Τιμοθέῳ γνησίῳ τέκνῳ ἐν πίστει, χάρις ἔλεος εἰρήνη ἀπὸ θεοῦ πατρὸς καὶ Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν.
TBPV 1 Ti 1:2 To timothy [my] true child in the faith: Grace, Mercy, [and] Peace from God [the] Father and Our Lord Christ Jesus.
The letter of 1 Timothy is really a very practical letter addressing for us what life in the local church should look like. I've titled my study of 1 Timothy "Church 101" because it's so practical and so basic. You might be tempted to look at the pastoral Epistles as letters that the pastor might find pertinent to himself but not so the rest of us. Nothing could be further from the truth.
In writing a series of instructions and commands in a personal letter to Timothy – Paul reveals many basics of what the church should look like, what it should do, and how it's people should act towards leadership and towards one another. And the final closing of the letter "Grace be with you" is plural indicating clearly enough that Paul intended for this personal letter to Timothy to be publicly read in the entire church.
To Timothy (Τιμοθέῳ)
(The Special relationship between a Spiritual Father and Spiritual Son.)
There is a special relationship between Timothy and Paul as Paul apparently lead Timothy to Christ. Timothy as a person is not entirely unknown He's mentioned outside of the letters written to him in several places.
In Acts chapter 13 Paul and Barnabas are selected By the Holy Spirit from the Antioch church to take on a missionary journey. This they begin. From Antioch to Selucia to Cyprus, Salamis, Paphos, Perga, Pisidian Antioch, and finally to Iconium where Paul's life was threatened and he fled into the region of Lycaonia, Lystra and Derbe. (Acts 13-14:6) While he was there he and Barnabas preached the gospel (Acts 14:7). Timothy's name isn't mentioned in all this — yet because Paul calls him "…my true child in the faith…" it is reasonable to assume that Timothy was one of Paul's converts in this region.(cref WBC 46: Pastoral Epistles "Introduction: The PE within the framework of Paul's life". Page xlviii.)
Beginning in Acts chapter 16 Paul (re-)encounters Timothy in either Derbe or Lystra. He's the son of a Jewish woman and a Greek Father. He was already a believer by this time, and was apparently maturing since other Christians in the areas of Lystra and Iconium spoke well of him.
That was enough for Paul, he asked Timothy to Join him, and in a move that appears odd for Paul, Timothy undergoes circumcision "Because of the Jews who were in those parts, for they all knew that his father was a Greek." Apparently the Jews would have held great offense at a "half-breed" and Paul and Timothy both sought to smooth the way for the gospel's transmission. (Because it was well-known that Timothy's father was a Greek, so that the young man's influence among the Jews would be reduced to almost zero unless something were done to bring out clearly his own devotion to the sacred writings of the covenant people, he was, accordingly, circumcised (Acts 16:3). William, and Simon J. Kistemaker. Vol. 4, New Testament Commentary : Exposition of the Pastoral Epistles. Accompanying biblical text is author's translation. New Testament Commentary, Page 35. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1953-2001.)
The Character of Timothy therefore comes out as a man who was willing to do anything to keep the gospel palatable to the people around him. (Note that palatable does not mean watered down – it means tearing down even the opportunity to build a fence.)
Timothy and Paul proceed on, even crossing over to Macedonia, into Philipi, Thessalonica and Berea. In Berea, Paul received death threats. Timothy and Silas remained in Berea while he traveled ahead to Athens and then to Corinth where he was rejoined by Timothy and Silas (Acts 18:5). The fact that Paul was comfortable leaving Timothy and Silas behind in a region hostile to Christianity teaches us a few more facts about Timothy. 1) He was apparently gifted as a teacher and was quite competent to teach — since the only obvious reason for Paul to leave them behind was to teach the Berean believers about the faith they had accepted. 2) Timothy wasn't a "fraidy cat" quivering like a leaf every time the wind blew. He was being meticulously prepared to endure conflict and hostility to the gospel; and was apparently already capable of doing so.
Being Joined in Corinth by his friends, Paul turned full time to the gospel and preached there for a year and a half (Acts 18:11). It was during this time that the Apostle grew concerned about the Thessalonian church and he sent Timothy alone to Thessalonica to check up on them, to assist and report back to Paul. (1 Thess 3:2,6). When he returned with good news Paul joyfully sat down to write 1 Thessalonians together with Timothy and Silas beside him (1 Thess 1:1). Later he also doubtless wrote 2 Thessalonians from the same spot in Corinth with Timothy and Silas Beside him. (2 Thess 1:1).
Again we learn something of the Character of Timothy. He had grown now to the point that Paul could send him alone into harms way to teach and instruct – and Timothy willingly went.
After returning they journeyed again for a very brief stop in Ephesus (Acts 18:19) before they returned to Antioch finishing Paul's second missionary Journey.
At the start of the third missionary Journey Paul, Silas and Timothy made their way again to Ephesus where Paul stayed for at least two years correcting error, teaching, and performing all sorts of the most amazing miracles.
During his stay in Ephesus Paul probably wrote 1 and 2 Corinthians (1 & 2 Cor. 1:1) as well as Romans (Rom 16:21). Before writing them however he sent Timothy to Corinth (1 Corinthians 4:17). Once again Timothy was sent into the fray on the front lines in an embattled church in order to instruct, correct, rebuke and train before returning to Paul (1 Corinthians 16:10-11). Again we learn from Timothy's history that he was a capable teacher and guide well suited to the unique problems that arise in Ephesus. (The problems in Ephesus are symptomatic of an established church unlike so many of the problems in other NT churches which are problems of immaturity – the Ephesian problems seem to center around issues like power struggles and pastoral authority.)
Later Paul would again send Timothy and Erastus into Macedonia. (Acts 19:22) They were spared the enormous riot which struck that town not long afterwards (Acts 19:23-ff).
Later Timothy and others would accompany Paul back to Macedonia again, meeting him at Troas where Paul would preach through the night before proceeding by ship to Assos, Mitylene, Chios, Samos, and Miletus. While in Miletus Paul called for the elders of Ephesus to meet him for a final prayer meeting where he announced his intent to be jailed in Jerusalem. He also warned them (Acts 20:29) that after he was gone, false teachers would arise among them.
Timothy is not mentioned again in the book of Acts. But Paul is imprisoned at the close of that book. History suggests though that he is released before being re imprisoned. It's clear by now though that Timothy was Paul's "right hand man" He was additionally with Paul when he wrote Philippians, Colossians, 1 & 2 Thessalonians and Philemon (Phi 1:1; Col 1:1, 1 Thess 1:1; 2 Thess 1:1; Phm 1:1)
I At some point in time, Timothy was imprisoned (presumably for preaching Christ) and subsequently released (Hebrews 13:23). The Author of Hebrews whomever that person may be, intended to visit the Hebrews along with Timothy after his release.
Somewhere in all of this mix Timothy was sent to Ephesus to deal with the Heresies that were starting to rise there (1 Tim.1:3). Chapter 3 (v 14) picks up on the thought that Paul wanted to come and Visit Timothy and presumably render help. If and when he ever did they must then have had a tearful parting which is alluded to in 2 Timothy 1:4.
As a person Timothy was surely likeable. He had a long standing faith, having been taught the Old Testament Scriptures as a boy by his mother and grandmother – and later discipled by Paul. He was compliant at any cost – being willing to undergo circumcision for the sake of the Jews around him – even though circumcision did nothing for his relationship with God, and quite frankly would have been excruciating. He had bouts of doubt or depression manifested in timidity (book two) and perhaps even a restless Spirit (Paul had to repeat his urging to stay put in Ephesus.) But for any and all of his Faults – Timothy's faith was not only sincere but strong and sure and his worth in ministry was inestimable. His timidity might have caused him to try and avoid conflict by not using his gifts to his fullest or perhaps he was prone to laziness? At any rate Paul later had to exhort him to "fan into flame" the gifts God had given him (2 Timothy 1:6).
Maybe Timothy felt his zeal for the ministry beginning to wane. Whichever the cause Timothy is about to get a boost…
Paul calls him his "true child in the faith…" it is a referent to Timothy's authentic faith. As many times Paul is going to call Timothy to a higher standard in this letter – and as many times as Paul is going to provide tests of authenticity and warnings against falsehood – this is a gracious start to the letter, and one to which Timothy will be able to return if and when the doubts and fears begin to creep back in.
Being young — yet by no means inexperienced — and serving not as a pastor but as an apostolic delegate (WBC46 Page lvii) Timothy had been called to do what he did so often, stand in the gap – to repair and build up a church seemingly overshadowed by Satan's grip in the city of Ephesus. This simple encouragement from Paul helps to brace Timothy for the task ahead of him.
The threefold greeting is particular in that it describes for us what Timothy's needs were. These are the very same needs we all have need of as we attempt to be servants of Christ.
Grace is Paul's clarion call throughout the new testament, he mentions grace far more often than the rest of the New Testament writers. Simply defined grace is getting what we don't deserve. In Paul's thought that always amounted to a one word summary of God's redemptive work in us through Christ Jesus, namely: salvation. (CREF Mounce, William D. Vol. 46, Word Biblical Commentary : Pastoral Epistles. Word Biblical Commentary, Page 10. Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 2002.)
Peace is more than the product of endless navel gazing from the Lotus position, or the absence of noise and distraction. That's the world's sense of peace – the quieting of external turmoil or the self-quieting of the souls internal struggles. But search for the stories of men kept in solitary confinement for even markedly brief periods with nothing to hear but their own breath and nothing to see but the dim light under their cell door in the midst of otherwise pitch darkness and you'll soon discern that the absence of external turmoil is not all that comforting. No, the peace of the Bible, the peace that Christ leaves with us, the peace that Paul here offers to Timothy as a blessing is of a greater more incomparable sort; peace with God. The gospel of Peace in all of Paul's letters is centered around the concept that we were once at war with God as law-breakers; and being at war with God we were under His condemnation. But in Christ we move from antagonistic warriors to sons both loving and being loved — fully accepted by the grace of Jesus Christ.
It is this new relationship of loving acceptance rather than unrestrained animosity that ultimately yields the subjective feeling of peace – not the other way around.
If you walk through Paul's letters in the New Testament you get a whirlwind of very similar opening "blessings" In fact all except for these two Timothy letters merely grant "grace and Peace" and always from "God our Father" and usually ( all but a few) from "the Lord Jesus Christ." (
1 Corinthians 1:3 "Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!"
2 Corinthians 1:2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Galatians 1:3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,
Ephesians 1:2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Philippians 1:2 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!
Colossians 1:2 To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father.
1 Thessalonians 1:1 Paul and Silvanus and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace.
2 Thessalonians 1:2 Grace to you and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Timothy 1:2 To Timothy, my beloved son: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
Titus 1:4 To Titus, my true child in a common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.
Philemon 1:3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.)
I have to believe that Paul's departure from the normal by adding Mercy to the mix has much to do with his very special relationship with Timothy and his personal knowledge of Timothy's struggles. Timothy, like all of us needed grace and peace – I can't think of one believer I know (self included) that doesn't need to be particularly aware of grace directed towards us, and certainly in the midst of the daily struggles we face we can use the reminder of our peace. but there is something significant in the fact that Paul offers him "mercy" in addition to the blessing of grace and peace.
Timothy may have been fighting feelings of condemnation. Later in book two Paul will mention Timothy's tears (1:4) in the context of fear.
I wonder if Timothy was fighting off the feeling of God's rejection – particularly as he was battling in Ephesus a town fr ought throughout with Spiritual warfare. One of Satan's schemes has often been to attempt to paralyze a believer by getting him to question his relationship with God. Maybe this is why Paul in his love for Timothy and his intimate knowledge of Timothy's heart – offers him mercy in addition to Grace and peace.
Or more likely he was facing external condemnation from those who opposed him – the very men Paul sent Timothy to Oppose. Either reason serves as a moderately adequate explanation of Paul's sudden addition of this third "blessing". God gives what we we truly need. Whatever the real reason was, we can be assured that Timothy needed Mercy. If your heart towards God is faithful and you need grace – You shall receive it. If your heart towards God is faithful and you need mercy — you shall receive it.
Mercy in its simplest definition is "not getting what we deserve." It is an undeserved kindness extended to someone in need. Perhaps Timothy was aware of his own failures. Most godly people give thought to their lack of perfection and it drives them closer to the cross of Christ and its redemption in Christ's blood.
This is not just for Timothy. Remember this letter is written to Timothy, but is intended to be read in the church, so the divine offer of Grace, Mercy and Peace extends past Timothy to the entire body of believers in the region of Ephesus, including — might I add — the very people with whom Timothy was having trouble.
That's what the gospel of Jesus Christ does. The good news of salvation doesn't condemn people who might be sinners – it offers them a shot at starting over with redemption. Paul didn't write this letter to smack the transgressors in a verbal tirade, he wrote for their redemption. Redemption is always the desire of a Christian when he's at odds with others.
We see that in Philippians 3:15b "…if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you;" He doesn't want to kill his opponents, he wants to redeem them. No, the blessing of the gospel offers forgiveness, restoration and redemption to everyone who will repent and believe in Christ Jesus.
The character of someone who themselves is a true child of God ought also therefore to be one of forgiveness, mercy, and grace.
Moreover, just as in the prior verse the issue was not so much that Paul had been commanded to be an apostle but rather the issue was centered there upon the fact that none less than God himself had commanded Paul to be an apostle — so too here the blessing may be important but the origin of the blessing takes on greater import.
The blessing itself is not from Paul, but through Paul as God's spokesman the blessing comes directly from "God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord."
As in the prior verse Paul's Christology bubbles to the surface. The greeting comes conjointly from God and Christ thus in Paul's mind clearly demonstrating his belief in the full deity of Christ; the only Son-of-God the Father.
To you who are loved by God and called according to His Purpose; To you who hear my voice or see my words written on the page; to you who are willing to let these blessings impact and change your lives; to all of you – grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.