Ver. 1. Of God, our Saviour. God the Father is here called our Saviour, as also to Titus, (iii. 4.) being author of our salvation, as are all the three divine persons. Wi.
--- As this letter was to be read to the faithful, it was proper that S. Paul should speak with dignity and authority; and, as in the course of it he reproves false apostles who taught from themselves, he reminds them at the beginning of his letter, that he himself had entered the sacred ministry, and was an apostle by the command of God. Calmet.
EPISTLE OF S. PAUL, THE APOSTLE,
S. Paul passing through Lycaonia, about the year 51, some of the brethren at Derbe or Lystra recommended to him a disciple, by name Timothy, who from his infancy had studied the Holy Scriptures. S. Paul took him, making him his companion and fellow-labourer in the gospel: and not to offend the Jews, who could not be ignorant that Timothy's father was a Gentile, he caused him to be circumcised. Afterwards he ordained him bishop of Ephesus. Wi.
--- S. Paul writes this epistle to his beloved Timothy, to instruct him in the duties of a bishop, both in respect to himself and to his charge; and that he ought to be well informed of the good morals of those on whom he was to impose hands: Impose not hands lightly upon any man. He tells him also how he should behave towards his clergy. This epistle was written about thirty-three years after our Lord's ascension; but where it was written is uncertain: the more general opinion is, that it was in Macedonia. Ch.
--- After his epistles to the Churches, now follow those to particular persons; to Timothy and Titus, who were bishops, and to Philemon. Timothy was the beloved disciple of S. Paul, whom he frequently styles his son; but it is not certain that they were at all related. After having accompanied the apostle in many of his travels, the latter at last ordained him bishop, and fixed him permanently at Ephesus. Shortly after he wrote him this epistle, to instruct him in the episcopal duties, as he was but young for those great functions. He might be then about thirty-five. He mentions, likewise, in short the chief heresies which were then making mischief at Ephesus, and gives regulations and instructions for different states of persons in the Church. S. Timothy, who had been so long the disciple of S. Paul, and who never left him except when ordered by his master, could not be ignorant of his duties, but it was destined for the use of bishops of every age. Hence S. Austin says that such as are destined to serve the Church, should have continually before their eyes the two epistles to Timothy and that to Titus.
Ver. 2. To Timothy, beloved son† in faith: not that S. Paul first converted him, but that by his instructions he was settled in the principles of faith and of the Christian religion. Wi.
[†] V. 2. Dilecto, gnhsiw teknw. Some MSS. agaphtw.
Ver. 3. Not to teach otherwise;† i.e. than what I taught them. Wi.
--- The distinctive mark of a heretic, is the teaching differently from that which they found generally taught and believed in the unity of the Catholic Church before their time. The Greek word admirably expresses this; eterodidaskalein. Had Luther and the other original reformers attended to this, the peace of the Church would not have been so disturbed.
[†] V. 3. Ne aliter docerent, mh eterodidaskalein, aliud docere.
Ver. 4. Nor to give heed to fables and endless genealogies,† or disputes about pedigrees from Abraham and David, which furnish questions rather than the edification of God, or godly edification.†† In some Greek MSS. is read, dispensation, or economy; and so the sense may be, which contribute nothing to the explaining the dispensation of grace in the mystery of Christ's incarnation. The construction of this and the former verse is imperfect, when it is said, as I desired thee, nothing being expressed corresponding to the word as. Some understand it, As I desired before, so now in this epistle I desire it of thee again. The same difficulty occurs in the Greek as in the Latin text. Wi.
--- The Jews were accustomed to dispute and make endless questions concerning their origin from Abraham, Isaac, and other patriarchs, and concerning their different tribes, which their captivity had confounded together. Hence there was no end of their questions, how, when, why? which gave rise to many fables, to the great disturbance of the faithful. Whereas, they ought to have taken the shortest way to edification, which was to confine themselves to what was of faith. S. Ambrose.
[†] V. 4. Interminatis, aperantoiV, infinitis, sine fine.
[††] Ibid. Ædificationem Dei, oikodouian Qeou; which, I think, might as well be translated, godly edification. Some few MSS. oikonomian.
Ver. 5. The end of the commandment. By the precept many understand, as it were by way of a parenthesis, all that is here contained from the 3rd to the 18th verse, where precept is again repeated. We may understand by the commandment, the law of Moses in general, comprehending both the ceremonial part and the moral precepts, which are also the law of nature. The ceremonial part was designed to bring us to Christ by types and figures; and the moral precepts, which were also of the law of nature, or natural reason, were to bring men to observe them by punishments, and so were delivered against wicked criminals, ungodly, who worshipped† not God; against the unjust,†† (in the Greek, lawless men) Sodomites, &c. Wi.
[†] V. 5. Impiis, asebesi, indevotis, non colentibus Deum.
[††] Ibid. Injustis, anomoiV, sine lege.
Ver. 8. The law is good. Do not think I condemn the law of Moses, or those who observe it; it is good, if properly understood and rightly practised. I only blame those who make the law an occasion of disturbance; who, without understanding, pretend to be masters, and teach idle curiosities. Theodoret.
Ver. 9. The law is not, &c. He means that the just man doth good, and avoideth evil, not as compelled by the law, and merely for fear of the punishment appointed for transgressors, but voluntarily, and for the love of God and virtue; and would do so, though there were no law. Ch.
--- If all men were just, the law would be unnecessary, as law are made against transgressors. Calmet.
--- It is not the just, but the unjust, that the law threatens, binds, and chastises. The just man obeys it without violence or constraint; he fulfils it with pleasure. S. Augus. lib. de Spiritu. &c.
Ver. 13. Because I did it ignorantly in unbelief, or in incredulity. Not that we can think it an invincible and altogether an inculpable ignorance, such as would have made S. Paul blameless in the sight of God. It was through his pure mercy that he called S. Paul, when his great sins and false zeal made him a greater object of the divine mercy: and God in him was pleased to make known to all men his wonderful patience, that no sinner might despair. The grace of God was superabounding, or exceedingly abundant in him. Wi.
Ver. 15. Christ Jesus, the true son of God, came into the world to save sinners, of whom (says S. Paul) I am the chief, the first, the greatest. Wi.
Ver. 18. This precept I commend to thee. Some understand it a precept of what follows, that he should wage a good warfare against the enemies of God and of his salvation. Others refer it to the precept mentioned before, v. 5, to wit, that Timothy should charge all the new converts not to give ear to new teachers.
--- Prophecies. He seems to mean some particular predictions made by some who had the gift of prophecies, and who foretold that he should be a great minister of God. Wi.
--- The apostle reminds his disciple that he did receive him in the number of his disciples, and ordained him a ruler of the Church, in consequence of a prophecy; that is, a particular inspiration and revelation of the divine will. S. Chrysostom.
Ver. 19. An evil life is not unfrequently the leading principle of defection from the faith. The heart, not the mind, is generally the first corrupted.
Ver. 20. I have delivered to Satan; whom I have excommunicated, that they may learn not to blaspheme, or speak against the truth of the faith. Theophylact.
--- The devil frequently, at that time, took possession of, or afflicted the excommunicated with diseases and other temporal evils. S. Chrysostom.