Thirdmill Study Bible

Notes on 1 Timothy 1:4-11

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Stories and genealogies - 1 Timothy 1:4

stories. In Titus 1:14, Paul wrote about 'Jewish myths.' In 1 Tim 4:7 he wrote of 'godless myths and old wives' tales.' Coupled here with 'endless genealogies,' Paul may be referring to legends about well-known figures in the Old Testament found in many non-canonical Jewish writings of the Second Temple period. He may also be referencing 'genealogies' and 'stories' about the Greek gods propagated by the Temple of Artemis. Later, Gnosticism developed speculative genealogies about spiritual beings that populated their myths about the origins of the universe. See note 1:3.

Love - 1 Timothy 1:5

the goal of the commandment is love. Paul makes the goal (telos) of this instruction plain. His love for the believers in the church at Ephesus motivated this pastoral intervention to instruct their heart and mind, that their conscience might not be corrupted, so they might stay on course in their faith and love. See 1:14; 6:11; Titus 3:15; 2 Tim 1:13 and cf. 2 Cor 8:7; Gal 5:6, 22; Eph 1:15; 3:16-17; 6:23; Col 1:4; Philemon 1:5 where Paul coupled 'faith' and 'love' as identifying marks of Christian characteric—faith in Christ and love for other people, especially fellow members of God's household. Elsewhere, Paul adds 'hope.' Cf. 1 Thess 1:3; 1 Cor 13:13.

Teachers of the law - 1 Timothy 1:7

teachers of the law. The problem was not reading the Law, but misreading and misusing it. Paul encouraged Timothy and the church to study the Scriptures (cf. 1 Tim 4:13; 2 Tim 3:14-17), including the Law of Moses, but said plainly these teachers "do not know what they are talking about." Paul demonstrated sound readings of Moses about gender and marital relations, food use, treatment of widows, how to handle charges against leaders, etc. in this letter, and explained a proper use of the law in 1:8-11.

The Law's Purpose - 1 Timothy 1:8-11

One of the Law's purposes is to restrain unrighteousness. Paul described a particular use of the law here, the restraint of evil, including "whatever is contrary to sound doctrine" (1:10). This use is vital for a community's well-being, because it provides the basis for correcting members whose behaviors undermine the common 'good' (1:8). By pointing to this use of the law, Paul underscored the seriousness of the false teachings at Ephesus, as damaging to the life of the church and out of "accord with the glorious gospel" (1:11)

The law is good - 1 Timothy 1:8

the law is good. In accord with the OT prophets and Jesus, the Messiah (Matt 5:17-20), Paul recognized the Law of Moses as God's Word and good gift (Rom 7:12-13, 16). In order to interpret and use it properly, however, the Law must be read in relation to the promise God made to Abraham before the Law, and Jesus's fulfillment of the law and promise after (cf. Gal 3:15-29; Rom 4:1-25)

1 Timothy 1:9

for a lawless and rebellious people. The Law of Moses had at least three uses. Constructively, it served as a compass to guide the covenant community into righteous practices that maintained a loving fidelity to God and to neighbors. For "lawbreakers and rebels," the Law was a search light that exposed their wrong-doing, and a fence to restrain the damage their misdeeds caused in the community (cf. Gal 3:19; Rom 4:15). Because misreadings of the Law were the root of the problem in Ephesus, Paul needed to communicate that while the Law remained relevant, it needed to be used as a light and fence to correct those who were disrupting the church. Paul also corrected misreadings with proper readings of the Law about marriage, sexuality, the treatment of widows, and community leadership.

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