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1 Timothy 6:1.— Whether the law, "that the Jews should none of them remain slaves for life, withouttheirownconsent,"(Exod.xxi.2-6.) might, through the devices of Satan, give occasion to introduce something like it into the Christian church, or whatever gave rise to it, it appears, that the Judaizers absolved men from civil duties, and would have increased their party, by drawing slaves into the Christian church under the notion of their being thereby rendered freed men: in opposition to which the apostle enjoins slaves to continue to respect, and faithfully to serve, their own masters, whether Christians or not, unless they could obtain their freedom in a fair and legal manner. Timothy was to warn the Judaizers not to teach differently from the apostle in this particular; nor in any other to gratify the humours of their hearers in order to enrich themselves, 1 Timothy 6:1-16. That this discourse was levelled against such false teachers, appears not only from the beginning of 1Ti 6:3 but also from 1Ti 6:10-11 where he dehorts Timothy from following their example.
1 Timothy 6:2. Because they are faithful and beloved, &c.— Dr. Heylin reads it, but serve them better, because they are Christians, and to be loved, as partakers of the same advantages. See the Syriac version.
1 Timothy 6:3. And consent not to wholesome words,— Or do not adhere, or give heed to wholesome words, &c.
1 Timothy 6:4. But doting about questions— But raving on questions. The original word seems to express the effect of a disease upon the mind. Dr. Heylin reads it, Knows nothing, but has the disease of disputation, and controversy about words.
1 Timothy 6:5. Supposing that gain is godliness:— That godliness is gain. Peirce. Who consider piety as a means to enrich themselves. Heylin. Compare Philippians 3:1
1 Timothy 6:6. But godliness with contentment, &c.— Piety, indeed, with contentment, is great riches. Heylin. This is a most pleasing sentiment for the religious poor.—Contentment will attend piety, as its inseparable companion; and, consequently, the pious man will be happy, whatever his circumstances may be, and even much more so than any accumulation of worldly wealth can make him.
1 Timothy 6:10. Have—pierced themselves through, &c.— "Have felt long and incurable pains, by the numerous wounds they have given to their own consciences, as it were, on every side." The original word περιεπειραν is very emphatical, and properly signifies, "They have stabbed themselves, as it were, from head to feet, so as to be all covered with wounds." And this indeed happily expresses the innumerable outrages done to conscience by those madmen, who have taken up the fatal resolution, that they will at all adventures be rich.
1 Timothy 6:12. Fight the good fight of faith,— Strive generously for the faith; lay hold upon Christ, lay hold upon God, lay hold on eternal life, &c. St. Paul, Heb 13:23 says, that Timothy was set at liberty; whence we may conclude, that he had been put in prison on account of the faith, and, on that occasion, made the profession spoken of in this verse;—and the rather, because the profession of Christ before Pilate is mentioned in the following verse. Doddridge reads, Maintain the good combat of faith; and observes very justly, that these and the following words are plainly agonistical, and refer to the eagerness with which they who contended in the Grecian games, struggled for and laid hold of the crown; and the degree to which the presence of many spectators, or, as the apostle elsewhere speaks, the cloud of witnesses, animated them in their contests for it.
1 Timothy 6:13. Who quickeneth all things,— This seems a very suitable though oblique intimation, that should Timothy, after the example of his great Lord, sacrifice his life to the glory of God and the honour of his sacred profession, God, who raised up Christ from the dead, was equally able to raise him; and this is most fully expressed and urged, 2 Timothy 2:8-11. The next clause refers to John 18:37. Christ's confession before the Jewish high-priest, when interrogated upon oath, was rather more express; but this before Pilate was more dangerous; as his owning himself a King, was the sole pretension likely to expose him to the resentment of the Roman governor, who had the supreme power of life and death. It is perhaps called a good confession; not only as in itself noble and generous, but as all our hopes of salvation and happiness are built upon the truth of it.
1 Timothy 6:16. Whom no man hath seen, nor can see:— This might be an allusion either to the eastern courts, where the people were not admitted into the royal presence, or to behold the face of their king; or, to the inaccessible light and glory in which God dwelt in the holy of holies;—or perhaps to both. See Exo 33:20. 1 John 4:12; 1 John 4:20. But whether it alludes to any thing temporal or not, it is peculiarly expressive of the essence of God.
1 Timothy 6:17.— As the apostle had given directions concerning some of the Judaizing Christians, who attempted to enrich themselves bypreaching the gospel in a dishonest manner, he here gives directions concerning such Christians as were already possessed of riches; namely, that they should not be proud and selfish, but pious and humble towards God; generous, and readyto do good to their fellow-creatures; that, when they had done with all the possessions and concerns of the present life, they might have satisfaction in the review, and be blessed with greater and more durable possessions, 1 Timothy 6:17-19. And that he might leave Timothy with the strongest impressions of the folly and wickedness of the Judaizing Christians, he concludes as he had begun, with charging him to adhere to the true and simple Christian doctrine, and to reject all Jewish mixtures, 1 Timothy 6:20-21. Some would read the beginning of the present verse, Charge them that are rich, not to be high-minded in this world,—but to trust in the living God, &c. thus preserving the opposition between the two parts of the sentence. See 1 Corinthians 3:18.
1 Timothy 6:18. Rich in good works, &c.— If the phrases in this verse have a different signification, the following exposition of Archbishop Sharpe's may perhaps be as satisfactory as any other. "Let them endeavour, in the general, to do good;—not only now and then, in some scanty proportion, but frequently, constantly, and abundantly; not only with their time, labour, and interest, but bydistributing of their substance too: and this as freely, as if it were a common stock, to which all had a right."
1 Timothy 6:19. Laying up in store, &c.— Or, Securing, &c.
1 Timothy 6:21. Which some professing, &c.— "Which some having professed to pursue, have fatally wandered from the Christian faith, some entirely forsaking it, and others corrupting it with such adulterations, that it is hardly to be known for that religion which came immediately out of the hands of the Lord Jesus Christ." Though it is not certain, that the name of gnostics, or the knowing men, was so early used to denominate a distinct sect, yet it is highly probablethat they who opposed the apostle, made extraordinary pretences to knowledge; and this text seems sufficient to prove it.
[ See Benson, Bengelius, Bowyer, Castalio, Calmet, Doddridge, Dodd, Drusius, Fleetwood, Guyse, Grotius, Heylin, Harris, Heinsius, Hoadley, Knatchbull, Kuster, Lardner, Leigh, Lord Lyttelton, Lightfoot, Limborch, Locke, Michaelis, Mills, Mede, Mann, Mintert, Bishop Newton, Phileleutherus, Lipsiensis, Peirce, Quesnelle, Reynolds, Raphelius, Stockius, Bishop Stillingfleet, Schmidius, Seed, Archbishop Tillotson, Vitringa, Whitby, Waterland, Wetstein, Wall, Bishop Warburton, and Wolfius.]
Inferences.—What an honour and encouragement it is to believing servants, even of the lowest rank, that they are brethren in Christ, partakers of all spiritual blessings equally with Christians of the highest civil station! But what a reproach is it to the name of their God, and to his gospel, for them to be so conceited on this account, as to think themselves above paying the duty they owe to their earthly masters, even though they be infidels; or to be less, and not rather more, respectful and diligent in the service of religious masters, because they are brethren in the fellowship of the gospel! Those who act in this spirit, cannot long continue Christians, if they be such at present in a small degree. These things are to be taught and learned; and whoever, under false pretences to knowledge, shall suggest sentiments contrary to these, or to any other doctrine of Christ, which are all doctrines according to godliness,—are to be rejected, as persons who are proud and ignorant, perverse, and destitute of the truth, fond of vain opinions and disputations about words, which tend to strife and envy, railing and unwarrantable suspicions, and who make a trade of religion to serve their secular interests: but true godliness, with a satisfied mind as to worldly circumstances, though we have only necessary food and raiment, is the best of all gain; and therefore is to be cultivated in earnest pursuits after righteousness, goodness, faith, love, patience, and meekness. And, alas! what is this poor empty world, that we should set our hearts upon it! We brought none of its enjoyments into it; and whatsoever we have of them here, we must certainly, ere long, leave them all behind us: and they who will seek to be rich, throw themselves into many dangerous temptations, and foolish ensnaring lusts and passions, that will one time or other recoil upon them, and pierce them through with many agonizing sorrows; will make them err from the living faith of the gospel, and plunge them into deep and endless ruin: for the love of money is the root of these and numberless other sinful and destructive evils. How needful then is it to warn the rich of this world to be humble amidst all their affluence; and not to place their confidence in uncertain wealth, but in God through Christ, who is a free and bountiful giver of all things relating to this life, and to that which is to come! And how ready should they be to prove the sincerity of the profession of their faith in the Lord, by its genuine fruits in every good and charitable work, which will be laying in a good stock of solid happiness for the world to come, that, at the end of their Christian course, they may receive the crown of life!—O how conscientious and laborious should the servants of Christ be, in discharging every part of the ministerial trust that is committed to them; in maintaining the good profession they have made in various ways before many witnesses; and in fighting the good fight of faith, till they lay hold on eternal life! And how mindful should they always be of the solemn bonds which are laid upon them, to adhere with fidelity to divine directions, as in the presence of God the Father and of Jesus Christ! HE courageously owned himself to be the true Messiah before Pontius Pilate, and, at his second coming, will be gloriously manifested to be so by the only living and life-giving God; who is the supreme almighty Governor, above all other kings and lords; who only has immortality essentially in himself, dwells in glory inaccessible to frail mortals, and is invisible in his own being: to whom be ascribed everlasting honour, dominion, and power. Amen. May all that love him, unite in prayer for his ministering servants, that his free favour, in all its manifestations and effects, may perpetually enable them to be diligent and faithful in his work! Amen.
REFLECTIONS.—1st, The apostle lays down,
1. The duty of Christian servants. Let as many servants as are under the yoke, count their own masters worthy of all honour, respect, and dutiful obedience; that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed, and that unbelievers may never have occasion to reproach them, as if their religion had made them proud, lazy, or disobedient. And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren, as if Christianity destroyed the distinctions of Providence, and brought all men on a level; no, but rather do them service, with peculiar submission, delight, diligence, and honesty, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit, sharing all the blessings of the gospel salvation. Note; (1.) The gospel was never designed to destroy the distinctions that God hath been pleased to make among men; but to direct every man how to adorn that station in which it hath pleased God to call him. (2.) The kindness and condescension of Christian masters must never teach servants to presume, but to treat them with greater respect, more affectionate regard, and unimpeached fidelity.
2. He warns Timothy to teach steadily these truths, and to beware of deceivers. These things teach and exhort. If any man teach otherwise, as the Judaizing teachers, who suggest as if it were unlawful for Christian slaves to obey their unbelieving matters; and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness, inculcating all dutiful discharge of our relations towards men, as well as piety towards God; he is proud, vainly puffed up with arrogant conceit of his own wisdom, though in fact knowing nothing as he ought to know; but doting about questions and strifes of words, engaged in vain and idle disputes about matters utterly insignificant, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and who by such a spirit and temper evidently shew, that they are destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness, serving merely their own worldly interests, and not the cause of Christ and immortal souls: from such withdraw thyself; have no communion with them, nor suffer them to assemble among the faithful. Note; (1.) The doctrines of the gospel are doctrines according to godliness; and whatever would corrupt vital and practical religion, cannot be the words of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2.) Proud disputers must needs be far from any true knowledge of that gospel whose first injunctions are peace and love. (3.) They who make godliness in profession the ladder to earthly gain, will shortly find how fearful is their loss, when death shall hurl them into the abyss of wretchedness.
2nd, From the mention of the abuses of some corrupters of godliness, the apostle,
1. Cautions Timothy against covetousness, and to possess a contented mind. But godliness with contentment is great gain, making the mind happy in every state of life, and under every dispensation of Providence: and this is the truest and most substantial gain even here below, where all our creature-comforts are so precarious, insufficient, and perishing. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out; but we must return naked to the tomb, as we came from the womb. And therefore having food and raiment, covering for our bodies, and refreshment such as nature needs, let us be therewith content, nor grasp after more, thankful for the mercies of the day, and trusting the Lord for the provision of to-morrow. But they that will be rich, and, instead of being satisfied with their present allotted portions, are determined by every method to add to their store, and have their hearts set upon wealth as their grand object; they fall into temptation and a snare, and become an easy prey to the devil, plunging themselves, in the unhallowed pursuit after riches, into many foolish and hurtful lusts, into deceit, fraud, lying, rapine, injustice, &c. which drown men in destruction and perdition, and both body and soul perish for ever. For the love of money is the root of all evil, and the source of every vile and scandalous action: which while some coveted after, (we have seen the dreadful issue,) they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows; besides all their crosses and vexations, laying up much bitterness for themselves, if they should hereafter be brought to repentance; but if not, treasuring up wrath against the day of wrath. But thou, O man of God, flee these things, be warned by the sad examples of others, and shun with abhorrence all such covetous principles and practices. Note; (1.) There is no true contentment in this world but that which springs from real godliness. (2.) We consult our truest interests when our souls are our first concern. (3.) It is a mortifying reflection to every worldling, how short-lived must be his enjoyments, and that he can carry nothing with him to the grave but a shroud and a coffin. (4.) Nature is satisfied with little, grace with less, but covetousness with nothing. (5.) They who will be rich, are in the high road to ruin; Satan desires no fairer mark. (6.) The love of money has destroyed more than any other vice whatever. (7.) They, who to gain the world lose their own souls, will prove shortly their folly to be as great as their sin.
2. He enjoins him as to what was his proper pursuit. Follow after righteousness in your transactions with men; godliness, and holiness of heart and life; faith, an increasing measure of this divine grace, and approved fidelity in all your conversation; love to God and men; patience under every provocation; and meekness, bearing with and gently instructing those that oppose themselves: yet, shewing withal a becoming zeal for the truth, fight the good fight of faith against all opposing foes from earth or hell; lay hold on eternal life, earnestly pressing towards the goal for the glorious prize, whereunto thou art also called by divine grace, as a Christian and an evangelist, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses at thy ordination, and in the presence of those among whom thou hast preached and suffered for the gospel's sake. Note; (1.) We are engaged in an arduous warfare, and must fight every step to heaven against a host of spiritual foes who oppose our progress. (2.) Eternal life, the glorious crown before us, should animate us for every conflict. (3.) The good profession we have once made, should engage us with increasing diligence to approve our fidelity before God and man.
3rdly, The apostle concludes,
1. With repeating his solemn charge, and enforcing it with the most cogent arguments. I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, the author of life to all his creatures, and the giver of spiritual life to all that believe; and before Christ Jesus, whose minister thou art, and who himself before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession, boldly asserting his own glorious character and office; that thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukable, faithful to the solemn trust reposed in thee, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ at the great day; which in his times, or in the proper season, he shall shew, exactly accomplishing the promise of his coming, which he has given to his faithful people, according to the glorious names and characters which he bears, who is the blessed and only potentate, to whom all in heaven and earth are subject, who hath the supreme and universal dominion: and, as he is infinitely blessed in himself, he makes also his believing people happy under his government—the King of kings, and Lord of lords, who all from him derive their power and authority, and to him are accountable; who only hath immortality in and of himself, and is the author of it to his creatures, whether angels or men; dwelling in uncreated glory, in the light which no man, in his present mortal state, can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see, in the full blaze of his divine perfections and attributes: to whom be honour and power everlasting ascribed by all the hosts of earth and heaven. Amen.
2. He gives him a particular charge, to be delivered to the more opulent members of the church. Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high-minded, puffed up on account of their worldly wealth and attainments; nor trust in uncertain riches as their dependance and rock, since these are transitory possessions; but in the living God; the only substantial and abiding good, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy, loading us with his benefits, and allowing us every sanctified use of his creatures: wherefore they who are thus favoured, must see that they do good with their wealth, not abusing it in luxury and extravagance; but that they be rich in good works, employing their treasures for the benefit of mankind; ready to distribute, even unasked, to the indigent and necessitous; willing to communicate, of their substance, without grudging or niggardliness; laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, disposing of their treasures in such a way as that they may have treasure in heaven, and lay hold on eternal life. Note; (1.) Wealth is a talent intrusted with us for the benefit of our brethren: we are stewards, and must give an account of our profiting to the great Master. (2.) Riches are a great temptation to pride; therefore such as have affluence, should be often admonished in their high estate to keep a humble mind. (3.) They are truly rich, who are rich unto God, and improve their abundance to his glory.
3. He warns him, as before, to take heed of deceivers. O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, the unadulterated gospel word; avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called, the noisy talk and proud boastings of Judaizing, or gnostic teachers, pretending high attainments in science, when in fact utter strangers to true wisdom; which some professing, have erred concerning the faith, and apostatized from the truth. Note; The science which draws men from the simplicity of the gospel, however proud men may value themselves thereon, will be proved at last to be the most egregious folly.
4. He gives him his parting benediction. Grace be with thee; and that shall preserve thee from all error, and strengthen thee for the faithful discharge of the ministry. Amen!
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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 6". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/