1 Timothy Chapter One, A Note On Law And Grace


In our study of 1 Timothy chapter one, we look at Paul's letter to the pastor of the local church in Ephesus. It is an instructional letter that was written to his dear friend that had traveled with him and was now a pastor. This chapter is a reminder to keep purity in the faith.

1 Timothy 1:1


Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope.


Paul opens with a unique introduction as he usually introduces himself as an apostle by the will of God but here he says by the "command of God". This is much stronger as it lets us know that Paul didn't have much to do with the decision of God other than accepting it and doing what he was told. Just as Paul did not play a part in the decision, the same is true today for those that are called into full time ministry. If you can do anything else, then you are not called (commanded by God) to that ministry. There are many today who are "in the ministry" because of a career decision and not a "command of God". Paul had a career (tentmaker) but it was not his calling.

1 Timothy 1:2


To Timothy my true son in the faith: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.


Paul addresses the letter to Timothy and lets us see their relationship as he calls him "my true son in the faith". This speaks about the fact that he came to salvation and was raised in the faith through the ministry of Paul. Because of that, Paul felt a responsibility to watch over and nurture him in his walk with the Lord even as he became the pastor of this local church. The greeting begins with grace and, as we shall see, this first chapter is a reminder of the fact that salvation (mercy & peace with God) only comes through His grace.

1 Timothy 1:3 & 4


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 nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. These promote controversies rather than God's work - which is by faith.


Paul reminds us here of the events that led to him leaving Ephesus and leaving Timothy in charge of the local body of believers. We see this in Acts chapter 19 where there was a riot because of the effectiveness of the preaching of the gospel. We see here that Paul left Timothy there to combat the false teachings of the Judaiziers. He reminds Timothy (and us as well) that all these traditions do not promote unity in the faith but instead promote controversy and division which is contrary to the work of God.

1 Timothy 1:5


The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.


Paul is telling Timothy that the reason for him dealing with the false teachers is love. Love for those that are being led astray in their faith and those that are leading them astray. This love comes from a genuine faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ.

1 Timothy 1:6 & 7


Some have wandered away from these and turned to meaningless talk. They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.


These false teachers have walked away from grace by trying to add works (the law) to it. They are confident of what they believe but they are ignorant of the purpose and application of the law. The same is true of many false teachers today as many sincerely believe what they teach but they are trying to teach without having the understanding that comes from God through the Holy Spirit.

1 Timothy 1:8


We know that the law is good if one uses it properly.


How does one use the law properly? First, you have to understand who the law is for and that is those who have not accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior (the unsaved or lost). Then, you have to understand the purpose of the law which is to get people to the point where they realize that they cannot repair their relationship with God through their own efforts. Once you accept the grace of God through Jesus Christ, the law does not apply to you as Jesus nailed it to the cross.

1 Timothy 1:9 & 10


We also know 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, for adulterers and perverts, for slave traders and liars and perjurers - and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine


We see that the law is meant for sinners and we must remember that the purpose is to bring them to the point of understanding that they cannot keep the law on their own. Some have taken this list to sort of create a sin rating system like one is worse that the other but they forget the "whatever else" part. ALL sin separates us from God but the good news is that Jesus paid for ALL of our sins.

1 Timothy 1:11


that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.


Paul completes this list of who the law applies to with the fact that it applies to anyone that opposes the gospel that was given to him. So, we might ask ourselves what gospel is he talking about. Paul is talking about grace and the fact that salvation is a gift of God to all who will accept His Son. The law applies to all who do not accept this gift and instead want to work for their own righteousness.

1 Timothy 1:12-14


I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service. 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. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.


Paul continues by reminding Timothy that he was chosen by God for the ministry not because of his knowledge of the law but because of God's mercy and grace. Paul was a good example of humility as he never forgot where he had been and how God had brought him to where he was in the ministry. Today, there are far too many in the ministry that have grown up too pious and do not remember that they were miserable sinners that have been saved by grace. Once you forget that, you can not effectively relate to us common folks and you end up with a religious system.

1 Timothy 1:15 & 16


Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners - of whom I am the worst. 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.


One of the greatest qualities of Paul was that he never forgot what God had done and where he had come from. Here, he explains to Timothy that the reason that God brought him out of his murderous past was to display God's mercy and patience to even the worst of sinners. We are reminded from this that God tends to use the lowly things (and people) to display His power.

1 Timothy 1:17


Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.


How could God save the worst of sinners? The simple answer is that He is the King of Kings and a king has the authority to do whatever he wishes. We may often not understand what God is doing or why but, like Paul, we have to understand that He is the King and has the authority. We can hold fast to the knowledge that God always takes care of His people.

1 Timothy 1:18 & 19a


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, holding on to faith and a good conscience.


Once again, Paul refers to Timothy as his spiritual son and reminds him that God had led Paul to him. He also reminds him that God has a purpose for him and that is as an example of standing firm in his faith. The same type of thing happens in our lives, today, if we slow down and pay attention to the people that God brings into our lives. God will bring people into your life to build you up and He will bring others for you to build up in their faith.

1 Timothy 1:19b & 20


Some have rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith. Among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme.


It seems that there were some that were rejecting the spiritual authority of Timothy and therefore that of Paul as well. Although it may seem harsh, we see that Paul has "handed them over to Satan". This is a demonstration of the authority that was given to him in that there was not a "church court" and they did not excommunicate people.