The Agora
Bible Commentary
1 Timothy

1 2 3 4 5 6

1 Timothy 6

1Ti 6:1

Vv 1,2: See Lesson, Phm and slavery.

This v can apply to more than the literal slaves of Paul's time. The believers were in reality the slaves of their Roman lords, being subject to "the powers that be" (Rom 13:1). And all the poor and middle-class believers (which certainly comprised the majority) were in effect slaves as well: slaves to a cruel, heartless economic system. The natural course would be for a slave or a humble workman to hate his lord, and to "cut corners" and cheat him of his due, or to escape bondage if possible. Paul, speaking God's words, puts this on a much higher plane. We are not just serving ignorant, wicked men. We are at the same time serving God in heaven. "Servants (ie, slaves), be obedient to them who are your masters according to the flesh... with good will, doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men" (Eph 6:5,7). "Exhort slaves to be obedient to their own masters, and to please them well in all things; not answering again; not purloining, but showing all good fidelity, that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things" (Tit 2:9,10).

If the believer were a servant to an unbeliever, his submissiveness would indicate how thoroughly the Truth had affected his life. If he were a servant to a believer, all the more reason to serve diligently in the bonds of love. Practicing this on a natural plane will develop the same characteristic on the spiritual plane. We are all slaves of the Lord.

It would not matter if the master treated the slave justly or unjustly. The slave should consider this system as temporary and passing, remembering that Christ has purchased him with his life-blood, promising manifold payment for unquestioning duty (1Pe 2:18-24). The slave should be reminded that at one time he had served in the bondage of a master who was terribly exacting, and who had offered nothing in return. He had once served that fearful power Sin and the wages of the employer Sin were everlasting death (Rom 6:17-23).

Again, turning to the natural, a slave was to be faithful to his master unless his master demanded that he violate a law of God; a man must serve God first (Acts 4:19; 5:29; 1Co 7:21-23).

THE YOKE OF SLAVERY: The yoke is a very significant Scriptural symbol; it is commonly used as the symbol of one's subjection to another whether we are speaking of nations or individuals. The humble sojourners of God's family are under the yoke to the alien world in which they must live. Their profession of faith has made them a reproach and a byword to the scoffers. In the same way their leader Christ was "of no reputation", a man despised and rejected (Isa 53:1,3). And yet our Saviour saw beyond his afflictions of the moment to the glory that would follow because of his enduring firm to the end. And with this in mind he could say: "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me: for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light" (Mat 11:28-30).

This is quite a contrast with the heavy yoke of bondage to the flesh. Though we are slaves of Christ under the yoke, he helps us in our labors. And he promises us the reward: "For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory" (2Co 4:17).

The name of God and His doctrine would be blasphemed should the pagan masters of Christian slaves come to believe that their slaves' new faith inculcated discontent and rebellion. We may be slandered or mistreated as persons, but we must not act so as to bring any kind of discredit or infamy upon the Truth itself (Rom 2:24; 2Sa 12:14). We should keep this thought before our minds in all our dealings with the world.

1Ti 6:2

THEY ARE TO SERVE THEM EVEN BETTER: This is galling to the pride of the flesh; but as the command of God, faithfully obeyed, it is strengthening to the spirit. Anything that contributes to pride and self-satisfaction -- possessions, position, worldly knowledge, power, prestige -- hinders in the Way of Life. Anything that contributes to humility and self-abasement and recognition of weakness and need -- slavery, poverty, low position -- helps in the Way of Life, if accepted in the right spirit.

AND DEAR TO THEM: That is, they share the same love, a love for the one true God and a close bond of love which exists between them. Believing slaves and their believing masters are really "one" -- for they are all the "slaves of God" -- fellow-servants in the same service, the service of men for the glory of God. For them there is "neither bond nor free" (Gal 3:28). This common hope, this united expectation, generates a love of the highest order and greatest purity.

THOSE WHO BENEFIT FROM THEIR SERVICE ARE BELIEVERS: The slaves of believing masters could more directly see the good of their labors, for they were helping those who believed in Christ, their fellow laborers. They had the words of Christ as an incentive: "Even as you did this to my brethren, you did it to me" (Mat 25:40, 45).


"Partakers" / "sharers": of root and fatness of olive tree (Rom 11:17), of spiritual things (Rom 15:27), of one bread (1Co 10:17), of sufferings and consolation (2Co 1:7), of God's promise in Christ (Eph 3:6), of inheritance of saints (Col 1:12), of heavenly calling (Heb 3:1), of Christ (Heb 3:14), of the benefit (1Ti 6:2), of the glory (1Pe 5:1), and of the divine nature (2Pe 1:4).


THESE ARE THE THINGS YOU ARE TO TEACH AND URGE ON THEM: There is some difficulty is placing the stress of these words from the Apostle. Is he referring to all that has gone before? Is he referring only to the slave/master situation? Or could he perhaps be referring to v 6 of this chapter? 'These things teach and exhort, dear Timothy. For godliness with contentment is great gain.' One thing is certain, regardless of the primary inference, and that is to be content with Jesus Christ, whatever position we may find ourselves in. When we find ourselves in the "household" of God, let us accept this wonderful station, and surrender to our only master and obey Him. Let us keep His house free of disturbances and let us keep and guard the rules or ways of the household.

1Ti 6:3

IF ANYONE TEACHES FALSE DOCTRINE: There were undoubtedly some in the ecclesia at Ephesus who were still interested in such temporal, ineffective pursuits as social change and advancement, rather than an acceptance of God's arrangements and a contented "growing in grace and know-ledge". The rich and socially-conscious "Laodiceans" of today also serve a "gospel" of civic improvement and fashionable protest.

These men who taught otherwise and did not consent to wholesome words did so by their actions. A man's words do not always reveal his true, deep-down mind; but his actions always do.

SOUND: The word "wholesome" (AV) is from a Greek word the basic meaning of which concerns the health of the body, and it forms the root of the English word 'hygiene'. It is possible that Paul added this word to his vocabulary because of his long association with Luke the beloved physician. The metaphor was peculiarly suited to the purpose at hand for Paul in writing this letter. In his early ministry Paul had been concerned with building up the body of Christ (Eph 4:12-16), nourishing it from the Word of God (Eph 4:6).

But when the Body matured it faced a new danger. False teachings, or disease germs, began to enter, encouraging wrong belief and wrong behavior -- endangering the spiritual health of the community at Ephesus. (This same thing had happened to the OT "ecclesia", and the result may be seen in Isa 1:5,6.) The only antidote to the creeping infection within the Body of Christ was (and is today) a return to sound, wholesome, healthful words.

OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST: These words were to be found in the words of our Lord Jesus Christ who taught men humility and submission by word and deed: Mat 5:38-43, 26:67; Isa 53:7; and 1Pe 2:20,24.

GODLY TEACHING: Thus "the teaching which harmonizes with godliness". Again and again in this letter, we come face to face with the extreme importance of good works. Paul shows us that our walk in the Truth is inseparable from knowledge and that the gospel truth is inseparable from the virtues of meekness, patience, and faith. Anytime we see a professing believer who by his actions, consents not to this advice from the meekest of men, we can rest assured that whatever he has to say (in his loud and pompous manner) is of little use. Whatever amount of true knowledge we have is mirrored in our faithful actions.

This passage is quickly quoted to justify separatism, generally with little regard to its context. A close review of that context yields the following observations:
* 1. "If any man teach otherwise": The warning here should be limited to the "teacher", the active trafficker in some sort of error (the context should tell us what sort). It should not necessarily apply to the passive, ill-informed hearer or receiver of such error. Neither should it apply to the ecclesia established on a sound basis which may number among its members one who teaches a different doctrine. There is absolutely no thought here about the disfellowship of a whole ecclesia for its failure to disfellowship an errorist!
* 2. The "doctrine", in the Scriptural sense "teaching", against which Paul warns is a moral teaching contrary to godliness. Vv 1-5 should be taken as a whole: If any man counsels slaves to disobey their masters (v 1) or to shirk their duties (v 2), or if he proudly refuses righteous instruction, being envious and perverse (v 4), or if he supposes that "gain is godliness" (v 5), then this type of man should be marked.
* 3. The phrase "From such withdraw thyself" (AV) is omitted altogether in most versions, including the Diag, RV, RSV, NEB, and NIV! Can we really be sure that these words are valid?
* 4. There is little if any Bible precedent for using the word "withdraw" to describe the disfellowship of erring brethren. But to some it is a very attractive word, because it seems to convey an open-mindedness with regard to "judging" one's brethren. In other words, 'We do not condemn you nor cut you off. We simply withdraw from you as a matter of conscience.' But this is really trifling with words. Of course, in the final sense, we cannot cut anyone off from Christ. If, however, we "withdraw" from our brethren, we do cut them off from our personal association, and no amount of careful wording can relieve us of the responsibility of such action -- either for good or ill. The possibility of wrongdoing in hasty or improper excommunication (this is the more Biblical term!) is not mitigated by referring to the same act by a milder word. (The same point applies to the use of that euphemistic invention "stand aside"!)
* 5. Even if the questionable phrase is allowed to stand, it may sig that Timothy was to withdraw himself from such ideas as the love of gain, and strife and disputings. Paul's basic thought is continued in vv 6-10, and summarized by the warning in v 11: "Flee these things". This is a far cry from "withdrawing" from the brethren guilty of such things (GWC 120).
* 6. Those things which Paul condemns sound, strangely, very much like the qualities most common among many ecclesial agitators for "pure fellowship":
* (a) "Consenting not to wholesome [or healthful] words": Often brethren consumed with a passionate hatred for some single "false doctrine" lose sight of the destructive effect their words and actions are having on others. Their constant contention may work against the growth of the qualities that make for edification and godliness in the body as a whole.
* (b) "Proud, knowing nothing": These are those who pose as Bible students, often without realizing the extent of their own ignorance. Ecclesial life has not infrequently been plagued by such men.
* (c) "Doting about questions": The subject matter of many Christadelphian divisions can be seen, in retrospect, to have consisted of too much speculation in unprofitable questions, and of too long concentration on a very narrow area of interest while failing to appreciate the "big picture".
* (d) "Strifes of words" -- logomachia -- "word-battles". Much trouble has come upon the brotherhood during the last century in just this form. Problems have arisen because of carelessness in the use of words, unwillingness to clarify meanings, and the tossing back and forth of slogans and epithets which may unfairly characterize the beliefs of others. Phrases like "clean flesh", "Adamic condemnation", "open door", "enlightened rejecter", and a host of other technical trivia become the touchstones of controversy, with devastating results. Ordinary brethren are swept along and drowned in a sea of uncertainty -- wondering who is right and who is wrong.
* (e) "Envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings": "Word-wars" bring all these qualities to the fore. They encourage brethren to deceive, to misrepresent, and to foster suspicions against their "adversaries". "Word-wars" set battle lines, sides are chosen, cliques are formed. Sadly it reminds us of the world of political intrigue, with which no true believer should have any connection. "From such withdraw thyself."

1Ti 6:4

CONCEITED: See 1Ti 3:6n. For "proud, knowing nothing" (AV), the NEB has "a pompous ignorance", a translation which can scarcely be improved upon!

AND UNDERSTANDS NOTHING: Proud in his own knowledge, but knowing nothing of the "doctrine which is according to godliness" (v 3). It is possible for one to know the tenets of the Truth in a theoretical way, but to be at the same time totally ignorant of its purposes and practices; not able to comprehend the real gospel of love because he is too involved in self. Cp this with 2Ti 3:5: "Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof." Knowing means 'fixing one's thoughts on'. This person is not only without knowledge, but cannot even think rationally.

AN UNHEALTHY INTEREST IN CONTROVERSIES: Continues the medical parallel. If any man rejects healthful words (v 3), he is "doting" (or ailing), and his speculations about unprofitable questions (1Ti 1:4), rather than strengthening the Body of Christ, are consuming it as would a cancer (2Ti 2:17).

"Unhealthy" is here used as the opposite of "hugiaino" ("sound" or "wholesome", in 1Ti 1:10; 6:3; 2Ti 1:7,13; 4:3). If a man does not accept the health-giving teachings of Scripture he will necessarily become sick in mind. In this context, he will become sick over questions ("zetesis" -- debates) and "word-wars"; he will become preoccupied with and therefore unbalanced by vain academic and intellectual meanderings. For all his arguing and debating he will still be destitute of the Truth. Spiritual sickness often has the outward appearance of cleverness and precision; but such appearances mask the reality as described by Paul elsewhere: "Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the Truth" (2Ti 3:7).

QUARRELS ABOUT WORDS: Translated from the Greek "logomachia" which means 'a word fight, or warring with words'. A variant of this word is found in 2Ti 2:14 where it is translated "to war with words". These are the only two places the word is found. It has well been said that "Words are merely the counters of wise men, but they are the money of fools." Words are only tools which the wise man uses to convey his thoughts. He conscientiously defines and uses his words so that they may mean but one thing. To the foolish and vain man, words are an end in themselves. This man that Paul speaks of spends so much time in useless debate, he never has time for true reflective thinking. By stimulating strife he creates an atmosphere of mistrust, envy, doubt, and anger, not only in himself but in others as well. He says, "Let's not accept authority; let's question it" -- no matter how devastating the results. So there is constant undermining and an atmosphere of instability.

ENVY, STRIFE, MALICIOUS TALK, EVIL SUSPICIONS: Much trouble has come to the Truth throughout the centuries due to strifes and debate, quibbling over this or that. Since the Truth's revival, problems have occurred because certain men were not careful with their words or were perhaps unwilling to clarify the meaning of their words or phrases: others building on uncertainty would compound the problem until error developed, and with error came one of three situations: (1) division and/or dissension; (2) further declension of the truth; and (3) a gentle but firm handling of the situation.

All too often numbers 1 and 2 were (and can be) the results.

We should exercise care that we neither create strife with our words; create strife by "morbidly" questioning other's words; nor judge others unnecessarily by their words. "Strifes of words" have caused some to be driven away by the intolerance of others who would not listen to explanation. How diligent we should be to strike the proper balance!

"Word wars" bring all these situations: envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings. They have led brethren to lie, deceive, misrepresent matters -- the way has been left open for "evil surmisings", suspicions, and compromise. "Word wars" set battle lines; sides are chosen -- cliques formed; there are accusations and then counter-accusations, leading to grudges and mistrust.

MALICIOUS TALK: This means 'revilings, slanders, abuse'. Sadly it reminds us of the world of political intrigue, with which no true believer should have any connection.

1Ti 6:5

CONSTANT FRICTION: The KJV translates" perverse disputings". This is a single word in the Greek, used only here in the NT. It signifies a "continual friction". This rubbing against, this irritation, serves (by our medical parallel) to keep open the wound first inflicted by the unprofitable question -- so that the gentle salves and bandages of balanced Scriptural teachings may not do their job of healing the infection.

MEN OF CORRUPT MIND: A favorite phrase of Paul in the Pastorals (cp 2Ti 3:8; Tit 1:15). The medical parallel again: These men's minds are full of corruption. They are "atrophied". Like a withered arm or leg, they have lost the use for which God intended them. And thus corruption of mind will spread to endanger the whole Body of saints. What is the agent by which the corruption begins? The answer is in these verses: above all else, a pride in self which chokes the subservience to God's Word; then a sort of perverted social consciousness which serves to center our mind on the world; and finally the desire for material gain.

WHO HAVE BEEN ROBBED OF THE TRUTH: By giving heed to vain speculations and questions that only promote strife, and by neglecting the simple teaching of "godliness with contentment", these men have deprived themselves of the Truth: "Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith; not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men that turn from the Truth" (Tit 1:13,14). The word for "robbed" (which could signify "destitute" or "deprived") may be used in a judicial sense. If men continue in the way of ignorance, God may eventually judge them for it, and "give them over to a strong delusion, that they might believe a lie, that they might be condemned who believed not the Truth" (2Th 2:11,12). "And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind" (Rom 1:28).

WHO THINK THAT GODLINESS IS A MEANS TO FINANCIAL GAIN: The Gospel is free to all: "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money: come ye, buy and eat; yea buy wine and milk without money and without price" (Isa 55:1). It is to be freely given without thought of recompense. The Apocalyptic letter to Pergamos indicates there was there a class of people (called Balaamites (Rev 2:14; Num 22:17,37) who thought their profession should bring them wealth -- strikingly comparable to today's apostate clerics. Peter wrote concerning these people: "But there were false prophets also among the people, even there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth, shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgement now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not" (2Pe 2:1-3).

We are bought by God -- purchased with His Son's blood (1Pe 1:18,19). We are His slaves; we cannot sell what we ourselves do not really possess -- ie, salvation comes from God, through Christ. These men tried to sell the Gospel; they tried to misappropriate that liberty which is in Christ Jesus. Acts 8:13-21 tells of Simon, a man who supposed he could purchase the Holy Spirit. Let us note carefully what Peter tells him: "Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money."

Similarly, another class of men thought that righteousness would yield them great present benefits. Thus (in the case immediately at hand) they wanted to persuade the believing slaves (vv 1,2) that the recovery of their liberty was to be considered a privilege of believers, which they ought to claim as their right. By this same principle, these men sought worldly wealth and present comfort by their religious profession, and as their leading object. Thus they failed to understand, or neglected, God's basic principle of operation: that men must develop their character through adversity and chastisement.

Men intent on personal gain (whether if be riches or position or prestige) will be inclined "to teach things which they ought not, for base gain's sake" (Tit 1:11). If ephemeral gain rather than God's service is their motivation, then attention to present advantage will replace faith and hope in the future.

These men "suppose that gain is godliness" -- or that prosperity is a sign of blessedness, and similarly, that affliction of God's people can only be as punishment. This was the error of Job's acquaintances: no more correct today than it was then. If we think that by our being pious, God will give us such wealth -- then perhaps we should re-examine our motives. God's great purpose is to develop a faithful people through trials and hardships (1Pe 1:7; Job 23:10): "And ye have forgotten the exhortation that speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of Him: for whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. But and if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards and not sons" (Heb 12:5,6,8). And the examples of those sufferings of the faithful fill the eleventh chapter of Hebrews: a "cloud of witnesses" to refute the error that "worldly gain is godliness".

The phrase "From such withdraw thyself" (as in the KJV) is omitted in many mss and thus also in most modern versions. However, if we include it in the text, it may mean one of two things: (1) Paul is cautioning Timothy to withdraw himself from such ideas as the love of gain, and strifes and disputings. Cp v 11: "Flee these things." Or, (2) Vv 3-5 are one sentence. Reading only the first and last together: "If any man teach otherwise... from such withdraw thyself." We need to be careful not to disfellowship a brother unnecessarily; but such teachings and actions as Paul refers to here may grow to be so troublesome that action becomes essential (1Ti 1:19,20). At any rate, Paul provides us with a rule of thumb which we must sometimes sadly apply: "If any man teach otherwise... withdraw thyself." Cp also 2Th 3:14): "And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed." And also Tit 3:10: "A man that is an heretick, after the first and second admonition reject."

1Ti 6:6

Vv 6-10: Paul showed in v 5 that godliness is not a source of gain in the usual sense. However, here he shows that there is a sense in which this notion is true.

Some in Ephesus were confusing the aim and purpose of the Gospel -- which is godliness -- with the aim of present human betterment and improvement of social conditions. This is sacrificing an eternal betterment for a mere temporal one. Their course, even if well-meant, would at best bring only present, external, material betterment; and in striving for present good, they would confuse and lose sight of the eternal purpose.

GODLINESS WITH CONTENTMENT IS GREAT GAIN: Worldly riches bring with them no guarantee. The only thing worth having in our brief wanderings, the only real "gain" at present, is peace of mind. We should be content with whatever our present state might be from a material standpoint, knowing that we have a treasure that "neither moth nor rust doth corrupt" (Mat 6:19,20; Luke 12:33). Paul beautifully reveals to the Philippians the secret of his divine peace of mind: "I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and how to abound: everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need" (Phi 4:11,12). And to the Hebrews: "Be content with such things as ye have: for He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee" (Heb 13:8).

This contentment or peace or sufficiency was a state of mind that had to come by a process of learning. Jesus said, "Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart" (Mat 11:29). And of the Son of God himself it is recorded, "He learned obedience by the things he suffered" (Heb 5:8). Chastenings and privations are absolutely necessary for those who seek to be the sons of God.

"I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me" (Phi 4:13). This is the glorious secret of God's plan to which His servants alone have been initiated. Riches and prestige mean nothing. Armaments and political power mean nothing when compared to the power of God, who can in a moment assemble ten legions of angels (Psa 20:7; Mat 26:53). This wonderful access to the infinite power of the Almighty can be ours, regardless of present circumstance. "When I am weak, then am I strong" (2Co 12:9,10). When we most fully realize and are impressed with our utter helplessness and dependence on our Father, then are we most strong through the transforming power of His Son. Then we learn truly to "trust in the living God..." (1Ti 4:10).

How can we consider spending all our precious time in pursuit of the riches that perish? God has guaranteed that if we seek first the kingdom, then everything we need will be given to us (Mat 6:33). Of course, this cannot be used as an excuse for slothfulness -- because among the duties we must perform to God's honor is the providing for ourselves and our dependents (1Ti 5:8). But we cannot let our attentions be always upon attaining a living in this world. And never should our concern be upon bettering our social standing or standard of living. God has promised us a "sufficiency in all things" (2Co 9:8). (The word "sufficiency" is the same Greek word as "contentment" here.)

God has given us all we need of the world's goods, so that we may devote the greater part of our time and energies working for Him. We need only to appreciate the words of David to know this "godliness with contentment", the marvelous peace of mind in the midst of a world of trouble and uncertainty: "The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord; and He delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with His hand. I have been young and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread" (Psa 37:23-25).

Yes indeed, true godliness is a source of great gain, in an assurance which most will never know. Our faith is truly a conviction based upon substance -- a trust in the "Rock" of the wilderness, a heavenly hope transcending worldly baubles and frills. "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall lack nothing" (Psa 23:1).

CONTENTMENT: "Absolute, total happiness with things as they are; freedom from the folly and frustration of unsatisfied (and usually illusionary) desire. Contentment, not because things are 'ideal,' but because they are exactly as God's love and wisdom wills them to be at the moment. Contentment, not that they stay as they are, but that they are moving in the direction they are going -- 'working together for good to those that love God' [Rom 8:28]. This is the assurance that underwrites godly contentment. Without it, 'contentment' would be a lunatic's pitiful self-delusion. Happiness is full, thankful enjoyment of that which is. Unhappiness is desire for that which is not. But 'that which is' must be seen as the great, eternal 'is' of which God is the center and meaning. Contentment is not stagnation or indolence or indifference. It is intensely alive and vibrant and active. Paul 'yearned' and 'wept' and 'strove' and 'agonized' -- yet he was joyfully content in the most hazardous and miserable and destitute of circumstances (Phi 4:11). Contentment is bedrock, inner peace with God, desiring nothing but the glorious privilege and honor of serving in the great work of God among men" (GVG).

"The Scriptures exhort us not to grow discontented with our daily routine but to exalt our most commonplace duties to the position of God-given tasks, and to show fidelity and diligence in their performance, which is to be 'from the heart.' The everyday things of life give more scope for developing character and bringing up the quality of obedience to Christ's commands than we are sometimes disposed to think. When we ponder the training of the worthiest of God's children we perceive that few, if any, were relieved of the common daily routine. 'I have learned,' said Paul 'in whatsoever state I am therewith to be content.' And his further comment for our instruction is: 'Godliness with contentment is great gain.' To learn and remember this will counteract our natural tendency to grumble and go about with sour looks at what we may be inclined to regard as weary drudgery and a hard lot, quite out of harmony with the position of a saint. Let us remember that our divinely imposed obligations in our respective relationships, cannot be cancelled by distributing thousands of pamphlets, by holding hundreds of arguments with the stranger, or by reading whole books of the Bible at a sitting" (CHJ).

"Content makes poor men rich; discontent makes rich men poor" (Benjamin Franklin).

" 'Growing old isn't so bad when one considers the alternative.' This saying is credited to Maurice Chevalier who has since taken the alternative, not of his own free will, but due to the fact that death is the lot of all men in due time.

There are a lot of things that are easier to accept when we consider the alternative. We may not always like the food we eat but it is a lot better than starving. We may not like the old car we drive but it is a lot better than walking. We may feel that our living quarters leave something to be desired but they are a lot better than living in a tent.

We may complain about many things but if we would stop for a moment and consider the alternative, we may find that we should be thankful indeed for what we have. Things do not bring happiness. Happiness is a state of mind. We can be happy having little and we can be miserable with all the worldly luxuries that money can buy surrounding us.

As members of God's royal family, we ought to be the happiest people on earth. Just think what we have. We have God as our Heavenly Father who knows our every need and will provide. We have Jesus Christ as our elder brother who died so that we could live forever. Growing old isn't bad for us for we have that much more opportunity to serve the Lord we love so dearly. Death holds no fear for us, for 'precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.' Therefore whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's. 'While I live I will praise the Lord,' exclaimed David.

There are happy brethren and sisters in poor health living in one little room in places like Panama and there are miserable brethren and sisters living in what could be relatively termed the lap of luxury in many places in the United States and Canada. Why? They are thinking differently. When we say miserable brethren and sisters we mean those who with their own lips admit that they are miserable. In fact, some seem to actually enjoy being miserable and evidently think that miserableness is next to godliness.

Paul said we should follow him even as he followed Christ and he declared that 'I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.' [Phi 4:11] He also told Timothy that 'godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.' [1Ti 6:6-8]

There are no people on earth today who have so much to rejoice about. Let us stop a minute and count our blessings. Consider the alternative. What if we were aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise? what if we were without Christ and God in the world? Would we trade our exalted position with anyone that is without hope? No matter what else a person may have, he is truly miserable if he is without God. Others may have material possessions which we think we would like to have, but certainly we would not trade anything they have for the hope we have. Jesus did not even have a place to lay his head yet he will soon be king of the world. If we carefully consider the alternatives we will rejoice in the hope that soon we shall if faithful be kings and priests and reign on earth with him" (MM).

1Ti 6:7

FOR WE BROUGHT NOTHING INTO THE WORLD, AND WE CAN TAKE NOTHING OUT OF IT: "The LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away: blessed be the name of the LORD" (Job 1:21). Cp the parable of Luke 12:20,21. Cp also Psa 49:17 and Ecc 5:15 ("As he came forth of his mother's womb, naked shall he return to go as he came, and shall take nothing of his labour, which he may carry away in his hand." This picture runs throughout the book of the Preacher. The grave is the ash heap of mankind -- in it there is no hope.)

Paul's line of reasoning is obvious. If we could, at death, take our possessions with us into a future state, then there would be at once an end to the "contentment" (v 6) with whatever position we occupy now. This is because the possessions of the future would then in some way be dependent upon this present existence, and what we might eke out of the earth by the sweat of our brow.

Ignorant and superstitious men have believed this fallacy from primitive times. Nearly all ancient cultures bury their dead with the best provisions possible for their trip into the unknown. But those who know the Truth realize man's state in all its stark reality -- of poverty and blindness and weakness. What God gives him now is only a provision for his journey through this life, to be dispensed with (just like a used bus ticket) when the "destination" of death is reached. We are even more helpless at death than we were when we came into the world. Without the hope of resurrection to life man is no better than the animals. Thank God we have hope!

1Ti 6:8

IF WE HAVE FOOD AND CLOTHING: "Food" means "nourishment" which includes food and drink. Note also the spiritual significance. Christ is the "Word of God" -- the "bread of life" (John 6:48) and the "water of life" (Rev 22:1; John 4:14). What he teaches us of the way of true life is essential nourishment. "Clothing" is literally a "covering", which includes shelter as well as clothing. This might also refer to the other half of our spiritual needs. We need the nourishment of God's Word, and the "covering" -- the robe of righteousness found only in Christ (Rev 3:4,5; 19:8; Eph 4:24; cp also 1Ti 2:10).

BE CONTENT: Cp this phrase with Phi 4:11. Here again, as in v 6 "content" is the same as "sufficient". Nourishment and covering are all we truly need.

John the Baptist told a group of soldiers to be "content" or satisfied with their wages. (This is the same root word as the "contentment" in 1Ti.) This reference (Luke 3:14) is interesting in view of the fact that Paul in his letter to Timothy is also speaking to "soldiers" (cf vv 11-14). We are offered the wages of inner peace -- that peace which passes all understanding -- and the eternal dwelling in peace which will come through God's mercy and grace. As soldiers clothed in God's armor, warring against sin in our members, what else could we want as wages? No doubt we should be satisfied with what God gives us, as we look back and consider that the only compensation from our previous employer was death (Rom 6:23).

Our fight then, like Paul's, should be motivated by confidence in God -- living for God, satisfied in Him, not worrying about present situations. Could we, like Paul, sing hymns of praise and thanksgiving while bound in prison?

Philip Parham tells the story of a rich industrialist who was disturbed to find a fisherman sitting lazily beside his boat. "Why aren't you out there fishing?" he asked.

"Because I've caught enough fish for today," said the fisherman.

"Why don't you catch more fish than you need?' the rich man asked.

"What would I do with them?"

"You could earn more money," came the impatient reply, "and buy a better boat so you could go deeper and catch more fish. You could purchase nylon nets, catch even more fish, and make more money. Soon you'd have a fleet of boats and be rich like me."

The fisherman asked, "Then what would I do?"

"You could sit down and enjoy life," said the industrialist.

"What do you think I'm doing now?" the fisherman replied as he looked placidly out to sea.

"Concede defeat in the rat race. It has been said that even if you win the rat race, you are still a rat. For those who believe in something higher than 'going for all the gusto', we should realize that 'keeping up with the Joneses' isn't all it is cracked up to be. Half the Joneses are divorced, up to their ears in debt and daily on the phone to their therapists. We should concede defeat in this crazy race for wealth, pleasure and material possessions and focus on the race for eternal life" (KT).

1Ti 6:9

In the next two verses, Paul shows that any more than the "sufficiency" of v 8 is an added weight of temptation, something that is best laid aside. We should be thankful if we are "not overly burdened with perishable riches".

PEOPLE WHO WANT TO GET RICH FALL INTO TEMPTATION: It is not only the rich which fall into temptation. This is something that may afflict the poor as well as the rich. Perhaps it troubles them even more so. Notice Paul talks about those who "WANT to get rich". Rotherham has "who are determined to be rich". Those poor and weak who fervently wish to be rich or powerful are turning their eyes from the one important goal. So not only are the wealthy brethren liable to this temptation, but so are the poor, who feel compelled to "keep up with the Joneses". A little money, a little "security", only increases their desire for more and more, until all other concerns are blotted out.

It is not the possession of riches that is wrong: it is the trust in riches as a "strong city" (Pro 10:15) that turns us from godliness. Rich men are therefore not told to cast their riches away, but simply not to trust in them (v 17). And elsewhere they are counseled to "make friends" of their wealth by putting it to good use in God's service (Luke 16:9).

A TRAP: A snare, or maze, or tangle of conflicting motives. "No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other: or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon" (Mat 6:24). How man can deceive himself! What vanity and self-centeredness and blindness! How can he excuse the groveling passion for base gain as a commendable virtue, as a praiseworthy and healthy enterprise, as a manly making of provision for home and family! And yet every new and useless acquisition pulls him deeper and deeper into the morass -- another useless pampering of self, another idol to add to the "temple" -- until, by little degrees, he is at last worshipping things instead of God.

FOOLISH AND HARMFUL DESIRES: These "traps" catch men in many foolish and harmful desires. There is an instructive progression here, which we must recognize and shun. If we first lack a genuine trust in God that He will provide for us, then we may begin to crave or lust after present wealth and position. And this one desire, "the root of all evil", will lead into another ungodly craving, and another, and another -- pulling us down as into quicksand. We want one impractical and immoral "idol", we sacrifice and work to gain it, and then we immediately want another -- just as flesh-pleasing, just as wasteful. Let us not be like foolish children, hiding in our playpens, amusing ourselves with expensive and frivolous toys, until the urgency of the Truth has completely disappeared from our lives.

THAT PLUNGE MEN INTO RUIN: The ruin of body and mind now, in the blind and ceaseless treadmill of striving to be rich, which will lead to the sacrifice of God's word, and an urgency to "enjoy" the fruits of that wealth. But such men, like the Gadarene swine, do not realize until it is too late that they are rushing to "drown" themselves in a sea of luxury.

AND DESTRUCTION: And this "ruin" is inevitably followed by "destruction", which is the greater ruin, the complete and eternal downfall, the loss of immortality. "Whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God" (Luke 12:20,21).

US News and World Report took a poll (1992), and found: Americans with household incomes under $25,000 felt it would take -- on average -- $54,000 a year to fulfill the "American dream". On the other hand, those who earned $100,000-plus craved an average of $192,000. In other words, the "American Dream" usually lies nearly twice the distance away from one's grasp.

1Ti 6:10

See Lesson, Money.

FOR THE LOVE OF MONEY IS A ROOT OF ALL KINDS OF EVIL: Notice that it is the love of money, not money itself, which leads to evil. This v 10 is one of the most misquoted verses in the Bible!

The love of money may lead to many other evils. All sin has its root in the loss of faith, but the loss of single-minded trust in God, leads man to feel that he himself must provide for all his wants. Better to be poor and humble, that we might tend more toward prayer and supplication (1Ti 5:5).

SOME PEOPLE, EAGER FOR MONEY, HAVE WANDERED FROM THE FAITH: Then, just as now, there were examples among the brethren, of those who had "wandered" or erred from the "godliness with contentment". They had coveted after money and erred from the faith. They had been "seduced" from the faith (as the same Greek word is translated in Mark 13:22). Just as Eve was tempted by the words of the serpent, and led away by her lusts, so they are tempted: "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world" (1Jo 2:15,16). "But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin; and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death" (James 1:14,15).

AND PIERCED THEMSELVES WITH MANY GRIEFS: Leaving the Truth causes a person to be pierced through with many sorrows. They make themselves victims to many agonies of mind, many regrets, many gnawings of conscience at wealth gained with the sacrifice of eternal good.

It has been suggested that these last two verses are based on the betrayal of the Lord by Judas Iscariot, who, for the love of silver, delivered up the Master to be crucified. Judas's fate was literally to fall into destruction (Acts 1:18)! The fate of those who follow him is described as being "pierced", or "transfixed", with "pain" or "sorrow" which is from the same Greek word "odune". Here, perhaps, is a reflection of the agony of the Lord Jesus as his hands and feet were transfixed by the Roman spikes. Judas may have thought he had gained wealth initially, but he soon realized the worthlessness of the thirty pieces of silver; likewise, his followers, who hasten to be rich, will suffer all the pains of crucifixion, but know none of the glory.

Perhaps Paul is also thinking of David's words: "Their sorrows shall be multiplied that hasten after another god" (Psa 16:4). The imagery used in this verse could also be that of a man who wanders from the straight, direct path of life, to gather some seemingly fair flower growing at a distance from the right road upon which he is traveling. He wanders away and plucks it: and now that he has it in his hands he finds himself pierced and wounded with its unsuspected thorns. Such were the experiences of Gehazi, the servant of Elisha, who coveted money and garments -- only to be smitten with leprosy (2Ki 5); and Achan, who hid the goodly Babylonish garment -- and was stoned for his trouble (Josh 7).

1Ti 6:11

Vv 11-14: The good fight of faith. Paul, in his letter to this same Ephesian ecclesia, where Timothy was, had instructed them in similar military terms, to "put on the whole armour of God, that ye might be able to stand against the wiles of the devil" (Eph 6:11). In speaking directly to Timothy, Paul exhorts him (and us) to fight the good fight of faith (cp 1Ti 1:18). And in Eph 6 he describes the weapons to be used in this fight.

The passage in Eph 6:14-17 particularizes the whole armor of God (see notes there).

Notice here the progression of verbs. They picture so precisely the "military operations" of our faith. First of all, there is something to FLEE; "Flee these things" (cf v 11). Often, a tactical retreat is necessary before an army may advance safely. And then FOLLOW (v 11) a new leader, Christ our Lord. We follow Christ, and then we FIGHT (v 12) his fight, and LAY HOLD (v 12) or capture the prize -- our glorious hope. And finally, once we have laid hold upon this hope of eternal life, we must KEEP it (v 14) firm to the end. What a glorious campaign we fight against the forces of darkness and sin: FLEE, FOLLOW, FIGHT, LAY HOLD, AND KEEP!

MAN OF GOD: Sometimes we tend to forget that these characters of the Bible, of which we read so often, were just men and women, with the same weaknesses that we have. We sometimes excuse our feeble attempts in contrast to their lives, by telling ourselves how much more favored they were than we. This is utterly wrong! The very reason that we have the examples of these men of faith is so that we may see how much our experiences are the same as theirs. When God through Paul addressed Timothy as a "man of God", he was speaking for our benefit. And He expects us to obey, just as the ancient worthies did.

The phrase "Man of God" is used quite frequently in the OT -- of Moses, Samuel, David, Elijah, and others. In the NT it is found only in the Pastorals, where works are stressed. The "man of God" is such a man only by doing the works of God. Behind the use of the phrase here lies Paul's characteristic thought, that all Christians are in the same relation to God as were the most favored servants of God in the OT. And it is just as incumbent upon all believers to emulate these men of faith -- who showed their faith by their works. We are reminded of the impressive list Paul compiles in Heb 11, of men and women of faith, and of Paul's conclusion to the matter: "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us" (Heb 12:1).

A "Man of God" is a man born from above, not by the will of the flesh nor by the will of man, but the will of God (1Pe 1:23). A believer born of God (Jam 1:18; 1Jo 5:1), no longer a "man of the world". A man of God, well-stocked with the provisions of Scripture (2Ti 3:17) for the doing of all good works. God's property, bought with a price, with no life of his own. "Yet not I live, but Christ liveth in me (Gal 2:20).

FLEE: This word was chosen to emphasize the dangers involved here. This word in Scripture always signifies a hasty escape from danger, usually danger which brought death. We should not play around on the edge of the cliff, like carefree children without falling; but we should flee far and quickly from any danger of an ungodly walk.

These words were of course written first of all to Timothy. Covetousness of wealth and gain is such a strong temptation, that Paul felt even Timothy needed a special warning. Let us remember Timothy's position. Before, he had been a faithful companion of Paul in his travels, most likely he was the sufferer of hardships, privations, and persecutions. But now, in wealthy and worldly Ephesus Timothy had perhaps attained some measure of personal comfort. Here was the reason he was to be warned: the greater struggle is to overcome comfort. Israel did not turn away from God when she suffered (for then she realized how much she needed Him); but when she abounded, she soon forgot her Maker. When she waxed fat she lost her trust in God and forgot to praise Him as the benefactor. The temptations to sin were nearby, on every hand, and God could more easily be put out of mind in the presence of plenty. So it might have been with Timothy, and might be with us! "No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life: that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier" (2Ti 2:4).

Many of us are now living in a climate of unprecedented wealth and leisure and "opportunity" (of the wrong sort). Let us not begin to question whether we need God anymore. We need Him more now than we ever did before!

PURSUE RIGHTEOUSNESS, GODLINESS, FAITH, LOVE, ENDURANCE AND GENTLENESS: Flee one thing, then follow after another. (This contrast of negative and positive is repeated by Paul in 2Ti 21:22 and Titus 2:12.) Carrying out the idea of the soldier's campaign, this word "follow" means to "pursue in order to find or overtake", or "to follow after earnestly". The characteristics of a faithful soldier of God are to be pursued with all the diligence at one's disposal. They never come to one who sits passively and waits. We should emulate the fervent spirit of Jacob, who clung so tenaciously to the angel -- "I will not let thee go, except thou bless me" (Gen 32:26). In the battle of faith, the evil must be overcome with good (Rom 12:21).

RIGHTEOUSNESS: Used in a general sense for the inner life of a believer shaped after the law of God. An inner feeling of peace and contentment and conviction which finds its expression in the longsuffering and tireless works of a Paul or a Timothy.

GODLINESS: The Greek "eusebia" -- the specific word used so often by Paul in the Pastorals, to speak of good works.

FAITH, LOVE, ENDURANCE: Three additional characteristics which Paul urged Timothy to follow after. The comment by James is appropriate here: "Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing" (Jam 1:3,4).

Let patience stand in the place of hope -- as the endurance of trials, with the steadfast, immovable expectation of life eternal. "For he is faithful that promised." Then we have here the three cardinal rules in the Truth: "Now abideth faith, hope and love." This is the only "Trinity" which the true believer will recognize. These three related characteristics so often appear together in Paul's letters, as in 1Co 13.

GENTLENESS: See Lesson, Gentleness.

1Ti 6:12

FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT OF THE FAITH. TAKE HOLD OF THE ETERNAL LIFE: See Eph 6:11-18 again. Cp 1Co 9:24 ("Run the race") and Phi 3:13,14 ("Press toward the mark for the prize"). The words "fight" in this verse are from a root, from which our English word "agony" derives. The old stirring metaphors of the Greek ideal are here intended, the agonizing Olympic contests for the prize. "Lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience (endurance) the race that is set before us" (Heb 12:1). Put to death your enemy the flesh by growing in the spirit (Gal 5:16-26). The prize to be gained is a "stephanos" -- an athletic award in the form of an evergreen coronal wreath, which to the spiritual eye symbolizes kingship and life ever new and fresh (Eur 1:386-389). This is the real prize: the "crown of life" (Rev 2:10; Jam 1:12), and the privilege of reigning as kings and priests with Christ in God's kingdom.

Not long after Paul wrote these words to his young student Timothy, as he sat again in a prison cell about to face death, he was able to say: "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown ('stephanos') of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only but unto all them also that love his appearing" (2Ti 4:7,8).

TAKE HOLD: Sig to capture, to seize. Eternal life is not now in our possession; instead, we must seek for it (Rom 2:7). We hold firmly to the hope now, and in the great day of judgement we redeem that hope for the real thing.

TO WHICH YOU WERE CALLED: God has been, for thousands of years, engaged in calling out of the nations a people for His name (Acts 15:14). We see this plan in the lives of Abraham and his sons, of Moses and the children of Israel, and in the call of the nations to the one hope of Israel. "Draw me, we will run after thee" (Song 1:4). Jesus said, "No man can come to me except the Father which hath sent me draw him" (John 6:44). "Ye are bought with a price," Paul says (1Co 6:20; 7:23). We each must first be attracted to Christ because of the peace which he offers ("Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" -- Mat 11:28). First comes selection, or our choosing by God (for He chooses each of us for a special purpose, and we are each very important to Him). But we must also come to God by our own free will. Afterward comes the following, the running after Christ. As Paul tells us, "Be ye followers of me, even also as I am a follower of Christ" (1Co 11:1). As sheep, we hear our master's call, and we obediently follow.

Certainly we must note, before passing on, the parallel with Gideon's 300 soldiers -- inasmuch as Paul is definitely speaking here of our holy warfare. When the children of Israel gathered together to oppose the Midianites, God was concerned that the people might be too many -- lest they win and be puffed with pride in their own strength, saying "My own hand hath saved me" (Jdg 7:2). So He commanded Gideon to trim down the number by two means. Firstly, he said, "Whosoever is fearful and afraid, let him return and depart early from Mount Gilead. And there returned of the people twenty and two thousand; and there remained ten thousand" (Jdg 7:3). This was still too many -- "So he brought down the people unto the water: and the LORD said unto Gideon, Every one that lappeth of the water with his tongue, as a dog lappeth, thou shalt set by himself; likewise every one that boweth down upon his knees to drink. And the number of them that lapped, putting their hand to their mouth, were three hundred men; but all the rest... bowed down upon their knees... And the LORD said unto Gideon, By the three hundred men that lapped will I save you..." (Jdg 7:5-7).

Of 32,000 men God chose only those 300 (less than one in a hundred) who were alert enough to recognize their true position of danger, who would not take their eyes off the enemy for even one second, and who were ready for battle at all times. These same lessons apply to us today. God is watching us to see our attitude: how do we treat the enemy before us? Do we casually ignore him, while satisfying our own desires? Or do we always remain on the guard, with a mind to discern good and evil? In the final analysis, God will only call those 300 faithful of Gideon. The other 30,000 are but actors on the stage for a few moments. Many are called (initially), but few are chosen (for the actual work, and to receive the soldier's wage). And should it be otherwise? God does not save by many or few. Numbers of men mean nothing to Him. One man may be a more effective instrument in His hand than a hundred men. Let us go bravely into battle, not caring about numbers; nor should we be afraid if our companions, once called, later fall away in fear: "We will rejoice in Thy salvation, and in the name of our God we will set up our banners: The Lord fulfill all they petitions... Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the Lord our God" (Psa 20:5,7).

YOUR GOOD CONFESSION IN THE PRESENCE OF MANY WITNESSES: This must have been made at the same time that Timothy was first called to eternal life. This would have been at his baptism. Baptism is the event in which every believer shares in making a public confession of his belief. But we would be negligent if we did not point out how many more opportunities we all have, in daily life and by special efforts, to continue our profession in different ways before many witnesses of the world.

1Ti 6:13


WHO GIVES LIFE TO EVERYTHING: Esp to us, the saints -- 1Ti 4:10). Fight the good fight of faith, always remembering that God stands with us, to support us, to lift us up, to lead us forward. "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me" (Psa 23:4).

IN THE SIGHT OF... CHRIST JESUS: "In the presence of our Lord", our special succourer and advocate (Heb 4:15; 1Jo 2:1).

WHO WHILE TESTIFYING BEFORE PONTIUS PILATE MADE THE GOOD CONFESSION: Christ Jesus stood in the presence of the alien lords such as Pontius Pilate and confessed boldly the same faith as we do, who followed the same course first, as our example. "Thou sayest that I am a king, To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I would bear witness unto the truth" (John 18:37).

Christ came into the world, but he was not of this world (Mat 27:11). He had already made that decision, when he refused to weaken to the Satan's offers of worldly wealth and power (Mat 4:8-10). And he remained faithful to that decision during the next three years. He preferred instead the "godliness with contentment" which is "great gain" (v 6), and this is what he professed and exemplified.

Just as Jesus made his faithful witness before Pilate and then endured the humiliation and agony of the Cross (which is called a "baptism" in Luke 12:50), so the candidate for baptism must first make his confession and then undergo baptism, which is itself a showing forth of Jesus' death (Rom 6:3).

I CHARGE YOU: "Parangello": see 1Ti 1:3n.

1Ti 6:14

THIS COMMAND: The commandment is to "fight the good fight of faith" -- the one, all-encompassing command to which this entire letter has been dedicated: a patient, trusting struggle. The word "keep" is "tereo" -- meaning to 'watch, guard, preserve'. It is aorist imperative, which indicates that the statement is given with military curtness.

WITHOUT SPOT: Echoes the theme of the Song of Songs. The ecclesia is the multitudinous Bride of Christ, of which her spouse says, "There is no spot in thee" (Song 4:7). Paul's discourse upon marriage in the letter to the Ephesians is based upon this ideal -- the perfection of the Bride through the life and sacrifice of Christ: "Christ loveth the ecclesia, and gave himself for it... that he might present it to himself a glorious ecclesia, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing" (Eph 5:25,27).

But Christ has not done all our work, though we continue to benefit from his work. We need to do more than just lean upon Christ and depend on him to do all. We need to work ourselves, to try to keep his commands properly and to keep ourselves "without spot" (Jam 1:27; 2Pe 3:14).

WITHOUT... BLAME: Timothy was exhorted to be without blame. Some who had not kept the spirit of the commandment had already been "rebuked" (1Ti 1:18-20). What a warning to contemplate!

UNTIL THE APPEARING OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST: The great expectation of the early ecclesia was that Christ would shortly appear in person -- 2Ti 4:1; Tit 2:13; 2Th 2:8. The great apostasy mentioned in 1Ti 4:1-5 corrupted this glorious hope by degrees, treating it as a doubtful speculation, and then as a profound allegory, and at last as a damnable heresy. As the soldier of God fights the fight of faith, he keeps his eyes firmly upon that certain future, when Jesus Christ "shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom" (2Ti 4:1).

1Ti 6:15

Vv 15,16: Glory to God. This is the second interjection of praise to God. One is in 1Ti 1, the other in 1Ti 6. Paul begins and closes this letter with the thought, "Honour to God". (This is the significance of Timothy's name -- see 1Ti 1:2n.) These two verses emphasize that "God is light".

When the proper time for the coming of the Saviour, ordained of old, had at last arrived, then "the Word of God was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth" (John 1:14). Christ brought the light of God's knowledge to men (2Co 4:4,6), teaching them to glorify God and preaching of the kingdom to come, when all the earth will be filled with God's glory (Num 14:21). And this kingdom will assuredly come, even though some scoffers ask, "Where is the promise of his coming?" -- 2Pe 3:4. When Christ returns from his Father's right hand, to be glorified with his brethren, then our hope will become reality, and our riches (our lives) that have been hid will be manifest (Col 3:3,4). What use is there in playing among a few trinkets now, in view of the fact that Christ will come shortly, bringing us all things that we could hope for? The calm realization that God will certainly manifest this salvation in His Son in the near future is a great step toward that "godliness with contentment" of which Paul has been speaking. God was (is) in Christ reconciling the world. God revealed Himself in His Son and will do so again.

GOD, THE BLESSED AND ONLY RULER: The One God is the only real Power. God is blessed because He is the fountain of all blessings, the source and giver of our life and breath, from whom comes the glorious gospel of hope (1Ti 1:11). God is the only Potentate, the only power, the only ruler. Even Christ must say, "Of mine own self I can do nothing" (John 5:19, 30; 8:28).

THE KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS: The title is preeminently God's title. There are OT parallels in Deu 10:17; Psa 136:3; Dan 4:34. Christ may bear it (Rev 17:14; 19:16), but only as the manifestation of his Father. God is King over those men styled kings, and Lord over all whom men call lords in this age and in the age to come.

1Ti 6:16

WHO ALONE IS IMMORTAL: Cp 1Ti 1:17. Again it is referring to the Father, God Almighty. God only has underived immortality. God brought to light, or made possible, the way to immortality through His Son (John 3:17; 10:10, 26, 28) by the gospel (Mark 16:15,16; Rom 1:16). Men do not have immortality, as they must seek for it (Rom 2:7).

WHO LIVES IN UNAPPROACHABLE LIGHT: Paul is contemplating a heavenly scene of splendor impossible for human eyes to behold. Yet the Father purposes to manifest His glory also upon earth through the corporate body of Christ. Even upon earth the reflection of effulgent light (through the medium of His chosen ones -- the Cherubim of Eze 1:28) will be, at times, far too dazzling for mortal sight. They will shine like the stars of heaven (Mat 13:43; Dan 12:3), just as Christ does (Mat 28:3).

If the saints, who as the "moon" only reflect God's resplendent glory, can nevertheless shine so brightly themselves, how much more does their Father, "who covers Himself with light as with a garment" (Psa 104:2). This no doubt also refers to the fact that God is not confined by our concept of time and space.

WHOM NO ONE HAS SEEN OR CAN SEE: God is called "invisible" in 1Ti 1:17. Much sport has been made of the Bible by shallow men who claim to see a contradiction in this. They read such passages as Exo 33:11 to prove that Moses saw God (Elohim) face to face, but they neglect other passages like Acts 7:35, which show that the angels were God's messengers to communicate with man: "Behold, I send an Angel before thee... Beware of him, and obey his voice... for My name is in him" (Exo 23:20,21).

God could direct one of His angels so that the angel became in effect God. Cp, for example, Gen 32:30 with Hos 12:3-5. Abraham was said to have talked to God, but a careful look at Gen 18:1,2; 19:1 shows that he dealt only with angels. "No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared Him" (John 1:18).

Confined by our current limitations we cannot physically see God. Tainted by our sinfulness we cannot bear to see Him in His resplendent purity.

If men wish to know God, they may know Him through His Son, who has revealed Him (v 15).

1Ti 6:17

Vv 17-19: These verses resume the theme of vv 7-10. The natural desire and tendency of men is to accumulate money and possessions, for various real and supposed motives of "taking care of their own" or doing great and spectacular things for the Truth. This, if we are not very careful, leads again to confusing gain with godliness. God's work is primarily with the poor and He chooses weak and poor instruments for the purpose that the glory may be of God and not of man. After speaking earlier of those who desire to be rich, Paul now turns to those who are already rich.

COMMAND: "Parangello": see 1Ti 1:3n.

THOSE WHO ARE RICH IN THIS PRESENT WORLD: They may be "rich in THIS world", but not necessarily rich in the world to come. There were a few wealthy believers in the first century, especially in Ephesus, although they were the exception rather than the rule (1Co 1:26). It is not in itself a sin to be rich, but it is the occasion of sore temptation (v 9).

NOT TO BE ARROGANT: Paul asks Timothy to charge the rich in the ecclesia that they be not high minded or "haughty" (RSV), "arrogant" (NIV), foolishly proud, feeling that the chance of their having money makes them better than their poorer brethren. Notice what Paul says: "Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits" (Rom 12:16). In fact, if a brother has by his own effort accumulated great wealth, he may have reason to feel inferior to his poorer brethren, for he may have neglected those things which are most needful.

IN WEALTH, WHICH IS SO UNCERTAIN: Jesus' parables often speak of this pride and this trust of rich men in their riches. In one such parable, Jesus begins: "Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth" (Luke 12:15). The rich man spoken of here thought that the protection of the inheritance was essential to his life, but Jesus says that a man's life does not consist in wealth; a man is what he is, not what he has. True wealth is measured by our Father in the degree of our closeness to Him; or, in the words of Jesus in concluding the parable, in being "rich towards God". To know God is life; to know His saving truth is to possess a "treasure". True riches are those things which are pleasing to God. In rare cases a man may have earthly riches and so regard them that they do not interfere with his hold on the "true riches". Abraham is an outstanding case.

On the other hand it does not follow that poverty is a virtue, for a poor man can be eaten up with covetousness as much as a rich man, and so also miss the real wealth. Yet it remains true as a general that "the poor" tend to appreciate the gospel more than the rich who, because of their possessions, are too busy enjoying the present life to be concerned with a future.

"The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully; and he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years: take thine ease, eat, drink and be merry" (Luke 12:16-19). This man had no thought for others. He could have used his abundance to help many. He had no thought that the fruitful seasons which had made him rich were due to the rain from heaven and the power of each seed having life and that these were matters beyond his ultimate control. Behind his prosperity was the power of God. He heeded not the warnings: "If riches increase, set not thine heart upon them" (Psa 62:10). "The prosperity of fools shall destroy them" (Pro 1:32).

God made an assessment of the man: "Thou fool" -- clear, and emphatic, and true; for the folly was apparent in that he had not power over his own life, when that was required of him. He was planning for "many years" ahead, but God said "this night". What then of his plans, his barns, his fruits, his goods? They ceased to be his -- they were only his till the lease expired; wealth cannot buy off death. "No man can redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom that he should not taste of death" (Psa 49:7). The rich man, used to finding in his wealth the key to all doors, stands helpless before the door of the Kingdom of God.

The issue might be focalized in this way. At the judgment, when a man is stripped of all that men consider to be riches, is he then "rich" or "poor"? (Rev 3:17). God reveals that man's state and his end: "Thou fool!"; and Jesus says, "So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God" (Luke 12:21).

WHO RICHLY PROVIDES US WITH EVERYTHING FOR OUR ENJOYMENT: Paul now asks Timothy to exhort the brethren about the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy -- the living God of Christ, in contrast to the dead gods and goddesses of Ephesus: "But our God is in the heavens: He hath done whatsoever He hath pleased. Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men's hands. They have mouths, but they speak not: eyes have they, but they see not: They have ears, but they hear not: noses have they, but they smell not: They have hands, but they handle not: feet have they, but they walk not: neither speak they through their throat. They that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them" (Psa 115:3-8).

Let us never think that idols are of no concern to us. This very thing of which we have been speaking, the love of money, is a terrible kind of idolatry (Col 3:5).

These sayings declare plainly enough that earthly riches may fly away and only the treasures of the spirit are permanent. But these riches are also the very symbols for the world around us, in which men set their hearts. And those whose hearts are in the world (who worship the world as an idol) are as doomed to perish as the world order to which they belong: they, like it, will consume away like smoke. The only worthwhile "store" must be laid up with God.

The Psalms speak of God as "laying up" a store for the righteous (Psa 31:19). If their desire is set on this divine treasure, then they will have "treasure with God", and the "godliness with contentment" in this life. But God may store judgment for the future as well as goodness and a man's own life determines what kind the store shall be. So men may be said to lay it up by their own actions: "Riches profit not in the day of wrath: but righteousness delivereth from death" (Pro 11:4).

EVERYTHING: Examples of "all" prob meaning "without distinction" rather than "without exception": Joh 1:7,9; 3:26; 5:28; 8:2; 12:32; 13:35; Rom 10:13; 1Ti 2:1,2; 4:15; 5:20; Heb 2:9.

As he does in his letter to the Ephesians, Paul constantly draws the contrast between the senselessness and weakness of the idols and the omniscience and omnipotence of the one true, living God. God has the power to give us all things -- temporal and eternal (1Ti 4:8). This reminds us of 1Ti 4:3: Paul thinks again of those apostate teachers who condemn some foods as unclean, while at the same time hastening after all that "clean" money!

"His mercies are new every morning and fresh every evening. Who can know the number of His benefits, or recount the list of His bounties? Every sand which drops from the glass of time is but the tardy follower of a myriad of mercies. The wings of our hours are covered with the silver of His kindness, and with the yellow gold of His affection. The river of time bears from the mountains of eternity the golden sands of His favour. The countless stars are but as the standard bearers of a more innumerable host of blessings. Who can count the dust of the benefits which He bestows on Jacob, or tell the number of the fourth part of His mercies towards Israel? How shall my soul extol Him who daily loadeth us with benefits, and who crowneth us with loving-kindness? O that my praise could be as ceaseless as His bounty!" (CHS).

1Ti 6:18

The benefit of the rich man's goods is in its spending (for worthwhile purposes), not in its hoarding! Again, and again the same theme: good works, godliness, is not some monastic contemplation; it is a striving among the bustle of the world to do the will of God, actively, eagerly, lovingly. It is the seeking for the place where one's possessions or talents might be best used to the glory of our Father.

TO BE GENEROUS: "Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality" (Rom 12:13). "Pursuing hospitality", entertaining strangers (Heb 13:2), "given to hospitality" (1Ti 3:2). "Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ" (Gal 6:2).

WILLING TO SHARE: "Willing to communicate" (as in KJV) means to be liberal, "willing to bestow" (Diag), generous in giving. "Communicate" is misleading: it is from the same root word as "fellowship" (koinos). This word signifies a having in common (Acts 2:44), a sharing with one another, both in material possessions and in sympathies: "Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep" (Rom 12:15).

It is one thing to share one's goods from a cold sense of duty and quite another thing to share material goods and warm, loving, spiritual sympathies at the same time. "Fellowship" is much more than meeting together on Sundays to break bread. "Fellowship" is much more far-reaching. It enters into every aspect of our lives. In each thing that we do, we are either doing it in the fellowship of God's Truth and His children, or in the fellowship of the world.

1Ti 6:19

THEY LAY UP TREASURE FOR THEMSELVES: Paul has been thinking upon Jesus' words in the Sermon on the Mount: "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal" (Mat 6:19,20; cp Luke 18:22).

Men think they make lasting provision when they lay up a store of valuable clothes, supplies of food, or a hoard of money. But moths may destroy the fabrics, insects and rodents corrupt the grain, and thieves may burrow through the mud walls and steal the gold. The saying covers all the forms in which wealth is customarily hoarded; none of them is safe.

Not only does God lay up treasure for those who are God-fearing, but they are a treasure to Him. "They shall be mine". He says... "a peculiar treasure" (Mal 3:17). This is the thesis of Malachi's message that the true Israel are "they that fear the Lord" and who alone are written in His book of remembrance; and it deliberately recalls the use of the same expression at the beginning of Israel's national history (Exo 19:5). They are chosen as God's prized possession. But it is Abraham's seed by faith who are truly God's treasure; and so Peter writes to those "sojourners of the Dispersion" who are "elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Christ"; and in the language of the law and in the spirit of the prophet he says: "But ye are an elect race, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a people for God's own possession, that ye should show forth the excellencies of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvellous light" (1Pe 2:9).

These are the Lord's "inheritance", a term which is used of Israel of old (Exo 34:9; Psa 33:12). And Paul, applying the Old Testament language to spiritual Israel, can write to the Ephesians of "the riches of the glory of God's inheritance in the saints" (Eph 1:18). But if they are the Lord's inheritance, He also is theirs. "The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: Thou maintainest my lot. The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage" (Psa 16:5,6). The words are those of the spirit of Christ in the Psalms, but what is true of him is true also of those who are "in him".
In the light of these sayings of the Psalmist we can feel the force of the Lord's words, "For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" (Mat 6:21). The heart will turn as surely as the needle of a compass toward what it really values. No amount of outward religious performance will change its direction for long if the world is its attraction. But if God is our prized possession, then to Him our hearts will be drawn; and He is the only possession which can never perish, and can ensure that the possessors will never perish either. We cannot pretend that delight and a sense of wealth in God come easily to human nature; only a long and constant direction of the mind can bring the consciousness of that precious treasure, that "godliness with contentment". Paul advises us: "Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth, For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God" (Col 3:2,3).

SO THAT THEY MAY TAKE HOLD OF THE LIFE THAT IS TRULY LIFE: Life is our treasure; and our treasure, like our citizenship, is in heaven (Phi 3:20). Linked with the similar phrase in v 12, the thought is this: there is a life now, and if men are not careful they will come to feel that this is the only important life. All their making of provisions will be with this in mind. They will forget about the future, that which is really life -- the only life that does not finally reward us with pain and sorrow and death. Solomon speaks of God "laying up" sound wisdom for the righteous: "He keepeth the paths of judgment, and preserveth the way of his saints. Then shalt thou understand righteousness, and judgment, and equity; yea, every good path" (Pro 2:7-9).

It needs to be stressed here (or else a misconception may arise) that man cannot, by his own self-centered labors, lay up this store which will guarantee him eternal life. This was the mistake of the Pharisees, who leaned upon the letter of the Law, but failed to keep its spirit and were condemned thereby. And it may be our mistake today.

We must rely upon our Father in Heaven. We have to beseech Him for assistance and then He will work through us. He will give us the "sound wisdom" we need, not the knowledge that puffs us up in our self-importance (1Co 13:4), but the simple and practical wisdom to guide us in our day-to-day works. Then we shall, but only with God's help, attain to that true "godliness with contentment".

1Ti 6:20

TIMOTHY, GUARD WHAT HAS BEEN ENTRUSTED TO YOUR CARE: "The deposit": Paul switches from the literal riches (vv 17-19) to the spiritual. Perhaps this is an allusion to the parables of the talents and the pounds (Mat 25:14-30; Luke 19:12-27). In the parables, money is deposited to the trust of the disciples as though to a bank, for the purpose of earning "usury" or interest. Christ has given each of us the Truth and we must utilize it to the best of our ability, not casting it aside to decay through negligence, nor neatly storing it away in a white napkin!

What a poignant picture we have here! What an uplifting example to stir us from our lethargy! Paul, the aged, with no family of his own, is beginning certainly to feel the approach of death. He knows his days are numbered, and that he has "fought a good fight" (2Ti 4:7). Will those whom he leaves behind carry this "fight" forward, or will they allow the gospel of Christ to languish without strong and resolute warriors? As the apostle John was to say in his declining years, Paul also "had no greater joy than to hear that his children walk in the Truth" (3Jo 1:4). Paul's most fervent desire, as he neared the end of his sojourn, was that Timothy his own son in the faith (1Ti 1:2) would keep that trust committed to him and would in the end lay hold on the prize of eternal life. May we do the same, following the examples of all those faithful ones that have gone before.

TURN AWAY FROM GODLESS CHATTER: Useless and profitless disputes (cp 1Ti 1:4,6).

AND THE OPPOSING IDEAS OF WHAT IS FALSELY CALLED KNOWLEDGE: Developments at Ephesus, and other ecclesias, led to new heresies which Paul calls science falsely so called. John's first letter (90 AD) was written to correct serious error that was developing among the ecclesias. John does not name the error, but the general opinion is that it was an early form of Gnosticism. The full growth of this heresy did not come until the second century, but its earliest forms had been revealed before John, and it is here mentioned by Paul to Timothy, when he warned him to be on his guard against false "knowledge" ("gnosis").

The theory of Gnosticism threatened the ecclesia from within and constituted a more seductive and dangerous doctrine than persecution from without. The apostle John wrote to counteract the influence of a so-called "higher form" of "knowledge" that challenged the foundation of faith. The peril came not from men who were out to destroy the Truth, but from those who thought that they were improving it by loosening its restrictions and whose aim was to make it "intellectually" respectable.

By the time John wrote (towards the end of the first century), many members of the ecclesias were second or even third generation believers, and this is also the case today in regard to the most recent revival of the Truth. Then, as now, the pioneering spirit was being set aside and more and more time was being given to mere speculation upon minor points (1Ti 1:4).

Jesus had warned of this: "The love of many shall wax cold" (Mat 24:12). By John's time, as today, the first thrill of the early establishment of ecclesias had faded, and, in many instances, the early flame of zeal had dimmed to a flicker. John ministered at Ephesus, Timothy's ecclesia, and Christ warned this very ecclesia: "I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love" (Rev 2:4).

Therefore, while Paul and John always exemplified that great love for their brethren, they also manifested a stem attitude toward those who would undermine the faith with their theories. In describing them, Paul uses such words as "heretics", "blasphemers" and "hypocrites"; and John is even stronger: "liars", "seducers", "false prophets", "deceivers", and "anti-Christs". In this way they wrote, in the abundance of their love, though it must have appeared to some as extreme harshness.

The Gr "gnosis" signifies "knowledge", and the Gnostics claimed to be "knowing ones". However, the form of knowledge they embraced did not constitute a greater understanding of the Bible, or a growing in "godliness". Gnosticism was not, like some heresies, an open enemy of the Truth. It professed to give its approval and patronage to the gospel. But the Gnostics professed to have a better way than Christ and the apostles. They said that the Scriptures did not need to be taken historically and literally and it was not necessary to believe that the Scriptures contained all that was essential to eternal life. The philosopher whose mind was enlightened by a greater knowledge from other sources need not trouble himself much about his conduct. Righteousness was of no account in comparison with his new illumination. It is a matter of indifference what the human body does. We can certainly understand how such a liberal philosophy was so much in contrast to the righteousness of the pastoral letters, where good works are seen as the evidence of our faith.

1Ti 6:21

WHICH SOME HAVE PROFESSED AND IN SO DOING HAVE WANDERED FROM THE FAITH: In contrast to the "profession" of vv 12,13, some brethren profess their own crotchets, their own self-satisfying theories, while others profess the pure and simple faith, and live their lives by its commands. Thus they "have missed the mark", an active, knowing sin (1Ti 1:6).

GRACE BE WITH YOU: "You" is plural -- as in 2Ti 4:22 and Tit 3:15. This would mean that the letter was designed for others beside Timothy.
Paul concludes as he has begun, with the prayer for grace from God (1Ti 1:2). This is the grace that God offered to Paul, to Timothy, and to all the brethren at Ephesus, and lastly to us. This is the grace which leads a man to serve God in sincerity and truth.

We must keep bringing ourselves back to this -- the simple, personal work of each individual, day after day.

The Truth is a very simple, individual, personal thing, passed on in joyful zeal from person to person, radiated in personal example, personal dedication and personal holiness.

Look at the example of Christ. Look at the example of Paul. This was the living power that swept the Roman Empire in the early centuries. All the might of Caesar's legions could not stand against a humble little band of believers who marched under the banner of their Lord. And this is the work which by God's grace we must carry forward -- each individual one of us in this our brief "day of salvation".
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