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1 Timothy Series

Chapter 6

 

John Baugh
January 2, 2009

 

 

1 Timothy 6

 

Instructions to Those Who Minister

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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. 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,

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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

 

 

Notes on Slavery during New Testament Times

 

In the days when Paul was ministering and when he wrote his letter to timothy, almost the entire known world practiced Slavery. In fact, about half of the population of the Roman Empire - approximately sixty million people were slaves. Many of the Roman slaves had been taken as prisoners of war by the Roman legions. Some were taken away out of their own countries and moved to other places inhabited by the Romans. Others were kept captive within their own lands. Some slaves were highly educated, literate men and women. A few of them became secretaries to leading Romans and others, but most of them were illiterate, as were many of the Romans.

 

As the church began to grow, so did the number of new Christians who were slaves. In fact, it was not uncommon to have both slave and master being converted to Christianity. While slavery is almost universally condemned today and not practiced in our country or in most other countries, we must understand that it was a common practice in those days, and the church existed in areas under the command of the Roman military, subject to their authority and social custom.

 

Some might question the relevance of this portion of Paul’s letter to Timothy. Those who seek out relevance in all of scripture probably recognize the closeness of what Paul says about the relationship of slave to master to the working conditions of many in today’s workplace.

 

No we are not slaves of the company, but many of us totally rely on the company and our jobs for our needs.  We not only work for someone (the company), but we work under the authority of someone (our boss). In the same manner as the slave, we are subject to an agreement (forced for the slave and willingly for us) to sell a portion of our time, labor and skills in return for compensation. If we read his words to Timothy in that light, Paul’s thoughts on the relationship of slave to master have considerable relevance today, as they did in Paul’s time.

 

The Relationship between Slaves and Masters

 

 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.

 

Paul states that there is a need for the subordinate (the slave of his time or the worker of today) to respect the one in authority (the master of his time, or the boss of today’s time). Respect is how I would translate the words “all honor” that Paul uses. There is no better way to treat those in authority than with simple respect. In fact, there is no better way to treat those that you have authority over than to treat them with respect, also. Most Christians know that the world in general closely scrutinizes us to judge how we act toward and react to the actions of others. There is no better way to maintain a maturity of character than to treat others with respect. There is no better way to break down character than to show a lack of respect toward others. 

 

Regardless of justification, as Christians we are judged by the world based on how we act in the workplace. If we have problems with our boss, we need to keep those problems between ourselves and our Lord, relying on him to give us strength of endurance and allowing him to change those who have authority over us.

 

There is a simple fact that, some people have bad bosses. Some are so bad that we might like nothing more than to “whack them up-side of their head”. At best they irritate us. The worse is much more frustrating. Still, they have authority over us. The word of Scripture is that we are not merely to treat them with respect, but that we are to "regard them as worthy of respect," worthy of honor.

 

Slaves who have fellow believers as their master:

 

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.

 

Some of us are fortunate in that those who have authority over us are fellow believers. Sometimes we see that the one under authority expects favors or special concessions from their boss, if they are both believers.

 

In Paul’s opinion, this is not the case. Instead, he turns the relationship completely around.  He says, rather than thinking we deserve special favors from our boss because of our Christianity, we ought to remember that these men are our brothers and that we ought to be trying to find a way to bless them and go beyond what others would do in our courtesy and respect toward them.

 

 

When the Master is not a Believer

 

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.

 

Next, Paul warns Timothy that there will be some who will not accept this. In fact, he says that they will advocate the contrary. Paul tells Timothy to remember two things about them.

 

1 – First of all, their actions are wrong; they are opposing "the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Verse 3). Paul takes us back to the Lord himself.

 

Christ spoke of submission and acceptance. He showed the proper attitude when he came up against persecution or injustice. In his words, we are to love our enemies and bless those who persecute us.  It was Jesus who told us to live this way and not Paul. Paul tells Timothy these are "the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ." Jesus’ words are realistic words that reflect the reality of life. They are words that will smooth things out without violence and disruption in society.

 

Christ Jesus understood life. He set up the rules and ordained it. When Jesus tells us to live this way, it is not merely an option that we are offered, which we can do if we like and ignore if we do not. These are the "sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ." To tell Timothy otherwise, to attempt to teach or to try to impart another basis of activity is to take an opposite view to the Lord himself; to do so is to follow the philosophy of the devil.

 

2 - Second, Paul tells Timothy that those who do this ignore "the teaching which accords with godliness" (Verse 3). Paul has used the word “godliness” several times in his letter. It is also translates as the word “wholeness” -  the teaching that makes men whole, that makes them unified, that destroys division and creates unity.

 

Jesus once said, "He that is with me gathers. He that is against me scatters," (Luke 11:23). If you want to know whether a man is for or against Christ, do not listen to what he says, look at what the effect of his life is. If he divides and scatters people, then, no matter what he says, he is against Christ. Does he unite people and heal them? Then no matter how poorly he states it, he is with the Lord; he is for him. That is our Lord's test. The teaching that is in accord with wholeness is the exact opposite of the devil's philosophy, which divides men.

 

Those who ignore "the teaching which accords with godliness" are always doing three things in any situation of controversy.

 

1 - They are escalating it. If you teach somebody to get even, to take vengeance into his own hands when his neighbor throws garbage over the fence, by putting gophers in his lawn or throwing dirt on his washing when it is hanging out in the back yard -- your evil minds will think up plenty of things to do, as will mine -- what you are doing is immediately escalating the situation. The neighbor has to do something worse in return, and so conflict grows.

 

2 - It not only escalates, it polarizes: others join the fracas. Your neighbors, your family and others get in on the act. Soon you have one community opposed to one another, fighting one another, writing nasty letters to the newspaper, and attacking each other.

 

3 - It also perpetuates the situation, to a point where there seems to be no end – ever more insistent and hurtful.

 

The apostle says there are three motives that prompt one to act this way:

 

1 - The first is conceit. Though he knows nothing, he thinks he knows everything, Paul says. "He is puffed up with conceit, though he knows nothing." When you listen to some of the adherents of various causes, how profound they can sound, how convinced they are that they have the only right view, and how angry they become at anybody who opposes them! This always reveals conceit.

 

2 - The second motive is that there is a love of controversy, a craving for a fight. Some people cannot get along unless they get a fight going. Then they feel good; something exciting is happening. They seem to have a morbid love of controversy, of word-wrangling, and debating over the meanings of phrases and words.

 

3 - The third motive is that such an individual sees gain as his only objective in life. This motive can impact their desire to join a specific church, give their time to certain causes, or donate to specific charities. They do things because they help them get ahead, or accumulate more power or money.

 

Paul is saying here that submission to difficult conditions is not a curse; it is something God has given as an opportunity to display the true character of Christ. If, against the dark background, a light shines, it shines all the brighter because of the darkness. Difficult conditions are opportunities given by God to reflect a clear testimony before the world. It is God's way to a blessing. He can and will change the situation. He is committed to human freedom which he will bring into being when the purpose for which he has allowed difficult conditions to arise has been fully achieved.

 

Peter wrote the following concerning our Lord Jesus: "When he was reviled, he did not revile in return [He did not give back what he got]; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he trusted to him who judges justly," (1 Peter 2:23). Jesus did it all at the cross. God turned the cross into the greatest opportunity for deliverance and freedom that the world has ever seen. That is what he will do in our lives as well.

 

This is the power of Christianity to free, to deliver from any form of slavery. All of us are slaves in one way or another. We are bound with bad habits of eating, drinking, smoking, whatever. All of us are slaves to habits of the emotions, such as hot tempers and lustful thoughts. We are all slaves to attitudes of resentment and bitterness, etc. But God can free us when we act as his children in the midst of the circumstances in which he has put us.

 

Godliness and Contentment

 

 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.

 

Here, Paul writes twice that contentment is true wealth. He states that true wealth is not the size of a bank account or brand of car, but contentment from a whole and balanced life is where true wealth lies. Paul uses the Greek word eusebia here. It translates as Godliness, wholeness, goodness, balance.

 

One of the best definitions of contentment says that it is, "not having all you want but wanting only what you have." Satisfied with what you have -- that is being content. The Greek word used here in this passage means self-sufficiency, having all you need and wanting only that much, not craving for more.

 

Paul elaborates on this in Philippians 4: "I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therein to be content," (Phil 4:11). Then Paul goes on, "I have learned both to be abased [to live without anything]; I have learned to abound [to have all I need] ... I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and want," (Phil 4:12). The next verse tells us the secret: "I can do all things through him who strengthens me," (Phil 4:13).

 

Godliness, in other words, is contentment. True godliness is understanding that when you have God, and food, and clothing, that is all you really need to be enriched and fulfilled, satisfied and content. That is the clear teaching of the Scriptures. So the first thing this passage teaches us is that things do not make us happy. Jesus said "a person's life does not consist of the abundance of things which he possesses" (Luke 12:15)

 

Paul goes on to prove the truth of these words by using birth and death as examples. He says we came into the world with nothing, and we can take nothing out of it. What do you have when you are born? Nothing. You come into the world a little red-faced, squally, naked baby. You do not have anything; even your diaper has to be furnished. What do you have when you leave this world? Nothing. You leave it all behind.

 

Paul says all we need is food, shelter and clothing -- provision for the maintenance of life (food), and protection from the elements that would destroy life (shelter and clothing). God provides those for us, and with that simple lifestyle man can be content. That is what Jesus meant when he said, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God," (Matt 4:4). It is the knowledge of God that gives contentment; it is fellowship with the Lord of Glory that makes the heart rejoice, giving us peace and a sense of worth and security. That is the true contentment, Paul says.

 

 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.

 

First, it comes in the form of simple temptation. Temptation creates in us a hunger to have the things we do not have. Then, there is another stage. Paul says that those who want to be rich "fall into a snare" - the desire to be rich. It is the love of money, not money, that is the root of all evil. Money is a very necessary commodity in life; it is impossible to get along without using money in one form or another. It is "the love of money" that the Scripture is talking about, the desire to have more and more and more of it, the craving for riches, the constant planning of how to get more money.

 

Paul says that when you fall into temptation, and give way to this lust for more things, you create a snare for yourself. By that, he means that your possessions will soon begin to possess you.

 

Second, the apostle says, such people fall into "senseless and hurtful desires"; damaging things happen to them and to those they love.

 

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.

 

Paul says when you are living to be rich, breathing it every day, working at it as your great objective; it becomes a deep root of evil in your life. You can eliminate some of the problems that it creates but there will be another one along very shortly, because (like a weed) the root is still there, constantly producing evil in your life, creating situations that are disastrous to you and to others.

 

The second thing the love of money causes, the apostle says, is a "wandering from the faith." As the push for wealth takes over everything else, people lose the faith that should be centered in their life. They lose the center of life, the very purpose of living, forgetting the God who is behind all things. The love of money drives us away from the faith.

 

The final result is that such people have "pierced their hearts with many griefs." There comes a day when a final realization dawns on those who give themselves to the amassing of riches -- they finally come to the realization that their entire life has been lived for nothing.

 

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.

 

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, 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.

 

Verses 11-16 contain a very moving passage in which the Apostle Paul addresses young Timothy, left all alone in this great city of Ephesus, a challenging, demanding and dangerous responsibility, to be the apostolic representative to the churches of the city. Anyone who has ever been left alone with a great responsibility and hardly anyone to lean on probably understands the situation Timothy was in. Paul wrote these letters to encourage him; and the Spirit of God has preserved them because they are an encouragement to us who have to face difficulty and demand in our world today.

 

Paul addresses Timothy with an unusual title, calling him, "man of God," That is a remarkable word. In the Old Testament this title was reserved for the prophets, but, in the New Testament, only Timothy is addressed this way. It must have meant a great deal to him to have the Apostle Paul call him "a man of God." That title combines two remarkable concepts:

 

Man, in his weakness, confusion, blindness and failure, and God, in his majesty, his greatness and power. To be "a man of God" is the greatest title that could be bestowed upon Timothy. Every one who has the Spirit of God indwelling him has the desire to claim that title for himself -- to be a man or a woman of God, not a man of the world, not a man of the flesh, but a man of God.

 

What does a man of God do in a world like ours? There are three imperative verbs here that mark what Paul said Timothy ought to do:

 

  • First, "shun all this";
  • Second, "aim at righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness"; and
  • Third, "fight the good fight of the faith."

Those are three verb forms which translated literally are words that all start with the letter "f." This will help us remember them. The first word is, flee; the Christian is to flee certain things. The second word is, follow; follow after, set yourself every day to pursue these qualities. Then the third word is, fight.

 

First, "flee these things." Elsewhere in Scripture we are told to flee certain things. For instance, we are to "flee immorality" always. Peter says, "Flee youthful lusts which war against the soul." (1 Pet 2:11). There are times in our Christian life when the only defense we have is our ability to run and so we are told to flee these things.

 

Paul is here referring to what he has just covered in the previous paragraph in his word about false teachers. Timothy is to flee the three characteristics of false teaching:

 

The first characteristic is conceit -- taking pride in knowledge and relying upon that as a basis for success. If we are going to be men and women of God we are to flee conceit in any form.

 

The second characteristic is "combativeness," the love of controversy. Some people love to get an argument going among the people of a church. This is a mark of a false teacher: he always wants to form a faction around an idea he has that is different than everybody else's. That is to be fled from.

 

The third thing is avarice, greed, the love of money, the hunger for material gain. Paul tells Timothy to flee these things; they will only create difficulty in life.

 

Paul's second imperative, "follow after," is most important. He lists six things which divide into two groups -- the first three relating to God, the second three relating to man.

 

The first thing on the list, righteousness, is very important. Paul says, "Follow after righteousness, godliness, and faith." Some of the commentators take this to be righteous behavior, saying that you are to try to live a righteous life. Paul may also be referring to righteousness, not as behavior, but as belief; that when we came to know Jesus Christ he gave us his righteousness; and that we are no longer guilty, no longer tied to evil, no longer filled with weakness, but made righteous by God.

 

The second word is godliness, a word Paul has used in other places in this letter. It means balanced wholeness -- spirit, soul and body being kept in good health.

 

The third word is fidelity, or faithfulness, i.e., a loyalty to God, an awareness that we have already committed our life to him. When we became Christians we decided to follow God, to obey his word and to walk in his way. That is our basic commitment for the rest of our life; one that we never intend to change.

 

That issues then in three words which have to do with the way Timothy treats people:

The first word is love. "Owe no man anything," Paul says in Romans, "but to love one another," (Rom 13:8a). Here Paul uses the words, "the end of our endeavor is love out of a pure heart and faith unfeigned," (1 Tim 1:5). Above all else in our relationship with people, the sign that we have really been touched by the Spirit of God is that we are becoming loving people.

 

The second word is steadfastness. That means endurance, hanging in there, refusing to give up.

 

Paul says, "Pursue these."

 

The third word for the man or woman of God is fight: "Fight the good fight of faith. Lay hold on eternal life to which you have been called when you made the good confession before many witnesses," Paul says.

 

Paul tells us how to fight the good fight of faith. "Take hold of that eternal life with which you began this Christian experience," he says. This is a parallel passage to that famous word in Ephesians 6, where Paul says, "Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil, and stand in the evil day," (Eph 6:11). To "put on the whole armor of God" and to "take hold of that eternal life" are one and the same thing. That armor is Jesus Christ -- his strength, his wisdom, his love, his gentleness, his peace appropriated in our lives; he is in charge of what is happening to us, and we rest on that fact. That is the way we fight the good fight of faith; that is the way we take hold on life eternal. This is what happened to Timothy.

 

Then Paul reminds him, "Timothy, you started doing that when you confessed Christ. Keep it up. This is what God has called you to."

 

So the man of God does three things in life: He flees certain things; he follows after the qualities listed; and he fights the good fight of faith by taking hold of the provision of Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

Paul closes with a final word about the greatness and majesty of God. There is no more moving passage in all of Scripture than this, where God is set forth in his sovereign might. Verse 15:

 

...and this will be made manifest at the proper time by the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, (1 Tim 6:15)

 

When is Jesus coming? Many are asking that question these days. Are we in the "last days"? Is the "man of sin" about to appear on the earth? Are we facing the great tribulation? Is the antichrist at hand? Are we in the last season?

 

These questions have been asked in every age. Notice what Paul says, "It is in God's hands. The Father has appointed the times and the seasons." The literal phrase is, "It is in its own time." Paul does not tell us whether it is going to be soon or later, but it will be when God is ready.

 

To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen. (1 Tim 6:16b)

 

Do you not think Timothy was greatly strengthened by that word? It is a word to strengthen all our hearts. God has not left us alone; we are not orphans in this 21st century day; he has not left us here to struggle on and work out our little plan all by our own resources. God stands waiting behind the scenes, making himself available. That is the marvel of the encouragement that is provided in Jesus Christ.

 

How Should an Affluent Person Act?

 

 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.

 

The first thing someone who has money ought to remember is, do not let it swell your head; do not let it make you feel you are better than someone else. Do not credit your cleverness, your education and your ability to spot a good investment as the reason you have these riches, because there are a lot of people just as clever, just as well educated who do not have riches. Never forget that being rich does not change you; you are no better than anyone else.

 

The Lord Jesus spoke about "the deceitfulness of riches," (Matt 13:22, Mark 4:19). Riches can deceive. They make you feel you are worth more, that you are better than you really are, because people start treating you that way and you believe it.

 

Then the second thing Paul says is, do not count on your riches. Riches can disappear overnight. This fact has been proven thousands of times throughout history. Jesus said, "Don't put your treasure where moth and rust corrupts and thieves break through and steal," (Matt 6:19-20). It is foolish to count on riches for security, for protection from the dangers and difficulties of life.

 

The third thing Paul says is to remember that it is "God who richly furnishes us with everything to enjoy." God is the giver. Many people forget that. They believe the lie their own heart tells them, that they are responsible for their own wealth; they earned it; they performed better than other people. But it is God who allows that wealth to come. God is the ultimate giver; and he gives, as this verse says, that we might enjoy riches.

 

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.

 

What will survive this life and carry over into the next? Not things (we have seen that), but there is something that will: It is people. When we help change people's lives we are laying up treasures in heaven, and they will be there to meet us when we get there. That is the force of one of the parables of Jesus. He said to use your money to win friends so that when the money fails they will be there to greet you when you get to glory. That is "laying up treasures in heaven," (Matt 6:20).

 

The second result is:

 

...so that they may take hold of the life which is life indeed. (1 Tim 6:19b)

 

That is, in the present -- using wealth in such a way that we are filled with adventure, excitement and joy right now. That is "life indeed," abundant life, a full and satisfying life. There is nothing that can contribute more to that than using money to help people now. That is what Paul is talking about.

 

 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.

 

"Guard what has been deposited with you." What is that? It is the truth as it is set forth in the Scriptures. Timothy is to guard that, to use it rightly. This is why Paul uses the name "Timothy" here. "Timothy" means "he who honors God." Paul is saying, "O Timothy, [O he who honors God] guard what has been entrusted to you."

 

Every one who is a Christian can say God has given us truth, truth never found in any hall of learning or great university in our country or in the world, and yet that truth is the view of reality that is absolutely certain. What a precious thing it is to be able to know the difference between right and wrong, error and truth, and to follow the truth! We "guard" it by using it, by living accordingly, and by not allowing anybody to take it away from us, or to water it down with false representation.

 

That is why Paul says to avoid the counterfeit, because there is in every age something called knowledge which is not knowledge at all. In that 1st century, such knowledge was what was called Gnosticism, a false philosophy that encouraged people to worship angels and to get special revelations for themselves. In our day it is secular humanism which is exalted on every side and claimed to be the way of truth, the way of reality. But it too fulfills the characteristics Paul speaks of here -- "godless chatter," profane babblings, talking endlessly about man, his abilities and his wisdom, but never recognizing God.

 

 

Copyright © 2008, by ToBeLikeHim Ministries

 

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