Paul, as we have come to recognize, opens with a greeting, however, according to J.Vernon McGee, this greeting is different.
Here is an example of one of Paul’s typical greetings.
Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;) And all the brethren which are with me, unto the churches of Galatia: Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ, (Galatians 1:1-3 KJV)
In Galatians, the manner in which Paul was made an apostle, is not defined outside of saying that this apostleship was not of man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father.
To be honest, until I read McGee’s commentary I had no idea that this was an issue.
What I did see was this line, “Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.” For me, this is the pattern that I pay attention to. Having learned that 1 Timothy 1:1-2 intentionally conveys a much deeper meaning intrigues me.
While I still see the line, “Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord,” Paul opened his letter to Timothy with an explicit statement about why he is an apostle, and he does this by telling us that this apostleship was according to the commandment of God.
1 Timothy 1:1-2 NASB Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus according to the commandment of God our Savior, and of Christ Jesus, who is our hope, (2) To Timothy, my true child in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
Dr. J. Vernon McGee tells us: “The introduction to 1 Timothy is unlike any other in Paul’s epistles. Perhaps you had come to the conclusion that they were all the same, but the introductions to the Pastoral Epistles are a little different. Dr. Marvin R. Vincent has said that the salutation in 1 Timothy as a whole has no parallel in Paul.” To Timothy, he writes, “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God.” But in Ephesians 1:1 he says “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God,“.
Not being a theologian I operate rather simply and clearly, I see a difference between the personal letter to Timothy and the general address to the church that resides in Galatia. My presumption is that Timothy, more than others, like Barnabas, would have known of Paul’s qualifications to be an apostle, because Paul, being so close to Timothy, would have told him. (He calls him a son.)
In writing this, I am reminded of the pompous religious attitudes we developed in the church that may not have been present at the time of Paul’s writing. In other words, it meant something when Paul said, I am an apostle of Jesus Christ.
Considering that the word apostle merely means one sent, or a sent one; then yes, it is quite possible that much was said to Paul, by Jesus, that day on the road to Damascus, including I will send you. Since we, and I include Timothy, are all broken humans, then even this young man could have been prone to doubts and challenges.
As usual, my examination of simple words may seem unnecessary but look at the variation in uses of the word will.
The word “will” is the Greek word thelēma. It also means a determination, a choice, purpose, decree, inclination, and desire.
The general idea is that these choices would come from God, however, the word thelēma is not specific and leaves the door open to what we think is human desire; that is unless something is added to the sentence that directs us to consider a God-oriented inclination.
McGee continues: “Now what is the difference between the commandment and the will of God? The will of God and the commandment of God are the same, yet they are not exactly synonymous. All the commandments which you will find in the Bible reveal the will of God.
This would include much more than the Ten Commandments.”
By way of example, in 1 Thessalonians we are told that:
“Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1Th 5:17-18).
The word will, as seen in 1 Th 5:17-18, is the Greek word thelēma and means a determination, a specific purpose, a decree.
“There are many things which are the will of God, and they are expressed in His commandments.” J. Vernon McGee.
Isn’t this precisely what we see in 1Th 5:17-18?
The word commandment as we found in 1 Timothy 1:1, is the Greek word epitagē and means an injunction or decree; by implication authoritativeness.
Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past, but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith; (Romans 16:25-26 NASB)
Paul according to the CJB translation, articulates Romans 16:25-26, in this manner, “but manifested now through prophetic writings, in keeping with the command of God the Eternal.” So, we are merely keeping the existing commands.
One of the points that Paul makes is this:
- According to the commandment of the eternal God.
So, we too have received the commandment, just as Paul did. As we will see, Paul urged Timothy to stay on at Ephesus, for the purpose of withstanding some teachers that were going off track, preaching something other than what Paul had taught.
Here it is Tuesday evening, July 28, 2020, and I just had a conversation with my wife how I am not Pastor JD Farag or Pastor Jack Hibbs, I am me, and I do things just a shade differently. A short time later we came home from having ice cream and I started watching Pastor JD Farag and he is teaching on this very scripture. The title of his message is, Sharing the truth in love.
To be honest, I didn’t think about this aspect of what Paul was asking Timothy to do.
My current Pastor introduced himself to the church as a recovering pharisee.
Aren’t we all?
As such, I know that I have to choose, at times, to set aside the rage that wants to flare inside me. I also know that I could easily dish out religious legalism. I know this because there is a piece of me that wants to unleash on Christians who choose to believe the lies going on around them, instead of trusting Jesus Christ to bring them through this COVID 19 garbage. This unleashing has rage attached to it, and I, as I write this, am not sure I could restrain myself if I had to do what Paul was asking Timothy to do.
Now, try pushing yourself into Timothy’s situation.
I can see Paul raking some brother over the coals, and not having much in the way of regret over the repercussions. That may not be true, but it is often the impression you get, especially when some rambunctious preacher gets done with you.
I said all that to say, I would not be comfortable withstanding some jerk. I say this because I have had incidents at church, where I was told NOT to teach, read, or talk about eschatology. Clearly, this so-called pastoral person was flying in the face of Paul’s teachings. If you are a Pastor and have done this to someone, you should be on your knees before God repenting; and then, go to the person you have harmed and ask them to forgive you, for being a __________, (you fill in the blank.)
And that brings me to verses 3,4.
1 Timothy 1:3-4 CJB As I counseled you when I was leaving for Macedonia, stay on in Ephesus, so that you may order certain people who are teaching a different doctrine to stop. (4) Have them stop devoting their attention to myths and never-ending genealogies; these divert people to speculating instead of doing God’s work, which requires trust.
This statement then, about how this apostleship comes as a commandment from God, might have been a necessary boost for Timothy, as he may have had to convince these people of Paul’s qualifications to teach, and therefore his own authority to address some flagrant teacher – not everyone is willing to accept the mere fact that you are saying, Paul, told me to do this.
The CJB calls it “teaching a different doctrine,” while the KJV tells us – that they teach no other doctrine.
The phrase different doctrine is seen in the NASB as (teach strange doctrines) is the Greek word heterodidaskaleō. This Greek word is repeated three times to create the phrase different or strange doctrines when it means to teach other or different doctrine or to deviate from the truth.
Look at what Paul is telling Timothy to do (I am not sure here whether this is a request or an order,).
“order certain people who are teaching a different doctrine to stop.”
For a very short time, I attended a Saturday night Bible study. The man who led this study is a member of the church I attend, but since everyone comes from somewhere else, and often under duress, this man’s story was not so dissimilar. In other words, he brought his own baggage with him. After several weeks of questionable teachings, he started talking about the multiple layers of hell. He opened the floor to questions and so I took him to the scriptures that refute what he just taught. He seemed flustered and undone, but he had asked. The following meeting (we met every other week,) this man denounced me before the entire group and, he included a lady who had also challenged something he said. Not having the ability to receive correction, he told us that what we brought up were little more than minor doctrinal issues and not be discussed in an open group setting. I never went back.
Paul defines these strange doctrines by saying:
- Do not deviate from the truth.
- To not pay attention to myths.
- And to pay no attention to endless genealogies.
Knowing full well that what he has asked Timothy to do could turn into a disaster, Paul gives this guidance.
1 Timothy 1:5 NASB But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.
“But the goal of our instruction …” When Paul says this, it includes the original word that was given as well.
As time has progressed we have developed a broader picture of who Paul was and therefore, we get to see an assumed manner in which he preached, and it is not what we would have expected.
By his own words, we see this.
“Now I, Paul, myself urge you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ–I who am meek when face to face with you, but bold toward you when absent! I ask that when I am present I need not be bold with the confidence with which I propose to be courageous against some, who regard us as if we walked according to the flesh.”
(2 Corinthians 10:1-2 NASB)
Paul uses the word meek. Many associate this word with humility.
Webster’s dictionary tells us that to be humbled is to “be made low; abased; rendered meek and submissive; penitent.” One might be able to see this person as a slave.
Meek, on the other hand, is a position that we submit to.
The dictionary says: to be meek is to be mild of temper; not easily provoked or irritated; yielding; given to forbearance under injuries. Meekness is an act of the will.
One of the reasons a scenario like this has the potential for going wrong comes from the receiving end, as you have to be teachable.
The reality is that those who are in opposition to your teaching, probably already believe that you are wrong, or that you are a false teacher. Some, especially those with Theology degrees (I speak from experience,) feel they are superior because of their education and are unwilling to hear what you are going to say and can often be combative. In light of the potential for a combative moment, then it is absolutely necessary to approach the issue with love from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith.
1 Timothy 1:6 NASB For some men, straying from these things, have turned aside to fruitless discussion,
The CEV puts it this way.
There are some who have given up these for nothing but empty talk. (1 Timothy 1:6 CEV)
So when Paul says, “For some men, straying from these things,” What things is he talking about?
This forces us to look, once again, at the context; however, you will not find the context in verses one and two. In verse three Paul is telling Timothy to straighten someone, possibly more, out, as they are twisting and refuting the things Paul had taught. The end result, these false teachers are leading people astray. So I am not sure how that defines “these things.” Except that it says, don’t teach strange doctrines.
Now verse four may answer the question, but it works from the negative because it tells us what Paul did not teach.
You need to warn them:
- Verse three ends with this instruction, and a comma. “instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines,”
- nor pay attention to myths
- and endless lists of ancestors. Such things only cause arguments. They don’t help anyone to do God’s work that can only be done by faith. (CEV)
I covered all of these points already, and yet I still feel as if something is missing. The ERV translation seems to work, and I will show you why.
My purpose in telling you to do this is to promote love—the kind of love shown by those whose thoughts are pure, who do what they know is right, and whose faith in God is real.
(1 Timothy 1:5 ERV)
All corrections should be done out of love.
That means you are making this correction because you love this person or child. Your children may not understand that at the moment, but love desires to save them from corruption and possibly death. Punishment, may instill the fear of God in them and prevent them from committing some serious crime.
Paul, through Timothy, is addressing the false teachers, but perhaps the NLT gets to the core of what is going on here, as it addresses the Jewish aspect of this congregation. You see, even here, we FORGET, that Paul’s audiences, were primarily Jewish converts – a term that in many cases should be used loosely.
1 Timothy 1:7 NLT They want to be known as teachers of the law of Moses, but they don’t know what they are talking about, even though they speak so confidently.
Paul had his time at being a Pharisee and no doubt a few of them remember what that was like. Why would any of these people think it appropriate to go that route? Oh sure, there is the draw of that big paycheck for being the pastor of a mega-church; and the added joy of having the state overstep their constitutional boundaries and shut your church down while keeping casinos and marijuana dispensaries open; it kind of makes you want to ask, then why are you here?
“to be teachers” It seems like a simple phrase, but it has hidden darkness to it. The Greek word for a Hebrew action, is, nomodidaskalos. Thayer’s Definition: 1) a teacher and interpreter of the law: among the Jews; 1a) of those who among Christians went about as champions and interpreters of the Mosaic law.
Why refer to the interpretation of the law as hidden darkness?
Because, almost everyone who teaches from the law has an underlying theme, control. Think about the entrance of the law into the lives of God’s people; they had, only recently, come out of Egypt, along with the tent of Moloch; sex gods, and Beelzebul – the lord of the flies/dung. They were, in the majority, Egyptians without a clue and God needed to reign them in. As I have stated before, initially, He only gave them ten rules, and the bulk of those rules spoke of love and treating others right.
“ they don’t know what they are talking about” Such a large phrase from such a little word. It is the Greek word νοέω meaning to perceive, think: or understand.
Well, that was direct and to the point. You may be able to put words together eloquently, but you don’t have a clue as to what you are talking about.
But Paul had lived the life of a teacher; and not just a teacher of the Mosaic law, he taught a God of mercy and grace, a God who now seemed to some to be in opposition to the law, and there was very little fame or money. Keep in mind that Paul was well versed in the Mosaic law – to the point of destruction, but then something changed him, and that something was to meet Jesus personally – on the road to Damascus. For us, the reader, it seemed like seconds.
How come no one seems to remember that he had others with him? Do you think the merely let him lie there? How undignified! This process may have only taken seconds, however, God doesn’t always work within our time constraints, and may have downloaded everything Paul needed in those mere seconds.
But the law is not dark, it is only made dark by those who talk in endless circles. Paul tells us, the law is good.
1 Timothy 1:8-11 NASB But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully, (9) realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers (10) and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching, (11) according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted.
If you walked away with that ONE THING, let it be this, the LAW IS GOOD.
Is it good to everyone?
Hardly, but you have to realize that the law was not made for those that follow the law (righteous persons). Paul told us in his letter to the church in Rome, that the law, which many thought grace freed them from, There is no escaping this law that guides us, and attempts to guide ALL the others.
“But for those who are”:
- sinners – perpetually and even in some cases purposefully, because waah, they want to.
- The unholy and the profane
- for those who kill their fathers or mothers. Murderers
- Here is where it gets nasty. For immoral men and homosexuals
- kidnappers – ask yourself, who are the victims, and why?
- liars and perjurers – one just lies, the other lies to escape judgment.
- and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching.
Sound teaching, which Paul reiterates, is according to my word, which I have been entrusted with.
God has entrusted this WORD to us in the form of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.