1 Timothy 1
After the inscription
(1 Timothy 1:1,2)
I. The charge given to Timothy,
1 Timothy 1:3,4.
II. The true end of the law
(1 Timothy 1:5-11),
where he shows that it is entirely agreeable to the gospel.
III. He mentions his own call to be an apostle, for which he expresses
1 Timothy 1:12-16.
IV. His doxology,
1 Timothy 1:17.
V. A renewal of the charge to Timothy,
1 Timothy 1:18.
And of Hymenæus and Alexander,
1 Timothy 1:19,20.
|The Inscription and Apostolic Benediction.
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1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God
our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope;
2 Unto Timothy, my own son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and
peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.
3 As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went
into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no
4 Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which
minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith:
I. The inscription of the epistle, from whom it is sent: Paul an
apostle of Jesus Christ, constituted an apostle by the
commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ. His
credentials were unquestionable. He had not only a commission, but a
commandment, not only from God our Saviour, but from Jesus Christ: he
was a preacher of the gospel of Christ, and a minister of the kingdom
of Christ. Observe, God is our Saviour.--Jesus Christ, who is our
hope. Observe, Jesus Christ is a Christian's hope; our hope is in
him, all our hope of eternal life is built upon him; Christ is in us
the hope of glory,
He calls Timothy his own son, because he had been an instrument of his
conversion, and because he had been a son that served him, served with
him in the gospel,
Timothy had not been wanting in the duty of a son to Paul, and Paul was
not wanting in the care and tenderness of a father to him.
II. The benediction is, grace, mercy, and peace, from God our
Father. Some have observed that whereas in all the epistles to the
churches the apostolical benediction is grace and peace, in
these two epistles to Timothy and that to Titus it is grace, mercy,
and peace: as if ministers had more need of God's mercy than other
men. Ministers need more grace than others, to discharge their duty
faithfully; and they need more mercy than others, to pardon what is
amiss in them: and if Timothy, so eminent a minister, must be indebted
to the mercy of God, and needed the increase and continuance of it, how
much more do we ministers, in these times, who have so little of his
III. Paul tells Timothy what was the end of his appointing him to this
office: I besought thee to abide at Ephesus. Timothy had a mind
to go with Paul, was loth to go from under his wing, but Paul would
have it so; it was necessary for the public service: I besought
thee, says he. Though he might assume an authority to command him,
yet for love's sake he chose rather to beseech him. Now his business
was to take care to fix both the ministers and the people of that
church: Charge them that they teach no other doctrine than what
they have received, that they do not add to the Christian doctrine,
under pretence of improving it or making up the defects of it, that
they do no alter it, but cleave to it as it was delivered to them.
1. Ministers must not only be charged to preach the true doctrine of
the gospel, but charged to preach no other doctrine. If an angel
from heaven preach any other doctrine, let him be anathema,
2. In the times of the apostles there were attempts made to corrupt
Christianity (we are not as many, who corrupt the word,
2 Corinthians 2:17),
otherwise this charge to Timothy might have been spared.
3. He must not only see to it that he did not preach any other
doctrine, but he must charge others that they might not add any thing
of their own to the gospel, or take any thing from it, but that they
preach it pure and uncorrupt. He must also take care to prevent their
regarding fables, and endless genealogies, and strifes of words.
This is often repeated in these two epistles (as
1 Timothy 4:7,6:4;2Ti+2:23),
as well as in the epistle to Titus. As among the Jews there were some
who brought Judaism into Christianity; so among the Gentiles there were
some who brought paganism into Christianity. "Take heed of these," says
he, "watch against them, or they will be the corrupting and ruining of
religion among you, for they minister questions rather than
edifying." That which ministers questions is not for edifying; that
which gives occasion for doubtful disputes pulls down the church rather
than builds it up. And I think, by a parity of reason, every thing else
that ministers questions rather than godly edifying should be
disclaimed and disregarded by us, such as an uninterrupted succession
in the ministry from the apostles down to these times, the absolute
necessity of episcopal ordination, and of the intention of the minister
to the efficacy and validity of the sacraments he ministers. These are
as bad as Jewish fables and endless genealogies, for they involve us in
inextricable difficulties, and tend only to shake the foundations of a
Christian's hope and to fill his mind with perplexing doubts and fears.
Godly edifying is the end ministers should aim at in all their
discourses, that Christians may be improving in godliness and growing
up to a greater likeness to the blessed God. Observe, further, Godly
edifying must be in faith: the gospel is the foundation on which we
build; it is by faith that we come to God at first
and it must be in the same way, and by the same principle of faith,
that we must be edified. Again, Ministers should avoid, as much as may
be, what will occasion disputes; and would do well to insist on the
great and practical points of religion, about which there can be no
disputes; for even disputes about great and necessary truths draw off
the mind from the main design of Christianity, and eat out the vitals
of religion, which consist in practice and obedience as well as in
faith, that we may not hold the truth in unrighteousness, but may keep
the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience.
|Timothy Reminded of His Charge.
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5 Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure
heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned:
6 From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain
7 Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither
what they say, nor whereof they affirm.
8 But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully;
9 Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man,
but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for
sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and
murderers of mothers, for manslayers,
10 For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with
mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if
there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine;
11 According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which
was committed to my trust.
Here the apostle instructs Timothy how to guard against the judaizing
teachers, or others who mingled fables and endless genealogies with the
gospel. He shows the use of the law, and the glory of the gospel.
I. He shows the end and uses of the law: it is intended to promote
love, for love is the fulfilling of the law,
1. The end of the commandment is charity, or love,
The main scope and drift of the divine law are to engage us to the love
of God and one another; and whatever tends to weaken either our love to
God or love to the brethren tends to defeat the end of the commandment:
and surely the gospel, which obliges us to love our enemies, to do good
to those who hate us
does not design to lay aside or supersede a commandment the end whereof
is love; so far from it that, on the other hand, we are told that
though we had all advantages and wanted charity, we are but as sounding
brass and a tinkling cymbal,
1 Corinthians 13:1.
By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you love
Those therefore who boasted of their knowledge of the law, but used it
only as a colour for the disturbance that they gave to the preaching of
the gospel (under pretence of zeal for the law, dividing the church and
distracting it), defeated that which was the very end of the
commandment, and that is love, love out of a pure heart, a heart
purified by faith, purified from corrupt affections. In order to the
keeping up of holy love our hearts must be cleansed from all sinful
love; our love must arise out of a good conscience, kept without
offence. Those answer the end of the commandment who are careful to
keep a good conscience, from a real belief of the truth of the word of
God which enjoins it, here called a faith unfeigned. Here we
have the concomitants of that excellency grace charity; they are
(1.) A pure heart; there it must be seated, and thence it must take its
(2.) A good conscience, in which we must exercise ourselves daily, that
we may not only get it, but that we may keep it,
(3.) Faith unfeigned must also accompany it, for it is love without
dissimulation: the faith that works by it must be of the like nature,
genuine and sincere. Now some who set up for teachers of the law
swerved from the very end of the commandment: they set up for
disputers, but their disputes proved vain jangling; they set up for
teachers, but they pretended to teach others what they themselves did
not understand. If the church be corrupted by such teachers, we must
not think it strange, for we see from the beginning it was so. Observe,
[1.] When persons, especially ministers, swerve from the great law of
charity--the end of the commandment, they will turn aside to vain
jangling; when a man misses his end and scope, it is no wonder that
every step he takes is out of the way.
[2.] Jangling, especially in religion, is vain; it is unprofitable and
useless as to all that is good, and it is very pernicious and hurtful:
and yet many people's religion consists of little else but vain
[3.] Those who deal much in vain jangling are fond and ambitious to be
teachers of others; they desire (that is, they affect) the office of
[4.] It is too common for men to intrude into the office of the
ministry when they are very ignorant of those things about which they
are ton speak: they understand neither what they say nor whereof they
affirm; and by such learned ignorance, no doubt, they edify their
hearers very much!
2. The use of the law
(1 Timothy 1:8):
The law is good, if a man use it lawfully. The Jews used it
unlawfully, as an engine to divide the church, a cover to the malicious
opposition they made to the gospel of Christ; they set it up for
justification, and so used it unlawfully. We must not therefore think
to set it aside, but use it lawfully, for the restraint of sin. The
abuse which some have made of the law does not take away the use of it;
but, when a divine appointment has been abused, call it back to its
right use and take away the abuses, for the law is still very useful as
a rule of life; though we are not under it as under a covenant of
works, yet it is good to teach us what is sin and what is duty. It is
not made for a righteous man, that is, it is not made for those who
observe it; for, if we could keep the law, righteousness would be by
but it is made for wicked persons, to restrain them, to check them, and
to put a stop to vice and profaneness. It is the grace of God that
changes men's hearts; but the terrors of the law may be of use to tie
their hands and restrain their tongues. A righteous man does not want
those restraints which are necessary for the wicked; or at least the
law is not made primarily and principally for the righteous, but for
sinners of all sorts, whether in a greater or less measure,
1 Timothy 1:9,10.
In this black roll of sinners, he particularly mentions breaches of the
second table, duties which we owe to our neighbour; against the fifth
and sixth commandments, murderers of fathers and mothers, and
manslayers; against the seventh, whoremongers, and those that
defile themselves with mankind; against the eighth,
men-stealers; against the ninth, liars and perjured
persons; and then he closes his account with this, and if there
be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine. Some
understand this as an institution of a power in the civil magistrate to
make laws against such notorious sinners as are specified, and to see
those laws put in execution.
II. He shows the glory and grace of the gospel. Paul's epithets are
expressive and significant; and frequently every one is a sentence: as
(1 Timothy 1:11),
According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God. Let us
1. To call God blessed God, infinitely happy in the enjoyment of
himself and his own perfections.
2. To call the gospel the glorious gospel, for so it is: much of the
glory of God appears in the works of creation and providence, but much
more in the gospel, where it shines in the face of Jesus Christ. Paul
reckoned it a great honour put upon him, and a great favour done him,
that this glorious gospel was committed to his trust; that is, the
preaching of it, for the framing of it is not committed to any man or
company of men in the world. The settling of the terms of salvation in
the gospel of Christ is God's own work; but the publishing of it to the
world is committed to the apostles and ministers. Note here,
(1.) The ministry is a trust, for the gospel was committed unto this
apostle; it is an office of trust as well as of power, and the former
more than the latter; for this reason ministers are called stewards,
1 Corinthians 4:1.
(2.) It is a glorious trust, because the gospel committed to them is a
glorious gospel; it is a trust of very great importance. God's glory is
very much concerned in it. Lord, what a trust is committed to us! How
much grace do we want, to be found faithful in this great trust!
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12 And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for
that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry;
13 Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and
injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in
14 And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith
and love which is in Christ Jesus.
15 This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation,
that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I
16 Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first
Jesus Christ might show forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to
them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.
17 Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only
wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Here the apostle,
I. Returns thanks to Jesus Christ for putting him into the ministry.
1. It is Christ's work to put men into the ministry,
God condemned the false prophets among the Jews in these words, I
have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them,
yet they prophesied,
Ministers, properly speaking, cannot make themselves ministers; for it
is Christ's work, as king and head, prophet and teacher, of his church.
2. Those whom he puts into the ministry he fits for it; whom he calls
he qualifies. Those ministers who are no way fit for their work, nor
have ability for it, are not of Christ's putting into the ministry,
though there are different qualifications as to gifts and graces.
3. Christ gives not only ability, but fidelity, to those whom he puts
into the ministry: He counted me faithful; and none are counted
faithful but those whom he makes so. Christ's ministers are trusty
servants, and they ought to be so, having so great a trust committed to
4. A call to the ministry is a great favour, for which those who are so
called ought to give thanks to Jesus Christ: I thank Christ Jesus
our Lord, who hath put me into the ministry.
II. The more to magnify the grace of Christ in putting him into the
ministry, he gives an account of his conversion.
1. What he was before his conversion: A blasphemer, a persecutor,
and injurious. Saul breathed out threatenings and slaughter against
the disciples of the Lord,
He made havoc of the church,
He was a blasphemer of God, a persecutor of the saints, and injurious
to both. Frequently those who are designed for great and eminent
services are left to themselves before their conversion, to fall into
great wickedness, that the mercy of God may be the more glorified in
their remission, and the grace of God in their regeneration. The
greatness of sin is no bar to our acceptance with God, no, nor to our
being employed for him, if it be truly repented of. Observe here,
(1.) Blasphemy, persecution, and injuriousness, are very great and
heinous sins, and those who are guilty of them are sinners before God
exceedingly. To blaspheme God is immediately and directly to strike at
God; to persecute his people is to endeavour to wound him through their
sides; and to be injurious is to be like Ishmael, whose hand was
against every one, and every one was against him; for such invade God's
prerogative, and encroach upon the liberties of their fellow-creatures.
(2.) True penitents, to serve a good purpose, will not be backward to
own their former condition before they were brought home to God: this
good apostle often confessed what his former life had been, as
2. The great favour of God to him: But I obtained mercy. This
was a blessed but indeed, a great favour, that so notorious a
rebel should find mercy with his prince.
(1.) If Paul had persecuted the Christians wilfully, knowing them to be
the people of God, for aught I know he had been guilty of the
unpardonable sin; but, because he did it ignorantly and in unbelief, he
obtained mercy. Note,
[1.] What we do ignorantly is a less crime than what we do knowingly;
yet a sin of ignorance is a sin, for he that knew not his Master's
will, but did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few
Ignorance in some cases will extenuate a crime, though it do not take
[2.] Unbelief is at the bottom of what sinners do ignorantly; they do
not believe God's threatenings, otherwise they could not do as they do.
[3.] For these reasons Paul obtained mercy: But I obtained mercy,
because I did it ignorantly, in unbelief.
[4.] Here was mercy for a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an injurious
person: "But I obtained mercy, I a blasphemer," &c.
(2.) Here he takes notice of the abundant grace of Jesus Christ,
1 Timothy 1:14.
The conversion and salvation of great sinners are owing to the grace of
Christ, his exceedingly abundant grace, even that grace of Christ which
appears in his glorious gospel
(1 Timothy 1:15):
This is a faithful saying, &c. Here we have the sum of the whole
gospel, that Jesus Christ came into the world. The Son of God
took upon him our nature, was made flesh, and dwelt among us,
He came into the world, not to call the righteous but sinners to
His errand into the world was to seek and find, and so save, those
that were lost,
The ratification of this is that it is a faithful saying, and worthy
of all acceptation. It is good news, worthy of all acceptation; and
yet not too good to be true, for it is a faithful saying. It is a
faithful saying, and therefore worthy to be embraced in the arms of
faith: it is worthy of all acceptation, and therefore to be received
with holy love, which refers to the
1 Timothy 1:14,
where the grace of Christ is said to abound in faith and love. In the
1 Timothy 1:15
Paul applies it to himself: Of whom I am chief. Paul was a
sinner of the first rank; so he acknowledges himself to have been, for
he breathed out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the
Persecutors are some of the worst of sinners: such a one Paul had been.
Or, of whom I am chief, that is, of pardoned sinners I am chief.
It is an expression of his great humility; he that elsewhere calls
himself the least of all saints
here calls himself the chief of sinners. Observe,
[1.] Christ Jesus has come into the world; the prophecies concerning
his coming are now fulfilled.
[2.] He came to save sinners; he came to save those who could not save
and help themselves.
[3.] Blasphemers and persecutors are the chief of sinners, so Paul
[4.] The chief of sinners may become the chief of saints; so this
apostle was, for he was not a whit behind the very chief apostles
(2 Corinthians 11:5),
for Christ came to save the chief of sinners.
[5.] This is a very great truth, it is a faithful saying; these are
true and faithful words, which may be depended on.
[6.] It deserves to be received, to be believed by us all, for our
comfort and encouragement.
(3.) The mercy which Paul found with God, notwithstanding his great
wickedness before his conversion, he speaks of,
[1.] For the encouragement of others to repent and believe
(1 Timothy 1:16):
For this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might
show forth all long-suffering, for a pattern to those who should
hereafter believe. It was an instance of the long-suffering of
Christ that he would bear so much with one who had been so very
provoking; and it was designed for a pattern to all others, that the
greatest sinners might not despair of mercy with God. Note here,
First, Our apostle was one of the first great sinners converted
to Christianity. Secondly, He was converted, and obtained mercy,
for the sake of others as well as of himself; he was a pattern to
others. Thirdly, The Lord Jesus Christ shows great
long-suffering in the conversion of great sinners. Fourthly,
Those who obtain mercy believe on the Lord Jesus Christ; for without
faith it is impossible to please God,
Fifthly, Those who believe on Christ believe on him to life
everlasting; they believe to the saving of the soul,
[2.] He mentions it to the glory of God having spoken of the mercy he
had found with God, he could not go on with his letter without
inserting a thankful acknowledgment of God's goodness to him: Now
unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be
honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen. Observe, First,
That grace which we have the comfort of God must have the glory of.
Those who are sensible of their obligations to the mercy and grace of
God will have their hearts enlarged in his praise. Here is praise
ascribed to him, as the King eternal, immortal, invisible.
Secondly, When we have found God good we must not forget to
pronounce him great; and his kind thoughts of us must not at all abate
our high thoughts of him, but rather increase them. God had taken
particular cognizance of Paul, and shown him mercy, and taken him into
communion with himself, and yet he calls him the King eternal, &c.
God's gracious dealings with us should fill us with admiration of his
glorious attributes. He is eternal, without beginning of days, or end
of life, or change of time. He is the Ancient of days,
He is immortal, and the original of immortality; he only has
(1 Timothy 6:16),
for he cannot die. He is invisible, for he cannot be seen with mortal
eyes, dwelling in the light to which no man can approach, whom no man
hath seen nor can see,
1 Timothy 6:16.
He is the only wise God
he only is infinitely wise, and the fountain of all wisdom. "To him
be glory for ever and ever," or, "Let me be for ever employed in
giving honour and glory to him, as the thousands of thousands do,"
|Paul's Charge to Timothy.
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18 This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to
the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them
mightest war a good warfare;
19 Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put
away concerning faith have made shipwreck:
20 Of whom is Hymenæus and Alexander; whom I have delivered
unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme.
Here is the charge he gives to Timothy to proceed in his work with
1 Timothy 1:18.
Observe here, The gospel is a charge committed to the ministers of it;
it is committed to their trust, to see that it be duly applied
according to the intent and meaning of it, and the design of its great
Author. It seems, there had been prophecies before concerning Timothy,
that he should be taken into the ministry, and should prove eminent in
the work of the ministry; this encouraged Paul to commit this charge to
1. The ministry is a warfare, it is a good warfare against sin and
Satan: and under the banner of the Lord Jesus, who is the Captain of
and in his cause, and against his enemies, ministers are in a
particular manner engaged.
2. Ministers must war this good warfare, must execute their office
diligently and courageously, notwithstanding oppositions and
3. The prophecies which went before concerning Timothy are here
mentioned as a motive to stir him up to a vigorous and conscientious
discharge of his duty; so the good hopes that others have entertained
concerning us should excite us to our duty: That thou by them
mightest war a good warfare.
4. We must hold both faith and a good conscience: Holding faith and
a good conscience,
1 Timothy 1:19.
Those that put away a good conscience will soon make shipwreck of
faith. Let us live up to the directions of a renewed enlightened
conscience, and keep conscience void of offence
a conscience not debauched by any vice or sin, and this will be a means
of preserving us sound in the faith; we must look to the one as well a
the other, for the mystery of the faith must be held in a pure
1 Timothy 3:9.
As for those who had made shipwreck of the faith, he specifies two,
Hymeneus and Alexander, who had made a profession of the
Christian religion, but had quitted that profession; and Paul had
delivered them to Satan, had declared them to belong to the kingdom of
Satan, and, as some think, had, by an extraordinary power, delivered
them to be terrified or tormented by Satan, that they might learn
not to blaspheme not to contradict or revile the doctrine of Christ
and the good ways of the Lord. Observe, The primary design of the
highest censure in the primitive church was to prevent further sin and
to reclaim the sinner. In this case it was for the destruction of the
flesh, that the spirit might be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus,
1 Corinthians 5:5.
(1.) Those who love the service and work of Satan are justly delivered
over to the power of Satan: Whom I have delivered over to Satan.
(2.) God can, if he please, work by contraries: Hymeneus and Alexander
are delivered to Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme, when one
would rather think they would learn of Satan to blaspheme the more.
(3.) Those who have put away a good conscience, and made shipwreck of
faith, will not stick at any thing, blasphemy not excepted.
(4.) Therefore let us hold faith and a good conscience, if we would
keep clear of blasphemy; for, if we once let go our hold of these, we
do not know where we shall stop.