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Book chapters «The First Epistle of Paul to Timothy»
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  • First Timothy unveils to us God's economy concerning the church, 2 Timothy inoculates us against the decline of the church, and Titus is concerned with maintaining the order of the church. These are three aspects of one purpose, that is, to preserve the church as the proper expression of the Triune God, as symbolized by the golden lampstands in the ultimate portion of the divine revelation (Rev. 1:12, 20). For the accomplishing of this purpose, the following basic and crucial matters are stressed repeatedly in these three books:
    1) The faith, the contents of the complete gospel according to God's New Testament economy. It is objective and is mentioned in 1 Tim. 1:4, 19; 2:7; 3:9, 13; 4:1, 6; 5:8; 6:10, 12, 21; 2 Tim. 3:8; 4:7 and Titus 1:1, 4, 13.
    2) The truth, the reality of the contents of the faith, mentioned in 1 Tim. 2:4, 7; 3:15; 4:3; 6:5; 2 Tim. 2:15, 18, 25; 3:7, 8; 4:4 and Titus 1:1, 14.
    3) Healthy teaching, in 1 Tim. 1:10, 2 Tim. 4:3, and Titus 1:9; 2:1 healthy words, in 1 Tim. 6:3 and 2 Tim. 1:13 healthy speech, in Titus 2:8 and healthy in the faith, in Titus 1:13; 2:2. All these are related to the condition of life.
    4) Life, the eternal life of God, in 1 Tim. 1:16; 6:12, 19; 2 Tim. 1:1, 10 and Titus 1:2; 3:7.
    5) Godliness, a living that is the expression of God, mentioned in 1 Tim. 2:2, 10 ( godly); 1 Tim. 3:16; 4:7, 8; 5:4 (respect); 1 Tim. 6:3, 5, 6, 11; 2 Tim. 3:5, 12 ( godly); and Titus 1:1; 2:12 ( godly). The opposite, ungodliness, is mentioned in 1 Tim. 1:9 (ungodly), 2 Tim. 2:16, and Titus 2:12.
    6) Faith, our act of believing in the gospel, in God, and in His word and deeds. It is subjective and is mentioned in 1 Tim. 1:2, 5, 14, 19; 2:15; 4:12; 6:11; 2 Tim. 1:5, 13; 2:22; 3:10, 15 and Titus 2:2; 3:15.
    7) The conscience, the leading part of our spirit, which justifies or condemns our relationships with God and with man. It is mentioned in 1 Tim. 1:5, 19; 3:9; 4:2; 2 Tim. 1:3 and Titus 1:15.

    The faith equals the contents of the economy, the household administration, the dispensation, of God. The truth is the contents, the reality, of the faith according to God's economy. Healthy teaching, healthy words, and healthy speech are the ministry of the truth, ministering to people the reality of the divine truths. Eternal life is the means and power to carry out the divine realities of the faith. Godliness is a living that expresses the divine reality, an expression of God in all His riches. Faith (subjective) is the response to the truth of the faith (objective); such faith receives and participates in the divine realities. The conscience is a test and a check to preserve us in the faith.

  • It was according to the command of God and of Christ that Paul became an apostle. In his earlier Epistles he told us that he was an apostle through the will of God (1 Cor. 1:1; 2 Cor. 1:1; Eph. 1:1; Col. 1:1). The command of God is a definite expression, a further direction, of the will of God.

  • God our Savior in 1 Tim. 1:1; 4:10 and Titus 2:13, and our Savior God in 1 Tim. 2:3 and Titus 1:3; 2:10; 3:4, are particular titles ascribed to God in the three books of 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus, which take God's salvation as a strong base for the teachings concerning God's New Testament economy (1 Tim. 1:15-16; 2:4-6; 2 Tim. 1:9-10; 2:10; 3:15; Titus 2:14; 3:5-7). It was according to the command of such a saving God, a Savior God, not according to the command of the law-giving God, a demanding God, that Paul became an apostle.

  • Christ Jesus is not only God's Anointed (Christ) to be our Savior (Jesus) that we might be saved to gain the eternal life of God, but also our hope to bring us into the full blessing and enjoyment of this eternal life. The hope of eternal life revealed in Titus 1:2, which was the base and condition of Paul's apostleship, and the blessed hope revealed in Titus 2:13, which we are awaiting as the appearing of the glory of the great God and our Savior, are intimately related to the person of God's Messiah, our Savior. Hence, He Himself is our hope, the hope of glory (Col. 1:27). It was according to the command not only of our Savior God but also of the One who saved us with eternal life and will bring us into the glory of this life that Paul became an apostle. His command is of the eternal life and is to be fulfilled by the eternal life, in contrast to the command of the law-giving God, which was of letters and was to be fulfilled by human effort, without the supply of eternal life.

  • The Greek word is composed of honor and God. Thus, the name means to honor God.

  • Timothy became a genuine child of Paul not by natural birth but in faith (i.e., in the sphere and element of faith), not physically but spiritually.

  • This must have been after the apostle was liberated from his first imprisonment in Rome (see note 2 Tim. 4:62b). He probably wrote this Epistle from Macedonia (today's northern Greece and southern Bulgaria).

  • Certain dissenting ones, such as those mentioned in v. 6 and Gal. 1:7; 2:12.

  • To teach different things was to teach myths, unending genealogies (v. 4), and the law (vv. 7-8). All such teaching was vain talking (v. 6), differing from the apostles' teaching, which was centered on Christ and the church, that is, on the economy of God.

    Paul's Epistles are the completion of the divine revelation concerning God's eternal purpose and economy (Col. 1:25). His ministry completes the revelation concerning the all-inclusive Christ and His universal Body, the church as His fullness to express Him. Concerning the church as the Body of Christ there are two sides: life and practice. From Romans through 2 Thessalonians a full revelation is given concerning the life of the church, including the nature, responsibility, and function of the church. Now, from 1 Timothy through Philemon a detailed revelation concerning the practice of the church is presented. This pertains to the administration and shepherding of a local church. For this, the first thing needed is to terminate the different teachings of the dissenters, which distract the saints from the central line and ultimate goal of God's New Testament economy (vv. 4-6). The different teachings in vv. 3-4, 6-7; 6:3-5, 20-21 and the heresies in 1 Tim. 4:1-3 are the seed, the source, of the church's decline, degradation, and deterioration dealt with in 2 Timothy.

  • The same word is used in 1 Tim. 4:7 and 2 Tim. 4:4. It refers to words, speeches, and conversations concerning such things as rumors, reports, true or false stories, and fictions. It might include Jewish stories of miracles, rabbinical fabrications, etc. These were profane and old-womanish myths (4:7) and Jewish myths (Titus 1:14).

  • Probably referring to Old Testament genealogies adorned with fables (Titus 3:9).

  • The Greek word means household law, implying distribution (the base of this word is of the same origin as that for pasture in John 10:9, implying a distribution of the pasture to the flock). It denotes a household management, a household administration, a household government, and, derivatively, a dispensation, a plan, or an economy for administration (distribution); hence, it is also a household economy. God's economy in faith is His household economy, His household administration (cf. note Eph. 1:101a; Eph. 3:9), which is to dispense Himself in Christ into His chosen people that He may have a house to express Himself, which house is the church (1 Tim. 3:15), the Body of Christ. The apostle's ministry was centered on this economy of God (Col. 1:25; 1 Cor. 9:17), whereas the different teachings of the dissenting ones were used by God's enemy to distract His people from this economy. In the administration and shepherding of a local church, this divine economy must be made fully clear to the saints.

    In the first chapter of this book the apostle Paul presented God's economy in opposition to different teachings. God's economy is in faith (v. 4), whereas the different teachings are based on the principle of the law and centered on the law (vv. 7-10). Hence, faith is versus the law, as dealt with in Gal. 3 (vv. 2, 5, 23-25). Any teaching that is based on the principle of the law and centered on the law is unhealthy (v. 10). Only God's economy, which is in faith, in opposition to the teachings that are based on the principle of the law and centered on the law, is healthy and can make it possible for people to believe on Christ unto eternal life (v. 16) and to thus participate in God's eternal plan, God's economy, which is in faith. This is the gospel of glory with which the blessed God entrusted the apostle Paul (v. 11). If anyone thrusts away such faith and a good conscience, regarding the faith he becomes shipwrecked on a deep sea (v. 19).

  • The economy of God is a matter in faith, i.e., a matter that is initiated and developed in the sphere and element of the faith. God's economy, which is to dispense Himself into His chosen people, is not in the natural realm nor in the work of law but in the spiritual sphere of the new creation through regeneration by faith in Christ (Gal. 3:23-26). By faith we are born of God to be His sons, partaking of His life and nature to express Him. By faith we are put into Christ to become the members of His Body, sharing all that He is for His expression. This is God's plan (dispensation), which is carried out in faith, according to His New Testament economy.

  • Referring to the charge in v. 3.

  • The different teachings of the dissenting ones, mentioned in v. 3, caused envy and discord among the believers, which are contrary to love, the end of the apostle's charge. To carry out the apostle's charge, love, which is out of a pure heart, a good conscience, and unfeigned faith, is needed.

  • A pure heart is a single heart without mixture, a heart that seeks only the Lord and takes the Lord as the unique goal. A good conscience is a conscience without offense (Acts 24:16). Unfeigned faith, related to the faith mentioned in v. 4, is faith without pretense or hypocrisy, faith that purifies the heart (Acts 15:9) and operates through love (Gal. 5:6). In the trend of the church's decline and in dealing with the different teachings, all these attributes are required for us to have a pure, true, and genuine love.

  • I.e., missed the mark, swerved, deviated.

  • Composed of myths and genealogies (v. 4) and the law (vv. 7-8).

  • Teachers of the law, who teach people what to do and what not to do, are different from ministers of Christ (1 Tim. 4:6), who minister His riches to others.

  • Or, strongly affirm, emphatically affirm. The same word is used in Titus 3:8. See note Titus 3:83b.

  • Or, kill.

  • Healthy implies the matter of life. The sound teaching of the apostles, which is according to the gospel of the glory of God, ministers the healthy teaching as the supply of life to people, either nourishing them or healing them; in contrast, the different teachings of the dissenting ones (v. 3) sow the seeds of death and poison into others. Any teaching that distracts people from the center and goal of God's New Testament economy is not healthy.

  • The gospel of the glory of the blessed God is an excellent expression. It refers to God's economy, mentioned in v. 4. The gospel with which the apostle Paul was entrusted is the effulgence of the glory of the blessed God. By dispensing God's life and nature in Christ into God's chosen people, this gospel shines forth God's glory, in which God is blessed among His people. This is the commission and ministry the apostle received of the Lord (v. 12). This gospel should be commonly taught and preached in a local church.

  • The Lord not only appointed the apostle to the ministry and commissioned him with God's economy outwardly but also empowered him inwardly to carry out His ministry and fulfill His commission. This is altogether a matter of life in the Spirit.

  • A blasphemer is one who blasphemes God, and a persecutor is one who persecutes man. Saul of Tarsus, a strict Pharisee (Acts 22:3; Phil. 3:4-5), could never have blasphemed God. But he did speak evilly of the Lord Jesus. Here he confessed that this was blasphemy. This indicates that he believed in the deity of Christ.

  • Saul of Tarsus persecuted the church in an insulting, destructive way (Acts 22:4; Gal. 1:13, 23), just as the insulting Jews persecuted the Lord Jesus (Matt. 26:59, 67).

  • Saul, a blasphemer and a persecutor, first was shown mercy and then received grace (v. 14). Mercy reaches farther toward the unworthy one than grace does. Because Saul was one who blasphemed God and persecuted man, God's mercy reached him before the Lord's grace did.

  • To be ignorant is to be in darkness, and unbelief comes from blindness. Saul of Tarsus was in darkness and acted in blindness when he opposed God's New Testament economy.

  • To be ignorant is to be in darkness, and unbelief comes from blindness. Saul of Tarsus was in darkness and acted in blindness when he opposed God's New Testament economy.

  • The Lord's grace, coming after God's mercy, visited Saul of Tarsus and not only abounded but superabounded in him with faith and love in Christ. Faith and love are products of the Lord's grace. Mercy and grace come to us from the Lord; faith and love return to the Lord from us. This is a spiritual traffic between the Lord and us.

  • Through faith we receive the Lord (John 1:12), and through love we enjoy the Lord whom we have received (John 14:21, 23; 21:15-17).

  • Christ came into the world by incarnation to be our Savior (John 1:14). He was God incarnated to be a man that He might save us through His death and resurrection in His human body. In a local church this should be constantly announced as the glad tidings.

  • Saul of Tarsus, the foremost among sinners, became a pattern to sinners, showing that sinners can be visited by God's mercy and saved by the Lord's grace.

  • The uncreated life of God, the ultimate gift and topmost blessing given by God to those who believe on Christ.

  • Paul's praise to God in this verse is related to the decline of the church. The church may decline, deteriorate, and become degraded, but God is incorruptible. He remains the same. He is the King of eternity. In spite of the church's decline, Paul had a strong faith with an absolute assurance that the very God in whom he believed, the One who had entrusted him with the gospel, is the King of the ages, incorruptible, unchangeable, and worthy of honor and glory.

  • To war the good warfare by the prophecies previously given.

  • It might be that some prophetic intimations were made concerning Timothy when he was admitted into the ministry (Acts 16:1-3).

  • To war the good warfare is to war against the different teachings of the dissenters and to carry out God's economy (v. 4) according to the apostle's ministry concerning the gospel of grace and eternal life, that the blessed God may be glorified (vv. 11-16).

  • Faith and a good conscience (see note 1 Tim. 1:53b) go together. Whenever there is an offense in our conscience, there will be a leakage, and our faith will leak away. A good conscience accompanying faith is needed for warring the good warfare (v. 18) against the different teachings (v. 3) in a troubled local church.

  • This shows the seriousness of thrusting away faith and a good conscience. To hold faith and a good conscience is a safeguard for our Christian faith and life. The word shipwrecked implies that the Christian life and the church life are like a ship sailing on a stormy sea, needing to be safeguarded by faith and a good conscience.

  • The faith here is objective, referring to the things in which we believe (see note Gal. 1:232b), whereas faith at the beginning of this verse is subjective, referring to the act of our believing.

  • A heretical teacher (2 Tim. 2:17).

  • An opposer and attacker of the apostle (2 Tim. 4:14-15).

  • I.e., punished. It may refer to the destruction of their physical body (cf. 1 Cor. 5:5). To deliver persons like Hymenaeus and Alexander to Satan was to exercise the authority that the Lord had given to the apostle and the church (Matt. 16:19; 18:18) for the administrating of the church to counter Satan's evil plot.

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