1 Timothy Chapter 1: Understanding Sound Doctrine, Disfellowship

Dec 12th, 2009 | By | Category: 1 & 2 Timothy, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

1 Timothy Chapter 1: Understanding Sound Doctrine, Disfellowship

1 Tim. 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope;

Paul’s credentials were that he was “an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God.” He was writing to Timothy, whom he had left behind in Ephesus, where there were conflicting doctrinal ideas and teachings. When Paul was previously in Ephesus, he had daily disputations in the school of Tyrannus (Acts 19:9). Certainly if Paul had this experience, the same spirit, or disposition, still existed, and Timothy would have to contend with the same doctrinal issues. God is our Savior in the highest sense, and Jesus is the means of that salvation. Similarly, God is the Great Shepherd, and Jesus is the “[Good] Shepherd and Bishop” of our souls (1 Pet. 2:25).

Paul probably wrote the first epistle from Rome either just before or just after his first release from imprisonment (house arrest) there. This writing took place near the end of his life, around AD 64. His Second Epistle to Timothy was written in AD 66, during his second confinement in Rome, this time in a dungeon.

On Paul’s first missionary tour, the brethren had prayed and laid their hands on him and company as they departed from Antioch, indicating sympathy with the missionary effort.

However, had Paul not frequently called attention to the fact that he was commissioned by God, the brethren might have gotten a wrong impression—namely, that he was teaching according to their commission—and the authority of his ministry might have been curtailed. Paul always kept in mind the vision that he had on the way to Damascus, when God commissioned him, as a chosen vessel, to preach before “Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel” (Acts 9:15).

Therefore, Paul called attention to his apostleship, lest when doctrinal differences occurred, the brethren would think that they could disregard his teaching and that he was exceeding his authority. And that is exactly what happened in Corinth, when false apostles tried to undercut his ministry.

Here in verse 1, Paul said that the commission was not just from Jesus but also from God.

While Jesus chose the apostles after praying and surnamed them and sent them out, it was God who did the original appointing. When the Twelve are called the apostles of Jesus Christ, it is in the sense that he particularly gave a commission to them in the beginning and to Paul later— but subordinate to the selection and authority of God. By making the statement in verse 1, Paul was implying that his apostleship was according to the will of both God and Jesus.

Comment: John 6:44 helps to show the relationship of God and Jesus to the Christian. Jesus said, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him.”

What did Paul mean when he said that the “Lord Jesus Christ … is our hope”? He was saying that Jesus is our “hope of glory” (Col. 1:27).

Comment: Reprint No. 2165 has interesting comments, some of which are based on tradition.

Timothy consecrated around the age of 16, and he was probably about 40 years old when Paul wrote this epistle to him. Thus he was middle-aged and definitely not a babe at this point, having had many experiences. Paul had left Timothy in Ephesus for a particular purpose some years earlier, and he was still there when Paul wrote this epistle. The name Timothy means “honored of God.” He represents the entire gospel Church, including the feet members, as  indicated by certain verses in the epistle that are especially pertinent at the end of the age.

1 Tim. 1:2 Unto Timothy, my own son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Emphatic Diaglott calls Timothy “a genuine [or true] child in faith.” The Scriptures tell us to call no man father, for there is only the one Heavenly Father, yet Paul likened Timothy to his son, or child (Matt. 23:9). How would we explain and harmonize Paul’s salutation to Timothy?

(1) The pronoun “my,” used in the King James, is spurious. (2) Paul was speaking in a paternal sense, not a religious sense. The Apostle John also used a paternal address as a term of endearment: “little children” (1 John 2:1,12,13,18,28; 3:7,18; 4:4; 5:21). (3) Age was a factor, for Timothy was quite a bit younger than Paul (1 Tim. 4:12). Paul wrote this epistle around AD 64, and he died in AD 66 or 67, so he was in his senior years at this time. (4) Timothy had now been consecrated for a number of years, but when he first accepted Jesus, he was considerably younger. Over the years Paul continued to think of Timothy as his child, or son, even though the latter was now middle-aged. Thus in any or all of these senses, Paul thought of Timothy as his son.

Comment: At the end of the chapter, Paul pointed out by name Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom he had to remand over to Satan for their evil motives and intentions. In contrast, he certified Timothy as a genuine child of faith.

Reply: When Timothy received this favorable epistle with admonitions regarding his responsibilities, the letter gave him some prestige. The endorsement was helpful, for Timothy was not as successful with the Corinthian church as Titus was. Timothy had a little problem with his ministry, and Paul was trying to help him out so that he would be a more useful servant. If Timothy got into a dispute with some who questioned or discounted his counsel, the letter would show that he had the respect of the Apostle Paul.

“Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord” was Paul’s usual opening greeting or closing benediction. Paul was writing to Timothy, an individual, yet he greeted him the same way he greeted an ecclesia, a large group. Therefore, the greeting indicates that Timothy was an important personage in Paul’s estimation.

Verses 1 and 2 both distinguish between the Father and the Son. Deference is given first to the Heavenly Father and then to Jesus. In spite of Paul’s personal affection for Timothy in the faith, he wanted to emphasize that God came first. Then, secondarily, Paul was saying to Timothy, “You are important in the sight of God and Jesus, and I feel the same way.”

The substance of the two epistles is that Timothy was being advised, admonished, encouraged, and instructed with the responsibility he had in view of the accumulation of knowledge he had received in accompanying Paul. In fact, because of their travels together, Timothy knew Paul better than almost anyone else. Paul repeatedly encouraged Timothy to continue the good work.

1 Tim. 1:3 As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine,

On one of Paul’s journeys, Timothy accompanied him to Ephesus. Paul then left Timothy behind and went on to Macedonia in obedience to a vision that directed him and the gospel westward, to Europe, instead of to the East or to South Africa. Timothy had wanted to continue with Paul, but the apostle persuaded him of the need to stay behind in Ephesus where he would be more useful in finishing a work already begun.

Paul had to beseech Timothy “to abide still at Ephesus … [to] charge some that they teach no other doctrine.” Thus the purpose of Timothy’s stay in Ephesus was to instruct certain individuals who were teaching contrary doctrine. This kind of instruction could not be done delicately but required strong and specific reasoning as to why the other doctrines should not be taught. Paul was now coming to Timothy’s aid, giving detailed advice on how to handle the situation. The very fact Paul had to write this epistle shows that Timothy was having quite an experience and thus needed additional counsel.

In fact, to “charge” those who were leading spirits not to teach any other doctrine required admonition and a rebuke. In spite of what others might think of Timothy, Paul felt that he was a mature, rounded-out, well-founded Christian who was in a position to stand firm for the faith. Even if others had big reputations, were older, and were more eloquent in their delivery, Timothy had the Father, the Son, and the Apostle Paul in back of him. As has been said, Paul assumed a paternal aspect with Timothy. When leaving him in Ephesus, Paul had said in effect, “You know how I feel on different issues. Continue the work I have been doing.”

Paul’s experience in Ephesus is described in Acts 19:8-10. “And he went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God. But when divers were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of that way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples, disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus. And this continued by the space of two years; so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks.” Timothy was now contending similarly with doctrine, defending the faith.

1 Tim. 1:4 Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do.

The problem with these individuals was that they were teaching other doctrines (verse 3) plus giving heed to fables and searching out endless genealogies. Since this epistle was written before the Diaspora of AD 69-70, when the records were lost, the false teachers were probably trying to trace their genealogies back to the Levitical priesthood to show they were sons of Aaron. This preaching was a waste of time and without authorization, for Jesus himself was not a Levite. Another possibility is that the false teachers were trying to show they were of the tribe of Judah, but that effort was also a waste of time, for Paul was of the tribe of Benjamin.

“Fables” included heathen teachings and philosophies. Although some of the teachings and writings were ancient, they were not divinely inspired. Incidentally, the Talmud quite frequently uses fables to teach certain principles. While fables, which are made-up illustrations, can be helpful at times, only the Bible should be used as an authority.

At times, Jesus spoke in parables, which were not realities but were based on realities. Some of his parables were partial specific truths, and some were allegories—but he was the Lord and thus had certain liberties. The apostles, too, had certain liberties but not the rest of the Church.

Timothy was instructed to tell the brethren not to give heed to fables and endless genealogies because these do not result in “godly edifying … in faith.” Why did Paul add “in faith”? Fables and genealogies are not of God—they are not divinely inspired—and Christians should want knowledge from God, and not secular or historical knowledge except in a modified or restrained sense. Some erroneously felt that any knowledge proved godliness and that the more knowledge one gained, the closer he was to God, but there are grave dangers in such thinking.

True learning and knowledge result in godly edification and development in faith. When some got the truth in the early Church, they properly burned their books on magic (Acts 19:18,19).

Incidentally, there may be an occasion when it is necessary to give a long genealogy, but lineage should not be harped on as a continuing theme. For example, the Gospels of Matthew and Luke each provide a helpful, long genealogy of Jesus. However, when genealogy becomes too absorbing as a study, it is not profitable. Paul was cautioning against specializing in endless genealogies, not an infrequent consideration. Some err by specializing in very narrow spectrums of truth, but to concentrate on a subject such as the Tabernacle is permissible, for it covers many different fields of development.

1 Tim. 1:5 Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned:

The ultimate object of God’s commandment is love that comes from (1) a pure heart, (2) a good conscience, and (3) a sincere faith. Stated another way, the end of the commandment is Godlikeness, Christlikeness, and love. This kind of love is not emotional but is a disciplined and educated development of the heart. We can only love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength if we are obedient to His Word by having a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith.

The adjectives “pure,” “good,” and “unfeigned” are important, for all of these qualities can be falsified. In other words, there is a false, deceiving love, and a conscience not properly educated is false. A “pure heart” is honest and has no ulterior motives. The opposite is hypocrisy, which is a form of dishonesty. If we are honest, we know our own deficiencies and weaknesses and must keep them in mind and govern our life accordingly, striving toward perfection and educating and regulating our conscience by God’s Word. The Pastor said our conscience is like a clock. The mechanism may be functioning correctly as far as keeping time, but unless we set the dial to the correct time, it is deceiving us. We should obey conscience, but that conscience needs to be regulated and ordered, yet kept tender in harmony with the principles of God.

A feigned faith is hypocritical and insincere. Words are cheap, so our actions may not match them. As with our heart and conscience, we should honestly know about our faith. Therefore, we must be careful not to overstate our professions or make statements above the realities. We should not overpresent ourselves.

Sometimes the deceptions are very subtle. For instance, to reply quickly, “I would do this, and I would do that,” might put oneself in a favorable light while denigrating another person. The other individual may have made a confession, and then we want to outdo him. Another example would be to make the noble-sounding statement “I champion the underdog” and then not follow through. Moreover, the underdog may be wrong depending on the situation.

Comment: When Judas criticized the pouring of costly perfume on Jesus’ feet, saying the perfume should have been sold and the money given to the poor, not only did he cast a bad reflection on both Jesus and Mary, but he elevated himself with a noble-sounding statement (John 12:4,5).

Reply: Yes, he was trying to point out a weakness of the Master, whose feet were being anointed by Spikenard Mary. The principle of insincere faith usually operates when one makes a statement that sounds noble and grand to give himself a more favorable standing. Stated another way, a feigned faith is usually at the expense of others. It is better to keep quiet and let good deeds speak for themselves. In the final analysis, as has been said, deeds will be seen in their proper light in the day of revelation.

Judas did not realize that Jesus was about to die, even though Jesus had stated the fact multiple times. Not only did Judas premeditate the betrayal, but also he was a thief, yet he made the statement that sounded so grand (John 12:6). What happened is almost unbelievable!

Nevertheless, Jesus answered calmly, “Ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good: but me ye have not always” (Mark 14:7). The Master could rightly balance values—something that is very hard to do. He knew when certain things could be done with divine backing and approval and when they could not be done.

Our ultimate objective is to reach the condition of faithfulness and strength of character where  we have a tender conscience that, if possible, is completely void of offense toward God and man (Acts 24:16). If we diligently strive to this end and do not stifle or overrule our conscience, we will have more hope of getting the crown of life. Most Christians have mixed emotions at the end of their walk, but we can have more confidence if we have faithfully tried to have and obey a good conscience. Paul strove to have a clear conscience, and so should we.

When we first consecrated, we had love out of a pure heart. We realized our deficiency, our need for the cancellation of sin and a covering, and the fact that we were honored with adoption into God’s family. But while we obeyed out of a pure heart and consecrated, our heart was small. Our capacity was that of an infant, but as we grow and develop, our capacity increases and so does our responsibility to keep it filled. In other words, enlargement should be backed up with character development. As we increase in knowledge, we should not forget the necessity to become Christlike. No matter how long we have been consecrated, there is always much room for improvement. We must not lose sight of the original objective.

What is faith? Knowledge is an ingredient of faith—knowledge of God’s Word and then believing and obeying it. Credulity is sometimes improperly regarded as faith. “Faith cometh by hearing [obeying, taking to heart] … the word of God” (Rom. 10:17). Paul said, “And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity” (1 Cor. 13:13). Here he was speaking of the same three objectives: a sincere faith, the hope that comes from a good conscience, and love. True hope comes near the fruition, or climax, of our Christian walk. When we first consecrate, we think we are willing to do anything for the Lord, and we are ready to die tomorrow or the next day. We do not realize how much is involved in the Christian calling. With few exceptions, such as Stephen, it is a lifetime experience covering many years.

In making another statement, Paul compressed the three objectives of faith, hope, and love into one: “This one thing I do … I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:13,14). The Christian race is won at the end of our course, for we have to cross the finish line in order to get the reward. Thus a period of time is involved in attaining love out of a pure heart, a good conscience, and an unfeigned faith. We must keep the armor on for our entire walk. In summary, then, the “mark” is the objective, the finish line of faith, hope, and love.

1 Tim. 1:6 From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling;

The term “vain jangling” reminds us of the fascination of a baby in a crib who is attracted by the sound of bells and noises. Rattles and sounds are all right if one remains a baby, but the objective is to grow and mature. Newborn babes are to “desire the sincere milk of the word, that … [they] may grow thereby” (1 Pet. 2:2). Progression has to be constantly kept in mind. In comparison with the “deep things of God,” the attraction for the noise and the jangling is immature, superficial, and empty (1 Cor. 2:10).

“Vain jangling” is “foolish talking” in the Diaglott. Some had swerved, gone off course, from the main objective through distractions such as endless genealogies and fables and were talking foolishly.

1 Tim. 1:7 Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm.

Not only had some swerved into unprofitable and immature areas, but their motive with the “vain jangling” was to be “teachers of the law.” They wanted to be instructors of the principles of the divine mind. Paul was being sarcastic.

The Law is called the Torah, which is usually just the Pentateuch, although some use the term to mean the Tanach, that is, the entire Old Testament, which includes the prophets. But what happened to the Law of Moses in Judaism? “Fables,” the writings of the rabbis, were added.

Rabbis are great storytellers to illustrate principles. Stories are entertaining and instructive, but the serious reader gets tired of that method after a while and wants to get down to the Word itself. The problem with storytelling is that it begins to deviate and invent original thoughts that are not in harmony with God’s Word. Indirect reasoning can be helpful if it leads to a scriptural principle or thought, but to be profitable, it has to be kept within the parameters of the Lord’s Word and instructions.

Comment: Telling stories often gets the audience to titter and laugh, with the result that the atmosphere loses the sense of sobriety and reverence.

The danger in teaching the Law of Moses from the standpoint of the ceremonial law is to overdraw types. Although the Scriptures do teach types, one must be very careful, for the human mind, with its great imaginative powers, needs to be harnessed. To keep a fertile imagination within the bounds of Scripture, we should require two or three witnesses for the teaching of a doctrine (Deut. 17:6; 2 Cor. 13:1). A doctrine must be confirmed, or corroborated, and this principle is especially true with regard to prophecy, for the harmony of pictures and types is what brings conviction.

“Understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm.” Not only did these individuals not understand what they were saying, but what they taught was strongly and dogmatically presented. In other words, vain jangling was characteristic of those who strongly  professed to be teachers of the Law, and they repeatedly used a “thus saith the LORD” when they did not have the understanding. The lesson is to analyze everything we hear from the platform, no matter who says it and how authoritatively it is said. On the one hand, the Lord’s Word encourages us to speak as a trumpet that gives a distinct sound, with our yes being yes and our no being no, where possible (1 Cor. 14:8; James 5:12). On the other hand, an exponent of error may convincingly teach in an assertive manner. To repeat: a speaker’s words need to be analyzed to see if they square with Scripture.

This was strong language from Paul. What wonderful instruction for Timothy, who was in the middle of this situation and needed a lot of encouragement and know-how!

1 Tim. 1:8 But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully;

The statement “the law is good” refers not only to the moral law, the Decalogue, but also to the ceremonial law if a man uses it “lawfully,” that is, within the parameters of what it is teaching. Paul was giving very sound counsel.

Paul did not downgrade the Law but said that it had to be used properly. Jesus said, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil [magnify, go beyond, the Law]” (Matt. 5:17). Jesus came not with the motive of destroying or violating the Mosaic Law but with the motive of going to a higher law. As an illustration, the law of gravity still operates when the law of centrifugal force turns the propeller blades of a plane to lift it into the air for flight. Both laws continue to operate on a principle of nature, but the higher law supersedes the lower law.

1 Tim. 1:9 Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,

1 Tim. 1:10 For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine;

The first part of verse 9 could be misunderstood. Why did Paul say that the Law was not made for the “righteous man”? Other Scriptures are necessary to get a balanced viewpoint of this statement. For instance, “There is none righteous, no, not one” (Rom. 3:10). If verse 9 were the only statement on the subject, we would conclude that the Law has no value for the justified Christian, but the Law contains many precepts that are most enlightening.

Comment: The “law” is for those who know they are not righteous. The principle was the same when Jesus said, “They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick” (Matt. 9:12).

All are sinners, so all need a physician, but only those who recognize their undone condition and seek help from Jesus can be helped.

Reply: Yes. No one can boast in the Law because none are righteous.

The Law is very instructive, telling us what not to do and also what to do in many cases. As Christians, we need the knowledge of the Law, but the Law does not justify us. The Law reveals our shortcomings and transgressions, past and present.

Of course, for the Law and works to supersede faith, as it did with many Christians in the early Church, is a serious error. Works should be done because of our faith, but the works themselves are not faith. A live faith will produce works; a dead faith will not. Many Scriptures and illustrations need to be considered for a balanced understanding. Otherwise, we would think, “Why should we bother to read Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy?” If one is so absorbed in the Law that he talks only on that subject in his sermons and neglects faith, the robe of Christ’s righteousness, and justification, he is teaching contrary to “sound doctrine” because faith, hope, and love are the doctrine of the Gospel Age, not just professions and deeds.

The rich, young ruler asked Jesus, “Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” (Luke 18:18). He said he had kept the commandments from his youth. That ruler might have been a very noble person by temperament, but Jesus pointed out that more was required. In spite of a kind and polite veneer and good behavior, one must love God with all the heart, mind, soul, and strength. It is good that the robe of Christ’s righteousness covers our infirmities.

The higher form of “menstealers” (slave traffickers or kidnappers) is robbing a person of his reputation, destroying his good name. A “liar” is one who professes to be that which he is not, such as not fulfilling his covenant of consecration with the Lord. A person is a liar in proportion as he does not fulfill his covenant to do the Lord’s will. We see the commandment to not take God’s name in vain in a higher light, meaning to not ignore His Word and/or counsel. Of course the literal meanings of these words are also applicable: kidnappers, false speech, etc.

In addition to the long list of sins in verses 9 and 10 for which the Law was made, Paul added, “And if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine.” Many other sins are contrary to the teachings of Jesus and the apostles, who used the Old Testament extensively. The consecrated should become thoroughly familiar with the New Testament and its sound doctrine, and in doing so, they should see the need to study the Old Testament—in other words, God’s Word in its entirety.

Comment: The Ten Commandments teach that adultery is wrong. Jesus added that for a man to even look at a woman with lustful thoughts is committing adultery in his heart (Matt. 5:28).

Reply: However, the two sins are not equal in God’s sight. Jesus was showing that sin has to be attacked right away at the root. A lustful desire is the beginning of sin. To entertain such a thought will lead to an act, and an act leads to action (a plurality of acts). The plurality of acts leads to a habit and then to a destiny.

1 Tim. 1:11 According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.

1 Tim. 1:12 And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry;

1 Tim. 1:13 Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.

1 Tim. 1:14 And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.

Paul was stressing God’s mercy to him because, otherwise, sinners would feel that if they had fallen into one of the categories listed in verses 9 and 10, their situation was hopeless. If individuals honestly searched their heart, they might find they had a weakness or proclivity in one of these directions, at least in the past, and had fallen short. Paul wanted them to know that repentance (and forgiveness) are possible through the grace of God.

Jesus criticized the scribes and the Pharisees for not really listening to and studying Moses.

They failed to see that Moses pointed and led to Christ. They were stuck on Moses and the Law to such an extent that they did not recognize Jesus, the Prophet whom the Lord God raised up of the Jews like unto Moses (Deut. 18:15). Israel’s religious leaders were satisfied with Moses as the greatest prophet and did not look further. The Law leads to Christ in two ways: (1) There are many types and pictures. (2) It causes the honest- and right-hearted to feel that something is wanting, that the Law is not enough; hence they become discouraged by their sins and shortcomings. The Law is a dead way, whereas Christ is a new and living way.

Judged strictly according to the Law, all would fall short of perfection, but in Jesus, a person can have a relationship with God through the gospel of grace, “the glorious gospel of the blessed God.” God has provided the arrangement, through His Son, whereby He can deal with an individual on a completely different basis than strictly on deeds, that is, if a person has a change of mind, heart, disposition, and will, and thus receives the robe of Christ’s righteousness as a covering.

“I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me.” Paul called attention to the fact that if it were not for Jesus and the robe of righteousness, he would not have been forgiven, even though he persecuted Christians in ignorance and unbelief. The risen Christ had spoken to him, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?” (Acts 9:4). For a brief moment, Paul would have wondered how he had persecuted this voice in heaven, which he felt was coming from God, but then he got the connection right away and realized that Jesus, the true representative of God, was speaking.

“He [Jesus] counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry.” When did Jesus count Paul faithful? Paul was a dedicated, consecrated man before his conversion to Christ. A strict Pharisee of the Pharisees, he desired to do God’s will and had made that commitment prior to his enlightenment at Damascus (Acts 23:6; 26:5; Phil. 3:5). He had been serving God with all his heart but not according to knowledge. His heart condition, will, motivation, and intent toward God were perfect, even when he was persecuting Christians, but both knowledge and a perfect heart intention are necessary to make the Little Flock. Paul had persecuted “ignorantly in unbelief”; that is, he lacked knowledge of the role Jesus plays in God’s plan—that he is “the way, the truth, and the life” and that no man can come to the Father except through him (John 14:6). Paul’s lack of belief in Jesus and Jesus’ doctrine was the hindrance. He had been faithful up to the degree of light that he possessed, but that was not enough.

Comment: Verse 12 counteracts the reasoning of some who claim that a defect in character must have kept Paul from recognizing Jesus as the Messiah prior to the incident on the way to Damascus. God counted Paul faithful prior to his acknowledgment of Jesus.

Paul said that before becoming a Christian, he was a blasphemer and a persecutor. However, his disposition of fire and thunder had a value when properly channeled under God’s instruction and Holy Spirit. Generally speaking, a person who was brought up under kind and genteel conditions does not develop into as faithful a leader as one who was previously a person of thunder. The individual who is mellow and mild in all that he does is not as useful as a leader. Like Daniel, Paul was a leading spirit.

Q: Why did Paul call himself a “blasphemer”? He did not blaspheme God.

A: It is also blasphemy to vilify the Son of God. Evidently, Paul was referring to the stoning of Stephen, for persecuting him was like persecuting Jesus. Paul explained the situation in another epistle: “Concerning zeal, [I was] persecuting the church; [but] touching the righteousness which is in the law, [I was] blameless” (Phil. 3:6). Paul’s character is certainly not to be impugned. Prior to his conversion, his guilt and responsibility started with Stephen in connection with his being a persecutor of Christians.

Incidentally, we do not think anyone could have reasoned with Paul in regard to Jesus. He needed to be socked over the head, as it were, with a supernatural experience. Especially with his exceptional mind and logic, he would have countered with all kinds of reasons to consider the new religion heretical and contrary to the Law. An outward providence had to humble him so that he could be instructed.

When many who consecrate get a smattering of understanding of the gospel and see the history of Peter and Paul and then compare their own situation, they are encouraged by seeing God’s grace to the apostles. The aspect of forgiveness is very commendatory. Paul called this forgiveness “the grace … which is in Christ Jesus.”

“The grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.”

Paul was speaking of the faith and love of Christ. Jesus said, “I am with you always, even unto the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20). Doesn’t this statement show his faith, or a measure of confidence, in the one he is calling? Of course God does the calling, but He uses Jesus, who, having all confidence in his Father’s arrangement, said, “I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes” (Matt. 11:25). As Paul went through his ministry of more than 30 years, he increasingly saw the wisdom of the Heavenly Father’s calling not the educated, the mighty, and the noble of this world but the poor and the humble—the ones who feel their need of a physician. Jesus is in such hearty agreement with God’s method of calling individuals that it can be likened to his own faith and love.

1 Tim. 1:15 This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.

1 Tim. 1:16 Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.

“This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.” As the years went by and Paul continued to study the principles of the gospel—everything Jesus said and did, the parables, etc.—he could more and more say, “I am in thorough agreement that the gospel of grace, faith, and love in Jesus is a true statement, a reality.” In the final analysis, he said, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” (Rom. 8:35). The clearly implied answer is, “No one except ourselves.” No fault can be found with God, His method of calling us, or the way He deals with us. Our own lack of obedience, to a greater or lesser extent, is responsible for failures in our development of a Christlike character. Not only did Jesus endorse the Father, but Paul endorsed Jesus by saying in effect, “Based on my own experience, I can fully attest to the grace, love, and faith of Jesus.”

“I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe.” As stated earlier, the two primary examples of mercy and forgiveness were Peter and Paul. Numerically speaking, Paul’s ministry was primarily to Gentiles and secondarily to Jews outside Israel. Thus he was the first “pattern” to the Gentiles, whereas Peter’s ministry and pattern were basically to the circumcision (Jews) inside Israel.

Of the list of unworthy categories in verses 9 and 10, Paul considered himself to be one of the worst offenders because prior to his conversion, he had blasphemed Jesus and persecuted adherents of the true religion. Then he constructively reasoned, “I was converted so that I would be an encouragement to other individuals in any of these categories who might subsequently believe, for Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” Simply stated, Paul was a “pattern” and an encouragement to those who would later believe, especially Gentiles. Jesus is able to save unto the uttermost those who come unto God by him, for “he ever liveth to make intercession for them” (Heb. 7:25). The word “uttermost” becomes very significant based on the degree of depravity of the individual before he accepts Christ.

Paul showed that a person can be alienated from God from one standpoint, yet in harmony with God from another standpoint. He himself was an example of this seeming contradiction.

God counted Paul faithful, yet from another perspective, the apostle reckoned himself as disobedient, as being “chief” among sinners. In another epistle, Paul said that prior to conversion, Gentiles did not know God and, therefore, were enemies without knowledge through wicked works. There is a difference between being enemies of God with knowledge (the Second Death class) and being enemies without knowledge.

1 Tim. 1:17 Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Jehovah is “the only wise God.” Paul was now directing his praise even higher than Jesus—to the top, to Almighty God Himself. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17).

The term “the only wise God” is a sign of humility. Jesus exemplified this humility when he said, “The words that I speak are not my words but the words of my Father in heaven. He taught me what to say, and I have come to do His will, not my will” (John 4:34; 7:16; 8:28 paraphrase). Paul was talking in the same vein, following the example of Jesus. Incidentally, Christians who become popular usually become blind to the Lord’s using others in a different fashion because they are so absorbed in self.

In previous verses, Paul gave praise to Jesus, and now he went a step higher, to God, to the Father of Jesus. The title “King eternal” emphasizes that God will always be Emperor of the universe and the Creator—for ages and ages and ages. It is true that Jesus will come to mind, but God said, “I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another [including Jesus]” (Isa. 42:8). God is the standard; to Him do we look. To Him “be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.”

1 Tim. 1:18 This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare;

Verses 5-17 are parenthetical in the Diaglott to show that verses 3 and 4, and then continuing with verse 18, are the “charge” Paul gave to Timothy. While Paul was discussing principles to ever be kept in mind by the followers of Jesus, he wanted Timothy to particularly take note of the advice he would now give. Paul used a term of endearment and confidence: “son Timothy.”

Comment: The New American Standard Bible reads, “This command I entrust to you, Timothy, my son, in accordance with the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may fight the good fight.”

God “charged,” or entrusted, the gospel ministry to the Apostle Paul. Now Paul, in turn, charged Timothy by saying in effect, “I am laying this responsibility on your shoulders because you are a creditable individual. You have been faithful, and you understand me and my teaching. My charge to you is that you be faithful in carrying on this work.” Incidentally, we should not pass on a “charge” to others today because we are not apostles. Perhaps the only exceptions would be a most unusual brother in doctrine and character or two brothers who had a very close or parental relationship, but we should not give a charge to brethren at large.

Comment: Reprint No. 2165 explains Paul’s charge to Timothy. Timothy was to be diligent and zealous in preaching the Word of God, using every opportunity to declare the gospel. Declaring the gospel might include three features—reproving, rebuking, and exhorting—and doing all three with a loving and sympathetic heart. Timothy was to preach the Word of God, not man. “This charge I [Paul] commit … according to the prophecies [plural] which went before on thee [Timothy].” The implication is that on some occasion, Agabus and/or another brother or sister made prophetic utterances about Timothy’s usefulness in the ministry. An utterance may even have been given much earlier when Paul was going to Galatia on his first missionary journey.

Also, Paul’s asking Timothy to accompany him may have been in connection with a prophecy uttered mechanically by someone else. At any rate, the word “prophecies” is in the plural. It is interesting that the Corinthian brethren appreciated Titus, not Timothy, yet the latter was the subject of prophetic utterances.

Whatever the prophecies were and whenever they were given, they indicated that Timothy was specially called. Although not an apostle, he was the next echelon below apostolic authority. We believe that after Paul’s demise, Timothy was the bishop of Ephesus for a very short time, that is, until John took his place. We know little about Timothy from then on, but we can be sure he kept his two personal letters from Paul for some time. Upon his death, the letters became public and were treasured, and they were providentially included in Holy Writ for the edification of the Church.

Paul was given a charge by Ananias, who had a vision in which the Lord said, “I have appointed Paul to do a great work” (Acts 9:10-16; 22:12-16). Nothing discouraged or deterred Paul from his ministry—neither favorable nor unfavorable experiences. He just proceeded according to the vision he had seen on the way to Damascus and the charge God had given him.

Paul committed the charge to Timothy according to earlier prophecies that “went before” him so that he might “war a good warfare.” Here is another principle. In down periods, in times of discouragement when we are in need of comfort, we should review and meditate on God’s various leadings on our behalf when we first consecrated and also in subsequent years.

Otherwise, the Adversary will try to discourage us further with questions like “How do you know that the Lord called you?” In critical times of discouragement, Satan wants to shipwreck our faith and push us over the cliff, so a review of the Lord’s leadings is a necessary stabilizing factor. In addition, we can look back at God’s dealings with recalcitrant natural Israel and see that He is a God of all patience and comfort. He does not desire that any of His little ones will perish but wants them to live. In fact, to realize God had that motive in calling us will help prevent a suicidal step, which, unfortunately, some have taken.

Life is precious, and we believe the Apostle John wrote his Gospel along that very line. We are not all of the very elect, but we should hang on, for our consecration is a matter of life, even if we do not get the top grade. We must be faithful unto death to even attain a place in the Great Company.

With Christian warfare, the emphasis is on the word “good.” We hope to “war a good warfare.” In this epistle, a primary theme is goodness—practical Christianity—versus foolish talking, speculations, etc., which have no real value. The meat of the gospel is essential for warring a good warfare.

1 Tim. 1:19 Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck:

Timothy held unfeigned faith and a good conscience, two of the qualities mentioned in verse 5 as essential to the attainment of love. When we consecrate, our faith is small, but it should grow.

Our conscience has been tenderized to recognize our need of the Savior, but it has to be educated, corrected, and refined by the Word to know what God considers right and wrong.

Failure to do this could make shipwreck of our faith. Our senses need to be faithfully exercised so that we can discern between right and wrong, good and evil (Heb. 5:12-14).

We must desire development and must exercise our mind along these lines so that the Lord will correct us as needed. We should be very interested in developing the capability to make decisions. If we give advice to others and later find that the advice was wrong, we should correct it. If someone comes to us in good faith and asks for advice, and we subsequently realize our advice was wrong, we need to make the correction with the individual and ask for forgiveness from the Lord. The advice we give may pertain to a crisis in the individual’s life.

1 Tim. 1:20 Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme.

Paul named two individuals as blasphemers, Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom he had delivered unto Satan. They blasphemed by contradicting Paul’s message with regard to Jesus being the true Messiah, the Savior, the only way to salvation. Already consecrated, they were not holding to the faith and taught either pagan ideas or the concept of mandatory obedience to both Christ and the Law.

Comment: Paul also referred to Hymenaeus and Alexander in his second epistle to Timothy. He said, “But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some” (2 Tim. 2:16-18). Later he added, “Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works: Of whom be thou ware also; for he hath greatly withstood our words” (2 Tim. 4:14,15). Through excommunication, Hymenaeus and Alexander were given the opportunity to learn not to blaspheme, but the situation did not look very hopeful.

Reply: Hymenaeus and Alexander believed in Christ to start with but later deflected by advocating other views, and eventually they opposed even the Apostle Paul himself. They began to teach wrong doctrine, theorizing on other subjects to the detriment of Paul, who wrote 1 and 2 Thessalonians to try to correct the erroneous teaching that the resurrection was past. When Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians was misunderstood, he had to write a second letter to counteract both the slant put on his first letter and the current thinking among the brethren about the awakening of some of the sleeping saints at the time of Jesus’ crucifixion, as recorded in Matthew 27:51-53. “And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; … and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection … into the holy city [on the third day], and appeared unto many.” This account actually happened. Except for the words omitted above, this text is genuine, for it appears in the Sinaitic manuscript.

Comment: The naming of Hymenaeus and Alexander gives us authority to name an individual who has been excommunicated. Following a disfellowshipping procedure by a class, the matter becomes public.

Reply: Yes. Because Hymenaeus and Alexander were teachers and thus proponents of a damaging teaching, it was necessary for the brotherhood at large to know of the matter. In regard to 1 Corinthians 5, it was not necessary to name the individual because he was not a teacher and only a local area was affected. Travel was not so extensive back there. Today the name of any individual would probably have to be made known.

Evidently, many in the apostles’ day felt that perhaps they had erred in accepting Christ because he was of the tribe of Judah and not of the tribe of Levi. The Jewish thinking was coming back and beginning to percolate in their minds. We believe Paul wrote the Book of Hebrews because he felt the need to combat not an individual but a widespread situation that was developing and fermenting more and more. Thus he wrote a calm, logical, reasonable, comprehensive treatise to refute, with Scripture, the false idea that to be the Messiah, Jesus had to be of the tribe of Levi. Usually those who deflect from the truth do so in a gradual way that is not obvious until an act occurs which is more flagrant and discernible by others.

Delivering one over to Satan is something like what Jesus said to Judas at the Memorial. The Master’s perfect comment was, “That thou doest, do quickly,” for Judas had to make a decision at the very moment (John 13:27). Jesus was saying, “Do not procrastinate at this critical state. What you will do, do NOW.” Jesus’ words could have worked either way, but Judas reacted improperly—he left to betray Jesus and get the 30 pieces of silver. The Great Company will also have to come to a decision at the end of the age. When that crisis comes to their life, they will not be able to procrastinate.

Apparently, the excommunication did not profit Hymenaeus and Alexander because they continued on in their sin, and we do not hear of their retrieval. The purpose of turning one over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh is just as Paul said—“that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus” (1 Cor. 5:5). The hope is that the individual will make a proper decision so that the flesh might be destroyed. Prophetically speaking, at “X” date in the near future, in a very critical situation, the entire Great Company will be turned over to Satan. The purpose will be to force them to make a decision. Those who respond properly and firmly adhere to that decision will reap the salvation of the spirit. Those who do not respond properly will make shipwreck of their faith.

Q: Is it possible to see a class who are headed for the point of no return?

A: Yes. All of the consecrated are called to the high calling, but a time will come when the Church is complete and God is dealing only with the Great Company class. Of the consecrated who are left behind when the door is shut, a Judas class will be separated out. In other words, when the Great Company class are turned over to Satan, some will resist him and some will become his, ending up in a destiny of destruction.

1982 with excerpts from a 1999 study

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