Lesson 4: "Christ Jesus Came Into the World to Save Sinners" (I Timothy 1:15)
I Timothy 1:12--2:8
Paul's Letters To Preachers. Welcome again! This is lesson #4. As we closed out our last, lesson, we got down through v.11 in I-Tim. ch. one. In Paul's charge to Timothy, that he "charge some that they teach no other doctrine," (v.3), we said that Paul was acutely aware that it is easy to be arrogant and flippant in one's spiritual activity. As Paul criticized those in the Ephesian congregation who flippantly and arrogantly taught error, not realizing, i.e. "understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm," it was natural that Paul think back upon himself in those days before he became a Christian, as we find recorded at the beginning of Acts ch. 8 and at the beginning of Acts ch. nine. Paul. (or Saul as he was known in those days) was very active religiously; but he was religiously wrong. Thus, he assumes (here) it is entirely possible those teaching that false doctrine at Ephesus might be in that classification also. This is a way of saying, I can identify with your dilemma. I was once where you are and I had to change. Now, how would that strike you, if you should happen to be one teaching error; that Paul is trying to reach? You see, even in Paul's 'criticism, he was very understanding and had compassion on those he criticized. Let's read the rest of I-Tim. ch. one, are you ready? Get your eyes on I-Tim. 1:12-20.
Paul said, "And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting. Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen. This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war . a good warfare; holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away, concerning faith have made shipwreck: of whom is Hymeneus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme."
Alright, let's re-do it verse by verse. Paul said (v.13), I "was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious." Notice, these terms describe (in effect) what the false teachers at Ephesus were doing. They were speaking evil against God, in the sense that they were teaching fables, genealogies and some false twist on the law of Moses. Paul called it "vain jangling." Who were they persecuting? The Ephesian congregation, they were "making havoc of the church" just as much as Paul did back in Acts 8:3, when he went house to house hailing men and women committing them to prison. Such teachers were very "injurious" (is the word Paul used) to those that were lead away from the truth. Notice, that Paul applies these terms to himself in the past; but, to those who read these things, he leaves them to make the present day application for themselves. There is a great slant on teaching here that is found a number of places in the Bible and a slant that we as teachers need to get. Paul said, "I did it ignorantly in unbelief," thus, Paul you see is not only telling his story; he is being suggestive that this also might possibly be their own case, i.e. he's saying: I was sincere, I was honest; but, I was honestly and sincerely wrong. Because I was honest and sincere, "the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant." (v.14). In other words, it was for this cause I obtained mercy, (v.16). Then, in the last part of v.16, the apostle said: this (his own case) serves as a pattern (or a model) unto other honest and sincere people. What is a pattern? Women use patterns to make dresses. We use patterns or blueprints to build houses. Paul said he became a pattern or ensample (v.16) "to them which should hereafter believe." In other words, Paul's case still serves us as a model. Paul thought he was doing God service when he was persecuting the church, when he was helping to kill Stephen and as he went to foreign cities seeking to destroy Christians. Thus, Paul dubs himself here the chief of sinners; because, he was not only sincere, he was active in his destruction of the church. If such an injurious sinner could be cleansed by the blood of Christ, then his case serves as an illustration to all future generations that they too can be saved by putting their trust in the Lord Jesus and then acting accordingly.
Observe in v.15 Paul's faithful saying. Paul said, "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation." He is in effect saying, here is a principle that you want to get, i.e. don't miss this thought. Paul used this.phrase on more than one occasion. It occurs verbatim in I-Tim. 4:9. The first part of the phrase occurs in II-Tim. 2:11 and in Titus 3:8. In I-Tim. 3:1, the same thought is phrased: "This is a true saying." Back in the country where I grew up there was a common cliche: "as the old saying goes" ...so and so. Now, what's Paul's faithful saying (here), worthy of all acceptation? "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners..." (v.15). That's the principle. This is a re-phrasing of what Christ himself said (back in Luke 19:10). Jesus said: "The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost." This is very close to John 3:16 (the golden text of the Bible, some call it). The next verse (John 3:17), Jesus said: "For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved." Thus, Paul's principle (here, v.15) "worthy of all acceptation" is that the very mission of Jesus in coming to earth from heaven (John 1:1) was for the exclusive purpose that men might be saved, i.e. to those who will accept Jesus as their savior.
Then, in v.17 Paul concludes this thought by taking out a moment to praise God, "unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory for ever and ever." And so be it...i.e. "Amen."
Then in v.18-19-20, the apostle summarizes his charge to Timothy, i.e. Paul briefly restates the spiritual warnings, the instruction and the cautions he has already recited and he thus urges Timothy to encourage, perpetuate and institute those things there in Ephesus. In urging Timothy thus, Paul makes reference to "the prophecies which went before on thee." This undoubtedly refers to some spiritual gifts that Timothy had received (or experienced) of which we have no information to my knowledge. Paul makes a similar reference in II-Tim. 1:6 and said: "which is in thee by the putting on of my hands." In that passage, the apostle told Timothy to stir up that gift, i.e. use it! Timothy, of course, understood very clearly what Paul was saying here, we can only guess. At any rate, Paul was urging Timothy to accept personal responsibility, teach, warn, caution and persuade, i.e. "war a good warfare." (v.18). Do this holding faith and a good conscience (v.19). God puts a great premium on charity (i.e. having a genuine concern for the welfare of others), he puts a. great premium upon a pure heart, a good conscience and faith unfeigned, i.e. faith without hypocrisy. In Matt. 5:8, Jesus said, the pure in heart shall see God. The references here (v.19) goes back to v.5 up above. Then Paul mentions two persons, Hymeneus and Alexander, which Paul says have made shipwreck of their faith, i.e. their faith miscarried. Out of worldly motives, they have done violence to their conscience. In other words, they have for some earthly reward done that which they personally and inwardly know to be wrong. This God will not accept. Paul said: "I have delivered [them] unto Satan." (v.20). I.e. without repentance, they will be lost, Paul makes no bones about it. There is a great lesson here for you and me.
O.K., let's get started on ch. two. Notice the first three words, Paul said: "I exhort therefore." Now, what does that mean? "I exhort therefore." "Exhort" means to encourage. "Therefore" means as a consequence of that which has already been said. So, Paul is saying then, the following I authorize, endorse and encourage as a means of helping to reach the goal already stated. Alright, what do you recommend Paul? Let's read it, ch. 2! We'll read all 15 verses and then discuss what we can. Beginning I-Tim. ch. 2, let's read.
"I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not,) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity. I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting. In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with braided hair or gold, or pearls, or costly array; but (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works. Let the women learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety."
Alright, for the time we have, let's work on it. "I exhort therefore, that..." THAT what, Paul? That, first of all. Do you see that? Now, first of all means right up front. This "first of all" could mean immediately or it could mean the first in a sequence. But, obviously in our context the subject is prayer. All the terms that follow in v.1 have reference to prayer: "supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks..." are all forms of prayer. The word "supplications" is always translated "prayer." To be more specific it is a definite kind of prayer: it is a petition or an .earnest humble request. The word "intercessions" implies the one praying is more intimate with God and the petition they ask is probably on the part of another. Then "giving of thanks" is selfexplanatory; but, should never be left out of our prayers. In multiplying these different terms, Paul is being suggestive, in helping us recognize what a great avenue prayer really is. Only those who have forsaken sin are authorized to draw nigh in communion with God. The prayer of the wicked is an abomination unto God (Prov. 28:9). So, Paul exhorts that right up front much use be made of prayer. There is a great lesson in this for us. We must never forget that God is a person willing and able to hear us. God made the universe, obviously He can produce results. He set in operation those physical laws which preserve and control the universe. Thus, results may come by merely cooperating with these laws of nature or He, as God, of course, can produce results by setting aside (either temporarily or permanently) a law of nature. This we term a miracle. Miracles were used frequently at the time of Jesus and in the early church. TEACHINGS were frequently^ done in this way until the church was established and the N.T. was written. Peter's instruction to preach in the household of Cornelius came by a miracle. Many other examples could be cited. After that which is perfect is come, [i.e. the N.T.] then that which was in part was done away. (I Cor. 13:10). However, that doesn't diminish God capability in the least. We may never know what is happening behind the scenes by the hand of God. However, Paul encouraged prayer at Ephesus...don't forget it...do it often. Pray for kings (v.2). Pray for all that are in authority. Why Paul? "that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty." Now, immersed in all this is the fact that we live in a different dispensation. The Mosaic law, what we commonly term the ten commandments, were a national law and a religious code all wrapped up in the same package. The nation was Israel. The religious worship was conducted by the Jewish priests, i.e. the Levites. Today, Christianity is a religious code, i.e. a spiritual directive given by King Jesus himself. In the period in which we live, we are under or subject to governments, kings and rulers. All the power comes from God: "the powers that be are ordained of God." (Rom. 13:1). Just .exactly how God controls these higher powers, we call government, I'm not sure; but, I'm sure of this: God is in control. However, Timothy was dealing with the church at Ephesus. Paul, an apostle, was instructing Timothy as to the church's responsibility. Paul did not necessarily instruct active participation in government, support of government or even approval. Paul did not say to pray for building up the government or for controlling the government. God is in control of that. Paul was exhorting (i.e. encouraging) the Ephesian church to pray for the government and for rulers, "all that are in authority." Why? Now, get it straight: "that we might lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty," i.e. that Christians be not hindered by the government in discharging their duty to God. This is what God wants (v.3). Our Lord would have all men to be saved, and come unto a knowledge of the truth (v.4). This can more easily be accomplished under a governmental climate conducive to quiet and peaceable living, obviously. This is the way to do it Timothy; this is the tone that needs to be set in the Ephesian church. Then in v.5, there is one God and that God is in charge, as we have said. There is one mediator between God and man, Jesus Christ who came in the form of a man. V.5-6 here is simply re-saying what is written in John 1:1 ff. Then in v.7, Paul explains his relationship as a preacher and as an apostle. Then (v.8), Paul expresses his will that prayer be engaged in and that it be done in a way pleasing to the heavenly Father. Look at v.8 close. It is the apostle's desire that "men pray everywhere" this way. Paul did not desire that this be taken over as some priestly duty. All men are to do it. It is to be done in faith. Some think "lifting up holy hands" in v.8 has reference to one's posture in prayer. Possibly that's the way they did it back then, I don't know. This praying instruction applied to the public worship, it applied to MEN in the public worship, i.e. prayer as discussed here. Then in v.9, Paul said: "In like manner" and with that statement he began instruction for the women. This is a good place for us to break. I'll see you in lesson # 5! Until then, have a good day.