Study Notes

1Timothy 1:1-7

1:1-2 Paul

Today, we write letters with our names signed at the bottom. (I don't know where we picked up that tradition, because it seems very backwards to me.) But in the days that Paul wrote, letters were written in the From/To format. From James, to the twelve tribes. From Paul and Sosthenes, to the church in Corinth. From Paul, to Timothy. This format makes much more sense to me.

Paul is the writer of this letter. The Greek word for letter is "ep-is-tol-AY," thus we call the apostle's letters "epistles." The King James includes the word "epistle" 16 times, but the newer versions simply use the word "letter." We will use "epistle" and "letter" interchangeably throughout our study.

Paul wrote this epistle somewhere around the year 63 or 64 AD.


Paul was writing to Timothy, a young man whom Paul had left in Ephesus to pastor the church there. Timothy, in addition to being young, was also physically weak from frequent ailments, and personally timid and non-confrontational. Keep Timothy's physical and personal state in mind as you read this letter.

True Child

Paul calls Timothy his "true child in faith." Paul was not Timothy's biological father, but rather his spiritual father.

You see, when we lead someone to Christ, they become born again. In that way, they become your child in the faith. When we disciple a new Christian, we become like an adopted father. So, Paul often called people his children in faith.

He'd led the runaway slave Onesimus to Christ from his jail cell. Thus, when writing to Philemon, he called Onesimus,

Phlm. 10 child, whom I have begotten in my imprisonment...

Paul will call Timothy "my son" in these two epistles.

Grace, Mercy, And Peace

Grace and peace is prominent in the majority of the New Testament books. Its frequency is quite fortunate, because understanding grace and peace is vital to the victorious Christian walk. Paul told the Colossians that the gospel began to constantly bear fruit and increase in them...

Col. 1:6 ...since the day you heard and understood the grace of God in truth

This is the key to bearing fruit: understanding grace in truth. What is grace? It is God's unmerited favor upon you. You see, there was nothing appealing or attractive about us to God. He didn't look at us and say, "Boy, that Ron, he's so adorable, I sure would love to be friends with him!" There was nothing desireable about us. But he loved us anyway. And...

Titus 3:4-5 ...when the kindness of God our Savior and {His} love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness...

In other words,

Rom. 5:8 ...While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Nothing attractive or appealing about us, but God loved us. He died for us. Completely unmerited on our part. Thus,

Acts 15:11 "...We are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus..."

We don't deserve salvation. We don't deserve heaven. We don't deserve to have our sin freely paid for. That is grace.

And what is the natural byproduct of grace? Peace. You see, when you finally come to the realization that you haven't done anything to deserve salvation, then you realize it is not up to you to now prove that you deserve it. There's no need to try and attain it, because it is already yours. No penance to pay, no equity to work into it. When you finally understand the grace of God in truth, you have complete peace. And that's when the gospel begins to constantly bear fruit in your life! Grace and peace.

Eph. 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, {it is} the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast.

It's the people that don't understand grace that don't have peace. The cults that work their way to heaven. The legalists that work to deserve heaven. When you're saved by grace, there's no need for these things, and you can just be washed in peace.

Every one of Paul's epistles includes the greeting "grace and peace" (Rom. 1:7; 1Cor. 1:3; 2Cor. 1:2; Gal. 1:3; Eph. 1:2; Phil. 1:2; Col. 1:2, 1Thes. 1:1; 2Thes. 1:2; 1Tim. 1:2; 2Tim. 1:2, Titus 1:4; Philemon 1:3). However, this one in Timothy is unique. Here he says,

1Tim. 1:2 ...Grace, mercy {and} peace...

Why is the blessing of mercy thrown in here? Probably because Timothy is a new, young pastor. Speaking from experience, I know that he needs all the mercy he can get!

1:3-4 Remain On At Ephesus

Paul had come to Ephesus in Acts 18, reasoning with the Jews in the synagogue. They asked him to stay longer, but he had to decline, heading towards Caesarea.

Acts 18:21 but taking leave of them and saying, "I will return to you again if God wills," he set sail from Ephesus

God did will Paul's return. In Acts 19, he came again to Ephesus, finding about a dozen disciples. They had responded to the gospel message, but had not heard about the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Paul laid hands on them and they were filled with the Holy Spirit.

He entered the synagogue again, and this time stayed for three months, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God. But when the Jews rejected his message, Paul rented a local lecture hall from 11 to 4 every day, when people were on break from work. He did this for two years, and so many people were being saved that some of the idol makers were in danger of going out of business. Even many of the local witches and magicians were saved and burned their books.

Paul came and went at least two more times, but he was not called to stay and pastor this congregation. This city and its people were near and dear to Paul's heart, and so when he continued on to Macedonia, he ordained Timothy as the pastor of the Ephesian church. He knew they were in good hands.

Not To Teach Strange Doctrines

Now, the reason Paul chose Timothy to be the pastor was not because of a powerful physical presence or excellency of speech. He was called because he was a man that knew the Word of God and was like-minded with Paul.

You see, even when Paul was there, he knew that there were some guys that wanted to be the pastor, wanted to be teachers. There were certain men in the church that had strong opinions about unbiblical things. These were Christian men, but they were teaching wrong things, strange doctrines. Paul told Timothy to pastor the church, and to instruct these men not to teach strange doctrines.

Although it is not a popular part of my job, it is part of the Biblical job description to point out doctrinal errors in the church and dispose of them. When someone is teaching a strange doctrine, I must bring correction.

The question arises then, "What is a strange doctrine?" Paul will tell Timothy in chapter six that it is anything that deviates from the words of Jesus Christ, or the teaching of godliness.

Here's an easy definition: if someone teaches something that contradicts what Jesus taught, it is a strange doctrine. If someone teaches something that contradicts the command to live holy and godly lives, it is a strange doctrine.

This means for Timothy that he needs to know the Scriptures. He must be familiar with the teachings of Jesus - and so must we. That means investing hours in reading and studying. A person who knows the Word of God will be able to instantly determine if some teaching is contradictory to it. A man who doesn't know the Word is liable to buy anything that's taught.

Timothy also must be familiar with godliness, so that if someone taught a strange doctrine that didn't conform to the doctrine of godliness, he would know. We also must be familiar with godliness. How can we become familiar with godliness? The writer of the book of Hebrews speaks of mature believers...

Hebr. 5:14 ...who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.

You have to train yourself to know what is truly godly. Just like any other skill, whether it be playing guitar, golfing, or pitching, you have to practice godliness. And when you practice, then you are able to discern good and evil. Practice godliness. Practice denying your flesh. Practice doing good. Practice being holy.


Many strange doctrines arise from myths. Even more today than in Timothy's day. Paul said that in the last days,

2Tim. 4:3-4 ...the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but {wanting} to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths.

Indeed, many in the church have turned aside to myths. Books are published by people who claim that they died and went to heaven. Tapes are distributed by people that swear they picked an angel up hitchhiking. Teachers present God as the mythical genie in the lamp. You just have to rub the right way, and you will get whatever you demand!

We need to get back to a Biblical Christianity.

Endless Genealogies

Other strange doctrines come from endless genealogies. People tracing lineages back to make their point or prove their doctrine. Today, the Mormons trace their genealogies back as far as possible to be baptized for the dead. "Gospel Principles," the official Mormon instruction manual, declares that Mormons are baptized for their dead, non-Mormon ancestors in the belief that they will have the opportunity to accept the gospel in the spirit world, but also need this rite performed on their behalf to seal their salvation.

That is what they believe - that they are enabling their long-dead ancestors to receive the gospel in the afterlife and be saved.

Does the Bible say that tracing genealogies back results in any spiritual benefit? Not at all.


Thirdly, strange doctrines come from speculation. And these are the most deadly dangerous to Christian faith. Because this is the stuff that the Christian best-seller list is usually full of. We're told a little about something in the Bible, and these authors and teachers run with it.

They read in the Scriptures that Jesus had a seamless woven tunic that the Roman soldiers didn't want to tear. "Thus," they conclude, "Jesus was wearing designer clothes. Therefore, He must have been rich, and therefore, all Christians will be rich if they just have enough faith!" Do you see how ludicrous the speculation is? We aren't told all these things - we were only told that his tunic was seamless!

Another speculation is regarding Spiritual warfare. The speculators read in Ephesians 6 that,

Eph. 6:12 ...Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.

So the speculators conclude that we should actively wrestle against demons! Never mind that the rest of the passage tells us that we win this battle through living a life of truth, righteousness, faith, and salvation. Instead, the speculators tell us how to pray to satan, verbally casting him out. Saying, "satan, I bind you. You have no power here. I command you to leave." Those speculators are taking believers into heresy. Heresy because Jude illustrates that it is utterly sinful to revile spiritual authorities.

Timothy's job here was to tell people the truth. "Look, saints, you're not guaranteed health and wealth. And you're not supposed to be talking to the devil. And you don't need to research your family tree, and you need to stop believing these myths that have the name of God pasted into them." As a pastor, I can't allow these things in the church. When someone starts bringing strange doctrines in, I will correct it even if it makes me the least popular guy around. If we're in a prayer meeting, and you start talking to satan, I will stop the prayer meeting. If you're teaching people in a Bible study or Sunday School class some extra-Biblical Christian myth, I will remove you as soon as I find out about it.

There is plenty of truth in the Word of God to occupy ourselves with for the rest of our lives. And the great thing about the Bible is, if God wants to make something clear to us, it will be clear in the Scriptures. You don't have to speculate. It's clear.

The Administration Of God Which Is By Faith

This can be a confusing sentence, and is rendered quite differently in the various Bible translations. The word here means, "to steward, to manage, to administer." What Paul's saying is, "Timothy, these strange doctrines don't deliver God to people. People's faith will not be built by myths, but by the Word of God."

Rom. 10:17 ...Faith {comes} from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.

If we are to be good stewards that deliver God to people properly, it will be through teaching the whole counsel of God, the complete Word of God, not speculations and strange doctrines.

1:5 The Goals

The real teachers of God's Word have a three-fold motivation. Our goal for teaching people the Word of God is not to exalt ourselves, becoming famous, making a name for ourselves, etc. It is to see God's people possess love, a good conscience, and sincere faith.

Love From A Pure Heart

When you have a pure heart, it's not polluted by sin, it's not defiled by unrighteousness. When you are instructed properly in the Scriptures, you know that God hates sin and wants you to avoid it, denying your flesh.

A Good Conscience

When you are instructed in the truth of the Scriptures, you know that God's desire for you is to have a good conscience. He doesn't want you weighed down by the guilt of having broken the law or falling into immorality.

Sincere Faith

As you are instructed in the pure Word of God, you learn that God also wants your faith to be without ulterior motive. You accept Christ because He died for your sin, not because He promises to make you rich and famous.

1:6-7 Fruitless Discussion

When people turn away from the simple things - holiness, the teachings of Jesus, love for one another, they turn aside to fruitless discussion.

They want to be the intellectual superior - they want to make their new point. They dogmatically insist that Adam did or didn't have a belly button. They vehemently argue over whether or not Paul wrote the book of Hebrews. They emphatically insist that their speculation is the truth.

What they really ought to be doing is studying the Word, gaining an understanding of the basics, then applying them to their lives.

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