1 Timothy
1-4 Blessing and Exhortation 5-7 The Purpose of the Commandment 8-11 The Law and the Gospel 12-14 The Past and Now 15-17 Honor and Glory To God 18-20 Prophecies and the Good Fight
Blessing and Exhortation

1Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus according to the commandment of God our Savior, and of Christ Jesus, [who is] our hope, 2to Timothy, [my] true child in [the] faith: Grace, mercy [and] peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. 3As I urged you upon my departure for Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus so that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines, 4nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation rather than [furthering] the administration of God which is by faith.

V11Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus according to the commandment of God our Savior, and of Christ Jesus, [who is] our hope,. Paul is the sender. He points at his apostleship. “Apostle” means one who is sent. He is sent by “Christ Jesus”. The name of his Sender makes clear Who the Lord Jesus is as He is now in heaven (‘Christ’) and as He once was in humiliation on earth (‘Jesus’). The Lord Jesus is made ‘Christ’ by God, after He had been despised as ‘Jesus’ by men, and fulfilled the work on the cross (Acts 2:3636Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified.”). What surely will happen someday, is that every being in the universe will bow his knee to Jesus and confess Him to be Lord (Phil 2:10-1110so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth,11and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.).

Paul has already bowed his knees. He submitted himself to the Lord Jesus. Paul’s apostleship is not something he himself chose. He didn’t apply for it. He is an apostle, because he received a “commandment”, an order for it from authoritative Persons. It is not possible to avoid such an order. He neither desires to do that (cf. 1Cor 9:17b17For if I do this voluntarily, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have a stewardship entrusted to me.). He pursued with tenacity and strength to accomplish his task (cf. 1Cor 9:19-2119For though I am free from all [men], I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more.20To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law;21to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law.).

His Commanders are two Divine Persons. The names of these Persons are most telling. They indicate that God’s people are in degradation. God called Himself “Savior” in Isaiah 45 (Isa 45:1515Truly, You are a God who hides Himself,
O God of Israel, Savior!
) when the end of Israel is near. A Savior or Redeemer is needed when the end of the existence of a nation or a man has come into view. How great is God that He right then is also willing to present Himself like that (Lk 1:4747And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
; 1Tim 2:33This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,; 4:1010For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers.; Tit 1:33but at the proper time manifested, [even] His word, in the proclamation with which I was entrusted according to the commandment of God our Savior,; 2:1010not pilfering, but showing all good faith so that they will adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect.; 3:44But when the kindness of God our Savior and [His] love for mankind appeared,; Jude 1:2525to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, [be] glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.).

Paul also draws Timothy’s attention to “Christ Jesus, [who is] our hope”. When all hope seems to be gone for God’s people in general that everything will turn out well, you may know that for you personally the situation is really not hopeless. When the Person of Christ Jesus is your only hope in this time of degradation, you will surely be able to manage in a special way to the honor of God and the Lord Jesus in the midst of degradation.

Summarizing you could say that when everything has failed, the faithful believers will not put their trust in churches, elders or whosoever, but will be occupied with God their Savior and with Christ Jesus their Hope. Such faithful believers you come across for example in the book of Malachi (Mal 3:1616Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, and the LORD gave attention and heard [it], and a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the LORD and who esteem His name.) and in Luke 1 and 2. There you find a situation that God’s people do not think of God anymore, but only of themselves. There are just a few who take account of God and expect their redemption from Him and who put their hope on Him.

V22to Timothy, [my] true child in [the] faith: Grace, mercy [and] peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.. The letter is addressed to Timothy. I already said some things about him in the introduction. Paul calls him his “true son in the faith”. Timothy is his spiritual son. He has conceived him through the gospel (cf. 1Cor 4:1515For if you were to have countless tutors in Christ, yet [you would] not [have] many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel.; Gal 4:1919My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you—). But also in his life as a believer Timothy is his son. Timothy has seen and learnt so much of ‘father’ Paul (2Tim 3:1010Now you followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance,) that Paul sees a lot of himself in Timothy. He has the same mind (Phil 2:2020For I have no one [else] of kindred spirit who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare.) and his ministry is fully in line with the ministry of Paul (1Cor 4:1717For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, who is my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, and he will remind you of my ways which are in Christ, just as I teach everywhere in every church.; Phil 2:19-2219But I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, so that I also may be encouraged when I learn of your condition.20For I have no one [else] of kindred spirit who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare.21For they all seek after their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus.22But you know of his proven worth, that he served with me in the furtherance of the gospel like a child [serving] his father.).

Then the blessing follows. In the salutation of all the letters to the churches it is always ‘grace and peace’, but here the blessing is “grace, mercy [and] peace”. “Mercy” is added to the common blessing. That’s actually very characteristic for a letter to a person. You also see that in the second letter to Timothy, in the letter to Titus and in the second letter of John, which are all addressed to a person.

‘Grace’ makes clear that you are totally dependent on God, in order to live to His honor. There is nothing present in you that could be pleasing to God. It is important to be aware of that, for only then you are in the right attitude to make use of the grace that God wants to give you abundantly.

You can expect ‘mercy’ from God with a view to the miserable situation you find yourself in. He wants to help you when you are in need and to get up when you have stumbled.

‘Peace’ is the inner rest you have when you trust on God (Isa 26:3-43“The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace,
Because he trusts in You.
4“Trust in the LORD forever,
For in GOD the LORD, [we have] an everlasting Rock.
).

For receiving these three blessings Paul draws Timothy’s attention to the source of them. They come “from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord”. In verse 11Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus according to the commandment of God our Savior, and of Christ Jesus, [who is] our hope, God is presented as Savior. Now you hear about God the Father. This is to encourage you while you have to fight against so many things around you. You are always welcome to the Father to tell Him about your difficulties, worries, struggles and desires.

In verse 11Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus according to the commandment of God our Savior, and of Christ Jesus, [who is] our hope, you read about Christ Jesus as your Hope. Now you hear that He is ‘Lord’. He has authority over your life. If you want to live up to that you go to Him for grace, mercy and peace.

V33As I urged you upon my departure for Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus so that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines,. Timothy receives from Paul the order to stay in Ephesus, while he himself travels further to Macedonia. The way Paul is saying this to Timothy makes clear that he has to insist softly to keep him there. The order was not quite that simple after all for a timid young man like Timothy. The reason for this order is that the enemy is trying to introduce several forms of evil in the church of Ephesus. And let me warn you that the enemy knows how to use cunning speakers, people who are not easily brought to order. Against those speakers Timothy had to act.

You might think: ‘Ephesus was such a great church where nothing was wrong, wasn’t it? They knew the teachings, didn’t they? Had not Paul taught the highest truths of Christendom there?’ Nevertheless, you see here that having the knowledge of the highest truths is no guarantee to be kept from false doctrines. If you don’t remain in the grace of God, you will go astray. Only by being aware of the grace of God for knowing what you know you are kept from that.

Therefore Timothy has to stop the wrong doctrines that “certain men” are teaching in Ephesus. He was not to ask those ‘some’ kindly to stop their unedifying occupations. There should absolutely be no tolerance towards another doctrine that is contrary “to sound teaching” (verse 1010and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching,). People who are guilty of such things are to be ordered “not to teach strange doctrines”.

V44nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation rather than [furthering] the administration of God which is by faith.. You can see the effects of that ‘other doctrine’ in several ways. The ways these effects appear are described in verses 4-114nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation rather than [furthering] the administration of God which is by faith.5But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.6For some men, straying from these things, have turned aside to fruitless discussion,7wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions.8But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully,9realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers10and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching,11according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted.. In all cases it is about a doctrine that is contrary the doctrine of the Scripture (cf. Gal 1:77which is [really] not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.; Acts 20:3030and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.). There is mention of “myths”, “endless genealogies” and “the law”. The teachings that are related to these issues subsequently have their origins in human fantasy, human curiosity and human religiosity. They all stand against the truth that has only one purpose: to present Christ to us.

In verse 44nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation rather than [furthering] the administration of God which is by faith. Paul first deals with the myths and genealogies. ‘Myths’ come forth from the corrupted spirit of man. They are products from human fantasy (2Pet 1:1616For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty.). They are ideas from the world of pagans, although they may contain nice theories from Greek philosophy schools. There should absolutely be no room for that in the church. The command sounds simply: ‘Do not give heed to that.’

The ‘endless genealogies’ is another product of the corrupt spirit of man. Regarding this the command is also: not to give heed to it. Those are teachings of Jews about the descendants of different powers and idols. They serve to make man great and to exclude God. The man who takes heed to that, arrogates himself to be able to explain that all blessing we have received is the result of a process (consider the evolution theory).

By the way, you should not connect this kind of genealogies with the genealogies you find in the Word of God (e.g. 1Chr 1-9; Mt 1:1-171The record of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham:2Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers.3Judah was the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, Perez was the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram.4Ram was the father of Amminadab, Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon.5Salmon was the father of Boaz by Rahab, Boaz was the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse.6Jesse was the father of David the king. David was the father of Solomon by Bathsheba who had been the wife of Uriah.7Solomon was the father of Rehoboam, Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asa.8Asa was the father of Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah.9Uzziah was the father of Jotham, Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah.10Hezekiah was the father of Manasseh, Manasseh the father of Amon, and Amon the father of Josiah.11Josiah became the father of Jeconiah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.12After the deportation to Babylon: Jeconiah became the father of Shealtiel, and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel.13Zerubbabel was the father of Abihud, Abihud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor.14Azor was the father of Zadok, Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud.15Eliud was the father of Eleazar, Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob.16Jacob was the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, by whom Jesus was born, who is called the Messiah.17So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; from David to the deportation to Babylon, fourteen generations; and from the deportation to Babylon to the Messiah, fourteen generations.). Those are inspired by God’s Spirit and they therefore serve God’s purpose.

You are to judge a doctrine by its result, the fruits it produces. When disputes are the result the doctrine is corrupt (Tit 3:99But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and strife and disputes about the Law, for they are unprofitable and worthless.). The religious arena is full of doubters and it echoes only hot air. Sound teachings do not cause disputes, but a sound spiritual growth. Disputes leave the soul in darkness and doubt. They do not give security to the searching soul.

Disputes stand against “the administration of God”. This means: commandments and responsibilities given by God and which are to be fulfilled (Lk 16:2-132And he called him and said to him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an accounting of your management, for you can no longer be manager.’3The manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do, since my master is taking the management away from me? I am not strong enough to dig; I am ashamed to beg.4I know what I shall do, so that when I am removed from the management people will welcome me into their homes.’5And he summoned each one of his master’s debtors, and he [began] saying to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’6And he said, ‘A hundred measures of oil.’ And he said to him, ‘Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.’7Then he said to another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ And he said, ‘A hundred measures of wheat.’ He *said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.’8And his master praised the unrighteous manager because he had acted shrewdly; for the sons of this age are more shrewd in relation to their own kind than the sons of light.9And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by means of the wealth of unrighteousness, so that when it fails, they will receive you into the eternal dwellings.10“He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much.11Therefore if you have not been faithful in the [use of] unrighteous wealth, who will entrust the true [riches] to you?12And if you have not been faithful in [the use of] that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own?13No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”; 1Cor 4:1-21Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.2In this case, moreover, it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy.; 1Pet 4:1010As each one has received a [special] gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.; 1Cor 9:1717For if I do this voluntarily, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have a stewardship entrusted to me.; Eph 3:2,92if indeed you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace which was given to me for you;9and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things;; Col 1:2525Of [this church] I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, so that I might fully carry out the [preaching of] the word of God,). Each child of God, so you too, has a commandment and is responsible to carry that out. And that should happen “by faith, which means in complete trust in Him.

Now read 1 Timothy 1:1-4 again.

Reflection: Do you know your commandment?


The Purpose of the Commandment

5But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 6For some men, straying from these things, have turned aside to fruitless discussion, 7wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions.

V55But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.. Paul gives a detailed explanation on the commandment that Timothy should give to ‘certain men’. When God commands something it always has a purpose. The commandment here is to stop the wrong. The wrong holds up God’s blessing and when it is taken away the blessing can freely flow again. That also includes your personal life. This explanation shows Timothy why he had to directly silence those ‘certain men’ and without any hesitation. Then the way of love is made free again.

Love is the great feature of God. “God is love” (1Jn 4:8,168The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.16We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.). The love of God is poured out in our hearts (Rom 5:55and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.). Wrong teachings block the outflow of that love, while it should freely outflow to God, to the fellow believers and to the fellow men. A wrong teaching always causes corruption, while the love of God always seeks the good for the other person. This love has three sources in the believer. Only when love comes from those sources the purpose of the commandment will be achieved.

The first source is “a pure heart”. Out of your heart spring the issues of life (Pro 4:2323Watch over your heart with all diligence,
For from it [flow] the springs of life.
). Your heart is supposed to be pure. When your heart is not pure, pure love cannot come out of it. If you desire for worldly pleasure, if you enjoy sin, if you are after your own honor, your heart is not pure. In a pure heart there is no place for sin. A pure heart is a heart that lives in communion with God. The ones with a pure heart will see God (Mt 5:88“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.).

The second source is important for the right effectiveness of love and that is “a good conscience”. A good conscience is not a conscience that is not aware of any evil, but more a conscience that functions well. It is a conscience that is trained to make known what is good and what is evil, according to how God judges that, so that you may live up to that. You do not get a bad conscience because of the fact that sin still is in you, but only when the flesh is active in you and you don’t want to judge it.

Through baptism you receive a good conscience (1Pet 3:2121Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you—not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience—through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,). After all, you yourself have been baptized because you acknowledge the judgment of God about everything that doesn’t agree with Him, including yourself in your old nature. By being baptized you admit that you chose the side of the rejected Jesus. You want to follow Him. That is only possible from a good conscience that is connected to your baptism. Then it cannot be the case that you still want to have anything to do with sin (Rom 6:2-32May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?3Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?). In that case you would deny what you have confessed with your baptism and by doing so you would defile your conscience (Tit 1:1515To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled.).

Besides, your conscience is in itself not a measure of good and evil. It should be formed by the Word of God. Just look at Paul. He was not accused in his conscience when he persecuted the church (Acts 23:11Paul, looking intently at the Council, said, “Brethren, I have lived my life with a perfectly good conscience before God up to this day.”). But what he did made him the chief of the sinners (1Tim 1:1515It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost [of all].).

The third source where love should freely flow from is “a sincere faith”. ‘Sincere’ means upright, without feigning. The point is that regarding your faith you should not pretend, that your faith is not an empty confession, but that you trust in God about everything.

V66For some men, straying from these things, have turned aside to fruitless discussion,. When your heart and conscience do not remain in the light of God and when your faith is only keeping up appearances you will deviate from the way of love. Here it is still limited to “some men” (see also verse 33As I urged you upon my departure for Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus so that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines,). With those the sources, just mentioned, are not to be found. Love is missing and God’s work is not being done. Then the contrary will happen: you hear only “idle talk”. This is how you should value all gibberish and empty talk. That’s quite different from being impressed by it.

V77wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions.. And mind you that these folks will try to impress you. They come with nice reasoning and they emphatically appeal to the Bible. Their purpose is not less than to be “the teachers of the Law”. That is what they ‘want’. They act as if they know God’s law and declare themselves to be the only ones who are allowed to teach that. These false teachers consciously take that attitude and have a firm purpose, to which all other things has to be brought into subjection.

He who deviates from love, because the condition of his heart, conscience and faith is not right anymore, becomes liberal or legalistic. The liberal Christian believes only what he can see or reason. In the days of the Lord Jesus the sadducees were like that (Mt 22:2323On that day [some] Sadducees (who say there is no resurrection) came to Jesus and questioned Him,; Acts 23:88For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, nor an angel, nor a spirit, but the Pharisees acknowledge them all.). Liberal Christians lead their lives entirely according to their own view. Those who fall into legalism regulate for themselves and especially for others all kinds of laws that are supposed to guide their lives. In the days of the Lord Jesus the pharisees were like that (Mt 23:44They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with [so much as] a finger.). Legalistic people have regulated a standard of outward characteristics to measure the life of faith for everyone.

By saying these things in this way we run the risk to put ourselves out of firing line. We must be careful not to look at others only to see if they have either of these evil features in their faith lives. We all have something of both principles in ourselves, for we still have the flesh in ourselves. It would be well for us to consider that.

These teachers must have felt very insulted when they heard how Paul described their qualifications as teachers. Just imagine if that happened to you: highly esteeming yourself and boasting about your qualities and then someone comes and wipes that out without any respect. He disqualifies them before Timothy to prevent that he would carefully listen to them even for just a minute. Don’t waste your precious time on people who “do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions”, and want to entertain you with the imaginations of their own mind.

Such people who want to reintroduce the law do not know Who God really is. They are also ignorant about the real condition of man. They do not know the purpose of the law and even less the true character of Christendom. Those are people who support their self-assured notions with a lot of hot air and recommend them as truth. Their rich use of words only publicly exposes their ignorance to everyone who wants to be taught by the Spirit on the basis of the Word.

Each use of the law as an addition to faith, in order to be saved, is a false use of it. This form of misuse is to be found in the roman catholic church. Through the reformation God brought liberation from that false doctrine. God has shown that only by faith a man can be justified. But due to the unfaithfulness of man the devil succeeded to introduce another error within the reformation, namely to make the law a rule of life for the believer. They say it then very beautifully: to do that out of gratitude.

But in both cases people ignore totally the purpose of the law. It is a serious error to assume that some work of man has to be added to the faith in the Lord Jesus, in order to be saved. Just as serious is the error to assume that a child of God is called to keep the law. In both cases the working of the law is being ignored.

I would suggest you to read the letter to the Galatians once more. That letter is a unique explanation about the meaning of the law. The incompatibility of the law and faith and the gospel is shown crystal clear. It is clearly written in that letter that he who puts himself on the foundation of the works of the law puts himself under the curse (Gal 3:1010For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law, to perform them.”). That is a general valid rule that doesn’t allow any exception. It makes no difference whether you misuse the law as a supplement to be saved or as a supplement for your faith to express your gratitude in such a way. In both cases you ignore that you cannot keep the law and that the inevitable result is the curse of the law.

How the law should be used in the right way we shall see in the following section.

Now read 1 Timothy 1:5-7 again.

Reflection: Is your heart pure, your conscience good and your faith sincere?


The Law and the Gospel

8But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully, 9realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers 10and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching, 11according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted.

V88But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully,. Opposite to the ignorance of the so-called ‘teachers of the law’ Paul puts the “we know” of the Christian faith. This is the Christian knowledge that you may possess through good teaching, in contradiction to the false teachers. Only a person who is informed of the truth of God can put everything in the right place.

You do not need to have any doubt regarding the law and the use of it. From verse 88But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully, Paul impressively explains how to understand the law. These verses are of huge importance for the Christian. In general terms, the reformed part of Christianity holds on to the law ‘out of gratitude’. But also regarding the evangelic part of Christianity the stream that makes a plea to reinstate the law, or some parts of it, by keeping them again, is getting broader.

Paul judges both those who engage themselves with fables and genealogies and the teachers of the law. Though there is a huge distinction. The fables and genealogies come forth from the imagination of man, while the law comes from God. Therefore the law is also good (Rom 7:1212So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.). The point in this is how you use the law.

You ought to use the law “lawfully” which means in accordance with the intention of it. So you should know the intention. It is important to bear in mind that the law is given:
1. at Mount Sinai, approximately 2500 years after Adam or 1500 years before Christ, so it was not from creation (Rom 5:2020The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,; Gal 3:1919Why the Law then? It was added because of transgressions, having been ordained through angels by the agency of a mediator, until the seed would come to whom the promise had been made.);
2. to Israel, that is to only one nation (Rom 9:44who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons, and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the [temple] service and the promises,);
3. in order to separate this nation from the other nations (Eph 2:14-1514For He Himself is our peace, who made both [groups into] one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall,15by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, [which is] the Law of commandments [contained] in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, [thus] establishing peace,);
4. as a tutor until Christ (Gal 3:2424Therefore the Law has become our tutor [to lead us] to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith.), which indicates its temporal character.

Furthermore, the power of the law lies in the judgment. The law brings about wrath (Rom 4:1515for the Law brings about wrath, but where there is no law, there also is no violation.) and is the ministry of death (2Cor 3:7,97But if the ministry of death, in letters engraved on stones, came with glory, so that the sons of Israel could not look intently at the face of Moses because of the glory of his face, fading [as] it was,9For if the ministry of condemnation has glory, much more does the ministry of righteousness abound in glory.). The law cannot give the power to fulfill God’s holy demands. It clearly puts sin as a transgression in the light (Rom 3:2020because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law [comes] the knowledge of sin.) and judges without mercy though righteously (Heb 10:2828Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on [the testimony of] two or three witnesses.).

V99realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers. Therefore Paul wants you to realize first “that law is not made for a righteous person”. Just like in the previous verse this ‘knowing’ is the knowing of the Christian truth in contradiction to Judaism. It is the ‘knowing’ that all possess who live by faith and who live in the era of faith.

A righteous person is somebody who by faith in Christ is declared righteous before God (Rom 4:55But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness,; 5:1,91Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,9Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath [of God] through Him.). The law of God cannot possibly be applied to such a person anymore, because Christ has already freed him from all his sins by bearing the judgment Himself over these sins. The demand of the law has had its full effect. Christ went into death. He who believes in Him has gone into death with Him. It is foolishness to apply the law to somebody who is dead.

In addition to that, it is so that the law cannot possibly be fulfilled by anyone. The law is not to blame for that, but man. Every man, whether he is a Christian or not, who puts himself under the law, even if it is out of gratitude, puts himself under the curse by doing that (Gal 3:1010For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law, to perform them.”). The believer is not under the law (Rom 6:1414For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.; 7:4,64Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God.6But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter.; Gal 3:23,2523But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed.25But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.), for he is in Christ (2Cor 5:1717Therefore if anyone is in Christ, [he is] a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.) and Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes (Rom 10:44For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.).

I hope that this is enough to convince you that you, ‘a righteous person’, have got nothing to do with the law as a means to put your relationship with God in order. Whom are you supposed to apply the law to? The law is from God and can be used lawfully (in contradiction to the ‘fables’ of verse 44nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation rather than [furthering] the administration of God which is by faith.) as a sword for the conscience of the sinner. In that way the sinner can be convinced that he is a sinner. Paul highlights a number of categories, in order to conclude with an all comprehending category.

He starts with some categories which he combines with the word “and”. The first couple consists of the “lawless and rebellious”. A ‘lawless’ person is somebody who refuses to recognize any form of authority. A ‘rebellious’ person refuses to obey a command. The law should be presented to such people to make clear to them that they bring God’s wrath upon themselves.

“The ungodly and sinners” form the second couple. An ‘ungodly man’ doesn’t consider God; he doesn’t care about God at all. A ‘sinner’ misses the purpose of God for his life.

With the next couple, the “unholy and profane”, not only is something missing, but it has a negative meaning. An ‘unholy person’ lives in connection with corruption. A ‘profane person’ is not only ungodly, but treats God disrespectfully; he provokes Him by his life style.

The previous couples clearly show the inner corruptness of man and his alienation from God. In the next categories it is about the deeds that come forth from the man who lives in such a condition. These deeds form a direct violation of a command.

Those “who kill their fathers or mothers” violates the fifth commandment (Exo 20:1212“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD your God gives you.). “Murderers” violate the sixth commandment (Exo 20:1313“You shall not murder.).

V1010and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching,. “Immoral men and homosexuals” violate the seventh commandment (Exo 20:1414“You shall not commit adultery.). This commandment regards all sins of sexual nature, regardless of heterosexual sins or homosexuality.

“Kidnappers” violate the eighth commandment (Exo 20:1313“You shall not murder.; 21:1616“He who kidnaps a man, whether he sells him or he is found in his possession, shall surely be put to death.; Deu 24:77“If a man is caught kidnapping any of his countrymen of the sons of Israel, and he deals with him violently or sells him, then that thief shall die; so you shall purge the evil from among you.).

“Liars” and “perjurers” violate the ninth commandment (Exo 20:1616“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.).

After this summary Paul doesn’t conclude the list with ‘every other thing that contradicts the law’. That is important to notice. Instead of that he concludes with a higher measure to determine what sin is. It is “whatever else is contrary to sound teaching”, that is the healthy making doctrine. In that doctrine the holiness of God is fully maintained. That doctrine is pure and without the fusion of strange, human thoughts.

The sins mentioned in the previous verses are not only judged by the law. They are also in contrast with the sound doctrine of the New Testament.

V1111according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted.. That sound doctrine is fully in accordance with “the glorious gospel of the blessed God”. God is the blessed God Who finds all blessing in Himself, but Who also wants men to partake of His blessing through the gospel.

This gospel goes far beyond the law. In the gospel God doesn’t speak by thunder and lightning from Mount Sinai, but therein He speaks in the fullness of His grace and truth in Christ, in order to show mercy to lost sinners. At Mount Sinai His fullness was not seen. There God revealed Himself in His demands, that means in what suits His holiness and righteousness. The ‘glory of God’ on the contrary is the totality of all His perfections that above all became visible in Christ on the cross.

In ‘the glorious gospel’ the glory of God is revealed in Christ (2Cor 4:44in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.). Your eyes have been opened for the glory of God. The sublime effect of this gospel is that you can be more and more changed according to Christ. Therefore you should be occupied with the glory of Christ (2Cor 3:1818But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.).

This gospel has been “entrusted” to Paul. He met that gospel when he was on his way to Damascus (Acts 22:6,116“But it happened that as I was on my way, approaching Damascus about noontime, a very bright light suddenly flashed from heaven all around me,11But since I could not see because of the brightness of that light, I was led by the hand by those who were with me and came into Damascus.). The glory that he then saw is the starting point of his ministry. When Paul speaks about the gospel he mentions full of vivacity that it was entrusted to him. He takes it as a matter of honor that he can proclaim the gospel. Is that also the case with you?

Now read 1 Timothy 1:8-11 again.

Reflection: Mention some differences between the gospel and the law.


The Past and Now

12I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, 13even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; 14and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are [found] in Christ Jesus.

V1212I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service,. The section of verses 12-1712I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service,13even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief;14and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are [found] in Christ Jesus.15It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost [of all].16Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life.17Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, [be] honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. shows the contrast between what is entrusted to Paul and the law. Paul had already said in verse 1111according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted. what was entrusted to him and it impresses him again. Therefore he turns to the Source, the Origin of his service and thanks “Christ Jesus our Lord” for the service that He had entrusted to him. He doesn’t thank Him for the redemption here, but for what the Lord wants to do with him on that basis. Do you also do that?

For that service you are – as Paul is – not dependent on your own strength. If you try that you will surely fail in your service. But the Lord gives strength. Paul is aware of that and it is important that you too are aware. On the one hand you should not work in your own strength. On the other hand there is one thing that indeed has to be present in you, in order to do your service rightly, and that is “faithfulness”.

Because the Lord knew that Paul would be faithful He entrusted him with that service. In his life before his conversion Paul had already shown a high degree of faithfulness and zeal. His deeds were condemnable, but his faithfulness and zeal were exemplary. His conversion has caused that those qualities could be used by the Lord in the service for Him. With what he formerly served to his own honor he now glorifies his Lord.

Paul was not put “into service” by people, but by the Lord (Acts 20:2424But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God.; Gal 1:15-1615But when God, who had set me apart [even] from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, was pleased16to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with flesh and blood,). Human institution is an illegitimate intervention in the rights that the Lord exclusively reserved for Himself.

Therefore you should not wait for an official confirmation by people before you start to do something for the Lord. Older and more mature believers could indeed encourage and advise you in your service. It would be a proof of willfulness if you do not care about that. Nevertheless, the Lord remains your Commanding Officer. He has employed you and you owe responsibility to Him for what you do and for the way you do it.

V1313even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief;. When Paul remembers his past he becomes more grateful that the Lord wants to use him in His service. According to human standards he is the most inappropriate person for a ministry as the one of verse 1111according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted., but according to God’s standards there is no one suitable for that ministry except him (see verse 1616Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life.). He remembers very well that he “formerly was a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor” (see also Gal 1:1313For you have heard of my former manner of life in Judaism, how I used to persecute the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it;).

Do you remember who you were before your conversion? Or if you haven’t experienced such a radical conversion, have you discovered how much sinfulness is hidden in your heart? If you think about your past or about the malice of the thoughts that you can have, doesn’t the grace of God amaze you from time to time? Doesn’t that impress you deeply that He saved you and now wants to use you?

Without pride or loftiness Paul mentions that he was formerly ‘a blasphemer’, which means that he spoke out curses. His deeds were in line with that. He was ‘a persecutor’ of the saints, he chased them and hunted for them. His whole attitude was that of a brutal and criminal man, ‘an insolent man’. He rampaged as a lunatic. From several quotes of Luke or of himself regarding that in Acts you can understand that nothing would give him more pleasure than exterminating all Christians (e.g. Acts 7:5858When they had driven him out of the city, they [began] stoning [him]; and the witnesses laid aside their robes at the feet of a young man named Saul.; 8:33But Saul [began] ravaging the church, entering house after house, and dragging off men and women, he would put them in prison.; 9:1,13-14,211Now Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest,13But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he did to Your saints at Jerusalem;14and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.”21All those hearing him continued to be amazed, and were saying, “Is this not he who in Jerusalem destroyed those who called on this name, and [who] had come here for the purpose of bringing them bound before the chief priests?”; 22:2020And when the blood of Your witness Stephen was being shed, I also was standing by approving, and watching out for the coats of those who were slaying him.’; 26:9-119“So then, I thought to myself that I had to do many things hostile to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.10And this is just what I did in Jerusalem; not only did I lock up many of the saints in prisons, having received authority from the chief priests, but also when they were being put to death I cast my vote against them.11And as I punished them often in all the synagogues, I tried to force them to blaspheme; and being furiously enraged at them, I kept pursuing them even to foreign cities.).

Then, initiated by the word “yet”, the big contrast appears between what he deserved and what he received. Paul acknowledges the mercy that was shown to him, while he rampaged like a mad man against the Lord Jesus. To him “was shown mercy”. He was not familiar to this word formerly. Without any mercy he persecuted the Christians. At that time he was a minister of the law and the law knows no mercy (Heb 10:2828Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on [the testimony of] two or three witnesses.). Now he had obtained it he wishes others to obtain it also (1Tim 1:22to Timothy, [my] true child in [the] faith: Grace, mercy [and] peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.; 2Tim 1:2,16,182to Timothy, my beloved son: Grace, mercy [and] peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.16The Lord grant mercy to the house of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains;18the Lord grant to him to find mercy from the Lord on that day—and you know very well what services he rendered at Ephesus.; Tit 1:44to Titus, my true child in a common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.).

God could show mercy to Paul, because he didn’t know what he was doing when he persecuted the church (cf. Lk 23:3434But Jesus was saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” And they cast lots, dividing up His garments among themselves.; Acts 3:1717“And now, brethren, I know that you acted in ignorance, just as your rulers did also.). He did it “ignorantly”. That doesn’t mean that he was not guilty. He surely was. He had sinned, but with ignorance. He had not willfully resisted against God’s will. He had sinned ‘unintentionally’ and not ‘defiantly’ (Lev 22:1414But if a man eats a holy [gift] unintentionally, then he shall add to it a fifth of it and shall give the holy [gift] to the priest.; Num 15:22-3122‘But when you unwittingly fail and do not observe all these commandments, which the LORD has spoken to Moses,23[even] all that the LORD has commanded you through Moses, from the day when the LORD gave commandment and onward throughout your generations,24then it shall be, if it is done unintentionally, without the knowledge of the congregation, that all the congregation shall offer one bull for a burnt offering, as a soothing aroma to the LORD, with its grain offering and its drink offering, according to the ordinance, and one male goat for a sin offering.25Then the priest shall make atonement for all the congregation of the sons of Israel, and they will be forgiven; for it was an error, and they have brought their offering, an offering by fire to the LORD, and their sin offering before the LORD, for their error.26So all the congregation of the sons of Israel will be forgiven, with the alien who sojourns among them, for [it happened] to all the people through error.27‘Also if one person sins unintentionally, then he shall offer a one year old female goat for a sin offering.28The priest shall make atonement before the LORD for the person who goes astray when he sins unintentionally, making atonement for him that he may be forgiven.29You shall have one law for him who does [anything] unintentionally, for him who is native among the sons of Israel and for the alien who sojourns among them.30But the person who does [anything] defiantly, whether he is native or an alien, that one is blaspheming the LORD; and that person shall be cut off from among his people.31Because he has despised the word of the LORD and has broken His commandment, that person shall be completely cut off; his guilt [will be] on him.’”). What he did was done with a good conscience (Acts 23:11Paul, looking intently at the Council, said, “Brethren, I have lived my life with a perfectly good conscience before God up to this day.”; 2Tim 1:33I thank God, whom I serve with a clear conscience the way my forefathers did, as I constantly remember you in my prayers night and day,).

He intended to serve God by that, he thought that he had to do ‘many things’ contrary to the Name of the Lord Jesus (Acts 26:99“So then, I thought to myself that I had to do many things hostile to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.; Jn 16:22They will make you outcasts from the synagogue, but an hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering service to God.). His opinion was formed according to the religion of his fathers. Through them he had learnt to know the true God. Therefore the only conclusion could be that the Christian faith and the Old Testament faith in the Lord (Yahweh) were opposites. By killing Christians he intended to defend the honor of God. He showed zeal, but without knowledge (Rom 10:22For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge.; Acts 22:33“I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city, educated under Gamaliel, strictly according to the law of our fathers, being zealous for God just as you all are today.). His intensions made him blind for God’s revelation in Christ and it made him the chief of sinners.

Isn’t it perplexing that a man who was taught in the Scriptures in such a way and who had received the best education (at the feet of Gamaliel, Acts 22:33“I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city, educated under Gamaliel, strictly according to the law of our fathers, being zealous for God just as you all are today.), has to say that he did something ‘ignorantly’? Here you have a proof that the best theological education is no guarantee to understand the sound doctrine (cf. 1Cor 2:1414But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.). On the contrary, it may lead to a practice that fully contrasts the Word of God.

He was acting “in unbelief”. In his former deeds there was no trust in God. They were all performances of the sinful flesh, the own ‘I’. Just like God’s stewardship moves within the realm of faith (‘in faith’, verse 44nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation rather than [furthering] the administration of God which is by faith.), just like that the former life of Paul happened in the realm of unbelief. “And whatever is not from faith is sin” (Rom 14:2323But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because [his eating is] not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin.).

V1414and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are [found] in Christ Jesus.. Deeply impressed by the mercy he obtained Paul then speaks about a “grace” that “was more than abundant” (see also Rom 5:2020The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,). He does that, because that grace was given to him as the chief of all sinners. By showing grace to him, it exceeded beyond each limitation a man could think of. His conversion is the proof that the grace of the Lord is greater that the greatest sin. He is the prime example to prove that the patience of God is bigger than the perseverance of His most embittered enemy.

And it is “our Lord” Who gave that grace to him. He doesn’t say ‘my’ Lord, but “our Lord”. In that way he puts Timothy, to whom he addresses in this letter, in the same relation with the Lord like he has, and in the same grace which has become his part. Grace always stands against wage (Rom 4:44Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due.). Grace means fully undeserved merit. A right consciousness of the grace granted will make us dedicated servants.

Together with the grace the Lord gave to him he also gave “faith and love”. That ‘faith’ and that ‘love’ become visible in his life. He lives in full confidence of faith in the Lord and serves Him with all the love from his heart. “In Christ Jesus” his life finds its object and purpose. Ever since Christ Jesus has shown Paul His more than abundant grace, He is the whole atmosphere of his life. Everything that expresses his faith and his love happens from the fellowship with Him.

Now read 1 Timothy 1:12-14 again.

Reflection: Consider what you were formerly and what you have become through the grace of God. In what way is the difference seen in your case?


Honor and Glory To God

15It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost [of all]. 16Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life. 17Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, [be] honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

V1515It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost [of all].. “It is a trustworthy statement.” This beautiful and encouraging expression only appears in the pastoral letters (1Tim 3:11It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires [to do].; 4:99It is a trustworthy statement deserving full acceptance.; 2Tim 2:1111It is a trustworthy statement: For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him;; Tit 3:88This is a trustworthy statement; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God will be careful to engage in good deeds. These things are good and profitable for men.). When every support has fallen away and you seem to stand alone, the statement of the Word of God will never fail you. You can always count on it. Whether it is about the salvation of sinners (here) or in chapter 3:1 about the ministry in the house of God or in chapter 4:9 about Godliness or in 2 Timothy 2:11 about our future or in Titus 3:8 about our inheritance, the statement of the Word of God always gives security and something to hold on to.

Because the Word of God is that faithful it is therefore “deserving full acceptance”. This addition is also to be found in chapter 4:9. And why is it worthy of all acceptance here? Because “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (cf. Lk 19:1010For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”). This truth has not the slightest effect when it is not accepted in faith. There is salvation only for him who believes this undeniable truth (Rom 1:1616For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.).

“The world” indicates the atmosphere the Lord Jesus entered as Man. He not only exchanged heaven for a place on earth, but He entered a world where sin and death rule, the territory where sinners dwell. He came from the wonderful realm of heaven into a realm of darkness, hatred and death, in order to save sinners from that world.

Sinners feel at home in the world as fish in the water. But where the world lies in evil and is ripening for the judgment, the love that God our Savior has for man in Christ Jesus has appeared in the world to save men from this judgment. Before the Lord Jesus came into the world God used all means to enable man to come into connection with Him. However, man failed hopelessly. Then God gave His Son. This is what exactly fully revealed the desperate situation of man, for then his hatred towards God became apparent. At the same time on the contrary, God’s love was also fully revealed.

Paul is better than anyone aware of that. When he thinks of himself as a sinner he could only say “among whom I am foremost [of all]” (cf. 1Cor 15:99For I am the least of the apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.; Eph 3:88To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ,). He wanted to be the active enemy of the faith everywhere, in order to eradicate the Name of the Lord Jesus. He even went to foreign cities to do that (Acts 26:1111And as I punished them often in all the synagogues, I tried to force them to blaspheme; and being furiously enraged at them, I kept pursuing them even to foreign cities.). He stood at the front of the line of those who were filled with hatred towards Christ.

When Paul says that it is without exaggeration, but it is a profoundly conscious experience of his own unworthiness. He neither says ‘of whom I was chief’, but “am”. This consciousness becomes bigger the more he sees the grace of the Lord Jesus.

You see his consciousness grow bigger when he tells about his conversion history. In his conversion there is mention of “a light from heaven” (Acts 9:33As he was traveling, it happened that he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him;). The first time that he testifies to this he tells that “a very bright light … from heaven” shone around him (Acts 22:66“But it happened that as I was on my way, approaching Damascus about noontime, a very bright light suddenly flashed from heaven all around me,). The second time he speaks about “a light from heaven, brighter than the sun” (Acts 26:1313at midday, O King, I saw on the way a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining all around me and those who were journeying with me.). Are you more and more impressed daily by what God has done with you in your conversion?

V1616Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life.. In verse 1313even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; Paul mentions the cause of God’s mercy towards him: he did it ignorantly. Here Paul explains what the purpose is of the mercy shown to him: God wanted to make him a pattern of the expression of grace to all. That is embedded in the words “so that”, which indicates the purpose. The mercy he obtained was therefore not for himself alone, but it also has a meaning to others.

When there is salvation for the chief of sinners there is salvation for everyone. You can compare it to a sluice gate. When the largest ship can go through the sluice gate every other ship is able to go through it also. In his former life Paul is, as it were, the embodiment of all enemies of Christ. Now he has converted to God and believes in the Lord Jesus he is also the representative of those “who would believe in Him”.

God has shown him “perfect patience”. ‘Patience’ indicates how God responds to the kicking and bashing of the rebellious man whom Paul was. God tolerated him when he was fiercely bashing the disciples of the Lord Jesus. The conversion of Paul is the proof that in the battle for the salvation of a sinner God has the longest breath. His patience is perfect.

The salvation of Paul as the chief of sinners is a pattern for every other salvation. Was God’s patience shown to him? Then God’s patience is there for everyone. Paul was the chief, the most zealous and most embittered enemy. And he was saved. Then he is the best and most powerful witness that grace is abundant over sin and that the work of Christ is perfectly capable to remove that sin.

The example of what happened to Paul is not intended to indicate that each conversion should be like that. It is intended to show what God can do. Each conversion happens differently, because the life course of each person is different. God will not judge a person earlier than when His patience is fully shown to that person and because that person doesn’t respond to that. Concerning Paul, His patience has the desired result, a result that God wishes for every sinner (2Pet 3:99The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.).

The eternal life is the part of everyone who believes (Jn 3:1616“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.). That regards to what a person inwardly receives. The Lord Jesus is the eternal life. He who believes, receives Him as his life. But there is also a future aspect. Paul’s view of the eternal life here is something that lies in the future (cf. Tit 3:77so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to [the] hope of eternal life.). When the believer will be with the Lord Jesus in glory he will fully enjoy the eternal life till eternity: the uninterrupted fellowship with the Father and the Son (Jn 17:33This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.).

V1717Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, [be] honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.. The gratitude of verse 1212I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, swells in a praise in verse 1717Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, [be] honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.. Paul is overwhelmed by everything that the Lord has done for him as a sinner and what He did to him by putting him into the service. Praise arises from him for the grace of God. In Romans 11 the wisdom of God is the cause of a praise (Rom 11:33-3533Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!34For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor?35Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to him again?) and in Ephesians 3 he shouts out because of the love of God (Eph 3:14-2114For this reason I bow my knees before the Father,15from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name,16that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man,17so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; [and] that you, being rooted and grounded in love,18may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth,19and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.20Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us,21to Him [be] the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.).

He praises God as “the King eternal”. As ‘King eternal’ God will achieve His aim with all things through the ages. In that way he directs the course of the world history, but also the history of every man. In His great majesty and sovereignty He is exalted above the time and turbulence of the world and people. He has the ages at His disposal. He accomplishes His plan of salvation with creation and with men. Paul has personally experienced that God is ‘the King eternal’.

He honors Him as the “immortal, invisible, … only God”. Immortal means not to be decreased by death and stands against all things that are mortal and corruptible, especially the idols (Rom 1:2323and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.). The same word is used for the bodies of the saints in the resurrection (1Cor 15:5252in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.), for the inheritance of the saints (1Pet 1:44to [obtain] an inheritance [which is] imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,) and for the gentle and quiet spirit of the Godly woman (1Pet 3:44but [let it be] the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.).

God is also “invisible”, which means not to be observed by the eye of man (1Tim 6:1616who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him [be] honor and eternal dominion! Amen.; Rom 1:2020For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.; Col 1:1515He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.; Heb 11:2727By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured, as seeing Him who is unseen.). In Christ He has revealed Himself. That means He made Himself visible (Jn 1:1818No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained [Him].; 14:99Jesus *said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and [yet] you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how [can] you say, ‘Show us the Father’?; Col 1:1515He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.). He also is “the only God” (Jn 5:4444How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and you do not seek the glory that is from the [one and] only God?; 17:33This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.; Jude 1:2525to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, [be] glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.). All other gods are idols, the work of men’s hands. God is absolutely unique in His Being and worthiness.

He is worthy of all “honor and glory forever and ever”. All His dignities that He has revealed, His glory that became visible, are a reason to sing Him praises forever and ever. We are allowed to start with that now already and continue that endlessly.

With a wholehearted “amen”, which means ‘so be it’, Paul concludes his praise. Of course we heartily agree to that.

Now read 1 Timothy 1:15-17 again.

Reflection: Praise God for Who He is, for what He has done for you and what He has made of you. Use the names of God that you have been made familiar with. Tell Him what these names mean to you.


Prophecies and the Good Fight

18This command I entrust to you, Timothy, [my] son, in accordance with the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you fight the good fight, 19keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith. 20Among these are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan, so that they will be taught not to blaspheme.

V1818This command I entrust to you, Timothy, [my] son, in accordance with the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you fight the good fight,. You may say that verses 6-176For some men, straying from these things, have turned aside to fruitless discussion,7wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions.8But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully,9realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers10and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching,11according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted.12I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service,13even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief;14and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are [found] in Christ Jesus.15It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost [of all].16Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life.17Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, [be] honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. are an interruption in the argument of Paul. He clearly showed the difference between law and grace in that section. The command he is speaking of in verse 1818This command I entrust to you, Timothy, [my] son, in accordance with the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you fight the good fight, therefore connects to what he said about that in verse 55But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.. Now to Timothy he explains what the basis is of the command. Besides, he initiates that explanation with the words out of which confidence and fatherly love appear: “This command I entrust to you, Timothy, [my] son.”

It must have been an encouragement for the young Timothy from the elder Paul to be entrusted with a command. Paul doesn’t do that out of favoritism or sentimentality, but because he ‘believes’ in Timothy and he tells him that too. That is very meaningful for Timothy. The Lord has called him, but it is also nice that Paul underlines that. Older believers who are spiritually minded may declare themselves united with the calling and the ministry of a younger believer.

Timothy is reminded of “the prophecies previously made concerning” him for the execution of the command. The command that Paul is giving him is in accordance to that. The issue here is not about exceptional revelations of others concerning Timothy. It is simply about prophecies concerning Timothy by believers who recognize a work of God’s Spirit in him. Timothy has a good testimony for miles around (Acts 16:22and he was well spoken of by the brethren who were in Lystra and Iconium.). When something like that is being noticed then it can be prophesied that he will certainly be used by the Lord.

When you look at the preparation of Timothy regarding his ministry then you can discover four aspects that have played a role:
1. The prophecies previously made (1Tim 1:1818This command I entrust to you, Timothy, [my] son, in accordance with the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you fight the good fight,).
2. The gift of God (1Tim 4:1414Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you, which was bestowed on you through prophetic utterance with the laying on of hands by the presbytery.; 2Tim 1:66For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.).
3. The laying on of the hands of Paul (2Tim 1:66For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.).
4. The laying on of the hands of the eldership (1Tim 4:1414Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you, which was bestowed on you through prophetic utterance with the laying on of hands by the presbytery.).

We shall pay attention to the aspects 2, 3 and 4 when we will be studying the verses regarding to those aspects. Here Timothy is reminded by Paul of the ‘prophecies previously made’ in order to encourage him again. It is an exceptional support in the fulfillment of the responsibility that goes together with the ministry he has to achieve.

He did not accidentally run into this position. Therefore it doesn’t have to be a surprise to others that he is carrying out a command of the apostle. Everyone who knows him has noticed his spiritual growth. Some already saw that in an early stage and must have said: ‘That boy will be very useful to the Lord.’ Others may have only noticed it when his ministry touched them personally. Do you have any idea of what the case is concerning yourself?

With the support of what others have seen in him he can start “the good fight”. Considering the command of verse 33As I urged you upon my departure for Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus so that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines, the good fight (or: struggle) Paul is appealing for here will happen particularly in the house of God with a view to false teachings. The fight against it is a good, honorable and a God pleasing fight.

There are more kinds of struggle you are appealed for after a struggle you have already fought. The latter struggle is that of a sinner to be saved (Lk 13:2424“Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.; Mt 7:13-1413“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it.14For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.). It was particularly a warfare against yourself, against everything that wanted to keep you from confessing your sins to God and to accept the Lord Jesus in faith.

Your fight or struggle as a believer is against things outside yourself. This warfare has different aspects. In this sense you read about
1. the struggle in the gospel (Phil 4:33Indeed, true companion, I ask you also to help these women who have shared my struggle in [the cause of] the gospel, together with Clement also and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.);
2. the struggle against the evil powers etc. (Eph 6:12-1812For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual [forces] of wickedness in the heavenly [places].13Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.14Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,15and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace;16in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil [one].17And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.18With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints,);
3. the striving against sin as a power outside us (Heb 12:4-54You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin;5and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, Nor faint when you are reproved by Him;);
4. the content for the faith which is the truth of the faith (Jude 1:3-43Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.4For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.);
5. the strive in prayers (Rom 15:3030Now I urge you, brethren, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God for me,);
6 the good fight (that includes all the several kinds of struggles or fights previously mentioned (1Tim 1:1818This command I entrust to you, Timothy, [my] son, in accordance with the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you fight the good fight,; 6:1212Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.; 2Tim 4:77I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith;).

You have to do with fight because you find yourself in a hostile area. You are standing before the Lord and you defend His interests and those of your fellow believers. It should never be a fight for your own interests. Another danger is that you avoid the fight. But that is really inappropriate for someone who owes everything to the Lord. I want to believe that you, like I do, want to look like Timothy and that you therefore will not avoid the fight. Therefore you should care about everything that Paul says to Timothy as an encouragement in this context.

V1919keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith.. In this fight your personal “faith” is absolutely essential. The point here is your inner confidence of faith, the perseverance in God’s faithfulness, even when the fight is very fierce. Hold on to your confidence of faith in the fight. Don’t give up on your perseverance in God, how great the pressure may be that the enemy is exerting on you.

An equally important condition to fight the good fight is the possession and preservation of “a good conscience”. The conscience works like a compass that indicates every deviation from the right course. But it is therefore necessary that the needle of the compass points to the Word of God. If the conscience is not pure it will influence the ministry, the fight. The essential power is not fully there and therefore the Holy Spirit cannot work freely.

There is also the possibility that you ‘reject’ a good conscience. That is when you ignore the warnings of the Spirit. These are the warnings that He gives when you want to go or are going the wrong way, or when you make plans according to your own will. This ‘rejecting’ of these warnings is a conscious action; you are doing it yourself. Therefore you yourself are to blame for the “shipwreck”.

When you, despite the warnings you received through your conscience, persevere in your own will it will damage your view upon the content of the truth of the faith. This is what is meant here by “the faith”. It refers to what you believe: the content of your faith, the truth of the faith that is handed to you in God’s Word. ‘Faith’ here actually has a different meaning than ‘faith’ at the beginning of this verse. There it means ‘confidence of faith’ and here it means ‘the truth of the faith’ or ‘the content of the faith’.

When you do not judge the first wrong step before God you will deviate further. The enemy has an easy entrance when there is mention of a bad conscience, because you have allowed evil to enter and you have not judged it. The result is that you will also fail concerning the doctrine of the Scripture. You will distort Scripture quotes and explain and maneuver them in such a way, in order to ease your conscience and to continue your misguided path.

V2020Among these are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan, so that they will be taught not to blaspheme.. Paul gives names of those, whose faith has suffered shipwreck, in particular “Hymenaeus and Alexander”. These people must have been familiar in Ephesus, otherwise naming them wouldn’t be that meaningful. Paul “handed” them “over to Satan”. He was able to do this as an apostle. This he does also at Corinth (1Cor 5:55[I have decided] to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.). Because the issue there was a matter of discipline and chastisement that the church at Corinth had to exert, he expects that the church will agree to that. The obligation of the church is mentioned there (1Cor 5:13b13But those who are outside, God judges. Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.).

The persons mentioned by name have listened to satan. They have been his instruments and they had let themselves to be used by him. They now have to feel who he is whom they had listened to. In this way God makes use of satan himself as a stick to chasten His rebellious children for their own good. Satan becomes their teacher by the means of the pains that he makes them suffer. He gets free reign with such a person, although it is within the limits determined by God (cf. Job 1:1212Then the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your power, only do not put forth your hand on him.” So Satan departed from the presence of the LORD.; 2:66So the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, he is in your power, only spare his life.”).

Satan is always seeking someone’s destruction, while God always seeks salvation for a person. God uses satan to accomplish His plan. The purpose of each chastisement is the restoration of the soul that has deviated.

These people “blasphemed”, something that Paul did before his conversion (verse 1313even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief;). ‘Blaspheming’ is to speak despicably about God, His Word and His people. They must learn not to do that by the chastisement Paul brought upon them by handing them over to satan.

Now read again 1 Timothy 1:18-20.

Reflection: How can you prevent suffering shipwreck concerning the faith?


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