The Gospel Observer

"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations...teaching them to observe all that I commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matt. 28:19,20).
December 30, 2012


1) 1 Timothy 1:8-16 (Tom Edwards)
2) News & Notes


1 Timothy 1:8-16
by Tom Edwards

In 1 Timothy 1:8-11, Paul declares the following about the Law: "But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully, realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted."

One of the purposes of the Law of Moses was to reveal sin (Rom. 3:20; Rom. 7:7) that people might know they are transgressors and in need of the Savior's pardon (Gal. 3:24).  So that was a good thing.  And though we are no longer under the Old Law, the gospel also reveals what sin is for our time; and, therefore, it is important that we take heed to it.    

Paul says that the "law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious...."  He also indicates this in Galatians 5:22,23: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law."  This also corresponds with Romans 13:3,4: "For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil."

The "profane," ("bebelos" in the Greek) whom Paul speaks of in 1 Timothy 1:9, are the "ungodly," as Thayer defines it; and though "profane" is one of the more common renderings, it is also seen in other translations as "those who have no religion," "defiled," "those who think nothing is holy or sacred," "irreverent," "impure," and "irreligious."  The dictionary defines "profane" as "1. showing irreverence toward God or sacred things; irreligious; blasphemous.  2. not devoted to holy purposes; secular (opposed to sacred).  3. unholy; heathen; pagan; ...5. coarse or vulgar."   J.W. Shepherd describes the profane as "Those who are impious or scoffers. One who treats the will of the Lord with contempt, mockery, or scorn."  Do you know anyone like that today?

The murder of strangers is bad enough, but Paul speaks also of "those who kill their fathers or mothers" (v. 9).  How much more cold-blooded could people be than to kill the very ones who raised them and took care of them -- even when they could not do that for themselves?  Commenting on this, E.M. Zerr writes: "Murder is a capital crime no matter against whom it is committed, but when perpetrated against one's parents, it also violates all the laws of affection that are intended to keep families united."

The "immoral men" (v. 10) in this list comes from the Greek word "pornos."  Thayer and James Strong show it to pertain first of all to a "male prostitute," but then also to a "fornicator" in general.

In this list of sins is also one that some people today want to view as an alternative lifestyle, yet the Bible will continue to show it as being a transgression in God's sight, as long as time shall last; and that is the sin of "homosexuality."  Though translated as "homosexuals" (v. 10) in the NASB, the KJV words it as "them that defile themselves with mankind."  And in the ASV, "abusers of themselves with men."  These phrases clearly portray homosexuality as being immoral, abominable, and degrading.  For to "defile" oneself is primarily "to make foul, dirty, or unclean" (Random House Webster's College Dictionary).  And an abuser can mean one who has given himself over to "a corrupt or improper practice" (ibid.).  God's attitude toward homosexuality is also seen in Leviticus 18:22: "You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination."  So it is viewed by God as vile and shameful.  Paul points out that "homosexuals," along with the "unrighteous," "fornicators," "idolaters," "adulterers," "effeminate," "thieves," "covetous," "drunkards," "revilers," and "swindlers," will not inherit God's kingdom (1 Cor. 6:9,10).  But if they repent, turning from their sin, and meet God's conditions for salvation, they can be forgiven, just as anyone else also can when submitting to God's plan of salvation.  As Paul goes on to show, concerning these Corinthians, "Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God" (v. 11).  So though we now live in a time when some states are sanctioning same-sex marriages, that does not change what God's word says concerning this.

Paul also mentions "perjurers" in 1 Timothy 1:10.  From the Greek word "epiorkos," a perjurer, of course, is a person who "swears falsely, especially in a court of law" (RHWCD).  The ASV renders it as "false swearers."  Concerning this, one of the 10 commandments warns, "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor" (Exod. 20:16).  False testimony can do much harm -- even fatally.  In 1 Kings 21:13, for example, two individuals, who are referred to as "worthless men," falsely accused Naboth as cursing God and the king.  As a result, Naboth was stoned to death.  How many down through time have been imprisoned or even sentenced to death, due to false accusations?  Joseph spent 2 years in prison for something he had not done, and "the chief priests and whole Council kept trying to obtain false testimony against Jesus, so that they might put Him to death" -- and "many false witnesses came forward" to make damaging charges against the Lord (Matt. 26:59,60).  

Another thing Paul implies about these various sins specified in 1 Timothy 1:9,10 is that they can all be categorized as that which would be "contrary to sound teaching" (v. 10).

Notice what Paul then says in 1 Timothy 1:12-14: "I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus."

Paul speaks of the Lord as having "strengthened" him (v. 12).  Mention is also made of this at the beginning of  Paul's conversion: "But Saul kept increasing in strength and confounding the Jews who lived at Damascus by proving that this Jesus is the Christ" (Acts 9:22).  And when so many others were turning away from Paul, the Lord did not: "At my first defense no one supported me, but all deserted me; may it not be counted against them.  But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that through me the proclamation might be fully accomplished, and that all the Gentiles might hear; and I was rescued out of the lion's mouth.  The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom; to Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen" (2 Tim. 4:16-18).  

God considered Paul "faithful, putting him into service" (1 Tim. 1:12).  Even when in Judaism, Paul showed how dedicated, loyal, and zealous he could be toward those principles he believed to be right -- and with much sincerity -- though some of them were very wrong.  This same type of commitment and fervor -- if not more so -- also carried over in Paul's service as an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ.  And now his zeal was no longer misdirected.  God not only knew what kind of man Paul had been, but also -- even prior to Paul's birth -- what kind of man he would become.  For instance, in referring to his ministry in the Lord, notice what Paul states in Galatians 1:15,16: "But when God, who had set me apart even from my mother's womb and called me through His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with flesh and blood...."  In Acts 9:15, the Lord instructed Ananias to go to Paul, saying, "Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel."

In speaking of his pre-Christian state, Paul refers to himself as having been "formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor" (1 Tim. 1:13).  Paul certainly wasn't the kind of person who would irreverently speak of God or sacred things, but that was what he was actually doing unintentionally, through his persecution of the church and his opposition to the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Thayer shows the Greek word for "blasphemer" (blasphemos) to mean "speaking evil, slanderous, reproachful, railing, abusive."

Our introduction to Paul in Acts 7:58 is where he is watching the cloaks of the men who were stoning Stephen, after they had been enraged over the truth he declared to them.  Later, when Paul met the Lord on the road to Damascus, he acknowledged his involvement in Stephen's death: "And when the blood of Your witness Stephen was being shed, I also was standing by approving, and watching out for the coats of those who were slaying him" (Acts 22:20).  Acts 8:1 says that "Saul was in hearty agreement with putting him to death...."   And that same verse also declares that "on that day a great persecution began against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles."  Verse 2 then speaks of Stephen's burial by devout men who "made loud lamentation over him."  "But Saul," according to verse 3, "began ravaging the church, entering house after house, and dragging off men and women, he would put them in prison."  Obviously, Paul was very zealous in doing what he believed to be right -- though he was so very wrong: "Now Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest, and asked for letters from him to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, both men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem" (Acts 9:1,2).  Consider also Acts 22:4,5: "I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and putting both men and women into prisons, as also the high priest and all the Council of the elders can testify. From them I also received letters to the brethren, and started off for Damascus in order to bring even those who were there to Jerusalem as prisoners to be punished."  "So then, I thought to myself that I had to do many things hostile to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.  And this is just what I did in Jerusalem; not only did I lock up many of the saints in prisons, having received authority from the chief priests, but also when they were being put to death I cast my vote against them.  And as I punished them often in all the synagogues, I tried to force them to blaspheme; and being furiously enraged at them, I kept pursuing them even to foreign cities" (Acts 26:9-11). 

By Paul's direct persecution upon the church, he was also indirectly persecuting the Lord.  As Jesus states, "...'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me'" (Matt. 25:40).  We recall, too, that on that Damascene road, where Paul encountered the risen Christ, Jesus said to him, in Acts 9:4, "...'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?'"  (This is also repeated in the two other accounts in Acts 22:7 and Acts 26:14.)

Nevertheless, Paul declares, "Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant" (vv. 13,14).  The penalty for a sin of ignorance will be the same as the penalty for sins committed knowingly; but one difference in these sins is what it tells us about the individual.  For is there not a major difference between one who sins knowingly and another who sins unknowingly and thinking he is serving God (and not breaking any laws of the land)?  This is not to say that the latter would be justified for his good intentions.  For they cannot atone for his iniquities.  But the Lord could see in Paul that, if he knew the truth, he would be the kind of person who would willingly, diligently, and even sacrificially serve Him.  

So we also note from the life of Paul that his sins of ignorance were not simply overlooked or forgiven unconditionally (cf. Rom. 10:1-3).  For he still had to submit to the gospel plan of salvation, just as anyone else also would.  And  no matter how greatly Paul had previously sinned, God's mercy and grace would be extended to him when he repented and met the Lord's conditions for the remission of those sins.  As Paul writes in Romans 5:20, "...but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more."

Some had taken this to mean that Paul was teaching, "Let us do evil that good may come" (Rom. 3:8).  But that is not what Paul meant, nor ever taught.  Rather, he is showing in Romans 5:20 that no matter how great sin might be in one's life, God's grace is greater still and able to pardon those who meet the Lord's conditions.

In 1 Timothy 1:14, Paul speaks of the grace, faith, and love (all three) as being "in Christ Jesus."  Concerning this, James Burton Coffman points out that "The tragedy of our day is that many speak glibly of their 'faith in Christ,' whereas, due to the fact of their never having been baptized 'into Christ,' their so-called faith is 'out of Christ,' not 'in Christ.'"

Paul also speaks of this grace, in verse 14, as being "more than abundant" with faith and love.  Some other versions render that as "abounded exceedingly" (ASV), "surpassingly over-abounded" (Darby), and "superabounded" (English Majority Text Version).  God, who created the universe, can certainly do things in a big way.   As A.C. Hervey observes, "The words (abounded exceedingly) occur 158 times in the New Testament, 106 of these in the Pauline letters."  

Notice in 1 Timothy 1:15,16, how Paul now cites himself as an example of God's willingness to save any sinner: "It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.  Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life."  The very word "gospel" means "good news," and what great news it is in the  statement that "...Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners."  When some were finding fault with the Lord for eating and drinking with tax collectors and sinners, He declared to them, "it is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners" (Mark 2:15-17).   And one of the things He came to call them to is "repentance," as the parallel account brings out (Luke 5:32).  

In showing God's willingness to save, Paul cites his own salvation.  For he viewed himself as once having been the "foremost of all" sinners -- or as the Contemporary English Version renders it, "the worst sinner of all."  

Though Paul did not view himself as being inferior to the other apostles when it came to his work and committed to the Lord (2 Cor. 11:5), yet because of his former involvement in being a zealous persecutor of the church, he viewed himself as inferior to the others in that respect: "For I am the least of the apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God" (1 Cor. 15:9).  But notice, however, what Paul goes on to say in the very next verse: "But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me" (v. 10).  Yes, when it came to his service as a Christian to God, Paul could say, "For I consider myself not in the least inferior to the most eminent apostles" (2 Cor. 11:5).

But in focusing on Paul's former life, he is saying, in essence, if the Lord can save me, He can save anyone!  How thankful we can be for that.  Jesus did come to save sinners.  Are you one who needs God's grace, mercy, and forgiveness in your life?  Then why not do as Paul did and submit to the Lord's plan of salvation this very day?!  


News & Notes

We extend our sympathies to the family and friends of Royce Spinks who had been a member of the Southside church of Christ in Gonzales, Louisiana, for many years.  My memory of him takes me back to the first time we met in 2002, soon after I had moved to this area.  There was a gospel meeting going on where he attended, and he was one who was greeting the visitors.  His good nature and friendliness made a lasting impression on me; and when I think back to that first visit there, he's one who stands out the most.  He had some health problems even then, which increased over the last few years.  R.J. Evans, who was a close friend of Royce, told me that Royce had been a big help to him when moving back to this area to preach for the church in Gonzales and continued to be a good friend and helpful through the years.  Prior to loosing his health, Royce also liked to be involved in taking care of whatever needed to be done for the building and the property where the church met.  Good people like that pass away, but their memory lives on in a positive way in all who knew them; and there is especially comfort in knowing they were Christians (cf. 1 Thess. 4:13-18).  Let those of us who are Christians be praying for all his family and friends.

Let us also keep Virginia Fontenot in prayer who had a startling experience recently when someone tried to break into her home by busting down the door.  Fortunately, her dog's barking deterred the criminal (or criminals) who then fled.   Her daughter Linda was told by one of the ladies where she works that one of her son's best friends also had an attempted break-in.  The door was kicked twice, and it appears a crowbar was used to try to pry the door open; but, fortunately, to no avail.  He and his family live just 4 streets over from Virginia. 

Cheryl Crews will soon be seeing her doctor about her heart.  Let us pray that all will go well -- and for Cheryl's other problems, too.

Jean Calloway has been back in the hospital, which, initially, had been in ICU; but now in one of the other rooms.  She has re-occurring problems with fluid build-up around her heart, trouble with diabetes, must always be on oxygen, and will have need of some dialysis, which they have inserted a tube for.

Let us also remember Pam MacDonald in prayer, concerning her back.  It gives her much trouble, but it seems she prefers that over the surgery that would be required.  For it will involve having to enter from front and back to work on her spine.

Joe Koczrowski's surgery went well, but after returning to Louisiana he developed an infection.  Due to the complication of his condition, he was actually flown back up to Cincinnati by his doctor there.  He is now back home, but will return in a couple weeks, which will also result in the removal of the 2nd (and last) colostomy bag.  But even now he is energetic, getting around well, and being his old self -- though at only 3.5 years old, maybe I should have clarified that with "former self" instead.

Let us also continue to remember Shirley Young in her struggles with fibromyalgia.

And also Scott Moon whose lung cancer has metastasized to a couple places of the brain.

All these people can be using our prayers.

The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation

1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17;  John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).

Park Forest

9923 Sunny Cline Dr., Baton Rouge, LA  70817
Sunday services: 9:00 AM (Bible class); 10 AM & 6 PM (worship)
Tuesday: 7 PM (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (225) 667-4520
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/go (Gospel Observer website)
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)