Biographical Sketch: Timothy
"[Timothy] was the son of one of those mixed marriages which, though condemned by stricter Jewish opinion were yet not uncommon in the later periods of Jewish history. The father's name is unknown; he was a Greek, i.e. a Gentile, by descent. (Acts 16:1,3) The absence of any personal allusion to the father in the Acts or Epistles suggests the inference that he must have died or disappeared during his son's infancy. The care of the boy thus devolved upon his mother Eunice and her mother Lois. (2 Timothy 1:5) Under their training his education was emphatically Jewish. 'From a child' he learned to 'know the Holy Scriptures' daily. The language of the Acts leaves it uncertain whether Lystra or Derbe was the residence of the devout family. The arrival of Paul and Barnabas in Lycaonia, A.D. 44, (Acts 14:6) brought the message of glad tidings to Timothy and his mother, and they received it with 'unfeigned faith.' (2 Timothy 1:5) During the interval of seven years between the apostle's first and second journeys the boy grew up to manhood. Those who had the deepest insight into character, and spoke with a prophetic utterance, pointed to him, (1 Timothy 1:18; 4:14) as others had pointed before to Paul and Barnabas, (Acts 13:2) as specially fit for the missionary work in which the apostle was engaged. Personal feeling led St. Paul to the same conclusion, (Acts 16:3) and he was solemnly set apart to do the work and possibly to bear the title of evangelist (or elder). (1 Timothy 4:14; 2 Timothy 1:6; 4:5)
"A great obstacle, however, presented itself. Timothy, though reckoned as one of the seed of Abraham, had been allowed to grow up to the age of manhood without the sign of circumcision. With a special view to the feelings of the Jews making no sacrifice of principle, the apostle, who had refused to permit the circumcision of Titus, 'took and circumcised' Timothy. (Acts 16:3) Henceforth Timothy was one of his most constant companions. They and Silvanus, and probably Luke also, journeyed to Philippi, (Acts 16:12) and there the young evangelist was conspicuous at once for his filial devotion and his zeal. (Philippians 2:22)" (John Rutherfurd, http://net.bible.org/dictionary.php?word=Timothy)
"Timothy's worth is proved by his continued labors with Paul, for Timothy's history is virtually the history of Paul's missions. Paul added Timothy's name to the opening of seven letters and mentioned his trustworthiness in two others. Paul had many powerful companions, but not one continued to be closer to him.
"Timothy had served in missionary work and in building the branches over a dozen years when Paul sent him to Ephesus to preside over that region (1 Tim. 1:3). Then he was probably in his early thirties, and Paul counseled him to speak with authority: 'Let no one despise your youth' (1 Tim. 4:12, NKJB). The issue here is not some supposed bashfulness of this experienced associate, whose vigor is written in thousands of missionary miles. He was assigned by an apostle called directly by God. The problem was that rebellious teachers openly challenged the true priesthood, beginning the era of evil that 2 Thessalonians 2 describes. But Paul told Timothy that he had the power and ability to fill his calling-that if he would not fail, the Lord would not fail him." (Richard Lloyd Anderson, Understanding Paul [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1983], 315 - 316.)
"Some writers have seen in (Hebrews 13:23) an indication that he even shared St. Paul's imprisonment, and was released from it by the death of Nero. Beyond this all is apocryphal and uncertain. He continued, according to the old traditions, to act as bishop of Ephesus, and died a martyr's death under Domitian or Nerva." (John Rutherfurd, http://net.bible.org/dictionary.php?word=Timothy)
1 Timothy 1:1 our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ... is our hope
How can we obtain hope? In all our circumstances, we can benefit from answering this question.
First and foremost, we look to Christ with joyous expectation. As Paul began his first epistle to Timothy, he identified himself as "Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope." (1 Tim. 1:1.) Truly, the Lord Jesus Christ is our hope. And what type of hope should we have? "A lively hope." (1 Pet. 1:3.)
I know faith and hope are not a placebo meant to placate the questions and desires of our hearts. They are realities. My hope and my joy in life are based upon the atonement of our Savior and the restoration of the gospel in these days. I base my life on it; therefore, I have reason for my hope. Our Savior lives, and he loves us. This gospel is one of light and joy, warmth and belonging. ("A Perfect Brightness of Hope," Ensign, Mar. 1992, 14)
1 Timothy 1:3 charge... that they teach no other doctrine
"Paul's concern for reliable bishops suggests his purpose in writing. The earliest post-apostolic letters picture the bishop as the critical leader in the fight against apostasy. Paul said that he had excommunicated two who apparently spoke against the constituted authorities, 'whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme' (1 Tim. 1:20). Paul told Timothy to remain at Ephesus; the apostle was on his way to Macedonia, perhaps to visit the Philippian branch again (1 Tim. 1:3). He had assigned Timothy 'so you may command certain people not to teach different doctrines' (1 Tim. 1:3, literal trans.). Thus, true priesthood is linked with true doctrine. In these critical needs Paul not only instructed but planned to return 'shortly' to throw his strength into the battle (1 Tim. 3:14). There is an urgency in 1 Timothy from the opening warning about rebuking false teachers to the closing language of command. 'O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you' (1 Tim. 6:20, RSV) is spoken in sober warning against those reforming the revealed gospel." (Richard Lloyd Anderson, Understanding Paul [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1983], 317.)
1 Timothy 1:4 fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions
"The Apostle Paul referred to 'genealogies' in letters to Timothy and Titus. To Timothy he said, 'Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister [present] questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do.' (1 Tim. 1:4.)
"To Titus he said, 'But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain.' (Titus 3:9.)
"These passages, taken out of context, could cause misunderstanding. Paul was not condemning genealogy work itself. The importance of genealogy had been well established from the time of Adam down to Paul's day...
"Paul himself was aware of the necessity for ordinances for the dead (see 1 Cor. 15:29) and understood the accompanying necessity of genealogical work in this activity. Why, then, would Paul make those remarks about genealogy to Timothy and Titus?
"Paul was living in a time of conflict and confusion. False teachers abounded, preaching false doctrines and fables. Two specific problems existed relating to genealogies:
"(1) Some apostate teachers recited their genealogies to give credence to their claims as coming with authority. Many Jews had become arrogant because of their illustrious ancestors. Some even flaunted their lineage when opposing the Savior himself: "We be Abraham's seed" (John 8:33), they said, as if to indicate that they were thereby natural inheritors of the truth.
"(2) Some of the apostate Jewish teachers were guilty of manufacturing their own genealogies-creating them in hopes of giving the added weight of authority to their teachings.
"Such practices understandably caused a great deal of contention among the Jews, as well as between Jews and Gentiles. No wonder Paul condemned them as 'fables and endless genealogies,' 'contentions, and strivings about the law,' and 'unprofitable and vain.'
"Bible commentators agree upon this interpretation. The statement to Timothy, says one authority, 'seems to refer to legends and fictitious genealogies of OT [Old Testament] personages.' Adam Clarke wrote that these fables were 'idle fancies; things of no moment; doctrines and opinions unauthenticated; silly legends, of which no people ever possessed a greater stock than the Jews.'" (George H. Fudge, "I Have a Question," Ensign, Mar. 1986, 49)
1 Timothy 1:5 the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart
Paul's statement that "the end of the commandment is charity" runs counter to human nature. Religious history shows examples of experts of the law actually being the most judgmental and critical of others. Knowing the law, applying a little self-righteousness, allows an individual to see the faults in almost everyone around him. The knowledge then becomes a looking glass through which the weakness of man is seen.
The Prophet Joseph Smith warned about this-equating charity with the ability to look past the faults of others:
"'though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.' ... As you increase in innocence and virtue, as you increase in goodness, let your hearts expand, let them be enlarged towards others; you must be long-suffering, and bear with the faults and errors of mankind.
"How precious are the souls of men!...Nothing is so much calculated to lead people to forsake sin as to take them by the hand, and watch over them with tenderness. When persons manifest the least kindness and love to me, O what power it has over my mind, while the opposite course has a tendency to harrow up all the harsh feelings and depress the human mind."
"All the religious world is boasting of righteousness: it is the doctrine of the devil to retard the human mind, and hinder our progress, by filling us with self-righteousness. The nearer we get to our heavenly Father, the more we are disposed to look with compassion on perishing souls; we feel that we want to take them upon our shoulders, and cast their sins behind our backs." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 228, 240-241)
"Why is charity so vital? Simply because it is the ultimate solution. There is no problem in the world or in any human heart that could not be directly or indirectly solved by the exercise of charity. Charity... is the pure love of Christ. The power and magnitude of that love is a greater factor and force than anything else that exists." (Linda and Richard Eyre, Teaching Children Charity [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1986], 8.)
1 Timothy 1:8 the law is good if a man use it lawfully
Without law all must certainly fall into chaos... [It is] for this reason, that law is beneficial to promote peace and happiness among men. And as before remarked, God is the source from whence proceeds all good; and if man is benefited by law, then certainly, law is good; and if law is good, then law, or the principle of it emanated from God; for God is the source of all good; consequently, then, he was the first Author of law, or the principle of it, to mankind. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected and arranged by Joseph Fielding Smith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1976], 55.)
1 Timothy 1:9 the law is not made for a righteous man
Does Paul mean to say that righteous men don't need laws? Paul is referring to the Law of Moses and the basic requirements of civilized nations. These are the rules of conduct which Paul concludes are not for the righteous. When you review the list of sins Paul mentions, it is clear that they are not even a temptation for a righteous individual. If an isolated community of the Lord's most righteous individuals were created, they would not need to establish laws against murder, whoremongering, homosexuality, stealing, lying, or perjury. They would be above the law, so to speak, with respect to such sins. Certainly, it is true that those who "have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually" (Mosiah 5:2) don't need to be told that they shouldn't kill their mother.
Therefore, we may conclude that Paul is not referring to celestial law, for celestial law is indeed made for a righteous man. The Lord requires that obedience to these laws be learned before one enters the celestial kingdom.
It is not our intention by these remarks, to attempt to place the law of man on a parallel with the law of heaven; because we do not consider that it is formed in the same wisdom and propriety; neither do we consider that it is sufficient in itself to bestow anything on man in comparison with the law of heaven, even should it promise it. The laws of men may guarantee to a people protection in the honorable pursuits of this life, and the temporal happiness arising from a protection against unjust insults and injuries... The law of heaven is presented to man, and as such guarantees to all who obey it a reward far beyond any earthly consideration... And as much as the law of heaven is more perfect than the law of man, so much greater must be the reward if obeyed. The law of man promises safety in temporal life; but the law of God promises that life which is eternal, even an inheritance at God's own right hand, secure from all the powers of the wicked one. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected and arranged by Joseph Fielding Smith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1976], 50)
1 Timothy 1:12-13 I...was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious
"These 'confessions' of Saul in the days of his Apostleship indicate the very serious nature of his offenses against God and his fellowmen during the formative years of the Church. One does not shut up men in prison without fair trial, vote to put some of them to death, punish others in their synagogues and compel them to blaspheme, be 'injurious' and become in turn a blasphemer, without being regarded by righteous men as a criminal offender. There is no need to minimize the gravity of Saul's sins; the great Apostle certainly did not." (Sidney B. Sperry, Paul's Life and Letters [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1955], 14.)
1 Timothy 1:16 I obtained mercy... for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe
Marion G. Romney
We are all prodigals to some extent, it is indeed fortunate for us that there are some examples which assure us that we can avoid the tragedy of those who learn wisdom too late.
We have one such example in Saul of Tarsus-who later became Paul the apostle. We have another in Alma the younger. Although in their young manhood these two men forsook the paths of wisdom, they later repented and came all the way back. In order to do so, however, it was necessary for them to suffer that "godly sorrow" which "worketh repentance to salvation" (2 Cor. 7:10) and thereafter diligently apply their "hearts unto wisdom." We learn from their own writings that they never forgot their follies and therefore must have regretted them all their lives. They did, however, obtain forgiveness and find peace within themselves and with their Maker. Our knowledge that they did so should strengthen our faith and give us hope and courage that even though we have strayed, in some degree, from the paths of wisdom, we likewise can, if we will, come all the way back. The forgiveness and peace that they obtained we can also obtain. In order to do so, however, we must repent as sincerely, learn wisdom, and "apply our hearts unto" it as diligently as did they.
In Paul's First Epistle to Timothy, he indicated that his experience in coming back was meant to be a pattern for us.
And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord [he said], for ... he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry;
Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, ... but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.
And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant. ...
This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.
And then this important thought:
Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting. (1 Tim. 1:12-16. Italics added.)"
("Learn Wisdom in Thy Youth," New Era, Dec. 1978, 48)
Bruce R. McConkie
Here is a man who fought the truth, who persecuted the saints, on whose hands was found the blood of martyrs. And yet he repented and became one of the most valiant defenders of the faith of all the ages. And yet he enjoyed the gifts of the Spirit, worked out his salvation, made his calling and election sure, and has gone on to eternal exaltation in the mansions which are prepared. In effect, he is saying to Timothy, and through him to all of us, "If a blasphemer and perjurer, such as I, can be saved, what stands in your way?" (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-1973], 3: 75.)
1 Timothy 1:17 the King eternal, immortal, invisible
See commentary on Colossians 1:15.
1 Timothy 1:20 Hymenaeus and Alexander...I have delivered unto Satan
B. H. Roberts
It is in Paul's pastoral letters that we get a deeper insight into corruptions threatening the early church, and even beginning to lay the foundation for that subsequent apostasy which overwhelmed it. (Seventy's Course in Theology [Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1907-1912], 2: 156.)
The Messiah's kingdom on earth is of that kind of government, that there has always been numerous apostates... Strange as it may appear at first thought, yet it is no less strange than true, that notwithstanding all the professed determination to live godly, apostates after turning from the faith of Christ, unless they have speedily repented, have sooner or later fallen into the snares of the wicked one, and have been left destitute of the Spirit of God, to manifest their wickedness in the eyes of multitudes. From apostates the faithful have received the severest persecutions. Judas was rebuked and immediately betrayed his Lord into the hands of His enemies, because Satan entered into him. There is a superior intelligence bestowed upon such as obey the Gospel with full purpose of heart, which, if sinned against, the apostate is left naked and destitute of the Spirit of God, and he is, in truth, nigh unto cursing, and his end is to be burned. When once that light which was in them is taken from them, they become as much darkened as they were previously enlightened, and then, no marvel, if all their power should be enlisted against the truth, and they, Judas like, seek the destruction of those who were their greatest benefactors. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected and arranged by Joseph Fielding Smith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1976], 66-67.)