The First Epistle to Timothy.

By H. R. Reynolds

Taken from The Expositor Volume 2.3 - 1875



It is scarcely necessary to discuss the question whether the authoritative command which Paul now gives to his "child Timothy" could be any other than that which immediately follows. The use of the middle voice demands some recognition in our translation of verse 18. This is my command to thee, child Timothy, one in. harmony with (κατὰ) the prophecies which, when uttered over thee, went on before thee.

This is one of the numerous hints furnished by the New Testament that the Lord appointed "prophets" as well as " teachers," "apostles," and " evangelists," in his Church. Some of the Christians at Corinth had received the "gift (charism) of prophecy." Prophets at Antioch were the mouthpieces of the Holy Ghost, and directed the missionary energies of the Church (Acts xiii. 1, 2). Agabus and the daughters of Philip prophesied, and thus a living voice uttered the mind of the Spirit (Acts xxi. 8-11). This method of Divine direction was probably referred to on other occasions, when the will of the Spirit was indicated as to the personal activities of the Apostle (Acts xvi. 6, 7).

The various references to this prophetic energy are as a matter of fact apparently limited to expectations and fears which governed the special duties of individuals. The prophecies were far-seeing penetrative glances into the life-work, responsibility, and destiny of certain men. The holy expectations formed by prophetic men about young Timothy when he was admitted into the Jewish Christian community, when he was ordained to be the companion and messenger of Paul, went on before him as "avant-couriers, or heralds," of his useful and self-sacrificing life. We need not suppose that such prophecies have ceased. Ecclesiastical history is full of the records of similar predictions, whether or not they were feigned after the events which they were supposed to have anticipated. The story of every Church is enriched with these blessed hopes, these solemn warnings, these voices of the Spirit. More than this, there must ever be in the heart of the Christian Church a holy prophetic fervour, an outlook into the world, a forecasting of the future, a penetration into the mystery of godliness, which are not due to conclusions of mere sense or of unaided reason, which are nothing less than the free and gracious help given by the Holy Ghost. Now the prophecy which had been uttered over Timothy took the form of an injunction, and set before him an ideal. It was as follows, "That in them, i.e., armed, decked, clothed in these prophetic hopes, these prayers of faith concerning thee, thou mightest war the good warfare, discharge the entire duties of the military chieftain. The emphasis, as Huther admits, is on the words "in them." We may understand this emphasis by remembering that no man ever does a great work for the world without a deep inward consciousness of his being predestined to do it. Cornelius a Lapide says, grandly, "The angels, the heavens, the stars,. and all the creatures of his hands, are called his soldiers. He, their great Captain, is the Lord of hosts." The life of Christian ministers must be a warfare with sin and the devil, and they are God's warriors, and fight out his battle. Again and again Paul returns to the use of this imagery. The "good soldier," and not the Levitical priest, military, and not sacerdotal, functions, supplied him with his most vivid illustrations of and truest parallels to the career of a minister of Christ. St. Basil said,—"A soldier does not build houses, nor purchase lands, nor study reward. He has his rations from the king, he pitches his tent in the open field,. . . . he can meet death if honoured by the royal smile. Come then, Christian soldier, let the thought of thy reward command thee."

We probably are not justified in giving to the next word (ἔχων) the strong meaning of "holding" forth at: a shield, or "grasping" as a sword, or "mooring on" to as an anchor,—but we press forward to "the faith and the good conscience" which Timothy is to "have" as the very condition of all success in his Christian warfare.

Without faith—faith in God, faith in the truth he proclaimed, faith in the cause he defended, faith in the Captain whose behests he executed—he must fail. "Conscience," too must be "good," because active, accurate, and ready in the discharge of its functions; and "good" because the testimony it bears is healthy and hopeful, because it is not defiled, nor offended, nor seared, because its voice is the witness of the Spirit and the promise of the Father, God's own vicegerent, ministering reconciliation. " Which," viz., this "good conscience," "certain persons," reputed to be soldiers of Christ, "have repudiated," have deliberately rejected in their own case,1 "and made shipwreck concerning the faith." There is no spiritual life without moral purity. If a man trifles with conscience he must not presume on faith saving him. His vessel is stranded. Now in verse 20, certain personal illustrations of this spiritual shipwreck are mentioned by name, viz., Hymenceus and Alexander. In the Second Epistle to Timothy (chap. ii. ver. 17), a man bearing the same name with the former of these two, and coupled with Philetus, is charged with disseminating the idea that the resurrection is already passed, and thus, by denying one of the great Christian anticipations of the future, with overthrowing the faith of some. It is not unreasonable to suppose that the same person is referred to in this verse. The strong measures taken by St. Paul may have been resented by Hymenceus and by Alexander, and they may both have gone to greater lengths in their antagonism to the discipline and doctrine of the Apostle. Thus, though the name "Alexander" was a common one, and the (χαλκεύς) "coppersmith" may have been another person altogether from the backslider here denounced, it is fair to conjecture that the Alexander who, with "Hymen<eus," w~s excommunicated by St. Paul, had endeavoured in after years to do him much evil, and was one of the Asiatics who were turned away from him.

This phrase, "I delivered to Satan," may be a mere formula for a solemn expulsion from the Church, and be compared with a like use of the phrase (1 Cor. v. 5), with the additional words (εἰς ὄλεθρον τῆς σαρκὸς), "for the punishment of the flesh." But one peculiarity of the apostolic regimen of the Churches ought not to be kept out of sight The Apostles were gifted with terrible powers of destruction and chastisement as well as of healing. The cases of Ananias, Elymas, and the Corinthian adulterer are recorded, apparently with the purpose of revealing the awful fact, that while it was their privilege to heal disease, to cast out "devils," and to be the medium of conveying the miraculous and extraordinary gifts of the Holy Spirit,. they were also endowed with the faculty of administering signal chastisement and bodily suffering.

This delivery to Satan, whatever were its outward manifestations, was not an inevitable doom. Its purpose was "that they might be instructed (or disciplined) not to blaspheme."

It is important to notice that this terrible power was an apostolic function as incommunicable as the power to impart the Holy Ghost, or to bear autoptic testimony to the resurrection of Christ.

The Greek particle (οὖν) that introduces the detailed injunctions with which Chapter ii. opens has been charged with the fault of implying a logical connection when none can be found. I can hardly go so far as to say, with Bishop Ellicott, that the οὖν could not have been replaced by any other particle, that it is here used in its true resumptive force and that the connection of this advice with the previous argument is perfectly easy. Yet I do not think it is impossible to discover the significance of this logical particle. Paul had called attention to " the faithful saying," that the Son of God had come in to the world to save sinners. Timothy has been summoned to co-;operate with him in this great work. Prayer for all men would lift the soul of Timothy into fellowship with the limitless love of God, who would have all men come to a knowledge of this truth. If Timothy should take the part of a good soldier of Jesus Christ, and should be armed with prophecy and shielded by faith for the great battle with sin, let him begin by praying for all men, because God loves all. If the verb ποιεῖσθάι be in the middle voice (Alford, Huther), the injunction is more personal, and links itself more obviously with the foregoing advice: "I exhort you, in the first place, on the behalf of all men, to make. petitions, prayers, supplications, and thanksgivings."

This fourfold exposition of the nature of intercessory prayer has induced commentators to aim at discriminating the terms, and very varied have been the results. A few of these efforts may help us to a fuller idea of the duty here enjoined on the Christian minister, as the front and beginning of his duty in the hour of his peril and anxiety. The old Greek commentators have restricted the first' word to the deprecation of wrath, the second to the desire for benefit, and the third to a prayer for judgment, to tall upon the, evil. Augustine (Ep. lix.) refers the four terms to the appropriate accompaniments. of "holy communion;" δεήσεις, prayers before "consecration;" προσευχὰς, those that accompany the breaking of bread; ἐντεύξεις, those in which the Church invokes a blessing On herself; and εὖχαριστιας, the gratiarum actio at the conclusion.' Calvin and Bengel say that προσευχή means pretatio generally, and δέησις, rogatio, for some special benefit. Fritzsche and Trench come. to, nearly the same conclusion, that the main distinction between them is that προσενχή is used always of prayer to God, while δέησις is used, also of prayer to man;2 and ἔντευξις is for personal,, as well as relative, intercession. Though. the words partially overlap one another, they are not perfectly equivalent, and in their combination they fill up the whole idea of prayer. The first gives prominence to the sense o£ need, the second to that of communion with God, the third lays emphasis on supplication for others, on the importunity of pleading which is appropriate to the man of God, while the last suggests that even the Christian missionary in a heathen city might not only plead, but give thanks for all men. It is difficult for us always to love all men, to think of all men as equally dear-to God, or to regard all men as equally capable of being blessed. Timothy, after reading this letter, probably walked along the marble colonnade of the great temple ot Artemis, or heard the hum of some twenty thousand Asiatic Greeks crowded in the vast theatre to witness a gladiatorial fight, or encountered a procession of Bacchantes, or turned into the synagogue on the sides of Coressus, and saw the averted looks and felt the bitter hatred of some old friends. We, with some knowledge of the modern world, have to look into the "heils" upon earth, to survey the gold-fields and battle-fields, the African slave-hunts, the throngs and saloons of Pekin, Calcutta, and Paris, the dungeons of Naples, the monasteries of Tibet, and make prayers, petitions, intercessions, and thanksgivings, too, on behalf of all men. In the beginning of the gospel Timothy received this quiet injunction from the Apostle Paul. Now the once whispered word peals like the voice of many waters and mighty thunderings over the whole Church of God.

Verse 2.—Most unnecessary criticism has been hazarded upon the words, ὑπὲρ βασιλέων, "on behalf of kings." Baur has said this is dear proof that the writer belongs to the time of the Antonines, before which period the singular noun would have been used. Ellicott replies justly, if this is to be pressed, the phrase would have been ὑπὲρ τῶν βασιλέων. The words, as they stand, do not point necessarily to the Roman emperors, but to the supreme authorities in the states or provinces in which Timothy's lot might be cast. Christian catholicity is here contrasted with the narrowness of Jewish patriotism. Jews refused to pray for Roman governors3 an event which contributed to their final extinction as a nation.

The next clause is, and "for all who are in an exalted position." Polybius and Josephus use

the same expression to denote a similar idea. The advice thus given was followed by the early Church, and from many sources come confirmations of the practice. One passage from Tertullian's" Apology" (Chap. xxx.) is well known. The testimony is noble, and I am tempted to transcribe a translation of it:

"We Christians, looking up to heaven with outspread hands, because they are free from stain; with uncovered head, because there is nothing to make us. blush; without a prompter, because we pray from, our hearts; do intercede for all the emperors, that their lives may be prolonged, their government be secured to them that their families may be preserved in safety, their senates faithful to them, their armies brave, the people honest, and the whole empire at peace, and for whatever other things are desired by the people or the Caesar."4

The ἵνα, that follows does. not introduce the topic of the prayer, but the reason why intercession and thanksgiving are to be offered for kings and those in exalted station, viz.—"that we may lead a quiet and tranquil life, in all godliness and reverence." The. word translated in this place "life" is, of course, not ζωή, but βίος. It is somewhat remark able that in classical Greek the latter of these words connoted a moral. element not involved in the former, while in the New Testament, βίος is used for the pleasures of life, and the manner and support of daily existence. Ζωή, however, is used for the highest blessedness, and is ascribed to God Himself, probably because it is the great antithesis of death, and therefore of all sin. Here "life" is the "manner of existence," and it is Christian to desire that this be "tranquil and quiet,"5 in reverence and godliness.

St. Paul uses the word εὐσέβεια nine times in these epistles, but it is found also (Acts iii. 12) in one of St. Peter's speeches, and also in his Second Epistle. It is used for. "piety," for the true practical emotion and legitimate exercises of sentiment and worship towards God; while the second word in its adjectival form is frequently met with in these epistles.6 When we pass from the first century to the nineteenth, the wish becomes wider and deeper. Those who occupy exalted stations now, whose will has the greatest influence on the tranquil godliness of our daily life, are not merely our senators or great captains, our princes or statesmen. Our poets, scientists, and journalists, the men who rule opinion, control sentiment, govern fashion, and direct and criticize the thoughts of men, have more direct influence upon our peace than the se-called kings of the earth. Rather, they are kings for whom we should pray.

In verse 3 the great idea of the first verse is resumed. "For this"—that prayer and thanksgiving be made for all men—"is good, excellent, beautiful in itself, and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour." So most commentators, De Wette, Ellicott, Heydenreich, and others. Huther, Alford, Wiesinger, however, make the ἐνώπιον, &c., refer to both adjectives, on the ground that it is thus undoubtedly used in 2 Cor. viii. 21. Since, however, that which is truly καλὸν is that which is in harmony with the Divine will, more strength of meaning is involved by bringing in the more comprehensive thought as a distinct utterance.

In commenting on Chap. i. 1, the usage of the phrase "God o.ur Saviour" was discussed.. It is peculiarly applicable here (verse 4), for the Apostle gives utterance to one of his grandest and most catholic thoughts of God:—Who, (says he) wills that all men should be saved, and should come to a full recognition of the truth. The passage is full of suggestion, and has provoked much divergence of opinion. I will not discuss the interesting question of the relative meaning of θέλω and βούλομαι, and the diverse conclusions at which grammarians have arrived. It seems to me difficult, with Ellicott, to say dogmatically that the word θέλω does not mean "wish," or "desire," or to conclude that it necessarily means the act of volition. It undoubtedly does not limit itself to "wish." Moreover, the "desire" of the Almighty must be indistinguishable from his "purpose." It is more to the point to observe that the passive σωθῆναι, not the active form, σωσᾳι, is used in this sentence. The former word implies the presence of certain conditions affecting the fundamental "will" of God. "All men," as far as provisions of mercy. are concerned, may be saved. Even this way of looking at it was too difficult an idea for the older Predestinarians. Augustine (Enchiridion, cap. iii.) translated it "men of all classes"—"kings and common people, men and women.". Elsewhere he is troubled with the passage thus, "God willeth to save all men, i.e., all who are saved." In his Liber de correptione et gratia, c. 15, he grapples with the text in this fashion, "God wills that all men should be saved by teaching us to wish it.".

St. Thomas, Cajetan, and others—"Because. God offers the gospel to all, He shews his willingness to save all." Damascenus, Ambrose, Jerome, and others draw the distinction between the "antecedent " and" consequent" will of God—urging that the one precedes and the other follows upon God's foreknowledge and experience of human obstinacy or faith.

We cannot honestly restrict the expression in this way. It is true that the Apostle may not have been pondering the condition of the entire human race to the end of time, but he was laying down a principle which, if applicable to individuals in his own day would apply to all men at all subsequent epochs of the world's history. The distinct will of God is the "salvability" of all men, but in the same breath it is shewn that there are human conditions and means by which it is realized. All men are "to come," not to be driven " to a full knowledge of the truth."

Mack here asserts that God's eternal purpose was conditioned by his foreknowledge of the human worshiness and of the personal faith and obedience of those who should come. But surely we cannot say that the reasons of God's predestinations are revealed. It does not throw much light on this dark place to say that the "elect" in Paul's teaching are 'those who believe." The question still returns, How is it that "some believe the things which are spoken and some believe not"? St. Paul shews how the two aspects of this great question find a solution in practical experience, when he said, "The foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal;" "The Lord knoweth them that are his; " and also this [seal], "Let him that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity."

Verse 5.—The γὰρ introduces a justification of the previous assertion, and need not (as Mack in loco) be supposed to give a further reason for prayer on behalf of all men. Because God is one, and not two; because the Godhead is ONE for all men, and there is not one God for Greeks and another for Jews, one for patriarchs and another for apostle one for kings and another for slaves; because God is one and the same, always, to all men and for ever, He wills that all men should be saved.

Further, because there is also one Mediator between God and mm, or of God and men, a man Christ Jesus, God wills that all men should be saved; and Timothy is therefore urged to offer prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings for all men. We begin to see here the ground of the gratitude, and this becomes still more conspicuous in the next sentence.

The great and difficult text (Gal. iii. 20), "Now a mediator is not [a mediator] of one, but God is one,"—with its more than four hundred different interpretations,—does not appear to us to conflict with this grand utterance. In Gal. iii. 20, the μεσίτης does not refer to Christ, but to the general idea of a mediator, which might seem to be inconsistent with the fundamental position, GOD IS ONE, but which was not so in reality. The mediatorial relation spoken of there is that in which the mediator is indeed "one with God," so that the Law and the Promise are not at variance. There is "but one mediator" in the fullest sense, and at the same time "a mediator is not of 0ne," but always involves two parties between whom the mediation is made. Μεσίτης is generally construed with the genitive of the parties who are thus brought into relation with each other. Christ is Mediator because He blends two natures in His own. They were distant from each other, they were morally disunited and disconnected by sin; they were positively hostile. "The carnal mind was enmity against God." "The wrath of God was revealed against all ungodliness." Christ re-establishes the disturbed relationship.

"A man Christ Jesus" is thus declared to be the one Mediator between God and men. The word "God" surely means the same, and is used in the same sense in both clauses of this verse. Christ in his humanity is representative and manifestative of the whole Godhead—of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. His perfect humanity is the image of the invisible God. "In him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily."

He is as much the effluence and organ of the Son, of the Logos, of the Spirit, as of the Father. He is the Mediator of the Father, because He is the Mediator of the Son, and because He gives and baptizes with the Holy Ghost. More than this, his perfect humanity is representative of the entire human race, i.e., of all men; arid hence in a sense in which it could not be spoken of Moses, or of the mediatorial sovereignty of the old covenant, or of any of those who, by faith and prayer, by reverence and sympathy, by likeness to God and fellowship with man, help to bridge the chasm between God and mart It must be allowed that Augustine, while admitting many "advocates," will not give them the name of rnediators.7 This is his name alone, "pro quo nullus interpellat sed ipse pro omnibus, hicunus verusque Mediator."

In verse 6 the purposes subserved by the mediatorial functions of the humanity of Christ are furthermore described, but not the special constitution of his person. He is not here spoken of either as the Son of God or Son of man, but in his humanity, as the image of the Godhead and the representative of man. It is as Such we are told: He gave Himself to be ἀντίλυτρον ὑπὲρ πάντων, a ransom for all; He gave Himself in. one great voluntary act to be the ransom-price on behalf of all men. His advent in our flesh, his consciousness of our need, peril, temptation, and burden; the breaking of his heart under the crushing weight of all the sins He had taken upon Himself; his submission. to. suffering and death, and to the hiding of the Father's face, were his own voluntary acts, were the work and the utterance of the righteous love of the eternal Godhead to man, to all mankind. Independently of the Incarnation, the connection between God and man was simply due to the indestructible relation between Creator and creation. Men out of harmony with God have taken the punishment of their sins and alienation from God upon themselves, and they have perished in their sins. Christ accepted, in his Divine-human life, the whole of the conditions which bound sin and death together, and He broke the spell of sin, and exhausted the curse of death; Αντίλντρον occurs only in this place, but in Matt. xx. 28 we have, "The Son of man came to give his life," λύτρον ἀντὶ πολλῶν; and in Titus ii. 14 we have the verb—λυτρώσηται. The idea of λύτρον is a redemption price of a slave or a captive; while ἀντὶ in composition and in ordinary regimen has the further idea of substitution, ὕπερ represents the object and direction of the act. It can be but an illustration of Christ's most wonderful work as Mediator, yet the peculiarity illustrated must be full of significance. The New Testament writers strain in various ways to compass an adequate expression of the meaning of Christ's life and death. If we confine ourselves here to the specialty of this representation, we must imagine the human race, all men, as held in cruel bondage, their will enslaved, their escape impossible by the evolution of natural laws, by their own effort, while the God-man, "the one Mediator between God and men," gives Himself, delivers Himself into their position of captivity, and peril, and curse-and their bondage is at an end. Of this mysterious fact Paul speaks in an elliptical fashion thus—An event to be testified in its appropriate seasons.8

Every saved man is a new testimony to the fact. The final sufficient testimony to it will be given in the spiritual and eternal world, where this grand stupendous work of the Mediator will be the appeal, the hope, the stability of all who have come to a "full knowledge of its truth."

Verse 7.—Whereunto, i.e., for the purpose of giving this testimony in my own case, I was appointed a herald, an apostle, a teacher of the nations in faith and truth. I speak the truth; I lie not. On this I need only observe that the ideas here used by the writer are thoroughly Pauline, thoughthe precise phraseology is peculiar to the Pastoral Epistles.9 He claims to be a solemnly-accredited messenger, an apostle in the fullest sense, a teacher of the nations, as distinct from the Jewish people, a privileged representative or herald of a Divine authority and love. By proclaiming the truth; he will help men to faith. Nor need he, in face of repeated denials of his apostolic claims, hesitate to asseverate and affirm the reality of his convictions.

In verse 8 one is again tempted to discuss the difference between βούλομαι and θέλω, but I am content to say that,. after comparing the classical and biblical usage, I believe that the distinction urged on the one side by Tittmann, on the other by Buttmann, cannot be maintained in New Testament Greek, that both words are used in certain senses interchangeably. In some cases θέλω cannot mean "will," as Matt. vii. 12; xxvii. 21; and in others it must mean purpose or determination, and is more than desire, Matt. xvii. βούλομαι would seem to have the idea of deliberation. essentially involved in it, yet often it cannot mean more than wish: as in Acts xvii. 20, so also here. Paul can counsel or desire, but he cannot purpose or will the conduct of others. The οὖν gathers the general. argument of the previous verses together.

I wish then that men (perhaps used here in contradistinction to women, of whom he is then led on to speak) in every place, consecrated to the service and worship of the Church, should lift up undefiled hands, without wrath or disputatious distrust. Paul. describes the attitude of prayer10 and a condition of acceptable prayer. We cannot draw nearto God With rebellious spirit, with angry passion, with "hands full of blood" or "bribes," i.e., with defiled conscience and unrepeated sin. It is in the desire for purity, in the spirit of forgiveness, and in the intensity of faith, that, because Christ is our Mediator and our Ransom, and the Eternal God loves us, and has testified the fact to us, we must draw near to Him. Thus the apostle justifies his main request, and reveals the intensity and reasonableness of his conviction, that "men ought always to pray and not to faint." The mightiest and the thoughtfullest of the teachers of the nations calls the world to prayer. The young evangelist, "first of all," is to pray for all; while all men everywhere are to lift up holy hands,




1) Schleiermacher contends that while Paul elsewhere uses the word in its active sense, and quite correctly, here he uses it of an object within the soul, and wrongly. It is true that the middle form of this verb is used by Homer and the LXX. of persons and in an active sense; but if. Acts vii. 27-39; xiii. 46. The "conscience" is elsewhere spoken of as being offended, defiled1 &c., and otherwise objectified.

2) Cf. German Gebet and Bitte. In Rom. x. 1 δέῃσις is equal to ἔντευξις. See also 2 Cor. i. 19. προσευχὴ is joined with δεόμενος in Rom: i. 10; and in 1 Tim. iv. 5 the word ἔντευξις is used very generally.

3) Josephus, "B. J.'' ii. 17. 2.

4) Cf. Justin, "Apol." ii. 64. Eusebius, "H. E." viii. 17, "Apos. Const.," contain remarkable specimens of similar prayers.

5) These words are found in classical Greek together.

6) C.f. Phil. i. 8.

7) Cornelius, though he here takes occasion to argue in favour of the advocacy of the saints, gives (he says) the heretics the right-hand of fellowship in refusing the name of mediator to the saints.

8) There is difference of reading as to the text of this passage. A leaves out To τὸ μαρτύριον. D, F, G, add οὗ before τὸ Eleven MSS., according to Mack, read τὸ μυστὴριον, which are not, however, mentioned by Tischendorf or Tregelles. Cf., for the construction the apposition of a word with a sentence Rom. xii. 1.

9) Cf. 2 Tim. i. 11; 1 Cor. ix. 27; 2 Cor. iv. 5; and the frequent use of κηρύσσω.

10) Cf. Clem. Rom,: Ep. Cor. c. xxix; 1 Kings viii. 22: Psa. cxl. 2; Lam ii. 19; iii. 41.