Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary
1 Timothy 6:10

For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Nave's Topical Bible - Avarice;   Backsliders;   Covetousness;   Love;   Minister, Christian;   Money;   Riches;   Temptation;   Scofield Reference Index - Separation;   Thompson Chain Reference - Avarice;   Greed;   Liberality-Parsimony;   Money;   The Topic Concordance - Evil;   Sorrow;   Wealth;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Covetousness;   Money;   Riches;   Temptation;  
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Money;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Covet;   Faith;   Love;   Money;   Pastor;   Perseverance;   Wealth;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Church, the;   Money;   Timothy, First and Second, Theology of;   Wealth;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Covetousness;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Timothy, the First Epistle to;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Contentment;   Root;   Wealth and Materialism;   1 Timothy;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Covetousness;   Jangling;   Timothy, Epistles to;   Wealth;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Care, Careful;   Grief ;   Love;   Socialism;   Timothy;   Timothy and Titus Epistles to;   Wealth;   Worldliness;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - 5 Covetousness Love of Money;  
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Covetousness;   Gehazi;   Money, Love of;   Pastoral Epistles, the;   Sorrow;  
Every Day Light - Devotion for December 18;  

Clarke's Commentary

Verse 10. The love of money is the root of all evil — Perhaps it would be better to translate παντωντωνκακων, of all these evils; i.e. the evils enumerated above; for it cannot be true that the love of money is the root of all evil, it certainly was not the root whence the transgression of Adam sprang, but it is the root whence all the evils mentioned in the preceding verse spring. This text has been often very incautiously quoted; for how often do we hear," The Scripture says, Money is the root of all evil!" No, the Scripture says no such thing. Money is the root of no evil, nor is it an evil of any kind; but the love of it is the root of all the evils mentioned here.

While some coveted after — ορεγομενοι. Insatiably desiring.

Have erred from the faith — απεπλανηθησαν. Have totally erred-have made a most fatal and ruinous departure from the religion of Christ.

And pierced themselves through with many sorrows. — The word περιεπειραν signifies to be transfixed in every part; and is an allusion to one of those snares, παγιδα, mentioned 1 Timothy 6:9, where a hole is dug in the earth, and filled full of sharp stakes, and, being slightly covered over with turf, is not perceived; and whatever steps on it falls in, and is pierced through and through with these sharp stakes, the οδυναις πολλαις, the many torments, mentioned by the apostle. See note on 1 Timothy 6:9.

Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 6:10". "The Adam Clarke Commentary".​commentaries/​acc/1-timothy-6.html. 1832.

Bridgeway Bible Commentary

Trouble-makers and God’s servant (6:3-16)

The teaching of the false teachers differs from that of Christ, and their conduct likewise differs. Their kind of teaching arises out of pride and creates argument, which in turn leads to suspicious thoughts and insulting talk about others. Paul knows that their real reason for setting themselves up as Christian teachers is to become rich (3-5).
Christianity does make a person rich, but not in the way the false teachers think. Christians are rich when they learn to be satisfied with what they have, and are not always wanting more (6-8). Those whose chief desire is to build up their wealth are easily led away from God. They might gain the wealth they desire, but spiritually they finish in a state of terrible poverty. Their spiritual lives become ruined, their true happiness is destroyed, and their minds are full of worries (9-10).
Paul warns Timothy to beware of these dangers, and encourages him to concentrate on developing the Christian virtues. He must not give up the struggle. When he first committed himself by a public declaration to his work, he knew that this work would require much perseverance (11-12). He is encouraged by the example of Jesus who, when he was before Pilate, made a firm declaration in spite of the suffering he knew it would bring. Timothy likewise must be faithful to the end in spite of the hardships. His assurance is that he will then share in the triumph of that great day when Jesus Christ returns (13-16).

Bibliographical Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 6:10". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary".​commentaries/​bbc/1-timothy-6.html. 2005.

Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil: which some reaching after have been led astray from the faith, and have pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

The thought of this verse is parallel with 1 Timothy 6:9; and again, it is not the possession of money, but the love of it and the pursuit of it, which are condemned. The old King James Version, of course, rendered this "root of all evil"; but the American Standard Version (1901) has hardly improved it. As White said of this rendition, "It is hardly satisfactory."[18] True, making money the root of "all evil" seems a little extravagant to some; but, again from White: "When one is dealing with a degrading vice of any kind, the interests of virtue are not served by qualified assertions."[19] The old rendition that "the love of money is the root of all evil" appears to be exactly what the Greek says; and, if going beyond the truth a little in the allowance that there are SOME "evils" not attributed to the love of money, the expression stands anyway as hyperbole, a metaphor used by all of the sacred writers.

Pierced themselves through with many sorrows ... This is the same thought of being drowned in destruction and perdition, mentioned in 1 Timothy 6:9.

[18] Newport J. D. White, op. cit., p. 144.

[19] Ibid.

Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 6:10". "Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible".​commentaries/​bcc/1-timothy-6.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

For the love of money is the root of all evil - That is, of all kinds of evil. This is evidently not to be understood as literally true, for there are evils which cannot, be traced to the love of money - the evils growing out of ambition, and intemperance, and debasing lusts, and of the hatred of God and of goodness. The expression here is evidently a popular saying - “all sorts of evils grow out of the love of money.” Similar expressions often occur in the classic writers; see Wetstein, in loc, and numerous examples quoted by Priceaus. Of the truth of this, no one can doubt. No small part of the crimes of the world can be traced to the love of gold. But it deserves to be remarked here, that the apostle does not say that “money is the root of all evil,” or that it is an evil at all. It is the “love” of it which is the source of evil.

Which while some coveted after - That is, some who were professing Christians. The apostle is doubtless referring to persons whose history was known to Timothy, and warning him, and teaching him to warn others, by their example.

They have erred from the faith - Margin, “been seduced.” The Greek is, they have been led astray from; that is, they have been so deceived as to depart from the faith. The notion of deception or delusion is in the word, and the sense is, that, deceived by the promises held out by the prospect of wealth, they have apostatized from the faith. It is not implied of necessity that they were ever real Christians. They have been led off from truth and duty, and from all the hopes and joys which religion would have imparted.

And pierced themselves through with many sorrows - With such sorrows as remorse, and painful reflections on their folly, and the apprehension of future wrath. Too late they see that they have thrown away the hopes of religion for that which is at best unworthy the pursuit of an immortal mind; which leads them on to a life of wickedness; which fails of imparting what it promised when its pursuit is successful, and which, in the great majority of instances, disappoints its votaries in respect to its attainment. The word rendered “pierced themselves through” - περιέπειραν periepeiran - occurs nowhere else in the New Testament, and is a word whose force and emphasis cannot be well expressed in a translation. It is from πείρω peirō, and is made more emphatic by the addition of the preposition περι peri. The word πείρω peirō, means, properly, “to pierce through from one end to another,” and is applied to meat that is “pierced through” by the spit when it is to be roasted (Passow); then it means to pierce through and through. The addition of the preposition περι peri to the word, conveys the idea of doing this “all round;” of piercing everywhere. It was not a single thrust which was made, but they are gashed all round with penetrating wounds. Such is the effect on those who cast off religion for the sake of gold. None can avoid these consequences who do this. Every man is in the hands of a holy and just God, and sooner or later he must feel the effects of his sin and folly.

Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 6:10". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible".​commentaries/​bnb/1-timothy-6.html. 1870.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

10For the root of all evils is avarice (124) There is no necessity for being too scrupulous in comparing other vices with this. It is certain that ambition and pride often produce worse fruits than covetousness does; and yet ambition does not proceed from covetousness. The same thing may be said of the sins forbidden by the seventh commandment. But Paul’s intention was not to include under covetousness every kind of vices that can be named. What then? He simply meant, that innumerable evils arise from it; just as we are in the habit of saying, when we speak of discord, or gluttony, or drunkenness, or any other vice of that kind, that there is no evil which it does not produce. And, indeed, we may most truly affirm, as to the base desire of gain, that there is no kind of evils that is not copiously produced by it every day; such as innumerable frauds, falsehoods, perjury, cheating, robbery, cruelty, corruption in judicature, quarrels, hatred, poisonings, murders; and, in short, almost every sort of crime.

Statements of this nature occur everywhere in heathen writers; and, therefore, it is improper that those persons who would applaud Horace or Ovid, when speaking in that manner, should complain of Paul as having used extravagant language. I wish it were not proved by daily experience, that this is a plain description of facts as they really are. But let us remember that the same crimes which spring from avarice, may also arise, as they undoubtedly do arise, either from ambition, or from envy, or from other sinful dispositions.

Which some eagerly desiring The Greek wordὀρεγόμενοι is overstrained, when the Apostle says that avarice is “eagerly desired;” but it does not obscure the sense. He affirms that the most aggravated of all evils springs from avarice — revolting from the faith; for they who are diseased with this disease are found to degenerate gradually, till they entirely renounce the faith. Hence those sorrows, which he mentions; by which term I understand frightful torments of conscience, which are wont to befall men past all hope; though God has other methods of trying covetous men, by making them their own tormentors.

(124)C’est avarice, ou, convoitise des richesses.” — “Is avarice, or, an eager desire of riches.”

Bibliographical Information
Calvin, John. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 6:10". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible".​commentaries/​cal/1-timothy-6.html. 1840-57.

Smith's Bible Commentary

Chapter 6

Now Paul turns to the subject of servants in chapter six.

Let as many servants as are under the yoke ( 1 Timothy 6:1 )

That is, to a master.

count their own masters worthy of all honour ( 1 Timothy 6:1 ),

Now this is actually the word "slave." And in that day, slavery was a very common practice. And Paul said, If you are a slave, then count your master worthy of all honor or respect.

that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed ( 1 Timothy 6:1 ).

In our day and age, it is so important for us as Christians to be above reproach in our work and in our work habits, because people are expecting more from you as a Christian than they expect from a normal person. It may be that everyone is fudging on his breaktime and is, you know, taking a half-hour for break when fifteen minutes is allowed. If you're a Christian, you should take fifteen minutes, though the others are taking a half-hour. Now if the other is so, you're taking a half-hour and the others are taking fifteen minutes, you say, well, you know, I'm a Christian; they'll say, Hey, supposed to be a Christian, look at that. And many times by our actions and by our attitudes, we cause the name of Jesus to be blasphemed. And that's tragic.

That was the thing that Nathan nailed David with, after David's experience with Bathsheba. He had said to David, "David, you've caused the enemies of God to blaspheme" ( 2 Samuel 12:14 ). You've given occasion to the enemies of God to lay blame against Christianity or against Jesus Christ because of your slovenliness. More is expected of you because you are a Christian. Produce more, Paul is saying.

If you have a master who is a believer, then don't despise them, because that they are your brothers; but rather service to them, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the same benefit. These things [Paul said] teach and exhort ( 1 Timothy 6:2 ).

So basically the servant was as a Christian, to be exemplary in his service, whether he had an unbelieving or a believing master. Now if you had a believing master, he may sort of resent the fact that he still is requiring this of me. After all, we're brothers in Christ and we are believers, you know. But Paul is just exhorting them to have the respect and honor of their masters.

If any man teach otherwise, and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness ( 1 Timothy 6:3 );

Paul uses this word "godliness" some six times; I believe it is in this epistle. He talks a lot about godliness. "Great is the mystery of godliness:" you remember last Sunday's message. "God was manifest in the flesh" ( 1 Timothy 3:16 ), and all. Now again, "If someone teaches otherwise, and does not consent to the wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness." And that's the purpose that we might be like God, that we might be godly in our actions.

That person who is teaching otherwise,

Is proud, he knows nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof comes envy, strife, railings, and evil surmisings, the perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth ( 1 Timothy 6:4-5 ),

And what is their main thesis?

supposing that godliness is a way to gain ( 1 Timothy 6:5 ):

Paul said this is one of the worst heresies.

withdraw yourself from such a person ( 1 Timothy 6:5 ).

You see, here is a slave who is saying, Hey, I've a godly master so you know he ought to make it easier on me. It's a way for me to gain. Here is a master who's saying, Oh, I have a godly servant, you know, I can trust him and I can put him in a position of trust because he is godly. I can use that for my gain, for my benefit.

So many people are following this heresy. There are many people who are advocating this heresy. You know, if you want to be rich, if you want to drive a Cadillac, just receive the Lord and have enough faith. Go out in faith, put the down payment on the thing, put a deposit on it, you know. Believe and trust the Lord to make the payments. Godliness is a way for prosperity. God wants you to have the best. You're the King's kids and God wants you to live like the King's kid. Go out and go for it. Indulge your lust. God wants you to have everything. Godliness is a way to gain.

"Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds. They're destitute of the truth, from such withdraw yourself." The truth is,

godliness with contentment that's great gain ( 1 Timothy 6:6 ).

That's really being rich. The person who never has enough, who is always wanting more, is not really rich. I know a man who has over a hundred and fifty million dollars, over a hundred million deposited in certificates of deposit in the bank. He keeps that for the acquisition of new breweries that might come on the market. This man works sixteen hours a day, sixteen to eighteen hours a day, seven days a week, never takes a day off, never takes a vacation; drives himself. He's not rich, he's poor, that's not really being rich. What is really rich? The man who is godly and is content, a man who doesn't have a need. That's the man who is rich; he's got everything he wants. That's real riches, that contentment with what I have.

And so Paul speaks about contentment. He said,

We brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we're not going to carry anything out ( 1 Timothy 6:7 ).

When you die, you're going to do just exactly what everyone before you has done; you're going to leave everything here. You're not going to take a cent with you. "Naked I came into the world, naked I'm going out of the world" ( Job 1:21 ). I brought nothing in; I'm going to carry nothing out.

And [therefore] having food and raiment let us be therewith content ( 1 Timothy 6:8 ).

How many people have brought themselves into really great poverty because they're never satisfied with what they have? Always wanting something more. And that discontentment has brought many people to bankruptcy. "Having food or raiment be content." You have food, you have clothes, praise the Lord! Be content.

But they that will be rich ( 1 Timothy 6:9 )

If this is your goal, if this is your drive, if this is your purpose in life, "they that will be rich" will

fall into temptations and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts or desires, which drown men in destruction and perdition ( 1 Timothy 6:9 ).

The wealthy person has far many more temptations than I have. Because of his wealth, the opportunities are there of doing so many more things. I don't have to worry about a lot of things because I don't have the money to do them; I'm not tempted by them, I can't afford them. But a wealthy person runs into all kinds of temptations that you never dreamed about. So "they that will be rich will fall into these snares, the temptations, many foolish, hurtful desires, which just drown men in destruction."

For the love of money is the root of all evil ( 1 Timothy 6:10 ):

That's quite a statement. Notice, he does not say, "Money is the root of all evil." And you've often heard it quoted that way, haven't you? That's not what he says. Money is not evil; it's not good. It all depends on your attitude towards money. And "the love of money is the root of all evil."

James said "from whence comes the fightings and the wars" ( James 4:1 ). Does it come from man's own lust, the desires? Love of money, the greed, behind all of the wars and strivings and jealousies and all within the world, the love of money, the root of all evil. And so you can take the evil and you can trace it all back and it comes back to greed, the love of money. And the world is in the mess that it is today because of greed.

It is not that we are running out of natural resources. It isn't that the world isn't big enough to accommodate the population. It isn't that we could not feed everybody. The problem with the world is how men are spending the money. Last year throughout the world, there was over one trillion dollars spent for the defense budgets in the nations of the world, for buying war equipment to destroy other men; over one trillion dollars. Had we spent one trillion dollars last year in agricultural development, there would not be a single hungry person on the face of the earth; instead of the fact, that two-thirds of the world are living on starvation diets tonight, not enough food.

It isn't that we can't produce enough food, it isn't that there isn't enough arable ground and so forth, it's a misdirection; the greed of man. It's more profitable to make bombs than to plant corn. And so the greed of man, the love of money; that's the root of the evil. If it weren't for the love of money, we would have no drug problems today. What's behind the drug problem? What's behind all of these drug smuggling and so forth? What's behind it all? The love of money. If we did not have the love of money, there would be no prostitution today. Were it not for the love of money, think of how many evils would be eliminated from our earth. The love of money is the root of all evil.

which while some have coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows ( 1 Timothy 6:10 ).

An interesting observation because the lie that we believe is just the opposite. The common deception is if I just had enough money, I would be happy. Paul is saying that these who have achieved, turning from the truth, erring from the truth, have brought themselves into great sorrows. And interestingly enough, the most wealthy men I know are also at the same time the most miserable men that I know. Interesting, isn't it?

I have them invite me out to lunch. They pour out their stories of woe, misery, loneliness. One fellow was sharing with me how he didn't know if anybody truly loved him or not. All of these women throwing themselves at him, but he said I don't know if they really love me or not. He's married three of them so far and they've all taken him for a pretty good ride. And now he's in a real dilemma. Since the last one left and made out pretty well in the courts, there's a lot of others who are thinking, My, I'd like to retire, too. Live with a guy for six months and retire, you know. He said, I don't know if they really love me or not. Miserable. Doesn't know true love. How can I know if they really love me? Sad, isn't it? The guy's so wealthy. He doesn't know if anybody really loves him or not or they're just after him for his bucks. Are they friendly just because he has bucks? Are they hoping to cash in on his bankroll? Poor fellow.

I have a cousin who's so rich as far as money goes. The poor fellow is over in the Philippines somewhere with a butterfly net chasing butterflies through the jungles. That's how he spends his life, chasing butterflies through the jungles. Worth millions of dollars, he's never worked a day in his life, but life is a bore, life is a drag. The only excitement he has is chasing butterflies. Poor fellow. Next to him I'm rich.

But thou, O man of God, flee these things ( 1 Timothy 6:11 );

Flee what? The love of money.

follow after righteousness ( 1 Timothy 6:11 ),

Pursue after righteousness. Don't pursue after wealth, after being rich; pursue rather after righteousness.

godliness ( 1 Timothy 6:11 ),

There is that word again.

faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, and lay hold to eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses ( 1 Timothy 6:11-12 ).

So it all comes down to what is the center of your life. If money, the desire for money, the desire for gain is at the center of your life, then you're going to be a miserable person. If God is at the center of your life, you're going to be rich, your life is going to be blessed, your life is going to be full. So put God at the center of your life, put righteousness at the center of your life, godliness at the center of your life, that you might really be a rich person. Enjoy the true riches, the eternal riches.

Because one of the tragic things about my poor cousin is the only one he has to leave his money to is an idiot cousin, his daughter. It's tragic, isn't it? But she's already got so many millions, you know, but she lives in a care home in Ojai. She's not able to take care of herself. Her grandmother died recently and left her another seven million dollars but it's all under trusteeship while she just sits there in the home and puts peanut butter on Ritz crackers. That's tragic, isn't it?

I went to visit her and she said, Oh, I have this special recipe, I want to, I want to fix for you this special recipe. She brings out all these Ritz crackers with peanut butter. Oh, she made these up herself, you know. Poor child, my heart goes out to her. I really, my heart does go out to her. I wouldn't trade places with her for anything, with all of the bucks that she has, or my other cousin. I wouldn't trade with him for anything with all of the bucks he has. I wouldn't want to be running around some jungle in the Philippines tonight, you know, chasing butterflies.

God at the center of your life; it's a life that is content, a life that is happy, a life that is rich, a life that is full.

I give you charge [he said] in the sight of God, who makes all things alive, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession ( 1 Timothy 6:13 );

"Pilate said, Art thou a king then? And Jesus said, To this end was I born and for this cause I came to the world" ( John 18:33 , John 18:37 ). Good confession before Pontius Pilate. So this is going to be heavy, heavy duty charge. "I charge you before God, who makes all things alive, before Jesus Christ,"

That you keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ ( 1 Timothy 6:14 ):

Now he gave them this commandment; what was it? To make God the center of your life, to seek after righteousness and godliness. I charge you before God, do this until the Lord comes again. Keep Him at the center of your heart and life. What did Jesus say about this? He said, "Seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and everything else will be taken care of" ( Matthew 6:33 ).

You see, man's life exists on two plains, the vertical and the horizontal. The vertical plain is your relationship with God and that is the axis upon which your life revolves. If your relationship with God is out of kilter, then your relationship with your fellowman is going to be out of kilter, out of balance. And this is the problem in our world today. People are trying to live a well-balanced life and they are struggling and striving to have a well-balanced life, to have a well-balanced relationship with others. And they're fighting constantly to find this balance in relationships, spending millions going to the psychologist and psychiatrist trying to find the balance. The reason why the life is out of balance, the reason why your relationships are out of balance, is that your relationship with God is out of balance. The vertical axis of your life is off center.

Now Paul is giving to Timothy fantastic advice. Put God at the center of your life. Godliness, righteousness, put these things at the center of your being. I charge you before God, do this until Jesus comes. Because if the center of your life is right, if your relationship with God is right, then you will be a very rich person, because it will affect every other relationship in your life. They will all be right if your relationship with God is right. You'll have a right relationship with the devil; you'll defeat him everytime you meet him because your relationship with God is right. You'll have a right relationship with your possessions, for you will know that they are really God's, and only entrusted to you and you'll use them wisely. You'll have a right relationship with your fellowmen, sharing, loving, giving.

God at the center, the vertical axis, the horizontal automatically falls into place. You cannot correct the horizontal axis by working on the horizontal. I mean, you can't correct the horizontal plain by working on the horizontal plain. I'm going to work on this relationship. While you're working on this relationship, you're messing up five more. Spending too much time trying to get this relationship right and everything else is going wrong. So you finally get this one right and you turn around and oh man, everybody else, oh help. So you grab a hold of another. I'm going to work on this relationship. While you're getting that one corrected, another goes out of balance.

And so you spend your whole life trying to get balanced here, you know, when in reality you need to come back to the vertical axis, get your relationship with God. "Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these other things would be taken care of." They'll all be added to you. So that is why Paul is so forceful in charging Timothy to get your life right with God. Put God at the center. Seek after righteousness and godliness. For when Jesus comes,

In his time he shall show, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen ( 1 Timothy 6:15-16 ).

So Jesus when He comes is going to show who the true, the only God is. "The only and blessed Potentate, the King of kings, and the Lord of lords; who only hath immortality, who dwells in a light which no man can approach; whom no man hath seen." In John, the first chapter, we read, "No man hath seen God at any time; but the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has manifested him" ( John 1:18 ). But Jesus will show us then who is the only true God.

Now you see, riches are not a true God. They are a false God, but they are the god of many people. Many people are worshipping wealth; it's the center of their life. And you don't have to be wealthy to have it at the center of your life. In fact, it probably is a problem that is almost more endemic to poor people than it is to wealthy people, because poor people so often live under the illusion that wealth would be the solution to all their problems. Wealthy people know that that's not so, but poor people think that it would be so. All my problems would be solved by wealth. So the love of money can actually be a stronger drive in a poor person than in a rich person. It is not a true God. It is a false god. When Jesus appears, He will show us who is the true God. "The only Potentate, King of kings and Lord of lords."

And so he said, Timothy,

Charge those that are rich in this world, that they not be highminded, nor trust in the uncertainty of riches, but teach them to trust in the living God ( 1 Timothy 6:17 ),

This whole area now is on who is your god? Riches your god, the desire for money your god, it's at the heart of your being. Or are you living a godly life, a righteous life, serving the only true and the living God? "Charge those that are rich in the things of this world, in the worldly things, that they not be highminded, and don't trust in your riches, they are uncertain, but trust rather in the living God,"

who gives us richly all things to enjoy ( 1 Timothy 6:17 );

I love that. God gives to us richly all things to enjoy. All the money in the world can't buy the thrill of sitting on the beach and watching the sun set behind Catalina Island. And just enjoying the sky that lights up in brilliant color. And just sitting there and communing with God; what a rich experience that is. What a rich experience it is to walk through the forest and smell the pine needle and hear the waterfalls and the singing brooks and the blue jays and the chatter of the squirrel. God has given to us richly all things to enjoy. God wants you to enjoy life. God wants you to have the fullness of joy in your life. And He has given you the laws by which, the rules by which you can have a life that is filled with joy.

Our problem is that we don't always agree with God. We think that many times God has set rules that are too restrictive, that they are holding me back from joy or from something that would be pleasurable or exciting. And I find myself rebelling against the law of God saying, God, you're not right, you know, it isn't fair to deny me that because if I could only do that, then I would really have joy and happiness. But everytime we defy the law of God, we find it brings misery and sorrow to ourself.

God has given us the rules of happiness and the rules of joy. "Happy is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful. But whose delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law does he meditate day and night. Where he will be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, bringing forth fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; whatever he does will prosper. The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind drives away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the day of judgment" ( Psalms 1:1-5 ). Oh the happy man is the man who has put God at the center of his life because when God is at the center of my life, I can then enjoy all that God has given to me. I can enjoy it fully. For God has "given to me all things richly, freely, richly to enjoy."

And so, "Charge those that are rich,"

That they do good, and that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, and willing to give to those that are in need ( 1 Timothy 6:18 );

The word "communicate" is that of communicating of help unto the needy. For in so doing, they will be

Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life ( 1 Timothy 6:19 ).

Jesus gave a parable that has been a problem for many people to understand. The parable was of a servant who found out he was going to get fired. His master said, Okay, make an accounting of everything, you know, you're fired. Servant says, Hey, what am I going to do? I'm ashamed to beg. I don't want to dig ditches. I know what I'll do. And he started calling in the creditors. How much do you owe my boss? I owe him a hundred measures of meal. Here, let me have your bill. Scratch out a hundred. Fifty. Called in another creditor, how much do you owe my boss? Oh, a hundred barrels of oil. Here, fifty. And he cut all of the bills in half figuring as soon as he's fired, he'll go and say, Hey, remember how I wiped out fifty barrels of oil off your bill? I need a little bit. Could you help me? He was taking advantage of his present situation to set himself up for the future. He knew he wasn't going to always be in this position of helping himself for the future; it's going to be short-lived. He was going to be fired in a week, so, you know, take advantage of my present position to hedge for the future.

Now Jesus said, The Lord commended the unjust steward. And that's where the parable runs into difficulty. Commended him? He ought to have condemned him. He should have thrown him in jail. He commended the unjust steward for Jesus said, The children of this generation are wiser than the children of light. Therefore, make use of the unrighteousness of mammon; that when you die, you might be received into the everlasting habitations ( Luke 16:1-9 ).

What was He talking about? Right now, I have the opportunities of laying up for myself treasures in heaven. I will not always have this opportunity. The day is coming when I will die. After I die, I will have no further opportunity of laying up for myself an eternal heavenly store. That opportunity is only now while I am here.

Jesus said, "Make use of the unrighteousness of mammon." You see, your money, your dollar is not worth anything in heaven. It's not worth very much here, but it's worth nothing in heaven. If you could take them there, if you could carry them out, if when you die you could take a suitcase full, when you get to the gates say, Hey, Peter, look what I brought, you know. Show me the nicest room you've got. Peter will say, What's that junk? Your money is not current in heaven. Here I brought all this gold. No, throw it in the street. Let it mix with the rest of the pavement. We use that stuff for asphalt up here.

So, my only opportunity of laying up an eternal heavenly store is now. So "charge those that are rich that they do good, that they be rich in good works, that they are ready to distribute to the needy, and to help those that are in need." That they might lay up for themselves a store in heaven, a good foundation against the time to come that they might enter into that eternal kingdom. "Laying up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not corrupt or decay, thieves cannot break through and steal" ( Matthew 6:20 ).

So rich on earth, poor in heaven. How long you going to be on earth? Hundred years? How long you going to be in heaven? Poor on earth, rich in heaven. Who's better off? So I don't have much. So it is tough. I have all I need. I'm happy. I'm satisfied. I don't have any real needs or real wants. I'm rich. But more than that, hey, the eternal riches. Rich eternally.

Issues that I debated years ago when I was debating between a career as a medical doctor or as a minister. Where do I want my riches? Now or forever? It makes good sense to me to be rich eternally more than to be rich temporally. It makes better sense for me to lay up my riches in heaven where I might enjoy them world without end, than to try and amass riches now, which can only bring misery and strife and unrest. The true riches.

O Timothy, keep that which is committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and vain babblings, and the oppositions of science falsely so called ( 1 Timothy 6:20 ):

You want to know what is the greatest science falsely so called in the world today? Evolution. They call it science but it's falsely called science. There's nothing scientific about the evolutionary theory. It's science falsely so called. Vain babblings, profane and vain babblings. Paul said avoid them, Timothy.

Which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace be with thee. Amen ( 1 Timothy 6:21 ).

Paul's first letter to Timothy.

Father, we thank You for the good counsel. May we take heed, and Lord, may we indeed seek to put Christ at the center of our lives, godliness at the center of our being. Keep us, Lord, from the delusion and the lie of the enemy that would say that godliness is a way to riches. But God, may we not have riches as the motive and the center, the master passion of our lives knowing that the love of money is the root of evil, has destroyed so many people. Oh God, give us wisdom to put You first. In Jesus' name, Amen.

May the Lord give you a blessed week and may you go out and begin to enjoy all things richly that He has given to you. Begin to enjoy those eternal riches that you have as a child of God. May God help you to just sort of slow down from this mad drive for more and just begin to enjoy what you have. May He give you some blue skies to observe, clouds. Get on down to the beach. Sit there and just watch it and commune with God. Enjoy what God has given to you. And may your life be enriched and blessed as you walk in fellowship with Him, God at the center. In Jesus' name. "

Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 6:10". "Smith's Bible Commentary".​commentaries/​csc/1-timothy-6.html. 2014.

Contending for the Faith


Since the whole of 1 Timothy is rich with practical exhortation, it is only fitting that the concluding section of this epistle contain more punctuated urgings and warnings from the Apostle Paul. Throughout most of his writings, Paul reveals a consistent pattern of presentation; typically, he has a greeting, keynote, thanksgiving, doctrine, and practical application, followed usually with concluding greetings and business.

In this sixth chapter, Paul urges Timothy to exhort others regarding various topics of concern while encouraging him to give personal heed to his own conduct and teaching. With his divine wisdom, Paul highlights areas in Timothy’s life that need attention. His writings became apostolic support for Timothy’s preaching and should be the very content of the church’s teaching today. The intense personal admonition Paul gives to Timothy can be expected since the banner of the Cause is being passed from an apostolic figure to a non-apostolic figure.

As he concludes this letter, Paul touches on a series of prevalent but miscellaneous issues. While there are ties between the verses, the whole of the message does not seem to be tightly interwoven. Part of the message is personal admonition to Timothy regarding his Christian character and his steadfastness as a minister of the gospel. He also gives general admonition to the Christian, emphasizing what should be considered of "great gain" while warning of the danger of following after riches. In that context Paul reminds Timothy of the benefits of "laying up in store ... a good foundation." The lasting merit of the chapter is Paul’s instruction about Christian living that so many in the world of that time--and this--had surrendered.

Paul addresses three groups of people and divides them into two categories each as he gives the admonition in this chapter: (1) slaves, both those with unbelieving masters and those with believing masters; (2) teachers, including false teachers with improper motives and wrong sources of authority for their beliefs and sound teachers with proper motives and divine authority as a basis of truth; (3) wealthy, both those who desire wealth and those who have wealth with all of its attendant responsibilities. These groupings can serve as memory keys that can help in remembering the contents of the chapter.

Bibliographical Information
Editor Charles Baily, "Commentary on 1 Timothy 6:10". "Contending for the Faith".​commentaries/​ctf/1-timothy-6.html. 1993-2022.

Contending for the Faith

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.

For the love of money is the root of all evil: A hard path awaits those who resolve to be rich because they ignore that the love of money promotes and provokes all kinds of evil. He who stretches forward to riches is faced with a constant immersion in grief. It is true that other passions produce evil; but what evil will those desiring wealth refuse?

Paul is not saying that love of money is the only source of evil. Vine points out that "There are other passions which are productive of evil; yet there is no sort of evil which the craving for wealth may not induce" (96). Fairbairn writes, "The sentiment is, that there is no kind of evil to which the love of money may not lead men, when it once fairly takes hold of them" (239).

which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith: The Bible declares the way of the sinner is hard, and the hardness of that path is never more evident than in regard to the man who would be rich. Paul explains in verses 9 and 10 that their craving for riches results in falling into temptation, becoming trapped, having senseless desires arise, being drowned in destruction, and being led astray to ruin and tortured with many griefs.

and pierced themselves through with many sorrows: The word "pierced" means to torture one’s soul with sorrows. "Sorrows" (odunais) means grief. Kent states, "Pangs of conscience, disillusionment, spiritual unrest, and many other unhappy accompaniments are the product of this course of life" (198). How different life is now and how different life will be in the hereafter for those who lay up treasures for themselves in contrast to those who will be rich toward God (Luke 12:21).

Bibliographical Information
Editor Charles Baily, "Commentary on 1 Timothy 6:10". "Contending for the Faith".​commentaries/​ctf/1-timothy-6.html. 1993-2022.

Dr. Constable's Expository Notes


In the last major section of this letter Paul called on Timothy to instruct the members of various groups within the church concerning their Christian duty.

Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 6:10". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes".​commentaries/​dcc/1-timothy-6.html. 2012.

Dr. Constable's Expository Notes

B. False teachers 6:3-10

Paul returned to instructions concerning the false teachers (cf. 1 Timothy 1:3-11; 1 Timothy 4:1-5) to alert Timothy to their underlying attitudes so he could deal with them effectively.

". . . Paul issues a kind of ’wanted poster.’ It is the counterpart to the ’job description’ given in chapter 3." [Note: Towner, 1-2 Timothy . . ., p.135.]

Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 6:10". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes".​commentaries/​dcc/1-timothy-6.html. 2012.

Dr. Constable's Expository Notes

A simple lifestyle demonstrates contentment with the basics of life. [Note: I. Howard Marshall, The Pastoral Epistles, p. 649.] In contrast, greed for more opens the door to temptation. This temptation comes in the form of unwise lustful desires that impede one’s spiritual progress, as a trap holds an animal that gets tangled in it. Eventually the end of the person so snared is spiritual ruin and personal destruction if he or she does not escape its grip and turn from it.

Paul used a second figure to warn against greed (1 Timothy 6:10 a). That root attitude bears all kinds of evil fruit in wicked actions. Note that it is the love of money, not money itself, that is the snare. It is possible to have very little money and yet to love it. Some people have much money yet do not love it. Love of money contrasts with love of God and neighbor, the two greatest commandments (Matthew 22:39; cf. Matthew 6:24; Luke 16:13; 1 John 2:15).

"The connotation in ’the love of money’ (philaguria) is not the acquisition of wealth in order that it may be used in prodigal expenditure but rather the miserly accumulation and hoarding of money for the very love of it. That which should be a means to support life is made the end of life itself." [Note: Hiebert, First Timothy, p. 114.]

Paul pictured a person wandering from the narrow path of truth as he pursues money. He gets caught in thorns that pierce his skin and cause him great pain (cf. Matthew 13:22). Paul may have been speaking of these false teachers impaling themselves. [Note: Towner, The Letters . . ., p. 404.]

"The sentiment is, that there is no kind of evil to which the love of money may not lead men, when once it fairly takes hold of them." [Note: Patrick Fairbairn, Commentary on the Pastoral Epistles, p. 239.]

As Christians who live in a materialistic world, we must cultivate Paul’s attitude of contentment very deliberately. This is an especially difficult task in a society like the one in which we live in North America. We are constantly hearing through advertising and the media that we "need" all kinds of luxuries. According to Paul, and Jesus, our personal needs as human beings are very few. Paul’s point was that we should seek godliness more diligently than we seek money and the things it can buy.

"If you are afraid that perhaps the love of money is getting a hold on your soul, start giving some of it away and see how you feel! If you feel really glad then you are still safe, but if it almost breaks your heart then it is time to get down on your knees and pray to be freed from this sin of covetousness! It is going to ruin you unless you are delivered from it." [Note: Ironside, p. 155.]

Compare the attitude of the rich young ruler in Matthew 19:22, Mark 10:22, or Luke 18:23.

Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 6:10". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes".​commentaries/​dcc/1-timothy-6.html. 2012.

Barclay's Daily Study Bible

Chapter 6


6:1-2 Let all those who are slaves under the yoke hold their own masters to be worthy of all respect, in order that no one may have an opportunity to speak evil of the name of God and the Christian teaching. If they have masters who are believers, let them not try to take advantage of them because they are brothers, but rather let them render even better service, because those who lay claim to that service are believers and beloved.

Beneath the surface of this passage there are certain supremely important Christian principles for everyday life and work.

The Christian slave was in a peculiarly difficult position. If he was the slave of a heathen master, he might very easily make it clear that he regarded his master as bound for perdition and himself as the heir of salvation. His Christianity might well give him a feeling of intolerant superiority which would create an impossible situation. On the other hand, if his master was a Christian, the slave might be tempted to take advantage of the relationship and to trade upon it, using it as an excuse for producing inefficient work in the expectation of escaping all punishment. He might think that the fact that both he and his master were Christians entitled him to all kinds of special consideration. There was an obvious problem here. We must note two general things.

(i) In those early days the Church did not emerge as the would-be destroyer of slavery by violent and sudden means. And it was wise. There were something like 60,000,000 slaves in the Roman Empire. Simply because of their numbers they were always regarded as potential enemies. If ever there was a slave revolt it was put down with merciless force, because the Roman Empire could not afford to allow the slaves to rise. If a slave ran away and was caught, he was either executed or branded on the forehead with the letter F, which stood for fugitivus, which means runaway. There was indeed a Roman law which stated that if a master was murdered all his slaves could be examined under torture, and could indeed be put to death in a body. E. K. Simpson wisely writes: "Christianity's spiritual campaign would have been fatally compromised by stirring the smouldering embers of class-hatred into a devouring flame, or opening an asylum for runaway slaves in its bosom."

For the Church to have encouraged slaves to revolt against their masters would have been fatal. It would simply have caused civil war, mass murder, and the complete discredit of the Church. What happened was that as the centuries went on Christianity so permeated civilization that in the end the slaves were freed voluntarily and not by force. Here is a tremendous lesson. It is the proof that neither men nor the world nor society can be reformed by force and by legislation. The reform must come through the slow penetration of the Spirit of Christ into the human situation. Things have to happen in God's time, not in ours. In the end the slow way is the sure way, and the way of violence always defeats itself.

(ii) There is here the further truth, that "spiritual equality does not efface civil distinctions." It is a continual danger that a man may unconsciously regard his Christianity as an excuse for slackness and inefficiency. Because he and his master are both Christians, he may expect to be treated with special consideration. But the fact that both master and man are Christian does not release the employee from doing a good day's work and earning his wage. The Christian is under the same obligation to submit to discipline and to earn his pay as any other man.

What then is the duty of the Christian slave as the Pastorals see it? It is to be a good slave. If he is not, if he is slack and careless, if he is disobedient and insolent, he merely supplies the world with ammunition to criticize the Church. The Christian workman must commend his Christianity by being a better workman than other people. In particular, his work will be done in a new spirit. He will not now think of himself as being unwillingly compelled to work; he will think of himself as rendering service to his master, to God and to his fellow-men. His aim will be, not to see how little can be forced out of him, but how much he can willingly do. As George Herbert had it:

"A servant with this clause

Makes drudgery divine:

Who sweeps a room, as for thy laws,

Makes that and the action fine."


6:3-5 If any man offers a different kind of teaching, and does not apply himself to sound words (it is the words of our Lord Jesus Christ I mean) and to godly teaching, he has become inflated with pride. He is a man of no understanding; rather he has a diseased addiction to subtle speculations and battles of words, which can be only a source of envy, strife, the exchange of insults, evil suspicions, continual altercations of men whose minds are corrupt and who are destitute of the truth, men whose belief is that religion is a means of making gain.

The circumstances of life in the ancient world presented the false teacher with an opportunity which he was not slow to take. On the Christian side, the Church was full of wandering prophets, whose very way of life gave them a certain prestige. The Christian service was much more informal than it is now. Anyone who felt he had a message was free to give it; and the door was wide open to men who were out to propagate a false and misleading message. On the heathen side, there were men called sophists (compare G4680) , wise men, who made it their business, so to speak, to sell philosophy. They had two lines. They claimed for a fee to be able to teach men to argue cleverly; they were the men who with their smooth tongues and their adroit minds were skilled in "making the worse appear the better reason." They had turned philosophy into a way of becoming rich. Their other line was to give demonstrations of public speaking. The Greek had always been fascinated by the spoken word; he loved an orator; and these wandering sophists went from town to town, giving their oratorical demonstrations. They went in for advertising on an intensive scale and even went the length of delivering by hand personal invitations to their displays. The most famous of them drew people literally by the thousand to their lectures; they were in their day the equivalent of the modern pop star. Philostratus tells us that Adrian, one of the most famous of them, had such a popular power that, when his messenger appeared with the news that he was to speak, even the senate and the circus emptied, and the whole population flocked to the Athenaeum to hear him. They had three great faults.

Their speeches were quite unreal. They would offer to speak on any subject, however remote and recondite and unlikely, that any member of the audience might propose. This is the kind of question they would argue; it is an actual example. A man goes into the citadel of a town to kill a tyrant who has been grinding down the people; not finding the tyrant, he kills the tyrant's son; the tyrant comes in and sees his dead son with the sword in his body, and in his grief kills himself; the man then claims the reward for killing the tyrant and liberating the people; should he receive it?

Their thirst was for applause. Competition between them was a bitter and a cut-throat affair. Plutarch tells of a travelling sophist called Niger who came to a town in Galatia where a prominent orator resided. A competition was immediately arranged. Niger had to compete or lose his reputation. He was suffering from a fishbone in his throat and had difficulty in speaking; but for the sake of prestige he had to go on. Inflammation set in soon after, and in the end he died. Dio Chrysostom paints a picture of a public place in Corinth with all the different kinds of competitors in full blast: "You might hear many poor wretches of sophists shouting and abusing each other, and their disciples, as they call them, squabbling, and many writers of books reading their stupid compositions, and many poets singing their poems, and many jugglers exhibiting their marvels, and many soothsayers giving the meaning of prodigies, and a thousand rhetoricians twisting lawsuits, and no small number of traders driving their several trades." There you have just that interchange of insults, that envy and strife, that constant wordy altercation of men with decadent minds that the writer of the Pastorals deplores. "A sophist," wrote Philostratus, "is put out in an extempore speech by a serious-looking audience and tardy praise and no clapping." "They are all agape," said Dio Chrysostom, "for the murmur of the crowd.... Like men walking in the dark they move always in the direction of the clapping and the shouting." Lucian writes: "If your friends see you breaking down, let them pay the price of the suppers you give them by stretching out their arms and giving you a chance of thinking of something to say in the intervals between the rounds of applause." The ancient world well knew just the kind of false teacher who was invading the Church.

Their thirst was for praise, and their criterion was numbers. Epictetus has some vivid pictures of the sophist talking to his disciples after his performance. "'Well, what did you think of me today?' 'Upon my life, sir, I thought you were admirable.' 'What did you think of my best passage?' 'Which was that?' 'Where I described Pan and the Nymphs.' 'Oh, it was excessively well done.'" "'A much larger audience today, I think,' says the sophist. 'Yes, much larger,' responds the disciple. 'Five hundred, I should guess.' 'O, nonsense! It could not have been less than a thousand.' 'Why, that is more than Dio ever had. I wonder why it was? They appreciated what I said, too.' 'Beauty, sir, can move a stone.'" These performing sophists were "the pets of society." They became senators, governors, ambassadors. When they died monuments were erected to them, with inscriptions such as, "The Queen of Cities to the King of Eloquence."

The Greeks were intoxicated with the spoken word. Among them, if a man could speak, his fortune was made. It was against a background like that that the Church was growing up; and it is little wonder that this type of teacher invaded it. The Church gave him a new area in which to exercise his meretricious gifts and to gain a tinsel prestige and a not unprofitable following.


Here in this passage are set out the characteristics of the false teacher.

(i) His first characteristic is conceit. His desire is not to display Christ, but to display himself There are still preachers and teachers who are more concerned to gain a following for themselves than for Jesus Christ, more concerned to press their own views than to bring to men the word of God. In a lecture on his old teacher A. B. Bruce, W. M. Macgregor said: "One of our own Highland ministers tells how he had been puzzled by seeing Bruce again and again during lectures take up a scrap of paper, look at it and then proceed. One day he caught at the chance of seeing what this paper contained, and discovered on it an indication of the words: 'O, send out thy light and thy truth,' and thus he realized with awe that into his classroom the professor brought the majesty and the hopefulness of worship." The great teacher does not offer men his own farthing candle of illumination; he offers them the light and the truth of God.

(ii) His concern is with abstruse and recondite speculations. There is a kind of Christianity which is more concerned with argument than with life. To be a member of a discussion circle or a Bible study group and spend enjoyable hours in talk about doctrines does not necessarily make a Christian. J. S. Whale in his book Christian Doctrine has certain scathing things to say about this pleasant intellectualism: "We have as Valentine said of Thurio, 'an exchequer of words, but no other treasure.' Instead of putting off our shoes from our feet because the place whereon we stand is holy ground, we are taking nice photographs of the Burning Bush from suitable angles: we are chatting about theories of the Atonement with our feet on the mantelpiece, instead of kneeling down before the wounds of Christ." As Luther had it: "He who merely studies the commandments of God (mandata Dei) is not greatly moved. But he who listens to God commanding (Deum mandantem), how can he fail to be terrified by majesty so great?" As Melanchthon had it: "To know Christ is not to speculate about the mode of his Incarnation, but to know his saving benefits." Gregory of Nyssa drew a revealing picture of Constantinople in his day: "Constantinople is full of mechanics and slaves, who are all of them profound theologians, preaching in the shops and the streets. If you want a man to change a piece of silver, he informs you wherein the Son differs from the Father; if you ask the price of a loaf, you are told by way of reply that the Son is inferior to the Father; and if you enquire whether the bath is ready, the answer is that the Son is made out of nothing." Subtle argumentation and glib theological statements do not make a Christian. That kind of thing may well be nothing other than a mode of escape from the challenge of Christian living.

(iii) The false teacher is a disturber of the peace. He is instinctively competitive; he is suspicious of all who differ from him; when he cannot win in an argument he hurls insults at his opponent's theological position, and even at his character; in any argument the accent of his voice is bitterness and not love. He has never learned to speak the truth in love. The source of his bitterness is the exaltation of self; for his tendency is to regard any difference from or any criticism of his views as a personal insult.

(iv) The false teacher commercializes religion. He is out for profit. He looks on his teaching and preaching, not as a vocation, but as a career. One thing is certain--there is no place for careerists in the ministry of any Church. The Pastorals are quite clear that the labourer is worthy of his hire; but the motive of his work must be public service and not private gain. His passion is, not to get, but to spend and be spent in the service of Christ and of his fellow-men.

THE CROWN OF CONTENT ( 1 Timothy 6:6-8 )

6:6-8 And in truth godliness with contentment is great gain. We brought nothing into the world, and it is quite clear that we cannot take anything out of it either; but if we have food and shelter, we shall be content with them.

The word here used for contentment is autarkeia (0841). This was one of the great watchwords of the Stoic philosophers. By it they meant a complete self-sufficiency. They meant a frame of mind which was completely independent of all outward things, and which carried the secret of happiness within itself.

Contentment never comes from the possession of external things. As George Herbert wrote:

"For he that needs five thousand pounds to live

Is full as poor as he that needs but five."

Contentment comes from an inward attitude to life. In the Third part of Henry the Sixth, Shakespeare draws a picture of the king wandering in the country places unknown. He meets two gamekeepers and tells them that he is a king. One of them asks him:

"But, if thou be a king, where is thy crown?" And the king gives a great answer:

"My crown is in my heart, not on my head;

Not deck'd with diamonds and Indian stones,

Nor to be seen; my crown is call'd content--

A crown it is that seldom kings enjoy."

Long ago the Greek philosophers had gripped the right end of the matter. Epicurus said of himself: "To whom little is not enough nothing is enough. Give me a barley cake and a glass of water and I am ready to rival Zeus for happiness." And when someone asked him for the secret of happiness, his answer was: "Add not to a man's possessions but take away from his desires."

The great men have always been content with little. One of the sayings of the Jewish Rabbis was: "Who is rich? He that is contented with his lot." Walter Lock quotes the kind of training on which a Jewish Rabbi engaged and the kind of life he lived: "This is the path of the Law. A morsel with salt shalt thou eat, thou shalt drink also water by measure, and shalt sleep upon the ground and live a life of trouble while thou toilest in the Law. If thou doest this, happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee --, happy shalt thou be in this world and it shall be well with thee in the world to come." The Rabbi had to learn to be content with enough. E. F. Brown quotes a passage from the great preacher Lacordaire: "The rock of our present day is that no one knows how to live upon little. The great men of antiquity were generally poor.... It always seems to me that the retrenchment of useless expenditure, the laying aside of what one may call the relatively necessary, is the high road to Christian disentanglement of heart, just as it was to that of ancient vigour. The mind that has learned to appreciate the moral beauty of life, both as regards God and men, can scarcely be greatly moved by any outward reverse of fortune; and what our age wants most is the sight of a man, who might possess everything, being yet willingly contented with little. For my own part, humanly speaking, I wish for nothing. A great soul in a small house is the idea which has touched me more than any other."

It is not that Christianity pleads for poverty. There is no special virtue in being poor, or in having a constant struggle to make ends meet. But it does plead for two things.

It pleads for the realization that it is never in the power of things to bring happiness. E. K. Simpson says: "Many a millionaire, after choking his soul with gold-dust, has died from melancholia." Happiness always comes from personal relationships. All the things in the world will not make a man happy if he knows neither friendship nor love. The Christian knows that the secret of happiness lies, not in things, but in people.

It pleads for concentration upon the things which are permanent. We brought nothing into the world and we cannot take anything out of it. The wise men of every age and faith have known this. "You cannot," said Seneca, "take anything more out of the world than you brought into it." The poet of the Greek anthology had it: "Naked I set foot on the earth; naked I shall go below the earth." The Spanish proverb grimly puts it: "There are no pockets in a shroud." E. K. Simpson comments: "Whatever a man amasses by the way is in the nature of luggage, no part of his truest personality, but something he leaves behind at the toll-bar of death."

Two things alone a man can take to God. He can, and must, take himself; and therefore his great task is to build up a self he can take without shame to God. He can, and must, take that relationship with God into which he has entered in the days of his life. We have already seen that the secret of happiness lies in personal relationships, and the greatest of all personal relationships is the relationship to God. And the supreme thing that a man can take with him is the utter conviction that he goes to One who is the friend and lover of his soul.

Content comes when we escape the servitude to things, when we find our wealth in the love and the fellowship of men, and when we realize that our most precious possession is our friendship with God, made possible through Jesus Christ.

THE PERIL OF THE LOVE OF MONEY ( 1 Timothy 6:9-10 )

6:9-10 Those who wish to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many senseless and harmful desires for the forbidden things, desires which swamp men in a sea of ruin and total loss in time and in eternity. For the love of money is a root from which all evils spring; and some, in their reaching out after it, have been sadly led astray, and have transfixed themselves with many pains.

Here is one of the most misquoted sayings in the Bible. Scripture does not say that money is the root of all evil; it says that the love of money is the root of all evil. This is a truth of which the great classical thinkers were as conscious as the Christian teachers. "Love of money," said Democritus, "is the metropolis of all evils." Seneca speaks of "the desire for that which does not belong to us, from which every evil of the mind springs." "The love of money," said Phocylides, "is the mother of all evils." Philo spoke of "love of money which is the starting-place of the greatest transgressions of the Law." Athenaeus quotes a saying: "The belly's pleasure is the beginning and root of all evil."

Money in itself is neither good nor bad; but the love of it may lead to evil. With it a man may selfishly serve his own desires; with it he may answer the cry of his neighbours need. With it he may facilitate the path of wrong-doing; with it he may make it easier for someone else to live as God meant him to do. Money is not itself an evil, but it is a great responsibility. It is powerful to good and powerful to evil. What then are the special dangers involved in the love of money?

(i) The desire for money tends to be a thirst which is insatiable. There was a Roman proverbial saying that wealth is like sea-water; so far from quenching a man's thirst, it intensifies it. The more he gets, the more he wants.

(ii) The desire for wealth is founded on an illusion. It is founded on the desire for security; but wealth cannot buy security. It cannot buy health, nor real love; and it cannot preserve from sorrow and from death. The security which is founded on material things is foredoomed to failure.

(iii) The desire for money tends to make a man selfish. If he is driven by the desire for wealth, it is nothing to him that someone has to lose in order that he may gain. The desire for wealth fixes a man's thoughts upon himself, and others become merely means or obstacles in the path to his own enrichment. True, that need not happen; but in fact it often does.

(iv) Although the desire for wealth is based on the desire for security, it ends in nothing but anxiety. The more a man has to keep, the more he has to lose and, the tendency is for him to be haunted by the risk of loss. There is an old fable about a peasant who rendered a great service to a king who rewarded him with a gift of much money. For a time the man was thrilled, but the day came when he begged the king to take back his gift, for into his life had entered the hitherto unknown worry that he might lose what he had. John Bunyan was right:

"He that is down needs fear no fall,

He that is low, no pride;

He that is humble ever shall

Have God to be his guide.

I am content with what I have,

Little be it or much;

And, Lord, contentment still I crave,

Because Thou savest such.

Fullness to such a burden is

That go on pilgrimage;

Here little, and hereafter bliss,

Is best from age to age."

(v) The love of money may easily lead a man into wrong ways of getting it, and therefore, in the end, into pain and remorse. That is true even physically. He may so drive his body in his passion to get, that he ruins his health. He may discover too late what damage his desire has done to others and be saddled with remorse.

To seek to be independent and prudently to provide for the future is a Christian duty; but to make the love of money the driving-force of life cannot ever be anything other than the most perilous of sins.

CHALLENGE TO TIMOTHY ( 1 Timothy 6:11-16 )

6:11-16 But you, O man of God, flee from these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith; lay hold on eternal life, to which you are called, now that you have witnessed a noble profession of your faith in the presence of many witnesses. I charge you in the sight of God, who makes all things alive, and in the sight of Christ Jesus, who, in the days of Pontius Pilate, witnessed his noble confession, that you keep the commandment, that you should be without spot and without blame, until the day when our Lord Jesus Christ appears, that appearance which in his own good times the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and the Lord of lords will show, he who alone possesses immortality, he who dwells in the light that no man can approach, he whom no man has seen or ever can see, to whom be honour and everlasting power. Amen.

The letter comes to an end with a tremendous challenge to Timothy, a challenge all the greater because of the deliberate sonorous nobility of the words in which it is clothed.

Right at the outset Timothy is put upon his mettle. He is addressed as man of God. That is one of the great Old Testament titles. It is a title given to Moses. Deuteronomy 33:1 speaks of "Moses, the man of God." The title of Psalms 90:1-17 is, "A Prayer of Moses the man of God." It is a title of the prophets and the messengers of God. God's messenger to Eli is a man of God ( 1 Samuel 2:27). Samuel is described as a man of God ( 1 Samuel 9:6). Shemaiah, God's messenger to Rehoboam, is a man of God ( 1 Kings 12:22). John Bunyan in Pilgrim's Progress calls Great-Grace "God's Champion."

Here is a title of honour. When the charge is given to Timothy, he is not reminded of his own weakness and sin, which might well have reduced him to pessimistic despair; rather he is challenged by the honour which is his, of being God's man. It is the Christian way, not to depress a man by branding him as a lost and helpless sinner, but rather to uplift him by summoning him to be what he has got it in him to be. The Christian way is not to fling a man's humiliating past in his face, but to set before him the splendour of his potential future. The very fact that Timothy was addressed as "Man of God" would make him square his shoulders and throw his head back as one who has received his commission from the King.

The virtues and noble qualities set before Timothy are not just heaped haphazardly together. There is an order in them. First, there comes "righteousness," dikaiosune ( G1343) . This is defined as "giving both to men and to God their due." It is the most comprehensive of the virtues; the righteous man is he who does his duty to God and to his fellow-men.

Second, there comes a group of three virtues which look towards God. Godliness, eusebeia ( G2150) , is the reverence of the man who never ceases to be aware that all life is lived in the presence of God. Faith, pistis ( G4102) , here means fidelity, and is the virtue of the man who, through all the chances and the changes of life, down even to the gates of death, is loyal to God. Love, agape ( G26) , is the virtue of the man who, even if he tried, could not forget what God has done for him nor the love of God to men.

Third, there comes the virtue which looks to the conduct of life. It is hupomone ( G5281) , The King James Version translates this patience; but hupomone ( G5281) never means the spirit which sits with folded hands and simply bears things, letting the experiences of life flow like a tide over it. It is victorious endurance. "It is unswerving constancy to faith and piety in spite of adversity and suffering." It is the virtue which does not so much accept the experiences of life as conquers them.

Fourthly, there comes the virtue which looks to men. The Greek word is paupatheia. It is translated gentleness but is really untranslatable. It describes the spirit which never blazes into anger for its own wrongs but can be devastatingly angry for the wrongs of others. It describes the spirit which knows how to forgive and yet knows how to wage the battle of righteousness. It describes the spirit which walks at once in humility and yet in pride of its high calling from God. It describes the virtue by which at all times a man is enabled rightly to treat his fellow-men and rightly to regard himself.

MEMORIES WHICH INSPIRE ( 1 Timothy 6:11-16 continued)

As Timothy is challenged to the task of the future, he is inspired with the memories of the past.

(i) He is to remember his baptism and the vows he took there. In the circumstances of the early Church, baptism was inevitably adult baptism, for men were coming straight from heathenism to Christ. It was confession of faith and witness to all men that the baptised person had taken Jesus Christ as Saviour, Master and Lord. The earliest of all Christian confessions was the simple creed: "Jesus Christ is Lord" ( Romans 10:9; Php_2:11 ). But it has been suggested that behind these words to Timothy lies a confession of faith which said: "I believe in God the Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, and in Christ Jesus who suffered under Pontius Pilate and will return to judge; I believe in the Resurrection from the dead and in the life immortal." It may well have been a creed like that to which Timothy gave his allegiance. So, then, first of all, he is reminded that he is a man who has given his pledge. The Christian is first and foremost a man who has pledged himself to Jesus Christ.

(ii) He is to remember that he has made the same confession of his faith as Jesus did. When Jesus stood before Pilate, Pilate said: "Are you the King of the Jews?" and Jesus answered: "You have said so" ( Luke 23:3). Jesus had witnessed that he was a King; and Timothy always had witnessed to the lordship of Christ. When the Christian confesses his faith, he does what his Master has already done; when he suffers for his faith, he undergoes what his Master has already undergone. When we are engaged on some great enterprise, we can say: "Brothers, we are treading where the saints have trod," but when we confess our faith before men, we can say even more; we can say: "I stand with Christ"; and surely this must lift up our hearts and inspire our lives.

(iii) He is to remember that Christ comes again. He is to remember that his life and work must be made fit for him to see. The Christian is not working to satisfy men; he is working to satisfy Christ. The question he must always ask himself is not: "Is this good enough to pass the judgment of men?" but: "Is it good enough to win the approval of Christ?"

(iv) Above all he is to remember God. And what a memory that is! He is to remember the One who is King of every king and Lord of every lord; the One who possesses the gift of life eternal to give to men; the One whose holiness and majesty are such that no man can ever dare look upon them. The Christian must ever remember God and say: "If God be for us, who can be against us?"

ADVICE TO THE RICH ( 1 Timothy 6:17-19 )

6:17-19 Charge those who are rich in this world's goods not to be proud, and not set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God who gives them all things richly to enjoy. Charge them to do good; to find their wealth in noble deeds; to be ready to share all that they have; to be men who never forget that they are members of a fellowship; to lay up for themselves the treasure of a fine foundation for the world to come. that they may lay hold on real life.

Sometimes we think of the early Church as composed entirely of poor people and slaves. Here we see that even as early as this it had its wealthy members. They are not condemned for being wealthy nor told to give all their wealth away; but they are told what not to do and what to do with it.

Their riches must not make them proud. They must not think themselves better than other people because they have more money than they. Nothing in this world gives any man the right to look down on another, least of all the possession of wealth. They must not set their hopes on wealth. In the chances and the changes of life a man may be wealthy today and a pauper tomorrow; and it is folly to set one's hopes on what can so easily be lost.

They are told that they must use their wealth to do good; that they must ever be ready to share; and that they must remember that the Christian is a member of a fellowship. And they are told that such wise use of wealth will build for them a good foundation in the world to come. As someone put it: "What I kept, I lost; what I gave I have."

There is a famous Jewish Rabbinic story. A man called Monobaz had inherited great wealth, but he was a good, a kindly and a generous man. In time of famine he gave away all his wealth to help the poor. His brothers came to him and said: "Your fathers laid up treasure, and added to the treasure that they had inherited from their fathers, and are you going to waste it all?" He answered: "My fathers laid up treasure below: I have laid it up above. My fathers laid up treasure of Mammon: I have laid up treasure of souls. My fathers laid up treasure for this world: I have laid up treasure for the world to come."

Every time we could give and do not give lessens the wealth laid up for us in the world to come; every time we give increases the riches laid up for us when this life comes to an end.

The teaching of the Christian ethic is, not that wealth is a sin, but that it is a very great responsibility. If a man's wealth ministers to nothing but his own pride and enriches no one but himself, it becomes his ruination, because it impoverishes his soul. But if he uses it to bring help and comfort to others, in becoming poorer, he really becomes richer. In time and in eternity "it is more blessed to give than to receive."

A FAITH TO HAND ON ( 1 Timothy 6:20-21 )

6:20-21 O Timothy, guard the trust that has been entrusted to you. Avoid irreligious empty talking; and the paradoxes of that knowledge which has no right to be called knowledge, which some have professed, and by so doing have missed the target of the faith.

Grace be with you.

It may well be that the name Timothy is here used in the fullness of its meaning. It comes from two words, timan ( G5091) , to honour, and theos ( G2316) , God and literally means he who honours God. It may well be that this concluding passage begins by reminding Timothy of his name and urging him to be true to it.

The passage talks of the trust that has been entrusted to him. The Greek word for trust is paratheke ( G3866) , which literally means a deposit. It is the word for money deposited with a banker or with a friend. When such money was in time demanded back, it was a sacred duty to hand it back entire. Sometimes children were called a paratheke ( G3866) , a sacred trust. If the gods gave a man a child, it was his duty to present that child trained and equipped to the gods.

The Christian faith is like that, something which we received from our forefathers, and which we must pass on to our children. E. F. Brown quotes a famous passage from St. Vincent of Lerins: "What is meant by the deposit? (paratheke, G3866) . That which is committed to thee, not that which is invented by thee; that which thou hast received, not that which thou hast devised; a thing not of wit, but of learning; not of private assumption, but of public tradition; a thing brought to thee, not brought forth of thee; wherein thou must not be an author, but a keeper; not a leader, but a follower. Keep the deposit. Preserve the talent of the Catholic faith safe and undiminished; let that which is committed to thee remain with thee, and that deliver. Thou hast received gold, render gold."

A man does well to remember that his duty is not only to himself, but also to his children and his children's children. If in our day the Church were to become enfeebled; if the Christian ethic were to be more and more submerged in the world; if the Christian faith were to be twisted and distorted; it would not only be we who were the losers, those of generations still to come would be robbed of something infinitely precious. We are not only the possessors but also the trustees of the faith. That which we have received, we must also hand on.

Finally the Pastorals condemn those who, as the King James Version has it, have given themselves to "the oppositions of science falsely so-called." First, we must note that here the word science is used in its original sense; it simply means knowledge (gnosis, G1108) . What is being condemned is a false intellectualism and a false stressing of human knowledge.

But what is meant by oppositions? The Greek word is antitheseis ( G477) . Very much later than this there was a heretic called Marcion who produced a book called The Antitheseis in which he quoted Old Testament texts and set beside them New Testament texts which contradicted them. This might very well mean: "Don't waste your time seeking out contradictions in Scripture. Use the Scriptures to live by and not to argue about." But there are two meanings more probable than that.

(i) The word antithesis ( G477) could mean a controversy; and this might mean: "Avoid controversies; don't get yourself mixed up in useless and bitter arguments." This would be a very relevant bit of advice to a Greek congregation in Ephesus. The Greek had a passion for going to law. He would even go to law with his own brother, just for the pleasure of it. This may well mean, "Don't make the Church a battle-ground of theological arguments and debates. Christianity is not something to argue about, but something to live by."

(ii) The word antithesis ( G477) can mean a rival thesis. This is the most likely meaning, because it suits Jew and Gentile alike. The scholastics in the later days used to argue about questions like: "How many angels can stand on the point of a needle?" The Jewish Rabbis would argue about hair-splitting points of the law for hours and days and even years. The Greeks were the same, only in a still more serious way. There was a school of Greek philosophers, and a very influential school it was, called the Academics. The Academics held that in the case of everything in the realm of human thought, you could by logical argument arrive at precisely opposite conclusions. They therefore concluded that there is no such thing as absolute truth; that always there were two hypotheses of equal weight. They went on to argue that, this being so, the wise man will never make up his mind about anything but will hold himself for ever in a state of suspended judgment. The effect was of course to paralyse all action and to reduce men to complete uncertainty. So Timothy is told: "Don't waste your time in subtle arguments; don't waste your time in 'dialectical fencing.' Don't be too clever to be wise. Listen rather to the unequivocal voice of God than to the subtle disputations of over-clever minds."

So the letter draws to a close with a warning which our own generation needs. Clever argument can never be made a substitute for Christian action. The duty of the Christian is not to sit in a study and weigh arguments but to live the Christian life in the dust and heat of the world. In the end it is not intellectual cleverness, but conduct and character which count.

Then comes the closing blessing--"Grace be with you." The letter ends with the beauty of the grace of God.

-Barclay's Daily Study Bible (NT)



D. Guthrie, The Pastoral Epistles (TC; E)

W. Lock, The Pastoral Epistles (ICC; G)

E. F. Scott, The Pastoral Epistles (MC; E)

E. K. Simpson, The Pastoral Epistles


CGT: Cambridge Greek Testament

ICC: International Critical Commentary

MC: Moffatt Commentary

TC: Tyndale Commentary

E: English Text

G: Greek Text

-Barclay's Daily Study Bible (NT)

Bibliographical Information
Barclay, William. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 6:10". "William Barclay's Daily Study Bible".​commentaries/​dsb/1-timothy-6.html. 1956-1959.

Gann's Commentary on the Bible

1 Timothy 6:10

1Ti 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.

Bibliographical Information
Gann, Windell. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 6:10". Gann's Commentary on the Bible.​commentaries/​gbc/1-timothy-6.html. 2021.

Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

For the love of money is the root of all evil,.... Of all the evils before mentioned, and of others; not money itself, as silver and gold, which are God's creatures, and his gifts, and may be used to, and answer many good purposes; but the love of it, and not any love of it; for there may be a lawful love of it, and desire after it, so far as it is requisite to the necessaries of life, to answer the calls of Providence, the duties we owe to God and men, to serve the interest of Christ, and do good to fellow creatures and fellow Christians: but it is an immoderate insatiable desire after it, and an inordinate love of it, which is here meant, such as is properly idolatry: as when a man loves it, not only besides, but above God; serves it as if it was God, and places his trust and confidence in it, independent of God, and his providence; such love of it is the source and spring of all iniquity, as above; it was the sin of Judas, and the root of all his iniquity. The phrase is Jewish. So idolatry is said to be עיקר כל עונות, "the root of all iniquities" q; see Hebrews 12:15

which while some coveted after; in a greedy and insatiable way:

they have erred from the faith; the doctrine of faith. Observing that the professors of it are generally poor, they have declined that path, and have not so much as heard the word; and if they have heard and embraced it, yet when persecution arises because of it, they drop their profession of it; or else their minds are so filled with worldly cares, and deceitful riches, that the word is choked, and becomes unprofitable, and by and by, Demas like, they forsake it, having loved this present world.

And pierced themselves through with many sorrows; riches are therefore fitly compared to thorns, which give great trouble and uneasiness, both in getting and keeping them; and oftentimes the reflection upon the unlawful ways and means made use of to obtain them, gives very pungent pain and distress; see Job 20:15. The apostle seem to allude to the Hebrew word בצע, used for a covetous man, which signifies one that pierces, cuts, and wounds, as such an one does both himself and others.

q R. David Kimchi in Isa. xxvii. 9.

Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 6:10". "Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible".​commentaries/​geb/1-timothy-6.html. 1999.

Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible

Excellence of Contentment; Evil of Covetousness. A. D. 64.

      6 But godliness with contentment is great gain.   7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.   8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.   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.   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.   11 But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.   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.

      From the mention of the abuse which some put upon religion, making it to serve their secular advantages, the apostle,

      I. Takes occasion to show the excellency of contentment and the evil of covetousness.

      1. The excellency of contentment, 1 Timothy 6:6-8; 1 Timothy 6:6-8. Some account Christianity an advantageous profession for this world. In the sense they mean this is false; yet it is undoubtedly true that, though Christianity is the worst trade, it is the best calling in the world. Those that make a trade of it, merely to serve their turn for this world, will be disappointed, and find it a sorry trade; but those that mind it as their calling, and make a business of it, will find it a gainful calling, for it has the promise of the life that now is, as well as of that which is to come.

      (1.) The truth he lays down is that godliness with contentment is great gain. Some read it, godliness with a competency; that is, if a man have but a little in this world, yet, if he have but enough to carry him through it, he needs desire no more, his godliness with that will be his great gain. For a little which a righteous man has is better than the riches of many wicked,Psalms 37:16. We read it, godliness with contentment; godliness is itself great gain, it is profitable to all things; and, wherever there is true godliness, there will be contentment; but those have arrived at the highest pitch of contentment with their godliness are certainly the easiest happiest people in this world. Godliness with contentment, that is, Christian contentment (content must come from principles of godliness) is great gain; it is all the wealth in the world. He that is godly is sure to be happy in another world; and if withal he do by contentment accommodate himself to his condition in this world he has enough. Here we have, [1.] A Christian's gain; it is godliness with contentment, this is the true way to gain, yea, it is gain itself. [2.] A Christian's gain is great: it is not like the little gain of worldlings, who are so fond of a little worldly advantage. [3.] Godliness is ever accompanied with contentment in a great or less degree; all truly godly people have learned with Paul, in whatever state they are, to be therewith content, Philippians 4:11. They are content with what God allots for them, well knowing that this is best for them. Let us all then endeavour after godliness with contentment.

      (2.) The reason he gives for it is, For we brought nothing with us into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out,1 Timothy 6:7; 1 Timothy 6:7. This is a reason why we should be content with a little. [1.] Because we can challenge nothing as a debt that is due to us, for we came naked into the world. Whatever we have had since, we are obliged to the providence of God for it; but he that gave may take what and when he pleases. We had our beings, our bodies, our lives (which are more than meat, and which are more than raiment), when we came into the world, though we came naked, and brought nothing with us; may we not then be content while our beings and lives are continued to us, though we have not every thing we would have? We brought nothing with us into this world, and yet God provided for us, care was taken of us, we have been fed all our lives long unto this day; and therefore, when we are reduced to the greatest straits, we cannot be poorer than when we came into this world, and yet then we were provided for; therefore let us trust in God for the remaining part of our pilgrimage. [2.] We shall carry nothing with us out of this world. A shroud, a coffin, and a grave, are all that the richest man in the world can have from his thousands. Therefore why should we covet much? Why should we not be content with a little, because, how much soever we have, we must leave it behind us? Ecclesiastes 5:15; Ecclesiastes 5:16.

      (3.) Hence he infers, having food and raiment, let us be therewith content,1 Timothy 6:8; 1 Timothy 6:8. Food and a covering, including habitation as well as raiment. Observe, If God give us the necessary supports of life, we ought to be content therewith, though we have not the ornaments and delights of it. If nature should be content with a little, grace should be content with less; though we have not dainty food, though we have not costly raiment, if we have but food and raiment convenient for us we ought to be content. This was Agur's prayer: Give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me,Proverbs 30:8. Here we see, [1.] The folly of placing our happiness in these things, when we did not bring any thing into this world with us, and we can carry nothing out. What will worldlings do when death shall strip them of their happiness and portion, and they must take an everlasting farewell of all these things, on which they have so much doted? They may say with poor Micah, You have taken away my gods; and what have I more?Judges 18:24. [2.] The necessaries of life are the hounds of a true Christian's desire, and with these he will endeavour to be content; his desires are not insatiable; no, a little, a few comforts of this life, will serve him, and these may hope to enjoy: Having food and raiment.

      2. The evil of covetousness. Those that will be rich (that set their hearts upon the wealth of this world, and are resolved right or wrong, they will have it), fall into temptation and a snare,1 Timothy 6:9; 1 Timothy 6:9. It is not said, those that are rich, but those that will be rich, that is, that place their happiness in worldly wealth, that covet it inordinately, and are eager and violent in the pursuit of it. Those that are such fall into temptation and a snare, unavoidably; for, when the devil sees which way their lusts carry them, he will soon bait his hook accordingly. He knew how fond Achan would be of a wedge of gold, and therefore laid that before him. They fall into many foolish and hurtful lusts. Observe,

      (1.) The apostle supposes that, [1.] Some will be rich; that is, they are resolved upon it, nothing short of a great abundance will satisfy. [2.] Such will not be safe nor innocent, for they will be in danger of ruining themselves for ever; they fall into temptation, and a snare, c. [3.] Worldly lusts are foolish and hurtful, for they drown men in destruction and perdition. [4.] It is good for us to consider the mischievousness of worldly fleshly lusts. They are foolish, and therefore we should be ashamed of them, hurtful, and therefore we should be afraid of them, especially considering to what degree they are hurtful, for they drown men in destruction and perdition.

      (2.) The apostle affirms that the love of money is the root of all evil,1 Timothy 6:10; 1 Timothy 6:10. What sins will not men be drawn to by the love of money? Particularly this was at the bottom of the apostasy of many from the faith of Christ; while they coveted money, they erred from the faith, they quitted their Christianity, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. Observe, [1.] What is the root of all evil; the love of money: people may have money, and yet not love it; but, if they love it inordinately, it will push them on to all evil. [2.] Covetous persons will quit the faith, if that be the way to get money: Which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith. Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world,2 Timothy 4:10. For the world was dearer to him than Christianity. Observe, Those that err from the faith pierce themselves with many sorrows; those that depart from God do but treasure up sorrows for themselves.

      II. Hence he takes occasion to caution Timothy, and to counsel him to keep in the way of God and his duty, and particularly to fulfil the trust reposed in him as a minister. He addresses himself to him as a man of God. Ministers are men of God, and ought to conduct themselves accordingly in every thing; they are men employed for God, devoted to his honour more immediately. The prophets under the Old Testament were called men of God. 1. He charges Timothy to take heed of the love of money, which had been so pernicious to many: Flee these things. It ill becomes any men, but especially men of God, to set their hearts upon the things of this world; men of God should be taken up with the things of God. 2. To arm him against the love of the world, he directs him to follow that which is good. Follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness: righteousness in his conversation towards men, godliness towards God, faith and love as living principles, to support him and carry him on in the practice both of righteousness and godliness. Those that follow after righteousness and godliness, from a principle of faith and love, have need to put on patience and meekness--patience to bear both the rebukes of Providence and the reproaches of men, and meekness wherewith to instruct gainsayers and pass by the affronts and injuries that are done us. Observe, It is not enough that men of God flee these things, but they must follow after what is directly contrary thereto. Further, What excellent persons men of God are who follow after righteousness! They are the excellent of the earth, and, being acceptable to God, they should be approved of men. 3. He exhorts him to do the part of a soldier: Fight the good fight of faith. Note, Those who will get to heaven must fight their way thither. There must be a conflict with corruption and temptations, and the opposition of the powers of darkness. Observe, It is a good fight, it is a good cause, and it will have a good issue. It is the fight of faith; we do not war after the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, 2 Corinthians 10:3; 2 Corinthians 10:4. He exhorts him to lay hold on eternal life. Observe, (1.) Eternal life is the crown proposed to us, for our encouragement to war, and to fight the good fight of faith, the good warfare. (2.) This we must lay hold on, as those that are afraid of coming short of it and losing it. Lay hold, and take heed of losing your hold. Hold fast that which thou hast, that no man take thy crown,Revelation 3:11. (3.) We are called to the fight, and to lay hold on eternal life. (4.) The profession Timothy and all faithful ministers make before many witnesses is a good profession; for they profess and engage to fight the good fight of faith, and to lay hold on eternal life; their calling and their own profession oblige them to this.

Bibliographical Information
Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on 1 Timothy 6:10". "Henry's Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible".​commentaries/​mhm/1-timothy-6.html. 1706.

Kelly Commentary on Books of the Bible

1 Timothy 1:1-20. We enter now on the confidential communications of the apostle to some of his fellow-labourers, and tonight on the epistles to Timothy. The two have much in common, but they have also not a little that is distinct. The first epistle is characterized by laying down the order which becomes both individuals and the church of God viewed as His house. We shall find, I trust, how remarkably His care for godly moral order, which descends into the family, into the relations of children and parents, of servants and masters, of man and woman, is also bound up with some of the main doctrines of the epistle. At the same time, while this pertains more particularly to the first epistle, there is a striking expression which meets us on the very threshold, and belongs not merely to these two epistles, but also to that addressed to Titus. God is not here regarded as our Father, but as our Saviour God. We have in harmony with this none of the special privileges of the family of God. The relationships before us wear another character. Thus, we have nothing at all about the body of Christ; we hear nowhere again of the bride of the Lamb; but what tallies with God as a Saviour. It is not Christ our Saviour, though, of course, He is so; but there is broader truth pressed even of God our Saviour, and the Lord Jesus Christ.

This prepares for much that we shall find. God, as a Saviour God, is certainly in contrast with His dealings under law, or in government. Nevertheless it takes in also His preserving care, which extends far beyond believers, though very especially toward believers. It embraces also that which is much deeper than presidential care, even the salvation which is in course of accomplishment through Christ. I do not say accomplished; because salvation here, as elsewhere, must not be limited simply to redemption, but goes out into the results of that mighty work on the cross, whereby the soul is kept all the way through the wilderness, and the body of humiliation changed into the likeness of the Lord's glorious body.

Accordingly, Paul introduces himself as the "apostle of Jesus Christ by commandment of God." Authority has a large place in these epistles; thence the apostle shows it was not his writing to his child Timothy in this respect without the Lord. It was not merely love, it was not simply that the Spirit of God empowered him to meet need, but he styles himself in it the "apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Christ Jesus, our hope; to Timothy, my true child in faith: grace, mercy, and peace," etc.

Another feature of these epistles meets us in the place which is given to mercy. I do not merely now refer to what has been often observed the introduction; but we shall find that mercy is wrought into the tissues and substance of the epistle. Mercy supposes the need, the constant wants, the difficulties, the dangers, of the saints of God. It supposes also that God is acting in love, and in full view of these difficulties. Hence we find that, while there is jealous care, there is also a remarkable tenderness, which appears every now and then, in these epistles; and this is just and beautiful in its season. The apostle was drawing toward the close of his career, and (although all be inspired, and he was a rare jewel even among the apostles) there is, I am persuaded, an evidence of a tone more suitable to the growing trials and necessities of the saints of God; a tenderness towards those that were faithful and tried, that is far more manifest here than in the earlier epistles. I do not say that all was not in its due time and measure, but we can well understand it. As a faithful servant, he had been for many years not only leading on, but sharing too the hardest of the fight, and had gone through perils such as had left many of his companions behind. Shame, afflictions, persecutions, the enticements of Satan too, had drawn away some that had been in the foremost ranks of old. He was now left with comparatively few of the familiar faces of those he had loved and laboured with so long.

We can easily understand, then, how calculated such circumstances were to draw out the expression of a love that was always there, but that would be in a more comely and suitable manner expressed at such a conjuncture of circumstances. This we shall find in these epistles. He writes to Timothy as his genuine child; it is not at all the usual way in the earlier epistles. It was his Bethany, Here and now was the opening of that long pent-up heart. At the same time he was also laying an important commission on one that was raised up of God for the purpose, who was comparatively young, who would soon have to fight his way without the sympathy and the countenance of one that had been so blest to him. Hence he says here," Grace, mercy, and peace." He felt his need, but certainly the mercy was not lacking in God, but rich and ready to flow. "Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord. As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when. I went into Macedonia." We see the love that even an apostle adopts towards his child in faith. It was not at all a peremptory word, though full of earnest desire for the work of the Lord. He wishes Timothy to stay, "that thou mightest charge some not to be teachers of other doctrine, nor to give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than God's administration* which is in faith."

*The true reading, represented by (Cod. Sin.) and all other uncials save the Clermont, and almost if not all the cursive manuscripts, is οἰκονομίαν , dispensation, in the sense of administration, or stewardship. Even Matthaei joins the rest of the critics, with the Complutensian Polyglott, against the received οἰκοδομίαν , which he considers a mere blunder of δ for ν by Erasmus's printers. But this does not account for the Latin, Syriac (save later), Gothic, etc.; even supposing δ was the slip of the scribe. It is evident that "edification" is not the point in question, but the right order of the house of God, and this in faith. Internal evidence is thus as strong as external as to the true reading.

Then he explains what the nature of this charge was. Often, I fear, "commandment" gives the English reader a wrong impression. I do not say that "commandment" is not correct, but that so naturally do people in Christendom turn to what we call the Ten Commandments, or ten words of the law, that whenever the word "commandment" occurs, you may expect many, even children of God, who might and ought to know better, at once unconsciously turning back to the law. But so far was this from being the writer's thought here, that we shall find him in a moment deprecating most strongly that whole system of idea as a misuse of the law. What the apostle means by the commandment is the charge that he was laying on his child in the faith and fellow-labourer Timothy. The end of the charge or commandment "is love out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned." It was, in point of fact, not merely that charge that he was giving him, but the charge touched the truth of the gospel; it was the care of the faith, jealousy for the revelation of God Himself, our Saviour God in Christ. The end of all this was "love, and a good conscience, and faith unfeigned." And so then, as remarked already, far from leaving the smallest reason for any perversely to confound this with the law, the apostle instantly turns to that perverting of the law, which is so natural to the heart of man. "From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling; desiring to be law-teachers; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm;" and thereupon he parenthetically, as disposing of this matter, shows what the lawful use of the law is. They were not to suppose that he meant that God could make anything without a real use. As there is no creature of God that has not its value, so certainly the law of God has its right field of application, and its own proper use. Thus he vindicates God in what He has given, as well as afterwards in what He has made, and nowhere so much as in this epistle do we find this.

At the same time it is evident that he consigns the law to what we may call a comparatively negative use. The use of the law is to condemn, to kill, to deal with evil. This never could be the full expression of God. It does keep up a witness to God's hatred of evil no doubt; those that are presumptuous it leaves without excuse. But a Christian, who takes up the law as the rule of his own life, must in the very first instance give up his place as being in Christ, and abandon that righteousness of God which he is made in Him. The law was not enacted for the Christian. It is not, of course, that any Christian deliberately intends such folly; but this is really what the error implies. The very principle of taking the law for himself is the abandonment (without knowing or intending it) of all his blessing in Christ. To apply it thus is ignorance of the mind of God It was never designed for such a purpose. But there remains the lawful use of the law. It was made not for the righteous, but for an unrighteous man. Clearly what Satan here aimed at was to put the saints under the law. But the apostle will not hear of it, treating it as simply condemnatory of the bad, and in no way either the power or the rule of what is good for the believer. "Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for lawless and disobedient, for ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for smiters of fathers and smiters of mothers, for manslayers, for whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine."

A weighty sentence, and eminently characteristic also of these epistles. The time was appropriate for it. The saints (at Ephesus especially) had heard a great deal of heavenly truth. There was also an effort, as we see, to correct what was supposed to be a defect, in those that were living on heavenly fare, by supplementing their truth with the law. But this is all wrong, cries the apostle. It is an unwitting denial not only of Christians, but even of your place as righteous men. Very different from this is the true and divine principle. But "sound doctrine" is brought in here; and we shall see how very beautifully this is applied in the epistle at a later point. For a moment he just touches on the wholesome thought, then turns to a higher one. There is in Christ that which lifts entirely out of nature, and puts one before God according to all that is in his heart his counsels of glory for us in Christ. In fact, immediately after this he calls what he preached the "gospel of the glory" ("the glorious gospel," as it is styled in our version,) "of the blessed God." "According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust." He takes great pains to show that no glory that is revealed in Christ, no blessedness in our total clearance from flesh, no setting of the believer free before God in Christ Jesus, impairs, but, on the contrary, gives importance to "sound doctrine."

By "sound doctrine" we shall find that he brings in the nicest care for the least relations of this life, as flowing from the grace and truth of God. This is the true guard against an abuse of heavenly truth; not putting persons under law, which is inevitable bondage and condemnation, that brings no glory to God, nor power or holiness to the man. But at the same time heavenly truth, so far from being inconsistent, never shines so much as when it is seen in the smallest details of walk in the home, in the family, in the ordinary occupation, in the bearing and tone of a man in his life day by day. It is not merely in the assembly; neither is it in worship only; it is not certainly in ministerial work alone, but in the quiet home. The relationship of a servant to his master gives a blessed opportunity in its place for showing out what the truth of the glory is to faith, and what the strength of the grace which is come to man in Christ the Lord. This is what we shall find in these epistles to Timothy that the apostle combines in his own wonderful way his reference to ordinary duty, and even enters into the smallest matters of this life, according to the gospel of the glory of the blessed God. He refers to his own case; for he was so much the better a preacher of the gospel, because he so deeply felt himself an object of the grace of God, who revealed it in Christ to him. What can be conceived more remarkably characteristic of the man? The bearing of the passage is therefore intensely personal and practical. "And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, appointing me unto ministry." He does not forget this, but he takes care to assert another and a far nearer and more immediate want "who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and insolent: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus."

This accordingly brings out a statement of the gospel: "Faithful is the word, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy." It is always mercy, as may be observed. It is not so much a question of righteousness; justification is not here prominent, as in other epistles. "I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all long-suffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting." This draws out his ascription of praise and thanksgiving to the Lord; and then he repeats the words of the fifth verse: "This charge I commit unto thee." It is not the law, nor any supposed adaptation of it, to direct the path of those who receive the gospel. "This charge," he maintains, is the commandment of our Saviour God. It is that which He is sending out now, and nothing else. "This charge I commit to thee, child Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou mightest war the good warfare; holding faith, and a good conscience, which some having put away, concerning, faith have made shipwreck."

There again we find the same mingling of the faith and good conscience as we had earlier. Some having put away, not the faith, but a good conscience, made shipwreck of the faith. Thus, no matter what you may hold or appear to delight in, abandoning jealousy over your ways, giving up self-judgment in the great or small matters which each day brings before us, is fatal. It may be a very little sin that is allowed, but this, where it is unjudged in God's sight, becomes the beginning of a very great evil. Having put away a good conscience, their ship no longer answers the helm, and as to faith they make shipwreck: "of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may be instructed not to blaspheme." Satan's power is regarded and really is in the outside world. The apostle had delivered these men to him. The power to torment and harass the soul with fears does not belong to the house of God, where, as we shall find, His presence is known, and this is incompatible with fear, with doubt, with question of acceptance and of blessing in His sight. The apostle had given up to the enemy these men, who had abandoned all that was holy, not only in practice, but also afterwards, as a consequence, in faith. They were consigned to Satan, not necessarily to be lost surely not; but that they might be so troubled, by proving what the power of Satan is by the flesh, and in the world, that they might be thus brought back broken in all their bones, and glad to find a refuge again in the house of God. Better surely not to need such discipline; but, if we do need it, how precious to know that God turns it to account in His grace, that they might be thoroughly dealt with and exercised in the conscience!

In the next chapter (1 Timothy 2:1-15) the apostle carries on his care as to what was becoming. This, you will find, is a main topic of the epistle. It is not merely instruction for saints, or conversion of sinners, but also the comeliness that belongs to the saints of God their right attitude toward those without as well as those within. In it we begin with what is toward those in authority, that are without. "I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and givings of thanks, be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in eminence; that we may pass a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and gravity." May it not be a question whether we are sufficiently careful and exercised in heart, as to that which becomes us in this respect? Do we really enter on our due place of intercession, and exercise that which becomes us before God, as having so blessed a function the mind of God in this world, and care for those that seem to be outside our reach? But in truth to stand in this world in known and near relationship with a Saviour God, with One that we know, at once brings before us also those that are outside. Christianity fosters no spirit of harsh: unruly independence. And what then becomes us in respect of them? Prayer, intercession, even for the highest, let them be kings or in eminence; they need it most. Nothing but the strong sense of the infinite blessing of the place that grace has given us could lead to or keep up such prayer. But sometimes we are apt to settle down in the enjoyment of the grace, without reflecting on that which becomes us as to those outside it. From pre-occupation within, how often we forget those without!

But the reason goes deeper. "For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; who desires that all men should be saved:" speaking now of His gracious willingness. Not His counsels but His nature rises before us. We must be blind if we fail to see that a great point in these epistles is the good and loving nature of God, that would have us look at all men without exception. It is another thine, how far the counsels of God work, how far the effectual work of His grace is applied; but nothing alters God's nature. And this is true both in the spirit of grace that becomes the saints, and also in their zealous care for the glory of God. Hence he says: "There is one God, and one mediator between God and men." This is always the ground and character of the First and Second of Timothy. It is not the Father and His family; it is God and man. And it is not merely God as He once dealt with Israel, for then this Mediator was not. There was a promise, but the Mediator of grace was not come. But now, apart from the heavenly relations that are ours, and much that we know and enjoy by the Holy Ghost in our hearts here below, there is this that needs to be looked after and maintained, that is, the public character if we may so speak of the Christian, and that which belongs to him thus broadly before men. It is the testimony of God as a Saviour God, of a God that has to do with men. Accordingly He has revealed Himself in a Mediator. Thus he speaks of Him: "There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all, the testimony in its own season. Whereunto I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not), a teacher of Gentiles in faith and truth."

His general exhortation is pursued, but still in view of the due and decent outward order, of that which met the eye even of an unconverted person. "I will therefore that the men" that is, not women "that the men pray in every place, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and disputing." There are occasions and places where it would be wholly unsuitable for women to speak, but as to men they pray everywhere. There is no place where it is not in season, but let it be "without wrath and disputing." or "reasoning." Either would be altogether opposed to the spirit of prayer. Prayer is the expression of dependence on God; and wrangling on the one hand, and all angry feeling on the other, even supposing it might have some righteousness about it, still are unsuitable to prayer. Thus, what may have its place may really be uncomely in drawing near to God. A spirit of reasoning would be quite as out of place.

But with regard to woman he says, "In like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in orderly guise, with modesty and sobriety; not with plaits and gold, or pearls, or costly array." It does not matter what may be the particular taste and habits of the day or of the country, the Christian woman, as much as the Christian man, ought to be above the age, and unlike the world. And indeed it is this very want that he here takes occasion to connect with Christianity itself in its outward order before man; so that we may truly desire that our Saviour God should not lose, as it were, His character in and by His people; for this is the great point that the apostle is so full of in these epistles. Such is the way in which a woman can contribute to a right and godly testimony as well as a man.

But he pursues it a little more. He says, "Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man." In truth he really goes somewhat beyond this. A woman might say, "I do not usurp authority; I only exercise it." But this precisely is what is wrong. It is forbidden to be exercised. Nothing therefore can be more exclusive. It does not matter, if the man may be weak and the woman strong; it would have been better they had thought of this before they became husband and wife. But even thus no excuse avails; the woman is not to exercise authority over the man; nor (need I add?) in any other relationship. For this he traces things to their roots. "Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being quite deceived was in transgression." That is, he decides things with that marvellous power which God gave him beyond any of the other apostles of tracking the stream to its source, both in man and to God; and this ruling of the case he deduces from the unquestionable facts of the beginning of divine history as to the man and woman. The man was not deceived, in a certain sense: so much the worse; he was a bold sinner. The woman was weak and misled by the serpent; the man deliberately did what he did with his eyes open. Adam sinned against God knowingly. Of course it was dreadful and ruinous; nevertheless this shows the difference in their character from the outset. Men as a class are not so liable to be deceived as woman She is more open to be taken in by appearance. The man may be ruder and worse bolder in his sin, but still the Lord remembers this even to the last. At the same time the apostle mingles this with that which is the lot of women here below: "But she shall be preserved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety." It is not merely if "she," but if "they" continue. How serious is the word for both man and woman! In the government of God He mingles the most solemn things with that which is the most thoroughly personal, showing how He would have the conscience exercised, and jealous care even on such a matter as this. I do not agree with those who refer the childbearing to the Incarnation.

And now he comes (1 Timothy 3:1-16), not so much to comely order as to the outside, or as to the relation of man and woman, but to the ordinary governments and helps of the saints. He takes up what was of a graver kind, and touching more on spiritual things, namely, bishops (or elders); then deacons; and this leads him naturally to the house of God. "Faithful is the word, If any one aspireth to oversight, he desireth a good work. The overseer then must be blameless, husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; not given to wine, no striker; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; one that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity." It is plain that this is not at all a question of spiritual gift. One might be endowed with a good gift and yet not have a well-regulated house. Perhaps the wife might not behave properly, or the children be unruly: no matter what his gift, if the wife, or the family were a dishonour, he could not be an overseer (for this is the simple and true meaning of bishop").

In early days persons were brought in to the confession of Christ who had been Pagans, and trained up in its habits. Some of these had more than one wife. A true and gifted Christian one might be; but if such were his unhappy position, he was precluded from exercising formal oversight. The evil of polygamy could not be corrected at that time by strong measures. (Since then in Christendom it is dealt with as criminal.) To dismiss his wives would be wrong. But the Holy Spirit by such an injunction applied a principle which was destined to undermine, as in fact it did undermine, polygamy in every form. There was a manifest censure conveyed in the fact, that a man with two or more wives could not be set in the charge of elder or deacon. A man was not refused as a confessor of Christ, nor was he forbidden to preach the gospel, because such might have been his sad circumstances at home. If the Lord called him by His grace, or gave him as a gift to the church, the church bowed, But an elder or bishop was to be one that not only had a suitable gift for his work, but also in the family or in his circumstances must be free from all appearance of scandal on the name of the Lord. He must have a good report, and be morally irreproachable in himself and his household. There might be trial or sorrow, few families were without both; but what is spoken of here is something that damaged the public repute of the. assembly. For this very reason the grand point for local oversight was moral weight. It was not only the ability to inform, counsel, or rebuke, but in order to do all this efficiently a certain godly influence proved at home and abroad. In the practical difficulties with which an elder or bishop would be called to interfere continually in an assembly, there should never be room for those whose conduct might be in question to point to flaws in his own home, or in his own open life and spirit. Thus wisely and holily did the Spirit demand that he should be a person of good report himself, that neither past ways nor present habits should in the least degree compromise the office; and again, with a stainless reputation as well as a man of some spiritual experience in his family "one that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil." These things would not apply to a man's ministry in the word. A Christian may begin to preach almost as soon as he believed the word of truth, the gospel of salvation; but for one to be clothed with a public and responsible place as elder in an assembly is another thing altogether.

As a rule the apostle never appointed persons elders directly after they were converted. A certain time was needful for the Spirit of God to work in the soul, and discipline them in the midst of their brethren. They would then and thus manifest certain capabilities and moral qualities, and acquire weight, which would make them respected and valued, besides gaining experience in godly care for the well-being of the saints of God. All these things, where there were circumstantial requisites, relative and personal suitability, would mark out a person for this office.

Besides, though this is not said here, in order to be an overseer, one must be appointed by a valid authority; and the only one recognised by Scripture is an apostle or an apostolic delegate. Thus the Christians that a superficial. observer of the present day might tax with inattention to godly order in these respects are in truth those alone who are really adhering to it. For manifestly to set up men in such a position of charge without a proper validating authority is really to vitiate all in its very springs. Those who refuse to exceed their powers are clearly in the right, not those who imitate the apostles without warrant from the Lord. I am perfectly satisfied therefore that those now gathered to His name have been mercifully and truly led of God in not presuming to appoint elders or bishops. They do not possess the needful authority more than others; and there they stop, using, and blessing God for, such things as they have. Appointment must always raise the question, who they are that appoint. And it is impossible for an honest man of intelligence to find a scriptural answer, so as to sanction those who pretend to ordain, or those who claim to be duly ordained, in Christendom. There was no difficulty in primitive days. Here indeed (if we except a debatable allusion in another place) the apostle does not touch the subject of appointment as he does to Titus. He merely puts before Timothy the qualities requisite for both the local charges.

After the overseers he turns to the deacons. "Likewise must the deacons be grave, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. And let these also first be proved." The modern deacon in the larger and national bodies has no resemblance to this, and is indeed an unmeaning form. It is a mere noviciate for the so-called presbyters who compose the body of the clergy. Of old no inexperienced man ought to have been in such a position. Even though it was a function about outward things, still they were to be first proved. "Then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless. Even so must their wives be grave." It is plain on the face of it that this is more particularly insisted on for the deacons than for the elders. The reason was, that as the deacons had to do more with externals, there was greater danger of their wives making mischief and heart-burning. They might interfere with these matters, which we know are apt to gender strife, as they cast a gloom over the Pentecostal Church at an early day. There was not the same temptation for the wives of the elders or overseers. Hence it is written here, "Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things. Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife." In this we find the same thing as was said of the elders: both must rule their children and their own houses well. "For they that have served well purchase to themselves a good degree, and much boldness in faith which is in Christ Jesus."

Then the apostle sums up these regulations, and says, These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly: but if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God," (may we, too, profit by his words, beloved brethren!) "which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth." The church is the guardian of the truth, its sole responsible witness on the earth. The church owes all in the grace of our Lord Jesus to the truth. It may not be competent to define the truth: inspired men have done so. At the same time it is bound to hold forth God's word as the truth, and to allow nothing inconsistent with it in the doctrine or ways of the assembly. For we are called to be a manifestation of the truth before the world, even of that which goes beyond that of which the church is the embodiment. The acts done should always be an expression of the truth. It is a most important duty, therefore, and one requiring continual watchfulness. God alone can vouchsafe or keep it good.

Truly, there are often difficulties that arise in the church of God, and prudence might suggest many plans to meet the difficulty; but then it is the house of God, not merely the house of the prudent or the good. It is a divine institution. It has nothing in common with well-intentioned men doing their best. Let the matter be ever so simple, whether it be a question of discipline or order, it should express the truth of God applied to the case. This shows the exceeding solemnity of either advising or resisting any course that might be the will of God in any particular matter. Excellent desires, zeal, honesty, are in no way sufficient for the purpose. God can employ the most feeble member of the assembly; but still ordinarily one looks for better guides. One might expect that while God would give no allowance to a man presuming on gift or experience, because the moment you begin to assume to yourself or to others, there is danger, but nevertheless, surely one might expect that God would, by suitable means, bring out that which is wholesome, and true, and godly in short, what would express His own mind on any given subject.

These are among the reasons why the apostle maintains it here. We have it viewed in its outward comely order in this world, but the principle of the maintenance of this, and nothing less than this, always remains true. No renewed state gives any reason for abandoning it. The great thing is never to let details swamp the principle. There is always a way for those who, consciously weak, distrust themselves; and this is to wait, to refuse to act until God shows His way. Faith waits till it gets a distinct word from God. No doubt it is hard to be at one's wits' end, but it is a good thing for the soul. So here: he bids Timothy to take heed to these things, in case he himself tarried.

And what is that truth especially which characterizes the church? This is another instance of the tone of the epistle. "Without controversy great is the mystery of godliness." Mark the expression "mystery of godliness," or piety. It is not simply the mystery of Christ in the church, but the "mystery of godliness." "God* was manifested in flesh, was justified in Spirit, was seen of angels, was preached among Gentiles, was believed on in [the] world, was received up in glory." It is not God reigning over a people here below. This was no mystery, but the wonted expectation of all Israel, indeed, of saints before Israel. They expected the Messiah, the Redeemer to come, the One that would make good the promises of God. But now "God was manifested in flesh, was justified in Spirit." The power of the Holy Ghost had shown itself all through His life, had been proved to the uttermost in His death, and now marked Him out as Son of God in resurrection. He was "seen of angels," not of man alone; He was "preached among Gentiles," instead of being found on a throne amongst the Jews; He was "believed on in the world," instead of manifestly governing it by power. Another state of things altogether is present: it is Christianity; but Christianity viewed in the person of Christ Himself, in the grand bearings of His own person and His work; not as forming a heavenly body, nor even pursuing the special privileges of the habitation of God through the Spirit; but laying the foundation for the house of God, as the scene and support of His truth and moral order before the world. The whole matter is closed by Jesus, not only "believed on in the world," but "received up in glory."

* Cod. Sin. () agrees with the great authorities which give ὅς , "who" (or others, ὅ , "which") instead of Θεός , "God."

Now what is the reason why this is brought in here? It seems to be set in contrast with the speculations of men (1 Timothy 4:1-16) who wanted to interweave with Christianity certain dreams of a fancied spirituality above the gospel. What was this scheme? They fancied that the gospel would be a still better system if the converts would eat no meat; if they would not marry, and so on. This was their notion of bringing in some "higher life," superior to anything that the apostles had taught How does he meet them? He shows here the "mystery of godliness;" but along with this, and immediately after it, he brings in the most necessary fundamental truth. This is the point that has much struck my mind in speaking of 1 Timothy at this time.

That is to say, there is a combination of God's revelation in Christ, in most essential and even lofty features, with the plainest and simplest truth of God as to creation. Now, you will find that the way in which false doctrine enters habitually is in contrast with this. Men thus break down, who despise common duties; they are far too good or too great for occupying themselves with the homely things that become a Christian man or woman. They may perhaps weave the love of Christ (we will suppose) into some high-flown speculations; but they set aside that which connects itself every day with moral propriety. Oh, how often this has been the case! how one could easily recount one name after another, if it would become any so to do! Such then is the way in which error is prone to show itself. The man who most of all brings out what is heavenly and divine is he who should be devoted and obedient in the simplest duties of every day. This very epistle is the witness of it. Whereas the moment one sanctions the principle of making little of the family relations, setting aside duty, neglecting it personally, and making it even a boast to do so, as if jealousy for the Lord's glory were mere legalism, the result will be that, while they set aside the common claims of every day's duty, the conscience is ruined, and shipwreck of the faith is inevitable. They first cast aside a good conscience, and then the faith itself comes to nothing.

Thus the apostle brings the reader into close juxtaposition with the mystery of godliness, or, as it is emphatically called, the mystery of piety. The glorious person of Christ is traced through from His manifestation in flesh, or incarnation, until He is beheld "received up in glory." The work of God proceeds in the church on earth founded on this. In contrast with it 1 Timothy 4:1-16 follows up: "But the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of demons; in hypocrisy of liars, cauterised in their own conscience, forbidding to marry, [bidding] to abstain from meats, which God created to be received with thanksgiving of those that are faithful and know the truth." Some necessary changes are here made, so as to convey what seems to me the meaning. Then he proceeds: "For every creature of God is good," etc. We can hardly descend to anything lowlier than this.

But these airy speculators had completely forgotten God. They despised the simple self-evident truth that every creature of God is good. So, too, we see that they put a disparagement on the basis of family life, and the social system marriage. Not to marry through devotedness to God's work may be right and most blessed; but here it was a pretension to superior sanctity. As a principle and practice, Christian people were urged not to marry at all. Now the moment that this ground is taken, the same apostle who tells us what he believed to be the best thing. (namely, to be free from fresh ties, so as to care only for the Lord), defends resolutely the sanctity of marriage, and resents the blow struck at the creatures of God. It was really a slight of His outward love, and of His providential arrangements. Danger threatens wherever there is a virtual setting aside of God's rights, no matter what the plea. Oriental philosophy, which tinctured some of the Greeks, fostered these high soarings of men. As usual, Paul brings in God, and the dream is dissipated. The moment you use anything so as to set aside the plain duty of every day, you prove yourself to be losing the faith, to have slipped from a good conscience, to have fallen a victim to the enemy's deceits; and what will be the end of it?

The apostle then gives personal counsel to Timothy, of a very salutary character. As he also desires that none should despise his youth, so he urges that he should be a model of the believers, in word, conversation, love, faith, and purity. He was to give himself to reading, to exhortation, to teaching, and not to neglect his gift, given him through prophecy, in the imposition of the hands of the presbytery or elderhood. Nothing simpler, nor more wholesome. It might have been thought that one so specially endowed as Timothy was not called to occupy himself thus, and be wholly in them, that his profiting should appear to all. But no; grace and gift create a corresponding responsibility, instead of absolving from it. Timothy must give heed to himself, as well as to the teaching; and he must continue in them, instead of relaxing after a rigorous beginning. Depend upon it that those who seek to give out had better take care that they take in; that both labourers and those laboured amongst may ever grow in the truth. Doing thus, Timothy would save both himself and those that heard him.

In 1 Timothy 5:1-25 the apostle gives needful directions to Timothy as regards an elder. He was not to be rebuked sharply, but to be entreated as a father. Undoubtedly Timothy stood in a prominent place of trust and service; but this gave no exemption from the comeliness that becomes every one especially a young man. The apostle had maintained his post of honour in the preceding chapter; now he will not let him forget the due consideration of others. How often does over-frankness drop words which rankle in the memory of an elder, easily floated over when love flows freely, but when it ebbs, an occasion of shipwreck! Again, "younger men as brethren; the elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity." Nothing more beautiful, more tender, more holy; nothing more calculated to edify and cement the saints to the glory of God, whilst His wisdom enters into all circumstances with an easy elasticity which is characteristic of His grace.

So too we find divinely-furnished regulations as to those who ought to be chargeable to the assembly what was right in the case of the younger widows what was desirable as to younger women in general; and then again the obligations toward elders, not now when faulty, but in their ordinary functions and service. "Let the elders that preside well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine." But what if they were charged with wrong? "Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses. Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear." Prejudice and partiality must be eschewed at all cost. Finally, care, must be taken to avoid any compromise of the name of the Lord. Thus the well-known sign of blessing in the outward act of laying on hands was to be done circumspectly. "Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men's sins: keep thyself pure."

There is condescension even to so small a point seemingly as to tell him not to be a water-drinker. It would seem that Timothy's scrupulous conscience felt the dreadful habits of those times and lands so as to bring him into bondage but the apostle, not in a mere private note, but in the body of the inspired letter itself, sets aside his scruples, and bids him "use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities." I am aware that men have cavilled at this, yielding to their own thoughts of what they deem fit subjects for the pen of inspiration; but if we exclude anything whatever from the range of the Spirit of God, we make it to be merely a question of the will of man. And what must issue from this? There is nothing either too great or too little for the Holy Spirit. Is there anything that may not, that ought not, to be a question of doing God's will? Thus, if a person takes wine, or anything else, except to please God, and is not in danger on the score of morality, certainly he has lost all adequate sense of his own place as a witness of the glory of God. How happy ought we to be that God gives us perfect liberty! only let us see to it that we use it solely for His praise.

In the last chapter (1 Timothy 6:1-21) comes the question of servants and their masters, which also it was important to regulate; for we all know that a servant might turn to a selfish account that his master and himself were brethren in Christ. It is all very well for the master to say so; and certainly he should never act without bearing in mind his own spiritual relationship to his servant; but I do not think it becomes a servant to say "brother" to his master. My business is to know him as my master. No doubt it would be grace on his part to own me as his brother. Everything therefore where grace is at work will be found to have its blessed place. Whoever thought differently (and such have never been wanting) was puffed up, and could only suggest evil.

Then he touches on the value of piety with a contented mind in contrast with the love of money, and its various snares in this age as in all that are past. These things will be found dealt with successively, until at last the apostle calls on the man of God to flee these things himself, and to pursue the path of righteousness, etc., as well as strive in the good combat of faith; otherwise a man of God was in no degree free from danger. He was to lay hold of eternal life, to which he had been called, and had confessed the good confession before many witnesses, and this in view of the great event which will display our fidelity or the lack of it the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which in its own time the blessed and only Potentate shall show. At the same time he calls on him to charge them that are rich neither to be high-minded nor rely on aught so uncertain. What would give weight to the charge? That he was above such desires himself, trusting in the living God, who affords us all things richly for enjoyment. Let them be rich in good works, liberal in distributing, ready to communicate, laying up for themselves a good foundation for the future, that they may lay hold of what is really life. "O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of false-named knowledge, which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace be with thee."

Bibliographical Information
Kelly, William. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 6:10". Kelly Commentary on Books of the Bible.​commentaries/​wkc/1-timothy-6.html. 1860-1890.