Paul‘s instructions concerning Doctrines and Duties: 1:1-20
Apostle Paul begins the epistle with a standard greeting. He introduces himself as an apostle of Jesus Christ. He was converted and commissioned by Jesus Christ (Acts 9:15). Once he was the persecutor and now he is the preacher of the gospel. His old name was Soul which means “little” ( 1 Sam 15:17). Paul considers himself as the “Least of all saints”, ‘The chief of sinners” and "Least of all apostles" ( Ephesians 3:8; 1 Tim 1;15; 1 Cor 15:9). Apostle means “send one”. They were appointed by Christ, must have seen the risen Christ, endued with miraculous power and must be inspired to write the scriptures (1 Cor 12:8-11; 15:8,9; 2 Cor 12:12). The apostles and prophets were the foundation of the church. They proclaimed the truth about Christ and laid the foundation of the church. Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone ( Ephesians 2:20). There are no apostle in that sense today. Paul is an apostle not by self initiative but by divine appointment ( Gal 1:15,16). Apostles were called to preach Jesus Christ the only hope for the future ( Col 1:27). If we have no hope, we are of all people most miserable ( Cor 15:19). Timothy means “He who honors God”. He is called “My true son in the faith”. Perhaps Timothy got saved during Paul’s first missionary visit to Lystra (Act 14:6-20). Timothy was a fellow worker, beloved son and like- minded believer(Rom 16:21; 2 Tim 1:2; Phil 2:20). Paul greets Timothy with grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. Grace for trials and service, mercy for failures, and peace in times of distress and doubts (2 Cor 12:9; Lam 3:22,23; John 14:27). These blessings come from God the Father and Jesus Christ our Lord (James 1:17). The deity of Christ is implied in this greeting.
Warning against False Teachers: 1:3-4.
When Paul went to Macedonia, he left Timothy at Ephesus to teach and warn believers against false teachers. Also they needed instruction on how they ought to behave in the church which is the household of God (3:15). Only correct doctrines lead to correct behavior. Paul emphasizes the importance of the purity, the purpose and the preservation of the doctrine. Timothy was instructed to take a strong stand against false teachers to protect the church from false doctrine (1:3-7). Many scholars think that the church of Ephesus was facing the false doctrines of legalism and Gnosticism. These doctrines were full of legend and genealogies, myth and fanciful stories. Some scholar think that perhaps they refer to rabbinical teachings and the allegorical interpretations of the Old Testament. Teachings of cults are always characterized by these things. False teaching will lead to doubts, speculations and ungodliness.
The purpose of sound teaching:1:5.
The study of the Word of God is not to stir doubts but faith in Jesus Christ. Timothy was instructed that the purpose of his ministry is to help believers to be filled with love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and sincere faith. Love is the acid test of our faith. Love never brings division and contention among believers. Our God is not the author of confusion and doubts (1 Cor 14:33). Do we love God, fellow believer and people who do not know Christ? Believers are cleansed by the blood of Christ and our love must spring from a pure heart. If one’s inner life is unclean, he can’t love with a pure heart. Good conscience is produced when we are free of offense towards God and men. Clear conscience is the result of confessing sins. Sincere faith is always genuine and it never pretends to be what it is not.
False Teachers Twist the Truth:1:6-11.
Paul urges Timothy to confront the false teachers. They do not have the proper understanding of the law. The purpose of the law was to confront and expose sin. Paul provides a list of sins the law reveals and shows how they contrast with gospel of God (1:8-11). They twist the truth and bring great harm to the body of church by causing division and ungodliness. These false teachers claim that they are the teachers of the Law. They teach that faith in Christ is not sufficient for salvation. They don’t realize that salvation is by grace through faith in Christ and not by good works. Good works are the result of salvation (Ephesians 2:8-10). The Law is holy and good (Rom 7:12). It reveals the moral character of God. When law is used lawfully it will produce conviction of sin and will lead us to Christ (Gal 3:24; Rom 3:24, 25; 10:4). The Law was not given for the just but for the ungodly. If a man is righteous, he does not need the Law. Christians are not under the law but under grace. But they are not lawless. They are controlled by the Holy Spirit (Gal 3:1-5; Titus 2:11). They live godly life not because of the fear of punishment but motivated by the love of Christ. The list of sins mentioned in verses 9 and 10 have a close connection with the Ten Commandments. The law always harmonize with the gospel. Paul reminds Timothy that this is the Gospel of the glory of the blessed God (1:11). It is the message of God’s infinite love and grace offered in Christ. In love God reveals our sin in his Word.
Christ Jesus Came to Save Sinners. 1:12-17.
This is one of the greatest gospel passage. Paul was grateful for his conversion and his commission. He realized that his salvation and ministry was obtained through the enabling grace and mercy of God. Formerly Paul was a persecutor blasphemer and injurious to the followers of Christ. He did it in ignorance and thus obtained mercy (Act 26:9). Paul’s example shows that religious zeal is not enough, it must be combined with truth. Regardless of what Paul did before, the grace of the Lord was abundant towards him. Along with grace he received faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. Where sin abounded, grace abounded much more (Rom 5:20). Paul gives thanks for entrusting him with the gospel. This gospel is the faithful saying because it is the word of God. It is worthy of acceptance because it applies to all. This gospel is “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1:15). The primary purpose of Christ’s coming was not to teach nor to preach or to do miracles nor to be an example but to save sinners. He came to do what we could not do for us. He came to save us. Paul realized that he was the chief of sinners but God was merciful toward him. No matter how wicked we are, we are not beyond God's saving grace. Paul thanked God for his wonderful grace. Are you thankful to God for his grace and mercy? Paul's salvation reveals that God is willing to save even the worst sinner.
Timothy was entrusted with the responsibility to deal with the false teachers who are disrupting the church with false teaching (1:18). Paul reminds Timothy of the recognition he received by prophetic utterance for the ministry. (4:14). This would give Timothy the confidence to warn believers against false teachers. The spiritual warfare should be fought by staying true to the Word of God and having a good conscience. Five times in the Pastoral Epistles Paul speaks concerning the good conscience. Clear Conscience is maintained by confessing sins consistently (1 Cor 11:31; 1 John 1:9). Paul point out two false teachers in particular. They are "Hymenaeus and Alexander". They rejected the sound teaching and have shipwreck their faith. Perhaps their false teaching might have corrupted the church (2 Tim 2:17). They were handed over to Satan by excommunicating them from the church so that they may learn not to blaspheme God (1 Cor 5:3-5). Church discipline must be always for corrective purposes (Matt 18:15). someone has said that "Shipwreck begins with small unconfessed sins". Correct behavior begins with correct doctrine. Pray for wisdom and courage to stand firm on the perfect, reliable and the timed tested Word of God.