Paul writes the letter of I Timothy to Timothy from Nicopolis after being released from his two year imprisonment in Rome around 66 AD. The apostle Paul, and his traveling companion Timothy, had apparently traveled from Judea to Macedonia after being released from prison. Before traveling and wintering at Nicopolis it is likely that Paul and Timothy visited with the Hebrew Christians at Judea. The two of them then travel toward Macedonia and Paul leaves Timothy in Ephesus to correct many existing problems among the brethren there (see 1 Timothy 1:3). Paul continues to Nicopolis without his beloved child in the faith Timothy and sometime later writes this epistle (Titus 3:12). I Timothy sets forth the supreme nature of Jehovah God and the validity of His divine revelation. Secondly, Paul's letter sets forth divine instructions for Timothy the Lord's minister in the faith. Thirdly, the letter exposes doctrines and lifestyles that are opposed to divine revelation. Lastly, the letter examines the divinely prescribed character of God's people.
The Supreme Nature of Jehovah
Paul writes three doxological statements in this epistle that sets forth the preeminence of Jehovah God. Paul refers to God as the "King eternal, immortal, invisible, and the only God' (l Tim. 1:17). Again, Paul looks to the validity of God's divine revelation in that His beloved Son, Jesus, had come in the flesh, was crucified, resurrected, and received up in glory (l Tim. 3:16). Finally, Paul identifies Jehovah as the "blessed and only Potentate, King of kings, Lord of lords; who only hath immortality, dwelling in light unapproachable; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honor and power eternal. Amen" (l Tim. 6:15-16). The eternal Potentate, King, and Lord has spoke a divinely authorized law identified as "sound words" (l Tim. 1:10b). No man is at liberty to live or teach otherwise and survive eternally (see 1 Timothy 4:6, 16).
Paul's charge for Timothy the Evangelist
I Timothy is a letter to remind Timothy what his duties as an evangelist are (see I
Tm. 1:3-4; 4:6). Timothy's evangelistic charge was three fold. First, Paul charges Timothy to wage the good warfare against teachers of error and worldliness and put the brethren in mind of these dangers (l Tim. 1:18; 4:6, 11, 13; 6:12). Timothy, in order to be an effective watchman of the Lord's, was to above the law of Jesus Christ (l Tim. 5:19-20). Timothy was to teach the brethren to honor God (l Tim. 1:17), widows (l Tim. 5:3), elders in the church (l Tim. 5:17), and masters or employers (l Tim. 6:1). When men honor these people they show forth an attitude of respect and submission which is obligatory for Christian living. Thirdly, Timothy was warn rich brethren about the dangers and pitfalls involved with money (l Tim. 6:6-10, 17-19).
Erroneous Doctrines in Ephesus
The churches of Ephesus had their fair share of troubles. There were brethren that were obviously teaching different doctrines (l Tim. 1:3; 4:1-2; 6:3ff) while others were putting their hope and faith in fables and genealogies (l Tim. 1:4; 4:7). Still others were participating in "profane babblings" (l Tim. 6:20). When men look to religious satisfaction through fleshly reasoning rather than divine revelation there are immediate consequences. People begin to form parties and envy, strife, railings, evil surmising's, and wrangling of men occurs in the church (l Tim. 6:5-6). The recipe for disaster within the church of Jesus Christ is false teaching.
A Divinely Prescribed Character
The divinely prescribed Character in the epistle is "godliness" which in the Greek is eusebeia and uniformly translated "piety" by the Nestle Marshal Interlinear Greek English New Testament. The word is defined as "reverential feeling; piety (having or exhibiting reverence and earnest compliance in the observance of religion... religious devotion and reverence [a feeling of profound awe and respect and often love; an act of showing respect] to God or parents), devotion, godliness" (Moulton's Analytical Greek Lexicon pp. 176). Paul uses this Greek word seven times in the book (see 1 Timothy 2:2; 3:16; 4:7; 6:3, 5, 6, 11). The godly disposition is respectful to the Potentate Jehovah's divine revelation rather than perverting it (l Tim. 6:3ff). This prescribed character prays (l Tim. 2:8), is modest in dress (l Tim. 2:9-10), identifies the Christian women (l Tim. 2:11-15), seen in all the saint's behavior in the church (l
Tim. 3:15), knows how to treat all people when they are found to be wrong (l Tim. 5:1-2), and honors those to whom honor is due (see 1 Timothy 1:17; 5:3, 17; and 6:1).
Paul charges Timothy to teach and exhort the brethren in these areas so that their hope of eternity will be realized (l Tim. 4:16). The epistle helps us realize that we must all be careful with divine revelation. Let us recognize that it is a law and must be handled correctly with respect, reverence, and fear.
John C. Robertson