Follow Sound Doctrine
1 Timothy 1:3-17
Tom J. Nettles
I. The greeting emphasizes the centrality of Christ to Christian Ministry 1:1, 2
A. His apostleship is particularly of Christ Jesus - 1a This is because the gospel he was commanded to proclaim is specifically about the incarnate Son of God in his redemptive work perfectly completed in his obedient life, his substitutionary death, and his triumphant resurrection and ascension.
B. It is by command of God and Christ Jesus – 1 [cf. Acts 9:4-6, 15-16; 13:2, 3] Note, as below, the collateral authority of the Father and the Son in this command. I am assuming that “God our Savior” here refers to God the Father since we have this duality mentioned in verse 2. God the Father is our Savior in that all the aspects of the covenant of redemption are executed in accordance with his merciful design. See Luke 1:47; 1 Thessalonians 5:23, 24; 2 Timothy 1:9; Hebrews 13:20; Titus 3:4-7
C. It is in light of the hope and salvation brought by Christ – 1b The resurrected Christ is Himself our living hope. This objective reality of the conquering of death and all its consequences stirs within us the anticipation of a glorious eternity, thus the subjective aspect of hope that corresponds to the objective reality of it. See Romans 8:23-25; Also think about the phrase in Colossians 1:5, “The hope laid up for you in heaven.” And “waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.”
D. Jesus distributes equally with the Father the blessings of grace, mercy, and peace -2
II. Paul’s Apostolic Instruction to Timothy 1:3-7, 18-20
A. Paul did not allow any “different” doctrine from that which he taught. The doctrine that Paul received by divine revelation constituted a deposit that he gave to Timothy and others in his preaching ministry. In 6:20 Paul commanded Timothy to “guard the deposit ent5usted to you,” in then in 2 Timothy gives increased urgency to this stewardship. Any deviation from that deposit Paul did not allow, for any human wisdom given in addition would pollute, corrupt, and thus destroy the purity of the message given. He and the other apostles were “stewards of the mysteries of God” and thus must be faithful to the revelation of that mystery [1 Corinthians 4:1, 2].
B. The Gospel is not to satisfy the metaphysical speculations of sophists, but to submit us to God in repentance from sin and faith in the saving work of Christ. – 4 – Paul contrasts the penchant for speculation on the part of self-appointed teachers with the clarity and certainty of the truth given by divine revelation, “the stewardship from God that is by faith.” On the one hand, people flatter themselves with their clever analyses of philosophical ideas, mythology, and genealogies, and on the other those that received God’s message receive the truth into mind and heart and trust the truth that is given. Why should one prefer the uncertainty of human philosophical ramblings to the truth given by God. The Colossians suffered the same temptation to look to philosophy rather than the certainty made plain before us in the gospel of Christ (Colossians 2:3-10).
C. The Gospel transforms the affections by means of the truth – 5 Philosophical speculation looks to the intellect and has no power to alter the affections; the gospel transforms the heart into humble and loving submission before a holy God by the assurance of sin forgiven.
is a problem when a teacher has an improper understanding of the Law 6, 7 ; Perhaps these are persons that looked upon the Jewish
law as something of a cipher to be decoded through elemental philosophical
ideas. Paul seemed to know that, given the environment of
E. Timothy is to keep Paul’s command about the nature of a teacher’s doctrine. He is to charge them not to teach these things (3), and he is under charge from Paul to wage a good warfare in pushing back the enemies of the historically-accomplished, divinely-revealed gospel.18
1. In doing this he will manifest the goal of the gospel of establishing a good conscience. cf 5, 19
2. Hymenaeus and Alexander have not done this and thus demonstrate their faith is not persevering and true. They have moved away from a focus on the realities of sin, grace, and redemption and the blessing of forgiveness through Christ and have given themselves to their gospel-diluting speculations. 19b, 20
III. A Teacher must know the basic relationship between Law and Gospel 1:8-11
A. The Law serves a good purpose 8 – cf. Romans 7:7-12. Just because the speculators used the Law as their starting point for their cloudy guesses at life’s meaning, does not mean that the Law had no right use. It sets forth moral absolute that constitute the real picture of righteousness when all of it in done from a heart fully loving toward God. It is placed in Scripture in a strategic place to reveal the sinfulness of humanity in order to drive sinners to Christ. Romans 2:13, 14.
B. The righteous person does not stand in need of the Law – 1:9a Were a person fully righteous, he would not stand in need of the Law for he would be fully conversant with the glory and righteousness of God through the law written on the heart. The external law, distributed into two tables and parsed into its constituent implications, he would not need, for he would live that way through unsullied love for God and neighbor. Only those who are sinful stand in need of this clear reminder of the standard that God requires of his creatures. “It often happens that those who wish to be thought to have the greatest zeal for the Law prove by their whole way of life that they are its greatest despisers. The clearest example of this in our own day is those who maintain justification by works and defend free will.” Calvin We see Calvin’s point demonstrated in Scripture with regularity.
1. The Rich Young Ruler could not benefit from Jesus pressing the Law of him, because he thought he was righteous Mark 10:17-27 cf. Lk 18:18-27
2. The Pharisee considered himself righteous, but the one who knew his sin went home “justified” – Luke 18:9-14
Paul pointed to the Jewish zeal for the righteousness
of the Law as a prime example of failure to grasp the level of righteousness its requires and thus they miss it: “
4. As a Pharisee, Paul considered himself righteous and thus despised Christ – Phil 3:6, 9
C. It is designed to convict of all kinds of sins – 9b, 10: This is a catalogue of specific examples of how the 10 commandments are broken.
1. The first table of the Law (the first four commandments. is summarized in the terms Ungodly (“thou shalt have no other gods before me”), and sinners (“Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image or any likeness of anything etc. . . . visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children etc”), unholy (Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord they God in vain, for the Lord will not him guiltless . . .” and profane (“Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.”).
2. Commandments 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 are pointed to, some with more than one type of violation.
3. He does not mention the tenth commandment precisely although in Romans 7 he points to it as embodying the entire law.
D. The Law is consistent with the provisions of the Gospel – 11 The gospel is not a contradiction of the Law but its best confirmation (Romans 3:31). Paul’s gospel does not set aside, or replace the law, but confirms it and fulfils it by showing that all of its righteousness demands are not overlooked by God; all of them are honored by the life and obedience of Christ and by the Father’s setting him forth as a propitiation for our sins.” Anyone that sets aside the laws as a picture of perfect righteousness and would seek to convince a person not to honor it, would at the same time oppose the full implications of the gospel.
IV. Paul as an example of the Gospel’s operation on a sinner 1:12-17
A. Counted faithful – cf. 1 Corinthians 4:2 and 9:16, 23, 27 Being made an apostle meant that God had counted Paul as faithful [not chosen him on the basis of foreseen faith]; it was an office conferred on him that would cost him much labor to attain the predetermined goal of faithfulness; For use of “consider” see Romans 6:11; the accounting involves the certainty of the use of means. At the end of his life Paul could look to the faithfulness of God as the ground of his faithfulness (2 Timothy 4:7, 18).
B. His “qualification” for mercy was his vicious lawbreaking and ignorant unbelief: illustrating that the Law is not made for a righteous man 13 - these are not seen as mitigating, but as aggravating factors. His ignorance and unbelief were not excuses that placed him in the sphere of candidacy for mercy, but was aggravated his sin and made mercy the only possible path to redemption His blasphemy had obliterated any feasibility of obedience to the first table, and his persecution and insolence had violated every aspect of the second table. He gave an expansion of this idea in Titus 3 when he wrote of “passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savoir appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy.”
C. Paul received from grace both faith and love found in Christ Jesus. The grace of regeneration, or the new birth, precedes the production of love and faith flows from love. We would not repent of sin unless we were brought to hate its moral deformity and we could never see that unless we were brought to see and love the perfect righteousness of Christ. All of this in consistent with the purpose of the Law. Faith replaced unbelief, and love replaced his murderous cruelty and blasphemy; none of these comes abstractly apart from Christ.
D. When the Law has done its work of making all men sinners in their own sight, they are candidates for benefiting from the work of Christ. - 15. Paul appears to be quoting a confessional proposition common in the churches, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” Such a statement is so universally and absolutely true that none can be exempt from accepting it. Its worthiness is arises from the perfect moral beauty of such a redemptive work, fully answering all the demands of the Law and manifesting at the same time the gratuitous mercy of God. See Hebrews 9:14, 15 for relation between the work of Christ and the cleansing of conscience through the redemptive work of Christ.
E. Paul as chief of sinners becomes a demonstration of the infinite perfection of Christ’s sacrifice and his patience with his elect while he works to bring them to repentance (“an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.”) All people may take encouragement from this truth of Paul’s reception of converting grace, that one of such great sin could find forgiveness means that any that come in repentance and faith will find abundantly receptive mercy.
F. As in Romans 11:33ff the exposition of grace gives rise to benediction of the unsearchable goodness and glory of God.
V. Serious contemplation
A. Can one have confidence that he is a Christian if he does not embrace the connections of necessity between Christ, law and the Gospel?
B. Should anyone who aspires to be a teacher be investigated on this issue prior to acceptance?
C. Should we not meditate often on the person of Christ and the substitutionary nature of his atonement to have deepening convictions of the “worthiness” of such a salvation.
D. Can we praise God sincerely and singly apart from the power of these truths?