The First to Timothy 1:1-20

1  Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus, our hope,+  to Timothy,+ a genuine child+ in the faith: May you have undeserved kindness and mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.  Just as I encouraged you to stay in Ephʹe·sus when I was about to go to Mac·e·doʹni·a, so I do now, in order for you to command certain ones not to teach different doctrine,  nor to pay attention to false stories+ and to genealogies. Such things end up in nothing useful+ but merely give rise to speculations rather than providing anything from God in connection with faith.  Really, the objective of this instruction is love+ out of a clean heart+ and out of a good conscience+ and out of faith+ without hypocrisy.+  By deviating from these things, some have been turned aside to meaningless talk.+  They want to be teachers+ of law, but they do not understand either the things they are saying or the things they insist on so strongly.  Now we know that the Law is fine if one applies it properly,  recognizing that law is made, not for a righteous man, but for those who are lawless+ and rebellious, ungodly and sinners, disloyal* and profane, murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, manslayers, 10  sexually immoral people, men who practice homosexuality, kidnappers, liars, perjurers,* and everything else that is in opposition to the wholesome* teaching+ 11  according to the glorious good news of the happy God, with which I was entrusted.+ 12  I am grateful to Christ Jesus our Lord, who imparted power to me, because he considered me faithful by assigning me to a ministry,+ 13  although formerly I was a blasphemer and a persecutor and an insolent man.+ Nevertheless, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and with a lack of faith. 14  But the undeserved kindness of our Lord abounded exceedingly along with faith and the love that is in Christ Jesus. 15  This saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.+ Of these, I am foremost.+ 16  Nevertheless, I was shown mercy so that by means of me as the foremost case, Christ Jesus might demonstrate all his patience, making me an example to those who are going to rest their faith on him for everlasting life.+ 17  Now to the King of eternity,+ incorruptible,+ invisible,+ the only God,+ be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. 18  This instruction I entrust to you, my child Timothy, in harmony with the prophecies that were made about you, that by these you may go on waging the fine warfare,+ 19  holding faith and a good conscience,+ which some have thrust aside, resulting in the shipwreck of their faith. 20  Hy·me·naeʹus+ and Alexander are among these, and I have handed them over to Satan+ so that they may be taught by discipline not to blaspheme.


Or “lacking loyal love.”
Or “those who swear falsely.”
Or “healthful; beneficial.”

Study Notes

The First to Timothy: Titles such as this were apparently not part of the original text. Ancient manuscripts show that they were added later, doubtless to make it easier to identify the Bible books. For example, the well-known manuscript Codex Sinaiticus of the fourth century C.E. contains the title “First to Timothy” at the end of the letter. Other early manuscripts use variations of this title.

God our Savior: In Paul’s first letter to Timothy and in his letter to Titus, the term “Savior” is used six times with reference to Jehovah God (here and at 1Ti 2:3; 4:10; Tit 1:3; 2:10; 3:4) compared to only twice in the rest of the Christian Greek Scriptures (Lu 1:47; Jude 25). In the Hebrew Scriptures, Jehovah is often described as the Savior of his people, Israel. (Ps 106:8, 10, 21; Isa 43:3, 11; 45:15, 21; Jer 14:8) Since Jesus is the one through whom Jehovah saves mankind from sin and death, Jesus too is referred to as “Savior.” (Ac 5:31; 2Ti 1:10) He is also called “the Chief Agent of . . . salvation.” (Heb 2:10) The name Jesus, given to God’s Son by angelic direction, means “Jehovah Is Salvation” because, said the angel, “he will save his people from their sins.” (Mt 1:21 and study note) So Jesus’ very name emphasizes that Jehovah is the Source of the salvation that is accomplished through Jesus. Therefore, both the Father and the Son are spoken of as being a Savior. (Tit 2:11-13; 3:4-6) Both the Hebrew and the Greek (in the Septuagint) terms for “savior” are also used of humans who were raised up as “saviors to rescue” God’s people from their enemies.​—Ne 9:27; Jg 3:9, 15.

Christ Jesus, our hope: Paul saw Jehovah as “the God who gives hope” (Ro 15:13), but here he reminds Timothy that it is by means of Christ Jesus that Jehovah has given Christians this trustworthy hope. Jesus fulfills all of Jehovah’s promises and makes the hope of everlasting life for humans possible.​—See 2Co 1:20 and study notes; 1Pe 1:3, 4.

through him is the “Amen” said to God: The word rendered “Amen” is a transliteration of a Hebrew word that means “so be it,” or “surely.” At Re 3:14, Jesus refers to himself as “the Amen.” This is because when he was on earth, he fulfilled all that was prophesied about him. Also, as a result of his faithful course and sacrificial death, he is the personal guarantee, or the “Amen,” that all of God’s declarations will be brought to reality. This assurance adds meaning to the “Amen” said at the close of prayers to God through Christ.​—See study note on 1Co 14:16.

Jesus: Corresponds to the Hebrew name Jeshua or Joshua, a shortened form of Jehoshua, meaning “Jehovah Is Salvation.”

they have become “yes” by means of him: That is, God’s promises have become affirmed, fulfilled, realized in Jesus. It is by means of him​—by all that he taught and by what he did​—that all the promises recorded in the Hebrew Scriptures were fulfilled. Jesus’ flawless integrity while on earth cleared up all possible cause for doubt concerning Jehovah’s promises.

Timothy: In the Bible, this is the first mention of Timothy, whose Greek name means “One Who Honors God.” It is not known precisely when Timothy embraced Christianity. However, his believing Jewish mother, Eunice, and probably also his grandmother Lois taught him from his early childhood “the holy writings” found in the Hebrew Scriptures, as the Jews understood them. (2Ti 1:5; 3:15) It is very likely that Eunice and Lois became Christians when Paul visited Lystra during his first missionary tour. Timothy’s father was called a Greek, meaning either that his ancestors were from Greece or that he was a member of another race. He was apparently not a Christian. During Paul’s second missionary tour, in late 49 or early 50 C.E., Paul came to Lystra, apparently Timothy’s hometown. At that time, Timothy was a Christian disciple who “was well-reported-on by the brothers in Lystra and Iconium.” (Ac 16:2) Timothy may then have been in his late teens or early 20’s, a conclusion supported by Paul’s statement to Timothy some 10 or 15 years later when he said: “Never let anyone look down on your youth.” (1Ti 4:12, likely written between 61 and 64 C.E.) This indicates that even then, Timothy was a relatively young man.

May you have undeserved kindness and peace: Paul uses this greeting in 11 of his letters. (1Co 1:3; 2Co 1:2; Ga 1:3; Eph 1:2; Php 1:2; Col 1:2; 1Th 1:1; 2Th 1:2; Tit 1:4; Phm 3) He uses a very similar greeting in his letters to Timothy but adds the quality “mercy.” (1Ti 1:2; 2Ti 1:2) Scholars have noted that instead of using the common word for “Greetings!” (khaiʹrein), Paul often uses the similar sounding Greek term (khaʹris), expressing his desire for the congregations to enjoy a full measure of “undeserved kindness.” (See study note on Ac 15:23.) The mention of “peace” reflects the common Hebrew greeting, sha·lohmʹ. (See study note on Mr 5:34.) By using the terms “undeserved kindness and peace,” Paul is apparently highlighting the restored relationship that Christians enjoy with Jehovah God by means of the ransom. When Paul describes where the generous kindness and peace come from, he mentions God our Father separately from the Lord Jesus Christ.

Timothy: Meaning “One Who Honors God.”​—See study note on Ac 16:1.

a genuine child: With this endearing phrase, Paul expresses his warm fatherly feelings toward Timothy. The Scriptures do not state whether Paul introduced the good news to Timothy and his family. However, when Timothy was relatively young, he became Paul’s traveling companion. (Ac 16:1-4) Therefore, by the time Paul wrote this letter, he viewed Timothy as his child in the faith, that is, his spiritual child. (Compare Tit 1:4.) That special relationship had been developing for ten or more years.​—1Co 4:17; Php 2:20-22.

May you have undeserved kindness and mercy and peace: See study note on Ro 1:7.

to stay in Ephesus: This verse provides valuable background information on Paul’s first letter to Timothy. When Timothy received the letter, he was serving as an overseer in the congregation in Ephesus. Paul knew that congregation well. (Ac 19:1, 9, 10; 20:31) He encourages Timothy to stay in Ephesus “to command certain ones not to teach different doctrine.” Paul wrote this letter about 61-64 C.E., that is, after he was released from house arrest in Rome but before his final imprisonment there.​—See Introduction to 1 Timothy and Media Gallery, “Paul’s Journeys After c. 61 C.E.

not to teach different doctrine: Paul entrusts Timothy with considerable authority within the congregation in Ephesus​—to command certain ones to stop teaching doctrines that differed from the inspired teachings of Jesus and of those whom Jesus appointed. Paul uses a term, here rendered “to command,” that can convey the sense of urgent obligation. This directive provides a glimpse of Paul’s ongoing fight against apostasy. (See study note on 2Th 2:3.) Some years earlier, about 56 C.E., Paul spoke to the elders from Ephesus and warned them about “oppressive wolves” who would rise from among the responsible men and who would “speak twisted things to draw away the disciples after themselves.” (Ac 20:29, 30) In other inspired letters, Paul warned Christians not to listen to “another sort of good news.” (Ga 1:6 and study note; 2Co 11:4) Obviously, some of those promoting such false teachings were now present in the Ephesian congregation.

the apostasy comes first: Some Thessalonian Christians were being misled regarding “the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ” and “the day of Jehovah.” So Paul reminds them of two events that must happen first: (1) The apostasy will come (see study note on the apostasy in this verse) and (2) “the man of lawlessness” will be revealed. (2Th 2:1-3) Paul’s expectation that a widespread apostasy would afflict the Christian congregation harmonizes with Jesus’ illustration about the wheat and the weeds. (Mt 13:24-30, 36-43) Paul gave other prophetic warnings that apostates would infiltrate the congregation; later, the apostle Peter did so as well.​—Ac 20:29, 30; 1Ti 4:1-3; 2Ti 4:3, 4; 2Pe 2:1-3.

another sort of good news: “False brothers” were preaching (Ga 2:4) a different teaching that was “something beyond” what the Galatian Christians had learned. The good news that Paul had declared to them included “the good news about the Christ.” (Ga 1:7, 8) It had to do with the freedom that Christ brings​—freedom from bondage to inherited sin and freedom from bondage to the Mosaic Law. (Ga 3:13; 5:1, 13 and study note) That good news was “not of human origin.”​—Ga 1:8, 9, 11, 12; 2Co 11:4; see study note on Ga 1:8.

irreverent false stories: The “false stories” (an expression rendered from the Greek word myʹthos) circulating in Paul’s day were “irreverent,” or profane. They violated God’s holy standards and were contrary to sacred, wholesome truths. (1Ti 6:20; 2Ti 1:13) These false stories were products of the imagination and were contrary to fact; thus, they were worthless.​—See study note on 1Ti 1:4.

false stories: At 2Ti 4:4, Paul contrasts “false stories” with “the truth.” One lexicon defines the Greek word myʹthos, here rendered “false stories,” as “legend, fable . . . fiction, myth.” In the Christian Greek Scriptures, the word is always used in the negative sense. Paul may have had in mind fanciful legends that promoted religious lies or some sensational rumors. (Tit 1:14; 2Pe 1:16; see study note on 1Ti 4:7.) He instructs Christians not to pay attention to, or occupy themselves with, such false stories. These offered no real benefit and could turn the minds of the Christians away from the truth found in God’s Word.​—2Ti 1:13.

genealogies: Paul may be referring to personal pedigrees, that is, the records of a family’s line of descent. He warns Christians that they should not be sidetracked into studying and discussing such matters. Some may have done so out of a sense of pride in their ancestry or to show off their knowledge. However, pursuing such a subject contributed nothing useful to Christian faith. Jewish Christians had no compelling reason to trace their personal ancestry, since God did not recognize any distinction between Jew and non-Jew in the Christian congregation. (Ga 3:28) However, it was important for Christians to be able to trace the descent of Christ through the line of David.​—Mt 1:1-17; Lu 3:23-38.

speculations: Paul here mentions one danger that arises from paying attention to false stories and genealogies. (See study notes on false stories and genealogies in this verse.) He uses a Greek word that one lexicon defines as “useless speculation.” Another reference work describes such speculations as “questionings to which no answer can be given, which are not worth answering.” Paul contrasts them with “anything from God in connection with faith.” So Paul is not here referring to sound reasoning based on solid Scriptural support, which can strengthen faith. (Ac 19:8; 1Co 1:10) Rather, he warns against empty questions and dubious answers that are more likely to divide Christ’s followers than to unite them.

the end: The Greek word teʹlos, generally rendered “end,” has different shades of meaning. It can refer to the termination of something in contrast with the beginning. (Mt 24:14; Mr 3:26; Re 21:6) This meaning fits well here, for the Mosaic Law came to its complete finish after Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension to heaven. (Joh 1:17; Ro 6:14; Ga 5:18; Col 2:14, 16, 17) However, teʹlos may also refer to “the end” in the sense of goal or objective. (Compare 1Ti 1:5, where this Greek word is rendered “objective.”) Since Paul described the Mosaic Law as a “guardian leading to Christ,” it can be said that Christ is the objective or goal aimed at by the Law. (Ga 3:24) So in this context, teʹlos apparently conveys both ideas.

pure in heart: Inwardly clean, referring to moral and spiritual cleanness, including one’s affections, desires, and motives.

conscience: The Greek word sy·neiʹde·sis is drawn from the words syn (with) and eiʹde·sis (knowledge). Thus, the Greek term literally means “coknowledge” or “knowledge with oneself.” Here Paul explains that even a human who knows nothing about God’s laws has a conscience, that is, a capacity for looking at himself and rendering judgment about his own behavior. However, only a conscience that is trained by God’s Word and that is sensitive to God’s will can correctly judge matters. The Scriptures show that not all consciences operate properly. A person can have a conscience that is weak (1Co 8:12), one that is seared (1Ti 4:2), or one that is defiled (Tit 1:15). Regarding the operation of his conscience, Paul says: “My conscience bears witness with me in holy spirit.” (Ro 9:1) Paul’s goal was to “maintain a clear conscience before God and men.”​—Ac 24:16.

hypocrites: The Greek word hy·po·kri·tesʹ originally referred to Greek (and later Roman) stage actors who wore large masks designed to amplify the voice. The term came to be used in a metaphoric sense to apply to anyone hiding his real intentions or personality by playing false or putting on a pretense. Jesus here calls the Jewish religious leaders “hypocrites.”​—Mt 6:5, 16.

objective: Or “goal; aim.”​—See study note on Ro 10:4.

instruction: Or “mandate; order; command.” Paul is here referring to what he told Timothy earlier, namely, “to command certain ones” in the congregation “not to teach different doctrine, nor to pay attention to false stories.” (1Ti 1:3, 4) According to one lexicon, the word used here conveys the sense of “someth[ing] that must be done.” Paul uses this and related expressions several times in his letter.​—1Ti 1:18; 4:11; 5:7; 6:13, 17.

love out of a clean heart: In this verse, Paul connects unselfish Christian love with “a clean heart,” “a good conscience,” and “faith without hypocrisy.” A Christian with a clean heart, or inner person, is clean morally and spiritually. He has pure motives and is completely devoted to Jehovah. (Mt 5:8 and study note) His clean heart motivates him to show true love in his relationships with others.

love . . . out of a good conscience: God created humans with a conscience, the capacity to examine themselves and to judge their own thoughts, feelings, and actions. Imperfect humans need to use God’s Word to train their conscience so that it helps them to evaluate matters correctly, according to Jehovah’s standards. A Christian with a good conscience, one that is trained according to God’s will, need not feel guilty over past sins, for he has repented and turned away from doing bad. He is doing what is right. (1Pe 3:16, 21; see study note on Ro 2:15.) Paul here shows that a good conscience helps a person to express unselfish love.

love . . . out of faith without hypocrisy: Paul was well-acquainted with the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and the damaging results of their course. (Ac 26:4, 5; compare Mt 23:13.) He cautions Timothy against such insincerity and pretense. (1Ti 4:1, 2) The Greek words conveying the idea of hypocrisy and hypocrites originally referred to stage actors who covered their faces with masks so that they could impersonate several different characters during a play. (See study note on Mt 6:2.) The Greek word here rendered “without hypocrisy” has been defined as “without play-acting”; “without pretending like an actor.” So Paul points out that having sincere and genuine faith helps Christians to show unselfish love.

They want to be teachers of law: The men Paul mentions were apparently motivated by a selfish craving for the prominence and authority that some felt comes with being a teacher in the congregation. Such ambitious men were neither qualified nor appointed to shepherd and teach the flock of God. On the other hand, Christian men who were moved by a loving desire to serve others by teaching them and who met the scriptural qualifications were “desirous of a fine work.”​—1Ti 3:1.

the Law is fine if one applies it properly: In Paul’s day, some were teaching that Christians should closely adhere to regulations in the Mosaic Law, as if those regulations were still the key to salvation. Paul knew that such teachers applied the Law improperly. Christians are not under the Mosaic Law, and they exercise faith in Christ’s ransom as the means of salvation. (Ga 2:15, 16) Still, the Mosaic Law is useful to Christians, provided they apply its principles “properly” (lit., “lawfully”). They benefit from studying the Law, since it is “a shadow of the good things to come” in connection with Christ Jesus. (Heb 10:1) The Law also demonstrates mankind’s need for the atonement sacrifice of Jesus Christ. (Ga 3:19) Above all, it reveals Jehovah’s thinking on matters.​—Ex 22:21; Le 19:15, 18; Ro 7:12.

the law of the Christ: This law includes all that Jesus taught, as well as what God’s spirit directed Christ’s followers to write in the Christian Greek Scriptures. As foretold by Jeremiah, this law replaced the Mosaic Law covenant. (Jer 31:31-34; Heb 8:6-13) Christ did not originate these laws and principles; he received them from the great Lawgiver, Jehovah. (Joh 14:10) The expression “the law of the Christ” appears only here in the Christian Greek Scriptures, but similar wording, “law toward Christ,” is used at 1Co 9:21. This law is also referred to as “the perfect law that belongs to freedom” (Jas 1:25), “the law of a free people” (Jas 2:12), and “the law of faith.”​—Ro 3:27.

law is made, not for a righteous man: Those who embraced Christianity were righteous in that they adopted God’s standards of right and wrong. They willingly yielded to the influence of God’s spirit. (Ga 5:16-23) Thus, they did not need many detailed laws, such as those found in the Mosaic Law. Instead, Christians followed the superior “law of the Christ,” which is based on love.​—Ga 6:2 and study note.

sexually immoral people: This expression renders the Greek noun porʹnos, which is related to the noun por·neiʹa (sexual immorality, 1Co 5:1) and the verb por·neuʹo (to practice sexual immorality, 1Co 6:18). (See Glossary, “Sexual immorality.”) From ancient times, Corinth was known as a place where people had a morally decadent lifestyle and worshipped the goddess Aphrodite. That worship promoted sensuality and immorality. (Compare study note on 1Co 7:2.) Paul indicates that some Christians in Corinth had previously led an immoral lifestyle but had changed their conduct and were now good associates.​—1Co 6:11.

sexually immoral people: See study notes on 1Co 5:9; Ga 5:19.

men who practice homosexuality: Or “men who have sex with men.” Lit., “men who lie with men.”​—See study note on 1Co 6:9.

men who submit to homosexual acts, men who practice homosexuality: The Greek text here uses two different words. The first word (Greek, ma·la·kosʹ) has the basic meaning of “soft” (compare Lu 7:25), but in this context, it apparently refers to males who assume the passive role in a homosexual relationship, the effeminate one. Thus, it has been rendered men who submit to homosexual acts. The second word (Greek, ar·se·no·koiʹtes), with the literal meaning “men who lie with men,” also occurs at 1Ti 1:10. It apparently refers to men who assume the active role in homosexual activity. Therefore, it has been translated men who practice homosexuality or, alternatively, “men who have sex with men.” By specifically mentioning the passive and active roles, Paul made it clear that God disapproves of all homosexual acts.

sexual immorality: The Bible uses the Greek word por·neiʹa as a general term to refer to all sexual activity that is unlawful according to God’s standards. One lexicon defines por·neiʹa as “prostitution, unchastity, fornication” and adds that this word is used when speaking “of every kind of unlawful sexual intercourse.” Such unlawful activity would include not only prostitution, adultery, and sexual relations between unmarried individuals but also homosexual acts and bestiality, all of which are condemned in the Scriptures. (Le 18:6, 22, 23; 20:15, 16; 1Co 6:9; see Glossary.) Jesus showed that sexual immorality is wicked by classing it with murder, thievery, and blasphemy.​—Mt 15:19, 20; Mr 7:21-23.

Happy: The Greek word ma·kaʹri·os used here does not simply refer to a state of lightheartedness, as when a person is enjoying a good time. Rather, when used of humans, it refers to the condition of one who is blessed by God and enjoys his favor. The term is also used as a description of God and of Jesus in his heavenly glory.​—1Ti 1:11; 6:15.

the glorious good news about the Christ: The good news can truly be termed “glorious” in view of its content. This message describes the marvelous development of God’s sacred secret in connection with Christ (Col 1:27), the role of his corulers in the Kingdom (1Th 2:12; Re 1:6), as well as the wonderful future for all mankind promised by God (Re 21:3, 4). It is also possible to render this Greek phrase “the good news about the glory of the Christ.”

the glorious knowledge of God: As used in the Bible, the original-language verbs for “to know” and the corresponding nouns for “knowledge” often refer to more than simply knowing facts or having information. They may also convey the idea of knowing someone personally, acknowledging his position, and obeying him. (See study note on Joh 17:3.) In the context of 2Co 4:6, the “knowledge of God” is connected with the spiritual light that God gives his servants by means of Christ. The knowledge of God can be called “glorious” because it involves God’s glorious personality and qualities. The Greek expression rendered “the glorious knowledge of God” can also be rendered “the knowledge of the glory of God,” emphasizing that God’s glory is the focus of this knowledge. A similar expression appears at Hab 2:14, where it says: “The earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of Jehovah.”

the words of the Lord Jesus: The statement following these words is quoted by the apostle Paul only, although the sense of those words is found in the Gospels and in the rest of the inspired Scriptures. (Ps 41:1; Pr 11:25; 19:17; Mt 10:8; Lu 6:38) Paul may have been told this quote orally, either by someone who heard Jesus say it or by the resurrected Jesus himself or in a divine revelation.​—Ac 22:6-15; 1Co 15:6, 8.

Happy: The Greek word ma·kaʹri·os occurs 50 times in the Christian Greek Scriptures. Paul here describes “the happiness of the man to whom God counts righteousness apart from works.” (Ro 4:6) This Greek term is used to describe God (1Ti 1:11) and to describe Jesus in his heavenly glory (1Ti 6:15). It is also the term used in the famous statements on happiness in the Sermon on the Mount. (Mt 5:3-11; Lu 6:20-22) Here at Ro 4:7, 8, “happy” is quoted from Ps 32:1, 2. This type of pronouncement is common in the Hebrew Scriptures. (De 33:29; 1Ki 10:8; Job 5:17; Ps 1:1; 2:12; 33:12; 94:12; 128:1; 144:15; Da 12:12) The Hebrew and the Greek expressions used for “happy” do not refer simply to a state of lightheartedness, as when a person is enjoying a good time. From a Scriptural standpoint, to be truly happy a person needs to cultivate love for God, to serve him faithfully, and to enjoy his favor and blessing.

the glorious good news: The good news can truly be described as “glorious” in view of its magnificent content. For example, it reveals the glorious personality and qualities of Jehovah God, the Source of this marvelous message. By means of this good news, “the happy God” has provided mankind with the glorious hope of salvation through Jesus Christ. Little wonder, then, that Paul felt privileged to be entrusted with such good news.​—See study notes on 2Co 4:4, 6.

the happy God: Paul here shows that happiness is a defining quality of Jehovah’s personality. God has existed for all eternity and has always been happy, even when he was alone. (Mal 3:6) His relationship with his firstborn Son brought him added happiness. (Pr 8:30) Although Satan’s rebellion and slander have caused grief and pain, Jehovah remains happy and rejoices over the faithfulness of his loyal worshippers. (Pr 27:11) When Paul met with the elders of Ephesus, he quoted Jesus’ words: “There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.” (Ac 20:35 and study note) These words offer one reason why Jehovah is “the happy God”; he is the foremost Giver in the universe. (Ps 145:16; Isa 42:5) As imitators of Jehovah, his worshippers can also be happy. (Eph 5:1) The one who daily reads the law of Jehovah is called “happy” at Ps 1:1, 2, where the Septuagint uses the same Greek word that Paul uses here. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus repeatedly shows that his followers could be happy, even during times of distress and persecution.​—Mt 5:3-11; see study notes on Mt 5:3; Ro 4:7.

I am grateful to Christ Jesus: Paul viewed his assignment “to a ministry” as proof of Christ Jesus’ mercy, love, and trust in him. Previously, he had been “a persecutor and an insolent man,” even approving of the murder of Stephen. (1Ti 1:13; Ac 6:8; 7:58; 8:1, 3; 9:1, 2) To show his gratefulness, Paul was eager to minister to the spiritual needs of others. For example, he enthusiastically preached the good news.​—See study note on Ro 11:13.

my ministry: When Jesus was on earth, he commissioned his followers to make disciples of people of all the nations. (Mt 28:19, 20) Paul called this work “the ministry of the reconciliation.” In Paul’s words, “we beg” a world alienated from God to “become reconciled to God.” (2Co 5:18-20) Paul made the most of his Christian ministry to the nations, but at the same time, his earnest desire was that some Jews would also be moved to take the necessary steps to gain salvation. (Ro 11:14) The basic meaning of the Greek word di·a·ko·niʹa is “service” and the related verb is sometimes used in the Bible with regard to personal services, such as waiting on tables. (Lu 4:39; 17:8; Joh 2:5) Here it refers to the Christian ministry. This is an elevated form of service, that of ministering to the spiritual needs of others.

the undeserved kindness of God: In view of Paul’s background as a resister of Jesus and his followers (Ac 9:3-5), Paul had every reason to emphasize Jehovah’s undeserved kindness. (See Glossary, “Undeserved kindness.”) Paul realized that it was only by God’s undeserved kindness that he was able to carry out his ministry. (1Co 15:10; 1Ti 1:13, 14) When meeting with the elders from Ephesus, he speaks of this quality twice. (Ac 20:24, 32) In his 14 letters, Paul mentions “undeserved kindness” some 90 times, far more than any other Bible writer. For example, he refers to the undeserved kindness of God or of Jesus in the opening salutations of all his letters except his letter to the Hebrews, and he uses the expression in the closing remarks of every letter.

the undeserved kindness of our Lord: Paul was ever conscious of his sinful past as a persecutor of Christians, but here he chooses to focus on the positive outcome​—that he nonetheless became a recipient of Jehovah’s undeserved kindness. (See study notes on Ac 13:43; 1Co 15:10; Ga 2:20.) Paul stresses the point by saying that Jehovah’s kindness abounded exceedingly in his case. He uses a Greek verb that could describe how a container becomes so full that it overflows, or runs over. One reference work defines the word as “to abound over and beyond.”

who loved me and handed himself over for me: Here Paul’s use of the pronoun “me” focuses on the benefits of Christ’s gift to each individual who chooses to exercise faith in Jesus. (See study note on Joh 3:16.) Paul understood and accepted Christ’s great love for him as an individual, so he was motivated to be loving and warm and generous to others. (See study note on 2Co 5:14; compare 2Co 6:11-13; 12:15.) He appreciated that Jesus had called him to be a disciple even though he had opposed Christ’s followers. Paul understood that Jesus, as an expression of love, gave up his life not only for righteous people but also for those who were weighed down with sin. (Compare Mt 9:12, 13.) While highlighting that Christ’s sacrifice applied to him personally, Paul clearly knew that the ransom would benefit an untold number of people.

by God’s undeserved kindness I am what I am: Paul here humbly acknowledges that he could not take credit for whatever he had accomplished in Jehovah’s service. He emphasizes the point by mentioning God’s “undeserved kindness” three times in this verse. (See Glossary, “Undeserved kindness.”) That emphasis provides the context for Paul’s statement that he labored more than all of them, meaning the other apostles. Paul appreciated God’s mercy in choosing him, a former persecutor of Christians, to become an apostle. (1Ti 1:12-16) To show his gratitude, Paul labored with the utmost intensity to carry out his assignment. He traveled vast distances over land and sea to spread the good news, establishing numerous congregations. In connection with his ministry, Paul was inspired to write 14 letters that became part of the Christian Greek Scriptures. Jehovah also blessed him with the gift of speaking in tongues; with visions; and with the ability to perform other miracles, including a resurrection. (Ac 20:7-10; 1Co 14:18; 2Co 12:1-5) Paul viewed all his service and these blessings as undeserved kindness from Jehovah.

Of these, I am foremost: Paul’s words here about sinners indicate both the depth of his humility and the power of his hope. He humbly refused to minimize his past sinful course of persecuting Christians. Still, despite his enormous sins, he was confident in his hope because he knew that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.”​—Compare Mt 9:13.

making me an example: Paul here shifts his focus from the benefits he gained from Christ’s mercy to the way that others may benefit from Paul’s example. Christians who learn about the mercy that God showed to Paul are reassured that forgiveness of sins is possible. As “the foremost case,” Paul became living proof that God’s mercy shown through Christ can cover even serious sins if the sinner is truly repentant.

the eternal purpose: In this context, the term “purpose” refers to a specific goal, or aim, that can be achieved in more than one way. It relates to Jehovah’s determination to accomplish what he originally intended for mankind and the earth, despite the rebellion in Eden. (Ge 1:28) Immediately after that rebellion, Jehovah formed this purpose in connection with the Christ, Jesus our Lord. He foretold the appearance of an “offspring” who would undo the damage done by the rebels. (Ge 3:15; Heb 2:14-17; 1Jo 3:8) It is an “eternal purpose” (lit., “purpose of the ages”) for at least two reasons: (1) Jehovah, “the King of eternity [lit., “the King of the ages”]” (1Ti 1:17), has allowed ages of time to pass before that purpose is fully realized, and (2) the results of the outworking of this purpose will endure into all eternity.​—See study note on Ro 8:28.

Amen: Or “So be it.” The Greek word a·menʹ is a transliteration of a Hebrew term derived from the root word ’a·manʹ, meaning “to be faithful, to be trustworthy.” (See Glossary.) “Amen” was said in agreement to an oath, a prayer, or a statement. Writers of the Christian Greek Scriptures often used it to express agreement with some form of praise to God, as Paul does here. (Ro 16:27; Eph 3:21; 1Pe 4:11) In other cases, it is used to emphasize the writer’s wish that God extend favor toward the recipients of the letter. (Ro 15:33; Heb 13:20, 21) It is also used to indicate that the writer earnestly agrees with what is expressed.​—Re 1:7; 22:20.

the King of eternity: Lit., “the King of the ages.” This title applies exclusively to Jehovah God. He is also called “the Ancient of Days.” (Da 7:9, 13, 22) He existed for an eternity before anyone or anything else in the universe came into being, and his existence stretches forever into the future. (Ps 90:2) Jehovah is thus the only one who can form an “eternal purpose” and fulfill it. (Eph 3:11 and study note) He is also the only one who can grant “everlasting life.” (Joh 17:3; Tit 1:2) The title “King of eternity” also appears at Re 15:3 as part of what is called “the song of Moses the slave of God and the song of the Lamb.” According to Ex 15:18, Moses and the Israelites sang: “Jehovah will rule as king forever and ever.”​—Ps 10:16; 29:10; 146:10.

Amen: See study note on Ro 1:25.

instruction: Or “mandate; order; command.” Paul is here referring to what he told Timothy earlier, namely, “to command certain ones” in the congregation “not to teach different doctrine, nor to pay attention to false stories.” (1Ti 1:3, 4) According to one lexicon, the word used here conveys the sense of “someth[ing] that must be done.” Paul uses this and related expressions several times in his letter.​—1Ti 1:18; 4:11; 5:7; 6:13, 17.

child: Used by Jesus as a term of endearment.​—2Ti 1:2; Tit 1:4; Phm 10.

a genuine child: With this endearing phrase, Paul expresses his warm fatherly feelings toward Timothy. The Scriptures do not state whether Paul introduced the good news to Timothy and his family. However, when Timothy was relatively young, he became Paul’s traveling companion. (Ac 16:1-4) Therefore, by the time Paul wrote this letter, he viewed Timothy as his child in the faith, that is, his spiritual child. (Compare Tit 1:4.) That special relationship had been developing for ten or more years.​—1Co 4:17; Php 2:20-22.

through a prophecy: This may refer to one of the prophecies made about Timothy when Paul visited Lystra during his second missionary journey. These prophecies apparently focused on Timothy’s future role in the Christian congregation. (See study note on 1Ti 1:18.) Thus it was made clear that Jehovah’s spirit was directing the course that Timothy would take in his ministry. In response, the elders in Lystra readily agreed to set Timothy apart for special service and send him along with Paul.​—Ac 16:1-5.

we do not wage warfare: Lit., “we are not doing military service.” As at 2Co 10:3-6, Paul often used military terminology to describe the spiritual warfare that he and his fellow believers needed to wage to protect the congregation from destructive, false reasonings and teachings.​—1Co 9:7; Eph 6:11-18; 2Ti 2:4; see study notes on 2Co 10:4, 5.

instruction: Or “mandate; order; command.”​—See study note on 1Ti 1:5.

my child: Used by Paul as a term of endearment.​—2Ti 1:2; Tit 1:4; Phm 10; see study notes on Mt 9:2; 1Ti 1:2.

in harmony with the prophecies that were made about you: Paul reminds Timothy of the prophecies that had been made about him and apparently about his future role in the congregation. These prophecies were made through the operation of God’s spirit. (See study note on 1Ti 4:14.) They seem to have included the authorization for Timothy’s assignment, since Paul says that by these, that is, the prophecies, Timothy could wage spiritual warfare against false teachers.

waging the fine warfare: As at 2Co 10:3, Paul here uses warfare to illustrate the ongoing struggle to defend the congregation against harmful influences. Timothy’s role in that warfare was to protect the congregation against those who sought to infiltrate it and corrupt it with false doctrines.​—1Ti 1:3, 4; see study note on 2Co 10:3.

three times I experienced shipwreck: The Bible vividly describes one shipwreck that Paul experienced, but it occurred after he wrote this letter. (Ac 27:27-44) Paul frequently traveled by sea. (Ac 13:4, 13; 14:25, 26; 16:11; 17:14, 15; 18:18-22, 27) So there were many occasions when such a disaster might have befallen him. Paul is likely referring to the aftermath of one of his shipwrecks when he writes, a night and a day I have spent in the open sea (lit., “in the deep”). Paul may have clung to a piece of wreckage the whole night and day while being tossed on a stormy sea before he was rescued or washed ashore. Yet, such dire events never stopped him from continuing his travels by sea.

resulting in the shipwreck of their faith: To illustrate the danger of thrusting aside, or actively rejecting, faith and a good conscience, Paul chooses a vivid word picture: A Christian can lose his faith in the same way that a ship can be wrecked. In an earlier letter, Paul referred to three literal shipwrecks that he had survived. (2Co 11:25 and study note) By the time he wrote his first letter to Timothy, he had survived at least one more. (Ac 27:27-44) So Paul knew from experience how dangerous a shipwreck could be. For good reason, he warns that one who deliberately rejects his faith might never recover. However, shipwrecks were not fatal in all cases. Similarly, even those who experience a disastrous loss of their faith may recover​—provided they avail themselves of spiritual help.​—Ga 6:1; Jas 5:14, 15, 19, 20.

Hymenaeus and Alexander are among these: These men had experienced “shipwreck of their faith” (1Ti 1:19) and were apparently promoting false doctrine. At 2Ti 2:16-18, for example, Paul says that Hymenaeus along with Philetus claimed that the resurrection had already occurred. These men were “subverting the faith of some.” (See study notes on 2Ti 2:18.) Alexander may have been the coppersmith mentioned at 2Ti 4:14, 15 who did Paul “a great deal of harm” and who opposed “to an excessive degree” the message that Paul and his companions were proclaiming. (See study note on 2Ti 4:14.) The expression “are among these” implies that there were already a number of individuals who had not stuck to the faith and who were having a negative effect on some in the Christian congregation.

I have handed them over to Satan: This expression apparently refers to expelling, or disfellowshipping, them from the congregation. Such action was necessary because the men Paul mentioned were unrepentantly pursuing a willful course of sin.​—See study note on 1Co 5:5.

taught by discipline: Paul here reveals one of the purposes for which unrepentant wrongdoers are “handed . . . over to Satan,” or expelled from the congregation. (See study note on I have handed them over to Satan in this verse.) The two men in question had experienced a shipwreck of their faith, and they had to be disfellowshipped so that they might learn “not to blaspheme.” (See study note on 1Ti 1:19.) So Paul has in mind, not only chastisement, but also instruction. As one reference work puts it, “hope remains that they may learn their lesson.”

blaspheme: Or “speak abusively.”​—See study notes on Mt 12:31; Col 3:8.

subverting the faith: About ten years earlier, Paul was already combating false teachings that undermined the resurrection hope. (1Co 15:2 and study note, 12; compare Ac 17:32.) Those who denied that there was a future resurrection to perfect life, either in heaven or on earth, directly contradicted the inspired Scriptures. (Da 12:13; Lu 23:43; 1Co 15:16-20, 42-44) If Christians allowed their faith to be subverted by wrong views about the resurrection, they would lose their hope of receiving this promised future reward.​—Joh 5:28, 29.

Alexander the coppersmith: Paul warns Timothy of a certain Alexander who “to an excessive degree” opposed the message that Paul and his companions were proclaiming. (2Ti 4:15) Paul calls him “the coppersmith,” using a Greek term that in the first century C.E. could refer to any kind of metalworker. It is possible that he is the same Alexander, mentioned at 1Ti 1:20, who had apparently been expelled from the congregation. (See study notes.) Paul does not specify here what kind of harm this man did to him. Some have suggested that Alexander might have been involved in Paul’s arrest and might even have given false testimony against him.

hand such a man over to Satan: This was a command to expel, or disfellowship, a man from the congregation. (1Co 5:13; 1Ti 1:20) The man would then become part of the world over which Satan is the god and ruler. (1Jo 5:19) The person’s expulsion would result in the destruction of the flesh, or the removal of the corrupting element from the congregation. As a result, the congregation’s positive spirit, or dominant attitude, would be preserved.​—2Ti 4:22.

resulting in the shipwreck of their faith: To illustrate the danger of thrusting aside, or actively rejecting, faith and a good conscience, Paul chooses a vivid word picture: A Christian can lose his faith in the same way that a ship can be wrecked. In an earlier letter, Paul referred to three literal shipwrecks that he had survived. (2Co 11:25 and study note) By the time he wrote his first letter to Timothy, he had survived at least one more. (Ac 27:27-44) So Paul knew from experience how dangerous a shipwreck could be. For good reason, he warns that one who deliberately rejects his faith might never recover. However, shipwrecks were not fatal in all cases. Similarly, even those who experience a disastrous loss of their faith may recover​—provided they avail themselves of spiritual help.​—Ga 6:1; Jas 5:14, 15, 19, 20.

blasphemy: Refers to defamatory, injurious, or abusive speech against God or against sacred things. Since holy spirit emanates from God himself, willfully opposing or denying its operation amounted to blasphemy against God. As shown at Mt 12:24, 28, Jewish religious leaders saw God’s spirit at work in Jesus as he performed miracles; yet, they attributed this power to Satan the Devil.

abusive speech: Paul here uses the Greek word bla·sphe·miʹa, which is often rendered “blasphemy” when it refers to speech that is disrespectful to God. (Re 13:6) Originally, however, its meaning was not restricted to insults directed at God. The term can also denote evil or slanderous speech against fellow humans, and the context suggests that Paul uses it in that sense here. (See also Eph 4:31.) Other translations of this verse use such expressions as “slander,” “defamation,” and “insults.” One reference work says of this word: “It indicates the attempt to belittle and cause someone to fall into disrepute or to receive a bad reputation.”

saying that the resurrection has already occurred: Apparently, some of the false teachers in Ephesus, such as Hymenaeus and Philetus, were teaching that dedicated Christians had already been resurrected in a figurative way. Some false teachers may even have twisted Paul’s words to advance their own wrong views. Paul did teach that when a sinner got baptized, he died to his former way of life and was figuratively made alive. However, such a symbolic resurrection of a person did not replace the Scriptural hope of a literal resurrection of the dead. Those who taught that the resurrection had “already occurred”​—denying the hope of a future literal resurrection​—were apostates.​—Ro 6:2-4, 11; Eph 5:14; see study note on Eph 2:1.


Video Introduction to the Book of 1 Timothy
Video Introduction to the Book of 1 Timothy