1 Timothy 1:18-20

The Grace Notes devotions in 2024 are based on verses from 1 Timothy. Each devotion includes some Greek, touches on the pastoral ministry today, and ends with a prayer.

In January, we looked at the salutation (1 Tim 1:1-2). In February, we considered Paul’s purpose in writing to Timothy (1 Tim 1:3-11)—to charge Timothy to preach sound doctrine in opposition to the false teachers of the law. In March, we heard Paul’s personal story (vv. 12-14) and the general gospel truths to be drawn from it (vv. 15-17).

In the next three verses (vv. 18-20), Paul uses wartime language and maritime language to impress on Timothy the seriousness of this charge.  

18 Ταύτην τὴν παραγγελίαν παρατίθεμαί σοι, τέκνον Τιμόθεε, κατὰ τὰς προαγούσας ἐπὶ σὲ προφητείας, ἵνα στρατεύῃ ἐν αὐταῖς τὴν καλὴν στρατείαν,  19 ἔχων πίστιν καὶ ἀγαθὴν συνείδησιν, ἥν τινες ἀπωσάμενοι περὶ τὴν πίστιν ἐναυάγησαν·  20 ὧν ἐστιν Ὑμέναιος καὶ Ἀλέξανδρος, οὓς παρέδωκα τῷ Σατανᾷ ἵνα παιδευθῶσι μὴ βλασφημεῖν. 

Ταύτην τὴν παραγγελίαν – Paul calls Timothy his son once again and reminds him of the task committed to him. “This charge” includes, first of all, the specific task mentioned in verses 3-5, namely, commanding certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer. Included also in this charge is the proper proclamation of law and gospel. Surrounding us too are the lies of false teachers and the devil who stands behind them. We have work to do.

κατὰ τὰς προαγούσας ἐπὶ σὲ προφητείας – What are the prophecies which preceded and pointed to Timothy? General biblical prophecies about faithful shepherds under Christ? Specific prophecies spoken at Timothy’s ordination and installation? Whatever the case, Paul’s command to serve faithfully is in line with those prophecies of God.

ἵνα στρατεύῃ … τὴν καλὴν στρατείαν – The ἵνα clause illustrates the nature of Timothy’s task. It is a fight. But it is a good fight, a God-pleasing fight, a fight that really belongs to God. We do well to remember that the battle is the Lord’s.

ἵνα στρατεύῃ ἐν αὐταῖς τὴν καλὴν στρατείαν – Timothy fights this good fight ἐν αὐταῖς, with the prophecies spoken about him still surrounding him. Timothy remembers those prophecies. They ring in his ears. Daily they provide him strength for this good fight.

ἔχων πίστιν καὶ ἀγαθὴν συνείδησιν – Timothy is surrounded by the prophesies of God; on the inside he holds on strongly to two things: faith and a good conscience. The Holy Spirit testifies with our spirits that we are Christ’s holy people, robed in his righteousness, walking and running in the paths of God’s commands.

ἥν τινες ἀπωσάμενοι περὶ τὴν πίστιν ἐναυάγησαν – But some people reject a good conscience by denying God’s word and by not turning to God in repentance and faith. The tragic result is that they break the ship of their faith to pieces on the sea.  

ὧν ἐστιν Ὑμέναιος καὶ Ἀλέξανδρος – Among those bringing such disaster on themselves were Hymanaeus and Alexander. Paul knew them. Timothy knew them. Sadly, in every era there are others like them. We know and can name others. Because of them, pastors serve with tears.

οὓς παρέδωκα τῷ Σατανᾷ ἵνα παιδευθῶσι μὴ βλασφημεῖν – Paul knew what to do with such men. He warned them. He removed them from the fellowship of the church. He let the law of God do its work. But there was hope. The gracious God might use the empty, self-destructive conditions under Satan’s rule to teach them and bring them back. In all our interactions with sinners wrapped up in sin—even in the sad declaration of excommunication—our goal and our hope and our prayer is that they will return. By God’s grace, we know and can name some who have!

Prayer: Dear Father in heaven, surround our pastors with your word and enable them in their hearts to hold on firmly to faith and a good conscience, so they can continue to fight the good fight of evangelical ministry among your people; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.