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Bible Commentaries
1 Timothy 6

The Bible Study New TestamentBible Study NT

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Verse 1


All who are slaves. Christianity is to leaven, not displace, the existing social order. Compare 1 Corinthians 7:20-24 and notes. Many of the Christians were slaves. Because the Law (Exodus 21:2) would not allow anyone to be made a slave for life without his own consent, the Circumcision Party taught that slavery was an illegal thing, if it was involuntary. They used this teaching to try to entice slaves to join their Party. As an apostle, Paul condemns this false teaching. Must consider their masters worthy. “Christian slaves must consider their unbelieving masters worthy of all respect and obedience, so that no one will speak evil of God or the Good News. We do not want them to think Christianity destroys the political rights of individuals.” We meet this same slave problem in Ephesians 6:5; Colossians 3:22; Titus 2:9; Philemon; 1 Peter 2:18.

Verse 2


Who are believers. Christianity does not destroy social and political differences. Instead of leading slaves to rebel, it makes them better and more faithful workers. Christianity changes the attitude of masters (when they believe) and this takes the harshness out of slavery. For as masters drink in the spirit of Christianity, they will be good and kind to their slaves, and even set them free, when this seems best. But since the slave is under a moral obligation to serve his master well, this is doubly true when the master is a brother in Christ. Teach and preach. False teaching will wreck a congregation. Teaching and preaching the truth will combat this. See notes on Acts 21:13-14.

Verse 3


Whoever teaches a different doctrine. Compare. 1 Timothy 1:3-7 and notes. The “slave problem” was an outgrowth of this (see note on 1 Timothy 6:1). And does not agree. What Paul taught was “the true words of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Compare Luke 10:16; Galatians 1:6-9.

Verse 4


Is swollen with pride. “He really knows nothing of either the Jewish or Christian revelation of God, even though he claims to completely understand both!” Unhealthy desire to argue. These men have a passion for arguments and “splitting hairs.” See notes on 1 Corinthians 2:1-2. They have a morbid interest in trivial matters. Compare Matthew 23:23-28 and notes. And this brings on. Their “unhealthy” attitude brings on five things: Jealousy. Especially about the success of Christianity, which the circumcision party felt downgraded the Law of Moses. Dissension. Compare Philippians 1:15 and note. One who “stirs up trouble.” Insults. Quarrels lead to name calling and insults! Evil suspicions. The sick imagination of people who are spiritually psychotic. Compare 3 John 1:10 and note.

Verse 5


And constant arguments, A diatribe. Bitter and constant wrangling which turns people down “blind alleys,” and makes it impossible to “get on with the job.” Who no longer have the truth. The Greek implies that the truth was stolen from them while they were busy with other things. Compare Titus 1:13-14 :2 Timothy 4:3-4. Is a way to become rich. The false teachers saw “easy money” in Christianity, and they distorted the truth to divert money into their pockets. This seemed to be especially true of the teachers who belonged to the circumcision party. Compare Philippians 3:18-19; 2 Corinthians 11:12; 2 Corinthians 12:17-18; Titus 1:11; 2 Peter 2:3.

Verse 6


Well, religion does. Paul takes their motivation and turns it around. Religion does make a man rich, but not in the things they wanted. The treasures of heaven belong to you as a Christian!!! God gave you his Son; he gave you his Spirit; he gave you his Word. He emptied heaven and gave it all to you (1 Corinthians 3:21-23). But the real “pay-off” of Christianity comes in Eternity!!! If he is satisfied. See 2 Corinthians 9:8; Philippians 4:11; Matthew 6:25-34.

Verse 7


Nothing! “He said, ‘I was born with nothing and I will die with nothing. The Lord gave, and now he has taken away. May his name be praised!’ ” (Job 1:21).

Verse 8


So then. Because we must leave all material things behind when we leave this world. If we have food and clothes, we should be satisfied. However, Paul is not saying that we must take a vow of poverty, only that we must not make material wealth our goal and motivation.

Verse 9


Who want to get rich. It is not the fact of being rich, but COVETING these things. “An honest man will lead a full, happy life. But if you are in a hurry to get rich, you are going to be punished” (Proverbs 28:20).

Verse 10


For the love of money. Not money itself, but the LOVE of it! Many misquote this. Money itself is harmless, and can be used to feed the poor, preach the gospel, etc. But the LOVE of money makes men cheat, lie, steal, etc., and even murder! Note the character of Judas (John 12:6), which eventually led him to sell Jesus (Matthew 26:14-16). Wandered away. Chrysostom explains this with the example of an absent-minded man who goes past his destination without knowing it. Some are so eager to have money, that they forget where they really want to go!

Verse 11


Avoid all these things. Every Christian is a man (or woman) of God. Therefore, they each must avoid the love of money (which the false teachers had). Strive for. Do your best to seize these things and make them part of your life.

Verse 12


Run your best. AGONIZOU can be translated both “fight” and “run” (in the sense of competing in a race). [A different word is used in 1 Timothy 1:18] “Run your best in the race” had become a slogan of the Games. The Greek shows a continuous running. And win eternal life. Eternal life is not achieved, but seized! Even though “Christ on the cross” is the sole basis for our being “put right with God,” still there is a human element in the sense that we must firmly hold on to Christ our Salvation!!! The false teachers had let go. Using the symbolism of the Games, Paul says to win eternal life for yourself! Good profession of faith. In our language, “confession” has to do with guilt. We profess or declare our faith in Christ. Compare Matthew 16:16; Acts 8:37.

Verse 13


Before God. This is a solemn obligation which Paul places on Timothy (and every Christian), but it is also a word of encouragement!!! Before Pontius Pilate. See John 18:33-37.

Verse 14


Obey the commandment. To obey and to keep (preserve intact) are opposite sides of the same coin. I understand the commandment to be what Paul has said in 1 Timothy 6:11-12. It begins with the good profession, in which we reach out through faith to seize Christ (See notes on Acts 2:37-38). MacKnight understands the good profession to be a continuous profession of faith before all mankind. Until the Day. Compare 1 Thessalonians 5:23.

Verse 15


His appearing. In 1 Timothy 6:14, Paul tells Timothy to remember that Christ is coming again. We all look forward to this! But no one knows the time when this will happen – no one but God himself (Matthew 24:36)! Jesus discouraged his apostles when they wanted to pry into this matter (Acts 1:7). At the right time by God. We look to the past and see there how God has worked things out at the right time. Paul reminds us of who our God is, with a doxology of praise!!! “Don’t worry about when Christ will come! Our God will take care of that, at the right time!!!”

Verse 16


He alone is immortal. This simply means that God is entirely separate from every created thing, which includes angels and the Devil. God alone is UNCREATE (independently existent, without either beginning or end). [On the Trinity, see note on Romans 16:27] No one has ever seen him. Moses is not a contradiction to this. Compare Deuteronomy 5:4-5 : Galatians 3:19. MacKnight says that from this text, some of the ancient fathers inferred that the Divine Person who appeared to the Patriarchs and Israelites was not the Father, but the Son. Compare note on John 8:24.

Verse 17


Command those. Being rich is not a sin, but being in love with this world is! The things of this life puts worldly wealth in the right perspective. Not to be proud. Here is the real danger. Pride could lead to despising others. But in God. He is the real source of everything we have!!! He is the only source of eternal life!!!

Verse 18


To do good. This is the right way to use worldly wealth. Honest wealth, rightly used, blesses both those who give and those who receive. Christianity teaches a new principle of life (Ephesians 4:28).

Verse 19


In this way. “The only way you can take it with you is to use it in the right way NOW!” This does not imply degrees of reward, since God awards eternal life through the merit of Christ on the cross!!! See notes on Matthew 20:13-14. Note that a wrong use of this world will disqualify us for eternal life (Matthew 25:31-46).

Verses 20-21


Timothy, keep safe. These last two verses are a summary of the entire Letter. The gospel turned over to Timothy to keep and to pass on (2 Timothy 2:2), is the true account of Jesus as the Son of God, the fact that he is a descendant of David and Abraham, his birth by a virgin, his teaching, his miracles, his death, his raising from death, his going back to the Father, his return to raise the dead and judge the world. In other words, it is God’s act in Christ to set men free!!! Knowledge. This is the force of distortion, which began its work as soon as the Good News was preached that first Pentecost. We see it in the circumcision party, with their legends and long lists of names of ancestors, their false pride, and their unhealthy desire to argue and quarrel about words. Paul was a restorationist, because he called Christians back to the purity of the Good News!!! Compare note on 2 Timothy 2:16.

Bibliographical Information
Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 6". "The Bible Study New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ice/1-timothy-6.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.
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