The First to Timothy 1:1-20

1  Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus, our hope,+  to Timothy,+ a genuine child+ in the faith: May you have undeserved kindness and mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.  Just as I encouraged you to stay in Ephʹe·sus when I was about to go to Mac·e·doʹni·a, so I do now, in order for you to command certain ones not to teach different doctrine,  nor to pay attention to false stories+ and to genealogies. Such things end up in nothing useful+ but merely give rise to speculations rather than providing anything from God in connection with faith.  Really, the objective of this instruction is love+ out of a clean heart+ and out of a good conscience+ and out of faith+ without hypocrisy.+  By deviating from these things, some have been turned aside to meaningless talk.+  They want to be teachers+ of law, but they do not understand either the things they are saying or the things they insist on so strongly.  Now we know that the Law is fine if one applies it properly,  recognizing that law is made, not for a righteous man, but for those who are lawless+ and rebellious, ungodly and sinners, disloyal* and profane, murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, manslayers, 10  sexually immoral people, men who practice homosexuality, kidnappers, liars, perjurers,* and everything else that is in opposition to the wholesome* teaching+ 11  according to the glorious good news of the happy God, with which I was entrusted.+ 12  I am grateful to Christ Jesus our Lord, who imparted power to me, because he considered me faithful by assigning me to a ministry,+ 13  although formerly I was a blasphemer and a persecutor and an insolent man.+ Nevertheless, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and with a lack of faith. 14  But the undeserved kindness of our Lord abounded exceedingly along with faith and the love that is in Christ Jesus. 15  This saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.+ Of these, I am foremost.+ 16  Nevertheless, I was shown mercy so that by means of me as the foremost case, Christ Jesus might demonstrate all his patience, making me an example to those who are going to rest their faith on him for everlasting life.+ 17  Now to the King of eternity,+ incorruptible,+ invisible,+ the only God,+ be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. 18  This instruction I entrust to you, my child Timothy, in harmony with the prophecies that were made about you, that by these you may go on waging the fine warfare,+ 19  holding faith and a good conscience,+ which some have thrust aside, resulting in the shipwreck of their faith. 20  Hy·me·naeʹus+ and Alexander are among these, and I have handed them over to Satan+ so that they may be taught by discipline not to blaspheme.


Or “lacking loyal love.”
Or “those who swear falsely.”
Or “healthful; beneficial.”

Study Notes

The First to Timothy: Titles such as this were apparently not part of the original text. Ancient manuscripts show that they were added later, doubtless to make it easier to identify the Bible books. For example, the well-known manuscript Codex Sinaiticus of the fourth century C.E. contains the title “First to Timothy” at the end of the letter. Other early manuscripts use variations of this title.

God our Savior: In Paul’s first letter to Timothy and in his letter to Titus, the term “Savior” is used six times with reference to Jehovah God (here and at 1Ti 2:3; 4:10; Tit 1:3; 2:10; 3:4) compared to only twice in the rest of the Christian Greek Scriptures (Lu 1:47; Jude 25). In the Hebrew Scriptures, Jehovah is often described as the Savior of his people, Israel. (Ps 106:8, 10, 21; Isa 43:3, 11; 45:15, 21; Jer 14:8) Since Jesus is the one through whom Jehovah saves mankind from sin and death, Jesus too is referred to as “Savior.” (Ac 5:31; 2Ti 1:10) He is also called “the Chief Agent of . . . salvation.” (Heb 2:10) The name Jesus, given to God’s Son by angelic direction, means “Jehovah Is Salvation” because, said the angel, “he will save his people from their sins.” (Mt 1:21 and study note) So Jesus’ very name emphasizes that Jehovah is the Source of the salvation that is accomplished through Jesus. Therefore, both the Father and the Son are spoken of as being a Savior. (Tit 2:11-13; 3:4-6) Both the Hebrew and the Greek (in the Septuagint) terms for “savior” are also used of humans who were raised up as “saviors to rescue” God’s people from their enemies.​—Ne 9:27; Jg 3:9, 15.

Christ Jesus, our hope: Paul saw Jehovah as “the God who gives hope” (Ro 15:13), but here he reminds Timothy that it is by means of Christ Jesus that Jehovah has given Christians this trustworthy hope. Jesus fulfills all of Jehovah’s promises and makes the hope of everlasting life for humans possible.​—See 2Co 1:20 and study notes; 1Pe 1:3, 4.

Timothy: Meaning “One Who Honors God.”​—See study note on Ac 16:1.

a genuine child: With this endearing phrase, Paul expresses his warm fatherly feelings toward Timothy. The Scriptures do not state whether Paul introduced the good news to Timothy and his family. However, when Timothy was relatively young, he became Paul’s traveling companion. (Ac 16:1-4) Therefore, by the time Paul wrote this letter, he viewed Timothy as his child in the faith, that is, his spiritual child. (Compare Tit 1:4.) That special relationship had been developing for ten or more years.​—1Co 4:17; Php 2:20-22.

May you have undeserved kindness and mercy and peace: See study note on Ro 1:7.

to stay in Ephesus: This verse provides valuable background information on Paul’s first letter to Timothy. When Timothy received the letter, he was serving as an overseer in the congregation in Ephesus. Paul knew that congregation well. (Ac 19:1, 9, 10; 20:31) He encourages Timothy to stay in Ephesus “to command certain ones not to teach different doctrine.” Paul wrote this letter about 61-64 C.E., that is, after he was released from house arrest in Rome but before his final imprisonment there.​—See Introduction to 1 Timothy and Media Gallery, “Paul’s Journeys After c. 61 C.E.

not to teach different doctrine: Paul entrusts Timothy with considerable authority within the congregation in Ephesus​—to command certain ones to stop teaching doctrines that differed from the inspired teachings of Jesus and of those whom Jesus appointed. Paul uses a term, here rendered “to command,” that can convey the sense of urgent obligation. This directive provides a glimpse of Paul’s ongoing fight against apostasy. (See study note on 2Th 2:3.) Some years earlier, about 56 C.E., Paul spoke to the elders from Ephesus and warned them about “oppressive wolves” who would rise from among the responsible men and who would “speak twisted things to draw away the disciples after themselves.” (Ac 20:29, 30) In other inspired letters, Paul warned Christians not to listen to “another sort of good news.” (Ga 1:6 and study note; 2Co 11:4) Obviously, some of those promoting such false teachings were now present in the Ephesian congregation.

false stories: At 2Ti 4:4, Paul contrasts “false stories” with “the truth.” One lexicon defines the Greek word myʹthos, here rendered “false stories,” as “legend, fable . . . fiction, myth.” In the Christian Greek Scriptures, the word is always used in the negative sense. Paul may have had in mind fanciful legends that promoted religious lies or some sensational rumors. (Tit 1:14; 2Pe 1:16; see study note on 1Ti 4:7.) He instructs Christians not to pay attention to, or occupy themselves with, such false stories. These offered no real benefit and could turn the minds of the Christians away from the truth found in God’s Word.​—2Ti 1:13.

genealogies: Paul may be referring to personal pedigrees, that is, the records of a family’s line of descent. He warns Christians that they should not be sidetracked into studying and discussing such matters. Some may have done so out of a sense of pride in their ancestry or to show off their knowledge. However, pursuing such a subject contributed nothing useful to Christian faith. Jewish Christians had no compelling reason to trace their personal ancestry, since God did not recognize any distinction between Jew and non-Jew in the Christian congregation. (Ga 3:28) However, it was important for Christians to be able to trace the descent of Christ through the line of David.​—Mt 1:1-17; Lu 3:23-38.

speculations: Paul here mentions one danger that arises from paying attention to false stories and genealogies. (See study notes on false stories and genealogies in this verse.) He uses a Greek word that one lexicon defines as “useless speculation.” Another reference work describes such speculations as “questionings to which no answer can be given, which are not worth answering.” Paul contrasts them with “anything from God in connection with faith.” So Paul is not here referring to sound reasoning based on solid Scriptural support, which can strengthen faith. (Ac 19:8; 1Co 1:10) Rather, he warns against empty questions and dubious answers that are more likely to divide Christ’s followers than to unite them.

objective: Or “goal; aim.”​—See study note on Ro 10:4.

instruction: Or “mandate; order; command.” Paul is here referring to what he told Timothy earlier, namely, “to command certain ones” in the congregation “not to teach different doctrine, nor to pay attention to false stories.” (1Ti 1:3, 4) According to one lexicon, the word used here conveys the sense of “someth[ing] that must be done.” Paul uses this and related expressions several times in his letter.​—1Ti 1:18; 4:11; 5:7; 6:13, 17.

love out of a clean heart: In this verse, Paul connects unselfish Christian love with “a clean heart,” “a good conscience,” and “faith without hypocrisy.” A Christian with a clean heart, or inner person, is clean morally and spiritually. He has pure motives and is completely devoted to Jehovah. (Mt 5:8 and study note) His clean heart motivates him to show true love in his relationships with others.

love . . . out of a good conscience: God created humans with a conscience, the capacity to examine themselves and to judge their own thoughts, feelings, and actions. Imperfect humans need to use God’s Word to train their conscience so that it helps them to evaluate matters correctly, according to Jehovah’s standards. A Christian with a good conscience, one that is trained according to God’s will, need not feel guilty over past sins, for he has repented and turned away from doing bad. He is doing what is right. (1Pe 3:16, 21; see study note on Ro 2:15.) Paul here shows that a good conscience helps a person to express unselfish love.

love . . . out of faith without hypocrisy: Paul was well-acquainted with the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and the damaging results of their course. (Ac 26:4, 5; compare Mt 23:13.) He cautions Timothy against such insincerity and pretense. (1Ti 4:1, 2) The Greek words conveying the idea of hypocrisy and hypocrites originally referred to stage actors who covered their faces with masks so that they could impersonate several different characters during a play. (See study note on Mt 6:2.) The Greek word here rendered “without hypocrisy” has been defined as “without play-acting”; “without pretending like an actor.” So Paul points out that having sincere and genuine faith helps Christians to show unselfish love.

They want to be teachers of law: The men Paul mentions were apparently motivated by a selfish craving for the prominence and authority that some felt comes with being a teacher in the congregation. Such ambitious men were neither qualified nor appointed to shepherd and teach the flock of God. On the other hand, Christian men who were moved by a loving desire to serve others by teaching them and who met the scriptural qualifications were “desirous of a fine work.”​—1Ti 3:1.

the Law is fine if one applies it properly: In Paul’s day, some were teaching that Christians should closely adhere to regulations in the Mosaic Law, as if those regulations were still the key to salvation. Paul knew that such teachers applied the Law improperly. Christians are not under the Mosaic Law, and they exercise faith in Christ’s ransom as the means of salvation. (Ga 2:15, 16) Still, the Mosaic Law is useful to Christians, provided they apply its principles “properly” (lit., “lawfully”). They benefit from studying the Law, since it is “a shadow of the good things to come” in connection with Christ Jesus. (Heb 10:1) The Law also demonstrates mankind’s need for the atonement sacrifice of Jesus Christ. (Ga 3:19) Above all, it reveals Jehovah’s thinking on matters.​—Ex 22:21; Le 19:15, 18; Ro 7:12.

law is made, not for a righteous man: Those who embraced Christianity were righteous in that they adopted God’s standards of right and wrong. They willingly yielded to the influence of God’s spirit. (Ga 5:16-23) Thus, they did not need many detailed laws, such as those found in the Mosaic Law. Instead, Christians followed the superior “law of the Christ,” which is based on love.​—Ga 6:2 and study note.

sexually immoral people: See study notes on 1Co 5:9; Ga 5:19.

men who practice homosexuality: Or “men who have sex with men.” Lit., “men who lie with men.”​—See study note on 1Co 6:9.

the glorious good news: The good news can truly be described as “glorious” in view of its magnificent content. For example, it reveals the glorious personality and qualities of Jehovah God, the Source of this marvelous message. By means of this good news, “the happy God” has provided mankind with the glorious hope of salvation through Jesus Christ. Little wonder, then, that Paul felt privileged to be entrusted with such good news.​—See study notes on 2Co 4:4, 6.

the happy God: Paul here shows that happiness is a defining quality of Jehovah’s personality. God has existed for all eternity and has always been happy, even when he was alone. (Mal 3:6) His relationship with his firstborn Son brought him added happiness. (Pr 8:30) Although Satan’s rebellion and slander have caused grief and pain, Jehovah remains happy and rejoices over the faithfulness of his loyal worshippers. (Pr 27:11) When Paul met with the elders of Ephesus, he quoted Jesus’ words: “There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.” (Ac 20:35 and study note) These words offer one reason why Jehovah is “the happy God”; he is the foremost Giver in the universe. (Ps 145:16; Isa 42:5) As imitators of Jehovah, his worshippers can also be happy. (Eph 5:1) The one who daily reads the law of Jehovah is called “happy” at Ps 1:1, 2, where the Septuagint uses the same Greek word that Paul uses here. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus repeatedly shows that his followers could be happy, even during times of distress and persecution.​—Mt 5:3-11; see study notes on Mt 5:3; Ro 4:7.

I am grateful to Christ Jesus: Paul viewed his assignment “to a ministry” as proof of Christ Jesus’ mercy, love, and trust in him. Previously, he had been “a persecutor and an insolent man,” even approving of the murder of Stephen. (1Ti 1:13; Ac 6:8; 7:58; 8:1, 3; 9:1, 2) To show his gratefulness, Paul was eager to minister to the spiritual needs of others. For example, he enthusiastically preached the good news.​—See study note on Ro 11:13.

the undeserved kindness of our Lord: Paul was ever conscious of his sinful past as a persecutor of Christians, but here he chooses to focus on the positive outcome​—that he nonetheless became a recipient of Jehovah’s undeserved kindness. (See study notes on Ac 13:43; 1Co 15:10; Ga 2:20.) Paul stresses the point by saying that Jehovah’s kindness abounded exceedingly in his case. He uses a Greek verb that could describe how a container becomes so full that it overflows, or runs over. One reference work defines the word as “to abound over and beyond.”

Of these, I am foremost: Paul’s words here about sinners indicate both the depth of his humility and the power of his hope. He humbly refused to minimize his past sinful course of persecuting Christians. Still, despite his enormous sins, he was confident in his hope because he knew that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.”​—Compare Mt 9:13.

making me an example: Paul here shifts his focus from the benefits he gained from Christ’s mercy to the way that others may benefit from Paul’s example. Christians who learn about the mercy that God showed to Paul are reassured that forgiveness of sins is possible. As “the foremost case,” Paul became living proof that God’s mercy shown through Christ can cover even serious sins if the sinner is truly repentant.

the King of eternity: Lit., “the King of the ages.” This title applies exclusively to Jehovah God. He is also called “the Ancient of Days.” (Da 7:9, 13, 22) He existed for an eternity before anyone or anything else in the universe came into being, and his existence stretches forever into the future. (Ps 90:2) Jehovah is thus the only one who can form an “eternal purpose” and fulfill it. (Eph 3:11 and study note) He is also the only one who can grant “everlasting life.” (Joh 17:3; Tit 1:2) The title “King of eternity” also appears at Re 15:3 as part of what is called “the song of Moses the slave of God and the song of the Lamb.” According to Ex 15:18, Moses and the Israelites sang: “Jehovah will rule as king forever and ever.”​—Ps 10:16; 29:10; 146:10.

Amen: See study note on Ro 1:25.

instruction: Or “mandate; order; command.”​—See study note on 1Ti 1:5.

my child: Used by Paul as a term of endearment.​—2Ti 1:2; Tit 1:4; Phm 10; see study notes on Mt 9:2; 1Ti 1:2.

in harmony with the prophecies that were made about you: Paul reminds Timothy of the prophecies that had been made about him and apparently about his future role in the congregation. These prophecies were made through the operation of God’s spirit. (See study note on 1Ti 4:14.) They seem to have included the authorization for Timothy’s assignment, since Paul says that by these, that is, the prophecies, Timothy could wage spiritual warfare against false teachers.

waging the fine warfare: As at 2Co 10:3, Paul here uses warfare to illustrate the ongoing struggle to defend the congregation against harmful influences. Timothy’s role in that warfare was to protect the congregation against those who sought to infiltrate it and corrupt it with false doctrines.​—1Ti 1:3, 4; see study note on 2Co 10:3.

resulting in the shipwreck of their faith: To illustrate the danger of thrusting aside, or actively rejecting, faith and a good conscience, Paul chooses a vivid word picture: A Christian can lose his faith in the same way that a ship can be wrecked. In an earlier letter, Paul referred to three literal shipwrecks that he had survived. (2Co 11:25 and study note) By the time he wrote his first letter to Timothy, he had survived at least one more. (Ac 27:27-44) So Paul knew from experience how dangerous a shipwreck could be. For good reason, he warns that one who deliberately rejects his faith might never recover. However, shipwrecks were not fatal in all cases. Similarly, even those who experience a disastrous loss of their faith may recover​—provided they avail themselves of spiritual help.​—Ga 6:1; Jas 5:14, 15, 19, 20.

Hymenaeus and Alexander are among these: These men had experienced “shipwreck of their faith” (1Ti 1:19) and were apparently promoting false doctrine. At 2Ti 2:16-18, for example, Paul says that Hymenaeus along with Philetus claimed that the resurrection had already occurred. These men were “subverting the faith of some.” (See study notes on 2Ti 2:18.) Alexander may have been the coppersmith mentioned at 2Ti 4:14, 15 who did Paul “a great deal of harm” and who opposed “to an excessive degree” the message that Paul and his companions were proclaiming. (See study note on 2Ti 4:14.) The expression “are among these” implies that there were already a number of individuals who had not stuck to the faith and who were having a negative effect on some in the Christian congregation.

I have handed them over to Satan: This expression apparently refers to expelling, or disfellowshipping, them from the congregation. Such action was necessary because the men Paul mentioned were unrepentantly pursuing a willful course of sin.​—See study note on 1Co 5:5.

taught by discipline: Paul here reveals one of the purposes for which unrepentant wrongdoers are “handed . . . over to Satan,” or expelled from the congregation. (See study note on I have handed them over to Satan in this verse.) The two men in question had experienced a shipwreck of their faith, and they had to be disfellowshipped so that they might learn “not to blaspheme.” (See study note on 1Ti 1:19.) So Paul has in mind, not only chastisement, but also instruction. As one reference work puts it, “hope remains that they may learn their lesson.”

blaspheme: Or “speak abusively.”​—See study notes on Mt 12:31; Col 3:8.


Video Introduction to the Book of 1 Timothy
Video Introduction to the Book of 1 Timothy