I Timothy 1

 

 

1 “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour,

and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope;”  For the inscription, compare Romans

1:1, 5; I Corinthians 1:1; II Corinthians 1:1; Galatians 1:1; Ephesians 1:1; Colossians

1:1; II Timothy 1:1; Titus 1:1; in all which Paul asserts his apostleship, and ascribes it

directly to “the will of God” (compare Galatians 1:11-12). By (according to)

 the commandment (as Titus 1:3) expresses the same truth, but possibly with a more

direct reference to the command, “Separate me Paul and Barnabas,” recorded in

Acts 13:2. This assertion of his apostolic authority indicates that this is not a private

letter to Timothy, but a public Church document for all time. Our hope (compare

Colossians 1:27; Acts 28:20).

 

2 “Unto Timothy, my own son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace,

from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.” GOD, THE FATHER,

SON AND HOLY GHOST gave Paul his original appointment.  My own son

in the faith-  (My true child in faith). A most awkward phrase, which can only

mean that Timothy was Paul’s true child because his faith was equal to Paul’s, which

is not  Paul’s meaning. Timothy was  Paul’s own son, because he had begotten him in

the gospel (I Corinthians 4:14-16; Philemon 1:10) — his spiritual son. This is best

expressed as in the Authorized Version by “in the faith” (compare Titus 1:4, where the

same idea is expressed by κατὰ κοινὴν πίστιν- kata koinaen pistin – according

to common belief; faith). Grace, mercy, and peace. This varies from the blessing at

the beginning of the Epistles to the Romans, Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians,

Philippians, Colossians, and Thessalonians, by the addition of the word

“mercy,” as in II Timothy 1:2 and Titus 1:4 in the Textus Receptus, and also in

II John 1:3 and Jude 1:2. It seems in St. Paul to connect itself with that deeper

sense of the need and of the enjoyment of mercy which went with his

deepening sense of sin as he drew towards his end, and harmonizes

beautifully with what he says in vs. 12-16. The analogy of the other

forms of blessing quoted above strongly favors the sense our Father rather

than the Father. Whether we read ἡμῶνhaemon – our - or omit it,

the idea of Father is contrasted, not with that of Son, but with that of

Lord; the two words express the relation of the Persons of the Godhead,

not to each other, but to the Church.

 

 

 

Apostolic Address and Greeting (vs. 1-2)

 

As this Epistle was designed to bear an official character, it was necessary

that its address should set forth the authority under which the apostle gave

his instructions concerning Church order and Christian work.

 

·         THE APOSTLE’S AUTHORITY. “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ

according to the commandment of God our Savior, and Christ Jesus, who

is our Hope.” The apostleship was his, not merely because he was called to

it (Romans 1:1), or destined to it by the will of God (I Corinthians 1:1),

but according to express Divine commandment.

 

Ø      It was the commandment of God our Savior, evidently in allusion to the

command of the Spirit at Antioch, “Separate me Barnabas and Saul for

the work whereunto I have appointed them” (Acts 13:2), but more

distinctly to his earlier call (ibid. ch. 26:16), as “a vessel of election”

(ibid. ch. 9:15), to preach the Gospel to Jews and Gentiles. As the things

of the Father are the Son’s, so the things of the Son are the Spirit’s. Thus

God — Father, Son, and Holy Ghost — gave him his original appointment.

Thus the salvation would be seen to be of God’s purpose and agency; for

He is “God our Savior.”

 

Ø      It was also the commandment of Christ Jesus, our Hope. Therefore his

ordinary title is “an apostle of Jesus Christ.” The aged apostle, in the

near prospect of death, dwells on the thought of Christ as his one blessed

hope. He is our Hope:

 

o       as its Author;

o       as its Object;

o       as its Revealer;

o       as its Procurer;

o       but, above all, as its Substance and Foundation.

o       He is our very “Hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27).

 

·         THE APOSTLE’S GREETING. “To Timothy, my true child in the

faith.”

 

Ø      His early life. Timothy was a native of Lycaonia in Asia Minor, probably

of Lystra, one of its towns. His father was a pagan, his mother a pious

Jewess, named Eunice, who trained him early in the principles of true

religion. It is an interesting fact that the apostle’s more intimate

companions were Gentiles, or with Gentile blood in their veins —

Timothy, Titus, Luke, and even Demas.

 

Ø      His relationship to the Apostle Paul.

o        He was converted by the apostle.

o        He was associated with the apostle during a longer range

      of time than any other disciple.

o       He was an interesting disciple of the Lord.

§         There was great personal affection between Timothy and Paul.

§         There was “no one like minded” with Timothy who could be

      brought to take care of individual Churches.

§         Timothy was a constant organ of personal communication

      between the apostle and individual Churches.

§         He seems to have been of a soft and, perhaps, timid

      temperament.

§         He was very abstemious in his habits (ch. 5:23).

 

Ø      The salutation. “Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and

Christ Jesus our Lord.”

 

o       The blessings invoked upon Timothy.

 

§         Grace — a fresh discovery of Divine favor, an increase of

      grace, a fuller enjoyment of the gifts of the Spirit.

§         Mercy — a fresh application of the pardoning mercy of God

      in Christ.  It occurs only here and in the Second Epistle

      to Timothy suggested, perhaps, by the nearness of his

      own death, and the increasing difficulties of his last days;

      for he hopes that Timothy may share in the mercy he has

      sought for himself.

§         Peace — peace of conscience through the blood of Christ,

      so necessary “to keep heart and mind” in the midst of

      the perturbations and distractions of his service at Ephesus.

 

o       The Source of these blessings. They spring alike from the Father

      and the Son — a proof of the coequal Godhead of the Son; for

      they are strictly Divine gifts.

 

3 “As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into

Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no

other doctrine,” – Besought – exhorted in the Revised Version –

(παρεκάλεσα - parekalesa). In about sixty places this word has the sense

of “beseech,” “entreat,” “desire,” “pray,” which is more suitable to this

passage than exhort. It is a strong expression, and seems to imply that Timothy

had been anxious to go with  Paul to Macedonia, to share his labors and wait

upon him; but that Paul, with that noble disinterestedness which characterized his

whole life, had, not without difficulty, persuaded him to abide at Ephesus. Abide.

The exact sense of προσμεῖναι prosmeinai - is “to stay on,” or, “to abide still.”

The word tells us that Timothy was already at Ephesus when he received the request

from Paul to stay on there instead of going to Macedonia. There is nothing in the

phrase that implies that Paul was at Ephesus himself when he made the request to

Timothy. It may have been made by message or by letter. When I went.

Some commentators have endeavored to explain πορευόμενος -poreuomenos –

going; went; when going – as applying to Timothy, or as if the order were

ἵνα πορευόμενος παραγγείλῃς – hina poreuomenos paraggeilaes – that

going you should be charging - but the Greek will not admit of it. Charge -

(παραγγείλῃς - paraggeilaes); a word implying authority, almost invariably

rendered “command” or “charge.” It is taken up in v. 18 (ταύτην τὴν

παραγγελίαν – tautaen taen paraggelian -“This charge,” Teach a different

doctrine (ἑτεροδιδασκαλεῖν – heterodidaskalein). This is one of the many

words peculiar to the pastoral Epistles. It only occurs here and in ch.6:3. It is formed

from ἑτεροδιδάσκαλος, – heterodidaskalos -  a teacher of other than right doctrine,

and means “to play the part of a teacher of other than right doctrine,” just as in

ecclesiastical language ἐτερόδοξος -heterodoxos means “one who holds opinions

 contrary to that which is orthodox,” and such as do so are said ἑτεροδοξεῖν.

- heterodoxein.  The classical sense is a little different, “one who holds a different

opinion” — “to be of a different opinion.” The introduction of the word into the

vocabulary of Scripture is a sign of the somewhat later age to which this Epistle

belongs, when heresies were growing and multiplying. Other similar compounds

are ἑτερόγλωσσος heteroglossos – other tongues; different languages -  

(I Corinthians 14:21) and ἑτεροζυγοῦντες -  heterozugountes  - unequally yoked;

being diversly yoked –  (II Corinthians 6:14).

 

4 “Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions,

rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do.”  Fables  (see ch. 4:7)

If the spirit which gave birth to the fables of the Talmud was already at work among

the Jews, we have a ready explanation of the phrase. And that they were Jewish

fables (not later Gnostic delusions) is proved by the parallel passage in Titus 1:14,

“Not giving heed to Jewish fables.” The prevalence of sorcery among the

Jews at this time is a further instance of their inclination to fable (see

Acts 8:9; 13:6; 19:13). Endless genealogies. What was the particular

abuse of genealogies which Paul here condemns we have not sufficient

historical knowledge to enable us to decide. But that they were Jewish

forms of “vain talking,” and not Gnostic, and related to human pedigrees,

not to “emanations of eons,” may be concluded from the connection in

which they are mentioned in Titus 3:9, and from the invariable meaning of the

word γενεαλογία - genealogia – genealogies - itself. The genealogies

were Jewish pedigrees, either used literally to exalt individuals as being of

priestly or Davidic origin (as the pedigrees of the Desposyni, or later of the

princes of the Captivity), or used cabbalistically, so as to draw fanciful

doctrines from the names composing a genealogy, or in some other way which

we do not know of.  Endless (ἀπέραντος -  aperantos – interminable;

endless); found only here in the New Testament and so one of the words peculiar

to the pastoral Epistles, but used in the Septuagint for “infinite,” “immeasurable.”

It means either “endless,” “interminable,” or, “having no useful end or purpose.”

Questionings ζητήσεις – zaetaeseis or ἐκζητήσειςekzaetaeseisquestionings –

(For ζητησις zaetaesis – a questioning - see John 3:25; Acts 25:20;

and below, ch. 6:4; II Timothy 2:23; Titus 3:9; and for the kindred ζήτημα 

zaetaema – question – (Acts 15:2; 18:15; 23:29; 25:19; 26:3.) The reading ἐκζήτησις

is only found here. A dispensation of God  for godly edifying.  Taking the reading

οἰκονομίαν – oikonomian – home building; edifying – “ a dispensation of God which

 is in faith,” must mean THE GOSPEL as delivered by revelation and received by

 faith. These fables and genealogies address themselves, the apostle says, to the

disputatious, itching curiosity of men’s minds, not to their faith. The substance

of them is matter of DOUBTFUL DISPUTATION,  not REVEALED TRUTH!   

The dispensation” is better English than “a dispensation.” Oἰκονομία -  primarily

signifies “the management of a household or of household affairs” (oikos, “a house,”

nomos, “a law”); then the management or administration of the property of others,

and so “a stewardship,” Luke 16:2-4; elsewhere only in the epistles of Paul, who

applies it:

 

  • to the responsibility entrusted to him of preaching the gospel, I Corinthians 9:17

(rv, “stewardship,” kjv, “dispensation”);

  • to the stewardship committed to him “to fulfill the Word of God,” the

fulfillment being the unfolding of the completion of the divinely arranged and

imparted cycle of truths which are consummated in the truth relating to the

church as the body of Christ, Colossians 1:25 (rv and kjv, “dispensation”);

so in Ephesians 3:2, of the grace of God given him as a stewardship

(“dispensation”) in regard to the same “mystery”;

  • in Ephesians 1:10 and 3:9, it is used of the arrangement or administration by

God, by which in “the fullness of the times” (or seasons) God will sum up

all things in the heavens and on earth in Christ.

 

In Ephesians 3:9 some manuscripts have koinonia – koinonia - “fellowship,” for

οἰκονομία – oikonomia -“dispensation.” In ch.1:4 oikonomia may mean either

a stewardship in the sense of  the first illustration above, or a “dispensation” in the

sense of the third. The reading οἰκοοδμία  - oikodomia, “edifying,” in some

manuscripts, is not to be accepted.  (Note: A “dispensation” is not a period or epoch

(a common, but erroneous, use of the word), but a mode of dealing, an arrangement or

administration of affairs.  So do - , is the conjectural filling up of the unfinished

sentence which began “as I besought thee” (v. 3).  But it is much more natural and

simple to take v. 18 as the apodosis, and the intermediate verses as a digression

caused by Paul’s desire to show how exactly the charge was in agreement with the

true spirit of the Law of God.

 

 

The Object of Timothy’s Continued Sojourn at Ephesus

(vs. 3-4)

 

·         CONSIDER THE TENDER CARE WHICH THE APOSTLE TAKES

OF THE EPHESIAN CHURCH, “As I besought thee to abide still at

Ephesus, when I was going into Macedonia, so do I beseech thee now that

thou charge some that they teach no other doctrine.” As Timothy was with

the apostle in his first journey through Macedonia (Acts 16:3, 12;

20:3-4), this must refer to a later journey, occurring after the first

imprisonment at Rome.

 

Ø      Mark the affectionate style of his address - “I besought thee;” whereas

to Titus he said, “I gave thee command” (Titus 1:5). Timothy received

no authoritative injunction, but merely a tender request that he would

prolong his stay so as to check the waywardness of false teachers who

had risen to mar the simplicity of the gospel.

 

Ø      Mark the tendency of the purest Churches to be spoiled by false

doctrine. The apostle had foretold the rise of a separatist party when

he was addressing the elders of Ephesus at Miletus (Acts 20:29-30).

They may have been few — “some;” but if they were like “the grievous

wolves” of the prediction, they might succeed in “drawing away

disciples after them, speaking perverse things.”

 

·         THE CHARGE WHICH THE APOSTLE GIVES TO BE

ADDRESSED TO THE FALSE TEACHERS.

 

Ø      It was a charge that they should teach no doctrine different from the

gospel. “That they teach no other doctrine.”

 

o        This implied that the apostle’s doctrine was the true standard of

teaching by which all other teaching was to be judged.

 

o        There may have been no doctrinal heresy at Ephesus; but the teaching,

being of a morbid, unedifying, speculative character, would tend to

reduce the warmth of “the first love” of Ephesian saints (Revelation

2:4), if not to lead to serious departures from the faith.

 

o        Ministers must take special care that no false doctrines be taught in

the Church of God.

 

Ø      It was a charge that the errorists should give no heed to fables and

genealogies.

 

o        Fables. Evidently rabbinical fables and fabrications in the regions of

history and doctrine. The Talmud is full of them.

 

o        Endless genealogies. The genealogies of the Pentateuch were actually

made the foundation of allegorical interpretations by Jews like Philo,

who largely influenced their countrymen. There may have been a

disposition likewise, on the part of Jews, to establish their

genealogical connection with Abraham, as if the bond of a physical

relationship could add strength to that firmer bond which allies all

to Abraham, whether they are Jews or Gentiles, who believe in

Christ (Galatians 3:29).

 

Ø      Consider the ground upon which the apostle condemns this injurious

teaching. “Inasmuch as they minister questions, rather than the

dispensation of God which is in faith.”

 

o        The teaching was unprofitably disputatious. It ministered questions not

easily answered, and which, if answered, had no practical bearing

upon Christian life.

 

o        It did not tend to promote the scheme of salvation as set forth by the

apostles — “the dispensation of God which is in faith.”

 

§         God’s dispensation is simply His method of salvation, as

      unfolded in the gospel (Ephesians 1:10), with which

      the Apostle Paul was specially entrusted (I Corinthians 4:1).

 

§         This dispensation has its principle in faith; unlike the fables and

genealogies, which might exercise the mind or the imagination,

but not the heart. Faith is the sphere of action upon which the

dispensation turns.

 

o        The apostle’s anxiety to check this false teaching at Ephesus had

evidently two grounds.

 

§         This rabbinical teaching, if allowed to enter into the training

      of Gentile congregations, would cause Christianity to

      shrink into the narrow limits of a mere Jewish sect.

      Judaism might thus become the grave of Christianity.

 

§         It would despiritualize the Christian Church, and rob it of

      its “first love,” and prepare the way to bitter apostasy.

 

5 “Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good

conscience, and of faith unfeigned:” But the end of the commandment  (charge).

Before proceeding with his sentence, in which he was about solemnly to commit the

trust of the episcopate of the Church of Ephesus to Timothy, he breaks off abruptly to

show the beneficent character of the charge, viz. the furtherance of that brotherly

love and purity of heart and life which are the true fruit of the gospel dispensation,

but which some, by their false doctrine, were so ruthlessly impeding. Each

of these phrases, “a pure heart” and “a good conscience” and “faith

unfeigned,” seems to rebuke by contrast the merely ceremonial cleanness

and the defiled conscience and the merely nominal Christianity of these

heretical Judaizers (compare Titus 1:10-16).

 

The nature of the love which is related to this gospel charge is:

 

  • love out of a pure heart,
  • a good conscience, and
  • faith unfeigned.” (v.5)

 

This is the threefold foundation on which it rests.  This is a marked contrast with

the life of the false teachers who:

 

  • are corrupted in mind (ch. 6:5)
  • seared in conscience (ch. 4:2) and
  • reprobate concerning the faith.  (II Timothy 3:8).

 

6 “From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain

jangling;”  Having swerved (ἀστοχήσαντες -  astochaesantes –

deviating; swerving - literally, having missed the mark), as in the margin.

It is found in the New Testament only here and ch.6:21; II Timothy 2:18.

In Ecclesiastes 7:19 (21 in the  Authorized Version) and 8:9 (11, Authorized

Version) it is used in a slightly different sense, “forego” and “miss.” In Polybius

and Plutarch repeatedly, “to miss the mark.... to fail,” with the kindred ἄστοχος

ἀστοχία αστόχημα – astochos, astochia, astochaema.   These men missed the

true end of the gospel — purity of heart and conscience and life — and only

reached vain and boastful talking. Have turned aside (ἐξετράπησαν – exetrapaesan –

have turned aside); ch. 5:15; 6:20; II Timothy 4:4; Hebrews 12:13; but not elsewhere

in the New Testament. It is found in the active voice in the Septuagint  and is common

in all voices in classical Greek. Vain jangling (talking) (ματαιολογίαmataiologia –

vain prating); here only in the New Testament, and not found in the Septuagint, but

used by Strabo, Plutarch, and Porphyry. The adjective ματαιολόγος – mataiologos –

vain talkers; vain praters -  is used in Titus 1:10, and applied especially to those

“of the circumcision.” Compare Jude 1:16).

 

The swerving is moral in nature but has intellectual effects which are

of an injurious and evil character.

 

7 “Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they

say, nor whereof they affirm.”  Teachers of the Law (νομοδιδάσκαλοι.-

nomodidaskalio) as Luke 5:17; Acts 5:34). This, again, distinctly marks the Jewish

origin of these heretics – understanding neither  what they say -  etc. So our Lord

rebuked the scribes and teachers of the Law in his day: “Ye do err, not

knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God;” “Ye do greatly err”

(Matthew 22:29; Mark 12:27; Matthew 12:7, etc.; compare, too, Romans

2:17-24) – nor whereof they affirm (διαβεβαιοῦνται –-  diabebaiountai –

they are insisting).  Elsewhere in the New Testament only in Titus 3:8, “I will

 that thou affirm confidently.” So in classical Greek, “to maintain strongly,”

“to be positive.” This was right in the minister of Christ declaring Divine truth,

but very wrong in these vain janglers. The nature of their confident assertions

is apparent from what follows — they spoke of the Law, but not lawfully.

 

It is not unusual  in life to find the least qualified the most ready to

undertake the task of instruction. They were ignorant and unlearned men,

who were only able to wrest the Scriptures to their own destruction.  (II Peter 2:9-19) 

Their ignorance is evident because they neither understood their  own averments or

arguments, as to their nature and drift, nor did they comprehend the things concerning

which they were so ready to give their foolish but deliberate judgment.

 

 

   Nature of the Charge Connected

with the

Fulfillment of God’s Dispensation (vs. 5-7)

 

In resisting these false teachers, Timothy must remember the true scope

and design of the practical teaching which sets forth the scheme of Divine

salvation for man.

 

  • THE END OF THIS TEACHING IS LOVE.

 

Ø      The teaching, as opposed to fables and genealogies,” is of the nature

of a solemn charge or practical exhortation. It is not

 

o       the Mosaic Law, nor

o       the evangelical law, but

o       sound doctrine in its perceptive, and therefore practical form.

 

Ø      The end or aim of it is love. “The end of the charge is love.” It is love to

men, not to God; for the charge stands in contrast with “the questionings

which minister strifes” (II Timothy 2:23). Practical religious teaching

has a tendency to unite men in love.

 

o       It is hard to maintain brotherly love in presence of active

differences of doctrine.

o       It is impossible to edify without love; for “love edifieth”

I Corinthians 8:1), as speculations and contentions cannot.

 

  • THE NATURE OF THE LOVE WHICH IS RELATED TO THIS

GOSPEL CHARGE. It is “love out of a pure heart, and of a good

conscience, and of faith unfeigned.” This is the threefold foundation on

which it rests.

 

Ø      It springs out of a pure heart as its inward seat.

 

o        Such a heart is purified by faith (Acts 15:9).

o        Sprinkled from an evil conscience by the blood of Christ.

o        Directed into the love of God (II Thessalonians 3:5).

o        Inclined to God’s testimonies (Psalm 119:36).

o        Therefore it is a heart pure from selfish desires, ignoble aims,

and sinister policy.

o        The love springing from such a heart must be “without dissimulation;”

for it is loving with a pure heart fervently.  (Romans 12:9)

 

Ø      It springs from a good conscience.

 

o        Such a conscience is made good by the sprinkling of the blood of

Christ, which reconciles us to God. Thus we have the answer of a

good conscience before God.

o        It is purged from dead works to serve the living God.

o        Therefore a man is enabled to keep a conscience void of offence

toward God and man; to be true to his convictions of truth and duty,

and to respond faithfully to every moral obligation. Love springing

from such a source will have its behavior wisely determined.

 

Ø      It springs from faith unfeigned.

 

o        This is its true origin; for “faith worketh by love,” and must therefore

be in existence before love.

o        It gives reality and power to love, because it is itself not the pretence of

faith, but faith in real existence and power. There was thus a marked

contrast with the life of the false teachers:

 

ü      corrupted in mind (I Timothy 6:5),

ü      seared in conscience (ibid. ch. 4:2), and

ü      “reprobate concerning the faith” (II Timothy 3:8).                              

 

Ø      Mark the order of grace here followed. In the order of nature, faith must

be placed first. The apostle follows the order of practical working. Furthest

down in man’s inner nature is the deep well of a purified heart; then the

love, as it comes forth into exercise, must be arrested on its way by a good

conscience, to receive restraint and regulation; then, to sustain the vigor of

love in its continuous exercise, there must be faith unfeigned, grasping the

promises of God, and in intimate relation to things not seen.

 

  • THE EVIL EFFECTS OF SWERVING FROM THIS THREEFOLD

FOUNDATION OF LOVE. “From which things some having swerved

have turned aside to vain talking.

 

Ø      The persons referred to had evidently belonged, if they did not still

belong to, the Church at Ephesus. Timothy could not otherwise have

exercised authority over them.

 

Ø      The swerve was moral in its nature, but it would have intellectual effects

of an injurious character. How often does the heart determine the bias of

the mind!

 

Ø      Its actual result was a persistent habit of vain talking. It was empty

babbling, without sense or profit — about mere trifles, to the neglect of

weightier matters of doctrine.

 

  • THE PRESUMPTUOUS IGNORANCE OF THIS PARTY.  “Desiring

to be teachers of the Law, not understanding either what they say, or

concerning what things they confidently affirm.”

 

Ø      It is no new fact in life to find the least qualified the most ready to

undertake the task of instruction. They were ignorant and unlearned men,

who were only able to wrest the Scriptures to their own destruction.

 

Ø      Their ignorance was of the most unquestionable character; for they

neither understood their own averments or arguments, as to their nature

and drift, nor did they comprehend the things concerning which they were

so ready to give their foolish but deliberate judgment.  (Sounds like II Peter

2: 1-22)

 

o        It is evident they did not reject and disparage the Mosaic Law, but

rather exalted it by their interpretations.

o        They were not mere Judaists such as the apostle contended with in

Galatia and elsewhere; for they are not charged with any attempt, either

to maintain the ancient customs or to bring in legal observances out of

their proper place.

o        They rather, as misunderstanding the true nature and design of the

Law, tried to work up a compost of Judaic and Gnostic elements,

which explained the Law according to the philosophic views of the

East.  Therefore their theology was marred by fanciful allegorizing

of the Law, which eliminated its moral element, and thus robbed it

of all power to touch the heart or conscience of men.

o        The case in hand illustrates the progress of error in the Church. The

incipient Gnosticism of Ephesus gradually developed into the more

pronounced Gnosticism so pointedly condemned by the Apostle John

in his First Epistle.

 

8 “But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully;”

The Law is good (see the similar statement in Romans 7:12). The Jews

 thought that Paul spoke against the Law (compare Acts 6:13-14), because he

vindicated its true use (Romans 10:4; Galatians 3:24; 4:4-5, etc.). But he

everywhere speaks of the Law as good and holy. If a man i.e., a teacher

 of the Lawuse it lawfully; knowing its proper use, as it follows in the

next verse.

 

9 “Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for

the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for

unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of

mothers, for manslayers,”  Law is not made for a righteous man. It is much

better to render νόμος – nomos - “the Law,” as e.g. Romans 2:12-14.

The whole proposition relates to the Law of Moses, which these teachers

perverted and tried to force upon Christians, being ignorant that the Law

was made, not for the righteous, but for sinners. For is not made, we

might render does not apply to or is not in force against. Κεῖται – keitai – is being

laid down with the dative following (as II Maccabees 4:11) suggests some such

meaning, somewhat different from the simple νόμος κεῖται – nomos keitai – the

Law is (not) being laid down.  This freedom of the righteous from the Law is

what Paul everywhere asserts (Romans 6:14; 8:2; Galatians 2:19; 3:25; 5:18, etc.),

the Law being viewed, not as a holy rule of life, but as a system of penalties —

“a Law of sin and death.” That νόμος here means the Law of Moses is further

evident from this, that in the following list the apostle clearly follows the general

order of the Decalogue, taking first the offences against the first table, and then sins

against the fifth, sixth, seventh, and ninth commandments (compare, too,

v. 11 with Romans 2:16). Lawless (ἀνόμοις – anomois ); with no special

reference to its etymology, but meaning simply “transgressors,” “wicked,”

as Luke 22:37; Acts 2:23; II Thessalonians 2:8 (A.V.), and very frequently

in the Septuagint. Disobedient (ἀνυποτάκτοις) – anupotaktois – unruly,

insubordinate);  resisting lawful authority. In the Septuagint - for the Hebrew

בְלִיַעִל (I Samuel 2:12, Symmachus),and perhaps Proverbs 16:27. In the New

Testament it is peculiar in this sense to the pastoral Epistles, being only

found here and in Titus 1:6,10.  In Hebrews 2:10 it has the

classical sense of “unsubdued.” The express application of the word in

Titus 1:10, to the “unruly talkers of the circumcision,” shows that

Paul has them in view here also. Ungodly and sinners, for the ungodly

(unholy) and profane. All terms implying offences against the first table.

Ἀσεβέσι – asebesi  - with the kindred ἀσεβεία – asebeia  and ἀσεβέω

asebeo ) is always rendered “ungodly,”“ungodliness,” “to act ungodly;”

ἁμαρτωλοῖς – hamartolois -  sinners, viz. against God; ἀνοσίοις,

anolsiois - unholy (found only here and at II Timothy 3:2 in the New

Testament, but frequent in the Septuagint) is the contrary to ὅσιος

hosios - holy, saintly; βεβήλοις bebaelois (whence βεβηλόωbebaeloo –

 to profane, Matthew 12:5; Acts 24:6), profane, of persons and things not

consecrated to God — peculiar in the New Testament to the pastoral Epistles

(ch. 4:7; 6:20; II Timothy 2:16;) and Hebrews 12:16, but found commonly

in the Septuagint and in classical Greek.  Πατραλῶαις patraloais – thrashers

of fathers and μητραλῴαιςmatraloasis – thrashers of mothers - not

murderers, but, as in the margin, “smiters, ill-users of father and mother.”

Both words are only found here in the New Testament, but found in

Demosthenes, Aristophanes, etc. The allusion here is to Exodus 21:15,

where the Hebrew word for “smiteth” is , which does not necessarily

mean “to smite to death” any more than ἀλοάω - aloao – tread; thrash –

does. Ἀνδροφόνοις – Androphonois - man-slayers; found only here in the

New Testament, but used in II Maccabees 9:28 and in classical writers.

The reference is to Exodus 21:12.

 

10 “For whoremongers (fornicators), for them that defile themselves with

mankind  (abusers of themselves with men), for menstealers, for liars, for

perjured persons (false swearers), and if there be any other thing that is

contrary to sound doctrine;”  Πόρνοις ἀρσενοκοίταις – Pornois arsenokoitais –

paramours, sodomites.  The latter word is only found in the New Testament here

and I Corinthians 6:9. and nowhere else; but the reference is to Leviticus 18:22,

“thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind” - where the two

words ἄρσενος – arsenos - and κοίτη – koitae – occur [ἀρσενοκοίται], though not

in actual composition.  Ἀνδραποδισταῖς - andrapodizein -  men-stealers; only here

in the New Testament, but very common, with its many kindred forms,

ἀνδραποδίζειν, ἀνδραποδισμός, ἀνδράποδον, etc., in classical Greek.

The crime of man-stealing is denounced Exodus 21:16; Deuteronomy 24:7.

Ψεύσταις ἐπιόρκοιςpseutais, epiorkois - liars,  … perjured persons

(false swearers). The latter word only occurs here in the New Testament —

the verb ἐπιορκέω – epiorkeo – forswear thyself; perjuring – in Matthew

5:33, but all are common in classical Greek. The reference is to Leviticus

19:11-12. The order of the offences, as above noted, is that of the Decalogue.

To sound doctrine. This is one of the many phrases peculiar to the pastoral

Epistles. Though the term ὑγιανίνειν  –hugiainein – being sound occurs three

times in Luke’s Gospel and once in III John 1:2 in its literal sense of bodily

health, it is only in the pastoral Epistles that it is applied to doctrine (see ch.6:3;

II  Timothy 1:13; 4:3; Titus 1:9, 13; 2:1-2; and note on II Timothy 4:3).

 

11 “According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed

to my trust.”  The gospel of the glory for the glorious gospel, Authorized

 Version.The gospel of the glory of the blessed God. The phrase, τὸ εὐαγγέλιον

τῆς δόξης τοῦ μακαρίου Θεοῦ  - to euaggelion taes doxaes tou makariou

Theou -  cannot mean, as in the Authorized Version, “the glorious

gospel of the blessed God,” except by a very forced construction. It might

mean three things:

 

  • τῆς δόξης τοῦ Θεοῦ - taes doxaes tou Theou - the glory of God –

might be a periphrasis for “God,” as Romans 6:4, or Exodus 24:16-17;

33:18; Leviticus 9:6, 23; Psalm 104:31; II Corinthians 4:6; or as “the

Name of the Lord” (Proverbs 18:10; Isaiah 30:27-28); and as we say

“thee queen’s majesty,” the “king’s grace.” Or

 

  • “the glory of God” might mean Jesus Christ, who is the Brightness of

God’s glory, the Image of the invisible God, in whose face the glory of

God shines (II Corinthians 4:4, 6). Or

 

  • it might mean the gospel which tells of the glory of God, which reveals

and proclaims His glory, the glory of His grace (Ephesians 1:6, 12), or

perhaps here rather the glory of His holiness, which Paul’s “sound

doctrine” pressed for imitation upon all Christians (see ch. 6:3);

compare  Corinthians 4:4, The gospel of the glory of Christ.”

 

Either the first or last is doubtless the true meaning. The blessed God. This and

ch. 6:15 are the only passages in the New Testament where μακάριος

makarios -  blessed, is an epithet of God. Elsewhere “blessed” is εὐλογητός

eulogaetos  as e.g. Mark 14:61; II Corinthians 11:31. In classical

Greek μάκαρ – makar -  happy - is the proper epithet of the gods; μάκαρες

Θεόι μακάριος - makares Theoi makarios - is usually spoken of men or qualities,

and especially of the happy dead. It does not appear how or why the apostle here

applies μακάριος to God.  Committed to my trust; literally, with which I was

entrusted. A thoroughly Pauline statement (compare Romans 1:1, 5; 2:16;

Galatians 1:11-12; Ephesians 3:1-8).

 

12 “And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that

he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry;”  I thank, etc. This

outburst of praise for the mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ, who had called him

to the ministry of the Word, is caused by the thought, which immediately precedes,

of his being entrusted with the gospel. He thus disclaims any notion of merit on

his part. Who hath enabled me (ἐνδυναμώσαντι – endunamosanti – to the

one invigorating me). This verb occurs once in Acts 9:22; three times in Paul’s

other Epistles (Romans 4:20; Ephesians 6:10; Philippians 4:13); three times in the

pastoral Epistles (here; II Timothy 2:1 and 4:17); and Hebrews 11:31. It denotes

the giving that peculiar power which was the gift of the Holy Ghost, and which

was necessary for the work of an apostle to enable him to bear witness to Christ

in the face of an adverse world. This power (δύναμις - dunamis - power)

Christ promised to His apostles before His ascension (Acts 1:8). Paul received it

after his conversion (Acts 9:22). He continued to hold it throughout his

apostleship (Philippians 4:13); he enjoyed it especially at the approach

of his martyrdom (II Timothy 4:17). It comprised strength of faith,

strength to testify and to preach, strength to endure and suffer. Paul’s

whole course is the best illustration of the nature of the δύναμις which

Christ gave him (see Ephesians 3:6 the χάρις – charis – grace - the διακονία

diakonia – service  and the δύναμις (power) all brought together as here). Putting

me into the ministry,  “the ministry” exactly expresses the particular kind of

service to which the Lord appointed him (see the exactly parallel passage,

Ephesians 3:7). The absence of the article is unimportant (Romans 12:7;

I Corinthians 16:15; II Timothy 4:11). (For the general phrase, compare

Acts 20:28; I Corinthians 12:28; or, still more exactly as regards the

grammar, I Thessalonians 5:9.)

 

13 “Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but

I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.”  A blasphemer  -

(βλάσημον – blasphaemon); applied, as here, to persons, only in II Timothy 3:2;

applied to words, Acts 6:11,13 (T.R.). The verb βλασφημεῖν – blasphaemein –

and the substantive βλασφημία – blasphaemia -  are very common, both in

the sense of “blaspheming” and of “railing” or “reviling.” Paul was a

blasphemer because he spoke against the Name of Jesus, which he had

since discovered was A NAME ABOVE ALL NAMES!. A persecutor

(διώκτης – dioktaes); only here; but the verb διωκεῖν – diokein – persecute;

 is applied to Paul repeatedly (Acts 9:4-5; 22:4; 26:11), and the διώκτης

here refers possibly to that very narrative. Injurious (ὑβριστής – hubristaes);

only here and Romans 1:30, where it is rendered “insolent,” Revised Version.

The verb ὑβρίζειν – hubrizein - , both in the New Testament and in classical

Greek, means to “treat or use others despitefully,” “to outrage and insult” them,

not without personal violence (Matthew 22:6; Luke 18:32; Acts 14:5;

I Thessalonians 2:2). The ὑβριστής is one who so treats others.  Paul was

thinking of his own conduct toward the Christians, whom he not only reviled,

but handled roughly and cast into prison (Acts 8:3; 9:1; 22:19). There is

no English word which exactly renders ὑβριστής..

 

14 “And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and

love which is in Christ Jesus.”  Was exceeding abundant (ὑπερεπλεόνασε

huperepleonase - abounded exceedingly); only here in the New Testament or

elsewhere except “in Psalterio Salomonis psalm 5:19, but the word is thoroughly

Pauline (compare ὑπεραίρομαι - huperairomai – become haughty, exalted;

ὑπεραυξάνω - huperauxano -  increase above, grow exceedingly; ὑπερβάλλω

huperballo – surpass; exceeding; ὑπερεκτείνω - huperkteino – extend inordinately;

 stretch beyond; ὑπερπερισσεύω -  huperisseuo – superabundantly; exceeding;

beyond measure;  ὑπεροψόωhuperupsioo – raise; highly exalt; and other

compounds with ὑπέρhuper – above; beyond. It is further remarkable, as regards

ὑπέρ itself, that of the hundred and fifty-eight times (or thereabouts) that it

occurs in the New Testament, one hundred and six are in Paul’s

Epistles, and twelve in the Epistle to the Hebrews, and only forty in all the

other books. With faith and love, etc. The grace bestowed upon Paul

at and after his conversion showed itself in the wonderful faith and love

toward Jesus Christ, whom he had previously disbelieved in and reviled,

which accompanied that grace and was the fruit of it, and characterized

his whole after-life.

 

15 “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ

Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.”

This is a faithful saying (πιστὸς ὁ λόγοςpistos ho logos - faithful is the

 saying).  This formula is peculiar to the pastoral Epistles (ch.3:1; 4:9; II Timothy

2:11; Titus 3:8), and seems to indicate that there were a number of pithy sayings,

maxims, portions of hymns or of catechetical teaching, current in the

Church, and possibly originating in the inspired sayings of the Church

prophets, to which the apostle appeals, and to which he gives his sanction.

The one appealed to here would be simply, Jesus Christ came into the

world to save sinners.” This, Paul adds, is worthy of all acceptation —

by all, and without any reserve. Acceptation (ἀποδοχῆς – apodochaes); only

here and ch.4:9, in connection with the same formula. The verb ἀποδέχομαι

apodechomai – welcome; receive - occurs in Luke 8:40; Acts 2:41; 15:4; 18:27;

24:3; 28:30.  It contains the idea of a glad, willing acceptance; the idea of a kind

reception — a welcome!   So doubtless ἀποδοχῆ also means “hearty reception.”

 I am chief; in respect of his having been” a blasphemer, a persecutor, and injurious.”

That great sin was indeed freely forgiven by God’s grace, but it could never

be forgotten by him who had been guilty of it. (compare Ephesians 3:8).

 

16 “Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ

might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should

hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.”  That in me first - first; i.e.

both in order of time, and in respect also of THE GREATNESS OF THE

SIN FORGIVEN.   Shew forth (ἐνδείξηταιendeixaetai – should be

displaying. All long-suffering; more properly, His all longsuffering;

 the whole longsuffering; i.e. THE ENTIRETY OF LONGSUFFERING –

ALL THAT WAS POSSIBLE, EVERY KIND AND DEGREE OF

LONGSUFFERING!     Ὁ πᾶς - ho pas – with the substantive denotes

the whole of a thing: τὸν πάντα χρόνον – ton panta chronon –

“the whole time” (Acts 20:18); ὁ πᾶς νόμος – ho pas nomos - “the whole Law”

(Galatians 5:14).   So in the two examples from Polybius, τῆς πάσης ἀλογιστίας –

taes pasaes alogistias - the utmost unreasonableness, and τῆς πάσης ἀτοπίας –

taes pasaes atopias - the utmost strangeness, the construction is exactly the same.

(μακροθυμια - makrothumia – long-suffering); more literally, long-animity; very

frequent both in the New Testament and in the Septuagint. The adjective

μακρόθυμος makrothumos - Septuagint) is a translation of the Hebrew

קְצַר אַפַיִם, “long,” or “slow to anger,” to which the opposite is is אֶרֶך,

ὀξύθυμος - oxuthumos - (Septuagint), “short to anger,” i.e. hasty, passionate.

The verb μακροθυμέω -  makrothumeo – suffer long; be patient - also occurs

frequently, both in the New Testament and in the Septuagint:   Ἡ ἀγάπη μακροθυμεῖ -

hae agapae makothumei – Charity suffereth long” (I Corinthians 13:4). For a pattern

(πρὸς ὑποτύπωσιν - pros hupotuposin).  The word only occurs in the New Testament

here and II Timothy 1:12; but both it and the verb ὑποτυπόω - hupotupoo – form;

pattern; are good classical words.  The meaning of ὑπότύπωσις -hupotuposis –

a sketch or “outline,” and hence a “pattern.” This pattern is spoken of as being the

property of, being for the use of, them which should hereafter believe.  (Could it be

something like a patent in our day? – CY – 2013) Just as the workman looks at his

plan, or outline, by which he is to work, so those future believers would see in

Christ’s dealings with Paul THE EXACT PATTERN OF LONG-

SUFFERING  which they might expect for themselves. Believe on

Him unto eternal life. These words hang together. The particular force of

πιστεύειν ἐπ αὐτῷ - pisteuein ep auto – believing on Him - found in the

New Testament only here and Romans 9:33; 10:11; and I Peter 2:6 — as

distinguished from the other constructions of to πιστεύειν - pisteuein –

“rest,” “lean on.”  Paul thus incidentally affirms that HIS OWN FAITH

RESTED UPON JESUS CHRIST IN THE FULL ASSURANCE

OF ATTAINING TO ETERNAL LIFE!   (see ch.6:12; II Timothy 1:1-2).

 

 

The Mercy of God to Paul (vs. 12-16)

 

Paul’s (Saul) sin had been great in his persecution of God’s people but

God pardoned Paul’s great wickedness. God’s grace super-abounded to

Paul.  Paul considered himself the chief of sinners and God used him as

an example of His longsuffering to sinful man.  As great as your or my

sin is, God can and will save us also!  The greatest sinners may not

despair of mercy. The Lord will tarry long with them if peradventure they

may repent and turn to Him.

 

The case of Paul — “the chief of sinners” — ought to encourage

sinners of every class and sort to exercise hope and trust in the Lord, as

well as to meet the misgivings of those who think they have sinned too

much to warrant the expectation that the Lord will have mercy upon them.

 

Trust in Jesus Christ necessarily brings with it ETERNAL LIFE!    There

is nothing needed but faith for this purpose. “He that hath the Son hath life.”

(I John 5:2)  (I recommend How to Be Saved - # 5  - this web site – Also

three sermons by Charles Haddon Spurgeon – all from Isaiah 45 and

entitled Life for a Look; Sovereignty and Salvation; The Life Look – this

web site - CY – 2013)  Below is an except from the beginning of The Life

Look:

 

THE LIFE-LOOK.

NO. 2867

 

 

DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,

 

       AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON,

  0N LORD’S-DAY EVENING, JANUARY 9TH, 1876.

 

“Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and

there is none else.” — Isaiah 14:22.

 

I HAVE preached a good many times from this text. The following

Sermons by Mr. Spurgeon upon this passage, have been previously

published: New Park Street Pulpit, No. 60, “Sovereignty and Salvation;”

and Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, No. 2,805, “Life for a Look.” The

fullest account of his conversion is in his Autobiography, published by

Messrs. Passmore and Alabaster. I hope to do so, if life be spared, many

more times. It was about twenty-six years ago, — twenty-six years exactly

last Thursday, — that I looked unto the Lord, and found salvation, through

this text. You have often heard me tell how I had been wandering about,

seeking rest, and finding none, till a plain, unlettered, lay preacher among

the Primitive Methodists stood up in the pulpit, and gave out this passage

as his text: “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth.” He

had not much to say, thank God, for that compelled him to keep on

repeating his text, and there was nothing needed — by me, at any rate, —

except his text. I remember how he said, “It is Christ that speaks. ‘I am in

the garden in an agony, pouring out my soul unto death; I am on the tree,

dying for sinners; look unto me! Look unto me!’ That is all you have to do.

A child can look. One who is almost an idiot can look. However weak, or

however poor, a man may be, he can look; and if he looks, the promise is

that he shall live.” Then, stopping, he pointed to where I was sitting under

the gallery, and he said, “That young man there looks very miserable.” I

expect I did, for that is how I felt. Then he said, “There is no hope for you,

young man, or any chance of getting rid of your sin, but by looking to

Jesus;” and he shouted, as I think only a Primitive Methodist can, “Look!

Look, young man! Look now!” And I did look; and when they sang a

hallelujah before they went home, in their own earnest way, I am sure I

joined in it. It happened to be a day when the snow was lying deep and

more was falling; so, as I went home, those words of David kept ringing

through my heart, “Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow;” and it

seemed as if all nature was in accord with that blessed deliverance from sin

which I had found in a single moment by looking to Jesus Christ.

 

17 “Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God,

be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.”  The King eternal. The Greek

has the unusual phrase, τῷ βασιλεῖ τῶν αἰώνων – to basilei ton aionon –

“the king of the worlds or ages.” which is not found elsewhere in the New Testament,

but is found twice in the Septuagint.  Tobit 13:6 and 10 and in the Liturgy of St. James,

in the εὐχὴ τῆς ἐνάρξεως – euchae taes enarxeos  and elsewhere. The similar phrase,

ὁ Θεὸς τῶν αἰώνων – Ho Theos ton aionon -  is also found in Ecclesiasticus. 36:17.

The phrase is equivalent to αἰώνιος – aionios - eternal, as a title of the Lord, as in

Romans 16:26. The genitive τῶν αἰώνων is qualitative. In Tobit 13:6 He is "the

Lord of righteousness," i.e. the righteous Lord; and "the King of the ages," i.e.

of eternity, i.e. "the eternal King," the King through all the ages. And in v. 10

 it is said, "Bless the eternal King," who, it follows, will, as King, "love the

miserable εἰς πάσας τᾶς γενέας τοῦ αἰῶνος – eis pasas tas geneas tou aionos –

; and then it follows, in v. 12, "They that love thee shall be blessed εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα -

eis ton aiona - and again in v. 18, "Bless the Lord, who hath exalted Jerusalem

εἰς πάντας τοὺς αἰῶνας – eis pantas tous aionas  and the same conception is in

the phrase, σὺ εῖ ὁ Θεὸς τῶν αἰώνων – su ei ho Theos ton aionon. Satan, on the

other hand. is (ὁ θεὸς τοῦ αἰῶνος τούτουho theos tou aionos toutou –

“the god of this world” (compare such passages as Psalm 102:24; 104:31;

105:8; 135:13; 145:13; and the doxology in the Lord’s Prayer, “Thine is the

kingdom, and the power, and the glory, εἰς, τοὺς αἰῶνας –-  eis tous

aionas – for ever”). It seems to be, therefore, quite certain that Paul is

here using a familiar Jewish phrase for “eternal” which has nothing

whatever to do with Gnostic eons. Perhaps in the use of the phrase,

βασιλεὺς τῶν αἰώνων – basileus ton aionon – king of the ages –

we may trace a contrast passing through the writer’s mind between the short-lived

power of that hateful βασιλεύς - Nero, by whom his life would soon be taken away,

and the kingdom of the eternal King (compare ch. 6:15-16). Incorruptible –

(ἀφθάρτῳ  - aphtharto – here translated in the King James immortality;

applied to God also in Romans 1:23, where, as here, it means “immortal”

(ὁ μόνος ἔχων ἀθανασίαν – ho monos echon athanasian – who only

hath immortality – ch. 6:16), not subject to the corruption of death, just as

ἀφθαρσία aphtharsia – immortality  is coupled with “life” (II Timothy

1:10) and opposed to “death” So on the other hand, φθορά - phthora -

means “death.” φθαρτός – phthartos - “perishable.” Elsewhere it is applied

to a crown, to the raised dead, to the inheritance of the saints, to the seed of the

new birth, to the apparel of a holy heart, which no rust or moth corrupts

(I Corinthians 9:25; 15:52; I Peter 1:4, 23; 3:4). Invisible (ἀοράτῳ - aorato);

as Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 11:27. (See also Romans 1:20; and compare

ch. 6:16, for the sense.) The word is used by Philo of God, and of the Word.

Here it is especially predicated of God the Father, according to what our Lord

says (John 1:18; 6:46; 14:9); though some of the Fathers, Nicene and post-Nicene,

predicate it also of the Word or Second Person (Hilary, Chrysostom, etc.). But in

Scripture the Son is spoken of as the Manifestation, the Image (εἰκών -  icon –

image – (the word involves the two ideas of representation and manifestation) and 

χαρακτήρ – charaktaer – image (denotes a tool for graving; then a stamp, or

impress, as on a coin or seal, in which case the seal or die which makes an

impression bears the image produced by it, and vice versa, all the features of

the image correspond respectively with those of the instrument producing it -

Vines Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words) of the Father,

through whom the Father is seen and known; ἀόρατος, Invisible - therefore,

applies to the Father (see Colossians 1:15).  The only God. The best manuscripts

omit sofw~| - sopho – wise - which seems to have crept in here from Romans 16:26.

The exact construction is, “To the eternal King, the Immortal, the Invisible,

the only God [or, ‘who alone is God’], be honor,” etc. Be honor and glory.

A little varied from Paul’s usual doxologies (see Romans 11:36; 16:27; Galatians 1:5;

Ephesians 3:21; and ch.6:16, where δόξα -  doxa – glory - stands alone,

and has the article. In Romans 2:10 δόξα and τιμή - timae – honor - are

coupled together, but applied to man. This interposition of doxology is quite in

Paul’s manner.

 

Consider the titles by which God is addressed. “Now to the King of the

ages, incorruptible, invisible, the only God.”

 

  • He is King of the ages, as His kingdom is called the kingdom of all the

ages (Psalm 145:13); because as God, knowing the end from the

beginning (Acts 15:18), He fixes the periods or stages of the development

through which this world is destined to pass, shaping all events according

to His pleasure, and making all things work together for good to them that

love Him.  (Romans 8:28)

  • He is Incorruptible; because “He only hath immortality” (ch.6:16).
  • He is Invisible; for no man hath seen Him at any time, as He dwells in light

inaccessible.

  • The only God; in opposition to the false gods of the heathen, or to the

multitudes of angels and principalities and powers.

 

Consider the doxology.  “Unto him be honor and glory for ever and

ever.”

 

  • They already belong to Him alone.
  • They will belong to Him to all eternity.
  • The thought of the overruling wisdom and. mercy and goodness

of God in his case leads to this devout acknowledgment.

 

18 “This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the

prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest

war a good warfare;” This charge. The apostle now picks up the thread

which he had dropped at v. 4, and solemnly commits to Timothy the episcopal

care of the Ephesian Church, for which he had bid him stop at Ephesus.

Omitting the long digression in vs. 5-17, the sense runs clearly thus: “As I

besought thee to tarry at Ephesus in order that thou mightest charge

some not to teach a different doctrine, so now do I place this charge in

 thy hands, according to the prophecies which pointed to thee, that thou

 mayest war the good warfare according to the tenor of them.” He thus

adds that he entrusted this charge to Timothy, not mero motu (of one’s

free will) , but according to direct indications of the Holy Ghost, through

the prophets of the Church, which pointed out Timothy as the person who

was to war that good warfare. The words, ἵνα στρατεύῃ ἐν αὐταῖς τὴν καλὴν

στρατείαν - hina strateuae en autais taen kalaen strateian –

that you may be warring in them the ideal war - might possibly depend

upon τὰς προαγούσας ἐπί σε - tas proagousas epi se – went before

on thee - meaning that those prophecies had this end in pointing to Timothy, viz.

that he might war the good warfare, that he might be placed in the difficult

post of στρατηγός - strataegos – you may be warring - and the ejn aujtai~v -

en autais – in them - allows rather more naturally in this case. But it is, perhaps,

better to take them as dependent upon παρατίθεμαι. – paratithemai – I

am committing.   By them (ἐν αὐταῖς). Here ejn may be either the causae

efficiens, indicating that by the influence of these prophecies Timothy

would war the good warfare, or be equivalent to κατὰ - kata - according to.

 

 

 

The Apostle (vs. 12-18)

 

The character of the apostle and true minister of the gospel stands out here

in striking and glorious contrast with that of the heretic. Called by the

grace of God to the ministry of the Word, not self-appointed; enabled by

the grace of God, not trusting in his own cleverness; seeking the glory of

God and the salvation of souls, not aiming at his own self-exaltation; — the

apostle and minister of Christ moves altogether in a different plane from

the heretical leader. A humble sense of his own unworthiness, instead of

arrogant self-conceit; a lively apprehension of the mercy and love of God

to his own soul, instead of a self-sufficient reliance upon his own intellect;

a faithful delivery of the truth committed to him, instead of a presumptuous

fabrication of new doctrines; and a glowing faith and love, with a growing

apprehension of the glory of the central truths of the gospel, instead of a

vain reaching after new things, and an itching for exciting fables — mark

off the true servant of Christ from the pretentious heretic by unmistakable

distinctions. Well were it for the Church if these characteristics of the true

bishop of souls were more distinctly visible in all her ministers. Questions,

and strifes of words, and fables, and speculations, which tend to division

more than to unity, may be found in the teaching and writing of professing

Churchmen, as well as in those of avowed heretics. Let “the faithful

saying” hold its supreme place in the heart and in the teaching of the

Church’s ministers, and the unity as well as the holiness of the Church will

be proportionately increased. Its strength to resist heresy will be increased

in the same degree.

 

19 “Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away

concerning faith have made shipwreck:” Put away (thrust from them).

The addition “from them” is meant to give the force of the middle voice as in

Acts 7:39, Authorized Version. The verb ἀπώθομαι -apothomai – to

thrust – occurs Acts 7:27, 39; Romans 11:1-2. It is a strong expression,

 implying here the willful resistance to the voice of conscience. The form

ἀπωθέω, -έομαι is found, Acts 13:46, and frequently in the Septuagint.

Which (ἥν -  haen) applies to the good conscience only. HENCE THE

IMPORTANT LESSON THAT DEVIATION FROM THE TRUE

FAITH ARE PRECEDED BY VIOLATIONS OF CONSCIENCE! 

The surest way to maintain a pure faith is to maintain a good and tender

conscience (compare ch.2:9; John 7:17). The faith.  It is by no means certain

that ἡ πίστις -  hae pistis - here means “the faith” rather than “faith.”

Both the grammar and the sense equally admit the rendering “faith,” referring to

the preceding, πίστις. (For the phrase, περὶ τὴν πίστιν - peri taen

pistin - with respect to or about the belief -  compare ch. 6:4; II Timothy 2:18;

Titus 2:7.)

 

20 “Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered

unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme.” Hymenaeus; probably

the same as is mentioned II Timothy 2:17-18, as holding heretical doctrine

concerning the resurrection, and overthrowing the faith of some. It is an

uncommon name, though borne by a Bishop of Alexandria in the second

century, and by a Bishop of Jerusalem in the third. Alexander; doubtless the

same as “Alexander the coppersmith” of II Timothy 4:14.   Whom I

have delivered unto Satan. The passages in Scripture which throw light

on this difficult phrase are, chiefly, the following: the almost identical passage,

I Corinthians 5:5; Job 1:12; 2:6-7; Luke 13:10; Acts 5:5,10; 10:38; 13:11;

I Corinthians 11:30; II Corinthians 12:7; and Hebrews 2:14.  Putting these

together, it appears that sickness and bodily infirmity and death are, within

certain limits, in the power of Satan to inflict. And that the apostles were able,

on fitting occasions, to hand over peccant members of the Church to this power

of Satan, that by such discipline “THE SPIRIT MIGHT BE SAVED.”

(I Corinthains 5:5).  In the case of Hymenaeus and Alexander (as in that of the

incestuous person at Corinth), the punishment incident on this delivery to Satan

would appear to have been short of death, but in the case of the two first

not to have had the effect of bringing them to a true repentance.

May learn.  (παιδευθῶσι - paideuthosi - might be taught); viz. by

correction and punishment, as children are taught (Hebrews 12:6-8).

The metaphor in the word κολαφίζειν – kolaphizein – buffet; may be

chastening – (II Corinthians 12:7) is similar.

 

 

The Heretic (vs. 3-11, 19-20)

 

We have in these verses some of the characteristics of heresy very

graphically portrayed. First, there is the teaching of other or different

doctrine from that which they had received. The Fathers always lay stress

upon novelty as characteristic of heresy, while it was characteristic of the

Church to teach the old truths which had been banded down to them by

those who went before them. And they are right. “I delivered unto you that

which I also received” (I Corinthians 15:3), is the spirit of sound teaching. To

invent new doctrines, and to preach things of one’s own choosing, is the spirit of

heresy. Then, again, it is characteristic of heresy to start curious questions,

not with a view to real edification in the faith of Jesus Christ, but for the

sake of displaying subtlety in disputing, and keeping up controversy and a

war of words, and factious partisanship. The unity of the Church, and

loving agreement amongst the brethren, is the last thing that heretics think

of. Puffed up with self-importance, desirous of being leaders, despising

others, treating with contempt all who will not follow them, they turn the

Church into a bear-garden, and substitute vain jangling for the words of

truth and soberness. Especially is arrogance combined with ignorance a

leading feature in the heretic; and in his method of handling Divine truth he

makes a display of both. Another feature may be noted, as set forth in v.

19, viz. the divorce between conscience and faith. The heretic handles the

things of God as matter for mere intellectual contests, apart from reverence

and godly fear. He disputes about God and about Christ, and thinks it

unimportant whether his own heart is pure or impure. He walks in open

disobedience to God’s commandments, and yet thinks himself competent

to judge of God’s nature and attributes. He darkens his own soul by sin,

and yet dares to approach the mystery of godliness. Lastly, it is

characteristic of the heretic that he rarely, if ever, repents, and returns to

the faith which he denied. Hymenaeus and Alexander, in spite of the godly

discipline ministered to them for their correction, are still found subverting

the faith of many, and withstanding the apostle of Jesus Christ, in the latest

mention of them. They were in this respect like their brethren in heresy,

Simon Magus, Cerinthus, Marcion, Valentinus, Montanus, Manes, Arius,

Socinus, and many more.  (Freud, Darwin, Marx, -there are many today

and who will may know them.  Paul would characterize them – “But though

we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than

 that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed” –

Galatians 1:7; “If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let

him be Anathema Maranatha.” – I Corinthians 16:22 – CY – 2013)

THE SHIPWRECK OF FAITH IS, FOR THE MOST PART, TOTAL

AND IRREMEDIABLE.

 

The Greek word for heresy is αἱρέσεις - haireseis; - a choosing,

            choice – then that which is chosen, and hence an opinion, especially

            a self-willed opinion, which is substituted for submission to the power

            of truth and leads to division, the formation of sects and finally,

            APOSTASY FROM GOD!  (Think of the origins, influences and

            roles of  PRO-CHOICE and the AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES

            UNION in the United States of America’s CULTURAL DEMISE  (IT                          

ALL BEGAN WITH A CHOICE – a la – HERESY – CY -2009)          

            Such a man is a living lie against the truth.

 

 

The Apostle Paul Contrasted with a Heretic (vs. 12-18)

 

The character of the apostle and true minister of the gospel stands out here

in striking and glorious contrast with that of the heretic. Called by the

grace of God to the ministry of the Word, not self-appointed; enabled by

the grace of God, not trusting in his own cleverness; seeking the glory of

God and the salvation of souls, not aiming at his own self-exaltation; — the

apostle and minister of Christ moves altogether in a different plane from

the heretical leader. A humble sense of his own unworthiness, instead of

arrogant self-conceit; a lively apprehension of the mercy and love of God

to his own soul, instead of a self-sufficient reliance upon his own intellect;

a faithful delivery of the truth committed to him, instead of a presumptuous

fabrication of new doctrines; and a glowing faith and love, with a growing

apprehension of the glory of the central truths of the gospel, instead of a

vain reaching after new things, and an itching for exciting fablesmark

off the true servant of Christ from the pretentious heretic by unmistakable

distinctions. Well were it for the Church if these characteristics of the true

bishop of souls were more distinctly visible in all her ministers. Questions,

and strifes of words, and fables, and speculations, which tend to division

more than to unity, may be found in the teaching and writing of professing

Churchmen, as well as in those of avowed heretics. Let “the faithful

saying” hold its supreme place in the heart and in the teaching of the

Church’s ministers, and the unity as well as the holiness of the Church will

be proportionately increased. Its strength to resist heresy will be increased

in the same degree.

 


Church Government  (vs. 1-2, 19-20)

 

Paul was about to commit extensive powers in the Church to Timothy.

It was therefore necessary that lie should define clearly the source of his

own authority. This he does very distinctly. He was an apostle according to

the commandment of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. Hence his power

to delegate authority to his son Timothy, and hence the duty of the Church

to submit to Timothy’s ruling. Among the powers committed to Timothy

was that of ordaining bishops and deacons by the laying on of hands (I

Timothy 3. and 5:22, compared with II Timothy 2:2), which seems to

give us very clearly the doctrine of apostolical succession. For it should be

observed that this succession is alone consistent with what St. Paul here

writes. If the power to appoint and ordain their ministers had been vested

by Christ’s ordinance in the congregation, Paul would have been

violating the rights and liberties of the Church by sending Timothy to do

that which really belonged to the Ephesian congregation to do. But the

theory that the government of the Church is in the hands of those who have

received their commission by succession from the apostles is in exact

accord with what Paul here writes to Timothy.

 

 

 

Recurrence to Timothy (vs. 18-20)

 

1. The charge. “This charge I commit unto thee, my child Timothy,

according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that by them thou

mayest war the good warfare; holding faith and a good conscience.” The

reference seems back to v. 3, which, though distant, is the only charge

which has been defined, viz. the charge laid on Timothy, that he should

charge certain men not to teach a different doctrine, neither to give heed to

fables and endless genealogies. This involved his coming into contact with

these men, and so there is naturally introduced the idea of warfare, He was

to embrace his opportunity in Ephesus of warring the good warfare.

“Knighthood” is Luther’s word, the suggestion being the whole service in

war that is required of a good Christian knight, such as he would wish the

youthful Timothy to be. It is the good warfare; for it is not mere romance,

but a warfare against all forms of sin — a warfare in the Name of the

Savior and with His gospel, and a warfare which has the promise of

success. To call forth the knightly qualities in Timothy, Paul calls up the

prophecies which went before on him. These were founded on the good

hopes which he awakened in good men, when first he began to show his

qualities; he must not disappoint these good hopes. As prophecies, or

uttered under the inspiration of the Spirit prior to or at his introduction into

office, they were to be taken as a Divine indication that he was being put to

his proper work. They would also, we may believe, point to the hard work

which, as a good knight, he would not fear to face. Thus using the

prophecies, they would be a Divine assistance to him; they would be as

armor in which he was clad. Especially, however, with a view to what is to

follow, would the apostle impress on him the importance of holding faith

and a good conscience. Prophecies, expressions of good opinion, are only

useful in so far as they help us to lay hold by faith upon the great Source of

strength, in whom alone we can show all knightly activity and endurance.

They are also useful, only if we do not allow them to seduce us to part

with a good conscience, our better self — THAT INWARD MONITOR that

from moment to moment points to us our duty, and in whose approval we can

feel that we have the approval of God.

 

2. Warning. “Which some having thrust from them made shipwreck

concerning the faith: of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I

delivered unto Satan, that they might be taught not to blaspheme.” For

Timothy’s warning, Paul points to the heretics. Instead of holding faith and

a good conscience, these thrust away from them the latter, as men, with a

certain violence, put away something that is disagreeable. Their truest

friend they thrust aside, as they would a troublesome creditor. The result

was, that they made shipwreck of their faith. Throwing away all that was

needed to direct them, all that served as chart, compass, rudder, they made

shipwreck of themselves concerning faith in Christ, thus coming short of

ETERNAL LIFE!   How disastrous, especially for those who seemed to make a fair

start in the voyage of life! The teaching of the apostle is suggestive

regarding the causes of heresy. “As unbelief nearly always leads to grosser

or more refined immorality, so not rarely it begins from an immoral

ground, at least when faith existed before (Romans 1:21). This is a

deep mental truth; for it is far too common to represent faith or infidelity as

a matter of abstract opinion.” Earnestness in life leads to correct opinion

(John 7:17), whereas moral indifference makes it for our interest to

doubt. Heresies have a secret moral genesis which will one day be made

plain. Two notable heretics are mentioned here — Hymenaeus and

Alexander. In II Timothy 2:17 Hymenaeus is associated with Philetus

in this, that their teaching did eat like a canker. He and Alexander (not the

coppersmith of ibid. ch. 4:14) are here referred to as having been

delivered unto Satan. This seems strong language to us who have nothing

to impress us in the shape of such apostolic discipline in our time. It is

properly regarded as “a form of Christian excommunication, declaring the

person to be reduced to the state of a heathen, accompanied with the

authoritative infliction of bodily disease or death.” In this case the infliction

of punishment was with a view to reformation. There was nothing to

hinder their being received back into the Christian Church. Their probation

was not at an end; there was reason for further dealing, and what was

suitable to their case was the hard. dealing here referred to. Better that men

should be excommunicated — with which power the Church is still

invested — better that men should have disease sent upon them, than that

they should remain in a state of religious indifference or be spreaders of

error.

 

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The Nature and Design of the Law (vs. 8-9)

 

“We know that the Law is good, if a man use it lawfully.” This passage

contains the last recorded utterance of the apostle concerning the Law, and

of which he speaks with all the conscious authority of an apostle. He

asserts the goodness of the Law — the moral Law, not the ceremonial,

which was now disannulled, for the context refers expressly to the precepts

of the Decalogue — and this goodness is manifest if you keep in view the

moral end for which it was given. Perhaps the apostle may have had in

view the lax moral practice of the errorists at Ephesus.

 

  • THE LAWFUL USE OF THE LAW. Scripture sets forth its design in

plain language.

 

Ø      It was a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ. (Galatians 3:24.) Thus

“Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness” (Romans 10:4).

 

Ø      But it only brings us to Christ as it reveals to us our imperfections and

our sins. “For by the Law is the knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:20). It

was, indeed, “added because of transgressions” (Galatians 3:19). The

Law shows us our sinfulness, and drives us to the Savior. It thus “shuts us

up to faith” (Galatians 3:23).

 

·        THE UNLAWFUL USE OF THE LAW.

 

Ø      To make it the occasion of endless logomachies — of vain talking, of

“strivings about the Law.”

 

Ø      To seek justification by obedience to its precepts.

 

Ø      To strive for the attainment of holiness by a use of the Law, interpreted,

not in its plain sense, but with meanings imposed upon it by mystical

allegorizings and theosophic culture. The errorists at Ephesus were no

Pharisaic legalists or mere Judaists, but persons ignorant of the true

nature and design of the Law; who abstained from things lawful and

good, and were yet morally corrupt (Titus 1:10; Revelation 2:9,14,20,24).

 

  • GROUND OF THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN ITS LAWFUL

AND UNLAWFUL USE. “Knowing this, that the Law is not made for a

righteous man, but for the lawless”

 

Ø      The Law is not made for a righteous man.

 

o        This does not mean that a righteous man — that is, a man right with

God, whose experience has made the principles of righteousness

habitual with him — has no relation whatever to the Law.

 

ü      Because the Law had relation to

 

v      Adam in innocence, who had the Law written in his

heart;

v      to Abraham, who was a righteous man;

v      to David, who was a righteous man;

v      and to all the Old Testament saints;

v      it had even relation to Jesus Christ himself,

who was “made under the Law” — the very “Law

that was in His heart” (Psalm 40:8), of which He was

“the end for righteousness” (Romans 10:4),

because he came to fulfill it (Matthew 5:16).

 

ü      Because the Law has relation to believers under the Christian

dispensation; for this very apostle enforces the obligation to

obey it, specifying six of its enactments (Romans 13:8-9;

Ephesians 6:1).  James says that believers who show respect

of persons become “transgressors of the Law.” Therefore,

when the apostle says “the Law is not made for a righteous

man,” he does not mean that the righteous man is no longer

bound to obey it. He delights in it; he actually serves it

(Romans 7:25). If any should say that the apostle means that

the righteous do not need the Law to direct them, we answer

that they might as well say they do not need the Scripture

to direct them, as the Law is already in their hearts. How

is a righteous man to know sin but by the Law? “For by

the Law is the knowledge of sin.”

 

o        His statement has an abstract cast, like our Lord’s saying, “I am not

come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

 

ü      The Law was not made because of righteous, but because of

wicked, men. “It was added because of transgressions.”

It is similar to the statement of the apostle concerning the

nine graces of the Spirit —“against such there is no Law”

(Galatians 5:23). The Law does not, cannot condemn, any

one of these graces.

 

ü      The Law was never made for the righteous man in the sense

in which it was made for the unrighteous man, to condemn

him; for the righteous man is redeemed from the curse of the

Law (Galatians 3:13). Its penalty cannot affect him; its burden

does not weigh him down; its terrors do not bring him into

bondage. On the contrary, he delights in it as he serves it.

Thus, while in one sense the righteous man delights in it

and serves it, he is in another sense “not under the Law,

but under grace” (Romans 6:14).  It may be further observed

that if Adam had continued in his original righteousness,

the Law of Sinai would never have been given to man. “It

was added because of transgressions.”

 

Ø      The Law is made for the wicked. They are described according to the

two tables of the Decalogue. Those in the first table go in pairs.

 

o        The lawless and unruly. These terms describe opposition to the Law —

the one in its more subjective, the other in its more objective side; the one

representing, perhaps, a more passive, the other a more active hostility to

Law.

 

o        The ungodly and sinful. These terms describe the opposition to God —

the one without reverence for him, the other living in defiance of him.

 

o        The unholy and profane. These terms describe the manifestation of the

wicked and godless spirit toward the Name or ordinances of God. They

touch upon the violation of the first four commandments.

 

o        Those in the second table in with

 

ü      sins against the fifth commandment: “smiters of fathers and

smiters of mothers;”

ü      sins against the sixth: “man-slayers;”

ü      sins against the seventh: “fornicators, sodomites;”

ü      sins against the eighth: “men-stealers” — this special form of

transgression being selected because the theft of a man himself

is a far more serious offence than the theft of his goods;

ü      sins against the ninth: “for liars, for perjurers” — the one being a

great advance in enormity upon the other.

ü      Strange that the apostle does not enumerate the tenth, which

operated upon himself so powerfully (Romans 7:7). Perhaps

it was designed by the inclusive reference no longer to the

committers of sin, but to the sins themselves: “And if there

be any other thing that is contrary to the sound instruction,

according to the gospel of the glory of God which was

committed to my trust.” This language implies:

 

v      that the list is not designed to be exhaustive of the various

forms of evil in the worm;

v      that the Law and the gospel are in perfect harmony

respecting what is sin;

v      that the design of the gospel is to set forth the glory

of God’s mercy, goodness and love;

v      that the gospel is a precious deposit committed to

human hands, to be dispensed for the benefit of the

race of man. The apostle did not shrink

from such a solemn trust, but rather rejoiced in it.

 

 

 

Expression of Thankfulness for this High Trust

   (vs. 12-13)

 

Though he appears to turn aside for a moment from the false teachers, he is

still carrying out his design to inspire Timothy with a proper view of the

true nature and importance of the gospel.

 

  • THE SUBJECT-MATTER OF HIS THANKSGIVING. “I thank Christ

Jesus our Lord, that enabled me, for that he counted me faithful,

appointing me to the ministry.”

 

Ø      The Lord gave him strength for his work. “He enabled me.” He gave

him all his intellectual abilities, all his capacity for winning men to the truth,

all his firmness, endurance, and patience in preaching the gospel.

 

Ø      The Lord gave him his appoint-melt to the ministry.

 

o        The apostle did not thrust himself into it, nor take this honor to himself,

neither was he called unto it by men.

 

o        It was the Lord himself who made a minister of him; for the apostle

speaks of “the ministry which I received of the Lord Jesus to testify the

gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24). The ministry here signifies

the more humble service, rather than the apostleship; for he refers rather

to the work to be done than to the prerogatives of his office.

 

o        The Lord counted him faithful for the work; not that the faithfulness

was a foreseen quality which became the ground of his call to office, but

that he counted him faithful because he made him so, for he speaks of

himself as” one who hath obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful”

(I Corinthians 7:25). Faithfulness must be the pre-eminent quality of the

steward of God (ibid. ch. 4:2).

 

  • HIS THANKSGIVING IS GREATLY ENHANCED BY THE

THOUGHT OF HIS DEEP UNWORTHINESS. “Who was before a

blasphemer, and a persecutor, and a doer of outrage.” These are words of

bitter self-accusation.

 

Ø      He had been a blasphemer. He spoke evil himself of the Name of Jesus,

and compelled others to follow his example (Acts 26:11). This was the

highest sin that could be committed against God.

 

Ø      He had been a persecutor. “I persecuted this way unto the death,

binding and delivering into prisons both men and women” (Acts 22:4).

He “breathed out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the

Lord” (ibid. ch. 9:1). He not only spoke evil of Christ, but persecuted

Christ in his members.

 

Ø      He had been a doer of outrage. Not content merely with reproachful

words, he broke out into deeds of violence. His conduct was

contumelious and injurious in the last degree.

 

 

 

The Lord’s Mercy Contrasted with His Own Want of It

   (v. 13)

 

Great as his sin had been, he became a subject of Divine mercy.

 

  • THE LORD’S MERCY TO HIM. “I obtained mercy.”

 

Ø      The mercy included the pardon of his great wickedness. It was mercy

unsought for as well as unmerited.

 

Ø      It was mercy with the grace of apostleship added to it.

 

  • THE GROUND AND REASON OF THIS MERCY. “Because I did it

ignorantly in unbelief.”

 

Ø      The true ground of mercy is nothing whatever in man, but the

compassion of God himself (Titus 3:5).

 

Ø      The apostle does not signify that he had any claim to Gods mercy, for

he calls himself in the next verse “the very chief of sinners.”

 

Ø      He does not mean to lessen the enormity of his guilt, but sets it forth, in

all its attending circumstances, as not being such as excluded him from

the pale of mercy, because he had not sinned against his own convictions.

 

o       He did it ignorantly; but ignorance was no excuse where there were

the means of knowledge; and unbelief, out of which the ignorance

springing could not be accepted as an excuse, since he had heard the

statement of Stephen. Besides, all sins spring from ignorance, and are

aggravated by unbelief.

 

o        But he did not sin willfully against light and conscience, and so commit

the sin against the Holy Ghost.

 

o        He who has compassion on the ignorant had compassion upon him,

when he found him an ignorant and blinded zealot. Thus were confirmed

the words of Christ, that every sin against the Son of man will be forgiven,

so long as there is no blasphemy against the Spirit (Matthew 12:31).

The apostle had not deliberately set at naught the counsel of God, but

stood on exactly the same ground with those sinners converted at

Pentecost, who had acted “in ignorance” (Acts 3:17). The sin was

great in both cases, but it was not unpardonable.

 

o        There is nothing in the apostle’s statement to justify the opinion that

those who have never heard of Christ will be forgiven on account of their

ignorance. Our Lord’s words warrant the expectation that there will be a

mitigation, but not a remission, of punishment in such cases. “He that knew

not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few

stripes” (Luke 12:48). The language in both passages justifies

charitable judgments even respecting persecutors.

 

 

 

 

The Super-Abounding Grace of the Lord to the Apostle

(v. 14)

 

He now explains how fully he received of God’s mercy in spite of his unbelief.

 

  • THE MERCY OF THE LORD OVERFLOWED IN GRACE ON

GOD’S SIDE. “But the grace of our Lord super-abounded.” His salvation

was of free grace. He had done nothing to deserve it, but rather everything

to forfeit his claim upon it. It was grace first that made him a Christian, and

then made him an apostle.

 

  • THE MERCY OF THE LORD OVERFLOWED IN FAITH AND

LOVE ON MAN’S SIDE. “With faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.”

 

Ø      These two graces are the fruits of grace. When grace abounds, they will

necessarily abound.

 

Ø      Faith stands in opposition to his old unbelief. It is that grace which

receives every blessing from Christ, and gives him all the glory, bringing

peace, joy, and comfort into the heart, and ending in eternal life.

 

Ø      Love stands in opposition to his former rage and cruelty. He now has

love to God and man.

 

Ø      His faith and love find their true spring in Jesus Christ, as in him all

fullness dwells.

 

 

 

The Summary of the Gospel (v. 15)

 

This statement is grounded on his own experience of God’s saving mercy.

 

  • THE TRUTH AND CERTAINTY OF THE GOSPEL REVELATION.

“Faithful is the Word, and worthy of all acceptation.” Five times does this

phrase occur in the pastoral Epistles. It was a sort of formula or

watchword of the early Christian Churches.

 

Ø      The doctrine of salvation is entitled to all credit. It is certain that Christ

came to save sinners.

 

Ø      It is to be received by all sorts of people, with heartiness and gladness,

as a doctrine suitable to the necessities of all men. With what zeal it

ought, therefore, to be set before men!

 

  • THE SUBSTANCE OF THE GOSPEL REVELATION. “That Christ

Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.”

 

Ø      This language implies Christs pre-existence. He left the glory which he

had with the Father before the world was (John 16:28).

 

Ø      It implies that he came voluntarily of his own free will. It is true that

God’s love is manifest in the sending of Jesus, but Christ’s love is equally

manifest in his advent. It was necessary that he should come into the world,

because he could not otherwise suffer and die in our stead. The fact that he

came as man in the fullness of time implies that the mere forth-putting of

spiritual power from heaven did not suffice. A man’s work had to be done

that God’s mercy might reach us.

 

Ø      It suggests the true design of his coming. “To save sinners.”

 

o        This implies the revelation of God’s will to man.

o        The impetration of salvation through Christ’s suffering and obedience.

o        The application of the salvation to the objects of it.

o        That sinners need salvation, and are lost without it.

o        That the greatest sinners have no right to despair of salvation — “of

whom I am chief.”

 

ü      The apostle speaks of himself in the present tense, not in the past,

for he still feels himself to be but a believing sinner.

ü      The language recalls his frequent allusions to his persecutions

of the Church of God. God had forgiven him, but he could never

forgive himself. He places himself in the very front rank of

transgressors because of his share in the devastation of the Church.

ü      The language implies his deep humility. It was an element in his

spiritual greatness that he had such a sense of his own sin. He

calls himself elsewhere “less than the least of all saints”

(Ephesians 3:8).

ü      It is well to be mindful of our sin in a way of godly sorrow,

as a means of keeping us humble and thankful for the rich

grace of the gospel dispensed to us.

 

 

 

The Apostle an Example of the Divine Long-Suffering to All Ages

(vs. 16-17)

 

There was an economical purpose in the salvation of the Apostle Paul.

 

  • THE EXERCISE OF THE LORD’S LONG-SUFFERING TOWARD

THE APOSTLE. “Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy.”

 

Ø      The mercy takes the form of long-suffering; for the Lord bore long with

the ways of this fierce persecutor of the saints, when he might have cut his

career short in judgment.

 

Ø      It took the form of positive deliverance from guilt and sin and death.

How often “the long-suffering of the Lord is to usward salvation”

(II Peter 3:9)!

 

  • THE DESIGN OF THIS REMARKABLE EXHIBITION OF

MERCY. “That in me as the chief Jesus Christ might show forth all

longsuffering, for a pattern to them who should hereafter believe on him

to life everlasting.”

 

Ø      The long-suffering is exercised by the Lord himself. It is he who is

wounded in the persecutions of his members. “Saul, Saul! why persecutest

thou me?” Yet it is he who shows mercy.

 

Ø      The greatest persecutors may not despair of mercy. The Lord will tarry

long with them if peradventure they may repent and turn to him.

 

Ø      The case of Paul — “the chief of sinners” — ought to encourage

sinners of every class and sort to exercise hope and trust in the Lord, as

well as to meet the misgivings of those who think they have sinned too

much to warrant the expectation that the Lord will have mercy upon them.

 

Ø      Trust in Jesus Christ necessarily brings with it eternal life. There is

nothing needed but faith for this purpose. “He that hath the Son hath life.”

 

  • ASCRIPTION OF PRAISE AND THANKFULNESS TO GOD FOR

HIS MERCY.

 

Ø      Consider the titles by which God is addressed. “Now to the King of the

ages, incorruptible, invisible, the only God.”

 

o        He is King of the ages, as His kingdom is called the kingdom of all the

ages (Psalm 145:13); because as God, knowing the end from the

beginning, he fixes the periods or stages of the development through

which this world is destined to pass, shaping all events according to

his pleasure,and making all things work together for good to them

that love him.

 

o        Incorruptible; because “he only hath immortality” (I Timothy 6:16).

 

o        Invisible; for no man hath seen him at any time, as he dwells in light

inaccessible.

 

o        The only God; in opposition to the false gods of the heathen, or to the

multitudes of angels and principalities and powers.

 

Ø      Consider the doxology. “Unto Him be honor and glory for ever and

ever.”

 

o        They already belong to Him alone.

o        They will belong to Him to all eternity.

o        The thought of the overruling wisdom and mercy and goodness

of God in his case leads to this devout acknowledgment.

 

 

 

The Solemn Charge to Timothy (vs. 18-20)

 

The apostle here returns to the duty of directing Timothy.

 

  • IT IS NECESSARY FOR EVEN GOOD MINISTERS TO BE

REMINDED OF THEIR DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES. “This

charge I commit to thee, my son Timothy.”

 

Ø      The charge may have indirectly alluded to the commands already

given, but refers immediately to the good warfare in which he is to war as

the fulfillment of his calling.

 

Ø      It is committed to him like a precious deposit to be guarded and kept.

How anxious the apostle is that Timothy should be faithful to his position

and his responsibilities!

 

  • IT IS A SOLEMN THING TO INVOKE THE MEMORY OF

PROPHECIES OR PIOUS ANTICIPATIONS IN AID OF A DIFFICULT

CAREER. “According to the prophecies that went before on thee, that by

them thou mightest war a good warfare.”

 

Ø      The allusion is to prophecies uttered probably at his ordination by the

prophets of the Church, foretelling his future zeal and success. Such

prophetic intimations were not uncommon in the primitive Church. We

trace them at Jerusalem (<441127>Acts 11:27, 28), at Antioch (Acts 13:1),

at Corinth (1 Corinthians 14.), at Caesarea (Acts 21:8-10).

 

Ø      Such prophecies would act with a stimulating, self-protective power

upon a temperament like that of Timothy, inclined, perhaps, to softness

and timidity. They would encourage him in the midst of his present perils

and trials at Ephesus.

 

Ø      It is a serious thing to disappoint the hopes of the pious.

 

  • THE PURPOSE CONTEMPLATED BY THE COMMAND AS

WELL AS ITS IMMEDIATE SUBJECT. “That by them” — that is, in

virtue of them — “thou mightest war a good warfare.” The figure is a

familiar one with the apostle (Ephesians 6:12; II Corinthians 10:3-4;

II Timothy 2:3).

 

Ø      Christian life, and above all that of a minister, is a good warfare.

 

o        It is good because it is against evil — the world, the flesh, and

the devil;

o        because it is directed toward the good of men;

o        because it is for a good end, the glory of God.

 

Ø      It is to be carried on

 

o        under Christ as Captain (Hebrews 2:10);

o        with watchfulness and sobriety (I Corinthians 16:13;

I Thessalonians 5:6);

o        with an enduring hardness (II Timothy 2:3, 10);

o        with self-denial (I Corinthians 9:25-27);

o        with prayer (Ephesians 6:18).

 

  • THE WEAPONS IN THIS WARFARE ARE FAITH AND A GOOD

CONSCIENCE. “Holding faith and a good conscience. The two must go

together, but faith must necessarily go first. You cannot have a good

conscience without faith, nor faith in its reality without a good conscience.

There must be faith in your teaching, conscience in your actions.

 

Ø      Faith. There is “the shield of faith.” It is not the mere doctrine of faith,

but the grace of faith. It is by this faith we overcome

 

o        the world (I John 5:4-5);

o        the flesh (Galatians 5:24);

o        the devil (I John 2:14);

o        everything that exalts itself (II Corinthians 10:5);

o        death and the grave (I Corinthians 15:54-55).

 

A mere intellectual belief could not produce such results; for “the devils

believe and tremble.”

 

Ø      A good conscience.

 

o        It is good because it is sprinkled with the blood of Christ (Hebrews

9:14).

o        Because it helps to keep the faith in purity (I Timothy 3:9).

o        Christians ought to seek the approval of their consciences in all things

(Acts 24:16).

o        Its testimony ought to be a source of joy (II Corinthians 1:12;

I John 3:21).

o        Ministers ought always to commend themselves to the consciences

of their people (II Corinthians 4:2).

 

  • THE WOEFUL SHIPWRECK OF CONSCIENCE. “Which some

having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck.” The figure is a

nautical one. When the cargo or ballast of a good conscience is tossed

overboard, the ship becomes unmanageable, and is easily shipwrecked.

“Some” at Ephesus resolutely stifled the admonitions of conscience, and

thus turned faith into a mere matter of speculation, with no influence

whatever upon their practice.

 

Ø      These persons made shipwreck of the doctrine of faith; for they held

that the resurrection is past already (II Timothy 2:18).

 

Ø      If they made shipwreck of the grace of faith, it may not have been a

total shipwreck; for the discipline imposed upon them by the apostle

was for the saving of the spirit, “not for the destruction of the flesh”

II Corinthians 5:5).

 

Ø      The apostles method of dealing with these off riders. “Of whom are

Hymeaeus trod Alexander; whom I delivered unto Satan, that they may be

taught not to blaspheme.”

 

o        Hymenaeus was almost certainly the same as the impugner of a future

resurrection (II Timothy 2:17); and Alexander was probably, but not

so certainly, the same as Alexander the coppersmith (ibid. ch. 4:14),

who was a resolute personal enemy of the apostle.

 

o        The apostle delivered them unto Satan, which seems to have included

 

ü      a solemn excommunication from the Church, carried out no

doubt by the Church at the apostle’s command; and

 

ü      the infliction of bodily disease. Cases of the exercise of

this terrible apostolic power are those of Ananias and

Sapphira, Elymas, and the incestuous person at Corinth.

 

ü      It was not an irrevocable sentence, for its remission depended

upon the return of the offenders to faith and. repentance.

“That they may be taught through chastisement not to

blaspheme.” The design was the recovery of

the offenders; but neither this Epistle nor the next

throws any light upon the ultimate effect of the severe

discipline inflicted by the apostle.

 

 

 

The Divine Benediction (vs. 1-2)

 

“Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our

Lord.” This is a trinity of blessing. The gospel is to be preached as a new

life. This contrasts with vain jangling in the sixth verse. Some had

swerved, or literally turned aside, as an arrow that misses the mark. Paul

speaks of “questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith.” And

there are questions mysterious, questions curious, which unregenerated

hearts may discuss to the hindrance of true religion. This salutation of the

young apostle begins, therefore, with a high spiritual tone: “Grace, mercy,

peace.”

 

  • WHO THE GIFTS WERE FROM. “God our Father and Jesus Christ

our Lord.” But in the first verse Paul speaks of God as our Savior. Notice

this; it is peculiar, and may keep us from confining ideas of pity and

tenderness to Christ alone. God is the Author of salvation, He sent his Son

to be the Savior of the world. Here, then, we come to the Fountain-head of

the river of grace. Paul cannot give grace, mercy, and peace; they are from

“God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.” Paul was the ambassador of

the gospel, not the author of it; a preacher, not a priest. The priest never

dies, because proud human nature never dies. Men like to say,” through

us.” In after years, when Paul was dead, there might have come some

temptation to Timothy to say, “I derived my apostolate from, I stood next

to, him.” But a salutation is not a consecration.

 

  • WHAT ARE THE GIFTS THEMSELVES? Emphatically Christian

gifts. The Roman motto would have been, “Courage, skill, force.” The

Athenian motto would have been, “Pleasure, beauty, philosophy.”

 

Ø      Grace. God’s favor. The beautiful Divine nature revealing itself on the

cross as forgiveness, and in a life of tenderness, pity, and holiness to which

the Christian is to be conformed. Grace forgives and grace renews. It is a

large word. It carries at its heart all that we mean by moral loveliness and

gracefulness. It is the fulfillment of the ancient prayer, “Let the beauty of

the Lord our God be upon us.”

 

Ø      Mercy. What a picture of cruelty we see in the Roman age, with its

amphitheatres, its gladiators, its horrors on a Roman holiday, and its slave

quarters! No hospitals for the sick, no asylums for the poor and needy.

“Mercy.” The cross meant mercy. The parables meant mercy. The prayer

was fulfilled, “Lord, show us the Father.”

 

Ø      Peace. The Jews had their disputations about eatings and drinkings and

genealogies. Their Church was alive, only with vigorous disputation. The

gospel meant true peace — peace, not of condition, but of conscience.

Ever must it be so. Peace with God! Peace with our brethren! Peace within

ourselves! So the Savior’s legacy was realized: “Peace I leave with you,

my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you.”

 

 

 

The Vital End of Religion (v. 5)

 

“Now the end of the commandment is charity.” When we know the Divine

end or purpose, we get light on all that leads to that end. Charity, or love

that is like God’s own love, is the end of all. Religious principle in its root

and stem is to blossom into the beauty of Christ-like character. Christianity

is a truth, that it may be a life. It is not to be mere doctrine, or mere ritual.

We may be fiery disputants without being faithful soldiers. We may even be

workers in the vineyard, without the faith which worketh by love.

Ecclesiasticism is not necessarily religion. There may be Church uniformity,

Church harmony, and aesthetic ceremonial, and yet, so far as Divine life is

concerned, there may be “no breath at all in the midst of it.” Let us confine

ourselves to the first word.

 

  • CHARITY IS HIGHER THAN UNIFORMITY. With Constantine

Christianity meant uniformity, with Hildebrand it meant supremacy. But in

its spirituality and simplicity the gospel remains the same in all ages. We

are to live Christ; and to live Christ is to live in love, as Christ also loved

us, and gave himself for us. Ecclesiasticism is often a system of severe

outward drill, an obedience to outward rite and cult. So the Romish

Church in Spain, centuries ago, forcibly converted the Moors by dashing

holy water in their faces, and so admitted them into the communion of the

Church. The gospel cannot be spread by a rough-and-ready

“multitudinism” like that. It must begin in personal faith, and work in the

spirit of love.

 

  • CHARITY FINDS ITS IMAGE IN GOD. We need not ask what this

love is. For we have seen it incarnated in the words and deeds of the

Christ, and in his sufferings for “our sakes” upon the cross.

 

Ø      It is not the selfish love which gives affection where it receives affection,

and turns even a gift into barter and exchange.

 

Ø      It is not the costless love which will be an almoner of bounty where

there is no personal self-denial and suffering; but it gives itself.

 

Ø      It is not the love of a passing mood, which ministers in affectionate ways

in times of high-wrought emotion; but a love which is full of forbearance

with our faults, and is triumphant over our faithlessness. So the end of the

commandment is worthy of the God who gives the commandment. Like

himself, it is charity. And we have reached the highest vision-point in

Revelation, when we see in its sublime teachings, not were commandments

which may be arbitrary, but an unfolding of the nature of God.

 

 

 

 

Life’s Inner Springs (v. 5)

 

“Out of a pure heart.” This is the soil in which the heavenly grace grows,

and this soil is essential to the purity and beauty of the grace. It is not

enough to plant the seed; we must till and nourish the soil.

 

  • THE HEART IS THE TESTING-PLACE OF WHAT WE LIKE. Here

I would give emphasis to the fact that “the good man out of the good

treasure of his heart brings forth good things.” There must be passion in all

true life. As Mr. Ruskin truly says, “The entire object of true education is

to make people not merely do the right things, but enjoy the right things;

not merely industrious, but to love industry; not merely learned, but to love

learning; not merely pure, but to love purity; not merely just, but to hunger

and thirst after righteousness. Taste is not only a part and index of

morality; it is the only morality. The first and last and closest trial-question

to any living creature is — What do you like? Tell me what you like, and

I’ll tell you what you are.” Exactly! So says the gospel. “Out of the heart

are the issues of life;” “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” This is a

true teaching, and may open up a new view of moral and spiritual life to

the thoughtful mind.

 

  • THE HEART IS THE REVEALING PART OF THE TRUE MAN.

You must watch life in its temper and spirit at all times and in all places.

You may be deceived by good actions. Men may build almshouses and yet

live so as to break hearts; they may be courageous in confronting tyrannies

abroad, and yet live impure lives in the indulgence of besetting sins. Think

of this. Good actions do not make a good man; it is the good man that

makes the good actions. A man may be beneficent and give thousands to

hospitals, or brave and rescue drowning men from death, or patriotic and

save a nation in perilous times, and yet he may not have the mind of Christ,

and his heart may be unrenewed. “A pure heart.” We all love pure things

— the white marble, the rain-washed sky, the peerless alabaster, the silver

wings of the dove. So Christ would have us all desire and seek the pure

heart.

 

 

 

The Sense of Rectitude (v. 5)

 

“And of a good conscience.” We here come to the ethical region of

rectitude, showing us how complete the gospel is, and how it stands

related to the whole of our complex nature. We notice here the connection

of “good” with conscience; let us see what it means. May there be another

conscience that is not good?

 

  • THERE MAY BE THE CASUIST’S CONSCIENCE. We see this in the

case of the scribes and Pharisees in the time of our Lord. The simple

instincts of justice and mercy were perverted by ecclesiastical routine, and

the minutiae of legal ordinations. They overlaid the Law, which appealed

to the native instincts of conscience, by their traditions, which did not so

appeal, and which were burdensome and troublesome. So in Luther’s time

the consciences of men were in the keeping of the priests, and an artificial

and Jesuitical morality made even immorality sometimes expedient and

lawful. Men lost the native instincts of right and wrong in obedience to an

artificial and ecclesiastical code of morals; they worried themselves about

sins that were no sins, and they lost the consciousness that men may be

sinners even when they are obedient sons of the Church.

 

  • THERE MAY BE THE WORLDLY CONSCIENCE. This makes

custom into a god. Conscience is ruled and regulated by what is expedient,

or what society expects of men. They are pained at the sin which brings

shame before men, but are not disconcerted at desires, emotions, and

actions which are evil in the sight of God. It is a wonderful interesting

study this — the relation of society to sin. For there are fashionable vices

and respectable sins which are heinous in the sight of God, but the

conscience is at ease because the spirit of the age does not condemn them.

How important, then, it is to keep conscience enlightened by the Word of

God and invigorated by the Holy Ghost! The end of the commandment is

in the best sense to make you a law unto yourself. It is important to have

the Bible in our heads, but it is most important to have Christ enthroned in

the tribunal of conscience within.

 

 

 

The Absence of Hypocrisy (v. 5)

 

“And faith unfeigned.” We all dislike shams. Led by Carlyle, the English

nation has lately heard many prophetic voices against them. We insist, in

art, in dress, in manners, and in religion, on sincerity. Without this nothing

is beautiful, because nothing is real. We hate feigned learning, feigned skill,

feigned culture, and feigned superiority. The apostle tells us here that faith

must be unfeigned. Now, if the end of the commandment is love, the

argument is this, that the faith which is to be worked by such a glorious

inspiration of charity must be an honest, earnest, real faith.

 

  • WE MUST BELIEVE IN HUMANITY BEFORE WE CAN LOVE

MEN. Believe, that is, that there is an ideal of God in every man; that

underneath his depravity and degradation there is a moral nature which

may be renewed, and a life which may be transfigured into the glory of

Christ. For man’s conscience was made to know the truth, his heart to feel

it, and his will to be guided and energized by it. If we think of men

cynically or contemptuously, then there will be no earnest efforts to save

that which is lost.

 

  • WE MUST BELIEVE IN THE POWER OF CHRIST AND HIS

CROSS, OR WE SHALL NOT BE ENTHUSIASTIC IN PREACHING

THEM. No doubter can be a good preacher. Men know and feel the power

of ardent faith. The arrow will miss the mark if the hand of the archer

shakes, or distrusts its weapon. The one great element of success is

unfeigned faith — a faith which says, “I believed, and therefore have I

spoken.” There may be a variable faith, like that of the Vicar of Bray’s,

which believed anything — Romanistic, Rationalistic, or Evangelical — for

the sake of position. But the mask soon drops, anti men, instead of

receiving the truth, despise the raise teacher. “We believe and are sure that

thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God,” is the essential basis of a

true ministry. Such a faith will be touched with enthusiasm like unto his

who said, “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of Christ Jesus

our Lord.”

 

  • WE MUST BELIEVE IN A VITAL SENSE SO AS TO LIVE OUR

BELIEF. An unfeigned faith is one that we practice ourselves; one that fills

every channel of our being — our ethical life, our philanthropies, our

missionary endeavors, our home joys and sanctities. There is a faith which

is merely dogmatic — which holds fast the Christian doctrines, but fails to

translate them into life. The atonement itself, so august and awful, must

ever stand alone as a Divine sacrifice; but its moral effect is to be lived.

“We thus judge, that if One died for all, then were all dead; and that we

who live should not henceforth live unto ourselves, but unto him who died

for us and rose again.” Faith is not to be a waxwork fruit — something

artificial and unreal — but the living vine, of which Christ is the root.

 

 

 

 

A Gospel of Glory (v. 11)

 

“According to the glorious gospel.” These are the words of a true

enthusiasm. St. Paul gloried in the gospel. We may read it, however, as in

the Revised Version, “According to the gospel of the glory of God.” Either

way the glory of it fills the heart of the apostle with intense rapture. No

good work is done without enthusiasm. The great Italian artists — men

like Angelico, Fra Bartolomeo, and Michael Angelo — associated heaven

with earth in their work, and did it, not for mere pay, but for great ideal

results. So also great apostles and reformers, like Paul, Wickliffe, and

Luther, were enthusiasts. But all healthy enthusiasm is inspired by reality

and truth. Some men have made shipwreck of religion because they lost the

compass of the Word of God; and others, dependent on feeling alone, have

wandered, being led by the ignis-fatuus of imagination alone.

 

  • PAUL SEES IN HIMSELF WHAT THE GOSPEL CAN DO. “Take

me,” he says; “I was before a persecutor, and injurious.” What could

account for such a change as is embodied in the man who from Saul

became Paul? No theory of moral dynamics can stand, that suggests he

lifted himself into so great a change. Neither could the Hebrew Church of

that age, which was coldly ritual, sterile, and barren. “This is a faithful

saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world

to save sinners; of whom I am chief. Howbeit for this cause I obtained

mercy, that in me first Christ Jesus might show forth all long-suffering, for

a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.”

No man can be so ardent about a cure as he who has tried a physician; no

man admires the great artist so much as he who has tested his own feeble

powers. And now “what the Law could not do, in that it was weak through

the flesh, God sending his own Son,” had done, and done in Paul: he is a

proof of the gospel before he becomes a preacher of it.

 

  • PAUL GIVES A NEW SIGNIFICANCE TO THE WORD “GLORY.”

On his lips glory takes a new meaning. He had seen the glories of the

Caesars, who raised their thrones on hecatombs of human lives, and filled

their courts with unbounded luxuries and lusts. Surrounded by soldiers and

courtesans, their glory was in their shame. He had seen the glories of the

architects, sculptors, and artists, at Athens, Corinth, and Rome. But the

glory of which he spoke was in a life that gave itself — that came, not to

be ministered unto, but to minister, and that on the cross died for the sins

of the whole world. It was the glory of goodness, the glory of compassion,

the glory of self-sacrifice.

 

  • PAUL REJOICES TO TELL THE GOOD NEWS OF THIS GLORY.

It is the glorious gospel, or the glorious “good news” for all men

— Greek and Jew, barbarian and Scythian, bond and free. How simple a

thing it seems — “good news!” and yet it is speech that moves the world!

Homer is remembered, when the military heroes of Greece are forgotten.

Syncs live longer than thrones. This good news was of a Christ who had

died, and risen, and was working then in the hearts of men. Paul lived long

enough to plant Churches, and to show that the cross could turn men

“from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God.” He could

show them not only the root, but the tree; not only the seed, but the

flower. It was good news in relation to man himself — to his present

history and his everlasting destiny. The gospel had made life desirable, and

checked the false euthanasia of Roman suicide; and it had spread a great

sky of immortality above men’s heads, so that to live was Christ, and to die

was gain.  

 

 

 

 

The Nature of God (v. 11)

 

“Of the blessed God.” Prove that the gospel comes from God, and it must

be blessed; for God is blessed in himself. His nature is light, which is

always beautiful; and love, which is always beneficent.

 

  • THIS IS A DESCRIPTION OF THE DIVINE NATURE. Not of some

of the attributes of that nature, but of the very heart and center of it. Not

the Omnipotent, the Omnipresent, the Omniscient; but the Blessed! Look

at nature! Study its purity, its harmony, its exquisite adaptations of

provision and plenty to the varied wants of all living things, show that God

is not a Being of mere power or wisdom, but One whose works are very

good, One who wished his creatures to share in his own blessedness.

 

Ø      Look at His revelation. Do we want beatitudes? Duty turned to joy? We

find the way of peace and rest and joy in obedience to his will.

 

Ø      Look at the Christ Himself. Blessed within, amid all outward forms of

temptation and all endurances of trial. “That my joy may remain in you, and

that your joy may be full.”

 

Ø      Look at the cross. Designed to make atonement, to reconcile man to

God, and so to renew his image within, and to make man understand that

separation from God was the root-cause of all his misery. The gospel is not

only a revelation of doctrine; it is an unfolding of the Divine nature, into

which we may be changed “from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the

Lord.”

 

  • THIS IS THE UNIQUE REVELATION OF THE GOSPEL. False

religions give prominence to aspects of power, and merge into dreads. The

gospel alone shows that God is Love. And in revealing the blessed nature

of God in his Son, it has shown us that evil is misery because it is another

nature. Life apart from God is death — death to peace, purity, harmony,

holiness. Men have in their experience testified to this. All is vanity apart

from him. Over all life may be inscribed, “Nihil sine Deo” — “Nothing

without God.” So Christ would lead us to the Father, unite us with the

Father, and transform us into the likeness of the Father — One who is the

blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords.  

 

 

 

 

Trustees of the Truth (v. 11)

 

“Which was committed to my trust.” Here Paul speaks of the preacher of

this glorious gospel as a trustee. It is not a gospel of merely personal

salvation; it is not designed to awaken only moral and spiritual admiration

for its teachings; nor for the culture of immortal happiness, so far as we are

ourselves alone concerned.

 

  • THE GOSPEL IS OURS IN TRUST. Water is sweet, but others are

perishing with thirst. The open sky is beautiful, but others are in prison.

Peace is restful, but others are in pain. What do you think in earthly matters

of fraudulent or neglectful trustees? You rank them amongst the very

worst of men. How ninny sons and daughters of the careful and. the

prudent have been ruined through the long years by negligent trustees!

 

  • THE GOSPEL AFFECTS ALL TRUSTEESHIPS. Its spirit is to

pervade all that we have and are. Men are coming to see that knowledge,

skill, wealth, are not only to be enjoyed for personal gratification, but to be

used for the uplifting and bettering of others. These will, and always must

be, “our own;” but we are to look also “on the things of others.” Do not

fence in the park of your life, but act the steward of its beauties and its

joys. Rights of possession there are, and yet responsibilities of possession

too. Look at Christ.

 

Ø      He knew the secret of blessedness, and came to earth to reveal it.

Ø      He knew the grandeur of human nature, and came to live in it and to

restore it.

Ø      He knew the mastery that evil had over us, and he came to break the

fetters.

Ø      He knew that sin separated us from God, and he came to die, “the just

for the unjust, to bring us unto God.” Our captains at sea are guardians of

life, and bravely do they do their duty. Our soldiers are trustees of a

nation’s honor, and never have failed in the great crises of her life. And our

great citizen-fellowships are trustees of broad rivers, open commons, and

the health and well-being of the poor, and have striven to protect their

interests. As Christians we are each and all trustees of the gospel. It is no

mere ecclesiastical privilege; for, alas! ecclesiastics have too often been

trustees only of their own rights, or the rights of their special Churches.

We are all trustees of the glorious gospel of the blessed God, and woe be

to any of us who shirk our responsibilities or idly neglect our trust!

 

 

 

Human Wreckage (v. 19)

 

“Some have made shipwreck.” Words sound differently to different men.

Language is a “word-picture,” and we must see the facts before we

understand the word. Paul chooses a metaphor applied to character, which

is so terrible when applied to disasters at sea. Many a beautiful vessel has

arrested the gaze of admiring spectators as she spread her sails to the

favoring breeze, and breasted the waters like a thing of life. But, on

another shore, her shivered timbers and her shattered prow have been

washed up as the wreckage of a once gallant ship, her half-defaced name

the only testimony to her fate. So Paul had seen men wrecked on the

breakers of self-indulgence, vice, and folly. Paul associated loss of

character with loss of faith. “Holding faith, and a good conscience; which

some having lint away have made shipwreck.”

 

  • SHIPWRECK SOMETIMES COMES AT THE VERY

COMMENCEMENT OF THE VOYAGE. The ship scarcely leaves the

river before she runs aground. There has been too much self-confidence,

and the Divine Pilot has not had the ship in hand.

 

  • SHIPWRECK SOMETIMES COMES AT THE CLOSE OF THE

VOYAGE, when the ship is almost home; when from the masthead land

was almost in sight. But the watch has not been kept. In the voyage of life

we may have the cross on the flag, and the chart in the cabin, and the

compass on the deck; but we sleep, as do others, and we are wrecked with

the land almost in sight.

 

  • SHIPWRECK AFFECTS THE VERY HIGHEST ELEMENTS OF

OUR BEING. “A good conscience,” the sweetest meal to which ever a

man sat down! The sublimest music, which no Beethoven or Mendelssohn

can approach! The noblest heritage that a Moses could sacrifice Egypt for!

A conscience cleansed by Christ’s blood, enlightened by the Word of God,

and quickened by the Holy Ghost. “A good conscience!” Wealth cannot

purchase it, envy cannot steal it, poverty cannot harm it, and naught but sin

can denude it of its crown. It is the strength of the confessor’s endurance,

the luster of the sufferer’s countenance, the peace of the martyr’s heart. “A

good conscience.” Wreck that, and all is lost; and the sun of the moral

firmament sets in darkness.

 

 

 

 

Introduction (vs. 1-11)

 

1. Sender. “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus according to the commandment

of God our Savior, and Christ Jesus our Hope.” It is usual for Paul to

begin his letters by taking the designation of apostle. He thus claimed to

write, and to order ecclesiastical affairs, under infallible direction. In thus

writing to Timothy, who had no special need of being reminded of his

authority, he would seem to give an official character to the letter. While

he claimed authority, it was, at the same time, as himself belonging to

Christ Jesus. Not satisfied with stating to whom he belonged in the

authority he exercised, he further traces his apostleship, not, as in previous

Epistles, up to its primal source in the will of God, but more immediately

to the commandment of God or actual appointment after his conversion.

He received his appointment from God our Savior — a designation of God

which in the New Testament is peculiar to the pastoral Epistles. It is

introduced here as carrying with it the obligation on the part of Paul and

Timothy to be the bearers of the Divine salvation to their fellow-men. He

also received his appointment from Christ Jesus, whom he thus, the second

time in the short space, introduces. By Christ, as acting for God, all

appointments are made. The seven stars, i.e. Christian ministers, are held

by him in his right hand; and he has the whole ordering of their locality and

time of service. In this second introduction of his name he is designated our

Hope, i.e. he from whom the appointed have their reward, and in whom it

subsists.

 

2. To whom addressed. “Unto Timothy, my true child in faith.” Not

according to the flesh, but in the sphere of faith, was Timothy his child.

Thus he is accustomed to regard his converts; he is both father and mother

to them. We may, therefore, conclude that Timothy, though of godly

parentage and with godly influences working efficaciously in him, owed it

to Paul’s instrumentality that he was converted to Christianity. It was in

Lystra, a city of Lycaonia, on Paul’s second visit, that Timothy joined him

as his assistant. He was his true child, not only in his being his convert, but

in his having the evidence of that in his being after the same stamp

likeminded, as he is called in Philippians 2:20; one who seemed

instinctively to enter into his views and plans, and therefore, we may say,

the ideal of an assistant.

 

3. Salutation. “Grace, mercy, peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus

our Lord.” The insertion of mercy in the salutation is a peculiarity of the

Epistles to Timothy. There is invoked grace on him as unworthy, mercy on

him as exposed to suffering, peace on him as the result of his being

graciously and mercifully dealt with. The Source from which the blessing is

invoked is God the lather. It is to the fatherly feeling in God — that which

is highest in his nature, and with which redemption originated — that our

appeal is to be made for saving blessings for ourselves and fur our friends.

In the thought of Christ as the second Source of blessing, Paul finds

occasion for the third introduction of the name of Christ. He is thought of

as our Lord, i.e. the sovereign Dispenser of the saving blessings in his

Father’s house, of which there are enough and to spare.

 

  • CHARGE DEVOLVED ON TIMOTHY. “As I exhorted thee to tarry at

Ephesus, when I was going into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge

certain men not to teach a different doctrine, neither to give heed to fables

and endless genealogies, the which minister questionings, rather than a

dispensation of God which is in faith; so do I now.” The time of the journey

into Macedonia would seem to be after the first imprisonment at Rome,

beyond the period included in the Acts of the Apostles. This brings the date

of the Epistle well on to the close of the apostle’s life. If this is correct,

then Paul’s confident anticipation of never again being in Ephesus was not

verified. For it is here mentioned as his point of departure for Macedonia.

He would have taken Timothy with him; but there were manifestations in

the Church at Ephesus which necessitated him to leave him behind. There

were certain persons not otherwise characterized, who taught a different

doctrine, i.e. different from the gospel as preached by Paul. It could not be

called a different gospel as in the Galatian Churches; it was rather

something taught by itself which tended to frustrate the ends of the gospel.

It was a giving heed to fables and endless genealogies. We come upon

incipient Gnosticism here, of which we have already seen traces in the

Epistle to the Colossians. This is best known as Eastern mysticism in

contact with Christianity. But there seems reason to believe that there was

a prior contact of Eastern mysticism with Judaism in the form of Essenism.

This has many elements in common with Gnosticism; the peculiarity is that

it is Jewish materials that are thrown into the mystic form. A great feature

in Gnosticism is the interposing of intermediate agencies, to account for

the creation of the world, supposed to be evil, so that God could not come

into immediate contact with it in its creation. What were afterward known

as eons or emanations, in the Epistle to the Colossians are called angels.

Here the interminable genealogies found in rabbinical speculations are

associated with the intermediate agencies. God created a being at a certain

remove from himself, with a name which they were in a position to give.

This being created another at a further remove from God, who also was

named. The object was to come down to the name of one who was bad

enough to create the world; but it was difficult to know where to stop.

Upon these genealogies ingenuity was exercised; but, as there was nothing

of the element of certainty in them, they only ministered questionings or

disputings as to the names. What Timothy was to direct his efforts to was

to set forth the dispensation of God which is in faith, i.e. the Divine order

of things, as seen partly in creation and specially in redemption, in which

faith can lay hold on certainty. “By faith we understand that the worlds

have been framed by the word of God, so that what is seen hath not been

made out of things which do appear.” By filth also we understand that

Infinite Love has in Christ Jesus provided a full atonement for our sins.

 

  • THE END OF THE CHARGE. “But the end of the charge is love.”

The link of connection is the charge to be given by Timothy to the false

teachers. The thought which follows is, these teachers missing the aim of

what is charged on them. We have here, then, not the end aimed at in

others, as the end of the physician is health (which is Ellicott’s idea), but

plainly the end aimed at in what is charged on the teacher. The words are

suitable to one who is receiving a charge. “What is the end of what I

charge on you?” says the giver of the charge; “it is that you have your

being filled with love.” This is the qualification of the healer of the body: he

must be thoroughly interested in the recovery of his patients. So it may be

said to be the main qualification of the healer of the soul: he must be

thoroughly interested in the spiritual health of those who are committed to

his care.

 

Ø      The love of the teacher must be associated with pure elements. “Out of

a pure heart.” He must have, mingled with his affection, and giving

character to it, an antipathy to sin in every form, to unreality, to

superficiality; am a passion for holiness in every form, for reality, for depth.

 

Ø      The love of the teacher must be associated with conscientiousness.

“And a good conscience.” He must have, in the first place, a conscience

that faithfully witnesses to his duty, to the methods he should follow in his

work, to the forms of service his love for the people should take. And he

must have, in the second place — which is also included in the scriptural

idea of a good conscience — the approval of his own mind, the

consciousness that he is using all diligence in carrying out his ideas of duty,

in following his methods, in his endeavors to be serviceable.

 

Ø      The love of the teacher must be fed from THE HIGHEST SOURCE. “And

faith unfeigned.” His faith brings him into contact with an invisible Savior,

by whom he is elevated in his whole spirit as a teacher, at the fountain of

whose love his love is fed, and not only in intensity but in all that it needs

of purity and direction. Only his faith must be unfeigned; for if it is not in

his life, if it is only as a mask, then he can only come into contact with his

own imaginings, by which certainly he cannot be elevated, from which

source his love cannot properly be fed.

 

  • THE END MISSED. “From which things some having swerved have

turned aside unto vain talking; desiring to be teachers of the Law, though

they understand neither what they say, nor whereof they confidently

affirm.” The end was missed by the false teachers. They did not hit the

purity of motive, conscientiousness, unfeignedness of faith, that should

have given character to their affection. Being thus incapable of profitable

discourse, they “turned aside unto vain talking.” They gave themselves out

to be “teachers of the Law,” i.e. the Mosaic Law, especially the Law of the

ten commandments, afterward referred to in detail. But they were doubly

disqualified. They were confused in what they said. They were, therefore,

different from the teachers of the Law who were opposed in the Churches

of Galatia. For these were not chargeable with incoherencies; they knew

well enough what they said in seeking to subvert Christian liberty. We are

rather to think of mystical interpretation of the Law. They were further

disqualified in not understanding their subject, viz. the Law; the confidence

of their affirmations being in proportion to the extent of their ignorance.

 

  • USE OF THE LAW. “But we know that the Law is good, if a man use it

lawfully, as knowing this, that law is not made for a righteous man, but for

the lawless and unruly, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and

profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,

for fornicators, for abusers of themselves with men, for menstealers,

for liars, for false swearers, and if there be any other thing

contrary to the sound doctrine.” The apostle begins by laying down a

proposition about the Law which no one would be disposed to controvert.

It was a boon from Heaven if used according to its intention. In the next

proposition he indicates the intention of the law as coming under the

intention of all law. His position is, that law is not made for a righteous

man. “Let us think of the relation in which a good man stands to the laws

of his country. In one sense, indeed, he is under them; but in another and

higher sense he is above them, and moves along his course with conscious

freedom, as if he scarcely knew of their existence. For what is the object of

such laws but to prevent, under severe penalties, the commission of crime?

Crime, however, is already the object of his abhorrence; he needs no

penalties to keep him from it. He would never harm the person or property

of a neighbor, though there were not a single enactment in the statute-book

on the subject. His own love of good and hatred of evil keep him in the

path of rectitude, not the fines, imprisonments, or tortures which the law

hangs around the path of the criminal. The law was not made for him.” As

truly can it be said that the Law of the ten commandments is not made for

the Christian, who is the righteous man. For he is justified by the faith of

Christ, i.e. he is regarded as having fulfilled the whole Law in Christ. What

more, then, has the Law to do with him? And further, so far as he answers

to the conception of a Christian, he is sanctified by the faith of Christ. He is

in Christ as the Source of his holiness. He has got beyond the discipline of

the Law, inasmuch as he has got it already in his heart. Thus does the

apostle take the ground from under the would-be teachers of the Law,

whose position would be that the Law mystically interpreted was necessary

to putting the crown of perfection on the Christian. The Law is made for

unrighteous persons, of whom many classes are mentioned. These are

grouped with reference to the two tables of the Law. Under the head of

breakers of the first table, i.e. the unrighteous toward God, are given six

classes in pairs. There are the lawless and unruly. With aggravation, they

refuse to be under law, making their own pleasure their law. There are the

ungodly and sinners. They have thrown off all awe of God. There are the

unholy and profane. Instead of being consecrated to God, they trample on

holy things. If the division of commandments had been followed, the

classes would have been deniers of God, idolaters, the profane, Sabbath-

breakers.  Generally, it is disregard of what is Divine that is brought out

under this head. Under the second head, of breakers of the second table,

i.e. the unrighteous toward man, are given eight classes. Six of them in

pairs. Here the division of commandments is followed. There are

murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers. “Smiters” is preferred by

some. These are the breakers of the fifth commandment with the greatest

aggravation. Next by itself stands the class of man-slayers. These are the

breakers of the sixth commandment. There are fornicators and abusers of

themselves with men. These workers of abomination are the breakers of the

seventh commandment. Next by itself stands the class of men-stealers. The

apostle puts the man-stealer as the most flagrant of all breakers of the

eighth commandment. No theft of a man’s goods can be compared with

that most atrocious act which steals the man himself, and robs him of that

free will which is the first gift of his Creator. And of this crime all are guilty

who, whether directly or indirectly, are engaged in, or uphold, from

whatever pretence, the making or keeping of slaves. There are liars and

false swearers. These are the breakers of the ninth commandment. He does

not go on to the breakers of the tenth commandment, hut concludes with

the greatest inclusiveness, “And if there be any other thing contrary to the

sound doctrine” (i.e. not morbid, as the teaching of the mystical

interpreters). The apostle’s position is that the Law is made for all these

unrighteous persons. But for things being in an abnormal state there would

not have been the writing down of so plain duties in the Ten

Commandments, especially in the form, “Thou shalt not.” The Law is made

for sinners, in being intended to hold up before them a proper

representation of righteousness, by which, if they are convicted, they

should also feel shut up to the righteousness which is by filth. Has the Law,

then, no use for the Christian? Only in so far as he is not Christianized. It is

of use in keeping him under grace as the source of his security and

happiness. And it is of use in so far as it holds up a representation of

righteousness that reaches beyond his attainment. The truth is well brought

out in one of the symbolical books of the Lutherans. “Although the Law

was not made for the righteous (as the apostle testifies, <540109>1 Timothy

1:9), yet this is not to be understood as if the righteous might live without

law; for the Divine Law is written upon their hearts. The true and genuine

meaning, therefore, of Paul’s words is, that the Law cannot bring those

who have been reconciled to God through Christ under its curse, and that

its restraint cannot be irksome to the renewed, since they delight in the

Law of God after the inner man. But believers are not completely and

perfectly renewed in this life; and though their sins are covered by the

absolutely perfect obedience of Christ, so as not to be imputed to believers

to their condemnation, and though the mortification of the old Adam and

the renovation in the spirit of their mind has been begun by the Holy Spirit,

yet the old Adam still remains in nature’s powers and affections.”

 

  • ACCORDANCE WITH THE GOSPEL. “According to the gospel of

the glory of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.” The

gospel may be presented either in relation to man, or in relation to God. In

relation to man, the gospel is manifold. It is a gospel of peace; it quiets the

guilty conscience. It is a gospel of purity; it purifies the heart. It is a gospel

of comfort; it imparts to us a strong consolation under all the ills of this

life. It is a gospel of hope; it opens up to us beyond this bounded life the

boundless prospect of the life everlasting. In relation to God, too, the

gospel is manifold. It is the gospel of a righteous God; it is a satisfaction of

Divine justice. It is the gospel of a gracious God; it is an overflow of

Divine mercy and compassion. It is the gospel of a wise God; it is the

application of Divine intelligence to a very difficult problem. It is the

gospel of an almighty God; it is an agency charged with Divine power. It is

here the gospel, not of a righteous God, not of a gracious God, not of a

wise God, not of an almighty God, but of a blessed God. And in this

connection it is put forward as embodying the glory of the blessed God.

“The gospel of the glory of the blessed God.” Such are the words of Paul,

the great gospel preacher, to his pupil Timothy. Consider, in the first place,

how it belongs to the blessed God to communicate his blessedness; and, in

the second place, how the gospel is a communication of the glory of the

blessedness of God. First, then, how it belongs to the blessed God to

communicate his blessedness. The “blessed God” is an uncommon

conception in Scripture. We indeed find — “Art thou the Christ, the Son of

the Blessed?” “The Creator, who is blessed forever.... God blessed for

ever.” But “blessed” there is adorable, worthy to be praised; literally,

“worthy to be well spoken of.” It is the word which conveys an

acknowledgment of God’s claim to undivided worship. Whereas “blessed”

here is equivalent to “happy” as applied to us. God is said to be blessed, as

we are said to be happy. And seeing “blessed’ is used in a totally different

sense in Scripture, the “happy God” would best convey the sense here.

And we see no reason why we should not say that God is happy, when in

the original the word which is applied to God is the same which is applied

to man. There is only one other place in Scripture where God is said to be

thus blessed; and, noticeably, it is in this same Epistle: “The blessed and

only Potentate;” literally, “the happy and only Potentate.” It is as if the

inspired writer consciously supplied a want. it had never been said that

God was happy. So twice he introduces this conception into this late

Epistle. And it is to be regretted that in the Revised Version “happy” has

not been substituted for “blessed” in the two places. The blessedness of

God is not different in kind from ours. If there is any deep calm in our

minds, that is the same with the calm of God. If any true thrill of joy passes

through our hearts, that is the same which passes through the heart of God.

But blessedness is God’s in a way that it is not ours. We are only blessed in

him who gave us being, and for whom we have being. And ours is a

blessedness that can be added to. We are finite, and there will always be, in

the fact of our finitude, a desire to be more blessed. But God is self-blessed.

We think of this by means of the conception of God existing far

away in a past eternity, when there was yet no other intelligence, not even

the faintest reflection of his glory in any created object, and as happy then

as now when he has peopled a universe. Such a thought is not bearable by

us, and God has not asked us to dwell upon it; and we would say that,

while we may be forced thus to think of Godhead as self-poised, or resting

in self, we may at the same time be allowed to dwell upon the far more

pleasing thought of the Three Persons of the Godhead as resting in one

another. Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are happy in one another’s society

and fellowship. It will be felt that that thought, which is denied to the

Unitarian, greatly relieves the thought of a God isolated, in his blessedness,

away before and out of time. Still the fact remains, that as the one God is

infinitely blessed, so also he is blessed in himself. As there is in his

boundless being no void of blessedness to fill up, no jarring note to correct,

so there can be no desire to make himself more blessed. But it perfectly

consists with that that he should desire to make others blessed. This is in

keeping with what we find among men. It is true of the miserable man that

he is selfish. It is there that he is wrong, at the very commencement. In the

very act of enclosing himself, or in the habit of keeping himself enclosed

within his own shell, he shuts himself out from blessedness. He does not go

out to God. At every approach and overture of God, he draws back further

within himself. His sin is that he will keep within himself, and will not go

out in confession and desire and faith toward God. And so God does not

bless him. He does not go out in love to God’s creatures, and so these do

not bless him. And thus, shutting himself out from blessedness, his

tendency is to grudge blessedness to others. He has a secret joy in

misfortune, tie could see a funeral pall drawn over all that is fair in nature,

He would have the smile to vanish from our countenance. He would have

sweet voices hushed. He would have all things brought down to his own

dull level. And, worst outcome of all — yet we would say a necessary

outcome — he grudges even God his blessedness. His feeling is that, being

miserable himself, he could see God less happy than he is. The happy man,

on the other hand, is unselfish. It is by being open that he comes to be

happy. He goes out to God in meek abnegation of self, and so God blesses

him. He goes out to God’s creatures in delight and gratitude and mercy,

and so he receives contributions to his happiness on every side.

Now, just as the miserable man would have a miserable world around him,

so the happy man would have a happy world around him. He would

distribute happiness most lavishly. He would admit all to a share of it. He

would have all to be happy as he is happy. “I would to God,” said Paul to

Agrippa, “that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both

almost and altogether such as I am, except these bonds.” The happy man is

magnanimous; he wishes ill to no one; he invokes blessing even upon his

enemies. Out of his own heart of blessedness there seems to rise the desire

to make others blessed. And so, although God can have no desire to make

himself more blessed, yet, being full of blessedness himself, he desires to

make others blessed. Creation may be taken as an expression of that desire

on the part of God. Creation is just God flowing out in blessedness. It is

God saying, “Let me not keep my blessedness to myself; let others be

blessed with me.” What purpose in creation can we conceive into which

that does not enter? It is true that we are created to give praise to God; but

that is more from our side. Front God’s side, it is perhaps better to say that

he created us, not so much that he might receive our praise, as that we

might receive his blessedness. God, we may suppose, would not have

created for the mere purpose of creating, however pleasurable that is to

him. Neither would he have created merely to have a sphere for the

exercise of his power. What to him were empty worlds in which to store up

his power, through which at will to roll the thunder of his power? N-either

would he have created for the mere pleasure of working according to a

plan, or of having the marvels of his wisdom set forth before him. What to

hint were the clothing matter with plants and trees, touching each minutest

part with his plastic hand, and varying every form? The blessed God

created, not to have pleasure himself, but to give pleasure. It was that, we

think, that moved him to create. And therefore he made living creatures —

creatures capable of receiving pleasure. And he cared for having nothing in

the world which was not to bless them. From the tiniest insect that dances

out its lifetime in a summer sun, through all the orders of living beings up

to man himself, invested with lordship, he has only one design — to make

existence pleasurable to iris creatures. True, there is evil in the world,

reaching down from man to the other creatures which necessarily share

with him his earthly lot. But there is reason for the evil; and the evil, it is to

be observed, is not in the creation. It has been induced on an all-good

creation. In no case does God as a final end make a being to inflict pain on

it. And even as it is, with the evil introduced into our world, who will say

that God intends our destruction? It would have been a very different

world if there had been the shadowing forth of any such intention. It is of

things as they are that Paul says, taking a broad retrospective view of

God’s dealings in providence, “He left not himself without witness, in that

he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our

hearts with food and gladness.” He would not continue to make provision

for our support, did he mean our destruction. And not only does he make

provision for our support, but he gives us all things richly to enjoy. He

gives us food, and the other necessaries of life in abundance. And not only

so, but he gives us many things for the mere pleasure of them. He arranges

objects in nature with a regard to beauty. He richly colors them; he floods

them with a kindly light, He gives us flowers; he gives us the song of birds,

He gives us rainbows and sunsets, and clouds of many a form. And he

curtains the earth, that he may show us the glory of the starry heavens.

And all these things he gives us chiefly as luxuries. We say, then, that even

in nature God testifies to his desire, to his intention to make us happy.

Even in nature, which has been spoken of as “red in tooth and claw with

fawn,” God gives us the promise of the coming gospel. Consider, in the

second place, how the gospel is a communication of the glory of the

blessedness of God. We remark:

 

(1) that this is true of the gospel, if we consider who are made blessed by

it. It is a gospel of blessedness to us. It does not need to be proved that we

are not in the state for which God intended us. We do not bear the impress

of the blessed God. The lark mounts up on wings of joy to the sky. Song

seems to be of its very nature. And as soon as it has got strength of wing, it

mounts up and pours out its song. We could scarcely think of a lark in a

summer day, hiding itself away from the light and refusing to sing. But it is

not so natural for us to be happy. We are accustomed to misery. We do not

expect men to be highly joyous. We do not expect men to be musical to the

height of their nature. We expect a certain depression, a certain note of

sadness in all their joy. What better confession could there be that we are

miserable? We are sadly out of tune. Who can bring joy out of us? Now,

here comes in the gospel to make us happy. God could have made others

happy. If there had not been enough, he could have created more, and

poured out his happiness upon them. But no; here are a few miserable

beings. Out of the hundred sheep, here is one that has strayed- away in the

wilds and haunts of beasts of prey. Out of the countless myriads that are in

God’s universe, here are a few that are miserable. And the blessed God

says, “I would make them happy; I would bring back joy to their hearts; I

would pour out my blessedness on them.” As if one more philanthropic

than the rest should say, “I will not go to the homes of peace and health

and plenty, and try to make these already blessed doubly blessed; but I will

go to the prisons, and to the hospitals, and to the alleys, and, wherever I

see suffering, I will attempt to relieve it.” Glorious gospel, then, that has

respect to us who are miserable! But far more glorious, if it is considered

how we are miserable. We are miserable by our own act. In our folly and

sin, we have thrown away blessedness. We have sold it for a mess of

pottage. Strange it is, yet it is truly none other than this, that we have

wilted our own misery. And, having guiltily willed our own misery, God,

we can suppose, might have willed it too. He might have said, “I have

made all my creatures for happiness; but these — these whom I have

honored above others — they will not have it; they have spurned it away

from them, and so by their own act, not by my wish, they are miserable.”

But glorious gospel, in spite of our sin, the blessed God willed our

happiness. And in his compassions he said, “I will raise them out of their

misery.” And so his language now is, “I have no pleasure in your misery.”

Thrice to this effect i.e. speaks in Ezekiel: “Have I any pleasure at all that

the wicked should die? saith the Lord God;” “For I have no pleasure in the

death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God; Say unto them that pine away

in their sins, As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death

of the wicked.” Here, then, is our glorious gospel. The blessed God, the

Fountain of blessedness, wishes you to be blessed. Whoever you are that

are unhappy, that are pining away in your sins, that are afraid of eternal

misery, believe it, that is not according to God’s heart. To the most

wretched, woe-begone, sin-distracted soul on the face of the earth, we are

warranted in the Name of the happy God to say — Be happy. We remark

 

(2) the gospel is glorious, if we consider the means by which we are made

blessed. If creation was pleasing to God, it was also easy. He had simply to

will the existence of happy creatures. But he bad to do more than will us

sinners to be happy. We look upon a great city; we think by what means it

has been built up; we think of the incalculable labor that has been spent

upon it. We think how generations of men have toiled hard at it, with what

anxiety they have contrived, with what patience and endurance they have

laid stone upon stone, and added house to house arid street to street. We

think how many able men have spent their lives, sacrificed their available

strength, in the building up of this city, and then we think with what

majestic ease, and how in a moment of time, God might have placed it

there complete. But to make us sinners happy, was work more difficult for

God than for us the building up of a city — work requiring greater sacrifice

of life. But glorious gospel, glorious beyond all parallel, glorious beyond all

conception, the blessed Son in the bosom of the blessed Father said, “I will

undertake it; I will suffer and die to make men happy.” And so he takes

measures to suffer and die. He descends into our humanity. And do you

say it is man who is there, suffering and agonizing and dying? Say, rather,

it is God in our humanity. Why, the means used to make us happy are

altogether stupendous in their proportions. And dreadfully hard-hearted

and void of all feeling must we be, if we can see these means used before

our eyes, and yet we be content to remain in our misery, as though God

had done nothing but had allowed us to suffer the consequences of our

sins. Oh, let us learn the lesson that Calvary has to teach us about God’s

desire to make us happy. Let us dismiss every dark conception of God

from our minds which an evil heart may throw up. Let us feel that on

God’s part there is an infinite willingness, nay, an infinite anxiety and

longing to bless us. And let us heartily respond to God’s desire to bless us,

in the way prescribed by him. Let us take, as the object of our faith, what

has come out of that heart of blessedness, and is now evidently set before

us. Let us take, as the object of our faith, the lull and free and meritorious

righteousness of the crucified Son of God, to make us just and holy, that so

we may be happy. We remark:

 

(3) that the gospel is glorious, if we consider the nature of type blessedness

that is communicated by it. The blessedness for which man was intended,

and to which he would have attained through obedience, was very great.

Passing safely through the gate of trial and peril, he would have attained —

shall we say? — to a God-like blessedness. He would have had the

blessedness of a free, intelligent being. He would have been made blessed

with God, and in the enjoyment of God, to all eternity. Now, the gospel is

glorious in proclaiming this, that man is not to be less blessed than he

would have been had he never fallen from blessedness. He is not to be

mulcted in blessedness. He is not to have a stigma upon him to mark the

dishonor he formerly did to God. He is not to be placed on a lower order

of blessed beings. Nay, in the fact that Christ has taken our human nature

into glorious union with his Divine nature, have we not thereby been made

capable of a higher blessedness? And not only so, but we have been

redeemed. And how peculiarly blessed it is to he redeemed! It is more than

if we had stood. We can now not only say, “Our God,” but “Our

Redeemer.” How often does God take the name in Isaiah! “Thus saith the

Lord, thy Redeemer.” It is a new tie, “Thus saith the Lord that created

thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not; for I have

redeemed thee.’ Our peace is peculiarly blessed; it is the feeling of

reconciliation, the sweet sense of sin forgiven. Our joy is peculiarly blessed;

it is the joy of salvation. It is the sense of indebtedness to Divine grace. We

were on the broad road to destruction. We were down in the horrible pit,

and in the miry clay; but we have been saved, we have been redeemed. And

does not the woe we have escaped sweeten our present joy? Can we ever

forget it? Our heaven, we think, will begin with a sight of the woe of which

we were worthy. And then we have been redeemed by God. “Your

Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.” And does it not heighten our

blessedness to remember that we owe it to the grace of the most holy God?

And then he has redeemed us by no less glorious a Being than his own

well-beloved Son, and at the expense of that Son’s life. Is that not fitted to

raise the soul to its most joyful exercise? The blessedness of every

intelligent being has been heightened in connection with this salvation. For

views have been presented by it of the character of God which could not

otherwise have been presented. Still, there is always this additional in our

case. We are the parties concerned; we are the parties for whom all this has

been done; we are the parties for whom this great salvation has been

provided. It is a glorious gospel, then, we say. It makes us doubly blessed.

It seems to contain the elements of an ecstatic bliss. Ever as we realize the

greatness of the redemption, we shall become more gloriously blessed. We

conclude with two practical remarks. First, let us keep near to the Source

of blessedness by faith and prayer and meditation. Let us not go out to any

creaturely good, far less to evil, as though it were the fountain of pleasure;

but let us go out to the blessed God himself, especially in the glorious

gospel, that we may have our hearts filled with a hallowed and satisfying

joy. “Whosoever drinketh of this water” — of mere creaturely pleasure —

“shall thirst again: but whosoever shall drink of the water that I shall give

him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall he in him a

well of water springing up to everlasting life.” In the second place, being

blessed ourselves, let us seek to make blessed. That is to be like the happy

God. Let us make sacrifices for the happiness of others. Let us count those

moments the happiest of our existence in which we lose sight of self, in

prayerful or active devotion to the interests of those whom Providence

puts in our way, or more specially commits to our care. And if sin was not

an inseparable obstacle in the way of God blessing us, let it not be an

inseparable obstacle in the way of our seeking to bless others. “But I say

unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them

that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you, and persecute

you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he

maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the

just and on the unjust.”

 

 

 

Personal Digression (vs. 12-17)

 

  • THANKFULNESS FOR BEING APPOINTED BY CHRIST TO HIS

SERVICE. “I thank Him that enabled me, even Christ Jesus our Lord, for

that He counted me faithful, appointing me to his service.” At the close of

the eleventh verse Paul brings in his relation to the gospel of the glory of

the happy God. It was a trust committed to him, i.e. it was made his great

business to convey the message of happiness to his fellow-men. And as He

was made responsible, so also He was empowered. He was not sent a

warfare on his own charges. He was supplied with all that was necessary

for the discharge of the duties connected with the trust. And so he cannot

refrain from turning aside for a little, to pour forth his soul in gratitude to

him who empowered him as he also gave him the trust, even Christ Jesus

our Lord, the great Head of the Church, from whom proceed all ministerial

appointments and all ministerial qualifications. What called forth his

gratitude was, that Christ reposed confidence in him in appointing him to

his service. He saw that he was one who could be used and trusted for the

furtherance of the gospel; and so he gave him the appointment and the

qualifications. To be assured of this as Paul was is great joy. How thankful

ministers should be, if they have some evidence, in their own earnestness

and in the fruits of their ministry, that they have not mistaken their calling!

 

  • THE CONSIDERATION OF HIS PREVIOUS LIFE. “Though I was

before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: howbeit I obtained

mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.” The gratitude of the apostle

was enhanced by the consideration of his persecuting career. He was

before a blasphemer, his evil speaking being directed against the Name of

Jesus of Nazareth. He was also a persecutor even in this respect, that he

compelled others to blaspheme. And he rose to the full conception of a

persecutor in the tyrannical way in which he went about the work of’

persecution. At this stage of his life he was far removed from being the

minister of Christ. But though he showed no mercy, he obtained mercy.

There was this to be said for him, that what he did against Christ he did

ignorantly. He acted under an erroneous impression. It was not that he

knew Christ to be the Son of God, and hated him for his Divine credentials,

especially because he manifested the Divine goodness. But he was carried

away by zeal for the Jewish religion, which, he thought, was greatly

endangered by the triumphs of Christianity. He was thus not in the most

direct, most deliberate way, against Christ. And, so far as he was not

throwing away the most sacred convictions, he was within the pale of

mercy. He was within the scope of the Savior’s intercession from the

throne, if we are to regard it as conformed to his intercession from the

cross, which was in these words: “Father, forgive them; for they know not

what they do” — words which are echoed by Peter in his address to the

Jews, “And now, brethren, I wet that through ignorance ye did it, as did

also your rulers.” It was in a state of unbelief that he was ignorant. This

implied that he had not followed his lights as others had followed theirs,

not greater than his. He had been directed away from Christianity by

confidence in his own righteousness. And be had given way to the

disposition, so natural to the depraved heart, to make a tyrannical use of

power. He was, therefore, most culpable, standing in need of repentance

and forgiveness, as Peter went on to impress on the Jews in the address

just referred to: “Repent ye, therefore, and be converted, that your sins

may be blotted out.”

 

  • GRACE ABOUNDING EXCEEDINGLY. “And the grace of our Lord

abounded exceedingly with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.” In

Romans 5. Paul says of sin that it abounded; here the same word is used of

grace, with an addition to it which gives it the force of a superlative. He

labors to express the stretch of grace which our Lord had to make toward

him when he, a guilty persecutor, was saved. His salvation was

accompanied by the two graces, faith and love. From being a disbeliever in

Christianity he became a humble believer in it, even preaching the faith of

which formerly he made havoc. From having the spirit of the persecutor he

came to have the spirit of the Christian, forgiving those who persecuted

him, and seeking to subdue men, not by force, but by the power of

Christian truth and example. It is said of this love that it is in Christ Jesus

subsisting in him, and determined in its outgoings by him. We can

understand that his own experience of salvation had to do with his

eminence as a minister of Christ. It filled him with deep personal gratitude

to his Savior. It urged him to labor, so as to take revenge on himself for the

evil he had done. It fitted him for sympathizing with others in such

condition as that in which he had been. And it enabled him the better to

understand the sweet gentle spirit of the religion of Christ, that he could

contrast it with his own unlovely persecuting zeal.

 

  • THE GOSPEL THROUGH WHICH GRACE OPERATED.

 

Ø      Reliableness of the gospel. “Faithful is the saying, and worthy of all

acceptation.” When our Epistle was written, this was one of the sayings

that passed as proverbs in Christian circles. This profatory formula is

peculiar to the pastoral Epistles. The first clause, which occurs five times,

points to the certitude of the gospel. The would-be teachers of the Law —

apparently Essenes — dealt in fables for which there was no ground of

certainty, and in genealogies or namings of intermediate agencies, which

only ministered disputings as to the names. The apostle regards the gospel

as the embodiment of certainty. Venturing our immortal souls upon the

truth of this saying, it will not prove a myth, but a glorious reality. The

second clause, which occurs twice, points to the saying as worthy of a

universal welcome. Let all men lay hold upon it as an essentially good

saying — good for the whole nature; it is only the reception it deserves.

 

Ø      Particular form in which the gospel is presented. “That Christ Jesus

came into the world to save sinners.” This is the gospel in all simplicity, to

which the aged apostle cleaves. The Anointed of God for salvation said of

himself, “I came out from the Father, and am come into the world.” The

world is to be understood in the physical sense; it is the earth, however, not

in the purity of the conception, but the earth as it has become the congenial

abode for sinners. It could not be said of Christ when he was here, that this

was his original or congenial abode. He came into the world, he came from

a pure world, from the Father, and that meant a world of highest purity.

And what drew him to this world, with all its uncongeniality? Jesus, the

Name which he has made his own, the Name which is above every name,

points to his nature as love. It is of the nature of love to find a congenial

outlet in saving. But whom on this earth did Christ come to save? Men

who were wronged, upon whom superhuman powers were causelessly

inflicting tortures? Did he come to assert their innocence against their

strong oppressors? No; men who were in the wrong themselves, who were

wrongers of God, and were the causes of their own misery. It was sinners

that drew the Savior down to earth. He longed to save them from their

misery, from themselves as the guilty causes of their misery, from their

sinful habits and associations, and to make them pure as the heaven from

which he came. In saving sinners, he had to suffer from sinners, in his

purity coming into contact with their impurity, and exposing him to their

hate. He had especially to suffer in the room of sinners, in all the loneliness

of a pure, perfect life, treading the wine-press of the Divine wrath against

sin.

 

Ø      Individualization of the gospel. “Of whom I am chief.” He was not at

the head of sinners in this sense, that at one time he had reached a point

beyond which sinning could not go in heinousness. He had not committed

the sin against the Holy Ghost. He had not sinned like Judas, in close

neighborhood to Christ and in clear impression of his Divinity. He had

never been, in sinning, beyond the pale of mercy. Neither was he in the

position to compare himself with all who had obtained mercy, and to say

infallibly that he was the greatest of them all. But he was at the head of

sinners in his sense of his own utter unworthiness apart from Christ. That

unworthiness he viewed chiefly, we may say, in the lurid light of his

persecuting career. It was so complete a self-revelation, that he could not

keep it from coming up before his imagination when he thought of sell. But

this self-revelation was not all before his conversion. He knew how self

was ever seeking to mingle with all he did. In the whole discovery, then, of

what he was apart from Christ, as one for whom the gospel was intended,

he could say in all truthfulness of feeling, and with no decrease of

truthfulness as he advanced in the Christian life, but rather an increase, that

he was at the head of the class of sinners.

 

  • ENCOURAGEMENT TO SINNERS. “Howbeit for this cause I

obtained mercy, that in me as chief might Jesus Christ show forth all his

long-suffering, for an ensample of them which should hereafter believe on

him unto eternal life.” There was a fitness in Paul as chief in obtaining

mercy also coming at an early period in the history of the Christian Church,

for the sake of future generations. He was a typical illustration in what

happened in his case of the fullness of the long-suffering of Christ. For the

first thirty years of his life he was going in the wrong direction altogether.

As he drew near the end of that period he seemed far enough away from

believing, in the active violent part he took against Christ. But Christ did

not, as he could have done, make his hostility to recoil upon his own head.

But he treated him magnanimously, as one who is conscious of pure

intention and forgiving love can do his foe. He treated him without haste,

giving him space for experience, for thinking about the Divine dealing, and

for seeing his error. And, in the end, Paul was subdued into believing, to

the praise of the long-suffering of Christ. Whoever thinks he is far enough

away from believing, in resistance to the Divine leadings, in hostility

offered to Christ, Paul would have him to be encouraged by his example to

believe on Christ, the certain end, of this believing being eternal life, or

possession, up to our capacity, of the blessedness of the Divine life.

 

  • DOXOLOGY. “Now unto the King eternal, incorruptible, invisible,

the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.” The apostle

concludes his personal digression with a doxology which is unique in its

character, and, we may be sure, appropriate. God is styled, as he is

nowhere else in the Scriptures, literally “King of the ages,” i.e. Sovereign

Controller of the vast periods under which centuries and millenniums are

included. Outside of them himself in his absolute eternity, he sways all that

takes place in them. He can be long-suffering as he is in Christ; he does not

need to be in haste, having the ages in which to work out his purposes. He

is also styled “incorruptible,” as he is also in Romans 1:23; and

“invisible,” as he is in Colossians 1:15 and Hebrews 2:27. There is

great difficulty in all religions in rising above gross notions of God. As a

pure Spirit there is denied of him the corruptibility and visibility which

pertain to our corporeal nature. There is not, therefore, permitted a

corporeal representation, or any image of him, as tending to degrade our

conception of him. He is further styled “the only God,” as in ch. 6:15 He is

styled “the only Potentate.” This seems to be chiefly directed against the

Essene religion, which invested their intermediate agents with Divine

powers of creation. To God, as thus exalted, is ascribed, with a fullness

of expression, honor and glory (as in Revelation 5:13) to the ages of ages

over which the Divine existence extends.