1 Timothy 6
1All who are under the yoke as slaves are to regard their own masters as worthy of all honor so that the name of God and our doctrine will not be spoken against.
2Those who have believers as their masters must not be disrespectful to them because they are brethren, but must serve them all the more, because those who partake of the benefit are believers and beloved. Teach and preach these principles.
In the case of a master-slave (i.e. household servant, attendant) relationship, a slave was to give his master all honor. They were to be subject, well-pleasing, and not argumentative (Titus 2:9). This subjection was for the purpose of keeping the name of God honored and for preserving sound doctrine. There would be no way to share the gospel as a slave if he had ruined his testimony by being unruly and disrespectful. A master might not have been the greatest, but as long as he wasn’t abusive, a slave needed to give him honor. In some cases, the master was a believer, and he should have shown his slave great kindness and fairness (Colossians 4:1, Ephesians 6:9). A believing slave certainly needed to be respectful to a believing master, and he was to serve him even more readily and faithfully because he was a brother in Christ. Timothy was to teach and preach these principles so that proper behavior would be lived out such that God’s name would be honored and a pure testimony would be maintained.
3If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness,
4he is conceited and understands nothing; but he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions,
5and constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain.
Paul has continually reminded Timothy to preach the truth and stand for sound doctrine and godliness. He will inevitably run into those who hold to erroneous doctrine, doctrines which differ from the pure gospel of Jesus Christ and from the Word of God. These false teachers will be identifiable by the fruit which their lives produce (Matthew 7:17, 12:33). Their lives won’t be indicative of godliness because their theology will lead them into wrong thinking and behavior. They won’t agree with sound thinking and reasoning or the Word of God, but they will be conceited. Their own arrogance will darken their minds such that they go deeper into deception. They will think they possess great wisdom, but they truly understand nothing. They will have a sickly mind when it comes to learning, teaching, and communicating because they will be drawn almost compulsively to meaningless debate, controversy, and questioning. Rather than seeking to know the truth, walking in humility and contrition, and trembling before the Word of God, they will enjoy raising silly, pointless questions for the sake of creating doubt and sounding intelligent, as if they are above the Word or have superior insight than the rest. They will enjoy debating and arguing about matters of no real importance just for the sake of creating all kinds of evil and division including envy, abusive language, and evil suspicions. Their fruit is to self-promote, thereby angering others and provoking them to react harshly. Believers shouldn’t react in anger, but they should confront the sin in a Biblical manner (Matthew 18:15-17). The church as a whole needs to work to identify this wickedness and false teaching, and the ungodly need to be identified as such. The ungodly will create friction and frustration between themselves and others who are ungodly, depraved in their minds, and devoid of the truth of Christ and sound doctrine. All of these fall for the lie that godliness (not true godliness but a mere appearance and form of godliness in which they deny the true power of Christ- 2 Timothy 3:5) is something that can be used for selfish gain. They are interested in what ministry and religion can do for them as far as influence, pride, recognition, self-advancement, and money. They are using God to create worshippers of themselves, and in the end, they will be judged. (c.f. 1 Timothy 4:1-3)
6But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment.
7For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either.
8If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content.
True spiritual godliness which is formed by Christ in us and out of love for Christ is a great gain when accompanied by contentment. Christ is the acquisition of greatest value, and to rest in Him is perfect joy and rest (Isaiah 26:3). The ungodly seek what they cannot have because they refuse to worship Christ. True worshippers of Christ who rest in what He has given can have the fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11) and experience the true abundant life (John 10:10). We didn’t bring anything into the world, and we can’t take anything with us that the ungodly would like to take. Our rewards are eternal and not of this world. These will endure along with Christ and His Word, but the things of this world will fade away (1 John 2:17). Thus, we as believers ought to be content with the basics of life such as food and clothing. God knows our needs, and He will supply them as He knows best (Philippians 4:19).
9But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction.
10For 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.
A temptation that too many fall for is the desire and longing to become rich. In life, some are rich and some are poor, and both need to be content with their lot. It is easy for those who want to get rich to make money their god, and then they will be prone to disobey God in order to get money. The love of money is a snare and a trap, for it leads to destruction and ruin, perhaps materially and certainly from a spiritual perspective. Money itself is not evil, but it is when contentment and godliness are abandoned in exchange for servitude to money that money can become a problem. This lust for riches has been a trap of the devil to lead Christians and merely professing Christians astray into sin and deception. Both will experience many sorrows and griefs, for the road that they have taken will not satisfy. The true Christians will lose confidence in his faith, and he will have to deal with a state of double-mindedness and the internal agony that accompanies it (Psalm 32:3-4). He will have to grieve all the time and energy that he has wasted, and he will be accountable for his lack of faithfulness.
11But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness.
12Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
Timothy, on the other hand, is to flee from the love of money and any other form of corruption and ungodliness. He is to pursue righteousness, godliness, steadfast faith in sound doctrine, love, enduring obedience, and gentleness. His life is not to lead to angry outbursts and attacks, but it is to lead to peace and restoration. It is not to lead to corruption and error, but it is to lead to freedom, life, and truth. This will be a battle, and Timothy must fight for faith, truth, and love. He must remember that he is destined for eternal life because of his confession of faith in Christ, and he must hold that closely, calling it to mind so that he does not become callous, careless, or corrupt. This confession was something others could remember because it was done publicly. Thus, he bears the responsibility of a public testimony and witness, and his present position as elder in Ephesus only furthers that responsibility. Temptation will surely come, and he must be willing to fight and resist. Trials will come, and he must be willing to persevere and keep the faith. Attacks from false teachers will arise, and he must be willing to fight in gentleness and in declaring the truth. Faith must be contended for, truth must be upheld, and personal integrity must be guarded. The Christian life is not easy, and personal holiness requires a fight.
13I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate,
14that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ,
Paul’s command to Timothy in the presence of God and Christ is to walk in holiness and godliness, not giving into sin or deception. He is to keep the commands of God to the utmost with the goal of complete sanctification, which ultimately God will complete. Timothy’s part, like ours, was to walk in faith and believe that God was able and willing to provide escape routes from all temptations which would come his way (1 Corinthians 10:13). Paul’s admonition is similar to Peter’s in 1 Peter 4:1-2 when he says, “Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.” The Scriptural standard and goal is to live as Christ in this life. We won’t do it perfectly, but we should be getting increasingly close. Never is there an excuse to lack faith or give into sin. We must always believe that God has given us all that we need in Christ to walk faithfully and in obedience (2 Peter 1:3). That Christians, and especially elders, keep a pure testimony is essential to honor Christ and maintain a credible witness. Christ remained faithful even before Pilate and while on the cross, and out of gratitude for His dying in our place, we should honor Him (1 Corinthians 6:20). He was and is God, and we must honor Him as God even when we are under fire from the devil (Ephesians 6:16).
15which He will bring about at the proper time--He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords,
16who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen.
Christ will return for His church and appear in the sky such that all can see (Matthew 24:27). This time will be the right time which God has ordained, and only God the Father knows when it is (Matthew 24:36). Jesus Christ is blessed, the Lord of all, the King of all, and the Sovereign One. He is deserving of all praise and glory, and all will bow before Him (Philippians 2:9-11). He alone is from everlasting to everlasting (Psalm 90:2). Believers will live with Christ forever, but we had a beginning. Christ never had a beginning, for He was, and is, and is to come (Revelation 1:8). He has always been and always will be. His dwelling place is full of light because He is Light, and the light is indicative of His glory, majesty, perfect knowledge, purity, and power (2 Corinthians 4:6). He will be the light in lieu of the sun in eternity (Revelation 21:23). Only those pure in heart who have been washed in the blood of Christ will be able to approach Christ and enjoy His presence forever. One day we will see Christ face to face (1 Corinthians 13:12), but, in the meantime, we must accept the fact that we cannot see the “face” of God the Father, Who is Spirit (John 4:24), and live. Moses, the most humble man on the earth (Numbers 12:3), could talk “face to face” with God, but he could not literally and actually see the face of God, lest he would die (Exodus 33:20). No mortal man can behold God’s full glory in seeing His face and live. The glory would be too much for us to handle, being still in a sinful, corrupt body. Thus, the light that signifies the very presence of God the Father in all His glory and splendor is unapproachable by man, but we can take heart that we will see Christ’s face, in whom the fullness of deity dwells (Colossians 2:9). Those who have seen Jesus have seen the Father (John 14:9), so at least in that sense, we will see the Father as well when we go to be with Christ in heaven. As Paul speaks of Christ’s power, glory, and wonder, he bursts into praise, ascribing honor and glory to Christ and speaking of how he desires His eternal rule. The world doesn’t want to submit to Christ’s dominion, but Christians want it to come quickly (Revelation 22:20). Amen can mean “So be it, “May it be done,” “Truly,” or “Sure.” Paul is putting His full delight and confidence that what He is saying, believing, and living is absolutely true, firm, and sure.
17Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.
18Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share,
19storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.
There are those who are rich, and those who are poor. In an unjust world and in a world of varying opportunities, some will have and some will have not. Those who have much must not become arrogant as if they deserve to be wealthy in this life, but they must thank God as the Giver of all things. They must recognize that He owns all things (Psalm 50:10). They must not put their hope or confidence in their money but in God alone. God can give and take away at His prerogative (Job 1:21), and so we must continually acknowledge Him as God and sovereign over all that we have, whether much or little. If we have anything that we can enjoy in godliness, it is from the hand of God, Who gives every good and perfect gift (James 1:17). The rich shouldn’t feel guilty for being rich, but they should thank God and recognize that there are those in need materially and financially. They can enjoy what they have as long as they honor Christ, but they must be generous and eager to share with others. It needs to be on their minds that they have means and others don’t. Therefore, they have a duty and responsibility before God to wisely and cheerfully use what they have to meet the needs of others, especially those of the household of faith (Galatians 6:10, Acts 2:44, 4:32). Wealth is not to be hoarded but shared. In light of eternity and eternal rewards, those who are rich need to be rich in good works such that they store up treasure that lasts. Their financial riches won’t enter the next life, but their faithful stewardship will hold value in the next life. Timothy is to instruct those in his fellowship who are rich to be sure to be generous and not arrogant, for such is certainly a temptation. They must reject these fleshly attitudes and find the abundant life in obedience to Christ and in sharing with those in need.
20O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called "knowledge"--
21which some have professed and thus gone astray from the faith Grace be with you.
Paul closes his first letter to Timothy with a plea from the heart, which effectively summarizes his entire letter. He exhorts Timothy to guard, watch over, and care for those in his church, the gifts given to him by the Spirit of God, the position entrusted to him, and the truth and body of sound doctrine of Christ. He must stand for truth and sound theology, instructing those who veer off course and encouraging all in the way they should go. He is to fight the good fight of faith as he stands for truth and godliness, not wasting his time or getting sidetracked with those who simply like to argue and talk about meaningless things. Some go through life without truly seeking truth or wanting to change, and Timothy must not get caught up pouring his life into those who want to steal his time and energy from the sheep which really need his shepherding care. There are teachings propagated that many take as true and Biblical, but they are not. There are lies that people think are knowledge, but they are devoid of spiritual wisdom and the knowledge of Christ because they run counter to the Bible. It is not that Timothy is not to present the truth, for he is to reason and instruct in sound doctrine. But Paul doesn’t want him to get led astray into believing the lies that are circulating through the community and even in the professing church. He must guard and stand firm on the truth of the Bible. To adhere to a false body of knowledge and give into doctrinal error is to veer from the truth about Christ and the gospel. Deception is capable of leading believers into sin and keeping unbelievers in darkness. Timothy must maintain godliness and truth. If he can fight for truth, then he can protect the church in Ephesus from ravenous wolves (Matthew 7:15). Such would be fulfilling his calling as a shepherd. Paul wishes him grace to do these things.