1Timothy 1:17 Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Paul has just finished recounting his past and the mercy and grace that was bestowed upon him. Notice his view of God because of it – complete reverence and praise. Paul specifically calls out 4 attributes of God because of his ‘conversion.’
Not only is God eternal, but is King. For a King, there has to be a kingdom. God’s creation is His kingdom. 1Chronicles 29:11 Thine, O LORD, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all. Some have argued that Christ operates as King for Israel, but as Head for the Body of Christ. However, 1Chronicles 29:11 seems to suggest that God is head above all, in both realms of His creation. So, Israel would have a Head, and as it turns out, the Body of Christ has a King – Colossians 1:13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son. Paul shows God as King, but not just King, but the King eternal – the ever-existing preeminent One over His creation.
Paul also calls out God’s immortality and invisibility. To be immortal is to not be subject to decay. But, isn’t it odd that Paul mentions His invisibility? Perhaps not – I think Paul is showing us that even though (right now) we can’t see God, the reality of who He is never fails. And, it is by this that Paul calls God wise. Was Paul trying to give God a compliment or was Paul simply expressing what is true? It is the latter – simply recognizing what is true. Note Paul’s words to the Romans – Romans 11:33 O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!
1Timothy 1:18 This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare
After Paul took a quick side trip to speak of his past and now his present, he redirects Timothy’s attention back to verse 3 that Timothy was to teach no other doctrine, save the glorious gospel of the blessed God. This charge was according to the prophecies that were before committed upon Timothy. One thing that is worth pointing out is that ‘prophecy’ isn’t solely synonymous with ‘telling the future'; and ‘prophets’ are not solely synonymous with ‘those who tell the future.’
To prophesy is nothing more than the act of proclamation. The content of that proclamation is what determines the nature of the prophecy. Similarly, a prophet is simply the one doing the proclaiming. Now, I recognize that there are true prophets and false prophets, but I’m simply recognizing the basic meaning of the word. To that end, it would do us good to consider what Paul is speaking about here. These would be true prophecies spoken by true prophets. Is Paul referring to the Old Testament prophets like Isaiah or Ezekiel? Or, is Paul referring to folks like he and Silas? Later in the letter, we will get to chapter 4, but Paul makes mention of the prophecy (proclamation) that put Timothy into the ministry.
1Timothy 4:14 Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.
Timothy took Paul as his own son in the faith and did so in the company of prophets, like Silas.
Acts 15:32 And Judas and Silas, being prophets also themselves, exhorted the brethren with many words, and confirmed them.
The same charge of the glorious gospel that was committed unto Paul and Silas was conferred also upon Timothy. And, by this declaration, Timothy may war a good warfare. The word ‘good’ here comes from a word that carries the idea of purity and beauty in character; honorable. What is the honorable war that Paul desired Timothy to fight? Oddly enough, Paul is often likening Timothy’s work in the ministry as a soldier in a fight. But, the fight isn’t with Timothy’s behavior (as religion would encourage), but with Timothy’s mind and purpose.
2Timothy 2:3 Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
2Timothy 2:4 No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.
Timothy is able to fight an honorable fight when his efforts are focused on the real issue – the glorious gospel of the blessed God. Not only will Timothy have to combat the legalists who are subverting the hearers concerning the truths of grace and righteousness, but also against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Ephesians 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
We may look upon wickedness with eyes of relativism, but spiritual wickedness is any teaching that is contrary to the sound doctrines that Paul committed unto Timothy’s trust. A good warfare is essentially that – the defense of sound doctrine. That is honorable.