1: Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus according to the commandment of God our Savior, and of Christ Jesus, who is our hope,
- This is a typical Pauline greeting, where he gives his name and credentials. I think he has actually been shorter than normal, and that to me indicates familiarity with the audience, Timothy.
- Interestingly, Paul has used the name of God as God our Saviour. He must be talking about God the Father here, because he places Christ Jesus as a separate entity. In any case, he mentions both in the same breath, giving them equality.
- Also, Paul is unique in his use of Christ Jesus, because that is who He is to Paul. Think of how the other apostles met Jesus. They got to know Him as Jesus first, and then understood that He was the Messiah, the Christ. Paul, on the other hand, was interrupted on the road to Damascus by the Messiah, Jesus after His resurrection and ascension. This is indicative of how Paul was introduced to Jesus,
- Who is our hope [elpis, expectation]. Christ is our anticipated expectation. This is one of the big three of faith, hope and love! Pistis, Elpis, Agape.
2: To Timothy, my true child in the faith: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
- Timothy – his very name means “One who honours God.” Was it his original name? I think yes, because his parental lineage is mostly known, by name.
- Paul calls him his true, or genuine child in the faith. Some commentators have Timothy standing in the crowd with his mother Eunice and grandmother Lois in Lystra when Paul was speaking. If true, Timothy would have seen the power of God in action as Paul healed the man who was lame from birth, a sign of Paul’s apostolic authority. Timothy would have been one of those who believed and became involved there.
- Those same commentators also postulate that Timothy’s father was deceased, and that may have explained the father-son dynamic between he and Paul. I don’t know if that’s true, and the Scriptures don’t actually say, but for some reason, Timothy became associated with Paul after his conversion. It is a decent theory that says he came to Christ because of Paul’s preaching though.
- What does he wish for Timothy in the greeting? More than his typical greeting – in addition to grace [charis] and peace [eirene or shalom], Paul adds mercy [eleos, pity, compassion]. Is this significant? I’ll leave that for you to decide. I think at a minimum it shows Paul’s compassion for Timothy.
- The source of this grace, mercy, and peace is God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. Paul is again for the second time in as many verses, separating them into two individuals, who are of equal status. So much for a unitarian view. This has been done in every letter we have studied thus far. It is Paul’s way of saying Jesus is God like His Father.
3: As I urged you upon my departure for Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus so that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines,
- Paul wastes no time jumping right into the reason for his letter. He is urging [parakaleo, to call to or for, to exhort or encourage] Timothy to remain at Ephesus for a reason I’ll get to in a moment. One of the things that we can logically surmise from Paul’s call to stay in Ephesus is that Timothy may have been looking around for an opportunity to leave Ephesus. Why?
- Well, Timothy may have had a very difficult job in Ephesus – to stop certain men from teaching “strange doctrines,” one of the ways that Paul refers to error. There are reasons for this difficulty of task, some of which Paul will deal with in the text, and so will we.
4: nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation rather than furthering the administration of God which is by faith.
- Paul is beginning to detail some of the specific error here. We don’t know all the details of the myths that are involved, but the genealogies was something kind of specific, though I don’t claim to understand it. The effect though, is important – such pursuits led to more questions than answers, to which the administration [or provision] of God is held up for contrast. This comes by faith, remember, that firmly held persuasion or opinion concerning the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ; something that provokes needless questions serves to weaken that persuasion, in fact.
5: But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.
- Instead of teaching fake made up stuff (myths) or endless (and I think pointless) genealogies, ministers of the Gospel should be preaching the truth, and that truthful instruction will result in love from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith, just as Paul says here.
6: For some men, straying from these things, have turned aside to fruitless discussion,
- And this seems to be our choice. If we will not maintain love from a pure heart, a good conscience and a sincere faith, we won’t have to turn aside to fruitless discussions. That “turned aside” phrase means “swerved away,” so it’s not just a gradual thing.
- What would be the motive of such individuals in turning aside? Paul indicates that they want something.
7: wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions.
- Such men wanted to be “teachers of the law.” Does that mean that there was a Jewish component to the heresy? Genealogies could also be a part of that, as could be the myths of verse 4. Paul doesn’t use the term “Judaizers” like he does in Galatians, but he references the law here. It is possible that they were making up their own thing as well, but that they were reinterpreting the Old Testament Law to suit their purposes.
- Apparently these men did not understand the law. Paul here says they “do not understand what they are saying.” They don’t know what they’re talking about.
- They were also very confident, making strong statements and assertions. They didn’t understand that either. Anyone here ever hear the name Benny Hinn? Yes, the “Good Morning, Holy Spirit” guy that claims that he heals. He doesn’t. But he’s very confident about it. And in case you think I don’t, my source for that information is his nephew Costi Hinn, who was involved with his wife for many years, before the Lord gloriously saved Costi and his wife. Costi is now a Reformed Baptist Minister, by the way. His family doesn’t want him around because he’s always trying to preach the gospel from what I understand. He explained that his uncle Benny is just basically a confidence man, making confident assertions. And people buy into it because he speaks confidently, as if he has some kind of authority. But Benny doesn’t understand. I guess he would be a modern day example of this. And Costi, if you’re listening or reading, thank you for your transparency here. Love you, brother.
8: But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully,
- It’s almost like Paul is playing word games, right? The Law is good when used lawfully. Really? Ya think? The Amalekites burned Ziklag with fire…what else would he have burned it with? Water? Okay, before you say “acid,” that’s acid rain and that’s something God would have to have done…
- In all seriousness, a preacher and teacher has to understand the right purpose of the Old Testament law. It wasn’t to be reinterpreted ad infinitum and bent to make it say whatever you wanted.
9: realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers
- It seems that the law was being used to justify things, much like circumcision was used in the churches of Galatia. But it isn’t meant for that. Scripture tells us in numerous places in the New Testament that the Law is to show sinfulness for what it really is and that man alone is completely incapable of keeping the law. It shows the standard to sinners, who if they are being honest, have to conclude that they are not able to measure up. They have “missed the mark.” [hamartia]
10: and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching,
- Paul lists the things in the law that show where humans do not measure up. It’s actually pretty specific in both Greek and English. “Immoral men” is pornos, which as we know from our previous studies can also be translated as fornicators. These are people that have sex outside of the bonds of marriage. The word “homosexuals” is the Greek word arsenokoites, and literally means those who commit sodomy. If you need an explanation of that, check out Gen 19. It was named after the city in which it was first committed. Kidnappers here means slave traders. It isn’t a stretch to include sex trafficking, that’s been going on for a VERY long time. Perjury is giving false testimony to authorities, and that’s a criminal code charge here in Canada. Now that short list is NOT all-inclusive. Paul’s next statement is – whatever else is contrary to sound teaching. I could elaborate on a lot of things here, but I would rather move along for the sake of time.
11: according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted.
- Paul is talking about that sound teaching – that is contained in that glorious Gospel, with which all pastors, indeed all believers, have been entrusted. That Gospel is best expressed in Galatians 1:4 – “[Jesus] gave Himself for our sins that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father. That’s what we have been entrusted with.
12: I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service,
- Here, Paul begins to give thanks. He thanks the Lord Christ for strengthening [endumanoo, making strong] him, because He considered Paul faithful [pistos, reliable or filled with a firm opinion or persuasion] enough to put into service [diakonia, we get our word deacon from it]. He’s actually on a line of thought here, and it will become clear in the next verse or two.
13: even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief;
- This is a miraculous thing for us all because we are all in the same boat as Paul. Except Paul wasn’t just a blasphemer, one who used the name of God in a wrong fashion. By the way, in my opinion, that less about vocabulary and more about conduct. We all can be hypocrites on occasion.
- Paul was a persecutor. You see, before Paul was Paul, he was Saul, and Saul grew up in the Jewish culture, becoming a Pharisee as an expression of his belief in God. And when these Way of Jesus individuals came along, he sincerely believed that these people were heretics, and their wrong beliefs and practices would bring down Rome on the head of the nation of Israel. In Paul’s opinion, these people had to be stopped at any cost. In fact when we first find Saul in the book of Acts, he’s watching the coats of the people who were stoning Stephen, the first martyr of the church, and it tells us that he agreed with what was going on.
- Paul was so convinced of his own opinion, a common one that he would ironically run up against repeatedly later in other places, he became a violent aggressor. Saul would have participated in the capture, torture, and murder of followers of Jesus. In fact, when the Lord Jesus finally stopped him on the road to Damascus, Saul had arrest warrants for followers of Jesus in that place, and had the authority of the High Priest himself to carry out his aggressive activities. And then he met the Messiah face to face. And Saul came to a full stop.
- Paul tells us here that he performed all of his blasphemy, all of his persecutions, and all of his violent and aggressive actions against the followers of Messiah Jesus because he didn’t know any better, just like his compatriots of the day didn’t either. And the service that Saul, who became Paul, was put to? He became the Apostle to the Gentiles, and the writer of a good portion of our Christian Bible.
14: and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus.
- And when Saul was blind and broken in Damascus, the Lord sent another servant of His named Ananias to share the gospel with him and heal his sight, and the scales dropped from his eyes. Paul became a fervent servant of Christ from that point on, often running into trouble with the very people he once blasphemously led in persecution and violence of action.
- And yet, he found much grace – much more than he had ever known before – and grew in faith and love toward Christ and toward his former associates and his new brothers and sisters in Christ.
15: It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.
- Paul here even quotes something that everyone is familiar with – a known statement, one deserving full acceptance – that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, and Paul knew he was a big one. I know that same grace. If you don’t, I would be happy to explain it after the study or by email, so listen for my email address at the end of the meeting if you’re out there on the internet and want to know.
16: Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life.
- You see, Paul understood something. He understood that God wanted to display mercy to the foremost of all sinners to show that no matter how bad your sin is, that God can save you because of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. I personally find it a comfort that it doesn’t matter how big of a sinner I was, God in His mercy extended His grace to me, saving me, just like He saved Paul. Repent of those things you’ve done wrong! God knows about them anyway, you’re not fooling anyone but yourself. If you see that you have sinned, then believe that Jesus paid the price for those sins when He died on the cross. The result will be that you too will find the same grace and peace that Paul found, that I’ve found, and that many I know have found as well – and it leads to eternal life.
17: Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
- Amen, brother Paul, amen.
18: This command I entrust to you, Timothy, my son, in accordance with the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you fight the good fight,
- From this point, Paul signifies that he is ready to get down to business with Timothy. The first thing here is that Timothy is being entrusted with a command [paraggellia, a transmitted order or command]. We looked at that word just last week, right?
- He calls Timothy his son, but the Greek here is not the huios of maturity, but teknon, the child that is begotten or created. This fellow Timothy was probably about 35 or so at the time of this letter’s writing, and he had some associated prophecies about him that were appointing him to ministry among other things.
- Paul charges him in light of those prophecies that he “fight the good fight.” The word fight isn’t like a fist fight or a little kiddie slap fight. The Greek is strateuomai, and it means TO MAKE WAR. We talked about this in other previous studies, particularly when we looked at Ephesians 6, where Paul talks about the armour and weaponry we have been given. This should remind us that the Christian life is NOT a HOLIDAY, though God gives us those from time to time. We should think of ourselves as soldiers in the army of Christ. Our mindset should have all the discipline of military service, though our weapons are not for making war on people. Fight the good fight. Make WAR.
19: keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith.
- Paul tells us the secret of making war as a Christian – keep faith [i.e., hold onto our firm opinion or persuasion about Christ and how He paid the price to redeem us and purchase us for Himself], and a good conscience. You know, our conscience is what is left over in us from the fall in Genesis. In the unbeliever, it is dead and defiled, but the Christian has had his or her spirit made alive and joined with Christ’s Spirit (the Holy Spirit, God Himself). While I would not ever say our conscience should be our guide – that’s like that stupidity saying of “follow your heart” – you know the thing that Jeremiah tells us is deceitful and desperately wicked – we should not do things that violate our conscience. There is a difference between that and following your conscience. What we should follow is the Word of God as the Spirit speaks to our hearts by that Word. But we need to keep a good, or clear, conscience. Why?
- Because if we reject our conscience, which by the way is a deliberate and conscious act, we can shipwreck our faith. Paul even had a couple of examples come to mind.
20: Among these are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan, so that they will be taught not to blaspheme.
- Paul is talking about church discipline here. 1 Corinthians 5 talks about how the man was disciplined that had a sexual relationship with his stepmother. Verse 5 talks about how the man was “delivered to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” What this means is that such an individual must be put out of the church. This discipline here is meant to teach, in this case not to misuse the name of the Lord, and in Corinth, not to have sexual relations outside of the proper context. The situation didn’t have to be permanent, either. In Corinth, it wasn’t, because the Holy Spirit had a chance to convince and convict that man of his sin and he repented and was restored to fellowship, as we read in 2 Corinthians. In the middle ages, it was called excommunication, and it was thought to remove the salvation of the individual, but that isn’t possible, because no one can snatch us from his hand, as he says in John.
- Church discipline has to do with letting the weight of a person’s sin actually sink in and work repentance by letting them feel the shame and isolation that comes from sin. It is here that the Holy Spirit can work to cause repentance that leads to reconciliation.
And that’s the first chapter!