《Coffman Commentaries on the Bible – 1 Timothy》(James B. Coffman) Commentator


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For manslayers ... This is a clear reference to the sixth commandment; but here again there is a significant difference in the law of Moses and the law of Christ. Whereas the law of Moses forbids "murder," it is the lesser charge of manslaughter that surfaces here.


[22] Ibid., p. 68.

Verse 10

for fornicators, for abusers of themselves with men, for men-stealers, for liars, for false swearers, and if there be any other thing contrary to the sound doctrine;

Fornicators, for abusers of themselves with men ... Whereas the seventh commandment condemns "adultery," all forms of sexual vice are equally condemned in the law of Christ.

For men-stealers ... "Thou shalt not steal," the eighth commandment, is in view here; but it is the most reprehensible kind of stealing involved in the crime of kidnapping. Paul evidently meant to stress that even Moses' law was opposed to all forms of wickedness. Now those false teachers at Ephesus against whom Paul here warned and instructed Timothy were not using the law for the purpose of teaching ethical morality at all, but for the purpose of finespun theorizing, hair-splitting nonsense and for empty and vain talking. God's law, whether of the Old Testament or the New Testament, is primarily concerned with human behavior.

Liars, for false swearers ... It is the ninth and possibly also the tenth commandment which prompted this. More than any other point that may be considered mandatory from the teaching in these verses is the fact that it was the Jewish law which was being abused by the false teachers. Philosophical absurdities of the second century are not in the passage at all.

Sound doctrine ... As Spence wrote:

This is an expression peculiar to this group of Epistles; a sharp contrast is suggested to the "sickly and unhealthy" teaching of the false teachers, with their foolish legends and allegories, teaching which suggested controversy and endless disputes, and had no practical influence upon life.[23]SIZE>

Wallis noted that Paul's catalogue of sins here "is not the same as lists given elsewhere";[24] but the probability is that it is related either to peculiar problems in Ephesus, or merely Paul's mentioning what immediately came to mind. Anyone could make out his own list of sins, but no list is exhaustive.

[23] H. D. M. Spence, op. cit, p. 181.

[24] Wilbur B. Wallis, op. cit., p. 844.

Verse 11

according to the gospel of the glory of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.

Gospel of the glory of the blessed God ... Hervey called this an awkward rendition, suggesting among other possible meanings, "the gospel which tells of the glory of God."[25] The words as rendered, however, are the truth; and the general idea comes through beautifully any way.

Blessed God ... "This with 1 Timothy 6:15 are the only passages in the New Testament where blessed is an epithet of God."[26]

[25] A. C. Hervey, op. cit., p. 4.

[26] Ibid.

Verse 12

I thank him that enabled me, even Christ Jesus our Lord, for that he counted me faithful, appointing me to his service;

The thought here was paraphrased thus by Hendriksen: "SUCH mercy! for note well: this very great sinner was not only saved, but was even deemed worthy to be entrusted with the ministry of the apostleship!"[27]

I thank him ... As Nute observed, this earnest word here "reaches its climax in the noble doxology of verse 17."[28]

[27] William Hendriksen, op. cit., p. 74.

[28] Alan G. Nute, op. cit., p. 508.

Verse 13

though I was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: howbeit I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief;

Blasphemy ... means "speaking against" either God or man; but Paul here means the more serious offense; because, while he did not speak against the Father, he did speak against the Son who is one with the Father.

And a persecutor ... In context this is somewhat of an elaboration upon the preceding word, since it was as "a persecutor" that his speaking against God occurred. New Testament light on Paul's role as a savage persecutor of the church is given in Acts 8:3; 9:1 and Acts 22:19.

And injurious ... "This third word, although the English version obscures the fact, continues the ascending scale of self-condemnation."[29] It indicates a person who takes a savage personal delight and a malicious enjoyment in the afflictions inflicted upon another. Surely no sinner should ever despair of receiving God's mercy if he repents.

Because I did it ignorantly in unbelief ... The fact of Paul's being able to commit so grievous sins against God demonstrates the "pitiable, guilty blindness of sin (Ephesians 4:18; 1 Peter 1:14)."[30] Dummelow perceptively observed on this that "This is an instance of that form of ignorance which excuses acts done through it, ignorance of facts, not of moral principles."[31]

[29] John Wesley, op. cit., in loco.

[30] Wilbur B. Wallis, op. cit., p. 845.

[31] J. R. Dummelow, Commentary on the Holy Bible (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1937), p. 996.

Verse 14

and the grace of our Lord abounded exceedingly with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.

Which is in Christ Jesus ... indicates the theater where the grace, love and faith (all three) are available for sinners. Paul did not receive grace outside of Christ, but inside; and the faith that saves is not a faith exercised independently of the body of Christ, but "in him." The tragedy of our day is that many speak glibly of their "faith in Christ," whereas, due to the fact of their never having been baptized "into Christ," their so-called faith is "out of Christ," not "in Christ."

"The words (abounded exceedingly) occur 158 times in the New Testament, 106 of these in the Pauline letters."[32] Hendriksen classified this as another instance of Paul's "super" words, such as are in Romans 5:20; 2 Thessalonians 1:3; 2 Corinthians 7:4; 1 Thessalonians 3:10; Philippians 4:7; 2 Corinthians 12:7, etc. "It is clear that this super vocabulary is characteristic of Paul."[33]

[32] A. C. Hervey, op. cit., p. 5.

[33] W. H. Hendriksen, op. cit., p. 75.

Verse 15

Faithful is the saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief:

Faithful is the saying... There are five of these expressions in this group of letters, the other four being: 1 Timothy 3:1; 4:9; 2 Timothy 2:11, and Titus 3:8. "These axiomatic truths of Christian faith would be easily memorized; and, being frequently repeated, they soon became almost proverbial in the early church."[34]

Despite the above, however, it is precarious to identify these "faithful sayings" as any form of "proverb" in the early church. Only two of them, here and in 1 Timothy 2:11, have any definite saying in view. "In the other passages, the expression seems to be a short parenthetical formula, affirmative of the truth of the general doctrine with which the writer happens to be dealing."[35]

That Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners ... is indeed worthy of being considered a proverb. The expression stands as an epitome of the whole Christian religion: (1) The deity of Christ is in it, for of no man could it be said that 'the came into the world." (2) The redeeming, saving purpose of the visitation of the Dayspring from on high is in it. (3) The universal sinfulness of mankind is in it, for his condition was such that only God could save him, and that at awful cost to himself in the sending of the Beloved.

Of whom I am chief ... "The translation should be, `of whom foremost am I.'"[36] Hendriksen based this conclusion upon the emphatic position of the first person pronoun in the original. But the question is, HOW was Paul the chief of sinners?

(1) His sin was chief in the sense of the zeal and avid delight in which he pursued it. (2) It was greatest in the diabolical results that would have been achieved if he had continued in it, possibly that of the total destruction of Christianity; surely that was his purpose. (3) Paul was the chief of sinners because his sin was against Christ himself in the person of his spiritual body on earth. (4) He was the chief of sinners in the matter of his marvelous abilities, super intellectual powers, unswerving zeal and persistent determination which augmented the threat of his operations against God's purpose on earth in Christ. (5) He was the foremost among sinners because of the particular historical position which his persecutions held in the very beginning of Christianity. A million sinners today, operating against Christianity with Pauline zeal and power, would not pose a fraction of the threat inherent in the activities of Paul at that singular period in history.

[34] Alan G. Nute, op. cit., p. 508.

[35] Newport J. D. White, op. cit., p. 98.

[36] William Hendriksen, op. cit., p. 81.

Verse 16

might Jesus Christ show forth all his longsuffering, for an ensample of them that should thereafter believe on him unto eternal life.

Paul's argument here is that by pardoning the chief of the band of brigands, Jesus Christ had, by implication, extended an invitation to receive forgiveness to all the lesser sinners who made up the company!

For an ensample ... That the blessed apostle does not here overestimate the significance of his conversion is discernible throughout history. Paul's conversion, along with the resurrection of Christ, is part of the incontrovertible evidence of the integrity and authenticity of the Christian faith.

Believe on him unto eternal life ... This strongly suggests Romans 10:10,11; and significantly "believing on" Christ in both passages is "unto" eternal life, and salvation, as is ever the case in the New Testament. The sacred writers were diligent never to leave an impression that merely "believing on" the Lord Jesus Christ surely led to eternal life, but merely in the direction of it, "unto life." The apostle John gave the classical example of a case in which it did not bestow eternal life (John 12:42,43); but in even that instance "believing on" the Lord led in the direction of it.

Eternal life ... Christianity is involved with the supernatural, a fact abundantly clear in such an expression as this. The grand scope and purpose of Christianity is to accomplish the forgiveness of people's sins (salvation), and in the upper and better world usher them into eternal and better life where they may have in utmost joy and tranquillity, fellowship with the Creator forever.

Verse 17

Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

This grand doxology is not addressed to "the Father," but to God in his compound unity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It has been called "a grand testimony to the monotheism of St. Paul ... to this Eternal, Incorruptible One be glory and honor unto the ages of the ages."[37]

For ever and ever ... This is "the ages of the ages" in the Greek; but all superstitions to the effect that Gnosticism of the second century is implied in these words are unfounded. As White said, "Bengel's suggestion that there is a polemical reference to the aeons of Gnosticism is fanciful and unnecessary."[38]

This marvelous doxology was Paul's response to the glorious fact of his joyous salvation in Christ to which he had just referred.

[37] H. D. M. Spence, op. cit., p. 183.

[38] Newport J. D. White, op. cit, p. 100.

Verse 18

This charge I commit unto thee, my child Timothy, according to the prophecies which led the way to thee, that by them thou mayest war the good warfare;

According to the prophecies ... does not refer, as Nute thought, "to a premonition granted to Paul as he approached Lystra,"[39] but to factual prophetic declarations uttered by some of the New Testament prophets mentioned repeatedly in Acts, of whom was Agabus, and also Barnabas, the latter probably being the one who gave the prophecies mentioned here.

My child Timothy ... It was to Timothy, the beloved young man, whom Paul had converted and whose faithfulness never wavered, that Paul turned as he contemplated the dreadful historical situation then closing in upon the Christians. "The charge" to him was the total precious treasure of Christian truth which together they had done so much to advance. Those awful dangers which Paul saw in the future would soon be closing around the beloved Christians in Asia; there would be many who could not stand the test; the blessed apostle sensed that he would not survive to be of any help; and therefore his whole hope was rested in the fidelity of that glorious companion, Timothy, who had so long suffered and toiled with the apostle. It would appear also that, prophetically, Timothy had been designated as a man who would persevere to the end; and thus the prophecies corroborated Paul's own personal evaluation of Timothy as one capable of being left in charge of the fortunes of God's church on earth.

War the good warfare ... These were appropriate words for Christians living in the age of the great persecution under Nero, soon to break upon the defenseless church. The metaphor of a man at war was employed again and again by Paul.


[39] Alan G. Nute, op. cit., p. 508.

Verse 19

holding faith and a good conscience; which some having thrust from them made shipwreck concerning the faith:

Faith and a good conscience ... The obedience of faith is meant by this as in this quotation from Wallis:

The whole gospel message embraces both doctrine and obedience. The faith is what we believe about Christ; good conscience is not allowing the conscience to be defiled by sinful practices contrary to the doctrine.[40]SIZE>

Made shipwreck ... Scholars are very tender with regard to interpretations of this, as in the following:

We are not justified in interpreting "suffered shipwreck" as though it meant they were lost beyond hope of recovery. St. Paul himself had suffered shipwreck at least four times when he wrote this, and had on each occasion lost everything except himself.[41]SIZE>

While true enough that Paul did survive four shipwrecks, the fact is that shipwrecks are usually fatal to some and frequently to all who may be aboard; and there is certainly nothing in the passage that denies shipwrecks as equivalent to "spiritual death" in a passage like this. To be sure, this does not deny hope to any who might DESIRE to recover themselves out of the snare of the evil one. See under 2 Timothy 2:24f.

[40] Wilbur B. Wallis, op. cit., p. 846.

[41] Newport J. D. White, op. cit., p. 101.

Verse 20

of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I delivered to Satan, that they might be taught not to blaspheme.

Hymenaeus ... Many scholars, along with Spence, agree that "Hymenaeus is probably identical with the heretic of this name, charged in the second Epistle as teaching that the resurrection was passed already!"[42]

Alexander ... Although some have done so, it would appear to be precarious to identify this character with "Alexander the coppersmith" (2 Timothy 4:14), or with another Alexander mentioned in Acts 19:33.

Whom I delivered to Satan ... Another glimpse of this same apostolic power is found in the case of the incestuous person (1 Corinthians 5:5), and this is a power no longer on earth. From this and other passages it is clear that the apostles had such power; but it came to an end with the cessation of miracles. Hendriksen also was of the opinion that the exercise of it meant excommunication from the church, but that it also included "even more than this, bodily suffering or disease."[43]

This may strike us as unbelievable, but is it after all so strange that added to the charismatic gift of bodily healing was the power to inflict bodily suffering? If we deny the latter, should we not also deny the former?[44]SIZE>

The wisdom of the venerable Adam Clarke supplied the following observation upon this apostolic gift:

No such power as this remains in the church of God, and none should be assumed; and the pretensions to it are as wicked as they are vain. It was the same power by which Ananias and Sapphira were struck dead, and Elymas the sorcerer struck blind. Apostles alone were entrusted with it.[45]SIZE>

That such views as those of Clarke are correct would appear to be implicit in the fact of the stated purpose of the infliction, namely, that these two heretics may "be taught not to blaspheme."

Not to blaspheme ... Such evil teaching as that of denying the resurrection was equivalent in every way to "speaking against God." It is absurd to suppose that St. Paul here refers to a railing disparagement of his own apostolic claims."[46] We are not told here of the exact nature of their "blasphemy," but something far more serious than opposition to Paul is indicated. The two sinners singled out in this verse were gross offenders whom Paul punished for the sake of checking the damage which their example might otherwise have wrought in the church. If the denial of any future resurrection was involved in their behavior, along with the teaching that "the resurrection was passed already," this would have led to the exercise of all kinds of sins in the church. "That suggests that they were antinomians, teaching that believers should continue in sin that grace may abound (Romans 6:1).[47]

[42] H. D. M. Spence, op. cit., p. 183.

[43] William Hendriksen, op. cit., p. 87.

[44] Ibid.

[45] Adam Clarke, Commentary on the Whole Bible, Vol. VI (London: Carlton and Porter, 1829), p. 213.

[46] Newport J. D. White, op. cit., p. 102.

[47] F. F. Bruce, Answers to Questions (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1972), p. 113.

02 Chapter 2

Verse 1

Some scholars deny that this chapter records regulations with regard to the public services of the churches, but the vast majority agree that Paul's purpose is clearly that of laying down instructions for conducting the public services of the congregations. As David Lipscomb stated it, "He laid down rules for the men in the public worship, and then gave rules for the women."[1] Wallis referred the chapter to "the public worship";[2] Nute said it stressed "the importance of public prayer";[3] Spence was sure that the thing in view here is "prayers offered by the congregation."[4]

However, more is covered in this chapter than prayer regulations, for the entire aspect of Christian assemblies is the subject of Paul's instruction, even including guidelines for the proper dress and adornment of the worshipers. Moreover, the Christological passage (1 Timothy 2:5-7) is in no sense a parenthesis, being related to the great mission of the church in its outreach to all people, and the stress laid upon this in the public prayers.

[1] David Lipscomb, Commentary on First Timothy (Nashville: The Gospel Advocate Company, 1942), p. 142.

[2] Wilbur B. Wallis, Wycliffe Bible Commentary, New Testament (Chicago: Moody Press, 1971), p. 847.

[3] Alan G. Nute, A New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1969), p. 509.

[4] H. D. M. Spence, Ellicott's Bible Commentary, Vol. VIII, Introduction to the Pastorals (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1959), p. 184.

I exhort therefore, first of all, that supplications, prayers, intercessions, thanksgivings, may be made for all men; for kings and all that are in high place; that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and gravity. (1 Timothy 2:1-2)

I exhort therefore ... This form of the apostolic command does not alter the force of it, which has the meaning of "I command." Paul is not revealing here that which would please him, but that which is the will of God.

First of all ... This indicates the primary importance of the public prayers of the church, and not necessarily that public prayers should be first in the order of worship. Paul's use of "first" throughout all of his writings generally has the meaning of "the first thing I wish to write." However, by this initial stress of the prayers, the primary importance of them is surely indicated. "Prayer in all its forms should occupy a central place in the church's service of worship."[5]

Supplications, prayers, intercessions, thanksgivings ... The general meaning of this is "all kinds of prayers"; and, as Lenski put it, "Here are four words for prayers."[6] And, as Spence said:

Many attempts, some of them not very happy ones, have been made by grammarians and commentators to distinguish between these terms, each of which denotes prayer.[7]SIZE>

The supplications are petitions addressed to God; prayers include petitions but also thanksgivings, adorations, etc.; intercessions are usually thought of as pleas upon behalf of others; and the thanksgivings are expressions of gratitude and appreciation for blessings God has already bestowed, no prayer, in any sense, being complete without thanksgivings.

For kings and all that are in high place ... Here is only a glimpse of the Christian philosophy with regard to government, a teaching which Paul spelled out in detail in Romans 13:1ff. The true Christian stands for law and order, any government being far better than none at all. Nero was at the time of Paul's writing the emperor; and, as Dummelow put it, "The apostle's instruction shows that the prayers of the church are to be offered for bad rulers as well as for good."[8]

All that are in high place ... This includes all who are in authority regardless of rank, taking in the administrative assistants in government as well as heads of state. The intense missionary thrust of this whole passage is inherent in the repetition of "all" throughout the passage, as well as in the missionary reference in 1 Timothy 2:7.

That we may lead a tranquil and quiet life ... Christians are not to be revolutionaries in the sense of that word today, although the influence of the gospel, properly advocated, can and does have a therapeutic effect upon the entire society. Tranquillity and quietness are inherent traits of the true followers of Jesus Christ.

In all godliness and gravity ... The first noun here has reference to the discharge of religious duties; and, according to Lenski, gravity refers to "dignified and worthy conduct toward our fellow men."[9] There is also evident in these verses the reason for offering prayers upon behalf of governmental authorities. Such rulers as kings can, by their mistakes, bring untold sorrow upon all their subjects, as well as rich blessings through righteous rule. Therefore, the church should never forget to pray for such leaders.

Nebuchadnezzar was compelled to eat grass with the beasts of the field for seven years in order to learn the lesson that "The Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men" (Daniel 4:25); and it is feared that many today are in need of learning the same lesson. Christian prayers are therefore a means of putting into God's hands an instrument for overruling the affairs of human kingdoms for the benefit of God's children.

[5] J. Glenn Gould, Beacon Bible Commentary (Kansas City: Beacon Hill Press, 1965), p. 569.

[6] R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. Paul's Epistles ... to Timothy (Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1937), p. 538.

[7] H. D. M. Spence, op. cit., p. 184.

[8] J. R. Dummelow, Commentary on the Holy Bible (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1937), p. 997.

[9] R. C. H. Lenski, op. cit., p. 541.

Verse 3

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