1 Timothy 1:19
Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck:
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(19) Holding faith, and a good conscience.—Again, as in 1Timothy 1:5, the Apostle joins “faith” and “the conscience undefiled.” In the mind of St. Paul, “want of faith” was no mere refusal to accept a definite religions dogma, but was ever closely connected with impurity and the love of sin. If a man dares to do wilful violence to his better nature he must not presume to dream of faith saving him. The thought expressed by another inspired teacher seems to run constantly in the mind of St. Paul: “The devils also believe and tremble.”

Which some.—“Some.” A quiet reference here is made to those false teachers who seem to have been doing such evil work at Ephesus among the Christian believers, and against whom Timothy is so urgently warned to be on his guard in the 6th and following verses of the chapter.

Having put away.—The simile in St. Paul’s mind is a nautical one. The “good conscience” represents the ballast, or cargo, of the ship. When this is put away—tossed overboard—the vessel becomes unmanageable and is tossed about, the plaything of the waves, and in the end is wrecked.

1:18-20 The ministry is a warfare against sin and Satan; carried on under the Lord Jesus, who is the Captain of our salvation. The good hopes others have had of us, should stir us up to duty. And let us be upright in our conduct in all things. The design of the highest censures in the primitive church, was, to prevent further sin, and to reclaim the sinner. May all who are tempted to put away a good conscience, and to abuse the gospel, remember that this is the way to make shipwreck of faith also.Holding faith - Fidelity to the cause in which you are enlisted - as a good soldier should do. This does not mean, as it seems to me, that Timothy should hold to the system of doctrines revealed in the gospel, but that he should have that fidelity which a good soldier should have. He should not betray his trust. He should adhere to the cause of his master with unwavering steadfastness. This would include, of course, a belief of the truth, but this is not the leading idea in the phrase.

And a good conscience - see the notes, Acts 23:1. A good conscience, as well as fidelity, is necessary in the service of the Redeemer. A good conscience is that which is well informed in regard to what is right, and where its dictates are honestly followed.

Which some having put away - That is, which good conscience some have put from them, or in other words, have not followed its dictates. The truth thus taught is, that people make shipwreck of their faith by not keeping a good conscience. They love sin. They follow the leadings of passion. They choose to indulge in carnal propensities. As a matter of course, they must, if they will do this, reject and renounce the gospel. People become infidels because they wish to indulge in sin. No man can be a sensualist, and yet love that gospel which enjoins purity of life. If people would keep a good conscience, the way to a steady belief in the gospel would be easy. If people will not, they must expect sooner or later to be landed in infidelity.

Concerning faith - In respect to the whole subject of faith. They are unfaithful to God, and they reject the whole system of the gospel. "Faith" is sometimes used to denote the gospel - as faith is the principal thing in the gospel.

Have made shipwreck - There is an entire destruction of faith - as a ship is wholly ruined that strikes on a rock and sinks.

19. Holding—Keeping hold of "faith" and "good conscience" (1Ti 1:5); not "putting the latter away" as "some." Faith is like a very precious liquor; a good conscience is the clean, pure glass that contains it [Bengel]. The loss of good conscience entails the shipwreck of faith. Consciousness of sin (unrepented of and forgiven) kills the germ of faith in man [Wiesinger].

which—Greek singular, namely, "good conscience," not "faith" also; however, the result of putting away good conscience is, one loses faith also.

put away—a wilful act. They thrust it from them as a troublesome monitor. It reluctantly withdraws, extruded by force, when its owner is tired of its importunity, and is resolved to retain his sin at the cost of losing it. One cannot be on friendly terms with it and with sin at one and the same time.

made shipwreck—"with respect to THE faith." Faith is the vessel in which they had professedly embarked, of which "good conscience" is the anchor. The ancient Church often used this image, comparing the course of faith to navigation. The Greek does not imply that one having once had faith makes shipwreck of it, but that they who put away good conscience "make shipwreck with respect to THE faith."

By faith here is meant, the doctrine of faith, and the holding of it signifies a steadiness of the mind’s assent unto it, without wavering or fluctuation, much less deserting or denying it. By

a good conscience is here to be understood what the Scripture elsewhere calls a conscience void of of offence toward God, and toward men, Acts 24:16, opposed to the evil conscience, mentioned Hebrews 10:22; so as a good conscience here signifies a pure conscience, which necessarily implieth a holy life; for our actions are presently copied out into our consciences, and make either blots or good copies there.

Which some having put away; which some taking no care in, viz. to live holily, so keeping a good conscience;

concerning faith have made shipwreck; have made shipwreck concerning faith, suffered loss as to it, falling from the truths of the gospel. Error seldom goes along with a holy life. The truths of the gospel have such an influence upon men’s conversation, that ordinarily men’s holiness is proportioned to their soundness in the faith, and usually the love of some lust is what betrayeth men into erroneous judgments and opinions.

Holding faith, and a good conscience..... By "faith" is meant, not the grace of faith, but the doctrine of faith, a sense in which it is often used in this epistle; see 1 Timothy 3:9 and the "holding" of it does not intend a mere profession of it, and a retaining of that without wavering, which is to be done by all believers; but a holding it forth in the ministry of the word, in opposition to a concealing or dropping it, or any part of it; and a holding it fast, without wavering, and in opposition to a departure from it or any cowardice about it and against all posers: to which must be added, a good conscience; the conscience is not naturally good, but is defiled by sin; and that is only good, which is sprinkled by the blood of Christ, and thereby purged from dead works; the effect of which is an holy, upright, and becoming conversation; and which seems to be chiefly intended here, and particularly the upright conduct and behaviour of the ministers of the Gospel, in the faithful discharge of their work and office: see 2 Corinthians 1:12.

Which some having put away; that is, a good conscience; and which does not suppose that they once had one, since that may be put away which was never had: the Jews, who blasphemed and contradicted, and never received the word of God, are said to put it from them, Acts 13:46 where the same word is used as here; and signifies to refuse or reject anything with detestation and contempt: these men always had an abhorrence to a good conscience among men, and to a good life and conversation, the evidence of it; and at length threw off the mask, and dropped the faith they professed, as being contrary to their evil conscience: though admitting it does suppose they once had a good conscience, it must be understood not of a conscience cleansed by the blood of Christ, but of a good conscience in external show only, or in comparison of what they afterwards appeared to have: and, besides, some men, destitute of the grace of God, may have a good conscience in some sense, or with respect to some particular facts, or to their general conduct and behaviour among men, as the Apostle Paul had while unregenerate, Acts 23:1 and which being acted against, or lost, is no instance of falling from the true grace of God, which this passage is sometimes produced in proof of:

concerning faith have made shipwreck; which designs not the grace, but the doctrine of faith, as before observed, which men may profess, and fall off from, and entirely drop and lose. Though supposing faith as a grace is meant, the phrase, "have made shipwreck of it", is not strong enough to prove the total and final falling away of true believers, could such be thought to be here meant; since persons may be shipwrecked, and not lost, the Apostle Paul was thrice shipwrecked, and each time saved; besides, as there is a true and unfeigned, so there is a feigned and counterfeit faith, which may be in persons who have no true grace, and may be shipwrecked, so as to be lost.

Holding {m} faith, and a good conscience; {16} which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck:

(m) Wholesome and sound doctrine.

(16) Whoever does not keep a good conscience, loses also by little and little, the gift of understanding. And this he proves by two most lamentable examples.

1 Timothy 1:19. The manner in which Timothy is to discharge his office, is given still more precisely in the words ἔχων πίστιν καὶ ἀγαθὴν συνείδησιν. It is difficult to bring ἔχων into direct connection with the preceding figure στρατεία (Matthies: “hold fast the faith which elsewhere, in Ephesians 6:16, is called a shield, a weapon of defence in our warfare;” Otto thinks that Paul conceives πίστις and ἀγ. συνείδησις as “the contending power which the general commands, i.e. as his troops!”). It is simply “holding, maintaining” (de Wette), i.e. not denying. The reason for the collocation peculiar to this epistle of πίστις and ἀγαθὴ συνείδησις, and for the strong emphasis laid on the latter idea (comp. 1 Timothy 1:5; 1 Timothy 4:2, etc.), is, that the apostle regards the denial of the ἀγ. συνείδ. as the source of the heresy. This is proved by the words that follow, in which Paul returns to the mention of the heretics: ἥν (viz. ἀγαθὴν συνείδησιν) τινες (comp. 1 Timothy 1:6).

ἀπωσάμενοι] This expression, not strange (de Wette) but suitable, denotes the “wantonness” (de Wette) with which the heretics sacrificed the good conscience to their selfish purposes.[79]

περὶ τὴν πίστιν ἐναυάγησαν] ναυαγεῖν occurs only here in a figurative sense. Περί gives the matter in which they had made shipwreck, i.e. suffered loss. Περί with the accusative, equivalent to quod attinet ad, is found in the N. T. only in the Pastoral Epistles; comp. 1 Timothy 6:4; 1 Timothy 6:21; 2 Timothy 2:18; 2 Timothy 3:8; Titus 2:7; see Winer, p. 379 [E. T. p. 506].

[79] Van Oosterzee remarks on ἀγαθὴν συνείδησιν “as a troublesome reminder,” which is not appropriate, because ἀγ. συνειδ. is not the conscience exhorting to good and punishing evil, but of willing and doing good.—Hofmann’s opinion, that the good conscience is compared to “the ballast which gives the necessary stability to a ship,” is wrong, since ἀπωθεῖσθαι does not mean “to cast overboard.”

1 Timothy 1:19. ἔχων: It is best perhaps to suppose that the metaphor of warfare is not continued beyond στρατείαν; else we might render, holding faith as a shield, cf. Ephesians 6:16. But ἐν αὐταῖς implies that the prophecies included every piece of defensive armour. So ἔχων here simply means possessing, as in 1 Timothy 3:9, 2 Timothy 1:13; 2 Timothy 3:5, Romans 2:20, 1 Corinthians 15:34, 1 Peter 3:16. συνείδησιν: see note on 1 Timothy 1:5.

τινες: see note on 1 Timothy 1:3.

ἀπωσάμενοι: The indictment against the moral standard of the false teachers is here expressed more severely than above in 1 Timothy 1:6. There they are said to have “missed” or “neglected” faith, etc.; but here that they thrust it from them (R.V., cf. Acts 13:46) when it importuned for admittance into their hearts. “Recedit invita. Semper dicit, Noli me laedere” (Bengel).

περὶ τὴν πίστιν ἐναυάγησαν: Another change of metaphor: they suffered moral shipwreck, so far as the faith is concerned. “When the life is corrupt, it engenders a doctrine congenial to it” (Chrys.). We are not justified in interpreting suffered shipwreck as though it meant that they were lost beyond hope of recovery. St. Paul himself had suffered shipwreck at least four times (2 Corinthians 11:25) when he wrote this epistle. He had on each occasion lost everything except himself. For the construction, cf. περὶ τὴν πίστιν [ἀλήθειαν] ἠστόχησαν, 1 Timothy 6:21, 2 Timothy 2:18; ἀδόκιμοι περὶ τὴν πίστιν, 2 Timothy 3:8. περί with acc. is used in a somewhat similar sense in Mark 4:19, Luke 10:40-41, Acts 19:25, Php 2:23 (the only instance in Paul outside the Pastorals) 1 Timothy 6:4, Titus 2:7.

Hymenaeus and Alexander were the ringleaders of those who had suffered shipwreck. There is no sufficient reason to suppose that this Hymenaeus is different from the heretic of the same name in 2 Timothy 2:17, where his error is more precisely defined. The identification of Alexander with Alexander the smith of 2 Timothy 4:14 is more precarious.

19. faith, and a good conscience] Together as in 1 Timothy 1:5.

which some having put away] Probably both faith and good conscience, the relative agreeing in number only with the latter. Render rather having thrust away—a wilful casting away of rudder and compass.

concerning faith have made shipwrack] Accurately rendering aorist and article made shipwreck concerning the faith. ‘The faith’ here is quite independent of ‘faith’ above, and means rather what we mean by “the Catholic faith,” the creed; so in 1 Timothy 3:9 ‘holding the mystery of the faith,’ 1 Timothy 4:1 ‘some shall fall away from the faith,’ 1 Timothy 6:10 ‘have been led away from the faith.’

1 Timothy 1:19. Ἔχων, having) Whilst the warfare has to be maintained.—πίστιν, faith) Faith is like a very precious liquor; a good conscience is like clean or pure glass.—ἣν, which) good conscience.—ἀπωσάμενοι, having thrust away) It withdraws unwillingly; it always says, Do not injure me. He who retains it, does not easily make shipwreck of his faith.—ἐναυάγησαν, have made shipwreck) Therefore they had entered on the voyage of faith. Hesychius explains ἐναυάγησαν as ἐκινδύνευσαν.

Verse 19. - Thrust from them for put away, A.V.; made shipwreck concerning the faith for concerning faith have made shipwreck, A.V. Thrust from them. The addition "from them" is meant to give the force of the middle voice as in Acts 7:39, A.V. The verb ἀπώθομαι 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 LXX. Which (ἥν) applies to the good conscience only. Hence the important lesson that deviations from the true faith are preceded by violations of the conscience. The surest way to maintain a pure faith is to maintain a good and tender conscience (camp. 1 Timothy 2:9; John 7:17). The faith. It is by no means certain that ἡ πίστις here means "the faith" rather than "faith" (subjectire). Both the grammar and the sense equally admit the rendering "faith," referring to the preceding, tiaras. (For the phrase, περὶ τὴν πίστιν, "with respect to," camp. 1 Timothy 6:4; 2 Timothy 2:18; Titus 2:7.) 1 Timothy 1:19Holding (ἔχων)

Not merely having, but holding fast, as in 2 Timothy 1:13.

Faith and a good conscience (πίστιν καὶ ἀγαθὴν συνείδησιν)

The phrase good conscience is not in Paul, although συνείδησις is a Pauline word. The phrase appears once in Acts (Acts 23:1), and twice in 1 Peter 1 Peter 2:16, 1 Peter 2:21). In Hebrews evil (πονηρᾶς) conscience and fair (καλὴν) conscience; Hebrews 10:22; Hebrews 13:18. The combination faith and good conscience is peculiar to the Pastorals. Comp. 1 Timothy 3:9.

Which (ἥν)

Referring to God conscience.

Having put away (ἀπωσάμενοι)

The A.V. is not strong enough. Better, having thrust from them. It implies willful violence against conscience. Twice in Paul, Romans 11:1, Romans 11:2, and three times in Acts.

Concerning faith have made shipwreck (περὶ τὴν πίστιν ἐναυάγησαν)

Better, "concerning the faith made shipwreck." For a similar use of περὶ concerning, see Acts 19:25; Luke 10:40; 1 Timothy 6:21; 2 Timothy 2:18; 2 Timothy 3:8. It is noteworthy that περὶ with the accusative occurs only once in Paul (Philippians 2:23). Ναυαγεῖν to make shipwreck only here and 2 Corinthians 11:25. Nautical metaphors are rare in Paul's writings.

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