Thirdmill Study Bible

Notes on 1 Timothy 1:5-17

<< Previous Note(s)1 Timothy Main PageNext Note(s) >>

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.

That conforms to the glorious gospel - 1 Timothy 1:10-11

faithful instruction. "Healthy teaching" is an alternate translation of "sound doctrine" (Gk. hugiainousē didaskalia) that brings out the strong connection Paul made between teaching and social practice. The glorious gospel not only narrates the good news about Jesus Christ it also reconciles people to God and to each other in righteousness, that is, in right relationship.

Paul's experience of the gospel of God's grace - 1 Timothy 1:12-17

Paul's experience of the gospel of God's grace. "As an example" (1:16) to Timothy and the Ephesian church, Paul narrated his own transformative experience of God's mercy in Christ (cf. 1 Cor 15:9-11; Gal 1:13-16; Eph 3:7-9; Phil 3:4b-11). His testimony is rooted deeply in God's own testimony or "trustworthy saying" that "Christ came into the world to save sinners" (v15). Because gifts were only given to the worthy or those capable of some form of repayment in the Roman patronage system, Paul's description of himself as "the worst of sinners" (v16) in receipt of "the grace of our Lord" (v14) was jarring, counter-cultural and note-worthy.

Related Resources

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

<< Previous Note(s)1 Timothy Main PageNext Note(s) >>