1 TIMOTHY 1
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.
THESE ARE REAL THINGS; MORE REAL THAN ANYTHING TO DO WITH OUR PERISHING, DAY TO DAY EXISTENCE.
This is perhaps the most vital verse in the whole epistle. All the rest is important, detailed instruction about various things. But this is the actual key to life or death --
"Grace, mercy, and peace -- from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ."
If we have this, we have everything: nothing else really matters or is important. If we do not have this, then no other possession in the world, or the world itself, would be of any value to us.
A few from among mankind have this supreme blessing: the vast majority do not.
"GRACE" -- the favorable attention, and love, and care, and comfort and guidance from God toward us. To come within the scope of His glorious light -- to be accepted as part of His chosen family, constantly overshadowed by His angelic protection.
This grace is extended without partiality to all who, in Truth, yield themselves entirely to Him, and ONLY to such. God makes no exceptions, plays no favorites. Just holding certain beliefs, and going to the meetings, and being technically "in the Truth" is not enough. We must give all to Him, holding nothing back. This must overshadow and dominate everything in our lives -- all our waking moments.
Then, and then ONLY, we enter into the glory of the grace of God.
"MERCY" -- the overlooking, in loving understanding, of all our shortcomings and weaknesses and failures and ugliness and fleshliness -- IF we, like Paul, agonize to repudiate them and be free of them.
TO obtain the mercy of God, the most important requirement is to recognize to its fullness our own absolute NEED for mercy -- our utter helplessness and miserableness without it. God is the essence of all holiness and purity and perfection. We are weak, ignorant, unclean mortal creatures seeking His exalted fellowship.
And, related to this, the more we recognize our own need for mercy, the more merciful we should be toward the faults and weaknesses of others --
"Love beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things and thinketh no evil; love covereth a multitude of sins."
This does not mean ignoring or excusing or condoning what is wrong, any more than a good doctor ignores disease or neglects treatment or won't use the knife, just because he is too "kindhearted."
TRUE love and TRUE mercy are always deeply concerned with correcting what is wrong.
Rather it means that our attitude toward the erring should always be fellow-feeling and understanding and deep and prayerful concern for their ultimate well-being. Always ready -- not to condemn -- but to help and encourage and forgive --
"Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy."
MERCY DOES NOT INTERFERE WITH DUTY AND OBEDIENCE TO COMMANDS.
Commands tell us to separate from persistent error, in order to preserve the health of the body and the soundness of the Faith. We have no choice, if we are faithful. But it must be done kindly and sorrowfully, not harshly or self-righteously --
"In the spirit of meekness, considering thyself lest thou also be tempted"
"And PEACE." Peace is not stagnation: not merely a dull and uneventful relief for the elderly and tired of life. Peace is essential for all -- young and old -- though we may not realize it.
Peace is the basic blessing we all need most, if we are God's.
It only comes through the grace and mercy of God. Peace is an impervious mental shield against all fears and disquietudes. Peace is perfect, relaxed harmony and tranquility of mind and spirit. Peace is primarily "peace with God" --
"We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ."
To have peace with God makes all other conflict harmless and unimportant. It can only come with complete, undivided dedication to one supreme object of life, for peace is essentially oneness and undividedness.
It is not freedom from external conflict: that's not important. It is freedom from INNER conflict. Jesus said, just before the terrible suffering of his crucifixion --
"Peace I leave with you: my peace I give unto you":
"In the world ye shall have tribulation; but in me ye SHALL have peace";
"Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."
And Paul, chained and in prison for the sake of the Gospel, tells the Philippian brethren to take everything to God in prayer, and assures them that in so doing --
"The peace of God, which passeth all understanding, SHALL keep your hearts and minds through Jesus Christ." *
Bro Growcott - Grace, Mercy and Peace from God.
3 As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine,
Ephesus - the place where Paul left Timothy.
This is Timothy's first and principal duty at Ephesus -- the preservation in the ecclesia of true doctrine. Paul was always deeply and actively concerned with the preservation of the Truth and suppression of error in the Body. He fully realized this was the foundation upon which all else must be built. *
This indicates the existence of a perverting class of brethren in the Ephesian ecclesia, whose evil influence had been perceived by Paul, while still among them, and the tendency of whose exhortations and expositions he says was to "minister questions rather than
"godly edifying which is in faith."
Herein we have a hint for our guidance, in a day when Paul no longer lives to give us a father's counsel. There are "questions" whose agitation is hurtful, because they are doubtful in themselves and unimportant in their bearings when solved, while the agitation of them interferes with the spiritual result called "godly edifying."
The attainment and preservation of "godly edifying" is the great object of the truth, and will be the cue of every true brother's policy. What is this?
It is building-up in godliness-a strengthening of the mind in the (things pertaining to God. What are these? The hope he has given of us; the obedience he requires of us in the many things commanded; the faith he would have us repose in him; the love he seeks at our hands towards himself and our "neighbours;" and the intercourse he desires us to hold with Him in prayer.
These, of course, are founded in knowledge of who He is, what He has promised, and what He has done and said, and the commandments He had given by His servants the prophets and the apostles, and of His Son Jesus Christ.
Knowledge of these made effective in the spiritual results for which it was given, is the essence of godly edifying.
Whatever imparts this knowledge and strengthens the determination to abide in godliness, in all reality of sentiment and action, helps the process of "godly edifying:" whatever distracts the attention from these, or weakens resolution in relation to them, is to be avoided as a profitless and positively hurtful strife of words.
There is need for applying this principle. There is danger of men using "points" and "questions" involved in the truth to the frustration of the whole objects of the truth itself, and this not, perhaps, from evil intent, but from certain peculiarities of mental constitution which impels to the discussion of matters best let alone, because in their nature insoluble in the special way they are presented for discussion, or unreducible to a form that will embody the general thought.
Against this tendency we must be on our guard.
The Christadelphian, Feb 1873
4 Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do.
There are "questions" whose agitation is hurtful, because they are doubtful in themselves and unimportant in their bearings when solved, while the agitation of them interferes with the spiritual result called "godly edifying."
The attainment and preservation of "godly edifying" is the great object of the truth, and will be the cue of every true brother's policy. What is this? It is building-up in godliness--a strengthening of the mind in the things pertaining to God. What are these? The hope He has given to us; the obedience He requires of us in the many things commanded; the faith He would have us repose in Him; the love He seeks at our hands towards Himself and our "neighbours"; and the intercourse He desires us to hold with Him in prayer.
These, of course, are founded on knowledge of who He is, what He has promised, and what He has done and said, and the commandments He has given by His servants the prophets and the apostles, and of His Son, Jesus Christ.
Knowledge of these made effective in the spiritual results for which it was given is the essence of godly edifying. What ever imparts this knowledge and strengthens the determination to abide in godliness, in all reality of sentiment and action, helps the process of "godly edifying": whatever distracts the attention from these, or weakens resolution in relation to them, is to be avoided as a profitless and positively hurtful strife of words.
Bro Roberts - Unprofitable questions
This is a very important distinction that must be borne in mind in all our studies, for it means the difference between success and failure.
It is not enough just to study the Word of God: we must study it with a purpose -- and we must study it with the right purpose: to learn God's ways and will, so we may draw closer to His requirements and manifest the beauty of holiness in our lives.
There are many side-issues and dead-ends and unanswerable problems that we can ardently pursue that just "minister questions" rather than "godly edifying."
We must consciously concentrate on getting the practical lesson and instruction for ourselves -- the guidance that will change US more and more from fleshly to spiritual.
Some study the Bible all their lives and become very proficient in it, but it never changes their character or way of life. The true purpose of the Word, says Paul in the second epistle, is for --
"Reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." *
Turning away from fables
I never ceased the reading [of Elpis Israel] (at my leisure intervals) until I got through. I rose early in the morning to have more time. My mother, who was grieved and angered beyond measure at the change that had come over me, said I would not get up so soon to read my Bible: but in this she was mistaken, for the effect of Dr. Thomas's writing, while causing me to lose all taste for the religious literature which had for six months been my sustenance, was to impart a keen interest in the Bible, which before had been uninteresting to me, and to lead me to its daily and early, and persevering perusal.
Bro Roberts - My Days and My Ways Ch 2
5 Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned:
The end -- the purpose, the WHOLE REASON -- for the commandment is love, a pure heart, a good conscience, and a genuine faith. *
6 From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling;
All God's Word is to develop us -- personally and individually -- in these characteristics. To get side-tracked, or as he says in verse 6, to "swerve" from this is "vain jangling" -- noise and effort without purpose. *
* Bro Growcott - Grace, Mercy and Peace from God.
There is a great deal of what is called "hypnotic suggestion" in the effects produced by the agitation of crotchets. Men start an idea in which there is nothing but an appearance, but they impress each other by their iterations and contentions until a something that is nothing assumes a size and colour that loom in their excited imaginations as a vital issue and a saving truth.
While they are under the influence, nothing else seems of any importance. Keep out of the swirl: and if you are in it, pour on it the cold water of tangible gospel facts which will cast down the fervid imaginations and bring honest men to the simplicity that is in Christ.
The Christadelphian, Dec 1896
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;
The Law of Moses is meant. Reverting to the forms and bondage of the Law seems to be the principal problem that troubled the ecclesias from the beginning, and we see the development of this deadly tendency in its fulness in all the ecclesiastical rituals and structure of the Catholic church.
We, too, must ever be on guard against ritualism and technicality to the detriment of the true spirit of love and personal holiness. *
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,
Paul says that the Law was not for the righteous, but for the lawless and disobedient. As he told the Galatians who were being similarly led astray, the Law of Moses is not the way of life.
The Abrahamic Covenant is the way of life. The Law was added "because of transgression" (that is, the Law was "for the unrighteous"), until the Seed of Abraham should come to whom the Abrahamic Covenant was made. *
11 According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.
Timothy was to concentrate the attention of the believers on the practical purposes of the law, about which some were disposed to jangle in an abstract and theoretical way.
He was to teach them that the law was not for righteous men, but for the lawless and disobedient, the ungodly and sinners, unholy and profane, whoremongers, stealers, liars, perjured persons, and anything else contrary to sound doctrine, ACCORDING TO THE GLORIOUS GOSPEL; whence arises the reflection that sound doctrine, according to Paul's use of that phrase, is comprehensive of correct teaching in matters of duty or morals, as much as in those elementary matters known as "the things concerning the kingdom."
Bro Roberts - Unprofitable Questions.
13 Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.
Conscience has no perception whatever as to what is true or untrue. It is a blind faculty, which simply produces a desire to do what is right, without any power to weigh evidence, or determine which is the true course.
It may lead a man to sin against God as well as to obey Him. Of this the Scriptures furnish evidence. Did all who crucified Christ violate their consciences? The petition on the Cross-
"Father forgive them, for they know not what they do" (Luke xxiii. 34)
- supplies a negative answer, and the Apostle Paul confirms it when he says,
"Had they known it they (the princes of this world) would not have crucified the Lord of glory" (1 Cor. ii. 8).
Was not Saul of Tarsus as conscientious in persecuting Christians, as he was after conversion, in preaching Christ? Let his inspired declaration reply?
"Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor and injurious; but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly, in unbelief" (1 Tim. i. 13).
And were not the apostles cruelly treated by conscientious, but mistaken Jews? Christ's own words set the matter at rest-"They shall put you out of the synagogues; yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service" (Jno. xvi. 2).
These testimonies are practical warnings against an exclusive reliance on conscientious conduct. Fidelity to conscience is necessary to Divine approval, but it is not the only requisite. If it were, a revelation of God's will would be superfluous. A
"conscience void of offence toward God and toward men" (Acts xxiv. 16), involves a knowledge of God and His ways, and a hearty compliance with His injunctions.
The Christadelphian, Jan 1887. p19
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 am chief.
16 Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.
This leads Paul to a consideration of his own deliverance from the same erroneous devotion to the Mosaic Law which had caused him to reject and oppose Christ and to persecute Christ's followers.
But in God's mercy, because he was sincere, he was shown the right way, and was given mercy and forgiveness as an example of Christ's goodness and kindness. *
17 Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.
A first principle with me in all reasonings upon this subject is, that "there is one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in all" His spiritual family. Another axiom is that "He is the Blessed and Only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; who ONLY hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; WHOM NO MAN HATH SEEN nor can see " (1 Tim. 6:15). And again, "God is Spirit " (John 4:24); and He is "incorruptible" (Rom. 1:23).
THE INCORRUPTIBLE SPIRIT DWELLING IN LIGHT is the Scripture revelation of the undefinable essence of the self-existent Eternal One, who is from everlasting to everlasting, God. What His essence consists in, He has not revealed; He has made known to us His name, or character, which is enough for men to know; but to say that because He is a spirit he is therefore "immaterial," is to speak arrant nonsense; for immateriality is nothingness, a quality, if we may so speak, alien to the universe of God.
Elpis Israel 1.6.
17 Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Who made the Soul Immortal? The Pope!
An extract from a canon which was passed under Leo X, by the Council of Lateran, shows that the doctrine of an "Immortal Soul" that lives when the man is dead, was supported in those days, as it generally has been since, by the authority of creeds rather than the truth of God—
"Some have dared to assert concerning the nature of the reasonable soul, that it is mortal; we with the approbation of the sacred council do condemn and reprobate all such seeing according to the canon of POPE CLEMENT THE FIFTH, the soul is immortal: and we strictly inhibit all from dogmatizing otherwise; and we decree that all who adhere to the like erroneous assertions, shall be shunned and punished as heretics."—Caranza, page 412, 1681.
"I permit the Pope to make articles of faith for himself and his faithful, such as he is Emperor of the world, King of Heaven, and God upon earth; that the Soul is Immortal, with all those monstrous opinions to be found in the Roman dunghill of decretals."—Defence, 1530.
The expression "Immortal Soul" is not to be found in the Bible.
"The Immortality of the Soul is rather supposed, or taken for granted, than expressly revealed in the Bible."—Bishop Tillotson's Sermons, vol. 2, 1774.
The term "Immortal" occurs only once in the Bible, 1 Timothy 1:17, and is applied to God,
"The king eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God."
Men seem to think sermons or prayers have but little power, unless they spice them with "Immortal Soul;" and they stare at you, as though they thought you an infidel, when you tell them that the Bible nowhere calls the soul immortal.
The term immortality occurs only five times in the Bible, and is never spoken of the wicked; but is brought to view as something to be sought after, and to be found alone in Christ,
"to them who by patient continuance in well-doing, seek for honour, glory, immortality, eternal life."—Romans 2:7.
Why, I pray, are men to seek for it, if it is the inheritance of all? It is easy to say, as some do, that it is a "blessed" immortality we have to seek for; but that is adding to God's word, unwarranted by any other portion of that blessed volume.
The Testimony of Richard Watson
"That the soul is naturally immortal is contradicted by Scripture, which makes our immortality a gift dependent upon the giver."—Institutes, vol. 2, page 250.
Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, Jun 1860
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;
A good warfare
The letter is sent to Ephesus (where Paul had left Timothy), after the effective labours in that city ten years before. Those labours, it will be recollected, so widely affected the community as to stop a trade in silver shrines, which had beforetime flourished, causing, in consequence, a great stir among "the trade," and a public uproar, in which several of the brethren suffered violence.
Bro Roberts - Unprofitable questions
The Christadelphian Ecclesia knows she has a great conflict with foes within and without - the world, the flesh and the devil - the lusts of the flesh - the lust of the eye, and pride of life; and if she can be the victor in the warfare, through Christ who strengtheneth her, she will receive an eternity of blessed life for her reward, and this the gracious gift of God through Christ.
She knows the gate is strait and the way narrow that leads to life, and though there be few who find it, she is not discouraged. She strives to the end with an honest, sincere, and pure motive, and what she lacks through the weakness of the flesh, her Redeemer, in whom she trusts, will supply by his all-prevailing righteousness to her unspeakable joy, and everlasting blessedness."
Timothy's choice to accompany Paul and field of labour in the ecclesias was apparently indicated by the Holy Spirit, for Paul says, in writing to him about it --
"According to the prophecies which went before on thee."
Paul, we remember, made three major journeys throughout the Roman Empire, preaching the Truth and establishing ecclesias. Timothy lived at Lystra, in East Asia Minor. When Paul arrived here on his second journey, Timothy joined him and traveled eastward with him through Asia Minor to Troas, Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea.
When Paul was driven out of Berea, Timothy and Silas stayed to continue the work. Paul called them to him to Athens, then sent them back to Thessalonica where the persecution was severe on the brethren, as Paul wrote to the ecclesia there (1 Thess. 3:2-3) --
"To establish you and to comfort you concerning your faith that no man should be moved by these afflictions."
Persecution and afflictions were the usual lot of the early believers when they joined the "sect everywhere spoken against."
And the youthful Timothy, soon after his call to the work, is sent back to the danger scene to be a source of courage and strength to the new believers.
Some have assumed, from Paul's exhortations to him to "stir up the gift" that was in him, and to "endure hardness as a good soldier of Christ," and to "let no man despise" his youth, that Timothy was timid and hesitant and lacking in missionary zeal and fervour for the work of the Truth. But surely the picture we get of him in this his earliest appearance in the work, shows him to be exceptionally faithful, zealous, courageous, and devoted.
The most we can fairly infer from Paul's exhortations to him is that he may have been over-reluctant to use his authority in relation to older brethren than himself, and that he, like all like even Paul himself -- felt the weakness of the flesh and the need for encouragement to press forward in a dangerous and difficult and often lonely path.
A brother -- especially a young brother -- who is strongly motivated by love of the brethren and who recognizes his own human weakness, may be over-cautious about taking firm action against sin and error when firm action is called for.
We know how bro. Roberts, in his early days, experienced this agonizing conflict, and how bro. Thomas had to stir him to resolute action and separation from some who -- though nominally accepting the Truth -- were tolerating corruption of it. Bro. Thomas could see clearly that just protesting against error is not enough.
Jude gives us a command that should be one of our basic guidelines in all our prayerful efforts to defend and preserve the Truth (vs. 22-23) --
"Of some have compassion, MAKING A DIFFERENCE";
"And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh." *
* Bro Growcott - Grace, Mercy and Peace from God.
19 Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck:
If Paul stationed Timothy at Ephesus to neutralize the influence of "some" who were troublers, we need not wonder if nineteenth century experience should disclose a similar necessity (though, unfortunately the necessity cannot be supplied, as it then was.)
The class will not, necessarily, present the same features. It differs with the circumstances in which it exists. In Paul's day, there were Talmudical and Pagan legends on which to expend their pertinacity and ingenuity, as to the question of their credibility; also questions of pedigree, which, in those days were something thought of; also significances of the law, about which they vainly jangled, understanding neither what they said nor whereof they affirmed, turning aside in the process, from that charity out of a pure heart, and a good conscience and faith unfeigned, which Paul declares to be the end of the whole matter.
In our day, by a different process, the same class reach the same wretched result of withering their own souls and that of their neighbours, as in a furnace of burning heat, and destroying the healthy and joyous vitality that comes from the pureness and fulness of the blessed hope which teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, and righteously, and godly in this present world, looking for the Lord from heaven to change our vile bodies, and to set up the kingdom of God.
Questions as to the day when the Lord was glorified; the state of his blood when he entered the divine presence; whether Moses is living or dead; the meaning of certain types in the law; the relation of death to the millennial population; the quality of wine used at the breaking of bread and the bread itself; the precise value of the sacrifice from a divine point of view; the relation of God's foreknowledge to free agency, &c., &c., &c., &c., are all matters that may be the casual topic of conversation or even the subject of earnest thought, but which are misplaced when seriously debated, as matters affecting the standing of such as believe and obey the Lord Jesus; and placed out of the category of usefulness if treated with the incessant zeal of a hobbyist.
The crowning glories of the truth shine with the brilliancy of the mid-day sun; and it indicates a strange obfuscation of mind when men neglect its noonday brightness, to burrow in the caverns of doubtful questions with the dark lanterns of speculation.
It looks like a case of loving darkness rather than light.
The Christadelphian, Feb 1873