1 Timothy 1 Commentary

Introduction to 1 Timothy

“1,2 Timothy and Titus are known as the Pastoral Letters because they give instruction to Timothy and Titus concerning the pastoral care of the churches.  All three letters probably were written not long after the events of Ac 28.

“After his imprisonment in Rome (c. A.D. 60-62), Paul most likely began his fourth missionary journey […] During this trip he commissioned Titus to remain as his representative in Crete, and he left Timothy in charge of the church at Ephesus.  Paul then moved on to Philippi in northern Greece (Macedonia), where he wrote his first letter to Timothy and his letter to Titus (c. 63-65).  Later he traveled to Rome, where he was imprisoned for the second time and where he wrote 2 Timothy shortly before he was executed (67 or 68).”[1]

“During his fourth missionary journey, Paul had instructed Timothy to care for the church at Ephesus(1:3) while he went to Macedonia […] When he realized that he might not return to Ephesus in the near future (3:14-15), he wrote this first letter to Timothy to develop the charge he had given his young assistant (1:3, 18) to refute false teachings (1:3-7; 4:1-8; 6:3-5, 20-21) and to supervise the affairs of the growing Ephesians church (church worship, 2:1-15; the appointment of qualified church elders, 3:1-13; 5:17-25).”[2]

v.2 “Never a man magnified his office as Paul did. He did not magnify it in pride; he magnified it in wonder that God had chosen him for a task like that. Twice in the opening words of this letter he lays down the greatness of his privilege.

(i) First, he calls himself an apostle of Christ Jesus. Apostle is the Greek word apostolos, from the verb apostellein which means to send out; an apostolos was one who was sent out. As far back as Herodotus it means an envoy, an ambassador, one who is sent out to represent his country and his king. Paul always regarded himself as the envoy and ambassador of Christ. And, in truth, that is the office of every Christian. It is the first duty of every ambassador to form a liaison between the country to which he is sent and the country from which he has come. He is the connecting link. And the first duty of every Christian is to be a connecting link between his fellow-men and Jesus Christ.”[3]

vv. 3-4 “What was the nature of these ‘false doctrines’? What is meant by ‘myths and endless genealogies’ (genealogiai)?

“There are two possible answers. In the first place, the reference could be to the vagaries of Gnosticism, with its endless genealogies of aeons between God and man. But v. 7 suggests that these were Jewish teachers, who were caught up in the mythological treatment of OT genealogies. Titus 1:14 speaks of ‘Jewish myths.’ There is abundant evidence that both these features were found in the Judaism of that day, especially in its apocalyptic literature.”[4]

v. 4 “The ancient world had a passion for genealogies. We can see that even in the Old Testament with its chapters of names and in the New Testament with the genealogies of Jesus with which Matthew and Luke begin their gospels. A man like Alexander the Great had a completely artificial pedigree constructed in which he traced his lineage back on the one side to Achilles and Andromache and on the other to Perseus and Hercules.  It would be the easiest thing in the world for Christianity to get lost in endless and fabulous stories about origins and in elaborate and imaginary genealogies. That was a danger which was inherent in the situation in which Christian thought was developing.”[5]

vv. 8-9 “This passage begins with what was a favourite thought in the ancient world. The place of the law is to deal with evil-doers. The good man does not need any law to control his actions or to threaten him with punishments; and in a world of good men there would be no need for laws at all.”[6]

“There should be only one controlling factor in the lives of every one of us. Our goodness should come, not from fear of the law, not even from fear of judgment, but from fear of disappointing the love of Christ and of grieving the fatherly heart of God. The Christian’s dynamic comes from the fact that he knows sin is not only breaking God’s law but also breaking his heart. It is not the law of God but the love of God which constrains us.”[7]

v. 13 “Formerly Paul had been ‘a blasphemer.’ This probably means that in his opposition to the new movement he cursed the name of Jesus. Now he realized that this was blasphemy, because Jesus was divine.

“Paul was also ‘a persecutor.’ This fact is documented abundantly in Acts 8:3; 9:1, 2, 4, 5; 22:4, 5; 26:9-11; Galatians 1:13. In his zeal to protect Judaism, the young Saul believed that he must destroy Christianity.

“Still worse, he was ‘a violent man.’ This is one word, hybristen. This term, found only here and in Romans 1:20, is much stronger than ‘injurious’ (KJV). It refers to insolence and violence (cf. Acts 8:3).”[8]

v. 20 “Paul names two who have been shipwrecked: Hymenaeus and Alexander. The former is mentioned again as a heretical teacher in 2 Timothy 2:17. Two Alexanders are spoken of in connection with Ephesus. The first was a Jew (Acts 19:34). The second is ‘Alexander the metalworker,’ who did Paul a great deal of harm (2Tim 4:14). He may be the one intended here.

“The apostle had handed these two ringleaders ‘over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme.’ The language here is similar to that found in 1 Corinthians 5:5, where it seems to indicate excommunication from the church. The purpose was to jolt the offender into repentance, induced by the fearful thought of being turned over to Satan’s control. Bernard observes, ‘It is certainly a disciplinary or remedial and not a merely punitive penalty in both cases’”[9]


[1] The NIV Study Bible, introduction to the Pastoral Letters  (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1985)  1832.

[2] The NIV Study Bible, introduction to 1 Timothy  (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1985)  1833.

[3] William Barclay, The Letters to Timothy, Titus and Philemon, Barclay’s Daily Study Bible Series CD (Edinburgh, Scotland: The Saint Andrew Press, 1960).

[4] Frank E. Gaebelein, Gen. Ed. Expositor’s Bible Commentary CD, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1992) .

[5] William Barclay, The Letters to Timothy, Titus and Philemon, Barclay’s Daily Study Bible Series CD (Edinburgh, Scotland: The Saint Andrew Press, 1960) .

[6] William Barclay, The Letters to Timothy, Titus and Philemon, Barclay’s Daily Study Bible Series CD (Edinburgh, Scotland: The Saint Andrew Press, 1960).

[7] William Barclay, The Letters to Timothy, Titus and Philemon, Barclay’s Daily Study Bible Series CD (Edinburgh, Scotland: The Saint Andrew Press, 1960).

[8] Frank E. Gaebelein, Gen. Ed. Expositor’s Bible Commentary CD, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1992) notes for 1 Timothy.

[9] Frank E. Gaebelein, Gen. Ed. Expositor’s Bible Commentary CD, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1992) notes for 1 Timothy.

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