BIBLE STUDY


Paul's Letters To Timothy
by Greg Williamson (c) 2014, 2019
Featuring the text of the New American Standard Bible *
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Intro | 1 Timothy 1:1-11 / 1:12-17 / 1:18-20 | 2:1-8 / 2:9-15 | 3:1-7 / 3:8-13 / 3:14-16 | 4:1-6 / 4:7-12 / 4:13-16 | 5:1-16 / 5:17-25 | 6:1-2 / 6:3-10 / 6:11-21 | 2 Timothy 1:1-7 / 1:8-12 / 1:13-18 | 2:1-7 / 2:8-13 / 2:14-18 / 2:19-26 | 3:1-9 / 3:10-12 / 3:13-17 | 4:1-4 / 4:5-8 / 4:9-22 ** | Articles & Definitions | Sources

TEACHING SOUND DOCTRINE
(1 Timothy 1:1-11)

1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus according to the commandment of God our Savior, and of Christ Jesus, who is our hope,
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To Timothy, my true child in the faith: Grace, mercy and peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
3 As I urged you upon my departure for Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus so that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines,
4 nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation rather than furthering the administration of God which is by faith.
5 But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.
6 For some men, straying from these things, have turned aside to fruitless discussion,
7 wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions.
8 But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully,
9 realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers
10 and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching,
11 according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God,with which I have been entrusted. (1 Timothy 1:1-11)

 
What Paul warned the Ephesian elders about had come true: false teachers were in the church. The pastor’s job is to warn them and teach the people the truth. If he abandoned the flock, Timothy would be a hireling and not a shepherd. - Warren Wiersbe [ref]
 

QuoteWorthy: Achievement
Someone said, “Poor eyes limit your sight; poor vision limits your deeds.” [ref]

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TRUTH MATTERS

Paul’s preoccupation in this first chapter is with the importance of maintaining true or ‘sound’ doctrine, and of refuting ‘false’ doctrine. This differentiation strikes a discordant note at the end of the twentieth century. It is not only that most societies are increasingly pluralistic in fact (an ethnic and religious mix), but that ‘pluralism’ as an ideology is increasingly advocated as ‘politically correct’. This affirms the independent validity of every religion as a culturally conditioned phenomenon, and frowns on any attempt to convert people. Indeed, one of the chief tenets of ‘postmodernism’ is that there is no such thing as objective truth, let alone universal and eternal truth. On the contrary, everybody has his or her own truth. You have yours, and I have mine, and they may diverge widely from each other, even contradict each other. In consequence, the most prized virtue is tolerance. It tolerates everything except the intolerance of those who insist that certain ideas are true and others false, while certain practices are good and others evil.

No follower of Jesus Christ can possibly embrace this complete subjectivism. For he said he was the truth, that he had come to bear witness to the truth, that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth, and that the truth will set us free (Jn. 14:6; 18:37; 16:13; 8:32). So truth matters, the truth which God has revealed through Christ and by the Spirit. Jesus also told us to beware of false teachers. So did his apostles.

- John Stott [ref]

1 TIMOTHY 1:1 - The Sender

Paul (1 Timothy 1:1)
This letter was penned by Saul, otherwise known as Paul. "Saul" (Greek Saulos) is transliterated from the Hebrew and means "desired" [ref] or "asked." [ref] Contrary to a popular misconception, Saul's name was not changed to Paul after he became an apostle. Rather, like most people in the Greco-Roman world, Paul had both a native/Hebrew name (Saul) and a Roman/Latin name (Paul). [ref] [ref] Much of Paul's career is recorded in the Bible book of Acts. As Saul began taking the lead in taking the Gospel to the Gentiles, it was quite natural that he would be increasingly known by his "Gentile" name. And so that is how others referred to him. And that is how he referred to himself as, for example, at the beginning of his epistles. (It is interesting to note that the only recorded instances of Paul referring to himself as Saul are in the context of his Damascus road conversion experience [Acts 22:7, 13; 26:14]).

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APOSTLE
apostolos:

“one sent forth” (apo, “from,” stello, “to send”). The word is used of the Lord Jesus to describe His relation to God, Heb. 3:1; see John 17:3. The twelve disciples chosen by the Lord for special training were so called (Luke 6:13; 9:10). Paul, though he had seen the Lord Jesus, 1 Cor. 9:1; 15:8, had not ‘companied with’ the Twelve ‘all the time’ of His earthly ministry, and hence was not eligible for a place among them, according to Peter’s description of the necessary qualifications, Acts 1:22. Paul was commissioned directly, by the Lord Himself, after His Ascension, to carry the gospel to the Gentiles. The word has also a wider reference. In Acts 14:4, 14, it is used of Barnabas as well as of Paul; in Rom. 16:7 of Andronicus and Junias. In 2 Cor. 8:23 (RV, margin) two unnamed brethren are called ‘apostles of the churches’; in Phil. 2:25 (RV, margin) Epaphroditus is referred to as ‘your apostle.’ It is used in 1 Thess. 2:6 of Paul, Silas and Timothy, to define their relation to Christ.

- W. E. Vine [ref]


“The apostles” are the twelve followers of Jesus whom he selected when he began his public ministry. Each of these twelve men observed all that Jesus said and did during his years of ministry on earth, and each was a witness to the Resurrection. The ministry of the Twelve in the early church focused on prayer and the teaching of the Word, not on organization or administration. Paul was an apostle in this same unique sense, having also seen the resurrected Jesus and having been personally called by Jesus to a ministry of evangelizing and teaching.

But “apostle” has general as well as specific meaning. An apostle is an envoy, sent on a mission to speak for the one sending him and having the sender’s own authority. Although not numbered with the apostles, other believers in the early church were considered apostles -- God’s envoys, set apart for special ministry. These early apostles were itinerants, who founded and taught new churches much like modern missionaries.

There is no indication in the NT that the office of apostle was an institutional one or a role to be filled in the local congregation. There is no indication that other envoys, sent by churches to their mission fields, had an authority similar to that of the Twelve or of Paul.

- Lawrence O. Richards [ref]

"Paul" (Greek Paulos) means "small." Which is ironic considering the fact that God used him in such a large way. In fact, it is not too much to say that no one other than Jesus Christ himself has had as much influence on the Christian faith and those who practice it. [ref] Following a dramatic encounter with the risen Christ, the devout Jewish Pharisee and church-persecutor became  the "apostle of the heart set free" (to borrow from the title of the book by F. F. Bruce). Paul was a theologian, pastor, church planter, and author whom God used in a monumental way.

Lest we forget, Paul paid a very high price for his commission as an apostle of Jesus Christ. We can safely assume, for example, that Paul's family disowned him following his conversion. As renowned historian William Ramsay observed: "The whole history of the Jews shows what was likely to be the feeling among his parents and brothers and sisters, when he not merely became a Christian, but went to the Gentiles. Their pride was outraged; and we should naturally expect that such a family would regard Paul as an apostate, a foe to God and the chosen race, and a disgrace to the family; his own relatives might be expected to be his most bitter enemies." [ref] What's more, Paul traded in a prestigious career as a devout Pharisee for a long list of hardships endured for the sake of the Gospel, including (but not limited to): imprisonment, severe beatings, starvation, shipwrecks, exposure, and the many perils associated with travel in the ancient world (see 2 Corinthians 11:23-28).

PAUL'S MISSIONARY JOURNEYS
Paul's Missionary Journeys: 1st | 2nd | 3rd | Paul's Trip To Rome

Tradition tells us that Paul died c. A.D. 66-67, during the intense persecution under Emperor Nero (Nero died in the summer of A.D. 68). [ref] [ref] His second letter to Timothy contains what has been described as Paul's own epitaph: "Now the time has come for me to die. My life is like a drink offering being poured out on the altar. I have fought well. I have finished the race, and I have been faithful. So a crown will be given to me for pleasing the Lord. He judges fairly, and on the day of judgment he will give a crown to me and to everyone else who wants him to appear with power" (2 Timothy 4:6-8, CEV).

an apostle (1 Timothy 1:1)
While "apostle" can refer to an official representative sent on a mission or assignment, here it "is to be understood in the eminent sense and is to be confined to the Twelve plus Paul. These were called to go on their mission by Christ Jesus himself, and no others were ever called and sent out in the same way." [ref]

Not having been one of the original 12 apostles (Peter, Matthew, etc.), Paul many times found himself having to defend his apostolic authority (Romans 1:1; 11:13; 1 Corinthians 1:1; 9:1, 2; 15:9; 2 Corinthians 1:1; 12:12; Galatians 1:1; Ephesians 1:1; Colossians 1:1; 1 Timothy 1:1; 2:7; 2 Timothy 1:1, 11; Titus 1:1). [ref] In the case of the pastoral letters, doubtless he did so for the benefit of the churches in general and their unruly members in particular. [ref] "Here are the apostle’s own words, set down by the apostle himself. They are both a written authorization that grant Timothy the right to act for Paul in this apostolic work and written directions about which no person could quibble." [ref]

according to the commandment (1 Timothy 1:1)
It was more customary for Paul to link his apostolic calling to "the will of God" (1 Corinthians 1:1; 2 Corinthians 1:1; Ephesians 1:1; Colossians 1:1; 2 Timothy 1:1). "Commandment" includes "the authoritative injunction, as well as the commission, of God." [ref]

This phrase could be translated "by way of command," which "was apparently used on official notices, meaning ‘by order of’, and ... it ‘suggests a royal command which must be obeyed.’" [ref] Paul "is an apostle under orders," [ref] having received a royal commission from the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, with all the authority that conveyed. What's more, as his official representative, Timothy had a share in Paul's authority. God had commissioned Paul and, through Paul, God had placed Timothy at Ephesus. [ref]

God our Savior (1 Timothy 1:1)
"God is by nature a saving God and the source of our salvation, which He planned from eternity past (cf. 2 Thess. 2:13)." [ref] God is called "Savior" several times in the OT, most notably in Isaiah (Isaiah 43:3; 45:15, 21), and eight times in the NT (Luke 1:47; Jude 1:25), including six times by Paul in his pastoral letters (1 Timothy 1:1; 2:3; 4:10; Titus 1:3; 2:10; 3:4), while the idea is found in other of Paul's writings, as well (1 Corinthians 1:21; Ephesians 2:4-5, 8; Philippians 1:28). [ref]

While it is true that the pagan world referred to its mythtological gods and deified emperors as saviors, Paul's use of the term (whether for God or for Jesus Christ) derives from the Scriptures -- that is, from the OT and from NT revelation. [ref] [ref]

Christ Jesus, (who is) our hope (1 Timothy 1:1)
In his pastoral letters, Paul prefers to use "Christ Jesus" rather than "Jesus Christ" (Jesus 0x; Jesus Christ 6x; Christ Jesus 25x), apparently in order to emphasize the fact of Jesus as Israel's Messiah/God's Anointed (both "Messiah" [Hebrew] and "Christ" [Greek] mean "one who is anointed" [ref]). [ref] [ref]

Scripture often links hope with Christ (Ephesians 2:12; Colossians 1:27; 1 Thessalonians 1:3; 2 Thessalonians 2:16; 1 Timothy 1:1; Titus 2:13; 1 Peter 1:3, 13, 15). In short, "Christians have hope for the future because Christ purchased salvation for them on the cross in the past (Rom. 5:1,2), sanctifies them through His Spirit in the present (Gal. 5:16–25), and will lead them to glory in the future (Col. 1:27; 1 John 3:2,3)." [ref]

Paul's words here actually set the tone for his entire letter:

 
By their order the two persons thus designated made Paul the apostle who was to bring this salvation and this hope to men. Timothy is to regard what follows in the light of this fact, a fact that he has well known for many a year. For all that this letter will say about the errorists and about Timothy’s opposing them means that as Paul’s representative he is to stand as a rock against those who would rob the churches of this blessed “salvation” and of this “hope”; and all that this letter contains about Timothy’s arranging the worship and the organization of the churches and about the conduct of his further work in these churches aims at this one thing, to preserve and to extend the fullest appropriation of this our God as our Savior and of Christ as our hope. The light of these focal terms illumines the whole letter. Unless this is appreciated, much will be lost as we read the epistle. [ref]
 

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1 TIMOTHY 1:2 - The Recipient ... The Blessing

Timothy (1 Timothy 1:2)
"Timothy" (Greek Timotheos) means "honoring God." [ref] [ref] Timothy was "Paul’s spiritual child (1 Tim 1:2; 2 Tim 1:2), later the apostle’s fellow-traveler and official representative." [ref] "Paul's most cherished pupil, and protégé" [ref], Timothy was sensitive, affectionate, and loyal. [ref]

"Timothy was born and reared in Lystra in Lycaonia. Timothy's mother, Eunice, and grandmother Lois were devout Jews who had come to faith in Christ (Acts 16:1; 2 Timothy 1:5), but his father was a Greek. Evidently the father was not a Jewish proselyte or a convert to Christianity, since Timothy had not been circumcised (Acts 16:3). Timothy's mother and grandmother had carefully taught him the Old Testament Scriptures (2 Timothy 3:15), so he was open to the gospel when he heard Paul preach on his first visit to Lystra (Acts 14:6-7)." [ref]

"[I]n Acts 16:1-3 ... we are told that on Paul's second missionary journey he found at Lystra a young disciple named Timothy ... Paul was so impressed with the young man that he asked him to join the missionary party. It seems clear that Timothy had been converted under Paul's preaching at Lystra on the first missionary journey (about A.D. 47). He had matured so well as a Christian that only two years later (A.D. 49) he was ready to become an apprentice to the great apostle. He became one of Paul's most trusted helpers, so that the apostle could write, 'I have no one else like him, who takes a genuine interest in your welfare'" (Philippians 2:20). [ref]

"Timothy was next found in Ephesus, where the apostle joined him. Paul, on leaving, asked Timothy to remain at this place (1 Tim 1:3). While there, Timothy one day received a letter from Paul, the letter we now call 1 Timothy. Later, in another letter, Paul, writing from Rome as a prisoner facing death, urged his friend to come to him before winter (2 Tim 4:9, 21). Whether the two ever actually saw each other again is not recorded. That Timothy tried to see the apostle is certain." [ref]

"The last mention of Timothy is in Heb 13:23, which discusses Timothy’s release from Roman captivity. The exact identification of this Timothy is unknown. It may refer to the Timothy mentioned in the Pauline corpus. If this is the case, Timothy may have been held captive when he delivered the items Paul wished to have while in Roman prison (2 Tim 4:13)." [ref]

"Writing about A.D. 325, Eusebius reported that Timothy was the first bishop of Ephesus. In 356 Constantius transferred what was thought to be Timothy’s remains from Ephesus to Constantinople (modern Istanbul) and buried them in the Church of the Apostles, which had been built by his father Constantine." [ref]

QuoteWorthy: Character
Fame is vapor; popularity an accident; riches takes wings. Only one thing endures, and that is character. - Horace Greeley [ref]
J. P. Morgan was asked what he considered the best bank collateral. He replied, “Character.” [ref]

(my) true child in (the) faith (1 Timothy 1:2)
While Paul often thought of himself in familial terms (1 Corinthians 4:15, 17; Galatians 4:19; Philippians 2:22; 1 Thessalonians 2:7, 11; 1 Timothy 1:1, 18; 2 Timothy 1:2; Titus 1:4; Philemon 1:10), such seems not to be his point here. Because the words "my" and "the" are not in the original (they were supplied by the translators), it seems that rather than serving as a reminder that Timothy had been converted by Paul (see next paragraph), the point here is that Timothy is "a genuine child (of God) in faith." [ref] Thus Timothy's "one object in the position the apostle has assigned him is to please his divine Father. As a willing and an obedient child in faith Timothy will want to do his Father’s will." [ref]

"We cannot be sure whether Timothy was a convert of Paul’s (see 1 Cor. 4:14–17) or whether the term son [NIV; NASB: child] only designates Timothy’s role and service as the younger one who aids one who is both older and also his spiritual nurturer and father (see Phil. 2:22)." [ref] [ref] While many commentators assume Timothy was converted by Paul, the Bible does not actually say that. Timothy may have been converted as a result of Paul's visit to Timothy's hometown, Lystra, during Paul's first missionary journey, although not directly by Paul himself. Timothy teamed up with Paul during Paul's second missionary journey and became "[o]ne of Paul’s most significant traveling companions and coworkers." [ref]

Grace, mercy (and) peace (1 Timothy 1:2)
"Paul commonly substitutes 'grace' for the more standard salutation 'greetings' (e.g., James 1:1). He typically adds the Jewish greeting 'peace,' meaning 'health, wholeness of life.' Here and in 2 Tim. 1:2 he also adds 'mercy.'" [ref]

What binds together Timothy and Paul in God's family is grace, mercy, and peace. "Each word tells us something about the human condition. For ‘grace’ is God’s kindness to the guilty and undeserving, ‘mercy’ his pity on the wretched who cannot save themselves, and ‘peace’ his reconciliation of those who were previously alienated from him and from one another. All three issue from the same spring, namely God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord." [ref]

Grace (1 Timothy 1:2)
One of Paul's favorite words, "grace" (Greek charis) is found in his writings more than 100 times. [ref] It is used almost 160 times in the entire NT.

 
The word “grace” is probably the greatest word in the N.T., greater even than “love,” for grace is love in action, and therefore includes it. ... In pagan Greece, the word referred, among other things, to a favor done by one Greek to another, out of the spontaneous generosity of his heart, without hope of reward. Of course, this favor was always done to a friend, not an enemy. When the word is used in the N.T., it takes an infinite leap forward, and acquires an additional meaning which it never had in pagan Greece, for this favor was done by God at the Cross, not to one who loved Him, but to one who hated Him. Grace here, is sanctifying grace, the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the yielded believer. [ref]
 

mercy (1 Timothy 1:2)
Mercy is "kindness or good will towards the miserable and the afflicted, joined with a desire to help them" [ref], and likely was included by Paul because of the difficult situation in which Timothy found himself, including his frail health (see 1 Timothy 5:3). [ref] [ref]

peace (1 Timothy 1:2)
"The Greek word 'peace,' eirēnē, means literally, 'that which has been bound together again after having been separated.' ... [W]hen things become disjointed, separated, there is no feeling of tranquility, comfort, well-being. The latter come as a result of binding together things that have become separated." [ref]

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SEPARATION OR PEACE?

The person living without Christ is living a disjointed, separated life. He is separated from God, other people, and himself. It is like trying to drive a car with four flat tires, the end result being lots of effort with little progress. When a person is born-again through saving faith in Jesus Christ, there is a deep and abiding sense of tranquility, comfort, and well-being. Even when difficulties arise, as they always will in this fallen world, we can experience the peace of God -- "a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good" (The Message) -- as we repeatedly turn to and trust in our Heavenly Father (see Philippians 4:6-7).

- AC21DOJ

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1 TIMOTHY 1:3 - False Doctrine
A PRINCIPLE TO LIVE BY
Doctrinal Purity

To maintain doctrinal purity in the church, we must appoint leaders who are spiritually mature. (see 1 Timothy 1:3-7) [ref]

As I urged you (1 Timothy 1:3)
"I urged" (Greek parakaleō) literally "denotes 'to call to one’s side,' hence, “to call to one’s aid.” It is used for every kind of calling to a person which is meant to produce a particular effect, hence, with various meanings, such as 'comfort, exhort, desire, call for,' in addition to its significance 'to beseech'." [ref] Paul uses this term 8 times in the Pastoral Epistles (1 Timothy 1:3; 2:1; 5:1; 6; 2; 2 Timothy 4:2; Titus 1:9; 2:6, 15) and a total of 55 times in his NT letters.

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IT'S URGENT!

Urgency implies action, but in Timothy's case, the required action meant he had to stay where he was, doing his job. Urgency doesn't necessarily mean doing something new; it may mean renewed effort or perseverance under pressure. Our responsibilities in life require an occasional "urgency check." Marriage, parenting, being a church leader, or other long-term tasks can easily become halfhearted efforts. Do you have someone in your life who urges you to stay faithful? Meet regularly with that person or group to encourage one another.

- Life Application Study Bible [ref]

remain on at Ephesus (1 Timothy 1:3)
Timothy was Paul's representative and through him "Paul exercised his apostolic care and oversight"; Timothy's task was "to do what Paul would do if he were present and could do the work himself." [ref] Apparently Timothy had desired to leave Ephesus, perhaps in order to accompany the apostle Paul. [ref] At this point Timothy was Paul's official representative; following Paul's death, Timothy continued to serve the church at Ephesus. [ref] [ref]

you may instruct (1 Timothy 1:3)
"Timothy was to be undaunted and unintimidated by those teachers (who were probably older men, see 1 Timothy 4:12) who" [ref] were teaching "strange doctrines."

"Instruct" (Greek parangellō) is not a forceful enough translation, as the meaning is actually "to order" or "to command." [ref] "Paul used military language to help Timothy and his people see the seriousness of the problem (1 Tim. 1:3). Charge [KJV/NKJV; NASB: instruct] means 'to give strict orders from a superior officer.' Paul used this word (sometimes translated 'commandment' and 'command' in KJV) eight times in his two letters to Timothy (1 Tim. 1:3, 5, 18; 4:11; 5:7; 6:13, 17; 2 Tim. 4:1). He was conveying this idea: 'Timothy, you are not only a pastor of the church in a difficult city. You are also a Christian soldier under orders from the King. Now pass these orders along to the soldiers in your church!'" [ref]

certain men (1 Timothy 1:3)
"The indefinite pronoun 'certain ones' means: whoever and wherever they are. The implication is that their number is not large and also that Paul thinks of them slightingly." [ref]

Seveal factors indicate that these false teachers had managed to become elders in the churches in and around Ephesus:

 
• The false teachers were few in number, yet had a wide influence.
• They presumed to be teachers (1 Timothy 1:7), a role reserved for elders (1 Timothy 3:2; 5:17).
• Paul himself had to excommunicate Hymenaeus and Alexander, which implies they occupied the highest pastoral positions.
• Paul detailed the qualifications of an elder (1 Timothy 3:1–7), implying that unqualified men, who needed to be replaced by qualified ones, were occupying those roles.
• Paul stressed that sinning elders were to be publicly disciplined (1 Timothy 5:19–22). [ref]
 

teach strange doctrines (1 Timothy 1:3)

"The words, 'teach no other doctrine' [KJV/NKJV], are the translation of a negative and the verb heterodidaskaleō, the latter word being made up of the verb, 'to teach,' and the word heteros, which means, 'another of a different kind.' The idea is not merely that those exhorted are not to teach any other doctrine, but they are not to teach a different doctrine, a doctrine which is contrary to the true doctrine. Our word, 'heterodoxy,' namely, false doctrine, refers, not to doctrines of false religions, but to doctrine which poses as true Christian doctrine, but which is diametrically opposed to the true teachings of Christianity. This is what Paul is referring to." [ref]

What's more, Paul's use of heterodidaskaleō both here (1 Timothy 1:3) and in 1 Timothy 6:3

 
clearly indicates that there is a norm of doctrine from which the false teachers had deviated. It is variously designated in the Pastorals. It is called ‘the faith’ (1 Tim. 1:3, 19; 3:9; 4:1, 6:21; 2 Tim. 3:8; 4:7; 6:10, 12, 21; Tit. 3:15), ‘the truth’ (1 Tim. 2:4, 7; 3:15; 4:3; 6:3, 5; 2 Tim. 2:18, 25; 3:7–8; 4:4; Tit. 1:1, 14), ‘the sound doctrine’ (1 Tim. 1:10; 6:3; 2 Tim. 1:13; 4:3; Tit. 1:9; 2:1), ‘the teaching’ (Tit. 1:9; 1 Tim. 6:1) and ‘the good deposit’ (1 Tim. 6:20; 2 Tim. 1:4 [literally]). In nearly every one of these expressions the noun is preceded by the definite article, indicating that already a body of doctrine existed which was an agreed standard by which all teaching could be tested and judged. It was the teaching of Christ (1 Tim. 6:3) and of his apostles (1 Tim. 1:11; 2:7; 2 Tim. 1:13; 2:2; 3:10, 14). [ref]
 

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TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES

The problems faced by Paul and Timothy continue to plague the church. In every age, there have been those who would soften the teachings of Christ to make them more palatable to people. Some have been willing to say whatever would gain them a following. Others, out of curiosity, pursue novelties of theological debate. But serious problems arise, as Paul pointed out, when anything is substituted for the Good News. The challenge for believers will always be to communicate the unchanging truth of the gospel in a constantly changing world.

- Life Application Study Bible [ref]

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1 TIMOTHY 1:4 - Speculative Interpretation

nor to pay attention to (1 Timothy 1:4)
"Pay attention to" (Greek prosechō) includes the idea of assent [ref] [ref] and refers "to hold[ing] firmly to a particular belief." [ref] "These foolish persons are to stop their teaching other people and are at the same time to cease devoting their own minds to these trivial topics." [ref] Alternate translations/versions include:

  • "Nor to give importance to or occupy themselves with" (AMP)
  • "nor to devote themselves to" (ESV)
  • "nor give heed to" (NKJV)
  • "Don't let them waste their time in" (NLT)
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TEN FAVORITE MYTHS PEOPLE BELIEVE ABOUT CHRISTIANITY

Unfortunately, many people have accepted a number of myths about Christianity, with the result that they never respond to Jesus as He really is. They reject the gospel on the basis of half-truths and lies rather than a clear understanding of Christ’s message or its consequences. At right is a list of ten myths about Christianity that are common in our culture.

  1. Jesus Christ was only a great moral teacher. See: Matt. 13:34–35
  2. There is no evidence that Jesus rose from the dead. See: Matt. 28:1–10
  3. Science is in conflict with Christian faith. See: John 4:48
  4. It doesn’t matter what you believe, all religions are basically the same. See: Acts 4:12
  5. Christianity is just a crutch for the weak. See: 1 Cor. 1:26
  6. People become Christians through social conditioning. See: 1 Cor. 15:9–10
  7. Christianity stifles personal freedom. See: Gal. 5:1–12
  8. Christianity is otherworldly and irrelevant to modern life. See: Heb. 12:1–2
  9. The Bible is unreliable and not to be trusted. See: 2 Pet. 1:16
  10. All the evil and suffering in the world proves there is no God. See: Rev. 20:1–10
- The Word in Life Study Bible [ref]

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"SERVANT" IN THE NEW TESTAMENT

doulos: "pertaining to a state of being completely controlled by someone or something -- 'subservient to, controlled by'" [ref]

  • Matthew 8:9; 10:24, 25; 13:27, 28; 18:23, 26, 27, 28, 32; 20:27; 21:34, 35, 36; 22:3, 4, 6, 8, 10; 24:45, 46, 48, 50; 25:14, 19, 21, 23, 26, 30; 26:51
  • Mark 10:44; 12:2, 4; 13:34; 14:47
  • Luke 1:38, 48; 2:29; 7:2, 3, 8, 10; 12:37, 43, 45, 46, 47; 14:17, 21, 22, 23; 15:22; 17:7, 9, 10; 19:13, 15, 17, 22; 20:10, 11; 22:50
  • John 4:51; 8:34, 35; 13:16; 15:15, 20; 18:10, 18, 26
  • Acts 2:18; 4:29; 16:17
  • Romans 1:1; 6:16, 17, 19, 20
  • 1 Corinthians 7:21, 22, 23; 12:13
  • 2 Corinthians 4:5
  • Galatians 1:10; 3:28; 4:1, 7
  • Ephesians 6:5, 6, 8
  • Philippians 1:1; 2:7
  • Colossians 3:11, 22; 4:1, 12
  • 1 Timothy 6:1
  • 2 Timothy 2:24
  • Titus 1:1; 2:9
  • Philemon 1:16
  • James 1:1
  • 1 Peter 2:16
  • 2 Peter 1:1; 2:19
  • Jude 1:1
  • Revelation 1:1; 2:20; 6:15; 7:3; 10:7; 11:18; 13:16; 15:3; 19:2, 5, 18; 22:3, 6
syndoulos: "one who is a fellow slave or a slave alongside another slave -- 'fellow slave.'" [ref]
  • Matthew 18:28, 29, 31, 33; 24:49
  • Colossians 1:7; 4:7
  • Revelation 6:11; 19:10; 22:9
diakonos: "a person who renders service -- 'servant'" [ref]
  • Matthew 20:26; 22:13; 23:11
  • Mark 9:35; 10:43
  • John 2:5, 9; 12:26
  • Romans 13:4; 15:8; 16:1
  • 1 Corinthians 3:5
  • 2 Corinthians 3:6; 6:4; 11:15, 23
  • Galatians 2:17
  • Ephesians 3:7; 6:21
  • Philippians 1:1
  • Colossians 1:7, 23, 25; 4:7
  • 1 Timothy 3:8, 12; 4:6

hypēretēs: "a person who renders service -- 'servant'" [ref]

  • Matthew 5:25; 26:58
  • Mark 14:54, 65
  • Luke 1:2; 4:20
  • John 7:32, 45, 46; 18:3, 12, 18, 22, 36; 19:6
  • Acts 5:22, 26; 13:5; 26:16
  • 1 Corinthians 4:1

oiketes: "a servant in a household -- 'house servant, household servant, personal servant'" [ref]

  • Luke 16:13
  • Acts 10:7
  • Romans 14:4
  • 1 Peter 2:18

- AC21DOJ

myths and endless genealogies (1 Timothy 1:4)
A "myth" (Greek mythos) is "a legendary story or account, normally about supernatural beings, events, or cultural heroes, and in the NT always with an unfavorable connotation -- ‘legend, myth, tale, story, fable.’" [ref] A strong case can be made for the fact that here "Paul refers to Jewish Old Testament genealogies; the Old Testament lists of ancestors were amplified, names of wives were invented, allegorical and additional tales were woven into them." [ref] [ref] (Some commentators believe "[t]he myths and genealogies were probably Gnostic or proto-Gnostic teachings." [ref])

While there is certainly a legitimate place for biblical genealogies (Genesis 10; 1 Chronicles 1–9; Matthew 1:1–17; Luke 3:23–38), there was a false belief that one's salvation depended "on having a lineage that could be traced back to Abraham," whereas the "NT teaches that salvation requires sharing Abraham’s faith whether or not one shares his bloodline (Romans 4)." [ref]

Paul immediately "indicates two consequences of the false teaching, which are enough in themselves to condemn it. It obstructs both faith and love" (1 Timothy 1:4-5). [ref]

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THE BIBLE CODE BOOK
One modern version of the "myths and endless genealogies" denounced by Paul might be the endless search for supposed secret messages hidden within the Bible's text, an approach now enshrined in The Bible Code book. One skeptic has written a helpful review of the book and its methodology (Hidden Messages and The Bible Code), at the end of which he concludes:

The promoters of hidden-message claims say, “How could such amazing coincidences be the product of random chance?” I think the real question should be, “How could such coincidences not be the inevitable product of a huge sequence of trials on a large, essentially random database?”

Once I learned how to navigate in puzzle-space, finding “incredible” predictions became a routine affair. I found “comet,” “Hale,” and “Bopp” linked in KJV Genesis, along with “forty” and “died,” which could be interpreted as an obvious reference to Heaven’s Gate. I found “Trinity,” “Los Alamos,” “atom,” and “bomb” encoded together in Edwards, in a section containing references to “security,” “test,” and “anti-fascist.” And I found “Hitler” linked to “Nazi” dozens of times in several books. When I set out to engineer a “hidden code” link of “code” and “bogus” in KJV Genesis, I was able to produce sixty closely linked pairs. And every single one of these pairs could fit inside a reasonably sized puzzle.

The source of the mysterious “Bible code” has been revealed -- it’s homo sapiens.

Now somebody go tell Oprah.

- AC21DOJ

Also see: Are Bible Codes credible? | The Bible Code

mere speculation (1 Timothy 1:4)
This word (Greek ekzētēsis) combines the ideas of "controversy" and "useless speculation." [ref] "These false teachings embroiled the Ephesian church in endless and irrelevant questions, controversies, and speculation. ... Worthless and irrelevant discussions can quickly crowd out the life-changing message of Christ. Religious speculation and theological arguments about minute details may seem harmless at first, but they have a way of sidetracking us from the central message of the gospel -- the person and work of Jesus Christ. " [ref]

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CHRISTIAN CULTS
"One of the most successful arts of the adversary of souls [= Satan] has been to mingle fable with truth; and when he cannot overthrow the truth by direct opposition, to neutralize it by mingling with it much that is false and frivolous." [ref] Christian cults -- Christian Science, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, etc -- depend heavily on strange doctrines, myths, and fables. (See this webpage for more info.)

- AC21DOJ]


DON'T BE DECEIVED

The damage that false teachers cause is not limited to the cults, nor to past days in church history. Some of the characteristics of false teachers show up in churches and ministries professing to be faithful to the true gospel. Many leaders and authorities today demand allegiance; some would even have us turn from Christ to follow them. Because they seem to know the Bible, their influence can be dangerously subtle. How can you recognize false teaching?

  • It promotes controversies instead of helping people come to Jesus (1 Timothy 1:4).
  • It is often initiated by those whose motivation is to make a name for themselves (1 Timothy 1:7).
  • It will be contrary to the true teaching of the Scriptures (1 Timothy 1:6-7; 4:1-3).

To protect yourself from the deception of false teachers, you should learn what the Bible teaches and remain steadfast in your faith in Christ alone. Doctrine is right and true only to the extent that it agrees with God's Word. Life Application Bible Commentary - Life Application Bible Commentary – 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus.

- Life Application Bible Commentary: New Testament [ref]

(furthering) the administration of God (1 Timothy 1:4)
While God's administration includes the entire universe, here the focus is narrowed to the administration of "his grace and Word or gospel ... which is the administration connected with saving faith. These men play with the Word; God’s work is not carried forward by their teaching, nor do their fables have anything to do with saving faith. They fill the mind only with pure rubbish." [ref] Worse than useless, such false teachings are a major distraction from the one thing of utmost importance: the Gospel.

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1 TIMOTHY 1:5 - The Goal of Admonition

the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart ... good conscience ... sincere faith (1 Timothy 1:5)
This "instruction" refers "to orthodox Christian teaching and ministry in general, in contrast to that of the false teachers mentioned in 1 Timothy 1:3-4." [ref] The love mentioned here "is the love of choice and the will, characterized by self-denial and self-sacrifice for the benefit of others, and it is the mark of a true Christian (John 13:35; Rom. 13:10; 1 John 4:7,8; 1 Cor. 13:1–7). [ref] Thus, when it comes to teaching, "[t]he test of a good discussion is not that we have enjoyed a verbal battle but that it has promoted mutual understanding and love; sincere, openhearted and based on faith." [ref]

Here Paul notes

 
the three channels through which this love flows: heart, conscience, and faith. And he indicates with one-word descriptors what must be true of each.

The heart is a person’s innermost being. ... The pure heart is the heart continually cleansed from sins by the purifying work of God.

Conscience is man’s God-given ability to self-consciously evaluate the rightness or wrongness of an action because he is made in the image of God. ... A good conscience is the self-conscious awareness that people have who “desire to live honorably in every way” (Heb. 13:18).

The third channel is faith, trust in God and reliance upon him. This faith must be sincere. Love is channeled through those who genuinely believe that God provides by his Spirit the very love they are called to give. [ref]

 

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LOVE IN ITS PUREST FORM

The false teachers were motivated by mere curiosity and a desire to gain prestige as intellectuals. In contrast, genuine Christian teachers are motivated by love, that is, love in its purest form. There are three sources of real love:

(1) In Matthew 5:8, Jesus said, "Blessed are the pure in heart." A pure heart is devoted to God and free from guilt and corruption. We must keep ourselves morally straight. God purifies us, but there is action we must take to keep morally fit. Daily application of God's Word has a purifying effect on our heart and mind. It enables us to love freely.

(2) In order to love properly, our conscience must be clear. First, it must be clean from unconfessed sin so that guilt doesn't hinder us. Second, our motives must be free from pride and personal gain. Then we can love openly.

(3) When we attempt to love others without our faith sincerely based in Christ, our efforts to minister become hollow and self-serving. Sincere faith enables us to love genuinely.

- Life Application Bible Commentary: New Testament [ref] (italics added)


GOOD CONSCIENCE 101

The Gr. word for “good” refers to that which is perfect and produces pleasure and satisfaction. God created man with a “conscience” as his self-judging faculty. Because God has written His law on man’s heart (Rom. 2:15), man knows the basic standard of right and wrong. When he violates that standard, his conscience produces guilt, which acts as the mind’s security system that produces fear, guilt, shame, and doubt as warnings of threats to the soul’s well-being (cf. John 8:9; 1 Cor. 8:7,10,12; Titus 1:15; Heb. 10:22). On the other hand, when a believer does God’s will, he enjoys the affirmation, assurance, peace, and joy of a good conscience (cf. Acts 23:1; 24:16; 2 Tim. 1:3; Heb. 13:18; 1 Pet. 3:16,21).

- The MacArthur Study Bible [ref]


TWO TESTS

[Paul provides] two practical tests for us to apply to all teaching. The first is the test of faith: does it come from God, being in agreement with apostolic doctrine (so that it may be received by faith), or is it the product of fertile human imagination? The second is the test of love: does it promote unity in the body of Christ, or if not (since truth itself can divide), is it irresponsibly divisive? ‘Faith’ means that we receive it from God; ‘love’ means that it builds up the church. ... The ultimate criteria by which to judge any teaching are whether it promotes the glory of God and the good of the church.

- John Stott [ref] (quoted verbatim)

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1 TIMOTHY 1:7 - The False Teachers (vv. 6-7)

though they do not understand (1 Timothy 1:7)
Rather than "recognizing their inadequacies and remaining silent, [these wannabe teachers] went on babbling as if with great authority, never understanding their subject (the Law), or even what they were saying about it." [ref] As one source puts it: "These were real know-it-all types who made people feel intensely stupid by intimidation, and who looked down on the simplicity of the truth as something for only 'common' people." [ref]

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1 TIMOTHY 1:8 - The Law (vv. 8-10)
A PRINCIPLE TO LIVE BY
The True Gospel

When evaluating false teaching, our most important criteria should be the true gospel message. (see 1 Timothy 1:8-17) [ref]

the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully (1 Timothy 1:8)
That is to say, the Law is "in full agreement with God’s holiness and goodness." [ref] Paul expressed this same thought elsewhere (Romans 7:12; Galatians 3:19, 24). Because the false teachers were using the Law in an unlawful way, they actually stood in opposition to God's holiness and goodness. In the end, they stood condemned by the very Law they claimed to know and teach. [ref] They promoted legalism, something the flesh (old sinful nature) loves since "rules and regulations enable a person to appear holy without really having to change his heart." [ref]

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1 TIMOTHY 1:9 - The Law (vv. 8-10)

law (1 Timothy 1:9)
"There is no definite article ('the') with this word in Greek and so the inherent quality of the OT law as such is in view. But the OT law is still in mind, since the types of sinful people surveyed in 1 Timothy 1:9-11 (i.e., 1 Timothy 1:9b-11a) follow the general outline of sins prohibited in the Decalogue." [ref] The Law actually has three primary applications: "as a bar with its threats, as a mirror to reveal sin, as a rule and guide to point out the works that please God." [ref]

The law is intended to "bind and restrain" [ref] those who will not or cannot live peacefully with others. "The Law is designed to show people their sinfulness. Thus the Law is not for one who had already recognized his sin and turned to Christ. That person is no longer under the Law but should now walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:13-26). The Law is intended for those who remain unconvinced of their sin." [ref] All of that is not to say that the Christian is not obligated to obey God's moral law, because he/she certainly is (see Galatians 5:16-26).

a righteous person (1 Timothy 1:9)
"The Law does not condemn a righteous man. ...It does not mean that the Law has no relation to the righteous; for him, it is a righteous rule which he joyfully obeys in the Spirit." [ref]

If Paul is using "righteous" in the sense of "self-righteous," then his thought here parallels that of Jesus when he said he had "not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance" (Luke 5:32). [ref] "The false teachers, with their works system of personally achieved self-righteousness (in their own minds), had shown clearly that they misunderstood the law completely. It was not a means to self-righteousness, but a means to self-condemnation, sin, conviction, repentance, and pleading to God for mercy (1 Timothy 1:15)." [ref]

A truly righteous person is "one standing by faith in the righteousness of Christ put on him for justification, and imparted inwardly by the Spirit for sanctification." [ref] While God's Holy Spirit works on the Christian inwardly, he/she still needs the law to work on him/her outwardly. As one Bible commentator explains it: "Doubtless, in proportion as he is inwardly led by the Spirit, the justified man needs not the law, which is only an outward rule (Romans 6:14; Galatians 5:18, 23). But as the justified man often does not give himself up wholly to the inward leading of the Spirit, he morally needs the outward law to show him his sin and God’s requirements. The reason why the ten commandments have no power to condemn the Christian, is not that they have no authority over him, but because Christ has fulfilled them as our surety (Romans 10:4)." [ref]

for those who are lawless (1 Timothy 1:9)
This applies to every type of law, since everyone's sinful natural tendency is to be the god of his/her own universe, with little or no regard for others. Thus we have speed limits, property rights, civil rights, etc. "If everybody could be trusted to respect everybody else’s rights, laws to safeguard them would not be necessary." [ref]

Because the list of sins noted by Paul (1 Timothy 1:9-10) corresponds closely to the Ten Commandments (Ex. 20:3–17; Deut. 5:7–21), many Bible commentators believe he had the Ten Commandments in mind while writing. For example:

 
The list begins with three pairs corresponding to the first table of the Decalogue dealing with offenses against God: (1) lawbreakers and rebels, (2) the ungodly and sinful, (3) the unholy (anosiois, “not devout”; cf. hosious in 1 Timothy 2:8) and irreligious (bebēlois, “profane”; cf. 1 Timothy 4:7; 6:20; 2 Timothy 2:16). Paul then listed violators of the first five commandments of the second table of the Decalogue: those who kill their fathers or mothers represent the ultimate violation of the fifth commandment, and murderers the sixth. Adulterers and perverts pertain to the seventh commandment, which was generally broadly interpreted to include all forms of sexual sin. Slave traders may correspond to the eighth commandment since kidnapping was viewed as the ultimate act of stealing (Exodus 21:16; Deuteronomy 24:7). Liars and perjurers clearly pertain to the ninth commandment. Only the 10th commandment (“You shall not covet”) is not included (but cf. Romans 7:7). Paul concluded this inventory of sinners with an all-inclusive reference to any behavior which is contrary to sound doctrine (lit., to “healthy teaching”; cf. 2 Timothy 1:13), including no doubt the very behavior of the false teachers themselves. [ref]
 

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UNGODLY & PROFANE SOCIETY

Paul tells Timothy that the law is intended to restrain several types of people, including "the ungodly" and "profane" (1 Timothy 1:9). "The ungodly" refers to those who live "without regard for religious belief or practice" [ref], and "profane" means "having no sense of the sacred -- a common sin of secular society." [ref] When people refuse to excercise the self-restraint that accompanies sound moral/spiritual judgment, then the government must increasingly act to restrain the population at large. As many Christian thinkers have pointed out, this has huge implications for America as, in the name of secularism ("God has no place here"), atheism ("There is no God"), and hedonism ("Pleasure at any price"), more and more of her citizenry turn away from God and his absolute standards of right and wrong.

- AC21DOJ


A PERVERTED LIFESTYLE

"Perverts" (arsenokoitai) [NASB: "homosexuals"] refers to those who practice homosexuality. Some attempt to legitimize homosexuality as an acceptable alternative life-style. Even some Christians say that people have a right to choose their sexual preference. But the Bible specifically calls homosexual behavior sin (see Leviticus 18:22; Romans 1:18-32; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11). We must be careful, however, to condemn only the practice, not the people. Those who commit homosexual acts are not to be feared, ridiculed, or hated. They can be forgiven, and their lives can be transformed. The church should be a haven of forgiveness and healing for repentant homosexuals without compromising its stance against homosexual behavior.

- Life Application Bible Commentary [ref]

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1 TIMOTHY 1:10 - The Law (vv. 8-10) ... The Authorized Doctrine (vv. 10-11)

sound teaching (1 Timothy 1:10)

 
"Sound" is one of the key words of the pastoral Epistles. Here it is the verb hygiaino (from which comes "hygienic"), which occurs eight times in the Pastorals and only four times elsewhere in the NT. (The adjective hygies is found in Titus 2:8). The verb means "be in good health, be healthy or sound" (BAG, p. 839). Both words are used with reference to physical health in the Gospels. But the ethical, metaphorical usage here is widely paralleled in Greek literature.

Does "sound" mean "healthy" or "healthful" -- that is, conducive to good health? A.T. Robertson supports the latter, as do Patrick Fairbairn and J.H. Bernard. But Lock says that it does not mean "wholesome" (p. 12), although this is the translation in Wey and NEB.

Perhaps this is a false antithesis. It may be a question not of either/or but of both/and. E.F. Scott points out that this phrase, "sound doctrine," fits in with its previous context (1 Timothy 1:3-10) and its following context (1 Timothy 1:10). He writes, "As contrasted with all morbid types of belief, the gospel is healthy.… Law is a sort of medicine, only to be applied where the moral nature is diseased; Christian teaching is a healthy food for healthy people, a means of joy, freedom, larger activity" (p. 10). [ref]
 

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1 TIMOTHY 1:11 - The Authorized Doctrine (vv. 10-11)

the glorious gospel of the blessed God (1 Timothy 1:11)
"This means either that the gospel consists of a glorious theme or that it is provided for by a glorious God. The emphasis here seems to fall on God rather than on the gospel, but the divine origin of the gospel is undeniable." [ref] Within the immediate context, the main point is that "Christ has saved us from bondage to the law and our own sins." [ref] As one Bible commentator explains: "The gospel reveals God’s glory; that is, the perfections of His person or His attributes, including His holiness (hatred of sin) and justice (demand of punishment for violations of His law) and grace (forgiveness of sin). Those particular attributes are key to any effective gospel presentation." [ref]

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WHAT TO DO

This epistle requires spiritual leaders to take a serious look at their lives and ministries. The apostle calls on us:

  1. to keep the gospel of Jesus Christ pure and free from any corruption from false teachings that would weaken its saving power,
  2. to give priority to prayer for those who are in places of responsibility,
  3. to choose persons for spiritual leadership who represent the best that the gospel can produce,
  4. to keep our lives under discipline,
  5. to give attention to all segments of the church family,
  6. to cultivate a life of contentment, and
  7. to be faithful to our calling in Christ Jesus regardless of what life may bring.
- Disciples Study Bible [ref]

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euangelion:

originally denoted a reward for good tidings; later, the idea of reward dropped, and the word stood for “the good news” itself. The Eng. word “gospel,” i.e. “good message,” is the equivalent of euangelion (Eng., “evangel”). In the NT it denotes the “good tidings” of the kingdom of God and of salvation through Christ, to be received by faith, on the basis of His expiatory death, His burial, resurrection, and ascension (e.g., Acts 15:7; 20:24; 1 Pet. 4:17). [ref]

"In a number of languages the expression ‘the gospel’ or ‘the good news’ must be rendered by a phrase, for example, ‘news that makes one happy’ or ‘information that causes one joy’ or ‘words that bring smiles’ or ‘a message that causes the heart to be sweet.’" [ref]

Rather than mere mental or even verbal assent, the Gospel is life-transforming truth that creates a radically new person who begins living to please Christ rather than self.

- AC21DOJ

Verse descriptions/captions are from The IVP New Testament Commentary Series

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*Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, © Copyright 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. (www.Lockman.org) | **This outline is from The Bible Exposition Commentary, by Warren W. Wiersbe