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Saturday, September 23rd, 2023
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
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Bible Commentaries
1 Timothy 6

Hampton's Commentary on Selected BooksHampton's Commentary

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Verses 1-2

There were millions of slaves in the Roman empire at the time Paul wrote this letter. Those converted to Christ were urged to be good servants giving proper respect to their masters. If they were offered their freedom, they should certainly take it and only be a slave to the Lord ( 1Co_7:21-24 ). If they remained in a man's service, they should submit to their masters as to the Lord ( Col_3:22-24 ). Some might think of making their work look good on the surface while in reality doing a half-hearted job, but Christians serve the Lord in everything they do ( 1Ti_6:1 ; Eph_6:5-8 ).

It was possible for a Christian to be a master of slaves, as in the case of Philemon ( Phm_1:8-16 ). Further, he might have slaves who became Christians, as in the case of Onesimus. Such slaves might reason that we are all one in Christ and there is neither bond nor free ( Gal_3:28 ). In the spiritual sense, they would have been correct, but spiritual relations do not change physical relations entirely. Wives must still be subject to their own husbands and slaves must be subject to their masters. Now, as Paul went on to say, it should be a greater joy to work under someone and benefit them through your service because a fellow Christian, brother, receives the good from the work you perform ( 1Ti_6:2 ).

Verses 3-5

The Identity and Teaching of False Teachers

False teachers can be identified through their teaching, which is different from the true words of Jesus. Any modification of Christ's teaching makes it different and unacceptable in God's eyes ( Gal_1:6-9 ). Paul uses the word "wholesome," which is similar to our word “healthy,” to describe spiritually healthy words about Jesus which would urge the hearers to godliness. In contrast, the false teacher is so conceited as to believe his reasoning and words are better than the Lord’s. In reality, he does not know anything he needs to know. The false teacher’s greatest pleasure was not in teaching the truth but in arguing about words and questions with which the Lord had not dealt.

Unfortunately, that kind of discussion only leads to envy, angry contention, speaking evil of others and sick imaginations of minds weakened by sin. Such discussions also lead to incessant quarreling and bad feelings that go on and on. Once one has corrupted the word of God it is easy to go on and allow one's own mind to be corrupted. They had possessed the truth but had allowed their own speculations and arguing to rob them of the truth. They then began to preach things that would produce great personal wealth without regard to the truth. They called their preaching godliness only to make the best possible profit ( 1Ti_6:3-5 ).

Verses 6-10

The Truth About Riches

Paul said being God like and content with the state in which one finds himself leads to the richest rewards ( Php_4:11-12 ). Jesus urged his followers to seek the best interests of God and his kingdom first and all the material things they truly needed would be provided ( 1Ti_6:6 ; Mat_6:25-34 ).

Those who spend their lives trying to amass a material fortune will be disappointed to find that none of those things can be taken to the grave or beyond. Babies enter the world with nothing, not even clothes, and everyone leaves the world as he came. Any blessings God gives us beyond food and clothing are beyond our basic needs and should be received with thankfulness ( 1Ti_6:7-8 ).

Those who seek material wealth are like an animal in a trap. Instead of wanting what is best for them, they lust after things that will ultimately only bring them hurt. Seekers of material wealth are compared by Paul to a swimmer tired of fighting the current who is at last pulled under to his death. In the end, his uncontrolled desires will lead to the utter ruin of body and soul ( 1Ti_6:9 ).

After observing the previously mentioned facts, it is no wonder that Paul said the love of money is the root of all evil. Those who devote all their efforts to this god will invariably leave the faith of Christ behind and will find themselves with a painful conscience from all the wrong they did to get more while at the same time feeling miserable because they do not possess even greater wealth ( 1Ti_6:10 ).

Verses 11-16

Confessing the Good Confession

The man devoted to God's service will run away from material greed and pursue God's will. He will display reverence toward God, trust in God's word by obeying his will, show love for God and others in all his pursuits, endure difficulties with God at his side, and maintain a gentle spirit. To accomplish all this, one will have to be ready to carry on the struggle against Satan and selfish desires constantly ( 1Co_9:27 ).

Though already saved from past sins ( Act_2:38 ), the Christian must remain true to his calling if he would receive the ultimate salvation in heaven. The call goes out to all but is only answered by those who would obey the Lord ( Mat_11:28-30 ; Rom_8:28 ; Joh_14:15 ; 1Jn_5:3 ; Act_22:16 ). When confession is so closely tied to teachings about salvation, it must have reference to the confession of Christ as God's Son which is made at baptism ( 1Ti_6:11-12 ; Act_8:37 ).

Paul went on to remind Timothy of the seriousness of living the Christian life. After all, God, the one who sustains life, is watching and so is Jesus. Jesus made the confession that he was the Son of God in the face of death itself ( Joh_18:36-37 ). Just as Jesus confessed his Sonship in front of Pilate, though it endangered his life, Timothy was to keep confessing Jesus as God's Son and the one to be obeyed. To do this, his life should be free from sins that would put a blot on the name of the Lord. This is to be done until the Lord appears again, which he and other messengers from God had foretold ( Joh_14:1-6 ; Act_1:11 ; Heb_9:28 ). Just as Jesus was born at the time appointed by God, he will come again at the time God has appointed ( Mat_24:36 ). The description "King of kings and Lord of Lords" could be used of the Father or the Son without doing damage to either the text or the truth ( 1Ti_6:13-15 ; Deu_10:17 ; Dan_2:47 ; Rev_17:14 ; Rev_19:16 ).

Jesus has immortality from the Father and is the only source of it for us ( Rom_6:9 ; Joh_5:21 ; Joh_5:26 ). He now dwells in heaven and cannot be physically approached by any man. He has never been seen by man as sovereign God, though he did come to earth and take the form of a man ( Php_2:5-8 ). He is due respect because of his eternal power ( 1Ti_6:16 ).

Verses 17-19

Instructions for the Rich

Paul gave the young preacher special instructions to pass on to the rich. First, they should not be overly proud of their wealth because riches are temporary and can disappear in short order ( Mat_6:19-21 ). Second, they should place their trust in God who is actually the source of all that we have ( Act_17:24-26 ). It is a temptation for the rich to believe they have earned all they have, but Paul makes it clear God is the source of our blessings ( 1Ti_6:17 ; compare Php_4:19 ; Mar_10:29-30 ).

Christians, especially rich ones, are to be ready to do good when the opportunity presents itself ( Gal_6:9-10 ). The greatest happiness comes not in material wealth but in being rich in doing good for others. Rich Christians should be anxious to distribute to the needs of those around them and even to send, or communicate, to those missionaries or others in need far away. Instead of hoarding up physical wealth, they should focus on doing good deeds that will in effect be laying up a foundation for them in eternity. Eternal life

is the true and lasting life ( 1Ti_6:18-19 ).

Verses 20-21

Closing Thoughts

Paul closed his letter with the appeal of a father to his son. He asked him to protect the truth entrusted to his care. He especially asked him to refuse the so-called knowledge of the false teachers, which was in reality just a bunch of empty talk. Others who had joined the false teachers in their error had turned aside from the revealed will of God. Paul's closing prayer for Timothy was that the grace of God would be with him ( 1Ti_6:20-21 ).

Bibliographical Information
Hampton, Gary. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 6". "Hampton's Commentary on Selected Books". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghc/1-timothy-6.html. 2014.
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