A Series On First Timothy -- Chapter 1:1-11
This is one of Paul's letters that was written to Timothy.
The Salutation -- verses 1 - 2
Paul's letters always begins with a greeting as the custom was in the first century, and he included his own name at the beginning.
"Paul the veteran apostle." (Verse 1)
After many years of service, Paul looks back and writes out of his rich experiences.
He is not a beginner -- he is not an novice.
He is a tried and faithful soldier of many battles.
His credentials are well known for in all his writings Paul spoke of his credentials.
No one could ever dispute his right to be an apostle and a servant of his Lord and Master.
Before his conversion Paul was the "public enemy number one," but after his conversion the world
would know of his new allegiance to Christ.
There were those in the church who at first had looked upon him with suspicion and distrust,
but gradually the whole church came to accept him for what he was "in Christ" and as "a new creation."
In Paul's letters there is a recurring phrase which unfolds the certainty and richness
of his "marching orders."
We read in verse 1 these words: "Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God
our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope."
He is responding according to "the commandment of God." (1 Timothy 1:1)
He is saying that God has issued a command concerning his life.
He is stating that he is "under orders."
Even as a soldier of the Empire of Rome lived under the command of his emperor, Paul knew that
he was under the supreme command of "God our Saviour."
The Romans called the Emperor, "Saviour, God."
This is the same designation as made by the Christian concerning Jesus Christ.
Then in 1 Timothy 1:11 we read "According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God."
God who is blessed forever suggest that He is the happy God.
God's joy and delight are found in His grace.
Paul had been a partaker of this.
He recognizes that he is not only under divine command for service but that he works under
the good tidings of salvation.
He is also joyful in this relationship.
Then Paul says in 2 Timothy 1:1 that "According to the promise of the life which is in Christ Jesus."
This life is eternal as promised by our Lord.
It includes the present as well as the future.
Paul was near the end of his life, yet he testified to the fulfillment of that promise in Christ
which would transcend the present.
Then Paul says in verse 2: "Unto Timothy, my own son in the faith."
There was part of the joy and thanksgiving of Paul.
He had found a young man who would carry on his work when he was gone.
He would remind Timothy that he also was under the gracious compulsion to carry the good tidings
to all people.
Paul was near the end of his life and Timothy had the best years of his life before him.
It was just natural that Paul would reflect upon his years of service with a view to sharing them
Paul speaks of him as "my own son in the faith."
This is an expression implying that he meant "my true son."
We are not told if Paul had anything to do with Timothy's commitment to service.
We know how Timothy became a Christian as we remember verses in 2 Timothy 1:5 and Acts 16:1-5.
Timothy's family background was a means of grace to him.
He was the son of a Jewish mother and a Greek father and he was also blessed with his grandmother.
Through godly examples of faith true to the Scripture knowledge and instruction, Timothy was brought
to a Christian commitment.
Meeting Paul led to an open door of service and an extraordinary companionship.
The older man and the younger man find a common bond and share a common spirit in Christ.
Timothy also played an important part in the life of Paul.
He was a companion, friend, and fellow-laborer.
According to Philemon, Paul spoke of himself as "Paul the aged." (Philemon verse 9)
In Timothy he could relive the early days of trial and courage when he set out on the missionary journeys.
He probably saw in Timothy a worthy successor who would carry on with the same devotion and zeal.
Timothy became a pastor, and this led to some of the finest writings of Paul who wrote to Timothy
out of the fullness of his heart and out of the richness of his experience.
So, he salutes Timothy in sending this.
This was the first of his letters to him.
There is an intimacy and wholehearted spirit breathing through the letters.
In verses three and four, a charge is given.
There are two important items to be faced by this young pastor.
First, there is a warning against heresy as we see in verse 3.
The early church had its times of uncertainty.
The apostles, and particularly Paul, provided a strong foundation in doctrine and faith to the disciples
gathered in groups across the Roman Empire.
In the mighty sweep and surge of evangelism, churches were founded and established in the faith.
It did not take long until attacks were made upon the faith of these young churches.
They had come out of heathenism except for the church of Jerusalem.
The seduction of social life were still there.
Then the false teaching and false doctrine came.
"Different doctrines" are not to be taught in the church as Paul warned Timothy.
The Galatians, as we learn in Chapter 1 and verse one of that book, were confronted with the same problem.
The church has been plagued in every century with the same difficulty.
No matter how pure the church group, there have been those who sought to infiltrate and teach
what was wrong.
This is also true today.
Many churches with their confessions of faith and doctrinal standards continued to affirm what
they believe, but at the same time allow or cannot prevent the intrusion of certain teachers
who have defected from those standards of belief.
Galatians 1:6, Romans 16:17 and 1 Timothy 6:3 uses the same language.
The different doctrines are spoken of in the original as “hetro” teaching, i.e., heterodox.
Orthodoxy testifies to true doctrine has given by the apostles.
Heterodoxy implies false doctrine as infiltrated by the counterfeit.
The battle for the mind today lies here.
Timothy was warned to be alert and active to offset this evil.
We need to be even more alert and active even today.
In verse 4 Timothy was urged by Paul to teach the certainties.
There is nothing negative in the exhortation of Paul.
How easy it is to be negative, and to think we are doing the right thing!
The Christian faith has positive notes.
We affirm -- we believe -- we testify -- we witness -- we stand.
The exhortation is the call and summons to action.
In a time when unbelief tried to overthrow the true doctrines, Paul cried out for counter-action
in a positive way.
He pointed out the inadequacies of fables and myths which had no foundation in fact.
Speech and story were used by false teachers, but substance of the gospel was lacking.
Paul showed the emptiness of such words and questionings which had no relevance to the eternal message
of the gospel.
Today, we see the rise of endless discussion on the part of theologians and teachers, even pastors,
in arguments about the Christian faith and its place in the world in which many have lost their true message.
Many are discussed endlessly the question, but what is the message?
Surely the gospel message is not in doubt, and yet there are those now as in Paul's day
who have substituted conversations for conversion and dialogue-discussion for decisions for Christ.
Paul stresses teaching and preaching the certainties of the faith which are always timely.
In the first century false teachers claimed "knowledge", but it was not spiritual knowledge.
Paul told Timothy to take seriously his ministry in the light of the future stewardship for the godly edifying
of the church.
Then in verses 5 to 7 we see that conviction is expressed.
The keynote of the Letter by Paul is that Christianity is a revelation from God through Christ.
Paul's aim was to encourage pastors and people in the faith.
1. Verse 5 presents three conditions.
The goal of the charge given is love.
But love is not interpreted as that which is usually done by man.
It is the divine love of principle (agape).
Man's love is related to the romantic, sexual, and emotional aspects of his person.
Divine love transcends these elements in a passion-principal which is based on intelligence and will.
Over against the false knowledge of defecting teachers is this love-knowledge of the Spirit of God.
Such love suggests intelligent belief and inspired behavior.
Spiritual error could be offset by a demonstration of the stewardship of the truth.
But this was truth in love.
We also see in this "a clean heart."
Motives are important.
The secret of strength lies in the inner life.
Our Lord had spoken of "the pure in heart who would see God," and Paul asks that this be a condition
of godly living in the church.
Out of the heart, the mainspring of conduct, comes the moral strength of a Christian.
When the heart is pure the life is given power.
Our motives must be free from selfishness and let the life be purified in intent.
Then Paul mentions a cleansed "conscience."
The moral sense brings an imperative of action.
Every person knows what he or she "ought to do" when confronted with a choice between good and evil.
It is here that the Christian heart must choose between the good, the better, and the best.
This implies that nothing is calloused or seared.
Conscience responds to the light shining upon it.
If the light is dim or declining from its sun-standard, then it fails accordingly.
Paul was eager that his counsel be followed to bring the moral sense to sensitivity and the light
of the gospel he proclaimed and taught.
Then there is a clear "faith."
This meant a mind free from any lying, pretense or hypocrisy.
Paul knew that the false teachers "disimulated," i.e., that is they pretended to be what they were not.
Many religious teachers hold positions in the church whose creeds and standards they work under,
but who in their hearts confess they no longer believe.
This hypocrisy besmirches the church and causes many to stumble and fall.
These false teachers have swerved away from the standards and are reprobate concerning the faith.
Then verses 6, 7 is about empty arguments.
In this light we can trace the necessity for what follows.
Let anyone defect from the high and holy standard of truth and soon that one has to defend
the new position with argument and discussion.
Having swerved away through pride and self-sufficiency only the mind can reason and faith is
no longer needed.
So the individual becomes the norm of judgment for himself and his ideals in debate with others.
In Paul's day the false teachers were given to Gnosticism.
In this religious philosophy man assumed to have all knowledge necessary for salvation through
ascetic tendencies of practice allied to a spurious knowledge in which Christ was no longer supreme
Teachers of the law in this situation were more concerned to exalt themselves than to see Christ exalted.
Their concern was not with the Christian message as such but with a false philosophy of life.
When argument instead of testimony finds the setting aside of the true faith then a pastor must beware.
This turning away is subtle and dangerous.
Paul expressed himself with conviction knowing full well from experience what the cost would be in a church
if false teachers took over.
Empty arguments do not win men to Christ's allegiance.
Paul pointed out that these men thus engaged understand neither the words they use, nor the things
they speak so confidently about.
This is "vain talking."
Even as the doctor under his oath dare not seduce nor deceive his patient, so the Christian leader
should not be guilty of misleading people concerning the way of salvation and the Christian life.
When it is questioned in argument; covered up in verbiage and words; denied in subtle misinterpretations
under the guise of scholarship; then the church must examine, and see what is the glorious gospel.
To this end Paul wrote with burning zeal knowing the dangers of defection.
In verses 8-11 the contrast is drawn.
When Paul wrote, he wrote with the certainty of conviction tried and true.
He had lived a long and useful life for his Lord and Master.
He had endured much in persecution and suffering.
He had faced enemies of the faith and had encountered those who gave lip service to the faith,
but who had defected from it.
Now he proceeds to affirm his position in his knowledge of life and true doctrine as revealed by God.
So in verses 8-10 Paul presents the law for the lawless.
The subtle peril of the false teaching lay in that it asked a man to find salvation by keeping the law
or by adding law-keeping to the gospel.
Paul shows that the law is good and right in its place.
It is for the lawless.
It is "good" for this purpose -- to show a man his sin and his need of a Saviour.
Various sins are enumerated as common to man outside of Christ.
The law condemns each and all.
The Ten Commandments need not be broken in all points to bring condemnation.
Let anyone break only one and he is guilty as if he broke all.
Some of the sins mentioned relate to cruel and gross deeds out of the baser passions of human nature.
But there are others such as lying and perjury which are also judged.
Then Paul presents his final trust in that he links with these sins that of "everything contrary to sound doctrine."
Sound doctrine was healthy, but false doctrine was unhealthy.
When the gospel is proclaimed in its purity and simplicity, the hearts of men are warmed with love
and spiritual health follows. Where men are taught that something must be added. then they become
spiritually anemic and sick of soul.
The law has its divine place before grace.
It was not intended to get rid of the grace of God for the church.
Then in verse 11 is the gospel for sinners.
As a climax, Paul turns again to his great love and the doctrines of that faith.
He always magnified the gospel.
Was he not a sinner himself?
Did he not claim to be the chief of sinners?
Surely the gospel had done its gracious, soul-saving work in his life.
Out of this, he now wrote to Timothy to give place for the gospel in the life of the congregation.
The gospel is set over against the false philosophies, the bland sophistries, the quackeries of defecting
teachers from the faith.
In the gospel was spiritual life and health.
Instead of the fables and fancies of those who seduced the unwary and the unspiritual, Paul encouraged
Timothy to proclaim the glorious gospel.
It is by this that spiritual health comes and moral vitality.
Nothing is a substitute for the eternal gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The gospel as described by Paul is that which is one of "glory."
The content of this message is glorious.
Think of how it brings good tidings of great joy.
Remember its language and the great music associated with it.
It stirs our hearts to hear it.
Politicians and leaders of thought in the nation can command the attention of thousands of people
for a short time so that in public assemblies and auditoriums they will be heard.
But who ever heard of this going on for week after week and year after year?
The amazing thing is that year after year and from week to week millions of people gather in churches
of all kind and in all lands, to hear ordinary men, called pastors, to tell them
"the old, old story of Jesus and his love."
What is the secret of this?
It is not in man's witchery or his eloquence, but it lies in the fact that the message is glorious.
The gospel is also that which comes from "the blessed God."
This message is not man-made or invented.
It comes out of the eternal heart of love.
Grace is the outgoing care and concern of that love which never fails.
It is God-seeking in order to save.
The lost must be found and the blind must be made to see.
The "blessed" God is the happy, joyful, compassionate God.
He has made himself known in many ways, but supremely in Jesus Christ.
Paul testifies that this gospel has been "committed to his trust."
It has been committed to his keeping just as a deposit of wealth is placed in a bank.
He must show himself trustworthy, and he does.
The glory which came from God in Christ is linked with grace and truth.
Christ came full of grace and truth.
Paul was astonished at the fabulous wealth of that revelation, and never ceased to speak of it.
Here in his words to Timothy he affirms the greatness and the glory of that which was entrusted to him.
He will pass it on to a younger man to do likewise.
As a sinner he had tasted of the gospel in forgiveness and in a new creation.
Out of this experience he could share with Timothy much for his profit and power.
If Timothy is to become a guardian of the truth he must know first hand the secret of Paul's dynamic faith.
The Letters will enlighten him.
Paul graciously sent Timothy to the church at Philippi on one occasion with this commendation,
"I hope to send Timothy shortly to you.
For I have no man like-minded who will care truly for your state.
For they all seek their own, not the things of Jesus Christ.
But ye know the proof of him that, as a child serves a father, so he served with me
in the furtherance of the gospel." (Philippians 2:19-22)
In that word of commendation we find that the bond between Paul and Timothy is the glorious gospel
which never fails.
Next is 1 Timothy 1:12-17; 2:1-7 -- Salvation of Sinners
Much of the studies of First Timothy, Second Timothy is from a study booklet
by Ralph G. Turnbull titled “Letters To Christian Leaders.”
Also several commentaries were used in preparation of these studies.