Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
The title given in A.V. agrees with that adopted by the Elzevir editions of 1624, 1633. But the best mss. give only First Epistle to Timothy, as also for the ‘Subscription.’
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope;Ch. 1. Apostolic Faithfulness
1, 2. Greeting
1. an apostle of Jesus Christ] Read rather with the mss. an apostle of Christ Jesus, and again with a similar transposition and omitting ‘Lord,’ Christ Jesus our hope; as in 1 Timothy 1:12; 2 Timothy 4:1; Titus 1:4. Altogether, according to the best mss., the change should be made nine times in these epp. The name ‘Christ Jesus’ is most frequently on the Apostle’s lips in old age, occurring 22 times, while ‘Jesus Christ’ is used but seven times, ‘our Lord Jesus Christ’ but twice, see 1 Timothy 6:3. See further, Moule’s Colossians, I. 1.
by the commandment of] Better, by authority from; this phrase (1) recalls to English ears official titles and announcements; and (2) suits each of the seven passages in St Paul’s epistles where it occurs, suggesting the commission delegated from the supreme power of God: it gives as here, so in Titus 1:3, the warrant for St Paul’s laying down the rules of Church order, and the warrant therefore for Timothy and Titus doing the same under their delegated commission. It is a clear gain to use the same word in these passages and in Titus 2:15, ‘exhort, reprove, with all authority.’
God our Saviour] A new phrase in St Paul’s language, three times used in this epistle and three times in ep. to Titus; cf. Jude, jude 1:25: the corresponding phrase Christ our Saviour four times in these epistles (previously in Ephesians 5:23 and Php 3:20, the word ‘Saviour’ is used not as a title but in a statement, as predicate not attribute—an evidently earlier stage), five times in the Second Epistle of St Peter. Fairbairn suggests with reason that this title is given to God here rather than to Christ ‘as a kind of counteractive to the false teaching’; this personal designation of God, as originating and carrying into effect the work of salvation, would indicate the true preservative against all arbitrariness in speculation and undue licence in practice.
Jesus Christ … our hope] Again a token of the later apostolic age. Christ, who is at first in His own words ‘the Light,’ ‘the Way,’ ‘the Truth,’ ‘the Life,’ is (with still further appropriation of the abstract) in the epistles of the first captivity ‘our peace,’ Ephesians 2:14, ‘the hope of glory. Colossians 1:27, and now towards the days of the second captivity simply ‘our hope.’ This personification of the abstract has still further developed with the lapse of centuries, so that a modern writer can say,
O everlasting Health,
From which all healing springs,
Our Bliss, our Treasure, and our Wealth,
To Thee our spirit clings.
Unto Timothy, my own son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.2. my own son in the faith] Better, my true child in faith with R.V.; child, because the word is used, as the Greek teknon is, (1) of specially tender affectionateness, (2) of the spiritual relationship of a disciple to a teacher; true, that is, shewing a real and marked resemblance in character to your ‘father in God’; in faith, or as we should say, spiritually; apparently by this time a recognised adverbial or adjectival phrase, as in Titus 3:15, ‘salute them that love us in faith,’ or, as we should say, ‘our Christian friends.’ The same argument from the growth of this abstract applies here; the earlier and more concrete ‘in the Lord’ (1 Corinthians 4:17), and ‘in the Gospel’ (1 Thessalonians 3:2) gives place to ‘in faith,’ or as in Titus 1:4 ‘in communion of faith.’
Compare 2 John 1:1, ‘whom I love in truth,’ St John’s corresponding word for spiritual Christianity, and the combination in ch. 1 Timothy 2:7.
Grace, mercy, and peace] ‘Mercy’ here and in 2 Timothy 1:2; while in Titus 1:4 according to the best mss. it is ‘grace and peace,’ as in the salutations of St Paul’s other epistles. ‘Why,’ asks Fairbairn, ‘is “mercy” specially needed for St Paul’s dear child of faith? The nearer he was in character to St Paul the more would he too feel himself “the chief of sinners,” and so appreciate a prayer so truly faithful and sympathising; a lesson,’ he adds, ‘for all future ministers of the Gospel which it well becomes them to ponder.’ St John’s private letter to the ‘Elect lady’ has the same salutation.
God our Father] Read God the Father, as in 2 Timothy 1:2 and Titus 1:4; ‘our Father’ was the usual form in the earlier epistles.
As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine,3. As I besought thee … so do] Rather as I exhorted thee … so do I now, i.e. exhort thee. The R.V. varies between ‘beseech’ and ‘exhort’ for parakalein, e.g. reading in Philemon 1:9, ‘for love’s sake I rather beseech.’
to abide still] Or to tarry; the force of the preposition in the verb is expressed by ‘still’; the aorist is usual after verbs of hoping, &c.
when I went into Macedonia] The present participle is emphatic—when I was going. This journey into Macedonia cannot be fitted in anywhere during the period covered by the Acts. See Ellicott here, and Paley, Hor. Paul. ch. xi. Cf. Introduction, p. 43.
that thou mightest charge some] Rather certain persons slightingly, and indicating that he could name them if he would; the word for ‘charge,’ cf. 1 Timothy 1:5, is in St Paul’s mind in writing, and occurs seven times in this epistle.
no other doctrine] Better, not to be teachers of a different doctrine, as in Galatians 1:6, ‘a different gospel,’ i.e. different in kind; the word appears in our ‘heterodoxy,’ difference for the worse from the established view of things.
3–11. Timothy is exhorted to faithful Ministry. He is reminded first of the character of the true Gospel
Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do.4. fables and endless genealogies] Ellicott following Chrysostom and the early Greek commentators regards the false teaching as arising from Jewish, perhaps Cabbalistic sources, and only an affluent afterwards of the later and more definite Gnosticism—Rabbinical fables and fabrications in history and doctrine, and vague rambling genealogies—in the proper sense, but very possibly combined with wild speculative allegories. See Introduction, pp. 45 sqq.; Appendix, B.
which minister questions] Rather with R.V. the which minister questionings—‘the which’ implying the force of the pronoun ‘which are of such a kind as to’; and ‘questionings’ suggesting better the process and state of questioning which the form of the noun conveys. The compound noun which is the right reading implies painful, elaborate questionings, so the verb 1 Peter 1:10 ‘searched diligently.’
godly edifying] Read with the best mss. (and the Received Text which the A.V. has not followed here) a dispensation of God—the divine economy or scheme of salvation to be apprehended by faith. They whom Timothy was thus to correct had or might have learnt exactly what St Paul meant by this dispensing of grace on God’s part from the eloquent passage in his own letter to them, Ephesians 3; ‘the dispensation of that grace of God,’ 1 Timothy 1:2; ‘to make all men see what is the dispensation of the mystery,’ 1 Timothy 1:9.
in faith] That is, as Theod. Mops. puts it, we lay hold of the plan of salvation by ‘a historic faith’—‘getting our proof of its truth from the facts themselves of the life of God incarnate.’
Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned:5. Now the end of the commandment] Better, But the end of the charge, ‘but’ rather than ‘now’ because it is not so much the commencement of a new paragraph as a positive statement of the true aim of the ministry to counteract the statement just made of false aims, so completing the paragraph. ‘The charge,’ the verb or noun occurs seven times in this epistle, and as thus constantly present to St Paul might almost give a second title to the epistle of ‘The Chief Pastor’s Charge,’ 1 Timothy 4:11, 1 Timothy 5:7, 1 Timothy 6:13-17. Here one of the best comments is in the Bishop’s words at the Ordination of Priests in the English Prayer Book, ‘Be thou a faithful dispenser of the word of God,’ ‘Take thou authority to preach the word of God.’
charity] love, a life of active love and union; the opposite of the ‘strifes’ which result from ‘questionings,’ 2 Timothy 2:23. It is important to keep the English word ‘love’ as the equivalent of the Greek word agapè throughout the New Testament, as the Revisers have very properly done. It is a characteristic word, and only confusion is introduced in the mind of English readers by sometimes rendering it ‘charity.’
a pure heart] thoroughly bent on turning from sin and youthful lusts, honestly growing in righteousness, 2 Timothy 2:22.
of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned] ‘Conscience’ is one of St Paul’s most characteristic words; out of 32 places where it occurs in N.T. 23 are of his using either in speech or writing, six of these belonging to the Pastoral Epistles. See Appendix, D. Literally the word means ‘knowing with’ and Bp Westcott draws out this idea in his definition, “It presents man as his own judge. Man does not stand alone. He has direct knowledge of a law—a law of God—which claims his obedience, and he has direct knowledge also of his own conduct. He cannot then but compare them and give sentence. His ‘conscience’ as the power directing this process is regarded apart from himself (Romans 9:1; Romans 2:15).” See his Additional Note, Hebrews 9:9.
From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling;6. from which] Plural from which things, that is the love and its threefold helpers, in the grace, the life, and the creed.
having swerved] Lit. ‘having missed the mark,’ another of the words peculiar to these epistles, occurring only ch. 1 Timothy 6:21 and 2 Timothy 2:18.
vain jangling] empty talking; the word occurs in the adjective form once again, in the still stronger warning against the same class of teachers in Titus 1:10, where they are said to be mostly ‘of the Circumcision,’ and to give heed to ‘Jewish fables.’ The law of which they are setting themselves up to be teachers is of course the law of Moses, but corrupted by allegorical interpretations and philosophisings which whittled away the keen edge of its moral precepts and blunted all sense of the paramount necessity of holy living.
Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm.7. understanding] More exactly, though they understand; the negative particle used shews that the clause is subordinate to, not parallel with ‘setting themselves up,’ or ‘desiring,’ and expresses their thoughts. ‘We choose to teach, without understanding.’ Winer, § 55. 5 b, p. 607.
neither what they say, nor whereof] They neither understand the statements they make nor even what the questions are about which they make such confident assertions. Confidently affirm gives the force of the preposition in the compound verb; it occurs in Titus 3:8; but not elsewhere in N. T. The middle voice expresses the secondary kind of making firm, by speech, instead of act, as commonly in Class. Gr. Compare to draw up a narrative, Luke 1:1; ‘I laid before them the Gospel,’ Galatians 2:2; Winer, Pt. iii. § 38, 2–6, p. 317.
But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully;8. But we know] Yet we are all aware, a correction or concession. St Paul uses ‘we know’ in a similar way, Romans 7:14, ‘I grant that the law is spiritual’; 1 Corinthians 8:3, ‘We are quite aware (with irony) that we all have knowledge.’
if a man use it lawfully] The regular Greek idiom corresponding with our passive, if it be handled as law should be, that is, by the teacher of the law. Ellicott gives the sense of the passage clearly, ‘The false teachers on the contrary, assuming that it was designed for the righteous man, urged their interpretations of it as necessary appendices to the Gospel.’
For the play on the word ‘law’ compare 2 Timothy 3:4; 2 Timothy 4:7, and better 1 Timothy 1:3; 1 Timothy 1:5, ‘charge,’ ‘charges.’
Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,9. knowing this] The A.V. putting a full stop after ‘lawfully’ gives an entirely wrong turn here; the R.V. puts a comma and inserts ‘as’ in order to shew the connexion of ‘knowing’ with ‘a man’; we may continue the above rendering rather more idiomatically, if it be handled as law should be and with the knowledge that.
the law is not made] There is no article, and we may with the R.V. translate, law is not made; not thereby drawing a marked distinction between ‘law’ here and ‘the law’ of Moses above, but following St Paul’s instinct of language, and by the omission drawing attention to the play on words or the antithesis intended, in a crisper and more proverbial way. This explanation will satisfy all the cases of omission of article before ‘law’ quoted by Winer from Galatians 2:21; Galatians 3:11; Galatians 3:18; Galatians 3:21; Galatians 4:5. Cf. Winer, § 19, Moulton n.; Lightfoot’s Gal. 11. 19. Here ‘law’ and ‘the lawless’ stand in sharper contrast without the article.
for a righteous man] By ‘righteous’ we may well understand one ‘who has his measure of fruit in holiness’ (Ellicott, quoting Hooker), in contrast to those who not only ignore the law as any check on their life, lawless, but are positively disobedient or unruly, delighting in open defiance of it; being ungodly, with no fear of God or sense of His presence before their mind; and sinners, marked as such by definite acts of sin (Luke 18:13), (2 Peter 1:6); (for the two words together compare Judges 15).
unholy] They are further breakers of the first and second commandments; the word describes the disregard of duty to God, and only occurs here and 2 Timothy 3:2; but the corresponding word for the performing of this duty occurs in 1 Timothy 2:8, ‘lifting up holy hands in worship.’
profane] breakers of the third and fourth commandments; the N. T. use of the word describes disregard of God’s day, Matthew 12:5; of God’s house, Acts 24:6; of God’s law and truth, 1 Timothy 4:7; 1 Timothy 6:20; 2 Timothy 2:16; of God’s name and birthright blessing, Hebrews 12:16.
murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers] breakers of the fifth commandment, cf. Exodus 21:15. In this and in the following words St Paul evidently singles out the worst breaches of the Jaw, his argument being ‘the law was meant to convict the vilest—you apply it to the holiest.’ Hence, we must keep the stronger meaning ‘parricide,’ though the Greek word by its proper derivation means ‘father-beater.’ When it came to have the meaning ‘parricide,’ a different derivation was also assigned to it and the spelling a little altered accordingly. For similar corruptions in English to fit a supposed derivation compare ‘reindeer,’ ‘causeway,’ ‘camel leopard.’
manslayers] breakers of the sixth commandment.
For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine;10. whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind] breakers of the seventh commandment.
menstealers] breakers of the eighth commandment, the grossest theft; punishable with death, Exodus 21:16, by the Mosaic code, as also among the Greeks.
perjured persons] breakers of the ninth commandment. Cf. Leviticus 19:12.
and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine] breakers of the tenth commandment as an inclusive summary embracing all sides and all aspects of each part of the duty to one’s neighbour, ‘not to covet nor desire other men’s goods, but to learn and labour truly to get mine own living and to do my duty.’ The mode of expression and the use of the particle are quite St Paul’s; cf. Romans 13:9, ‘and if there be any other commandment,’ Php 4:8, ‘if there be any virtue and any praise.’
sound doctrine] With R.V. render the sound doctrine. The word for ‘doctrine’ occurs 15 times in these epistles, against seven times in the rest of the N. T.; a mark that the original simple concrete word ‘teaching’ is gradually becoming the settled abstract term ‘doctrine.’ But it is still too soon for the idea of this general abstraction which is conveyed to our mind by the phrase ‘sound doctrine.’ The insertion of the article (according to the Greek) gives us just an English equivalent of the middle stage which the phrase has reached.
The nearest to the use of the Past. Epp. is Ephesians 4:14, where we ought to read ‘every wind of the doctrine,’ the article referring to all the work of apostles, prophets, evangelists and teachers just spoken of.
sound] ‘healthful,’ an epithet occurring with ‘doctrine’ or ‘words’ six times in these epistles and nowhere else; in contrast to a different form of error from any previously described, ‘the sickly (ch. 1 Timothy 6:4) and morbid (2 Timothy 2:17) teaching of Jewish gnosis,’ Ellicott.
According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.11. according to the glorious gospel] Rather with R.V. according to the gospel of the glory. How far back does St Paul look in ‘according to the gospel’? Surely through the whole passage since the last winding up at the end of 1 Timothy 1:3; just as the next passage winds up similarly at 1 Timothy 1:17. (The marking of the paragraphs in the R.V. throughout will be worth careful notice.) The charge to insist on sound teaching—the end of the charge, a life of love unselfish out of faith unfeigned, instead of a laboured law of mystic perfectionism—the sound teaching of those who (as he had written them word, Ephesians 4:11) were given them by Christ for the purpose—all this was ‘according to the gospel of the glory of God’: for the chief and surpassing glory of God was seen not in the law but in the person, the life of Jesus Christ.
the blessed God] The epithet seems added from the rush of personal feeling as the sense of the present love and mercy of Christ (never long absent) comes to him strongly in penning the words. It occurs again in 1 Timothy 6:15 in a similar passage.
And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry;12–17. Faithful Ministry. Timothy is further reminded of St Paul’s own Calling and Commission
12. This strong feeling quite accounts for the abruptness with which once again (after many other utterances of his own religious experiences) he claims ‘all the mercy’ and acknowledges ‘all the sin,’ and offers ‘all the service.’ We must omit ‘and,’ reading with R.V. I thank him that enabled me, even Christ Jesus our Lord.
The whole paragraph which follows is the drawing out of all that came into his mind as he wrote the Gospel—entrusted—to me. The ego at the end of the verse, so emphatic, is ample connexion, especially when the first word of the new sentence is ‘Thanks’:—‘To me—even to me; Jesus Christ be praised; He gave me pardon, He gave me work, He gave me strength.’
At the same time this statement of his own case is well fitted to carry on the two thoughts that have been in his mind, (1) the encouragement of Timothy to faithful ministry, (2) the saving and cheering power of the true doctrine compared with the condemning, despairing character of the law.
who hath enabled me] The aorist tense has the balance of authority here, and refers to the strength given, with and at the time of the commission. I thank him that enabled me, rather than ‘hath enabled me.’
faithful] i.e. after the time of preparation that followed his Conversion, the years of retirement in Arabia and at Tarsus, a.d. 36–44, he was judged to be ‘trusty,’ ‘trustworthy’; Barnabas ‘brought him to Antioch’ to be a ‘prophet and teacher,’ Acts 11:26; Acts 13:1, and then the Holy Spirit of Jesus said, ‘Separate me Saul and Barnabas for the work whereunto I have called them,’ Acts 13:2.
putting me into the ministry] Better appointing me for service. The present participle in English gives the exact force of the aorist here. ‘He shewed that He counted me faithful by giving me work.’
As to diakonia, ‘ministering,’ ‘service,’ ‘ministration,’ ‘ministry,’ are used by R.V. in different places; the other passage where ‘service’ is used being Hebrews 1:14, ‘ministering spirits sent forth to do service for the sake of them that shall inherit salvation.’ We may at any rate say that the noun could not have had, if we go by N. T. usage, so soon the formal meaning ‘the ministry,’ whatever definiteness the word diakonos, ‘minister, deacon,’ may have now obtained; see note, 1 Timothy 3:1; Int. pp. 15, 16, 18; App. C.
Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.13. who was before a blasphemer] A translation of the ace. masc. of the article taken with the participle. But the neuter of the article has the best support, and is taken with the adverb, giving it a slightly stronger force ‘during the former days’; while the participle has the concessive sense, though I was beforetime.
a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious] R.V. retains ‘injurious’ in spite of its having become a much weaker word since the 17th century, and so we have an anticlimax, whereas the Greek gives us a climax, the last word referring to deeds of outrage and contumely. Cf. Trench, N. T. Syn. § 29. In 1 Thessalonians 2:2 and three other places, we have the verb translated ‘shamefully entreated.’ Tyndal, Coverdale and Cranmer give ‘tyraunt.’ Translate, with Ellicott, a doer of outrage.
but I obtained mercy] howbeit, or ‘but still,’ gives a stronger force than simply ‘but.’ ‘He had not like the worse part of the blaspheming and persecuting Pharisees sinned against his better convictions, Mark 3:28-30; he had not deliberately set at nought the counsel of God, and defied Heaven to its face.’ Fairbairn.
And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.14. the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant] ‘Overflowed its wonted channels,’ and a stream of faith and love in me, having Jesus Christ for its source and life, flowed side by side with this full flood of grace and mercy. The removal of the comma by R.V. after ‘abundant’ leaves the force of the ‘with’ ambiguous, as though the grace abounded with faith. See St Matthew 27:34, ‘wine mingled with gall,’ 1 Timothy 6:6, ‘godliness with contentment,’ for this full force of the preposition.
This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.15. This is a faithful saying] More exactly, Faithful is the saying, ‘gravissima praefandi formula, says Bengel; the first of five occurrences in these epistles, where only it is found, 1 Timothy 3:1, 1 Timothy 4:9; 2 Timothy 2:11; Titus 3:8. With it we may compare Revelation 21:5, and our Lord’s ‘Verily, verily I say unto you.’ The special weight of each maxim or practical instruction thus introduced is examined in Appendix, E. See also Introduction, ch. iii. ii. 1 c, p. 30.
faithful] That is, trustworthy and claiming implicit credit; more than merely ‘true,’ which is the rendering in the P. Bk. Communion Service, ‘This is a true saying and worthy of all men to be received;’ worthy of all acceptation, of every kind and degree, as there is no article with ‘all’; to be received with every mark of regard and welcome, of confidence and affection.
What is the truth thus heralded? ‘Christ Jesus as God in heaven; Christ Jesus come to this earth to save sinners; Christ Jesus come to save me the chief of sinners.’ It is this personal dealing of the Saviour with the single soul, the personal laying hold by the separate soul of the Saviour’s love and pardon, which is so specially precious to St Paul and gives new lustre to the jewel, the simple creed.
of whom I am chief] am, shewing his abiding sense of his sinfulness, and this at the close of his life, when he could say ‘I have fought the good fight, I have kept the faith, &c.’
‘And they who fain would serve Thee best
Are conscious most of wrong within.’
Cf. 1 Corinthians 15:9. So in Acts 22:4; Acts 22:19; Acts 26:9, he takes every opportunity of referring with express self-condemnation to his past life.
Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.16. Howbeit] A characteristic re-assertion with a new antithesis, ‘Yes, I am indeed chief of sinners, but still I received mercy on this account, that I might also be chief exemplar of Jesus Christ’s all-patience.’
Translate with R.V. that in me as chief (i.e. of sinners) might Jesus Christ shew forth all his longsuffering.
in me] ‘in my case,’ as in Galatians 1:16, ‘it pleased God to reveal His Son in me,’ ‘to shew the Saviour’s power in my conversion,’ Galatians 1:24, ‘they glorified God in me.’
all longsuffering] The longer form of the Greek word ‘all’ should be read, though only once used otherwise by St Paul, Ephesians 6:13; the position of the article coming before the ‘all’ is very unusual in N. T. and suggests the translation proposed by Dr Vaughan, ‘His all-patience,’ cf. Galatians 5:14, ‘The whole law.’ Winer, § 17. 10.
might shew forth] The right translation in our idiom of the subjunctive, which Hellenistic Greek uses for the optative when it would naturally follow the past tense, ‘received mercy,’ cf. 1 Timothy 1:20; the verb ‘shew forth’ is middle, as always in N. T.; its force ‘shew forth as His attribute.’
for a pattern to] R.V. for an ensample of them which should hereafter believe. According to the use of the word in the only place where it occurs besides, 2 Timothy 1:13, ‘the pattern of sound words,’ the phrase ought to be a simpler one ‘for a pattern of believers,’ and the longer form is substituted at the moment of writing. And it is not quite as Bengel puts it with emphasis on ‘belief,’ ‘si credis ut Paulus salvabere ut Paulus,’ but ‘etiamsi peccaveris ut Paulus, ut Paulo poena tibi differetur, locum habebis poenitentiae ut Paulus.’
to life everlasting] We may shew better how this word is taken up, and with a turn of meaning suggests the form of the ascription, by rendering unto life eternal: and to the King of the eternal … be honour and glory onto all eternity.
“ ‘Life eternal” is the divine life, the life that is’; ‘not an endless duration of being in time, but being of which time is not a measure.’ Westcott on 1 John 1:2; 1 John 5:20.
In St John’s use, the present living ‘in Christ,’ spiritual religion, is meant almost entirely to be emphasised, e.g. John 3:15; John 5:24; 1 John 1:2; 1 John 5:13.
In St Paul’s use this is certainly so too in one passage, 1 Timothy 6:12, where Timothy is now by a distinct effort and act (aorist imperative) to ‘lay hold’ of ‘the eternal life’; that is, ‘the special Messianic gift brought by Christ,’ described (according to the true reading) in 1 Timothy 6:19 as ‘the life which is life indeed,’ and in Ephesians 4:18 as ‘the life of God.’ So perhaps here, though probably more often St Paul’s use of the phrase looks to the development of this life still future, e.g. Romans 2:7; Romans 6:22, ‘and the end life eternal.’ The phrase ‘King of the eternal,’ lit. ‘King of the ages,’ covers both uses: God is King and Giver of Life in all the cycles and stages of development through which the world and all in it pass.
This connexion of the phrases makes it probable that this allusive title of God ‘King of the eternal’ is left thus, strong and complete, and that the following epithets belong to the new title, making a climax the incorruptible, invisible, only God (not as A.V. and R.V.). The epithet ‘wise’ has not sufficient ms. authority here or in Jude 25.
Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.17. honour and glory] This combination by itself is only found here. St Paul uses ‘glory’ with the article generally.
Such an ascription is with St Paul a most characteristic close of passages which are the evident outburst of strong warm feeling excited by some particular train of thought.
This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare;18–20. Faithful Ministry. Timothy is further reminded of the fall of some false Teachers
18. This charge] From note on 1 Timothy 1:5 we shall see no difficulty in the reference of the words here. St Paul has put ‘the charge’ of which he is full in two different ways in 3–11 and 12–17; he puts it now in another in 18–20. The pronoun ‘this’ should refer according to its proper usage to something already set forth rather than to something new; and so we may paraphrase, ‘This is my charge to teach the old simple truths, with a heart and life that retain still the old penitent gratitude and devotion; I trust to you this life and work, as a precious jewel; so precious that to guard and keep it you must be never off duty, always Christ’s faithful soldier and servant.’
Song of Solomon Timothy] As in 1 Timothy 1:2, my child Timothy.
the prophecies which went before on thee] “The allusion is to prophecies uttered, as is supposed, at or before his ordination, given then for the purpose of encouraging the Church to make, and Timothy to accept the appointment, in view perhaps of his extreme youth, and possibly also slender frame: prophecies of the arduous nature of the work and of Divine aid in it.” Fairbairn. They were utterances at Lystra by Silas (cf. Acts 15:32) and others of the ‘prophets’ of the N.T., spoken under the influence of the Holy Spirit, as in St Paul’s own case at Antioch, Acts 13:2; ‘forth-tellings’ of the Divine Will, to which St Paul refers partly as warranting him in his appointment of so young a man to so important a charge, partly as encouraging Timothy himself to brave effort. Cf. 1 Timothy 4:14; and Introduction, pp. 16, 58. The marginal rendering of R.V. ‘which led the way to thee,’ i.e. “the premonitions of the Holy Spirit which pointed to thee” modifies, as Bp Ellicott, unnecessarily the simple meaning both of noun and verb.
a good warfare] Rather render the whole clause that in them thou mayest war the good warfare; in them as his heavenly armour—to ward off scorn from without and doubt from within.
Compare the well-known hymn, translating St Paul’s previous call to arms in his letter to the same parts, Ephesians 6.
Stand then in His great might
With all His strength endued,
And take to arm you for the fight
The panoply of God.
Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck: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.’
Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme.20. Hymeneus and Alexander] The name Hymenæus occurs again in 2 Timothy 2:17, and being uncommon and used in both places of an heretical person in the same locality may fairly be taken as referring to the same person; the heresy condemned is practically the same; ‘the profane babblings’ there representing the ‘vain talking’ of 1 Timothy 1:6 here, which is plainly echoed in 1 Timothy 1:19—the test of orthodoxy being ‘faith and a good conscience.’
The name Alexander also occurs again in 2 Timothy 4:14; but being common, and having a distinguishing addition there ‘the coppersmith,’ and referring rather to a personal enemy of St Paul than to a heretic, may more probably refer to a different person, possibly the Alexander of Acts 19:33. Fairbairn adds reasonably ‘in the 2nd Epistle Philetus not Alexander is associated with Hymenæus, and Alexander is mentioned alone and apparently as a worker of evil, not at Ephesus but in Rome, though it is possible enough he may have belonged to the region of Asia.’
whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn] The exact force of the tense is whom I delivered; of the mood, that they might be disciplined. In the N. T. the later usage holds of the subjunctive following the past tense instead of the optative and our idiom requires ‘might.’ A definite time and act of ‘delivering’ is thus seen to be referred to, explained by some ancient and modern commentators as being excommunication; e.g. Theod. Mops., Latin Version, “ecclesiae alienationem ‘traditionem Satanae’ vocans”; by others as the judicial infliction of bodily sickness or calamity, such as the blindness inflicted upon Elymas by St Paul, Acts 13:11; by Ellicott and Fairbairn, as both combined. “The term” says Wordsworth (on 1 Corinthians 5:5, where the phrase is the same) “appears to have had its origin from consideration of the fact that physical evil is due to the agency of the Evil Spirit; cf. Job 2:6; Luke 13:16 : Matthew 8:30-32 (add 2 Corinthians 12:7 ‘a messenger of Satan’). But St Paul states the aim and end of the sentence of excommunication against the incestuous Corinthian to be that by the punishment of the flesh, and consequent mortification of the fleshly lusts and appetites, ‘his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord’; so in the case of Hymenæus and Alexander; and generally his spiritual weapons are given him for edification and not for destruction. Cf. 2 Corinthians 10:8.”
may learn] might be disciplined; the verb, meaning properly ‘to train,’ ‘educate,’ as in Acts 7:22, is generally used of ‘training by chastisement,’ ‘correcting’; cf. 1 Corinthians 11:32, ‘when we are judged we are chastened of the Lord,’ where the reference is to the sickness and death sent as chastisement for the desecration of the Lord’s Table. Compare the old English use of ‘teach’ in Jdg 8:16, ‘he took the thorns of the wilderness and briars, and with them he taught the men of Succoth.’ Cf. the striking use in Luke 23:16, ‘I will therefore chastise him and let him go.’