Concerning Servants, the Rich, and Corrupt Teachers
1, 2. The eighth charge to Timothy, as to bondservants or slaves. We have here an indication of the way in which Christianity abolished slavery—not by denouncing it, but by implanting the idea of Christian brotherhood, which was incompatible with it: see Intro, to Philemon. If a Christian were the slave of an unbeliever, his submissiveness was to be such as to earn credit for his profession. If he had a Christian master, he was to be the more zealous in his service, inasmuch as his master, who derived benefit from it, was a believer like himself, and therefore an object of love.
2. Because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit] RV 'because they that partake of the benefit of their service are believing and beloved.'
3-10. Resumption of the charge against heterodox teachers. They had all the faults already mentioned, and in addition they made use of religion as a means of getting money, or, as they expressed it, of 'gain.' Reproving them, St. Paul points out in what sense religion is a 'gain,' namely, that it produces resignation and contentment of mind, which prevent the disquieting effects of covetousness, whereas the desire of 'gain,' in the sense of money-getting, leads to every kind of evil-doing.
3. Wholesome words] RV 'sound words.' Even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ] His teaching in the Gospels.
5. Supposing that gain is godliness] RV 'supposing that godliness is a way of gain.'
8. Raiment] RV 'covering.' Houses may be included as well as clothes. 9, 10. Similarly Seneca, 'Ep.' 87, 'While we wish to gain riches we fall into many evils.'
11-16. Resumption of personal charge to Timothy. Timothy's conduct was to be in absolute contrast with that of the heterodox teachers, who valued religion as a source of gain. He must be faithful, as he had promised when he made his confession of faith, and as Christ faithfully made His confession before Pontius Pilate. This faithfulness Timothy was especially to show in keeping safe the truth committed to him by St. Paul, which he was to do his part in maintaining uncorrupted till the Second Coming of Christ, which God would manifest at His own time.
11. O man of God] cp. 1 Samuel 2:27; 1 Kings 12:22.
12. Art.. called] RV 'was called.' A good confession] RV 'the good confession,' made when he was admitted into the Church, or possibly when he was brought before a Roman magistrate to answer for his faith (Hebrews 13:23).
14. This commandment] i.e. the sum of the charges contained in the Epistle. Without spot, unrebukeable] Timothy's faith is to be without spot, so that he should be without reproach. Until the appearing] These words do not necessarily indicate a belief on St. Paul's part that the Coming of the Lord would be in Timothy's lifetime. It might be, and then Timothy would have kept his deposit to the end if he were faithful; it might be later, and then he would have done his part in keeping it in his generation. The Return of the Lord is to take place in God's time, which 'He hath placed in His own power' (Acts 1:7).
15, 16. Probably an ascription of praise in use in the Apostolic Church.
17-19; The ninth charge to Timothy, arising out of 1 Timothy 6:6-10, respecting the rich. He is to instruct them not to trust in their riches and grow conceited, but to be ready to give to others, so laying up for themselves a treasure in heaven. The right use of wealth, as of all other of God's gifts, while it will not earn eternal life, will yet conduce to our attainment of it, good works not being the cause, but being nevertheless, in adults, a condition of salvation.
18. Ready.. to communicate] i.e. to contribute generously of their substance.
19. Laying up in store] see Matthew 6:19; Luke 16:9. Eternal life] RV 'life indeed,' following a reading which, has slightly the better authority of the two.
20-22. Final and impassioned appeal to Timothy. The faith is a 'deposit' (RV) which St. Paul has committed to Timothy (2 Timothy 1:13-14), and which it is his office, as it is now the office of the Church, to keep safe and uncorrupted for the salvation of the world in spite of gnostic or agnostic speculations and theories. 'Who at this day,' says Vincentius Lerinensis, 'is Timothy but either generally the whole Church, or especially the whole body of prelates, who ought either themselves to have a sound knowledge of divine religion, or to infuse it into others? What is meant by keeping the depositum? Keep it, quoth he, for fear of thieves, for danger of enemies, lest when men be asleep they oversow cockle among that good seed of wheat which the Son of man hath sowed in His field. Keep, quoth he, the depositum. What is meant by this depositum? It is that which is committed to them, not that which is invented by thee; that which thou 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 founder, but an observer; not a leader, but a follower. Keep the depositum, quoth he; preserve the talent of the Catholic Faith safe and undiminished; that which is committed to thee, let that remain with thee, and that deliver. Thou hast received gold, render thou gold; I will not have one thing for another. O Timothy, O Priest, O Teacher, O Doctor, if God's gift hath made thee meet and sufficient, for thy wit, exercise, and learning.. let them that come after you rejoice at arriving at the understanding of that, by thy means, which antiquity, without that understanding, had in veneration. Yet for all this, in such sort deliver the same things which thou hast learnt, that albeit thou teachest after a new manner, yet thou never teach new things' (c. 22). No one has better grasped and expressed the underlying thought and purpose of St. Paul's appeal to Timothy than Vincentius.
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Dummelow, John. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 6". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany