Greetings. We hope you enjoyed the introduction to 1 Timothy, and were furthermore enthused with reading more from the following chapters. Today we bring to you chapter 1. This blog entry was written by Manuel De Oliveira, one of our outstanding lecturers. He teaches Bible courses including Greek. Manuel is a great man of God who worked for many years as a missionary in Mozambique, and has great love for Africans and God’s people. Be blessed as you read.
NOTES AND COMMENTARY
At the end of his third missionary journey, Paul’s emotional farewell speech to the Ephesian elders warns them to watch out for “fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things” (Acts 20:29,30). His prophetic words have now been fulfilled, and this first letter to Timothy is Paul’s urgent appeal to Timothy to stop these false teachers and not let them destroy the work that they have worked so hard to build.
Paul’s message is urgent and he spends little time with the usual niceties in his introduction. He starts by establishing his credentials, he is an apostle by the command (epitage) of God our Savior and Christ Jesus our hope.
He dispenses with the usual words of thanksgiving and goes straight into the matter that concerns him, he reminds Timothy of the reason he was left in Ephesus, to order (paraggello) “certain people not to teach other doctrine… myths and endless genealogies…” (vv3,4).
After explaining that the aim of the Christian teaching is to produce love that comes from a pure heart, a good conscience and a sincere faith (v5), Paul accuses the heretics of “wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions” (v7).
To Paul the law (nomos) is good only if a person uses it lawfully (nomimos), for “the law was not meant for the righteous person” (dikaios) but for “lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers…” (v9). It is the “sound teaching (hugiaino didaskalia) based on the glorious gospel of the blessed God” with which Paul has been entrusted that leads to sound living (vv10,11).
He then uses his own life as an example of God’s transforming power and grace, he once did not use the law lawfully, he was a blasphemer, but the grace of our Lord overflowed for him and received mercy” (vv12-16). He cannot help but finish this section with a doxology: “To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” (v17).
Paul ends the chapter with a charge to Timothy to remember the prophecies made about him and to fight the good fight (kale strateia) with a clear conscience and a warning that Hymenaeus and Alexander rejected this and were handed over to Satan (vv18-20).
- Sound Teaching: In this chapter Paul emphasized the urgency for Christian leaders to know and defend the Gospel of Christ. This is especially true in Africa where many so called Christian leaders have only an elementary knowledge of the Bible and rely heavily on their own religious traditions (syncretism). Among the Zulus, for instance, Dal Congdon, states that 69.6% of all professing Christians believe in the power of spirits and impersonal forces over their lives (as cited in Van Rheenen, 1991, p98). The new generation of Christian leaders must deal with this problem if the Church is going to be genuinely Christian.
- Organization of the Church: Today’s African leaders must also dedicate themselves to appointing capable Elders over the churches. This should be easier in Africa than in most places for the respect that exists for the elders of the families and communities.
- Sound Living: The Truth cannot be simply preached, it must, more than anything, be also lived. God calls us to be holy because He is holy (1Pet 1:15). Missionaries (apostles), evangelists, elders and other leaders are the frontline in this difficult battle, they need to model their lives after Christ and, by their uncompromising dedication to holiness, inspire others to do the same.
 Van Rheenen (1991), Communicating Christ in animistic contexts. Pasadena, California: William Carey Library.