Verse 21. "Which some professing" - Which inspired knowledge some pretending to, have set up Levitical rites in opposition to the great Christian sacrifice, and consequently have erred concerning the faith - have completely mistaken the whole design of the Gospel. See chap. i. 6, 7.
Grace be with thee.] May the favour and influence of God be with thee, and preserve thee from these and all other errors! Amen.] This word, as in former cases, is wanting in the most ancient MSS.
In a majority of cases it appears to have been added by different transcribers nearly in the same way in which we add the word FINIS, simply to indicate the end of the work.
The subscriptions as usual are various. The following are the most remarkable afforded by the MSS.:-
The first to Timothy is completed; the second to Timothy begins.
The First Epistle to Timothy is completed; the second to him begins.
- G. The first to Timothy, written from Laodicea.
- A. The first to Timothy, written from Ladikia.
- CLAROMONT. Written from Laodicea, which is the metropolis of Phrygia.
- The first to Timothy, written from Laodicea, which is the metropolis of Phrygia of Pacatiana.
- Common GREEK TEXT, and several MSS. Instead of Pacatiana, some have Pancatiana, Capatiana, and Paracatiana.
The VERSIONS are not less discordant:-
The First Epistle to Timothy, which, was written from Laodicea.
The VULGATE has no subscription.
The end of the epistle. It was written from Laodicea, which is the metropolis of the cities of Phrygia.
To the man Timothy.
The First Epistle to Timothy, written from Athens.
- ARABIC of Erpenius.
Written from Athens, and sent by Titus, his disciple.
Written from Macedonia.
- AUCTOR SYNOPS.
The First Epistle to Timothy is ended. It was written from Laodicea, the metropolis of Phrygia of Pacatiana.
- PHILOXENIAN SYRIAC.
There is one authority in Griesbach, Mt. c., for its being written from NICOPOLIS. This is the opinion also of Dr. Macknight.
That the epistle was not written from Laodicea nor Athens, but from Macedonia, has been rendered probable by the arguments produced in the preface, to which the reader is referred for this and the date of the epistle itself.
IN reviewing the whole of this epistle, I cannot help considering it of the first consequence to the Church of God. In it we see more clearly than elsewhere what the ministers of the Gospel should be, and what is the character of the true Church. Bishops, presbyters, and deacons are particularly described; and their qualifications so circumstantially detailed, that it is impossible to be ignorant on this head. What the Church should be is also particularly stated; it is the house of the living God; the place where he lives, works, and manifests himself. The doctrines and discipline of the Church are not less specifically noted. All these subjects are considered at large in the notes, and here nothing need be added.
Should it be said, the apostle, in giving the qualifications of a bishop, "nowhere insists on human learning," it may be answered in general, that no ignorant person in those times could have possibly got admittance into the Church as a teacher of Christianity. Every person, acknowledged as a teacher, was himself well taught in the word of God, and well taught by the Spirit of God; and much teaching of the Divine Spirit was then necessary, as the New Testament Scriptures were not then completed; and, if we were to allow the earlier date of this epistle, scarcely any part of the New Testament had then been written. The gospels had not come as yet into general circulation; and only a few of St. Paul's epistles, viz. those to the Thessalonians, and that to the Galatians, and the first to the Corinthians, had been written before the year 56. At such times much must have been done by immediate revelations, and a frequent communication of miraculous powers.
It is natural for men to run into extremes; and there is no subject on which they have run into wider extremes than that of the necessity of human learning; for in order to a proper understanding of the sacred Scriptures, on one hand, all learning has been cried down, and the necessity of the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, as the sole interpreter, strongly and vehemently argued. On the other, all inspiration has been set aside, the possibility of it questioned, and all pretensions to it ridiculed in a way savouring little of Christian charity or reverence for God. That there is a middle way from which these extremes are equally distant, every candid man who believes the Bible must allow. That there is an inspiration of the Spirit which every conscientious Christian may claim, and without which no man can be a Christian, is sufficiently established by innumerable scriptures, and by the uninterrupted and universal testimony of the Church of God; this has been frequently proved in the preceding notes. If any one, professing to be a preacher of the Gospel of Jesus, denies, speaks, or writes against this, he only gives awful proof to the Christian Church how utterly unqualified he is for his sacred function. He is not sent by God, and therefore he shall not profit the people at all. With such, human learning is all in all; it is to be a substitute for the unction of Christ, and the grace and influences of the Holy Spirit.
But while we flee from such sentiments, as from the influence of a pestilential vapour, shall we join with those who decry learning and science, absolutely denying them to be of any service in the work of the ministry, and often going so far as to assert that they are dangerous and subversive of the truly Christian temper and spirit, engendering little besides pride, self-sufficiency, and intolerance? That there have been pretenders to learning, proud and intolerant, we have too many proofs of the fact to doubt it; and that there have been pretenders to Divine inspiration, not less so, we have also many facts to prove. But such are only pretenders; for a truly learned man is ever humble and complacent, and one who is under the influence of the Divine Spirit is ever meek, gentle, and easy to be entreated. The proud and the insolent are neither Christians nor scholars. Both religion and learning disclaim them, as being a disgrace to both.
But what is that learning which may be a useful handmaid to religion in the ministry of the Gospel? Perhaps we may find an answer to this important question in one of the qualifications which the apostle requires in a Christian minister, chap. iii. 2: He should be apt to teach - capable of teaching others. See the note. Now, if he be capable of teaching others, he must be well instructed himself; and in order to this he will need all the learning that, in the course of the Divine providence, he is able to acquire.
But it is not the ability merely to interpret a few Greek and Latin authors that can constitute a man a scholar, or qualify him to teach the Gospel.
Thousands have this knowledge who are neither wise unto salvation themselves, nor capable of leading those who are astray into the path of life. Learning is a word of extensive import; it signifies knowledge and experience; the knowledge of God and of nature in general, and of man in particular; of man in all his relations and connections; his history in all the periods of his being, and in all the places of his existence; the means used by Divine providence for his support; the manner in which he has been led to employ the powers and faculties assigned to him by his Maker; and the various dispensations of grace and mercy by which he has been favoured.
To acquire this knowledge, an acquaintance with some languages, which have long ceased to be vernacular, is often not only highly expedient, but in some cases indispensably necessary. But how few of those who pretend most to learning, and who have spent both much time and much money in seats of literature in order to obtain it, have got this knowledge! All that many of them have gained is merely the means of acquiring it; with this they become satisfied, and most ignorantly call it learning. These resemble persons who carry large unlighted tapers in their hand, and boast how well qualified they are to give light to them who sit in darkness, while they neither emit light nor heat, and are incapable of kindling the taper they hold. Learning, in one proper sense of the word, is the means of acquiring knowledge; but multitudes who have the means seem utterly unacquainted with their use, and live and die in a learned ignorance. Human learning, properly applied and sanctified by the Divine Spirit, is of inconceivable benefit to a Christian minister in teaching and defending the truth of God.
No man possessed more of it in his day than St. Paul, and no man better knew its use. In this, as well as in many other excellences, he is a most worthy pattern to all the preachers of the Gospel. By learning a man may acquire knowledge; by knowledge reduced to practice, experience; and from knowledge and experience wisdom is derived. The learning that is got from books or the study of languages is of little use to any man, and is of no estimation, unless practically applied to the purposes of life. He whose learning and knowledge have enabled him to do good among men, and who lives to promote the glory of God and the welfare of his fellow creatures, can alone, of all the literati, expect to hear in the great day: Well done, good and faithful servant! Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.
How necessary learning is at present to interpret the sacred writings, any man may see who reads with attention; but none can be so fully convinced of this as he who undertakes to write a comment on the Bible. Those who despise helps of this kind are to be pitied. Without them they may, it is true, understand enough for the mere salvation of their souls; and yet even much of this they owe, under God, to the teaching of experienced men.
After all, it is not a knowledge of Latin and Greek merely that can enable any man to understand the Scriptures, or interpret them to others; if the Spirit of God take not away the veil of ignorance from the heart, and enlighten and quicken the soul with his all-pervading energy, all the learning under heaven will not make a man wise unto salvation.
Finished correcting for a new edition, Dec. 22d, 1831.