Paul’s letters to Timothy and Titus are concerned with conduct in service. Not only are they given instructions for their own guidance, but rules are laid down for the selection and service of elders, or supervisors, and servants. These two classes were officially recognized and appointed and thier functions defined. Besides this, there are exhortations for all the various classes in the ecclesias, old and young, the rich and the dependent widow, and slaves. Indeed, these epistles contain the constitution of the church. The second epistle to Timothy is especially applicable to the last days, showing whom and what to avoid, and with whom we may associate. Philemon makes the most gracious provision for those in bondage to believing masters.
As a guide in understanding the great contrast between Paul's two epistles to Timothy, it is important to know when the first epistle was penned. If it was written to Timothy in Ephesus while Paul went to Macedonia, we have no situation corresponding to it in the book of Acts, and it is difficult to understand why the instructions given should be needed in Ephesus where Paul had labored so long and which had the benefit of his personal superintendence for years.
If we reverse the situation and send Timothy to Macedonia to the ecclesias from which Paul had been driven before he could set them in order, and to which he dared not go on peril of his life, every precept in the epistle is full of point, and we have circumstances which exactly correspond in Acts 19:22. This places the epistle at the second crisis in the apostle's ministry (Ac.19:21; Ro.15:19; 2Cor.5:16). " His second epistle was written after the third and final crisis. This places a great gap between them which accounts for the vast difference in the aspect of affairs. In the first epistle, we have the ecclesia described as God's house, the pillar and base of the truth (3:15). In the second it has become a "great house" with utensils of various kind, both honorable and base (2:09). In the first the pristine power of faith holds all together. In the second the dominant note is apostasy.
I Timothy 1:1-2:4
3 Translators have experienced much difficulty with this opening sentence, because it seemed to lack the principal verb. The A V adds so do, the Revisers so do I now. It is very seldom that any translator goes so far as to add a complete sentence to the Word of God. To be sure, the question as to who remained in Ephesus and who went to Macedonia does not seem to play any important part in the understanding of the epistle, so should not be the cause of any great spiritual loss, whichever way we may translate. Instead of "As I exhorted thee to tarry. . . [when I was] going," we may translate, ". . . remain with [them] . . . [when] going." Colloquially we would say "stop over," or "drop in at," or "visit [with them when] going."
Remain and going seem to be incompatible at first glance. Actually, there is no conflict between them (cf Matt 15:32; Mark 8:2; Acts 18:18), prosmeinai does not denote to remain permanently.
4 The interminable genealogies and teaching of the law point directly to the Circumcision. The unbelieving Jews were not only the bitterest enemies Paul encountered, as the record in Acts reveals, but those who joined the believers were often unable to break away from their inborn traditions. It was just at this time that Paul announced the new creation, in which physical relationships are ignored (2 Cor.5:16). The genealogies of Judaism have their place, but not in his evangel.
8 The law, too, had its place and mission. It was never given to the nations (Ro.2:14). By it is the recognition of sin (Ro.3:20). It was added, long after the promise was given, to involve Israel in transgression, until the Seed came to Whom the promises were made (Gal.3:19). He redeems them from it and gives them the place of sons (Gal.4:5). Christ is the law's consummation to everyone who believes (Ro.10:4). Against the believer there is no law (Gal.5:23). We are not under law, but under grace (Ro.6:14).
11 "Happy" seems to be the only word we have which enables us to distinguish between this term and "blessed".
16 Paul's case is a pattern of God's present ways in grace. Instead of reforming and repenting and seeking to gain God's favor, he was madly endeavoring to do all in his power against Christ and His people (Ac.9:1-2). He was the foremost sinner of his day, and deserved the direst doom. Instead, he receives the greatest grace. Once outside the land of Israel, where God's grace was unrestrained by the law and His dealings with the covenant people, God calls him and transforms him into His most brilliant exponent of grace. Corresponding to the gracious character of his call, he is assigned to the dispensation of God's grace among the nations, a ministry distinct and different from that of any of the twelve apostles. They had mercy for the nations as a result of Israel's blessing: he dispensed grace, in spite of, and resulting from, Israel's failure.
17 The title "King of the eons" does not limit God to the eons in time, even as "the Lord of the earth" does not limit Him in space. It describes His sovereignty during the eons, for only in them is kingly government known (1 Cor.15:24).
1 At the crisis in the apostle's career when this epistle was written, he first made known the secret of the evangel, the conciliation (Ro.5:11). The scope of blessing has been gradually widening. The evangel of the kingdom, linked with the name of David, included only Israelites and proselytes. The evangel of God, associated with the name of Abraham, brought blessing to those among the nations who believed. The secret of the evangel (Ro.16:25) set forth in the fifth of Romans, called the conciliation, refers us to Adam, and reaches the whole race, though it brings reconciliation only to those who receive it. Hence our sympathies and prayers should go out for all mankind.
4 God's will for all mankind will not be fulfilled until the consummation (1 Cor.15:24). Only those who believe receive eonian salvation now. Those who acknowledge that God is greater than man, and that His will is more powerful than man's will, believe and exult in the final salvation of all mankind.
I Timothy 2:5-3:16
5 This passage is primarily intended to break down the bounds in which salvation had hitherto been confined. The testimony of past eras is no basis on which to build in this era. The testimony to the nations, committed to the apostle Paul (which he deems it necessary to solemnly affirm) is to the effect that Christ was not only the Son of David, to confirm the kingdom to Israel, or the Son of Abraham, to bring blessing to the faithful, but He is Adam's greater Son, a Man, and as such, is the Mediator for the whole human race. Nor is Israel's God limited to them: for there is only one God for all mankind. The Man Christ Jesus is giving Himself as a Ransom for all. Only a few, comparatively, are vitally affected by this fact at present, but, in due time, the offense of Adam will be much more than offset by the just award of the Man, Christ Jesus (Ro.5:18). Paul was assigned this testimony for the present era. No other apostle presents it, for it is foreign to their ministry. Christ gave His soul a ransom for many (Mt.20:28), but gives Himself a ransom for all. Redemption is for the saints, during the eons. Ransom is for all when the eons end.
9 The dancing women of the East, who are, perhaps, the only class who appear in public, braid their hair with strands strung with gold and pearls, and their vesture is most elaborate, to attract the attention of the men, who form their audience. How much better, for those whose reputation is bound up with the glory of God, to be adorned with acts which reflect His love and grace!
14 The part played by Adam in the temptation receives much light from this passage. While Eve was utterly deluded, Adam was not, and probably partook so as to involve himself in the same plight as Eve. In this light, his defense, "the woman that thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat" (Gen.3:12) has more of truth than is usually conceded. Perhaps it is especially in this sense–as deliberately involving himself in Eve's transgression–that we are to consider him as a type of Christ.
1 Each ecclesia in Paul's day seems to have had two distinct classes of officers, if we may so term them. There were the supervisors (sometimes called overseers or bishops), and the servants (or deacons). The supervisors seem to have had a general oversight of the ecclesia and its members, while the servants took a subordinate place, rendering such service as the ecclesia stood in need of. The qualifications for these positions are here given. Young and untested men were not welcome to these responsibilities. Indeed, it seems taken for granted that the supervisor is an elder (Compare Tit.1:5 and 1:7). Both supervisors and servants must show their fitness by controlling their own households.
15 In this epistle the ecclesia is the public exponent of the truth. It is called "God's house." Like a pillar in the temple, it upheld and manifested the truth of God. In Paul's second letter to Timothy, written after the apostasy had set in, he calls the ecclesia a "great house" in which are utensils both honorable and otherwise. Such is the case today. The church is no longer "the pillar and base of the truth."
16 Not only is the manuscript evidence against the reading "God manifest in flesh", but other considerations force us to the same conclusion. In the typical teaching of the tabernacle, the curtain represented His flesh (Heb.10:20). Now the veil did not reveal, but rather hid the Divine presence. It could not be said to manifest it. The phrase "justified in spirit" is also inept when applied to Christ. The proclamation among the nations is out of place, as no such ministry was attempted until long after He had been "taken up in glory."
The whole passage is concerned with conduct. The secret of devout conduct is traced in its various manifestations in those who are its subjects. It should be manifested in flesh by the ideal acts which it produces, it enjoys justification in spirit, is the subject of angelic inspection (Eph.3:10), is proclaimed among the nations, and will be removed from the world before the Lord appears in judgment.
I Timothy 4:1-5:18
1 The signs of the last days are all present with us now. The teaching of deceiving spirits and demons has become one of the great and popular cults of the day. Their deception seems chiefly to take the form of pretended communication with the dead, whom they personate. Their teaching, so far, has been fragmentary and contradictory, but an effort is being made to collect and publish their vague presentations. The following is a condensed epitome of their creed:
1. The Fatherhood of God.
2. The Brotherhood of Man.
3. Continuous Conscious Existence.
4. The Communion of Spirits.
5. Personal Responsibility.
6. Compensation and Retribution in the Hereafter.
7. Endless Progression.
That most of these are held for truth in Christendom proves this passage to be true. We should thoroughly purge ourselves of these doctrines of demons.
3 The prohibition of marriage, for a limited class, has long defied this scripture, but now the sentiment against it is growing in many quarters which hitherto have not opposed it. Abstinence from certain foods, especially meat or flesh food, has become a recognized feature of some creeds.
7 Physical gymnastics has largely replaced spiritual exercise in many religious institutions.
9 There are three "faithful sayings" in this epistle (1:15, 3:1, 4:9). These should be especially heeded and enforced. There is a logical relation between this one and the first. If Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, and has saved the foremost, it follows that, since all men are sinners, He is the Saviour of all mankind. At present, this takes effect only in those who believe: the rest are not saved until the consummation. Worthy of all welcome as this faithful saying is, it led Paul into reproach. Nevertheless, he charged Timothy: These things be charging and teaching.
15 How expressive is the phrase, "In these be"! Such meditation makes these things a part of our very being and so molds our motives that our progress will appear in all our actions.
1 Much love and consideration should characterize the acts of one who, like Timothy, has temporary oversight of an ecclesia. This applies especially to his dealings with the older men, some of whom, when he is absent, supervise its affairs. Widows presented a special problem, and they were the wards of the ecclesia under some circumstances. Young widows, or those having a claim on relatives, were not to become dependent on the ecclesia. The younger ones are charged to marry; those having children are expected to be supported by them.
3-16 It is supposed that a list of church widows was kept, which probably included all widows of sixty years and over, whether self-supporting or not. Those who were entered on this list undertook certain duties and promised to give themselves to the work. The younger widows were not to be put on this, list lest they should tire of their promise, and break faith (13). They might grow restive, and so fall into judgment. As the whole passage refers to widows, this is supplied in verse fourteen, after "younger".
5 The widows seem to have been a special charge even in the pentecostal era (Ac.6:1).
17 The highest place in an ecclesia seems to be accorded to an elder who makes it his task to teach. Indeed, the passages quoted seem to suggest that such a one should receive support. In the East, grain was threshed by driving cows over it to separate the grain from the stalk. It was a law (Deut.25:4) that such animals should not be muzzled, but allowed to eat as much as they needed. The apostle claims this privilege for all who minister the word (1Cor.9:9). The Lord has prescribed that those who proclaim the evangel should live of the evangel (1 Cor.9:14). The Lord Himself said to the seventy He sent forth, "The worker is worthy of his wages." (Lu.10:7).
I Timothy 5:19-6:15
19 Unless sufficient evidence to establish his guilt is produced, no charge against an elder is to be entertained. A single witness may be mistaken, or biased: he must be corroborated by one or more others. When, however, an elder's guilt is clearly established, his sin is to be made public. Such a punishment will deter others from similar offenses.
21 Prejudice and partiality should have no place in the judicial acts of an ecclesia. The natural inclination should be laid aside and all done in view of the Invisible.
22 The imposition of hands for the impartation of some grace (2 Tim.1:6) was to be done deliberately, without haste, so that only those who would honor the gift might receive it.
23 At this juncture in the apostle's ministry we begin to note the decline of physical blessings. His own thorn in the flesh was not removed (2 Cor.12:7), Timothy, his nearest and dearest friend, is affiicted with frequent infirmities. Instead of healing him, or recommending such a course, he suggests a remedy.
Paul's ministry was divided into four periods separated by three crises. The first crisis occurred in Antioch when he was severed from the rest (Ac.13:2). The second crisis occurred while Paul is at Ephesus, and is brought before us in the words "As these things were fulfilled" (Ac.19:21). The third was at Rome, when the Jews finally refused the kingdom (Ac.28 25-28). We have found that this letter was written at the second, central crisis in his career. Then it was that he no longer knew anyone according to the flesh. Except in the lingering testimony to the kingdom, all physical blessing vanishes. Otherwise, he surely would have cured Timothy and Epaphroditus (Phil.2:26). When once the progress of Paul's ministries is recognized, from glory to glory (2Co.3:18), away from the earthly and physical to the celestial and spiritual, healing and other gifts will be seen to be among those things which belong to immaturity.
1 A slave with a believing owner was sometimes above his master in faith, and would be tempted to forget his subordinate position. They are exhorted to take their true place as slaves, in the flesh, even though they are brethren in spirit.
5 The tendency to make capital out of religion has greatly increased since the apostle's day. Devoutness as a means to material gain is one of the most insidious of sins, which finds its followers everywhere. From the "rice Christians" of China to the very highest ecclesiastical dignitaries, its baneful influence has paralyzed God's testimony. One of the great benefits of persecution is to purge the saints of this sin.
6 Material gain, beyond what is needed for sustenance and shelter, is not true capital. It cannot give contentment in the present, and is a total loss in the future. True capital is contentment, which gives happiness now, and devoutness, which insures a reward in the life to come. These, indeed, are great capital–far greater than the billions which men amass, but which they cannot use, and which they are sure to lose. The really rich man is he who, having provided for shelter from the elements, a house and clothing and sustenance in the form of food and drink, banks the balance in such a way that it will follow him into the future.
9 Those who refuse this course will find that they lose in every way. Riches do not give contentment, but breed foolish and harmful longings, the gratification of which is destructive to happiness and lead away from the faith. Money getting and the hoarding of means not needed for our own welfare, not only is a prolific source of evil, but robs the rich of happiness now, and only increases our loss in the life to come.
13 To make alive or vivify does not refer to the giving of life in creation, but is always used of the impartation of immortality and incorruption when used of mankind (Ro.4:17; 1Co.15:36).
It is distinguished from resurrection (Jn.5:21) in that it refers to spiritual life (Ro.8:l1; 2Co.3:6). Resurrection refers primarily to the body, rousing to the soul, and vivification to the spirit. Elsewhere we are told that all mankind will be vivified (lCo.15:22). Here the whole universe is included in God's mighty purpose to defeat death.
I Timothy 6:16-21
16 Christ Jesus is the only One Who has been vivified. No one else has life beyond the reach of death. Immortality is His exclusive possession. The glory of deathlessness shines forth in Him with an intensity beyond the possibility of human perception. The apostle himself came as near to this as anyone, but the brilliance blinded him. He saw Him (1 Cor.9:1), but He appeared as a Light, which his eyes could not bear. At His advent, they shall be like Him, since they shall view Him as He is (1Jn.3:2).
17 Those who are rich, in contrast to those already considered, who are fond of money with the intention of becoming wealthy, are exhorted not to place their dependence on their possessions, which may desert them at any moment, but to rely on God, Who alone can make their enjoyment possible. Their most profitable course lies in the employment of their wealth for the benefit of others. This brings them present happiness (for it is blessed to give), and, at the same time deposits their wealth in the divine treasury where it will appear to their account in that day. In this way, they will assure for themselves real life, both now and for the eons.
20 All knowledge or "science" which is not in line with God's revelation has been found false in the past and will be so in the future. There is no conflict between true science and the Scriptures.