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The Work Assigned to Timothy
Summary —Greetings. Why Timothy was Left at Ephesus. The True Object of the Commandment. Whom the Law Affects. Paul's Call to the Apostleship. Hymenæus and Alexander.
1, 2. Paul, an apostle. As one object of this letter was to strengthen Timothy's authority, Paul writes as an apostle. By the commandment. See Rom. 16:26. As the Judaizing opposers tried to show that Paul was inferior to Peter and the other apostles, he often recalls the fact that his appointment came not from them, and that he was independent of them. The Lord sent him to the Gentiles, as they were sent to the Jews (Acts 9:15). 2. Timothy, my own son in the faith. One of his converts. Compare Titus 1:4.
3, 4. As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus. Paul, it is presumed, seeing on the occasion of his last visit the need of a trusty evangelist at Ephesus to counteract the errors which were arising, had left Timothy behind. He was not left there as a bishop, as has been sometimes claimed, for we find that a part of his business was to appoint bishops; but as the representative of the apostle, an evangelist. The office of Titus in Crete was similar. That they teach no other doctrine. Than the gospel which they had been taught. Some of the errors which he was to correct are stated in the next verse 4. 4. Neither give heed to fables. In Titus 1:14, the fables are called “Jewish.” It is likely such fables as those of the Talmud are meant, legends which have been added to the history of the Old Testament, additions to the Scriptures. Though the Talmud was committed to writing a little later, it aimed to collect the legends and traditions which had been long in existence. Endless genealogies. Philo, a learned Alexandrian Jew who wrote a little before Paul's time, built up a whole system on genealogies. The names in the genealogies with him represented the various conditions of the soul. Some have supposed that Paul refers to some foolish fancies of the Gnostics, but those were of later date. Which minister questions. Raise discussions.
5–7. The end of the commandment. The purpose of the charge (Revision) entrusted to you (see verse 3) is love. You must show these teachers that instead of teaching foolish fables they must inculcate love. Out of a pure heart. The three things essential to a pure and holy love are: (1) A pure heart; (2) a good conscience; and (3) sincere faith. 6. From which some having swerved. From love based on these three principles. Unto vain jangling. Are engaging in idle disputes. 7. Desiring to be teachers. To be teachers of law; there is no article. These aspire to a work for which they are totally unfitted. Who has not met the class of men described?
8–11. The law is good, if a man use it lawfully. Its object was not, however, to teach fables, and genealogies, and foolish fancies. The men he opposes asserted that the law was good, but made a wrong use of it. 9. The law is not made for a righteous man. Law (there is no article) is not given to justify righteous men, but to restrain, condemn, and punish the wicked. A long catalogue of sins, common in the Gentile world, are given, which were all condemned by the law. 10. Men-stealers. Those who stole men and sold them into slavery. Contrary to sound doctrine. Everything is forbidden which is opposed to the gospel. 11. According to the glorious gospel. The sound doctrine taught in the gospel, which was his trust.
12–14. Who hath enabled me. Hath given me power to preach this glorious gospel, by counting me faithful, and appointing me to his service. 13. Who was before a blasphemer. Paul never could forget his old life, before he was converted. But I obtained mercy. The reason is that he was honest, sincere in his opposition, being an unbeliever, and acting ignorantly. Had he been a willful sinner, he would never have been chosen. 14. And the grace of our Lord abounded. In the mercy shown to him, for his eyes were opened, he became a believer and was filled with love of Christ.
15, 16. This is a faithful saying. That Christ came to save sinners. He, a sinner saved, was a proof that the saying was faithful. Of whom I am chief. Because he had sinned so grievously in persecuting Christ. He was a great sinner saved. 16. Howbeit. One cause of his obtaining mercy was that in him Christ might show how long-suffering he is. He forgave, saved and blessed the bitter enemy. A pattern. An example for all believers to follow.
17. Now unto the King. The remembrance of the great mercy to him causes him to break forth in praise. Compare Rom. 16:25–27, and 1 Tim. 6:16. Eternal. King of the ages.
18–20. This charge I commit unto thee. The charge referred to in verses 3 and 5. According to the prophecies. Timothy was selected for the ministry by divine direction. One so chosen was chosen according to prophecy, the ordinary meaning being simply a declaration of the divine will. See notes on 1 Cor. 12:28. That thou by them mightest war, etc. For this purpose the prophetic will chose him. 19. Holding faith. Essential to every saint, and especially to a minister. Some, however, had swerved from the faith, and made shipwreck. Faith is an “anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast.” 20. Of whom is Hymenæus. He is mentioned as a heretical teacher in 2 Tim. 2:17. Of Alexander nothing is known. Delivered unto Satan. Excommunicated. Compare 1 Cor. 5:5.
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