1 Timothy Chapter 1:3-17 Antique Commentary Quotes

John Calvin
1 Timothy 1:3
3.As I besought thee Either the syntax is elliptical, or the particle ἵνα is redundant; and in both cases the meaning will be obvious. First, he reminds Timothy why he was besought to remain at Ephesus. It was with great reluctance, and through hard necessity, that he parted with a companion so dearly beloved and so faithful, in order that he might laboriously hold the part of his deputy, which no other man would have been competent to fill; and, therefore, Timothy must have been powerfully excited by this consideration, not only not to throw away his time, but to conduct himself in an excellent and distinguished manner.

I wish that thou shouldst forbid any. Thus, by way of inference, he exhorts him to oppose the false teachers who corrupted pure doctrine. In the injunction given to Timothy, to occupy his place at Ephesus, we ought to observe the holy anxiety of the Apostle; for while he labored so much to collect many churches he did not leave the former churches destitute of a pastor. And indeed, as an ancient writer remarks, “To keep what has been gained is not a smaller virtue than to make new acquisitions.” The word forbid denotes power; for Paul wishes to arm him with power to restrain others.

Not to teach differently The Greek word (ἑτεροδιδασκαλεῖν) which Paul employs, is a compound, and, therefore, may either be translated, “to teach differently,” or after a new method, or, “to teach a different doctrine.” The translation given by Erasmus, ( sectari ,) “ to follow,” does not satisfy me; because it might be understood to apply to the hearers. Now Paul means those who, for the sake of ambition, brought forward a new doctrine.

If we read it, “to teach differently,” the meaning will be more extensive; for by this expression he will forbid Timothy to permit any new forms of teaching to be introduced, which do not agree with the true and pure doctrine which he had taught. Thus, in the Second Epistle, he recommends ὑποτύπωσις, that is, a lively picture of his doctrine. (2Ti_1:13.) For, as the truth of God is one, so is there but one plain manner of teaching it, which is free from false ornament, and which partakes more of the majesty of the Spirit than of the parade of human eloquence. Whoever departs from that, disfigures and corrupts the doctrine itself; and, therefore, “to teach differently,” must relate to the form.
If we read it, “to teach something different,” it will relate to the matter. Yet it is worthy of observation, that we give the name of another doctrine not only to that which is openly at variance with the pure doctrine of the gospel, but to everything that either corrupts the pure gospel by new and borrowed inventions, or obscures it by ungodly speculations. For all the inventions of men are so many corruptions of the gospel; and they who make sport of the Scriptures, as ungodly people are accustomed to do, so as to turn Christianity into an act of display, darken the gospel. His manner of teaching therefore, is entirely opposed to the word of God, and to that purity of doctrine in which Paul enjoins the Ephesians to continue.

Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown
1 Timothy 1:3
Timothy’s superintendence of the Church at Ephesus was as locum tenens for the apostle, and so was temporary. Thus, the office of superintending overseer, needed for a time at Ephesus or Crete, in the absence of the presiding apostle, subsequently became a permanent institution on the removal, by death, of the apostles who heretofore superintended the churches. The first title of these overseers seems to have been “angels” (Rev_1:20).

As I besought thee to abide still — He meant to have added, “so I still beseech thee,” but does not complete the sentence until he does so virtually, not formally, at 1Ti_1:18.

at Ephesus — Paul, in Act_20:25, declared to the Ephesian elders, “I know that ye all shall see my face no more.” If, then, as the balance of arguments seems to favor (see on Introduction), this Epistle was written subsequently to Paul’s first imprisonment, the apparent discrepancy between his prophecy and the event may be reconciled by considering that the terms of the former were not that he should never visit Ephesus again (which this verse implies he did), but that they all should “see his face no more.” I cannot think with Birks, that this verse is compatible with his theory, that Paul did not actually visit Ephesus, though in its immediate neighborhood (compare 1Ti_3:14; 1Ti_4:13). The corresponding conjunction to “as” is not given, the sentence not being completed till it is virtually so at 1Ti_1:18.

I besought — a mild word, instead of authoritative command, to Timothy, as a fellow helper.

some — The indefinite pronoun is slightly contemptuous as to them (Gal_2:12; Jud_1:4), [Ellicott].

teach no other doctrine — than what I have taught (Gal_1:6-9). His prophetic bodings some years before (Act_20:29, Act_20:30) were now being realized (compare 1Ti_6:3).

Pulpit Commentary
Exhorted for besought, A.V.; tarry for abide still, A.V.; was going for went, A.V.; certain men for some, A.V.; not to teach a different for that they teach no other, A.V. Exhorted (παρεκάλεσα). In about sixty places this word has the sense of “beseech,” “entreat,” “desire,” “pray,” which is more suitable to this passage than the R.V. exhort. It is a strong expression, and seems to imply that Timothy had been anxious to go with St. Paul to Macedonia, to share his labors and wait upon him; but that St. Paul, with that noble disinterestedness which characterized his whole life, had, not without difficulty, persuaded him to abide at Ephesus.

Tarry. Here again the R.V. is unfortunate. The exact sense of προσμεῖναι is “to stay on,” or, as in the A.V., “to abide still.” The word tells us that Timothy was already at Ephesus when he received the request from St. Paul to stay on there instead of going to Macedonia. There is nothing in the phrase that implies that St. Paul was at Ephesus himself when he made the request to Timothy. It may have been made by message or by letter. When I was going. Some commentators have endeavored to explain πορευόμενος as applying to Timothy, or as if the order were ἵνα πορευόμενος παραγγείλῃς; but the Greek will not admit of it.

Charge (παραγγείλῃς); a word implying authority, almost invariably rendered “command” or “charge.” It is taken up in 1Ti_1:18 (ταύτην τὴν παραγγελίαν), “This charge,” etc.

Teach a different doctrine (ἑτεροδιδασκαλεῖν). This is one of the many words peculiar to the pastoral Epistles. It only occurs here and 1Ti_6:3. It is formed from ἑτεροδιδάσκαλος, a teacher of other than right doctrine, and means “to play the part of a teacher of other than right doctrine,” just as in ecclesiastical language ἐτερόδοξος means “one who holds opinions contrary to that which is orthodox,” and such as do so are said ἑτεροδοξεῖν. The classical sense is a little different, “one who holds a different opinion”—”to be of a different opinion.” The introduction of the word into the vocabulary of Scripture is a sign of the somewhat later age to which this Epistle belongs, when heresies were growing and multiplying. Other similar compounds are ἑτερόγλωσσος (1Co_14:21) and ἑτεροζυγεῖν (2Co_6:14).

Albert Barnes
1 Timothy 1:3
As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus – It is clear from this, that Paul and Timothy had been laboring together at Ephesus, and the language accords with the supposition that Paul had been compelled to leave before he had completed what he had designed to do there. See the Intro. Section 2.

When I went into Macedonia – Having been driven away by the excitement caused by Demetrius and his fellow-craftsmen; Act_20:1. See the Intro. Section 2, 3.

That thou mightest charge some – The word charge here – παραγγειλης parangeilēs – seems to mean more than is commonly implied by the word as used by us. If it had been a single direction or command, it might have been given by Paul himself before he left, but it seems rather to refer to that continuous instruction which would convince these various errorists and lead them to inculcate only the true doctrine. As they may have been numerous – as they may have embraced various forms of error, and as they might have had plausible grounds for their belief, this was evidently a work requiring time, and hence Timothy was left to effect this at leisure. It would seem that the wrath which had been excited against Paul had not affected Timothy, but that he was permitted to remain and labor without molestation. It is not certainly known who these teachers were, but they appear to have been of Jewish origin, and to have inculcated the special sentiments of the Jews respecting the law.

That they teach no other doctrine – That is, no other doctrine than that taught by the apostles. The Greek word here used is not found in the classic writers, and does not elsewhere occur in the New Testament, except in 1Ti_6:3 of this Epistle, where it is rendered “teach otherwise.” We may learn here what was the design for which Timothy was left at Ephesus.

(1) It was for a temporary purpose, and not as a permanent arrangement. It was to correct certain errors prevailing there which Paul would have been able himself soon to correct if he had been suffered to remain. Paul expected soon to return to him again, and then they would proceed unitedly with their work; 1Ti_4:13; 1Ti_3:15.

(2) It was not that he might be the “Bishop” of Ephesus. There is no evidence that he was “ordained” there at all, as the subscription to the Second Epistle declares (see the notes on that subscription), nor were the functions which he was to perform, those of a prelatical bishop. He was not to take the charge of a “diocese,” or to ordain ministers of the “second rank,” or to administer the rite of confirmation, or to perform acts of discipline. He was left there for a purpose which is specified, and that is as far as possible from what are now regarded as the appropriate functions of a prelatical bishop. Perhaps no claim which has ever been set up has had less semblance of argument than that which asserts that Timothy was the “Bishop of Ephesus.” See this clause examined in my “Inquiry into the Organization and Government of the Apostolic Church,” pp. 84-107.

John Calvin
1 Timothy 1:4
4And not to give heed to fables He applies the term “fables,” in my opinion, not only to contrived falsehoods, but to trifles or fooleries which have no solidity; for it is possible that something which is not false may yet be fabulous. In this sense, Suetonius speaks of fabulous history, and Livy employs the word fabulari , “to relate fables,” as denoting useless and foolish talk. And, undoubtedly, the wordμῦθος, (which Paul here employs,) is equivalent to the Greek word φλυαρία, that is, “trifles.” Moreover, by bringing forward one class by way of example, he has removed all doubt; for disputes about genealogies are enumerated by him amongst fables, not because everything that can be said about them is fictitious, but because it is useless and unprofitable.

This passage, therefore, may thus be explained: — “Let them not give heed to fables of that character and description to which genealogies belong.” And that is actually the fabulous history of which Suetonius speaks, and which even among grammarians, has always been justly ridiculed by persons of sound judgment; for it was impossible not to regard as ridiculous that curiosity which, neglecting useful knowledge, spent the whole life in examining the genealogy of Achilles and Ajax, and wasted its powers in reckoning up the sons of Priam. If this be not endured in childish knowledge, in which there is room for that which affords pleasure, how much more intolerable is it heavenly wisdom?

And to genealogies haste have end He calls them endless, because vain curiosity has no limit, but continually falls from labyrinth to labyrinth.
Which produce questions He judges of doctrine by the fruit; for every thing that does not edify ought to be rejected, although it has no other fault; and everything that is of no avail but for raising contentions, ought to be doubly condemned. And such are all the subtle questions on which ambitious men exercise their faculties. Let us, therefore, remember, that all doctrines must be tried by this rule, that those which contribute to edification may be approved, and that those which give ground for unprofitable disputes may be rejected as unworthy of the Church of God.

If this test had been applied during several centuries, although religion had been stained by many errors, at least that diabolical art of disputing, which has obtained the appellation of Scholastic Theology, would not have prevailed to so great an extent. For what does that theology contain but contentions or idle speculations, from which no advantage is derived? Accordingly, the more learned a man is in it, we ought to account him the more wretched. I am aware of the plausible excuses by which it is defended, but they will never make out that Paul has spoken falsely in condemning, everything of the sort.

Rather than the edification of God. Subtleties of this description edify in pride, and edify in vanity, but not in God. He calls it “the edification of God,” either because God approves of it, or because it is agreeable to the nature of God.

Which consist in faith. He next shews that this edification consists in faith; and by this term he does not exclude the love of our neighbor, or the fear of God, or repentance; for what are all these but fruits of “faith” which always produces the fear of God? Knowing that all the worship of God is founded on faith alone, he therefore reckoned it enough to mention “faith,” on which all the rest depend.

Cambridge Bible Humphreys
4. fables and endless genealogies] Ellicott following Chrysostom and the early Greek commentators regards the false teaching as arising from Jewish, perhaps Cabbalistic sources, and only an affluent afterwards of the later and more definite Gnosticism—Rabbinical fables and fabrications in history and doctrine, and vague rambling genealogies—in the proper sense, but very possibly combined with wild speculative allegories. See Introduction, pp. 45 sqq.; Appendix, B.

which minister questions] Rather with R.V. the which minister questionings—‘the which’ implying the force of the pronoun ‘which are of such a kind as to’; and ‘questionings’ suggesting better the process and state of questioning which the form of the noun conveys. The compound noun which is the right reading implies painful, elaborate questionings, so the verb 1Pe_1:10 ‘searched diligently.’

godly edifying] Read with the best mss. (and the Received Text which the A.V. has not followed here) a dispensation of God—the divine economy or scheme of salvation to be apprehended by faith. They whom Timothy was thus to correct had or might have learnt exactly what St Paul meant by this dispensing of grace on God’s part from the eloquent passage in his own letter to them, Eph_3; ‘the dispensation of that grace of God,’ ver. 2; ‘to make all men see what is the dispensation of the mystery,’ ver. 9.

in faith] That is, as Theod. Mops. puts it, we lay hold of the plan of salvation by ‘a historic faith’—‘getting our proof of its truth from the facts themselves of the life of God incarnate.’

ICC Lock
4. προσέχειν (c. dat. 3:8, 4:1, 13, Tit_1:14: also Luke (2), Acts (6), Heb (2), not in the earlier letters; but cf. Act_20:28).

μυθ καὶ γεν. ἀπεράντοις] ἀπέραντος, used with a note of impatient scorn (cf. ἀπεραντολογία, ἀπεραντολογεῖν; Athenæus, Strabo ap. Wetstein), is the emphatic word, and probably qualifies both μυθ. and γεν. Cf. the similar protest in Epict. iii. 24, σὺ δʼ Ὀμήρῳ πάντα προσέχεις καὶ τοῖς μύθοις αὐτοῦ (Dibelius).

μυθ. καὶ γεν. to be taken closely together, μύθοι being defined by γενεαλογίαι, legendary stories about genealogies; but γενεαλογίαι was used widely of any mythologies connected with the history of early founders of states. Cf. Polyb. Hist. ix. 1, 4, where ὁ γενεαλογικὸς τρόπος of the historian is contrasted with the parts which deal with colonizations, foundations of cities, the policy of nations, and is said to be specially attractive to the inquisitive; and ib. 2. 1, τὰ περὶ τὰς γενεαλογίας καὶ μύθους, is contrasted with these more historical parts. So Philo calls the history of the patriarchs in the Pentateuch τὸ γενεαλογικὸν μέρος (de V. Mosis, ii. 8).

There may be implied here a contrast with the short, clear historical life and teaching of the Lord, “the mystery of godliness” summed up in 3:16. Cf. 2 P 1:16 οὐ γὰρ σεσοφισμένοις μύθοις ἐξακολουθήσαντες ἐγνωρίσαμεν ὑμῖν τὴν τοῦ Κ. ἡμῶν Ἰ. Χρ. δύναμιν καὶ παρουσίαν.

The exact reference of the words is uncertain.

(i) Probably they refer to something Jewish; and if so, to legends and stories centring round the pedigree of the patriarchs and O.T. history which were handed down in tradition, the Rabbinical Haggada, and which are prominent in Jewish Apocalypses (so cf. Hort, Judaistic Christianity, p. 135), and were used to support the institutions of the Jewish law. The Book of Jubilees, “an attempt to rewrite primitive history from the standpoint of the law,” based on τὸ γενεαλογικόν and introducing many legends about evil spirits, or “The Book (attributed to Philo) concerning Biblical Antiquities,” a legendary chronicle of O.T. history from Adam to Saul, dating from the 1st century a.d. (ed. M. R. James, S.P.C.K., 1917), would be the best illustrations of this. Cf. also Justin M. Dial. c. Tr. c. 112; Irenæus, 1:30, for similar profitless discussions. This Jewish reference is made probable (i) by the fact that these teachers claimed to be νομοδιδάσκαλοι: (ii) by the clear reference in Tit_1:14 Ἰουδαϊκοῖς μύθοις: 3:9 γενεαλογίας καὶ ἔρεις καὶ μάχας νομικάς: (iii) by Ign. ad Magn. c. 8 (possibly an allusion to this place), where μυθεύμασιν παλαιοῖς πλανᾶσθαι is a note of living κατὰ Ἰουδαϊσμόν. (iv) The allusion to Jannes and Jambres, 2Ti_3:8, is perhaps drawn from such legendary Haggada.

This reference is supported by Chrys., Pelagius, Thdt. τὴν Ἰουδαϊκὴν ἑρμηνείαν τὴν ὑπʼ αὐτῶν καλουμένην δευτέρωσιν: and Ambrosiaster, “de fabulis quas narrare consueti sunt Judæi de generatione suarum originum.” F. H. Colson (J. Th. St. xix. 265-271) thinks that the reference is not to a Pharisaic Judaism, but to a “somewhat conceited pseudo-Hellenic Judaism,” which treated the O.T. as the “grammatici” and “rhetores” treated Homer in literary circles; and he quotes a similar criticism of such points by Suetonius, Tiberius, c. 70, “Maxime curavit notitiam historiæ fabularis, usque ad ineptias atque derisum,” quoted with other reff. by Mayor on Juv. 7. 234.

(ii) But, possibly, to the genealogies of the æons, which in Gnostic teaching separated the supreme God from the material world, cf. 4:1-4. Irenæus directly applied these words to the teaching of Valentinus (adv. Hær. præf. i.), and so did Tertullian (Præscr. 7 and 33); but neither states that our writer was referring to them, for Irenæus applies Mat_7:15 and Tertullian Col_2:8, Gal_4:3, Gal_5:2 to the same heretics; and Tert. (adv. Valent. 3) supposes St. Paul to anticipate these teachers, and to meet the germs of their teaching (“his jam nunc pullulantibus seminibus hæreticis damnare prævenit”); cf. Introd. p. xvii.

ἐκζητήσεις] Here only in N.T., “out-of-the-way researches” (Cf. ἐκζητεῖν, Ecclus 39:1, 3 (of the Jewish Rabbi, σοφίαν πάντων ἀρχαίων ἐκζητήσει . . . ἀπόκρυφα παροιμιῶν ἐκζητήσει), 1 P 1:10 and “eruere”). For the distinction from ζητήματα, cf. Act_15:2 γενομένης . . . ζητησέως οὐκ ὀλίγης ἔταξαν . . . ἀναβαίνειν II. καὶ B. περὶ τοῦ ζητήματος τούτου.

οἰκονομίαν θεοῦ] “God’s stewardship,” i.e. they do not help them to carry out the stewardship entrusted to them by God; cf. Tit_1:7 ὡς θεοῦ οἰκονόμον: supra 1 κατʼ ἐπιταγήν: 11 ἐπιστεύθην. Ign. ad Eph_6, πάντα ὃν πέμπει ὁ οἰκοδεσπότης εἰς ἰδίαν οἰκονομίαν. The metaphor is a favourite one with St. Paul (cf. esp. 1Co_9:17) and St. Luke: elsewhere only in 1 P 4:10. This is ultimately “God’s own method,” His “scheme of salvation” (cf. Eph_1:10, Ign. Eph. 18, 20 (ubi v. Lightfoot), Clem. Alex. Strom. i. 24: οἰκονομία καθʼ ἣν ἐπαιδεύοντο Ἑβραῖοι . . . εἰς μόνον τὸ πιστεύειν τὸν θεὸν εἶναι (quoted with other interesting illustrations in Tatiani, Or., ed. Schwarz, Texte und Unters. i. 4, 1, pp. 86-90); but the analogy of Tit_1:7 shows that this is not the primary thought here, and is almost conclusive against the reading of the Western text, οἰκοδομήν, for which cf. 3:15, 1Co_3:9, and supra, p. xxxvi.

τὴν ἐν πίστει] which has faith as its central principle—faith in the steward (cf. 1) and faith in those whom he teaches (cf. 5); faith, not abstruse questionings (cf. 4); faith, not stress on law (7-11); cf. Col_2, Gal_3.

Pulpit Commentary
To give for give, A.V.; the which for which, A.V.; questionings for questions, A.V.; a dispensation of God for godly edifying, A.V. and T.R. (οἰκονομίαν Θεοῦ for οἰκοδομίαν Θεοῦ); so do I now for so do, A.V. Fables (see 1Ti_4:7). If the spirit which gave birth to the fables of the Talmud was already at work among the Jews, we have a ready explanation of the phrase. And that they were Jewish fables (not later Gnostic delusions) is proved by the parallel passage in Tit_1:14, “Not giving heed to Jewish fables.” The prevalence of sorcery among the Jews at this time is a further instance of their inclination to fable (see Act_8:9; Act_13:6; Act_19:13).

Endless genealogies. What was the particular abuse of genealogies which St. Paul here condemns we have not sufficient historical knowledge to enable us to decide. But that they were Jewish forms of “vain talking,” and not Gnostic, and related to human pedigrees, not to “emanations of eons,” may be concluded from the connection in which they are mentioned in Tit_3:9, and from the invariable meaning of the word γενεαλογία itself. It is true that Irenaeus (‘Contr. Haer.,’ lib. 1.) applies this passage to the Valentinians and their succession of eons (Bythus, Nous, Logos, Anthropus, etc.—in all thirty, male and female); and so does Tertullian, who speaks of the seeds of the Gnostic heresies as already budding in St. Paul’s days (‘Advers Valentin.,’ cap 3. and elsewhere), and Grotius supports thin explanation (‘Comment.,’ 1Ti_1:4). But it was very natural that Irenaeus and Tertullian, living when the heresies of Valentinus, Marcion, and others were at their height, should so accommodate St. Paul’s words—which is all that Irenaeus does. On the other band, neither Irenaeus nor Tertullian shows that γενεαλογία was a word applied to the emanations of the eons in the Gnostic vocabulary. The genealogies, then, were Jewish pedigrees, either used literally to exalt individuals as being of priestly or Davidic origin (as the pedigrees of the Desposyni, or later of the princes of the Captivity), or used cabbalistically, so as to draw fanciful doctrines from the names composing a genealogy, or in some other way which we do not know of (see the writers ‘Genealogies of Christ,’ 1Ti_3:1-16. § 1Ti_2:1; and note C at the end of the volume).

Endless (ἀπέραντος); found only here in the New Testament and so one of the words peculiar to the pastoral Epistles, but used in the LXX. for “infinite,” “immeasurable.” It means either “endless,” “interminable,” or, “having no useful end or purpose;” οὐδὲν χρήσιμον (Chrysostom). But the former (“interminable”) is the better rendering, and in accordance with its classical use.

Questionings (ζητήσεις or ἐκζητήσεις, R.T.). (For ζητησις, see Joh_3:25; Act_25:20; and below, 1Ti_6:4; 2Ti_2:23; Tit_3:9; and for the kindred ζήτημα, Act_15:2; Act_18:15; Act_23:1-35. 29; Act_25:19; Act_26:3.) The reading ἐκζήτησις is only found here.

A dispensation of God. This version arises from the Greek οἰκονομίαν, which is the reading of the R.T. and almost all manuscripts. The T.R. οἰκοδομίαν is thought to be a conjecture of Erasmus, which, from its much easier sense, was taken into the T.R. Taking the reading οἰκονομίαν, the phrase, “a dispensation of God which is in faith,” must mean the gospel as delivered by revelation and received by faith. These fables and genealogies address themselves, the apostle says, to the disputatious, itching curiosity of men’s minds, not to their faith. The substance of them is matter of doubtful disputation, not revealed truth. “The dispensation” is better English than “a dispensation.” So do I now; or, as the A.V., so do, is the conjectural filling up of the unfinished sentence which began “as I exhorted thee.” But it is much more natural and simple to take verse 18 as the apodosis, and the intermediate verses as a digression caused by St. Paul’s desire to show how exactly the charge was in agreement with the true spirit of the Law of God.

John Calvin
1 Timothy 1:5
Those unprincipled men with whom Timothy had to deal, boasted of having the law on their side, in consequence of which Paul anticipates, and shews that the law gives them no support but was even opposed to them, and that it agreed perfectly with the gospel which he had taught. The defense set up by them was not unlike that which is pleaded by those who, in the present day, subject the word of God to torture. They tell us that we aim at nothing else than to destroy sacred theology, as if they alone nourished it in their bosom. They spoke of the law in such a manner as to exhibit Paul in an odious light. And what is his reply? In order to scatter those clouds of smoke, he comes frankly forward, by way of anticipation, and proves that his doctrine is in perfect harmony with the law, and that the law is utterly abused by those who employ it for any other purpose. In like manner, when we now define what is meant by true theology, it is clearly evident that we desire the restoration of that which had been wretchedly torn and disfigured by those triflers who, puffed up by the empty title of theologians, are acquainted with nothing but vapid and unmeaning trifles. Commandment is here put for the law, by taking a part for the whole.

Love out of a pure heart If the law must be directed to this object, that we may be instructed in love, which proceeds from faith and a good conscience, it follows, on the other hand, that they who turn the teaching of it into curious questions are wicked expounders of the law. Besides, it is of no great importance whither the word love be regarded in this passage as relating, to both tables of the law, or only to the second table. We are commanded to love God with our whole heart, and our neighbors as ourselves; but when love is spoken of in Scripture, it is more frequently limited to the second part. On the present occasion I should not hesitate to understand by it the love both of God and of our neighbor, if Paul had employed the word love alone; but when he adds, “faith, and a good conscience, and a pure heart,” the interpretation which I am now to give will not be at variance with his intention, and will agree well with the scope of the passage. The sum of the law is this, that we may worship God with true faith and a pure conscience, and that we may love one another. Whosoever turns aside from this corrupts the law of God by twisting it to a different purpose.

But here arises a doubt, that Paul appears to prefer “love” to “faith.” I reply, they who are of that opinion reason in an excessively childish manner; for, if love is first mentioned, it does not therefore hold the first rank of honor, since Paul shows also that it springs from faith. Now the cause undoubtedly goes before its effect. And if we carefully weigh the whole context, what Paul says is of the same import as if he had said, “The law was given to us for this purpose, that it might instruct us in faith, which is the mother of a good conscience and of love.” Thus we must begin with faith, and not with love.

“A pure heart” and “a good conscience” do not greatly differ from each other. Both proceed from faith; for, as to a pure heart, it is said that “God purifieth hearts by faith.” (Act_15:9.) As to a good conscience, Peter declares that it is founded on the resurrection of Christ. (1Pe_3:21.) From this passage we also learn that there is no true love where there is not fear of God and uprightness of conscience.

Nor is it unworthy of observation that to each of them he adds an epithet; for, as nothing is more common, so nothing is more easy, than to boast of faith and a good conscience. But how few are there who prove by their actions that they are free from all hypocrisy! Especially it is proper to observe the epithet Which he bestows on “faith,” when he calls it faith unfeigned; by which he means that the profession of it is insincere, when we do not perceive a good conscience, and when love is not manifested. Now since the salvation of men rests on faith, and since the perfect worship of God rests on faith and a good conscience and love, we need not wonder if Paul makes the sum of the law to consist of them.

Cambridge Bible Humphreys
5. Now the end of the commandment] Better, But the end of the charge, ‘but’ rather than ‘now’ because it is not so much the commencement of a new paragraph as a positive statement of the true aim of the ministry to counteract the statement just made of false aims, so completing the paragraph. ‘The charge,’ the verb or noun occurs seven times in this epistle, and as thus constantly present to St Paul might almost give a second title to the epistle of ‘The Chief Pastor’s Charge,’ 4:11, 5:7, 6:13-17. Here one of the best comments is in the Bishop’s words at the Ordination of Priests in the English Prayer Book, ‘Be thou a faithful dispenser of the word of God,’ ‘Take thou authority to preach the word of God.’

charity] love, a life of active love and union; the opposite of the ‘strifes’ which result from ‘questionings,’ 2Ti_2:23. It is important to keep the English word ‘love’ as the equivalent of the Greek word agapè throughout the New Testament, as the Revisers have very properly done. It is a characteristic word, and only confusion is introduced in the mind of English readers by sometimes rendering it ‘charity.’

a pure heart] thoroughly bent on turning from sin and youthful lusts, honestly growing in righteousness, 2Ti_2:22.

of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned] ‘Conscience’ is one of St Paul’s most characteristic words; out of 32 places where it occurs in N.T. 23 are of his using either in speech or writing, six of these belonging to the Pastoral Epistles. See Appendix, D. Literally the word means ‘knowing with’ and Bp Westcott draws out this idea in his definition, “It presents man as his own judge. Man does not stand alone. He has direct knowledge of a law—a law of God—which claims his obedience, and he has direct knowledge also of his own conduct. He cannot then but compare them and give sentence. His ‘conscience’ as the power directing this process is regarded apart from himself (Rom_9:1; Rom_2:15).” See his Additional Note, Heb_9:9.

Cambridge Greek Testament Bernard
1 Timothy 1:5. τὸ δὲ τέλος. But (sc. in contrast with the irrelevant teaching of the ἑτεροδιδάσκαλοι) the aim, or final cause: cp. Rom_10:4.
τῆς παραγγελίας. Of the charge. The reference is not to the Mosaic law, but to the whole of the practical teaching bound up with the Gospel; the word is suggested by παραγγείλῃς of 1Ti_1:3 (where see note). This is the charge with which Timothy was entrusted (1Ti_1:18).

ἐστὶν ἀγάπη. Is love, sc. to men, not to God, which is not here in question. On the other hand, the fanciful ζητήσεις of the false teachers bred strife (2Ti_2:23). As “love is the fulfilling of the Law” (Rom_13:10), so it is the aim and purpose of the Gospel ethics, as the greatest Christian grace (1Co_13:13). The word ἀγάπη has been described as “foreign to profane Greek” and as an ecclesiastical word, first appearing in literature in the LXX. But we find it in Egyptian Greek, in a letter, e.g., of the second century B.C.; and it is probable that the LXX. only took over and consecrated to high uses a word already current in the popular speech of Greek Egypt[514].
[514] See Deissmann, Bibelstudien, p. 81.

ἐκ καθαρᾶς καρδίας κ.τ.λ. The source of this ἀγάπη is threefold:—(i.) a pure heart, for which the Psalmist prayed (Psa_51:6); cp. Mat_5:8. καρδία stands in Scripture for the moral affections and emotions, the pathological, as contrasted with the intellectual, element of the moral faculty. Where this is corrupted (as was the case with the false teachers at Ephesus, 1Ti_6:5), the springs of moral action and spiritual insight (Mat_5:8) are poisoned, cp. 2Ti_2:22;—(ii.) a good conscience. The συνείδησις represents the self sitting in judgement on self; it stands for the self-conscious and rational element in the man. Emphasis is specially laid on a good conscience in the Pastorals, e.g. 1Ti_1:19, 1Ti_3:9, 2Ti_1:3; in sharp contrast with one who has a good conscience, the false teachers are κεκαυστηριασμένοι τὴν ἰδίαν συνείδησιν (1Ti_4:2); cp. 1Pe_3:16; Heb_13:18[515];—(iii.) faith unfeigned. This brings in a reference to God, as the source and spring of love. Love is indeed for man the outward and appropriate manifestation of faith; cp. πίστις διʼ ἀγάπης ἐνεργουμένη (Gal_5:6). The juxtaposition of a good conscience and faith is significant; all through the Pastorals the intimate connexion of the two, the close relation between creed and life, is a prominent thought (see on Tit_1:15). Again, we find this test of faith unfeigned lacking in the false teachers; they are ἀδόκιμοι περὶ τὴν πίστιν (2Ti_3:8). The word ἀνυπόκριτος is applied to faith here and at 2Ti_1:5; it is applied to love, Rom_12:9; 2Co_6:6.

[515] The necessity of a ‘pure conscience,’ if prayer is to be acceptable and effective, is frequently alluded to in the early liturgies, and also by Clement of Rome. See, for references, Lightfoot Clement I. 389 n. Cp. also the strong expression [2 Clem.] § 16 προσευχὴ δὲ καλῆς συνειδήσεως ἐκ θανάτου ῥύεται.

John Calvin
1 Timothy 1:6
6From which some having gone astray He continues to pursue the metaphor of an object or end; for the verb ἀστοχεῖν, the participle of which is here given, signifies to err or go aside from a mark.

Have turned aside to idle talking This is a remarkable passage, in which he condemns for “idle talking” all the doctrines which do not aim at this single end, and at the same time points out that the views and thoughts of all who aim at any other object vanish away. It is, indeed, possible that useless trifles may be regarded by many persons with admiration; but the statement of Paul remains unshaken, that everything that does not edify in godliness is ματαιολογία, “idle talking.” We ought; therefore to take the greatest possible care not to seek anything in the holy and sacred word of God but solid edification, lest otherwise he inflict on us severe punishment for abusing it.

Cambridge Bible Humphreys
1 Tim 1:6. from which] Plural from which things, that is the love and its threefold helpers, in the grace, the life, and the creed.

having swerved] Lit. ‘having missed the mark,’ another of the words peculiar to these epistles, occurring only ch. 6:21 and 2Ti_2:18.

vain jangling] empty talking; the word occurs in the adjective form once again, in the still stronger warning against the same class of teachers in Tit_1:10, where they are said to be mostly ‘of the Circumcision,’ and to give heed to ‘Jewish fables.’ The law of which they are setting themselves up to be teachers is of course the law of Moses, but corrupted by allegorical interpretations and philosophisings which whittled away the keen edge of its moral precepts and blunted all sense of the paramount necessity of holy living.

ICC Lock
1 Tim 1:6. ὧν] Failure in these moral qualities loses sight of the true goal; cf. 1:19.

ἀστοχ.] 6:21, 2Ti_2:18 (only in N.T.), Ecclus 7:19, 8:9, and common in Polybius and Plutarch, “failing to strike,” or perhaps, rather more definitely, “taking no pains to aim at the right path”; cf. the description of their character in 6:3-5, Ecclus 8:9 μὴ ἀστόχει διηγήματος γερόντων: and for the thought, Mat_7:14.

ἐξετραπ.] 5:15, 6:20, 2Ti_4:4, Heb_12:13 only in N.T. ματαιολογία here only in N.T.; cf. Tit_1:10, Rom_1:21.

John Calvin
1 Timothy 1:7
7Wishing to be teachers of the law He does not reprove those who openly attack the instruction of the law, but those who boast of belonging to the rank of teachers of it. He affirms that such persons have no understanding, because they harass their faculties to no purpose by curious questions. And, at the same time, he rebukes their pride by adding, —

Of what things they affirm, for none will be found more bold in pronouncing rashly on matters unknown to them than the teachers of such fables. We see in the present day with what pride and haughtiness the schools of the Sorbonne pronounce their authoritative decisions. And on what subjects? On those which are altogether hidden from the minds of men — which no word of Scripture, and no revelation has ever made known to us. With greater boldness do they affirm their purgatory than the resurrection of the dead. As to their contrivances about the intercession of the saints, if we do not hold them to be an undoubted oracle, they cry out that the whole of religion is overturned. What shall I say as to their vast labyrinths about the hierarchies of heaven, relationships, and similar contrivances? It is a matter that has no end. The Apostle declares that in all these is fulfilled what is said in a well-known ancient proverb,

“Ignorance is rash;” as he says that, “puffed up by their carnal mind, they intrude into things which they know not.”(Col_2:18.)

Albert Barnes
1 Timothy 1:7
Desiring to be teachers of the law – That is, to have the credit and reputation of being well versed in the law of Moses, and qualified to explain it to others. This was a high honor among the Jews, and these teachers laid claim to the same distinction.

Understanding neither what they say – That is, they do not understand the true nature and design of that law which they attempt to explain to others. This was true of the Jewish teachers, and equally so of those in the church at Ephesus, who attempted to explain it. They appear to have explained the law on the principles which commonly prevailed among the Jews, and hence their instructions tended greatly to corrupt the faith of the gospel. They made affirmations of what they knew nothing of, and though they made confident observations, yet they often pertained to things about which they had no knowledge. One needs only a slight acquaintance with the manner of teaching among Jewish rabbies, or with the things found in their traditions, to see the accuracy of this statement of the apostle. A sufficient illustration of this may be found in Allen’s “Modern Judaism.”

John Calvin
1 Timothy 1:8
8Now we know that the law is good He again anticipates the calumny with which they loaded him; for, whenever he resisted their empty display, they seized on this shield for their defense “What then? Do you wish to have the law buried, and blotted out of the remembrance of men?” In order to repel this calumny, Paul acknowledges that “the law is good,” but contends that we are required to make a lawful use of it. Here he argues from the use of cognate terms; for the word lawful (legitimus ) is derived from the word law (lex ). But he goes still further, and shews that the law agrees excellently with the doctrine which it teaches; and he even directs it against them.

Cambridge Bible Humphreys
1 Tim 1:8. But we know] Yet we are all aware, a correction or concession. St Paul uses ‘we know’ in a similar way, Rom_7:14, ‘I grant that the law is spiritual’; 1Co_8:3, ‘We are quite aware (with irony) that we all have knowledge.’

if a man use it lawfully] The regular Greek idiom corresponding with our passive, if it be handled as law should be, that is, by the teacher of the law. Ellicott gives the sense of the passage clearly, ‘The false teachers on the contrary, assuming that it was designed for the righteous man, urged their interpretations of it as necessary appendices to the Gospel.’

For the play on the word ‘law’ compare 2Ti_3:4, 2Ti_4:7, and better 1Ti_1:3, 1Ti_1:5, ‘charge,’ ‘charges.’

Pulpit Commentary
The Law is good (see the similar statement in Rom_7:12). The Jews thought that St. Paul spoke against the Law (comp. Act_6:13, Act_6:14), because he vindicated its true use (Rom_10:4; Gal_3:24; Gal_4:4, Gal_4:5, etc.). But he everywhere speaks of the Law as good and holy. If a man—i.e., a teacher of the Law—use it lawfully; knowing its proper use, as it follows in the next verse.

John Calvin
1 Timothy 1:9
9That the law is not made for a righteous man The apostle did not intend to argue about the whole office of the law, but views it in reference to men. It frequently happens that they who wish to be regarded as the greatest zealots for the law, give evidence by their whole life that they are the greatest despisers of it. A remarkable and striking instance of this is found in those who maintain the righteousness of works and defend free-will. They have continually in their mouth these words, “Perfect holiness, merits, satisfactions;” but their whole life cries out against them, that they are outrageously wicked and ungodly, that they provoke in every possible way the wrath of God, and fearlessly set his judgment at naught. They extol in lofty terms the free choice of good and evil; but they openly shew, by their actions, that they are the slaves of Satan, and are most firmly held by him in the chains of slavery.

Having such adversaries, in order to restrain their haughty insolence, Paul remonstrates that the law is, as it were, the sword of God to slay them; and that neither he nor any like him have reason for viewing the law with dread or aversion; for it is not opposed to righteous persons, that is, to the godly and to those who willingly obey God. I am well aware that some learned men draw an ingenious sense out of these words; as if Paul were treating theologically about the nature of “the law.” They argue that the law has nothing to do with the sons of God, who have been regenerated by the Spirit; because it was not given for righteous persons. But the connection in which these words occur shuts me up to the necessity of giving a more simple interpretation to this statement. He takes for granted the well-known sentiment, that “from bad manners have sprung good laws,” and maintains that the law of God was given in order to restrain the licentiousness of wicked men; because they who are good of their own accord do not need the authoritative injunction of the law.

A question now arises, “Is there any mortal man who does not belong to this class?” I reply, in this passage Paul gives the appellation “righteous” to those who are not absolutely perfect, (for no such person will be found,) but who, with the strongest desire of their heart, aim at what is good; so that godly desire is to them a kind of voluntary law, without any motive or restraint from another quarter. He therefore wished to repress the impudence of adversaries, who armed themselves with the name of “the law” against godly men, whose whole life exhibits the actual role of the law, since they had very great need of the law, and yet did not care much about it; which is more clearly expressed by the opposite clause. If there be any who refuse to admit that Paul brings an implied or indirect charge against his adversaries as guilty of those wicked acts which he enumerates, still it will be acknowledged to be a simple repelling of the slander; and if they were animated by a sincere and unfeigned zeal for the law, they ought rather to have made use of their armor for carrying on war with offenses and crimes, instead of employing it as a pretext for their own ambition and silly talking.

For the unrighteous and disobedient Instead of “unrighteous,” it would have been better if translators had made use of the word “lawless;” for the Greek word is ἀνόμους, which does not differ much from the second word in the clause, “disobedient.” By sinners he means wicked persons, or those who lead a base and immoral life.

For the ungodly and profane These words might have been fitly rendered “profane and impure;” but I did not wish to be fastidious in matters of little importance.

Cambridge Bible Humphreys
1 Tim 1:9. knowing this] The A.V. putting a full stop after ‘lawfully’ gives an entirely wrong turn here; the R.V. puts a comma and inserts ‘as’ in order to shew the connexion of ‘knowing’ with ‘a man’; we may continue the above rendering rather more idiomatically, if it be handled as law should be and with the knowledge that.

the law is not made] There is no article, and we may with the R.V. translate, law is not made; not thereby drawing a marked distinction between ‘law’ here and ‘the law’ of Moses above, but following St Paul’s instinct of language, and by the omission drawing attention to the play on words or the antithesis intended, in a crisper and more proverbial way. This explanation will satisfy all the cases of omission of article before ‘law’ quoted by Winer from Gal_2:21, Gal_2:3:11, Gal_2:18, Gal_2:21, Gal_2:4:5. Cf. Winer, § 19, Moulton n.; Lightfoot’s Gal. 11. 19. Here ‘law’ and ‘the lawless’ stand in sharper contrast without the article.

for a righteous man] By ‘righteous’ we may well understand one ‘who has his measure of fruit in holiness’ (Ellicott, quoting Hooker), in contrast to those who not only ignore the law as any check on their life, lawless, but are positively disobedient or unruly, delighting in open defiance of it; being ungodly, with no fear of God or sense of His presence before their mind; and sinners, marked as such by definite acts of sin (Luk_18:13), (2Pe_1:6); (for the two words together compare Jud_1:15).

unholy] They are further breakers of the first and second commandments; the word describes the disregard of duty to God, and only occurs here and 2Ti_3:2; but the corresponding word for the performing of this duty occurs in 1Ti_2:8, ‘lifting up holy hands in worship.’

profane] breakers of the third and fourth commandments; the N. T. use of the word describes disregard of God’s day, Mat_12:5; of God’s house, Act_24:6; of God’s law and truth, 1Ti_4:7, 1Ti_4:6:20; 2Ti_2:16; of God’s name and birthright blessing, Heb_12:16.

murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers] breakers of the fifth commandment, cf. Exo_21:15. In this and in the following words St Paul evidently singles out the worst breaches of the Jaw, his argument being ‘the law was meant to convict the vilest—you apply it to the holiest.’ Hence, we must keep the stronger meaning ‘parricide,’ though the Greek word by its proper derivation means ‘father-beater.’ When it came to have the meaning ‘parricide,’ a different derivation was also assigned to it and the spelling a little altered accordingly. For similar corruptions in English to fit a supposed derivation compare ‘reindeer,’ ‘causeway,’ ‘camel leopard.’

manslayers] breakers of the sixth commandment.

Adam Clarke
1 Timothy 1:9

The law is not made for a righteous man – There is a moral law as well as a ceremonial law: as the object of the latter is to lead us to Christ; the object of the former is to restrain crimes, and inflict punishment on those that commit them. It was, therefore, not made for the righteous as a restrainer of crimes, and an inflicter of punishments; for the righteous avoid sin, and by living to the glory of God expose not themselves to its censures. This seems to be the mind of the apostle; he does not say that the law was not Made for a righteous man, but ου κειται, it does not Lie against a righteous man; because he does not transgress it: but it lies against the wicked; for such as the apostle mentions have broken it, and grievously too, and are condemned by it. The word κειται, lies, refers to the custom of writing laws on boards, and hanging them up in public places within reach of every man, that they might be read by all; thus all would see against whom the law lay.

The lawless – Ανομοις· Those who will not be bound by a law, and acknowledge none, therefore have no rule of moral conduct.

Disobedient – Ανυποτακτοις· Those who acknowledge no authority; from α, negative, and ὑποτασσω, to subject; they neither acknowledge law, nor executive authority, and consequently endeavor to live as they list; and from such dispositions all the crimes in the following catalogue may naturally spring.

For the ungodly – Ασεβεσι· The irreligious – those who do not worship God, or have no true worship; from α, negative, and σεβω, to worship. For sinners, ἁμαρτωλοις those who transgress the laws; from α, negative, and μαρπτω, to hit the mark. This has been elsewhere explained.

For unholy – Ανοσιοις· Persons totally polluted – unclean within, and unclean without; from α, negative, and ὁσιος, holy.

And profane – Βεβηλοις· Such who are so unholy and abominable as not to be fit to attend any public worship; from βε, denoting privation or separation, and βηλος, a threshold or pavement, particularly of a temple. Our word profane comes from procul a fano, “far from the temple.” When the ancients, even heathens, were about to perform some very sacred rites, they were accustomed to command the irreligious to keep at a distance; hence that saying in a fragment of Orpheus: –

Φθεγξομαι οἱς θεμις εστι· θυρας δ’ επιθεσθε βεβηλοις Πασιν ὁμως.
“I will speak to whom it is lawful; but these doors, O, shut against the profane.”

And that of Virgil, Aen. vi. ver. 258.
Procul! O procul! este profani.
Far! ye profane! get hence.

Murderers of fathers – Πατραλῳαις. The murderer of a father or a mother, notwithstanding the deep fall of man, and the general profligacy of the world, has been so rare, and is a crime so totally opposite to nature, that few civilized nations have found it necessary to make laws against it. Yet, such monsters, like the most awful and infrequent portents, have sometimes terrified the world with their appearance. But I think the original does not necessarily imply the murder of a father or of a mother; πατραλῳας comes from πατερα, a father, and αλοιαω, to strike, and may mean simply beating or striking a father or mother: this is horrible enough; but to murder a parent out-herods Herod.

Manslayers – Ανδροφονοις· Murderers simply; all who take away the life of a human being contrary to law. For no crime, unless it be murder, should any man lose his life. If the law did not speak differently, I should not scruple to say that he whose life is taken away, except for murder, is murdered.

Pulpit Commentary
As knowing for knowing, A.V.; Law for the Law, A.V.; unruly for disobedient, A.V.; and sinners for and for sinners, A.V.; the unholy for unholy, A.V.

Law is not made for a righteous man. It is much better to render νόμος, with the A.V., “the Law,” as e.g. Rom_2:12-14. The whole proposition relates to the Law of Moses, which these teachers perverted and tried to force upon Christians, being ignorant that the Law was made, not for the righteous, but for sinners. For is not made, we might render does not apply to or is not in force against. Κεῖται with the dative following (as 2 Macc. 4:11) suggests some such meaning, somewhat different from the simple νόμος κεῖται. This freedom of the righteous from the Law is what St. Paul everywhere asserts (Rom_6:14; Rom_8:2; Gal_2:19; Gal_3:25; Gal_5:18, etc.), the Law being viewed, not as a holy rule of life, but as a system of penalties—”a Law of sin and death.” That νόμος here means the Law of Moses is further evident from this, that in the following list the apostle clearly follows the general order of the Decalogue, taking first the offences against the first table, and then sins against the fifth, sixth, seventh, and ninth commandments (compare, too, Rom_2:11 with Rom_2:16).

Lawless (ἀνόμοις); with no special reference to its etymology, but meaning simply “transgressors,” “wicked,” as Luk_22:37; Act_2:23; 2Th_2:8 (A.V.), and very frequently in the LXX.

Unruly (ἀνυποτάκτοις); insubordinate, resisting lawful authority. In the LXX. for the Hebrew לעִיַלִבְ (1Sa_2:12, Symmachus),and perhaps Pro_16:27. In the New Testament it is peculiar in this sense to the pastoral Epistles, being only found here and in Tit_1:6, Tit_1:10 In Heb_2:10 it has the classical sense of “unsubdued.” The express application of the word in Tit_1:10, to the “unruly talkers of the circumcision,” shows that St. Paul has them in view here also.

Ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane. All terms implying offences against the first table. Ἀσεβέσι, (with the kindred ἀσεβεία and ἀσεβέω) is always rendered “ungodly,” “ungodliness,” “to act ungodly;” ἁμαρτωλοῖς, sinners, viz. against God; ἀνοσίοις, unholy (found only here and at 2Ti_3:2 in the New Testament, but frequent in the LXX.) is the contrary to ὅσιος, holy, saintly;

βεβήλοις (whence βεβηλόω, to profane, Mtt 12:5; Act_24:6), profane, of persons and things not consecrated to God—peculiar in the New Testament to the pastoral Epistles (1Ti_4:7; 1Ti_6:20; 2Ti_2:16;) and Heb_12:16, but found commonly in the LXX. and in classical Greek.

Πατραλῶαις and μητραλῴαις, not murderers, but, as in the margin, “smiters, ill-users of father and mother.” Both words are only found here in the New Testament, but found in Demosthenes, Aristophanes, etc. The allusion here is to Exo_21:15, where the Hebrew word for “smiteth” is 1Ti , which does not necessarily mean “to smite to death” any more than ἀλοάω does.

Ἀνδροφόνοις, man-slayers; found only here in the New Testament, but used in 2 Mace. 9:28 and in classical writers. The reference is to Exo_21:12.

Albert Barnes
1 Timothy 1:9
Knowing this – That is, “If anyone knows, or admits this, he has the prover view of the design of the law.” The apostle does not refer particularly to himself as knowing or conceding this, for then he would have uses the plural form of the participle (see the Greek), but he means that anyone who had just views of the law would see that that which he proceeds to specify was its real purpose.

The law is not made for a righteous man – There has been great variety in the interpretation of this passage. Some suppose that the law here refers to the ceremonial laws of Moses (Clarke, Rosenmuller, Abbot); others to the denunciatory part of the law (Doddridge and Bloomfield); and others that it means that the chief purpose of the law was to restrain the wicked. It seems clear, however, that the apostle does not refer merely to the ceremonial law, for he specifies that which condemns the unholy and profane; the murderers of fathers and mothers; liars and perjured persons. It was not the ceremonial law which condemned these things, but the moral law. It cannot be supposed, moreover, that the apostle meant to say that the law was not binding on a righteous man, or that he was under no obligation to obey it – for he everywhere teaches that the moral law is obligatory on all mankind.
To suppose also that a righteous man is released from the obligation to obey the law, that is, to do right, is an absurdity. Nor does he seem to mean, as Macknight supposes, that the law was not given for the purpose of justifying a righteous man – for this was originally one of its designs. Had man always obeyed it, he would have been justified by it. The meaning seems to be, that the purpose of the law was not to fetter and perplex those who were righteous, and who aimed to do their duty and to please God. It was not intended to produce a spirit of servitude and bondage. As the Jews interpreted it, it did this, and this interpretation appears to have been adopted by the teachers at Ephesus, to whom Paul refers. The whole tendency of their teaching was to bring the soul into a state of bondage, and to make religion a condition, of servitude. Paul teaches, on the other hand, that religion was a condition of freedom, and that the main purpose of the law was not to fetter the minds of the righteous by numberless observances and minute regulations, but that it was to restrain the wicked from sin. This is the case with all law. No good man feels himself lettered and manacled by wholesome laws, nor does he feel that the purpose of law is to reduce him to a state of servitude. It is only the wicked who have this feeling – and in this sense the law is made for a man who intends to do wrong.

For the lawless – To bind and restrain them. The word here used means, properly, those who have no law, and then those who are transgressors – the wicked. It is rendered transgressors in Mat_15:28; Luk_22:37, and wicked, Act_2:23; 2Th_2:8.

And disobedient – Those who are insubordinate, lawless, refractory. The word properly means those who are under no subjection or authority. It occurs in the New Testament only here, and Tit_1:6, Tit_1:10, where it is rendered unruly, and Heb_2:8, where it is translated not put under; that is, under Christ.

For the ungodly – Those who have no religion; who do not worship or honor God. The Greek word occurs in the following places, in all of which it is rendered ungodly; Rom_4:5; Rom_5:6; 1Ti_1:9; 1Pe_4:18; 2Pe_2:5; 2Pe_3:7; Jud_1:15. The meaning is, that the law is against all who do not worship or honor God.

And for sinners – The word used here is the common word to denote sinners. It is general, and includes sins of all kinds.

For unholy – “Those who are regardless of duty to God or man,” Robinson, Lexicon. The word occurs in the New Testament only here, and in 2Ti_3:2. It has particular reference to those who fail of their duty toward God, and means those who have no piety; who are irreligious.

And profane – This does not necessarily mean that they were profane in the sense that blasphemed the name of God, or were profane swearers – though the word would include that – but it means properly those who are impious, or who are scoffers; notes, Heb_12:16. The word occurs only in the following places, in all of which it is rendered profane: 1Ti_1:9; 1Ti_4:7; 1Ti_6:20; 2Ti_2:16; Heb_12:16. A man who treats religion with contempt. mockery, or scorn, would correspond with the meaning of the word.

For murderers of fathers – The Greek properly means a “smiter of a father” (Robinson), though here it undoubtedly means a parricide. This was expressly forbidden by the law of Moses, and was a crime punishable by death; Exo_21:15. It is said to have been a crime which the Roman law did not contemplate as possible, and hence that there was no enactment against it. It is, indeed, a crime of the highest order; but facts have shown that if the Romans supposed it would never be committed, they did not judge aright of human nature. There is no sin which man will not commit if unrestrained, and there is in fact no conceivable form of crime of which he has not been guilty.

Murderers of mothers – A still more atrocious and monstrous crime, if possible, than the former. We can conceive nothing superior to this in atrocity, and yet it has been committed. Nero caused his mother to be murdered, and the annals of crime disclose the names of not a few who have imbrued their own hands in the blood of those who bare them. This was also expressly forbidden by the law of Moses; Exo_21:15.

For manslayers – This word occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It means a homicide – a murderer. The crime is expressly forbidden by the law; Exo_20:13; Gen_9:6.

John Calvin
1 Timothy 1:10
10For robbers The Latin word plagium was employed by ancient writers to denote the carrying off or enticing the slave of another man, or the false sale of a freeman. Those who wish to obtain more full information on this subject may consult authors on the civil law, and especially on the Flavian Law.

Here Paul glances at several classes, which include briefly every kind of transgressions. The root is obstinacy and rebellion; which he describes by the first two words. Ungodly and sinners appear to denote transgressors of the first and second table. To these he adds the profane and impure, or those who lead a base and dissolute life. There being chiefly three ways in which men injure their neighbors, namely, violence, dishonesty, and lust, he reproves successively those three ways, as may be easily seen. First, he speaks of violence as manifested by manslayers and murderers of parents; secondly, he describes shameful uncleanness; and thirdly, he comes down to dishonesty and other crimes.
If there is anything else that is contrary to sound doctrine In this clause he maintains that his gospel is so far from being opposed to the law, that it is a powerful confirmation of it. He declares that by his preaching, he supports that very sentence which the Lord pronounced in his law, against “everything that is contrary to sound doctrine.” Hence it follows, that they who depart from the gospel, do not adhere to the spirit of the law, but merely pursue its shadow.

Sound doctrine is contrasted with frivolous questions about which he says (1Ti_6:3) that foolish teachers are in an unhealthy condition and which, on account of the effect produced by them, are called diseased. (16)

Cambridge Bible Humphreys
1 Tim 1:10. whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind] breakers of the seventh commandment.
menstealers] breakers of the eighth commandment, the grossest theft; punishable with death, Exo_21:16, by the Mosaic code, as also among the Greeks.
perjured persons] breakers of the ninth commandment. Cf. Lev_19:12.

and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine] breakers of the tenth commandment as an inclusive summary embracing all sides and all aspects of each part of the duty to one’s neighbour, ‘not to covet nor desire other men’s goods, but to learn and labour truly to get mine own living and to do my duty.’ The mode of expression and the use of the particle are quite St Paul’s; cf. Rom_13:9, ‘and if there be any other commandment,’ Php_4:8, ‘if there be any virtue and any praise.’

sound doctrine] With R.V. render the sound doctrine. The word for ‘doctrine’ occurs 15 times in these epistles, against seven times in the rest of the N. T.; a mark that the original simple concrete word ‘teaching’ is gradually becoming the settled abstract term ‘doctrine.’ But it is still too soon for the idea of this general abstraction which is conveyed to our mind by the phrase ‘sound doctrine.’ The insertion of the article (according to the Greek) gives us just an English equivalent of the middle stage which the phrase has reached.
The nearest to the use of the Past. Epp. is Eph_4:14, where we ought to read ‘every wind of the doctrine,’ the article referring to all the work of apostles, prophets, evangelists and teachers just spoken of.

sound] ‘healthful,’ an epithet occurring with ‘doctrine’ or ‘words’ six times in these epistles and nowhere else; in contrast to a different form of error from any previously described, ‘the sickly (ch. 6:4) and morbid (2Ti_2:17) teaching of Jewish gnosis,’ Ellicott.

Adam Clarke
1 Timothy 1:10
For whoremongers – Πορνοις· Adulterers, fornicators, and prostitutes of all sorts.

Them that defile themselves with mankind – Αρσενοκοιταις· From αρσην, a male, and κοιτη, a bed; a word too bad to be explained. A sodomite.

Men-stealers – Ανδραποδισταις· Slave-dealers; whether those who carry on the traffic in human flesh and blood; or those who steal a person in order to sell him into bondage; or those who buy such stolen men or women, no matter of what color or what country; or those who sow dissensions among barbarous tribes in order that they who are taken in war may be sold into slavery; or the nations who legalize or connive at such traffic: all these are men-stealers, and God classes them with the most flagitious of mortals.

For liars – Ψευσταις· They who speak for truth what they know to be false; and even they who tell the truth in such a way as to lead others to draw a contrary meaning from it.

For perjured persons – Επιορκοις· From επι, against, and ὁρκος, an oath; such as do or leave undone any thing contrary to an oath or moral engagement, whether that engagement be made by what is called swearing, or by an affirmation or promise of any kind.

And if there be any other thing – Every species of vice and immorality, all must be necessarily included, that is contrary to sound doctrine – to the immutable moral law of God, as well as to the pure precepts of Christianity where that law is incorporated, explained, and rendered, if possible, more and more binding.

Albert Barnes
1 Timothy 1:10
For whoremongers – Lev_19:29; Lev_20:5.

For them that defile themselves with mankind – Sodomites. See the evidence that this crime abounded in ancient times, in the notes on Rom_1:27. It was forbidden by the law of Moses, and was punishable with death; Lev_20:13.

For menstealers – The word here used – ἀνδρᾶποδιστής andrapodistēs – occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It properly means one who steals another for the purpose of making him a slave – a kidnapper. This is the common way in which people are made slaves. Some, indeed, are taken in war and sold as slaves, but the mass of those who have been reduced to servitude have become slaves by being kidnapped. Children are stolen from their parents, or wives from their husbands, or husbands from their wives, or parents from their children, or whole families are stolen together. None become slaves voluntarily, and consequently the whole process of making slaves partakes of the nature of theft of the worst kind. What theft is like that of stealing a man’s children, or his wife, or his father or mother? The guilt of manstealing is incurred essentially by those who purchase those who are thus stolen – as the purchaser of a stolen horse, knowing it to be so, participates in the crime. A measure of that criminality also adheres to all who own slaves, and who thus maintain the system – for it is a system known to have been originated by theft. This crime was expressly forbidden by the law of God, and was made punishable with death; Exo_21:16; Deu_24:7.

For liars – Lev_6:2-4; Lev_19:11.

For perjured persons – Those who swear falsely; Lev_19:12; Lev_6:3; Exo_20:7.

And if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine – To sound or correct teaching – for so the word doctrine means. The meaning is, if there is anything else that is opposed to the instruction which the law of God gives.

John Calvin
1 Timothy 1:11
11According to the gospel of glory By calling it “the gospel of glory,” that is, “the glorious gospel,” he sharply rebukes those who labored to degrade the gospel, in which God displays his glory. He expressly says that it hath been intrusted to him, that all may know that there is no other gospel of God than that which he preaches; and consequently, that all the fables which he formerly rebuked are at variance both with the law and with the gospel of God.

Pulpit Commentary
The gospel of the glory for the glorious gospel, A,V. The gospel of the glory of the blessed God. The phrase, τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τῆς δόξης τοῦ μακαρίου Θεοῦ, cannot mean, as in the A.V., “the glorious gospel of the blessed God,” except by a very forced construction. It might mean three things:

(1) τῆς δόξης τοῦ Θεοῦ might be a periphrasis for “God,” as Rom_6:4, or Exo_24:16, Exo_24:17; Exo_33:18; Le Exo_9:6, Exo_9:23; Psa_104:31; 2Co_4:6; or as “the Name of the Lord” (Pro_18:10; Isa_30:27, etc.); and as we say “thee queen’s majesty,” the “king’s grace.” Or

(2) “the glory of God” might mean Jesus Christ, who is the Brightness of God’s glory, the Image of the invisible God, in whose face the glory of God shines (2Co_4:4, 2Co_4:6). Or

(3) it might mean the gospel which tells of the glory of God, which reveals and proclaims his glory, the glory of his grace (Eph_1:6, Eph_1:12), or perhaps here rather the glory of his holiness, which St. Paul’s “sound doctrine” pressed for imitation upon all Christians (see 1Ti_6:3); comp. 2Co_4:4, “The gospel of the glory of Christ.” Either the first or last is doubtless the true meaning. The blessed God. This and 1Ti_6:15 are the only passages in the New Testament where μακάριος, blessed, is an epithet of God. Elsewhere “blessed” is εὐλογητός; as e.g. Mar_14:61; 2Co_11:31. In classical Greek μάκαρ is the proper epithet of the gods; μάκαρες Θεόι μακάριος is usually spoken of men or qualities, and especially of the happy dead. It does not appear how or why the apostle here applies μακάριος to God. Committed to my trust; literally, with which I was entrusted. A thoroughly Pauline statement (comp. Rom_1:1, Rom_1:5; Rom_2:16; Gal_1:11, Gal_1:12; Eph_3:1-8, etc.).

Albert Barnes
1 Timothy 1:11
According to the glorious gospel – The gospel is a system of divine revelation. It makes known the will of God. It states what is duty, and accords in its great principles with the law, or is in harmony with it. The law, in principle, forbids all which the gospel forbids, and in publishing the requirements of the gospel, therefore, Paul says that the law really forbade all which was prohibited in the gospel, and was designed to restrain all who would act contrary to that gospel. There is no contradiction between the law and the gospel. They forbid the same things, and in regard to morals and true piety, the clearer revelations of the gospel are but carrying out the principles stated in the law. They who preach the gospel, then, should not be regarded as arrayed against the law, and Paul says that they who preached the gospel aright really stated the true principles of the law. This he evidently intends should bear against the false teachers who professed to explain the law of Moses. He means here that if a man wished to explain the law, the best explanation would be found in that gospel which it was his office to publish; compare Rom_3:31.

Of the blessed God – Revealed by the blessed God – the same God who was the Author of the law.

Which was committed to my trust – Not to him alone, but to him in common with others. He had received it directly from the Lord; 1Co_9:17; notes, Gal_1:1.

John Calvin
1 Timothy 1:12
12 I give thanks Great is the dignity — of the apostleship, which Paul has claimed for himself; and he could not, looking at his former life, be accounted at all worthy of so high an honor. Accordingly, that he may not be accused of presumption, he comes unavoidably to make mention of his own person, and at once frankly acknowledges his own unworthiness, but nevertheless affirms that he is an Apostle by the grace of God. But he goes further, and turns to his own advantage what appeared to lessen his authority, declaring that the grace of God shines in him so much the more brightly.

To our Lord Jesus Christ When he gives thanks to Christ, he removes that dislike towards him which might have been entertained, and cuts off all ground for putting this question, “Does he deserve, or does he not deserve, so honorable an office?” for, although in himself he has no excellence, yet it is enough that he was chosen by Christ. There are, indeed, many who, under the same form of words, make a show of humility, but are widely different from the uprightness of Paul, whose intention was, not only to boast courageously in the Lord, but to give up all the glory that was his own.

By putting me into the ministry. Why does he give thanks? Because he has been placed in the ministry; for thence he concludes that he hath been, accounted faithful Christ does not receive any in the manner that is done by ambitious people, but selects those only who are well qualified; and therefore all on whom he bestows honor are acknowledged by us to be worthy. For is it inconsistent with this, that Judas, according to the prediction, (Psa_109:8) was elevated for a short time, that he might quickly fall. It was otherwise with Paul, who obtained the honor for a different purpose, and on a different condition, when Christ declared that he should be “a chosen vessel to him.” (Act_9:15.)

But in this manner Paul seems to say that faithfulness, by which he had been previously distinguished, was the cause of his calling. If it were so, the thanksgiving would be hypocritical and contradictory; for he would owe his apostleship not only to God, but to his own merit. I deny, therefore, that the meaning is, that he was admitted to the rank of an apostle, because God had foreseen his faith; for Christ could not foresee in him anything good but what the Father had bestowed on him. Still, therefore, it continues to be true, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you.”(Joh_15:16.)
On the contrary, he draws from it a proof of his fidelity, that Christ had made him an Apostle; for he declares that they whom Christ makes Apostles must be held to be pronounced faithful by his decrees.

In a word, this judicial act is not traced by him to foreknowledge, but rather denotes the testimony which is given to men; as if he had said, “I give thanks to Christ, who, by calling me into the ministry, has openly declared that he approves of my faithfulness.”

Who hath made me powerful He now introduces the mention of another act of the kindness of Christ, that he strengthened him, or “made him powerful.” By this expression he does not only mean that he was at first formed by the hand of God, so as to be well qualified for his office, but he likewise includes the continued bestowal of grace. For it would not have been enough that he was once declared to be faithful, if Christ had not strengthened him by the uninterrupted communication of aid. He acknowledges, therefore, that he is indebted to the grace of Christ on two accounts, because he was once elevated, and because he continues in his office.

Cambridge Bible Humphreys
1 Tim 1:12. This strong feeling quite accounts for the abruptness with which once again (after many other utterances of his own religious experiences) he claims ‘all the mercy’ and acknowledges ‘all the sin,’ and offers ‘all the service.’ We must omit ‘and,’ reading with R.V. I thank him that enabled me, even Christ Jesus our Lord.

The whole paragraph which follows is the drawing out of all that came into his mind as he wrote the Gospel—entrusted—to me. The ego at the end of the verse, so emphatic, is ample connexion, especially when the first word of the new sentence is ‘Thanks’:—‘To me—even to me; Jesus Christ be praised; He gave me pardon, He gave me work, He gave me strength.’

At the same time this statement of his own case is well fitted to carry on the two thoughts that have been in his mind,

(1) the encouragement of Timothy to faithful ministry,

(2) the saving and cheering power of the true doctrine compared with the condemning, despairing character of the law.

who hath enabled me] The aorist tense has the balance of authority here, and refers to the strength given, with and at the time of the commission. I thank him that enabled me, rather than ‘hath enabled me.’

faithful] i.e. after the time of preparation that followed his Conversion, the years of retirement in Arabia and at Tarsus, a.d. 36-44, he was judged to be ‘trusty,’ ‘trustworthy’; Barnabas ‘brought him to Antioch’ to be a ‘prophet and teacher,’ Act_11:26, Act_13:1, and then the Holy Spirit of Jesus said, ‘Separate me Saul and Barnabas for the work whereunto I have called them,’ Act_13:2.

putting me into the ministry] Better appointing me for service. The present participle in English gives the exact force of the aorist here. ‘He shewed that He counted me faithful by giving me work.’

As to diakonia, ‘ministering,’ ‘service,’ ‘ministration,’ ‘ministry,’ are used by R.V. in different places; the other passage where ‘service’ is used being Heb_1:14, ‘ministering spirits sent forth to do service for the sake of them that shall inherit salvation.’ We may at any rate say that the noun could not have had, if we go by N. T. usage, so soon the formal meaning ‘the ministry,’ whatever definiteness the word diakonos, ‘minister, deacon,’ may have now obtained; see note, 3:1; Int. pp. 15, 16, 18; App. C.

Pulpit Commentary
I thank for and I thank, A.V. and T.R.; him that enabled me, even Christ Jesus our Lord for Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, A.V.; appointing me to his service for putting me into the ministry, A.V. I thank, etc. This outburst of praise for the mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ, who had called him to the ministry of the Word, is caused by the thought, which immediately precedes, of his being entrusted with the gospel. He thus disclaims any notion of merit on his part.

That enabled me (ἐνδυναμώσαντι). This verb occurs once in the Acts (Act_9:22); three times in St. Paul’s other Epistles (Rom_4:20; Eph_6:10; Php_4:13); three times in the pastoral Epistles (here; 2Ti_2:1 and 2Ti_4:17); and Heb_11:31. It denotes the giving that peculiar power which was the gift of the Holy Ghost, and which was necessary for the work of an apostle to enable him to bear witness to Christ in the face of an adverse world.

This power (δύναμις) Christ promised to his apostles before his ascension (Act_1:8). St Paul received it after his conversion (Act_9:22). He continued to hold it throughout his apostleship (Php_4:13); he enjoyed it especially at the approach of his martyrdom (2Ti_4:17). It comprised strength of faith, strength to testify and to preach, strength to endure and suffer. St. Paul’s whole course is the best illustration of the nature of the δύναμις which Christ gave him (see in Eph_3:6 the χάρις, the διακονία, and the δύναμις all brought together as here).

Appointing me to his service. The A.V., putting me into the ministry, is a better rendering, because” the ministry” exactly expresses the particular kind of service to which the Lord appointed him (see the exactly parallel passage, Eph_3:7). The absence of the article is unimportant (Rom_12:7; 1Co_16:15; 2Ti_4:11). (For the general phrase, comp. Act_20:28; 1Co_12:28; or, still more exactly as regards the grammar, 1Th_5:9.)

Albert Barnes
1 Timothy 1:12
And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord – The mention of the gospel 1Ti_1:11, and of the fact that it was committed to him, leads the apostle to express his gratitude to him who had called him to the work of preaching it. The Lord Jesus had called him when he was a blasphemer and a persecutor. He had constrained him to leave his career of persecution and blasphemy, and to consecrate himself to the defense and the propagation of the gospel. For all this, though it had required him to give up his favorite projects in life, and all the flattering schemes of ambition, he now felt that praise was due to the Redeemer. If there is anything for which a good man will be thankful, and should be thankful, it is that he has been so directed by the Spirit and providence of God as to be put into the ministry. It is indeed a work of toil, and of self-denial, and demanding many sacrifices of personal ease and comfort. It requires a man to give up his splendid prospects of worldly distinction, and of wealth and ease. It is often identified with want, and poverty, and neglect, and persecution. But it is an office so honorable, so excellent, so noble, and ennobling; it is attended with so many precious comforts here, and is so useful to the world, and it has such promises of blessedness and happiness in the world to come, that no matter what a man is required to give up in order to become a minister of the gospel, he should be thankful to Christ for putting him into the office. A minister, when he comes to die, feels that the highest favor which Heaven has conferred on him has been in turning his feet away from the paths of ambition, and the pursuits of ease or gain, and leading him to that holy work to which he has been enabled to consecrate his life.

Who hath enabled me – Who has given me ability or strength for this service. The apostle traced to the Lord Jesus the fact that he was in the ministry at all, and all the ability which he had to perform the duties of that holy office. It is not necessary here to suppose, as many have done, that he refers to miraculous power conferred on him, but he makes the acknowledgment which any faithful minister would do, that all the strength which he has to perform the duties of his office is derived from Christ; compare Joh_15:5 note; 1Co_15:10 note.

For that he counted me faithful – This is equivalent to saying that he reposed confidence in me. It means that there was something in the character of Paul, and in his attachment to the Saviour, on which reliance could be placed, or that there was that which gave the assurance that he would be faithful. A sovereign, when he sends an ambassador to a foreign court, reposes confidence in him, and would not commission him unless he had reason to believe that he would be faithful. So it is in reference to all who are called by the Redeemer into the ministry. They are his ambassadors to a lost world. His putting them into the ministry is an act expressive of great confidence in them – for he commits to them great and important interests. Hence, learn:

(1) That no one ought to regard himself as called to the ministry who will not be “faithful” to his Master; and,

(2) That the office of the ministry is most honorable and responsible. Nowhere else are there so great interests entrusted to man.

John Calvin
1 Timothy 1:13
13. Who was formerly a blasphemer and persecutor; a blasphemer against God, a persecutor and oppressor against the Church. We see how candidly he acknowledges that it might be brought against him as a reproach, and how far he is from extenuating his sins, and how, by willingly acknowledging his unworthiness, he magnifies the greatness of the grace of God. Not satisfied with having called himself a “persecutor,” he intended to express more fully his rage and cruelty by an additional terns, an oppressor.

Because I did it ignorantly in unbelief “I obtained pardon,” said he, “for my unbelief; because it proceeded from ignorance;” for persecution and oppression were nothing else than the fruits of unbelief.

But he appears to insinuate that there is no room for pardon, unless when ignorance can be pleaded in excuse. What then? Will God never pardon any one who has sinned knowingly? I reply, we must observe the word unbelief; for this term limits Paul’s statement to the first table of the law. Transgressions of the second table, although they are voluntary, are forgiven; but he who knowingly and willingly breaks the first table sins against the Holy Spirit, because he is in direct opposition to God. He does not err through weakness, but, by rushing wickedly against God, gives a sure proof of his reprobation.

And hence may be obtained a definition of the sin against the Holy Ghost; first, that it is open rebellion against God in the transgression of the first table; secondly, that it is a malicious rejection of the truth; for, when the truth of God is not rejected through deliberate malice, the Holy Spirit is not resisted. Lastly, unbelief is here employed as a general term; and malicious design, which is contrasted with ignorance, may be regarded as the point of difference.

Accordingly, they are mistaken who make the sin against the Holy Ghost to consist in the transgression of the second table; and they are also mistaken, who pronounce blind and thoughtless violence to be a crime so heinous. For men commit the sin against the Holy Spirit, when they undertake a voluntary war against God in order to extinguish that light of the Spirit which has been offered to them. This is shocking wickedness and monstrous hardihood. Nor is there room for doubting that, by an implied threatening, he intended to terrify all who had been once enlightened, not to stumble against truth which they knew; because such a fall is destructive and fatal; for if, on account of ignorance, God forgave Paul his blasphemies, they who knowingly and intentionally blaspheme ought not to expect any pardon.

But it may be thought that what he now says is to no purpose; for unbelief, which is always blind, can never be unaccompanied by ignorance. I reply, among unbelievers some are so blind that they are deceived by a false imagination of the truth; and in others, while they are blinded, yet malice prevails. Paul was not altogether free from a wicked disposition; but he was hurried along by the thoughtless zeal, so as to think that what he did was right. Thus he was an adversary of Christ, not from deliberate intention, but through mistake and ignorance. The Pharisees, who through a bad conscience slandered Christ, were not entirely free from mistake and ignorance; but they were instigated by ambition, and base hatred of sound doctrine, and even by furious rebellion against God, so that maliciously and intentionally, and not in ignorance, they set themselves in opposition to Christ.

Albert Barnes
1 Timothy 1:13
Who was before a blasphemer – This does not mean that Paul before his conversion was what would now be regarded as an open blasphemer – that he was one who abused and reviled sacred things, or one who was in the habit of profane swearing. His character appears to have been just the reverse of this, for he was remarkable for treating what he regarded as sacred with the utmost respect; see the notes on Phi_3:4-6. The meaning is, that he had reviled the name of Christ, and opposed him and his cause – not believing that he was the Messiah; and in thus opposing he had really been guilty of blasphemy. The true Messiah he had in fact treated with contempt and reproaches, and he now looked back upon that fact with the deepest mortification, and with wonder that one who had been so treated by him should have been willing to put him into the ministry. On the meaning of the word blaspheme, see the notes on Mat_9:3; compare Act_26:11. In his conduct here referred to, Paul elsewhere says, that he thought at the time that he was doing what he ought to do Act_26:9; here he says that he now regarded it as blasphemy. Hence, learn that people may have very different views of their conduct when they come to look at it in subsequent life. What they now regard as harmless, or even as right and proper, may hereafter overwhelm them with shame and remorse. The sinner will yet feel the deepest self-reproaches for that which now gives us no uneasiness.

And a persecutor – Act_9:1 ff; Act_22:4; Act_26:11; 1Co_15:9; Gal_1:13, Gal_1:23.

And injurious – The word here used (ὑβριστής hubristēs), occurs only in one other place in the New Testament, Rom_1:30, where it is rendered “despiteful.” The word injurious does not quite express its force. It does not mean merely doing injury, but refers rather to the manner or spirit in which it is done. It is a word of intenser signification than either the word “blasphemer,” or “persecutor,” and means that what he did was done with a proud, haughty, insolent spirit. There was wicked and malicious violence, an arrogance and spirit of tyranny in what he did, which greatly aggravated the wrong that was done; compare the Greek in Mat_22:6; Luk_11:45; Luk_18:32; Act_14:5; 1Th_2:2; 2Co_12:10, for illustrations of the meaning of the word. Tyndale and Coverdale render it here “tyrant.”

But I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief – compare notes on Luk_23:34. The ignorance and unbelief of Paul were not such excuses for what he did that they would wholly free him from blame, nor did he regard them as such – for what he did was with a violent and wicked spirit – but they were mitigating circumstances. They served to modify his guilt, and were among the reasons why God had mercy on him. What is said here, therefore, accords with what the Saviour said in his prayer for his murderers; “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” It is undoubtedly true that persons who sin ignorantly, and who regard themselves as right in what they do, are much more likely to obtain mercy than those who do wrong designedly.

Yet we cannot but regard – Paul’s “ignorance in unbelief” as, in itself, a grievous sin, He had abundant means of knowing the truth had he been disposed to inquire with patience and candor. His great abilities and excellent education are a further aggravation of the crime. It is, therefore, impossible to acquiesce in any solution of this clause which seems to make criminal ignorance a ground of mercy. The author, however, intends nothing of this kind, nor would it be fair to put such construction on his words. Yet, a little more fullness had been desirable on a subject of this nature. It is certain, that, independent of the nature of the ignorance, whether willful or otherwise, the character of crime is affected by it. He who should oppose truth, knowing it to be such, is more guilty than he who opposes it in ignorance, or under the conviction that it is not truth, but falsehood. In a certain sense, too, this ignorance, may be regarded as a reason why mercy is bestowed on such as sin desperately or blasphemously under it. Rather, it is a reason why they are not excluded from mercy. It shows why persons so guilty are not beyond its pale. This is, we think, the true key both to the passage, and that in Luk_23:34. The ignorance is not a reason why God should bestow mercy on such persons, rather than on others left to perish, but a reason why they obtain mercy at all, who, by their blasphemies had been supposed to have reached the sin against the Holy Spirit.
Now consider the passage in this view. The apostle had just been showing how great a sinner he had formerly been. His criminality had been so great that it went near to shutting him out from mercy altogether. Had he maliciously persecuted and blasphemed Christ, knowing him to be the Messiah, his had been the unpardonable sin, and his lot that of judicial, final obduracy. But he had not got that length. He was saved from that gulph, and obtained mercy, because, sinning ignorantly and in unbelief, he was not beyond its range.

That Paul should set himself to excuse his guilt is altogether impossible. He does the very reverse. He has but escaped the unpardonable sin. He is chief of sinners. He owes his salvation to exceeding abundant grace. All long-suffering has been exercised toward him. He affirms, that mercy was extended to him, that, to the end of time, there might be a proof or pattern of mercy to the guiltiest. Had he been assigning a reason why he obtained mercy, rather than others left to perish, doubtless that had been what he has elsewhere assigned and defended, “God will have mercy on whom he will have mercy, and he will have compassion on whom he will have compassion;” Rom_9:15.

John Calvin
1 Timothy 1:14
14And the grace of our Lord He again magnifies the grace of God towards himself, not only for the purpose of removing the dislike of it and testifying his gratitude, but also to employ it as a shield against the slanders of wicked men, whose whole design was to bring down his apostleship to a lower level. When he says that it abounded, and that, too, beyond measure, the statement implies that the remembrance of past transactions was effaced, and so completely swallowed up, that it was no disadvantage to him that God had formerly been gracious to good men.

With faith and love Both may be viewed as referring to God, in this sense, that God showed himself to be true, and gave a manifestation of his love in Christ, when he bestowed his grace upon him. But I prefer a more simple interpretation, that “faith and love” are indications and proofs of that grace which he had mentioned, that it might not be supposed that he boasted needlessly or without good grounds. And, indeed, “faith” is contrasted with unbelief, and “love in Christ” is contrasted with the cruelty which he had exercised towards believers; as if he had said, that God had so completely changed him, that he had become a totally different and new man. Thus from the signs and effects he celebrates in lofty terms the excellence of that grace which must obliterate the remembrance of his former life.

John Calvin
1 Timothy 1:15
15 It is a faithful saying After having defended his ministry from slander and unjust accusations, not satisfied with this, he turns to his own advantage what might have been brought against him by his adversaries as a reproach. He shews that it was profitable to the Church that he had been such a person as he actually was before he was called to the apostleship, because Christ, by giving him as a pledge, invited all sinners to the sure hope of obtaining pardon. For when he, who had been a fierce and savage beast, was changed into a Pastor, Christ gave a remarkable display of his grace, from which all might be led to entertain a firm belief that no sinner; how heinous and aggravated so ever might have been his transgressions, had the gate of salvation shut against him.

That Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners He first brings forward this general statement, and adorns it with a preface, as he is wont to do in matters of vast importance. In the doctrine of religion, indeed, the main point is, to come to Christ, that, being lost in ourselves, we may obtain salvation from him. Let this preface be to our ears like the sound of a trumpet to proclaim the praises of the grace of Christ, in order that we may believe it with a stronger faith. Let it be to us as a seal to impress on our hearts a firm belief of the forgiveness of sins, which otherwise with difficulty finds entrance into the hearts of men.

A faithful saying What was the reason why Paul aroused attention by these words, but because men are always disputing with themselves about their salvation? For, although God the Father a thousand times offer to us salvation, and although Christ himself preach about his own office, yet we do not on that account cease to tremble, or at least to debate with ourselves if it be actually so. Wherefore, whenever any doubt shall arise in our mind about the forgiveness of sins, let us learn to repel it courageously with this shield, that it is an undoubted truth, and deserves to be received without controversy.

To save sinners. The word sinners is emphatic; for they who acknowledge that it is the office of Christ to save, have difficulty in admitting this thought, that such a salvation belongs to “sinners.” Our mind is always impelled to look at our worthiness; and as soon as our unworthiness is seen, our confidence sinks. Accordingly, the more any one is oppressed by his sins, let him the more courageously betake himself to Christ, relying on this doctrine, that he came to bring salvation not to the righteous, but to “sinners.” It deserves attention, also, that Paul draws an argument from the general office of Christ, in order that what he had lately testified about his own person might not appear to be on account of its novelty.

Of whom, I am the first Beware of thinking that the Apostle, under a presence of modesty, spoke falsely, for he intended to make a confession not less true than humble, and drawn from the very bottom of his heart.

But some will ask, “Why does he, who only erred through ignorance of sound doctrine, and whose whole life, in even other respect, was blameless before men, pronounce himself to be the chief of sinners?” I reply, these words inform us how heinous and dreadful a crime unbelief is before God, especially when it is attended by obstinacy and a rage for persecution. (Phi_3:6.) With men, indeed, it is easy to extenuate, under the presence of heedless zeal, all that Paul has acknowledged about himself; but God values more highly the obedience of faith than to reckon unbelief, accompanied by obstinacy, to be a small crime.

We ought carefully to observe this passage, which teaches us, that a man who, before the world, is not only innocent, but eminent for distinguished virtues, and most praiseworthy for his life, yet because he is opposed to the doctrine of the gospel, and on account of the obstinacy of his unbelief, is reckoned one of the most heinous sinners; for hence we may easily conclude of what value before God are all the pompous displays of hypocrites, while they obstinately resist Christ.

Cambridge Bible Humphreys
1 Tim 1:15. This is a faithful saying] More exactly, Faithful is the saying, ‘gravissima praefandi formula, says Bengel; the first of five occurrences in these epistles, where only it is found, 3:1, 4:9; 2Ti_2:11; Tit_3:8. With it we may compare Rev_21:5, and our Lord’s ‘Verily, verily I say unto you.’ The special weight of each maxim or practical instruction thus introduced is examined in Appendix, E. See also Introduction, ch. iii. ii. 1 c, p. 30.

faithful] That is, trustworthy and claiming implicit credit; more than merely ‘true,’ which is the rendering in the P. Bk. Communion Service, ‘This is a true saying and worthy of all men to be received;’ worthy of all acceptation, of every kind and degree, as there is no article with ‘all’; to be received with every mark of regard and welcome, of confidence and affection.

What is the truth thus heralded? ‘Christ Jesus as God in heaven; Christ Jesus come to this earth to save sinners; Christ Jesus come to save me the chief of sinners.’ It is this personal dealing of the Saviour with the single soul, the personal laying hold by the separate soul of the Saviour’s love and pardon, which is so specially precious to St Paul and gives new lustre to the jewel, the simple creed.

of whom I am chief] am, shewing his abiding sense of his sinfulness, and this at the close of his life, when he could say ‘I have fought the good fight, I have kept the faith, &c.’

‘And they who fain would serve Thee best
Are conscious most of wrong within.’
Cf. 1Co_15:9. So in Act_22:4, Act_22:19, Act_22:26:9, he takes every opportunity of referring with express self-condemnation to his past life.

Albert Barnes
1 Timothy 1:15
This is a faithful saying – Greek, “Faithful is the word,” or doctrine – ὁ λογος ho logos. This verse has somewhat the character of a parenthesis, and seems to have been thrown into the midst of the narrative because the mind of the apostle was full of the subject. He had said that he, a great sinner, had obtained mercy. This naturally led him to think of the purpose for which Christ came into the world – to save sinners – and to think how strikingly that truth had been illustrated in his own case, and how that case had shown that it was worthy the attention of all. The word rendered “saying,” means in this place doctrine, position, or declaration. The word “faithful,” means assuredly true; it was that which might be depended on, or on which reliance might be placed. The meaning is, that the doctrine that Christ came to save sinners might be depended on as certainly true; compare 2Ti_2:11; Tit_3:8.

And worthy of all acceptation – Worthy to be embraced or believed by all. This is so, because:

(1) All are sinners and need a Saviour. All, therefore ought to welcome a doctrine which shows them how they may be saved.

(2) Because Christ died for all. If he had died for only a part of the race, and could save only a part, it could not be said with any propriety that the doctrine was worthy of the acceptance of all. If that were so, what had it to do with all? How could all be interested in it or benefited by it If medicine had been provided for only a part of the patients in a hospital, it could not be said that the announcement of such a fact was worthy the attention of all. It would be highly worthy the attention of those for whom it was designed, but there would be a part who would have nothing to do with it; and why should they concern themselves about it? But if it was provided for each one, then each one would have the highest interest in it. So, if salvation has been provided for me, it is a matter claiming my profoundest attention; and the same is true of every human being. If not provided for me, I have nothing to do with it. It does not concern me at all.

See this subject discussed at length in the supplementary note on 2Co_5:14.

(3) The manner in which the provision of salvation has been made in the gospel is such as to make it worthy of universal acceptation. It provides for the complete pardon of sin, and the restoration of the soul to God. This is done in a way that is honorable to God – maintaining his law and his justice; and, at the same time, it is in a way that is honorable to man. He is treated afterward as a friend of God and an heir of life. He is raised up from his degradation, and restored to the favor of his Maker. If man were himself to suggest a way of salvation, he could think of none that would be more honorable to God and to himself; none that would do so much to maintain the law and to elevate him from all that now degrades him. What higher honor can be conferred on man than to have his salvation sought as an object of intense and earnest desire by one so great and glorious as the Son of God?

(4) It is worthy of all acceptance, from the nature of the salvation itself. Heaven is offered, with all its everlasting glories, through the blood of Christ – and is not this worthy of universal acceptation? People would accept of a coronet or crown; a splendid mansion, or a rich estate; a present of jewels and gold, if freely tendered to them – but what trifles are these compared with heaven! If there is anything that is worthy of universal acceptation, it is heaven – for all will be miserable unless they enter there.

That Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – The great and unique doctrine of the gospel. He “came into the world.” He therefore had a previous existence. He came. He had, therefore, an object in coming. It makes his gospel more worthy of acceptation that he had an intention, a plan, a wish, in thus coming into the world. He came when he was under no necessity of coming; he came to save, not to destroy; to reveal mercy, not to denounce judgment; to save sinners – the poor, the lost, the wandering, not to condemn them; he came to restore them to the favor of God, to raise them up from their degradation, and to bring them to heaven.

Of whom I am chief – Greek, “first.” The word is used to denote eminence – and it means that he occupied the first rank among sinners. There were none who surpassed him. This does not mean that he had been the greatest of sinners in all respects, but that in some respects he had been so great a sinner, that on the whole there were none who had surpassed him. That to which he particularly refers was doubtless the part which he had taken in putting the saints to death; but in connection with this, he felt, undoubtedly, that he had by nature a heart eminently prone to sin; see Rom. 7. Except in the matter of persecuting the saints, the youthful Saul of Tarsus appears to have been eminently moral, and his outward conduct was framed in accordance with the strictest rules of the law; Phi_3:6; Act_26:4-5. After his conversion, he never attempted to extenuate his conduct, or excuse himself. He was always ready, in all circles, and in all places, to admit to its fullest extent the fact that he was a sinner. So deeply convinced was he of the truth of this, that he bore about with him the constant impression that he was eminently unworthy; and hence he does not say merely that he had been a sinner of most aggravated character, but he speaks of it as something that always pertained to him – “of whom I am chief.” We may remark:

(1) That a true Christian will always be ready to admit that his past life has been evil;

(2) That this will become the abiding and steady conviction of the soul; and,

(3) That an acknowledgment that we are sinners is not inconsistent with evidence of piety, and with high attainments in it. The most eminent Christian has the deepest sense of the depravity of his own heart and of the evil of his past life.

John Calvin
1 Timothy 1:16
16That in me the first Jesus Christ might shew When he calls himself the first, he alludes to what he had said a little before, that he was the first among sinners and, therefore, this word means “chiefly,” or, “above all.” The Apostle’s meaning is, that, from the very beginning, God held out such a pattern as might be visible from a conspicuous and lofty platform, that no one might doubt that he would obtain pardon, provided that he approached to Christ by faith. And, indeed, the distrust entertained by all of us is counteracted, when we thus behold in Paul a visible model of that grace which we desire to see.

Cambridge Bible Humphreys
1 Tim 1:16. Howbeit] A characteristic re-assertion with a new antithesis, ‘Yes, I am indeed chief of sinners, but still I received mercy on this account, that I might also be chief exemplar of Jesus Christ’s all-patience.’

Translate with R.V. that in me as chief (i.e. of sinners) might Jesus Christ shew forth all his longsuffering.

in me] ‘in my case,’ as in Gal_1:16, ‘it pleased God to reveal His Son in me,’ ‘to shew the Saviour’s power in my conversion,’ Gal_1:24, ‘they glorified God in me.’

ll longsuffering] The longer form of the Greek word ‘all’ should be read, though only once used otherwise by St Paul, Eph_6:13; the position of the article coming before the ‘all’ is very unusual in N. T. and suggests the translation proposed by Dr Vaughan, ‘His all-patience,’ cf. Gal_5:14, ‘The whole law.’ Winer, § 17. 10.

might shew forth] The right translation in our idiom of the subjunctive, which Hellenistic Greek uses for the optative when it would naturally follow the past tense, ‘received mercy,’ cf. v. 20; the verb ‘shew forth’ is middle, as always in N. T.; its force ‘shew forth as His attribute.’

for a pattern to] R.V. for an ensample of them which should hereafter believe. According to the use of the word in the only place where it occurs besides, 2Ti_1:13, ‘the pattern of sound words,’ the phrase ought to be a simpler one ‘for a pattern of believers,’ and the longer form is substituted at the moment of writing. And it is not quite as Bengel puts it with emphasis on ‘belief,’ ‘si credis ut Paulus salvabere ut Paulus,’ but ‘etiamsi peccaveris ut Paulus, ut Paulo poena tibi differetur, locum habebis poenitentiae ut Paulus.’

to life everlasting] We may shew better how this word is taken up, and with a turn of meaning suggests the form of the ascription, by rendering unto life eternal: and to the King of the eternal … be honour and glory onto all eternity.

‘Life eternal” is the divine life, the life that is’; ‘not an endless duration of being in time, but being of which time is not a measure.’ Westcott on 1Jn_1:2; 1Jn_5:20.

In St John’s use, the present living ‘in Christ,’ spiritual religion, is meant almost entirely to be emphasised, e.g. Joh_3:15, Joh_3:5:24; 1Jn_1:2, 1Jn_5:13.

In St Paul’s use this is certainly so too in one passage, 1Ti_6:12, where Timothy is now by a distinct effort and act (aorist imperative) to ‘lay hold’ of ‘the eternal life’; that is, ‘the special Messianic gift brought by Christ,’ described (according to the true reading) in 1Ti_6:19 as ‘the life which is life indeed,’ and in Eph_4:18 as ‘the life of God.’ So perhaps here, though probably more often St Paul’s use of the phrase looks to the development of this life still future, e.g. Rom_2:7, Rom_2:6:22, ‘and the end life eternal.’ The phrase ‘King of the eternal,’ lit. ‘King of the ages,’ covers both uses: God is King and Giver of Life in all the cycles and stages of development through which the world and all in it pass.
This connexion of the phrases makes it probable that this allusive title of God ‘King of the eternal’ is left thus, strong and complete, and that the following epithets belong to the new title, making a climax the incorruptible, invisible, only God (not as A.V. and R.V.). The epithet ‘wise’ has not sufficient ms. authority here or in Jud_1:25.

Albert Barnes
1 Timothy 1:16
Howbeit for this cause – That is, this was one of the causes, or this was a leading reason. We are not to suppose that this was the only one. God had other ends to answer by his conversion than this, but this was one of the designs why he was pardoned – that there might be for all ages a permanent proof that sins of the deepest dye might be forgiven. It was well to have one such example at the outset, that a doubt might never arise about the possibility of forgiving great transgressors. The question thus would be settled for ever.

That in me first – Not first in the order of time, as our translation would seem to imply, but that in me the first or chief of sinners (ἐν ἐμοὶ ποώτῳ en emoi poōtō) he might show an example. The idea is, that he sustained the first rank as a sinner, and that Jesus Christ designed to show mercy to him as such, in order that the possibility of pardoning the greatest sinners might be evinced, and that no one might afterward despair of salvation on account of the greatness of his crimes.

Might shew forth all long-suffering – The highest possible degree of forbearance, in order that a case might never occur about which there could be any doubt. It was shown by his example that the Lord Jesus could evince any possible degree of patience, and could have mercy on the greatest imaginable offenders.

For a pattern – ὑποτύπωσιν hupotupōsin. This word occurs no where else in the New Testament, except in 2Ti_1:13, where it is rendered “form.” It properly means a form, sketch, or imperfect delineation. Then it denotes a pattern or example, and here it means that the case of Paul was an example for the encouragement of sinners in all subsequent times. It was that to which they might look when they desired forgiveness and salvation. It furnished all the illustration and argument which they would need to show that they might be forgiven. It settled the question forever that the greatest sinners might be pardoned; for as he was “the chief of sinners,” it proved that a case could not occur which was beyond the possibility of mercy.

Which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting – All might learn from the mercy shown to him that salvation could be obtained. From this verse we may learn:

(1) That no sinner should despair of mercy. No one should say that he is so great a sinner that he cannot be forgiven. One who regarded himself as the “chief” of sinners was pardoned, and pardoned for the very purpose of illustrating this truth, that any sinner might be saved. His example stands as the illustration of this to all ages; and were there no other, any sinner might now come and hope for mercy. But there are other examples. Sinners of all ranks and descriptions have been pardoned. Indeed, there is no form of depravity of which people can be guilty, in respect to which there are not instances where just such offenders have been forgiven. The persecutor may reflect that great enemies of the cross like him have been pardoned; the profane man and the blasphemer, that many such have been forgiven; the murderer, the thief, the sensualist, that many of the same character have found mercy, and have been admitted to heaven.

(2) The fact that great sinners have been pardoned, is a proof that others of the same description may be also. The same mercy that saved them can save us – for mercy is not exhausted by being frequently exercised. The blood of atonement which has cleansed so many can cleanse us – for its efficacy is not destroyed by being once applied to the guilty soul. Let no one then despair of obtaining mercy because he feels that his sins are too great to be forgiven. Let him look to the past, and remember what God has done. Let him remember the case of Saul of Tarsus; let him think of David and Peter; let him recall the names of Augustine, and Colonel Gardiner, and the Earl of Rochester, and John Newton, and John Bunyan – and thousands like them, who have found mercy; and in their examples let him see a full proof that God is willing to save any sinner, no matter how vile, provided he is penitent and believing.

John Calvin
1 Timothy 1:17
17Now to the King eternal His amazing vehemence at length breaks out into this exclamation; because he could not find words to express his gratitude; for those sudden bursts occur chiefly when we are constrained to break off the discourse, in consequence of being overpowered by the vastness of the subject. And is there anything more astonishing than Paul’s conversion? Yet, at the same time, by his example he reminds us all that we ought never to think of the grace manifested in God’s calling without being carried to lofty admiration.

Eternal, invisible, only wise This sublime praise of the grace which God had bestowed on him swallows up the remembrance of his former life. For how great a deep is the glory of God! Those attributes which he ascribes to God, though they belong to him always, yet are admirably adapted to the present occasion. The Apostle calls him the King eternal, not liable to any change; Invisible, because (1Ti_6:16) he dwells in light that is inaccessible; and, lastly, the Only Wise, because he renders foolish, and condemns as vanity, all the wisdom of men. The whole agrees with that conclusion at which he arrives:

“O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How incomprehensible are his designs! How unsearchable his ways!” (Rom_11:33.)
He means that the infinite and incomprehensible wisdom of God should be beheld by us with such reverence that, if his works surpass our senses, still we may be restrained by admiration.

Yet as to the last epithet Only, it is doubtful whether he means to claim all glory for God alone, or calls him the only wise, or says that he only is God. The second of these meanings is that which I prefer; for it was in fine harmony with his present subject to say, that the understanding of men, whatever it may be, must bend to the secret purpose of God. And yet I do not deny that he affirms that God alone is worthy of all glory; for, while he scatters on his creatures, in every direction, the sparks of his glory, still all glory belongs truly and perfectly to him alone. But either of those meanings implies that there is no glory but that which belongs to God.

Adam Clarke
1 Timothy 1:17
Now unto the King eternal – This burst of thanksgiving and gratitude to God, naturally arose from the subject then under his pen and eye. God has most wondrously manifested his mercy, in this beginning of the Gospel, by saving me, and making me a pattern to all them that shall hereafter believe on Christ. He is βασιλευς των αιωνων, the king of eternities; the eternity a parte ante, and the eternity a parte post; the eternity that was before time was, and the eternity that shall be when time is no more. Therefore, ever living to justify and save sinners, to the end of the world.

Immortal – Αφθαρτῳ· Incorruptible – not liable to decay or corruption; a simple uncompounded essence, incapable, therefore, of decomposition, and consequently permanent and eternal. One MS., the later Syriac in the margin, the Vulgate, one copy of the Itala, and some of the Latin fathers, read αθανατῳ, immortal, which our translation follows; but it is not the original reading.

Invisible – Αορατῳ· One who fills all things, works everywhere, and yet is invisible to angels and men; the perfect reverse of false gods and idols, who are confined to one spot, work nowhere, and, being stocks and stones, are seen by every body.

The only wise God – The word σοφῳ wise, is omitted by AD*FG, Syriac, Erpen’s Arabic, Coptic, Sahidic, Ethiopic, Armenian, Vulgate, and Itala. Some of the Greek fathers quote it sometimes, and omit it at others; which shows that it was an unsettled reading, probably borrowed from Rom_16:27 (note). Griesbach leaves it out of the text. Without it the reading is very strong and appropriate: To the only God; nothing visible or invisible being worthy of adoration but himself.

Be honor – All the respect and reverence that can be paid by intelligent beings, ascribing to him at the same time all the glory – excellences, and perfections, which can be possessed by an intelligent, unoriginated, independent, and eternal Being; and this for ever and ever-through eternity.

Albert Barnes
1 Timothy 1:17
Now unto the king eternal – This ascription of praise is offered to God in view of the mercy which he had shown to so great a sinner. It is the outbreak of that grateful emotion which swelled his bosom, and which would not be denied expression, when Paul recalled his former life and the mercy of God to his soul. It somewhat interrupts indeed the train of his remarks, but the heart was so full that it demanded utterance. It is just an instance of the joy and gratitude which fill the soul of a Christian when he is led along in a train of reflections which conduct him to the recollections of his former sin and danger, and to the fact that he has obtained mercy and has now the hope of heaven. The apostle Paul not unfrequently, in accordance with a mode of writing that was common among the Hebrews, interposes an expression of praise in the midst of his reasonings; compare Rom_1:25; 2Co_11:31. God is called King here, as he is often in the Scriptures, to denote that he rules over the universe. A literal translation of the passage would be, “To the King of ages, who is immortal,” etc. The meaning of this expression – “the King of ages” – βασιλει τὼν αἰώνων basilei tōn aiōnōn – is, that he is a king who rules throughout all ages. This does not mean that he himself lives for ever, but that his dominion extends over all ages or generations. The rule of earthly monarchs does not extend into successive ages; his does. Their reign is temporary; his is enduring, and continues as one generation after another passes on, and thus embraces them all.

Immortal – This refers to God himself, not to his reign. It means that he does not die, and it is given to him to distinguish him from other sovereigns. All other monarchs but God expire – and are just as liable to die at any moment as any other people.

Invisible – 1Ti_6:16; see the notes on Joh_1:18.

The only wise God – notes, Rom_16:27. The word “wise” is missing in many mss., and in some editions of the New Testament. It is omitted by Griesbach; marked as doubtful by Tittman, and rejected in the valuable edition of Hahn. Erasmus conjectures that it was added against the Arians, who maintained that the Father only was God, and that as he is here mentioned as such, the word wise was interpolated to denote merely that the attribute of perfect wisdom belonged only to him. Wetstein regards the reading as genuine, and suspects that in some of the early manuscripts where it is missing it was omitted by the transcriber, because it was regarded as inelegant for two adjectives to be united in this manner. It is not easy to determine as to the genuineness of the reading. The sense is not materially affected, whichever view be adopted. It is true that Yahweh is the only God; it is also true that he is the only wise God. The gods of the pagan are “vanity and a lie,” and they are wholly destitute of wisdom; see Psa_115:3-8; Psa_135:15-18; Isa_40:18-20; Isa_44:10-17.

Be honour – Let there be all the respect and veneration shown to him which is his due.

And glory – Praise. Let him be praised by all for ever.

Amen – So be it; an expression of strong affirmation; Joh_3:3. Here it is used to denote the solemn assent of the heart to the sentiment conveyed by the words used; see the Mat_6:13 note; 1Co_14:16 note.

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