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Bible Commentaries

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges
1 Timothy 6



Verse 1

1. ὅσοι κ.τ.λ. The construction is thoroughly Pauline; cp. Romans 2:12; Galatians 3:10, &c.

ὑπὸ ζυγὸν δοῦλοι, under the yoke as slaves, as the order of the words shews.

τοὺς ἰδίους δεσπότας, their several masters. But ἴδιος may be used without special emphasis, as in 1 Timothy 3:4, 1 Timothy 5:4 and the parallel passage Titus 2:9; cp. Ephesians 5:22 αἱ γυναῖκες τοῖς ἰδίοις ἀνδράσιν κ.τ.λ. The LXX. sometimes (especially in the later books) render the possessive pronoun by ἴδιος, and in late Greek the word is used for ἑαυτοῦ, ἑαυτῶν.

St Paul has δεσπότης in the Pastoral Epistles only (2 Timothy 2:21; Titus 2:9); elsewhere in similar contexts he has κύριος (Ephesians 6:5; Colossians 3:22; Colossians 4:1). δεσπότης (common in the LXX.; cp. 1 Peter 2:18) is perhaps the harsher word, but Philo (Quis rer. div. haer. 6) says that it is synonymous with κύριος, although he suggests a distinction between them, based on a false etymology.

πάσης τιμῆς ἀξίους. The τιμή of widows (1 Timothy 6:3) and of presbyters (1 Timothy 6:17) has been enforced; we now come to the τιμή due to heathen masters from Christian slaves. Christianity taught that in Christ there was “neither bond nor free,” and gradually, through this teaching, the evils of slavery became mitigated and removed; but the Apostles and their successors were ever careful (see the various passages cited above and Ep. to Philemon passim) to preach to slaves the duty of obedience to their masters, in the existing condition of society. Unlike the Therapeutae and the Essenes who are said to have encouraged insubordination, as a practical corollary from the doctrine of the brotherhood of man, the Christian Church avoided any teaching which might seem to countenance a bellum servile, with its frightful consequences. Slaves were to commend their religion by the performance of their duty in their humble station. see on Titus 2:5.

ἵνα μὴ τὸ ὄνομα κ.τ.λ., that the Name of God and the doctrine be not blasphemed. For slaves to have refused obedience would have brought immediate discredit on the Christian Faith, as subversive of the foundations of heathen society. St Paul quotes in Romans 2:24 the words of Isaiah 52:5 τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ θεοῦ διʼ ὑμᾶς βλασφημεῖται ἐν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν (cp. 2 Samuel 12:14; Ezekiel 36:23), which are also in his mind here. Cp. [2 Clem.] § 13 for a like use of the phrase.

Verse 1-2


Verse 2

2. The exceptional case of Christian masters is next dealt with

οἱ δὲ πιστοὺς κ.τ.λ., let those who have believers as their masters not despise them, because they are brethren. Equal membership in the Kingdom of Christ is not to be a pretext for the neglect of social duty to superiors.

ἀλλὰ μᾶλλον δουλ., but let them serve them the rather. μᾶλλον is emphatic (cp. Romans 14:13; Ephesians 5:4); heathen masters have their claim to service, but Christian masters have an additional claim in that they are πιστοὶ καὶ ἀγαπητοί, linked with their slaves by common faith and love.

πιστοί εἰσιν καὶ ἀγ. κ.τ.λ. πιστοὶ καὶ ἀγαπητοί must be the predicate of the sentence, which determines that οἱ τῆς εὐεργεσίας ἀντιλαμβανόμενοι, the subject, must be a description of the masters who have already been called πιστοὺς at the beginning of the verse. ἀντιλαμβάνεσθαι only occurs twice elsewhere in the N.T., viz. Luke 1:54 (in a quotation from the LXX. where it is frequent) and Acts 20:35 (in a speech of St Paul); in both these instances it is equivalent to succurrere, a meaning which is not applicable here. In late Greek, however, it sometimes means ‘to be sensible of,’ percipere, of anything which acts upon the senses (cp. Porphyr. de Abstin. i. 46 μήτε ἐσθίων πλειόνων ἡδονῶν ἀντιλήψεται); and so may be rendered here (with all the versions) ‘to partake of.’ εὐεργεσία is (a) not the Benefit of Redemption; that is not here in question. And as (b) the masters are the subject of the sentence, it can have no reference to the benefits which they may confer upon their slaves. It remains therefore that we take it (c) as the benefit which the masters receive from the heartiness of their slaves’ obedience. Alford cites an apposite passage from Seneca (de benef. III. 21), in which the question an beneficium dare servus domino possit is answered in the affirmative, and where the definition is given quidquid est quod servilis officii formulam excedit, quod non ex imperio sed ex voluntate praestatur, beneficium est. We therefore translate the words before us, because they that are partakers [sc. the masters] of the benefit [the improved quality of the service] are faithful and beloved. The A.V. is here incorrect.

ταῦτα δίδασκε καὶ παρακάλει. see on 1 Timothy 4:11. The only question is as to the reference of ταῦτα. It may refer to what follows, but the usage of it in similar contexts throughout the Epistle (1 Timothy 3:14, 1 Timothy 4:6; 1 Timothy 4:11; 1 Timothy 4:15) makes it more probable that it refers to what precedes, viz. the directions just given about the demeanour of slaves.

Verse 3

3. εἴ τις ἑτεροδιδασκαλεῖ κ.τ.λ., if any man teach other [sc. inconsistent] doctrine &c. For ἑτεροδιδασκαλεῖν see on 1 Timothy 1:3, the only other place where the word is found; it is here used in contrast to δίδασκε of the preceding verse, and probably the feature of the false teaching which is, for the moment, in the writer’s mind, is its worldliness. He has just declared that slaves are not to make their Christianity a pretext for seeking social advancement; and he proceeds to give a warning against the heretical teachers who, by their example, would encourage the idea that godliness is a way of gain.

μὴ προσέρχεται, assenteth not (see crit. note). In the N.T. as a rule εἰ with the indicative (supposed reality) takes οὐ, where classical Greek would have μή (cp. 1 Timothy 3:5, 1 Timothy 5:8); here however the more correct literary form εἰμή is found. (See Blass, Grammar of N.T. Greek, § 75, 3.) προσέρχεσθαι is not used elsewhere by St Paul, and in all the other passages where it occurs in the N.T., it is used of the approach of the body, and not of the assent of the mind; the latter sense is, however, quite legitimate and not uncommon in later Greek. Cp. Sirach 1:28; Acts 10:28 and the term προσήλυτος, as marking the transition from the original to the derivative meaning.

ὑγιαίνουσιν λόγοις, wholesome words; see on 1 Timothy 1:10.

τοῖς τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰ. Χ., those of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is a gen. originis. There is no reference to actual words of the Lord, but to the fact that He (and not man) is the source of the sound doctrine, of which His words furnish the standard.

καὶ τῇ κατʼ εὐσέβειαν διδασκαλίᾳ. The test of the διδασκαλία is its conformity with that εὐσέβεια (see on 1 Timothy 2:2), without which it is impossible to appreciate the moral distinctions so vital in all sound theology; cp. Titus 1:1.

In 1 Timothy 6:3 the ἑτεροδιδασκαλία is described as discrepant both from the standards and appropriate test of the true doctrine; its practical results are now brought forward, a picture of the false teacher himself being first drawn.

Verses 3-5


Verse 4

4. τετύφωται, he is beclouded; see on 1 Timothy 3:6. The Vulgate rendering is superbus est, and the older Latin versions have inflatus est, but this is to change the metaphor.

μηδὲν ἐπιστάμενος, knowing nothing; compare the similar words at 1 Timothy 1:7. ἐπίστασθαι is not found again in the Pauline Epp.; but cp. Acts 20:18; Acts 22:19; Acts 24:10; Acts 26:26.

ἀλλὰ νοσῶν περὶ κ.τ.λ., but doting about &c. νοσεῖν is ἄπ. λεγ. in the N.T., but it is a common LXX. word; when followed by περί with the acc., it suggests the idea of morbid movement round a central point. For the metaphor of sickness and health as applied to the spiritual state see note on 1 Timothy 1:10. The heretical teachers are regarded more as ‘ill-conditioned,’ than as teaching falsehood.

ζητήσεις καὶ λογομαχίας, questionings and disputes of words; compare 1 Timothy 1:4-6. λογομαχία does not occur elsewhere in the Greek Bible (we have λογομαχεῖν in 2 Timothy 2:14); it is a late Greek word, and seems to mean here not ‘a dispute about words,’ but ‘a dispute in which words are the weapons,’ and so is almost equivalent to controversy. The fruits of such controversy are now enumerated.

φθόνος, ἔρις, envy, strife. These are also associated by St Paul at Romans 1:29; Galatians 5:21 (see crit. note).

βλασφημίαι, evil speakings, sc. not against God, but (as at Ephesians 4:31; Colossians 3:8) against one another.

ὑπόνοιαι πονηραί. We have ὑπόνοια πονηρά also in Sirach 3:24; ὑπόνοια does not occur, save in these two places, in the Greek Bible; it is a surmise, or evil suspicion.

Verse 5

5. διαπαρατριβαὶ, incessant wranglings; the first of two prepositions in a composite word governs the meaning, and thus διά is emphatic, signifying the persistency and obstinacy of the disputes: παρατριβή is friction. διαπαρατ. is ἅπ. λεγ. in the Greek Bible. The usual Latin rendering is conflictationes or conflictiones, but r preserves the curious form perconfricationes, ‘perpetual frictions.’

διεφθαρμένων ἀνθρ. τὸν νοῦν, of men depraved in mind; νοῦς is the moral reason, furnishing the intellectual element of conscience. When this is corrupted, the eye of the soul is darkened and cannot catch the Divine light. Cp. 2 Timothy 3:8 ἄνθρωποι κατεφθαρμένοι τὸν νοῦν, and Ephesians 4:17.

καὶ ἀπεστερημένων τῆς ἀληθείας, and bereft of (not only ‘destitute of’) the truth. The expression is even stronger than that used of the false teachers in Titus 1:14 : ἀνθρώπων ἀποστρεφομένων τὴν ἀλήθειαν: cp. 1 Timothy 1:19. St Paul has ἀποστερεῖσθαι again in 1 Corinthians 6:7-8.

νομιζόντων πορισμὸν εἶναι τὴν εὐσέβειαν, supposing that godliness is a way of gain. The A.V. “supposing that gain is godliness” is undoubtedly wrong, as is shewn by the order of the words and the position of the article. For a like construction with νομίζω cp. 1 Corinthians 7:26. πορισμός, ‘a gainful trade,’ is found in the N.T. only in this passage; and in LXX. at Wisdom of Solomon 13:19; Wisdom of Solomon 14:2. This characteristic of the false teachers is alluded to again, Titus 1:11; Seneca, in like manner, speaks of some “qui philosophiam velut aliquod artificium venale didicerunt” (Ep. 108).

The words at the end of this verse in the Received Text, ἀφίστασο ἀπὸ τῶν τοιούτων, are insufficiently supported (see crit. note); they were probably added by a copyist who did not understand the construction of the clause, having failed to observe that the apodosis begins at τετύφωται (1 Timothy 6:4).

Verse 6

6. ἔστιν δὲ κ.τ.λ. But, &c. emphatic: εὐσέβεια is not a gainful trade, but for all that there is a sense in which godliness with contentment is great gain, not only for the next world, but also for this. Compare 1 Timothy 4:8, where εὐσέβεια has been declared to be πρὸς πάντα ὠφέλιμος, ἑπαγγελίαν ἔχουσα ζωῆς τῆς νῦν καὶ τῆς μελλούσης. That riches are not essential to true well-being was a commonplace of pre-Christian philosophy, which laid great emphasis on αὐτάρκεια or the ‘self-sufficiency’ of the wise man. Thus Cicero (Paradox. 6) has the aphorism: “contentum vero suis rebus esse maximae sunt certissimae divitiae.” In the LXX. the same thought is expressed in the Sapiential books: e.g. σύνταξον δέ μοι τὰ δέοντα καὶ τὰ αὐτάρκη (Proverbs 30:8), and ζωὴ αὐτάρκους ἐργάτου γλυκανθήσεται (Sirach 40:18). Comp. Proverbs 15:16 and Ps. Solomon. 1 Timothy 5:18-19. St Paul’s words go deeper, inasmuch as they lay stress on εὐσέβεια as a chief condition of happiness, and recognise the proper place of αὐτάρκεια, as contentment not self-sufficiency. αὐτάρκεια occurs only once again in N.T., in 2 Corinthians 9:8, and there is equivalent to sufficiency; but the true parallel to the present passage is Philippians 4:11 ἔμαθον ἐν οἶς εἰμὶ αὐτάρκης εἶναι.

Verses 6-10


Verse 7

7. οὐδὲν γὰρ κ.τ.λ. For we brought nothing into the world, neither can we carry anything out. The construction (see crit. note) is difficult. If we read (as manuscript authority requires) ὅτι οὐδὲ ἐξενεγκεῖν, the meaning of ὄτι has been variously explained. (a) It has been taken as equivalent to quia, ‘because.’ The general sense then would be that the reason why we brought nothing into the world is because we can carry nothing out of it. But this seems an unnatural and farfetched sentiment, and we cannot accept such a rendering, if any other will fit the words. (b) The copyists who inserted δῆλον seem to have thought that there was an ellipse of δῆλον or some word like it. It is, however, hardly admissible to assume such an ellipse, unless it can be illustrated by a clear example. 1 John 3:20 has been adduced, but (see Westcott in loc.) can be better explained otherwise. Field adduces an example from Chrysostom, but it is not conclusive. (c) It remains then to take ὅτι as resumptive: we brought nothing into the world; I say, that neither can we carry anything out; a somewhat irregular construction, but not impossible. The words (familiar to us from their place in the Burial Service) may be illustrated from writers of widely different schools. Comp. e.g. Job 1:21; Ecclesiastes 5:15; Hor. Odes II. 14. 21; Propert. IV. 4. 13; Seneca (Ep. 102) “excutit natura redeuntem sicut intrantem. Non licet plus auferre quam intuleris”; and (a close parallel in words as well as in thought) Philo de Sacrif. 6 τὸν μηδὲν εἰς κόσμον, ἀλλὰ μηδὲ σαυτὸν εἰσενηνοχότα; γυμνὸς μὲν γάρ, θαυμάσιε, ἦλθες, γυμνὸς πάλιν ἀπίῃς.

Verse 8

8. ἔχοντες δὲ κ.τ.λ. But if we have food and raiment we shall be therewith content.

διατροφή is only found in the Greek Bible elsewhere at 1 Maccabees 6:49, where it is in the singular. σκἑπασμα does not occur again in LXX. or N.T.; etymologically it might include shelter as well as clothing (as Philo explains, de Praem. 17, σκὲπης δὲ διττὸν εἷδος), but this would be to bring in an inappropriate idea here. Food and raiment are the two indispensable conditions of life, although the true ζωή is ‘more’ than even these (Matthew 6:25). Josephus describes the Essenes (B. J. II. 8. 5) as ζωσαμένοι σκεπάσμασι λινοις; and also uses the word σκεπάσματα unmistakably in the sense of clothing, in Ant. xv. 9. 2.

ἀρκεσθησόμεθα is not imperatival, but future, with a slightly authoritative sense. Cp. Hebrews 13:5 ἀρκούμενοι τοῖς παροῦσιν, and Clem. Rom. (§ 2.) τοῖς ἐφοδίοις τοῦ θεοῦ ἀρκούμενοι.

Verse 9

9. οἱ δὲ βουλόμενοι πλουτεῖν κ.τ.λ. But, on the other hand, they who desire (who are minded, a more definite word than θέλοντες) to be rich &c. It is not the mere possession of wealth, but the desire to be rich, the grasping after riches as the supposed end of life, whose ill results are now described.

ἐμπίπτουσιν εἰς πειρασμὸν κ.τ.λ., fall into a temptation and a snare. Again we have a close parallel in the words of Seneca: “Dum divitias consequi volumus in mala multa incidimus” (Ep. 87).

καἰ ἐπιθυμίας πολλὰς κ.τ.λ., and many foolish and hurtful lusts. βλαβερός is only found again in the Greek Bible at Proverbs 10:26.

αἵτινες, which indeed, cp. 1 Timothy 3:15.

βυθίζουσιν τοὺς ἀνθρώπους, drown men, sc. mankind in general, as the article τοὺς indicates. βυθίζειν only occurs again in Greek Bible at 2 Maccabees 12:4 and Luke 5:7.

εἰς ὄλεθρον καὶ ἀπώλειαν, in destruction and perdition. The two words are not to be very sharply distinguished. ἀπώλεια = utter loss is the regular word for the soul’s perdition, e.g. Philippians 1:28; Philippians 3:19; but ὄλεθρος is also used in this sense, e.g. 1 Thessalonians 5:3; 2 Thessalonians 1:9, though also for “the destruction of the flesh” only (1 Corinthians 5:5).

Verse 10

10. ῥίζα γὰρ πάντων τῶν κακῶν ἐστὶν ἡ φιλαργυρία. For the love of money is the root of all evils, an emphatic, rhetorical, statement. To lay stress, as the Revised Version has done, on the absence of the article before ῥίζα, seems unnecessary, and the resultant translation “a root of all kinds of evil,” though no doubt giving us a more scientifically exact maxim than the A.V. presents, is far less forcible. Quite as strong statements had been made about this vice before St Paul’s day. Comp. Apollodorus Frag.

ἀλλὰ σχεδόν τι τὸ κεφάλαιον τῶν κακῶν

εἴρηκας· ἐν φιλαργυρίᾳ γὰρ πάντʼ ἔνι,

or Diog. Laert. VI. 50 τὴν φιλαργυρίαν εἶπε μητρόπολιν πάντων τῶν κακῶν. Or again, Ammian. Marcell. XXXI. 4 aviditas materia omnium malorum.

τῶν κακῶν refers, of course, to moral not physical evils; to sins whether of omission or commission.

φιλαργυρία, defined by the Stoics as ὑπόληψις τοῦ τὸ ἀργύριον καλὸν εἶναι (Diog. VII. 111), is a passive vice, as contrasted with the active grasping of πλεονεξία, which indeed has a much wider range. The latter might co-exist with prodigal expenditure; not so φιλαργυρία, which is the miser’s sin, the auri sacra fames of Virgil (Aen. III. 56). Thus the older Latin rendering avaritia gives the sense better than the Vulgate cupiditas. The word only occurs again in the Greek Bible in 4 Maccabees 1:26; 4 Maccabees 2:15; but we have the adjective φιλάργυρος in 2 Timothy 3:2, and in Luke 16:14, where it is applied to the Pharisees.

ἦς τινὲς ὀρεγόμενοι, which some reaching after.… The image is, perhaps, not strictly correct, for we can hardly reach after an ὄρεξις like φιλαργυρία, but it is quite in St Paul’s manner; cp. ἐλπὶς βλεπομένη (Romans 8:24). For ὀρέγεσθαι see on 1 Timothy 3:1.

ἀπεπλανήθησαν ἀπὸ τῆς πίστεως κ.τ.λ., have been led astray (cp. 1 Timothy 1:19, 1 Timothy 4:1) from the faith &c., i.e. as from a straight path. Struggling out of this they get entrapped among the briars and thorns of the world, and pierce themselves. ἀποπλανᾷν only occurs in the N.T. again in Mark 13:22; it is, however, a LXX. word.

καὶ ἑαυτοὺς περιέπειραν ὀδύναις πολλαῖς, and have pierced themselves through with many sorrows. περιπείρειν is ἅπ. λεγ. in the Greek Bible; it means to impale or pierce through, the force of περί arising from the idea of the thing pierced surrounding that which pierces. Cp. Philo in Flacc. i. ἀνηκέστοις περιέπειρε καοῖς. ὀδύναι (in N.T. only here and in Romans 9:2) stands for the pangs of conscience, the shafts of remorse.

Verse 11

11. σὺ δέ. Emphatic, and in contrast with τινές of 1 Timothy 6:10.

ὦ ἄνθρωπε θεοῦ. This is not a technical title of office, nor on the other hand is the phrase used quite so generally as in 2 Timothy 3:17; but it emphatically recalls to the mind of Timothy his position as one entrusted with a Divine message. It is the regular O.T. expression for a prophet, אִישׁ אֱלהִים; see 1 Samuel 9:6; 1 Kings 12:22; 1 Kings 13:1 &c. The N.T. prophets, of whom Timothy perhaps was one (among his other qualifications for his high position), might naturally be thus described.

ταῦτα φεῦγε, flee these things, sc. φιλαργυρία and its attendant evils.

δίωκε δὲ δικαιοσύνην. See, for this phrase, Proverbs 15:9; Romans 9:30 and 2 Timothy 2:22, in which last place, as here, it follows φεῦγε, and is followed by πίστιν, ἀγάπην.

The qualities now enumerated fall into three pairs, (i.) δικαιοσύνη and εὐσέβεια, righteousness (in the largest sense) and piety, linked together again at Titus 2:12; these are the ground of all performance of duty to man and to God: (ii.) πίστις and ἀγάπη, faith and love, the supreme Christian graces: (iii.) ὑπομονή and πραϋπαθία, patience and meekness, especially necessary in dealing with opponents. ὑπομονή, which in the canonical books of the LXX. stands for hopeful waiting or expectation, is used often in Ecclus. and always in 4 Macc. (e.g. 4 Maccabees 17:12) for patient endurance; it is a favourite word with the Apostle in this sense. St Paul is described by Clement (§ 5) as himself ὑπομονῆς γενόμενος μέγιστος ὑπογραμμός. See further on Titus 2:2.

The form πραϋπαθία does not occur elsewhere in the Greek Bible; but we find it in Philo De Abr. § 37.

Verses 11-16


Verse 12

12. ἀγωνίζου τὸν καλὸν ἀγῶνα κ.τ.λ. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold (as a prize) on eternal life. The metaphor of life as a gymnastic contest was one which naturally suggested itself to those who had witnessed the Olympian or Isthmian games which played, even as late as the Apostolic age, so important a part in Greek national life. Philo uses the illustration again and again. He notes, e.g. (Leg. All. iii. 71), the training and (Leg. All. i. 31) the diet of the athletes; he speaks (de Migr. Abr. 24) of the race and of the crown, which he says is the Vision of God (de mut. nom. 12); and in one striking passage he uses language comparable to that here employed by St Paul: κάλλιστον ἀγῶνα τοῦτον διάθλησον καὶ σπούδασον στεφανωθῆναικαλὸν καὶ εὐκλεᾶ στέφανον ὃν οὐδεμία πανήγυρις ἀνθρώπων ἐχώρησε (Leg. All. ii. 26). The metaphor is also found in the Ep. to the Hebrews (Hebrews 12:1) and in the Book of Wisdom (Wisdom of Solomon 4:2), and is a favourite one with St Paul; cp. 1 Corinthians 9:24; Philippians 3:12; Philippians 3:14 and 2 Timothy 4:7 where he says of himself τὸν καλὸν ἀγῶνα ἠγώνισμαι. It is worth noting that the phrase is found almost verbatim in Euripides:

καίτοι καλόν γʼ ἂν τόνδʼ ἀγῶνʼ ἠγωνίσω (Alcest. 648).

This contest is τῆς πίστεως, of faith (not ‘of the faith’); it is the personal warfare with evil to which every Christian is called; the καλὴ στρατεία in 1 Timothy 1:18 is, on the other hand, a contest with human opponents.

ἐπιλαβοῦ. St Paul uses ἐπιλαμβάνεσθαι only here and at 1 Timothy 6:19; it is a common LXX. word, and means to lay hold of. The aorist imperative marks the single act of reaching out for the crown, while the present ἀγωνίζου marks the continued struggle.

τῆς αἰωνίου ζωῆς. This is the ‘crown’ or βραβεῖον for the victor in the contest; cp. James 1:12; Revelation 2:10.

εἰς ἣν ἐκλήθης, whereunto thou wast called. Some have found here an allusion to the voice of the herald calling the combatant into the arena; but eternal life is not the arena of the contest, but the reward. The metaphor is not to be pressed so closely.

καὶ ὡμολόγησας τὴν καλὴν ὁμολογίαν κ.τ.λ., and didst confess the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. This does not refer (a) to any special moment of persecution in Timothy’s life (for which we have no evidence), or (b) to his ordination; cp. 1 Timothy 4:14; but (c), as the close connexion with the preceding εἰς ἢν ἐκλήθης and the main thought in the next verse shew, to his baptism, as the moment at which he made his ὁμολογία or confession of faith in the Christian Revelation.

Verse 13

13. παραγγέλλω σοι ἐνώπιον τοῦ θεοῦ τοῦ ζωογονοῦντος τὰ πάντα. St Paul charges Timothy in the face of a more awful Witness than those who stood by and heard his baptismal confession at the first. ζωογονεῖν (see crit. note) is ‘to preserve alive’; the thought of the prize of eternal life leads up to the thought of Him who is the Source of all life, who preserveth all things alive. The word is perhaps suggested by the thought of Timothy’s baptism, when he was ‘born again’ of water and the Spirit. He who gives spiritual life in baptism also ‘preserves it alive.’ ζωογονεῖν does not occur again in St Paul, but it is found in LXX. (Exodus 1:17-18; Judges 8:19; 1 Samuel 27:9) and was known to St Luke (Luke 17:33 and Acts 7:19). In medical writers it is common in the sense of ‘to endue with life’ or ‘to produce alive[533].’

καὶ Χρ. Ἰη. τοῦ μαρτυρήσαντος ἐπὶ Ποντίου Πειλάτου τὴν καλ. ὁμολ., and of Christ Jesus who under Pontius Pilate attested the good confession, sc. the Revelation which He came to bring. Jesus is ὁ μάρτυς ὁ πιστός (Revelation 1:5) and He came that He might bear witness to the truth (John 18:37); He was thus, strictly, the First Martyr. ἐπί followed by a gen. may mean either (a) in the presence of (as in Mark 13:9), or (b) in the time of (as in Mark 2:26); and thus ἐπὶ Ποντίου may be taken as equivalent (a) to coram Pontio, the publicity of the witness delivered before the imperial authority being the emphatic matter; or (b) to sub Pontio, as it has been taken in the Apostles’ Creed, in the days of Pontius Pilate, the reference being merely to the time when the witness in question was given. Taking into account the change of preposition from ἑνώπιον to ἐπί, and the fact that μαρτυρήσαντος is the emphatic word, in contrast with ὡμολόγησας of the preceding verse, we decide for (b). Timothy at his baptism had confessed the good confession of the Faith of Jesus Christ, which the Lord Himself attested with power in the days of Pontius Pilate, not only by His words before His judge, but by His Death and Resurrection.

It seems not improbable that the words of this verse rehearse the phrases of some primitive form of baptismal creed, in which mention was made of God as the Sustainer of Life, of the Passion of Jesus Christ under Pontius Pilate, and of His Second Coming in judgement; cp. 2 Timothy 2:8; 2 Timothy 4:1.

Verse 14

14. τηρῆσαί σε τὴν ἐντολὴν κ.τ.λ., to keep the commandment &c, sc. not (a) the special commands of 1 Timothy 6:11-12 nor (b) vaguely, the Gospel considered as a rule of life, but (c) the baptismal charge, to which allusion was made in 1 Timothy 6:12. The words are clearly taken thus in [2 Clem.] § 8: τηρήσατε τὴν σάρκα ἁγνὴν καὶ τὴν σφραγῖδα (sc. of baptism) ἄσπιλον, ἵνα τὴν αἰώνιον ζωὴν ἀπολάβωμεν. And so they are understood by Cyril of Jerusalem, who in quoting 1 Timothy 6:13-14 (Cat. 1 Timothy 6:13) substitutes τὴν παραδεδομένην πίστιν for ἐντολήν.

ἄσπιλον, without spot. We have ἄσπιλον ἑαυτὸν τηρεῖν in James 1:27, and the word occurs 1 Peter 1:19; 2 Peter 3:14, but not elsewhere in the Greek Bible. For ἀνεπίλημπτον see on 1 Timothy 3:2. It is a question whether these two words go with σε or with ἐντολήν; but although the former is a possible construction and is favoured by the fact that the words are applied to persons elsewhere in the N.T., yet it is more natural to take them with ἐντολή, as they are taken (see above) by Cyril and 2 Clement, in company with the ancient versions. We have ἀνεπίλημπτος applied to τέχνη in Philo (de Opif. 22) and to προαίρεσις in Polybius (Hist. XIV. 2. 14), so that it is plainly not restricted to persons.

μέχρι τῆς ἐπιφανείας κ.τ.λ., until the Manifestation &c., sc. the Second Advent, which St Paul always kept in the foreground of his thoughts and hopes. There is nothing in this passage which suggests that he expected it soon; indeed καιροῖς ἰδίοις of the next verse shews that he recognised that its time is only known to God.

ἐπιφάνεια is frequently used in the LXX. (esp. 2 Macc.) of manifestations of the Divine glory; it is not found in the N.T. outside the Pastorals save at 2 Thessalonians 2:8. The expressions used by St Paul as descriptive of the Second Advent are worth collecting: (i.) ἡ ἡμέρα τοῦ Κυρίου, at 1 Thessalonians 5:2; 1 Corinthians 1:8; 1 Corinthians 5:5; cp. Philippians 1:10; 2 Timothy 1:12. (2.) ἡ ἀποκάλυψις τοῦ κυρίου Ἰη., at 2 Thessalonians 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:7. (3.) ἡ παρουσία at 1 Thessalonians 2:19; 1 Thessalonians 3:13; 1 Thessalonians 4:15; 1 Thessalonians 5:23; 2 Thessalonians 2:1; 2 Thessalonians 2:9. (4.) ἡ ἐπιφάνεια τῆς παρουσίας αὐτοῦ at 2 Thessalonians 2:8. (5.) ἡ ἐπιφάνεια αὐτοῦ at 1 Timothy 4:14; 2 Timothy 4:1; 2 Timothy 4:8 (it is applied to the Lord’s First Coming in 2 Timothy 1:10) and (6.) ἡ ἐπιφάνεια τῆς δόξης τοῦ μεγάλου θεοῦ καὶ σωτῆρος ἡμῶν Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ (Titus 2:13). The variety of these shews significantly that the argument, which has been sometimes urged against the genuineness of the Pastorals, resting on the usage in them of ἐπιφάνεια instead of παρουσία, the usual word for the Second Advent in the Thessalonian Epistles, is destitute of any solid ground. In [2 Clem.] 12 and 17 we have the similar phrase ἡ ἡμέρα τῆς ἐπιφανείας τοῦ θεοῦ.

Verse 15

15. ἣν καιροῖς ἰδίοις δείξει, which He will display in His own seasons; see on 1 Timothy 2:6, and Acts 1:7, καιροὺς οὖς ὁ πατὴρ ἕθετο ἐν τῇ ἰδίᾳ ἐξουσίᾳ.

The epithets which follow are descriptive of the Eternal Father, and it is not improbable that they and the doxology of 1 Timothy 6:16 are taken from some liturgical (perhaps even Jewish) formula which had already become stereotyped by use.

μακάριος. see on 1 Timothy 1:11.

καὶ μόνος δυνάστης. We have μόνῳ θεῷ in the doxology in 1 Timothy 1:17, which should be compared all through with this verse. It does not seem necessary to suppose any special controversial reference to the aeons of Gnostic theology, or to heathen polytheism. The Unity and Sovereignty of God were first principles of the Hebrew religion, and they would fitly be mentioned in an early Christian doxology. Cp. Philo de sacrificiis Abelis et Caini 30, περὶ θεοῦ τοῦ ἀγεννήτου καὶ ἀφθάρτου καὶ ἀτρέπτου καὶ ἁγίου καὶ μόνου μακαρίου. δυνάστης is not used elsewhere by St Paul; it is frequently applied to men in the LXX. and in Luke 1:52; Acts 8:27, and to God, as here, in Sirach 46:5; Sirach 46:16 and 2 Maccabees 12:15; 2 Maccabees 3:24 (δυνάστης ἐπιφανείαν μεγάλην ἐποίησεν). We have the phrase μόνος ἐστὶ δυνάστης in Orac. Sibyll. III. 718.

ὁ βασιλεὺς τῶν βασιλευὀντων κ.τ.λ. We have κύριος τῶν κυρίων καὶ βασιλεὺς τῶν βασιλέων in Daniel 4:34 LXX. (cp. Revelation 17:14; Revelation 19:16); and the same phrase (reading βασιλευόντων) in the Book of Enoch (ix. 4). King of kings was a title commonly assumed by Eastern monarchs; the early Christian writers apply it to God alone. Jehovah is named κύριος τῶν κυρίων in Deuteronomy 10:17; Psalms 136:3.

Verse 16

16. ὁ μόνος ἔχων ἀθανασίαν, a fuller statement than the ἀφθάρτῳ of 1 Timothy 1:17, inasmuch as ἀθανασία (seemingly not distinguished from ἀφθαρσία in St Paul’s phraseology; see 1 Corinthians 15:53-54) is here declared to be the essential property of God alone. Cp. Wisdom of Solomon 15:3, εἰδέναι σου τὸ κράτος ῥίζα ἀθανασίας.

φῶς οἰκῶν, dwelling in light. God’s dwelling is light (cp. Psalms 104:2 ἀναβαλλόμενος φῶς ὡς ἰμάτιον) even as He Himself is Light (1 John 1:5), and His messengers are ‘angels of light’ (2 Corinthians 11:14).

ἀπρόσιτον. This light is unapproachable. The word ἀπρόσιτος does not occur elsewhere in the Greek Bible, but it is found in Philo (de vita Mosis iii. 2) who uses it of the Mount to which Moses could not approach for the glory of Jehovah (Exodus 33:17-23). It is this latter passage from Exodus which is behind St Paul’s language here, esp.: οὐ γὰρ μὴ ἴδη ἄνθρωπος τὸ πρόσωπόν μου καὶ ζήσεται (Exodus 33:20). Josephus also (Ant. III. 5. 1) applies ἀπρόσιτος to God.

ὃν εἶδεν οὐδεὶς ἀνθρώπων οὐδὲ ἰδεῖν δύναται, an expansion of the epithet ἀόρατος in 1 Timothy 1:17; cp. Deuteronomy 4:12; John 1:18; 1 John 4:12. We walk by faith not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7), though the Vision of God is promised to the pure in heart (Matthew 5:6; cp. Hebrews 12:14).

ᾦ τιμὴ καὶ κράτος αἰώνιον. Cp. 1 Peter 4:11; 1 Peter 5:11; it is just possible that κράτος has been here suggested by the epithet δυνάστης in the preceding verse. But it is, in any case, common in ascriptions.

The interjection, as it were, of a doxology in the middle of an argument or discussion is quite in St Paul’s manner; see e.g. Romans 1:25; Romans 11:36; Romans 1:17 above.

Verse 17

17. That some, at least, of the Ephesian Christians were well-to-do is evident from the implication that there were among them the owners of slaves (1 Timothy 6:2 above); and that Ephesus in the days of St Paul was a wealthy city we know from many sources.

τοῖς πλουσίοις ἐν τῷ νῦν αἰῶνι, those who are rich in the present world, described thus fully to distinguish them from those who lay up treasure εἰς τὸ μέλλον (1 Timothy 6:19), though, of course, the two classes overlap. The usual phrase in St Paul (Romans 12:2; 1 Corinthians 2:6; Ephesians 1:21 &c.) and in the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew 12:32; Luke 16:8) for ‘the present world’ is ὁ αἰὼν οὗτος (see on 1 Timothy 1:17); but in the Pastorals (see 2 Timothy 4:10; Titus 2:12) it is ὁ νῦν αἰών. St Paul elsewhere has the similar expression ὁ νῦν καιρός (Romans 3:26; Romans 8:18; 2 Corinthians 8:13).

μὴ ὑψηλοφρονεῖν, not to be high-minded, i.e. because they are rich; the pride of purse is not only vulgar, it is sinful. Compare Jeremiah 9:23 μὴ καυχάσθω ὁ πλούσιος ἐν τῷ πλούτῳ αὐτοῦ and Romans 12:16. See crit. note.

μηδὲ ἠλπικέναι ἐπὶ πλούτου ἀδηλότητι, nor have their hope set on the uncertainty of riches. The ἀδηλότης of wealth, the familiar fact that it so often takes to itself wings and flies away (Proverbs 23:5), is indeed the very reason why we should not set our hopes on it. The phrase is thus more forcible, if less precise, than ἐπὶ τῷ πλούτῳ τῷ ἀδήλῳ. Compare Psalms 62:10, “If riches increase, set not your heart thereon.”

ἀδηλότης does not occur elsewhere in the Greek Bible, but St Paul has ἀδήλως, ἄδηλος in 1 Corinthians 9:26; 1 Corinthians 14:8.

ἀλλʼ ἐπὶ θεῷ. For ἐλπίζειν followed by ἐπί with the dative, see on 1 Timothy 4:10 above. The reading is not quite certain here; see crit. note.

τῷ παρέχοντι ἡμῖν πάντα πλουσίως εἰς ἀπόλαυσιν. The true object of hope is the unchangeable God who is the Giver of all good things, who giveth us all things richly to enjoy. Riches are a good, if rightly used, and they are the gift of God: cp. 1 Timothy 4:3 where it is said that meats were created εἰς μετάλημψιν. The similar phrase εἰς ἀπόλαυσιν must here be given its full force; riches (as all other gifts of God) are not given to be possessed merely, but to be enjoyed, and (as is immediately explained in the next verse) to be used for good purposes.

ἀπόλαυσις is a strong word, almost connoting sensual enjoyment; it only occurs again in the Greek Bible at Hebrews 11:25. In [2 Clem.] § 10 ἡ ἐνθάδε ἀπόλαυσις is contrasted with ἡ μέλλουσα ἐπαγγελία.

Verses 17-19


Verse 18

18. ἀγαθοεργεῖν. We have ἀγαθουργεῖν, the contracted form, at Acts 14:17 (in St Paul’s speech at Lystra); elsewhere in the Greek Bible the word is not found.

πλουτεῖν ἐν ἔργοις καλοῖς, to be rich in good works, a play on the meaning of πλουτεῖν. “Men must not compute their riches so much from what they have, as from what they give” (Bp Beveridge). See the note on 1 Timothy 2:10 above, on ἔργα καλά in the Pastoral Epistles.

εὐμεταδότους εἶναι, κοινωνικούς, ready to impart and to communicate. Neither εὐμετάδοτος nor κοινωνικός occurs elsewhere in the Greek Bible, although cognate forms of the latter word are common. κοινωνικός seems to express a wider idea than εὐμετάδοτος, which is concerned only with the giving or sharing of worldly goods; there may, however, be a κοινωνία of sympathy which sometimes the rich have peculiar opportunities of shewing. He who is κοινωνικός in the fullest sense will be quick to recognise all the claims of human, and especially of Christian, fellowship. As is often the case, the larger word is placed second, by way of explanation; a kind heart as well as a generous hand is demanded of the rich. This κοινωνία is again directly connected with the doing of good works in Hebrews 13:16, τῆς δὲ εὐποιΐας καὶ κοινωνίας μὴ ἐπιλανθάνεσθε.

Verse 19

19. ἀποθησαυρίζοντας ἑαυτοῖς θεμέλιον καλὸν εἰς τὸ μέλλον, laying up as treasure for themselves [that which shall prove] a good foundation against the time to come. The thought is quite easy to understand, though expressed with somewhat inexact brevity. The idea of ‘treasure in heaven’ had already been expounded by our Lord, e.g. Matthew 6:20; Luke 18:22; and the Parable of the Unjust Steward, in particular, enforced the right use of money in view of heavenly rewards (Luke 16:9). Cp. Matthew 25:34 ff.

ἀποθησαυρίζειν occurs again in the Greek Bible in Sirach 3:4 only.

θεμέλιον καλόν stands in obvious contrast to the ἀδηλότης of riches spoken of in 1 Timothy 6:17.

ἵνα ἐπιλάβωνται τῆς ὄντως ζωῆς, that they may lay hold on the life which is life indeed. The charge to Timothy himself in 1 Timothy 6:12 was ἐπιλαβοῦ τῆς αἰωνίου ζωῆς: here, with a slight but significant change of expression (see crit. note), a like prospect is held out to those who use riches aright. A man’s life (ζωή) consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth (Luke 12:15), and the parable of the Rich Fool shews that the man ὁ θησαυρίζων αὐτῷ καὶ μὴ εἰς θεὸν πλουτῶν (Luke 12:21) shall miss here and hereafter τῆς ὄντως ζωῆς, the life indeed. This is the life ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ (2 Timothy 1:1).

Verse 20

20. ὦ Τιμόθεε. A solemn and emphatic personal address.

τὴν παραθήκην φύλαξον, guard the deposit, sc. the Christian Creed which has been committed to you in trust, to be transmitted unimpaired to those who shall come after you. You are to guard the depositum fidei with jealous care, “quod accepisti non quod excogitasti” (Vinc. Lir. Common. § 22). Cp. 1 Timothy 1:18, 1 Timothy 5:21; 2 Timothy 1:14, and (for the main thought) Judges 1:3; Revelation 3:3.

παραθήκη is only found in the N.T. again at 2 Timothy 1:12; 2 Timothy 1:14; we have it in Leviticus 6:2; Leviticus 6:4. The rec. reading παρακαταθήκη (see crit. note) does not differ substantially in meaning. Cp. Philo (Quis rer. div. haer. § 21) who in interpreting λάβε μοι of Genesis 15:9 goes on: καὶ ἂν λάβῃς λάβε μὴ σεαυτῷ, δάνειον δὲ ἢ παρακαταθήκην νομίσας τὸ δοθὲν τῷ παρακαταθεμένῳ καὶ συμβαλόντι ἀπόδος. see on 2 Timothy 1:12.

ἐκτρεπόμενος, turning away from; for the word see on 1 Timothy 1:6. Cp. 2 Timothy 3:5.

τὰς βεβήλους κενοφωνίας καὶ ἀντιθέσεις τῆς ψευδωνύμου γνώσεως, the profane babblings and oppositions of the knowledge which is falsely so called. Observe that βεβήλους (for which see note on 1 Timothy 1:9) qualifies both κενοφωνίας and ἀντιθέσεις, as is indicated by the absence of the article before the latter word.

κενοφωνία, empty talk, only occurs in the Greek Bible here and in the parallel passage 2 Timothy 2:16, τὰς δὲ βεβήλους κενοφωνίας περιίστασο; it is a forcible word for the ματαιολογία already mentioned in 1 Timothy 1:6, or for the irrelevant ζητήσεις καὶ λογομαχίαι of 1 Timothy 6:4. Cp. 1 Timothy 4:7, τοὺς δὲ βεβήλους καὶ γραώδεις μύθους παραιτοῦ. In the ἀντιθέσεις τῆς ψευδωνύμου γνώσεως some have found the Marcionite oppositions between the Old and New Testaments; but this (see Introd. chap. IV., On the heresies contemplated in the Pastoral Epistles) is to read into the text the ideas of a later age. The phrase probably alludes (to use Dr Hort’s words[534]) to “the endless contrasts of decisions, founded on endless distinctions, which played so large a part in the casuistry of the Scribes as interpreters of the Law.” These dialectic subtleties proceed from that esoteric γνῶσις or technical lore in which the Teachers of the Law revelled; a γνῶσις only to be described as ψευδώνυμος, for it has not the faith and obedience which are the necessary conditions of gaining that true γνῶσις which is itself eternal life (John 7:17; John 17:3).

The words ἀντίθεσις and ψευδώνυμος do not occur elsewhere in the Greek Bible, but are common in secular Greek literature.

Verse 20-21

20, 21. iii. CONCLUDING CHARGE TO TIMOTHY, summarising the main thought of the Epistle; cp. 1 Corinthians 16:21.

Verse 21

21. ἥν τινες ἐπαγγελλόμενοι, which some (as usual, the false teachers are vaguely hinted at, without specification of individuals) professing. For ἐπαγγέλλεσθαι see on 1 Timothy 2:10.

περὶ τὴν πίστιν ἠστόχησαν, missed their aim in the matter of the faith. See 1 Timothy 1:19; 2 Timothy 2:18 for a similar use of περί, and for ἀστοχέω on 1 Timothy 1:6, ὦν τινὲς ἀστοχήσαντες ἐξετράπησαν εἱς ματαιολογίαν. The aorist ἠστόχησαν points to a definite failure on the part of some; not, as the perfect would, to a continued ἀστοχία apparent at the time of writing. See the note on 1 Timothy 1:19.


ἡ χάρις μεθʼ ὑμῶν. See the critical note.

The ordinary conclusion of a private letter of the period was ἔρρωσο or ἔρρωσθε, as χαίρειν was the introductory greeting (see note on 1 Timothy 1:1). The Epistles of James, 1 John, 2 John have no formal ending, 2 Peter and Jude end in a doxology, and 1 Peter and 3 John with the salutation of peace (εἰρήνη). St Paul’s usage is quite peculiar; and he calls it the σημεῖον ἐν πάσῃ ἐπιστολῇ (2 Thessalonians 3:17). All his letters end with the salutation The Grace, ἡ χάρις. In the earlier letters this is put in the form The grace of the Lord [Jesus Christ] be with you. When we come to Ephesians we find that the word grace is used absolutely, and that the words ‘of the Lord Jesus,’ or the like, are no longer added. And in Colossians, 1 Timothy and 2 Timothy we have simply ‘grace (or, rather, the grace) be with you,’ and in Titus ‘the grace be with you all.’

This usage had many imitators afterwards, as e.g. the Ep. to the Hebrews which ends ἡ χάρις μετὰ πάντων ὑμῶν, and the Epistle of Clement of Rome which has the longer form ἡ χάρις τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ μεθʼ ὑμῶν κ.τ.λ. But Ignatius and Polycarp do not follow it; all their letters end with the customary ἔρρωσθε, adding words such as ἐν θεῷ πατρί, ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ and the like, which fill it with a Christian meaning.


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Bibliography Information
"Commentary on 1 Timothy 6:4". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". 1896.

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