Do not be Ashamed of the Testimony of Jesus Christ.
Paul begins this letter with a standard greeting. " I am Paul an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God". (1 Sam 15:17). He testified of himself as “the least of all saints, the least of the apostles and the chief of sinners” (Eph 3:8; 1 Cor 15:9; 1 Tim 1:15). He was converted and commissioned by Christ to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ (Acts 9:15). Paul had all qualifications of an Apostle. He was called, appointed by the risen Christ (1 Cor 12:8-11, Act 1:22; 2 Cor 12:12). Paul is an apostle by divine initiative (Gal 1:15). No one can take this honor for himself. All servants of God must have the confidence that they are called and commissioned to serve the Lord. Natural gift and ability alone do not qualify spiritual leadership. The Lord is looking for spiritual leaders in every generation. In his greeting Paul addresses Jesus as Christ Jesus three times. When other apostles speak of Jesus as Jesus Christ, Paul usually calls him Christ Jesus. May be it is because Paul was converted and commissioned by the glorified risen Savior. Paul was called to proclaim the life transforming gospel that is in Christ Jesus. “For whoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Rom 10:13). This is the preacher’s message and the hope of this world.
Beloved Son in Faith: 1:2.
This letter is addressed to Timothy. Timothy was Paul’s beloved son in faith. Paul was his spiritual father. Most probably, Timothy got saved during Paul’s first missionary journey (Acts 14). During Paul’s second missionary journey, he selected Timothy to become his travel companion (Acts 16:1-5). Later Timothy became one of the leaders of the early church. Timothy had a good testimony among the believers (Acts 16:2). He was a fellow worker (Rom 16:21). There was no one like Timothy who cared about the church and concerned for the welfare of believers (Phil 2:20). He was like minded. He was young, physically weak and naturally timid (1 Tim 4:12; 5:22; 2 Tim 1:7; 1 Cor 16:10, 11). Yet he was useful to the Lord. God is looking for our availability rather than our ability. Paul wishes Timothy grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus the Lord. Only in Paul’s pastoral epistles, these three blessings appear. Grace for trails (2 Cor 12:9), mercy for failures ( Psalms 103:8-10) and peace in times of danger and doubts
(John 14:27). These are words of encouragement. Verse 2 shows that Jesus Christ is coequal with the Father. Paul shows his deep affection to Timothy who is in the ministry. The older a servant of God gets, he would show more appreciation for young servants of God.
Prayer for Timothy: 1:3-5.
Paul prayed for Timothy day and night. He was a man of prayer. Our ministry must be characterized by prayer. This speaks of Paul's intimacy with Timothy. Prayer is more than asking for needs in prayer. Our prayer must include thanksgiving, adoration and confession of sin. Prayer is believer’s life line to God. A praying church will be a dynamic church. Prayer is not supplemental but fundamental in any ministry. Timothy’s effectiveness in the ministry must be attributed to Paul’s prayer for him. Do we pray for the blessings of the ministry among us? Paul encourages Timothy by reminding him, how thankful he is for the sincere faith and his love for Paul. Encouragement must come before exhortation in any ministry. Thankfulness is not characteristic of our days (3:1). Timothy’s faith was influenced by his grandmother and his mother. His faith was a sincere faith. Faith accepts what God reveals and submit to his will. It was a faith in the person and the work of Christ. This faith comes by grace through faith. This is a life transforming work in the believers. The ground of our faith is Christ. And faith is simply the empty hand that reaches out to receive the gift from God. Faith is not, giving mental assent to some doctrines. It is believing in the promises of God and committing us to the one who made the promises. It is a privilege to have godly parents. Paul’s prayer was from his clear conscience. Clear conscience is the result of confessing our sins (Heb 9:14; 1 John 1:9). There is only one God and one mediator between God and men (1 Tim 2:4). What a privilege to have a praying church behind the ministry.
Paul’s Exhortation: 1:6.
Paul encourages Timothy to remain faithful in his ministry by stirring up the spiritual gift he has received. Paul in his first letter appeals Timothy, not to neglect the gift given to him (1 Tim 4:14). It was made known to him by inspired prophets and by laying of hands by elders. The laying of hands was only a symbolic action. Every Christian is gifted (1 Cor 12:7, 11). It is their responsibility to know their gift and use it for the edification of the church. We are gifted according to God’s grace to serve others (1 Cor 12:6-13). Gifts are given to be used and they are not to be put under bushel or buried (Matt 5:15; 25:25). When gifts are not used the Holy Spirit is quenched, suppressed, despised and belittled (1 Thess 5:19, 20). This is an exhortation given to all believers. Many believers do not exercise their gift due to discouragement and fear of failure. We should not neglect opportunities for the ministry and bury our spiritual gifts. Believers should be encouraged to rekindle their gifts for the benefit of others.
The Spirit of Power, Love and Self-control: 1:7.
For God has not given us the spirit of fear but of power and of love and of self control (1:7). Timothy was young and probably timid in nature (1 Tim 4:12; 1 Cor 16:10, 11). God can’t use a fearful servant (Judges 7:3). Fear comes from Satan and it must be resisted (Matt 16:23). Jesus said to Peter, get behind me Satan! You are a hindrance. We are exhorted to humble ourselves to God and resist the devil. Then he will flee from us (James 4:7). Paul wanted Timothy to know that God has given us the power to serve Christ. Our ministry should be the demonstration of Spirit and power of God (1 Cor 2:4; Acts 1:8). Also God has given us the Spirit of love. This love motivates us to serve others sacrificially. Perfect love expels all fear (1 John 4:18). Without love our gifts become unprofitable and offensive to others. God has not given us a spirit of confusion but of sound mind. The word "sound mind" here means, disciplined or self controlled mind. A Spirit filled person is a self controlled person. He is sound minded and able to make balanced judgment, contrary to what we observe today in many places.
Timothy, Do not to be Ashamed of the Gospel of Christ: 1:8-10.
Paul exhorts Timothy, not to be ashamed of the proclamation of the gospel nor of Paul. He should be ready to suffer with Paul for the gospel by the power of God (1:8). Gospel is the good news that God saves sinners who could not save themselves. It tells us what went wrong with us and how selfish we are. Gospel saves us from the penalty and pollution of sin. At that time preaching the gospel was a crime and Christians were imprisoned for that. Many were afraid of persecution and turn away from Paul (4:10). Paul was not ashamed of the gospel (Rom 1:16; 2 Tim 1:12). We are saved by the grace which existed before the beginning of time in Christ (1:9). It is now manifested through the appearing of Jesus Christ. He died to abolish the death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel (1:11). He has delivered us from the guilt and the power of sin. One day we will be delivered from the presence of sin. We received the holy calling to enjoy God’s salvation and serve Him. He saved us not because we deserve it. But when the kindness and the love of God appeared through Christ He saved us (Titus 3: 4, 5). For God's own purpose He saved us to live a holy life (1:9). God planned it before the world began to show His love and kindness to us through Christ. Salvation is of God. We are saved by grace alone, through faith alone and in Christ alone. The fear of death kept humanity under the bondage of Satan. Christ has brought life and immortality to those who believe in him. Christians are free from that fear because they are in Christ (Rom 8:1). Now they are being saved from the power of sin. When Christ returns, they will be saved even from the presence of sin. In the Old Testament period, people had some understanding of life after death but only through Christ's death and resurrection, it is fully revealed. Christ's grace provides not only forgiveness of sin but also the power for our daily living (Rom 1:16,17).
Gospel is the Sacred Treasure: 1:11-14.
Paul knew that he was divinely appointed to be a preacher, an apostle and a teacher of Gospel (1:11). Paul was sure of his calling and commissioning. He had seen the risen Christ, received the divine commission to be an apostle and was inspired to write the scriptures. The responsibility of an apostle is to formulate the New Testament truth and pass it on to others. He provides the historical account of the events and gives the doctrinal interpretation of it. Preacher is the one who proclaims the gospel with insight, clarity and relevance. Preaching is not less than teaching. Preaching included teaching plus appealing. It is divine dialog between God and man. An apostle is one who has been sent by Christ with power and authority. Teacher gives understanding or insight of the truth. Teacher explain the truth such a way that others can understand it. He explains the truth clearly, plainly and accurately. How humbling and awesome responsibility! Paul was not ashamed of the gospel and willing to suffer for it. He knew beyond any doubt that this gospel is committed to him. He also knew that Christ is able to guard what has been committed to him (1:12). He was confident that one day Christ will reward him for his faithful service at the judgment seat of Christ (1:12). Paul exhorts Timothy to hold on to the healthy teaching he received from him. Christian life should be a life of faith and love. This is not only the love towards God but also towards the lost and needy world. “Love” is Christian’s job description (1 Cor 13; Col 1:4). Timothy's responsibility is to guard the truth by the Holy Spirit who dwells in him. All believers are indwelt by the Holy Spirit (Rom 8:9). We can’t do that in our own strength but by the indwelling Holy Spirit. It is a tragedy that truth is compromised by many preachers. We can guard the truth by believing it firmly and proclaiming it faithfully. We can remain true to the Word only when there is a conscious dependence on the Holy Spirit (1 John 2:27).
Beware of False Teachers: 1:15.
In order to encourage Timothy, Paul gives two examples. One is a warning and the other is an encouragement. All in Asia turned away from me (1:15). This is one of the saddest verses in the New Testament. May be they feared for their own safety. They were instructed people but they left their first love (Rev 2:4). Paul was saddened that these professing Christians deserted him when he needed them the most. We do not know much about Phygellus and Hermogenes. They were well known for their apostasy. It seems their turning away was more doctrinal than personal. Paul charges Timothy to be beware of such men and their false teaching. In spite of apostasy and discouragement, Paul was not ashamed of the gospel because it has transformed his life. May God strengthen us to remain faithful to his Word.
Example of Onesiphorus: 1:16-18.
Paul encourages Timothy to remember Onesiphorus and follow his example. God is faithful that he provides comfort and encouragements to his servants in times of need. Only twice we read about Onesiphorus (1:16; 4:19). He often refreshed Paul when he was at Ephesus. "He was not ashamed of my chain" (1:16). When he came to Rome, he searched me everywhere until he found me (1:17). He is a faithful and loyal servant of God. His faith was a committed faith, consistent faith, initiating faith and determined faith. Paul prayed that the Lord would reward Onesiphorus for his faithful service at the judgment seat of Christ. Also Paul prayed that God may grant mercy to the household of him because they sacrificed much for the sake of the gospel. What an evangelistic family! The evangelists often travel to preach the gospel and miss their family. Very few people realize the problem and pressure they face. Every believer has a part in the advancement of the gospel. Someone has said, "Cleverness, eloquent and orthodoxy will be forgotten but an act of kindness done in Christ’s name will be remembered for generations to come". What lessons we can take away from Onesiphorus? You don’t have to famous to be important. Secondly true commitment has no boundary. Commitment always starts with us and not with others, and will not ask what we get. Commitment takes initiative and determination to succeed. It is easy to be ashamed of the gospel in this pluralistic society. But God wants us to be committed to him and to his message and to his messengers. God is not unjust to forget the labor of love which you have shown to his servants (Heb 6:10). May God help us!