or disregarding the authority of the lawgiver, knowingly transgress his commands. Perhaps, as some observe, the expression, κειται , lies, refers to the custom of having laws written on tables, and hung up or laid in public places, to be read by all, and evidently showing against whom the law lay: see on Colossians 2:14. Against the ungodly and sinners Persons destitute of the knowledge and fear, as well as love of God, and notorious transgressors; the unholy In heart and life; and profane Violating the name and day of God, and all sacred things, and so treating with contempt or neglect all the commands of the first table: murderers of fathers and of mothers The apostle proceeds to speak of those who violate the commands of the second table; and first, of those who, instead of honouring their parents, even imbrue their hands in their blood, and so by one act transgress and trample under foot both the fifth and sixth commands: whoremongers Adulterers, fornicators, and lewd persons of all kinds, who violate the seventh; men-stealers Who in the grossest sense possible break the eighth; for of all thieves, those who steal human beings are the worst. In comparison of them, highwaymen and house-breakers are innocent! “They who make war for the inhuman purpose of selling the vanquished for slaves, as is the practice of African princes; and they who, like African traders, encourage their unchristian traffic by purchasing that which they know to be thus unjustly acquired, are really men-stealers.” Macknight. And such are all the nations who legalize or connive at such proceedings. And what shall we say of those who steal children to beg with them, or that they may rob them of their clothes, or for other purposes: or of those who enlist soldiers by lies, tricks, or enticements? Liars, perjured persons Who violate the ninth commandment; and if there be any other thing As there are very many; contrary to sound doctrine Υγιαινουση διδασκαλια , salutary, or healing doctrine. According to the apostle, therefore, the doctrine which condemns and restrains wicked practices, though ridiculed by some as legal and Pharisaic, is, as far as it goes, salutary doctrine. On the other hand, the doctrine which encourages men to sin, or which makes them easy under it, though represented by some as evangelical, and the sweet doctrine of grace, is unwholesome and pernicious. According to the glorious gospel Which, far from making void, does indeed establish the law, and that in the most effectual manner.

Verses 12-14

1 Timothy 1:12-14. And I thank Christ Jesus Here thanksgiving, an important branch of divine worship, is addressed to the Lord Jesus; who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful The meaning is, I thank him for putting me into the ministry, and enabling me to be faithful therein; who was before a blasphemer Of Christ; a persecutor Of his church; and injurious In my behaviour toward it; or rather a reviler, as υβριστην may be properly rendered, namely, of his doctrine and people. But I obtained mercy He does not say, because I was unconditionally elected, but, because I did it ignorantly Because, though I acted in a very rash, savage, and criminal manner, yet I did not therein contradict the sentiments of my own conscience; in unbelief Not knowing nor believing that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah, or that those whom I persecuted were his servants. Not that his ignorance took away his sin, but it left him capable of mercy, which he would hardly have been, had he acted as he did in contradiction to the conviction of his own mind: for had he knowingly opposed what he apprehended to be truth, (especially truth of such unspeakable importance to the glory of God and the salvation of mankind,) out of regard to his secular interest, he would doubtless have been left to perish under a judicial blindness and hardness of heart. It is probable, as Paul was “then a scholar at Gamaliel’s feet, he might not have been present when any of Christ’s miracles were performed, as Christ spent but little time at Jerusalem. The popular cry was strong against him, and the Pharisees and rulers treated him with so much contempt, and were so full of malignity toward him, and so ready to advance the most slanderous reports to the prejudice of his character, that it is the less to be wondered at that this rash, hot youth was borne down by the torrent. Yet we see how far Paul was from thinking all this, and whatever could be added to it, a sufficient excuse. Instead of insinuating, with some, that the miracle wrought for his conversion to Christianity was a reward for his extraordinary integrity and virtue while a Jewish zealot, he speaks of himself as one of the greatest sinners upon earth, and thereby shows, by the way, how much guilt a man may contract without acting directly contrary to the convictions of his mind, if he has neglected an impartial care in forming his principles of action.” Doddridge. And the grace of our Lord Whereby I obtain mercy; was exceeding abundant Υπερεπλεονασε , super-abounded; with faith Opposite to my preceding unbelief; and love Opposite to my blasphemy, persecution, and reviling; which is in Christ Jesus Which, through his mediation and the influence of his Spirit, was implanted in my heart, thereby giving life and comfort to my profession.

Verses 15-16

1 Timothy 1:15-16. This is a faithful saying A saying not only certainly true, but infinitely momentous, as the same expression evidently signifies 1Ti 4:9 ; 2 Timothy 2:11; Titus 3:8; and worthy of all acceptation As infallibly true, it is worthy of all credit, and as infinitely important, worthy of being considered, received, and embraced, with all the powers of our souls; that Christ The Messiah promised; Jesus The Saviour exhibited; came into the world to save sinners All sinners without exception, who are willing to be saved in the way of repentance toward God, and faith in him and his gospel. Of whom I am chief “The apostle did not mean that he was absolutely the greatest of all sinners, but the greatest of those who sinned through ignorance, as is plain from 1 Timothy 1:13. And he spake in this manner concerning himself, to show the deep sense he had of his sin in reviling Christ, and persecuting his disciples, and that he judged charitably of the sins of other men, and of their extenuations.” Howbeit, for this cause Among others which were also important; I obtained mercy, that in me first Or, in me the chief of sinners, as the clause may be rendered; Jesus Christ might show forth all longsuffering Might exhibit an example thereof to the view of the whole world; for a pattern to them For the direction and encouragement of those who should afterward believe on him Even to the remotest ages of time; that is, to teach and encourage them to expect the like mercy upon their believing in him, to the obtaining of eternal life. And it must be acknowledged, that no example could be more proper to encourage the greatest sinners in every age to repent, than the pardon which Christ granted to one who had so furiously persecuted his church.

Verse 17

1 Timothy 1:17. Now unto the King, &c. A consideration of the great mercy which God had shown him, in not only pardoning him when he was involved in such great guilt, but in making him an example for the comfort of future penitents, causes him to break forth in a rapture of praise and thanksgiving; eternal Whose existence had no beginning, and shall have no end; immortal Or incorruptible, as αφθαρτω also signifies; it is however rightly translated immortal, because what is incorruptible is likewise immortal; invisible To mortal eyes. By this epithet the true God is distinguished from all those heathen deities who were the workmanship of men’s hands, or the creatures of God, such as the luminaries of heaven, and from all those deified heroes and other human beings who had once been visible on earth, and were made the objects of worship after their decease. To the only wise God Or, to God only wise; that is, originally, independently, essentially, and infinitely; or, to the wise God alone, (for the reason of which rendering see note on Romans 16:27,) be honour and glory That is, let these excellences be more sensibly manifested, more seriously and frequently acknowledged, and sincerely venerated.

Verses 18-20

1 Timothy 1:18-20. This charge To the Judaizers not to teach differently, or this office of the ministry; I commit unto thee That thou mayest deliver it to the church; according to Or, being encouraged by; the prophecies which went before on thee He refers to some special revelations concerning Timothy, that he should be taken into the ministry, and be eminently useful therein; probably these were uttered when he was first received as an evangelist, (see 1 Timothy 4:14,) and that by many persons, 1 Timothy 6:12. That being assured by them that thy calling is from God, and that his grace and blessing will accompany thee, thou mightest war a good warfare Mightest execute thy office with courage, resolution, and persevering diligence, notwithstanding all opposition and discouragements whatever. Holding fast a true and lively faith In the gospel and its divine Author; and a good conscience That is, walking uprightly before God and man, according to the directions of an enlightened and renewed mind; which Namely, a good conscience; some Απωσαμενοι , having thrust away, or rejected. “It departs unwillingly,” says Bengelius, “it always says; ‘Do not hurt me;’ and they who retain this, do not easily make shipwreck of their faith.” Indeed, none can make shipwreck of faith who never had faith. The persons here spoken of, therefore, were once true believers; yet they fell, not only foully, but finally. For ships once wrecked cannot be afterward saved. “In this metaphorical passage the apostle insinuates that a good conscience is the pilot, who must guide us in our voyage through the stormy sea of this life into the harbour of heaven.” Of whom is Hymeneus and Alexander Two of the corrupt teachers at Ephesus, whom Timothy was left to oppose; whom I have delivered unto Satan See on 1 Corinthians 5:5; that they may learn not to blaspheme That by what they suffer they may be, in some measure, restrained from speaking evil of the truths of God. The apostles delivered obstinate offenders to Satan, not only for their own reformation, but to strike terror on others. If the offender, in consequence of this punishment, was afflicted with some bodily disease, it probably was removed on his repentance, or after a time. And even though it continued, some of the offenders may have been so obstinate in their wicked courses, that they did not amend. This seems to have been the case with the two persons here named; “for notwithstanding the apostle, after his departure, punished them by delivering them to Satan, they persevered in spreading their erroneous doctrines, 2 Timothy 2:17; 2 Timothy 4:14. At what time the apostle delivered these persons to Satan does not appear; but from his informing Timothy of it as a thing he did not know, it may be conjectured that the apostle did it after he left Ephesus, and was come into Macedonia, probably immediately before he wrote this epistle. And as it was done without the knowledge or concurrence of the church at Ephesus, it was not the censure called excommunication, but an exercise of miraculous power, which was peculiar to him as an apostle.” Macknight.

Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 1". Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rbc/1-timothy-1.html. 1857.
Ads FreeProfile