1 Timothy 1:16-20 (KJV)

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1:16 Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.

Paul continues his form of testimony began in verse 12 with the transition term, alla. In English, “howbeit” is a very suitable term that could also be seen as “however” or “nonetheless.” 

So in its original reading, Timothy is finding that Paul has received mercy for a plethora of reasons. Here specifically, it could be summarized that Christ’s glory was illuminated in His mercy to Paul. His patience and grace to Paul was to be a pattern (2 Timothy 3:10) from then forth, showing that no one will be too far from faith. 

With Paul’s example (1 Corinthians 11:1-2) and his Biblical background, Jesus Christ’s plan and will to instill the Gospel to Paul’s trust was an ordained choice that has resulted in the widespread growth of the Body of Christ from henceforth. 

1:17 Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Contextually, Paul is establishing Christ as the one transcendent God above the many idols that were prevalent within Ephesus where Timothy was leading. 

We confess that Jesus is Lord (Romans 10:9-10) when we receive His Gospel and believe in Him; therefore, each and every attribute to God is an assault on the idols of Ephesus. 

1:18 This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare;

What charge is Paul committing? The charge is a continuation of the charge within 1 Timothy 1:3. Within this epistle, this is not the only prophecy highlighted. Timothy was also given gifts according to prophecies which are long since completed (1 Timothy 4:14-15). 

It is highly possible that these prophecies were not Old Testament prophecies but rather prophecies from Paul or other proximal prophets within the Apostolic Age (1 Corinthians 13:8-10; 1 Corinthians 14; Ephesians 4:11-14). 

Continuing, the charges that Paul gave to Timothy were specific charges encompassed by the general message to wage a “good warfare.” The Sword Timothy (and we) carry is a Spiritual weapon apt to win spiritual wars (2 Corinthians 10:3-5; Ephesians 6:10-17). Timothy was within a heavy spiritual conflict where false doctrine was fighting for the same souls that Timothy was fighting to enlighten. 

Nothing of this nature has changed and we must live by the same charge Timothy has received for the Age of Grace. 

1:19 Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck:

The key to a “good warfare” is “holding faith” and “a good conscience.” Paul is laying out a practical formula for Timothy to cling to. 

Faith + Good Conscience = Floating Boat (Vessel for the Gospel)

Release Faith + Poor Conscience = Shipwrecked (Useless Vessel for the Gospel)

This charge is something the Body of Christ needs to astutely protect and live into if we have any hope of living within the will of God, which is to have all men saved and coming unto the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:4). 

Without faith and a good conscience, you are a crippled and ineffective Christian. 

1:20 Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme.

As Christians, when we read that someone has been delivered unto Satan, we immediately have bad connotations and horrified feelings towards those who are delivered. 

Although it is terrible that this happened, for these men it is the best thing that could happen. Jesus and Paul had a reputation for “calling out” people; yet, we find that it was so that they “may learn not to blaspheme.”

There are other cases in Pauline letters where Paul explains that he (or rather God as the source) delivers people unto Satan. In 1 Corinthians 5:5 we find that Paul delivers them to Satan so that, “that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.”

This simply means to let people to their sins so that they can degrade and come to an end to themselves and once again realize the need for salvation (Romans 1:24; 1Corinthians 1 Timothy 1:20).

Historically and Biblically, this may mean “excommunicating” people from the local church until they come unto repentance. These are not decisions haphazardly made either and Paul gives Biblical outlines for those who try to “shipwreck” theirs and other people’s faith. 

We will later discuss procedures necessary in addressing such issues Biblically.

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