Paul‘s instructions concerning Doctrines and Duties: 1:1-20
Greetings: 1 Timothy 1:1,2.
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 Samuel 15:17). Paul considers himself as the “Least of all saints”, "The chief of sinners” and "Least of all apostles" ( Ephesians 3:8; 1 Timothy 1;15; 1 Corinthians 15:9). Apostle means “sendone”. They were appointed by Christ, must have seen the risen Christ, endowed with power to do miracles and inspired to write the scriptures (1 Corinthian 12:8-11; 15:8,9; 2 Corinthians 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 cornerstone ( Ephesians 2:20). There is no apostle in the primary sense today. Paul is an apostle not by self initiative but by divine appointment ( Galatians 1:15,16). Apostles were called to preach Jesus Christ ( Colossians 1:27). Timothy means “He who honors God''. Paul calls him, “My true son in the faith”. Perhaps Timothy got saved through Paul’s ministry at Lystra (Acts 14:6-20). Timothy was a fellow worker, beloved son and like-minded believer(Romans 16:21; 2 Timothy 1:2; Philippians 2:20). Paul greets Timothy with grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. Grace for trials and mercy for failures, and peace in times of distress and doubts (2 Corinthians 12:9; Lamentations 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 Timothy 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
(1 Timothy 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 Timothy 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, 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 Timothy 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, 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 Corinthians 14:33). The right belief, love for others and glad obedience give assurance of salvation. Do you love God, fellow believers and obey Christ? Believers are cleansed by the blood of Christ (1 John 1:7). 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 toward God and men. Clear conscience is the result of confessing our sins. Sincere faith is always genuine and it never pretends to be what it is not.
False Teachers Twist the Truth: 1 Timothy 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 expose sin and to lead us to Christ. Paul provides a list of sins the law reveals and shows how they contrast with the gospel of God (1 Timothy 1:8-11). They twist the truth and bring great harm to the body of Christ 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 (Romans 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 (Galatians 3:24; Romans 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 (Galatians 3:1-5; Titus 2:11). They live godly life not because of the fear of punishment but are 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 harmonizes with the gospel. Paul reminds Timothy that this is the Gospel of the glory of the blessed God (1 Timothy 1:11). It is the message of God’s infinite love and grace offered in Christ.
Christ Jesus Came to Save Sinners. 1 Timothy 1:12-17.
This is one of the greatest gospel passages. Paul was grateful for his conversion and his commission to preach the gospel. 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 (Acts 26:9). Paul’s example shows that religious zeal is not enough, it must be combined with truth (Romans 10:2). 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 (Romans 5:20). Paul gives thanks for entrusting him with the gospel. "The gospel is the faithful saying, worthy of full acceptance that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1:15). The primary purpose of Christ’s coming was not to teach or to do miracles but to save sinners. He came to do what we could not do ourselves. He came to save us from sin. Paul realized that he was the chief of sinners but God was merciful toward him. No matter how sinful we are, we are not beyond God's saving grace. Paul thanked God for his wonderful grace. Are you thankful to God for his saving grace and mercy? Nobody is outside the reach of God's saving grace in Christ.
Timothy’s Responsibilities: 1 Timothy 1:18-20.
Timothy was entrusted with the responsibility to deal with the false teachers. They were disrupting the work of the Lord in the church with false teaching (1:18). Timothy was a gifted servant of in the ministry. (4:14). This gave him the confidence to warn believers against false teachers. The spiritual warfare should be fought by the Word of God. Five times in the Pastoral Epistles Paul speaks of good conscience. Clear Conscience is maintained by confessing sins to God and living an upright life (1 Corinthians 11:31; 1 John 1:9). Paul points out two false teachers in particular. They are "Hymenaeus and Alexander". They have rejected the sound doctrines and shipwreck their faith. Perhaps they spiritualise the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Their false teaching corrupted the church (2 Timothy 2:17). The false teaching should not be tolerated in the church. They were handed over to Satan by excommunicating them from the church so that they may learn not to blaspheme God (1 Corinthians 5:3-5). Church discipline must be always for corrective purposes (Matthew 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 and reliable Word of God.