1 Timothy 1
The two letters to Timothy and the one to Titus are called "Pastoral Letters" because they contain instructions for pastoral ministry in the church. Timothy was the son of a Greek Gentile father and a devout Jewish mother, named Eunice. He was closely associated with Paul from the time of the second missionary journey, on (2 Timothy 1:5; Acts 16:1-3). Paul was on his way to Nicopolis (Titus 3:12) from Macedonia when he wrote to Timothy. Timothy had been left in charge of the ministry in Ephesus and Asia Minor.
Timothy, First Epistle To:
Paul in this epistle speaks of himself as having left Ephesus for Macedonia (1Ti 1:3), and hence not Laodicea, as mentioned in the subscription; but probably Philippi, or some other city in that region, was the place where this epistle was written. During the interval between his first and second imprisonments he probably visited the scenes of his former labours in Greece and Asia, and then found his way into Macedonia, whence he wrote this letter to Timothy, whom he had left behind in Ephesus.
It was probably written about A.D. 66 or 67.
The epistle consists mainly, (1) of counsels to Timothy regarding the worship and organization of the Church, and the responsibilities resting on its several members; and (2) of exhortation to faithfulness in maintaining the truth amid surrounding errors.
Easton’s Bible Dictionary,
The First and Second Epistles to Timothy, and the Epistle to Titus form a distinct group among the letters written by Paul, and are now known as the Pastoral Epistles because they were addressed to two Christian ministers. When Timothy and Titus received these epistles they were not acting, as they had previously done, as missionaries or itinerant evangelists, but had been left by Paul in charge of churches; the former having the oversight of the church in Ephesus, and the latter having the care of the churches in the island of Crete. The Pastoral Epistles were written to guide them in the discharge of the duties devolving upon them as Christian pastors. Such is a general description of these epistles. In each of them, however, there is a great deal more than is covered or implied by the designation, "Pastoral"-much that is personal, and much also that is concerned with Christian faith and doctrine and practice generally…
- Date of the Epistles:
In regard to the date of these epistles, external and internal evidence alike go to show that they belong to practically the same period. The dates of their composition are separated from each other by not more than three or four years; and the dates of each and all of them must be close to the Neronic persecution (64 AD). If Paul was executed 67 AD (see Ramsay, Paul, 396), there is only a short interval of time between his release in 61 or 62, and his death in 67, that is a period of some 5 or 6 years, during which his later travels took place, and when the Pastoral Epistles were written. "Between the three letters there is an affinity of language, a similarity of thought, and a likeness of errors combated, which prevents our referring any of them to a period much earlier than the others" (Zahn, Introduction, II, 37).
- Their Order:
The order in which they were written must have been 1 Timothy, Titus, 2 Timothy. It is universally acknowledged that 2 Timothy is the very last of Paul's extant epistles, and the internal evidence of the other two seems to point out 1 Timothy as earlier than Titus.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia,
1 Timothy 1:1-2-Paul’s Greeting to Timothy
1 Timothy 1:2-Paul addresses Timothy very fondly as "my true child in the faith". Paul addressed Timothy in this manner because he had been like a spiritual father to him (1:18; 2 Timothy 1:2-4)…disciplining him in the faith and training him for ministry (:6).
The name Timothy literally means…
honouring God, was a young disciple who was Paul's companion in many of his journeyings. His mother, Eunice, and his grandmother, Lois, are mentioned as eminent for their piety (2Ti 1:5). We know nothing of his father but that he was a Greek (Act 16:1). He is first brought into notice at the time of Paul's second visit to Lystra (16:2), where he probably resided, and where it seems he was converted during Paul's first visit to that place (1Ti 1:2; 2Ti 3:11). The apostle having formed a high opinion of his "own son in the faith," arranged that he should become his companion (Act 16:3), and took and circumcised him, so that he might conciliate the Jews. He was designated to the office of an evangelist (1Ti 4:14), and went with Paul in his journey through Phrygia, Galatia, and Mysia; also to Troas and Philippi and Berea (Act 17:14). Thence he followed Paul to Athens, and was sent by him with Silas on a mission to Thessalonica (17:15; 1Th 3:2). We next find him at Corinth (1Th 1:1; 2Th 1:1) with Paul. He passes now out of sight for a few years, and is again noticed as with the apostle at Ephesus (Act 19:22), whence he is sent on a mission into Macedonia. He accompanied Paul afterwards into Asia (20:4), where he was with him for some time. When the apostle was a prisoner at Rome, Timothy joined him (Phl 1:1), where it appears he also suffered imprisonment (Hbr 13:23). During the apostle's second imprisonment he wrote to Timothy, asking him to rejoin him as soon as possible, and to bring with him certain things which he had left at Troas, his cloak and parchments (2Ti 4:13). According to tradition, after the apostle's death he settled in Ephesus as his sphere of labour, and there found a martyr's grave.
Easton’s Bible Dictionary,
For additional information on Timothy (his life and ministry) see:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia,
1 Timothy 1:3-20-Paul’s Personal Instructions for Timothy
1 Timothy 1:3-11-Paul’s Warning Against False Teachers
1 Timothy 1:3-4-Paul speaks of his “departure for Macedonia”. This trip probably occurred after the close of the book of Acts.
The probable order of significant events is: (1) Paul was released from his house arrest in Rome (where we find him at the end of Acts), probably because his accusers did not choose to press their charges against him before Caesar (Acts 24:1; 28:30). Their case, therefore, was lost by default, and Paul was freed. (2) Paul visited Ephesus, left Timothy there to supervise the churches, and went on to Macedonia (northern Greece). (3) From there he wrote 1 Timothy (1 Tim. 1:3). (4) He visited Crete, left Titus there to supervise those churches, and went to Nicopolis in Achaia (southern Greece, Tit. 3:12). (5) Either from Macedonia or Nicopolis, he wrote this letter to encourage Titus. (6) He visited Troas (2 Tim. 4:13), where he was suddenly arrested, taken to Rome, imprisoned, and finally beheaded. (7) From Rome, during this second imprisonment, he wrote 2 Timothy.
Ryrie Study Bible, Introduction to the Letter of Paul to Titus, p. 1830
Paul tells Timothy to stay at Ephesus and instruct “certain men” to not teach "strange doctrines"...meaning doctrine that was different and not in keeping with what he had been previously taught. The Greek word that is translated “teach strange doctrines” is a single, but compound word…derived from two words. The first part of the Greek word, “heteros”, means “another”…but, it specifically means “another of a different kind”.
Allos and heteros have a difference in meaning, which despite a tendency to be lost, is to be observed in numerous passages. Allos expresses a numerical difference and denotes "another of the same sort;" heteros expresses a qualitative difference and denotes "another of a different sort." Christ promised to send "another Comforter" (allos, "another like Himself," not heteros), Jhn 14:16. Paul says "I see a different (AV, "another") law," heteros, a law different from that of the spirit of life (not allos, "a law of the same sort"), Rom 7:23. After Joseph's death "another king arose," heteros, one of quite a different character, Act 7:18. Paul speaks of "a different gospel (heteros), which is not another" (allos, another like the one he preached), Gal 1:6, 7. See heteros (not allos) in Mat 11:3; Act 27:1; in Luk 23:32 heteroi is used of the two malefactors crucified with Christ. The two words are only apparently interchanged in 1Cr 1:16; 6:1; 12:8-10; 14:17, 19, e.g., the difference being present, though not so readily discernible.
They are not interchangeable in 1Cr 15:39-41; here heteros is used to distinguish the heavenly glory from the earthly, for these differ in genus, and allos to distinguish the flesh of men, birds, and fishes, which in each case is flesh differing not in genus but in species. Allos is used again to distinguish between the glories of the heavenly bodies, for these also differ not in kind but in degree only. For allos, see MORE, OTHER, etc. For heteros, see OTHER, STRANGE.
Note: The distinction comes out in the compounds of heteros, viz., heteroglossos, "strange tongues," 1Cr 14:21; heterodidaskaleo, "to teach a different doctrine," 1Ti 1:3; 6:3; heterozugo, "to be unequally yoked" (i.e., with those of a different character), 2Cr 6:14.Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?strongs=G1320&t=NASB
The second part of this compound Greek word is “didasko”, and means, “teacher”. But it was a specific kind of teacher…
Teacher, Master (Noun and Verb):
"a teacher" (from didasko, "to teach"), is frequently rendered "Master" in the four Gospels, as a title of address to Christ, e.g., Mat 8:19; Mar 4:38 (there are more instances in Luke than in the other Gospels); Jhn 1:38, where it interprets "Rabbi;" Jhn 20:16, where it interprets "Rabboni." It is used by Christ of Himself in Mat 23:8 (see No. 6) and Jhn 13:13-14; by others concerning Him, Mat 17:24; 26:18; Mar 5:35; 14:14; Luk 8:49; 22:11; Jhn 11:28. In Jhn 3:10, the Lord uses it in addressing Nicodemus, RV, "the teacher" (AV, "a master"), where the article does not specify a particular "teacher," but designates the member of a class; for the class see Luk 2:46, "the doctors" (RV, marg., "teachers"). It is used of the relation of a disciple to his "master," in Mat 10:24, 25; Luk 6:40. It is not translated "masters" in the rest of the NT, save in the AV of Jam 3:1 "(be not many) masters," where obviously the RV "teachers" is the meaning.
Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?strongs=G1320&t=NASB
This word tells us that these men thought of themselves as being the professionals in what they taught. They considered themselves to be the authority on Scriptural issues and matters. And as such…they felt that they had special authority over their followers. The master of their disciples. Paul calls them “certain men”. In other words, they are identifiable. Timothy and the church in Ephesus would be able to recognize who they were by what they taught. How would they do this? These teachers weren’t just teaching things that were slightly different from Paul, fine nuances of his teaching. Their teaching probably sounded a lot like what Paul had taught. They may have used many of the same Biblical stories and the same key doctrinal terms. But it was as if Paul was using one dictionary to define these things and they were using a totally different dictionary. They were intentionally being extremely deceptive and misleading. Had they just come right out and clearly said what they meant…then there is a good possibility that they would have been rejected. But instead, they tried to convince people that they were really a part of the same faith as they were. This is a common practice of cults and false religions…even today. They use the same words, phrases, terms and stories as the Christian church does. Often even quoting the Bible. Although, if you check closely, they often have their own version and translation of the Bible that differs significantly from those historically accepted by the Christian church. Three cults that commonly use this practice are the Mormons (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints), the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and the Christian Science. As Paul would say, they teach another (vastly different!) doctrine from the Christian church. The sad fact is, many, if not most, of their members are former members of mainline Christian churches who were never taught the Bible well enough to be able to discern error and false truth when they heard it.
Paul tells Timothy to instruct these men to stop their false teaching in the church. These false teachings only lead to speculation about “myths and genealogies” (material not included in the Old Testament that led to the formation of non-Biblical groups such as the Gnostics…see https://carm.org/gnosticism), arguments, and disagreement...and do nothing to further the cause of the Gospel. Have you ever known someone like that? They constantly want to argue over matters that are not necessarily essential or perhaps even pertinent to the fundamental truths of the Gospel. But because they cannot find (or simply will not accept) an answer that satisfies their inquisitiveness…they refuse to accept those things that are otherwise very clear and direct. And often, they demand to have an audience. They position themselves as being experts on those things for which they claim there is no satisfactory answer. As if somehow, their supposed expertise on the few matters that they claim cannot be answered, deserves more respect than the larger bulk of facts concerning those things that can be answered.
1 Timothy 1:5-Paul says that the goal of his teaching is:
1-"love from a pure heart"…His teaching leads men to love one another as God has loved them…not to see themselves as being superior to others.
2-"a good conscience"…When we see ourselves from the perspective of God’s grace we don’t constantly beat ourselves up mentally and emotionally for our failures and inadequacies. Instead, while never presuming on God’s grace, we do depend on God’s forgiveness. The Gospel leads us to repent of our sin when the Holy Spirit convicts us…and by faith to trust that God forgives us. The result is a good, clear conscience…that comes when your relationship with God is what it is meant to be. On the other hand, these “false teachers” waved the Law in front of their faces…indicting them of sin and their failure to fulfill the requirements of the Law. Their mantra was, “You must work harder. Be more faithful. Keep all of the rituals.” But since on one can ever completely satisfy all of the Law…you would never have a “good conscience”… a feeling of peace and satisfaction that comes from a right relationship with God.
3-"a sincere faith"…the word “sincere” means that your faith is honest and real…not faked, or hypocritical. It is a faith that goes beyond the mere acknowledgment of facts, to honest, consistent practice in your daily life.
1 Timothy 1:6-11-Paul says that there are men in the church at Ephesus who want to teach that you must be obedient to the Old Testament Law in order to have a right relationship with God. But they do not know what they are talking about. They have interpreted the purpose of the Law exactly backwards. They teach that the purpose of the Law is to keep us from unrighteousness. As if there is some inherent power in the Law that can do so when it is practiced. But Paul says that Law, in and of itself, has no power. It is not meant to keep us from unrighteousness. In fact, it’s purpose is to point out our inability to be righteous by revealing the very points at which we have failed. Paul says that the Law is for the unrighteous (since it shows them how they have sinned)...and then he gives a list of unrighteous behaviors…
- those who kill their fathers and mothers
- immoral men
- whatever else is contrary to sound teaching.
The purpose of the Law is to identify what is unrighteous…and this is a list of behaviors that the Law identifies as being unrighteous (sin).
1 Timothy 1:12-17-Paul’s Testimony of God’s Grace
1 Timothy 1:12-17-Paul has just clarified that the practice of keeping and obeying the Law was never intended to be a means of salvation (of having a right relationship with God). The Law was only intended to show the need that we have for a relationship with God by identifying the extent of our sin.
Now Paul says that this was his own experience…and that he is an example of the salvation of God that is the result of His grace. He found God’s mercy even though the Law identified him as the worst kind of sinner (“a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor…foremost of all”-:13,15). God’s grace was “more than abundant”. Have you ever felt that you’ve done too much, been too far, sinned too bad…for God to ever love you? God inspired Paul to write this verse…just for you. Paul says that God’s grace is greater than all of your sin. The words, “more than abundant” literally mean that something is “exceedingly abundant, to overflow, to be in excess”. You cannot out-sin God’s grace. In fact, Paul says that this is the very reason that Jesus Christ came to earth…to save sinners…not just good people…but every sinner…including the very worst of them all. And he says that since he stands head-and-shoulders above everyone else as the very worst kind of sinner…when God saved him it was a demonstration that God can save anybody and everybody!
Then Paul bursts into praise for God.
- The King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise: This outburst of praise shows that Paul both knew God and that he loved God.
- He knew God to be the King eternal, ruling and reigning in complete power and glory.
- He knew God to be immortal, existing before anything else existed, and being the Creator of all things.
iii. He knew God to be invisible, not completely knowable by us; we can't completely figure out God, or know all His secrets.
- He knew God alone is wise, that He is God - and we are not. We think our plans and insights are so important, but only God really knows and understands all things.
David Guzik :: Study Guide for 1 Timothy 1,
1 Timothy 1:18-20-Paul’s Command to Timothy
Paul encourages Timothy to be strong in the fight against these people. The responsibility to maintain the purity of teaching and doctrine that he had established is emphasized by the charge that he gives to Timothy. Paul appeals to four sources of motivation for Timothy to “fight the good fight” (:18).
First, he says, “This command I entrust to you…” By giving Timothy a command Paul is appealing to his Apostolic authority. God had called him to serve as one of a unique set of individuals in the New Testament church, as an Apostle. And as such, he had certain authority concerning matters of both doctrine and leadership within the church. It is to this authority that Paul first appeals because it is more important than anything else.
St. Paul opens the Epistle to the Galatians with an unusual assertion of his own authority. Generally he describes himself as "the bondservant" of Jesus Christ, and addresses his converts with affectionate gentleness. But something almost stern marks the beginning of this Epistle, and indeed characterizes the whole of it; and the writer at the outset sets forth the highest claims of apostolic rank. This was necessary because disloyalty to the authority of St. Paul had been used as one of the strongest encouragements for unfaithfulness to the fundamental principles of Christianity. It is very difficult to know when self-assertion is a duty, and more difficult to perform the duty with modesty. Yet there are occasions - for most of us rare occasions - when the cause of truth and righteousness requires the firm, dignified claim of one's lawful position. This is perfectly consistent with unselfishness and humility if the motive is some interest outside ourselves. Herein is the important point, namely, that the self-assertion is not to be for our own honour, but for the glory of God, or the good of man, or the maintenance of right.
- THE APOSTOLIC AUTHORITY IS CONFERRED.
It does not originate in the man who possesses it. He is "one sent," a messenger, a missionary, an ambassador. As the prophet is the man who "speaks for" God, the Divine spokesman, so the apostle is he who is sent by his Lord, the messenger of Christ. Thus the apostolic authority is very different from that of the philosopher which depends entirely on his own intellectual powers, and that of the religious founder which grows out of the man's own spiritual ideas, and all purely personal authority. It is derived from the authority of Christ. Natural gifts can no more make a man an apostle than they can give a free-lance the right to command a national army.
- THE APOSTOLIC AUTHORITY IS INDEPENDENT OF HUMAN INFLUENCES.
- It is not derived from a human origin. It is not "of men." No man and no body of men can create an apostle. To attempt such a creation is to put forth forged credentials; it is like the act of a man who engraves his own notes and passes them in currency as though they had been issued by a bank.
- It is not derived through a human medium. It is not "through man." Matthias was thought to be appointed by God since he was chosen by lot after prayer for Divine guidance; but he certainly received his apostleship, such as it was, through men, for the election of him was arranged by the Church (Acts 1:23-26). This was not the case with St. Paul. The highest authority is independent of all ecclesiastical arrangements and of all official management.
III. THE APOSTOLIC AUTHORITY COMES DIRECT FROM CHRIST AND GOD.
The sovereign commissions his own ministers. The office derives its high influence from this origin.
- It is from God. Therefore the apostle is divinely inspired. The Church order that he establishes and the doctrinal truth that he preaches have both claims upon our reverence, because they come through him from God.
- It is also from Christ. It is "through" Christ as being received immediately from him, but it is also "through" God, for no distinction is here to be made. Christ, however, is personally concerned. The apostle is a Christian officer. His work is not to serve the general religion of faith in God and providence and natural revelation, but to promote the special faith of the gospel.
- THE APOSTOLIC AUTHORITY IS DEPENDENT ON THE RESURRECTION OF CHRIST
God is named as "the Father, who raised him from the dead." St. Paul alone of all the apostles received his commission in the first instance from the risen Christ. But the other apostles were also especially endowed and sent forth by Christ after the resurrection (Matthew 28:16-20). Apart from the importance that attaches itself in many ways to the resurrection of Christ as the proof of his victory, the assurance of our future, etc., there is this particular point here of significance that Christ still lives, that the apostle is not merely faithful to a memory, but serves a living Lord, that he is not the successor of Christ, but the servant who carries out the fresh mandates of the living and reigning King. - W.F.A.
Apostolic Authority, W.F. Adeney,
For additional information on Paul’s Apostolic Authority see:
Second, Paul again appeals to the personal relationship that he has with Timothy, saying: “This command I entrust to you, Timothy, my son…” He brings it down to a personal level…showing his trust, respect, and confidence in Timothy. He has personally discipled him and trained him for this ministry. And now, he commissions him for the ministry. There is almost a picture here of Paul passing the mantle, the role on to the next generation when he uses the same words to describe the character that he expects to stand out in Timothy (1:19), as he had used of himself previously (1:5). He is depending on their personal relationship and the role model he has provided for Timothy to give him both guidance and perseverance in the face of opposition. He has seen him stand strong before in the face of antagonism and he fully anticipates that he will do so in the future.
Third, Paul appeals to “the prophecies previously made concerning you.” These were probably the words that had been spoken concerning Timothy when Paul ordained him into the ministry. People of spiritual maturity and discernment may have voiced the qualities and gifts that they saw in his life…as well as the type of ministry that they anticipated felt he would be effective in and the fruit he would produce.
the prophecies which went before on thee--the intimations given by prophets respecting thee at thy ordination, 1Ti 4:14 (as, probably, by Silas, a companion of Paul, and "a prophet," Act 15:32 ). Such prophetical intimation, as well as the good report given of Timothy by the brethren ( Act 16:2 ), may have induced Paul to take him as his companion. Compare similar prophecies as to others: Act 13:1-3, in connection with laying on of hands; Act 11:28 21:10, 11; compare 1Cr 12:10 14:1 Eph 4:11. In Act 20:28, it is expressly said that "the Holy Ghost had made them (the Ephesian presbyters) overseers." CLEMENT OF ROME [Epistle to the Corinthians], states it was the custom of the apostles "to make trial by the Spirit," that is, by the "power of discerning," in order to determine who were to be overseers and deacons in the several churches planted. So CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA says as to the churches near Ephesus, that the overseers were marked out for ordination by a revelation of the Holy Ghost to St. John.
Jamieson, Fausset & Brown :: Commentary on 1 Timothy 1,
Finally, Paul appeals to Timothy to stay strong in his ministry by using a negative example. He speaks of two men, Hymenaeus and Alexander. We know nothing of these two men other than what Paul tell us, here. Evidently, they had “rejected” (to push away, thrust away) those things that they had been taught. By referring to these men, Paul is telling Timothy to watch himself, guard himself closely…so that he does not fall prey to the same issues that they allowed to negatively effect them. Paul warns Timothy to not allow his “faith” or his “conscience” to be weakened…so that he will not “suffer shipwreck” as these men did. Earlier (:3-4), Paul had mentioned those people who spend their time in endless arguments and speculation concerning peripheral issues…a behavior that can lead to doubts and concerns that while not that important, can become disruptive to our “faith”. Maybe that is what happened to these two men. Or, maybe they had become caught up in the web of deceit concerning the Law. They had fallen for the lie that they had to keep all of the Jewish rituals in order to be saved and then in order to be holy. They had tried and tried…but after a while, their failure became vividly apparent to them and they began to have an ever deeper and deeper sense of guilt and shame. Finally, it was too much. They were embarrassed, angry, and disappointed. So, instead of humbling themselves (by admitting that they had been mistaken) and accepting the truth about the true purpose of the Law and how God’s grace operates…they walked away…they left…they “rejected” the faith. Easier to blame God (so they thought) and the system, “organized religion”…than to accept responsibility themselves. There is a good chance that at one if you had asked these two men what it would take for them to “reject” the faith…they would have straightened their backs, set their jaws, and said, “There is nothing that could ever make me turn my back on Jesus! Nothing!” Their intentions were good. But somewhere along the way, somehow that they didn’t anticipate…they did begin to turn. Probably slowly at first. Almost imperceptible to other people and even themselves. However, eventually, something happened. It could have been the cumulative result of many things. Or, perhaps they had become weak and it was one final thing that happened that put them over the edge. We don’t know. Paul mentions them together, expecting Timothy to know their stories, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they knew each other. But at any rate, each man had to make a decision about their faith…and they failed. Paul warns Timothy to not let this happen to him.
But, Paul has not completely given up all hope for these two men. Instead, he says that he has personally given them over to Satan. He doesn’t mean that they now belong to Satan. But, that they no longer have the protective comfort, guidance, and influence of the church. In other words, he has withdrawn the help of the church from them so that hopefully they will realize their error when their false teaching doesn’t work in their struggle against Satan, and they will repent (cf. 1 Cor. 5:5). Sometimes we reach a place with people where our love for them must be tough. Initially, we try to redeem them, to bring them back. But, if after these efforts have not been productive…we must sometimes allow them to face the consequences of their choices…in hopes that when they do so and whatever resources, or strength, or wisdom, or relationship they are depending on fails…then they will recognize their sin and repent.
Prayer: Lord, there are men today who want to impose a form of the Law on believers. They see themselves as being holier than others, or as possessing something that other believers do not. Then, they want other believers to submit to them...and, they suggest that other believers are not on the same level of spirituality as they are. Please help me to recognize these false teachers and to stand strong in the face of their attacks.