As I said in the introduction to this first letter of Paul to Timothy, the practical instructions of this epistle are based on the doctrine – a fundamental teaching of New Testament faith which cannot be broken (Mt 16:13-18; 28:18-20; Acts 2:42; Lk 9:23-26; Jn 16:12-15; 1Jn 4:1-6) – that God was in Messiah/Christ to save us, and, therefore, the true faith is founded upon the grace of God, not upon any natural rights nor upon our works of the Law, or any other good works. (Col 2:6-9; 2Cor 5:19; Eph 2:4-10)
v 1-2 Jesus Christ is God in the flesh. It is YHVH God who is our Savior. The Apostle begins his epistle by stating that he is an Apostle by the commandment of God our Savior and Christ Jesus our hope.
Paul was not one of the 12 Apostles who walked with Yeshua, but was chosen afterwards, when Jesus was already back in Heaven at the right-hand of the Father. He often had to prove himself to others that he was a genuine Apostle with all of the authority that conveys. He says that God is our Savior and that Christ Jesus is our hope: this means that Jesus, the Son of God, is YHVH. (Is 33:22; Ps 33; 71:5) From the Old Testament we learn that YHVH is our Savior, and He is our hope. He is the Creator and the Redeemer, who is faithful and powerful. He can give us grace, mercy, and peace, as Paul greets Timothy, his son in the faith.
v 3-4 Paul had urged Timothy to remain in Ephesus, when he left for Macedonia, so that Timothy would demand some to stop teaching unnecessary things but to stay with that which builds up the faith in the hearers.
v 5 The objective of this apostolic command is so that disciples will love out from a pure heart, a good conscience, and sincere faith — without hypocrisy. Our focus and confidence must be on knowing our Lord and God, and the grace and hope which we have received from Him.
v 6-7 Those who doubt or deny the truth of the gospel of salvation and the Kingdoom of God will turn aside from the way and speak of irrevelant things. They will want to be teachers of the law, but they do not understand what they are talking about or of the things that they strongly assert. Many believers, especially when we Jews come to faith, now see the goodness and wisdom of the Torah, and begin to teach from it, but not “lawfully”. The Law does not produce righteousness or grace, but rather pride and judgmentalism, or else depression and condemnation. We need the Savior, which the Law points to. This is similar to the Sadducees, religious authorities of Israel, of whom Yeshua said that they were wrong in their own understanding and belief because they knew neither the Scriptures nor the power of God. (Mt 22:29) They were rationalists under Greek influence. Rationalists/humanists want to understand everything by evidence. God gives revelation to be accepted and believed. If rationalists search and find truth, great! Will they give honor to God for it? If they search and claim as truth something that is against the revelation given by God in His Word, which will we believe? Are we sons of Zion, or sons of Greece? (Zec 9:11-13)
v 8-10 The Law is good if it is used lawfully. Paul states in another epistle that the Law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good. (Rom 7:12; Ezek 20:7-11) The law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and disobedient, and for those who do not live by the commandment to love your neighbor as yourself, and any other sound doctrine. From the 10 Commandments, we have do not murder; do not commit adultery; do not steal; do not bear false witness; do not covet. Before the Flood, there was no commandment not to murder. Cain murdered his righteous brother very early in human history. After the Flood, which was God’s judgment upon people who woke up every morning wanting to do evil, the LORD declared that whoever sheds men’s blood would be held accountable by his own life. The “law” came in because of those who were lawless and disobedient, but it brought this Law upon everyone. (Gen 9:6) Traffic laws are made because of those who do not drive safely, but all must obey and be accountable to the laws.
v 11 The gospel affirms the goodness of the Law. Yeshua says that He did not come to annul the Law or the Prophets, but to fulfill them. A believer in Yeshua/Jesus can not say that he does not need to obey laws, whether of God or of governments, simply because he is forgiven of his sins and now lives under grace. Certainly not!, as Paul writes elsewhere. For if we think and act like this, then we do not know what we are talking about, and we bring dishonor to the name of our Father and Savior!
v 12-13 Paul writes Timothy that he is thankful to Messiah Yeshua our Lord for considering him faithful, and enabling him to be trusted with the ministry of the gospel, despite having been such a sinner before. He was shown mercy, he writes, because he had blasphemed, and persecuted, and caused so much injury ignorantly in unbelief. (Phlp 3:6; Lk 23:34; Dt 13; Lev 4:27-31; Num 35:11,15) God had mercy on this God-fearing Israeli and forgave him his sins, which he had done ignorantly, despite all of his knowledge and love of the Law, thinking that he was being faithful to Him whom he was actually persecuting! (Acts 9:3-4)
v 14 Paul knows that our Lord was exceedingly abundant towards him with grace to give him faith and love which is found in Christ Jesus. Again, our Creator God Himself came down to us from Heaven to be our Redeemer and Savior from sin and death. What exceedingly abundant love and grace!
v 15 “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptance: that Messiah Yeshua/Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am first.”
How could Paul say this about himself? He was a ‘star’ in the Jewish religion, who knew and loved the Scriptures and the traditions, but… his status made him self-righteous, and he did not know the grace of God which the gospel boldly demonstrates towards sinners. (Gal 1:13-14) Paul thought that he was righteous. Yet he did not recognize the truth of the Messiah, when the God whom he served showed up and suffered a criminal’s death on the cross at the hands of his own people, which Paul/Saul consented to in the stoning of Stephen. (Is 53; Acts 7:57 – 8:1) Yeshua/Jesus has brought in grace and truth, with forgiveness. This gives us hope as we pray for others to be saved. Sin is deceitful, and so is our heart. (Rom 7:7-12; Heb 3:13; Jer 17:9-10)
v 16 Paul understands that he was shown such mercy so that he would be an example for believers after him to know the long-suffering and grace of Jesus Christ towards those who believe on Him and receive eternal life.
The judgments of God are unsearchable, and His ways past finding out! (Rom 11:33-36)
In the same way that Paul was shown much mercy and grace despite his grievous sins, so, too, will “all Israel” be saved!
v 17 Here is outburst of praise for who our God is and the amazing grace of which Paul is publicly a witness: Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory forever and ever! Amen! (Rev 1:8, 11, 18; 4:8-11; 5:11-14)
v 18-20 Paul closes this first chapter commanding Timothy to fight the good fight with faith and a good conscience, based upon the truth which Paul has just given him, plus the prophecies that Timothy had received concerning his own gifting and ministry. Without confidence in the doctrine of grace, that Jesus Christ is YHVH God in the flesh, people’s faith will be shipwrecked. The knowledge of the true God – the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit — is absolutely essential for our testimony of who Jesus is, and for our confidence that our salvation is secure in this grace.
Paul had to deliver two believers to Satan who were teaching another doctrine than this primary one, meaning that he put them out of church fellowship into “the world” – to keep the false teaching from coming in and spreading in the church, and that they might learn the truth in the midst of all the lies – with the hope of their repentance and restoration — and so not blaspheme the name of the LORD any more. Keeping commandments and traditions without living faith in the truth is religion based on works or philosophy, having an outward appearance of godliness but denying the power thereof.
It is very serious for us to KNOW THE TRUTH of who it is that we say we believe in. In these last days the warfare over the truth that there is only one true God and Savior – who is YHVH (Yeshua/Jesus under Heaven) – is intensifying. The Holy Spirit is using this to separate those who are false from those who are true servants of the Lord.
Let us hear what the Spirit is saying to us.