Practical Advice for God’s Work in the Ministry


Title:   The Nelson Study Bible



1 Timothy 1


Paul begins his first letter to Timothy by asserting his authority as an apostle of Jesus Christ. The Greek word for apostle means “sent one.” Thus Paul was declaring that he was an ambassador sent by Christ. The commandment of God refers to God’s sovereign commissioning of Paul’s ministry (see Acts 9). The authority of Paul’s ministry came from two sources: from God our Savior and from the Lord Jesus Christ. The title Savior identifies God as the source of our salvation, both our justification and sanctification. Paul speaks of Christ as our hope because He is the reason we can expectantly look forward to eternal life in


Timothy was a young believer from Lystra who traveled with Paul during his second and third missionary journeys (Acts 16:2, 3). True son refers to a legitimate child who possessed all the rights and privileges of membership in a family. Paul was indicating total acceptance of Timothy as a believer.


It is not certain when Paul traveled to Macedonia. His request for Timothy to remain in Ephesus, ministering to believers there, demonstrates Paul’s confidence in the young man.


Practical Advice for the Ministry


Timothy was a young minister, appointed to lead the apparently contentious church at Ephesus. He had already learned the essentials of the gospel; now he had to learn how to lead. In this letter, Paul was passing on all the wisdom he had accumulated in his years of ministry. His insights are extremely practical, and valuable even today.


Exhortations: what to


Warnings: what to


Command others to teach no other doctrine than the true doctrine of Christ (1:3).


Do not listen to fables or endless genealogies, which cause disputes (1:4).


Teach the good News that
Christ saves sinners (1:15-18).


Reject fables (4:7).


Pray and intercede for
everyone (2:1).


Do not neglect your gift



Choose church leaders who are worthy of the office (3:1-15).


Do not rebuke older men, but
exhort them (5:1).



Instruct others in sound
doctrine (4:6).


Do not receive an accusation against an elder unless there are two witnesses (5:19).



Train oneself in godliness
(4:7, 8).


Do not govern the church with prejudice; be impartial (5:21).



Be an example to the
believers in word, in
conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, and in purity (4:12).


Do not hastily lay hands on anyone (5:22).



Honor widows (5:3)


Withdraw from those who reject Paul’s teaching and are constantly arguing over
words (6:4, 5).



Stay pure (5:22).


Flee from those who are
greedy and want to
become wealthy from the ministry (6:5-11).



Pursue righteousness, faith, love, patience, and
gentleness (6:11).


Avoid profane and idle talk, which is falsely called knowledge (6:20).





The word fables is used in Titus 1:14 in connection with Jewish fables.

Genealogies is used in Titus 3:9 within the context of the Law. The errors that Paul left Timothy to correct in Ephesus appear to have been primarily Jewish in nature, involving unrestrained speculation about genealogies and allegorical interpretations of the Law like those found in rabbinical literature. In Ephesus this could have been combined with Gnostic speculation concerning a number of spiritual beings. The Greek word for edification means stewardship” and expresses the concept of orderly management of a household. Paul understands the church as the “house of God” (see 3:14, 15). Disputes do not promote “house order” in the church. The focus of a believer’s life should be the clear and sound doctrine found in the Word of God, not human speculation.


The purpose of Paul’s command to Timothy is the promotion of God’s love in the church (see John 13:34, 35).


Idle talk means “empty chatter.” Gossip, speculation, and criticism should not come from the lips of believers.


teachers of the law: This phrase is derived from Judaism and is used in Luke 5:17; Acts 5:34 in connection with the Pharisees. These were the individuals whom Timothy was to instruct and correct. Their errors came from their relation to the law. These men were loveless, legalistic teachers with impure hearts and motives. Instruction without love promotes legalism.


The proper function of the law is to make sinners aware of their sinfulness (see Rom. 3:20).


Paul’s list of those who have violated the law appears to parallel the order of the Ten Commandments (see Ex. 20:3–17). The first three pairs of violations recall the first four commands, which address a person’s relationship with God: the lawless and insubordinate, the ungodly and … sinners, and the unholy and profane. Following these are eight violations that parallel five of the last six commands of the Ten Commandments. Covetousness is not mentioned.


Fornicators are persons involved in sexual immorality in general. Sodomites are specifically male homosexuals (see 1 Cor. 6:9). But heterosexual and homosexual immorality are violations of the seventh commandment. kidnappers … liars … perjurers: These are violations of commandments eight and nine.
Sound doctrine may also be translated “healthy teaching.” Sound is derived from the Greek for “in good health.” Doctrine is a key theme in 1 Timothy (see also 4:1, 6, 13, 16; 5:17; 6:1).


according to the glorious gospel: This phrase should be interpreted in its immediate context, a discussion about the purpose of the law. The proper use of the law is to demonstrate human sinfulness and need our for the Good News that Christ has saved us from bondage to the law and our own sins.


Before Paul trusted in Christ as Savior, he was a blasphemer, speaking against God; a persecutor, pursuing Christians like a hunter pursuing his prey (see Acts 8:3; 9:1–5); and an insolent man, a violent person acting out of personal pride. but I obtained mercy: If the apostle Paul could find mercy after the terrible things he did against Christ, then God surely offers salvation with “open arms” to all people (see 2:4).


Grace is God’s undeserved, unearned, freely given favor. The grace given to Paul was exceedingly abundant, overflowing beyond all expectations.


Paul summarized the heart of the gospel (v.11): Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. World refers to all humanity. Save means to deliver or rescue. Christ came to die for the sins of humanity. of whom I am chief: Paul saw the degradation of sin and understood the sinfulness of human beings. Because of this, he placed himself first among sinners.


believe on Him: Over 185 times in the New Testament the sole condition given for salvation is belief, having faith or trust in Jesus Christ. The gospel is that Christ died for our sins, was buried, and rose on the third day. All those who place their trust in Jesus for salvation will be saved from the coming judgment. To add any other condition to faith for salvation is to make justification a matter of works (see Rom. 11:6; Gal. 2:16).


Apparently earlier in his ministry prophecies had been made about Timothy and his future role in the church. Paul urges Timothy to wage the good warfare.
According to this powerful imagery, Christian ministry is spiritual warfare directed against God’s enemies.


Hymenaeus and Alexander: Paul offered examples of two men (see also 2 Tim. 2:17, 18; 4:14) who were failing to fight the good fight (v. 18, 19). The phrase delivered to Satan is similar to 1 Cor. 5:5. The authority to “deliver over” was apostolic in nature. Paul did not deliver the two men because they were unbelievers, but so that they would learn not to blaspheme. In the New
Testament the word translated learn is used only of God’s discipline of believers (see 1 Cor. 11:32; Heb. 12:6, 7, 10). Paul was indicating that these men should be excluded from the church so that they might abandon their evil ways (1 Cor. 5:1–5).






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