1 Timothy 1
Read 1:1-5 - Ever listen to one end of phone call? - hard to understand unless you know who talking to, and what about - need to understand the background situation and context of the letter, particularly if it is personal correspondence to one you know well. Be patient, it will help when we come to examine contents later. Gallop through Acts to get background of Timothy and the church at Ephesus where he was pastor.
Background: Barnabas and Paul sent from Antioch [AD. 47] to Cyprus; to Pamphylia; to into Galatia; to Antioch, kicked out by Jews; to Iconium, more trouble from Jews; then to Lystra.
- In Lystra healed lame man, Paul and Barnabas pronounced gods. Paul preached healing in Jesus name and turn from vain idols to the Living God.
- A Jewish woman, called Lois, had married a Gentile believed Paul’s message that Jesus was the Messiah and risen Lord also her mother and her teenage son - his name: Timothy.
- Jews from Antioch and Iconium came and stirred up trouble and stoned Paul; went to Derbe.
- Then returned the way they’d come to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch [Acts 14:22,23 strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying, “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.” When they had appointed elders for them in every church, having prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed.] went to Pamphylia; went to Antioch.
- Sometime later [AD. 50] Paul & Barnabas decided to check progress of the churches they’d established and pass on ruling of Jerusalem council.
- After a disagreement Paul continued on alone with Silas. From Syria went to Cilicia; went to Galatia to Derbe then Lystra.
- See how church going, met Timothy (1st mention), [Acts 16:1-3 Paul came also to Derbe and to Lystra. And a disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek, and he was well spoken of by the brethren who were in Lystra and Iconium. Paul wanted this man to go with him; and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those parts, for they all knew that his father was a Greek.]his spiritual development had been rapid and Paul wanted to take him with them Timothy laid aside his ambitions and career and followed Paul.
- So Timothy (about 20) went with Paul strengthening the churches in Phrygia and Galatia. Timothy stayed with Paul throughout all his subsequent travels except when Paul sent him on special missions.
- Tried expanding north to Bithynia and west into Asia but God forbad them - then Paul had a dream of a man of Macedonia saying “Come and help us.”
- This was the start of Christianity to Europe. Troas to Macedonia to Philippi - started a church but Paul and Silas thrown in jail after exorcizing a fortune teller. Released by earthquake they were asked to leave.
- Established a church in Thessalonica, but again trouble from the Jews; went to Berea, Jews came from Thessalonica and again Paul forced to flee - sailed to Athens whilst Silas and Timothy remained in Berea establishing the church - Timothy was sent back to Thessalonica to see how the young church was going.
- Paul then went on to Corinth where he stayed 18 months, Silas and Timothy joined him there.
- From Corinth sailed for Syria via Asia - came to Ephesus. Paul spoke with Jews but didn’t stay but said he’d return; went to Caesarea then home to Antioch.
- 3rd missionary journey [AD. 52] - Paul kept his promise to return to Ephesus. Antioch; then to Galatia; then to Asia.
- Church now established at Ephesus. Two of Paul’s friends from Corinth were now leading the church there.
- Paul met a group of 12 disciples there who only knew about John’s baptism (possibly converts of Apollos) - baptised them in Jesus name, laid on hands, Holy Spirit come on them, they spoke in tongues and prophesied. From this nucleus a church was established. Paul stayed teaching them for 3 years.
- While at Ephesus there was serious trouble at the church at Corinth so Paul sent Timothy there.
- Gospel making great impact in Ephesus “The word of the Lord was growing mightily and prevailing” - people burnt occultish books ($5m. Worth!)
- Ephesus centre of Artemis worship and pilgrim trade contributed greatly to the economy. Silversmiths concerned in the downturn in trade, Demetrius organised a demonstration in city theatre (hold 24,000)
- After uproar died went to Macedonia then joined Timothy in Corinth spent 3 months there before returning through Macedonia to Jerusalem collecting money from the churches on the way for the poor in Jerusalem.
- Ship docked at Miletus, Paul couldn’t spare time to visit Asia, as he wanted to be in Jerusalem for Pentecost, so he called the elders of Ephesian church to come and meet him and he gave them final encouragement as he knew he’d never see them again [Acts 20:27-38]
- Miletus to Tyre to Caesarea to Jerusalem (AD. 58) - there Paul was arrested in the temple (Jews stirring up trouble again).
- Spent 2 years in prison in Caesarea, finally appealed to Caesar to get the issue settled hence to Rome (AD. 60)
- It seems Timothy went with him as the letters Paul wrote from prison in Rome were co-written with Timothy (Phil, Col))
- After released (AD.62) Paul sent Timothy to attend to matters in the Ephesian church - things had obviously deteriorated, leadership had collapsed and false teachers were doing great damage trying to impose Judaistic legal requirements.
- It is now AD. 63,64 Timothy has been saved 15 years and is in his early 30's, he has been travelling and ministering with Paul for 13 years. He knew thoroughly what Paul preached and had been entrusted with several missions. Now he was on a solo mission of great responsibility.
- Paul did not abandon him to it but supported him along the way hence this first of 2 letters written to him there.
Character of Timothy: Paul knew he was timid, lacked confidence, needed encouragement to be motivated to carry task through.
- Was experienced and doctrinally well grounded, knew the Scriptures well since childhood.
- But was young and liable to get caught up in philosophical discussions.
- Committed to the Paul and the Gospel.
- Keen Christian, life devoted to God but liable to get sidetracked and intimidated.
- This is Paul’s character reference of Timothy : [Philippians 2:20-22 For I have no one else of kindred spirit who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare. For they all seek after their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus. But you know of his proven worth, that he served with me in the furtherance of the gospel like a child serving his father.]
State of Ephesian Church: well established - Paul taught there 2 years, received his letter AD. 62.
- But false teachers were a danger (wolves) - legalists that had done such damage in Galatia and possibly Gnosticism.
- Church leadership and structure Paul had set in place had collapsed - possibly with Aquilla and Priscilla’s return to Rome.
- lack of order and discipline and some practical issues were causing problems.
- So Timothy on special mission to reestablish church structure, appoint leaders, combat false teaching and tidy up the practical details.
Nature of letter: [from OHP cf. with Romans] -Travelled, worked and lived together for 13 years - Paul knew Timothy very well - it was a father-son type relationship -so it’s a personal letter, can speak frankly to one you know well.
Exposition [v. 1,2]:
- In these introductory verses (1,2), Paul mentions "Christ Jesus" 3x; "God" 2x; and "Lord" once - God was central in Paul’s life - the thought of Father and Son filled Paul’s attention and this is reflected in his writing.
- God the Father is our Saviour - we often think of Jesus as Saviour, for such He is and that is what His name means and what He came to earth to do; but God the Father is our Saviour for it was His plan, His sending, His command that brought about our salvation - it originated in God[“Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” “My soul waits in silence for God only; From Him is my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation, My stronghold; I shall not be greatly shaken.”]
- He is God! - He gives commands, issues orders. We have a degraded and perverted God into a benevolent, pathetic Father Christmas who lets us do what we want in His kindness, grace and love - but God speaks authoritatively and with power! He gives commands and who dare disobey?! Paul was an apostle, not because he chose to be, but because God commissioned him. Paul was under Divine orders! There was no option, his apostolic service was first and foremost was in response to God’s command.
- Jesus Christ is our hope (cf. Col 1:27) there is hope in no other, for our redemption and inheritance is in Him alone.
- Paul greets Timothy, blessing him. A blessing that is common in NT letters - "grace and peace" - "grace" (χάρις) was the standard Greek greeting, "peace" (שׁלום) was the standard Hebrew greeting -but we should not skip over them because of their frequent use. These two blessings are so frequently mentioned because they are essential for our Christian life - without grace we cannot stand, and without peace we cannot come before God (Rom 5:1,2). The two are interconnected: we have peace only because Christ’s righteousness has been imputed to us, and this is given only by grace. Both these blessings are from God and are gifts. We are utterly dependent upon them for the continuation of our Christian walk.
- Paul imparted a blessing to Timothy - as priests have the role of blessing others - we do not practice this as often as we should. It is a beautiful privilege and has real power - to speak words that bring blessing into the lives of our fellow believers - to impart a blessing from God Himself! This wasn’t just wishing them well and speaking pleasant platitudes - no, these words had power! It is something tangible that a blessing imparts (cf. Mat 10:12,13).The grace, mercy and peace were not from Paul but "from God the Father and from Christ Jesus!" He was imparting Divine blessing! This is a role we are called to practice also.
- We need:
Grace: The favour of God - in order to stand (Rom 5:2) - we are forever in the need of grace and mercy which is found only at the throne of grace for we often fail (Heb 4:14-16).
Mercy: Springs from grace, pardoning, purifying and supporting - for we were sinners and depend upon Divine mercy otherwise we’d be consumed by His righteous wrath (Eph 2:1-9; Lam 3:22 (KJV)).
Peace: The consequence of mercy, peace of conscience, peace with God producing internal joy and assurance - because we were at enmity with God and need to be reconciled, for peace to be made between us and Him (Rom 5:1,2,11; Eph 2:13-19).
- "Grace and peace" is the blessing found in every single one of Paul’s letters in the N.T., only to Timothy is the extra blessing of "mercy" added (cf. 2 Tim 1:2) - Paul is writing to an individual, a person very dear and close to him - his son in the faith (i.e. he led him to the Lord); he knew Timothy very well and perhaps being mindful of his weakness and timidity added the additional blessing knowing his continual need of God’s mercy in discharging his commission.
- Grace, mercy and peace come to us in Jesus Christ alone, through His redemptive work on Calvary (Rom 5:1; Eph 2:13-18; John 14:27). Grace, mercy and peace are essential for our Christian life - they are found in God the Father and in Christ Jesus alone and are abundantly supplied to His brethren.
- God is our Father, Jesus Christ is our Lord - this is how we are to relate to Him.