Thirdmill Study Bible

Notes on 1 Timothy 1:1-20

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The Salutation 1 Timothy 1:1-2

Salutation. Like the written address on an envelope, most first century Greek letters opened with the name of the author in the nominative case, some identifying modifiers, the name of the addressee in the dative case, a brief description of the relationship, and a greeting. As a Hellenistic Jew, Paul added the word peace to the typical wish for divine favor or grace upon the recipient(s). Unusually, he also added the word mercy, perhaps because he will repeat it (1:13, 16) below as he narrates his experience of receiving eternal life through faith in Christ (1:17).

Apostle of Christ Jesus - 1 Timothy 1:1

apostle of Christ Jesus. Paul was not on his own mission promoting his own teachings (cf. 2 Cor 4:5). He opened his letters to the churches at Rome, Corinth, Ephesus, Colossae, in the region of Galatia and to Timothy and Titus with the designation, apostle. He was sent as a representative of Israel's Messiah, Jesus, to tell the 'good news' about the victory his life, death and resurrection effected for the kingdom and glory of Israel's God. In the Psalms (65:5; 68:19; 79:9; 85:4; cf. 1 Chr 16:35), Israel prayed to God, our Savior for deliverance from her own sins and from the oppression of her enemies. Paul's commission was to tell the story about how the Savior of Israel became the Savior of all people (1 Tim 2:3; 4:10; Titus 1:3, 2:10; 3:4).

True son - 1 Timothy 1:2

Timothy, a true son in the faith. Most of Paul's letters are addressed to churches, but four are personal, two of which are written to Timothy. As noted in the Introduction to First Timothy, Paul described Timothy as "my genuine child," which may be a contrasting allusion to Timothy's divided parentage. His mother was ethnically Jewish, but his biological father was a Gentile. Though he was born illegitimately, according to Jewish faith, Paul described Timothy as 'a son with his father in the work of the gospel' (Phil 2:22; cf. 1 Tim 1:18; 2 Tim 1:2; 2:1). For Paul, this description meant that Timothy was a living reminder to the Ephesians of Paul's teaching and way of life in the gospel (cf. 1 Cor 4:17).

Paul Commissions Timothy to Confront False Teachers of the Law - 1 Timothy 1:3-20

Paul Commissions Timothy to Confront False Teachers of the Law. Paul began his letter with a clear focus on his purpose for leaving Timothy in Ephesus. He must confront those who were propagating false teachings about the Law of Moses. This opening section of his letter provides a brief summary of the problem (1:3-7), his apostolic corrective (1:8-17), his identification of Timothy as his apostolic representative and of Hymenaeus and Alexander as representative false teachers (1:18-20).

Initial summary of false teaching - 1 Timothy 1:3-7

Initial summary of false teaching. The false teachings at Ephesus which concerned Paul arose from misreadings of the Law of Moses, including false myths and genealogies that may have been tools for speculations about the origins of the world. Rooted in the ambitions of the false teachers, these misreadings swerved from a proper focus on faith in God's work, causing damage to the faith of some in the church.

Not to teach false doctrines - 1 Timothy 1:3

I urged you when I was about to depart into Macedonia. Some have described Paul's first letter to Timothy as a 'mandate letter,' designed not only to instruct Timothy for his difficult task in Ephesus, but to give him authority or a mandate before the church. The present tense of the participle (poreuomenos), may indicate that a form of this letter was communicated orally before the leaders of the church or the congregation as Paul departed Ephesus for Macedonia. A different doctrine. Timothy's central task was to confront and correct false teachings rooted in misreadings of the Law of Moses. The errors at Ephesus did not arise from a well-developed doctrinal system, but the ambitions of 'certain men' to be recognized as 'teachers of the law' (1:7). See note 1:7.

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