I Timothy 1
New King James Version 1. Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the commandment of God our Savior and the Lord Jesus Christ, our hope,
The Resultant Version 1. Paul, a commissioned one of Christ Jesus, by the injunction of God our Savior, even our Lord Christ Jesus, Who is our expectation,
The book starts with the name of the human author, Paul. This is the same, familiar author of so many of the New Testament epistles, and the main character of the latter half of the book of Acts. In the Acts period, he was the apostle who carried the gospel to Galatia, Macedonia, Achaia, and the Roman province of Asia. He calls himself the “apostle to the nations” during this time, and he was the one commissioned by God to carry the word during that latter half of Acts, as the work of the twelve and of those scattered in the dispersion after the stoning of Stephen settled down in the various places where God had sent them.
Yet when it speaks of Paul being an apostle here, I do not believe that this is referring to his commission to carry the gospel in the Acts period. The word “apostle” is basically a Greek word, coming from the verb apostello “to send,” and many say it means a “sent one.” Yet an apostello sending is a specific kind of sending, for there is another Greek word, pempo, that also means “send.” To pempo send would be as if I would give someone the money to go on vacation to Tahiti. If the President of the United States sent someone to be the United States ambassador to Tahiti, however, this would be a much more significant sending. The President would be sending this one with authority and with a commission to represent the United States to them. This is the idea of an apostello sending. When a person is apostello sent, this means he is commissioned. When an inanimate object or an animal is apostello sent, this means it is authorized.
The very book of the Acts is really the book of the “Acts of the Apostles.” It records for us those things done by the men whom God commissioned to do what they did. When they proclaimed the Word to anyone, it was because God gave them a commission to do so. When they worked miracles, it was because God sent them with the authority to do that. When they cast out demons, healed the sick, judged the believers, proclaimed Divine messages, and did all the things the apostles did, they were doing it all with God’s commission and authority.
Yet a great change took place at the end of the book of Acts, when, in Acts 28:28, Paul proclaimed, “Be it known therefore unto you that the salvation-bringing message of God is now authorized unto the nations, and it will get through to them.” (Resultant Version) The word “authorized” here is the Greek word apostello, and means that the gospel, the salvation-bringing message of God, was now made freely available or “apostled” to the nations. That meant that God was no longer working through men and women who were apostles, but rather was now working through the message itself. The message was now the apostle, and that meant that anyone could proclaim it, and anyone could hear it and believe it. I have claimed that someone could write the gospel into the lines of a play, an actor who did not even believe the gospel could get the part and say those lines, and someone could hear the truth and believe it. Since Acts 28:28, it has no longer been people who were God’s apostles who were acting, but rather it has been the actions of the apostled gospel that has been defining God’s salvation-bringing work in the world.
Therefore, since I Timothy was written after Acts 28:28, Paul’s words here calling himself an apostle cannot refer to the same apostolic work Paul did in the Acts period, for that work had come to an end when the gospel itself became the apostle. What, then, does he mean when he says that he is an apostle or a commissioned one of Christ Jesus?
I do not believe that Paul was referring to an office he held at this time. Since an apostle is one who is commissioned, it often refers to a job one is sent to do, more than an office that one is given to hold. I do not believe that Paul is referring to the fact that he held the “office” of an apostle when he calls himself that here. Rather, I believe that he is saying that he has been commissioned by God for the writing of this letter to Timothy. In other words, Paul by calling himself an apostle in this verse is saying that this letter is inspired by God, being sent by His authority. I do not know how many letters Paul may have written after he came to faith in Christ other than the thirteen we have in the Scriptures. He may have written other letters that were simply not inspired. But this letter at least is a letter written, not just by Paul, but by God, since it was a book that Paul was commissioned to write. That is what Paul is saying by calling himself an “apostle” here.
Paul is a commissioned one of Jesus Christ, or Christ Jesus, depending on the manuscript. The name “Christ” is just the Greek form of the Hebrew “Messiah,” which means the “Anointed One,” the One anointed or “marked out” by God to be the King, the Priest, and the Savior. The name “Jesus” comes from the Greek Iesous, which in Hebrew is Joshua, short for Jehoshua, which means “Jehovah the Savior.” This name typically was an acknowledgement of the reality that Jehovah or Yahweh is the Savior, but in the case of our Lord Jesus Christ, He is Yahweh the Savior. It was the Lord Himself who had commissioned Paul to write this book.
Paul was made an apostle by the commandment or injunction of God. It was on God’s orders that Paul was given this commission to write, indicating again that this book was written by Divine inspiration.
God is called “our Savior” here. Yet elsewhere we read that Jesus Christ is our Savior, such as in II Timothy 1:10:
10. but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel,
When we consider this, we might wonder, are there two Saviors? Might God be the Savior to some, and Jesus Christ be the Savior to others? Might I be saved by God one day and by Jesus Christ the next? Isaiah 41:11 would assure us that no such thing can be true.
11. I, even I, am the LORD,
And besides Me there is no savior.
The name “LORD” here, spelled all in capitals, is a translation of the Hebrew word Yahweh or Jehovah. If we factor in Isaiah 45:21, we will take another step in advance regarding the truth.
21. Tell and bring forth your case;
Yes, let them take counsel together.
Who has declared this from ancient time?
Who has told it from that time?
Have not I, the LORD?
And there is no other God besides Me,
A just God and a Savior;
There is none besides Me.
This tells us that there is no other God besides the LORD, and God is the only Savior. If this is the case, then if the New Testament tells us that God is the Savior and that the Lord Jesus Christ is the Savior, then Jesus Christ must be the LORD Yahweh, and Jesus Christ must be God. This is the glorious truth of our Lord and Savior. The God Who is our Savior whom Paul is speaking of, then must be the Lord Jesus Christ!
This is confirmed in the next statement. The New King James Version makes it “God our Savior and the Lord Jesus Christ,” as if there were two of them. I believe, however, that the Greek word translated “and,” kai in Greek, is actually used appositionally here. When two things are in apposition, the one explains the other and restates the other. Therefore, I believe that this should be translated as The Resultant Version does it here, “God our Savior, even our Lord Christ Jesus.” The two are the same, and God our Savior is the Lord Christ Jesus.
Then we have the word “hope.” We use this word in English often for a wish, as in when someone buys a lottery ticket and hopes to win big (pretty much a vain hope). Yet the word elpis in Greek is not this way. What one hopes for is what one is expecting to happen. It is like a man looking forward hopefully to his upcoming wedding. He has little doubt it is going to happen, but he is waiting expectantly for it. So Jesus Christ is not just the one we are gambling on, perhaps as a long shot, but He is the One Whom we are waiting expectantly on, knowing that He will come through for us in the end in more ways than we can possibly imagine.
God is mentioned as our Savior, and the Lord Jesus Christ as our hope. Yet again the two go together. Our hope truly is in God, even in the Lord Jesus Christ. God is our hope, and the Lord Jesus Christ is our Savior. The two are one, and there is no separating between them.
Though The Resultant Version omits the words “our hope” here, I find very little evidence for this, and believe Mr. Sellers made a mistake on this point. The words do belong in the text.
New King James Version 2. To Timothy, a true son in the faith:
Grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.
The Resultant Version 2. To Timothy, a genuine child in the faith, Grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father, even Jesus Christ our Lord.
Paul now addresses this letter to Timothy, the man who had been his companion in the Acts period, of whom we first read in Acts 16. Our best guess is that he was about fifteen when he first joined Paul. Since as near as we can tell he joined Paul around ten years before the close of the Acts period at Acts 28:28, he was about twenty-five when that momentous event took place. Paul remained in Rome for two years, then traveled on to Spain, then back to more familiar territory, apparently stopping off at Crete along the way, leaving Titus there, which occasioned the writing of the book of Titus. He probably returned to either Jerusalem or, perhaps more likely, Antioch, which was his home base for his Acts period ministry, and then headed out again to visit those to whom he had ministered in the Acts period. Assuming this all took several years, Timothy may be about twenty-nine or thirty when this book is being written to him, and has served the Lord with Paul for around fifteen years.
The name “Timothy” means “Honoring God,” and this is indeed a good description of this excellent young man. His life and ministry were honoring to God, and he was one of Paul’s most trusted helpers, in spite of the fact that he was much younger than Paul himself.
Paul calls Timothy a “genuine child in the faith.” The word here is indeed “child,” not “son,” as the New King James Version erroneously has it. The Greek word is teknon, which means “child.” Paul is probably referring to the fact that it was through his own ministry that Timothy had heard the word of Jesus Christ and had come to faith in Him, as should be clear from an examination of the book of Acts. In Acts 14, Paul was the one who spread the gospel to Derbe and Lystra, and in Acts 16, we learn that Timothy was a disciple in one of those places. He probably was a young man, barely come of age (which means twelve years old in their culture) when Paul first came to his home city and he believed. As an older teenager, Paul chose him as his assistant, and he has served with him faithfully in the fifteen years or so since. Timothy has indeed by this time proven himself to be a genuine child of Paul, not just in his initial faith, but in his continuing faith and faithfulness to Paul and the ministry Christ gave him.
Now Paul gives his salutation of “grace, mercy, and peace.” Paul always begins and ends his letters with grace, and peace is typically part of his salutation as well, but it is only in his three personal letters of Titus and I and II Timothy that he gives this particular salutation of grace, mercy, and peace.
First, Paul mentions grace. This is the Greek word charis, and has to do with God’s love and favor to men irrespective of whether or not they deserve it (which, of course, they typically do not). It is through grace that we are saved; yes, that we have our sins forgiven; yes, that we have any sort of relationship with God at all. Our standing before Him is by His grace, and our position in Christ is likewise by His grace. We would have nothing at all before God were it not for His grace. Praise God for the reality of the amazing grace He has shown to us, who were poor, helpless, corrupt sinners in need of a Savior! Praise God that He graciously provided us that Savior in the Lord Jesus Christ!
Next, Paul mentions mercy. This is the Greek word eleos, and is an aspect of grace on the miserable, afflicted, or undeserving. The birth of John the Baptizer to Elisabeth when she was far past the age of having children was God’s mercy upon her. The good Samaritan showed mercy on the man who fell among thieves. God shows mercy towards us, as Ephesians 2 declares, when we are caught up in the flow of this wicked world, and yet He still raises us with Christ and seats us with Him among the most exalted. Mercy is indeed a wonderful and a necessary thing for the believer to have from God.
Finally, Paul lists peace. This is the Greek word eirene, which does not just mean a cessation of war, but means a true union. In this case, the union Paul is wishing for Timothy is with God Himself. Once He has shown us His grace and had mercy upon us, the wonderful outcome is that we are truly unified with Him. Truly, Paul could wish Timothy no greater thing than the three things he has wished him here in the introduction to this book.
These three things Paul wishes for Timothy come from God the Father and Jesus Christ our Lord. Yet these are not two separate Beings. It is not as if one person could get grace, mercy, and peace from the Father and another person could get grace, mercy, and peace from Jesus Christ. Neither is it as if one could get grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father one day and from Jesus Christ our Lord the next. No, these two names are referring to the same Being. As we had it back in the first verse, the word we have translated “and” is the Greek kai, which can also mean “even” and be used to show apposition between two words. That is the case here, where God the Father is Jesus Christ our Lord.
Another passage that shows the truth of this interpretation is I Corinthians 15:24, which reads, “ Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power.” Here, the New King James translators ignored the Greek word kai altogether. If they had translated this consistently with the way they translated it in I Timothy 1:2, this would have read, “when He delivers the kingdom to God and the Father,” as if there were two of them, and “the Father” were distinct from “God.” Of course, this would not have been correct, so our translators have been right to translate in a way that does not break this name of God up into two parts, as if two separate persons were meant. Yet it is a shame that they did not recognize this truth in I Timothy 1:2 as well.
The truth of Jesus Christ being the Father is set forth by Christ Himself in John 14:8-11. There, we read:
8. Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.”
9. Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10. Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. 11. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves.
Christ speaks most emphatically here to insist that the one who has seen Him has also seen the Father. If one were to go to heaven today, one could not be ushered into a throne room and see one throne with God the Father sitting on it; a second, lower throne off to the right side with Jesus Christ sitting on it; and another throne to the left with a dove or some kind of symbol of the Holy Spirit on it. No, if one were to go to heaven and ask to see God, all one would see would be Jesus Christ. To see Him is to see the Father. There is nothing else to see. He truly is the visible representative of God.
New King James Version 3. As I urged you when I went into Macedonia—remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine,
The Resultant Version 3. As I entreated you to remain in Ephesus when I went into Macedonia, in order that you might charge some not to teach other teaching,
Paul now reminds Timothy of earlier instructions that he had given him. Of course, we have no record of these instructions save what Paul says of them here, but they are easy enough to gather from this statement. Paul, as we said, upon his return from Rome started visiting many of the places he had visited and ministered to in the Acts period. One of these was Ephesus. Yet we must remember the words of Paul to the Ephesian elders, as we have them in Acts 20:25. This was while Paul was hurrying to get to Jerusalem by the Day of Pentecost. He did not feel he had the time to stop off at Ephesus, so he sent for the Ephesians elders, and met them at Miletus on the seacoast. There, he gave them his final instructions, and part of what he told them was this:
Acts 20:25. “And indeed, now I know that you all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, will see my face no more.”
This was a final, unequivocal statement, and the Ephesian elders took it as such. We can see their response to this from verses 36-38.
Acts 20:36. And when he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all. 37. Then they all wept freely, and fell on Paul’s neck and kissed him, 38. sorrowing most of all for the words which he spoke, that they would see his face no more. And they accompanied him to the ship.
The Ephesian elders were heartbroken by the truth that they would never see Paul’s face again. Yet what, then, of this passage, which seems to indicate that Paul did visit Ephesus after his return from Rome? I would suggest that this does not mean that Paul himself was in Ephesus. Probably, he sent Timothy ahead of him into Ephesus because of his concern for them. Then, he did just what he did in the book of Acts. He passed by Asia, as we see in Acts 16, and went to minister in Macedonia and Achaia first. Then, in late Acts 18 and Acts 19, he came to and ministered in Ephesus. Here, he does the same thing. He passes by Asia and heads into Macedonia and Achaia first, sending word to Timothy to remain where he was in Ephesus. This makes sense, and leaves the prophecy of Acts 20:25 intact.
Why did Paul encourage Timothy to remain in Ephesus while he went into Macedonia to visit those like the Philippians, the Thessalonians, and the Bereans? He tells us why here: because he wanted Timothy to charge some of those in Ephesus. The idea of “charge,” the Greek parangello, is of passing along a message or issuing an order or a command. The charge to them is to teach no other doctrine. Yet the word “doctrine” really means “teaching,” so he is to charge them to teach no other teaching. Thus we have come upon the first reason the Holy Spirit had for commissioning Paul to write this book. Timothy is dealing with false teaching in Ephesus, and Paul is writing to him to encourage him and remind him of the true teaching he was to promote.
The fact that Timothy would be encountering false teaching in Ephesus should not surprise us if we remember what Paul told the Ephesians elders in Acts 20:29-31.
29. “For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. 30. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. 31. Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears.”
Paul warned the Ephesians elders, first of savage wolves from without, then of false teachers from within, even from among this group of elders. He warns them this will happen among them after he departs from them. After this, Paul traveled on to Jerusalem, where he was arrested and kept in custody in Caesarea. After his journey to Rome, which took something like half a year, Paul spent two years in his own, hired house in Rome. This accounts for nearly five years he was away from Ephesus, and does not include the time between when Paul left Rome and when he sent Timothy to Ephesus. Paul had been gone from them many years, plenty of time for false teachers and false teachings to have sprung up among them. Timothy is in Ephesus now dealing with that false teaching, and Paul is writing to him in light of this.
New King James Version 4. nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith.
The Resultant Version 4. Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which render debates, rather than God’s administration which is in faith.
Timothy was also to remain among them in order to encourage them not to give heed to fables. This word “fables” is the Greek word muthos, from which we get our English word “myths.” There were many fables among the Jewish people, and many of the believers in Ephesus were Jewish. All one has to do is read the apocrypha, and one will find multiple examples of such Jewish fables there. People have a tendency to believe fables, but this is bad when these fables contradict the truth of the Word of God. Thus Timothy was to urge them to give no heed to them.
There are fables that go around today as well, not just among people of the world, but also among people of faith. I have heard some of these myths. One is of healings. Someone’s friend’s brother-in-law has a cousin who was healed of some dire illness. Such a convoluted string is very hard to follow and to check up on. Another is of demonic possession. This is seldom anywhere nearby, but often is off in some jungle or some third world country somewhere. Then there is the idea that someone was raised from the dead in a similar place. These fables can never really be researched or proven, but there are many who believe them because they want to believe them.
Another rather foolish fable that I have heard multiple times is of the prostitute who had her virginity restored when she believed in Christ. How exactly such a thing might be done is never really explained. Did she suddenly forget what it was like to be with a man? Did any children she had suddenly disappear into the ether, or any abortions she had suddenly become erased so that they never took place? If a prostitute’s virginity could be restored, why could not some poor believing girl who was raped or sexually abused have her virginity restored? Could a man have his virginity restored? When we really think about such things, it is clear that this is a foolish fable. Yet these things go around the Christian community, and there are those who believe them and repeat them. We too need to be careful not to give heed to such things, rather than to the truth of God.
He is also to urge them not to give heed to endless genealogies. Some have suggested that these things tie the false doctrine Timothy was fighting against to the Gnostic religion. This was a mystery religion that would often incorporate into it parts of various other religions, and in the second century after Christ, there were those Gnostics who took parts of Christianity into their beliefs and formed a sort of Christian Gnosticism. Yet there is no real evidence that this had taken place yet in the first century when Paul was writing to Timothy. The fact is that genealogies often have to do with Jewish things, since genealogies are so important for determining one’s place in Israel. An Israelite needed to know his tribe, and even his tribal family, as in the case of the Levites or the Aaronic priests. It would appear, then, that the false teachers Timothy was opposing were upholding some false Jewish teaching having to do with fables and genealogies. It is unlikely that he actually was fighting Gnosticism.
Genealogies may have been important in Israel in the past, yet now that the dispensation had changed and all nations were equal and joint in God’s sight, these endless genealogies were of no value, and Paul urges Timothy not to give heed to them. What matters now is faith, what matters is being and believing in Christ, and not what one’s family line might be.
All fables and endless genealogies produce is debates, Paul asserts. While debates can have their place when they are about valuable things, debating about myths or about genealogies is ultimately debating about nothing. If one “wins” such a debate, what is accomplished? It is better to avoid such things, as Paul urges Timothy to do.
A better thing than debates is Godly edification which is in faith. That is, better than debating is building others up in their faith, in their belief in God’s truth. This is how this verse reads in the Received Text. The word for “edification” is oikodomia. Yet some ancient manuscripts read “oikonomia,” the word for “dispensation” or “administration.” When we consider that the original Greek manuscripts were written in all capital Greek letters, and then consider the Greek capital letters for “D,” delta, D (looks like a triangle), and for “N,” nu, N (looks like an “N”), we can see how a messy, handwritten delta and nu might get mistaken for each other.
If the original text read oikonomia, then this is telling us that instead of giving heed to fables and genealogies, Timothy is charged to give heed to God’s administration which is in faith. This word oikonomia comes from two words, oikos which means “house,” and nomos which means “law.” This word originally had to do with how a household was managed. However, we can see from the related word oikonomos or “house ruler” that this word expanded to mean more than just a household, for in Romans 16:23, Paul speaks of Erastus as the “house-ruler of the city.”
Romans 16:23. Gaius, my host and the host of the whole church, greets you. Erastus, the treasurer of the city, greets you, and Quartus, a brother.
The word expanded, then, so that it no longer was attached to the administration over a household, but could be the administration over a city, or, when applied to God, could mean His administration over all Adam’s race, as it does here.
The word oikonomia was translated multiple times as “dispensation” in the King James Version of the Scriptures, and so this traditional word has been used in much teaching, and gives its name to the theological school of dispensationalism, of which this author himself is a part. However, this word is largely an antiquated one, and is not in common use in English today. When it is used, it is connected with dispensing or giving out something, which is really not the meaning it carries here. Therefore, it is perhaps best to move on to a better translation. There is no reason to insist upon the word “dispensation,” just because we derive a name from it. A dispensation really is the working out of an administration, having to do with its policy or policies for administering its rule. God’s administrational policy today is “in faith,” as we are told here.
Altogether, there are three great truths about God’s work today that are taught under the title of oikonomia or “dispensations” in the Bible. The first in Ephesians 3:2 is the “dispensation of the grace of God.”
Ephesians 3:2. Assuming that you surely hear of the administration of the grace of God, which is given to me for you
This teaches us that the policy of God’s administration towards the world today is to be gracious. God in the past might have acted sometimes in grace and sometimes in government, but today He always acts totally in grace. The second in Ephesians 3:9 (though again it is obscured by questionable manuscript readings in the Received Text) is that God’s administrational policy towards the world is to act in secret.
Ephesians 3:9. Even to enlighten all as to God’s secret administration, which has been concealed from the eons in God, Who creates all these
The final truth is the one found here, which is that God’s administration works today through faith. When God works in the life of an individual today, He does it through their faith, that is, their belief in Him. Since He is only working secretly, not openly, for anyone to believe in His work or respond to it, that person must take it by faith that such a work even exists. Otherwise, he might point at the evidence of the world around him and insist that God does not appear to be working at all. Yet in faith God works out His administration in the lives of His people. This is what we need, and this is what Timothy is to pay attention to, and not to fables or endless genealogies.
Really, an administration in faith goes hand-in-hand with an administration of grace. This is clear in Romans 4:16.
Romans 4:16. Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all
When God’s good gifts to us are simply because we believe, not because we do something to earn it, then they are also given to us by grace. Therefore, an administration of grace and an administration in faith go hand-in-hand, and that is how God is doing it, working in the world today. When and how God is working is important for us to know, so that we can work with Him instead of against Him. Let us grow then in our knowledge of His work through a greater knowledge of His Word.