Wage the good warfare
This bible study is part of a series on the book of 1st Timothy, in order to see the full series please check out our “epistle” page or alternatively please check out our page dedicated to the book of 1st Timothy for other studies in this book.
When I set this blog up my intention was to explore the epistles and do the occasional bible study based on what I had studied and learned, what you are reading below is notes I have made. I have to confess that this bible study is basic in its content and is not prepared by a pastor and I have to admit I have no theological training; my hope in prayer is that someone will be blessed by the notes below.
Let’s start in verse eighteen of the first chapter of First Timothy.
18 This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, 19 holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, 20 among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.
These last three verses is an encouragement to Timothy, remembering Paul’s praise he charges Timothy to remain in Ephesus and Paul again uses the same word for “charge” that he did in verse three. One of a command to stay put as it were, and he addresses Timothy as “my child” it implies certain seniority, but also reminds us that Paul was like a spiritual father to him. Paul writes with love but at the same time writes with a guidance and advice that is similar to what a father would give to his son.
Paul cites prophecies made about Timothy, Paul and Timothy spend some real time together and people would have spoken about the plan that God had for Timothy’s life through words of encouragement and prophecy, what these words are I can only guess, however based on Paul’s writings they appear to be positive, (waging the good warfare) regardless Paul wanted Timothy to glean strength from those words.
Part one orders
Timothy was going to war for the Christ, it wasn’t always going to be easy, it wasn’t always going to be non-problematic, and he had to approach his mission in the same way a soldier takes his “Part one orders”. This put the responsibility back on Timothy to not desert his post; he is encouraged to “fight the good fight of faith”. (This thought is continued in chapter 6)
Every soldier has to have weapons for battle and Paul charges Timothy to use the weapons of “faith” and “good conscience” because Timothy, much like anyone who is service for God will be under intense spiritual attack.
Faith – He has to know that God had this, that God was in full control and was guiding his mission.
Good Conscience – He had to be of proper conduct, he would be under attack from those who sought to attack him. Both good conscience and good conduct go hand in hand, Paul was urging Timothy to be as pure in conduct as possible so those who sought to bring him down would have little argument about him.
Shipwrecking their faith
Paul advises that some are guilty of “rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith” and Paul had Timothy’s back and wanted to advise him against pitfalls that may befall a man of his youth. If he was to reject, it would be like a soldier who was to throw away his gun in favor of a feather duster, it may look nice but won’t be much use to him in the art of warfare.
Paul likens it to a shipwreck, something he had a lot of experience of! The shipwreck analogy tells us that because of what they had abandoned (faith and good conscience) would lead to a situation where they would lose everything, like a literal shipwreck. The everything they would lose is of course referring to their faith. The only way to resolve this would be to grab the life preserver that is Jesus Christ, to repent and to again “re-arm themselves” as soldiers of the faith.
Learn from the example of Hymenaeus and Alexander
Paul tells us of two people who did just that…
V20 “among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.
Paul mentions these two by name who have done just that. Alexander is only ever mentioned in this passage and nowhere else in Scripture, (but Hymenaeus is mentioned also in 2nd Timothy and again not i a positive light!) but we can be assured that they were known locally. Paul writes about them as if he had some dealings with them personally and had expelled them for their heretic practices. Paul shows great courage by naming those as an example to not follow and to steer clear from.
He states that they were “handed over to Satan” which tells me of the depths of their conduct, that they could not even be counselled in the community of believers. He handed them over to the world, a step not taken lightly and I am sure that Paul confronted them using a Matthew 18 standard for dealing with sin (Matthew 18:15-17) These people refused to listen so they were handed to the world.
Let us not be like Hymenaeus and Alexander!
Thank you again for finding this article and I pray these bible studies are a blessing. Please feel free to comment, like or share as the LORD leads you to.