SGA I Timothy Lesson 3

Lesson 3
I Timothy 1:15-20

Henry Mahan

After exhorting Timothy to oppose the false teachers and charging the Ephesians to teach "no other doctrine than that which was taught by Christ and the apostles," after defending his ministry from slander and unjust accusations, declaring that though he was a blasphemer he "obtained mercy" and was put into the ministry by the Lord Jesus, Paul proceeds to give the sum and substance of his gospel–"Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners."

(Vs. 15) "THIS IS A FAITHFUL SAYING;" it is a true saying, not to be doubted, argued, nor debated, but to be received and believed (I Tim. 3:16). Men are always disputing among themselves about how God saves sinners. They often are in doubt about their own salvation. Therefore, when questions and doubts arise, let us repel them with this certain and sure truth, "Christ came into the world to save sinners." He alone is the Saviour, the only Saviour.

This gospel is faithful to God's LAW, which is magnified and honored; it is faithful to God's JUSTICE, which is satisfied; it is faithful to God's PROMISES; and therein is the faithfulness of Christ revealed. This gospel is "worthy of acceptation" by all persons because it is the Word of God, not of man. It is entirely true, suitable to the need of all, glorifies God (I Tim. 1:11), and is the gospel preached from the beginning (Rom. .1:13) .

"CHRIST JESUS CAME INTO THE WORLD;" (John 1:10; 1:14; Gal. 4:4; Isa. 7:14; 9:6). The second person of the blessed Trinity (Very God of Very God, the express image of His person) has come into this world in human flesh (Rom. 8:3; John 10:30; 14:9).

"TO SAVE SINNERS." The word "sinners" is emphatic and conclusive! Many who acknowledge that it is the office and work of Christ to save have difficulty admitting that such salvation actually belongs to sinners. The natural mind is always compelled to look for some worthiness in the creature. But the message of the gospel is "Christ lived and died and rose again for sinners!" Read Matt. 9:10-13; Rom. 5:6-10.

"OF WHOM I AM THE CHIEF," the first, the greatest. Paul does not say this out of false modesty nor for vain glory, but from a real sense of his sins, which were exceedingly sinful to him (Acts 8:3; 9:13).

(Vs. 16) "I OBTAINED MERCY" (I Tim. 1:13). Twice Paul uses this phrase; he says that though he was a blasphemer, a persecutor, the greatest sinner against Christ, God had mercy–mercy unasked, unsought, and unmerited. God was long-suffering toward me in the midst of all my sins and rebellion, as He is to all His elect. God held out such a pattern that no one should doubt that he would obtain pardon, provided he received Christ by faith. Paul is an example of the patience and grace of God for the encouragement of the faith and hope of others in Christ, though ever so great sinners! Upon being told by William Jay that he was encouraged by the conversion of a certain rebel, John Newton replied, "Since the Lord saved ME, I have despaired of no man living!"

(Vs. 17) The apostle breaks forth in a doxology of praise to Christ for His sovereign mercy and abundant grace. He is the eternal King of nature, providence, and grace. His throne is forever, and of His kingdom and government there is no end. He is IMMORTAL, for Christ is the living God, the living Redeemer; and though He died as man, He will die no more, but ever lives. He is invisible in His divine nature until manifest in flesh. He dwells in light that is inaccessible (I Tim. 6:14-16). He is the only wise God (in opposition to all false deities); He is wisdom itself and the fountain of wisdom. To Him be all honor and glory forever! (Jude 24-25).

(Vs. 18) Paul renews the charge he gave to Timothy in Verse 3, which was not only an order to charge others to teach no other doctrine than that of the gospel, but includes the charge of preaching it himself. He tells Timothy to be true to Christ as a good soldier in the midst of a war with Satan, evil men, and false teachers (II Cor. 10:3-4; Eph. 6:12; I Tim. 6:12), according to the prophecies of the Holy Spirit regarding Timothy and also the prophecies of prophets of the church concerning him (II Tim. 4:5-7).

(Vs. 19) "HOLDING FAITH AND GOOD CONSCIENCE." Faith here is a general term denoting sound doctrine (I Tim. 3:9). There are two imperatives for a preacher or teacher. (1) He must hold to the pure truth of the gospel and (2) he must administer that gospel with sincerity, honesty toward God and men, and a holy conversation and conduct.

Some preachers and teachers have failed in one or both, thereby making shipwreck of themselves and others. The term "shipwreck" is appropriate; for it suggests that if we wish to arrive safely to harbor, we must continue on the course of faith and obedience and not wreck on the rocks of works, covetousness, compromise, etc. (I Tim. 6:8-11).

(Vs. 20) We find additional reference to Hymenaeus in II Tim. 2:17-18 and to Alexander in II Tim. 4:14. By apostolic power Paul delivered these men into the hands of Satan as a token of God's displeasure (I Cor. 5:4-5).

Henry Mahan
Ashland, Ky.