1 Timothy 1:1-2 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope, To Timothy my true son in the faith: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
Paul wrote this letter to his younger assistant, Timothy, around the year AD 64. Timothy was not an apostle, but was Paul’s representative in the city of Ephesus. Timothy was dear to Paul, and is mentioned in several of his other letters. This letter provides helpful instructions for him, and for the church in Ephesus.
1 Timothy 1:15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.
Paul was nearing the end of his life, and had been a Christian for over thirty years. But even at this late stage, he felt he was the worst of sinners. We never know how bad we are until we try to be good. And the better we try to be, the more we know that we are bad. The righteous know they are wicked, and the wicked think they are righteous.
A man walked into a bar and shot several people because he was angry. He later explained that he was a pretty good person when he was not angry. But we are all pretty good people when nothing is bothering us. How we behave when we are upset is a better indication of what is in our hearts.
1 Timothy 1:19 [Hold] on to faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and so have suffered shipwreck with regard to the faith.
Paul was describing Hymenaeus and Alexander (1 Timothy 1:20) who seemed to believe at first, but later suffered shipwreck. Christianity is a voyage to heaven, but many who embark never arrive. The ocean floor is strewn with ships that once sailed boldly. Some were dashed on rocks; others developed leaks that were never repaired.
This image was real to Paul since he was shipwrecked on his way to Rome (Acts 27:27-44). A wind of hurricane force battered the ship so badly that they passed ropes under the boat to hold it together. When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days and the storm continued raging, we finally gave up all hope of being saved (Acts 27:20), wrote Luke.
Storms at sea are real, and so are storms of faith. Paul and the others survived their storm at sea, but the journey to heaven is even more perilous. The most violent storms are spiritual, and occur within. The devil would bring us down, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe (Proverbs 29:25), says Proverbs.
1 Timothy 2:1-2 I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.
Paul wanted Christians to pray for political leaders as a way of keeping peace in the world. Paul lived during the Roman Peace which lasted over two hundred years (27 BC to AD 180). This was a time of relative calm which allowed Paul to travel and preach somewhat freely. War is hard on nations, as well as families, churches and missions. Since prayer is the greatest power on earth, Christians should pray for political leaders as a way of preserving peace.
Likewise, when God’s people were exiled to Babylon, God told them to seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper (Jeremiah 29:7). We too are foreigners and exiles on earth (1 Peter 2:11), wrote Peter. We should pray for our cities and nations because if they prosper, we too will prosper.
1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus.
When two people can no longer communicate, a third person may be needed to help mend the relationship. In a broken marriage, this may be a counselor who speaks to the husband and wife separately, on behalf of each other. A skillful counselor may even bring the marriage back together.
Likewise, the relationship between God and humans was so broken down that it could not be repaired without a mediator. The mediator would have to be someone who could represent God to humans, and humans to God.
This is why it was important for Christ to be both human and divine. If he was only divine, he could not represent humans to God. If he was only human, he could not represent God to the world. Jesus was God in the presence of humans, and he is a human in the presence of God. Jesus can speak to God for humans because he is a perfect human. And Jesus can speak to humans for God because he is divine.
Under the old covenant, people could only approach God through the priesthood. Now we go to God through Jesus Christ, our great high priest (Hebrews 4:14). We do not need religious professionals to represent us to God, because Jesus represents us to God. We do not need people who are better than us to represent us to God, because Jesus is the best there is. In fact, there is no one else who can represent us to God because there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus.
1 Timothy 2:6 [Jesus] gave himself as a ransom for all people.
In matters of war, ransoms were usually based on the rank of the captive. A general, for example, would require a much greater ransom than a common soldier. But Jesus paid the highest ransom ever paid for anyone, to bring us back to God. All the money in the world could not do that; only the blood of Christ could do that. He gave himself as a ransom for you.
Reflection and Review
Why did Paul consider himself to be the worst sinner?
How is turning away from Christ like a shipwreck?
Why is Jesus the perfect mediator between people and God?