Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
USE OF THE
HARMONIZING WITH THE
EXPERIENCE AND TO
1. by the commandment of God--the authoritative
injunction, as well as the commission, of God. In the earlier
Epistles the phrase is, "by the will of God." Here it is
expressed in a manner implying that a necessity was laid on him to act
as an apostle, not that it was merely at his option. The same
expression occurs in the doxology, probably written long after the
Epistle itself [ALFORD]
God our Saviour--The Father
(1Ti 2:3; 4:10;
Tit 1:3; 2:10; 3:4;
It was a Jewish expression in devotion, drawn from the Old Testament
Tit 1:2; 2:13).
2. my own son--literally, "a genuine son" (compare
mercy--added here, in addressing Timothy, to the ordinary salutation,
"Grace unto you
&c.), and peace." In
"peace and mercy" occur. There are many similarities of style
between the Epistle to the Galatians and the Pastoral Epistles (see
perhaps owing to his there, as here, having, as a leading object in
writing, the correction of false teachers, especially as to the right
and wrong use of the law
If the earlier date be assigned to First Timothy, it will fall not long
after, or before (according as the Epistle to the Galatians was written
at Ephesus or at Corinth) the writing of the Epistle to the Galatians,
which also would account for some similarity of style. "Mercy" is grace
of a more tender kind, exercised towards the miserable, the
experience of which in one's own case especially fits for the Gospel
MINISTRY. Compare as to Paul himself
(1Ti 1:14, 16;
[BENGEL]. He did not use "mercy" as to the
churches, because "mercy" in all its fulness already existed towards
them; but in the case of an individual minister, fresh measures of it
were continually needed. "Grace" has reference to the sins of
men; "mercy" to their misery. God extends His grace to
men as they are guilty; His "mercy" to them as they are miserable
Jesus Christ--The oldest manuscripts read the order, "Christ Jesus."
In the Pastoral Epistles "Christ" is often put before "Jesus," to give
prominence to the fact that the Messianic promises of the Old
Testament, well known to Timothy
were fulfilled in Jesus.
3. Timothy's superintendence of the Church at Ephesus was as
locum tenens for the apostle, and so was temporary. Thus, the office
of superintending overseer, needed for a time at Ephesus or Crete, in
the absence of the presiding apostle, subsequently became a permanent
institution on the removal, by death, of the apostles who heretofore
superintended the churches. The first title of these overseers seems to
have been "angels"
As I besought thee to abide still--He meant to have added, "so I
still beseech thee," but does not complete the sentence until he does so
virtually, not formally, at
at Ephesus--Paul, in
declared to the Ephesian elders, "I know that ye all shall see
my face no more." If, then, as the balance of arguments seems to favor
this Epistle was written subsequently to Paul's first imprisonment, the
apparent discrepancy between his prophecy and the event may be
reconciled by considering that the terms of the former were not that
he should never visit Ephesus again (which this verse
implies he did), but that they all should "see his face no
more." I cannot think with BIRKS, that this verse
is compatible with his theory, that Paul did not actually visit
Ephesus, though in its immediate neighborhood (compare
1Ti 3:14; 4:13).
The corresponding conjunction to "as" is not given, the sentence not
being completed till it is virtually so at
I besought--a mild word, instead of authoritative command, to Timothy,
as a fellow helper.
some--The indefinite pronoun is slightly contemptuous as to them
teach no other doctrine--than what I have taught
His prophetic bodings some years before
(Ac 20:29, 30)
were now being realized (compare
4. fables--legends about the origin and propagation of angels, such as
the false teachers taught at Colosse
"Profane, and old wives' fables"
genealogies--not merely such civil genealogies as were common among
the Jews, whereby they traced their descent from the patriarchs, to
which Paul would not object, and which he would not as here class with
"fables," but Gnostic genealogies of spirits and aeons, as they called
them, "Lists of Gnostic emanations" [ALFORD]. So
[Against Valentinian, c. 3], and IRENÆUS
Judaizers here alluded to, while maintaining the perpetual obligation of
the Mosaic law, joined with it a theosophic ascetic tendency, pretending
to see in it mysteries deeper than others could see. The
seeds, not the full-grown Gnosticism of the post-apostolic age, then
existed. This formed the transition stage between Judaism and
Gnosticism. "Endless" refers to the tedious unprofitableness of their
lengthy genealogies (compare
Paul opposes to their "aeons," the "King of the aeons (so the
whom be glory throughout the aeons of aeons." The word "aeons" was
probably not used in the technical sense of the latter Gnostics as yet;
but "the only wise God"
by anticipation, confutes the subsequently adopted notions in the
Gnostics' own phraseology.
questions--of mere speculation
not practical; generating merely curious discussions. "Questions and
strifes of words"
"to no profit"
(1Ti 1:6, 7)
of would-be "teachers of the law."
godly edifying--The oldest manuscripts read, "the
dispensation of God," the Gospel dispensation of God towards man
"which is (has its element) in faith." CONYBEARE
translates, "The exercising of the stewardship of God"
He infers that the false teachers in Ephesus were presbyters, which
accords with the prophecy,
However, the oldest Latin versions, and
IRENÆUS and HILARY,
support English Version reading. Compare
5. But--in contrast to the doctrine of the false teachers.
the end--the aim.
the commandment--Greek, "of the charge" which you ought
to urge on your flock. Referring to the same Greek word as in
1Ti 1:3, 18;
here, however, in a larger sense, as including the Gospel
"dispensation of God" (see on
which was the sum and substance of the "charge" committed to Timothy
wherewith he should "charge" his flock.
charity--LOVE; the sum and end of the law and of the Gospel alike,
and that wherein the Gospel is the fulfilment of the spirit of the law
in its every essential jot and tittle
The foundation is faith
the "end" is love
out of--springing as from a fountain.
pure heart--a heart purified by faith
good conscience--a conscience cleared from guilt by the effect of sound
faith in Christ
John uses "heart," where Paul would use "conscience." In Paul the
understanding is the seat of conscience; the heart is the
seat of love [BENGEL]. A good conscience is
joined with sound faith; a bad conscience with unsoundness in the faith
faith unfeigned--not a hypocritical, dead, and unfruitful faith,
but faith working by love
The false teachers drew men off from such a loving, working, real
faith, to profitless, speculative "questions"
6. From which--namely, from a pure heart, good conscience, and faith
unfeigned, the well-spring of love.
having swerved--literally, "having missed the mark (the 'end') to be
aimed at." It is translated, "erred,"
Instead of aiming at and attaining the graces above named, they "have
unto vain jangling"; literally, "vain talk," about the law and
genealogies of angels
Tit 3:9; 1:10);
"vain babblings and oppositions." It is the greatest vanity when divine
things are not truthfully discussed
7. Sample of their "vain talk"
Desiring--They are would-be teachers, not really so.
the law--the Jewish law
(Tit 1:14; 3:9).
The Judaizers here meant seem to be distinct from those impugned in the
Epistles to the Galatians and Romans, who made the works of the law
necessary to justification in opposition to Gospel grace. The Judaizers
here meant corrupted the law with "fables," which they pretended to
found on it, subversive of morals as well as of truth. Their error was
not in maintaining the obligation of the law, but in
abusing it by fabulous and immoral interpretations of, and
additions to, it.
neither what they say, nor whereof--neither understanding
their own assertions, nor the object itself about which they
make them. They understand as little about the one as the other
8. But--"Now we know"
(Ro 3:19; 7:14).
law is good--in full agreement with God's holiness and goodness.
if a man--primarily, a teacher; then, every Christian.
use it lawfully--in its lawful place in the Gospel economy, namely,
not as a means of a "'righteous man" attaining higher perfection than
could be attained by the Gospel alone
which was the perverted use to which the false teachers put it, but as
a means of awakening the sense of sin in the ungodly
(1Ti 1:9, 10;
9. law is not made for a righteous man--not for one standing by faith
in the righteousness of Christ put on him for justification,and imparted
inwardly by the Spirit for sanctification. "One not forensically
amenable to the law" [ALFORD]. For sanctification, the law gives
no inward power to fulfil it; but ALFORD goes too far in speaking of the
righteous man as "not morally needing the law." Doubtless, in proportion
as he is inwardly led by the Spirit, the justified man needs not the
law, which is only an outward rule
Ga 5:18, 23).
But as the justified man often does not give himself up wholly to the
inward leading of the Spirit, he morally needs the outward
law to show him his sin and God's requirements. The reason why
the ten commandments have no power to condemn the Christian, is not
that they have no authority over him, but because Christ has
fulfilled them as our surety
disobedient--Greek, "not subject"; insubordinate; it is translated
Tit 1:6, 10;
"lawless and disobedient" refer to opposers of the law, for whom
it is "enacted" (so the Greek, for "is made").
ungodly and . . . sinners--Greek, he who does not reverence God, and he who openly sins against Him; the opposers of God,
from the law comes.
unholy and profane--those inwardly impure, and those deserving
exclusion from the outward participation in services of the sanctuary;
sinners against the third and fourth commandments.
murderers--or, as the Greek may mean, "smiters" of fathers
and . . . mothers; sinners against the fifth commandment.
manslayers--sinners against the sixth commandment.
10. whoremongers, &c.--sinners against the seventh commandment.
men-stealers--that is, slave dealers. The most heinous offense
against the eighth commandment. No stealing of a man's goods can equal
in atrocity the stealing of a man's liberty. Slavery is not directly
assailed in the New Testament; to have done so would have been to
revolutionize violently the existing order of things. But Christianity
teaches principles sure to undermine, and at last overthrow it, wherever
Christianity has had its natural development
liars . . . perjured--offenders against the ninth commandment.
if there be any other thing--answering to the tenth commandment in
its widest aspect. He does not particularly specify it because his
object is to bring out the grosser forms of transgression; whereas
the tenth is deeply spiritual, so much so indeed, that it was by it that
the sense of sin, in its subtlest form of "lust," Paul tells us
was brought home to his own conscience. Thus, Paul argues, these
would-be teachers of the law, while boasting of a higher
perfection through it, really bring themselves down from the Gospel
elevation to the level of the grossly "lawless," for whom, not for
Gospel believers, the law was designed. And in actual practice the
greatest sticklers for the law as the means of moral perfection, as in
this case, are those ultimately liable to fall utterly from the
morality of the law. Gospel grace is the only true means of
sanctification as well as of justification.
sound--healthy, spiritually wholesome
Tit 1:13; 2:2),
as opposed to sickly, morbid (as the Greek of "doting"
"The doctrine," or "teaching, which is according to godliness"
11. According to the glorious gospel--The Christian's freedom
from the law as a sanctifier, as well as a justifier, implied in
1Ti 1:9, 10,
is what this
is connected with. This exemption of the righteous from the law, and
assignment of it to the lawless as its true object, is "according to
the Gospel of the glory (so the Greek, compare
Note, see on
of the blessed God." The Gospel manifests God's glory
(Eph 1:17; 3:16)
in accounting "righteous" the believer, through the righteousness of
Christ, without "the law"
and in imparting that righteousness whereby he loathes all those sins
(1Ti 1:9, 10)
the law is directed. The term, "blessed," indicates at once
immortality and supreme happiness. The supremely blessed
One is He from whom all blessedness flows. This term, as applied to
GOD, occurs only here and in
appropriate in speaking here of the Gospel blessedness, in contrast to
the curse on those under the law
committed to my trust--Translate as in the Greek order, which
brings into prominent emphasis Paul, "committed in trust to me"; in
contrast to the kind of law-teaching which they (who had no Gospel
commission), the false teachers, assumed to themselves
12. The honor done him in having the Gospel ministry committed to him
suggests the digression to what he once was, no better
than those lawless ones described above
(1Ti 1:9, 10),
when the grace of our Lord
And--omitted in most (not all) of the oldest manuscripts.
I thank--Greek, "I have (that is, feel) gratitude."
enabled me--the same Greek verb as in
"Saul increased the more in strength." An undesigned coincidence
between Paul and Luke, his companion. Enabled me, namely, for
the ministry. "It is not in my own strength that I bring this doctrine
to men, but as strengthened and nerved by Him who saved me" [THEODORET]. Man is by nature "without strength"
True conversion and calling confer power [BENGEL].
for that--the main ground of his "thanking Christ."
he counted me faithful--He foreordered and foresaw that I would be
faithful to the trust committed to me. Paul's thanking God for this
shows that the merit of his faithfulness was due solely to God's grace,
not to his own natural strength
Faithfulness is the quality required in a steward
putting me into--rather as in
"appointing me (in His sovereign purposes of grace) unto the ministry"
13. Who was before--Greek, "Formerly being a blasphemer."
"Notwithstanding that I was before a blasphemer," &c.
(Ac 26:9, 11).
injurious--Greek, "insulter"; one who acts injuriously
from arrogant contempt of others. Translate,
"despiteful." One who added insult to injury.
BENGEL translates, "a despiser." I prefer the
idea, contumelious to others [WAHL]. Still
I agree with BENGEL that "blasphemer" is against
God, "persecutor," against holy men, and "insolently
injurious" includes, with the idea of injuring others, that of insolent
"uppishness" [DONALDSON] in relation to one's
self. This threefold relation to God, to one's neighbor, and to
one's self, occurs often in this Epistle
(1Ti 1:5, 9, 14;
I obtained mercy--God's mercy, and Paul's want of it, stand in
sharp contrast [ELLICOTT]; Greek, "I was
made the object of mercy." The sense of mercy was perpetual in the mind
of the apostle (compare Note, see on
Those who have felt mercy can best have mercy on those out of the way
(Heb 5:2, 3).
because I did it ignorantly--Ignorance does not in itself deserve
pardon; but it is a less culpable cause of unbelief than pride and
wilful hardening of one's self against the truth
Hence it is Christ's plea of intercession for His murderers
and it is made by the apostles a mitigating circumstance in the Jews'
sin, and one giving a hope of a door of repentance
The "because," &c., does not imply that ignorance was a sufficient
reason for mercy being bestowed; but shows how it was possible
that such a sinner could obtain mercy. The positive ground of mercy
being shown to him, lies solely in the compassion of God
The ground of the ignorance lies in the unbelief, which
implies that this ignorance is not unaccompanied with guilt. But there
is a great difference between his honest zeal for the law, and a wilful
striving against the Spirit of God
14. And--Greek, "But." Not only so (was mercy
shown me), but
the grace--by which "I obtained mercy"
was exceeding abundant--Greek, "superabounded." Where sin
abounded, grace did much more abound"
with faith--accompanied with faith, the opposite of "unbelief"
love--in contrast to "a blasphemer, persecutor, and injurious."
which is in Christ--as its element and home
[ALFORD]: here as its source whence it flows to us.
15. faithful--worthy of credit, because "God" who says it "is
faithful" to His word
Re 21:5; 22:6).
This seems to have become an axiomatic saying among Christians
the phrase, "faithful saying," is peculiar to the Pastoral Epistles
(1Ti 2:11; 4:9;
Translate as Greek, "Faithful is the saying."
all--all possible; full; to be received by all, and with all the
faculties of the soul, mind, and heart. Paul, unlike the false teachers
understands what he is saying, and whereof he affirms; and by
his simplicity of style and subject, setting forth the grand
fundamental truth of salvation through Christ, confutes the false
teachers' abstruse and unpractical speculations
acceptation--reception (as of a boon) into the heart, as well as
the understanding, with all gladness; this is faith acting on the Gospel
offer, and welcoming and appropriating it
Jesus--as manifested [BENGEL].
came into the world--which was full of sin
This implies His pre-existence.
Greek, "the true Light that, coming into the world,
lighteth every man."
to save sinners--even notable sinners like Saul of Tarsus. His
instance was without a rival since the ascension, in point of the
greatness of the sin and the greatness of the mercy: that the consenter
to Stephen, the proto-martyr's death, should be the successor of the
I am--not merely, "I was chief"
To each believer his own sins must always appear, as long as he lives,
greater than those of others, which he never can know as he can know
chief--the same Greek as in
"first," which alludes to this
Translate in both verses, "foremost." Well might he infer where there
was mercy for him, there is mercy for all who will come to
16. Howbeit--Greek, "But"; contrasting his own conscious
sinfulness with God's gracious visitation of him in mercy.
for this cause--for this very purpose.
that in me--in my case.
first--"foremost." As I was "foremost" (Greek for
in sin, so God has made me the "foremost" sample of mercy.
show--to His own glory (the middle Greek, voice),
all long-suffering--Greek, "the whole (of His)
long-suffering," namely, in bearing so long with me while I was a
a pattern--a sample
(1Co 10:6, 11)
to assure the greatest sinners of the certainty that they shall not be
rejected in coming to Christ, since even Saul found mercy. So David
made his own case of pardon, notwithstanding the greatness of his sin,
a sample to encourage other sinners to seek pardon
(Ps 32:5, 6).
The Greek for "pattern" is sometimes used for a "sketch" or
outline--the filling up to take place in each man's own case.
believe on him--Belief rests ON Him as the
only foundation on which faith relies.
to life everlasting--the ultimate aim which faith always keeps in
17. A suitable conclusion to the beautifully simple enunciation of
the Gospel, of which his own history is a living sample or pattern. It
is from the experimental sense of grace that the doxology flows
the King, eternal--literally, "King of the (eternal) ages." The
"The Lord shall reign for ages and beyond them."
Margin, "Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom," literally, "a
kingdom of all ages." The "life everlasting"
suggested here "the King eternal," or everlasting. It
answers also to "for ever and ever" at the close, literally, "to the
ages of the ages" (the countless succession of ages made up of ages).
immortal--The oldest manuscripts read, "incorruptible." The
Vulgate, however, and one very old manuscript read as
the only wise God--The oldest manuscripts omit "wise," which
probably crept in from
where it is more appropriate to the context than here (compare
"The only Potentate"
for ever, &c.--See note, above. The thought of eternity
(terrible as it is to unbelievers) is delightful to those assured of
18. He resumes the subject begun at
The conclusion (apodosis) to the foregoing, "as I besought thee
. . . charge"
is here given, if not formally, at least substantially.
This charge--namely, "that thou in them (so the Greek)
mightest war," that is, fulfil thy high calling, not only as a
Christian, but as a minister officially, one function of which
is, to "charge some that they teach no other doctrine"
I commit--as a sacred deposit
to be laid before thy hearers.
according to--in pursuance of; in consonance with.
the prophecies which went before on thee--the intimations given by
prophets respecting thee at thy ordination,
(as, probably, by Silas, a companion of Paul, and "a prophet,"
Such prophetical intimation, as well as the good report given of
Timothy by the brethren
may have induced Paul to take him as his companion. Compare similar
prophecies as to others:
in connection with laying on of hands;
Ac 11:28; 21:10, 11;
1Co 12:10; 14:1;
it is expressly said that "the Holy Ghost had made them (the
Ephesian presbyters) overseers." CLEMENT OF
ROME [Epistle to the Corinthians], states
it was the custom of the apostles "to make trial by the Spirit," that
is, by the "power of discerning," in order to determine who were to be
overseers and deacons in the several churches planted. So
CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA says as
to the churches near Ephesus, that the overseers were marked out for
ordination by a revelation of the Holy Ghost to St. John.
by them--Greek, "in them"; arrayed as it were in them; armed
warfare--not the mere "fight"
but the whole campaign; the military service. Translate as
Greek, not "a," but "the good warfare."
19. Holding--Keeping hold of "faith" and "good conscience"
not "putting the latter away" as "some." Faith is like a very
precious liquor; a good conscience is the clean, pure glass that
contains it [BENGEL]. The loss of good
conscience entails the shipwreck of faith. Consciousness of
sin (unrepented of and forgiven) kills the germ of faith in man [WIESINGER].
which--Greek singular, namely, "good conscience," not "faith" also;
however, the result of putting away good conscience is, one loses faith also.
put away--a wilful act. They thrust it from them as a troublesome
monitor. It reluctantly withdraws, extruded by force, when its owner is
tired of its importunity, and is resolved to retain his sin at the cost
of losing it. One cannot be on friendly terms with it and with sin at
one and the same time.
made shipwreck--"with respect to THE
faith." Faith is the vessel
in which they had professedly embarked, of which "good conscience" is
the anchor. The ancient Church often used this image, comparing the
course of faith to navigation. The Greek does not imply that one
having once had faith makes shipwreck of it, but that they who put
away good conscience "make shipwreck with respect to THE faith."
20. Hymenaeus--There is no difficulty in supposing him to be the
Though "delivered over to Satan" (the lord of all outside the Church,
and the executor of wrath, when judicially allowed by God, on the
he probably was restored to the Church subsequently, and again troubled
it. Paul, as an apostle, though distant at Rome pronounced the sentence
to be executed at Ephesus, involving, probably, the excommunication of
(Mt 18:17, 18).
The sentence operated not only spiritually, but also physically,
sickness, or some such visitation of God, falling on the person
excommunicated, in order to bring him to repentance and salvation.
Alexander here is probably "the coppersmith" who did Paul "much evil"
when the latter visited Ephesus. The "delivering him to Satan" was
probably the consequence of his withstanding the apostle
(2Ti 4:14, 15);
as the same sentence on Hymenæus was the consequence of "saying
that the resurrection is past already"
his putting away good conscience, naturally producing
shipwreck concerning FAITH,
If one's religion better not his morals, his moral deficiencies will
corrupt his religion. The rain which falls pure from heaven will not
continue pure if it be received in an unclean vessel [ARCHBISHOP WHATELY]). It is possible
that he is the Alexander, then a Jew, put forward by the Jews,
doubtless against Paul, at the riot in Ephesus
that they may--not "might"; implying that the effect still
continues--the sentence is as yet unremoved.
learn--Greek, "be disciplined," namely, by chastisement and
blaspheme--the name of God and Christ, by doings and teachings
unworthy of their Christian profession
(Ro 2:23, 24;
Though the apostles had the power of excommunication, accompanied with
bodily inflictions, miraculously sent
it does not follow that fallible ministers now have any power, save
that of excluding from church fellowship notorious bad livers.