Study Notes

1Timothy 1:8-17


Paul has been reminding Timothy that part of his pastoral position in Ephesus is to instruct the false teachers in the church to knock it off.

We left off in verse seven with Paul saying that these guys are...

1Tim. 1:7 wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions.

They want to be teachers of the Law, but they don't even understand what the Law is for.

1:8 Using The Law Lawfully

Paul now goes on to explain to Timothy that the Law is good if you use it lawfully.

First of all, what is the Law? It is the entirety of the commandments that God gave to Moses. The books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy are packed full of the Law.

Now, as evangelical Christians saved by grace, we've mostly heard that the Law is bad. The Law breeds legalism, and was really only supposed to be for the Jews. But the Law is not bad. Paul says here that the Law is good if we use it lawfully. So the question is, how do you use the Law lawfully?

You use it for the purpose that it was given. Why was it given? As a mirror of perfection (Psalm 19:7; James 1:23). Something to reveal to us just how sinful we are. That's why Romans says,

Rom. 3:20 ...Through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.

Rom. 7:7 ...I would not have come to know sin except through the Law...

How do you use the Law lawfully? Use it to demonstrate the sinfulness of sinners. This is what Jesus did. He showed grace to the humble, but gave the Law to the proud. "With the Law, He breaks the hard heart, and with the gospel, He heals the broken heart."(Comfort)

That is what is so effective about using the Law as a witnessing tool. It shows us our sinfulness, reveals the darkness in our hearts. Demonstrates how short of perfection we fall. Until a person realizes that he's lost, he has no desire to be found. Until a person understands that he's trapped, he has no desire to escape. Until a person finds that he's guilty, he has no desire to be pardoned. Until a person sees his sin, he has no need for a Savior.

But when the Law does show you how sinful you are, you do realize that you need a Savior. So Galatians says,

Gal. 3:24-25 Therefore the Law has become our tutor {to lead us} to Christ, that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.

Our biggest problem today in evangelism is not getting converts, but keeping them. People come forward to respond to altar calls, but most don't continue to walk with the Lord. Why not? Because we are too often guilty of trying to convert people to a Christian lifestyle, rather than saving them from the death penalty of their sin. Preaching "Jesus loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life, and wants to give you peace, love, and happiness" will produce converts that will eventually fall away.

When we preach a Christianity that is simply a "better quality of life" message, we are setting people up for failure and disappointment. We need to tell them the truth, using the Law lawfully: "Here's God's standard of perfection. You fall short because you're a sinner. All sinners go to hell unless they're forgiven by Jesus Christ."

So you see that the Law is for the sinner, and that's the point Paul continues in the next three verses.

1:9-11 The Law Is For The Lawless

The Law is not made for a righteous man. When Jesus was asked about the greatest commandment in the Law, He responded,

Matt. 22:37-40 ..."‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and WITH ALL YOUR MIND.' This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.' On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets."

If you are loving God and loving your neighbor, then you're not condemned by the Law.

However, if you are lawless and rebellious, the Law will condemn you. Who are the lawless and rebellious? Paul gives a partial list to Timothy here. Let's pull out just three of these descriptions to examine:


The word "profane" in Greek means "accessible to be trodden upon." When you take something holy and sacred, and walk all over it, you are being profane. Probably the most obvious application of this is when people use the name of God as a curse word. Taking what is higher than almost everything else (besides the Word of God itself), and bringing it down to the gutter of curses is profane. That is, after all, why we call it "profanity."

One of the Ten Commandments states,

Exod. 20:7 "You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain."

If you regularly use the name of Jesus Christ as a curse, God will not allow you to go unpunished. If you regularly use God as a derogatory phrase, you're setting yourself up for condemnation.

Those Who Kill Their Fathers And Mothers

Something that our society has lost is reverence for our parents. The Law of God stated,

Exod. 20:12 "Honor your father and your mother..."

What does it mean to "honor" your parents? The word in Hebrew, interestingly enough, is "Cha-BOD." When we read that pharaoh's heart was hardened, it was "Cha-BOD." When we read that the glory of the Lord appeared, it was His "Cha-BOD." The word means "honor, glorify, give weightiness to."

Then when Paul quoted this passage in Ephesians 6, the Greek word he used was "tim-AH-o," which means "to fix the value of, revere, or venerate."

In other words, we need to give weight and value to our parents. They may be flakey, they may be unsaved, they may have little or no wisdom. But you are called to honor them, love them, respect them, and pray for them.

The punishment for not honoring parents was to be swift and severe. The Law stated,

Deut. 21:18-21 "If any man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey his father or his mother, and when they chastise him, he will not even listen to them, then his father and mother shall seize him, and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gateway of his home town. And they shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey us, he is a glutton and a drunkard.' Then all the men of his city shall stone him to death; so you shall remove the evil from your midst..."

Just imagine how many rebellious teenagers our society would have if we had continued this practice!

And as we've lost respect and honor for parents, the murder of fathers and mothers has become an all-too-often repeated crime. When will our society wake up to the fact that when we forsake God's morality, we descend into a deadly abyss?


As we've pointed out numerous times before, the Greek word for "immoral" here is "POR-nos," the word that we derive our word pornography from. It literally means to hire yourself out as a prostitute, or to pay for sexual satisfaction. The prostitution and pornography industries make billions of dollars a year based on mankind's immorality.


Despite what liberal churches are trying to convey, the Scriptures are clear in regards to homosexuality. The Law of God stated,

Lev. 20:13 ‘If {there is} a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death. Their bloodguiltiness is upon them.

Homosexuality is called a detestable act worthy of death. When sinners exchanged the truth of God for a lie,

Rom. 1:26-27 ...God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.

Homosexual behavior is degrading, unnatural, indecent, and erroneous.

1Cor. 6:9-10 Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor {the} covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

Homosexuals will not inherit the kingdom of God. The Scriptures can't get any clearer than that about the subject. It is a sin - both Old and New Testaments clearly portray this fact.

Finally, Paul tells Timothy that allowing, encouraging, or excusing these sins are all contrary to sound teaching. When you hear a religious leader excusing immoral, homosexual, and sinful behavior, that leader is presenting a false gospel.

1:12-14 Christ Strengthened Me

In these three verses, Paul works backwards through the chronology of what happened to him. We'll cover the three subjects in the opposite order..

Abundant Grace

As we talked about last week, grace is the basic message of the the gospel. We are sinners, which carries a death sentence. God loves us anyway. He sent His Son to pay the death penalty for our sin. If we receive it, we are forgiven. Grace: God's unmerited favor upon us. Abundant grace: there's more of it than we can imagine!

Formerly A Blasphemer

Who is grace available to? Everyone! No one is too far gone, too sinful. No one's past is too sordid. Drug addicts, rapists, murderers, child abusers. God loves everyone and desires to pour out his abundant grace on them!

Paul is a perfect example. Remember that at the time God saved him, he was in horrendous sin. He was then known as Saul (his Hebrew name), and was an enemy of God and God's people.

Acts 9:1-6 Now Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest, and asked for letters from him to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, both men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. And it came about that as he journeyed, he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; and he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?" And he said, "Who art Thou, Lord?" And He {said,} "I am Jesus whom you are persecuting, but rise, and enter the city, and it shall be told you what you must do."

Saul was a murderer and a persecutor of Christians. But God called him to salvation. Maybe what you've done in your life has made you think that God could never forgive you. You've been too bad, you've gone too far, been away too long. It's not true - don't believe that lie. Paul was killing Christians, and God gave him His abundant grace.

Put Into Service

Paul wasn't just saved from sin, he was called to minister the gospel. It was hard enough for people to believe that he had become a Christian!

In his encounter with God on the road, Saul was blinded. After he had been led into the city, he was there for three days.

Acts 9:10-15 Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and the Lord said to him in a vision, "Ananias." And he said, "Behold, {here am} I, Lord." And the Lord {said} to him, "Arise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him, so that he might regain his sight." But Ananias answered, "Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he did to Thy saints at Jerusalem; and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call upon Thy name." But the Lord said to him, "Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel

Ananias had difficulty even believing that Saul was saved. But God had chosen him to be the guy that brought the good news of grace to thousands of people.

The same thing happened to me a dozen years ago. I too was a blasphemer, a drug abuser, a sexual deviant, prideful, boastful. I deserved to go to prison, I deserved to be dead. I used people and committed atrocities against God. But He saved me anyway - His grace is truly abundant! He called me to preach the gospel. Not because of anything that I was, but because of who He is.

Maybe He's calling you today.

1:15-17 Saving Sinners

Paul is a great example of the kind of people that God can save. I'm living proof myself. Are you ready to receive that grace as well?

You don't need to be convinced you're a sinner - you already know that. You've lied and lusted. You've done people wrong and hated them when they've done you wrong. You know that you're a sinner, but what you need to know is that you're not so bad that you can't be saved.

John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.

Rom. 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

You're not worse than Paul, and God saved Him. He sent His Son Jesus Christ to take the punishment for our sin. He died on the cross so that you could live.

1Tim. 1:15-16 It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. And yet for this reason I found mercy, in order that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience, as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life.

Will you believe in Him today?

All Scripture (unless otherwise indicated) taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE
1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Go to next study

Go to previous study