1 Timothy 1:1–11 (NKJV)
1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the commandment of God our Savior and the Lord Jesus Christ, our hope,
2 To Timothy, a true son in the faith:
Grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.I Timothy 1:1-2
Paul writes this letter not to a church, but to his son in the Lord, Timothy. He identifies himself, as is common, as an apostle called by God, and then gives praise to Jesus Christ, the hope of the faithful. He addresses the letter to Timothy, specifically, calling him a “true son in the faith.” He finally sends Timothy as opening blessing of grace, mercy, and peace from the Father and Jesus Christ.
3 As I urged you when I went into Macedonia—remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine, 4 nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith. 5 Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith, 6 from which some, having strayed, have turned aside to idle talk, 7 desiring to be teachers of the law, understanding neither what they say nor the things which they affirm.I Timothy 1:3-11
8 But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully, 9 knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, 10 for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine, 11 according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God which was committed to my trust.
He reminds Timothy of his instructions to stay in Ephesus to watch over the church there. Paul was in Macedonia to visit and supervise the churches there. Paul specifically tasks Timothy with guarding against false doctrines, fables, and attention to insignificant facts and details that simply create division and debates. He tells Timothy to help the church avoid disputes and to instead build one another up in the faith. The subject of the commandment of Paul is to teach and engender love in the church at Ephesus. This love should replace idle talk, pride, and disputing. Instead, they should live with pure hearts, good consciences, and sincere faith.
This course of teaching should help them understand that the law is not for the righteous person, for the new life in Christ will draw and lead one to live in a way that pleases the God they know and serve in relationship. The law is instead for the lawless and insubordinate sinner, for the ungodly who constantly walk in unholy and profane lifestyles. These sinners murder their parents, kill others unlawfully, engage in sexual sins, even homosexuality. This group of humanity kidnaps others for the sake of gain, and lie–even in court–to God and men. Anything else that is contrary to sound doctrine can be found among the sinful family of the unsaved. The gospel of Christ, committed to Paul, makes all of this clear.
The bottom line of this passage in the letter to Timothy is this: the young churches in Ephesus and other cities were susceptible to false teachers, Judaizers, and sinful men and women. Paul trusts his spiritual son, Timothy, to supervise the church in Ephesus in their infancy so that these false prophets would not infiltrate the congregation and infuse them with heresy and damning doctrines. While all believers are part of the royal priesthood of the kingdom of Christ, it is imperative that overseers, pastors, and mentors watch over the young converts in their ranks in order to prevent evil from drawing them away from true doctrine and truth. Reach out to the young in the Lord and keep them safe from the wolves who would devour them! That is the purpose of this passage. That is purpose to which Timothy was called. That is our purpose as well, to love enough to protect and nurture young souls.