1:1-2 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope;
Unto Timothy, my own son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.
Paul was an apostle of Jesus Christ. An apostle (apostolos in the Greek) within the New Testament context was someone who had intimately engaged with Jesus Christ and carried a message and or orders from Him.
Christ supernaturally intervened within the situation and radically transformed Paul even to the point to where Paul could claim that (by the grace of God) he has “laboured more abundantly than they all” (referring to the apostles).
Paul’s position as apostle of Jesus Christ has more important implications than many believe. His apostleship to Jesus Christ and to the Gentiles established credibility and authority within the Church (Romans 11:13; 1 Corinthians 14:37; Galatians 1:1).
The messages that he portrayed within the letters were directly from God and Paul defended this truth multiple times (1 Corinthians 14:37; Galatians 1:11-12). Paul was initially charged with God’s commandment to go unto the Gentiles in Acts 9:15. This was the origin of him being the apostle to the Gentiles.
Another conclusion that Paul reaffirmed from the Gospels and established within the current dispensation throughout his letters is that Jesus Christ is the hope of humanity. Apart from Christ there is no hope and as the apostle John puts it, we are in darkness (1 John 1:5-7).
With Paul as an apostle to the Gentiles, he also laid a foundation by being a minister within the dispensation of God. This is often, although not completely encompassing, called the “age of grace.” Because this dispensation was established, Gentiles (non-Jews) can now obtain salvation.
Starting in verse two, the reader finds that Timothy is who this letter is addressed to.
[Refer to the introduction page for more information about Timothy]
It can be reasoned that Timothy’s father was not a Godly man; due to his position as a Greek gentile who did not have his son circumcised.
On the flipside, in Biblical study it is important to not diverge into eisegesis (to read meaning into the text). Timothy’s father could have been a God-fearer. A God-fearer was a group of people within the Greco-Roman culture who were Gentiles, yet observed and followed the traditions of Judaism.
There is a distinction between this group of people and a Jew because God-fearers were not circumcised. Technically, Timothy would have been a God-fearer prior to being circumcised by Paul in Acts 16:3. There is little to no evidence to support that Timothy’s father was one way or another.
Nonetheless, through Paul’s missionary journeys, Timothy had been raised spiritually under the ministry of Paul and was considered Paul’s spiritual son (2 Timothy 2:1). Paul was closely involved with Timothy’s spiritual upbringing from a young age, up until the time of Paul’s death. Paul saw Timothy through to spiritual maturation and edified him into his Godly charge.
Furthermore, Paul and Timothy had some interesting connections that would further solidify the bond that they share. An example of this would be that both Paul and Timothy were both Jew and Gentile (Paul- Roman; Timothy- Greek).
Continuing on, as for “grace, mercy, and peace”, these were common salutations (greetings) within Greek and Jewish culture. Grace was predominantly a Gentile greeting while peace was primarily a Jewish greeting.
Paul takes these salutations and presents the source of such beautiful attributes as a gift from God. This is not the only place where Paul describes these qualities as a gift essentially. Ephesians 2:8 outright proclaims grace as a gift from God.
1:3-4 As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine,
Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do.
It should first be noted before continuing on from this point, the context of this and who it is addressed to. Timothy is a young yet mature elder within the Church and he was brought up spiritually under Paul.
This letter was not written to a babe of the faith. Nevertheless, this is not to say that younger Christians can not inherit an immense amount of spiritual nourishment. However, the recipient of this letter should affirm the solid nature and content that is within this letter.
Paul instructed Timothy to stay in Ephesus while he abode in Macedonia. This was a charge to stay in Ephesus and teach those there to teach no other doctrine. The pattern for teaching “no other doctrine” is to first lay good doctrine and then rebuke those who teach contrary.
Good doctrine refutes bad doctrine. This doctrine in itself charges other Christians within the local church to ignore speculative rumors and questions that do not build up others. Believers must prioritize edification of The Body.
As for modern day Christianity, some things never change. A lack of true doctrine leads to frivolous stories that have no spiritual meat (or milk for that matter). These fleshly gratifications from pastors can be found within church pulpits every Sunday and if you find yourself within a church culture such as this- Leave it.
To emphasize the brevity of this charge, I want to share the Greek word for “charge”. The term, parangello, is a very emphatic term that is described by Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible as, “To charge, give command, declare”. It is not a soft, passive term for instruction.
Doctrine is an important concept with the Pastoral epistles as a whole and it is important within the Church. A church that teaches doctrine that is right and wrong is ultimately wrong (Romans 16:17).
1:5 Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned:
Good doctrine results in pure, unadulterated, Godly love. Only by God’s grace can love be truly selfless. God is love and grace is how God operates within this dispensation. As Christ dwells in us, our actions and teaching can be spoken in grace (Colossians 4:6) and love (Ephesians 4:15). In Christ, is the only way that any true Spiritual growth can blossom.
1:6 From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling;
In this context, some within the Ephesian church had already “turned aside” from doctrinal truth, love, purity of heart, etc. Nothing has changed from then to now. One way that many have turned aside today is by teaching the law instead of the Gospel, teaching relativism, and or in many cases, disregarding the Scripture in its entirety and preaching their own wicked, fleshly, self.
This type of “preaching” would be an example of vain jangling. Vain jangling is essentially “foolish” or “empty talk”. The truth of God has much substance while the alternatives remain void and empty with no real benefit.
1:7 Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm.
Teaching law instead of grace, seemingly has great benefits. That is if we disregard our position in Christ and try to inherit many of the Earthly benefits entitled to Israel. We are to inherit the spiritual blessings of Abraham by the effectual working of Jesus (Galatians 3:20-29).
Israel’s national blessings are not ours to cherry pick within the Body of Christ. However, back sliding into the yoke of Law is contrary to Christ’s finished work. Christ fulfilled the law and we now are to walk in the Spirit (Romans 8:3-4).
Reverting to teaching the Law over Gospel will become a concentrated effort (whether realized or not) to undermine the foundation and cornerstone of the Church, Jesus Christ. We are not called to bound humanity to the chain of legalism but to proclaim the enriching grace of Lord Jesus Christ.