Study Notes

1Timothy 1:18-20


As we've seen in our first two studies, Paul is exhorting the young, feeble, timid, pastor Timothy to instruct the false teachers in Ephesus to stop teaching their strange doctrine. This is against his nature, but Paul also took a few verses to point out that his calling as an apostle was against his nature. He had been a blasphemer, a persecutor, and a violent aggressor. But through the mercy, grace, and strength of God, he was re-created to be something else. Paul is assuring Timothy that God can re-create him to be something else as well.

Do you know that God is not interested in whether or not you can do something well? He's interested in your willingness to be used by Him. As it is commonly said, "it is not your ability, but your availability."

1Cor. 1:26-29 For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised, God has chosen, the things that are not, that He might nullify the things that are, that no man should boast before God.

Are you shy and timid? God can give you boldness. Are you hot-tempered? God can give you patience. Are you inarticulate? God can give you words to speak. Remember, the Lord is not limited by your limitations! And that's what Paul is trying to remind Timothy, who is no doubt thinking as he reads this letter, "I can't do this. I'm not qualified. It's not in my nature. I'm not up to it."

1:18 In Accordance With

Timid Timothy is supposed to fight a fight. But not in accordance with his own nature, his own abilities. In actuality, it will be in accordance with the prophecies made concerning him. What were these prophecies? Actually, the first question we should ask is, "What are prophecies?"

What Are Prophecies?

Although prophets and prophecies are spoken of well over 500 times in the Bible, most people have no idea what they mean. Most believe that a prophecy is a foretelling of the future, and that a prophet is one who foretells the future. But a prophet can prophesy of the past, present, or future. A prophet speaks the message of God, as he is inspired by the Spirit of God.

Sometimes it is a foretelling of the future, as Agabus did when he indicated by the Spirit in Acts 11 that there would be a great famine over all the world.

Sometimes that is a revealing of the truth that has been covered up, as Nathan did when he revealed the sin of David to him in 2Samuel 12.

Sometimes it is a speaking forth and worship of God's might and majesty, as the prophets did in 1Samuel 10.

Many times it was a warning that if people did not turn from their sin, God would bring judgment.

And so prophecy takes many forms, but it is always someone speaking the message of God, as he is inspired by the Spirit of God. Paul summarized it in this way to the Corinthians,

1Cor. 14:3 But one who prophesies speaks to men for edification and exhortation and consolation.

Edification means to build up. Prophecy can edify, build up, people. God speaking through prophecy to let people know that He loves them, and that they will endure.

Exhortation means to strongly encourage someone to do right. It can also be in the form of confrontation with the truth, or a warning.

Consolation is comfort and reassurance from God during a difficult time of sorrow or testing.

Now that we know what prophecy is, remember that prophecies were previously made concerning Timothy.

Prophecies Made Concerning Timothy

Earlier in Timothy's life, the elders had laid hands on him and words of prophecy were spoken over him. Paul tells us that in chapter four, saying to Timothy,

1Tim. 4:14 Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you, which was bestowed upon you through prophetic utterance with the laying on of hands by the presbytery.

We gather from chapter four that the prophecy spoken over Timothy was that he was receiving the spiritual gift of teaching (Rom. 12:7).

Knowing his own youth, timidity, and fragility, this must have seemed like an impossibility to Timothy. But remember,

Mark 10:27 ..."With men it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God."

It's not going to happen in Timothy's strength, Timothy's power, Timothy's endurance. It is God's strength, God's power, God's endurance. The Word tells us, it's...

Zech. 4:6 ..."Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit," says the LORD of hosts.

Ps. 28:7 The LORD is my strength and my shield...

Saints, the secret to your strength and endurance is not in your physical ability, or the power of your personality. It is in how you rely on the Lord. The Word tells us that,

Phil. 4:13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

But if we do not rely on Christ, Jesus said,

John 15:5 "...apart from Me you can do nothing."

So Paul is telling Timothy to trust in God, to remember that the Lord had spoken great things about how He would use Timothy. So he says, "in accordance with those prophecies, Timothy, you need to fight the good fight."

Fight The Good Fight

What fight is Timothy going to fight? The good fight of faith.

1Tim. 6:12 Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called

2Tim. 4:7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith;

Jude 3 ...contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.

Do you realize what a fight it is to keep the faith pure? As we talked about in our first study regarding speculations, it is incredibly easy for false teachings to creep into Christianity. And it's not a popular thing to do, despite the fact that the Bible warns us again and again about it.

Jesus told us,

Matt. 7:15-16 "Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits.

Luke commends the Bereans, because,

Acts 17:11 ...these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, {to see} whether these things were so.

Paul warned the Ephesian elders,

Acts 20:28-30 "Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.

He told Timothy,

2Tim. 4:1-4 I solemnly charge {you} in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season {and} out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but {wanting} to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths.

Jesus said to the church at Ephesus,

Rev. 2:2 ‘I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot endure evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them {to be} false;

We have a promise that false doctrines will permeate the church in the last days. How can we fight this? With the truth of the Scriptures.

1:19 Keeping Faith

Keep faith. At the end of Paul's ministry he said,

2Tim. 4:7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith;

He had done what he had instructed Timothy to do: fight the good fight, keep the faith.

Now, to fight a successful fight, you need to maintain two things: faith, and a good conscience.

We've learned how to fight the good fight, but how do you keep faith? Continuing on, pressing on towards the goal. Not letting the situations and circumstances and sins of this world destroy your faith. Admit it - if you walk by sight, your faith stumbles. When you listen to the world, your faith shrinks. You need to continue in faith. Jude says to be...

Jude 20 ...building yourselves up on your most holy faith...

As you live your life, your faith is either growing or shrinking. How can you make your faith grow? Again, just like fighting the good fight, it focuses on the Scriptures. You need to be a person that is intimately familiar with the Word of God. This is because,

Rom. 10:17 ...Faith {comes} from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.

Your faith will grow as you spend time in the Word. That is how you will keep faith. And you won't lose trust in God when things get difficult.

Keeping A Good Conscience

The second necessity for fighting the good fight of faith is keeping a good conscience. Having a good conscience means that you are living your life above reproach before God and others. Paul said,

Acts 23:1 ..."Brethren, I have lived my life with a perfectly good conscience before God up to this day."

Acts 24:16 "In view of this, I also do my best to maintain always a blameless conscience {both} before God and before men.

You know how it is... when you fall into sin, you feel condemned. You feel like you can't go to God, like He's mad at you. And when you sin before others, it's an open invitation for people to slander God and your walk with Him. That's why Peter tell us,

1Pet. 3:16 ...keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.

And the writer of Hebrews says,

Hebr. 13:18 Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a good conscience, desiring to conduct ourselves honorably in all things.

Resist temptation. Avoid sin. In this way, you will walk with a good conscience before God and man.

Rejected, Then Shipwrecked

You will find that the longer you're a Christian, the more people you will meet who have been shipwrecked in regard to their faith. They got stuck at a certain point, crashed and burned, fell away from God and the church. How does this happen? It happens to people when they reject keeping faith and a good conscience.

For some, it is because they never got rooted and grounded in the Word. They never laid in themselves the foundation of the Bible to build their faith on. They lost faith when things seemed to fall apart.

Others failed to keep a good conscience in regard to resisting temptation and avoiding sin. They turned the grace of God into licentiousness. They fell into what the writer of the book of Hebrews described.

If you read Hebrews 3 and 4 in their entirety, what you will see is that people who continue in sin harden their hearts into unbelief. People who fall away, whose faith is shipwrecked, do so because of first falling into sin.

1:20 Hymenaeus And Alexander

Paul gives two examples of people whose faith was shipwrecked: Hoo-men-AH-yos and Alexander.

We don't know a whole lot about these guys. Hoo-men-AH-yos' sin was teaching falsely that the resurrection had already taken place (2Tim. 2:16-18). Alexander's sin is not specifically stated, although Paul will tell Timothy,

2Tim. 4:14-15 Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds. Be on guard against him yourself, for he vigorously opposed our teaching.

He seems to be one of those guys that are always arguing with the pastor, claiming to know more than he.

Delivered To Satan

Paul says that he has delivered these guys to satan. What does this mean? It means to disfellowship them, to basically kick them out of the church. This was also done in the Corinthian church.

1Cor. 5:1-13 It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles, that someone has his father's wife. And you have become arrogant, and have not mourned instead, in order that the one who had done this deed might be removed from your midst. For I, on my part, though absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged him who has so committed this, as though I were present. In the name of our Lord Jesus, when you are assembled, and I with you in spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus, {I have decided} to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump {of dough} ? Clean out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, just as you are {in fact} unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I {did} not at all {mean} with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters; for then you would have to go out of the world. But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he should be an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler —not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within {the church} ? But those who are outside, God judges. REMOVE THE WICKED MAN FROM AMONG YOURSELVES.

The man who was living in incest was removed from the church, delivered to satan for the destruction of his flesh. Paul knew that when his pleasureful season of sin ended, he would come to an end of himself, and would repent.

And, lest we forget, repentance is the purpose for disfellowshipping someone. Later, Paul would write,

2Cor. 2:6-8 Sufficient for such a one is this punishment which was {inflicted by} the majority, so that on the contrary you should rather forgive and comfort {him} , lest somehow such a one be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. Wherefore I urge you to reaffirm {your} love for him.

He had repented, and was accepted back. This is the point of church discipline.

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