1 Timothy 1:1-10

1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope;

[Paul an apostle - by the commandment of God] The term apostle literally signifies a person sent from one to another, without implying any particular dignity in the person or importance in the message. But it is differently used in the New Testament, being applied to those who were sent expressly from God Almighty, with the message of salvation to mankind. It is, therefore, the highest character any human being can have; and the message is the most important which even God himself can send to his intellegent creatures. It was by the express command of God that the apostle Paul went to the gentiles preaching the doctrine of salvation by faith in Christ Jesus.

[Jesus Christ - our hope] Without Jesus, the world was hopeless; the expectation of being saved can only come to mankind by his gospel. He is called our hope as he is called our life, our peace, our righteousness, etc.; because from him hope, peace, righteousness, and all other blessings proceed.

2 Unto Timothy, my own son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.

[My own son in the faith] Brought to salvation through Christ by my ministry alone. Probably the apostle speaks here according to this jewish maxim: He who teaches the law to his neighbor's son is considered by the Scripture as if he had begotten him; Sanhedrin, fol. 19:2.

[In the faith] The word faith is taken here for the whole of the Christian religion, faith in Christ being it's essential characteristic.

[Grace, mercy and peace] Grace, the favor and approbation of God. Mercy, springing from that grace, pardoning, purifying and supporting. Peace, the consequence of this manifested mercy, peace of conscience, and peace with God; producing internal happiness, quietness and assurance.

3 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,

[I besought thee] The apostle had seen that a bad seed had been sown in the Church; and, as he was obliged to go then into Macedonia, he wished Timothy, on whose prudence, piety and soundness in the faith he could depend, to stay behind and prevent the spreading of a doctrine that would have been pernicious to the people's souls. I have already supposed that this epistle was written after Paul had been delivered from his first imprisonment at Rome, about the end of the year 64, or the beginning of 65. When, therefore, the apostle came from Rome into Asia, he no doubt visited Ephesus, where ten years before, he had planted a Christian church, and, as he had not time to tarry then, he left Timothy to correct abuses.

[That thou mightest charge some] He does not name any persons; the Judaizing teachers are generally supposed to be those intended; and the term some, certain persons, which he uses, is expressive of high disapprobation, and at the same time, of delicacy: they were not apostles, nor apostolic men; but they were undoubtedly members of the Church at Ephesus, and might yet be reclaimed.

4 Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do.

[Neither give heed to fables] Idle fancies; ideas of no value; unauthenticated doctrines and opinions; silly legends.

[Endless genealogies] I suppose the apostle to mean those genealogies which were uncertain - that never could be made out, either in the ascending or descending line; and, principally, such as referred to the great promise of the Messiah, and to the priesthood. The Jews had scrupulously preserved their genealogical tables till the advent of Christ; and the evangelists had recourse to them, and appealed to them in reference to our Lord's descent from the house of David; Matthew taking this genealogy in the descending, Luke in the ascending, line. And whatever difficulties we may now find in these genealogies, they were certainly clear to the Jews; nor did the most determined enimies of the Gospel attempt to raise one objection to it from the appeal which the evangelists had made to their own public and accredited tables.

All was then certain; but we are told that Herod destroyed the public registers: he, being an Idumean, was jealous of the noble origin of the Jews; and, that none might be able to reproach him with his descent, he ordered the genealogical tables, which were kept among the archives of the temple, to be burnt. From this time the Jews could refer to their genealogies only from memory, or from those imperfect tables which had been preserved in private hands; and to make out any regular line from these must have been endless and uncertain.

[Which minister questions] They are the foundations of endless altercations and disputes; for, being uncertain and not consecutive, every person had a right to call them in question.

[Rather than godly edifying] Many, no doubt, spent much time inquiring about who were their ancestors, which they should have spent in obtaining that grace by which, by being born from above, they might have become the sons and daughters of God Almighty.

What had jewish genealogies to do with the gospel? Men were not saved by virtue of the privileges or piety of their ancestors. The Jews depended much on this. We have Abraham to our father imposed silence on every check of conscience and every godly reproof which they received for their profligcy and unbelief. Faith in Christ Jesus is the only means and way of salvation. These endless and uncertain genealogies produced no faith. It was not by natural descent, not by works, but by faith in Christ; therefore it was necesssary that the people who were seeking salvation in any other way should be strictly informed that all their toil and labor would be in vain.

5 Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned:

These genealogical questions led to strife and debate; and the dispensation of God leads to love both to God and man, through faith in Christ. These genealogical questions leave the heart under the influence of all it's vile tempers and evil propensities; Faith in Jesus purifies the heart. No inquiry of this kind can add to any thing by which the guilt of sin can be taken away; but the Gospel proclaims pardon, through the blood of the lamb, to every believing penitent. The end, aim and design of God in giving this dispensation to the world is that men may have an unfeigned faith, such as lays hold on Christ crucified, and produces a good conscience from a sense of the pardon received, and leads to purity of heart; Love to God and man being the grand issue of the grace of Christ here below, and this fully preparing the soul for eternal glory. He whose soul is filled with love to God and man has a pure heart, good conscience and unfeigned faith. But these blessings no soul can ever acquire but according to God's dispensation of faith.

6 From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling;

From which some, though they have pretended to aim at the mark have missed that mark. A great many words and litle sense, and that sense is not worth the pains of hearing. Such, indeed, is all preaching where Jesus Christ is not held forth.

7 Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm.

To be esteemed or celebrated as rabbins; to be reputed cunning in solving knotty questions and enigmas, which answered no end to true religion.

8 But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully;

The law, as given by God, is both good in itself and has a good tendancy. That is, interpret it according to its own spirit and design, and use it for the purpose for which God has given it; for the ceremonial law was a schoolmaster to lead us unto Christ, and Christ is the end of the law for justification to everyone that believes.

9 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,
10 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;

There is a moral law as well as a ceremonial law: as the object of the latter is to lead us to Christ, the object of the former is to restrain crimes and inflict punishment on those that commit them. It was, therefore, not made for the righteous as a restrainer of crimes and an inflicter of punishments; for the righteous avoid sin, and by living to the glory of God expose not themselves to its censures.

Historical information drawn from Adam Clarke's Commentary, 2nd edition published in New York by Lane and Scott, 1850. More recent editions may be purchased from


This page updated 09/12/2008

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