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1 Timothy 6

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This final chapter has a pungent paragraph on the reciprocal duties of slaves and masters (1 Timothy 6:1-2), stern warnings against senseless disputations and covetousness (1 Timothy 6:3-10), a beautiful admonition for the man of God to live a life worthy of the good confession (1 Timothy 6:11-12), a great Christological doxology (1 Timothy 6:13-16), instructions for the rich Christians in Ephesus (1 Timothy 6:17-19), and the final word to Timothy, concluded with a brief benediction (1 Timothy 6:20-21).

Verse 1

Let as many as are servants under the yoke count their own masters as worthy of all honor, that the name of God and the doctrine be not blasphemed.

Let as many as are under the yoke … How many were these?

It is estimated that there were sixty million slaves in the Roman Empire at the time of the writing of this letter; and it is hardly necessary to detail the facts concerning their miserable lot. Paul F. Barakman, The Epistles to Timothy and Titus (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1962), p. 68.

The ancient empire was built upon slavery, at that time a world-wide institution, recognized and practiced in every nation under heaven. That slaves formed a considerable portion of all the congregations of Paul’s day may be inferred from the extensive teachings on the subject in 1 Corinthians 7:21-24; 12:13; Ephesians 6:5-8; Colossians 3:11,22; 1 Peter 2:18 and also in 1 Corinthians 1:27-29.

The holy gospel must have been especially welcomed and appreciated by slaves who, despite being at the bottom of the social and economic ladder, were nevertheless qualified to receive the glorious promises of Christian truth. "It must have been an unspeakable comfort to the poor slave." A. C. Hervey, The Pulpit Commentary, Vol. 21, 1 Timothy (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1950), p. 118. In addition to large numbers of slaves being Christians, there is also the likelihood that some of them were even elders. "C. K. Barrett suggested that Paul may have had in mind elders who were slaves." J. Glenn Gould, Beacon Bible Commentary, Vol. IX (Kansas City: Beacon Hill Press, 1965), p. 613.

Under the yoke … There are two words in this little paragraph that carry inherent criticism of the institution of slavery. "Yoke" is one of them, and the other is "master," coming from a particular Greek word "[@despotes] (from which our "despot" is derived), meaning one who has dominion." R. C. H. Lenski, St. Paul’s Epistles … 1 Timothy (Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1937), p. 694. Nevertheless, there is no militant condemnation of slavery in the New Testament; and, of course, modern critics have been very unfair and unperceptive in commenting on this. See below:


For the apostles to have attempted to eradicate slavery "by preaching it as hateful to God and degrading to men would have produced rebellion and revolution in its darkest and most violent form; and Christ did not propose to break up such relations by violence." David Lipscomb, Commentary on 1 Timothy (Nashville: The Gospel Advocate Company, 1942), p. 176. There was also another side to the problem. If becoming a Christian had been equated with emancipation, the churches would have been overwhelmed with a flood tide of unregenerated men, seeking not Christ or holiness, but freedom from their chains, creating circumstances which would immediately have destroyed Christianity from the earth. "It would have been impossible for the Christian church to strike overtly in any effective way at the institution of slavery; but indirectly the church sounded the death knell of the institution." J. Glenn Gould, op. cit., p. 613. This was done by teaching the dignity of man, the supreme value of the individual, and those very Christian graces admonished in this chapter.

In any kind of a revolution attempted by Christians, the entire movement would not only have been crushed; but horrible and extensive bloodshed, famine, death and pestilence would have prevailed. The great principle of Christianity looking to the reform of existing social evils is that of working "as leaven," and not as "dynamite."

Count their own masters as worthy of all honor … This was the basic requirement for all slaves, upon penalty of death for violation; so the sanity of such instruction is apparent; but the new-found liberty in Christ would have tempted some, due to human nature, to despise their masters. Thus, the thought here is to the effect that Christianity makes anyone a better person, therefore a better employee, a better master, or even a better slave. And those slaves fortunate enough to have Christian masters were to be willing to extend even more and higher honor to them. Of course, the master, if a real Christian, would respond in kind, which would benefit his slaves, some of whom, no doubt, received their freedom as a result. The principle behind this was thus stated by White:

The Christian slave is to remember that the fact of his master being a Christian, believing and beloved, entitles him to better service, if possible, than that due to a heathen master … If the spiritual status of the master be raised, the quality of the service rendered is not to be lowered, but rather idealized. Newport J. D. White, Expositor’s Greek Testament, Vol. IV (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1967), p. 140.

Men may despise this ethic if they choose to do so, but it was this very thing that broke the back of the institution and lifted the yoke of slavery from the back of humanity.

The name of God … is here placed upon a coordinate basis with "the doctrine," showing the highest esteem in which the apostles held the sacred doctrine of the faith. The current downgrading of doctrine is hurtful, sinful and contrary to divine law.

Be not blasphemed … The word "blaspheme" here has its general meaning of "spoken against." As Spence pointed out:

Any action on the part of professed servants of God which gives the enemies of the Lord an excuse to blaspheme, is ever reckoned in the Scripture as a sin of the deepest dye. Compare Nathan’s words to King David (2 Samuel 12:14) and Paul’s reproach to the Jews (Romans 2:24). H. D. M. Spence, Ellicott’s Bible Commentary, Vol. VIII, 1 Timothy (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1959), p. 209.

Verse 2

And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren; but let them serve them the rather, because they that partake of the benefit are believing and beloved. These things teach and exhort.

Believing masters … By spelling out slave duties to both kinds of masters, Paul left no room to be misunderstood. See under preceding verse.

Let them not despise … Lipscomb concluded from this and the following verses that "We may justly conclude that evil-disposed persons had been teaching differently and arousing discontent and a rebellious spirit." David Lipscomb, op. cit., p. 177. It is a strange paradox of human nature that the more mild and tolerant any authority may be the less respect it is likely to command. This is not to be the attitude of Christian slaves.

Let them serve them rather … means let them serve them, if possible, with even better service.

They that partake of the benefit … as rendered here indicates the masters, who, because they are believing and beloved, should receive of this better service. Some commentators render the words differently, applying them to the slaves, who by better service may receive more considerate treatment. As a matter of fact, both interpretations are true. The principle is also applicable to all human relations and all human institutions, regardless of their desirability. Christianity pours in the oil that lubricates and improves even the most unsavory situations.

Verse 3

If any man teacheth a different doctrine, and consenteth not to sound words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness;

The character in view here would be denounced in the most vehement language in the next verse; but this description of the one to be denounced should be carefully noted.

Different doctrine … The very fact of a doctrine’s being new to the New Testament is enough to condemn it. Paul’s opinion of "new ideas" in the realm of theology was simply to the effect that their advocates were both evil and "sick." As Stibbs put it:

There is a contrast here between teaching which is "healthful" and teachers who are "sick" (see the English Revised Version margin (1885)). Teaching is continued as "sound" or "wholesome": (1) by having Christ as its author and (2) by the God-fearing conduct of the teacher. A. M. Stibbs, The New Bible Commentary, Revised (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1970), p. 1175.

Lenski denied that this verse has primary application to the false teaching leading to the insubordination of slaves; but Spence felt that this may be allowed:

There is little doubt that some influential teaching, contrary to St. Paul’s, on the subject of the behavior and disposition of slaves was in the apostle’s mind when he wrote 1 Timothy 6:3 and 1 Timothy 6:4. H. D. M. Spence, op. cit., p. 209.

Verse 4

he is puffed up, knowing nothing, but doting about questionings and disputes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings,

This is a rather salty speech! A glance at the way various translations have rendered this is interesting:

He is blinded with conceit and really knows nothing, but is crazy with discussions and controversies about words, - Richard Francis Weymouth.

He is a conceited idiot! His mind is a morbid jungle of disputation and argument. - J. B. Phillips.

He is a conceited, ignorant person, with a morbid craving for speculations and arguments - Edgar J. Goodspeed.

He is a conceited, ignorant creature, with a morbid passion for controversy and argument - James Moffatt.

As Gould remarked, "This is about as close to invective as the apostle ever came!" J. Glenn Gould, op. cit., p. 614. Of course, as we have already seen, any overt assault upon the established institution of slavery in ancient society would have been an unqualified disaster for the world; and the sheer insanity of any who might have advocated it shines in this passage. Of course, other forms of senseless argument and disputation were also likewise condemned.

Verses 5-6

wranglings of men corrupted in mind and bereft of the truth, supposing that godliness is a way of gain. But godliness with contentment is great gain:

Bereft of the truth … "Bereft implies that they once had had possession of the truth, but had lost it by their own fault." A. C. Hervey, op. cit., p. 120. Thus, these were not outside agitators who were disturbing churches, but were good apples gone bad.

Supposing that godliness is a way of gain … This applies to all who misuse sacred work for secular profit or personal benefit; but the implication is also inescapable that this relates to the slave problem. If the false teachers were advocating emancipation as a corollary of salvation, then indeed godliness would have been great gain; and there is the strongest possibility that there are echoes of that position here. Turning quickly to the counterpart of his truth, namely, that in one sense godliness is indeed great gain, he wrote the next line (1 Timothy 6:6).

Verse 7

for we brought nothing into the world, for neither can we carry anything out;

"There are no pockets in shrouds" is one of the oldest proverbs; and Paul, by these stern words, warns against the temptation to make any kind of worldly gain the sum and all of one’s life. "A man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he hath," said the Saviour (Luke 12:15).

Verse 8

but having food and covering we shall be therewith content.

Food, clothing and shelter are the three basic needs of mankind; and all three are included here. "The use of the word COVERING here seems designed to favor this double application." Ibid. Whoever, therefore, has food to eat, clothes to wear and shelter from the elements, with something left over for the aid of others is RICH! As Gould said, "This is a rigorous standard," J. Glenn Gould, op. cit., p. 616. and by it, there are a great many rich people.

Verse 9

But they that are minded to be rich fall into a temptation and a snare and many foolish and hurtful lusts, such as drown men in destruction and perdition.

Paul used two metaphors in this verse to describe the people whose minds are set upon becoming rich. They are caught in a "snare," in the sense of a trapped animal, which once captured is unable to recover itself. The other is that of an exhausted swimmer who is drowned in the flood.

They that are minded … is also translated "they that desire to be." The people here condemned are not merely the rich, specifically, but those whose desire and intention are focused upon that one thing. This does not decry lawful ambition and application in one’s work. White said:

What is here condemned is not ambition to excel in some lawful department of human activity, which indeed may bring an increase in riches … but the having of a single eye to the accumulation of money by any means. Newport J. D. White, op. cit., p. 143.

Destruction and perdition … "The two words taken together imply the utter ruin and destruction of body and soul," A. C. Hervey, op. cit., p. 121. being the double disaster brought on by the foolish and hurtful lusts by which the seekers of riches destroy themselves.

Verse 10

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil: which some reaching after have been led astray from the faith, and have pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

The thought of this verse is parallel with 1 Timothy 6:9; and again, it is not the possession of money, but the love of it and the pursuit of it, which are condemned. The old King James Version, of course, rendered this "root of all evil"; but the American Standard Version (1901) has hardly improved it. As White said of this rendition, "It is hardly satisfactory." Newport J. D. White, op. cit., p. 144. True, making money the root of "all evil" seems a little extravagant to some; but, again from White: "When one is dealing with a degrading vice of any kind, the interests of virtue are not served by qualified assertions." Ibid. The old rendition that "the love of money is the root of all evil" appears to be exactly what the Greek says; and, if going beyond the truth a little in the allowance that there are SOME "evils" not attributed to the love of money, the expression stands anyway as hyperbole, a metaphor used by all of the sacred writers.

Pierced themselves through with many sorrows … This is the same thought of being drowned in destruction and perdition, mentioned in 1 Timothy 6:9.

Verse 11

But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.

Barakman has an interesting homily based upon the following outline of the next two verses, thus:

The fact that a man has been called of God and is equipped for service by the gift of the Holy Spirit does not eliminate the necessity for strenuous effort. He must:

"Flee …" (1 Timothy 6:11). One of the best influences is a pair of heels.

"Follow …" To flee is not enough, being only negative; the positive counterpart of flight is following the Lord.

"Fight …" (1 Timothy 6:12). Whatever metaphor Paul had in mind, whether athletic or military, one phase of Christian living is certainly that of … active resistance to evil.

"Lay hold …" (1 Timothy 6:12). Salvation is freely offered, but it must be grasped. This is a term which means "take hold once for all."

"Keep …" Excavations at Pompeii found the body of a soldier buried alive because no one came to relieve him at his post of duty. A similar faithful endurance to death is indicated by this. Paul F. Barakman, op. cit., p. 79.

White observed that the six virtues enumerated in this verse contrast with the six vices in 1 Timothy 6:4,5, but that "we cannot arrange them in pairs of opposites." Newport J. D. White, op. cit., p. 145.

O man of God … The force of this is very great. The word "man" is not that distinguishing the male from the female, but the word which encompasses all. It means the person worshipping and serving God, as contrasted with the money-lovers just denounced.

Flee … That is, flee from the pursuit of money; turn away from it; put it out of sight. As White well said, "the love of money in ministers of religion does more to discredit it in the eyes of ordinary people than would indulgence in many grosser sins." Ibid.

Verse 12

Fight the good fight of the faith, lay hold on the life eternal, whereunto thou wast called, and didst confess the good confession in the sight of many witnesses.

The military metaphor was a favorite of Paul’s; putting on the whole armor of God, enduring hardness as a good soldier, and many other references are made to it in his epistles.

Lay hold on the life eternal … But was not Timothy already saved? Indeed he was, but the New Testament makes it starkly clear that fidelity on the part of Christians is also required of them if they really hope to enter heaven at last.

Whereunto thou wast also called … All men are called in the sense of being objects of God’s invitation to receive eternal life; but, as so frequently in the New Testament, "a call" means one answered and responded to; and so it was with Timothy. The time of his conversion is clearly in mind here, as the immediate reference to "the good confession" proves.

And didst confess the good confession … White properly discerned this obvious reference to Timothy’s baptism, thus:

In the primitive church, the baptism of an individual was a matter in which the church generally took an interest and part … This explains the "many witnesses" of Timothy’s good confession. Ibid., p. 146.

Harvey also agreed that "this seems to point clearly to his baptism," adding that "The good confession in view here is that of Christ himself confessing himself the Son of God (Mark 14:62), which is analogous to the baptismal confession of Acts 8:37 (KJV and ASV margin)." A. C. Hervey, op. cit., p. 122.


Why is this called the good confession twice in a single short paragraph?

1. It is the good confession because Christ made it, under oath (Mark 14:62), the same being the legal charge upon which our Lord was condemned to be crucified (John 19:7). Christ made it and died for making it, in order that men might make it and live.

2. It is the good confession because God himself made it three times, speaking out of heaven in broad open daylight, namely, (1) at the baptism of Christ (Matthew 3:17), (2) at the transfiguration (Matthew 17:5), and (3) when the Greeks came to see Jesus (John 12:28).

3. It is the good confession because all men, evil and righteous alike, shall at last make the good confession (Philippians 2:11). Since all must make it EVENTUALLY, why not make it in this life and be saved?

4. It is "unto salvation," as also clearly appears in this verse (Romans 10:10). It is a vital part of the plan of salvation.

5. Christ himself will confess those who make it, that occasion being, in all probability, the time when the redeemed have their names written in the book of life. See full exegesis on this in my Commentary on Matthew, pp. 142,245.

6. It has been made by the saints of all ages. Nathaniel made it (John 1:49), Peter made it (Matthew 16:16), Timothy made it (1 Timothy 6:12), Nicodemus made it (John 3:2), Thomas made it (John 20:28), Judas who betrayed him made it (Matthew 27:4), the judge who tried him made it (Matthew 27:24), Pilate’s wife made it (Matthew 27:19), the centurion in charge of his execution made it (Matthew 27:54), and the greater thief on the cross confessed him (Luke 23:42).

7. The same is true of the angels, and of demons. The night he was born, the angels of heaven said, "Behold there is born to you this day in the city of David a Saviour which is Christ the Lord" (Luke 2:11); and the demons said, "What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the Most High God?" (Mark 5:7). Heaven, earth and hell all have one word of Jesus Christ, "He is the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth, the Son of God Most High."

8. The good confession is "good" because it is a summary of all Christian doctrine. Everything depends upon this, the rock of our salvation. It is the profoundest fact revealed in Scripture, and yet, paradoxically, it is easily understood. Like the mighty ocean, it has shallows where a child may play, and great deeps that have never been fathomed.

Verse 13

I charge thee in the sight of God, who giveth life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed the good confession;

I charge thee in the sight of God … This is the way Paul began a number of his numerous "charges" to Timothy. The word "charge" carries with it the meaning of an official order, one to be carried out at any cost.

Who before Pilate witnessed the good confession … Some of the critical writers made a big to-do over what they call contradictions in the gospel records of the "confession" Jesus made, some recording it in one form, others in another. It should be remembered that that was an "all night" trial. The questioning went on for hours, during most of which Jesus remained silent. Now and again he gave answer, but only when the question was so stated that his answer would be in full harmony with his divine will. When the question propounded came in one form, he replied, "Thou sayest"; but when finally, presumably about daybreak, the high priest himself put the question in such a manner as to allow one of his great "I AM" answers, Jesus did not hesitate to answer it. See Mark 14:61,62. See homily above on "The Good Confession."

Verse 14

that thou keep the commandment, without spot, without reproach, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ:

The commandment … As Lenski said:

Some think the word is called "commandment" because the gospel commands men to repent; but the New Testament shows clearly that the gospel itself is called the commandment because its preaching, teaching and inculcation were enjoined upon the apostles (Matthew 28:20ff). R. C. H. Lenski, op. cit., p. 721.

Without spot, without reproach … Hervey noted that some commentators are uncertain whether these terms should be applied to Timothy’s conduct or to the gospel; but they are true either way. The view here is that they are a reference to the kind of life Timothy was enjoined to live in his preaching of the gospel.

The appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ … This is a reference to the Second Advent of our Lord, all Christian endeavor being carried forward with constant respect to this eventual Coming. There is nothing here to the effect that Paul expected it to occur in his lifetime.

Verse 15

which in its own times he shall show, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords;

All of the commentaries consulted by this writer unanimously refer these words to God; but despite the reluctance to disagree with those of great learning, it must in conscience be done here. The expression "King of kings and Lord of lords" occurs nowhere else in the Bible, but one so nearly like it as to be held identical is found in Revelation 19:16; and the belief here is that the word of God is always the best comment on the word of God. The passage in Revelation leaves no doubt whatever that Jesus Christ, wearing "the garment dipped in blood," is the KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS in that passage; and thus there is no impediment to holding the same as true here. After all, in the Greek New Testament, Christ is called "God" no less than ten times, not including this passage. See comment on this in my Commentary on Hebrews, p. 31. See also Revelation 17:14.


In this survey, we shall classify some of the Scriptures relating to the kingship of Jesus Christ, inquire as to his credentials for such authority, explore the extent and duration of his kingdom and examine some of the symbols under which that kingship is presented in the Bible.

1. Classification of Scriptures regarding the kingship of Jesus. From the moment of our Lord’s birth when he was acclaimed by the wise men until he was nailed up to die under an inscription that cited him as King, Jesus Christ during his earthly ministry was everywhere and always a KING. The Bible is absolutely filled with this conception. Isaiah foretold the COMING king; John the Baptist preached the APPROACHING king; Paul proclaimed the CRUCIFIED king; and the apostle John extolled the ENTHRONED king. There are four definite groups of Scriptures which set forth the kingship of Christ.

A. There are those that speak of him as the king of the Jews:

Wise men came from the East to Jerusalem, saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? (Matthew 2:1,2). On the cross, "They set up over his head his accusation written, THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS" (Matthew 27:37).

The soldiers who mocked him taunted him by saying, "If thou art the King of the Jews, save thyself" (Luke 23:37).

Nathaniel hailed him thus, "Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel" (John 1:49).

B. Another class of Scriptures proclaims the universal, world-wide dominion of Christ, claiming for his kingdom all the nations of the earth and the uttermost parts of it.

The second Psalm has this:

I have set my king

Upon my holy hill of Zion.

I will tell of the decree:

Jehovah said unto me, Thou art my son;

This day have I begotten thee.

Ask of me, and I will give thee the

nations for thine inheritance,

And the uttermost part of the earth

for thy possession (Psalms 2:6-8).

The prophecy of Zechariah likewise emphasized the universality of the reign of Christ, thus:

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion;

shout, O daughter of Jerusalem; behold

thy king cometh unto thee; he is just

and having salvation; lowly and riding

upon an ass, even upon a colt, the

foal of an ass. And I will cut off

the chariot from Ephraim, and the

horse from Jerusalem; and the battle

bow shall be cut off; and he shall

speak peace unto the nations: and his

dominion shall be from sea to sea, and

from the river to the ends of the

earth (Zechariah 9:9,10).

C. A third class of Scriptures mentions Jesus as the possessor of a kingdom. Thus, in Matthew’s judgment scene, "Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come ye blessed, etc." (Matthew 25:31-34), the King in this passage being clearly "the Son of man." Others of this class are:

I appoint unto you a kingdom, even as my Father appointed unto me, that ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom (Luke 22:29,30). Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom (Luke 23:42).

D. The fourth class stands apart, because they extol the kingship of Christ in language overwhelmingly superlative, making it seem that the very capacity of language as a vehicle of thought is strained in order to carry the significant conception of Jesus Christ as King. Some of these are:

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there shall be no end upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from henceforth even forever. The zeal of Jehovah of hosts will perform this (Isaiah 9:6,7).

In addition to this are the passages here in 1 Timothy 6:15, and the passage in Revelation 19:16.

The vision of Christ in Revelation portrays him as a mighty King, indeed the mightiest of all ages, followed by the armies of heaven, crowned with many diadems, arrayed in a garment sprinkled with blood, and with the sharp sword proceeding out of his mouth. "And he has on his garment and on his thigh a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords" (Revelation 19:16). Previously, John had seen a vision of the bitter forces of evil hurling their full strength against the Lord; but, he said, "The Lamb shall overcome them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings; and they also shall overcome that are with him, called and faithful and chosen" (Revelation 17:14).

Corroborating this exalted view of the kingship of Christ are the words of our Lord himself, who declared that "All authority in heaven and upon earth hath been given unto me" (Matthew 28:18).

2. What are the credentials of such a King as this? As a matter of obvious fact, Jesus Christ is King by every possible right. Hebrews 1:2,3 lists no less than seven basic credentials of King Jesus:

He is King by right of inheritance (Hebrews 1:2).

He is King by right of creation (Hebrews 1:2).

He is King by right of personal excellence (Hebrews 1:3).

He is King by virtue of identity with deity (Hebrews 1:3).

He is King by right of maintenance (Hebrews 1:3).

He is King by right of purchase (redeemed us from sin) (Hebrews 1:3).

He is King by right of office (Hebrews 1:3).

Christ has sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high. His kingship is a fait accompli; he is no mere candidate for the throne. He is now ruling and shall continue to do so until all enemies are put under foot. Even this is not all. Christ is King by right of conquest. Through death he defeated Satan (Hebrews 2:14). He conquered death, hell and the grave. Yes, Christ is King by every conceivable right which men have recognized as the basis of such authority.

Thus, we may exhaust the considerations that enter into the right of a king to rule, and in all of them, and in a thousand others unknown to us, there must be seen, invariably, the right of the King of kings and Lord of lords to rule over all men and all nations and over all things visible and invisible throughout the entirety of God’s total creation.

3. Christ is therefore King in every department of life, every department of the material creation, and in every department of the spiritual universe, and in all these things throughout all time to eternity, or until Christ shall render back the kingdom to God (1 Corinthians 15:28).

A. Christ is King of the universe. "All things" were made by him (John 1:1f). "He is before all things, and in him all things consist" (Colossians 1:17). This great King lifted up the continents from the ocean floor, hurled the suns in space, spread out the heavens above; and yet his care extends even to the smallest of his creatures, not even a sparrow falling to ground without his concern (Matthew 10:29).

B. He rules in the kingdoms of men. Nebuchadnezzar was sentenced to eat grass with the beasts of the field for seven years in order to teach him the lesson that this King exalts over the nations of men whom he will (Daniel 4:25). The dominion of this King is therefore without any limitation whatever.

4. We shall now view briefly some of the symbols by which the kingship of Jesus is emphasized in the Scriptures. These are thrones, crowns, swords and scepters.

A. Thrones. These are said to be the ancestors of all chairs. In ancient societies, only the king sat. The throne of Solomon is described in Scripture as a magnificent elevation, ascended by six steps, with a lion on each side, and also a lion on each side of the six steps, fourteen lions in all, for "the Lion of the tribe of Judah." Michael Feodorovich, grandfather of Peter the Great, had a great throne, ornamented with 8,000 turquoises, 1,500 rubies, and many other gems. The throne of England is a gothic chair occupied by the queen upon the occasion of the opening of Parliament. The throne of Christ, of course, is no material device of ivory or gold. He reigns upon the throne "of his father David." It is exalted forever in the heavens, and the enthronement is spoken of by an apostle as his resurrection from the dead (Acts 2:30,31). The throne of Christ is established as a spiritual reality in statements like these: "He has prepared his throne for judgment" (Psalms 9:7), and "And his throne is upheld by mercy" (Proverbs 20:18). The New Testament has this: "Let us therefore draw near with boldness unto the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy, and find grace to help in time of need" (Hebrews 4:16).

B. Crowns. Some of the most glamorous baubles on earth are such historic crowns as those of James I at Edinburgh, the iron crown of the Lombards at Monza, the crown of Victoria in the Tower of London, and the crown of St. Stephen at Vienna; but Jesus also has a crown. True, he wore the thorn crown in his Passion, but even that is more precious than all the crowns ever fashioned from gold and jewels. The crown of Christ is that of eternal life, the crown of righteousness, the crown of glory, the crown of omnipotence, the crown of victory over every enemy, even death, and the crown of eternal and universal authority. These are the "many diadems" (Revelation 19:12). No earthly crown may be compared to the diadems of Christ.

C. Swords. In Revelation, the great King is portrayed with a sharp sword proceeding out of his mouth (Revelation 19:15), the sword being the word of God. During his earthly ministry, Jesus once asked for a sword, but never carried one. His true sword is spiritual, namely, his word. This is the "sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17). Christ needs only to speak, and it is done. By his word, he created the worlds; he came from heaven to bring the word of salvation to men; his word shall raise the dead and assemble the men of all ages to the assize of the Great Day; his word shall enter the righteous into glory and banish the wicked forever. Wherever was there a sword to be compared to the sword of Christ?

D. Scepters. The scepter is another royal symbol ascribed to the Christ. "The scepter of uprightness is the scepter of his kingdom" (Hebrews 1:8). One may still see, here and there on earth, the scepter of some ancient monarch, and a few modem ones; and there are vestiges of this device in such things as the mace carried by the sergeant-of-arms at the opening of Parliament, and in the batons of the marshals of France. In the book of Esther, it is the scepter of King Ahasuerus which figures prominently in the mercy extended to Esther. He extended the scepter, which had to be touched by the supplicant, before mercy could be given. In a similar manner, God, through Christ, extends the scepter of Christ, which is his righteousness; and as many as touch shall be made whole.

Verses 16-17

who only hath immortality, dwelling in light unapproachable; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honor and power eternal. Amen.

These words, as applied to the Lord Jesus Christ, are obviously spoken of his eternal and glorified state; because, as regards his earthly ministry, of course, men could and did see him. That it is impossible for men to see him at the present time is a fact of wide theological implications. What of all the saints of the historical church, to whom prayers are even offered, especially of the blessed Mary? Can she deliver any petition to the King? Indeed, no! The word for "man" here means "no human being"; and, therefore, no departed saint can either approach or see the King.

Verse 17

Charge them that are rich in this present world, that they be not highminded, nor have their hopes set on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;

This paragraph indicates that the church had affected society more widely in Ephesus than it had at Corinth, of which Paul wrote "not many mighty, not many noble, are called" (1 Corinthians 1:26). Newport J. D. White, op. cit., p. 148.

There were evidently a number of rich Christians in Ephesus, a fact also suggested by the fact of some of the Asiarchs being solicitous for Paul’s welfare at the time of the riot in that city (Acts 19:31). Such indeed would have been the source of strong temptation to a young man like Timothy. Paul, however, knew his man, being very sure that Timothy would live up to the trust committed to him. His attitude must have been similar to the following poetical description of it:


I cling to faith and honor still

As flying years recede,

Assured that within the Father’s will

That I shall live indeed

When life with joy and sorrow ends,

Probation done at last.

I thus accept whate’er he sends

Of sun or stormy blast.

Despite temptation strong and wild,

And nagging doubts inside,

I know I am the Father’s child,

For whom the Saviour died.

Nor fears, nor doubts, nor taint of sin

Shall shake my confidence

Or kill the certainty within

That trusts God’s providence.

Some infinite design was his

When every life began;

And though such boundless mysteries,

No human eye can scan,

The mind of faith may comprehend

What only angels know,

And always on the Lord depend

For guidance here below.

The sun, the moon, the stars, the sea

The Father’s will obey;

Then why should man suppose that he

Alone may choose his way?

Then let the way of God be mine

Forever and a day;

And let his will and purpose shine

Within my life alway!

- James Burton Coffman

The uncertainty of riches … Paul’s disparagement of wealth in this passage is fully consonant with the teachings of Jesus who called it "the unrighteous Mammon," that is, a false God which people worship. For a list of reasons why wealth is dishonest, or unrighteous, see my Commentary on Luke, p. 349. It is not that the rich must be presupposed to have acquired wealth by dishonorable means, because this is by no means true; rather the thought is that money itself is wicked, and one of the wicked things about it is that it tempts people to trust in it, the very vice which Timothy was here cautioned against.

God who giveth us richly all things to enjoy … All wealth and all possessions are of the Lord. Those who are blessed with such things should thank and honor the Lord for their blessings. Paul next laid down some rules for the wealthy, showing how they may use their wealth for their own eternal welfare, as well as for the blessing of others.

Verse 18

that they do good, that they be rich in good works, that they be ready to distribute, willing to communicate;

The wealthy have many opportunities to do good, but how often such opportunities are allowed to go unnoticed or neglected. Especially if the fruits of wealth are consumed upon lustful and idle pleasures, it sometimes follows that the good men might have done is simply not done.

Again, there is a remarkable suggestion in this verse of the book of Hebrews, which has this: "Do good, and to communicate forget not" (Hebrews 13:16).

The contrast between the two instructions seems to be this: "distribution" refers to the distribution of funds that the rich might make personally to men in his presence, or community; whereas "communicate" refers to monies supplied to philanthropies or distant recipients, such as missionaries, with whom communication would be involved. Both terms undeniably apply to the giving of one’s money to support worthwhile Christian endeavor of all kinds.

Verse 19

laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on the life which is life indeed.

Laying up in store … This is exactly what we should have expected the author of 1 Corinthians 16:2 to have written; and here is the obvious meaning of "both" references. The one doing the "laying" is the Christian, from "lay by HIM in store." The words "for themselves" identify both Scriptures as being related to the words of Christ, "Lay up FOR YOURSELVES treasures in heaven" (Matthew 6:20).

A good foundation against the time come … The eternal benefit accruing to the giver was likewise stressed by Christ himself in Luke 16:9, which furnishes elaboration to what Paul said here. The foundation is vital, fundamental and necessary for whatever is contemplated.

Verses 20-21

O Timothy, guard that which is committed unto thee, turning away from the profane babblings and oppositions of the knowledge that is falsely so called; which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace be with you.

Guard that … is one of the needless revisions in the American Standard Version. As Hervey said, "GUARD for KEEP is hardly an improvement. The meaning for keep is to guard, keep watch over and PRESERVE." A. C. Hervey, op. cit., p. 124.

Profane babblings … This does not refer to teaching that was poorly spoken, outright blasphemous or nonsense. No, this is the apostolic evaluation of the most sophisticated heathen teaching of that generation, as indicated by "knowledge that is falsely so called," which balances and explains it. These entire two verses, according to White, may be considered "a summary of the whole epistle." Newport J. D. White, op. cit., p. 150. Hardly any passage in the New Testament has any more relevance for our own generation than does this one. This is the time of the utmost arrogance, pride and conceit of haughty boasters who are shouting in deafening tones from every cultural center on earth that they "KNOW." This is the Neo-Gnosticism of the 20th century. What they profess to know is a lie. Man did not evolve from lower life forms. It does not lie within man to direct his steps; and before the phenomenon has disappeared, the proof of the Scriptures will again be profoundly demonstrated.

Have erred concerning the faith … As Lenski said:

This warning is not directed to Timothy as though he might lose the faith but is a warning that Timothy is to address to the membership of the churches. (This applies also) to other warnings found in this letter. R. C. H. Lenski, op. cit., p. 735.

Grace be with you … This very brief benediction is quite similar to the one which concludes the book of Hebrews.

You … here is plural in the Greek, indicating that the meaning of it here is identical with that in Hebrews where it is rendered "you all." As Gould said, "It is evident that he has the entire church at Ephesus in mind when he pens his parting benediction." J. Glenn Gould, op. cit., p. 622.

Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 6". "Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bcc/1-timothy-6.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.
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