Thirdmill Study Bible

Notes on 1 Timothy 1:8-17

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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.

His service - 1 Timothy 1:12

his service. A common short-hand summary of his commission, Paul used this term (Gk. diakonia) to highlight that his message and authority were not self-generated. Nor was Paul some sort of secondary emissary of the other apostles. Rather, Paul's message and authority came directly from Christ to authorize him as an emissary alongside the other apostles

A blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man - 1 Timothy 1:13

a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man. Along with Luke (cf. Acts 9:1-19; 22:3-16; 26:9-20), Paul narrated the story of his encounter with Christ (see note 1:12-17) as a demonstration of the gospel's transformative power. Paul's pre-conversion persecution of the church was rooted in his readings and practice of the Law. His experience of mercy and forgiveness apart from the Law revolutionized his readings and practice. I received mercy. Paul's testimony about the grace and mercy he received from Christ stood in stark contrast to the false teachers of Ephesus, who placed confidence for character reform in law-keeping, which conformed to their readings and practice (see also 1:16).

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