1 Timothy
by Francis Foulkes ©


Principal of the C.M.S. Federal Training Centre, Melbourne, Australia, and formerly Principal of the Vining Christian Leadership Centre, Akure, Nigeria


First edition March 1971
ISBN O 85352 306 1
The Bible text and all biblical quotations used in this publication, unless otherwise stated, are from the Revised Standard Version, copyrighted 1946 and 1952, by the Division of Christian Education, National Council of the Churches of' Christ in the U.S.A.


The purpose of these studies is a simple one. It is hoped that they will help those who read them to understand and apply to their lives more of the great riches of wisdom and knowledge that the Scriptures contain. Such short studies cannot hope to convey every detail of each verse. They make an attempt to consider the main points of teaching in a passage. Where there are things difficult to understand, the Notes at the bottom of the sections try to deal with them a little more fully. The purpose is not just that these studies should feed the mind with the knowledge of Scripture and its teaching. Each study ends with prayer, because the reading of the Bible should always lead us to the response of repentance and faith and obedience, and we express this first in prayer and then in action in our daily lives. So that they may be used as daily readings, if so desired, the book has been divided into passages that are not too long for daily study and meditation. For those who, as students of the Word, want to go deeper and to compare scripture with scripture, the suggestions for further study are added.

The Revised Standard Version has been used because of the greater simplicity of its English, and because of the increasing use of this version in places where this book may be read.


This letter presents to us the picture of a young man called to the service of Christ, and facing great difficulties in that service. He had to be God's man, God's representative, in the world in which he lived, among his fellow Christians, and in every aspect of his personal behaviour.

Like the apostle Paul himself (1:12-16), he was entrusted with the good news of Jesus Christ. He had that good news to preach, and the glorious truths of Christ to teach to others. But he was surrounded by the influences of non-Christian thinking and non-Christian beliefs, and there were those even inside the church who were giving wrong teaching, or who were emphasizing things that did not really matter at all. There were also those who thought of rules and regulations as being more important than the gospel (1:3-7). Timothy for years now had been 'nourished on the words of the faith', and had followed 'the good doctrine' (4:6). He had to make sure that he kept the faith, taught the faith, and warned others not to depart from it. He had to be God's man, with God's word for the world.

Timothy's work was to continue what the apostle had done before him (1:3). Not only did he have to preach the gospel to the world; he had also to strengthen and help those who had become Christians. He had to be wise in all his dealings with every section of the Christian fellowship; towards men and women, young and old, he had to act as God's man (5:1, 2). He had to advise concerning the choice of ministers (3:1-13), concerning the care of the poor and especially of widows (5:3-16), concerning how slaves should behave (6:1-2). He needed to know how to deal with accusations made against those in responsible positions in the Christian fellowship (5:19, 20).

Prayer needed to be a priority in his life (2:1), and in the lives of all Christian people, prayer for all men, prayer especially for leaders and rulers (2:1-4). Then he also had to give special advice concerning the conduct of public prayer, the place of men and of women in leadership, and the way that both should conduct themselves when they met together for worship (2:8-15). Both preaching and teaching were Timothy's responsibilities, and he had to use all the gifts that God had given him for these (4:13, 14); but just as important was his own living as an 'example'' to others (4:12); his living as a man of God, faithfully persevering and constantly making progress in the Christian life (4:15, 16). The letter is full of exhortations about these things. He, like all the other Christians around him, was living in a non-Christian world, and its standards and aims pressed hard on him to influence him. He, and those around him, faced the temptation to love money, to desire the favour of men, to get for himself rather than to give of himself (6:3-10). 'Man of God', he was commanded, 'shun all this; aim at righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness' (6:11). He had to hold fast to the truth - in teaching and in living - but to do so in a loving way. Paul urged this on Timothy at the beginning of the letter - the one thing that matters supremely is love, 'love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and sincere faith' (1:5). The whole letter is a call to the young Timothy to live as a man of God, to live a God-centred life, in faith and love and truth.

This letter does not contain great passages that teach the glory of Christ, expounding God's plan of salvation in the way that Romans and Galatians, Ephesians and Colossians do. It does not show us how a young church faced its problems, as 1 Corinthians does. But perhaps more than any other letter of the New Testament, it gives practical advice and counsel for a young man or woman trying to live in the world and among his fellow Christians as a 'man of God'. The age in which we live is very different from Timothy's, but many of the tasks and temptations and problems are not very different. Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit we can find much in this letter to teach us, and to stir us up to live as men and women of God.


We praise Thee, Lord, for Thy Word given to as in this letter. Give us also, we pray, the gift of Thy Holy Spirit, that we may truly understand and carefully apply His Word to ourselves; above all we ask that all we learn by Thy grace, we may obey and live out by Thy power, and so live in the world as men and women of God, and servants of Jesus Christ our Saviour. amen.


  1. Preface
  2. To Timothy

  3. Studies:
  4. 1:1,2 An apostle to his son
  5. 1:3-7 Teaching - good, bad and indifferent
  6. 1:8-11 The law and the gospel
  7. 1:12-14 God's goodness to a persecutor
  8. 1:15-17 God's grace offered to all
  9. 1:18-20 A safe passage - or shipwreck
  10. 2:1-4 Put prayer first
  11. 2:5-7 The way to God
  12. 2:8-10 Men and women in the service of Christ
  13. 2:11-15 Men and women in the purpose of God
  14. 3:1-7 The life of a Christian leader
  15. 3:8-13 Christ's ministers
  16. 3:14-16 Basic truth and basic Christian living
  17. 4:1-5 Attacks of the false on the true
  18. 4:6-11 A good servant of Jesus Christ
  19. 4:12-16 Priorities in the work of a servant of Christ
  20. 5:1-8 Attitudes towards people
  21. 5:9-16 Widows on the roll
  22. 5:17-21 Instructions concerning elders
  23. 5:22-25 The choice of men for God's work
  24. 6:1, 2 Servants of men
  25. 6:3-10 Love of money or love of God
  26. 6:11-16 The highest aims
  27. 6:17-19 True and false riches
  28. 6:20-21 Last words
  29. Appendix


The following more detailed commentaries on 1 Timothy are recommended:

W. Barclay, The, Daily Study Bible: The Letters to Timothy, Titus and Philemon (St. Andrew Press)
D. Guthrie, The Pastoral Epistles (Tyndale New Testament Commentary, Tyndale Press)
W. Hendriksen, Commentary on I and II Timothy and Titus (Banner of Truth)
J. N. D. Kelly, The Pastoral Epistles (A. and C. Black)