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 (Thessalonians, Timothy, and Titus)
Lesson 13 Ministry of the Appeal (1Tim 1:1-20)
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Lesson 13

I.       Observation

A.     Outline

Greetings (1:1-2)

Timothy’s Task (1:3-11)

Suppression of false teachers (3-7)

The purpose of the law (8-11)

Paul’s Thanksgiving and Testimony (1:12-17)

Charge to Timothy (1:18-20)

B.     Key Words/Phrases

God our Savior, doctrine, disputes, love from a pure heart, good conscience, sincere faith, law, sound doctrine, gospel, commit, ministry, mercy, grace…exceedingly abundant, Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, a pattern to those who are going to believe, charge, wage the good warfare.

II.    General Analysis

1. Paul’s testimony is about how God has chosen him by grace and committed the ministry of the gospel to his trust (11). Because of the ministry that has been entrusted to him, Paul has the responsibility to defend the sound doctrine. Therefore, he charges Timothy, his assistant in the ministry, to carry out this very task in Ephesus.

III. Segment Analysis

1. Paul is an apostle, sent to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. His apostleship is by the commandment (literally “by order”) of God and the Lord Jesus Christ. His ministry does not originate from himself or any other man. He understands that he has received this divine order from God Himself, and he must faithfully carry out this most noble and solemn commission.

2. He will come again to transform our lowly bodies into glorious bodies and bring us to the eternal heavenly home (Jn 14:3; Php 3:20-21; Col 3:4; 1Thess 1:10; 4:16-17; Heb 9:27-28; 1Jn 3:2). This is our ultimate hope, and this hope rests solely on Him because He is our only Savior.

3a. True son in the faith (1Tim 1:2; cf. 1Cor 4:17; Php 2:22). Paul also addresses Titus in the same way. Tit 1:4).

3b. This term may imply that Timothy was a convert of Paul’s ministry. It also demonstrates the intimate relationship between Paul and the young preacher that he helped to groom. Just as many things in the world can bring people together (eg, common interests, common race etc), a common faith and commission can be the basis of a strong relationship as deep as that between father and son.

4a. See verses 3 and 4.

4b. Paul is concerned that the false teachers will mislead the believers and shake their faith. Engagement in fables, endless genealogies, and idle talk cause disputes rather than godly edification.

4c. When we study the Word of God, we must refrain from being carried away by topics or issues that are irrelevant to our faith. We should not promote debates on subject matters that are speculative and have no bearing on the truth. Instead, we ought to encourage and exhort one another with love in order to edify each other’s faith.

5a. In a narrow sense, this commandment may refer to the charge mentioned in verse 3. But if we understand the word in a broader sense to refer to the sum of all of God’s commandments, then the verse means that the purpose of all Christian teachings is love.

5b. Paul wanted people who teach others to do so out of love from a pure heart, from a good conscience and from sincere faith. They should not have selfish motives but teach out of genuine love that is based on the truth. Only such teachings can bring true edification to the listeners.

6. The conscience is the God-given ability to discern right and wrong (cf. Rom 2:15). It urges us to do good and condemns us when we do wrong (cf. Jn 8:9; Acts 2:37). However, if we insist on doing wrong, our conscience can become seared and defiled (cf. 1Tim 4:2; Tit 1:15). But a good conscience is one that is without offense toward God and is quickened by the word of God (Acts 24:16; cf. Heb 4:2-13; 1Jn 3:21-22).

7. They are ignorant of what they say or affirm. Their motive for teaching is selfish (7). They simply desire to be teachers but do not have love from a pure heart, a good conscience, and sincere faith.

8a. The purpose of the law is to condemn sinners and their evil deeds (9-10; Rom 3:20; 7:7).

8b. In an effort to place themselves in positions of authority, these teachers impose unnecessary restrictions on believers (cf. 4:1-3). Apparently, they are teaching believers that they need to obtain righteousness through the law.

9. He thanks Christ Jesus for His salvation and for putting him into the ministry even though he was the chief of sinners.

10. A blasphemer, a persecutor of Christians, an insolent man, the chief of sinners.

11. As he writes about the ministry Christ has committed to him (11), he is reminded of the immense grace he has received from the Lord, and his heart of gratitude is stirred. He wants to highlight the exceedingly abundant grace of Christ showered upon him, as he was no mere unbeliever, but a persecutor of Christ. This is a classic illustration of grace, where a totally unworthy person, one reckoned to be the chief of sinners, received not only salvation, but also the entrusting of the ministry.

12. Paul, the chief of sinner, received mercy so that in him first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life (16).

13. Christ is willing to accept and save sinners today, just as He had accepted Paul in the past. No one is too sinful for the Lord’s acceptance. Paul’s example can be used as an encouragement to those who remain doubtful that Christ will accept them. Likewise, this is also a reminder to us not to judge anyone based on their conduct and conclude that they would never receive the mercy and salvation of God.

14. As Paul recounts his sinful past and the Lord’s mercy, he is filled with thanksgiving and praise. He is thus moved to offer a prayer to exalt God in the highest.

15. The false teachers teach justification by keeping the law. But the gospel teaches that sinners cannot possibly attain salvation by good works. While the law condemns sinners, Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. The only way to receive eternal life is to come to God for mercy and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.

16. Paul never forgets that he is a sinner saved by grace. In fact, he acknowledges that he is the chief of sinners. Because he realizes how undeserving he is, he is always deeply moved by the love and mercy of God. He also understands the necessity of bringing the gospel of salvation to the world, for that is the very purpose that he has obtained mercy. Therefore, he treasures the ministry that has been committed to him and is continually motivated to carry out his commission.

 In the same way, we would be constantly inspired by God’s love if we realize how wretched we would be without Christ’s salvation and how undeserving we are to obtain God’s mercy. If we truly value God’s wonderful plan of salvation and understand that God has chosen us and entrusted to us the ministry of the gospel, we will surely dedicate our lives to the ministry.

17. Paul expects Timothy to wage the good warfare. Timothy must fight the spiritual battle for the truth, guarding the sound doctrine and combating all false doctrines.

18. Timothy was equipped with faith and a good conscience whereas the false teachers such as Hymanaeus and Alexander had strayed away from a good conscience. Hence, the false teachers propagated false teachings out of an ulterior motive, for personal gain and not necessarily because they sincerely understood or believed what they taught (1Tim 1:5-7 ; 2 Tim 2:16-18).

All of our preaching and service must come from faith and a good conscience rather than selfish ambition. As we search the truth sincerely and out of faith, seeking the will of God rather than the praise of men, we will surely know the truth and be deeply convicted. Only if we teach the truth from God with such a genuine understanding and conviction can we be true ministers of God’s word.

19. Just as a shipwreck destroys a ship and renders it useless, zeal without faith and a good conscience is destructive to our faith and renders us worthless before God.

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