1 TIMOTHY 1: A Higher Calling Theo-Logic


Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope,  2 To Timothy my true son in the faith: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.  3 As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer  4 nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. These promote controversies rather than God’s work– which is by faith.  5 The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.  6 Some have wandered away from these and turned to meaningless talk.  7 They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.  8 We know that the law is good if one uses it properly.  9 We also know that law {9 Or that the law} is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious; for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers,  10 for adulterers and perverts, for slave traders and liars and perjurers– and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine  11 that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.  12 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service.  13 Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief.  14 The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.  15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners– of whom I am the worst.  16 But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.  17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.  18 Timothy, my son, I give you this instruction in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by following them you may fight the good fight,  19 holding on to faith and a good conscience. Some have rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith.  20 Among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme.

I like how Paul opens this letter by speaking of God as Savior, but also how He throws in Jesus Christ as our hope… for this is Christ Himself our living hope from God.  This is a hope that believers already know (see Hebrews 11).  We can see Paul establishing how God’s order works.  This established order of God works even within the Godhead which is foundational as we read through this letter of 1 Timothy.  It is significant within the context of this letter that Paul begins by referring to God as Father and Savior and Jesus as our Hope and Lord.

As we read on through Timothy’s letter, you and I can quickly realize Timothy and Paul were close.  Paul calls himself Timothy’s “father in the faith.”  This phrase indicates he bore Timothy into the Christian faith.  He also personally knows Timothy’s commitment to Christ as he also calls him “a true child” which is a strong statement coming from an Apostle.  Timothy would have understood because Apostolic authority statements are significant.  While all this is “Apostolic talk” is true, we should also keep in mind Paul expresses himself with the language of a father’s heart.  I think that if we have this in view, we can see the strong relational bond Paul and Timothy shared.  God shared that bond with us by placing the letter in the Biblical canon.

The Apostle Paul moves quickly to the topic of false teachers (“false” because it differs by not properly promoting life in Christ alone like the apostle’s God-sanctioned teaching). “True teaching” is what the Apostles taught.   Therefore the teaching of these false teachers, as Paul an Apostle calls them, means their work is vain.  Paul is telling Timothy the false teachers may talk about the law, but their teaching does not promote life in Christ; hence, their teachings promote their egotism. So, this means in the big picture not only is it “vain” but it is also “in vain” because they teach the law without understanding.

Paul says the Law is good for lawbreakers, meaning, it is not for those that keep the Law or those not under the Law.  For if we are under Christ’s rule, we have turned from lawlessness and desired something more profound than the Law.  God offers His son (Christ) Who is of His very nature for such souls.  The Law’s authoritative source is the spiritual substance we genuinely need.  Passages like Isaiah 28:16 declare this in pointing to God’s Cornerstone and Ephesians 2:19-22 ensures that we know the Cornerstone is Jesus Christ.

The point Paul is making to Timothy (and to us) is to analyze whether a teacher is using the Law found in the bible or some other myths from ancient times.  If they teach you to submit to anything or anyone other than Christ, they are leading you incorrectly.  Here is an example that teaches us to follow the nature of the Law and not just the letter of the Law:

Mark 2:23-28: “One Sabbath he was going through the grain fields, and as they made their way, his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. 24 And the Pharisees were saying to him, Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath? 25 And he said to them, Have you never read what David did, when he was in need and was hungry, he and those who were with him: 26 how he entered the house of God, in the time of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and also gave it to those who were with him? 27 And he said to them, The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.” (ESV)

The disciples were with Christ… the Lord of the Sabbath… which meant they were no longer under the Law.  They were under Grace.  As a side note, to be under Christ’s Lordship holds more accountability for the individual not less as we might first think.

Paul writes about this specific thought by saying the Law is for good IF USED LAWFULLY.  See verses 8-11 which lead us logically into verse 12.  The Apostle Paul writes how his life in Christ is of a higher calling than life under the Law.  He explains how he is foremost among sinners and so describes that all sinners are welcome into the higher calling reserved for believers.

We see this same theological logic (theo-logic) in Hebrews 10:28-31 where the author states how much more will we who have neglected Christ will be punished compared to those of a lesser calling (those living under the Law).  They are in the desert where they died, never to enter the Promised Land.

Our high obligation is to Christ alone.  We serve the Spirit, not flesh (see Roman 8:12).  We are not slaves to endless philosophy and speculations, but rather the work of reconciliation that results from acknowledging God in all we do for Him.  The charge is to fight to good the fight of faith.  Therefore, we are to hold firmly to faith and a good conscience. I think this is the result of following the theological logic (theo-logic) of the life of Christ provide to us in the teaching of the Apostles.

We can turn from that goal, friend, for we see the real warning in verses 18 -20.

The Apostle Paul, father in faith to Timothy, gives him a charge to be faithful.  It is our charge as well since we are reading his mail also passed down to us.


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