Paul, Faith, Works, Obedience, Righteousness, and Matt1618 - 1st and 2nd Timothy

Paul, Faith, Works, Obedience,
Righteousness, and Salvation
1st and 2nd Timothy

By: Matt1618

I will examine some texts that speak of faith, works, obedience, and righteousness, and look at the salvific repercussions. I do not intend to examine all the texts that speak on these issues, but enough important texts to look at the implications.

1 Timothy 1:13-19
1 Timothy 2:15
1 Timothy 4:14-16
1 Timothy 6:10-12
1 Timothy 6:17-19
2 Timothy 1:13-15
2 Timothy 2:10-13
2 Timothy 2:15-21
Titus 2:11-14
Titus 3:1-7

1 Timothy 1:13-19

13 though I formerly blasphemed and persecuted and insulted him; but I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, 14 and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 15 The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. And I am the foremost of sinners; 16 but I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience for an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. 17 To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen. 18 This charge I commit to you, Timothy, my son, in accordance with the prophetic utterances which pointed to you, that inspired by them you may wage the good warfare, 19 holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting conscience, certain persons have made shipwreck of their faith, among them Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.

First we notice what grace is and does. Grace overflows in abundance for Paul as he notes that grace is love is intermixed with faith. Thus, grace is not merely divine favor, where he overlooks oneís sins, but is an active force that can overflow. Then Paul speaks of Jesus being King of Kings and God, a proof text that Jesus is God. After he says that, however, he urges Timothy to wage the good fight in faith (v. 18). He warns Timothy not to do the same thing that others have done. Timothy must hold fast to the faith and keep to a good conscience. Otherwise, if he rejects that conscience, Timothyís faith can be shipwrecked. He gives examples of those who had made shipwreck of their faith. He is warning Timothy to not fall into the example of those who have shipwrecked their faith. To those who argue that Paul is only using the examples of Hymanaeus to talk about unbelievers who rejected the faith, it must be noted that these examples are for Timothy. Timothy is obviously a believer, who is given the possibility of having his faith shipwrecked such as Hymanaeus. This is a direct parallel for Timothy who is urged to not have their faith shipwrecked. The way to not have it shipwrecked is to fight the faith and keep to his conscience. Thus, Timothyís salvation is dependent upon him holding the faith and keeping to his conscience. The fact that oneís salvation is dependent upon endurance (holding the faith) is shown elsewhere by Paul in his next letter to Timothy (2 Tim. 2:12) and the necessity of keeping to his conscience is shown in Paulís letter to the Romans (Rom. 2:13-16).

1 Timothy 2:15

Yet woman will be saved through bearing children, if she continues in faith and love and holiness, with modesty.

Even though the word Ďsavedí is used in this instance, in discussion of the issue of salvation, this verse is rarely if ever used. The reason why those who teach one must Ďdo somethhing in Godís graceí do not use this passage is because if one attempts to use it, it is easly deflected by saying, ďWell, all one has to do is have a child and that is how one is saved? That is ridiculous!!!. It must be something else.Ē Obviously as many ungodly women who will not inherit the kingdom of God also bear babies, it is easy to dismiss this passage as not having any salvific repercussions (despite the seemingly clear words of Paul). However, there is a presumption that is shown in this passage which must be taken into consideration which indeed shows that this passage does have real, salvific implication. I do not want to or intend to give an indepth explanation of the myriad of interpretations of this verse. However, on the face of it, this passage speaks to us clearly. Does Paul really mean that bearing children is salvific? In the culture of a Planned Parenthood influenced culture (and Christians who accept Birth Control who unknowingly buy into this idea), this does seem to be out of place. However, in the context of a Biblical outlook that treasures babes in the womb and women bearing them (Psalm 127:3, Psalm 139:13-16, Lk. 1:25), this passage makes sense. Having children is a gift of God, and working with God to bring back children (instead of taking contraception or abortificents, which were available to women back then, though obviously not to the same degree as now) is a grace. If one rejects a culture of death and gives life to a human being by bearing that child, that is indeed salvific. It is good, in and of itself to bear children.

What about the objection that, ĎAre you saying that unbelievers who bear children now are saved.? I say no. However, you will often note that those who actually bear children will often attempt to become closer to God and their whole outlook is often changed towards life in general. But the other point to be made is the surrounding context in the very verse. Paul writes that one will be saved, provided that she continues in (1)faith and (2) love and (3)holiness, with (4)modesty. Thus, it is taken for granted that this person is a believer. If one is an unbeliever, and stays as an unbeliever, the verse obviously doesnít apply. Paul gives four provisions as necessary for the person who bears children to have salvation:
1) She must have faith. All will acknowledge that faith is essential for salvation. Even those who believe in salvation by Ďfaith aloneí, will say that faith is essential. Passages abound elsewhere which show the necessity of faith.
2) She must love. As we have seen elsewhere if one has all the faith in the world but does not have love, it avails nothing (1 Cor. 13:2). When Paul speaks of the faith that justifies, it is only a faith that works through love (Gal. 5:6).
3) She must have holiness. Paul elsewhere writes that one can only see God if one pursue holiness (Heb. 12:14). Paul elsewhere says that one must put to death the deeds of the flesh in order to have life (Rom. 8:13). If one has self control, is in Godís grace, and has qualities of righteousness that person will inherit heaven as opposed to those who do not have self-control (Gal. 5:16-24).
4) She must be modest. Paul obviously is agreeing with Jesus who said that he who humbles himself will be exalted and he who exalts himself will be humbled. Also, she must not get into sexual sin as well, which can lead to damnation (1 Cor. 6:9, Gal. 5:19-21).
Thus, the rest of the passage which says in order to have one avail to salvation through childbearing, qualifies it by stating that the person must continue in these things that are salvific indeed. An unbeliever who bears children will not be helped by this verse because she does not continue in these things. However, as Paul speaks in the same verse of the woman bearing children as also needing to do other things that are salvific (and is consistent with what he writes elsewhere), this really does speak to the issue of salvation. These qualities are necessary for the salvation of man as well.

1 Timothy 4:14-16

14 Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophetic utterance when the council of elders laid their hands upon you. 15 Practice these duties, devote yourself to them, so that all may see your progress. 16 Take heed to yourself and to your teaching; hold to that, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.

Paul writes to Timothy of the importance of exercising the ministerial priesthood. Timothy was ordained to perform Godís work of ministering to his children. As a leader of the Church, Timothyís example is important to the believers under his care. Holding to doctrine, and teaching is important. What is the purpose of Timothy doing this? To save himself and his hearers. In other words Timothy, obvsiously under Godís grace and the special power of the Holy Spirit given at his ordination can save not only himself but others. It is obviously taken for granted that Timothy is within Godís grace and he has the Holy Spirit within him. Nonetheless the fact that Timothy is said to be able to save himself shows that what Timothy does can cause his own salvation!!!! Not only his own salvation but the salvation of others as well.

Within the phrase shows the importance of the content of doctrine as having salvific value. The idea that the only thing that you must do is ĎGet the doctrine about Jesus right and just believe in himí is shown to be false. Paul writes that holding to doctrine is salvific. All beliefs are doctrinal, so in Godís eyes, doctrinal content is essential, and salvific.

1 Timothy 6:10-12

10 For the love of money is the root of all evils; it is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced their hearts with many pangs. 11 But as for you, man of God, shun all this; aim at righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

Oneís attachment to money can unfortunately detach one from Christ. This is exactly what Christ spoke to when he spoke to the rich young ruler (Mt. 19:16-22). Paul writes that the craving of money can make one actually wander away from the faith. Paul tells Timothy to shun this love of money. Craving for money can displace our love for Christ which will have horrific eternal repercussions. How can Timothy not wander away but stay in his grace? Paul answers this question (v. 11) by pursuing faith love steadfastness and gentleness. In the passage earlier noted (1 Tim. 2:15) faith and love was seen as essential to maintain oneís salvtion. The partcular item that directly relates to the issue that Paul writes of (love of money making one wander away from the faith) is steadfastness. One must keep oneís focus on Christ, and the hope of salvation that is found in him. If one is in him, and rests in him, we will stay steadfast in the faith and in Christ, and not wander from the faith. Finally, we must take hold of eternal life. Eternal life must be grasped for and we must pursue the qualities so mentioned in v. 11. We must fight the good fight of faith in order to take hold of eternal life. Eternal life is not just granted to us automatically because of an imputed righteousness granted to our account. It is actually something that we must grab a hold of and strive for. With Godís grace we can do it. But this pursuit must be done, as emphasized by Paul here.

1 Timothy 6:17-19

17 As for the rich in this world, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on uncertain riches but on God who richly furnishes us with everything to enjoy. 18 They are to do good, to be rich in good deeds, liberal and generous, 19 thus laying up for themselves a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life which is life indeed.

Here Paul continues to mention the fact that those who are rich in material wealth can follow it as their own god (as mentioned in the verses just mentioned above)and separate themselves from God. Paul calls the rich to instead of focusing on material riches that can come and go, to focus on being rich in good deeds. By doing these good deeds one lays themself a good foundation for the future. For what purpose, according to Paul? So that they may take hold of life which is life indeed. Thus, doing these good deeds are causative. They are not merely demonstrative, though they are demonstrative. According to Paul, one can only take a hold of life itself if one does good deeds. This reflects Paul's teaching elsewhere (Gal. 6:9). See Jesus in Mt. 25:31-46.

2 1:13-15

13 Follow the pattern of the sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus; 14 guard the truth that has been entrusted to you by the Holy Spirit who dwells within us. 15 You are aware that all who are in Asia turned away from me, and among them Phy'gelus and Hermog'enes.

Paul writes that it is necessary to guard the truth that has been entrusted to one by the Holy Spirit. The words that are necessary to guide, by the help of the Holy Spirit are those that are spoken by Paul to Timothy. This shows oral tradition as binding. But what I want to focus on is the fact that Paul mentions the necessity of guarding this truth, and holding on to the truth by the power of the Holy Spirit. The purpose is to keep them in Godís grace. Paul is writing to Timothy, who is obviously a Christian. He then uses the examples of Phygelus and Hermogenes as those who Paul does not want Timothy to model. There is a very real possibility of by not guarding the truth, by falling into error. This reminds us of Paulís prior letter to Timothy where he said ďTake heed to yourself and to your teaching; hold to that, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.Ē It is obvious that Phygelus and Hermogenes were in the truth, but did not guard it and left their own salvation. They had the Holy Spirit beforehand (2:14) but did not guard it, and by falling into error fell out of their salvation (although of course as of the time of the letter we have no hint whether ultimately they did come back into the truth). Timothy is told to do otherwise, to hold fast to the teaching.

2 Timothy 2:10-13

10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain salvation in Christ Jesus with its eternal glory. 11 The saying is sure: If we have died with him, we shall also live with him; 12 if we endure, we shall also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; 13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful--for he cannot deny himself.

Here Paul speaks of the necessity of enduring with Christ. First of all, we must of course die to ourselves. This exactly reflects Christís teaching. What does Paul mean we must do to die to him? How do we die with him? According to Paul elsewhere, to die to him is baptism. Romans 6 elaborates: ď3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the sinful body might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin.Ē

As a believer, we must no longer be controlled by sin. Baptism and its graces have longlasting effects but we must cooperate with the grace Christ gave us. Paul in 2nd Timothy writes that we will reign with Christ provided we endure with him. Thus, if we do not endure with Christ we will not reign and will be out of his grace (v.12). Paul makes the point even further when he writes that if we deny him Christ will deny us. For those who argue that for saved people works only tell us how much crown we will receive in heaven Paul immediately repudiates. Those who are denied by Christ obviously will not be in his grace. This reflects Jesus words: Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels(Luke 9:26).

Then Paul writes about how God remains faithful to his own plan of salvation. Those who turn from him and deny him, God must reject out of his holiness. Jesus is the way to the Father, and when people turn away from that truth, God must stay truthful to his holiness and reject them. God is faithful to his own holiness. That is how Paul

2 Timothy 2:15-21

15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. 16 Avoid such godless chatter, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, 17 and their talk will eat its way like gangrene. Among them are Hymenae'us and Phile'tus, 18 who have swerved from the truth by holding that the resurrection is past already. They are upsetting the faith of some. 19 But God's firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: "The Lord knows those who are his," and, "Let every one who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity." 20 In a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and earthenware, and some for noble use, some for ignoble. 21 If any one purifies himself from what is ignoble, then he will be a vessel for noble use, consecrated and useful to the master of the house, ready for any good work.

One is Godís workmanship when he rightly handles the word of truth. The word that he is speaking of as of this point is the oral message. Many use this passage to make it speak of written Scripture but up to this point no written Scripture has been mentioned. Paul is speaking to Timothy, who he himself ordained (2 Tim. 1:6). To this point Paul has mentioned only the oral word that Paul spoke to him (2 Tim. 1:13-14, 2:1-2). Paul then writes that one must avoid vain disputes. Paul then warns that it is important that Timothy handles his responsibility of teaching, because godless chatter leads one away from Christ and to more and more ungodliness (v. 16). Paul then gives two examples of those who have swerved from the truth and fell into error, Philetus and Hymenaeus (2 Tim. vv. 16-17). Some believers thus can stray from the truth and fall into heresy and out of Godís favor. Godís firm foundation will stand. One who is to remain in Godís grace must depart from iniquity (v. 19). As iniquity is an everpresent danger, we must continually depart from it to remain in his grace.

Paul tells us that Godís firm foundation stands (v. 19). God however, works with his people so, that they can in cooperation with him, purify themselves from iniquity (v. 21). Thus, Godís sovereignty is not threatened by manís use of free will. Elsewhere we see that Paul mentions that the blood of Christ purifies us through the Spirit (Heb. 9:14). The blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin (on an ongoing basis, 1 John 1:7). Nevertheless, Paul shows us here that this cleansing is not an either/or proposition. It is not either we clean ourself, or Christís blood cleanses us. It is both. We purify ourselves. However, we can only purify ourself through the application of Christís cleansing blood. When we do this, we are available to do any good work (v. 21). (BTW, this cleansing ourselves to remain in Godís grace has a similar effect as the reading of Scripture, see 2 Tim. 3:16-17). This will equip us for every good work, just as Scripture does.

Titus 2:11-14

11 For the grace of God has appeared for the salvation of all men, 12 training us to renounce irreligion and worldly passions, and to live sober, upright, and godly lives in this world, 13 awaiting our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all iniquity and to purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds.

Paul in this passage tells us an aspect of grace that is overlooked by many. We know that he is speaking of grace and salvation when we see v. 11, which speaks of both grace and salvation. When I brought up this passage to James White, a top Calvinist proponent, he wrote, in part "Why do you make a moral section in Titus 2 THE "definition" of grace for Paul, rather than entire sections relating to grace and justification in Romans and Galatians?"
Well, I have spent lots of time on both Romans and Galatians on justification, (See my Salvation Page), but that does not give us the right to ignore what Paul writes here. He speaks of grace in the context of salvation. Therefore we must heed Paul's words. In this passage of Titus 2, grace trains us to renounce irreligion and worldly passions. The context is of course salvation. Living soberly, upright and godly lives is in the context of how one is saved (v. 12).

What is the purpose of of Jesus coming, according to Paul? To have a forensic imputation of righteousness so that we are automatically saved, and the things that we do are only fruits of salvation? After telling us that the grace that brings salvation makes us live soberly and righteous lives (vv. 12), Paul gives us God's purpose in sending his Son in v. 14: "who gave himself for us to redeem us from all iniquity and to purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds. " He keeps up the same theme of believers having the need to reject ungodly things in the context of salvation. The very purpose is sending us his Son is holiness being reflected in our lives. It is not an afterthought, but salvific. God's purpose is to purify us from all iniquity and for us to be zealous for doing good in the context of salvation (v. 11).. Yes, Mr. White is correct in saying that this has to do with the moral life. However, it is also in the context of salvation. In separating salvation from purity is to separate oneself from the meaning of Paul's clear words that intricately tie salvation to the pursuit of holiness, as a means of salvation.

Titus 3:1-7

1 Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for any honest work, 2 to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all men. 3 For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by men and hating one another; 4 but when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness, but in virtue of his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit, 6 which he poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that we might be justified by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life.

Paul continues on the theme of salvation. In the verses we just studied (Tit. 2:11-14) we saw that the purpose of sending his Son was to purify us from all iniquity, and our salvation was dependent upon our actual, ontological cleansing. Paul here continues the theme by showing how we get into God's grace. He reminds Titus (and us) that before Christ came into our lives we were slaves of sin. He first tells us to avoid quarreling, as that is the behavior of unbelievers, not that of those in his grace (vv. 2-3). We must behave in kindness to the unbelieving world, because outside of Christ's grace, we would be just like them, continuing to be in malice and envy and a slave to various passions.

Many on the Evangelical side will cite Tit. 3:5 as proof that faith alone suffices for our salvation.of faith alone, and our own holiness can never be any of the grounds of one's justification. Yes, in the first part of v. 5 Paul does write: "5 he saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness,." Paul then shows us something that as Catholics we must always remember: We don't work ourselves into God's kingdom. We are in his grace only because of God's kindness and mercy (v. 4). We never earn our way into heaven, even after being in his grace. Though works, as we have seen are important and are even a grounds of justification, it is never because God owes us (v. 5). It is only because God looks at our works through his eyes of grace do our works become meritorious. That is how Paul says we do not have salvation because of our works per se, but because God looks at us through his mercy. Outside of his grace, works merit nothing. Inside his grace, our works only merit something when he looks at us through his mercy. In and of itself, God owes us nothing.

Many on the Evangelical side will cite Tit. 3:5a as proof that our own holiness can never be any of the grounds of one's justification. However, this view ignores the rest of v. 5. Paul gives us the means of salvation in the second part of v. 5: "but in virtue of his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit. Notice the fact that the means of salvation is the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit. Thus, again, Paul directly ties our salvation to the renewal of the Holy Spirit. This cleansing is not an aftereffect of our salvation, but the means of it.

All the Church Fathers when speaking of this passage saw Titus 3:5 as speaking of baptism. The washing and renewal of the Holy Spirit as the means of salvation reminds us of the cleansing water of baptism as mentioned by Jesus in John 3:5. Nevertheless, even if all the Church Fathers were wrong (which they were not, and this clearly does speak of baptism, but for the sake of arguement)this still shows us that the Holy Spirit's real cleansing of us is a grounds of our salvation.

Paul continues to show (v.6) that the Holy Spirit has been poured out on us that makes this cleansing possible. We then become heirs of God. (This reminds us of justification being a Father-Son relationship. See my commentary on Rom. 8:14-17 & Gal. 4:4-9). This is done so we "might be justified by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life". Thus, even though our justification is a past event, it is done so that we might be justified. Justification is put in a future tense, and is a possibility, not a guarantee. We are justified in the hope of eternal life. Thus, we must run the race that Paul himself said he would run (1 Cor. 9:27). We must be renewed in Christ, and put to death the deeds of the flesh (Rom. 8:13, Gal. 5:16, 24) in order to reach the goal of salvation.

To go to the final letter of Paul to the Hebrews on salvation, obedience, works, and righteousness click here

To go back to the index Page of Paul on obedience, works, and righteousness click here

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Last modified January 5, 2000.