A Study of 1 Timothy
Fight the Good Fight
1 Timothy 1 :15-20 SCC 10/28/12
FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT OF THE GOSPEL
Verse 15: "This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners." Five times in the Pastoral Epistles the little phrase "this is a faithful saying" appears. It indicates a familiar saying that had already developed in the early church. It isn't something that Paul is saying for the first time, but something he is quoting that he knew everyone knew as a trustworthy saying. There were some creeds and some hymns and some faithful sayings, some trustworthy sayings that were really a summary of some great truth.
There are five of them in the Pastoral Epistles. Two of those five have the statement added "worthy". They are summaries of very key important doctrines, which should be believed, should be affirmed, and should be accepted. The summary statement acts as a condensed articulation of the gospel. Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. Every word is chosen carefully. Christ Jesus is often the order used in these books. It was the glorified Christ, the exalted Christ, and the reigning Christ that Paul met on the Damascus Road before he knew it was also Jesus of Nazareth. Whereas the other New Testament writers who were His disciples, who knew Him first as Jesus, and then came to know that He was the Messiah, prefer the description, Jesus Christ.
Bound up in those two terms is all that He is. He is the anointed King, He is the one who came to redeem. He is the one who became the earthly Jesus in His incarnation.
Also the statement says He came into the world. It does not say He came into existence. It does not say He was created. It does not say He was made. It implies not only His incarnation but also His preexistence. He came into the world. He was somewhere else and He came into the world, the preincarnate Christ. The world has to do with our sphere of existence, the Earth, but more than that it speaks of the world of men, the world of mankind, the world of humanity, the human race, blind and lost and condemned and damned to hell, hostile to God, engulfed in fallenness and evil. It is that world to which He came, the world of sinners, the realm of unbelief and hostility toward God, the world of darkness.
It very specifically says that, "Christ Jesus came into the world to save." To rescue is the implication and to deliver out of darkness and death into life. The very purpose that God had in mind was redemption of sinners. He really believed he was the world's worst sinner. In 1 Corinthians 15:9 he says "I am the least of the Apostles, I am not fit to be called an Apostle...here's the reason...I persecuted the church of God." In Ephesians 3:8, he says, "I am less than the least of all saints." He believed it.
FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT OF MERCY IN CHRIST
Verse 16: That was a healthy self-view for Paul because it was accurate and that's the basis of the purpose of his salvation. "Nevertheless, for this cause I obtained mercy." What cause? Because I was so wretched a sinner, because I was so rotten and so vile and because I was the worst sinner alive, I received mercy. Why does God save the worst sinner? "In order that in me first or me foremost Jesus Christ might show forth all long suffering or patience." Why did God saved Paul? You say, "To keep him out of hell." No, that was a benefit. You say, "To get him in to heaven." No that was a benefit. You say, "To have him write the epistles." No, He could have anybody do that. "To preach." No, He could have anybody do that. "Well why did He save Paul?" Because God wanted to save the world's worst Christian...the world's worst pagan and make him the world's greatest Christian. Why? To show the power of grace and to put Himself on display. God's willingness to endure the insults and the blasphemies and the rejection and the sins of men like Paul show how great His grace is, how magnanimous His mercy is.
Verse 17: And that's why we have in the response to grace, "Now unto the King eternal," literally the king of the ages. The supremely sovereign one, immortal, that is imperishable, incorruptible, no death, decay or loss of strength, the invisible one known only by self-revelation for He cannot be seen by eyes nor heard by ears, only when He's self-revealed can He be known. The only God...the only God to Him be honor and glory forever and ever. And then he adds...Amen. Which means let it be said, let it be said.
FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT OF TRUTH
Verse 18: The warfare of which Paul speaks has at its highest level a tremendous conflict between God and Satan. That is the primary level of the warfare. Everything else in a sense comes under that. It is a war of the Lord God Jehovah and His truth against Satan and his lies. It is a war between God and His will and Satan and his will. And such a war is not only fought between God and Satan but between demons and holy angels and between ungodly men and godly men so that this cosmic warfare at the level of God and the highest creature He ever made, Lucifer, filters all the way down to involve every human being, including us.
First the command. The word "charge" is "command." It refers to a military command. It's used in chapter 1 in that way and it's used here that way. It is not something that is discussed; it is something that is given as an order to be carried out. Timothy is under military obligation.
Second a commission. I ‘entrust’ you with this. Paul gave to Timothy a valued deposit. What was it? It was a deposit of truth. It was a deposit of truth which is more valuable than anything. Second Timothy 2:2, "The things which you have heard from me among many witnesses, the same entrust to faithful men." I entrusted it to you, you keep it and entrust it to others. He repeatedly told Timothy to keep care of that sacred trust.
Third a confirmation to live up to. Now this command and this commission, this calling of Timothy was confirmed through prophecies. They finally culminated in 4:14, "Neglect not the gift that's in you, given you by prophecy," In other words, God gave that gift to Timothy, and then articulated that gift through the prophecies and then confirmed it by the laying on of hands on Timothy as an act of confirmation by the elders.
FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT OF FAITH
Verse 19: In order for us to win the war we have to know our responsibility and accountability to the Lord and Paul puts these two things together throughout this epistle. The first one, "having faith," means believing in the truth, holding faith in the faith. We could say it means commitment to believing the truth of God. Our obligation to the Lord in the fulfillment of our ministry is to stay true to the Word of God and then to have a good conscience. And a good conscience simply means a conscience that is pure, a conscience that is undefiled. It's a conscience void of offense toward God. It's a satisfied conscience, a conscience at rest, and a conscience that says all things are well.
FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT OF DISCIPLINE
Verse 20: Delivered unto Satan. Satan, the enemy of God, the hater of good, liar, murderer, demon, leader of demonic forces, despiser of Christ, who lives to destroy all that God designs and will be consigned ultimately to the Lake of Fire to be tormented forever, Satan, that maker of perverts, that maker of madmen and criminals, devastator of families, creator of chaos, to be turned over to him is indeed a terrifying thought. Who then are those that are turned over to Satan? To be turned over to Satan then is to take that believer or that unbeliever who is in the family of the redeemed, at least outwardly, and push them out into the full fury of Satan's world. Some people by God's design and sovereign purpose are thrust out of the protected place of the church into the Satanic dimension.
Paul instructs Timothy in this first chapter that he's going to have to do that with certain people in the church at Ephesus where he is now located. Paul says I set the example, in verse 20, because I took Hymenaeus and Alexander and I put them out, I delivered them over to Satan that they might be literally, physically trained, or physically punished for their blasphemy. Now that's the pattern for what I want you to do. The church is a wonderful haven, a place of protection for believers. It is even a place where unbelievers can come and find a certain amount of haven from the fury of Satan. But also that for God's own purposes there are times and there are people who are thrown out into Satan's domain.
So, there are those within the protected community who can be turned over to Satan not for the sake of teaching some great truth, not for the sake of maintaining humility, not for the sake of strengthening others, not for the sake of gaining reward, not for the sake of eternal praise, but for the sake of judgment. What is he saying here when he says, "I have delivered Hymenaeus and Alexander unto Satan?" Most likely they were not believers because they had corrupted the gospel. And he delivered them that they might learn the consequence of blasphemy. Now we don't know whether it meant they would die or whether it meant some disease or the devastation of their possessions or the loss of everything they had, whatever devastation Satan wanted to bring within God's allowance would come.
Now when he says, "Whom I have delivered unto Satan," he means I put them out of the church. I put those sinning people away from the protection and insulation of God's people. I put them in the domain of the devil, away from the influences of all that is good and godly. Why? That they may learn that you can't blaspheme and get away with it. Anything that you do that disobeys God is blasphemy. Anything you say that speaks evil against God is blasphemy. And any blasphemy needs discipline. But they were turned over to Satan to be punished as a lesson that you can't blaspheme, a lesson to them and a lesson to everybody else. Blaspheme means to slander God, to ridicule God.
1. The essence of the gospel is to deliver sinners from their sin. It is bad news before it is good news. The bad news makes it good news.
2. God patience with us as sinners means he can be merciful to us in Jesus Christ. This mercy, once grasped, is the basis of our praise and worship.
3. Since we are here to fight it must be a good fight. A good fight is a spiritual fight committed to truth, faith, and discipline, not politics or social outcomes.