1 Timothy 1

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1 Timothy 1
Uncial 015 (1 Tm 2.2-6).jpg
Fragments showing 1 Timothy 2:2–6 on Codex Coislinianus, from ca. AD 550.
BookFirst Epistle to Timothy
CategoryPauline epistles
Christian Bible partNew Testament
Order in the Christian part15

1 Timothy 1 is the first chapter of the First Epistle to Timothy in the New Testament of the Christian Bible. The author has been traditionally identified as Paul the Apostle since as early as AD 180,[1][2][3] although most modern scholars consider the letter pseudepigraphical,[4] perhaps written as late as the first half of the second century AD.[5] This chapter contains the personal greeting (salutation), the exposition about the gospel and its counterfeit, Paul's personal experience of Christ and a charge as well as a warning to Timothy related to his call to the ministry.[6]


The original text was written in Koine Greek. This chapter is divided into 20 verses.

Textual witnesses[edit]

Some early manuscripts containing the text of this chapter are:

The Salutation (1:1–2)[edit]

The letter starts with a 'traditional Hellenistic salutation', using an "X to Y" pattern, so the reader would immediately see the identity of the sender as well as the of the recipient once the scroll is unrolled.[8] The Pauline epistles generally use the typical elements: the designation of the sender and of the recipient, followed by a greeting.[8]

Verse 1[edit]

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour, and the Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope,[9]

Verse 2[edit]

Unto Timothy, my own son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.[11]

The Gospel and its counterfeits (1:3–11)[edit]

Paul once left Timothy at Ephesus with a particular task, to command others not to teach false doctrines, which already circulates in quite early stage of the church's life; 'a reminder that in every age truth is challenged by counterfeits'.[13]

Verses 3–4[edit]

3 As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, 4 nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith.[14]

Paul left Timothy behind in Ephesus, as he himself traveled into Macedonia, to instruct people not to follow false teaching, which characteristic is the devotion to 'myths and endless genealogies which promotes speculations' (verse 4), pointing to a sort of 'Gnostic group' in the community which perverts the faith by mythological speculations about creation and salvation.[15] The opponents are not specifically identified, but the focus is more to combat it with a view of Christian virtues such as love out of a pure heart, and a good conscience (verse 5) against 'the vices of speculative theory and vain discussion'.[15]

Verse 5[edit]

But the aim of such instruction is love that comes from a pure heart, a good conscience, and sincere faith.[18]

The nature of Timothy's task is to produce love and the nourishing of it through purity, a good conscience and faith.[13]

Verses 6–7[edit]

6Some people have deviated from these and turned to meaningless talk, 7desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make assertions.[19]

Paul draws attention to those who promotes the false teaching (the opposite of true faith) leading to unproductiveness — they are unsuitable to be teachers in their lack of meaning.[13]

Verse 8[edit]

But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully,[20]
  • "law" (Greek: νόμος, nomos); "lawfully" (Greek: νομίμως, nomimos): The "law" must be used "lawfully" or "legitimately", that is with the understanding of its purpose: the "function of the law in the lives of those who have been saved by grace".[21] In this passage, Paul describes the actions that are contrary to the law, but not in "personal debauchery" (as in Galatians 5:19–21) but "in opposition to God" (1 Timothy 1:9a) and "in hostility to human beings" (1 Timothy 1:9b-10a), which show love to "neither God nor neighbor".[21]

Verse 9[edit]

Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,[22]
  • "the lawless" (Greek: ἀνόμοις, anomois)

The word anomois (from the Greek: a-, meaning "not" or "without", and nomos, meaning "law" or "custom") is generally translated into English as "lawless", although NIV renders it "lawbreakers", while Douay-Rheims uses "unjust". Vincent defines it as "recognizing no law" rather than "not having a law".[23]

  • "made" (Greek: κεῖται, keitai) has a legal sense, which can also be rendered "given, exist, be valid".[21]

This verse establishes that "the law has been made" not for the righteous but for "lawless/lawbreakers" and "disobedient/rebels"; the law is not applicable to the righteous as some heretics try to force it into "a doctrinal or ethical role it was not intended to have".[21] The law functions as a kind of "vice list" to "point out sin in whatever form it may take in a given culture", exposing the false teachers who are misusing it.[21] The "vice list" not only recalls the lists found in ancient moralistic writings, but follows the topics in the "Ten Commandments" (Deuteronomy 5:16–21),[24] as in the following table:[21]

1 Timothy 1:9–10 (NIV) 10 Commandments (Deuteronomy 5:6–21)
lawbreakers and rebels,
the ungodly and sinful,
the unholy and irreligious
You shall have no other gods before me
those who kill their fathers or mothers Honor your father and your mother
for murderers You shall not murder
for adulterers and perverts You shall not commit adultery
for slave traders You shall not steal
and liars and perjurers You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor

Verse 10[edit]

For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine;[25]
  • "whoremongers" (Greek: πόρνοις, pornois)

Also translated in various bible versions as "fornicators". "adulterers" or "sexually immoral people", was understood (as was the seventh commandment[26]) as applying to various acts of sexual immorality.[21] Nevertheless, the Hebrew na׳ap in Deuteronomy 5:18 specifically meant "adultery" (another word, zana, was used for fornication in general), and at the time of the New Testament is rendered as the Greek word porneia, which was broadly used for sexual immorality.[21]

  • "for them that defile themselves with mankind" or "sodomites" (Greek: ἀρσενοκοίτης, arsenokoites)

The Greek word arsenokoitais has been translated into English in different ways, among others, "abusers of themselves with men" (1901 American Standard Version), "them that defile themselves with mankind," (Authorized Version 1873), "sodomites" (RSV 1901), and "perverts" (NIV 1973). The word occurs only two times in the New Testament: 1 Corinthians 6:9 and 1 Timothy 1:10.[27]

  • "sound" (Greek: ὑγιαινούσῃ, hygiainousē)

This word is a medical term, related to "hygiene". Paul uses here as a "metaphor that contrasts healthy doctrine with the sickly, unhealthy teaching of the heretics."[27]

The Thanksgiving (1:12–17)[edit]

Verse 15[edit]

This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.[28]
  • "This is a faithful saying" (Greek: Πιστὸς ὁ λόγος, pistos ho logos): is a formula assuming 'general acceptance' and is stated 5 times in the Pastoral Epistles (1 Timothy 1:15; 3:1; 4:9; 2 Timothy 2:11; Titus 3:8).[15]
  • "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners": The 'central Christian belief' is given an example of Paul himself as a 'prototype believer and recipient of grace', who was saved while being a sinner.[29]

Prior Examples (1:18–20)[edit]

Verse 20[edit]

of whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.[30]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ See the arguments on composition of the epistle.
  2. ^ a b Halley, Henry H. Halley's Bible Handbook: an abbreviated Bible commentary. 24th edition. Zondervan Publishing House. 1965. p. 631
  3. ^ Holman Illustrated Bible Handbook. Holman Bible Publishers, Nashville, Tennessee. 2012.
  4. ^ David E. Aune, ed., The Blackwell Companion to The New Testament (Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010), 9: "While seven of the letters attributed to Paul are almost universally accepted as authentic (Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians, Philemon), four are just as widely judged to be pseudepigraphical, i.e. written by unknown authors under Paul's name: Ephesians and the Pastorals (1 and 2 Timothy and Titus)."
  5. ^ Stephen L. Harris, The New Testament: A Student's Introduction, 4th ed. (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2001), 366.
  6. ^ Guthrie 1994, p. 1294.
  7. ^ Treu, Kurt, "Neue neutestamentliche Fragmente der Berliner Papyrussammlung", Archiv für Papyrusforschung 18, 1966. pp. 36-37.
  8. ^ a b Collins 2002, p. 21.
  9. ^ 1 Timothy 1:1 KJV
  10. ^ Towner 2006, p. 96.
  11. ^ 1 Timothy 1:2 KJV
  12. ^ Towner 2006, p. 101.
  13. ^ a b c Guthrie 1994, p. 1295.
  14. ^ 1 Timothy 1:3–4 ESV
  15. ^ a b c Drury 2007, p. 1222.
  16. ^ Greek Text Analysis: 1 Timothy 1:4. Biblehub
  17. ^ Note [a] on 1 Timothy 1:4 in ESV
  18. ^ 1 Timothy 1:5 NRSV
  19. ^ 1 Timothy 1:6–7 NRSV
  20. ^ 1 Timothy 1:8 NKJV
  21. ^ a b c d e f g h Liefeld, Walter L. The NIV Application Commentary: 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus. Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan. 1999. ISBN 978-0-310-50110-7. pp. 63–67.
  22. ^ 1 Timothy 1:9 KJV
  23. ^ M. R. Vincent, Marvin R. Vincent. Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament. 1985. Reprint of 1887 work.
  24. ^ Young shows that this list reflects the Decalogue and also fits into the "Hellenistic-Jewish bridge culture" in the Pastorals (Theology of the Pastoral Letters", 24–28)
  25. ^ 1 Timothy 1:10 KJV
  26. ^ Exodus 20:14; Leviticus 20:10
  27. ^ a b Lea, Thomas D.; Griffin, Hayne P., Jr. 1, 2 Timothy, Titus. The New American Commentary; v. 34. B&H Publishing Group. 1992. ISBN 9780805401349. pp. 71–72.
  28. ^ 1 Timothy 1:15 NKJV
  29. ^ Drury 2007, pp. 1222–3.
  30. ^ 1 Timothy 1:20 NKJV
  31. ^ a b Coogan 2007, p. 351 New Testament.


External links[edit]