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Ch. 6. Last Words on Apostolic Doctrine and Duty
1, 2 . Timothy’s duties in regard to slaves
The last of the four sections of special charge (commenced in the previous chapter) is Timothy’s attitude towards Christian slaves. The position taken by Christ and His apostles in regard to slavery and the whole ‘social order’ of the world is well known. The existing basis of society with its relationships was recognised; while the eternal principles of Christian equality and love were boldly proclaimed, and trusted, as the true solvents of all that was amiss between man and man in God’s own time and His own patient way of working both for the material and spiritual world.
The present teaching of St Paul, an echo of similar exhortations (Ephesians 6:5 ; Colossians 3:22 ), is in entire harmony with the Divine wisdom of the Master’s oracle ‘Render unto Cæsar the things which be Cæsar’s, and unto God the things which be God’s.’ Nothing is more wonderful in the life of Christianity than the slow gradual establishment of women’s position in the family, and of social and civil freedom in the state, in accordance with the seed-principles of Christ’s law; unless it be watching the same growth (hardly yet more than infantile), in the wider sphere of international brotherhood and the signs of a ‘Christian conscience’ stirring in the intercourse of state with state. See Appendix, J.
1 . as many servants as are under the yoke ] The position of the Greek words and their meaning are against this rendering. There would be no servants (slaves) who would not be ‘under the yoke;’ but since they were in actual position ‘under bondage’ as slaves, let them recognise facts. Render with R.V. as many as are bondservants under the yoke . ‘The yoke of slavery’ is applied metaphorically, Galatians 5:1 , to the old legal dispensation. The use of the word is derived from the old custom of making prisoners of war pass under a ‘yoke’ formed of a spear laid crosswise on two upright spears, to denote the yoke of slavery being laid upon them. The reference in Christ’s words, Matthew 11:29 , ‘take my yoke’ is rather to the yoke coupling cattle for drawing.
their own masters ] The adjective here rendered ‘their own’ is in N.T. ‘used instead of a personal pronoun by the same kind of misuse as when in later Latin proprius takes the place of eius or suus ;’ Winer, § 22, 7. As Alford on Ephesians 5:22 says, it serves ‘to intensify the relationship and enforce its duties.’ We have sixteen instances of the use in these Epistles, e.g. Titus 2:9 .
his doctrine ] Again the special teaching of the Christian religion, which would be ‘evil spoken of’ by being supposed to teach a subversive socialism.
2 . rather do them service ] Better, serve them the rather , all the more zealously.
partakers of the benefit ] The article with the participle is clearly subject; and the masters are certainly meant. But then divergence arises, Bp Wordsworth making both masters and slaves the benefactors: ‘they (i.e. the masters) who take part in the mutual good offices (between masters and slaves) are believing and beloved.’ He quotes from Thucyd. ii. 61 for this sense of the verb ‘to take hold of with a view to mutual assistance.’ Conybeare and Lewin make the slaves the benefactors, quoting from Arist. Ran . 777 for the verb ‘they who claim their slaves’ services.’ Grimm, following Chrysostom and Grotius, makes the masters the benefactors, quoting from LXX. Isaiah 26:3 for the verb ‘they who devote themselves to the kindly care of their slaves.’ So far as the usage of the verb in N. T. goes ‘to help’ ‘to succour,’ and also of the noun ‘the good deed’ (to the impotent man), Acts 4:9 and LXX., the help of the weaker by the stronger is suggested, and so the last view is borne out. Compare too the significant use of the connected noun ‘benefactor,’ in Luke 22:25 , ‘they that have authority over them are called benefactors.’ Is St Paul using a recognised synonym honoris causa for ‘lordship,’ and, with all the delicate grace natural to the writer of the Epistle to Philemon, lifting it to the height of Christian love? ‘Bid them serve their masters all the better. Masters did I say? Nay; own and requite the faith, the love, that makes them set it as their aim to be not Masters, no Brothers of Blessing.’
These things teach and exhort ] The words have more weight if held to close the whole section from 5:1 than if thought merely to refer to 6:1 and 2.
3 10 . A further warning against false Teachers. Their covetousness
From the 3rd verse to the 16th St Paul once again resumes two of the chief topics of the Epistle false teachers’ perverted doctrine, and Timothy’s own true unswerving life; in each case with a new thought, (1) of the debasing motive of traffic in godliness, (2) of the inspiring motive of the Master’s appearing. He then, vv . 17 19, gives one further direction (suggested perhaps by v . 10) of pastoral faithfulness towards the rich; and in a last abrupt and touchingly natural outburst throws himself upon his son Timothy, and gathers up all his fears and hopes on the one chiefest subject in the brief appeal of vv . 20, 21, from which he can no longer keep back the misused name of the monster evil ‘knowledge falsely named, Gnosis the Misnomer ,’ vv . 3 10, unsound teaching, especially for gain.
3 . teach otherwise ] More fully R.V., teacheth a different doctrine , but even this does not completely give the force; for the ‘different’ is not so much ‘different from what has just been laid down,’ as ‘different from the one true deposit, the creed of all my gospel and all your life;’ and helps to form the meaning now attached to heterodoxy , lit. ‘ opinions different from established truth.’ The close of the Epistle takes up the opening where this word has occurred before there has been time to lay down any teaching, 1:3. Lewin renders here ‘if any man teach what is heterodox.’
wholesome words ] Again taking up his opening phrase 1:10, where see note. Sound is the best English equivalent, if we do not stay on the most modern and ‘cant’ sense of the word, but go back to its early vigour, so as to appreciate St Paul’s contrast here with the ‘ sickly questionings’ of the false teacher, v . 4. See Appendix, K.
our Lord Jesus Christ ] This exact order of the words so familiar to us in St Paul’s other writings occurs only here and v . 14 throughout these Epistles according to the true text. An imitator would surely, as we see by the various readings so often attempted, have taken pains to make the well-known formula a marked feature. It may be also noted that the aged saint, so near the end of his ‘good fight,’ does not presume familiarly on his Saviour’s intimacy, so as to use the one name ‘Jesus’ with tripping fluency. It is still ‘Christ Jesus,’ ‘Jesus Christ,’ ‘The Lord.’ See note on 1:1.
the doctrine … according to godliness ] Two characteristic words of these Epistles combined in a phrase which might be taken as their keynote ‘Holy Truth True Holiness.’ See previous notes on the words and especially the note on the central doctrinal passage 3:16.
4 . he is proud, knowing nothing ] ‘ Puffed up ,’ R.V. The word occurs only here and 3:6; 2 Timothy 3:4 ; and goes towards composing the strong vocabulary of the Epistles: ‘filled with a blind “inflated ignorance” ’ (to quote from Dr Farrar’s strong modern vocabulary) may represent the force. The perfect expresses the state in which he is; the particular negative his relative, not absolute, ignorance, according to the tendency of N. T. usage.
doting about questions ] ‘Diseased’ or ‘mad’ on points of subtle disputation. The word in other writers has both meanings, and the opposition to ‘sound’ would hold equally good with both; but the moral responsibility for this state is clearly implied, and points rather to the former: ‘full of a diseased disputatiousness.’ For ‘questionings,’ see note on 1:4.
strifes of words ] Our own derived ‘logomachies.’ The corresponding verb occurs 2 Timothy 2:14 , ‘otherwise only in ecclesiastical writers,’ Alford.
railings ] Clearly as in Ephesians 4:31 , ‘anger, and clamour, and railing;’ Jude 1:9 , ‘durst not bring against him a railing judgment,’ not blasphemy against God, but slanderous reviling of one another.
evil surmisings ] Our ‘suspicions;’ this word again is new to N.T. usage. Altogether we have four peculiar words in this verse, puffed up, doting, strifes of words, surmisings , indicating the new region of the Church’s experience and of the Apostle’s feeling.
5 . perverse disputings ] The best attested reading of the Greek word transposes the order of the preposition, and should give us for its meaning ‘continual collisions.’ This seems the reason for the rendering of R.V. wranglings . Compare a similar compound in LXX. 2 Samuel 3:30 , and Jos. Ant . x. 7. 5.
of corrupt minds ] Lit. corrupted in mind . See note on ‘mind’ Titus 1:15 , and on ‘uncorruptness’ Titus 2:7 .
destitute of the truth ] Our ‘destitute’ has almost ceased to have its original proper force ‘deprived’ of what was once possessed; hence R.V. has rightly substituted, as corresponding with the perf. pass, participle of the Greek, bereft .
gain is godliness ] A well-known violation by A.V. of the law which places the article with the subject . The ending of the Greek noun for ‘gain’ implies rather a ‘trading,’ a ‘means of profit,’ like ‘the reaping time’ for ‘summer.’ Hence the twofold correction of R.V. godliness is a way of gain . But we lose the emphasis of the subject kept back to the end. Point is gained however in this respect by the omission (required on the authority of the best mss.) of the next clause, From such withdraw thyself . See Appendix, K.
6 . So the Pauline paradox comes out strongly; godliness with contentment is a way of gain, a great source of gain . This is spoiled by making the reference to the rewards of heaven. The thought is as in 4:8, where see the paraphrase quoted of Mark 10:30 . St Paul’s ‘way to be wealthy’ is by the limiting of our wants and the limitless realising of Christ’s presence and sufficiency; this being the inmost meaning of this word ‘godliness’ see 2:2. The adjective of this word ‘contentment’ occurs in the noble description of his own disciplined life, ‘I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.… I have all competence in Him that empowereth me,’ Philippians 4:11 , Philippians 4:13 .
So good George Herbert:
‘For he that needs five thousand pound to live
Is full as poore as he that needs but five.’ The Church Porch .
‘Teach me, my God and King,
In all things Thee to see,
And what I do in any thing
To do it as for Thee:
This is the famous stone
That turneth all to gold,
For that which God doth touch and own
Cannot for lesse be told.’ The Elixir .
7 . we brought nothing into this world ] A further reason for contentment is drawn; ‘the nakedness of our birth and death.’ Exactly, into the world .
and it is certain ] Editors are divided as to the authority for this word here: the Revisers and Westcott and Hort omit. Inclining to this view with Codex Sinaiticus, and on the ground that proclivi praestat ardua lectio , we have to render the connecting particle that remains ‘because;’ but need not adopt Alford’s strained explanation ‘we were appointed by God to come naked into the world, to teach us to remember that we must go naked out of it,’ which mars the simple sequence of thought (we should look rather to the looser usage of such particles already beginning to prevail): ‘because’ may be referred back to the contentment, and so introduce a parallel not a subordinate clause to ‘we brought,’ because too we cannot carry anything out . The verse is linked at the commencement of the Prayer-Book Burial Service with Job 1:21 , ‘The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord,’ and so illustrates further the ‘ godly content’ of the previous verse.
8 . And having food ] Rather, but ; the opposite, positive view of life. The words for ‘food’ and ‘raiment’ are both unused in N.T. except here; both are in the plural, indicating ‘supplies of,’ for each mouth to be fed, each household to be clothed.
raiment ] A rather out-of-the-way word for ‘clothing,’ if we go by the use found once in Aristotle and once in Josephus, Ar. Pol . vii. 17; Jos. B. J . ii. 8. 5: literally, ‘covering;’ and so R.V., perhaps merely to keep an unusualness of phrase. But the meaning ‘shelter,’ tent or roof-covering, has been also assigned, from the root word having a more common turn towards this; and ‘covering’ may have been chosen to include this, if not to express it alone. But the immediate context in v . 7 favours the reference to merely personal possessions such as dress.
let us be therewith content ] The verb is future passive, we shall be therewith content , as R.V.; hardly an implied exhortation, but ‘we shall, if we are godly.’ This rendering is preferable to that in the margin of R.V. ‘in these we shall have enough’ from the similar use of the passive, Luke 3:14 , ‘be content with your wages;’ Hebrews 13:5 , ‘content with such things as ye have.’ The connexion of the word with ‘contentment’ above should also be maintained.
9 . they that will be rich ] In so wealthy a city as Ephesus the temptation would be very great to the teacher to adapt his ‘wares’ of doctrine to the popular Asiatic speculations, so as to get and keep name and means; and his hearers would be equally tempted to accept such a compromise. There would be the genius loci to whisper ‘si possis, recte; si non, quocunque modo, rem;’ ‘ye know that by this business we have our wealth.’ Hence the specially appropriate warning now addressed to those that are desiring to be rich , as we must render exactly. Chrysostom’s words ‘not “ the rich ,” for one may have money and dispense it well and disesteem it all the while,’ are well quoted here. But G. Herbert’s words are still better ( Priest to the Temple , c. 3), ‘The country parson is very circumspect in avoiding all covetousness, neither being greedy to get, nor niggardly to keep, nor troubled to lose any worldly wealth; but in all his words and actions slighting and disesteeming it, even to a wondering that the world should so much value wealth, which in the day of wrath hath not one dram of comfort for us.’
temptation and a snare ] There seems no reason to depart from the usual rendering elsewhere of the phrase ‘into temptation’ as R.V. does ‘into a temptation,’ because of the words coupled with it; ‘a snare’ naturally follows, just as ‘deliver us from the evil one’ follows ‘bring us not into temptation,’ Matthew 6:13 ; it is the thought present to the Apostle’s mind at this time; see above 3:7, ‘lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil’ where the conjunction of words is very similar, and from whence some mss. have even added here ‘of the devil;’ and 2 Timothy 2:26 , ‘that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil.’ See Appendix, K.
lusts, which drown men ] The lengthened generalised relative here is properly ‘of a kind which,’ ‘which indeed naturally,’ so R.V. such as . Cf. 3:15. The simple use of the passive of ‘drown’ in Luke 5:7 , ‘they were being sunk,’ is the only other N. T. use of the verb; the noun from which it comes is used by St Paul of his (unrecorded) shipwreck, 2 Corinthians 11:25 , ‘a night and a day I have been in the deep .’
destruction and perdition ] The two words give solemnity to the idea of the ruin to be incurred, though it is too much to assign ‘ruin of body’ to the one and ‘ruin of soul’ to the other. The compound word is instinctively chosen (see v . 8) to complete the terrible picture.
Chrysostom gives many instances of these ‘snares and lusts’ in his day leading to ‘destruction and perdition.’ To the example (almost forced upon the memory by the word) from Holy Scripture itself of ‘the son of perdition’ (John 17:12 ), may well be added G. Herbert’s searching words to his brethren; ‘they, who, for the hope of promotion, neglect any necessary admonition or reproof sell (with Judas) their Lord and Master.’ The Priest to the Temple , ch. 2.
10 . the love of money ] One word in the original, occurring only here and belonging to the later Greek; the adjective in Luke 16:14 , ‘the Pharisees, who were covetous,’ R.V. ‘lovers of money,’ and so 2 Timothy 3:2 . ‘It differs from the ordinary word for covetousness (e.g. Colossians 3:5 ) (which does not occur in these Epistles) in denoting rather avarice, a love of money already gained, than an active grasping after more.’ Trench’s N. T. Synonyms , § 24.
the root of all evil ] It has been much questioned whether we are to translate this admitted predicate ‘a root’ or ‘the root.’ On the general grammatical question, such passages as 1 Corinthians 11:3 , ‘the head of the woman is (the) man,’ make ‘the root,’ quite correct; if with R.V. we render ‘a root,’ it lays a stress on there being other roots, which is beside the point: the stress surely is on the ‘all,’ interpreted however in that rhetorical sense, if it may be so called, which is common in N. T. as elsewhere (cf. v . 17), and is well given in R.V. We may translate the root of all kinds of evil . For this use of the plural we may compare ‘supplies of food,’ v . 8.
which while some coveted after ] ‘Which (love-of-money) some reaching after,’ R.V. keeping to the root-notion of the participle. The verb (and its noun) occur four times in N. T. and in each place the Revisers give a different version, 1 Timothy 3:1 and Hebrews 11:16 in a good sense; here and Romans 1:27 in a bad sense. ‘Desire,’ a colourless word, would fit everywhere, but is weak. Bp Wordsworth ingeniously explains the seemingly incongruous desire for the love-of-money thus: ‘riches were a proof of divine approbation: love of wealth was a love of God’s favour: thus they sanctified avarice .’ But the relative is only formally, logically , in agreement with the abstract. ‘love-of-money:’ all readers of A.V. or R.V. would refer the ‘which’ to the real antecedent in sense, ‘money,’ and would be virtually right.
have erred from the faith ] R.V. is justified in rendering have been led astray . The Greek aorist ‘merely represents the action of having occurred, as filling a point of past time’ (Winer, iii., xl. 45, a). When it stands by itself, as here, with no qualifying word, this force is represented by the English perfect, as giving just in our idiom the past verbal idea merely, with no further stress or point, cf. Ellicott on 1 Thessalonians 2:16 . The word occurs in N.T. again only in Mark 13:32 , ‘that they may lead astray, if possible, the elect.’ ‘The faith’ as in 1:19, where see note.
pierced themselves through ] Lat. transfigo ; only here in N.T.
11 16 . A further exhortation to Timothy. The Lord’s appearing
Timothy’s own true life and bearing are solemnly dwelt upon in contrast to the false and low; see on v . 3.
thou, O man of God ] Opposed not only to the ‘some’ of v . 10 but to the ‘any’ of v . 3. The phrase ‘man of God’ occurs also with the same reference to the ministry, 2 Timothy 3:17 , derived probably from the O. T. ministry of the prophets; cf. 2 Peter 1:21 , where the best reading, however, slightly varies the phrase ‘men spake from God;’ and 1 Kings 17:18 , 1 Kings 17:24 . It marks the high tone of this final address; and is in keeping with the full dignity of title which in both these last contrasts of the false and the true ministry is given to the great Head of the Church’s ministry (and given here only in these Epistles) ‘Our Lord Jesus Christ.’
flee these things] ‘Unsound words, and ungodly doctrine,’ ‘questionings and evil surmisings,’ ‘traffic in godliness and love of money.’ These three heads of evil, in the 3rd, 4th, and 5th to 10th verses respectively, are opposed by three pairs of contrasted virtues: ‘righteousness and godliness,’ ‘faith and love,’ ‘patience and meekness.’ In the first pair ‘the sound words,’ ‘the words of our Lord Jesus Christ,’ go to the very root of the matter as fully expounded, Romans 6:0 . ‘Baptised into Christ Jesus … dead unto sin, but alive unto God in Christ Jesus … obedient from the heart to that form of teaching … ye became servants of righteousness ,’ and 1 Corinthians 1:0 . ‘We preach Christ crucified … Christ the power of God … of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, who was made unto us wisdom from God and righteousness ’; all this being but the working out of the very ‘words of the Lord,’ Matthew 5:6 , ‘Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness , for they shall be filled.’ In the second pair ‘faith’ is as evidently the antidote to ‘ignorance,’ ‘questionings,’ and ‘disputes of words,’ as ‘love’ is to ‘envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings. In the third pair ‘patient endurance’ and ‘meekness of heart’ are well fitted to produce ‘ godliness with contentment ,’ as being the very graces to which ‘the words of the Lord’ assign the blessings of that ‘kingdom of heaven’ which is ‘godliness,’ and that ‘inheritance of the earth’ which is ‘contentment.’ ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit,’ ‘Blessed are the meek.’
meekness ] The compound word, meekness of heart , a word peculiar here, is to be read. See note on 2 Timothy 2:25 .
12 . Fight the good fight of faith ] St Paul has now mounted above the lower ground in which Timothy was to maintain the true pastor’s rôle against his rivals. ‘The faith,’ i.e. the Christian creed, the Christian life, is now a ‘fight,’ ‘a strife,’ a ‘race,’ against time and sense, earth and hell. The metaphor is the most inspiring perhaps to the Apostle himself of all his metaphors as it is also his last; see 2 Timothy 4:7 , ‘I have fought the good fight,’ ‘run the fair race.’ Taken from the Greek games, the word ‘fight’ can be only mimic fight, if it be referred to the wrestling or the boxing contest; and if, as 2 Timothy 4:7 , ‘I have finished the course’ suggests, the running contest is meant, ‘fight’ is misleading. Not much less so is Farrar’s and Alford’s ‘strive the good strife.’ But for the associations which have gathered round our familiar ‘fight,’ and which have prevailed perhaps with the Revisers, we should be surely nearest for a reader coming fresh to it with the rendering ‘contest.’ And the weighty verb, present in tense, placed at the commencement of the sentence, is better represented by Longfellow’s ‘ Be a hero in the strife’ than by keeping too close to the identity of verb and noun. We may render then, Play thou the man in the good contest of the Faith .
lay hold on eternal life ] More force is given to the intended point by R.V. the life eternal . The verb and noun recur v . 19, but the epithet is changed to ‘the true,’ ‘the real.’ (see note.) And this at once suggests to us that ‘eternal life’ is not regarded by St Paul here only as ‘the prize,’ but as also the ‘straight course’ to be now vigorously laid hold of; that ‘the life eternal’ in fact is exactly the same as ‘the life which now is, and the life which is to come’ of 4:8, where the metaphor is also of the games. See notes there. Christ is our ‘strength’ as well as our ‘right’; ‘the path’ as well as ‘the prize.’ The present imperative refers to the bearing of Timothy through the whole contest; the aorist is, as it were, the voice of the earnest friend standing at a critical corner of the course and rousing him to renewed energy, ‘now lay hold.’ What Cambridge athlete of the river or the path but knows the value of this? What Christian athlete of the heavenly course? In no way more beautifully could the view now given be expressed than in Dr Monsell’s hymn:
‘Fight the good fight with all thy might,
Christ is thy strength, and Christ thy right;
Lay hold on life, and it shall be
Thy joy and crown eternally.
Run the straight race through God’s good grace,
Lift up thine eyes and seek His Face;
Life with its way before us lies,
Christ is the path, and Christ the prize.’
whereunto thou art also called ] Properly, omitting ‘also,’ thou wast called at thy baptism, and, more particularly still, at thy ordination, cf. 1:18, 4:14. Compare the present language of the Prayer-Book; Order for Private Baptism ‘Our Lord Jesus Christ doth not deny His grace and mercy unto such Infants, but most lovingly doth call them unto Him’; the Catechism ‘He hath called me to this state of salvation,’ ‘God the Holy Ghost who sanctifieth me and all the elect people of God’; Ordering of Priests ‘Thou hast vouchsafed to call these thy servants here present to the same office and ministry.’ The direct metaphor is no longer probably continued.
hast professed a good profession ] Lit., as R.V. didst confess the good confession ; ‘the good confession’ like ‘the good contest’ with reference to its spiritual character, the faith and obedience of Christ. See next verse.
before many witnesses ] in the sight of , the word being taken up in the appeal of the next verse to ‘a more tremendous Presence’ (Ellicott).
13 . God, who quickeneth ] The word which has the sanction of the mss. points to God as Preserver of Life, rather than as Creator; but R.V. leaves quickeneth in the text because ‘ New every morning is the love Our wakening and uprising prove.’
The word is especially suitable, looking back to the charge to ‘lay hold strongly of the true heavenly life .’
before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession ] the good confession . The meaning may be either (1) ‘suffered under (i.e. in the time of) Pontius Pilate,’ and as the faithful Witness (Revelation 1:5 ) made that good confession of the Cross, and in it of His Father’s love, His own Sacrifice, which has inspired every life of witness and every martyr’s death, or (2) ‘ before (i.e. before the tribunal of) Pontius Pilate attested the good confession’ as ‘true King,’ i.e. ‘very Lord and Christ;’ this it is which the oral Gospel must have taught as the basis on which Matthew 27:11 ; Mark 15:2 ; Luke 23:3 ; John 18:33-37 were founded; this it is which from St Peter’s sermon (Acts 2:36 ) to St John’s epistles (1 John 4:14 , 1 John 4:15 ) and thence to every Ordination and every Holy Baptism has been confessed by Christendom . Though the whole passage is more than polemical, the form of ‘the charge’ is affected perhaps by the thought of that teaching which was beginning to assail the old ‘knowledge’ and creed about the person of Christ; and so the second which is the sharper, more defined, interpretation may be preferable. The later phraseology seems to take up and draw out more fully the language here, 1 John 4:14 , 1 John 4:15 , 1 John 4:3 :23.
‘Before’ of place and ‘under’ of time are equally admissible for the preposition: see note on 5:19.
14 . that thou keep this commandment ] the commandment ; this phrase in the singular or plural (as indicated above, v . 13) specially characterises St John’s first epistle and is closely linked with the confession of the true Christ: and the commandment there is ‘love’: see e.g. 1 John 3:23 . Again St Paul here, in vv . 13, 14, ‘I charge thee’ &c. Is clearly recurring to ‘the charge’ of 1:5, ‘the end’ of which is ‘ love , out of a pure heart and a good conscience and faith unfeigned.’ We have therefore no difficulty as to ‘the commandment’ here.
without spot, unrebukeable ] Both words used of persons only in N.T., elsewhere of things; the latter has occurred 3:2 and 5:7, and so A.V. apparently here refers them to Timothy; R.V. alters, giving the alliter ation and leaving open the question whether they agree with the subject or the object without spot, without reproach . The early Greek interpreters take them with ‘commandment,’ which on the whole the construction favours.
the appearing of our Lord ] At His second Advent; lit. ‘the Epiphany.’ After use in the Apostle’s earliest letters, 2 Thessalonians 2:8 , which dealt directly with the subject, the word has been dormant till now; now in each of the latest letters (here and Titus 2:13 and 2 Timothy 4:1 and 8) it shines out, as is so natural after the 15 years that have made an old man of him: ‘Surely the world too is growing old; Timothy may see His coming: yet let it be its own time no nearer, no further.’
15 . in his times ] R.V. in its own times , apparently because sometimes it must be so, e.g. 2:6; and this would point to a set meaning and quasi-adverbial use. But in Titus 1:2 inconsistently ‘his own seasons.’
the blessed and only Potentate ] The ‘only,’ without being polemical, states the grand truth positively , which is the antidote to the questionings of the heretical negations. See note on v . 13.
King of kings, and Lord of lords ] A title given to our Lord, Revelation 17:14 , as the Lamb; clearly here to God the Father an addition to the many similar proofs of the Unity of the Godhead. Cf. Pearson, On the Creed , Art. 1.
16 . whom no man hath seen ] ‘These words as compared with John 1:18 seem to prove decisively that the whole description applies to the Fath the Son.’ Alford. Between this verse and Matthew 5:8 there is no opposition, the former referring to man with his present bodily powers and iniquities, the latter referring to the ‘Beatific Vision’ as it has been thence called, the vision of heavenly glory, which was vouchsafed to St Paul, when translated into ‘the third heaven’ (2 Corinthians 12:2 ), and which will be the portion of the saints perfected and clothed upon with their spiritual bodies, after the rest of Paradise.
Verses 15 and 16 have been thought to be part of an early rhythmical Doxology.
17 19 . A last direction. The Duties of the Rich
A postscript follows, with an omitted last word for the richer classes at Ephesus. The ‘special aspect’ under which the last warning about false teachers has been viewed by St Paul, and its reflexion in the last charge to Timothy, suggests a last addition to the pastoral directions . Men and women in their general religious duties, presbyters and deacons and deaconesses in their special offices, family ties and Church charity, the existing problem of slavery, have been provided for; but the needs of a life free to ‘enjoy the world’ through the possession of wealth have been as yet untouched. St Paul will add a word of practical guidance here after the grand climax of lofty praise. It is no forger’s hand here; but the natural abruptness of old age, and of a St Paul.
17 . them that are rich in this world ] Or more exactly in the present world , this being the peculiar phrase of these Epistles equivalent to the general ‘this world.’ So 2 Timothy 4:10 , of Demas ‘having loved the present world;’ Titus 2:12 , ‘live soberly … in this present world.’ The word ‘world’ is literally ‘age,’ having original reference to time , and so denoting the physical, social, or spiritual state of things at the given time.
be not highminded ] Not as we now speak of a ‘noble highminded man,’ but as of ‘too high and mighty a bearing,’ cf. Psalms 131:1 , Prayer-Book, ‘Lord, I am not highminded: I have no proud looks.’ The compound verb occurs in N.T. only Romans 11:20 , ‘Be not highminded, but fear;’ ‘do not, because of your Christian standing, assume a lofty superiority over your “broken” Jewish brother;’ and the phrase of which it is compounded only Romans 12:16 , ‘Be of the same mind one toward another. Set not your mind on high things, but condescend to things that are lowly.’
nor trust in uncertain riches ] it is the same perfect as 4:10 and 5:5, and the substantive of character; R.V. accurately, nor have their hope set on the uncertainty of riches .
in the living God ] The ms. authority is against the adjective here, and in favour of the preposition ‘upon’ rather than ‘in,’ but on God . ‘Living’ has come in from 4:10, where (see note) it has its own appropriateness.
all things] Relative or rhetorical, not absolute; as v . 10.
to enjoy ] Lit. ‘for enjoyment’; the word in N.T. recurs only Hebrews 11:25 of Moses at court, ‘to have enjoyment of sin for a season.’
18 . that they do good ] Another of the many compound words; used however (according to the right reading) of God in providence, Acts 14:17 , ‘in that He did good;’ stronger than the ordinary word (e.g. Luke 6:9 ), and taken up in the next clause; render that they work at doing good .
rich in good works ] The riches are jewels of God’s giving, and can be best seen and best enjoyed ‘in a setting of fair works.’ The two adjectives for ‘good’ here have a distinction, but not that given by Alford; the first according to a probable derivation signifying what is ‘kind and good’ in its inner character in a man’s conduct towards others, the second what is ‘fair and gracious’ in outer expression and bearing. The two together came to be used at Athens as one phrase to denote ‘a gentleman.’ And so such a use of wealth marks ‘the Christian gentleman.’ For the second word is the one used Matthew 5:16 , ‘let your light shine … that they may see your good works,’ and 1 Peter 2:12 , ‘your good works which they behold. Compare Bp. Westcott’s definition, Hebrews 10:24 ‘works which by their generous and attractive character win the natural admiration of men,’ and his synonym Hebrews 6:5 , ‘tasted the goodness the beauty of the Word of God.’ See notes on Titus 1:16 , Titus 2:7 , Titus 3:8 .
ready to distribute, willing to communicate ] Again two peculiar compound adjectives. Cranmer’s version followed in the Offertory Sentences of the Prayer-Book has ‘ready to give and glad to distribute,’ giving also the same rendering to the second of our two words in the text from Hebrews 13:16 , ‘to do good and to distribute forget not,’ where A.V. and R.V. ‘to do good and to communicate.’ Possibly ‘communicate’ in such a connexion would have been misunderstood. The corresponding noun is rendered ‘distribution’ by A.V. in 2 Corinthians 9:13 , by R.V. ‘contribution.’ The ‘sympathy’ suggested by the margin here of R.V. is certainly implied in the word, which may be said to sum up, in itself, the unity, generosity, and practical piety of the Church, as it worked out, under St Paul (see esp. 2 Corinthians 8:9 ), that problem of ‘rich and poor together’ which the earliest impulses of ‘the faith’ had solved for the moment only by the short rule of Acts 2:44 , Acts 2:45 , ‘all that believed were together and had all things common ,’ the same word from which our ‘willing to communicate ’ comes. The root principle remains the same (2 Corinthians 8:13-15 ), and this our word conveys, though the practice was not workable for long of selling all into a common stock. G. Herbert seems to express both of the present adjectives in
‘Joyn hands with God to make a man to live,
Give to all something; to a good poore man,
Till thou change names, and be where he began.’
The Church Porch .
The Christian wealth of England is still far below such a principle; else why the ‘weariness and painfulness’ known to so many of our clergy in begging appeals for ‘good works’ of piety and charity?
19 . laying up in store ] The compound verb, again peculiar, is another example of the law of later Greek explained v . 8. Here we have the riches in the form of ‘good works’ laid away as a solid foundation in and from which the building rises. This ‘building up,’ if the full explanation of the verse given on 3:13 be sound, is of the spiritual life both here and hereafter. The rich cannot ‘lay hold of’ any true higher life, if they neglect the plainest duty, lying first and lowest, of using their wealth for ‘God who provided all.’ So in 4:8 the life is only to be grasped by spiritual ‘training.’
that they may lay hold ] The same tense and voice as the ‘lay hold’ of v . 12, and the interpretation is similar.
on eternal life ] The ms. authority is strongly in favour of the adverb ‘really’ in place of ‘eternal,’ with the article; as R.V. the life which is life indeed ; and nothing could be better than such a phrase to describe the ‘heavenly’ or ‘spiritual’ or ‘eternal’ life, in its two parts on this side and on that side the grave, as explained above on v . 12 and 4:8; ‘the life worth living.’
20, 21 . A last Appeal. The keeping of the Deposit
20 . See the summary above at v . 3. This brief résumé , at the close, of the main anxiety of the whole Epistle is like the corresponding résumé , v . 16, of the rule for widows, and v . 24 of the visitation of presbyters.
O Timothy ] Previously, and in 2 Tim., when the address is less intense and solemn, ‘my child,’ ‘my child Timothy.’
keep ] The stronger word guard . Compare 1 John 5:21 , ‘Little children, guard yourselves from idols.’
that which is committed to thy trust ] The mss. favour the simpler noun, compounded with only one preposition, here and in the only other places where the word occurs in N. T., 2 Timothy 1:12 , 2 Timothy 1:14 , the latter place being exactly parallel. What is this ‘deposit?’ it has been thought to be (1) grace for his own spiritual life, ‘the commandment’ above v . 14, (2) grace for the office of superintending the Church at Ephesus, ‘the charge’ above v . 17 and elsewhere; and these are the two subjects pressed most closely upon Timothy, next to the great, the recurring and now all absorbing anxiety , that he may have (3) grace to maintain sound doctrine; the ‘charge’ of 1:3, 18, 4:6, 16, 6:3; 2 Timothy 1:13 , 2 Timothy 1:14 , 2 Timothy 1:2 :2, 2 Timothy 1:16 . The words which follow are alone sufficient to make (3) the certain reference. In effect, to use the words quoted from St Vincent of the island-school of Lerins (the author of the famous canon of Christian doctrine ‘quod semper quod ubique quod ab omnibus’), St Paul says to Timothy ‘Depositum custodi: catholicae fidei talentum inviolatum illibatumque conserva.’
avoiding profane and vain babblings ] Lit. turning away from the profane babblings ; the article with ‘babblings’ and not with ‘oppositions ‘shews that both go together, with ‘knowledge.’ ‘Babblings is another of the ‘Pastoral’ compounds recurring in 2 Timothy 2:16 . The word is literally ‘empty voicings,’ vox et praeterea nihil, windbag; speculations and errors which are the complete opposite of the solid Church truth on its firm foundation and rock, ‘Thou art the Christ.’ For the accus. after this verb, cf. Winer, § 38, 2, 6.
oppositions of science falsely so called ] Rather, as R.V. the knowledge which is falsely so called . ‘The knowledge falsely so called’ is in the Greek the well-known Gnosis , only used here in N. T. with direct reference to the heretical teaching, though the allusions, both with substantive and verb, imply that assumptions of superior knowledge were among the claims of the new theology. The ‘oppositions’ meant are probably the dualistic oppositions between the good and evil principle, see introduction, pp. 45, 46; though some explain them as the dialectical niceties and subtle rhetorical antitheses of the teachers. See Dr Hort’s interpretation, Appendix B. This peculiar ‘Pastoral’ word goes to make the Apostle’s biting ‘aculeus in fine.’
21 . which some professing ] ‘Which,’ this misnamed Gnosis. ‘ Professing ’ has occurred in this sense 2:10.
have erred ] Lit., ‘missed the mark,’ as 1:6 and 2 Timothy 2:18 ; aorist as v . 10.
the faith ] As above, v . 10.
Grace be with thee ] ms. authority gives the plural with you , as at the end of 2 Tim. and Titus; the Apostolic benediction being sent through the delegate episcopus to his Church.
There is, of course, no sufficient authority for the Subscription, which (like the Subscriptions to the other epistles of St Paul) is ascribed to Bp Euthalius (5th cent.) and is therefore later than the best mss. The Alexandrian and Sinaitic mss. read only First Epistle to Timothy. Its statement that the letter was written from Laodicea is supposed to be drawn from Colossians 4:16 . See the paraphrase of Erasmus: ‘vicissim vos legatis epistolam quae Timotheo scripta fuit ex Laodicensium urbe.’ But Bp Lightfoot, Coloss . p. 343, gives strong reasons against this identification; (1) that St Paul had not ever been at Laodicea, indeed had been long a prisoner either at Cæsarea or Rome, when he wrote to the Colossians; (2) that Timothy bears many proofs of having been written elsewhere than at Laodicea, and of being separated by an interval of some years at least from the Colossian letter.
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the First Week of Advent