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Bible Commentaries
1 Timothy 6

Contending for the FaithContending for the Faith

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Arndt, W.F. and F.W. Gingrich. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. Chicago: Illinois: The University of Chicago Press, 1957.

Barnes, Albert. Barnes’ Notes on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Kregel Publications, 1962.

Bernard, J.H. The Pastoral Epistles, Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges. Cambridge: The University Press, 1899.

Bloomfield, S.T. The Greek Testament with English Notes. Vol. 2. London: Longman, Brown, Green and Longmans, 1855.

Coffman, J.B. Thessalonians, Timothy, Titus and Philemon. Austin, Texas: Firm Foundation Publishing House, 1978.

Fairbairn, P. Commentary on the Pastoral Epistles. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1956.

Hayes, D,A. Paul and His Epistles. New York: The Methodist Book Concern, 1915.

Kent, Jr., H.A. The Pastoral Epistles. Chicago: Moody Press, Chicago, 1958.

MacKnight, J. Apostolical Epistles. Nashville, Tennessee: Gospel Advocate Company, 1954.

Thayer, J.H. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. American Book Company, 1886.

The Zondervan Parallel New Testament in Greek and English. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Bible Publishers, 1975.

Thompson, F.C. The New Chain Reference Bible, King James Version, B.B. Indianapolis, Indiana: Kirkbride Bible Co., Inc., 1964.

Vine, W.E. The Epistle to Timothy and Titus. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1965.

Wigram-Green. The New Englishman’s Greek Concordance and Lexicon. Lafayette, Indiana: Associated Publishers and Authors, Inc., 1982.

Verses 1-2

Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed. And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren; but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit. These things teach and exhort.

Paul begins by addressing the relationship of the Christian slave to his master, whether believing or unbelieving. By showing respect for his unbelieving master, the slave can prevent a negative reflection on God. His respect for the believing master is founded upon the principle of love within the community of the saints.

Let as many servants as are under the yoke: Paul was speaking to Christians under servile conditions. The word "yoke" (zugon) is used metaphorically of any burden or bondage, referring here to slavery.

count their own masters worthy of all honour: The unbeliever’s rank as master calls for proper esteem because of his position in society. The liberty one has in Christ does not give him the freedom to be less diligent or less faithful in service to a master. The master-servant relationship was a dominant factor in the social order of that day. The teachings and actions of the converted would have a massive impact on the social structure and the reputation of the Christian faith. Paul, therefore, spoke frequently and specifically about the master-servant relationship. (See 1 Corinthians 7:21-24; Ephesians 6:5-9; Colossians 3:22-24; Titus 2:9-10; 1 Peter 2:18-19.)

that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed: Paul did not want the actions of the converted servant to bring undue discredit to the faith. The scriptures have often revealed concern about actions by God’s own causing evil words against God’s name (2 Samuel 12:14; Isaiah 52:5; Ezekiel 36:23; Romans 2:24).

The word "blasphemed" (blaspheemeo) means to speak reproachfully, to be spoken against, or to speak evil of another. (See Romans 3:8; Romans 14:16; 1 Corinthians 4:13; 1 Corinthians 10:30; Titus 2:5; and 2 Peter 2:2.) Paul urges servants to so behave as not to gain the reputation of being disrespectful and insubordinate. Liberty in Christ did not exempt them from all civil responsibilities. Fairbairn paraphrases the thought by saying that Christians should "beware of abusing their liberty in the gospel imagining that their spiritual calling and privileges entitled them to spurn the outward restraints under which they lay, and disregard the duties of their station" (231).

Christianity influences every aspect of our lives, but it does not remove differences of rank. Rather than eliminating these differences, the Christian faith encourages a person to attend to secular necessities more conscientiously. The decision a Christian makes in situations not inherently evil or condemned should be made so that the Christian faith will not be spoken against in an evil manner.

The principles Paul sets forth in his discussion of the servant-master relationship are applicable to the employer-employee relationship today. The Christian dare not exploit the word of God to escape responsibilities in his job because such brings scandal to the faith. The degree to which a co-worker listens to one’s testimony concerning spiritual things may depend upon the Christian’s conduct and his handling of responsibilities in earthly relationships.

And they that have believing masters: Paul senses the prospect of a believing servant dwelling on his spiritual equality with his master to the point of becoming bitter for not having the same equality in other spheres of life. Envy and jealousy have often found fertile soil for growth, even in bonds less demanding than the servant-master relationship.

let them not despise them: The word "despise" (kataphroneo) means to belittle or disdain (1 Timothy 4:12). Paul urges the servant to avoid such an attitude because both servant and master are of the same spiritual womb or birth.

because they are brethren: The converted bond servant should not have disdain or think less in his heart of his master in work and rank because he is a fellow Christian. That spiritual relationship--and the love inherent in it--should provoke the servant to be the more diligent in his labor.

but rather do them service because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit: Building upon the foundation that spiritual ties do not nullify other relationships, even among Christians, Paul urges the servant not to act "as if the spiritual equality had effaced the civil distinction; but the rather serve them, because they who receive the benefit are faithful and beloved" (Fairbairn 232). Paul does not suggest to give less service to the unsaved; rather, he gives more reason for one’s service to the saved. His manner here is not corrective but intensive; that is, he encourages the servant to "do the more."

The use of the word "rather" contrasts "let them not despise them" and "do them service." Instead of using their spiritual relationship as a basis for less devotion, they should use it as a motivation for greater devotion. (See Ephesians 5:4.) As MacKnight paraphrases, "Wherefore, let them serve their masters more diligently, because they who enjoy the benefit of their services are believers and beloved of God" (462).

In this section of the letter, Paul sets forth the influence a spiritual bond has in fleshly ties. Although that bond does not nullify the fleshly arrangement, it does mandate the type of attitude one should possess. It is interesting to note that Paul gives instruction to the master in a servant-master relationship when he writes to Philemon regarding Onesimus. Paul encourages Philemon (verse 16) to be considerate toward Onesimus who had become a brother. Philemon’s relationship changed significantly toward Onesimus subsequent to the servant’s conversion. In both his writings to Philemon and Timothy, Paul shows that one’s decision and actions should be influenced by the consciousness of his spiritual position.

These things teach and exhort: The message Paul delivers to Timothy by the written word was to be given to others by instructive discourse and to be enjoined by exhortation. It is always profitable to teach the contents of the written word soundly and to urge that the teaching and its implications be obeyed.

The word "teach" (didaske) is also used in 1 Timothy 2:12; 1 Timothy 4:11; 2 Timothy 2:2, and the word "exhort" (parakalei) in 2 Thessalonians 3:12 and Titus 2:15.

The two opening verses of this chapter give a specific reason for the proper conduct of the Christian in whatever state he should find himself. The reason was concern for the faith. It is concern for the gospel and its reputation growing out of a love for Christ that is the great mover of right behavior. Paul’s admonition to honor the unbelieving master and his warning not to despise the believing master are prompted by concern for the faith. Any age will suffer great loss in spiritual mooring when men are unwilling to deny themselves for the sake of the gospel.

Verses 1-21


Since the whole of 1 Timothy is rich with practical exhortation, it is only fitting that the concluding section of this epistle contain more punctuated urgings and warnings from the Apostle Paul. Throughout most of his writings, Paul reveals a consistent pattern of presentation; typically, he has a greeting, keynote, thanksgiving, doctrine, and practical application, followed usually with concluding greetings and business.

In this sixth chapter, Paul urges Timothy to exhort others regarding various topics of concern while encouraging him to give personal heed to his own conduct and teaching. With his divine wisdom, Paul highlights areas in Timothy’s life that need attention. His writings became apostolic support for Timothy’s preaching and should be the very content of the church’s teaching today. The intense personal admonition Paul gives to Timothy can be expected since the banner of the Cause is being passed from an apostolic figure to a non-apostolic figure.

As he concludes this letter, Paul touches on a series of prevalent but miscellaneous issues. While there are ties between the verses, the whole of the message does not seem to be tightly interwoven. Part of the message is personal admonition to Timothy regarding his Christian character and his steadfastness as a minister of the gospel. He also gives general admonition to the Christian, emphasizing what should be considered of "great gain" while warning of the danger of following after riches. In that context Paul reminds Timothy of the benefits of "laying up in store ... a good foundation." The lasting merit of the chapter is Paul’s instruction about Christian living that so many in the world of that time--and this--had surrendered.

Paul addresses three groups of people and divides them into two categories each as he gives the admonition in this chapter: (1) slaves, both those with unbelieving masters and those with believing masters; (2) teachers, including false teachers with improper motives and wrong sources of authority for their beliefs and sound teachers with proper motives and divine authority as a basis of truth; (3) wealthy, both those who desire wealth and those who have wealth with all of its attendant responsibilities. These groupings can serve as memory keys that can help in remembering the contents of the chapter.

Verse 3

If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness;

If any man teach otherwise: Beginning in this verse through verse 5, Paul addresses the nature of false teachers who subscribe not to "wholesome words." Such teachers, he points out, have suspect character and distorted perceptions, and their labor creates strife. Their goals become selfish gain rationalized by the perversion of the truth. When one does not assent to healthy doctrine and opposes the truth by false teaching, irrelevant topics, and empty platitudes, he should not be given opportunity to do evil.

It is not uncommon to find Paul warning against false teaching. His warnings in this context include his prior teaching regarding the master-servant relationship, but his admonition--as is common with Paul--takes on a more general nature. Paul recapitulates what he had touched on in the opening of the epistle: warnings against error in teaching. It was because of such teaching, in fact, that Paul urged Timothy to stay in Ephesus (1 Timothy 1:3). (See 2 Corinthians 11:4 and Galatians 1:6).

and consent not to wholesome words: The word "wholesome" (hugiainousin) conveys the idea of sound expression and thought. (See Luke 5:31, 1 Timothy 1:10, Titus 1:13, and 3 John 1:2.) Vine explains that "while it signifies the essential character of the doctrines of the faith and of the words of God, it also intimates their healthful effect upon the believer in maintaining his soul in holiness and purity" (19). (Other teaching regarding sound doctrine can be found in 2 Timothy 1:13; 2 Timothy 4:3; Titus 1:9; Titus 2:1.)

even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ: The words of Jesus Christ are wholesome words that should be accepted by all whose desire is to please Him. It would be a huge error to exclude Jesus’ words in a study of the New Testament by saying they were spoken prior to the cross. Furthermore, it would be wrong not to recognize that the authority of Jesus Christ is expressed by more than the words He spoke while on earth. All of the teachings of Christ while on earth, before the cross as well as after it, as well as words penned by the New Testament writers through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, are included (John 14:25-26; John 16:12-13). Fairbairn explains that "the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ" do not necessarily mean those spoken by him directly but "such as bear upon them the stamp of His authority" along with His own, including those of His divinely commissioned apostles and evangelists (233). Truth is determined by the authority of Jesus Christ and by the words inspired by the Holy Spirit, not by the intellect of man (see also Matthew 7:29; Matthew 15:9; Matthew 17:5.)

and to the doctrine which is according to godliness: The truth founded upon the health-building words of Jesus Christ and his apostles always focuses on godliness; that is, holiness and piety toward God (Acts 3:12). H.A. Kent, Jr. says that godliness "describes one’s attitude and conduct as measured by God’s standard. Godliness is a manner of life which properly reverences God" (103).

Verse 4

He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings,

He is proud, knowing nothing: The unsound teacher combines wrong motives for teaching with an improper view of himself; thus, he creates confusion in his attempt to assess what is spiritually significant. All kinds of divisive behavior and unrest will be found when these unsound teachers are permitted to arrest the attention of others. Being blinded by pride and moved by conceit (1 Timothy 3:6), their perceptions are highly unreliable. They respond only to their own needs, and they allow their imaginations to control (2 Corinthians 10:5).

knowing nothing: This expression denotes one who is "a fool" (Barnes 1160). Paul indicates that such a false teacher does not know the nature of religion as he thinks he does nor does he know himself, and he uses the strongest language available to convey this ineptitude.

but doting about questions and strifes of words: "Doting" (noson) signifies to be ill, whether it be physically or mentally. Such is Paul’s image of the false teacher’s obsession or morbid preoccupation for things that do not aid holiness, except in his own mind. He loves to debate or dispute questions (zeteseis) over semantic trivia and create a war of words over empty matters (1 Timothy 1:4; 2 Timothy 2:23; Titus 3:9).

whereof cometh envy: "Envy" (phthonos) is "discontent with another person’s superiority or advantage; it desires merely to deprive another of what he has; jealousy also desires to have the same or similar thing for itself" (Vine 93). Envy is always evil (See Matthew 27:18; Romans 1:29; Galatians 5:21; and 1 Peter 2:1.) In contrast, jealousy does not always have an evil connotation.

strife: "Strife" (eris) is one’s expression of enmity by quarrelling, contention, and wrangling. The word is rendered "debate" in Romans 1:29, "contentious" in 1 Corinthians 1:11, and "variance" in Galatians 5:20.

railings: Paul accuses these teachers of "railings" (blasphemia) or slanderous speech injurious of a good name.

evil surmisings: "Evil" surmisings are rooted in an evil heart filled with supposition and suspicion. The unchecked imputing of others’ motives also falls into this category.

The behavior of questioning, raising irrelevant issues, and being drawn to make much of nothing was common among these teachers not grasping the role of the law and the gospel. The reason for such behavior was pride, a deeper problem and one that all men must check. "The symptoms of this disease of pride," Kent says, "are listed by Paul. Questionings, warring over words, envy, strife, blasphemies, evil suspicions, constant wrangling--these are the indications of men proud of their schemes and intellect" (192-193). Paul’s feelings and convictions about such men are extremely strong as his characterization is almost vituperate in nature.

Paul noted these teachers on several occasions (1 Timothy 1:7; 2 Timothy 2:14; 2 Timothy 2:23; Titus 3:9.)

Verse 5

Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.

Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds: These false teachers, corrupt in their outlook, were incessant in their wrangling. Their perpetual frictions proceeded from polluted and perishing minds (2 Timothy 3:8; Ephesians 4:17), bereft of truth.

and destitute of truth: The word "destitute" (apostereo) means to rob or defraud (1 Corinthians 6:7-8). These men had no truth for it was taken from them by the sins committed. They were in a state of deprivation regarding truth but not because it had not been available or possessed. They once had known the truth but had become defectors (1 Timothy 1:19). Vine points out that "The corrupting of the mind and the loss of the truth are to one another as cause and effect" (93).

supposing that gain is godliness: These false teachers viewed godliness as a means of self-gain. They believed they were so worthy they should gain from it. After just declaring that slaves are not to use their Christianity in seeking social advancement, "he proceeds to give a warning against heretical teachers who, by their example, would encourage the idea that godliness is a way of gain" (Bernard 93). No age has a monopoly on such men. Fairbairn explains that "there have never been wanting those who suppose godliness to be gain, considered it as a lucrative concern, and profess it only in so far as they find it serviceable to their worldly interests" (234). These men were teaching so that they could draw money from their followers and use the gain on their own lusts. Paul, in Philippians 3:19, says that the god of such men is their own belly.

The practice of using Christianity for personal gain continues to this very hour to come in many forms. It is amazing how some men who appear God-conscious are rampant in their efforts to exploit heaven. True men of God have never used the gospel to exploit others (3 John 1:7).

from such withdraw thyself: This phrase should be studied from other passages since it is not explicitly stated in some of the original manuscripts. Nestle’s Interlinear Greek-English New Testament does not include this phrase, nor do several translations.

Verse 6

But godliness with contentment is great gain.

In contrast to using godliness as a means of personal gain, Paul asserts that godliness is gain forever because it creates contentment. It gives man the proper perspective about things now and prepares him for the world to come. With this attitude a Christian can pray with a full heart of thanksgiving after struggling through a difficult month and still be very thankful to God for what has been provided. In Philippians 4:11, Paul expresses the true attitude the Christian will possess: "Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content." The word "content" (autarkeia) suggests that which is "adequate" and is translated "sufficiency" in 2 Corinthians 9:8. Vine explains that "the corresponding adjective autarkes, ’content,’ which is found only in Philippians 4:11, expresses exactly what is here set forth, and marks the apostle as himself an example of what he now indicates" (94). Kent writes, "The word autarkeia (from autos, self, and arkeo, suffice, be content) signifies a satisfaction or sufficiency in oneself, not connected with outward circumstances" (194).

Ironically, the false teacher would use godliness for gain while never receiving the gain of godliness. (See Proverbs 30:8 and Proverbs 15:16.) Poverty or wealth is not the key, but the spiritual blessings that come through godliness. The gain of godliness is contentment. A man who cannot be satisfied with what he has would never find it possible to be satisfied with what he wants (Ecclesiastes 5:10-11). MacKnight writes, "If the common translation is retained, the meaning will be that godliness makes a man contented, whatever his circumstances are; consequently it is great gain" (463).

Verse 7

For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.

Paul builds his case on the common realization that we came into this world with nothing and we can take nothing with us when we leave this world (Job 1:21; Psalms 49:17; Ecclesiastes 5:15; Matthew 6:25; Luke 12:15). The only gain that is significant must pertain to the spirit. Thus, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Paul settles the issue that godliness is gain. How troubled are our days from things that add not one iota to true life and distract from the real nature of our days on earth (Matthew 6:31-33).

Verse 8

And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.

After pondering what he brought into the world and what he shall take out of it, man should be content with nourishment and covering. The word "food" (diatrophe) means nourishment and sustenance, while the word "raiment" (skepasma) refers to covering. Arndt and Gingrich and MacKnight agree that the term includes anything that serves as protection, chiefly clothes but also including shelter or lodging.

The verse emphasizes that the Christian should be content with necessities. Thus, some object to the idea that including shelter is putting more than is intended into the passage. According to Cambridge Greek Testament, etymologically, the word "raiment" might include shelter as well as clothing; however, he emphasizes that shelter is an inappropriate idea here. "Food and raiment," he says, "are the two indispensable conditions of life, although the true zoe (life) is more than those (Matthew 6:25)" (Bernard 95). We recognize on the one hand some kind of shelter is necessary, while we also realize the passage cannot be permitted to introduce any kind of shelter man might desire to rationalize.

The writer’s instruction in Hebrews 13:5-6 is to "be content with such things as ye have" because the Lord is our helper. The Lord’s provision and His assurance are fully designed to maintain our contentment. The fears of life are frequently the result of being undisciplined materially. The godly will be disciplined by God’s word, and it is only by faith that he will observe that what is not, really is, and that what is, really is not. Hence, he will not be distracted nor distressed by things not essential to his well-being.

Verse 9

But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.

But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare: This verse notes that some will grasp for wealth. The words "they that will" indicate people of great and strong resolve, and the affections of such people are set on riches. Paul warns that those who have such desires will be overcome by sin and trapped by their search for gratification. They will be drawn to error, act unwisely, and suffer injury. Their end will be one of ruin and destruction.

and into many foolish and hurtful lusts: The word "foolish" indicates unwise (Titus 3:3) and beneath human dignity. "Hurtful" (blaberos) indicates that which is harmful and injurious. The indulgent soul will be faced with immediate evil. The resolve for wealth will cost a man any grounds for a plea of innocence (Proverbs 28:20).

which drown men in destruction and perdition: The end can be only ruin and utter loss. Destruction (olethros) means ruin (see 1 Corinthians 5:5; 1 Thessalonians 5:3; 2 Thessalonians 1:9). The word "perdition" means ruin, loss, or destruction. The word (or forms of it) is rendered "destruction" in Matthew 7:13, "waste" in Matthew 26:8, "die" in Acts 25:16, "damnable and damnation" in 2 Peter 2:1; 2 Peter 2:3. Such a picture of the end result of one with an inordinate resolve for wealth could only be drawn by divine insight, for no human could ever see such evil and grief in the desire for wealth.

Verse 10

For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

For the love of money is the root of all evil: A hard path awaits those who resolve to be rich because they ignore that the love of money promotes and provokes all kinds of evil. He who stretches forward to riches is faced with a constant immersion in grief. It is true that other passions produce evil; but what evil will those desiring wealth refuse?

Paul is not saying that love of money is the only source of evil. Vine points out that "There are other passions which are productive of evil; yet there is no sort of evil which the craving for wealth may not induce" (96). Fairbairn writes, "The sentiment is, that there is no kind of evil to which the love of money may not lead men, when it once fairly takes hold of them" (239).

which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith: The Bible declares the way of the sinner is hard, and the hardness of that path is never more evident than in regard to the man who would be rich. Paul explains in verses 9 and 10 that their craving for riches results in falling into temptation, becoming trapped, having senseless desires arise, being drowned in destruction, and being led astray to ruin and tortured with many griefs.

and pierced themselves through with many sorrows: The word "pierced" means to torture one’s soul with sorrows. "Sorrows" (odunais) means grief. Kent states, "Pangs of conscience, disillusionment, spiritual unrest, and many other unhappy accompaniments are the product of this course of life" (198). How different life is now and how different life will be in the hereafter for those who lay up treasures for themselves in contrast to those who will be rich toward God (Luke 12:21).

Verse 11

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

But thou, O man of God: Many writers consider this verse as the beginning of Paul’s epilogue. The term "man of God" is not a technical title but probably is not as general as its usage in 2 Timothy 3:17. Paul’s statement there that "the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished to every good work" applies to every Christian, but here it takes on the added significance of prompting Timothy to realize he had been entrusted as a messenger of heaven. The Old Testament often pointed to a prophet with this terminology (1 Kings 12:22; 1 Kings 13:1; 1 Samuel 2:27).

flee these things; and follow after righteousness: The pursuit of holiness involves a constant process of fleeing and following. There is a pattern of avoidance and pursuit. Paul instructs the Romans to "Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good" (Romans 12:9; also see 2 Timothy 2:22). Paul approaches this topic in other epistles as a process of putting off and putting on. What better way to flee evil than by being busy with good. Habitual behavior is not changed by mere resistance, but by replacement with a right response to fill the void of the stopped action. There is no better way to flee evil than by pursuing good.

righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness: Possibly, we have before us three pairings, the first pair being "righteousness" (dikaosun) and "godliness" (eusebeian). These encompass our total duty to God and man (Titus 2:12). Upon the righteousness and godliness of the man of God, he builds "faith" (pistin) and "love" (agapen). There are no spiritual graces more supreme than these. In them we draw the confidence to trust in God to sustain life and to focus our behavior (1 Timothy 1:14; 2 Timothy 1:13; John 13:34). They anchor us in life, so we are not overwhelmed as we encounter many trials. Paul follows those traits with "patience" (upomone) and "meekness" (praupathian). One must learn to bear under and endure (Luke 21:19; 2 Corinthians 6:4; 2 Thessalonians 3:5; 2 Peter 1:6) while having a disposition that does not falter in gentleness and temper. The ground of our behavior, the motivation of our behavior, and the nature of our endurance are placed before each of us in this charge to Timothy.

With those three pairs of traits, Paul adequately sets forth the character of the true man of God. In so doing, he places upon Timothy a deep awareness of his role as public witness and servant of the Lord. Vine explains how each pair addresses a different aspect of a man’s character.

A threefold wisdom is perhaps discernible in regard to these qualities, righteousness and godliness representing the more general fulfillment of Divine injunctions, faith and love specifying more particularly the motive powers of the Christian life, patience and meekness being the qualities necessary for meeting human antagonism and adverse circumstances (97).

Verse 12

Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.

Paul reminds Timothy that he has been summoned to engage in a struggle for the faith. Neither the call nor the battle is passive. The man of God cannot wait for a miracle; rather, God waits for a decision on his part.

Fight the good fight of faith: The word "fight" (agonizou) means to engage in a struggle, indicating that the man of God must strive in his Christian warfare (Luke 13:24; Colossians 1:29). Many metaphors throughout the Bible characterize the ongoing nature of constant striving and overcoming (1 Corinthians 9:24-25; Philippians 3:12; Philippians 3:14; 2 Timothy 4:7; Hebrews 12:1).

lay hold on eternal life: It is important to seize the life that lasts and then live in light of it. The final prize is not considered here, as is clear from verse 19. There is a singular act with which we get a grip and then an ongoing series of actions to maintain that firm hold. There is a body of doctrine to be believed and kept (1 Timothy 1:19; 1 Timothy 3:9).

whereunto thou art also called: Paul notes Timothy had responded to the summons and responded with an open declaration to that call (1 Peter 5:10).

and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses: The word "professed" (omologesas) means to assent, acknowledge, or declare openly. The reference is probably to his baptism and confession of faith. Profession is what we profess and hold with all diligence (Hebrews 4:14). This declaration is described as good because it is excellent and contains the truth that makes salvation possible.

Verse 13

I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession;

I give thee charge in the sight of God: Paul’s charge to Timothy here is before a greater witness than those at his baptism. It is in the presence of the preserver of life and before Jesus Christ, who confessed what truth demanded even in view of death.

who quickeneth all things: The word "quickeneth" (zoogonountos) means to give life or vitalize, and it conveys here the thought that God is the preserver of all (see Luke 17:33; Acts 7:19). Fairbairn explains that "God is represented as the preserver of all, and consequently as able to minister protection and support to those who were ready to obey His will, and hazard all for His glory" (242).

and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession: Paul reminds Timothy how the Lord Jesus Christ left us a great example when he testified in the presence of Pilate and confessed the truth regarding His kingship and kingdom, even though suffering and death were present (Matthew 27:11; John 18:36-37). A charge given in light of such a great truth and moving example should urge one to do his best and withstand the worst.

Verse 14

That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ:

That thou keep this commandment: Paul, whose charge to Timothy was on the grounds that he stood before God as the preserver of life and Christ who boldly proclaimed the truth in the face of death, gives further admonition regarding how Timothy should heed the commandment.

Kent gives a reasonable explanation of the commandment Paul refers to in this context. "Inasmuch as nothing in the context serves to limit the reference, it is best to understand the commandment as the obligations which are upon believers as a result of the Gospel" (202).

without spot, unrebukeable: The keeping is to be "without spot" (aspilon); that is, it should be free from censure (James 1:27; 1 Peter 1:19; 2 Peter 3:14). Timothy should be found "unrebukeable" (anepilempton); that is, beyond reproach so that charges called against a person cannot mar his character (1 Timothy 3:2; 1 Timothy 5:7).

until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ: The keeping of this commandment was to be unending or until His appearance or manifestation (Titus 2:13; 2 Thessalonians 2:8). Paul’s statement should not be taken to infer he anticipated the Lord’s return would be in Timothy’s lifetime. He is saying to Timothy to keep the commandment during his lifetime, for in this fashion it will be preserved until the Lord cometh.

Verse 15

Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords;

Which in his times he shall shew: At the time appointed by the Father, Jesus will return, as assured when he left (Acts 1:9-11). Jesus’ return is without specific warning or sign but not without specific results (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17; 2 Timothy 4:1). The thought of the Lord’s return almost seems to launch Paul into the following doxology of the Almighty God.

who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords: The recognition of Christ’s power and character leads Paul to an outburst of praise. He refers to Him as the only Potentate (dunastes) or Sovereign, the King of kings (basileus)--that is, the King over those who are reigning--and the Lord of lords (kurios), the Controller of all. This phraseology is applied to Christ in Revelation 17:11; Revelation 19:16. It is applied to God in the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 10:17; Psalms 136:2-3; Daniel 2:47).

Verse 16

Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.

Who only hath immortality: This passage turns to reflect on God’s person and begins by noting his "deathlessness" (absolute life). The word "immortality" is not aphtharsia, which signifies incorruptibility, but athanasia, which means deathlessness, freedom from death (Kent 205). It is found in the adjective form in 1 Timothy 1:17 and translated "immortal." Also the noun form in Romans 2:7 is translated immortality. The word is usually translated incorruptible.

dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: The word "unapproachable" (aprositon) is associated with the very brightness and splendor of His being. The fact that God is light and "unapproachable" to man also points towards His holiness. John points out that God is light and has no darkness in Him at all (1 John 1:5; also see Daniel 2:22 and Psalms 104:2). How could man approach the majestic awe of God but through a prepared way (Exodus 33:17-23; Hebrews 10:19-20)?

to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen: Paul directs all praise unto Him forever.

Verse 17

Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;

Charge them that are rich in this world: Paul had spoken previously about the plight of those who resolved to be wealthy. Now, he turns his attention to Christians who are wealthy in this world’s goods and gives Timothy instructions for them.

The word "rich" means to have an abundance of possessions in this present world (2 Timothy 4:10; Titus 2:12). The rich are not condemned for their abundance, but they are warned to avoid the multitude of sins that tend to accompany those who have laid up treasures for themselves "in this world." They will tend to look on things of this world rather than the things of the next, on the "seen" rather than the "unseen." (See Matthew 12:32; Luke 16:8; Romans 8:18; Romans 12:2; Ephesians 1:21.)

that they be not highminded: Paul warns Christians who might tend to think their wealth is a special favor from God not to look on others in an improper manner. The possibility of being "high-minded" (upselophronein) must be checked since pride and arrogance easily grow with thoughts of self-sufficiency. Men tend to lose their sense of thanksgiving and realization of God’s providential care (Proverbs 10:15; Proverbs 18:11).

nor trust in uncertain riches: The Christian must beware of trusting (elpikenai)--that is, putting his hope and expectation--in things that are not lasting. Such trust creates insecurity because insecurity arises when men put their hope in things that can be taken away (Proverbs 23:5; Psalms 62:10; Matthew 6:19-20).

but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy: Our trust must remain in God, the Giver of all good things. We look to God, for He is living and gives abundantly for our enjoyment (James 1:5). The word "enjoy" is a one-word argument against those who attempt to define righteousness as asceticism.

Verse 18

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

That they do good, that they be rich in good works: The wealthy need to be told to do good with their abundance. "The right use of temporal things," says Vine, "ever has supreme regard to the will of God, to whom we must give an account of the way they have been used" (103). When a man has an abundance, then he is obliged to do much with it for the benefit of the needy. The abundance of good works is to be emphasized, not the amount of one’s goods (Acts 14:17; 1 Peter 2:15; Luke 6:9; Luke 6:33; Luke 6:35).

ready to distribute: Paul commands that the rich be "ready to distribute" (eumetadotous)--that is, to be good at giving (see Luke 3:11; Romans 1:11; Romans 12:8; Ephesians 4:28; 1 Thessalonians 2:8). Let them share and be kind in their consideration of others.

willing to communicate: Let them be "willing to communicate" (kounonikous), to impart of their goods unto others (Hebrews 13:16). The Christian should be both kind in consideration and generous in giving.

Verse 19

Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.

Why do the rich need to be told to be liberal in giving and to beware of stumblingblocks that arise because of their goods? Paul says they need such admonition so they will prepare for the time to come (Luke 16:9). One must treasure up good works if he desires to have a solid spiritual stand for the time to come. Otherwise, he shall not be able to grasp the real life. (Consider the words "laying up" in light of Matthew 6:20, Romans 2:5, and 1 Corinthians 16:2.)

The only way to store up for the time to come is to give. This concept is one of many of the remarkable paradoxes in the scriptures. We store up by giving away, and we reap by scattering abroad.

that they may lay hold on eternal life: There is definitely more to life than now. There is the time to come (Luke 18:22), the time of judgment when men will be moved to their eternal state (Matthew 2:46). The word "eternal" (ontos) means the real or certain. One can capture the essence of this term by examining how the word "indeed" is used in Luke 24:34; John 8:36; 1 Timothy 5:3; 1 Timothy 5:5; 1 Timothy 5:16. Paul emphasizes the surety of that which is eternal.

Verse 20

O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called:

Paul closes with a personal word of caution to Timothy. He tells him to hold to the truth and labor with the truth so he can fulfill what has been committed to his trust.

keep that which is committed to thy trust: Timothy has been entrusted with a precious deposit from the Lord, and Paul admonishes him to keep it. A deposit is to be guarded (1 Timothy 1:3-7; 1 Timothy 1:18-19), and Timothy must be careful to protect it.

avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science so called: The word "avoid" (ektrepomenos) means to turn away or shun (1 Timothy 1:6; 1 Timothy 5:15; 2 Timothy 4:4; Hebrews 12:13). "Profane" (bebelous) means common, worldly, and unholy. It is said the term derived its background from what was outside the shrine and could be trampled upon by all. Such is the way some would treat the divine inspiration of the Holy Spirit (see 1 Timothy 1:9; 1 Timothy 4:7).

"Vain babblings" (kenophonias) is empty talk and discussion of vain and useless matters (2 Timothy 2:16). The word "science" (gnoseos) is the word for knowing or knowledge. When one finds what men call knowledge is in opposition to the delivered faith, he should not tarry there. Such teaching does not cause faith or bring obedience. The apostolic tradition is to be preserved along with the truth contained therein concerning the Messiah, the gospel whereby all men can be saved, and the final state of mankind.

Verse 21

Which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace be with thee. Amen.

Men have professed skill in human systems until they have missed the very way of faith. (1 Timothy 1:6; 2 Timothy 2:18). Paul concludes his first letter to Timothy by warning him of such people. Then, as a father would to a son, he wishes the grace of God and Christ upon the one to whom he must pass his banner.

Bibliographical Information
Editor Charles Baily, "Commentary on 1 Timothy 6". "Contending for the Faith". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ctf/1-timothy-6.html. 1993-2022.
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