THE FIRST EPISTLE TO TIMOTHY
1 Timothy 1:1-4
1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by time commandment of God our Savior, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope;
1. Paulus apostolus Iesu Christi secundum ordinationem Dei Salvatoris nostri, et Domini Iesu Christi spei nostrae:
2 Unto Timothy, my own son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father, and Jesus Christ our Lord.
2. Timotheo germano filio in fide, gratia, misericordia, pax a Deo Patre nostro, et Christo Iesu Domino Nostro.
3. As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine
3. Qeumadmodum rogavi te ut maneres Ephesi, quum proficiscerer in Macedoniam, volo denunties quibusdam, ne aliter doceant;
4. Neither give heed to fables, and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than gorily edifying, which is in faith; so do.
4. Neque attendant fabulis et genealogiis nunquam finiendis, quae quaestiones praebent magis quam aedificationem Dei, quae in fide consistit.
He calls God
(Matthew 23:9,) "Call no man your father on the earth?"
Or how does it agree with the declaration of the Apostle,
"Though ye have many fathers according to the flesh, yet there is but One who is the Father of spirits." (1 Corinthians 4:15; Hebrews 12:9.) 1
I reply, while Paul claims for himself the appellation of father, he does it in such a manner as not to take away or diminish the smallest portion of the honor which is due to God. (Hebrews 12:9.) It is a common proverb "That which is placed below another is not at variance with it." The name father, applied to Paul, with reference to God, belongs to this class. God alone is the Father of all in faith, because he regenerates us all by his word, and by the power of his Spirit, and because none but he bestows faith. But they whom he is graciously pleased to employ as his ministers for that purpose, are likewise allowed to share with him in his honor, while, at the same time, He parts with nothing that belongs to himself. Thus God, and God alone, strictly speaking, was Timothy's spiritual Father; but Paul, who was God's minister in begetting Timothy, lays claim to this title, by what may be called a subordinate right.
If we read it, "to teach differently," the meaning will be more expensive; for by this expression he will forbid Timothy to permit any new forms of teaching to be introduced, which do not agree with the true and pure doctrine which he had taught. Thus, in the Second Epistle, he recommends uJpotu>pwsiv, 3 that is, a lively picture of his doctrine. (2 Timothy 1:13.) For, as the truth of God is one, so is there but one plain manner of teaching it, which is free from false ornament, and which partakes more of the majesty of the Spirit than of the parade of human eloquence. Whoever departs from that, disfigures and corrupts the doctrine itself; and, therefore, "to teach differently," must relate to the form.
If we read it, "to teach something different," it will relate to the matter. Yet it is worthy of observation, that we give the name of another doctrine not only to that which is openly at variance with the pure doctrine of the gospel, but to everything that either corrupts the pure gospel by new and borrowed inventions, or obscures it by ungodly speculations. For all the inventions of men are so many corruptions of the gospel; and they who make sport of the Scriptures, as ungodly people are accustomed to do, so as to turn Christianity into an act of display, darken the gospel. His manner of teaching therefore, is entirely opposed to the word of God, and to that purity -- of doctrine in which Paul enjoins the Ephesians to continue.
This passage, therefore, may thus be explained: -- "Let them not give heed to fables of that character and description to which genealogies belong." And that is actually the fabulous history of which Suetonius speaks, and which even among grammarians, has always been justly ridiculed by persons of sound judgment; for it was impossible not to regard as ridiculous that curiosity which, neglecting useful knowledge, spent the whole life in examining the genealogy of Achilles and Ajax, and wasted its powers in reckoning up the sons of Priam. If this be not endured in childish knowledge, in which there is room for that which affords pleasure, how much more intolerable is it heavenly wisdom 5?
If this test had been applied during several centuries, although religion had been stained by many errors, at least that diabolical art of disputing, Which has obtained the appellation of Scholastic Theology, would not have prevailed to so great an extent. For what does that theology contain but contentions or idle speculations, from which no advantage is derived? Accordingly, the more learned a man is in it, we ought to account him the more wretched. I am aware of the plausible excuses by which it is defended, but they will never make out that Paul has spoken falsely in condemning, everything of the sort.
1 Our author, quoting from memory, blends the two passages, not quite accurately, yet so as to convey the true meaning of both. -- Ed.
2 "The construction here is tortuous and elliptical.
3 "Il ne recommande pas simplement a Timothee de retener sa doctrine, mais il use d'un mot qui signifie le vray patron, ou vif portraict d'icelle." "He does not merely advise Timothy to hold by his doctrine, but employs a word which denotes the true pattern or lively portrait of it."
4 "Et c'est en ceste signification que Suetone, en la vie de Tibere, dit que cest empereur la s'amusoit fort a l'histoire fabuleuse." "And it is in this sense that Suetonius, in his life of Tiberius, says that that emperor amused himself very much with fabulous history."
5 "Here we see more clearly, that Paul did not merely condemn in this passage doctrines which are altogether false, and which contain some blasphemies, but likewise all those useless speculations which serve to turn aside believers from the pure simplicity of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is what Paul includes under the word "fables," for he means not only deliberate and manifest falsehoods, but likewise everything that is of no use, and this is implied in the word which he employs. What, then, does Paul set aside in this passage? All curious inquiries, all speculations which serve only to annoy and distress the mind, or in which there is nothing but a fair show and display, and which do not promote the salvation of those who hear them. This must be carefully remembered, for we shall afterwards see that the reason why Paul speaks of them in this manner is, that the word of God must be profitable. (2 Timothy 3:16.) All who do not apply the word of God to good profit and advantage are despisers and falsifiers of good doctrine." -- Fr. Ser.
7 "Rather than godly edifying," -- Eng. Tr.
8 "This word edify is sufficiently common in the Holy Scripture, but is not understood by all. In order to understand it aright, let us observe that it is a comparisons which is set before us; for we ought to be temples of God, because he wishes to dwell in us. -- Those who profit in a right manner, that is, in faith, in the fear of God, in holiness of life, are said to be edified; that is, God builds them to be his temples, and wishes to dwell in them; and also that we should unitedly form a temple of God, for each of us is a stone of that temple. Thus, when each of us shall be well instructed in his duty, and when we shall all be united in holy brotherhood, then shall we be edified in God. It is true, that men may sometimes be edified in pride: as we see that they who take delight in their vain imaginations, and who spread their wings, and swell themselves out like toads, think that they are well edified. Alas! what a poor building is this! But Paul expressly says, that we must be edified according to God. By which he shews, that when we shall be instructed to serve God, to render to him pure worship, to place all our confidence in him, this is the edification at which we must aim; and every doctrine that has that tendency is good and holy, and ought to be received I but all that is opposed to it must be rejected without farther dispute: it is unnecessary to make any longer inquiry. And why must this or that be rejected? Because it does not contribute to the edification of God." -- Fr. Ser.