A Pauline Doxology – 1 Timothy 1:17-18

by Pastor Ricky Kurth

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Speaking of how he was the “chief” of sinners and how Christ came to save sinners (1:15,16) causes Paul to break into a doxology, an ejaculation of praise to God. Since he’s been talking about Christ, “the king” must be the Lord Jesus. Some grace believers think He is only Israel’s king since He was born “King of the Jews” (Mt.2:2). They reason that Israel was a kingdom (ISam.24:20) and kingdoms need kings, but we’re the body of Christ, and bodies need a head (Col.1:18).

It’s true there are some dispensational differences. A kingdom has to be governed by laws so God gave Israel a law that said to feed the hungry (Deut.15:8). But your head feeds your stomach because bodies are governed by love and you love your stomach (Eph.5:29). Kingdoms have laws that say don’t steal or kill so God gave Israel a law that said that, but we don’t steal or kill one another because we love one another (Ro.13:9,10; Gal.5:13). But if the mayor of the kingdom of Chicago announced there’d be no more laws, that everyone should just love one another, it wouldn’t work, it only works in bodies.

But we are part of the overall kingdom of the saved of all ages (Col.1:13). Christ sits on the throne of His holiness (Ps.47:8) till the 2nd coming (ITim.6:14,15). Meantime, if He’s your King, think maybe you should obey Him?

Like God the Father, God the Son is also “eternal” (1:17 cf. Micah 5:2; Heb.1:8-12). Christ is also “immortal,” (1:17), incapable of dying. We’ll put on immortality at the Rapture (ICor.15:53). That means we won’t be able to sin any more, for the wages of sin is death (Rom.6:23), something that must be deduced since no verses say this.

Christ was clearly visible when He was here on earth, but is now “invisible,” and not just because He’s gone. He dwells in the light of glory so bright He can’t be seen (ITim.6:16). That doesn’t mean we won’t be able to see Him in heaven. It’s just like Exodus 33:20 says no one can see God and live. You can see the glorified Christ, but you’d have to die — but we’ll be made immortal once we get to heaven!

Christ is “only wise” (1:17cf.Jude1:25) but not compared to the Father (Rom.16:27), only compared to false gods and men. In offering Christ “honour and glory” he is coming full circle back to what prompted this doxology, for He is worthy of honor and glory because He was slain (Rev.5:12), and Paul began this doxology based on this.

The “charge” (1:18) Paul speaks of is the one he gave Timothy in verses 3,4 to “charge” some to teach no other doctrine than Pauline doctrine. Since he gave him this charge according to some “prophecies” (v.18) we know the gift of prophecy hadn’t faded yet as God said it would when the Bible was complete (ICor.13:8-10). Prophecies like when Jacob predicted Judah would beat his enemies in the last days (Gen.49:1-16). Similarly, prophets predicted Timothy would be a leader of men, so Paul charged him to be one “according” to those prophecies (1:18). This suggests God saw something in that mamma’s boy that others didn’t, just as He saw in David. Even David’s father didn’t think he had it in him to be king (ISam.16:1-13). But God did, and saw something in Timothy and prophesied of it, to get Paul to charge him, and to get Timothy to respond as one of the sons of Judah did knowing what was prophesied of him (IISam.22:41). Timothy perhaps didn’t see anything in himself, but hearing these prophecies at his ordination, he manned up again and agreed with them (ITim.6:12).

We’re living in the time of the mystery and there are no prophecies of us, but we can draw courage from the “confidence” Paul had in even the Corinthians to war a good warfare (IICor.7:16; 10:3-5). Paul is confident that we’ll do more than he says (cf. Philemon 1:21). Just remember, we’re not at war with the unsaved who need the gospel, or with our brethren who teach error, we’re at war with the spirits behind them (Eph.6:11,12). How do we “war a good warfare” (ITim.1:18)? By remembering our weapons are not “carnal” (IICor.10:4), like belittling and ridiculing others. You war a good warfare by “speaking the truth in love” (Eph.4:15).