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Timothy Series - Lesson Six:

1 Timothy Chapter 1 Verses 18 - 20

John Baugh
September, 2008

Fight the Good Fight

18This command I entrust to you, Timothy, my son, in accordance
with the prophecies previously made concerning you,
that by them you fight the good fight,
19keeping faith and a good conscience,
which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith.  20Among these are Hymenaeus and Alexander,
whom I have handed over to Satan,
so that they will be taught not to blaspheme.
(1 Timothy 1:18-20 NASB)

 

This command I entrust to you, Timothy my son:

There can be no doubt that Paul loved Timothy. During their time together, he had grown to think of the young disciple as his “true child in the faith” (1 Timothy 1:2 NASB). In 2 Timothy, He addresses the disciple as, “my beloved son” (2 Timothy 1:2). The command (instruction) he is about to entrust is offered in the love of a father to his son.

The word “entrust”, used in the NASB is an interesting word. The KJV uses the word commit. NIV uses the more generic word, “give” The words translated in the KJV and NASB are banker words used by inverters to describe something extended in anticipation of a return on investment. The word in the Greek that is translated into “entrust or commit” is “Paratithemi”, which Paul uses in the in the middle indicative tense. For middle tense verbs, the subject initiates the action and participates in the results of the action – performs the action for their own benefit. The indicative mood is the mood of certainty. It indicates a simple statement of fact. If an action really occurs or has occurred or will occur, it is stated in the indicative case vs subjunctive case which states probability or uncertainty.

What Paul seems to be saying is he is certain that this commitment (investment) in Timothy will benefit his end desire, which is to benefit the church in Ephesus, and the cause for which he has dedicated his life – the advancement of the gospel of Christ Jesus

 

In accordance with the prophecies previously made concerning you:

Paul wanted to be clear that there was a reason for his selection of Timothy. His selection of the young disciple to address the problems with the church in Ephesus was not based on personal friendship or affection. Paul was not following a whim or hunch. In fact, his opinion concerning Timothy was strong and based on his agreement with the statements of those who had uttered prophecies about Timothy. He wanted the disciple to know that.

What were the Prophecies that were made concerning Timothy? (We don’t know). They probably were related to another reference Paul made concerning Timothy’s spiritual gift (1 Timothy 4:14), perhaps made evident at his ordination.

Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you, which was bestowed on you through prophetic utterance with the laying on of hands by the presbytery. (1 Timothy 4:14 NASB)

Paul writes about this gift again in 2 Timothy 1:5-7.

I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also. For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:5-7 NASB)

Paul placed a high value on the gift of prophecy. This is what he wrote to the church in Corinth:

 Pursue love, yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy. For one who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God; for no one understands, but in his spirit he speaks mysteries. But one who prophesies speaks to men for edification and exhortation and consolation. One who speaks in a tongue edifies himself; but one who prophesies edifies the church. Now I wish that you all spoke in tongues, but even more that you would prophesy; and greater is one who prophesies than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may receive edifying.  (1 Corinthians 14:1-5 NASB)

 

That by them, you fight the good fight

Paul's letters are characterized by certain themes. He uses sports analogies, military terminology and medical reasoning to make his points. Here he challenges his young disciple to fight the good fight. Paul may have known boxing and this challenge may have been a sporting reference, since boxing was a popular sport with the Greeks, going to the 8th century BC (known as Pyx, Pygme or Pygmachia in Greek). Even in ancient times, the sport had rules, such as no holds or wrestling and no gouging with the fingers. Judges to boxing matches of that time held the authority to strike offenders with a switch.

This reference used by Paul may also have been a military term, challenging Timothy to stick to the fight as in battle.

Whether referencing boxing or military battle, Paul was challenging Timothy to fight an honorable battle.

Paul references two goals for Timothy as he fought.

1 - He urged Timothy to keep the Faith. This would have been as important to Paul as it was to Christ Jesus. Faith determines our relationship with both Father (God) and Son (Christ). As our faith goes, so goes the battle. Little faith in the power of Christ, supplied through the Holy Spirit would lead to failure on Timothy's part. Great faith would assure victory over the problems Timothy would encounter with the church in Ephesus.

2 - Paul urged Timothy to fight in good conscience. Conscience is what we feel about our actions when we share our feelings with no one else. Our conscience is our inner sense of right and wrong. Paul wanted his disciple to have the moral and spiritual strength to only do those things that were spotless and proper in the eyes of the Lord. These days, a popular saying is "What would Jesus Do?" Ministering to the church in Ephesus by constantly asking the question "What Would Jesus Do?" and then ministering in that manner was what would keep Timothy in good conscience, knowing that in the silence of the night, when his thoughts were his alone, he was right with his Lord. That was how Paul led his life and what he expected from Timothy.

 

Which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith.

Paul hoped for and expected good faith and conscience from Timothy, but he knew that others had drifted or willingly moved away from those qualities of a good disciple of Christ. In Paul's mind, variance from these marks of character could lead to disaster. Paul had experienced disaster and the best descriptive word he could share with Timothy to describe a disastrous event was shipwreck. I am certain that Paul had a vivid picture in his mind of the shipwreck of loss of faith. To be on the sea in storm weather, in a ship that is going down, with no hope of rescue, or in a ship that is tearing apart on stormy seas or breaking apart on the rocks in a storm is the worst fear that those who trust their lives to a craft on the sea might imagine. Paul chose to use this analogy to describe the fates of some who turned away from faith.

 

Among these are:

1 - Hymenaeus  - is mentioned twice by Paul

Here (1 Timothy 1:20)

Also  (2 Timothy 2:16-18)

Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. Their teaching will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have wandered away from the truth. They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some.

2 - Alexander - of Ephesus is mentioned three times by Paul

In Acts 19:23-41 He was presented as a Jew who was involved in the Silversmith Riots in Ephesus that almost cost Paul his life and caused him to leave Ephesus.

In 1Timothy 1:20 (here)

In 2 Timothy 4:14-15 - Alexander the metalworker did me a great deal of harm. The Lord will repay him for what he has done. You too should be on your guard against him, because he strongly opposed our message.

 

whom I have handed over to Satan, so that they will be taught not to blaspheme.

By writing this, Paul may have been saying that spiritually these men were on their own, having sinned against the Lord to the point that there was no help for them through anything the church might do.  Perhaps you know someone who is so opposed to any spiritual contact that there is no way to approach them, short of prayer for the Lord to deal with them, and concern for their soul. When Paul uses the term blaspheme, meaning to indulge in profane oaths, verbal hostility and profanity against the Lord. Evidently the actions, speech and hostility of Hymenaeus And Alexander of Ephesus were beyond Paul's capability to address.

Paul mentions both men a second time in the second letter to Timothy, indicating more about the problems they were still causing the church in Ephesus at that time (destroying the faith of some and opposing the gospel message).

It is not unreasonable to think that if these two men were beyond Paul's ability to address that Timothy would have similar problems with them.

 

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