“Tactics for Life and Ministry from First Timothy”
A Bible Study of 1 Timothy
Tactical Positions for Life and Ministry - 1 Timothy 6
As we enter into the home stretch of Paul's inspired letter to his young protégé in the pastorate Timothy it's good to remember what he has mentioned thus far. In chapter one Paul encouraged Timothy that the target of the commandment of God's word was "love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith" (1:5). Paul spoke in that opening chapter of some who had strayed from God's word. He said the Law of God is the instrument to be used with such unbelievers in hopes that they, like Paul himself, would be convicted of their sin and get right with the Lord. This would be a battle, a war, but Paul exhorted Timothy to "wage the good warfare"; a them we have picked up on for our study of the epistle (1:18).
In chapter two we saw Paul speak of the need for good communications in the ranks of God's people. First we must communicate in prayer to our Father in heaven interceding for the lost as well as getting our battle instructions. And Paul spoke of the need to maintain an orderly rather than chaotic line of communications in the church.
In chapter three Paul spoke of the qualifications for leaders and those serving in the church. He also spoke of the church in a creed identifying it as "the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth" (3:15-16). A church is a church only in that is preaches and teaches God's word and shares the gospel with the lost.
In chapter four Paul passes on the revelation that "the Spirit expressly says that in the latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons" (4:1). Such a statement is easily applied to contemporary times in which we live. Therefore what Paul continues to instruct about being prepared for such times is of utmost relevance for believers throughout history, but especially for us today.
In chapter five Paul spoke of how to conduct oneself in the various relationships we have in the church. If correction needs to be performed it should always be done in love. To illustrate this Paul uses the imagery of family relationships. Family relationships should be characterized by love. In our consideration of this chapter we remembered that through faith in Christ we are adopted into God's family and His family is created at the foot of the cross.
In 1 Timothy 5 Paul gave instructions on how to interact with people inside the church. In 1 Timothy 6 Paul will give instructions on interactions with people outside the church; in society. How should Christian subordinates interact with their non-Christian and Christian superiors? Timothy would need to know how he himself should interact with people in society and how to instruct his congregants to interact with people in this world. In the process of Paul's instructions he very practically includes statements on the worldview position the Christian minister and the people he oversees should have toward the things of this world. Finally Paul concludes his inspired letter with an exhortation to Timothy to "Guard what was committed to your trust." It's a great final chapter to a very practical letter of ministry and life instruction.
Worldview: Be Loving to Your Brethren Even if they are Your Superiors
1 Timothy 6 (NKJV)
Let as many bondservants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and His doctrine may not be blasphemed. 2 And those who have believing masters, let them not despise them because they are brethren, but rather serve them because those who are benefited are believers and beloved. Teach and exhort these things.
The first relationship outside the church usually has to do with employment. Here Paul speaks about slavery. Slavery was a common arrangement in the first century and throughout Biblical times. Paul spoke about the relationship between master and slave in other epistles too (1 Corinthians 7:21; 12:13; Galatians 3:28; Ephesians 6:8-9; Colossians 3:11; Philemon).
The Bible's mention of slavery has been used as a reason for dismissing it as a whole based on its' apparently condoning slavery. Does the Bible condone slavery? The GotQuestions.org website addresses that question in a very clear response worth referring to here:
Question: "Does the Bible condone slavery?"
Answer: There is a tendency to look at slavery as something of the past. But it is estimated that there are today over 27 million people in the world who are subject to slavery: forced labor, sex trade, inheritable property, etc. As those who have been redeemed from the slavery of sin, followers of Jesus Christ should be the foremost champions of ending human slavery in the world today. The question arises, though, why does the Bible not speak out strongly against slavery? Why does the Bible, in fact, seem to support the practice of human slavery?
The Bible does not specifically condemn the practice of slavery. It gives instructions on how slaves should be treated (Deuteronomy 15:12-15; Ephesians 6:9; Colossians 4:1), but does not outlaw slavery altogether. Many see this as the Bible condoning all forms of slavery. What many fail to understand is that slavery in biblical times was very different from the slavery that was practiced in the past few centuries in many parts of the world. The slavery in the Bible was not based exclusively on race. People were not enslaved because of their nationality or the color of their skin. In Bible times, slavery was based more on economics; it was a matter of social status. People sold themselves as slaves when they could not pay their debts or provide for their families. In New Testament times, sometimes doctors, lawyers, and even politicians were slaves of someone else. Some people actually chose to be slaves so as to have all their needs provided for by their masters.
The slavery of the past few centuries was often based exclusively on skin color. In the United States, many black people were considered slaves because of their nationality; many slave owners truly believed black people to be inferior human beings. The Bible condemns race-based slavery in that it teaches that all men are created by God and made in His image (Genesis 1:27). At the same time, the Old Testament did allow for economic-based slavery and regulated it. The key issue is that the slavery the Bible allowed for in no way resembled the racial slavery that plagued our world in the past few centuries.
In addition, both the Old and New Testaments condemn the practice of “man-stealing,” which is what happened in Africa in the 19th century. Africans were rounded up by slave-hunters, who sold them to slave-traders, who brought them to the New World to work on plantations and farms. This practice is abhorrent to God. In fact, the penalty for such a crime in the Mosaic Law was death: “Anyone who kidnaps another and either sells him or still has him when he is caught must be put to death” (Exodus 21:16). Similarly, in the New Testament, slave-traders are listed among those who are “ungodly and sinful” and are in the same category as those who kill their fathers or mothers, murderers, adulterers and perverts, and liars and perjurers (1 Timothy 1:8–10).
Another crucial point is that the purpose of the Bible is to point the way to salvation, not to reform society. The Bible often approaches issues from the inside out. If a person experiences the love, mercy, and grace of God by receiving His salvation, God will reform his soul, changing the way he thinks and acts. A person who has experienced God’s gift of salvation and freedom from the slavery of sin, as God reforms his soul, will realize that enslaving another human being is wrong. He will see, with Paul, that a slave can be “a brother in the Lord” (Philemon 1:16). A person who has truly experienced God’s grace will in turn be gracious towards others. That would be the Bible’s prescription for ending slavery.
In addition to the above response to the question of whether or not Christianity condones slavery I include a response from a dear pastor friend of mine which I believe is a well reasoned explanation of the first century situation:
I meant to respond to this sooner but I did not have time because it’s not a short answer. I just taught on 1Tim 6:1-2 recently (similar to Titus 2:9-10) where Paul instructs slaves to honor their masters and I discussed whether Paul, and the Bible in general, and of course the Holy Spirit inspiring the Bible, advocates for slavery. My take on this is that Paul was addressing a reality that existed for many at the time that he was writing. Estimates vary as to how many slaves were in the Roman Empire, I have read anywhere from 10 million to 60 million (I think David Gudzik says 60 million). Obviously some of these slaves and slave masters became Christians. What were Christian slaves to do now that they were Christian? Now that they were set free by Christ, should they stay or should they go? Should they work less? Should they look down on their heathen masters?
Imagine if Paul’s advice was for the Christian slaves to rebel against their masters. This would have been disastrous for the slaves that rebelled or who were caught escaping etc… The Roman Empire frowned on such a thing. So Paul’s instructions were to be a good witness as slaves and honor their masters. If they had Christian masters (1 Tim 6:2) it could be an uncomfortable situation in church, as master and slave went to church together to worship, so Paul instructs Christian slaves with Christian masters to work all the more harder for their Christian masters.
So was Paul advocating for slavery? I say no, because he did not say a slave must remain a slave. In 1 Corinthians 7:21 he writes that if a slave was called as a slave he was not to be concerned, but if he could become free, then become free. He writes in vs. 22 "For he who is called in the Lord while a slave is the Lord’s freedman. Likewise he who is called while free is Christ’s slave. 23 You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men.”
In other places in Scripture Paul instructs the Christian masters to treat their slaves justly and fairly. (Ephesians 6 and Colossians 4). Of course these verses now apply today to employees and employers. Now I’m not an expert on how slavery ended in Europe but I believe that these scriptures that instructed masters to treat their slaves fairly, along with the New Testament Scriptures on loving our brother and loving our neighbor as our self planted the seeds for the eventual change of opinion towards slavery and its eventual demise in Christian cultures.
It is tragic but true that there were Christians who argued for slavery and used the Bible and I imagine they used verses such as 1 Tim 6:1-2 & Titus 2 to justify slavery in the United States & Europe. I believe they also pointed to the Old Testament where the Jews practiced slavery, and some misinterpreted Genesis 9:25 and applied Noah’s curse on Canaan to races with a darker complexion. Again, I am not an expert on this history but recollect that Christian abolitionists like William Wilberforce counter argued that Jews were told not to oppress their brothers, and the Law provided an opportunity for a slave to go free in the 7th year and in the year of Jubilee. Wilberforce and other Christian abolitionists also argued that as Christians we are ordered to love our brother and love our neighbor as ourselves and the Bible speaks against oppression. These arguments from Scripture eventually won the day.
I’ve also had this question come up recently, about what the Bible teaches on slavery, in light of the racial tensions that have flared up in certain parts of the country, and it has also come up in, of all places, the context of gay marriage. The argument of those who criticize the Bible and Christianity and our stance on Biblical marriage goes something like this: "You Christians used to think slavery was OK, and the Bible endorsed it, now you don’t believe in slavery, so why can’t you change your archaic views on marriage? I heard John Stewart verbalize this argument not too long ago on TV when he was criticizing Mike Huckabee to great applause.
It’s a faulty argument because the Bible does not demand that a Christian be a slave, nor does it say they have to stay a slave. On the contrary if they can get free, get free. But it does demand the Christian to live a godly life. In fact Paul has some sobering words in the verses following 1 Tim 6:1-2 describing anyone who does not agree with the sound words of our Lord and who advocate a doctrine contrary to godliness.
Of course more can be said but I’m trying to keep this short and it’s already gone too long. . . .May God give you words as you share the Gospel and defend the faith.
Your fellow bond slave in Christ,
In light of the above we see that the correct interpretation of the scriptures on slavery addressed an environment where slavery was an accepted part of the economic machinery of the day. Throughout Biblical times we see the justice and mercy of God move people from oppression toward liberty. Therefore what we see in Paul's words and the words of other portions of scripture are inspired revelation from God in the course of the transition from slavery to liberty in Christ. Paul's inspired words to the Corinthians present the perfect balanced counsel to slaves who had accepted Jesus as their Savior. "Were you called as a slave? Do not be concerned about it; but if you can be made free, rather use it. For he who is called in the Lord while a slave is the Lord's freedman. Likewise he who is called while free is Christ's slave. You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men" (1 Corinthians 7:21-23).
While slavery is greatly diminished today, the world is filled with people who are enslaved to their sins and to sinful people. Jesus said, "Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sinis a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed" (John 8:34-36). Just previous to this Jesus provided the way to liberty from the enslavement of sin when He said, "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:31-32). Later in Jesus' High Priestly prayer He leaves no doubt about the source of the truth He is talking about when He prays, "Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth" (John 17:17). The word of God is the pry bar that breaks open the prison doors of sin.
The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). Death can be a fearful thing, an enslaving thing. But Jesus is the Liberator from such fear just as He is the Liberator from the shackles of sin. In Hebrews it states, "Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of the flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and released those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage" (Hebrews 2:14-15).
Slavery takes many dark forms (e.g. 2 Timothy 3:6; Col. 2:8-10). But the glorious truth is that when we accept Jesus as Savior and Lord, no matter the state we are in, even in a dark dungeon or under severe persecution, we can be free in Him. Jesus once quoted the inspired words of Isaiah and said, "The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD" (Luke 4:18-19). It is the gospel of Jesus Christ that sets humanity free.
We see inspired scripture of Paul's letter to master Philemon on behalf of the runaway slave Onesimus begins, "Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, . . . ." Paul then makes a request of Philemon on behalf of the runaway slave saying, "For perhaps he departed for a while for this purpose, that you might receive him forever, no longer as a slave but more than a slave - a beloved brother, especially to me but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord" (Philemon 1 and 15-16). Even then Paul was following the leading of the Spirit to broker a release from slavery. History reveals that those inspired words along with other portions of scripture inspired and spearheaded the abolition of slavery. Are you a slave of sin? You can be freed by receiving Jesus as your Savior as a free gift of God's grace. Just put your faith in Jesus and your chains will fall off.
Paul addresses slaves who are "under the yoke" or who are slaves of unbelieving masters. The term "masters" (Greek despotes) means lord of the house, master, ruler, owner. Despotes expresses a position of total authority. We get the English term despots from this word. Paul uses the phrase "under the yoke" to refer to unbelieving masters. Unbelieving masters would be more likely to be less than loving in their treatment of their slaves. Of course we can make allowances for exceptions. Some unbelieving masters were possibly kind toward their slaves; even more than some believing masters. But in general a master who is born again with the love of Christ poured into their heart would be more inclined to treat their slaves in a loving way than an unbelieving master would.
Paul's mention of slavery in 1 Timothy is different from his other mentions in that he only addresses the attitude of the slave and does not include any instructions to masters. There may have been an existing reason for not mentioning any instructions to masters. There may have been a particular problem in the attitude of slaves toward their masters that Paul was addressing to Timothy in this letter. We do not know. What we do know is that Paul's emphasis is on the attitude of slaves toward their masters whether their masters are unbelieving or believing.
To the slaves of unbelieving masters Paul says to count such masters "as worthy of all honor." "Worthy" (Greek axios) means worthy, fitting, deserving, good enough, suitable for. Paul says it's suitable and fitting that unbelieving masters be given "all honor" (Greek pases times). "All" (pases) means every, everything, all. "Honor" (Greek times) means recognition, respect, value, honor, price. Even though a master did not know the Lord Jesus as Savior, a believing slave was to respect them and see them as valuable in the Lord's sight. The unbelieving master was of value and to be viewed in such a way because he was a soul to be saved. Because of this the believing slave should not be proud or resent his position but be respectful and honoring.
What is the incentive for honoring even unbelieving masters? Paul says, "so that the name of God and His doctrine may not be blasphemed." Our behavior reflects on God and the word we talk. Our talk can be nullified by our walk. Our "rights" are not as important as the name of God and His word's honor. If need be we should suffer in silence for the sake of the name of the Lord and the truth of His gospel and word. That may not be popular, especially in our day and age, but that is Paul's instruction which he in a few lines will say to Timothy to "Teach and exhort these things."
Paul then addresses those "who have believing masters." He says those with believing masters should not "despise" (Greek kataphroneitosen: Present/Active/Imperative of kataphroneo). Kataphroneo means despise or think against. It means to think down on. The form of this term emphasizes the absolute necessity of not doing it. Slaves who have believing masters should not despise them because they are brothers in the Lord. Their relationship in the Lord should take priority over any jealousy or resentment connected to their position toward one another.
Instead of resentment and or jealousy slaves of believing masters should "rather serve them because those who are benefitted are believers and beloved." The phrase "let them serve" (Greek douleuetosin : Present/Active/Imperative of douleuo) means you must serve them, you must be subject to and obey them. And the reason for this is "those who are benefitted are believers and beloved." Paul points to the mutual benefit of the believing master who would benefit from the sincere joyful effort of the believing slave and the slave who would benefit from the benevolent kind care of the believing master. Both the master and the slave were "beloved" (Greek agapetos ) or esteemed and beloved ones, dear friends. The machinery of master and slave relationships ran best when lubricated with Christlike love. That is true of any and all relationships.
A slave may not like being in a subordinate position to another master-brother, but love between brothers takes priority over positional privilege. A believing master should not be considered sinful or an enemy simply because of their position. They should be considered brothers in the faith and worthy of a brother slaves love. It's true that sometimes brothers in the faith don't act in accord to their profession, but love is due all brothers no matter what. Peter expressed a good word that could be applied to such situations. "And above all things have fervent love for one another, for 'love will cover a multitude of sins'" (1 Peter 4:8).
Paul emphasizes the import of this teaching to slaves with the words, "Teach and exhort these things." How can we "Teach and exhort these things" today? Given the economic slavery that the Bible mentions the most relevant application in principle of what Paul states here about slaves would be the employer-employee relationship. And in such relationships whether we work for a n unbelieving or believing employer we should show them respect and honor and in the case where we are blessed to have a believing employer we should treat them as beloved.
Worldview: Be Godly not Greedy
1 Timothy 6:3–10 (NKJV) - 3 If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness, 4 he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, 5 useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself. 6 Now godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8 And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. 9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
The master-slave or employer-employee relationship is the context in which Paul now goes deeper into the root of problems in such relationships. At the heart of problems between those in authority and those who work for them is pride and greed. Some view verses 3-10 separately from Paul's teaching on slaves and their masters. While Paul may be giving a final word on those who teach falsely and all that he has exhorted and encouraged toward Timothy in the first five chapters of his letter to Timothy, we cannot forget entirely the context of what Paul is teaching on which is Master-Slave/Employer-Employee relations. The bottom line in all of what Paul states in these next verses is greed leads to dissatisfaction, godliness leads to satisfaction.
3 If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness,
Paul addresses the potential and possibility that some would not consent or agree with what he has just taught on slaves and their masters. He views his teaching on the topic as "wholesome" (Greek hygianino) or sound in health, uncorrupted, wholesome or here leading to a healthy slave-master (employee-employer) relationship. Paul refers to "even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ" as the basis for his teaching. Jesus Himself stated He came to serve and give His life a ransom for many. He said that greatness was connected to serving (Mark 10:43-45). And lastly Paul connects his teaching with being in line with "godliness" (Greek eusebeia) or the respected way of godliness and piety towards God.
Godliness is living in step with the nature of God as revealed in scripture. Godliness is imitating God in life (e.g. Ephesians 5:1ff.). The first of the four Ten Commandments are what godliness is. Godliness is loving God with all your heart soul mind and strength (cf. Matthew 22:37-38). Righteousness is living in a way that does no harm to your neighbor on the horizontal plane of humanity. Righteousness is defined by the lasts six of the Ten commandments. It is loving your neighbor as yourself (cf. Matthew 22:39-40).
4 he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, 5 useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself.
What is at the root of animosity between slaves and their masters, employees and their employers and those who generally don't follow the truth of scripture? Paul gives us three reasons for animosity between those who work together.
First, pride is at the root of deviating from healthy, Christ-centered godly scriptural teaching. "Proud" (Greek typhoo) means inflated with conceit, high minded toward oneself, lifted up with pride, blinded, puffed up. It means literally to raise a smoke or wrap in a mist. In other words those who don't hold to Paul's wholesome Christ-like godly teaching are putting up a smokescreen in an attempt to gain an advantage over others.
Second, spiritual ignorance is at the root of deviating from healthy, Christ-centered godly scriptural teaching. Paul says those who depart from scripture are "knowing nothing" (Greek medes epistamenos) or not knowing, not comprehending, devoid of understanding. Whenever you depart from or deviate from scripture you are crossing over into a realm of ignorance. We may be able to formulate scientific explanations and inventions but their eternal applications are lost when we deviate from God's revealed truth. Science has concocted ways to treat the human body in safer and safer and more effective ways, but without the truth of God's word innocents like the unborn children in the womb are murdered. There is willful ignorance in such matters that the culprits will one day be held accountable for. But if we want truth and eternal realities we need to operate within the parameters of God's word.
Third, being "obsessed with disputes and arguments over words" is at the root of deviating from healthy, Christ-centered godly scriptural teaching. "Obsessed" (Greek noseo) means literally to be sick in mind or have an unhealthy interest in, unhealthy obsession with. "Disputes" (Greek zetesis) refers to debating, questioning, controversy. This is where a person is an argument wanting to happen. When we step outside the parameters of God's word we enter an arena of speculation that those obsessed with debating get entangled in. Questions and debate are important. But a person can have so many points that they become like a porcupine, unable to get close to anyone and others cannot get close to them. "Arguments over words" (Greek logomachia) refers to strife over words, contending over words, to wrangle and dispute over empty trivial matters. This is a further description of those who nitpick and argue over inconsequential words and issues. The word of God is certain and clear. Those who deviate from it or argue over clear statements of scriptural truth are those who twist and bend scripture to their own devices. Such behavior is cultish.
What is the result or consequence of departing from healthy, Christ-centered godly scriptural teaching?
First, "envy" is the result of deviating from healthy, Christ-centered godly scriptural teaching. "Envy" (Greek phthonos) is ill will, jealousy, desire to harm others because they have something you don't have. This flows out of a material based worldview.
Second, "strife" is the result of deviating from healthy, Christ-centered godly scriptural teaching. "Strife" (Greek eris) means a quarrel, wrangling, contention, discord. Strife and discord flow from the envy that is rooted in a materialistic temporal this world type of worldview.
Third, "reviling" is the result of deviating from healthy, Christ-centered godly scriptural teaching. "Reviling" (Greek blasphemia) is slander, detraction, injuring others with talk about them, degrading another's good name. Reviling, speaking negatively about others in the fellowship and its consequent division is the result of departing from sound healthy scriptural teaching.
Fourth, "evil suspicions" are the result of deviating from healthy, Christ-centered godly scriptural teaching. "Evil" (Greek poneros) refers to hurtful, diseased, morally derelict, malicious, wicked, evil, depraved, devilish, sinful behavior. "Suspicions" (Greek hyponoia) refers to surmising or suspicions not based on fact. When a person deviates from the sound teaching of scripture they enter the devil's playground where they become susceptible to his spiritually and relationally diseased thoughts and suspicions. Cross the line outside of God's protective word and you enter a minefield of hurt, immorality, sin and the works of the devil that are sure to harm you.
Fifth, "useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain" is the result of deviating from healthy, Christ-centered godly scriptural teaching. "Useless wranglings" (Greek paradiatribe) which means uselessly going around and around an issue without any resolution, meddlesomeness, empty business, obstinate contests, mutual irritations, constant friction. These are the conversations that tire one out and sap the power of the Spirit from people. Paul describes men whose minds are "corrupt" (Greek diaphtheiro) or thoroughly rotted, ruined, utterly decayed. He says they are "destitute" (Greek apostereo) those who steal by fraud and deception. The result of departing from scripture is that it opens a person up to spiritual rottenness and having precious spiritual truth stolen from you.
6 Now godliness with contentment is great gain.
Paul now provides the solution to envy and greed of material things. He shares what the true source of "great gain" (Greek porismos megas or profit and dividend that is great). Paul says the first part of "great gain" is godliness. Paul has already mentioned being in line with "godliness" (vs. 3 - eusebeia - piety, living in step with the nature of God). Here Paul builds on godliness adding "contentment"(Greek autarkeia) or contentedness, a perfect condition of life in which no aid or support is needed, sufficiency of necessities, a mind contented with its lot. That word is rich and full. It means having all you need to satisfy you. If you want to be satisfied godliness or loving God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength is the first step. The second step is being content by faith in your relationship with God. Of course we are able to have that relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ as offered freely by God's grace. And that relationship with God in Christ is what will satisfy us. Money and lusting after material things others have will not satisfy us. Envying others only leads to discontent and division in the Body of Christ. Searching outside of God as He has revealed Himself in Christ in His word only leads to emptiness. But when you focus on God and love Him supremely, that leads to satisfaction. That's a beautiful place to be in mind and life.
7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
Paul has made an incredibly powerful statement about finding satisfaction in our relationship with God in Christ. Now he is going to substantiate it. The first thing Paul says is, "For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out." "Nothing" (Greek oudeis) means nothing at all, no not one, absolutely nothing. We come into this world and are born with nothing; naked. And we leave this world in death the same way. Material things are temporal. We can't take them with us. There are no U-Haul trailers hitched to hearses.
Our problem is that we get caught up in the accumulation of wealth. Humanity, in varying degrees, are hoarders. Furthermore, humanity depends on material things for security. We think if we have money in the bank, a planned and paid for retirement, a paid mortgage and car that we are secure. But such things can't protect you from illness, natural disaster, and other trials. Materials things are not dependable. God alone is the One reliable Person you can count on. And that is the underlying implication here. Instead of putting faith in temporary unreliable material and earthly things we should find our contentment in godliness.
8 And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.
Paul states all that we really need for contentment is "food and clothing." These are necessities of life. Food to feed our body and clothes to protect us from the weather and to maintain modesty. Food can become a source of dissatisfaction when we depend on its preparation, presentation, and price. Clothes can also become a source of preoccupation when one becomes obsessed with keeping up with worldly trends. Food and clothing are necessities that keep us from being distracted from godliness in which our satisfaction is based. But food and clothing can become a distraction from our satisfaction if we don't keep them in their proper place.
9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition.
Paul now uses some very descriptive words to describe the dangers of living for material gain. "Desire" (Greek boulomai) is to focus on something, to set one's affections on something. Here the something is "to be rich." "To be rich" (Greek plouteo) means to be wealthy, to be rich. When your focus is on the accumulation of wealth Paul says it leads to "fall into temptation." "Fall" (Greek empipto) means entrapped, to fall among robbers, fall into one's power. Desiring to be rich is enslaving. "Temptation" (Greek peirasmos) is a point of decision, a trial, a test. The implication is that focusing on trying to get rich leads a person away from the Lord because it is accompanied with sidetracking temptations. This is corroborated by the word "snare" (Greek pagis) which means a trap, fastened by a noose or notch, a snare in which a bird is entangled and caught. These entanglements are "foolish" (Greek anoetos) or unintelligent, sensual, unwise, "harmful" (Greek blaberos) or hurtful and will cause injury, "lusts" (Greek epithymia) longings, lusts, cravings, desires for what is forbidden.
Such lusts "drown" (Greek bythizo) men meaning to sink, plunge in the deep, drown. These lusts drown men in "destruction" (Greek olethros) or ruin, punishment, sudden destruction. "Perdition" (Greek apoleia) is ruin or loss - spiritual or material, waste, damnable, pernicious. Keep in mind that Paul is not speaking of those who are rich or wealthy but of those who are seeking and lusting to become wealthy.
10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
Paul's further substantiation is a statement that has been much misinterpreted and misunderstood. Money is in and of itself neutral and not evil. The culprit Paul points to here is "the love of money." "Love of money" is a single Greek term philargyria and speaks of an unwarranted attachment to money and obtaining more of it. The idea here is making a mistress of money, having an inordinate affection for money, living for money.
The love of money is at the root of literally "all evil." Money is the instrument with which we purchase and get what we want. The more money we have the more "things" we can buy and the more people we think we can control. The love of money is a "root" (Greek rhiza) or gives birth to all kinds of evil. Paul elaborates that the love of money is the reason some have "strayed from the faith." "Strayed" (Greek apoplanao) means to be led astray, to lead away from truth into error, to be seduced into error. The love of money leads many away from the Lord. Love for money and "greediness" (Greek oregomai) to reach out for, to stretch out for, to overextend for something go hand in hand.
We live in a debtor nation where most people have been bit by the greedy bug and are overextended financially and enslaved in debt. This leads to all kinds of warped efforts and views of life. It distracts us from our walk with the Lord. Paul describes the outcome this way, that those caught in such a trap "pierced themselves through with many sorrows." "Pierced" (Greek peripeiro) means literally impaled or pierced through with a sharp pointed stick. "Sorrows" (Greek odyne) refers to grief, consuming grief, pain, sorrow. Such sorrow may be the consequence of having departed from the faith and then being wracked by a guilty conscience. It may also be the myriad negative consequences that come with overextending oneself financially or in pursuit of money.
Worldview: Be Pursuing a Good Confession
11 But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 13 I urge you in the sight of God who gives life to all things, and before Christ Jesus who witnessed the good confession before Pontius Pilate, 14 that you keep this commandment without spot, blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ’s appearing, 15 which He will manifest in His own time, He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power. Amen.
Paul contrasts those caught up in greed with Timothy who he refers to as "you, O man of God." I wonder how Timothy felt when he read those words from his spiritual mentor Paul. I bet it made his heart leap for joy. "Paul sees me as a man of God!" Everyone man should seek to be seen as a "man of God." Every woman, though not specifically mentioned here by Paul who is writing to Timothy, should seek to be seen as a "woman of God." A man or woman of God is one who has "the good confession." Paul mentions a good confession twice in these verses (6:12 and 13). "Good" (Greek kalos) is something of value, beautiful, good literally or morally, virtuous. "Confession" (Greek homologia) is a profession, who we are in reality, who we are seen as by others. There is a twofold action to being assessed as a man or woman of God with a good confession. There is a push and pull, a leaving and cleaving, a casting off and putting on, a negative and a positive.
Paul says, "flee these things." "Flee" (Greek pheugo) means to run away from, to shun, to escape from, seek safety from, to avoid something that is abhorrent (6:11a). A man of God with a good confession flees certain things. What are the "things" Paul advises Timothy to flee from? Based on the context of chapter six we can say that we should flee the following in pursuit of being a godly man with a good confession.
First, a man of God with a good confession flees any attitude or action that would dishonor the name of God and or His doctrine (6:1). This is what Paul instructs Timothy in regard to the relations between slaves and their masters.
Second, a man of God with a good confession flees any unloving behavior (6:2). Paul advised Timothy to tell slaves to love their believing masters. We should flee any unloving behavior and pursue a loving response in all situations.
Third, a man of God with a good confession flees any unwholesome words or words not in line with Christ and scriptural teaching (6:3). Any words that don't promote spiritual health and build people up spiritually should be cast aside and run away from.
Fourth, a man of God with a good confession flees pride, spiritual ignorance, unnecessary arguing that cause envy, strife, reviling, evil devilish suspicions, useless wrangling, rotten thinking, debates not based firmly in God's word (6:4-5a). The godly man knows when a conversation is leading nowhere and isn't edifying. From such useless debates he should flee.
Fifth, a man of God with a good confession flees any idea that godliness is "a means of gain" (6:5b). Any thought of fleecing the flock of God or using godliness for self promotion of getting something from others should be fled away from.
Sixth, a man of God with a good confession flees from the accumulation and preoccupation with earthly wealth (6:6-10). Paul is very clear in his words to Timothy, loving money births all kinds of soul rotting evils. Run away from any love of money! Be satisfied with living a simple live where you trust God to provide your food and clothing. Run away from greed because the end of the greedy is a painful piercing of regret.
Now Paul says to flee such things, that is the negative. Now what positive things does he instruct Timothy to pursue. "Pursue" (Greek dioko) means give yourself to the pursuit of, press forward for, be willing to suffer to attain (6:11b). What does Paul instruct the man of God Timothy to pursue?
First, the man of God with a good confession pursues "righteousness" (6:11c). "Righteousness" (Greek dikaiosyne) is right standing with God and people. Our right standing with God begins with receiving Jesus as Savior by faith as offered by the free gracious gift of God. But it also involves living rightly toward our fellow people. Righteousness here broadly speaking is living a life of justice free from bigotry and living a gospel oriented life.
Second, the man of God with a good confession pursues "godliness" (6:11d). "Godliness" (Greek eusebeia) means reverence and respect toward God. It means loving God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. This is what we should pursue. We should seek to give more and more of ourselves to God.
Third, the man of God with a good confession pursues "faith" (6:11e). "Faith" (Greek pistis) refers to the moral conviction and trust in God's truth and His truthfulness. The man of God should pursue a ever deepening trust in God throughout the span of his life. He should seek to follow the leading of the Lord learning the difference between presumption and steps of faith.
Fourth, the man of God with a good confession pursues "love" (6:11f). "Love" (Greek agape) is of course what followers of Jesus are known and recognized by (John 13:34-35). All the man of God with a confession does should be motivated by the love of Christ (2 Cor. 5:14-21). The fruit of whatever the man of God does should be love (Gal. 5:22-24). If there is anything the man of God should prioritize as something to pursue it is knowing and living in and growing in the love of Christ.
Fifth, the man of God with a good confession pursues "patience" (6:11g). "Patience" (Greek hypomone) refers to cheerful hopeful endurance, constancy, perseverance, patient continuance. Patience is steadfastly trusting God to be faithful when there isn't necessarily tangible evidence that He is working. Patience is waiting for God to fulfill His plans in and through us even though His timetable may involve more time that we hope for or had hoped for.
Sixth, the man of God with a good confession pursues "gentleness" (6:11h). "Gentleness" (Greek praotes) is humble meekness, strength under control, one not easily upset, patience in practice.
Seventh, the man of God with a good confession is willing to fight (6:12a). Paul exhorts Timothy, "Fight the good fight of faith." "Fight" (Greek agonidzomai) means struggle, contest, compete for a prize, labor with all you've got, strive, fight to the end. the idea Paul likely had in mind was of an Olympian athlete who spends themselves in pursuit of their medal.
Life and ministry as a follower of Jesus is not for the faint of heart. We have an enemy within which is the sinful nature; the flesh; we have an enemy without which is the world. And we have an enemy the devil who prowls around looking to deceive and devour us at every opportunity. The devil is relentless. The man of God does not allow himself to be drawn into a fight out of pride or reasons other than the will of God. But he is ready to fight when called upon by His Commander Jesus. The man of God with a good testimony does not shrink away from conflict. The man of God is willing to fight as the Lord leads him to; as the Lord commands him to. The man of God is not a coward but is courageous. He is not deterred by strength or lack of strength of numbers. He is not afraid of being outnumbered because His Commander specializes in the impossible and working victory in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. He is willing to be spent in the cause of Christ. He is willing to fight and expend every ounce of strength for the purpose of the Lord. Blood, sweat and tears are part of the godly life. The godly man with a good confession is willing to die on the battlefield for his Lord.
Eighth, the man of God with a good confession pursues and lays hold of "eternal life" and makes his confession "in the presence of many witnesses" (6:12b)."Lay hold" (Greek epilambainomai) means take hold of, grasp, be concerned with, take an interest in, to seize. The life priority for the man of God with a good confession is to know God and make Him known. Paul said of Timothy "lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses." Eternal life is what God calls us to and it is the gospel of eternal life that we confess before as many people as possible in life so that they too can be given opportunity to experience it.
Ninth, the man of God with a good confession pursues a life of Christ-likeness (6:13). Paul charges Timothy, "I urge you in the sight of God who gives life to all things, and before Christ Jesus who witnessed the good confession before Pontius Pilate." Paul reminds Timothy for whom he is living. God is watching. And Paul reminds Timothy Who he is following in the steps of; "Christ Jesus who witnessed the good confession before Pontius Pilate." Jesus gave His life, the man of God Timothy should be willing to do the same in this fight for the souls of humanity. The man of God is always mindful of "What would Jesus do?" And he acts accordingly, no matter the cost.
Tenth, the man of God with a good confession is obedient (6:14-15a). Paul exhorts Timothy to, "that you keep this commandment without spot, blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ's appearing." Timothy and any man of God with a good confession is obedient to God's word and commandments and is committed to do so until He returns. This also implies a man of God is vigilant looking for and expecting the return of Jesus. That Jesus delays or that He doesn't come when we expect is not a deterrent for the man of God. That is because he understands, "He will manifest in His own time." He sets the time not us. Only He knows the time of His return. We labor and spend ourselves no matter the time of HIs appearing.
Lastly, the man of God with a good confession is mindful and heart full of who he serves (6:15b-16.) Paul punctuates his exhortation to Timothy with some of the most glorious descriptive doxology words about God: " He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power. Amen."
God is "the blessed" (Greek makarios) the supremely blessed, favored fortunate, happiness. We sometimes think of God as scowling or perpetually serious but to be blessed involves joy and happiness. God is the Originator of happiness and only in Him can true happiness and joy be discovered and experienced.
God is "the only Potentate." "Only" (Greek monos) means one and only, alone, no other, by themselves. "Potentate" (Greek dynastes) refers to great authority, mighty, ruler, prince, high officer. God alone is the final Authority in all proceedings in His created universe. Truly He alone as the "only Potentate" is the only Sovereign of the universe. All plans and purposes run by Him.
He is "the King of kings and Lord of lords." He is the highest King and the greatest Lord of all. This is the only place in the writings of Paul where this phrase occurs. Since it also appears in the inspired writings of Paul perhaps it was creedal and a way of referring to God in the churches (compare Revelation 17:14; 19:16; and Deut. 10:17; Psalm 136:2-3).
God is He "who alone has immortality." God has no beginning or end. He always was. When defending and explaining God as the Creator in contrast to the Big Bang theory of the evolution of the universe someone might ask "Well, when was God created?" The answer is, "God wasn't created. He always was." The debate boils down to believing in dirt or believing in God the Sovereign Creator of the universe.
God is "dwelling in unapproachable lift, whom no man has seen or can see." Moses saw the back of God (Exodus 33 and 34). Jesus is God in the flesh (John 1 and Hebrews 1). But God dwells in essence in light that no mere mortal could see and survive. Only in our glorified bodies are we suited to dwell with God and even then we wonder what might happen in the presence of Almighty God.
It is to this Supreme God of scripture that Paul says, "to whom be honor and everlasting power. Amen." God is Sovereign and Supreme and to Him alone should we give honor and attribute everlasting never ending power (cf. also Ephesians 1:19; 6:10; Colossians 1:11). WE can only pray to comprehend the depths of our Almighty Saving Gracious Holy God (cf. Ephesians 1:15-23; 3:14-21).
Worldview: Be Rich in Good Works
17 Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. 18 Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, 19 storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.
Paul now gives some last words to be passed on to the rich and wealthy. Those blessed with wealth should not be "haughty" (Greek hypselophroneo) or lofty in mind or their thinking, arrogant. They shouldn't think their wealth is evidence of a greater blessing from God. They shouldn't fall prey to trusting in their "uncertain riches" rather in the God who provided the riches. They should only put their faith in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy."
Instead they should see their wealth and riches as a greater responsibility. The wealthy or those with material resources should instead "do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life." They are to be heavenly minded and invest in eternal things; things that pay eternal dividends.
Worldview: Be on Guard
20 O Timothy! Guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and idle babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge—21 by professing it some have strayed concerning the faith.
Grace be with you. Amen.
Lastly Paul exhorts "O Timothy!" as though shouting or raising his voice for emphasis. He says, "Guard what was committed to your trust." "Guard" (Greek phylasso) means keep watch over, guard, defend, protect, keep safe, obey. Timothy would guard assaults against the pillars of truth of God's church. He would guard all that had been entrusted to him by God through the ministry of Paul his mentor. He was to be "avoiding the profane and idle babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge" that "by professing it some have strayed concerning the faith." In other words, Paul closes by reminding one last time of those he had referred to previously in his letter, those who have strayed away from the faith.
The other day I was at my special spot where i meet with the Lord. It is by the ocean; a place of quiet and reflection. As I was prayerfully going through God's word I came to Psalm 103 and my heart rejoiced. That psalm and all it says about our Lord is an incredible piece of God's revelation. I include it here as a fitting part of the conclusion of this great first epistle of Paul to Timothy. Get alone with the Lord. Read and take it in prayerfully. Enjoy!
A Psalm Of David.
1 Bless the Lord, O my soul;
And all that is within me, bless His holy name!
2 Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget not all His benefits:
3 Who forgives all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases,
4 Who redeems your life from destruction,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,
5 Who satisfies your mouth with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
6 The Lord executes righteousness
And justice for all who are oppressed.
7 He made known His ways to Moses,
His acts to the children of Israel.
8 The Lord is merciful and gracious,
Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.
9 He will not always strive with us,
Nor will He keep His anger forever.
10 He has not dealt with us according to our sins,
Nor punished us according to our iniquities.
11 For as the heavens are high above the earth,
So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;
12 As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
13 As a father pities his children,
So the Lord pities those who fear Him.
14 For He knows our frame;
He remembers that we are dust.
15 As for man, his days are like grass;
As a flower of the field, so he flourishes.
16 For the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
And its place remembers it no more.
17 But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting
On those who fear Him,
And His righteousness to children’s children,
18 To such as keep His covenant,
And to those who remember His commandments to do them.
19 The Lord has established His throne in heaven,
And His kingdom rules over all.
20 Bless the Lord, you His angels,
Who excel in strength, who do His word,
Heeding the voice of His word.
21 Bless the Lord, all you His hosts,
You ministers of His, who do His pleasure.
22 Bless the Lord, all His works,
In all places of His dominion.
Bless the Lord, O my soul!
The final words of Paul to Timothy are "Grace be with you. Amen." It would only be by God's grace that Timothy could press on and continue to be the man of God Paul knew him to be, make the good confession, and fight the good fight of faith.