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

DEFENDING THE FAITH
(1 Timothy 1:18-20)

18 This command I entrust to you, Timothy, my son, in accordance with the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you fight the good fight,
19 keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith.
20 Among these are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan, so that they will be taught not to blaspheme. (1 Timothy 1:18-20)

 
God had equipped Timothy, called him, and given him a solemn charge. There was a battle to fight, and he dare not run away. If we flee the post of duty, we rob ourselves of opportunities to grow, to serve, and to glorify God. When the winds of adversity blow, set your sails in the right direction, and let Christ handle the rudder. Otherwise, you may be shipwrecked. - Warren Wiersbe [ref]
 

QuoteWorthy: Church
Every church should strive to be a little bit of heaven on earth. It should be a place where its people can find a haven of rest from the dog-eat-dog atmosphere of society where everyone is out to get
his, regardless of what it does to others. [ref]

1 TIMOTHY 1:18 - The Obligation ... The Fight
A PRINCIPLE TO LIVE BY
Encouraging Our Leaders

We are to support and encourage our spiritual leaders as they confront those who are persuading people to violate God’s will. (see 1 Timothy 1:18-20) [ref]

This command (1 Timothy 1:18)
"This command," which "conveys a sense of urgent obligation" [ref], "refers to the task Paul described to Timothy in 1 Timothy 1:3-7 above" [ref] -- namely, "quieting the false teachers." [ref] Note especially the "instruction" (Greek paraggelia; same word for "command" here) mentioned by Paul in 1 Timothy 1:5, which 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]

I entrust to you (1 Timothy 1:18)
"I entrust to" (paratithēmi) literally means "'to place beside or to set before' (para, 'beside,' tithēmi, 'to put')" [ref], and was used of investing or saving money. [ref] [ref]

in accordance with the prophecies previously made concerning you (1 Timothy 1:18)
A prophecy is "a pronouncement inspired by God." [ref] "In 1 Corinthians 12:28 and Ephesians 4:11, prophets come next after apostles in the list of those whom God has appointed in the church. In Ephesians 2:20, believers, Jew and Gentile, are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets." [ref]

Seeking divine affirmation for ordination was a common practice in the early Church: "Clement of Rome (died circa 100 A.D.) [Epistle to the Corinthians*], states it was the custom of the apostles 'to make trial by the Spirit,' that is, by the 'power of discerning,' in order to determine who were to be overseers and deacons in the several churches planted. So Clement of Alexandria (c.155-c.120 A.D.) says as to the churches near Ephesus, that the overseers were marked out for ordination by a revelation of the Holy Ghost to St. John." [ref] (*Clement's Epistle to the Corinthians was written 96 A.D. and is "probably the earliest Christian writing outside the New Testament." [ref])

Apparently "the prophecies" are the same as what was "spoken at Timothy's ordination (cf. 1 Timothy 4:14)" [ref], although "[t]his was not an ordination service as we think of it today. This was probably a 'commissioning' for missionary activity rather than an ordination into a church office. Apparently at Timothy's 'commissioning,' several believers had prophesied about his gifts and strengths. These words from the Lord must have encouraged Timothy throughout his ministry." [ref] An educated guess is that the prophecies "singled out Timothy for special service in God's kingdom, summarized his duties, predicted his suffering, and strengthened him with the promise of divine help in all his trials." [ref]

Rather than trying to flatter Timothy, Paul's purpose here is to encourage him to be diligent and faithful. Besides not wanting to disappoint "the long-cherished hopes of his friends ... [for] his future success"  [ref], recalling the previous prophecies would "remind [Timothy] of the fact that nothing happens contrary to the eternal decree of God, that [he] is engaged in a battle which is not merely his own but the Lord's, and that [his] courage and faithfulness will certainly be rewarded." [ref]

that by them you fight the good fight (1 Timothy 1:18)
The meaning of "by them" is "arrayed as it were in [the previous prophecies]; armed with [the previous prophecies]." [ref] Nothing can provide more courage "than to know that God has appointed us to do what we are doing." [ref]

"Fight" is a military term meaning "to engage in war or battle as a soldier" [ref] (compare Ephesians 6:11-16; 1 Thessalonians 5:8; 2 Timothy 2:3). [ref] "Timothy is viewed as a high-ranking officer, who has received his 'orders,'" and is fighting the good/noble/excellent fight "against evil, particularly against the Satan-inspired perversion of doctrine described in 1 Timothy 1:3-12 (cf. 1 Timothy 6:12; 2 Timothy 4:7; Ephesians 6:10-20)." [ref] Defending God's revealed truth against "those who deny or distort it," and demolishing strongholds of error (2 Corinthians 10:4) is "a dangerous and difficult fight." [ref]

As the next verse indicates, Timothy's primary weapons are his faith in Christ and a clear conscience.

Being a good soldier would include: [ref]

  • being "engaged in a righteous cause"
  • being "faithful to his commander and to his post"
  • remaining wide awake and carefully "observing the motions of the enemy" and being "fearless in courage in meeting them"
  • never "forsak[ing] his standard"
  • remaining faithful until the end of his enlistment or death, whichever comes first
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IN THE BATTLE

Each local church is in a constant battle against the forces of evil. There are false prophets and false teachers, as well as false christs. Satan is the originator of false doctrines, for he is a liar from the beginning (John 8:44). It is not enough for a local church to teach sound doctrine and to proclaim the Gospel. The church must also defend the faith by exposing lies and opposing the doctrines of demons (1 Tim. 4:1).

It is important that our ministry be balanced. Some churches only preach the Gospel and seldom teach their converts the truths of the Christian life. Other churches are only opposing false doctrine; they have no positive ministry. We must be teachers of healthy doctrine (“sound doctrine,” 1 Tim. 1:10) or the believers will not grow. We must preach the Gospel and keep winning the lost to Christ. And we must defend the faith against those who would corrupt the church with false doctrine and godless living. It is a constant battle, but it must be carried on.

Timothy’s job was not to run all over Ephesus, being involved in a multitude of tasks. His job was to care for the church by winning the lost, teaching the saved, and defending the faith. Any task that did not relate to these ministries would have to be abandoned.

One reason some local churches are having problems is that the pastors and spiritual leaders are involved in too many extracurricular activities and are not doing the tasks God has called them to do.

It might be a good idea for our churches to take a spiritual inventory!

- Warren Wiersbe [ref]

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PROPHECY, PROPHESYING

signifies “the speaking forth of the mind and counsel of God” (pro, “forth,” phemi, “to speak”); in the NT it is used (a) of the gift (e.g., Rom. 12:6; 1 Cor. 12:10; 13:2); (b) either of the exercise of the gift or of that which is “prophesied” (e.g., Matt. 13:14; 1 Cor. 13:8; 14:6, 22 and 1 Thess. 5:20, “prophesying(s)”; 1 Tim. 1:18; 4:14; 2 Pet. 1:20, 21; Rev. 1:3; 11:6; 19:10; 22:7, 10, 18, 19).

Though much of OT prophecy was purely predictive (see Micah 5:2, e.g., and cf. John 11:51), prophecy is not necessarily, nor even primarily, fore-telling. It is the declaration of that which cannot be known by natural means (Matt. 26:68), it is the forth-telling of the will of God, whether with reference to the past, the present, or the future (see Gen. 20:7; Deut. 18:18; Rev. 10:11; 11:3 ...).

In such passages as 1 Cor. 12:28; Eph. 2:20, the ‘prophets’ are placed after the ‘Apostles,’ since not the prophets of Israel are intended, but the ‘gifts’ of the ascended Lord (Eph. 4:8, 11; cf. Acts 13:1); the purpose of their ministry was to edify, to comfort, and to encourage the believers (1 Cor. 14:3), while its effect upon unbelievers was to show that the secrets of a man’s heart are known to God, to convict of sin, and to constrain to worship (1 Cor. 14:24, 25).

With the completion of the canon of Scripture prophecy apparently passed away (1 Cor. 13:8, 9). In his measure the teacher has taken the place of the prophet (cf. the significant change in 2 Pet. 2:1). The difference is that, whereas the message of the prophet was a direct revelation of the mind of God for the occasion, the message of the teacher is gathered from the completed revelation contained in the Scriptures.

- W. E. Vine [ref]


Prophets, both those of the OT and the NT, were spokesmen for God to their own generation. Today, they minister to us in two ways. First, they call us to that same holy and righteous life to which they called their contemporaries. Second, they portray a future determined by God’s plans and purposes. We can be sure that history is not careening out of control. History marches toward a divine denouement, an ending that will give all that has happened meaning and purpose.

The question of whether or not there are modern-day prophets is a debatable one. But one thing is sure: God does not leave us without guidance. We have his Word, his Spirit, and his people to show us his way. With or without prophets, God directs us when we commit our lives to him.

- Lawrence O. Richards [ref]

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1 TIMOTHY 1:19 - The Danger (vv. 19-20)

keeping faith and a good conscience (1 Timothy 1:19)
This is how Timothy can fight the good fight. Which is why the NET reads: "18 ... fight the good fight. 19 To do this you must hold firmly to faith and a good conscience, ... " "In the Pastoral Epistles, 'faith' frequently, though not always, refers to the body of Christian truth (cf. 3:9; 4:1, 6; 5:8, 12; 6:21; 2 Tim. 3:8; 4:7; Titus 1:4, 13; 3:15)." [ref]

"Keeping" means "holding fast." [ref] Simply put, "keeping faith and a good conscience" means "continuing to believe the truths of the gospel and to practice what the gospel requires." [ref]

"A good conscience is important to a good warfare and a good ministry. The magazine editor H.L. Mencken defined conscience as 'the inner voice which warns us that somebody may be looking.' But a man with a good conscience will do the will of God in spite of who is watching or what people may say." [ref]

One commentator from yesteryear -- obviously not a Southern Baptist -- says that "[f]aith is like a very precious liquor; a good conscience is the clean, pure glass that contains it." [ref]

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LESS GRIPING, MORE GRIPPING
Timothy was told to fight the good fight by keeping a tight grip on his faith. How many times do we find ourselves griping when we should be gripping?

Too often we suffer from the frog syndrome: we leap over the facts while jumping to conclusions. For instance, we may find ourselves complaining about a situation without realizing that it actually represents a major improvement over the way things used to be.

President Harry S. Truman was a Missourian with a straightforward, plain manner of speaking. When he made a speech at the Washington Garden Club, he kept referring to the "good manure" that needed to be used on the flowers.

Some of the women members complained to his wife, Bess. "Couldn't you get the president to say 'fertilizer'?" they asked.

Mrs. Truman's reply: "Heavens no. It took me twenty-five years to get him to say 'manure.'" [ref]

Or how many times have we complained about a situation while having no desire to help improve it? At such times, we need to get a grip and ask how we can help.

All of us can stand to do less griping and more gripping:

" ... Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him. Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people. Hold firmly to the word of life ... " (Philippians 2:12-16, NLT).

- AC21DOJ


CLEAR CONSCIENCE 101

How can you hold on to a good conscience? Treasure your faith in Christ more than anything else and do what you know is right. Each time you deliberately ignore your conscience, you are hardening your heart. Over a period of time your capacity to tell right from wrong will diminish. As you walk with God, he will speak to you through your conscience, letting you know the difference between right and wrong. Be sure to act on those inner tugs so that you do what is right—then your conscience will remain clear.

- Life Application Bible Commentary [ref]

which some have rejected (1 Timothy 1:19)
They had deliberately and forcefully thrust from themselves [ref] [ref] "the ethical demands of the faith." [ref] A rejection of conscience inevitably leads to a shipwrecked faith. If/when "we disregard the voice of conscience, allowing sin to remain unconfessed and unforsaken, our faith will not long survive. Anybody whose conscience has been so manipulated as to be rendered insensitive is in a very dangerous condition, wide open to the deceptions of the devil (1 Timothy 4:1–2)." [ref]

"One cannot be on friendly terms with [the conscience] and with sin at one and the same time." [ref]

QuoteWorthy: Conscience
A good conscience serves as the rudder that steers the believer through the rocks and reefs of sin and error. - John MacArthur [ref]

suffered shipwreck (1 Timothy 1:19)
"Professed Christians who 'make shipwreck' of their faith do so by sinning against their consciences. Bad doctrine usually starts with bad conduct, and usually with secret sin." [ref]

"Faith is the vessel in which they had professedly embarked, of which 'good conscience' is the anchor. The ancient Church often used this image, comparing the course of faith to navigation. The Greek does not imply that one having once had faith makes shipwreck of it, but that they who put away good conscience 'make shipwreck with respect to the faith.'" [ref]

We hear of serving as a soldier in Christ's army, but here it is probably more accurate to think of serving as a Marine, since "[a] Christian must be both a good soldier and a good sailor. Now a good sailor does not thrust away or discard the rudder of the ship. The good conscience -- one that obeys the dictates of the Word as applied to the heart by the Holy Spirit -- is the rudder, guiding the believer's vessel into the safe harbor of everlasting rest." [ref]

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BELIEF/FAITH

Few words are more central to the Christian message or more often used to describe Christian experience than “belief” and “faith.” Yet these words are often corrupted by a misunderstanding of their biblical meaning. People today may use “faith” to indicate what is possible but uncertain. The Bible uses “faith” in ways that link it with what is assuredly and certainly true. Christians may sometimes speak of “believing,” as if it were merely a subjective effort, as if our act of faith or strength of faith were the issue. But the Bible shifts our attention from subjective experience and centers it on the object of our faith—God himself.

The OT picture of faith as a personal, trusting response to God who speaks words of promise, is reflected in the NT. The NT explains in depth the role God has given to faith.

Although the basis on which God is free to forgive human beings in every era is the sacrifice of Jesus on Calvary, the object of faith has differed from age to age. For in different ages, God has spoken different words of promise. To Abraham, there was the promise of a son and multiplied descendants. To those under law, there was the promise of blessing to accompany obedience. To us, there is the promise of cleansing and acceptance through Jesus. In each age, faith is man’s response to the promise. In each age, faith is trusting oneself to the God who has spoken. In each age, faith is accepted by God in place of a righteousness that no human being could have.

In the NT, we see with unmistakable clarity that it is through faith that God gives salvation and righteousness. It is in the NT that we see with unmistakable clarity that faith is a personal response to God and a complete commitment of ourselves to him. There also we see that faith calls for a continuing relationship of response to Jesus’ word. It is in the NT that we see with unmistakable clarity that faith transforms human beings, bringing us a life that is eternal and can be experienced now. Through faith we come into a relationship with God in which he commits himself not simply to declare us righteous but also to make us truly good persons.

Trusting God is the heart and soul of the faith that centers in our Lord Jesus Christ.

In Scripture a “believer” is not a person who holds a certain set of beliefs about God as if it were merely some theoretical conviction. A believer is a person who has responded to the gospel message by trusting Jesus and joining the company of others whose lives have found new focus in relationship with the Lord. A believer is a person who “has faith in Jesus” in the fullest, most biblical sense.

- Lawrence O. Richards [ref] (condensed/extraced from longer article)

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1 TIMOTHY 1:20 - The Danger (vv. 19-20)

Hymenaeus and Alexander (1 Timothy 1:20)
These men "were leaders among the Ephesian heretics. They were self-righteous persons who yearned to be law-teachers, although they understood neither the words which they were speaking nor the themes on which they were harping with such confidence. As has been indicated, they specialized in myths and fanciful stories about family-trees." [ref]

whom I have handed over to Satan (1 Timothy 1:20)
This appears to be shorthand for "excommunicated." "Since the church is the dwelling-place of God, it follows that to be ejected from it is to be sent back into the world, the habitat of Satan." [ref] This would be in line with Jesus' teaching regarding the steps involved in confronting an unrepentant believer (Matthew 15:18-15). [ref] Paul proffered a similar solution in reference to a very serious situation among the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 5:5).

Some commentators believe something more than excommunication is meant here, possibly even death by order of an apostle along the same lines as what happened to Ananias and Saphira (Acts 5:1-11). [ref] [ref] While Paul may be speaking of excommunication plus something else, death seems highly unlikely since 1) that would mean the Hymenaeus mentioned in 2 Timothy 2:17 is not the same as the one mentioned here (1 Timothy 1:20), while most commentators believe he is, and 2) if they were dead, neither Hymanaeus nor Alexander would be able to learn the intended lesson regarding blaspheming (see remainder of 1 Timothy 1:20).

Removing, or excommunicating, the blasphemers from the fellowship would both prove how valuable the Gospel is and serve as a wake-up call for the offenders [ref]

that they will be taught not to blaspheme (1 Timothy 1:20)
Unlike Paul, who had blasphemed out of ignorance, these men did so after having a full knowledge of Gospel truth. [ref]

"They will be taught" conveys the idea of instructing by way of chastisement/punishment. [ref] [ref] The goal is repentance, not punishment, restoration rather than destruction, "not damnation but reclamation." [ref] Paul "is hoping and praying that by means of this dire affliction these false teachers may come to see themselves as grievous sinners and may be brought to genuine repentance, so that they will no longer rail at the truth and thereby revile its Author." [ref]

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SATAN

The Bible presents Satan as a personal being. He was created as Lucifer (“light bearer”) and carries a number of names in the OT and the NT. These include the Devil, the serpent, the accuser of the brethren, and the ruler of the kingdom of the air.

The Hebrew word is śātān, which means “adversary.” The Greek satanas carries the same meaning. The common name of Satan in the NT is diabolos, (“devil”), meaning “one who slanders or accuses.”

Both Testaments reveal Satan as God’s adversary and the enemy of mankind. Passages taken to refer to Satan (Isa 14:12–15; Eze 28:11–19), with NT references, provide insight into his history and destiny.

Satan was a powerful angel in God’s original creation. His pride (Isa 14:12–15; 1 Ti 3:6) and warped desire to take God’s place introduced sin into the universe. Satan’s initial rebellion included the defection of many angels and led to the expulsion of that host from heaven.

Satan was the power influencing the serpent in Eden, and thus he was an instrument in mankind’s fall, by which he introduced sin’s corruption into the human race.

Satan still exercises great power in the world. He is called the “ruler of the kingdom of the air” in Eph 2:2 and is at work in all who are disobedient to God. Despite his powers and the devices he uses to deceive humanity, Satan was decisively defeated in every confrontation he had with Jesus (e.g. Mt 4:1–11; Lk 11:14–22; 13:10–16).

The NT foretells a day when Satan will lead another great rebellion, working through individuals he empowers (2 Th 2). But the final destiny of this evil being is fixed. Following yet another final attempt to overthrow the Lord (Rev 20:7–9), Satan will be thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, as Revelation portrays hell, to be “tormented day and night for ever and ever” (Rev 20:10).

- Lawrence O. Richards [ref]

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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