Genuineness.–The ancient Church never doubted of their being canonical and written by Paul. They are in the Peschito Syriac version of the second century. Muratori’s Fragment on the Canon of Scripture, at the close of the second century, acknowledges them as such. Irenæus [Against Heresies, 1; 3.3.3; 4.16.3; 2.14.8; 3.11.1; 1.16.3], quotes 1Ti 1:4, 9; 6:20; 2Ti 4:9-11; Tit 3:10. Clement of Alexandria [Miscellanies, 2, p. 457; 3, pp. 534, 536; 1, p. 350], quotes 1Ti 6:1, 20; Second Timothy, as to deaconesses; Tit 1:12. Tertullian [The Prescription against Heretics, 25; 6], quotes 1Ti 6:20; 2Ti 1:14; 1Ti 1:18; 6:13, &c.; 2Ti 2:2; Tit 3:10, 11. Eusebius includes the three in the “universally acknowledged” Scriptures. Also Theophilus of Antioch [To Autolychus, 3.14], quotes 1Ti 2:1, 2; Tit 3:1, and Caius (in Eusebius [Ecclesiastical History, 6.20]) recognizes their authenticity. Clement of Rome, in the end of the first century, in his first Epistle to the Corinthians [29], quotes 1Ti 2:8. Ignatius, in the beginning of the second century, in Epistle to Polycarp, [6], alludes to 2Ti 2:4. Polycarp, in the beginning of the second century [Epistle to the Philippians, 4], alludes to 2Ti 2:4; and in the ninth chapter to 2Ti 4:10. Hegisippus, in the end of the second century, in Eusebius [Ecclesiastical History, 3.32], alludes to 1Ti 6:3, 20. Athenagoras, in the end of the second century, alludes to 1Ti 6:16. Justin Martyr, in the middle of the second century [Dialogue with Trypho, 47], alludes to Tit 3:4. The Gnostic Marcion alone rejected these Epistles.

The HERESIES OPPOSED in them form the transition stage from Judaism, in its ascetic form, to Gnosticism, as subsequently developed. The references to Judaism and legalism are clear (1Ti 1:7; 4:3; Tit 1:10, 14; 3:9). Traces of beginning Gnosticism are also unequivocal (1Ti 1:4). The Gnostic theory of a twofold principle from the beginning, evil as well as good, appears in germ in 1Ti 4:3, &c. In 1Ti 6:20 the term Gnosis (“science”) itself occurs. Another Gnostic error, namely, that “the resurrection is past,” is alluded to in 2Ti 2:17, 18. The Judaism herein opposed is not that of the earlier Epistles, which upheld the law and tried to join it with faith in Christ for justification. It first passed into that phase of it which appears in the Epistle to the Colossians, whereby will-worship and angel-worship were superadded to Judaizing opinions. Then a further stage of the same evil appears in the Epistle to the Philippians (Php 3:2, 18, 19), whereby immoral practice accompanied false doctrine as to the resurrection (compare 2Ti 2:18, with 1Co 15:12, 32, 33). This descent from legality to superstition, and from superstition to godlessness, appears more matured in the references to it in these Pastoral Epistles. The false teachers now know not the true use of the law (1Ti 1:7, 8), and further, have put away good conscience as well as the faith (1Ti 1:19; 4:2); speak lies in hypocrisy, are corrupt in mind, and regard godliness as a means of earthly gain (1Ti 6:5 Tit 1:11); overthrow the faith by heresies eating as a canker, saying the resurrection is past (2Ti 2:17, 18), leading captive silly women, ever learning yet never knowing the truth, reprobate as Jannes and Jambres (2Ti 3:6, 8), defiled, unbelieving, professing to know God, but in works denying Him, abominable, disobedient, reprobate (Tit 1:15, 16). This description accords with that in the Catholic Epistles of St. John and St. Peter, and, in the Epistle to the Hebrews. This fact proves the later date of these Pastoral Epistles as compared with Paul’s earlier Epistles. The Judaism reprobated herein is not that of an earlier date, so scrupulous as to the law; it was now tending to immortality of practice. On the other hand, the Gnosticism opposed in these Epistles is not the anti-Judaic Gnosticism of a later date, which arose as a consequence of the overthrow of Judaism by the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, but it was the intermediate phase between Judaism and Gnosticism, in which the Oriental and Greek elements of the latter were in a kind of amalgam with Judaism, just prior to the overthrow of Jerusalem.

The DIRECTIONS AS TO CHURCH GOVERNORS and ministers, “bishop-elders, and deacons,” are such as were natural for the apostle, in prospect of his own approaching removal, to give to Timothy, the president of the Church at Ephesus, and to Titus, holding the same office in Crete, for securing the due administration of the Church when he should be no more, and at a time when heresies were rapidly springing up. Compare his similar anxiety in his address to the Ephesian elders (Ac 20:21-30). The Presbyterate (elders; priest is a contraction from presbyter) and Diaconate had existed from the earliest times in the Church (Ac 6:3; 11:30; 14:23). Timothy and Titus, as superintendents or overseers (so bishop subsequently meant), were to exercise the same power in ordaining elders at Ephesus which the apostle had exercised in his general supervision of all the Gentile churches.

The PECULIARITIES OF MODES OF THOUGHT AND EXPRESSION, are such as the difference of subject and circumstances of those addressed and those spoken of in these Epistles, as compared with the other Epistles, would lead us to expect. Some of these peculiar phrases occur also in Galatians, in which, as in the Pastoral Epistles, he, with his characteristic fervor, attacks the false teachers. Compare 1Ti 2:6; Tit 2:14, “gave Himself for us,” with Ga 1:4; 1Ti 1:17; 2Ti 4:18, “for ever and ever,” with Ga 1:5: “before God,” 1Ti 5:21; 6:13; 2Ti 2:14; 4:1, with Ga 1:20: “a pillar,” 1Ti 3:15, with Ga 2:9: “mediator,” 1Ti 2:5, with Ga 3:20: “in due season,” 1Ti 2:6; 6:15; Tit 1:3 with Ga 6:9.

Time and place of writing.–The First Epistle to Timothy was written not long after Paul had left Ephesus for Macedon (1Ti 1:3). Now, as Timothy was in Macedon with Paul (2Co 1:1) on the occasion of Paul’s having passed from Ephesus into that country, as recorded, Ac 19:22; 20:1, whereas the First Epistle to Timothy contemplates a longer stay of Timothy in Ephesus, Mosheim supposes that Paul was nine months of the “three years” stay mostly at Ephesus (Ac 20:31) in Macedonia, and elsewhere (perhaps Crete), (the mention of only “three months” and “two years,” Ac 19:8, 10, favors this, the remaining nine months being spent elsewhere); and that during these nine months Timothy, in Paul’s absence, superintended the Church of Ephesus. It is not likely that Ephesus and the neighboring churches should have been left long without church officers and church organization, rules respecting which are giver in this Epistle. Moreover, Timothy was still “a youth” (1Ti 4:12), which he could hardly be called after Paul’s first imprisonment, when he must have been at least thirty-four years of age. Lastly, in Ac 20:25, Paul asserts his knowledge that the Ephesians should not all see his face again, so that 1Ti 1:3 will thus refer to his sojourn at Ephesus, recorded in Ac 19:10, whence he passed into Macedonia. But the difficulty is to account for the false teachers having sprung up almost immediately (according to this theory) after the foundation of the Church. However, his visit recorded in Ac 19:1-41 was not his first visit. The beginning of the Church at Ephesus was probably made at his visit a year before (Ac 18:19-21). Apollos, Aquila and Priscilla, carried on the work (Ac 18:24-26). Thus, as to the sudden growth of false teachers, there was time enough for their springing up, especially considering that the first converts at Ephesus were under Apollos’ imperfect Christian teachings at first, imbued as he was likely to be with the tenets of Philo of Alexandria, Apollos’ native town, combined with John the Baptist’s Old Testament teachings (Ac 18:24-26). Besides Ephesus, from its position in Asia, its notorious voluptuousness and sorcery (Ac 19:18, 19), and its lewd worship of Diana (answering to the Phoenician Ashtoreth), was likely from the first to tinge Christianity in some of its converts with Oriental speculations and Asiatic licentiousness of practices. Thus the phenomenon of the phase of error presented in this Epistle, being intermediate between Judaism and later Gnosticism (see above), would be such as might occur at an early period in the Ephesian Church, as well as later, when we know it had open “apostles” of error (Re 2:2, 6), and Nicolaitans infamous in practice. As to the close connection between this First Epistle and the Second Epistle (which must have been written at the close of Paul’s life), on which Alford relies for his theory of making the First Epistle also written at the close of Paul’s life, the similarity of circumstances, the person addressed being one and the same, and either in Ephesus at the time, or at least connected with Ephesus as its church overseer, and having heretics to contend with of the same stamp as in the First Epistle, would account for the connection. There is not so great identity of tone as to compel us to adopt the theory that some years could not have elapsed between the two Epistles.

However, all these arguments against the later date may be answered. This First Epistle may refer not to the first organization of the Church under its bishops, or elders and deacons, but to the moral qualifications laid down at a later period for those officers when scandals rendered such directions needful. Indeed, the object for which he left Timothy at Ephesus he states (1Ti 1:3) to be, not to organize the Church for the first time, but to restrain the false teachers. The directions as to the choice of fit elders and deacons refer to the filling up of vacancies, not to their first appointment. The fact of there existing an institution for Church widows implies an established organization. As to Timothy’s “youth,” it may be spoken of comparatively young compared with Paul, now “the aged” (Phm 9), and with some of the Ephesian elders, senior to Timothy their overseer. As to Ac 20:25, we know not but that “all” of the elders of Ephesus called to Miletus “never saw Paul’s face” afterwards, as he “knew” (doubtless by inspiration) would be the case, which obviates the need of Alford’s lax view, that Paul was wrong in this his positive inspired anticipation (for such it was, not a mere boding surmise as to the future). Thus he probably visited Ephesus again (1Ti 1:3; 2Ti 1:18; 4:20, he would hardly have been at Miletum, so near Ephesus, without visiting Ephesus) after his first imprisonment in Rome, though all the Ephesian elders whom he had addressed formerly at Miletus did not again see him. The general similarity of subject and style, and of the state of the Church between the two Epistles, favors the view that they were near one another in date. Also, against the theory of the early date is the difficulty of defining, when, during Paul’s two or three years’ stay at Ephesus, we can insert an absence of Paul from Ephesus long enough for the requirements of the case, which imply a lengthened stay and superintendence of Timothy at Ephesus (see, however, 1Ti 3:14, on the other side) after having been “left” by Paul there. Timothy did not stay there when Paul left Ephesus (Ac 19:22; 20:1; 2Co 1:1). In 1Ti 3:14, Paul says, “I write, hoping to come unto thee shortly,” but on the earlier occasion of his passing from Ephesus to Macedon he had no such expectation, but had planned to spend the summer in Macedon, and the winter in Corinth, (1Co 16:6). The expression “Till I come” (1Ti 4:13), implies that Timothy was not to leave his post till Paul should arrive; this and the former objection, however, do not hold good against Mosheim’s theory. Moreover, Paul in his farewell address to the Ephesian elders prophetically anticipates the rise of false teachers hereafter of their own selves; therefore this First Epistle, which speaks of their actual presence at Ephesus, would naturally seem to be not prior, but subsequent, to the address, that is, will belong to the later date assigned. In the Epistle to the Ephesians no notice is taken of the Judaeo-Gnostic errors, which would have been noticed had they been really in existence; however, they are alluded to in the contemporaneous sister Epistle to Colossians (Col 2:1-23).

Whatever doubt must always remain as to the date of the First Epistle, there can be hardly any as to that of the Second Epistle. In 2Ti 4:13, Paul directs Timothy to bring the books and cloak which the apostle had left at Troas. Assuming that the visit to Troas referred to is the one mentioned in Ac 20:5-7, it will follow that the cloak and parchments lay for about seven years at Troas, that being the time that elapsed between the visit and Paul’s first imprisonment at Rome: a very unlikely supposition, that he should have left either unused for so long. Again, when, during his first Roman imprisonment, he wrote to the Colossians (Col 4:14) and Philemon (Phm 24), Demas was with him; but when he was writing 2Ti 4:10, Demas had forsaken him from love of this world, and gone to Thessalonica. Again, when he wrote to the Ephesians, Colossians, Philippians, and Philemon, he had good hopes of a speedy liberation; but here in 2Ti 4:6-8, he anticipates immediate death, having been at least once already tried (2Ti 4:16). Again, he is in this Epistle represented as in closer confinement than he was when writing those former Epistles in his first imprisonment (even in the Philippians, which represent him in greater uncertainty as to his life, he cherished the hope of soon being delivered, Php 2:24; 2Ti 1:16-18; 2:9; 4:6-8, 16). Again (2Ti 4:20), he speaks of having left Trophimus sick at Miletum. This could not have been on the occasion, Ac 20:15. For Trophimus was with Paul at Jerusalem shortly afterwards (Ac 21:29). Besides, he would thus be made to speak of an event six or seven years after its occurrence, as a recent event: moreover, Timothy was, on that occasion of the apostle being at Miletum, with Paul, and therefore needed not to be informed of Trophimus’ sickness there (Ac 20:4-17). Also, the statement (2Ti 4:20), “Erastus abode at Corinth,” implies that Paul had shortly before been at Corinth, and left Erastus there; but Paul had not been at Corinth for several years before his first imprisonment, and in the interval Timothy had been with him, so that he did not need to write subsequently about that visit. He must therefore have been liberated after his first imprisonment (indeed, Heb 13:23, 24, expressly proves that the writer was in Italy and at liberty), and resumed his apostolic journeyings, and been imprisoned at Rome again, whence shortly before his death he wrote Second Timothy.

Eusebius [Chronicles, Anno 2083] (beginning October, A.D. 67), says, “Nero, to his other crimes, added the persecution of Christians: under him the apostles Peter and Paul consummated their martyrdom at Rome.” So Jerome [On Illustrious Men], “In the fourteenth year of Nero, Paul was beheaded at Rome for Christ’s sake, on the same day as Peter, and was buried on the Ostian Road, in the thirty-seventh year after the death of our Lord.” Alford reasonably conjectures the Pastoral Epistles were written near this date. The interval was possibly filled up (so Clement of Rome states that Paul preached as far as “to the extremity of the west”) by a journey to Spain (Ro 15:24, 28), according to his own original intention. Muratori’s Fragment on the Canon of Scripture (about A.D. 170) also alleges Paul’s journey into Spain. So Eusebius, Chrysostom, and Jerome. Be that as it may, he seems shortly before his second imprisonment to have visited Ephesus, where a new body of elders governed the Church (Ac 20:25), say in the latter end of A.D. 66, or beginning of 67. Supposing him thirty at his conversion, he would now be upwards of sixty, and older in constitution than in years, through continual hardship. Even four years before he called himself “Paul the aged” (Phm 9).

From Ephesus he went into Macedonia (1Ti 1:3). He may have written the First Epistle to Timothy from that country. But his use of “went,” not “came,” in 1Ti 1:3, “When I went into Macedonia,” implies he was not there when writing. Wherever he was, he writes uncertain how long he may be detained from coming to Timothy (1Ti 3:14, 15). Birks shows the probability that he wrote from Corinth, between which city and Ephesus the communication was rapid and easy. His course, as on both former occasions, was from Macedon to Corinth. He finds a coincidence between 1Ti 2:11-14, and 1Co 14:34, as to women being silent in Church; and 1Ti 5:17, 18, and 1Co 9:8-10, as to the maintenance of ministers, on the same principle as the Mosaic law, that the ox should not be muzzled that treadeth out the corn; and 1Ti 5:19, 20, and 2Co 13:1-4, as to charges against elders. It would be natural for the apostle in the very place where these directions had been enforced, to reproduce them in his letter.

The date of the Epistle to Titus must depend on that assigned to First Timothy, with which it is connected in subject, phraseology, and tone. There is no difficulty in the Epistle to Titus, viewed by itself, in assigning it to the earlier date, namely, before Paul’s first imprisonment. In Ac 18:18, 19, Paul, in journeying from Corinth to Palestine, for some cause or other landed at Ephesus. Now we find (Tit 3:13) that Apollos in going from Ephesus to Corinth was to touch at Crete (which seems to coincide with Apollos’ journey from Ephesus to Corinth, recorded in Ac 18:24, 27; 19:1); therefore it is not unlikely that Paul may have taken Crete similarly on his way between Corinth and Ephesus; or, perhaps been driven out of his course to it in one of his three shipwrecks spoken of in 2Co 11:25, 26; this will account for his taking Ephesus on his way from Corinth to Palestine, though out of his regular course. At Ephesus Paul may have written the Epistle to Titus [Hug]; there he probably met Apollos and gave the Epistle to Titus to his charge, before his departure for Corinth by way of Crete, and before the apostle’s departure for Jerusalem (Ac 18:19-21, 24). Moreover, on Paul’s way back from Jerusalem and Antioch, he travelled some time in Upper Asia (Ac 19:1); and it was then, probably, that his intention to “winter at Nicopolis” was realized, there being a town of that name between Antioch and Tarsus, lying on Paul’s route to Galatia (Tit 3:12). Thus, First Timothy will, in this theory, be placed two and a half years later (Ac 20:1; compare 1Ti 1:3).

Alford’s argument for classing the Epistle to Titus with First Timothy, as written after Paul’s first Roman imprisonment, stands or falls with his argument for assigning First Timothy to that date. Indeed, Hug’s unobjectionable argument for the earlier date of the Epistle to Titus, favors the early date assigned to First Timothy, which is so much akin to it, if other arguments be not thought to counterbalance this. The Church of Crete had been just founded (Tit 1:5), and yet the same heresies are censured in it as in Ephesus, which shows that no argument, such as Alford alleges against the earlier date of First Timothy, can be drawn from them (Tit 1:10, 11, 15, 16; 3:9, 11). But vice versa, if, as seems likely from the arguments adduced, the First Epistle to Timothy be assigned to the later date, the Epistle to Titus must, from similarity of style, belong to the same period. Alford traces Paul’s last journey before his second imprisonment thus: To Crete (Tit 1:5), Miletus (2Ti 4:20), Colosse (fulfilling his intention, Phm 22), Ephesus (1Ti 1:3; 2Ti 1:18), from which neighborhood he wrote the Epistle to Titus; Troas, Macedonia, Corinth (2Ti 4:20), Nicopolis (Tit 3:12) in Epirus, where he had intended to winter; a place in which, as being a Roman colony, he would be free from tumultuary violence, and yet would be more open to a direct attack from foes in the metropolis, Rome. Being known in Rome as the leader of the Christians, he was probably [Alford] arrested as implicated in causing the fire in A.D. 64, attributed by Nero to the Christians, and was sent to Rome by the Duumvirs of Nicopolis. There he was imprisoned as a common malefactor (2Ti 2:9); his Asiatic friends deserted him, except Onesiphorus (2Ti 1:16). Demas, Crescens, and Titus, left him. Tychicus he had sent to Ephesus. Luke alone remained with him (2Ti 4:10-12). Under the circumstances he writes the Second Epistle to Timothy, most likely while Timothy was at Ephesus (2Ti 2:17; compare 1Ti 1:20; 2Ti 4:13), begging him to come to him before winter (2Ti 4:21), and anticipating his own execution soon (2Ti 4:6). Tychicus was perhaps the bearer of the Second Epistle (2Ti 4:12). His defense was not made before the emperor, for the latter was then in Greece (2Ti 4:16, 17). Tradition represents that he died by the sword, which accords with the fact that his Roman citizenship would exempt him from torture; probably late in A.D. 67 or A.D. 68, the last year of Nero.

Timothy is first mentioned, Ac 16:1, as dwelling in Lystra (not Derbe, compare Ac 20:4). His mother was a Jewess named Eunice (2Ti 1:5); his father, “a Greek” (that is, a Gentile). As Timothy is mentioned as “a disciple” in Ac 16:1, he must have been converted before, and this by Paul (1Ti 1:2), probably at his former visit to Lystra (Ac 14:6); at the same time, probably, that his Scripture-loving mother, Eunice, and grandmother, Lois, were converted to Christ from Judaism (2Ti 3:14, 15). Not only the good report given as to him by the brethren of Lystra, but also his origin, partly Jewish, partly Gentile, adapted him specially for being Paul’s assistant in missionary work, laboring as the apostle did in each place, firstly among the Jews, and then among the Gentiles. In order to obviate Jewish prejudices, he first circumcised him. He seems to have accompanied Paul in his tour through Macedonia; but when the apostle went forward to Athens, Timothy and Silas remained in Berea. Having been sent back by Paul to visit the Thessalonian Church (1Th 3:2), he brought his report of it to the apostle at Corinth (1Th 3:6). Hence we find his name joined with Paul’s in the addresses of both the Epistles to Thessalonians, which were written at Corinth. We again find him “ministering to” Paul during the lengthened stay at Ephesus (Ac 19:22). Thence he was sent before Paul into Macedonia and to Corinth (1Co 4:17; 16:10). He was with Paul when he wrote the Second Epistle to Corinthians (2Co 1:1); and the following winter in Corinth, when Paul sent from thence his Epistle to the Romans (Ro 16:21). On Paul’s return to Asia through Macedonia, he went forward and waited for the apostle at Troas (Ac 20:3-5). Next we find him with Paul during his imprisonment at Rome, when the apostle wrote the Epistles to Colossians (Col 1:1), Philemon (Phm 1), and Philippians (Php 1:1). He was imprisoned and set at liberty about the same time as the writer of the Hebrews (Heb 13:23). In the Pastoral Epistles, we find him mentioned as left by the apostle at Ephesus to superintend the Church there (1Ti 1:3). The last notice of him is in the request which Paul makes to him (2Ti 4:21) to “come before winter,” that is about A.D. 67 [Alford]. Eusebius [Ecclesiastical History, 3.42], reports that he was first bishop of Ephesus; and [NICOPHORUS, Ecclesiastical History, 3.11], represents that he died by martyrdom. If then, St. John, as tradition represents, resided and died in that city, it must have been at a later period. Paul himself ordained or consecrated him with laying on of his own hands, and those of the presbytery, in accordance with prophetic intimations given respecting him by those possessing the prophetic gift (1Ti 1:18; 4:14 2Ti 1:6). His self-denying character is shown by his leaving home at once to accompany the apostle, and submitting to circumcision for the Gospel’s sake; and also by his abstemiousness (noted in 1Ti 5:23) notwithstanding his bodily infirmities, which would have warranted a more generous diet. Timidity and a want of self-confidence and boldness in dealing with the difficulties of his position, seem to have been a defect in his otherwise beautiful character as a Christian minister (1Co 16:10; 1Ti 4:12; 2Ti 1:7).

The DESIGN of the First Epistle was: (1) to direct Timothy to charge the false teachers against continuing to teach other doctrine than that of the Gospel (1Ti 1:3-20; compare Re 2:1-6); (2) to give him instructions as to the orderly conducting of worship, the qualifications of bishops and deacons, and the selection of widows who should, in return for Church charity, do appointed service (1Ti 2:1-6:2); (3) to warn against covetousness, a sin prevalent at Ephesus, and to urge to good works (1Ti 6:3-19).



1Ti 1:1-20. Address: Paul’s Design in Having Left Timothy at Ephesus, Namely, to Check False Teachers; True Use of the Law; Harmonizing with the Gospel; God’s Grace in Calling Paul, Once a Blasphemer, to Experience and to Preach It; Charges to Timothy.

1. by the commandment of God–the authoritative injunction, as well as the commission, of God. In the earlier Epistles the phrase is, “by the will of God.” Here it is expressed in a manner implying that a necessity was laid on him to act as an apostle, not that it was merely at his option. The same expression occurs in the doxology, probably written long after the Epistle itself [Alford] (Ro 16:26).

God our Saviour–The Father (1Ti 2:3; 4:10; Lu 1:47; 2Ti 1:9; Tit 1:3; 2:10; 3:4; Jude 25). It was a Jewish expression in devotion, drawn from the Old Testament (compare Ps 106:21).

our hope–(Col 1:27; Tit 1:2; 2:13).

2. my own son–literally, “a genuine son” (compare Ac 16:1; 1Co 4:14-17). See Introduction.

mercy–added here, in addressing Timothy, to the ordinary salutation, “Grace unto you (Ro 1:7; 1Co 1:3, &c.), and peace.” In Ga 6:16, “peace and mercy” occur. There are many similarities of style between the Epistle to the Galatians and the Pastoral Epistles (see Introduction); perhaps owing to his there, as here, having, as a leading object in writing, the correction of false teachers, especially as to the right and wrong use of the law (1Ti 1:9). If the earlier date be assigned to First Timothy, it will fall not long after, or before (according as the Epistle to the Galatians was written at Ephesus or at Corinth) the writing of the Epistle to the Galatians, which also would account for some similarity of style. “Mercy” is grace of a more tender kind, exercised towards the miserable, the experience of which in one’s own case especially fits for the Gospel MINISTRY. Compare as to Paul himself (1Ti 1:14, 16; 1Co 7:25; 2Co 4:1; Heb 2:17) [Bengel]. He did not use “mercy” as to the churches, because “mercy” in all its fulness already existed towards them; but in the case of an individual minister, fresh measures of it were continually needed. “Grace” has reference to the sins of men; “mercy” to their misery. God extends His grace to men as they are guilty; His “mercy” to them as they are miserable [Trench].

Jesus Christ–The oldest manuscripts read the order, “Christ Jesus.” In the Pastoral Epistles “Christ” is often put before “Jesus,” to give prominence to the fact that the Messianic promises of the Old Testament, well known to Timothy (2Ti 3:15), were fulfilled in Jesus.

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” (Re 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 Ac 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 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; 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 (Ga 2:12; Jude 4), [Ellicott].

teach no other doctrine–than what I have taught (Ga 1:6-9). His prophetic bodings some years before (Ac 20:29, 30) were now being realized (compare 1Ti 6:3).

4. fables–legends about the origin and propagation of angels, such as the false teachers taught at Colosse (Col 2:18-23). “Jewish fables” (Tit 1:14). “Profane, and old wives’ fables” (1Ti 4:7; 2Ti 4:4).

genealogies–not merely such civil genealogies as were common among the Jews, whereby they traced their descent from the patriarchs, to which Paul would not object, and which he would not as here class with “fables,” but Gnostic genealogies of spirits and aeons, as they called them, “Lists of Gnostic emanations” [Alford]. So Tertullian [Against Valentinian, c. 3], and Irenæus [Preface]. The Judaizers here alluded to, while maintaining the perpetual obligation of the Mosaic law, joined with it a theosophic ascetic tendency, pretending to see in it mysteries deeper than others could see. The seeds, not the full-grown Gnosticism of the post-apostolic age, then existed. This formed the transition stage between Judaism and Gnosticism. “Endless” refers to the tedious unprofitableness of their lengthy genealogies (compare Tit 3:9). Paul opposes to their “aeons,” the “King of the aeons (so the Greek, 1Ti 1:17), whom be glory throughout the aeons of aeons.” The word “aeons” was probably not used in the technical sense of the latter Gnostics as yet; but “the only wise God” (1Ti 1:17), by anticipation, confutes the subsequently adopted notions in the Gnostics’ own phraseology.

questions–of mere speculation (Ac 25:20), not practical; generating merely curious discussions. “Questions and strifes of words” (1Ti 6:4): “to no profit” (2Ti 2:14); “gendering strifes” (2Ti 2:23). “Vain jangling” (1Ti 1:6, 7) of would-be “teachers of the law.”

godly edifying–The oldest manuscripts read, “the dispensation of God,” the Gospel dispensation of God towards man (1Co 9:17), “which is (has its element) in faith.” Conybeare translates, “The exercising of the stewardship of God” (1Co 9:17). He infers that the false teachers in Ephesus were presbyters, which accords with the prophecy, Ac 20:30. However, the oldest Latin versions, and Irenæus and Hilary, support English Version reading. Compare 1Ti 1:5, “faith unfeigned.”

5. But–in contrast to the doctrine of the false teachers.

the end–the aim.

the commandment–Greek, “of the charge” which you ought to urge on your flock. Referring to the same Greek word as in 1Ti 1:3, 18; here, however, in a larger sense, as including the Gospel “dispensation of God” (see on 1Ti 1:4; 1Ti 1:11), which was the sum and substance of the “charge” committed to Timothy wherewith he should “charge” his flock.

charity–LOVE; the sum and end of the law and of the Gospel alike, and that wherein the Gospel is the fulfilment of the spirit of the law in its every essential jot and tittle (Ro 13:10). The foundation is faith (1Ti 1:4), the “end” is love (1Ti 1:14; Tit 3:15).

out of–springing as from a fountain.

pure heart–a heart purified by faith (Ac 15:9; 2Ti 2:22; Tit 1:15).

good conscience–a conscience cleared from guilt by the effect of sound faith in Christ (1Ti 1:19; 1Ti 3:9; 2Ti 1:3; 1Pe 3:21). Contrast 1Ti 4:2; Tit 1:15; compare Ac 23:1. John uses “heart,” where Paul would use “conscience.” In Paul the understanding is the seat of conscience; the heart is the seat of love [Bengel]. A good conscience is joined with sound faith; a bad conscience with unsoundness in the faith (compare Heb 9:14).

faith unfeigned–not a hypocritical, dead, and unfruitful faith, but faith working by love (Ga 5:6). The false teachers drew men off from such a loving, working, real faith, to profitless, speculative “questions” (1Ti 1:4) and jangling (1Ti 1:6).

6. From which–namely, from a pure heart, good conscience, and faith unfeigned, the well-spring of love.

having swerved–literally, “having missed the mark (the ‘end’) to be aimed at.” It is translated, “erred,” 1Ti 6:21; 2Ti 2:18. Instead of aiming at and attaining the graces above named, they “have turned aside (1Ti 5:15; 2Ti 4:4; Heb 12:13) unto vain jangling”; literally, “vain talk,” about the law and genealogies of angels (1Ti 1:7; Tit 3:9; 1:10); 1Ti 6:20, “vain babblings and oppositions.” It is the greatest vanity when divine things are not truthfully discussed (Ro 1:21) [Bengel].

7. Sample of their “vain talk” (1Ti 1:6).

Desiring–They are would-be teachers, not really so.

the law–the Jewish law (Tit 1:14; 3:9). The Judaizers here meant seem to be distinct from those impugned in the Epistles to the Galatians and Romans, who made the works of the law necessary to justification in opposition to Gospel grace. The Judaizers here meant corrupted the law with “fables,” which they pretended to found on it, subversive of morals as well as of truth. Their error was not in maintaining the obligation of the law, but in abusing it by fabulous and immoral interpretations of, and additions to, it.

neither what they say, nor whereof–neither understanding their own assertions, nor the object itself about which they make them. They understand as little about the one as the other [Alford].

8. But–“Now we know” (Ro 3:19; 7:14).

law is good–in full agreement with God’s holiness and goodness.

if a man–primarily, a teacher; then, every Christian.

use it lawfully–in its lawful place in the Gospel economy, namely, not as a means of a “‘righteous man” attaining higher perfection than could be attained by the Gospel alone (1Ti 4:8; Tit 1:14), which was the perverted use to which the false teachers put it, but as a means of awakening the sense of sin in the ungodly (1Ti 1:9, 10; compare Ro 7:7-12; Ga 3:21).

9. law is not made for a righteous man–not for one standing by faith in the righteousness of Christ put on him for justification, and imparted inwardly by the Spirit for sanctification. “One not forensically amenable to the law” [Alford]. For sanctification, the law gives no inward power to fulfil it; but Alford goes too far in speaking of the righteous man as “not morally needing the law.” Doubtless, in proportion as he is inwardly led by the Spirit, the justified man needs not the law, which is only an outward rule (Ro 6:14; Ga 5:18, 23). But as the justified man often does not give himself up wholly to the inward leading of the Spirit, he morally needs the outward law to show him his sin and God’s requirements. The reason why the ten commandments have no power to condemn the Christian, is not that they have no authority over him, but because Christ has fulfilled them as our surety (Ro 10:4).

disobedient–Greek, “not subject”; insubordinate; it is translated “unruly,” Tit 1:6, 10; “lawless and disobedient” refer to opposers of the law, for whom it is “enacted” (so the Greek, for “is made”).

ungodly and … sinners–Greek, he who does not reverence God, and he who openly sins against Him; the opposers of God, from the law comes.

unholy and profane–those inwardly impure, and those deserving exclusion from the outward participation in services of the sanctuary; sinners against the third and fourth commandments.

murderers–or, as the Greek may mean, “smiters” of fathers and … mothers; sinners against the fifth commandment.

manslayers–sinners against the sixth commandment.

10. whoremongers, &c.–sinners against the seventh commandment.

men-stealers–that is, slave dealers. The most heinous offense against the eighth commandment. No stealing of a man’s goods can equal in atrocity the stealing of a man’s liberty. Slavery is not directly assailed in the New Testament; to have done so would have been to revolutionize violently the existing order of things. But Christianity teaches principles sure to undermine, and at last overthrow it, wherever Christianity has had its natural development (Mt 7:12).

liars … perjured–offenders against the ninth commandment.

if there be any other thing–answering to the tenth commandment in its widest aspect. He does not particularly specify it because his object is to bring out the grosser forms of transgression; whereas the tenth is deeply spiritual, so much so indeed, that it was by it that the sense of sin, in its subtlest form of “lust,” Paul tells us (Ro 7:7), was brought home to his own conscience. Thus, Paul argues, these would-be teachers of the law, while boasting of a higher perfection through it, really bring themselves down from the Gospel elevation to the level of the grossly “lawless,” for whom, not for Gospel believers, the law was designed. And in actual practice the greatest sticklers for the law as the means of moral perfection, as in this case, are those ultimately liable to fall utterly from the morality of the law. Gospel grace is the only true means of sanctification as well as of justification.

sound–healthy, spiritually wholesome (1Ti 6:3; 2Ti 1:13; Tit 1:13; 2:2), as opposed to sickly, morbid (as the Greek of “doting” means, 1Ti 6:4), and “canker” (2Ti 2:17). “The doctrine,” or “teaching, which is according to godliness” (1Ti 6:3).

11. According to the glorious gospel–The Christian’s freedom from the law as a sanctifier, as well as a justifier, implied in the previous, 1Ti 1:9, 10, is what this 1Ti 1:11 is connected with. This exemption of the righteous from the law, and assignment of it to the lawless as its true object, is “according to the Gospel of the glory (so the Greek, compare Note, see on 2Co 4:4) of the blessed God.” The Gospel manifests God’s glory (Eph 1:17; 3:16) in accounting “righteous” the believer, through the righteousness of Christ, without “the law” (1Ti 1:9); and in imparting that righteousness whereby he loathes all those sins against which (1Ti 1:9, 10) the law is directed. The term, “blessed,” indicates at once immortality and supreme happiness. The supremely blessed One is He from whom all blessedness flows. This term, as applied to God, occurs only here and in 1Ti 6:15: appropriate in speaking here of the Gospel blessedness, in contrast to the curse on those under the law (1Ti 1:9; Ga 3:10).

committed to my trust–Translate as in the Greek order, which brings into prominent emphasis Paul, “committed in trust to me”; in contrast to the kind of law-teaching which they (who had no Gospel commission), the false teachers, assumed to themselves (1Ti 1:8; Tit 1:3).

12. The honor done him in having the Gospel ministry committed to him suggests the digression to what he once was, no better (1Ti 1:13) than those lawless ones described above (1Ti 1:9, 10), when the grace of our Lord (1Ti 1:14) visited him.

And–omitted in most (not all) of the oldest manuscripts.

I thank–Greek, “I have (that is, feel) gratitude.”

enabled me–the same Greek verb as in Ac 9:22, “Saul increased the more in strength.” An undesigned coincidence between Paul and Luke, his companion. Enabled me, namely, for the ministry. “It is not in my own strength that I bring this doctrine to men, but as strengthened and nerved by Him who saved me” [Theodoret]. Man is by nature “without strength” (Ro 5:6). True conversion and calling confer power [Bengel].

for that–the main ground of his “thanking Christ.”

he counted me faithful–He foreordered and foresaw that I would be faithful to the trust committed to me. Paul’s thanking God for this shows that the merit of his faithfulness was due solely to God’s grace, not to his own natural strength (1Co 7:25). Faithfulness is the quality required in a steward (1Co 4:2).

putting me into–rather as in 1Th 5:9, “appointing me (in His sovereign purposes of grace) unto the ministry” (Ac 20:24).

13. Who was before–Greek, “Formerly being a blasphemer.” “Notwithstanding that I was before a blasphemer,” &c. (Ac 26:9, 11).

persecutor–(Ga 1:13).

injurious–Greek, “insulter”; one who acts injuriously from arrogant contempt of others. Translate, Ro 1:30, “despiteful.” One who added insult to injury. Bengel translates, “a despiser.” I prefer the idea, contumelious to others [Wahl]. Still I agree with Bengel that “blasphemer” is against God, “persecutor,” against holy men, and “insolently injurious” includes, with the idea of injuring others, that of insolent “uppishness” [Donaldson] in relation to one’s self. This threefold relation to God, to one’s neighbor, and to one’s self, occurs often in this Epistle (1Ti 1:5, 9, 14; Tit 2:12).

I obtained mercy–God’s mercy, and Paul’s want of it, stand in sharp contrast [Ellicott]; Greek, “I was made the object of mercy.” The sense of mercy was perpetual in the mind of the apostle (compare Note, see on 1Ti 1:2). Those who have felt mercy can best have mercy on those out of the way (Heb 5:2, 3).

because I did it ignorantly–Ignorance does not in itself deserve pardon; but it is a less culpable cause of unbelief than pride and wilful hardening of one’s self against the truth (Joh 9:41; Ac 26:9). Hence it is Christ’s plea of intercession for His murderers (Lu 23:34); and it is made by the apostles a mitigating circumstance in the Jews’ sin, and one giving a hope of a door of repentance (Ac 3:17; Ro 10:2). The “because,” &c., does not imply that ignorance was a sufficient reason for mercy being bestowed; but shows how it was possible that such a sinner could obtain mercy. The positive ground of mercy being shown to him, lies solely in the compassion of God (Tit 3:5). The ground of the ignorance lies in the unbelief, which implies that this ignorance is not unaccompanied with guilt. But there is a great difference between his honest zeal for the law, and a wilful striving against the Spirit of God (Mt 12:24-32; Lu 11:52) [Wiesinger].

14. And–Greek, “But.” Not only so (was mercy shown me), but

the grace–by which “I obtained mercy” (1Ti 1:13).

was exceeding abundant–Greek, “superabounded.” Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound” (Ro 5:20).

with faith–accompanied with faith, the opposite of “unbelief” (1Ti 1:13).

love–in contrast to “a blasphemer, persecutor, and injurious.”

which is in Christ–as its element and home [Alford]: here as its source whence it flows to us.

15. faithful–worthy of credit, because “God” who says it “is faithful” to His word (1Co 1:9; 1Th 5:24; 2Th 3:3; Re 21:5; 22:6). This seems to have become an axiomatic saying among Christians the phrase, “faithful saying,” is peculiar to the Pastoral Epistles (1Ti 2:11; 4:9; Tit 3:8). Translate as Greek, “Faithful is the saying.”

all–all possible; full; to be received by all, and with all the faculties of the soul, mind, and heart. Paul, unlike the false teachers (1Ti 1:7), understands what he is saying, and whereof he affirms; and by his simplicity of style and subject, setting forth the grand fundamental truth of salvation through Christ, confutes the false teachers’ abstruse and unpractical speculations (1Co 1:18-28; Tit 2:1).

acceptation–reception (as of a boon) into the heart, as well as the understanding, with all gladness; this is faith acting on the Gospel offer, and welcoming and appropriating it (Ac 2:41).

Christ–as promised.

Jesus–as manifested [Bengel].

came into the world–which was full of sin (Joh 1:29; Ro 5:12; 1Jo 2:2). This implies His pre-existence. Joh 1:9, Greek, “the true Light that, coming into the world, lighteth every man.”

to save sinners–even notable sinners like Saul of Tarsus. His instance was without a rival since the ascension, in point of the greatness of the sin and the greatness of the mercy: that the consenter to Stephen, the proto-martyr’s death, should be the successor of the same!

I am–not merely, “I was chief” (1Co 15:9; Eph 3:8; compare Lu 18:13). To each believer his own sins must always appear, as long as he lives, greater than those of others, which he never can know as he can know his own.

chief–the same Greek as in 1Ti 1:16, “first,” which alludes to this fifteenth verse, Translate in both verses, “foremost.” Well might he infer where there was mercy for him, there is mercy for all who will come to Christ (Mt 18:11; Lu 19:10).

16. Howbeit–Greek, “But”; contrasting his own conscious sinfulness with God’s gracious visitation of him in mercy.

for this cause–for this very purpose.

that in me–in my case.

first–“foremost.” As I was “foremost” (Greek for chief, 1Ti 1:15) in sin, so God has made me the “foremost” sample of mercy.

show–to His own glory (the middle Greek, voice), Eph 2:7.

all long-suffering–Greek, “the whole (of His) long-suffering,” namely, in bearing so long with me while I was a persecutor.

a pattern–a sample (1Co 10:6, 11) to assure the greatest sinners of the certainty that they shall not be rejected in coming to Christ, since even Saul found mercy. So David made his own case of pardon, notwithstanding the greatness of his sin, a sample to encourage other sinners to seek pardon (Ps 32:5, 6). The Greek for “pattern” is sometimes used for a “sketch” or outline–the filling up to take place in each man’s own case.

believe on him–Belief rests ON Him as the only foundation on which faith relies.

to life everlasting–the ultimate aim which faith always keeps in view (Tit 1:2).

17. A suitable conclusion to the beautifully simple enunciation of the Gospel, of which his own history is a living sample or pattern. It is from the experimental sense of grace that the doxology flows [Bengel].

the King, eternal–literally, “King of the (eternal) ages.” The Septuagint translates Ex 15:18, “The Lord shall reign for ages and beyond them.” Ps 145:13, Margin, “Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,” literally, “a kingdom of all ages.” The “life everlasting” (1Ti 1:16) suggested here “the King eternal,” or everlasting. It answers also to “for ever and ever” at the close, literally, “to the ages of the ages” (the countless succession of ages made up of ages).

immortal–The oldest manuscripts read, “incorruptible.” The Vulgate, however, and one very old manuscript read as English Version (Ro 1:23).

invisible–(1Ti 6:16; Ex 33:20; Joh 1:18; Col 1:15; Heb 11:27).

the only wise God–The oldest manuscripts omit “wise,” which probably crept in from Ro 16:27, where it is more appropriate to the context than here (compare Jude 25). “The only Potentate” (1Ti 6:15; Ps 86:10; Joh 5:44).

for ever, &c.–See note, above. The thought of eternity (terrible as it is to unbelievers) is delightful to those assured of grace (1Ti 1:16) [Bengel].

18. He resumes the subject begun at 1Ti 1:3. The conclusion (apodosis) to the foregoing, “as I besought thee … charge” (1Ti 1:3), is here given, if not formally, at least substantially.

This charge–namely, “that thou in them (so the Greek) mightest war,” that is, fulfil thy high calling, not only as a Christian, but as a minister officially, one function of which is, to “charge some that they teach no other doctrine” (1Ti 1:3).

I commit–as a sacred deposit (1Ti 6:20; 2Ti 2:2) to be laid before thy hearers.

according to–in pursuance of; in consonance with.

the prophecies which went before on thee–the intimations given by prophets respecting thee at thy ordination, 1Ti 4:14 (as, probably, by Silas, a companion of Paul, and “a prophet,” Ac 15:32). Such prophetical intimation, as well as the good report given of Timothy by the brethren (Ac 16:2), may have induced Paul to take him as his companion. Compare similar prophecies as to others: Ac 13:1-3, in connection with laying on of hands; Ac 11:28; 21:10, 11; compare 1Co 12:10; 14:1; Eph 4:11. In Ac 20:28, it is expressly said that “the Holy Ghost had made them (the Ephesian presbyters) overseers.” Clement of Rome [Epistle to the Corinthians], states it was the custom of the apostles “to make trial by the Spirit,” that is, by the “power of discerning,” in order to determine who were to be overseers and deacons in the several churches planted. So Clement of Alexandria says as to the churches near Ephesus, that the overseers were marked out for ordination by a revelation of the Holy Ghost to St. John.

by them–Greek, “in them”; arrayed as it were in them; armed with them.

warfare–not the mere “fight” (1Ti 6:12; 2Ti 4:7), but the whole campaign; the military service. Translate as Greek, not “a,” but “the good warfare.”

19. Holding–Keeping hold of “faith” and “good conscience” (1Ti 1:5); not “putting the latter away” as “some.” Faith is like a very precious liquor; a good conscience is the clean, pure glass that contains it [Bengel]. The loss of good conscience entails the shipwreck of faith. Consciousness of sin (unrepented of and forgiven) kills the germ of faith in man [Wiesinger].

which–Greek singular, namely, “good conscience,” not “faith” also; however, the result of putting away good conscience is, one loses faith also.

put away–a wilful act. They thrust it from them as a troublesome monitor. It reluctantly withdraws, extruded by force, when its owner is tired of its importunity, and is resolved to retain his sin at the cost of losing it. One cannot be on friendly terms with it and with sin at one and the same time.

made shipwreck–“with respect to THE faith.” Faith is the vessel in which they had professedly embarked, of which “good conscience” is the anchor. The ancient Church often used this image, comparing the course of faith to navigation. The Greek does not imply that one having once had faith makes shipwreck of it, but that they who put away good conscience “make shipwreck with respect to THE faith.”

20. Hymenaeus–There is no difficulty in supposing him to be the Hymenæus of 2Ti 2:17. Though “delivered over to Satan” (the lord of all outside the Church, Ac 26:18, and the executor of wrath, when judicially allowed by God, on the disobedient, 1Co 5:5; 2Co 12:7), he probably was restored to the Church subsequently, and again troubled it. Paul, as an apostle, though distant at Rome pronounced the sentence to be executed at Ephesus, involving, probably, the excommunication of the offenders (Mt 18:17, 18). The sentence operated not only spiritually, but also physically, sickness, or some such visitation of God, falling on the person excommunicated, in order to bring him to repentance and salvation. Alexander here is probably “the coppersmith” who did Paul “much evil” when the latter visited Ephesus. The “delivering him to Satan” was probably the consequence of his withstanding the apostle (2Ti 4:14, 15); as the same sentence on Hymenæus was the consequence of “saying that the resurrection is past already” (2Ti 2:18; his putting away good conscience, naturally producing shipwreck concerning FAITH, 1Ti 1:19. If one’s religion better not his morals, his moral deficiencies will corrupt his religion. The rain which falls pure from heaven will not continue pure if it be received in an unclean vessel [Archbishop Whately]). It is possible that he is the Alexander, then a Jew, put forward by the Jews, doubtless against Paul, at the riot in Ephesus (Ac 19:33).

that they may–not “might”; implying that the effect still continues–the sentence is as yet unremoved.

learn–Greek, “be disciplined,” namely, by chastisement and suffering.

blaspheme–the name of God and Christ, by doings and teachings unworthy of their Christian profession (Ro 2:23, 24; Jas 2:7). Though the apostles had the power of excommunication, accompanied with bodily inflictions, miraculously sent (2Co 10:8), it does not follow that fallible ministers now have any power, save that of excluding from church fellowship notorious bad livers.



1Ti 2:1-15. Public Worship. Direction as to Intercessions for All Men, since Christ Is a Ransom for All. The Duties of Men and Women Respectively in Respect to Public Prayer. Woman’s Subjection; Her Sphere of Duty.

1. therefore–taking up again the general subject of the Epistle in continuation (2Ti 2:1). “What I have therefore to say to thee by way of a charge (1Ti 1:3, 18), is,” &c.

that, first of all … be made–Alford takes it, “I exhort first of all to make.” “First of all,” doubtless, is to be connected with “I exhort”; what I begin with (for special reasons), is … As the destruction of Jerusalem drew near, the Jews (including those at Ephesus) were seized with the dream of freedom from every yoke; and so virtually “‘blasphemed” (compare 1Ti 1:20) God’s name by “speaking evil of dignities” (1Ti 6:1; 2Pe 2:10; Jude 8). Hence Paul, in opposition, gives prominence to the injunction that prayer be made for all men, especially for magistrates and kings (Tit 3:1-3) [Olshausen]. Some professing Christians looked down on all not Christians, as doomed to perdition; but Paul says all men are to be prayed for, as Christ died for all (1Ti 2:4-6).

supplications–a term implying the suppliant’s sense of need, and of his own insufficiency.

prayers–implying devotion.

intercessions–properly the coming near to God with childlike confidence, generally in behalf of another. The accumulation of terms implies prayer in its every form and aspect, according to all the relations implied in it.

2. For kings–an effectual confutation of the adversaries who accused the Christians of disaffection to the ruling powers (Ac 17:7; Ro 13:1-7).

all … in authority–literally, “in eminence”; in stations of eminence. The “quiet” of Christians was often more dependent on subordinate rulers, than on the supreme king; hence, “all … in authority” are to be prayed for.

that we may lead–that we may be blessed with such good government as to lead … ; or rather, as Greek, “to pass” or “spend.” The prayers of Christians for the government bring down from heaven peace and order in a state.

quiet–not troubled from without.

peaceable–“tranquil”; not troubled from within [Olshausen]. “He is peaceable (Greek) who makes no disturbance; he is quiet (Greek) who is himself free from disturbance” [Tittmann].

in all godliness–“in all (possible … requisite) piety” [Alford]. A distinct Greek word, 1Ti 2:10, expresses “godliness.”

honesty–Greek, “gravity” (Tit 2:2, 7), “decorum,” or propriety of conduct. As “piety” is in relation to God, “gravity” is propriety of behavior among men. In the Old Testament the Jews were commanded to pray for their heathen rulers (Ezr 6:10; Jer 29:7). The Jews, by Augustus’ order, offered a lamb daily for the Roman emperor, till near the destruction of Jerusalem. The Jewish Zealots, instigated by Eleazar, caused this custom to cease [Josephus, Wars of the Jews, 2.17], whence the war originated, according to Josephus.

3. this–praying for all men.

in the sight of God–not merely before men, as if it were their favor that we sought (2Co 8:21).

our Saviour–a title appropriate to the matter in hand. He who is “our Saviour” is willing that all should be saved (1Ti 2:4; Ro 5:18); therefore we should meet the will of God in behalf of others, by praying for the salvation of all men. More would be converted if we would pray more. He has actually saved us who believe, being “our Saviour.” He is willing that all should be saved, even those who do not as yet believe, if they will believe (compare 1Ti 4:10; Tit 2:11).

4. “Imitate God.” Since He wishes that all should be saved, do you also wish it; and if you wish it, pray for it. For prayer is the instrument of effecting such things [Chrysostom]. Paul does not say, “He wishes to save all”; for then he would have saved all in matter of fact; but “will have all men to be saved,” implies the possibility of man’s accepting it (through God’s prevenient grace) or rejecting it (through man’s own perversity). Our prayers ought to include all, as God’s grace included all.

to come–They are not forced.

unto the knowledge–Greek, “the full knowledge” or “recognition” (See on 1Co 13:12; Php 1:9).

the truth–the saving truth as it is in, and by, Jesus (Joh 17:3, 17).

5. For there is one God–God’s unity in essence and purpose is a proof of His comprehending all His human children alike (created in His image) in His offer of grace (compare the same argument from His unity, Ro 3:30; Ga 3:20); therefore all are to be prayed for. 1Ti 2:4 is proved from 1Ti 2:5; 1Ti 2:1, from 1Ti 2:4. The one God is common to all (Isa 45:22; Ac 17:26). The one Mediator is mediator between God and all men potentially (Ro 3:29; Eph 4:5, 6; Heb 8:6; 9:15; 12:24). They who have not this one God by one Mediator, have none: literally, a “go-between.” The Greek order is not “and one mediator,” but “one mediator also between … While God will have all men to be saved by knowing God and the Mediator, there is a legitimate, holy order in the exercise of that will wherewith men ought to receive it. All mankind constitute, as it were, ONE MAN before God [Bengel].

the man–rather “man,” absolutely and genetically: not a mere individual man: the Second Head of humanity, representing and embodying in Himself the whole human race and nature. There is no “the” in the Greek. This epithet is thus the strongest corroboration of his argument, namely, that Christ’s mediation affects the whole race, since there is but the one Mediator, designed as the Representative Man for all men alike (compare Ro 5:15; 1Co 8:6; 2Co 5:19; Col 2:14). His being “man” was necessary to His being a Mediator, sympathizing with us through experimental knowledge of our nature (Isa 50:4; Heb 2:14; 4:15). Even in nature, almost all blessings are conveyed to us from God, not immediately, but through the mediation of various agents. The effectual intercession of Moses for Israel (Nu 14:13-19, and De 9:1-29); of Abraham for Abimelech (Ge 20:7); of Job for his friends (Job 42:10), the mediation being PRESCRIBED by God while declaring His purposes of forgiveness: all prefigure the grand mediation for all by the one Mediator. On the other hand, 1Ti 3:16 asserts that He was also God.

6. gave himself–(Tit 2:14). Not only the Father gave Him for us (Joh 3:16); but the Son gave Himself (Php 2:5-8).

ransom–properly of a captive slave. Man was the captive slave of Satan, sold under sin. He was unable to ransom himself, because absolute obedience is due to God, and therefore no act of ours can satisfy for the least offense. Le 25:48 allowed one sold captive to be redeemed by one of his brethren. The Son of God, therefore, became man in order that, being made like unto us in all things, sin only excepted, as our elder brother He should redeem us (Mt 20:28; Eph 1:7; 1Pe 1:18, 19). The Greek implies not merely ransom, but a substituted or equivalent ransom: the Greek preposition, “anti,” implying reciprocity and vicarious substitution.

for all–Greek, “in behalf of all”: not merely for a privileged few; compare 1Ti 2:1: the argument for praying in behalf of all is given here.

to be testified–Greek, “the testimony (that which was to be testified of, 1Jo 5:8-11) in its own due times,” or seasons, that is, in the times appointed by God for its being testified of (1Ti 6:15; Tit 1:3). The oneness of the Mediator, involving the universality of redemption (which faith, however, alone appropriates), was the great subject of Christian testimony [Alford] (1Co 1:6; 2:1; 2Th 1:10).

7. Whereunto–For the giving of which testimony.

I am ordained–literally, “I was set”: the same Greek, as “putting me,” &c. (1Ti 1:12).

preacher–literally, “herald” (1Co 1:21; 9:27; 15:11; 2Ti 1:11; Tit 1:3). He recurs to himself, as in 1Ti 1:16, in himself a living pattern or announcement of the Gospel, so here “a herald and teacher of (it to) the Gentiles” (Ga 2:9; Eph 3:1-12; Col 1:23). The universality of his commission is an appropriate assertion here, where he is arguing to prove that prayers are to be made “for all men” (1Ti 2:1).

I speak the truth … and lie not–a strong asseveration of his universal commission, characteristic of the ardor of the apostle, exposed to frequent conflict (Ro 11:1; 2Co 11:13).

in faith and verity–rather, “in the faith and the truth.” The sphere in which his ministry was appointed to be exercised was the faith and the truth (1Ti 2:4): the Gospel truth, the subject matter of the faith [Wiesinger].

8. I will–The active wish, or desire, is meant.

that men–rather as Greek, “that the men,” as distinguished from “the women,” to whom he has something different to say from what he said to the men (1Ti 2:9-12; 1Co 11:14, 15; 14:34, 35). The emphasis, however, is not on this, but on the precept of praying, resumed from 1Ti 2:1.

everywhere–Greek, “in every place,” namely, of public prayer. Fulfilling Mal 1:11, “In every place … from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same … incense shall be offered unto My name”; and Jesus’ words, Mt 18:20; Joh 4:21, 23.

lifting up holy hands–The early Christians turned up their palms towards heaven, as those craving help do. So also Solomon (1Ki 8:22; Ps 141:2). The Jews washed their hands before prayer (Ps 26:6). Paul figuratively (compare Job 17:9; Jas 4:8) uses language alluding to this custom here: so Isa 1:15, 16. The Greek for “holy” means hands which have committed no impiety, and observed every sacred duty. This (or at least the contrite desire to be so) is a needful qualification for effectual prayer (Ps 24:3, 4).

without wrath–putting it away (Mt 5:23, 24; 6:15).

doubting–rather, “disputing,” as the Greek is translated in Php 2:14. Such things hinder prayer (Lu 9:46; Ro 14:1; 1Pe 3:7). Bengel supports English Version (compare an instance, 2Ki 7:2; Mt 14:31; Mr 11:22-24; Jas 1:6).

9, 10. The context requires that we understand these directions as to women, in relation to their deportment in public worship, though the rules will hold good on other occasions also.

in modest apparel–“in seemly guise” [Ellicott]. The adjective means properly. orderly, decorous, becoming; the noun in secular writings means conduct, bearing. But here “apparel.” Women are apt to love fine dress; and at Ephesus the riches of some (1Ti 6:17) would lead them to dress luxuriously. The Greek in Tit 2:3 is a more general term meaning “deportment.”

shamefacedness–Trench spells this word according to its true derivation, “shamefastness” (that which is made fast by an honorable shame); as “steadfastness” (compare 1Ti 2:11, 12).

sobriety–“self-restraint” [Alford]. Habitual inner self-government [Trench]. I prefer Ellicott’s translation, “sober-mindedness”: the well-balanced state of mind arising from habitual self-restraint.

with–Greek, “in.”

braided hair–literally, “plaits,” that is, plaited hair: probably with the “gold and pearls” intertwined (1Pe 3:3). Such gaud is characteristic of the spiritual harlot (Re 17:4).

10. professing–Greek, “promising”: engaging to follow.

with good works–The Greek preposition is not the same as in 1Ti 2:9; “by means of,” or “through good works.” Their adorning is to be effected by means of good works: not that they are to be clothed in, or with, them (Eph 2:10). Works, not words in public, is their province (1Ti 2:8, 11, 12; 1Pe 3:1). Works are often mentioned in the Pastoral Epistles in order to oppose the loose living, combined with the loose doctrine, of the false teachers. The discharge of everyday duties is honored with the designation, “good works.”

11. learn–not “teach” (1Ti 2:12; 1Co 14:34). She should not even put questions in the public assembly (1Co 14:35).

with all subjection–not “usurping authority” (1Ti 2:12). She might teach, but not in public (Ac 18:26). Paul probably wrote this Epistle from Corinth, where the precept (1Co 14:34) was in force.

12. usurp authority–“to lord it over the man” [Alford], literally, “to be an autocrat.”

13. For–reason of the precept; the original order of creation.

Adam … first–before Eve, who was created for him (1Co 11:8, 9).

14. Adam was not deceived–as Eve was deceived by the serpent; but was persuaded by his wife. Ge 3:17, “hearkened unto … voice of … wife.” But in Ge 3:13, Eve says, “The serpent beguiled me.” Being more easily deceived, she more easily deceives [Bengel], (2Co 11:3). Last in being, she was first in sin–indeed, she alone was deceived. The subtle serpent knew that she was “the weaker vessel” (1Pe 3:7). He therefore tempted her, not Adam. She yielded to the temptations of sense and the deceits of Satan; he, to conjugal love. Hence, in the order of God’s judicial sentence, the serpent, the prime offender, stands first; the woman, who was deceived, next; and the man, persuaded by his wife, last (Ge 3:14-19). In Ro 5:12, Adam is represented as the first transgressor; but there no reference is made to Eve, and Adam is regarded as the head of the sinning race. Hence, as here, 1Ti 2:11, in Ge 3:16, woman’s “subjection” is represented as the consequence of her being deceived.

being deceived–The oldest manuscripts read the compound Greek verb for the simple, “Having been seduced by deceit”: implying how completely Satan succeeded in deceiving her.

was in the transgression–Greek, “came to be in the transgression”: became involved in the existing state of transgression, literally, “the going beyond a command”; breach of a positive precept (Ro 4:15).

15. be saved in childbearing–Greek, “in (literally, ‘through’) (her, literally, ‘the’) child-bearing.” Through, or by, is often so used to express not the means of her salvation, but the circumstances AMIDST which it has place. Thus 1Co 3:15, “He … shall be saved: yet so as by (literally, ‘through,’ that is, amidst) fire”: in spite of the fiery ordeal which he has necessarily to pass through, he shall be saved. So here, “In spite of the trial of childbearing which she passes through (as her portion of the curse, Ge 3:16, ‘in sorrow shalt thou bring forth children’), she shall be saved.” Moreover, I think it is implied indirectly that the very curse will be turned into a condition favorable to her salvation, by her faithfully performing her part in doing and suffering what God has assigned to her, namely, child-bearing and home duties, her sphere, as distinguished from public teaching, which is not hers, but man’s (1Ti 2:11, 12). In this home sphere, not ordinarily in one of active duty for advancing the kingdom of God, which contradicts the position assigned to her by God, she will be saved on the same terms as all others, namely, by living faith. Some think that there is a reference to the Incarnation “through THE child-bearing” (Greek), the bearing of the child Jesus. Doubtless this is the ground of women’s child-bearing in general becoming to them a blessing, instead of a curse; just as in the original prophecy (Ge 3:15, 16) the promise of “the Seed of the woman” (the Saviour) stands in closest connection with the woman’s being doomed to “sorrow” in “bringing forth children,” her very child-bearing, though in sorrow, being the function assigned to her by God whereby the Saviour was born. This may be an ulterior reference of the Holy Spirit in this verse; but the primary reference required by the context is the one above given. “She shall be saved ([though] with childbearing),” that is, though suffering her part of the primeval curse in childbearing; just as a man shall be saved, though having to bear his part, namely, the sweat of the brow.

if they, &c.–“if the women (plural, taken out of ‘the woman,’ 1Ti 2:14, which is put for the whole sex) continue,” or more literally, “shall (be found at the judgment to) have continued.”

faith and charity–the essential way to salvation (1Ti 1:5). Faith is in relation to God. Charity, to our fellow man. Sobriety, to one’s self.

sobriety–“sober-mindedness” (see on 1Ti 2:9, as contrasted with the unseemly forwardness reproved in 1Ti 2:11). Mental receptivity and activity in family life were recognized in Christianity as the destiny of woman. One reason alleged here by Paul, is the greater danger of self-deception in the weaker sex, and the spread of errors arising from it, especially in a class of addresses in which sober reflectiveness is least in exercise [Neander]. The case (Ac 21:9) was doubtless in private, not in public.



1Ti 3:1-16. Rules as to Bishops (Overseers) AND Deacons. The Church, and the Gospel Mystery Now Revealed to It, Are the End of All Such Rules.

1. Translate as Greek, “Faithful is the saying.” A needful preface to what follows: for the office of a bishop or overseer in Paul’s day, attended as it was with hardship and often persecution, would not seem to the world generally a desirable and “good work.”

desire–literally, “stretch one’s self forward to grasp”; “aim at”: a distinct Greek verb from that for “desireth.” What one does voluntarily is more esteemed than what he does when asked (1Co 16:15). This is utterly distinct from ambitious desires after office in the Church. (Jas 3:1).

bishop–overseer: as yet identical with “presbyter” (Ac 20:17, 28; Tit 1:5-7).

good work–literally, “honorable work.” Not the honor associated with it, but the work, is the prominent thought (Ac 15:38; Php 2:30; compare 2Ti 4:5). He who aims at the office must remember the high qualifications needed for the due discharge of its functions.

2. The existence of Church organization and presbyters at Ephesus is presupposed (1Ti 5:17, 19). The institution of Church widows (1Ti 5:3-25) accords with this. The directions here to Timothy, the president or apostolic delegate, are as to filling up vacancies among the bishops and deacons, or adding to their number. New churches in the neighborhood also would require presbyters and deacons. Episcopacy was adopted in apostolic times as the most expedient form of government, being most nearly in accordance with Jewish institutions, and so offering the less obstruction through Jewish prejudices to the progress of Christianity. The synagogue was governed by presbyters, “elders” (Ac 4:8; 24:1), called also bishops or overseers. Three among them presided as “rulers of the synagogue,” answering to “bishops” in the modern sense [Lightfoot, Hebrew and Talmudic Exercitations], and one among them took the lead. Ambrose (in The Duties of the Clergy [2.13], as also Bingham [Ecclesiastical Antiquities, 2.11]) says, “They who are now called bishops were originally called apostles. But those who ruled the Church after the death of the apostles had not the testimony of miracles, and were in many respects inferior. Therefore they thought it not decent to assume to themselves the name of apostles; but dividing the names, they left to presbyters the name of the presbytery, and they themselves were called bishops.” “Presbyter” refers to the rank; “bishop,” to the office or function. Timothy (though not having the name) exercised the power at Ephesus then, which bishops in the modern sense more recently exercised.

blameless–“unexceptionable”; giving no just handle for blame.

husband of one wife–confuting the celibacy of Rome’s priesthood. Though the Jews practiced polygamy, yet as he is writing as to a Gentile Church, and as polygamy was never allowed among even laymen in the Church, the ancient interpretation that the prohibition here is against polygamy in a candidate bishop is not correct. It must, therefore, mean that, though laymen might lawfully marry again, candidates for the episcopate or presbytery were better to have been married only once. As in 1Ti 5:9, “wife of one man,” implies a woman married but once; so “husband of one wife” here must mean the same. The feeling which prevailed among the Gentiles, as well as the Jews (compare as to Anna, Lu 2:36, 37), against a second marriage would, on the ground of expediency and conciliation in matters indifferent and not involving compromise of principle, account for Paul’s prohibition here in the case of one in so prominent a sphere as a bishop or a deacon. Hence the stress that is laid in the context on the repute in which the candidate for orders is held among those over whom he is to preside (Tit 1:16). The Council of Laodicea and the apostolic canons discountenanced second marriages, especially in the case of candidates for ordination. Of course second marriage being lawful, the undesirableness of it holds good only under special circumstances. It is implied here also, that he who has a wife and virtuous family, is to be preferred to a bachelor; for he who is himself bound to discharge the domestic duties mentioned here, is likely to be more attractive to those who have similar ties, for he teaches them not only by precept, but also by example (1Ti 3:4, 5). The Jews teach, a priest should be neither unmarried nor childless, lest he be unmerciful [Bengel]. So in the synagogue, “no one shall offer up prayer in public, unless he be married” [in Colbo, ch. 65; Vitringa, Synagogue and Temple].

vigilant–literally, “sober”; ever on the watch, as sober men alone can be; keenly alive, so as to foresee what ought to be done (1Th 5:6-8).


of good behaviour–Greek, “orderly.” “Sober” refers to the inward mind; “orderly,” to the outward behavior, tone, look, gait, dress. The new man bears somewhat of a sacred festival character, incompatible with all confusion, disorder, excess, violence, laxity, assumption, harshness, and meanness (Php 4:8) [Bengel].

apt to teach–(2Ti 2:24).

3. Not given to wine–The Greek includes besides this, not indulging in the brawling, violent conduct towards others, which proceeds from being given to wine. The opposite of “patient” or (Greek) “forbearing,” reasonable to others (see on Php 4:5).

no striker–with either hand or tongue: not as some teachers pretending a holy zeal (2Co 11:20), answering to “not a brawler” or fighter (compare 1Ki 22:24; Ne 13:25; Isa 58:4; Ac 23:2; 2Ti 2:24, 25).

not covetous–Greek, “not a lover of money,” whether he have much or little (Tit 1:7).

4. ruleth–Greek, “presiding over.”

his own house–children and servants, as contrasted with “the church” (house) of God (1Ti 3:5, 15) which he may be called on to preside over.

having his children–rather as Greek, “having children (who are) in subjection” (Tit 1:6).

gravity–propriety: reverent modesty on the part of the children [Alford]. The fact that he has children who are in subjection to him in all gravity, is the recommendation in his favor as one likely to rule well the Church.

5. For–Greek, “But.”

the church–rather, “a church” or congregation. How shall he who cannot perform the lesser function, perform the greater and more difficult?

6. not a novice–one just converted. This proves the Church of Ephesus was established now for some time. The absence of this rule in the Epistle to Titus, accords with the recent planting of the Church at Crete. Greek, “neophyte,” literally, “a young plant”; luxuriantly verdant (Ro 6:5; 11:17; 1Co 3:6). The young convert has not yet been disciplined and matured by afflictions and temptations. Contrast Ac 21:16, “an old disciple.”

lifted up with pride–Greek, literally, “wrapt in smoke,” so that, inflated with self-conceit and exaggerated ideas of his own importance, he cannot see himself or others in the true light (1Ti 6:4; 2Ti 3:4).

condemnation of the devil–into the same condemnation as Satan fell into (1Ti 3:7; 2Ti 2:26). Pride was the cause of Satan’s condemnation (Job 38:15; Isa 14:12-15; Joh 12:31; 16:11; 2Pe 2:4; Jude 6). It cannot mean condemnation or accusation on the part of the devil. The devil may bring a reproach on men (1Ti 3:7), but he cannot bring them into condemnation, for he does not judge, but is judged [Bengel].

7. a good report–Greek, “testimony.” So Paul was influenced by the good report given of Timothy to choose him as his companion (Ac 16:2).

of them which are without–from the as yet unconverted Gentiles around (1Co 5:12; Col 4:5; 1Th 4:12), that they may be the more readily won to the Gospel (1Pe 2:12), and that the name of Christ may be glorified. Not even the former life of a bishop should be open to reproach [Bengel].

reproach and the snare of the devil–reproach of men (1Ti 5:14) proving the occasion of his falling into the snare of the devil (1Ti 6:9; Mt 22:15; 2Ti 2:26). The reproach continually surrounding him for former sins might lead him into the snare of becoming as bad as his reputation. Despair of recovering reputation might, in a weak moment, lead some into recklessness of living (Jer 18:12). The reason why only moral qualities of a general kind are specified is, he presupposes in candidates for a bishopric the special gifts of the Spirit (1Ti 4:14) and true faith, which he desires to be evidenced outwardly; also he requires qualifications in a bishop not so indispensable in others.

8. The deacons were chosen by the voice of the people. Cyprian [Epistle, 2.5] says that good bishops never departed from the old custom of consulting the people. The deacons answer to the chazzan of the synagogue: the attendant ministers, or subordinate coadjutors of the presbyter (as Timothy himself was to Paul, 1Ti 4:6; Phm 13; and John Mark, Ac 13:5). Their duty was to read the Scriptures in the Church, to instruct the catechumens in Christian truths, to assist the presbyters at the sacraments, to receive oblations, and to preach and instruct. As the “chazzan” covered and uncovered the ark in the synagogue, containing the law, so the deacon in the ancient Church put the covering on the communion table. (See Chrysostom [19], Homily on Acts; Theophylact on Luke 19; and Balsaman on Canon 22, Council of Laodicea). The appointing of “the seven” in Ac 6:1-7 is perhaps not meant to describe the first appointment of the deacons of the Church. At least the chazzan previously suggested the similar order of deacons.

double-tongued–literally, “of double speech”; saying one thing to this person, and another to that person [Theodoret]. The extensive personal intercourse that deacons would have with the members of the Church might prove a temptation to such a fault. Others explain it, “Saying one thing, thinking another” (Pr 20:19; Ga 2:13). I prefer the former.

not greedy of filthy lucre–All gain is filthy (literally, “base”) which is set before a man as a by-end in his work for God [Alford] (1Pe 5:2). The deacon’s office of collecting and distributing alms would render this a necessary qualification.

9. the mystery of the faith–holding the faith, which to the natural man remains a mystery, but which has been revealed by the Spirit to them (Ro 16:25; 1Co 2:7-10), in a pure conscience (1Ti 1:5, 19). (“Pure,” that is, in which nothing base or foreign is intermixed [Tittmann]). Though deacons were not ordinarily called on to preach (Stephen and Philip are not exceptions to this, since it was as evangelists, rather than as deacons, they preached), yet as being office-bearers in the Church, and having much intercourse with all the members, they especially needed to have this characteristic, which every Christian ought to have.

10. “And moreover,” &c. [Alford].

be proved–not by a period of probation, but by a searching inquiry, conducted by Timothy, the ordaining president (1Ti 5:22), whether they be “blameless”; then when found so, “let them act as deacons.”

blameless–Greek, “unexceptionable”; as the result of public investigation unaccused [Tittmann].

11. their wives–rather, “the women,” that is, the deaconesses. For there is no reason that special rules should be laid down as to the wives of the deacons, and not also as to the wives of the bishops or overseers. Moreover, if the wives of the deacons were meant, there seems no reason for the omission of “their” (not in the Greek). Also the Greek for “even so” (the same as for “likewise,” 1Ti 3:8, and “in like manner,” 1Ti 2:9), denotes a transition to another class of persons. Further, there were doubtless deaconesses at Ephesus, such as Phoebe was at Cenchrea (Ro 16:1, “servant,” Greek, “deaconess”), yet no mention is made of them in this Epistle if not here; whereas, supposing them to be meant here, the third chapter embraces in due proportion all the persons in the service of the Church. Naturally after specifying the qualifications of the deacon, Paul passes to those of the kindred office, the deaconess. “Grave” occurs in the case of both. “Not slanderers” here, answers to “not double-tongued” in the deacons; so “not false accusers” (Tit 2:3). “Sober” here answers to “not given to much wine,” in the case of the deacons (1Ti 3:8). Thus it appears he requires the same qualifications in female deacons as in deacons, only with such modifications as the difference of sex suggested. Pliny, in his celebrated letter to Trajan, calls them “female ministers.”

faithful in all things–of life as well as faith. Trustworthy in respect to the alms committed to them and their other functions, answering to “not greedy of filthy lucre,” 1Ti 3:8, in the case of the deacons.

12. husbands of one wife–(See on 1Ti 3:2).

ruling their children–There is no article in the Greek, “ruling children”; implying that he regarded the having children to rule as a qualification (1Ti 3:4; Tit 1:6).

their own houses–as distinguished from “the Church of God” (see on 1Ti 3:5). In the case of the deacons, as in that of the bishops, he mentions the first condition of receiving office, rather than the special qualifications for its discharge. The practical side of Christianity is the one most dwelt on in the Pastoral Epistles, in opposition to the heretical teachers; moreover, as the miraculous gifts began to be withdrawn, the safest criterion of efficiency would be the previous moral character of the candidate, the disposition and talent for the office being presupposed. So in Ac 6:3, a similar criterion was applied, “Look ye out among you seven men of honest report.” Less stress is laid on personal dignity in the case of the deacon than in that of the bishop (compare Notes, see on 1Ti 3:2,3).

13. purchase to themselves a good degree–literally, “are acquiring … a … step.” Understood by many as “a higher step,” that is, promotion to the higher office of presbyter. But ambition of rising seems hardly the motive to faithfulness which the apostle would urge; besides, it would require the comparative, “a better degree.” Then the past aorist participle, “they that used the office of deacon well,” implies that the present verb, “are acquiring to themselves boldness,” is the result of the completed action of using the diaconate well. Also, Paul would not probably hold out to every deacon the prospect of promotion to the presbytery in reward of his service. The idea of moving upwards in Church offices was as yet unknown (compare Ro 12:7, &c.; 1Co 12:4-11). Moreover, there seems little connection between reference to a higher Church rank and the words “great boldness.” Therefore, what those who have faithfully discharged the diaconate acquire for themselves is “a good standing-place” [Alford] (a well-grounded hope of salvation) against the day of judgment, 1Ti 6:19; 1Co 3:13, 14 (the figurative meaning of “degree” or “step,” being the degree of worth which one has obtained in the eye of God [Wiesinger]); and boldness (resting on that standing-place”), as well for preaching and admonishing others now (Eph 6:19; a firm standing forth for the truth against error), as also especially in relation to God their coming Judge, before whom they may be boldly confident (Ac 24:16; 1Jo 2:28; 3:21; 4:17; Heb 4:16).

in the faith–rather as Greek, “in faith,” that is, boldness resting on their own faith.

which is in Christ Jesus–resting in Christ Jesus.

14. write I … hoping–that is, “though I hope to come unto thee shortly” (1Ti 4:13). As his hope was not very confident (1Ti 3:15), he provides for Timothy’s lengthened superintendence by giving him the preceding rules to guide him. He now proceeds to give more general instructions to him as an evangelist, having a “gift” committed to him (1Ti 4:14).

shortly–Greek, “sooner,” namely, than is presupposed in the preceding directions given to him. See my Introduction on this verse. This verse best suits the theory that this First Epistle was not written after Paul’s visit and departure from Ephesus (Ac 19:1-20:38) when he had resolved to winter at Corinth after passing the summer in Macedonia (1Co 16:6), but after his first imprisonment at Rome (Ac 28:17-31); probably at Corinth, where he might have some thoughts of going on to Epirus before returning to Ephesus [Birks].

15. But if I tarry long–before coming to thee.

that–that is, I write (1Ti 3:14) “that thou mayest know,” &c.

behave thyself–in directing the Church at Ephesus (1Ti 4:11).

the house of God–the Church (Heb 3:2, 5, 6; 10:21; 1Pe 4:17; 1Co 3:16, “the temple of God”; Eph 2:22).

which is–that is, inasmuch as it is.

the church–“the congregation.” The fact that the sphere of thy functions is “the congregation of the living God” (who is the ever living Master of the house, 2Ti 2:19, 20, 21), is the strongest motive to faithfulness in this behavior as president of a department of the house.” The living God forms a striking contrast to the lifeless idol, Diana of Ephesus (1Th 1:9). He is the fountain of “truth,” and the foundation of our “trust” (1Ti 4:10). Labor directed to a particular Church is service to the one great house of God, of which each particular Church is a part, and each Christian a lively stone (1Pe 2:5).

the pillar and ground of the truth–evidently predicated of the Church, not of “the mystery of godliness” (an interpretation not started till the sixteenth century; so Bengel); for after two weighty predicates, “pillar and ground,” and these substantives, the third, a much weaker one, and that an adjective, “confessedly,” or “without controversy great,” would not come. “Pillar” is so used metaphorically of the three apostles on whom principally the Jewish Christian Church depended (Ga 2:9; compare Re 3:12). The Church is “the pillar of the truth,” as the continued existence (historically) of the truth rests on it; for it supports and preserves the word of truth. He who is of the truth belongs by the very fact to the Church. Christ is the alone ground of the truth in the highest sense (1Co 3:11). The apostles are foundations in a secondary sense (Eph 2:20; Re 21:14). The Church rests on the truth as it is in Christ; not the truth on the Church. But the truth as it is in itself is to be distinguished from the truth as it is acknowledged in the world. In the former sense it needs no pillar, but supports itself; in the latter sense, it needs the Church as its pillar, that is, its supporter and preserver [Baumgarten]. The importance of Timothy’s commission is set forth by reminding him of the excellence of “the house” in which he serves; and this in opposition to the coming heresies which Paul presciently forewarns him of immediately after (1Ti 4:1). The Church is to be the stay of the truth and its conserver for the world, and God’s instrument for securing its continuance on earth, in opposition to those heresies (Mt 16:18; 28:20). The apostle does not recognize a Church which has not the truth, or has it only in part. Rome falsely claims the promise for herself. But it is not historical descent that constitutes a Church, but this only, to those heresies (Mt 16:18; 28:20). The apostle does not recognize a Church which has not the intermediate; the “ground,” or “basement” (similar to “foundation,” 2Ti 2:19), the final support of the building [Alford]. It is no objection that, having called the Church before “the house of God,” he now calls it the “pillar”; for the literal word “Church” immediately precedes the new metaphors: so the Church, or congregation of believers, which before was regarded as the habitation of God, is now, from a different point of view, regarded as the pillar upholding the truth.

16. And–following up 1Ti 3:15: The pillar of the truth is the Church in which thou art required to minister; “AND (that thou mayest know how grand is that truth which the Church so upholds) confessedly (so the Greek for ‘without controversy’) great is the mystery of godliness: (namely), He who (so the oldest manuscripts and versions read for ‘God’) was manifested in (the) flesh (He who) was justified in the Spirit,” &c. There is set before us the whole dignity of Christ’s person. If He were not essentially superhuman (Tit 2:13), how could the apostle emphatically declare that He was manifested in (the) flesh? [Tregelles, Printed Text of the Greek New Testament]. (Joh 1:14; Php 2:7; 1Jo 1:2; 4:2). Christ, in all His aspects, is Himself “the mystery of godliness.” He who before was hidden “with God” was made manifest (Joh 1:1, 14; Ro 16:25, 26; Col 1:26; 2Ti 1:10; Tit 2:11; 3:4; 1Jo 3:5, 8). “Confessedly,” that is, by the universal confession of the members of “the Church,” which is in this respect the “pillar” or upholder “of the truth.”

the mystery–the divine scheme embodied in Christ (Col 1:27), once hidden from, but now revealed to, us who believe.

of godliness–rather, “piety”; a different Greek, expresses godliness (1Ti 2:10). In opposition to the ungodliness or impiety inseparable from error (departure from the faith: “doctrines of devils,” “profane fables,” 1Ti 4:1, 7; compare 1Ti 6:3). To the victims of such error, the “mystery of piety” (that is, Christ Himself) remains a mystery unrevealed (1Ti 4:2). It is accessible only to “piety” (1Ti 3:9): in relation to the pious it is termed a “mystery,” though revealed (1Co 2:7-14), to imply the excellence of Him who is the surpassing essential subject of it, and who is Himself “wonderful” (Isa 9:6), surpassing knowledge (Eph 3:18, 19); compare Eph 5:32. The apostle now proceeds to unfold this confessedly great mystery in its details. It is not unlikely that some formula of confession or hymn existed in the Church and was generally accepted, to which Paul alludes in the words “confessedly great is the mystery,” &c. (to wit), “He who was manifested,” &c. Such hymns were then used (compare Eph 5:19; Col 3:16). Pliny [1.10, Epistle, 97], “They are wont on a fixed day before dawn to meet and sing a hymn in alternate responses to Christ, as being God”; and Eusebius [Ecclesiastical History, 5.28]. The short unconnected sentences with the words similarly arranged, and the number of syllables almost equal, and the ideas antithetically related, are characteristics of a Christian hymn. The clauses stand in parallelism; each two are connected as a pair, and form an antithesis turning on the opposition of heaven to earth; the order of this antithesis is reversed in each new pair of clauses: flesh and spirit, angels and Gentiles, world and glory; and there is a correspondence between the first and the last clause: “manifested in the flesh, received up into glory” [Wiesinger].

justified–that is, approved to be righteous [Alford]. Christ, while “in the flesh,” seemed to be just such a one as men in the flesh, and in fact bore their sins; but by having died to sin, and having risen again, He gained for Himself and His people justifying righteousness (Isa 50:8; Joh 16:10; Ac 22:14; Ro 4:25; 6:7, 10; Heb 9:28; 1Pe 3:18; 4:1 1Jo 2:1) [Bengel]; or rather, as the antithesis to “was manifest in the flesh” requires, He was justified in the Spirit at the same time that He was manifest in the flesh, that is, He was vindicated as divine “in His Spirit,” that is, in His higher nature; in contrast to “in the flesh,” His visible human nature. This contrasted opposition requires “in the Spirit” to be thus explained: not “by the Spirit,” as Alford explains it. So Ro 1:3, 4, “Made of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.” So “justified” is used to mean vindicated in one’s true character (Mt 11:19; Lu 7:35; Ro 3:4). His manifestation “in the flesh” exposed him to misapprehension, as though he were nothing more (Joh 6:41; 7:27). His justification, or vindication, in respect to His Spirit or higher being, was effected by ALL that manifested that higher being, His words (Mt 7:29; Joh 7:46), His works (Joh 2:11; 3:2), by His Father’s testimony at His baptism (Mt 3:17), and at the transfiguration (Mt 17:5), and especially by His resurrection (Ac 13:33; Ro 1:4), though not by this exclusively, as Bengel limits it.

seen of angels–answering to “preached unto the Gentiles” (or rather “among the nations”; including the Jews), on the other hand (Mt 28:19; Ro 16:25, 26). “Angels saw the Son of God with us, not having seen Him before” [Chrysostom].’ “not even they had seen His divine nature, which is not visible to any creature, but they saw Him incarnate” [Theodoret] (Eph 3:8, 10; 1Pe 1:12; compare Col 1:16, 20). What angels came to know by seeing, the nations learned by preaching. He is a new message to the one class as well as to the other; in the wondrous union in His person of things most opposite, namely, heaven and earth, lies “the mystery” [Wiesinger]. If the English Version, “Gentiles,” be retained, the antithesis will be between the angels who are so near the Son of God, the Lord of “angels,” and the Gentiles who were so utterly “afar off” (Eph 2:17).

believed on in the world–which lieth in wickedness (1Jo 2:15; 5:19). Opposed to “glory” (Joh 3:16, 17). This followed upon His being “preached” (Ro 10:14).

received up into glory–Greek, “in glory.” However, English Version may be retained thus, “Received up (so as now to be) in glory,” that is, into glory (Mr 16:19; Lu 24:51; Ac 1:11). His reception in heaven answers to His reception on earth by being “believed on.”



1Ti 4:1-16. Prediction of a Coming Departure from the Faith: Timothy’s Duty as to It: General Directions to Him.

The “mystery of iniquity” here alluded to, and already working (2Th 2:7), stands opposed to the “mystery of godliness” just mentioned (1Ti 3:16).

1. Now–Greek, “But.” In contrast to the “mystery of godliness.”

the Spirit–speaking by the prophets in the Church (whose prophecies rested on those of the Old Testament, Da 7:25; 8:23, &c.; 11:30, as also on those of Jesus in the New Testament, Mt 24:11-24), and also by Paul himself, 2Th 2:3 (with whom accord 2Pe 3:3; 1Jo 2:18; Jude 18).

expressly–“in plain words.” This shows that he refers to prophecies of the Spirit then lying before him.

in the latter times–in the times following upon the times in which he is now writing. Not some remote future, but times immediately subsequent, the beginnings of the apostasy being already discernible (Ac 20:29): these are the forerunners of “the last days” (2Ti 3:1).

depart from the faith–The apostasy was to be within the Church, the faithful one becoming the harlot. In 2Th 2:3 (written earlier), the apostasy of the Jews from God (joining the heathen against Christianity) is the groundwork on which the prophecy rises; whereas here, in the Pastoral Epistles, the prophecy is connected with Gnostic errors, the seeds of which had already been sown in the Church [Auberlen] (2Ti 2:18). Apollonius Tyanæus, a heretic, came to Ephesus in the lifetime of Timothy.

giving heed–(1Ti 1:4; Tit 1:14).

seducing spirits–working in the heretical teachers. 1Jo 4:2, 3, 6, “the spirit of error,” opposed to “the spirit of truth,” “the Spirit” which “speaketh” in the true prophets against them.

doctrines of devils–literally “teachings of (that is suggested by) demons.” Jas 3:15, “wisdom … devilish”; 2Co 11:15, “Satan’s ministers.”

2. Rather translate, “Through (literally, ‘in’; the element in which the apostasy has place) the hypocrisy of lying speakers”; this expresses the means through which “some shall (be led to) depart from the faith,” namely, the reigned sanctity of the seducers (compare “deceivers,” Tit 1:10).

having their conscience seared–Greek, “having their own conscience,” &c., that is, not only “speaking lies” to others, but also having their own conscience seared. Professing to lead others to holiness, their own conscience is all the while defiled. Bad consciences always have recourse to hypocrisy. As faith and a good conscience are joined (1Ti 1:5); so hypocrisy (that is, unbelief, Mt 24:5, 51; compare Lu 12:46) and a bad conscience here. Theodoret explains like English Version, “seared,” as implying their extreme insensibility; the effect of cauterizing being to deaden sensation. The Greek, however, primarily means “branded” with the consciousness of crimes committed against their better knowledge and conscience, like so many scars burnt in by a branding iron: Compare Tit 1:15; 3:11, “condemned of himself.” They are conscious of the brand within, and yet with a hypocritical show of sanctity, they strive to seduce others. As “a seal” is used in a good sense (2Ti 2:19), so “a brand” in a bad sense. The image is taken from the branding of criminals.

3. Sensuality leads to false spiritualism. Their own inward impurity is reflected in their eyes in the world without them, and hence their asceticism (Tit 1:14, 15) [Wiesinger]. By a spurious spiritualism (2Ti 2:18), which made moral perfection consist in abstinence from outward things, they pretended to attain to a higher perfection. Mt 19:10-12 (compare 1Co 7:8, 26, 38) gave a seeming handle to their “forbidding marriage” (contrast 1Ti 5:14); and the Old Testament distinction as to clean and unclean, gave a pretext for teaching to “abstain from meats” (compare Col 2:16, 17, 20-23). As these Judaizing Gnostics combined the harlot or apostate Old Testament Church with the beast (Re 17:3), or Gnostic spiritualizing anti-Christianity, so Rome’s Judaizing elements (1Ti 4:3) shall ultimately be combined with the open worldly-wise anti-Christianity of the false prophet or beast (1Ti 6:20, 21; Col 2:8; 1Jo 4:1-3; Re 13:12-15). Austerity gained for them a show of sanctity while preaching false doctrine (Col 2:23). Eusebius [Ecclesiastical History, 4.29] quotes from Irenæus [1.28] a statement that Saturninus, Marcion, and the Encratites preached abstinence from marriage and animal meats. Paul prophetically warns against such notions, the seeds of which already were being sown (1Ti 6:20; 2Ti 2:17, 18).

to be received–Greek, “to be partaken of.”

of them–literally, (created and designed) “for them,” Though all (even the unbelieving, Ps 104:14; Mt 5:45) are partakers in these foods created by God, “they which believe” alone fulfil God’s design in creation by partaking of them with thanksgiving; as opposed to those who abstain from them, or in partaking of them, do not do so with thanksgiving. The unbelieving have not the designed use of such foods by reason of their “conscience being defiled” (Tit 1:15). The children of God alone “inherit the earth”; for obedience is the necessary qualification (as it was in the original grant of the earth to Adam), which they alone possess.

and know the truth–explanatory and defining who are “they which believe.” Translate as Greek, “and have full knowledge of the truth” (see on Php 1:9). Thus he contradicts the assumption of superior knowledge and higher moral perfection, put forward by the heretics, on the ground of their abstinence from marriage and meats. “The truth” stands in opposition to their “lies” (1Ti 4:2).

4, 5. Translate as Greek, “Because” (expressing a reason resting on an objective fact; or, as here, a Scripture quotation)–“For” (a reason resting on something subjective in the writer’s mind).

every creature … good–(Ge 1:31; Ro 14:14, 20). A refutation by anticipation of the Gnostic opposition to creation: the seeds of which were now lurking latently in the Church. Judaism (Ac 10:11-16; 1Co 10:25, 26) was the starting-point of the error as to meats: Oriental Gnosis added new elements. The old Gnostic heresy is now almost extinct; but its remains in the celibacy of Rome’s priesthood, and in its fasts from animal meats, enjoined under the penalty of mortal sin, remain.

if … with thanksgiving–Meats, though pure in themselves, become impure by being received with an unthankful mind (Ro 14:6; Tit 1:15).

5. sanctified–“hallowed”; set apart as holy for the use of believing men: separated from “the creature,” which is under the bondage of vanity and corruption (Ro 8:19, &c.). Just as in the Lord’s Supper, the thanksgiving prayer sanctifies the elements, separating them from their naturally alien position in relation to the spiritual world, and transferring them to their true relation to the new life. So in every use of the creature, thanksgiving prayer has the same effect, and ought always to be used (1Co 10:30, 31).

by the word of God and prayer–that is, “by means of intercessory prayer” (so the Greek)–that is, consecratory prayer in behalf of “the creature” or food–that prayer mainly consisting of “the word of God.” The Apostolic Constitutions [7.49], give this ancient grace, almost wholly consisting of Scripture, “Blessed art thou, O Lord, who feedest me from my youth, who givest food to all flesh: Fill our hearts with joy and gladness, that we, having all sufficiency, may abound unto every good work in Christ Jesus our Lord, through whom glory, honour, and might, be to thee for ever. Amen.” In the case of inspired men, “the word of God” would refer to their inspired prayers (1Ki 17:1); but as Paul speaks in general, including uninspired men’s thanksgiving for meals, the “word of God” more probably refers to the Scripture words used in thanksgiving prayers.

6. If thou put … in remembrance–rather as Greek, “If thou suggest to (bring under the notice of) the brethren,” &c.

these things–namely, the truths stated in 1Ti 4:4, 5, in opposition to the errors foretold, 1Ti 4:1-3.


nourished up–The Greek is present, not past: “continually being nourished in” (2Ti 1:5; 3:14, 15).

the words of faith–rather, “the words of the faith” (compare 1Ti 4:12).

good doctrine–“the good teaching.” Explanatory of “the faith,” in opposition to the “teachings of demons” (English Version, “doctrines of devils,” 1Ti 4:1) which Timothy was to counteract. Compare “sound doctrine” (1Ti 1:10; 6:3; Tit 1:9; 2:1).

whereunto thou hast attained–“the course of which thou hast followed”; hast followed along by tracing its course and accompanying it [Alford]. Thou hast begun to follow up [Bengel]. The same Greek occurs, “thou hast fully known” (2Ti 3:10), “having had perfect understanding” (Lu 1:3). It is an undesigned coincidence that the Greek verb is used only by Paul and Paul’s companion, Luke.

7. refuse–reject, avoid, have nothing to do with (2Ti 2:23; Tit 3:10).

old wives’ fables–anile myths (1Ti 1:4, 9; Tit 1:14). They are “profane,” because leading away from “godliness” or “piety” (1Ti 1:4-7; 6:20; 2Ti 2:16; Tit 1:1, 2).

exercise thyself–literally, “exercise thyself” as one undergoing training in a gymnasium. Let thy self-discipline be not in ascetical exercises as the false teachers (1Ti 4:3, 8; compare 2Ti 2:22, 23; Heb 5:14; 12:11), but with a view to godliness or “piety” (1Ti 6:11, 12).

8. profiteth little–Greek, “profiteth to (but) a small extent.” Paul does not deny that fasting and abstinence from conjugal intercourse for a time, with a view to reaching the inward man through the outward, do profit somewhat, Ac 13:3; 1Co 7:5, 7; 9:26, 27 (though in its degenerate form, asceticism, dwelling solely on what is outward, 1Ti 4:3, is not only not profitable but injurious). Timothy seems to have had a leaning to such outward self-discipline (compare 1Ti 5:23). Paul, therefore, while not disapproving of this in its due proportion and place, shows the vast superiority of godliness or piety, as being profitable not merely “to a small extent,” but unto all things; for, having its seat within, it extends thence to the whole outward life of a man. Not unto one portion only of his being, but to every portion of it, bodily and spiritual, temporal and eternal [Alford]. “He who has piety (which is ‘profitable unto all things’) wants nothing needed to his well-being, even though he be without those helps which, ‘to a small extent,’ bodily exercise furnishes” [Calvin]. “Piety,” which is the end for which thou art to “exercise thyself” (1Ti 4:7), is the essential thing: the means are secondary.

having promise, &c.–Translate as Greek, “Having promise of life, that which now is, and that which is to come.” “Life” in its truest and best sense now and hereafter (2Ti 1:1). Length of life now so far as it is really good for the believer; life in its truest enjoyments and employments now, and life blessed and eternal hereafter (Mt 6:33; Mr 10:29, 30). “Now in this time” (Ps 84:11; 112:1-10; Ro 8:28; 1Co 3:21, 22, “all things are yours … the world, life … things present, things to come”). Christianity, which seems to aim only at our happiness hereafter, effectually promotes it here (1Ti 6:6; 2Pe 1:3). Compare Solomon’s prayer and the answer (1Ki 3:7-13).

9. (1Ti 1:15). This verse (Greek), “faithful is the saying, ” &c. confirms the assertion as to the “promise” attached to “godliness,” 1Ti 4:8, and forms a prefatory introduction to 1Ti 4:10, which is joined to 1Ti 4:9 by “For.” So 2Ti 2:11. Godly men seem to suffer loss as to this life: Paul hereby refutes the notion [Bengel]. “God is the Saviour specially of those that believe” (1Ti 4:10), both as to “the life that now is,” and also as to “the life which is to come” (1Ti 4:8).

10. therefore–Greek, “with a view to this.” The reason why “we both (‘both’ is omitted in the oldest manuscripts) labor (endure hardship) and suffer reproach (some oldest manuscripts read ‘strive’) is because we have rested, and do rest our hope, on the living (and therefore, life-giving, 1Ti 4:8) God.”

Saviour–even in this life (1Ti 4:8).

specially of those that believe–Their “labor and reproach” are not inconsistent with their having from the living God, their Saviour, even the present life (Mr 10:30, “a hundred fold now in this time … with persecutions”), much more the life to come. If God is in a sense “Saviour” of unbelievers (1Ti 2:4, that is, is willing to be so everlastingly, and is temporally here their Preserver and Benefactor), much more of believers. He is the Saviour of all men potentially (1Ti 1:15); of believers alone effectually.

11. These truths, to the exclusion of those useless and even injurious teachings (1Ti 4:1-8), while weighing well thyself, charge also upon others.

12. Let no man despise thy youth–Act so as to be respected in spite of thy youth (1Co 16:11; Tit 2:15); compare “youthful” as to Timothy (2Ti 2:22). He was but a mere youth when he joined Paul (Ac 16:1-3). Eleven years had elapsed since then to the time subsequent to Paul’s first imprisonment. He was, therefore, still young; especially in comparison with Paul, whose place he was filling; also in relation to elderly presbyters whom he should “entreat as a father” (1Ti 5:1), and generally in respect to his duties in rebuking, exhorting, and ordaining (1Ti 3:1), which ordinarily accord best with an elderly person (1Ti 5:19).

be thou an example–Greek, “become a pattern” (Tit 2:7); the true way of making men not to despise (slight, or disregard) thy youth.

in word–in all that thou sayest in public and private.

conversation–that is, “behavior” the Old English sense of the word.

in charity … faith–the two cardinal principles of the Christian (Ga 5:6). The oldest manuscripts omit, “in spirit.”

in purity–simplicity of holy motive followed out in consistency of holy action [Alford] (1Ti 5:22; 2Co 6:6; Jas 3:17; 4:8; 1Pe 1:22).

13. Till I come–when Timothy’s commission would be superseded for the time by the presence of the apostle himself (1Ti 1:3; 3:14).

reading–especially in the public congregation. The practice of reading Scripture was transferred from the Jewish synagogue to the Christian Church (Lu 4:16-20; Ac 13:15; 15:21; 2Co 3:14). The New Testament Gospel and Epistles being recognized as inspired by those who had the gift of discerning spirits, were from the first, according as they were written, read along with the Old Testament in the Church (1Th 5:21, 27; Col 4:16), [Justin Martyr, Apology, 1.67]. I think that while public reading is the prominent thought, the Spirit intended also to teach that Scripture reading in private should be “the fountain of all wisdom from which pastors ought to draw whatever they bring before their flock” [Alford].

exhortation–addressed to the feelings and will with a view to the regulation of the conduct.

doctrine–Greek (ministerial), “teaching” or instruction. Addressed to the understanding, so as to impart knowledge (1Ti 6:2; Ro 12:7, 8). Whether in public or private, exhortation and instruction should be based on Scripture reading.

14. Neglect not the gift–by letting it lie unused. In 2Ti 1:6 the gift is represented as a spark of the Spirit lying within him, and sure to smoulder by neglect, the stirring up or keeping in lively exercise of which depends on the will of him on whom it is bestowed (Mt 25:18, 25, 27, 28). The charism or spiritual gift, is that of the Spirit which qualified him for “the work of an evangelist” (Eph 4:11; 2Ti 4:5), or perhaps the gift of discerning spirits, specially needed in his function of ordaining, as overseer [Bishop Hinds].

given thee–by God (1Co 12:4, 6).

by prophecy–that is, by the Holy Spirit, at his general ordination, or else consecration, to the special see of Ephesus, speaking through the prophets God’s will to give him the graces needed to qualify him for his work (1Ti 1:18; Ac 13:1-3).

with … laying on of … hands–So in Joshua’s case (Nu 27:18-20; De 34:9). The gift was connected with the symbolical act of laying on hands. But the Greek “with” implies that the presbyter’s laying on hands was the mere accompaniment of the conferring of the gift. “By” (2Ti 1:6) implies that Paul’s laying on his hands was the actual instrument of its being conferred.

of the presbytery–In 2Ti 1:6 the apostle mentions only his own laying on of hands. But there his aim is to remind Timothy specially of the part he himself took in imparting to him the gift. Here he mentions the fact, quite consistent with the other, that the neighboring presbyters took part in the ordination or consecration, he, however, taking the foremost part. Paul, though having the general oversight of the elders everywhere, was an elder himself (1Pe 5:1; 2Jo 1). The Jewish council was composed of the elders of the Church (the presbytery, Lu 22:66; Ac 22:5), and a presiding rabbi; so the Christian Church was composed of apostles, elders, and a president (Ac 15:16). As the president of the synagogue was of the same order as his presbyters, so the bishop was of the same order as his presbyters. At the ordination of the president of the synagogue there were always three presbyters present to lay on hands, so the early Church canons required three bishops to be present at the consecration of a bishop. As the president of the synagogue, so the bishop of the Church alone could ordain, he acting as the representative, and in the name of the whole presbytery [Vitringa]. So, in the Anglican Church, the bishop ordains, the presbyters or priests present joining with him in laying on hands.

15. Meditate–Greek, “Meditate CAREFULLY upon” (Ps 1:2; 119:15; compare “Isaac,” Ge 24:63).

these things–(1Ti 4:12-14). As food would not nourish without digestion, which assimilates the food to the substance of the body, so spiritual food, in order to benefit us, needs to be appropriated by prayerful meditation.

give thyself wholly to–literally, “BE in these things”; let them engross thee wholly; be wholly absorbed in them. Entire self-dedication, as in other pursuits, so especially in religion, is the secret of proficiency. There are changes as to all other studies, fashionable to-day, out of fashion to-morrow; this study alone is never obsolete, and when made the all-engrossing aim sanctifies all other studies. The exercise of the ministry threatens the spirit of the ministry, unless it be sustained within. The minister must be first his own scholar before he can be another’s teacher.

profiting–Greek, “progress” towards perfection in the Christian life, and especially towards the fullest realization of the ideal of a Christian minister (1Ti 4:12).

may appear to all–not for thy glory, but for the winning of souls (Mt 5:16).

16. Take heed–Give heed (Ac 3:5).

thyself, and … doctrine–“and unto thy teaching.” The two requisites of a good pastor: His teaching will be of no avail unless his own life accord with it; and his own purity of life is not enough unless he be diligent in teaching [Calvin]. This verse is a summary of 1Ti 4:12.

continue in them–(2Ti 3:14).

in doing this–not “by doing this,” as though he could save himself by works.

thou shalt … save thyself, and them that hear thee–(Eze 33:9; Jas 5:20). In performing faithfully his duty to others, the minister is promoting his own salvation. Indeed he cannot “give heed unto the teaching” of others, unless he be at the same time “giving heed unto himself.”



1Ti 5:1-25. General Directions as to How Timothy Should Deal with Different Classes in the Church.

1. an elder–in age; probably not an elder in the ministry; these latter are not mentioned till 1Ti 5:17, “the elders that rule.” Compare Ac 2:17, “your old men,” literally, “elders.” Contrasted with “the younger men.” As Timothy was admonished so to conduct himself as to give no man reason to despise his youth (1Ti 4:12); so here he is told to bear in mind his youth, and to behave with the modesty which becomes a young man in relation to his elders.

Rebuke not–literally, “Strike not hard upon”; Rebuke not sharply: a different word from “rebuke” in 2Ti 4:2.


as brethren–and therefore equals; not lording it over them (1Pe 5:1-3).

2. with all purity–respectful treatment of the other sex will promote “purity.”

3. Honour–by setting on the church roll, as fit objects of charitable sustenance (1Ti 5:9, 17, 18; Ac 6:1). So “honor” is used for support with necessaries (Mt 15:4, 6; Ac 28:10).

widows indeed–(1Ti 5:16). Those really desolate; not like those (1Ti 5:4) having children or relations answerable for their support, nor like those (in 1Ti 5:6) “who live in pleasure”; but such as, from their earthly desolation as to friends, are most likely to trust wholly in God, persevere in continual prayers, and carry out the religious duties assigned to Church widows (1Ti 5:5). Care for widows was transferred from the Jewish economy to the Christian (De 14:29; 16:11; 24:17, 19).

4. if any widow have children–not “a widow indeed,” as having children who ought to support her.

nephews–rather, as Greek, “descendants,” or “grandchildren” [Hesychius]. “Nephews” in old English meant “grandchildren” [Hooker, Ecclesiastical Polity, 5.20].

let them–the children and descendants.

learn first–ere it falls to the Church to support them.

to show piety at home–filial piety towards their widowed mother or grandmother, by giving her sustenance. Literally, “to show piety towards their own house.” “Piety is applied to the reverential discharge of filial duties; as the parental relation is the earthly representation of God our heavenly Father’s relation to us. “Their own” stands in opposition to the Church, in relation to which the widow is comparatively a stranger. She has a claim on her own children, prior to her claim on the Church; let them fulfil this prior claim which she has on them, by sustaining her and not burdening the Church.

parents–Greek, (living) “progenitors,” that is, their mother or grandmother, as the case may be. “Let them learn,” implies that abuses of this kind had crept into the Church, widows claiming Church support though they had children or grandchildren able to support them.

good and–The oldest manuscripts omit. The words are probably inserted by a transcriber from 1Ti 2:3.

5. widow indeed, and desolate–contrasted with her who has children or grandchildren to support her (1Ti 5:4).

trusteth in God–perfect tense in Greek, “hath rested, and doth rest her hope in God.” 1Ti 5:5 adds another qualification in a widow for Church maintenance, besides her being” desolate” or destitute of children to support her. She must be not one “that liveth in pleasure” (1Ti 5:6), but one making God her main hope (the accusative in Greek expresses that God is the ultimate aim whereto her hope is directed; whereas, 1Ti 4:10, dative expresses hope resting on God as her present stay [Wiesinger]), and continuing constantly in prayers. Her destitution of children and of all ties to earth would leave her more unencumbered for devoting the rest of her days to God and the Church (1Co 7:33, 34). Compare also “Anna a widow,” who remained unmarried after her husband’s death and “departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers day and night” (Lu 2:36, 37). Such a one, Paul implies, would be the fittest object for the Church’s help (1Ti 5:3); for such a one is promoting the cause of Christ’s Church by her prayers for it. “Ardor in prayers flows from hoping confidence in God” [Leo].

in supplications and prayers–Greek, “in her supplications and prayers”; the former signifies asking under a sense of need, the latter, prayer (see on 1Ti 2:1; Php 4:6).

night and day–another coincidence with Luke (Lu 18:7, “cry day and night”); contrast Satan’s accusations “day and night” (Re 12:10).

6. she that liveth in pleasure–the opposite of such a widow as is described in 1Ti 5:5, and therefore one utterly undeserving of Church charity. The Greek expresses wanton prodigality and excess [Tittmann]. The root expresses weaving at a fast rate, and so lavish excess (see on Jas 5:5).

dead while she liveth–dead in the Spirit while alive in the flesh (Mt 8:22; Eph 5:14).

7. these things–just now spoken (1Ti 5:5, 6).

that they may be blameless–namely, the widows supported by the Church.

8. But–reverting to 1Ti 5:4, “If any (a general proposition; therefore including in its application the widow’s children or grandchildren) provide not for his own (relations in general), and especially for those of his own house (in particular), he hath (practically) denied the faith.” Faith without love and its works is dead; “for the subject matter of faith is not mere opinion, but the grace and truth of God, to which he that believes gives up his spirit, as he that loves gives up his heart” [Mack]. If in any case a duty of love is plain, it is in relation to one’s own relatives; to fail in so plain an obligation is a plain proof of want of love, and therefore of want of faith. “Faith does not set aside natural duties, but strengthens them” [Bengel].

worse than an infidel–because even an infidel (or unbeliever) is taught by nature to provide for his own relatives, and generally recognizes the duty; the Christian who does not so, is worse (Mt 5:46, 47). He has less excuse with his greater light than the infidel who may break the laws of nature.

9. Translate, “As a widow (that is, of the ecclesiastical order of widowhood; a kind of female presbytery), let none be enrolled (in the catalogue) who is less than sixty years old.” These were not deaconesses, who were chosen at a younger age (forty was the age fixed at the Council of Chalcedon), and who had virgins (in a later age called widows) as well as widows among them, but a band of widows set apart, though not yet formally and finally, to the service of God and the Church. Traces of such a class appear in Ac 9:41. Dorcas herself was such a one. As it was expedient (see on 1Ti 3:2; Tit 1:6) that the presbyter or bishop should have been but once married, so also in her case. There is a transition here to a new subject. The reference here cannot be, as in 1Ti 5:3, to providing Church sustenance for them. For the restriction to widows above sixty would then be needless and harsh, since many widows might be in need of help at a much earlier age; as also the rule that the widow must not have been twice married, especially since he himself, below (1Ti 5:14) enjoins the younger widows to marry again; as also that she must have brought up children. Moreover, 1Ti 5:10 presupposes some competence, at least in past times, and so poor widows would be excluded, the very class requiring charity. Also, 1Ti 5:11 would then be senseless, for then their remarrying would be a benefit, not an injury, to the Church, as relieving it of the burden of their sustenance. Tertullian [On the Veiling of Virgins, 9], Hermas [Shepherd, 1.2], and Chrysostom [Homily, 31], mention such an order of ecclesiastical widowhood, each one not less than sixty years old, and resembling the presbyters in the respect paid to them, and in some of their duties; they ministered with sympathizing counsel to other widows and to orphans, a ministry to which their own experimental knowledge of the feelings and sufferings of the bereaved adapted them, and had a general supervision of their sex. Age was doubtless a requisite in presbyters, as it is here stated to have been in presbyteresses, with a view to their influence on the younger persons of their sex They were supported by the Church, but not the only widows so supported (1Ti 5:3, 4).

wife of one man–in order not to throw a stumbling-block in the way of Jews and heathen, who regarded with disfavor second marriages (see on 1Ti 3:2; Tit 1:6). This is the force of “blameless,” giving no offense, even in matters indifferent.

10. for good works–Greek, “IN honourable (excellent) works”; the sphere or element in which the good report of her had place (Tit 2:7). This answers to 1Ti 3:7, as to the bishop or presbyter, “He must have a good report of them which are without.”

if–if, in addition to being “well reported of.”

she … brought up children–either her own (1Ti 3:4, 12), or those of others, which is one of the “good works”; a qualification adapting her for ministry to orphan children, and to mothers of families.

lodged strangers–1Ti 3:2, “given to hospitality” (Tit 1:8); in the case of presbyters.

washed … saints’ feet–after the example of the Lord (Joh 13:14); a specimen of the universal spirit of humbly “by love serving one another,” which actuated the early Christians.

relieved the afflicted–whether by pecuniary or other relief.

followed … good–(1Th 5:15; compare instances in Mt 25:35, 36).

11. younger–than sixty years old (1Ti 5:9).

refuse–to take on the roll of presbyteress widows.

wax wanton–literally, “over-strong” (2Ch 26:16).

against Christ–rebelling against Christ, their proper Bridegroom [Jerome].

they will–Greek, “they wish”; their desire is to marry again.

12. Having–Bringing on themselves, and so having to bear as a burden (Ga 5:10) judgment from God (compare 1Ti 3:6), weighing like a load on them.

cast off their first faith–namely, pledged to Christ and the service of the Church. There could be no hardship at the age of sixty or upwards in not marrying again (end of 1Ti 5:9), for the sake of serving better the cause of Christ as presbyteresses; though, to ordinary widows, no barrier existed against remarriage (1Co 7:39). This is altogether distinct from Rome’s unnatural vows of celibacy in the case of young marriageable women. The widow-presbyteresses, moreover, engaged to remain single, not as though single life were holier than married life (according to Rome’s teaching), but because the interests of Christ’s cause made it desirable (see on 1Ti 3:2). They had pledged “their first faith” to Christ as presbyteress widows; they now wish to transfer their faith to a husband (compare 1Co 7:32, 34).

13. withal–“at the same time, moreover.”

learn–usually in a good sense. But these women’s “learning” is idleness, trifling, and busybodies’ tattle.

wandering–Greek, “going about.”

from house to house–of the members of the Church (2Ti 3:6). “They carry the affairs of this house to that, and of that to this; they tell the affairs of all to all” [Theophylact].

tattlers–literally “trifling talkers.” In 3Jo 10, translated “prating.”

busybodies–mischievously busy; inconsiderately curious (2Th 3:11). Ac 19:19, “curious,” the same Greek. Curiosity usually springs from idleness, which is itself the mother of garrulity [Calvin].

speaking–not merely “saying.” The subject-matter, as well as the form, is involved in the Greek word [Alford].

which they ought not–(Tit 1:11).

14. younger women–rather, as ellipsis ought to be supplied, “the younger widows,” namely younger widows in general, as distinguished from the older widows taken on the roll of presbyteresses (1Ti 5:9). The “therefore” means seeing that young widows are exposed to such temptations, “I will,” or “desire,” &c. (1Ti 5:11-13). The precept here that they should marry again is not inconsistent with 1Co 7:40; for the circumstances of the two cases were distinct (compare 1Co 7:26). Here remarriage is recommended as an antidote to sexual passion, idleness, and the other evils noted in 1Ti 5:11-13. Of course, where there was no tendency to these evils, marriage again would not be so requisite; Paul speaks of what is generally desirable, and supposing there should be danger of such evils, as was likely. “He does not impose a law, but points out a remedy, to younger widows” [Chrysostom].

bear children–(1Ti 2:15); thus gaining one of the qualifications (1Ti 5:10) for being afterwards a presbyteress widow, should Providence so ordain it.

guide–Greek, “rule the house” in the woman’s due place; not usurping authority over the man (1Ti 2:12).

give none occasion–literally, “starting-point”: handle of reproach through the loose conduct of nominal Christians.

the adversary–of Christianity, Jew or Gentile. Php 1:28; Tit 2:8, “He that is of the contrary part.” Not Satan, who is introduced in a different relation (1Ti 5:15).

to speak reproachfully–literally, “for the sake of reproach” (1Ti 3:7; 6:1; Tit 2:5, 10). If the handle were given, the adversary would use it for the sake of reproach. The adversary is eager to exaggerate the faults of a few, and to lay the blame on the whole Church and its doctrines [Bengel].

15. For–For in the case of some this result has already ensued; “Some (widows) are already turned aside after Satan,” the seducer (not by falling away from the faith in general, but) by such errors as are stigmatized in 1Ti 5:11-13, sexual passion, idleness, &c., and so have given occasion of reproach (1Ti 5:14). “Satan finds some mischief still for the idle hands to do.”

16. If any … have widows–of his family, however related to him. Most of the oldest manuscripts and versions omit “man or,” and read, “If any woman that believeth.” But the Received text seems preferable. If, however, the weightiest authorities are to prevail, the sense will be: He was speaking of younger widows; He now says, If any believing young widow have widows related to her needing support, let her relieve them, thereby casing the Church of the burden, 1Ti 5:3, 4 (there it was the children and grandchildren; here it is the young widow, who, in order to avoid the evils of idleness and wantonness, the result of idleness, 1Ti 5:11, 13; Eze 16:49, is to be diligent in good works, such as “relieving the afflicted,” 1Ti 5:10, thus qualifying herself for being afterwards a widow-presbyteress).

let them–rather as Greek, “let him,” or “her”; “let such a one” (1Ti 5:10).

be charged–literally, “be burdened” with their support.

widows indeed–really helpless and friendless (1Ti 5:3, 4).

17. The transition from the widow presbyteresses (1Ti 5:9) to the presbyters here, is natural.

rule well–literally, “preside well,” with wisdom, ability, and loving faithfulness, over the flock assigned to them.

be counted worthy of double honour–that is, the honor which is expressed by gifts (1Ti 5:3, 18) and otherwise. If a presbyter as such, in virtue of his office, is already worthy of honor, he who rules well is doubly so [Wiesinger] (1Co 9:14; Ga 6:6; 1Th 5:12). Not literally that a presbyter who rules well should get double the salary of one who does not rule well [Alford], or of a presbyteress widow, or of the deacons [Chrysostom]. “Double” is used for large in general (Re 18:6).

specially they who labour in the word and doctrine–Greek, “teaching”; preaching of the word, and instruction, catechetical or otherwise. This implies that of the ruling presbyters there were two kinds, those who labored in the word and teaching, and those who did not. Lay presbyters, so called merely because of their age, have no place here; for both classes mentioned here alike are ruling presbyters. A college of presbyters is implied as existing in each large congregation. As in 1Ti 3:1-16 their qualifications are spoken of, so here the acknowledgments due to them for their services.

18. the scripture–(De 25:4; quoted before in 1Co 9:9).

the ox that treadeth out–Greek, An ox while treading.

The labourer is worthy of his reward–or “hire”; quoted from Lu 10:7, whereas Mt 10:10 has “his meat,” or “food.” If Paul extends the phrase, “Scripture saith,” to this second clause, as well as to the first, he will be hereby recognizing the Gospel of Luke, his own helper (whence appears the undesigned appositeness of the quotation), as inspired Scripture. This I think the correct view. The Gospel according to Luke was probably in circulation then about eight or nine years. However, it is possible “Scripture saith” applies only to the passage quoted from De 25:4; and then his quotation will be that of a common proverb, quoted also by the Lord, which commends itself to the approval of all, and is approved by the Lord and His apostle.

19. Against an elder–a presbyter of the Church.

receive not–“entertain not” [Alford].

but before two or three witnesses–A judicial conviction was not permitted in De 17:6; 19:15, except on the testimony of at least two or three witnesses (compare Mt 18:16; Joh 8:17; 2Co 13:1; 1Jo 5:6, 7). But Timothy’s entertaining an accusation against anyone is a different case, where the object was not judicially to punish, but to admonish: here he might ordinarily entertain it without the need of two or three witnesses; but not in the case of an elder, since the more earnest an elder was to convince gainsayers (Tit 1:9), the more exposed would he be to vexatious and false accusations. How important then was it that Timothy should not, without strong testimony, entertain a charge against presbyters, who should, in order to be efficient, be “blameless” (1Ti 3:2; Tit 1:6). 1Ti 5:21, 24 imply that Timothy had the power of judging in the Church. Doubtless he would not condemn any save on the testimony of two or three witnesses, but in ordinary cases he would cite them, as the law of Moses also allowed, though there were only one witness. But in the case of elders, he would require two or three witnesses before even citing them; for their character for innocence stands higher, and they are exposed to envy and calumny more than others “Receive” does not, as Alford thinks, include both citation and conviction, but means only the former.

20. Them that sin–whether presbyters or laymen.

rebuke before all–publicly before the Church (Mt 18:15-17; 1Co 5:9-13; Eph 5:11). Not until this “rebuke” was disregarded was the offender to be excommunicated.

others … fear–that other members of the Church may have a wholesome fear of offending (De 13:11; Ac 5:11).

21. I charge thee–rather as Greek, “I adjure thee”; so it ought to be translated (2Ti 4:1).

before–“in the presence of God.”

Lord–omitted in the oldest manuscripts God the Father, and Christ the Son, will testify against thee, if thou disregardest my injunction. He vividly sets before Timothy the last judgment, in which God shall be revealed, and Christ seen face to face with His angels

elect angels–an epithet of reverence. The objects of divine electing love (1Pe 2:6). Not only “elect” (according to the everlasting purpose of God) in contradistinction to the reprobate angels (2Pe 2:4), but also to mark the excellence of the angels in general (as God’s chosen ministers, “holy angels,” “angels of light”), and so to give more solemnity to their testimony [Calvin] as witnesses to Paul’s adjuration. Angels take part by action and sympathy in the affairs of the earth (Lu 15:10; 1Co 4:9).

these things–the injunctions, 1Ti 5:19, 20.

without preferring one before another–rather as Greek, “prejudice”; “judging before” hearing all the facts of a case. There ought to be judgment, but not prejudging. Compare “suddenly,” 1Ti 5:22, also 1Ti 5:24.

partiality–in favor of a man, as “prejudice” is bias against a man. Some of the oldest manuscripts read, “in the way of summoning (brethren) before a (heathen) judge.” But Vulgate and other good authorities favor the more probable reading in English Version.

22. Lay hands–that is, ordain (1Ti 4:14; 2Ti 1:6; Tit 1:5). The connection is with 1Ti 5:19. The way to guard against scandals occurring in the case of presbyters is, be cautious as to the character of the candidate before ordaining him; this will apply to other Church officers so ordained, as well as to presbyters. Thus, this clause refers to 1Ti 5:19, as next clause, “neither be partaker of other men’s sins,” refers to 1Ti 5:20. Ellicott and Wiesinger understand it of receiving back into Church fellowship or absolution, by laying hands on those who had been “rebuked” (1Ti 5:20) and then excommunicated (Mt 18:17); 1Ti 5:20 favors this. But as in 1Ti 4:14, and Ac 6:6; 13:3; 2Ti 1:6, the laying on of hands is used of ordination (compare however as to confirmation, Ac 8:17), it seems better to take it so here.

suddenly–hastily: 1Ti 5:24, 25 show that waiting for a time is salutary.

neither be partaker of other men’s sins–by negligence in ordaining ungodly candidates, and so becoming in some degree responsible for their sins. Or, there is the same transition from the elders to all in general who may sin, as in 1Ti 5:19, 20. Be not a partaker in other men’s sins by not “rebuking them that sin before all,” as well as those that are candidates for the presbytery, as also all “that sin.”

keep thyself pure–“thyself’ is emphatic. “Keep THYSELF” clear of participation in OTHER men’s sin by not failing to rebuke them that sin (1Ti 5:20). Thus the transition is easy to 1Ti 5:23, which is concerning Timothy personally; compare also 1Ti 5:24.

23. no longer–as a habit. This injunction to drink wine occasionally is a modification of the preceding “keep thyself pure.” The presbyter and deacon were enjoined to be “not given to wine” (1Ti 3:3, 8). Timothy seems to have had a tendency to undue ascetical strictness on this point (compare Note, see on 1Ti 4:8; compare the Nazarene vow, Nu 6:1-4; John the Baptist, Lu 1:15; Ro 14). Paul therefore modifies the preceding words, “keep thyself pure,” virtually saying, “Not that I mean to enjoin that kind of purity which consists in asceticism, nay, be no longer a water-drinker,” that is, no longer drink only water, but use a little wine, as much as is needed for thy health. So Ellicott and Wiesinger. Alford thus: Timothy was of a feeble frame (see on 1Co 16:10, 11), and prone to timidity in his duties as overseer where vigorous action was needed; hence Paul exhorts him to take all proper means to raise his bodily condition above these infirmities. God hereby commands believers to use all due means for preserving health, and condemns by anticipation the human traditions which among various sects have denied the use of wine to the faithful.

24. Two kinds of sins are specified: those palpably manifest (so the Greek for “open beforehand” ought to be translated; so in Heb 7:14, it is translated “evident”; literally, “before” the eyes, that is, notorious), further explained as “going before to judgment”; and those which follow after the men (“some men they, that is, their sins, follow after”), namely, not going beforehand, loudly accusing, but hidden till they come to the judgment: so 1Ti 5:25, the good works are of two classes: those palpably manifest (translate so, instead of “manifest beforehand”) and “those that are otherwise,” that is, not palpably manifest. Both alike “cannot be hid”; the former class in the case of bad and good are manifest already; the latter class in the case of both are not manifest now, but shall be so at the final judgment.

going before to judgment–as heralds; crying sins which accuse their perpetrator. The connection seems to me this: He had enjoined Timothy, 1Ti 5:20, “Rebuke them that sin before all”: and in 1Ti 5:22, “Neither be partaker of other men’s sins,” by ordaining ungodly men; having then by a digression at the clause, “keep thyself pure,” guarded against an ascetical error of Timothy in fancying purity consisted in asceticism, and having exhorted him to use wine for strengthening him in his work, he returns to the subject of his being vigorous as an overseer in rebuking sin, whether in presbyters or people, and in avoiding participation in men’s sins by ordaining ungodly candidates. He says, therefore, there are two classes of sins, as there are two classes of good works: those palpably manifest, and those not so; the former are those on which thou shouldest act decidedly at once when called on, whether to rebuke in general, or to ordain ministers in particular; as to the latter, the final judgment alone can decide; however hidden now they “cannot be hid” then. This could only be said of the final judgment (1Co 4:5; therefore, Alford’s reference of this verse to Timothy’s judgment in choosing elders must be wrong); all judgments before then are fallible. Thus he implies that Timothy can only be responsible if he connive at manifest, or evident sins; not that those that are otherwise shall escape judgment at last: just as in the case of good works, he can only be responsible for taking into account in his judgments those which are patent to all, not those secret good works which nevertheless will not remain hidden at the final judgment.



1Ti 6:1-21. Exhortations as to Distinctions of Civil Rank; the Duty of Slaves, in Opposition to the False Teachings of Gain-seekers; Timothy’s Pursuit Is to Be Godliness, Which Is an Everlasting Possession: Solemn Adjuration to Do So against Christ’s Coming; Charge to Be Given to the Rich. Concluding Exhortation.

1. servants–to be taken as predicated thus, “Let as many as are under the yoke (as) slaves” (Tit 2:9). The exhortation is natural as there was a danger of Christian slaves inwardly feeling above their heathen masters.

their own masters–The phrase “their own,” is an argument for submissiveness; it is not strangers, but their own masters whom they are required to respect.

all honour–all possible and fitting honor; not merely outward subjection, but that inward honor from which will flow spontaneously right outward conduct (see on Eph 5:22).

that the name of God–by which Christians are called.

blasphemed–Heathen masters would say, What kind of a God must be the God of the Christians, when such are the fruits of His worship (Ro 2:24; Tit 2:5, 10)?

2. And–rather, “But.” The opposition is between those Christian slaves under the yoke of heathen, and those that have believing masters (he does not use the phrase “under the yoke” in the latter case, for service under believers is not a yoke). Connect the following words thus, “Let them (the slaves) not, because they (the masters) are brethren (and so equals, masters and slaves alike being Christians), despise them (the masters).”

but rather, &c.–“but all the more (so much the more: with the greater good will) do them service because they (the masters) are faithful (that is, believers) and beloved who receive (in the mutual interchange of relative duties between master and servant; so the Greek) the benefit” (English Version violates Greek grammar). This latter clause is parallel to, “because they are brethren”; which proves that “they” refers to the masters, not the servants, as Tittmann takes it, explaining the verb in the common sense (Lu 1:54; Ac 20:35), “who sedulously labor for their (masters’) benefit.” The very term “benefit” delicately implies service done with the right motive, Christian “good will” (Eph 6:7). If the common sense of the Greek verb be urged, the sense must be, “Because they (the masters) are faithful and beloved who are sedulously intent on the benefiting” of their servants. But Porphyry [On Abstinence, 1.46] justifies the sense of the Greek verb given above, which also better accords with the context; for otherwise, the article “the,” will have nothing in the preceding words to explain it, whereas in my explanation above “the benefit” will be that of the slaves’ service.

These things teach–(1Ti 4:11; Tit 2:15).

3. teach otherwise–than I desire thee to “teach” (1Ti 6:2). The Greek indicative implies, he puts not a merely supposed case, but one actually existing, 1Ti 1:3, “Every one who teaches otherwise,” that is, who teaches heterodoxy.

consent not–Greek, “accede not to.”

wholesome–“sound” (1Ti 1:10): opposed to the false teachers’ words, unsound through profitless science and immorality.

words of our Lord Jesus Christ–Paul’s inspired words are not merely his own, but are also Christ’s words.

4. He is proud–literally, “wrapt in smoke”; filled with the fumes of self-conceit (1Ti 3:6) while “knowing nothing,” namely, of the doctrine which is according to godliness (1Ti 6:3), though arrogating pre-eminent knowledge (1Ti 1:7).

doting about–literally, “sick about”; the opposite of “wholesome” (1Ti 6:3). Truth is not the center about which his investigations move, but mere word-strifes.

questions–of controversy.

strifes of words–rather than about realities (2Ti 2:14). These stand with them instead of “godliness” and “wholesome words” (1Ti 6:3; 1Ti 1:4; Tit 3:9).

evil surmisings–as to those who are of a different party from themselves.

5. Perverse disputings–useless disputings. The oldest manuscripts read, “lasting contests” [Wiesinger]; “incessant collisions” [Alford]. “Strifes of words” had already been mentioned so that he would not be likely to repeat the same idea (as in the English Version reading) again.

corrupt minds–Greek, “of men corrupted (depraved) in mind.” The inmost source of the evil is in the perverted mind (1Ti 6:4; 2Ti 3:8; Tit 1:15).

destitute of the truth–(Tit 1:14). They had had the truth, but through want of moral integrity and of love of the truth, they were misled by a pretended deeper gnosis (knowledge) and higher ascetical holiness, of which they made a trade [Wiesinger].

supposing, &c.–The Greek requires, “supposing (regarding the matter in this point of view) that piety (so translated for ‘godliness’) is a means of gain (that is, a way of advancing one’s worldly interests: a different Greek form, poriswa, expresses the thing gained, gain)”; not “that gain is godliness,” as English Version.

from such withdraw thyself–omitted in the oldest manuscripts. The connection with 1Ti 6:6 favors the omission of these words, which interrupt the connection.

6. But–Though they err in this, there is a sense in which “piety is” not merely gain, but “great means of gain”: not the gaining which they pursue, and which makes men to be discontented with their present possessions, and to use religion as “a cloak of covetousness” (1Th 2:5) and means of earthly gain, but the present and eternal gain which piety, whose accompaniment is contentment, secures to the soul. Wiesinger remarks that Paul observed in Timothy a tendency to indolence and shrinking from the conflict, whence he felt (1Ti 6:11) that Timothy needed cautioning against such temptation; compare also the second Epistle. Not merely contentment is great gain (a sentiment of the heathen Cicero [Paradox 6], “the greatest and surest riches”), but “piety with contentment”; for piety not only feels no need of what it has not, but also has that which exalts it above what it has not [Wiesinger]. The Greek for contentment is translated “sufficiency” (2Co 9:8). But the adjective (Php 4:11) “content”; literally, “having a sufficiency in one’s self” independent of others. “The Lord always supplies His people with what is necessary for them. True happiness lies in piety, but this sufficiency [supplied by God, with which moreover His people are content] is thrown into the scale as a kind of overweight” [Calvin] (1Ki 17:1-16; Ps 37:19; Isa 33:6, 16; Jer 37:21).

7. For–confirming the reasonableness of “contentment.”

and it is certain–Vulgate and other old versions support this reading. The oldest manuscripts, however, omit “and it is certain”; then the translation will be, “We brought nothing into the world (to teach us to remember) that neither can we carry anything out” (Job 1:21; Ec 5:15). Therefore, we should have no gain-seeking anxiety, the breeder of discontent (Mt 6:25).

8. And–Greek, “But.” In contrast to the greedy gain-seekers (1Ti 6:5).

having–so long as we have food. (The Greek expresses “food sufficient in each case for our continually recurring wants” [Alford]). It is implied that we, as believers, shall have this (Isa 23:16).

raiment–Greek, “covering”; according to some including a roof to cover us, that is, a dwelling, as well as clothing.

let us be therewith content–literally, “we shall be sufficiently provided”; “we shall be sufficed” [Alford].

9. will be rich–have more than “food and raiment.” Greek, “wish to be rich”; not merely are willing, but are resolved, and earnestly desire to have riches at any cost (Pr 28:20, 22). This wishing (not the riches themselves) is fatal to “contentment” (1Ti 6:6). Rich men are not told to cast away their riches, but not to “trust” in them, and to “do good” with them (1Ti 6:17, 18; Ps 62:10).

fall into temptation–not merely “are exposed to temptation,” but actually “fall into” it. The falling into it is what we are to pray against, “Lead us not into temptation” (Jas 1:14); such a one is already in a sinful state, even before any overt act of sin. The Greek for “temptation” and “gain” contains a play on sounds–porasmus, peirasmus.

snare–a further step downwards (1Ti 3:7). He falls into “the snare of the devil.”


hurtful–to those who fall into the snare. Compare Eph 4:22, “deceitful lusts” which deceive to one’s deadly hurt.

lusts–With the one evil lust (“wish to be rich”) many others join themselves: the one is the “root of all evils” (1Ti 6:10).

which–Greek, “whatever (lusts).”

drown–an awful descending climax from “fall into”; this is the last step in the terrible descent (Jas 1:15); translated “sink,” Lu 5:7.

destruction … perdition–destruction in general (temporal or eternal), and perdition in particular, namely, that of body and soul in hell.

10. the love of money–not the money itself, but the love of it–the wishing to be rich (1Ti 6:9)–“is a root (Ellicott and Middleton: not as English Version, ‘the root’) of all evils.” (So the Greek plural). The wealthiest may be rich not in a bad sense; the poorest may covet to be so (Ps 62:10). Love of money is not the sole root of evils, but it is a leading “root of bitterness” (Heb 12:15), for “it destroys faith, the root of all that is good” [Bengel]; its offshoots are “temptation, a snare, lusts, destruction, perdition.”

coveted after–lusted after.

erred from–literally, “have been made to err from the faith” (1Ti 1:19; 4:1).

pierced–(Lu 2:35).

with … sorrows–“pains”: “thorns” of the parable (Mt 13:22) which choke the word of “faith.” “The prosperity of fools destroys them” (Pr 1:32). Bengel and Wiesinger make them the gnawings of conscience, producing remorse for wealth badly acquired; the harbingers of the future “perdition” (1Ti 6:9).

11. But thou–in contrast to the “some” (1Ti 6:10).

man of God–who hast God as thy true riches (Ge 15:1; Ps 16:5; La 3:24). Applying primarily to Timothy as a minister (compare 2Pe 1:21), just as the term was used of Moses (De 33:1), Samuel (1Sa 9:6), Elijah, and Elisha; but, as the exhortation is as to duties incumbent also on all Christians, the term applies secondarily to him (so 2Ti 3:17) as a Christian man born of God (Jas 1:18; 1Jo 5:1), no longer a man of the world raised above earthly things; therefore, God’s property, not his own, bought with a price, and so having parted with all right in himself: Christ’s work is to be his great work: he is to be Christ’s living representative.

flee these things–namely, “the love of money” with its evil results (1Ti 6:9, 10).

follow after righteousness–(2Ti 2:22).

godliness–“piety.” Righteousness is more in relation to our fellow man; piety (“godliness”) to God”; faith is the root of both (see on Tit 2:12).

love–by which “faith worketh.”

patience–enduring perseverance amidst trials.

meekness–The oldest manuscripts read, “meek-spiritedness,” namely, towards the opponents of the Gospel.

12. Fight the good fight–Birks thinks this Epistle was written from Corinth, where contests in the national games recurred at stated seasons, which will account for the allusion here as in 1Co 9:24-26. Contrast “strifes of words” (1Ti 6:4). Compare 1Ti 1:18; 2Ti 4:7. The “good profession” is connected with the good fight (Ps 60:4).

lay hold on eternal life–the crown, or garland, the prize of victory, laid hold of by the winner in the “good fight” (2Ti 4:7, 8; Php 3:12-14). “Fight (literally, ‘strive’) with such striving earnestness as to lay hold on the prize, eternal life.”

also–not in the oldest manuscripts.

professed a good profession–Greek, “didst confess THE good confession,” namely, the Christian confession (as the Greek word is the same in this verse as that for “confession” in 1Ti 6:13, probably the profession here is the confession that Christ’s kingdom is the kingdom of the truth, Joh 18:36, 37), at thy being set apart to thy ministerial function (whether in general, or as overseer at Ephesus): the same occasion as is referred to in 1Ti 1:18; 4:14; 2Ti 1:4.

before many witnesses–who would testify against thee if thou shouldest fall away [Bengel].

13. quickeneth all things–that is, “maketh alive.” But the oldest manuscripts read, “preserveth alive”; as the same Greek means in Ac 7:19; compare Ne 9:6. He urges Timothy to faithfulness here by the present manifestation of God’s power in preserving all things, as in 1Ti 6:14, by the future manifestation of God’s power at the appearing of Christ. The assurance that “eternal life,” 1Ti 6:12, will be the result of “fighting the good fight,” rests on the fulness and power of Him who is the God of all life, present and to come.

witnessed–It was the Lord’s part to witness, Timothy’s part to confess (or “profess,” 1Ti 6:12) “the good confession” [Bengel]. The confession was His testimony that He was King, and His kingdom that of the truth (see on 1Ti 6:12; 1Ti 6:15; Mt 27:11). Christ, in attesting, or bearing witness to this truth, attested the truth of the whole of Christianity. Timothy’s profession, or confession, included therefore the whole of the Christian truth.

14. keep this commandment–Greek, “the commandment,” that is, the Gospel rule of life (1Ti 1:5; Joh 13:34; 2Pe 2:21; 3:2).

without spot, unrebukeable–agreeing with “thou.” Keep the commandment and so be without spot,” &c. “Pure” (1Ti 5:22; Eph 5:27; Jas 1:27; 2Pe 3:14).

until the appearing of … Christ–His coming in person (2Th 2:8; Tit 2:13). Believers then used in their practice to set before themselves the day of Christ as near at hand; we, the hour of death [Bengel]. The fact has in all ages of the Church been certain, the time as uncertain to Paul, as it is to us; hence, 1Ti 6:15, he says, “in His times”: the Church’s true attitude is that of continual expectation of her Lord’s return (1Co 1:8; Php 1:6, 10).

15. in his times–Greek, “His own [fitting] times” (Ac 1:7). The plural implies successive stages in the manifestation of the kingdom of God, each having its own appropriate time, the regulating principle and knowledge of which rests with the Father (1Ti 2:6; 2Ti 1:9; Tit 1:3; Heb 1:1).

he shall show–“display”: an expression appropriate in reference to His “APPEARING,” which is stronger than His “coming,” and implies its visibility; “manifest”: make visible (compare Ac 3:20): “He” is the Father (1Ti 6:16).

blessed–in Himself: so about to be the source of blessing to His people at Christ appearing, whence flows their “blessed hope” (1Ti 1:11; Tit 2:13).

only–(Joh 17:3; Ro 16:27; Re 15:4).

King of kings–elsewhere applied also to Jesus (Re 1:5; 17:14; 19:16).

16. Who only hath immortality–in His own essence, not merely at the will of another, as all other immortal beings [Justin Martyr, Quæst. ad Orthod., 61]. As He hath immortality, so will He give it to us who believe; to be out of Him is death. It is mere heathen philosophy that attributes to the soul indestructibility in itself, which is to be attributed solely to God’s gift. As He hath life in Himself, so hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself (Joh 5:26). The term used in the New Testament for “immortal,” which does not occur, is “incorruptible.” “Immortality” is found in 1Co 15:53, 54.

dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto–After life comes mention of light, as in Joh 1:4. That light is unapproachable to creatures, except in so far as they are admitted by Him, and as He goes forth to them [Bengel]. It is unapproachable on account of its exceeding brightness [Theophylact]. If one cannot gaze steadfastly at the sun, which is but a small part of creation, by reason of its exceeding heat and power, how much less can mortal man gaze at the inexpressible glory of God [Theophylact, To Autolycus] (Ps 104:2; 1Jo 1:5).

no man hath seen–(Ex 23:20; Joh 1:18; Col 1:15; Heb 11:27; 1Jo 4:12). Perhaps even in the perfect state no creature shall fully see God. Still the saints shall, in some sense, have the blessedness of seeing Him, which is denied to mere man (Mt 5:8; 1Co 13:12; 1Jo 3:2; Re 22:4).

17. Resuming the subject from above, 1Ti 6:5, 10. The immortality of God, alone rich in glory, and of His people through Him, is opposed to the lust of money (compare 1Ti 6:14-16). From speaking of the desire to be rich, he here passes to those who are rich: (1) What ought to be their disposition; (2) What use they ought to make of their riches, and, (3) The consequences of their so using them.

rich in this world–contrasted with the riches of the future kingdom to be the portion of believers at Christ’s “appearing,” 1Ti 6:14.

high-minded–often the character of the rich (see Ro 12:16).

trust–Greek, “to have their trust resting.”

in … in–rather, “upon … upon,” as the oldest manuscripts.

uncertain riches–rather as Greek, “the uncertainty of riches.” They who rest their trust on riches, rest trust on uncertainty itself (Pr 23:5). Now they belong to one person, now to another, and that which has many masters is possessed by none [Theodoret].

living God–The best manuscripts and versions omit “living.” He who trusts in riches transfers to them the duty he owes to God [Calvin].

who giveth–Greek, “affordeth.”

all things richly–temporal and eternal, for the body and for the soul. In order to be truly rich, seek to be blessed of, and in, God (Pr 10:22; 2Pe 1:3).

to enjoy–Greek, “for enjoyment.” Not that the heart may cleave to them as its idol and trust (1Ti 4:3). Enjoyment consists in giving, not in holding fast. Non-employment should be far removed, as from man, so from his resources (Jas 5:2, 3) [Bengel].

18. do good–like God Himself (Ps 119:68; Ac 14:17) and Christ (Ac 10:38). Tittmann translates, “to do,” or “act well”; as the Greek for “to be beneficent” is a distinct word, agathopoiein.

rich in good works–so “rich in faith,” which produces good works (Jas 2:5). Contrasted with “rich in this world,” 1Ti 6:17. Literally, it is “rich in honorable (right) works.” Greek, “kalois,” “ergois,” are works good or right in themselves: “agathois,” good to another.

ready to distribute–free givers [Alford]; the heart not cleaving to possessions, but ready to impart to others.

willing to communicate–ready contributors [Alford]: liberal in admitting others to share our goods in common with ourselves (Ga 6:6; Heb 13:16).

19. Laying up in store–“therefrom (that is, by this means [Alford]; but Bengel makes the Greek “apo” mean laying apart against a future time), laying up for themselves as a treasure” [Alford] (Mt 6:19, 20). This is a treasure which we act wisely in laying up in store, whereas the wisest thing we can do with earthly treasures is “to distribute” them and give others a share of them (1Ti 6:18).

good foundation–(See on 1Ti 3:13; Lu 6:48; 1Co 3:11). The sure reversion of the future heavenly inheritance: earthly riches scattered in faith lay up in store a sure increase of heavenly riches. We gather by scattering (Pr 11:24; 13:7; Lu 16:9).

that … eternal life–The oldest manuscripts and versions read, “that which is really life,” its joys being solid and enduring (Ps 16:11). The life that now is cannot be called so, its goods being unsubstantial, and itself a vapor (Jas 4:14). “In order that (‘with their feet so to speak on this foundation’ [De Wette]) they may lay hold on that which is life indeed.”

20, 21. Recapitulatory conclusion: the main aim of the whole Epistle being here summarily stated.

O Timothy–a personal appeal, marking at once his affection for Timothy, and his prescience of the coming heresies.

keep–from spiritual thieves, and from enemies who will, while men sleep, sow tares amidst the good seed sown by the Son of man.

that which is committed to thy trust–Greek, “the deposit” (1Ti 1:18; 2Ti 1:12, 14; 2:2). “The true” or “sound doctrine” to be taught, as opposed to “the science falsely so called,” which leads to “error concerning the faith” (1Ti 6:21). “It is not thine: it is another’s property with which thou hast been entrusted: Diminish it not at all” [Chrysostom]. “That which was entrusted to thee, not found by thee; which thou hast received, not invented; a matter not of genius, but of teaching; not of private usurpation, but of public tradition; a matter brought to thee, not put forth by thee, in which thou oughtest to be not an enlarger, but a guardian; not an originator, but a disciple; not leading, but following. ‘Keep,’ saith he, ‘the deposit,’; preserve intact and inviolate the talent of the catholic faith. What has been entrusted to thee, let that same remain with thee; let that same be handed down by thee. Gold thou hast received, gold return. I should be sorry thou shouldest substitute aught else. I should be sorry that for gold thou shouldest substitute lead impudently, or brass fraudulently. I do not want the mere appearance of gold, but its actual reality. Not that there is to be no progress in religion in Christ’s Church. Let there be so by all means, and the greatest progress; but then let it be real progress, not a change of the faith. Let the intelligence of the whole Church and its individual members increase exceedingly, provided it be only in its own kind, the doctrine being still the same. Let the religion of the soul resemble the growth of the body, which, though it develops its several parts in the progress of years, yet remains the same as it was essentially” [Vincentius Lirinensis, A.D. 434].

avoiding–“turning away from” (compare 2Ti 3:4). Even as they have “turned away from the truth” (1Ti 1:6; 5:15; 2Ti 4:4).

profane–(1Ti 4:7; 2Ti 2:16).

vain–Greek, “empty”: mere “strifes of words,” 1Ti 6:4, producing no moral fruit.

oppositions–dialectic antithesis of the false teachers [Alford]. Wiesinger, not so probably, “oppositions to the sound doctrine.” I think it likely germs existed already of the heresy of dualistic oppositions, namely, between the good and evil principle, afterwards fully developed in Gnosticism. Contrast Paul’s just antithesis (1Ti 3:16; 6:5, 6; 2Ti 2:15-23).

science falsely so called–where there is not faith, there is not knowledge [Chrysostom]. There was true “knowledge,” a special gift of the Spirit, which was abused by some (1Co 8:1; 12:8; 14:6). This gift was soon counterfeited by false teachers arrogating to themselves pre-eminently the gift (Col 2:8, 18, 23). Hence arose the creeds of the Church, called symbols, that is, in Greek, “watchwords,” or a test whereby the orthodox might distinguish one another in opposition to the heretical. Perhaps here, 1Ti 6:20, and 2Ti 1:13, 14, imply the existence of some such brief formula of doctrine then existing in the Church; if so, we see a good reason for its not being written in Scripture, which is designed not to give dogmatic formularies, but to be the fountain whence all such formularies are to be drawn according to the exigencies of the several churches and ages. Probably thus a portion of the so-called apostle’s creed may have had their sanction, and been preserved solely by tradition on this account. “The creed, handed down from the apostles, is not written on paper and with ink, but on fleshy tables of the heart” Jerome [Against John of Jerusalem, 9]. Thus, in the creed, contrary to the “oppositions” (the germs of which probably existed in the Church in Paul’s latter days) whereby the aeons were set off in pairs, God is stated to be “the Father Almighty,” or all-governing “maker of heaven and earth” [Bishop Hinds].

21. Which some professing–namely, professing these oppositions of science falsely so called.

erred–(See on 1Ti 1:6; 1Ti 2:11)–literally, “missed the mark” (2Ti 3:7, 8). True sagacity is inseparable from faith.

Grace–Greek, “the grace,” namely, of God, for which we Christians look, and in which we stand [Alford].

be with thee–He restricts the salutation to Timothy, as the Epistle was not to be read in public [Bengel]. But the oldest manuscripts read, “be with you”; and the “thee” may be a transcriber’s alteration to harmonize with 2Ti 4:22; Tit 3:15.

Amen–omitted in the oldest manuscripts.