1 Timothy, Lesson 12: Paul’s Final Words to Timothy

Accept and Reject (610x352)Paul now finishes with his first letter to Timothy.


Personal words from Paul to Timothy as an overseer, continued 

Read 1 Timothy 6:11-12 (starting on 12b)

  • What had Timothy done “in the presence of many witnesses?”


  • What does “confess” mean? How does Paul describe that confession?


  • Why did Paul say that Timothy had “confessed” and not “witnessed?”


Excursus: Confessing vs. Witnessing

Witnessing has two parts. First, witnessing involves seeing an event. If someone wasn’t there to see a particular event, then he didn’t witness it. Second, witnessing then involves that person telling someone else what he saw; it is a spoken representation of what he visually saw and experienced.


Lesson 12, Witnessing


Today, pastors and Christians do not witness—at least when it comes to what Jesus did to save us. For we did not see and experience Jesus’ death and resurrection. Instead, we “confess.”

Confessing also requires two parts. In the Church, confessing first involves hearing something. “Faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the spoken word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). Second, confessing involves repeating what was heard, saying the same thing.


Lesson 12, Confessing


We should notice the language change in the New Testament as it speaks to those who did not witness Jesus’ death and resurrection. Instead of testifying, they confessed the Christian faith (1 Timothy 6:12), the Christian hope (Hebrews 10:23), and the Gospel (2 Corinthians 9:13). Notice that this idea of confessing is directed to those who had never seen Jesus. Such a situation remains true for us this day.

When we have faithfully received the content of the Christian Faith (religion), we can confess, that is, “say the same thing,” to another. That content, those words, bring to someone THE Word, Jesus Christ.


Read 1 Timothy 6:13

Here, Paul commands Timothy what he must be doing.

  • What did Jesus speak?


Matthew 27:11, Mark 15:2, Luke 23:3, and John 18:33-37: Jesus answered Pilate that He was “the King of the Jews,” revealing that He was the fulfillment of King David’s line, the prophesied Messiah (but of course, Pilate didn’t fully understand what that meant).

  • What did Jesus, not only confessing, but also testifying (that which He had seen) before Pontius Pilate reveal about Him? In other words, if Jesus could testify, not just confess, what God the Father had given him to say, what does that mean about Him?


  • What does that mean about the words that Jesus spoke?


Read John 12:44-50

  • If Jesus, being both God and man, confessed, what does show about how faithfully Timothy—and all pastors to follow—are to confess?


Read 1 Timothy 6:14

Paul now explicitly states what and how Timothy is to confess.

“the commandment”: Note the definite article “the.” This was not a command among many but “the commandment,” a singular. Paul also used a present-tense verb: Timothy’s keeping of “the commandment” is always to be a present-tense reality for him. Later in verse 20, Paul will command Timothy, also using a present-tense verb, a definite article, and a singular noun: “guard the deposit.”

Paul used a singular noun to show that all the doctrines and teachings that Jesus had given to His Apostles (Matthew 28:20) came as a package deal. No pastor, then, is authorized to change, delete, or consider any part of “the commandment,” “the deposit,” as unimportant. That’s what Paul meant by Timothy keeping “the commandment” “unstained and free from reproach.”

  • How long was Timothy’s keeping of “the commandment” to go on?


  • What does that mean about the responsibility (and authority) of pastors who would follow Timothy?


Read 1 Timothy 6:15-16

In these two verses, Paul waxes poetically (or in hymn-like fashion) about God and what is to come. Below is pastor’s translation.

…which He will reveal in His own time:

The blessed and only Ruler,

the King of kings and Lord of lords,

who alone has deathlessness,

living in unapproachable light,

whom no human has seen,

nor has the power to see,

to whom is honor and eternal dominion.

  • Who will reveal what “in His own time”?


  • What does that “time” refer to?


  • Discuss the implications of what will take place “in His own time” as related to “the commandment”?


  • That “He” will display Jesus at the proper time means what?


Matthew 24:36: Jesus speaking to His disciples: “No one knows when that day and hour will come—not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son—except the Father alone.” (Also see Mark 13:32)

“Ruler”: Greek, dunastas. This is the only place in the New Testament where dunastes refers to God. (Luke used it twice to refer to human rulers: Luke1:52 and Acts 8:27). Here, Paul goes back the Septuagint, to those books that we call the Apocrypha, to refer to God: 2 Maccabees 3:24, 5:3-5, 12:15; Sirach 16:11, (a Ruler who atones), 46:5. Thus, we know that the “Ruler” is God, without Paul explicitly stating so.[1]

“King of kings and Lord of lords”: The Old Testament used this expression to point to God’s superiority over every earthly ruler. Referring to God, Deuteronomy 10:17, Psalm 136:3, and Daniel 2:47uses the expression, “Lord of lords.” 2 Maccabees 13:4 uses “King of kings” to refer to God. Paul combines both uses from Scripture to affirm even more strongly the rule of God, especially made know on the Last Day.

“whom no human has seen”: Someone in his sinfulness cannot dwell the full holiness and righteousness of God (See Exodus 33:20, Job 37:24, Isaiah 6:5, Romans 3:19-20, and Hebrews 12:14). Jesus’ incarnation and His coming to us in Word and Sacrament for our salvation all testify to this truth. Paul further explains this reality by then saying that no human “has the power to see” God. A person does not have the power or ability to make Himself pure enough to be in God’s holy presence.

In Christ’s righteousness, the faithful in eternity will dwell the light of God (Revelation 22:5). But, right now, we can only see darkly and imperfectly (1 Corinthians 13:12).


A Final Warning for the Wealthy

Read 1 Timothy 6:17

Paul now commands Timothy (imperative verb) what to say to the wealthy.

  • What does Paul command concerning the wealthy not to be “in this present age”?


  • What does Paul, instead, command the wealthy to understand when it came to their wealth?


Read 1 Timothy 6:18-19

Paul does not command in these verses. If the wealthy understand that “God richly provides [them] with everything to enjoy,” then what he states in theses verse is the result of that understanding. 


Lesson 12, generous in sharing, grasping the real life


Paul’s Final Charge to Timothy

Read 1 Timothy 6:20-21

“guard”: Greek, phulasso, to guard or protect. This is also the word for holding someone in close custody. An imperative: Timothy must do this.

“the deposit”: Greek, parathaka, a deposit, something entrusted to another for safekeeping. Note the definite article—the deposit. The book of Jude describes this as “the faith that was delivered [“traditioned”] to the saints, once for all” (Jude 1:3). Timothy is to not lose any of “the deposit,” faithfully keeping, teaching, and preaching it all.

“irrelevant babble”: The ESV reverses the adjective and the noun. The adjective is bebalos, meaning “wordly, profane”. The noun is kenophonia, literally “empty phonics” or “empty sounds.” What Paul means is that the words of the world are not life-giving words; they are filled with emptiness and, thus, have no eternal salvation within them to give.

  • By laying claim to worldly, empty sounds, what had happened to some who were earlier grasping the faith?


Lesson 12, That Which Gives Life and That Which Takes It Away


Click here it you want to go to Lesson 1 of our study on 2 Timothy.


[1] Note: the Septuagint version of Job uses dunastas, but that usage is not in the Hebrew Masoretic Text: Job 13:15: “Even if the Ruler [MT: He] subdues me” and Job 36:22: “who is like the Ruler [MT: Him].”