James Nisbet Commentary - 1 Timothy 1:11 - 1:11

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James Nisbet Commentary - 1 Timothy 1:11 - 1:11

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This Chapter Verse Commentaries:


‘The glorious gospel (the gospel of the glory R.V.) of the blessed God.’


There were those in Ephesus who contended that the freedom of the gospel released them from the obligations of the moral law. St. Paul, who was called to Europe, besought Timothy to abide still in Asia Minor, and convince them that the very design of the gospel was charity out of a pure heart and a good conscience and faith unfeigned. So far from the moral law being abolished by the gospel of our salvation, every claim of holiness, on which that law insists, is, the Apostle argues, in truest harmony and accordance with ‘the gospel of the glory of the Blessed God which,’ in deepest gratitude and reverence he adds, ‘was committed to my trust.’

I. ‘The Blessed God.—This remarkable name of the Triune Jehovah, Whose we are, and Whom we serve, ‘the Blessed God,’ demands our thoughtful and prayerful meditation. The word ‘blessed’ does not primarily signify here one who receives praise and blessing, but bears its ordinary meaning of happy, felicitous, blissful. The reception of praise and adoration must, we may humbly conceive, form part of the blessedness of God, and speaking after the manner of men may be said to increase that blessedness. But the term in itself simply signifies happy. This appears from its use elsewhere in the New Testament. It occurs fifty times; but here only, and in the fifteenth verse of the sixth chapter of this Epistle, where we read of the Blessed and only Potentate, is the word used of God. In all the other forty-eight instances it describes the blessed or happy man, as in the nine beatitudes of the Sermon on the Mount, or in the seven beatitudes of the Book of Revelation. This usage suffices to establish its meaning here. The Blessed God signifies God Who enjoys supreme felicity and infinite delight. We cannot, indeed, grasp or even gaze upon this full-orbed glory of the joy of God. It dazzles us. It is the light that no man can approach unto. But we may reverently ponder it fragment by fragment, we may humbly trace a broken reflection of it in ourselves; and then, for we are made in the image and after the likeness of God, we must confess it has the witness in itself, it is self evidencing; yea, it is a divine necessity.

II. The gospel of the glory of the Blessed God.—The Apostle speaks not only of the gospel of the Blessed God, but of the gospel of the glory of the Blessed God. This is more, far more. Glory is the manifestation of excellence. We may take this as a safe key for interpreting the word ‘glory’ in the Scriptures. The felicity of the Most High God being as we have seen so exceeding great, this excellent joy must needs overthrow. We see it in the firmament of His power; the heavens declare the glory of God. We see it in the earth below: the earth is full of the goodness of the Lord. Nor do we marvel that when He created the heavens and the earth, the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy. Brief, indeed, was that cloudless dawn of the history of man. Sin entered into the world, and death by sin. The land was as the Garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness. And now a thick cloud was drawn between the creature and his grieved and offended Creator. But should darkness conquer light? Should hell baffle heaven? Should the wiles of the Devil thwart the designs of God? Nay, we quietly read over to ourselves, weighing every syllable, for the destiny of the creation is wrapped up in them, the words of the beloved disciple who had drunk the deepest into the spirit of his Master. ‘For this purpose the Son of God was manifested that He might destroy the works of the devil.’ And the gospel of the glory of the Blessed God is unveiled before us in its large and luminous outlines.

(a) Once grasp the exceeding preciousness and perfectness of this salvation of God, and you will not wonder that St. Paul elsewhere writes, ‘Though we or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed’ (Gal_1:8).

(b) Let us remember that the gospel of the glory of the Blessed God is too majestical a thing to be loaded with chains forged on any human anvil. It spurns the littleness of partizanship.

For the love of God is broader

Than the measures of man’s mind.

Nay, this gospel has vivified and is vivifying, has fructified and is fructifying, many other churches of Christendom beyond our own. It is the gift of God to man. It is heaven-born, and free as the air we breathe. Their sin, who would narrow it, is only less than theirs who would deprave it.

Bishop E. H. Bickersteth.


‘The gospel declares itself to be God’s greatest answer to man’s greatest want. The gospel does not profess to be one answer among many. It claims to be the one answer which God makes to the problem of sin, and the agony of sorrow. The gospel does not speak with hesitating, diffident tone. It does not put itself in an excusatory attitude. It does not ask to be heard on sufferance, and to be judged by some modified law of criticism. It stands clear out in the daylight. It says, in personal language, “If any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink.” ’



Why was it that St. Paul, who did more than any other man that ever lived to make known this gospel in the world—why did he call it a glorious gospel? There were many reasons.

I. Because of its antiquity.—He looked down through the long vista of the ages past, and he saw how this gospel of the Blessed God was in the mind of God from everlasting.

II. Because it was unchanging.—Everything else about us changes. Feelings are transitory, even creeds are sometimes tampered with, doctrines are altered, the standard of morality shifts according to the requirements of the age, but the life of Jesus is the same, unchangeable.

III. Because of the triumphs it had already won in the world, in the Church, in the hearts of men, Jew, and Gentile, and Christian. Look at the little band of men as they go forth upon what appears a forlorn hope. Their banner is the Cross, their battle-cry is the glorious gospel. But wherever they go hard hearts are softened, and consciences are pricked, and idols totter and fall, and even imperial Rome is forced to acknowledge the power of the glorious gospel.

IV. Because he knew by his own experience that the gospel of the Blessed God tells men just what they need to know. It is in this respect that the religion of Christ stands head and shoulders above any other religion that the world has ever seen.

Bishop C. J. Ridgeway.



‘The glorious gospel of the blessed God,’ or, as the words might be more happily translated, ‘the glorious gospel of the happy God.’ It is in that word ‘happy’ that I find my message.

But the thought will come: It is all very well for you to talk about a happy God, it is all very well for God to be happy. God is above the water-floods, but I am down here in the waves. Ah, but is that all? God could not bear to see man unhappy down under the clouds here, and so in the Incarnation the happy God comes down and is made Man, and comes to make man happy, comes down to mend what man has marred. That is the glorious gospel of the happy God.

I will be daringly simple, and will give three short rules—

I. Be happy.—It is God-like to be happy. It is as much a duty (and a far more difficult one) to be happy as it is to be honest; be happy as to your past, do not let the past take the heart out of you. Then your future; open the back numbers of life and read the happy pages that are in that. Brood on the bright bits of the past. If you cannot be happy, flooded with the sunshine that comes from innocence, then be happy with the brightness that comes from the life of penitence. Be happy in the present; that is the great difference between Christianity and all other religions. It promises man a present happiness. Any religion, every religion, can promise a future happiness, but union with the happy God promises a man happiness here, now, to-day.

II. Look happy.—Expressions convey impressions. Jesus called a little child unto Him. Would that little child have gone if Jesus had looked unhappy? You know nothing about children if you think that it would. Look happy. Why is the religious person caricatured as always looking unhappy? why must we go about looking as though our religion was always making us feel unwell. Look what you are, in union with the happy God.

III. Try to make others happy.—Negatively, do not spoil the happiness of another person’s life. A man has no right to spoil the happiness of a woman’s life; a woman has no right to spoil the happiness of a man’s life. A big boy has no right to spoil the happiness of a little boy’s life. Positively, put your shoulder under another’s cross, give it a lift. Begin at home. Contribute your quota of happiness to home life, to the life of the country, to the life of the empire, and so to the life of the world.

Rev. Canon Holmes.


‘A nation looks at life very much as a nation looks at God. Ask history if it is not true. Think of Germany, for instance, in the sixteenth century. Look at France in the eighteenth century. Look at England, the empire, as it is to-day. Is the Englishman’s conception of God the Pauline conception? What is the Englishman’s God? Is that a happy God? Is it not a God that is studiously kept outside the life that all are craving for, that all are longing for—happiness? Is the gospel of England to-day the glorious gospel of the happy God? I do not believe it is; and therefore, because men’s conception of God is not God as a happy God, the Englishman’s conception of the religious life in England is not a conception that makes men happy.’


‘The gospel … which was committed to my trust.’


The gospel of the glory of the Blessed God, says St. Paul, was committed to my trust. Nothing moved the Apostle more deeply than this. Whenever he alludes to it, it seems to bring him to the very dust. It is in connection with this he speaks of himself as the least of the Apostles; and a few years later, with deepening humility, as less than the least of all saints; and later still, not long before he finished his course, as the chief of sinners.

I. You admit this in the great Apostle of the Gentiles.—But you say he was a chosen vessel, unlike every other. You admire, and justly, his manifold education for the work he was called to fulfil. You point to the fact that he was an Hebrew of the Hebrews and yet a Roman citizen of Tarsus, to the culture of his learning, to the religiousness of his Pharisaic youth, to the fiery zeal of his manhood, and when it pleased God to reveal His Son in Him to the overmastering love of Christ, which made him count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus his Lord if only he might finish his course with joy. Then you urge that St. Paul was clothed, like Israel’s warriors of old, with the Spirit of the living God. And, lastly, you remind us that the legions of Rome had prepared a highway for the gospel into almost every land, and that the weary world was unconsciously craving for that wonderful ambassador of the Cross.

II. But is it too much to say that England, and pre-eminently England’s Church, have been trained by God for a like embassy, an embassy of the same promise and of the same hopefulness, in these last days? How marvellous has been God’s education of the Church of our fathers—the early planting of the Gospel among us from Apostolic days; then lessons learned under the iron bondage of Rome, which perhaps nothing else could have so deeply graven on our hearts, hunger for freedom, thirst for light, a craving for the pure Word of God; then after the long winter the fresh springtide of the Reformation; then amid sultry calm and wildering storms the consecration of noble intellectual powers to the defence and furtherance of the gospel; and then coming nearer to our own times the revival of Evangelical life, followed by the renaissance of Church order; and now year by year the closer intermingling of these two great streams of thought, so that Evangelical life has largely indoctrinated the lovers of Church order, and the love of Church order has directed into the best channels the zeal of Evangelical life. We ponder these things and ask ourselves, Has not God, Who trained the Apostle of the Gentiles in the first century, been training the Church of this Anglo-Saxon race for His missionary work among the heathen in these last days?

III. From among and from beyond our colonial dependencies the cry of heathen and Mohammedan lands, sometimes an inarticulate cry of anguish and unrest, sometimes a cry of distincter entreaty, ‘Come over and help us,’ is borne to our ears by every wind that blows.

Bishop E. H. Bickersteth.


‘St. Paul gloried only in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our missionaries have known nothing among men but Jesus Christ and Him crucified. St. Paul was a vigilant pastor, as when at Ephesus for three years he ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears; and there are pastorates in our missionary fields, many of them now under native clergymen, which would vie with the most favoured parishes of England. St. Paul, though free from all men, yet made himself servant unto all that he might gain the more; and a Society like the C.M.S., which has adapted itself to the haughty Moslem, and the cultured Brahmin, and the simple aborigines of India, and the born-warrior Afghan, and the refined Persian, and the patient Chinese, and the broad-minded peoples of Japan, and the hot-hearted children of Africa, and the generous New Zealanders, and the thoughtful, pensive tribes of North-West America—a Society which has done this and won souls for Christ in every field of labour, may take up the Apostle’s words and say, “I am made all things to all men that I might by all means save some.” But St. Paul counted not his life dear unto him so that he might finish his course with joy: this, too, has not been wanting; for long years the coast of Africa was known as the white man’s grave, but the soldiers of the Cross never failed, others pressed forward,

Each standing where his comrade stood,

The moment that he fell.

When Bishop Hannington was martyred, some twenty-seven volunteers in England offered themselves for the same post of danger.’