It would appear that slaves formed a considerable element in the early church. “The very difficulty of their position made it necessary that Timothy direct special instructions to them” (Hiebert p. 106). In fact, there are many passages in the New Testament that address the responsibilities of slaves (1 Corinthians 7:21-24; Ephesians 6:5-8; Colossians 3:22-25; 1 Peter 2:18). The Roman world was full of slaves, some estimate 60 million in the First Century and this included “high class” slaves as well as menial servants.
“Let”: The slave still has his freewill, he may have a human master but he still must master himself, his emotions, feelings, attitudes and behavior. The very fact that the Bible expects so much of slaves proves that the Bible did not view slaves as less than human or on the same level as an animal or tool.
“All who are under the yoke as slaves”: God is no respecter of persons, this applies to every Christian in the situation of slavery. The expression “under the yoke” indicates a bond service to a master, and is figuratively used of any burden. The expression admits that the condition of the slave was not easy and that it could be very oppressive. “The heathen estimate of a slave differed in degree, not in kind, from their estimate of cattle” (Hiebert p. 107). “Calls attention to the fact that in the first century world, men and women slaves were regarded as little more than cattle, and the power of the master over the slave was almost absolute, like that over his yoke-animals” (Reese p. 261). God understands what the slave is going through.
“To regard their own masters as worthy of all honor”: “They are to have an inner attitude of genuine respect for their masters which finds outward expression in word, manner, and conduct” (Hiebert p. 107). A temptation for the slave who became a Christian might be to assume that since he was free in Christ (Galatians 3:28), he was also free in other areas as well. “Their new-found liberty in Christ gave them no warrant for less faithful service” (Kent p. 189). Note that God did not advocate revolution, but godliness. The Christian is obligated to behave as a Christian in whatever state he or she is in. This would be especially difficult if a master was cruel, yet God does not give the slave the right to dishonor even a cruel master (1 Peter 2:18 ff).
“So that the name of God and our doctrine will not be spoken against”: There is something far more important than the physical freedom or comfort of the slave, what is really important is God’s reputation and how unbelievers view Christianity. If the Christian slave rebelled, the unbeliever would claim that Christian slaves were not as dependable as non-Christian slaves. “The Christian slave’s motive must be ‘that the name of God and the doctrine be not blasphemed’. His concern for the honor of God and the doctrine, which he has accepted, must increase his zeal for his master’s service. For Christian slaves to show themselves as disobedient and rebellious would immediately discredit Christianity with their masters and brand the new religion as subversive to society” (Hiebert pp. 107-108). For a slave who had become a Christian to show disrespect to his master would only reinforce in the master’s mind that the only change that Christianity brought to this slave was to make him restless, discontented, dissatisfied, and disobedient.
Note that the name of God, or God’s reputation and the “doctrine” are linked together. We must seek to do nothing that would bring reproach upon God’s reputation or what the Bible teaches. “These must not be exposed to ridicule and abuse” (Reese p. 262). Compare with 2 Samuel 12:14 and Romans 2:24. Earlier in this letter the same basic point had been made, that is, we must not give occasion by our actions or attitude for people to find a cause to speak against Christ and the Gospel (1 Timothy 5:7; 1 Timothy 5:14). Let us remember that we are representing God and His truth every day.
“Those who have believers as their masters”: Verse 1 was dealing with Christian slaves who had unbelieving masters, now we have instruction to slaves who had Christian masters.
“Must not be disrespectful to them because they are brethren”: “A Christian slave who had a Christian master might be inclined to think, ‘If my master is really a Christian, how can he keep me as his slave?’” (Reese p. 263). In addition, such a slave might be under the impression that his master should grant him his freedom because he was a Christian, or that his master should grant him certain exemptions and show him favoritism. Note, nothing is said concerning the master being commanded to free all his slaves.
“Disrespectful”: From a Greek word which means to think down upon, to think less of someone.
“But must serve them all the more”: “If a slave is in the exceptionally privileged position of having a Christian master (as compared to his lot when he had a pagan master), then let the slave render exceptional service! The slave of the Christian master has even more reason to render service” (Reese p. 263).
“But must serve them all the more, because those who partake of the benefit”: The “benefit” under consideration seems to be the service rendered by the slave. “A slave is under obligation to render service to any master. The fact that his master is a Christian should inspire him to render even better service, since the one who receives ‘the benefit’ of his hearty service is ‘believing and beloved’” (Hiebert p. 108).
“Are believers and beloved”: The slave needs to be reminded that God sees his Christian master as “faithful”, that is a believer. In addition, such a master is beloved by God and should be beloved by the servant. The Christian slave needs to remember that the person benefiting from his labor is a fellow Christian!
“Although slavery does not exist in America, the responsibility of conduct is the same for employees and employers” (Reese p. 265).
In modern times some Christians have made the mistake of thinking that if they go into business or work for another Christian, that such a Christian should either pay them more than the other workers, cut them some slack or overlook poor work or false promises.
“Teach and preach these principles”: This is an obvious contrast with the next verse. Timothy is to faithfully teach the truth in contrast to those who will not. Compare with 4:11 and 5:7. In spite of the fact that some slaves would not like the teaching in 6:1-2, Timothy must still teach these things. “It was the duty of Timothy to teach and guard the Christian slaves against the doctrine and spirit of servile insurrection, then so widely and disastrously threatening the foundations of society in the Roman world” (Hiebert p. 108).
“If anyone”: Does not matter who they are, or what reputation among Christians they may have (Galatians 1:6-9). The word “if” reminds us that there are such men (2 Peter 2:1-3).
“Advocates”: False doctrines do end up being taught and advocated, error does not remain silent.
“A different doctrine”: That is a doctrine that deviates from the truth (1:3), as distinguished from another doctrine of the same kind. “Modern indifference to doctrine is not an apostolic trait. Paul exhibits no toleration whatever toward those who deviate from the well-defined standard of truth” (Kent pp. 191-192). Note, that a different doctrine is a different gospel (Galatians 1:6-9).
“And does not agree with sound words”: The word “agree” means “to consent to, agree with, a drawing nigh”. The reason that such a person teaches a different doctrine is because they are refusing to submit to what God says is the truth. The root of so much false teaching is simply a refusal to accept what Jesus taught as the final word on the matter. “Pictures the act of one who confidingly accepts another’s offer” (Hiebert p. 110). “The verb is a little stronger than ‘consent’ or ‘agree with’. A mere listener may eventually agree with the words of a speaker. An enthusiastic listener will ‘come over to’ or ‘join’ the speaker” (Reese p. 267). Do we merely put up with sound doctrine or do we embrace it? “Sound words” are healthy, true and incorrupt. Paul often emphasizes “sound teaching” or “sound doctrine” (1:10; 2 Timothy 1:13; 2 Timothy 4:3; Titus 1:9; Titus 2:1).
“Those of our Lord Jesus Christ”: Paul spoke by inspiration as did the other apostles and New Testament prophets. Paul noted that what he wrote were the words of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 14:37). Compare with Hebrews 1:1-2; Revelation 1:1 and John 16:13. This would include not only what Jesus taught in the gospels, but also what He revealed through the apostles as well (2 Peter 3:2 “the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles”).
“And with the doctrine conforming to godliness”: The word “conforming” means “of the end aimed at; the goal to which anything tends” (Thayer p. 329). “Promoting (designed for) godliness” (Roberson p. 592). The doctrine that ends in godliness, that promotes it, and that it is consistent with. Sound doctrine promotes and creates unity, health, maturity, understanding, morality and so on, while false doctrine promotes division, and all sorts of ungodly things. “True doctrine is inseparable from and conducive to godliness” (Hiebert p. 110). Remember,”godliness” includes respect and reverence towards God, and healthy doctrine produces people who are humble and submit to God’s will.
“He is conceited”: Puffed up, that is blinded by pride, literally the term here means to “wrap in smoke”. The idea is to be wrapped in the clouds of arrogance and thus blinded. “His desire is not to display Christ, but to display himself. There are still preachers and teachers who are more concerned to gain a following for themselves than for Jesus Christ” (Barclay p. 146). A person would have to be arrogant to claim that their own views were better than what God teaches or that they have the right to change what God has decreed. A tremendous amount of error is simply rooted in the ego of the teacher. “Paul certainly does not mince words. He does not handle men who teach differently with kid gloves” (Lenski p. 697).
“And understands nothing”: He may think that he is extremely smart, but Paul notes that he is ignorant. Compare with 1:4-7; 6:5, 20. His head is filled with all sorts of bits and pieces of information but he has everything mixed up, he is ever learning but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth (2 Timothy 3:7). He knows nothing of real importance.
“But he has a morbid interest”: The term “morbid” means “to be sick” (Thayer p. 429). Instead of having a love for the truth (2 Thessalonians 2:10), they have an unhealthy addiction and craving for other things. “He is word-sick, and the morbid state of his mind manifests itself in subtle discussions and angry disputes centering around trifling distinctions between different words” (Hiebert pp. 110-111).
“Controversial questions”: Please note that Paul is not condemning the discussion of Biblical truths that are “controversial” with unbelievers, for every Biblical topic is probably a controversial question to someone. Neither is God condemning controversy, for Jesus and the apostles were often in the thick of controversy (Acts 15:2; Acts 17:1-2; Matthew 22:1-46). In fact, Jesus got involved in answering questions that were controversial (John 4:19 ff; Matthew 19:3 ff). Rather, God here is condemning questions and disputes about words that have nothing to do with sound doctrine or the truth. These men are not trying to discover the truth, rather they are deprived of the truth (6:5).
Unfortunately, some commentators try to toss some legitimate Biblical questions or topics into the above category.
“Disputes about words”: Literally, a word-fight or word-battle. Again, God is not saying that we should ignore the importance of the words revealed by the Holy Spirit. Jesus and Paul made arguments based on the meaning of a single word (Matthew 22:32; Galatians 3:16). Jesus also noted that every word in Scripture was important (Matthew 5:17-19). Rather, these are arguments about words that do not promote sound doctrine (2 Timothy 2:14). By contrast, the words of Christ are the final authority (John 12:48; 1 Corinthians 14:37).
Barclay notes that in the first century (and the same type of people exist today), there were many speakers who were skilled in “making the worse appear the better reason” (p. 143). That is people who are not really interested in God’s truth but who are simply interested in either winning an argument, building up their own reputation, or intentionally confusing the issue so that the truth would be obscured.
“Out of which arise envy”: We should not be envious if someone with the Scriptures proves that we are in the wrong, rather we should be grateful. Thus this is probably not an envy of someone with more Bible knowledge, but rather, an envy of the person who unfortunately is using his time and talents to twist the truth and come up with clever yet evil arguments. “Secret annoyance at the success of their rivals in the same futile efforts” (Hiebert p. 111).
“Strife”: Contention, bitter discord. This is not a division produced by the truth (Matthew 10:34), but by error.
“Abusive language”: Slander, name calling, speech that is injurious to another’s reputation. Note this abusive language is often directed at those who are seeking to correct the error.
“Evil suspicions”: Evil conjectures and false suspicions, these are all the products of a mind that does not love the truth. Timothy will find that when he encounters such men and seeks to teach them the truth that they will accuse him of all sorts of horrible things. Those in error often accuse the faithful of having unloving or dishonest motives.
“Constant friction”: Constant strife, mutual irritations, wearing discussion and protracted wrangling.
“ Between men of depraved mind”: “Sadder still the spiritual character of the men who are occupied with such teaching. Their mind, the organ of moral thinking and comprehension, is in a state of corruption and disintegration, no longer functioning normally” (Hiebert p. 111). The participle is passive in voice, which implies that someone else, or something else is the agent who did the corrupting or changing for the worse. Other passages note that such a condition is not inborn, rather it is a consequence of rejecting the truth (Romans 1:28; Ephesians 4:17; 2 Timothy 3:8; Titus 1:15). We will become corrupted as well if we open up our minds to conceit and falsehood.
“Between”: “The Greek simply has a genitive case, and says that all the fruits just listed are characteristic ‘of (or result from) men of corrupt men’ this is their not unexpected lifestyle” (Reese p. 270).
“Deprived of the truth”: “With the suggestion of being retributively robbed of the truth, through the corrupt condition of the mind” (Vine “defraud” p. 287). The same thing is taught in 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12, those who do not love the truth will be deprived of the truth. The implication may be that they once possessed the truth (1:19; Titus 1:14). Seeing that God’s truth is to be preached to all (Mark 16:15), we must conclude that this depriving of the truth is a consequence of becoming arrogant. “The truth was once theirs; they have disinherited themselves” (Hiebert p. 111).
“Who suppose”: These same men think or deem.
“Godliness is a means of gain”: That godliness is somehow “a profitable commercial investment, a lucrative business, advancing one’s worldly interests” (Hiebert p. 111). “Religious charlatans infested the Roman world, attached themselves to men of power and wealth, their great object being gain” (Lenski p. 702). “These men are supposing all along that the practice of their religious profession will be lucrative and will serve their worldly interests. Their thinking is that ‘religion is gain!’” (Reese p. 272). Compare with Titus 1:11. The false teachers looked at their religion as a way of making money. “They pretend to be religious, they make an outward show of godliness, just for the sake of becoming rich. Being devoid of the truth, the false teachers measure everything by financial considerations and practice their religion in hopes of prospering materially. Such persons are more concerned about finding out what’s in it for them than they are in the temporal and eternal spiritual needs of their audiences” (Reese p. 272).
“But godliness actually is a means of great gain”: The word “but” introduces a contrast between the erroneous view mentioned in 6:5 and the correct view held by Christians. “The verb ‘is’ stands emphatically forward, such is actually the case, Paul insists, when it is combined with an inner attitude of contentment. Contentment is literally self-sufficiency. A state of contentment makes one independent of outward circumstances, satisfied with one’s inner resources, enabling one to maintain a spiritual equilibrium in the midst of favorable as well as unfavorable circumstances. It is not a stoical indifference to or contempt for material needs” (Hiebert p. 112).
By “gain” here, Paul does not mean that being a Christian is the key to getting rich materially, rather, “the godly man is rich indeed, for he wants nothing in this world but what God has given him, and has acquired riches, which, unlike the riches of this world, he can take away with him” (P.P. Comm. p. 120). An attitude that seeks to please God first combined with a trust that God will provide (Matthew 6:33) is tremendous “gain”.
“The Christian can be self-sufficient because his sufficiency is rooted and grounded in God’s all-sufficiency and rests with assurance upon God’s providential care. Such contentment naturally belongs to true godliness. Paul knows that man is only satisfied in God; and therefore devotion to God is the first condition of this true satisfaction, and contentedness with an earthly lot the second. Such godliness is a very different thing from the mercenary concept of false teachers” (Hiebert p. 112).
“When accompanied by contentment”: Paul is not praising poverty here nor is he condemning those who have wealth. “He is declaring that in contrast to the mercenary attitude of the false teachers, ‘godliness accompanied by contentment’ is greater riches than all the offerings collected by the false teachers. Paul himself had learned such contentment (Philippians 4:11-13). Godliness of the right kind, then, with no mercenary thought of its being used as a steppingstone to wealth or worldly acclaim, but coupled with a pure conscience and peace of soul, will furnish satisfaction far beyond anything this world can offer. This is great gain” (Reese p. 273).
Please note that the “self-sufficiency” here is that of being self-sufficient because all our trust is in God. That is, we are grateful and content with what God has given us. In addition, real contentment is independent of both poverty and wealth (Philippians 4:11-13), and finds greater enjoyment in the spiritual blessings that God has given us rather than our temporary blessings.
“For”: This explains the reasoning behind the previous verses.
“We have brought nothing into the world”: Compare with Job 1:21; Psalms 49:17-18; Luke 12:15-21; Ecclesiastes 5:15. This statement should also remind us that since we brought nothing with us, the things that we have acquired in this life are temporary and are often acquired because of the kindness, help, and support of others, like parents, and without God’s blessings of life, health, food, and so on, we could not have acquired anything. The word “nothing” in the above verse is emphatic, “not a thing” did we bring into this world.
“So we cannot take anything out of it either”: Luke 12:20. All earthly possessions are only temporary, thus it is folly to hoard or become a miser. In addition, death will separate us from our possessions, and if all our contentment was wrapped up in our things, then death will bring an end to our contentment! One writer noted, “We can’t take our money beyond the grave; and if we could, what would it be worth in a city where gold is used like blacktop to pave the street? (Revelation 21:21) (Orrin Root). Gaining material possessions then is only of temporary importance, and thus godliness should always take first place in our list of priorities. “Therefore, the few things we actually need while on earth need not unduly disturb the minds of godly people” (Kent p. 194). The above verse has its modern counter parts such as “There are no pockets in a shroud” and “You do not see a U Haul truck following the hearse”.
“If we have food and covering”: The term “covering” here includes both clothing and shelter. “Clothing or a house” (Arndt p. 753).
“With these we shall be content”: Compare with Hebrews 13:5; Luke 3:14; Proverbs 30:8-9. This verse certainly tests the level of our faith. Today, are we satisfied with enough to eat, enough clothing and a warm and dry place to live, or would we be miserable in such an existence? The Greek philosopher Epicurus said of himself, “To whom little is not enough, nothing is enough” (Barclay p. 149).
“Whatever may have been our previous attitude, this is what we will do henceforth. Whatever may be granted above our actual needs will be thankfully received, but the earnest and devout Christian will be satisfied when his actual needs are supplied” (Hiebert p. 113).
“But those who want to get rich”: Here is the danger of seeking wealth as the prime end of life. “Paul shows what happens to people who do not have this attitude of Christian contentment” (Hiebert p. 113). Remember, Paul is not simply talking about people in the world who desire to be rich, but Christians and teachers in the Church who place gaining wealth as the chief end in life.
“Fall into temptation and a snare”: All men are tempted, but this is the person who has fallen into a state of temptation, that is who is yielding to one temptation after another. The term “snare” means a “trap”. The word “fall” is also in the present tense, suggesting a continual falling. This desire to be rich at all costs brings one temptation to compromise after another. Thus they are tempted to sacrifice morality, principles, honesty, kindness and friendship to get ahead. “When top priority is given to amassing riches, such things as honesty, generosity, and helpfulness have to take second place, or third or fourth place!” (Reese p. 277).
“And a snare”: “The idea here is that they who have this desire to become rich become so entangled that they cannot easily escape. In their efforts to make money, they can no longer be free men. They find themselves entrapped in temptation to lie, cheat, steal, to sell products they know to be harmful…” (Reese p. 277). Please note also that many people who desire to get rich-never reach the goal. For every greedy person who reached the top there are thousands who found themselves entrapped in one bad business deal after another, or falling for one scam after another. There are many people in our current society who are willing to take advantage of and exploit the person who wants to get rich quick.
“And many foolish”: Greed will move a person to make unwise choices, and such desires are foolish in the sense that they do not yield the happiness they promised. In addition, people infected by greed often live in an unreal world, a world in which they demand that every desire they have be fulfilled and that the things they possess bring them happiness. It is foolish to believe that money can make us happy and it is equally foolish to believe that we deserve that every desire we have be fulfilled in the exact way in which we demand. Added to this, greed creates the false illusion that material possessions bring with them security and safety.
“And harmful desires”: Greed is often very harmful to oneself and others. “They do great damage to one’s character and spiritual life, and they dissipate one’s energies and call away one’s interest from spiritual activity. The desires are hurtful because they destroy relationships that are rich and full” (Reese p. 278). Such desires are harmful because they destroy what is best in man. “Making them envious, avaricious, and hardhearted in their unscrupulous dealings” (Hiebert p. 114).
“Which plunge men into ruin and destruction”: The term here rendered “plunge” or “drown” refers not merely to a person drowning, but of a wreck, where the ship and all that is in it go down together (Barnes p. 199). The terms “ruin” and “destruction” refer to utter ruin. Some believe that the distinction here is between the ruin in this life, that is, the total ruin of happiness, virtue, reputation, marriage, family and the destruction that awaits in eternity. “It gives the picture of these lusts overwhelming the man, like the waves covering a sinking ship, and plunging him into perdition” (Hiebert p. 114). Compare with Proverbs 1:19; Proverbs 15:27; Proverbs 10:2; Proverbs 15:6; Proverbs 15:16; Proverbs 16:8; Proverbs 28:22.
The ruin mentioned in the above verse also would involve personal unhappiness and misery, for the person who desires to be rich above all else, is never satisfied even if they become rich (Ecclesiastes 5:10-12). In reaching this goal they often have sacrificed everything else that is of true and lasting value (Ecclesiastes 4:8). Life is tragic for the person who has plenty to live on but nothing to live for.
“For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil”: Note: Money itself is not evil, and neither is greed “the” root of all evil, rather, greed is simply “a” root of evil, other roots do exist. It is not the possession of things, but the love of things that leads men into temptation. Jesus taught the same truth (Matthew 6:24). So much evil can result from greed!
It caused the rich younger ruler to turn away from Christ.
It caused the rich fool in Luke 12:1-59 to deceive himself.
It caused the rich man to neglect Lazarus.
It caused Judas to betray his Master and commit suicide.
It caused Ananias and Sapphira to tell lies.
“The desire for money tends to make a man selfish. If a man is driven by the desire for wealth it is nothing to him that someone has to remain poor in order that he may amass more, or that someone has to lose in order that he may gain. The desire for wealth fixes a man’s thoughts upon himself, and others become merely means or obstacles in the path of his own enrichment” (Barclay p. 153).
“And some by longing for it”: The term “longing for it” means to reach after, of stretching oneself out for a thing, of longing after it, with stress upon the object desired (Vine p. 298).
“Have wandered away from the faith”: Note we are talking about Christians who become greedy. One reason why some Christians fall away is because they are trying to serve two masters (Matthew 6:24).
“Wandered”: To cause to go astray. “The faith which they once professed has become displaced by their love for money as the chief goal of their lives” (Hiebert p. 114).
“And pierced themselves with many griefs”: Note the word “many”. Greed brings about all sorts of consuming sorrows, whether sorrows of the body, mind or both. The term “griefs” in this verse refers to consuming and eating griefs. In addition, they brought such upon themselves. “They have stabbed themselves as it were from head to foot and all around, so as to be wholly covered with wounds” (Macknight p. 262). “The strange thing is that the desire for wealth is based on the desire for security, but it ends in nothing but worry and anxiety. The more a man has to keep, the more he has to lose” (Barclay p. 153). “Seeking material ease, men have forfeited peace of mind, lost friends, alienated family members, destroyed their own character and self-respect, found themselves lashed by conscience and the fear of detection in dishonesty” (Reese p. 281). The present “griefs” experienced by the person who has sacrificed their faith for the sake of greed include pangs of conscience, disillusionment, unrest, boredom, envy, remorse, painful reflections upon their folly and other things.
“Pierced”: The idea here is that they have pierced themselves not once, but all around.
“But flee from these things”: That is avoid, shun, a sharp contrast with those who are “reaching after” such things. Avoid the root cause and you can avoid the consequences. The word “flee” is a present imperative and denotes continuous action. “There is no safe distance at which one can stop fleeing” (Reese p. 282). Carefully note that Paul did not believe that a Christian can become so strong that they can flirt with temptation. Even the spiritual Timothy needs to flee!
“You man of God”: “The designation ‘man of God’ is one often employed of prophets (1 Samuel 2:27), characterizing the individual as belonging to God and representing Him. Timothy is reminded that the preacher is a man who belongs to God, rather than one whose heart is possessed by desire for wealth” (Kent p. 199). “The treasures which he must covet as ‘a man of God’ were ‘righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness” (Reese p. 283). For the expression “man of God” see (Deuteronomy 33:1; Judges 13:6; 1 Kings 12:22; 2 Kings 1:9; Jeremiah 34:4; 2 Timothy 3:17; 2 Peter 1:21).
“And pursue”: Seek after eagerly, earnestly endeavor to acquire, strive for, aspire, and the tense is present, keep on pursuing. The Christian can flee from evil by at the same time pursuing what is good. “The verb ‘pursue’ has the image of a hunter who pursues an animal with intensity of purpose, for if he fails to bag the game, he will go hungry. That’s the kind of intensity the ‘man of God’ exhibits as he pursues the six qualities and virtues about to be enumerated” (Reese p. 283).
“Righteousness”: The character or quality of being right or just. “The conformity in character to the divine will in purpose, thought, and action” (Hiebert p. 116). Fulfilling one’s duty to God and man.
“Godliness”: “Is the reverence of the man who throughout all his life never ceases to be aware that all life is lived in the presence of God” (Barclay p. 156).
“Faith”: Active reliance upon God and His word including the idea of faithfulness and trustworthiness. The person who is loyal to Christ in all the circumstances of life. The confidence that enables one to trust God in everything.
“Love”: 1 Corinthians 13:4-8.
“Perseverance”: This is not an attitude that sits with folded hands and simply bears things, rather as Barclay notes, it is “victorious endurance, masculine constancy under trial. The virtue which does not so much accept the experiences of life as it conquers these experiences” (Barclay p. 156).
“Gentleness”: “It describes the spirit which never blazes into anger for its own wrongs, but which can be purely and devastatingly angry for the wrongs of others. It describes the spirit which knows how to forgive and yet knows how to wage the battle of righteousness” (Barclay p. 156). “He should not exhibit that proud, self-assertive, swaggering demeanor, which unsaved men admire as manly” (Kent p. 200). See Matthew 11:29; Matthew 5:5. “It speaks of control of strength to produce the best results, rather than using the strength to hurt” (Reese p. 284).
“Fight”: Struggle, contend, in the present tense and indicates the continuity of the struggle of this life. Christians are soldiers in a spiritual battle (2 Timothy 2:3; Ephesians 6:10-18; 2 Corinthians 10:3-5). This is the fight worth fighting for, this is the real battle, the battle between good and evil. There are so many struggles and “causes” in the world, this is the fight for which all our energy should be directed. Once again, the present tense is used, keep on fighting the good fight.
“The good fight”: The noble contest, the fight worth fighting. In the contest, some people opt for the “contest” of acquiring wealth, Timothy is to avoid that “contest” and rather contend for the faith. Note, the term “fight” suggests that this is a struggle that we will either win or lose-there are no ties.
“Take hold of”: Carefully note that eternal life for the Christian is not automatic and neither is it unconditional. Timothy must do something to gain eternal life and he must actively hold on to the relationship with God that he presently has. Eternal life is a gift (Romans 6:23), but it is a gift that must be taken and held by the believer. “God does not give it to anyone who does not appreciate it enough to make a strenuous effort to obtain it” (Reese p. 286).
“To which you were called”: That is, the gospel calls one to eternal life (1 Corinthians 1:9; 1 Thessalonians 2:12; 2 Thessalonians 2:14; Hebrews 3:1).
“And you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses”: Some believe this is Timothy’s confession before various rulers (Hebrews 13:23), or it may refer to the confession made prior to his baptism (Acts 8:37), a confession that Timothy is expected to honor throughout his life. Compare with Matthew 10:32-33. “To fail to take hold of eternal life would be, in effect, to deny what he had once confessed” (Reese p. 287).
“I charge you”: To command, order, give orders, instruct, direct.
“In the presence of God”: Compare with Galatians 1:20; 1 Timothy 5:21; 2 Timothy 2:14; 2 Timothy 4:1. “He cautions him to remember that God witnesses and will hold him to strict account if he fails to meet the responsibility thus taken upon himself” (Lipscomb p. 184). Here is an incentive to faithfulness, God is always watching.
“Who gives life to all things”: This pictures God as the source of all life. In the Greek, this is a present participle, and thus characterizes God as a continuing life-giver. See Acts 17:25; Numbers 16:22. “Perhaps he means that God is the source of life, and that as He has given life to Timothy natural and spiritual He had a right to require that it be employed in His service” (Reese p. 288). “It views God as the Preserver of all, able to preserve His servant faithful even unto death in a courageous defense of the Gospel” (Reese p. 117).
Seeing that God gives life to all things, we must reject the unscientific theory of spontaneous generation, which naturally excludes the theory of evolution that is based on the above false premise. Nothing came into being by accident.
“And of Christ Jesus, who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate”:
The same Jesus who brought all things into existence (John 1:1-3; 1 Corinthians 8:6; Hebrews 1:2; Colossians 1:16), is the same Jesus to stood before Pontus Pilate and made the good confession (Matthew 27:11; Mark 15:2; Luke 23:3; John 18:33-37).
“Before Pontus Pilate”: Pilate was a governor from 25-37 A.D. Eusebius, who lived in the fourth century tells us, on the authority of certain Greek historians, that Pilate fell into such calamities and that he committed suicide. Paul wrote to Timothy around 66-67 A.D., how times had changed. “His confession before Pilate became the model, the motive, and the power of all the confessions which His followers make for Him” (Hiebert p. 118). Before Pilate, Jesus confessed that He was King (Matthew 27:11; Mark 15:2; Luke 23:2-3; John 18:37), and that He had a kingdom whose source was not of this world (John 18:36). “Paul terms Christ’s confession ‘good’ because it contains the great truths which make possible salvation for men. Thus it is the Savior-Christ who is vitally interested in the ministries of His servants” (Kent p. 202).
“That you keep the commandment”: The term “keep” here means to “attend to carefully, take care of, to preserve intact.” The word “commandment” stands for the whole body of God’s commandments in the New Testament (2 Peter 2:21; 2 Peter 3:2; 1 Timothy 1:5). The KJV here has “this commandment”. “The entire truth of the Gospel which he has confessed and which he has been commissioned to preach and to defend is here unified under the singular noun ‘commandment’” (Hiebert p. 118). Jesus often stressed the need for complete obedience to His will (John 14:15; John 15:10; John 15:14; Matthew 28:20; Matthew 7:21-23).
“Without stain”: Free from censure, irreproachable (2 Peter 3:14; James 1:27; Ephesians 5:27).
“Or reproach”: Timothy must live the life that he is preaching, our lives must not be allowed to dishonor the truth that we are preaching. Often God stresses that the individual Christian must watch and guard their personal example (1 Corinthians 1:8; Colossians 1:22; 1 Thessalonians 3:13; 1 Thessalonians 5:23; 2 Peter 3:14; Jude 1:24). Timothy must live in such a way that no blame attaches itself to Christianity because of something wrong that he is doing.
“Until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ”: Timothy must remain faithful until Jesus comes again (2 Timothy 1:10; 2 Timothy 4:1; 2 Timothy 4:8; Titus 2:13; 2 Thessalonians 2:8). “There is no relaxing of this charge” (Reese p. 290). This means that all Christians are still under this charge. Notice that the Second Coming is an appearing, a term which means “to become visible”. Jesus is not coming secretly or silently at some supposed rapture, rather, He will come and all will see Him (1 Thessalonians 4:16).
“Which He will bring about at the proper time”: Jesus will come at the right time, yet the “time” remains a secret (1 Thessalonians 5:1-3). In addition, there are no signs that will give clues or signals for this return. The expression “bring about” means to bring to pass, produce what can be seen, exhibit, point out and make known. Many feel that the “He” in this verse is the Father, specifically seeing that the “He” who is described further is spoken of as “whom no man has seen”, which would be true of the Father (John 1:18). Yet, men have seen Christ.
“He who is the blessed”: The term “blessed” is also used in reference to God in 1 Timothy 1:11. “God is described by the term ‘the blessed’ because He is the source of all blessedness and happiness” (Reese p. 292).
“Only Sovereign”: This term means ruler and is from whence we derive our English word “dynasty”. The one and only ruler of all the heavens and earth. God shares this responsibility with no one. “Absolutely incomparable in His right to do as He pleases, for example, to choose the appropriate season for Christ’s second coming” (Reese p. 292).
“The King of kings and Lord of lords”: The original reads, “the King of those kinging and the Lord of those lording”. Compare with Psalms 136:2-3; Deuteronomy 10:17. God is over all human rulers. The same title is applied to Jesus in the Revelation letter (17:14; 19:16; 1:5). All human rulers need to remember that their authority to rule comes from God (Daniel 2:21; Daniel 4:25; Daniel 5:26-28; Romans 13:1-4).
“Who alone possesses immortality”: The word “immortality” literally means deathlessness, the word “immortal” means incorruptible, imperishable. God alone has the freedom from death, aging, and decay. God enjoys exemption from death, this is one reason why Jesus had to become flesh, so He would assume a state in which He would be able to die (John 1:14). Jesus noted that the Father has life in Himself (John 5:26). This would also infer that whatever “immortality” is enjoyed by angels or the redeemed is an immortality that has been given to them, we will live on forever because God lives on. But only God actually possesses immortality as part of His nature.
“Dwells in unapproachable light”: “This speaks of the inaccessibility of God to human senses. He dwells in an atmosphere too glorious for mortal creatures to approach” (Hiebert p. 119). Yet the redeemed will be allowed to approach Him in eternity. Compare with Revelation 4:3; Ezekiel 1:4; Psalms 104:2; Daniel 2:22. Such a brilliant light is a reminder of God’s holiness and purity.
“Whom no man has seen or can see”: The word “invisible” has been already used in 1 Timothy 1:17; see also Exodus 33:20-23. Jesus noted that no man has ever seen God (John 1:18). Yet, one day the saved will see God (1 John 3:2; Matthew 5:8). There are times in the Old Testament when men caught a glimpse of God in a theophany (Genesis 32:30; Exodus 24:9-10; Judges 13:22), yet God has never been seen as God. This is even true of Jesus, who was seen in the flesh but has never been seen in His true natural state.
“To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen”: God is worthy of all honor, He is also worthy to be the One who has eternal dominion. “This whole passage is a magnificent embodiment of the attributes of the living God, supreme blessedness and almighty power, universal dominion, and unchangeable being, inscrutable majesty, radiant holiness, and glory inaccessible and unapproachable by His creatures” (Reese p. 295). The term “dominion” means force, strength, manifested power, rule, and sovereignty. To the disappointment of the wicked and the encouragement of the righteous, God will never cease to be in charge.
Instructions to the Rich
“Instruct those who are rich in this present world”: The term “instruct” is the same as the term “charge” in 6:13. It means to command and order. There is sure a good deal of “ordering” going on in 1 Timothy (1:3; 4:11; 5:7; 6:13). These passages should remind us that the Bible is a book of orders from God and He expects us to obey. The instructions in 6:6-10 were warnings concerning those who desire to get rich and those who love money, this section deals with people who are rich and they became rich without compromising God’s principles.
“The persons Paul has in mind are legitimately rich. He gives no suggestion of avarice or dishonesty involved in the acquiring of the wealth. Paul does not follow the communist line of denying personal property and wealth. He does not condemn rich men because they are rich, but he does warn them of the false trust which they may easily develop” (Kent p. 206).
Please note that there is nothing wrong with being rich. Reese reminds us that when the average income for the whole world is about 200.00 per year, our average incomes make us the rich. Instead of looking around and thinking that these passages only apply to the top 1 percent in our country, they may be overlooking the fact that we are in the top 20 percent of the entire world.
“In this present world”: This should remind us that earthly wealth is temporary and therefore has definite limitations and limited value . This present world is so short compared to eternity that whatever wealth we have should have a small influence on how we live.
“Not to be conceited”: The word “conceited” means highminded, proud, exalted in mind. The rich person must not think that his or her wealth is a mark of special divine favor. “Consequently, if a Christian has riches, it cannot be considered as proof that he is more pleasing to God than his poorer Christian brothers” (Kent p. 206). “They should not suppose that they are any better men, or any nearer heaven, because they are wealthy. Property really makes no distinction in the great things that pertain to character and salvation” (Barnes p. 202).
“Or to fix their hope”: Wealth brings with it the temptation to trust in such wealth, as if such wealth could save or deliver us. “A man who is rich is liable to trust in his riches, and to suppose he needs nothing more (even God!). He feels that he is not dependent on his fellow-men, and he is very likely to feel that he is not dependent on God” (Barnes p. 202).
“Uncertainty of riches”: Compare with Proverbs 11:4; Proverbs 11:28; Proverbs 23:5; Proverbs 27:24. “The duration of life itself, even for a day is uncertain, and wealth cannot be possessed after death. Second, the shifting circumstances of life, such as commercial depressions and war make wealth uncertain. How foolish, then, to transfer one’s trust from God to riches! Yet men show a preference for trusting a bank account rather than a God in Heaven” (Kent p. 207). Matthew 6:19-21.
“But on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy”: “Paul reminds rich people that God is the One who has provided all things for us. No man possesses anything that God did not provide (James 1:17; Psalms 104:28; Psalms 145:16). Furthermore, God provided these blessings richly for our enjoyment. Here asceticism is branded a lie. God’s blessings are not to be shunned, but used as God intended, and when this is done, the user receives a godly satisfaction” (Kent p. 207). “Their kind Master in heaven not only allows men reasonable pleasures and gratifications, but even Himself abundantly provides for them. God does not provide material wealth to stimulate pride or self-exaltation but intends that His gifts be used and enjoyed with all gratitude” (Hiebert p. 121).
“Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works”: That is, to lay up treasure in heaven (Matthew 6:19). If a rich person can use such wealth to help others spiritually and physically, and enjoy doing such, then he is using his wealth as God intended. The phrase “do good” is in the present tense. “It is not enough for a Christian to strive to avoid evil, he must also strive to do good” (Reese p. 299).
“Rich in good works”: “Good works are the only true wealth, as they are also the only true adornment (Revelation 19:8; 1 Peter 3:3-4)” (Reese p. 300). We tend to forget that it is truly a luxury to be able to use one’s wealth to help others. On the other hand, “a wealthy man is extremely poor if his only desire is to hoard wealth” (p. 300).
“To be generous and ready to share”: This is not communism, rather, we are to be generous and share with those who are legitimately in need. Compare with Acts 2:42-44; Acts 4:34-37. “Good sharing is not so easy as one might think. If a man distributes money thoughtlessly, he hurts people by destroying their initiative. Wise giving requires much care and thought. Some who are willing to share are not willing to take the time and make the effort to be sure they are really doing good” (Reese p. 300). Such terminology also infers that the wealthy Christian must not hold himself aloof from those in need.
“Storing up for themselves”: While the rich are doing good and being rich in good works, at the very same time they are storing up for themselves real and lasting riches. “By doing good works, we build a solid and stable spiritual possession” (Reese p. 301).
“The treasure of a good foundation for the future”: Mark 10:21; Luke 16:9; Matthew 6:19-20.
“So that they may take hold of that which is life indeed”: “The contrast is thus between selfish, worldly living as not real life, and unselfish, beneficent living as that which is true life” (Hiebert p. 122). By being generous and helping people the rich person will get a taste of true life and such living will also result in eternal life.
“O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you”: What had been entrusted to Timothy was God’s truth (2 Timothy 2:2), and Timothy is expected to guard this truth, that is, preach it faithfully without any addition or subtraction (2 Timothy 4:2). And, to preach it when it needs to be preached. Do we feel the same responsibility to guard God’s truth? (Proverbs 23:23).
“Avoiding worldly and empty chatter”: The tense here is present, Timothy must be continually avoiding such things. “Worldly” signifies that which is of nonsacred character. The term “empty” refers to “arguments with no real content” (Reese p. 303).
“And the opposing arguments of what is falsely called ‘knowledge’”: Often those who advocate error claim that their error is the true enlightened knowledge on the matter or like the theory of Evolution, that it is “scientific”. Timothy had to battle false or pseudo-knowledge just like we do today. It is nothing new for someone to claim that they have a superior knowledge to what is revealed in the Bible. “This falsely-named knowledge subjects God and His revelation to the mind of man. Throughout the history of the church, there have been men who have claimed a superior knowledge, and have subjugated Scripture to their boasted intellect. Whether they be termed Gnostics or modern liberals, the attitude is the same” (Kent p. 210).
“Which some have professed and thus gone astray from the faith”: That is, such had actually happened in Ephesus to some of the members. The danger of such false-knowledge is that it had led some Christians away from the faith.
“Grace be with you”: “This benediction may be brief, but it is rich in meaning, for grace (all the help that God can give a man) is the greatest blessing of all. With that help, Timothy can carry out all the charges given in this epistle” (Reese p. 306).
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Dunagan, Mark. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 6". "Mark Dunagan Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany