Paul Addresses Slavery - In 1 Timothy 6:1-2 Paul addresses the issue of slavery, but does so from the perspective of upholding Church order and doctrine. In his epistles to the Corinthians, Ephesians and Colossians Paul spoke to the church members on how to conduct themselves in these relationships. However, in 1Timothy Paul bases these charges on the need to uphold the doctrine of God, which is the underlying theme of the Pastoral Epistles.
Slavery in the Ancient World- Slavery was a big part of the fabric of Roman society. There were an estimated sixty million slaves serving their masters in the Roman Empire, which had an estimated population of one hundred and twenty million people. Thus, half of the population was bound in slavery. The cruel Roman government enforced this bondage because the success of its economy was dependent upon the sweat of slave labour. Thus, Paul had to be careful not to appear as if he was calling for a revolution of emancipation of slavery. He would have quickly been thrown in prison. Yet, his Jewish background found him against it. His understand of the Gospel led him to the understanding that slavery was not God's will for mankind. Thus, every time Paul addresses this issue, he does it with carefulness by drawing attention to the spiritual laws of freedom in Christ and servanthood to one another.
1 Corinthians 7:21, "Art thou called being a servant? care not for it: but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather."
Ephesians 6:5-9, "Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men: Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free. And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him."
Colossians 3:22, "Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God:"
1 Peter 2:18, "Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward."
Since the relationship between a slave and his owner was one of the more difficult issues that the early Church had to deal with, Paul wrote the short epistle of Philemon as a guideline to other churches in how to deal with this situation. It is important to understand that slavery was commonplace in the Roman Empire. Roman law favored the slave owners by considering the slaves nothing more than a piece of property to be bought and sold at will. They were beaten for minor offences and even killed for a number of reasons, such as running away.
In contrast, the Mosaic Law provided for humane treatment of slaves. James Borland and Jeffery Khoo provide a list of Scripture references to the treatment of slaves under the Old Testament Law.
"A Jewish slave could not be bound for more than six years, but was set free during the sabbatical year ( Exodus 21:2). A Jew who sold himself into slavery due to debt was to be freed in the year of Jubilee ( Leviticus 25:39-43). Slaves were treated like household members ( Leviticus 25:53) and became partakers of the covenant ( Genesis 17:27). Harming a slave resulted in his freedom ( Exodus 21:26-27), and if someone killed a slave he would be severely punished ( Exodus 21:20). An escaped slave was to be neither hunted nor returned to his master ( Deuteronomy 23:15-16). Slaves could own possessions ( Leviticus 25:47-55). And there were other laws granting slaves proper human rights." 123]
123] James A. Borland, The Epistle to Philemon, in The KJV Bible Commentary, eds. Edward E. Hindson and Woodrow M. Kroll (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Pub, 1994), in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004), "Introduction"; Jeffery Khoo, "Lecture Notes: Epistle to Philemon," (Singapore: Far East Bible College) [on-line]; accessed 3February 2010; available from http://www.febc.edu.sg/assets/pdfs/studyrresource/philemon.pdf; Internet.
Thus, we can conclude that Paul was not condoning slavery, but was rather attempting to give guidelines to the Churches on how to deal with a rather difficult issue in this culture. Although Paul was not going to change Roman law overnight, the Gospel of Jesus Christ called mankind to a higher calling, one of the Cross, which expresses forgiveness, humility, servanthood and love. Paul understood that he was not moving people to violate Roman law, but rather, to be good citizens of the Empire. He did not want to appear as if he was hiding a runaway slave from Roman officials, for the legal penalty for the slave was death. He must work within the bounds of both the Roman law as well as the divine laws of God. Thus, the epistle of Philemon reveals a tremendous amount of wisdom on Paul's part to reconcile to believers without violating divine or Roman law. Bible scholars say that the early Church fathers took a very conservative view on slavery. But, since it was interwoven into the structure of the Roman Empire, it could not be abolished without a social revolution. This position that Paul took in his epistles regarding slavery reminds us of Jesus' reply to the Jewish leaders when He said, "Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar"s; and unto God the things that are God"s." ( Matthew 22:21)
1 Timothy 6:3-10 — Warnings about Those Who Reject Godly Counsel - In 1 Timothy 6:3-10 Paul warns young Timothy about those who reject sound doctrine.
Prosperity in Contentment- 1 Timothy 6:6-8 show us that God"s greatest blessing is contentment. However, 1 Timothy 6:9-10 shows us that the blessings of this world only bring sorrow. Note this same theme in Proverbs 10:22, "The blessing of the LORD, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it."
Note the progression of events in 1 Timothy 6:9-10 which lead a man to destruction. The desire for earthly things brings a person into temptations. Once a person yields to these temptations he finds himself ensnared by those sins. The practice of these sins brings a person into bondage as he craves many foolish and hurtful lusts. Such addictions eventually leads to the destruction of the entire man; spirit, soul and body.
We see this same contrast between God's blessings and the enticement of this world in James 1:13-18. This passage of Scripture gives us a similar description of how earthly desires progress from temptation and enticement, lust and finally destruction.
James 1:13-18, "Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. Do not err, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures."
Scripture References- Note similar verses:
Proverbs 19:27, "Cease, my Song of Solomon, to hear the instruction that causeth to err from the words of knowledge."
Romans 16:17, "Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them."
1 Timothy 6:3 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;
1 Timothy 6:3 — Comments- The phrase "even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ" refer to the foundational teachings that Jesus Christ laid down in the Gospels, and the phrase "to the doctrine which is according to godliness" could refer to the fact that Paul built upon these teachings in the nine Church Epistles, where he laid down the doctrines of the New Testament Church.
1 Timothy 6:4 He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings,
1 Timothy 6:5 Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.
1 Timothy 6:5 — Comments- These false teachers say that the Christian life is a way of earthly gain. In a similar manner, Satan accused Job of fearing God for what he could get from God ( Job 1:9).
Job 1:9-11, "Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought? Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face."
1 Timothy 6:6 But godliness with contentment is great gain.
1 Timothy 6:5-6 — Comments- Paul's Balance on Prosperity- Prosperity can be preached in many different ways. It is very Scriptural to financial preach prosperity within the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, some preachers have landed in the ditch on one side by condemning the prosperity message as a "name-it-claim-it-gospel," saying that prosperity is not for everyone one. Others have landed in the ditch on the other side of the road by teaching that gain, or prosperity, is the indicator of godliness (verse 5). The balanced teaching on prosperity keeps our priorities clear by saying that a pure heart is the indicator of godliness, whether one moves into prosperity in this life or not (verse 6).
1 Timothy 6:7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
1 Timothy 6:8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.
1 Timothy 6:8 — Scripture References- Note a similar verse:
Hebrews 13:5, "Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee."
1 Timothy 6:9 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.
1 Timothy 6:9 — Comments- In teaching on 1 Timothy 6:9 Joyce Meyer said that lust can be defined as a longing for something to the extent that a person cannot be happy without it. 124] Thus, in 1 Timothy 6:9 Paul explains that when a person desires earthly riches, he sets himself in a position to fall in to temptations and snares. This verse describes a person who is not walking in godliness with contentment ( 1 Timothy 6:6), but rather in lustful desires.
124] Joyce Meyer, Enjoying Everyday Life (Fenton, Missouri: Joyce Meyer Ministries), on Trinity Broadcasting Network (Santa Ana, California), 21January 2009, television program.
1 Timothy 6:10 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.
1 Timothy 6:10 — "For the love of money is the root of all evil" - Illustrations:
1. Delilah sold Samson for eleven hundred pieces of silver.
Judges 16:5, "And the lords of the Philistines came up unto her, and said unto her, Entice him, and see wherein his great strength lieth, and by what means we may prevail against him, that we may bind him to afflict him: and we will give thee every one of us eleven hundred pieces of silver."
2. Judas sold Jesus for thirty pieces of silver.
Matthew 26:15, "And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver."
1 Timothy 6:10 — Comments- Kenneth Copeland said, "When fear comes in, money becomes the root of all evil." 125] In other words, the love for money is an act of fear, of being afraid that God will not provide for His children, and this leads to covetousness and greed. But when the motive of love comes into one's heart, then money becomes the supply of God's provision.
125] Kenneth Copeland, Believer's Voice of Victory (Kenneth Copeland Ministries, Fort Worth, Texas), on Trinity Broadcasting Network (Santa Ana, California), television program.
Creflo Dollar said, "The love of money is having the wrong relationships with the things of this world." 126]
126] Creflo Dollar, "Sermon" (Fort Worth, Texas: Kenneth Copeland's Southwest Believer's Conference), 7 August 2007.
Scripture References- Note:
Matthew 19:23, "Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God."
1 Timothy 6:9-10 — "hurtful lusts....pierced themselves through with many sorrows" - Comments- One of the most painful experiences for a backslider who has returned to God is to see how much hurt one"s sin has caused in other people"s lives.
The heart is overcome many times with piercing sorrows and pains after one has known Jesus, drifted away and turned back. These backslidings were brought about through lust and covetousness. The pleasures of sin are but for a season ( Hebrews 11:25).
Hebrews 11:25, "Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;"
Scripture References- Note a similar passage:
Proverbs 23:4-5, "Labour not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom. Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven."
Slavery and Wealth: Paul Addresses the Roles of Slaves and the Rich within the Local Church- In 1 Timothy 6:1-19 Paul finally deals with the laity, particularly with two related subjects, which is the difficult issue of slavery within the local church members and with earthly riches; for it is the pursuit of earthly wealth that drives the corrupt institution of slavery. He gives responsibility to the rich and the poor members of every congregation. Paul firs discusses the duties of the slaves ( 1 Timothy 6:1-2), then the duties of the rich ( 1 Timothy 6:3-19).
After giving Timothy charges concerning the slaves within the local assembly ( 1 Timothy 6:1-2), Paul explains the dangers of greed and charges the rich. Those who reject Paul's counsel regarding slavery do so because of greed for earthly gain (3-10). Thus, in 1 Timothy 6:11-16 Paul charges Timothy to pursue godliness instead of earthly gain. Finally, Paul follows these warnings with charges to them that do have riches to use their riches to honor God ( 1 Timothy 6:17-19).
Outline - Here is a proposed outline:
1. Paul Addresses Slavery — 1 Timothy 6:1-2
2. Warnings About Those Who Reject Godly Counsel — 1 Timothy 6:3-10
3. Paul Warns Timothy to Pursue Righteousness — 1 Timothy 6:11-16
4. Paul's Instructions Regarding the Rich — 1 Timothy 6:17-19
Paul Warns Timothy to Pursue Righteousness Instead of Earthly Riches - In 1 Timothy 6:11-16 Paul warns Timothy to pursue righteousness instead of earthly riches.
1 Timothy 6:11 But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.
1 Timothy 6:11 — Comments- On two occasions Paul warns young Timothy to flee certain things, which are sexual immorality and financial greed ( 1 Timothy 6:11, 2 Timothy 2:22). These two issues are perhaps the greatest reasons for failure in the ministry.
2 Timothy 2:22, "Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart."
1 Timothy 6:12 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.
1 Timothy 6:12 — "Fight the good fight of faith" - Comments- Philippians 2:12-13 is similar to 1 Timothy 6:12 in that they both refer to endeavoring to live the Christian life amidst adversaries. We are to press on for Christ Jesus, realizing that God is working in us to do it.
Philippians 2:12-13, "Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure."
However, this fight is not only against adverse circumstances. It is against our own fleshly desires in an effort to yield to the will of God.
1 Timothy 6:12 — "lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called" - Comments- We lay hold on eternal life by laying hold of God's Word. Figuratively speaking, Eleazar, one of David's mighty men, clung to his sword until his had was weary ( 2 Samuel 23:10).
2 Samuel 23:10, "He arose, and smote the Philistines until his hand was weary, and his hand clave unto the sword: and the LORD wrought a great victory that day; and the people returned after him only to spoil."
The sword, for us, is the Word of God ( Ephesians 6:17) and the Word of God is how we find life ( John 6:63), that Isaiah, the Word of God is our life ( Proverbs 4:20-22). The Word of God quickens us ( Psalm 119:50).
Ephesians 6:17, "And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:"
John 6:63, "It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life."
Proverbs 4:20-22, "My Song of Solomon, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh."
Psalm 119:50, "This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me."
1 Timothy 6:13 — "and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses" - Comments- In 1 Timothy 6:13 Paul reminds him of his confession of faith before many witnesses. This certainly refers to Timothy's initially profession of faith in Christ at the time of his salvation. It may include other times when he had to take a public stand for Christ. This statement also gives us insight into how people were saved in the early Church. They must have made some type of public declaration of their faith in Christ.
1 Timothy 6:16 — "Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see" - Comments- There are many testimonies of those who have visited heaven and have seen the throne of God. They all give a similar description of a throne that is so bright that is it not possible to gaze into it. Some have even been warned not to look steadfast into this brightness of God's glory. In the natural world, God has created the sun in the heavens as a type and figure of the brightness of His heavenly glory. On earth it is not possible to gaze directly into the sun because of its intense brightness. Song of Solomon, it is with the throne of God as described in this verse.
Paul's Instructions Regarding the Rich - In 1 Timothy 6:17-19 Paul gives Timothy instructions regarding another difficult issue to deal with in the local congregation, and that is the role of the rich.
1 Timothy 6:17 — Comments - God gives us daily blessings, and material prosperity so that we will be happy. When I take my family on a vacation, I want them to enjoy what I am giving them. I want them to also have an attitude of gratitude. If they are fighting and complaining while we are on vacation, I feel disappointed. I feel that I have wasted my time and money because they are not enjoying what I am giving to them.
Closing Charge - 1 Timothy 6:20-21 contains Paul's conclusion to his letter to Timothy by giving him a closing charge to be faithful to everything that he has been entrusted with. Paul's opening charge for Timothy was to teach sound doctrine ( 1 Timothy 1:3-20) that establishes the pure faith within the lives of the congregation, and failure to do this causes many to err from the true faith of the Christian life ( 1 Timothy 6:20-21).
1 Timothy 6:20 O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called:
1 Timothy 6:21 Which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace be with thee. Amen.
1 Timothy 6:21 — "Grace be with thee" - In 1 Timothy 6:21 Paul basically commends them into the hands of the Lord Jesus Christ, in much the same way that he did in the book of Acts. We find this statement at the end of all of Paul's epistles.
Acts 14:23, "And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed."
Acts 20:32, "And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified."
In a similar way that the early apostles were instructed by Jesus to let their peace come upon the home of their host ( Matthew 10:13), so did Paul the apostle open every one of his thirteen New Testament epistles with a blessing of God's peace and grace upon his readers. Matthew 10:13 shows that you can bless a house by speaking God"s peace upon it.
Matthew 10:13, "And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you."
This practice of speaking blessings upon God's children may have its roots in the Priestly blessing of Numbers 6:22-27, where God instructed Moses to have the priests speak a blessing upon the children of Israel. Now Paul closes his first epistle Timothy by restating the blessing that he opened his epistle with in 1 Timothy 1:2.
1 Timothy 6:21 — "Amen"- Comments- In the Textus Receptus the word "Amen" is attached to the end of all thirteen of Paul's epistles, as well as to the Gospels of Matthew and Mark, and to the General Epistles of Hebrews, 1, 2 Peter, 1, 2 John, and to the book of Revelation. However, because "Amen" is not supported in more ancient manuscripts many scholars believe that this word is a later liturgical addition. For example, these Pauline benedictions could have been used by the early churches with the added "Amen."
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Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 6". Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany