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Bible Commentaries
1 Timothy 6

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Verses 1-2


1 Timothy 6:1. That the name of God and His doctrine be not blasphemed.—Masters who had slaves professing to be Christians and yet supercilious would curse them and their new faith.

1 Timothy 6:2. Let them not despise them.—Two uses of this word by our Lord will be its best interpretation. In Matthew 6:24 He too speaks of the servant who has two different masters, for one of whom he has dropped all estimation. In Matthew 18:10 Christ warns against thinking the little ones as unworthy of attention.


Christianity and Servitude.

I. Respect must be shown to unbelieving masters.

1. Though the service is humiliating and unjust. “As many servants as are under the yoke count their masters worthy of all honour” (1 Timothy 6:1). The servant of those days was a slave. The Roman Empire was about equally divided by freemen and slaves. Slavery was an ancient and widely spread institution, and was closely bound up with the social life of the times. All this was to be changed, and has been changed. Christianity has effected the revolution, not by appealing to and stirring up political passions, but by implanting principles in the expansion of which it is impossible for slavery to live. The Christian, though a slave, was taught to show respect to his master; and the injunction was perhaps necessary, as the servant in his newly found moral freedom might be tempted to regard himself as superior to his unbelieving master, and to develop an arrogant and rebellious spirit.

2. Respectful servitude will guard religion from reproach. “That the name of God and His doctrine be not blasphemed” (1 Timothy 6:1). The heathen master would be compelled to respect a religion that made his servant honest, industrious, obedient, respectful, and morally consistent. Many masters were won over to Christianity by the holy examples of their slaves.

II. Nor should less respect be shown towards believing masters.

1. Because of the equality of servant and master in Christian brotherhood. “Let them not despise them because they are brethren” (1 Timothy 6:2). The servant might presume upon this equality and take unwarrantable liberties, and seek to justify even positive neglect and disobedience. Before God master and man are alike; before the world, and according to the contract existing between them, they are master and servant. In doing his duty conscientiously the servant is not only serving his earthly master, but also pleasing God.

2. Equality in Christian brotherhood is rather a stronger reason for fidelity in servitude. “But rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit” (1 Timothy 6:2). The cultivation of the Christian spirit promotes a better understanding between master and servant. They learn to respect each other, and to discharge their mutual obligations with cordiality and justice.

III. Christianity enforces the sacredness of duty in servitude.—“These things teach and exhort.” Religion must be carried into every department and relationship in life. However humble and trying our lot, it has its duties, and religion teaches us to find alleviation in every hardship by faithfully doing the duty of the moment. Duty can be satisfied with its doings, but love has never done enough. The dying Nelson said, “Thank God, I have done my duty.” The dying saint can only say, “I am an unprofitable servant.”


1. Christian liberty has its legitimate restraints.

2. Christianity teaches the true dignity of labour.

3. Practical Christianity will inevitably rectify the unjust inequalities between master and servant.


1 Timothy 6:1-2. Duties of servants.

I. Christian servants should prevent scandal to religion by showing respect to their masters as such (1 Timothy 6:1).

II. Should not presume on the equal brotherhood which religion recognises between Christian masters and servants (1 Timothy 6:2).

III. The participation in equal religious privileges should make the servant more conscientious and diligent (1 Timothy 6:2).

Verses 3-5


1 Timothy 6:3. Teach otherwise.—R.V. “teacheth a different doctrine.” Wholesome words.—R.V. “sound [margin, Gr. healthful] words.”

1 Timothy 6:4. Doting about questions.—R.V. margin, “sick”—in contrast to the healthful words of the Lord Jesus.

1 Timothy 6:5. Perverse disputings.—A. V. margin, “gallings one of another.” R.V. “wranglings.” Supposing that gain is godliness.—Men may choose mammon rather than God, but we can hardly suppose they mistake one for the other, as this translation says. R.V. corrects this—“supposing that godliness is a way of gain.”


The Vagaries of False Teachers

I. Ignore the wholesome doctrines of the Divine Teacher (1 Timothy 6:3).—There is no possible folly that the unregenerate mind will not adopt and eagerly champion as if it were the soberest truth. Christ is Himself the Truth in its highest and most complete embodiment, and His words are full of invigorating moral health. The teacher who has no regard for the teachings of Christ, but is carried away with the crude, unshapen fancies of his own brain, deceives others and is himself deceived. No wonder that the mind that cherishes unwholesome doctrines becomes itself diseased, and its high-flown theories are but the ravings of a fanatic.

II. Are a compound of pride and ignorance.—“He is proud, knowing nothing” (1 Timothy 6:4). He is wrapt in smoke, darkened with the fumes of his inordinate self-conceit. The man who boasts of superior knowledge betrays his utter ignorance; and ignorance is the foster-parent of pride. True knowledge makes a man modest and humble. The wisest men feel that they know nothing compared with what they are capable of knowing. A man who was regarded as a marvel of learning once said: “I seem to myself like a basket in which are being carried away the fragments of a hotel—a bit of this, the fag-end of that, and all sorts of things jumbled up together. I do not know anything except little fragmentary parts of this, that, and the other.”

III. Are the occasion of meaningless controversy and quarrelsomeness.—“Doting about questions and strifes of words … perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth” (1 Timothy 6:4-5). Controversy is valueless where there is a lack of knowledge and exact definition. Words are but wind, unless there is the clear recognition of substantial and unvarying truth. Reckless controversy raises more disputes than it settles, and generally intensifies the quarrel. A corrupt heart reappears in corrupt speech. A question of mere words creates endless confusion, envyings, and strife.

IV. Are the prolific offspring of an utterly false conception of godliness.—“Supposing that gain is godliness” (1 Timothy 6:5). Godliness was espoused and advocated by the false teachers as a means of gain. There is nothing more despicable than to make money out of religion, or to be religious because of the gains it brings. The love of gain endangers righteous principles. An old Elector of Brandenburg once said to the Duke of Saxony, “How do you manage to coin so much money, you princes of Saxony?” “Oh,” replied he, “we make money by it.” And so they did, by the quantity of alloy they put into their coin. Godliness is gain; but gain is not godliness.

V. Are to be deliberately shunned.—“From such withdraw thyself” (1 Timothy 6:5). To be associated with tricksters, whether in religion or commerce is to lose caste. We are to “avoid the appearance of evil,” and “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness.”


1. Error is a wicked caricature of truth.

2. Ignorance may be detected by its proud pretensions.

3. Godliness and false doctrine are antagonistic.


1 Timothy 6:3-5. The Provision made in the Plan of Salvation by the Free Grace of God through Faith to secure the Interests of Morality and promote Holiness of Life.

I. The state of mind of any man and also his outward conduct are necessarily influenced by what he believes, so far as it may be of a nature fitted to influence him, and all the doctrines revealed in Scripture are fitted by their nature to produce each its own specific effect on his heart and conduct; and if these doctrines were clearly understood, firmly believed, and at liberty to produce their full effects upon his soul, the result would be a character similar in all respects to the character of our Lord Jesus Christ.

II. In the plan of redemption provision is made for enlisting the powerfully operative affections of love and gratitude on the side of holiness.

III. The scheme of redemption unites us to Christ in several relations which contain in them the basis of certain combinations of affections and principles which are most operative in human affairs.

1. Christ’s redeemed people stand related to Him as children to their parents, and thereby a foundation is laid for their being animated by the spirit of children.

2. Are united to Him on the footing on which a wife is united to her husband.

3. In the relation of soldiers to their general and sovereign.—Anonymous.

Verses 6-8


1 Timothy 6:7. We brought nothing into this world.—Compare Job 1:21. It is not safe to say St. Paul is quoting here. All times and peoples have such sayings.

1 Timothy 6:8. Let us be therewith content.—R.V. margin, “in these we shall have enough.”


Godliness the Highest Gain

I. Because it ensures the supply of absolute necessities.—“Having food and raiment let us be therewith content” (1 Timothy 6:8). Our real wants are few. What do we need more than food and covering? They who fear the Lord have the promise of sustenance (Isaiah 33:16; Psalms 37:3). The godly are under the special care of the Divine Universal Provider.

II. Because it promotes a spirit of contentment.—“Godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Timothy 6:6). Godliness is a great means of gain—not of that gain which breeds discontent in its covetous pursuit, but the present and eternal gain which piety brings to the soul. Godliness is gain when it is accompanied with the contentment it inspires. It not only feels no need of what it has not, but also has that which exalts it above what it has not. Godliness is its own sufficiency, and satisfies every want of the complex nature of man. Godliness, even with affliction, is great gain. A minister recovering from a dangerous illness confessed, “This six weeks’ illness has taught me more divinity than all my past studies and all my ten years’ ministry put together.”

III. Because the contentment accompanying true godliness is independent of worldly possessions (1 Timothy 6:7).—Godliness reminds us of the condition in which we entered the world, and in which we shall leave it. We brought nothing with us; we shall take nothing away. If we have little, we are taught to be content with that little; if we have much, we are taught how fragile is our hold upon our possessions—not to set our hearts upon them, but use them as stewards who must give an account to the Giver of all good. Richard Boyle, the great Earl of Cork, outlived most of those who had known the meanness of his beginning. He never forgot it himself, but took pains to preserve the memory of it to posterity in the motto he always used, and which he caused to be placed on his tomb: “God’s providence is my inheritance.”


1. Our spiritual gains are our truest wealth.

2. Contentment is a special endowment of godliness.

3. The godly man makes the best of both worlds.


1 Timothy 6:6-8. The Cultivation of Christian Contentment.

I. Godliness is itself a gain.

1. Because it is a satisfying reality.

2. Because it gives us the highest pleasures of which we are capable.

II. Godliness with contentment is great gain.

1. Contentment is the outcome of godliness.

2. Reasons for cultivating Christian contentment.

(1) We have nothing (1 Timothy 6:7).

(2) We have need of nothing (1 Timothy 6:8).

(3) We are in danger of being entangled by striving after earthly things (1 Timothy 6:9-10).

3. The advantages of cultivating Christian contentment.

(1) It will protect us from the temptation to become rich anyhow.
(2) It will shield us from avarice.
(3) It will teach us to acquire spiritual riches.
(4) It will gladden the brief space of our earthly probation.—Lay Preacher.

1 Timothy 6:6. Contentment.

I. The text presents us with a bride.—“Godliness.”

II. A bridesmaid.—“Contentment.”

III. Her great dowry.—“Great gain.”

IV. The present payment.—“Godliness with contentment is great gain.”

1. What the world counts gain is loss.

2. What the world counts loss is gain.—T. Fuller.

Verses 9-10


1 Timothy 6:9. They that will be rich.—The cry of the day is against those who are rich; the danger is equally great for those who would be if they could,—a somewhat comprehensive saying. Which drown men.—The word is found again in Luke 5:7 only, to describe the swamping of the fishing-boats on Galilee.

1 Timothy 6:10. While some coveted after.—The word is the same as in 1 Timothy 3:1 is rendered “desire” or “seeketh.” The R.V. “reaching after” is more accurate. Many sorrows.—Sharp griefs; lit. “gnawing pains of remorse” (Blomfield). Ellicott denies that the word is derived from the Greek for a tooth. Grimm thinks they may have a common root.


Insatiable Avarice

I. Has its root in the love of money.—“The love of money is the root of all evil” (1 Timothy 6:10). Not money, but the love of it, is the root of evil. Hence the warning, “If riches increase, set not thy heart upon them.” Money has been the bait that has enticed many astray. They ran well for a time, till, as in the fable of Atalanta, a golden ball was cast in their path, and, stooping to pick it up, they lost the race. The love of money kills all other love. Men have sold their consciences, their friends, their family, for pelf. Avarice degrades our manhood.

II. Weans the soul from the truth.—“Which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith” (1 Timothy 6:10). Avarice is a master-passion which subdues and enthrals our better self. God is exchanged for gold, religion for money-getting. A relish for spiritual things cannot coexist with the love of lucre. Faith becomes dim in the presence of shining coins. An American millionaire was so enslaved with money-getting that he complained he was kept on the drive from morning to night. Wealth is a splendid opportunity for doing good, but to the best it is a dangerous temptation.

III. Curses the soul with the pangs of discontent.—“And pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (1 Timothy 6:10). The miser is in perpetual dread of poverty. The more he has the more he wants. Avarice is insatiable. Money cannot give health or happiness, nor can it prolong life by a single day. Cardinal Beaufort, Chancellor of England in the reign of Henry VI., as he lay dying exclaimed: “Wherefore should I die, being so rich? If the whole realm would save my life, I am able either by policy to get it or by riches to buy it. Fie! will not death be hired? Will money do nothing?” The miser is the most miserable of men, and of all men to be the most pitied.

IV. Plunges the soul into a course of sin that ends in perdition.—“Which drown men in destruction and perdition” (1 Timothy 6:9). Wealth leads to luxury, self-indulgence, and a host of sins that defile and then damn the soul. Few men can resist the allurements of sudden fortune: they plunge into excesses that soon end them, or their money. The bane of the avaricious man is often the instrument of his punishment. About the time the apostle was denouncing the sin of covetousness in this epistle, Seneca was decrying the same evil and composed his ethics; but as if to show the impotence of his own precepts, he was accused of having amassed the most ample riches—a circumstance that was no doubt the cause of his finally falling a victim to the jealousy and avarice of Nero.


1. Avarice grows on what it feeds.

2. The sin of avarice is the parent of many other sins.

3. Avarice unfits the soul to appreciate the truth.


1 Timothy 6:9. The Danger of Riches.

I. Who are the rich?

1. They who desire more than food and covering.

3. They who endeavour after more than food and covering.

3. They who lay up treasures on earth.

4. They who possess more of this world’s goods than they use according to the will of the donor.

5. They who delight in money.

II. Dangers of the rich.

1. They enter into temptation.

2. They fall into silly and hurtful desires.

III. Duties of the rich.

1. Gain all you Song of Song of Solomon 2:0. Save all you Song of Song of Solomon 3:0. Give all you Song of Song of Solomon 4:0. All that is laid out in this manner is really given to God.—Wesley.

1 Timothy 6:10. The Love of Money

I. Tends to arrogate and narrow and impel the whole action and passion of the soul toward one exclusive object, and that an ignoble one.

II. Throws a mean character into the estimation of all things.—They are all estimated according to a standard of money-value, and in reference to gain.

III. Places a man in a very selfish relation to other men around him.

IV. Creates a settled hardness of character.

V. Operates with a slow but continual effect to pervert the judgment and conscience.J. Foster.

Verses 11-12


1 Timothy 6:11. Flee these things; and follow after.—We have a vivid view of the fear on the one side, and the eagerness of desire on the other.


Pursuit of the True Riches.

I. Pursuit of the true riches is alone worthy of the man of God.—“But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after” (1 Timothy 6:11). God, and not worldly riches, is the sole object of the good man’s desires. He has got a glimpse of the other side of earthly things. He sees their fleeting and evanescent character, and their incapacity to satisfy the soul. He soars after higher and Diviner things. He cannot rest in the material, but finds his pleasure in seeking those things that are above. His conception of God lifts him above everything that has limits. He sees another world shining with the lustre of unfading riches.

II. The true riches are spiritual.—“Righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness” (1 Timothy 6:11). No longer a man of the world, the good man finds his enjoyment and wealth in spiritual realities. He covets the grace which enables him to act righteously towards God and man, to possess the faith that brings the distant near and makes the unseen visible, a love that works in him a sublime patience in the midst of the greatest trials, and a courageous meekness that is the marvel and despair of his bitterest opponents. The true riches of a man are within him.

III. Pursuit of the true riches involves an earnest conflict for the truth.

1. Conflict for the truth is demanded by the profession of it already made. “And hast professed a good profession before many witnesses” (1 Timothy 6:12). Having entered into the conflict, the Christian soldier must comport himself with resolute courage. Having won so many victories already, he is urged on to fresh conquests. The consciousness that he is engaged in a good fight nerves him with strength and determination. The least relapse into unwatchfulness and ease will be fatal to final victory. The highest prizes of the Christian life are not gained without strenuous and persevering effort.

2. The final reward of the conflict is in the future. “Lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called” (1 Timothy 6:12). The Christian soldier is battling not only for time, but eternity—not only for the present life, but for life eternal. The prize, though in the future, is not uncertain; it is not a phantom hanging in the air, but a substantial reality to be laid hold on and firmly grasped. Even now by faith he has the substance of the thing hoped for, and after which he strives with increasing earnestness. By-and-by he will wear the victor’s crown.


1. Religion is a conflict.

2. It is a good fight in itself and its issues.

3. The victor will be enriched with eternal glory.


1 Timothy 6:11. Patience

I. Secures the possession of our souls in every circumstance that tends to discompose our minds.

II. Prevents hasty and rash conclusions.

III. Will fortify against unlawful methods for accomplishing our deliverance.

IV. Disposes the soul to perseverance in the way of duty.Pulpit Assistant.

1 Timothy 6:12. The Good Fight of Faith.

I. In what does the fight of faith consist?

1. Faith conflicts with the misgivings arising from the accusations of an enlightened conscience.

2. Has to contend against the depravity of our nature.

3. Has to contend with the world.

4. Has to combat with spiritual wickedness.

II. How is the faith of the Christian to be strengthened for this fight?

1. By entertaining worthy conceptions of God, on whose testimony it rests.

2. By cultivating an acquaintance with the truths it embraces.

3. By a consideration of the instances in which it has not been disappointed.

4. Seek an increase of faith by prayer.

III. What inducement have we to fight?

1. The command of God.

2. The weapons of the fight.

3. The enemies encountered in the fight.

4. The certainty of success in the fight.—Stewart.

The Battle of Life.

I. Faith believes in self-conquest.

II. In the victory of Jesus Christ over every foe hostile to righteousness.

Eternal Life

I. The object.—“Eternal life.”

1. It is the highest form of life.

2. It consists in the perfect development of spiritual life.

3. It is to be enjoyed in heaven.

II. The exhortation.—“Lay hold.”

1. By embracing the gospel in which it is revealed.

2. By union with Christ in whom it is centred.

3. By cherishing the principles in which it is embodied.

4. By vigorous use of all appointed means.—G. Brooks.

Verses 13-16


1 Timothy 6:13. God, who quickeneth all things.—R.V. margin, “preserveth all things alive.” It would almost seem as if St. Paul meant to say that, whatever perils gathered round the warrior for truth, an unseen shield should cover his head in the day of battle.

1 Timothy 6:15. The blessed and only Potentate.—All else derive their power from Him and hold it Dei gratiâ.

1 Timothy 6:16. Who only hath immortality.―“He in whom immortality essentially exists and who enjoys it neither derivatively nor by participation” (Ellicott). Dwelling in light which no man can approach unto.—All the fulsome eulogies of kings who “live for ever,” and whose faces shine on their favourites, are but poor, broken lights as compared with the God who is light.


A Solemn call to Fidelity

I. Uttered as in the presence of the life-giving God and witnessing Christ (1 Timothy 6:13).—One cannot read this impressive verse without catching somewhat of the solemnity of tone in which it was uttered. As though conscious his own career was closing, the apostle seems to hand on his unfinished work to Timothy, and he urges him to faithfulness here by the present manifestation of God’s power in quickening and preserving all things, and by reminding him of the deep significance of the testimony that Christ sealed with His death. The testimony that Christ bore was that He was King and that His kingdom was of the truth—a testimony that embraced the whole gospel. Timothy’s confession was therefore to include the whole truth of Christianity. We see therefore the gravity of the charge committed to the young evangelist. Unborn generations were concerned in his fidelity.

II. In maintaining and handing down the truth inviolate to the latest times (1 Timothy 6:14).—If we have a pure gospel to-day, we owe it to the faithful and holy Timothys, who, living at the beginning of the gospel era, maintained the truth in its integrity, and passed it on unmixed and unimpaired to their immediate successors. It is not less our solemn duty to-day to preserve the truth inviolate, to faithfully and vigorously propagate it, and hand it down as a sacred deposit to the generation following. So shall the bright succession run till the glorious appearing of Him who is the living embodiment and transcendent theme of the highest truth.

III. Enforced by a sublime description of the Deity.

1. As the absolute Ruler. “The blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords” (1 Timothy 6:15). Blessed in Himself, and the source of unspeakable blessedness to all who voluntarily submit to His loving and righteous rule.

2. As inherently and independently immortal. “Who only hath immortality” (1 Timothy 6:16). Having incorruptible life in Himself, in His own essential Divine essence, and not merely derived as in all other immortal beings, the Lord of life and glory bestows eternal life on all who believe on Him. Incorruptible life is not inherent in the human soul; it is the gift of God.

3. As dwelling in unapproachable splendour. “Dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see” (1 Timothy 6:16). If we cannot gaze at the sun because of its dazzling brightness, how much less can mortal man gaze upon the blinding and inexpressible glory of God! We must ourselves be clothed with the Divine splendour in order that we may bear the revelation of the beatific vision.

4. To whom everlasting honour and power are ascribed. “To whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen” (1 Timothy 6:16). This magnificent description of Jehovah would add solemnity and emphasis to the charge here given to Timothy. Our fidelity must be maintained as in the immediate presence of the all-seeing God, who is conscious of every defection of which we may be guilty, and who will not fail to help us in our struggles and reward our faithful devotion with unspeakable and lasting glory.


1. The truth demands incorruptible fidelity.

2. God has committed the fortunes of His truth to His own commissioned messengers.

3. The progress of the truth is every moment watched by the all-seeing Eye.


1 Timothy 6:13-14. The Truth of the Gospel—

I. Was attested by Christ at a crucial moment (1 Timothy 6:13).

II. Is to be kept inviolate (1 Timothy 6:14).

III. The keeping of the truth is aided by the quickening and preservative power of God (1 Timothy 6:13).

IV. Is to be kept every moment as in the presence of God (1 Timothy 6:13).

V. Is to be kept to the end of the gospel dispensation (1 Timothy 6:14).

1 Timothy 6:15-16. The Glory of God

I. Is revealed by Christ in all its beneficent and regal splendour (1 Timothy 6:15).

II. Seen in His possessing and bestowing immortality (1 Timothy 6:16).

III. Surpasses all human comprehension (1 Timothy 6:16).

IV. Will elicit everlasting praise (1 Timothy 6:16).

Verses 17-19


1 Timothy 6:17. Nor trust in uncertain riches.—R.V. “nor have their hope set on the uncertainty of riches.” Perhaps they would say riches were not uncertain. But the moralists do not agree with the “Northern Farmer.” Who giveth us richly all things to enjoy.—On God’s giving see St. James’s words (1 Timothy 1:5.) But this marks the end of that giving for enjoyment.

1 Timothy 6:19. Laying up in store for themselves.—Lit. “Treasuring away for themselves.” The similarity of this verse to Tob. 4:9 is too close to allow us to say it was not in St. Paul’s thoughts. A good foundation against the time to come.—Not simply against the decrepitude of old age, for which in some respects “money is a defence,” but against that day when money and its owners shall fail (Luke 16:9).


The True Use of Riches

I. Is not to trust in them but in God the Giver of all things (1 Timothy 6:17).—Riches are given for use, not for storage. The moment we begin to selfishly store them, we begin to trust in them. Money is a circulating medium, and its true value is in its wise and judicious circulation. Our use of money is part of our education in life, and needs as much care and thought as the business that produces it. God only, and not wealth, maintains the world: riches not properly used only make people proud and lazy. The Greeks spoke of Plutus, the god of riches, as a fickle divinity, representing him as blind, to intimate that he distributes his favours indiscriminately; as lame, to denote the slowness with which he approaches; and winged, to imply the velocity with which he flies away. Wealth is but one of God’s gifts: to trust in it is to trust in the creature rather than the Creator. To trust in riches is committing ourselves to a great uncertainty.

II. To distribute them with a liberal and cheerful benevolence (1 Timothy 6:18).—To lavish wealth on personal luxuries is to abuse it and ourselves. On the statue of Joseph Brotherton is the inscription, “A man’s riches consist not in the amount of his wealth, but in the fewness of his wants.” Zeno, the philosopher, remonstrating with certain of his pupils for their extravagance, they excused themselves by saying that they were rich enough to indulge in extravagance. “Would you,” said he, “excuse a cook who should over-salt his meat because he had a superabundance of salt?” Wealth is kept sweet and sound by liberal distribution. The rich man is a steward of God’s gifts, and will have to give an account of the use he has made of his wealth. The noblest use of money is to do good to others, and to help to extend the kingdom of Christ. It is better to be rich in good works than in good investments.

III. Will be rewarded with eternal felicity (1 Timothy 6:19).—To spend life in getting and keeping money is to be poor indeed; to spend it in a liberal use of our means in the cause of God is to be enriched with eternal life—which is life indeed. There is truth and instruction in the inscription on an Italian tombstone, “What I gave away I saved; what I spent I used; what I kept I lost.” Giving to the Lord, says one, is but transporting our goods to a higher floor. The Princess Eugenie, sister to the King of Sweden, once sold her diamonds to raise funds to complete a hospital. When the building was completed, she visited the hospital, and standing beside a suffering inmate who thanked her with tears of gratitude, she exclaimed, “Ah, now I see my diamonds again!”


1. Riches are a great responsibility.

2. A liberal hand creates many a cheerful heart.

3. Earthly wealth may be transformed into heavenly riches.


1 Timothy 6:17. Human Affections raised, not destroyed, by the Gospel.

I. The same affections which cling to the lowly earth are those which must struggle, under celestial guidance, to find their rest in God.

II. The glory of the eternal God is unveiled in all its majesty as the object which is to fix the affections of man.

III. In the treasuries of heaven are laid up all that you truly covet, even while you labour after their mockeries on earth.

IV. Every attribute of the eager candidate for earthly happiness and security is but the poor semblance of the very state the Christian already possesses or anticipates.A. Butler.

1 Timothy 6:18-19. Good Works.

I. Good works are not grounds of acceptance.

1. The true and only ground of a sinner’s reconciliation with God is the atonement of Christ and God’s free grace.

2. Good works are not preparations for our acceptance.

II. Good works are measures of reward.

1. God’s own glory is promoted by them.

2. They are disciplinary, and constitute the most effective means of religious improvement.

3. They comprehend all the acts by which misery can be redressed, happiness increased, and souls saved.—Olin.

Verses 20-21


1 Timothy 6:20. Keep that which is committed to thy trust.—Lit. “guard the deposit.” As St. Paul was entrusted with “the care of all the Churches,” so is Timothy with this particular one. Avoiding profane and vain babblings.—“Full of sound … signifying nothing.” Science falsely so called.—Knowledge that deserved the name was no object of the apostle’s contempt or indifference, but this pseudonymous gnosis excites his scorn.

1 Timothy 6:21. Have erred.—The same word as in 1 Timothy 1:6. There it is translated “swerved.” Grace be with thee.—The most contracted form of the apostolic formula of benediction.


The Gospel a Sacred Trust

I. To be preserved and handed on inviolate.—“O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust” (1 Timothy 6:20). The apostle returns again, and for the last time before concluding his epistle, to the subject uppermost in his mind, and reiterates the solemn charge to fidelity. He makes a touching and impressive personal appeal, indicating his affection for Timothy, and his fears of approaching corruptions. “O Timothy, keep the truth; guard it from spiritual thieves, and from the subtle infusion of errors which its enemies are industriously generating. It is not thine but another’s property with which thou hast been entrusted: diminish it not at all.”

II. Not to be degraded by profitless and ignorant controversies.—“Avoid profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called” (1 Timothy 6:20). The gospel is a Divine revelation, not to be criticised, but believed. To attempt to improve it is to spoil it. It is not the child of reason, but the guide and regulator of reason; it is not contrary to reason, though it is above it. If the gospel rested on human philosophy and a false science, it would be utterly unreliable, and its preaching a tissue of “vain babblings.” The true science is the evolution of Christian faith; all else is counterfeit. The knowledge of the gospel, communicated by the Spirit, is superior to all human science and philosophy. The germ of the Gnostic heresy of the dual principles of good and evil was beginning to sprout, and soon after developed into “oppositions of science falsely so called.”

III. To mix human errors with the gospel is to mistake its spirit and drift.—“Which some professing have erred concerning the faith” (1 Timothy 6:21). Vincentius Lirinensis, in the first half of the fifth century, thus comments on these verses: That which was entrusted to thee, not found by thee—which thou hast received, not invented; a matter not of genius but of teaching, not of private usurpation but of public tradition; a matter brought to thee, not put forth by thee, in which thou oughtest to be not an enlarger but a guardian, not an originator but a disciple, not leading but following. Keep the deposit; preserve intact and inviolate the talent of the catholic faith. What has been entrusted to thee, let that same remain with thee; let that same be handed down by thee. Gold thou hast received; gold return. I should be sorry thou shouldest substitute ought else. I do not want the mere appearance of gold, but its actual reality. Not that there is to be no progress in religion in Christ’s Church. Let there be so by all means, and the greatest progress; but then let it be real progress, not a change of the faith. Let the intelligence of the whole Church and its individual members increase exceedingly, provided it be only in its own kind, the doctrine being still the same. Let the religion of the soul resemble the growth of the body, which, though it develops its several parts in the progress of years, yet remains the same as it was essentially.”

IV. The grace of God the best preservative from error.—“Grace be with thee. Amen” (1 Timothy 6:21). The grace of God reveals the truth, communicates the truth, suffuses every power and faculty of the soul which embraces the truth, and is the influence that keeps the truth pure and vitally operative in the Christian life. The grace that bestows the truth can alone keep it. The grace of God makes us what we are, and must make us what we ought to be.


1. The gospel that saves us can save others.

2. We receive the gospel not only for ourselves, but in trust for others.

3. To depend on human reason for salvation is to be lost.


1 Timothy 6:20-21. Science in its Relation to the Christian Faith.

I. Scientific study may be abused to mischievous results.

II. Has a tendency to bring the mind into collision with a number of religious difficulties.

III. May possibly tempt the mind to regard God as the law of the universe rather than as the one Divine Person from whom all law proceeds.

IV. The tone of mind fostered by such a study is a preservative against religious instability.

V. The true tendency of such a study is to lead men to Christ.

VI. Christ is the answer to questions which science cannot answer.Harvey Goodwin.

Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 6". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/phc/1-timothy-6.html. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.
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