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1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope, 2 To Timothy, my loyal child in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. 3 I urge you, as I did when I was on my way to Macedonia, to remain in Ephesus so that you may instruct certain people not to teach any different doctrine, 4and not to occupy themselves with myths and endless genealogies that promote speculations rather than the divine training that is known by faith. 5But the aim of such instruction is love that comes from a pure heart, a good conscience, and sincere faith. 6Some people have deviated from these and turned to meaningless talk, 7desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make assertions. 8 Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it legitimately. 9This means understanding that the law is laid down not for the innocent but for the lawless and disobedient, for the godless and sinful, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their father or mother, for murderers, 10fornicators, sodomites, slave traders, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to the sound teaching 11that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me. 12 I am grateful to Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because he judged me faithful and appointed me to his service, 13even though I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and a man of violence. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, 14and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 15The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the foremost. 16But for that very reason I received mercy, so that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display the utmost patience, making me an example to those who would come to believe in him for eternal life. 17To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. 18 I am giving you these instructions, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies made earlier about you, so that by following them you may fight the good fight, 19having faith and a good conscience. By rejecting conscience, certain persons have suffered shipwreck in the faith; 20among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have turned over to Satan, so that they may learn not to blaspheme.
Warning against False Teachers
Gratitude for Mercy
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope,
2 To Timothy, my loyal child in the faith:
Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
3 I urge you, as I did when I was on my way to Macedonia, to remain in Ephesus so that you may instruct certain people not to teach any different doctrine, 4and not to occupy themselves with myths and endless genealogies that promote speculations rather than the divine training that is known by faith. 5But the aim of such instruction is love that comes from a pure heart, a good conscience, and sincere faith. 6Some people have deviated from these and turned to meaningless talk, 7desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make assertions.
8 Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it legitimately. 9This means understanding that the law is laid down not for the innocent but for the lawless and disobedient, for the godless and sinful, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their father or mother, for murderers, 10fornicators, sodomites, slave traders, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to the sound teaching 11that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.
12 I am grateful to Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because he judged me faithful and appointed me to his service, 13even though I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and a man of violence. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, 14and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 15The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the foremost. 16But for that very reason I received mercy, so that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display the utmost patience, making me an example to those who would come to believe in him for eternal life. 17To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
18 I am giving you these instructions, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies made earlier about you, so that by following them you may fight the good fight, 19having faith and a good conscience. By rejecting conscience, certain persons have suffered shipwreck in the faith; 20among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have turned over to Satan, so that they may learn not to blaspheme.
1. This Epistle is the last testament and swan-like death song of Paul [Bengel].
according to the promise of life … in Christ—Paul's apostleship is in order to carry into effect this promise. Compare "according to the faith … in hope of eternal life … promise," &c. (Tit 1:1, 2). This "promise of life in Christ" (compare 2Ti 1:10; 2Ti 2:8) was needed to nerve Timothy to fortitude amidst trials, and to boldness in undertaking the journey to Rome, which would be attended with much risk (2Ti 1:8).
mercy—added here, in addressing Timothy, to the ordinary salutation, "Grace unto you (Ro 1:7; 1Co 1:3, &c.), and peace." In Ga 6:16, "peace and mercy" occur. There are many similarities of style between the Epistle to the Galatians and the Pastoral Epistles (see Introduction); perhaps owing to his there, as here, having, as a leading object in writing, the correction of false teachers, especially as to the right and wrong use of the law (1Ti 1:9). If the earlier date be assigned to First Timothy, it will fall not long after, or before (according as the Epistle to the Galatians was written at Ephesus or at Corinth) the writing of the Epistle to the Galatians, which also would account for some similarity of style. "Mercy" is grace of a more tender kind, exercised towards the miserable, the experience of which in one's own case especially fits for the Gospel MINISTRY. Compare as to Paul himself (1Ti 1:14, 16; 1Co 7:25; 2Co 4:1; Heb 2:17) [Bengel]. He did not use "mercy" as to the churches, because "mercy" in all its fulness already existed towards them; but in the case of an individual minister, fresh measures of it were continually needed. "Grace" has reference to the sins of men; "mercy" to their misery. God extends His grace to men as they are guilty; His "mercy" to them as they are miserable [Trench].
Jesus Christ—The oldest manuscripts read the order, "Christ Jesus." In the Pastoral Epistles "Christ" is often put before "Jesus," to give prominence to the fact that the Messianic promises of the Old Testament, well known to Timothy (2Ti 3:15), were fulfilled in Jesus.
3. Timothy's superintendence of the Church at Ephesus was as locum tenens for the apostle, and so was temporary. Thus, the office of superintending overseer, needed for a time at Ephesus or Crete, in the absence of the presiding apostle, subsequently became a permanent institution on the removal, by death, of the apostles who heretofore superintended the churches. The first title of these overseers seems to have been "angels" (Re 1:20).
As I besought thee to abide still—He meant to have added, "so I still beseech thee," but does not complete the sentence until he does so virtually, not formally, at 1Ti 1:18.
at Ephesus—Paul, in Ac 20:25, declared to the Ephesian elders, "I know that ye all shall see my face no more." If, then, as the balance of arguments seems to favor (see Introduction), this Epistle was written subsequently to Paul's first imprisonment, the apparent discrepancy between his prophecy and the event may be reconciled by considering that the terms of the former were not that he should never visit Ephesus again (which this verse implies he did), but that they all should "see his face no more." I cannot think with Birks, that this verse is compatible with his theory, that Paul did not actually visit Ephesus, though in its immediate neighborhood (compare 1Ti 3:14; 4:13). The corresponding conjunction to "as" is not given, the sentence not being completed till it is virtually so at 1Ti 1:18.
I besought—a mild word, instead of authoritative command, to Timothy, as a fellow helper.
4. fables—legends about the origin and propagation of angels, such as the false teachers taught at Colosse (Col 2:18-23). "Jewish fables" (Tit 1:14). "Profane, and old wives' fables" (1Ti 4:7; 2Ti 4:4).
genealogies—not merely such civil genealogies as were common among the Jews, whereby they traced their descent from the patriarchs, to which Paul would not object, and which he would not as here class with "fables," but Gnostic genealogies of spirits and aeons, as they called them, "Lists of Gnostic emanations" [Alford]. So Tertullian [Against Valentinian, c. 3], and Irenæus [Preface]. The Judaizers here alluded to, while maintaining the perpetual obligation of the Mosaic law, joined with it a theosophic ascetic tendency, pretending to see in it mysteries deeper than others could see. The seeds, not the full-grown Gnosticism of the post-apostolic age, then existed. This formed the transition stage between Judaism and Gnosticism. "Endless" refers to the tedious unprofitableness of their lengthy genealogies (compare Tit 3:9). Paul opposes to their "aeons," the "King of the aeons (so the Greek, 1Ti 1:17), whom be glory throughout the aeons of aeons." The word "aeons" was probably not used in the technical sense of the latter Gnostics as yet; but "the only wise God" (1Ti 1:17), by anticipation, confutes the subsequently adopted notions in the Gnostics' own phraseology.
questions—of mere speculation (Ac 25:20), not practical; generating merely curious discussions. "Questions and strifes of words" (1Ti 6:4): "to no profit" (2Ti 2:14); "gendering strifes" (2Ti 2:23). "Vain jangling" (1Ti 1:6, 7) of would-be "teachers of the law."
godly edifying—The oldest manuscripts read, "the dispensation of God," the Gospel dispensation of God towards man (1Co 9:17), "which is (has its element) in faith." Conybeare translates, "The exercising of the stewardship of God" (1Co 9:17). He infers that the false teachers in Ephesus were presbyters, which accords with the prophecy, Ac 20:30. However, the oldest Latin versions, and Irenæus and Hilary, support English Version reading. Compare 1Ti 1:5, "faith unfeigned."
5. But—in contrast to the doctrine of the false teachers.
the end—the aim.
the commandment—Greek, "of the charge" which you ought to urge on your flock. Referring to the same Greek word as in 1Ti 1:3, 18; here, however, in a larger sense, as including the Gospel "dispensation of God" (see on 1Ti 1:4; 1Ti 1:11), which was the sum and substance of the "charge" committed to Timothy wherewith he should "charge" his flock.
charity—LOVE; the sum and end of the law and of the Gospel alike, and that wherein the Gospel is the fulfilment of the spirit of the law in its every essential jot and tittle (Ro 13:10). The foundation is faith (1Ti 1:4), the "end" is love (1Ti 1:14; Tit 3:15).
out of—springing as from a fountain.
good conscience—a conscience cleared from guilt by the effect of sound faith in Christ (1Ti 1:19; 1Ti 3:9; 2Ti 1:3; 1Pe 3:21). Contrast 1Ti 4:2; Tit 1:15; compare Ac 23:1. John uses "heart," where Paul would use "conscience." In Paul the understanding is the seat of conscience; the heart is the seat of love [Bengel]. A good conscience is joined with sound faith; a bad conscience with unsoundness in the faith (compare Heb 9:14).
faith unfeigned—not a hypocritical, dead, and unfruitful faith, but faith working by love (Ga 5:6). The false teachers drew men off from such a loving, working, real faith, to profitless, speculative "questions" (1Ti 1:4) and jangling (1Ti 1:6).
6. From which—namely, from a pure heart, good conscience, and faith unfeigned, the well-spring of love.
having swerved—literally, "having missed the mark (the 'end') to be aimed at." It is translated, "erred," 1Ti 6:21; 2Ti 2:18. Instead of aiming at and attaining the graces above named, they "have turned aside (1Ti 5:15; 2Ti 4:4; Heb 12:13) unto vain jangling"; literally, "vain talk," about the law and genealogies of angels (1Ti 1:7; Tit 3:9; 1:10); 1Ti 6:20, "vain babblings and oppositions." It is the greatest vanity when divine things are not truthfully discussed (Ro 1:21) [Bengel].
7. Sample of their "vain talk" (1Ti 1:6).
Desiring—They are would-be teachers, not really so.
the law—the Jewish law (Tit 1:14; 3:9). The Judaizers here meant seem to be distinct from those impugned in the Epistles to the Galatians and Romans, who made the works of the law necessary to justification in opposition to Gospel grace. The Judaizers here meant corrupted the law with "fables," which they pretended to found on it, subversive of morals as well as of truth. Their error was not in maintaining the obligation of the law, but in abusing it by fabulous and immoral interpretations of, and additions to, it.
neither what they say, nor whereof—neither understanding their own assertions, nor the object itself about which they make them. They understand as little about the one as the other [Alford].
law is good—in full agreement with God's holiness and goodness.
if a man—primarily, a teacher; then, every Christian.
use it lawfully—in its lawful place in the Gospel economy, namely, not as a means of a "'righteous man" attaining higher perfection than could be attained by the Gospel alone (1Ti 4:8; Tit 1:14), which was the perverted use to which the false teachers put it, but as a means of awakening the sense of sin in the ungodly (1Ti 1:9, 10; compare Ro 7:7-12; Ga 3:21).
9. law is not made for a righteous man—not for one standing by faith in the righteousness of Christ put on him for justification,and imparted inwardly by the Spirit for sanctification. "One not forensically amenable to the law" [Alford]. For sanctification, the law gives no inward power to fulfil it; but Alford goes too far in speaking of the righteous man as "not morally needing the law." Doubtless, in proportion as he is inwardly led by the Spirit, the justified man needs not the law, which is only an outward rule (Ro 6:14; Ga 5:18, 23). But as the justified man often does not give himself up wholly to the inward leading of the Spirit, he morally needs the outward law to show him his sin and God's requirements. The reason why the ten commandments have no power to condemn the Christian, is not that they have no authority over him, but because Christ has fulfilled them as our surety (Ro 10:4).
disobedient—Greek, "not subject"; insubordinate; it is translated "unruly," Tit 1:6, 10; "lawless and disobedient" refer to opposers of the law, for whom it is "enacted" (so the Greek, for "is made").
ungodly and … sinners—Greek, he who does not reverence God, and he who openly sins against Him; the opposers of God, from the law comes.
unholy and profane—those inwardly impure, and those deserving exclusion from the outward participation in services of the sanctuary; sinners against the third and fourth commandments.
murderers—or, as the Greek may mean, "smiters" of fathers and … mothers; sinners against the fifth commandment.
manslayers—sinners against the sixth commandment.
10. whoremongers, &c.—sinners against the seventh commandment.
men-stealers—that is, slave dealers. The most heinous offense against the eighth commandment. No stealing of a man's goods can equal in atrocity the stealing of a man's liberty. Slavery is not directly assailed in the New Testament; to have done so would have been to revolutionize violently the existing order of things. But Christianity teaches principles sure to undermine, and at last overthrow it, wherever Christianity has had its natural development (Mt 7:12).
liars … perjured—offenders against the ninth commandment.
if there be any other thing—answering to the tenth commandment in its widest aspect. He does not particularly specify it because his object is to bring out the grosser forms of transgression; whereas the tenth is deeply spiritual, so much so indeed, that it was by it that the sense of sin, in its subtlest form of "lust," Paul tells us (Ro 7:7), was brought home to his own conscience. Thus, Paul argues, these would-be teachers of the law, while boasting of a higher perfection through it, really bring themselves down from the Gospel elevation to the level of the grossly "lawless," for whom, not for Gospel believers, the law was designed. And in actual practice the greatest sticklers for the law as the means of moral perfection, as in this case, are those ultimately liable to fall utterly from the morality of the law. Gospel grace is the only true means of sanctification as well as of justification.
sound—healthy, spiritually wholesome (1Ti 6:3; 2Ti 1:13; Tit 1:13; 2:2), as opposed to sickly, morbid (as the Greek of "doting" means, 1Ti 6:4), and "canker" (2Ti 2:17). "The doctrine," or "teaching, which is according to godliness" (1Ti 6:3).
11. According to the glorious gospel—The Christian's freedom from the law as a sanctifier, as well as a justifier, implied in the previous, 1Ti 1:9, 10, is what this 1Ti 1:11 is connected with. This exemption of the righteous from the law, and assignment of it to the lawless as its true object, is "according to the Gospel of the glory (so the Greek, compare Note, see on 2Co 4:4) of the blessed God." The Gospel manifests God's glory (Eph 1:17; 3:16) in accounting "righteous" the believer, through the righteousness of Christ, without "the law" (1Ti 1:9); and in imparting that righteousness whereby he loathes all those sins against which (1Ti 1:9, 10) the law is directed. The term, "blessed," indicates at once immortality and supreme happiness. The supremely blessed One is He from whom all blessedness flows. This term, as applied to God, occurs only here and in 1Ti 6:15: appropriate in speaking here of the Gospel blessedness, in contrast to the curse on those under the law (1Ti 1:9; Ga 3:10).
committed to my trust—Translate as in the Greek order, which brings into prominent emphasis Paul, "committed in trust to me"; in contrast to the kind of law-teaching which they (who had no Gospel commission), the false teachers, assumed to themselves (1Ti 1:8; Tit 1:3).
12. The honor done him in having the Gospel ministry committed to him suggests the digression to what he once was, no better (1Ti 1:13) than those lawless ones described above (1Ti 1:9, 10), when the grace of our Lord (1Ti 1:14) visited him.
And—omitted in most (not all) of the oldest manuscripts.
I thank—Greek, "I have (that is, feel) gratitude."
enabled me—the same Greek verb as in Ac 9:22, "Saul increased the more in strength." An undesigned coincidence between Paul and Luke, his companion. Enabled me, namely, for the ministry. "It is not in my own strength that I bring this doctrine to men, but as strengthened and nerved by Him who saved me" [Theodoret]. Man is by nature "without strength" (Ro 5:6). True conversion and calling confer power [Bengel].
for that—the main ground of his "thanking Christ."
he counted me faithful—He foreordered and foresaw that I would be faithful to the trust committed to me. Paul's thanking God for this shows that the merit of his faithfulness was due solely to God's grace, not to his own natural strength (1Co 7:25). Faithfulness is the quality required in a steward (1Co 4:2).
injurious—Greek, "insulter"; one who acts injuriously from arrogant contempt of others. Translate, Ro 1:30, "despiteful." One who added insult to injury. Bengel translates, "a despiser." I prefer the idea, contumelious to others [Wahl]. Still I agree with Bengel that "blasphemer" is against God, "persecutor," against holy men, and "insolently injurious" includes, with the idea of injuring others, that of insolent "uppishness" [Donaldson] in relation to one's self. This threefold relation to God, to one's neighbor, and to one's self, occurs often in this Epistle (1Ti 1:5, 9, 14; Tit 2:12).
I obtained mercy—God's mercy, and Paul's want of it, stand in sharp contrast [Ellicott]; Greek, "I was made the object of mercy." The sense of mercy was perpetual in the mind of the apostle (compare Note, see on 1Ti 1:2). Those who have felt mercy can best have mercy on those out of the way (Heb 5:2, 3).
because I did it ignorantly—Ignorance does not in itself deserve pardon; but it is a less culpable cause of unbelief than pride and wilful hardening of one's self against the truth (Joh 9:41; Ac 26:9). Hence it is Christ's plea of intercession for His murderers (Lu 23:34); and it is made by the apostles a mitigating circumstance in the Jews' sin, and one giving a hope of a door of repentance (Ac 3:17; Ro 10:2). The "because," &c., does not imply that ignorance was a sufficient reason for mercy being bestowed; but shows how it was possible that such a sinner could obtain mercy. The positive ground of mercy being shown to him, lies solely in the compassion of God (Tit 3:5). The ground of the ignorance lies in the unbelief, which implies that this ignorance is not unaccompanied with guilt. But there is a great difference between his honest zeal for the law, and a wilful striving against the Spirit of God (Mt 12:24-32; Lu 11:52) [Wiesinger].
14. And—Greek, "But." Not only so (was mercy shown me), but
the grace—by which "I obtained mercy" (1Ti 1:13).
was exceeding abundant—Greek, "superabounded." Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound" (Ro 5:20).
with faith—accompanied with faith, the opposite of "unbelief" (1Ti 1:13).
love—in contrast to "a blasphemer, persecutor, and injurious."
which is in Christ—as its element and home [Alford]: here as its source whence it flows to us.
15. faithful—worthy of credit, because "God" who says it "is faithful" to His word (1Co 1:9; 1Th 5:24; 2Th 3:3; Re 21:5; 22:6). This seems to have become an axiomatic saying among Christians the phrase, "faithful saying," is peculiar to the Pastoral Epistles (1Ti 2:11; 4:9; Tit 3:8). Translate as Greek, "Faithful is the saying."
all—all possible; full; to be received by all, and with all the faculties of the soul, mind, and heart. Paul, unlike the false teachers (1Ti 1:7), understands what he is saying, and whereof he affirms; and by his simplicity of style and subject, setting forth the grand fundamental truth of salvation through Christ, confutes the false teachers' abstruse and unpractical speculations (1Co 1:18-28; Tit 2:1).
acceptation—reception (as of a boon) into the heart, as well as the understanding, with all gladness; this is faith acting on the Gospel offer, and welcoming and appropriating it (Ac 2:41).
Jesus—as manifested [Bengel].
to save sinners—even notable sinners like Saul of Tarsus. His instance was without a rival since the ascension, in point of the greatness of the sin and the greatness of the mercy: that the consenter to Stephen, the proto-martyr's death, should be the successor of the same!
I am—not merely, "I was chief" (1Co 15:9; Eph 3:8; compare Lu 18:13). To each believer his own sins must always appear, as long as he lives, greater than those of others, which he never can know as he can know his own.
chief—the same Greek as in 1Ti 1:16, "first," which alludes to this fifteenth verse, Translate in both verses, "foremost." Well might he infer where there was mercy for him, there is mercy for all who will come to Christ (Mt 18:11; Lu 19:10).
16. Howbeit—Greek, "But"; contrasting his own conscious sinfulness with God's gracious visitation of him in mercy.
for this cause—for this very purpose.
that in me—in my case.
first—"foremost." As I was "foremost" (Greek for chief, 1Ti 1:15) in sin, so God has made me the "foremost" sample of mercy.
show—to His own glory (the middle Greek, voice), Eph 2:7.
all long-suffering—Greek, "the whole (of His) long-suffering," namely, in bearing so long with me while I was a persecutor.
a pattern—a sample (1Co 10:6, 11) to assure the greatest sinners of the certainty that they shall not be rejected in coming to Christ, since even Saul found mercy. So David made his own case of pardon, notwithstanding the greatness of his sin, a sample to encourage other sinners to seek pardon (Ps 32:5, 6). The Greek for "pattern" is sometimes used for a "sketch" or outline—the filling up to take place in each man's own case.
believe on him—Belief rests ON Him as the only foundation on which faith relies.
to life everlasting—the ultimate aim which faith always keeps in view (Tit 1:2).
17. A suitable conclusion to the beautifully simple enunciation of the Gospel, of which his own history is a living sample or pattern. It is from the experimental sense of grace that the doxology flows [Bengel].
the King, eternal—literally, "King of the (eternal) ages." The Septuagint translates Ex 15:18, "The Lord shall reign for ages and beyond them." Ps 145:13, Margin, "Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom," literally, "a kingdom of all ages." The "life everlasting" (1Ti 1:16) suggested here "the King eternal," or everlasting. It answers also to "for ever and ever" at the close, literally, "to the ages of the ages" (the countless succession of ages made up of ages).
immortal—The oldest manuscripts read, "incorruptible." The Vulgate, however, and one very old manuscript read as English Version (Ro 1:23).
the only wise God—The oldest manuscripts omit "wise," which probably crept in from Ro 16:27, where it is more appropriate to the context than here (compare Jude 25). "The only Potentate" (1Ti 6:15; Ps 86:10; Joh 5:44).
for ever, &c.—See note, above. The thought of eternity (terrible as it is to unbelievers) is delightful to those assured of grace (1Ti 1:16) [Bengel].
This charge—namely, "that thou in them (so the Greek) mightest war," that is, fulfil thy high calling, not only as a Christian, but as a minister officially, one function of which is, to "charge some that they teach no other doctrine" (1Ti 1:3).
according to—in pursuance of; in consonance with.
the prophecies which went before on thee—the intimations given by prophets respecting thee at thy ordination, 1Ti 4:14 (as, probably, by Silas, a companion of Paul, and "a prophet," Ac 15:32). Such prophetical intimation, as well as the good report given of Timothy by the brethren (Ac 16:2), may have induced Paul to take him as his companion. Compare similar prophecies as to others: Ac 13:1-3, in connection with laying on of hands; Ac 11:28; 21:10, 11; compare 1Co 12:10; 14:1; Eph 4:11. In Ac 20:28, it is expressly said that "the Holy Ghost had made them (the Ephesian presbyters) overseers." Clement of Rome [Epistle to the Corinthians], states it was the custom of the apostles "to make trial by the Spirit," that is, by the "power of discerning," in order to determine who were to be overseers and deacons in the several churches planted. So Clement of Alexandria says as to the churches near Ephesus, that the overseers were marked out for ordination by a revelation of the Holy Ghost to St. John.
by them—Greek, "in them"; arrayed as it were in them; armed with them.
19. Holding—Keeping hold of "faith" and "good conscience" (1Ti 1:5); not "putting the latter away" as "some." Faith is like a very precious liquor; a good conscience is the clean, pure glass that contains it [Bengel]. The loss of good conscience entails the shipwreck of faith. Consciousness of sin (unrepented of and forgiven) kills the germ of faith in man [Wiesinger].
which—Greek singular, namely, "good conscience," not "faith" also; however, the result of putting away good conscience is, one loses faith also.
put away—a wilful act. They thrust it from them as a troublesome monitor. It reluctantly withdraws, extruded by force, when its owner is tired of its importunity, and is resolved to retain his sin at the cost of losing it. One cannot be on friendly terms with it and with sin at one and the same time.
made shipwreck—"with respect to THE faith." Faith is the vessel in which they had professedly embarked, of which "good conscience" is the anchor. The ancient Church often used this image, comparing the course of faith to navigation. The Greek does not imply that one having once had faith makes shipwreck of it, but that they who put away good conscience "make shipwreck with respect to THE faith."
20. Hymenaeus—There is no difficulty in supposing him to be the Hymenæus of 2Ti 2:17. Though "delivered over to Satan" (the lord of all outside the Church, Ac 26:18, and the executor of wrath, when judicially allowed by God, on the disobedient, 1Co 5:5; 2Co 12:7), he probably was restored to the Church subsequently, and again troubled it. Paul, as an apostle, though distant at Rome pronounced the sentence to be executed at Ephesus, involving, probably, the excommunication of the offenders (Mt 18:17, 18). The sentence operated not only spiritually, but also physically, sickness, or some such visitation of God, falling on the person excommunicated, in order to bring him to repentance and salvation. Alexander here is probably "the coppersmith" who did Paul "much evil" when the latter visited Ephesus. The "delivering him to Satan" was probably the consequence of his withstanding the apostle (2Ti 4:14, 15); as the same sentence on Hymenæus was the consequence of "saying that the resurrection is past already" (2Ti 2:18; his putting away good conscience, naturally producing shipwreck concerning FAITH, 1Ti 1:19. If one's religion better not his morals, his moral deficiencies will corrupt his religion. The rain which falls pure from heaven will not continue pure if it be received in an unclean vessel [Archbishop Whately]). It is possible that he is the Alexander, then a Jew, put forward by the Jews, doubtless against Paul, at the riot in Ephesus (Ac 19:33).
that they may—not "might"; implying that the effect still continues—the sentence is as yet unremoved.
learn—Greek, "be disciplined," namely, by chastisement and suffering.
blaspheme—the name of God and Christ, by doings and teachings unworthy of their Christian profession (Ro 2:23, 24; Jas 2:7). Though the apostles had the power of excommunication, accompanied with bodily inflictions, miraculously sent (2Co 10:8), it does not follow that fallible ministers now have any power, save that of excluding from church fellowship notorious bad livers.