The Greek text of 1 Tim. 1:5 according to the Textus Receptus states,

Εʹ τὸ δὲ τέλος τῆς παραγγελίας ἐστὶν ἀγάπη ἐκ καθαρᾶς καρδίας καὶ συνειδήσεως ἀγαθῆς καὶ πίστεως ἀνυποκρίτου TR, 1550

Note: I’m intentionally avoiding translating the Greek as it will skewer the answers. Please use whatever resources at your disposal. I’ve hyperlinked the verse so that you can at least access the various English translations if you wish.

I’ve read through many commentaries and they differ greatly on the meaning of «τῆς παραγγελίας» (i.e., what it refers to). So, what are your thoughts? To what was the apostle Paul referring when he wrote that?

  • Paul straightaway urges Timothy to stay and tell the people "not to occupy themselves with myths and endless genealogies that promote speculations rather than the divine training that is known by faith." These speculations were understandably divisive. People probably started to accuse others of being stupid or deceptive, or used this "meaningless talk" (v6) to assert their superiority over others. Who really knows? But I think we can all understand how vacuous, ignorant speculations can cause a lot of harm. So verse five is an explanation that the aim of this command/instruction... Commented Dec 1, 2013 at 3:49
  • (not to indulge in this stuff) is love, that is, that people would not be distracted by from loving one another by useless talk. Commented Dec 1, 2013 at 3:49

2 Answers 2


Starting off, the author self-identifies as Paul. While there is debate on whether the Paul wrote this letter, that's outside the realm of this discussion. So for shorthand, I will call him 'Paul', regardless of who the author actually was.

Literally, the word παραγγελιας refers to a 'command', 'mandate' or 'instruction'. It is an authoritative order being given. This is the sense of the word (and its root verb παρηγγελω) in other passages of the Septuagint1 and the New Testament.2 The Perseus Digital Library shows it's a relatively rare word, but likewise summarizes it as a 'command'. Both LSJ and Middle Liddell give a primary definition as 'a command or order issued to soldiers'. This will come in handy later on.

Fortunately, the word (and its relatives) is used 34 times in the New Testament books, seven of those instances being found in 1 Timothy: 1.3, 1.5, 1.18, 4.11, 5.7, 6.13, and 6.17. All of these are in the context of instructing or commanding someone else. Since the noun and verb are together used three times in 1 Timothy 1, we clearly need to read the whole chapter to understand what the 'charge' (παραγγελιας) of 1.5 actually is.

In verse 1.3, Paul explains that he left Timothy in Ephesus to 'charge' (παραγγειλης) people of that church. In verse 1.18, Paul states that he has entrusted 'this charge' (παραγγελιαν) to Timothy. Thus 1.3 and 1.18 form an inclusio; the 'charge' being discussed in 1.5 is actually discussed from 1.3 all the way to 1.18.

Verse 1.3 has him say the 'charge' is opposed to 'different teaching'. He initially explains that this 'different teaching' (ετεροδιδασκαλειν) consists of 'stories and endless genealogies'. However, in verse 1.10, he goes on to list various types of sins, saying they are opposed to 'healthy teaching'. (In other words, the listed sins in 1.9-10 are the 'different teaching' from 1.3.)

In contrast to all this, Paul says in 1.5 our 'charge' (παραγγελιας) is love, 'good conscience' (συνειδησεως αγαθης), and 'genuine faith' (πιστεως ανυποκριτο). After a high doxology in 1.17, Paul repeats the sentiments of 1.5 over in 1.18-19, where he says 'this charge I deposit to you', so that Timothy may 'serve the good war' (here is the sense of a 'charge' being a military command, as mentioned above), with 'faith' (πιστιν) and 'good conscience' (αγαθην συνειδησιν).

However, chapter 6 has several significant parallels to chapter 1, mostly in the same order.

In verse 6.3, Paul again uses the word 'different teaching' (ετεροδιδασκαλει), repeating verse 1.3. (Verses 6.20-21 contain a reiteration of the 'different teaching' described in 1.6-7.) This 'different teaching' is contrary to Jesus' own words, and only causes arrogance and arguing (6.3-5). This brings us to the major difference between chapter 1 and 6. Chapter 1 includes that list of various types of sins, which are the 'different teaching'. In its place, chapter 6.11-14 instead lists a series of virtues, which Paul 'charges' (παραγγελλω) Timothy to keep. The parallels with chapter one strike back up again, with Paul providing a second high doxology in 6.15-16 (as 1.17), and again telling Timothy to 'guard the deposit' in verse 6.20 (as 1.18).

Going from the inclusio in 1.3-18, and the later parallels in 6.3-21, the 'charge' includes love, good conscience, genuine faith (1.5b,19), and righteousness, reverence, faithfulness, love, endurance, gentleness (6.11). In other words, the context implies the 'charge' is the Christian faith itself, exemplified by how Christians are to act in their day-to-day life.

This seems clear when we consider what the opposite of the 'charge' is, the 'different teaching' that is mentioned in chapters 1 and 6. The type of behavior Paul saw as intrinsically opposed to the 'charge' included: lawlessness, insubordination, irreverence, sin, unholiness, profaneness, patricide, matricide, murder, immoral sexuality, enslaving, lying, oathbreaking (1.9-10), and jealousy, arguing, blasphemy, speculation, evil (6.4), among other things.

1 e.g. Joshua 6.7, 'Instruct the people to go around'; 1 Samuel 22.14, 'and [who is] chief over all your commands?'

2 e.g. Matthew 10.5, 'These twelve Jesus sent, charging them'; Luke 5.14, 'He commanded him to tell no one'; 1 Corinthians 7.10, 'To the married I give this instruction'.


The words "τῆς παραγγελίας" are in the genitive singular. This adjectival phrase modifies the noun (nominative singular) τέλος. Therefore τέλος is the focus of the thought and not the genitive clause. The "end" of the commandment should therefore be translated into English as completion or perfection. (The English word "teleology" contains the Greek root τέλος, which carries this idea of completion or perfection.) So the completion or perfection of the law (τέλος) is love according to James 2:8, which is occurs in the Hebrew Bible in 1 Sam 15:22 and Micah 6:8. These two verses from the Hebrew Bible declare what was "required" by the law: that is, loving both the Lord and your fellow man, which "completed" or "perfected" the commandment. This is therefore the idea in 1 Tim 1:5.

  • Sooooo...τῆς παραγγελίας means "the commandment"? If so, what does "the commandment" refer to? You focused more on τέλος and I didn't ask about that.
    – user862
    Commented Jan 10, 2014 at 5:33
  • @Joseph, I've DV'd for two reasons: 1) Your answer here focuses entirely on τέλος, completely unrelated to the Greek phrase being asked about, τῆς παραγγελίας. 2) The question is specifically about 1 Timothy 1.5, but your answer starts with James, jumps to 1 Samuel and Micah, then suddenly ends without an explanation of how those texts are related to 1 Timothy 1.5. Would you be able to connect the dots for us a bit more? As this answer presently stands, I'm not seeing the relation to the original question.
    – user2910
    Commented Jan 10, 2014 at 6:53
  • 1
    @MarkEdward - the Greek words "τῆς παραγγελίας" are in the genitive singular. In other words, the adjectival phrase modifies the noun (nominative singular) τέλος. τέλος therefore is the focus of the thought. The other references bring to bear what Paul had meant...
    – Joseph
    Commented Jan 10, 2014 at 12:27
  • Maybe you could add the above comment into your answer to connect the dots up front.
    – user2027
    Commented Aug 7, 2014 at 15:19
  • 1
    @Sarah - Okay, thanks for the suggestion (completed).
    – Joseph
    Commented Aug 8, 2014 at 0:08

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