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Bible Commentaries
1 Timothy 6

Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New TestamentZerr's N.T. Commentary

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Verse 1

1Ti 6:1. A great portion of the people in the Roman Empire were slaves when the Gospel was brought into the world. Neither Christ nor his apostles tried to interfere with the status of master and slave, but only to regulate the proper conduct of each to the other. The salvation through Christ was offered to slaves as well as to masters, and this verse is addressed to the slaves who had accepted it. Yoke is used figuratively, and Robinson says the word means "an emblem of servitude." Some slaves might think more highly of themselves than they should on account of laving been given the privilege of becoming Christians. Such conduct would be blamed by their masters on the name and doctrine (teaching) of God, which would cause them to blaspheme (speak evil) of the divine cause. On the other hand, since the Lord requires servants to obey their masters, if they are careful to manifest all the more respect for them after becoming Christians, it will speak well for the religion which their servants have embraced, and possibly might even Induce them to become Christians also, being thereby convinced that the faith which the servants have espoused is bound to be desirable, seeing it has improved the service and disposition of their slaves.

Verse 2

1Ti 6:2. Masters sometimes were among those who became Christians. A slave might think that when his master became a believer, that he (the master) would not be as particular about requiring good service of his slaves, and so he would become indifferent about his duties and services. Instead, the servant was not to despise (belittle or think lightly of) his master, but must recognize him in even a higher relationship, that of a brother. Partakers of the benefit. Master and slave alike, after becoming Christians, become partakers of the benefit of the improved service of the Christian slave. Teach and exhort. This is a significant phrase as the words are arranged. To exhort means to insist that one perform his known duty. It was in order, then, to insist on the brethren that they do their duty, after being taught what it was.

Verse 3

1Ti 6:3. Teach otherwise means to teach contrary to that stated in the preceding two verses. Naturally, if a man was disposed to go contrary to this teaching of the apostle, it would be because he did not want to agree with wholesome (spiritually sound or healthy) words. Even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ. The man being described would be opposed to this apostolic teaching, notwithstanding it was the doctrine of Christ. It also was according to godliness, yet this contrary man would reject such holy doctrine.

Verse 4

1Ti 6:4. He is proud means he is conceited and puffed up over his pretended learning, when in truth he knows nothing of any account. Doting is from NOSEO and defined by Thayer, "to be sick"; it is similar to the English word "nausea." The word is used in a figurative sense, and means about the same as when we speak of some person acting like a man in his dotage-. The object of this man's dotage is his extreme love of strife over unimportant words. Not only is such a contention fruitless of any good, but it produces a number of harmful results which the apostle names. Envy is the spirit that begrudges another his prosperity or other success. Strife is a contention for the sake of being different from another. Railings consist of severe and unjust expressions against others, and such expressions as would not be justified even against a person in wrong. (See Jud 1:9.) Evil surmisings means evil suspicions about the character of another, without any evidence to support them. A self-conceited person might be expected to be guilty of such thoughts against those whose sound teaching he did not like.

Verse 5

1Ti 6:5. Perverse disputings is defined by Thayer, "Useless occupation, empty business, misemployment," and Robinson defines it in virtually the same language. Men of corrupt minds would very naturally come under such a description as the foregoing. Destitute of the truth denotes a mind that never has any truth for its wild outbursts such as the apostle has been describing. Supposing that gain is godliness. These people evidently came into the church for the personal advantage they thought it would be to them. They reasoned that if a person obtained some gain after professing an interest in religion, that would prove that such gain was to be considered as a part of godliness or piety. Such characters are not worthy the association of righteous men, therefore Timothy was told to withdraw himself from them.

Verse 6

1Ti 6:6. Paul reverses the foolish notions of the vain characters he has been describing. Instead of temporal gain being the object of godliness, true gain is godliness itself, if a person is contented with it, for it is a form of wealth that will not pass away when this world comes to an end.

Verse 7

1Ti 6:7. In this verse Paul enlarges on the thought of the preceding one, and shows why godliness is real gain while the temporal wealth of this world is not. We brought nothing into this world. This is expressed by Job, chapter 1:21 as follows: "Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither," and David says in Psa 49:17, "For when he dieth he shall carry nothing away." All of this shows the folly of making material things of the world the chief interest in life.

Verse 8

1Ti 6:8. Food meets the internal needs of the body, and raiment the external. These facts have originated the familiar phrase food and raiment, used not only in this verse, but it is one of almost universal use, and is really meant to cover all of the actual temporal needs of this life. (See Gen 28:20.) Let us be therewith content. Not that we should limit our secular activities to what is absolutely necessary at the moment, for such a conclusion would contradict other statements of the New Testament (Act 20:35; Eph 4:28). But while we are doing what we can to obtain the good things of this life, let us be thankful for what we have, even though we may not be as successful as some others.

Verse 9

1Ti 6:9. Will be rich is not a mere statement of a fact that is to come to pass, meaning that someone is going to be rich, but it is a stronger term. It means those who eagerly intend to become rich and who exert themselves to that end. There is no sin in the simple fact that one is rich, for Joseph of Arimathea was a rich man and a disciple of Jesus, yet he is never referred to in any unfavorable light (Mat 27:57-60; Mar 15:43-47; Luk 23:50-51; Joh 19:38). In verses 17-19 of our present chapter, the rich are not told that their wealth is an evil, but only that they must not trust in it and that they should make the proper use of it. It is not a question of how rich a man is, but how did he obtain his wealth and how is he using it? If he obtained it by his own determination, urged by an eager desire to be rich, he will be tempted to engage in wrongful conduct that will snare him in sin. Hurtful lusts means foolish desires that are injurious to one's moral and spiritual character. Drown is used figuratively because a drowning man is one who is sinking into the water until he is overwhelmed and finally dies. These evil practices of the man so eager to become rich will cause him to be overwhelmed by' them until his soul will meet destruction of perdition, which means eternal condemnation.

Verse 10

1Ti 6:10. This verse is similar to the preceding one (which the reader should again see in connection with the present one). Love of money corresponds with "will be rich" in the other verse. And again, the love of money is where the sin comes in, not the mere possession of it. A man might have that love and yet never become rich because he is not a "financial success." But the "eager desire" is there, and that is what leads him intO sin. By the same token, a man might possess money without having the love of it in the unfavorable sense used in this verse. (See again the case of Joseph in the preceding verse.) The root of all evil. The Englishman's Greek New Testament renders this phrase, "a root of all evils," and Thayer renders all evil, "all kinds of evil." These renderings are correct from the very truth of the case. Love of money is not the root because there are many other motives for doing evil. On the other hand, there is no kind of evil that cannot be induced by the love of money, as well as by other unrighteous motives. The latter half of this verse is virtually the same in thought as that in the preceding verse; to err from the faith will bring to a guilty man the sorrow of perdition.

Verse 11

1Ti 6:11. Man of God is in the possessive case, denoting that Timothy belonged to God. However, that is true of all true disciples (1Co 6:19-20), hence it is not a title that applies to Timothy only. Furthermore, the same phrase is used in 2Ti 3:17, where Paul is writing of those who are completely furnished by the inspired word unto all good works, and we know that is true of all servants of God. It is true also that Timothy had some special duties to perform, that were peculiar to his place in the great system of the kingdom, but that also is true of various disciples. So it leaves all as men of God, seeing they belong to Him and are doing his service. Flee these things means more than a mere negative attitude towards evil; it means to abhor it and lose no time or effort in getting away from it. (See Rom 12:9; Jas 4:7.) Fleeing away from evil denotes only the proper attitude towards it. The man of God must also follow the proper course that is opposite the evil. Righteousness and godliness are really the same in effect. They mean to do that which is right when measured by the law of God. Faith requires that one not only profess a belief in the word of God, but also to be faithful in keeping its precepts. Love is from a word here that denotes a sincere interest in the welfare of others. Patience is another word for endurance or steadfastness in service to the Lord. Meekness signifies a spirit of humility in all of one's activities for God.

Verse 12

1Ti 6:12. It is a good fight because it is on behalf of a good cause and against an evil one (2Co 10:3-5; Eph 6:10-12). It is the fight of faith because the Christian soldier Coes not fight according to his own strategy, but goes on into battle because of his faith in the great Commander, who will not fail to obtain final victory. The soldier of the cross is not fighting to gain any temporal property or worldly possessions, but is expecting to win the crown of eternal life. Timothy, like all other warriors in the Lord's army, was called to enlist voluntarily in the army, for there are no draftees in this conflict. When a man goes into the army of his country, he is expected to declare allegiance to that country and help to defend it against the enemy. Hast professed [confessed] a good profession [confession]. Every person wishing to become a soldier of the cross (become a Christian), is required to make a public confession (Mat 10:32; Rom 10:10). Many witnesses include whoever were present when Timothy made his confession, also the invisible (to him) witnesses mentioned in the next verse.

Verse 13

1Ti 6:13. These are some of the witnesses referred to in the preceding verse who knew of Timothy's confession of faith. To quicken means to give life to anything, and all life originates with God. Before Pontius Pilate. The first word is from EPI, which is rendered "in the days of" two times, and "in the time of" once, in other places in the New Testament. Jesus actually made the confession of his divine Sonship in the Sanhedrin (Matthew 26 : G3, G4; Mar 14:61-62; Luk 22:70); this was "in the time of" Pilate which would be a more accurate translation. However, Jesus made virtually a like confession directly before Pilate (Mat 27:11; Mar 15:2; Luk 23:3), hence either translation is correct. An important conclusion upon the argument of Paul is, since Jesus made this good confession and (lied for it, Timothy should live for Him for whose sake he had made the same confession.

Verse 14

1Ti 6:14. Without spot, unrebukeable means for Timothy to be wholehearted in his obedience to the command of the apostle. Until the appearing. Neither Paul nor any other man knew whether Christ would come in the lifetime of Timothy or not. But when a man dies, his record is complete and will remain as it is until Christ comes. Hence to be "faithful until death" is equivalent to being so until He comes. (See Rev 2:10.)

Verse 15

1Ti 6:15. In his times means the time for Christ to make his second appearance on the earth, the date of which no man knows. He shall show denotes that Christ will then display or give evidence of the facts about to be mentioned. God is said to be blessed because he is the source of all true blessings or happiness. (Jas 1:17.) The word potentate means a ruler of great and unusual power. God is here said to be the only such ruler, because all other rulers in the universe are subject to Him. There are many kings and lords among the various intelligent creatures in the universe, but God is the King and Lord above all of them. Jesus is "acting" as potentate now (Mat 28:18), but he will give that up to his Father again (1Co 15:28), and that is when and how He will show that, after all, God is the only final and supreme Ruler.

Verse 16

1Ti 6:16. Who only hath immortality. This should not be taken to mean that no person but God may ever have immortality, for that would contradict 1Co 15:53-54, where the same Greek word is used, and where Christians are promised immortality at the resurrection. But in their case it will be something bestowed upon them. When anything is bestowed upon a person, someone has to be the giver of it, and that someone can only be an individual who did not have to receive it from another. God is the only being who has that peculiarity. He always was immortal, which means endless existence both past and future, hence a personality incapable of decay in any sense. Dwelling is from a word that means to have a permanent and uninterrupted residence. Whether considered figuratively or literally, light denotes a condition where nothing is obscured or impure or undesirable in any way. Such a condition is that where God has the dwelling just described. Man is from ANTHROPOS, and Thayer's primary definition of it is, "a human being, whether male or female." It therefore means man in the natural state since that is the only time that a human being has any sex (Mat 22:30; 1Jn 3:2). Being human and mortal is why he cannot even approach unto the infinite light that haloes the Eternal One. Of course when the righteous receive their glorified bodies, they will be able to dwell with God in glory in the glory world. No man hath seen nor can see is to be explained in the same way as just described. Honor and power will be long to God without end. Amen is added by the apostle as an expression of emphasis for the foregoing declarations concerning God.

Verse 17

1Ti 6:17. The rich are not criticized for being rich, nor told they must dis-pose of their wealth. A man can ue rich and at the same time be a good man (Luk 23:50-51). The rich were charged not to be highminded (proud) over their possessions, nor to put their trust in them. Jesus taught the same thing on the subject (Mar 10:24). Riches are called uncertain because there are so many things that can happen, often beyond the control of the owner, that can cause them to be lost (Pro 23:4-5). If a man's trust for the future is based on earthly riches, such a hope will be disappointed if the wealth is lost. The trust that never can bring a disappointment, is that which is based on God, for he is living (always), hence the hope that is in Him is bound to be sure. A logical reason for the surety of such a hope is in the fact that all good things come from Him (Jas 1:17).

Verse 18

1Ti 6:18. That they do good. A rich man can do some good that cannot be accomplished by one who has no wealth. If there were no "capitalists" in the world, very few of the advancements in the industrial department of human endeavor could be made. The command in Gen 1:28 for man to subdue the earth would be difficult if not impossible of obeying were it not for men of great capital, hence the popular prejudice against that class of men is not justified. It is significant that the fundamental principle of communism is its cry against "capitalism." Men of wealth are told to be rich in good works, and that is supplemented by the words distribute and communicate. Not that they must give their wealth all away and render themselves without possessions, for that would make it impossible for them to continue in the requirement to be rich in good works. The only thing that men with an abundance of means are required to do in the way of distributing or giving to others is to "give to him that needeth" (Eph 4:28). Further than that they are permitted to use their wealth in promoting such "good works" as will be beneficial to mankind in general. Of course if the rich men are Christians, they should use their wealth in advancing the cause of Christ in such situations that require financial support.

Verse 19

1Ti 6:19. If a rich disciple will use his wealth as described in the preceding two verses, he will be "laying up for himself treasures in heaven" (Mat 6:20), in that by such use of his earthly possessions he will gain the friendship of God and Christ, who will admit him into their home at the judgment (Luk 16:9). Such a preparation for the future is figuratively called a good foundation, and it promises an actual reward of eternal life.

Verse 20

1Ti 6:20. Timothy had been entrusted with the Gospel, and he is exhorted to keep (guard) it by avoiding profane and vain (empty and useless) babblings. Science is from the same word as "knowledge," hence there is no such thing as false science, but error is often falsely called science.

Verse 21

1Ti 6:21. If a man professes to believe this falsely-called science, it logically will lead him from the faith, which is based on the truth from the Lord.
Bibliographical Information
Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 6". Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/znt/1-timothy-6.html. 1952.
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