1 Timothy 1. 12 to 15
W. E. Vine, Bath
By the time these Notes appear, the news of the “home-call” of our esteemed contributor will have brought a sense of loss to many thousands of the Lord’s people in all parts of the world. His unremitting labours in the cause of the Gospel world-wide, and his varied services to the saints are so well known as to make any mention of them in these pages almost superfluous. We, in common with many others, were made to feel that we could always count on his ready help, and we have often wondered how he was able to undertake so much. With characteristic thoughtfulness his valuable papers on Timothy have always been in our hands well in advance, with the happy result that we shall be able to continue with them for the time being. In view of the importance of the theme we hope we shall be able to find a writer to take up the task where our brother laid it down.
THE APOSTLE’S CALLING
A Doxology giving thanks for the mercy of his Apostolic calling
The fact that the ministry of “the gospel of the glory of the blessed God” was committed to his trust leads the Apostle immediately to burst out in praise to God, especially in view of his former antagonism to Christ and His saints. Both the intrinsic worth of the gospel and the grace bestowed upon him form the inspiration of this doxology.
While, however, he gives thanks to God for His goodness, he is still continuing to develop the subject he has before him, and this fresh section is still a reminder to Timothy of the value of the ministry which devolves upon him and the responsibility attaching to it.
Verse 12. I thank Him that enabled me,—The opening “And” in the A.V. lacks authentic ms. authority. Moreover, it weakens the forceful abruptness of the Apostle’s expression of gratitude, an abruptness which by no means indicates a lack of connection with what has preceded. Cp. the significant parallel in Eph. 3. 8.
The verb “I thank” translates a phrase in the original, lit., “I have thanks,” that is to say, “I hold and I express gratitude.” It indicates a habitual feeling of gratitude. The word charis, “thanks,” firstly means grace, favour, and then that which is the effect, of grace, whether the spiritual condition resulting, Rom. 5. 2, 7, or some special gift, e.g. 1 Pet. 1. 10, 13 and many other passages, or thanks for a favour or benefit received, as in the present instance. For ether occasions of this particular phrase see Luke 17. 9; 2 Tim. 1. 3; Heb. 12. 28.
Him that enabled me,—The past tense looks back to the special time when he first received inward strength for his ministry; but not merely so, it carries with it the recognition of the abiding effects thereof. The verb endunamoo, the lit. equivalent of which in English is “empower,” is used only by the Apostle Paul, with the exception of Acts 9. 22. See Rom. 4. 20; Eph. 6. 10; Phil. 4. 13; 2 Tim. 2. 1; 4. 17; Heb. 11. 34; it consists of the single verb dunamoo (corresponding to dunamis, power), prefixed by en, in. Cp. Luke 21. 49; Acts 1. 8. In Phil 4. 13, the Apostle uses the same word with reference to his present experiences of Divine power.
even Christ Jesus our Lord,—For notes on those titles and their order see verse 2.
for that He counted me faithful, appointing me to His service;—Hegeomai signifies to consider, account, think, see Phil. 3. 7, 8, e.g. See also 1 Tim. 6. 1. God, who knows the end from the beginning, saw that the Apostle would be characterized by steadfastness and fidelity, and made him His chosen vessel to bear His Name.
The verb tithemi, rendered “appointing,” ordinarily means “to put.” The past- tense (the aorist or point tense), suggests the decisiveness of the act.
Diakonia is a general term for service. It is derived from diako, to pursue. The A.V. “the ministry,” which suggests an ecclosiastical function, is not what is indicated here; there is no article before the word in the original; it is to be taken, therefore, in its primary and general sense of service, though the Apostle has especially in view his service in the gospel. Cp. Rom. 11. 13; 2 Cor. 5. 18; 6. 3; Col. 1. 23. In Acts 1. 17, 25, the word is applied to the service of the Apostles in general.
Verse 13. though I was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious:—The Apostle’s gratitude to the Lord was the deeper because of his previous antagonism. The threefold description he now gives forms the main feature of his career as “a Pharisee of the Pharisees,” a keen and brilliant exponent of Judaism.
The word “blasphemy” is probably derived from blapto, to injure, and phemi, to say. The word in the original is really an adjective, and is so translated in Acts 6. 11, 13. It is translated “railers” in 2 Tim. 3. 2, and “railing” in 2 Pet. 2. 11. The corresponding verb is used (a) in a general way, of reviling, railing at, as of those who railed at Christ on the Cross, Matt. 27. 39, (b) of those who speak contemptuously of God or of sacred things, e.g. Matt. 9. 3; Rom. 2. 24; 1 Tim. 1. 20 and 6. 1.
The word dioktes, a persecutor, corresponds to the verb dioko, to pursue earnestly, either for a good purpose (see Phil. 3. 12, 14; 1 Thess. 5. 15), or an evil (as in Gal. 1. 13; Phil 3. 6). The blasphemer shows his enmity in words, the persecutor in deeds.
The term hubristes, here translated “injurious,” is a noun signifying an insolent man or doer of outrage, one who may act, not out of revenge, but simply with the motive of inflicting injury. The word is found elsewhere in the N.T. only in Rom. 1. 30, (Despiteful A.V., Insolent R.V.)
Howbeit I obtained mercy,—This, with what follows, is stated, not in order to minimize his unworthiness, but to vindicate the grace of the Lord. It sets in contrast the mercy of God and the Apostle’s want of it. The single verb translated “I obtained mercy” is in the Passive Voice and might be translated “1 was shown mercy.” He did not, as believers do, approach God in order to obtain mercy; he was the undeserving object of the Divine compassion which exhibited it.
because I did it ignorantly in unbelief;—His actions were the outcome of blind prejudice. He was among the number of those addressed by Peter in Acts 3. 17, as having crucified Christ in their ignorance. Cp. the Lord’s prayer for His executioners, Luke 23. 34. Ignorance is sinful and is the outcome of sin; its sinfulness is not extenuated as such by the Apostle. There are, however, degrees of guilt, and there is an ignorance which modifies the guiltiness of the sinner; see Matt. 12. 31, 32. Accordingly, there will be differences in regard to the sentences passed upon the guilty. See Luke 12. 48. Where light is given it is to be accepted by faith and this was the case with the Apostle. Persistence in unbelief enhances its sinfulness.
Verse 14. and the grace of our Lord abounded exceedingly—For the word charis, grace, see note above on the word “thank” (verse 12).
The verb huperpleonazo, to be exceedingly abundant, is found here only in the N.T. It consists of the, verb pleonazo, to abound, with the prefix huper, “overse” For instances of the simple verb see Rom. 5. 20; 6. 1; 2 Cor. 4. 15; Phil. 4. 17; 1 Thess. 3. 12, where it is translated “make to increase;” 2 Thess. 1. 3, and 2 Pet. 1. 8. It will be noted that, as with the longer verb, the word is used specially of grace.
The Apostle is not using this expression to indicate that the grace manifested towards him was greater than the mercy or even than his sin. He is using it; to show the more aptly how he had obtained mercy. This is confirmed by the connecting “and,” which is simply confirmatory.
The verb “abounded exceedingly” stands in the position of emphasis, in order to show the manner in which grace was bestowed upon him. Cp. 1 Cor. 15. 10, where tho stress is upon the word “grace.”
The simple title “our Lord” is used by the Apostle Paul only here and in 2 Tim. 1. 8. See also Heb. 7. 14.
with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.—Faith and love are the effects of grace. They are the fruit of the work of the Holy Spirit. They are to one another as cause and effect. Faith expresses itself in love, love to God, 1 Cor. 8 3, and to man, 1 Thess. 4. 9); see also Gal. 5. 6, and for further examples of the association of faith with love see Eph. 6. 23; Col. 1. 4; 1 Thess. 3,6; 5. 8; 1 Tim. 1. 5; 4. 12; 2 Tim. 2. 22; Titus 2. 2; Rev. 2. 19). In Paul’s case his persistent unbelief (verse 13) had yielded place to faith, his erstwhile intense hatred had yielded place to love to the Lord and His people.
These qualities of faith and love are “in Christ Jesus”; while exercised by the believer they find their centre in Him, and their exercise is possible only through union with Him. They are here so closely associated that the definite article is used immediately after them by way of specifying the Personal Source from whence they spring and the Centre in whom they are found. Literally the phrase would be “with faith and love, that, namely, in Christ Jesus.” The specifying definite article, translated “that namely,” though it is in the singular number, refers to both the preceding nouns. Faith is the inward, and love the outward, expression of the bestowment of grace and its realization. The same complete phrase is used in exactly the same way in 2 Tim. 1. 13. For the order of the titles “Christ Jesus” see note on 1. 2.
Verse 15. Faithful is the saying,—This phrase is characteristic of the pastoral Epistles and is found in them only. Here and in 4. 9, it is followed by “and worthy of all acceptation;” in 3. 1; 2 Tim. 2. 11; Tit. 3. 8, the simpler phrase is used. See note later at 3. 1. “Faithful” signifies trustworthy, as in verse 12. It suggests that the statement referred to is one upon which the believer may rest with entire confidence.
and worthy of all acceptation,—The noun apadoche, acceptation, is used elsewhere in the N.T. only at 4. 9. Corresponding to it is the verb apodechomai, to accept, what is offered, to receive with joy. See Luke 8. 40; 9. 11; Acts 2. 41; 15. 4; 18. 27; 21. 17; 24. 3; 28. 3. This verb is used by Luke only. The phrase “all acceptation” signifies not simply acceptation by everyone, but complete, wholehearted acceptation. Some would translate it “approbation,” a meaning which it had in later Greek. “Acceptation,” however, gives the best sense.
that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners;—This statement itself bears witness to the pre-existence of the Lord Jesus, and the order of the titles, pointing to the exalted One Who emptied Himself, is appropriate to the fact that His coming into the world refers to His birth. He left the glory which He had with the Father before the world was (John 16. 28; 17. 6). Christ’s coming into the world is a fact especially stressed in this way by the Apostle John. See Jn. 1. 9; 12. 46; 16. 28; 1 John 4. 9. His coming into the world was necessary for the accomplishment of the salvation of sinners.
The word for “sinners” is hamartoloi, which literally signifies those who miss the mark or miss the way, though it stands for those who are guilty of certain definite vices or crimes, as, for example, the tax-gatherers, Luke 15. 2; 18. 13; 19. 7; see also e.g. Jas. 4. 8. The synonymous word parabates denotes one who oversteps a prescribed limit, and is therefore a transgressor, as in Rom. 2. 25, 27; Gal. 2. 18; Jas. 2. 9, 11. The former word here describes all mankind, for all have sinned (hamartano, the corresponding verb), Rom. 3. 23.
of whom I am chief:—Though the word protos, first, sometimes applies to time, here it applies to degree. There was no mock modesty with the Apostle in making this statement, nor was he making a comparison between himself and his unbelieving fellow-nationals; nor, again, was he indulging in mere rhetoric. The contemplation of his sins and the extent to which, before his conversion, he had missed the true purpose of his being, leads him to make this statement in all sincerity and humility. Paul was a man of high ideals, and the higher the ideal a man sets before him, the more deeply will he feel the extent of his failure to attain to it. There is always a gulf between the character of Christ Himself and that of His most devoted followers. So fully did the Apostle appreciate this, that he does not say “of whom I was chief,” but uses the present tense. Noticeable in this respect is the special stress upon the personal pronoun “I”; both its very insertion as well as its position, last in the sentence, make it peculiarly emphatic; cp. 1 Cor. 15. 9 and Eph. 3 8.