1 Timothy 1

Verse 17. Comfort your hearts] Keep your souls ever under the

influence of his Holy Spirit: and stablish you-confirm and

strengthen you in your belief of every good word or doctrine,

which we have delivered unto you; and in the practice of every

good work, recommended and enjoined by the doctrines of the


It is not enough that we believe the truth; we must love the

truth. Antinomianism says: "Believe the doctrines, and ye are

safe." The testimony borne by the Gospel is: Believe, love, obey:

none of these can subsist without the other. The faith of a devil

may exist without loving obedience; but the faith of a true

believer worketh by love; and this faith and love have not respect

to some one commandment, but to all; for God writes his whole law

on the heart of every genuine Christian, and gives him that love

which is the fulfilling of the law.

THE reader will have observed that, in going through this

chapter, while examining the import of every leading word, I have

avoided fixing any specific meaning to terms: the apostasy or

falling away; the man of sin; son of perdition; him who letteth or

withholdeth, &c. The reason is, I have found it extremely

difficult to fix any sense to my own satisfaction; and it was

natural for me to think that, if I could not satisfy myself, it

was not likely I could satisfy my readers. But, as something

should be said relative to the persons and things intended by the

apostle, I choose to give rather what others have said, than

attempt any new mode of interpretation. The great variety of

explanations given by wise and learned men only prove the

difficulty of the place.

1. The general run of Protestant writers understand the whole as

referring to the popes and Church of Rome, or the whole system of

the papacy. 2. Others think that the defection of the Jewish

nation, from their allegiance to the Roman emperor, is what is to

be understood by the apostasy or falling off; and that all the

other terms refer to the destruction of Jerusalem. 3. The fathers

understood the Antichrist to be intended, but of this person they

seem to have formed no specific idea. 4. Dr. Hammond refers the

apostasy to the defection of the primitive Christians to the

Gnostic heresy; and supposes that, by the man of sin and son of

perdition, Simon Magus is meant. 5. Grotius applies the whole to

Caius Caesar. 6. Wetstein applies the apostasy to the rebellion

and slaughter of the three princes that were proclaimed by the

Roman armies, previously to the reign of Vespasian; and supposes

Titus and the Flavian family to be intended by the man of sin and

son of perdition. 7. Schoettgen contends strongly that the whole

refers to the case of the Jews, incited to rebellion by the

scribes and Pharisees, and to the utter and final destruction of

the rabbinic and Pharisaic system; and thinks he finds something

in their spirit and conduct, and in what has happened to them, to

illustrate every word in this prophecy. Dr. Whitby is nearly of

the same sentiments. 8. Calmet follows, in the main, the

interpretation given by the ancient fathers; and wonders at the

want of candour in the Protestant writers, who have gleaned up

every abusive tale against the bishops and Church of Rome; and

asks them, would they be willing that the Catholics should credit

all the aspersions cast on Protestantism by its enemies? 9.

Bishop Newton has examined the whole prophecy with his usual

skill and judgment. The sum of what he says, as abridged by Dr.

Dodd, I think it right to subjoin. The principal part of modern

commentators follow his steps. He applies the whole to the Romish

Church: the apostasy, its defection from the pure doctrines of

Christianity; and the man of sin, &c. the general succession of

the popes of Rome. But we must hear him for himself, as he takes

up the subject in the order of the verses.

Verses 3, 4. For that day shall not come, except, &c.-"The day

of Christ shall not come except there come the apostasy first."

The apostasy here described is plainly not of a civil but of a

religious nature; not a revolt from the government, but a

defection from the true religion and worship. In the original, it

is the apostasy, with an article to give it an emphasis; the

article being added signifies, "that famous and before-mentioned

prophecy." So likewise is the man of sin with the like article,

and the like emphasis. If, then, the notion of the man of sin be

derived from any ancient prophet, it must be derived from

Da 7:25; 11:36. Any man may be satisfied that St. Paul alluded

to Daniel's description, because he has not only borrowed the same

ideas, but has even adopted some of the phrases and expressions.

The man of sin may signify either a single man, or a succession of

men; a succession of men being meant in Daniel, it is probable

that the same was intended here also. It is the more probable,

because a single man appears hardly sufficient for the work here

assigned; and it is agreeable to the phraseology of Scripture, and

especially to that of the prophets, to speak of a body or number

of men, under the character of one: thus, a king, Da 7:8;

Re 17:1-18, is used for a succession of kings. The man of sin

being to be expressed from Da 7:24, according to the Greek

translation, He shall exceed in evil all that went before him; and

he may fulfil the character either by promoting wickedness in

general, or by advancing idolatry in particular, as the word sin

signifies frequently in Scripture. The son of perdition is also

the denomination of the traitor Judas, Joh 17:12, which implies

that the man of sin should be, like Judas, a false apostle; like

him, betray Christ; and, like him, be devoted to destruction. Who

opposeth, &c., is manifestly copied from Daniel, He shall exalt

himself, &c. The features exactly resemble each other: He

opposeth and exalteth himself above all; or, according to the

Greek, above every one that is called God, or that is worshipped.

The Greek word for worshipped is σεβασμα, alluding to the Greek

title of the Roman emperors, σεβαστος, which signifies august or

venerable. He shall oppose; for the prophets speak of things

future as present; he shall oppose and exalt himself, not only

above inferior magistrates, (who are sometimes called gods in holy

writ,) but even above the greatest emperors; and shall arrogate to

himself Divine honours. So that he, as God, sitteth in the

temple, &c. By the temple of God the apostle could not well mean

the temple of Jerusalem; because that, he knew, would be destroyed

within a few years. After the death of Christ the temple of

Jerusalem is never called by the apostles the temple of God; and

if at any time they make mention of the house or temple of God,

they mean the Church in general, or every particular believer.

Who ever will consult 1Co 3:16, 17; 2Co 6:16; 1Ti 3:15;

Re 3:12; will want no examples to prove that, under the Gospel

dispensation, the temple of God is the Church of Christ; and the

man of sin sitting implies this ruling and presiding there; and

sitting there as God implies his claiming Divine authority in

things spiritual as well as temporal; and showing himself that he

is God, implies his doing it with ostentation.

Verses 5, 6, 7. Remember ye not, &c.-The apostle thought it

part of his duty, as he made it a part of his preaching and

doctrine, to forewarn his new converts of the grand apostasy that

would infect the Church, even while he was at Thessalonica. From

these verses it appears that the man of sin was not then revealed;

his time was not yet come, or the season of his manifestation.

The mystery of iniquity was indeed already working; the seeds of

corruption were sown, but they were not grown up to maturity; the

man of sin was yet hardly conceived in the womb; it must be some

time before he could be brought forth; there was some obstacle

that hindered his appearing. What this was we cannot determine

with absolute certainty at so great a distance of time; but if we

may rely upon the concurrent testimony of the fathers, it was the

Roman empire. Most probably it was somewhat relating to the

higher powers, because the apostle observes such caution; he

mentioned it in discourse, but would not commit it to writing.

Verse 8. Then shall that Wicked be revealed.-When the

obstacle, mentioned in the preceding verse, should be removed,

then shall that wicked, &c. Nothing can be plainer than that the

lawless, (οανομος,) as the Greek signifies, the wicked one, here

mentioned, and the man of sin, must be one and the same person.

The apostle was speaking before of what hindered that he should be

revealed, and would continue to hinder it till it was taken away;

and then the wicked one, &c. Not that he should be consumed

immediately after he was revealed. But the apostle, to comfort

the Thessalonians, no sooner mentions his revelation than he

foretells also his destruction, even before he describes his other

qualifications. His other qualifications should have been

described first, in order of time; but the apostle hastens to what

was first and warmest in his thoughts and wishes: Whom the Lord

shall consume, &c. If these two clauses refer to two distinct and

different events, the meaning manifestly is, that the Lord Jesus

shall gradually consume him with the free preaching and

publication of his word; and shall utterly destroy him at his

second coming, in the glory of his Father, with all the holy

angels. If these two clauses relate to one and the same event, it

is a pleonasm very usual in the sacred, as well as other oriental

writings; and the purport plainly is, that the Lord Jesus shall

destroy him with the greatest facility, when he shall be revealed

from heaven, as the apostle has expressed it in the preceding


Verses 9-12. Whose coming is after, &c.-The apostle was eager

to foretell the destruction of the man of sin; and for this

purpose having broken in upon his subject, he now returns to it

again, and describes the other qualifications by which this wicked

one should advance and establish himself in the world. He should

rise to credit and authority by the most diabolical methods;

should pretend to supernatural powers; and boast of revelations,

visions, and miracles, false in themselves, and applied to promote

false doctrines.

Verse 9. He should likewise practise all other wicked acts of

deceit; should be guilty of the most impious frauds and

impositions upon mankind; but should prevail only among those who

are destitute of a sincere affection for the truth; whereby they

might attain eternal salvation.

Verse 10. And indeed it is a just and righteous judgment of

God, to give them over to vanities and lies in this world, and to

condemnation in the next, who have no regard to truth and virtue,

but delight in falsehood and wickedness; 2Th 2:11, 12.

Upon this survey there appears little room to doubt of the

genuine sense and meaning of the passage. The Thessalonians, as

we have seen from some expressions in the former epistle, were

alarmed as if the end of the world was at hand. The apostle, to

correct their mistake and dissipate their fears, assures them that

a great apostasy, or defection of the Christians from the true

faith and worship, must happen before the coming of Christ. This

apostasy all the concurrent marks and characters will justify us

in charging upon the Church of Rome. The true Christian worship

is the worship of the one only God, through the one only Mediator,

the man Christ Jesus; and from this worship the Church of Rome has

most notoriously departed, by substituting other mediators, and

invocating and adoring saints and angels, nothing is apostasy, if

idolatry be not. And are not the members of the Church of Rome

guilty of idolatry in the worship of images, in the adoration of

the host, in the invocation of angels and saints, and in the

oblation of prayers and praises to the Virgin Mary, as much or

more than to God blessed for ever? This is the grand corruption

of the Christian Church: this is the apostasy as it is

emphatically called, and deserves to be called; which was not only

predicted by St. Paul, but by the Prophet Daniel likewise. If

the apostasy be rightly charged upon the Church of Rome, it

follows of consequence that the man of sin is the pope; not

meaning any pope in particular, but the pope in general, as the

chief head and supporter of this apostasy. He is properly the man

of sin, not only on account of the scandalous lives of many popes,

but by reason of their most scandalous doctrines and principles;

dispensing with the most necessary duties; and granting, or rather

selling, pardons and indulgences to the most abominable crimes.

Or, if by sin be meant idolatry in particular, as in the Old

Testament, it is evident how he has perverted the worship of God

to superstition and idolatry of the grossest kind. He also, like

the false apostle, Judas, is the son of perdition; whether

actively, as being the cause of destruction to others; or

passively, as being devoted to destruction himself. He

opposeth-he is the great adversary of God and man; persecuting and

destroying, by croisades, inquisitions, and massacres, those

Christians who prefer the word of God to the authority of men.

The heathen emperor of Rome may have slain his thousands of

innocent Christians; but the Christian bishop of Rome has slain

his ten thousands. He exalteth himself above all that is called

God, or is worshipped-not only above inferior magistrates, but

likewise above bishops and primates; not only above bishops and

primates, but likewise above kings and emperors; deposing some,

obliging them to kiss his toe, to hold his stirrup, treading even

upon the neck of a king, and kicking off the imperial crown with

his foot; nay, not only kings and emperors, but likewise above

Christ and God himself; making even the word of God of none effect

by his traditions-forbidding what God has commanded; as marriage,

the use of the Scriptures, &c.; and also commanding or allowing

what God has forbidden, as idolatry, persecution, &c. So that he,

as God, sitteth in the temple of God, &c.; he is therefore in

profession a Christian, and a Christian bishop. His sitting in

the temple of God implies plainly his having a seat or cathedra in

the Christian Church; and he sitteth there as God, especially at

his inauguration, when he sits upon the high altar in St. Peter's

church, and makes the table of the Lord his footstool, and in that

position receives adoration. At all times he exercises Divine

authority in the Church, showing himself that he is God-affecting

Divine titles, and asserting that his decrees are of the same or

greater authority than the word of God. So that the pope is

evidently, according to the titles given him in the public

decretals, The God upon earth; at least there is no one, like him,

who exalteth himself above every god; no one, like him, who

sitteth as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is

God. The foundations of popery were laid in the apostle's days,

but of which the superstructure was raised by degrees; and several

ages passed before the building was completed, and the man of sin

revealed in full perfection. The tradition that generally

prevailed was that that which hindered was the Roman empire: this

tradition might have been derived even from the apostle himself;

and therefore the primitive Christians, in the public offices of

the Church, prayed for its peace and welfare, as knowing that,

when the Roman empire should be dissolved and broken in pieces,

the empire of the man of sin would be raised upon its ruins. In

the same proportion as the power of the empire decreased, the

authority of the Church increased, and the latter at the expense

and ruin of the former; till at length the pope grew up above all,

and the wicked, or lawless one, was fully manifested and revealed.

His coming is after the energy of Satan, and does it require

any particular proof that the pretensions of the pope, and the

corruption of the Church of Rome, are all supported and authorized

by feigned visions and miracles, by pious frauds and impositions

of every kind? But how much soever the man of sin may be exalted,

and how long soever he may reign, yet at last the Lord shall

consume him, &c. This is partly taken from Isa 11:4,

And with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked one;

where the Jews put an emphasis upon the words the wicked one; as

appears from the Chaldee, which renders it, "He shall destroy the

wicked Roman." If the two clauses, as said in the note on

2Th 2:8, relate to two different events, the meaning is, "that

the Lord Jesus shall gradually consume him with the free preaching

of the Gospel; and shall utterly destroy him at his second coming

in the glory of the Father." The former began to take effect at

the Reformation; and the latter will be accomplished in God's

appointed time. The man of sin is now upon the decline, and he

will be totally abolished when Christ shall come in judgment.

Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Origen, Lactantius, Cyril of Jerusalem,

Ambrose, Hilary, Jerome, Augustine, and Chrysostom, give much the

same interpretation that has here been given of the whole passage.

And it must be owned that this is the genuine meaning of the

apostle; that this only is consistent with the context; that every

other interpretation is forced and unnatural; that this is liable

to no material objection; that it coincides perfectly with Daniel;

that it is agreeable to the tradition of the primitive Church; and

that it has been exactly fulfilled in all its particulars; which

cannot be said of any other interpretation whatever. Such a

prophecy as this is an illustrious proof of Divine revelation, and

an excellent antidote to the poison of popery.

See the Dissertations on the Prophecies; and Dodd, as above.





Chronological Notes relative to this Epistle.

-Year of the Constantinopolitan era of the world, or that used

by the Byzantine historians, 5573.

-Year of the Alexandrian era of the world, 5567.

-Year of the Antiochian era of the world, 5557.

-Year of the Julian period, 4775.

-Year of the world, according to Archbishop Usher, 4069.

-Year of the world, according to Eusebius, in his Chronicon,


-Year of the minor Jewish era of the world, or that in common

use, 3825.

-Year of the Greater Rabbinical era of the world, 4424.

-Year from the Flood, according to Archbishop Usher, and the

English Bible, 2413.

-Year of the Cali yuga, or Indian era of the Deluge, 3167.

-Year of the era of Iphitus, or since the first commencement of

the Olympic games, 1005.

-Year of the era of Nabonassar, king of Babylon, 812.

-Year of the CCXIth Olympiad, 1.

-Year from the building of Rome, according to Fabius Pictor,


-Year from the building of Rome, according to Frontinus, 816.

-Year from the building of Rome, according to the Fasti

Capitolini, 817.

-Year from the building of Rome, according to Varro, which was

that most generally used, 818.

-Year of the era of the Seleucidae, 377.

-Year of the Caesarean era of Antioch, 113.

-Year of the Julian era, 110.

-Year of the Spanish era, 103.

-Year from the birth of Jesus Christ according to Archbishop

Usher, 69.

-Year of the vulgar era of Christ's nativity, 65.

-Year of Gessius Florus, governor of the Jews, 1.

-Year of Vologesus, king of the Parthians, 16.

-Year of L. C. Gallus, governor of Syria, 1.

-Year of Matthias, high priest of the Jews, 3.

-Year of the Dionysian period, or Easter Cycle, 66.

-Year of the Grecian Cycle of nineteen years, or Common Golden

Number, 9; or the first year after the third embolismic.

-Year of the Jewish Cycle of nineteen years, 6, or the second


-Year of the Solar Cycle, 18.

-Dominical Letter, it being the first after Bissextile, or Leap

Year, F.

-Day of the Jewish Passover, according to the Roman computation

of time, the VIIth of the ides of April, or in our common mode

of reckoning, the seventh of April, which happened in this year

on the day after the Jewish Sabbath.

-Easter Sunday, the day after the ides of April, or the XVIIIth

of the Calends of May, named by the Jews the 22d of Nisan or

Abib; and by Europeans in general, the 14th of April.

-Epact, or the age of the moon on the 22d of March, (the day of

the earliest Easter Sunday possible,) 28.

-Epact, according to the present mode of computation, or the

moon's age on New Year's day, or the Calends of January, 5.

-Monthly Epacts, or the moon's age on the Calends of each month

respectively, (beginning with January,) 5,7,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,


-Number of Direction, or the number of days from the

twenty-first of March to the Jewish Passover, 17.

-Year of the reign of Caius Tiberius Claudius Nero Caesar, the

fifth Roman emperor computing from Augustus Caesar, 12.

-Roman Consuls, A. Licinius Nerva Silanus, and M. Vestinius

Atticus; the latter of whom was succeeded by Anicius Cerealis,

on July 1st.

Dr. Lardner and others suppose this epistle to have been

written in A. D. 56, i.e. nine years earlier than is stated

above. See the preceding preface, where this point is largely

considered, and also the general observations prefixed to the

Acts of the Apostles.


Paul's salutation to Timothy, 1, 2.

For what purpose he had left him at Ephesus, 3.

What the false apostles taught in opposition to the truth, 4-7.

The true use of the law, 8-11.

He thanks God for his own conversion, and describes his former

state, 12-17.

Exhorts Timothy to hold fast faith and a good conscience, and

speaks of Hymeneus and Alexander who had made shipwreck of their

faith, 18-20.


Verse 1. Paul an apostle-by the commandment of God] We have

already seen that the term αποστολος, apostle, literally

signifies a person sent from one to another, without implying any

particular dignity in the person, or importance in the message.

But it is differently used in the New Testament, being applied to

those who were sent expressly from God Almighty, with the message

of salvation to mankind. It is, therefore, the highest character

any human being can have; and he message is the most important

which even God himself can send to his intelligent creatures. It

was by the express command of God that St. Paul went to the

Gentiles preaching the doctrine of salvation by faith in Christ


Jesus Christ-our hope] Without Jesus, the world was hopeless;

the expectation of being saved can only come to mankind by his

Gospel. He is called our hope, as he is called our life, our

peace, our righteousness, &c., because from him hope, life,

peace, righteousness, and all other blessings proceed.

Verse 2. My own son in the faith] Brought to salvation

through Christ by my ministry alone. Probably the apostle speaks

here according to this Jewish maxim:

He who teaches the law to his neighbour's son

is considered by the Scripture as if he had begotten him;

Sanhedrin, fol. xix. 2. And they quote Nu 3:1, as proving it:

These are the generations of Aaron and Moses-and these are the

names of the sons of Aaron. "Aaron," say they, "begot them, but

Moses instructed them; therefore they are called by his name."

See Schoettgen.

But γνησιωτεκνω may mean my beloved son; for in this sense το

γνησιον is not unfrequently used.

In the faith] The word πιστις, faith, is taken here for the

whole of the Christian religion, faith in Christ being its

essential characteristic.

Grace, mercy, and peace] GRACE, the favour and approbation of

God. MERCY, springing from that grace, pardoning, purifying, and

supporting. PEACE, the consequence of this manifested mercy,

peace of conscience, and peace with God; producing internal

happiness, quietness, and assurance.

Verse 3. I besought thee] The apostle had seen that a bad

seed had been sown in the Church; and, as he was obliged to go

then into Macedonia, he wished Timothy, on whose prudence, piety,

and soundness in the faith he could depend, to stay behind and

prevent the spreading of a doctrine that would have been

pernicious to the people's souls. I have already supposed that

this epistle was written after Paul had been delivered from his

first imprisonment at Rome, about the end of the year 64, or the

beginning of 65. See the preface. When, therefore, the apostle

came from Rome into Asia, he no doubt visited Ephesus, where, ten

years before, he had planted a Christian Church, and, as he had

not time to tarry then, he left Timothy to correct abuses.

That thou mightest charge some] He does not name any persons;

the Judaizing teachers are generally supposed to be those

intended; and the term τισι, some, certain persons, which he

uses, is expressive of high disapprobation, and at the same time

of delicacy: they were not apostles, nor apostolic men; but they

were undoubtedly members of the Church at Ephesus, and might yet

be reclaimed.

Verse 4. Neither give heed to fables] Idle fancies; things of

no moment; doctrines and opinions unauthenticated; silly legends,

of which no people ever possessed a greater stock than the Jews.

Their Talmud abounds with them; and the English reader may find

them in abundance in Stehlin's Jewish Traditions, 2 vols. 8vo.

Endless genealogies] I suppose the apostle to mean those

genealogies which were uncertain-that never could be made out,

either in the ascending or descending line; and, principally,

such as referred to the great promise of the Messiah, and to the

priesthood. The Jews had scrupulously preserved their

genealogical tables till the advent of Christ and the evangelists

had recourse to them, and appealed to them in reference to our

Lord's descent from the house of David; Matthew taking this

genealogy in the descending, Luke in the ascending, line. And

whatever difficulties we may now find in these genealogies, they

were certainly clear to the Jews; nor did the most determined

enemies of the Gospel attempt to raise one objection to it from

the appeal which the evangelists had made to their own public and

accredited tables. All was then certain; but we are told that

Herod destroyed the public registers; he, being an Idumean, was

jealous of the noble origin of the Jews; and, that none might be

able to reproach him with his descent, be ordered the

genealogical tables, which were kept among the archives in the

temple, to be burnt. See Euseb. H. E., lib. i. cap. 8. From

this time the Jews could refer to their genealogies only from

memory, or from those imperfect tables which had been preserved

in private hands; and to make out any regular line from these

must have been endless and uncertain. It is probably to this

that the apostle refers; I mean the endless and useless labour

which the attempts to make out these genealogies must produce, the

authentic tables being destroyed. This, were all other proofs

wanting, would be an irresistible argument against the Jews that

the Messiah is come; for their own prophets had distinctly marked

out the line by which he was to come; the genealogies are now all

lost; nor is there a Jew in the universe that can show from what

tribe he is descended. There can, therefore, be no Messiah to

come, as none could show, let him have what other pretensions he

might, that he sprang from the house of David. The Jews do not,

at present, pretend to have any such tables; and, far from being

able to prove the Messiah from his descent, they are now obliged

to say that, when, the Messiah comes, he will restore the

genealogies by the Holy Spirit that shall rest upon him. "For,"

says Maimonides, "in the days of the Messiah, when his kingdom

shall be established, all the Israelites shall be gathered

together unto him; and all shall be classed in their genealogies

by his mouth, through the Holy Spirit that shall rest upon him; as

it is written, Mal 3:3:

He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he shall

purify the sons of Levi. First he will purify the Levites, and

shall say: 'This man is a descendant from the priests; and this,

of the stock of the Levites;' and he shall cast out those who are

not of the stock of Israel; for behold it is said, Ezr 2:63:

And the Tirshatha said-they should not eat of the most holy

things, till there stood up a priest with Urim and Thummim.

Thus, by the Holy Spirit, the genealogies are to be revised."

See Schoettgen.

Some learned men suppose that the apostle alludes here to the

AEons, among the Gnostics and Valentinians, or whom there were

endless numbers to make up what was called their pleroma; or to

the sephiroth, or splendours of the Cabalists. But it is certain

that these heresies had not arrived to any formidable head in the

apostle's time; and it has long been a doubt with me whether they

even existed at that time: and I think it the most simple way,

and most likely to be the intention of the apostle, to refer all

to the Jewish genealogies, which he calls Jewish fables,

Tit 1:14, to which we know they were strongly and even

conscientiously attached and which, at this time, it must have

been extremely difficult to make out.

Instead of γενεαλογιαις, genealogies, some learned men have

conjectured that the original word was κεςολογιαις, empty words,

vain speeches; but this conjecture is not supported by any MS. or


Which minister questions] They are the foundation of endless

altercations and disputes; for, being uncertain and not

consecutive, every person had a right to call them in question;

as we may naturally suppose, from the state in which the

genealogical tables of the Jews then were, that many chasms must

be supplied in different lines, and consequently much must be

done by conjecture.

Rather than godly edifying] Such discussions as these had no

tendency to promote piety. Many, no doubt, employed much of that

time in inquiring who were their ancestors, which they should

have spent in obtaining that grace by which, being born from

above, they might have become the sons and daughters of God


Instead of οικοδομιανθεου, godly edifying, or the

edification of God, οικονομιανθεου, the economy or dispensation

of God, is the reading of almost every MS. in which this part of

the epistle is extant, (for some MSS. are here mutilated,) and of

almost all the versions, and the chief of the Greek fathers. Of

the genuineness of this reading scarcely a doubt can be formed;

and though the old reading, which is supported by the Latin

fathers and the Vulgate, gives a good sense, yet the connection

and spirit of the place show that the latter must be the true

reading. Griesbach has received this reading into the text.

What had Jewish genealogies to do with the Gospel? Men were not

to be saved by virtue of the privileges or piety of their

ancestors. The Jews depended much on this. We have Abraham to

our father imposed silence on every check of conscience, and every

godly reproof which they received for their profligacy and

unbelief. In the dispensation of God, FAITH in Christ Jesus was

the only means and way of salvation. These endless and uncertain

genealogies produced no faith; indeed they were intended as a

substitute for it; for those who were intent on making out their

genealogical descent paid little attention to faith in Christ.

They ministered questions rather than that economy of God which is

by faith. This dispensation, says the apostle, is by faith,

οικονομιανθεουτηνενπιστει. It was not by natural descent, nor

by works, but by faith in Christ; therefore it was necessary that

the people who were seeking salvation in any other way should be

strictly informed that all their toil and labour would be vain.

Verse 5. Now the end of the commandment is charity] These

genealogical questions lead to strife and debate; and the

dispensation of God leads to love both to God and man, through

faith in Christ. These genealogical questions leave the heart

under the influence of all its vile tempers and evil propensities;

FAITH in Jesus purifies the heart. No inquiry of this kind can add

to any thing by which the guilt of sin can be taken away; but the

Gospel proclaims pardon, through the blood of the Lamb, to every

believing penitent. The end, aim, and design of God in giving this

dispensation to the world is, that men may have an unfeigned

faith, such as lays hold on Christ crucified, and produces a good

conscience from a sense of the pardon received, and leads on to

purity of heart; LOVE to God and man being the grand issue of the

grace of Christ here below, and this fully preparing the soul for

eternal glory. He whose soul is filled with love to God and man

has a pure heart, a good conscience, and unfeigned faith. But

these blessings no soul can ever acquire, but according to God's

dispensation of faith.

The paraphrase and note of Dr. Macknight on this verse are very

proper: "Now the scope of the charge to be given by thee to these

teachers is, that, instead of inculcating fables and genealogies,

they inculcate love to God and man, proceeding from a pure heart,

and directed by a good conscience, and nourished by unfeigned

faith in the Gospel doctrine. The word παραγγελια denotes a

message or order, brought to one from another, and delivered by

word of mouth. The charge here meant is that which the apostle

ordered Timothy to deliver to the teachers in Ephesus; for he had

said, 1Ti 1:3:

I had besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, ιναπαραγγειλνς,

that thou mightest charge some: here he tells him what the scope

of this charge was to be."

Of faith unfeigned] πιστεωςανυποκριτου. A faith not

hypocritical. The apostle appears to allude to the Judaizing

teachers, who pretended faith in the Gospel, merely that they

might have the greater opportunity to bring back to the Mosaic

system those who had embraced the doctrine of Christ crucified.

This IS evident from the following verse.

Verse 6. From which some having swerved] From which some,

though they have pretended to aim at the τελος, scope, or

mark, have missed that mark. This is the import of the original

word αστοχησαντες.

Turned aside unto vain jangling] The original term,

ματαιολογιαν, signifies empty or vain talking; discourses that

turn to no profit; a great many words and little sense; and that

sense not worth the pains of hearing. Such, indeed, is all

preaching where Jesus Christ is not held forth.

Verse 7. Teachers of the law] To be esteemed or celebrated as

rabbins; to be reputed cunning in solving knotty questions and

enigmas, which answered no end to true religion. Of such the

rabbinical teaching was full.

Understanding neither what they say] This is evident from

almost all the Jewish comments which yet remain. Things are

asserted which are either false or dubious; words, the import of

which they did not understand, were brought to illustrate them:

so that it may be said, They understand not what they say, nor

whereof they affirm. I will give one instance from the Jerusalem

Targum, on Ge 1:15:

And God made two great lights, and they were equal in splendour

twenty-one years, the six hundred and seventy-second part of an

hour excepted: and afterwards the moon brought a false accusation

against the sun, and therefore she was lessened; and God made the

sun the greater light to superintend the day, &c. I could produce

a thousand of a similar complexion.

Verse 8. But we know that the law is good] The law as given

by God, is both good in itself and has a good tendency. This is

similar to what the apostle had asserted, Ro 7:12-16:

The law is holy; and the commandment is holy, just, and good;

where see the note.

If a man use it lawfully] That is, interpret it according to

its own spirit and design, and use it for the purpose for which

God has given it; for the ceremonial law was a schoolmaster to

lead us unto Christ, and Christ is the end of that law for

justification to every one that believes. Now those who did not

use the law in reference to these ends, did not use it

lawfully-they did not construe it according to its original

design and meaning.

Verse 9. The law is not made for a righteous man] There is a

moral law as well as a ceremonial law: as the object of the

latter is to lead us to Christ; the object of the former is to

restrain crimes, and inflict punishment on those that commit

them. It was, therefore, not made for the righteous as a

restrainer of crimes, and an inflicter of punishments; for the

righteous avoid sin, and by living to the glory of God expose not

themselves to its censures. This seems to be the mind of the

apostle; he does not say that the law was not MADE for a

righteous man, but ουκειται, it does not LIE against a

righteous man; because he does not transgress it: but it lies

against the wicked; for such as the apostle mentions have broken

it, and grievously too, and are condemned by it. The word κειται,

lies, refers to the custom of writing laws on boards, and hanging

them up in public places within reach of every man, that they

might be read by all; thus all would see against whom the law lay.

The lawless] ανομοις. Those who will not be bound by a law,

and acknowledge none, therefore have no rule of moral conduct.

Disobedient] ανυποτακτοις. Those who acknowledge no

authority; from α, negative, and οποτασσω, to subject;

they neither acknowledge law, nor executive authority, and

consequently endeavour to live as they list; and from such

dispositions all the crimes in the following catalogue may

naturally spring.

For the ungodly] ασεβεσι. The irreligious-those who do

not worship God, or have no true worship; from α, negative,

and σεβω, to worship. For sinners, αμαπτωλοις those who

transgress the laws; from α, negative, and μαρπτω, to hit

the mark. This has been elsewhere explained.

For unholy] ανοσιοις. Persons totally polluted-unclean

within, and unclean without; from α, negative, and οσιος


And profane] βεβηλοις. Such who are so unholy and

abominable as not to be fit to attend any public worship; from

βε, denoting privation or separation, and βηλος, a

threshold or pavement, particularly of a temple. Our word profane

comes from procul a fano, "far from the temple." When the ancients,

even heathens, were about to perform some very sacred rites, they

were accustomed to command the irreligious to keep at a distance;

hence that saying in a fragment of Orpheus:-

φθεγξομαιοιςθεμιςεστι. θυραςδεπιθεσθεβεβηλοισ


"I will speak to whom it is lawful; but these doors,

O, shut against the profane."

And that of Virgil, AEn. vi. ver. 258.

Procul! O procul! este profani.

Far! ye profane! get hence.

Murderers of fathers] πατραλωαις. The murderer of a father

or a mother, notwithstanding the deep fall of man, and the

general profligacy of the world, has been so rare, and is a crime

so totally opposite to nature, that few civilized nations have

found it necessary to make laws against it. Yet, such monsters,

like the most awful and infrequent portents, have sometimes

terrified the world with their appearance. But I think the

original does not necessarily imply the murder of a father or of

a mother; πατραλωας comes from πατερα, a father, and

αλοιαω, to strike, and may mean simply beating or striking a

father or mother: this is horrible enough; but to murder a parent

out-herods Herod.

Manslayers] ανδροφονοις. Murderers simply; all who take away

the life of a human being contrary to law. For no crime, unless

it be murder, should any man lose his life. If the law did not

speak differently, I should not scruple to say that he whose life

is taken away, except for murder, is murdered.

Verse 10. For whoremongers] πορνοις. Adulterers,

fornicators, and prostitutes of all sorts.

Them that defile themselves with mankind] αρσενοκοιταις.

From αρσην, a male, and κοιτη, a bed; a word too bad to be

explained. A sodomite.

Men-stealers] ανδραποδισταις. Slave-dealers; whether those

who carry on the traffic in human flesh and blood; or those who

steal a person in order to sell him into bondage; or those who

buy such stolen men or women, no matter of what colour or what

country; or those who sow dissensions among barbarous tribes in

order that they who are taken in war may be sold into slavery; or

the nations who legalize or connive at such traffic: all these

are men-stealers, and God classes them with the most flagitious

of mortals.

For liars] ψευσταις. They who speak for truth what they know

to be false; and even they who tell the truth in such a way as to

lead others to draw a contrary meaning from it.

For perjured persons] επιορκοις. From επι, against, and

ορκος, an oath; such as do or leave undone any thing

contrary to an oath or moral engagement, whether that engagement

be made by what is called swearing, or by an affirmation or

promise of any kind.

And if there be any other thing] Every species of vice and

immorality, all must be necessarily included, that is contrary to

sound doctrine-to the immutable moral law of God, as well as to

the pure precepts of Christianity where that law is incorporated,

explained, and rendered, if possible, more and more binding.

Verse 11. According to the glorious Gospel] The sound

doctrine mentioned above, which is here called ευαγγελιοντης

δοξηςτουμακαριουθεου, the Gospel of the glory of the blessed

or happy God-a dispensation which exhibits the glory of all his

attributes; and, by saving man in such a way as is consistent

with the glory of all the Divine perfections, while it brings

peace and good will among men, brings glory to God in the

highest. Sin has dishonoured God, and robbed him of his glory;

the Gospel provides for the total destruction of sin, even in

this world, and thus brings back to God his glory.

Verse 12. I thank Christ] I feel myself under infinite

obligation to Christ who hath strengthened me, ενδυναμωσαντι, who

hath endued me with various miraculous gifts of his Holy Spirit,

and put me into the ministry, διακονιαν, the deaconship, the

service of mankind, by preaching the Gospel, for that he counted

me-he knew that I would be, faithful to the charge that was

delivered to me.

Verse 13. A blasphemer] Speaking impiously and unjustly of

Jesus, his doctrine, his ways, and his followers.

And-persecutor] Endeavouring, to the uttermost of his power,

to exterminate all who called on the name of the Lord Jesus.

And injurious] καιυβριστην. As full of insolence as I was of

malevolence; and yet, all the while, thinking I did God service,

while sacrificing men and women to my own prejudices and


I did it ignorantly in unbelief] Not having considered the

nature and evidences of Christianity, and not having believed

that Jesus was the promised Messiah, I acted wholly under the

prejudices that influenced my countrymen in general. God

therefore showed me mercy, because I acted under this influence,

not knowing better. This extension of mercy, does not, however,

excuse the infuriated conduct of Saul of Tarsus, for he says

himself that he was exceedingly mad against them. Let us beware,

lest we lose the man's former crimes in his after character.

Verse 14. The grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant] The

original is very emphatic, that grace of our Lord,

υπερεπλεονασε, hath superabounded-it manifested itself in a way

of extraordinary mercy.

With faith and love] Not only pardoning such offences, but

leading me to the full experimental knowledge of Christianity; of

that faith and love which are essential to it; and giving me

authority to proclaim it to mankind.

Verse 15. Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners]

This is one of the most glorious truths in the book of God; the

most important that ever reached the human ear, or can be

entertained by the heart of man. All men are sinners; and as

such condemned, justly condemned, to eternal death. Christ Jesus

became incarnate, suffered, and died to redeem them; and, by his

grace and Spirit, saves them from their sins. This saying or

doctrine he calls, first, a faithful or true saying;

πιστοςολογος, it is a doctrine that may be credited, without

the slightest doubt or hesitation; God himself has spoken it; and

the death of Christ and the mission of the Holy Ghost, sealing

pardon on the souls of all who believe, have confirmed and

established the truth.

Secondly, it is worthy of all acceptation; as all need it, it

is worthy of being received by all. It is designed for the whole

human race, for all that are sinners is applicable to all,

because all are sinners; and may be received by all, being put

within every man's reach, and brought to every man's ear and

bosom, either by the letter of the word, or, where that

revelation is not yet come, by the power of the Divine Spirit,

the true light from Christ that lightens every man that cometh

into the world. From this also it is evident that the death of

Christ, and all its eternally saving effects, were designed for

every man.

Of whom I am chief] ωνπρωτοςειμιεγω. Confounding Paul

the apostle, in the fulness of his faith and love, with Saul of

Tarsus, in his ignorance, unbelief, and persecuting rage, we are

in the habit of saying: "This is a hyperbolical expression,

arguing the height of the apostle's modesty and humility and must

not be taken according to the letter." I see it not in this

light; I take it not with abatement; it is strictly and literally

true: take the whole of the apostle's conduct, previously to his

conversion, into consideration, and was there a greater sinner

converted to God from the incarnation to his own time? Not one;

he was the chief; and, keeping his blasphemy, persecution, and

contumely in view, he asserts: Of all that the Lord Jesus came

into the world to save, and of all that he had saved to that

time, I am chief. And who, however humble now, and however

flagitious before, could have contested the points with him? He

was what he has said, and as he has said it. And it is very

probable that the apostle refers to those in whom the grace and

mercy of God were, at the first promulgation of the Gospel,

manifested: and comparing himself with all these he could with

propriety say, ωνπρωτοςειμι, of whom I am the first; the first

who, from a blasphemer, persecutor (and might we not add

murderer? see the part he took in the martyrdom of Stephen,)

became a preacher of that Gospel which I had persecuted. And

hence, keeping this idea strictly in view, he immediately adds:

Howbeit, for this cause I obtained mercy; that in me FIRST,

πρωτω, Jesus Christ might show forth all longsuffering, for a

pattern TO THEM which should HEREAFTER, τωνμελλοντων believe

on him to life everlasting. And this great display of the

pardoning mercy of God, granted in so singular a manner, at the

very first promulgation of the Gospel, was most proper to be

produced as a pattern for the encouragement of all penitent

sinners to the end of time. If Jesus Christ, with whom there can

be no respect of persons, saved Saul of Tarsus, no sinner need


Verse 17. Now unto the King eternal] This burst of

thanksgiving and gratitude to God, naturally arose from the

subject then under his pen and eye. God has most wondrously

manifested his mercy, in this beginning of the Gospel, by saving

me, and making me a pattern to all them that shall hereafter

believe on Christ. He is βασιλευςτωναιωνων, the king of

eternities; the eternity a parte ante, and the eternity a parte

post; the eternity that was before time was, and the eternity

that shall be when time is no more. Therefore, ever living

to justify and save sinners, to the end of the world.

Immortal] αφθαρτω. Incorruptible-not liable to decay or

corruption; a simple uncompounded essence, incapable, therefore,

of decomposition, and consequently permanent and eternal. One

MS., the later Syriac in the margin, the Vulgate, one copy of the

Itala, and some of the Latin fathers, read αθανατω, immortal,

which our translation follows; but it is not the original


Invisible] αορατω. One who fills all things, works

everywhere, and yet is invisible to angels and men; the perfect

reverse of false gods and idols, who are confined to one spot,

work nowhere, and, being stocks and stones, are seen by every


The only wise God] The word σοφω wise, is omitted by AD*FG,

Syriac, Erpen's Arabic, Coptic, Sahidic, AEthiopic, Armenian,

Vulgate, and Itala. Some of the Greek fathers quote it sometimes,

and omit it at others; which shows that it was an unsettled

reading, probably borrowed from Ro 16:27. See the note there.

Griesbach leaves it out of the text. Without it the reading is

very strong and appropriate: To the only God; nothing visible or

invisible being worthy of adoration but himself.

Be honour] All the respect and reverence that can be paid by

intelligent beings, ascribing to him at the same time all the

glory-excellences, and perfections, which can be possessed by an

intelligent, unoriginated, independent, and eternal Being; and

this for ever and ever-through eternity.

Verse 18. This charge] See Clarke on 1Ti 1:5. It was a

charge that the Judaizing teachers should not teach differently

from that doctrine which the apostle had delivered to him.

See 1Ti 1:3.

According to the prophecies] This may refer to some

predictions by inspired men, relative to what Timothy should be:

and he wishes him to act in all things conformably to those

predictions. It was predicted that he should have this high and

noble calling; but his behaviour in that calling was a matter of

contingency, as it respected the use he might make of the grace

of his calling. The apostle therefore exhorts him to war a good

warfare, &c. He was now called to that estate to which the

prophecies referred; and now he is to act worthily or unworthily

of that calling, according as he fought or did not fight the good

warfare, and according as he held or did not hold faith and a

good conscience.

Some think that the προαγουσαςπροφητειας, the foregoing

prophecies, refer to revelations which the apostle himself had

received concerning Timothy; while others think that the word is

to be understood of advices, directions, and exhortations, which

the apostle had previously delivered to him; we know that

προφητευω signifies to speak to men to edification, to

exhortation, and to comfort. See 1Co 14:3. This is a very

sober and good sense of the passage.

War a good warfare] The trials and afflictions of the

followers of God are often represented as a warfare or campaign.

See Isa 40:2; 1Co 9:7; 2Co 10:4; and see the reasons of this

metaphorical form of speech, in Clarke's notes on "Eph 6:13".

Verse 19. Holding faith] All the truths of the Christian

religion, firmly believing them, and fervently proclaiming them

to others.

And a good conscience] So holding the truth as to live

according to its dictates, that a good conscience may be ever

preserved. As the apostle had just spoken of the Christian's

warfare, so he here refers to the Christian armour, especially to

the shield and breastplate; the shield of faith, and the

breastplate of righteousness. See Clarke on Eph 6:13, &c.,

and "1Th 5:8".

Which some having put away] απωσαμενοι. Having thrust away;

as a fool-hardy soldier might his shield and his breastplate, or

a mad sailor his pilot, helm, and compass.

Concerning faith] The great truths of the Christian religion.

Have made shipwreck] Being without the faith, that only

infallible system of truth; and a good conscience, that skilful

pilot, that steady and commanding helm, that faithful and

invariable loadstone; have been driven to and fro by every wind

of doctrine, and, getting among shoals, quicksands, and rocks,

have been shipwrecked and ingulfed.

Verse 20. Of whom is Hymeneus and Alexander] Who had the faith

but thrust it away; who had a good conscience through believing,

but made shipwreck of it. Hence we find that all this was not

only possible, but did actually take place, though some have

endeavoured to maintain the contrary; who, confounding eternity

with a state of probation, have supposed that if a man once enter

into the grace of God in this life, he must necessarily continue

in it to all eternity. Thousands of texts and thousands of facts

refute this doctrine.

Delivered unto Satan] For the destruction of the flesh, that

the spirit might be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. See what

is noted on 1Co 5:5; what this sort of punishment was no man now

living knows. There is nothing of the kind referred to in the

Jewish writings. It seems to have been something done by mere

apostolical authority, under the direction of the Spirit of God.

Hymeneus, it appears, denied the resurrection,

see 2Ti 2:17,18; but whether this

Alexander be the same with Alexander the coppersmith,

2Ti 4:14, or the Alexander, Ac 19:33, cannot be determined.

Probably, he was the same with the coppersmith. Whether they were

brought back to the acknowledgment of the truth does not appear.

From what is said in the second epistle the case seems extremely

doubtful. Let him who most assuredly standeth, take heed lest he


He that is self-confident is already half fallen. He who

professes to believe that God will absolutely keep him from

falling finally, and neglects watching unto prayer, is not in a

safer state. He who lives by the moment, walks in the light, and

maintains his communion with God, is in no danger of apostasy.

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