The Agora
Godliness with Contentment - 1 Timothy

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I. Purity Of Doctrine (1:1-20)

After an introduction (vv 1,2), Paul in the remainder of 1Ti 1 appeals to Timothy to combat the growing apostasy to the Judaizers. These dangerous theories were developing within the very ecclesia. Error mixed with truth is often the most dangerous. Timothy's duty was to fight an untiring war against this error, even going so far as to follow Paul's example of separating from the offenders (v 20).

A. 1:1, 2: Introduction

Paul's first letter to Timothy deals with the younger's work in the ecclesia at Ephesus. It is Paul's 'Ecclesial Guide'. He opens with a prayer for Timothy's spiritual well-being: "Grace, mercy and peace" are real things, more real than anything to do with our perishing, day-to-day existence.

These are perhaps the most vital two verses in the whole letter. All the rest is of course important instruction and exhortation. But this is the actual key to life or death. If we have grace, mercy, and peace from God, we have everything: nothing else really matters. If we do not have them, then no other possession in the world, or the world itself, would be of any value to us.

A few among mankind have this supreme blessing; the vast majority do not. Should we not be exceedingly thankful to God for His unspeakable gifts?

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour, and the Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope.

An apostle is 'one sent forth', with some special message or commission -- an ambassador, representing the coming Kingdom. By is the Greek word kata which means 'according to' implying a strong link with the one who commanded. Commandment is from epitage which is used in the Greek to denote a royal command! Paul was on the "King's business"!

He was an apostle by the commandment of God our Saviour and the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul's conversion and special selection as an apostle were confirmed by the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:17; 13:2, 9), which filled him and which gave him the power to confirm the Truth he preached by the working of miracles.

The expression God our Saviour is not a very common one, but it does state an important truth. God offers salvation to "all men" (1Ti 2:4) through His bountiful love, shown in offering His only-begotten son (John 3:16; Rom 5:5,6; 8:32). Yahweh is called "Saviour", for example in Jude 1: 25 and in Mary's song of Luke 1:47. Saviour was one of the titles appropriated by the Emperor Nero at this time. In this introduction, then, Paul is taking the misappropriated Imperial title and giving it to the Only Being to Whom it truly belongs.

The word Saviour is used ten times in the Pastorals -- six times for God (1Ti 1:1; 2:3; Tit 1:3; 2:10, 13,; 3:4) and four for Christ (1Ti 4:10; 2Ti 1:10; Tit 1:4; 3:6). In all Paul's other letters it occurs only two more times, referring in both cases to Christ (Eph 5:23; Phi 3:20).

The equivalent of this Greek word soter appears throughout the Old Testament, as a golden thread by which we may trace the prophetic references to Jesus. In Gen 49:18, Jacob after speaking of the last days says: "I have waited for Thy salvation, O Yahweh". And in Psa 65:5, "By terrible things in righteousness, wilt thou answer us, O God of our salvation". And Jeremiah, in the midst of bitter sufferings, can say, "It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD" (Lam 3:26). Jesus' name in the Hebrew means "Yah saves" or "the Salvation of Yah". So we see that Yahweh, "He Who shall save", may manifest His offer of salvation only through His Son Jesus. "No man cometh unto the Father, but by me" (John 14:6). "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself (2Co 5:19; Rom 8:3; Gal 4:4).

The original text omits the words which is from the phrase which is our hope. The word hope is elpis, as in Elpis Israel -- the "hope of Israel" for which Paul was bound with chains (Acts 28:20).

Christ is "our hope". We read that the Gentiles, without Christ, have no hope (Eph 2:12). The word of the gospel and the spirit and fulness of God, dwelling in Paul allowed him to speak triumphantly of "Christ in us, the hope of glory" (Col 1:27). And this animating hope buoyed up his spirits to withstand his tribulations, in expectation of that revelation or manifestation of "Christ our hope":

"When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory" (Col 3:4).
Paul speaks of this same hope in another of his pastoral letters:

"Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of... our Saviour Jesus Christ... " (Tit 2:13).
Unto Timothy, my own son in the faith: Grace, mercy and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.

The name Timothy (Timotheos) signifies "honor to God" -- just as in the two sections of this epistle to Timothy. In 1Ti 1:16, "Unto the King eternal... be honor (timee)... " And in 1Ti 6:16, (God) "To whom be honor (timee)... "Timothy was a servant of God (and an example for us -- 1Ti 4:12) who faithfully kept the purity of the Truth and who lived his life with this one aim, to honor and glorify our Father in heaven.

The phrase my own son is translated by the RV and NIV as "my true son", while the Diaglott has "my genuine son". Paul addresses Titus by the same phrase in Tit 1:4. He was his close protégé and his dearly beloved friend. Similarly, he speaks of "my son Philemon" (Phm 1:10). It was inevitable that Paul (who had no children of his own) would have a paternal feeling toward these young men and would hope they would carry forward the burden he was soon to lay down. It was Paul who ordained Timothy for his work with the "laying on of his hands" (2Ti 1:6) and it was Paul who often gave Timothy his instructions. Thus, Timothy would be recognized as an accredited, and therefore true representative of his spiritual father.

In Paul's letters, the three-part salutation grace, mercy, and peace is peculiar to the Pastorals. All other letters have the phrase "grace and peace". John also uses it once (2Jo 1:3).

The Greek word for grace is charis -- a gift or favor -- any and all of God's blessings and gifts to men. "Grace" in some contexts refers to the gifts of the Holy Spirit, but the word means much more than that.

Grace is the favorable attention, care, and comfort from God toward us. To know grace is 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 -- this means placing ourselves in His hands, allowing His word to work in us. We must allow the Truth to overshadow and dominate everything in our lives -- endeavoring to give our all to Him, holding nothing back, in hope of the day when we will be "filled with the fullness of God". Just holding certain beliefs, attending the meetings of believers and being technically 'in the Truth' is not enough to guarantee God's grace. We must be receptive to Him and be moved to activity. Then and only then may we enter into the glory of the grace of God.

The word mercy is not found in Paul's earlier greetings. They are restricted to "grace and peace". Mercy is the overlooking, in loving understanding, of all our shortcomings and failures if we, like Paul, agonize to repudiate them and to be free of them.

To obtain the mercy of God we must fully recognize our absolute need for mercy -- our utter helplessness without it. God is the essence of all holiness, 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. "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy" (Mat 5:7).

Peace is the basic blessing we all need most. It only comes through the grace and mercy of God. Peace is an impervious mental shield against all fear and disquiet. Peace is perfect, relaxed harmony and tranquility of mind. Peace is primarily "peace with God" -- "We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Rom 5:1).

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. It is not freedom from external conflict: that is not important. It is freedom from internal 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" (John 14:27).
And Paul, chained and in prison for the sake of the glorious gospel tells the Philippian brethren to take everything to God in prayer, and he assures them that in so doing --

"The peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Jesus Christ" (Phi 4:7).
The last part of verse two -- from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord -- shows the true order from which all blessings flow. All gifts come from God. But the greatest gift of God to man is the hope of eternal life which was first revealed in Christ -- "the firstfruits..." (1Co 15:23) -- and then offered to us as well, through Christ, our Saviour, mediator, and Lord.

B. 1:3-11: Apostasy To The Judaizers

Timothy's first and principal duty at Ephesus was the preservation of sound doctrine in the ecclesia. Paul was always deeply and actively concerned with the preservation of the Truth and the suppression of error in the One Body. The error here referred to is Judaizing, the undue reliance upon the old law as the way of life. Its traditions and rituals and technicalities were elevated by certain brethren to positions of 'life-and-death' importance, in effect denying the efficacy of Christ's sacrifice and God's mercy.

Paul fully realized that pure doctrine was the foundation upon which all else must be built. Pure actions can arise only from pure teachings; they do not come of themselves.

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.

Timothy had been Paul's companion in his travels and he was left at Ephesus while Paul journeyed on. (See the introduction). Paul's language in the first half of this verse, especially the word still, and subsequent events indicate only a temporary mission for Timothy.

Besought is a very mild word -- not a harsh command, but a gentle pleading or entreaty. It is from the Greek paraklesa often rendered "exhort".

The reason Timothy was to abide at Ephesus is now given -- that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine. That is the purpose of Timothy's mission in Ephesus and to this end Paul strengthens and encourages him (cf 1Ti 6:3; 2Co 11:4). Gal l:8 was written in combating the same type of apostasy:

"But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed".

The word charge is a military term which means literally to pass commands from one to another. Timothy was a man of authority, because he was a man under authority.

Note the indefiniteness of some and compare also v. 6; 4:1; 5:15; and 6:21. The errorists' names are not often mentioned -- perhaps because, if they so continue, their names will be omitted from the book of life (Rev 3:5; Phi 4:3; Luke 10:20), or perhaps because the hope is that they will heed the warning and turn from their ways. This is a good course of action for us -- never name 'names' to others while admonition is possible.

Timothy was to "contend earnestly for the faith" (Jude 3). If some continued in error, they should be disfellowshipped and treated as "Gentiles and publicans" (although effort must still be given to bring them back).

Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do.

Fables is from the Greek muthos (compare the English word myth), and is used only five times in the whole New Testament. Four of these occurrences are in the Pastorals: here; 4:7; 2Ti 4:4; and Tit 1:14 (where they are called Jewish fables). Generally these fables were Jewish in character, based upon Rabbinical traditions -- as the context here indicates. The word is also translated -- in other versions -- as myth, legend, or story.

Notice that the New Testament writers knew well enough what "myths" were. Yet according to some of the more liberal critics, these very writers were busy creating their own myths!

It was said in the old Jewish schools that an oral Law had been given on Sinai, and that this Law had been handed down by a succession of teachers. This Law was, of course, further illustrated and enlarged by each new generation of rabbis. By the time of Jesus, it constituted a recognized supplementary code to the Law of Moses. It contained many wild and improbable legendary histories, and foolish speculations upon the commandments of Moses. This strange collection was formally written down in the second century A.D. under the name of Mishna. More discussions of these "fables" were compounded into the Gemara, and these works came in much later times to be referred to as the Talmud -- which still exercises a great influence upon Jewish thought today.

As the elaborate system evolved, some great rabbinical teachers became mystics of the most hair-splitting variety. They were much given to the study of mysterious magical properties of numbers, complicated systems of forces and counter-forces, and trans-migration of 'souls'. The seeds that were to produce these fantastic pseudo-sciences and technical mystery cults had already been sown among the Jewish elite of the first century.

Endless genealogies has reference to the endless study and bickering about genealogies. Endless could be 'without end' -- that is 'without object, pointless' or, alternatively 'tiresome'. This word only appears twice, the other time being in Titus 3:9. The questions of genealogies arose in the Jewish insistence on proper ancestry of priests (Neh 7:63-65; Ezra 2:62). Indeed, care in this regard was commanded, but only to illustrate the point -- that Christ as a priest was far superior to the Aaronic priests, who were forced to prove their ancestry before they could even serve. The study of such matters as genealogies should not be carried to an extreme, for very little can be gained. But the study of genealogies came to be a great concern for some men -- rather than "godly edifying". These men put stress upon fleshly relationship, rather than spiritual relationship. To this Christ said:

"Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother" (Mat 12:48-50).

This study of genealogies did nothing but minister questions. The NIV has "these promote controversies". The various Scriptures in which this word question is used may serve to illustrate the types of questions intended. In fact, each occurrence of the word is connected with the Jews: questions of law (Acts 25:20, "of purifying" (John 3:25), of "fables" (here), of "words" (1Ti 6:4), and "foolish and unlearned questions" (2Ti 2:33; Tit 3:9). But foolish questions are not confined to Jews -- as we see among us: in endless and laborious debate, controversy, agitations, and friction over non-essentials.

They should have been concerned rather with godly edifying or "upbuilding" as of a house (or edifice). We are the house of God (3:15; Heb 3:6). We must strengthen and build up ourselves and our brethren in godliness. Knowledge by itself puffeth up, but love "edifies" (1Co8:1 -- the same word). The contrast is that of a bubble to a rock -- similar in size and shape, but one hollow and the other substantial.

Many questions which are very difficult if not impossible to answer, arise among believers. They often lead the simple believers into an inescapable labyrinth! And most of the questions give no practical benefit even if they are answered correctly. In this category we must place the "myths" and "genealogies" of this verse. Robert Roberts lists other such Bible questions as these, which are profitless to discuss at any great length: the fates of Enoch and Elijah, the exact meaning of remote types of the law, the quality of the wine and bread at the Memorial supper, the relation of God's foreknowledge to man's free agency, and so forth.

In our day we could add to this list: the exact time that Christ became a high priest, and minor details of procedure at our meetings, for example. Any experienced brother or sister can compile his or her own list.

We come together as a group to study God's Word and to grow thereby, into the perfect man in Christ Jesus. Doubtful questions do not contribute to this end. Neither does the forcing of our private views upon others under the guise of commandments. Neither does the putting forward of minor points as being of great doctrinal importance. All these things fall under the category of casting stumbling blocks before our brethren.

Therefore, when we meet together in formal classes (or at any time), we must study the Bible in a broad and balanced way, to gain practical lessons, to strengthen ourselves and exhort others in the most holy words of Truth. Paul tells us what is the true benefit of Bible study:

"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works" (2Ti 3:16, 17).
Let us listen for just a moment to Robert Roberts as he speaks of this matter:

"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 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 'neighbors'; 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 is and the commandments He has given by His servants the prophets and the apostles, and of His Son Jesus Christ... The crowning glories of the truth shine with the brilliance 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" (Seasons of Comfort, pp. 93, 94).
Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience and of faith unfeigned.

The end of the commandment -- that is, "The purpose (object, goal, aim) of all commands and revelations of God is... " The genealogies of v.4 have no purpose nor end; but the "commandment" (same as "charge" in v.3) has both.

Knowledge is the basis of conduct. The purpose of God's Word is to develop us -- personally and individually -- in these characteristics of v 5. And the "end" or conclusion is eternal life. To get side-tracked or, as Paul says in v 6, to "swerve" from this is "vain jangling" -- noise and effort without purpose.

Charity is from the Greek word agape. It is translated love in the RV and other modern versions. This is a self-sacrificing love, developed only through God's love for us. "We love him because he first loved us". This love for God grows into a love for all men -- even our enemies. It is gloriously explained in 1Co 13 -- "The greatest of all these things is love (agape)".

The word agape finds its profoundest expression in the New Testament; the pagan Greek writers could have had no conception of true spiritual agape. The Spirit created the word and gave it the deepest and most beautiful meaning of any word -- the personal relation between God and man, through Jesus Christ.

Our minds and hearts, like our bodies, are "earthen vessels" in God's sight, polluted and evil. Only God's Word can give us a pure heart; only His "treasure" can make our earthen vessels of any value to Him (2Co 4:6, 7). The word katharos (pure, or clean) originally simply meant the opposite of soiled or dirty. Later, however, it came to have some rather more interesting meanings, scripturally speaking: It was used of grain that had been winnowed from the chaff, of an army cleansed of all cowardly and undisciplined soldiers, and of any substance free of corruption or pollution.

A pure heart is guileless, open, sincere, full of light and truth, free from remorse and misgivings. It is serene, confident, innocent, heedless to the scorn of others. All this arises from love, manifested in an earnest and prayerful reading of, and joyful obedience to God's Word (Mat 5:8).

This "pure heart" gives us "peace" in a world without peace (cf. notes, v 2). And it promises peace in the world to come:

"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God" (Mat 5:8).

"Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? and who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart..." (Psa 24:3,4).

"The wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable..." (James 3:17).
A good conscience is an assurance of justification; confidence through the Truth believed and obeyed. Paul tells Felix of a conscience void of offence toward God or man (Acts 24:16; cp Phi 1:9, 10). A good conscience must be regulated by knowledge. We must know we are right in the way of life. By a good conscience we do the right things even in very small, insignificant matters -- which God alone will ever notice. This serves to build up our true character (1Pe 3:16). By way of contrast Paul speaks of a defiled and unbelieving conscience in Tit 1:15.

Faith unfeigned is faith that is real, sincere, genuine, actual. It comes from a Greek word anupokrito which means without hypocrisy. It is a trust (confidence, conviction) in God for all well-being, and not seeking any treasures in this life of uncertainty. Each day make decisions, not by fleshly criteria, but according to an unshakeable faith in God's care. "The just shall live by faith" (Hab. 2:4; Rom 1:17; Gal 3:11; Heb 10:38).

From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling.

In the only other places where the word here translated swerved appears, it is translated "erred" (1Ti 6:21; 2Ti 2:18).

The phrase have turned aside (Gk. ektrepo) means to twist away or aside, and is used in relation to creating difficulties for the lame in Heb 12:13 -- a painful wrenching.

In Tit 1:5 Paul tells Titus to "set in order the things that are wanting" The word here is epidiorthroo, which is the opposite of ektrepo and means to reset a limb after a dislocation or fracture.

Vain jangling literally means 'empty talking'. Idle, senseless, profitless. Similarly, Paul uses the words "vain" (Tit 3:9) and "vain talkers" (Tit 1:10). These are "without love" -- as the sounding brass and tinkling cymbal (1Co 13:1). Such are some of the "janglings" that may pass for exhortation and discourse amongst us -- if we lose sight of the purpose of Bible study.

The main idea is of a so-called 'religious' life which produces no good works. These men could talk glibly for hours about the things of God, but their talk was worse than useless in bringing them one step closer to true godliness. All knowledge that is not ultimately profitable for developing character is vain. The teacher who provides his students no more than pleasant intellectual exercises is teaching for naught.

Desiring to be teachers of the Law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm.

They desire to be teachers, that is they are ambitious for -- they seek the office and prominence as such. Perhaps at first these misguided men taught the types and lessons of the law. But the learning of these things came to be an end in itself, and a source of pride in achievement, and a self-glorification reminiscent of the rabbis, "the doctors of the law" (Luke 5:17; Acts 5:34), who walked about pompously in their long robes of authority. There is an important lesson here for self-examination. The flesh likes the limelight and is self-deceptive as to motives.

Such attention to detail without any practical value led at last to a reversion to the form and bondage of the Law, and a delight in myths and genealogies. This opened the way for the infiltration of more Judaizers, which in turn laid the basis of the Catholic apostasy (1Ti 4:1-5). The lessons for us are to avoid the spirit of formalism, to guard against mere lip-service, and to incite one another always to active love and holiness.

These teachers understand neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm. In other words they do not have an understanding first of all what they speak outright nor the underlying principles of God which their words violate. It is often the case that those who know the least or who support a questionable position speak the loudest and longest, with more arrogance than true spiritual confidence.

But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully.

This is an echo of Rom 7:12,16: "The law is holy, and just, and good." That is, the law is good, if a man use it according to the gospel" (see v 11; vv 9,10 are parenthetical). When we study the law we must remember never to give it first place -- but always to give precedence to the gospel. We must remember to study the law with a view to practical, personal holiness -- not supposition and controversy, not as a cold, dead 'student' but as a living and loving disciple. If we study the law, giving heed first to the gospel, we will glean the following things from the law: the lessons of holiness and purity which the rituals teach; the lessons of man's innate uncleanness; the defiling properties of sin; and aspects of the sacrifice of Christ -- portrayed in shadow. Also the love, and beauty, and wisdom of God and His care for man.

At the very foundation of the law was the animating principle of all God's dealings with man -- love. Love was the basis of the law: God's love in redemption, our love manifested in obedience and the love of one another. Any one who can study the law, and yet remain in the dark concerning this "weighty matter" is indeed in gross darkness.

The principle of love was encapsulated in the law. The flesh was inevitably condemned by the law. Man was basically wicked and prone to sin. And just as man was firmly and inextricably set in his course of sin, so the law was set in its policy of punishment. Man who lived by the law was trying to move a mountain by attacking it head-on. His plight was hopeless. The law was uncompromising legislation which promised death for the least offense. If man only took the law to be judicial enactments, applicable without reference to God's love, he would of necessity neglect the weightier matters of mercy and truth. This was the course pursued by the scribes (doctors of the law) and Pharisaic priests. In an effort to handle every eventuality they legislated even heavier burdens and more grievous to be borne. Thus Israel as a nation pursued the "law of righteousness", but it could never attain perfection through the Law of Moses (Rom 9:31; Heb 7:19) -- because of its rigidity and their own shortcomings.

Christ discounted a mere strict observance of ritual without love. He astonished the Pharisees by his new and divine interpretation of the law. He resurrected the greatest commandment -- the central command, the meaning of it all -- long buried under rabbinical speculations, and presented it afresh to the wondering eyes of the people: "Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets" (Mat 22:37-40). "For he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes" (Mat 7:29).

To go even further, love was the complete fulfillment of the law. What a marvelous vista Christ's statement had opened up!

God's law was seasoned throughout with love. Our love for one another is bound up in our mutual love for God, and our mutual desire to please Him by obedience and faith. Christ, by a perfect life and a sacrificial life, gave us an example to follow: "Sacrifice and offering Thou didst not desire... I delight to do Thy will, O my God: yea, Thy law is within my heart" (Psa 40:6-8; Heb 10:5-9).

Christ brought justification by obedience to the law, and by trust that God would raise him up from the dead to sit at His right hand. From there, as a mediator, Christ is the channel by which we obtain love and forgiveness of sins apart from the law; through faith. The great mountain of the law, which man could not move by his own strength, was moved instead by Christ's faith:

"Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not... ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and it shall be done" (Mat 21:21).

"He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea" (Mic 7:19).
The law of Moses was also important for moral behavior. These codes of behavior are reproduced today in most civilized systems of government. God's laws of morality without doubt were in existence from the beginning. Whatever we may read of enlightened judicial systems, even prior to the time of Moses (such as the code of Hammurabi), we know that it was due to the unconscious effect of God's laws, to a great extent. And when the Mosaic law was handed down and put into use, it became the medium for God's moral laws to reach most of the world.

Also, the law prescribed other rules of behavior and activity which, while not specifically commanded by the law of Christ, are nevertheless generally good policy. The law was for the organization of the Body of Moses on an orderly national basis, and its consideration may therefore help us today in organizing the Body of Christ on an orderly ecclesial basis.

Knowing this, that the law is not made for the 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 man-slayers.

"The law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did" (Heb 7:19). Christ is the better hope to supersede the law (v 2). The law could only convict a man of his own sinfulness (Rom 7:9,10) and force him to turn to God. Man cannot stand on his own righteousness or works. Man's weaknesses, his natural tendencies, separate him from the law of God. Through the mediatorial office of Christ, our efforts are accepted. "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them" (2Co 5:19). If man after this still clung to the law, he was refusing to leave what Paul called "weak and beggarly elements" and he was remaining in bondage to a system by which no man could be justified (Gal 4:9; 2:16).

The law might be studied with some profit as the writings of various Christadelphians have demonstrated. But when it is studied as an end in itself, the man who does so is only returning to the bondage from which Christ has freed him.

The word lawless means 'without law, contemptuous of law, not recognizing its authority'. Disobedient on the other hand means 'undisciplined, unruly, refusing to submit, even when the power of the law is recognized'. Ungodly are the irreverent. It is a word which describes positive and active opposition to religion. Sinners are active sinners, who 'miss the mark' (the actual significance of the Greek). The unholy are the impious, irreligious, godless. In the Greek, it is a word which signifies the ultimate indecencies. The word profane refers to the unclean or polluted, with an implication of ceremonial and legal defilement.

The six characteristics above may be considered together. They all describe the same type of person. Six is the number of the flesh. And these six words well describe the mind of the flesh, completely contrary to the mind of the Spirit in the first four of the Ten commandments (Exod. 20), concerning the one God, His worship alone, and the observance of His sabbath.

The next phrase murderers of fathers and murders of mothers refers to those who disobey the fifth commandment, "Honor thy father and thy mother".

Man-slayers are those who disobey the sixth commandment concerning murder.

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.

Whoremongers and those who defile themselves with mankind comprehends the breaking of the seventh commandment, against adultery; and goes beyond that -- to even more detestable practices -- all the abominations of 1Co6:9. The RSV has "immoral persons, Sodomites".

Menstealers is used only here in the NT. Literally it means 'he who brings men to their feet'; a slave-dealer. He commits the worst form of theft possible, contrary to the eighth commandment.

Liars and perjured persons are those who swear to lies; those who break the ninth commandment.

If there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine is a summary phrase which includes all not referred to previously. Sound (that is, wholesome or healthful) doctrine is discussed throughout the letter (1Ti 6:3n). The "unsound" teaching and agitation of crotchets and peculiar interpretations point to people who are seeking undeserved and unearned eminence and authority. This is an illustration of an offense against the tenth commandment, against covetousness and envy.

Thus in these two verses, Paul has included all points of the Ten Commandments. This is the type of man with which the law of Moses was concerned, sinners in every respect. "And such were some of you, but ye are washed... sanctified... justified... " (1Co 6:11). Christ is concerned with saints, not "wretched sinners". Christ calls us to holiness and life, not the inevitable sin and death of the Old Covenant.

According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.

The glorious gospel includes in its first principles a call to repentance from the dead works of the law of Moses (Heb 6:1).

This phrase might be best translated "the gospel of the glory" -- in which case it refers to Christ, who is called the glory of God: "We beheld his glory" (John 1:14). This reminds us of Paul in 2Co where he draws a striking contrast between the law of Moses and the gospel of Christ: The law, which he calls "the ministration of death", was glorious -- up to a point. But this glory (which shone on Moses' face) was to be done away. And Paul recalls the incident in which Moses covers his face, "that the children of Israel could not steadfastly look to the end of that which is abolished". Or in other words, so that they could not see the fading glory of the law (2Co 3). In the next chapter, Paul shows the permanent and transcendent glory of Christ -- the everlasting glory to take the place of the temporary glory of the law. This he calls "the glorious gospel of Christ" (2Co 4:4). In comparison with the gospel the law was darkness, but "God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" (2Co 4:6).

How Paul must have rejoiced when he was called from his ignorance to the Truth, to a system whose glory fadeth not away!

This gospel he says was committed to my trust. Certainly, a great deal of the responsibility for the preaching of the gospel in the first century fell upon Paul (cp 1Co 9:17; Gal 2:7). But we must think of ourselves in the same manner. That which was entrusted to Paul and the apostles was passed on to the likes of Timothy (1Ti 6:20) and, through the pages of Scripture, to us. God has committed His greatest gift to us: the knowledge of "the gospel of his glory". This is one of the "talents" of Christ's parables, which we have received. We must be able to show an increase in that which God has committed to our trust when Christ returns to assemble his servants and to judge them according to their works (Luke 19:15,22,23).

C. 1:12-16: Paul's Own Calling Away From The Law

The previous verse led 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'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.

And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry;

Christ Jesus is the regular title of the Lord in this letter and in 2 Timothy takes this form rather than the more common "Jesus Christ". This would be in keeping with Paul's stress of God as Saviour (1Ti 1:1). God was the first cause behind man's salvation; He was the One who anointed (the significance of "Christ") this man Jesus as our priest and sacrifice and mediator.

The phrase who hath enabled me is better translated "who hath given me strength within" or as the NEB "who hath made me equal to the task". Paul himself was weak and he recognized this (2Co 3:5,6); but God's strength could be revealed best through Paul's weakness (2Co 12:9,10). What an inspiring theme! This is the way that God works, seeking as His chosen vessels the poor and humble of the world, so that no flesh may glory in His presence. Thus, like Paul, we may say: "I can do all things (through myself? No... ) through Christ who strengtheneth me" (Phi 4:13). Can we ever exhaust the wonderful thoughts that arise from this matter?

The next phrase He counted me faithful is very interesting, for according to this, Christ reckoned Paul to be faithful while Paul was yet a blasphemer and a persecutor of the Christians. Certainly this shows that Christ can see the hearts of men and that God has perfect foreknowledge.

Still, however, He gives to each of us a choice. If we choose to align ourselves with God, then His grace will be "exceedingly abundant" toward us.

Paul was put into the ministry by conversion on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:15) and by a special calling (Acts 13:2). Compare notes on v 1, and Paul's commission in 2Co 5:18,19. Paul was shown to be faithful by his calling to be an apostle.

The word ministry is a much too 'churchy' word to suit our tastes. We would do well to remind ourselves that the "ministry" (diaknoia) is a service, not an office. [This word is in the Greek related to "deacon" -- see notes on the introduction to 1Ti 3:8-13]. The tendency in our ecclesias may be just the reverse -- as we move further from our beginning, privilege and tradition consolidates hierarchies in our midst. The antidote is a careful consideration of the requisites of arranging brethren in 1Ti 3.

Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.

Paul was before a blasphemer because being deluded by his great but wrongly directed zeal, he had fought for a time against God's clear revelation through Christ. He had been in the class which he describes in Rom 10:2:

"For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge".
The word persecutor appears only this once in the New Testament. But the thought may be illustrated by the following:

"And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women" (Acts 22:4).

"Beyond measure I persecuted the ecclesia of God, and wasted it" (Gal 1:13).

"As for Saul, he made havock of the ecclesia, entering into every house, and haling (carrying, hauling) men and women committed them to prison" (Acts 8:3).
An injurious person is one whose insolence and contempt of others breaks forth into wanton and outrageous acts. This is expressed in Acts 9:1 -- "breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord".

But Paul obtained mercy because [he] did it ignorantly in unbelief.

This verse illustrates the Divine principle of responsibility. We become accountable to God's judgement by enlightenment in the living way. Those ignorant of God's way will remain in the congregation of the dead (Pro 21:16; Psa 49:20; Isa 26:14; Jer 51:39, 57). But ignorance is the only barrier to responsibility to God. Knowledge brings accountability.

"To him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin" (James 4:17).
But if men come to a knowledge of the Truth (as Paul did), they may obtain mercy for their past sins of ignorance -- just as Paul did) -- by obedience in baptism.

Saul did not recognize Jesus as the fulfillment of the Law. His persecution of the saints was pursued in ignorance. No man felt the weight of his own sin as did Paul in this recollection -- but all men can feel the merciful removal of the weight of sin, as did Paul.

"Come unto me, all ye that are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."
And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.

For grace see notes on verse 2. Paul can never write long without bringing in the concept of grace. For him it was no mere abstract concept, but an operative force dominating all thoughts and actions. By the grace of Christ, and only by that grace, he was what he was.

The expression exceedingly abundant is a superlative one used only here in the New Testament. Paul had been exceedingly sinful; therefore God's grace and mercy was exceedingly abundant for him. Paul's case demonstrates the principle of Rom 5:20: "But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound".

Let us bear in mind, however, that all men as sinners are not entitled to any mercy whatsoever, apart from identification with Christ's sacrifice (Rom 3:8; 6:1). For in this perfect gift of Christ we become objects of God's grace -- eternal life.

Paul learned the true faith (belief) and a love for all men -- which he lacked while he was zealous only for the law. Those who have experienced mercy can best show it to others. Paul realized what his own condition had been before he had learned the Truth: and he felt keenly his obligation to preach to others (Rom 1:14; 1Co 9:16).

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.

In the Pastoral Letters there are five faithful sayings. The expression seems to indicate that they are sayings that had become proverbial among the ecclesias at the time of the Pastorals (between 60 and 65 A.D.); and that they are either statements of doctrine concisely expressed or else exhortations to Christian conduct.

It is likely that faithful saying is an echo of the prayer which traditionally followed the recital of the words, "Hear O Israel: the LORD our God, the LORD is One" (Deut. 6:4):

"True and firm, established and enduring, right and faithful, beloved and precious, desirable and pleasant, good and beautiful is this Thy word unto us forever."
Just as God was a God of Truth, so the sayings of the Apostle Paul bore the stamp of God, the stamp of faithfulness and authenticity (2Co 1:18, 20). As we consider each of the "faithful sayings" of the Pastorals separately we shall see their force and beauty. And we shall see the characteristic way in which Paul uses them to express the teaching of him who said to another Apostle,

"Write, for these sayings are true and faithful" (Rev 22:6).
Let us note the progression of the five faithful sayings, of which this is the first:

Five sayings, all in the Pastoral letters, which outline the process of salvation from Paul's viewpoint:

the beginning of our probation, with Christ's sacrifice for us, effective through faith and baptism:

"This is a faithful saying... that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief."
The continuation of our good beginning, by working in the Truth.

"... if they continue in faith and love and holiness" (1Ti 2:15).
Growing in the grace and mercy and peace of Christ:

"Godliness is profitable unto all things" (1Ti 4:8).
Gradually striving and growing yet further, becoming dead to the world and alive in Christ:

"... If we be dead with him, we shall live with him" (2Ti 2:11)
And the conclusion of God's work of salvation in us -- life eternal:

"... We should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life" (Tit 3:7, 8).

Other possible "faithful sayings" (although the same words do not occur in the text) may be found in 1Ti 2:3, 4; 2:5, 6; 3:16; 6:15, 16; 2Ti 1:9, 10, 13; 2:8; 3:16, 17 and Tit 2:11-14.

The phrase worthy of all acceptation is used only here and in 4:9 and means 'worthy of complete, uncompromising reception' -- as the reception of those who repented at Peter's pentecostal sermon (Acts 2:41).

The words Christ Jesus came into the world are used mostly in John's gospel, but has of course nothing to do with a pre-existent Jesus descending from heaven to assume the charade of an earthly body. It is used rather in a symbolic sense: of Christ as the "light of the world" arising upon, or coming to, the world (kosmos) of Israel. See John 1:9 (in which the phrase "that cometh into the world" modifies "light"); John 3:19; 12:46. We understand by Scripture that this "coming" of Christ was at his manifestation, at the age of 30, to the Jewish "world" (John 1:31). "He came to his own, and his own received him not" (John 1:11). And afterward, through his apostles, he also came to the Gentiles of the Roman world. (We certainly cannot overlook the fact that Jesus preached much of the time in Galilee of the Gentiles). In no way, therefore, does Paul's phrase under consideration here support the doctrines of a pre-existent Christ or the Trinity.

Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. Although it was not readily apparent on the surface Christ came to save both Jew and Gentile. Paul so often shows this in his writings (for example, Rom 15:8-12). Christ came to call sinners to repentance (Mat 9:11-13; John 10:9) and Paul shows that all men (both Jew and Gentile) have sinned and come far short of God's high calling (Rom 3:9,23).

We are reminded of Christ's abounding love for all men and his concern that all might come to him and be saved by the incident of the Syrophoenician woman. When Jesus departed from Jerusalem into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon he was met by a Gentile woman who sought his mercy. At first we are somewhat puzzled by Jesus' seemingly cold attitude to her plea: "He answered her not a word" (Mat 15:23). And again, "I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (v 24). But he wanted to bring to light what he already had perceived -- that this woman truly had faith. And he wished to emphasize and keep clear the essential principle that "Salvation is of the Jews" (John 4:22). Despite the apparent rebuff she continued to beseech him and he answered, "It is not meet to take the children's bread, and cast it to the dogs".

To this appraisal of the relative position of Jew and Gentile, the Canaanite woman readily and humbly assented. And she only asked to eat the crumbs which the children overlooked. At last Jesus opened his arms to her: "O woman, great is thy faith" (Mat 15:24-28). And he restored a sinner, who needed only to come to him in understanding and humility.

We can learn an important truth from this. There are no limits to the mercy of God, if a sinner is repentant. We would have written Paul off as one beyond redemption but God was able to save him. We would not have thought Matthew the publican a worthy candidate for the Kingdom; nor the woman of Samaria; nor countless others, yet the Lord chose them.

It is an easy human tendency to write people off. Indeed, we can mentally reject whole sections of society -- not unlike what the Pharisees did -- and avoid them in our preaching. But Paul preached to everybody.

Earlier, Paul had spoken of himself as "the least of the apostles" (1Co 15:9) and "less than the least of all saints" (Eph 3:8). Now at last, he goes even further and says I am [the] chief -- or foremost sinner. He says "I am" not "I was", the "chief of sinners! As the years passed, and he grew nearer and nearer to Christ, so his self-esteem declined. Paul's remembrance of his persecuting of God's saints was a constant reminder of his failures and shortcomings, and a lesson in humility and trust in God, and an exhortation as well to go on to better things.

He did not rehearse these things to glory in his past but to glory in the hope of a future that would not be his, except by the grace of God. Paul was not still the chief sinner -- but he was the foremost living example of God's forgiving nature.

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 form of the word rendered pattern (hupotuposis) occurs only here and in 2Ti 1:13. It signifies an "example to follow", an outline, sketch, or form to be filled in, "the first draft or sketch to serve as an outline for all future times". Other Jews who "rested in the law" might note the example of Paul, who was once zealous for the law, but was shown a better way and embraced it joyfully. And they might be compelled also to come "outside the camp" to Christ (Heb 13:13). Paul was only the first of many apparently hopeless cases who would find rehabilitation in Christ. In the great change he underwent, he was a model to demonstrate God's work with man (Acts 20:35; 1Co 11:1).

D. 1:17: Glory To God

This is one of the two interjections of praise to God in this letter. The other, longer than this one, is in 1Ti 6:15,16. For other examples of these prayerful outbursts, see Gal 1:5; Rom 11:36; 16:27; Phi 4:20; Eph 3:21.

Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen."

God is the ruler over every era of the world's history, so He is the King eternal or the "King of ages" (RSV), or "the ages". "The Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men" (Dan 4:17,25). This also refers to His timelessness.

The word immortal means 'incorruptible', enduring forever, or incapable of corruption. "The uncorruptible God" (Rom 1:23).

The word invisible signifies "unseen" -- Compare Col 1:15 and Heb 11:27. John Thomas has this to say: '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' (1Ti 6:15)... The Incorruptible Spirit Dwelling in Light is the Scriptural revelation of the indefinable 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 man to know; but to say that, because He is a spirit, He is therefore 'immaterial', is to speak errant nonsense: for immateriality is nothingness; a quality, if we may so speak, alien to the universe of God".

'"No man,' says Jesus, 'hath seen God at any time'; but Adam, Abraham, Jacob and Moses saw the Elohim and their Lord; therefore Elohim does not necessarily mean the Everlasting Father Himself. Elohim is a name bestowed upon angels." (Elpis Israel, pp 182, 183).
The word "wise" in the phrase only wise God is omitted by most texts. (It was apparently 'borrowed' by some copyists from Rom 16:27). God is one -- God is alone in His existence as the Uncreated One -- "there is none beside Him".

Amen means 'so be it' or 'faithful'. Paul thoughtfully, reverently, joyously agrees to this obvious fact of God's supreme glory.

It may be asked, why does Paul pause in this particular place to interject words of praise to the supremely mighty and glorious God? Why not somewhere else?

The answer seems to be found in a comparison of other similar phrases of Paul (as 1 Ti 6:15,16; Rom 8:33-39; 11:33-36). In these places Paul's consideration of God's merciful gift of salvation at last sweeps him off his feet. No longer is it sufficient to reason calmly and confidently -- in a point-by-point manner. All that men can do at such times is to bow abjectly before the spectacle of such power and love united in a single Being. "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God... For of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen" (Rom 11:33,36). If we are not 'carried away' by a consideration of these things, we do not truly possess the Truth. "At midnight I will rise to give thanks to Thee..." "Did not our hearts burn within us?"

E. 1:18-20: Separation

Paul concludes chapter one by emphasizing Timothy's responsibility to fight a good fight and to defend the true Faith, even going so far as to counsel the ecclesia to separate from anyone teaching otherwise.

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.

The word charge is the same word as "commandment" of v 5 and very similar to "charge" of v 3. The word has a ring of military sternness and severity -- an order. Paul has given Timothy the one gospel (v 11), and the command that no other be taught (v 3).

The next phrase according to the prophecies that went before on thee is probably better translated "in keeping with the inspired words which pointed to you". The word of God's Spirit, coming to Paul by special revelation (compare 4:14; 2Ti 1:6). In like manner Paul himself had been once designated by the Holy Spirit (Acts 13:2).

This may also refer to the teachings that Paul had earlier given to Timothy -- teachings that would lead Timothy to the Kingdom, if followed.

Paul wanted Timothy to war a good warfare. It was not a single battle, but a ceaseless and lifelong campaign against oneself (1Ti 6:11-14; 2Ti 4:7), "Abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul" (1Pe 2:11). Paul says elsewhere that there is a constant battle between the Spirit and the law of sin which dwells in our members (Rom 6:13; 7:18,19). This struggle against our own lusts is the true 'holy war'.

This warfare is also a constant struggle against the teaching of wrong doctrine, a "contending earnestly for the Faith" (Jude 3). The essential armaments of a soldier of God are found in Eph 6:11-17. Note that nearly all of these are defensive tools -- to defend against error and sin and the flesh. It is not just the war against theological error -- not just against the words of error. Erroneous teaching generally leads to erroneous practice. We are more vulnerable to a false manner of living than we are susceptible to accepting false principles.

"For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh; (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal; but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds); casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God" (2Co 10:3-5).
Holding faith, and a good conscience, which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck.

The phrase holding faith, and a good conscience has a similar idea to that of "holding fast" in 2Ti 1:13. See v.5, where these attributes of faith and conscience are explained. Paul fought the good fight of faith (6:12).

The phrase having put away in our version is not strong enough. It is better translated "having cast away". Here are not "honest doubters" of those "weak in the faith". These men willfully thrust these things from themselves.

Concerning faith is literally "the faith" (as v.2). It is not an abstract principle of belief or trust, but the whole body of doctrine.

Paul himself knew the utter devastation of a literal shipwreck (2Co 11:25; Acts 27:41). In Heb 6:18,19 Paul speaks of the "strong consolation" of our hope, "which... we have as an anchor". The faith and good conscience of the believer act as an anchor for his ship, the "ship" of his life. If he casts these things away, he has lost the mainstay which holds him fast to the Truth (Heb 2:1). He will then be tossed about by every disruptive "wind" of false doctrine (Eph 4:14; Jude 1:12), and what faith he has left will at last be shattered on the hidden rocks of the "enemy".

Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme.

The name Hymenaeus is that of a pagan and his actions indicate that he did not leave his origins far enough behind. Although a nominal Christian, this man was a continuing enemy of Paul and the gospel, teaching that the resurrection was past already. Paul refers to him in 2Ti 2:17,18: "His word doth eat as a canker (or gangrene)". His words enter into the sound and healthy body of the Truth (1Ti 6:3), and grow and expand, corrupting everything they touch.

The name Alexander signifies a 'defender of men'. Alexander was a defender of men and their 'rights' to teach whatsoever error they chose, instead of being a defender of God and the purity of His Truth. Perhaps he defended man's right to "give in and be men". 'After all', he might have said, 'there is only one Christ'. We cannot all be like him. God will overlook our nature; after all. HE made us. HE knows what we're like'. Perhaps, he is "Alexander the coppersmith" -- who "did me (Paul) much evil" (2Ti 4:14). Perhaps also, the Alexander mentioned in Acts 19:33. But we cannot be certain.

Whom I have delivered unto Satan means simply that Paul (acting in conjunction with the ecclesia directly involved) has placed the two men out of "fellowship", confirming their previous action in putting away the true faith (v 19). Cp Mat 18:17: "Let him be unto thee as an heathen man" (or a Gentile).

This delivery to Satan ["Satan" is the "adversary"] is explained by a comparison of vv in 1 Cor.5: "To deliver such an one to Satan" (v 5 there) is explained in v 7, "Purge out the old leaven; and v 11, "I have written unto you not to keep company"; and v 13, "Put away from among yourselves that wicked person".

Hymenaeus and Alexander became in Paul's eyes as "heathen". They were delivered back to the pagans of the Roman Empire, called collectively (because of their beliefs) "Satan", or the "adversary" of Paul and the true Christians (1Pe 5:8; cp Rev 2:9.13,24).

Something else may be implied here. A person who by wrong-doing (or more precisely, wrong teaching) puts himself out of fellowship with the Father (as did Hymenaeus and Alexander) has removed himself from Divine care. No longer does the overruling hand of Providence bear him up. No longer does his guardian angel protect him from danger. No longer do all things work together for his benefit. Such a person "delivered to Satan" (if he remains in that state) has lost not only eternal life, but also present comfort and well-being. He is travelling the natural unguided course of the flesh with its purposeless sorrows and ills.

That they may learn not to blaspheme means "in order that", or in the hope they will be moved to realize their loss. The word for "learn" comes from the word "discipline". Blasphemy here may refer to teaching false doctrines -- or "science" or "fables" -- subversive of the "godly edifying" (v 4). This reminds us of the "profane and vain babblings" of Hymenaeus and Philetus (2Ti 2:16,17), words which violate principles of the Truth, while pleasing the ear of vanity. To blaspheme is to revile, to speak contemptuously of God and God's things. Hymenaeus had begun to speak falsely concerning the resurrection -- the hope of the true believer. Idolatry and its immoral practices may also have been indicated.

Such people will be punished, if not directly in this time, yet in a time when even sorer judgement comes. This time of judicial punishment will be for the unjust; that is the blasphemers and corrupters of the Truth. Perhaps by withdrawal the individual may be made to realize the seriousness of his position -- the desire and need for fellowship with God, Christ, and the brethren. Perhaps he will then seek to return to fellowship with a humble spirit, eager to mend his ways and to do God's will.

Blasphemy may be hypocrisy -- as indicated in Rev 2:9:

"I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are of the synagogue of Satan".
Any teaching or act of a believer which is contrary to a faithful walk in the Truth is 'hypocrisy' and, by this definition, blasphemy as well. Blasphemy is the denial of God or the denial of His power. Paul speaks of this blasphemy in a warning of apostasy in the last days, which may apply to the ecclesia.

"Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof, from such turn away... Ever learning and never able to come to a knowledge of the truth" (2Ti 3:5,7).
We may seem to acknowledge God's power by an outward adherence to 'the Truth' so-called, but we deny His power whenever we knowingly and continuously walk contrary to His commands. We deny His power to judge and punish wrong-doers. And we deny His living and ever-present power to save, uplift, and guide us into the right ways.

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