False teachers have arisen in the Ephesian church. Paul writes this epistle with the charge to Timothy to address this issue. He follows with his personal testimony of the Lord’s mercy in saving him despite his past and in entrusting him with the ministry of the gospel. It is based on this commission from the Lord that Paul now charges Timothy to wage the good warfare.
Did You Know...?
- “When I went into Macedonia” (1:3): This event, which is not recorded in Acts, probably took place after Paul was released from his first Roman imprisonment.
- “Remain in Ephesus” (1:3): The Ephesian church was established during Paul’s third missionary journey (Acts 19:1- 20:1). Paul visited the church again probably after his first Roman imprisonment and asked Timothy to stay behind in Ephesus while he went on to Macedonia.
- “Fables and endless genealogies” (1:4): These were probably myths built on OT genealogies.
- Hymenaeus (1:20) was an apostate and a false teacher who taught that the resurrection was already past (2Tim 2:17-18).
- Alexander (1:20) was probably Alexander the coppersmith, who did Paul much harm (2Tim 4:14).
- Greetings (1:1-2)
- Timothy's Task (1:3-11)
- Suppression of false teachers (1:3-7)
- The purpose of the law (1:8-11)
- Paul’s Thanksgiving and Testimony (1:12-17)
- Charge to Timothy (1:18-20)
How does Paul’s personal testimony relate to his charge to Timothy?Hide Answer
Paul’s testimony is about how God has chosen him by grace and committed the ministry of the gospel to his trust (11). Because of the ministry that has been entrusted to him, Paul has the responsibility to defend the sound doctrine. Therefore, he charges Timothy, his assistant in the ministry, to carry out this very task in Ephesus.
Based on the way Paul identifies himself, what can we know about Paul’s understanding of his role and responsibility?Hide Answer
Paul is an apostle, sent to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. His apostleship is by the commandment (literally “by order”) of God and the Lord Jesus Christ. His ministry does not originate from himself or any Paul is an apostle, sent to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. His apostleship is by the commandment (literally “by order”) of God and the Lord Jesus Christ. His ministry does not originate from himself or any other man. He understands that he has received this divine order from God Himself, and he must faithfully carry out this most noble and solemn commission.
Why is the Lord Jesus Christ “our hope”?Hide Answer
He will come again to transform our lowly bodies into glorious bodies and bring us to the eternal heavenly home (Jn 14:3; Php 3:20-21; Col 3:4; 1Thess 1:10; 4:16-17; Heb 9:27-28; 1Jn 3:2). This is our ultimate hope, and this hope rests solely on Him because He is our only Savior.
How does Paul address Timothy?Hide Answer
True son in the faith (1Tim 1:2; cf. 1Cor 4:17; Php 2:22). Paul also addresses Titus in the same way. Tit 1:4).
What does this term suggest?Hide Answer
This term may imply that Timothy was a convert of Paul’s ministry. It also demonstrates the intimate relationship between Paul and the young preacher that he helped to groom. Just as many things in the world can bring people together (eg, common interests, common race etc), a common faith and commission can be the basis of a strong relationship as deep as that between father and son.
Why did Paul urge Timothy to remain in Ephesus?Hide Answer
See verses 3 and 4.
Why is this task necessary?Hide Answer
Paul is concerned that the false teachers will mislead the believers and shake their faith. Engagement in fables, endless genealogies, and idle talk cause disputes rather than godly edification.
What similar issues do we face today, and how should we respond to them?Hide Answer
When we study the Word of God, we must refrain from being carried away by topics or issues that are irrelevant to our faith. We should not promote debates on subject matters that are speculative and have no bearing on the truth. Instead, we ought to encourage and exhort one another with love in order to edify each other’s faith.
What “commandment” is verse 5 referring to?Hide Answer
In a narrow sense, this commandment may refer to the charge mentioned in verse 3. But if we understand the word in a broader sense to refer to the sum of all of God’s commandments, then the verse means that the purpose of all Christian teachings is love.
Explain the purpose of this commandment.Hide Answer
Paul wanted people who teach others to do so out of love from a pure heart, from a good conscience and from sincere faith. They should not have selfish motives but teach out of genuine love that is based on the truth. Only such teachings can bring true edification to the listeners.
What is a “good conscience”?Hide Answer
The conscience is the God-given ability to discern right and wrong (cf. Rom 2:15). It urges us to do good and condemns us when we do wrong (cf. Jn 8:9; Acts 2:37). However, if we insist on doing wrong, our conscience can become seared and defiled (cf. 1Tim 4:2; Tit 1:15). But a good conscience is one that is without offense toward God and is quickened by the word of God (Acts 24:16; cf. Heb 4:2-13; 1Jn 3:21-22).
What are the underlying problems of the false teachers?Hide Answer
They are ignorant of what they say or affirm. Their motive for teaching is selfish (7). They simply desire to be teachers but do not have love from a pure heart, a good conscience, and sincere faith.
According to Paul, what is the purpose of the law?Hide Answer
The purpose of the law is to condemn sinners and their evil deeds (9-10; Rom 3:20; 7:7).
How have the false teachers misinterpreted the purpose of the law?Hide Answer
In an effort to place themselves in positions of authority, these teachers impose unnecessary restrictions on believers (cf. 4:1-3). Apparently, they are teaching believers that they need to obtain righteousness through the law.
For what does Paul give thanks to Christ Jesus?Hide Answer
He thanks Christ Jesus for His salvation and for putting him into the ministry even though he was the chief of sinners.
How does Paul describe his past?Hide Answer
A blasphemer, a persecutor of Christians, an insolent man, the chief of sinners.
Why does Paul recall his own past?Hide Answer
As he writes about the ministry Christ has committed to him (11), he is reminded of the immense grace he has received from the Lord, and his heart of gratitude is stirred. He wants to highlight the exceedingly abundant grace of Christ showered upon him, as he was no mere unbeliever, but a persecutor of Christ. This is a classic illustration of grace, where a totally unworthy person, one reckoned to be the chief of sinners, received not only salvation, but also the entrusting of the ministry.
According to Paul, what is God’s purpose in granting him mercy?Hide Answer
Paul, the chief of sinner, received mercy so that in him first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life (16).
How is Paul’s testimony relevant today?Hide Answer
Christ is willing to accept and save sinners today, just as He had accepted Paul in the past. No one is too sinful for the Lord’s acceptance. Paul’s example can be used as an encouragement to those who remain doubtful that Christ will accept them. Likewise, this is also a reminder to us not to judge anyone based on their conduct and conclude that they would never receive the mercy and salvation of God.
Analyze and meditate on the hymn of verse 17. What moves Paul to say these words of praise?Hide Answer
As Paul recounts his sinful past and the Lord’s mercy, he is filled with thanksgiving and praise. He is thus moved to offer a prayer to exalt God in the highest.
How does this paragraph challenge the doctrine of the false teachers?Hide Answer
The false teachers teach justification by keeping the law. But the gospel teaches that sinners cannot possibly attain salvation by good works. While the law condemns sinners, Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. The only way to receive eternal life is to come to God for mercy and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.
What lessons can we learn from Paul’s view of himself, of the grace he has received, and of his ministry?Hide Answer
Paul never forgets that he is a sinner saved by grace. In fact, he acknowledges that he is the chief of sinners. Because he realizes how undeserving he is, he is always deeply moved by the love and mercy of God. He also understands the necessity of bringing the gospel of salvation to the world, for that is the very purpose that he has obtained mercy. Therefore, he treasures the ministry that has been committed to him and is continually motivated to carry out his commission.
In the same way, we would be constantly inspired by God’s love if we realize how wretched we would be without Christ’s salvation and how undeserving we are to obtain God’s mercy. If we truly value God’s wonderful plan of salvation and understand that God has chosen us and entrusted to us the ministry of the gospel, we will surely dedicate our lives to the ministry.
What does Paul compare Timothy’s mission to? Explain your answer.Hide Answer
Paul expects Timothy to wage the good warfare. Timothy must fight the spiritual battle for the truth, guarding the sound doctrine and combating all false doctrines.
How does Paul contrast Timothy with the false teachers with whom he is battling?Hide Answer
Timothy was equipped with faith and a good conscience whereas the false teachers such as Hymanaeus and Alexander had strayed away from a good conscience. Hence, the false teachers propagated false teachings out of an ulterior motive, for personal gain and not necessarily because they sincerely understood or believed what they taught (1Tim 1:5-7 ; 2 Tim 2:16-18).
All of our preaching and service must come from faith and a good conscience rather than selfish ambition. As we search the truth sincerely and out of faith, seeking the will of God rather than the praise of men, we will surely know the truth and be deeply convicted. Only if we teach the truth from God with such a genuine understanding and conviction can we be true ministers of God’s word.
Why is shipwreck a suitable analogy for the condition of those who have rejected faith and a good conscience?Hide Answer
Just as a shipwreck destroys a ship and renders it useless, zeal without faith and a good conscience is destructive to our faith and renders us worthless before God.