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Bible Commentaries

Bell's Commentary on the Bible

1 Timothy 6

Verses 1-10

  1. CONTENTMENT! (1-12)
    1. CONTENTMENT & WORK! (1,2)
    2. Slavery – 60 million slaves! (1/2 the population of the empire)
      1. It was economic rather than racially motivated. [They became slaves by war or poverty]
      2. It was an effective system for Rome. [how else would Rome have achieved such economic, political, & military might?]
      3. It was also a corrupt system. [humans were mere property to be used or abused]
      4. Q: If a slave became a Christian how should they act?
        1. Should they stop serving their master? Not submit? Strike back? Take up arms against the empire?
        2. The answer was not in rebellion but in submission!
    3. Paul didn’t emphasize individual rights but individual responsibilities.
      1. His chief concern?...the glory of God!
      2. Paul saw a different status for master & slave, but demanded a change from both!
      3. Though we no longer have slavery, we all have to deal w/authority!
        1. {a} Submitting to authority is difficult. Rebellion is so much more fun & adventurous. We are a country born out of revolution, independent thinking & living.
        2. {b} It is difficult working for someone you don’t respect.
        3. {c} There is a time to resist authority. If being asked to deny God’s moral standards.
    4. Vs.1 deals with Non-Christians in authority over us; & vs. 2 deals with Christians in authority over us.
      1. (1) Treat them w/respect; work hard for them; do your assignment well; be honest.
        1. Paul says a slave’s attitude & quality of his or her work will preserve a good reputation for Christianity.
      2. Q: Do you work for an unbeliever? Some are people of integrity; others are bad-tempered or play favorites. Some give Christians a hard time.
        1. Paul says regardless of their attitude honor them by doing your best job!
      3. Christian employees: Work is not a venue for in your face evangelism(though talk about your faith a appropriate times). Being the best employee will probably give the most opportunities to share the gospel than if you slough off.
        1. Keep your spiritual fire stoked, so it will continue to burn evening the coldest work environment! (Chuck Swindoll; pg.128.)
      4. (2) Q: What if your boss is a Christian? Don’t disrespect them. Serve them all the more(because we are of the same family).
        1. Don’t think that your boss should treat you differently because you are a Christian.
        2. Bosses – Model the behavior you expect from them. And, don’t promote a lazy Christian in your company just because they are a Christian. [What will the other harder working employees think?]
    5. Teach & exhort these things - This reminds us that we’re under God’s authority.
      1. Personal integrity must accompany doctrinal integrity.
      2. You can spend hours analyzing 1 Cor.13 on love, & yet still not “love one another”!
        1. If we truly submit to God’s Word, it will show up in the way we live & work!
      3. Q: In what sphere of life do you have the most difficulty w/someone in authority over you? (work, church, home, school, civil authorities)
      4. Q: What will be your remedy? Will you change your attitude, or work habits? Will you talk to your superior? Share your concerns? Speak the truth…in love? (Chuck Swindoll; pg.129.)
    6. CONTENTMENT & GODLINESS! (3-6)
    7. (3-5) These have an inflated opinion of themselves.
      1. Read J.B.Phillips vs.4,5.
      2. Q: Ever meet this person? (They don’t want to discuss truth or godly living, but instead just cause division)
    8. Gain – note gain in both vs.5 & 6.
      1. So isn’t there any rewards in godliness?
      2. Genuine Christian faith brings great gain when coupled w/contentment.
    9. Contentment = Let’s start with what it is not.
      1. It is not Laziness or selfishness. It is not complacency.
      2. It is not “Winnie the Pooh in the 100 acre wood, after polishing off a whole jar of honey, & then plops himself down against a tree for a sticky, satisfying nap.” (Swindoll)
      3. It is an attitude of mind, independent of externals, & dependent only on God. (Shepherd’s Notes; pg.36)
        1. Godliness w/contentment is independent of one’s bankbook & possessions. (Barton, Veerman, & Wilson; pg.122.)
        2. It is recognizing the sufficiency of what we have.
      4. Phil.4:11-13 “I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
      5. Our goal then?...Have a genuine relationship w/Jesus(Who is our only source of real contentment) & have a healthy detachment from material things.
        1. Ps.23:1 “The Lord is my shepherd I shall not be in want(lack)”
      6. If a person is content you won’t hear them always saying, “Someday I will____” (have a new house, or be a such & such, etc.)
      7. If a person is content they won’t be eaten up w/envy over someone else’s achievements or ministry’s growth.
      8. If a person is content they are truly grateful for what they have. {a thankless person makes a poor Christian!}
      9. Contentment – On one occasion Diogenes the philosopher, while sunning himself, is said to have had an interview with Alexander the Great, who opened the conversation with “I am Alexander the Great.” The philosopher answered, “And I am Diogenes the Cynic.”Alexander then asked him in what way he could serve him. “You can step out of my sunlight,” the philosopher replied.
        1. Alexander is said to have been so struck with the Cynic’s self-possession that he went away remarking, “If I were not Alexander, I should wish to be Diogenes.”
    10. CONTENTMENT & POSSESSIONS! (7,8)
    11. If our contentment lies in wealth or any other earthly possession, we’re in for a big disappointment.
      1. Why? Because we came into this world carrying nothing, wearing nothing, & owning nothing. So Job said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked shall I return.” Job 1:21
      2. The sons of Korah said, “For when he dies he shall carry nothing away”. Ps.49:17
      3. Solomon added, “As he came from his mother’s womb, naked shall he return, To go as he came; And he shall take nothing from his labor Which he may carry away in his hand.” Eccl.5:15
      4. You’ve heard them all: “Ever see a hearse w/a trailer hitch?” “Ever see a shroud with pockets?” “Souls can’t tote luggage” “Or the one about the guy who was able to smuggle in some gold & when the angels saw it they asked why he brought Asphalt with him?”
    12. (8) Mt.6:19-34
    13. CONTENTMENT & RICHES! (9,10)
    14. Hear the warnings here, because there are no warning signs along the path to riches! (Philip Towner)
      1. Prov.15:27 “He who is greedy for gain troubles his own house”.
      2. Happiness is not based on money and the greatest proof of that is our family! -- Christina Onassis
        1. See Eccl.5:10-12.
    15. (10) Money itself is not the problem; our attitude toward it is.
      1. Money is amoral, neither good nor bad.
      2. It’s not what we have but what has us!

Verses 11-16

  1. Intro:
    1. Quote the Perfect Husband!
      1. Book – Thanks, good job, & we seek to honor & better equip you.
      2. Pray for Dad’s – Empower by Spirit to be men you want them to be.
        1. Grant desire to be a faithful disciple of Jesus.
        2. Walk in Christ. Live in Christ. Work as unto Christ.
        3. May their home be a place of refuge where they renew there strength.
        4. Most fathers are willing to die for their children – but most aren’t willing to live for them!
  2. FLEE, FOLLOW, FIGHT, & FASTEN! (11-16)
    1. Following orders!
      1. We’ve all have given orders, & all have followed orders.
      2. To the Toddler, “Get out of the street!” “Don’t pull kitty’s fur!”
      3. Sometimes there’s time for discussion; other times, “just do it because I said!
      4. Following orders can even save your life!
        1. They might only be one word! – “Duck!” “Move!” “Watch out!”
    2. All of God’s Word is instructive, but it instructs in a variety of ways!
      1. These can be divided into Precepts & Principles. (Chuck Swindoll; pg.139)
      2. Principles are broader. Require more digging. They address the “gray areas”.
        1. Principles help us to answer questions like: “How much should I be in the world in order to evangelize the lost?”
        2. “When do I step over the line of enjoying my freedom & begin abusing it?”
      3. Precepts are direct moral commands. They are black & white.
        1. 10 commandments. Jesus’ Great commission.
        2. They call for a response of obedience.
        3. To disobey is serious consequences.
    3. This section Paul Packs with Precepts!
      1. Flee, Follow, Fight, & Fasten onto…& we cannot confuse them!
    4. How appropriate for today, “But you O man of God!”
      1. Moses, David, Samuel, Elijah, & Elisha was called “man of God”.
      2. It refers to, “one who is in God’s service, represents God, & speaks in His name.”
    5. FLEE! Sometimes the bravest thing to do in the Christian life is run away!
      1. Paul isn’t elevating cowardice! – It’s a spiritual Strategy!
      2. Did Jesus ever have to flee? (As a babe to Egypt) (Naz synagogue)
      3. Paul? – in Acts, they let down the city wall in a basket. (9:25)
      4. Here it means, flee the bad doctrine, greed, & so on. (3-10)
        1. Present Imperative indicates a continuing action!
        2. “Keep on fleeing these things; make it a habit, a lifestyle.”
      5. Didn’t Paul say to the church in Ephesus, “having done all, stand”?
      6. [a] When tempted…Flee!
      7. [b] When attacked from Satan for being right…Stand! (John Gershner)
      8. Fleeing is what saved Joseph(Potiphar’s wife) [no reason to stay & reason]
      9. Not Fleeing is what killed Samson(instead he enjoyed those late night couch sessions with De-liar/Delilah & Jay Leno!)
        1. [Dating couples…flee that “late-night couch fellowship”]
        2. Indulge in “sanctified flight”! {Kent Hughes}
    6. The 6 virtues describe the lifestyle of balanced spirituality that ought to characterize a Christian.
    7. Some are content in their Christianity with just fleeing godlessness!
      1. Running from wrong is only half the plan for godliness. We must also Run toward what is right!
    8. FOLLOW! Pursue. (lit.) to hunt.
      1. The 6 virtues describe the lifestyle of balanced spirituality that ought to characterize every Christian.
        1. These produce a life well spoken of on earth & heaven.
      2. The Christlike life doesn’t just happen! - It’s deliberate. It requires focus, discipline, & a dependence on the One who himself possess all those traits. (Chuck Swindoll; pg.141)
      3. John Stott – “We are simply to run from evil as we run from danger, & to run after godliness as we run after success. That is, we have to give our mind, time & energy to both flight & pursuit.”
    9. FIGHT! - Funny, right after the exhortation toward “gentleness” he tells us to fight! – Contradiction? No!
      1. Different from 1:18 – (i.e. to fight as a soldier)
      2. Here, the Greek word carries the idea of “contending for a prize in the Olympic games.”
      3. Athletic competition requires discipline, training, & movement toward a specific goal (here the tape is…eternal life).
      4. This shows that our faith is going to be at least a struggle for the truth of the gospel. [lit. “agonize the good agony”]
      5. Fight through what? - Fight through the tears at the graveside that are in the shape of question marks; Fight through that debilitating illness; Fight through that seemingly needless handicap; Fight through that severe frustration with your mate; Fight through the business decisions that went from bad to worse; Fight through your anti-Christian professor; Fight through the medias bombardment upon your mind; Fight through religious rationalism disguised as up-to-date Biblical scholarship; Fight through your doubts, fears, weaknesses, ulterior motives. Ok, but how???
        1. Rom.8:27 “we are more than conquerors, through Him…”
        2. Luther had to lean on Jesus with his mental & emotional struggles! - Spurgeon had to lean on Jesus with his Gout! – Fanny Crosby with her blindness! – Richard Baxter with all his illnesses which gave him “a holy earnestness”.
      6. And what do we fight with?
      7. 1st Weapon = Godly living.
        1. The most convincing apologetic of our Christian faith is its life-changing power.
        2. Pretentious talk w/o godly walk is an arrow w/pretty feathers, but a blunted point. (J. Sidlow Baxter; pg.253)
        3. Our 1st weapon is Christlike behavior.
      8. 2nd Weapon = confess that good confession in the presence of many witnesses. (12b)
        1. We must speak forth our confession of our faith otherwise we are like a noble statue. Beautiful but dumb. (Ibid; pg.253)
      9. Fight the good fight of faith…which some have strayed from(10, 21)
    10. FASTEN! Lay hold. (lit.) to get a good grip on.
      1. Eternal Life – is our motivation to stay in the fight! To keep contending for the faith.
        1. He doesn’t mean “save yourself Timothy”!
        2. He means get a grip on eternal kind of living, Timothy!
          1. “Grab it for all its worth, live it to the full!”
        3. Grab on(fasten on), & don’t stop grabbing! – Like a Pit-Bull; not like a weak-handshake. It’s that grip you see when the stuntman jumps & grabs onto the helicopters rail as it leaves the building. (seize it, & let it seize you up!)
      2. In contrast to Cain, Nimrod, Lot, Esau, Samson who lived only for the life that is now. – They tried to “lay hold of the temporary life!”
        1. 1st - Lay hold of Jesus and you lay hold of eternal life!
        2. “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”
        3. Then, get a grip on that eternal kind of living.
          1. Like a man dying of thirst who grabs the rescuers water bottle with a death grip.
          2. Like a man who just found a buried treasure.
          3. Like a drowning man who lays hold of the rescuersrope as his life-line.
      3. Story - Years ago a small boat capsized not far above Niagara Falls. 2 men were left struggling against the strong, downward current. A thin rope was flung out, & both managed to grasp it. Then a large log came floating by, & one man let go the rope to grab the log – it looked so much more substantial. Soon log & man were swept over the Falls; but the man who clung to the rope was saved.
      1. It is that thin rope of faith which saves; you hold at this end, the Savior pulls at the other.
    1. KEEP! (13-15)
    2. (13) Strong Charge w/a double witness!
      1. Jesus’ good confession before Pilate was his model!
    3. (14) Keep – Like Robertson McQuilkin’s poem, “Mourning in the hollow chambers of memory, Gazing on the faded banners of victories long gone. Cannot I run well unto the end? Lord, let me get home before dark.”
      1. This commandment –
    4. (15,16) A majestic Benediction! – Praising God’s Sovereignty.
      1. Though your calling might be intense & immense, the God who calls you is far greater, & He will enable you to do it.

Verses 17-19

    1. CONTENTMENT & CHARACTER! (17-19)
    2. So what if you are already rich? How do you view your wealth?
    3. A rich person might be tempted to be arrogant toward the poor, or to make wealth the hope of one’s life. (Shepherd’s Notes; pg.40)
      1. See your possessions as belonging to God & given by Him for His Glory & our enjoyment.
    4. Enjoy? – Tell me what you think of this Yacht? Show Octopus
      1. “Octopus” the world’s Largest Yacht. It stretches 414’.
        It cost over $200 million. Permanent crew of 60. It takes 10% or $20 million a year to operate.
      2. It has 2 heliports; 7 tenders/smaller boats aboard(1 is 63’); 10 man submarine; a remote control vehicle for crawling the ocean floor.
      3. Owned by Paul Allen the Internet Entrepreneur. He is worth $20 Billion. 3rd richest man in America(7th in the world).
        1. What’s your reaction to that? I say, “enjoy it Paul!”
      4. God wants you to enjoy His gifts!
      5. And use these gifts for the good of others.
      6. Display His character in how you handle money!
    5. Ready to give, willing to share – Same thing?...nope.
      1. The 1st demands a liberal sharing of their wealth.
      2. The 2nd says this act must spring up from internal generosity.
      3. Here’s a heart test on how you are doing with finances?
        Q: What’s your 1st thought when a windfall blows your way? “What can I get, or What can I give?”
        1. There’s more contentment in helping than in hoarding; In releasing, than in keeping!
      4. “It is more blessed to give than to receive” said Jesus…& He ought to know!!! Acts 20:35
    6. Their 2-fold outcome:
      1. [1] The giver lays up eternal treasure for the coming age.
      2. [2] The giver lays hold of eternal life here & now.
      3. Contentment isn’t found in a place; its’ in a person! Be rich in Christ!
    7. (17) – trust in the living God - Since all-night talker Larry King had heart surgery, he has received letters and gifts. No letter has affected him as much as one he received Monday. With a Bible was the following message, dated December 31: "Dear Larry, I'm so glad to hear that everything went well with your surgery. I want you to know that God was watching over you every minute, and even though I know you question that, I also know that one day it will be revealed to you. My prayer is that you remain open and God will touch your life as He has mine. Once I was a disbeliever. When I could not fill my life with basketball, I would simply substitute sex, liquid drugs, or material things to feed my internal shell-like appearance. I was never satisfied. I have finally realized after 40 years that Jesus Christ is in me. He will reveal His truth to you, Larry, because He lives." It was signed by Pete Maravich. Tuesday, Maravich, former college basketball and NBA luminary, died. -- The Toledo Blade

Verses 20-21

    1. GUARDING & AVOIDING! (20-21)
    2. “Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care.” (NIV)
    3. GUARD!
      1. Trust – παραθήκη [paratheke] a deposit, a trust or thing consigned to one’s faithful keeping (Strong, J. (1996). The exhaustive concordance of the Bible : (electronic ed.) (G3866).)
        1. When it was demanded back, it was a sacred duty to hand it back in its entirety.
      2. (Barclay) Sometimes children [in Roman society] were called paratheke, a sacred trust.
        1. If the gods gave a man a child, it was his duty to present that child trained & equipped to the gods.
        2. We are not only the possessors but also the trustees of the faith!
          1. Whatever we have received from God we must return to him.
      3. You have a deposit, the pure faith of the gospel, to guard & invest!
        1. See 2 Tim.1:12b(same word used, “committed”).
      4. St. Leo (5th Century) What is meant by “committed/deposited”?

        That which is committed to thee, not that which is invented by thee;

        That which though hast received, not that which thou hast devised; A thing not of wit, but of learning;

        Not of private assumption, but of public tradition; A thing brought to thee, Not brought forth of thee; Wherein thou must not be an author, but a keeper; Not a leader but a follower; Keep the deposit!
      5. We have received gold, & we must render gold!
    4. AVOID! – guard by avoiding.
      1. Stay focused on the deposit. Preach the Word; deliver the gospel.
      2. Just test the counterfeit currency up against the true currency.
    5. Grace – the very thing the false teachers came to rob, steal & destroy!
      1. Oh guard the truth of God’s good Grace Saints.
        1. It is the universe’s richest treasure!
Copyright Statement
These files are the property of Brian Bell.
Text Courtesy of Calvary Chapel of Murrieta. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 6". "Bell's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cbb/1-timothy-6.html. 2017.