Confraternity Bible: New Testament and Supplemental Commentary

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1 TIMOTHY - Chapter 1

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1 Timothy 1

Supplemental Commentary:


This Epistle, like 2 Timothy contains instructions for Paul's beloved disciple, Timothy, whom the Apostle had left at Ephesus to handle a very serious situation.  Certain teachers had gained authority in the Christian community and were working to introduce a false asceticism, in which appeared Jewish practices concerning distinctions of legally clean or unclean food.  There also appeared certain Phrygian influences which would lead to the prohibition of marriage.  Underlying their practices was a dualistic mysticism, holding the existence of a supreme Good and a supreme Evil, the latter being identified with matter.  Pride and avarice were joined in the teachers, who disturbed families, particularly by their influence over women.

To his anxiety for the Church is joined in the Apostle the fear (in great part subjective) that Timothy because of his youth, natural timidity and delicate health will not correct the evils and exert his authority against these teachers with the full vigor that the situation demands.  This attitude towards Timothy accounts for the urgent tone of the letter, as also for the lack of order in developing the various points.

Introduction  1, 1 f

1, 1-2:  Greeting.  Though writing to his own disciple, Paul, because of the seriousness of the situation, feels that he must insist on his divine appointment to the apostleship.  God our Savior: a title applied to God Himself only in the Pastoral Epistles of St. Paul, in St. Luke 1, 47, and in St. Jude 25; elsewhere in the New Testament it is reserved to Jesus.  In the Old Testament the phrase is frequently applied to the Lord.  Christ is not so much the object of our hope as its author by the Redemption.    2.  Grace, mercy and peace: a formula peculiar to St. Paul's writings to Timothy.  The mercy is manifestly the mercy of God, which is the principle of salvation.  This formula is found also in 2 John 1.3.


1, 3-7:  Timothy's Mission at Ephesus.  This section has one of the characteristics of the Pauline writings.  He here begins a sentence, which is left unfinished grammatically, and does not resume his thought until 2, 1.  All of 1 is a digression or lengthy parenthesis.  The purpose of St. Timothy's mission is to repress the lying teachers and triumphantly establish the true gospel ideal, which is charity in a pure heart and a good conscience and an unfeigned faith.  This is the theme of the entire letter.

3.  We suppose that St. Paul was released from prison at the period indicated at the close of the Acts of the Apostles and that he visited Ephesus on his way to Macedonia.    4.  The genealogies are legends built up around biblical characters.    5.  The charge is Timothy's commission to handle the situation at Ephesus.  Unfeigned faith: an expression deliberately chosen to set off the unmixed faith, which is in Christ alone, from the mixed faith of the false teachers adulterated by Jewish and other practices.

1, 8-11:  Role of the Law.  A digression to clear up the point insisted on by the false teachers in their false conception of the Mosaic Law and its part in the Christian life, for they posed as doctors of the Law.  We should expect such an error in Ephesus where the Jewish colony was fairly large as Acts 17-20 shows.    9.  The sense is that the Law is not framed primarily for good people but for sinners; the list here is not complete.    11.  Gospel of glory: the gospel has as its subject matter as well as its purpose the glory of God.  Blessed or "happy" as an epithet of God, while current in Homer and Hesiod, is found nowhere else in the Bible.

1, 12-17:  The Apostle's Own Life.  A new digression connected with the mention of the gospel by association of ideas or even of words.  The thoughts he presents show him to be an attentive and reflective observer, and the passage is so personal that it guarantees the authenticity of the Epistle.    16.  Mercy recalls the greeting in 1, 2.  God's mercy was manifest in His calling Paul to the office of Apostle, though formerly Paul had been a most bitter adversary of Christianity.

1, 18-20:  Fidelity to Vocation.  Timothy's mission is difficult, but to inspire confidence in the young disciple, the Apostle recalls to him certain prophecies about him, because of which the presbyterium, or college of priests, imposed hands on him.  Timothy appears to have been designated in the name of the Holy Spirit as co-laborer of St. Paul by inspired discourses pronounced by Christian prophets.  It reminds one of the scene recorded in the Acts of the Apostles 13, 1-3, where St. Paul himself, with Barnabas, was pointed out by the Holy Spirit to preach the gospel to the Gentiles.    20.  Hymeneus is mentioned again in 2 Tim. 2, 17, in connection with Philetus, as among those in error about the resurrection of the dead.  It is not certain that this Alexander is the coppersmith of whom Paul complains in 2 Tim. 4, 14.  The chastisement, inflicted doubtless on the occasion of his visit to Ephesus, is excommunication, as is suggested by the parallel found in 1 Cor. 5, 4 f.

Confraternity Bible:

Greeting  1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the order of God our Savior, and of Christ Jesus our hope, 2 to Timothy, his beloved son in the faith: grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Christ Jesus our Lord.

Timothy's Mission at Ephesus  3 When I went to Macedonia, I asked thee to stay on at Ephesus that thou mightest charge some not to teach novel doctrines, 4 and not to study fables and endless genealogies which beget controversies rather than godly edification, which is in the faith.  5 Now the purpose of this charge is charity, from a pure heart and a good conscience and faith unfeigned.  6 Some going astray from these things have turned aside to vain babbling, 7 desiring to be teachers of the Law, when they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertion.

Role of the Law  8 But we know that the Law is good, if a man uses it rightly, 9 knowing that the Law is not made for the just, but for the unjust and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for criminals and the defiled, for parricides and matricides, for murderers, 10 for immoral people, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine, 11 according to the gospel of the glory of the blessed God, which has been committed to my trust.

The Apostle's Own Life  12 I give thanks to Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because he counted me trustworthy in making me his minister.  13 For I formerly was a blasphemer, a persecutor and a bitter adversary; but I obtained the mercy of God because I acted ignorantly, in unbelief.  14 Indeed, the grace of our Lord has abounded beyond measure in the faith and love that is in Christ Jesus.  15 This saying is true and worthy of entire acceptance, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the chief.  16 But for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Christ Jesus might show forth all patience, as an example to those who shall believe in him for the attainment of life everlasting.  17 To the King of the ages, who is immortal, invisible, the one only God, be honor and glory forever and ever.  Amen.

Fidelity to Vocation  18 I commit to thee this charge, my son Timothy, that according to the prophecies once made concerning thee, thou mayest fight the good fight by means of them, 19 having faith and a good conscience.  Some rejecting this have made shipwreck of the faith, 20* among whom are Hymeneus and Alexander, whom I have delivered up to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.


20: Delivered up to Satan: this expression means excommunication.