Bible Commentaries

William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament

1 Timothy 6

Verses 3-6



3. Teach these things and exhort.These constitute the work of the preacher. We must teach the people the truth of God and exhort them, in view of death, judgment, hell, heaven, and eternity, to obey these momentous commandments, and walk in the light of these grand and inspiring truths. If any one teaches otherwise, and does not give heed to the hygienic words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the teaching which is according to godliness.Hygienic is the Greek, so frequently used to describe the Word of God. While regeneration raises you from the dead, sanctification cures all of your spiritual diseases, makes you healthy, and qualifies you to live in harmony with all the laws of spiritual hygiene, so you will never again contract spiritual malaria and get sick. Heterodoxy is a Greek word, and simply means “another opinion” different from God’s plain Word.

4. He is puffed up.Spiritual pride lies at the bottom of all heresy. The man is proud, and wants his own way. Salvation makes people humble and teachable. You can not teach a proud man, because he thinks he knows it already. If he does not get rid of his pride, he will have to be taught in the flames of hell. Knowing nothing.This heretic, who will not accept the plain Word of God as the umpire in every case, is really a miserable idolater, worshipping his poor little creed, and so blinded by the devil that he has never received the beautiful light of God in regeneration. He knows nothing about God and his blessed saving truth, but much about questions and word battles. I have frequently met this miserable character in my travels, always ready for dispute. They are ignorant of God, and so blinded by Satan that they constantly handle the Word of God deceitfully. They will talk you to death, and say nothing. It is all a senseless clatter. Nuisance is no name for them.

5. From which [these disputes and controversies] come envy, strife, blasphemies, evil surmisings, and disputations of people, corrupt as to their mind and turned away from the truth, thinking that gain is godliness.They think if they gain a proselyte, they have achieved a victory for God; whereas it is for the devil, as they really serve the devil, thinking he is God. The scribes (the popular pastors in our Savior’s time) and the Pharisees (the official members of the popular Churches) were on this line, even compassing sea and land to make one proselyte, and making him twofold more the child of hell.He still had his own old sins, and now he joins them, adding the sin of hypocrisy, and doubling the mess for hell. Look out for these deluded people! Their name is legion. They make all sorts of professions, and possess but an evil heart. How can I know them? If you have much acquaintance with God’s Word, you will have no trouble to identify them. Their peculiarity is, they are wedded to a poor little creed, and want to bend the Bible to it. In this you can readily detect them. They are not willing to take the Bible for their only guide. They explain away the plain Word of God. They are objects of pity; having been caught in Satan’s lasso, they are faithfully working for him.

6. Godliness with contentment is great gain.If we have godliness, and are perfectly content with godliness alone, we have great gain, because God gives heaven and earth. If we are not contented with godliness, we will lose all in the end.

Verses 7-12



7. We brought nothing into the world, because we are not able to carry anything out.

8. Having food and raiment, we shall be content with these.I am sorry for my rich friends. They are slaves to their possessions. O how free I am, possessing nothing!—still get as much as the rich. I am as sure of a coffin and shroud as they are.

9. Those wishing to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and many injurious and hurtful lusts, which drown people in destruction and perdition.Could you uncap hell, and hear the mournful wails of the countless millions who have been drowned in the bottomless abyss of unquenchable fire through the allurements of riches, you would surrender forever your cherished aspirations after wealth. I knew a man, already rich, to kill his own dear brothers, and appropriate their part of the estate.

What will not fallen man do for money? Nothing but entire sanctification can make you as dead to money as to oyster shells. Hence, you are never safe without it. Satan is watching for a chance to throw the lasso of money love about your neck.

10. For the love of money is a root to all evils.” “The root of all evil,E.V., is not in harmony with the Greek, nor with the facts of universal observation. Many evils come from other sources than the love of money, and are really antagonistical to it; e.g., drunkenness and debauchery, which, instead of loving money, entail swift bankruptcy in earth and hell. Which certain ones seeking after have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.The love of money is a wooden horse carrying Satan’s Greeks into the Churches of the present day. Why all these projects, causing wholesale apostasy? It is to get money, scandalizing the Christian’s God as if he were poor, when he is so rich that he needs none of these things. Preachers and people thus backslide together, hunting money. It ruined poor Judas, and nearly ruined Jacob. Look out, preacher, lest you prove a follower of Judas. You do not need any of these money-raising fandangoes. God’s ravens are not all dead. God open your eyes to see your members going to hell in platoons! You need a revival, instead of a festival.

11. O man of God, fly from these things!What things? Doctrinal heresies—i.e., all anti-holiness teaching; for godliness is everything—and from the love of money. Be God’s freeman, and not man’s hireling. Good Lord, give us the spirit of Elijah, who stood alone for God! Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, Divine love, patience, and meekness.Let us appropriate these beautiful graces in their perfection!

12. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life.When the sinner is not willing to be led captive by the devil at his will, he fights his own fight, and gets whipped all the time. When converted, it becomes a partnership fight between him and Jesus. But when he gets sanctified, then he fights the fight of faith alone, sweetly resting in the arms of Jesus, and shouting all the time over the victory which he receives by faith, even in anticipation; meanwhile Jesus does all the fighting for him, and gives him an everlasting victory. Lay hold on eternal life.Timothy was gloriously saved and sanctified long before this was written, and, of course, had the life of God in his soul. Yet he was still on probation, and liable to forfeit that life by apostasy; so Paul exhorts him to “lay hold on eternal life;” evidently, as we see from the context, referring to his admission into heaven at the end of probation. A man does not “lay hold on” what he already possesses. Hence, there was a sense in which Timothy did not then possess eternal life. What is that sense? Why, he did not at that time posses it in a non-forfeitable sense. There are no non-forfeitable blessings here. Let us take God’s Word as it is, and not trust to our creed, or trust that of another. This Scripture is decisive on this question. Lord, save us from controversy and creedism, make us to receive thy plain Word as the umpire in every case, and never bring our poor little ratiocinaton against thy ipse dixit!

Verses 13-21



You testified a beautiful testimony in presence of many witnesses.Timothy was all right on experience and testimony, always ready to ring out clear and straight.

13. Here we are assured that our Savior was always prompt and bold on testimony, even in the presence of Pilate, the world’s ruler. Of course, this occurred during his arraignment, and doubtless on other occasions, as he preached three years under the administration of Pilate.

14. That you keep the commandment spotless and blameless unto the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ.We see Paul and his preachers were

not looking for death, but for Jesus. That is the true attitude of New Testament saintship. O the brightness it would flash over the gloomy escutcheon of the howling wilderness of Christianity of the present age, if they would exchange the anticipation of the old grim monster for the glorified Savior!

15. Whom the blessed and only Sovereign King of kings and Lord of lords will reveal in his own times.The Son sits at the right hand of the Father, awaiting his time to send him back to this world, while his faithful Bride, toiling and suffering, is waiting her Lord’s return to reign in his glory. The shepherds on the plains, old Simeon and Anna, Zacharias and Elizabeth, Joseph and Mary, were vividly anticipating the first coming; yet the time was known only to the Father.

The spirit of prophecy is still prevalent among the saints of God, in proportion to their proximity to the Throne, revealing to them the crowning climax of the world’s history; i.e., the return of the glorified God-man to take charge of this world, casting out Satan and his myrmidons.

16. Who alone hath immortality.As this clause has become the battle- cry of the soul-sleeping heresy, it is pertinent that it receive our especial attention. Perhaps you are apprised that the above heresy despiritualizes you altogether, leaving you without a soul, and simply conceding physical immortality to the saints only, leaving final annihilation for the wicked. Thus it brutalizes humanity, depriving them of their immortality. It has even had the audacity to tinker with the inspired original, the very words of the Holy Ghost, and change the punctuation of our Savior’s words to the dying thief, so as to read, I say unto thee this day, thou shalt be with me in Paradise,thus making our Savior commit a solecism, as if he were not speaking to the thief in the present tense. They are constrained to make this silly change to save their idol, their poor little creed, which, like all other creedists, they worship as a god; since the true reading, which I here have in the Sinaitic manuscript, the oldest Greek Testament in the world, reads, Truly I say unto thee, This day thou shalt be with me in Paradise,revealing clearly and unequivocally the existence of the thief after his body was dead, and proving positively from the Savior’s lips the soul’s immortality. The rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16) both existed in all the consciousness of their immortal being, after their bodies were dead and their souls had left this world, illustrating the soul’s immortality beyond the possibility of cavil, on the responsibility of our Savior himself. This irrefutable testimony they utterly discard as legitimate proof, because they say, It is a parable.If it were a parable, it is perfectly authentic as proof of the soul’s immortality, even on the hypothesis of parabolic truth. However, it is not a parable, but a positive and infallible history of two literal men, who lived and died in a bygone age, each surviving his body, the one reporting from Abraham’s bosom, and the other from a place of fire and torment in Hades; both seen by the retrospective eye of the omniscient Savior. These and all other cases proving the soul’s immortality, they must encumber all their wits to darken and pervert, in order to save the life of their poor little idol. In Isaiah 14:9-10, we have his inspired testimony to the arrival of Belshazzar, the last Chaldean monarch, in hell, and his salutation by his royal predecessors—rather a wholesale confirmation of the soul’s immortality. Let us drop back to their hackneyed battle-cry, He alone hath immortality.The word here for immortality is athanasia, from a, not, and thanatos, death. Hence, it means freedom from death. Of course, this is a great primary truth; i.e., God alone is free from death and its liabilities. All finite beings are in some way susceptible of death and liable to it. God alone is light and life. Yet he imparts light and life to whom he will. Life in all finite beings is exotic from the Creator, and not indigenous in the creature. In their helter-skelter application of this passage to the nullification of the soul’s immortality, they palm off a lot of occult sophistries on unthinking and uninvestigating people, thus blinding their eyes, stupefying their consciences, and degrading their spiritual aspirations, to accept their brutalizing heresy, despiritualizing them and actually letting the unregenerate down to the level of the brute creation, and offering the saints of God nothing but physical immortality in the restored Eden of this world; thus sweeping away the very existence of heaven and hell. You would be astonished at the prevalence of this specious heresy in the different States of the Union. They adopt all sorts of stratagems to scatter their pestilential literature clandestinely over the land. At this you need not be astonished. It is peculiar to all heretics, as Jesus said, to compass sea and land to make proselytes, and to make them twofold more the children of hell. A man will die for his god. Their pusillanimous little creed is their god, for which they will cheerfully labor, suffer, and die. The power of religion is wonderful, and an awful instrument of destruction when in the hands of the devil. Now let me post you in the adroit sophistries which lie at the foundation of this heresy.

(a.) They confound life and existence, which are entirely different things. They treat them as synonymous; e.g., Satan died when he sinned, and is this day the deadest thing in the universe. Yet his personal existence is as real as that of God. So all the innumerable demons thronging the pandemonium and invading this world are utterly dead; i.e., destitute of spiritual life. Yet these dead, lost, and miserable spirits have their actual, personal existence, as real as the angels. It is equally true of the soul of every sinner, though dead in trespasses and sins. (Ephesians 2:1.) His spiritual existence is as real as that of Paul.

(b.) It is equally true of this heresy that it confounds death and nonexistence, which are utterly distinct realities. There is no such thing as annihilation. Burn a log of wood, and the ashes and gases will weigh just as much as the log before it was burnt. Annihilation does not belong to the province of Omnipotence, which simply has all power within its sphere when it is merely a question of power. There are some things which God can not do; he can not lie; he can not antagonize his own character and attributes. If it were possible, I think it highly probable that God, in mercy, would annihilate the devil and all his myrmidons and all the human souls in hell. But, unfortunately for them, they received immortality from the creative fiat, which opened to them the widest door in the universe for enlargement, achievement, aggrandizement, glorification, and eternal fruition. All this they forfeited by the unhappy verdict of their own free will. Good Lord, help us all to sink out of self, and die to everything but God and his truth, forever losing sight of all human creeds, and, like little Samuel lying on his pallet, meekly say, Speak, Lord, thy servant heareth.“Inhabiting light unapproachable, whom no one of men has seen nor is able to see.” We must keep in mind the glorious Trinity in Divine unity, not drifting off into the tritheistic heresy of three Gods instead of One; but still keeping constantly before our eyes the three distinct personalities of the glorious indivisible Divinity—i.e., Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; remembering that God is revealed in the incarnate Christ. Hence, through the flight of eternal ages the glorified humanity of Christ, filled with the Divinity, will be the inscrutable majesty and magnetism of the celestial universe, thus exalting our redeemed and transfigured humanity above all other created intelligences.

17. Command the rich in the present age not to think about exalted things, nor to trust in uncertain wealth, but in God, who conferreth on us richly all things for our enjoyment.The proud people rush madly after the golden apples, which Satan everywhere waves in the air to attract their deluded gaze, which, the moment received, turn to the ashes of Sodom on the disappointed lips. Meanwhile the humble poor, forsaking all the world and desiring nothing but God, are surprised unutterably and astonished ineffably, not only at the unearthly fruitions of his grace giving them a heaven in which to go to heaven, but lost in incomprehensible bewilderment to find their bodies literally flooded with the munificence of his providence, giving them more than heart can wish.

18. To do good, to be rich in beautiful works, to be free givers, ready communicators,

19. Laying up for themselves a beautiful foundation for the world to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.Paul again, as in 1 Timothy 6:12, uses the powerful Greek compound verb, epilambanoo, which means to receive unto yourself “eternal life.” Let these two clear statements by the inspired apostle forever settle all controversy on the problem of eternal life, revealing positively the forfeitability of that life during probation, and sweeping away the Satanic subterfuge into which many a poor backslider has fallen, and been lulled to sleep by the diabolical lullaby, O you know you were once converted, and you can’t lose eternal life, so take another nap.So Satan sings another tune while he goes fast asleep till the devil can dump him into hell. Here, in the twelfth verse, Paul exhorts Timothy to be courageous, fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life;i.e., when he enters the pearly portals. In 1 Timothy 6:19 he pours his burning exhortation on these paragon saints, whose lives have been flooded with holy philanthropy, thus laying up for themselves a good foundation for the world to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life;thus clearly confirming the conclusion that none of us receive eternal life in a non- forfeitable sense till we pass our probation and enter heaven. These Scriptures confirm beyond the possibility of controversy the great Bible truth of our probation and liability to fall to the end of life. This truth should be proclaimed upon the housetops, as the only available antidote to the devil’s soporific incantations, “once in grace, always in grace.” If this dogma be true, there is not a solitary backslider in hell; whereas, the very contradictory is true. Hell is for none but backsliders, Satan to begin with, who was once an archangel. (Isaiah 14:12.) And as the devils were created angels, as God never made a devil nor a sinner. They were all on probation as we are, and, unfortunately, “they kept not their first estate.” (Jude.) By the glorious redemption of Christ all the human race are born in the kingdom of God like the prodigal son, and only get out by sinning out. Hence, it is an undeniable fact that instead of no backslider going to hell, none go but apostates; all the devils being fallen angels, and all human souls having enjoyed infantile innocence, were justified in the Father’s house before they turned prodigals.

20. O Timothy, guard the trust!The Greek word here is the verb form of phulake, strictly military; as when a Roman soldier stood sentinel the lives of the army and the cause of his country were entrusted to his keeping; if he went to sleep, the penalty was death. The preacher is God’s sentinel on the walls of Zion. Son of man, I have made thee a watchman to the whole house of Israel.

“O watchman, what of the night?

The myriad foe come on to try thee with their might If thou shalt fail one note thy trump to sound, I will hang upon these battlements the watchman on his round”

During the pioneer Indian wars, a man was killed every night at a certain post. After several nights had elapsed, the notoriety of that dangerous post so spread throughout the army that no one was willing there to stand sentinel. Hence, they have to call for a volunteer. A stalwart backwoodsman enlists, and is sent to the post. About midnight he sees a large hog rooting round among the leaves. He observes the animal moving about, but getting near. He calls out to the hog, “Give me the countersign!” He calls the third time. No answer comes. He fires on the hog, and out wallops an old Indian. So God’s sentinel is to take no risk; but fire on the innocent hog when there is good reason for suspicion. God help us to be true sentinels! Avoiding common empty talks.” “Profane babblingsin E.V. does not really convey the idea of the original. The above translation is literal from the original. You observe that Paul repeats this phrase over and over. Hence, it must be exceedingly important. Every speech, exhortation, sermon, prayer, testimony, and song, without the Holy Ghost, is empty. The Greek kenophoonias is from kenos, empty, and phoonee, voice. Hence, it literally means all empty utterances. Our voices belong to God, and should only be articulated for his glory. Therefore all of our utterances without the Holy Ghost are empty. At this point Satan utterly sidetracks the preachers, and gets them to preach, pray, sing, and talk without the Holy Ghost, simply utilizing their intellect and learning. I have known preachers who actually served as a clown for the entertainment of their members. Whenever without the Spirit, we are empty, burning our powder for mere fireworks. Be ye filled with the Spiritis a positive commandment of God. True to that commandment, you will never speak empty words in the pulpit nor out of it. O how obedience to these plain commandments would bring cyclones of power into the pulpit, and Niagaras of salvation into the pews, and “oppositions of science falsely so-called!” Satan’s people have always been trying to array science against the Bible. Bob Ingersoll arraigns Moses for his mistakes on the days of creation; because geology reveals that the earth passed through long periods during its formation. Hence, these demiurgic days were not twenty-four hours, but unknown years. It so happens that the mistakes turn out on Bob’s side of the controversy, as the Bible says (2 Peter 3:8) that God’s day is a thousand years, thus beautifully harmonizing with geology. Of course, these were not man’s days, as he was not in existence at that time, neither were the solar days, as there was no sun to measure them till the fourth day. Hence, they were God’s days, embracing the period of an indefinite thousand years, in harmony with the Hebrew word yom, translated “day,” which means a period of time, as we say Paul’s day. Heaven in R.V. is always singular, as the translators seem to take no stock in astronomy; while the Greek is generally ouranoi, plural, corroborating strikingly the astronomical discoveries of innumerable worlds, and some of them tremendously magnitudinous, constituting the celestial universe.

21. Which certain ones proclaiming have made shipwreck concerning the faith.O how cunningly and magnitudinously is Satan this day, using these “common empty talks” and misnamed “opposition of science” to sidetrack and wreck deluded millions! Grace be with you.See what a sweet, nice little benediction Paul here gives us, and how convenient when brevity is in demand.

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Godbey, William. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 6". "William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament".