corner graphic   Hi,    
Finding the new version too difficult to understand? Go to

Bible Commentaries

Sermon Bible Commentary
1 Timothy 1



Other Authors
Verse 5

1 Timothy 1:5

I. Taking the declaration of the text in its simplicity, and looking out over the Christian world, we are disposed, simply enough, perhaps, on our part, to say what a pity it is that people do not oftener ask themselves amidst all their conscientious observance of Christianity, and all their lifelong toil to do their duty by it, whereunto it all tends; what is the one general effect which He who ordained Christianity as a great commandment for us intended it to produce? Our text points to the fact that the end of the commandment is love; and it goes deeper than that, it shows us out of what love ought to spring. Now if there be a defect of water down in the stream we may expect to find its fountain yielding but scantily. There it will be that the origin of the mischief must be sought, and there that the remedy must be applied. It may appear that the springs are shallow and want deepening, or are uncared for and have been choked up, or both these faults may exist together. "Now the end of the commandment is love, out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned."

II. These latter clauses may be regarded as a limitation, a conditioning of the love which is the end of the commandment. The stream is not to receive impure accession, nor is it to lose its distinctive character and quality; and this negative meaning of such expressions in Scripture has ever been the more welcome one in the Church. They have not only a negative, but they have also a strong positive and declaratory force full of instruction to us of this day. The pure heart in our text, out of which that charity which is the end of the commandment is to spring, is plainly of this kind, singleness of purpose without admixture of side aims and selfish views; and here is one chief root of the evil among ourselves, that the stream with us does not run pure, our hearts are not set, our lives are not devoted to the simple glorification of God by Christ, but to the furtherance of some certain system of opinions or some defined set of agencies which have gathered round, and, for us, embodied the great central purpose of Christianity.

III. "Faith unfeigned" and a "conscience void of offence" are the real source of charity; and the charity which flows from them is no breaker down of conscientious conviction nor of doctrinal purity, no bringer in of indifferentism. That charity which necessitates compromise is of the world, and not of Christ. We need not surrender our differences; they are engraved into the very texture of our conscious life; the faith has taken hold of our hearts by these means. If we were to surrender them, in many cases not the differing belief would be our lot, but the gulf of fatal unbelief. Nay, let us evermore cherish them, seeing that with them is bound up the consistency of our inner life, the unfeignedness of our faith. Let us remember that not victory over one another, not victory in this world at all, is "the end of the commandment," that every blow struck at a member of Christ is a loss to the Church of Christ—a loss to him that is stricken, but a far greater loss to him who strikes.

H. Alford, Penny Pulpit, New Series, No. 306.

References: 1 Timothy 1:8.—L. D. Bevan, Christian World Pulpit, vol. vi., p. 404. 1 Timothy 1:8-11.—H. W. Beecher, Ibid., vol. xxiii., p. 147. 1 Timothy 1:8-17.—Expositor, 1st series, vol. ii., p. 131.

Verse 9

1 Timothy 1:9

The Law our Schoolmaster.

There are some points in which we feel practically that we are not under the law, but dead to it; that the law is not made for us; but do we think, therefore, that we may surrender, rob and burn, or do we not feel that such a notion would be little short of madness? We are not under the law, because we do not need it. And just of this kind is that general freedom from the law of which St. Paul speaks, as the high privilege of true Christians.

I. There is no doubt that the Gospel wishes to consider us as generally dead to the law, in order that we may really become so continually more and more. It supposes that the Spirit of God, presenting to our minds the sight of God's love in Christ, sets us free from the law of sin and death; that is, that a sense of thankfulness to God, and love of God and of Christ, will be so strong a motive that we shall, generally speaking, need no other, that it will so work upon us as to make us feel good, easy, and delightful, and thus to become dead to the law. And there is no doubt, also, that that same freedom from the law, which we ourselves experience daily in respect of some particular great crimes, that very freedom is felt by good men in many other points, where it may be that we ourselves do not feel it. A common instance may be given with respect to prayer and the outward worship of God. There are a great many who feel this as a duty; but there are many also to whom it is not so much a duty as a privilege and a pleasure; and these are dead to the law which commands us to be instant in prayer, just as we, in general, are dead to the law which commands us to do no murder.

II. But observe that St. Paul does not suppose the best Christian to be without the law altogether; there will ever be some points in which he will need to remember it. And so it is unkindness, rather than kindness, and a very mischievous mistake, to forget that here, in this our preparatory life, the law cannot cease altogether with any one; that it is not possible to find a perfect sense and feeling of right existing in every action; nay, that it is even unreasonable to seem to expect it. Punishment will exist eternally so long as there is evil, and the only way of remaining for ever entirely strangers to it is by adhering for ever and entirely to good.

T. Arnold, Sermons, vol. iv., p. 69.

Verse 11

1 Timothy 1:11

We have here—

I. A recommendation of the Gospel; and this we see lies in two things, in its having such an Author; it is "the Gospel of the blessed God"; and, secondly, in its being in itself of such a nature or character; it is "the glorious Gospel." Here are two points that lie much across the line of our present thinking, which tends to make little of God, and to put the universe in the place of God, and also to make little of the Gospel, and see in it no glory. But as Christians we are bound to resist these tendencies, and to exalt the Gospel as having such an Author, and also as being what it is in its own nature. The Gospel is glorious (1) in its doctrines, (2) in its morals, (3) in its ordinances.

II. Consider our duty towards the Gospel. It was, says Paul, committed to my trust. He was a steward, and a good steward of the manifold grace of God. How manifold has that grace been in, and with him. He is still, after eighteen hundred years, a front actor in the scene of human things. His words are carried, by those who will themselves be immortal, into the darkest places of the world's sin and misery. How shall we who are Christians meet this duty of stewardship? There is (1).the duty of preservation. Is he a steward who suffers the property to be wasted and dilapidated, with which he is entrusted? Let us remember Paul's own words here, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith." (2) The duty of transmission. We are to do what we can to bring more truth out of God's word; but we shall never succeed if we break our succession with the past, and do not hand on its treasures to the future. (3) The duty of diffusion.

J. Cairns, Christ the Morning Star, p. 352.

I. The Gospel declares itself to be God's greatest answer to man's greatest want. The Gospel does not profess to be one answer among many. It claims to be the one answer which God makes to the problem of sin, and the agony of sorrow. The Gospel does not speak with hesitating, diffident tone. It does not put itself in an excusatory attitude. It does not ask to be heard on sufferance, and to be judged by some modified law of criticism. It stands clear out in the daylight. It says, in personal language, "If any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink." So far it establishes some claim on our attention, if not upon our confidence, by its very boldness, by the heroic sentiment that is in it. It is one of two things. The issue is an issue sharply defined. Either the Gospel is the most gigantic and self-convicting imposition, or it merits the epithet "glorious," as describing its scope, and its Divine meaning. The Gospel of the blessed God claims to be as necessary to redemption, and sanctification, and glorification of the soul as the sun, the air, the dew, the earth claim to be necessary to the growth of your food, and to the maintenance of your physical system.

II. Being God's greatest answer to man's greatest want, the Gospel must supply that which is most needful to man. Let us suppose that it is admitted that man is a sinner. The thing most acceptable to man under such circumstances is pardon. This is precisely what the Gospel proposes to give to all who accept it. Through this Man, Christ Jesus, is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins. He who sees and feels the darkness of guilt will best comprehend, and most truly appreciate the lustre and dazzling effulgence of God's great offer of redemption. Pardon is not enough. When God pardons, there is another step involved, and another element enters into consideration. Man becomes not only pardoned—he becomes also holy. When a man sees the possibility of holiness, when he sees through Christ what men may become, then he tramples under foot all theories, all morals, all human suggestions and desires, and fixing his eye upon Christ and His truth, he says, There, and there only, have I found the glorious Gospel.

Parker, City Temple, 1871, p. 85.

References: 1 Timothy 1:11.—A. Maclaren, Christ in the Heart, p. 271; H. P. Liddon, Advent Sermons, vol. i., p. 126; Homilist, 2nd series, vol. i., p. 47; A. Maclaren, Christian World Pulpit, vol. viii., p. 376; Ibid., vol. xxxiii., p. 342; Preacher's Monthly, vol. x., p. 101.

Verse 12-13

1 Timothy 1:12-13

In the text we have—

I. A humiliating and painful recollection. Men should diligently study the true uses of the past. The past is rightly used—(1) when it deepens our sense of personal guilt; (2) when it illustrates the greatness of Divine mercy; (3) when it inspires with courage in regard to the future.

II. A humiliating and painful recollection relieved by the highest consideration. "I obtained mercy." The fact that sin must be met by the mercy of God shows (1) that sin deserves punishment, (2) that escape from such punishment can only be secured by the sovereign mercy of God, (3) that there must be a personal realisation of the Divine mercy.

III. A humiliating and painful experience succeeded by a holy and sublime vocation. The fact that Jesus Christ employs converted sinners in the ministry of His Gospel serves three important purposes—(1) It puts the minister into moral sympathy with his hearers; (2) it exemplifies the power of the Gospel to do what it proposes; (3) it stimulates the study of Divine things. Application: (1) This text appeals to the worst of men—blasphemers, persecutors, injurious; (2) explains the vehemence and urgency of an earnest ministry; (3) exalts and illustrates the infinite mercy of Jesus Christ.

Parker, City Temple, vol. i., p. 58.

Verse 13

1 Timothy 1:13

I. Christianity is not a mere magical charm, nor a universal quack medicine: it is a Divine method and plan of salvation. There are different things to be saved from, and by different methods Christ saves us; and coming to Him and learning meekness is humbly submitting to His way. His forgiveness is as sure as the throne of God, and if you have no peace, it is because you do not believe in Christ, and in His saving revelation; and until you simply accept in fullest faith Christ's revelation, and a Heavenly Father forgiving impiety, transgression, and sin, you cannot have peace. It quite depends upon yourself; there is no change necessary in God, and it is written, "Even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you." He hath forgiven thee, thou penitent sinner, but if thou wilt not believe it, then the clouds will remain. But remember the clouds are not of the heaven, they are of the earth.

II. Now it is quite certain that the work of complete salvation from any firmly founded habit must be long and wearisome; and one reason why there is so little moral salvation is, that while men spend months or years in learning an art, or a language, they expect by a prayer or two once a week to become new creatures in Christ Jesus. In some cases, you must go on trying, and watching, and praying, until you do. But, you say, this is desperately hard work; it is giving up one's life to it. But this is just what Christ says; this is just His method of salvation. "He that findeth his life shall lose it, and he that loseth his life for My sake, the same shall find it." If you want a ticket to get into heaven when you can sin no more on earth, I do not know where it is to be had; but if you would be saved from sin, you must work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

W. Page Roberts, Reasonable Service, p. 104.

Verse 15

1 Timothy 1:15

Your Own Salvation.

I. What was the particular sin from which St. Paul had to be saved, the salvation from which made him a new creature in Christ Jesus, that old things passed away, and all things became new? It was not a sin of morals, in the general sense of the word; it was a sin of ignorance, by which he was led into deeds of cruelty and wrong. The Christians, so it seemed to his blinded eyes, were against God and Fatherland, and anyhow they must be put down. They were unbelievers, and infidels, and destructives, and all power must be kept from them, and they must be crushed down, even if it did look cruel; the honour of God, and the welfare of their country required it. Better that a few should be imprisoned or stoned, that the whole nation perish not; and so, like many another persecutor of old and modern times, with prayer to God, and virtuous living, he went to root out the false doctrines and the false preachers.

II. St. Paul was saved by Christ from a false and mistaken view. His old ardent and upright character remained the same, but it had a new direction, a new intention, a new Lord and Master. He meant well as he rode along that noonday with Damascus in view. He was a pillar of orthodoxy, and zealous for the faith; he was, so it seemed to him, doing a service for God and religion, when suddenly the piercing words which rent his soul were heard. He saw his errors, all his terrible blunder with its sin; it pleased God to make a change in his thoughts and perceptions; it pleased God to reveal His Son within him; and not from his old virtuous and God-fearing life, but from his false views and misleading ignorance did the Heavenly Father save him.

W. Page Roberts, Reasonable Service, p. 91.

References: 1 Timothy 1:15.—J. H. Wilson, The Gospel and its Fruits, p. 23; A. W. Hare, The Alton Sermons, p. 124; Christian World Pulpit, vol. xvii., p. 284; Homiletic Magazine, vol. xv., p. 236; E. Cooper, Practical Sermons, vol i., p. 111; H. P. Liddon, Advent Sermons, vol. i., p. 317; Homilist, 2nd series, vol. ii., p. 419; Good Words, vol. vi., p. 47. 1 Timothy 1:15-17.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxi., No. 1837; J. Baldwin Brown, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxii., pp. 305, 340; Ibid., vol. xxxi., p. 65; Preacher's Monthly, vol. i., p. 357. 1 Timothy 1:16.—R. Roberts, My Later Ministry, p. 213; H. W. Beecher, Sermons, 1870, p. 476; E. White, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxxiv., p. 136; E. Cooper, Practical Sermons, vol. ii., p. 158; T. J. Crawford, The Preaching of the Cross, p. 236; Homilist, 2nd series, vol. ii., p. 203; Ibid., 3rd series, vol. vi., p. 168. 1 Timothy 1:17.—L. D. Bevan, Christian World Pulpit, vol. vi., p. 404; A. Dunning, Ibid., vol. xxix., p. 218; Bishop Westcott, The Historic Faith, p. 215.

Verse 18

1 Timothy 1:18

There are some respects in which the idea of warfare applies to the life of all, and there are other respects in which we are called to make our life a warfare of our own free and deliberate choice.

I. Take, for example, the period of infancy and childhood, and here we have emphatically the battle (1) of weakness. Later comes (2) the battle of ignorance, (3) the battle of passion, (4) the battle of necessity and the battle of society conjoined. We observe (a) that the struggle is not equally intense and painful in us all, and (b) that it is not all struggle with any. No human spirit could bear a perpetual strain, no human heart could support a perpetual pressure.

II. Scripture commands us to make our life a warfare of our own free and deliberate choice. Notice the manner in which this spiritual warfare is to be carried on. (1) The first thing to be done is to put ourselves in alliance with Christ. It cannot be accomplished in any other way. The battle must begin at the cross, and the warfare must be carried on, from beginning to end, under the covert of atoning blood. (2) It must be maintained in a spirit of prayer, for it is this that preserves our reliance on God, and makes us strong in the strength which is in Christ Jesus. It is such a conflict as requires a better strength than our own, and if this were all we had to depend on it would be useless making the attempt. (3) The struggle must be maintained honestly. That is to say, we must direct our attention to the resistance of all evil, and to the positive cultivation of all good. (3) We must maintain the warfare cheerfully, not as a dire necessity, but as that which is evidently proper and right, that in which our reason and heart were fully engaged, as that which is daily bringing us nearer to God, and making us more and more meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.

A. L. Simpson, The Upward Path, p. 57.

Verse 18-19

1 Timothy 1:18-19

Not the least interesting feature of St. Paul's first epistle to Timothy is the Apostle's solicitude, here and there incidentally manifesting itself, for his youthful disciple's own steadfastness in the midst of the dangers from which he is set to guard others. It is the natural language of a father, who, with the highest opinion of his son's character, still cannot but remember his youth and inexperience. This is no slight confirmation of the authenticity of the writing. The office committed to Timothy is described as a warfare, and if we would prove ourselves true men, and carry on the warfare successfully, we must keep, hold fast, maintain, these two requisites—faith and a good conscience. They were required at our first enlistment for that warfare, being, in fact, equivalent to the profession and engagements made at our baptism, and they will be required till the end.

I. Faith is to things beyond the reach of sense what our senses are to things within its reach. It is the soul's eye, by which we can see what with the bodily eye we cannot see; the soul's ear, by which we hear what with the bodily ear we cannot hear; the soul's hand, by which we handle what with the bodily hand we cannot handle. Faith has to do with this conflict (1) because it recognises it as a reality, (2) because it serves to obtain both strength and succour for us from God, (3) because it supplies us with motives for endurance, (4) it supplies the hope of success. For it gives us confidence in our Leader, and assures us of victory, provided only we be true to Him, who has chosen us to be His soldiers. The battle is not ours, but God's.

II. But, besides faith, St. Paul mentions another requisite for carrying on the warfare to which we are called—a good conscience. By a good conscience is meant the testimony of our consciences that we are loyal and true to our Leader, that we are, in will and intention at least, obedient to His commands, however, in spite of our better selves, we may, too often, fall short of them.

III. "Which some," says the Apostle, "having put away, concerning faith, have made shipwreck." The point now is not merely the necessity of a good conscience in order to our warring the Christian warfare, but the necessity of a good conscience in order to the preservation of faith. The persons whom he had in view had either given up the belief of Christianity as a whole—had become apostates, or, like those whom he particularises, had fallen into heresy, and had perverted or abandoned one or more of its cardinal truths. That they had done so he ascribes to their having put away a good conscience. The putting away of a good conscience, by whatever act or course of action, grieves the Holy Spirit, who, as He is the Author of faith in the first instance, so He is the Preserver and Conservator of it thenceforward. And, together with the departure of the Spirit, there departs the frame of mind which is most congenial whether to the reception or the rejection of the truth. Note (1) that it is important our conscience should be rightly instructed. A watch only misleads if it be not duly regulated. We are responsible for our consciences, as well as for the conduct dictated by these consciences. If the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness. (2) If we would maintain a good conscience, we must beware of deliberate, wilful transgression, whether by doing what ought not to be done, or by leaving undone what ought to be done. With either one or the other a good conscience is utterly incompatible. Be thoroughly persuaded that to do and suffer God's will is your truest interest.

C. Heurtley, Oxford and Cambridge Journal, Jan. 27th, 1881.

References: 1 Timothy 1:18—ii. 8.—Expositor, 1st series, vol. ii., p. 209; Homiletic Quarterly, vol. iv., p. 550.

Verse 19

1 Timothy 1:19

Shipwreck of Faith.

I. Observe, there are two things which St. Paul tells Timothy, he must hold fast, "faith" and "a good conscience." By faith he means the articles of Christian doctrine, especially belief in the Lord Jesus Christ; and by a good conscience I suppose him to mean purity of life; so that to hold faith and a good conscience, to be steady in maintaining the faith once delivered to the saints from all errors and encroachments, and to adorn the doctrine by a life of piety and Christian love, may be said to be the course marked out for Timothy by his teacher, St. Paul, as the course worthy of a Christian bishop. So far all is clear. Now comes the difficulty—"Which some, having put away concerning faith, have made shipwreck." The word which applies only to the good conscience, "some, having put away a good conscience, have made shipwreck concerning faith."

II. You have a Christian faith to hold and a Christian life to lead; do not look at them one apart from the other; your faith is the support of your life, but also your faith will dwindle and decay if you try to let it stand alone; some have tried the experiment of divorcing these from one another, they have pretended to hold the faith, but they have been careless concerning a pure conscience, and a terrible experiment it has proved: their faith has perished, they have been shipwrecked and ruined. The kind of shipwreck of faith which I should fear is the loss of faith in Christ as a living and active principle, the loss of the distinct feeling of love to Christ, the loss of that feeling of allegiance to Him as our personal living Lord and Master, which is of the very essence of Christian faith. The grand secret of Christian life and health is to hold together those things which God has joined, to hold faith and a good conscience, and to remember that carelessness about the one may probably lead to shipwreck concerning the other.

Harvey Goodwin, Parish Sermons, vol. ill., p. 289.

References: 1 Timothy 1:19.—J. Thain Davidson, The City Youth, p. 53; R. C. Trench, Shipwrecks of Faith, p. 3; A. Davies, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xiii., p. 245. 1 Timothy 2:1-2,—H. W. Beecher, Ibid., vol. iii., p. 156; W. M. Statham, Ibid., p. 217; Ibid., vol. iv., p. 332. 1 Timothy 2:3.—F. W. Farrar, Ibid., vol. xv., p. 145. 1 Timothy 2:3, 1 Timothy 2:4.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxvi., No. 1516. 1 Timothy 2:3-5.—E. White, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxxiv., p. 145. 1 Timothy 2:4.—J. Vaughan, Fifty Sermons, 9th series, p. 205.


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 1:4". "Sermon Bible Commentary".

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, March 30th, 2020
the Fifth Week of Lent
There are 13 days til Easter!
Commentary Navigator
Search This Commentary
Enter query in the box below
To report dead links, typos, or html errors or suggestions about making these resources more useful use our convenient contact form
Powered by Lightspeed Technology